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[TRIGGERS] Yesterday, a Redditor solicited stories of sexual assault from assailants.
July 28, 2012 6:58 AM   Subscribe

[TRIGGERS]"Reddit's had a few threads about sexual assault victims, but are there any redditors from the other side of the story? What were your motivations? Do you regret it?" A thoughtful article on Jezebel with some excerpts from the thread and some excellent comments.
posted by the young rope-rider (186 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

 
well . . . that was some pleasant reading for my Saturday morning.
posted by Think_Long at 7:05 AM on July 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fascinating thread. So weird. Surprised at the number of women who had engaged in unwanted sexual contact with a man. If anything truly wipes out all of the bullshit rapists say, its that. If some women, no matter how few, have done this to men, then there's no "she was asking for it" crap that any male rapist can get away with now. You can't rely on gender stereotypes then. It involves a person of any gender forcing unwanted sexual acts on another person of any gender. No amount of bullshit can change that.

Also surprised at the amount of kid-on-kid abuse. God, I got lucky, I guess.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:12 AM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wondered if that would somehow make it over here. I agree with one of the first commenters on Jezebel:

This thread is eye-opening because it shows that most rapists or would-be rapists don't consider themselves rapists.

The small minority of rapists who hide in bushes and attack strangers with knives might call it rape, but the much more typical guy who routinely operates in the grey area, violating consent in smaller ways, and relying on confusion and ambiguity ("Well, I did have a few drinks...") probably doesn't.
posted by Forktine at 7:16 AM on July 28, 2012 [12 favorites]


Saw this yesterday; couldn't decide whether to post it here. I'm glad Jez did the article because I would have thought no way in hell am I reading a thread like that on Reddit. I have enough trouble perceiving the inherent goodness of strangers. However gingerly, I'd like to appreciate parts of the conversation. In the right context, I think conversations like this would help everybody.

When I was a teenager, I was sexually assaulted by my boyfriend, and I did not realize it for many years. I thought it was my fault to be unhappy, that he could handle me any way he wanted, because I loved him; and he thought the same thing, because he loved me. "Sexual assault," as far as I knew, was a thing that bad guys did, and you called the cops about it -- it wasn't this sweet impulsive boy who hung the moon -- except, of course, that it was.

If we had heard a whole lot more extensive and difficult conversations about consent, one or both of us would have been able to realize: just because you both have huge emotions does not make this okay. No cops would have been involved, and I might have spent a whole lot less time on unhealthy relationship dynamics in later life.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:18 AM on July 28, 2012 [26 favorites]


that was surprisingly interesting. i was surprised at how guilty some of these men feel about this, even what seems to be many years later. it's probably one of the shittiest things you can do someone, so they deserve to feel that way, but i guess it's also not an easy to talk about especially if you do feel that what you did was wrong. i guess i just never want to think of rapists as remorseful. i picture as leering, strong, crazy men with knives. not guilt-stricken people. please dont take as any sort of apology for the rapers - it's just surprising to me to see this side of it.

the first comment at the bottom from a female reader (Annalee) contains this:

The main takeaway for me, as somebody who doesn't want to be raped, is that A) I shouldn't hang out with drunk people; B) I shouldn't say sexual things; and C) anybody could be a rapist (including the guy I exchange cat pictures with) so I shouldn't trust anybody.

which pretty much sums up the thread about why women don't talk to men who say "whatch reading?'. anyone can be a rapist.

i think the scariest thing on there is that every single one of the stories the author pulled from the reddit thread was about someone raping someone they knew (or getting extremely close to raping her and then thinking better of it).

preventing rape involves men not doing all the things they did in that article. how on earth do you do that? honestly. how do you teach respect for everyone and self-awareness? it's so depressing.
posted by sio42 at 7:32 AM on July 28, 2012 [12 favorites]


I think the most instructive thing to take from the Reddit thread is that "Yes means Yes" is a lot more effective method to discern sexual assault than "No means No."

It's a little depressing, as well, to understand how many people out there with the neutral expressions or even bright smiles are absolutely screaming inside. I hope they get some peace.
posted by Mooski at 7:35 AM on July 28, 2012 [15 favorites]


This thread is eye-opening because it shows that most rapists or would-be rapists don't consider themselves rapists.

While the Reddit thread does not provide sufficient evidence for "most", at the very least, it is true of many rapists. This provides a good justification of shifting sexual assault prevention education so that more of it teaches people not to rape, rather than merely how to avoid being raped.
posted by grouse at 7:36 AM on July 28, 2012 [40 favorites]


relying on confusion and ambiguity

That works both ways until either party is upset by the status quo. I've learned some miserable lessons by not getting it in writing.
posted by jsavimbi at 7:37 AM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I read the Jezebel article when it showed up on a friend's G+, but I couldn't bring myself to go read the original Reddit thread. I suspect it would upset me a lot more than any enlightenment I'd get out of it. The Jezebel comments, which I stupidly read some of, were bothering me plenty.
posted by immlass at 7:37 AM on July 28, 2012


This thread is eye-opening because it shows that most rapists or would-be rapists don't consider themselves rapists.

They were weird. A lot of times they thought they did nothing wrong but would tell the victim not to tell anyone.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:39 AM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Excuses,excuses...
posted by Isadorady at 7:41 AM on July 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Did anyone see Jim Hines' response to the thread? He canceled a planned AskMeAnything after seeing it.

I really don't want to read the thread, but am interested to hear how accurate/reasonable Hines' response is.
posted by Baethan at 7:42 AM on July 28, 2012 [7 favorites]


Jim Hines: "I will not be doing it unless that thread is removed."

That's not how the internet/world works, not when you're doing publicity for your new book. In retrospect, he should've spent some time researching the controlled environments that are the NSFW subreddits before engaging the Reddit community for marketing purposes.
posted by jsavimbi at 7:49 AM on July 28, 2012 [12 favorites]


sio42: "preventing rape involves men not doing all the things they did in that article."

Which is a good summing-up of why the Generic Internet Male response to this anti-rape graphic has been so tooth-shatteringly frustrating.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 7:55 AM on July 28, 2012 [28 favorites]


ArmyOfKittens, I've always hated that image. Not because of its anti-rape content, but because the woman screaming, "STOP RAPE" looks so happy. Her expression contains the kind of a joy you'd expect from a mother cheering on her kid who just scored a soccer goal.
posted by Jeff Mangum's Penny-farthing at 8:02 AM on July 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


Read the Jezebel article. Not going near the Reddit thread. I say, get it all out there in that contained space. Get it documented. Let everyone see what is happening every day, all the time. Let someone other than the victims do it. If the perpetrators have to think of themselves as victims to talk about it, whatever. If they have to be assured they didn't do anything wrong, well, ok. That's how it is anyway.

This isn't how the conversation would go in my ideal world. But in the world of getting this behavior out in the open and in a place where we can move to prevent it, I guess this is better than what we have going now, which seems to be mostly getting victims to advocate for themselves mostly at their own expense while sparing everyone the details so society can continue to ignore the fundamental problems of lack of respect and communication that cause this terrible behavior.
posted by newg at 8:02 AM on July 28, 2012 [6 favorites]


I had a very similar experience to Countess Elena. Let me tell you it messes you up in your head whether you acknowledge it or not. It took me literally YEARS to call it what it was. But meanwhile it affected how I acted -or acted out.


I will always wonder who I would have been if it hadn't happened.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:02 AM on July 28, 2012 [19 favorites]


I really don't want to read the thread, but am interested to hear how accurate/reasonable Hines' response is.

My takeaway is he had issues with the freeform manner of discussion and the nil opportunity for verification the thread provided. I'm not sure I agree with him that the end result is more harm than good - I don't think there's anything like a 'rape manual' in the thread, and I don't believe anyone who would not rape before reading the thread would suddenly find justification after reading it.

I do think it will give readers pause and perhaps make them spend a couple more nanoseconds thinking about the consequences of their actions, so they do not adding to the ever-growing group of people who are suddenly forced to see the world as filled with predators.
posted by Mooski at 8:06 AM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


The thread on reddit is a great example of how dysfunctional voting systems on web sites are. People who are willing to admit they have committed rape are invited to tell their story, and the downvote button, as usual, gets used as a "express your disapproval" button, so the most relevant posts are the ones pushed down to the bottom or hidden from view.
posted by idiopath at 8:11 AM on July 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think there's anything like a 'rape manual' in the thread

There definitely is.
posted by grouse at 8:15 AM on July 28, 2012 [21 favorites]


The thread on reddit is a great example of how dysfunctional voting systems on web sites are.

It's one of the weird outcomes of assigning an automated outcome to an overloaded metric, yeah. When pushing a button can mean more than one thing and you use it to create decision thresholds based on only one of those things, you get funky results. It reminds me of how now and then I'll see a pretty great video on Youtube that has a bunch of thumbs downs from people who seem more to be saying not "this is a bad youtube video" but "the content/principal documented in this video is bad/jerkish/ugly".
posted by cortex at 8:16 AM on July 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


This thread is eye-opening because it shows that most rapists or would-be rapists don't consider themselves rapists.

I understand the feeling behind this and I mostly concur, but really it's more like "most rapists who are willing to admit to being rapists on the internet don't consider themselves rapists".


I don't think there's anything like a 'rape manual' in the thread

No, there absolutely is.
posted by elizardbits at 8:19 AM on July 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


Interesting use of sharing information. Has reddit done this with other crimes or immoral acts? Is this something that goes on in Ask Me Anything?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:20 AM on July 28, 2012



There definitely is.


I agree, though it would take a lot of reading and putting the pieces together to get there. There are definitely social spaces -- like some highly dysfunctional frats, say -- where men learn those "how to rape and get away with it" lessons much more clearly and explicitly. It's not really all that complicated; most of us commenting here could probably type most of out on the spot, but I'd feel dirty doing it.
posted by Forktine at 8:20 AM on July 28, 2012


There definitely is.

I admit the possibility being male and priviledged in ways I'm not even aware of, and there's a good chance I've missed quite a few posts on the thread, but I am curious which bits qualify for the label, in your opinion. MeMail me if you'd rather take it out of thread than parse the nastiness here.
posted by Mooski at 8:21 AM on July 28, 2012


I don't think there's anything like a 'rape manual' in the thread

Seconding Grouse. There absolutely is.
posted by zarq at 8:21 AM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


a great example of how dysfunctional voting systems on web sites are

It works rather well in many contexts but like everything it isn't the ideal construct for every single thread. In this case it may have driven down comments interesting to you but in many others it serves to remove spam/troll/insane comments that would otherwise detract from the conversation. Also, subreddits have moderators who can excise inappropriate comments but they're only volunteers who cannot be expected to manage everything and the community needs a tool to do so.

And they've been pretty successful so far.
posted by jsavimbi at 8:22 AM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Young rope rider, thanks for posting this.
posted by zarq at 8:22 AM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I never saw the thread that was linked to in the FPP but I did read this particular former rapist's account of his experiences which turned into its own separate thread (which appears to have been deleted). The user's sockpuppet name (serial_rapist_thread) has also since been deleted but the his comments are still there. The general tenor of the responses to his comments were, "He feels no remorse. He's proud of what he did, and the fact that he got away with it." It was a real eye-opener.

I don't think there's anything like a 'rape manual' in the thread

Well, the "serial_rapist_thread" stuff I linked to above comes pretty close, I think.
posted by fuse theorem at 8:22 AM on July 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well, the "serial_rapist_thread" stuff I linked to above comes pretty close, I think.

That is exactly what I was thinking about.
posted by grouse at 8:24 AM on July 28, 2012


As is pointed out in the thread itself: so much alcohol, so many drugs.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:28 AM on July 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I admit the possibility being male and priviledged in ways I'm not even aware of, and there's a good chance I've missed quite a few posts on the thread, but I am curious which bits qualify for the label, in your opinion. MeMail me if you'd rather take it out of thread than parse the nastiness here.

I'm not going to go through and reread the whole thing, but in addition to the serial rapist story there was one story in there of a college student who violated a woman's consent one evening, and then they hooked up a few more times over the following weeks. That's an example on the how-to list -- creating that kind of complicated situation with full consent in some situations, partial in others, violated consent at times, and an ongoing affectionate relationship means that it is going to go nowhere if she tried to report it, and the chances of her reporting it go way down as well.
posted by Forktine at 8:29 AM on July 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Um, yeah. So, I was wrong. Like, 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' wrong. Thanks for the link, fuse.
posted by Mooski at 8:31 AM on July 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


there was one story in there of a college student who violated a woman's consent one evening, and then they hooked up a few more times over the following weeks.

The saddest/most horrifying/most enraging thing about that scenario is that for almost everyone I know, this is referred to as "the usual college shit" because it is so fucking prevalent.
posted by elizardbits at 8:33 AM on July 28, 2012 [19 favorites]


I didn't see this in the OP and I know the Jezebel article comes at it more obliquely, but for reference, this is the the_serial_rapist comment referenced above. Super trigger warnings on this one, guys.

It's how I first stumbled on to the thread, and the guy describing precisely how he picked out his victim, groomed them, stalked them, and manipulated them to feel responsible after the fact is truly chilling. Combine that with the typical "I'm a good guy" bullshit and a whole heaping of "dude you're so brave" and it makes for very nauseating, if enlightening, reading.
posted by Phire at 8:33 AM on July 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think the most instructive thing to take from the Reddit thread is that "Yes means Yes" is a lot more effective method to discern sexual assault than "No means No."

This provides a good justification of shifting sexual assault prevention education so that more of it teaches people not to rape, rather than merely how to avoid being raped.


I really agree with both of these points but something I found interesting was the guy who said that virtually none of the women he'd raped ever said no; either they were in denial or they thought nice guys don't do this or they were just too afraid/polite/socially conditioned to say no. While obviously I don't think that anti-rape education is something that should be primarily on the shoulders of women, I DO think that we should make women more comfortable with saying no. I think a "Say NO if you don't like it!" campaign could be really good not just for immediate physical contact but for creepy people talking to you on the bus and guys shouting at you. I know why people don't respond this way (intimidated, don't want to escalate -- I don't usually say anything myself) but I thought it was really upsetting that women were unable/unwilling/unlikely to say NO during their own rapes and I think it would be great if we could empower women enough that saying NO when we don't like something becomes a viable option.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:35 AM on July 28, 2012 [8 favorites]


I don't trust anything these sockpuppet accounts say. Some of it reads like a sorely misguided attempt at erotica.
posted by desjardins at 8:36 AM on July 28, 2012 [19 favorites]


Meaning that there will be a certain percentage of people who will get off on the reddit thread.
posted by desjardins at 8:37 AM on July 28, 2012


Couldn't bring myself to read either links. I feel the same tightness in my chest that I get when considering the disposition of data from Nazi medical experiments.
posted by klarck at 8:38 AM on July 28, 2012


Get it documented. Let everyone see what is happening every day, all the time.

Indeed, much of rape's power lies in the fact that is is still very much a "mysterious and terrible" crime to the extent that many of the perpetrators may not even realize they are doing it and the victims feel ashamed to report it. All of this hidden power could be done away if people could really talk about it, really expose it, and once and for all reveal the inherent banality of it all.

The main takeaway for me, as somebody who doesn't want to be raped, is that A) I shouldn't hang out with drunk people; B) I shouldn't say sexual things; and C) anybody could be a rapist (including the guy I exchange cat pictures with) so I shouldn't trust anybody.

I must admit that I always find this idea that "anybody could be a rapist" to be very funny. It's really what makes rape and other sexual crimes so special but it only works because there is this naive, even childish belief, that individuals are X. That a single label -- rapist, victim of rape -- can be unilaterally applied to a human being. One wonders if this is precisely how rape has managed to evade capture? In "developed" (read, wholly consumerized) societies there's is an instilled belief that an individual has a single identity, a single essence and so rape (along with many other forms of sexual violence) can thrive because it is a direct threat to this myth. (Though it's always hilarious to hear people say "so and so is a potential rapist.) In societies where marketers have done far less damage rape is not viewed as this identity-defining (really, overwhelming) force, it is, to some extent, just another form of the latent and widespread and easily visible violence that tends to plague such societies. But such violence is, to a large extent, a solved problem in developed societies which suggests that rape has indeed somehow managed to evade the long arm of law by hiding in the murky depths of the human heart (or at least convincing people it has).
posted by nixerman at 8:38 AM on July 28, 2012 [14 favorites]


Yeah, without a doubt - both people who get off on reading it and people who get off on posting false stories from both perspectives.
posted by elizardbits at 8:38 AM on July 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


Guh.

Nothing to add here except that I really, really fucking hate reddit.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:43 AM on July 28, 2012 [27 favorites]


What's most frustrating for me about the thread is that the upvoted comments that are staying are at least half (if not more) people saying "I did this totally sketchy thing and then the stupid bitch called me a rapist," further perpetuating the idea that most "rapists" are actually just good guys who were taken advantage of by sexually aggressive women who then felt bad about it afterwards. Or threads about how women just don't understand how hard it is for men to not be taken control of by their erect penis, and how can they blame men who are so much bigger than them for being driven by their biology.

This doesn't seem instructive or useful to me because even the guys who admit they raped someone are saying something we already know is rape. "Yes, I raped someone who was too drunk to consent," or "I took advantage of someone who was quiet and didn't actively resist." And they're getting their consciences assuaged by people saying "It's ok. You're not that bad a guy," or "it's a reasonable response to an ambiguous situation." Not! It's fucking not. And I think that thread really is just a circle jerk of people being reassured that what they did doesn't seem that bad.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:47 AM on July 28, 2012 [18 favorites]


I will say this: even if the stories are made up, the events contained therein could have happened, and has happened to someone, somewhere. The reactions of "yes, that was rape" to situations that are far more ambiguous than "guy with knife in dark alley" have really made me re-evaluate events in my own life to the point where I'm now questioning if it was or wasn't ... ? Gah.
posted by desjardins at 8:47 AM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't trust anything these sockpuppet accounts say. Some of it reads like a sorely misguided attempt at erotica.

Meaning that there will be a certain percentage of people who will get off on the reddit thread.

I doubt that any woman who reads that thread and realizes--perhaps years or even decades later--that she had been raped is going to get off on it. Whether "serial_rapist_thread" is lying is beside the point, in my opinion.
posted by fuse theorem at 8:48 AM on July 28, 2012


The set of people includes men who like rape fantasies.
posted by desjardins at 8:52 AM on July 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't trust anything these sockpuppet accounts say. Some of it reads like a sorely misguided attempt at erotica.

I had meant to mention this in my earlier comment. I read much (but not all) of the original Reddit thread, and some of them read true to me, but others seemed more like trolling for Reddit attention. There's always an element of "hmm, really?" when you read stuff online (including here), but something about the Reddit voting system and user base seems to really bring that out, including all the fictional ask-me-anything threads and the like.
posted by Forktine at 8:55 AM on July 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am so torn about this. I do indeed think that young women need to KNOW this kind of stuff happens. When my own daughters were younger I clumsily tried to tell them they needed to be careful "even with nice guys" without necessarily bringing my own history into it AND THEY DIDN'T BELIEVE ME.

I understand totally why. They had plenty of nice male friends who they would never dream would do something like that. And it's not like I wanted to make them paranoid; I am fully aware that many men truly ARE "nice guys" who respect women. But what makes so many of us crazy is....you just can't tell sometimes which ones aren't . Until it is too late.


But that reddit thread hurts my heart.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:57 AM on July 28, 2012 [11 favorites]


I have never been sexually assaulted, yet reading that Jezebel article (I didn't dare to actually go to reddit) made me so absolutely sick to my stomach and cry. Sexual violence is so prevalent it's a little overwhelming to comprehend it and there seem to be no solutions. I agree with the Jezebel article that there is a need to hear the perpetrators to understand rape, but when they don't even understand their motivations, when they are so sexually frustrated, or angry, or raised in a culture that only values women for their sexuality, how does it help to hear from them other than to frustrate the situation more?
posted by peacrow at 8:57 AM on July 28, 2012


Jesus Christ. Yeah, I have no idea whether that "serial rapist" post was an exhibitionist fantasy by a damaged asshole, or a true account by a dangerous asshole, but I feel like I just threw up into my soul. I made it about two comments in before I had to close the window.

However, one of those comments at least was useful, and makes the only convincing argument I can imagine for that thread having any positive function at all.

You know. I think this thread is kinda positive.

Now when women on Reddit are yelled at for being cold, not giving our numbers out, being worried about sharing a drink with someone, etc. Maybe the guys will understand why.

The rapist above is probably charming, he looks perfectly normal, he is apparently really good at what he does. When women meet someone new we have to sort through all that and figure out if that person means us harm. Sometimes we get it wrong and there are false positives but when we guess in the wrong direction - look what happens, so cut us some slack.

posted by running order squabble fest at 9:00 AM on July 28, 2012 [43 favorites]


Running Order Squabble Fest, it rings pretty damn true.
posted by ChuraChura at 9:01 AM on July 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Agreed, ChuraChura: whether or not that particular poster did what he described, this is clearly a method adopted by men who know that their chances of being called to account are negligible.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:07 AM on July 28, 2012


The Daily Dot covers the story about the serial rapist, with links to some reactions.

I can't bring myself to read the reddit, either. I did read the Jezebel article yesterday, and it was thought-provoking in a good way.
posted by annsunny at 9:20 AM on July 28, 2012


Now when women on Reddit are yelled at for being cold, not giving our numbers out, being worried about sharing a drink with someone, etc. Maybe the guys will understand why.


The level of anger and rage directed toward women by some men who are treated warily is terrifying. My niece recently told me about a guy she met at a party who became furious when she refused his offer for a ride home from the party. He offered her a ride, she said she was going to wait for her friends to come pick her up, as had been scheduled. He became indignant that she assumed he had the potential to be a threat to her.
posted by The Sprout Queen at 9:21 AM on July 28, 2012 [12 favorites]


like we owe every guy a smile or a "yes"
posted by desjardins at 9:23 AM on July 28, 2012 [19 favorites]


There is a rather critical thread on Something Awful, "Glorifying Serial Rapists: Reddit Delenda Est" (if you aren't a member, the automatic replacement of "rape" with "surprise sex" makes it rather an odd read and does not reflect well on Something Awful).

People are reporting the serious crimes confessed within to the FBI Tips web site. I didn't think sexual assault was usually something the FBI went after, unless kidnapping was involved. Given we don't know what jurisdiction the crimes were committed in, is there a way to report this somewhere where someone will actually investigate? Reddit's offices are in San Francisco, so maybe the San Francisco District Attorney?
posted by grouse at 9:48 AM on July 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nevermind the FBI - pass that thread to Frank Castle.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:52 AM on July 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't know who Jim Hines is, but he seems not to understand how reddit, the internet or free speech work. The thread almost certainly contains some trolling along with the truth but either way it probably helps understand how some men rationalise the unacceptable, which I can only see as useful. It also provides a forum for others to try to explain to such men why what they did/do was/is unacceptable. But please, let's not lose sight of the fact that the set of "scary/infuriating abusive assholes on this reddit thread" is still a tiny proportion of the set of all men. And apart from the "scary/infuriating asshole" posts there are some very useful accounts which show men - and women - who know they fucked up badly, or nearly did, and are ashamed of it. Some of the posts there really do give insight.

What's most frustrating for me about the thread is that the upvoted comments that are staying are at least half (if not more) people saying "I did this totally sketchy thing and then the stupid bitch called me a rapist," further perpetuating the idea that most "rapists" are actually just good guys who were taken advantage of by sexually aggressive women who then felt bad about it afterwards. Or threads about how women just don't understand how hard it is for men to not be taken control of by their erect penis, and how can they blame men who are so much bigger than them for being driven by their biology.

Please understand that just a Mefi favorite does not necessarily signify approval, neither does an upvote at reddit. It very often signifies "I want this one to stay visible".
posted by Decani at 9:54 AM on July 28, 2012 [7 favorites]


Thinking the same:

so far i've read

"i stopped when it was clear she didnt consent"
"a girl raped me! it totally happens!"
"i didnt rape anyone, a girl lied!"
"she said 'not here' which isn't the same as 'no'"
"girl lies after we're both drunk"


The whole "serial_rapist_thread" was the poster boasting and then getting off on the attention.

Rape manual indeed.

Nuke the thread from orbit.
posted by BlueHorse at 10:03 AM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


According to the California Secretary of State, Reddit's address is now 4 Times Sq, New York, NY, 10036. Did they move to New York after Conde Nast bought them?
posted by grouse at 10:06 AM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Even if we assume, for sake of argument, that all of the "false rape accusation" stories are essentially true, they have absolutely no place in that thread. I don't understand why you'd post that story in there.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:08 AM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've tried to write something here about ten times, but I can't even...I want to be so precise but the whole issue is so loaded and painful.

The Jezebel article states, "Rapists aren't hiding in the bushes: around two-thirds of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim, and 73 percent of sexual assaults are perpetrated by a non-stranger."

I think this is an incredibly important statistic, and it shows that many, many rapes and sexual assaults are being perpetrated by regular guys who probably don't consider themselves bad guys or predators. And so I think there is value in hearing about the assaults from the perspective of those men, because those are the types of people we need to better educate in the future.

These "regular guys" are the perps and we need to know how to better educate male children so they don't assault or rape their girlfriends, friends, and acquaintances. That would be a much better solution than just teaching all our girl children to fear men and avoid being alone with them, which is where it always seems like the conversation goes.

I feel like comments on these topics always get mired in "I'm a total feminist y'all, but women need to be more aware! It's like not walking around a bad neighborhood with dollar bills hanging out of your pockets!" type commentary, which then leads to "Are you blaming the victims?!" and ugh, no progress is made.

I was sexually assaulted by my first boyfriend. Freshman year of college, and yeah, we partied a lot, drinking and drugs. He seemed like a perfectly nice guy. And then one night, we were messing around and he started to really hurt me, biting my face and holding my arms so tightly I had bruises the next day. And I told him to stop, and yelled at him to stop, but it was like he wasn't even home inside his head, and I was pinned under him until I got an arm free and punched him in the face until he rolled off me. I got dressed and left and the next day he called to ask where I went. Didn't remember a thing about it, I guess. I refused to see him again but never even considered filing charges.

I don't think I could've done anything differently, you know? We were dating, we'd spent many other nights together that went fine. I'd never seen anything in him to indicate this would happen. What could he have done differently? I'm not sure, but maybe hearing from men who have similarly assaulted women would help us to learn something.

And then he was the first person to send me a friend request, years later when I signed up for Facebook and I sometimes wonder, "How does he frame that night, if he even ever looks back on it?"
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:11 AM on July 28, 2012 [11 favorites]


But oh, I forgot to say I read the Jezebel article, bu am not even going to look at the Reddit, because even thought I think there might be some value in it, I simply cannot deal with the excuses and back-patting for bravery and so on.
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:14 AM on July 28, 2012


I don't know who Jim Hines is, but he seems not to understand how reddit, the internet or free speech work.

Please explain how this is a free speech issue.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:28 AM on July 28, 2012 [7 favorites]


Reddit seems to occupy the same space that Usenet once did. There are too many people and too many subreddits to keep track of.

Reddit is full of idiocy, awfulness, smartness, and goodness. I don't even particularly love Reddit, but writing off the whole site because of that one thread seems a bit silly. But hey, it's his life, he can choose to do an AMA or not.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:32 AM on July 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


Advance disclaimer I hate having to add but probably should: I have never committed rape and this is not intended to be a defence of those who have so much as a practical observation. I do not intend it as rape apologetics, but suspect it will be interpreted as such and would quite appreciate it if you didn't.

Second disclaimer: I do not have studies to say how widely applicable what I'm talking about here is. There is a reason I've been thinking about this, but any evidence I have is purely anecdotal.

Third disclaimer: There is a lot about the reddit thread that I would never attempt to defend. some of it is mindbogglingly awful. This is only intended to be a defence of the basic premise of hearing stories from rapists, and that I think there are some good examples of that in the thread (many cited by the Jezebel article).

Fourth disclaimer: As you can probably tell I think this comment may be a really bad idea. But I think it's an important point and it's something I've been worrying about recently, so I'm going to make it anyway.

A thing I've been pondering recently is how demonizing rapists can actually be harmful.

The problem is that by making rape a thing performed only by monsters it opens you up to the following line of fallacious reasoning:
  1. Only monsters rape
  2. I am / My friend is not a monster.
  3. Therefore what happened could not be rape / the victim is lying.
Rape is monstrous, but that does not mean that people who commit are necessarily monsters. They may be people who have fucked up royally. They may be people who acted genuinely maliciously but regret it and have reformed. Many of them probably are in fact awful people, but given the tragic prevalence of rapid it's likely that even if a small fraction are not that small fraction comes to a large number of people.

Why does this matter?

Because we want people to stop getting raped, and the way to do that is to stop people raping.

First, we want to stop people ever committing rape in the first place. And if you treat rape as a thing committed only by people who are monsters, people who are other, then... well, you're not a monster, so you don't really need to pay attention to all this advice about "yes means yes", because you would never rape someone, right?

Secondly, because people who have committed rape don't just disappear when they get caught. Sure, you can lock 'em up forever, or tattoo a big sign saying "RAPIST" on their forehead so everyone knows what they've done and is forewarned to avoid them, but if we believe in any sort of ethic of rehabilitation in justice then what we should want out of this is not punishment per se but to make them a better person who won't rape any more.

Is this always possible? No, I doubt it. But could many rapists grow to regret what they've done and mend their ways, either because they now understand the harm they've done when they didn't before, or how they'd failed to perceive the lack of consent, or simply because they've become a better person? I think so. I certainly hope so.

One of the complaints in the something awful thread is that this reddit thread "humanizes" rapists. And I can't help but feel that that's a good thing. The simple fact of the matter is that rapists are human, and as long as we fail to understand that it's unlikely that we're going to be able to effectively combat rape.
posted by DRMacIver at 10:36 AM on July 28, 2012 [49 favorites]


I'm disappointed by all the people who want this reddit thread to be destroyed, or the participants to be investigated. What is the line of reasoning behind this? I don't see any good in making conversations like this verboten - in fact, it seems to me like that's how it's been in the past, and it isn't helping. I think we need more discussion, more openness, more conversation, in order to solve this problem.

I also really dislike the labeling of "rapist" because it seems to create a divide between "good person" and "evil person." I think this is completely unhelpful because I don't believe there is such a distinction. Americans love to act like the good people just need to be on one side of the fence, and the bad people on the other, and everyone will be safe. But I think that everyone, even you reader, even myself, could commit terrible, horrible deeds if put in certain situations. There's nothing inherent about a person that makes them a "rapist." Rather, it is a sad fact of their life so far that they have been led to that situation via their history of socialization.

This is what rape culture is - a culture that leads people to commit rapes. There are many smaller parts of it, but the reason we fight against it is because of that simple fact.

My point is that, as a society, our job is not to root out the people who have been put in those situations and act like "Well we got rid of the rapists, our job is done." (note: I'm not saying I forgive them or accept them or anything.) Rather, our job is to target those social or physical situations that facilitate the crime taking place, and destroy them.
posted by rebent at 10:50 AM on July 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


I...uh...

Wow.

This stuff makes my head spin. I don't even know how to think of it. What percentage of males have these inclinations? Booze and drugs seem often involved... Is it the booze and drugs? For chrissake, say it's the booze and drugs...

The Jezebel selection of quotes is rather weird, though. One of them is a guy talking about a girl he thought acted in a very sexual way. Another is about a guy who starts making out with a girl, then decides neither one of them is really into it, then throws up on her. She then says it was rape...but if was, nothing in the other facts as represented support that claim.

Perhaps there's more information on Reddit, but I really don't think I can stomach the thread.

I remember when I was a kid, thinking that about half of males seemed like a different species than me...kinda like crazy, criminal, cavemen. I'm not wimpy nor fastidious nor any such thing...I seem like a largely regular guy... But if anything like the sort of thing in most of these stories is anything like normal...then maybe my childhood assessment was right...
posted by Fists O'Fury at 10:51 AM on July 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's a tough thread to read. Ordering it by newest may help separate the chaff of "not my fault" from the wheat of "please help me."
posted by infinitewindow at 10:57 AM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]




I'm disappointed by all the people who want this reddit thread to be destroyed, or the participants to be investigated. What is the line of reasoning behind this? I don't see any good in making conversations like this verboten - in fact, it seems to me like that's how it's been in the past, and it isn't helping. I think we need more discussion, more openness, more conversation, in order to solve this problem.

Well, they're admitting to committing a crime. If someone opened a murder thread on reddit, would we want to have more openness and discussion?

I understand your point about not wanting the conversations to be forbidden, but...I read a lot of that thread yesterday and the apologizing, excusing and handwaving is frankly appalling. I don't know that "discussion" is what is happening.
posted by sweetkid at 11:01 AM on July 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


In general, regarding the argument that this Reddit thread is a valuable source of desperately needed information, I'd go for a fairly emphatic "meh". There are many peer-reviewed interviews by sociologists and criminologists. It's not like this is the only possible source of that information.

If you want to read accounts by rapists, but you don't want to expend any more energy in doing so than going to Reddit, and you don't mind that this means that the information you are getting is unverified, unaudited, unattributed, highly partial and in many cases probably fictitious, being written in the pursuit of lulz and/or self-arousal, the thread is there, and will remain there.

However, that desire is probably not wholly compatible with a desire to have the best possible information when understanding the phenomenon, the better to eradicate it.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:07 AM on July 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


I also really dislike the labeling of "rapist" because it seems to create a divide between "good person" and "evil person."

Um. No. It creates a divide between "people who rape other people" and "people who do not rape other people". That is an important distinction.
posted by elizardbits at 11:12 AM on July 28, 2012 [38 favorites]


Holy fuck.

This post, that article, that thread have finally done what ten years of internal questioning and rationalization and compartmentalization and doubt could not do.

It is clear to me now that I was raped, by a coworker who had been one of my best friends for a decade prior and with whom there was ongoing sexual tension and maybe half a dozen hook-ups over the years. We only had sex once. That time.

I'm speechless.

I...

I guess for now I just want to say that this is very valuable to me, flawed and troubling as the Reddit thread is, and as much as anyone would assume I could have understood these things perfectly well without it. Thank you, the young rope-rider.
posted by argonauta at 11:23 AM on July 28, 2012 [10 favorites]


running order squabble fest: I would never claim the reddit thread was valid sociological information, or a good way to get an in depth understanding of the issues and motivations around rape.

But widespread has a virtue all of its own, and if it gets more people thinking about the right things then I think that's a good start.
posted by DRMacIver at 11:26 AM on July 28, 2012


Internet Male response to this anti-rape graphic has been so tooth-shatteringly frustrating.

DRMacIver's post has made me realize exactly why that graphic totally fails to get its message across, and why people have reacted to it the way they have: it condescendingly accuses men of being monsters. That is a great way to put men on the defensive; offend them; and cause them to reject the poster, whoever posts it, and its message.

I don't think that says anything in particular about men either. Coupling condescension with a very negative message like "you're a monster" is a great way to push people away. I'm sure there are anti-abortion flyers (for instance) that hit the same note.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 11:27 AM on July 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


it condescendingly accuses men of being monsters

No it doesn't. It makes its point with the humor and surprise of reversing all of the standard anti-rape advice, turning it from women's responsibility to not be raped ("Don't let someone put something in your drink") to being men's responsibility to not do the raping ("Don't put something in someone's drink"). How you get from that to "you're a monster" is beyond me.

And it's true. It is my responsibility to not do bad things sexually, just like it's my responsibility to not drive drunk, not be an ax murderer, and not torture puppies.
posted by Forktine at 11:36 AM on July 28, 2012 [52 favorites]


Please explain how this is a free speech issue.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:28 PM on July 28


Umm... I really don't know what to say to that. I was referring to Hines's take on the situation. It seems pretty clear to me that he felt the thread shouldn't exist, and he was asking for it to be removed. I'm struggling to understand why you seem to think that isn't pretty damned obviously related to questions of free speech.
posted by Decani at 11:37 AM on July 28, 2012


No it doesn't. It makes its point with the humor and surprise of reversing all of the standard anti-rape advice, turning it from women's responsibility to not be raped ("Don't let someone put something in your drink") to being men's responsibility to not do the raping ("Don't put something in someone's drink"). How you get from that to "you're a monster" is beyond me.

You don't think, "Don't steal anything when you visit someone's house" would be an offensive admonishment to most people?
posted by rr at 11:38 AM on July 28, 2012


That is a great way to put men on the defensive; offend them

wow i'm really sorry that my desire to not be raped offends men

lol wait no i'm not
posted by elizardbits at 11:39 AM on July 28, 2012 [60 favorites]


I guess for now I just want to say that this is very valuable to me, flawed and troubling as the Reddit thread is, and as much as anyone would assume I could have understood these things perfectly well without it. Thank you, the young rope-rider.
posted by argonauta at 7:23 PM on July 28


Things that give us valuable insights are often troubling. That's pretty much where I'm coming from in my defence of this reddit thread.
posted by Decani at 11:40 AM on July 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


wow i'm really sorry that my desire to not be raped offends men

That totally is not what I was trying to say.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 11:45 AM on July 28, 2012 [7 favorites]


wow i'm really sorry that my desire to not be raped offends men

well, we still haven't gotten the 'but this will make it harder to get dates!' contingent in the thread yet, accompanied by support in which the men who invariably make those or 'now, ladies, aren't you exaggerating a bit here, with your feeble lady brains?' comments are depicted as saintly characters who are mysteriously persecuted by the mean, mean women.
posted by winna at 11:48 AM on July 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's just another bullshit tone argument, dude. "Women shouldn't say things in this way, they should rethink their tone, the way they are expressing themselves is unhelpful because it upsets people, it's condescending and pushes people away, &c." Sorry, no.
posted by elizardbits at 11:50 AM on July 28, 2012 [29 favorites]


I just want to make it clear that I'm not disagreeing with the intent of the poster I was referring to. I was trying to make sense of some of the reactions to it, so maybe better posters can be made.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 11:51 AM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


You don't think, "Don't steal anything when you visit someone's house" would be an offensive admonishment to most people?

Are a significant percentage of the population having trouble remembering to not steal when they visit other people's houses? If so, then reminding them not to do so sounds like a great idea. (As does a moratorium on comparing rape to property crimes. There are better and less lazy comparisons that can be found, and it's worth the effort to do so.)

Many women are raped; many more will face some kind of sexual assault, violence from a partner, and/or harassment on the street. Saying "dude, don't do that!" may or may not be effective, but it certainly isn't rude. If you are already not doing those things, that's great. You and I can hang out together, drink a few beers, and enjoy not being harassers; sounds like a very pleasant evening to me. And indeed, most men aren't doing those things -- there was an FPP a long time back of a study claiming that the majority of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a small set of men.

But telling women to be more careful isn't enough; the social environment in which the perpetrators operate has to change, also, which is what that poster is getting at.
posted by Forktine at 11:52 AM on July 28, 2012 [6 favorites]


I was trying to make sense of some of the reactions to it

Right, and I am neither accusing you of disagreeing with the poster's intent or calling you a monster or a rapist or a rape apologist or whatnot. I'm saying that the arguments ("it's the WAY you're saying it that is the problem") you are putting forward are very reminiscent of the usual arguments used to silence women in discussions of sexism and women's rights and rape, and people will likely react badly to this.

yeah, i'm aware that telling you that the way you are saying things is bad about the way people are saying things is bad, is super ironic
posted by elizardbits at 11:56 AM on July 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, the difficulty with that poster is that it's really, really spot on for what it is—a witty and face-slapping inversion of typical "here's the checklist of things that your failure to do make you culpable for your own rape" approach to rape prevention stuff—but the target audience for it is not random duders but rather folks already embroiled in that discourse. It's a great, great critical commentary on the state of that discussion but removed from that context it's not hard to see why someone who wasn't walking around thinking of themselves as an active perpetuator of rape culture would read it as implying that they're, in fact, secretly walking around with those things on their to-do list.

So it's fantastic for what it is but what it is is sort of challenging and context-specific. When it breaks out of that context, things can get weird.
posted by cortex at 11:56 AM on July 28, 2012 [18 favorites]


Tone arguments may be a problem while tone itself is also a problem.

When people are put on the defensive they rarely behave in a manner that involves constructively listening to suggestions about how to improve their behaviour. Instead they justify themselves and explain why what they did wasn't so bad or that there were extenuating circumstances.

It really doesn't help to tell someone they shouldn't be offended or defensive. Even when you're right that's unlikely to change that feeling, and it's unlikely to fix the behaviour that results from it.
posted by DRMacIver at 12:05 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


And then he was the first person to send me a friend request, years later when I signed up for Facebook and I sometimes wonder, "How does he frame that night, if he even ever looks back on it?"

That whole post was a pretty good distillation of some of the problems inherent in this discussion. The Jezebel summary is too, for that matter.

How should he feel about it? How should you? And on further reflection about how to say what I want to say.. How stupid is my asking about "should" when it doesn't have any influence at all over how people will live with the aftermath.


From the Jezebel article, Charlotte Shane:
...our culture is unable to address rape with the sobriety and clarity the topic deserves because we are still unable to address sex with the sobriety and clarity it deserves.
Indeed. Just look at how this thread is starting to derail for proof that "should" is irrelevant on this topic.

elizardbits: It's just another bullshit tone argument, dude.

Yes, it is a tone argument, but tone matters. Tone is why MetaFilter doesn't do "I'd hit that" anymore.
posted by Chuckles at 12:09 PM on July 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


That Reddit is terrifying, but I knew it all along. I know firsthand that the veneer of propriety is very, very thin.

As a person who has been raped, and as an adult woman who was once a younger girl:

Parents of Mefi, please don't just think your guy friend is "not the type" of person to put the moves on and actually have sex with your young daughter. I trust NO MAN around my step-daughter, even her own father (who has NEVER given me a reason to think he's a molester or a rapist (or person who also rapes, if you like that better). Sorry if that makes you uncomfortable or defensive, men of the world, but really, truthfully, it wasn't 40 year old women raping me, it was Joe Normal. And you bet your ass it was rape, when the girl is a young teen and you're 35 years old, that's called statutory rape.

If I told the real number of completely random grown men who tried to have sex me or succeeded in having sex with me when I was WAY UNDERAGE, it would curl your hair. (and maybe you wouldn't even believe me)

I wonder how many guys on Reddit, Metafilter or any other place would admit to having so-called-by-the-rapist "consensual sex" with an underage girl? Schrodinger's statutory rapist. Sorry guys, I'm really hoping the men reading this don't "reject the message" or some such shit. Just watch your daughters, there are a lot of Joe Normals out there who think she's fair game. Don't get defensive, I know YOU are not a rapist. No, not you. You would never do that.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 12:14 PM on July 28, 2012 [6 favorites]


Oh man, statutory rape is yet another Pandora's box full of pain. Two men I know who had sex with teenagers when they (the men) were in their 20s claimed to me that they had never even heard of statutory rape. Failure of this state's education system? Failure of their parents? Somebody failed there.

cosmic.osmo, I would welcome your suggestions on what tone a campaign should take to educate men about not sexually assaulting and raping their girlfriends, friends, and acquaintances.

I'm genuinely curious - so many suggestions are lobbed at women all the time about preventing being raped but we can't talk to the possible perpetrators without people getting defensive.

How do we talk to boys and young men about not going there?
posted by Squeak Attack at 12:22 PM on July 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


I haven't read the reddit thread (nor the jezebel article) yet, but have had some experience telling male friends, "that thing you are describing that you did sounds a lot like rape," and generally trying to educate college-aged guys on not-raping. My Student Women's Association borrowed from another college and put up stop sign shaped "You hold the power to STOP rape" stickers (ok, the placement next to urinals in the mens washrooms was a bit provocative:-P) along with longer cards and pamphlets that just talked more neutrally about what rape was/what constitutes rape. The pamphlets were ignored. The stickers were vociferously opposed by a not insignificant though minority group of males on campus. It's not clear to me that it's possible to educate the young males who most need to hear this message in a way that will be noticeable and strong enough to get their attention without drawing tone arguments. I think a lot of the perceived harsh tone of such attempts has nothing to do with the actual tone and everuthing to do with the fact that, as DrMacIver noted, rapists (at least in North America?) are stereotyped as monsters in bushes, and our cultute has a tendancy to try to ignore the (I forget who coined the phrase re the Hollocaust) "banality of evil." We instead tell ourselves stories where people are either all good or all bad, not just people, who have done varying balances of good and bad deeds. The text of our stickets, for example, was almost identical in tone to Smokey the Bear says, "Only YOU can prevent forest fires!" (I'd say Smokey was even more accusatory, in fact.) Yet the response was markedly different.

Anyway, my conclusion from my personal experience is that (to a point) getting tone arguments on this issue means that your educational materials are actually effective, making people reevaluate their own actions.
posted by eviemath at 12:27 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some speculation on what to do instead:

I think yes means yes is a very good start.

Explain that people are complicated and tend to behave in ways that you might confuse for consent when they panic. Eg freezing

A focus on communication with sexual partners and empathy for victims rather than consent of partners and judgement for the perpetrators.

I'm not really sure beyond that. seeing what doesn't work is easy, but in order to see if something works you have to try it
posted by DRMacIver at 12:35 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


When people are put on the defensive they rarely behave in a manner that involves constructively listening to suggestions about how to improve their behaviour. Instead they justify themselves and explain why what they did wasn't so bad or that there were extenuating circumstances.

While I very much agree that demonizing rapists achieves nothing -- indeed, it likely makes things worse in just the manner you suggest -- I don't really think this is about "constructively listening" or getting people to "understand" why what they did is wrong. I suspect that the real mechanism by which societies become less violent is not through education or enlightenment. Modern society isn't profoundly less violent that that of even a hundred years ago because we're all so much smarter and enlightened than our ancestors. Really I think Foucault basically got it right: forms of violence are like most any other institution and they rise and fall with the faith people have in them. To eradicate violence the institution of violence must be delegitimized and then it will fall away like most any other institution.

Um. No. It creates a divide between "people who rape other people" and "people who do not rape other people". That is an important distinction.

And this is the form that faith takes: a distinct essentialism, a binary view of the world, a fantastic moral clarity, and, most importantly, a narrative of struggle which will supposedly lead to some kind of resolution.

I trust NO MAN around my step-daughter, even her own father (who has NEVER given me a reason to think he's a molester or a rapist (or person who also rapes, if you like that better).

It's difficult to imagine exactly what a world that no longer "believed" in rape would look like but I think it would have to begin with this idea that rape is something that occurs between two people or that it is something lurking in the dark hearts of men. A history of sexual violence would have to demonstrate how it pervades all power relations. (There is a clear between connection rape and hazing, and between rape and slut shaming, between rape and marriage.) Maybe there would have to be a physicality, a kind of legalistic bluntness to eliminate the nonsense stigma; you used sex as a weapon and that caused X, Y and Z harm. (Indeed, what is so ironic about rape, is that all the focus is on prevention because it is understood to be a crime so terrible that victims can never recover from it ie "rape is worse than death." This leads to very little conversation and study on the real harm caused by rape.) And really this narrative of struggle would have to be recognized as nonsense; most of us already understand that criminals are not monsters that are lurking around every corner, waiting to pounce the moment we drop our guard, and nothing is to be gained by believing it but somehow this belief doesn't extend to sexual criminals (see, pedophiles and the sex offender registry).

What's clear is that our society still has a tremendous faith in rape as something "mysterious and terrible" and that so long as it does the demon will haunt us. Reading that reddit thread what I take away first and foremost is not that rape is prevalent or that "anybody is a rapist." It's that a lot of these kids can't even begin to talk about or understand themselves as sexual beings. There is something almost tragic about all the posts because there is the real sense that while many of the men may claim differently, I don't think anything really changed. Like a lot of reddit threads it contains a great deal of ignorance, arrogance, and deception. But who can blame them? It's clear they never had teachers.
posted by nixerman at 12:50 PM on July 28, 2012 [9 favorites]


Umm... I really don't know what to say to that. I was referring to Hines's take on the situation. It seems pretty clear to me that he felt the thread shouldn't exist, and he was asking for it to be removed. I'm struggling to understand why you seem to think that isn't pretty damned obviously related to questions of free speech.

I think you may not know what to say to this because you are having some trouble remembering what you initially said, which is a little odd because I quoted it. But no problem - that's easily fixed.

You said that Hines seemed not to know how Reddit, the Internet or free speech worked, not "this is related to questions of free speech". Lots of things are related to questions of free speech. That's such a vague statement, without qualification, as to be almost totally meaningless, which I assume is why you didn't make it initially.

You also seem to be having trouble remembering what I asked. Again, this is odd, because you quoted it. But, again, that's easily remedied.

I asked you to explain how this was a free speech issue. I did not ask "do you think this is in some way related to questions of free speech?". Again, lots of things are in some way related to questions of free speech, to the point that such a question, without qualification, would be almost totally pointless - which is why I didn't ask it initially. I am also not asking it now.

Regarding the statement you actually made, and the question I actually asked, let me offer some Cliff's Notes to explain why I was asking for elucidation, in the hope it will lead to greater clarity.

Hines is not a government agency, or a senior executive at Advance Publications. He does not have the power to remove the thread from the Internet legally, nor is he planning to do so using illegal or unorthodox means - such as hacking or DDoSing. Nor is he advocating that this should be done by anyone else.

Not liking particular forms of content is not a free speech issue, AFAICT. Believing that Reddit should not provide a platform for certain forms of content is also not a free speech issue, again AFAICT, since Reddit is a private company providing a service on which it makes money. Reddit has no moral obligation in freedom of speech terms to publish everything, any more than MetaFilter has a moral obligation in freedom of speech terms never to delete a double post.

Nor does Reddit have as a core principle that it will publish everything - most obviously, it has previously removed not just threads but whole subreddits dedicated to legal but controversial activity, such as the posting of non-pornographic pictures involving underage models. It does have as a core principle that it will incline towards leaving legal content undeleted, and let the process of peer upvoting and downvoting decide what is seen.

If you read the whole post, Hines makes a statement not incommensurate with this understanding of how Reddit works: Reddit, as I understand it, prides itself on a relative lack of moderation and an “anything goes” approach. To quote one member, “It allows any voice to be heard no matter how uneducated, insensitive or outright wrong.” However, this is about editorial policy, not free speech. Nobody whose content is removed from Reddit is compelled never to circulate it again, nor is removal from Reddit the same as removal from the Internet or from the sum of human knowledge.

Hines is exercising his freedom of speech in saying he does not think the existence of the thread on Reddit is a good thing, and indeed exercising his freedom of association by deciding, on the strength of that, not to go forward with a plan to use Reddit to promote his book with an AMA (the quid pro quo being, as with any Reddit thread, the page views and ad revenue brought to Reddit by the content, for which the thread starter is not being paid).

If you read the whole of Hines' post, you see him say:
Given the nature of Reddit as an open, relatively unmoderated community, I don’t expect this to happen.
His response to this is not to launch a DDoS on Reddit, or to petition the government to close Reddit down, or to contact Advance Publications and petition them to close Reddit down, or to hack the Gibson and ensure that nobody can ever read or post any of the content in that Reddit thread. It is to voice his opinion.

So, that leaves free speech, and the question of how this is free speech issue. Quod est demonstrandum.
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:52 PM on July 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


I can't figure out what to do to shield my son from absorbing horrible messages about sex and consent from the larger culture and his peers. It's hard to explain to someone that you think they are at risk of committing sexual assault, and yet I think it is as important as teaching him not to hit or steal. Where is the script for this? Why is everything about warning our daughters instead of our sons?
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:55 PM on July 28, 2012 [39 favorites]


In general, regarding the argument that this Reddit thread is a valuable source of desperately needed information, I'd go for a fairly emphatic "meh".

Just because you have determined that a source of information is boring and that there are other highly respected sources available to the motivated reader does not mean that the thread should not exist. There are brows for every reading level, peer-sanctioned or not and you are just going to have to get used to that. It's democratization of information and however painful this may be for the academic community, it makes for a more interesting world for the lay person to live in. We're also in the majority so good luck trying to squash it.

On the other hand you seem to ignore the connection between posting to the internet and free speech. Suggesting that the thread be excised and the reader be pointed towards other resources is a futile attempt to stifle the very free speech that makes posting in an anonymous forum so exciting to the average participant. You're being somewhat prudish about all of the gambling taking place in the very casino that you purposely visited.

Also, Jim Hines is no stranger to Reddit and making such requests are highly hypocritical from a person expecting to garner economic renumeration from by exploiting very people who participate in Reddit discussions. It was a thread regarding sexual assault from the assailant POV where he drew the line, but none of the other stuff that came before it? Or was it just the timing? That part I can understand, the economics of Mr. Hines' intentions.
posted by jsavimbi at 1:01 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


When people are put on the defensive they rarely behave in a manner that involves constructively listening to suggestions about how to improve their behaviour. Instead they justify themselves and explain why what they did wasn't so bad or that there were extenuating circumstances.

As a young female I am on the defensive all the time. Walking to the grocery store. Out with friends. On the bus. In my car. People have approached me and pushed my boundaries in just about every public/social setting I can think of outside of family gatherings. It is frequent and blatant. I don't mind if a guy feels defensive about my criticisms of his behavior or the behavior of the group to which he belongs. This is not a comfortable topic for anyone. No one needs to feel good about discussing it to discuss it. I feel uncomfortable and defensive when I talk about sexual assault. But here I am. Trying to be productive.

I don't think people who rape are monsters. They are just people, who have behaved reprehensibly and need to stop behaving that way, never behave that way again. I've had male friends who described sexual encounters to me that were clearly not consensual. When I brought that up, I tried not to make them feel defensive. I tried to treat them with consideration. 90 minutes later, and with every ounce of my reservoir of patience gone, it would feel like I'd "gotten somewhere." Until the next time they described such an encounter to me. I guess I preserved their self-esteem, at least.

Behaving badly isn't supposed to feel good. It's supposed to feel bad. That's how shame works. I'm down with people feeling bad about behaving badly if that's what it takes to get them to stop that behavior.

What is behaving badly? Not getting explicit consent. No means no and if you are not one-hundred-percent-sure-that-they-said-yes-I-could-defend-it-in-a-court-of-law, ask. It takes like, three seconds.

I come at this from the perspective of a young female. But this doesn't have to be about men assaulting women. This is about anybody assaulting anybody. I hope I'm clear here that I include every single person in the world in the "set of people from whom one needs to obtain consent."
posted by newg at 1:12 PM on July 28, 2012 [33 favorites]


Just because you have determined that a source of information is boring and that there are other highly respected sources available to the motivated reader does not mean that the thread should not exist. There are brows for every reading level, peer-sanctioned or not and you are just going to have to get used to that. It's democratization of information and however painful this may be for the academic community, it makes for a more interesting world for the lay person to live in. We're also in the majority so good luck trying to squash it.

The "meh" here did not mean boredom, but a lack of conviction - I didn't find the argument interesting., not the source of information. This is why I wrote:

In general, regarding the argument that this Reddit thread is a valuable source of desperately needed information, I'd go for a fairly emphatic "meh".

and not:

In general, regarding [...] this [...] source of [...] information, I'd go for a fairly emphatic "meh".

I think that when it comes to a difficult and sensitive topic like this, paying attention to all the words in a sentence is pretty much the lowest bar for entry.

I am aware that there are sources of information for people who want to read such accounts, for whatever reason, and do not wish to take the time or effort to ensure that what they are reading does not contain fiction or fantasies written for the sexual excitement of the writer.

I don't know if "you" are in the majority, there, but I certainly acknowledge the existence of the group, and I am sure you will be able to find things that are interesting to you.

I'm quite glad you use the word "interesting", actually, as it helps to clarify what you are looking for.

On the other hand you seem to ignore the connection between posting to the internet and free speech. Suggesting that the thread be excised and the reader be pointed towards other resources is a futile attempt to stifle the very free speech that makes posting in an anonymous forum so exciting to the average participant. You're being somewhat prudish about all of the gambling taking place in the very casino that you purposely visited.

Likewise, it is useful that you used the word "exciting" here. And that you described me as "prudish". It is, again, quite a handy elucidation of what you are looking for. I do not believe that in the case of that Reddit thread you are in the majority - I certainly hope that most people are not reading it because it is exciting, or find a lack of enjoyment of it "prudish". But I can certainly take it on trust that you do, if that is what you are telling us.

However, I would like you to quote where I have said that the thread should be excised.

I understand that, if your primary aim is to be interested or excited in your interactions with message boards, you are probably not going to be reading too closely - that would defeat the object, because it would be boring - but you probably still shouldn't just randomly make stuff up - at least, not on MetaFiliter. You are, of course, free to do whatever you like on the big, wide Internet.

Regarding free speech, please see above.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:24 PM on July 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


DRMacIver, I think those are all good suggestions.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 1:30 PM on July 28, 2012


Parents of Mefi, please don't just think your guy friend is "not the type" of person to put the moves on and actually have sex with your young daughter. I trust NO MAN around my step-daughter, even her own father (who has NEVER given me a reason to think he's a molester or a rapist (or person who also rapes, if you like that better). Sorry if that makes you uncomfortable or defensive, men of the world, but really, truthfully, it wasn't 40 year old women raping me, it was Joe Normal. And you bet your ass it was rape, when the girl is a young teen and you're 35 years old, that's called statutory rape.

But it wasn't Joe Normal. It was some sick fuck.
posted by kbanas at 1:44 PM on July 28, 2012 [8 favorites]


The simple fact of the matter is that rapists are human, and as long as we fail to understand that it's unlikely that we're going to be able to effectively combat rape.

"Human" only in the sense that they can be the guy next door, or across the street, or from church, or in the next cubicle, or across the conference room table, or in your own family, etc. I don't think we should be generically calling rapists "human" as if rape is typical or expected behavior. I think that's on the slippery slope to blaming victims: "...what did you expect?...guys are only human...you shouldn't have dressed/talked/walked like that if you didn't want to get raped...".

I guess for now I just want to say that this is very valuable to me, flawed and troubling as the Reddit thread is, and as much as anyone would assume I could have understood these things perfectly well without it. Thank you, the young rope-rider.
posted by argonauta at 7:23 PM on July 28

Things that give us valuable insights are often troubling. That's pretty much where I'm coming from in my defence of this reddit thread.


Me too. As horrific as it was (and I only read the serial_rapist_thread part of it), I think if it helped one woman realize the truth about what was done to her, then that thread served a good purpose.
posted by fuse theorem at 1:48 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Regarding free speech, please see above.

Your statist view of what constitutes free speech is all well in good within the confines of a courtroom where it can be dissected and debated by competent authorities on the subject. Your view as how it does or does not apply to a private enterprise in the United States, well, just go ask the owners of Digg how their meddling played out. If you can somehow legalese your mindset to be aligned with that of Mr. Hines then there is no point in further discussion as it seems that you do not want to understand how this thing works or least acknowledge that moral suasion on the internet is a highly-regarded phenomenon.

Self-interested entities like Reddit have a responsibility to safeguard their investment but when their investments are directly tied into the abilities granted to the product, user self-expression, things become a lot more complicated than just accommodating the chaste interests of a potential contributor, let alone someone who has taken a position such as yours. Free speech is a funny thing when it migrates from the public to the private sector. Just ask anyone who's been on the losing end of a socio-economic boycott.

It is, again, quite a handy elucidation of what you are looking for.

Maybe I'm misreading you but are you assuming that I was looking for kink in that Reddit thread? Lol. Actually, I have not read it, beyond glancing over what was copied to the Jezebel article. I don't have much interest in the content making up the lives of that demographic. The excitement I was referring to pertained to the psychology of anonymous participation, subsequent feedback and other sensory-acquired human relations, not the sensitivities of this particular topic.
posted by jsavimbi at 1:53 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your statist view of what constitutes free speech is all well in good within the confines of a courtroom where it can be dissected and debated by competent authorities on the subject.

It's cool, jsavimbi - you've made it pretty clear that I am not talking to a competent authority here.

As has already been said, which you would have seen if you had actually read my "statist view", Reddit has already removed content on grounds of taste and due to popular protest - there was a thread on MetaFilter about it, in fact. The rest is just use cases.

But to clarify for anyone else with similar problems - since I notice you were not able to find any point where I actually called for the thread to be excised:

I don't think the thread will be removed, and there are plenty of arguments for its utility, which you can try to glean from the Jezebel page if you'd like, or from this thread. However, presenting it as a viable source of useful psychological insight in how to understand and communicate better with the menz, and particularly with rapists - the argument to which I was actually responding - is unwise, due to the information contained therein likely being highly partial, unreliable and in some cases totally fictitious. QED.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:05 PM on July 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


From the Daily Dot article:

“I worry [the Reddit thread] will reinforce the myth that not raping someone is hard to do and most rapists are nice guys who just got a little horny,” commented Amanda Marcotte at Feministe. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

If that's really as far from the truth as you can get, that means rapists are all psychopaths, doesn't it? That's as far as I can get from "nice guys who just got a little horny".

Okay, but her point was probably more like, "rape is not normal, and if you rape someone, there's something wrong with you." Harder to disagree with. But, well: look how many of these stories have the rapist falling-down drunk at the time of the act. That was clearly something that was wrong with them at the time.

Not that all drunk people rape, of course. Most of them just talk funny and fall asleep in uncomfortable positions. But there's a significant portion of drinkers who do it as a form of foreplay.

When people drive drunk, we don't say they are psychopaths for doing so. Mostly we say they made a bad decision, and need to take responsibility for it, possibly including jail time. We don't get an opportunity to say that unless they get involved in an accident.

Apparently the negotiation of sexual consent while under the influence is easier and more respectable than the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence. At least, when I suggest that drunken hook-ups are unhealthy or morally questionable, I'm not often taken seriously. Or, I don't know, maybe it's the sort of thing that's like telling people not to play football because of the high risk of lasting brain damage--the force of tradition overrules me.

At any rate drunk hook-ups are in fact normal, or at least common and largely unremarkable. I find it unsurprising that normal people become bad communicators when drunk. I find it unsurprising that normal people become less empathetic when drunk. Put those two together and it's actually not inconceivable that a normal person who is drunk and turned on and not the best at risk-assessment at the best of times might end up violating consent without really meaning to.

I guess that the disregard for his own welfare and that of others might mean that guy is not nice, but he's not a monster either.

I wonder why we don't look at that guy the same way we look at the drunk driver? Is it just because his victim is more likely to survive the experience and express their horror?
posted by LogicalDash at 2:28 PM on July 28, 2012 [9 favorites]


It's hard to explain to someone that you think they are at risk of committing sexual assault, and yet I think it is as important as teaching him not to hit or steal. Where is the script for this? Why is everything about warning our daughters instead of our sons?

I don't have children. However, I do have the experience of being male, so here's my suggested talk, and I would suggest a variation of this talk for daughters too just so they can understand better what goes on in a boy's head.

Let me start this off by saying I have never raped or assaulted anyone. If told no or pushed off or some other negative signal was given, I've always backed off. But, and here's the huge but, I've come much closer than I ever wanted to raping someone. It can happen to a man at any age, but, for me, it was much worse between the ages of 16-28.

What happens is sometimes, but not every time the man is horny, this beast takes over. There's this intensity which comes out of nowhere, and almost takes over any normal conscious thought. It doesn't matter how nice or decent a person you are in reality, this beast wants what it wants and it's very hard to stop.

I said hard (no pun intended) but not impossible. However, it's still a form of temporary insanity and this is why it is very important to know what your partner wants before things get to a dangerous point. And, its very important to never let it take over. Once you've learned the signs of this thing coming over you and understand a bit of what's happening, you can learn not to lose control.

There will be times when your needs feel so much more important than the girl's needs. There's no possible way you feel like you can stop. But you can. Do whatever you have to do to end your internal tension. Count to ten. Count your breaths. In a couple of situations where the 'no' came suddenly in an incredibly steamy makeout session in college, I immediately headed to the bathroom and took care of myself. Which probably sounds a bit silly and gross, but it works surprisingly well. It lets you think clearly again and you don't hurt anyone else, especially if you're conscientious enough to clean up after yourself.

Both boys and girls need to be taught something like this. For me, I kissed a girl for the first time at 16 and this thing just hit me like a ton of bricks wrapped in a ton of porn mags. Far far worse than the surprise boners you'd get from sitting behind the cheerleader in Algebra. I never expected this sort of feeling and it was really disconcerting, since I hate losing any sort of control.

Tell boys this is a natural feeling but they can never ever lose control of themselves, even when they're with a partner who wants to fuck. Tell them to always remember, even when they're horny beyond belief, that the other person is a person and not just an orifice. And if all else fails, tell them to walk away, count to ten, or even jerk off (hopefully in a more or less private place) before they violate the unwilling person they're with. Tell your boy you don't think he will ever be a rapist, but he needs to know what happens, and the warning signs, since many very nice and polite boys, just like him, have lost control and raped their partners.

Girls need to know this about boys. They'll figure it out very very quickly when they start to date boys, but they should get the warning clear in advance. This happens to many men, maybe most men, and it will probably happen to the sweet and shy, poetry-writing, kitten-loving boy she likes. Not to say that the sweet and shy boy will rape her on a date, but just to be aware this can happen with any male and to recognize the warning signs. I don't know what I would tell my (theoretical) daughters beyond this, but it's a start.

For both boys and girls, tell them the boy's impulses have the potential to get a million times worse if the boy's been drinking.

I suppose this advice is overly simplistic but it's a start. If more boys had training about how to deal with the immensity and insanity of their horniness, perhaps there would be fewer rapes.
posted by honestcoyote at 3:03 PM on July 28, 2012 [8 favorites]


LogicalDash: people who drive drunk actually are murderous (though maybe only temporarily psychopaths, and maybe only because of being drunk). If a person takes those kinds of risks with others wellbeing, alcohol may well be a contributing cause, but it is no excuse. Just like excessive drinking risks turning driving into murder, it risks turning sex into rape.
posted by idiopath at 3:07 PM on July 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Note to men everywhere who seem to not know this:

We understand that you get violently, miserably horny. Women get violently, miserably horny, too, and stopping suddenly without having sex that we really really want is horribly frustrating to us, too.

However, our entire lifetimes have taught us that our sexuality is dirty and something to be ashamed of, that we are not entitled to sexual pleasure, and that our needs should always be subordinate to yours.

Thus, we tend to not rape you, or even tell you just how violently, miserably horny we are. But we are.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:23 PM on July 28, 2012 [27 favorites]


even tell you just how violently, miserably horny we are. But we are.

Yeah, because then men think we want to bone them immediately and that is not really the case.

me: wow tom hardy is super hot and i would bone him a lot
some dude who is not tom hardy: *this means liz wants my dick and i should touch her butt*
me: back up off my butt sir your touch is not wanted
some dude who is not tom hardy: BUT YOU SAID YOU WERE INTO SEXY THINGS

ugh
posted by elizardbits at 3:29 PM on July 28, 2012 [14 favorites]


Girls need to know this about boys. They'll figure it out very very quickly when they start to date boys, but they should get the warning clear in advance. This happens to many men, maybe most men

It happens to women, too. Trust me. So maybe this isn't the best explanation to give children as a way to avoid raping or being raped. Having heard this as a teenage girl would have made me feel like utter shit -- not only did I have extreme arousal issues, but there were no boys around that were trying to get into my pants, and if all boys have this beast that they have to deal with but no boys are trying to unleash their beast on me, what does that say about me?

There's got to be a better way to explain this that doesn't pin it all on uncontrollable hormones, because again, huuuuuge chunks of the population feel like this, male and female both, and yet they manage not to rape anyone.
posted by palomar at 3:29 PM on July 28, 2012 [12 favorites]


Like many, I have found this Reddit post and the responses very hard to deal with, mainly the many many people who made some kind of excuse or minimization. I read a lot of it yesterday when it was linked from Shakesville. Nowadays I only read Reddit by going through SRS and here's the link to one of their posts on it for any interested. Every time I try to say anything it all gets jumbled in my head so I'll just leave those links and go back to reading.
posted by Danila at 3:32 PM on July 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's hard to explain to someone that you think they are at risk of committing sexual assault, and yet I think it is as important as teaching him not to hit or steal. Where is the script for this? Why is everything about warning our daughters instead of our sons?

Honestly, it's not that hard or difficult, boys are people too. Basic lessons in civility and respecting boundaries would be a start and then frank discussions about rape and that no means no and yes means yes and hey remember what we've said about about civility and respecting boundaries.

And then, like everything else with a child, you let them go and hope they've learned what you've taught them.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:33 PM on July 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


I was 15. I was a good girl. I didn't drink, didn't party, made straight As (except I was dumb in math, but that didn't make me a bad girl).

He was a 17, and we were dating. He was a young deacon in his church. Also a straight-A student. Also didn't drink. He was known, in retrospect, for being a little overbearing about his Bible preaching, but was probably seen as an upstanding (if annoying) young man.

The first time, we were in a 12-passenger church van, on our way to a youth revival at a suburban mega church about 90 minutes away from home. He and I were in the back seat. My friends were in the couple rows in front of us. People usually tend to face forward in vans and buses and whatnot.

It was a cold day. My band letter jacket (yep, band geek!) was at my feet, and he picked it up and draped it over my lap. He then unzipped my pants, worked hand inside them, got past my ugly white underwear, and got himself inside me. I tried to stop him, but he was a foot taller than me, and I didn't have a chance. I sat still and frozen, not sure what to do. What can you do? My friends were right there in front of me. If they caught me, I was implicit. I didn't want to be known as the girl who gave it up in the back of the church van full of people, so I tightened my lips and looked out the window an counted the exit ramps and the fast food signs and tried to stay out of the youth director's view in the rear view mirror, because what if he thought I looked funny?

We got to the mega church, and we went in to praise Jesus with thousands of other young good christians. This was in the south, and lots of them raised their palms upward in praise. The guy I was dating swayed back and forth and, instead of raising his hands to the sky, smelled his fingers for two hours. Probably also in a sort of praise.

I went home feeling guilty. I felt guilty for what I LET him do to me. I felt guilty because I must not have fought hard enough. I felt guilty -- and still do -- because I wonder if he thinks I wanted it, and that's what motivated him. (I didn't, and never gave any indication that I did.)

That was the first time.

The second time, we were in the TV room in my parents' house. It used to the be workshop off the garage, but was converted into another bedroom, so it was quite a ways away from everyone/everything. Again, I was a good kid. I never, ever wanted to get in trouble, for anything. And I never, ever intended to get in trouble for premarital sex. I was a good girl. I intended to wait.

We were watching Monty Python. He was a fan. He was a nerd, and would recite lines from Monty Python's Flying Circus in a horrible, affected, southern, fake british accent. (And to this day, though I appreciate the humor, I have a hard time watching those shows.) We were watching the one about the dead parrot. He was on top of me and had my bra up around my neck. It felt so strange. I know why now, but at the time I didn't understand why it felt like he had a big rock in his pants. It was uncomfortable, him being on top of me, us both fully clothed. I couldn't breathe.

I kept telling him to stop, and he finally did. We sat up on the couch. But he then went into my pants, again. He didn't go inside me that time, but he moved his hand in such a way and for so long that -- and I have never admitted this -- I had an orgasm. I kept it to myself, because I was ashamed, and still am.

About 15 minutes later, him still going at it, we heard my mom coming. He snapped to, I threw my sweater down over my waistband, and we sat there, pretending to be transfixed on Michael Palin and a stuffed parrot.

That was the second time. I didn't want it then, either, but I felt guilty. Still do.

Only thing I could have done to stop it (according to my thinking at the time) is run into the other room and tell my parents and be labeled as Fast. Now I know better. Now I know I could have knocked him over the head with a vase and they would have backed me up. But at 15? At 15??

To this day, I don't know what to call what happened to me. When I feel like I need to tell somebody, for whatever reason, the easiest shorthand is "I was raped at 15." But was it really even rape? Am I entitled to call it that? It certainly affected me like a back-alley rape, but something in me tries to mitigate it, tries to take that power away from me, and in some sense tries to excuse him, because I must have caused it or endorsed it somehow.

And that's where the rape-is-a-power-thing really wins out over the rape-is-a-sex-thing. This was 25 years ago. It's ancient history. He's ancient history. But I still think about it. Often. And more often than just when threads like this or stories like this appear.

I don't know if he ever knew he did something wrong. I don't really care to know. Actually, I'd rather not know. He's married now, with kids, and is still a church nut. I can imagine that if he were a poster on Reddit, he would post an articulate explanation of why he was motivated to do what he did, and how bad he feels about it now. But you know what? It would just be another empty explanation, and I don't really give a fuck how he feels about it.

I never flirted. I never drank. I never wore sexy clothes. And even if I had, none of that is an excuse.

There is never an excuse. There is never an acceptable explanation. The only way we get past this is by acknowledging that -- all of us.

The Jezebel article talks about honesty, and having an open discussion about all this. I have never told my family about any of what happened to me. I am still afraid that they will blame me for being the slut that I categorically was NOT.

I have typed this out, and have told the whole story for the first time. I am going to post it with a sockpuppet because I don't trust people who might come in here for an outside community and do... whatever. I don't know. If anyone here needs to talk about what's happened to them, though, please memail me.

Meantime, maybe posting this here can serve as evidence that even seemingly Bambi-innocent situations can lead to sexual assault. I don't know how we prevent that. I wish I did. I guess threads like this are one step.
posted by Seahorse, rode hard and put away wet at 3:52 PM on July 28, 2012 [20 favorites]


Firstly, the young rope-rider, thanks for putting together this post.

I keep typing and deleting what I want to share, because reading the Reddit thread and the Jezebel article have stirred up a lot of thoughts about vulnerability, blame, regret and forgiveness.
I was processing the stories solely from the point of view of "there but for the grace of ..." and reviewing my own past - how close I had come to being sexually assaulted, and wondering how the 'justifications' for rape, if it had happened to me, would have sounded - when I had an "Oh My God" moment, and something swam up out of the past to hit me.

Not rape, but an act during consensual sex that was terrifying, dangerous, and deliberately non-consensual.
His motivation, reflection (if any), past and future? I don't care. Not important.
What I am having a hard time chewing over is how I reacted at the time and afterwards, why I let it pass without comment, why I swept even the memory so firmly under the carpet.

I have two sons, and they have their father to give them the example and perspective of a decent man, but I have a lot of work to do making sense of my own experiences before I can come up with any sort of script about sexual ethics for them.

Understanding vulnerability and trust seems to be key.
posted by Catch at 4:16 PM on July 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


The simple fact of the matter is that rapists are human, and as long as we fail to understand that it's unlikely that we're going to be able to effectively combat rape.

"Human" only in the sense that they can be the guy next door, or across the street, or from church, or in the next cubicle, or across the conference room table, or in your own family, etc. I don't think we should be generically calling rapists "human" as if rape is typical or expected behavior. I think that's on the slippery slope to blaming victims: "...what did you expect?...guys are only human...you shouldn't have dressed/talked/walked like that if you didn't want to get raped...".
I suppose I can see how it could be read that way, but that's certainly not what I intended to convey.

Humans are capable of doing terrible things. We're heartbreakingly good at it in fact. Acknowledging that someone is human in no way forgives or condones their behaviour. It is instead a step along the way to understanding how that behaviour arose, acknowledging that there is no special unique evil nature to them that makes them distinct from normal people who could never do those things, and thus taking steps to ensure that it does not happen again.
posted by DRMacIver at 4:23 PM on July 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't think people who rape are monsters. They are just people, who have behaved reprehensibly and need to stop behaving that way, never behave that way again. I've had male friends who described sexual encounters to me that were clearly not consensual. When I brought that up, I tried not to make them feel defensive. I tried to treat them with consideration. 90 minutes later, and with every ounce of my reservoir of patience gone, it would feel like I'd "gotten somewhere." Until the next time they described such an encounter to me. I guess I preserved their self-esteem, at least.
To be clear, I'm not trying to say "Don't hurt rapists' feelings".

I'm saying there is a large range between "You have hurt someone badly. This is not at all ok, and you should feel terrible about it and use that to make sure it doesn't happen again" and "You are an inhuman monster", and the majority of the rhetoric around rape seems right up against the "monster" end of the spectrum, and the closer you get to that end of the spectrum the more likely you are to provoke an unhelpful reaction.

I don't know what to suggest about people who pay lip service about making progress and then repeat offend over again. It does suggest a softer approach isn't working there, but I don't know what would.
posted by DRMacIver at 4:39 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


To add to honestcoyote's advice for young boys/men...

When the situation goes south, escape.
If you're feeling completely overcome admit your feelings and if they don't echo them totally and complete, just leave, end the situation. Don't stay and cuddle, don't try and change their mind, don't try and stay at the level of sexual activity that they're comfortable with and you're incapable of being satisfied with. Get out of there.

Remove yourself from the situation. If you can go be around other people. End the privacy end the intimacy. Go home if you have to. Forget about what your friends will think, if your partner asks you to stay, explain to them you have to go and sort it out later. Just get the hell out. Go as far away as you have to. If the other room is not far enough leave the building, if that's not far enough, leave the neighborhood. Just run away as fast as you can. If you're drunk or disoriented call someone you trust.

It's almost exactly the same reason you walk away from someone who you are feeling like you want to fight: You're having an irrational reaction to this person, satisfaction can only be gained through violence, and it's just not worth it.

Be careful of putting yourself in situations you'll find it difficult to extricate yourself from if you have to. That just adds unnecessary weight to the situation.

Don't worry about how it will make people think of you. If your friends ask 'WTF?' just tell them the truth, the situation went south and you had to leave and clear your head. Don't worry about hurting your partner's feeling--I'm not a woman but I feel pretty certain that there's no women who wouldn't prefer that you bolt into the night rather than pretend against your own nature that you're some ideal nice sensitive guy who can stay and 'just cuddle' and then end up raping or pressuring them.

You're not always going to feel this way and in fact, when you're just starting out, you probably shouldn't even attempt to have sex when you're in this state or with anyone who you react this way to. You have to accept that when you're in this mode there's only two good outcomes, really great consensual sex with a partner who is in an obvious and similar hormonal state to you or no sex at all. The negative outcomes are innumerable and 'no sex at all' is infinitely better than every single one of them.

And have some goddamn self-respect, you should never have to convince anyone to have sex with you and any sex you need to pressure or convince someone into isn't worth having.

So, just run away. It's better for you to run away yourself than to have someone run away from you or want to run away from you, be afraid to, and just go along.

That's what I would tell my son if I had one.
posted by yonega at 5:10 PM on July 28, 2012 [13 favorites]


One of the problems I have with the Reddit post is that many of the rapists are posting for support and they are receiving support. Being too harsh with them gets downvotes and pushback. The atmosphere is like a rapist support group, and since so many of these people are very narcissistic that just means they're holding court. So I'm not sure what we can really learn about rapists because I think these stories are heavily filtered to make them look as good as possible. In the few cases where the rapist/attempted rapist does really feel bad about what they did, the supportive atmosphere leads many people to try to make them feel better or outright assert they did nothing wrong. There are also a bunch of highly upvoted "I was falsely accused of rape!" and "I was tricked by a Lolita!" stories in there for some reason.
posted by Danila at 5:11 PM on July 28, 2012 [8 favorites]


As another mom of a boy and a feminist...

I'd say:

- surround your son with good role models and talk openly with them about concerns you have

- teach compassion and respect in every aspect of life. Talk about it non judgementally when they are thoughtless, and encourage them to be their best selves by saying things like "that remark seemed a bit mean, that's not like you, is something wrong?" to encourage them to re-direct fears and anger into positive actions not negative ones., and to think of themselves as someone who can do that.

- talk openly about sexuality. Talk about sex being confusing and overwhelming when it is new, or when you are nervous, and how you may feel ready to have sex, and then the next minute not feel ready, or feel scared, and changing minds is par for the course when people are exploring sex, and this needs to be respected.

- talk openly about abuse and bullying (of all kinds), and their rights to control their own body and have their own feelings, and about how others have the same rights

-admit it when you are wrong, and make apologies and corrections, and tell them why you are doing it

- talk to them in a way that shows you assume they will be in solidarity with women, and women's equality

- Demonstrate how you challenge sexism (or other prejudices). Recently some of my sons friends (all boys) were over, and when a boy said he liked a particular song, another boy asked "are you gay?". I called from the kitchen, "It's ok if you are gay!" and the other boys chimed in "ya! It's ok!"

- I would also argue that as a feminist mom, talking about men in a respectful way, in a way that assumes men can and often do show solidarity with women and our rights, encourages our sons to grow up open to talking with feminists, being part of feminism, and challenging other men to support feminism and women.

- discuss feminism and social movements with them. Encourage disagreement about how to do things, or approach things. Talk about how different rights can clash. What is the best thing to do when religion and other forms of rights clash, for example?

There are opportunities everywhere. The Olympics, and the fact it is the first time every country participating includes women, for example.

After a post on mefi I realized I had taken my son to many movies that didn't meet the "bechdel test" and I told him about it. Months later he came home from school and said "The novels we read in school this year don't meet that test about girls talking to other girls about something other than boys" Was I ever proud!
posted by chapps at 5:15 PM on July 28, 2012 [31 favorites]


Wow. I read a bunch of the Reddit posts, but just the first level ones. I read the Jezebel article and a few replies. Can't help but wonder if these two places are this decade's version of Usenet.

Why is it so bad to try to give kids a healthy sense of sexuality? Is it the whole "omg we don't want to accept that the sweet little babies we had a dozen years ago are going through *gasp* puberty?!" thing or something else?

Personally, I'd like to create a contrasting character to the "young innocent virginal woman"--a young woman who has been raped and wants to reclaim her sexuality. This desire is inspired by my own journey as a survivor of emotional and sexual abuse by a boyfriend I had from 15 to 20. I didn't want that experience to define me as a sexual being, and I was lucky to find a partner that was willing to help me heal. (Reader, we've been married 12 years.)
posted by Val_E_Yum at 6:50 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


On no special authority, I suggest teaching your kids negotiation skills. The kind you use at the workplace aren't really fundamentally different from the bedroom kind, just different tones.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:53 PM on July 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


elizardbits: "I also really dislike the labeling of "rapist" because it seems to create a divide between "good person" and "evil person."

Um. No. It creates a divide between "people who rape other people" and "people who do not rape other people". That is an important distinction.
"

I don't think you get what I was getting at. There is currently a distinction between "Good" (aka non-raping) people and "Evil" (aka raping) people. The truth is more along the lines of "Have raped at least one person" and "Have not yet raped at least one person."

Now, I really don't like that idea, even though I think it's more truthful. But the truth is that we are all just people, and the problem is not that the "people who rape other people" are doing so, but rather that society allows it.

imo, anyway. But I see a lot of things as being problems of systems, not of morals. I see us all as little pawns with pretty much zero authority to control the actions we take.
posted by rebent at 8:09 PM on July 28, 2012


Let me describe a two similar hypothetical sexual encounters (though drawn on my actual experience) from my, male point of view. Assume that you are a woman, you're attracted to me and you want to have sex with me and I'll leave birth control and STD issues out of it.

Scenario 1:

We've been out all night and had a great time, we're at your place now and on the couch making out. [This is nice, I wonder how far this is going to go?]

Things get a little bit heavier.
[Okay, I think we're ready for the next step, let's head to 2nd base]

I get a little anxious, maybe hold my breath and squeeze your butt or maybe touch your breast over your shirt.
[Whew! That went okay, she seems into it, I think she would maybe have sex with me tonight? One thing at a time. Well, she seemed to like that so uh....maybe I'll take off her shirt. Okay, here it goes]

Again, I hold my breath and go for it. I take off your shirt, you take off mine and then touch my crotch.
[Okay, things are looking good. Just breath, this is going okay. She grabbed my crotch so I think she definitely wants to have sex. Okay, what next. I guess I'll try and put my hand down her pants.]

I start putting my hand down your pants.
[Please be okay with this. Success! She seems into it. She's doing the same thing to me! Okay, we're in the clear so far. I think this is happening, I'm going to take the rest of her cloths off and go down on her.

I take your pants off, everything is fine. You're into it and make all the right noises but don't ever explicitly give consent. As before, I'm nervous and and apprehensive. I'm constantly prepared to bring this whole to a full stop and incredibly sensitive to your reactions always weary that you'll stiffen up because I've gone father than you wanted me to. After all, I want whatever happens to be enjoyable for us both. Okay, this going good, I'm going to try and have sex with her. Here goes nothing!

I take the rest of my clothes off and we start to have sex. You again make all the right noises and we have sex.Success! We're in the clear, now I can finally relax and really pay attention to what I'm doing

At some point we probably move to the bedroom, finish having sex, snuggle for a bit, and then fall asleep in each other's arms. I make us breakfast the next morning and I ask you out for another date next Friday or something.

Scenario 2:

We've been out all night and had a great time, we're at your place now and on the couch making out. [This is nice, I wonder how far this is going to go?]

Things get heavier so touch your breast over your shirt and ask, "Is this okay?"

"Yes."

Hooray, breasts are awesome! Time for the next step.

"Can I take off your shirt?"

"Yes."

Hell yes. Good god her breasts are beautiful! I'm able to really concentrate on you and how you're reacting.

"Can I go down on you?"

"Of course!"

Sweet! She's going to love this!

"Do you want to have sex?"



We have sex. Every this plays out in pretty much the same was as above.

The difference is that I'm totally relaxed and I'm able to pay complete attention to you in ways that are entirely different than in the first scenario. in short, the sex is better for both of us.

Obviously, I like the "Yes means yes" idea. Not only is it safer but I think it's MUCH sexier for however far you want things to progress and it helps keep a night of making out and cuddling from turning into "that night I almost raped that women." Get permission at every step, it's hot.

I think men are under an obligation to get consent in this way, however, women should feel free to take charge. Don't think that it has be some kind of natural thing where you're sending subtle signals and/or we can read your mind (though again, it's men that are usually going to be responsible for establishing consent). It's awesome and sexy for you to tell us "take off my shirt", "go down on me", or grab my hand and put it where you want it. That's even sexier. It's also awesome if you stop in the middle of us making out and say, "I don't want to have sex tonight." We can stop and talk about what you do want.

My other take-away is that there is this whole spectrum of "rape". There is the horrible, brutal, scary guy in the alley rape on one end and the "guy who mis-read signals or didn't communicate well and took things one step too far but is otherwise a pretty decent human being" on the other. I feel like that's what people are getting at when they say, "Rapists are human." I feel like everyone who even almost commits a rape because of poor decision making gets the same label as the dude in a dark alley. Clearly, many of these men took things just a little bit too far and I think everyone would have been better served by stopping and talking about what just happened and why. If, as soon as he got any kind of signal that girl was uncomfortable he stopped, I see no reason why they couldn't talk things through. Maybe the guy should still leave afterwords but maybe they'll be okay with each other and they can go back to doing whatever they're ready to consent to after. By immediately labeling the guy as "rapist", it does everyone a disservice.

posted by VTX at 8:41 PM on July 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


But I see a lot of things as being problems of systems, not of morals.

Rape is a systemic problem and a moral problem. Rape is morally wrong, which is something pounded into people early on. But at the same time, there's a systemic problem where our institutions and culture still teach us as kids that men and boys have the right to have sex with women and girls almost all the time anyhow, and that women are obliged to be agreeable (not say no) and that men don't have to honor negative signals or even outright refusals.

Not honoring refusals (particularly explicit nos) and having sex with a woman against her will is, in fact, rape, but rape is bad, and a lot of men who commit acts that are in the legal definition of rape don't think they did anything wrong, because they've been taught (explicitly or otherwise) that what they did was normal and OK. The cognitive dissonance is hard on both men who take advantage of the cultural permission for them to commit acts of rape (by ignoring refusals) and on women who don't want sex but are told to defer to men's wishes and not to refuse sex.

It's difficult for feminists to teach their children (sons) not to rape when they get so many messages that conduct that's legally rape is acceptable. But that's what "rape culture" means.
posted by immlass at 8:54 PM on July 28, 2012 [9 favorites]


" Clearly, many of these men took things just a little bit too far and I think everyone would have been better served by stopping and talking about what just happened and why...By immediately labeling the guy as "rapist", it does everyone a disservice."

Taking things "just a little bit too far" then stopping and talking about it could easily be viewed as a tacit admission of rape, or at least some degree of sexual assault, and, as a practical matter, how many guys are going to put themselves out there like that?
posted by MikeMc at 9:05 PM on July 28, 2012


It's awesome and sexy for you to tell us "take off my shirt", "go down on me", or grab my hand and put it where you want it. That's even sexier.

It's not a solution to tell women to "take charge." Why? Because men have to give consent to sex just as much as women do. To say "go down on me," whether you're a man or a woman, is to give a command. Unless you're already in a stable relationship where such commands have been discussed and consent for them has been arranged, that's pretty messed up. You can't with the one hand extol the virtues of consent while with the other openly ask women to disregard it.

I feel like that's what people are getting at when they say, "Rapists are human." I feel like everyone who even almost commits a rape because of poor decision making gets the same label as the dude in a dark alley.

I really appreciate this sort of point. I care a lot about how human beings are shaped by their surroundings, their upbringing, and their culture. And I care about how these sorts of factors can lead people--not monstrous, misshapen cretins, but ordinary folk--into doing absolutely reprehensible things. I think it matters, drastically. But I want to point out something about what you say here: you are trying to get the usage of the term 'rapist' to fit the man's experience. You're trying to get the term, 'rapist,' determined by what it is the man does (or doesn't do), intends to do, and thinks/feels about what he does. So that we can say those awful human beings who rape by hiding in dark alleys are rapists, but those normal blokes who rape a woman by getting confused about the signals shouldn't be called that... But, no matter what's going on with the guy's internal thoughts, feelings, and intentions, there's still that woman who's been forced to have sex without her consent. From her end, it doesn't matter one bit what his intentions were, what led him to do it, how confused he is, or what the quality his internal soul may have. She's been raped, and he's the one who did it.

Asking to have the term "rapist" revoked for certain men who maybe aren't 'bad folk' seems to me to be putting greater emphasis on the experiences of those men than on the experiences of those women who were raped by them. It seems to me like saying that it matters more for us to care about what the experience was like for him, rather than what it was like for her. That doesn't seem right.

There are huge, aching wounds in our society. And many people fall into these open wounds, and they become twisted or confused or just pulled by situational forces to do things that are despicable. And I mourn for those people. I am sorry that so many men face so many confusing, grotesque, and awful messages in society about women and sex that they have trouble avoiding raping women. But, in the end, I see a large part of this problem stemming from our society just not taking the viewpoint and needs of women seriously -- part of the problem comes from living in a society that instructs men, in a million tiny ways day in and day out, that a woman's concerns aren't as significant as a man's. Let's keep that in mind, when trying to figure out whether a man should be called a rapist just because he happened to rape a woman.
posted by meese at 9:30 PM on July 28, 2012 [25 favorites]


Asking to have the term "rapist" revoked for certain men who maybe aren't 'bad folk' seems to me to be putting greater emphasis on the experiences of those men than on the experiences of those women who were raped by them. It seems to me like saying that it matters more for us to care about what the experience was like for him, rather than what it was like for her. That doesn't seem right.

QFT.

What do we call the act of forcing someone to have sex against their will? We call it rape. What do we call people who commit that act? We call them rapists, because that's what they are.
posted by palomar at 9:39 PM on July 28, 2012 [7 favorites]


It is very difficult when you know both parties to a rape situation. I knew the accused male, and the female. She unfortunately handled it all wrong. She should have told her parents and gotten medical attention. Also it was an anal rape. I understand that evidence gathering is more difficult in cases of anal rape. The female wanted some sort of revenge on her behalf, but she had not taken even the elementary step of getting medical attention. She waited several months before even telling her parents, out of shame, and probably self-blame.

She saw herself as 'damaged goods' even before this event, because a neighbor boy molested her when she was younger. Both incidents naturally made her a little unstable, and she had a couple of really bad relationships afterwards. The male has gone his merry way. He has a very strong attachment to myself and to my son. He has no idea we know the situation. It is all very uncomfortable. I doubt very much that alcohol or drugs were in use at the time of the incident. Stupidity on both sides was. On his part especially. My son did say he learned that not only does 'no' mean 'no' but any sort of ambiguity or uncertainty on the part of a female is good reason to call a screeching halt to whatever
might be going on. So is an absence of birth-control, unless it's two people who want to make a baby, or the two people are too old to reproduce and in a stable relationship.

I am with a man who definitely out-sizes me. He had a huge crush on me for ages before anything happened between us. He was a huge breath of fresh air for me because I have not in the past been all that lucky about men.

I consider that two of my previous relationships were that the man conned me into thinking he cared for me.

Neither of them even had honest lust as a motive. In one case the guy wanted me to marry him so he could get a Green Card. In the other situation, the guy probably just wanted money. Unfortunately he got some.

In a way both these 'relationships' were weirdly awful. Rape almost would have been 'better' because then I could have gone ahead and fully hated both men.

Instead I was left wondering if I have 'sucker' written on my back in special invisible letters that only the creeps who pass as non-creeps can see.

The guy I am with now did not push things. He in fact had a girlfriend when we met. She was not an especially good girlfriend. She flirted with other guys, and went out with them. He did pull himself together and break up with her.

We were friends a long time before he made his feelings clear. He is the sort of very shy man who covers up his shyness by clowning around. I admit I wasn't in love at first, but when I realized he would do ANYTHING for me, I decided to give him a chance. It's been great so far. I don't regret it. In fact I have fallen in love with him. We had a religious but not a civil marriage. We are on Social Security and would lose benefits if it were legal. We have been pretty happy since, what with gardening, nerdy pursuits, walks, silliness, good food, and very consensual sex. The thing is he would have taken 'no' for an answer, and still been my friend. That is why he got 'yes'.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:27 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's got to be a better way to explain this that doesn't pin it all on uncontrollable hormones, because again, huuuuuge chunks of the population feel like this, male and female both, and yet they manage not to rape anyone.

I'm not saying the hormones are uncontrollable. If you read what I wrote, I clearly said that these things could be controlled. I've managed to control myself. The majority of men seem to manage to control themselves too. If a man can't control himself, this blame isn't on the woman. The blame is fully on the male. The point of what I wrote was to tell boys and girls this will probably happen and how to deal with it. It is controllable, but it's very hard to control. This is the point and the problem.

That being said, if someone is going to have a rape talk with their son, this is an excellent angle to take because, if their son ends up raping someone, it will probably be in a situation with the raging hormones and temporary insanity that I described. It's pretty unlikely they will end up as a creepy guy hiding in the bushes. It is likely that at some point in their sex lives, they'll end up terribly aroused with a girl who is saying no. It's important to them to recognize how to accept the no and walk away even when they're going completely batshit insane. And I think it's a valuable warning: there's no inherent difference between you [the boy] and most rapists. What will make the difference is that you will control yourself in these situations, and they did not.


We understand that you get violently, miserably horny. Women get violently, miserably horny, too, and stopping suddenly without having sex that we really really want is horribly frustrating to us, too.

However, our entire lifetimes have taught us that our sexuality is dirty and something to be ashamed of, that we are not entitled to sexual pleasure, and that our needs should always be subordinate to yours.


Yes, I know women get amazingly horny too. But, for whatever reason, they generally don't force themselves on others in a criminal way, so it's non-existent as a problem for society at large and therefore I left it out of my post. But many men do when they're amazingly horny. Many boys do. I think its important to talk about it. To realize this is a large reason why women can't trust men. I didn't put myself on the line, and get more embarrassingly personal in my post than I really should have, just to create a lame excuse for rape.

I think this temporary insanity is an important aspect and one which doesn't get discussed much. That this is a key reason why any man is a potential rapist. And the dark nature of the craziness, how in the situations where I was told 'no' at the last minute, intellectually I accepted the 'no' and in my actions I walked away, but in my mind, the hormones are screaming "Fuck the no, fuck her, fuck her, fuck her." There is a violent darkness in men's crazy horniness which is seemingly absent from women's crazy horniness. I think there's some value to discussing this in the open and teaching boys how to deal with it and control themselves. I'm not making excuses for anyone who couldn't control it.
posted by honestcoyote at 12:53 AM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Let me describe a two similar hypothetical sexual encounters (though drawn on my actual experience) from my, male point of view.

Wow.

The difference is that I'm totally relaxed and I'm able to pay complete attention to you in ways that are entirely different than in the first scenario. in short, the sex is better for both of us.


Wow.

It's awesome and sexy for you to tell us "take off my shirt", "go down on me", or grab my hand and put it where you want it. That's even sexier.

Wow.

Clearly, many of these men took things just a little bit too far and I think everyone would have been better served by stopping and talking about what just happened and why.

Wow.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:25 AM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, but really.. get out of there. Make that the norm. No pressuring, no wheedling, no 'let me just try this and see if they like it'. If you want it that bad and they don't seem to match your desire, escape and go howl at the moon or something.

People always seem to want to 'fix' things. 'All I have to do is make her want it.', 'All I have to do is make him not want it.' and so forth.

The same way women are taught to leave unsafe situations and follow their instincts.. men need to be taught from an early age to mind their feelings and get out of unsafe situations.

If only the sex you want will do and that's not available, just bolt, go find catharsis, and discharge your frustrations somewhere harmless.

"I really want to <insert sexual act>. Do you?"

"No." / "Maybe." / silence or hesitation of any kind

"Bye."


Make it a victory. Celebrate it. Let men get together and brag about how they ran away from women who didn't want to have sex with them and found something else to do.

If things start and something changes and that's not acceptable to you.. same thing, don't stay and try to fix things, don't keep going, put on your clothes and leave immediately.

Don't get into any weird and ambiguous situations, where ambiguity exists eliminate it or get away from it as fast as possible. If you think someone might be being coy and you're too inflamed to have a chance in hell of recognizing what coy looks like.. get out of there, run, flee, panic.. call them up the next day and ask them if they were being coy. To hell with the mood, kill the mood, test it to destruction.. regularly jump to the other side of the room and see if they ask you to come back. If someone you must have sex with asks you to stay in their bed like a normal person, tell them you're not normal, throw down a smoke bomb, and vanish.


I apologize for any hyperbole, I just feel really strongly about this. I wish someone had told all of this to me before I became sexually active and I didn't have to chance upon it by trial and error. I think everyone who doesn't rape has some version of this and some people are less like sexual werewolves than others, so my version might be kind of extreme, but really I think it's a sound strategy for both A. not raping and B. avoiding unnecessary frustration.

And if any guys think it's weird or like it might cause them to miss out on sex¹. There's the additional selling point: You'll probably have a better sex life if you don't spend time in intimate situations with people who don't want to have sex with you.

1. Mostly ambiguous sex that could potentially be experienced as rape by one or more of the participants and therefore isn't worth attempting anyway.
posted by yonega at 3:14 AM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Someone with a stronger stomach than me should do a frequency count on the phrase "ended up" in that thread. Goddam.
posted by Iteki at 3:15 AM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yonega, surely you realize that "say yes (or at least don't clearly say no) or that guy you like will leave you" is already one of the main social pressures men are leveraging when they "end up" having greyzone sex with women?
posted by Iteki at 3:42 AM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yonega, surely you realize that "say yes (or at least don't clearly say no) or that guy you like will leave you" is already one of the main social pressures men are leveraging when they "end up" having greyzone sex with women?

Iteki,

Leaving is the smart thing to do and better for everybody. Women have their own choices to make. I'm not suggesting that men should threaten to leave, I'm saying that they should simply leave when the situation is not unacceptable to them.

If a person is so inflamed that only sex will suffice and their partner doesn't convincingly communicate they are equally inflamed then they should leave. It's infinitely better than the alternative. I didn't say they should cut off all contact or call the person a bitch or otherwise mistreat them, they should simply leave and end the current situation.

The situation is already beyond resolution, there is no possible outcome from remaining in the situation that will leave both people happy so the guy should just leave.

"What if she has low self-esteem and puts on a highly convincing show so he won't leave her." Well, that's a choice on her part, but it really doesn't affect the results of the method I outlined very much. It's not a threat, once the decision is made it's final. No dramatics, no sour-grapes, no talking it over, just.. leaving.

I suppose they could leave together and go somewhere public if there really is anything to talk about or they can just talk about it later outside of an intimate situation, I've experienced both of these. Really though, I just don't see this hypothetical brilliant actress with low self esteem really wrenching the works very much.

People have to be what they are and if they can't be what they are where they are without hurting someone then they need to remove themselves from the situation. It's simply better for everyone if they just leave.

But, your situation, where women get wind of the plot and go "I have to do this or he'll leave.." well, that's on them. I'm only talking about what men should take on.
posted by yonega at 4:28 AM on July 29, 2012


I feel like I should apologize for slipping in and out of gendered and gender-neutral language. My tendency to speak as neutrally as possible with regard to human relations is conflicting with my knowledge of who is doing almost all of the raping and almost all of the being raped. Just do your own pronoun substitution if you have to--for some reason thinking about this makes my head hurt.
I mean no harm. I'm only advocating my own personal method for practicing sexual responsibility that I have personally found to be compatible with my own actual sexuality. Most of the men I know have similar systems. I kept trying to be this ideal person who could turn my sex drive on and off at will and could instantly, in all cases, shift from feeling like a sexual werewolf to being someone who could just talk and cuddle. It was never a good fit but the messages I was receiving were that the measure of a good man is being able to do just that. I've instead realized that for me, and I suspect many men, being a good man means knowing when to walk away.

I only posted this because I realized that I have some pretty strong opinions on how to teach boys not to rape and I have done a lot of thinking about this topic. I also know that not all rape or rapists are the same and there are some people my methods probably won't work for. As a man I wish I knew what to do to lessen the amount of rape that goes on beyond personally holding myself responsible. I wish I knew how to take my feelings out of the echo chamber and actually do some good in the world. That reddit thread made me really really sad. Those men all know what they did is wrong, but their cognitive dissonance around what they did, why they did it, and who they are shields them from responsibility and lets them go on hurting people.

posted by yonega at 5:09 AM on July 29, 2012


Yonega, we get the message " I have to do this or he'll leave" some of the time, but there's also a very strong element of "I have to do this or he'll get violent" too. I've had guys get verbally abusive when I said I didn't want to dance with them in a club, more than once. When hormones are raging, the stakes get substantially higher. I think you may have left that out of the equation.
posted by peppermind at 5:26 AM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think this temporary insanity is an important aspect and one which doesn't get discussed much. That this is a key reason why any man is a potential rapist. And the dark nature of the craziness, how in the situations where I was told 'no' at the last minute, intellectually I accepted the 'no' and in my actions I walked away, but in my mind, the hormones are screaming "Fuck the no, fuck her, fuck her, fuck her." There is a violent darkness in men's crazy horniness which is seemingly absent from women's crazy horniness. I think there's some value to discussing this in the open and teaching boys how to deal with it and control themselves. I'm not making excuses for anyone who couldn't control it.

I agree we should discuss this. But let's be honest about what we are discussing. We are not discussing biological "temporary insanity". The "violent darkness in men's crazy horniness which is seemingly absent from women's crazy horniness" is not biological, it is because men have been taught their entire lives that they "deserve" to be "given" sex by women and because women have been taught that our sexuality is wrong and shameful and yet also the only valuable thing about us. That violent darkness is misogyny itself, taught to every woman and man in our society from our childhood on.

Rather than teach your son that being a potential rapist is a biological fact that he has to learn to control, why not teach him that this is something totally shitty that society has taught him and that he can unlearn it? Rather than saying he is powerless in the face of biology and has to come up with strategies to keep himself from raping while he is "temporarily insane", why not teach him that he is perfectly sane even in the face of violent societal conditioning and that he can stand up to society?
posted by hydropsyche at 5:26 AM on July 29, 2012 [30 favorites]


Rather than teach your son that being a potential rapist is a biological fact that he has to learn to control, why not teach him that this is something totally shitty that society has taught him and that he can unlearn it? Rather than saying he is powerless in the face of biology and has to come up with strategies to keep himself from raping while he is "temporarily insane", why not teach him that he is perfectly sane even in the face of violent societal conditioning and that he can stand up to society?

As a man who has been both a fairly bad partner and a very good partner, this approach resonates with me much more than the "uncontrollable horniness" thing above. Not raping -- by which I am meaning not violating consent in all kinds of ways, whether or not it meets a particular legal definition of rape -- involves the same kinds of choices as not being violent to your partner.

I assume there's a biological element as well involving testosterone and whatever, but there is absolutely at least 3000 years of western culture (picking the Iliad as a beginning point of the written record of this) that primes and teaches men that violence is always an option for resolving conflict. In both real and fantasy portrayals, violence and particularly gendered violence absolutely permeate our culture.

It's not about being horny -- it's about being powerful enough in that moment to coerce someone to do something or to at least allow something to happen. Some small percentage of rapes happen with a knife against the throat; the experience of wheedling, coaxing, and pushing past limits is absolutely universal, though we mostly just call it "bad sex." And that's not some biological fact of being male that we need to teach boys -- it's social and cultural, and the wonderful thing is that you can make different choices and be self-aware.

People have to be what they are and if they can't be what they are where they are without hurting someone then they need to remove themselves from the situation. It's simply better for everyone if they just leave.

So I think it's great that you are leaving rather than being violent, obviously. But seriously, if you are having such intense feelings of anger or frustration that walking out rather than commit violence is a fairly normal thing for you, you need to get help. That's not normal, it's not healthy, and it's not a good way to live.
posted by Forktine at 6:20 AM on July 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


The serial_rapist_thread posts smack of trolling,someone deliberately trying to conjure a stereotype of every woman's nightmare combined with the authors creepy sex fantasies.
posted by Damienmce at 7:04 AM on July 29, 2012


Meese: You make a good point and you're right, of course. It always seems like the situations we're concerned about, the men are traditionally in the dominant role and are typically the ones pushing to move things towards sex. I guess my point was more that it's okay, helpful, and sexy to be proactive about giving consent and being clear about what you're comfortable with (and that goes for either party). Let's amend that to say that after one party has established, "I want to have sex with you." It's okay for the other party to give commands to escalate things (and to stop that progression and take a step back at any time).

I don't think that we should stop calling people who commit rape rapists. I'm more concerned about the guy (or girls) who suddenly got a signal that they went to far. Like that girl that was making out with a guy all night and grabbing his crotch but then stiffened up when the guy put his hand down her pants. He stopped and asked, "Is this okay?" And she started sobbing. Now, he should have asked for her permission first or he could have been clear about how far he wanted to go ("I want to have sex with you.") and let her guide him as far as she wanted ("I don't want to have sex, just making out tonight.") though I think she's under no obligation to do so. I think they would have been better off if, when he stopped and asked what was wrong, she just said something, "You have to ask me before you take things to the next step." And carried on, stop making out and just talk, or maybe call it a night. I don't see a reason why he should be labeled as a rapist. He made a mistake, stopped and learned his lesson. Had he ignored the clear signal that she wasn't okay with what was happening and had sex with her then, yeah, dude's a rapist. Maybe he didn't recognize her reaction for what it was but still, rapist. However, depending on how he changed is behavior afterwords, he isn't some irredeemable monster.
posted by VTX at 7:12 AM on July 29, 2012


The tone of the anti-rape poster didn't bug me at all, though once the question was raised, I think I can see the objection.

I think it's a problem that arises many times in this very thread. There's basically (a) rapists are monsters, and (b) rapists are not monsters. (b) is pretty close to (c) rapists are regular guys. Now, some friends of mine, when briefly in the grip of a certain brand of feminism, liked to go around saying (d) all men are potential rapists. That *could* mean (e) women can't tell which men are the rapists and which are not, or it could mean (f) every man has the potential to be a rapist. Which, in turn, could mean (g) every man has the basic physical equipment to be a rapist, or it could mean (h) every man is the kind of person who might just decide to rape someone some day.

Now...(h) is just false, and not only insulting but a morally repugnant thing to say. Fighting words, even. I, for example, am no potential rapist. That's true of a vast number of other males as well. Most of them wouldn't be a bad guess.

I took the poster in question to be a kind of joke. It better not be addressed to guys like me, or it's an intentional insult, and a morally repugnant and indefensible one. I doubt that it's addressed to actual rapists, because they aren't going to pay attention. It's more like an expression of an attitude or a position than it is an attempt to actually change anything. Though maybe there are some guys in the middle, not rapists and not quite not-rapists, who the poster is really supposed to address. Again, I doubt it.

At any rate, it's not a good idea to slip from claims more like "rape is something that even fairly normal guys might do under the right (or wrong) circumstances" into "all you male humans are rapists." The former might be a good point for all I know; the latter is an evil thing to say, and false. But the poster could reasonably be interpreted that way (though I don't think it's the best interpretation.)
posted by Fists O'Fury at 7:24 AM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I took the poster in question to be a kind of joke. It better not be addressed to guys like me, or it's an intentional insult, and a morally repugnant and indefensible one.

We should certainly never lose sight of the real victims here.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:37 AM on July 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


Morally repugnant and indefensible? LOL. It's a poster. Relax, dude.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:40 AM on July 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


I think there's quite a lot of evidence gathered at this point that telling someone to relax and not be so uptight when they're offended isn't a terribly effective strategy. Can we not do that any more?
posted by DRMacIver at 7:46 AM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay, how about this: if someone saying "don't rape people" to a general audience offends you, you are part of the problem and part of the culture that leads to a country with high levels of sexual assault. But according to that comment me saying that is "morally repugnant". That's what shuts down conversation. Maybe you should be concerned about that.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:56 AM on July 29, 2012 [16 favorites]


Sure. I think that's a much more useful response to that comment. Thanks.

(I'm serious. I'm not trying to support or object to the comment in question. I just think "relax, dude" is a response that is unlikely to improve the quality of discourse and is likely to make it significantly worse).
posted by DRMacIver at 8:04 AM on July 29, 2012


Part of the point of the anti-rape poster being so offensive is that all the stupid advice on the "normal" anti-rape posters aimed at women is equally stupid and offensive. We get that advice over and over, it's hostile and anti-man (all men are sleazes who want to rape you and can't be trusted, and I wonder why men aren't more offended by that advice sometimes when I hear men complaining about women who internalize it), and it's not helpful given that it's pretty well known that most sexual assaults are committed by perpetrators known to the victim.

The reason why some women say "get over it" about one poster being offensive is that that poster is the distilled "wisdom" of years' worth of anti-rape campaigns in one-off form. Imagine that advice was everywhere, and mentioned regularly with news about rapes, and so on, and that's women's lives where rape prevention is concerned: stupid advice all the time everywhere.
posted by immlass at 8:12 AM on July 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


immlass:

For what it's worth, I actually like the poster. I can understand why some men are offended by it, and I perhaps mildly feel that way, but I think it's makes good points on several levels.

My point here is that saying "get over it" is an instance of the "You shouldn't feel that way. Stop it" category of instruction, and it's an instruction that is almost universally useless.

I'd much rather people say "I understand that you're offended, but this is where we're coming from". It doesn't always work, but when it doesn't that's probably a sign that the conversation is not going to work and is better ended than exacerbated.

Emotions run rather high on both sides of this sort of discussion, and it's very easy to inflame that further. If we want to have a sober and constructive discussion about rape then it's important to avoid that.

(I am incidentally offended by the "all men want to rape you" style of advice. I find a lot of the rhetoric around rape a bit offensive, even when I can see where it's coming from. I just don't think it would be useful for me to act offended in this thread so I'm making an active effort to not do so)
posted by DRMacIver at 8:27 AM on July 29, 2012


if you assume that women are afraid to say "no" i don't see how a public campaign of "yes means yes" could be very effective. wouldn't a person say "yes" for the same fears of saying "no"?
posted by cupcake1337 at 8:34 AM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Guardian has got in on the act with predictable results in the comment section.
posted by Summer at 8:35 AM on July 29, 2012


My point here is that saying "get over it" is an instance of the "You shouldn't feel that way. Stop it" category of instruction, and it's an instruction that is almost universally useless.

My response wasn't particularly directed at you, but I'll take this one on.

"Don't feel that way" is a universally useless instruction, sure. So is "don't feel the way that involves resenting men who are more concerned about the idea they might be perceived as rapists than they are about women who have been raped". I understand you mean well, but you are policing women's expression of their own emotions in the interest of supporting men's emotions in this thread. Perhaps when you consider your posts in that light, you will understand why you're getting some pushback.
posted by immlass at 8:57 AM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]



(I am incidentally offended by the "all men want to rape you" style of advice. I find a lot of the rhetoric around rape a bit offensive, even when I can see where it's coming from. I just don't think it would be useful for me to act offended in this thread so I'm making an active effort to not do so)

"All men want to rape you" is terrible style of advice. I agree. That all man you meet could potentially be ones that do isn't unwarranted in my mind. To me it's quite true. I don't and have never taken it as some sort of man-hating or be scared of men thing it's just unfortunately a reality from this side of the gender fence regardless of whether or not men in general like to hear it. It's not that I meet a guy and 'oh he may be a rapist" is a main thought that comes to mind but it is something that is there in the background, something to be aware of particularly in certain types of situations. Personally as I women I hate that, it pisses me off but as someone who has had personal experience with sexual assault and over my lifetime have known way to many women who have as well I feel it would be stupid to not be aware of it.

None of this stops me from liking men, meeting men or ever being alone with men. I don't live my life scared. I also thinks that it sucks for men who don't or wouldn't even consider doing such a thing feeling like they're getting lumped into the 'would' group of their gender. My hope would be that there could be some understanding about why it might seem like that is the case. As women I at least need to be aware enough about the 'potential' in the males I associate with to catch any of the signals that this is one of the bad ones and to stay safe. And yes sometimes things may be misread, no one is perfect but I'd rather make such a mistake then deal with the outcome of mistaking in the other direction. If the potential for 'bad' was so uncommon to be statistically irrelevant then I could see more and agree more with the ones getting offended.

Sadly, it's just not. It my experience it has been completely normal to have more then half of the women I've been friends with to have been of have been almost sexually assaulted or raped at some point in their lives. It's the type of thing that comes out in conversations where one person starts talking about something that happened to her or so and so and one by one people talk or admit to their own experience.

It's damn sad really.
posted by Jalliah at 8:58 AM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I find this thread very troubling for the opposite reason many of the people here find it troubling. Disclosure: I have a daughter, and I have every intention (when she's older) of letting her know that some boys and men don't always have the best of intentions, especially when hormones get involved. As for myself, I am a gigantic nerd who's sort of the bumbling, cuddly opposite of a rapist -- so awkward that I've only realized after the fact that some women I'd hung out with had wanted sex. So I'm not trying to defend anything.

I read a long way down the Reddit thread, and it seemed to me that for every case of obvious rape/sexual assault there was another that was far more murky. As a psychologist, I know that in most cases, especially at the beginning of the relationship, men are expected to (and do) initiate sexual contact. Even in this day and age, women are still relatively reluctant to initiate sexual contact early in the relationship, and this reluctance increases with lower socioeconomic status and increased religiosity. So this means that the "burden" of initiating sexual contact will usually fall on the male. In my mind, this leads to two basic possibilities: the female partner reciprocates the desire, or she doesn't. This should be a pretty stark contrast.

But oh, how muddled it gets! Now comes alcohol, or other drugs. Now comes a late-night rendezvous, or ill-advised "sleep over." Now comes a heavy make-out session. The boy or man moves from breast-groping to fingering. Bang! With that move, he is now a rapist by the definitions of many of the people here. Why? Because it turns out that the girl/woman didn't want to go that far. How was he to know? Well, she stiffened.

You see? In many of the cases I read on Reddit, there was almost no verbal or explicit or unambiguous feedback to the male that he was going too far. How was he to know? I am not excusing any cases where the female clearly expresses her lack of interest, by saying "no" or pushing the man away, or any other means. But go back and read the thread again. I know that we are getting almost solely the male version of events in that thread, but there are many cases where the feedback was nonexistent or ambiguous in the extreme (she had an unhappy face, etc).

What's to be done? I agree with an earlier poster who said, "Teach girls to shout 'No!'" It seems that some people here think this will be ineffective, that girls don't want to be rude, or unpopular, or something. Then, damn it all, at the same time we are teaching boys "No means no!" we had also better be teaching girls to have the fortitude to say "No!" Teach both boys and girls to be unambiguous and verbal about their desires. And yes (this will be unpopular), teach girls not to put themselves in a situation where they will be date-raped. If a situation doesn't pass the smell test, be somewhere else. Don't hang with people they don't trust. Buddy up! And, coming from a Wisconsinite: Don't drink to the point of incapacity! Get them to recognize that this makes them vulnerable. Yes, the opprobrium still belongs to the rapist, but sometimes the best way to avoid a crime is not to be there in the first place.

Finally, teach them also to say, "Yes!" Many of my students get almost painfully embarrassed when sex comes up as a topic in class. Isn't that odd? Most of them are themselves sexually active (because of the region, many of them also marry early; surprising numbers have children already). And yet, they cannot bear to talk about it; they squirm, and look away, and giggle nervously. Surely this is part of the problem -- if even people who are sexually active (and psych majors to boot) cannot talk about sex, how can we expect our girls and boys to be verbal and unambiguous about their desires, or lack thereof?
posted by Palquito at 9:00 AM on July 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


Forktine: I leave any situation that I can that makes me feel uncomfortable.

Walking away is a perfectly valid way to resolve a conflict. I'm not even talking about anger. I'm talking about situations where people have incompatible impulses. It's best just to leave. All this talk it out business is not for everyone all of the time and really, in the moment, its better to avoid it because it's just another avenue for coercion or emotional violence.

Teach them to approach the thing with patience and empathy and honesty.. but if for whatever reason in a particular situation they can't: teach them to run away. It doesn't mean they'll never speak to the person again. They can talk after things cool down. Things may even work out in the future.

Do you really think they're all either without conscience or subconsciously brainwashed tools of the patriarchy? They know rape is wrong, that's why they tell themselves they're not raping.

Just train them to leave when the difference in impulses is irreconcilable.
posted by yonega at 9:11 AM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I trust NO MAN around my step-daughter, even her own father (who has NEVER given me a reason to think he's a molester or a rapist

Am I reading this wrong? Is the girl's father is your husband? If so why are you with a man you don't trust not to rape his own daughter? Have you told him you don't trust him around his own daughter?
posted by MikeMc at 9:42 AM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


if you assume that women are afraid to say "no" i don't see how a public campaign of "yes means yes" could be very effective. wouldn't a person say "yes" for the same fears of saying "no"?

I agree ... and yet, as Palquito says, it can all be so messy and confusing.

At the root, I think this confusion -- and the reason one campaign works for some and not others -- is because it sexuality, and especially sexual development, is a different process for everyone. And especially for kids, who are nervous, just learning, and probably a little too self absorbed with their own nervousness to be fully attentive to a partner.

Some kids are being taught to wait until marriage, others have hippies for grandparents who openly talk about sex and their many partners in life. Lots of kids have no positive role models at all, or no one they can talk to.

Some kids feel ready for sex, others don't even feel ready to flirt or be looked at.

Some kids, sadly, have a been abused and may have all manner of responses to this experience.

Further, in a culture that completely sexualizes youth, it is a given that some level of dysfunction and confusion will occur and need to be negotiated.

Perhaps another learning tool is great novels about positive sexuality, gender roles, assertiveness and communication, and all of the issues being discussed here. (Might I plug Graceling by Kristin Cashore for teenagers?).
posted by chapps at 10:17 AM on July 29, 2012


by "be looked at" I guess I mean be seen as sexually attractive, or be flirted with.
posted by chapps at 10:18 AM on July 29, 2012


immlass:

Pushback is fine. I'm not bothered by it, and I even mostly understand where it's coming from. I am being a bit "That guy on the internet". I'm trying to do it in as un-obnoxious a way as possible, but I doubt I'm succeeding entirely.

Allow me to explain where I'm coming from...
"Don't feel that way" is a universally useless instruction, sure. So is "don't feel the way that involves resenting men who are more concerned about the idea they might be perceived as rapists than they are about women who have been raped".
I don't think that was what I was saying. It certainly wasn't what I intended to say.

It's ok to feel however you want about people being offended by being perceived as rapists. Of course it is. Obviously. And even if I thought it weren't, I wouldn't be telling you not to because it's a useless instruction.

But there's a difference between being offended by something and responding to it unconstructively. And when talking about an emotionally charged subject (and it is emotionally charged on both sides), dismissive comments are very unhelpful and likely to cause things to escalate.

I'd also like to disagree with the "more concerned about the idea they might be perceived as rapists than they are about women who have been raped". I didn't take that as the implication. One can be offended without putting that offence ahead of those who have been raped, and causing that offence can be a bad thing without making rape less terrible.
I understand you mean well, but you are policing women's expression of their own emotions in the interest of supporting men's emotions in this thread.
Firstly: You're right, I seem to have been replying more to (presumed - I don't know everyone involved's genders) women in this thread than men. That wasn't intentional, and I'm not entirely sure why that happened. I'll have a think about it.

Secondly: Yes, I am. Ideally what I would be doing is in fact policing people's expression of their own emotions in the interest of supporting people's emotions in this thread. Apparently I've not been as even handed about that as I intended to be, but I don't think that detracts from the basic point: It's hard to have a useful conversation without both sides being respectful of the other's emotions, particularly when it's one that can so easily get personal.
posted by DRMacIver at 10:37 AM on July 29, 2012


Ideally what I would be doing is in fact policing people's expression of their own emotions in the interest of supporting people's emotions in this thread.

I think ideally you would probably be leaving policing people's expressions of their own emotions to the moderators, and simply participating in the thread - or not participating in the thread, for that matter.

I am pretty sure it's a bad idea to appoint oneself as protector of a thread from unhelpful expressions of emotion, especially if one has not noticed that the lion's share of the expressions one has decided are unhelpful are coming from women. And especially especially in a thread concerning sexual assaults, primarily against women.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:48 AM on July 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


running order squabble fest: I don't agree that that's a fair framing of what I've been doing. Of the comments I've made in this thread I only think one could really regarded as me being "protector of the thread". The rest is just me participating in the conversation.

But honestly, at this point I want to get out of this thread anyway, so I'll do so. Apologies to anyone I've offended.
posted by DRMacIver at 10:57 AM on July 29, 2012


Forgive me - I thought that "protector of a thread from unhelpful expressions of emotion"" was what you were saying you were trying to be:

Ideally what I would be doing is in fact policing people's expression of their own emotions in the interest of supporting people's emotions in this thread.

And also when you said "Yes, I am" to the statement:

I understand you mean well, but you are policing women's expression of their own emotions in the interest of supporting men's emotions in this thread.

Possibly I misunderstood.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:21 AM on July 29, 2012


running order squabble fest: There is a world outside this thread. I was making points about how I would prefer people to communicate about rape, and this could reasonably be regarded as policing expressions of emotions. While I was expressing that opinion in this thread, it was mostly not directed at specific comments within it.

Perhaps that wasn't how the sentence was originally intended to be read. In which case, I misunderstood. If so, apologies again.

And yes, I am aware I said I was bowing out of this thread, but not to the point where I'm going to ignore comments specifically directed at me.
posted by DRMacIver at 11:30 AM on July 29, 2012


We are not discussing biological "temporary insanity".

I think I would make the argument that it is partially biological, and this is why the majority of cultures in our world have some variation on "Rape Culture" and have been throughout much of our history. This is something inherent in men, maybe not every man, but enough of them to pollute the culture at large.

Men don't talk about sex much amongst themselves so all I have is my own personal experiences, and I fully realize anecdote != any useful data. I'm a mild-mannered person who mostly just wants to be left alone. Have no desire to control other people nor do I want them to tell me what to do either. I was raised by a very strong, independent woman, who gave no mind and no quarter to men telling her what to do, even when it was religious authorities in her church. And in my church sex was defined as "Something which happens after marriage. Very Mysterious." And then I have my own personal ideologies, which tend toward the very liberal, tend towards viewing all people, men and women, as deserving of freedoms, rights, and especially the right to be left the hell alone, if that's what they want.

So I had this background in which I was never ever told things like "That slut deserved it." (my mother quite emphasized the opposite, actually) When rape came up in the Bible classes, it was described as a terrible crime, one of the worst. A crime with no excuses. And there's nothing in my personal politics and philosophies which would lead to wanting domination of women.

And still, in those situations where the 'no' came up at the last minute, even though I did the right things, the darkness still came up. It felt very primal and instinctual. It was certainly nothing I was ever taught. It was nothing I had ever thought about in non-aroused moments. It was a complete surprise and deeply disconcerting.

So, I'm going to make the classic mistake of extrapolating my own feelings and putting them on the male population at large. Considering the terrible things many men do in service of their sexuality, I have a feeling I'm at least partially right. And if someone with my background and personality can have these thoughts, then it is something instinctual to at least some of us.

It's a chicken & egg situation and I believe this instinct is the egg. The "slut deserved it" culture is an outgrowth of this instinct, not it's creator. Am I wrong? Knowing my luck about making assumptions, I probably am.
posted by honestcoyote at 12:00 PM on July 29, 2012


Why, oh why, did I not stop myself from googling my rapist? Most likely because of the dream I had the other night where we were back in high school and I broke up with him. Found him on FB. He's engaged and has a 2 year old daughter. I have his work email.

I could send him an email from an anonymous one I set up ages ago with either the Jezebel article or Reddit thread. But what purpose would it really serve?
posted by Val_E_Yum at 12:10 PM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just, thank you yonega. I can see you are getting some flak for your position, but I think you deserve credit that you aren't getting for your sincerity and the amount of thought you have spent on this.
Personally, I agree with you, that taking back control and walking away from your impulses is always going to do cause far less "harm" and hurt feelings than rape.
Horniness is a vulnerability - for men and women- and knowing when you are in a vulnerable situation and taking steps to protect yourself makes a lot of sense to me.

I've had to learn hard lessons like this myself, when an open bar says the equivalent of "Why can't you stay and we'll just cuddle". That's for another thread though.
posted by Catch at 12:14 PM on July 29, 2012


Well... This has been very interesting reading... My first reaction was sort of agreeing with what Jim Hines wrote:
It is important that we understand why people rape. But there are other ways to find that insight. Books, essays, research, and more. I’ve spoken with rapists and batterers, and it did give me a better understanding as to how this crime happens. But the circumstances of those conversations were very different. They were controlled, with people who had been convicted and held accountable for their actions. People who, as far as I could tell, appeared to genuinely regret what they had done. In situations where excuses were not tolerated.
But then I thought, wait, how many documentaries have been made interviewing rapists and letting them speak? It's not exactly a concept that's going to go down very well with even the most daring production company. And good luck finding people, including convicted rapists, who'd confess to a camera, even anonymously. Same thing with interviews to a reporter for a magazine.

Movies would be avoiding that practical problem, and would also do a good job of providing insight and context if they're well made - but then again I struggled to think of a movie telling the story of a rapist from the rapist's point of view and all I could think of was this German film, "Der Freie Wille (The Free Will)", which is a really good movie (if bleak and depressing as hell), but in the end it's reaaaally less about rape than about existential questions about yeah, free will. Besides, the rapist in the film is the 'assaulting strangers' kind and he's portrayed as someone with a psychopathic violent impulse that he actually tries very hard to control, so it's sort of tangential to the debate on the mentality behind date rape.

I still am not sure if I can buy the argument that an open thread allowing anonymous posting can provide the kind of insight worthy enough to outweigh all the issues listed by Hines about the anonymity and unaccountability involved (and the related titillation/ego trip potential and all). But the discussion that followed has produced some interesting reading indeed, overall.

One thing I would like to add, after reading and very much liking chapp's list about what a feminist mother can teach her son, is what I thought was a good point for discussion (yeah, like you don't have enough already after hundreds of comments) from this post on xojane.com on "how to teach kids not to rape" - it's humorous and totally serious at the same time, and makes a good if apparently provocative point about consent. Generally I find switching the focus to talking about consent as a positive in itself is much more effective and productive than talking about it only as a way to avoid trouble. More truthful to a happy healthy approach to sex, too. I wouldn't mind seeing more men in these internet discussions reminding other men of the obvious benefits of express consent as a requirement for sexual enjoyment (their own in the first place!), rather than talking about how murky or difficult or ambiguous it can be to figure out if it's there or not. Because hmm it really isn't. But yeah there'd be too much to say about that, and others said it already here or elsewhere on the internet, and I just thought I might as well add another link, just because this thread is not long enough yet...
posted by bitteschoen at 1:30 PM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


honestcoyote: But the sum total of your life is not your mom and your church. Did you ever watch tv or movies? Did you ever read books or magazines? Did you ever talk to other kids, or other teenagers, or other adults? Did you ever listen to music? The patriarchy is not one thing or another: it is in everything. By living in the world, we are all steeped in it.

It is impossible for researchers to separate the biological from the cultural in these situations, but we can work to improve the culture. And it seems to me that part of that is not to teach our sons that there is some biological imperative that makes them want to rape (that they can resist), but to teach them that our culture is wrong when it says that women's sexuality is bad and that men should be the ones to initiate sex because they are the ones who want it and need it and enjoy it and deserve it and are justified in taking it.

Maybe you are right that there is some biological imperative there to rape, although many men report that they do not feel that, but we have never even tried to eliminate the insidious attitudes of the patriarchy. Surely we should at least give that a shot before declaring it impossible?
posted by hydropsyche at 1:41 PM on July 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


There is no way in hell I will ever look at that Reddit thread. The guy I dated in college, who subjected me to various kinds of abuse, stands a good chance of being on Reddit. He uses the same three usernames as he did ten years ago, too. And if he's on Reddit, he stands a pretty huge chance of writing some mopey bullshit on that thread, about how he just didn't know what he was doing, how he's really a good guy, how he's only human and just couldn't stop himself, how he perceived the consent issue as a "gray area".

I'd like to have sympathy for guys like that, but I do not. They have a lot to gain by playing up how they just didn't get what they were doing. I do not believe they didn't get it. I believe they chose to ignore evidence that their attentions were not wanted, and then rationalized it all away later because it was so ego-dystonic.

It's funny, because I don't believe most men have the Looming Rapist Darkness in them. But I have seen that darkness rise up in men I thought I could trust, men who thought of themselves as feminists, men who thought of themselves as decent. I believe rape is overwhelmingly common, to the point of being a ubiquitous experience of being a female.

Val_E_Yum, I know the contact information for my abuser, too. I shouldn't look him up, but I do every once in a while. He still thinks pretty well of himself, from what I can see. One of my life's big regrets is that I never filed a police report. Now, it's probably too late and would just serve to draw him back into my life when he's been safely gone for a decade.
posted by Coatlicue at 1:45 PM on July 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


And still, in those situations where the 'no' came up at the last minute, even though I did the right things, the darkness still came up. It felt very primal and instinctual. It was certainly nothing I was ever taught. It was nothing I had ever thought about in non-aroused moments. It was a complete surprise and deeply disconcerting.

As others have noted, this is not a guy thing; it's a human thing -- and the fact that you seem to believe women don't experience implacable desire like this should signal to you that there's more cultural baggage at work than you might think.

Try this thought experiment -- assume that your partner was feeling just the same way and still decided to stop. That should tell you two things:

1. It must have been really important for her not to continue, so you should make yourself pay attention.

2. People are not at the mercy of their sexual impulses. They just need to practice controlling them as adolescents, the same way we practiced not hitting other toddlers in the head with a dump truck when we got mad at daycare. If you don't get that basic physical, psychological, and biochemical learning early on and then add poor impulse control to a pile of entitlement, power issues, and a dash (or metric ton) of misogyny, well, you get what we have now.

The way our culture works and physiology being what it is, young women tend to get LOTS of practice in their early relationships (and often throughout life) coping with sexual frustration and disappointment. Whereas there are probably many people who still think believe the eyeroll-inducing horseshit my generation was taught about how serious sexual arousal not followed by ejaculation can be, like, medically harmful for young men. It wouldn't hurt young boys any, before becoming sexually active, to practice how to "say no" to themselves and stop on their own sometimes.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:23 PM on July 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


Seems to me like I have read that people transitioning from female to male and taking the requisite hormones have spoken of the aggressiveness that comes from the increase of testosterone. I am a female and I understand that we do have times when we crave sex but it is my understanding that there are biological differences that truly do exist. Either that or women genuinely have several orders of selfcontrol greater than most men.


Instead of dissing the experience of the poster who talked about it, perhaps we should listen to his experience and give him the same consideration the rest of us want when we share here.

This in no way makes rape ok or even understandable but having, again, raised daughters and knowing just how incredibly naive they could be even as I tried to talk to them-it doesn't hurt for them to know what I consider is simple human biology. Sometimes biology refuses to conform to gender equality.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:34 PM on July 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Yes, I know women get amazingly horny too. But, for whatever reason, they generally don't force themselves on others in a criminal way, so it's non-existent as a problem for society at large and therefore I left it out of my post."

There was an askme question on the subject about a year ago that started out with a kind of horrifying callousness, apparently when women rape men its just valuable spontaneity. Both I and someone else who posted through the mods also shared our experiences with it in that thread. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that,

Hi, I exist and this happened to me, I consider it to have been a problem.
posted by Blasdelb at 4:05 PM on July 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


Hi, I exist and this happened to me, I consider it to have been a problem.

I agree that it was a problem. Unwanted sexual activity is unwanted sexual activity, full stop. Nobody should get a pass for coercing another person into sex.
posted by Val_E_Yum at 5:06 PM on July 29, 2012


Seems to me like I have read that people transitioning from female to male and taking the requisite hormones have spoken of the aggressiveness that comes from the increase of testosterone. I am a female and I understand that we do have times when we crave sex but it is my understanding that there are biological differences that truly do exist. Either that or women genuinely have several orders of selfcontrol greater than most men.


Instead of dissing the experience of the poster who talked about it, perhaps we should listen to his experience and give him the same consideration the rest of us want when we share here.


Well, first, I surely wasn't trying to belittle the commenter's experience, which I'm sure he described accurately and which was real. The fact that men and women can both experience extreme states of arousal doesn't mean they all necessarily experience the same thing, but I imagine there's just as much variation within sexes and gender identifications as between them, just as a given individual can have a huge range of sensations, sex drive, and responsiveness in a random week let alone a lifetime. It's pretty hard to separate culture and biology when it comes to how we verbalize and express sexual impulses, though, so I won't even try.

But here's the thing: no matter how "in the throes of passion" people are during an encounter, no matter how much they feel they "can't stop" or would happily let the house burn down around them rather than disengage, that's really not realistic. I mean,most people who are interrupted in flagrante by a child or parent or someone else inopportune walking into the room manage to stop and shift their gears pretty speedily. Plenty of men and women alike can lose the mood rapidly if some minor (unpleasant) pain or other distracting sensation occurs or if their attention wanders. While men may or may not have more aggressive sexual urges -- after all, women have testosterone too in varying amounts -- the whole "I am so fired up I cannot stop and must conquer the orifice now" narrative is at least partially just that, a story we tell ourselves and enact based on the 40 million times we've already heard, seen, read, or been told it before.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:10 PM on July 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


Yeah, this 'so-horny-cannot-stop' is such a poor cliché - I'd like to note that there are actually several men in the reddit thread pointing this out in response to one of the 'confessions' of the 'so-horny-couldn't-stop' kind. Like for instance the comments in reaction to this post - linked to in the Guardian article as a case of "the man who ignores your boundaries and your nos and forces open your clamped legs" -- the guy in question tells his little tale and then concludes with a version of what some people said here about male horniness (quoting for those who don't want to browse through the whole thing):
Most girls don't really understand how horny guys are, how much stronger guys are, how guys will rationalize what they do. I see feminists and women on the Internet saying that no means no and women should be able to get as drunk as they want and not be sexually assaulted, and I couldn't agree m[or]e. But the reality of the situation is that women have to be careful because guys are one way when they're hanging out and another way when they're horny or worse drunk and horny. That doesn't make what happened okay, but it is what it is.

And here's some interesting replies by other men:
- Dude, come the fuck on. Don't rationalize what you did with "boys will be boys" bullshit. You know how many times I've been harder than I thought was possible and still been able to stop when a girl said no? As someone who isn't a rapist, I find not raping people exceedingly easy, regardless of how erect my dick is.

- FFS, you can easily resist biological impulses if you simply try. I have, and despite all the times I've been drunk and horny, I've never raped anyone. Do like John Travolta and just beat off when you get home.

- It might sound like I'm joking, but this is a good idea. Think of doing something stupid with your penis? Whack off, get all that energy and temptation out of your system before you do something you regret.

- Fuck you, dude. I've been fucked up with a boner, and I still stop when I hear "no". It is insulting to me and every other non-rapist with testicles to imply that a little booze and an erection is all it takes to turn us into monsters. The rest of us have self control.

- The gender essentialism in your post bothers me a great deal. "How horny guys are. How guys will rationalize what they do. Women have to be careful because guys are one way when they're hanging out, and another when they're drunk and horny."
Maybe it's just in your character to lose control of yourself to your biological impulses? Maybe? Maybe instead of seeking refuge in bullshit gender essentialism, maybe you should just acknowledge that you became a shitty person while you were drunk.
I've been drunk, terribly horny, and hanging out with a chick I wanted to fuck. When she said no, I took the no, excused myself to the bathroom, beat off, and then passed out. This is a thing that has happened numerous occasions.
Maybe you should consider that it's just you, and not "guys everywhere."
Sincerely, A person who does Gender Studies and is sick of this bullshit.

- maybe you're just, you know, a rapist. I'm a guy. I drink. I get horny. Never raped, never will. I've been told no before in similar situations and it's not hard to stop, seriously. There's porn, use it. Stop rationalizing your crimes with bullshit biology and reinforcing that idea that "all men are inherently dangerous".
etc. So yeah there is some good in that thread. Incidentally, it's rather unfair of that Guardian article to characterise it as "part mass-confessional and part exhibitionist spectacle in which some users offered one another virtual absolution in the same way society often already does", and not mention the kind of 'fuck you and your clichéd self-justifications' reactions.
posted by bitteschoen at 10:48 PM on July 29, 2012 [11 favorites]


Got about three bullshit excuses into the article. Got sick to my stomach. Got the fuck out of there.
posted by windykites at 1:05 AM on July 30, 2012


Ehm thought I'd share just another link that may be of interest for those still following -- found in the comments to the xojane post I linked to above -- it's from the Scarleteen sex advice website: How You Guys -- that's right, you GUYS -- Can Prevent Rape. Jump to the bit (or click on the individual page) "How can you men know if someone is giving consent or not" - makes some very good points, that should be obvious to anyone, but obviously aren't, within a sort of 'yes means yes / enthusiastic consent' approach to consent. Also, this related post also dug out from comments to previous links:
Having sex that isn't rape is like cooking food that isn't poison. It's the bare goddamn minimum. (...) Few things worry me more than people (okay, men) who say it's difficult to know if someone's consenting or not. This suggests to me not just that they could be violating someone's consent, but that even if they aren't, they're having terrible sex.

Sexual communication does have gray areas and fuzzy middle grounds. It's just that they aren't between rape and not rape--if that isn't a bright glowing line then you have a bright glowing imperative to stop cold until it is. No, the gray area is between okay sex and great sex, between compromise sex and consensus sex, between "alright, sure" sex and "oh my god yeah let's do this" sex. (...)

So it saddens me when sexual communication is treated as being about consent only. Consent is step one. Consent is getting the keys to the car. But it isn't knowing how to drive it.

And it flat-out horrifies me when sexual consent is treated as fuzzy, because if you don't know for sure if your partner even wants to be doing this, you definitely don't know what they actually like.
There should be more of that kind of approach when addressing the topic. Consent really needs better marketing with the target demographic.
posted by bitteschoen at 1:35 AM on July 30, 2012 [14 favorites]


Every time people start talking about how difficult and awkward it is to get consent, I want to direct them to the Pervocracy post on the issue. (NSFW text)
posted by peppermind at 6:33 AM on July 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


Wow. This thread has been incredibly hard to read. I'm going to respond to a lot here. I'm going to use the gendered social reality that men are usually rapists and women are usually the victims. I am aware that rapists can be any gender and so can victims.

"Let men get together and brag about how they ran away from women who didn't want to have sex with them and found something else to do." yonega

Some men already do this. You know what they call the women who don't want to have sex with them? Frigid bitches or Cock Tease or that whore who led me on for hours and left me with blue balls or I don't understand why she sucked your dick but wouldn't let me finger her pussy after I bought her dinner.

The privilege of leaving is given in this comment to the presumably larger, presumably hornier male, as something to brag about. Women are often asked, "why didn't you leave?" in addition to all of the other questions about how much alcohol was consumed and how were you dressed and what were you doing at his apartment on the first date. And to women who did manage leave? The question is a shade of "why did you let it get so far that you had to run, naked, from a house you did not know the address of?" Running away is a responsibility or a privilege, depending on which side of the situation you're in.

Fuck that. You don't get a cookie for not being a rapist. Not raping is the minimum of decent human interaction. A guy should have the guts to figure out ahead of time if he might be getting himself revved up to a point of anger and frustration. A guy should be able to learn how to take his own horniness temperature, so to speak. There is quite a lot of ground to cover from "I fancy you" to "you are not reciprocating in a way that is acceptable and I find that to be an unfortunate word choice, for the record to me, so I am leaving in an angry huff. This needs to be something we learn to think about and talk about, and listen for clues about earlier in the night. Jokes by anyone about rape or raping. Jokes about women belonging barefoot in the kitchen. Jokes about hating women, or women being stupid, or comments that women look slutty. These jokes are serious. And rapists often make them. As has been pointed out here before in previous threads, when men who are not rapists make such jokes, it provides cover for real rapists. Actual rapists believe they have backup, believe they are talking to another rapist. Actual rapists believe that the woman(usually) in their company, hearing these jokes, understand that she is being bought dinner in exchange for the impending rape. As has been mentioned, many many rapists don't think they are rapists. They think they are about to have fun, sexy, struggling sex. They aren't planning to describe their actions as rape. They are planning to give their date a little too much to drink, maybe some drugs. They are planning to get their date into unfamiliar territory and away from friends/transportation/hearing range for some "privacy." They are planning to have another date with this woman (or maybe not). They are planning to run into this person in chemistry class, or at another work function, to flirt and drink with again.

Sex is even more complicated.
Some socioeconomic studies of contraceptive use suggest that women who are taught that they must attract a trustworthy and faithful man are reluctant to insist on condom use. Because insisting on a condom suggests to a man that you do not trust him (to be free of an STD, and/or to stick around if he impregnates you). Men often say as much, "What, you don't trust me? Baby, I love you. You can trust me." The crux of the issue is...what does it say about her, as a woman, that she has attracted a man she cannot trust? It says (subtly, painfully) that she did not, cannot attract an upstanding, honest man. And worse yet, this guy who she feels she cannot trust, will leave her for not trusting. And then she will be alone. And when people ask the guy why he left, he will say, "she didn't trust me!" And his peers might say, "But you are a good guy! Why doesn't she trust you? What is wrong with her? Maybe she wants you to wear a condom because she has something..."

Or maybe he just says he forgot to pick up the condoms, but it's just this one time. Often, she risks it, without even being consciously aware of all of the social baggage and bullshit that this upbringing has loaded onto her.

Why does our society continue to tell girls and women that being in an unhealthy relationship is preferable to being alone? Why is a partner who disrespects us in any way an alternative with more social status than being single? Many will tell us that a household needs a man, children need their fathers, or my least favorite, "he's usually a good guy, he only sometimes gets violent."

Men continue to rape and otherwise cross boundaries because they are taught that it is ok. Yes, indeed. And women continue to tolerate this shit because we are taught that we have to. That men are born this way, or that the rewards are worth it. We all have to change. One of us at a time.

"Disclosure: I have a daughter, and I have every intention (when she's older) of letting her know that some boys and men don't always have the best of intentions, especially when hormones get involved."palquito This is part of sexual health dialogues is always especially troubling for me, because families are always talking about "when they're older." How old damnit? Who do you think preys on small children? People who have access to small children. People you think you can trust around small children. Additionally, if you wait until the kids are 9, they've already heard a lot of misinformation from their friends. And/or they are embarassed to be hearing about it from you because it's new. But you can start these conversations about respect and autonomy and agency now, today. They decide now who they hug, or hang out with.

Finally, regarding the rape poster and the various tone arguments against it. What the fuck is going on here? How are questions like "was your skirt too short?" or "there have been rumors about him doing this to other girls, what did you expect?" not subjected to the TONE argument? These are some infantilizing bullshit tone deaf types of things to foist upon victims and potential victims. The following are all condescending and rude: telling women that they cannot be alone, must carry a weapon, are to blame if the weapon is turned against them, ought not be out after dark, may not travel to unfamiliar neighborhoods, must remain 100% vigilant (and it's corollary, "why are you so paranoid, just relax!"), must always remain with their group, not allow themselves to get drugged, not become stranded, be careful how they dress themselves.
posted by bilabial at 3:16 PM on July 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


that men are usually rapists and women are usually the victims.

This is my greatest grammar fail ever.

Ever.

I meant that rapists are usually men and the victims of rape are usually women (or children).

that was embarassing.
posted by bilabial at 5:50 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is a response thread from a psychiatrist up on the front page of Reddit now.
posted by Panjandrum at 12:03 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Now comes a heavy make-out session. The boy or man moves from breast-groping to fingering. Bang! With that move, he is now a rapist by the definitions of many of the people here. Why? Because it turns out that the girl/woman didn't want to go that far. How was he to know? Well, she stiffened.

Wow. I have a lot of problems with this scenario you've cooked up, and none of them are that the guy is "now a rapist by the definitions of many of the people here." Breast-groping? Gross. Those breasts aren't just squeeze toys - they're attached to a real, living human being who could derive pleasure from them being handled. And this scenario guy goes from mashing this girl's breasts to suddenly sticking his finger in her vagina? Again, displaying no awareness that there is a person with feelings, nerve endings, and sensations attached to these body parts this guy wants to play with. I'm kinda in favor of him catching a lot of crap off people in this thread.

You know, I managed to have sex with a good number of guys without ever going from kissing and stroking their hair right to sticking a finger up their butt. And if I had ever done something like that, I would deserve to be called out on it. It REALLY is possible to have sex and discuss consent and touch people without violating them. Jesus.
posted by Squeak Attack at 7:30 AM on July 31, 2012 [19 favorites]


Wow. I have a lot of problems with this scenario you've cooked up, and none of them are that the guy is "now a rapist by the definitions of many of the people here." Breast-groping? Gross. Those breasts aren't just squeeze toys - they're attached to a real, living human being who could derive pleasure from them being handled. And this scenario guy goes from mashing this girl's breasts to suddenly sticking his finger in her vagina? Again, displaying no awareness that there is a person with feelings, nerve endings, and sensations attached to these body parts this guy wants to play with. I'm kinda in favor of him catching a lot of crap off people in this thread.

This thread is pretty much done, at this point, but let me just add the following:

You're straw-manning my argument a bit. Many of the encounters, consensual or not, that were being discussed in that thread were between what we would consider children, or barely out of their minority if they were technically adults. We're not talking about 35 year old women here! In many teen encounters, I'm afraid it really does go that quickly. I don't know if the boy accepts breast touching as tacit approval for further sexual exploration, or if it's the hormones, or what, but a lot of those episodes escalate rather quickly, and are over just as fast.
posted by Palquito at 7:59 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


AlterNet, via Salon: Inside the Mind of a Serial Rapist
It’s an unflinching and incredibly insightful document, a reminder that the persistent notion of sexual assault somehow only counting if it happens to a modestly dressed lady who’s attacked by a stranger in utter BS. It happens in vague and complicated situations, every day and night. It happens between buddies. It happens between boyfriends and girlfriends. The lines are not always clear-cut. ... The thread is a powerful testament to the insidiousness of sexual coercion, and of how damaging to both men and women the culture of silence can be. It’s still expected that nice girls won’t make a fuss. Females are still raised to keep quiet and not make a scene, even when they want say no. They’re raised to keep quiet, even after they’ve been abused. And that’s nowhere more harrowingly clear than in the story of the man who claims to be “a post-colleged age male who raped several girls through use of coercion, alcohol, and other tactics over a course of 3 years.”
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:31 AM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


A lot of this came up in Sweden around the time the allegations were made against Assange. There was a lot of discussion as to what "counts". Twitter was awash with the tags #prataomdet and #talkaboutit, site, with people sharing their own stories. Kinda surprised it wasn't previously on metafilter.
posted by Iteki at 10:22 AM on August 1, 2012


Link from a link from a related post: Meet the Predators.
posted by eviemath at 11:05 AM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would love to know how much of that 6% hangs out with one another, social circle wise. I wonder how you even begin to quantify something like that.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:35 AM on August 9, 2012


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