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Thursday, May 9, 2013

In context of U.S. impunity of violence Cleveland’s “no surprise”

Women, Action and the Media founder Jaclyn Friedman says culture must heal ideas of masculinity, build new structures of justice
Editing, re-reporting, commentary by 
Carolyn Bennett

It is true that the abduction and rape in Cleveland, though currently being subjected to rabid media sensation, is “no surprise” (as Jaclyn Friedman says) ─ despite Americans’ feigning “shock” (consider U.S. government abduction and assassination at home and abroad) ─ but a reflection of an untreated chronic pathology.

Facts of American relations at home and abroad

U.S. Lt. Col.
Jeff Krusinski
A male graduate of U. S. Ivy Leagued Harvard University is paraded before the media, promoted and passed off as an authority saying Hispanic people are mentally inferior and should not be allowed to immigrate or gain citizenship in the United States. Members of the U.S. legislative and executive branches of government are murdering people all over the Middle East and Africa. In this week’s news (alongside the Cleveland case), a U.S. military male holding the rank of lieutenant colonel is reported having accosted a woman in a public parking lot, a soldier promoted by the same military establishment that routinely cultivates, promotes and retains rapists of women and other fellow soldiers serving in the U.S. military as well as those who rape women in countries all across Asia ─ from Japan and Korea to Iraq ─ wherever U.S. military and other personnel are deployed.

reedom to these rapists is taking whatever they want and taking it by violence. From the White House to the U.S. Houses of Congress to neighborhood houses, there is an impunity of violence among American males (time and again, they get away with it) ─ and often with the complicity of women in power who could stand against it, speak out against it; but who instead go along, acquiesce to violence committed by American males.   
Post- U.S. war on Iraqis

Speaking on today’s Democracy Now program pegged to the violence against young women in Ohio, Jaclyn Friedman gets to the heart of a pandemic pathology.  Undertaken as a whole culture, she says ─

We have to heal our ideas of masculinity. Build new justice structures and strengthen the ones we have.

She says, “It is easy to put all the attention on this one case.” [Both men in the Cleveland case, the accused and the intervener in the rescue, had histories of domestic violence.] But sometimes such reaction “is counterproductive” as there exists in the United States “a continuum of violence.”

Impunity missing corrective structure

Neighbors many times in Cleveland had tried to bring authorities’ attention to suspect behaviors long before the victim was able, ten years after the abduction, to find an opening for escape. But the structures necessary to remove the impunity for this violence were missing, Friedman says.  Police apparently did not take the allegations seriously. They and others looked the other way.
U.S. Cleveland neighbor
Ariel Castro

ad Ariel Castro been alleged to have been dealing drugs, she observes, a SWAT team would have descended on his house. Without “structures that remove impunity for violence,” violence continues unabated (as drone strikes, extrajudicial assassination, endless wars).

Toxic masculinity: total impunity for rapists

Most rapes go unreported but when people do come forward, when they report, when they do bring charges of rape, Friedman says ─

The charges, compared with other violent crimes, are very unlikely to be prosecuted.

Even when rape charges are prosecuted, they are very unlikely to result in convictions.

This happens within the military and it happens outside the military, which is why sexual violence is a pandemic in this country and elsewhere.

Culture must mend culture of violence, end impunity

Jaclyn Friedman says we must “heal our ideas of the masculinity. Build new justice structures and strengthen the ones we have” ─ a herculean task undertaken by the whole culture to mend and amend this cultural defect.

“We need to create police or other justice structures that communities can trust”: consider an undocumented immigrant who has been raped” (in the shadows doubly intimidated into silence); “consider communities and individuals who, for great reasons,” she says, are inclined to distrust police.

igh in our list of priorities is the drone program, Friedman observes; but where are the resources for solving the problem of rape, she asks. If, as a culture, “we prioritized women’s safety”; if “ending sexual violence” were high on our list of cultural values ─ “we would be pouring massive resources into this cultural problem.”

Calling for ‘more policing’ or ‘better policing’, though necessary, is insufficient, she says.  “We need to strengthen existing justice structures and build new ones.” Make our combined effort, the entire culture’s priority ─ to heal our ideas of masculinity.

Sources and notes

“Behind the Cleveland Kidnappings, a Culture of ‘Toxic Masculinity’ and Gender-Based Violence,” May 9, 2013, http://www.democracynow.org/2013/5/9/behind_the_cleveland_kidnappings_a_culture

Jaclyn Friedman

Jaclyn Friedman is a writer, performer, and activist, founder and the executive director of Women, Action & the Media (a national organization working for gender justice in media). Her books include Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape (edited); What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex & Safety. Her article “Drinking and Rape: Let’s Wise Up About It” was originally published by Women’s eNews (February 2007) and reprinted in several major online outlets. Friedman is a popular speaker on campuses and at conferences across the United States and beyond; and has been a contributor to many print and broadcast outlets and programs.

Friedman holds an MFA (Emerson College) in creative writing. She has been a student and instructor of IMPACT safety training and in that capacity “helped bring safety skills to the communities which most need them, including gang-involved high school students and women transitioning out of abusive relationships,” http://www.jaclynfriedman.com/about/bio

Bennett's books are available in New York State independent bookstores: Lift Bridge Bookshop: www.liftbridgebooks.com [Brockport, NY]; Sundance Books: http://www.sundancebooks.com/main.html [Geneseo, NY]; Mood Makers Books: www.moodmakersbooks.com [City of Rochester, NY]; Dog Ears Bookstore and Literary Arts Center: www.enlightenthedog.org/ [Buffalo, NY]; Burlingham Books – ‘Your Local Chapter’: http://burlinghambooks.com/ [Perry, NY 14530]; The Bookworm: http://www.eabookworm.com/ [East Aurora, NY] • See also: World Pulse: Global Issues through the eyes of Women: http://www.worldpulse.com/ http://www.worldpulse.com/pulsewire http://www.facebook.com/#!/bennetts2ndstudy


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