Police officer on video assaulting member of the Native American community:
More information here
Police officer on video assaulting member of the Native American community:
More information here
Pfizer pharmaceuticals popped a side bar ad onto my Facebook page titled, “Get Old.” Curious, I clicked on it and was taken to a page that offered to me the following choices for how I feel about getting old: optimistic, angry, prepared, and uneasy.
These are all medicalized, pharmaceutically lucrative views of aging. Choices 1,2 and 4 all suggest problems (lack of optimism, anger, uneasiness) that Pfizer could offer a drug for (anti-depressants, anti-anxiety). “Prepared” is intriguing. How do you prepare to be old? I never “prepared” to be 20, for example. Does it mean “emotionally prepared for the horribleness that is ‘old’?” And if I am not prepared, will I be overwhelmed (and in need of drug…..)? Perhaps it is meant to mean “financially prepared.” But, again, why would Big Pharma care about that–unless you have anxiety about your finances….and bingo! we have a drug for that.
The ad does not suggest “happy” or “empowered.” Obviously a content older person doesn’t need massive doses of psychotropic drugs. If we buy into the acculturation that being old is miserable, of course we’re going to need drugs to cope.
Therefore, the drug companies do well for themselves to market “old” as unhappiness to profit, profit, profit.
I helped organize a recent Take Back the Night March and Rally. It had the usual combination of march, speakers, and vigil. We also threw in some free food and music and had a good night of anger, reflection, laughs, and sorrow.
More than once that evening, a well-known fact was cited by speakers at the microphone: women are more likely to be raped by someone they know than a stranger.
Women are more likely to be raped by someone they know than a stranger.
This is not true.
A few months ago, I started contacting local and regional programs and services that serve victims of rape and other forms of sexual and domestic violence. I was trying to find out information about old/er women who are raped. On all the websites I had previously checked, statistics were given only on young/er women–such as “44% of victims are under 18 and 80% are under 30″ (RAINN) or “Women aged 12-34 are at the highest risk for being sexually assaulted” (National Crime Victim Survey cited here). Only in one place did I find statistics up to age 44, and today, as I write this post I am unable to track it down.
Each of the three programs and services that I contacted could not provide me any–any–information on the rape statistics of old/er women. We are all simply swept up together under the 20% of rape victims over 30 years of age.
So I plodded around the Internet looking for information. I found scattered references in news pieces here and there that indicated elderly women are more likely to be raped by strangers than by people with whom they have a relationship, and that they are also more likely to be murdered during that rape than younger women. None of these news pieces cited its source. Then I found this, a piece from Volcano Press, that provided some of the information I was looking for. I quote in part:
While crime statistics make it appear practically non-existent, rape of the elderly can and does occur. When it does, it frequently turns deadly. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics report “Sex Offense and Offenders,” 1 in 7 sexual assault murder victims were 60 or older…Only one age group of rape victims—ages 13 through 17—had a higher murder rate, at 3.3%.
The article then describes the profile of the typical rapist-murderer of elderly women. He is most likely to be someone who lives within six blocks of the victim, but not necessarily someone the victim knows. Therefore, the truth of the often quoted “fact” is that a young woman is more likely to be raped by someone she knows, and an elderly woman is most likely to be raped by someone she does not know but who knows of her (vulnerability/isolation/daily patterns).
Interestingly, even though this article uncovers some of the missing information about elderly women, women in their 40s through 60s appear to be invisible in the writings about women and rape. What happens to us? Are we equally unsafe in our personal relationships and around strangers? Or are we in some strange safe hiatus zone between the vulnerability of youth and the vulnerability of elderly? Are we uninteresting in the research because we are not likely to be murdered and our overall risk of being raped is lower than the risk for young/er women?
The Volcano article also explores the motive of the rapist-murderer of an elderly woman. The primary motive of this crime is sexual assault, with burglary a frequent afterthought. Many people think of the rape of older women as one of opportunity–that is, the burglar stumbled upon the woman and spontaneously raped her. The truth is the opposite.
The article then asks, “So, why does rape of elderly women not show up in statistics? The answer, “…the NCVS [National Crime Victim Survey] does not account for victims who do not survive, which is where elderly women are most likely to show up.” That is, many raped elderly women are invisible in rape statistics because they have been murdered and its the murder that is statistically recorded, not the rape.
There are further provocative questions that need to be researched. For example, why are elderly women not as vulnerable to being raped by people they know? Is it because women tend to live longer than men, and therefore women in abusive heterosexual relationships outlive the abusers? Is it because older women have divorced or otherwise escaped abusive relationships? Is it because elderly women live isolated, secluded, and vulnerable lives because they are unwanted cast-asides in a youth-oriented society–that is, no one knows them? Also provocative, and quite disturbing, is why are rapists more likely to murder elderly women? And how does the rape-murder of an elderly woman reflect the greater cultural/societal beliefs and practices by others, by institutions, and by communities? What do we all share in this hatred towards older women?
It’s important that all victim advocates, feminists, and our allies stop rendering older women invisible in our resistance to and dismantling of rape culture. We must not erase older women by presenting such ageist “facts” as “a woman is more likely to be raped by someone she knows.”
At next year’s Take Back the Night Rally, I know what I will be discussing when I have the microphone.
…because I’ve been working on a memoir, finished that now, and now an anthology. I’ve started a new job as a director of a feminist program. And I’ve been enjoying myself, doing some of my favorite things. Been pretty busy. However, the core reason I have not been blogging is the following:
Several months ago, I became overwhelmed with the pornophiles and misogynists visiting the site looking for porn of women and girls being raped by horses (see previous post). Although none of them ever posted comments, the search terms in my “administration window” revealed that dozens of men arrive weekly at this site looking for “lesbian horse rape,” “horse woman sex,” and the like. Because I am a researcher and lecturer on porn, I did check a few of these sites out. Although I had felt I had already seen some of the most violent pornography on the internet, I was wrong. And now I have these images in my mind associated with “Gray Horse Woman.”
“Gray Horse Woman” is a name that is important to me. Therefore, my visceral response was not just political but also personal. They were raping my name. However, I did not want to abandon my name because they had raped it. So I struggled with what to do.
I have decided that I am going to rename my blog. This will include changing the name in the blog address. Those of you who are followers should, I believe, still receive notice of my posts. Others, however, might lose track of me for a while.
I have to ponder the new name. When I make a decision, I will post that name and the new blog address before I click the buttons that make it all happen.
The rapists will not shut me up.
(This post relates to an earlier one, Effing our own movement.)
The following is an excerpt from a lesbian friend’s Facebook feed, two of her acquaintances chiming into a conversation about Ellen DeGeneres:
I’m sure you know someone who’s boned someone who’s boned someone who knows Ellen’s hairstylist…that just seems to be how these things go.
I wanna bone Ellen….does that help?
I find it extraordinary when lesbians use the language of patriarchal sex. Whereas heterosexual women use “bone” in reference to actions that happen to them by men (e.g. he boned me, I want to be boned) or something external to them that they do not control (eg. he has a boner), some lesbians choose to position themselves as the male, attaching a verbal penis to themselves (e.g I wanna bone Ellen).
As a heterosexual woman, I can’t fathom why. I have to constantly negotiate the perils of heteronormativity and patriarchy in all relationships—from work to personal. All of my (dating, sexual, partner) personal relationships have been defined by who does and does not have the “bone.” A lesbian, however, has to actively choose to put the “bone” into her personal relationships with other women.
When lesbians use the language of patriarchal sexual dominance, they disempower themselves. Power, for all women, will be achieved when we are free from patriarchal paradigms, including the heteronormative idea that all relationships must have a male, real or metaphorical.
I’ve been working on a book, a memoir, and that has pretty much absorbed my writing energy at this time. Also, I recently had a discussion with a friend and fellow radical feminist activist who is also working on her memoir, and we concurred that it is important to step back from the world a bit while delving into one’s personal narratives of child sexual abuse and such. Therefore, I haven’t been blogging much. Obviously. It’s been a few weeks.
Nevertheless, I keep coming across stuff that makes me think I should get this up on gray horse woman.
So I am just going to pop a couple of things up here for regular readers and stoppers-by to check out. I’ll leave no commentary, although I’ve got oodles to say, and leave it up to you folks to chat about, if you like. Truly, it would be lovely to hear from you, because it’s been mostly spammers and men looking for women being raped by horses who have been dropping by while I haven’t been actively writing.
First is this gem I grabbed from a chapter summary on Amazon.com from a book titled Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Gender.
Then there is this lovely extension of our porn culture:
(Now, back to my book.)
My father hated feminists. He was actually behind a campaign to stop a women’s studies program from launching at his university in the 1970s. When that didn’t work, he followed up with periodic harassing letters to the head of the program. I know this because 30 years later, she showed them to me.
My father always spoke derisively about feminists!. Among one of the many faults of feminists, I learned at a young age, was that they wear ugly shoes.
I remember clearly when I met the first woman I knew who named herself as a feminist. I was in my late 20s. I couldn’t help myself, I had to look under the table, to check out her shoes.
Yep. They were ugly. “Ugly”, like mine. They were the kind of shoes that you can stand in all day, at a protest, or walk in, at a march. They were the kind of shoes that do not deform your feet or make you walk with your glutes popped out. They were the kind of shoes that you can escape a predator in. Or fight him in.
Me and my ugly shoes.