TIME Parenting

Why It’s So Hard to Talk to Our Daughters About Campus Rape

Susanna Schrobsdorff is an Assistant Managing Editor at TIME. Previously, she was the Editorial Director for Newsweek Digital. She is the winner of a New York Press Club award for Outstanding Web Coverage and three Front Page Awards for cultural commentary and interactive journalism.

We tell our girls that they can do anything boys can. But what if that's not exactly true?

I have two teenage daughters, which means I live in a household of head-snapping contradictions. Everything you’ve heard about adolescent girls is true, and not true. They are in equal parts infuriating and beguiling, full of arrogance and certainty one minute, crumpled by insecurity the next. And just when you think you’ve accidentally raised judgmental mean girls, they do something so kind, so empathetic (like help you change their demented grandfather’s sheets without a word of complaint), that the memory of it sustains you through a whole month of snark.

One day they go into their bedrooms all gangly and tweeny and come out looking like women. This is to be expected, yet we are not prepared for the way the world looks at them in the wake of that transformation. After one daughter’s middle-school graduation, she strode down the street in her new heels and with her new curves, plowing ahead of us without looking back. It was all I could do not to follow her waving my arms and yelling, “I know she doesn’t look it, but she’s only 14!”

Now she’s 17 and applying to college. I have to let her disappear around that corner on her own. This is never easy for parents, but perhaps it’s even less so these days. She’s busy imagining who she’ll be when she’s living among her peers, on a campus somewhere that is not here. Meanwhile, I’m unable to stop reading the headlines about sexual assault and bungled rape investigations at some of the best universities in the country.

In late January, I couldn’t seem to escape the accusations that a group of football players had raped an unconscious neuroscience major at Vanderbilt University. At a trial for two of them, the lawyer for one of the accused said his client’s judgment was distorted by a campus culture in which drunken sex was prevalent.

Just the fact that this case wasn’t swept under the rug is encouraging. New federal mandates that aim to reform the way universities handle sexual-assault cases represent huge progress. And sure, the stats on how pervasive the problem is are still being debated, but the awful stories keep coming. So while I might have worried more about pregnancy, now the specter of assault looms larger. How do I talk to my college-bound daughter about that?

The irony is that while we’ve always warned our little girls about strangers, the numbers say that if our college-age daughters are assaulted, it will likely be by someone they know. And like a lot of mothers, I’ve spent years telling my girls that they can do anything a boy can, that they can rely on their smarts above all and that they should never be ashamed of their bodies. But that’s not exactly true. No, girls can’t get drunk like guys can at a party, not without compromising their safety. And yes, girls are more vulnerable, physically and in other ways. Accusations of promiscuity can still damage a woman to an extent that many men can hardly fathom. Just ask that Vanderbilt student, now a Ph.D. candidate. Her alleged assailants took humiliating photos of her during the attack.

It’s not fair, but it’s reality. I realize that I need to have some version of the talk that so many African-American parents have with their sons about being careful of what they wear and how they behave so as not to put themselves in danger. To our girls we say, be brave, take risks. But internally we want them to do whatever it takes to stay safe. We say, be proud of your beauty. Yet we fear that showing it off will make them a target.

It’s a thicket of contradictions and hypocrisy–as my daughters are quick to inform me when I dare suggest maybe they put on a jacket over that strappy top. But I can’t help offering some advice as I watch one prepare to walk out the door:

Nourish your female friendships. You want women in your life who will have your back at parties and will speak up when you’re about to do something you shouldn’t. And you’ll have their back too. Being a part of this kind of posse is a lifelong gift.

When it comes to guys, look for kindness over cool. And trust your gut. If it feels wrong, leave. Say no. Say no. Say no.

I would always defend your right to wear what you want and have just-for-fun sex if you want. But as your mother, I wish you so much more. I hope you take any chance you can to know someone truly and intimately. It is the best perk of being human.

If the inequities get you down, know that you are part of a revolutionary generation that is insisting on change. Just look at the women in a new documentary debuting at Sundance called The Hunting Ground. It’s the story of student assault survivors who cleverly used Title IX (the legislation forbidding gender discrimination) to force the Department of Education to investigate sexual-assault accusations at schools across the country. They transformed their vulnerability into something powerful.

And if you need me, I’m still here.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME India

Uber to Resume Operations in New Delhi, Spokesman Says

The ride-sharing app has courted controversy around the globe

App-based informal taxi company Uber will soon resume operations in India’s capital, New Delhi, over a month after being banned following an alleged rape by one of its drivers.

A spokesman for Uber said the ride-sharing service has applied for a radio taxi license, the lack of which was cited by the city’s authorities as one of the causes for the ban, Reuters reports.

The company will also implement other measures to improve passenger safety, including more stringent driver verification, a dedicated incident response team and an in-app emergency button.

[Reuters]

TIME Congress

House GOP Pulls Anti-Abortion Bill on Roe v. Wade Anniversary

The House Republican leadership reversed course on plans to vote on an anti-abortion bill deemed too restrictive by many female lawmakers in its conference, exposing internal party divisions as activists mark the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade with the March for Life.

The bill—the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act—would ban abortions after the 20th week of a pregnancy. Even though a similar bill was passed two years ago, Republican lawmakers raised concerns that this bill included a controversial clause requiring that a woman had to report the rape to police before she could get an abortion. The House will now hold another symbolic vote on a different, old bill that bans taxpayer funding of abortions.

“The reporting requirements I think were problematic,” said Missouri Republican Rep. Vicky Hartzler, who met with House GOP Whip Steve Scalise to air out her concerns this week. “Statistics show that a lot of women who are raped do not report it.”

Hartzler said she hoped that the bill would come back up with altered language that could garner more support. It’s unclear whether or not the current bill could have passed.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has opposed similar legislative proposals based on fetal pain as “not based on sound science.” The bill would be aimed at a minority of abortions, since 92 percent are performed within the first 13 weeks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Conservatives supported the bill in its entirety and expect the leadership to bring it back in some form. Susan B. Anthony List, the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, and Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee officials said they were “disappointed” that there wouldn’t be a vote and would work with the House GOP leadership “to ensure the maximum number of votes” in the future. Conservative RedState activist Erick Erickson called Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina, a key figure in opposing the bill’s rape reporting language, the “GOP’s Abortion Barbie.”

“There was a lot of discussion in our retreat [last week] about this and some of the new people did not want to make this the first bill they voted on because the millennials have a little bit of a different take on it,” said Republican Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida. “But you will see it come back because the American people agree with it two to one. It’s a hideous practice. It needs to stop.”

The conservatives’ confidence that the bill will be resurrected would disappoint Democrats like Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio, who said that now there is “some grain of hope that the Republican leadership is no longer going to be totally constrained by the wishes of their right-wing friends.”

Other Democrats said the abortion issue plays directly into their “war on women” narrative.

“It’s almost as though they’re creating the strategy for us, bringing up these bills,” New York Rep. Joseph Crowley, vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus told the Hill.

“In contrast to talking about job creation and bigger paychecks, they’re putting a bill on the floor that undermines the health of of America’s women,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in a press conference Thursday. “The bill is worse than the bill they pulled from the floor yesterday. That affected thousands of women, maybe, this affects millions of women. It not only affects their health, it affects the personal decisions of how they spend their own money on health insurance.”

Moderate Republicans such as Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent agreed with Pelosi that the GOP should be talking about pocketbook issues instead.

“I would prefer that our party spend less time focusing on these very contentious social issues because that distracts us from broader economic messages where I think we have a much greater appeal to the larger public,” he said.

TIME Television

1,200 Ticket Refunds Requested for Bill Cosby’s Denver Shows

Comedian Bill Cosby performs at The Temple Buell Theatre in Denver, Colo. on Jan. 17, 2015.
Comedian Bill Cosby performs at The Temple Buell Theatre in Denver, Colo. on Jan. 17, 2015. Barry Gutierrez—Reuters

Returnees amount to 40% of the tickets sold

A total of 1,200 ticket-holders requested refunds for two Bill Cosby comedy shows held in Denver, Colo., last week.

Around 3,100 tickets were originally sold to the event, meaning nearly 40% of those purchased were returned, according to the Denver Post.

Cosby, 77, was not heckled or harassed despite dozens of protesters outside his Jan. 17 gig, chanting phrases like, “rape is not a joke.”

The comedian has been embroiled in controversy since November after more than 15 women claimed he drugged and sexually abused them on various occasions spanning the last 40 years. Cosby has denied all accusations and has not been charged with a crime.

[Denver Post]

TIME Egypt

Egypt’s ‘Token Reforms’ Fail to Protect Women, Says Amnesty International

A woman near Cairo's Tahrir Square in 2011.
A woman near Cairo's Tahrir Square in 2011. Filipo Monteforte—AFP/Getty Images

Efforts to protect women from systemic violence have been largely symbolic, human rights group says

Recent efforts to address Egypt’s deeply entrenched problems with sexual violence are too little, too late, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

“Recent measures to protect women taken have been largely symbolic,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International, in a statement. “The authorities must prove that these are more than cosmetic changes by making sustained efforts to implement changes and challenge deeply entrenched attitudes prevalent in Egyptian society.”

In 2013, Human Rights Watch declared sexual violence an “epidemic” in Egypt, after 91 women were assaulted or raped during four days of protests against then-President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. A disturbing video surfaced last year of a woman being assaulted by a gang of men during the inaugural celebrations for Egypt’s new president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, despite el-Sisi’s campaign promise that he would “restore a sense of shame” to perpetrators of sexual violence. El-Sisi later visited a woman in the hospital who had been gang-raped during the celebrations, and apologized to her and “to every Egyptian woman.”

According to a United Nations poll almost all Egyptian women (more than 99%) say they’ve experienced sexual harassment, and UNICEF reports that more 90% of Egyptian women have undergone female genital mutilation. A Reuters poll from 2013 rated Egypt as the worst country in the Middle East to be a woman. “As the miserable poll results show, we women need a double revolution, one against the various dictators who’ve ruined our countries and the other against a toxic mix of culture and religion that ruin our lives as women,” Egyptian-American columnist Mona Eltahawy told Reuters after the poll was released in 2013.

Amnesty International’s most recent report suggests that little has changed since 2013, despite repeated government assurances about the importance of protecting women. Amnesty found evidence that the justice system has not effectively responded to the numerous rapes and attacks during the Tahrir Square protests, and that authorities have not done their “due diligence” to find those responsible. And even though nearly half of all women surveyed by the Ministry of Health said they’d been the victims of domestic violence, Egypt’s legal system does not explicitly criminalize domestic violence or marital rape. And to divorce an abusive husband, Egyptian women must either forfeit all financial rights or fight a long and costly court battle. (Egyptian men, by contrast, can get a divorce much more easily.)

The Egyptian government’s efforts to curb the violence have been tepid at best. In 2014, el-Sisi promised to take “all necessary measures” to end sexual violence after a video emerged of a 42-year old women who had been gang-raped in front of her daughter during the celebrations following El-Sisi’s victory. Yet state media had also tried to paint the videos as evidence that ousted President Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood was using sexual violence as political weapon to embarrass the current administration, suggesting that the videos and attacks may have been fabricated. El-Sisi instructed his Interior Minister to fight sexual harassment (closer to the American definition of sexual assault,) and the government passed a new law in June of last year to punish harassment with at least 6 months of jail time or hefty fines. But under the new law, a judge can decide whether someone who participated in a gang rape serves jail time or merely pays a fine. And according to Amnesty, the criminal justice system is still biased against accusers, and the laws themselves “fall short of international human rights standards.”

“The authorities have made big promises, but actually delivered very little of the root and branch reform that’s sorely needed,” Sahraoui said. Amnesty is calling on the Egyptian government to use the 2015 legislative elections as a reckoning point for dealing with violence against women. They ask that the government uses the new elections as an opportunity to pass legislation that gives women equal representation under the law, repeal all discriminatory laws, and write new legislation to impose harsh criminal penalties on all forms of violence against women.

TIME NFL

Colts Linebacker Josh McNary on Exempt List After Rape Charge

Baltimore Ravens v Indianapolis Colts
Josh McNary #57 of the Indianapolis Colts looks on against the Baltimore Ravens during the game at Lucas Oil Stadium on Oct. 5, 2014 in Indianapolis. Joe Robbins—Getty Images

He will be temporarily removed from the team's roster with pay

Indianapolis Colts linebacker Josh McNary was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list on Thursday after McNary was charged with rape.

The commissioner’s exempt list allows a player dealing with a serious off-the-field issue — like legal proceedings — to be temporarily removed from a team’s 53-man roster with pay. During the 2014 season, the Vikings and Panthers notably used the list for Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy, respectively.

While on the list, McNary will be unable to attend practice or games, but he will still receive pay.

Court documents filed in Marion County, Ind., on Wednesday show that McNary, 26, is charged with one count of rape, one count of criminal confinement and one count of battery. You can view the criminal complaint here. (Warning: graphic content).

McNary denied the allegations in a statement released by his attorney Thursday morning.

The alleged incident occurred on Dec. 1. The victim told the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department that after her work shift ended at 11:30 p.m. on Nov. 30, she went to a few different bars in Indianapolis with co-workers before ending up at an “unknown apartment” with an “unknown male.”

She alleges that she and the male had a physical fight before she was sexually assaulted. She then took the man’s cell phone and left the apartment and contacted the police after returning to her residence.

McNary, who attended Army, played in 15 games and started four for the Colts in 2014. The second-year pro finished the season with 16 tackles and 0.5 sacks.

Indianapolis plays the New England Patriots on Sunday in the AFC Championship game.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME celebrities

Refunds Offered for Bill Cosby’s Denver Shows

Bill Cosby attends American Comedy Awards in New York
Actor Bill Cosby attends the American Comedy Awards in New York City on April 26, 2014 Eric Thayer—Reuters

The veteran entertainer has denied allegations of sexual assault and has never been charged

(DENVER) — Ticketmaster is offering refunds for two Bill Cosby shows scheduled in Denver, but organizers say the performances will go on.

KUSA-TV reported Tuesday that more than 3,000 tickets have been sold to the shows, which are set to take place in downtown Denver on Saturday amid planned protests against the iconic comedian.

Cosby is facing growing sexual assault allegations from more than 15 women, with some claims dating back decades. He has denied the allegations through his lawyer and has never been charged.

Chuck Morris, president of AEG Live, the promotion company hosting Cosby, says he understands the concerns some may have regarding Cosby’s visit. But he adds that because the comedian hasn’t been charged with a crime, he has a moral obligation to allow the shows to happen.

TIME India

Uber Driver in New Delhi Charged With Rape, Kidnapping

Company may also be charged

An Uber driver was charged with rape, kidnapping and criminal intimidation in a New Delhi court Tuesday. A 25-year-old woman accused the driver, Shiv Kumar Yadav, of assaulting her during a ride to her home Dec. 5. The case is set to begin Thursday as part of a new fast-track court system in India meant to expedite certain cases.

Uber, a car-on-demand app service that is growing rapidly around the world, may still be held liable for the alleged assault, police officials in New Delhi said. The company could face criminal charges for not properly disclosing safety issues with its service. Uber was banned in New Delhi shortly after the assault accusations came to light.

[The Washington Post]

TIME Media

Tina and Amy Just Showed Us the Right Way To Make a Rape Joke

Show hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler arrive at the 72nd Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills
Show hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler arrive at the 72nd Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills on Jan. 11, 2015. Danny Moloshok—Reuters

If you’re going to make a rape joke, you’re going to also have to prove that you care

After Tina Fey and Amy Poehler made their series of Bill Cosby jokes at Sunday night’s Golden Globe awards show—jokes at which I laughed—I thought, “Well, they’re in for it.” If you’re going to make a rape joke, you expect to hear about it.

Before we get into Fey and Poehler, let’s take a moment to consider some not funny rape jokes. Back in 2012, comedian Daniel Tosh made a joke about replacing his sister’s pepper spray with silly string. That same year, James Franco joked about being raped by Seth Rogen: “[He] forced his way into my dressing room, blew pot smoke into my mouth, pinned me beneath his sweaty, heaving, schlubby body.”

No, I don’t think Daniel Tosh would actually do that to his sister, but the fact that #yesallwomen can probably viscerally imagine the sensation of going to defend themselves and finding that impossible is not funny, at all. As for Franco: Dude. Being an “intellectual” doesn’t mean you’re incapable of sounding like a homophobic a**hole.

Back to Poehler and Fey. Let’s begin with the first part of their two-part Bill Cosby joke: “Sleeping Beauty just thought she was getting coffee with Bill Cosby.” It is typical awards show fare that incorporates the theme of the evening (movies) with current events (Cosby). It takes another step by combining a children’s story heroine with a beloved star and household name accused of drugging and sexually assaulting women. There is something funny about imagining Sleeping Beauty getting coffee with Bill Cosby, because you don’t think of them being together, and then—wait a minute—if Sleeping Beauty was your daughter, you would not let her go anywhere with Bill Cosby, because Bill Cosby is not to be trusted…not even with a fictional character. Yes, the foolishly innocent Sleeping Beauty suffers a little here, but her foolish innocence needs to be there to laugh—albeit bitterly—at Cosby’s evil deceit.

Now the best part of that joke, actually, might be the fact that we thought that was the end of it. “Ok, we went there, and yes, Jessica Chastain got very upset, but it’s over now.” But it wasn’t.

Fey started things up again, saying that Bill Cosby had finally spoken out about allegations against him. Then, in a cartoonishly bad imitation of Cosby’s voice, she exploded with: “I put the pills in the people, the people did not want the pills in them!” Poehler shook her head and in a chastising manner said, “No, Tina. Ok, Tina that’s not right. That’s not right,” and Fey looked a little ashamed. Then Poehler said, “It’s more like: “I got the pills in the bathrobe and I put them in the people!” Fey nodded, both satisfied and a touch rueful at having been bested and said, “You’re right, it’s gotta be like ‘I put the pill in the hoagie,’” and Poehler nods, “Yeah. That’s it.” Then they both muttered to themselves, “That’s fair. That’s fair.”

After Fey’s first imitation, we thought we were going to see a sort of a faux debate about the appropriateness of the subject. The fact that the question wasn’t about whether it was permissible to make fun of the Cosby rapes but merely what was the best way to do so was awesome. The fact that what they were debating was which of their enthusiastic but hackneyed Bill Cosby imitations was better was genius. The joke anticipated its backlash and told viewers, “We so don’t care if this is appropriate or going too far that we’re going to incorporate a joke about the very notion of that bullshit into our joke.”

It also let those watching in on the way that comedians tend to think about the things we think are sacred: “If we can find a way to make this awful thing that no one thinks is funny funny, we’re going to do it, because that’s just what we do.” Finally, the muttering to themselves at the end, the attempt to convince themselves that what they’d done was OK, even though they were really going out on the edge, showed that they didn’t think they were uttering these words in a vacuum. They were aware of the consequences and the criticism, and they were going to do it anyway.

If you’re going to make a rape joke, you’re going to also have to prove that you care, that there’s something at stake here for you. With Tosh and Franco, I just see two dudes hoping that being offensive will do the work required to make something funny so that they themselves don’t have to. But Poehler and Fey—accused by some of getting away with this because they’re women—have an actual target. They are attacking a man who refuses—other than with his own stunningly terrifying joke—to discuss or acknowledge his 32 accusers.

Now of course the question remains, what about Cosby’s victims? Would these jokes have been hurtful to them? My guess is some of the women would hate the jokes, and some of them would have loved them. So should the jokes not have been made so as to spare the feelings of those who would have hated them?

To ignore the accusations against Cosby at Hollywood’s most irreverent public event would have been to surround his alleged crimes with even more silence, and that doesn’t seem like a great option. (Interestingly, Cosby was very well imitated, and skewered, in Season 3 of 30 Rock, by Rick from accounting.) There’s nothing funny about rape and there’s nothing funny about being raped. But there is something funny, there just is, about two women leading an entire nation to laugh in the face of a man who’s been accused by 32 women of sexual assault and thinks maybe ignoring it will make it go away. There is always a risk of a joke offending someone, but politeness in the face of cruelty, well, there’s nothing more offensive than that.

Sarah Miller also writes for NewYorker.com and The Hairpin, among other outlets, and has published two novels, Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn and The Other Girl.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME South Korea

Uber CEO Indicted in South Korea

Uber has hit another roadblock

South Korean prosecutors have indicted the local subsidiary of Uber, the ride-sharing app firm embroiled in numerous controversies worldwide, for violating the nation’s transportation laws.

The indictment also names Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, for flouting a South Korean law that prohibits any person or company from using rental cars for paid transportation services without the correct license, Reuters reports, citing South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.

Yonhap reports that prosecutors will not make any arrests but that the penalty for the alleged crime is a fine of up around $18,000 or a prison sentence of up to two years. Uber tells Bloomberg that it will cooperate fully with any investigation.

The U.S.-based company has weathered a year of scandals — most crushingly, the alleged rape of a passenger by an Uber driver in New Delhi — and has been banned in several countries, including Germany, Spain and Thailand.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser