Ladies, you should know better!
April 26, 2006 11:04 AM   Subscribe

Feminism causes rape. Or, maybe not.
posted by nofundy (166 comments total)

 
Vaginas cause rape, clearly.
posted by klangklangston at 11:09 AM on April 26, 2006


I'm sure you're being sarcastic as, for the most part, penises cause rape.
posted by ?! at 11:10 AM on April 26, 2006


Broom handles?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 11:11 AM on April 26, 2006


If young women would simply wear chastity belts until a proper brideprice has been negotiated, we could wipe out rape in the US!
posted by klangklangston at 11:15 AM on April 26, 2006


Hit the wrong damn button

Obviously, rapists come in many shapes, sizes, and sexual orientations. They all have in common a desire to subjugate someone against their will. Women (and men) have been raped no matter their age, time of day, what they wore , how they acted, where they lived, or who they knew.
posted by ?! at 11:16 AM on April 26, 2006


Rapists cause rape, just like thieves cause theft. But the point that failed to be made in the first link is that there is something to be said for keeping your wits about you and avoiding dangerous situations whenever possible.

For instance, someone who steals a wallet full of cash from someone drunkenly passed out on a park bench in a bad neighborhood is still a thief, but the drunk should know better. Likewise, a rapist is still a rapist, but it's good to inculcate people with survival skills.
posted by jonmc at 11:16 AM on April 26, 2006


There are stupid and violent people in cultures that both support and abhor Feminism. Clearly stupid and violent people attribute to rape, not Feminism.
posted by eatdonuts at 11:17 AM on April 26, 2006


And let not women's weapons, water drops, stain my man's cheeks!
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 11:18 AM on April 26, 2006


She lost me at "ladies."
posted by schoolgirl report at 11:19 AM on April 26, 2006




The Wall Street Journal editorial is one of the most poorly written I've seen. The author links feminism to rape like this:

"Time magazine reporter Barrett Seaman explains that many of the college women he interviewed for his book "Binge" (2005) 'saw drinking as a gender equity issue; they have as much right as the next guy to belly up to the bar.' "

Is there ANY piece of feminist literature/work/ideology ANYWHERE that says binge drinking is a gender equity issue? Maybe some stupid women, grasping for a way to justify getting smashed, reached for the "girl power" thing, due not to feminism but the appropriation of feminism by marketing forces (to sell alcohol, makeup, whatever.) But saying that girls getting drunk is related to feminism and equality-with-men in any way is pulling something out of one's ass in a rather spectacular fashion.
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 11:20 AM on April 26, 2006


Sexual assault on a college campus? Someone was murdered in NYC? Sounds like the pinkos on college campuses are at it again... Great work by Ms. Riley in demonstrating the connection.
posted by ibmcginty at 11:25 AM on April 26, 2006


From talking with female friends that have gone through violent attacks, everyone seems to point to their intuition telling them something was wrong right before something really bad happened and a few of them kind of replay it a lot wondering if things would be different if they did something in time. I know the WSJ editorial is totally lame but it is important to listen to your intuition and try and keep your wits about you, even when you've had something to drink and you're out very late and you're alone.
posted by mathowie at 11:27 AM on April 26, 2006


You have no idea how tired I am of hearing "Of COURSE rape is wrong, but you women should be more careful!"

I belive it was Florence King who recommended that all women be given pistols at 13 to take care of this issue. I think I prefer her point of view to having people shake their fingers at me for basically, daring to leave the house, meet new people, or drink.

I am careful, damn careful. I could still get attacked, no matter how careful I am. Someone could still slip something into my drink, or just hit me over the head, or draw a gun, or pretend to be a nice guy until I said "not tonight." Maybe I'm not the problem here. Maybe being made an automatic target because of my equipment is the problem.
posted by emjaybee at 11:31 AM on April 26, 2006 [2 favorites]


The author is saying that while risky behavior doesn't cause rape, cautious behavior can prevent it. This is fine and common sense advice, but I fail to see how it has much to do with feminism. The attempt to oppose feminism to her advice seems somewhat forced.
posted by adzuki at 11:33 AM on April 26, 2006


emjaybee: please. telling people to develop street-smarts is not the same as you put it 'shaking fingers,' in your face.
posted by jonmc at 11:34 AM on April 26, 2006


"Of COURSE rape is wrong, but you women should be more careful!"

I don't think anyone here quite said that
posted by poppo at 11:37 AM on April 26, 2006


Where this crap comes from (second link):

It's hard to imagine that many intelligent adults would look at that brutal rape and homicide and think, "Wow, what a stupid dead girl." But that's the company she keeps. Schaefer Riley's early writing on religion was subsidized by the John M. Olin Foundation, which--before it closed in 2005--gave hundreds of thousands to help female writers such as Christina Hoff Sommers, author of "Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women," produce highly inaccurate polemics and media programs foment the idea that feminists whine too much about rape, that date rape is a "myth" and that the Violence Against Women Act is unnecessary.

Scaife, Olins, Coors, Kochs, Ahmanson, other former Birchers and Nazis, hating commoners and fighting for institutionalized monarchy
posted by nofundy at 11:38 AM on April 26, 2006


Men get raped. How soon all of you forget the film Deliverance. So I guess camping trips cause rape too.
posted by GoodJob! at 11:47 AM on April 26, 2006


Young boys should know that older men are trying to molest them. Obviously, child-raping is WRONG. But boys, well... who hasn't though, 'They should've known better' after hearing a child was lured into a stranger's basement?

Liberal child-rearing practices -- all precipitated on the idea that children deserve the same rights to free movement as adults -- have contributed directly to this problem. In the old days, when children were seen and not heard, and kept busy milking cows and sleeping off the day's work, there was no need for pictures on milk cartons.

Etc etc.
posted by verb at 11:52 AM on April 26, 2006


Murder victims should have used a little more common sense.
posted by salvia at 11:53 AM on April 26, 2006


The WSJ article was poorly written, but the WeNews response was completely dishonest. As to the subtance: we can't have the world was we want it to be, we can only have the world as it is.
posted by Falconetti at 11:53 AM on April 26, 2006


everyone seems to point to their intuition telling them something was wrong right before something really bad happened ... it is important to listen to your intuition

This is the main point of the excellent book The Gift of Fear, which I highly recommend. Gavin De Becker is a very highly paid security specialist.

The human brain is really, really good at picking up on tiny signals of danger. People, especially young women, need to learn to listen to these instincts and avoid trouble.
posted by frogan at 11:54 AM on April 26, 2006


But boys, well... who hasn't though, 'They should've known better' after hearing a child was lured into a stranger's basement?

No, but I am glad that my parents warned me not to go into a stranger's basement and that I listened. And I don't veiw my lack of knowledge of strange basements as any kind of great loss or infringement on my freedoms.
posted by jonmc at 11:55 AM on April 26, 2006


No, but I am glad that my parents warned me not to go into a stranger's basement and that I listened. And I don't veiw my lack of knowledge of strange basements as any kind of great loss or infringement on my freedoms.
Oh, it's not just about that. Children these days want to go on field trips and hikes and parties with friends and to the mall. That's where the problem lies, y'know. The stranger's basement is just the end-point of the foul trajectory of liberal child-rearing.
posted by verb at 12:00 PM on April 26, 2006


emjaybee: please. telling people to develop street-smarts is not the same as you put it 'shaking fingers,' in your face.

I think the point is that it's disingenuous to say them in the same breath. In the same conversation.

You want to teach your kids, students, and whoever about street smarts? You do that on a Tuesday. And maybe on a Friday you teach them about how nobody deserves to be raped and it is never ever your fault.

When you talk about both in the same breath you are effectively disparaging one in favor of the other.
posted by birdie birdington at 12:01 PM on April 26, 2006


keep building that strawman, verb. Unless you honestly believe that teaching street survival skills to women is somehow tantamount to excusing rape, which some of you all seem to believe.
posted by jonmc at 12:03 PM on April 26, 2006


birdington: I repectfully disagree with you that to speak of prevention is to disparage victims. Sorry, I just don't see it that way.
posted by jonmc at 12:05 PM on April 26, 2006


You know it's funny, because I was just thinking that ivy-league college boys who do not want to be nationally known as alleged rapists should probably not hire strippers to their parties in the first place. Just 'sayin.
posted by lilboo at 12:09 PM on April 26, 2006


ACC college boys, on the other hand...
posted by Kwantsar at 12:13 PM on April 26, 2006


A police investigation has confirmed that on the night of her murder, Ms. St. Guillen was last seen in a bar, alone and drinking at 3 a.m. on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It does not diminish Mr. Littlejohn's guilt or the tragedy of Ms. St. Guillen's death to note what more than a few of us have been thinking--that a 24-year-old woman should know better.

This is such bullshit, I'm sorry. I hate this attitude of fear that people think women should be in 24/7. It's absurd. Even though it does happen, the chances of being raped and murdered are very low. Low enough that it shouldn't be too big of a worry. The biggest risk of rape women face is date rape, anyway (I think).

You know it's funny, because I was just thinking that ivy-league college boys who do not want to be nationally known as alleged rapists should probably not hire strippers to their parties in the first place. Just 'sayin.

What do strippers have to do with rape? Are you accusing everyone who goes to strip clubs of being rapists, or only those who hire strippers?
posted by delmoi at 12:13 PM on April 26, 2006


i don't think Duke qualifies as ivy league, either
posted by poppo at 12:15 PM on April 26, 2006


I believe it was Florence King who recommended that all women be given pistols at 13 to take care of this issue.

Um, keep in mind we're talking about drunk women here. Having a bunch of drunks walking around with guns is not a good idea, regardless of their gender.
posted by delmoi at 12:17 PM on April 26, 2006


Wait a second. One of the criticisms I've often heard lobbed at feminism is that it encourages women to be suspicious of men, and to not trust men to behave themselves.

But now feminism is being blamed for women being too trusting?

Is there no negative aspect of society we feminists haven't caused?
posted by RubicleSpoon at 12:20 PM on April 26, 2006


RubicleSpoon: the dilemma you describe is not unique to feminism. It's an age old question of whether the world is ultimately a friendly or hostile place, and how to deal with the answer.
posted by jonmc at 12:22 PM on April 26, 2006


Young boys should know that older men are trying to molest them. Obviously, child-raping is WRONG. But boys, well... who hasn't though, 'They should've known better' after hearing a child was lured into a stranger's basement?

Most children (the vast majority) are molested by people they know.
posted by delmoi at 12:22 PM on April 26, 2006


lilboo pretty much hit the nail on the head as far as the "credibility" or logic of the first article.

And I'm with birdie and emjaybee.

poppo: I don't think anyone here quite said that

Huh? That's exactly what the WSJ said. In fact, the title of the article is "Ladies, you should know better".
posted by dobbs at 12:24 PM on April 26, 2006


dobbs, possibly my misunderstanding, but i thought emjaybee was reacting to a couple of comments above, neither of which said that
posted by poppo at 12:27 PM on April 26, 2006


I had a conversation about the Duke rape case with my cabbie the other day.

He asserted that any "girl" who takes a job like that "deserves what she gets".

I asserted that I agreed:
"I was just thinking that," quoth I, "... that any boy who puts himself in a questionable situation like that and just can't control where his penis goes deserves exactly what he gets: to be tried in a court of law, accused of rape."

Then I got out of the cab, gave my usual tip and wished him a good day.
posted by kalessin at 12:27 PM on April 26, 2006


dobbs: you'll notice that in my first comment, I said that the Journal article failed to make it's point, mainly because it felt the need to wrap it in so much anti-feminist rhetoric.
posted by jonmc at 12:27 PM on April 26, 2006



The author is saying that while risky behavior doesn't cause rape, cautious behavior can prevent it. This is fine and common sense advice, but I fail to see how it has much to do with feminism.

I also fail to see how it contributes to the public discussion, other than to transfer some of the blame to the victim.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:29 PM on April 26, 2006


I also fail to see how it contributes to the public discussion, other than to transfer some of the blame to the victim.

Something that might help prevent a rape and increase women's safety dosen't contribute to th epublic discussion of the topic? You can argue the merits of the advice all you want, but on the face of it, that's an inane thing to say.
posted by jonmc at 12:31 PM on April 26, 2006


I second birdie on the "same breath" sentiment. The only reason people even have to say "of course, no one deserves to be raped," is that not that long ago people did speak of women as "asking for it."

You rarely see an editorial about an armed holdup advising "the rich" to have more common sense than the average person, implying the victims were partially responsible. No one would ever say a runway model should have known he or she would be mugged after displaying all that elegant and expensive jewelry. May be true -- the very rich and those displaying expensive jewelry may need to be a bit more careful -- but you hear prevention advice in maybe one of a hundred news articles, not one in every two. There's a very thin line between subtly blaming the crime on the women and prevention-oriented advice that comes out of sincere concern (that's how I take matthowie, frogan, etc).

On preview, Slarty Bartfast said it better.
posted by salvia at 12:31 PM on April 26, 2006


No one would ever say a runway model should have known he or she would be mugged after displaying all that elegant and expensive jewelry.

Actually, I've heard plenty of people say "what was that idiot thinking, parking a nice car like that in a neighborhood like this?" and similar statements in conversation.
posted by jonmc at 12:32 PM on April 26, 2006


i would like to announce that all self defense classes for this semester have been cancelled, as it has been deemed that they inherently blame the victim
posted by poppo at 12:35 PM on April 26, 2006


the Journal article failed to make it's point, mainly because it felt the need to wrap it in so much anti-feminist rhetoric.

I would argue that the antifeminist rhetoric was the point of the article, and that the concern for women's safety was just a vehicle for that rhetoric.
posted by 912 Greens at 12:36 PM on April 26, 2006


the police have all been laid off as well. also, turn off the streetlights.
posted by jonmc at 12:37 PM on April 26, 2006


delmoi: Most children (the vast majority) are molested by people they know.

Interestingly enough, the same can be said about women who are raped . I believe that it's also the same case for people who are murdered.
posted by illovich at 12:38 PM on April 26, 2006


I would argue that the antifeminist rhetoric was the point of the article, and that the concern for women's safety was just a vehicle for that rhetoric.

exactly. what I tried to do was make the point about women's safety without such anti-feminist rhetoric, because I do actually consider myself pro-feminist.
posted by jonmc at 12:38 PM on April 26, 2006


jonmc, in news articles?

My next WSJ editorial will read: "The victims of yesterday's suicide bombing in Israel should have used more common sense." /sarcasm
posted by salvia at 12:38 PM on April 26, 2006


The antifeminist point of the article was clearly this:

Radical feminists used to warn that men are evil and dangerous... But that message did not seem reconcilable with another core feminist notion--that women should be liberated from social constraints, especially those that require them to behave differently from men.


The messages do reconcile-- it's just that people can get hurt by the reconciliation. Which doesn't mean that they couldn't get hurt otherwise, of course, or that there necessarily exists a better alternative.
posted by Kwantsar at 12:39 PM on April 26, 2006


jonmc, in news articles?

an op-ed piece. and 'op' stands for 'opinion.'
posted by jonmc at 12:40 PM on April 26, 2006


"The victims of yesterday's suicide bombing in Israel should have used more common sense."

and yet, i have something about this in my list of things not to do: it's listed as "don't ride the public bus in downtown tel aviv"
posted by poppo at 12:41 PM on April 26, 2006


i would like to announce that all self defense classes for this semester have been cancelled, as it has been deemed that they inherently blame the victim

Did you read the second link? The author talks about how feminists are actually all about self-defense. This is important, because the notion that feminists do not value common sense and self-protection is a total red herring.
posted by 912 Greens at 12:43 PM on April 26, 2006


jonmc, I think that the advice, were it given neutrally and non-accusatorily, might have been helpful in a generic sense - I think that there are people in the world who blithely walk through life without thinking critically about survival - but the way it was delivered was uncareful and essentially disrespectful.

The implication of the advice, as given (especially in that WSJ Op-Ed piece), and as I received it from my cabbie is that it's inherently hazardous to be an exotic dancer (in the case of the Duke case), so if you get raped because the job took you into a hazardous place, you should have known better, and shouldn't deserve pity, assistance or sympathy, legal or otherwise.

That's cold. It's also unhelpful. It's also un-Christian and all around not nice.

Most of the people I know who are survivors of rape and/or abuse, don't find that kind of advice helpful. They find it patronizing to assume that a stranger knows enough about the situation that led to the rape and/or abuse to say that one pithy statement about how the victim should have been more careful explains it all. It usually doesn't. In fact, it's usually just plain insulting.

If someone wants to help rape and abuse victims, I say go for it, but I don't think that it's actually helpful to render pithy, generally unapplicable, disrespectful and insulting advice as the only form of help.

Advice for would be helpers: Go volunteer at a rape crisis center or an abuse hotline for a while, maybe. Then try to be pithy and helpful at the same time.
posted by kalessin at 12:44 PM on April 26, 2006


JonMC: Respectfully, I think you may have missed my point.

Different feminists take different stances on the age-old Hobbes vs. Rousseau debate. But I have yet to ever hear a single feminist say that it's a good idea to engage in obviously risky behavior like, say, going out and getting incredibly trashed. What feminism argues is that – while going out and getting incredibly trashed is stupid – it shouldn't be even more dangerous just because of your gender.

If Ms. Riley had really wanted to just make an argument that "Hey, people, maybe doing X activity is a bad idea, because it's risky", that would have been fine. But what she was really trying (and not very well) to do was tie "doing X activity" to "being a feminist", which is absurd. While there's a good argument to be made re: common sense, in this article that argument was just a red herring.
posted by RubicleSpoon at 12:45 PM on April 26, 2006


jonmc, I think that the advice, were it given neutrally and non-accusatorily, might have been helpful in a generic sense -

are you talking about the way the journal article put it, or the way I said it in the thread? I just want to be clear.
posted by jonmc at 12:46 PM on April 26, 2006


I thought the "op" stood for opposite.
posted by Kwantsar at 12:47 PM on April 26, 2006


If someone wants to help rape and abuse victims, I say go for it, but I don't think that it's actually helpful to render pithy, generally unapplicable, disrespectful and insulting advice as the only form of help.

Perhaps I'm overly cynical, but I don't think Riley and people like her give a shit about rape victims. They have their own agenda and they're using this issue to further it.

I saw this article last week, so I've had plenty of time to get really pissed off about it. I think the second article does a pretty good job refuting Riley's disingenuous claims.
posted by 912 Greens at 12:51 PM on April 26, 2006


jonmc, to be clear, I'm not saying that you're anti-feminist, nor any comment of yours above. I just like Birdie's idea that we separate shock over the crime from prevention advice. (Again, I'm not talking about any advice in this thread.) Maybe people could even refrain from criticizing victims' actions altogether. We could talk about prevention in abstract terms, without using the victims as examples of "what you'll get" if you don't follow the advice. Yeah, even as an "opinion," I find that idea worth criticizing.

and yet, i have something about this in my list of things not to do: it's listed as "don't ride the public bus in downtown tel aviv"

poppo, hey, me too! And yet, I have not seen that advice in any newspaper article I've read. "Why is that?" is my point. (One may exist, but if it were posted on mefi, I'd criticize it, too.)

(And I'm taking off for a meeting, so I have to drop out of the discussion, but it's been interesting -- thanks for getting me to think about this more.)
posted by salvia at 12:51 PM on April 26, 2006


We could talk about prevention in abstract terms, without using the victims as examples of "what you'll get" if you don't follow the advice.

Is that actually practical? Effective advice (on anything) is usually grounded in real world nuts & bolts examples.
posted by jonmc at 12:53 PM on April 26, 2006


On reading some of the later comments in this thread I hope I'm not coming off as sounding like the cabbie in the example above.

I just didn't see the discussion of prevention/cautionary behavior as being a root of "blame the victim"
posted by poppo at 12:55 PM on April 26, 2006


There's a fine line between sincere concern for women's safety and social control masquerading as sincere concern for women's safety.

I choose to walk around alone at night because I don't feel unsafe doing so. (This has been true when I lived in the suburbs, when I lived in a small town, when I lived in a good section of a big city). And this has its risks, okay. Not very large risks, statistically speaking. I have injured myself more by cooking, by sewing, by riding my bike, by running to the bus stop, and by not checking the heights of doors before walking through them, than by walking alone at night. And who would say "Ooh, that's so dangerous, you shouldn't sew, you shouldn't cook"?

Risky behavior has its consequences. But there are some times when risky behavior is labeled "stupid" and some times when it's not, and... I think people who get hurt bungee-jumping and rock-climbing get fewer people telling them "You shouldn't have done something so stupid" than do rape victims who were doing something that could possibly be labeled unwise.
posted by Jeanne at 1:01 PM on April 26, 2006


Incidentally - why are we talking about rape like it's something that only happens if you've been engaged in risk behavior? Most rape victims are attacked by someone they know and have a right to trust. (A friend of mine, actually, has been struggling in the courts for over a year trying to get an ex-boyfriend of hers convicted over repeated attacks.) That has nothing whatsoever to do with street smarts, and everything to do with people who look and act perfectly normal and hide that they're scum until they don't get their way.
posted by RubicleSpoon at 1:02 PM on April 26, 2006


You know what causes rape? Rapists.
posted by davejay at 1:07 PM on April 26, 2006


You know what causes rape? Rapists.

is there an echo in here?
posted by jonmc at 1:12 PM on April 26, 2006


Ok, I've abandoned subtlety to bring you an important update: this is the problem with the WSJ article.
posted by lilboo at 1:13 PM on April 26, 2006


You have no idea how tired I am of hearing "Of COURSE rape is wrong, but you women should be more careful!"


Me fucking too. I'm so fucking pissed at hearing this yet again. It is no one's fucking fault but the rapist's. End of story. Period. The end.
posted by agregoli at 1:16 PM on April 26, 2006


Look, I think we can agree that there are many things we can do to make ourselves less likely of being victims of any crime. But that doesn't mean that when we are victims we caused the behavior of the perpetrator. Each person must make their own decisions about accepting risk versus living in fear. For example, identity theft. Some people choose not purchase anything online, others do. If the person who purchases something online gets his credit card number stolen, is it his fault? And the fact remains that even the person who isn't a religious customer of Amazon.com could still get his credit card number taken.

Rape is the same way. There are tons of things a rape victim could have done to prevent her own rape. Not hung out in the bar drunk. Taken self-defense classes. Hired bodyguards to protect her. Sewn her vagina shut. Trained for ten years in a Shaolin monastery, developing near-extrasensory perception and top-class kung fu skills and eventually becoming capable of snapping the neck of a 6'5' man who's 250 pounds of solid muscle twenty-seven different ways in five seconds. I mean, I could go on and on with this list.

And it's good if a woman (or man) is aware of these preventative options available to them, and even better if they take advantage of them (especially in the case of the monastery training, that would be fucking awesome). But if they don't use them, that doesn't mean they are any more deserving or culpable for their rape.

I don't think anyone is questioning these points. I think the problem is when you're asking when it is appropriate to raise dialogue about them if your goal is to help, not sound accusatory. In this context, where you have a woman talking about a drunk girl who got raped saying "What a stupid cunt, why was she drunk?", that's, um, not really helpful.
posted by schroedinger at 1:17 PM on April 26, 2006


Nobody is denying that, agregoli. But the angry response at any discussion of surrounding issues smacks of almost superstitious fear.
posted by jonmc at 1:18 PM on April 26, 2006


Interestingly enough, the same can be said about women who are raped . I believe that it's also the same case for people who are murdered.

Not only can it be said, it has been said. By me earlier in the thread :P
posted by delmoi at 1:20 PM on April 26, 2006


I don't think anyone is questioning these points. I think the problem is when you're asking when it is appropriate to raise dialogue about them if your goal is to help, not sound accusatory. In this context, where you have a woman talking about a drunk girl who got raped saying "What a stupid cunt, why was she drunk?", that's, um, not really helpful.

Yes. And, further I don't think anyone in here was praising the Riley piece.
posted by poppo at 1:21 PM on April 26, 2006


and answer me this question: if I went out and got blitzed and passed out on a park bench and woke up without my wallet, would your first response be 'poor fellow, he got robbed,' or 'wow, what an idiot?'

Obviously, that's pushing it as far as a metaphor, since robbery is not rape and I'd never call a rape victim an idiot, but my point is that people do blame victims of other crimes for their victimization as well.
posted by jonmc at 1:22 PM on April 26, 2006


Damn you comma, move over where I meant for you to be!
posted by poppo at 1:22 PM on April 26, 2006


jonmc, of course the whole 'liberal parenting causes molestation' bit is a stupid straw man. It's just as fallacious as the author's 'feminism is at least partially to blame for rape' absurdity. That was the point. The subtext of her article -- no, scratch that, the full text -- is that the societal burden for preventing rape is predominantly the responsibility of potential victims.

On the individual level, it's certainly true that some victims did risky things and that all perpetrators made their own choices to commit a violent and abusive crime. That's not what her article talks about, though. The individuals who appear are just 'color' for the larger statement about how we as a society should deal with rape. Her answer? Women gotta be more careful.
posted by verb at 1:25 PM on April 26, 2006


A police investigation has confirmed that on the night of her murder, Ms. St. Guillen was last seen in a bar, alone and drinking at 3 a.m. on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Since when is Lafayette and Prince the Lower East Side? Everyone I know would consider it SoHo or Nolita. But I guess "alone and drinking in SoHo" wouldn't put the fear into the Journal's readers, who shop and drink there themselves.

And, yes, "op-ed" means "opposite the editorial page", not "opinions and editorials".
posted by nicwolff at 1:25 PM on April 26, 2006


My sister-in-law was raped in her home by what appeared to be a stranger - he was masked. Evidence pointed to him having been observing her for quite some time.

This event motivated me to begin instructing women's self defense classes to "At Risk" women (many victims previously) at the Martial Arts school I was teaching at. We did so after much research and in conjunction with a LEO partner and a women's crisis clinic director both who were training at the school.

She (the LEO) brought to our attention one of the clearest statistics (VIA the FBI) of commonality in a large majority of assaults (sexual and non-sexual) and that was the abuse of drugs and alcohol, or the proximity to their consumption. This by either the perpetrator or victim or both. When this factor was addressed - however it was addressed - it was estimated (by the FBI) that the likelihood of assault fell dramatically.

So as instructors we HAD to include all that information there was nothing "anti-feminist" about it.

Now this article is clearly another "agenda" and far removed from wanting to help potential victims. But discussing prevention methods should include ALL the data.
posted by tkchrist at 1:31 PM on April 26, 2006


kalessin, you could have been even more direct and said something about cabbies "getting what they're asking for because of the job they've chosen" every time one gets jacked/killed in a major metro area, which seems to happen at least 2 or 3 times a year in NYC alone....
posted by availablelight at 1:31 PM on April 26, 2006


What feminism argues is that – while going out and getting incredibly trashed is stupid – it shouldn't be even more dangerous just because of your gender.

Some people in this thread confuse 'what should be' with 'what is.' Certainly the author in the second link has. Rarely have I read a more tortured piece.

Women should NOT have to think about what the potential consequences of having 12 tequilas and walking around in The Village wearing a low cut blouse and minidress at 3 am on Saturday morning, but they probably should think about it. Strippers shouldn't have to be concerned when stripping at frat parties, but it makes pretty good sense to be concerned. To not do so, IS foolish. To rail against all men because of this fact is foolish as well. Men don't rape, rapists rape.

Jeanne is dead on, but I have no idea if Jeanne is right that more rape victims are taken to task than injured bunjee jumpers, my sense is; probably not.

Like most topics, the quality of discussion degrades rapidly when people become emotional, and nothing seems to generate emotion more than a topic like rape.
posted by sfts2 at 1:32 PM on April 26, 2006


er, sorry for the echo....
posted by sfts2 at 1:34 PM on April 26, 2006


Couldn't get raped even if she "wore that dress".
posted by basicchannel at 1:35 PM on April 26, 2006


Also, what's up with fundies and mysogyny?
posted by basicchannel at 1:41 PM on April 26, 2006


This is a symptom of a pretty sick society.
posted by sfts2 at 1:44 PM on April 26, 2006


basicchannel,

Startling, yet surprising with-it.
posted by sfts2 at 1:45 PM on April 26, 2006


>quoth I, "... that any boy who puts himself in a questionable situation like that and just can't control where his penis goes deserves exactly what he gets: to be tried in a court of law, accused of rape."

That's funny because I was catching a couple minutes of Bill O'Reilly (its great comedy even if he doesnt know it) and he said something like "People, when you put yourself at risk, you assume the responsbilities" when talking about the Duke situation. It took me a few seconds to realize he was talking about women and not men. Hell, its probably better advice for guys. If someone says "Yeah, we're getting strippers, and booze, and drugs, and guns, and everything! Come over!!" it might be a party you should skip. Personal responsibility and all that jazz cuts both ways I'm afraid.
posted by skallas at 1:47 PM on April 26, 2006


jonmc, there's a difference between getting jackass drunk and passing out on a public park bench, and just going out to a bar with friends. One the person is showing poor judgment. The other, the woman is merely having a night out. Should her victimhood be questioned because how dare she not remember that leaving the house and drinking at a bar may cause a man to be overcome with a need to rape her?

And as the majority of rapes are caused by people who know the victim, how should that be approached? A woman should expect to be raped if she has any contact with another human being, because her mere presence is an instigation to rape?

Meh.

Reading the first article and then some of the comments here, it seems like women should be extra careful because by virtue of being a woman, they are always in danger of being surrounded by people who have no control over themselves nor should be expected to control themselves when confronted by a woman at a disadvantage. And that the problem with feminism, is that it strips her of that knowledge.

"Rape is bad, but..." is just trying to find justification for the rape to have happened.
posted by FunkyHelix at 1:48 PM on April 26, 2006


female friends [...] point to their intuition telling them something was wrong right before something really bad happened - mathowie

Yeah, but women's "intution" gets them worried a lot. I don't thinks there's many men that feel fear just walking the streets as often as the average women does. How many times have these same women had a bad feeling about something that turned out fine? A lot, I'd reckon.

Every woman I know gets heebie-jeebie feelings on a regular basis. "Fear" might be too a strong of a word for it, but concern at least. The vast vast majority of the time this is fine, there is no threat. We can't go into hiding everytime we feel like something is not a-okay, because many of us could never leave the house.

It's easy enough to look back on it and go "I had a bad feeling beforehand" but that's hindsight bias. I have bad feelings regularly, but I typically ignore them and nothing untoward happens.
posted by raedyn at 1:52 PM on April 26, 2006


Women should NOT have to think about what the potential consequences of having 12 tequilas and walking around in The Village wearing a low cut blouse and minidress at 3 am on Saturday morning, but they probably should think about it.

I don't know, I think you'd have a hard time finding any reasonable person who actually disagrees with this. Saying that it's important to be careful and think about your safety is not the same as saying "it's her fault she got raped." Or for that matter "it's feminism's fault she got raped."

I don't really see what's so "tortured" about the second article, either.
posted by 912 Greens at 1:52 PM on April 26, 2006


Back to my example above, that no one says "the victims of yesterday's suicide bombing in Israel should have used more common sense." Mysogyny and blame-the-victim discussions aside, isn't this just bad taste? Don't victims of rape deserve courteous silence or respectful sorrow about the crime they were subjected to? Why should they be made examples of? Even if she was doing the most risky behavior in the world, her behavior does not excuse the rape (it sounds like we all agree on this), so why is her behavior discussed and criticized while discussing the crime? That's where most of my defensive anger comes from. I feel like, "leave her alone already."
posted by salvia at 1:53 PM on April 26, 2006


This is weird. I could swear there was a discussion here years ago about women being cautious of and avoiding dangerous situations.

The irony is that the guys were complaining that they were tired of women assuming they might be dangerous, that they were "nice guys" and didn't like it when women wouldn't get on elevators alone with them. There were complaints that women were too paranoid, and looking for danger where there was none, and that it was bad for them.

The women said, "Hey, we don't hate you and we don't think you're rapists; we just try not to get in situations that we can't get out of, should you turn out to be a psycho killer."

So, apparently, we can be aware, but we can't make anybody feel bad or rejected if we do. Which is the problem right there, because we can't do both; sooner or later we put our faith in the wrong person, maybe because we don't want to cause any hurt feelings, while we completely ignore the fact that our protection should come well before the fragile egos of strangers.

Aha! It was an AskMe question about women living in fear. I'm not going back to rewrite this comment, so forgive me if I've remembered it wrong.
posted by stefanie at 1:55 PM on April 26, 2006


I have an idea, how about it's not a black and white world. It's within my every right as a person to walk through Saudia Arabia with a big shirt that says "JESUS AND AMERICA LOVES YOU", and I shouldn't have to be afraid. Unfortunately the reality of the situation is that it is very stupid. Showing up to drunk to a frat party, having them get verbally aggressive then going back is stupid. Walking around the Village by yourself at 3AM drunk is stupid. Bad choices are not the causation of rape, but there is a high correlation. The two should not be confused.
posted by geoff. at 2:01 PM on April 26, 2006


the clearest statistics (VIA the FBI) of commonality in a large majority of assaults (sexual and non-sexual) and that was the abuse of drugs and alcohol, or the proximity to their consumption. This by either the perpetrator or victim or both. When this factor was addressed - however it was addressed - it was estimated (by the FBI) that the likelihood of assault fell dramatically.

I'd like to see those stats. Link?
posted by birdie birdington at 2:02 PM on April 26, 2006


Actually stefanie, if it's ever at night and say I'm waking down the sidewalk several paces behind a woman walking alone -- I try to do the polite thing and make my way to the other side of the street. Same things with elevators or any other situation where I could be perceived as a "threat". I don't mind it, as I know that statistically, the chance of a strange man raping a woman is astronomically higher than the other way around. Why try to fool myself in thinking otherwise?
posted by geoff. at 2:05 PM on April 26, 2006


So, apparently, we can be aware, but we can't make anybody feel bad or rejected if we do.

No one on this thread, especially me, would or should say anything of the sort. If they do I will take the opportunity, if I could, to slap them upside the head.

We can't go into hiding every time we feel like something is not a-okay, because many of us could never leave the house.

I say if you feel creeped out - take a look around. There is a reason. Doesn't mean the reason is valid. But don't dismiss it. Instead, take a quick assessment and calculate how vulnerable you are in that moment. If you think you can still hang out- simply note exits (and, yes, perhaps some heavy piece of frigg'n furniture you could lop somebody over the head with if you couldn't make it to an exit) and then continue with your evening.

All animals evolved an oversensitive danger alert. Prey animals more so than predators. Smaller animals are always going to be preyed on more.

experience can help you tone it down to rational proportions but if your small I'd advise keeping the sensors tuned and on.

My dog still thinks that all vacuum cleaners are evil killers, but after a few times attacking them, he has realized they are monsters that stand their ground and don't pose too much of a threat if he leaves the room.
posted by tkchrist at 2:14 PM on April 26, 2006


I'd like to see those stats. Link?

It was 13 years ago. I certainly don't have them handy and I can't remember details. This was long before the Internet was a popular source for this kind of information. Look up late 1980's early 90's crime stats on the DOJ web site or call you local LEO community relations officer and ask.
posted by tkchrist at 2:17 PM on April 26, 2006


tkchrist just upped the 'cute' factor of this thread. cute lil' pup...
posted by NationalKato at 2:18 PM on April 26, 2006


Saying that it's important to be careful and think about your safety is not the same as saying "it's her fault she got raped." Or for that matter "it's feminism's fault she got raped."

Sure, but it seems to my reading the comments were more along the lines of 'the beahvior contributed' rather than identifying the 'lack of judgement' as being the sole cause. Some of the comments above have seemed to verge upon railing at anyone that might have the audacity to suggest that perhaps the women could have shown better judgement as tantamount to condoning the rape.

For example, this comment by FunkyHelix

Reading the first article and then some of the comments here, it seems like women should be extra careful because by virtue of being a woman, they are always in danger of being surrounded by people who have no control over themselves nor should be expected to control themselves when confronted by a woman at a disadvantage.

My point is only that women DO need to extra careful because they are women. The fact that it is disgraceful that this is the case is irrelevant, it is the case, and women should be encouraged to modify their behavior to deal with the reality of life, not some ideal. To take those that encourage them to modify their behavior to task is not helpful, in my view.
posted by sfts2 at 2:20 PM on April 26, 2006


I say if you feel creeped out - take a look around. There is a reason. Doesn't mean the reason is valid. But don't dismiss it. Instead, take a quick assessment and calculate how vulnerable you are in that moment. If you think you can still hang out- simply note exits (and, yes, perhaps some heavy piece of frigg'n furniture you could lop somebody over the head with if you couldn't make it to an exit) and then continue with your evening. - tkchrist

Yes. This is what I (and most women) do. But mathowie's saying "listen to your instincts". I'm not proposing that they should be completely ignored, but our instincts lie to us more than they are correct. When do you listen to them or not? "Look over your shoulder to assess risk" is one thing when you're walking down the street at night, but most rapes don't happen this way. They are perpetrated by friends, husbands, ex-boyfriends, study partners -- people that women have a reason to trust.
posted by raedyn at 2:24 PM on April 26, 2006


My point is only that women DO need to extra careful because they are women.

And my point is that the author of the lamentably bad op-ed piece sees this as a repudiation of feminism rather than evidence that society still has a long way to go.
posted by verb at 2:26 PM on April 26, 2006


I did find this covering college campus's and seems quite similar to the larger statisitic I recall from the late 1980's:

75% of male students and 55% of female students involved in date rape had been drinking or using drugs.

Koss, 1998. "Hidden rape: Incident, Prevalence and descriptive characteristics of sexual aggression and victimization in a national sample of college students." Rape and Sexual Assault, Vol.2.
posted by tkchrist at 2:28 PM on April 26, 2006


My point is only that women DO need to extra careful because they are women. - stfs2

Women DO modify their behaviour and "be extra careful" because they know they are at increased risk simply because of their gender. How many of you men have at some point told a woman she's being silly for worrying so much? Or to "calm down" or "everything's fine"?
posted by raedyn at 2:31 PM on April 26, 2006


I was raped by a guy I met at school, and with whom I had a mutual close friend. After a few times that I had spent time with both guys (the mutual friend and the eventual rapist) I spent sometime alone with my new acquaintence. Dozens of times before and dozens of times since, I have spent time alone with a new friend I met through an old friend. And everytime that was fine, except for this once.

I used common sense. Common sense told me that the guy I knew from French class and that was buddies with my friend would be an okay guy to hang out with. He wasn't. Saying "ladies you should know better" doesn't help anyone. Most rapes are much like my own. Someone that is known to the victim, not a stranger waiting to jump out of the bushes.
posted by raedyn at 2:35 PM on April 26, 2006


Sorry, raedyn.

.
posted by salvia at 2:37 PM on April 26, 2006


They are perpetrated by friends, husbands, ex-boyfriends, study partners -- people that women have a reason to trust.

Yes. This is the terrible truth. But often - not always - but often there are cues. We found talking with former victims that were high incidents of verbal abuse before attacks and with "acquaintance" attacks there seemed to be an interview process with leading and overtly sexually aggressive questions.

I don't know. It greatly disturbs me.

I stopped teaching the program in the late nineties due to concerns over curriculum content. I came to the inescapable conclusion that women who feel at risk should carry guns and not try to eye poke men 75lbs heavier. That didn't sell many Karate lessons.
posted by tkchrist at 2:39 PM on April 26, 2006


it seems like women should be extra careful because by virtue of being a woman

I think this is a fallacy to some extent. I think women should be extra careful because they tend to be smaller and less able to defend themselves against larger stronger men. I give smaller men the similar advice and training if they felt at risk for assault.
posted by tkchrist at 2:44 PM on April 26, 2006


I think we as a society need to reconcile the idea of "blaming the victim" and contributory negligence. Even consent can be a red herring. If I go outside and ride my bike without a helmet, I am not in any way consenting to be hit by a car. Yet if it happens and I'm injured, I won't get full medical coverage, and this is perfectly legal and accepted. Did I "deserve" to be hit? No. Did I ask to be hit? No. Did I consent to be hit? Is my inability to get full coverage "blaming the victim"? Not really. There is seldom only one cause to any event. Your ability to foresee a danger is at the heart of this. Sometimes things happen near-randomly. Often they don't. Just because something "can" hapen to you with every precaution doesn't mean that precautions don't make a difference. Otherwise why ever wash your hands? You can still get sick with every precaution taken. Let's try not to confuse the unknown with randomness.
posted by dreamsign at 3:12 PM on April 26, 2006


Did I "deserve" to be hit? No. Did I ask to be hit? No. Did I consent to be hit? Is my inability to get full coverage "blaming the victim"? Not really.
Okay. Are you willing to spell out what specific safety steps that women should be required to take in order to be covered for, say, counseling and therapy after being raped?

Skirt length? Curfews? Woman-Free-Zones in urban areas? No-Booze-For-Girls?
posted by verb at 3:17 PM on April 26, 2006


There are two sides of a very dirty coin here. On one hand, I'm a fan of living your life as you see fit and personally I refuse to live my life scared and in fear. On the other hand, I've been in situations as a single girl where the world crystallizes around you and you see a situation that is not its best.

I guess it's a balance, both men and women have to meet. Somehow you should be aware enough of your environment to get yourself out of possible situations, but at the same time you shouldn't have to be scared all the freaking time.

But the thing is you never know if that crystalline moment of panic is justified or if you're just being hormonal and crazy. The only way you know for sure if you've dodged a bullet is if you actually see the shell casing.

In my situation, I realized I had the option of driving home drunk and possibly getting a dui or staying as the only female in a house full of rugby players that I didn't know all that well. Possibly nothing would have happened. Possibly we would have sat on the couch and watched television, or possibly I could have been gang-raped by the entire rugby team. The point is, I'll never know if I was right or not. And honestly, I don't want to.

So yeah, should everyone (men and women) be a little more aware of the world and take some precautions? Yes. If they fail to take those precautions, is it their fault if something horrible happens to them? Hell no.
posted by teleri025 at 3:26 PM on April 26, 2006


Being at a bar at 3am having been drinking is pretty normal for people in their 20's in New York, and probably a lot of people of other ages, too. Go to the lower east side at 3am and see how many bars are full of people, even on a weeknight. It's not like walking through Bushwick wasted with $100 bills sticking out of your pockets. Even if it was appropriate to make the correlation made in the WSJ editorial (which was total bullshit), this is a sucky example. I'm a guy and I don't stay out that late anymore, but I really don't think this is inherently or statistically dangerous. In other social circles or parts of the country this may sound compelling (3am!!!), but Manhattan is generally very safe, and this is probably the equivalent of being at a bar in some suburb at 11pm. The editorial would probably be less compelling people understood she was basically saying, "don't do what thousands of your friends are safely doing every night, because it's dangerous." She might as well be saying, "Girls, stay at home, and for maximum safety take your shoes off and mostly stick around the kitchen."
posted by snofoam at 3:56 PM on April 26, 2006


ha ha, boobies, oops, wrong thread
posted by salvia at 4:17 PM on April 26, 2006


/ just trying to point out the odd or funny overlap between the two most-commented-threads of today
// hoping no one will be offended by my comment
Damn, I told myself I wouldn't use that stupid slash gimmick anymore!
posted by salvia at 4:24 PM on April 26, 2006


Being at a bar at 3am having been drinking is pretty normal for people in their 20's in New York...

It's common in any big city in the areas there are young people.

The thing is what is happening at 3am unique to other times? It's not that it's dark and scary and suddenly evil stalks the desolate shadows.

It's that's when the bars empty out, right? When you
got drunk MEN wandering around. So you have higher potential for assaults. Both sexual and not sexual.

And if your a drunk woman it's likely your awareness (and/or your genral judgement) is impaired.
posted by tkchrist at 4:54 PM on April 26, 2006


"Jack occasionally wondered what it would be like to rape someone, kill them, chop them up to bits afterwards to dispose of the bits. A half decent lawyer will pin the blame on him straight-away. But this was 21st century Earth. A world of tight skirts, glass ceilings and 'feminism'. In reality Jack, with a lot of help from dad, fucked his way from Yale to Morgan Stanley (like father, like son) but tonight he fancied something different."
posted by movilla at 5:06 PM on April 26, 2006


It's not Rape.
Its Surprise Sex.


(surprise!)
posted by IronWolve at 5:37 PM on April 26, 2006


My point is only that women DO need to extra careful because they are women. The fact that it is disgraceful that this is the case is irrelevant, it is the case, and women should be encouraged to modify their behavior to deal with the reality of life, not some ideal.

But then how do things change if you just perpetuate the idea that it's the woman's fault?

The issue I have with the whole "Oh, women should be more careful" reaction is that by saying it, even if you're truly doing it from great intentions, you're continuing the rhetoric and the environment that condones rape. Your outrage, everyone's outrage, should be completely focused on the fuckin' rapist. Instead, it's a "women should, women shouldn't" conversation that does, no matter what its intent, let guys off the hook.

So all you guys who are so concerned for our safety that you think it's more important to deal with the world we have than the world we want? Walk the walk. The world we have lets guys off the hook for raping women, because women get blamed. Take some of that outrage and direct it at the people who DESERVE IT, rather than spending over 100 comments debating whether women should be allowed to drink at 3am. Start MAKING IT the world you want, with your actions.
posted by occhiblu at 7:15 PM on April 26, 2006


The issue I have with the whole "Oh, people should lock their doors" reaction is that by saying it, even if you're truly doing it from great intentions, you're continuing the rhetoric and the environment that condones burglary. Your outrage, everyone's outrage, should be completely focused on the fuckin' thief. Instead, it's a "homeowners should, homeowners shouldn't" conversation that does, no matter what its intent, let burglars off the hook.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:21 PM on April 26, 2006


Yes.

I'm sorry, if I forget to lock my door, does that make me deserve to be robbed, raped, murdered?

No, it doesn't. I usually lock my door, yes. But forgetting to do so does not make robbing me legal, or moral, or justified.
posted by occhiblu at 7:23 PM on April 26, 2006


Of course it doesn't. But saying that people should lock their doors is hardly an fostering an environment that condones burglary.
posted by Kwantsar at 8:10 PM on April 26, 2006


If the majority of the debate surrounding burglarly focused on whether ther victim had locked their door, and how well it was locked, and whether two deadbolts and a chain would have been better, it would.

Strangely, I never see that debate in WSJ op-eds.
posted by occhiblu at 8:15 PM on April 26, 2006


Also, if it's so "common sense" that women should avoid dangerous situations, then don't you think it's a bit condescending to keep reminding them of that?
posted by occhiblu at 8:18 PM on April 26, 2006


I'm sorry, if I forget to lock my door, does that make me deserve to be robbed, raped, murdered?

That's the exact kind of sleight-of-hand that irks me so much in this argument. To say that you contributed to the myriad conditions that led to an act happening is a statement of logical causation. It has nothing to do with whether or not you deserved it, which is a moral argument.

To use an analogy, if say that smoking can cause cancer, is the typical response that I am blaming the victim?
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:21 PM on April 26, 2006


My issue is why the hell are we focusing on the actions of the victim here? Why the hell aren't we putting this much energy into focusing on the conditions that cause men to rape? If women are supposed to constrain themselves, and everyone's all full of advice on how and why that should happen, where's the same two cents for your brethern who are sticking their dicks in women who don't want them to?
posted by occhiblu at 8:24 PM on April 26, 2006


UbuRoivas, to me, yeah! Smoking causes cancer, their decision to smoke caused their cancer -- the fault is theirs.

I echo verb: Okay. Are you willing to spell out what specific safety steps that women should be required to take in order to be covered for, say, counseling and therapy after being raped?

I'd settle for just being eligible for unqualified sympathy, such that someone who followed said rules who was raped would have no newspaper articles with any throat clearing "women are (ahem) advised to / not to ______," or "well, you know she (ahem) was _______."

I hear that some people saying women are being unnecessarily angry. Maybe it's justified by the thread, maybe it's not, but you can't blame people for being a little on edge. It was only in 1993 that marital rape became illegal in all 50 states. Most of my favorite movies were made a decade before that.
posted by salvia at 8:24 PM on April 26, 2006


oops, typo: I hear that some people saying
posted by salvia at 8:27 PM on April 26, 2006


And the smoking thing would have to be more like blaming non-smoking lung cancer victims for their cancer because they chose to hang out in bars, where they knew there might be smoking. How often do you see that argument advanced?
posted by occhiblu at 8:30 PM on April 26, 2006


If women are supposed to constrain themselves, and everyone's all full of advice on how and why that should happen, where's the same two cents for your brethern who are sticking their dicks in women who don't want them to?

Word, occhiblu.

Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 8:50 PM on April 26, 2006


non-smoking lung cancer victims

That's a good analogy, too, and if you were to blame smokers for their cancer, then it would be consistent to blame "intentional" passive smokers, as well.

However, in this talk of "blame" and "deserving", I think you may still be conflating an attribution of (at least partial) causal responsibility with an attribution of moral responsibility. And realistically, I doubt that too many serious commentators claim that smokers (including passive smokers) *deserve* cancer, even if they may causally contribute to it with their actions.

Put simply, that sort of conflation confuses a statement of what *is* with a statement of what *ought to be* - eg "smoking / walking alone in Central Park may lead to cancer / rape" is not the same as "smokers / solo walkers ought to get cancer / be raped".

(On preview: the "two cents" advising brethren not to stick their dicks (etc) where not wanted is commonly known as the criminal law, no? Well, that and general public opinion...)
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:00 PM on April 26, 2006


To say that you contributed to the myriad conditions that led to an act happening is a statement of logical causation. It has nothing to do with whether or not you deserved it, which is a moral argument. - UbuRoivas

Okay, that's fair. So go back a few comments and read about the circumstances surrounding my rape. How did I contribute? How was I one of the causes of the rape I survived? What should I and other women learn from this in order to prevent ourselves from being victimized?
posted by raedyn at 9:07 PM on April 26, 2006


You're not getting my main point (which may be my fault). Saying "Oh, rape's against the law, we don't need to condemn it because laws cover it, so let's discuss how women should conduct themselves instead" ignores the fact that much rape was not illegal, or prosecuted, until recently (marital rape, date rape) which means that these definitions are still in flux; that many rapists are let go because the talk about what the victim did to "tempt him" is still so overwhelmingly common that women either don't come forward or get raked over the coals in the courtroom; and that in a culture that has constrained women's behavior for hundreds of years, claiming that further constraints are simply a "common sense" necessity in an "imperfect" world smacks of patriarchy, and is just simply not good enough.

These conversations, *because* they are so common, make rape something that happens to "bad" women and therefore exonerates the men who are committing the crime. That's wrong, in all possible legal, moral, spiritual, whatever spheres. These conversations *affect* the general public opinion; you can't say that's already somehow set so now we can say whatever we want without consequence.

Men saying that women are somehow to blame for being raped, and then stepping back and not taking responsibility for the effect their words have, are doing exactly what they're laying on the victim -- feeling they have the right to say or do whatever they want without feeling there should be real-world consequences for that behavior. So if you want women to constrain their free movements, then you can damned well constrain what you consider your "freedom of speech" on the issue, right?
posted by occhiblu at 9:11 PM on April 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'm being completely serious in those questions, btw.

You can't imagine how much I would love to be handed a code of what I can do to avoid having to endure that again. It fucked me up for a long time. Seven years later, I still freak if you grab both my wrists. At least it isn't a full-blown panic attack anymore, but the emtoinal reaction is still there. I'd also like to know what I can teach my daughter to protect her from a similar horror.
posted by raedyn at 9:13 PM on April 26, 2006


raedyn - I can sympathise as far as possible for somebody who has not been through it...had a long-term girlfriend who was raped & for the 3 yrs or so afterwards until we eventually broke up, she was a totally changed person. The panic attacks in particular are familiar. But that is beside the point.

I was making a point that *if* one contributes causally to an outcome, it does not entail that one *deserves* the outcome. This was in response to occiblu's question of whether an unlocked door means a rape is "deserved". I think that is a spurious, strawman argument. I would like to think we have moved on years ago from ideas that rape is ever "deserved" & to cast an argument in those terms now achieves nothing except muddying the waters (um, in which the strawman is swimming...damned mixed metaphors!).

Now, there are obviously degrees to which one can contribute causally. Even with the greatest caution, it can be a matter of simply "wrong place, wrong time", which is just pure bad luck. On the other hand, this is quite different to "knowingly - or reasonably foreseeably - being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, in the wrong company, in the wrong state, etc", which is kinda stupid, but still not "deserving". If you wanted advice for your daughter, surely you would at least try to caution her against the stupid end of the spectrum, no? Unfortunately, this can never provide 100% protection against the "bad-luck" scenario.

Agree in general with occiblu's comments, apart from going off the rails a bit about "bad" women & "exonerating the perpetrator". This is changing in legal-world, and has been for some decades. It also has little or nothing to do with what I was saying, as it continues to conflate moral judgement with causation, and then throws legal culpability questions into an already congested mix.

Back to the main point again: you can contribute to something happening *without* being to blame for it, and *without* removing blame from the responsible party. You can also take steps to avoid something happening without removing the onus from others to behave responsibly.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:45 PM on April 26, 2006


Maybe it was just the group of friends I hung out with in college, but we were always aware of the potential for bad outcomes when we went drinking - we'd had plenty of kind warnings from older students, and it was kind of an unspoken thing that a true friend would watch out for others. We always kept a watch on each other at parties in houses we hadn't been to before and when out late at bars. We never would have left one person alone in a bar that late - we would have stayed or forced that person to the nearest friend's house to crash. And frankly this is something I'd have held true for a male or female friend - it's just as easy to get mugged or car jacked, regardless of gender. So when I heard about Imette St. Guillen I kept wondering - where were her friends? Was somone supposed to meet her? I've been sifting through the stories about Imette St. Guillen and can't find any more details about the night she was raped.

And even having said all that there were plenty of nights when I lived in Boston that I had to walk home alone from the T station, and at least once had a man follow me home and try to get me into his car, which his friend was driving alongside me. It's not easy being alone in a city and trying to be safe. And sadly, that was a time in which I didn't have as many friends who could play "got your back." But I think most of us can probably come up with a story about a stupid thing we did that we'd advise others to avoid.
posted by batgrlHG at 12:37 AM on April 27, 2006


raedyn: "You can't imagine how much I would love to be handed a code of what I can do to avoid having to endure that again."

And if someone has one I'd love to hear it too. Me, I'm big on the safety of crowds, but that's not really a solution or always a possible strategy. It's horrible that women have to think this way, but until we figure out how to remove (or reteach or rewire or whatever) rapists from our society, I don't see what alternative we have.
posted by batgrlHG at 12:46 AM on April 27, 2006


i hate how people assume that rape victims, at some point in their recovery, don't ask themselves, or even condemn themselves for not being "more careful" ... it's pretty damn insensitive to say to them what they've already spent too much time saying to themselves

i also hate how men move through the world thinking that it couldn't happen to them ... i know better

all i can say to good people is that there's a lot of bastards out there and we'd better be careful of them ... and we'd better realize that it's impossible to be careful all the time and that carefulness is no guarantee of anything ... so if it does happen to you, it's futile and self-destructive to place blame upon yourself or to listen to people who are under the delusion that it couldn't possibly ever happen to them because they're too careful

If women are supposed to constrain themselves, and everyone's all full of advice on how and why that should happen, where's the same two cents for your brethern who are sticking their dicks in women who don't want them to?

just what are we supposed to say to them? ... "don't do it" ... "go to hell" ... "cut it off"?

i'm sorry, but anything i can think of seems grossly inadequate ... if rapists could be talked out of raping with a few words, there wouldn't be a problem

saying something is inadequate ... we can only DO something ... shame them ... lock them away ... make it well known that this is what is done to them when they are caught
posted by pyramid termite at 1:06 AM on April 27, 2006


pyramid termite: just what are we supposed to say to them? ... "don't do it" ... "go to hell" ... "cut it off"?

i'm sorry, but anything i can think of seems grossly inadequate ... if rapists could be talked out of raping with a few words, there wouldn't be a problem


Well, ok. Just from the figures, more than a few rapes appear to be the result of bad, stupid and impaired judgement while under the influence. Funny that we can advocate advertising campaigns that say one should not drink and drive, but we can't advocate advertising campaigns promoting extra caution in regards to sex. There seems to be a profound resistance to thinking about rape along the same lines as DWI rather than thinking about rapists as profoundly disturbed sociopaths who are unwilling to listen.

Interestingly enough, the observation that sociopathic sex predators are a small minority compared to the number of otherwise normal and ordinary men who rape is part of what gets radical feminists so (imo wrongfully) vilified. And one of the reasons why they are radical is the proposal that the basic problem is not with individual men, but with systematic inequalities in our culture.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:13 AM on April 27, 2006


jonmc, this is rather late. I don't know if you'll see it, but I didn't mean offense to you personally. My complaint was more directly meant for the WSJ columnist and other people who are not generally as careful as you are. But I also think that as a feminist, or a pro-feminist, you and I are both tasked with the responsibility of being careful about our words, and that's an ongoing responsibility.

UbuRoivas, I realize you're well-intentioned, but lecturing a survivor of rape is of questionable taste. I realize you are arguing for this survivor's empowerment (while disenfranchising her, in a way), in a way, but it ain't likely to win you any friends.
posted by kalessin at 6:22 AM on April 27, 2006


UbuRoivas— You'll have an easier time defending your position if you admit a difference between proximate causes and contributory causes. Yes, Raedyn was raped because she spent time alone with a man. That's a contributory cause. But then we reach the very real point about what the remedy is, and women should not SHOULD NOT have to feel that they can't spend time alone with any man under penalty of possible rape. The proximate cause of rape is always the rapist.
posted by klangklangston at 6:53 AM on April 27, 2006


I came to this thread late, but I was going to say exactly what raedyn said earlier:
women's "instruction" gets them worried a lot. I don't thinks there's many men that feel fear just walking the streets as often as the average women does. How many times have these same women had a bad feeling about something that turned out fine? A lot, I'd reckon
I can't tell you how many times late at night in my own home I've felt the hairs on my neck stand up and I get a horrible feeling that "something is wrong." Fortunately I have a bulldog so I can always check her reactions. I don't think of myself as a scardy cat, but more of someone with an overactive imagination.

Which didn't stop me from backpacking around Europe on my own for 6 months when I was 19. Now in retrospect I am both horrified that I took such a risk and grateful for all the wonderful memories. I guess I was a lot more fearless at 19. For example, walking home in the dark after working as a cocktail waitress in downtown L.A. never really scared me, and I honestly never thought about being raped.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:20 AM on April 27, 2006


kalessin - I'm not sure if it's me you're referring to, but I'm certainly not offended by UbuRoivas's words. I recognise that he's being extremely respectful and caring, and I appreciate that. I don't need to be protected.

you can contribute to something happening *without* being to blame for it, and *without* removing blame from the responsible party. You can also take steps to avoid something happening without removing the onus from others to behave responsibly. - UbuRoivas

Yes, thats sounds perfectly reasonable. But in practice it has limited utility. I understand you aren't telling me it's my fault. Thank you for that. But what steps could I have taken to avoid being raped? As far as I can tell, I took all the cautions. I wasn't drunk, I wasn't with a stranger, I had taken some introductory self-defence. What am I missing? The only thing I can imagine is that I chose to spend time alone with a man. And as klangklangston says, that's just too ridiculous of a limit to be placed on women. Never never be alone with a man. Even if you did that, you couldn't be completely safe because sometimes there are multiple offenders or witnesses, so you aren't always even safe in a crowd.

I think what I have an issue with is being told "you can avoid being raped". Because no one is ever completely safe from it. There are things you can do to reduce your statistical risk, sure. But the risk is never zero.

I appreciate where you're coming from UbuRoivas, but consider changing your language. By saying "you can also take steps to avoid rape" it makes it sound as if the survivor could have avoided it, but just let it happen. Women who've survived a rape already spend a lot of time blaming themselves, and they're pretty sensitive to anything suggesting it's their fault. Consider instead talking about ways to "reduce risk", if you feel you must give women advice on the topic. This is similar to the "safer sex" movement. You can't completely eliminate the risk, but you can reduce exposure to it. "Safer" is more realistic that "safe"

But also consider that women are smart and they think a lot about this stuff and you likely aren't saying anything they haven't already thought of.
posted by raedyn at 9:29 AM on April 27, 2006


Actually, the safe sex analogy is interesting. It seems like as a society, we're perfectly capable of discussing HIV and AIDS without immediately turning it into a discussion of condoms and abstinence. Safe sex is part of the message, certainly, but we don't somehow analyze proper condom usage on the part of HIV patients, at least in the common discussion about the disease.

Whereas with rape, it seems like one of the *first* things we do is start to tell women how to limit their lives so that this doesn't happen to them, and we dismiss charges against women who we see as having broken those "rules."

UbuRoivas, I see what you're saying about mixing up causations, but you're *still* not understanding my point. The rapist caused the rape. And yet we analyze the behavior of the victim. How we analyze the victim is beside the point. She should not be the focus of the discussion. And the fact that she is, while other crime victims would not be ("Hit by a drunk driver? You shouldn't have been driving late at night past bars." "Carjacked? You shouldn't have pulled up next to that black dude."), is where I see huge a blindspot in the people who are making this argument.

Why are we automatically jumping to the idea that the victim contributed to be vicitimized? We are doing so because historically we have felt it's perfectly legitimate to constrain women's behavior and freedom. We are doing so because historically we have seen women as sex objects without intelligence, so we assume that any woman deserves rape if she's acting like a dumb sex object. We are doing so because historically we've held a "boys will be boys" attitude that does not punish men for sexual indiscretions or crimes that would get a woman ostracized.

So, yes, we can pick any other crime and find an analogy for how the victim's behavior "contributed" to the crime. BUT WE DON'T. That's not a normal, common, WSJ-endorsed response to crime. And yet it is for rape. Why?
posted by occhiblu at 9:47 AM on April 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


raedyn, sorry to get in the way, then.
posted by kalessin at 9:56 AM on April 27, 2006


kalessin - I appreciate the sentiment, though. A different person may have felt differently than I. I'm fortunate that I'm pretty well healed from my experience and much less sensitive than I used to be. I didn't intend to silence you. Your input is still appreciated.
posted by raedyn at 10:20 AM on April 27, 2006


I think I've finally figured out why it's annoying me so much that this conversation is happening here, on Metafilter.

The war on terror. Bad nasty men come and harm innocent law-abiding Americans, and the official response turns into a curtailment of Americans' liberties, with rhetoric about keeping us "safe." Air travel is limited in certain ways, your library records or phone calls can be monitored, you will not be allowed in certainly formerly open spaces (the White House, for instance), you will be tracked. It's for your own good; we don't want you hurt by a nasty terrorist, now, do we?

Every time I've seen these topics brought up on Metafilter, people rush to point out that law-abiding Americans (or law-abiding anyone) are not the people this "war" should be targeting. We should not have to curtail our liberties; a more reasonable solution would be reshaping foreign policy / better outreach for the Middle East / fill in the blank. It's outrageous to think that people who have not done anything wrong should have to submit to the indignity of having their library records checked, or taking off their shoes at airports, or having their phone lines tapped to make sure they're not plotting bad things. These are unacceptable constraints.

And yet...

Here you all are, telling women the same thing. Have chaperones, follow curfews, don't talk to strange men, don't wear that outfit if you don't want trouble. Don't drink, or at least not late at night. Stop complaining; we're just trying to keep you safe.

Where's the discussion about how to fix the underlying problem? There's a general understanding that checking IDs at airports is not going to stop anti-American terrorism; the idea is, in fact, considered ludicrous. And yet keeping women inside after 10pm will stop rape?

When do we look at the institutions and policies that tell people rape is OK? When do we come up with plans to fix those? When do liberal-thinking MeFites, who seem from what I've read to believe that it's not just "bad individuals" who cause problems but overarching dysfunctional institutions that perpetuate those problems, when do they step back and apply that same logic to *this* problem? When do women get the same respect for their liberties that we're falling all over ourselves to ensure for Americans in general?

"We're just trying to keep you safe" has already been shown as paternalistic rhetoric designed to control Americans. It's not acceptable.

Talk about fixing the underlying problems. Stop issuing Rape Terror Alerts.
posted by occhiblu at 11:33 AM on April 27, 2006 [4 favorites]


UbuRoivas: I would like to think we have moved on years ago from ideas that rape is ever "deserved" & to cast an argument in those terms now achieves nothing except muddying the waters . . . About "bad" women & "exonerating the perpetrator". This is changing in legal-world, and has been for some decades.

You'd “like to think we have moved on years ago from ideas that rape is ever 'deserved'”. Sounds like you're equating recent (1980s, 1990s) legal changes with a sea change in public attitudes. Not sure where you're getting the idea that it takes as little as a few decades for changes in law to translate into non-superficial changes in across-the-board public attitudes. (eg the Fifteenth Amendment in 1879 giving African-American males the vote didn't work very well, and neither did voting rights acts leading up to the 1965 Voting Rights Act. 86 years to close those legal loopholes, and that's only legal changes, not changes in attitudes of those who thought the status quo was fine.)

It also has little or nothing to do with what I was saying, as it continues to conflate moral judgement with causation, and then throws legal culpability questions into an already congested mix.

In the legal world, sure, it conflates. In discussions between Joe, Dick and Jane Schmoe? I don't think most lay people make such a distinction, because of the above point about sloooow-changing attitudes.

You can also take steps to avoid something happening without removing the onus from others to behave responsibly.

A chorus of people overwhelmingly announces in umpteen different variations that it's advisable for women change their behaviour. The chorus fails to pound away, with equal enthusiasm, on the point that it's advisable for men to try to critically examine their own behaviour (“She said no...should I just let her sleep it off and try her again in the morning, or should I ignore “no” and keep making out, oh hey she stopped saying “no” so that's a green light for fucking, woohoo!”). Or their male peers' behaviour, or maybe even call out peers' questionable behaviour.

If all your focus is on “women have to change their behaviour,” then you haven't articulated ANY onus on men to behave responsibly or to call out their male friends' irresponsible behaviour. That onus may go without saying in certain enlightened circles (yours, I gather), but what makes you think those circles are representative? And what's the harm in articulating it? Voicing a parallel onus on men is more likely to haul the issue out into the open (esp. in cases of non-stranger rape, which are the majority) than silence (aka “the onus goes without saying”).
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:36 AM on April 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


batgrlHG: until we figure out how to remove (or reteach or rewire or whatever) rapists from our society, I don't see what alternative we have.

Reteach is the point. Most of the commenters here are implying (not deliberately), by omission, a disclaimer of even potential responsibility in helping to change or shame irresponsible or asshole men.

pyramidtermite: just what are we supposed to say to them? ... "don't do it" ... "go to hell" ... "cut it off"? . . . i'm sorry, but anything i can think of seems grossly inadequate ... if rapists could be talked out of raping with a few words, there wouldn't be a problem . . . saying something is inadequate

Saying something is a start. Of course, iinforming oneself about rape is a prerequisite to saying something, so that you can correct people who assume, as apparently most of the posters in this thread have, that stranger rape (by a guy the woman met in a bar during a night out, say) is the norm, when actually "your risk of being raped by an acquaintance is four times greater than being raped by a stranger".

Then, speaking up would be extremely helpful when people, friends and family included, make one-off remarks in casual conversation that perpetuate the myths.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:29 PM on April 27, 2006


We have this idea that rapists are predators and BAD MEN that don't care and wouldn't listen to any awareness campaigns and so it's only logical for women to be on the defensive. But I don't think the reality is quite so cut and dried. I think there are times where decent men and women push the boundaries and don't step outside the moment to think. I believe it's possible for a respectable person to get caught up in their horniness and stop listening, or to try and push the boundaries; "come on, honey" or keep kissing or whatever. The reality is that the line between rapist and not is thin and blurry. I know I've had occasions where my husband is less interested in sex than I am, and I've tried to encourage him to change his mind. At what point is that over the line?

I don't mean to suggest that everyone is going around raping their sexual partners. But I do think many rapists (date rapists, anyway) are just regular people who made a bad judgement, crossed a line, and wronged someone. But it doesn't make them evil in their heart. It could have been me or you if we don't remain vigilant and conscious of our own actions.

It could be useful for us all to examine our own behaviours and to have discussions about those boundaries with our friends and loved ones. Have you ever ignored an initial protest hoping that your partner would relent? Did it work? How would you tell the difference between the changing their mind and them stopping fighting but still not wanting it?

What if we looked at rape like that? How can I take personal responsibility to make sure I don't ever cross the line? How can I encourage other people to do likewise?
posted by raedyn at 12:36 PM on April 27, 2006


I think that discussions about personal responsbility and judgement would do more to further re-thinking rape than saying "don't do it, asshole" because most people don't think of themselves as an asshole and don't think themselves capable of doing it. The answer would be "well duh".

The flip side of that should also be considered is "how can I be sure that I am clear about my desires?" "how can I be clear about where the line is?"
posted by raedyn at 12:47 PM on April 27, 2006


Thanks occhiblu. That's precisely what I was thinking. What should we have done to prevent 9/11? Avoided getting drunk in a bar in Nolita with Osama? It's all hypothetical after the fact.

Telling women to be more careful in this particular forum is at least as much a fantasy solution as the implied notion that men might someday be "cured" of their sexual aggression. Context is everything. "What you should have done" helps absolutely no one.
posted by divrsional at 1:33 PM on April 27, 2006


raedyn, I completely agree.

The important point about how to prevent rape is to teach everyone, male and female, how to vocalize and discuss sex. Girls should know how to articulate their desires properly and boys should know how to understand and relate their desires appropriately.

I've been in many situations where I said no and then changed my mind. I wasn't doing it to be a tease, I wasn't doing it to screw with the guy's mind, I was merely unsure of what I wanted myself.

It's a socialization issue. I've known a lot of men who are a little thrown by a woman who asserts her desires, but I know an equal number of men who adore the idea of a woman saying, "Yes, I'd like to have sex with you" because it relieves them of the confusion and worry of "Did I take this too far?"

And again with the socialization, it's a huge difficulty to help women understand that by saying clearly what you want sexually, you are not a slut.

Like many of the other social changes this country has witnessed, it's going to take a great deal of time and work. Hell with most of them, we're still not there yet. Hopefully one day we will be.
posted by teleri025 at 2:28 PM on April 27, 2006


I do think many rapists (date rapists, anyway) are just regular people who made a bad judgement, crossed a line, and wronged someone. . . . How would you tell the difference between the changing their mind and them stopping fighting but still not wanting it?

This was on my mind at one point but I started focusing on assholes and irresponsibles while I was googling rape and found a bunch of sites on domestic violence. But the point about ordinary guys, not stereotypical nutcases, committing rape (sometimes without realizing it, sometimes not) is crucial. Thanks for pointing it out.

How can I take personal responsibility to make sure I don't ever cross the line? How can I encourage other people to do likewise?

If more posters had emphasized this equally alongside the "Women should" comments, the discussion wouldn't have struck me as so unbalanced. What do you think of this approach, guys?
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:02 PM on April 27, 2006


occhiblu's point here was my point here and here, explained more thoroughly. Just wanted to support it yet again.

Two parts of me are debating. Part 1 (of me) says it's not fair to say "men, tell your brethren." It's not fair for me to hold my liberal Christian friend responsible for the Christian Right. It wasn't fair in elementary school when we all got held in from recess for one bad kid.

The other side of me wonders why there are no guys here backing up, eg, raedyn and occhiblu. There are some really common sense points being made, but it seems only by women. Are there really no men agreeing with these points? (Maybe they all supported it higher in the thread, and I just didn't notice?)

I don't think this is actually a men vs. women issue -- one man I just talked to immediately saw the point being made -- but it would be awesome to hear a few male voices backing up the point.

(Though I don't think they or I need to be looking for our inner rapist, like raedyn suggested. I don't think "the line between rapist and not is thin and blurry." I don't think I'd ever accidentally rape someone.)
posted by salvia at 6:27 PM on April 27, 2006


You know, salvia, I had the same internal debate until I realized that many here had absolutely *no* problem telling all women how to behave.

I certainly don't hold all men responsible for rape, but those of them telling me what I need to do, how much responsibility I bear to keep myself supposedly safe, have already said that *all* women are responsible for preventing rape. So I've got no problem right now saying: Right back at ya, guys. All you men are also responsible for preventing rape.
posted by occhiblu at 6:42 PM on April 27, 2006 [2 favorites]


salvia: The other side of me wonders why there are no guys here backing up, eg, raedyn and occhiblu. There are some really common sense points being made, but it seems only by women. Are there really no men agreeing with these points? (Maybe they all supported it higher in the thread, and I just didn't notice?)

Yep, you didn't notice. But in general, I agree.

One of the things I take away as positive from the BDSM community is that they don't take consent for granted, and have talked the issue of how to negotiate consent to death in a way that I've found meets a fair level of resistance from "normal" heterosexual people. There is a strong realization that:
1: tops need to be hyper-aware of what is going on
2: participants need to take extra care when using recreational drugs.
3: situations in which consent may be ambiguous (such as role play) or difficult to communicate (bondage) should be negotiated in advance.

In general, I have some pretty severe criticisms of the BDSM community in that the "safe, sane and consensual" values are incompatible with values for pushing limits, and that the taboo against saying anything that can be interpreted as "your kink is not OK" eliminates the possibility for in-depth discussion. The practice of explicit negotiation and erring on the side of caution does not prevent bad things (including rape) from happening in that community. But it does help to reduce a lot of it given the high risks of the behavior involved.

And a part of me is thinking, why is this discussion almost always focused on rape, which is the almost worst-case scenario of a sexual encounter? (The worst IMO involves body bags.) There is an entire spectrum of ways in which bad ethical decisions during sex can have negative consequences for one or both partners, and I keep coming around to thinking about more explicit negotiation in regards to not only rape, but also STD transmission, intimacy and commitment, and unwanted pregnancy.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:04 AM on April 28, 2006


I've always appreciated your comments on these topics, KirkJobSluder (klangklangston's too), and figured you'd pop in to reply. I, like salvia, expected others to at least acknowledge these latest points, if not agree. Nobody wants to refute, or suggest improvements?

Next time somebody says or posts "Women should do this or that to reduce chances of rape", I'm jumping in early to challenge the frame of reference that women are the ONLY ones responsible for, or even capable of, reducing chances of rape. Start the next debate where this one ended, and see how people address or duck these latest points.

Women can choose certain behaviours to reduce chances of rape happening, sure. We hear this all the time. Here's the part we never hear: Men can, men should (especially those who hand out advice to women on how to "avoid" rape), also choose certain behaviours to reduce chances of rape happening. Any man could if he really gave a damn, talk (in the same breath as "Women need to do...") about how he has responsibility, or at least capability, for

1. examining his own behaviour
2. educating himself about rape myths and realities,
3. discussing with male (or female) friends or family members things like "How do I know for sure she's ok with it? How can I make sure I don't cross the line? How can I encourage other guys to do likewise?" and
4. calling out friends or family members who make casual comments ("she was wearing a short skirt...she's a stripper...she slept around") or crack "jokes" ("No means maybe") that invoke stereotypes.

ok, maybe not all 4. I'd be quite happy if 15% of guys (anywhere, not just here) talked about ONE of these things HE could do to reduce rape, while he was sermonizing about "Women should".

Imagine if just half of all the men we knew incorporated even two of these things into the regular way they live their lives and relate to their buddies, as vigilantly and constantly as those with vaginas lock doors, keep keys in fists walking around after dark, keep hyperaware of surroundings and possible dangers.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:10 AM on April 28, 2006


I'd actually like to add a first step to your (excellent) list:

0. Assume that women do, actually, have the sense to keep themselves safe, and that we actually think about these issues *more* often than you do, and therefore probably don't need your reminders about paying attention to our surroundings; the fact that you think these things are forgettable shows how little you pay attention to these "rules" in your own daily life and does not reflect how most women must conduct themselves.
posted by occhiblu at 1:46 PM on April 28, 2006 [3 favorites]


cybercoitus, I like your idea to start a discussion early in the next thread about whose responsibility it is to prevent rape, and why the first solution is to have women curtail their activities.

I'm not quite sure how this relates to what you're saying but these are my thoughts on the idea that "the line between rapist and not is thin and blurry." I personally think a little attempt to seduce, though potentially uncool, especially with an unassertive partner, is distinct from the threatened use of force. Do you disagree that there is a bright line that a respectful person would not accidentally cross? (Though, I can come up with non-bright-line situations, like extreme drunkenness.)

There was an enormous debate (600+ comments) on Kos in October or so about whether all men could rape someone, accidentally, in the heat of passion, whatever. A lot of men said very absolutely that they would never cross a certain line. I believe it, thinking of men who've backed off at the slightest hesitation on my part. One friend said "I want the person to be actively saying yes. Her just lying there not resisting, is not enough for me." So, not to deny the importance of your #1, but that thread showed me how much indignation, in some cases justified, gets kicked up by the implication (made there) that all men are just one moment of unawareness away from raping someone.

Some people have gone through the thought process of #1-3 already, and so imho, less is gained by asking them to be even more self-aware than could be gained by starting a collective brainstorm re: how can good people like us affect the social atmosphere? I think that's your #4. What can men and everyone do to create an atmosphere where even less-than-honorable men do right, out of peer pressure or to be cool?
posted by salvia at 2:01 PM on April 28, 2006


*I hereby voice an onus on men not to rape*

A very good point is made by raedyn & others about "ordinary guys (generally known to the victims) crossing the line", as opposed to the more stereotypical nutjobs in balaclavas.

It might be of interest that there are currently government ads on TV here down under, depicting ordinary guys describing these kinds of "crossing the line" incidents, with a very clear message that this is criminal behaviour. A parallel series of ads shows the women involved & guides them to the police or support resources.

The ads cover domestic violence too: "we were having an argument & I just gave her a bit of a push; it wasn't anything..." "NO! That's CRIMINAL!" etc.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:14 PM on April 28, 2006


salvia: "the line between rapist and not is thin and blurry." . . . Do you disagree that there is a bright line that a respectful person would not accidentally cross?

I think for guys who are self-aware and habitually tuned into the women they're interacting with, the line is bright. For guys who are perhaps young, not much experience with women and sex, whose father/brothers and male peers think and say that being a man means being aggressive sexually and if you're not you're a fag, and if you let a woman tell you what's what then you're pussywhipped, and “No means give her more beer, har har” ...whose media influences consist mainly of things like the movie Cemetery Man*...

...I can picture the line being thin and blurry for such a guy, who considers himself decent and respectful, being caught up in horniness, thinking that her “no” meant “maybe” because she didn't say it very loud and she could be testing his manhood like that sexy gorgeous bitch in Cemetery Man. (Maybe I'm bending over backwards to be charitable?)

*hilarious black humour, zombies, necrophilia, visual artistry, I've got no problem there. Female love interest who tells male protagonist that she can only love an impotent man, inspiring him not only to not force himself on her but to have an operation to make him impotent, then afterwards he finds out her boss fucked her – I saw it in 1994 so I can't remember for sure, but according to my recollection what's implied is, the boss doesn't seduce her into fucking, he just fucks her while she's protesting - and as a result she now loves her boss? Condones rape.

A lot of men said very absolutely that they would never cross a certain line. . . . So, not to deny the importance of your #1, but that thread showed me how much indignation, in some cases justified, gets kicked up by the implication (made there) that all men are just one moment of unawareness away from raping someone.


I think not all, not most, but quite a few are (as described above; and guys who think “rape fantasy” equals “wants to be raped”, a la the “Men Should Weep” episodes of Cracker). I meant #1 for the latter ones, not the ones who make a habit of reflecting on how they were taught to relate to women, and how they want to improve.

Some people have gone through the thought process of #1-3 already, and so imho, less is gained by asking them to be even more self-aware than could be gained by starting a collective brainstorm re: . . . What can men and everyone do to create an atmosphere where even less-than-honorable men do right, out of peer pressure or to be cool?

I thought of #3 as actions - actually having detailed discussions - as well as thought process. I was always the one who initiated those talks about line-identifying/crossing (STDs and unwanted pregnancy too, KirkJobStuder, you're absolutely right) with my romantic partners, not them. With my father and brother, guy friends at school or university, the topic of what everybody thought about seduction vs. rape, or how women might think about expressing themselves with crystal clarity to their partners, and how guys could tell where the line was and when was it appropriate to back the hell off, never came up. I did talk about it with a few girlfriends but not all were open to talking about such stuff.

My impression from asking guy friends is that these topics just aren't spoken about between guys. I get the impression that young guys' understanding of “rape” is polarized between a confusing mixture of titillation (movies, tv) and alpha male locker room type posturing or chest-thumping, and recent (since mid-1980s) “No means no” type campaigns. There's no easily accessible venue (that I know of) for them to talk about and weigh contradictions or grey areas, unless their fathers or brothers or buddies make a point of talking about them.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:29 AM on April 29, 2006


occhiblu: 0. Assume that women do, actually, have the sense to keep themselves safe, and that we actually think about these issues *more* often than you do,

Absolutely.

UbuRoivas: *I hereby voice an onus on men not to rape*

Thank you for coming back to say so (and for the info on the ad campaigns. I'd be interested in whether the target audiences are taking them seriously or blowing them off). As an extension to voicing an onus on men not to rape, and since you agree with the point about ordinary guys being confused about where lines are - what do you think about the idea of men, such as yourself, talking about grey areas with each other (fathers to sons, especially) or with friends of either sex - “How do I know for sure she's ok with it? How can I make sure I don't cross the line? How can I encourage other guys to do likewise?"

Do guys talk about this stuff? If they talk about it, who with? What factors most influence how guys learn to think about “rape” and how to discourage it - a father's warning that he'll beat the shit out of any son of his who does that, titillating movies or graphic novels or tv shows or novels (which are fine as long as the consumer gets the difference between rape & rape fantasy), talks with girlfriends, talks with platonic friends who are girls, rape porn, a sister or female relative who comes back from a date crying, cultural mores that say it's logically impossible (or ok) to rape a prostitute or for a husband to rape his wife?

Maybe these would be good to post in AskMe?
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:07 PM on April 29, 2006


I see what you mean, cybercoitus, and I think it would be an interesting AskMe discussion. Just to repeat my main point, I think any discussion would get a lot farther by aiming high and assuming most of the people on AskMe are of the "habitually self-aware and tuned in..." type and talking about what "we" can do to create a culture of respect.

Here is that Kos thread, which was really interesting. I didn't re-read the entire thread, but this comment begins the section that I was remembering (I like this response, personally).

Do guys talk about this stuff? If they talk about it, who with?

From having three brothers, I would guess that in general, they don't much. Just like I don't talk with my friends about shoplifting. But if someone brought up someone who had, maybe I'd sarcastically say, "oh, that's really cool." So anyone listening who thought my opinion meant something would note "ok, shoplifting is not cool." (I feel lame breaking down how peer pressure works on a comment board, but that's my take on how it works.) I wonder if, instead of instigating major conversations, someone could have nearly as much effect by rolling his eyes at key times.

Maybe these would be good to post in AskMe?

Good idea. I think the borderline gray areas you bring up are interesting. Rereading parts of the Kos thread make me wonder how such a conversation would go over here.
posted by salvia at 2:01 PM on April 29, 2006


Thank cod this disscussion went from a lot of straw men, confusing analogies, and tips for women to a reflection of how we can all explore issues of rape. This shouldnt be an US against THEM discussion, whether the "us" is women yelling at "them" men, or the "us" is folks with common sense yelling at "them" girls who make poor judgments, or the "us" is all us civilized folk railling against "them" monsters and sickos we call rapists. The discussion should just be about US, all of us, period.

Of all the posts here this one struck me the most: "just what are we supposed to say to them [rapists]? ... "don't do it" ... "go to hell" ... "cut it off"?
This comment implies that rapists are a bunch of rabid animals or retarded.

Most rapists are common, civilized folk. They are your friends and brothers, fathers and sons, perhaps it is you. While some rapists are severe mental cases/sociopaths, most of them are not.

I fully encourage an AskMe discussion on this so we all can reflect on the true culture of rape: regular guys going too far.
posted by hellameangirl at 3:42 PM on April 30, 2006


salvia, thanks for reiterating how important it is to aim high. I'll make raedyn's questions re borderline gray areas the focus, for men's and women's perspectives. I'll probably post it tomorrow sometime.

Thanks for linking the Kos thread. Very interesting reading! I won't reference it in my AskMe question though as I think the potential for getting constructive responses to "are all men capable of rape?" is suboptimal (like you, I think that one thoughtful comment nailed the issue properly).

I wonder if, instead of instigating major conversations, someone could have nearly as much effect by rolling his eyes at key times.

Possibly, but I've heard so many stories about guys who act completely oblivious to what seem to me to be obvious body language signs (resisting a forceful kiss, trying to wrench wrists out of a guy's grasp) that I'm more inclined to think real effectiveness would, more often than not, have to be s-p-e-l-l-e-d out.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:43 PM on April 30, 2006


This shouldnt be an US against THEM discussion, whether the "us" is women yelling at "them" men, or the "us" is folks with common sense yelling at "them" girls who make poor judgments, or the "us" is all us civilized folk railling against "them" monsters and sickos we call rapists.

hellameangirl, well put. That's what has frustrated me about many previous threads on rape, but I couldn't put my finger on it. I just knew well-meaning people were talking past each other and getting nowhere.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:52 PM on April 30, 2006


cybercoitus:

(*attempting record for longest live thread on MeFI....*)

and for the info on the ad campaigns. I'd be interested in whether the target audiences are taking them seriously or blowing them off

Sorry, I have not heard anybody discussing the ads. This could be interpreted any kind of way, but I would tend towards the idea that they reinforce current opinion, as opposed to breaking new ground & invoking a reactionary wave of macho-sneering. When occi talked about public opinion lagging behind the law, I recalled later how fusty old judges get shouted down from all sides (political, social, media, etc) when - every five years or so - they voice some extremely outdated opinion on rape or domestic violence. Australian context, here.

Do guys talk about this stuff? If they talk about it, who with?

Good question. My declaration not to rape felt (and was) kinda absurd, and came from me wondering how and when to voice these kinds of things, picturing a water-cooler conversation on friday afternoon: "so, guys, going out raping again tonight?" - it could be this very idea, that rapists are evil, knife-wielding loonies hiding in shadows in alleys, that makes it difficult for ordinary guys to ever conceive that they or their friends might "cross the line"...?
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:06 AM on May 1, 2006


AskMefi
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 10:51 AM on May 1, 2006


UbuRoivas,
When occi talked about public opinion lagging behind the law

that was me I think actually.

it could be this very idea, that rapists are evil, knife-wielding loonies hiding in shadows in alleys, that makes it difficult for ordinary guys to ever conceive that they or their friends might "cross the line"...?


yes. My AskMe question got deleted as "chatfilter," so my apologies to those who were interested for not phrasing the question better. I should have known that brevity is golden. Anyway, the whole thing has distracted me from stuff I should have attended to days ago, so if anybody else decides to pose a better question (either to chatfilter, or rephrased for an inarguable AskMe), please post a link here.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 1:32 PM on May 1, 2006


Further to the comments saying women have already thought a lot about this:

Some women spend a lot of time scared, and trying to spread that fear to other women (with good intentions of course, but still). Probably once a week I get some wide-eyed e-mail forward filled with exclamation marks and rumours about the way that rapists pick their victims (supposedly the like ponytails to hold onto, and women talking on cell phones because they aren't paying as much attnetion) particular 'schemes' for getting victims like leaving a note on a woman's car and attacking her when she stops to read it, or slashing her tires and offering to help change it then attacking her etc etc etc. It really reinforces the "women should be afraid all the time" meme and the "rapists are evil men waiting to jump out of the bushes" meme. Personally I find it tiresome, but I don't think I'm in the majority based on the number of different women that will forward this crap to me.
posted by raedyn at 2:01 PM on May 4, 2006


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