Tag Archives: direct action to document sexual assault

Solidarity against rape culture at Vanderbilt

The editor of the Vanderbilt student newspaper wrote a nice opinion piece about the visibility of rape culture on a fraternity message board.  After summarizing the toxic discussion, Andre Rouillard shares his conclusion and noted that he had saved the message board discussion and posted it for posterity:

If all of this isn’t rape culture made manifest, then I don’t know what is. I’m not going to waste my limited word count railing against the enabling power of anonymous message boards and social media, the insularity and cliquey-ness of Greek life, or other favorite targets of those who write on this subject but who don’t pay witness to it. This single, 44-post thread is a glimpse into a rape culture that is alive and well here at Vanderbilt. It’s alive in dorm rooms, Greek houses, classrooms and public spaces. It is a culture that commits rape and then comes together to shut down its victim.

“Consider yourself lucky if no one finds this thread,” warns one user. Well, now no one can: The thread was deleted from the website yesterday after 8 p.m. However, you’ll be able to find the entire thread saved here, with the name redacted.

It is plain now that there are groups of individuals at this prestigious, beautiful, diverse institution darkening its classrooms and hallways and making it a less safe and accepting place for the women in attendance. After all of the steps forward that Vanderbilt has taken in my four years here, this thread represents one hundred steps backward. I am deeply ashamed to share classrooms, professors and the name on my soon-to-be-printed diploma with the students represented in this cesspool of destructive gossip and self-serving intimidation. I’d like to think we at Vanderbilt, the lucky few, are better than this — but now, I’m not so sure.

via ROUILLARD: The girl that ratted – InsideVandy: Opinion.

In a badass moment of solidarity, another student has written a shared letter declaring that she is the ‘girl who ratted.’  Sharing risk and making the threats of retaliation visible are both smart responses to the incident.  Julia Ordog explained her strategic thinking:

“I wanted to just do something to make my thoughts on it heard in a concrete way,” she added. Ordog also wanted to demonstrate her support for the alleged victim.

“I came up with this idea of ‘I am the Girl That Ratted’ because in my head, I was thinking about how it really could have been anyone, and how even though I haven’t been a victim myself, it’s something that I feel very passionately about,” she said. “I wanted it to be an ally statement, but also more powerful than that.”

She only circulated the letter to about 60 people initially, who she says were students she had talked to about the online postings, students who she knew were passionate about the issues involved, and close friends. The message spread throughout campus during the course of the day, with Ordog being contacted by several students requesting permission to forward her email along to others.

via ‘I am the girl that ratted’: Collegiate ACB thread sparks viral solidarity movement – News – Inside Vandy.

Small numbers, smart organizing and strategic thinking change culture.

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Filed under feminism, representation, resistance, rhetoric, sexual assault

Accountability: Anonymous hacking Steubenville

Adrian Chen has a provocative essay on a hacker/Anonymous member who was instrumental in articulating the digital actions to challenge rape culture in Steubenville Ohio.

Chen not only describes the mistakes made by Lostutter and Anonymous hackers, but also outlines the cultural impact of this kind of hacktivism.  Here Chen describes the impact of the video released of the football player enthusiastically cheering on the rapes.

The video wasn’t forensic evidence of a crime, but of the attitude that could allow something like the rape to happen over and over again. When people talk about how Anonymous “exposed” Steubenville, they can’t mean the facts of this case, which were utterly botched by KnightSec and its allies. What they mean is that Anonymous exposed how sexual assault is a bigger issue than bad people doing bad things. That it is enabled and even celebrated by a culture that tells young men it’s OK to laugh off a horrific rape as harmless late-night debauchery, to be instagrammed and tweeted about, then expects the rest of us to feel bad for the perpetrators when they’re punished. That’s the valuable lesson of this video, and KYAnonymous alone had uncovered it.

via “Weaponize the Media”: An Anonymous Rapper’s War on Steubenville.

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Digital direct action: accountability for rape

From the Mother Jones article.

Josh Harkinson has written an excellent essay on the digital direct action involved in the documentation of the Steubenville rapes and a Canadian instance of sexual assault and cyber-bullying which resulted in death of Rehtaeh Parsons. 

I didn’t know that Anonymous had helped to document the evidence about the Steubenville Ohio assault (much of it drawn from social media).

About two weeks later, the Anonymous subgroup KnightSec hacked RollRedRoll.com. The hackers posted the incriminating tweets, Saltsman’s Instagram photo, and the names of 11 bystanders. “This is a warning shot,” said a video communiqué featuring a computer-generated voice and the group’s trademark Guy Fawkes figure. The video (watch below) warned that KnightSec would release the phone numbers and Social Security numbers of the entire football team unless “all accused parties come forward by New Year’s Day and issue a public apology to the girl and her family.”

via Exclusive: Meet the Woman Who Kicked Off Anonymous’ Anti-Rape Operations | Mother Jones.

One result of the increased focus was the visibility of community support for the rapists.   In some ways the hacking made community accountability in Steubenville possible.  And after the evidence had been released, Anonymous hosted at least nine protests to force police action against the perpetrators. After one significant video was released the numbers swelled to what might be described as critical mass and in front of thousands of angry protesters, the women of Steubenville spoke about other rapes.

And vent they did. For four hours, there was a catharsis of personal pain and grief that nobody in the small town could have imagined. Women who had been raped stood in front of the crowd, clad in Guy Fawkes masks, to share their stories. Some of them unmasked at the end of their testimonies as they burst into tears. Rapes at parties, date rapes, rapes by friends and relatives—their pent-up secrets came pouring out. “It turned into this women’s liberation movement, in a way,” MC recalls. “And it just changed everything. There was nothing anybody could do against us at that point because it was so real and so true.”

via Exclusive: Meet the Woman Who Kicked Off Anonymous’ Anti-Rape Operations | Mother Jones.

The audio clips are available on the Mother Jones site.

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