Before I started reading Refiguring Bodies by Elizabeth Grosz, I was watching CNN. One of the top stories was entitled “Slutwalk.” I found that to be very intriguing since the term did not seem to be politically correct.  An organizer for the protest against sexual violence proclaimed “Its not about the name, its about the message.” The first paragraph of Grosz reminded me of the Slutwalk protest.  “The body has remained a conceptual blind spot in both mainstream Western philosophical though and contemporary feminist theory. Feminism has uncritically adopted many philosophical assumptions regarding the role of the body in social, political, cultural, psychical, and sexual life and, in this sense at least, can be regarded as complicit in the misogyny that characterizes Western reason.”

The global movement was sparked by a comment made by a Canadian police officer to a group of college women after a rash of sexual assaults on their campus that in order to not be victimized they should stop dressing like sluts. A diverse group of women marched down the streets of New York chanting “Stand up! Fight back! Stop the violence!” in solidarity. Many protesters wore “provocative clothing” or lingerie during their march. A protester declared that rape has been used as a form of torture and genocide and that clothing is not an excuse to rape an individual. You don’t have to look like Pamela Anderson to be a victim of rape. An organizer’s reply to the officer’s ignorant comment was as follows, “Not only was this a ridiculous and inaccurate statement (women wearing trousers get raped. So do women wearing tracksuits, t-shirts, jeans, jumpers, skiing jackets and burqas), it was incredibly damaging to women around the world, painting them as perpetrators — rather than victims — of a disgusting, violent crime.” Another protestor said that she was “marching because her best friend still thinks that her rape was her fault, because the authorities never looked into it, and because it will always haunt her. And that is not OK.” And another remarked: “We live in a society that ranges from publicly shaming the victim of an honor-rape to insinuating that a rape victim may have somehow ‘led her attacker on’ through her clothing or demeanor.” There is much truth in these statements and that is disgusting to say the least.

“SLUTWALK” Video: http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2011/10/09/baldwin-ny-slut-walk.cnn

The amount of rapes that go unreported are astounding. As stated in class, IU has a very low conviction rate in rape cases. According to the annual Security Report with Crime Statistics by IUPD, there were less than 30 sex offenses both forcible and non-forcible reported to IUPD or BPD in 2010. It would be hard to convict offenders if the offenses go unreported.  However the judicial system also brings difficulty when trying to convict rapist. Only recently, did the law change in favor of women.  Before 1974, the law required corroboration. Many men (who were also law makers) thought that it was abhorrent that a man could be convicted solely on the unsupported testimony of a woman. The law upheld the man and the man’s honor. Unlike robbery or burglary, when a woman has been raped they may never get over it. Women are entitled to special considerations by the judicial system.

A rape case that was close to my hometown as well as extremely disturbing was the case of Katie Autry. She  was raped, sodomized, beaten, stabbed and left to burn in her dorm room at Western Kentucky University by two men, Lucas Goodrum and Stephen Soules. Both were indicted on several charges but only Soules was convicted.(He was a minority!) Lucas Goodrum, the son of a very wealthy man, was acquitted of all charges. If it weren’t for the extremities of this case and the resulting death of Katie, I do not believe that this case would have made it to trial since she was supposedly drunk and knew the two men.

Other cases that I found to be upsetting were the cases of Marguax- an IU student, Jeanne Clery and Laura Dunn. According to NPR, their stories are far too common for many women who are sexually assaulted on their college campuses. Another far too common  story is the failure of universities to investigate a criminal matter such as rape and then punish it. The Center for Public Integrity and NPR News Investigation found that colleges almost never expel men who are found responsible for sexual assault- only 10 to 25% of perpetrators are expelled. The U.S Department of Education has failed to aggressively monitor and regulate campus response to sexual assault. They have the power to fine universities and to find that a school has violated a law that prevents discrimination against women. Colleges are also ill-equipped to handle cases of sexual assault. In most cases alcohol is involved and prosecutors are reluctant to take on these cases causing the cases to fall to campus judicial systems to sort through conflicting claims of whether the sex was consensual or forced. Campus discipline systems do not enforce criminal laws and lack the ability to collect evidence, interview suspects and call witnesses.

IU Rape Case: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124052847

Dunn Rape Case:  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124001493&ps=rs

Moreover,  both cases involved alcohol and acquaintances. Both women were raped in their dorm rooms. The victims were in and out of consciousness thus “discrediting” their accounts without physical evidence or witnesses. It then becomes a case of he said she said where the man’s word is worth more. Both women were reluctant to report the assault and were discouraged from further prosecution by local police. Both women were embarrassed. Both did not get the justice or protection they deserved. Not only should the men who assault women feel deeply ashamed but the men and women who uphold our judicial system that fails to protect women from violent crimes. These cases further prove the need to further the women’s rights movement as well as the feminist movement.

Melissa Brake

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