Not Even Close: Efforts to Fight Violence Against Women are Missing the Target


The root cause of violence against women is that our society allows violence against women and young girls to go unpunished. If we truly want to stop violence against women, stricter polices for those perpetrating women would be put into place telling men that any act of violence against any woman is not okay. Our silent acceptance of violence against certain cohorts of women must be addressed if real change is to occur. 


Domestic policies for prostitution perpetuate violence against women. Unless we are willing to address the root cause of society’s acceptance of violence against women, efforts to decrease it will continue to be done in vain.           

According to the US Department of Justice (DOJ), prostitution is an epidemic. Reports from the DOJ indicate that the average age of entry for prostitution is 12 years. Again, let me repeat that due to absolute absurdity, the average age of entry into prostitution in the United States is 12 years young. Young girls, much like the women who enter prostitution come from broken families, live in poverty and are vulnerable to exploitation for many of the same reasons. They tend to be runaways from both families and the juvenile justice system or are ‘throwaways’ where parents have kicked their children out of their homes and into the streets. More than 90% of prostitutes have been beaten, sexually assaulted by a family member and/or emotionally abused before entrance. Aside from abusive situations, entrance into prostitution puts young girls and women at a higher risk of violence. A Kaiser Family Foundation supported study reported that 78% of prostitutes were threatened with a weapon in the past 6 months, 82% were physically assaulted and 82% reported being raped. Seventy-three percent of women reported being raped more than five times in the past 6 months. This is violence against women.

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Intertwined with the dangers of abusive pimps, coercion into prostitution, rape, beatings, stabbings, untreated STIs and drug use, on top of environmental hazards, prostitution is inherently dangerous. A Canadian report found that mortality amongst prostitutes was 40 times higher than that of the national average. If any other cohort of our population showed such an increased risk of mortality, our nation’s leaders would be dedicated towards decreasing this number, and fast. Unfortunately, this population of young and abused women is not only vulnerable, but they are also more or less invisible from policy and laws that would help protect them. Policies protecting prostitutes can help lead towards an end to the root of violence against women in our society.

Policies protecting women and young girls from being subjected to crimes against their bodies are undeniably absent. Our nation has done little to standardize procedures within police departments in order to make prostitutes feel safe in reporting beatings, rapes, being pimped and other bad experiences due to their jobs. Unfortunately, the legal and judicial forces that are in place to keep prostitutes from harm often stigmatize them. Prostitutes are further victimized when they report abuse to police and have reportedly been mocked. Abuse against them seems to have been justified due to their ‘occupation.’  Another barrier to reporting abuses is the fear of reporting an illegal activity such as prostitution. When reporting, women and young girls can be prosecuted for admitting their involvement in illegal activity even if they are only reporting crimes against themselves. Due to the absence of policies protecting all citizens equally, crimes against prostitutes go severely underreported. This not only leaves women and young girls vulnerable to repeated trauma, but more alarmingly, allows men to get away with their acts of violence against women.

For men who are caught soliciting prostitutes, which need I remind you are often young girls under the age of lawful consent, they get off fairly easily by merely following policies and ‘programs’ to help men rehabilitate. A program started in California in 1995 and has since spread to major cities throughout the nation, allows an offending man to take a class that has been compared to Stop Class. As long as it is a first offense, men are able to participate in a daylong training class and leave with a six-month probationary period. If they are not caught soliciting within those 6 months the offense does not go on their record. Ironically prostitutes, even the youngest who get caught do not get such an easy route. Larger cities have begun allowing girls to receive counseling and rehabilitative help through local nonprofits, but girls and women still go on trial and have criminal records opened against them. This hypocrisy allows society to continue treating men as victims of passion and lust and permits the real victims to be violated in another form instead of confronting the true crime, society’s silent consent to the continuation of violence against women.

Even more shocking and appalling is the fact that rehabilitative programs allow and assist men who were involved with underage girls, which in itself against the law. In any other situation, these men would be tried as sex offenders and be forced to register with the national registry. However, only because their actions were against a prostitute this crime will not follow and haunt them (as long as they are not caught soliciting again within the six-month probationary period). With this program, men who prowl streets soliciting young girls for sexual acts are simply allowed a ‘free pass’ if caught. This allows men the ability to continue their acts without a criminal record and without the stigma that is imposed and warranted. Sex with any minor girl is a violation of her innocence, regardless of her personal situation. Violence against women is not being curbed through current policies that further victimize the victims while justifying innocence for the perpetrators.

Further victimizing prostitutes are the new policies targeted to curb prostitution. These policies actually cause increase arrests of prostitutes if they are in possession of sexual paraphernalia such as condoms. The primary mode of protecting against long-term effects of sexual contact is now a crime for those who are most at risk.  These policies support society’s view that it is okay to demean and treat this population differently. Such policies provide proof that society does not believe that this particular population has the right to protect themselves. This is simply criminal, inhumane and unjust.

Breaking the cycle of violence against women requires society to help those forced into prostitution.  It begs policy makers to start addressing the root problem. Prostitution is not a voluntarily chosen ‘occupation’ for many who are found on the streets. With the increased risks of violence and dangers to health, it is a shame we have not worked more diligently to reduce the harm and stigma faced by the victims. Embarrassingly, our nation does more to help those who perpetrate against young girls and women in the name of prostitution then it does to protect them. Allowing this injustice in any part our society allows for a silent acceptance of the system. With no current policies that draw boundaries or set parameters on what is acceptable and what is not, the silent acceptance of violence towards prostitutes grows deeper. Developing clear policies to protect prostitutes is an important first step in the real fight to stop violence against women.


Analysis Politics

You’ve Got Your ‘Panties in a Wad,’ Sarah Palin Says of Those Who Claim ‘War on Women’

Adele M. Stan

Palin closed CPAC with a speech that demonstrated the right's women problem: It's hard to win women when you can't help insulting them.

Read more of our coverage on the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference here.

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an annual gathering of right-wingers of all stripes, is often a raucous game of competition between various wings of the Republican Party and the conservative movement.

While the same tensions were on display, beginning on Thursday with an opening salvo by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), at this year’s CPAC—conservatives versus “the GOP establishment,” religious-right types versus libertarians—the customary giddiness was missing from the jousting, now with the 2014 midterm election campaigns for Congress well underway.

But some things never do change. As it has ever been, CPAC is a man’s game, even as leaders of the Republican Party, in the wake of its unprecedented assault on women’s rights and reproductive justice over the last four years in state legislatures and in the U.S. House of Representatives, seek to convince women that the party knows what’s best for them.

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Of the 25 speakers featured on the website for this year’s conference, three are women.

Of the 2,459 CPAC registrants who participated in the conference’s annual presidential straw poll this year, 63 percent are men, and 37 percent are women. (Sen. Rand Paul [R-KY] won.)

Yet when Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and the first Republican woman to run on a presidential ticket, took the stage as CPAC’s big closer Saturday, she devoted about one-third of her speech to refuting charges by Democrats of a Republican “war on women.”

After complaining that liberals had “gotten their panties in a wad” and their “skirts tangled up over their heads” after Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame expressed “his devout Christian views on a television show about his devout Christian family” (actually, Robertson said that “homosexuality” leads to bestiality), Palin complained that the same “fainting-couch liberals” who got Robertson suspended from his show are “whining that we disrespect women.”

“They seem to think that the women of America are cheap dates,” Palin said. “Feed ‘em a few lines about that free birth control, throw in some scary quotes about the war on women, and they will be yours.”

Palin was apparently referring to the requirement by the Department of Health and Human Services that health-care plans offered by employers to employees as part of their compensation cover prescription contraceptives with no co-payment, which does not make the prescriptions “free,” but rather items covered by the insurance premium, whose cost, in most employer-employee arrangements, is paid partly if not fully by the employee.

The “war on women” is a broad term that is generally understood to refer to Republican opposition to the contraception insurance mandate, the target of two Supreme Court cases, and a Republican-led offensive against abortion access that has seen more restrictions passed at the state level in the last two years than in the two decades that preceded them.

The former governor, in her “cheap date” remarks, echoed a theme noted by Rewire’s Emily Crockett in a speech delivered earlier that day by CPAC Co-Chair Carly Fiorina.

Palin called Republican women a “sisterhood” that claims as its matriarchs Margaret Thatcher, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony. “Oh, this sisterhood so believes in and respects the power and purposeful potential of every woman, so much so that we’re the party with the plank that protects even our littlest sisters—in the womb,” she said.

She painted President Barack Obama and Democrats as those who are “enticing girls to think that they need these guys to grow government to take care of them.” Enticing.

Pretending to speak only to the women in the room (after telling the men to play a video game on their cell phones), Palin said, “Girls, we know better than to fall for that victimization line from the president and his party. … I know you know better, but if you have a friend or a sister or a roommate falling for this hooey, ya gotta set ‘em straight. Ask them, who’s really stereotyping you? Is it the people who believe that you are a thinking, achieving, striving, strong individual, or those who put you in a box and they define you still by body parts?”

She suggested that supporting Obama and the Democrats might be the kind of thing one might not feel so great about in the morning.

“Women, don’t let them use you, unless you choose to be their political pawn, or just your piece of accessory on their arm,” Palin said, emphasizing the first syllable of “accessory” and pronouncing it like “ass-essory.”

“Honey, that’s not liberation; that’s subjugation,” she added.

The speech was classic Palin, this time complete with a bad parody of Green Eggs and Ham:

I do not like this Uncle Sam

I do not like his health-care scam…

I won’t torment you with the rest.

Of course, her remarks were rife with barbs at the president. When she wasn’t painting him as a player looking for a cheap date, she took swipe at his manliness, especially in contrast to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, joking that Obama might poke the Russian with his pen.

“The only way to stop a bad guy with a nuke is a good guy with a nuke,” she said, paraphrasing an oft-repeated line delivered earlier that day by Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association, about how best to stop a bad guy with a gun. (More guns, naturally.)

At the beginning of Palin’s speech, members of the media were given flyers advertising Palin’s new television show, Amazing America, scheduled to begin on April 3 on the Sportsman Channel, a sort of all-guns-all-the-time cable outfit (except on Friday, which is apparently archery day, and Sunday, which features some fishing shows).

Throughout the conference, speakers had a funny way of showing their appreciation for women. In what was billed as an homage to Firing Line, the long-ago debate show hosted by the late William F. Buckley, author and rhetorical bomb-thrower Ann Coulter debated blogger and author Mickey Kaus, who was billed as a liberal, an assertion many liberals view as debatable in and of itself. (Video here.) Coulter, one of the few women to grace the CPAC stage, suggested that the shaming of poor people is a good thing, and that it should not be shameful to say to poor people “keep your knees together before you’re married.” (By “poor people,” she apparently meant poor women. Rich people on the other hand, do what you please.)

Coulter also suggested that if immigration reform passes, those who supported it should submit themselves to “death squads.”

The day before, Fox News host and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who recently suggested that the only kind of women who wanted birth control from “Uncle Sugar” were those who couldn’t “control their libidos,” brought fire and brimstone to the CPAC stage, citing a quote from Ruth Bell Graham, wife of evangelist Billy Graham, who, according to Huckabee, said that God would have to apologize to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, cities said to have been destroyed by God for sexual iniquity, “if He did not bring fiery judgment on the United States of America.”

Huckabee was introduced by Rev. James Robison, whose anti-choice ministry is based on the fact that he was conceived in rape.

Later in the day, Huckabee hosted a screening of his 2012 anti-choice movie The Gift of Life, which was produced by Citizens United, the group for which the 2010 Supreme Court decision is named.

On an all-woman panel titled, “Why Conservatism is Right for Women: How Conservatives Should Talk About Life, Prosperity & National Security,” Crystal Wright of the Conservative Black Chick blog complained that the leadership of the Republican Party wasn’t doing enough to recruit women to run for Congress. (Video here.) But the same could have been said for the leadership of CPAC, and its failure to recruit women speakers.

Robin Abcarian, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, did a count of all the speakers on the CPAC stage (not just the 25 featured speakers mentioned at the beginning of this article), and found that of the 163 speakers and panelists on the CPAC 2014 schedule, only 35 were women.

“That’s a 57-point gender gap, people,” Albercain wrote. “If Republicans have any hope of stopping the Democrats’ blockbuster narrative that they are waging a war on women, they must first solve their own war of attrition on women.”

Or, they could try Palin’s approach.

“C’mon libs, can you really sing, ‘I am woman, hear me…’?” she asked, singing that half a line rather badly. “No, because donkeys just bray. Only Mama Grizzlies can say, ‘Hear me roar.’”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled Los Angeles Times columnist Robin Abcarian’s last name. We regret the error.

News Sexual Health

Average Penis Is Less Than Six Inches Long, Study Finds

Martha Kempner

Don't believe the hype. A new study finds the average penis is only 5.6 inches when erect.

A new study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine has found that most men are not endowed like Dirk Diggler from Boogie Nights. In fact, most men have a penis that measures less than six inches long when erect.

The study, led by Indiana University researcher Debby Herbenick, surveyed 1,661 men, each of whom was asked to measure both the length and girth of his penis when erect. Men were also asked to tell the researchers how they attained the erection.

The largest penis in the survey measured in at 10.2 inches, while the smallest was 1.6 inches. Most men fell firmly in between, with the average penis measuring 5.6 inches in length and 4.8 inches in girth. The researchers found that characteristics such as race or sexual orientation were not good predictors of penis size.

However, men who reported attaining their erection through oral sex were on average larger than men who were alone when they became erect. Herbenick told LiveScience, “We don’t know if that means that when men have oral sex that it’s more arousing and they get a bigger erection, or means that men who have bigger penises could be getting more oral sex in the first place.”

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The data was collected as part of an earlier study comparing men’s use of a standard-sized condoms to the use of condoms specifically sized to fit their erect penis. Herbenick explained the results of that study to Rewire, saying, “We found that both standard and fitted condoms were comfortable for most men, and that some men on either end of the size continuum preferred condoms fitted to the size of their erect penis. Currently, ‘fitted’ condoms are no longer on the U.S. market. However, there’s a wider-than-ever range of condoms that are safe, effective, and pleasurable and that are available for men and their partners to choose from.”


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