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Opinion: When rape jokes aren't funny
Daniel Tosh was free to say what he said about rape, but that doesn't mean it wasn't morally repugnant, the writers say.
July 16th, 2012
05:00 PM ET

Opinion: When rape jokes aren't funny

Editor's note: Julie Burton is president of the Women's Media Center. Michelle Kinsey Bruns is online manager for the Women's Media Center. Both are longtime feminist activists and organizers.

By Julie Burton and Michelle Kinsey Bruns

(CNN) – When the comedian Daniel Tosh reportedly singled out a woman in his audience and suggested, according to a blog post that recounted the incident, it would be "funny" if she "got raped by, like, five guys, right now," the online reaction was swift, heated and often split down gender lines. Many men wanted to explain free speech or heckling etiquette. Many women (and virtually all feminists) said these topics were distractions, at best, from the sheer offensiveness of Tosh's attack.

As we at the Women's Media Center watched hundreds of users comment on our Facebook post about the incident, we saw the same disconnect.

Quite a few of the women who shared our post said they were doing so in hopes that a husband or boyfriend would "finally understand why I won't watch Tosh's show with him." Some even tagged their husbands or boyfriends, to be sure the message would reach its destination.

The problem isn't a failure of men to see rape as horrific. It's that many of them do not perceive that rape itself lies on the far end of a broad spectrum of ways in which the idea of rape, the invocation of rape or the threat of rape is used to intimidate women or to regulate their behavior.

When women are told that they shouldn't drink too much or walk alone at night or wear a revealing top, they are being given a guided tour of the boundaries of acceptable female conduct. Women are supposed to understand that these boundaries are policed by rapists. We cross the line at our own risk. And if we are caught, the brutal punishment is one we have earned.

Read Julie Burton and Michelle Kinsey Bruns' full column

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Filed under: Gender • Pop culture • What we think • Women
FAMU president's resignation effective immediately
Florida A&M University President James H. Ammons went into effect Monday, seven months after a hazed drum major died.
July 16th, 2012
01:59 PM ET

FAMU president's resignation effective immediately

By George Howell, CNN

(CNN) – The Florida A&M University president's resignation went into effect Monday after the school's board of trustees accepted his request to step down from the job immediately.

President James Ammons originally said in a resignation letter that he would retire in October.

His departure comes more than seven months after a drum major for the university band died following a hazing incident. Robert Champion, 26, died after being beaten during a hazing ritual on a band bus after a football game in Orlando, Florida.

Champion's family said last week that "the rampant culture of hazing found at FAMU would not and could not be eradicated without some major housecleaning of those who turned a blind eye to the problem."

Ammons waived a 90-day notice of resignation Monday that would have kept him on staff through October.

In June, the trustees passed a no-confidence motion in Ammons' performance by an 8-4 vote.

Read the full post

The woman who stood up to Joe Paterno
As the vice president who oversaw student discipline at Penn State, Triponey often clashed with head coach Joe Paterno over who should discipline football players.
July 16th, 2012
11:17 AM ET

The woman who stood up to Joe Paterno

By Ann O'Neill, CNN

(CNN) – Vicky Triponey knows all too well the power Penn State's late football coach, Joe Paterno, held for more than half a century over the insular slice of central Pennsylvania that calls itself Happy Valley.

She experienced firsthand the clubby, jock-snapping culture, the sense of entitlement, the cloistered existence. It's what drove her five years ago from her job as the vice president who oversaw student discipline.

She was told she was too aggressive, too confrontational, that she wasn't fitting in with "the Penn State way."

She clashed often with Paterno over who should discipline football players when they got into trouble. The conflict with such an iconic figure made her very unpopular around campus. For a while, it cost Triponey her peace of mind and her good name. It almost ended her 30-year academic career.

Another person might have felt vindicated, smug or self-righteous when former FBI Director Louis Freeh delivered the scathing report on his eight-month investigation of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal. But Triponey sensed only a deep sadness.

Read the full post

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Filed under: Sports • Who we are • Women
July 16th, 2012
08:00 AM ET

With surging numbers, Asian-Americans look for congressional gains

By Jeffrey Stein, CNN

(CNN) – Three times as many Asian-Americans have been running for Congress in 2012 than in the past two elections, a nonpartisan political group says, and it's a development that portends greater changes in demographic trends and reflects the recent political awakening of a minority group long confined to the margins of American society.

"It's extremely exciting," says Gloria Chan, president and CEO of the Asian Pacific Institute for Congressional Studies. "We could really stand to gain seats and affect the balance of power in Congress."

Including Pacific Islanders, 30 Asian-Americans launched campaigns for Congress this year, compared with 10 in 2010 and eight in 2008, according to an APICS count.

Though several of the Asian-American candidates lost their primaries, others stand to become the first people of Asian descent in their respective states - New York, Tennessee and Florida, for instance - to join the legislative body.

Read the full post


Filed under: 2012 Election • Asian in America • History • Politics • Who we are