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Fox Contributor: ‘Cult of victimology’ around rape stifles debate

By Megan Carpentier
Tuesday, May 10, 2011 15:28 EDT
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Kirsten Powers, a Fox News and Daily Beast contributor and former Clinton Administration official, became the latest women to jump on the anti-”Slutwalk” bandwagon following pop singer Rebecca St. James’ assertion that women are “asking for sex if they’re dressed immodestly” and should refrain from doing so if they don’t wish to be raped.

Powers, who also accused feminists of ignoring the needs of trafficked women by advocating against sexual violence with their “Slutwalk” protests, joined via Twitter this morning. Her beef: the use of the word “slut” — which, actually, stemmed from the police officer who started the outcry.

In January, Toronto Police Service constable Michael Sanguinetti gave a speech to York University law students explained what he thought was one of the best ways to prevent rape: “You know, I think we’re beating around the bush here. I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this – however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised.”

Sanguinetti was likely told not to say that not just because it’s un-PC, but because it’s untrue: studies show that rapists picked victims they deem “vulnerable,” not “slutty”; most rapists attack acquaintances and do so more than once; and most rapists are fully aware that their victims were not consenting to sexual activity. In other words, rapists don’t target their victims because they expect, due to their victims’ clothes, that they will consent; they choose to victimize people because they wish to rape them.

Sanguinetti’s words caused an uproar and led to the Slutwalk protests: like earlier “Take Back The Night” protests against sexual violence, the women who organized it did so to fight back against sexual violence and the perception that it was women’s responsibility (rather then men’s or the judicial system’s) to prevent rape. The goal is to raise awareness of sexual violence and work to counteract stereotypes about its victims in order to aid in prevention.

Powers, however, is not a fan. This morning she Tweeted:

And then followed up with:

At which point, this writer responded: “Uh, actually, it was being told by cops that dressy slutty gets you raped. But way to jump on the bandwagon there.”

She replied:

So this writer responded, again: “So, a little 101 here: ‘slut’ is a way to denigrate women, regardless of the facts of their sexuality or history or dress,” adding “When the dude broke into my apartment to rape me, he didn’t care what I was wearing. But the cops did. Both are problematic.”

She responded, as she did to many others, with a link to this article, in which Australian protest organizer Lauren Clair told a reporter “I’m not going to be ashamed,” for how she looks or because she had sex, which the reporter characterized as an effort to “reclaim” the word “slut.” Notably, the protests started in Canada and spread to the U.S. before going to Australia — and, reportedly, aren’t coordinated by one specific source.

After some more testy back and forth, Powers Tweeted this to her followers:

She then suggested that this writer should attempt to be less “juvenile” and “sarcastic” in her responses, without acknowledging that the debate started with her attempts to suggest what language anti-rape protesters should choose to employ in their efforts (or the fact that choosing the term “Slutwalk” brought it more attention than sexual assault awareness protests have had in more than a decade).

Then she Tweeted this after having been informed that this writer was a survivor of sexual assault:

Though first she denied addressing this writer directly when confronted about her statement, she eventually Tweeted “the ‘cult’ refers to modern feminist movement not rape victims. But i think you knew that.” and finally added:

She added, belatedly:

[Disclosure: The author was the victim of a sexual assault in 2008.]

Megan Carpentier
Megan Carpentier is the executive editor of Raw Story. She previously served as an associate editor at Talking Points Memo; the editor of news and politics at Air America; an editor at Jezebel.com; and an associate editor at Wonkette. Her published works include pieces for the Washington Post, the Washington Independent, Ms Magazine, RH Reality Check, the Women's Media Center, On the Issues, the New York Press, Bitch and Women's eNews.
 
 
 
 
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