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Archive for October, 2011

As we mentioned the other day, the Winnipeg Free Press took a step in the right direction by publishing Meghan’s letter to the editor.  The letter was a response to Miss Lonelyheart’s column from a few days before, which bore the brutal and offensive headline “He didn’t rape you; You were too lazy to say no.”

Well, yesterday (Oct 25), Miss Lonelyheart’s herself saw fit to publish a letter responding to the column. Perhaps unsuprisingly, however, the writer not only agrees with the previous column, but actually thanks Miss L emphatically for her insensitive and irresponsible response. See Below:

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Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: You’ll probably take some flak for your response to Just Wondering, who had consensual sex with a man who begged her until he wore her down; but not from me. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this plain-spoken, no-nonsense response! The fact that a woman has regrets afterwards doesn’t mean it was rape. The fact that a woman finds it difficult to live with the self-image of being the kind of person who has pity sex with losers doesn’t make it rape. IMHO, it isn’t rape unless she honestly, truly, had no choice in the matter. — Fairness and Clarity, Winnipeg

Dear Fairness: This young woman had a man begging her for sex. He didn’t force her. Rather than asking him to leave and showing him the door, she walked him down the hallway to her bedroom and had sex with him because she felt sorry for him. She called it charity sex. Afterwards, she wished she hadn’t. That is not rape. She should have picked up his jacket, told him in a firm and friendly way it was time to go home, and walked to the door and opened it.

A link to the column is here, but it will likely only be available for about a week.

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Here at the FLF, it’s not our intention to sound like a broken record. That being said, we can’t over-state the importance of documenting and commenting on how prevalent and concerning these misconceptions about sexual assault really are.

We’d love to hear anything you have to say about this, and we’d also love to read more letters in the Free Press setting Miss Lonelyhearts straight!

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A note from Eli: signing the letter “Fairness and Clarity” is not only nauseating; it reminds me of Fox News. Yuck.

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Great news– our next roundtable is right around the corner!

It’s happening one week from today– Wednesday, November 2nd — from 12-1pm in room 309. We are delighted to have as our featured guest speaker our very own Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies Dr. Jennifer Schulz. It’s tentatively titled: “A Feminist Approach to Torts Law”. Dr. Schulz’s roundtable last year was super interesting and interactive, and also standing room only– so be sure to come out and be sure to come early!

Dr. Schulz has kindly passed along a short reading for anyone who would like a little primer for her presentation. It’s called “Spaces and Challenges: Feminism in Legal Academia” by Susan B. Boyd (UBC Law) and you can find it here.

(Anyone having trouble with the PDF– seems that one minute it works and the next it doesn’t– , please shoot us an email at flf.robsonhall@gmail.com and we will most happily hook you up!)

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Lately at the FLF, we’ve been talking a lot about the triumphs and tragedies of being an activist. Luckily, as it turns out, there’s plenty of inspiration out there to keep us going.

Dayna heard this great interview on the Current (CBC Radio1) on Tuesday, and thought to share it. Thanks Dayna! It features American Olympian John Carlos, who in 1968 used the Olympic podium as a political platform. It turned out to be a very controversial move. Check out the interview here, and hear Carlos describe his experiences as an activist in an unexpected forum.

john carlos web.jpg

On a slightly lighter note, I (Eli) have also noticed that inspiration and motivation can come from less… serious sources. Making my breakfast this morning, I enjoyed a dance-party-for-one to the (I think) classic ‘anthem’ None of Your Business by Salt n’ Peppa. I can’t say I’m 100% sure about their intended message, but it did make me think of issues like cross-examining a complainant in sexual assault case on her previous sexual history. Seriously! Anyway, have a feel-good dance party of your own here.

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Update on our earlier post about Miss Lonelyheart’s column, “He Didn’t Rape You; You Were too Lazy to Say No”:

The Free Press has published a letter to the editor from the FLF’s very own co-chair Meghan Menzies. A big thanks to Meghan for writing such a great letter, and thanks also to the Free Press for publishing it.

Here’s the letter:

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Offensive and callous

This is in response to Miss Lonelyhearts’ Oct. 14 piece, He didn’t rape you; you were too lazy to say no. We are embarrassed for any paper that would publish such an offensive and callous headline, especially with the stigma and stereotypes that currently pervade the issue of sexual assault.

In addition, Miss Lonelyhearts’ response was entirely inadequate because it totally disregarded the seriousness of rape and provided no information on crisis counselling or other sexual assault resources, information that could clearly have been helpful to a woman who is, it appears, confused and hurting.

Lastly, harassing someone into sexual activity does not equal consent. Consent must not only be active, but willing. In disregarding that, Miss Lonelyhearts’ response has actually contributed to rape myths.

Overall, this article demonstrates a clear lack in awareness, integrity and professionalism.

MEGHAN MENZIES

Winnipeg

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You can have a look at it on the Freep website here. We’ve already noticed a few (anonymous, natch) comments, and suffice it to say, they aren’t all favourable. But as Dayna so wisely wrote a few days ago, “you have to realize that the more vocal the oppostion is, the better you are doing at being an activist.” Amen!

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It is such a busy time for feminist news and events that we at the FLF can barely keep up! Today, I decided to take a break from my own rage when it comes to sexual assault law and turn my attention to the recent appointments to the Supreme Court. The good news is that if you get behind on feminist news topics, it means that lots of incredibly smart feminists have already said really great things about it, and you can just share their wisdom.

So, on that note, I bring you a post on Blogging for Equality from University of Ottawa Professor Jenna McGill. Prof. McGill’s post considers gender balance on the bench, and questions Kirk Makin, the Globe and Mail justice reporter, who stated that the appointment of Andromache Karakatsanis “would forestall feminist criticism by maintaining the court’s complement of female judges at four.” As Prof. McGill says, “Sorry Mr. Makin; we’re not that easy to shut up.”

Read the post here.

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Bon soir,

This is a late night note reminding everyone to come on down to the annual Take Back the Night march!

Thursday, November 20th (that’ll be today in 20 minutes time) at 6pm, starting and ending at the Magnus Eliason Rec Centre.

Look for us (Meghan, Dayna and Eli) near the doors to MERC if you’d like to meet up, or send us an email at flf.robsonhall@gmail.com if you’d like to make a firmer meeting plan. We’re bringing placards, too!

Crescent Moon

Also note that the U of M Womyn’s Centre is holding its open house Thursday as well. It goes from 11:30-5pm, and we hear there will be TBTN themed craft-and-sign making, and a group busing from the open house to the march together.

Hope to see you there! Nighty night.

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At our post-slutwalk discussion on Saturday, one of our rad new members, Carla, mentioned the Miss Lonelyhearts column from the previous day’s Winnipeg Free Press. The headline, she said, read “He Didn’t Rape You; You Were Too Lazy to Say No“. No one else had seen it, but we were all pretty horrified by Carla’s description of it. When the rest of us were able to have a look , we were even more disturbed by the tone taken by Miss Lonelyhearts. While the headline itself reads like a slap in the face to anti-victim blaming efforts, Miss Lonleyhearts also provided no crisis counselling information and seemed to have no notion of the actual definition of consent as being not only active but willing. The issue here is not whether this man would be convicted of sexual assault on the facts we have available, but rather that the tone of the response is a perfect example of out-dated and damaging attitudes towards unwanted sex.

Winnipeg Free Press

Here is a link to the column. And, becuase it will likely be archived in the next few days, we’re reproducing the question and response below.

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He didn’t rape you; you were too lazy to say no

By: Miss Lonelyhearts

Posted: 10/14/2011 1:00 AM

DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I had unwanted sex with a guy because he was begging me, and then afterwards I felt it was not something I really wanted. I felt forced because he broke down my resistance. I just finally gave in after all that begging and took him down the hall to my bedroom to get it over with, so he’d go home. It was a charity thing, if you know what I mean. I wouldn’t have done it with him if he hadn’t begged and seemed so pathetic. Is breaking down resistance a form of rape? — Just Wondering, Winnipeg

 Dear Wondering: No. This was certainly not rape and not something you would want to send anyone to jail for. It was your decision. You weren’t forced; you were too lazy to take him to the door and say bye-bye. He may have bugged you until you DECIDED it was easier to say yes than to say no, but he didn’t force you. You also called it a “charity” thing — giving your body to him and taking his — inferring you felt sorry for him. That’s no reason to have sex.

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A few members of the FLF have been talking about this, why it seems so wrong, and what to do about it. A letter to the editor of the Winnipeg Free Press is in the works, but we also thought it was important to share it with others. If you have any thoughts, please share them!

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