Here we go again

*TRIGGER WARNING FOR SEXUAL VIOLENCE SURVIVORS*

Did I miss a memo? Is it Everybody Go Ape-shit week and I forgot my helmet at home? There’s so much going on, I’m going to have to just jump right in:

For the first time in the history of the FDA, a ruling was vetoed by a member of the presiding administration. Following the FDA ruling that Plan B, known as “the morning after pill,” would be allowed for sale without a prescription to all females of child-bearing potential, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius vetoed the decision. Say what?! I think it is fair to say that many of my prochoice colleagues and friends are stupefied by this turn of events, what with President Obama claiming to be a supporter of women’s reproductive choice and health care.

I need a moment. Take over for a sec, NARAL President Nancy Keenan (as quoted on Huffington Post):

“We had every confidence that this Bush-era policy would come to an end,” said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. “The Obama administration has broken a key promise to the American people that it would base its decisions on sound science and what’s in the best interest of women’s health. In short, this is a failure to deliver change.”

So, in case Obama’s camp is patrolling blogosphere chatter for indicators on how his base is feeling right now… We’re wondering how different you are from George F**king Bush right now. Because throwing science out with the bath water is a trick from the old guard if I ever saw one.

I don’t even know where to go with this. So let’s move on to still more depressing news…

Apparently, rape is still funny — at least it continues to be to certain athletes in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). In virtually the same news cycle that we find out that two new accusers have come forward in the sex scandal of retired Penn State Coach Jerry Sandusky, UFC fighter Rashad Evans jokes about it at a pre-fight press conference saying:

“I’m gonna put my hands on you [fighter Phil Davis] worse than that dude on those kids at Penn State.”

So I think we can take that as a sign that UFC President Dana White hasn’t created a code of conduct, yet, let alone issued a directive to his staff and athletes about general decency in public discourse… as this rape-joke tweet from fighter Miguel Torres shows. Did you learn nothing from the Forrest Griffin incident less than a month ago?!

But this stuff isn’t just pissing off the so-called humorless feminists and angry mother set. This is striking a chord within the ranks of the mixed-martial arts community and its fans, as David Castillo, from MMA blog Bloody Elbow, writes:

Inevitably, people will criticize this moral outrage as “too sensitive”, and that running “stories” like this reveals the real crime of ‘political correctness’: a criticism so excessively dumb, it possesses a seat on the stupid branch right alongside creationism. If we take seriously the injustice that is rape, we should take seriously the verbal representation of that injustice when it is mocked, and cheapened.

At this point, I’m not asking for Rashad to be fined, or punished (not that I would be opposed to some form of punishment). But who approves of his words? No one. So where is the disapproval?

This is not like Martin Scorsese or other acclaimed artists dealing with network censorship. “The prohibition against swearing in broadcast media makes artists and historians into liars, and subverts the responsibility of grown-ups to learn how life is lived in worlds distant from their own”, explains Steven Pinker. Discouraging Evans’ statement is not about censorship. It’s a question about moral philosophy, and what kind of culture we’re interested in nurturing.

This is the kind of thing I have written about a lot here on The Siren, as regular readers know, and the reason why I got involved in putting pressure on UFC to create a code of conduct in the first place. Athletes are role models. And they have to be held accountable for their actions because we as a society have to have a line that we do not cross. Rape is a line that should be, without question, a line you don’t cross.

And somehow, what I keep circling back around to in my head is this idea that rape jokes are “funny” because it’s really a show of “macho” misogyny. Rape is about power. And if you can joke about raping someone, that means you have power. But as the Penn State scandal clearly illustrates, rape is not confined to female victims. Indeed, some incredibly powerful male athletes have come forward as survivors of sexual violence. Would Torres think it was funny to joke with Sugar Ray Leonard about rape?

I’ve said it once, and I’ll keep saying it until it sinks in: Rape is not funny!

Meanwhile, in holy-shit-that-is-some-bad-candy news: Sign the petition to tell a Hershey, Pennsylvania school (which was founded by the chocolate-maker and his wife) that they are douchebags for denying a 13-year-old admission because he is HIV positive. Perhaps they need a better health class? Last time I checked, HIV and AIDS can’t be spread by book-learnin’.

And Program Note: Check back later today for my post as [part of the HERVotes Coalition blog carnival today. Today’s theme is about women, the economy and unemployment insurance. You can follow all the tweets during today’s blog carnival by following the hashtag #HERvotes. And, of course, you can chat with me, too, by following me @TheSinCitySiren.

**If you or someone you know needs help regarding any form of sexual violence, please go to the Nevada Coalition Against Sexual Violence or RAINN for more information and access to a full range of resources.

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3 thoughts on “Here we go again

  1. Pingback: Year in Review: Reproductive Rights in 2011 « The Sin City Siren

  2. Pingback: Year in Review: A look back at stories of sexual violence in 2011 « The Sin City Siren

  3. Pingback: Why feminists and LGBT activists should care about the UFC « The Sin City Siren

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