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Men Against Rape
November 11, 2008 8:47 AM   Subscribe

Men Can Stop Rape is part of a growing movement to stop rape, sexual assault, and sexual violence by focusing on educating men. There are efforts to change the climate on college campuses and curriculum at Haverford, Tulane, Kansas State, Idaho State, University of Wisconsin, University of Texas, University of Minnesota, University of Maine, Portland State, Harvard, University of Rochester, University of Delaware, Franklin and Marshall, and Colorado State, to name a few. Want to start your own? Here's how. Not in college? There's

There are regional associations in Atlanta, Pennslyvania, Maine, Madison, Gloucester, Amherst, Washington, and Wyoming and national and international organizations like National Organization for Men Against Sexism, The Safety Net, One in Four, V-Day Men, The White Ribbon, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, Meninist, and A Call to Men. There's also a men against violence Webring.

How much do you know about sexual assault? Test Yourself!
posted by lunit (279 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
I ran into one of these in college. Dude comes in to lecture us about how he used to go out with his buddies, get drunk, and vow that by the end of of the night he would either "fight or fuck" -- that he'd either get laid or pick a fight, and that this made him a potential rapist, and having discovered this flaw in himself, he was going to explain to all of us how that same demon lurked in us.

Except that I'd never once picked a fight in a bar, or even thought that my goal for a night out should be "fight or fuck". I'd go out, have a few drinks, maybe I'd meet someone, more often I wouldn't, then I'd go home. My goal was to have a drink, see what was up, take any chances on offer, and go home.

Whatever monsters lurked within me, they weren't the monsters lurking in our sanctimoniously lecturing convert. But like most converts, whether the born-again or the ex-junkie or the reformed gambler, this guy projects his problems, his appetites, on everyone else and assumes that anyone who doesn't rapturously buy-in to his "revelation or reform" must be in denial at best.

Sure, educate men about rape (and educate whites about racism, and the statistics-challenged about lotteries). But the all-too-common assumption that all of us (for whatever "us" is currently being made the bad guy) share the weaknesses or amorality of the zealous converts is insulting and offensive and wrong.

And all too often it turns into a lucrative industry where "ex"-creeps are lionized as over-compensated motivational speakers and "experts" for projecting their very personal moral failing on the rest of us for a quick buck.

Prosecute rape, definitely. But don't turn stereotypically painting all of us with the broad brush of some people's failings into an industry.
posted by orthogonality at 9:10 AM on November 11, 2008 [91 favorites]


Go, Golden Gophers!!!!
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:10 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


It wouldn't be hard to crack some cheap jokes about this, but this really isn't the topic for that.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:13 AM on November 11, 2008


Yeah, I appreciate all the efforts of this movement too, but I am in the same boat as orthogonality. Men, collectively, can stop rape of the male-on-female, or male-on-male variety. But unfortunately, this man, individually, cannot.
posted by Rykey at 9:15 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


After actually having some "Take Back the Night" people yell taunts at me and call me a "rapist" simply because I was the only male anywhere near, I have really had some trouble getting behind anything like this. Fact is, common sense could do more to combat rape than any of these initiatives, movements, protests, and so on. A skinny, nerdy guy who's so shy he can barely talk to women? Probably not a big risk. The fellow you just went home with because you are both drunk, although neither of you know the other? Probably a risk. It's not hard. Rape will be a problem until people begin to recognize that, like other crimes, you can raise your risk by putting yourself in less-than-ideal situations.
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:18 AM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


DEAN
All right! Mark.. you get the board!


MARK
Come on, "Halter Top." [hits buzzer, lighting up one of the squares]

DEAN (reading card)
"I Paid For Dinner: She orders a steak and a shrimp cocktail." Strobel?

MARK
Not date rape!

DEAN
Ohhh, sorry! Helpern-Strauss, would you like me to finish the question?

ARIEL
Date rape!

DEAN
Correct!

MARK
Come on! Surf 'n Turf?! That's like forty BUCKS, man!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:21 AM on November 11, 2008


Most rapists are acquaintances of the victim. So no, it's enough to avoid strangers or guys who seem threatening.
posted by Tehanu at 9:22 AM on November 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


The fact that I've begun to cross to the other side of a street, parking garage, of whatever walking path as a reflex to avoid being near unknown women at night (or even dusk) after noticing several of them slip one hand into a pocket and try to surreptitiously palm something cylindrical while briefly flicking their gaze to the side at me is depressing on many, many levels.
posted by adipocere at 9:22 AM on November 11, 2008 [8 favorites]


Being trained from birth to be terrified of walking alone at night is no picnic either. It's tricky to untrain.
posted by Tehanu at 9:24 AM on November 11, 2008 [21 favorites]


A skinny, nerdy guy who's so shy he can barely talk to women? Probably not a big risk.

Ridiculous.

I'm not saying you're a rapist, sonic meat machine. But there isn't a "type." Especially since most women are raped by someone they know.
posted by regicide is good for you at 9:25 AM on November 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


OMG. The mere existence of these programs makes me, like, so oppressed!
posted by lunit at 9:25 AM on November 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


You can fill an aggressive young man up with cautionary tales, motivational speaking, legal points, quizzes, etc all day long and it will all be in vain. Getting shitfaced will always trump any rational thought about these matters, and these types of rapes will continue as long as the booze flows.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:25 AM on November 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


What would also be cool is if there was some education about how not-funny prison rape is. Yeah, the idea of some murderous slimebag getting his "just desserts" up his soon-to-be-torn bunghole might satisfy some desires of vengeance, but far far more prison rape victims are men who were convicted for selling a dime bag of grass, or stealing a six-pack of beer from the liquor store.
posted by illiad at 9:25 AM on November 11, 2008 [21 favorites]


You can fill an aggressive young man up with cautionary tales, motivational speaking, legal points, quizzes, etc all day long and it will all be in vain. Getting shitfaced will always trump any rational thought about these matters, and these types of rapes will continue as long as the booze flows.

I'm not so sure rapists are usually intoxicated.
posted by Tehanu at 9:27 AM on November 11, 2008


But there isn't a "type." Especially since most women are raped by someone they know.

This doesn't follow.
posted by grobstein at 9:29 AM on November 11, 2008


I recognize that most rape is a crime of familiarity, but to assert that personality is not relevant is a little bit odd. I think there is a "type:" quiet, shy guys are probably not as likely to rape a girl who refuses them as someone who is aggressive.
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:30 AM on November 11, 2008


How about any statements made on a topic as serious as rape get backed up with data, and not "well it makes sense to me that a rapist would love porn" musings that may have no basis in reality. Links or it didn't happen.
posted by cashman at 9:34 AM on November 11, 2008 [10 favorites]


I suspect that most of the arguments in this thread will actually be between people who believe in and act upon probabilities and correlations besides 0, 1, and -1; and those who do not and will not.
posted by adipocere at 9:34 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can see this thread turning into a huge argument, especially when someone comes along and says that they need to more clearly define rape. As it is now, "buyers remorse sex" can still get you tagged for rape, and it's proven every single day that women can and do lie about rape for revenge or simply to cover up their own infidelity. Such acts are a slap in the face to actual rape victims and devalue the pain that actual rape victims have gone through.
posted by drstein at 9:36 AM on November 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


But there isn't a "type." Especially since most women are raped by someone they know.

This doesn't follow.
posted by grobstein


Could you explain the logical fallacy you're running into there, grobstein? Women of are raped every day. Those women come from every walk of life, every demographic, every class, every age. Most of those rapes are committed by someone they know. Doesn't it stand to reason, then, that their rapists, too, would come from every walk of life, every demographic, every class (albeit the age is a little less expansive)?
posted by shiu mai baby at 9:37 AM on November 11, 2008


but far far more prison rape victims are men who were convicted for selling a dime bag of grass, or stealing a six-pack of beer from the liquor store.

Ahem.

How about any statements made on a topic as serious as rape get backed up with data, and not...musings that may have no basis in reality. Links or it didn't happen.
posted by The Straightener at 9:38 AM on November 11, 2008


orthogonality nails it, as does Heather Mac Donald:

None of this crisis response occurs, of course—because the crisis doesn’t exist. During the 1980s, feminist researchers committed to the rape-culture theory had discovered that asking women directly if they had been raped yielded disappointing results—very few women said that they had been. So Ms. commissioned University of Arizona public health professor Mary Koss to develop a different way of measuring the prevalence of rape. Rather than asking female students about rape per se, Koss asked them if they had experienced actions that she then classified as rape. Koss’s method produced the 25 percent rate, which Ms. then published.

Koss’s study had serious flaws. Her survey instrument was highly ambiguous, as University of California at Berkeley social-welfare professor Neil Gilbert has pointed out. But the most powerful refutation of Koss’s research came from her own subjects: 73 percent of the women whom she characterized as rape victims said that they hadn’t been raped. Further—though it is inconceivable that a raped woman would voluntarily have sex again with the fiend who attacked her—42 percent of Koss’s supposed victims had intercourse again with their alleged assailants.


Yet the manufactured controversy, and the mislaid blaim on "maleness" as some sort of condition to be addressed with indoctrination, continue.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:38 AM on November 11, 2008 [6 favorites]


This would be much easier to support if they didn't throw in the non-subtle condemnation of traditional concepts of male masculinity. I agree that our society has gender norms that contribute to these kinds of crimes, but there are many people who hold very traditional concepts of what it is to be a man who would never commit sexual assault.

It's possible to educate men about sexual assault without calling into question society's concept of masculinity, in the same way that it's possible to talk to inner-city kids about staying out of gangs and the drug trade without suggesting that they should all stop listening to Jay Z.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:40 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm betting these people are going for the "Broken Windows" theory of sexism and rape. Most guys do not actually rape. But dudes who rape do not spring randomly from the doors of frat houses. "Stopping rape" isn't simply not raping, it's also suggesting to your friends that jokes about roofies aren't really cool, and groping the drunk chick on the dance floor was kind of fucked up, and it represents a lack of class to only insult women in purely sexual terms--like referring to Hillary Clinton as frigid, or a sorority girl as a slut.

It's about removing the environment that creates those little tendrils of thoughts in a man's head that leads him to rationalize having sex with a woman who's too drunk to stand. It is more difficult to justify this sort of behavior yourself, or even consider that behavior, when you know your friends think it's fucking weak.

It is really unfortunate that people are so very reluctant to even consider this, especially men. I'm even seeing it here in the first few comments of this post, guys getting really defensive and acting like there is nothing, absolutely nothing they could possibly do about this and women should protect themselves and it's not my problem. Look, and that black guy shouldn't have hit on that white woman, because he should have known he would have gotten lynched. And that has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with the fact I won't let my daughter date someone black, thank you very much. So basically, I am to believe that everyone saying they can't do anything belongs to a group of exceptionally sensitive, thoughtful men who have never engaged in sexist behavior or comments, ever? That's pretty stupendous. I mean, I would say my group of friends is pretty liberal, but even we make awful jokes.

That said, I do recognize that anti-rape activists have been, well, unsuccessful to say the least at targeting men. Concluding that all men are rapists is not constructive. And I remember a very well meaning anti-violence-against-women campaign whose tagline was "My strength is not for hurting," and I could not find one person, including myself, who was able to take it seriously. Anti-rape activists need to figure out how to make jokes, threats, and drunken discussions regarding sexual violence uncool, and a lot of anti-rape activists come from the feminist movement, which is regarded as supremely uncool to many men. It's like having nerds leading a movement against bullying.
posted by schroedinger at 9:42 AM on November 11, 2008 [71 favorites]


After reading that "test" I'll go so far as to agree with Tom Leykis. If you're making out with a girl, go for the $SEXUAL_ADVANCE, and she says "No" then you should get up and leave immediately. That's because no matter what happens for the rest of the night, she has at some point said "no" and things can turn around for the worst, no matter what she says later. The stories in the "test" seem to back that up. It's saying that the girl may change her mind and be a totally willing partner but at that point it doesn't matter what *you* (as a guy) think or feel, you're just a rapist. Notice that none of the stories have the girl (who is very clearly nude at that point) putting her own clothes back on and leaving.

It really sucks that things have gotten to that point. It's easier and more profitable to just blame men for everything instead of advocating personal responsibility for everyone.
posted by drstein at 9:44 AM on November 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


regicide is good for you: I'm not saying you're a rapist, sonic meat machine. But there isn't a "type." Especially since most women are raped by someone they know.
I think you meant to say "Most women who are raped are raped by someone they know." What you said would be unfathomably tragic, and imply that a lot of us guys aren't doing our part to fulfill the quota.
sonic meat machine: Fact is, common sense could do more to combat rape than any of these initiatives, movements, protests, and so on. A skinny, nerdy guy who's so shy he can barely talk to women? Probably not a big risk. The fellow you just went home with because you are both drunk, although neither of you know the other? Probably a risk.
I mostly agree, although the overly shy guy might lash out with all that pent-up frustration. Or the large, strong, confident drunk guy was raised right and wouldn't dream of rape no matter how drunk he got. As orthogonality said, these types of movements seem disingenous: the former rapists turning over a new leaf and wanting applause because he finally reached the civilized place that most of us were already at.

I'd also like to point out that, regardless of what the law might say, if you both go home shitfaced... you ethically can't wake up the next day and call it rape just because you regret it- unless you're implying you raped each other. This isn't Victorian England, women aren't delicate flowers needing socialized protection from even their own desires, and equal rights mean equal responsibilities. Sure, if you are forced with physical assault, then it's rape- and that's true no matter the genders involved, or whether either/both of you are drunk or sober. But you don't get to drunk drive, plow into a minivan with a family of six, and then claim they are at fault because you were too drunk to look after yourself on the road...
illiad: What would also be cool is if there was some education about how not-funny prison rape is. Yeah, the idea of some murderous slimebag getting his "just desserts" up his soon-to-be-torn bunghole might satisfy some desires of vengeance, but far far more prison rape victims are men who were convicted for selling a dime bag of grass, or stealing a six-pack of beer from the liquor store.
Agreed, and I think women are as much on that "hate imprisoned people so much that they deserver rape" bandwagon as any men; it's something of a fantasy to imagine the date rapist going to prison and being raped- because two wrongs always make a right[/Bush Doctrine].

As my sister used to tell me, rape is a crime of violence as much if not more than sex. Rape is about power and control; that is as true in prison than when ludicrously paranoid women walk down the street with pepper spray in hand. Prison rape is unimaginably worse than date rape et al; there aren't quite so many legal resources, or protections, or medical help, or anonymous telephone assistance lines. And you won't be forced to see your attacker again and again, helpless and unable to defend yourself or flee, for months, even years.
posted by hincandenza at 9:47 AM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think there is a "type:" quiet, shy guys are probably not as likely to rape a girl who refuses them as someone who is aggressive.

But is there any guarantee that the guy who is quiet and shy in large social situations will be the same way one-on-one?

What if that shy social misfit gets overexcited at finally being alone in a room with a REAL NON-INFLATABLE GIRL and remembers all those movies where "no" isn't really no, and so on?

So yeah, of course personality matters (many people pass up relatively risk-free opportunities to rape, so clearly this is not something that everyone is equally prone to doing), but you can't judge that one-on-one personality from how that person is behaving while bellied up to the bar.

Anyway, I'm with Orthogonality on this one. There was a similar group when I was an undergraduate, and they were really kind of weird. Some of them were the ultra-gentle "I'm in touch with my feminine side" guys who weren't at risk for raping a fly (to mix that metaphor until it cries uncle), and others were these aggressive guys who looked like they were kind of getting off on being able to talk in public about how they could totally have been a rapist, but chose not to, "dude I totally could have, she was completely helpless," etc. Sort of a pornography of imagined sexual violence, if you will, and really unpleasant to listen to.

On campus now, a lot of the sexual misconduct cases that make it into the campus judicial system (as compared to the ones that make it into the criminal system) are really murky shades-of-gray cases. Usually both people were rip-roaring drunk or otherwise fucked up, and while clearly the alleged victim could not have given consent, the alleged assaulter wasn't able to give or interpret consent, either. Not a process where there are often any winners, sadly.
posted by Forktine at 9:52 AM on November 11, 2008


Burqas for everyone.
posted by gman at 9:53 AM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


i'd like to chime in. having 2 friends and acquaintances in my social circle raped and murdered in the past months, i hope that other men might give this here more of a chance.

we humans are social creatures, and even if you are the awesomest, nicest, most feminist dude in the world (which i'm sure you are, 'cause so am i), you have male friends with fucked up attitudes about women. i'd venture to say its a safe bet that these attitudes about women get expressed in your presence, and if you're like me, often times you don't say anything, even though you could, because you dont want to spoil the moment.

now, of course, your friends would never, ever, ever, rape anyone, but i'm sure they have friends who you dont know, and your friends' friends have even more fucked up attitudes towards women than your friends do. and when your friends hang out with their friends, their less than progressive attitudes encourage their friends' shittier attitudes. and so on, you get the picture.

now, the key point: do these attitudes influence behavior towards women? of course they do. will one of these dudes, a friend of a friend of yours, rape a woman? statistically, yes he will (statistically speaking, its likely that a significant number of your friends and acquaintances have sexually assaulted women). statistically speaking, you definitely know a victim of sexual violence, have dated and slept with one. this violence has negatively impacted all the relationships of that person you care about (including the one with you). so what, as an individual good guy, can you do?

ask all your female friends whose raped them and stop being friends with those folks? ask all your guy friends who has crossed the line with a woman and stop being friends with them? ridiculous.

you have an opportunity and thus a role in shaping the attitudes of people around you. dont think of it as complicity, shake off the guilt, and look at it as an opportunity to do something that you know in your heart is the right thing, the thing you should do.
posted by mano at 9:55 AM on November 11, 2008 [25 favorites]


Most rapists are acquaintances of the victim. So no, it's enough to avoid strangers or guys who seem threatening.

So, you should avoid acquaintances?
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:59 AM on November 11, 2008


Mental Wimp writes "So, you should avoid acquaintances?"

And, people.
posted by orthogonality at 10:00 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


So defensive, boys!
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:01 AM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


schroedinger: "Stopping rape" isn't simply not raping, it's also suggesting to your friends that jokes about roofies aren't really cool, and groping the drunk chick on the dance floor was kind of fucked up, and it represents a lack of class to only insult women in purely sexual terms--like referring to Hillary Clinton as frigid, or a sorority girl as a slut.

It's about removing the environment that creates those little tendrils of thoughts in a man's head that leads him to rationalize having sex with a woman who's too drunk to stand. It is more difficult to justify this sort of behavior yourself, or even consider that behavior, when you know your friends think it's fucking weak.

It is really unfortunate that people are so very reluctant to even consider this, especially men. I'm even seeing it here in the first few comments of this post, guys getting really defensive and acting like there is nothing, absolutely nothing they could possibly do about this and women should protect themselves and it's not my problem.
Look, I'm not a racist but what else can I do to stop racism? Should I show up at people's houses and yell at them for being racist? Should I claim that all people who aren't me are racist, and they should have the revelation I had? At a certain point, I can only control myself- I can find the idea of rape horrific, or of unwarranted violence, but I can't make other people feel the same way. Yelling at them won't change them, falsely accusing non-racist people of being racist won't change them, and ultimately I just exhaust myself.

Which... you know, I'm fairly certain none of my friends feel any differently then I; I don't know any of my male friends who think rape is cool, or who refer to women as sluts, bitches, hos, etc. I do know guys who do that, and they appear to me to be unbelievable douchenozzles. I know plenty of women that think those guys are complete douchenozzles, and say so behind their backs and to their faces.

Yet one can conclude that enough women don't think they're douchenozzles that they have a successful, if niche, strategy. Those stereotypical guys named Thad or Biff who say to their "brahs" that they're gonna double-team some chick, yo, man, and then ditch the bitch... why aren't women laying down the line? If a woman is so... dumb as to spread her legs for an obvious faker/psycho like that, she might as well just start running through Central Park at night, naked, with $100 bills taped to her body.

If the guy gropes her on the dance floor, she either doesn't mind, or should whap him upside the head and walk away. That- being shut out cold- would change the behavior. Since these guys are getting some with their current behavior, why should they change? Don't look to me to change those guys- I have no leverage.
posted by hincandenza at 10:02 AM on November 11, 2008


quiet, shy guys are probably not as likely to rape a girl who refuses them as someone who is aggressive.

What about quite, shy guys who feel as if they were given a green light, when they weren't, or the girl was not thinking straight, or any other number of possibilities?

Look, I know how offensive it can be to try to lump an entire gender into one stereotype (in this case being, "all men are potential rapists.") but the line that women just "need to use some common sense" to avoid being raped is equally offensive and often enough, plain not true. "Common sense" can't predict which people you thought you knew well turns out are very different drunk, or plain don't listen when you try to turn them down. "Common sense" won't pre-empt someone who attacks you in what you assumed was your empty apartment. "Common sense" wouldn't tell you that a family member would take advantage of you.

Let's not try to turn this into blame the victim with talks of common sense. The truth is, men need to be involved and informed before any progress can be made. Rape isn't only a women's issue.
posted by piratebowling at 10:03 AM on November 11, 2008 [6 favorites]


Inspector.Gadget, there is a flaw in your logic. You see, a lot of women who are well and truly raped do not admit they are raped because they blame themselves. "Well, I was drunk." "Well, I flirted with him." "Well, I should have known better." It's not just men who use those excuses. Women--especially women who are less educated about rape, like women in the 1970s--make those excuses to pin the perpetrator of the sexual assault on themselves. And in doing so they don't absolve themselves of the issues that come with sexual assault. No, now with the issues with intimacy and trust and fear that come with rape they also hate themselves.

Or from here:

Acknowledging having been assaulted can be a very difficult first step toward recovery. That's why sociologists performing these studies ask if a person experienced what's defined as rape or sexual assault without putting those words into the questions. As a result, these studies catch people who were raped or assaulted according to the legal definition, even if they do not recognize their experience as such.

To illustrate the complexity of the dynamic between rapist and victim, consider the case of Jeffrey J. Marsalis, who raped multiple women after meeting them on Match.com and even dated some of them after raping them. Not because they weren't raped, but because it was an attempt by some of the women to either convince themselves they weren't assaulted or hold some power over him. This is a surprisingly decent discussion of the issue, especially since it's on Jezebel.

. . . [Y]ou're not just waking up in the morning to some random loser or some frat boy in college — you're waking up to a guy whom you met in person for the first time the night before and found likable and drank at least moderately with and believe to be a trauma surgeon, and whom you're now looking at smiling at you across the pillow, contemplating that he might also have just raped you. I mean, for most of us this does not fit the profile: good-looking trauma surgeons who live in fancy high-rises are not rapists. So I think it's possible to understand pretty easily how in the cloud of the next morning her intellectual self might overtake her instinct. And since he for the most part did not really betray any overt violence after the initial night, for those who allowed him into their lives subsequently one can see how these women might convince themselves they were initially wrong, that the memory was flawed . . .

. . . women apparently often attempt to befriend their abusers after the fact, to convince themselves that their belief is wrong and they could not possibly have been raped, or, continuing to blame themselves here, to elevate the sex to something more meaningful/morally acceptable than "casual sex" (not to mention than "rape") . . .


Also, great comment, mano!
posted by schroedinger at 10:03 AM on November 11, 2008 [12 favorites]


hincandenza, refer to mano's comment:

we humans are social creatures, and even if you are the awesomest, nicest, most feminist dude in the world (which i'm sure you are, 'cause so am i), you have male friends with fucked up attitudes about women. i'd venture to say its a safe bet that these attitudes about women get expressed in your presence, and if you're like me, often times you don't say anything, even though you could, because you dont want to spoil the moment.

If this truly doesn't apply to you, then I applaud you and your friends and the liberated, isolated sphere you inhabit.
posted by schroedinger at 10:07 AM on November 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


"So, you should avoid acquaintances?"

And, people.


Yes, exactly. I'm done with this thread.
posted by Tehanu at 10:08 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


piratebowling, there are always crimes that can't be expected. Child molestation, incestuous rape and rape by a long-term partner are all difficult crimes to prevent and expect. They are abuses of relationships by psychopaths. In rapes by strangers or "acquaintances," however, circumstance plays a very large part in outcomes. In the case of stranger rape, people seem very willing to say: don't walk alone; don't walk down dark alleys; don't do x, or y, or z. In the case of rape by acquaintances, however, people seem less willing to say:

"Stay the hell away from drunk guys. Don't get drunk yourself."

Would that put a damper on most peoples' social lives? Absolutely. It would also go a hell of a long way towards preventing rape.
posted by sonic meat machine at 10:11 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


mano: we humans are social creatures, and even if you are the awesomest, nicest, most feminist dude in the world (which i'm sure you are, 'cause so am i), you have male friends with fucked up attitudes about women. i'd venture to say its a safe bet that these attitudes about women get expressed in your presence, and if you're like me, often times you don't say anything, even though you could, because you dont want to spoil the moment.
You're wrong. I have no friends who do this, and the guys who do act this way I promptly call out as being assholes (usually in slightly nicer tones, but not always). For example, one douchebag who used to go to my neighborhood bar would descend into words like "bitch" and "cunt" when he got too drunk, or make lewd comments to the waitresses and bartender. I- we- all told him to shut it up with that talk, even mocking him with a handmade "BINGO" board for his cusswords to show him how ridiculous he was. He gradually phased that behavior out (at least around us, I suppose). I do have exactly one friend who used to make jokes about male-on-male prison rape, but I reacted so fiercely so often that now if anyone else even references comments about rape, he jumps in with "Whoa, careful- hincandenza's gonna get mad! He does NOT like the rape jokes..."
schroedinger: If this truly doesn't apply to you, then I applaud you and your friends and the liberated, isolated sphere you inhabit.
Isolated sphere? Jesus, maybe you just need to hang around with a better class of people if you think that's a "liberated, isolated sphere". See, that's my point: sounds like you, continuing to "pal around with" these reprobates you think are such legion, are the one that needs to change your social circle.
(statistically speaking, its likely that a significant number of your friends and acquaintances have sexually assaulted women)
Didn't someone upthread point out that these statistics are basically bogus? I know of two women who were raped- one was my sister when she was 13 and I was 9, and her friend when she was in high school while on a trip to Montreal. I'm not sure what else you want me to do- I couldn't stop either, they make me sad, and I don't know of any other cases involving people I know. I can say I've never raped, or been inappropriate. I don't tolerate talk of such things in my presence, and I wouldn't certainly never stay friends with a guy who had assaulted or raped a woman.
mandymanwasregistered: So defensive, boys!
When the topic is a blanket implication that all men are rapists or implicitly support rape, then it's a little hard to be nonchalant.

I think it would be easier if anti-rape advocates declared men to be the Great Satan, and then highjacked men-planes and flew them into men's-towers. That would be sufficiently granular and terrifically effective.
posted by hincandenza at 10:15 AM on November 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


i'd venture to say its a safe bet that these attitudes about women get expressed in your presence, and if you're like me, often times you don't say anything, even though you could, because you dont want to spoil the moment.
I've found that saying, "Jesus, don't be a dick," and giving them a withering look before going back to whatever we were doing works fine.

This particular aspect of the issue is not actually terribly complex.
posted by verb at 10:15 AM on November 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


So sonic meat machine, you are basically arguing that when men are drunk they are doomed to be slavering, raping beasts that must be locked in cages and/or avoided? If that is the case, then why aren't we telling men to stop drinking?

Women do need to protect themselves, and there is shitloads of information out there on this fact. This movement is taking the radical idea that two people are involved in a rape, and perhaps we should start engaging the possible perpetrators as well as the possible victims.
posted by schroedinger at 10:16 AM on November 11, 2008 [8 favorites]


This thread is weird.

It features a variety of programs designed to promote healthy ideas of gender in men. It seems to be encouraging guys to challenge their buddies when they make stupid, sexist remarks, and to try and veiw the women around them as people, not just sex objects.

And what do we have? A whole bunch of comments from men objecting to this program because they aren't rapists, the usual assertions about prison rape and how rape statistics are bogus and how women lie about rape. Assertions about type. We've got blaming the victim (because drunk girls are asking for it), off topic comments about prison rape (highly relevant in regards to a college culture initiative). And very little actual talk about what the article is trying to do.

Here are some facts. Most rapists are known to their victims. A significant number of coeds will experiance some form of sexual assault over their schooling. Alchohol is often a factor.

It has never made any sense to me that the onus for preventing rape has so often fallen on the victim of the crime. We as women are taught to treat all men as predators, as there is no way to differentiante the kindhearted from the callous - orthogonality, this is why you are "stereotypically paint[ed] with the broad brush of some people's failings".

The guys who fuck girls who are passed out, the ones who slip a mikey into a drink, the ones who buy the dinner then make sure they 'get what they've paid for' - I've met these guys. I've been on the recieving end of their charms, I've picked up the pieces when they were done. Though they've been thankfully few, when confronted they always use the same macho bullshit to defend themselves - oh, she was all over me before she passed out, it was just gunna loosen her up a bit, she knew what we were there for. None would aknowledge that a rape had occurred. It didn't fit into that stereotype of a dude following a chick home and assaulting her in an alley. They were just having fun, they weren't psychos, everyone knows rapists are sick. They couldn't place themselves in the narrative of how rape happens. They were just boys having fun. They needed their dials seriously adjusted, and no chick was going to do that. When a man already views you as a pair of tits on legs, then they sure as hell aren't going to listen to you.

Educating men to challenge the toxic playboy stud image is immensly more powerful. When the guys they are trying to impress with their machismo respond with disgust, the mesage is that much more easy to swallow.

This is a laudable intiative, and the organisers should be praised.
posted by Jilder at 10:18 AM on November 11, 2008 [58 favorites]


After actually having some "Take Back the Night" people yell taunts at me and call me a "rapist" simply because I was the only male anywhere near, I have really had some trouble getting behind anything like this. Fact is, common sense could do more to combat rape than any of these initiatives, movements, protests, and so on. A skinny, nerdy guy who's so shy he can barely talk to women? Probably not a big risk. The fellow you just went home with because you are both drunk, although neither of you know the other? Probably a risk. It's not hard. Rape will be a problem until people begin to recognize that, like other crimes, you can raise your risk by putting yourself in less-than-ideal situations.

Say it with me: rape is not the woman's fault. rape is not the woman's fault. rape is not the woman's fault. rape is not the woman's fault. Write it on the fucking wall if you can't get it through your head. Make it your sock puppet's name. Rent a skywriter. Rape is not the woman's fault.

As long as men have the outdated puritan idea that a woman should be judged by the milage of her vagina, there are going to be millions of women who don't tell anyone they've been raped. That means millions of men who go on to rape again. Sure, there's a few women who forget that they came onto a man when they were drunk, and cry rape, but that number is far less than the number of women who were genuinely raped.

Would you say "priests should know better than to take confessions from killers?" No. It isn't a flaw for a woman to be trusting. It is a man's flaw to be abusive.
posted by Citizen Premier at 10:19 AM on November 11, 2008 [15 favorites]


When the topic is a blanket implication that all men are rapists or implicitly support rape, then it's a little hard to be nonchalant.

Jesus Christ, hincandenza, that's not the topic at all. The topic is that we live in a culture that trivializes rape and sexual assault, that trivializing rape and sexual assault lead to more rape and sexual assault, that men and women should be working against it, and here is a movement that targets men.

Where is anybody here calling all men rapists? Chill the fuck out.

Furthermore, you can argue that you and your friends are the majority, but any cursory inspection of the media, of rape and sexual assault statistics, of gender discrimination statistics, of gay discrimination statistics, will say it isn't so.
posted by schroedinger at 10:22 AM on November 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry to pick on that comment like everyone else but it pretty much demonstrates that the first thought that came into your head was "women need to be more careful" not "men need to stop raping." I think if men knew about the rape that went on around them they might be more inclined to stop their friends, or even stop themselves.
posted by Citizen Premier at 10:22 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


The radical part isn't focusing on the perpetrators as well, schroedinger; that's been done, thankfully, in greater measures since our society began even acknowledging rape, building a legal structure to offer immediate help, medical and counseling, and legal protection free of scorn. At least, so long as you aren't a guy in prison- then you are truly, truly fucked.

The radical part is saying that since some very small percentage of men have raped, that all men are responsible for... well, it's not clear what, or why men are more responsible. As a man, I can help prevent rape by a) not raping and b) supporting politically those protections we've established, and opposing politically people like Sarah Palin- who happens to be a woman- that would block things like rape kits. I think it's unfair to expect more of me, or to tag me as any more responsible for rape than, say, you are. I'm not responsible for murders that occur, or car thefts; what's different about rape?

Next thing you know you'll be blaming me for the financial crisis because I, too, am a symmetrical biped just like those bastards on Wall Street...
posted by hincandenza at 10:22 AM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


You see, a lot of women who are well and truly raped do not admit they are raped because they blame themselves.

You don't find something troubling about the following idea: "Lack of evidence for X is in fact evidence OF X"? Mac Donald's point was not that rape doesn't happen, isn't horrific, or doesn't screw up women psychologically: it was that the definition of rape has been stretched beyond a meaningful scope at the goading of a class of people who, without evidence, have concluded that there is a massive rape epidemic afoot across the US. I realize that the epidemic idea validates the worldview of several trains of thought about sexual identity and power, but that just can't substitute for lack of evidence.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:23 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


In all honestly, shroedinger, I do avoid drunk people. I find them loud, crude, and unpleasant. Do they need to be locked in cages? No. Are they more likely to do violence to other people, including sexual violence to women? Absolutely.

I have nothing against drinking in the abstract. It's just that one must recognize that being around people who have been drinking puts you at more risk for both physical violence (if you're male) and sexual violence (if you're female). Women who are going to be around drunk men should recognize that those men have impaired their decision-making capabilities and take precautions: don't drink themselves, or make sure that they have someone with them who isn't drinking. Of course, I can also say that men should consider avoiding drink and drunken women if they want to be sure that they can't be falsely accused of rape later.

It's not a radical idea to admit that there are perps as well as victims. It's just that it's radically offensive to be lumped into the "perps" bin because you happen to have been born male.

What if we decided that black people, given the high rate of murder in the inner city, are "potential murderers?" How about we start having rallies where we yell "murderer!" and other slurs as they pass?
posted by sonic meat machine at 10:25 AM on November 11, 2008


One of the hardest parts about rape education for men is reaching males without calling all men rapists-in-waiting. But making men who might rape responsible for stopping rape is a very sensible choice. Cultures that make women rely on modesty taboos, controlling their social activity and relying on male relatives to physically defend them have horrifying consequences for female liberty. Pepper spray in purses and paranoia does not work, and like innocent until proven guilty is a crucial component of modern justice, my capacity to be a sexual being without inviting unwanted attention is crucial for my liberty, as a woman.

The 'rape is a crime of violence' thing also has some issues, because sexual assault and harassment is also a crime of uncaring, as well as a way of punishing people you don't like of either gender. The guys who have grabbed my ass didn't do it because they wanted to have me go home and cry about it, they did it despite the fact that disrespecting my bodily autonomy would make me cry, and it probably didn't even occur to them it was more than teasing. That's why there's the common rationalization "s/he was asking for it". It shows up in rape porn, it shows up in child abuse cases, it shows up in people humanizing non-human participants who lack the capacity to ask. Unlike say, punching me, where the established consequence is supposed to be me crying, while some rapists are using the act as a weapon, people who rape often think a social transaction has taken place, entitling them to the other person.

Hence, education so that people who are vulnerable to committing rape understand the ramifications of the act. We teach people not to steal, or hit, or murder, and we also need to take the responsibility for rape off of the victim and onto the one who does it.
posted by Phalene at 10:27 AM on November 11, 2008 [9 favorites]


well, it's not clear what, or why men are more responsible.

I don't think it said more responsible. But it is encouraging men to think about and be aware of rape. And psychologically watching out for someone else's skin isn't not nearly as taxing as watching out for your own.

What if we decided that black people, given the high rate of murder in the inner city, are "potential murderers?" How about we start having rallies where we yell "murderer!" and other slurs as they pass?

What if some prominent black celebrities spoke out against a culture that encourage violence? Oh, shit.
posted by Citizen Premier at 10:30 AM on November 11, 2008


All sorts of men can get some crazy ideas about women in their heads, and not just when they're face to face with a tipsy lady in a dark corner. Amongst thousands of geeks, some are right jack-asses to women. Yeah, they didn't rape anyone, but changing the perceptions of people doesn't have to be about preventing the worst of acts.

To this end, Men Can Stop Rape and Men Against Rape aren't bad programs. The name of the former is a bit more optimistic than the latter, but it doesn't have to mean men can stop ALL rape by simply changing the mentality of men. There will still be violent sexual offenders, and those few have issues that go beyond a few workshops or meetings.

There is no single answer to ending rape. But any steps towards decreasing rape are good in my book. Is anyone forcing you to go to these meetings? Probably not. Do you feel weird when someone tells you "your strength isn't for hurting"? Maybe. But maybe you never really thought of your strength as something to be displayed by fucking and/or fighting.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:31 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Don't you see the difference between acknowledging flaws in cultural norms and yelling slurs at people, Citizen Premier?

I do the former: Drunkenness is an example of a cultural problem leading to sexual violence.

I do not do the latter: Men are rapists, or else their friends are rapists.
posted by sonic meat machine at 10:33 AM on November 11, 2008


schroedinger writes "If this truly doesn't apply to you, then I applaud you and your friends and the liberated, isolated sphere you inhabit."

To be honest, after reading mano's comment ("having 2 friends and acquaintances in my social circle raped and murdered in the past months, i hope that other men might give this here more of a chance. "), I asked myself, do I know anyone who's been murdered, and I couldn't think of anyone.

I'm not snarking here -- I really did ask myself. I'm old enough that statistically maybe I should know someone who was murdered, and I probably did know someone who I've since lost touch with and don't know has since then been murdered. But I can't think of anyone I know who's been murdered -- and certainly not anyone in the last several months.

I've known family who have died, and friends of friends, and one guy from my high school who I heard died a couple years after we graduated, and a few friends from college who given their substance issues might well be dead, and we know a women whose husband died on their honeymoon, and a friend's bf, and I know that I nearly checked out a few years ago courtesy of too many Big Macs. But no murders: come to think of it, most of the deaths have been heart attacks, or substance abuse, or substance abuse/possible suicide. I was attacked by a knife-wielding guy in an elevator once, but fortunately a big gay dude fended him off.

I'm going to call some friends and quiz them about this, and make sure I'm not missing any deaths.

But while I can't say there have been no rapes among people I've known, no, I haven't known anyone murdered, despite having lived in a couple of "murder capitols". So, yeah, maybe mano and I live in very different spheres.
posted by orthogonality at 10:34 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


it was that the definition of rape has been stretched beyond a meaningful scope at the goading of a class of people who, without evidence, have concluded that there is a massive rape epidemic afoot across the US.

Anecdotally speaking (there, I said it.) probably 30-40% of the female friends that I am close enough with to talk about such things have told me they have been raped or sexually assaulted. I've been friends with some women for years before we became close enough to talk about rape. Most of them don't talk about it with most of their friends, especially with men. I think this is because of two reasons. One, a lot of men react the way the men upthread have been reacting to any mention of the topic of rape (that is, defensively), and two, most women have experienced some kind of casual sexual harassment (shouts, lewd comments, etc.) walking alone on the street, at a party, etc. to perhaps be able to empathize a bit.

Just because you're not privy to the evidence doesn't mean it isn't there.
posted by lunit at 10:36 AM on November 11, 2008 [7 favorites]


Orthogonality, thank you for willfully missing the point. Your contributions to the discussion are valuable and appreciated.

You know, please, could someone please tell me in this thread and in these links where it says "All men are rapists"? Because people keep bringing it up, again and again, and yet aren't providing any proof.

Inspector.Gadget, how much study have you done about rape? Reading interviews with women who have been raped? How rape is classified in studies of it? Because if "He didn't listen when I said no and I was too drunk to fight and so I just gave up" isn't rape, then I don't know what is. I've been sexually assaulted, I've been through the cycle of blaming myself and then trying to befriend the guy, and I was an ardent feminist when it happened to me. Yes, it happens, and it's not about using an overly broad definition, it's about recognizing you're dealing with a class of victims who want very, very much to pretend nothing ever happened and everything is OK.

The very fact you're using a repulsive conservative nut like Heather Mac Donald as your argument basis indicates you don't know shit about rape studies.

Anyway, I am done with this thread. I apologize that all the men here are victimized by anti-rape efforts. Please go back to assuring yourselves that this whole thing is really the fault of either women in short skirts or other women who won't shave their armpits.
posted by schroedinger at 10:39 AM on November 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


Just because you're not privy to the evidence doesn't mean it isn't there.

The researchers who conduct studies and those who review them ARE privy to the evidence, and its flatly obvious that no such rape epidemic exists. When you went to college, did you hear the "1 in 4 women..." statistic? For an example of why that's impossible, consult the National Crime Victimization Survey.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:39 AM on November 11, 2008


I helped organize this sort of thing back in the 90s. I think it is useful for some men to have clearer definitions of what consent is and isn't, because, as hard as it is to believe, there are still some neanderthals who think no means yes and women are obligated to put out under certain circumstances. That being said, it seems to me there are very few men who are serial rapists who take women by force because that act is pleasurable for them, there are a larger number of guys who are agressive and bullying and will do just about anything to get into a girl's pants, and there are a whole lot of guys for whom the idea of rape is odious and terrible. And, from my experience, the latter is the type of guy who is predisposed to show up at these volunteer "men reject rape culture" sessions.

There are some theorists who posit that all men are potential rapists, which I suppose is true. My brain chemestry could go haywire and I could lose any sense of morality or decency. I could be in an accident that crushes the part of my brain that controls my sexual impulses. But, failing that, I'm not going to rape anybody. I suspect that's true of almost all the men who went through the program that I helped organize. It was an interesting thing to do, and certainly opened my eyes to a lot of the reasons that many women live with a lot of fear, but I sincerely doubt my program, or any like it, are causing a decrease in the number of men who rape.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:41 AM on November 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


What if some prominent black celebrities spoke out against a culture that encourage violence? Oh, shit.

That's the point though, by saying that the culture encourages violence, you're attacking everyone who is a part of that culture, and you're neglecting other causes. There are many, many people who would disagree that black culture is to blame for higher crime rates. I personally assert that the after-effects of slavery and systematic racism in the US have led to high populations of low-income African Americans with less than average opportunities to succeed through legal means.

On the same token, blaming male culture for rape may be missing many of the core underlying problems that cause it. Getting rid of misconceptions about sexual assault laws, and encouraging people not to get blind drunk are arguably more important than eradicating aspects of male culture that are demeaning to women. In addition, coming at male culture with an adversarial attitude that focuses on fixing a common flaw in all men may not be the best approach at trying to start a dialog.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:41 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


The very fact you're using a repulsive conservative nut like Heather Mac Donald as your argument basis indicates you don't know shit about rape studies.

All the indications (cf. Kennedy v. Lousiana, recectly) I've seen suggests to me that conservatives would tend overreport rape to justify some of their policy positions. Regardless, your weak ad hominem doesn't substitute for the lack of any statistical proof of the assertions coming from people who have carved out a niche to profit from scaring other people and demonizing men.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:42 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


For an example of why that's impossible, consult the National Crime Victimization Survey.

None of the women that I know personally who have been raped, save one, reported it. The guy got off (do you know how hard it is to prove consent in a court?) Blame them all you want for perpetuating the system, but are you really that clueless about how hard it is to go to the cops - strangers, often men - about something like rape? Especially when you're blaming yourself?

Rape is really, really, really under-reported. You can't genuinely have not known that.
posted by lunit at 10:45 AM on November 11, 2008 [7 favorites]


This is a laudable intiative, and the organisers should be praised.
But any steps towards decreasing rape are good in my book.


In general, I don't like the ideas that "anything positive is good," because it misses the larger point that some people seem to be trying to make here, which is this: There are better ways than this.

We could, as a society, spend 100 units of our collective energy and prevent one rape. Is that laudable? Is that a good idea? Should we pat ourselves on the back and release the doves and start the celebratory fireworks? Of course, right?

Maybe not. We will have committed a drastic error if we had another option on the table where we could've spent 100 units of our collective energy in order to prevent 100 rapes.

The derision directed toward this program, IMO, is an intuitive, gut-level reaction. We seem to sense that while good, it's not as good as it needs to be, and neither is it as good as it should be, and our attention is best spent elsewhere, lest we get outrage fatigue, and then we won't care much about anything useful. Pass the beer nuts.

Of course, you could counter my argument by saying, if anything prevents one rape, that's great, because you have to fight this battle one person at a time. You'd be right on that, of course. But we should be reaching higher, and I think we sense that, but can't quite put it into words.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:45 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Rape is really, really, really under-reported. You can't genuinely have not known that.

Where's the statistical proof? Baseline figures + conjecture != accurate higher figures. Which is exactly the point of the Mac Donald article.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:47 AM on November 11, 2008


schroedinger writes "You know, please, could someone please tell me in this thread and in these links where it says 'All men are rapists'? Because people keep bringing it up, again and again, and yet aren't providing any proof."

Because these programs are designed to target as audiences the entire male student body of numerous colleges. So yeah, maybe it's "just" "all (college student) men are (potential) rapists".

And that's a too-broad brush, just as would be claiming that all college students ae "potential" murderers.

Worse though, I think that by implying all men are (potential) rapists, these programs probably decrease any existing moral barrier to raping. I mean, if we're all rapists at heart....
posted by orthogonality at 10:48 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


This thread is weird.

Seconded.

Seriously, how is it so inconvenient or awful that men should have to learn about this topic? Okay, so maybe you'd never do this, you'd never assault a woman. You may be in a situation where this information is still relevant. You may see a woman being assaulted or hear another guy acting/speaking in a way that's totally inappropriate. Even if you feel these reformed guys are projecting their issues on you and you do not share those inclinations, seeing how they thought or acted may give you clues about when you should step in. Because guess what? Often enough dudes will listen to or just plain respect other dudes way more than women. I see t every damn day, it's why when I'm walking down a street with a guy (any guy!) I will not get any attention from male passersby as I do when I'm alone.

Being informed does not mean we think you will be a rapist. It means you can have a chance to make a difference and do some good. I can't tell where all the resistance on being informed is coming from.
posted by piratebowling at 10:49 AM on November 11, 2008 [14 favorites]


lunit writes "Rape is really, really, really under-reported. You can't genuinely have not known that."

And educating men, or accusing them of being potential rapists, will do little to change that.
posted by orthogonality at 10:50 AM on November 11, 2008


I can't tell where all the resistance on being informed is coming from.

Because all too often what occurs is proselytizing, not informing.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:53 AM on November 11, 2008


Those stereotypical guys named Thad or Biff who say to their "brahs" that they're gonna double-team some chick, yo, man, and then ditch the bitch... why aren't women laying down the line? [...] If the guy gropes her on the dance floor, she either doesn't mind, or should whap him upside the head and walk away. That- being shut out cold- would change the behavior.

But what if the Thad/Biff manages to be half decent most of the night, right up to the minute the girl decides to call it a night and falls into that deep alcohol-powered sleep? If Biff/Thad lives in a world where the bro's hi5s all sexual feats regardless, he might take advantage of the situation (not raping of course!, "she was coming on to me all night!") without giving the girl the opportunity for the wack on the head.

It is these gray areas of rape that can be remedied by changing male attitudes. Where it's not some clearly deranged pscyho raping but instead "normal" men, behaving within the current male norms, raping because they get an opportunity and live in a world where women sometimes is a subject and other times, an object. And not calling it rape because of x.

...and everything Jilder writes.
posted by mnsc at 10:53 AM on November 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


piratebowling, you can't step in. I've tried. I've warned female friends about potentially abusive relationships and been cursed at for it. Six months later, after the abuse has taken place, they might admit that you were correct; but in the heat of infatuation there is nothing someone outside the relationship can do.
posted by sonic meat machine at 10:53 AM on November 11, 2008


Of course, you could counter my argument by saying, if anything prevents one rape, that's great, because you have to fight this battle one person at a time. Traditionally the 'one person' you mention is the woman. The state of the art in rape prevention should not be a can of mace. What initiatives like this do is broaden the field and let men know that this is a much larger problem than they are likely to think it is, and that it's something they have the power to stop, not by keeping their cock in their pants, but by being able to spot the predatory behaviour of other men around them. This is another tool, not the only tool.

I don't think this is a one person at a time battle. Addressing cultural trends that encourage men to view women as more than sex objects and to take their chauvanist friends to task is far from a one person at a time battle, but takes a look at one of the causes the problem in the first place.
posted by Jilder at 10:56 AM on November 11, 2008


Thank you, Inspector.Gadget for weighing in on the Ms. statistics. And I'm glad I waited to post till orthogonality ventured into the murder numbers. I was a child/adolesent in the scary NYC seventies of TV movies starring my beloved Samantha (aka Elizabeth Montgomery) as parking lot rape victim who winds up humiliated further in court, and the unforgettable "Death Wish," which I never saw myself but got the benefit of many a nightmare after my best friend's blow by blow retelling (no tasteless pun intended, my MeFi friends). Rape was The Big Fear. In fact, i first learned the word when an older neighber boy who gave me my first comic book (Blondie) told me, apropos of nothing, "When I'm fifteen, I'm going to take a girl and rape her." At age ten I had to ask my mother what the word meant, and her explanation was rather hard to understand, but I never went to his house again. (He later beame a very successful Wall Street broker; I'm hoping Lehman Brothers.) Anyway, I managed to make it through high school and college liking boys and then men. I guess it helps to have big steady boyfriends. But I did walk home through Central Park by myself at 3 a.m. and here I am. And no, I don't buy lotery tickets, but I could sure use a windfall right about now.

Of all the women I have known, only two have told me about being raped, one in a restaurant parking lot in CA, the other in an elevator or stairwell in NY, both by strangers. On the other hand, I have many friends and acquaintances with varying degrees of experience of occasional or long-term molestation by parents, siblings, relatives and friends. The program addressed at helping "Men Fight Rape" seems not to address this possibly larger issue at all. To my mind rape, however undeniably sexual in action, is so much more about power and power's friend, violence, than sex per se. When I think of rape I think mostly of wartime, Serbia-Croatia, Rwanda, all the way back to the beginning of time.

And on a different note, college boys, if my memory serves, are often insecure enough, be they the skinny brooding silent type or the captain of the heavyweight crew team (and everything up down sideways in between). The last thing they need is more self-flagellating self-examination programs like this kind of shit.

There, I finally said it. As a mother of, among others, two boys aged 16 and 19. And I can't think of anyone I've ever known who was an (admitted) rapist, but then I live in a rarified world.
posted by emhutchinson at 10:58 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Of course it is useful to have men involved in the problem of rape prevention. They have a lot more influence over their friends than anyone else. I think this is a great idea. I just had to explain to my bf (who was raised by a single mother and usually has sound ideas about women) that if a man impersonates another man and has sex with a woman it is rape. This was in regards to the Motley Crue biography in which some dude has sex with a girl when she thinks it's another dude. Hell yeah that's rape. If I consent to sex with my bf does that mean that any guy can wander into my bedroom and have the same privilege?
posted by nauplius at 10:58 AM on November 11, 2008


Being informed does not mean we think you will be a rapist. It means you can have a chance to make a difference and do some good. I can't tell where all the resistance on being informed is coming from.

I actually agree that the ends justifies the means with these, although as I've explained up-thread I wish some of these programs would tone down the focus on societal masculinity concepts. That doesn't mean I can't see why most guys would dislike them though.

Imagine you started working at a retail job and they showed you an instructional video about what is and isn't allowed on the job. It might spend a long time talking about how you shouldn't steal from the register, and what kinds of criminal penalties you will face if you do. This might scare some people who otherwise would have tried to steal from doing it. But at the same time, if you're the type of person who would never have stolen the money, it feels crappy to have to sit through a lecture about why you shouldn't do it. You feel like your employer should just trust you to do the right thing and not assume that any new employee is a potential criminal.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:03 AM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh for fuck's sake, orthogonality: these courses are not accusing men of being potential rapists, any more than a class on money management is accusing you of being a big spender with shitty credit.
posted by shiu mai baby at 11:05 AM on November 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


Correction: these courses are not accusing all men of being rapists.
posted by shiu mai baby at 11:07 AM on November 11, 2008


Let me tell the "not happening lalala" crowd; I've been attacked, I've been followed (managed to dodge the person both times), and I've avoided many many situations where it was fairly obvious that worse things could happen to me if I didn't get out of there. This is my life, has been since I was a girl.

But if you were my guy friend, you wouldn't know any of that, because why would I bring it up? You and I, we talk about your love life, or sports, or pop culture, or politics. You don't even know, have not the foggiest idea, of the world I walk around in every day. You don't know what it was like to realize, at 11 years old, that you are a walking target. The media didn't brainwash me into believing it, and I didn't know any feminists then. The men who saw me as meat taught me that, the ones who catcall on the street and make me tense with fear (are they going to try something worse?) the ones who try to take pictures up my skirt, or grab me. The guy who seems nice but might not be. The guy who beat up my girlfriend and then convinced her it was her fault.

I wish, how I wish, I could force the victim blamers to just be a woman, for a few years, walk around in the world I live in, feel how your life is constrained, how being so careful, all the time, starts to get to you. How angry and crazy you start to feel.

We know you're not all like that, but too many of you are. And the ones who get angry or defensive at women for making a big deal out of it, who even say we're lying or stupid...well. You're not a rapist, but you're not helping.
posted by emjaybee at 11:10 AM on November 11, 2008 [43 favorites]


OK, so I'm in a bar and I see a guy behaving badly towards a woman who looks like she'd rather be somewhere else. My natural response would be to say something like, "Unhand that woman knave!" and then decapitate his sorry ass. Oddly enough, that doesn't go over very well, so I end up muttering something to myself like, "Christ, what an asshole."

I'm all for solving problems, but the toolbox is kinda empty on this one.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:13 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


When I was at the University of Oregon, they actually put apple scented urinal screens in all the campus bathrooms that read "You have the power to stop rape in your hands."

It seems that nearly all these educational efforts I've encountered on rape are similarly condescending to men. So when I looked at this website and immediately saw a reference to "the harmful aspects of traditional masculinity" I just sighed and moved on.
posted by Heminator at 11:19 AM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


emjaybee, I understand your perspective... but the venn diagram of "people who harass and/or rape women" and "people who are going to hear the messages put forth by groups like the one in the post and actually give a shit" involves no overlap. Furthermore, as a man, there is nothing I can do to actually make them give a shit.

That said, have you considered asking one of your guy friends who knows nothing about the harassment you're suffering to walk with you, when it's possible? I've certainly been asked many times by different women to walk them to their car, their dorm door, the bus stop, and what have you. It's not ideal, but it's the best a decent guy can do to offer you protection against this sort of thing.
posted by sonic meat machine at 11:22 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Kid C...those are the only two options, alright.

Usual defensiveness from MeFi about rape. It's not about you, no one is calling you a rapist. Gosh, I'd just love one of these types of threads without any hint of blaming the victim, but we've already had that here too...
posted by agregoli at 11:34 AM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


emjaybee, I understand your perspective... but the venn diagram of "people who harass and/or rape women" and "people who are going to hear the messages put forth by groups like the one in the post and actually give a shit" involves no overlap.

Don't know the epidemiology of rape, but it seems to me there are several categories of rapists, and the overlap you describe might actually be pretty large. First, there are the predator rapists, the ones who stalk women alone in isolated places or late at night or who invade domiciles and who use only frank force to rape. Then there are the self-imagined lotharios who hit on every woman and have no clue how badly their attempts are received by their targets, and once in a great while their oily come-on is accepted by a needy and equally clueless woman, whom the lotharios then proceed to force themselves on even in the face of resistance. A third group are the aware-enough-to-appear-to-be-sensitive guys who woo a woman, take her on a date and "expect something" in return for their time and coin and will use not-too-subtle coercion to get it, including physical restraint by dint of superior strength. And then there may be the guys who are sincerely interested in a woman, who spend some time with her and get turned on and then become insistent on having sex, and who pressure the woman into something she really doesn't want to do, thinking that that's the way of the world.

I think the program (not the Saturday Night Live sketch, that other one) could definitely affect the fourth group and a non-trivial slice of the third group. I think the first and second groups would be totally refractory to the message of the program. Does anyone have data on the types of rapists and frequency of rape?
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:40 AM on November 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


Actually, agregoli, I have been called a "rapist." That was the point of my initial post in this thread. This bizarre cultural obsession leads many women to view all men as "potential rapists," when the vast majority of us are actually decent. Later, I suppose, I "blame the victim," in your mind, by saying that women should stay away from drunken men, but I insist on thinking this a reasonable caution. I also avoid drunken men.

It's not that I'm defensive. I don't think I have done anything wrong. My attitude is one of frustration: I don't want to be viewed by a large segment of the population as a potential threat just because I happen to have been born a male.
posted by sonic meat machine at 11:43 AM on November 11, 2008


As a man who is pretty sensitive to the "all men are rapists" crap, I don't see any of that here. This isn't to say that that viewpoint doesn't exist, but I don't think that it's one inherent in this post or necessarily in the programs being discussed.
posted by grouse at 11:47 AM on November 11, 2008


I'm thinking of having my cat declawed...
posted by adamdschneider at 11:48 AM on November 11, 2008 [6 favorites]


grouse: The "Men Can Stop Rape" group is aimed at producing "alternative visions of male strength" and "developing healthier versions of masculinity." It has a subsection called "masculinity in the media" in which it seems that "masculinity" has a negative connotation. The second link seems to rely on Koss's statistics, which were mentioned upthread.
posted by sonic meat machine at 11:58 AM on November 11, 2008


Sonic; your last post is interesting. You don't want to be tarred with that brush, fair enough; but do these educational programs do that? I ask in all honesty. Maybe the programs are clumsy, or come across wrong, and should be refined enough that it's clear the message isn't "all men are rapists" but "we live in a culture that trivializes rape and sometimes promotes it, and that's a mindset men need to stand up against."

Which is not as pithy, but more helpful.

And...ok. I want you to think about your earlier response: "find a male friend to walk with you." Can you understand both how limiting and, sorry, insulting that is? Of course I find a friend when I can! I also avoid dark alleys, and unguarded drinks in bars. I'm not an idiot. But even if I were, I wouldn't deserve to be raped, or at fault if I was. Because the rapist is the criminal, not me.

Being "safe" I could still be raped. I was assaulted (not raped, but definitely assualted) in front of a schoolbus with dozens of people around, by some guy I never met and didn't even know was there. I have been followed in broad daylight, once by a car full of scary types as I was out walking in my safe suburban neighborhood, once when I was walking to the store. I ducked inside and stood behind a display; he came in, looked around and grimaced when he didn't see me and walked away. He was clearly looking for me.

I have had men say unspeakable things to me, again, in broad daylight, lots of people around.

And none of that is prosecutable, but all of it carries the clear message; I am a target, I am prey, I am never safe in any situation. And when people tell me "well just be more careful" I try not to slug them, because my carefulness only goes so far. Apparently, my bad for being female.

Burqas and boyfriends and curfews don't prevent rape. But men who appreciate the scope of the problem and try to do something constructive about it might help.
posted by emjaybee at 12:02 PM on November 11, 2008 [9 favorites]


I guess where some guys get not only defensive but genuinely confused is when we start from a very reasonable and agreeable position of helping men to understand what sexual consent truly is and under which conditions it should be sought to then telling them they, in order to be conscientious people, have to monitor the "sexist" speech and attitudes of their friends and acquaintances as well.

The problem is everybody has a very different idea about what constitutes sexist speech and attitudes and even from there with "sexism" will contribute to dehumanizing women to the point of actions like rape. I mean it is legitimate to see some of that as a stretch.

Now I know what line I wont cross and I know what line I will not put up with my friends crossing but I many, many people right here seem to have a very different and much more extreme line.

For instance I have read right here in the blue rational people arguing that pornography is sexist and pornography leads To rape. So. Do we not watch porn? Or do we get a list of specific pornographic acts that are allowable? Who decides?

For instance there are certain words, words like "cunt" that suddenly trigger this visceral extreme reaction regardless of context or culture. Which WORDS do I monitor? Who defines these words?

I think we SHOULD have these discussion. But I want all of the discussion without being dismissed as "defensive" and with out having to qualify everything I say to the point of exhaustion.

And once, just once, I'd like to have this discussion with OUT having to even mention or defend my anti-rape bone fides just becuase I am a man.

I will state them here for the last time in context of these heated discussions: I taught womens self defense for four years. I worked with victims. My sister in law was horribly beaten and raped in her home by a stranger. And I have known both a murdered victim AND a rapist. My brother is parole officer for sexual predators in the State of Florida. I currently occasionally help formulating a training instructors for a Womens SD program. There.
posted by tkchrist at 12:04 PM on November 11, 2008 [10 favorites]


Inspector.Gadget, there is a flaw in your logic. You see, a lot of women who are well and truly raped do not admit they are raped because they blame themselves. ...

Acknowledging having been assaulted can be a very difficult first step toward recovery. That's why sociologists performing these studies ask if a person experienced what's defined as rape or sexual assault without putting those words into the questions.


It goes both ways. Applying this type of survey method to myself (sorry, no lurid details for you, internet), I could (counting specific instances off the top of my head) claim at least a dozen instances of sexual assault against my person when I think a reasonable count would be one (ass randomly groped in a bar.) I would also know a few couples (if not most or even all couples I know - I usually don't know details) whose relationships would apparently be based on continual mutual rape.

I definitely think that I am not blaming or deluding myself about a dozen sexual assaults, but rather that I wasn't sexually assaulted except the once.

I don't like to see causes I support backed with or looking like absurdity - and for anti-rape causes to be at worst deceitful and at best working from a definition of "rape" that doesn't match the consensus reality of what makes people suffer and what doesn't tends to do that. I agree that there may be under-reporting in general and almost definitely in reported crime statistics (and not just because of self-blame) but the response to that is to say "x assaults are reported and x percent of women report being assaulted in surveys, and no one knows " not to start making shit up.

I also find the backlash against anti-rape advice for women as "blaming the victim" odd and problematic. If we advise people to lock their car to prevent grand theft auto or pick a good password to help prevent hacking, no one calls that "blaming the victim."
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:06 PM on November 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


After actually having some "Take Back the Night" people yell taunts at me and call me a "rapist" simply because I was the only male anywhere near,

This was actually brought up -- men need to get involved in talking about rape protection to fight back against such prejudiced attitudes that rape is something men (as a class) do to women (as a class).

Not all men are potential rapists - which is why the men who aren't should get together to talk about the seriousness of the issue. And to fight back against this idea that rape is a women's issue - it's an everyone issue.

I have to say that women are a big part of the problem to excluding men from the conversation about rape and sexual violence - and some do discriminate against all men. The women's centre at my old university used to ban all men from the rape crisis area so that victims would not be "traumatized" by having to see a man so quickly after having been attacked. I didn't realize how sick this was until a friend pointed it out to me: it would be like having "no black people" recovery areas for anyone mugged by someone who was black (which would, rightfully, be denounced as racist). I realize that rape is gendered - but just because someone might possess an body part which is the same as that which was used against you doesn't mean you have the right to see all men as the same. In fact, it's all the more important to reinforce how they aren't - that the victim of sexual violence can trust other owners of the Y chromosone and doesn't need to be "protected" from them.

--------------

Prison rape is extremely serious. But I think it is also a very different social phenomenon born out of the extremely violent and heirarchial and single-sexed prison environment. It's kind of like trying to talk about the war in DR Congo when discussion LA Gang riots - both are serious issues of violence, but have such different specifics it's almost impossible to talk about them together.
posted by jb at 12:08 PM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


emjaybee, I acknowledge that finding a male friend to walk with you is not the best solution. However, though it may be sub-optimal, it's vastly superior to the alternative.

In an ideal world, there would be no danger for a woman walking by herself. In an ideal world, I could safely walk through Detroit by myself at night. (If Detroit existed in an ideal world.) It's very well to say that men should be educated about rape and sexual violence, but there is nothing we can do to prevent it any more than we can prevent people from abusing drugs. The best we can do is individually behave respectably, which most of us do; but to repeatedly see the idea that masculinity or maleness is somehow inferior because most rapists are men is not really helpful.
posted by sonic meat machine at 12:15 PM on November 11, 2008


The "Men Can Stop Rape" group is aimed at producing "alternative visions of male strength" and "developing healthier versions of masculinity." It has a subsection called "masculinity in the media" in which it seems that "masculinity" has a negative connotation.

Personally, I think an unhealthy brand of masculinity pervades American culture, and many other cultures. Changing how people view masculinity is a good thing. That's a far cry from saying that all men are rapists.
posted by grouse at 12:17 PM on November 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


It seems that nearly all these educational efforts I've encountered on rape are similarly condescending to men. So when I looked at this website and immediately saw a reference to "the harmful aspects of traditional masculinity" I just sighed and moved on.

Traditional masculinity is harmful and so is traditional femininity. Destroy gender roles.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:17 PM on November 11, 2008 [7 favorites]


there is nothing we can do to prevent it any more than we can prevent people from abusing drugs

This I disagree with entirely.
posted by grouse at 12:18 PM on November 11, 2008


1. A lot of guys here seem to be operating under the blatantly false impression that there are two sorts of men: 1) normal men, like me and all my friends and all their friends, who would never dream of imposing themselves sexually on a woman; 2) criminals, who commit crimes because they are criminals (or, alternately, drunks, who commit crimes because they are drunk).

Bullshit. Almost no one gets up in the morning and says, "You know, I feel like committing a rape today!" I'd wager that the vast majority of rapists don't think of themselves as rapists at all. It's entirely possible that educational programs, even cheesy ones that seem pointless and condescending to the stand-up guys on MeFi, could nip a few non-rapist rapists in the bud. And while this is probably not the most effective way to prevent rape, it's certainly not a very onerous one; on the contrary. Attending an hour-long seminar? That's the fucking least you can do.

(And no, I don't have a scientific study to back up my intuition. As has been noted, it's notoriously difficult to get reliable data on this subject; in this case, I think anecdotal evidence from women who've been affected by sexual violence is substantially more reliable than sociological surveys or criminal justice stats.)

2. To all the guys who've had to sit through boring lectures, who feel accused of being potential rapists, who don't like it when women react defensively or distrustfully in public...yes, things like that can be annoying. I've had to sit through preachy employee-training videos on sexual harassment, and of course I spent the whole time feeling bored and vaguely insulted. But you know what? To hell with me. Maybe that irritating video prevented a few acts of sexual harassment; just the possibility is worth a hell of a lot more than my half-hour of annoyed boredom. Even if the video had no real effect, the gesture isn't worthless--it's an admission on the part of the institution that the problem is serious and needs to be dealt with. If you were subjected to some neanderthal's self-righteous sermon, or if you got unfairly yelled at by demonstrators, I feel for you, but to use that experience as an argument against the idea of anti-rape education and activism is LAME.

3. Personal responsibility is an excellent thing. Invoking the idea of personal responsibility to discredit the idea of communal responsibility (not to mention blaming the victim)? That sucks. A lot.
posted by DaDaDaDave at 12:21 PM on November 11, 2008 [27 favorites]


unhealthy brand of masculinity pervades American culture, and many other cultures

Define it. Seriously.

I'm not saying I disagree. But the problem everybody has a very divergent view of what masculinity should be. What is cultural.

What is biology. Let's have a discussion about what we want men to be like and what men really ARE like and what they can be like.

Personally, I think an unhealthy brand of humanity pervades the world.
posted by tkchrist at 12:23 PM on November 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Inspector.Gadget, there is a flaw in your logic. You see, a lot of women who are well and truly raped do not admit they are raped because they blame themselves.

Except that there are women who others may consider to have been coerced who believe that they were not forced, but that they made a bad decision in perhaps a coercive atmosphere that is still a decision. I think we have to respect women enough to also let them make bad decisions.

When a woman says she does not believe she was raped, we need to respect that as well. Women are intelligent and also sometimes stupid, and capable of being pressured (by their partner, by themselves, by society - it doesn't matter), but are still consenting, and to make bad decisions which they later regret - and still not feel like the man (or woman) they were with assaulted them.

There are a lot of grey areas - and we need to recognise them.

I'm saying this as someone who has been in experiences where someone else might say that I had been assaulted, but I know that I was not. I was uncomfortable and felt pressured by a whole lot of things, but I could have stopped the activity I was not comfortable with, and I chose not to - and I didn't let the other person know how I felt but continued to consent to the activity. I made a stupid decision, and had I stopped consenting, they would have stopped. And I don't feel assaulted - I did not have my will taken away from me. I did something I later regretted, and that is a huge difference. I have been in even greyer situations under the influence of alcohol with a different person, and looking back, perhaps I was assaulted. But then again, maybe I was not. I actually enjoyed part of that encounter, and not other parts - and sought the person out again.

So maybe I should be the one to define my experience - not a researcher with an agenda.

--------------

This is all separate from the actual program in the link, which is a bit hokey, but also admirable.
posted by jb at 12:26 PM on November 11, 2008 [7 favorites]


I don't have a cite, DaDaDaDave, but in Abnormal Psych I read several articles which indicated that a majority of men who commit rape suffer from antisocial personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder. This would strongly argue for the "normal guy vs. criminal" perspective.
posted by sonic meat machine at 12:26 PM on November 11, 2008


I think it's too bad that discussions like this (not only on the blue, but IRL as well) so often get bogged down in fights about whether the true number of women who have been raped is X or Y, and which methodology is better, and why we can't trust this number, and on and on. I used to waste a lot of energy trying to argue those points, because I was emotionally invested in getting the people I was arguing with to acknowledge that rape was a problem, that sexual violence was a big deal, that we needed to do something. I think that's a common response for women who have been targets of sexual violence--not necessarily even rape, but just having coped with the negative effects of living in a world where you're often reminded that you're a piece of meat or prey to a not-insignificant number of men in your community (as emjaybee articulates really well above).

The funny thing is, in retrospect, I'm not even sure which of the numbers is right, nor do I think it's all that important if the number of women raped is 1-in-4 or 1-in-100. I mean, Jesus, either number is kind of horrifying in its scale when you look at the size of our population, ya know?

On the actual FPP: while I understand the knee-jerk response of a lot of guys who say, "How dare you say any man could be a rapist!" I think it's an interesting assertion in one sense: while we like to pretend that the ethical code we personally abide by is timeless and somehow an intrinsic part of our soul, the truth is that a lot of it is shaped by the times and culture we grow up in. Every man could be a rapist in the same sense that any white person could have been a slaveowner in the 1800s, given the means and opportunity; the fact that I'm not a slaveowner today may be more an accident of birth than anything intrinsic to me. I mean, everyone likes to pretend that THEY would have been one of the brave ones marching with the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, or bravely sheltering the Jews during Nazi occupation, but the truth is that most people weren't, because their sense how it was ethical to treat other people was so strongly shaped by the racist society they lived in.

Wasn't there an FPP about a year ago about the really dramatic decline in rape rates over the past 50 years? (Apologies that my Google is failing me.) Something on the order of a 70 percent decline? I think that, if nothing else, really puts into perspective for me the claim that "any man is a potential rapist": we've made great strides in lowering the rape rate by (I would argue) changing a newer generation of men's minds about what constituted rape. The entire concept of date rape didn't even really exist 50 years ago, and now I would think most men would recognize that holding your date down and forcing sex on her is Not Okay. That's progress, and I think that's the sort of progress that these men's groups are trying to keep pushing.

Of course, I think they'd be much more successful if they changed their message. I'm a big fan of promoting the idea of enthusiastic consent as a way to keep pushing the number of rapes lower, and I think that's absolutely the sort of thing that would work best with men educating (hell, proselytizing) other men about. We've come far enough that the line about what is "really rape"--and thus what the majority of people think of as non-okay sexual encounters entail--to include things like having sex with someone who is passed out, or intimidating someone into having sex, or holding them down if you're not really hurting them. I'd love to see it move further, to include the relatively simple (to me) idea that you shouldn't have sex with someone who doesn't want to have sex with you a lot. You know, rape not being defined as sex + no, but sex + lack of yes (true consent is never tacit, it is never silent). I certainly wish more of the work that these men's groups were doing was around that idea, rather than a somewhat condescending slogan like "my strength is not for hurting."
posted by iminurmefi at 12:35 PM on November 11, 2008 [14 favorites]


DaDaDaDave, I have gone through a couple of these sensitivity seminars and Anti-rape talks aimed at men. The ones that were the most useful I felt were those that approached the definition of consent and also dealt with anger management and empathy.

But where they failed, entirely, were in the subjective behaviors. Like I mentioned above deputizing the attendees to monitor their friends attitudes and "speech" about women. The context are so damn fuzzy and the approach to men was so reactionary and unrealistic it was appalling.

For example: We were cautioned to watch for our friends who were viewing pornographic material that was debasing to women. When I asked what that meant I was scowled at. "Violent Pornography. Where women are placed in subordinate and humiliating positions". Like what? What they described to me sounded pretty much like well... sex. Some of it not my cup of tea but... well it's frigg'n subjective.

Okay if I have friend who is way into violent rape fantasies... I do what exactly? Tell him that's fucked up? Because I have female friends who are into that too. Clearly the intent of this particular lecture was about that persons own personaly issues with pornography in general. But I use it as an example of how sometimes these well intended anti-rape programs can tend towards ideological mission creep.

Now I know what I do when I see BEHAVIOR towards women that is dangerous and threatening. I ACT.

But I'm not Thought Cop and I hat this idea that we should be like some people here seem to be implying.
posted by tkchrist at 12:40 PM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


TheOnlyCoolTim:I also find the backlash against anti-rape advice for women as "blaming the victim" odd and problematic.

To quote the late (to Metafilter), much lamented occhiblu, asking that in these threads about rape, why don't commenters

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

how most women must conduct themselves all the fucking time, bears repeating. Really, we get this "have a someone walk you to your car, carry mace, don't get drunk unless you want to automatically give up your right to have consent, don't wear revealing clothes, blah blah blah" drilled into us from before puberty and reiterated in media stories and in every Metafilter thread about rape. We live and breathe this. Picking passwords and locking car doors are in no way comparable.

We appreciate and thank God for men who already are aware and confident enough to tell their less progressive buddies who tell rape jokes or making other demeaning remarks re women, "Cut that shit out" or "Don't be a dick." We want to encourage your behaviour to become the norm. If you think it's already the norm, then yes, your circles are wonderful. I'm not clear on why you would think they're typical.

I haven't yet read the specific links posted, so my next observation may not follow from the specifics that some object to, but I think the general principle of publicizing the existence of sites and programs geared towards encouraging more men, as many as possible in fact, to speak up when they witness buddies' or relatives' derogatory remarks instead of staying silent, would be helpful in setting healthy norms.

I'm not clear on why programs directed at a certain demographic (college age men) automatically insults and patronizes the men in that demographic who already behave responsibly and with consideration and maturity. Wouldn't such men figure that other men in their demographic have different, perhaps less mature outlooks, and therefore having to sit through such a program is a relatively small price to pay for the greater good that could result from bringing these topics (and giving those topics the weight they deserve) to their peers' attention? (assuming that such a program was well-conceived and executed, of course, since I get that those some of you have sat through were not)
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:43 PM on November 11, 2008 [11 favorites]


Wouldn't such men figure that other men in their demographic have different, perhaps less mature outlooks, and therefore having to sit through such a program is a relatively small price to pay for the greater good

Your question assumes several things are so well defined as to be unquestionable ...

* demographic
* less mature
* relatively small price
* greater good

... which they're not.

Putting on the Silly Hat (tm) to illustrate a point ...

I think some women are way too focused on shopping. Shop, shop, shop, shop. I'm starting a program where I point out to women how hurtful it is that they shop so much and encourage them to stop shopping. I think it's important for YOU to attend. Oh, I'm not saying that YOU are a bad shopper! Oh, heavens no. I wouldn't dare castigate someone like YOU. But you ARE, after all, a WOMAN! It's been PROVEN that MANY women have this problem! You MIGHT be one of these hurtful shopping addicts and simply not know it! Or you might KNOW SOMEONE that is!

So, how do you feel now? Maybe a little ... hmm ... insulted? Patronized? Put upon?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:54 PM on November 11, 2008 [7 favorites]


Is this like trying to help bank robbers not rob banks? Shouldn't we be focused on improving bank security, cash handling, etc?
posted by ewkpates at 12:56 PM on November 11, 2008


DaDaDaDave writes "2. To all the guys who've had to sit through boring lectures, who feel accused of being potential rapists, who don't like it when women react defensively or distrustfully in public...yes, things like that can be annoying. I've had to sit through preachy employee-training videos on sexual harassment, and of course I spent the whole time feeling bored and vaguely insulted. But you know what? To hell with me. Maybe that irritating video prevented a few "

Yeah, if the anti-rape seminar were all I had to sit through, maybe I'd agree.

But we've become so "safety-conscious" as a society that we're daily subjected to this kind of stuff. Public service announcmets. Anti-drug ads on TV. Anti-drinking ads. Anti-drink-driving ads.

Driving down the highway I see signs telling m to wear my seatbelt, that I'm entering an extra fine zone, a "gun-free" zone, a "drug-free school zone", a "free-speech zone".

Every time I go into the grocery or the 7-11 or the CVS to buy cigarettes or beer, despite being pretty obviously over 21, I have to show ID or recite my birthdate to make sure we're protecting the children.

When I watch The Sopranos on A&E Cable TV, the f-word is bleeped out for the convenience of parents who let little Johnny watch gangland killings but fear he'll be warped if he hears vulgar language.

And the pre-employment drug tests, and the sexual harassment policies, and oh god going to the airport or a Federal building, bend over, and the bullshit bullshit bullshit.

Every time I turn around, some busy-body for the good of the chil-drun wants to moralize at me, lecture at me, or treat me like a regretably as-yet unconvicted but clearly guilty criminal. God forbid as a male my age I get anywhere near a kid.

And eventually this shit begins to sap you, makes life a bit grayer and uglier, and the whole world more suspicious and unfriendly.

Rape's a terrible thing, and my heart goes out to anyone living in fear of it, but yet more sanctimonious preaching by self-appointed apostles of guilt (which as other have pointed out, will only be listened to by those least likely to rape) is not the answer.
posted by orthogonality at 12:57 PM on November 11, 2008 [13 favorites]



We appreciate and thank God for men who already are aware and confident enough to tell their less progressive buddies who tell rape jokes or making other demeaning remarks re women, "Cut that shit out" or "Don't be a dick."

Look. This is ridiculous. First of all you have to buy the premise that telling "rape" jokes and demeaning remarks collectively lead to the action of rape. To me that's like saying playing violent video games lead to Columbine. It's a tenuous connection at best.

Again I know what my line is. I will call out my friends when they cross it. But it's not all rape jokes or even close to all demeaning remarks about women. It's subjective as hell.

Going in that direction is not going to win you any friends or converts and you have precious little evidence it will even impact the issue like you hope. So it becomes IDEOLOGICAL. I don't want to be your thought police and you should not ask me to be.

Like somebody said above "promoting the idea of enthusiastic consent" and empathy training is gonna gain you much more ground than asking men to police the "sexist" attitudes of every man they know.
posted by tkchrist at 12:57 PM on November 11, 2008


I think the general principle of publicizing the existence of sites and programs geared towards encouraging more men, as many as possible in fact, to speak up when they witness buddies' or relatives' derogatory remarks instead of staying silent, would be helpful in setting healthy norms.

Looking at this from the perspective of what would be most effective in lowering the number of rapes, I think the focus of this sort of effort can be a bit wide.

I mean, telling someone to speak up whenever they see anything sexist or derogatory towards women is a big, big order. I'm an ardent feminist, and even *I* get tired thinking about that. Again, I think this is a case where the intent is really good, but the execution is a bit botched; I think it's a much more tractable problem when you bring it down to the level of how your communication with your peers can reinforce attitudes that make rape more or less likely. I think it's more effect to do a peer-education or anti-rape training for college freshman that says, "Hey, if your buddy makes a joke about how 'no' actually means 'more beer', you should recognize that's a really fucked up attitude that pretty much condones rape, and your silence--or worse, laughter--at it will make him think that it's an attitude you agree with."

But even more than that, I really wish we could have decent sex-ed in this country that talked about negotiation during sexual encounters, how to set boundaries, how to ask for consent, how to talk about birth control, and so on. I mean, we can't even talk about the existence of condoms, so I know I'm shooting for the moon, but I think one real element of this problem is that our (both men and women, really) scripts for sexual encounters can be a bit lacking in imagination, because all we know as we start in high school or college--unless you're spying on your neighbors or something--is what we see on television, in movies, or in porn, and those aren't always the healthiest models to emulate. I think having honest education sessions about THAT, rather than just "call out your friends for making sexist jokes" would go a lot further in preventing sexually inappropriate crap (including but not limited to rape).
posted by iminurmefi at 1:04 PM on November 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


tkchrist: I'm not Thought Cop

That's certainly not what I'm arguing for. I agree the programs you cite sound problematic. Certainly there's a colossal difference between derogatory/dehumanizing porn/fantasies/behaviour/speech, and BDSM fantasies/behaviour/remarks that may look similar to the former, but aren't, because it's between consenting adults who've laid down clear boundaries. A lot of guys know and respect the difference.

I'm arguing for increasing their numbers. One way to do that is for such guys to say something when buddies say damaging kinds of shit, same as "Hey, don't say "nigger/wop/kike around me, okay?" Another way is for guys to start talking about these grey areas of consent. (Probably family members, since I get that it's talking about this topic just isn't done among buddies.)
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 1:08 PM on November 11, 2008


I've heard it said that men who disproportionately enjoy citrus in their daily diets are much more likely to commit rape.
posted by xmutex at 1:08 PM on November 11, 2008


So defensive, boys!

That's disgusting.

Perhaps you should say that in the thread next time we're discussing the class called "Blacks can stop crime in the inner city" or "Hispanics can prevent being profiled by cops if they weren't so troublesome."
posted by chimaera at 1:08 PM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


A while back PBS aired a series called "Auschwitz: Inside The Nazi State" in which Linda Ellerbee asked the head of the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, What should the young people of today, and future generations take away from the Holocaust?

I don't remember the man's name, but what he said has been burned into my brain; he said:

DON'T BE A VICTIM;
DON'T BE A PERPETRATOR, AND
DON'T BE A BYSTANDER.
posted by Restless Day at 1:12 PM on November 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


unless you're spying on your neighbors or something--is what we see on television, in movies, or in porn, and those aren't always the healthiest models to emulate.

I was a paper delivery boy. Though I held out hope, I never once had a lady offer to pay with something special (cue BWATCHAKA-WANG guitar). Unfortunately.


I think having honest education sessions about THAT, rather than just "call out your friends for making sexist jokes" would go a lot further in preventing sexually inappropriate crap (including but not limited to rape).


BINGO!

We need to demystify how the genders view sex entirely.
posted by tkchrist at 1:12 PM on November 11, 2008


Anti-rape activists need to figure out how to make jokes, threats, and drunken discussions regarding sexual violence uncool, and a lot of anti-rape activists come from the feminist movement, which is regarded as supremely uncool to many men. It's like having nerds leading a movement against bullying.


Here's the kind of win-win highly-sexist deal that feminists might be too uncool to figure out:

Guys: You actively police fellow guys pertaining to aggressive attitudes regarding women, sex, promiscuity, respect, and boundaries, thus changing the culture of the meat market. And for as long as you can keep this going, then as a result:

Girls: You use the safer environment the guys are enforcing, to dress hawter, turn more heads, and feel freer to have great sex with way more guys because it has become safer for you to do so.

More guys get sex. Fewer women get rape.


(Of course, it seems that this kind of deal is already effectively happening in some scenes that have a sufficiently regular crowd and strong enough sense of identity or community)
posted by -harlequin- at 1:13 PM on November 11, 2008


This thread is really going downhill fast; Jeebus.

Thank you to the few who are getting it.

I'll just stick to this:

The best we can do is individually behave respectably, which most of us do; but to repeatedly see the idea that masculinity or maleness is somehow inferior because most rapists are men is not really helpful.

Masculinity /= maleness. Masculinity, like femininity, is a set of cultural behaviors; in our culture (all cultures, actually), those behaviors have been colored by hatred of women and a willingness to use violence. But you can be male without them, and women can "adopt" them and be violent, and "masculine" too--they are not intrinsic or unalterable.

"Behaving respectably" is a start. "Taking the problem seriously, because it is a source of serious oppression for the half the human race" would be better. What form your activism takes is up to you; but for God's sake, try to think about how it sounds when idiots like the one above compared anti-rape seminars to anti-shopping seminars, and how...odd...it is that so many men feel so defensive when they haven't been accused of anything.

And you haven't, guys. You didn't create this situation, no one is saying you did. But you still have to deal with it, and realize that not dealing with it does equal helping to perpetuate it. It affects your moms, sisters, friends, wives and daughters. So yes, it is your responsibility to care.
posted by emjaybee at 1:14 PM on November 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


emjaybee: I've been attacked, I've been followed [...] But if you were my guy friend, you wouldn't know any of that, because why would I bring it up? You and I, we talk about your love life, or sports, or pop culture, or politics. You don't even know, have not the foggiest idea, of the world I walk around in every day. You don't know what it was like to realize, at 11 years old, that you are a walking target.

Are you really suggesting that men don't see the other side of violence?

I (and many others) could offer up our own experiences to the contrary, but why personalize this? The DOJ stats (incidence of violent crime by gender of victim, 1973-2005) should tell you that such assumptions aren't fair in the least.
posted by kid ichorous at 1:18 PM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


One way to do that is for such guys to say something when buddies say damaging kinds of shit

Okay. I know what I think is damaging. But I don't know what that is for you.

I'd think you'd agree that on Metafilter with 70K plus members we will reach absolutely no consensus as what that is, either.

And that's the problem with a program that assumes this consensus exists anywhere. Asking men to police their buddies "attitudes" will sew confusion unless we can narrow down down what we mean by the "right" attitude first. The wrong attitude is going to be more about context.

That's why I think the enthusiastic consent thing and empathy training is way more productive in the long run.
posted by tkchrist at 1:19 PM on November 11, 2008


Actually, agregoli, I have been called a "rapist."

You haven't been called one in this thread so fail to see why what you experienced in that vein is relevant to this discussion. It frankly comes off as shiny sparkly tears that you've experienced incorrect labeling - the issues at stake here are a little bit more serious than your wounded feelings at the actions of a few.
posted by agregoli at 1:23 PM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I really wish we could have decent sex-ed in this country that talked about negotiation during sexual encounters, how to set boundaries, how to ask for consent, how to talk about birth control . . . I think having honest education sessions about THAT, rather than just "call out your friends for making sexist jokes" would go a lot further in preventing sexually inappropriate crap (including but not limited to rape).

god, yes. I was just focusing on "here's what guys personally can do besides telling women to walk with someone at night" because of the frame of the previous thread I linked. Of course multiple approaches to multiple demographics are necessary. Always placing the onus on individual women to be more careful nullifies any concept of how we as male female or trans members of a community can contribute in our personal and collective lives to reducing the problem.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 1:23 PM on November 11, 2008


emjaybee not every critic in this thread has been by people not "getting it" (The dipshit with the shopping analogy you mentioned aside).

That is rather condescending in it self to assume we don't get it. We get it. Some of us don't agree with some of the premise is all. If you want to have a conversation you have to actually LISTEN. Okay.

Some of us are very apprehensive about being deputized as thought police to our peers with a very subjective set of rules. And I think that is valid and honest.
posted by tkchrist at 1:24 PM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Do you folks really live in such a stark black and white world where any "disparaging" comment uttered within a group regarding a woman is met with a strident and righteous rebuff and a reminder of proper attitudes? I feel badly for you. You must live in a shiny pious world of utter respect where right and wrong is so clearly delineated at every moment, without even the slightest bit of time for nuance or subtlety or plain old context.
posted by xmutex at 1:25 PM on November 11, 2008


If you were subjected to some neanderthal's self-righteous sermon, or if you got unfairly yelled at by demonstrators, I feel for you, but to use that experience as an argument against the idea of anti-rape education and activism is LAME.

Ahhh. Yes. Exactly.
posted by agregoli at 1:26 PM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


You must live in a shiny pious world of utter respect where right and wrong is so clearly delineated at every moment, without even the slightest bit of time for nuance or subtlety or plain old context.

Well. I suppose that has been my point.
posted by tkchrist at 1:27 PM on November 11, 2008


Yeah, Kid C...those are the only two options, alright.

My point was that the socially acceptable options (and a lot of the socially unacceptable ones) are pretty much ineffective. So, yeah, in a way they are the only two options.

In my experience, if you confront a guy like that (and I mean verbally, without suggestion of violence) you can pretty much count on him "standing up to you" which either means he will ratchet his behaviors down, or move straight to fist fight without passing Go. That I've met women who would be turned on by a guy getting into a fight over his crappy treatment of her is just a disturbing icing on an already disgusting cake.

And when the cops show up, I'm willing to bet that the person who leaves in the back of the squad car is the big guy (me, about 97% of the time) who went out of his way to confront the little guy.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:28 PM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


agregoli, it's illustrative of an attitude which extends beyond the incident. Do you think it was just an accident that a well-attended protest/rally on this topic produced shouted epithets aimed at an uninvolved passerby?
posted by sonic meat machine at 1:30 PM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm getting the sense that a lot of commenters here are probably not in the kinds of social circles where programs like this are effective. Maybe your friends are relatively enlightened about this kind of stuff? No wonder you see it as a waste of time.

But I was in a fraternity with a toxic misogynist culture, and I know first-hand that programs like this help significantly. It really does start with the seemingly-harmless, un-P.C. jokes. Then it becomes a competition where the next guy has to say or do something more outrageous (often when drunk). At some point it crosses the line from joking into actual bad attitudes about women, I'm not sure how this voodoo happens but it does. I'm sure sociologists can tell you more. The idiotic slogans which might have been ironic at first ("bros before hos" predictably) but end up being taken seriously. When the jokes are ever-present, maybe they take on a certain kind of consensus truth in peoples' minds. Really a good deal of this culture can be changed by saying hey, those jokes are not okay, those slogans and attitudes are not okay. Hearing it from one of your peers is a fundamental way of changing the culture, and consequently, the actions implicitly or explicitly endorsed by that culture. There were a few in this fraternity who were willing to step up and take that initiative, and I can't tell you how much it improved attitudes.

If my college experience is any indication, these programs should absolutely be mandatory. And I can live with a little condescension about male culture.
posted by naju at 1:31 PM on November 11, 2008 [15 favorites]


tkchrist, I think you're approaching this from kind of a weird angle. I mean, obviously the entire point of these groups is to change attitudes--so I think it's a bit off the mark to criticize them for encouraging other guys to speak up just because there's "no consensus."

Consensus is reached by exactly this sort of educational outreach (or proselytism, if you prefer; I have no problem with people trying to "brainwash" people who might rape someone to not do it). Sure, someone might overreach and tell you that a joke is sexist when you think it's really not, but I'm unclear about how that's a net negative. After all, talking about or even arguing about this stuff is a hell of a lot more likely to change minds than never saying anything at all, because we have to wait until everyone agrees.

I don't see enthusiastic consent and rolling your eyes at rape jokes as mutually exclusive. (I have two older brothers who have a really edgy-to-the-point-of-raunchy sense of humor, though, so I guess I see it as not that big of a deal to respond to a thinly-veiled rape joke with "yeah, I guess the only way you will ever have sex is by raping someone--WTF, dude?") I think they're maybe appropriate in different venues, but the strategies can feed off each other--the more people start to really believe that it's fucked up to have sex with anyone who isn't clamoring for sex with you, the less funny (and more pathetic) jokes about raping someone seem.
posted by iminurmefi at 1:33 PM on November 11, 2008


Here's where I think some of us are living in alternative realities. I spend much of my time in predominantly male spaces, with both educated well-off men and uneducated poor men; the ages range from maybe 18 up to about 70.

Never, ever, ever do I hear rape jokes (with the exception of prison rape jokes), cracks about pressuring women into sex, or violently abusing women. It's not like these are PC spaces, either -- the gay/ethnic/and so on jokes fly freely, and there are plenty of sexist jokes, too. But these days, I genuinely just don't hear the kind of comments that people keep referring to as what needs to be corrected.

This doesn't mean that these guys are all angels, either -- I'm sure they are as likely to violate consent as any other similar group of guys you can find. But jokes about it are now pretty thoroughly seen as poor form.

Fifteen years ago, in the heyday of Take Back the Night and the big national arguments about political correctness and Clinton's misbehavior, I can remember hearing a lot more of this stuff at work. But in the intervening years, there's been at least something of a shift in how these things are talked about.

I think that what I am really getting at here is that there is this imagined male culture, where the guys sit around calling each other bro and trading roofie recipes and telling stories about shagging passed out bitches or whatever. But that's an imaginary culture -- the vast majority of men not only don't take part in that kind of homosociality, but have probably never seen it outside of a movie. And so addressing that as a major focus of your anti-rape campaign is going to bomb, because you are then addressing something that is more fictional than real.

Meanwhile, your average guy can shrug off that campaign, or nod and smile virtuously, because that's not what his life looks like. He's not being reached by this kind of campaign, and even less so one that starts off with broad-brush criticisms of masculinity.

If you want to reach him, you need something different. Intuitively, I like the "enthusiastic consent" mentioned above. It applies equally well to women and to men, and is a much better test than "are they kicking and yelling 'no'?" for a good basis to sex. It's not a useful basis for any legal definition of rape, but it's a pretty good way to approach a Saturday night.
posted by Forktine at 1:33 PM on November 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Do you folks really live in such a stark black and white world where any "disparaging" comment uttered within a group regarding a woman is met with a strident and righteous rebuff and a reminder of proper attitudes?

That's so gay.
posted by casarkos at 1:34 PM on November 11, 2008


tkchrist: I know what I think is damaging.

Exactly. Calling out what you think is damaging. I'm not asking anyone to call out what I think is damaging. Apologies if I haven't made that clear. I'm not advocating a universal checklist of sexist remarks to police. I meant to say that one buddy probably knows when another buddy's remark crosses his personal line re sexism or racism or homophobia or [insert prejudice here], and that, same as out-and-out racism has largely gone underground because it's become socially unacceptable, the same thing could happen on a personal level re various forms of overt or subtle sexism. If you'd still consider that "policing," what about, instead of "Cut that shit out, wouldja?" etc, using that kind of line-crossing remark to just talk about your respective attitudes?
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 1:35 PM on November 11, 2008


That's why sociologists performing these studies ask if a person experienced what's defined as rape or sexual assault without putting those words into the questions

A problem with this is that the definition of rape, is intentionally over-broad for good, practical, legal reasons. Under the legal system, it's ok be over-broad because when no-one feels wronged, a prosecution will (normally) not proceed, while at the same time, an unusual situation in which someone has been wronged, can now fall under the law and be prosecuted, due to that over-broadness, where otherwise nothing could be done.

Using the definition of rape to decide whether someone was wronged, is getting it ass-backwards.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:35 PM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


sonic meat machine, you seem to be offended by the painting of groups with stereotypical and prejudicial broad brushes. Me too. So can't you see that it is unhelpful and wrong to paint anti-rape programs as being anti-male because some of them called you a rapist once? In the same way that it is wrong that some would call you a rapist because women have been raped by other men?
posted by grouse at 1:37 PM on November 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Dude, don't declaw your cat. Until you have used his built-in razors to circumcise your son. Whom you might have aborted. Because amniocentesis hinted he had Down's.

All we need is a link to the Biting Beaver checklist (and an href to her since-deleted blog posts) and we'll pretty much have hit every hot button issue around.
posted by adipocere at 1:37 PM on November 11, 2008


tkchrist, I missed your comment where you said you do call out people, and "It's subjective as all hell," so I don't think we're disagreeing on this point. I thought I said "rape jokes or demeaning remarks or whatever," meaning the "whatever" to encompass the subjectivity of remarks-deserving-callout. I could have been clearer.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 1:40 PM on November 11, 2008


Personally I think there are two valid but very different kinds of discussions that these organizations are trying to promote at the same time:

What constitutes rape? Is X situation rape? How can you prevent yourself from doing something that can legally be considered rape? How can you help directly prevent people from committing rape?

versus

What effect do negative comments on women have on our culture? What role does your concept of male masculinity have on your actions? Are men with certain cultural attitudes about gender roles more likely to commit crimes against women? How can you change your attitudes about women to be more progressive? How can you promote positive attitudes about women with the people you interact with?

I would argue that the first discussion is much more important and has a lot better chance of creating positive change than the second discussion. Obviously both are related, but the first set of questions are much less divisive than the second, and are backed up by laws and other agreed-upon facts. Men can have legitimate reasons for rejecting the feminist viewpoints in the second discussion, and if both are combined there is a risk that many men will be distracted from the issues that they agree are valid and focus on the more divisive issues. Whenever the goal is to take on a group that you don't agree with and change their minds, the first step is to find the common ground and work from there rather than expect a complete 180 degree change toward your viewpoint.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:42 PM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sure, grouse, except that the one discussed in this post seems a little bit anti-male. :)
posted by sonic meat machine at 1:43 PM on November 11, 2008


To my mind rape, however undeniably sexual in action, is so much more about power and power's friend, violence, than sex per se.

I disagree for the simple reason that if they weren't horny, they wouldn't rape. This is most apparent in the case of acquaintance rape, where the perpetrator sometimes doesn't perceive any power issue. They aren't doing what they're doing in order to exercise power and inflict violence, they're 'just having sex, man'.

I don't mean to be offensive. But we're discussing the perspectives and internal worlds of would-be criminals here, and how to campaign against them in an effective manner, which means not only subscribing to one mental model which is sometimes the wrong match. The guy buying roofies is doing it because he's horny and lacks empathy, not because he's planning on inflicting pain or likes controlling people.

Although you're right that sometimes it's purely about power and violence and 'I showed that fucking bitch'.
Eyewitness: Raped for opposing Mugabe

Changing the subject, Cool Papa Bell's analogy about shopping may be offensive, but we're talking about making the most effective anti-rape program, he wasn't saying that programs directed at a certain demographic (college age men) automatically insults and patronizes the men in that demographic who already behave responsibly and with consideration and maturity, he was trying to point out that some of these programs suck, despite having noble motives. e.g. A male college student is more likely to go to a seminar entitled 'Men Against Rape' compared to a seminar entitled 'You Can Stop Rape'. And he's just going to roll his eyes at a urinal screen that says "You have the power to stop rape in your hands."
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:45 PM on November 11, 2008


agregoli relies to sonic meat machine "You haven't been called [a rapist] in this thread so [I] fail to see why what you experienced in that vein is relevant to this discussion. It frankly comes off as shiny sparkly tears"

Totally out of line agegoli; no one has told, e.g., emjaybee, that her experiences of feeling like a target since she was 11 don't count because they didn't happen in this thread. And no one should tell dismiss her experiences or sonic meat machine's.

Part of having a civil discussion means that while we can disagree with others, we can't be dismissive to them, or demean their genuine experiences as "shining sparkly tears". Again, totally out of line, and you owe sonic meat machine an apology.
posted by orthogonality at 1:50 PM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sure, there's shy nerdy guys out there. I'm sure a lot of them don't mean any harm to women. Then again, you have articles on slashdot with "cute" taglines like this (title: "Ballmer 'Interested' in Open Source" ... "from the ted-bundy-was-interested-in-women dept"). I'm fairly certain a shy nerdy guy wrote that.

Casual misogyny is fairly widespread in Western society. There is no viable direct way to solve the problem, as I'm sure nobody sets out to become a rapist. I mean, our Direct Action choices on either extreme are biblical anarchy, where the mentally ill get clubbed to death, or A Clockwork Orange, where Orwellian re-education is an option. I think the middle road of universal sex education is a good option, but silly campus tours are a weak substitute.

Prison rape is WAY different, though. That's a function (among long term cons and lifers) of poverty plus mental illness multiplied by overpopulation raised to the power of piss-poor theory. Prison rape is what happens when you put the poor and the mentally ill together in record numbers, disenfranchised them, fostered a sense of ostracism, abused them and left them to rot, without a way to establish dominance. It's, like, the nightmare opposite of special ed. Well, that and recidivism because of the impossibility of reintegration.

As far as directly preventing rape by mentally ill individuals or frat boys, I've been the knight in shining armor who's taken a few punches and a lot of verbal abuse after interrupting sidewalk stalking and stepping up to guys in a bar. There's no sense of satisfaction, aside from hearing "thank you" or getting a free drink. The fact that rapists exist doesn't shock me; rather, it's how everyone else was turning away or walking faster instead of doing what I did.
posted by electronslave at 1:53 PM on November 11, 2008


naju: I'm getting the sense that a lot of commenters here are probably not in the kinds of social circles where programs like this are effective. Maybe your friends are relatively enlightened about this kind of stuff? No wonder you see it as a waste of time.
Well... yeah, as I and others have said repeatedly. The circles I travel in don't have these type of people, or if they do they fly pretty far under the radar. If I witnessed my best friend attempting rape at a party, I'd stop him, and even testify against him if called. For the most part, coming to Metafilter and saying "GUYS, YOU SHOULDN'T RAPE WOMEN" is preaching to the choir, and it's insulting.

I suppose posters like emjaybee, with her hellish existence of unending, Judith-Light-meets-Meredith-Baxter-Birney Lifetime Movie of the Week paranoia (granted, I'd like to hear her opinions of just how unsafe she feels, after perusing the stories at www.spr.org) thinks we JUST. CAN'T. UNDERSTAND!!! As if men have never known fear, or understood that there are places less safe, or how to see trouble brewing and get out of the way fast.

Forktine expresses it well; this culture sounds hollow to our ears, and that may be because it basically doesn't exist. Campaigns to combat it are like campaigns to combat razor blades in Hallowe'en candy.


The guys posting on this thread agree with you, but think we have as much chance of "stopping rape" as we do of "stopping terrorism" or "stopping human trafficking". We can condemn it, we can politically support some attempts to stop it that we feel are appropriate and measured and fair, and we can attempt to intervene or contact the appropriate authorities when an egregious case appears that is personal... but what else besides that? Go door-to-door like Jehovah's Witnesses, talking about rape? Ultimately, if a women feels she has been raped, she shouldn't post on the internet, stewing that the whole world isn't filled with mind readers who can understand how it is to be her, to be afraid... she should get to a hospital, contact the police, get a rape kit, and file formal charges. If there are all these rapists out there, they are repeat offenders because apparently their other victims decided it was... better... to... do... nothing.

And if they feel that way about the crime that happened to them, what the fuck am I supposed to do? If I got mugged, I wouldn't mope about it, I'd file a fucking report with the police and then keep following up until there was some resolution. And maybe doing that would make me feel the world was a little safer because of me.

And while the women -> shopping analogy was decried for attempting to express that "this isn't just a men = insensitive clods issue", I suppose I should point out:posted by hincandenza at 1:54 PM on November 11, 2008


Grouse, I think the burden of helpfulness is on the side of the folks who are interested in changing hearts and minds. This sounds snappish, but it isn't. If you have an agenda to alter the perceptions and behaviors of others, please do not think you are so terribly right that it is the duty of everyone exposed to your agenda to swallow whatever they are spoonfed without delay or thought, rational or otherwise.

The expectation that sonic meat machine, who was called a rapist by his reports, would not perhaps have a residual amount of hesitation in accepting a message from what would be perceived as allied forces will be met with your disappointment. Apply that on a larger scale. Do not seek to dismiss what would be a fairly memorable and none-too-pleasant experience for him. That sort of event leaves a bad taste in one's mouth once the adrenaline and fear wear off. Seriously, after reading this paragraph, close your eyes and imagine being surrounded by a crowd of angry, sweaty people ... faces flushed, fingers pointing, shouting and accusing you of something terrible. You know people mob up and get a little crazy. You were just walking there. Should you run? Would they chase you if you did?

What that means in practice is that you should police your nutbags. If you have fringe elements within your movement whose radical stance could conceivably damage acceptance by your target audience, ignoring (or worse yet, supporting) said elements will not help you gain converts. In this particular case, if you want to actualize the results you seek, publicly distance yourself from those who would associate your gentle message with a more hateful one. Countermand their statements. Apologize to the wounded, even if you think their wounds are trivial.

If you can't do that, it isn't that you don't deserve to succeed, it's that you've failed to understand human nature enough to reach your goal.
posted by adipocere at 1:55 PM on November 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


What that means in practice is that you should police your nutbags. If you have fringe elements within your movement whose radical stance could conceivably damage acceptance by your target audience, ignoring (or worse yet, supporting) said elements will not help you gain converts. In this particular case, if you want to actualize the results you seek, publicly distance yourself from those who would associate your gentle message with a more hateful one. Countermand their statements. Apologize to the wounded, even if you think their wounds are trivial.

Hey, it's not my movement, but what the hell. I am sorry that a group of angry people called sonic meat machine a rapist with no provocation beyond their own sexist attitudes. It was wrong.
posted by grouse at 1:59 PM on November 11, 2008


But grouse, don't you have a personal responsibility to change the attitudes of those angry people? It's not enough to not do those things yourself, and to intervene or speak out when you're directly involved. You have in your mouth the power to stop sexist attitudes. Please attend my seminar!
posted by hincandenza at 2:01 PM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


But grouse, don't you have a personal responsibility to change the attitudes of those angry people?

Actually, no.
posted by grouse at 2:04 PM on November 11, 2008


How can you prevent yourself from doing something that can legally be considered rape?

Perhaps a bit far afield, but I really wish we could separate out non-consensual sexual encounters as a moral and ethical issue from the legal issue, at least in discussions about what sorts of sexual behavior we should be encouraging people to live up to.

The best way I've ever seen this framed is that sexual consent lies along an axis, with zero consent on one end (dragging a woman into an alley while she screams no) to absolute 100% consent on the other (enthusiastic consent). The law needs to basically draw a bright line somewhere and say, everything to right of here is illegal and can be prosecuted, so don't do it. That doesn't mean that a couple of millimeters to the left is the place we should be teaching guys to live; we should be encouraging everyone to end up on the enthusiastic consent pole.

It's a really common trap when we talk about this stuff (and I'm wincing here as I recall the real flamewars my college community got into during these discussions) for arguments to start over where, exactly, the line should be drawn to determine legality. I'm probably betraying my ideological leanings here, but I think it's much more likely that people's attitudes push changes in the law, rather than changes in the law changing attitudes. When we argue about what, exactly, the legal definition of "rape" is, I think we don't do much good and cause a lot of frustration. I think educating guys about where, exactly, the line is that they can toe and not get thrown in jail is pretty much the worst way to approach this. (My college actually took this approach one year for the freshman anti-rape training, and it predictably went over like a lead balloon.)
posted by iminurmefi at 2:05 PM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


iminurmefi I don't recall the last time I heard a rape joke. If in fact I ever have. And I have perhaps the raunchiest set of friends one could imagine. Some of them being professional fighters and all.

Though I did here a funny Child Molester joke on NPR the other day. I did not feel the need to call them and yell at them. On NPR.

I have known a rapist. I knew a guy that had raped maybe four women. That he eventually admitted to. He was extremely conservative in terms of social politics and sexuality. And he was honestly a "nice guy." But he seethed beneath the surface.

His attitudes about women were clearly fucked up and always extremely angry - but than anger always went inwards as far we could see. His family life and relationships almost made his eventual behavior 100% predictable. Abusive violent father. Insane abusive mother. Criminally violent brothers.

I never heard him tell a rape joke. I did hear him say he felt women were stupid and only wanted to hurt him.

Look you guys. Cultural attitudes certainly matter. But like the canard about video games leading to violent behavior, sexist jokes don't lead to anything or imply anything intrinsic about a person. In fact they may do the opposite.

If speech modifies behavior of a society so strongly then then we had better be consistent. No war war toys. No more porn. No more violent movies PERIOD. Or is it the other way around. Is speech merely a manifestation of something already there? I don't know.

I do know what offends me. And I don't mind politely telling people when they cross a line. But the contest is so subjective my natural reaction, like most people, is resist being told what I should be offended by.

I think there are a whole lot of other things we can concentrate our energies on here.
posted by tkchrist at 2:07 PM on November 11, 2008


I think I'm going to move to a tiny island off the coast of Scotland.

Who's with me?

That's a trick question. There's no one with me! That's the point.
posted by sonic meat machine at 2:09 PM on November 11, 2008




I think some women are way too focused on shopping. Shop, shop, shop, shop. I'm starting a program where I point out to women how hurtful it is that they shop so much and encourage them to stop shopping. . . .

So, how do you feel now? Maybe a little ... hmm ... insulted? Patronized? Put upon?


Actually I know several people (male and female) who buy things compulsively to the extent of courting bankruptcy, ruining their marriages, etc. I wouldn't take my mandated participation in such a program personally (if I were in a relevant demographic, and given a reasonable time commitment), because I've witnessed the damage that happens when that behaviour is unquestioned and the individual thinks it's normal behaviour or contradicts me that it could possibly be abnormal or harmful. So no, I wouldn't feel insulted or patronized. I get that you and others feel differently.

Are such programs a cure-all? Of course not, especially when ineffectively conceptualized or executed. "Enthusiastic consent" really should become common currency in any of these discussions.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 2:10 PM on November 11, 2008


The guy buying roofies is doing it because he's horny and lacks empathy, not because he's planning on inflicting pain or likes controlling people.

You would be totally wrong in most cases of roofies. That particular example is ALL about control.

The guy with the roofies, if he was just horny, could hire a prostitute. His horniness is most VALID when he is in control of an unconscious person that he rendered helpless. That IS his idea of sex.

Some of you guys should sit and talk with my brother who deals with these violent sexual offenders every day.
posted by tkchrist at 2:13 PM on November 11, 2008


You must live in a shiny pious world of utter respect where right and wrong is so clearly delineated at every moment, without even the slightest bit of time for nuance or subtlety or plain old context.

Uh, yeah, its because we live in a nuanced and subtle world that we need to draw "lines". A "line" need not be an immutable thing. What you are talking about as a line is really the barrier between being passive and being active. Its what divides perception from behavior. Its part of your life, all the time, in any social situation, whether you are one of the annoying shiny and pious people or one of the wonderful nuanced and subtle people. Whether the decision to act is triggered by a word or phrase or some more holistic assessment of a situation. You get the point.

So to go after the notion that such a workshop is easy or obvious, that it can make your "correct course of action" out to be black-and-white obvious, that's a criticism of the teacher, the teaching method. Its not a criticism of the need for education. To emphasize that is copping out on the discussion. So lets say those of us encouraging this kind of education grant you critics that the workshop curriculum may be suboptimal... then will you grant us that it should be improved rather than eliminated?

Moreover, and this is a nod to tkchrist, I don't get why training people to anticipate situations in which they should intervene verbally is any different than training people to anticipate situations in which they should intervene physically. We train because if we don't when the moment comes and we are unprepared we end up regretting it. Whether verbal or physical, that line will always be different for everyone but that does not defeat the utility of training. That's just a difference between good training and bad - good training is personalized.

A point we can agree on, perhaps: Your penis is not the ONLY tool available to you if you are a man who wants to work to end sexual violence against women.
posted by mano at 2:16 PM on November 11, 2008


we should be encouraging everyone to end up on the enthusiastic consent pole

Um.

Too soon?
posted by tkchrist at 2:16 PM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


(Laughs at hincandenza)

The sad part is, my life, is pretty good and my experiences fairly mild. I've heard much worse from other women; and after all, I don't live in Darfur, or Kosovo during the 90s, or Korea during WWII, or any number of places where rape was a weapon of genocide or war. Lucky for me, I guess, though the clear lesson still seems to be that it's pretty damn dangerous to be a woman in most places. Men are assaulted too, but usually not as much outside of special situations. And...they're assaulted by, you know, other men.

Nice blog post here about the odd ways that reporting on rape almost never seems to mention the rapists: Dear Ladies: Please Stop Getting Yourselves Raped.
posted by emjaybee at 2:18 PM on November 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Fifteen years ago, in the heyday of Take Back the Night and the big national arguments about political correctness and Clinton's misbehavior, I can remember hearing a lot more of this stuff at work. But in the intervening years, there's been at least something of a shift in how these things are talked about.

I think that what I am really getting at here is that there is this imagined male culture, where the guys sit around calling each other bro and trading roofie recipes and telling stories about shagging passed out bitches or whatever. But that's an imaginary culture -- the vast majority of men not only don't take part in that kind of homosociality, but have probably never seen it outside of a movie.


There is a pretty clear connection between those statements.

I think that's what the people who make these programs are trying to achieve. This culture that people talk about isn't imaginary, if less prominent than it was before people started talking about it. It is real. But it is changing. And helping to do that is good for everyone.
posted by winna at 2:19 PM on November 11, 2008


Okay, so, I followed much of the first half of this thread, so I don't know what else has transpired, but I really don't understand the sentiment against programs such as this. Anyway, I have a story to tell ...

I had an old friend, very liberally minded, self-proclaimed pro-feminism type, who was very physical with all of his friends -- noticeably moreso with his female friends. After our great falling out, a number of his female friends, particularly those in whom he was romantically interested, got in touch with me, telling me of their reasons for no longer hanging out with this old friend of mine, which was invariably that they felt the physical contact became inappropriate, crossing the line to sexual assault.

Years later, I regained contact with this friend, and he gave me a different account of the situations, explaining that these women just started "acting crazy" and accusing him of all sorts of things. When I brought up what they had told me, it was dismissed as "yeah, see what I mean?" Now, this is someone who, although I'd think he should know better, is not aware that he has sexually assaulted anyone and is so appalled by acts of rape and sexual assault that he cannot, even ten years later, entertain the notion that he could possibly have sexually assaulted someone else.

There are circumstances in which people are just not considering the other person involved, as I'm sure is frequently the case when people are verbally coerced into sex. Better education on the subtler and grayer areas of sexual misconduct would certainly have a positive impact on this sort of situation.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 2:20 PM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I like the idea of enthusiastic consent in theory, but it has a long way to go in practice. Probably the most blatant counterexample I can produce from experience was a nice gal I dated. We would make out at the end of the night, proceed to the usual petting, then she'd do the push-off when I got too close. And that would be the end of it for me for that night. Like it's supposed to be, right?

After a few weeks of this, she's getting kind of twitchy and finally comes out to say it: she's exasperated with me because I'm supposed to press the issue. She wants a bit of a wrestle beforehand. It isn't until after she's had a couple of drinks that she admits that she not only likes the struggle, but that she feels like a slut if she doesn't protest and fight a bit. I suppose I sat there, blinking and looking like an idiot while I tried to process the conflict between What I Had Been Taught and brutish reality.

And that's not the only time I ran across that sort of thing I don't think enthusiastic consent stands a chance until people can feel comfortable with being forthright about their sexual interests and timing. And that includes "not feeling like a slut." Until that groundwork is laid, people will continue to misrepresent, rather than being honest and consenting in an enthusiastic manner.
posted by adipocere at 2:28 PM on November 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


sexist jokes don't lead to anything

Maybe for you and your friends, but not for everyone.

Study: Sexist Humor Is No Joke
"We found that men with a high level of sexism were less likely to donate to the women’s organization after reading sexist jokes, but not after reading either sexist statements or neutral jokes," Ford said.

"We found that, upon exposure to sexist humor, men higher in sexism discriminated against women by allocating larger funding cuts to a women’s organization than they did to other organizations," Ford said.

"We also found that, in the presence of sexist humor, participants believed the other participants would approve of the funding cuts to women’s organizations," he said. "We believe this shows that humorous disparagement creates the perception of a shared standard of tolerance of discrimination that may guide behavior when people believe others feel the same way."

Another article: WCU researcher: sexist humor no laughing matter

All links I found to the study, "More Than "Just a Joke": The Prejudice-Releasing Function of Sexist Humor", were behind a paywall but here is the abstract:
The results of two experiments supported the hypothesis that, for sexist men, exposure to sexist humor can promote the behavioral release of prejudice against women. Experiment 1 demonstrated that hostile sexism predicted the amount of money participants were willing to donate to a women's organization after reading sexist jokes but not after reading nonhumorous sexist statements or neutral jokes. Experiment 2 showed that hostile sexism predicted the amount of money participants cut from the budget of a women's organization relative to four other student organizations upon exposure to sexist comedy skits but not neutral comedy skits. A perceived local norm of approval of funding cuts for the women's organization mediated the relationship between hostile sexism and discrimination against the women's organization.

Of course, sexist jokes may not lead to rape, but I don't think you can casually dismiss them either.
posted by nooneyouknow at 2:31 PM on November 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


This thread is pretty awful, so I honestly don't feel bad about my flippant remark above. I'm tired of the victims of rape being held responsible for what happened. Like emmajaybee, I'm tired of needing to be aware of my personal safety at all times, I'm tired of all of the times I've been out at a bar and had to watch my drink because I have friends who have been drugged. I'm tired of my bodily autonomy being up for debate.

Really, sorry, not a lot of sympathy for those of you who react to indignantly about how you personally don't know any rapist, because you do. You know women who've been raped and you know men who have raped. It's just that common.

If it bothers you such much to be identified that way, think about your own attitudes about women and intimacy. Do you think you can keep groping her until she lets you "do stuff" and it's ok? Do you joke around about getting a woman drunk enough to fuck you? Then yeah, you are contributing to the problem and you *should* feel bad about it.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 2:32 PM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


But grouse, don't you have a personal responsibility to change the attitudes of those angry people? It's not enough to not do those things yourself, and to intervene or speak out when you're directly involved. You have in your mouth the power to stop sexist attitudes. Please attend my seminar!

But if men would just use some common sense and choose not to walk near anti-rape rallies, it would go a long way toward stopping innocent men from being called rapists. Sure, ideally men should be able to walk wherever they want without being called names, but come on this is the real world. Obviously, not walking by rallies is less risky than walking by rallies.
posted by lampoil at 2:38 PM on November 11, 2008 [11 favorites]


no one has told, e.g., emjaybee, that her experiences of feeling like a target since she was 11 don't count because they didn't happen in this thread. And no one should tell dismiss her experiences or sonic meat machine's.

Yikes. This false equivalence (like the now-infamous rape/shopping analogy) epitomizes the pettiness of so much of the response here. "I'm sorry you've been subjected to a systematic threat of sexual violence, but can't you see that your angry chants and boring workshops are victimizing me?" Yes, we men are woefully oppressed. Pity us!

If the anti-rape programs we've got are obnoxious and ineffective, then obviously they should be improved. And obviously everyone should take context and circumstances into account when deciding when to speak up, step in, etc. But the basic issue is clear: being raped is a hell of a lot worse than being called a rapist, and if the anti-rape programs are even marginally effective, who cares if they annoy you?
posted by DaDaDaDave at 2:39 PM on November 11, 2008 [6 favorites]


emjaybee: Men are assaulted too, but usually not as much outside of special situations. And...they're assaulted by, you know, other men.

Look, men are violently assaulted with about twice the frequency as women. Are these special situations anything like blaming the victim? After all, if they weren't out to fly gang colors, perhaps they should have reconsidered wearing red.
posted by kid ichorous at 2:45 PM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is an old argument, but I'd just like to point out how it's similarly the responsibility of every white man and woman to personally take it upon themselves to confront and educate anyone propagating or espousing anything even remotely racist, no matter how seemingly benign. This is especially important as white people might not even realize they're exercising unfair power entitlements, since in their minds - "I'm just living my life, man." I don't care if all you white people are annoyed to hear this - it's for the greater good.

Race obviously isn't sex or gender - but the line of reasoning above (and in many comments in this thread) is seriously shady. If you're a women in a position of institutionalized racial or educational or material advantage who expects that kind of work on the part of men w/regard to sexism, and you're not doing that kind of day-to-day heavy lifting with regard to race/religion/sexual orientation/or class - how is your problem a special case, exactly?

And that's generalized for everyone - not just privileged white women. Depending on the sphere, EVERYONE is in positions of more or less power. It's on you to get more, and to not be a jerk about using it once you have it. One more old argument: expecting change or better behavior from those already in power just highlights how little you have.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 2:47 PM on November 11, 2008


NoRelationToLea: This is an old argument, but I'd just like to point out how it's similarly the responsibility of every white man and woman to personally take it upon themselves to confront and educate anyone propagating or espousing anything even remotely racist, no matter how seemingly benign.

Okay. Shall I begin with you?
posted by kid ichorous at 2:51 PM on November 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


And...they're assaulted by, you know, other men.

This is all that I'm going to say about this, but, from personal experience, while much, much less frequent, there are circumstances in which women do sexually assault men.

I'm not at all in any way saying that males assaulting females is not a much, much greater and more expansive issue, nor am I trying to start an argument, just inserting my experiences. Sexual assault can come from anyone to anyone; it is a problem with which we should all be concerned.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 2:58 PM on November 11, 2008


It would be nice if we could have a discussion about sexual assault that doesn't turn into a big "think about the poor menz and their hurt feelings" for once.
posted by jokeefe at 3:04 PM on November 11, 2008 [11 favorites]


Electronslave, I'm not sure how to read you comment on the Steve Blamer / Ted Bundy thing. I think the person was making the point that Microsoft would gleefully bludgeon into a stupor and strangle to death the concept of open source software, given half the chance. It's a little bit Godwin's law-ish, but given the general Slashdot opinion of Microsoft I'm not thinking your original commenter is in any way cool with rape (with or without the bludgeoning and strangulation).
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:04 PM on November 11, 2008


Forktine: there is this imagined male culture, where the guys sit around calling each other bro and trading roofie recipes and telling stories about shagging passed out bitches or whatever. But that's an imaginary culture -- the vast majority of men not only don't take part in that kind of homosociality, but have probably never seen it outside of a movie.

I disagree that it's imaginary. Metafilter after all has strong liberal, informed, middle-class leanings, so disparaging talk re women isn't likely to be common in our circles. Thing is, I hang out on boards populated primarily by left-leaning girls and women of diverse backgrounds, where they talk frankly about personal experiences of rape (incest, stranger, "date"). There are so many, many posts about how they were scared, so they didn't fight as hard as they "should have," or they were happy with kissing and above-the-waist but then he kept going and much much too fast, or they'd drunk too much and passed out so it was their fault the guy fucked them, my god the permutations of "unenthusiastic = yes" are appallingly eye-opening. And so very many new commenters keep popping up to say, "I've been lurking and reading your stories for a long time, and it's given me the courage finally to tell what happened to me..."

I'm getting that these guys aren't in the circles customarily, as far as you know, populated by Mefites. Fine. Wouldn't it be helpful to encourage the discussion of grey areas along with crystal-clear areas, on personal and institutional levels, whether in homosocial male spaces, mixed company, or homosocial female spaces? (my homosocial female spaces talk about this stuff all the time, but I realize that my experience may not be representative.)

I say this understanding that especially among individual men, these topics aren't discussed, full stop. So yeah, here's another way programs like those linked in this post would help: their institutional backing makes an unspeakable topic speakable. It's a start. It needs reworking to be really effective, as several of you have pointed out. So as DaDaDaDave observed, why not focus on that, the need for reworking?

also: yeah, the shopping/rape analogy, while self-acknowledged as "silly," also struck me as petty, but since I do know people for whom compulsive shopping (their own or others') has serious consequences (not nearly as multifaceted as those from rape, of course), I thought I'd answer strictly the question that was posed to me.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:05 PM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


there are circumstances in which women do sexually assault men.

Oh, sweet jesus. I think this thread is kind of beyond hope at this point; I think we've hit every square on the bingo card now.
posted by jokeefe at 3:06 PM on November 11, 2008 [7 favorites]


adipocere: After a few weeks of this, she's getting kind of twitchy and finally comes out to say it: she's exasperated with me because I'm supposed to press the issue. She wants a bit of a wrestle beforehand. It isn't until after she's had a couple of drinks that she admits that she not only likes the struggle, but that she feels like a slut if she doesn't protest and fight a bit. I suppose I sat there, blinking and looking like an idiot while I tried to process the conflict between What I Had Been Taught and brutish reality.

Perhaps its just being an old and cranky veteran of the sex-positive movement, but this is the sort of thing that makes me want to say, "run away, far away."
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:07 PM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


kid ichorous: Okay. Shall I begin with you?

Actually, you can begin by reading what I wrote more closely. From there, you can look up the definition of a rhetorical straw man.

That is, unless you're seriously trying to debate the institutional advantages of either men or white people, in general - in which case - I'm sorry that white men are so oppressed. They (like everyone else) should follow the advice I forwarded in my previous comment and take more power for themselves.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 3:09 PM on November 11, 2008


also: yeah, the shopping/rape analogy, while self-acknowledged as "silly," also struck me as petty, but since I do know people for whom compulsive shopping has serious consequences

If you took the *shopping* aspect of that little story seriously, wow, did you ever miss the point! I mean, wow. Swing and a miss. Strike three doesn't begin to describe it. More like strike eight or something.

I mean ... holy fuck.

Here, go back and re-read the post, but this time, in your mind, replace "shopping" with "widget-nurffeling" or some other imaginary activity. Then come back and tell us how you feel.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:12 PM on November 11, 2008


this time, in your mind, replace "shopping" with "widget-nurffeling" or some other imaginary activity. Then come back and tell us how you feel.

well, because it's imaginary, I wouldn't care. I do care about supporting initiatives to discourage documented, seriously damaging behaviour.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:16 PM on November 11, 2008


see, there's no damage associated with "widget-nurffeling".
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:17 PM on November 11, 2008


I did volunteer work in the early 90s for the UC Davis Rape Prevention Education Program. At the time, there were three men (myself included) and about 30 women. Given the amount of time we had to go around and do education, I'd guess if we tried an all-male venue we'd only have reached 900 men a year maximum. Probably a lot less, as not all the guys lasted the whole year (I certainly became emotionally exhausted quickly). I do wonder what the discussions would have been like though, and I suspect we would have been a lot more effective.

Mostly we focussed on a quick rundown of statistics (with cites), advice on buddying up where alcohol is involved, and a couple of by no means exhaustive scenarios of what constitutes date rape. To this day I don't know if we had any positive effect at all, but I have some fond memories of that time, and I suspect we at least made people think a little.

My motivation for volunteering was the depressing number of women I knew who had been assaulted, raped, or molested as children.

I too find urinals with "you have the power to stop rape in your hands" offensive. However, that doesn't mean there aren't things that men can do to be a little more aware of the activities of their male friends and extended acquaintances at parties, etc...
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:21 PM on November 11, 2008


So I thought I'd listen to some music for a while; I clicked on the AT&T/Yahoo! in-browser Launchcast Radio, and this is what came up.
posted by Restless Day at 3:22 PM on November 11, 2008


see, there's no damage associated with "widget-nurffeling".

Tell that to the widgets.
posted by grouse at 3:29 PM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


It would be nice if we could have a discussion about sexual assault that doesn't turn into a big "think about the poor menz and their hurt feelings" for once.

It would be nice if we could have a discussion about sexual assault that doesn't turn into a big "hurt feelings bingo cards men are assaulted too, but usually not as much outside of special situations blorp blorp i can't understand why this thread isn't more civil"
posted by Snyder at 3:31 PM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I disagree that it's imaginary. Metafilter after all has strong liberal, informed, middle-class leanings, so disparaging talk re women isn't likely to be common in our circles.

That's why I was careful to say that I spend a lot of time with men who are demographically very unlike the average MeFite, and they aren't making rape jokes either. "Disparaging talk" about women, sure, there's plenty of that (sadly), but I was responding to a series of posts where people posited that it is common for men to sit around and joke approvingly about rape and sexual assault. In my anecdotal world, I can report that this is absolutely not the case, even with reasonably sexist guys. I spend very little time in frats, and none at all in the suit-wearing business world, and I have no problem accepting that there are places somewhere where men make these kinds of jokes. Clearly, though, it is less common than some people are making it out to be.

(And like winna notes, there is no doubt a connection between the hard and much maligned work of second- and third-wave feminists over the last two decades, and the lessening of this sort of humor. The male anti-rape programs in the FPP, however, seem to me to be still stuck in the battles and language of the 1980s and 1990s; discourse has changed, and society has changed, and I wish these programs would catch up.)
posted by Forktine at 3:33 PM on November 11, 2008


I think we've hit every square on the bingo card now.

I wasn't trying to make a point, I just get upset by over-generalizations. I've neither trivialized nor argued against the issue that males need more education in the realm of sexual assault. In fact, had you read my comment before that (or even all of that comment), this would be clear, though I am sorry it could be interpreted otherwise. That was not intentional.

Like I said in my comment: personal experience. Sometimes it clouds the judgment as to what will or will not simply make things worse in an internet debacle.

posted by The Great Big Mulp at 3:35 PM on November 11, 2008


"I'm tired of needing to be aware of my personal safety at all times, I'm tired of all of the times I've been out at a bar and had to watch my drink because I have friends who have been drugged."

And men are tired of having to worry about every single woman they meet turning around and claiming they were raped. See? It goes both ways, and then you go on to basically say that we all know a rapist. That's not exactly saying "all men are rapists" but you know, it's pretty darn close.

See the dilemma that we all have? It's no wonder so many guys are petrified with fear about talking to women these days.

Well, y'all didnt' disappoint me. This thread went downhill and into the ditch a hell of a lot faster than I had thought that it would.
posted by drstein at 3:39 PM on November 11, 2008


NoRelationToLea: Actually, you can begin by reading what I wrote more closely. From there, you can look up the definition of a rhetorical straw man.
Sorry, my bad. Can we please canonize a rhetorical straw man font or something?

posted by kid ichorous at 3:42 PM on November 11, 2008


sonic meat machine: In the case of rape by acquaintances, however, people seem less willing to say: "Stay the hell away from drunk guys. Don't get drunk yourself."

Actually, I hear this all the time. It seems to get brought out into just about every discussion of rape. Which is why I'm baffled that the opposite suggestion, "If you want to avoid being accused of sexual misconduct, moderate your drinking and watch what you do with drunk partners" draws so much profound anger and bellyaching.

orthogonality: It seem that you want to have it both ways in this discussion. If it is unreasonable for people to take you to task for the actions of some men, it's unreasonable for you to take rape prevention advocates to task for something said by someone at some protest out there somewhere. If the problem is really the people who say that "all men are (potential) rapists" then perhaps that confrontation should be taken to them rather than here where no one is making that claim.

And personally, I don't feel obligated to consider stupid bellyaching bullshit as anything other than stupid bellyaching bullshit. Take your extended and noxious whine about how talking about sexual ethics makes the world a little bit less colorful. Please. If anything, I want for people to talk more about sex and sexual expectations because they have better sex as a result.

Cool Papa Bell: Your brain went of vacation for 10 minutes and you decided to shit in the punchbowl with an analogy that was so fucking stupid that any reasonable person would have been embarrassed. Man up. Wipe your rhetorical ass. Say your mea culpas and come back with a round of margaritas.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:43 PM on November 11, 2008 [6 favorites]


And men are tired of having to worry about every single woman they meet turning around and claiming they were raped. See? It goes both ways, and then you go on to basically say that we all know a rapist. That's not exactly saying "all men are rapists" but you know, it's pretty darn close.

See the dilemma that we all have? It's no wonder so many guys are petrified with fear about talking to women these days.


To be honest, those highlighted bits are at least as silly as "all men are (potential) rapists," and lack the defense of good intentions. Afraid to talk to women? Are you serious?
posted by Forktine at 3:48 PM on November 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


As an employee at a pharmaceutical company, I have to sit through annual training that tells me that I should not bribe doctors. As a researcher, my interaction with doctors consists of explaining my symptoms, taking deep breaths and leaving a urine specimen on the little shelf. Every year when this training comes around I, and pretty much every one of of my colleagues spend a good chunk of time complaining about that hour we'd like back.

Extrapolating from this, I think it's a safe bet that, if your really were rounded up and forced to sit through anti-widget-nurffeling training, you'd not be real happy about it.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:49 PM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


drstein: And men are tired of having to worry about every single woman they meet turning around and claiming they were raped. See? It goes both ways, and then you go on to basically say that we all know a rapist. That's not exactly saying "all men are rapists" but you know, it's pretty darn close.

Well actually, I do know a rapist. Three actually. One was convicted, the other one the victim declined to press charges, and the third, I didn't press charges but I was 12 at the time.

But come on here, this is a classic example of stupid bellyaching. What exactly is being proposed here? That if you meet someone and hit it off, you should perhaps wait a few hours for the buzz to wear down until you can get unambiguous and enthusiastic consent. That if you don't have enthusiastic consent, that perhaps you should skip home with Rosy Palm instead.

If these suggestions make you petrified to talk to women, then that's your problem.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:52 PM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Woo. This is one of those times when I really really don't want to say anything, but I'm going to. Stand up for myself, if you know what I mean. (You'll see in a minute why...)

Why are so many people here up at arms that there are programs that include men in working to reduce or even eliminate sexual violence?

Sexual violence, isn't about sex. It's about power and control. Even if you're one of the "good ones" and let's face it, you probably are, there are still things you can do to challenge and hopefully eliminate the power differential between men and woman that feeds rape, assault and harassment.

And what you can do specifically to stop rape is anything and everything that encourages gender equity.

The continual disconnect that I see going on even with men who are educated, sensitive, feminist, etc, is an unwillingness to listen to (or maybe just believe) what it is that women say the problems are. There are things you can do, as men, can do.

This is what I've done to stop sexual violence in the last three days:

1) I experienced it. Luckily, my reaction at the time was exactly the opposite of what the guy was likely hoping for. I wasn't particularly bothered (at the time, anyway. later? ugh), and I marched around the side of the car and got his complete license plate number. Scared him away, in fact.
2) I told people what happened. The police, my neighbors, my coworkers, the local crisis response center...y'all, even.
3) I followed up. Went downtown to the police station this morning in fact. Long story short, I spent about two hours chasing misinformation. It turns out that what the guy did was LEGAL just because he was in his car and I didn't see his genitals. It was perfectly legal for that man to intrude on my peaceful Sunday yard work by parking across the street, opening his window, staring at me and masturbating.

You wanna know why I've done all that? Because I can. What happened to me a couple of days ago is "mild" compared to other sexual violence, and I happen to be hanging onto my strength. Others aren't able to. A woman on my neighborhood listserv emailed me back and said something similar had happened to her recently when she was out with her little girl, but that she didn't want to press charges.

So yeah, guys, you can do something. Please do. I guess that's my point.
posted by Stewriffic at 3:59 PM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Kid Charlemagne: Extrapolating from this, I think it's a safe bet that, if your really were rounded up and forced to sit through anti-widget-nurffeling training, you'd not be real happy about it.

But at the same time, there seems to be a heck of a lot of worry and concern out there among men about being in a position where they might be accused of sexual misconduct.

So I mean, look at it this way. When I got a motorcycle, one of the first things I did was sign up for a safety course that was designed to make me a better rider and minimize my risks of a potentially fatal interaction with a car. Sure, I got a discount on my insurance as a result, but more importantly, I got the skills to evaluate situations on the road. It certainly made my life on two wheels a bit less stressful.

I was listening to Dan Savage on a podcast the other day and he said something I think is really relevant. We don't teach sex education. We teach reproductive health. Sex education should be about teaching people how to ethically talk someone into having sex with you.

So here we have education programs that propose to do just that. How to ethically negotiate having sex with a female partner, and how to avoid situations where the ethics and consent might be a little bit sketchy. And it seems that lots of people here are really concerned about having ethical sex.

So what is the big deal. Why the fucking resistance?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:02 PM on November 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


And men are tired of having to worry about every single woman they meet turning around and claiming they were raped. [...] It's no wonder so many guys are petrified with fear about talking to women these days.

You know, it sounds like you could actually find something worth pursuing in the links in the FPP. If you are that worried that you might meet a woman and then have her "turn around and [claim] she was raped", it might be a really good idea to understand what in fact might constitute sexual assault. Then you will be clear on the matter, you will be educated about the whole thing, and you don't have to worry any more! Win for both of you!
posted by jokeefe at 4:07 PM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


On a more serious note, I just wanted to mention that part of the problem is that young women are taught that those of us who happily and enthusiastically consent to sex are "sluts", and will suffer all sorts of social punishment, be called "whores", lose respect from men, etc. In consequence, some women will become conflicted about saying, clearly and unequivocally, "yes". Changes in this attitude might help young people to communicate with each other more carefully and accurately about sex, and about consent, and that goes for both men and women. IMO.
posted by jokeefe at 4:12 PM on November 11, 2008 [10 favorites]


It would be nice if we could have a discussion about sexual assault that doesn't turn into a big "think about the poor menz and their hurt feelings" for once.

Considering this thread is about the effectiveness of anti-rape programs and the first entry has a poster titled:
My Strength Is Not For Hurting
I don't think this will be that discussion.

The poor menz chiming in about their hurt feelings aren't pro-rape, they're just irritated about the subset of anti-rape programs which are asinine rather than effective.
posted by sebastienbailard at 4:18 PM on November 11, 2008


Extrapolating from this, I think it's a safe bet that, if your really were rounded up and forced to sit through anti-widget-nurffeling training, you'd not be real happy about it.

We are not talking about widget-nurfelling and researchers at a pharmaceutical company. We are talking about sexual misconduct (suggesting here that there are some things that are not prosecutable as rape and still ethically wrong) and a population in which a supermajority has sex, has friends and family who has sex, and may very well be in a position to witness sexual misconduct involving total strangers.

sebastienbailard: Well, I'm a bit puzzled. What exactly do you object about an advertisement that suggests that men should back off if a partner is drunk, and implies that doing so might lead to nookie down the road?

The contrary position on this is certainly no straw man. There is a surge in popularity in recent years in a variety of gonzo reality porn spun off of the Girls Gone Wild franchise which does explicitly say that the best way to get a woman good, giving and game is to get her drunk.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:28 PM on November 11, 2008


Extrapolating from this, I think it's a safe bet that, if your really were rounded up and forced to sit through anti-widget-nurffeling training, you'd not be real happy about it.

That assumes that I'd react the way you do. We'll have to agree to disagree on that.

on preview, what KirkJobSluder said.

Forktine, thanks, I was skimming too quickly and missed the context of your remark that I quoted.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:31 PM on November 11, 2008


And throwing in another data point into the mix, some the effective AIDS campaigns outside of the U.S. and Europe have been goofus/galliant-style soap operas that make the case that men who have unprotected sex and sex with prostitutes are engaged in an ethically wrong behavior that harms their families, while men who have sex with a condom and are monogamous are responsible.

The trouble with PSA posters is that if your point requires nuance, its lost. You have (at most) a dozen words.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:42 PM on November 11, 2008


adipocere: After a few weeks of this, she's getting kind of twitchy and finally comes out to say it: she's exasperated with me because I'm supposed to press the issue. She wants a bit of a wrestle beforehand. . . .

yeah, that kind of expected mind-reading is a problem. The dynamic that jokeefe notes might have contributed to that. That's why (quoting KirkJobSluder) sex ed "programs that propose to [teach how to] ethically negotiate having sex with a female partner, and how to avoid situations where the ethics and consent might be a little bit sketchy" would be so damn helpful, to normalize (NOT mandate) the idea of "Hey, here's what I'm ok with and not ok with and here's what I'd say could be negotiable, what about you?" before getting into carried-away territory.

But not practical, in the US, given how many parents object to the idea of anything re sex being taught in school. So failing that, how about just normalizing the idea of talking about these gray areas generally? If you're ok with that, then the question becomes how. Keeping, but improving, the linked programs and others like it could be one way.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:50 PM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Kirk, I really can't say I've ever been that concerned about having non-consensual sex with someone.

I will point out, though, that concern about being accused of a crime is not the same as concern about committing a crime, even accidentally. I mean at some level I'm concerned that someone could stick a bag of cocaine in my car and call the police' anonymous tip line, but it's not like it keeps me awake at night.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:57 PM on November 11, 2008


If you're so desperate for sex that you need to force yourself on somebody, then I'm sorry, but you need to reassess your fucking priorities man.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:03 PM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


(that comment wasn't actually directed at anybody in particular)
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:03 PM on November 11, 2008


Of course, sexist jokes may not lead to rape, but I don't think you can casually dismiss them either.

Are we dismissing them now? Are we? Jesus is this so goddamn hard? Has nobody heard of the term context before?

What we are dismissing is the utter lack of context for god the damned rule some of you want imposed. What we need is a discussion of what sexist language REALLY is. Becuase not everybody agrees with you about that. THIS is where this topic always bogs down.

That study you cited. I can find studies that correlate all sort of types of speech with a given negative behavior.

Okay. Fine. Let's then be entirely consistent. If we must never dismiss "sexist" jokes then we cannot casually dismiss violent video games. Or violent movies. Or pornography. Or books.

I am all for this discussion but:

Who makes the rules?

What are the rules?

We quickly get in a very uncomfortable discussion where we can't be so smug and flippant as to toss off simple black and white statements like "sexist jokes are bad."

You don't get off so easy. Define what the fuck ARE bad sexist jokes, movies, and books from the good ones, please.

Then you know we get into a discussion about context. And then intent.

And intent is the trickiest of all. Because from there it's all no longer about solving a given social problem and it becomes about ideology. And that shit is dangerous.

So. Sorry. I will not be YOUR Thought Gestapo. I won't.

There are all sorts of ways to involve men and educate society in preventing rape. But forcing people to parse every word that comes out of their mouth looking for some kind of evil hidden agenda is just gonna make things worse.
posted by tkchrist at 5:06 PM on November 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


Men Can Stop Rape is part of a growing movement to stop rape, sexual assault, and sexual violence by focusing on educating men.
---
It would be nice if we could have a discussion about sexual assault that doesn't turn into a big "think about the poor menz and their hurt feelings" for once.


Yeah, this is a lecture, not a discussion group.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 5:07 PM on November 11, 2008


Why are so many people here up at arms that there are programs that include men in working to reduce or even eliminate sexual violence?

That's not what people are up in arms about. They are up in arms about how in some cases these programs are using a shotgun approach where perhaps a more subtle and reasoned approach may do. that some of the language is insulting and inflammatory. And that telling men to narc-out or Debbie-Downer their friends for telling titty jokes is perhaps somewhat counter-productive.

Otherwise most of these programs are a-ok with me. In fact I have, a womens self-defense instructor, been involved in a few.

That's mostly it.
posted by tkchrist at 5:15 PM on November 11, 2008


Kid Charlemagne: I will point out, though, that concern about being accused of a crime is not the same as concern about committing a crime, even accidentally. I mean at some level I'm concerned that someone could stick a bag of cocaine in my car and call the police' anonymous tip line, but it's not like it keeps me awake at night.

The problem as I see it is that guys in these discussions want the privilege of crossing liberally into that ethical danger zone but are terrified of hypothetical situations like "well, she said yes, but then she passed out, and she might have said no, but I don't think she did, and now she's accusing me of rape."

In dozens of these discussions, "women should avoid getting drunk and alone with strange men" as a way to deal with the fear of being raped (never mind the fact that it's rarely 'strange men') is considered to be a good and reasonable suggestion.

The suggestion, "men should avoid getting drunk and alone with strange women" as a way to deal with the fear of false accusations of rape is treated as outrageous.

tkchrist: Okay. Fine. Let's then be entirely consistent. If we must never dismiss "sexist" jokes then we cannot casually dismiss violent video games. Or violent movies. Or pornography. Or books.

Well, I'm on record as saying that the mefi hive mine is hypocritical in saying that violent video games have no impact, but Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, and Ann Coulter do.

I don't know who in this discussion is saying we should ignore context or intent. (Although IMO intent does little to mitigate the effects of a specific speech act.) But, isn't there a reasonable consensus that rape jokes, rather like jokes about African-Americans and watermelon, should be considered according to a stricter standard of context and intent than "why did the chicken cross the road?"
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:25 PM on November 11, 2008


But not practical, in the US, given how many parents object to the idea of anything re sex being taught in school.

No kidding.

My high-school class was the last for several years to get sex-ed of ANY kind. A friend of mine became a teacher in that school a few years later. He was telling me how many girls got knocked up (and how many STDs). Where as in our class there were zero pregnancies to term I ever heard about. As well as how poorly kids seemed to relate to each other, gender-wise.

Personally I did get good advice from my older sister about girls and respecting women. I learned to how to talk to them very early. Which did pay off in spades later. But at first it was a nightmare being one of the "nice-guys." High school sure wasn't meant for being one of them. And that's another tragedy in our culture. Nice guys get shit on and finish last.
posted by tkchrist at 5:27 PM on November 11, 2008


Something that's occurred to me watching the end game of this - are there really that many cases where someone is "technically" or "accidentally" committing date rape and didn't realize it? The idea has been getting a lot of air time here, but I'm kinda thinking that we're letting the guy who says, "How was I supposed to know that spiking her drink with GHB is wrong?" frame the conversation.

If you want to read sarcasm into those quotes around accidentally and technically, feel free.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:32 PM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


But, isn't there a reasonable consensus that rape jokes, rather like jokes about African-Americans and watermelon, should be considered according to a stricter standard of context and intent than "why did the chicken cross the road?"

Absolutely. Like I said earlier I can't recall ever even HEARING a rape joke. Other than one from Sarah frigg'n Silverman about her doctor. But I'm not writing her a letter.

I think when I heard somebody describing Donkey Punching at the boxing gym I told him that was some stupid (and mythical) sick shit. And pretty much everybody agreed.

But we also have the nebulous warning in one of those links (and up thread) about sexist language and jokes. And that is a frigg'n mine-field of subjectivity. I am highly uncomfortable editing people based on something that subjective.
posted by tkchrist at 5:33 PM on November 11, 2008


People who acknowledge the anti-male hostility some of these programs but still consider them useful miss a very important point: If guys find a program condescending or hostile to men in general, the vast majority will just be condescending or hostile back. The program will accomplish nothing except making the potential audience even more hostile to the next program of that type they encounter.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:35 PM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Stewwwriffic: This is what I've done to stop sexual violence in the last three days:

1) I experienced it. Luckily, my reaction at the time was exactly the opposite of what the guy was likely hoping for. I wasn't particularly bothered (at the time, anyway. later? ugh), and I marched around the side of the car and got his complete license plate number. Scared him away, in fact.
2) I told people what happened. The police, my neighbors, my coworkers, the local crisis response center...y'all, even.
3) I followed up. Went downtown to the police station this morning in fact. Long story short, I spent about two hours chasing misinformation. It turns out that what the guy did was LEGAL just because he was in his car and I didn't see his genitals. It was perfectly legal for that man to intrude on my peaceful Sunday yard work by parking across the street, opening his window, staring at me and masturbating.

You wanna know why I've done all that? Because I can. What happened to me a couple of days ago is "mild" compared to other sexual violence, and I happen to be hanging onto my strength. Others aren't able to. A woman on my neighborhood listserv emailed me back and said something similar had happened to her recently when she was out with her little girl, but that she didn't want to press charges.

So yeah, guys, you can do something. Please do. I guess that's my point.
Wait, what can I do? Go down to the Seattle PD and file charges on behalf of a woman and her daughter in another state? I mean, yay you, but you only did what any sane person would do: report a crime they saw committed that they felt was a danger or disruption to the lives of others.

The problem is that apparently this women so loves being a victim, or walking around "threatened", she won't file charges when she sees someone breaking the law, and affecting her personally. Well... what the fuck more can we do?! Society has laws, it has a legal system, and it has for the most part moral, medical, psychological, and community support for getting help. If she chooses to not use that... how is that my fault, and how will a bunch of guys reprimanding each other for jokes get her to file. some. fucking. charges?! Sure, it turned out there wasn't much ground for the charges to be acted on in your case, but you certainly are strutting around like Robin Hood now; maybe she'd have the same benefit and empowerment, and not walk around scared shitless every waking minute.
cybercoitus interruptus: yeah, that kind of expected mind-reading is a problem.
That's kind of the problem, I guess. Rather than deal with the problem directly, some people are choosing to be passive-aggressive and expect the rest of us to read their minds and solve their problems for them.

I actually agree with some of the later comments regarding "sex education" as opposed to just "reproductive technology 101" would be hugely beneficial- that some people think sex should be this complicated headgame, or that a woman simply can't admit she likes to fuck, can't help.

But I can't stop rape just because I have a penis, nor will suggesting that I'm somehow responsible despite not being a rapist actually do anything but piss me off. You know who can really impact rape statistics? Rape victims can, by reporting those who rape. How on earth these stories crop of "He raped four women!" boggles my mind. You know who's to blame for victims 2-4? Victim 1, who was a victim of a crime and did nothing about it. If I saw a crazy woman assaulting people on the sidewalk, and did nothing- including contacting the police- I'd feel pretty fucking awful when I heard on the news later that she pushed someone in front of a moving bus.
posted by hincandenza at 5:37 PM on November 11, 2008


They are up in arms about how in some cases these programs are using a shotgun approach where perhaps a more subtle and reasoned approach may do. that some of the language is insulting and inflammatory.

ok, I've paged through that first link (Men Can Stop Rape) and I don't see where this happens. Maybe I've missed comments in this thread pointing it out. Or are they in one of the later links, or are you referring to the ones that people in this thread have talked about?

What we are dismissing is the utter lack of context for god the damned rule some of you want imposed. . . . telling men to narc-out or Debbie-Downer their friends for telling titty jokes is perhaps somewhat counter-productive.

If that's in response to my comments, I thought I clarified that policing and imposing rules certainly wasn't what I meant by advocating "calling out".
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 5:39 PM on November 11, 2008


The consequences of being falsely accused of rape in any context and regardless of any judicial outcome are so dire, that many men feel that rape, as a topic, is more about a fundamental inequality of power than anything else, and that's a tough row to hoe for the Team. It seems to many men so vastly unfair, so insanely dangerous, that just an accusation can ruin their lives, that it's difficult to have a rational discussion about it. I don't really see any way of moving the discussion forward in any sort of organized movement contest until that issue is put in its proper context. Fear is never a good starting place, for *any* kind of potential victim.
posted by digitalprimate at 5:41 PM on November 11, 2008


Hell dude, I'll go on record as saying getting so drunk that you're passing out is a pretty bad idea to start with, much less doing in the exclusive company of people you don't necessarily trust.

On the other hand, I think there is a clear correlation between violent video games and violent crime.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:52 PM on November 11, 2008


tkchrist, I think you're being more than a little obtuse. OF COURSE telling someone to avoid sexist language is vague, and OF COURSE you have to consider the context when deciding which jokes/words/etc cross the line. Was this ever in dispute? I think it's assumed that people will ultimately use their own subjective judgment; the point is to educate that judgment, not to lay down some ironclad code of correct behavior. If I'm wrong, and the people in these organizations are handing out exhaustive lists of words and expressions that merit scolding under any and all circumstances, that still seems to me like pretty small potatoes. Throw the list away, by all means, but ranting about the "Thought Gestapo" just makes it seem like you need to work on your sense of proportion.

On preview: The problem is that apparently this women so loves being a victim, or walking around "threatened", she won't file charges when she sees someone breaking the law, and affecting her personally. Well... what the fuck more can we do?!

OH FOR GOD'S SAKE.
posted by DaDaDaDave at 6:04 PM on November 11, 2008


Wow, this thread is SO weird. And depressing. Sure, maybe the particular programs described in the post are a little over the top, but the sentiment that sexual violence against women is a problem in our society, so maybe we should discuss it with men as well as women seems like something that is inherently a good idea.

In high school, every once in a while we would have some speaker come in and talk about how racism is bad, or how homophobia isn't okay and those gay jokes aren't funny. Or you shouldn't say "retard" because it's hurtful language to people with mental disabilities.
No one clamored "how dare you assume I'm a racist or homophobe!" Instead, we sat there and listened, and recognized that these programs are designed to highlight social issues and get people to think about them. Besides, it was more interesting than pre-calculus.

For heaven's sake, people! Programs to educate men about rape aren't about assuming that all men are potential rapists who need to be thwarted. They're about bringing attention to the issue and making people think about their behavior- not as in "oh, now I'm gonna stop raping drunk chicks" but more like "hey, maybe I should stop jokingly referring to girls as sluts, and tell that douchebag face who lives in my dorm and makes date rape jokes that I don't find him funny, next time he does it."
posted by emd3737 at 6:48 PM on November 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Kid Charlemagne: are there really that many cases where someone is "technically" or "accidentally" committing date rape and didn't realize it? The idea has been getting a lot of air time here, but I'm kinda thinking that we're letting the guy who says, "How was I supposed to know that spiking her drink with GHB is wrong?" frame the conversation.

I've never looked up the stats (if anybody is compiling stats on this aspect). I brought up the stories of girls and women posting about their experiences because there's so damn many of them, all different, but with commonalities. I don't know about many, but some of them talk about having it out with the guy later, and they found that some of the guys really didn't realize. Other guys, of course, are the assholes you mention.

Anybody who's really curious could google for and lurk at sites where girls and women post about this. As I said, I found it eye-opening. If anybody does do this, and is tempted to jump in with the conventionalities that are often perceived as helpful advice, please think about not giving in to temptation. These kinds of sites are meant to let people tell their stories and get support from others who've been there. There are plenty of politically-oriented sites where men and women have back-and-forths about policy and legal questions and comparisons with men who've been raped, etc.

I'm not going to provide links. They fend off enough well-meaning drop-in commenters who post stuff like "Why didn't you say "no" louder?" or "Why didn't you press charges?" or "You could have done xxxx, so why didn't you?" There are understandable reasons for not saying no louder and not pressing charges, and that gets talked about too, at these sites, as well as in any number of studies that are internet-accessible. People who are really, good-faith interested in answers to these kinds of questions can find them.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 7:35 PM on November 11, 2008


sebastienbailard: Well, I'm a bit puzzled. What exactly do you object about an advertisement that suggests that men should back off if a partner is drunk, and implies that doing so might lead to nookie down the road?

Umm, the damn slogan they're basing their campaign on "My Strength is not for Hurting" is the part I object to. Not the intended message of the campaign, but the presentation, which is so damn corny and patronizing that it alienates its intended audience. Unless you think young men are receptive to new ideas when they're being talked down to?

I might have gone with a slogan like "If she can't say no, that doesn't mean she's saying yes" or something. More likely a xkcd-styled stick figure comic showing a couple getting drunk, and then having sober sex the next morning, contrasting that with a couple where the man rapes the woman while she's drunk, and then having her crying in pain while the cops drag him off. You could fit that on a poster, and it would actually make the intended audience think.

Instead we've got a "Just Say No"-style PSA which does a poor job of reaching out to people.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:10 PM on November 11, 2008


KirkJobSluder, you might think "Run away, far away," sounds nice in theory, but in practice that does make you an old and cranky veteran of the sex-positive movement. I tried working out the numbers on the drive home; a little more than half of my female partners have verbally expressed a desire for anything from the aforementioned wrestling through bondage and beating and up to and including play rape. While I'm nowhere near the statistically significant n=30 level, I daresay that many men have experienced similar situations.

People have sex with other people, not their ideologies. People don't have pure and "correct" sex. The embrace of BDSM indicates that, yes, people are very much interested in power exchange mixed up with their sexual activities. And while men can and often do turn down sex for various reasons, "This makes me ideologically uncomfortable" isn't often that high on the list.

Had I restricted myself to sex partners who fit some arbitrary, shiny-happy-healthy set of standards that sound a lot like Star Trek fanfic, I probably would be not too many years shy of 40 Year Old Virgin status. Folks just aren't that enlightened; we're not banging the Buddha. It could be lights off, or guilty prayers afterwards, or having to beg to go down on your girlfriend, but people as a whole in this country have some weird attitudes about sex. I'm hardly doused in potential lovers, and I am certainly not about to throw myself on the big sword of self-sacrifice to help maintain someone else's "sex-positive" agenda.

While this seems wildly off-topic, it isn't; this serves as a sample of the problem. All of this is personal; dismissing the personal is therefore not likely to succeed. Continuing pushes based on "should" and coming from an ivory tower while the very real facts of sexual game theory, mammalian mating behavior, cultural taboos, current politics, face-saving, social mores, and peer pressure are ignored will not grant the desired level of success. Alienating roughly half the population isn't really a solid tack. Yes, men here know women who have been victims of sexual harrassment or rape; men here also know men who have been falsely accused of such. Acknowledging one part while ignoring the other will be noticed.

Remember, no matter how strongly you feel about this, what you've got is a public relations campaign for those who are not as involved as you. All of those principles apply, like it or not. Pause to read this thread again through the lens of someone who might be pushing a political stance and what you'll see a great deal of are reactions to basically a good message that has been oft-times poorly deployed. It's sad, but it isn't too late to change it.
posted by adipocere at 9:05 PM on November 11, 2008 [6 favorites]


How on earth these stories crop of "He raped four women!" boggles my mind. You know who's to blame for victims 2-4? Victim 1, who was a victim of a crime and did nothing about it.

Sorry! Wrong answer! The person to blame for rapes 2-4 is the rapist. Sing it with me now! The victim is not at fault! Responsibity for a crime lies with the purpetrator. This is the kind of bullshit that needs to be addressed.

Victim One may have been unwilling to admit she'd actually been raped. Victim One may have been drinking. Victim One may have been dating the guy at the time, and didn't think anyone would believe her. Victim One may have been his daughter, or she could have been a stranger her left stone cold in a shallow grave.

The rapist is the one at fault, not Victim One.

I'm giving up on this thread. Hopefully all you offended men can come to some consensus of exactly how offended you are, while I and the rest of the ladies get to go through life second guessing everything we do, mace in hand, since it's obviously our fault.
posted by Jilder at 9:12 PM on November 11, 2008 [13 favorites]


Two points:

1) The first link is to a program specifically targetting youth. That may explain why the language seems patronizing. Still, I think it's a decent point that it may be more alienating than effective. Still, I think you'll find a lot of the other links are worth reading and perhaps less grating.

2) Perhaps the language in the post was unclear ("focusing on men educating men" may have been better wording) but these programs are, for the most part, started and run by men who might be surprised to hear that their activities are "anti-male".
posted by lunit at 9:32 PM on November 11, 2008


This will wendell.

c'mon! 206 comments & nobody posted that yet?!?? LIFT YOUR GAME, PEOPLE!!!
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:56 PM on November 11, 2008


206 comments & nobody posted that yet?!??

Maybe someone did, but I think it is now mod policy to delete stuff like that or "*gets popcorn*" on sight, especially if it is one of the first comments.
posted by grouse at 10:02 PM on November 11, 2008


I can't help but feel that this thread and the thread about the strippers' dressing area have some strange symmetry going on.

In the stripper dressing room thread, there's a subtle undercurrent of 'wow! That looks like a dressing room! With annoying management signs! Just like a real job where real people work!'

And this thread is getting het up because the topic is a movement which is, however admittedly ineptly in some respects, trying to get young men who have been taught from a very early age by any number of media sources that women are an exotic kind of alien machine which can be used for sex, that said women are in fact people too.

Cultural messages are insidious things.
posted by winna at 10:18 PM on November 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


hincandenza you're starting to be a dick. And not helping the argument at all.
posted by tkchrist at 11:15 PM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


It feels a bit like the thread's derailed, but people talking about how they feel about rape education and/or rape in general is pretty valid, I think. There are a lot of guys here, so of course (as with most any topic), we're going to get a lot of posts from that point of view.

I'm having a hard time finding worthwhile stuff in the given links. Maybe because I'm clicking randomly instead of systematically. There are over twenty though and I probably won't even look at all of them let alone give them a comprehensive read through.

Here's an interesting bit from the University of Wisconsin brochure:
It isn’t enough to be “against rape.”
Research shows that the vast majority of heterosexual men would never rape a woman and believe that rape is wrong. Yet, most college men who commit rape fail to recognize their acts as such, even when the victim presses charges. Closely and critically examine the way you treat and feel about women: might you ever be placing yourself in potentially compromising situations? Ask yourself honestly: do you believe in any rape myths or some variation of them? If so, work on changing.

I find it extremely unclear. Did we only get part of the brochure? Does this just mean that rape suspects often plead guilty at trial? Does it mean that rape convicts are reluctant to admit that they actually harmed someone? Or does it mean that many rapists genuinely do not believe they have raped. Those are three very different possibilities which could result in the paragraph above.

This type of stuff frustrates me and makes me stop reading. Or at least stop taking the material seriously, which is probably not what the proponents of it had in mind.

And to add to that, all of the college targeted stuff makes college in the US seem like some sort of depraved wasteland.
posted by ODiV at 11:24 PM on November 11, 2008


I think it is now mod policy to delete stuff like that or "*gets popcorn*" on sight, especially if it is one of the first comments.

so - ironically - you can only predict that a thread will wendell somewhere down near the end, by which time it's already a trainwreck and it has no hope of wendelling?
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:30 PM on November 11, 2008


Oh, and also, this thread might be of some use to people looking at making effective anti-rape campaigns targeted at men. There's a bunch of men in here talking about what doesn't work for them or turns them off in that regard.
posted by ODiV at 11:40 PM on November 11, 2008


So here we have education programs that propose to do just that. How to ethically negotiate having sex with a female partner, and how to avoid situations where the ethics and consent might be a little bit sketchy. And it seems that lots of people here are really concerned about having ethical sex.

I agree with this wholeheartedly. First off we have a crisis of language. There is a vast difference between the guy who prowls parking garages late at night, and the drunk 22 year old who doesn't stop when he should. Both are wrong, but the latter is a lot more preventable than the other.

I think rape is a crime in which the first line of defense is in how you raise your sons, and the last line of defense is in how you raise your daughters. In between there a whole host of tools, including education, law enforcement, societal expectations, etc. Too often everyone passes the buck, and we end up relying on the last line of defense, which means we fail way too often.

If you're trying to teach a grown man how to deal with these issues, your chances of success are pretty low. That doesn't mean it's not worth it to fight the good fight, but don't expect to wake up tomorrow in a rape-free America either. The same goes for grown women as well. If you wait until after something bad has happened to start in on what she could have don different, you're just being an asshole.

The world we live in has too many overt and conflicting sexual messages to continue to stick our heads in the sand and let kids grow up and figure it out on their own. We need to teach our kids not just the mechanics, but the motivations. About mixed signals and second thoughts. We need to teach our sons the difference between confidence and aggression, being smooth and being a liar. Teach our daughters the difference between being careful and being afraid, and how to distinguish romance from wishful thinking.

I think the most harmful sexual attitude that kids grow up with is the completely outdated notion that sex is something that men always want, makes them stupid, and they'll do anything to get it, meanwhile women exist for the sole purpose of saying no, and making them beg. The biggest problem is that this scenario is completely pervasive, and the only negative consequence shown is humiliaton for the man and a tarnished reputation for the woman should either of them step outside of those roles.

If we can eliminate the crimes of ignorance, we stand a much better chance at going after the remaining crimes of malice and violence.
posted by billyfleetwood at 11:52 PM on November 11, 2008 [10 favorites]


Wow. I've never seen metafilter as a whole be so hostile towards both genders specifically.
posted by tehloki at 2:49 AM on November 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Although I agree wholeheartedly with billyfleetwood.
posted by tehloki at 2:51 AM on November 12, 2008


So men don't like being called potential rapists. Not surprising, for several reasons.

1) "I'M NOT." Fair enough, me neither. You can know of yourself that you aren't going to do horrible things in public or in private, drunk or sober. Good for you (and me!).

2) You could have been. Different upbringing, different friends, etc. It's a scary thought. Something about the way you grew up or the choices you made gave you your strength of character. It's worth asking how you got to be that way. "Not just consent but enthusiasm" -- yeah, that was a good thing for me to hear when I was younger. As billyfleetwood said: "If we can eliminate the crimes of ignorance, we stand a much better chance at going after the remaining crimes of malice and violence."

3) You may be seen as a potential rapist. This disturbs me -- I don't like the thought that I might be frightening other people while just going about my business. This is not a matter of blaming every individual man for rape; rather, the problem is that we live in a culture where men rape women on a frequent enough basis that women are often afraid to walk the streets at night, where women have reason to fear that their date or their partner might hurt them because there are often no warning signs.

People have been complaining that each individual man is not personally to blame for the bad state of the culture, but that's not what their opponents were saying. Agreed, language that appears to call nonrapist men rapists is generally unhelpful, so forget blame -- it's enough to say that to the extent that it lies in my power and yours (probably not very much at all) we should try to make the society we live in a bit less hostile and dangerous to women. Can we at least get some general agreement that #3 exists and is a huge problem that affects every woman in our lives?


Among other things a man can do, try to become the sort of person with whom women can feel safe in sharing their experiences. Judging by the thread, there is room for improvement here.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:05 AM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


adipocrere: People have sex with other people, not their ideologies. People don't have pure and "correct" sex. The embrace of BDSM indicates that, yes, people are very much interested in power exchange mixed up with their sexual activities. And while men can and often do turn down sex for various reasons, "This makes me ideologically uncomfortable" isn't often that high on the list.

Ohh, get off that straw man. It's not about having ideologically or politically correct sex. Because there ain't no such thing.

Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, I was in a relationship with a partner who, the few times she talked about sex, voiced the opinion that she wanted it rougher and kinkier, but refused to talk about exactly how rougher and kinkier, didn't believe in safewords, and I found myself in the relationship doghouse because I'd cross some sort of line I was just supposed to know when I crossed that.

It's about recognizing that you are in an impossible relationship situation where you are both accountable for unspoken expectations and accountable for unspoken boundaries. If you fail on the first, you're a lame boyfriend. If you fail on the second, you can be accused of rape.

It's not about political correctness. It's about protecting your own relationship sanity. People who expect power exchange (or anything else) but are unwilling to talk about it are putting you into an unreasonable position, and you have every right to walk away.

Had I restricted myself to sex partners who fit some arbitrary, shiny-happy-healthy set of standards that sound a lot like Star Trek fanfic, I probably would be not too many years shy of 40 Year Old Virgin status....

That's funny. I had the exact opposite experience. Once I clued into the fact that honest discussion (it's a shame how McCain has spoiled the phrase "straight talk") about what you want from sex is a good thing, I found myself with an embarrassment of riches when it came to sexual partners, including partners who were good, giving and game for some pretty extreme experiments in power exchange. I don't understand where this notion comes from that talking about sex with a potential partner (or even as a way to find potential partners) is going to lead to a virtual drought in the bedroom.

Continuing pushes based on "should" and coming from an ivory tower while the very real facts of sexual game theory, mammalian mating behavior, cultural taboos, current politics, face-saving, social mores, and peer pressure are ignored will not grant the desired level of success.

No, no, no, no, NO.

This isn't ivory tower advice.

This is advice that comes from the bathhouses and tearooms, from the professional doms and tops, the pornshops, and the swingers clubs.

It's advice from people who end up having a hell of a lot of sex.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:49 AM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


c'mon! 206 comments & nobody posted that yet?!?? LIFT YOUR GAME, PEOPLE!!!

"Perfunctorily chanting thread-bombing slogans right out of the gate" is not really the game we want lifted, really.

posted by cortex at 6:20 AM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


All I'm gonna say is, is dude, if this chick wasn't like, on you, the whole night, right up to the minute it and through the fucking act, you ain't scored, capiche? In fact, if she didn't come and just kind of laid there like a loser, you still didn't exactly score, did you? I mean, like, dead fish style sex just doesn't freaking count. You didn't get it on, she just let you put your penis in her, and that's totally different from consensual, involved, blistering sex where you're into each other. And that IS what we're aiming for, right? Right????

And isn't that the theme these stop rape movements are missing?
posted by saysthis at 6:21 AM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


The day after the election I was walking around with a close male friend. I told him how happy I was we were going to have a feminist as a VP. That was enough for him to stop in his tracks and say, "Huh, I thought you'd be of the school of thought that men couldn't be feminists." I went on to say that the movement could use as many allies, approaches and help as possible, so I counted anyone that work towards equality and protection of both genders as being a feminist. He went on to say that there is a level of self preservation that gets in the way for men. I brushed him off saying there was still a welcome place for all who wanted to be a part of the movement in feminism.

I met with him again last night and told him about this thread, and how it made me think of the discussion we'd had about men in the feminist movement. "Do you agree with me now, that men can't really be feminists?" No, I don't agree, but this whole experience, sadly, brought me a step closer to that conclusion. There are some social conditionings and experiences that seem to make it really hard for either gender to see the other side.

I know men are conditioned to fear violence as well as women, but from this thread there's a pile of evidence suggesting that mot guys don't realize how much this kind of stuff is just drilled into women. Yes, I know, avoid drunks, take the safest way home, get an escort if possible, watch your drink when you're drinking. All of these cries of "women should use common sense, women should be aware and protect themselves." have been drilled into us forever. And guess what? I use all of that advice even though it comes off as a kinder, gentler "don't dress like you're asking for it." All of this stuff has not helped me avoid being publicly exposed to by men, frottaged on public transport in rush hour or getting hit on by a guy driving a garbage truck. And you know what? I shouldn't have had to deal with any of that, period.

But still, the prevailing male attitude in this thread comes off as "Why should my being male be a liability?" The answer is, sadly, the same reason my being female is. Two sides, same coin.
posted by piratebowling at 7:36 AM on November 12, 2008 [4 favorites]


First, the feminist movement doesn't belong to women. Women don't get to say who is in it and who isn't. Feminism is just as difficult for women to understand as it is for men. Feminism isn't "womenism"... it isn't a philosophy in which all things women are made good.

Being male isn't a liability. Women aren't encountering a "liability" when they are frottaged or hit on by garbage truck drivers. They are experiencing society, which is full of people interacting and not always appropriately. You should have to deal with that because the alternative is a government controlled social space which prevents both free expression and the occasional inappropriateness.

This whole debate seems to come back to the Don't Dress Like You're Asking For It debate, where the other side says "I should get to dress however I want and not have a problem." Why should you again? Because men get to? They don't. No one does. There is no "totally respectful interaction zone".

Feminism is about sex organs not determining personal experience and choices. Period. As I've said before, the only difference between pre-feminist and post-feminist society is how a girl feels when she puts on her "Juicy" shorts. What our parents fought for was the sense of empowerment that is now felt versus the sense of obligation that was felt.

Reducing rape is about increasing public safety. Inasmuch as public safety is a feminist issue, then rape is.
posted by ewkpates at 7:49 AM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


First, the feminist movement doesn't belong to women. Women don't get to say who is in it and who isn't. Feminism is just as difficult for women to understand as it is for men. Feminism isn't "womenism"... it isn't a philosophy in which all things women are made good.

I never said any of that.

Women aren't encountering a "liability" when they are frottaged or hit on by garbage truck drivers. They are experiencing society, which is full of people interacting and not always appropriately.

Metafilter has had this discussion in the past, it really didn't go well. Let's just say I strongly disagree with you on this subject.

Feminism is about sex organs not determining personal experience and choices. Period.

I think that is impossible, based on this society you mentioned I experience and the cultural tendencies of said society when it comes to gender norms. I think feminism's (or at least one of the schools of feminism's) role to acknowledge how these circumstances we are born under affect our cultural capital and the limitations placed on us as a whole by society, and attempt to move beyond them or reshape them. Having men involved in rape education is one way to do this.
posted by piratebowling at 8:33 AM on November 12, 2008


Women aren't encountering a "liability" when they are frottaged or hit on by garbage truck drivers. They are experiencing society, which is full of people interacting and not always appropriately. You should have to deal with that because the alternative is a government controlled social space which prevents both free expression and the occasional inappropriateness.

Government-controlled? Uh, how about behavior standards being held up by peer pressure? That's kind of what any given community does, as a society. Upholding standards of behavior and disapproving of others, enforced with shame or disapproval or education (either at the time of an incident or hypothetically). Which is the point of these seminars.
posted by desuetude at 10:29 AM on November 12, 2008


If you feel "closer to the conclusion that men can't be feminists" then you don't understand feminism, not only how it applies to men but fundamentally how it applies to you. If you think that a gender-free society is impossible, step back 100 years to when people could frickin' get away with saying that women weren't even human. Dude, seriously. It doesn't happen overnight, but it is clearly happening.

"Rape education" is ridiculous though, given the other premises here. Do we need "homicide education"? Do we need "hit and run education"?

Nope. It's a crime, don't do it. It is just like any other crime where someone hurts someone else and/or takes their stuff. It doesn't matter if its men rape women or each other. It doesn't matter if its women raping school kids (under age of consent).

Feminism, which is about "moving beyond" and "reshaping" the limits we feel society is imposing, should not focus on educating people about why a crime is a crime. That's a done deal. It's a crime. Don't do it, or go to jail.

Feminism should focus on educating people to remove gender from sexuality, not regendering it.
posted by ewkpates at 10:45 AM on November 12, 2008


We do have "hit and run education." A license is required to operate a car.

Rape is always a crime, but sex really really isn't. Apparently, some folks need a little more advice on how to tell the difference.
posted by desuetude at 11:07 AM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


ewkpates, I agree with you in theory -- rape is a crime, don't do it -- but I don't think that automatically makes rape education "ridiculous." Comparing rape to murder just because the two acts are crimes against another person doesn't quite work. Our society regards killing someone as a fairly binary issue: either you killed him or you didn't; you can't sort-of kill someone.

Rape, on the other hand, is still widely perceived to have a thousand shades of gray. As has been cited earlier in the thread, there are plenty of people out there who believe that a woman who dresses provocatively, a woman who initially says yes but then changes her mind, a woman for whom you've bought dinner, a woman walking alone at night, a woman who's passed out drunk in the corner -- "deserves" to get raped, or "had it coming," or "was asking for it, or "should've known better," etc.

And as long as those perceptions exist, I am all for educating the shit out of people, both men and women. It needs to become a natural part of our society, the idea that no woman ever, ever, ever, ever "deserves" to get raped, and it needs to become a natural part of our society for women to report a rape, without fear of recrimination or doubt or judgment of her character, just as easily and quickly as she'd report a burglary.
posted by shiu mai baby at 11:16 AM on November 12, 2008


The argument falters with the words "our society" because right after that you say "women report".

Do women need to be educated on how to report rape? Is our goal that they become better rape reporters? Or that they become more sophisticated rape avoiders? Or that men become less frequent rapists?

How is any of these goals related to gender? Rape is complicated by the fact that it has to do with feelings, perceptions, and law... but men can just as much be victims of this confusion as women. Maybe what men need is a class on how to never be vulnerable to a rape charge rather than a class on how not to rape. Is that feminism? How is this not "men should have known better"? How is "women are responsible for not being victims" a bad way to approach the problem? Again, how is this criminal problem about gender or feminism?

You don't need classes on how not to assault people.
posted by ewkpates at 11:37 AM on November 12, 2008


ewkpates: Do we need "homicide education"? Do we need "hit and run education"?

Nope. It's a crime, don't do it.


Well, actually we do have "hit and run education" in order to get your first diver's license in most states.

But seriously, there is a problem that exists for rape that doesn't exist for most crimes. While most people will agree with the premise that an incapacitated person probably doesn't consent to having his or her wallet stolen and a $500 bill on the credit card, an astonishingly large number of people do, in fact, believe that a woman who gets drunk in the wrong situation or who goes home with the wrong man has, in fact, consented to whatever happens next short of some pretty severe scenarios that clearly cross the line.

So yes, when you have a significant portion of the population who just doesn't understand where the legal and ethical boundaries are, why shouldn't we have educational programs to communicate and reinforce those boundaries?

How is any of these goals related to gender?

Well, like it or not, we live in a culture in which gender roles and expectations exist.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:04 PM on November 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


The argument falters with the words "our society" because right after that you say "women report".

How, exactly? Most victims of rape are women. Most rapes are perpetrated by men. A large percentage of women do not report rape, because they themselves question whether or not it happened, whether or not they'll be believed by the police, whether or not they'll be perceived as sluts, and so forth. Why is education designed to change these questions such an odious thing?

Do women need to be educated on how to report rape? Is our goal that they become better rape reporters? Or that they become more sophisticated rape avoiders? Or that men become less frequent rapists?

Yes, on all of the above. I'm not sure I follow why you're so bent on the gender angle. As I clearly stated, I believe rape education should be for both men and women, for reasons I've already articulated. And, as KirkJobSluder just pointed out: we live in a culture in which, for better or worse, gender roles and expectations exist. I'm all for challenging them, and in particular changing the societal norms and perceptions that lay the foundation for violence, but simply ignoring the construct of gender isn't going to work, either.

How is "women are responsible for not being victims" a bad way to approach the problem?

Because the implication there is that any woman who is raped is somehow "responsible" for it happening to her, and suggests that a woman had some choice in whether or not she became a victim. I didn't think this was a particularly difficult concept to grasp.

You don't need classes on how not to assault people.

So long as a not-insignificant portion of the population believes that fucking a boozy passed-out girl in a short skirt is not rape, yeah, we do.
posted by shiu mai baby at 12:20 PM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've known too many sexual assault cases in which the perp was previously considered to be a good, upstanding, and trustworthy guy to agree that the onus of prevention should be on the victim.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:44 PM on November 12, 2008


If you think that women aren't responsible for being victims but men are responsible for being perps.. If you treat the genders differently because "we can't ignore the construct of gender..."

Well, then, fine... you aren't feminists. They said the same thing about women voting. They said women aren't level headed enough to vote... women aren't smart enough to understand politics... they aren't socialized to accept the responsibility... [even if it is just a gender construct] we can't ignore the reality that women aren't capable...

You apply a double standard for responsibility and then claim a social reality compels you.

Drivers have to be safe, pedestrians have to look both ways. Equal responsibility for safety even though there is a clear legal difference.
posted by ewkpates at 1:04 PM on November 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


You don't need classes on how not to assault people.

That wasn't what the Rape Prevention program at my college was about, and I hope more current programs avoid that being the sole focus. The focus for men was clarifying how low the actual rate of false rape reporting was, and also getting people to realize a consensus on what constitutes consent was a good thing. Not to 'avoid assaulting people', but so that people had a clearer concept of when their acquaintances were crossing boundaries that they shouldn't.

While we approached education with the typical assumptions regarding gender, there was no reason men couldn't apply the same reasoning to protect themselves or other men against assault, and that women couldn't apply the same reasoning in regard to woman on woman or woman on man assault. No one ever questioned or complained about the gender assumptions, although we did have stats on domestic violence rates for same sex couples.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:04 PM on November 12, 2008


Equal responsibility for safety even though there is a clear legal difference.

There's a big difference between saying both parties need to be somewhat responsible and saying that this responsibility should be equal. Or, rather, the thing that is equal is that no one, of any gender, should be able to legally have sex with someone who is drunk and passed out, no matter what they're wearing. I don't understand why this isn't clear or why people are arguing that just saying this out loud isn't at some level a good thing. I am still a feminist; you saying I'm not doesn't make it true.
posted by jessamyn at 1:17 PM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, then, fine... you aren't feminists. They said the same thing about women voting. They said women aren't level headed enough to vote

Voting is done by one voter. Rape is done by one (or more) rapists upon someone else. Your analogy implies that the responsible behaviour of one person somehow acts as an awesome force field against the irresponsible behaviour of an aggressor.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 1:25 PM on November 12, 2008


I'm not saying the legal responsibility should be equal, I'm saying the safety responsibility should be equal.

Gender equity means that a woman is as responsible for her rape as a man is responsible for his mugging, or a woman for her mugging.

I'm saying that denying that women are responsible, not "somewhat", but completely responsible for their safety is simple gender equity.

The law is there to punish criminals. This doesn't mean that you can leave your house unlocked, or even that you should have the expectation that leaving it unlocked is risk free.

You can't say you are a feminist if you aren't focused on gender equity. That's like saying you are a free market republican and then bailing out the banks.
posted by ewkpates at 4:52 PM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


The law is there to punish criminals. This doesn't mean that you can leave your house unlocked, or even that you should have the expectation that leaving it unlocked is risk free.

I don't think this law metaphor is working for you. Even if I leave my house unclocked, someone is still breaking the law if they steal my things. My friends might give me a hard time about leaving the door unlocked [no matter what gender I am] but that doesn't reduce or in any way make me "responsible" for the theft.

I think you and I agree on this question more than we disagree, but I feel that your examples maybe aren't making the case you want to make. Then again, it may be possible that you really think that there isn't massive gender equality in the US that means that it's important to consider gender w/r/t sex crimes because the statistics tend to indicate that certain behaviors are safer and unsafer and this VARIES depending on the gender of the person. And until it's crystal clear who is and isn't a rapist and who is and isn't engaging in risky behavior it's not necessarily a bad thing to have education programs such as this as well as "how not to participate in risky behavior" education.

That's like saying you are a free market republican and then bailing out the banks.

I am presuming that is a joke.
posted by jessamyn at 5:17 PM on November 12, 2008


Even if I leave my house unclocked, someone is still breaking the law if they steal my things. My friends might give me a hard time about leaving the door unlocked [no matter what gender I am] but that doesn't reduce or in any way make me "responsible" for the theft.

The Arabs have a great saying: "Trust in God, but tie your camel's leg"
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:28 PM on November 12, 2008


Gender equity means that a woman is as responsible for her rape as a man is responsible for his mugging, or a woman for her mugging.

Holy hell. A woman is "responsible" for her rape? Are you fucking mad?

Between that staggeringly offensive statement and your coronating yourself the arbiter of who is and isn't a feminist, I am officially done with trying to have a meaningful conversation with you, hoss.
posted by shiu mai baby at 5:29 PM on November 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


You can't say you are a feminist if you aren't focused on gender equity.

It's probably not worth prolonging the conversation--this thread has definitely entered its Caligulan decadence--but I'd just like to point out (with piratebowling, jessamyn and shiu mai baby) that announcing "feminism = gender equity" and tarring everyone else with the anti-feminist brush is intellectually lazy and irresponsible. There are many, many feminists (I count myself among them) who believe that some responsibilities are more incumbent on men than on women or vice versa; hell, there are a number of well-known feminist thinkers who consider the very idea of "gender equity" a tool of masculinist oppression. You don't get to decide who's a feminist and who's not.
posted by DaDaDaDave at 6:59 PM on November 12, 2008 [5 favorites]


Definitely late to the game, but this leapt out at me, amongst the dross:
There is a surge in popularity in recent years in a variety of gonzo reality porn spun off of the Girls Gone Wild franchise which does explicitly say that the best way to get a woman good, giving and game is to get her drunk.

Was this not the central plot of the film Superbad? This idea transcends porn.
posted by Dreama at 1:21 AM on November 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think Dave identified the central problem:

"...some responsibilities are more incumbent on men, some on women."

If you think this viewpoint is compatible with feminism, then you've defined men and women, you've defined their roles and responsibilities by their sex organs, and you, my friend, are in the same boat as those people who said, hey, vaginas preclude voting. This act of defining is the antithesis of feminism. You can say "hey, feminism is whatever I want it to be" but then where does that get you? I'm not deciding who is a feminist, I'm pointing out that saying you are one and actually walking the walk are not the same thing. You can say whatever you like, doesn't make it true.

Shiu mai and jessamyn are dangerously close to that precipice... I don't know to what degree feminism allows for law as an authority, I'm guess not much. Responsibility for rape is never a conversation in a legal context. Good people have never questioned that it is illegal, and focusing on that seems to emphasize legal differences between victim and perp that lead us down the road to gender roles.

It might not make sense to say this, but I think jessamyn makes an interesting point about one of the tensions in feminism... gender equity in a society where different genders carry different risks. This is a tough problem... and it is made even tougher when we acknowledge that the point of feminism is to eliminate gender differences over time. This has the short term effect of causing the different risks faced by the genders to shift over time.

In the old days we use to worry that women were married against their will. As this concern has begun to diminish we've noticed that women marry, and then divorce, for profit. Gender equity doesn't always produce the utopian vision we hope for.
posted by ewkpates at 2:14 AM on November 13, 2008


In the old days we use to worry that women were married against their will. As this concern has begun to diminish we've noticed that women marry, and then divorce, for profit. Gender equity doesn't always produce the utopian vision we hope for.

In the old days we used to worry that black people were bought and sold and forced on pain of torture and death to work their entire lives in the fields of their white owners. As this concern has begun to diminish we've noticed that sometimes the black man will pull one over on the white man...

The law of unintended consequences is important and very much worth keeping in mind, but you may want to consider the baggage of your examples before you decide they're ready for prime time; that one is, as an implicit criticism of women's freedom from compulsory marriage and institutional rape, kinda fucked up.
posted by cortex at 7:10 AM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Misuse of the law of unintended consequence because marrying for money is not a consequence of freedom to marry... it's an unforeseen outcome maybe, but not a consequence because it isn't causal.

I was suggesting that the more we succeed at prosecuting rape, the more likely that we will have innocent men convicted. I was referencing the endless balancing act that feminism faces in eliminating power balancing between genders.
posted by ewkpates at 7:21 AM on November 13, 2008


If you're going to pair the two together and then talk about the flawed produce of increasing gender equality, you're on poor footing to say you weren't intending to invoke causality. Which, I mean, I'm happy to take you at your word that you didn't mean to suggest causality there and it was just an ill-conceived thought, but that's part of why the example struck me a fucked and why I'm saying it seems like one you should have kept back in the garage for some more tuning.

Intended or otherwise, the overriding implication of it—"give 'em some freedom and they're just gonna fuck you over, guys"—is pretty gross. Nobody here is imagining utopia in the foreseeable future, so arguing that we're not going to get there just by addressing some of the existing problems in society, especially given that you're not talking to a bunch of kindergartners who are encountering this topic for the first time, is at best talking at a strawman.
posted by cortex at 7:59 AM on November 13, 2008


I was suggesting that the more we succeed at prosecuting rape, the more likely that we will have innocent men convicted.

Whoa, the baseline just changed. Earlier in this discussion, we heard how so many men are having their lives ruined by being accused of rape (with no data to support it) and how this is an awful consequence of women being allowed to accuse people who rape them of raping them. Now you're implying that innocent men are frequently being convicted of rape. Data, please.
posted by hydropsyche at 8:34 AM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what planet some of you come from.

I'm not suggesting that hordes of innocent men are accused or convicted, probably some are, but I'm guessing the big number is in unaccused unconvicted guilty men.

I'm also not saying that freedom leads to guys being taken advantage of.

I'm saying that 1) feminism is about erasing gender differences, and if you think that men can't be feminists or men need rape classes, then you probably aren't focused on erasing gender differences. I'm also saying that 2) one of the central problems in feminist philosophy is the idea that as power is distributed more evenly, we see that the genders are equally bastards... this can be surprising, disturbing, and also provide us with new problems which will likely require further redistributions of power.

Lastly, I'm saying that victims need to do everything they can not to be victims. Asking criminals not to be criminals doesn't work, and lecturing "potential criminals" about crime is both insulting and ineffective. And incidentally, not what feminism is about.

The essential value of feminism is right there in cortex's thinking though. "give 'em some freedom". No one is giving anyone anything, women took power they didn't receive it as a gift. Further, the more freedom people exercise, the more they will fuck each other over. Gender free reality. When you catch yourself adding gender in, don't.
posted by ewkpates at 8:44 AM on November 13, 2008


You can say "hey, feminism is whatever I want it to be" but then where does that get you? I'm not deciding who is a feminist, I'm pointing out that saying you are one and actually walking the walk are not the same thing. You can say whatever you like, doesn't make it true.

Shiu mai and jessamyn are dangerously close to that precipice... I don't know to what degree feminism allows for law as an authority, I'm guess not much.


Your theories on what feminism is and is not, and what it does and does not allow, are strangely and inaccurately strident. There are divergent opinions within the feminist movement about what feminism does mean and should mean, and what gender equity means. (We're all pretty clear that equal pay for equal work is a given, and that rape is a bad thing, just for the record.) It is not anti-feminist to acknowledge that there is are differences between men and women. I really don't understand why your reaction to this discussion is seemingly coming down to what sounds a lot like an accusation of Anti-Feminist Leanings Among Supposed Feminists.
posted by desuetude at 8:48 AM on November 13, 2008


I confess I haven't read all the way through the thread so forgive me if this has been covered already, but...about the only time I've ever been in a situation with the sort of 'toxic' sexism discussed here was first year university. I was on a party floor in residence and yes, it got pretty ugly at times.

In thinking it over, I believe the sort of behaviours discussed often had a great deal to do with attempts at bonding and using that bond to get through what was certainly a stressful and difficult time. I'm not excusing this in any way, shape or form BTW, I'm just looking for answers.

Most of these guys were 'nice guys'. I would presume that most of them had little experience with the opposite sex and they certainly were not any of them jocks or cliche partyboys. One big expectation of starting university is that there is a greater degree of freedom; keg parties, all night smoking sessions, more parties, trips to bars. So these guys were excited about that and a lot of them drank more in that year than they likely did any other year of their lives.

Anyways, people would get wasted and it always seemed somebody would start up with the ho-talk and the atmosphere became something akin to a military camp - it was us against them. It's no exaggeration to say that the focus seemed to be almost on defeating women.

The worst example of this was probably the game someone suggested one night of a 'pighunt' wherein all the guys would bring home the ugliest girl they could find, and once having sex, would yell out, "Hey guys, I'm fucking a pig" - and I believe the guy with the ugliest girl was the 'winner'. I will emphasize that this never actually happened, but the fact that it was even suggested is indicative of the way things turned.

Remembering it now, I feel that grossed out feeling all over again, the same creepy 'is this what it means to be male?' feeling I experienced when I started working in an auto factory and first saw the unfathomably homophobic graffiti in the bathrooms there. I'm raising my own son now, and it's depressing stuff to consider; hopefully society may be a little less aggressive and a little kinder once he's grown; certainly, I'm doing what I can every day to see that he will be secure enough in himself not to go that route.

I'm not sure I have any answers here, except to note that this sort of misogynist-mass-mind seems to rely on men being in groups. Sometimes men in groups assume the worst of each other, and then there's a race to the bottom, behaviour-wise. I guess anyone who knows anything about sociology knows that already.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:19 AM on November 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


First, just like among political conservatives, there are disagreements in the feminist movement about what the movement stands for. These disagreements are tantamount to high jacking though. Political conservativism has always been about small government, and feminism has been about gender equity, about de-gendering political and social power and identity.

I'm not saying that there aren't differences, there's differences all over the place. I'm saying that rape classes are an example of the high jacking of feminist philosophy. I'm saying that having a men's movement to save women from man on woman violence is not rooted in feminist philosophy.

Divergent opinions don't change the underlying realities and the basic original principles. "Divergent opinions" is often code for "everyone's contribution is equally valid", which, of course, is not the case.

We aren't going to agree on what feminism is, and that is a HUGE problem in feminism and a HUGE problem in education. I can just represent the arguments and hope.
posted by ewkpates at 9:22 AM on November 13, 2008


"Divergent opinions" is often code for "everyone's contribution is equally valid", which, of course, is not the case.

And differences of opinion are shrugged off as unimportant thusly.

I don't agree that not agreeing on the definition of feminism is a huge problem in feminism or education.
posted by desuetude at 10:08 AM on November 13, 2008


sigh. there's too much in this thread that makes me kind of sick to my stomach and definitely like i want to cry to read anymore past like the first 150 commetns. i agree with the person who said it was kind of sad how people of every gender were getting villified here. i agree with the person who said that isn't a 30 minute video that annoys you and wastes your time worth a woman (or man) getting violated in an irrevocable way? have we yet come to the agreement that rape is never an acceptable outcome and while there is still a lot of disagreement w/r/t the best ways to prevent this, via actions taken by both genders, prevention efforts, self-awareness, ANY effort is better than none? if you know someone that's been hurt this way i'm surprised that you would say the above isn't true, that anything is better than nothing. and that preventing even a few of these acts is worthwhile. full disclosure (sort of): i was one of those women that made stupid, terrible, very bad choices and paid a price. i think the life of my mind only survived by the repetition that "rape is never an acceptable outcome." it just isn't.
posted by Soulbee at 10:50 AM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Okay, once more into the fray:

If you think this viewpoint [that some responsibility are gender-unequal] is compatible with feminism, then you've defined men and women, you've defined their roles and responsibilities by their sex organs, and you, my friend, are in the same boat as those people who said, hey, vaginas preclude voting.

What is this, the official thread of the False Equivalence Council? Look, I hope it was obvious that I was talking about responsibilities in the present state of society, which I assume is what we've been talking about and not Rape Prevention in the Twenty-Fourth-and-a-Halfth Century. As long as there is gender inequity, or any systematic social inequity, there will be unequal responsibilities. The (individual or collective) beneficiary of injustice has a greater ethical responsibility to work against injustice than the sufferer. That's not at all to say that there aren't major responsibilities all around, or (obviously) that women should just wait for men to "give" them freedom, but it is to say, for example, that it is more ethically incumbent upon men to not rape than it is upon women to not get raped. Which is a dry way of saying what has been said more powerfully many times in this thread, for example by Soulbee.

And just to stick my toe in where angels fear to tread, my candidate concept for "essence of feminism" would be: working toward the individual and collective improvement of the situation of women in society. The goal of gender equity plays a huge role in that work, of course, but so does educating people, both men and women, in such a way that they realize how gender inequity affects their lives and what they can do about it. The effects of that inequity are unequally distributed, and there's no guarantee that the best strategy to combat it will be totally answerable to any abstract idea of equality.

Also, ewkpates, while your rendering of Greek script in Latin characters is cute, in view of your "I know exactly what feminism is" position it's also a bit, how you say...eponysterical?

P.S. Don't you just love the "italics" tag? I know I do!
posted by DaDaDaDave at 1:05 PM on November 13, 2008 [4 favorites]


It is easy to be glib and to appeal to the obviously emotional nature of this debate.
Its easy to say that education for everyone is important.
It is easy to chant "because-you-say-so isn't a reason."
We pretty much have heard all of that. Not constructive. Kind of disingenuous.

The claim that some have "greater ethical responsibility" is your real agenda. You believe that some people have a greater ethical responsibility than others. I don't. I think everyone has an equal ethical responsibility for their outcomes because, well, we are all equals. We have the power to make choices and change outcomes.

The claim that feminism is about "social improvement" is your real agenda. Women getting the vote is NOT NOT NOT based on whether it improves society or not. Its about gender free social and political power. This power is value free. This power is not about whether or not women do "good" with power. It is about separating gender from the equation of power and responsibility.

You don't get it. You don't get feminism. Not because I say so. Because you say so.
posted by ewkpates at 6:42 AM on November 14, 2008


You mean because they say things that you say mean they don't get feminism. Which is a fancy way of saying because you say so.

This is premised on the notion that (a) you are absolutely correct in your definition of feminism, (b) anyone who disagrees with you is inherently incorrect, and (c) there is no room for meta-analytical error on your part here, so we sure better not even try and pry at points a and b. Which, I mean, that's awesome for you, but what the fuck is the expected value of even discussing this with you then? Why are you here, other than to stand around wearing a sandwich board and shouting infalliblilities?

None of these issues exist in a vacuum. You insist that speaking about social improvement is losing the way, that talking about imbalanced practical responsibility is losing the way, as if it's impossible to both hope and work for equality and recognize the imbalances and social deficits of the real world, and that's ridiculous. It's a petri dish social theory; it only works in the lab, and insisting and insisting and insisting that any other model of thinking about this stuff is inferior is maddening to behold. It comes off as you caring more about an abstract theory of feminism or social justice than about anything that actually drives it into relevance in the first place.
posted by cortex at 7:46 AM on November 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


First, just like among political conservatives, there are disagreements in the feminist movement about what the movement stands for. These disagreements are tantamount to high jacking though.

So, if I disagree with you about what you say feminism is, I am hijacking the movement?

Divergent opinions don't change the underlying realities and the basic original principles.

And you are apparently the only one who is qualified to name the underlying realities and basic original principles.

...and feminism has been about gender equity, about de-gendering political and social power and identity.

And you seem to think that anyone who recognizes that there are in fact gender differences - whether those are nature or nurture or both - is Not Feminist. And that anyone who sees feminism as either broader or narrower than that, or more complex than that, is Not Feminist.

I can't even count how many "more feminist than thou" conversations/discussions/fights I've had. I guess I've cocooned myself enough that I didn't think we still needed to do this, or that there were still people over the age of earlytomid20s who so lacked an appreciation for nuance that they were physically and mentally capable of saying "Feminism is [oversimplified, black-and-white definition], and if you disagree with any part of that or question it then you are not a feminist."

I'm not deciding who is a feminist, I'm pointing out that saying you are one and actually walking the walk are not the same thing.


You have set yourself up as the judge for who is walking the walk, and anyone who strays from the path you've laid out is Not a Feminist.

You can say whatever you like, doesn't make it true.

This is pretty much the only thing you've said in this thread that I agree with. Also, hello, pot - meet kettle!

I can't believe I'm about to hit "post." jesus h.
posted by rtha at 9:00 AM on November 14, 2008


I would love for gender to be completely irrelevant, and I think it is, most of the time. I've been trying to figure out why your reasoning seems off, and I think maybe this is part of it: One case where it is still relevant seems to be in our understanding of rape.

Women tend to understand rape by its legal definition: when sexual behavior is forced upon them without their consent. Some men tend to have a different understanding which conflicts with the legal definition: that there are times when consent is not necessary.

The point of these programs is to educate men so that their understanding matches the legal definition. There is no reason for women to "take responsibility" for men not understanding the definition of rape. The fault, and the root of the inequality, lies with the men, and trying to correct such a fault will get us closer to equality in this particular case.

Does that make more sense, and frame the inequality at the root of the problem which has led to the inequality that you see in a clearer way?
posted by hydropsyche at 9:25 AM on November 14, 2008


I, for one, find it more than a little hilarious that a guy is dead-set on being the judge of what is and isn't feminism. LOLIRONY.
posted by shiu mai baby at 10:01 AM on November 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


Which isn't to say -- at ALL -- that men have no place in the sphere of feminism, because they absolutely do. They must.

But for one man to proclaim that he alone possesses the razor-sharp insight and universal understanding of gender inequalities that are necessary to say X=FEMINIST, Y=NOTFEMINIST, just seemed, well, kind of odd. And pretty presumptuous, to boot.

posted by shiu mai baby at 10:05 AM on November 14, 2008


The claim that feminism is about "social improvement" is your real agenda. Women getting the vote is NOT NOT NOT based on whether it improves society or not.

women took power they didn't receive it as a gift.

Women's ability to "improve" society through their supposed "maternal" qualities was, in fact, precisely the argument (among others) used by many suffragists, around the turn of the century, to persuade men that white women should have the vote (eg, many many suffragists also active in the temperance movement, to the extent that breweries funded anti-suffrage efforts).

Using your voting analogy, women in the US didn't actually take power (the vote). One huge reason (among others) for their success was that they had, at long last, drummed up enough support from individual powerful men (Woodrow Wilson, finally) and forged alliances with various male demographics, leading to the passing of female suffrage in certain individual states, and then in 1919 enough men in Congress passed the 19th Amendment, and then finally in 1920, 3/4 of the states ratified it because enough legislators (men, of course) agreed.

So, the voting analogy actually supports the principle of the programs linked above. Suffrage succeeded only because of the support of men along with women.

(Sorry about US-centric egs but that's the history I'm most familiar with, and anyway the US is the context for the OP so British history is much less relevant.)

posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 10:34 AM on November 14, 2008


I tend to think people are dishonest when they miss the point over and over and focus on the person trying to make the point. I tend to think these people lack any substance to their thinking and instead rely on taunting, misdirection, and ad hominem because of moral weakness. But, benefit of the doubt, right?

I've been trying to focus on a comparison between women's right to vote and this case of educating men about rape so that we can take what we should all agree is a foundational feminist goal and compare it to a goal which seems feminist - as a kind of litmus test.

I'm pretty confident about my analysis of the litmus test. Further, I'm pretty confident that feminism, like all principles, is a fixed constellation in the heavens. Principles aren't "whatever you'd like them to be", they are concrete objective things. And also, by the way, ideas are important. They are more important than the realities of life because while the realities change, shift, invert, the principles are what allow us to navigate through the changes. Come on already.

So, knowing what feminism is comes down to understanding and applying its principle and not on opinion or morality or whatever the heck processes of random wheel of whatever the heck you like today.

Stop using man, like it means something in this discussion, its embarrassing.
Stop pretending that judgement isn't a inescapable consequence of understanding, and that we all judge (when we aren't riding the opinion bus to quackville).
Stop pretending that every argument has equal weight. Stop focusing on other than the elements of the argument.

hydropsyche - good attempt. The problem: these are clearly not "know the law" classes. These classes are much more about maleness, power, society, respect, and gender relations. They are about men controlling themselves. Rapists do what they do on purpose. It isn't a self control issue. In the ethical sphere, its a power imbalance. We can't prevent all rapes. We can change the dynamic of power so that it is less likely.

cybercoitus - correct in terms of political deconstruction. Not correct in terms of feminist deconstruction. An off the cuff feminist deconstruction might go: Women convinced men to make the change. Women used many arguments to overwhelm the opposition regardless of their (feminist or otherwise) merit. Women did not desire the vote to "do good" but to be equal.

(clearly they had no intentions of surrendering the right in the absence of "good" accomplishments... equally clearly women are equal to men in violence and stupidity given the opportunity. There is really awesome stuff to be discussed in this arena, particularly with regard to the ancient greeks and their themes of women as more powerful, dangerous, and destructive than men. I can't say enough about this... Achilles' rage makes him impotent, helpless, while Clytemnestra's rage makes her, well, a frickin' Terminator)
posted by ewkpates at 11:06 AM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's probably a good sign that this rather depressing thread has now turned from a discussion of rape culture and educational strategy to a discussion of philosophical principles. What did Hegel say? The owl of Minerva only logs in at dusk?

The claim that some have "greater ethical responsibility" is your real agenda. You believe that some people have a greater ethical responsibility than others. I don't. I think everyone has an equal ethical responsibility for their outcomes because, well, we are all equals. We have the power to make choices and change outcomes.

I think you're equivocating on "ethical responsibility." Ethical responsibility in the abstract is one thing; ethical responsibility in a concrete situation is another (related) thing. Abstractly speaking, you and I have equal responsibilities in the sense that we are subject to the same rules of right and wrong; if it's wrong for me to do something, then it's wrong for you to do that thing, etc etc. But this does not mean that our actual, concrete responsibilities are the same, because those responsibilities are determined by circumstances. If I borrow $10 from you, then I have a responsibility to give you back $10; you have no responsibility to give me another $10. To compare great things with small: if men collectively wield disproportionate power (as they do), that is an injustice, and (as I said before) the beneficiary of injustice bears a greater share of responsibility for righting the injustice. (And just to add to my earlier list of qualifications: that does not mean that we should expect men to do the lion's share of work in improving the situation of women.) To throw one more mixed metaphor into this kooky thread: by being born male in a sexist society, you and I borrowed $10. Actually, more like we were given shares in a collective debt of $100,000,000,000,000. Now we have to do our part to pay that debt back.

What does this tell us about what individual men and women should do to combat the larger injustice? Not much. Again, and of course, each individual's concrete circumstances will determine what s/he ought to do. But the overall imbalance of power is one of the determining factors.

(Side note: in all of your comments you've argued that feminism is about levelling the playing field. Fair enough. But you seem to imply that the playing field is now sufficiently level that we can basically stop worrying about it. That's where you're wrong. Yes, the situation is much better than it was in the 19th century; then, the playing field was on something like an 88-degree incline. Now it's more like 40 degrees. Or rather it's on a 40 degree incline until the 90-yard-line, and then it suddenly ramps up to 75 degrees. Also the field is full of spike pits and quicksand. Also one team has home advantage. Also the refs have been bribed.)

The claim that feminism is about "social improvement" is your real agenda. Women getting the vote is NOT NOT NOT based on whether it improves society or not. Its about gender free social and political power. This power is value free. This power is not about whether or not women do "good" with power. It is about separating gender from the equation of power and responsibility.

"Gender free social and political power" is desirable because it is an improvement of society. It's an improvement in the ethical structure of society, whether or not women "do 'good' with power." I think what we have here is a disagreement of first principles: you seem to be claiming that equality is the main issue. Everyone has equal rights and responsibilities, and in our political activity we should assume a fundamental equality among all parties. I claim that justice is the main issue. Injustices have been perpetrated and are being perpetuated, and as a result there is a concrete disparity of power; in our political activity we should take that disparity into account. It's all well and good to say that we're all equal and everyone should be treated the same, but that claim is the statement of an ideal, not a description of facts. The problem, as always, is how to realize equality. Assuming that equality already obtains is not, in my view, a very good start.

Further, I'm pretty confident that feminism, like all principles, is a fixed constellation in the heavens. Principles aren't "whatever you'd like them to be", they are concrete objective things. And also, by the way, ideas are important. They are more important than the realities of life because while the realities change, shift, invert, the principles are what allow us to navigate through the changes.

This idea is rather charming, like a hoop skirt or one of those big 19th-century German moustaches. Absolutely, ideas are important. But in my view (and not just in my view), they are not "more important than the realities of life." They are among the realities of life. Principles, including the universally true ones, arise out of practice. "What should I do?" precedes "What is true?" Etc etc.

You don't get it. You don't get feminism. Not because I say so. Because you say so.

If you say so. But whether I'm a feminist has little to do with whether I "get feminism."

I tend to think these people lack any substance to their thinking and instead rely on taunting, misdirection, and ad hominem because of moral weakness.

I'm not morally weak, you're morally weak! Nyah nyah nyah.
posted by DaDaDaDave at 12:59 PM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


You can always tell when a conversation has devolved, because there is no more ceding of the other persons valid points or epiphanies about the other persons statements. It's just long-winded, tortured explanations of why I'm right on every point and you're wrong on every point. Positions are set and no more production is in sight. Time to give it up, then.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:38 PM on November 14, 2008


jokeefe wrote: Oh, sweet jesus. I think this thread is kind of beyond hope at this point; I think we've hit every square on the bingo card now.

As the one time recipient of unwanted touching from a woman, I find that pretty offensive. It's not any more cool for a woman to grab my dick than it is for me to grab a woman's ass. Even if it is arousing.
posted by wierdo at 4:43 AM on November 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Afraid to talk to women? Are you serious?" Yeah, but it seems that's too difficult of a concept for some folks to wrap their heads around.

"You know, it sounds like you could actually find something worth pursuing in the links in the FPP. If you are that worried that you might meet a woman and then have her "turn around and [claim] she was raped", it might be a really good idea to understand what in fact might constitute sexual assault. Then you will be clear on the matter, you will be educated about the whole thing"

Excuse me, but did you actually read any of the links in the FPP? The "test" was more ambiguous than anything! I DO understand what in fact might constitute sexual assault but that certainly doesn't change the fact that a woman can basically say anything she wants. Then it's the guys word against hers. Ever read the stories from the Innocence Project? Women that were ABSOLUTELY SURE they had identified their rapist in a line up turned out to be completely wrong but only after DNA evidence proved it wrong 15+ years later?

"It's just long-winded, tortured explanations of why I'm right on every point and you're wrong on every point. Positions are set and no more production is in sight."

Very well said. I'm done with this thread. It's just reminded me why I rarely bother coming here anymore.
posted by drstein at 8:21 AM on November 15, 2008


The cases that the Innocence Project handles are not cases where women lie about being raped. They are cases where women are raped by men they don't know and incorrectly identify the rapist. And even then, the women's identification is not usually the single factor that led to the conviction--frequently the cases involve significant police misconduct. The wrongly convicted are usually freed because DNA evidence identifies the actual rapist.

In other words, these are cases of misidentification not the straw man malicious women making up rapes. If you meet a woman, if a woman knows you, you are not going to end up in one of these situations.
posted by hydropsyche at 9:14 AM on November 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


straw man malicious women making up rapes

No straw man: people make false accusations of all sorts of crimes, and rape is no exception. Wikipedia has links to a few studies on the prevalence of false rape accuasations.

I would be interested in seeing a survey of how many men had been falsely accused of sexual assault that used the same low standards of proof as the oft-recounted surveys on how many women have been sexually assaulted.
posted by grouse at 9:51 AM on November 15, 2008


That's a nice, high quality Wikipedia entry...did you look at the discussion page? Even in the midst of all of the mess, it still says that nobody knows how many accusations are actually false as there are no statistics that distinguish between false accusations and those that are withdrawn for a myriad of other reasons.

I just don't understand men who are so afraid of false rape allegations. While you all seem to be all over the internet, no men I know in my actual life, including the one I live with, are even mildly concerned that they will one day find themselves accused of rape.
posted by hydropsyche at 10:55 AM on November 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


I just don't understand men who are so afraid of false rape allegations. While you all seem to be all over the internet, no men I know in my actual life, including the one I live with, are even mildly concerned that they will one day find themselves accused of rape.

I want to second this, very strongly. No one I know is at all afraid of this. (The issue of false misconduct allegations in work settings was in the air some years ago, but seems to have mostly gone away; my guess is that once it became clear that women who made those accusations were paying a really heavy personal price, the risk of false accusations was correctly seen as very limited.)

I mean, I can't think of a single guy I know who would refuse to go on a date with an attractive woman, or go home with her, or drink beer with her, out of fear of being accused of rape. Like hydropsyche, I keep reading about it on MeFi, so I know those men exist, but they don't exist in my personal, anecdotal world. The men I know simply aren't afraid of this, at all.
posted by Forktine at 11:18 AM on November 15, 2008


it still says that nobody knows how many accusations are actually false as there are no statistics that distinguish between false accusations and those that are withdrawn for a myriad of other reasons.

Actually, the 1994 study involved a thorough investigation of all of the rape complaints in an urban area. They found that 41% of complainants eventually admitted that their complaints were false. Not just that they withdrew the complaint, they admitted that it was false.

It's still hard to know exactly how many incidents of false reporting occur, in general. But it's also hard to know how many incidents sexual assault occur. In this difficult area, it's interesting is how some people are ready to believe results from the least conservative methodology in determining how much sexual assault exists, but dismiss any of the attempts to determine how much false reporting exists.

While you all seem to be all over the internet, no men I know in my actual life, including the one I live with, are even mildly concerned that they will one day find themselves accused of rape.

A personal acquaintance of mine was falsely accused of sexual assault, which turned his life upside-down for a year until he was acquitted. Afterwards, the judge said that the case never should have been brought to court. Of course, anyone who ever Googles him will immediately find that he has been accused of rape, and people who do not believe in false accusations of rape will convict him in their own mind.

I can't think of a single guy I know who would refuse to go on a date with an attractive woman, or go home with her, or drink beer with her, out of fear of being accused of rape. Like hydropsyche, I keep reading about it on MeFi, so I know those men exist, but they don't exist in my personal, anecdotal world. The men I know simply aren't afraid of this, at all.

I can't say that fear of a potential accusation would stop me from doing any of those things either. But that's not why I think the spectre of false accusations should be taken seriously. It is more out of the need for justice for everyone, including the falsely accused. And they do exist. As long as people think that false accusations are nonexistent or a straw man, it will be impossible to get justice.
posted by grouse at 11:38 AM on November 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I personally don't think that false accusations don't happen, but I bemoan that discussion of them always happens in threads about rape.
posted by agregoli at 3:55 PM on November 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


Actually, the 1994 study involved a thorough investigation of all of the rape complaints in an urban area. They found that 41% of complainants eventually admitted that their complaints were false. Not just that they withdrew the complaint, they admitted that it was false.

You know, I was curious so I read the original 1994 paper (it is widely cited or reproduced by right-wing-nutcase sites that worry about the oppression of men by women, by the way, not that ad hominem should sway your opinion here). I did find it to be rather thin and devoid of validating details. For example, it cites a small community and two universities from which data were drawn, but doesn't identify them. The small urban area can't be West Lafayette, which is too small to be the 70,000 pop. city of the study. Okay, not a big deal, but why? Further, if you compare this publication to an example of another publication by this author, you see that the lack of detail extends even to the presentation of the data themselves. In the latter paper, tables and extensive explanations are given. In the former paper, everything is, I don't know, pretty sketchy. It doesn't make it wrong, just suspect. It seems to be the only paper that finds this rather explosive result, and I would think that, were such data available, there would be a throng of confirmatory studies or refutations done and published, but I don't see any.

I would prefer not to believe that nearly half the claims of rape are false (and don't forget that most rapes go unreported anyway, so even if the paper is right, the number of actual rapes far outnumber the falsely reported ones), but this weak paper is problematic. This wouldn't be the first time a scholarly article was perverted to serve a political end (see, e.g., John Lott's article). There seem to be a couple of other papers that give rates of between 20% and 60% of allegations being reversed by the alleged victim, but I can't find the originals online. Certainly, the recanting of an accusation can be an instance where a domestic squabble escalates to police intervention, and then the woman decides to retract the accusation; none of the publications seem to give a breakdown based on whether the accusation is between sexual partners or strangers.

Anyone have any further insight?
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:38 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wimp, every sociology study I've mustered the patience to comb through - usually because of one of these politicized threads - (1) offers the same curtain-and-wand act in place of a proper and transparent methodology or (2) points out that a rival clan's study satisfies condition 1.
posted by kid ichorous at 2:58 AM on November 18, 2008


kid ichorous, that's what I was afraid of. I suspect no data exist to firmly address the question. I will fall back on my own prejudiced point of view, then. So it goes.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:16 AM on November 18, 2008


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