Category Archives: Violence

The Unconditional Love and Exploitation of the Black Male Athlete

By Angela J. Hattery and Earl Smith

It seems every few weeks or so we have this conversation about Black male athletes who violently abuse their White wives and girlfriends (from Mitch Lee to Corey Batey to OJ Simpson to Lawrence Phillips to Ruben Patterson to Ezekiel Elliott and others), and the fact that they are almost never held accountable, in any meaningful way, for their violent actions.

These are certainly not the first or only cases, but they shine a light on a perplexing phenomenon we have been observing, researching and writing about: the unconditional love of the Black male body – as long as he can throw, run, catch, dunk and score in an athletic contest, entertaining fans and making hundreds of millions of dollars for White coaches, owners and athletic administrators.There seems no better American football player in red jersey and helmet holding ball against blacktime to have this conversation again than now, on the heels of the recent college football bowl game season and on the eve of the SuperBowl, games that have or may involve athletes who have been accused of acts of violence against women.

During the last days of 2016 and the first days of 2017, several college football teams faced scrutiny for their protection of Black men accused of heinous crimes, including 12 football players at the University of Minnesota who are accused of gang-raping a White woman in October and a player at the University of Oklahoma, Joe Mixon, who is seen on video punching a White woman in the face, leaving her unconscious

During the last few days of January 2017, six federal lawsuits have been filed against Baylor University where, since 2012, 32 football players have been accused of committing 52 rapes (5 were gang rapes involving 10 players raping one woman).  At Baylor, most of the accused players are Black and all of the victims are White. Data from 2014 reveal that of all NFL players arrested, 55% were arrested for intimate partner violence and another 38% were arrested for sexual violence, in other words 4 in 5 NFL players arrested between 2000 and 2014 were arrested for acts of violence against women. Continue reading

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Angry White Men and Domestic Violence

By Kristin Anderson

Domestic violence happens to all social groups, but it is more likely to occur among those who have to worry about paying the rent or keeping kids safe from neighborhood violence. Data from the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), the most recent large national survey of domestic violence victimization among U.S. adults, show that women who live in households with incomes under $25,000 experience annual victimization at over three times the rate of women in households with incomes of $75,000 or more (here).  Study after study finds that heterosexual women with less access to education and income suffer the highest rates of abuse.

Does this pattern also occur among men?  Are the least educated and poorest men at greatest risk for victimization?  My research with Mick Cunningham shows that the story is more complicated among straight men.  Our analysis of NISVS data finds that both women and men report the highest rate of physical abuse by a partner when they have less than a high school education (11 years, see Figure 1 below).  For women, the risk of abuse falls as their level of education increases.  Among men, the decline is much less steep.  Additionally, the gender gap widens as educational attainment increases: men with college degrees report almost twice the rate of victimization as women with college degrees.  We find the same pattern when we look at earnings: women are less likely to be victims as they earn more income, but men with higher incomes report being abused at similar or even higher levels than men who earn less. Continue reading

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The Violence Against Women Act, Framing, and Feminist Compromise

By Nancy Whittier

During the 2012 elections, unprecedented public argument emerged over what Democrats dubbed Republicans’ “war on women,” as Republican politicians made countless belittling remarks about rape. Republican Representative Ted Akin commented that “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that thing down” and prevent pregnancy, while Representative Ricviolence_9-22-16k Santorum said that rape victims who became pregnant should “make the best out of a bad situation” by having the baby. In addition, Republicans blocked the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This may not seem surprising, but in fact VAWA – first passed in 1994 –  had never been controversial before. It was originally cosponsored by both conservatives and liberals in Congress and some of its strongest opponents in 2012 previously had been cosponsors.

Both the dispute in 2012 and earlier bipartisan support depended on how violence against women is understood. Is it a matter of women’s oppression and thus a feminist issue? Is it a matter of crime and law enforcement and thus a traditionally conservative concern? Is it only a matter of gender, or are there distinct experiences and needs for immigrant women, women of color, Native American women, or LGBT people? Continue reading

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The Gender-Genocide Nexus

By Gabrielle Ferrales, Nollie Nyseth Brehm, & Suzy McElrath

Several hundred thousand people have been killed in state-supported attacks on villages in the Darfur region of Sudan (Degomme and Guha-Sapir 2010), and millions have been displaced (U.S. State Department 2013). Darfur_mapYears after this violence began, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir became the first sitting head of state indicted for the crime of genocide by the International Criminal Court. Due to inaction by the UN Security Council, the Court’s investigation has since been suspended though the violence continues today.

We examine this critical social problem by analyzing the gendered nature of violence committed against men and boys in Darfur and describe the process of inflicting violence as the gender-genocide nexus. Although a substantial body of research on gender-based violence during episodes of mass atrocity has emerged in the last decade, much of this scholarship has focused on violence against women. While we do not seek to divert attention from women and girls, it is important to examine the broad range of violent acts that occur during genocide—including gender-based violence against men and boys. This includes rape, other forms of sexual violence (like sexual assault or genital mutilation), as well as non-sexual acts perpetrated on the basis of gender, such as sex-selective killing.

Using narratives from 1,136 Darfuri refugees from the U.S. State Department’s Atrocities Documentation Survey, we analyzed patterns of gender-based violence perpetrated against men and boys in Darfur. We found that these individuals experienced many forms of gender-based violence, such as rape, genital harm, and sex-selective killings. Darfuri men and boys also are victims of indirect violence, such as witnessing violence perpetrated against members of their family. Continue reading

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A call to knowledge: Let’s gather more data before rushing to action

By Poulami Roychowdhury

In a context like India, where law enforcement personnel are both perpetrators of sexual violence and have limited capacities to enforce legal rights, what should we actually do to counter rape? At the risk of resolving the practical dilemma with a call for academic inquiry, that is exactly what I am about to propose. Before devising more policies and interventions, we need more data and we need better data. The need for data gathering becomes self evident when we examine existing organizational efforts.

Transforming “rape culture” has become an increasingly popular strategy in the aftermath of the Delhi gang rape of 2012. This approach is visible in media commentary about India’s “traditional” culture, satirical videos such as Rape: It’s Your Fault, and awareness building campaigns, such as Breakthrough’s efforts to “make violence against women unacceptable.” I have discussed elsewhere why the cultural turn in organizational efforts is dangerous in post-colonial, developing countries (Roychowdhury 2013). To summarize one of the main issues, cultural interventions are based on a number of assumptions that are tenuously linked to empirical data. These assumptions include the idea that sexual violence occurs because it is culturally “acceptable” and that certain cultures are more violent than others. The limited survey data we have available indicates, however, that on average, Indian women are less vulnerable to sexual violence than women in other countries. According to the Demographic Household Survey, 9% of Indian women have experienced violence versus 18.3% of American women (NFHS 2006). But to what extent these numbers emerge from “cultural” differences largely resides on guesswork. Continue reading

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Filed under Sexual Assault Prevention, Violence

Violence Prevention as a Form of Justice

By Nicola Henry

Much of my work to date has been centered on the reactive currents of judicial, quasi-judicial, and non-judicial mechanisms of justice, and until recently I did not specifically theorize the ways in which the “primary prevention” of violence (preventing violence before it occurs) might well be another mode of justice.

Understanding the socio-cultural determinants of violence – as a feminist project of justice – makes sense when we consider global statistics, and find that women and girls continue to be disproportionately the victims, and men the perpetrators, of sexual violence. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 35% of women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence. Where I live in Australia, 1 in 5 Australian women compared to 1 in 22 Australian men have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime, and since the age of 15, 1.5 million Australian women have experienced sexual assault, 99% of which has been perpetrated by a male. Continue reading

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Why the U.S. Remains Hobbled in Protecting Women from Gun Violence

By Sierra Smucker

Cross-posted with permission from The Society Pages/Scholars Strategy Network .

Gun violence_Smucker_1.14.16

Sign spotted in New Orleans. Bart Everson, Flickr CC.

On May 23, 2014, at Isla Vista near the University of California at Santa Barbara, Elliot Rodger embarked on a violent spree that killed six students and injured 13 others, before killing himself. Police later uncovered a 137-page manifesto titled “My Twisted World,” in which Rodger expressed his desire to punish women for rejecting him on what he called a “Day of Retribution.” For weeks after the event, the nation was transfixed by the horror of Rodger’s actions. The family members of the victims called for gun law reform while others highlighted the gender themes this violent gunman invoked.

In the year 2011, of all the women murdered with guns in cases where relationships to the offender were known, 70% were shot to death by a current or former intimate partner.

Indeed, this highly publicized tragedy links two devastating challenges the United States faces: violence against women and deadly gun crimes. Gun violence in America – including mass shootings like the Rodger case – often falls on women the gunman knows. Despite decades of efforts to reduce the threats, American women continue to be at heightened risk for death or harm by gun violence. My research explores why existing policies fall short of remedying this problem, in part because of gaps in background checks for would-be gun buyers and the proliferation of unlicensed firearms sellers. I also consider why the political environment makes it hard for advocates to advance legislation to reduce gun violence. In the course of my research, the gender disparities have become evident. Continue reading

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Race, Rape, and the Vagaries of the US Criminal Justice System

By Kali Nicole Gross

Zeba Blay’s blog post illustrates how the specter of rape hangs over the harrowing video of an African American girl, Dajerria Becton, 15, being violently forced to the ground by former police officer Cpl. Eric Casebolt in McKinney, Texas. This and other indignant opinion pieces draw attention to a critical issue facing black women in the criminal justice system—sexual assault by law enforcement officers.

It’s a timely subject given last month’s horrific massacre in the Emanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston, South Carolina, when avowed white supremacist Dylann Storm Roof fatally shot nine African Americans. One reason, according to him, is that blacks rape white women. There is a tragic irony to that claim. Roof invoked a tired tool of white supremacy—the myth of the black male rapist—to justify his own extralegal violence against African Americans, the majority of whom (six in total) were black women.

Like his southern racist forerunners, Roof’s claim and actions all but ignore the litany of violent sexual assault against black women committed by white men, those in and out of uniform. Continue reading

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Filed under Collective Action & Social Movements, Crime, Gender & Class, Law & Social Control, Violence

Researching Violence and Asking People to Describe Traumatic Experiences

by Doug Meyer

“How did you get them to talk about these awful experiences?” That’s sometimes the first question my students ask me about my research, which involved interviewing 47 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people about violence they had experienced. Depending on my mood, I answer this question in a variety of ways, but my answer typically boils down to some version of “very carefully.” When I first began interviewing, I was surprised by the amount of information people shared with me – a stranger. I attribute this openness in part to the particular person I become when conducting interviews: warm, nice, sensitive, and constantly giving positive reinforcement (nodding “yes,” and saying “I see,” or “that makes sense” are particular favorites of mine). The persona an interviewer takes on obviously reflects the situation; not to say that I am a jerk in other areas of my life, but how I behave during an interview is in some ways very different from my behavior in other contexts. Continue reading

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Gone Girl is about control, but it can’t control its own message

by Emily West

Spoiler Alert – This blog post is only meant for those who’ve seen or read Gone Girl, or those who have no intention of doing so anyway.

Gone Girl, based on Gillian Flynn’s bestseller, and directed by iconic American director David Fincher on a screenplay by the author, is a bone fide hit. Its plot features a woman who lies about being raped and abused in an effort to punish the men in her life who have wronged her. What could a feminist possibly find of value in a powerful screen image that undermines women who experience abuse in real life but are so often disbelieved or discouraged from reporting? This is by no means a new issue, but it has become even more salient given recent revelations of how reports of sexual assault have been mishandled by so many American college campuses. Is it ‘empowering’ or a sign of ‘progress’ that such an unflattering portrait of a woman can be represented, as has been suggested? Does Amy Elliott Dunne (played by Rosamund Pike) offer an ultimate revenge fantasy for women, using feminine vulnerability as a weapon? My own analysis, and pleasure, in Gone Girl lies not in the idea of gender transgression, but in the notion that the performance demands of certain gendered identities can produce something monstrous. Continue reading

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