May 17*:Blogger Anita Sarkeesian launches a Kickstarter to raise funds for a video series exploring “common and recurring stereotypes of female characters in video games.” This precipitates an entire summer of threats, including rape and other physical harm, against Sarkeesian herself. The plus side: Sarkeesian’s Kickstarter reaches its $6,000 goal twenty-six times over. (update) The same day, the U.S. Justice Department issues the first comprehensive federal rules to combat prison rape … finally fulfilling an act of Congress passed nine years earlier in response to widespread and substantiated reports of rape in America’s penitentiaries.
May 30: The Awl editor Choire Sicha declares the term “trigger warning” — originally used to label content regarding rape that could evoke strong emotional reactions for victims — has “lost all its meaning” after it was deployed nigh unto death in a long Metafilter thread about a lady who didn’t like her boyfriend’s wedding proposal.
June 1 (update): The VICE Magazine records review section includes Thomas Morton’s review of Grass Widow’s Internal Logic, which mostly critiques the record by mockingly contemplating how great it must be to be a woman. “I guess there’s the whole ‘rape thing’ to deal with, too,” Morton avers, “but let’s not split hairs here: Girls got it pretty fucking made.” The band’s publicist retorts, as does musician Jennifer Moore.
June 11: Tomb Raider developer Crystal Dynamics announces it’s rebooting Lara Croft, fabled game heroine/sex symbol, into a victim “you’ll want to protect.” Among other hazards, she’ll be threatened with rape. The trailer for the new game finds Croft shrieking and weeping as she’s imprisoned, attacked, pursued, captured, and fondled. Game producer Ron Rosenberg: “When you see her have to face these challenges, you start to root for her in a way that you might not root for a male character.” Some male gamers think this is a great idea.
June 22: Jerry Sandusky is convicted of 45 counts of child rape, carried out over 15 years while he was an assistant coach or affiliate of Penn State’s respected football program. Sandusky used his influence at the college to gain access to vulnerable young boys. Two university chiefs are accused of lying to a grand jury to conceal their knowledge of the scandal. Another person who accuses Sandusky of rape, outside the trial: His own adopted son.
June 21: Congresswoman Jackie Speier reports that rapists in the U.S. military have a 92 percent chance of avoiding court martial, even if their crime is reported — and there’s an 86 percent chance it won’t be.
June 22: The Invisible War, Kirby Dick’s documentary about rape in the military, appears in limited release and begins to put faces with those numbers.
July 1: A law takes effect in Virginia requiring transvaginal ultrasound, “an invasive procedure involving insertion of a wand into the patient’s vagina,” before an abortion can be performed. A similar but even stricter law in Texas is already in effect, having dodged court challenges back in spring.
July 12: The Freeh Report on Jerry Sandusky’s crimes and Pennsylvania State University’s responsibility for them concludes: “The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.”
July 22: Air Force Sgt. Luis Walker is sentenced to 22 years in prison for sexually assaulting 10 female trainees he supervised at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. A week later, Tech Sgt. Christopher Smith is court martialed on charges of exploiting his power over another trainee to elicit sex.
August 16: Arguably heroic, possibly creepy Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is granted political asylum by Ecuador while fighting extradition from the UK to Sweden. Swedish authorities sought to arrest Assange on a warrant to face charges of rape alleged by two former Wikileaks volunteers. The question of “what is rape?” under Swedish vs. English vs. United States law is energetically debated.
August 18 (update): In a rare bright spot, Illinois tries to roll back 20 percent funding cuts at its rape crisis centers … by taxing its strip clubs $3 per customer.
August 19: Todd Akin does his thing …
… which has its roots in this thing, this other thing and, oh, one more thing which might decide the direction of our entire country. It also flies in the face of this thing, which involves actual science and so is not to be trusted.
August 21 (update): A big day in rape denialism as the biography Paterno hits bookstores, restating the late Joe Paterno’s perjury-worthy claim that he knew nothing of Jerry Sandusky’s ongoing crimes against children on the Penn State campus. “I never heard of, of, rape and a man,” the famed coach stammered to the Washington Post before his death, having somehow remained ignorant of child sexual abuse for all his blissful 85 years. … Defending himself against his own words, Todd Akin claims he was merely speaking out about “false [rape] claims like those made in Roe v. Wade.” There were none. Meanwhile Paul Ryan, hunky vice presidential pick who denounced his heroine Ayn Rand while crafting a budget that could hardly get more Galt, refuses to denounce Akin’s position on rape and abortion, or disavow his own.
Aug. 22: Reviewing the summer of 2012, Jezebel columnist Erin Gloria Ryan declares she’s suffering rape fatigue. “Rape outrage limit reached. I have given this all of my fucks, and the fucks I have given are still not enough fucks.”
* Obviously this takes a broader-than-average view of when “summer” begins. You know it when you feel it. return