The Rise of Rape Culture
September 26, 2015 11:31 AM   Subscribe

 




[Couple comments deleted. Let's start this off on a better foot.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:28 PM on September 26, 2015 [12 favorites]


I like to think I'm a man somewhat knowledgeable about these things - I've worked at women's shelters, built safe spaces for women in danger, listened to stories - yet I am astounded and ashamed at the huge areas of my ignorance this book points out to me. Often multiple times per page.

Read this book.
posted by Homeskillet Freshy Fresh at 12:39 PM on September 26, 2015 [12 favorites]


I'm so looking forward to reading the book.

And I love this definition Harding gives of rape culture in the Chicago Magazine interview:
Part of the reason why we talk about a rape-supportive culture is that all of these things work together, where we relentlessly question victims, blame them, scrutinize their behavior, in some cases investigate them like criminals as soon as they report a rape. That makes victims too afraid to report; prosecutors will often not file charges if there isn’t a lot of physical evidence, which there typically isn’t. Very few rapes will be fully investigated, let alone go all the way through to a conviction.

Which means we’re constantly sending the message to rapists: You can get away with it. If you play your cards right, and especially if you choose a victim who is drunk, who will be less credible tomorrow, it’s your word against hers, and everyone will err on your side. That’s the big problem that comes from this. It’s that we’re making it easier for rapists to get away with it, and to know that there are almost certainly going to be no consequences for them committing this crime. So they don’t even have to be crafty or subtle about it.
posted by jaguar at 12:45 PM on September 26, 2015 [43 favorites]


I read this book, and Harding is a good writer and I enjoy reading her books, but I don't totally understand who it is aimed at (compared to, say, Krakauer's recent book on a similar subject). It's 101, maybe 201 level -- so people who know her name because they've read her stuff before aren't going to learn much new, and she doesn't have the same draw as Krakauer does.

This sounds weirdly dismissive of her book, and I don't mean it to be, because it's well-written and well-argued and deserves to be read, I just am not sure who the audience is.
posted by jeather at 1:05 PM on September 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Kate Harding on Susan Brownmiller: When a Feminist Trailblazer Turns to Victim-Blaming, It's Time to Let Go of a Hero: Susan Brownmiller made rape the subject of national conversation, but we owe it to victims of sexual assault to denounce her recent comments.

That was an interesting article at first, but I didn't get to finish reading it because my browser was taken over by this pop up.
posted by Nevin at 1:47 PM on September 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


I got to read the article Nevin, but when I clicked on the putative link to the New York Magazine interview with Brownmiller that Harding was criticizing, Cosmopolitan, in its infinite greed, sent me to that pop-up instead.

Here's an actual link to the Brownmiller interview.
posted by jamjam at 2:00 PM on September 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


That link gave me a similar pop-up.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 2:38 PM on September 26, 2015


This sounds weirdly dismissive of her book, and I don't mean it to be, because it's well-written and well-argued and deserves to be read, I just am not sure who the audience is.

A friend's precocious 13-year-old read it and pronounced it "the best nonfiction book I've ever read," so possibly it'll wind up being Rape Culture 201 for Bright Teens, which is not the worst fate a book could have. (It's not just this one teen, either; I think her mom said there's a wait list at her school 16 kids deep.)

That said, I know a lot about rape culture and I still found it illuminating to have so many knock-down arguments in one place. And a few points -- notably the one about false rape claims sounding more like our idea of the mythical Actual Rape than real ones -- were new on me.
posted by babelfish at 2:54 PM on September 26, 2015 [20 favorites]


From the tropes link:

on 30 Rock, during an episode where Liz is plagued by an image of Pete having sex with his sleeping wife. “The viewer is supposed to be disgusted, but it doesn’t seem to indicate that it’s rape,” she says. “The disgust is meant to come as much from middle-aged people having sex as actually he’s raping his wife.” Harding adds that the scene also reinforces the trope that “anyone not deemed conventionally hot cannot be raped.”

I didn't find that scene funny at all. It was awful. I don't know too much about Paula Pell, I know she's a funny comedy writer, wrote/produced for 30 Rock. I don't get how anyone wouldn't find this scene terrible and, at the very least, so very not funny at all.

i don't know who would find it funny or why it was there. Someone should have said something during writing or production or editing, man or woman. Did Paula find it funny (I'll google it)? Though I definitely don't think it's her responsibility alone as a woman to call it out Though it makes me think that the unique pressure women and minorities feel to have to let things in the writing room go might be the reason why this was allowed. It's not only just horrifying, but it's also simply not funny at all. (Though the gross "I hate my wife, I fuck her in her sleep with my headphones in" (I think that was part of the scene) is disgusting and dehumanizing. There's such a weird lack of empathy in certain "jokes" that it is really troubling when someone isn't bothered by it.)
posted by discopolo at 2:57 PM on September 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


H “The disgust is meant to come as much from middle-aged people having sex as actually he’s raping his wife.” Harding adds that the scene also reinforces the trope that “anyone not deemed conventionally hot cannot be raped.”

Sadly, I'm not sure this was at all about middle aged people having sex as much as it was having sex with an overweight woman or overweight wife. Pete isn't even shown in the scene. Jack and Avery's gorgeous mom, Jack and Nancy Donovan, Jack and Salma Hayek's character, Jack and the woman who was on sopranos and also nurse Jackie (can't even think of her name blerg), Jack and Crazy Claire, Tracy and Sherri Shepard---we never see these scenes but the way they were framed was hot, crazy sex that wasn't revolting when it was described.

Off to find out what Paula Pell thought about the scene. I think she'd commented on it at the time but it's been awhile now.
posted by discopolo at 3:09 PM on September 26, 2015


[One comment deleted. I don't know what to tell you, if you think it's a good idea to come in here and argue that rape is already taken more seriously than other kinds of crime and that none of the things Harding points to are true. It is not a good idea, please don't do that. If you think there's no such thing as rape culture, seriously, just pass this thread by.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:32 PM on September 26, 2015 [65 favorites]




Rape culture is pernicious and pervasive. I don't think it is possible to overstate the severity of the problem. I also don't understand how it could be on the rise—at least in the developed world. It seems like it must have been at least as bad 10, 20, 50, 100 or 1000 years ago. Of course, the persistence of rape culture is alarming enough.
posted by snofoam at 4:24 PM on September 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


I also don't understand how it could be on the rise...

A history of avoidance and under-reporting and ever increasing population? Not that it matters, a phrasing like "on the rise", because feminist issues were a consciousness I didn't have until the late 80s (at university) and what progress there has been since is (or certainly feels) glacial. On some issues, not a dent. Worse, what progress is made, reaction will stifle and vilify.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 5:42 PM on September 26, 2015


After reading some of the linked articles, particularly the one on the guardian, I am now wondering: is there any piece of "live in fear" advice for which there is evidence that it is actually helpful in reducing the incidence of rape? Any at all?

I recall many years ago having a discussion (in an all-male group which is also something that makes me sad in retrospect) that obviously it's crappy to have to teach women the "cautionary techniques" that Ms. Harding recounts in her book, but assuming that like safer sex it's nevertheless a good idea. Why, why, why wouldn't I think to question whether the advice is effective?

Thank you Ms. Harding for making me actually ask that question.
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 6:14 PM on September 26, 2015 [11 favorites]




It's 101, maybe 201 level ... This sounds weirdly dismissive of her book, and I don't mean it to be, because it's well-written and well-argued and deserves to be read, I just am not sure who the audience is.

I think what we need to do with various social justice issues is push the 101, 201 level stuff in order to make meaningful changes.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:27 PM on September 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


A friend's precocious 13-year-old read it and pronounced it "the best nonfiction book I've ever read," so possibly it'll wind up being Rape Culture 201 for Bright Teens, which is not the worst fate a book could have. (It's not just this one teen, either; I think her mom said there's a wait list at her school 16 kids deep.)

Actually this is super awesome because hopefully it will help these young women push back against the tropes in a social setting leading up to their most vulnerable year. Perhaps arming them better than anyone who takes self defense classes. The stranger danger thing has taken root in our culture so deeply these days and it's a distraction from the painful truth about rape that is much more likely someone you know.
Anything that makes young women more able to identify and verbalize the sketchy behavior in their peer groups and know that respect for boundaries is paramount- instead of just accepting whatever goes on passively is an amazing leap.

Also, I do know a lot of grown ups who need to hear all of this- so many have already internalized the blame or minimized the scenario. So hard to pull back from those stances once taken.
posted by TenaciousB at 10:12 PM on September 26, 2015 [14 favorites]


I think it's a mistake to dismiss things as "101, maybe 201 level". We need things like that. I need things like that. It is very, very hard to put yourself in someone else's place; if this book can help men recognise and appreciate women's concerns then it's a good thing, even if - especially if - it's very basic.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:24 PM on September 26, 2015 [11 favorites]


I didn't find that scene funny at all. It was awful.

I know what you mean.
I was literally in shock watching Sixteen Candles that the amazing coveted HS boy (that Molly Ringwald moons over through the entire movie) actually gave away his passed out girlfriend to another boy -precisely because she was such easy pickings.
That might get to rape her was a happy and light hearted subplot, and people rooted for Michael Jay Hall to "get some".
*heaving*
posted by TenaciousB at 10:31 PM on September 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


A friend's precocious 13-year-old read it and pronounced it "the best nonfiction book I've ever read," so possibly it'll wind up being Rape Culture 201 for Bright Teens, which is not the worst fate a book could have. (It's not just this one teen, either; I think her mom said there's a wait list at her school 16 kids deep.)

Well, i at least will say i wish there had been more stuff like this when i was that age. That was EXACTLY the age at which i started having WTF moments regularly with cultural messaging i saw other boys repeating at me and eachother, but i didn't really know how to describe why it made me uncomfortable suddenly getting slapped in the face with it coming out of homeschooled whereas most had frog-boiled in it through middle school and late elementary school.

At 13, many people i know were straight up having sex. Several have told me very fucked up stories of stuff they experienced from their peers at that age.

I read several good puberty books, and was reading a lot at that age. If this had been in front of me, and i saw it online or heard about it i probably would have read it(and i bet my mom would have encouraged me to read it as well). Yea, i was a dorky ass nerd, but even understanding these concepts i was barely scratching the surface of would have been a huge improvement.

As it is, i didn't get in to this kind of stuff until late high school. And only then because i went to an alternative school that had an entire week of gender/racial/etc studies classes in the middle of the year and many friends/peers who were constantly talking about this kind of stuff and calling people out.

If i had just gone to a normal suburban or inner city highschool? Who knows. I was poking around at stuff, but it probably would have taken even longer.

Judging by how many people i have to argue rape culture even exists with now, who get seriously argumentative and defensive about it* and basically haven't examined it... we need to be getting this 101 stuff into kids hands as soon as possible.

Like, this kind of stuff needs to be a mandatory part of sex ed classes. Seriously. The one in my cities district, apparently even outside my school, went through consent... but that's really below the bare minimum at this point. The fact that it's better than quite a few areas is depressing as fuck, but it's still not enough.

*And i'm an assertive guy, who loves arguing. I'm aware both my maleness/perceived masculinity and energy to even engage are both relatively large legs up in this field, in that order.
posted by emptythought at 10:36 PM on September 26, 2015 [15 favorites]


Yeah, I liked the point (sorry, I'm forgetting from which link!) that this education was most effective in middle school, and that it would likely be even more effective earlier. Because of the Title IX lawsuits I think there's an over-focus on education in colleges, but that's way too late to start.
posted by jaguar at 10:40 PM on September 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Quoted for truth:
If a frat boy gets plastered, wanders into the street, and gets hit by a drunk driver, the driver is the criminal.
posted by straight at 10:48 PM on September 26, 2015 [36 favorites]


[One comment deleted. Sorry, but general complaints about porn, celebrities, plastic surgery, internet etc. is pretty much a super wide-ranging derail here.]
posted by taz (staff) at 11:44 PM on September 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


After reading some of the linked articles, particularly the one on the guardian, I am now wondering: is there any piece of "live in fear" advice for which there is evidence that it is actually helpful in reducing the incidence of rape? Any at all?

I saw something about a study recently: Efficacy of a Sexual Assault Resistance Program for University Women
A rigorously designed and executed sexual assault resistance program was successful in decreasing the occurrence of rape, attempted rape, and other forms of victimization among first-year university women.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 12:07 AM on September 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm glad if something like that works but can we please also figure out efficacious "do not rape, stop with the raping and assaulting already" programs aimed at potential perpetrators? Because that would be great.
posted by rtha at 12:35 AM on September 27, 2015 [26 favorites]


I'm glad if something like that works but can we please also figure out efficacious "do not rape, stop with the raping and assaulting already" programs aimed at potential perpetrators? Because that would be great.

Amen. I agree with those who wish that they had this book in middle school (or junior high as we used to call it). My first exposure to any of this was in college, not in a class, but reading "for fun" Mary Pipher's Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls. It was the first time ever in my life that anybody had said that the things that had happened to me and my friends was wrong. And I still remember this sentence that was burned into me, something along the lines of "We teach our daughters not to walk alone, or drive alone, or live alone. What are we teaching our sons?" Never, ever, had this idea been expressed in my life.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:30 AM on September 27, 2015 [19 favorites]


"It really goes to another one of these myths: if a woman has had sex before voluntarily, that’s when rape becomes the trivial event. We have the idea that the real horror and crime of rape is about defiling a virgin’s purity. So if she’s voluntarily had sex, it’s just one more penis inside her. And that’s a fundamental misunderstanding of rape, which is about violating someone’s personal autonomy, and robbing someone of the decision of what to do with their body..."

This is an ongoing deeply-laden idea that 'rape' is seen as such when it defiles another man's 'property' and not simply and utterly the woman's autonomy. That is such a freighted idea, that it might not occur to people to really own how much Woman is still a social construct of a Person Who Functions For Others, and not as Person For Herself.

****

Related: There is a bit of a media storm here in Australia about a retired footy player making a quip about two women, a mother and her 18 year old daughter [coincidentally walking by his speaking event at a pub on their way somewhere else] being the strippers he'd hired. The women complained and the mother said that this football 'comedian' and his antics contribute to Australia's 'thug' attitudes which cause gender violence. The interesting thing is the comments on this story. All the usual suspects of 'argument' but a definite line between the genders - with many men writing that the women should get over it, it was funny and why the fuck are they even upset, they probably just want attention, and isn't there an international crisis we should be crying about instead? What you'd expect. But:

The heartening thing is that these blokes were nailed over and over with comments from clued in women and allied men supporting them eloquently. In relation to these articles, I can see that the retorts and educative commentaries provided in internet forums and news settings are now also being shaped and clearly argued from a position that Harding and others have helpfully defined and constructed. I just don't think there was ever a vocabulary for this saturation of ideology that wasn't a bit rarified in academics, rather than the now far more ubiquitous terminologies of rape culture. I choke up at the pics of young women attached to extremely concise and no-bullshit comments - go gals, you are using the right words and getting to the heart of the argument.
posted by honey-barbara at 3:34 AM on September 27, 2015 [16 favorites]


thank you for that paper link, save alive nothing that breatheth. and the paper pdf wasn't even paywalled.
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 5:52 AM on September 27, 2015


This story was making the rounds on Facebook the other day from a woman who was on the subway who witnessed a large man intensely verbally harassing a young woman, lecturing her loudly for "exposing her monkey", following her as she tried to move away from him, and generally complaining about women being slurs and whores. The woman telling the story intervened standing between the man and young woman but no one else on the car did anything to stop it.

But the real gut punch was after the scene settled down, an older woman who had been sitting by not doing anything said to our storyteller, "he had a point. She shouldn't be dressing like that."

Rape culture. Burn it all down.
posted by dry white toast at 6:43 AM on September 27, 2015 [28 favorites]


But there is something very wrong when you’re telling women (and only women) to keep their hair short, only dress in ways that no one could consider “provocative,” only dress in clothing that is difficult to cut off with scissors (so, Kevlar jeans, I guess?), and never use their phones or search through their purses in public.

Happy for her that she got a book deal and a bunch of press but I've never heard any of this. "Only dress in clothing that is difficult to cut off with scissors?" "Keep your hair short?"
posted by sfkiddo at 9:14 AM on September 27, 2015


I read that same Facebook post, dry white toast. One of the most appalling things about it is that the man is well known for that sort of behavior, and there are people who think that it makes him just a colorful local character.

(Also, I swear I've seen him commenting on at least one article about rape on Raw Story--a rambling screed about women 'showing monkey' when they wear yoga pants on the subway.)
posted by LindsayIrene at 9:25 AM on September 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


From Snopes:

Claim: Heeding the advice given in a popular e-mail missive will keep you from becoming a rape victim.
FALSE
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2001]
...The #1 thing men look for in a potential victim is hairstyle. They are most likely to go after a woman with a ponytail, bun, braid, or other hairstyle that can easily be grabbed. They are also likely to go after a woman with long hair. Women with short hair are not as common targets.

The #2 thing men look for is clothing. They will look for women who's clothing is easy to remove quickly. The #1 outfit they look for is overalls because many of them carry scissors around to cut clothing and on overalls the straps can be easily cut...
posted by jaguar at 9:25 AM on September 27, 2015 [7 favorites]


Happy for her that she got a book deal and a bunch of press but I've never heard any of this. "Only dress in clothing that is difficult to cut off with scissors?" "Keep your hair short?"

When I moved to New York City circa 2006, my mother asked me to cut my hair short so that no one could grab me by the ponytail on the street. As a young girl I was told not to wear overalls because they were easier to wrestle off an unwilling victim than regular pants. Not even getting into all the outright instructions I was given about skirts, dresses, heels, and make-up making me a target. Obviously these are bullshit -- and life experience demonstrates that -- but young girls are told these pernicious myths as if taking part in these rituals -- no ponytails, no overalls, no skirts, no high heels, on and on and on -- will somehow protect us from the stranger danger. The unspoken message being: if you don't take part, you didn't do everything you could to stop it.
posted by none of these will bring disaster at 10:54 AM on September 27, 2015 [10 favorites]


That email is still going around, and it pops up on Tumblr and Facebook on a regular basis, too, usually accompanied by a stock photo of a teen girl with a man's hand over her mouth.
posted by LindsayIrene at 11:43 AM on September 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


When I moved to New York City circa 2006, my mother asked me to cut my hair short so that no one could grab me by the ponytail on the street.

My niece started university in a large city in Japan this past spring. She's living on her own, and as I recall her mother (my sister-in-law) was explaining to her about "situational awareness" on the way home from the train station. The apartment also could not be located on the ground floor, in order to ensure no one could climb in the window. And no elevators, because you can get trapped in one... Awful stuff, really...
posted by Nevin at 11:54 AM on September 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


My mom started teaching me about situational awareness and rape prevention before I started school, as in before kindergarten. Boys sexually harassing girls started... second grade? Certainly by fourth. We had sex ed for the first time in 5th grade. Consent was not covered, just reproductive biology and how male pleasure factored into that. I was aware of sexual assaults between my classmates starting when I was in 6th grade. I would be so happy if affirmative consent became part of regular sex ed curriculum.
posted by bile and syntax at 3:55 PM on September 27, 2015 [14 favorites]


Is there any resource for what information to share with young women at different ages?

This book sounds like something I'd want to introduce my daughter to when she's 13 or so. But she's 6, in first grade. I have no idea what I should be telling her now, other than stuff I tell both her and her twin brother ("your body is yours, and if somebody touches you in a way that makes you uncomfortable then you scream your head off and yell for help", etc.).
posted by ArmandoAkimbo at 8:57 PM on September 27, 2015


I generally dislike the website for various too-complicated-to-get-into-here reasons, but this list on the Good Men Project website is really good for ideas about teaching consent and bodily autonomy to kids (which is definitely important to teach to young boys, too!):

The Healthy Sex Talk: Teaching Kids Consent, Ages 1-21
posted by jaguar at 9:18 PM on September 27, 2015


Yep, I've heard the "keep your hair short" thing and the "wear clothes scissors can't easily cut through" thing. I was more surprised she didn't include the "walk everywhere at night with your hand in a fist and your keys sticking out between your fingers" thing, or the "don't yell for help if you're attacked, yell fire instead so people will come help you" thing. A woman was recently raped in my neighborhood, she yelled for help but nobody came (and the cops never came after being called, either) . I hated myself when I heard about it and the first thought that popped into my head was "welp, shoulda yelled fire instead."

Rape culture: you're soaking in it.
posted by palomar at 9:28 PM on September 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


the antecedent of that pronoun: "After reading some of the linked articles, particularly the one on the guardian, I am now wondering: is there any piece of "live in fear" advice for which there is evidence that it is actually helpful in reducing the incidence of rape? Any at all?"
save alive nothing that breatheth: "I saw something about a study recently: A rigorously designed and executed sexual assault resistance program was successful in decreasing the occurrence of rape, attempted rape, and other forms of victimization among first-year university women."


Perhaps worth noting for those who don't follow the link, the control condition was the usual sexual assault brochures with "live in fear" advice, and the experimental condition was a 12-hour program that included problem-solving strategies to reduce assailant advantages, and training in verbal and physical resistance to coercion.

The study also references a review of what does and doesn't work in rape prevention programs, available here (pdf).
posted by gingerest at 12:45 AM on September 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


. I also don't understand how it could be on the rise—at least in the developed world. It seems like it must have been at least as bad 10, 20, 50, 100 or 1000 years ago. Of course, the persistence of rape culture is alarming enough.

No one who studies history would ever suggest that rape culture is on the rise. The rape culture of today - as bad as it is - is nothing compared to the rape culture of yesteryear - or yester-century. We're talking about a time in which people debated whether marital rape was even possible (and at times concluded that it wasn't). I thought I understood this, but even I was shocked when I read Samuel Pepys's diary and how he casually assaulted his female domestic servants - and how his wife blamed them and kicked them out of the house (into who knows what). (there are articles and books which detail just how common sexual assault was in the past -- assaults on servants, on slaves, on people of colour, on sex workers, and on just about anyone else who was vulnerable in any way).
posted by jb at 1:48 AM on September 28, 2015 [6 favorites]


the fact that we're even talking about "rape culture" is part of how much less it is: before it was just "culture".
posted by jb at 1:50 AM on September 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


No one who studies history would ever suggest that rape culture is on the rise. The rape culture of today - as bad as it is - is nothing compared to the rape culture of yesteryear - or yester-century. We're talking about a time in which people debated whether marital rape was even possible (and at times concluded that it wasn't). I thought I understood this, but even I was shocked when I read Samuel Pepys's diary and how he casually assaulted his female domestic servants - and how his wife blamed them and kicked them out of the house (into who knows what).

This sheds an interesting light on a related point Brownmiller makes in the NY Mag interview:
Also, they [college women] are not the chief targets of rapists. Young women and all women in housing projects and ghettos are still in far greater danger than college girls.

So what would you tell the college activists right now?
Extend your focus to the larger percentage of women and girls who are in danger of being raped. They are more important than the college kids. ...
And that Harding largely agrees with:
Let me start with the points where I agree with Brownmiller: I believe the media focuses excessively on campus rape, which dangerously narrows the scope of the problem facing us. Images of young, usually white women and idyllic campuses are attractive to news outlets, but rape happens to people of all genders and ages, from every walk of life.
I think Brownmiller and Harding are right that poor women and women of color are far more likely to be raped than the white college women media prefer to focus on, and that the plight of such women is "more important", but the only way rights and justice have developed in this country is by extension from the most privileged to those with (slightly) less privilege in slowly widening circles.

The celebrated protections and privileges enshrined in our constitution as the Bill of Rights, for example, were intended by the founders to apply only to wealthy landholding men, no women whatsoever, and quite explicitly not slaves, but they have gradually though incompletely expanded to include a more general population, so I'm inclined to regard the current focus on college women as a necessary prelude -- but only a prelude.
posted by jamjam at 11:42 AM on September 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


This story was making the rounds on Facebook the other day from a woman who was on the subway who witnessed a large man intensely verbally harassing a young woman, lecturing her loudly for "exposing her monkey", following her as she tried to move away from him, and generally complaining about women being slurs and whores. The woman telling the story intervened standing between the man and young woman but no one else on the car did anything to stop it.

This is a well-known Toronto resident named Zanta. He used to be more harmless; he'd always wear a Santa hat, and was known for being very loud all over town, often shirtless, and doing pushups everywhere. In the past decade-ish he's been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and has gotten much, much scarier--I think he's not being treated effectively.

Please note this is neither to excuse his actions nor to conflate mental illness with verbal assaults (or indeed assaults of any sort). Just background. He's been banned from transit, so I am curious as to how and why he was let on the subway. He needs better treatment, obviously, and for a few years now I think there's been a lot of people realizing he's no longer That Harmless Dude In The Hat and is actually scary. I hope that he goes to inpatient care before something bad happens, as there's been a steady escalation in his aggression level.

And nobody takes it seriously of course, because the people he gets aggressive with are virtually always women.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:14 PM on September 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


This Buzzfeed news article from this weekend details what happened to one woman who reported her sexual assault to the Prince William County (VA) police. It is not encouraging.
posted by mhum at 2:00 PM on September 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


Sounds like he’s a classic missing stair.
posted by pharm at 5:18 AM on September 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


There was an attempted sexual assault over the weekend in the small Canadian city where I live. It happened on campus at the local university (about 20,000 students attend the university).

Campus is organized according to a (circular) ring road. Most classrooms and so on are located on the inside of the ring. Student dorms are located on the other side of the ring road, and there are walking and jogging trails through the woods near the dorms.

Apparently a young woman was attacked by a group of (presumably) men. Not many details have been released, but apparently she left a group of friends and was dragged into the woods.

Luckily a passer-by stopped the attack before an actual physical or sexual assault occurred.

The assailants fled, and the "Good Samaritan" has chosen to remain anonymous so far.

On the local subreddit, which is really popular with university and community college students in town, the big debate is whether or not women "should be more vigilant."

Reddit being Reddit, the main takeaway is that women have to watch their surroundings at all time.

Now, terrible things happen in this city from time to time, but I've never heard of this sort of thing happening at the university before. A gang of men attempting to abduct a woman. It's shocking.

It's a small, friendly campus. But I guess not anymore.
posted by Nevin at 11:55 AM on September 29, 2015


UVic? That's terrifying.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:59 AM on September 29, 2015


Yeah. If you want to be annoyed, check out r/victoriabc
posted by Nevin at 12:00 PM on September 29, 2015


Nah, I've sworn off the cesspool that is reddit. I hope the woman in question is getting the counselling and support she needs, and I hope those men get locked up for a long fucking time.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:15 PM on September 29, 2015




No one who studies history would ever suggest that rape culture is on the rise.

I took issue with the comparative "on the rise" because it can make what is happening now reflexively dismissive when we are able to compare it to ... oh I dunno, say, the last 25 years? But, I have to wonder, whose culture, where and whose life experiences do we compare things to? For many women (mine included) it still is part of the culture. Just look to Canada's appalling record with regard to indigenous women, or how the police dealt with the missing women in the DTES, or the Highway of Tears.

and generally complaining about women being slurs and whores.

I'm volunteering somewhere incredibly conservative and Christian (I had no idea I didn't stay long) and this women says, "did you see the waitresses at the new pub that re-opened recently? They all dress like sluts!" I said, "if you're going to bad mouth others at least get your vernacular right. They're not sluts, they're whores! They get paid to do what they do!" This place has a policy against work place hostility and even has a special 1-800 number you can call anonymously, but I'm drowning in it and compared to other things I've witnessed there I'd be surprised if this got a raised eyebrow.


"live in fear" advice


I live a few blocks from where the prostitutes work and I get harassed badly because the default assumption around here is if you're unarmed and not escorted by a small battalion of men you must be (sexually) available to any interested male that wanders by.

Most recently, I was at a second hand store and spied a toy dog in a shopping cart. I said, "oh hey cutie!" to the dog and reached down to pet it. "Who are you calling cutie? Me or the dog?" (oh geez) I glanced over at the voice who asked the question, but didn't comment on what I thought was a flirtation. I went back to petting the dog when I felt a hand patting the crown of my head, then stroking my hair as he said, "good doggie!" several times. I told him to get his hands off of me as I glared at him. "what are you going to do, kill me?" I thought, but didn't say, "no, but I'd like to break your arm so you think twice about touching a stranger again, but I don't know how to do that." I looked away.

It took 5 hours for the police to return my call and by then it was pointless; I felt embarrassed/humiliated? for calling and felt like I was wasting their time. The female cop told me to "be safe" and when I explained how bad it can be around here (she should know) she told me I should move. Where to, hun? Mars? I told my partner I wanted to learn how to defend myself and his answer was to give me a weapon (baton, pepper spray) which requires me to be even more hypervigilant than already I am. Ironically, I had a folding knife in my bag, but it never even occurred to me to use it in a threatening manner.

(I wrote this a few days ago. I waffle a lot on whether I should contribute to threads like these because of my history ... )
posted by redindiaink at 8:04 AM on October 1, 2015













This Buzzfeed news article from this weekend details what happened to one woman who reported her sexual assault to the Prince William County (VA) police. It is not encouraging.


That story is horrific but important. I mean I feel crappy saying it's "important" but it is. I couldn't finish it in one go because it's just too much but plan to finish eventually.
posted by zutalors! at 10:31 AM on October 26, 2015


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