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Jaclyn Friedman, executive director of Women, Action & the Media, and my lovely co-editor of Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape does a video to accompany her amazing article at The Nation, “How the Media Should Treat the Sexual Assault Allegations Against Al Gore.” (Transcript after the jump)
A Palestinian man has been found guilty of rape after having sex with a woman who thought he was Jewish.
CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger nominated has nominated Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauyea to be California’s next chief justice – if confirmed, she would be the first Filipina-American to head the state’s judiciary.
I get it. Sexual assault is scary. We want to think it could never happen to us or anyone we love—or could be committed by anyone we respect. We want to avoid thinking about it so much that we weave a web of soothing fiction: she wanted it, what did she expect in her line of work, she’s obviously just after his money. And, of course: he’s a really good guy. He would never do something like that.
As I write in my essay on TheNation.com, the excuses used to cast doubt on the victim’s credibility are easily debunked. But the “credibility” question itself is a red herring. Why, in cases of sexual violence, is the victim assumed guilty of lying until proven innocent? We assume that people who say they’ve been victims of robberies or kidnappings are credible enough to report on unless there’s clear evidence to the contrary. Barring that, it’s the media’s responsibility – and our own – to take allegations of sexual violence seriously.
I don’t know if Gore did what he’s been accused of, and neither do you. But when we ignore cases like this, we send a terrible message to the victims of powerful men everywhere: that they’re just not important enough to care about. And we tell those powerful men that they can treat women however they want to, so long as they look good in a suit and make a convincing powerpoint slideshow.