Thursday, June 09, 2005

MJ behind bars

I was looking at the AP wire today and saw an article entitled: 'Prison would prove tough if Jackson convicted'. You can read the article here .

It made me think about my own mortal fear of prison. For a while, I went through a phase where I wondered how I would survive if I got sent to the big house. How would I keep from being beaten? Could I use the bathroom in front of a convicted murdered? Can clenching prevent rape? Part of this was brought on by hearing an episode of NPR's This American Life that focused on life behind bars. This particular episode was particularly dramatic because it featured a pamphlet written by Stepehen Donaldson, an anti-prison rape advocate who eventually died of aids. The pamphlet, which you can read here describes how to survive in prison as someone's bitch. Here's a taste:

"The punk has to give up his independence and his control over his own body to his "man" as the price for this protection. He has to put out sexually in a passive role, giving up head or ass or both. This deal is never totally voluntary for the punk: it is often coercive, the alternatives are frightful, and it is motivated above all by the need to survive in a place where the punk has been marked as a perpetual target for gang-rape and other forms of abuse. But it is still very different from a series of violent gang- rapes, and, in the age of AIDS, far safer. We call these relationships "survival-driven" from the punk's perspective.

A punk often is able to choose his protector from among various candidates, especially if he is willing to put up a fight (even knowing he'll lose) or is not in a particularly rough joint, and he may be able to establish a relationship of mutual concern, which is a far cry from the pure exploitation of the sexual assaulter. It must be understood, however, that the "pitcher" makes the rules and the "catcher" follows them. In a particularly tough joint, a punk may be no more than a slave, but usually the relationship allows you some leverage or room to maneuver and have your wishes considered, as long as you respect the basic rules of the relationship.

While a jocker will never tolerate open rebellion, he usually seeks to get along with his punk and avoid an atmosphere of constant tension. He would rather relax around his punk, and over time he can and often does develop genuine affection for him and allow a considerable degree of give-and-take in the non-sexual aspects of the partnership. But the sexual part is pretty fixed and you can't really hope to get out of it.

It may be very hard for you to deal with belonging to somebody else and having to substitute for a girl and satisfy a guy sexually, but at least you only have to do it with one guy or a small number, rather than anybody who can catch you. Your risk of infection with the AIDS virus is greatly reduced, often to zero (see SPR's AIDS and the Rape Survivor). You don't have to fight at all and can avoid physical injury, and it is some comfort knowing that a dead punk is of no value to anybody. Often hooking up will improve your financial situation as well, since a jocker is expected to see that his punk gets the canteen necessities of life."

What's disturbing is that this pamphlet is meant to advise you on how to be someone's punk. It presupposes that you've weighed all the options (e.g repeated gang rapes, paying for protection, solitary, etc..), and you've come to the decision that this is the best solution: having sex in exchange for safety. Needless to say, this disturbed me in a very deep way. Watching Shawshank repeatedly didn't help either.

So is MJ going to have a difficult time behind prison? If he's in general population (which is doubtful), yeah, he probably will have a difficult time.


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