Sexual Scoring and the St. Paul’s Prep School Rape Trial

St. Paul's Sexual Scoring

The work Stand with Survivors partakes in oftentimes revolves around sexual assault on college campuses– I founded this organization after my own appalling treatment at my college after reporting my rapists. But recent headlines have drifted away from college hearings and focused in on a previously disregarded social strata: prep school.

This week, 19-year-old Owen Labrie is standing trial for several felonies involving sexual assault of a freshman girl at his prestigious New Hampshire prep school, St Paul’s, a mere three days prior to his graduation.

We will not get into the details of the assault– those are online in other forums if you are interested, but we believe that it is a survivor’s right to tell her or his story, rather than having the details of their trauma broadcasted across the internet due to an affidavit.

Today we will be focusing on this issue of “sexual scoring” and how it perpetuates rape culture.

According to Labrie, St. Paul’s senior males take part in the “senior salute,” a competition to sleep with more younger students than any of their other classmates. Each conquest earned them a tally, kept on a whiteboard on a wall behind the washing machine and then on an online forum. Labrie admitted to police that he did have the intention of having the highest “score” of his senior class, thereby winning this challenge and apparently the misogynistic respect of his male peers.

2011 St. Paul’s Aluma Carolyn Forrester commented on this pervasive rape culture at her alma mater: “This incident felt both out of the blue and like it had been waiting to happen for a long time.” She also stated that many aspects of the case appeared to be “business as usual” for the St. Paul’s student culture.

Sound familiar? It turns out that “scoring” culture is a strong sexual script for men, pervasive in almost every level of society. Sexual scripts provide cultural expectations and guidelines for sexual behavior— how people are supposed to approach the subject and how they are supposed to have behaved within said acts.

When we’re examining this scandal at St. Paul’s, however, we see this sexual script of “scoring” taken to a predatory level. Seniors only gained social credit when they had sex with freshman and sophomore students, presumably below the New Hampshire age of consent— 16 years old.

So what happens when sexual scripts collide with predatory, illegal actions such as sexual assault? Our stance is that while this may help explain the prevalence of sexual assault in prep schools, as well as other social settings, it does not excuse one’s actions whatsoever.

We at Stand with Survivors are sincerely hoping that administrators and adults in these students’ lives are taking the time to have conversations with them about the subjects of consent and sexual assault. If you have a child or other young person in your life, use this story as an opener to start an ongoing conversation about these things.

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Defining Domestic Abuse: An Initial Inquiry

Defining Domestic Abuse

In Hannah Tindale’s first article as a contributing writer for Stand with Survivors, she begins to explore the topic of domestic abuse. While writing for this blog, Hannah will explore the topic of domestic abuse of all types — physical and emotional.

Perhaps it’s just me or perhaps I am being fickle-minded, but recently a question has come to mind– what is domestic abuse? No, I know what domestic abuse is, but how do we actually define it and why are everyone’s definitions different? When I am reading the newspaper, I could open it up to any page and there is some story regarding domestic violence. But my question comes to this: why is it when we hear of domestic abuse, our thoughts instantly lead to physical violence? Why do our thoughts not also go to those who are experiencing the emotional and psychological domestic abuse that so many men and women are forced to endure each and every day?

More often than I would care to admit, emotional and psychological abuse begin the cycle of domestic abuse. Yet, I have not yet opened a newspaper to see a story solely focusing on the emotional aspects of this, which begs the further question: do we are a society classify domestic abuse as only the physical kind? Do we ignore the less visible pain that can be inflicted on an individual by a partner simply because we cannot see the bruises and scars?

After performing a simple Google search on what falls under the umbrella of criminal domestic abuse, I have to admit that I was horrified that criminal laws were only intended to prosecute a physical abuser. But what about those whom suffer the emotional side? What happens to them? Are their abusers allowed to go free until physical violence has been committed?

My final question: are we placing one type of abuse in a higher priority than another or is it time we begin to change? At Stand with Survivors, we believe that it is time to classify all abuse as important, helping make it easier for all types of abuse victims to receive assistance and support.

#ICYMI: Feminist News Roundup

ICYMI 8.3.15

In Stand with Survivor’s weekly #ICYMI feature, we highlight some of the top stories in feminist news from the past week.


Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) was rebuked by his Senate colleagues on Sunday as he tried to force a vote on defunding Planned Parenthood.McConnell Blocks Planned Parenthood Bill
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ruled an amendment to a highway bill, which would have defunded Planned Parenthood, out of order. The amendment to the bill was proposed by Mike Lee of Utah.

 

 

Macy Gray performs at Adopt the Arts' Peace Through Music celebrity gala at Loews Hollywood Hotel on Sept. 15, 2013 in Hollywood, California. Macy Gray’s New Song on “Self-Love”
The new single, titled “B.O.B”, talks about her relationship with her vibrator.
“As the song explains, Bob is not just her vibrator’s name, but also an acronym: ‘B – is for battery, O – operated, B – is for better cuz he’s not complicated.”

 

 

Jen Welter Signed by NFL Team as Coaching Intern
The Arizona Cardinals have hired Jen Welter, an accomplished player in local leagues, to be a coaching intern. This is the first time any woman has held this position in NFL history.

 

 

Wisconsin Signs Strict Abortion Bill into Law
Presidential candidate and Wisconsin governor Scott Walker signed a bill into law this week which bans abortions after 20 weeks, with no exception for rape, incest, or fetal anomalies. The only allowed situation is in cases where the mother’s life is in danger. 

An Open Letter To Hanna Stotland: My Rapist Is Not My Responsibility

This post was originally posted on Community on BuzzFeed and is reprinted here with permission from the author.

Dear Hanna Stotland,

It is 7:32 PM on a quiet Tuesday evening. I should be watching the Red Sox game on TV with my grandparents or studying for the LSAT or getting frozen yogurt with my friends. But instead, I am sitting in my room, curled up in my mother’s old fleece blanket, reading and rereading a BuzzFeed article about a woman whose profession is helping students punished by their school for sexual assault transfer to other academic institutions.

I want to be mad. I want to break dishes and scream into my pillow and release my pent up anger in a raging frenzy. I want to be sad. I want to cry in my best friend’s lap—not a pretty cry, mind you—an ugly cry, filled with puffy eyes and snot and hiccups. I want to laugh. I want to fold my hands together and cross my legs, mimicking the seated position the woman takes in her portrait, knowing that I will fight her—this movement will fight her—and we will win.

But instead, I am here, letting these words burn into my mind as I try to process the information before me.

“She does not advocate lying – for one thing, it’s too risky – but her version of ‘honest disclosure’ is a favorable retelling of the truth.”

“‘I am an impassioned feminist,’ Scotland said. ‘But there’s nothing feminist about incompetence.’”

“She doesn’t see anything wrong with turning a profit while the fight over how schools should handle campus sexual assault plays out across the country.”

I know I should have an opinion on this—after all, I’m Abby-freaking-Woodhouse. I am seen as a force of nature. I am determined, strong-willed, and opinionated. I run an organization centered around fighting for the voices of survivors of sexual assault to be heard. I should know what I think about this.

I believe in the strength of truth. I believe in the strength of justice. I believe that there is no excuse whatsoever for sexual assault or violence. But I do not know what I believe about forgiveness.

The man who raped me during my freshman year of college was expelled for violating three counts of the sexual misconduct policy at my college. I had an order of protection filed against him in the state of New York. I cried at the hearing—of joy, of exhaustion, of relief. This man would not be able to harm me again, ever. I did not know what would happen to him, but I knew that it would no longer be any of my concern.

A year or so later, his name popped up on my Facebook feed as a “Person You May Know.” I clicked onto his profile with the intention of blocking him, but wound up discovering that he took a semester off after being expelled before transferring seamlessly into another university that was a mere thirty minute drive from mine. And—here’s the kicker—he was recruited to the wrestling team.

Over the next few weeks, I alternated between sobbing in fetal position on my floor to hiding in my room with the doors locked and shades drawn to trying to mask my pain with humor—”why wasn’t I asked for a letter of recommendation?”

All of those things are what I did to process this new information—the fact that his life got to keep going after he tried to end mine. He did not face any real repercussions. Yes, he hit a bump in the road by being booted from a small liberal arts institution but bounced back to a new school with new friends and a new life. I, on the other hand, was stuck at the same small liberal arts institution with the trauma and pain with which he left me that night to die on the bathroom floor.

I don’t get to just pick up and move on like he does. But then the thoughts started really piling on—what if it was a mistake? Does one horrific act mean that he needs to be banished from society? Does he not deserve a life or a family? What if he’s gotten better? What if he’s sorry? What if he never does it again?

I was weighed down by these thoughts for a long time—the guilt, the what-ifs, the shame and embarrassment. But this article made me realize that it is not my place to feel this. It is up to the way we punish rapists—whether that pertains to the legal system as a whole or individual college misconduct processes.

We need a reform, and we need it now. My rapist is not my responsibility. His future is not determined by my decision to come forward. He is in charge of his own actions, and his educational future was determined by his decision to rape me that night.

Yes, there are individuals who are falsely accused of sexual assault. And yes, there are individuals who are not believed despite telling the absolute truth. But that means that we need a reform of the system—we do not need a woman playing God and making a profit off of covering up horrific acts of sexual assault so that rapists can go to school.

So, going back to my initial conflict—whether to be angry or be sad or fight—I choose all of the above. I’m not sorry for my decision to come forward, not one bit. But thank you, Hanna Stotland, for making me question my integrity and then helping me refuel the fire that burns within me.

Sincerely,
Abby Woodhouse

#ICYMI: Feminist News Roundup

#ICYMI: Feminist News Roundup (7/21/15)
In Stand with Survivor’s weekly #ICYMI feature, we highlight some of the top stories in feminist news from the past week.

wage gapDavid Cameron calls for Mandatory Gender Wage Gap Disclosure
David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, announced that companies with more than 250 employees will have to report their respective wage gaps between men and women. This will serve to combat the issue in the UK, which stands at sixth worst in the EU for gender wage discrimination. For more information, click here.

 
 

Sandra BlandDeath of Sandra Bland Reinforces Need for Reform
The death of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old Illinois woman, in police custody this week after her arrest for a minor traffic violation has brought again to national attention the need for criminal justice reform and a broader discussion about systemic racism in the United States.

 

 

obamaObama Responds to Cosby Controversy
President Obama, when asked about revoking Cosby’s Medal of Freedom Award, while refusing to comment directly, said “”If you give a woman or a man without his or her knowledge a drug and then have sex with that person without consent that’s rape. And I think this country and any civilized country should have no tolerance for rape.”

 

 

pentagon_transgenderPentagon Makes Public Plans to End Ban On Transgender Service Members
Defense Secretary Ash Carter announces plans to begin the process of lifting its current ban of the service of trans individuals in the Armed Forces.

ICYMI: This Week in Feminism (July 6-12, 2015)

ICYMI July 6 - July 12 2015

In Stand with Survivor’s weekly #ICYMI feature, we highlight some of the top stories in feminist news from the week.

Bill Cosby Admits to Drugging Women

Bill Cosby Admits to Drugging Women
With the unsealing of court documents including his testimony under oath, Bill Cosby’s admission of drugging women he intended to have sex with has been made public. The documents have confirmed statements made by multiple women accusing him of multiple instances of sexual assault. For more information, you can read up on the controversy here.

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Colorado’s Successful Birth Control Program is At Risk
The implementation of Colorado’s free birth control program, which provides free long-term birth control such as IUDs to teens and low income women, has widely been praised as a success. However, the funding for the program, sourced from a private grant, has begun to run low, and the State’s Assembly has thus far not approved additional public funding for the initiative. For more information about this story, click here.

New York Bar Combats Wage Gap with Drink Discounts

New York Bar Combats Wage Gap with Drink Discounts
A New York City bar has begun offering women a discount to call attention to gender-based wage disparities by charging only 77 cents on the dollar of their tabs. The owner says he “thought this would be a great way to even the playing field even if it was for one night only”. Click here to learn more about the bar.

Amy Schumer Says She Was

Amy Schumer Says She Was “Joking” in Response to Racism Accusations
The comic, who was embroiled in controversy after a Washington Post article compared her off-color jokes about Latinos to comments made by Donald Trump, responded this week to her critics on Twitter, saying “I am not going to start joking about safe material”.  For more about Schumer’s comments, click here.

 

Why We Need to Talk About The Horrifying Attacks on Asian Women in NYC

Why We Need to Talk About the NYC Attacks

On June 23, 2015, the New York Times reported that the body of a man believed to be responsible for a string of attacks on Asian women in New York City was discovered in an elevator shaft in Midtown, NY. The man’s blog details his anger over the rejection he felt he had faced from Asian women as well as his plans to end his own life. One post counts the number of times he saw Asian women holding hands with white man in one afternoon, and another discusses his attacks on the women, citing as reasons both revenge and “so that they could stop sniffing cocaine and give me a chance.”

The women attacked by this man are victims of rape culture and the entitlement some men feel towards women, as well as the fetishization of Asian women. Rejection is a part of life, and no one owes anyone else sex or attention simply because they are friendly or nice. And objectification of women based off of their race is indeed racist, despite what some may claim. These women are living testimony to this fact.

Despite the tragedy surrounding this revelation, we at Stand with Survivors hope that it leads to a broader discussion of the intersection of race, gender, and violence, as well as rape culture. We also stand in solidarity with the victims of this upsetting string of attacks.