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Thoughts on Rape in Alabama Law and Culture

The number of reported incidents of rape has increased in Alabama exponentially since the 1960’s. If this rate of growth continues Alabama’s homes and college campuses will no longer be safe to conduct their normal activities. Something must be done to solve this problem before it spills over to future generations as socially acceptable behavior.

According to the law rape is the carnal knowledge of a female through force or the threat of force, including all attempts. (Alabama Justice Information Center).   Do males and females see rape as the same thing? A male student I interviewed at the University of Alabama, defines rape as “either emotionally or physically trespassing against someone’s will, mainly pertaining to sexuality.”. This is a very broad view that could apply not only to sexual assault, but also to property crime and other forms of non-sexual offense. However, the idea of rape is brought out. Females, being the more likely victims, seem to have a more intense grasp of what rape is and does. A paranoia rising in campuses across Alabama has triggered a growing awareness among students. One female student I interviewed at Shelton State Community College, defines rape as “violently taking control of someone’s body when, although they may be into you, they refuse at that point what you offer.”.  This description is very close to what usually happens during a rape.

A typical rape scenario would sound a lot like this:

It’s a Friday night. A 22-year-old female goes to her friend’s house for a party. Between the hours of 6pm and 6 am.  She sees a 28-year-old male that she knows or has met. After she has become drunk with alcohol on her own or after he slips a paralyzing drug, mostly likely rohypnol, into her drink, the criminal-to-be takes her away under the cover of trying to be a good friend. Once he either takes her home or just away from the crowd somewhere. He takes advantage of her mindless state. While this is happening she may regain some form of consciousness. This is when a struggle may occur resulting in injury for the victim. 74 percent of rapes involve some form of verbal or physical violence (Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center). The next morning the victim knows something fears shame, embarrassment, and the thought of not being believed. She says nothing.  No one is punished and no one is helped.

The after affects of a rape encounter for the victim are as follows:

Continued anxiety

Continued helplessness

Sleep difficulties

Social withdrawal

Reluctance to leave the house

Difficulty forming intimate relationships

Sexual dysfunction

Crying spells and/or anxiety attacks

(University of South Alabama)

Unless she speaks up no one will be able to help her deal with these deep emotional issues. Sadly, this is how the majority of rapes happen, since only an estimated 10 to 50 percent of rapes are reported (University of South Alabama). The 1,337 rapes recorded by Alabama’s authorities do not even began to suggest how often it actually occurs. A number that captures a closer parallel to reality would be about 3,000 rapes per year. Of the small number authorities are aware of only 46% are cleared (Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center). When asked how rape could be prevented the female student said, “More awareness. Many girls and guys are afraid to talk about it, which leaves people feeling alone when they aren’t.  If people would really see how real it is and the things it leaves behind then maybe there would be more awareness. Maybe then everyone would be more serious about it.” The A.C.A.R., Alabama Coalition Against Rape, feels the same way. This organization was formed to:

• Increase the reporting of sexual assault

• Increase public awareness of sexual assault

• Improve investigation and prosecution of sexual assault

(Alabama Coalition Against Rape).

Another preventive measure that would directly affect the number of occurring rapes would be to crack down on drug and alcohol distribution and consumption. In 90 percent of rapes that happen on college campuses, one or both of the individuals involved had consumed alcohol (University of South Alabama). That fact alone calls for some action by either government or college officials. Date rape drugs like Rohypnol and GHB are common occurrences in all night parties. Rohypnol is the perfect drug for what the rapist wants. The physical effects of this powerful sedative may be noticeable within 15 to 30 minutes after ingestion and last for hours with possible amnesia to what happened after the drug was taken (Rape Treatment Center).   Tasteless, odorless, and colorless it is undetectable to any of the human senses. GHB, also powerful and quickly effective, is known for its use in body building because it metabolizes the body (Rape Treatment Center). However, if either of these drugs is mixed with alcohol they become deadly. Some form of legislation must be past to disarm the rapists who have manipulated these materials.  When the male student was asked how to prevent rape he said that if someone committed a rape under the influence of alcohol then they should have all drinking privileges taken away for life. That may sound extreme, but when taking into account the value of human life it turns into a matter of profit and loss in today’s economy driven society. Without booming industries like alcohol and tobacco, feeding America’s already fat pockets, the land of the free could go to a slightly lower standard of living. Of course this is unacceptable. Until this country is willing to sacrifice its numbing treasures for the lives of the hurting the victims will keep drinking away the tears and the rapists will keep drinking away the guilt, never thinking that the drink is its own reason.

On the other hand, when rapists don’t use substance warfare or any weapons at all, some cases of reported rape are attempts by the “victim” to frame the accused. A legendary example of this would be the Scottsboro boys. This case put Alabama on the map in the worst way possible. Before Martin Luther King, Jr., the Scottsboro case is said to have been what triggered the civil rights activity two decades after the beginning of the case (Burck). March 25, 1931 nine African American under-aged supposedly raped two white girls. All of them were ridding on a train hobo-style. The two girls, Ruby and Victoria, were from the lowest possible economic positions and were rumored to be occasional prostitutes. During trial the two girls testified with conflicting stories that changed over time.  In spite of the extremely questionable character of the girls the white authorities of early 21st century Alabama were quick to assume that these Negro boys had done what they were accused of. At that shameful time in Alabama’s history equality and humanity took the back seat to tradition and ignorant pride. Sadly enough, all nine of the boys served years in prison for a crime they most likely never committed.  This type of situation is not unheard of today. Of course the racial factors have for the most part been demolished through the positive developments in Southern thought over the last 40 years, but some of the falsely accused still go to jail today. Some girls have used the threat of crying, “RAPE!” as a form of manipulation. Especially, today where laws against sexual offenders are becoming more public and embarrassing, someone overcome with hatred could ruin another’s life by simply saying they raped them. That is another reason why communication is so important in relationships. This way the male and female will be more aware of the other’s feelings. The male has to listen if his partner says “No” in spite of what body language or other conditions may suggest. In the same way females must make it undoubtedly clear if they feel violated by immediately voicing their objection.

A form of rape that society may forget is prison rape. The prisoners probably do not receive the same sympathies from the public, as do random college girls who never hurt any body, but the painful affects are the same in both types of rape. The act should not be more or less tolerated in either situation. Rape is rape. The punishment and counseling should be administered whether in public or in a prison. The government has stepped in to this particular fight with the Prison Rape Reduction Act of 2002. The intervention has the support of Alabama’s attorney general, Bill Pryor. He says, “Our prisons must protect public safety both by incarcerating dangerous criminals and through restorative justice. How can we expect a prisoner to behave as a responsible citizen and productive taxpayer after his release from prison, if that prisoner was the victim of rape and other violent crime while imprisoned? Our Constitution, which was framed based on a Judeo-Christian perspective of individual liberty, demands that we do better.” The Act will establish three programs within the U.S. Justice Department:

A statistics program will conduct annual studies and make subsequent reports of the incidences of prison rape in a sampling of federal and state prisons and local jails, and to review those institutions that greatly exceed the national average;

A prevention and prosecution program will be a clearinghouse for complaints of prison rape to be received confidentially and referred to appropriate authorities; and will provide training and assistance to prison officials on preventing and reducing prison rape, and detecting and punishing when the crime does occur;

A grant program will make annual grants totaling up to $40 million a year for state and local programs to prevent and punish prison rape.

This action by our government is very positive. This gives hope for more action in the future by the Alabama government that will help combat the emotionally and physically violent rape crime. With more awareness by organizations, better communication between sexual partners, and more government action against the substances that help create the conditions for rape Alabama has a chance to change the future for generations-to-be who had no part in corrupting the present.

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Choosing a path

One day while daydreaming as usual in a college math class, i made a list. this list was different from most lists because i never got past number one. i had been struggling again with stressing questions like, ‘What should i major in? What do i want to be? What should i do with my life?’ You know, the typical post-highschool-midway-through-college-still-cant-decide-what-you-want-to-do syndrome. So i decided to make a list of the things i love to do. i thought a moment and wrote,’create.’ i never wrote anything else. at the time i was afraid of the implications of such a statement. however, after fighting myself for years i have finally decided to persue artistic creation as a career. Expanding my skills as an artist is how i have chosen to turn a pass-time into a lifestyle.
My goal is to communicate love and truth, in their purest forms, to all who view my art.

*Thanks to Chase Bowers for finding this post on the Wayback Machine from yessy.com.

 

Metamorphosis

Change is constant and definite. To be is to change. Everything in the physical universe is changing from life to death. It is a cycle. The first half of all life grows, and the second half deteriorates that growth. From positive to negative we fall. Unlike the outside world, however, the inner human man/woman can change from negative to positive. This positive metamorphosis is what I would like to express by experimenting and exploring the changing of an object or person’s condition from a negative state to a positive one. I’m interested in an object or person’s transition from evil-to-good, naked-to-clothed, empty-to-full, asleep-to-awake, and death-to-life. All of these do not touch on the depth of the theme, but they do compliment the idea of positive change in general. While observing Metamorphosis, I want the viewer to sense improvement.

I believe that the environment around something changes what that something is. This underlying theme shadows the main idea, which is positive metamorphosis. Making the background change along with the subject would express this.

Evil-to-good might be completely of someone’s face. through their expression and the lighting I would reveal the theme. Also, someone could start out about to commit an immoral act that turns into an act of live. For example, a flying fist could be subdued to a hand shake or friendly pat on the back.

Naked-to-clothed I have already photographed. This shows the process of a guy getting ready for prom. He starts out half naked in the bathroom and ends fully clothed in a suite with his keys in hand. Mostly natural light was used to give a more raw real life effect.

Empty-to-full would be accomplished with sets of smaller pictures that parallel each other. Throughout the sets one picture in each would be a glass being filled with water to clarify the theme. The glass pictures may be paralleled with someone eating, reading, or playing music.

Asleep-to-awake is pretty self-explanatory. However, adding a little comedy, something or someone will suddenly crash onto the scene as the sleeper frantically rises to challenge the intrusion.

Death-to-life would start with someone in an obviously dead position. Manipulating the dodging effect, a light would grow from the middle of their chest until it covers them. Revitalized the person is completely alive. As the light grows the background changes as if to show the influence of the environment on the individual. This may include some obvious spiritual undertones.

[While in a college photography class I wrote a paper called “Metamorphosis” about the dynamics of positive change in the universe. This paper led to a photo project of a guy being resurrected by a beam of light. This is an edited version of that paper.]

Iago el Diablo

– college paper on Othello

Legendary battles between heroes and villains rumble through the pages of all forms of literature. For centuries, authors have scribbled down their depictions of the feud between light and dark. The most common notion forms a brave handsome warrior that defends all good, and lets evil take the face of an ugly hunched over monster. In Shakespeare’s Othello, however, the outward appearance of the characters did not reveal their roles with such ease. Only at the end of the play did everyone understand who his or her friends and enemies were. The devilish Iago fooled an elite group of rich men, rulers, and soldiers with mere words. He accomplished this great two-faced deception by brilliant manipulation fueled by anger.

Feeling spurned by Othello with Cassio’s advancement, Iago swells with jealousy admitting to Roderigo that he does “…hate the Moor.” Iago is insulted by a “mere prattle without practice” being placed in the position he desired. However, instead of exploding outwardly and spoiling his revenge, Iago suppresses the anger to feed his destructive desires. Against Roderigo’s advice to leave Othello’s service, Iago opts to stay close to Othello in a range where more severe damage is possible.

Through asides and monologues, Shakespeare illuminates the thought processes Iago works through to ensnare his victims’ “…body and soul”. The evil genius breaks down each person’s basic psyche, designs a multifaceted schematic, and watches as men destroy themselves. The flawless timing alone reveals a powerful mind at work. Specific words placed at the most particular moment form Iago’s fatal weapon. For example, after applying a substantial amount of “abuse” to Othello’s ear, Iago questions Cassio about Bianca, the prostitute. Thinking that Desdemona is the subject of the flippant sexual discussion that takes place, Othello’s deception is complete. Not only does Iago’s plan include multiple victims, but multiple outcomes, also. Whether Cassio kills Roderigo, Roderigo kills Cassio, or they both kill each other, all endings benefit Iago one way or another. Such strategic prowess compliments the brain of this twisted seducer.

“I am not what I am,” Iago accurately states to Roderigo as he sets up the outline for his schemes. Being everything to everybody becomes Iago’s perpetual task. Othello’s source of truth, Roderigo’s hired delivery service, and Cassio’s elbow-nudging drinking buddy are all masks that Iago wears. As the truth-bearer, he acts as though he speaks to Othello with honest opinions based on solid fact. The mortally trusting Othello refers to his Ancient as “Honest Iago” and ironically assumes that Iago loves him. When making his “fool” his “purse”, Iago presents himself as a loving friend to Roderigo, but holds back the truth about Desdemona’s gifts. After many of words of seemingly unbiased advice, Iago coaxes Cassio into indulging in wine, for which he has “very poor and unhappy brains.” After getting drunk, fighting, and in turn earning demotion, Cassio is convinced to go to Desdemona in petition for his former rank. “With a little a web as…” flirtatious behavior common to Cassio’s personality, Iago claims he will “…ensnare as great a fly as Cassio.” All three characters saw the sheep’s clothing, but did not recognize the wolf underneath until it was too late.

Blinded to all morals by his relentless anger, Iago ingeniously manifested several alternate realities around his helpless subjects. Besides Emily, his wife, exposing his treachery in the end, Iago achieved his revenge exactly as he desired. Shakespeare’s rendition of darkness, appearing as light attacking light, forms a merciless villain with socially catastrophic powers.

Seeing but not Perceiving

-college paper on Oedipus Rex

 

Imagery is the manipulation of language to express the human senses.

Through reoccurring comparisons of sight and blindness, Sophacles integrates meaningful imagery into Oedipus Rex. This produced an undercurrent of foreshadowing, irony, and symbolism.

An example of such foreshadowing appears early in the play. As the priest addresses Oedipus, the words “Your own eyes” stand alone, spaced all the way to the right side of the page on line 25. Already, the reader’s attention is focused on the eyes of Oedipus, which will later be destroyed. Teiresias brings an obvious piece of foreshadowing when he prophesies that the murderer is “a blind man, who has eyes now.” This means that the murder can see now, but will be blind in the future. Teiresias is referring to what Oedipus will do to himself when he finds out who he is.

While Oedipus has his physical sight he is blind to his true origin. When he finally does see the truth he blinds himself physically, stabbing himself in the eyes repeatedly. Irony, such as this, is seen throughout Oedipus Rex. For example, Teiresias, the ‘seer’, was himself a blind man, yet, ironically enough, he ‘sees’ into the future.

Sight and blindness also symbolically represent knowledge and ignorance. When the Sphinx plagued Thebes with her riddle Oedipus brought what was “dark to light.” His knowledge of the riddle’s answer lifted the darkness, or ignorance, from Thebes. Also, Oedipus couldn’t see “the wretchedness” of his life even while he had “both of his eyes”. Teiresias was saying his ignorance made him blind, in spite of his physical vision, and that he would not have sight until he gained full knowledge of who he was.

The phrase “What you can’t see can’t hurt you” may come to the readers mind after reading Oedipus Rex. In the end it was his sight that blinded him. Throughout Oedipus Rex images of sight and blindness sculpt underlying themes of foreshadowing, irony, and symbolism.See

Lean Back

 

Every breath like rumbling rivers

Repel from conversation.

Its public solitude.

Banal life seems to waste hours…

I could use a few more.

An addict of time,

Stretching each day

Can i trust the night?

Will i live my dreams or

Keep dreaming of life?

Life.

A sum of experience.

How great will my number be?

If you are the book keeper,

How will you score me?

Repel from your circle

And spectate for a change.

Watch the power of words

Break a joyful spirit,

Or renew a smile forgotten.

Be sobered and enlightened.

Maybe they are wrong.

Maybe they minipulate.

What if they can’t be trusted?

Decide for yourself.

It’s your eternal right.

Does the stone enjoy its flight,

Seeing only a blur?

Why do you hurry, scurry?

Who’s waiting for you?

I’ll be the feather.

Riding waves of the air

Take in the landscape.

Release all care.

Drink in lush arrays of flowers fully bloomed.

Relax on the daisy.

Rest under the moon.

The stone is still talking.

Deaf to surrounding beauty;

Beauty of the feather that has

Fallen to its side.

I’ll be the feather, watching your crowd.

Content in the center

Of a book i once read.

I am consistantly at ease…

Even if the crowd is dead.