Tag Archives: Rolling Stone

Survey: 1 in 4 college women report unwanted sexual contact

Nearly a quarter of undergraduate women surveyed at more than two dozen universities say they experienced unwanted sexual contact sometime during college, according to a report.

The results of the Association of American Universities Campus Climate Survey come at a time of heightened scrutiny of the nation’s colleges and universities and what they are doing to combat sexual assault. Vice President Joe Biden recently visited Ohio State University and highlighted several new initiatives, including mandatory sexual violence awareness training for the school’s freshmen beginning next year.

The survey was sent this spring to nearly 780,000 students at the association’s member colleges, plus one additional university. About 150,000 participated in the online questionnaire. Researchers said results could be biased slightly upwards because students who ignored the survey may have been less likely to report victimization.

The results were generally in line with past surveys on sexual assault and misconduct on college campuses — and confirmed that alcohol and drugs are important risk factors.

“How many surveys will it take before we act with the urgency these crimes demand?” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, who is pushing for passage of a bill that would address how sexual assault cases are handled on campus and the resources available to help students.

Researchers cautioned against generalizations from the data, partly because experiences of different students and at different schools could vary widely. It was not a representative sample of all the nation’s colleges and universities.

Some students attended schools that have recently grappled with reports of sexual assaults or misconduct, including the University of Virginia, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Ohio State.

University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan has said that a widely discredited and later retracted Rolling Stone magazine story about a gang-rape at a fraternity house harmed efforts to fight sexual violence and tarred the school’s reputation. Hazing that included excessive underage drinking and sexualized conduct — though none of it aimed at females — prompted the University of Wisconsin-Madison to terminate a fraternity chapter earlier this year. And Ohio State fired its marching band director last year after an internal investigation turned up a “sexualized culture” of rituals and traditions inside the celebrated organization.

The Obama administration has taken steps to push colleges to better tackle the problem of sexual assault, including releasing the names of 55 colleges and universities last year that were facing Title IX investigations for their handling of such cases. A settlement in one of those cases, between UVA and the U.S. Department of Education has been announced. It included several changes the university will make to the handling of sexual assault cases.

Other participating schools said survey results also would bolster their ongoing efforts. Dartmouth said it will form a committee of students, faculty and staff to analyze the data, as well as conduct its own attitudes survey starting in October.

Gregory Fenves, president of The University of Texas at Austin, said, “It is essential that we foster a campus that does not tolerate sexual assaults while strongly encouraging victims to come forward and report incidents.”

Overall, 23 percent of undergraduate women at the participating universities said they had been physically forced — or threatened with force — into nonconsensual sexual contact or incapacitated when it happened. That included activities ranging from sexual touching or kissing to penetration. For undergraduate men, the percentage was 5 percent.

The survey found freshman women appeared to be at greater risk than older students for these forced or incapacitated encounters. About 17 percent of freshman females reported sexual contact that was forced or while incapacitated; for senior-year students, the percentage had dropped to 11 percent.

The survey provided a rare glimpse into the experiences of the small percentage of students who are transgender or who don’t identify as either male or female. Undergraduates in that category reported the highest rate of the most serious nonconsensual acts.

“Our universities are working to ensure their campuses are safe places for students,” AAU President Hunter Rawlings said in a statement. “The primary goal of the survey is to help them better understand the experiences and attitudes of their students with respect to this challenge.”

The study found that only a relatively small percentage of serious incidents was reported to the university or another group, including law enforcement. Across the institutions, it ranged from 5 percent to 25 percent.

The most common reason cited by students for not reporting an incident was that they didn’t consider it serious enough. Others said they were embarrassed or ashamed or “did not think anything would be done about it.”

Those who chose to report the incidents, however, said they had generally favorable experiences. Well over half said their experience with the organization that handled the report was very good or excellent.

Twenty-six participating institutions were AAU member research universities: Brown; California Institute of Technology; Case Western Reserve; Columbia; Cornell; Harvard; Yale; Iowa State; Michigan State; Ohio State; Purdue; Texas A&M; and the universities of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota-Twin Cities, Missouri-Columbia, North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Southern California, Texas at Austin, Virginia, Wisconsin-Madison and Washingtocn University in St. Louis. One nonmember, Dartmouth College, also participated.

Against Me! brings ‘Transgender Dysphoria’ live to Milwaukee

After a childhood of dealing with gender dysphoria, Laura Jane Grace grew up to be the leader of a successful punk band. That band — Against Me! — appears live in Milwaukee at The Rave on May 14.

Formerly known as Tom Gabel, Grace is considered the first major rock star to come out as transgender. In her first public comments about her transition to Rolling Stone nearly two years ago, Grace said she was “hoping people will understand, and hoping they’ll be fairly kind.” 

The first major breakthrough for Against Me! came with the 2007 album New Wave. It was the band’s first break into the upper half of the Billboard album chart.  Rolling Stone named it one of the top 10 albums of the year.

Included among the songs was “The Ocean,” which contains the lyrics, “And if I could have chosen, I would have been born a woman.  My mother once told me she would have named me Laura.” No one paid much attention to those lines then.

Following 2010’s White Crosses, an even more successful album, the closet door began to open. The band launched its own studio and label — Total Treble — in 2011. Shortly afterward, Against Me! began recording what became Transgender Dysphoria Blues, and Grace announced to the group and the public that she was transitioning.

“I felt like I drop-kicked them in the face,” Grace told Rolling Stone. “We had the most awkward hug ever, and then they left.”

Grace began hormone therapy, announced plans to undergo electrolysis treatments, and before long the four-piece band had lost two members, leaving only Grace and guitarist James Bowman. Despite all the turmoil in the band, Grace has said the most terrifying aspect of coming out was worrying what the response of her wife Heather would be. The couple has a daughter Evelyn, and they have decided to remain married.

Grace was born the son of army Major Thomas Gabel, and during her early life she moved with her family from base to base.  When she was 11, her parents divorced, and she went to live with her mother and grandmother in Florida.  It was around this time that Grace began realizing that she was female. Lacking the kind of information about transgenderism you can find today on the Internet, she says her only experience of transgender identity was through the films The Crying Game and Silence of the Lambs — films featuring what Grace refers to as “the sad tranny and the scary tranny.”

Grace’s tales of bullying during her teen years are far too familiar, and she channeled the anger and frustration into a musical project. Against Me! began as a solo exploration, but by age 18 she had formed a touring band.

Flash forward 15 years, and this past January Against Me! released Transgender Dysphoria Blues, which deals directly with gender dysphoria. But it’s not all autobiographical. 

On first listen, the 28-minute, 10-track album goes by quickly with music that is very approachable for fans of the punk genre. Grace sings with the venom and spirit she’s always possessed, and many of the songs are injected with catchy hooks. But when you look a bit deeper at the words, the struggles with rage and self-destruction are apparent.

Transgender Dysphoria Blues peaked at #23 on the Billboard album chart, the most successful yet for Against Me! It has received strong critical acclaim for its brave lyrics and engaging populist punk sound. Despite the group’s personnel upheavals, Transgender Dysphoria Blues sounds tightly woven and coherent, just like the work of a solidly established band.

Against Me! hit the road this spring to present new songs from Transgender Dysphoria Blues live along with some of the group’s favorites. The cathartic, anarchic energy of the band’s shows has not changed.  In fact, Grace’s predominantly male fan base seems to have eagerly embraced her and continued to support the group.

If you venture out to the show at The Rave May 14, expect loud music steeped in the musical lessons of rock’s past — from the Clash to Bruce Springsteen. But the words and the story behind them from the woman who’s front and center onstage represent a truly unique moment in music history.

Sleeper Agent headed to Wis. in support of new album ‘About Last Night’

Sleeper Agent, the self-described “overachieving little garage-pop act that could,” moved to a major label for its sophomore album About Last Night. The results? A number of the ragged, sharp edges got filed off, making the sound cleaner and more polished.

But that doesn’t mean Sleeper Agent of Bowling Green, Ky., is fully tamed. The group still tears into songs like “Impressed” with a feverish energy that strikes at the gut. In 2011, Sleeper Agent grabbed the attention of alternative rock fans with its first album Celabrasion. The following year, Rolling Stone readers ranked it second among new bands. The group has toured nationally with the likes of fun, Weezer and Grouplove. It recently completed a tour with Danish pop-rock outfit New Politics. 

The group’s focal point is lead vocalist Alex Kandel, who was recruited at 17. Her onstage charisma and vocal fire make the band stand out among its peers. On About Last Night, she occasionally shares the vocal lead with guitarist Tony Smith, providing a back-and-forth element to Sleeper Agent’s concert presentation.

Kandel left high school early, finishing on her own, and put her college career on hold in pursuit of musical dreams as part of Sleeper Agent. She considers the move one of her first truly adult decisions, one that she made against her mother’s wishes.

About Last Night was produced by Jay Joyce, best known for his work with indie pop favorite Cage the Elephant. He also steered the group’s debut album Celabrasion.

Sleeper Agent kicked off publicity for the About Last Night album with the release of the single “Waves” last December. It is perhaps a microcosm of what the group has become on this second album. It features aggressive vocals from Kandel, plenty of strummed guitar, sing-along choruses and garage rock energy. But enough of the rough edges are gone to make “Waves” radio friendly. 

Like many of the songs on About Last Night, “Waves” has been floating around for a while. The central guitar riff was written in 2010.

With About Last Night, the band explores complex emotions — check out the reflective cocktail punk of “Haunting Me” — and delivers a Latin vibe on the song “Sweetheart,” based on a line of poetry by W.B. Yeats. The band gleefully dives into the poppier side of the 1980s post-punk style on “Eat You Up,” and kicks off “Lorena” with a trendy folk-pop arrangement.

Several of the album’s songs add up to little more than filler. “Me On You” is bland, up-tempo pop-rock, while “Shut” feels like a meandering ballad in search of an engaging melody. According to the band, the song was originally written for the soundtrack to Tim Burton’s film Frankenweenie but ultimately was rejected. 

But just when you think the album is starting to drag, Sleeper Agent launches into “Impressed,” inspired by transgender avant-garde pop hero Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons.

Sleeper Agent rolls into Madison on April 10 as part of its first national headlining tour, playing High Noon Saloon with special guests Holy Child and Pagins. The next night, Sleeper Agent lands in Milwaukee at The Rave. 

The band also will play some of this summer’s “Warped Tour” dates. Sleeper Agent has received strong acclaim for its live-performance energy, and many songs on About Last Night are tailor-made for the stage.

So check out the cleaner, smarty, savvier — but still edgy — Sleeper Agent.

Bob Dylan faces insult charge in France after comparing Croatians to Nazis, KKK

French authorities have filed preliminary charges against Bob Dylan over a 2012 interview in which he is quoted comparing Croatians to Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan.

The charges of “public insult and inciting hate” were filed against the musician in mid-November, Paris prosecutor’s office spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre said on Dec. 3.

They stem from a lawsuit by a Croatian community group in France over remarks in an interview in Rolling Stone magazine in September 2012.

Speaking about race relations in the United States, Dylan was quoted as saying: “If you got a slave master or Klan in your blood, blacks can sense that. That stuff lingers to this day. Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood.”

A lawyer for the Croatian group, Ivan Jurasinovic, said it is not seeking monetary damages but wants Dylan, “a singer who is liked and respected in Croatia, to present an apology to the Croatian people.”

He said the Croatian community in France was upset by the remarks, but said he did not know why Croatians in Croatia or the United States, where Rolling Stone is based, have not filed similar suits. France, home to about 30,000 Croatians, has strict laws punishing hate speech and racist remarks.

Representatives for Dylan, who performs in France regularly, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The charges were filed two days before Dylan received a French government honor at the Culture Ministry Nov. 13 but were not publicly confirmed until this week.

In other news, on Dec. 1, a majority of Croatians voted in a referendum to ban gay marriages in what is a major victory for the Catholic Church-backed conservatives in the European Union’s newest nation.

The state electoral commission, citing near complete results, said 65 percent of those who voted answered “yes” to the referendum question: “Do you agree that marriage is matrimony between a man and a woman?” About 34 percent voted against.

The result meant that Croatia’s constitution will be amended to ban same-sex marriage.

Punker Gabel comes out as transgender

The lead singer of the punk rock band Against Me! comes out as transgender in a Rolling Stone feature arriving on newsstands May 11.

Tom Gabel said she is keeping her birth-given name for now, but eventually she will be known as Laura Jane Grace.

Gabel told RS, “I’m going to have embarrassing moments and that won’t be fun. But that’s a part of what talking to you is about – is hoping people will understand, and hoping they’ll be fairly kind.”

Gabel also told the magazine she and wife Heather, who is “super-amazing and understanding,” will remain married.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation celebrated Gabel’s openness.

“Tom’s decision to live life authentically is a not only a personal step forward, but one that will advance the national discussion about treating transgender people with fairness,” said GLAAD president Herndon Graddick. “As more and more Americans get to know people who are transgender, they’re coming to embrace and celebrate them.”

To RS, Graddick said, “Tom is displaying extraordinary courage by coming out as transgender after already establishing herself as a rock star. For many of the band’s fans, this may be the first time they’re actually thinking about transgender people and the bravery it sometimes takes in order to be true to yourself.”

He added, “We’ve seen nothing but support from Tom’s fanbase online, and we hope her story will help countless transgender youth who have not had someone like her to relate to before.”

Gabel has been the band’s lead singer since starting it in 1997 at age 17.

Against Me! has released five albums since then and just recently began recording a sixth.

They will tour with The Cult from late May to August.

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U.S. evangelicals blamed for brutal killing of Ugandan gay activist

A prominent Ugandan gay rights activist whose picture was published by an anti-gay newspaper next to the words “Hang Them” was bludgeoned to death after receiving multiple threats, officials said on Jan. 27.

David Kato, an advocacy officer for the gay rights group Sexual Minorities Uganda, was found with serious wounds to his head at his home in Uganda’s capital Kampala, late Jan. 26, a police spokeswoman said. Kato later died from his injuries on the way to the hospital, police said.

“We cannot confirm that Kato was killed because he was gay or whether it was just an ordinary crime,” police spokeswoman Judith Nabakooba said. Investigations were under way and no arrests had yet been made, she said.

A Ugandan tabloid newspaper called Rolling Stone listed a number of men they said were homosexuals last year, including Kato. Kato’s picture was published on the front page, along with his name and a headline that said “Hang Them.” A judge eventually barred the tabloid from printing such stories and photos.

Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda and gay men and women face regular harassment. A controversial bill introduced in 2009 and still before the country’s parliament would see the death penalty introduced for certain homosexual acts. The bill prompted international opposition and it hasn’t come up for a vote.

Human Rights Watch said in a statement that witnesses had told police that an unknown assailant who had been spotted entering his property hit Kato twice on the head. The assailant was then seen leaving by vehicle, the statement said.

The rights organization called for an urgent investigation into Kato’s murder, saying that his work as a prominent gay rights campaigner had previously seen him face threats to his personal safety. The organization called on the Ugandan government to offer gay people in the country sufficient protection.

“David Kato’s death is a tragic loss to the human rights community,” said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “David had faced the increased threats … bravely and will be sorely missed.”

Kato and two other gay activists sued the newspaper over claims that it had violated their constitutional rights to privacy and won the case earlier this month. A judge issued an injunction banning the publication of the identities and personal details of alleged homosexuals.

Frank Mugisha, the chairman of Sexual Minorities Uganda, said he has asked religious leaders, political leaders and media outlets to stop demonizing sexual minorities in Uganda since doing so creates a climate of violence against gay persons.

“Across the entire country, straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex Ugandans mourn the loss of David, a dear friend, colleague, teacher, family member and human rights defender,” said Mugisha, who said Kato had been receiving death threats since his face was on the cover of Rolling Stone.

The introduction in 2009 of the anti-homosexual bill followed a conference in Kampala attended by American activists who consider same-gender relationships sinful, and believe gays and lesbians can become heterosexual through prayer and counseling. Some gay Ugandans still resent that American intervention.

“David’s death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S. evangelicals in 2009,” said Val Kalende, a Ugandan gay rights activist. “The Ugandan government and the so-called U.S. evangelicals must take responsibility for David’s blood.”