May
24th 2011
Feminists demand let justice be done

Posted under: American history, class, Gender, Intersectionality, race, the body, unhappy endings, women's history

UPDATED, WEDNESDAY MAY 25, 11:45 MDT

A correspondent sent this to me, so I pass it along to you to sign and return to kscarbro AT soemail DOT rutgers DOT edu.  UPDATE:  Kathryn Scarbrough has asked us not to e-mail our signatures–her e-mail in-box has been overwhelmed.  If you wish to sign the petition, you may do so by clicking this link and adding your name.

Feminists Demand Let Justice Be Done

Rape is always about power and domination; it is sexualized violence.

Rape and sexual harassment of women are pervasive at all strata of society and in all corners of the globe. Women will never be fully free and able to enjoy equality with men until this ends. As feminists, we see the arrest of former International Monetary Fund director Dominique Strauss-Kahn on sexual assault charges as an opportunity to increase public awareness and as a wake-up call to renew action against sexual violence, not only in the US where his arrest occurred and in France, where media and many public figures are portraying him as the victim, but around the world.

We join French feminists in saying that just as Strauss-Kahn is innocent until proven guilty, his accuser must also be respected and believed to be credible unless proven false. We commend her employer, Sofitel, and the action of the NYC Police for taking her complaint seriously.   We call for feminists around the world to join with her union (New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council Local 6) in collecting funds for legal and daily expenses, as her work is now curbed and life circumstances vastly altered.  Funds and support are urgently needed to counter a common dynamic in these cases-the pressure to settle out of court for a fee. Contributions for the victim can be sent to Judson Memorial Church (attention Women’s Fund) 55 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012-1018.  The rich and powerful must not be allowed to buy the silence of victims.  This crime must have its day in court.

We also share French feminist indignation at the deliberate and opportunistic confusion of seduction and sexual violence, from Strauss-Kahn’s declaration that he “loves women,” to the journalists and politicians who rally behind this “Great Seducer.”  It is outrageous that the allegation of attempted rape during the course of a housekeeper’s work day raises issues about this woman’s life story and sexual history. And portraying powerful Strauss-Kahn as “too civilized” to commit a violent crime plays upon colonial and racist stereotypes vis-à-vis an African immigrant woman.

We adamantly oppose all harassment, sexual violence and rape, and we know that when there is a large discrepancy between the power, the wealth and racial hierarchy of the parties involved, justice is even harder to come by.  All rapists and harassers believe they are entitled, and often when they are part of the power elite they assume that influence will outweigh the legal protection and freedom from coercion all women should enjoy.  Feminists around the world demand that justice be done.

Women of all countries, unite!

This statement was initiated by the following feminists:

Bettina Aptheker, CA, U.S.
Lori Askeland, OH, U.S.
Eleanor J. Bader, NY, U.S.
Rosalyn Baxandall, NY, U.S.
Halina Bendkowski, Berlin, Germany
Eileen Boris, CA, U.S.
Ariel Dougherty, NM, U.S.
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, CA, U.S.
Judith Ezekiel, Toulouse, France
Francisca de Haan, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Carol Hanisch, NY, U.S.
Myrna Hill, CA, U.S.
Merle Hoffman, NY, U.S.
Barrie Karp, NY, U.S.
Bea Kreloff, NY, U.S.
Tobe Levin von Gleichen, Frankfurt, Germany
Ilana Lowy, Paris France
Fran Luck, NY, U.S.
Claire G. Moses, VA, U.S.
Marge Piercy, MA, U.S.
Fanette Pollack, NY, U.S.
Marilyn Porter, Newfoundland, Canada
Deborah Rosenfelt, MD, US
Kathryn Scarbrough, NJ, U.S.
Donna Schaper, NY, U.S.
Lise Vogel, NY, U.S.
Suzanna Walters, IN, U.S.
Naomi Weisstein, NY, U.S.
Barbara Winslow, NY, U.S.
Laura X, CA, U.S.
Also signed by
Jane Barry, PA, U.S.
Nancy Krieger, MA, U.S.
Vicki Nichols, VA, U.S.
Mary Carlson, CA, U.S.
Shailja Patel, Nairobi, Kenya
Elaine Shinbrot, NJ, U.S.
Barbara Rylko-Bauer, MI, U.S.
Amanda Frisken, NY, U.S.
Dabney Evans, GA, U.S.
Trude Bennett, NC, U.S.
Amy Kessleman , NY, U.S.
Therese McGinn, NY, U.S.
Carolina Neiva Viancello, Brussels, Belgium
Comfort Momoh, London, UK
Naana Otoo-Otortoy, London, UK
Abebah Tekleab, Stockholm, Sweden
Khady Koita, Tervuren, Belgium
Ambara Hashi Nur, Aarhus, Denmark
Etenesh Hadis, Vienna, Austria
Batulo Essek, Helsinki, Finland
Julie Kakiese, Brussels, Belgium
Fana Habteab, Uppsala, Sweden
Maretta Short, NJ, USA
Martha Vicinus, MA, USA
Rosalind Petchesky,
Lauri Andress, TX, U.S
Susan Reverby, MA, U.S.
Leslie Dubbin, CA, U.S.
Ellen Ross
Temma Kaplan, NY, U.S.
Troy Shinbrot, NJ, U.S.
Roberta Salper, MA, U.S.
Stephanie Gilmore, DE, U.S.
Ann M. Little, CO, U.S.

I like this petition except for the reference to the crime victim as the ”accuser.”  As I’ve written here before, “accuser” not only plays into the new framing of rape as a he-said/she-said problem rather than as crime, it’s also factually incorrect given the fact that the D.A. and the NYCPD have charged Strauss-Kahn with a crime and even clapped his a$$ in Rikers earlier this week.  So it is they who are the “accusers.”  The victim of the crime is not “accuser.”

6 Comments »

6 Responses to “Feminists demand let justice be done”

  1. Z on 24 May 2011 at 11:41 pm #

    Good petition and good point on vocabulary.

  2. Tenured Radical on 25 May 2011 at 9:42 am #

    I think the accuser language is a post-Duke lax development and I agree, don’t like it.

  3. cgeye on 25 May 2011 at 10:15 am #

    You should let them know, ma’am. If they can’t see that lapse, how will the committee hold up when they face individual pressure to back down?

  4. Jeremy C. Young on 25 May 2011 at 12:18 pm #

    Just got the same e-mail from Scarborough. Off to sign the petition in online-petition form!

  5. Feminist Avatar on 25 May 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    I wonder if ‘the accuser’ comes from not wanting to use the word ‘victim’, which has its own problems within feminism because of connotations related to its association with powerlessness and not being able to recover – I know in some circles ‘survivor’ is preferred. But, I agree accuser isn’t a good alternative.

  6. Z on 25 May 2011 at 5:31 pm #

    @feminist avatar, what a Louisiana cop told me once, correctly pointing out that I was not standing up strongly enough for my rights: “I see a crime scene here. I do not mean to disempower you by saying what I am about to say, but in this crime scene, you are the victim; in police and legal work that is the technical term for what happened to you here.”

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