North Carolina: The Worst State To Be A Woman
Real Talk |  Source: N. Leeper, Shutterstock

North Carolina: The Worst State To Be A Woman

Where "no" does not mean "no."

The United States of America has a problem, and it has nothing to do with leadership.

The problem this article addresses is the problem of consent, or rather, withdrawn consent by women in the state of North Carolina. The state of North Carolina determined in the 1979 trial State v. Way that initial consent cannot be withdrawn for a singular act of intercourse.

Women in North Carolina have the right to consent to sex. Women in North Carolina have the right to withdraw consent to continuing a sexual relationship. However, women in North Carolina do not have the right to withdraw consent in the middle of a sexual act. North Carolina is the only state to hold this kind of law.

For a sexual act that started with initial consent to be considered rape or sexual assault, there has to be "evidence of more than one act of intercourse," states a court document of the State v. Way trial.

This means that a woman can say no in the middle of intercourse, but the man is under no legal obligation to stop simply because the court of law does not allow women the chance to rescind consent. This law also allows some room for some interpretation because some sources state that even when things get violent, a woman cannot rescind consent while other sources say that she can.

The United States of America already has a problem with rape victims/survivors not being believed.

Since 1979, women's rights in North Carolina in regards to sexual assault were lowered exponentially. In every other state, a woman has to fight to get her rape story believed; in North Carolina, women have to fight to get the law to say that they were raped.

Senator Jeff Jackson, a Democrat representing the 37th District of North Carolina, has tried to amend the law with SB 553. While the proposed bill seems great, and as if women in North Carolina will finally get the rights to their bodies that they deserve, the proposed bill has a serious flaw.

SB 553 specifically states that "a person may withdraw consent to engage in vaginal intercourse in the middle of the intercourse." This means that the proposed Senate bill does not give women the right to rescind consent to oral or anal sex.

While technically anal sex is illegal in the state of North Carolina, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against these laws in 2003, which means that these anti-sodomy laws cannot be enforced. The anti-sodomy laws make the Senate bill unable to address this kind of sex.

To correct this fundamental error in the bill, and give women the right to rescind to all types of sex, an age-old law in North Carolina has to be taken off the books, which seems unlikely since they have had 14 years to do just that since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled them unconstitutional.

Women in North Carolina have a large political mountain to climb if they want to have all of the rights to their own body. A right that is as basic as control over your own body should not be something that anyone should have to fight for, but here people are, trying to have the right to say "no."

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Real Talk |  Source: L. Smith, MPR News

Betsy DeVos Sued By 18 States

Things just keep getting worse for the Trump Administration

As of Thursday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the Education Department have been sued by 18 states and the District of Columbia.

These states filled a lawsuit, stating that DeVos suspended the revision of loan forgiveness rules for students defrauded by colleges. The borrower defense rules would make it easier for students who had been misled by for-profit colleges to apply for loan forgiveness and would prevent those colleges from requiring students to waive their rights to go to court to solve legal disputes.

The Obama administration created the rules after the closure of the Corinthian Colleges in 2015.

The rules were scheduled to take effect on July 1. The part of the rule that made it easier for students to apply for loan forgiveness had been put into effect earlier in order to aid students who had attended Corinthian Colleges. Devos suspended the rules in June, stating that the rules were "a muddled process that's unfair to students and schools, and puts taxpayers on the hook for significant costs".

In actuality, the rules would have eased the amount of money taxpayers would have had to pay in order to cover unpaid student loans because the schools involved would have been forced to repay more of that money.

The lawsuit against DeVos was led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey who stated that "Secretary DeVos has sided with for-profit school executives...and her decision to cancel vital protections for students and taxpayers is a betrayal of her office's responsibility and a violation of federal law."

Other states who have joined Massachusetts' lawsuit include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

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Real Talk |  Source: N. Leeper, Shutterstock

The Double Standard Of "Stealthing"

Yes, men can be victims, too.

"Stealthing" is a term commonly used to describe a practice of sexual assault in which a man secretly removes the condom during sex, despite agreeing to wear one, without the woman's knowledge or consent. This form of deceptive sexual assault is disgusting, and violates women as well as their trust for their partners. This form of assault can cause serious emotional and physical distress from the victim. "Stealthing" has unfortunately become a revolting trend that targets mainly women.

Stealthing has been condemned by Rape Crisis as a sex crime, and it was recently added to the definition of rape in the state of California. However, there is another form of stealthing that isn't as publicized.

If a man agrees to have intercourse with a woman as long as she is taking birth control methods, and she secretly stops taking them, is that not just another form of stealthing? It violates trust and can also be viewed as a form of sexual assault, because the man did not consent to sex without contraceptives. While not as common as secretly removing a condom, it is still possible for women to attempt to "trap" men by secretly trying to conceive a child.

While stealthing is becoming illegal and prosecutable for men, women who lie about birth control are completely free to do so, as they won't face any consequences for it. Both are deception and both are forms of stealthing, yet only one is considered to be truly illegal.

Another comparison is that both can potentially cause pregnancy. Sabotaging or removing a condom and lying about birth control could both lead to unwanted pregnancy, or at least unwanted on one side of the relationship. If a woman is a victim of stealthing that results in pregnancy, they have the right to decide whether or not to have an abortion or to take an abortion pill.

Male victims, however, do not have the right to decide whether or not the woman should have an abortion. After all, it is her body and her decision. Men can't force their partner into having an abortion for obvious reasons. Men will have to pay child support for their unwanted child that resulted from stealthing, as well as not being able to obtain any real form of justice.

Women can be victims of stealthing. Men can be victims of stealthing. Anyone can be victims of stealthing, and it's about time we started talking about it.

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Real Talk |  Source: L. Smith, Shutterstock

Arkansas's New Abortion Law Is An Outrage

An outrage, disturbing, medieval, misogynistic, the list goes on...

A recently passed Arkansas law would require rape survivors to notify their rapists before getting an abortion.

This law, HB 1566, or the Tissue Disposal Mandate, is linked to the Arkansas Final Disposition Rights Act of 2009 which requires a fetus to be treated as a deceased family member and that disposal of the fetus requires the consent of both "parents."

The law also states that a person has to be 18 to have final say over the disposal of the fetus, so if a rape survivor is under 18, they would not be able to have the final say in the decision of an abortion. If their rapist is over 18, then the rapist would have the final say over the disposal of the fetus.

The ACLU has already filed a lawsuit against this law, as well as three other anti-abortion laws, and filed a motion to stop enforcement of this law while their case is pending.

This law is medieval through and through.

A rape survivor should not have to confront their rapist again in the chance that she gets pregnant. Rape is about power and the fact that Arkansas is giving rapists even more power over their victims in the decision about a pregnancy is horrible.

And, if a rape survivor is under 18, and a rapist is over 18, the rapist technically gets final say in the abortion. So teenage rape victims, after not having bodily autonomy during their rape, won't have bodily autonomy over a pregnancy; their rapist will.

This law would also devastate a woman's privacy and right to her own body. A woman shouldn't be forced to notify the other "parent" in getting an abortion. If the other "parent" is their rapist or an abuser they've gotten away from, notifying them will only serve to harm the woman mentally and possibly physically.

The law also says the physicians can't perform abortions without "reasonable effort" in contacting the "parent." This is a huge violation of doctor-patient confidentiality and the privacy a woman should expect with her doctor.

"He was there at conception so he ought to be there through the whole process," the sponsor of the law, Kim Hammer, told Bustle. "I think that all life, from conception through birth and right up through death by natural causes, needs to be treated with dignity, respect, and also a unified approach to deal with the remains."

Just because a man was there for conception doesn't mean he should be there through the whole process. A domestic abuser should not be there through the whole process nor should a rapist.

This bill provides exceptions for neither.

Life does deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, but so do women. Men don't trust women enough to make their own decisions and that's why bills like these exist. It's oppressive in the most abhorrent way because women don't have the autonomy to make decisions about their own body.

Laws like these are the reason we need more women in state legislatures and Congress. And laws like these will probably never stop showing up in legislatures. But that doesn't mean we stop fighting asinine laws like these, or stop fighting for women's health.

"Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. Don't let the bastards grind you down." - Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale

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Real Talk |  Source: (edited)

Here's Some Rape Math in Light of the Stanford Case

If you're looking for a trigger warning, this is it.

FlockU Presents is a new vertical we've launched for longform pieces about topics you care about - everything from sex and body shaming to the history of beer pong to how terrorism affects you as a college student.

If you ask a college student if they know a rapist, don't be surprised when they say yes.

"I am positive that most college students know a rapist," a fellow, recent University of Michigan grad told me, "Even if they aren't aware. There are MULTIPLE people who even I am not totally sure if they are rapists [or not]. Like, I've heard stories, and I can't even really decide what to think. It's everywhere."

When we got into a conversation about the Stanford rapist case he told me, "I am scared to think what would have happened to this case if they were found in a bedroom. He was caught IN THE ACT in the back of a building behind a dumpster, and was given six months, possibly weeks, with good behavior."

I personally know three rapists - one of them being my own - all graduates of the University of Michigan.

I personally know a dozen survivors, and this is just a matter of people who have chosen to confide in me.

Those are personal statistics. These are the University of Michigan's. In June 2015 it was estimated that, "more than 20 percent of University of Michigan female students have been sexually assaulted on campus."

Ready for some math?

43,625 students attend the University of Michigan.49.1 percent of U of M students are women.21,420 students at U of M are women.20 percent of those women have been assaulted.

That's 4,284 assaulted women in one year at U of M alone.

I can't even name 4,284 people.

"Unlike the very black and white crime of shooting someone or robbing a bank, there are ways for them to avoid that classification in their own heads with these lame justifications of 'I was sure. It was blurry. It was a misunderstanding.' Assault is one of the only crimes that the assailant, even when faced with evidence, can claim total ignorance of," my friend scoffed.

Could you imagine if 4,284 women were murdered at U of M each year? It'd probably decrease the assault stats because there would be less women around because, you know, they'd be murdered.

This past year U of M's Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC) released 97 balloons, each representing 50 survivors assaulted at U of M this year. (Oh, and here's the math on SAPAC's site of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence report for 2007).

Their estimate was closer to 4,850 women, so just slap an extra 500+ assaulted women on my math for 2016.

You know what? I'm terrible at math. I'm not even 100 percent sure that I did that math correctly. I probably didn't. Let's say I screwed it up. Let's say I'm off by a hundred - hell, let's say I'm off by a thousand. Let's just go easy and say at least 3,000 women are assaulted every year at the University of Michigan.Good, just 3,000. The relief I feel... there's just so much of it.

By now we've all seen this, this, and this article about one of the rapists at Stanford (I promise you there are more), and this deserving, powerful letter from the survivor. Everyone has been appropriately freaking out because of his slap-on-the-wrist sentence, and the way he's been treated in headlines. I'm not going to sit here and recap them all, you can read them for yourself.

If a case with as clear of evidence as this has failed to see appropriate justice, what hope do the rest of us survivors have coming forward?

In her letter she states, "I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt." Irreversible means there's no going back. This is not something that happened. Rape is something that is happening. That's present progressive tense people. Rape lives on through PTSD. It does not leave you. It's irreversibility is what makes it truly horrifying. Being raped is contracting a sexually transmitted mental disease.

Let's do some more math, yeah? Let's do some Stanford math.

Stanford's math is a little trickier. They released this delightfully descriptive campus climate survey in Oct. 2015 (the same time U of M's). They filled their results with fancy, narrow definitions.

According to Stanford:

Sexual assault "[includes] a nonconsensual sexual act - involving intercourse, digital penetration, oral sex or penetration with a foreign object - accomplished by use of force, violence, duress, menace, inducement of incapacitation or knowingly taking advantage of an incapacitated person."

Sexual misconduct "includes nonconsensual penetration or oral sex that occurs without the condition of force, violence, duress, menace or incapacitation that is involved in a sexual assault under state law and Stanford policy. Sexual misconduct also includes acts of sexual touching without consent and some acts of clothing removal without consent."

I'm going to go ahead and say both of those definitions are describing sex crimes, even though Stanford ran around being like, "Look at all the rapists we don't have cause we chopped up the statistics!"

Here's the breakdown:

16,136 students attend Stanford.1.9 percent of students (male & female) reported sexual assault.14.2 percent have additionally reported some other form of sexual misconduct.That's 1.9 percent sexual assault + 14.2 percent sexual misconduct = 16.1 percent of students have been assaulted (by my calculation after digging through their bullshit.)

That's 2,533 sexually assaulted students in one year at Stanford.

There are conflicting statistics out there too, that think these numbers are wildly inaccurate. Wait, here's some more.

That's not even all the math that's out there. This is just a math appetizer, or a mathetizer per say.

This is math without the other math. The other math that includes every student - not just the ones who took the surveys - the math we'll never get that includes all the survivors out there who will not speak up - especially on a school-administered survey - and the math that doesn't accurately include male survivors.

I wish if you were a criminal and committed sex crimes you'd immediately turn blue. I wish that survivors never had to tell their stories in the pursuit of justice and progress, so that we would never be humiliated and shamed. As a society we'd just have to say, "look that guy turned blue, get him boys!" and a couple of British cops from the 30s would pop out of nowhere singing in four-part harmony. Then, with wooden police batons, they'd bonk the blue people on the head and haul em' off to prison forever and ever.

But rapists aren't going to turn blue, and we're going to have to keep speaking up.

I'm so tired. I'm exhausted. I don't have an answer today. Today I just have math (math, and some terrific imagery of British cops).

If you're looking for more information, please visit or your school's sexual assault prevention center.

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The People vs. Greek Life

The uncertain future of fraternities and sororities

As much as I like to write my usual comedic fair, there is an issue that has been personal to me for a while and is perceptible to most people going about their college lives: what the future holds for Greek life. So, if you all will bear with me, I'd like to talk about that now.

Everyone knows the stereotypes. Fraternity guys are dumb, alcoholic meatheads who enjoy hazing pledges and occasionally dabble in sexual assault. Sorority girls are ditzy, elitist snobs who put out and love excluding people.

These are the albatrosses around the necks of anyone who is involved with Greek Life, and they're nothing new. Perpetuated by media and popular culture, they've resulted in a heavy stigma associated with these organizations, who as a result are having trouble finding their place in an ever-evolving educational landscape.

I can't remember the last time I heard the term "frat guy" used in a nice way. It often feels like something I have to defend to people who've never experienced it, and that's an issue.

While I admit there have been serious problems with Greek Life in the past, and there will continue to be, I find it surprising that people never get to see any of the positives of the experience.

For instance, I attend the University of Georgia, a large southern state school where Greek life is an omnipresent facet of the culture. However, I'm from Pennsylvania. Faced with attending a college over 900 miles away from home and an enrollment of over thirty-five thousand in an area of the country I'd never spent time in, I decided to rush my fall semester to try and make my campus a little smaller.

It was the best decision I could have made. As a result, I've met friends I'll have for life, found mentors in academics and my career, expanded my horizons in terms of participation in clubs and community service, and completely changed what could have been an uncertain college experience.

Now, I'm not so blind to ignore the obvious issues permeating Greek life. It's hard to keep up with the news and not be exposed to a story about hazing, body shaming, or sexual assault. Basing your opinion only off of what is presented in the media will have you believe that Greek life is exclusively negative.

Of course, there is some element of truth to these stories. Statistics get thrown around by both sides of the argument, so it's hard to navigate what can be a confusing and changing aspect of school these days. What I intend to do, now that I've disclosed my experiences, is to show both sides of the story and let you decide for yourself.

Let's start with two stigmas that are constantly in the headlines surrounding Greek life: hazing and body shaming. Hazing is the thought that pops into most people's minds when they think of a negative aspect of fraternities.

They have every reason to be concerned: at least one hazing death per year for 43 years is a scary statistic. rattles off others that are troubling as well, with an especially interesting line reading "29 percent of Greek leaders are concerned with the overuse of alcohol during pledge activities."

Hazing is a real concern not just in Greek life, but college athletics and clubs in general, and it is commonly associated with fraternities, right or wrong. No one is going to say that hazing is a myth in Greek life. It's an archaic practice that doesn't fit the modern collegiate experience or culture, but it's there. Another common association with fraternity guys is sexual assault, but this is where we get into some tricky water, as studies skew in favor of both sides of this debate.

In the interest of fairness, I'll be presenting both. Two prominent studies conducted in 2007 and 2005 say that fraternity memebrs are three times more likely to commit sexual assault than other college men. This plays into a common thought about frats: the presence of alcohol, often with those under 21, leads to an increased number of sexual assaults in Greek life due to "the culture".

What I believe to be the tether between these thoughts is the issue of consent confusion. Alcohol is a part of many fraternities, and people's consumption is often unmonitored.

There's plenty of confusion about consent already when people are sober, such as whether or not nodding or taking clothes off is a sign of consent, and it's exacerbated by people drinking far more than they should. This can lead to someone thinking there was consent when there actually was none, and inadvertently committing a crime.

I know there's no perfect way to address this, and I truly can't speak on behalf of someone who has experienced it, but to my mind rape culture would be far less prevalent if we all were smarter about alcohol and more versed in exactly what consent is and isn't.

For now, we need to move onto sororities. It's easy enough to think of the most obvious issue that people have with sororities; as I mentioned above, it's body shaming. This is also not an unfounded accusation.

A study found that women who rushed "had a higher level of body image disturbance compared to those who chose not to rush" and followed with "becoming a member of a sorority has the potential to exacerbate these variables further," with new members also showing higher levels of body shame, even after a month after the rush process has ended."

Opponents maintain that these exclusive groups perpetuate harmful media and pop culture images of unrealistic bodies, and can do real harm to young women.

As for the things Greek life does well, those are also well documented. For fraternities, we begin with a contentious study about sexual assault: that frat guys are actually more adjusted and respectful of young women than non-greeks. The study raises the point that the required sexual consent training many Fraternities are required to partake in is effective.

Another striking statistic is that many studies find that fraternity members actually have better GPAs in college that non-greek students. Studies such as this one from the University of Nebraska attest to the fact.

These positive trends continue for sororities as well, with studies such as this one stating that Greek life helps students graduate on time, with encouraging quotes such as "Greek membership is found to increase the desire to pursue a graduate degree, and increase the likelihood of graduating on time."

Another often overlooked benefit Greek Life provides is the large number of community service hours the organizations contribute each year, and the money they raise for charity and nonprofit organizations.

I don't have the space here to give you every bit of information and every study about Greek life. Hopefully, I've effectively shown you that there are two sides to the story and given you some of my personal experience that could help inform you about these organizations that our culture seems to not know what to do with.

Are there bad aspects?Absolutely, and there's truth to many of them.

Are there benefits? Obviously, but sometimes they get overlooked.

The decision we all have to make is what we want the future of these organizations to to be. It's a tough decision, to be sure, but it will have an indelible effect on the future of education, and we need to make sure it's the right one.