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Just Say No to Rape and Violence Against Women!!

Rape Flyer - Print Out To Use

Print this poster to display in men's rooms of your school!
Right click and then print (choose landscape).

Video of UCF Professor Dr. Jennifer Lisa Vest reading her poem on rape at the 2011 Take Back the Night

Rape: A State of Emergency

Her Blog

This wonderful and powerful poem transcribed and soon to be published in Women's Studies: An Inter-disciplinary Journal (follow this link)

New York Times article on Rapes in India

It is a deeply ingrained attitude that has made New Delhi, by almost any measure, the most dangerous large city in India for women. The rate of reported rape is nearly triple that of Mumbai, and 10 times as high as Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, according to government records.


An Open Letter From The  NOW SE Region National  Delegate and Past Florida State President
Toni Van Pelt,

Wednesday, August 11, 1999

An Open Letter to Rod Smith, the University of Florida and the Gainesville Business Community

Just Say No to Rape and Violence Against Women!!

Rape is clearly a gender crime and a hate crime against women. The most recent example of this is the abysmal treatment of Lisa Grier at the University of Florida in Gainesville. [The Delta Chi Rape Allegation]

Women are oppressed into submission by fundamental religious demands and church "teachings", from a very early age. Religious based dogma teaches men and women that women are owned by men and must do whatever men decree. We are socialized, as women, to be sexually "available", on demand, for men from our births. Women are eternally referred to as "girls", a language reminder that they never reach adulthood. The advertising industry portrays even young infant girls as sexual offerings in submissive positions to "dominant" infant males. Women are taught to be "lady-like", with eyes down on the ground, an obvious advantage for the male rapist.

The male gender is taught that it is privileged. They claim women and girls of their enemies as prizes of war, to rape, mutilate and murder for their amusement. This same mentality is used to motivate male players out on the sports fields of our nation, the most glaring example is, of course, football. The male gender believes they are animal like in their lack of control over the desire and demands of their penis. Therefore they are not responsible for their "sexual urges". These urges are "natural" and men have "every right" to satisfy their "sexual appetites." They are encouraged by pornographic magazines, advertisements and film, now available for easy viewing on computers , to have "rape fantasies". These "men" dehumanize women as sexual objects and play toys. When speaking of women they use language to further dehumanize women, when they refer to women as "options", chicks, trophies, etc.

In the United States most women and girls are taught by our patriarchal culture to be "dependent" upon using their bodies and, by extension men, to "earn" a living. They are offered a variety of ways to accomplish this. They can use their "wiles" to lure or entice with their "sex", a man to marry them. The deal is as long as the woman is obedient and accessible, the man will financially support her for the rest of her life. This is "the good girl" way of earning a living. Women in this role are referred to as madonnas, nurturers, good mothers, etc.

The other acceptable career path available for women under the patriarchal model is the one in which she sells her body to support herself. She can pose in sexually explicit postures with or without clothing, exhibiting her body for the TV and movie industry, the marketing industry, the beauty industry, the pornographic industry and the sex industry, to name a few, to make money. This is "the bad girl" path. Women in these professions are referred to as "models, professional cheer leaders, prostitutes, sex dancers", etc.

Under the patriarchal paradigm there is no such thing as rape. Women are not "allowed" to scream "NO". The good girl must always submit and be obedient and the bad girl gets what she deserves and has been asking for all along.

From feminist women's and men's point of view, even though women do not have equal protections and remedies under the law of the nation, the female gender is "equal" in our society. Women are born with free will, in a country that was founded on freedom. Women are taught that they should be able to earn a living using their minds. We are told, "One day, who knows, even a woman could be President of the United States." We are raised to believe we are human beings, with full rights, autonomy and responsibilities. This model promotes women's education, independence and respect. Feminism advocates women entering careers that expand their minds. Many of us become attorneys, doctors, scientists, etc.

Since women are traditionally discriminated against by the business sector with lower wages than men for equal work and they internalize their oppression, it is reasonable for some women to choose a path of earning more money using their bodies. This does not mean they are "available for sex on demand", any more than the young girls and older women who are victims of male rape violence. Most women believe that they have the right to decide when and how they have sex. No matter what career path women choose, we do not give up our rights as human beings. In other words, women, in the feminist culture, don't believe they are responsible for the act of male, macho rape. We believe men are responsible for their violent actions.

Following the patriarchal model, when men do rape it becomes the burden of others to protect them. The business community, in the case of the most recent, alleged University of Florida, fraternity gang rape, the college and the town of Gainesville, itself, have a vest interested in keeping the alleged crimes hidden from public view. After all, in the contorted reasoning of this culture, even though rape is a male privilege, since women protest rape and violence, and make demands for their right to be safe, they may not buy an education from this community and that would hurt business. And, of course, the most important thing is the bottom line.... not human beings, but how much money can be made or lost.

As reported by Pam Brooks, a therapist and licensed clinical social worker in Orlando, rape by a male stranger accounts for only about one of five sexual assaults. Most rapes are committed by a male known to and trusted by the female rape victim. The reality is that, although one in four women will be raped in her lifetime, fewer than 10 percent will report the assault. Least likely to report are women sexually assaulted by someone they know. The Family Service Centers of St. Petersburg advises, "SEXUAL ASSAULT CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE AT ANYTIME." Rapists look for someone who is vulnerable"...and available. RAPE IS A CRIME OF VIOLENCE AND CONTROL NOT PASSION."

It is law enforcement's responsibility to enforce laws, to investigate all aspects of a reported crime and to treat all victims of crime with dignity and respect. Clearly this did not happen in the Lisa Grier rape case. The campus police must act immediately and responsibly when calls for help reach them. And it is imperative for the campus police to report these crime investigations to the proper community law enforcement agencies. If they do not, they lay the University open to charges of "Business first." And they are perceived by the most women as accomplices in a cover-up, to protect the college's bottom line. Rape is one of the top concerns of college-age women as demonstrated by the continually focus on exposing the culprits and the rape culture on campus by the National Organization for Women's campus chapters across the nation.

"We must stop permitting it to be socially and politically acceptable to give rapists aid and comfort", according to Alice Vachss, who was identified by PARADE magazine in 1989 as one of the country's toughest prosecutors. Vachss was on the front line of rape prosecutions from 1982-1991 as assistant district attorney in Queens County, N.Y. specializing in sex crimes.

It is the prosecutors' job to build a case and prosecute. Again a complete failure on the part of Rod Smith and his office. When a woman has the moxie to come forward and demand justice, it is important for you, Rod Smith, to demonstrate courage and conviction by building a case to prosecute the allege rapists. Instead of supporting the victim, Lisa Grier, you chose to use your power to cover up and confuse the alleged crimes. Shame on you!

It is the responsibility of the judicial system to incarcerate those individuals found guilty. Instead we have judicial officials in this case, releasing evidence and making a mockery of our justice system. "And after viewing the tapes, judicial officials decided that King's claim of being a rape victim was not prosecutable, and released the tapes to the public. Someone even tried to sell it on the Internet," according to a Gainesville sun staff writer.

Florida NOW is proud of our campus chapter, UF/SFCC NOW and its strong leadership and their allies in shining an unrelenting, bright light on the filth the patriarchal culture in the Gainesville community has tried to sweep under the rug. And we applaud Lisa Grier for having the grit to come forward and demand justice for herself and, by extension, for all women.

We call on Rod Smith, the University of Florida and Gainesville business community to reconize their role and discontinue their participation in the patriarchal culture that denigrates women. We further call on them to find the courage to do everything in their power to....

Just Say NO to Rape and Violence Against Women!!

For Women's Lives,
Toni Van Pelt, President

Toni Van Pelt President
FL National Organization for Women, Inc.