The Terminator terminates funding for domestic violence in California

25 08 2009

I am a bit late on posting this but Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently recklessly terminated California’s entire domestic violence budget.  Yup, all of it.  There’s not a single penny left in the state budget for addressing and dealing with domestic violence.  This is deeply disturbing and infuriating.  As V-Day founder Eve Ensler has said:

What same governor does this as the state economy is plummeting and violence is escalating? When the STAND Hotline, that serves Contra Costa County, fielded more than 12,500 calls for help in the first seven months of 2009, triple the number in a normal year (if violence is ever normal)? In a state where over the past six months at least five men, desperate from losing their jobs, have murdered their families and themselves? What other governor is willing to sacrifice the lives of his constituent daughters and mothers in order to protect oil corporations from paying taxes on their multi-billion-dollar profits – fair taxes that could easily fund these same programs?

Here again we see “women’s issues” being sidelined and shoved off the table because they are not deemed worthy enough for our attention and recognition.  As feminists have argued and demonstrated for so long, domestic violence is not merely a “women’s issue”.  It is a serious matter that affects the entire community.  Victims of domestic violence are not limited to just women.  States and institutions need to take domestic violence (also called intimate partner violence or relationship violence) seriously.

Fortunately in New Mexico, Governor Bill Richardson (also a Tufts alum!) has preserved funding for domestic violence programs and has expressed a deep and sincere commitment to ending violence against women in New Mexico.  But it is completely unacceptable that Governor Scwarzenegger has chosen to eliminate all funding for domestic violence programs in California.  He needs to get his priorities in order.

Call it what it really is: rape

25 08 2009

One way that rape culture functions and continues to thrive is through invisibility. The mainstream media poorly covers sexual violence (if they cover it at all). Often times sexual assault and rape get erased from the picture – instead of using the words sexual assault or rape, mainstream news sources will just use sex. So instead of saying that Person X raped Person Y, headlines or articles will say things along the lines of Person X had sex with Person Y. Case in point:

From NBC: A police officer in Connecticut is being charged with first degree sexual assault and criminal impersonation after police say he posed as his twin brother to have sex with a woman.

Okay, so at least they explicitly state that the officer is charged with first degree sexual assault. But then they go on to say “he posed as his twin brother to have sex with a woman”. Wrong, he did not have sex with a woman, he raped a woman. There was no consent. She did not have consented to having sex with him because he was impersonating his twin brother and fooling her so that he could rape her.

Here’s another one describing the same violation from The Telegraph UK:

Jared Rohrig, 25, pretended to be his brother Joe to trick the woman into bed.

Again, the words sexual assault or rape are entirely omitted from the story. The language used here is extremely trivializing and makes it seem more like some kind of soap opera story or some ridiculous drama you’d see on television.

By continuing to unidentify and unexamine rape, we are enabling it to persist without taking notice of its heinous criminal nature.  Failing to name rape as rape simply bolsters rape culture and belittles the severity of the crime.  We need to call it what it is: rape.

H/t Womanist Musings.