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not a joking matter

September 13, 2010

WARNING: This post and the accompanying attachment may be a trigger for some people. No actual instances of sexual assault will be described in detail but the act of assault will be discussed.

Names have been changed in this post, but all other text is in the original.

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I have written on Vegina before about interesting Facebook posts and conversations.  I am at it again. However, this time the conversation isn’t interesting. It is sad and sick and has no place in the vegan community. You can read the exchange about which I am speaking here. I have not embedded it as text since some people may not feel comfortable reading it, as it is fraught with fat-phobia, gendered insults, rape jokes and feminist bashing.

There is a book’s worth of issues brought up by this post that elicits discussion. Some issues that I hope to discuss in future posts are fat-phobia and the government’s role in the politics of ingestion. In this post I am focusing on the rape “jokes” and sexist humor. I am going to discuss the manner in which these insults were initiated (with gender bashing “humor”), the propagation of this violence through humor premised on sexual assault and rape, and the “justification” of behavior eventually advanced by the perpetrators that the people who oppose their comments just like being angry and have no sense of humor.

Much of what happened in this post is violating and disgusting but I somehow felt even more violated that this conversation came from within the vegan community. It is my flawed expectation that vegans truly understand oppression and abuse and the marginalization of those who stand up for what is ethical.  Because of these expectations, I was shocked and hurt on a deeper, more personal level than I am usually accustomed.

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Gender bashing

This post quickly turned from fat-phobia and commentary on government regulation of ingestion to sexist humor and gender bashing. Two individuals bantered back and forth with gendered insults. Boy insults girl by saying she has male genitals. Girl insults boy by saying he is feminine:

Rose You Dodger loving son of a bitch.

Rose Henry is quite fem.

Henry And rose has a cock.

Rose I paid good money for us to be at this game. Watch it, bitch.

This sort of teasing is premised on the belief that gender categories are binary and inflexible. In a movement that is supposed to support difference and progressive anti-oppressive ideologies, this simplistic banter is out of place and inconsistent with the basis of veganism and the goals of the animal rights movement. Vegans have no business enforcing stereotypical social norms that serve only to forward discriminations. Gender enforcement of this sort leads to the narrow ideals of boy/girl, man /woman and feminine/masculine that allow restrictive gender categories. Restrictive and inflexible notions of gender in turn lead to and allow for sexism and homophobia to be prevalent in our society. The way that this sort of gender enforcement leads to sexism is clearly demonstrated in this post. After the gender bashing ensues, and a sexist environment is established, the space for an extremely violent, sexist remark is created. This comment follows:

Ugo like rape, sure one or two a night is within a healthy range, but more than that, is pushing the libido and power struggle limit! Although, it is how I keep the lights on!

Someone stands up against this violence. Rather than react responsibly and apologize, Ugo and supporters immediately attack all dissenters on a personal level and the rape jokes gain more speed:

Ginny That’s not very funny.

Ugo it was meant to be informative not funny kiddo! 😉

Ginny That’s disgusting. I really hope you and I are never in the same place at the same time, “kiddo.”

Ugo Just stay away from dark allies, hell in your case stay away from well lit areas too, I don’t want to contract a fcd! And this comment was an inside joke for Henry, silly fembot!

Future posts continue with the rape jokes:

Ugo Here Here and HareHare Krisna to that! Also, my point was to use humor to get me through the rape I experienced last Wednesday, which happens to be the day I met Henry and thought “what a cool compassionate guy”, wait a darn minute, my attacker had poodle like hair and a giraffe like tongue, you didn’t happen to rape me in a dark alley-way, did you Henry, see rape can be funny, it tickled me girlfriends!

And then this:

Ugo I wish facebook had a RAPE button!

Chad LOL! Classic. Agreed.

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Rape Is Never Funny

I thought it would go without saying that some things just aren’t laughing matters. This Facebook exchange, however, revealed to me that even the vegan community needs help seeing oppression and violence for what it is. This is especially true of violence directed at women. In a misogynistic society, women will always be under attack and will always be asked to accept abuse with a smile. In a second post on this matter, a survivor of a sexual assault outs herself for the sake of asking Ginny to “learn to laugh” a little, but it is this flippant attitude that allows so much violence to remain masked.

Three major issues these people did not consider (or care about once informed) are that this sort of talk (1) is definitely being read by survivors of sexual assault, (2) can be very offensive and harmful to these women and their supporters (or any nonviolent person), and (3) can serve as a “trigger” for victims of sexual assault.

In 2007, there were 248,300 victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault over the age of 12. (US Department of Justice, 2007 statistics). ~RAINN

“A trigger is something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma.” To ignore that this is a very real possible consequence of these posts was an added layer of abuse that the perpetrators in this dialogue were enacting. Henry (the person on whose FB page this was all posted) most certainly has friends that have experienced being sexually assaulted. In fact, two clearly stated such.

Sexual assault is a very real issue in our society. One in 4 women are likely assaulted by an intimate partner in their lifetime[1] and 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually assaulted by the age of 18.[2] I can keep rattling off facts about the prevalence of sexual violence (follow this link for more information) but it is indisputable that sexual assault is a very real social problem that can destroy lives by creating mental, social and physical health problems for survivors.

Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted. ~RAINN

As I mentioned in my Facebook comments on the attached post, sexual abuse is a tool that societies across space and throughout time have used to systematically oppress and subdue women, children, sexual minorities and gender “non-conformists.” We have no reason to continue forwarding this abusive behavior.  As vegans, we are people who claim to be concerned with the plight of the abused and marginalized and so we have a duty to actively reject this abuse. Just as there is no valid reason to poke fun at something as unnecessary and violent as caging, abusing, and murdering sentient beings, there is no excuse for perpetuating the violence and abuse of rape.

In an attempt to silence the objections to the rape jokes, posts were made that directly attack those who stood up to the abusive commentators and that identified their behavior as overly rigid.

Those who asked publicly for this post to stop (Ginny and myself) were personally attacked. A veiled fat joke came to Ginny from Ugo: “I don’t want to contract a fcd!” (I assume that is a play on STD and means Fat Contracted Disease, though I can be wrong). And the attempt to shut me down was made as well with a “joke” that tried to suggest I am too PC for my own good.

Ugo I got some good 9 eleven and hyrpes cinplex 12 jokes, but that might trigger a painful memory causing global meltdown of epic proportions! Tell Vegina to never watch tv, listen to the radio, read magazines, open a penny saver or go to a Lisa lampanelli show!

When these didn’t silence us an additional post was made from Ugo on Henry’s page that played a remix of a recent video that has gone viral on Youtube. The video features a woman and her brother being interviewed after the brother prevented his sister’s rape mid-attack.

(I don’t find this video funny, but if you want to watch it, here it is.)

At this point the objection to this humor was met not with logic but a definitive statement that we are simply angry people who want to be angry:

Frank Some people just enjoy being offended, Ugo. No use in trying to please them. Do what you want. Say what you want. Take advantage of free speech before the PC nazis take that away from us too.

First, I am disgusted whenever anyone speaking up for justice is compared to a Nazi. This comparison is inappropriate as power relations are totally inverted in this situation. It is insulting when an oppressed group fighting against repression is compared to a powerful group violently enforcing repression. Vegans should be particularly sensitive to this, as our pleas for justice for animals are almost always marginalized.

There were 248,300 sexual assaults in 2007 (from U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey). ~RAINN

As people who reject society’s notions of the role of animals in society, our selves and our ideas are often rejected as “overly sensitive” or “touchy.” Once a valid perspective is deemed invalid by calling it irrational (because in our society we erroneously treat emotion as if it is invalid and irrational), the speaker of that perspective is effectively silenced and delegitimized. To use this same flippant unintelligent trick to silence those within the vegan community who challenge us to reject other oppressions is a betrayal.

The Facebook posts that I address here reveals the level of misogyny present in our society. When we spoke out against rape jokes we were personally attacked. When we stood our ground we were dismissed as people incapable of anything but anger. The rape jokes were violent and forwarded oppression. They were based in misogyny that has become so common and veiled in our society it often goes unnoticed—to the point where a group of people comfortably banter on a Facebook page about how funny rape can be.  Nothing said to combat this violence was out of anger. It was out of compassion for victims of sexual assault and a hope for a society, or at least a vegan community, that rejects violence on all levels.


[1] World Health Report Fact Sheet on Sexual Violence, 2002; cited by the National Sexual Assault Resource Center.

[2] Finkelhor, David, et al. “Sexual Abuse in a National Survey of Adult Men and Women: Prevalence, Characteristics and Risk Factors,” Child Abuse and Neglect, 1990; cited by the National Sexual Assault Resource Center.

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47 Comments leave one →
  1. Lord Have Mercy permalink
    September 13, 2010 5:52 pm

    ” Vegans have no business enforcing stereotypical social norms”. Vegans can do whatever the fuck they want. Now go make me a vegan sandwich, bitch.

    • September 13, 2010 7:16 pm

      LHM, since you’ve chosen a pseudo-Christian point of reference, here’s a pseudo-Christian sentiment: “You can’t shake the devil’s hand and say you were only kidding.” (“Your Racist Friend” by They Might Be Giants.) Some “jokes” just aren’t funny, never will be, and just serve to marginalize those who make them.

    • Chanel permalink
      September 15, 2010 8:50 am

      Dude, you’re stupid, vegans can do whatever they want, but making rape jokes? Seriously, and you’re gonna call Vegina a bitch? WOW! I’m gonna find you and I’m gonna make you want to beg me to forgive you for calling her a bitch, you damned insecure scumbag. Vegina!? Who is this “BITCH” ????

    • Chanel permalink
      September 15, 2010 8:52 am

      Oh and one more thing for this idiot…

      He’s so pathetic….. I hope I run into this fool so I can shove dog shit in his mouth..

      • September 15, 2010 12:16 pm

        I was equally disturbed by your response CHANEL. Is it smart to respond to vulgarity with more vulgarity, suggested violence with more suggested violence? I was molested as a girl, and I hold no one accountable for what may trigger that memory. I’m a survivor, and humor, even humor that is found vulgar by some has helped me keep my wits about myself and life in general! This just seems to be an attention seeking post and a need for validation, why else would you go on someone else’s page, carbon copy the conversation (feed) and vow to exploit people whom you don’t even know, and make a blog dedicated to this? In someways, you scare me more than my attacker, because you won’t quit screaming until everyone finally agrees with you (EGO)! Can we agree to disagree on what’s funny and not funny, like what music we enjoy and not enjoy, same for any art or other media without getting all bent out of shape?

    • November 8, 2010 1:32 pm

      I beg your pardon!? What kind of a cave-dwelling, neanderthal, anti-intellectual, sexist would even think a thing like that, much less degrade themselves publicly by writing it!?

      • November 8, 2010 1:34 pm

        PS: That was supposed to be a reply to this goof:

        Lord Have Mercy permalink
        September 13, 2010 5:52 pm

        ” Vegans have no business enforcing stereotypical social norms”. Vegans can do whatever the fuck they want. Now go make me a vegan sandwich, bitch.

  2. Laura permalink
    September 13, 2010 6:07 pm

    Interesting blog, Vegina. Disappointing behavior by vegans, but a good reminder that just because one is vegan, does not necessarily make one sympathetic to all social injustices. However, as vegans, I’m sure these “comedians” have experienced people openly mocking animal abuse. The fact that they relied on the same defensive mechanism of dismissing the feelings of others because they “don’t have a sense of humor,” used by anti-vegans is saddening. Humor can be a useful tool, agreed, but it can also be used to quiet dissenters (classic bullying). Thanks for sharing your experience.

  3. September 14, 2010 1:42 am

    You know, I really read through all of this, and just thought, wow somebody took something that wasn’t meant to be that serious and made it serious! This should of just been brushed over as a joke that was not found funny, but to put this much thought into it, is saddening, and a waste of energy. WE ARE RESPONSIBLE for what pushes our buttons, if we spent so much time worried about what may trigger someone negatively, we couldn’t leave the house! GET A LIFE OUTSIDE OF BEING OFFENDED AND WORRYING ABOUT BEING OFFENDED!

    • September 14, 2010 7:06 am

      Social change has never been made by people who were not offended. Your blog link suggests you are vegan. Why? Is it purely for selfish reasons or does the imprisonment, torture, rape and murder of innocent sentient individuals offend you? I am guessing it is in large part because of the latter. You made a logical compassionate choice because you were offended. Good job. Now stop trying to shut me down becasue I am making the same choice regarding the safety of women. Ugo is dangerous, if asked I will call him out by name in the circles he is in so that others can decide if based on this (and other incidents) he is dangerous.
      The best choices I have ever made I have made becasue I have been offended by injustice. My friends, my career and my lifestyle are all guided by my choice to reject those things I find offensive and to speak out against them. And I am not sitting around in a dark room brooding trying to find things to be angry with as you suggest. The most alive, least”tuned out” people who are unwilling to just muddle through life watching TV and buying shitty stuff to fill voids in their life are people who got offended, rejected the bullshit and decided to have purpose in life. Anyone with a minimal sense of love for others should be offended by the original facebook post to which this blog post refers. Trying to make us feel guilty or stupid for caring is an easy out. If you are not offended by that post, then you fit in well with the rest of the violent, misogynistic, war-loving, animal-killing, racist, homophobic society in which we live. You go hang out with the masses and leave us alone so we can at least support each other.

  4. September 14, 2010 10:17 am

    I’ve been raped and I find this post to be a misdirected attempt to avoid personal issues! No topic should be off limits to humor, as an audience, you have the right to not like the joke, but to harp and protest on it and not move on, shows you’ve got a lot of buttons that can be pushed easily, and makes you rather vulnerable and dilutes your capabilities for an intelligent response, and makes your more susceptible to reacting based on unresolved emotional distress. In fact, if we are truly a society that are working on ourselves, having our buttons pushed, or triggers triggered, is a very good tool to help us locate what areas in our life still need attention. I wish you a beautifully balanced life! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcFryjunIjw

  5. September 14, 2010 1:00 pm


    I laughed!

    I laughed!

    I laughed!

    The point is; humor is selective, you like it, you don’t! I don’t foresee anybody going out after hearing these jokes thinking, “hey, rape isn’t that bad”! Reading your post, you seem to have a profound obsession, fixated and somewhat stalker-ish (thereby emulating some of the traits of a rapists!)

  6. Daren Edward permalink
    September 14, 2010 7:37 pm

    Vegina,

    I don’t really care about what women think, period. They have way more rights than any non-human animal. Women get treated pretty damn well if you ask me. They get priority at dance clubs, they aren’t expected to pay for anything when going on dates, they are allowed more room in the bitch departement due to the whole PMS thing. It isn’t even like women are the only sex who get raped. Plenty of men get raped as well.

    If you get offended by a stupid rape joke, I have a few stupid priest/child molestation, AIDS, cancer, racist, incest, dead baby, religious and various tradgedy jokes for you. I’m sure all of those would offend you as well. This means you’re easily offended. This means you probably can’t hang in the locker room. I would never want you for an employee because you would probably sue me the first time anyone said anything that got your panties ruffled. You’re amusing but you clearly sound like a major bummer and possibly a pain in the ass. You are no fun.

    • Lisa Goetz permalink
      September 14, 2010 9:23 pm

      Darren,

      Your comments are so ridiculous they make me wonder if you are a troll. Your description of a woman sounds like a bad cliche you’ve developed from watching too many sitcoms. Although, I guess if you “don’t really care about what women think”, that would explain why you don’t have much experience with what real women are like. Also, if you actually read the post, you’d know that Vegina addressed the fact that men are also sexually abused.

      That said, I’m not really sure what you were going for with your first paragraph? Trying to say that women have it better than animals, so having to deal with rape isn’t a big deal? It seems like that’s what you were trying to say, but I am asking because this doesn’t sound like a statement any sane person would make.

      I mean, seriously.. “you are offended by sexual violence which means you are offended by EVERYTHING and are automatically no fun!” Come on, dude. Your whole post reminds me of people we protest whom, after being informed of animal abuse, tell us about some horrible thing that happened to them and ask why we’re not concerned. e.g. “That elephant has cancer? So do I! I bet you don’t care about that, do you?” As an animal activist, you should know better than anyone that there is no limit to compassion, it’s not an “all or nothing” or “one or the other” deal.

  7. againstrapehumor permalink
    September 14, 2010 9:03 pm

    I find this post’s analysis and critique of the perversity still found within the vegan community profound. Before now, I could not have imagined the depths of the diseased hatred for women rampant among this so-called compassionate crowd. The shocking responses posted here bring to mind an essay Derrick Jensen wrote in 2000. He labeled rape “an everyday atrocity.” He continued, “Rape isn’t considered a hate crime because any hatred that has been felt long enough and deeply enough no longer feels like hatred, it just feels normal.” And that’s what we see here: folks who have been normalized to rape and rape “humor.” To end with Jensen, who said it so well, “When enough of us become uncomfortable with the fact that men attempt to rape nearly half of all women–I mean really uncomfortable with it–when enough of us flip out every time we hear of another rape, as we rightly flipped out at James Byrd, Jr.’s dragging death, only then will this everyday atrocity stop being everyday.

  8. moses seenarine permalink
    September 14, 2010 9:04 pm

    how do you explain vegan males’ sensitivity to meat jokes, and insensitivity to female victims of male violence? vegan men may be prepared to give up animal exploitation, but they are most certainly not about to give up patriarchal privilege; sexism is part of patriarchal specieism – animals are more easily exploited precisely because they are equated with feminine traits; animal rights and women’s rights are closely interrelated; you can’t understand one without the other; the men in this movement are no different from those in the regular population when it comes to examining male privilege, extremely relultant because its in their self interest not to do so; if you’re flippant about women’s issues, you’re can’t be an animal rights activist since women are animals; men are full of unexamined contradictions (because they don’t have to care) and vegan men are just misogynists who eat better

  9. September 14, 2010 9:05 pm

    I am a very typical man, I am not very PC in my speech and language, and I know we are going though a trend of ironic, saucy, and offensive speech being viewed as congruent with wit, but I will ask everyone out there who has ever made an exception for speech like this to not do so.

    No one should be complacent with speech like this. If your male privilege or privilege in general does not have you in a place where you can relate to why someone could be upset by this then still challenge it anyway. Simply because this language is painful for some, and that some is important.

  10. Susan permalink
    September 14, 2010 9:24 pm

    “I somehow felt even more violated that this conversation came from within the vegan community.”

    I don’t think there’s any “somehow” about it; it is very clear why this affected you. You want to feel nurtured within the vegan community, not ostracized. You are justified in taking offense, and it is right to criticize when criticism is needed.

    There’s a “but” coming…but we err gravely when we look at vegans as representing the [i]ne plus ultra[i] of ethical behavior. Vegans are human and imperfect; it would be wrong to assume that vegans should have no need for further evolution. In fact I see quite the opposite – often veganism seems to be simply a starting point for growth, not an end point; a “baseline” some have called it.

    Nor are vegans a monolithic group. There are political conservatives and progressives, theists and non-theists, young and old, educated and uneducated, rich and poor, racist and not, sexist and not, homophobic and not. In fact the movement becomes more and more diverse as it grows.

    I’m often offended by political comments made by vegans. I regularly hear insults directed at the working class, and pro-war jingoism. It bothers me greatly and I admit it reduces my opinion of the person making those statements. So I find I have to remind myself that it’s unfair to expect vegans to meet a higher standard than I may have for the rest of the country or humanity.

  11. Daryl Seybold permalink
    September 14, 2010 9:51 pm

    Afro-American’s have demanded the world, including it’s members, quit using the N-word since it carries such negative conotations. I dare you, as a white man to use the word nigger as a joke in a room full of Afro-American people. We, as women, are asking you to quit using the word and topic of rape. It has negative conotations to us.

  12. moses seenarine permalink
    September 14, 2010 10:00 pm

    why is eliminating sexism a higher standard? is racism a higher standard also? if it is, then it’s not part of the movement i’m working on; it’s the freaking 21st century; we can and must demand a higher standard from ourselves and others; we have to solve issues regarding human rights if we’re ever going to get anywhere with animal rights; otherwise, we’re going in circles, and we’ll be led by the worst elements – racist, sexist, homophobic white men; wait a minute, i think we’re already there! thank earth for feminists who are resisting, who are saying this is not the movement we want to build and be a part of; the animal rights movement has always been a feminists movement, led and supported by women; now, vegan men have quickly co-opted the movement and have reinstated patriarchy in a once safe space for women; if vegan women don’t resist in a committed way, they’ll just get sidelined and abused as usual

  13. Todd Lee permalink
    September 14, 2010 10:32 pm

    Vegina,
    First off, thank you for turning such thoughtless comments made by some very immature and childish people, into a well written and thought provoking post. I’ve always been amazed at how far people are willing to go under the guise of “humor.” It’s one thing to joke to your friends in person, it’s completely different to do so on a social networking site like Facebook for likely hundreds of people to read. Especially when, as you mentioned, it’s a statistical certainty that several (if not many) of the individuals reading it have been victims of sexual assault.
    I’m sorry for the attacks that the vegan community, my community, have thrown your way on fb and here also. While people can (and will) say what they want, I appreciate you turning their actions into lessons that help us realize where we are as a community, and how far we still need to go. It’s unfortunate that while there are many billions of animals being tortured in factory farms, some in the community are using their time and energy to argue that rape jokes are ok, and that others (like myself) are using our time and energy to defend what I assumed was common sense; these “jokes” have the capacity to elicit emotionally horrific and hurtful memories. I, and judging by some of the above posts, many others, think that this should be reason enough to show some self restraint.

  14. moses seenarine permalink
    September 14, 2010 10:43 pm

    here’s a recent interaction i had on facebook with Daniel Manahan, who befriended me a week ago; i posted a link on my wall to an article about the whitewashing of an african american actress

    http://colorlines.com/archives/2010/09/gabourey_sidibe_on_the_cover_of_elle.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+racewireblog+%28ColorLines%29&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher

    daniel made comments about the woman weight, “corpsemunching,” her unattractiveness, etc.
    i said:

    “i posted this to highlight the racism; as a man, i personally refrain from making judgments regarding women’s bodies; i don’t have the biology or psychology, so i’m simply not qualified; commenting on a woman’s appearance can easily be construed as sexism…”

    daniel defriends me and makes this comment:

    “so I will get bumped? dude when I see you in person we will have a very private conversation. you like to embarass people publically. that was personal, and I take offense to your comment. we will see. you fuckin jerk.”

    is he making a threat? should i call the police? the men in this movement are fucking out of control!!!!!!

  15. Melissa Schwartz permalink
    September 14, 2010 11:11 pm

    Guys, I understand the desire for shock value and being over the top on occasion – and inside jokes and all, but here is the problem: whether or not you mean to be hurtful to anyone with your jokes, you are being hurtful. A fat joke falls differently on the ears of an overweight person. A rape joke sounds different to someone who has been raped… Are you guys vegan? Does it hurt you whe you hear jokes about eating farm animals? It hurts me. Because I KNOW the pain and suffering related to eating animals. I hear that joke and I see visions of death and sadness and destruction and then I see ppl laughing and smiling and making light of tremendous pain. It does hurt me. So anyway, pls just be aware of how what you do and say effects others.

    • ben permalink
      September 15, 2010 7:43 am

      so are you saying we should refrain from taking any and all actions which may somehow be found offensive to someone else? If that was the case we’d hardly be able to open our mouths at all. I am very aware of how my actions may affect others. However, I can not be responsible for their feeling or reactions, and if some one finds me offensive they can choose not to listen. This world would be a much better place if people were more concerned with the things they themselves said and did, rather that what everybody else is saying and doing.

      You may ask yourself, if I live be these principles and I can assure you that I do. At the end of the day the ONLY things that I judge my self by are the words I’ve spoken and the actions I’ve taken that day. So why don’t we let the people who made this video wrestle with their own self judgment, and why don’t we worry about us. If you find rape humor offensive, don’t partake in it. However, we should not condemn others, lest we be condemned for the likely possibility of having offended someone else ourselves.

      • September 15, 2010 11:52 am

        ben, there is a problem with your logic. If you believe what you say then you think that eating and wearing animals, using children for labor, making racist jokes and a whole host of other things are merely lifestyle choices that a “tolerant” person accepts. You say you are a consistent thinker, so maybe you do think racism and sexism and gay-bashing is okay. I am tolerant of all life which is why I don’t sit idly by a if group of people/animals are degraded or threatened in order to preserve heterosexual, white, male privilege.

      • Ben permalink
        September 15, 2010 4:23 pm

        This all boils down to sticks and stones. Words are words. i will stand up against oppression, believe that. But I will not condemn another for his words alone. And don’t even tell me next that videos like this open the door to oppression because they cause sensitive people to have low self esteem tor some other such emotional ailment which in turn reduces their ability to fufil their potential in society. At some point people have to be accountable for their own actions and their own feelings regardless of the words and actions of others. THAT is the essence of true empowerment. I myself REFUSE to wait for other people to “be nice” rather I choose to take charge of my life and determine my fate for myself REGARDLESS of circumstance. But I suppose that option is only available to “privileged white males…”

        PS to quote one of my favorite movies, ” there is no fate but what we make…”

      • Melissa Schwartz permalink
        September 15, 2010 11:47 pm

        Ben, in some ways I agree with you. But I believe both things are true. We should be mindful of what we say in an attempt not to hurt others (words are just words-true-but they also are powerful) and also we need to take care of ourselves and not let everything others say hurt us.

  16. September 15, 2010 2:19 am

    Thank you Vegina.
    When vegan men make jokes about sexual assault they are demonstrating how they do not even understand the interrelatedness of all oppression. I would imagine they are not vegan…they merely only abstain from eating or wearing animals.
    The fact that Vegina points out that the comments are painful is enough to have them reflect on how this might be truth for some else.
    There is obviously a huge disconnect happening here with these failed satirists that they cannot understand the word “no”. What part of no do they not understand? No, this is not funny. No, this is not just… a metaphor either.
    Reading the comments from the post, there is without doubt a sort of rapist ethics involved in the attempted humor made by these men who act out in this way in order to re-create their own certainty… that they are somehow real men and that this is also not harmful. A women asking them to stop is obviously triggering their own misogyny and anger.
    They also seemed to be confused about their own gender identity and what it means to be a man.
    It happens obviously not just in the vegan community but wherever men are who have become or continue to be disconnected from others feelings and from their own feelings as well. Which, sad to say, is pretty much everywhere.
    There is nothing vegan or funny about rape jokes.

  17. ben permalink
    September 15, 2010 7:24 am

    the guy in this video, Mr. Dodson, and his sister who actually was raped, consented to the making of this video and also get a share of profits that are made by selling t-shirts and other paraphernalia associated with the video. If she agrees, I don’t see what is wrong with it. I joke about some eff’d up stuff that has happened to me, and it’s kind of like therapy, in so far as it helps me deal with the past in order to get in with the present.

    Regardless of all that and back to my first point this video is actually doing Mr. Dodson and his family some good. It may even be their ticet out of the projects according to this article on the NY Times Website:

    http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/19/bed-intruder-rant-buys-family-a-new-home/

    I say if this family can take such a horrifyingly negative event and use it to better there lives then more power to ’em. They have chosen to take control and refuse to be victims in a situation they had no control over and that, is not only commendable, but admirable as well.

    • ben permalink
      September 15, 2010 8:00 am

      Let my correct my statement about the girl whom I said “was raped” to say that she was assaulted and not actually raped, for the sake of accuracy.

      • September 15, 2010 11:54 am

        As I am always pointing out, multiple oppressions exist at once. People with money would be less likely to publish this video, but Mr. Dodson had a smaller realm of choices than someone with money when he made his decision.

  18. moses seenarine permalink
    September 15, 2010 8:53 am

    more on the daniel manahan drama:

    i emailed him the following:

    “i’m calling the cops on you!

    you requested to be my friend on facebook, not i; i never made a comment on your wall but you had the nerve to write a bunch of sexist crap on my wall; and i’m supposed to just accept your sexist garbage? who the hell do you think you are?

    dude, if you ever see me, you better look the other way and don’t even think of approaching me or i’m calling 911; damn male fool”

    —————————————————————————————————————-

    daniel manahan replies:

    Do you want my address too? Don’t make threats you can’t back up.

    Call the cops. I said I would have a very private conversation with you. Have a problem with that? I go on record that I will have a private conversation with you. You want to make that into a threat? It is not is is a rational and mature way to deal with issues, not publically embarrassing people.

    Bring the cops to my home and we can have the conversation you fucking jerk.

    I am documenting this harassment. You emailed me after I blocked you on facebook. No more emails.

    And I will subpoena any records of false accusations you are making to law enforcement in my law suite against your slander. It is a serious allegation to make public claims of someone being sexist or any other non substantiated claims.

    I am warning you, everything you do and say will be held against you. And this includes any conversations you have with common friends slandering me.

    I really hope you can back up these claims when law enforcement comes to your aid after I threatened you with a polite conversation.

    You want to know who I am? I am a college professor that doesn’t take lightly slander. And believes in avoiding confrontations by keeping nonsense immature behavior to a minimum. Proceed with caution, your actions will be documented.

    —————————————————————————————————————-

    ah, the joys of white male privileged; first you threaten others with physical violence and when they try to respond, you threaten them with legal action… and this guy’s a professor! what about all the other “less educated” jerks out there?

    • Ben permalink
      September 15, 2010 9:03 am

      White male privilege?! I really wish we as a society could be color blind. I dont even know what you are arguing about but race/sex based judgement is racist/sexist for better or worse. And trust me dude you aren’t going to cure racism with more racism.

      • moses seenarine permalink
        September 15, 2010 9:12 am

        how does me calling someone out for being racist/sexist make me the same? you mean if i wasn’t sexist/racist myself, then i wouldn’t even have bothered with someone else’s sexism/racism? so only if i accommodate abuse am i free from racism/sexism? my sensitivity to injustice is proof of my own? what’s your logic here, if any?

      • Ben permalink
        September 15, 2010 11:10 am

        You could have attributed the man’s attitude to his privileged background. It has nothing to do with his being white or male. i’m simply stating that singling out someone on a race or sex basis is the definition of sexism and racism, is it not?

  19. moses seenarine permalink
    September 15, 2010 12:28 pm

    it was more than that; he was grandstanding, using animal rights to make borderline sexist and racist comments; he deleted them…

  20. September 15, 2010 1:15 pm

    IF ANYONE IS INTERESTED, SAMANTHA ROBINSON, DAREN EDWARD, KELLY, JULIE BERGMAN, AND MELISSA MAHONEY ARE ALL NAMES ORIGINATING FROM ONE USER. As the moderator I can tell from where posts originate, and all of these come from the same computer. THIS IS A TROLL. I will leave these comments up since they have generated discussion, but may decide to remove them at a later date if they continue. I believe this is “Ugo.”

  21. September 15, 2010 2:14 pm

    I am shocked that others fail to see that rape jokes are problematic. Rape is symptomatic of larger social problems: oppression, disparities in power, and structural inequalities. Humor simply trivializes rape, delegitimizes survivors, and diminishes the seriousness of the crime. Rape is not a laughing matter and rape humor should not be accepted in any community, vegan or otherwise.

    Thank you Vegina, for enlightening readers and taking what I am surprised to see is an unpopular stance on the matter.

  22. September 15, 2010 7:23 pm

    I left FB after a male “friend” (vegetarian too, not that it is relevant) became increasingly interested in a 13yr old friend of mine. I warned people about his interested but they don’t care. My privacy settings were set so no one could see my friends, but if they comment on something I post, there is no privacy. I believe there is something about the format of facebook that seems to attract strange and / or sick people. There has been a lot of this happening in the online vegan / Animal Rights community, especially on facebook. Perhaps it is one person, perhaps it is an organized campaign to harass AR people. Who knows.

  23. September 15, 2010 7:25 pm

    There’s a Zen koan, or parable, that goes like this:

    An old monk sat in meditation with his eyes closed, his legs crossed and his hands folded in his lap. Suddenly his meditation was interrupted by the harsh voice of a samurai warrior. “Old man! Teach me about heaven and hell!”

    “You wish to know the secrets of heaven and hell?” replied the monk. “You who are so unkempt. You whose hands and feet are covered with dirt. You whose hair is uncombed, whose breath is foul. You would ask me of heaven and hell?”

    The samurai uttered a vile curse. He drew his sword and raised it high over his head. His face turned to crimson, and the veins of his neck stood out in bold relief as he prepared to sever the monk’s head from its shoulders.

    “That is hell,” said the old monk gently, just as the sword began its descent. In that fraction of a second, the samurai was overcome with amazement, awe, compassion and love for this gentle being who had dared to risk his very life to give him such a teaching. He stopped his sword in mid-flight and his eyes filled with grateful tears.

    “And that,” said the monk, “is heaven.”

    ————————————————————–

    It’s surprising to see how acrimonious this blog exchange has become. In a movement that purports to embrace compassion and nonviolence toward all sentient beings, it seems we often forget that words, like acts, can be violent and can incite people to violent acts.

    Inappropriate jokes are just one way that violent words can lead to violent acts. Profanity, name-calling, and threats of physical violence can have the same effect. And even when they don’t lead to violent acts, words of violence divide us, marginalize us, diminish our credibility and lessen our effectiveness as advocates.

    I’d like to suggest that as we do with our diet and lifestyle, vegans should hold ourselves to a higher standard when we engage verbally. Let’s omit violence from our vocabulary, just as we omit it from other aspects of our lives. In other words, let’s engage on the merits of an issue, rather than through personal attacks, name-calling, baiting, and other offensive techniques.

    And when someone engages with us in this manner, let’s try to ignore it, forgive them, and educate them. Isn’t that the true meaning of compassion?

  24. Julz permalink
    September 16, 2010 1:45 pm

    Vegina,
    Like you, I am baffled by the blatant display of sexism and misogyny in our community. I tend to hold vegans to a higher standard as well. And I do know many highly evolved male vegans, so it’s disappointing to see that this is not true for all of them.
    The original rape joke looks like the ramblings of a deranged person to me, which actually makes me wonder if this person has some sort of personality disorder.
    I take issue mostly with the fact that people stepped up to defend the jokes with thoughtless comments along the lines of “lighten up” and “learn how to laugh”. Patronizing and belittling somebody like this is never okay in my books, no matter what the context is or how much one disagrees with the person who felt offended by something. It is hurtful and ignorant.
    And yes, as vegans especially, we should know better than to belittle and mock others because I’m sure we’ve all fallen victim to this kind of treatment by people who think we’re “too sensitive” for caring about the way animals are treated.
    I felt further sickened when reading the word “fembot”. Feminism is NOT a dirty word, and using it as such is nothing short of misogyny.
    It is frustrating to see how much work is still ahead of us (as vegans and feminists), so I am extremely grateful for people like you who speak up. Thanks for this blog and for everything else that you do.

  25. Jaya permalink
    September 16, 2010 5:30 pm

    Carol, I back you 100%. As a master’s in psychology I can appreciate the value of humor as a coping tool, but the banter reflected in this conversation is not productive. In addition, just because one person who has experienced rape might find dealing with it through humor therapeutic, others may find it to be like pouring salt in an open wound. I don’t now how anyone can defend the right to laugh about such an egregious and traumatic violation outside the context of healing.

  26. Sarah permalink
    September 18, 2010 1:04 pm

    This makes me angry. I can’t believe this kind of behavior would occur among animal rights activist. However, I guess I should not be surprised. That said we need to do everything we can to change this and expel this type of behavior. I agree that as activists we should hold ourselves to a higher standard.

  27. September 23, 2010 8:39 am

    I am equally surprised that this was a group of vegans having this “discussion”.

    It is really telling how deeply these prejudices go that, even on a blog dedicated to rational and fertile discussion about oppression and such issues, the comment section was initially uncivil.

    I think there are a few interesting points that were made in the facebook comments that I suffered through:

    1) Humor for the sake of coping;

    2) The relationship between free speech and political correctness; and

    3) The notion in the vegan community of an assumed moral superiority that creates a complex in which vegans cannot conceive of others finding them to be behaving unethically. Upon confrontation, they behave just like any other misogynist or complicit oppressor in society by resorting to write-offs or labels such as “bitch”.

    To address the first point, humor is a great tool to cope. However, if it is a potential trigger for others, maybe you should consider keeping it within confines of approved company. Perhaps this is what the original comments were meant to be, but clearly facebook walls are open spaces. It’s the equivalent of making rape jokes on a bench in a crowded park–people WILL overhear it, even if it is meant for private company. Facebook is a public space, simple as that.

    The second point is that the notions of free speech and political correctness are being confused. As I understand it, you have the right to express yourself publicly without government censor in most situations. However, this does not mean that citizens have to let you spew whatever filth you want uncontested. In fact, because of our right to free speech, we are encouraged to disagree vehemently and shut you out if private citizens, not public officials, deem you to be offensive and erroneous.

    Furthermore, political correctness has never actually made an appearance here. Political correctness is when an a political or governmental regime makes a declaration that all peoples under said government are to abide to under penalty of law. If Mao said sun shines out of his ass, then by Tien it did! In the US, we could argue that Hate Speech is a form of politically correct regulation that limit free speech, but that is not what happened here.

    People simply found what was said offensive and spoke up. It’s what should happen and no rights are violated. Nor were any NAZIs involved, thank god.

    The third point I have to say is a little surprising but not uncommon. People become vegan for many different reasons and usually feel they have made such a grand commitment that it must be worth a whole lot. They develop a psychological attachment to their moral superiority and don’t suffer any criticism or attacks on their newly inflated ego. To tell a vegan he or she is immoral is to risk conflagration. Tactically speaking, questioning and asking might be a better method to resolve any immoral behavior or thought that they engage in, such as anti-women and anti-obese aggression.

    We can see that whoever said these vegans using the term “bitch” are no better than anyone other misogynist was correct. However, it should be said that society is culpable and attacking them over it rather than creating a dialog is unlikely to change them. For the enlightened–not necessarily me–it is crucial to go about enlightening others in the most effective way; that is, don’t accuse them of things and e-shout.

    Last thing I have to say:

    I think people who laugh about things and make jokes do so because they are too nervous or afraid to speak of these things plainly. It’s hard to blame them, considering the society they have grown up in. When confronted with awkward and painful subjects, humor becomes more than a coping mechanism–it becomes an avoidance mechanism. Please be careful with this. It is destructive.

    • September 23, 2010 8:40 am

      ***Sharp inhale***

    • September 28, 2010 8:45 pm

      LB, Thank you for such a well thought out response. I think I may agree with the idea that “society is culpable and attacking them over it rather than creating a dialog is unlikely to change them.” I struggle with this idea a lot, because as much as it makes since, presenting facts, working toward legislative changes and calmly asking and discussing issues has not produced racial, sexual, gender, economic or species equality. *sigh*

      • September 29, 2010 5:31 am

        That’s true but think about how little time has been spent on the issue historically. With other moral issues, we may have trying to change them for thousands of years before any progress was made.

        Slavery, for instance, is still a booming world industry. In most countries, women still have no rights (I’m not telling you anything you don’t know I bet). And parents still beat their children and use them for labor all over the world, including “developed countries”.

        Sometimes I get really down about how little progress is made; looking at the stakes, bonded nonhuman animals being tortured and murdered, it is hard not to be negative. However, progress is made and at probably a speedier pace than many other social causes.

        Your blog is a great place for this dialog, so I will continue to post and discuss here. Thanks!

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