Special Report: Oklahoma is not OK
A recent sexual assault case in Tulsa County has prosecutors infuriated. A 17-year-old male defendant argued that a 16-year-old female whom he’d driven home one evening had consented to oral sex – never mind the fact that the victim was completely intoxicated and unconscious. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the charge of forcible oral sodomy last month, stating that – given the young woman’s state – they could not "enlarge a statute beyond the fair meaning of its language.”
Benjamin Fu, Tulsa County District Attorney and Director of the office's Special Victims Unit, called the court’s interpretation “absurd,” “dangerous” and “offensive.” “I don’t think the law was a loophole until the court decided it was," he said, adding that the court had the authority and precedent to include intoxication and unconsciousness in the law.
Take for instance Oklahoma's rape laws, which explicitly state that engaging in sex with someone who is unconscious is illegal – and which has included those whom are incapacitated by alcohol. Even the state's burglary laws convict people of "breaking and entering" when the door is wide open, despite whether or not any "breaking" actually occurred. Entering a person's property without permission is enough.To add fuel to the fire, last Thursday Oklahoma's House of Representatives passed a bill completely banning abortions, and Governor Mary Fallin is still musing over it like it’s a cute-but-not-very-functional pair of shoes. Immediate consequences for doctors performing abortions under the bill include having their licenses revoked and potential felony charges. (Clearly Oklahoma should stick to musicals at this point.) Despite the fact that the law is illegal according to federal law, a court system stacked with misogynists means it can be years of appeals before the law is repealed. Representative David Brumbaugh said to justify the legislation, “If we take care of morality, God will take care of the economy.”
That’s not what Carrie Underwood meant when she said, “Jesus, take the wheel!"
We know that movies about awesome female leads are just as popular as movies that have awesome male leads – so why is the former a lot harder to finance and distribute? In a panel hosted by Variety, the Sundance Institute, and fashion company Kering, Producer Heather Rae talked about her decade-long struggle to bring the Sundance Film Festival favorite "Tallulah" (starring Ellen Page and Allison Janney) to independent movie screens. Rae was told by countless executives that her her film was "not commercially viable because it was a woman’s story, [but] it wasn’t about getting the guy.” (Because, after all, that's all that women care about.) Since the majority of films are created through the lens of white men, movie executives (who are coincidentally also white men) categorize films made by or about women as "women's films." Rae and other producers are working to change that. Despite the uphill battle, the film was eventually purchased for $5 million by Netflix, who saw the film for what it was – an interesting work for a wide audience.
The podcast Just Not Sports's "More Than Mean" campaign released a video last week in which men read mean Tweets to female sports journalists like Julie DiCaro and Sarah Spain. The comments at first felt seemingly harmless but sexist, like "Sarah Spain sounds like a nagging wife on TV today," then quickly escalated to verbally abusive comments along the lines of, "I hope your boyfriend beats you," and "I hope you get raped again." (Yikes. Why do macho guys get offended when women are involved in sports?). Several of the men asked if they had to read the comments out loud and apologized on behalf of the author of the tweet. If watching men realize the severity of sexual harassment women endure on a regular basis gives you secret satisfaction, consider this the sports version.