Woman Dies Due To Injuries Sustained During Rape

Woman Dies Due To Injuries Sustained During Rape

On 14th September 2020, an adolescent woman was brutally raped by multiple men in India. This article examines the gender- and caste-based hierarchies at play in this region, and how it has affected the case.

Woman Dies Due To Injuries Sustained During Rape

Yet another victim of gang rape has died to injuries inflicted upon her during rape in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India. The woman, who was nineteen years old, died after battling with her injuries for fourteen days.

The infamous 2012 Nirbhaya case set precedent for allowing capital punishment specifically in cases of brutal rapes. While the victim’s family welcomed this punishment, many have raised concern on this. A fear of capital punishment, rather than deterring future rapes, will encourage the perpetrators to kill their victims after the rape. Unfortunately, this fear has also rung true at least to some extent.

Since the infamous Nirbhaya gang rape, instances of rape have become more visible in India. Every year, the number of reported rapes have increased. It is estimated that every 20 minutes, a man rapes a woman in India. Many predict that thousands of rapes go unreported each year due to the stigma attached to women being hurt in this way.

Caste-based impunity

Adding to this is the dimension of the traditional caste-based hierarchy of India. The woman who died late last month belonged to the Dalit caste: previously called the untouchables. Her perpetrators, on the other hand, were all from the upper-caste. This spells a recipe for impunity. Police have previously been accused of negligence and downright covering up of information in order to protect the perpetrators. The police’s actions in this case suggest a similar cover-up.

Local journalists report that the police tried to force the woman’s family to cremate her immediately. When her family did not oblige, the local police forcefully cremated her body in the middle of the night. They formed a human chain to ward off community and family members. In addition to insensitivity to the victim’s family, the immediate cremation was clearly a coverup for any possible information.

On top of that, despite the dying victims rape allegations, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) of the state, Prashant Kumar, made the following statement

“The forensic science laboratory report clearly says that sperm was not found in the samples collected from the woman… The report has made it clear that the woman was not raped,”

Medically, rape is evidenced by the signs of struggle and physical abuse on and in a woman’s body. Semen, on the other hand, is used to identify the perpetrator(s). It is not a determinant of whether a rape occurred or not. The ignorant statement from a senior officer of an investigating body clearly points to a foul play on an institutional level.

Individual or systemic violence?

An ex-supreme court judge made the following statement in response to the case:

”Sex is a natural urge in men. It is sometimes said that after food, the next requirement is sex. In a conservative society like India, one can ordinarily have sex only through marriage. But when there is massive and rising unemployment, a large number of young men remain deprived of sex, even though they have reached an age when it is a normal requirement. I once again make it clear that I am not justifying rapes, rather I condemn it. But considering the situation prevailing in the country, they are bound to increase. So if we really want to end or reduce rapes we have to create a social and system in India in which there is no or little unemployment.”

The statement has been criticized in social media for faulty logic, and for trying to shift the blame from the individual to systemic forces. The statement is problematic for many reasons. It places almost no responsibility on the perpetrator for his actions. Rather the rapist’s actions are justified through unfulfilled sexual urges. Most importantly, it completely misses out the major systemic forces behind the increasing rapes: patriarchy.

It is patriarchy that creates the entitlement to women and their bodies that men demand. It is patriarchy that deters women from reporting sexual abuses in fear of stigma. It is patriarchy that allows men to threaten women with physical harm for reporting. It is patriarchy that blames the woman for getting raped, while the man is excused for “acting on his sexual urges.” It is patriarchy that allows men the confidence and support so they continue to get away with crimes such as these.

The above statement also ignores the caste-based oppression that has allowed members of the higher caste to commit such acts against members of the oppressed groups. The caste-based oppression also gets the law enforcing agencies to align with the oppressor, instead of the oppressed.

The case is not an anomaly.

There have been numerous cases where police refuse to file an official report against any perpetrators but certainly perpetrators of higher castes. There are also many instances when women’s allegations of rapes have been questioned despite clear evidence on and in their bodies. Rapes where law enforcing agencies destroy the evidences are also not rare.

The resulting impunity men recieve in the sytem of patriarchy is evidenced by the systems of oppression: gender-based, caste-based and class-based. Dismantling these systems of oppression is imperative to ensure justice to victims.

Featured image: Protest in 2012 against Nirbhaya gang rape case via Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0.

Epstein: The Eroticization of Domination and Women’s Fight for Freedom

Epstein: The Eroticization of Domination and Women’s Fight for Freedom

Jocelyn Crawley reflects on the objectification, domination and abuse of women and girls. She highlights the importance of feminist theory and the right for women and girls to live free from abuse and dominance. 

Epstein: The Eroticization of Domination and Women’s Fight for Freedom

By Jocelyn Crawley

Recently, a close friend of mine and I became deeply engaged in a dynamic dialogue regarding the persistence and pervasiveness of the contemporary regime which perpetuates systems of hierarchy and hegemony: white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. During the discourse, she encouraged me to watch the documentary on Jeffrey Epstein and his role in sustaining a sex trafficking regime. After viewing the 60 Minutes documentary “Exposing Jeffrey Epstein’s International Sex Trafficking Ring,” I found that my mind was drawn to analyzing his nefarious, necrotic activity through the lens of an important feminist theory: the eroticization of domination.

Those who are unfamiliar with Jeffrey Epstein should know that he paid underage girls hundreds of dollars to provide him massages and proceeded to sexually abuse them. The abuse transpired in many places, including homes in New York, Florida, and Palm Beach. As a hedge fund manager, Epstein’s wealthy status, associations, and access to shrewd legal representatives enabled him to allude severe sentencing for his activities. For example, in a 2008 non-prosecution agreement, Epstein was able to plead guilty to charges in Florida for the solicitation of prostitution involving a minor. The ‘victims’ in question were children who had been sexually exploited for profit.  With the 2008 non-prosecution agreement, Epstein served a mere 13 months through a work-release program. When he was later met with more severe charges, he killed himself.

Feminist Analysis.

As many radical feminists have argued in analyzing how the patriarchy structures ‘relationships’ between men and women, the system of relations is predicated on the eroticization of domination. Although defined diversely, the eroticization of domination essentially references the process through which the patriarchy structures the system of sexual relations between men and women. In essence men expressing their sexuality by controlling and subordinating women. Within this system, women (generally speaking) come to naturalize and accept dominance as an integral, inalienable, and inevitable component of sexuality. For this reason, normative conceptions of female sexuality incorporate the idea of one being violated, humiliated, or repeatedly having all types of psychic and physical boundaries broken.

In her article Eroticized Dominance-Emotional Grooming, Predatory Behaviors As Cultural Norms?, Athena Staik notes six key components of sexual relations marked by eroticized dominance that  are particularly pertinent to the forms of patriarchy actualized by Jeffrey Epstein. The first is the idea that the main pleasure the perpetrator acquires results from causing emotional pain to the other. This process involves tricking or manipulating the victim for one’s own gratification. In viewing the documentary, I noted that Epstein was able to make his sex trafficking ring functional by informing young women that he would pay them to provide him with massage services. Once in his home, he had them provide him with massages but then proceeded to sexually abuse them.

This type of manipulative, deceptive behavior reflects not only the principles of domination, but also the process of male objectification of women.

Within this schema, women are no longer viewed as thinking, emotive beings who bring their own thoughts and preferences to human interactions. Rather, they are reduced to entities whose thoughts, feelings, and volition can be ignored for the purpose of satisfying the male fantasy. In short, Epstein’s praxis of deceit to lure women into his home for the purpose of sexually abusing them works to create a system of relations between men and women in which the latter lack sexual agency and authority. Additionally, the system of relations ensures that sexual activity between men and women is not predicated on empathy and mutuality but rather the former ruling the latter. This system of domination diminishes the likelihood of equality between the sexes and continually recreates a world in which female objectification is presented as a normative, natural way for women to exist.

The second element of eroticized dominance that Athena Staik references in her article pertains to an individual being viewed as “a weak or defective object without feelings, thoughts, opinions, etc.” This principle is prevalent in many of the actions and attitudes of Jeffrey Epstein. I was particularly drawn to two examples of it. The first was the fact that Epstein’s master bedroom contained prosthetic breasts.  . In addition to doing harm to real female bodies through his trafficking ring, Epstein reworked the material reality of a woman’s physical form to become something that he could toy with, without having to with the real female human who possessed the breasts.

In my conceptualization of Epstein’s activity, he has observed and isolated a component of women’s bodies in a fetishistic manner that precludes him from having to deal with women as whole humans.

Women who have breasts yet are not just this one body part. In Epstein’s world, women repeatedly become their body parts; he was fine with removing them from the realm of material reality. He recreates them as prosthetic toys so he could handle without a living, thinking entity being part of the sexual process.  According to Staik, eroticized dominance creates a system in which “sex is a weapon for personal gain to prove superiority via dominance (versus a key aspect of emotional intimacy in a couple relationship).” As I analyze Epstein’s appropriation of prosthetic breasts, I concluded that he  actualized this principle of superiority through dominance by creating the prototypical system of relations in which men are subjects and women are objects.

Within this schema, Epstein can use his perverse imagination to invent and control how he relates to femaleness. In his mind, femaleness or womanhood involved not only sexually abusing real women but reducing them to non-thinking body parts which he could control. This component of the eroticization of domination is distinct from the objectification referenced in the previous paragraph because, in this component of the schema, objectification is no longer just objectification but rather the foundation or building block upon which domination is established.

In Epstein’s toxic mimicry of humane sexuality, superiority was actualized through his ability to dominate the other.

He perpetuated the system by reducing real female bodies into synthetic objects which could not protest or resist his advances. Those who are familiar with the diversity of Epstein’s sexual depravity may be aware that when his home was raided, authorities found child pornography and a stash of lewd photos stored away in a freestanding safe. These realities are also representations of both 1. objectification and 2. objectification as the springboard through which domination is attained. I think it also goes without saying that Epstein’s selection of victims as young as 12 years old is an example of the eroticization of domination insomuch as these individuals lack the emotional maturity, intellectual development, and physical power necessary to interact with him as sexual equals.

Reflecting on Epstein’s depravity and dehumanization of women, I found myself ruminating on the importance of presenting ourselves with alternatives to the modality of domination. Considering systems of relations that include parity, mutuality, and empathy. One thought that gained traction in my mind while pondering alternative modalities was the fact that people typically present two suggestions as solutions for domination: practicing love or cultivating individual and institutional freedoms.

Love and the fight for freedom.

Love is defined as an intense feeling of deep affection for another. It is an ethical, sustainable way to interact with others. However, prototypical schemas of love do not necessarily facilitate liberation from domination, or freedom. Rather, love embeds one in a system of relations with another individual who is viewed as an equal (or as having innate value and thus commanding respect) rather than freeing one from the dictatorial, oppressive grip of a malevolent individual or institution through which the subject has been reduced to an object. Although defined diversely, freedom is typically construed as the ability to speak, think, and act without restraints or hindrances being imposed on one by another. I posit that freedom exists but, because collective consciousness has yet to demonstrate an intense love for freedom, systems of domination are able to persist.

I conclude that cultivating a love of freedom, which involves being intentionally and continually in allegiance with thought systems and resistance movements that relentlessly fight for liberation, is the modality through which the current regime of domination can and should be contended.

We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.

Jocelyn Crawley is a radical feminist who resides in Atlanta, Georgia. Her intense antagonism towards all forms of social injustice-including white supremacy-grows with each passing day. Her primary goal for 2020 is to connect with other radicals for the purpose of building community and organizing against oppression.
Featured image:
How Sexual Violence Is Normalized in the Courts

How Sexual Violence Is Normalized in the Courts

Male violence against women is one of the most serious problems in the world. The numbers are staggering. Every year in the US, more than 230,000 sexual assaults are committed. At least 1 out of 6 American women have suffered rape or attempted rape, and 1 out of 3 women worldwide.

Native American women are the most likely targets of sexual violence. 44% of sexual assaults and rapes target children under the age of 18. Almost 2/3 of all sexual assaults are perpetrated by a non-stranger. Sexual assault is one of the most under-reported crimes – 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to police. Only 3% of rapists ever spend a day in jail.

Resistance Radio with Wendy Murphy

In this podcast Derrick Jensen interviews Wendy Murphy, who talks about the level of sexual assault experienced by women and girls. She describes how, in our culture, language can be used passively and therefore lead to accepting sexual violence as the norm. Wendy states that how language is used connects with real world experiences and can be translated in the courts as unjust verdicts.

Changing the way we talk about sexual violence can change the way we feel and shift from passive to proactive in relation to harms towards women and girls. Wendy created a multi-disciplinary team – The Judicial Language review – which enabled the team to review decisions in courts and state whether language is appropriate. The project critically analyses discourse, providing alternate phrases and use of language to the courts. Wendy gives real life examples of  how language is used in the media and the courts to minimise (brush aside) the harms done towards children and strongly advocates a cultural shift, including the need to challenge passive use of language.

Wendy Murphy is the Director of the Women’s and Children’s Advocacy Project at New England Law | Boston, where she also teaches sexual violence law. In addition, she is an impact litigator, specializing in the constitutional and civil rights of abused women and children. Her twitter is @wmurphylaw. the website for the Judicial Language Project is http://student.nesl.edu/centers/clsr_jlp.cfm

Browse all of Derrick Jenson’s Resistance Radio interviews at https://deepgreenresistance.blogspot.com/p/derrick-jensen-resistance-radio-archives.html

Shahidah Janjua: The Green Flame Podcast

Shahidah Janjua: The Green Flame Podcast

On this episode of the Green Flame, we interviewed Shahidah Janjua about women, writing, activism and the creation of a Women’s Centre in Kerry. Shahidah read one of her soon-to-be-published poems.

This episode is also dedicated to the memory of our beloved sister.

We share this memorial she wrote on the passing of Andrea Dworkin, whom she mentions in the interview saying, “I love that woman.”

On Andrea’s Passing.

April 12, 2005 05:53 AM

“I am gutted. It is the end of an era; not of our resistance, but of an era. I am a Pakistani woman of 55, a mother, a grandmother. I read Letters from a War Zone when I was 36 and it did save my life, not in any cliched way, but really. Everything I have done, thought and understood since then has evolved from reading that book. It laid bare what I had known and experienced. I went on to read all Andrea’s books. I wrote to Andrea to tell her this. Even if my voice was one of thousands, I felt it was important for her to know what she had given me. She replied with great humility.

At first I loved and looked up to Andrea as a child does to its mother, always wanting clarity, the truth, and cherishing the guidance when it came in articles, speeches, interviews and books. I grew from there into an adult and an equal, because this is the power that the truth gave me. It demanded that I grow in stature in the world and stand shoulder to shoulder with brave women, by becoming a brave woman myself. No other words, no other actions in the world had allowed me the full possibility of seeing myself in this way; someone of great worth and endless potential. Always her gendered analysis was the key. The abiding question it left me with in any circumstance was “where are the women in this, and what is happening to them?”, the question that followed was “where am I in this, and what is happening to me?” Asking these questions requires brutal honesty, and no place for complicity. I have lost a friend and a sister, and the way that I can honour this very precious relationship is by carrying on the resistance to male supremacy and domination.”

On behalf of the Women of DGR:

We lost you Shahidah in March, and we are gutted. We mourn no longer having the opportunity to work shoulder to shoulder with you, dear sister. We cherish the many gifts of your life’s work. We dedicate our lives, as you once did, to being brave, to continuing that work, wherever we are, with whatever gifts we have to give. With all our love and respect Shahidah Janjua, Thank You.

Rest in Peace. Rest in Power.

Shahidah was a woman of strength, a feminist, writer and member of DGR.

Shahidah’s website: www.sjanjua.net

Latest poetry and shorts book: https://ift.tt/3cHSDXD

Previous memoir for her father: https://ift.tt/2S4EXy4

Kerry Women’s Resource Centre: https://ift.tt/3ePfHWf

Radical Dreamwork

Radical Dreamwork

By Rebecca Wildbear

Cottonwood trees shaded the little river, while the rising sun brightened the blue sky and lit up the expansive slopes of the Sonoran Desert, dotted with prickly pear, saguaro, and cholla cactuses. I was in Aravaipa Canyon, a gorge in the Pinal Mountains of Southern Arizona, where I would prepare thirteen people to be in ceremonial conversation with the land for three days and nights. Aravaipa is an Apache name which means “laughing waters,” and the name fits. The river was brisk and clear as it churned its way around boulders and rippled over gravel bars in a playful, bubbling chorus.

On that first morning in the desert, I’d awakened with a dream.

I see a woman about to be raped. She’s yanked out of the driver’s seat of her car by a man who holds her captive while undoing his pants. A male friend turns to me and asks if he should try to stop it.

“Yes, absolutely!” I respond in haste.

            My friend picks up a club that resembles a baseball bat and moves toward the rapist. My stomach knots; what if I’ve just sent my friend into a dangerous situation and he gets killed or hurt? I decide to join him and approach the rapist from behind, while my friend approaches him from the side. As we get closer, the rapist stops, and I feel surprised when he turns around with his hands held up in surrender.

Although our dominant culture marginalizes dreams, we must learn to pay attention to the wisdom and direction they offer. The Tz’utujil Mayan culture elected officials based on the number of villagers who dreamed of that person occupying the position.[1] The dreamwork of the Iroquois preceded the dreamwork of Freud and Jung. The Iroquois knew dreams were sacred and that to ignore them was to invite disaster;[2] they understood that the human soul makes its desires known through dreams.[3] Founder of Dream Tending, Stephen Aizenstat says dreams arise from the “World Dream;” they offer us a glimpse of the desires of the world so we may “act in the world, on behalf of the world…in Archetypal Activism.”[4] When the wisdom of our dreams guides our direct action, we’re able to bring together our visionary and revolutionary natures in a radical dreamwork. With the earth dreaming through us, we’re guided to take the actions that matter most.

Dreams hold a multiplicity of meaning and, like trees, rivers, and birds, each dream element has intelligence; it usually understands more than our waking ego. I guide others to recount their dreams in present tense, inviting them to be in the dream so its visceral impact has an opportunity to arise or burst forth.

On that morning in Aravaipa Canyon, I closed my eyes, returning to the dream about the rape. What was it asking me to experience and how could I steep myself in its mystery? The edgiest part of my dream was asking my friend to risk his life. I felt afraid that he could get hurt or die. I feel similarly when I send questers on a 3-day solo fast. Although I’ve taught them ways to be safe in the backcountry, anything could happen.

On a vision quest, each quester is invited to let go of their identity and listen for a deeper call—in this way, we discover who we really are and how we may serve the world. Questers are invited to undertake a psycho-spiritual death, an initiatory dismemberment, which can lead to a mature adulthood. Such a journey is inherently risky, even beyond the solo days.

Founder of Animas Valley Institute, Bill Plotkin writes that the great crises of our time stem from breakdowns in natural human development. He says that healthy, mature cultures have always emerged from nature: “from the depths of our individual and collective psyches, from the Earth’s imagination acting through us, from the mythic realm of dreams or the Dreamtime, from Soul, from the Soul of the world, from Mystery.” We can’t think our way into maturity; we cultivate our wholeness through allowing the natural world and our dreams to guide us.[5] Yet we can only become whole within a healthy Earth community. So what about the clear-cut forests, drained wetlands, and plowed prairies?

As mountains are mined, rivers are dammed and poisoned, and hundreds more species become extinct each day, my heart breaks at our human failure to protect our nonhuman relatives on whom we depend; they’re dying because they depend on us too. As the oceans fill with plastic, the ice melts, and greenhouse gas emissions grow higher each year, I feel the rape of the Earth alive in my body and psyche. Perhaps this dream invites me beyond myself. What if this dream is asking me to seek assistance in stopping the rape of Earth?

Rape is Acceptable

I had a lot of dreams about rape in my early thirties; it felt unstoppable. How surprising that this dream ends with my friend and I stopping the rape.

I remember guiding women survivors of violence on Women of Courage Outward Bound courses in my twenties. We’d listen to the women’s stories, the other two female guides and I, and then one night, to our surprise, we shared our stories in hushed voices, confessing that we too were survivors. The line between heroine and victim, wilderness guide and survivor, blurred.

It’s hard to perceive rape when you’re raised in a culture where rape is acceptable. As the most under-reported crime, rape[6] is notoriously under-investigated, largely unpunished, and rarely spoken about; less than one percent of rapes end in a felony conviction. Even then, a perpetrator does not often receive jail time, especially if they knew their victim; this sends a message that it’s acceptable to rape someone you know.[7] In eight out of ten cases of rape, the victim knew the person who sexually assaulted them,[8] and ninety-three percent of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are known to the victim.[9] Our culture barely acknowledges rape happens and nearly condones it. The rape of women, the abuse of children, and the destruction of land is our norm.[10]

Sister Carl, my junior high school teacher, repeated daily: “Silence gives consent, girls.” Perhaps she was trying to help us avoid some trauma she’d suffered. But what did the boys in the room hear? What if there wasn’t an opportunity to speak, or we were too young to understand? And what of the Earth? If we are deaf and dumb to her language, does our lack of hearing exempt us from the harm we cause? Perhaps the memory of Sister Carl’s words is echoed in the message of this dream: speak, act, stop the rape.

Rape is Legal

American law is orchestrated to protect abusers,[11] and it legalizes the right to exploit land and water, while simultaneously making it illegal to protect them. “Sustainability itself has been rendered illegal under our system of law,” said Thomas Linzey, Executive Director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.[12] Our dominant culture, global industrial empire, does not acknowledge the rape of the Earth. Instead, it talks about acquiring resources and the right to exploit. While the Earth suffers massive environmental devastation, many call it climate change and focus on human survival, but dealing with climate change within the values of our dominant culture will only allow the rape to continue.[13]

Our ecological crisis is sourced in a “collective perceptual disorder,”[14] a “collective myopia”[15] that misses our innate connection to Earth. Our culture is founded on the misperception that nonhumans aren’t alive and have no feelings or consciousness; this allows us to perpetuate the lie that no rape is happening at all. To stop a rape, we have to perceive that one is happening, and to do that, we must recognize that we live embedded in relationship with all of life on the planet.

How will I ask people to help me stop the rape if they don’t see it? Dissociation, denial, and silencing perpetuate trauma; to heal, the truth must be told. Although the “ordinary response to atrocities is to banish them from consciousness,” remembering terrible events is part of restoring justice.[16]

How would you respond if someone you love was threatened? When we see our earthly relatives being harmed, aren’t we equally responsible to act fiercely and lovingly to protect them, like a mother grizzly looking out for her cubs? Fighting back isn’t wrong; it’s relative to the situation in which we find ourselves. It is just as wrong and harmful “to not fight back when one should as it is to fight when one should not.”[17]

The Love of Trees

I know how it feels when others don’t see the rape. My neighbor friend and I were four years old when we had our first sleepover. When I returned the next day, sick with a fever of 103, no one guessed that my neighbor’s father, Jack, might have hurt me, even though his wife sometimes came over to our home when he was drunk to avoid being hit. No one found it odd when I said my vagina hurt and suddenly refused to attend nursery school. I screamed and cried until I was allowed to stay home. No one wondered why my friend, Jack’s daughter, was so troubled. I still remember when she stabbed me in the belly button with a needle. After playing with her, I often returned home with bite marks and bruises up and down my arms.

When I kept insisting that my vagina hurt, my mom took me to the doctor. She stayed in the room while the white-haired man examined me. I asked her later what he had said, and she told me that he said I needed to use less soap.

Being told everything was fine was confusing when my body knew a different truth—one that my mind didn’t know how to hold, let alone put into words. Although in the dream my friend could see the rape, no one saw it when I was four.

But I wasn’t alone; I lived in trees. The thick, ancient trunk of a giant ash tree that rose well over 100 feet in my backyard was the center of my world. Down the hill in a grove of pines, I played in needles, sometimes climbing to the tippy top, arms and body wrapped around the thin tip, the weight of my body gently swaying from side to side. In summer, I crawled to the far reaches of the cherry tree’s branches, eating more berries than made it into my basket for mom’s cherry pie. The maple tree grew in the front yard; I went there to hide, high behind walls of green leaves, where I could see all and no one could find me.

I sensed the trees had feelings, lives; they were living beings with whom to be in relationship. Did the trees know my secret? Is that, in part, why it felt like they looked after me? All trees know rape; ninety-seven percent of North America’s native forests have been cut down.[18] I didn’t know why my young body returned again and again to be held in the branches of these elders who surrounded my suburban home. Or why I turned to the smell of pine and bark instead of human skin or voice when I hurt. Now, I imagine that something in my cells trusted their love and wisdom; they nurtured me.

The Rape of Earth

The Apache who named Aravaipa Canyon no longer live here. Sitting at the edge of the river, I marvel at the joyful laughter of its flowing waters. During the 19th century, the Aravaipa band of Apaches living here fought many battles with the U.S. Cavalry. Hispanic and Anglo settlers began grazing stock and developing copper mines in the watershed. In the infamous Camp Grant Massacre, a death squad of American pioneers—including Tohono O’odham Indians, as well as Mexican Americans and Anglo-Americans from Tucson—descended upon an Apache camp before dawn on April 28, 1871. Those sleeping were clubbed to death, while those awake were shot by men stationed in the bluffs above. [19]

arvaipa canyon wilderness in arizona, a stream running through the bottom of a canyon with saguaro cactus and tall red-rock cliffs

Arvaipa Canyon wilderness

In less than an hour, the raiders had claimed the lives of nearly 150 Apaches, mostly women and children; the men were away hunting. With no casualties to themselves, they sold twenty-nine children into slavery in Mexico. This is neither the largest nor the most brutal of attacks on Native Americans, but it came at a time when a “peace policy” had been promised by the federal government. President Grant expressed outrage and sought to punish the attackers. Although a trial was held for 100 alleged participants, no justice was had; a jury of twelve Anglos and Mexican Americans from Tucson took only nineteen minutes to find the accused not guilty.[20] The remaining Apache were relocated to White Mountain Reservation to the northeast.[21]

The rape has been happening for the last 6,000 years as “indigenous people and their tribal societies have been targeted” by the predatory expansions of civilization.[22] Species disappear by the hour.[23] Capitalism is a war against the planet—operating off the slave labor of poor people and countries, poisoning our waters, air, and lands, and destroying ecosystems through mining and agriculture. With patriarchy, “men become real men by breaking boundaries—the sexual boundaries of women and children, the cultural and political boundaries of indigenous peoples, the biological boundaries of rivers and forests, the genetic boundaries of other species, and the physical boundaries of the atom itself.[24]

Civilization is brutal and unsustainable; agriculture is dependent upon imperialism and genocide. As feminist and environmentalist Lierre Keith said, “You pull down the forest, you plow up the prairie, you drain the wetland. Especially, you destroy the soil.”[25] Shifting from fossil fuels to green energy is a false solution. Green technology markets solutions while denuding the planet; corporations and government profit.[26] Ecosystems are devastated by solar and wind projects, and the increased mining and consumption they entail. Our political system is bankrupt, and violence against women and the Earth are “legitimated and promoted by both patriarchal religion and science” and “rooted in the eroticization of domination.”[27]

The Earth Created Us This Way

Three saguaro cactuses surrounded us in Aravaipa Canyon; each one about thirty feet tall with barrel appendages on each side that look like arms. I shared my dream with the questers in our opening council. “Will you help me stop the rape?” I said. “Put your body between the rape and the rapist?” I raised my voice, uncomfortable with the ferocity of my words. The rim across from us was some distance away, but several moving dots caught my eye. I slowly deciphered them as five bighorn sheep moving causally along the mountainside.

Harrison[28], a young man in his late twenties in graduate school, later shared his view over dinner.

“There’s not a problem,” he said. “The Earth is dreaming us; she created us this way.”

“It’s not a problem that 200 species go extinct each day?” I responded, feeling stunned.

“Extinctions have happened throughout history,” he answered. “It’s all part of her plan.”

“Extinctions have never occurred at this level. This isn’t a passive geological event, it’s extermination by capitalism,”[29] I said. “Yes, the Earth is dreaming us, but we’re sick and disconnected. This isn’t her plan.”

“We shouldn’t treat the Earth like a victim,” he responded. “She’s whole. She doesn’t need us to rescue her. She can take care of herself. She’s more powerful than we know.”

“Isn’t it possible for someone to be both whole and harmed by another?” I asked. “Life is far more complex than a drama triangle—victim, rescuer, perpetrator. This is about honoring the Earth and all of life as Sacred, regardless how powerful she is.”

“Activists are too angry, and protesting doesn’t change anything,” Harrison stated. “Tapping into the imaginative powers of Earth and soul is more powerful—shifting our consciousness.”

“Listening to dreams and perceiving our larger mythic potentialities is imperative, but so is direct action; there are forests, prairies, and animals alive today because of activists and revolutionaries,” I responded. “Perhaps it’s not either-or, but both-and. Each perspective, dream, and revolution are relevant. The mythic is happening, and the rape is happening too. It seems necessary we attend to both. Why are you opposed to seeing the rape?”

A Morsel of Empathic Resonance

While apprenticing on a women’s quest in my early thirties, I asked the dream-maker to help me remember what happened when I was four. Sleeping on the edge of a red rock cliff, I awoke to roaring thunder and the grove of ponderosa pines lit up in the lightning’s glow. Jack was in my dream. “I’m the one who abused you,” he said.

In the months that followed, I remembered the grey streak that ran through his curly black hair, and the disturbing way he looked at me in later years when we both found ourselves at the curb taking out the trash. With the support of trees and humans, my body re-experienced and integrated the memories that arose. It took years to trust what came and even longer to speak about it; it’s not a story I often share.

Those victimized in our culture are invalidated and stigmatized, but my story is only a small thread in the tapestry of violence that pervades and envelopes our culture. My trauma has gifted me with a small morsel of empathic resonance for what most other living beings on this planet endure far more often than I.

By the age of five, I wasn’t allowed to play with my neighbor; my mother had grown concerned about the reoccurring bites and bruises. The giant ash, the grove of pines, and the cherry and maple trees with whom I grew up were far less fortunate; all have since been chopped down. Although my parents had moved, I returned to pay my respects for the lives and deaths of those loving trees who raised me and were my family. I remember them often in my imagination.

The Questions of Displaced Descendants of Slaves

I remember weeping in love and loss while huddled in the crowded adobe hall with over 100 people; Martin Prechtel was sharing the rare and forgotten history of indigenous peoples worldwide. We listened to their music and heard about their creation stories, animals, and daily life. We wept over the rape, the slavery, the injustice, and so much beauty already lost. We asked questions: How did we get here from there? What birthed the original destructive culture that grew to destroy all others? How can we, the displaced descendants of slaves, live and die in a way that feeds life?

Bolad’s Kitchen is a never-before-seen school which aimed to help us remember an intact human approach to living in sacred relationship with Earth. I returned there for seventy days over four years, in my mid-thirties. Martin had grown up on a Pueblo reservation and apprenticed to a Tz’utujil shaman. He taught us an ancient economics. Fellow participants and I made beads, and later repaid our debt to the Earth for the obsidian rocks and shells we borrowed. We made pottery, moccasins, and felt, always offering the best back to the Holy Earth. She is starving and grieving, because she has not been given the ritual food and gifts she needs to live.

Martin shared stories of indigenous cultures who responded to attack in two ways. Some acted directly, fighting to protect their land, animals, and people; they were often killed or enslaved. Others acted mythically, returning to the “origination” place of their creation stories; there they waited to die intact, so their death would send out an echo that feeds all of life. But what if it isn’t either-or but both-and? What if we could act both mythically and directly? What if our revolution to stop the rape was sourced in both our ability to attune to our dreams and our willingness to resist our dominant culture?

Stopping the Rape

My dream seems to imply that we can stop the rape. I write to weave the world of dreams with direct action, so that our dreams can guide us. The weaving of mythos with revolution can support us in stopping the rape. Dreams are “willful, living beings”[30] that can re-align us with earth’s wishes. Through dream incubation, artists ask for a dream to guide their creation, and the dream that comes is “for the work of art, which uses us to birth itself.”[31] Similarly, we can invite the Earth to dream through us, and guide us toward the actions that matter most. When we act on our dreams, more dreams come to guide us further. In this way, dreams can come to guide our life. Dreams have led me to heal and discover my soul; they direct me now to guide and write; they urged me to write this piece.

Dreams offer pivotal clues about our deepest purpose. Each soul’s story feeds and seeds the mythic sinew of our human potential while also empowering our creative service on behalf of Earth. Just as individual transformation requires a journey of dismemberment, so too must our patho-adolescent civilization dismember and dismantle. Civilization will fall no matter what we do, and it’s likely to be messy and dangerous. To stop the rape, we must stop industrial civilization from continuing to harm people and the planet.

Radical change is necessary rather than minor reforms; it doesn’t work to “ask for justice from a system which is deeply invested in injustice.[32] We’ve been taught to solve problems by getting along, but this strategy isn’t effective with an abuser, and global industrial empire can be likened to an abuser. Abusers “feel entitled to exploit, will do anything in order to exploit, and will exploit precisely as much as they can get away with,” and as eco-philosopher Derrick Jensen says, the only way to stop an abuser is to place him “in a situation where he has no other choice.”[33]

How may we bring this radical change about? We need stealth, resistance, ferocity, and creativity. We need to cultivate a relationship with our dreams, the more-than-human world, and our deep imagination. We need humans willing to fight for what we love by all means necessary to dismantle industrial civilization. Judith Lewis Herman says it’s “morally impossible to remain neutral.” Bystanders are forced to take sides. It’s tempting to side with the abuser, because doing so risks nothing and requires nothing from us; it also appeals to “the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil.” Acknowledging rape asks bystanders “to share the burden of pain.” It demands “action, engagement, and remembering.”[34]

Global industrial empire and a living planet can’t exist at the same time. If you love the Earth, are you willing to stand with her? What happens to Earth happens to us; to side against her is to rape ourselves.

Primal Scream

The cottonwoods shaded us as we sat in final council. Harrison shared an encounter with a teddy bear cholla—a cactus so thick with spines, it almost seems covered in fur.

“It told me to slow down so I could listen better. I took off my shoes and walked barefoot,” he said. “I later touched a hurt place on a barrel cactus, and a surprising flood of painful memories returned of a time when I was abused.”

Harrison’s demeanor was soft and somber. I wondered if his experience would shift his perspective on the rape of Earth. Many women in the group had shared stories of rape earlier in the week. One woman had dreamed about a primal scream of pain for the feminine and the Earth. She carried it out on the land.

“I wanted to hold that scream forever,” she said. “Perhaps my writing can be a voice for it.”

As we paused to take in her words, a squadron of javelinas wandered into a neighboring field to eat some nuts from under the truffle trees. Javelinas are pig-like animals with tusks; they roam the gulches in family bands (like the Apache did).

I shared too.  “You may see me as a strong guide, living her mythic purpose. Yet I’m also someone who has been harmed by the violence of our culture. The young girl inside me who carries this hurt also holds gifts. I love her. She lives within my mythos, her heart connected to the heart of the world in a cave underneath a world tree. That little girl who found comfort in the arms of the trees still speaks to me today—if I’m still enough to listen. She informs how I love, guide, and write.  She chisels a sensitivity into my bones that attunes me to the rape of Earth and feeds my fervor to act.”

Author Bio

Rebecca Wildbear is a river and soul guide who helps people tune in to the mysteries that live within the Earth community, dreams, and their own wild Nature, so they may live a life of creative service. She has been a guide with Animas Valley Institute since 2006 and is author of the forthcoming book, Playing & Praying: Soul Stories to Inspire Personal & Planetary Transformation.

Image is Toppling Over the Edge of the World [Collage] by Doug Van Houten ©, used with permission.

Upcoming Radical Dreamwork Event

Rebecca & Doug will offer an Animas Valley Institute program to Deep Green Resistance members and allies, June 26 – 30, 2020, A Wild Mind Intensive for Activists & Revolutionaries: Partnering with Earth & Dreams. We’ll deepen our ecological perception and engage in radical dreamwork…and more!

See the flyer for full description ~


Or register on-line  ~



[1] Martin Prechtel, Long Life Honey in the Heart (North Atlantic Books, 2004).

[2] Tika Yupanqui, The Iroquois Dream Experience and Spirituality, webwinds.com, 1998.

[3] Derrick Jensen, Dreams, (Seven Stories Press, 2011).

[4] Stephen Aizenstat, Dream Tending: Awakening to the Healing Power of Dreams (Spring Journal, Inc., 2011).

[5] Bill Plotkin, “Self-Development and Cultural Transformation #6,” Musings, animas.org, March 2019.

[6] National Sexual Violence Resource Center, nsvrc.org/node/4737.

[7] Lili Loofbourow, “Why Society Goes Easy on Rapists,” Slate, May, 2019.

[8] National Sexual Violence Resource Center, nsvrc.org/node/4737.

[9] RAINN, rain.org/statistics/children-and-teens.

[10] Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Volume 2: Resistance (Seven Stories Press, 2006).

[11] Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror (Basic Books, 1997).

[12] Sean Butler and Will Falk, “Rights for Lake Erie? Why Corporate Rights and Preemption Must Go,” DGR News Service, December 2019.

[13] Aimee Cree Dunn, “An Open Letter to Climate Activists in the Northwoods…and Beyond,” DGR News Service, December 2019.

[14] David Abrams, Spell of the Sensuous (Vintage, 1997).

[15] Laura Sewall’s essay “The Skill of Ecological Perception” was published in Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind by Theodore Roszak, Mary Gomes,  and Allen Kanner (New York: Random House, 1995).

[16] Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror (Basic Books, 1997).

[17] Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Volume 2: Resistance (Seven Stories Press, 2006).

[18] Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Volume 2: Resistance (Seven Stories Press, 2006).

[19] Ari Kelman, “Murder, purely,” The Chronicle, April 2008.

[20] Ari Kelman, “Murder, purely,” The Chronicle, April 2008.

[21] Edward Abbey, “In the Land of ‘Laughing Waters’,” The New York Times, January 1982.

[22] Aimee Cree Dunn, “An Open Letter to Climate Activists in the Northwoods…and Beyond,” DGR News Service, December 2019.

[23] Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Volume 2: Resistance (Seven Stories Press, 2006).

[24] Lierre Keith, “The Girls and the Grasses,” DGR News Service, August 2015.

[25] Lierre Keith, The Girls and the Grasses, DGR News Service, August 2015.

[26] Max Wilbert, “The Moral Argument for Ecological Revolution,” DGR News Service, November 2019.

[27] Jane Caputi, Gossips, Gorgons & Crones: The Fates of the Earth (Bear & Company, 1993).

[28] Name and identifying details have been changed.

[29] Justin McBrien, “This is Not the Sixth Extinction. It’s the First Extermination Event,” Truthout, September 2019

[30] Derrick Jensen, Dreams (Seven Stories Press, 2011).

[31] Robert Bosnak, Embodiment: Creative Imagination in Medicine, Art, and Travel (Routledge, 2007).

[32] Shahidah Janjua, “By Any Means Necessary?” DGR News Service, December 2019.

[33] Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Volume 2: Resistance (Seven Stories Press, 2006).

[34] Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror (Basic Books, 1997).

Rose McGowan Is Not A Perfect Rape Victim; No Woman Is

Rose McGowan Is Not A Perfect Rape Victim; No Woman Is

Featured image: Transactivist Andi Dier, left, and Rose McGowan.

We claim to be ready for women’s anger, as a society, but we clearly still expect women to express it in ways we are comfortable with.

     by Raquel Rosario SanchezFeminist Current

One of the first lessons you learn when you do shelter work is that women’s pain and trauma manifests differently from individual to individual. Women are incredibly resilient, but experiencing male violence can lead to months of intense emotional instability or deep depression. Some never recover.

Sometimes victims make decisions you wouldn’t recommend. Sometimes they can be difficult to work with, which can be frustrating. Sometimes they do or say things that you wouldn’t say or do. That is ok. When trying to grapple with the pain and trauma that comes from male violence, it is not your role as a front line worker to prioritize your own feelings and assumptions. You have to understand that it’s not about you, that women will find their own ways to cope, and that the best you can do is to support victims in finding ways to survive, escape, and recover from male violence.

Understanding the impact of male violence on women also means understanding that there is no perfect victim, and that sometimes women speak out or fight back in imperfect ways.

Last month, Rose McGowan’s reading at Barnes and Noble was hijacked by Andi Dier, who identifies as a transwoman and has been accused by multiple women of being a sexual predator. Dier undermined not only McGowan’s experiences of assault and harassment under patriarchy, but the experiences of all women, suggesting that transwomen face more danger than women. Going even further, Dier claimed that women like McGowan were complicit in committing “genocide” against trans-identified people.

In the aftermath, mainstream media coverage and commentary online not only distorted the reality of what happened, but reinforced the myth that there can be such a thing as a perfect rape victim — that there are some victims of male violence who deserve our compassion, and others who do not.

Variety described the incident as “a verbal altercation” and a “heated dispute,” as though McGowan had been walking down the street and got into an argument with a stranger. In truth, Dier admitted to deliberately planning to confront McGowan at her book launch. The media referred to McGowan as “bizarre” and “a white feminist.” Headlines said she “had a meltdown” and described her as “problematic.” Almost every article read as dog whistling, invoking tropes of the “hysteric,” “emotional,” “crazy” woman. The Huffington Post stooped so low as to ask Harvey Weinstein, McGowan’s rapist, for comment on the incident with Dier. Weinstein’s lawyer took the opportunity to reprimand McGowan for “choosing to marginalize a community.”

But how should McGowan have responded? The only appropriate response, according to many, would have been for her to not speak at all and to cede the floor to Dier.

There is something about McGowan standing her ground that is deeply unsettling to many people.

Too many people online have responded by centering what they want from McGowan — as a woman, an activist, a victim, and a survivor. “I want her to be a good ally,” says one twitter user. She is “undeserving” of people’s support, argues another.

We seem to have decided  that society is ready for women to be “brave enough to be angry” and that, thanks to the Weinstein scandal, “fury is no longer a cause for shame” in women. But what this incident demonstrates is that, as always, Dier’s fury is justified and coddled while McGowan’s anger becomes a useful alibi for society to ostracize her.

McGowan’s anger has been represented not only as less valid than Dier’s, but as simply wrong. If society truly cared about victims of violence, we wouldn’t impose our expectations on them. And we would understand that a woman like McGowan has every right to be angry at someone who came to her book launch specifically to interrupt and silence her while she is recounting her story of trauma and recovery. Why shouldn’t she be upset?

The subtext of media coverage of the incident reveals that people assume and demand that McGowan should behave in “a proper way.” She went off script, in other words; and commentary shows that people believe that if McGowan changed, she would be worthy, or more deserving of people’s sympathy and support.

Society may have been forced to reckon the ubiquity of male violence, but it is by no means ready to confront the reality of women’s pain and trauma.

There appears to be something more sinister at play, as well. In the backlash against McGowan, I see many people breathing a sigh of relief, as if they are finally able to say, “See, it’s not that we didn’t like her because she was loud and vocal and angry and uncontrollable; the real problem is that she is a TERF/a transphobe/a bad ally.”

It’s the perfect cover for people who prefer their rape victims docile and quiet in their empowerment. In a patriarchy, it is far easier to read about men’s sexual abuse of women when we know the story has a happy ending. It’s easier to digest women’s pain when we learn that it all ended up working out well for her because now she is married and has kids — when we’re told that she got over it and is all better now.

Rose McGowan shatters that “perfect victim” narrative. Not only is she not “over it,” but she refuses to hide or control her anger. She encourages all women to be angry and to use that anger to challenge the system that enables the kind of abuse perpetrated against her.

What happened at McGowan’s book event is not an indictment of her, it’s an exposé of people who present themselves as allies to and supporters of victims of male violence, but who will jump at the chance to tear that same woman down for “acting out of order.” As if there is order in trauma…

What the Barnes and Noble incident reveals is that there are an awful lot of people who were waiting for an opportunity to pounce on women like McGowan and put them back in their place. When the allegations against Harvey Weinstein came out, back in October, McGowan was among the first few actresses to stick her neck out and tell her story of abuse. It is deeply unfair that so many people celebrate superficial demonstrations of empowerment, like wearing white roses or black dresses on the red carpet at award ceremonies (and only once the tide had turned), yet women like McGowan who put everything on the line by speaking out when they were lone voices are sidelined…

We may be ready for women’s anger when it comes in the form of an inspiring Oprah speech at a glamorous awards ceremony, but not in the form of a victim of male violence whose pain is very much still raw and palpable, and who wants people to bear witness to that.

McGowan is not unaware that her honesty is unsettling to many people. On Twitter, she wrote:

“I am unusual, that IS the point. I do not care for formats or traditional thought. Every interview of mine is different, just like a mood. A lot of you are meeting me for the first time. Don’t compare me to what you would do or be. Be free.”


It is not up to the media or the online armchair commentariat to decide whether McGowan “deserves” our support. If your support for victims and survivors of male violence depends on them behaving in a way you consider acceptable, you care more about yourself and your “social justice” persona than about women’s genuine well-being. Women who have been abused by men and dare to speak out deserve better than that.

There is a patriarchy-approved way for women to deal with the trauma of male violence and Rose McGowan is doing it wrong.

More power to her.