Skip

Who's Your Daddy?
December 14, 2004 5:37 PM   Subscribe

Protective Pairing for Punks: a primer on sexual relationships in prison. (no images, text mildly NSFW) Also: The Lexicon of Prison Slang, and essays by condemned prisoner Michael Hunter.
posted by fandango_matt (149 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
memo to myself:

don't go to prison
posted by buriednexttoyou at 6:12 PM on December 14, 2004


Off topic: Buried Next To You sounds like they should be opening for Taking Back Sunday.

On topic: I'd try to find a daddy who's clean and has a good sense of humour. Looks aren't everything.
posted by Kleptophoria! at 6:15 PM on December 14, 2004


And he has to have a nice smile.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 6:21 PM on December 14, 2004


Disturbing article. I'm not into constantly losing fights only to get raped at the end. And no way would I catch for someone.

I would either become a jocker, or stay in solitary. Unbelievable - what a different world.

One thing not covered - is there any racial preference in the average Protective Pairing? Do white guys stay with white guys, etc.?
posted by iwearredsocks at 6:22 PM on December 14, 2004


There's great stuff at prisonwall.org. Thanks for these links.
posted by greasy_skillet at 6:30 PM on December 14, 2004


It's not so bad, iwearredsocks. You can finally get your g-spot stimulated the way God surely intended.
posted by Kleptophoria! at 6:30 PM on December 14, 2004


Does anyone know what Michael Hunter's crime was?
posted by bingo at 6:30 PM on December 14, 2004


Oh. My. God. It's one thing to joke about "Federal Pound-Me-In-The-Ass Prison," but this article's matter-of-fact presentation exposes the horror. Can't prison authorities do something about this? Like maybe investigate and prosecute all rapes?
posted by letitrain at 6:33 PM on December 14, 2004


Cruel and Unusual punishment if there every was one.
posted by chaz at 6:34 PM on December 14, 2004


No Lube in Prison.
posted by digitalis at 6:39 PM on December 14, 2004


http://archive.aclu.org/library/donnyobt.html
posted by dmd at 6:48 PM on December 14, 2004




iwearredsocks, I don't think you get to chose whether you become a jocker or a punk. It's pretty much determined for you by how pretty you are.

chaz - cruel, yes. Unusual, not so much.

Very disturbing in it's attitude of "accept that you'll be regularly raped, but you get to chose how". However it's an attitude born of a practical mindset, no matter how sick it seems to those of us not forced to make that choice (hey, any MeFites logged in from Rykers? Holla.)

On preview: ltracey's facts about Stephen Donaldson explain why it's such a practical piece.
posted by cosmonik at 6:53 PM on December 14, 2004


Ah yes, there's nothing to get red-blooded men fired up about rape than a good ol' drop-the-soap-story.

(By the way, it happens to a woman about once every 2 minutes, according to the DOJ.)

This was a great post. But the comments are myopic. And they suck.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:56 PM on December 14, 2004


It's not so bad, iwearredsocks. You can finally get your g-spot stimulated the way God surely intended.

Why is raping prisoners ok to joke about? We're talking horror here. Sometimes I wish the PC brigade would jump on phrases like 'federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison' rather than the other stupid things they waste time on (merry christmas).

I'm not just whining, I'm just saying that it's time everyone became absolutely intolerant of levity about prison rape.

mudpuppie: I think we can all agree that the problem women being raped outside prison is given far more attention than the women being raped *in* prison.
posted by Firas at 6:59 PM on December 14, 2004 [1 favorite]


I think Iwearredsocks grossly overestimates the level of choice he would have available to him in prison.

letitrain - Sure, prison officials could greatly cut down, though probably not stop, prison rape. As a rule they don't want to. It's a way to keep the prisoners in line.

I know a guy who was in prison for a couple years. He claims he was innocent, and I tend to believe him. That is immaterial for the purpose of this anecdote. When the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, he was flabbergasted. He seriously has no idea why it made such a splash... according to him, similar and worse things happen with the full knowledge and consent of prison authorities every single day in the United States. Why was everyone getting so upset over some prisoners in Iraq being treated this way when prisoners right in the USA are regularly subjected to rape and abuse?

I didn't have much of an answer for him.
posted by Justinian at 7:02 PM on December 14, 2004


A buddy of mine had a roomate who'd been in prison from age 19 till 32, and had been out a few years at the time. Dude meets the woman he'll later marry. After the first time they have sex, he jumps off of her, rolls over pulls his legs up over his head and says "Ok, now its my turn!"

Same friend has a button that says "Everything I know about love, I learned in prison."

I love prison humor.
posted by clubfoote at 7:03 PM on December 14, 2004


PS. And I know that there's not a monolithic PC brigade.
posted by Firas at 7:04 PM on December 14, 2004 [1 favorite]


Why is raping prisoners ok to joke about?

Because we're not in prison. Same reason it's okay to make fun of Iraqis. And the poor.
posted by graventy at 7:07 PM on December 14, 2004


Wow. The section at the end on Adaptation was really interesting. It must be compleley world-altering to start out a jail-sentence straight and then slowly have your identity punk'd.

Reading stuff like this reminds me of the kind of horrific practices that happened in previous centuries of human history and in animal tribes. Not much has changed, in some ways.
posted by painquale at 7:09 PM on December 14, 2004


By the way, it happens to a woman about once every 2 minutes, according to the DOJ

In the ass?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:11 PM on December 14, 2004


graventy: I don't mean to derail, so I'll shut up after this, but *IT'S NOT OK*. Is it ok to make jokes about blacks being stupid? Is it ok to joke about women outside jail being raped?

In fact, I'd say it's only ok if you *are* in prison.
That's all. I wish I could put this across in a more convincing way, but it's really a heartbreaking issue, whether in female or male prisons.
posted by Firas at 7:12 PM on December 14, 2004 [1 favorite]


By the way, it happens to a woman about once every 2 minutes, according to the DOJ

In the ass?


And while in state custody?
posted by greasy_skillet at 7:16 PM on December 14, 2004


By the way, it happens to a woman about once every 2 minutes, according to the DOJ

In the ass?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:11 PM PST on December 14


Does it really fucking matter?
posted by mudpuppie at 7:21 PM on December 14, 2004


"reminds me of the kind of horrific practices that happened in previous centuries ... Not much has changed" - except maybe to get worse. This is just nasty.
posted by arse_hat at 7:23 PM on December 14, 2004


Heh, actually that is nearly a pun. "Does it really fucking matter?" Hm.
posted by TwelveTwo at 7:25 PM on December 14, 2004


Here's a hint. And a friendly one, at that.

If it's possible, or even likely, that it's a really traumatic thing that's been experienced by someone in the room, don't make a stupid joke about it. That's all.

Now. Make that funny.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:34 PM on December 14, 2004


mudpuppie, using that criteria, no one is allowed to say any jokes here.

Sure, prison officials could greatly cut down, though probably not stop, prison rape. As a rule they don't want to. It's a way to keep the prisoners in line.

Then my next question is "what can be done about it?" Citizen oversight?
posted by letitrain at 7:41 PM on December 14, 2004


Legislation and persecution.
posted by Firas at 7:46 PM on December 14, 2004 [1 favorite]


mudpuppie, using that criteria, no one is allowed to say any jokes here.

Oy. When it happens to you, let's revisit. I've got some killer rape kit jokes.

Then my next question is "what can be done about it?" Citizen oversight?


Fair question and valuable question.

And that's what this post warrants.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:50 PM on December 14, 2004


Nothing will be done about it until people actually give a crap. Most people are willfully ignorant; see my comment about Abu Ghraib. Sure, if you rub their faces in it most adults come out against prisoner rape, but on the list of things they worry about it ranks somewhere done near the bottom.

I know I sound like a fatalist, but I don't see much chance of significant improvement. I think a far more effective tactic is drug law reform. Keep people who don't belong in jail out of jail and you prevent them from being raped.

Now, people who DO belong in jail do NOT deserved to be raped either, but we need to concentrate on what we can achieve.
posted by Justinian at 7:52 PM on December 14, 2004


Sure, if you rub their faces in it most adults come out against prisoner rape, but on the list of things they worry about it ranks somewhere done near the bottom.

Nail + head.

Most people agree that rape -- regardless of the sex of the victim -- is a human rights violation.

Not everyone agrees that convicted felons' human rights shouldn't be violated.

There's yer trouble.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:56 PM on December 14, 2004


Well, there's a cultural awareness issue: that a person in prison is not a worthless monster, just as someone who's listed as a sexual predator shouldn't have vigilante justice visited upon them. This each of us can start doing, right *now*. I know it's easier to call out a prison-rape joke on Mefi than on (say) Fark, but at least in other Mefi-like environments and civilized discussions. (Not that it will make a big difference though.)

Then there's the fact that so many people are in prison for stupid things (drug crimes etc.) This is clearly a political activism issue.

Then there's the fact that prison rape is clearly illegal; what can be done to enforce the law? I have no clue.

(I only started caring about this when I read Sidney Sheldon's If Tomorrow Comes; there's a part where the (female) protagonist is in jail. Like, 'oh my god'! But I know most people aren't moved by novels. Maybe some star director should make a heartwrenching documentary about it. Awareness is the key here.)
posted by Firas at 8:02 PM on December 14, 2004 [1 favorite]


If inmates were given the tools to sue the prison that allowed rapes to occur, I'll bet there would be some action. Sometimes the best way to get a huge institution to change is to hit it in the wallet.

The bottom line is all they understand... no pun intended.
posted by letitrain at 8:12 PM on December 14, 2004


Most of you depress the hell out of me.
posted by Adam Greenfield at 8:17 PM on December 14, 2004


Then there's the fact that prison rape is clearly illegal

Come on.

Violation is violation. The only real story here is that it sometimes happens to men. No less a tragedy. No more a tragedy.

It is pretty much always perpetuated by men.

Now. What can we do about it?
posted by mudpuppie at 8:38 PM on December 14, 2004


Firas and co. I apologize if my g-spot comment offended anyone. I was sort of mocking the idea that you can decide if you want to catch or pitch in prison.

Also, I read from Durex or something that g-spot stimulation was the best stimulation some men claim to have ever had, so I was sort of reminded of that when reading about the 'punks' who come to enjoy it up the ass. And isn't it sort of interesting to read about these "couples" who fall in love? Would that be Stockholm Syndrom or something? I thought the article was really interesting. Not a rainbow of delights or anything.

I mean, that'd probably be the first time most guys get that spot stimulated, unlike girls who have their g-spot placed more reasonably.
posted by Kleptophoria! at 8:44 PM on December 14, 2004


We'll have to part company slightly there. Most often perpetuated by men, yes. "Pretty much always", no.
posted by Justinian at 8:45 PM on December 14, 2004


I'd wager that indifference to this is less because it's happening to convicted felons (except in cases of public approval at the murder of child molesters in jail) and more because it's happening to white males who are assumed to be able to take care of themselves.
posted by rustcellar at 8:46 PM on December 14, 2004


mudpuppie, women are raped by men in prison too. (I'm sure they're raped by women as well, but can't google up any reports quickly). And nobody is saying That's why I'm saying that it's useful to focus on how to stop prison rape.

It is clearly different than preventing rape outside prison. Prisons are pretty locked-down institutions.

mudpuppie, you're trying to say that prison rape outrages people because the people being raped are men and they wouldn't if women were the subjects. This is untrue. You know as well as I do that nobody is as flippant about the rape of women outside prison as many are about the rape of men in prison.

It's more about being biased against criminals than about being biased against women.
posted by Firas at 8:48 PM on December 14, 2004 [1 favorite]


This thread contains what I would consider the stupidest comment I've ever read on Metafilter.

Anyway, letitrain, I think you're absolutely right. What you suggest, I think, would have a huge impact on this issue. I can't imagine it happening, though.

I'd be interested to know just how widespread this truly is. Rape is, in general, one of the least reported of all crimes. I can only imagine that male rape inside a prison is extremely underreported. What also complicates the issue is that, in some sense, what is described in this article could be considered consensual by some of the participants, especially if the threat of physical harm is merely implied.

What I mean to say is, if someone "hooks up" to preemptively avoid rape, who exactly is the offender? In that sense it is the system that is the cause of the problem, and not the individuals involved.
posted by Doug at 8:50 PM on December 14, 2004


"It is pretty much always perpetuated by men.
Now. What can we do about it?"..

Kill all men? Or we could just wait till the Y chromosome falls apart. Shouldn't be that long...
posted by c13 at 8:51 PM on December 14, 2004


I know that if it happened to me I would be devastated, and would probably murder him.

If all people in prison were there for raping kids or shooting someone in cold blood I wouldn't care. Truth is, there are innocent people and non-deserving people in prison (At least undeserving of being violently raped).
posted by Keyser Soze at 8:57 PM on December 14, 2004


If you were going to serve a life sentence or any other long prison term would there be any way to kill yourself before going to or while in prison? Sure its the chickenshit way out but on the plus side no gang rapes.
posted by TetrisKid at 8:58 PM on December 14, 2004


mudpuppie, you're trying to say that prison rape outrages people because the people being raped are men and they wouldn't if women were the subjects.

Actually, what I'm saying is that it doesn't matter who's raped. It's a tragedy regardless. And if the victim is a man, there's not an inherent punchline.

You know as well as I do that nobody is as flippant about the rape of women outside prison as many are about the rape of men in prison.

I'm not saying people are "flippant" about the rape of women. They're dismissive of it. It's hard to be "flippant" about something that's expected.

But Christ, when it comes to doing guys up the butt when they're incarcerated -- SHAME!!!

Don't tell me there's not a double standard.

Kill all men? Or we could just wait till the Y chromosome falls apart. Shouldn't be that long...

And, of course, what I really meant to say: All men are irrevocably evil. It's a genetic defect.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:02 PM on December 14, 2004


"All men are irrevocably evil. It's a genetic defect." To every stereotype there is a little bit of truth....
posted by Keyser Soze at 9:07 PM on December 14, 2004


Also, I read from Durex or something that g-spot stimulation was the best stimulation some men claim to have ever had, so I was sort of reminded of that when reading about the 'punks' who come to enjoy it up the ass.

Just to clear things up, that's the prostate. Women have Grafenberg Spots or "G-Spots". Men (and women) have prostates. Prostate stimulation is usually the more enjoyable part of anal sex for men.

I advise not going to condom vendors for anatomical advice.
posted by AlexReynolds at 9:11 PM on December 14, 2004


As I see it, it is one thing for free members of society to commit a crime. They are free. Sure, people should not commit murder, they should not rape other people. When they do, they should be sent somewhere they cannot kill and rape other people. Clearly that isn't the case.

The problem with crime in prisons is that it is ultimately the responsibility of the state to maintain a safe environment for rehabilitation. The state fails in this capacity, and as members of a society whose prisons are as cruel and criminal as this, we are responsible. The state, nor any other citizens has any moral authority over the actions of another citizen. If a free citizen decides to kill someone, it is totally their fault. But if an incarcerated ward of the state not only has the ability to rape, but the implicit sanctioning of the state to rape, then the stakes are very different, and the state bears the responsibility for the crime.
posted by Freen at 9:12 PM on December 14, 2004


er.. bears at least some responsibility for the crime.
posted by Freen at 9:14 PM on December 14, 2004


Violation is violation. The only real story here is that it sometimes happens to men. No less a tragedy. No more a tragedy.

The story is that it's possible to be put in a situation in which rape is an absolute given, and there's nothing you, if you were in that situation, could do about it, and those who have the power to stop (at least a significant part of it) don't bother to, and just about no one in the wider world cares. You yourself said in a previous comment, "Not everyone agrees that convicted felons' human rights shouldn't be violated.", which marks a pretty big difference—you'd be hard pressed to find someone not a mouth breather who was so blithe about rapes outside of prison.

Or, you could say that the story isn't that rape sometimes happens to men, but that rape definitely happens to some men (& definitely to the women in prison). I don't believe that rape is quite so institutionalized outside of prison, and that institutionalization is itself a tragedy.
posted by kenko at 9:19 PM on December 14, 2004


People who are are criminals by smoking pot should not have to contract AIDS from being raped in prison.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 9:20 PM on December 14, 2004


But if an incarcerated ward of the state not only has the ability to rape, but the implicit sanctioning of the state to rape, then the stakes are very different, and the state bears the responsibility for the crime.

Okay.

So let's prosecute corrections officers -- or better yet, the guv -- when prison rape occurs. I mean, they sanctioned it and all.

(On preview: You followed up. And now I feel better.)

I've seen Oz. I think prison rapes are probably allowed to occur in some instances.

So, again, what do we do about it?

My ultimate point, whereupon I will STFU:

This is a problem whose solution is more easily brainstormed than that of back alley rape.

It is a problem that no one seems to care to solve.

It's more fun to make jokes about it than to think about solutions.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:20 PM on December 14, 2004


People who are are criminals by smoking pot should not have to contract AIDS from being raped in prison.

Aw shit, I thought I was done.

Women who wear short skirts should not have to contract AIDS from being raped wherever.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:23 PM on December 14, 2004


This thread contains what I would consider the stupidest comment I've ever read on Metafilter.

There's been so much stupidity in this thread that, when I read this, I didn't think I'd be able to figure out what post you were talking about. Now that I've skimmed through the whole thread again, I'm absolutely certain which one you have in mind.
posted by painquale at 9:24 PM on December 14, 2004


I, however, do not know which one they meant -- by virtue of the staggering self-absorption and/or insensitivity going on here. Care to call it out?
posted by ChrisR at 9:27 PM on December 14, 2004


Lena's Love, San Quentin Prison
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 9:32 PM on December 14, 2004


I actually think that some wardens should be prosecuted. Aiding and Abetting a crime. criminal negligence. I think it should be the wardens and not the individual corrections officers. Sure, they probably also let it happen, but prosecuting the top of the food chain will send a message down the line.

Unfortunately, the measures needed to stop rape in prisons will most likely be equally morally problematic, or financially implausible. For instance, multiple tiered prison system, that ensured that violent and non-violent criminals were separated, and more violent criminals moved to more and more secure prisons with less freedom of movement. Harsh punishments for in-prison crimes. ( but for lifers, what is another 80 years tacked on to a 150 year sentence?) Solitary confinement ( which has moral and psychological issues in and of itself)

This problem, then resolves to the question: Is it possible to make a place where people who break the rules can live with other people who break the rules in safety?
posted by Freen at 9:33 PM on December 14, 2004


Should we build a Panopticon?
posted by Freen at 9:36 PM on December 14, 2004


Not everyone agrees that convicted felons' human rights shouldn't be violated.

I really think this is the biggest hurdle in getting the public to care about this issue. A movement to end prison rape--especially if under the banner of "human rights abuses"--will inevitably draw detractors wondering why that time and energy isn't spent on helping the impoverished or the not-incarcerated victims of rape. When you bring up this issue I think many, even most, people--and I know I'm going to take heat for this but that population includes myself--have a visceral belief that torturers, child rapists, and hyper-violent offenders don't deserve every ass-rape they're given. No argument that "they're people, too!" is going to work when confronted with details of the crime and the testimony of the victim and his or her friends and family.

But there are other, more powerful arguments to counteract this reaction.

One, a prison system that enables (even enforces) this jocker-punk system is probably one perfect for the kinds of vicious personalities that it takes to commit the crimes mentioned above. The exception would be child-killers and rapists, since it's my understanding the prison population hates them as much as those on the outside and take full advantage of the ease of prisoner-prisoner violence to "express" that disgust. Ending prison rape is simply taking victims away from the guys we really want to punish.

Two ties in with one--Stephen Donaldson and men like him. Those are the victims of prison rape--pot smokers, over-enthusiastic protestors, guys who stole a radio or TV set. They're justly incarcerated for these crimes (I'm using the law's definitions here, not my personal ones)--and gang-raped as a result. You'd have to be a pretty hardline asshole to argue that punishment is proportional to the crime. Additionally, this doesn't even touch on the issue of people incarcerated for crimes they didn't commit and are then raped. Unfortunately, I don't know how well pointing that problem out would fly in public--it's too easy for critics to distract from the fundamental horror of unjust incarceration and subsequent brutalization by screaming about "lying criminals trying to wiggle out of their punishments" and bringing up stories about guys acquitted of terrible crimes and later committing those crimes again.

Three is best articulated by this article I found while browsing around the SPR site. Cahill's point is excellent--if the prisoners weren't dangerous and violent when they went into prison, the experience of prison rape will do wonders for making sure they get to that point by the time they're released.

As for the jocker-punk choice, I don't think "pretty" or "smooth skin" or any of that has anything to do with it. Asking yourself the percentage of other jockers you can beat up and/or scare the crap out of will get you a much better idea of your place in the heirarchy.

Mudpuppie, I don't know anybody who's dismissive of female rape. I think many people have no idea the number of women who are raped, and if presented with evidence of the numbers (1 in 6 for rape, 1 in 4 to 1 in 3 for sexual assault, I believe) would have the same amount of shock. But the problem is our culture has become deadened by accusations of "teasing", the gray area introduced by alcohol and its effects on memory, and enough--and it only takes one or two to make enough--hysteric, "man-hating" commentary on the problem that it introduces skepticism to every other area.

The reactions in this thread are probably partly due to the more personal nature of dick-in-ass-rape, but keep in mind much of it is also the completely unpublicized nature of prison rape. There are jokes, and there is your occasional Shawshank Redemption, but there's not a lot of testimony from the victims nor awareness of the potential difference between the victim's crime and brutality of the act. So when people read articles like the ones fadango_matt posted it's like being hit in the head with a 2x4.

If prison rape was as publicized a problem as female rape, you'd begin getting the same skepticism mentioned in the previous paragraph, 'cause there is no doubt in the public's mind that the guy raped has done something.

When the public is hit with a 2x4 for long enough, it starts getting used to the pain, perhaps to the point of pretending it's not there. And if a belt or wrench comes along everything's off for the old outrage and attention gets focused on the new one until the next blunt object steps up. Everyone will usually acknowledge the old thing is still beating them and it still hurts like a bitch, but it's not as big a deal as this new thing. This is everybody who does this, I'm not targeting a particular user or the posters in this thread, and I'm not leaving myself out of the group. Call it selfish, call it a coping mechanism, call it what you will. But it's a sad, sick fact.
posted by schroedinger at 9:36 PM on December 14, 2004


WTF, people? Where you all born yesterday or something?
"Women who wear short skirts should not have to contract AIDS from being raped wherever." Not to pick specifically on mudpuppie, but no shit, really!? Should we do something about it? Why yes. Yes, of course. But what exactly is this "something"? Some concrete suggestions would be most certainly welcome. People have been looking for them for a damn long time.

Yes, shit happens. Yes, people are evil. This is who we are. All of us.
posted by c13 at 9:39 PM on December 14, 2004


Schroedinger: I agree. But sometimes, just sometimes, things change, and we wise up. Sometimes. Usually takes a war (The Civil War), or the civil rights movement, or something of that magnituded, but we wise up. I hope.
posted by Freen at 9:43 PM on December 14, 2004


prosecuting the top of the food chain will send a message down the line.

That's what I was thinking when I suggested lawsuits against the institutions. It's all a matter of motivation, and that motivation has to come from the top. A few multi-million dollar lawsuits might make enough of an impression at the top that systemic changes are made.
posted by letitrain at 9:48 PM on December 14, 2004


I don't think you get to chose whether you become a jocker or a punk. It's pretty much determined for you by how pretty you are.

I think Iwearredsocks grossly overestimates the level of choice he would have available to him in prison.


Some factors would be in my control, others not. I'd do in prison like I do out here - change what I can, and accept the rest. If I'm too pretty, I'd ugly myself however required. If it's my body language, etc. I'd mimic dirty harry. At some point, I would have done all possible, and I'd become a pitcher. Or move to solitary.

Maybe some star director should make a heartwrenching documentary about it.

Excellent idea. And other types of movies would do well to include scenes covering it. Shawshank Redemption with its depiction of Andy repeatedly fighting his rapists is the first thing that opened my eyes to this issue.

On preview: Asking yourself the percentage of other jockers you can beat up and/or scare the crap out of will get you a much better idea of your place in the hierarchy.

Good point. I'd have to work out a whole lot while in county jail so I'd be ready for prison.
posted by iwearredsocks at 9:50 PM on December 14, 2004


"People who are are criminals by smoking pot should not have to contract AIDS from being raped in prison."


"Women who wear short skirts should not have to contract AIDS from being raped wherever."



While I agree with both of these statements, they are not equal. Nobody is sanctioning and/or creating an environment where women in short skirts are contracting HIV from rape. They are in prisons. Whereas a rapist on the street is hunted for with the intention of prosecution, they are not in prisons. They are deliberately ignored.
posted by exlotuseater at 9:54 PM on December 14, 2004


As to why people don't sue- the Supreme Court decided that there has to be intent on the part of guards to get the prisoner raped, not just neglect. And even when people win these cases, they sometimes win just a dollar in damages.
posted by Hactar at 9:55 PM on December 14, 2004


by coincidence, i was just in perth & the local coppers there had a campaign against drink-spiking, with ads in toilets showing this guy staring intently at you and looking a bit like he has just hopped off a leather pride float at the mardi gras (septum-pierced and bearded) with the caption: "drink spiking could lead to a five-year relationship with your cellmate" - quite an effective message, i think...
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:03 PM on December 14, 2004


On the documentary idea . . .did anyone else find a whole new (sad) world by reading Black Like Me? What if an author or journalist were willing to immerse himself in prison, then expose the abuses? It would take someone with extraordinary guts.
posted by iwearredsocks at 10:07 PM on December 14, 2004


Maybe some star director should make a heartwrenching documentary about it.

While not explicitly about prison rape, Midnight Express and American Me are two films which immediately spring to mind in terms of revealing more than I ever wanted to know.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:10 PM on December 14, 2004


And now, the correct link to Midnight Express.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:12 PM on December 14, 2004


See also Fortune and Men's Eyes. Dated but still scary.
posted by arse_hat at 10:24 PM on December 14, 2004


Actually, what I'm saying is that it doesn't matter who's raped. It's a tragedy regardless. And if the victim is a man, there's not an inherent punchline.

Actually, I think there are plenty of people who think that there is - the whole idea of a man being sodomised is funny to some men....

But Christ, when it comes to doing guys up the butt when they're incarcerated -- SHAME!!!

Don't tell me there's not a double standard.


With respect, to make this argument I think you'd have to show that there are men who are dismissive of the rape of women, but are very concerned about the rape of men. And I don't think that there are - those who who write off the rape of male prisoners are the same who write off the rape of women on the streets - those who are concerned about one seem to be concerned about the other. No one in here, as far as I can see, is being flippant or dismissive of female rape survivors.
posted by Infinite Jest at 10:26 PM on December 14, 2004


What if an author or journalist were willing to immerse himself in prison, then expose the abuses? It would take someone with extraordinary guts.

Here's someone doing just that: Jon's Jail Journal. (Previously linked on MeFi)
posted by fandango_matt at 10:36 PM on December 14, 2004


iwearredsocks: Ted Conover did something similar, in his book Newjack. He became a corrections officer rather than a prisoner, but it's an interesting book nonetheless.

If I remember correctly, prison rape isn't really mentioned much, which kind of speaks to the idea of prison guards, ala Oz, allowing rape to occur on their watch. As an investigative journalist, I can only imagine that Conover would have jumped at the chance to tackle that issue.
posted by Doug at 10:36 PM on December 14, 2004


you know, i stumbled on that page some time ago, and i only just got unclenched last week.
posted by quonsar at 11:22 PM on December 14, 2004


Feodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky (1821–81): The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.
posted by AlexReynolds at 11:34 PM on December 14, 2004


Stephen Donaldson is someone I met when I was 17, way back in 1974. I met him, I slept with him, we remained friends to his death. A very sweet and gentle man he was.

I'm glad to see an SPR link here on Metafilter. Donny (the name he used with friends in latter times) founded the organization, and was the 'poster child' as well. But the changes needed are still long away.

Think for just a moment. Shouldn't being a ward of the state be as safe a place as is possible? Isn't it rather absurd that we punish criminals by putting them in an environment which requires criminal behavior for survival?

Joking about it isn't bad. It's pretty much required. Its how we deal with such a tragic subject. Heard any good plain crash jokes lately? So have a joke, and then remember: Incarceration should be a safe place. For some prisoners, it could well be the first safe place they've ever experienced. ONLY in such a place can real rehab take place. Don't believe in rehab? Go find another planet, this one is for humans.
posted by Goofyy at 11:39 PM on December 14, 2004


I don't know whether more coverage is the issue. People have shown a history of ignoring some pretty terrible things

But making fun of tragedy with sexual overtones is an utterly human trait.
Not that that excuses anything. But people use humor to relive the tension of very serious subjects which cause us anxiety. And everyone laughs at pain and death. Or tries to.

I know though I don't want to go to prison. While reading this - this song - kept going through my head.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:05 AM on December 15, 2004


mudpuppie, you're full of crap. The point isn't that people aren't aware of female rape- for fuck's sake, put down the Wellesley syllabus for one second and realize what's truly horrific about prison rape- a horror that makes every heartwrenching Tori Amos a capella a fucking walk in the park by comparison- is not simply that it's man on man, or that it's rape- the utterly soul-rending horror is that you cannot escape.

It didn't used to be like this, but to our credit as a society we have civilized enough that if a woman is raped, she has immense social resources and the full power of the law enforcement system to back her up. Only the most backward leaning troglodyte would still joke about a woman being raped, or suggest she brought it on herself, or that her job as a woman is to satisfy her husband/boyfriend/any random man anyway, so what's she complaining about?

In contrast, if someone- male or female- is raped in prison, they are being raped by the full power of the law enforcement system. There IS NO ESCAPE. No rape crisis center. No Lifetime movie-of-the-week. No hotlines or telethons or Lillith Fair dedications. Not even running away. YOU CANNOT ESCAPE. It is the pinnacle of torture, to be utterly, completely, and totally at the mercy of someone who WILL brutalize you, who will not stop, and there is NOTHING YOU CAN EVER DO ABOUT IT.

Imaging not just being fucked while drunk at a party, but instead being corraled in a cell while guards walk by and laugh. Imagine being fucked SO hard, for literally days on end, DAYS ON END, that your ass will NOT stop bleeding. Imagine passing out from the pain, imagine having your teeth, ALL your teeth, literally kicked out of your mouth so that you can't bite down as one filthy, pus-covered, infected cock after another is shoved down your throat, imagine gagging on rancid semen. Imagine the heinous laughter of your perpetrators, who are only further aroused by your screams for help. Imagine this going on for hours, DAYS, weeks, months. Imagine that everyone you beg, plead for help laughing at you, ignoring you, or actively punishing you for daring to say anything. Imagine a 19-year-old kid leaping across the table to his mother during visiting hours, terrified to say anything, but even more terrified to let go.

THIS is real torture, not Thad groping you up at the fraternity kegger while you were passed out on the couch, not even a darkened street. Those, however awful, are fleeting moments, potentially scarring for life but survivable. Prison rape is totally new level of awful.

You can't fucking get that because you want to cling to some suffering victim safety blanket of how terribly oppressed women are that they have to shave their armpits in our male-dominated society! Have you no shame at all?

Anyone who gets raped in prison, and goes on to kill when they get out, is a hero in my book.
posted by hincandenza at 2:01 AM on December 15, 2004 [4 favorites]


Thank you hincandenza for saying what needed to be said and saying it brutally enough that it might be listened to.
posted by aspo at 2:49 AM on December 15, 2004


The subject matter of this post made me want to cry. Schroedinger's thoughtful contribution however was well received. I would however like to question Americans about Freen's point of view.

I actually think that some wardens should be prosecuted. Aiding and Abetting a crime. criminal negligence. I think it should be the wardens and not the individual corrections officers. Sure, they probably also let it happen, but prosecuting the top of the food chain will send a message down the line.

Here in the UK, yesterday the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights found that the failure of prison authorities to prevent those at risk of self harm from suicide constituted a violation of their Right to Life - no. 1 on the European Convention on Human Rights list.

Given that prison constitutes a clear duty of care situation and here we have both clear breach and causation of harm, why are US inmates not suing prison authorties for negligence and / or aid / abetting rape / sexual assault? I refuse to believe that there aren't 2 punks in the US prison system prepared to offer corroborative testimony. This although instructive doesn't appear to answer my question. Are restrictions on standing imposed on US prisoners? (We'll put the issue of Gitmo aside for the time being shall we?)
posted by dmt at 5:42 AM on December 15, 2004


hincandenza: Damn...
posted by Freen at 5:54 AM on December 15, 2004


Listened to but less than constructive. There's no reason to attack mudpuppie personally, not that I could find. This is a fucked up subject and can stand plenty of savage humor but not a whole lot of venom. Keep it focused on the terrible. Eschew convenience on this one. It's ugly enough, isn't it?
posted by cgc373 at 6:00 AM on December 15, 2004


dmt: The US has long since opted out of just about any and all international human rights treaties. (Or will if put to the test.)

As Hactar mentioned above, the supreme court really doesn't give a fuck, and given future potential appointees, probably won't for some time.

Alex: Spot on Dostoyevsky quote.
posted by Freen at 6:16 AM on December 15, 2004


Anyone who gets raped in prison, and goes on to kill when they get out, is a hero in my book.

Well, put your money where your mouth is and volunteer yourself as a victim. Talk is cheap, mr. crusader.
posted by jonmc at 6:54 AM on December 15, 2004


THIS is real torture, not Thad groping you up at the fraternity kegger while you were passed out on the couch, not even a darkened street. Those, however awful, are fleeting moments, potentially scarring for life but survivable.

Thank you for trivializing rape perpetuated on women.

I understand your point that in jail you have little legal recourse, but for fuck's sake, that doesn't make a woman's rape any less horrible.
posted by agregoli at 7:28 AM on December 15, 2004


As usual, discussion of an important issue degenerates into a food fight over who's affinity group is more persecuted. Emotionally satisfying perhaps, but not productive in the slightest.
posted by jonmc at 7:31 AM on December 15, 2004


When has rape ever been discussed rationally/productively on Metafilter?
posted by agregoli at 7:39 AM on December 15, 2004


I dunno, agregoli. But some actual insight or maybe useful ideas, might have been nice. However, instead we get chest-beating, bad jokes, and schroedinger's comment which was actually fairly insightful.

But it's too much of a hot-button issue for anything useful to arise here, I guess.
posted by jonmc at 7:42 AM on December 15, 2004


It didn't used to be like this, but to our credit as a society we have civilized enough that if a woman is raped, she has immense social resources and the full power of the law enforcement system to back her up. Only the most backward leaning troglodyte would still joke about a woman being raped, or suggest she brought it on herself, or that her job as a woman is to satisfy her husband/boyfriend/any random man anyway, so what's she complaining about?

There are more backward-leaning troglodytes out there than you seem to suspect--and anyone who knows anyone who has gone through the process of trying to get an aquaintance rape prosecuted (not the sterotypical, "was drunk and she changed her mind afterwards", but even the, "Shy virgin goes on date, sets boundaries, stays stone cold sober, and gets pinned down and assaulted anyway" variety) would shake their head at the assertion that every victim has "immense law enforcement resources behind her" if the assailant wasn't a stranger (preferably with a record, or a minority) who dragged her behind a bush or broke into her home.

That being said, I find any sort of pissing contest about which variety is "worse" (male on male in prison, or male on female) absolutely repugnant. I had tears in my eyes reading the first link, because I have a friend now in his 40's who went to a federal prison for a drug trafficing charge when he was a dumb teenager, and this was absolutely his fate for the next 7 years. Dehumanization is always abhorrent, and that's what this really boils down to when you read sentences like, "learn to deep throat so you don't get AIDS."
posted by availablelight at 7:48 AM on December 15, 2004


Amen. I have a friend who was raped by a stranger and even she had trouble with people believing her. It's not an easy road.
posted by agregoli at 7:55 AM on December 15, 2004


agregoli, there's a big difference between rape inside of prison and rape inside prison. We are talking about an established culture where persons are made the sexual slaves of others vs isolated, largely unrepeated incidents of sexual assault. There is no connection here and it is dishonest to pretend there is.

Prisons, especially those that are privately owned and operated, should be held responsible for the well-being of prisoners in their care. They're not and so this, and much worse, will continue to happen.

If all people in prison were there for raping kids or shooting someone in cold blood I wouldn't care.

This attitude is the core of the problem. For most Americans it's just a question of where to draw the line--at some point prisoners are no longer regarded as human beings.
posted by nixerman at 8:00 AM on December 15, 2004


err, rape inside pof prison and rape outside prison.
posted by nixerman at 8:01 AM on December 15, 2004


I wasn't responding to the fact that rape is systematic torture - I was responding to the trivializating of female rape outside of prison, which is unwarranted and unrelated to the topic at hand.

This comment:

THIS is real torture, not Thad groping you up at the fraternity kegger while you were passed out on the couch, not even a darkened street. Those, however awful, are fleeting moments, potentially scarring for life but survivable.


is sexist and dismissive of real pain and suffering.
posted by agregoli at 8:06 AM on December 15, 2004


Pardon me, I meant to say that "rape in prison is systematic torture"
posted by agregoli at 8:07 AM on December 15, 2004


Yeah, there's a big difference between rotten apples and rotten oranges too--but can we agree that they're BOTH bad, and discuss the damn FPP instead of trying to make one "worse" than the other?
What's next, a heated, chest-pounding, FPP discussion on whether or not genocide is Rwanda was less inhumane than genocide in Nazi Germany, since it was less organized and didn't involve efficiency and technological innovation?
posted by availablelight at 8:08 AM on December 15, 2004


We're going off the rails because rape, torture, genocide, and all the other horrors people perpetrate upon one another evoke the worst aspects of our common humanity, and make it harder than it already is to say anything without pissing off somebody. hincandenza's comment, however its content may apply, tonally lowered the bar, and it'll take some pretty reasonable talking to raise it again. I don't know who wants to try to be that reasonable, now. Anyone?

whether or not genocide is Rwanda was less inhumane than genocide in Nazi Germany, since it was less organized and didn't involve efficiency and technological innovation?

To turn it to thinking about this kind of thing as well as we can think about it, I suggest Richard Rubenstein's book The Cunning of History. It's an essay on the mechanics of what we now call "crimes against humanity" and it has great power and deep implications. The only online quotations I can find are here, but the book is profound, where these are merely interesting.
posted by cgc373 at 8:48 AM on December 15, 2004


To be devils advocate for a second ; If prison is to act as a deterrent then it should be viewed as something to be avoided at all costs. There is an argument that says that some (most) criminal behaviour excludes you from the protection the rest of the society enjoys as you chose to abuse a trust. There will always be the innocent people and the innocuous crimes caught in this web.

Hysteria is always a bad idea when discussing these emotive topics - no matter how heartfelt.
All rape is bad (but not as bad as being murdered - i think).
posted by dprs75 at 9:22 AM on December 15, 2004


and this was absolutely his fate for the next 7 years.

That is precisely why it's worse. Ask a rape survivor if being raped every single day, multiple times a day, would be the same.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:26 AM on December 15, 2004


If prison is to act as a deterrent then it should be viewed as something to be avoided at all costs. There is an argument that says that some (most) criminal behavior excludes you from the protection the rest of the society enjoys as you chose to abuse a trust.

But in time the prisoners will be released back into society. If they weren't psychopaths when they were sent off to prison, they certainly will be upon release 10 or 20 years later. Would you want someone who lived according to the law of 'cut or be cut, rape or be raped' for a decade or two to eventually become you neighbor?
posted by crank at 9:47 AM on December 15, 2004


I'm not questioning whether rape every day is worse than being raped once - of course it is.

But it's unfair to trivialize a woman who was raped as being able to deal with it better than someone who was raped in prision. And the "Thad groping you up at the fraternity kegger while you were passed out on the couch" was particularly sexist, dismissive and vile.

Can we just talk about prison rape, the topic at hand? There is no need to quantify how horrible it is...it's horrible, period.
posted by agregoli at 9:55 AM on December 15, 2004


I apologize for devolving the discussion. I really didn't mean to incite (or perpetuate) chest-pounding. I didn't mean to start a contest about who could be the biggest victim.

This is a sad, sad story. It is a tragedy. There is nothing good about it.

All I meant to say was that it should be treated as the serious issue it is. That the, um, not-in-my-backyard jokes degrade the discussion.

For that matter, I degraded the discussion in trying to keep it from being degraded. I was pissed. It's hard not to be when you're a survivor and you think other people may not be taking it (or you) seriously. I think that goes back to the point of the link -- having people be dismissive of the issue is a whole 'nother kind of prison.

Again, apologies.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:03 AM on December 15, 2004


There's a point missed whenever someone adds "..especially when all he did was (smoke pot, jaywalk, embezzle, etc)." It doesn't matter what crime you did. All people are equal, despite their crimes. A murderer doesn't "deserve" to be raped any more than anyone else. The solution to violating someone else's human rights, or even killing them, isn't violent. Prisons are meant for rehabilitation. At parole hearings, they don't ask "Hey, have you had enough rape to be scared straight yet?" The point is to repay a debt to society by losing freedom for a period of time, and barring rehabilitation, to be locked away where you can't hurt anyone else.

There's been a downward slide where punishment has been emphasized over rehabilitation in recent years. Insanity, previously a valid defense for the mentally ill, is now seen as trivial by the public at large. There are many people who are mentally unwell in prisons and could be made better through a combination of therapy and possibly medication -- but then they wouldn't "get what they deserve" in prison. Being treated for mental disease is just as restrictive as prison, though, if not more so. In prison, you're released at the end of your sentence, or when given parole. In a mental hospital, you're released when judged fit, which could be never.

Any changes to the system are often shunned as they're supposedly cost-prohibitive. What's more effective: re-jailing the same individuals repeatedly, after they commit crimes they learned about while "in the system," or making a genuine effort to reform?
posted by mikeh at 10:20 AM on December 15, 2004


I was pissed. It's hard not to be when you're a survivor and you think other people may not be taking it (or you) seriously.

I think there may have been a better way to mention the fact that the rape statistics for women are also staggeringly incomprehensible to those of us who've never experienced it, without trivializing the implications of systemic, institutional nature of prison rape in particular. This was my initial reaction, at least, and why I initially pissed on your comment so childishly. I, too, apologize.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:32 AM on December 15, 2004


I think there may have been a better way to mention the fact that the rape statistics for women are also staggeringly incomprehensible to those of us who've never experienced it

Agreed.

without trivializing the implications of systemic, institutional nature of prison rape in particular.

I certainly wasn't trying to trivialize -- the opposite, actually. I'm sorry it came across that way.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:34 AM on December 15, 2004


Resolution without a MeTa callout. It can be done!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:38 AM on December 15, 2004


Men (and women) have prostates. Prostate stimulation is usually the more enjoyable part of anal sex for men.

I advise not going to condom vendors for anatomical advice.


I advise not going to Alex Reynolds for anatomical advice. Men have prostate glands. Women don't.

And the "Thad groping you up at the fraternity kegger while you were passed out on the couch" was particularly sexist, dismissive and vile.


I have to disagree. There is a world of difference between some Roman hands, and as pointed out above, systematic daily rape over a period of years. Precisely as there's a difference between some beered-up asshole at a bar taking a swing at you, and being married to a physically abusive partner. Do you see the difference now?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:42 AM on December 15, 2004


No, I don't see the difference now, thanks. A woman raped at a party is just as raped as a man is in a prison. What makes one less evil than the other? Your comments are supremely insensitive.
posted by agregoli at 11:09 AM on December 15, 2004


Because in the example given, it wasn't rape-- grope !=rape. That was the point.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:32 AM on December 15, 2004


To be devils advocate for a second ; If prison is to act as a deterrent then it should be viewed as something to be avoided at all costs. There is an argument that says that some (most) criminal behavior excludes you from the protection the rest of the society enjoys as you chose to abuse a trust.

We love to have reasons to not empathize with other human beings. I think this may explain why people feel comfortable joking about prison rape. These are non-persons. They're not like the rest of us--they broke the rules.

Why not just execute people for every infraction? That would be one hell of a deterrent, right? I mean, these criminals have only themselves to blame!

Personally, I feel that being part of a society that facilitates the rape and murder of another human being, regardless of his or her crime, makes me guilty of rape and murder, too. I'm less interested in punishing or deterring criminals, than I am in simply removing dangerous people from the general population. Rehabilitation would be nice, but one thing at a time...
posted by apis mellifera at 11:39 AM on December 15, 2004


Wrong, he was talking about rape.

From the entire comment:

Imaging not just being fucked while drunk at a party, but instead being corraled in a cell while guards walk by and laugh. Imagine being fucked SO hard, for literally days on end, DAYS ON END, that your ass will NOT stop bleeding.

As I said above, I'm not denying that being raped every day is being worse than being raped once, but please. Rape is rape. It's no less trivial when it happens to a woman at a party.
posted by agregoli at 11:41 AM on December 15, 2004


not less trival, sorry.
posted by agregoli at 11:42 AM on December 15, 2004


And, frankly, what makes one significantly worse than the other, if we're actually comparing rape and rape, is that in prison, no escape is possible. The only thing that is possible is falling asleep, bruised and bleeding, knowing full well it's going to happen again tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that.

It's knowing that if you're raped out in the free world, again, as posted above, you have the full weight of the law behind you to exact some sort of retribution and closure. In prison, you have no such thing.

Also, please notice that at no point am I using gender here-- male or female, there is a qualitative difference between rape in the free world, and rape in prison.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:44 AM on December 15, 2004


Right, we already established that. Have you been reading the discussion?

All I wanted was to point out that it's unfair to trivialize a woman's rape - even compared to prison rape, it's nothing that's easy to get over (which was the implication) - yes, even if she was drunk at a party.
posted by agregoli at 11:46 AM on December 15, 2004


Rape, no matter the situation is horrible. But I think (think) that's been agreed upon.

(Just so my biases are on the table, I am speaking as a survivor of rape that has never been to prison).

Institutionalized rape of prisoners in custody of the state is a different animal than rape that happens outside the prison walls. Not only because you can't escape, but because the 'system' - by its inaction - is condoning the abuse. As apis mellifera put it "being part of a society that facilitates the rape and murder of another human being, regardless of his or her crime, makes me guilty of rape and murder, too."

The government has a responsibility to protect its prisoners. As previously mentioned, there are many people who don't feel that prisoners deserve rights. It's hard for many of us to hear the stories of what some of these people have done and then defend their rights. But just because it's challenging doesn't mean it shouldn't be done. Sometimes, emotions should be put aside and logic should prevail.

Also, many of these people WILL get out of prison. And if we allow these people to be abused in this way, it will certainly not help 'rehabilitate' them, and it's possible it will hardern them into angrier, more violent people who will get out.

"These are non-persons. They're not like the rest of us--they broke the rules." - apis mellifera
Yeah, we do have a tendancy to try and think of them that way, don't we? We want to distance ourselves from them and not see all the person-ness that we have in common. But how much would it take to get you to break the rules? It could be any of us.. you can end up in jail for hitting someone that hit you first, for stealing to feed your family. Just because you've never been in the situation that ended you up in jail doesn't mean it couldn't be you next time. How would you want to be treated?
posted by raedyn at 11:59 AM on December 15, 2004


Anyone who gets raped in prison, and goes on to kill when they get out, is a hero in my book.

So you consider Charles Manson your hero. Good lord.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:06 PM on December 15, 2004


What sent me up the wall about mudpuppie's initial comments was the implication that it's the homosexual part of the deal that has us concerned... and later that rape in closed environments doesn't need to be dealt with without a comprehensive approach to reining in 'men'.

That said, her further comments clarified her position (that both issues need more attention), and Rush-Limbaugh like aggregate feminist banging was completely unncessary.
posted by Firas at 12:07 PM on December 15, 2004 [1 favorite]


Oops, I see that part of the discussion is over. Great. Nevermind.
posted by Firas at 12:11 PM on December 15, 2004 [1 favorite]


"'and this was absolutely his fate for the next 7 years.'

That is precisely why it's worse. Ask a rape survivor if being raped every single day, multiple times a day, would be the same."

Hey, if you want to hear about this kind of thing outside of prison (assaulted over and over again for years at a time while in a position of powerlessness with no escape), talk to some of the child rape/incest survivors around......but it would still have nothing to do with the thread, or who's had it *worse.* Cause in the end--for the victims, at least--there's no such thing as "less raped"--just like there's no such thing as being a little bit pregnant.
posted by availablelight at 12:18 PM on December 15, 2004


But how much would it take to get you to break the rules? It could be any of us.. you can end up in jail for hitting someone that hit you first, for stealing to feed your family.

Exactly....one of the saddest stories like this I read was a guy who was in for non-violent offences (might have been driving-related, something like that). He freaked out and started getting into arguments with his wife on the phone, one time he smashed the phone. So he ended up in a much tougher part of the prison. So he got to be someone's wife. And whore. And ended up HIV+.

There was another story on an article linked from here a few months ago - the guy was a Quaker who'd been protesting Vietnam and refused to pay a fine. He ended up in the same situation. A freaking non-violent protestor.

For those of you arguing that rape victims outside of prison have the full weight of the law with them, that's true in theory - but look at how hard it is to secure convictions for rape, now, still.

[Kudos, by the way, to Mudpuppie for clarifying]
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:27 PM on December 15, 2004


"These are non-persons. They're not like the rest of us--they broke the rules." - apis mellifera
Yeah, we do have a tendancy to try and think of them that way, don't we? We want to distance ourselves from them and not see all the person-ness that we have in common. But how much would it take to get you to break the rules? It could be any of us..


We agree, raedyn. Shit, I've broken the rules lots of times. I spent some time in a foster home as a kid for being "incorrigible," which was as close to incarceration as I ever hope to come--and even that sucked pretty hard. These days I try to confine my law-breaking to speeding, file-sharing, recreation drug use and sodomy--but I've had a few friends who have gone to real, honest-to-god, pound-me-in-the-ass prison for things like grand theft and armed robbery and let me tell you, being a big, burly guy who works out is no guarantee that you'll get to be a "pitcher."

I was just responding to the idea presented by dprs75 (who was admittedly playing devil's advocate) that fear of prison rape might provide a deterrent to criminal activity and may in some way be tolerated for this reason as part of punishment for breaking the law.
posted by apis mellifera at 12:47 PM on December 15, 2004


What sent me up the wall about mudpuppie's initial comments was the implication that it's the homosexual part of the deal that has us concerned...

Not to get started again, but don't you think there's necessarily a homophobic aspect to all this?

Maybe I'm stereotyping here, but I'm assuming it's the anal sex idea that initially makes straight men squirm when they think of prison rape, not the violence aspect.

And that's pretty homophobic -- not in the "i hate gay people" sense, but in the "that's icky" sense. I'm not accusing anyone of being a bigot. But I think that, at bottom, homophobia is part of the discussion.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:01 PM on December 15, 2004


I'd tend to agree - I think that's where the jokes about prison sex originated.
posted by agregoli at 1:07 PM on December 15, 2004


Maybe I'm stereotyping here, but I'm assuming it's the anal sex idea that initially makes straight men squirm when they think of prison rape, not the violence aspect.

Yes, you are. Not to mention being presumtious. I can assure you that it's fear of rape that makes this straight male afraid of prison. And in terms of concrete realities, it picking fly shit out of pepper.
posted by jonmc at 1:13 PM on December 15, 2004


Eh, it depends from person to person. For me it's because (a) sexual violation is good contender for the ultimate kind and (b) I'm wary of bullying and power games, and (c) I hate prisons with a passion.

But I'd say, in any case, who cares about the motivator, as long as everyone can agree it's a problem--as with a zillion other things to do with prisons around the world.
posted by Firas at 1:32 PM on December 15, 2004 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm stereotyping here, but I'm assuming it's the anal sex idea that initially makes straight men squirm when they think of prison rape, not the violence aspect. And that's pretty homophobic

Good lord. I'm homophobic if I don't want to be sodomized by a gang of convicted felons? I suppose if I don't want to sodomized by a black convicted felon, that makes me a racist, too. Dear mudpuppie: Your head is so far up your ass you can probably see out of your PC-bullshit-spewing mouth. Do you want to be raped? Your gut-reaction "No" is the same gut-reaction this straight male feels. (on preview: what jonmc said.)
posted by fandango_matt at 1:36 PM on December 15, 2004


That was a harsh reaction and a bizarre personal attack. I think what mudpuppie is saying is that the origin of a lot of the cavelier/joking attitude towards prison rape is probably originating from homophobia. I tend to agree. That, coupled with the fact that people joke about anything that makes them uncomfortable, prejudices or not.
posted by agregoli at 1:40 PM on December 15, 2004




Go go bad html tags! I'm on a roll for screw-ups!
posted by schroedinger at 2:01 PM on December 15, 2004


Maybe I'm stereotyping here, but I'm assuming it's the anal sex idea that initially makes straight men squirm when they think of prison rape, not the violence aspect.

You can't be serious. By the same logic, it's a misanthropic fear of vaginal sex that initially makes women squirm when they think of date rape, not the violence aspect?

I don't suspect you buy into that, so why do you suggest that it's homophobia that makes men cringe when they think of being victimized by rape, daily, for years on end? I mean, can't I squirm at the idea, and feel it's a serious violation of humanity, even though I'm not homophobic? Surely, I can.

With respect, I think you've over-reached your grasp on the issue with that statement.
posted by darkstar at 2:09 PM on December 15, 2004


It doesn't matter what crime you did. All people are equal, despite their crimes.

mikeh, I don't know that this is true. I believe the vast majority of criminals are capable of rehabilitation. But there do exist people who simply cannot be rehabilitated--serial killers, serial rapists, those so evil that they enjoy their crimes and if not locked up will not stop. Michael Hunter's essays provide excellent insights into these guys' minds. I have hope for the men he speaks of, even the career criminals he has such skepticism for, but the serial killers? If you enjoy killing people, if that gets your rocks off on a basic, animal level then there's not much one can do about it. And my point is when you talk about rehabilitation and humane treatment those prisoners are what everyone thinks of first, and so have very little sympathy when you speak of rehabilitation or human rights. Not to degrade those things--but you must make absolutely sure they're put in proper context, that you're referring to pot-smokers, embezzelers, whatever when you present them, 'cause the argument that a guy who's on death row for raping, torturing, and killing fifteen kids just needs rehabilitation is not going to fly past the general public (or most criminal psychologists).
posted by schroedinger at 2:16 PM on December 15, 2004




dirtynumbangelboy: Women do indeed have
prostates.
posted by exlotuseater at 3:38 PM on December 15, 2004


Maybe I'm stereotyping here, but I'm assuming it's the anal sex idea that initially makes straight men squirm when they think of prison rape, not the violence aspect.

I think that would be the reason (some) men joke about prison rape. Not so much the reason that other men squirm at the thought of it. I think there are two different types of reaction there.

I can tell you I'm very definitely not squirming at the idea of anal sex but at the idea of someone having complete power to do me harm, in an incredibly violating way.
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:53 PM on December 15, 2004


All rape is bad (but not as bad as being murdered - i think)
Matter of taste perhaps. I'd choose death.

Anyone who gets raped in prison, and goes on to kill when they get out, is a hero in my book.
...of course I wouldn't go that far.... Maybe kill the guy(s) who raped me. I'd be hard pressed to convict someone who did that.
cause the argument that a guy who's on death row for raping, torturing, and killing fifteen kids just needs rehabilitation is not going to fly past the general public (or most criminal psychologists).

- Nor the prisoners themselves Schroedinger (some of the hard core ones anyway).
Which is precisely why justice must be meted out to those who assault another in prison. They must be shown that path works. That compassion, mercy, fairness, all those ideals society espouses is not a complete sham.

It is particularly relevant when the prisoner is incorrigible that we deal with him in a fair way and within the law - not only his crimes, but the crimes of others upon him.
Particularly I would say in the latter case.

It is not for his benefit alone, but for our own and our communities.
A man who enjoys crimes - unless he is insane - has allowed himself to devolve somewhat and his only recourse, once captured, is to destroy others by making them like himself.
If we act as he does we become him and there is no justification or legitimacy for our own power or the power we hold over him.
In essence we condone his crimes every time we allow him to be violated.
The objective of imprisonment is not simply rehabilitation and certainly not only punishment, but to justify acts under the system of laws we have and earn our support of it.
It is exactly when you have those who would disregard human rights that you must support and uphold - indeed - embody those ideals.

I would agree with Freen
(but remove his later qualifier) - the state bears ALL responsibility for those crimes committed by it's prisoners.

If you are so irresponsible that you cannot control a man in prison then you don't deserve the power you are given - moral arguments aside.
What it takes is an act of will to change it and the problem is most of our culture is bound up by money and commercialism. The kind of will it would take to change it needs an extreme viewpoint - perhaps outrage, moral indignity - radical or conservative doesn't matter, anything but the apathy of the businessman.
Many disenfranchised folks see this aspect of our society. While that needs to be curbed it is in prison, where we have no excuses that we can't catch them, where we are at our most vulnerable to the temptation to allow our own demons free reign and hurt those in prison with the justification that they have hurt others that we must prove our worth. We must prove that we are better than those who serve only themselves.

Otherwise, in reality, we're not.

Lots of support organizations out there....
posted by Smedleyman at 3:57 PM on December 15, 2004 [1 favorite]


We've all hugged and resolved this issue.
Argh! just missed it!
posted by Smedleyman at 3:57 PM on December 15, 2004


schroedinger: I think though that you are to some extent buying into one of the big myths of prison rape, that somehow in the prison system, there is some kind of divine justice that happens where the tables are turned, and rapists and molesters find themselves on the receiving end of their own crime. (I won't go into the concept that if rape is wrong, it is wrong no matter who the victim might be.)

Given that increasing numbers of Americans are put away behind bars for non-violent crimes, I'm not convinced this is the case.

And I'll take Infinite Jest's comment one step further and say that I actually quite like anal sex, but have no desire to put myself in a position at high risk for rape.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:08 PM on December 15, 2004


NTM, A man being turned off by recieving anal sex dosen't make that man homophobic, just heterosexual.
posted by jonmc at 6:45 PM on December 15, 2004


Um, jonmc, there are quite a few heterosexual men who do like being penetrated. And probably a few gay men who don't. Linking attitudes towards anal sex with sexual orientations can be misleading.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:09 PM on December 15, 2004


Kirk, if you reread the first long-ass comment I made, "the rapists get raped" thought only applied to criminals who target children. It didn't spring from a belief in divine justice, but because I've heard that child molesters are hated by most prisoners and guards alike and thus targeted for abuse.

In the same comment, I note that non-violent offenders and even guys who messed up a holdup and accidentally got shot in the leg incur my full sympathy when they are raped, and are usually the majority of the guys getting raped.

And Smedlyman, I think a rehabilitative prison environment is awesome, too. I only disagree with you in that I think there exist a select few--a very select few--that will always be monsters. This doesn't mean the other 99.99% of the prison population should be excluded from rehabilitation; it's just those guys aren't going to get anywhere.
posted by schroedinger at 7:38 PM on December 15, 2004


I advise not going to Alex Reynolds for anatomical advice. Men have prostate glands. Women don't.

Mea culpa. Not sure why I thought that, but indeed they don't.
posted by AlexReynolds at 8:41 PM on December 15, 2004


I just read the article but I haven't read the comments so forgive me if I'm repeating someone elses comment - I just find this extremely upseting.

This is seriously fucked up and I don't understand how this is tolerated. This sounds like my worst nightmare. If I were a man who found himself in that situation, I'd probably try to kill myself rather than let someone do that to me. Again, why is this tolerated?
posted by echolalia67 at 9:07 PM on December 15, 2004


As for the "what's worse: being randomly raped once or repeatedly raped every day" debate - this is not a man vs. woman issue.

Lot's of women throughout the world find themselves imprisoned and raped repeatedly on a daily basis with no end in sight to their suffering - hello, human trafficking/sexual slavery/ethnic cleansing campaigns.

More men than we even know or are even comfortable aknowlging have been sexually assaulted by strangers or acquaintances in a non-prison environment , under circumstances we'd normally associate with a sexual assault of a female victim.

Rape is a horror. Than being said, being raped every day or several times a week with no chance of reprieve is, in my opinion, particularly horrific. Having the choice between letting one perpetrator rape you repeatedly instead of many is not in any way consensual sex either. It's not about gender people - it's the vilest of crimes, one that no one, no matter how terrible the crimes they themselves have committed, should have to go through.
posted by echolalia67 at 9:56 PM on December 15, 2004


If I were a man who found himself in that situation, I'd probably try to kill myself rather than let someone do that to me.

That's an interesting and enlightening comment. I'd like to hear more about jonmc's comment about the latent current of homophobia that is underneath this discussion. I suspect there's a lot unspoken about people's distain for this topic that deals with male identity, power and self-esteem.
posted by AlexReynolds at 10:06 PM on December 15, 2004


So, I just want to apologize for jumping down mudpuppie's throat; like a lot of people, I overreacted to the suggestion that we who found this so horrific were merely uncomfortable with the homosexual aspect of the links- and of course, I don't mean to trivialize rape at all.

I appreciate echolalia also noting that the sex trafficking/slavery issue is sadly too underrepresented in these discussions; it happens even within our own cities and borders, and the thought that that house I walk by might have people literally held hostage inside to be used as human toilets, to be moved from city to city against their will and held captive with only the threat of their families suffering a worse fate if they run away....

There really is no hope for human kind. None at all- we are not human, we are psychopathic apes, all of us, there is nothing redeeming in humanity left. Nothing. You see it in the lust for war so many of my countrymen have, you see it in the willful ignorance to the humanity of all peoples and jeering and cheering for death and misery, you see it in the eyes of the people next to you on the bus, or the drivers trapped in their narcissistic 4-wheeled glass and steel wombs traveling over the 520, cursing out their fellow human being, enraged simply at the world's reluctance to part before them like the Red Sea.

I see how easily we all could become little Stalins or Pinochets or Husseins. More people than not would likely cheer at the thought of prison rape, simply because the thing our species excels at most of all is dehumanizing everyone and everything around us. Beauty? Love? Art? Nothing. We are only crafters of death and misery.

So yeah, as horrific as it may seem to call Charles Manson (by extension, I suppose- I hadn't heard he'd been raped in prison) a hero, I do think those who go nuts and hurt innocent people because of what we made them undergo in prisons we refuse to run compassionately... well yes. Yes, we do deserve their awful lashing back, we deserve to shed that blood as a people, because we earned that punishment. By the same logic, the same justice, the same ethics that suggest it's okay for any of us to turn our heads and ignore that these brutalities occur in our prisons, in our homes, in foreign lands occupied by people who never did us any harm... by that same logic, it must then be okay for us to be harmed without apparent or immediate cause, to have ourselves hurt or killed by a random stranger and have no one notice or care.

I'm an athiest, but I'm saddest because I don't think there are actually any Christians left in my bible-beating country...
posted by hincandenza at 1:19 AM on December 16, 2004


If I were a man who found himself in that situation, I'd probably try to kill myself rather than let someone do that to me.

You can always voluntarily go into protective custody, which is, to my limited understanding, solitary confinement. Personally, I'd rather risk the chance of madness from a few years of not talking to anyone than have to deal with protective pairing. I'm guessing you can still have visitors and write letters.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:16 AM on December 16, 2004


I was under the impression (admittedly, from movies) that solitary confinement is spent in darkness, in a cramped space. Does anyone know if this is true? It would make a huge difference. If it's reasonably comfortable and you can sit there reading books all the time, I might convince myself my time would be better spent there. If it's basically a torture of its own sort, I'd probably rather take my chances and still be able to walk around and get exposed to sunlight.
posted by bingo at 5:31 AM on December 16, 2004


Solitary confinement is not supposed to include darkness.
posted by agregoli at 7:41 AM on December 16, 2004


So, I just want to apologize for jumping down mudpuppie's throat

Thanks.

There really is no hope for human kind. None at all- we are not human, we are psychopathic apes, all of us, there is nothing redeeming in humanity left. Nothing.

Now this we agree on.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:46 AM on December 16, 2004


I'd like to hear more about jonmc's comment about the latent current of homophobia that is underneath this discussion. I suspect there's a lot unspoken about people's distain for this topic that deals with male identity, power and self-esteem.

I'm not a man BTW. And I think what disturbs me about this, aside from the thought of being brutally assaulted on a regular basis with no chance of finding a safe haven, is the loss of fundamental aspects of one's identity: your gender and your sexual orientation. You are no longer a heterosexual man - you are forced to be a female substitue and within that context, considered to be a life support system for whatever orifice a penis can be inserted into.

Also, as a woman it's scary to realize that these guys are forcing other men to act out what they on some level think is a the appropriate role for their preferred partners (a woman) to play - their property, a victim who by the mere fact that they exist is to be considered "fair game", someone who is "only good for one thing". A man who could brutalize and dehumanize another man in this way is a man who would have no problem doing it to a woman if he had the chance.

Again, I don't understand why this is tolerated - not only is allowing this to happen cruel and unusual punishment for the incarcerated victim of the perpetrator, it's also ignoring someone who is a grave threat to the community at large upon release.
posted by echolalia67 at 6:43 PM on December 16, 2004


« Older Do you mind if I don't smoke?   |   But where is Danny Bonudce Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post