Category Archives: News

There is a new federal definition of rape!

There has been a major advancement in national rape reporting and classification. Important changes have been made to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report which redefines rape.

Previously,  “Forcible rape” had been defined by the UCR SRS as “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will.”  That definition, unchanged since 1927, was outdated and narrow. It only included forcible male penile penetration of a female vagina.”

The new definition, “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” provides the flexibility to classify someone as a victim regardless of gender and accounts for rape that occurs while individuals are incapacitated, which includes rapes that occur without physical force.

One of the major reasons that these changes were made was because of the efforts of sexual assault advocates and their public campaigns. These changes allow for more accurate reporting and tracking of rape on a national level.


Quotes from the class-action military sexual assault lawsuit

Below is a video posted on Feministing today. The video is a compilation of quotations taken from the reports of 17 plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit against the Pentagon for ignoring or dismissing instances of military sexual assault, abuse and rape. It is a powerful video with derogatory and hateful victim blaming language. Is it any wonder why two of the biggest barriers reported by victims is that they are afraid they won’t be believed or that they will be blamed? You can hear more about this case through an NPR interview.


Anti-violence efforts result in death threat

Josh Jasper never anticipated the fervent and hateful backlash in reaction to his anti-sexual assault commercial. In an article with the Des Moines Register, Jasper, the CEO of the Riverview Center, reported that the backlash from the commercial involved hateful attacks against him and threats on his life. The Riverview Center is a nonprofit agency that provides services to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

Jasper had this to say about the negative responses, “I appreciate and respect when people have differing viewpoints. But for individuals to take it to a personal level and threaten my life, that’s taking it too far.  I probably do focus my attention on redefining masculinity rather than femininity because the vast majority of violence perpetrated in society is done by men,” he said. “But an important distinction is that a vast majority of men aren’t violent. It’s a very small group of men. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough men and boys who are speaking up saying, ‘This isn’t OK.’” You can also find a more in-depth discussion of the situation from this article in The Examiner.

Today the Iowa Men’s Action Network (MAN), published the following press release supporting Jasper’s work and encouraging continued work to raise awareness and provide services to victims of sexual assault.

In Support of the Riverview Center’s Print Ad and Video Commercial

Des Moines, IA, February 8th, 2011-The Iowa Men’s Action Network (Iowa MAN) fully supports the prevention and victim service programming offered through the Riverview Center and its CEO, Josh Jasper, in Dubuque, Iowa.  Recently, a commercial video and print ad on the importance of preventing rape and sexual abuse prompted some men and women across the country and internationally to become outraged.   The video in question may have been taken the wrong way by some, but this should not detract from the fact that rape is far too common in our communities and that the mission and purpose here is to eliminate it.

Sexual abuse and domestic violence are criminal acts that we have failed to eliminate thus far – locally, nationally, and globally. One in 6 women and one in 33 men will have experienced sexual abuse in their lifetime. These survivors do not experience violence in isolation. It impacts their family, their friends, and their co-workers. Because we all have people in our lives affected by this violence, it is imperative that we continue to discuss sexual assault and the culture that supports it rather than shutting down conversation with name calling and threats.

Iowa MAN is a volunteer initiative of the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Iowa MAN is a network of men from across the state of Iowa who are passionate about ending violence. We work to inspire all men of Iowa to partner with women to promote healthy and respectful relationships in their homes, neighborhoods, and the community, to model peaceful and respectful behaviors with each other, and to empower our youth with similar tools and skills necessary to live and expect a lifestyle free from abuse.  For more information please contact Alan Heisterkamp, Iowa MAN chair 605-232-9929


Medal of Honor has become feminized?

This post is important on several levels. Today, Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore A. Giunta from Hiawatha, Iowa became the first living medal of honor recipient in 40 years. He was inducted into the Hall of Heroes, an honor which only 3,400 Americans have received. In 2007, Giunta’s platoon was ambushed in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan and cut off from the rest of the squad. Sgt. Josh Brennan was hit 8 times and Sgt. Franklin Eckrode was hit 4 times by enemy fire. Giunta was hit twice but advanced to attack two Taliban fighters who were dragging Brennan away. He killed one Taliban fighter, wounded the other and rescued Brennan. The ambush was so intense that every single member of the platoon was struck by enemy fire. Giunta performed an act above and beyond the call of duty, the principle standard for receipt of the Medal of Honor.

However, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association believes that we have feminized the medal of honor. Fischer has an issue with medals of honor being issues for saving lives instead of taking lives. According to Fischer “So the question is this: when are we going to start awarding the Medal of Honor once again for soldiers who kill people and break things so our families can sleep safely at night? I would suggest our culture has become so feminized that we have become squeamish at the thought of the valor that is expressed in killing enemy soldiers through acts of bravery. We know instinctively that we should honor courage, but shy away from honoring courage if it results in the taking of life rather than in just the saving of life. So we find it safe to honor those who throw themselves on a grenade to save their buddies.” So many things wrong with that sentiment I can barely contain myself. I’m not sure I can even put it into words. I have no idea what feminized means or why it should be considered a bad thing. Has anyone seen the documentary Lioness about female combat veterans? Read the statements from Sgt. Giunta below and watch the interview with him. If his actions, humility, bravery and courage are represented by an award and a culture that is considered feminized, then our society would benefit greatly from getting in touch with its feminine side.

Click Read More to watch an interview with Sgt. Giunta and his gracious reaction to being called a hero.

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Former pro wrestler Mankind battles sexual assault

That’s right, former WWE Champion Mankind (a.k.a bestselling author Mick Foley) is a strong ally of RAINN (Rape Incest and Abuse National Network). He’s not just an ally in name and spirit. He is an active volunteer who provides online support to sexual assault survivors. Online volunteers provides live, secure, anonymous crisis support to sexual assault survivors who prefer communicating via the Internet.

Not only does Mick donate his time, but he also recently donated 50% of the advanced royalties for his upcoming book Countdown to Lockdown. In addition to all of that, Mick also joined RAINN’s National Leadership Council in order to raise awareness and funds for RAINN’s mission.

Last month, Mick spoke to hundreds of soldiers at Fort Lee, Virginia about his experiences working the hotline and how they can help. He urged the soldiers to help prevent sexual violence and support victims. He spoke about the importance of supporting survivors and prevention. “If you see someone who might need help, don’t simply walk away and assume everything will be okay.” “Intervene! Speak up. Help the potential victim get to a safer place.” “This is a fight that can be won with tools as simple as education and understanding.”

What an inspiring example of a strong, compassionate man speaking out against abuse.

If you want to help RAINN increase their online presence and raise awareness about sexual assault online, check out their E-crew Initiative.


Sports and mental illness

Kenny McKinley

Jon Wertheim wrote a piece for Sports Illustrated last week about male athletes and depression. The recent suicide of Denver Broncos Kenny McKinley from a self-inflicted gunshot wound has created another opportunity to discuss mental illness among professional athletes. According to police reports, McKinley had hinted about suicide in the week leading up to his death after he was placed on the injured list following knee surgery. An investigator with the case reported, “He had made statements that he didn’t know what he would do if he could not play football and football was all he knew. He made statements while playing dominoes shortly after the surgery that he should just kill himself.”

According to the SI article, mental illness in professional sports is not always treated compassionately. NFL player Ricky Williams recalled his struggle with social anxiety disorder and the negative effects it had on his life. He wouldn’t take his helmet off when answering reporters questions. He wouldn’t go through a drive-thru because he would have to talk to someone. He wouldn’t answer his phone. He wouldn’t leave his house for days. When he confronted coach Jim Haslett about seeking treatment “Haslett used profanity to tell him, in so many words, “to stop being a baby and just play football.”

Click Read More for more information about professional athletes and mental illness.

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Adults encouraged teenagers in backyard fight

For those of you that are still not convinced that bystanders play an important role in their community regarding violence, take a look at the video below. The video was shot in a backyard full of adults and students in Ohio. These bystanders were standing around encouraging two teenage girls to fight. A mother and grandmother of one girl as well as other friends and family members yell, cheer and laugh while one girl pins another to the ground and assaults her. You can even hear one guy yell “Round two! Get back in the ring!” According to an article by WDTN news, at least four people were charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Although it’s hard to see in the CNN video below, apparently there were 27 students and adults present at the time of the altercation.

Any thoughts about the impact of adults and family members on violence, bullying and bystander behaviors? Like it or not, adults, especially parents and relatives have a tremendous impact on the behaviors and attitudes of the children in their life. Can we please start seeing more positive examples of bystanders?

Click on the image below to watch the video on CNN and listen to a discussion about the incident from a panel that includes one of the mothers of a girl in the video.


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