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Craigslist Sexual Assault
January 11, 2010 3:05 PM   Subscribe

James Stipe, a Marine, allegedly posed as his ex-girlfriend to post an ad on Craigslist seeking an “aggressive man with no concern for women.” The woman was later raped in her home.

When the woman saw the ad (two days after it was posted), she contacted the police and Craigslist and the ad was taken down. However, Ty Oliver McDowell had already seen the ad and exchanged instant messages with a person he believed to be the poster of the ad, in which she described what she wanted (“humiliation, physical abuse, sexual abuse”) and provided her home address. A week after the ad was posted, McDowell allegedly forced his way into the woman’s house and raped her at knifepoint.

Stipe has been charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree sexual assault and separated from the Corps. McDowell is charged with three counts of first-degree sexual assault, one count of aggravated assault and one count of aggravated burglary. His attorney says McDowell believed he was acting out the victim’s fantasy.

The adult services section, where these ads were posted, has come under fire lately as a result of its ties to a number of sexual assaults and the murder of a Boston woman. This is not even the first time that Craigslist has been used to arrange the sexual assault of others. This incident raises further debate about this section, as well as debate surrounding internet censorship generally.

Commenters on these articles have also noted the importance of avoiding demonizing kinks as a result of stories like these, as well as the importance of negotiating consent in person in BDSM-oriented sexual fantasies. Dan Savage has tips.
posted by emilyd22222 (168 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Maybe we need a new crime on the books: identity theft with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
posted by No Robots at 3:09 PM on January 11, 2010 [16 favorites]


Before I read the [more inside] material, I'd already exclaimed out loud "Wasn't this a Law & Order: SVU episode?" Then I read and saw that it wasn't the first time this was on CL, so I'm sure I'm right, since they routinely tear storylines out of headlines.

Horrifying story.

But I sure am glad to be part of a community that reports on stories like this with context and links to background and serious discussion of the underlying topics (censorship, consent, etc.).
posted by yiftach at 3:14 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I often see ads in the m4m section where it seems screamingly obvious that person A is setting up person B for an unwanted surprise phone call at 3am.
posted by No1UKnow at 3:15 PM on January 11, 2010


Stipe has been charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree sexual assault

Much as this is a horrible, horrible case, we don't need any new laws, as there is clearly one already on the books that fits the situation to a tee.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:17 PM on January 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


A friend of mine had naked pictures of himself posted on craigslist by his ex-gf in casual encounters, looking for guys. His phone rang off the hook for days.
posted by empath at 3:18 PM on January 11, 2010


Stipe has been charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree sexual assault and separated from the Corps.

Has he been separated from the corps? From the Hi-Desert Star article: "Stipe was being processed for administrative separation as a result of a pattern of misconduct at the time of his arrest, according to the base office." Perhaps I'm reading it wrong, but I read this as he is not yet separated from the Corps and still belonged to them at the time of the incident.

If that's the case, considering that the administrative separation Stipe is facing isn't punitive, they really should put those proceedings on hold until his day is done in civil court. If he's found guilty there, (which is likely,) they could then switch tracks, try and sentence him to a dishonorable discharge and perhaps additional punishment. If nothing else, it would send a symbolic statement of deterrence against future incidents.
posted by zarq at 3:19 PM on January 11, 2010


"If I were king, I'd like to see them not run these personal ads," he said. "This is a debate we've had for a long time: . . . Do we censor the Internet?"

Luckily we don't have fucking kings here.
posted by clarknova at 3:20 PM on January 11, 2010 [26 favorites]


Has he been separated from the corps? From the Hi-Desert Star article: "Stipe was being processed for administrative separation as a result of a pattern of misconduct at the time of his arrest, according to the base office."

Huh. I looked through my list of cites, and you appear to be right. I could have sworn that one of the articles said that. Good catch.
posted by emilyd22222 at 3:23 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


So what we have here is a chain-reaction of shrugged-off responsibility. Craigslist's libertarian schtick amounts to a shrugging off of editorial responsibility: this forum is simple, transparent, and amoral - every man for himself, caveat emptor, etc. Meanwhile, the rapist here is shrugging off responsibility for his actions on the fact that he ostensibly had written correspondence that okayed his rape fantasy.

By refusing to do his own due diligence before doing something that had a very high potential to be horrific, he was used as plainly and transparently as much as Craigslist was.

If there's a lesson here, it might that when agents are willing to shrug off responsibility for their own actions, they become easy pawns for society's bad actors. Both parties here removed the checks and balances that would have kept this from happening, in a happier world.
posted by bicyclefish at 3:25 PM on January 11, 2010 [21 favorites]


No worries. Sincerely, I don't mean to nitpick. You made a damned fine post.
posted by zarq at 3:26 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cases like this are why we should have a law called "Criminally Culpable Stupidity". While Stipe should certainly rot in jail for doing this, I have zero sympathy for McDowell. How can you plan to act out a rape fantasy with someone without it, at least once, occurring to you to really verify that it's actually a fantasy being acted out? Ignoring the legal peril of getting it wrong, just the thought that a mistake or an error in judgment might lead to an actual rape occurring is enough to make me avoid the whole scenario.
posted by fatbird at 3:26 PM on January 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


His phone rang off the hook for days

That's the happy outcome. Imagine the humiliation if it didn't ring at all.
posted by CynicalKnight at 3:27 PM on January 11, 2010 [18 favorites]


as well as the importance of negotiating consent in person

You know, I'd never really thought about that, and I appreciate you mentioning it. Strikes me as applicable in many areas, not just BDSM.
posted by Malor at 3:29 PM on January 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


It still puzzles me how people think they will actually get away with shit like this. It is not a crime of the moment, there are multiple steps over an extended period of time, and at no point does the person say "holy shit I could get totally creamed for doing this" (let alone, I shouldn't be doing this at all) Not only is this fellow a complete asshole of the 1st degree, but he is/was incredibility stupid, which I guess is actually preferable.

As to the fellow who actually carried out the assault, man was an idiot he is as well. "Oh yeah, huh huh I never actually met the person but they totally want to be raped, and no consequence for me! Score!" Hell, even if you're that fucking twisted and sick why would you think such actions with a stranger who (as far as he knew) had your contact information are realistically risk free? God damn, I am (after a fashion) glad these people are so moronic, it makes it easier to catch them... but seriously I despair on so many levels here.
posted by edgeways at 3:31 PM on January 11, 2010


Wasn't that a Criminal Minds episode once? Some criminal put out an ad on the internet, pretending to be this woman and basically saying "rape me, I like to roleplay", and left the victim's key in a location he described, thus getting someone else to commit a crime for him.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 3:32 PM on January 11, 2010


bicyclefish: " Craigslist's libertarian schtick amounts to a shrugging off of editorial responsibility: this forum is simple, transparent, and amoral - every man for himself, caveat emptor, etc."

I suppose if Stipe had enticed McDowell by slipping a note under his door, you would be sneering at the "libertarian schtick" of the paper manufacturer.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:34 PM on January 11, 2010 [21 favorites]


"If I were king, I'd like to see them not run these personal ads,"

If I were king, I'd like to see people not rape other people.
posted by muddgirl at 3:35 PM on January 11, 2010 [25 favorites]


"This is a debate we've had for a long time: . . . Do we censor the Internet?"

No, dickhead, you just accept responsibility for your corner of it. I am near the end of my rope with people who equate moderation with censorship.
posted by edgeways at 3:35 PM on January 11, 2010 [11 favorites]


I'm trying to think of something to say about Mr. McDowell, but all I can think is that my heart is breaking over what the victim might be going through.

I bet dollars to donuts that Stipe has a history of aggressive behavior, especially towards women. A history that has been glossed over as "domestic disturbance" or "boys blowing off steam". That goes true for McDowell, although one news report I read says that he has a clean record.
posted by muddgirl at 3:39 PM on January 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


So what we have here is a chain-reaction of shrugged-off responsibility. Craigslist's libertarian schtick amounts to a shrugging off of editorial responsibility: this forum is simple, transparent, and amoral - every man for himself, caveat emptor, etc.

They're covering their asses. It's an infuriating response, but entirely predictable. This has nothing to do with libertarian philosophy and everything to do with defensiveness and human nature.

Both parties here removed the checks and balances that would have kept this from happening, in a happier world.

People who take advantage of anonymity to act like jerks is common on the internet. This isn't a new development.
posted by zarq at 3:43 PM on January 11, 2010


Moderation IS censorship. I'm on the side that still thinks needs to happen, though very transparently and sparingly.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:52 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wasn't this a Law & Order: SVU episode?

It was an NCIS episode, actually. I think it was even on last night, for maximum creepy coincidence factor.
posted by elizardbits at 3:55 PM on January 11, 2010


Before I read the [more inside] material, I'd already exclaimed out loud "Wasn't this a Law & Order: SVU episode?"

It was. "Liberties", which ran in May 09.

What's the reverse of, "ripped from the headlines"?
posted by availablelight at 3:57 PM on January 11, 2010


What's the reverse of, "ripped from the headlines"?

"Inspired by."
posted by zarq at 3:58 PM on January 11, 2010


> I suppose if Stipe had enticed McDowell by slipping a note under his door, you would be sneering at the "libertarian schtick" of the paper manufacturer.

If your analogy were a hot-air ballon, I'd strongly recommend not trying to fly anywhere in it.

Stipe didn't slip a note under McDowell's door by any stretch. In pre-net tech, he forged her handwriting on a poster and stapled copies of it to every bulletin board in the city disguised as his ex. Then he faked her handwriting on mailed correspondence.
posted by Decimask at 4:11 PM on January 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


But anyway: in a story like this, one might ask what more moderation could have fixed. If Craigslist is going to have an adult section, then people can go on it and ask for adult things. The only ways I can think of to prevent this crime would have been:
1. Remove the adult section (from Craigslist, as well as newspapers and other media).
2. Add a user-verification system so complex, expensive, and inconvenient that it would drive Craigslist out of business.
posted by roll truck roll at 4:13 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


2. Add a user-verification system so complex, expensive, and inconvenient that it would drive Craigslist out of business.

Would it? Seriously, I'm asking. Perhaps I just haven't heard about other incidents, but my impression is that we rarely (if ever,) hear that this has happened through traditional dating sites, or other sites which accept/post personal ads. What are they doing that Craigslist doesn't?
posted by zarq at 4:18 PM on January 11, 2010


3. Try the ex-boyfriend for rape or conspiracy to rape.

If he can be proven to have posted the ad, that is.

I don't think craigslist is at fault for this at all, but it should carry a heavy penalty.
posted by graventy at 4:24 PM on January 11, 2010


Which, upon re-read, he is charged with.

Both of the men seem to have committed crimes, and should be tried for it. Craigslist is no more at fault than Soldier of Fortune is when someone hires a contract killer from their classifieds.
posted by graventy at 4:26 PM on January 11, 2010


Decimask: " In pre-net tech, he forged her handwriting on a poster and stapled copies of it to every bulletin board in the city disguised as his ex. Then he faked her handwriting on mailed correspondence."

So McDowell sees the flyer tacked to the bulletin board in the local laundromat. When the laundromat owner says he's not responsible for the abuse of his communication system by two sociopaths, is bicyclefish going to accuse him of peddling "libertarian schtick"?

You understand that craigslist does not control, and is not responsible for Content made available through the Service, and that by using the Service, you may be exposed to Content that is offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:28 PM on January 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Would it? Seriously, I'm asking. Perhaps I just haven't heard about other incidents, but my impression is that we rarely (if ever,) hear that this has happened through traditional dating sites, or other sites which accept/post personal ads. What are they doing that Craigslist doesn't?

Good question. I don't know. I'd imagine that there's somewhat less incentive to post fraudulent profiles when it costs money to use the site (unless you're somehow making money off the fake profile, i.e. porn. There is a lot of that). Aside from that, I really have no idea.

It seems to me that the only way you could be 100% fraud-proof would be to require real-name verification from a credit card (and require that your real name be on all posts), or some sort of in-person verification.
posted by roll truck roll at 4:29 PM on January 11, 2010


So McDowell sees the flyer tacked to the bulletin board in the local laundromat. When the laundromat owner says he's not responsible for the abuse of his communication system by two sociopaths, is bicyclefish going to accuse him of peddling "libertarian schtick"?

I would see it more akin to a community center that runs that bulletin board. Though I'm not sure how much legal obligation to moderate that board (which is the reason they exist in the first place), but they sure as hell have a moral obligation to try to prevent rapes among their patrons, especially if they know the system can be abused as such.

Peppito, I made an angry comment about how your justification for DieHipsterDie was just as callous as hi, but I erased it. Still, there is something deeply wrong with using tragedy so nakedly to promote your cause. The equivalent to telling someone after a murder "Well, that's what you get because of all these video games!"
posted by Lord Chancellor at 4:36 PM on January 11, 2010


Luckily we don't have fucking kings here.
Isn't that the point? I read that as Blonigen saying "if it were up to my personal preference without the complications of constitutional rights...". The ellipsis (in the article, not mine) suggests his quote is picked from a statement that acknowledged the difficulties in the issue. Why else would he mention that the debate has been around for a while? It reads to me as though he's been unfairly edited.
posted by GeckoDundee at 4:36 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ugh, and can we not have a full discussion of how his Marine combat training taught him to pose as his ex-girlfriend to get someone to attack her? Not only is that way too subtle for any battle field skill designed to kill an enemy, but if he was an accountant, we would not be having this conversation about his job. The catalyst for this was that he was an ex-boyfriend, not that he is (a soon to be ex-)Marine.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 4:44 PM on January 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


[DieHipsterDie-related derail removed, throwing lazy snark into the thread in the first place was not a good idea.]
posted by cortex at 4:49 PM on January 11, 2010


Thank you, Cortex.
posted by zarq at 4:50 PM on January 11, 2010


Craigslist is no more at fault than Soldier of Fortune is when someone hires a contract killer from their classifieds.

Which means Craigslist could be found liable.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:50 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


2. Add a user-verification system so complex, expensive, and inconvenient that it would drive Craigslist out of business.

Doing what? Some kind of photo ID verification like the one I think that AdultFriendFinder has? Even then, there is no guarantee anyone online is who they say they are.

I think the instant that Craigslist takes ANY stand toward doing this kind of thing, they leave themselves open for culpability which bullshit happens. IANAL, but I'm sure their current openness is what protects them in some manner.
posted by hippybear at 4:51 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


The catalyst for this was that he was an ex-boyfriend, not that he is (a soon to be ex-)Marine.

To be honest, I debated even including that information in the post, because I didn't want to imply that Marine = rapist, but I do think it's important, given the prevalence of sexual assault in the military as well as the obvious discord between the values of the Marine Corps and this man's actions.
posted by emilyd22222 at 4:53 PM on January 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Still, there is something deeply wrong with using tragedy so nakedly to promote your cause. The equivalent to telling someone after a murder "Well, that's what you get because of all these video games!"

I kind of disagree. Video games are mostly played for 'fun,' whereas in the military you train to defend the country and its "interests" through violence, killing and blowing things up - this becomes one's job/duty to do so; there seems to be an easier connection to that sort of training and acting out violence like this. Though obviously, not all military people go bonkers in this way.
posted by peppito at 4:58 PM on January 11, 2010


Lord Chancellor: "I would see it more akin to a community center that runs that bulletin board. Though I'm not sure how much legal obligation to moderate that board (which is the reason they exist in the first place), but they sure as hell have a moral obligation to try to prevent rapes among their patrons, especially if they know the system can be abused as such.""

If the community center assumes a moral hazard by allowing Patron A to communicate with Patron B via their bulletin board - as you are saying - then they assume that same moral hazard by allowing Patron A to communicate with Patron B by speaking to each other in the parking lot. After all, the parking spaces are immediately adjacent. They know the system can be abused as such.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:58 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jesus Christ, this is beyond horrifying.

Sometimes I wish to god that Frank Castle was a real person.
posted by EatTheWeak at 5:02 PM on January 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


Craigslist removed the post as soon as it was notified. Short of having an employee physically verify the truthiness of the posting in the first place, what more could they have done?

It is not, at this juncture, illegal to solicit someone to come over and simulate-rape you if there's no money involved (and I like it that way). It IS illegal to solicit someone to go over and rape someone else. The minute Craigslist was notified of the illegal nature of the posting, they took it down. Thank you, Craigslist, for doing your job.

This is what I'm curious about. What was the response of the Natrona County Sheriff's Office after they were contacted by the girlfriend? I can make a pretty good guess.
posted by muddgirl at 5:03 PM on January 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


ex-girlfriend. The victim.
posted by muddgirl at 5:04 PM on January 11, 2010


I kind of disagree. Video games are mostly played for 'fun,' whereas in the military you train to defend the country and its "interests" through violence, killing and blowing things up - this becomes one's job/duty to do so; there seems to be an easier connection to that sort of training and acting out violence like this. Though obviously, not all military people go bonkers in this way.

Which might make sense if this was a murder, but it's not one. It's a facilitation for someone else to sexually assault, so unless we're dealing with a mindfucking CIA ex-operative, there's very little to work with as far as how his job would relate to posting something online.

I agree that there is a massive problem with sexual assault in the military, but I don't think this is one of those times where him being a Marine versus him being a firefighter pushed him over the edge.

If the community center assumes a moral hazard by allowing Patron A to communicate with Patron B via their bulletin board - as you are saying - then they assume that same moral hazard by allowing Patron A to communicate with Patron B by speaking to each other in the parking lot. After all, the parking spaces are immediately adjacent. They know the system can be abused as such.

Well, if the community center runs the bulletin board (in fact if the only reason for the community center is to run the board), don't they have some degree of moral hazard that outstrips that of people talking in the parking lot?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 5:09 PM on January 11, 2010


It is not, at this juncture, illegal to solicit someone to come over and simulate-rape you if there's no money involved (and I like it that way).

Not illegal, but Craigslist could choose not to allow it, just as they don't allow some other legal things (selling pets, for instance).
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:10 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


By the way, I'm not saying Craigslist did the wrong thing here; they clearly did the right thing by responding the moment they were informed. I was making the point that they do have a duty to their patrons and to stop sexual assault if it is within their power to detect it and stop it.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 5:11 PM on January 11, 2010


Ugh, and can we not have a full discussion of how his Marine combat training taught him to pose as his ex-girlfriend to get someone to attack her?

True. But this guy took full advantage of his training as a Marine.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:12 PM on January 11, 2010


I was making the point that they do have a duty to their patrons and to stop sexual assault if it is within their power to detect it and stop it.

...which is one of the reasons I'm curious about the response of the Natrona County Sheriff's Office.
posted by muddgirl at 5:13 PM on January 11, 2010


there's very little to work with as far as how his job would relate to posting something online.

Yes, and that "something" was a fake invitation to violently rape his ex-girlfriend.
posted by peppito at 5:18 PM on January 11, 2010


Yes, and that "something" was a fake invitation to violently rape his ex-girlfriend.

Yes, and once again, I don't think you can make a case for the Marine's making you more deviously evil to put something like this into motion. This wasn't him having a flashback to Iraq or remembering his boot camp training. I can't think of how being in the Marines would make him more or less likely to do this (unless you make the argument that military training in general makes you evil).

I was making the point that they do have a duty to their patrons and to stop sexual assault if it is within their power to detect it and stop it.

...which is one of the reasons I'm curious about the response of the Natrona County Sheriff's Office.


Oh, I am too. Though Craigslist's duty to protect might be implied, law enforcement's is explicit. I wonder if they took what they thought were sufficient precautions, or if they just blew off the whole thing as unlikely.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 5:27 PM on January 11, 2010


Savage makes some excellent points with regards to roleplay, having full consent digitally recorded beforehand, and safe words. But ...

Without getting into too much information, I have a bit of experience with roleplay. Even with safe words involved, even with very convincing partners, you can see real fear in a person's eyes. A look of "Alright, this has gone farther than I believed I was ready for". And that's where you stop.

Unlike the thoughtful soul who wrote to Savage, I don't think McDowell was interested in roleplay. It might be easy to say that maybe he's just a shitty roleplayer and can't tell real, genuine terror from convincing acting (which is what safe words were made for), but at no point during the time when he forced his way in, held her at knife point, verbally berated her, physically assaulted her and raped her, did the thought once cross his mind, "Maybe she changed her mind. Maybe her cries for me to stop are real. Maybe her tears and sobs are real. Maybe I should ask if she's OK." If those thoughts did occur to him, anyway, he never acted on them.

That, to me, strays far beyond being bad at roleplay. This is a rapist exhibiting rapist behavior. Savage's advice is good for genuine roleplayers, but would have done little to protect this woman, unfortunately. And frankly, I don't know what would have. I'm not touching the internet censorshop topic. But I do agree it's important to play safe, and have plenty of ground rules. Just a shame that, like any other subculture, it attracts its share of real idiots.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:27 PM on January 11, 2010 [41 favorites]


This is what I'm curious about. What was the response of the Natrona County Sheriff's Office after they were contacted by the girlfriend? I can make a pretty good guess.

By all accounts, the police addressed this as soon as they were notified by the victim, who called 911 immediately after she was assaulted on 12-11. Stipe was apprehended and arrested on 12-16 by police in California, and McDowell was arrested on the 17th.

I sympathize with your sentiment, and many police departments across this country (especially those in small towns,) don't have the best history of dealing with rape victims. That said, it doesn't seem her accusations were dismissed or minimized in any way, and it does look like the police acted quickly.
posted by zarq at 5:36 PM on January 11, 2010


Did Stipe commit a crime against McDowell?
posted by stammer at 5:37 PM on January 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


In terms of the response of the sheriff's office: I doubt there was much that they thought that they could do that was worth their effort at that point, in lieu of any tangible threat or evidence that someone was actively planning to take Stipe up on it. They probably didn't have enough evidence for a search warrant of Stipe's house/computer at that point, and I really doubt they would have provided protection for the woman at that point. That's just my experience (as an advocate/researcher) with law enforcement and sexual assault victims, though. There are certainly good and bad departments, and officers who are willing to devote more time to things than others. Often it just comes down to where very limited resources are devoted.
posted by emilyd22222 at 5:38 PM on January 11, 2010


I agree, Marisa. There's no way McDowell couldn't have known what was going on by the end of the rape.
The woman fought back, Steinberg said, striking the attacker with a wine rack. At that point, he punched her in the nose.

The attacker then dragged the woman into the living room area and tied her hands behind her back with a rope that had a "noose" on one end, Steinberg said. "She was fearful that she would be killed at this point," he said.

The rapist attempted to gag her with a rag but was bitten on his hand. He then blindfolded the woman with the rag, which came from the Wyoming Medical Center, Steinberg said. Authorities say the woman was raped with both a knife sharpener and penis.

"He told her several times throughout the whole thing to shut up," Steinberg said. The woman told police he held a knife at her neck during the rape.
posted by 7-7 at 5:39 PM on January 11, 2010


I looked at the Savage column linked in the post. First of all, the tips are completely from the vantage point of protecting the man.

Tip #1: Get it in writing, along with a "safe word." That doesn't protect the women in cases like this. Even if the rapist negotiates a "safe word" it will be with the ex-boyfriend who could make it any strange thing he wants.

Tip #2: Digitally record the encounter, "with her consent." Again, of course, this doesn't protect the woman in this situation. He can negotiate all he wants but it won't be with the victim.

I'd like to know, what exactly did the rapist do "wrong"? If the ad had been posted by the woman, and everything was exactly the same down to the content of the emails and his actions when he assaulted her, then it would not have been a crime. Not only that, but I'd wager most "enlightened folk" wouldn't even think it was wrong. Can't judge kinks after all. If a man has a fantasy of breaking into a stranger's house and raping her and acts out that fantasy then is he a rapist if in her mind she really does "want it"? What if he suggests a face-to-face meeting, but "she" says that would ruin the fantasy?

I can say that the kind of man I wouldn't want to be around, but that's how I feel about all men who like to humiliate and abuse women for kicks..err "kinks". I daresay I'm in the minority there, so that being the case:

Does anybody here have any ideas on how women can be protected? Obviously women on their own are not going to be able to stop men from raping them.

As per expected in a rape culture, everyone's pretty much given up on the idea of protecting women from rape. We can't have censorship (not even self-censorship) on the part of Craigslist. Better a few rapes than leave people without easy access to their kinks. Who knows, they might go crazy with all the pent-up energy and rape someone.

I think the instant that Craigslist takes ANY stand toward doing this kind of thing, they leave themselves open for culpability which bullshit happens. IANAL, but I'm sure their current openness is what protects them in some manner.

Eh, they could take a stand and just not allow the sort of thing, "legal" or not. If people want to rape for fun and fantasy maybe they need to handle these things in person.
posted by Danila at 5:43 PM on January 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Does anybody here have any ideas on how women can be protected? Obviously women on their own are not going to be able to stop men from raping them.

That's true, the community's rules won't stop a guy from kicking your door in, but women can protect themselves in a number of ways.

A digital record of your limits and your safe word, and that your potential partner has understood them. I cannot stress enough how important this is. If you record on digital camera, or in an audio recording, you sayin, "OK, my limits are no X, no Y and absolutely no Z. Within those boundaries, pretty much anything goes, but if I say 'spatula', you understand that you need to stop what you're doing immediately? Alright?" And then he says alright. Make him repeat it back to you if you want, for good measure. E-mail that video to yourself.

Most of all, it's a matter of trust. If you have any doubts, wait on it and get to know the person better. Yeah, they might get bored and move on to someone else. Who cares? Plent of fish etc.

You cannot lay down too many details with this kind of thing. It might sound tedious to an outsider but really, you can't relax until you get these things out of the way. It's one of the ways that subs actually have more control than the dom/mes, but that's a whole other story.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:51 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


In terms of the response of the sheriff's office: I doubt there was much that they thought that they could do that was worth their effort at that point, in lieu of any tangible threat or evidence that someone was actively planning to take Stipe up on it.

If email responses went through Craigslist's internal system, could they then have tracked the responders and given their names/contact info to the sheriff's department? Could the police then have at least called each responder and spoken to them, warning that an investigation was under way?

This would have precluded the need for a warrant and confiscation of his computer.

I'm not in law enforcement, but assuming there were only a handful of people who responded, that doesn't strike me as being resource-intensive. Would such a thing have been legal or feasible? Would Craigslist have cooperated to such an extent?
posted by zarq at 5:51 PM on January 11, 2010


I can say that the kind of man I wouldn't want to be around, but that's how I feel about all men who like to humiliate and abuse women for kicks..err "kinks". I daresay I'm in the minority there

I dare say you would be wrong.
posted by jokeefe at 5:54 PM on January 11, 2010


I'd like to know, what exactly did the rapist do "wrong"? If the ad had been posted by the woman, and everything was exactly the same down to the content of the emails and his actions when he assaulted her, then it would not have been a crime.

Um, no, because he didn't stop when she asked him to. Unless agreed upon beforehand that only safe words would be used to slow down or stop proceedings, this should have halted the whole scenario right there and then. No responsible person into such roleplay would have acted this way. It's rape by any definition.
posted by jokeefe at 5:58 PM on January 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


Lord Chancellor: "Well, if the community center runs the bulletin board (in fact if the only reason for the community center is to run the board), don't they have some degree of moral hazard that outstrips that of people talking in the parking lot?"

No.

If I defraud you through MeFi Mail, it is it mathowie's fault?
posted by Joe Beese at 5:59 PM on January 11, 2010


By all accounts, the police addressed this as soon as they were notified by the victim, who called 911 immediately after she was assaulted on 12-11. Stipe was apprehended and arrested on 12-16 by police in California, and McDowell was arrested on the 17th.

You misunderstand me. My question is, what actions did the sheriff's department take after they were notified of the Craigslist posting? Did they make any attempt to track down the person who made the posting?

I don't know what exact steps they could have taken, but did they take any?

7-7: That is the first I've read of the victim's experience. My doubts about McDowell, if he was indeed the perpetrator, are shrinking.
posted by muddgirl at 6:05 PM on January 11, 2010


> It reads to me as though he's been unfairly edited.

You may very well be right. As someone who has been I should be more attentive to that.

Let the vehemence of my statement instead be aimed, like a rhetorical shotgun, at anyone who wants to seriously entertain the question of censorship. Which could easily be DeeDee Correll and not District Attorney Blonigen.

But his personal preference is censorship so let's have a trial with him in the dock.
posted by clarknova at 6:08 PM on January 11, 2010


I dare say you would be wrong.

The most casual perusal of popular porn videos would indicate a lot of men are aroused by humiliation and abuse of women, assuming it's "consensual" of course. Sex is commonly portrayed as something that is done "to" women or "taken" from them.

Even if porn is too sacred to criticize, there's also BDSM itself which seems very relevant here. Right in the post:

Commenters on these articles have also noted the importance of avoiding demonizing kinks as a result of stories like these, as well as the importance of negotiating consent in person in BDSM-oriented sexual fantasies. Dan Savage has tips.

Um, no, because he didn't stop when she asked him to. Unless agreed upon beforehand that only safe words would be used to slow down or stop proceedings, this should have halted the whole scenario right there and then. No responsible person into such roleplay would have acted this way. It's rape by any definition.

Well it is very likely that I just don't know about BDSM, but I thought safe words were a standard practice precisely because words like "no" and "please stop" and screaming are all part of the fantasy.
posted by Danila at 6:08 PM on January 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


If I defraud you through MeFi Mail, it is it mathowie's fault?

Yes.
posted by clarknova at 6:09 PM on January 11, 2010


As per expected in a rape culture, everyone's pretty much given up on the idea of protecting women from rape.

On the contrary - I think we've given up on the idea that there's something that victims can do to protect themselves from rape. It seems a little tautological, but rape won't end until people stop raping. Closing down Craigslist's adult services won't stop rape. Forbidding all violent pornography won't stop rape. It's much more fundamental than that.
posted by muddgirl at 6:10 PM on January 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


>Did Stipe commit a crime against McDowell?

It seems to be a case of deceit, which is a tort (a civil wrong). I don't know anything about Californian criminal law, but I'd imagine there would be an offence of fraud corresponding to the same facts, though the prosecutor will probably think the other charges are enough.
posted by GeckoDundee at 6:11 PM on January 11, 2010


The most casual perusal of popular porn videos would indicate a lot of men are aroused by humiliation and abuse of women

So are a lot of women. Even empowered, feminist women.

It sucks that this is becoming a referendum on kinky CONSENSUAL sex. Because this case has nothing to do with consensual sex. Despite what McDowell may claim, he raped a woman, and they'll both have to live with that for the rest of their lives.
posted by muddgirl at 6:12 PM on January 11, 2010 [10 favorites]


I can't think of how being in the Marines would make him more or less likely to do this (unless you make the argument that military training in general makes you evil).

Military training may make people more callous toward violence because, again, it is part of their training/job to act out aggression with violence (e.g. shoot, bomb, hand to hand combat, etc.) in the name of protecting one's country. I think there's a stronger effect on behavior there than with video games.
posted by peppito at 6:13 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


what more could they have done?

Put a safety/legal checklist formeetups of this nature at the top of the advertisement, along with clear warnings that you could be prosecuted without 'due diligence' or whatever you to call, verifying that they are who they say they are and want what they say they want, etc.

Require credit card identity verification and/or postal address verification and/or testable contact number for posts to this section.

Ditch this section entirely and leave it to forums and spaces, that seem to largely avoid this trouble, either through use of the above or differing community mores/guidelines.

Not so hard, really.
posted by smoke at 6:17 PM on January 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ditch this section entirely and leave it to forums and spaces

But I thought Craigslist was that forum/space.
posted by ryanrs at 6:25 PM on January 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Muddgirl, ah. I see. Yes, I agree. I'd also like to know if they could legally have pursued it and if so, what action they took.
posted by zarq at 6:35 PM on January 11, 2010


IANAL, but here's a discussion of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and how it has been applied by judges regarding content providers and services which do and do not censor, including a similar sexual assault case where Myspace was found not culpable.

Military training may make people more callous toward violence because, again, it is part of their training/job to act out aggression with violence (e.g. shoot, bomb, hand to hand combat, etc.) in the name of protecting one's country. I think there's a stronger effect on behavior there than with video games.

Sorry to perpetuate this derail, but I want to make two points here. Training for combat must by necessity make people more able to engage in violence in at least some contexts (lawful orders, as part of a team). However, it sounds like the marines were already kicking this guy loose as a bad egg even before finding out about this incident, so I can hardly see how this reflects badly on them.

It seems a little tautological, but rape won't end until people stop raping. Closing down Craigslist's adult services won't stop rape. Forbidding all violent pornography won't stop rape. It's much more fundamental than that.

One could argue that it's fundamental to our psychology in part because of the incremental misogyny that we accept in our culture, but the real moral calculus here is how a few rapes stack up against infringing on the rights of a much larger group to uncensored communication. Which seems kind of callous when a benevolent force is in charge of said censorship, but less callous when the censoring force in charge is a patriarchy bent on forcing women into a subordinate role to men.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:37 PM on January 11, 2010


This could have easily happened without the internet, as many have pointed out. Stipe could have used a dead-tree classified and set the whole thing up verbally, and been just as effective.

I can't see how to hold anyone but Stipe and McDowell responsible, though I worry that McDowell will be able to avoid prosecution because as much as most of us suspect he knew exactly what he was doing, there may be no way to prove he knew it wasn't consensual.

Whether by proxy or not, Stipe is a rapist; had he not had this option to use, he might have taken the simpler route of stalking/terrifying/assaulting his ex.
posted by emjaybee at 6:49 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Military training may make people more callous toward violence because, again, it is part of their training/job to act out aggression with violence (e.g. shoot, bomb, hand to hand combat, etc.) in the name of protecting one's country. I think there's a stronger effect on behavior there than with video games.

But I don't think he was acting out aggression with violence. He as taking steps to have others act it out for him (which I feel is even more horrific). As to making a member more desensitized to mindgames, I don't think that's the Corps fault specifically. This is a very rare case and would doubt that there's enough evidence to compare these diabolical plans across several career fields. And my point wasn't video games cause violence. Saying that video games caused rape in this thread would have been just as bizarre and off-putting.


If I defraud you through MeFi Mail, it is it mathowie's fault?


I can be, especially if Mathowie didn't take steps to stop a common and foreseeable behavior. He might not be legally culpable, but if Mathowie tells people that MeFi Mail is trustworthy, and someone uses it defraud me, part of the fault can be on Mathowie. Just like an auto manufacturer is certainly responsible for safety steps they never put into place. There are limits to the Caveat Emptor position.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 6:58 PM on January 11, 2010


Before I read the [more inside] material, I'd already exclaimed out loud "Wasn't this a Law & Order: SVU episode?"

It was an NYPD Blue episode. I remember how the young woman who set up her married boyfriend's wife to be raped was absolutely shocked when she got arrested for it. Though they didn't charge the rapist, because he had kept all communications between them and proved that he had reason to believe he had consent.
posted by orange swan at 7:04 PM on January 11, 2010


But I thought Craigslist was that forum/space.

Here's the thing. Craigslist doesn't accept ads for selling pets--a perfectly legal activity--because they don't have the manpower to ensure that the ads lead to sales of pets in a way that is legal and safe.

Craigslist could just as easily refuse to accept ads for rape role-playing scenarios--a perfectly legal activity--because they don't have the manpower to ensure that the ads lead to rape role-playing scenarios in a way that is legal and safe.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:07 PM on January 11, 2010 [20 favorites]


muddgirl, On the contrary - I think we've given up on the idea that there's something that victims can do to protect themselves from rape. It seems a little tautological, but rape won't end until people stop raping. Closing down Craigslist's adult services won't stop rape. Forbidding all violent pornography won't stop rape. It's much more fundamental than that.

I don't know who you mean by "we" when you say "we've given up on the idea that there's something that victims can do to protect themselves from rape," because this is not the case in the society in which I live and I'd like to know where this place free of rape culture exists. Women are still overwhelmingly blamed for their own rapes.

I would agree that victim-blaming has gotten society nowhere, but absolving responsibility from all but the rapist is not a solution. Would some corporate responsibility on the part of Craigslist "stop" rape? No. It might be a drop in the bucket, but the bucket's awfully dry right now.

It sucks that this is becoming a referendum on kinky CONSENSUAL sex. Because this case has nothing to do with consensual sex. Despite what McDowell may claim, he raped a woman, and they'll both have to live with that for the rest of their lives.

It's not becoming a referendum, lol it's just me really who is tying one to another. I do think that rapists are to blame for raping, and I also think society at large encourages rape. I'm interested in exploring what kind of culture produces men like this. I have a problem with the idea that men humiliating, abusing, and using sexual violence against women is okay as long as it is "consensual".

I disagree that "consensual" sex is irrelevant, especially since here you have a man who had consent "in writing" (which is actually a lot more than most men get). McDowell did what many men fantasize about doing, and what quite a few of them actually do. But they excuse it just as he did, by saying she really wanted it. To me, even if she did "really want it" that doesn't make the man less of a rapist. It shouldn't be that men are aroused by the humiliation and pain of women, and so long as violent domination and subjugation are eroticized and "off-limits" for social analysis, then rape culture will just keep on churning. It's all of a same.

Here we have a rape that, if he behaved the same and she behaved the same but she says she "wanted it" (or a powerful enough entity can claim she did, like, say, pornographers or pimps), then it would suddenly be alright.

BrotherCaine, One could argue that it's fundamental to our psychology in part because of the incremental misogyny that we accept in our culture, but the real moral calculus here is how a few rapes stack up against infringing on the rights of a much larger group to uncensored communication. Which seems kind of callous when a benevolent force is in charge of said censorship, but less callous when the censoring force in charge is a patriarchy bent on forcing women into a subordinate role to men.

This is a good point. This isn't taking place in a vacuum. "Yay sex!" in a patriarchy is very much a problem. It's all well and good to pretend that this is just an isolated case of a couple of bad apples but it isn't and quite frankly never is.
posted by Danila at 7:18 PM on January 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Women are still overwhelmingly blamed for their own rapes.

Citation please.
posted by waraw at 7:38 PM on January 11, 2010


McDowell did what many men fantasize about doing

Um.... what?
posted by hippybear at 7:39 PM on January 11, 2010


waraw, what? Are you seriously asking for citations to support the idea that victims of rape are blamed?

Have a bibliography full.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:55 PM on January 11, 2010


waraw:
"Danila said: Women are still overwhelmingly blamed for their own rapes.

Citation please."

Alright. Amy M. Buddie & Arthur G. Miller (2001) Beyond Rape Myths: A more complex view of perceptions of rape victims Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, August 2001.

Amy M. Buddie & Arthur G. Miller in a review of studies of "rape myths" note that rape victims are blamed more when they resist the attack later in the rape encounter rather than earlier (Kopper, 1996), which seems to suggest the stereotype that these women are engaging in token resistance (Malamuth & Brown, 1994; Muehlenhard & Rogers, 1998) or leading the man on because they have gone along with the sexual experience thus far. Finally, rape victims are blamed more when they are raped by an acquaintance or a date rather than by a stranger (e.g., Bell, Kuriloff, & Lottes, 1994; Bridges, 1991; Bridges & McGr ail, 1989; Check & Malamuth, 1983; Kanekar, Shaherwalla, Franco, Kunju, & Pinto, 1991; L'Armand & Pepitone, 1982; Tetreault & Barnett, 1987), which seems to evoke the stereotype that victims really want to have sex because they know their attacker and perhaps even went out on a date with him. The underlying message of this research seems to be that when certain stereotypical elements of rape are in place, rape victims are prone to being blamed.


hippybear: "Danila said: McDowell did what many men fantasize about doing
Um.... what?
"

Research suggests that up to 50% of men report some likelihood of raping if they know they can get away with it. Rape attitude and behaviour and their relationship to moral development. Published in Psychiatry, Psychology and Law April 2002, with cites to dozens of studies and the methodologies of those studies.



I think Danila makes a valid point that is worth considering.

Think of the vast majority of porn on the market...almost none of it is a happy pair of equals enjoying one another's sexuality. Almost all of it is about power, and in the vast majority of "straight" porn, the power resides in a "top" male and a "bottom" woman.

"Take it baby" "You know you want it" "beg for it, whore"....

This is not the vernacular of equality.
posted by dejah420 at 8:00 PM on January 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Danila - I don't have time to respond to every point you raise, and I don't disagree with you on everything. But you seem to be hung up on the fact that McDowell had a piece of paper with "consent" on it.

Consent is not something that is granted once and then lasts in perpetuity. EVEN IN BDSM, sexual consent is something that can be given and denied at any point during the proceedings.

It is possible for me to arrange a scenario where I say "do whatever you want to me, and don't take no for an answer", and then (for whatever reason) change my mind in the middle of the encounter. IT IS MY PARTNER'S RESPONSIBILITY to assure that everything that he or she is doing is with my consent. The courts or juries may disagree with me, but I'm not speaking of legalities. I'm speaking of ethics.

In that light, by any measure, McDowell is a rapist, and nothing the victim could have done would have changed that. It's absolutely not her fault that she was raped. It was McDowell's, and to some extent the man who set her up.
posted by muddgirl at 8:01 PM on January 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Add a user-verification system so complex, expensive, and inconvenient that it would drive Craigslist out of business."

"Require credit card identity verification and/or postal address verification and/or testable contact number for posts to this section."

I'm having a hard time coming up with a system that any kind of serious ex couldn't game, especially since Craigslist doesn't even have offices in most of the cities they service. Is someone in Vancouver supposed to shlep down to San Fransisco with a notarized copy of their ID to place an Adult ad? People who you've been in a relationship with have got to be the easiest targets of identity theft ever.
posted by Mitheral at 8:03 PM on January 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't know how McDowell could be considered off-the-hook here unless he is an incredible idiot. Anyone who is moderately into the kind of fantasies he's into, who has moderately thought about pursuing them, will find out from any simple internet search of acting out the fantasy the importance of establishing clear, verbal, in-person consent from the sub as well as a detailed list of what is and is not OK. It is rare, but it does exist that people will set up scenarios where one person breaks into the house of the other to "rape" them. It also happens, though it's even rarer still, that it will be stipulated that the person playing victim is going to fight back with the force that she did and demand he use the force to submit her that he did, plus the implements (knife sharpener?). Seriously, to people who were honestly trying to act out this fantasy in a legal and consensual way it would require an amount of trust and proof of consent that would not be established over a few IM conversations. I don't know how McDowell would be unaware of this unless he was willfully so.

It is more likely that McDowell didn't want to "rape" a woman--he wanted to rape a woman.

But they excuse it just as he did, by saying she really wanted it. To me, even if she did "really want it" that doesn't make the man less of a rapist.

As I stated in the paragraph above, to people who are serious about safe, legal, consensual BDSM, these scenarios are extensively discussed, boundaries are set beforehand, and trust is established through multiple encounters that won't happen in an IM conversation. McDowell's actions are entirely different from an adult playing the part of the sexual assaulter in a rape scenario.

Frankly, calling someone who is into serious BDSM-play a rapist and the sub in the scenario a victim who has been raped is an insult to people who have actually been sexually assaulted or raped, not to mention an insult to the sub themselves. You're implying not only is the dom in the scenario sick and wrong, but the sub is also wrong for wanting to be the sub in the scenario.


It shouldn't be that men are aroused by the humiliation and pain of women, and so long as violent domination and subjugation are eroticized and "off-limits" for social analysis, then rape culture will just keep on churning. It's all of a same.

Look, in BDSM it's men aroused by the pain of women, there are women aroused by the pain of women, men aroused by men, women aroused by men, etc, etc etc. Not to mention you're excluding, as I touched on before, that yes, the subs in the scenarios do want the scenarios to happen. They do ask for it. That is kind of the point. The person in the dominant position may be "in control", but the sub is the one who sets the boundaries and stops the action when they please. Please do not get people who get turned on by doing things with other consenting adults confused with psychopaths and criminals.

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

Also, regarding "vernacular of equality" in porn . . . You don't often find the "vernacular of equality" in lesbian porn made by lesbians or gay porn either. Or porn where the woman is dominant. Incorporating power play into sex is a pretty damn common fantasy.
posted by schroedinger at 8:10 PM on January 11, 2010 [11 favorites]


Research suggests that up to 50% of men report some likelihood of raping if they know they can get away with it. Rape attitude and behaviour and their relationship to moral development. Published in Psychiatry, Psychology and Law April 2002, with cites to dozens of studies and the methodologies of those studies.

Jesus fucking christ. Okay. I guess I've never been so glad to be a gay male in my life. This explains a hell of a lot why the dominant breeder culture is so fucked up, I guess.

I'll take being chased by angry rednecks wielding baseball bats and people throwing glass bottles at me out of moving vehicles any day over participating in the mindset which this study purports to depict. Christ.

(and yes, that whole power dynamic has always disgusted me about straight porn, and no matter how hot the guy might be, it doesn't take a lot of that attitude in the midst of fucking to completely turn me off)

(Yes, I'm a fag who watches straight porn to look at the guys. Get over it.)
posted by hippybear at 8:11 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


To me, even if she did "really want it" that doesn't make the man less of a rapist.

Are you making the point here that role-play of rape with the un-coerced consent of both parties is substantially the same as rape? I have to emphatically disagree with this, and firmly believe that it's a stance that trivializes the deep sense of violation and despair that comes from being physically coerced into an activity that one doesn't want to participate in.

It shouldn't be that men are aroused by the humiliation and pain of women, and so long as violent domination and subjugation are eroticized and "off-limits" for social analysis, then rape culture will just keep on churning. It's all of a same.

Humiliation and pain for me are a subset of power differential fantasies, which, whether I engage in said fantasies or not, I will probably always find erotic. I'm not sure if they are a result of societal influence at puberty, or if they are effectively hardwired into my animal brain. Certainly, given my limited observation of the mating habits of the animal kingdom I'd argue that many of us have the seeds of sexual aggression/submission in us whether or not we fight against them.

I don't feel that my erotic imaginings have any bearing on my morality, or cause any societal harm. I have spent time in my life working for education/advocacy groups that focus on preventing campus sexual assault, work largely with women professionally, and spend much of my armchair Internet crank commenting time focussed on championing feminism and other women's issues.

You could make the argument that pornography in aggregate tends to objectify women more than men, and deny the possibility of sex positive roles for women. I'm not sure if this is entirely the fault of pornographers, or merely expresses a history of American puritanical cultural baggage that we will be a long time shedding.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:12 PM on January 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


I used to be a moderator of a BDSM-oriented Yahoo group. We had a very similar posting by (purportedly) a young woman. She (inadvertently?) included her university email address, which quickly led to her real name and address. I pulled the post as soon as I saw it and contacted her privately to discuss with her the dangers of soliciting strange men for this sort of thing. She was adamant that she did not want to meet the person beforehand, so I referred her to trusted people in her town that would be willing to vet any proposed partners. My spidey sense tells me it really was a woman, but she stopped responding after a few emails and never posted on the group again.

Before I pulled the post, there were many horrified responses from group members. I've been in the BDSM milieu for 10+ years and I can safely say that this is not the way these things are done. This has nothing to do with Craigslist and nothing to do with BDSM.
posted by desjardins at 8:12 PM on January 11, 2010 [10 favorites]


Research suggests that up to 50% of men report some likelihood of raping if they know they can get away with it. Rape attitude and behaviour and their relationship to moral development. Published in Psychiatry, Psychology and Law April 2002, with cites to dozens of studies and the methodologies of those studies.


On the other hand, this is totally fucked up.
posted by schroedinger at 8:13 PM on January 11, 2010


The consensual-BDSM angle is certainly relevant, in the sense that it's McDowell's only defense -- he claims that from his point of view, that's what he was doing.

But in my opinion, if you're into BDSM with people you don't really know, it's on you to protect yourself from wrongful prosecution and even conviction for rape, in the ways laid out by others above (prior consent in person, safe words agreed in writing, audiotaping to prove compliance with pre-set guidelines). It matters more to me that an incident like this be prosecutable than that we avoid a chilling effect on the particular sexual expression that would be affected by saying, essentially, if you break into a woman's home whom you don't know and punch her in the face and bind her up to have sex with her at knifepoint, that is all very convincing evidence of rape, and you're going to have to have a very strong defense to prove it was actually consensual-fantasy-roleplay.

In other words, it makes more sense to me to place the burden on Person A to make sure his BDSM rape-fantasy is pursued responsibly than it does to put that burden on all of womankind.
posted by palliser at 8:13 PM on January 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also, regarding "vernacular of equality" in porn . . . You don't often find the "vernacular of equality" in lesbian porn made by lesbians or gay porn either. Or porn where the woman is dominant. Incorporating power play into sex is a pretty damn common fantasy.

Yet one that is worthy of criticism and review. I've heard plenty of attempts to justify some of this by the "By the women wants it too! She thinks it's kinky!" Maybe she does, but would we still find it kinky and arousing even if she didn't? Power play dynamics should be analyzed. Of course, people are having sex even as we speak, so there's no worry that will be coming to an end.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:19 PM on January 11, 2010


Are you seriously asking for citations to support the idea that victims of rape are blamed?

I was asking for a citation stating that rape victims are overwhelmingly blamed, and I got one, for which I am thankful. I would point out the weasel-wordness of "underlying message seems to be," and that 29-51% is just that and not 51%, but I'm picky like that.
posted by waraw at 8:19 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Craigslist could just as easily refuse to accept ads for rape role-playing scenarios--a perfectly legal activity--because they don't have the manpower to ensure that the ads lead to rape role-playing scenarios in a way that is legal and safe.

Does Craig have a "rape role-play" category? If not, how is it going to ban it?

Pets do get sold on Craigslist. There's an ad on a local one today offering a couple of 16wk old kittens. It'll be deleted only if it is reported.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:25 PM on January 11, 2010


And I agree with others: this has nothing to do with the role-play subculture, any more than the German cannibal had anything to do with the fine cuisine subculture. The perps are rapists, and the dupe was not role-playing.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:30 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I guess we would have less trouble with rape if people didn't get turned on by power-play. However, people get turned on by Goddamned near everything. I suppose that you might reduce the incidence of power fetishism by discouraging rape culture and whatnot, but the only way to eliminate it would be to eliminate power, which is sort of like eliminating gravity.

Given that people get turned on by fucked-up shit, best to deal with it in the most responsible way. Denying the expression of the fetish will result in a lot of sexual frustration that gets in the way of responsible thinking, so safe/sane/consensual practices are the better option.

My fetish is for consensual heterosexual sex in the missionary position.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:32 PM on January 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe she does, but would we still find it kinky and arousing even if she didn't? Power play dynamics should be analyzed.

This is one of those situations where I would actually feel safer around someone who was open about their predilections and an active, participating member of the scene (or at least an observer) than someone who wasn't. The former generally tends to be on the up-and-up with the niceties of consent, and is in the scene precisely because they want to find consenting partners.

There are some people who are into that kind of stuff because, for whatever reason, it touches some primal part of whatever sexually arouses them, and they otherwise life psychologically healthy, ethical lifestyles where they are friendly, nice citizens who are not actually racist/sexist/whateverist. There are also people who are into that kind of stuff because some part of them is deeply sad, broken, and terrifying to anyone who witnesses it. Both groups are worth study, but I don't think the reasoning you use to do so and the conclusions you draw will lump them together.
posted by schroedinger at 8:35 PM on January 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Lord Chancellor: I've heard plenty of attempts to justify some of this by the "By the women wants it too! She thinks it's kinky!" Maybe she does, but would we still find it kinky and arousing even if she didn't?

Are you implying that we would find rape kinky and arousing?
posted by desjardins at 8:35 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


We don't know how many other candidates responded to Stipe's ad, but I expect that if Stipe (pretending to be the woman) corresponded with McDowell, one of the reasons that Stipe chose McDowell in particular would be that he didn't bring up the issue of precautions, safewords, etc, because he was either ignorant of the conventions of BDSM, or else chose to reject them. Stipe-as-woman may have interviewed other candidates; were I McDowell's defense lawyer or Stipe's prosecutor, I'd be very interested in getting his email records.

I don't feel much sympathy for McDowell, but let's go through the intellectual exercise of defending him, or at least, coming up with a way to do something like this with him as as much a target as the woman involved. Armed with full knowledge of his kinks, pressing his buttons in the right way to talk him into raping a woman who he believes has consented to the fake rape. It's possible that he raised the issue with Stipe-as-woman, who rejected it. That would have raised HUGE RED FLAGS for anyone who was legitimately and safely into this as a roleplay. So I think it's much more likely that he didn't raise the issue at all, and during the course of the instant messages (another record that McDowell's lawyer should want, and McDowell if he had any brains whatsoever--though that's doubtful--should have kept for his own protection), repeatedly reassured McDowell that such precautions were unnecessary.

So McDowell's pussyblinded by Stipe-as-woman pushing his buttons in the IM conversations. Sexual arousal is well-known to have a negative effect on capacity to exercise moral judgment. Whatever fears and suspicions he has--if he has any--are overwhelmed by the excitement of the prospect.

I can believe in this, but only up to the point where McDowell knocks on the woman's door. When he actually meets her, were this the real thing, she ought to react entirely differently from a really scared, really unaware, real victim. Remember, in McDowell's mental image of her, she has engaged in several titillating IM conversations with him, describing what she wants him to do to her in detail; there's no way that a real person would do that if they weren't into it. Which means that, if she were the real thing, she's expecting him to show up, she's anticipating his arrival with considerable excitement ... ie, consistent with what Stipe-as-woman has told McDowell. Has "she" at least set up a date and time? Even if "she" has told him "surprise me", then she's told him that because she wants to be aroused by that sense of fearful anticipation. What if she has visitors? If it were the real thing, she'd want to make sure she were home alone, surely, or anyone else there--another very basic, sensible precaution McDowell ought to have anticipated--would have to be in on it.

So the minute he knocks on her door and sees her, the game is up. Maybe as long as it takes for him to burst in, but past that I find it impossible to believe that he was unaware that he was to rape someone who wasn't expecting it. At that point, had he the brains of a bunny rabbit, he would have realized that (a) he personally had been "pranked" in the worst possible sense of the word; (b) so had she. Clearly this woman was not his email correspondent.

I don't think there's any way that McDowell doesn't deserve to be found guilty of rape, exactly as if he'd gone to any random woman's apartment and attacked her.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 8:36 PM on January 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Paypal doesn't have offices in most cities, yet credit card verification and address verification is pretty common.

I'm not positing this as some kind of silver bullet, policies are always barrier-to-entry and inertial-based, however I do feel there's a duty of care here that Craigslist clearly understands (vis their pets policy). And, if not a duty, a moral imperative - not only for this specific case but many areas of the site (and others).

I don't buy this "I'm just the messager!" shit; they are not the messager; they are the enabler.
posted by smoke at 8:39 PM on January 11, 2010


I disagree that "consensual" sex is irrelevant, especially since here you have a man who had consent "in writing" (which is actually a lot more than most men get). McDowell did what many men fantasize about doing, and what quite a few of them actually do. But they excuse it just as he did, by saying she really wanted it. To me, even if she did "really want it" that doesn't make the man less of a rapist.

...

Here we have a rape that, if he behaved the same and she behaved the same but she says she "wanted it" (or a powerful enough entity can claim she did, like, say, pornographers or pimps), then it would suddenly be alright.


There is no such thing as consensual rape. It is by definition an non-consensual act. A person who is raped does not ask to be raped. They do not want to be raped. If they did, it wouldn't be rape. There is no definition of the act of rape which defines it in any way as consensual.

If she had said that she "wanted it" (and she did not say this, her ex-boyfriend did while pretending to be her,) then it would by definition not be rape.

Please, please be very mindful of the terms you use here. As several people said above, BDSM is not rape, and confusing the two can inadvertently perpetuate ugly myths which have been used endlessly throughout history to further victimize women (and men) who have been sexually assaulted.
posted by zarq at 8:39 PM on January 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


if you're into BDSM with people you don't really know, it's on you to protect yourself from wrongful prosecution and even conviction for rape, in the ways laid out by others above

Nthing this. The BSDM angle seems an excuse for him to violently violate a woman, far, far apart from any legit interest in BDSM.
posted by desuetude at 8:43 PM on January 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


zarq If she had said that she "wanted it" (and she did not say this, her ex-boyfriend did while pretending to be her,) then it would by definition not be rape.

It would be faked rape, which is engaged in by TV, film and theatre actors very often; and presumably at least on occasion, by people into rough sex, physical domination, sado-masochism, etc. It's not one of my own turn-ons, in either direction, but I would expect that the point of actually setting up a fake rape is for it to feel enough real to sexually arouse the participants.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 8:46 PM on January 11, 2010


Paypal doesn't have offices in most cities, yet credit card verification and address verification is pretty common.

The solution seems simple then. Craigslist should set up a separate section for these types of transactions, then charge a pittance for it. They will then have a verifiable record of the transaction which can be provided to the police or Federal agents when presented with a warrant.
posted by zarq at 8:46 PM on January 11, 2010


Danila said: "It shouldn't be that men are aroused by the humiliation and pain of women"

What about women being aroused by the humiliation and pain of men? How is this not a general judgment of one's sexual preferences? Why is it wrong for someone to enjoy pain in a sexual context?


muddgirl said: "IT IS MY PARTNER'S RESPONSIBILITY to assure that everything that he or she is doing is with my consent. The courts or juries may disagree with me, but I'm not speaking of legalities. I'm speaking of ethics.

In that light, by any measure, McDowell is a rapist, [...]"


'Rapist,' however, is not an ethical definition but a legal one, at least as discussed here. Not following social conventions (and perhaps common sense) does not make one a criminal. If a person says "I want to have rough sex with no safewords and no way to stop it, do whatever you want.", then that person is absolving his/her partner of any responsibility. I'm not saying this is what happened here, nor that this is a smart thing to do, but this would be a possible case of the 'victim' taking full responsibility for what happens.

"... nothing the victim could have done would have changed that. It's absolutely not her fault that she was raped. It was McDowell's, and to some extent the man who set her up."

Agreed, though I would say it was Stipe's fault mostly, and McDowell's to some extent.

aeschenkarnos said: "I don't think there's any way that McDowell doesn't deserve to be found guilty of rape, exactly as if he'd gone to any random woman's apartment and attacked her."

The main question for the courts to decide is whether taking basic precautions and having a safeword and other common-sense things are legal requirements in the vein of due diligence. If they are, then he is a rapist; if they are not, then he is merely an extremely ignorant human being, which unfortunately is still legal around these here parts.
posted by Scarf Face at 8:51 PM on January 11, 2010


emilyd22222, I found one more Craigslist-related incident through a google search. A rapist used the service to find victims.
posted by zarq at 8:52 PM on January 11, 2010


zarq, what is the correct term for "consensual rape," then?
posted by Scarf Face at 8:53 PM on January 11, 2010


Scarf Face, it's called "rape fantasy." As in, it's not rape, it's a fantasy about rape.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:59 PM on January 11, 2010


I have a problem with the idea that men humiliating, abusing, and using sexual violence against women is okay as long as it is "consensual."

I disagree that "consensual" sex is irrelevant, especially since here you have a man who had consent "in writing" (which is actually a lot more than most men get).

To me, even if she did "really want it" that doesn't make the man less of a rapist.

Here we have a rape that, if he behaved the same and she behaved the same but she says she "wanted it" ... then it would suddenly be alright.


Ah yes, the particular brand of feminist theory that struggles to free women from the patriarchy, where their behavior is dictated and their choices are marginalized, by ... dictating their behavior and marginalizing their choices.

I'll be frank: You're just engaging in little more than an "enlightened" version of slut-shaming.
posted by Amanojaku at 9:01 PM on January 11, 2010 [9 favorites]


Lord Chancellor: I've heard plenty of attempts to justify some of this by the "By the women wants it too! She thinks it's kinky!" Maybe she does, but would we still find it kinky and arousing even if she didn't?

Are you implying that we would find rape kinky and arousing?


I was stating that many people unfortunately do, as has been mentioned. (I was also saying that sexual politics deserve scrutiny, and that we often strive for the answer we want rather than the answer that is.) Sadly, because these people often use BDSM as a cover, some of this is up to the BDSM subculture to weed out.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:02 PM on January 11, 2010


zarq, what is the correct term for "consensual rape," then?

It's usually referred to as "Consensual BDSM." In legal terms, rape = "sexual assault". Consensual BDSM is typically used to denote a range of consensual (non-rape) sexual activities.

"Rape fantasy" is sometimes used as well. (As noted by LogicalDash.)

Both terms make clear that the acts being described are not non-consensual.
posted by zarq at 9:06 PM on January 11, 2010


And HippyBear, I'm sorry to say that I've known plenty of gay men that are abusive and manipulative to their partners. Of course not a majority, but just like my sexual orientations, yours has some serious problems too.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:06 PM on January 11, 2010


L.C.: You are correct, of course. I'm just completely shocked and disgusted and dismayed to hear that more than half of the men in the heterosexual world want to rape. I'm not claiming sainthood on behalf of gay men, by any means. Just distancing myself from that particular factoid as much as possible because it is reprehensible.
posted by hippybear at 9:39 PM on January 11, 2010


hippybear I'm just completely shocked and disgusted and dismayed to hear that more than half of the men in the heterosexual world want to rape.

Firstly, I think "want" is way too strong a word. I expect it's much the same as "wanting" to beat the living crap out of some jackass who tailgated us in traffic. Utterly reprehensible if you actually did it, but almost no-one ever does, because few people are that reprehensible and un-self-controlled.

Thinking bad thoughts does not make you a bad person. Doing bad deeds does. I would say that to some extent the ability to think bad thoughts makes you a better person, in that you can anticipate what bad people might actually do, and you can be aware of what you might be capable of before you find yourself red-handed. Not thinking bad thoughts merely makes you innocent, which is just exactly like naive ignorance only cuter. Or something.

Secondly, I think "rape" is the wrong word. Caveat: I'm not a mindreader, this is just how it seems to me from observing my own mind for a good long time and observing the actions and reading/listening to the reports of the thoughts of others. Yes, we do look at the sexy woman and think "I would like to have sex with her" and if we're not distracted or otherwise busy we might actually construct a little fantasy of having sex with her, and perhaps her friend too, but I'm pretty sure--again, I'm not a mindreader--that for most of us, she in the fantasy isn't merely a consensual participant, but actively enthusiastic about it. "Male gaze" isn't something we deliberately choose to turn on, it's something we always have on unless we deliberately choose to turn it off. At the age of thirty-seven, I find that I occasionally can.

It's really interesting that you as a gay man find this surprising. I haven't exactly done a peer-reviewed statistical survey but FWIW I was under the impression that for most gay men, their "male gaze" was just as active, only the gender of the target (and let's face it, odds of a positive response if you did anything about it) differed.

Rape, though, I personally just can't get my head around. It just seems so ... utterly anthitetical ... to any sexual fantasy I've ever had. This may be TMI, but I fail as a BDSM person, at least on the sado/maso scale. Just can't bring myself to cause pain (or have pain caused to me by) someone in a sexual context. I find attraction attractive, repulsion repulsive. But maybe I'm just weird.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:16 PM on January 11, 2010


So McDowell sees the flyer tacked to the bulletin board in the local laundromat. When the laundromat owner says he's not responsible for the abuse of his communication system by two sociopaths, is bicyclefish going to accuse him of peddling "libertarian schtick"?

Craigslist is more than a laundromat - Craigslist is an innovative, purposely "disruptive" media property that makes a lot of its income from adult classifieds. It wouldn't take much to install some sort of protocol that makes Craigslist a little safer from this sort of abuse.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:30 PM on January 11, 2010


aeschenkarnos: Well, the link I was directed to above seems to suggest that there is more to it than simply aggressive male gaze. And believe me, I know all about aggressive male gaze -- for years it was one of the only ways the fags could find each other in a world which denied them living openly with their sexuality. There is a huge difference between thinking "I'd tap that" and what I see reported in that link, as you yourself point out.

And perhaps the statistics hold true for gay men as well. I just really cannot grok the mind of a person who says they would have forceable non-consensual sex with someone "if they could get away with it." So perhaps the fault lies within my own limited perception of the world which has me feeling so repulsed by this entire concept. It's not a perception I plan on expanding at any point -- I'm happy not conceiving of rape as an activity which I might want.
posted by hippybear at 10:35 PM on January 11, 2010


Craigslist is an innovative, purposely "disruptive" media property that makes a lot of its income from adult classifieds.

I thought Craigslist only charged for employment ads in major cities and for brokered apartment ads in New York City. I see on their site that they claim they make money from adult ads, but as far as I know, the "personals" section of the website remains free. I can't find any links talking about exactly what adult ads they charge for.
posted by hippybear at 10:45 PM on January 11, 2010


Nevermind. I found it. Still, that's for adult services. Personals remains cost-free.
posted by hippybear at 10:48 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Posting from my partner's account (ick, that phrase has a disturbing undertone in this thread....) to mention this:

Sidhedevil: "...rape role-playing scenarios--a perfectly legal activity..."

Don't believe it. Consensual BDSM activity may be criminally actionable in many states, and may be punishable as rape. I am aware of at least three appeals court decisions (all three post-Lawrence v. Texas) that have determined that consent is NOT a defense to forcible sexual intercourse.

If you have lexis or westlaw (or access to a local law library), see, e.g.:

In People v. Jones, a California court rejected a consensual-wakened-by-sex defense, stating: "[A] man who intentionally engages in sexual intercourse with a woman he knows to be unconscious harbors a 'wrongful' intent regardless of whether he believes she has (or she actually has) consented in advance to the act." People v. Jones, No. C045990, 2005 WL 2160425, at *5 (Cal Ct. App. Sept. 7, 2005) (quoting People v. Dancy, 124 Cal. Rptr. 2d 898, 911 (Cal. Ct. App. 2002)).

In State v. Van, the Nebraska Supreme Court held that a bottom's prior consent was not a defense to prosecution of a top in an extreme "no limits," "no safe words" BDSM relationship, citing with approval decisions holding that "any right to sexual privacy...'would be outweighed...by the State's interest in preventing violence...upon its citizens under the claimed cloak of privacy in sexual relations.'" State v. Van, 688 N.W.2d 600 (Neb. 2004).

And, in State v. Jensen, a New Mexico court rejected a rape defendant's request for a jury instruction on consent, holding that "absence of consent is not an element of the crime" of criminal sexual penetration. State v. Jensen, 118 P.3d 762 (N.M. Ct. App. 2005).

Notably, the New Mexico rape statute (or rather "criminal sexual penetration" statute) is an example of rape laws that were adopted during a movement to reform rape laws in the 1970s to eliminate non-consent as an element of rape, and simply criminalize "forcible" sex. The logic was that, under the previous laws, in which non-consent was an element of the crime, the State had to prove non-consent beyond a reasonable doubt, or no rape took place. In other words, the pre-reform law essentially presumed that all women consent to sex at all times, unless proved otherwise beyond a reasonable doubt.

The upshot being: don't presume that the rapist, McDowell's, "consent" defense will be a winner. But also, if you practice BDSM of even the most safe, sane, and consensual variety, don't necessarily presume your consent defense will be a winner either. Consult a local attorney (because I'm not your lawyer, etc......)

(Obligatory self-linking disclaimer: the above cites are drawn from research for my paper "Zones of Dignity: Sexual Privacy After Lawrence," 7 Geo. J. of Gender & L. 723 (2006))

For a somewhat more recent, apparently more comprehensive, and electronically available scholarly treatment of these issues, see also Vera Bergelson, "The Right to Be Hurt: Testing the Boundaries of Consent," 75 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 165 (2007).
posted by capnsue at 11:01 PM on January 11, 2010 [19 favorites]


On the subject of libertarian schtick -

Last year, when the furore was about the Craigslist Killah, I took Joe Beese's position: you can't blame Craigslist for the actions of its users any more than you can blame a newspaper for the actions of someone who answers a classified ad. Or, yes, mathowie for someone who answers a MeFi mail message. And so on, and so on.

I do believe that this is fundamentally true. But at the same time - yes, Craigslist has a libertarian schtick, a carefully cultivated bohemian shrug. Honestly, it's wearing out its welcome for me. Their reaction to so many of these situations seems to amount to a repeated 'eh, whatcha gonna do?' And, even if Craigslist isn't to blame, sometimes I want to say 'something. Just. do. something.'

Craigslist operates beyond the constraints that normally bind the organisations that loom over our lives, the ropes that dangle for Lilliputians to tug on. It's neither responsible to shareholders, nor accountable to public opinion, nor answerable to advertisers, nor owned by the taxpayer. This absolves it of the need to act particularly concerned when people use it to do beastly things.

Do I think Craigslist is culpable here? Not particularly. Does the idea that it's just our friendly amoral broker, and therefore above all these goings-on, rub me the wrong way? Yes, I have to say it does.
posted by bicyclefish at 11:30 PM on January 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I can see at least a sliver of possibility that McDowell did not deliberately commit a criminal act. If we give him lots and lots of benefit of the doubt for his naivete in negotiating the terms of this encounter in person, plus assume that he really did have total cluelessness about how the real BDSM community manages scenes like this (which I actually don't find all that hard to believe), then I see a set of circumstances in which he could actually have truly believed he had the woman's full consent. (For the record, I can also imagine many, many more scenarios where he knows something's fishy but decides not to care). But I can't see any interpretation of the facts as stated in that article- no matter how generous- where Stipe doesn't come out looking like a fucking monster. So I think that newspaper ran a photo of the wrong man.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 11:39 PM on January 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


Hippybear's last link refers to some of the steps Craigslist has taken to make its service safer, ostensibly.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:12 AM on January 12, 2010


Craigslist does have some type of verification system in place. The last few times I placed ads over the course of the past year or so, I had to do it via a CL account. This was for both ads in the help wanted section, and ads in the personals section.

To verify, I had to provide a phone number, and then CL would call with a code. I don't know exactly what more this verifies other than I am in fact the person who has access to the phone number I provided, but it is not 100% anonymous.

I also know that their system is intelligent enough to weed out my attempting to place a similar ad in another category from a different email address/CL account. Again, this might be as simple as them identifying my IP address, but it seems to me that if they can take these measures to prevent multiple repeat ads from piling up, they can take other measures to help protect their user base against fraud as well.

From the amount of complaints I've heard about what a bottom feeder magnet CL has become, a little more verification might even help them out in the end.

Re BDSM and knowing boundaries; I don't know how many people know all the ground rules when they first venture into it. Yes, there are some obvious things one should do to protect themselves, but these are not necessarily in the forefront of a persons mind when they suddenly get the opportunity to do the things they've fantasized about their entire life. I'm not saying at all that this guy is not culpable. There is an enormous difference, even in the most realistic roleplay, of something consensual and something not, and I doubt that the two could ever be mistaken for each other. I just don't know if everyone knows enough or is prudent enough to step back and disconnect from the horny sex part of the brain to the rational protect thyself part before acting, in particular newbies.

Again, I'm not saying that his acts are excusable, but it's easy to say that the ground rules are THIS, and everyone who participates does THIS and THIS and THIS to protect themselves, when the reality, I think, is often different.
posted by newpotato at 3:34 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also in hippybear's last link: craigslist is a lot safer than print classifieds.
posted by vivelame at 3:40 AM on January 12, 2010


The "rapist" in this situation is the guy who convinced a stranger to enact what he convinced him was a rape fantasy with his ex-girlfriend. Both the woman and McDowell are victims here. Arguments that McDowell is somehow "inherently a rapist" because he could not distinguish acting from reality is a pretty cruel retconning of what actually happened here. McDowell is massively stupid for not verifying the identity of the person he was talking to in textual chat but he does not deserve all the harsh judgements he's getting here.
posted by tehloki at 5:24 AM on January 12, 2010


in reference to zarq's comment about having a user-verification system....

i know that when i signed up to sell electronics on craigslist i had to go through some crazy thing involving them sending me a message on my cell phone etc.

of course, it's not fool proof, but i have no idea if something is in place like that with the adult personals. but zarq has a point, if the verification process is laborious like it is to sign up for paypal (haivng to wait for the deposits, verifying, etc), a would-be revenger like this wacko might get bored half-way through the process.

or not...but then i'm going to venture that most of us here just really don't think like this Stipe guy.
posted by sio42 at 6:18 AM on January 12, 2010


I'm just completely shocked and disgusted and dismayed to hear that more than half of the men in the heterosexual world want to rape. I'm not claiming sainthood on behalf of gay men, by any means. Just distancing myself from that particular factoid as much as possible because it is reprehensible.

I have known more than a few gay men who were raped by other gay men. I don't think that this is a hetero/homo issue -- this is a man issue, and an issue with how men are raised in our society.
posted by Forktine at 6:48 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think that newspaper ran a photo of the wrong man.

If you can be talked into raping someone for gods sake, what other crazy shit could you be talked into? Dangerously stupid is still dangerous.

he does not deserve all the harsh judgements he's getting here.

Bullshit.
posted by anti social order at 7:07 AM on January 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Just can't bring myself to cause pain (or have pain caused to me by) someone in a sexual context. I find attraction attractive, repulsion repulsive. But maybe I'm just weird.

If that makes you "weird", I'll join you in the weird tent.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:08 AM on January 12, 2010


That is some crazy fucked-up shit.
posted by chillmost at 7:19 AM on January 12, 2010


Rape, though, I personally just can't get my head around. It just seems so ... utterly anthitetical ... to any sexual fantasy I've ever had. This may be TMI, but I fail as a BDSM person, at least on the sado/maso scale. Just can't bring myself to cause pain (or have pain caused to me by) someone in a sexual context. I find attraction attractive, repulsion repulsive. But maybe I'm just weird.

I'm the same way. So, I don't think you're weird.

Of course, this might mean we both are weird. :)
posted by zarq at 7:20 AM on January 12, 2010


"Craigslist could just as easily refuse to accept ads for rape role-playing scenarios--a perfectly legal activity--because they don't have the manpower to ensure that the ads lead to rape role-playing scenarios in a way that is legal and safe."

Sexual experience unlike pet selling scratches a deep seated need with parties at both ends of posting. Ban it someplace and it pops up underground somewhere else or more likely several somewhere elses where it is harder to monitor and control. Craigslist has a built in example of that.

schroedinger writes "I don't know how McDowell could be considered off-the-hook here unless he is an incredible idiot."

schroedinger writes "I don't know how McDowell would be unaware of this unless he was willfully so."

Not to defend McDowell but there are a lot of stupid, foolish, ignorant or plain idiotic people out there.

schroedinger writes "As I stated in the paragraph above, to people who are serious about safe, legal, consensual BDSM, these scenarios are extensively discussed, boundaries are set beforehand, and trust is established through multiple encounters that won't happen in an IM conversation. McDowell's actions are entirely different from an adult playing the part of the sexual assaulter in a rape scenario."

Even in an internet smart place like Metafilter we get users who are confused how plain vanilla sex works. And this is about as good as it gets, the rest of the internet is worse and that doesn't include the people not smart enough to use a web browser. Expecting this kind of sophistication from from the general public with respect to a non main stream activity is a recipe for disaster.

smoke writes "Paypal doesn't have offices in most cities, yet credit card verification and address verification is pretty common.

"I'm not positing this as some kind of silver bullet, policies are always barrier-to-entry and inertial-based, however I do feel there's a duty of care here that Craigslist clearly understands (vis their pets policy). And, if not a duty, a moral imperative - not only for this specific case but many areas of the site (and others)."


zarq writes "The solution seems simple then. Craigslist should set up a separate section for these types of transactions, then charge a pittance for it. They will then have a verifiable record of the transaction which can be provided to the police or Federal agents when presented with a warrant."

And fraud and chargebacks are so rampant on PayPal they'll lock up an established account with thousands of successful transactions at apparently the drop of a hat. The bar to obfuscating or anatomizing personal information for someone wanting to post an ad for nefarious purposes is barely a line painted on the pavement.
posted by Mitheral at 7:21 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


> If you can be talked into raping someone for gods sake, what other crazy shit could you be talked into? Dangerously stupid is still dangerous.

Sure. Don't get me wrong- I think it's very likely McDowell had ample clues to intuit that this woman was an actual victim, and if that's the case, I hope to hell he's charged with rape. But Stipe knew, 100% for sure, what he was doing. "Definitely psychotic" is worse than "dangerously stupid", no?
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:24 AM on January 12, 2010


he does not deserve all the harsh judgements he's getting here.

Nah, he does.

I think I follow your thinking, which is that if BDSM consensual-rape-play is okay, then acting out this scenario is okay, too, and his failure to set up proper precautions was like a failure to put on a seat belt -- stupid, surely, and naive about the dangers, but not necessarily malicious.

But this is upside-down, in my opinion. The carefully constructed consent, the boundaries, the safe words are what make it not rape.

If there is not a way for the person to stop it at any time, it is rape, no matter what was agreed to beforehand. This is a necessary corollary to the idea that consent must be ongoing, which applies to any sexual activity.

It's wrong -- not just naive, but wrong and not true, ongoing consent, therefore rape -- to start a situation like this with no way for the other person to stop it.
posted by palliser at 7:34 AM on January 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


McDowell is massively stupid for not verifying the identity of the person he was talking to in textual chat but he does not deserve all the harsh judgements he's getting here.

He went into her house, beat the shit out of her, blindfolded and otherwise restrained her, partly with a noose so that she believed she was going to be killed, and attacked her with a knife sharpener as well as raping her. He deserves every bit of the harsh judgements he's getting here, and more. Considering the degree of harm he caused, I doubt that "I thought she wanted it" is going to fly as a defence.
posted by jokeefe at 7:38 AM on January 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


And fraud and chargebacks are so rampant on PayPal they'll lock up an established account with thousands of successful transactions at apparently the drop of a hat. The bar to obfuscating or anatomizing personal information for someone wanting to post an ad for nefarious purposes is barely a line painted on the pavement.

I didn't say they should use Paypal. There are plenty of systems available which are not subject to either PayPal's draconian tactics or vulnerability to fraud. Experian, Verisign, Amazon all provide similar services with a decent reputation for security.
posted by zarq at 7:43 AM on January 12, 2010


That isn't to say that they can't be tricked, by the way. Just that they have a better rep than Paypal.
posted by zarq at 7:49 AM on January 12, 2010


Read most of the posts here and first off, this is horrible. I feel so bad for the girl. She didn't deserve this. Stipe is a real POS with serious problems. McDowell also has problems. (I like kinky stuff too but to answer an ad on Craiglist to roleplay rape a person that you have never met in person before, goes far beyond two adults doing what gets them off. It is sick and disgusting.) McDowell deserves to be charged with rape for what he did. In fact I'm glad he is going to jail. This probably stopped other rapes from happening. I feel this was the minor leagues to the real thing in his mind. As for Stipe, I wish he could be put to death for this. He is human filth in my mind right now.

Also Craigslist should shoulder some of the blame. At one point they need to step in and say wait a fucking minute... is this woman asking to be raped?!?!?! The ad should be pulled and all information given to the police. There has to be a line drawn and I think fantasy rape is an excellent place to draw it at.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:50 AM on January 12, 2010


Craigslist could easily add a section to its TOS saying "no solicitations for rape role-play scenarios," just as it has a "no selling pets" section in its TOS. And yes, that would mean that the readers would have to flag those entries for them to get taken down, because that's how Craigslist rolls, but it's something they could do.

And solicitations for rape role-play scenarios are handled on BDSM boards with a lot more due diligence, as desjardins describes above. I don't see any problem with solicitations for rape role-play scenarios being managed by people who are experienced in BDSM culture, rather than just flung up on Craigslist.

It's not inappropriate censorship for Craigslist to choose not to handle stuff they're not up to.

In the swing-party scene, it's a quite usual practice for party organizers to insist on speaking with both members of a couple before giving them an invitation--this is one way of making sure everyone is operating in an atmosphere of informed consent. It would seem to me that, when brokering a rape role-play scenario, at least that level of due diligence would be prudent.

Now, yeah, Stipe could have hired some woman to pretend to be the girlfriend on the phone with the folks from the BDSM board. But it's another barrier to entry.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:03 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Scarf Face, it's called "rape fantasy." As in, it's not rape, it's a fantasy about rape.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:59 PM on January 11 [+] [!]


Rapist and serial murderers normally fantasy heavily on what it would be like before they actually start raping and killing. They mentally learn/program themselves to think that there is nothing wrong with their behavior and that hey it'll be fun! Don't try and justify McDowell's act by saying something like he just has fantasies. Bundy and Dahmer had fantasies. McDowell has issues and deserves to be sent to prison to rot for all I care. In fact I'm going out on a limb here, ANYONE who has "break into a house of a person that I have never met before face to face, grab and rip said person's clothes off, then put a knife to her throat, and then forcefully have sex with her" fantasies is FUCKED UP... not only by my standards but by 99.9% of the populations.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 8:09 AM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't think that stupidity is a defense unless one is so significantly cognitively impaired that understanding basic concepts of right and wrong are difficult. McDowell had ample opportunity during this entire thing to stop and consider what was going on before he went through with it.

Certainly, any system can be gamed by malicious people. That doesn't mean that it's automatically a bad idea to raise the bar just a little bit higher to encourage people to think twice before doing it.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:13 AM on January 12, 2010


I'm just completely shocked and disgusted and dismayed to hear that more than half of the men in the heterosexual world want to rape.

The pullquote said "Research suggests that up to 50% of men report some likelihood of raping if they know they can get away with it." The finding was apparently that 29-51% of college students reported such when they were interviewed in 1985. So it's more like a third of college males 25 years ago reported they would rape if they could, not that they wanted or preferred to.

That's still an appalling number, and the caveats I mentioned don't really negate the point in which it was originally brought up, but it's not nearly the same thing as saying "most straight men want to rape somebody."
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 8:15 AM on January 12, 2010


. So it's more like a third of college males 25 years ago reported they would rape if they could, not that they wanted or preferred to.

What does that even mean? "Sure I'll rape a chick, but my heart really isn't in it so it doesn't count?"

From where I type, it looks like your doing some major contortions to justify the desire to rape but I can't fathom why.
posted by anti social order at 8:23 AM on January 12, 2010


Nope, just clarifying an inaccurate statement that hadn't been challenged.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 8:33 AM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Research suggests that up to 50% of men report some likelihood of raping if they know they can get away with it."

What was the definition used when they said rape? Was it physical abuse and forcefully have sex with a woman or was it would you "do her" if you had the chance? AND was it for sexual gratification or for power over someone? Also what does some likelihood mean? Is that grab an ass and run away, get drunk and screw, or is it violent, power rape?

Rape most of the time is not about having sex with someone but it is about having power over someone. It is about being in complete control and having that person fear you. So when you throw up a phantom research report about 50% of men wanting to rape I call Bull Shit. If this was true don't you think that rape would be a more widespread pandemic problem?
posted by Mastercheddaar at 8:52 AM on January 12, 2010


If this was true don't you think that rape would be a more widespread pandemic problem?

It is.
posted by anti social order at 9:02 AM on January 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


A friend of mine had naked pictures of himself posted on craigslist by his ex-gf in casual encounters, looking for guys. His phone rang off the hook for days.

Back in the early 1980s, a woman friend of mine told me a story about one of her friends--he had loaned a couple of thousand dollars to someone he knew, someone who kept shining him on when he tried to get repaid. After some months, the lender put a personal ad in the local Gay News, saying basically, 'I'm into the rough stuff--from truckers...'' and gave the debtor's street address, saying 'No need to call, I like surprises.'

Well, the debtor was married with children and lived on a quiet back street in the Northend. And after several visits from interested truckers, he was forced to move. And the local Gay News changed their personals policy after that--walk ins had to present ID, both they and callers had to verify their phone numbers and could not give out their addresses and the staff had to check every ad to make sure it was on the level. And all this was before cell phones and the internet.
posted by y2karl at 9:03 AM on January 12, 2010


And the local Gay News changed their personals policy after that--walk ins had to present ID, both they and callers had to verify their phone numbers and could not give out their addresses and the staff had to check every ad to make sure it was on the level. And all this was before cell phones and the internet.

I think it worth mentioning that both The Gay News and Soldier of Fortune (cited above) must have already had a built-in system for editorial oversight before the problematic ads were submitted. Ads had to be reviewed and approved by someone at the publication before they were released to the public.

To the best of my knowledge, Craigslist does not. It seems obvious that they need a better system than "Our users tell us when something is wrong and then we act." An official moderator of those boards or reliable verification or something.
posted by zarq at 9:12 AM on January 12, 2010


Of course, juries have acquitted gang rapists who filmed their victims passed out on camera on the basis of probable doubt of consent, so a successful defense here would disappoint, but not surprise me.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:44 AM on January 12, 2010


I agree, Marisa. There's no way McDowell couldn't have known what was going on by the end of the rape.

He went into her house, beat the shit out of her, blindfolded and otherwise restrained her, partly with a noose so that she believed she was going to be killed, and attacked her with a knife sharpener as well as raping her. He deserves every bit of the harsh judgements he's getting here, and more. Considering the degree of harm he caused, I doubt that "I thought she wanted it" is going to fly as a defence.

I feel MacDowell's ultimate culpability depends somewhat on the degree that Stipe set this up. If all the actions MacDowell took were "orchestrated" by Stipe in advance, MacDowell could have felt he was simply doing everything she wanted. It all depends on the details. Stipe could have told MacDowell to hit her, could have told him that "If I fight back, ignore me." Stipe could have requested the noose, the knife, all of it, as part of the fantasy.

He definitely should have verified their identity; any couple actually engaging in this would surely have a safeword; he is clearly an idiot for not seeing the reality of the situation. But I don't know if these "should haves" shifts culpability from Stipes who, regardless of MacDowell's ultimate charge, deserves a harsher a sentence than MacDowell.
posted by The3rdMan at 10:06 AM on January 12, 2010


I just don't know if everyone knows enough or is prudent enough to step back and disconnect from the horny sex part of the brain to the rational protect thyself part before acting, in particular newbies [to the BDSM community.]

Well, I can speak from my own experience that desjardins et al are correct - forums for those interested in roleplay are rigorously moderated. From what I've seen, you know what drives most newcomers away? "Too many rules."

A lot of so-called dom/mes (or prospective dom/mes, if you will) will come into a forum believing that because he's a narcissistic bully, this means every sub on the forum is going to drop to their knees at the mere sight of him. These people learn pretty fast that, as I said earlier, it's the subs who ultimately have the control. Subs set the limits, they set the boundaries. When they say you're done, you're done.

A lot of pretend dom/mes don't get this at all. They hate the getting-to-know-yous, the gradual process of going from chat IM to exchanging MSN addies, to exchanging pics, to going on cam, to talking on the phone, to possibly meeting. Between every step along the way, the sub is the gatekeeper. 19 times out of 20, you will never get beyond chat IM. The mind of the pretend dom/me boggles at this. "But they're submissive. Why is the sub calling all the shots?"

Because it's the sub who is surrendering his or her mercy to another human being for the purpose of fantasy fullfilment. Hence trust is pretty freakin' important. The social implications of where these fantasies come from aren't really that easy to pin down. Human beings are greatly varied people, and their motivations are numerous. I don't think the phenomenon should be oversimplified. I will say, though, that every genuine sub (as opposed to someone just an emotional wreck) that I've encountered has had an incredibly solid self-esteem and sense of identity.

It's roleplay. It's an informed and consensual act between two adults based on mutual respect and mutual trust. They're playing, in other words, with a very strict rulebook written by the sub. Not everyone has the patience to deal with all the rules. These people aren't welcome to play.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:14 AM on January 12, 2010 [10 favorites]


I think it worth mentioning that both The Gay News and Soldier of Fortune (cited above) must have already had a built-in system for editorial oversight before the problematic ads were submitted.

Well, for a fact, I have to say that I have always had mixed feelings about the story my friend told me, even more so now that I look at it written down. It seems more like a revenge fantasy than act of revenge, and your suggestion above is one reason. It does seem dubious that any paper would take such an ad verbatim and run it, let alone not check it out. So, I was likely repeating a fireside fable. My bad.
posted by y2karl at 10:22 AM on January 12, 2010


Subs set the limits, they set the boundaries. When they say you're done, you're done.

I agree, and if a "sub" insists that they have no limits or boundaries, that's a huge red flag to the top that they shouldn't be played with. (My favorite online counterpoint to this was "great, pull your pants down, go get a hammer and a nail and turn on your webcam." Strangely, that was always the end of the conversation.)
posted by desjardins at 10:36 AM on January 12, 2010


I usually took "I have no limits or preferences" to mean "I don't know what my limits are preferences are." Cue a very long conversation about hypotheticals. Assuming I had the patience that day.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:41 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


“In fact I'm going out on a limb here, ANYONE who has "break into a house of a person that I have never met before face to face, grab and rip said person's clothes off, then put a knife to her throat, and then forcefully have sex with her" fantasies is FUCKED UP...”

That sort of implies that the person who has the “break into my house and ‘rape’ me” fantasy is fucked up as well. Not that I totally disagree. I went out with some women who were into bdsm in varying degrees. One wanted me to hit her as hard as I could. I think there’s a breakdown there in some people where they feel it’s ok, or they should or have to, do something someone else tells them.
Especially when it comes to sex. Perhaps it’s an insecurity. But I think that is more fucked up than the act itself. Although that gets into the whole Milligram experiment ground. How far do you go if someone tells you to keep going?
(This particular woman I took the gym, put her in ½ a redman suit and gave her a kicking pad and hit that as hard as I could. Knocked her down and slid her some distance. I am not going to “really” hit anyone as hard as I can unless I absolutely have to in order to protect myself or someone else whether they want me to or not).
So perhaps the thinking that consent gives you a license to do something truly dangerous to someone is fucked up. Even if I was really into something like this, there’s no way I’d put a real knife to someone’s throat during sex.
Too much of a chance something can go wrong. Let’s say you’re both completely into it, but your hand is sweaty and she throws her head around when she has an orgasm. Whoops, you’ve cut her carotid artery. Nah, some things are just too dangerous (and perhaps ‘fucked up’) even if there’s consent all around.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:49 AM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Does anyone know the legal answer to the mens rea question? Does it only have to be rape in the victim's mind, or does the perp also have to think it is rape?
posted by rtimmel at 10:50 AM on January 12, 2010


Rape most of the time is not about having sex with someone but it is about having power over someone. It is about being in complete control and having that person fear you.

The idea behind "rape is about power not sex" is to emphasize that the rapist and the victim do not have a sexual relationship. It doesn't mean that rape is not a sexual act whatsoever. If you just want to terrify someone with power, you could rob them or beat them.

I think that 50% "wanting to rape if they could get away with it" sounds suspiciously hysterical, though I do think that there are an awful lot of men who have highly situational ethics regulating their own personal interest in consent. Reading rape trial transcripts while rape shield laws were still in their infancy is a pretty horrifying window through which to view the recent past.
posted by desuetude at 10:52 AM on January 12, 2010


Does it only have to be rape in the victim's mind, or does the perp also have to think it is rape?

It's never the case that an act can be rape only based on the victim's perception. The accused must have a guilty state of mind (mens rea), whatever the standard for that is.

Here, the question would be whether, when determining the accused's state of mind, you use a "reasonable person" standard, or whether you use a completely subjective standard. Under the "reasonable person" standard, a reasonable person would have to believe, under the circumstances, that what he was doing was not rape. Under the completely subjective standard, on the other hand, as long as the defendant subjectively believed that what he was doing was not rape, no matter how fanciful the justification, he walks. (Assuming the jury believes him.)

In the jurisdiction here, it seems from what the DA said that there is a "reasonable person" standard -- that even if he subjectively believed it was not rape, he has to pass the further bar that a reasonable person under those circumstances would not believe they were raping someone.
posted by palliser at 12:02 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am having trouble accepting the argument that Craigslist is without blame. If Craigslist had an internal email system for responding to personals and could track email replies to fraudulant ads, they would have been able to contact any responders to the fake add and warned them that they had been victims of fraud. Simple. There are plenty of personals that do this. If Craigslist is unwilling to put the effort into providing a safe personals service then they have no business providing the service at all. Sounds like a civil case to me and I hope she sues them. This coming from someone who abhores litigious behavior.

Like many of the rest of you, I believe that McDowell had a responsibility to insist on a face to face meeting to negotiate the terms and limits of the encounter. Not doing so is unexcusable. He was obviously uninterested in obtaining consent and is therefore a rapist and will be tried as such. The description of the rape and the victim's efforts to fight back are heartbreaking and terrifying.

Stipe would also be tried and convicted of rape if I were in charge of the world. He probably won't be though, and that really sucks. As the master mind behind this, he is ultimately responsible for the outcome and should rot in jail.
posted by dchrssyr at 12:29 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


smedleyman I went out with some women who were into bdsm in varying degrees. One wanted me to hit her as hard as I could.

Mine wanted me to squeeze her neck. I started, carefully, to apply a little bit of pressure. Now I'm not a very strong man. I am stronger than my height/weight would lead one to expect (build of a Thai laborer is the nicest compliment I've ever got on it), but still, I'm not the first guy you'd pick to move furniture. All the same, I realized after a half-second of doing this that to crush her esophagus, or tear into her carotid artery, would be easy.

Those are not thoughts I wanted to be thinking about her. I'm no pacifist. There are people in this world, plenty of 'em, whom I would gladly strangle and step over with a clear conscience and a light heart. But she isn't on that list. "You really don't want to hurt me, do you?" she said. "Sorry, no, I really don't," I said. But it was OK. She wanted to be hurt, a bit, from time to time, but was willing to let herself be loved too.

Too much of a chance something can go wrong. Let’s say you’re both completely into it, but your hand is sweaty and she throws her head around when she has an orgasm. Whoops, you’ve cut her carotid artery. Nah, some things are just too dangerous (and perhaps ‘fucked up’) even if there’s consent all around.

Yes - and the solution the girl I mention above goes to a club, they called it Hellfire, for that kind of thing. A safe and non-judgmental environment where if something like that did go wrong, someone else could interrupt "the scene" (they called it - which implies that one needs a level of exhibitionism too, but fortunately fetishes of a feather flock together) to help. I'm pretty sure that consensual rape fantasy roleplay would be most safely and easily done in that environment, and willing and trustable (and disease free!) other participant(s) found.

It's not a side of her life that I really want to be involved in. I'm curious about it of course, but on the other hand, I'm well aware it's not my thing and don't see what she or I would gain from my poking my nose in - and her in pain, even if I know it's with her consent, isn't something I want to see or even know about, really. I can't say I approve as such, not that my approval is required, but I don't disapprove either. On the whole, I think it's a good solution.

Ah well. Classic tale of "straight(-ish) guy meets bondage girl" I guess. Beats all hell out of "straight(-ish) guy meets World of Warcraft and internet porn".
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:17 PM on January 12, 2010


Before Craigslist, I knew a guy who met a woman while attending AA. They got together and he complained to me later that she really preferred to have sex as a rape fantasy. Like almost every time. He got kind of tired of it. His girlfriend was thrilled by the idea of being raped (yes I know, just pretend, but still.) A nice, steady-seeming woman, with nice kids, librarian type, glasses, a pleasant enough person. One never knows, do one?

Back in my Uni days, I went to UCSC. Due to a bit of campus-computer-net consulting I did, I became aware of the lesbian forums (there were many lesbians at UCSC), and continued reading them. They were thick with rape fantasies.
posted by telstar at 4:42 PM on January 12, 2010


"the scene" (they called it - which implies that one needs a level of exhibitionism too[...]

Actually, most people call it "scening" at home too, and there are plenty of non-exhibitionists in BDSM. But you're right, the dungeon/public playspace environment is perfect for rough scenes, because someone can and will intervene if it goes wrong. I've never actually seen this, though; people don't generally tend to violate another's consent with a dozen witnesses. Also, certain activities are usually banned outright from dungeons; for example, the ones I've been to do not allow breathplay. Any kind of prolonged choking would be stopped.

(and disease free!)

I have no idea why you'd think this - the chances of meeting someone with an STD at a dungeon aren't any different than meeting someone at a nightclub. In any case, *most* BDSM activity has little/no risk of disease transmission, since the skin isn't broken. Obviously, precautions should be taken with things like needleplay or whipping that draws blood.
posted by desjardins at 4:45 PM on January 12, 2010


She wanted to be hurt, a bit, from time to time, but was willing to let herself be loved too.

I'll spare you the graphic descriptions, but I think it's important to emphasize that loving and hurting are not necessarily contradictory, at all. And this applies to the hurter and the hurtee, as it were -- both roles lend themselves to as much or as little love as the people involved want to supply.
posted by Forktine at 4:57 PM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I read a similar scenario in this study guide for criminal law. Rape law varies from state to state. In most states, mens rea is NOT a necessary element when the force used is more than what is needed to complete the act. Essentially, if you come up to someone, put a knife at their throat, and then have sex with them, it doesn't matter if you meant to rape them or not. It's rape. There are other elements involved and it is complex law. Of course this is as far as I know, I am not a lawyer or law student, and please, lawyers, correct me if I'm wrong.

In public activities/clubs/etc there is often BDSM (spankings, bondage, etc) but no sex/sexual touching. Legally, it can be a dangerous combination.
posted by kathrineg at 5:16 PM on January 12, 2010


i'm so glad i actually read this thread and didn't just take danilla's summary at face value. as always metafilter, over all, i am very proud of your ability to look at multiple angles and approach difficult topics with reason and compassion.
posted by nadawi at 5:38 PM on January 12, 2010


typo - danila.
posted by nadawi at 5:38 PM on January 12, 2010


In most states, mens rea is NOT a necessary element when the force used is more than what is needed to complete the act. Essentially, if you come up to someone, put a knife at their throat, and then have sex with them, it doesn't matter if you meant to rape them or not. It's rape. There are other elements involved and it is complex law.

I'd quibble a bit with that interpretation -- in that instance, you do have mens rea, it's just an objective* standard for mens rea: that a reasonable person, on doing what you did (knife at throat, then sex), would understand it as rape. It doesn't exactly mean "mens rea is not required." It's always required. It just means that in order to determine the defendant's mens rea, we'll use this (objective) standard, versus that (subjective) standard.

*I mean that in a technical sense, not in a "no one could possibly argue with this interpretation because it's objective" sense.
posted by palliser at 4:54 AM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the clarification/correction, palliser--I'm not 100% on all of the terms.
posted by kathrineg at 6:06 AM on January 13, 2010


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