Alex Blaze

Calling rape "rape"

Filed By Alex Blaze | April 22, 2009 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: criminal justice system, education policy, government, prevention, prison, rape, school, sex, teens

Lisa Derrick at La Figa found this ad produced by "Buzzfree Prom," a nonprofit meant to target teen drinking (and driving):

buzzfreead.jpg

While the creator doesn't think this is homophobic, she's pulled the ad from her site because of complaints.

I do wonder about the implication that we should just accept rape as a part of prison life. While many of the people who complained about the ad probably objected to the use of the word "queen" and the implication that there's something wrong with gay sex, but it's screaming loud and clear that they know what happens in prison (even though the government's general response to both prison sex and prison rape is to state over and over again that it's against the rules... as if that means it doesn't happen. I don't know if that's better than Americans' general reaction to prison rape: make porn movies about it and then call any politician who wants to do something about it "soft on crime").

I remember a former pro football player who came to talk to my high school about not doing drugs. He mentioned knowing someone who was going off to prison, who he said was all man but kinda small, and then visiting him a year later when he had long hair, spoke with a lisp, and kissed another man. The moral of the story: don't do drugs or you'll be sent to prison and raped. (Yeah, my high school wasn't all that progressive. I don't remember any response to this guy.)

The endorsement comes from the fact that everyone in America knows that it's going on but no one does anything to stop it. I doubt the org that put out this ad is doing much to lobby politicians to put an end to prison violence (and the war on drugs that sends a lot of nonviolent offenders to prison who'd be better off with help instead of incarceration). Instead, it's "Kids, remember that being raped is the natural punishment for drinking during prom. So don't drink."

And, yes, it's rape. It isn't sex, it isn't becoming somebody's "bride" or "queen," and it isn't a joke. It's actual violence and the fact that it's now assumed to be a punishment for crimes like underage drinking just shows what a callous culture we live in.

I know, they pulled the ad and they probably weren't even thinking along these lines, but then, what were they thinking? And what are the rest of us thinking, considering how little political will there is to end the violence in the criminal justice system? Do we think that this sort of violence is an acceptable punishment for nonviolent crimes, like drinking underage?

Because both the current liberal firestorm over the officially sanctioned and choreographed torture and gays' outcry over homophobia mean nothing without a commitment to substantial criminal justice reform. We can't keep on ignoring the fact that we, as Americans, are sanctioning and financing this violence.


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Well, they certainly weren't aware of grammar.

I recall hearing some college kids debating the prison system, and one of them justifying rape as deserved.

Since when does one criminal filth get the moral standing to punish another criminal? Punishment is to be dispensed by the justice system, not by convicts. Do people earnestly think that those coming out of a prison system which works under social Darwinism will have "learned" their lesson and become fruitful members of society? All that these people had in prison was the reaffirming of their notion of violent oppression as a means to deal with conflict. Sociopaths go into prison, and come out ever more sociopathic, as they get the chance to practice and refine their techniques.

I remember being supremely irritated by American History X's prison rape scene. It was so typical, and a cheap way to scare kids out of being prejudiced.

And even if the state were to mete out this punishment, how could we possibly justify it?

Good point about that movie. And I watched it with a group of gay men, and....