Friday, July 15, 2011

This is so the worst thing you're going to read all day.

[Trigger warning for rape culture.]

On Monday, I mentioned that Jamie Leigh Jones, the Halliburton/KBR employee who reported being gang-raped by her co-workers, only to then be held hostage by her employer, and who had to fight through an absurd stipulation in her employment contract that required sexual assault allegations be addressed by private arbitration in order to take the case to court, lost her civil rape case against Charles Boartz and KBR.

As you may recall, one of the good things to come out of this nightmare was the passage of Senator Al Franken's anti-rape amendment to last year's Defense Appropriation bill, which stipulates that the US Defense Department must withhold defense contracts from private contractors "if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court."

When Franken first introduced the amendment, Jones said: "It means the world to me. It means that every tear shed to go public and repeat my story over and over again to make a difference for other women was worth it."

Cue Mother Jones with an extraordinarily absurd article headlined: "How the KBR Rape Verdict Undermines Al Franken's Contracting Law."

According to author Stephanie Mencimer, Jones having lost her case threatens the law because Franken's amendment must be renewed annually as an amendment to the defense budget. And now that Jones' case was lost, there's less incentive to support the law.

Huh? So because one woman lost her case, legislators should/will decide that no woman should have the right to have her day in court? Does not compute.

Of course, I don't think that logic is the point here. The concern trolling about the safety of Franken's law seems like a contrived justification for Mencimer's real objective, which is to deliver some thinly veiled contempt for Jones ostensibly on behalf of survivors: "[I]t's hard to see how bringing—and then losing—a dubious rape case in civil court is a win for victims of sexual assault. If anything, Jones' case, in which she asked the jury to award her $145 million, will make it even more difficult for sexual assault victims to have their claims taken seriously."

So Jones is just a gold-digging opportunist with a "dubious" rape case whose unmitigated temerity to lose her civil rape case has now made it "even more difficult" for survivors to be believed.

And this is about concern for Franken's law. Sure.

You know, I don't believe that a complainant losing a case in a culture so steeped in rape culture narratives that winning is nigh impossible makes things more difficult for survivors.

I do, however, believe that reporters sneering at survivors who lost and making thinly veiled accusations that they're lying, money-hungry whores is precisely the sort of thing that renders justice elusive for most survivors of sexual violence.