by Amanda Marcotte,
June 2, 2013
As Martha Kempner recently reported here at RH Reality Check, Roman Polanski—admitted rapist and all-around creep—doesn’t like it when women can control their own fertility. “I think that the Pill has changed greatly the woman of our times, ‘masculinizing’ her,” he said, firmly characterizing the ability to control your own body as a male-only privilege. “I think that it chases away the romance from our lives and that’s a great pity.” Polanski, who pled guilty to plying a 13-year-old with alcohol in order to make it easier to forcibly penetrate her, thinks that the way to preserve “romance” is to keep women in a state of fear of pregnancy at male whims.
Sadly, as research is beginning to bear out, this violent man’s negative attitudes toward female reproductive autonomy are not merely the eccentricities of an aging misogynist. A lot of men, it turns out, get off on having power over women’s bodies, and are willing to bully, coerce, and even trick women into pregnancy to get that feeling of power over them. It’s called “reproductive coercion,” and it’s way more common that was previously thought, as Kat Stoeffel reports for The Cut.
Stoeffel references a recent study by Dr. Lindsay Clark of the Women and Infants Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, where 641 women who received routine care were asked if they had been threatened or bullied by their partners into getting pregnant or had even had their partners mess with their contraception, by hiding pills or poking holes in condoms. A shocking 16 percent had experienced such abuse, a number which reflects other, still preliminary studies that show a widespread problem of men trying to force pregnancy on unwilling partners. The problem is both so common and so hidden that the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists is recommending that doctors screen for reproductive coercion in addition to more traditional screening for domestic violence.
Why do men who engage in reproductive coercion do such a thing? Don’t they know that if they successfully force their partners to give birth, they too will be responsible for the baby that results? The behavior is definitely not rational if the goal is a harmonious, happy sex and family life. But domestic abusers don’t want a harmonious, happy life. On the contrary, most of them are perfectly happy, often downright eager, to sacrifice happiness and peace in order to get the buzz of feeling powerful and in control, specifically in control of their female partners. Being so in control that you control her body functions is the ultimate form of control.
Jun 6, 2013
In a disturbing Q&A session, a 17-year-old Jerusalem yeshiva student asked a rabbi in an online forum whether it’s permissible under Jewish law to shoot and kill members of the liberal prayer group Women of the Wall when they gather at the Kotel. The boy was arrested today after Rabbi Baruch Efrati alerted police to the question—which, true to the rabbinic tradition of she’elot u-teshuvot (responsa literature, literally “questions and answers”), he nonetheless deigned to answer.
To give you an idea of the exchange, I’ll translate a bit of the conversation originally posted in Hebrew on the religious Jewish website Kippah:
Q: When I (or anyone else) is at the Western Wall, and the Women of the Wall are there in immodest attire, wearing tallit and tefillin and playing with the Torah scrolls and desecrating God’s name, should I prevent this by shooting at the relevant people, if it cannot be prevented any other way?
A: You must repent for entertaining the notion of killing a person, especially as a means of resolving a dispute. That is not the way of the Torah […] Such questions are presumably designed to ignite a fire [i.e. stir up controversy] in our camp, and don’t come from a pure heart and sincere seeking after God, and I wonder who is behind them and who wants to bloody the debate over the Jewish identity of our precious state. Therefore I debated whether to respond to your question at all, but since somebody someplace may be entertaining similar notions of killing another person, and maybe you are actually asking in earnest, I’ve decided to answer your question, emphasizing that it is not legitimate.
Note the rabbi’s initial suspicion: is this question even being asked sincerely, or is it just a fake-out, a sly attempt to trick the Orthodox establishment into saying something embarrassing that’ll serve to increase resentment toward Israel’s religious population? The speed with which the rabbi jumped to this suspicion is a sign of how heated the debate around religious pluralism—especially as incarnated in Women of the Wall—has grown in recent months.
By Linda Gradstein Posted: 06/06/2013
An Israeli judge sparked an outcry during the hearing of a 19-year-old Israeli woman who was raped by four Palestinians when she was 13. The woman was petitioning the court for the rape to be considered “an act of terror” which would make her eligible for government compensation.
“Some girls enjoy being raped,” Judge Nissim Yeshaya of the District Court in Tel Aviv said, according to Army Radio.
The rape victim was not in the room for the hearing. Her attorney, Roni Aloni-Adovnik described the scene to Army Radio. “In the midst of the passionate debate he (Judge Yeshaya) suddenly said aloud, in earshot of everyone present, “There are some girls who enjoy being raped.” The room fell into silence….And he didn’t even get what he had just said. He didn’t understand why everyone became silent all of a sudden.”
Israeli press reports said the plaintiff collapsed after her lawyer told her about the judge’s remarks and was hospitalized.
Judge Yeshaya said his remarks had been misconstrued.
“This isn’t serious,” he said after the remarks became public. “They are trying to gain publicity off me. I do not believe a rape victim is not hurt or that rape is not a serious offense.”
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called the remark “unfortunate” and “unacceptable” and said he was withdrawing his support for the judge’s appointment as the head of the Likud Party’s Court.
Women’s groups circulated petitions calling for his immediate resignation.
At an unannounced appearance at a radical feminist bookstore in New York, two members of the Russian punk rock group that sparked an international crisis for Vladimir Putin took off their iconic colorful balaclavas and revealed their faces.
Two youthful women using the pseudonyms Fara and Shaiba revealed themselves as members of Pussy Riot, the activist feminist collective that doubles as perhaps the world’s most dangerous band. It was the first time Pussy Riot has ever visited the United States.
Behind the masks, the protests, the music and the controversy that prompted Russian courts to convict two of their comrades on “hooliganism” charges, Fara and Shaiba, dressed in unassuming clothing, looked like any young women who might move about New York or any other city.
That accessibility was central to their message, delivered through translation: “We are keeping the spirit alive. Continue the riot. Right now we are here on a special mission to try to establish connections with like-minded people and organizations throughout the globe.” Any woman in a balaclava who believes in gender equality and is willing to fight for it, they said, can be considered a member of Pussy Riot. They showed their faces, Shaiba said, because they believed they were in a “safe space.”
Their appearance on Monday night at Bluestockings, a feminist bookshop on New York’s Lower East Side, was not announced on the store’s website. Invitations spread through word of mouth. The 50-odd attendees, many of them young activists, were asked to keep news of the band’s arrival off social media and the Internet. The Guardian was able to attend the small gathering provided it kept news of their appearance under a 48-hour embargo and did not photograph Fara and Shaiba with their masks off – all security measures, they said, to avoid the Russian security services that imprisoned their bandmates and continue to target them.
WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice has “more likely than not” prepared a sealed indictment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing classified material, his attorney, Michael Ratner, told The Huffington Post.
Assange said the evidence he and his attorneys have gathered leads him to the same conclusion. “The DOJ admitted in March that its investigation against WikiLeaks is ongoing,” Assange told HuffPost, speaking from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been granted asylum. “U.S. officials in the Bradley Manning pre-trial proceedings admitted that the target of the DOJ grand jury is seven civilians, including the founders and managers of WikiLeaks. The [U.S. attorney] responsible is Neil McBride, the [attorney] for the Eastern District of Virginia, where nearly all national security-related prosecutions take place, seven kilometers from the center of D.C.”
Zachary Terwilliger, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney McBride, said, “The investigation is in fact ongoing and we’re not able to comment on an ongoing investigation.”
Assange was referring to recent comments made by prosecutors in the court martial against Manning, the Army intelligence analyst accused of dumping classified documents to WikiLeaks. The trial phase in Manning’s case began Monday.
“I think it’s more likely than not that there is a sealed indictment against Julian Assange right now,” said Ratner, the head of the Center for Constitutional Rights. The lawyer cited the empaneling of a grand jury in 2010, subpoenas that have been issued, and the number of people associated with WikiLeaks who’ve been contacted by the Justice Department.
“Our contacts with the Department of Justice and the district leave us the impression that there’s a fair possibility that there’s a sealed indictment,” Ratner said. He added that the DOJ has been unresponsive to questions the department normally answers when there is no indictment.
The secrecy surrounding the grand jury investigation of the case had previously been broken. Manning’s friend, David House, was called to testify before the panel last summer and took notes, despite orders not to create a transcript. (His final product, which he posted online, shows prosecutors flummoxed both by his note-taking and his refusal to answer questions.)
The question of whether a sealed indictment against Assange exists is critical to his argument for political asylum. He is fighting extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning related to allegations of sexual assault.