Dear TIME Magazine,
Your egregious allegiance to patriarchy is more than anyone should have to swallow. It first reared its ugly head, when you served up Caroline Kitchens’ March 20 piece, decrying the existence of Rape Culture as a theory, over-hyped by “hysterical” feminists. In the fantasy world of Ms. Kitchens’ writing, she piles our plates with denial so high, that we may as well be face down, at an all-you-can-eat buffet with the Cleavers.
Clearly, one in three women and girls assaulted, globally, 3,374 rapes in the military last year, (a 6 percent increase) and an estimated 26,000 sexual assaults, along with 1 in 5 women raped on college campuses, with only 5% reporting – to say nothing of the oppression of women, globally – from female genital mutilation to selling child brides to sexual harassment and assault at epidemic levels is no big deal; neither is the fact that all women are all too familiar with being treated like prey on the street, automatically arranging their keys like Edward Scissorhands when walking into parking garages at night and planning their runs around times they're likely to feel safer .
And, of course, all of this misogyny exists, in a media stew, of sorts, in which media image after media image portrays women as perpetually-aroused, hyper-sexualized, airbrushed, augmented, dehumanized objects. WHAT rape culture, TIME? According to Ms. Kitchens’ wisdom, we simply need to follow the paternal prompt to “eat your dinner!” Your magazine was met with a plethora of responses, including Zerlina Maxwell’s op-ed piece, which you published and the #rapecultureisreal hashtag she generated, which continues to assimilate examples from women and male allies. Our organization was moved to launch the “Rape culture is…” campaign, utilizing signs with completed sentences, bearing the hashtag: #sexismisnotsexy, through the hu-MAN Up facebook page.
Regardless, you persisted in your attempt to shove even more junk food down our throats, by actually amplifying white male privilege denier,Tal Fortgang’s: Why I’ll Never Apologize for My White Male Privilege. The magazine’s latest pairing offered enough arrogance to feed an army. Once again, they were met by outraged readers, and printed one such response, written by Mr. Fortgang’s classmate, Briana Payton. Charles Clymer also wrote a compelling response to TIME’s lack of sustenance. In short, Princeton student Tal Fortgang continues to reap the rewards of being born a white male. These privileges include the ability to attend the private institution: SAR Academy & High School, in Riverdale, N.Y., which offers a lovely, well-equipped campus with a tuition of $30,800 per year, regardless of the struggles his ancestors faced.
One would think that your magazine would take heed of the reality checks you've received. In fact, when my Co-Director, Ray Manlove and I were on a webinar this week, strategizing campus prevention programs, the hosts posted a picture of your May 15 cover, hailing it as good news. But, although this issue contains many credible, fact-based articles, one, in particular, shows that it's business as usual in your editorial kitchens, where you continue to cook up and promote ideologies of the likes of the men's rights movement. In your infinite wisdom, you chose to publish Rape Culture is a Panic Where Paranoia, Censorship, and False Accusations Flourish, by Christina Hoff Sommers, a self-proclaimed "factual feminist", hailing from The American Enterprise Institute, an organization listed on Right Wing Watch. What agenda? There's nothing to see here. Get out of the editorial kitchen. Her efforts to paint feminists as histrionic is so blatant, that it likens adding blue dye #2 to white chili, hoping nobody will notice. The reality is, that the majority of other contributors in this issue offer key ingredients to the sloppy stew that is rape culture. Conversely, the petrochemical based colorant Ms. Hoff Sommers dishes outmasks even more manufactured ingredients in her article, which is void of nutritional value. She states that the 1 in 5 statistic regarding campus sexual assault, that, gasp, gasp, even the White House touts, is bogus. The fact that it relies on confidential surveys is her argument. Actually, it is far more likely that those numbers are low, due to the shame that is far too common in survivors - confidential survey or not.
Her other argument cites a plethora of supposed false allegations on campuses across the nation. It has been widely substantiated that the incidences of false allegations surrounding sexual assault are no different than any other crime. Statistics aside, the personal stories offered here, offer food for thought and create a compelling argument against the classic Men's Rights Activists (MRA) "the bitches must be lying" argument that Ms. Hoff Sommers promotes.
So, it boils down to this, TIME editors: the reality of rape culture is hard to digest for some. It is, however, far more palatable than the MRA-laced, toxic propaganda-disguised-as-journalism, which you currently serve. Stop touting extremist agendas and perpetuating divisive, misleading journalism. I know too many people who have left the field, because they were told in their news rooms that they must be beholding to sponsors' agendas. When it comes to rape culture, it's more than a little obvious that giving a platform to anyone who wants one, is not just lazy, questionable journalism -- it's dangerous, and it enables sexism and sexual violence. Stop it! Stop it right now, and get to work promoting truth. The world deserves better.
Adele Taylor Ulrich is co-director of the planet project - the non- profit that hu-MAN Up calls home. She has spent most of her life fighting injustice & working for a sustainable world. As a playwright, spoken word artist, community educator organizer, activist, theater director & actor, her current work focuses on ending rape culture, by educating &mobilizing men & women as allies. She will go down kicking & screaming in an effort to help build an egalitarian culture, by cultivating compassion, respect, responsibility & consent. Adele is a vegetarian who lives with her partner, and Co-Director Ray Manlove, along with 3 dogs & a cat in Lancaster, PA, where they all make a lot of noise about love & fairness. Follow her on hu-MANUp's facebook page!