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On VAW Again (Because It's Still A Problem)

Written by Emma Glassman-Hughes

You know those days when you wake up from a terrible night’s sleep in a pool of your own sweat because New York City cranked the humidity up to Unbearable% during the only summer that you decided to ~skip~ the air conditioning because of the ~environment~ or whatever and then you step down from your rickety loft bed (also: heat rises, folks--they were not kidding when they said this) and your aching calf reminds you of how you nearly fell to your abrupt and naked death in the shower the previous morning and your hair is frizzy and you’re paranoid about the possibility of mice in your kitchen so you skip breakfast and head to work through the marshmallow thick air and you sit down at a desk and open your computer to all these awful reports about different forms of global violence against women and to cope, you plug in power ballads from Adele and Beyoncé and stuff your face with Reese’s minis? You know those days?

 

Happy Thursday. I’m so happy to have you with us.

 

Instead of penning (with a keyboard because I’m a #millennial) yet another tearful manifesto about the culture of violence that continues to break and rebreak our world, I will let these three different stories--each one a representation of three different forms of violence against women--do most of the talking this week. At the end of it all, be sure to treat yo'self to some Beydele and/or some Reese’s minis. Or listen to this.

 

Violence Against Women in Australia 

This story of sexism starts with the callous comments of some sportscasters who are radically unaware of the mess they are contributing to. A ragtag group of ‘blokes’ who apparently stumbled right out of the 7th grade and onto a nationally broadcast sports show decided that said show would be an appropriate place to share their (ttly hilarious) collective desire to drown (yes, DROWN) Caroline Wilson--a well-known and well-decorated football writer in Australia. Lots of laughs were had by these sporty, white men until other humans heard what they said and called them out for throwing wood on the fire that is the normalization of violence against women. To get themselves out of time-out, they issued an apology expressing remorse that their humor was not well-received. Yawn.

Fast forward to this week on an Australian talk show, where a man opened up about the brutal murder of his 23-year-old sister. He shared this story with the intention of learning--from the accompanying panel of media personalities--which steps could be taken societally to keep violence against women from being normalized. In his question, he mentioned the Caroline Wilson story as an example of why he feared it already was.

Instead of honoring this man’s pain and his question, one of the panelists, Steve Price, took the opportunity to defend the sportscasters and argue that they shouldn’t continue to be publicly dragged, because they apologized for their behavior. When one of the female panelists, Van Bandham, tried to silence that nonsense and circle back to the question at hand, Steve interrupted her 13 times and dismissed her impassioned reaction to a conversation about ending violence against women by calling her ‘hysterical.’

Oh, and in the days following, this happened.

 

Violence Against Women and Police Brutality

A year ago yesterday, Sandra Bland died in police custody (where she was sent due to a “routine traffic stop”). She is much of the reason why videos like the one below make us especially anxious about the health and safety of black women in this country. When a mob of militant police officers charges at a single, peacefully protesting woman, we are reminded of the bravery it takes to literally just stand up and share your thoughts as a black person.

 

Violence Against Women and Institutionalized Apathy

Because they appear to be too busy aggressively manhandling women on the street, police in this country aren’t testing rape kits that come through their offices. There’s a massive backlog of untested (and destroyed) rape kits in this country that are just sitting on the potential to prove the guilt of a mind-boggling number of rapists. Excuses are made about lack of funding, so some superstar celebs are throwing dough at the cause including VP Joe Biden and hip-hop legend Erykah Badu. Erykah’s contribution--which is coming out of donated funds from ticket sales--is unique, though, because it’s specifically going toward an organization called The African American 490 Challenge in Detroit, Michigan, a city where 81% of victims associated with rape kits are black.

 

Some quick facts from their site:

-More than five years ago, 11,341 unopened, untested rape kits were found in a Detroit Police Department storage unit

-Each rape kit costs $490 to process

-As of August 31st, 2015, the number of suspected serial sexual offenders identified is 487

-21% of victims were under the age of 16

 

*sigh* Who needs a hug?

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