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Men must stop giving ethical sewers moral comfort

Charles Adler on how men see sexual harassment.  Sadly many women act in the same way.  Most men have understood what I went through.  Some of the women closest to me blamed me to protect the men that attacked me.

As I write this, I know we still live in the dark ages as far as sex crimes are concerned.

Many male opinion leaders in recent days have used the same old contaminated playbook, focused on what women knew and when they knew it.

When will women come forward,” they ask.

And when women like Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow come forward to support Ashley Judd and Asia Argento and Lucia Evans, the question becomes “What took these women so long?”

Sexual crimes are still considered women’s issues. But we don’t pervert journalistic justice on massive frauds or mass murders. Media pundits don’t put Bernie Madoff’s victims on trial.

We didn’t badger the people and charities that got plundered because they chose to invest with the villain Madoff. We don’t pile on country music fans for unwittingly entering a killing field in Las Vegas.

But for some reason, when it comes to sexual harassment and sexual assault, the burden is on women to expose their souls to us.

Every male needs to listen to the audio tape of Harvey Weinstein preying on the model that he had already pawed earlier. He demands that she come into his hotel room and swears on his kids she has nothing to fear.

When she won’t submit, he threatens with the loss of his “friendship.” That’s no idle threat. It means whatever work he may have for her will disappear.

Because of his influence, it means work she may be able to get with others may also vanish. Her career could be dusted unless she participates in Harvey Weinstein’s idea of fun.

I am not here to litigate this feral hound. I simply want to ask my fellow men to arrest our impulses to burden women exclusively with outing the hounds.

Any woman who may have been interfered with and extorted and violated by Harvey Weinstein had a boyfriend or a husband or fellow actors who would know what Harvey was about.

Not knowing every single detail of every encounter is no excuse for inaction. There is no deep, dark mystery as to why Weinstein was able to purchase silence from male superstars who had to know.

But if you’re an actor who knows about Weinstein’s conduct and are making money inside the empire, you find ways of getting along with Darth Vader Weinstein.

And the last thing you ever do is go to the police, or the district attorney or the New York Times.

While these actors who knew could have come forward with information and didn’t, there were many men in the corner suites of networks and movie studios who also could have spoken out or gone to the authorities many years ago.

You will hear their voices now talking about how outraged they are.

But how outraged were they when they were aware of sizable cheques that were being written to shut women up? How outraged were they when they first learned that the man they were doing business with, and sometimes investing in, was accused of being a serial predator?

They wrote it off as an occupational hazard, the Hollywood culture and all that blah blah blah.

What’s most corrosive is that they ultimately viewed the behaviour as someone else’s problem.

And the someone else was always a woman.

There is much about the Harvey Weinstein story that has not yet been published. But let’s put this on the record now. Rape is not a women’s issue. It’s a human issue. Men who know something should say something, and what they should never say is “Why are women not coming forward sooner?”

Many men who play this game are publicly big on supporting all kinds of causes that are dedicated to human rights and human dignity. They are publicly generous.

But on the issue of sex crimes they are privately aware of they are morally miserly.

Silence is a predator’s best friend. Males have been silent for too long.

Instead of telling jokes about the Harvey Weinsteins and demanding that women do more to call them out we need to stop enabling our fellow men in getting away with murdering the dignity of our colleagues and sisters and girlfriends and wives.

I am hoping we can finally make some human progress if the Harvey Weinstein story forces our male consciences to whisper six sad words: “I’m ashamed to be a man.”

“Sex assault is not about sex. It’s about power, it’s about the abuse of power," former VP Joe Biden says in speech

As reported on CNN

“Sex assault is not about sex. It's about power, it's about the abuse of power," former VP Joe Biden says in speech

He is also traveling for speeches on other issues. He’ll be at Rutgers University on Thursday for a discussion about sexual assault on college campuses — one that comes a day after he sharply criticized Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood executive producer and Democratic megadonor at the Anti-Violence Project Courage Awards in New York City.

“My father taught me that the greatest sin was the abuse of power: Mental. Physical. Or economic,” Biden said there in his first comments about Weinstein since reports of his history of his sexual assaults emerged six days earlier. “The cardinal sin was for a man to use his power to abuse a woman or a child. It is disgusting. But because of the bravery of so many courageous women speaking up. Putting their careers at risk to save other women from similar abuse, this disgusting behavior — at least on the part of Harvey Weinstein — has been brought to an abrupt and justifiable end.”

Glad to see that at least some people get this.

Sexual violence against women: The scope of the problem

A research paper that looks at the extremely wide scope of violence towards women.

Child sexual abuse is global problem.  A number of reviews and meta-analyses have been undertaken on child abuse victimisation, and have found lifetime prevalence rates ranging from 7–36% for women and 3–29% for men.50–52 The WHO MCS found that between 1 and 21% of women interviewed reported child sexual abuse before the age of 15 years. In most cases, the perpetrator was a male family member other than the father or stepfather. The IMAGES study found rates of child sexual abuse against boys ranged, for example, from between 3% in Croatia, 8% in Chile, to 17% in Rwanda and 21% in India. Other data on the history of child sexual abuse (including both forced sexual intercourse and other sex act including such as unwanted touch) reported by adult women sourced from large Reproductive Health national surveys from Latin America and the Caribbean, found prevalence rates among women from 5.8% in El Salvador, 4.0% in Nicaragua, 2.9% in Ecuador, and 2.6% in Paraguay. Population-based data on the prevalence of child sexual abuse perpetration are completely lacking.

National surveys undertaken in developing countries have found high rates of child sexual abuse. Research from Bangladesh found a high proportion of men interviewed reported experiencing some form of sexual abuse during childhood (37% of urban man and 22% of rural). Other recent large studies on child abuse have been undertaken in Swaziland (girls only) and Tanzania. The Tanzanian study found that nearly three out of every 10 girls and three out of every 20 boys reported having experienced sexual abuse. The study in Swaziland found that about one in three girls had experienced some form of sexual violence before the age of 18 years. Most perpetrators (75%) were men and boys from the victims’ communities. In Switzerland, as survey of more than 6500 school children found that 22% of girls and 8% of boys reported ever having experienced sexual assault at least once in their lives, but only 3–5% of them said they had reported the abuse.56 Data from the US-based Adverse Childhood Experiences study found that 24.7% of girls and 16.0% of boys had experienced sexual abuse during their childhood.

Estimates for child sexual abuse vary greatly between studies. As with other types of sexual violence, variations in prevalence may be explained by differing methods and definitions used. Memory of the abuse may be repressed and thus prevent disclosure or uncertainty about what ‘really happened’. Much of the research has been conducted with adults asking about childhood experiences, and this increases the likelihood of recall bias. If children are interviewed, comparability is hindered by the age structure of the population (i.e. it is not possible to calculate the proportion of children ‘ever’ abused). Similarly, if adults are interviewed a past year prevalence of child sexual abuse cannot be calculated. The estimates cited by research need to be interpreted with these limitations in mind.

Ugh.  I wasn’t alone.  The study is worth the read.

Sexual assault the focus of Broom’s live podcast fundraiser

From The StarPhoenix

Looking back at a year of interviews with regular people about their day-to-day lives, Shawn Broom had an unhappy realization.

“A lot of our — especially female — guests have at some point in the conversation brought up the fact that they were raped or sexually assaulted, or they know someone who was,” said Broom, creator and host of The Story of U podcast.

“Obviously I knew it was a problem in society, but I didn’t realize how prevalent it was and how far-reaching it was.”

That epiphany is the reason for A Night of Hope and Healing, a Regina Sexual Assault Centre fundraiser scheduled for Tuesday night at the Artesian.

The panel discussion about rape and sexual assault will feature four guests, three of whom were part of a past podcast episode.

“Part of his goal is to address stigma,” said Kate McEvenue, a panellist and counsellor at the Regina Sexual Assault Centre.

“Hopefully having these honest conversations, it will encourage others to be a little bit more open-minded and a little bit more understanding of what a person’s life can be like, especially after a trauma.”

While her counterparts will share their personal experiences with sexual assault, McEvenue anticipates she’ll talk more from a professional perspective, offering information and advice.

According to Statistics Canada information: 1,196 sexual assaults were recorded in Saskatchewan in 2016; 95 per cent of sexual assaults are not reported to police; and, one in three women will experience sexual violence in their lifetime.

Kids Are Better Friends When They Spend Time Away From Screens

From the New Yorker

In the summer of 2012, 51 children visited a summer camp just outside Los Angeles. The children were typical Southern Californian public school kids: an equal mix of boys and girls aged 11 or 12 years old, from a variety of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. All of them had access to a computer at home, and roughly half owned a phone. On average, they spent an hour texting friends each day, about two and a half hours watching TV, and just over an hour playing computer games.

For this one week, the children would leave their phones and TVs and gaming consoles at home. Instead, they hiked and learned to use compasses and to shoot bows and arrows. They learned how to cook over a campfire and how to tell an edible plant from a poisonous plant. They weren’t explicitly taught to look each other in the eyes, face-to-face, but in the absence of new media, that’s exactly what happened. Instead of reading “LOL” and staring at smiley-face emojis, they actually laughed and smiled. Or didn’t laugh and smile, if they were sad or angry.

On Monday morning, when the kids arrived at the camp, they took a short test called the DANVA2, which stands for the Diagnostic Analysis of Nonverbal Behavior. It’s a fun test—one of those tests that goes viral on Facebook—because all you have to do is interpret the emotional states of a bunch of strangers. For half the test you look at their faces in photos, and for the other half you listen to them read a sentence aloud. Then you decide whether they’re happy or sad or angry or fearful.

That may sound trivial, but it isn’t. Some of the faces and voices are easy to read—these are labeled “high-intensity”—but many of them are subtle. Like deciding whether the Mona Lisa is smiling inside, or whether she’s just bored or unhappy. I tried the test and got some of the answers wrong. One guy sounded mildly depressed, but the test told me he was actually mildly afraid.

The summer camp kids had the same experience. They made an average of 14 errors across the 48-item test. Four days of camping and hiking later, the kids were ready to file onto buses to return home. Before they did, the researchers administered the DANVA2 again. They reasoned that a week of face-to-face interaction without distraction from gadgets might make the kids more sensitive to emotional cues.

Mark and Oliver are way better brothers to each other when they don’t have phones.

South Africa’s rape epidemic

In a survey, 38% of men in one township admit to having used force or threats to obtain sex

In a survey, 38% of men in one township admit to having used force or threats to obtain sexBrown Lekekela dreads the end of the month. Payday means binge drinking. Violence follows. Women turn up battered and distraught at his gate, usually with small children in tow. They have nowhere else to go: Mr Lekekela’s emergency shelter, Green Door, is the only one in all of Diepsloot, a hardscrabble township north of Johannesburg that is home to an estimated half a million souls. The shelter, built in the yard of his humble house, can fit two women and their children, plus maybe one more family on the couch in his office. He runs it on donations and sheer willpower.

Mr Lekekela has a first-aid kit and some training to treat minor injuries. For more serious ones, it can take hours for an ambulance to arrive. Sometimes the women (or their children) have been raped. But with no other income or support, they often end up returning to their abusive partners. “It’s hard,” says the soft-spoken Mr Lekekela. “But if I don’t do it, who will?”

Rape and domestic violence are hard to measure, since victims often suffer in silence. And headline-writers overuse the word “epidemic”. But in South Africa it clearly applies. For a study published in November by the University of the Witwatersrand and Sonke Gender Justice, a non-profit group, 2,600 men in Diepsloot were surveyed anonymously. An astonishing 38% admitted to having used force or threats to obtain sex in the preceding year. Add those who said they had beaten, hurt or threatened to use a weapon against a woman, and the share jumps to 54%. Of those men, more than half said they had committed such crimes more than once.

Many men in Diepsloot, as in many other parts of South Africa, do not think they are doing anything wrong. They think they have a right to use force against their partners. In addition, many of the men interviewed had themselves experienced childhood abuse or trauma. Some were mentally ill. Those who abuse others suffer few consequences, whether from the law or neighbours. Diepsloot, a warren of shacks with pockets of small houses, did not exist until the mid-1990s, so everyone comes from somewhere else. “These men think they can do whatever they like,” says Precious Moeketsi, a 28-year-old with two young children who shares a shack with her sister’s family. “I feel worried living here.”

Although South Africa has strict laws against violence, they are spottily enforced. Researchers found that of 500 sexual-assault cases reported to the police in Diepsloot since 2013, only one resulted in a conviction. Small wonder rape is so rarely reported. (Researchers guess that police are informed about only one of every nine sexual assaults in South Africa.) Women worry about what friends and family will think. Some fear reprisals. Policemen are sometimes sceptical and tell women to go home and smooth things over. Even officers who take the issue seriously are hamstrung. Diepsloot’s police station has no specialist unit for rape and sexual-assault cases; the nearest one takes an hour to get to. The closest state hospital that can examine victims is 30km away.

Why Police Dismiss 1 in 5 Sexual Assault Claims as Baseless

Robyn Dootlittle in the Globe and Mail. In a 20-month-long investigation into how police handle sexual assault allegations, The Globe and Mail gathered data from more than 870 police forces. The findings expose deep flaws at every step of the process

When complaints of sexual assault are dismissed with such frequency, it is a sign of deeper flaws in the investigative process: inadequate training for police; dated interviewing techniques that do not take into account the effect that trauma can have on memory; and the persistence of rape myths among law-enforcement officials.

“What does unfounded mean to you? What does unfounded mean to anybody? It means ‘You’re lying,’.” says Ottawa criminologist Holly Johnson, who has extensively studied that city’s unfounded cases. She believes that high rates send a message that police don’t believe large numbers of complainants, “which reinforces damaging myths that women lie about sexual victimization, and could act as a deterrent to already low reporting.”

To conduct its review, The Globe and Mail requested unfounded data from every police service in the country, which covers more than 1,100 jurisdictions. Though not all forces complied with the request, The Globe received data from 873 police jurisdictions, which represent 92 per cent of the population.

Cooking for the Pope

From The Paris Review

In a way, Michelangelo was lucky: his works were embellished, not destroyed, and he didn’t live to see the revision of The Last Judgment. Others faced the prospect of looking on as their lifetime’s work was erased from collective memory. One such unfortunate was . As head chef for popes and cardinals throughout the middle decades of the sixteenth century, he prepared unashamedly decadent banquets for the most powerful men on earth. For thirty years, his art embodied the thrilling, brief moment when the papal court was one of the world’s leading patrons of artistic expression and intellectual enquiry. But no sooner had he hit his peak than he was forced to lay down his ladle: reform had gripped the Vatican.

Bartolomeo Scappi, the cook for PopesRealizing that his life’s work would soon be only a memory lingering on the taste buds of a chosen few, in the last years of his life he recorded his genius in Opera dell’arte del cucinare. Published in 1570, the year of Scappi’s seventieth birthday, it was the world’s first illustrated cookbook, a colossal nine-hundred-page tome that includes a thousand recipes and serves as a treatise on cooking as an art form, a courtly pursuit, and a domestic science. It’s virtually the only record of Scappi’s existence; a fragmentary account of his lifelong enchantment with food, and a veiled lamentation that the old sensibility of sensory delight was being mashed to tasteless pulp under the weight of puritanism.

Scappi was born to modest circumstances around the turn of the sixteenth century, probably in Dumenza, a tiny town about forty miles north of Milan. At the time, medieval tastes still dominated elite dinner tables. In the Ancient world, the cuisine of the Mediterranean, based on bread, oil, and wine, was held up as a marker of its innate superiority over the Germanic peoples, with their supposedly barbaric fare of meat, milk, and beer. After the fall of Rome, the two traditions slowly merged until, in the late Middle Ages, the food served on the tables of the mighty across Europe was broadly similar: heavily spiced sweet-and-sour combinations, given layers of earthy complexity with great heaps of garden herbs. Many of the dishes Scappi chose to record in his magnum opus retain that sensibility, such as his recipe for an omelette made with pig’s blood goat cheese, spring onion, cinnamon, clover, nutmeg, marjoram, and mint—the kind of concoction that would nowadays be considered inedible just about anywhere on earth. Yet, among these forbidding relics of the medieval world, the Opera abounds with innovation that put cooking—perhaps for the first time—on a plinth next to the other creative arts.

Stimulated by discovery and innovation, the young cook developed a culinary identity that embraced the whole of the Italian Peninsula at a time when the notion of an Italian cuisine was as distant as the notion of an Italian nation. The Opera overflows with references to a Bolognese sauce for this, a Genoese garnish for that, or a delicious dessert known and loved by the people of Padua but virtually secret from anyone else. It suggests he traveled a lot with the express intention of trawling markets, speaking to traders, and experimenting with every new ingredient that came his way. Though he hardly ever refers to something as “Italian,” in a rudimentary way Scappi’s recipes inadvertently assemble the nation that had yet to be made, sitting side by side dishes from the Veneto to the Kingdom of Naples in a single, sumptuous meal. This roving palate also encompassed the New World, the flavors of which are on every page of the Opera—especially sugar, which features in something like 90 percent of its recipes, including as a pizza topping, along with pine nuts and rosewater.

It was never enough for Scappi to please diners: he set out to amuse, astonish, and confuse them with vast menus of pungent flavors and retina-searing colors, presented in displays more akin to a performance art piece than a dinner party. His banquets were the talk of royal and ecclesiastical courts throughout Christendom; one of them comprised hundreds of dishes, including seventy-seven different desserts and edible statues of weird beasts from the Orient, Greek gods, and cavorting nymphs. Once their bellies had been filled, guests were presented with posies of silk flowers attached to stems of pure gold. Scappi specialized in elaborate visual jokes, such as salmon sculpted into the form of a glazed ham or a goat’s head, and everything was served on highly polished tableware of silver, gold, and exquisite Maiolica. Decorous restraint was not to be found in his kitchen.

The tone for his service in the Catholic church had been set early in the sixteenth century by Pope Leo X, the aesthete son of the Medici patriarch, Lorenzo the Magnificent. Leo measured up to every stereotype of the Medici and the Renaissance papacy; even the Catholic Encyclopedia admits that he “looked upon the papal court as a center of amusement.” He inherited a strong treasury, stocked with a cash surplus of seven hundred thousand ducats; within two years every penny had gone. He blew a hundred thousand ducats on his first day, celebrating his investiture with a spectacular fireworks display and an indulgent feast before retiring for the night with his lover Alfonso Petrucci, whom Leo soon appointed Cardinal of Siena. His reign was an eight-year whirl of spending and sensuousness, during which he also sponsored dozens of artists and inquiring minds.

It was in Leo’s banquets that these dual turbines of his persona—debauched spendthrift and sophisticated patron—most powerfully coalesced. Cardinals arrived with courtesans in tow; young naked men emerged from giant puddings; nobody rose the following morning without a sore head. To his supporters, these banquets were an example of the best of the new papacy, celebrating the glory of God in all his forms. To his critics—and there were vast numbers of them—the bacchanalia showed that the Protestants had a point. A Venetian ambassador recorded a sixty-course meal that featured monkey brains, parrot tongues, Turkish fish and wines and fruits from all across the Mediterranean. More astonishing was Leo’s supposed rock-star insistence that all the empty silverware be tossed out the window at the end of each course. An official more sensitive to his Holiness’s mounting debts apparently arranged to have nets fixed beneath the windows to save them platters from the Tiber.