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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Who gets to help rape victims?

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Author Topic: Who gets to help rape victims?
Rizzo
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In the paper today I read this... http://www.globeandmail.com/gam/Commentary/20001214/COWENT14.html
The tone of it really bothered me, even though I can see her point of view. The first and last paragraphs, especially, seemed rather degrading.

But is she right? Who should we allow to help us? Do they need to be women? Why do they need to have been born a woman? Because they still have residue man germs? Because they still want to monopolize every conversation, (you know, like men do :P )? I'm sure Ms. Nixon has herself been the victim of sexual harassment (perhaps in this very column!) Why is she so threatening?

I can understand reasons for excluding men from direct intervention with rape victims in some cases. But even then, shouldn't we be free to choose who we want to help us? Are men really just there to pick up chicks, or take over the organization, or to feel heroic? I'd like to think not...


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LilBlueSmurf
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Oh dear ... this is a toughy

I think that article is extremely one sided, and i thought good media was objective media? So much for that idea ...

In my opinion, Ms. Nixon should be allowed to volunteer her time there, b/c now she is legally a woman. If growing up as a woman is a pre req., then so be it, there's nothing anyone can do to change it.

The fact that they tried to pay her off just blows my mind ... I'm glad she didn't take it. She has a right to do whatever she wants w/ her time, and if that's helping people who need her, all the power to her!! I wish there were more people out there like Ms Nixon ...

However, I do feel that the people going into Rape Relief that will have her as a councellor should know that she really used to be a "he". Then they can decide if they want her help or not ... It should always be up to the victim to decide who it is they turn to for help. If they have a problem talking to her, then they can talk to someone else ... it's their choice

~ Smurfy


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Beppie
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Firstly, that article works on the assumption that the only rape victims are female, and that the only rapists are males. My opinion is that anyone should be able to volunteer for the job, because it's something that should cater to all genders anyway.

Secondly, the article finished by skirting the issue completely, putting forward someone's views on whether or not sex change operations should take place. The woman involved decided she was a women before she had her penis removed, and whether or not she had it done is really her own buisness anyway.


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Dzuunmod
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I read the same article, too, and one thing people ought to keep in mind is that it appeared on the op-ed page of the newspaper. It isn't a news article, but a column, where opinions are generally allowed by the editors to be voiced.
That aside, I wonder when this woman (the author, Margaret Wente) is going to end her curious and prolonged attack on the transgendered (over the past year or so, she's written about 5 or 6 columns on transgendered folks).
There were two letters to the editor in this morning's paper, both negative toward the author. I'd have to side with them -- one woman points out that perhaps if this idea were taken to its logical next step, the rape crisis centre might want to start choosing what sorts of women are able to work there. Perhaps then, says this letter-writer, they might decide that women who look like men -- but have been women all their lives -- won't be able to work there, because they're just taking their clients "sensitivities" into account.

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'rin
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i think there's another issue in this article. i think she's using the rape crisis center happening as a springboard for attacking transexuals. if ms nixon has been living as a woman for 14 years, i think she's got any remaining manishness out of her system. i don't think she's a threat. if a transexual is a treat in a rape crisis center because he/she may hit on one of the women, then lesbians and bisexual women should also be excluded, and maybe gay men should be allowed. some people are born with chromosones that don't match their gender identities. some people are also born with indetermanite genetalia, more than 2 chromosomes, or chromosomes that don't match their genetalia. they're all people. if someone is legally recognised as a woman, she's a woman. this article isnt' about women's safe spaces, it's about societal fear of transexuals.

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"-and i hope i'm not shooting my mouth off...again...and i pray i'm not tempting the fates....."
-james, off millionaires


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Confused boy
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I realise that we can look at this objectively but we must look at it from the view of somebody who has suffered from rape. To say these people have suffered a traumatic event is an understatement. Im sure they would find it rather disconcerting to have as their counsellor Ms Nixon. It said in the article that she still looked like a man. This would be rather confusing and disconcerting when this counselling environment should feel as gentle as possible. I dont quite understand y Ms Nixon wants to help these people in this way so badly neway, she was offered places to help in other ways. Whether she is legally a woman or not is immaterial. Presumably this center believes its not good for their clients and they r proffesionals.
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KittenGoddess
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Well, to be honest with you, anyone who has worked with a crisis center of any type will be the first to tell you that there is generally a lack of qualified people willing to do the job for any length of time. I am a certified peer counselor for rape victims, and while rape is not a huge problem on our campus, there have been several times where those of us who voulnteer here have been asked to help out by various other women's centers within the city simply because there were just not enough trained and experienced volunteers to handle.

I think that she should be allowed to help there as a counselor if she chooses. There simply needs to be a policy where the rape victims are informed at the beginning of each session that if they are not comfortable with the voulnteer, they are completely welcome to request someone else. This is not a new idea, most of the clinics where I have helped have had a similar policy. I also agree with Beppie that this assumes that all victims are female and all rapists are male, and this is not always the case. Who any victim chooses to talk to is based on their own case. Also, it might be helpful to have a transgender person on staff because rape also happens to transgender individuals and sometimes they are more comfortable talking to someone who might understand their specific case and it's implications better.

~KittenGoddess

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"Intelligence is like underwear. We all should have it but we shouldn't show it off."
~James Dent

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart."
~Helen Keller


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Heather
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As a former rape victim, I can very confidently say there is only one sort of person whom I absolutely would not want tending to me after a rape: a rapist.

What someone does or doesn't have between their legs is really none of my business. It is how someone sexually idnetifies, and if they are a caring, compassionate person who has had the SAME rape crisis training of anyone else that matters.

Rape victims, while certainly fragile on some level, do not become idiots or start to make ludicrous sexual generalizations (i.e., "all people with penises can rape) because they have been assaulted. And as was mentioned here by another poster, rape vcitims come in all shapes sizes and identities, and do you know what?

So do rapists.

Keeping rape crisis centers staffed with caring, giving people is hard as hell. While I certainly think it's a great idea for any rape victim being treated to be able to suggest one worker or another not be with him or her because (for whatever reason) they make them uncomfortable, I also think it's important there are enough people staffing a cernter for a victim to get helped in the first place.

This article had a VERY clear bias and a very clear agenda and it has ZIPPO to do with rape victims.

And for all you know. Ms. Nixon may want to volunteer and help badly because she HAS been raped. It's so easy to make gender assumptions, but they're very rarely right.


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Heather
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You know, Kitten, I have to wonder if there is some weird phenonmenon here in which when two people post at the same time (and thus don't see the others posts) they seem to say the exact same thing.

This happens to Hanne and I all the time.

Cue the Twilight Zone there.

In any event, it may go without saying, but I agree with all you've said.

I also wanted to add to my previous post, that assuming female victims of male repists don't want to be around men (which really isn't the situation in this instance ANYWAY), is making a pretty poor assumption. It's a bit like assuming women always want female doctors, or female friends.

Truth be told, in a crisis, some women respond with a very mothering, cuddling, smothering way that makes me feel worse and incredibly uncomfortable, especially when it's very touchy-feely. I haven't experienced many men who do that. In the same vein, some men assume "victims" need rescuing, something which is VERY upsetting when you're just trying to heal and move on. Some women and some men do the opposite of those things.

So again, it's really about personality, not gender. In a crisis or trauma, I know I'd be happiest with whomever can respond best to what I -- as an individual -- need. And men, women or transgendered or intergendered people are all capable of either doing that, or of lacking the ability to do that.


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KittenGoddess
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Hehe, you're absolutely right Miz S...strange how those strange posting phenonmenon occur! I've noticed occasionally that you and Hanne's posts have exactly the same time listed, right down to the minute. Maybe when I grow up, I'll be smart enough to say exactly the same thing at exactly the same minute as you ladies too!

~KittenGoddess

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"Intelligence is like underwear. We all should have it but we shouldn't show it off."
~James Dent

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart."
~Helen Keller


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Confused boy
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Oh i might have posted a few things weirdly as i have been fidling about with the browser settings and i touched something that stopped it from updating web pages everytime i go to them
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Lin
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i watched an episode of The Practice whereby this psychiatrist wanted to sue the people who sacked him on the basis that he was cross-eyed. The management said he was sacked because people were not comfortable with his physical appearance even though he was an excellent psychiatrist. While I felt really bad for the guy, I have to agree I wouldn't be comfortable with my psychiatrist being cross-eyed. Dunno if you can see the relation between this and the topic but...

Where I come from, rape is a huge stigma and to get the girls or even worse, guys, to report the rapes is incredibly difficult much less going to a counsellor. The Chinese have a saying "Don't wash your dirty linen in public." And rape is seen as dirty linen, meant to be kept to yourself or within the family. COunsellors are people outside the family and it is considered an embarrassment to let an outsider in on something like rape. Sad but true.

Yes, the victm should choose who should help him or her and if he/she is uncomfortable with a transgendered person, he/she should ask for someone else. BUT, there is the chance that the victim, before even requesting for a change of counsellor flees. What if the victim woke up that day filled with just that little bit more courage and decided to make the step to contact a counsellor only to have to be put through the additional stress of having to draw attention to himself/herself and request for a new counsellor?

What I am saying might seem far fetched but it takes alot of courage I believe to make the step to seek help and sometimes if you don't get it right the first time, you never get a second chance.

I am not against transexuals but I am just adding another perspective. Maybe it is because I am brought up in a society which is not as accepting of transexuals and homosexuals or even sex, as the Western society. Well, just a thought.

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When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her.
It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed.

Mother Teresa


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Confused boy
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Thats a good point. The main objective of these counselling centers r to help rape victims. They should do this to the best of their ability. And while Miz Scarlet was a rape victim and was happy to talk to almost nebody, u cannot rely on that for everybody. Ive got to make it as easy as possible for rape victims to seek help.
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Heather
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quote:
Originally posted by Confused boy:
And while Miz Scarlet was a rape victim and was happy to talk to almost nebody, u cannot rely on that for everybody.

I don't believe I said I was happy to talk to almost anybody. I said gender was not a factor.

quote:
Ive got to make it as easy as possible for rape victims to seek help.

...and to do that, rape crisis centers need enough staff.


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Confused boy
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In the absence of an immediate answer to that last post, I feel I should admit that my last argument was thoroughly deconstructed. But I still point out that people running these clinics are professionals and they hopefully know what their doing when they get counsellors.
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Heather
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I thought about something else regarding this this morning.

I think it should be made clear that this copumnist was not saying it wasn't okay for a man to work a rape a crisis center, but that it was not okay for a transgendered person to do so.

In other words, I don't think she'd find it any more accpeptable for a pre-op FTM transsexual (who has biologically female equipment does) to work at a rape crisis center, either.

And that leads to some seriously important questions: for those of you who agree with her, does that mean that the qualification to work in a rape crisis center should be to simply have a vagina? Should there be panty checks at the door?

Or is it genetic -- given how few people really know what their chromosomal structure is (for all we know, all the "women" working there aren't XX), if volunteers need be female, are they going to do genetic tests to find out who really is?

Or, since a rape victim isn't going to be seeing anyones genitals or chromosomes, is it just about LOOKING female? If so, by that tack, Ms. Nixon could work there, but a very butch dyke could not.

Seem right to you?


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Lin
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If we all wanted to do the right thing, of course it would not make a difference who could volunteer at a rape crisis centre. Everyone knows what is correct or even politically correct.

Unfortunately, life is not black and white. To me, it is a big grey mesh.

I am not very sure how to put my point across without sounding horribly shallow.

Yes, it is about looking female. Or male. Sad as it is. That is what it is about. It doesn't matter how gentle, how capable, how wonderful Ms Nixon is. She does not fit in with what society deems 'normal'.

I hate that word as much as everybody else because I do not believe that there is such a thing as 'normal'. But, I am speaking from a very very general perspective. In fact, I am speaking from my local context. I am not sure how things work in America, Europe or Australia but what I am saying now is based on how I was brought up in SIngapore and how I think SIngaporeans will react.

Transgendered people or even butch dykes have a tough time in Singapore. People point and stare at them. They ARE considered abnormal. The logic here is "God gave you a penis, why do you want a vagina" and vice versa. You get the point.

I do not see transgendered people, butch dykes or effeminate men being well received as counsellors for rape victims in Singapore. Few people will accept it. BUT, if a transgendered person looks almost 100% female or male without revealing that she/he is a transgendered person, our society is perfectly willing to accept him/her as a counsellor, as a 'normal' human being.

So yes, it boils down to looks. For goodness sake, gay men are not even allowed to hold a forum in Singapore because it will "upset the majority of SIngaporeans". I cannot imagine a transgenderd person being a anything in Singapore.

Recently a local magazine had a 4 page story on transexuals. Guess what profession they are in? They are prostitutes. Gee. I'm sure we have transgendered managers, directors but what do they focus on? Transgendered men as prostitutes.

It is not right Miz S. Yes, it's not. But, we were all brought up differently and we have been conditioned by our surroundings. What's right to us is not right to others. Same as how I always like to think that the people in mental hospitals look at US and think WE are mad.

But until we are in a position to change these rules and ideas that we think are wrong, there is little we can do. We could petition, we could write in but the final say lies not with us. Of course, I do not believe that means we should give up and not bother at all. All I am saying is that man takes time to evolve. I believe at the end of the day, it all boils down to education. That is the only hope we have got.

Maybe in another 50 years, Singapore will open its mind. But then again, maybe it will not.

My brain is going fuzzy. My words do not make sense. Argh.


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Lin
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Okay. Need to vent.

I was reading The Straits Times today when I came across these quotes. I mentioned that 8 out of 10 SIngaporean teenagers do not condone homosexuality. Well, let's just see what they really have to say.

"Homosexuals are disgusting. How can people of the same sex date one another?"

"I don't blame them (homosexuals). Some have emotional problems." (22 yr old female executive)

On Premarital sex

"Pre marital sex is just not right. And in the end, it's the women who lose out."

These are the people who will be leading the country in the future, who will make important decisions concerning the nation. Geez, I can't wait to get out of here. With every passing minute, I feel more and more stifled.

Of course we are not all bad but some of these remarks are so extreme, it is incredible.

I feel like I am in the Stone Age.


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Confused boy
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Actually while those quotes show some very conservative views, it is not all that uncommon for teenagers to be very opposed to homo sexuality. I was untill I realised it was complete hypocracy and was this survey done secretively? Because nobody at my school would ever admit they didnt mind homosexuals in front of many peers. You would never get someone admitting he/she was homosexual there at all!
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Bobolink
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Well, the Toronto Star "Feminist" columnist decided to have a bash at transgendered people yesterday
http://www.thestar.com/cgi-bin/gx.cgi/AppLogic+FTContentServer?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/Render&inifile=futuretense.ini;futuretense_xcel.ini&c=Page&cid=970599109774&pubid=96816 3964505&ce=Columnist&colid=969907619751

Sorry for the long URL its the way they work it. The professional haters are having a field day with this issue.

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Sheelanagig
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As a person who works with a wide range of people on a wide range of sexuality issues, I can only say this:

1. As a community, transexual people, including F-to-M people such as Brandon Teena ("Boys Don't Cry"), suffer from extremely high rates of sexual assualt and abuse, whether in the form of rape, molestation or less physical levels of sexual harrassment/abuse.

2. There are very few support resources available for transexual people who have been sexually assualted and/or abused. This clinic could be doing itself and its community a gigantic favor by helping to fill that gap -- and what better way that to encourage and mentor transexual people who want to volunteer their time there?

I have a big personal problem with this "woman born woman" restriction, whether it applies to volunteer work at a rape-crisis center or admission to the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. But beyond my personal feelings on the subject, I fail to see how a rape-crisis center benefits from discriminating against volunteers, especially volunteers who bring with them a wealth of experience that other volunteers cannot provide.

I say invite her on board with flowers, and then go out and recruit even MORE tranny volunteers, including F-to-M people. I'm sure Brandon would have benefitted from such a policy, and I KNOW there are many who need and deserve such peer services.


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Rizzo
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Here's just a quick followup: http://www.hour.ca/columns/c_skid.asp

This week's column is about this topic, and I thought it made some good points. Too bad about Judy Rebick...
Last week's column is also about transexuals, just for interest.


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Bobolink
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Anyone who has followed Judy Rebick's politics should not be surprised. Radical feminism in Canada is the politics of exclusion.

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"A free society is a place where it's safe to be unpopular."

- Adlai Stevenson


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