I’m moderating the weekly #medlibs chat tonight on Twitter. Our topic this week is staff training and professional development.
I’ve posted some potential questions for discussion here. I’ll use these as prompts as needed, but discussion will be informal and participants can feel free to raise other related issues on the theme.
See you at 8:00 pm Central time, tag your posts #medlibs.
Update: Here’s the transcript. There are some excellent reminders in there from participants about low cost learning resources. Thanks to everyone who participated!
Ohio pro-choice forces urgently need support.
TOMORROW IN OHIO – The last votes that your lawmakers will cast on the state budget before it is sent to Gov. Kasich. It includes defunding. It includes transfer agreement bans that could close many abortion providers in Ohio. It includes the forced ultrasound amendment they added yesterday. Stand with Ohio women!
From a Facebook event page:
Inspired by Texan Women, please wear RED for Ohio and join us to show Ohio’s Legislature & Governor Kasich that we Stand With Ohio Women beginning at 10 AM Thursday with a Press Conference on the High Street/West entrance side. We’ll then pack the Gallery for what could a long day! (wear comfy shoes!). Spread the word – this is a non-partisan event for ALL of us who believe that Ohio’s Budget should not be the “Abortion Budget”. Demand a VETO on abortion amendments! *** if you can not make it in person, please call Gov Kasich 614-466-3555. Tell him to veto all of the attacks on access to reproductive healthcare! See y’all in Columbus! #StandwOHWomen
Go get ’em, y’all. More love from Nashville.
There are no words but “thank you.” Your stamina and commitment are admirable and inspiring. Whatever we can do to help prepare for July 1, let’s do it.
Pretend all this cheering is my message to you:
Love, from Nashville.
Over at Slate, Rebecca Ruiz has an article, “Why Don’t Cops Believe Rape Victims?” We know that blaming, shaming, and disbelieving victims contributes both to rape victims not reporting to police and rapists being free to continue raping. The Slate article focuses on the ways that rape victims respond to the trauma, and then talks about how increasing scientific understanding of how the brain responds to trauma can be used to convince law enforcement agents that their interpretation of a victim’s flat affect, cloudy memories, and other responses – namely, their assumption that victims are lying – may be incorrect.
Here’s the thing. The articles says the following, which could be Ruiz’s work or that of an editor. I don’t want to demonize Ruiz, just to point out this example of how deeply entrenched blaming rape victims really is:
In the past decade, neurobiology has evolved to explain why victims respond in ways that make it seem like they could be lying, even when they’re not.
What that sentence means is that rape victims act like they’re lying, but with *science!* maybe we can be convinced that they’re not really making it all up.
A better and more accurate approach would have been to say:
Neurobiology partially explains why victims respond how they do. In the context of rape culture, we (including law enforcement) frequently interpret those responses incorrectly and blame/distrust the victim.
With that comparison, see how the first example still puts the blame on the victim? It says to victims, “It’s your fault we don’t believe you, but we understand a bit better now why that’s your fault.” The second says, “We understand better your legitimate responses to trauma. With that knowledge, we can better educate law enforcement and reduce the further trauma of reporting rape, by questioning our rape culture-informed biases.”
In general, the whole idea that we need new neurobiology results in order to stop treating rape victims like liars is problematic. As Ruiz rightly notes, only an estimated 2 to 8 percent of rape accusations are false, while many, many more rapes go either unreported or unprosecuted. Refusal to believe rape victims or pursue rapists is a problem many times bigger than the supposed “problem” of women lying about rape, and it’s part of rape culture to skew that picture.
It’s great if science helps convince cops and judges that the overwhelming majority of people aren’t lying about being raped. But it sure doesn’t sound like needing that science is starting from a legitimate point of believing the victim, collecting the evidence, and following up, does it? After all, there is huge a rape kit backlog where the evidence was simply never processed – Cleveland, OH has started processing kits that are *more than a decade* old – and making convictions. It’s important that cops don’t treat rape victims like they’re lying, of course. It’s highly problematic that it takes results from neurobiology for some of them to even consider it, and makes me wonder if retraining efforts might be better focused on recognizing the full range of their own rape culture-informed biases, rather than explaining aspects of post-trauma brain responses.
Video from the Senate Committee Armed Services heard testimony earlier this week on sexual assault in the military, including military leaders as well as representatives from outside groups. The hearings were aired on C-SPAN, and video is archived on that site for viewing, split into 3 parts.
Panel 1 – Lots of questions to a panel of military leaders – I think all of one of them was a woman. Senator Joe Manchin points out, in response to a leader talking about how change should start at the top and responsibility should stay with Commanders, that the problem has been known for more than 20 years and “it’s almost intolerable that we can continue on the current path by allowing the Commanders to be in charge at the level they are.”
Panel 2 – Senator McCaskill says of the military leaders at about 47 minutes in, “It sounds like you all are very bullish on the status quo.” Then, “The status quo is not acceptable.”
Panel 3 – outside experts, includes representatives from Protect Our Defenders and the Service Women’s Action Network. Includes commentary on how victims have completely lost faith in the military justice system, and were threatened with charges of adultery when reporting rape.