Fracking, Rape, Prostitution and Sex Trafficking

Sex and the Oil City: Sex, Crime and Drugs: The Dark Side of North Dakota’s Oil Boom

RT (2018)

Film Review

As its title suggests, this documentary mainly concerns the escalation in domestic violence, rape, prostitution and sex trafficking that have accompanied the explosive growth in North Dakota’s fracking industry.

The state’s western fracking towns have seen a massive influx of men working 12-16 hour shifts and earning six figure salaries. Tens of thousands of them, living in “man camps,” find they outnumber local women by 100 to 1. With nowhere to spend their money, narcotics abuse and alcoholism have become enormous issues – as has violence against women. Police call-outs in one town skyrocketed from 41 a year in 2006 to 7.414 in 2014.

The video’s main protagonist is Windie Lazenko, founder of the non-profit group 4Her North Dakota. This is an advocacy group providing outreach services for women and girls who are victims of local sex trafficking. Wendie herself was held captive by local sex traffickers and pimps from age 13-16.

There was  a significant decline in North Dakota’s fracking industry when the price of oil fell in 2014. With the oil price recovery that occurred in 2018, the boom is on again.

America’s 1.4 Million Homeless Veterans

Shelter: America’s Homeless Veterans

Al Jazeeera (Barbara Koppel) 2017

Film Review

This heartbreaking documentary is about the  1.4 million US veterans who are either homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness, due to poverty, mental illness, alcoholism and/or drug addiction. An American vet commits suicide every 61 seconds.

With the demise of nearly all Veterans Administration programs (eg GI Bill of Rights) that helped World War II vets reintegrate into society, veterans of America’s permanent War on Terror are mostly left to their own devices.

Owing to an extreme shortage of female shelter beds, homeless female veterans are the most underserved. Many homeless female vets were raped while serving, some multiple times. Those who report their sexual assault to superior officers are frequently kicked out of the military.

That F Word: Growing Up Feminist in Aotearoa

That F Word: Growing Up Feminist in Aotearoa*

By Lizzie Marvelly

Book Review

The goal of That F Word is to dispel common confusion about the meaning of the word “feminist.” To singer journalist Lizzie Marvelly, the word simply refers to someone who advocates for full women’s equality. She illustrates by demonstrating all the ways in which women aren’t fully equal to men in New Zealand (or the rest of the industrial world).

If women were fully equal, they would enjoy equal pay for equal work, decriminalization of abortion* and equal representation in government, the boardroom and the media and entertainment industry. Domestic violence and rape culture would end because sexual abuse, sexual harassment and domestic violence would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, as would the routine exposure of 14-year-old boys to misogynist Internet pornography; the widespread use of soft porn to sell commercial products; the continual media pressure on women to hate their appearance; and the constant verbal abuse and rape and death threats against women who openly express opinions in the public arena.

Marvelly views the advent of social media as a two-edged sword for women. Despite the ubiquitous use of social media by insecure men to verbally abuse, degrade and threaten women, it also offers women a unique opportunity to openly share personal experiences of abusive treatment by men. Even more importantly, social media has brought into the open the extreme level of misogyny women experience in contemporary society.

Presented as an expanded memoir, That F Word is a remarkable achievement for a 29-year-old author. In my view, it should be required reading for all men with a genuine desire to understand the condition of women in the 21st century.


*Aotearoa is the original Maori name for New Zealand

**In New Zealand, abortion is still a crime under the Crimes Act – unless a woman obtains independent certification from two health professionals that proceeding with the pregnancy will seriously endanger her mental health.

Bill Cosby: Fall of an American Icon

Bill Cosby: Fall of an American Icon

BBC (2018)

Film Review

This BBC documentary is about the multiple rape charges against Bill Cosby that have surfaced in the last 14 years. It begins with a brief summary of Cosby’s stellar career and his former importance as an African Americans role model. The film highlights his unrelenting philanthropy and promotion of African American education, via millions in donations to Black colleges. In 2004, after the Cosby Show ended, he embarked on a series of nationwide tours in which he railed against black mothers for not getting jobs and not caring for their kids properly.

2004: First Rape Allegation

According to people who worked with him closely, Cosby was known for “cheating,” ie engaging in a series of affairs with women he mentored as proteges. However it wasn’t until 2004 that a woman made a serious rape allegation to Philadelphia police. When Philadelphia prosecutors declined to press charges (for lack of evidence), the victim filed a civil lawsuit. Cosby settled in 2006. The details of the settlement, as well as a four-hour deposition Cosby provided under oath were sealed.

As a consequence of the lawsuit, 13 other women approached the victim’s lawyer about their own experience with Cosby “drugging” and raping them. These new complaints received little media attention until BuzzFeed picked up a story about a Black standup comic named Hannibal Burris making rape jokes about Cosby. More women came forward, and women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred arranged a press conference for those willing to speak publicly about their experiences.

Court Unseals Cosby’s 2004 Deposition

This, in turn, led an AP reporter to apply for Cosby’s 2004 sworn deposition to be unsealed. Although Cosby’s lawyers maintained this violated his right to privacy, the judge ruled his years of public “moralizing” negated his right to privacy.

In the deposition, Cosby acknowledged having sex with women he was mentoring and sometimes giving them quaaludes. This, along with dozens of new complaints from women Cosby allegedly abused, gave prosecutors sufficient evidence to proceed with the 2004 rape case.

Cosby’s first trial ended in a hung jury in June 2017. At his re-trial in August 2017, a jury found him guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting his accuser. Cosby is appealing the charge.

YouTube has taken the video down but it can be viewed for free here:

Bill Cosby: Fall of an American Icon

Granny Fight Club: Elderly Kenyan Women Learn to Fight Off Rapists

Granny Fight Club

RT (2017)

Film Review

Granny Fight Club is an RT documentary about the self defense program in Korogocho Kenya that teaches elderly women to fend off prospective rapists.

The deliberate rape of elderly women is an increasing problem in Kenyan slums – largely due to the prevailing myth that raping a grandmother will cure a younger man of AIDS.

The women are taught a strategy that relies mainly on self-confidence and a loud aggressive voice. However they also practice delivering blows to vulnerable areas of a man’s body.