Earlier this week Stacey Rambold was sentenced to 30 days for the rape of a 14 year old girl who ultimately committed suicide. Rambold already had a sweetheart deal where he had avoided a felony rape conviction by entering into a sex-offender treatment program but after having unsupervised visits with minors and a sexual relationship with a woman he was kicked out of the program.
Stacey Rambold is not a success story but District Judge G. Todd Baugh in Montana defends the 30 day sentence (prosecutors recommended 10 years) by stating, “Obviously, a 14-year-old can’t consent. I think that people have in mind that this was some violent, forcible, horrible rape. It was horrible enough as it is just given her age, but it wasn’t this forcible beat-up rape.”
The victim’s mother issued a written statement: “As I looked on in disbelief, Judge Baugh stated that our teenage daughter was as much in control of the situation as her teacher was,” she wrote. “She wasn’t even old enough to get a driver’s license. But Judge Baugh, who never met our daughter, justified the paltry sentence saying she was older than her chronological age.”
I’m not a lawyer but I play one at the dinner table so let’s talk about what rape is. I think given that women like Whoopi Goldberg (and everyone who doesn’t spit in Roman Polanski’s eye) think some rape is not real rape and that some people have less value than others. Candy Crowley and Poppy Harlow were sad when rapists got caught… it interfered with their potential. It would seem that Judge Baugh demonstrated his belief that troubled teens are due less protection than “untroubled teens”.
I’m going to ask you to do something that you might find repulsive and I promise you that if you do this you will share my outrage and hopefully you will be compelled to take action, to talk about consent with your sons and with your daughters. You will hopefully talk to your children in candid and uncomfortable ways so that they feel empowered to talk back to adults in power, to not be alone with them and to know clearly and unequivocally what the boundaries are.
I want you to go look at a 14 year old child. Boy or girl it doesn’t matter. Now I want you to look at this man.
Does he have to punch her, tie her up or kidnap her? Is it enough to psychologically beat someone? We’re not talking about a 19 year old and a 17 year old, we’re talking about a middle aged man, a teacher, someone with a great deal of authority raping a 14 year old child.
Let’s talk about some of the things that children cannot do:
- Children cannot sign legally binding contracts
- Children cannot vote
- Children cannot consent to sex with adults
- Even if you’re their teacher
- Even if you’re their coach
- Even if you’re their priest
Let’s talk about what rape is and let’s make it specific to Montana from the state’s website here is the definition of “without consent.
45-5-501. Definitions. (1) (a) As used in 45-5-503, the term “without consent” means:
(i) the victim is compelled to submit by force against the victim or another; or
(ii) subject to subsections (1)(b) and (1)(c), the victim is incapable of consent because the victim is:
(A) mentally defective or incapacitated;
(B) physically helpless;
(C) overcome by deception, coercion, or surprise;
(D) less than 16 years old;
(E) incarcerated in an adult or juvenile correctional, detention, or treatment facility or is on probation or parole and the perpetrator is an employee, contractor, or volunteer of the supervising authority and has supervisory or disciplinary authority over the victim, unless the act is part of a lawful search;
(F) receiving services from a youth care facility, as defined in 52-2-602, and the perpetrator:
(I) has supervisory or disciplinary authority over the victim or is providing treatment to the victim; and
(II) is an employee, contractor, or volunteer of the youth care facility; or
(G) admitted to a mental health facility, as defined in 53-21-102, is admitted to a community-based facility or a residential facility, as those terms are defined in 53-20-102, or is receiving community-based services, as defined in 53-20-102, and the perpetrator:
(I) has supervisory or disciplinary authority over the victim or is providing treatment to the victim; and
(II) is an employee, contractor, or volunteer of the facility or community-based service.
(b) Subsection (1)(a)(ii)(E) does not apply if the individuals are married to each other and one of the individuals involved is on probation or parole and the other individual is a probation or parole officer of a supervising authority.
(c) Subsections (1)(a)(ii)(F) and (1)(a)(ii)(G) do not apply if the individuals are married to each other and one of the individuals involved is a patient in or resident of a facility, is a recipient of community-based services, or is receiving services from a youth care facility and the other individual is an employee, contractor, or volunteer of the facility or community-based service.
(2) As used in subsection (1), the term “force” means:
(a) the infliction, attempted infliction, or threatened infliction of bodily injury or the commission of a forcible felony by the offender; or
(b) the threat of substantial retaliatory action that causes the victim to reasonably believe that the offender has the ability to execute the threat.
(3) As used in 45-5-502 and this section, the following definitions apply:
(i) in the case of an adult offender, has the meaning provided in 46-1-202; and
(ii) in the case of a juvenile offender, means supervision of a youth released from a state youth correctional facility, as defined in 41-5-103, to the supervision of the department of corrections.
(b) “Probation” means:
(i) in the case of an adult offender, release without imprisonment of a defendant found guilty of a crime and subject to the supervision of a supervising authority; and
(ii) in the case of a juvenile offender, supervision of the juvenile by a youth court pursuant to Title 41, chapter 5.
(c) “Supervising authority” includes a court, including a youth court, a county, or the department of corrections.
I want to note that in addition to children under 16 you also can’t make prisoners have sex with you. That’s also rape, it’s the rape that people are going to wish on Stacey Rambold. Don’t be the person that wishes it upon another.
I am begging everyone to talk about this in your homes. Kids are off to college and the statistics around sexual assault on campuses are grim. Use this as a teachable moment for your sons and for your daughters. Let’s skip the term slutty and just acknowledge that some people want to be very sexy. Let’s tell our sons that the only way they should ever have sex is when everyone consents. Let’s remind them that to consent you need to be an adult or of similar age, that you need to be sober and that no one can be indebted to the other.
Let’s tell our daughters that if they succumb to an older man (a teacher, a coach, a neighbor, a boss) that we won’t judge them. That we won’t think they’re sluts, we won’t look at them differently. Let’s change the conversation and when our kids talk about the kids who are promiscuous we don’t give a side eye or pass judgement. We keep the conversation open so that the Stacey Rambolds of the world have less opportunity.
Let’s note that the Megans Law site in Montana does not have Rambold listed as a sex offender as of today, possibly because he’s serving his brief sentence.
If you are outraged, and I don’t know how you could not be, please sign this petition. Judge Baugh could have chosen something between 30 days and 10 years. A 30 day sentence makes it unsafe to be a woman in Montana.
Miley Cyrus gave quite a performance at the VMAs last night. In case you’re unaware (Mom, this is for you), Miley Cyrus has a famous father who has managed her career which began sometime around age 11. She is 20 and her resume is longer than most adults in the neighborhood.
Last night’s performance featured a lot of tongue, dancing that once upon a time was reserved for strip clubs and flirtation with both genders. Much like Emily Ratajkowski (age 22) Miley appeared to be next to naked. The question I have for us all is why do we see Emily Ratajkowski as a sexy lady who stars in a video but look at Cyrus as a child who is melting down in public?
Celebrity is a strange thing and the only thing we like to do more than create a celebrity is to tear one down. Child stars are a whole new animal. With the advent of Nickelodeon and Disney came the ability to create characters, market and distribute them all through one giant funnel. There’s a massive machine behind Hannah Montana that makes Judy Garland and Shirley Temple’s days in the limelight look like 2nd grade class plays.
There is nothing odd or unusual about a sexy 20 year old. There’s nothing bad about near nudity at 20, in fact I’d heartily encourage it. There’s nothing about your body that’s likely to get better at 30. A brain yes, a body no.
I’m not the target audience for MTV so I’m sure they won’t care a bit when I tell you that I don’t think Cyrus’ performance was particularly good. The tongue and the crotch grabbing were decidedly unsexy and some say lewd but we embraced it when Gene Simmons and Michael Jackson did both of those things. Is Miley Cyrus going to make us evaluate what is ladylike and what skanky girls do? Why are boys just being boys and why is Miley being bad?
Miley Cyrus was wearing her shirt and performing live to an audience of millions. She was singing and dancing and interacting with both people and cameras. If you didn’t like the performance that’s fair but picking on her body? Unfair.
There’s the obvious explanation here that she’s busy being athletic while wearing something that appears to be like vinyl and of course there will be movement. There’s the fact that most of the free world wouldn’t look as good as Cyrus before dancing. There’s something bigger happening here and if we’re talking about the “imperfection” of a very perfect ass we’re having the wrong discussion. Everyone loves to talk about how we’re not supposed to care about how people look, it’s supposed to be what’s inside that matters. We’re supposed to be all about fat acceptance (for the record I am not) and enough with the slut shaming.
Can we just talk about the fact that a 20 year old has grown up in front of us and we are all extremely uncomfortable with seeing a child mature into a woman. We hate that our Disney kid is a young woman and that not every moment of her life will be lady-like. We hate that she’s a sexual being and lose our minds that an intensely misogynistic song that celebrates rape culture is turned on it’s ear with a performance that has a 20 year old girl taking charge of the 36 year old man who shares a stage with her.
This freaks us out and let’s not pretend like it’s about her.
The women of the video are sexy because we didn’t know them as kids. Maybe we are Miley’s problem.
Alexander doesn’t know what he wants to do for a living. Give him a break, he’s only 12. He’s a pragmatic 12 year old who recognizes that he would only change his mind a million times so he’ll just make a decision later on and skip the whole mind changing part of things.
Here are the things he absolutely does not want to do for a living:
- Be a doctor. Blood is just not interesting to him.
- Sit at a desk and look at papers
- Be an accountant
- Work in agriculture. Since the only ag workers we’ve ever seen are busy picking strawberries he’s pretty sure that you make about $3 a day in agriculture
- Train dogs, cats, bears or other animals
- Practice law
- Own a retail store
- Work with his father. He’s convinced that by the time he’s ready for a job television will cease to exist
Here are some jobs he might entertain when he’s older:
- Work in advertising, but not TV because it probably won’t exist when he’s ready for a job. Whatever it is that replaces the internet is where he’d like to work
- Writing, but he’s not sure what he’d write
- Sportscasting (does that even require an explanation?)
- He’d like to own a chain of stores or restaurants but not just one. We then discussed the need for an MBA (I like this career path… my old age home will be fancy)
- He’d work at a car company in some capacity but not Ferrari, someplace that sells real cars for real people
- Engineering or energy (none of us know enough about that to guide him at all)
At a recent women’s blogging conference one of the sponsor booths had a giant wheel that you’d spin to win a gift card. Well, sort of.
You see you’d spin the wheel and it would say something like $25 or $100 and then you’d get a bit of paper with a note about follow up to claim your gift card.
This morning many bloggers got the following email:
It was great to get the chance to chat with you at BlogHer13 about [redacted]! I’m writing because you were one of the lucky people to spin our wheel and win a $100 [redacted] Gift Card.
All you have to do is post about a [redacted] experience and email me a link to your blog post. We’d love to see your stories – whether you are an existing customers or looking to give us a try.
The prize is limited to the first 25 people who email me the link. There is still time to enter – the program ends on 8/31/2013.
Let me know if you have any questions.
Once again I find myself imagining the group that came up with this plan. At first I was imagining a room full of 23 year old publicists in fake Louboutins with blonde extensions. After much hair twirling they’d be all, “Mommy bloggers love contests and games so we could be like the Candy Crush of BlogHer!”
Or maybe it’s a group of middle aged guys in off the rack suits somewhere in the middle of country. With one hand on their balding heads and another on their paunches they try to imagine what the hell their wives do at a place with unicorn cakes and lots of wine. Since they’re past the days of fantasizing about their wives hot oil wrestling they think maybe it would be fun to have them compete against one another for half a grocery shopping.
At least one blogger reportedly has asked the brand to just supply the money she’d won. She made it clear that she doesn’t expect to have to work for what she’s already been promised. Let’s see how that one works out.
In each meeting someone is forward thinking and says, “Do you think anyone will be bugged that we tricked them into thinking that they won?” And there’s a chorus of No’s while the hair twirling, head patting and belly rubbing continues.
I’m sure that’s exactly how it was planned.
EDIT: It has been suggested that this may actually be an illegal contest.
ME: It’s time for you to drive. This is bullshit.
JANE: [grinning] What kind of car are you going to buy me?
ME: I’m sorry for cussing
ME & JANE [in chorus]: Cussing doesn’t count in bad traffic.
ME: I don’t know. We want you in something safe.
JANE: Jerry said he’s never cut a dead body out of a BMW or a Mercedes. [Jerry is our firefighter neighbor]
ME: That’s a very real possibility but it won’t be anywhere near new.
JANE: [smiling and nodding] I know
And then we see two guys pushing their dead car down the street.
JANE: What about a Hyundai, Kia or a Ford? That could be new, right?
ME: Yeah, that’s what I was thinking too. Maybe something that no one else has driven.
Of course at dinner I bitch and moan about the amount of driving I’ve done this week. You see Jane has volleyball tryouts all week long and there’s no bus service until school starts. The school she’s attending is a 25 minute drive from here and I am not at all interested in being her chauffeur. I mean I am for 5 minutes, it’s the 20 after that which does me in. I’m thinking of a fake ID and maybe a car…
So after I’ve had the Mercedes/Ford/Hyundai/Kia conversation with her we sit at dinner and talk about what’s on tap for Friday. There’s some back to school shopping as she needs a dark suit for assembly days (every Thursday) and then a massage. The massage is for aching muscles and hyperextending joints. She’s played 2-3 hours of volleyball a day plus weight room training all week. If ever a kid earned a massage this is the week for it.
As we’re discussing the day Mr. G says, “A massage? Aren’t you spoiling her?”
And I was about to say, “Yes, I am.” I was going to give him the lecture I give myself about how he and I both make more money when we perform better at work and her currency comes in the form of things like massages and manicures and when she performs well she gets more perks but then Jane beat me to the punch.
“Yes Daddy, I’m a little spoiled but insurance covers it so it’s okay.”
So tomorrow’s a massage day. We’ll have to negotiate the car another time.