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Friday, November 24, 2017

#ThemToo: America's sexual violence blindspot

Sexual violence by some men against other men is endemic in America's prison system and that fact is well known. We can deduct that by the way it is casually referenced in our culture. Everyone knows that a young man, or boy, that is not well connected or well protected, is subject to being repeatedly raped in prison. Here's an example:
Option A, Brandon takes the deal.

Option B, Brandon goes up to the penitentiary and gets his rectum resized about yay big.
Considered as a revelation, this is certainly one of the least shocking revelations in Breaking Bad, because Saul Goodman is just telling us what most already know.

Nobody knows how widespread this type of sexual violence is within our prison systems because few care, and nobody is keeping count.

Generally speaking, it isn't even considered. For example, following Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, this is the way Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, described the problem of sexual assault on Democracy Now today:
My thoughts about this are that—exactly what Tarana said earlier, that this kind of violence is as American as apple pie. I am both heartbroken by all of the stories that I have seen being shared—there’s more stories being shared every day. And lots of people that I know, that I’m in community with, and people that I don’t know, are asking themselves, “What do we do about this epidemic of violence—violence against women, violence against women of color, violence against black women, queer people, trans people? And even, what do we do about violence against men?” Right? Cis men, trans men.
Sexual assault that is regularly visited upon mostly heterosexual men in the form of violent homosexual anal rape in our prison system gets mentioned by no one.

This is a type of sexual violence which is entirely within the state's ability to control. It does not because it is used by the state, as also exemplified by the above Breaking Bad quote. The "criminal justice" system quite deliberately uses this threat of sexual violence to enhance the deterrent value of incarceration. The fictional scene above is replayed many times a day in real world lockups. In weighing his options, that image of having his rectum resized, more than just about anything else, is likely to persuade the young defendant to take the deal even though it has nothing to do with his guilt or innocence. Externally, they use sexual violence as a deterrent. Internally they used it as a lever of control over the prison population. They welcome it as a beneficial parasite that is useful to the prison host, and so they feed it what it needs.

We must consider these victims too. Anyone who thinks we can end sexual violence and sexual abuse, while leaving this state sponsored incubator intact, is on a engaged in "a task that has little to no chance of being successful or beneficial."

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