The Anti-Rape Amendment

I have thought long and hard about Al Franken’s Anti-Rape Amendment.  When 30 senators voted against the amendment I thought to myself that there had to be an acceptable reason why. I wanted to do my research before simply reacting to this seemingly incomprehensible choice on the part of these senators.  Was there something in the language of the amendment that may be objectionable or unfair?  Was there some detail we all may have missed?

Let’s look at the Anti-Rape Amendment:

None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any existing or new Federal contract if the contractor or a subcontractor at any tier requires that an employee or independent contractor, as a condition of employment, sign a contract that mandates that the employee or independent contractor performing work under the contract or subcontract resolve through arbitration any claim under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or any tort related to or arising out of sexual assault or harassment, including assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, or negligent hiring, supervision, or retention.

Seems pretty fair right? It’s not a far stretch to hold any company accountable if they should expect to receive billions of our tax dollars. I heard one opposing Senator remark how this unfairly singles out Haliburton? Singles out yes. Unfairly no. Not in light of how they treated  the gang rape of one of their employees, Jamie Leigh Jones.  We don’t want to do business, much less protect any business that falsely imprisons and threatens termination to an employee that was just gang raped while working on their jobsite.  These Senators are condoning this behavior and providing no protection for us, the people they apparently don’t represent anymore.

Recently Senator David Vitter was confronted by one of his constituents, a survivor of rape, on why he chose to inexplicably oppose this piece of legislation.

First Vitter told the woman how supportive he was of rape cases getting prosecuted “to the fullest extent of the law.”  Then he assumed the woman was simply an Obama supporter as he tried to deflect her question into an attack on Obama.  But of course the woman told him simply, “But i’m not asking Obama.  I’m asking you.”  As she should have considering Senator Vitter is her representative in government.  Then towards the end, Vitter simply walks away. I personally have become a little bit burned out on Town Hall Meeting dramatics of late, but in this case I can see why the woman got upset by his behavior.

He didn’t have an explanation. He didn’t want to answer her question. So he did the most self-serving thing a politician can do. Walk away.

When you walk away from a constituent who was calmly asking you a question that pretty much indicates that you are more worried about looking bad politically in front of a video camera than any concern for your responsibility as an elected Senator.

We are still waiting for an real explanation for why these representatives of ours voted to continue to allow our government to do business with companies that force their employees to sign away their rights IF they are raped and/or assaulted as their employees. 

So imagine just for a second, that you were gang raped by your coworkers, then you are imprisoned in a shipping container.  Denied food, water, or medical treatment.  You are only released after slipping a message to your local Senator.  Then you are threatened with termination by your boss if you decide to receive medical treatment afterwards.  On top of all of this, your assailants are never taken to justice and you have no recourse whatsoever.  Oh, and when someone tries to change the law to make sure something like this doesn’t happen to anyone else, 30 Senators vote it down because it doesn’t give Haliburton a fair shake.

These representatives were playing politics when they should have done the right thing.  Now the next time an employee of a government contractor is raped and assaulted and is given no recourse, we’ll remember who walked away. 

Contact Senator David Vitter

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Rape Victims Are To Blame For The Continuance Of Rape

When someone goes out of their way to make a public service announcement about rape and reporting, we would assume that they would have a basic understanding of the mentality of a rape victim. Sadly though, this is not always the case and information then becomes available that can further damage and silence victims.

Recently on youtube, a user posted a video called Rape Scot-Free depicting a short monologue by a young man, blaming rape victims for the continuance of rape in their communities. His argument being that victims who do not come forward and report their rape are selfish and in turn aiding the perpetrator, enabling him/her to continue their acts of violence.

As a survivor of rape, I have to say that I was extremely disturbed by the video. The lack of basic insight into the mind of a survivor is appalling and in my opinion, highly ineffective. What this video has done however is further strengthen victim blaming in a society that already holds such fascist opinions.

I am one of the survivors that he is addressing in his video. Like many, I was raped and did not report the incident to the police. If I were to believe this video, I would be the victim who should be ashamed of not doing anything to stop the acts of violence from continuing. I would believe that I am the “good girl who keeps her mouth shut” and helped the man that raped me. I would believe that it is my fault that society doubts my rape because someone who is really raped would report it. I would believe that speaking out about my rape is simply “complaining” and not preventing. I would believe that I have no voice, that I have no right to talk about a faulty system because I am the fault in the system. I would believe that I am to blame for any acts of rape after me, because I am the only one who can change anything.

Create a video in black and white; speak sarcastically and angrily towards me. Tell me what I have done wrong and question my rape. Make me doubt myself and introduce more shame to the act of violence; blame me, again. If the motive of this video was merely shock response, then congratulations because I am shocked. However, if the hope of this video was to get victims like me to report, you failed miserably. As shame and fear are the primary tools of rapists to keep their victims silenced, I would ask how someone using shame against me now is any better?

As a survivor of rape, I can say that this video did not make me want to report, but rather strengthened my belief that we still have so much work left to do in educating people about the act and aftermath of rape. What happened to me is not my fault. I am not to blame. It’s time to put the blame where it belongs; the rapist not the raped.

Polanski Raped Her

Each morning on my drive into work I would hear the latest radio report on the apprehension of Roman Polanski recently in Switzerland.  Each morning for the past week it was reported that “Polanski pleaded guilty for having sex with a minor…” I guess a part of me accepted what I was hearing reported even as I knew it wasn’t accurate.

Roman Polanski

This morning I heard the much needed correction.  A listener called in to express how disappointed she was in the reporting of what Polanski did.  She was under the impression that when you drug and liquor up a 13-year-old then have sex with her throughout the evening that what we may be talking about isn’t “sex with a minor”.

It may be rape.

The case of Roman Polanski is not one blurred by ambiguity.  We know what happened.  We know how the guilty ran.  We know his celebrated career for the ensuing three decades afterward.  Yet, we still don’t know if we should call it rape?

We are afraid of that word aren’t we?  It was just a year ago that Tory Bowen wasn’t allowed to use the word ‘rape’ by a judge in court when describing how she was raped by her perpetrator.

Even Whoopi Goldberg, this morning on The View had to inform us that what Polanski did wasn’t “rape-rape.” Going so far as to tell the rest of the panel that she wanted to talk about “what he did” and not to speak out of a sense of “passion…when we don’t have all the facts.”  That’s interesting Whoopi.  Here are the facts.

From a legal standpoint, we know that Mr. Polanski plead down to a lesser charge.  He raped the victim, but he got a break.  This happens all the time.  Regardless of what he did, our legal system watered down the charge to the puzzling and much more friendly ‘sex with a minor’.  You can certainly water down what is, but does that ever change what is?

It seems there is a bit of confusion among society at large as to what exactly rape is.  I guess the only way to clear this up is to take our case straight to the most agreed upon definition we can find, courtesy of Funk and Wagnalls.

Rape – any act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon a person.

If your one and only idea of what ‘force’ constitutes is violent, physical brutality than we really need to have a discussion about the nature of abuse.  Quaaludes and alcohol in a 13-year-old girl functions in quite the same way that Rohyphol, known commonly as the date-rape drug, works in adults.  It makes it easier for a perpetrator to rape their chosen victim.  The more altered she is, the less force that is needed to apply.  Sometimes it takes such little force that it can almost seem like it’s not rape.  But it is.

There is a greater awareness in our communities about the dangers of date-rape drugs.  Yet, we still fail to apply what we know to Mr. Polanski’s case.  I understand the delicate nature of rape.  It is a serious charge.  It is equally a serious offense.  If Roman Polanski ‘raped’ a 13-year-old would we be so worried about his well-being?  Would we be less likely to ‘cut him a break?’

If you want to make excuses for poor Mr. Polanski you are entitled.  If you think it’s been 30 years and he needs to be cut that break, then go ahead.  But there can be no question about what we are talking about in the first place.

In 1977, Polanski got what he wanted.  He raped and sodomized a girl and pleaded down to the lesser charge of ‘sex with a minor’.  Then he ran.

Now three decades later we are still struggling with what to call his offense.  Some call it sex with a minor.  I call it astonishing.