Monday, November 1, 2010

Seven Points On Rape, Prevention, and Blame.

Okay. That one post seemed to provoke a bit of a clusterfuck, and although one obnoxious dude was about 75% of it, he wasn't all of it. So here are some clarifications about why "I'm not blaming victims, but women should follow some common sense advice" is bullshit.



1. Preaching rape prevention at or about a rape victim is like telling a 9/11 widow "you know, he shouldn't have been on a plane that day." Thanks a ton, Reverse Nostradamus. Everyone is stunned by your brilliant ability to predict the past consequences of actions in the past. For an encore will you tell me the lottery numbers I should have picked last Wednesday?



2. Rape prevention tips are almost never effective against partners and friends. You can be as twitchy as you like on the sidewalk or in the parking lot, but there's a 65% chance (of reported rapes, so you can kinda imagine) that it's the person you come home and sleep next to that you have to worry about.

Anecdotally, all the victims of sexual violence that I know personally were victimized by someone they already knew, in their home or their attacker's. (And none of them have formally reported it, because of the perceived--probably real--impossibility of going to the police with a story about "I've had sex with this guy lots of times and I was in his house and he didn't leave any marks and I didn't call 911 but it was rape." All this Stranger Danger bullshit about avoiding parked vans and keeping your keys in your hand wouldn't have done shit for a single rape victim that I know.



3. Rape prevention tips tend to overlap suspiciously well with "be a proper little lady" tips. Gosh, dressing conservatively and not getting drunk and not being out on my own and not getting too close to strangers will protect me from rape! I'll buy my prairie dress and arrange a suitable male escort home from my 7PM prayer meeting at once!

Having freedom of movement and expression isn't worth getting raped, but frankly, it is worth a 0.0001% chance of getting raped. This tends to be discounted by people who drive on highways and take plane flights without a second thought.



4. These tips disproportionately come from guys who don't see any such restrictions applying to themselves. Sucks to be you, ladies, but I don't make the rules! ...I just enjoy declaring what they are.



5. The implication sometimes arises--in rape as with no other crime--that if the victim can be blamed, then it's no longer rape at all. A robbery victim who acted incredibly reckless and gullible may be called stupid, but they won't be accused of giving their money as a gift. But rape seems to be somehow diminished if the victim was taking an extraordinary risk of rape, as if "I'll take a shortcut through the park, even if I am still dressed for clubbing" was an equivalent thought to "I'd like to have sex with just anyone who comes along."



6. The resulting discussions invariably make rapists out to be some kind of inevitable force of nature. Rapers gonna rape, what can you do. The idea that anyone can be educated about or deterred from committing sexual violence is dismissed out of hand. The discussion of rape becomes all about the victim and her choices, and despite some "rape is bad, yo" lip service, the rapist's choices go unremarked upon until they disappear and some chick apparently raped herself.

To the response, "well, do you think rape is just totally random and can never ever be predicted, huh", I refer you up to my friend Reverse Nostradamus in point 1, since you two seem to share a talent for predicting rapes that already happened.

Yes, one could technically construct an actuarial table correlating certain behaviors with an increased risk of rape, but:
-No one's actually done this, to my knowledge, so Internet know-it-alls are just going with the "common sense" approach involving prairie dresses.
-Most of the differences would likely be tiny, and arguably not worth the cost to the potential victim's freedom and quality of life. (I.e., if you decide avoiding rape is worth a million dollars, but something only decreases your rape chances by 0.0001%, then if that something costs more than $1, it's not worth it. Yes, you voluntarily increased your rape chances, but infinitesimally, and rape is not the only variable in your life.)
-All those pesky rapes by friends and partners would skew the data so hard you'd think the riskiest behavior of all was sleeping in your own home.



7. "But" is the ultimate bullshit word in these discussions. You know how someone who's not "I'm not racist but" is about to spout some Klan talking points? Someone who's "I'm not blaming the victim, and the rapist is a horrible person, and in her case maybe there was nothing she could do, but" is hiding a whole lot of misogyny and rape-apologism and blame in their but.

92 comments:

  1. to add something -

    it's FACT that the rate-of-rape is *HIGHER* in societies where women dress "in a conservative manner".

    i.e. in places where women are in burkhas, the rate-of-committed-rapes is HIGHER than in places where women are in BIKINIS.


    other than that - *SO* spot on. i am SO SICK of people NOT GETTING it. if a person [99% if the time, a man] decides s/he's going to rape you, it doesn't MATTER what you do. or don't do. unless you can actually fight them off [rare and difficult], you're raped bcuz asshole decided to rape.

    Veronica Mars had a story-line that covered this BEAUTIFULLY. there was a guy, student at local college, who'd roofie random women. the scene where VM is "taking him down" [i.e. PROVING that he's the rapist] there's this creepy monologue he gives, where he tells the roofied girl that, if he spent the time talking to her, took her on a date, etc, she WOULD of course put out - but he doesn't have the *TIME* to do all that, so "ALL i'm doing is saving us some time".

    it was... evil. creepy evil. and true, for a significant portion of rapists.

    *shudder*

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  2. Love this post. "Rape is not the only variable in her life" is the point that's constantly missed by the anti-rape-advice-givers... that troll-ish dude in the other thread was claiming that women engage in bad strategy, but the thing is, a woman doesn't know she's supposed to be "strategizing" to outwit a rapist until it's too late. Her strategy decisions are revolving around normal everyday things, not the once-in-a-lifetime occurrence of rape. Things like having a good time, keeping her friends happy, meeting hot guys, not getting a DUI, whatever. Those examples are centered around social life, but real-life goals women have include, say, getting along with co-workers (even if one of them gives her the creeps) or saving on transportation costs (even if that involves walking from the bus stop). No one can ignore those things all the time just to focus on rape prevention strategies.

    The other thing is that the so-called common sense risk factors women are warned of are things that seem normal, except on the rare occasions when something bad comes of them. Things like getting drunk while out with friends (something college students do every week), or going out on a date with someone they don't know well. A young woman who actually refused to let her date walk her home, or to have a beer with friends in a fellow student's dorm room, would seem weird and paranoid, not "sensible." But if the guy sexually assaulted her in these circumstances, people would be saying "where was her common sense?" Makes no sense, really.

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  3. I keep getting set straight by this blog. Not so much turned around 180 degrees, but nudge that last bit on subjects where I was almost there anyway. First one the people you put up with when you talk about gay marriage. I'm voting straight Republican this year, but regarding gay marriage, I'm done getting upset about it. Go nuts. Since partners can be on insurance now, and that was really my last argument, I just say whatever makes you happy.

    And now the rape list. I've been at least one of those people. I still reserve the right to question someone's judgment when they put themselves in a dangerous position, but even the most careless behavior is no license for someone to whip his dick out and go crazy, stranger, friend, roommate, whatever.

    "Guys" do this. I try not to be a "guy." I try to take Lili Taylor's advice from "Say Anything." Be a man.

    Mitch

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  4. Yes yes yes. So much yes. Your point #7, the "but" thing, is actually something I've been thinking about a lot recently, and once I have the stomach to post on the subject of rape again, I'll actually post what I wrote about it to my blog. But I'm waiting for the drama to clear a bit first, I guess.

    You are really amazing at dealing with a lot of unprovoked internet drama, by the way. Have I mentioned that lately?

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  5. You are really amazing at dealing with a lot of unprovoked internet drama, by the way. Have I mentioned that lately?

    I'm taking a lot of medications right now.

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  6. Holly, the medication has nothing to do with it. You're flat-out one of the more excellent people alive.

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  8. I know my gender makes my thoughts irrelevant, but I'll post them anyway...

    I think this discussion suffers problem of semantics. In common parlance, "blame" and synonyms have multiple meanings, and depending on which one you have in mind, discussions of victim blaming swing between heartless to logically inconsistent.

    We need to separate no-fault causality/covariance from liability/culpability (unfortunately, I can't think of any common words that have the necessary definitions).

    Simply, a victim's physical presence and even behavior have a no-fault causality - the rape could not have happened without, or likelihood was influenced by them. It acknowledges the logical and statistical connections, but assigns no moral liability.

    Culpability (the moral responsibility for causing rape) is solely the rapist's. The rapist is the only person with total agency to rape or not rape, and has complete moral responsiblity for that choice and action.

    If you swap the two meanings (causality/culpability), you end up in a catch-22 where you're either logically wrong and your opponent morally wrong, or vice-versa.

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  9. So, this post (and many others) makes me want to link you on reddit. On the one hand, lots of readers; on the other hand, lots of readers, many of whom are trolls.

    I won't submit a link unless given explicit permission, but know that I think this post is awesome.

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  10. I'm guessing you've already seen this, but in case you haven't:

    http://feminally.tumblr.com/post/168208983/sexual-assault-prevention-tips-guaranteed-to-work

    And I agree with Quizzical Pussy-- your adeptness in handling internet bullshit is really impressive. I envy it.

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  11. Rowdy - I tend to find that distinction useful specifically in terms of a legal framework, in showing what acts have a causal chain-of-events connection to a breach of the law but are not actually the cause of the breach.
    Example: If I go to a railway station 20 minutes late because I took too long to get ready for a night out, and am injured when a drunk passenger on the train I get onto punches me in the face, my lateness contributed to my presence on that particular train, and therefore to the causal chain of events, but I'm clearly not to blame for the glassing; the drunk passenger's action is directly causally responsible for my injury.

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  12. I think many of the "but's" come from this: "yes, definition 2 is true for B BUT definition 1 is true for A" It's a false duality. Without realizing this, it gets rebutted by "you misogynist pig, definition 2 is absolutely NOT TRUE for A" (which was never asserted, you see the confusion).
    -----

    RANT @ previous thread

    To suggest that a man's decision to rape is somehow involuntary due to the victim's actions is just fucking offensive. Really? My cock somehow makes me stupid? Or not human?

    To suggest that as a man, I have nothing to contribute (as many have said or implied) to discussions on rape is also offensive. If men are excluded from discussions on rape, then de facto we've still got women bearing the responsibility for rape and men being involuntary parties to it... exactly the problem we're trying to solve. Secondly, we know lots more than most women do about what it's like to be socialized as a male, which just might be insightful if you'd bother asking.

    Rape discussions are not free license for misandry. We're not striving to reverse misogyny, we're striving to end gender hate, and we should act as such.

    Why do we vilify and dehumanize rapists, and defend it in the name of helping victims heal? Can't we come up with something better? Nobody deserves to be treated as anything less than human, ever, though some people should experience their humanity from behind bars.

    It's not just about Mr. What About The Men and Ms. Traditional Values as if all we need to do is enlighten them to our side and they'll come around.

    Nor is it just about the heart of stone, monolith of evil, seed of the devil, rapist, as if that's their only significance to the world and they could all just be rounded up, put on a rocket to the moon, that'd be that.

    It's also about our society, our culture - how (and in many different ways) people are socialized to treat sex, gender, and consent... and how that influences the myriad of causes and types of rape.

    It's also about how we're socialized to respond to rape, to respond as victims, to victims, and to rapists. The American experience of rape is not universal (nor is it even universal within our society), maybe there's a better way? One that's healthier, less traumatic?

    We need to consider all of these in any real discussion of sexual violence - them, us, our society. Arguing who is to 'blame' is a grand oversimplification and does little to constructively address the issue. We need an alternate narrative, a way things go that gradually assimilates a healthier sexuality into the culture.

    The fact for many people is that consent is complicated, despite how we wish it to be, or practice it ourselves.

    \RANT

    W00T @ Holly for getting quoted at yesmeansyesblog
    i go bed now, holly can have her blog back

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  13. I think many of the "but's" come from this: "yes, definition 2 is true for B BUT definition 1 is true for A" It's a false duality. Without realizing this, it gets rebutted by "you misogynist pig, definition 2 is absolutely NOT TRUE for A" (which was never asserted, you see the confusion).
    -----

    RANT @ previous thread

    To suggest that a man's decision to rape is somehow involuntary due to the victim's actions is just fucking offensive. Really? My cock somehow makes me stupid? Or not human?

    To suggest that as a man, I have nothing to contribute (as many have said or implied) to discussions on rape is also offensive. If men are excluded from discussions on rape, then de facto we've still got women bearing the responsibility for rape and men being involuntary parties to it... exactly the problem we're trying to solve. Secondly, we know lots more than most women do about what it's like to be socialized as a male, which just might be insightful if you'd bother asking.

    Rape discussions are not free license for misandry. We're not striving to reverse misogyny, we're striving to end gender hate, and we should act as such.

    Why do we vilify and dehumanize rapists, and defend it in the name of helping victims heal? Can't we come up with something better? Nobody deserves to be treated as anything less than human, ever, though some people should experience their humanity from behind bars.

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  14. It's not just about Mr. What About The Men and Ms. Traditional Values as if all we need to do is enlighten them to our side and they'll come around.

    Nor is it just about the heart of stone, monolith of evil, seed of the devil, rapist, as if that's their only significance to the world and they could all just be rounded up, put on a rocket to the moon, that'd be that.

    It's also about our society, our culture - how (and in many different ways) people are socialized to treat sex, gender, and consent... and how that influences the myriad of causes and types of rape.

    It's also about how we're socialized to respond to rape, to respond as victims, to victims, and to rapists. The American experience of rape is not universal (nor is it even universal within our society), maybe there's a better way? One that's healthier, less traumatic?

    We need to consider all of these in any real discussion of sexual violence - them, us, our society. Arguing who is to 'blame' is a grand oversimplification and does little to constructively address the issue. We need an alternate narrative, a way things go that gradually assimilates a healthier sexuality into the culture.

    The fact for many people is that consent is complicated, despite how we wish it to be, or practice it ourselves.

    \RANT

    W00T @ Holly for getting quoted at yesmeansyesblog
    i go bed now, holly can have her blog back

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  15. Ixr - Anyone has my permission to link me anywhere. (Well, I'd sort of prefer not to be up on explicit anti-feminist sites, but they don't care what I want anyway, and you know what I'm saying.)

    Rowdy - Your gender doesn't disqualify you! However, talking about the "mere causality" of the victim's actions tends to unintentionally imply culpability in many people's minds. And frankly it's irrelevant; if the causality is morally meaningless, why bring it up?

    And I agree about our entire society being a problem and I find that problem huge and nigh-unfathomable, something I'm more comfortable gnawing at the ankles of than attempting to digest whole.

    I am very comfortable with weird metaphors.

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  16. So, if the most rapes are commited by friends/partners, there is supposed to be no responcibility for chosing yourself such a friend/partner either?

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  17. Anon - Of course not! If someone chooses a partner who wears a sign around their neck reading "I WILL RAPE YOU," the victim was clearly acting in a reckless and foolhardy manner!

    Also, I love your use of "responsibility" (er, "responcibility"), as it really hammers in the "she raped herself" image like no other. You did a bad thing, victim, and I expect an apology.

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  18. I really don't understand why some people are so desperate to make the victim somehow be at fault in situations like this. Is it because they think if they can put the victim at fault, they and their loved ones will be safe as long as they don't make the same mistakes? Or is it that they sympathize more with the rapist than the victim? Or something else entirely? I don't get it.

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  19. @Holly - clever use of 'however' instead of 'but' to dismiss me anyway, thanks.

    The point of bringing it up is that it is inevitably brought up (as in your last post), and people go on yelling at each other and getting offended and the conversation doesn't get any further - when they're completely misunderstanding each other.

    So what if the sky was blue that day? It's morally irrelevant, but why pick a fight over it? It discredits your argument when you try to suppress logically true information. You should instead clarify the appropriate meaning being discussed rather than censor it because 'oh noes the stupids might get confuzed'

    I think part of it is you immediately assume that anyone positing a logical connection is attempting to make a moral liability out of it - this is not always the case (though sadly it sometimes is).

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  20. I wasn't dismissing you! I was straight up disagreeing. Let me try and phrase a different objection: someone's choice of which logically true information they present is often biased. When all the logically-true, technically-causative actions of a victim are presented in detail, and the same is not done for the attacker, it creates a slant. Without stating a single falsehood or opinion, someone who tells you "she was wearing a short skirt and she was drinking at a frat party and she got raped" is implying that she's to blame.

    I don't want to suppress or censor information, but I do want it to be presented in context, not cherry-picked for which facts best fit certain preconceptions.

    Also (not that you said otherwise, but I think it's important to reiterate) the logically true information is most often more like "she was hanging out in her sweatpants and her ex rang the doorbell and she let him in to talk." All the back-and-forthing about short skirts (which I've been participating in as well, I realize) tends to diminish the fact that most rape victims were dressed totally boringly anyway.

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  21. I remember my high school teacher, a male very interested in us little girls if that interests you, told me in class that if I were to walk through a certain well known park on my way home at night; well, I'd know what I was asking for. This coming from a teacher that was teaching us about moral, ethics etc. Little did I know that most men rape at home. It's actually logic - there's bed, warmth, shower near by. Pretty few people are ever ready to fuck in the open, cold, and rapists are people. Ordinary people.

    My rapist was a father, has two daughters and a very well respected job. He was also the husband of my ex-boyfriend's best friend. And he raped me in my then-boyfriend's bed when I was sleeping. My two friends were raped by their boyfriend, at home, my gay friend was raped by a date (older man, no less) and one friend was raped by a family friend in her family's house when she was not yet 12. None of the women I know today got any justice, nor did I. I was maybe the only one to go to the police, but I was not the only one to tell family and friends. It made no difference.

    I probably could have changed a lot of things, but the only thing that would have prevented three of these four rapes, would've been not to have a relationship with a man. The one, I guess, could've only bee stopped by the acts of her parents.

    So, those kind of insinuating culpability statements? I see right through them. And I don't see it as a gender issue, but I do get annoyed, when someone gets all twisted up for the good guys. We are the good guys. Let's all just blame the rapists and maybe, maybe they won't do it again. That's all I really dare to hope for.

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  22. Let me try and phrase a different objection: someone's choice of which logically true information they present is often biased. When all the logically-true, technically-causative actions of a victim are presented in detail, and the same is not done for the attacker, it creates a slant.

    I wonder if part of why that happens so often (presenting in detail the victim's actions and not the rapist's) is because the victim is (one hopes) still around to talk to and is willing to talk, whereas the rapist (too) often isn't caught (and therefore the rapist's actions can't be presented in the same degree of detail). Human nature being what it is, people often endlessly pick at and chew over the information they have available (even if it's 99% useless in the practical senseless and utterly irrelevant in the moral culpability sense to which Rowdy referred), just because it's there.

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  23. This is amazing. I think one of the most important things that I'm taking away from this is the prevalence of rape within existing relationships, and how useless a constant dialogue focused on the scary creeper man in the bushes and the irresponsible, provocatively-dressed girl really is. That's not how most assaults happen!

    It's so easy for rapists to not be the scary man in the bushes. It must be so much simpler to think yourself entitled to a woman's body just because you know her.

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  24. - - is because the victim is (one hopes) still around to talk to and is willing to talk, whereas the rapist (too) often isn't caught (and therefore the rapist's actions can't be presented in the same degree of detail).

    I just don't believe this, nor do I think there really is any misconception about the semantics concerning culpability vs. causality like Rowdy poses. The rapists were all there to be questioned in all the aftermatches of rape incidents I know from real life, but people just wouldn't touch the subject. It was easier to brush it off as "a play gone foul" and we all were gently reared towards therapy. Even our closest family wouldn't take a stand, because somehow they thought it was mussyfussy. "It's not rape-rape", like Whoopi Goldberg so profoundly stated regarding the Polanski-case and showed us all how the myths of a bush-rapist really shape our perceptions of consent and real rape.

    Just to name a few examples: Even a couple of years ago it wasn't considered rape if the woman was wearing jeans, because they were considered too hard to get off in a rape scenario. (Italy) A raped woman got no justice because she was wearing a short skirt. (Sweden) A man that barged in to help the rape victim got prosecuted for battery (of the rapist). (Sweden or Finland)

    It's been researched that in rape cases, the battery goes largely unpunished. If a woman is seriously harmed during the rape, the rapist will still get a lesser sentence than he would it it was just a battery, because physical harm is expected. Rape, in and on itself is still not seen as a crime enough to send someone in jail for. If the woman is not physically harmed at all, (or the molestation didn't leave marks and can't be proven) it is usually not considered rape at all, and will go unpunished - like my case.

    The myths about things that women could do to prevent men from raping are seriously harming all the rape victims and the freedom of choice of those who have been more lucky. The myths are creating an unjust world, where rape goes unpunished and rape victims are punished even after the fact by leading questions, insinuations about causalities, the burden to prove the rapist quilty and the shame and permanent emotional trauma that comes with rape and the very usual fact that their experience count for nothing and after all the pain of revealing their most fragile self in public, there still will be no justice, and most of the time, not even real empathy -without a but.

    Thank you, Holly for writing both these posts.

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  25. If there weren't so many trolls so ready to blame and shame women for being attacked, more women would share their stories, and the trolls might see the effect sexual violence has on women they care about. Publicly standing up for victims benefits everyone. (Full disclosure: I became much more sensitive after reading a friend's account of being date-raped in high school. I wasn't exactly a troll, but I deeply regret some "jokes" I made in her presence.)

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  26. @Rowdy

    I can totally relate. I mean, I know how annoyed I get when those uppity black people keep me out of discussions on race when I know more than they do on what it's like to grow up in society as a white person, and they could learn SO MUCH from me. If they'd only just ask.

    God, when will MY perspective on this issue be considered? No one ever listens to white people. Why won't they let ME help THEM to help themselves? It's like reverse racism or something!

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  27. @Rowdy

    If you so badly want to have discussions about rape, go and do so with your male friends or create your own space for it, instead of whining like an entitled asshole about how you're not allowed into the spaces women have created for themselves.

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  28. Them last two anons sure told you, Rowdy! Ee-yaw, ee-yaw!

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  29. I found your blog from "that post," and wanted to say that I like the frank and factual way you write about rape prevention and the people who surround the topic of rape. There are too many people who focus on "stranger danger" and blame victims.

    Thanks.

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  30. Actually, it is interesting that even the men I know who participate in discussions about rape very rarely start them--it seems like there's definitely room for guys to talk to other guys about rape prevention (and it would probably be more effective than 90% of the rape prevention tips I've seen aimed at women), but it just doesn't really seem to happen.

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  31. Anons - The Pervocracy is not a women's-only space, and men are welcome to participate in any discussion here.

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  32. Simply, a victim's physical presence and even behavior have a no-fault causality - the rape could not have happened without, or likelihood was influenced by them. It acknowledges the logical and statistical connections, but assigns no moral liability.

    You've described something I was thinking about, Rowdy.

    For a long time I've been trying to pin down why it's so bad to tell a rape victim she shouldn't have (for instance) walked through the park alone that night (I know it feels like a horrible and wrong thing to tell someone but couldn't put my finger on why). After all, the rape really wouldn't have happened if she hadn't been in the park, right?

    Then I realized that it's what Holly calls the Reverse Nostradamus thing. The victim couldn't have known that there was a guy in the park looking for someone to attack. Pointing out to her that it wouldn't have happened if she'd walked a different route is stupid, assholish, and above all, totally useless (unless the rapist is in that park every single night, I suppose. Then you could be like "Oh, don't go into the park between midnight and 6am, that's when Joe goes cruising for victims").

    Which makes me wonder...why do people insist on pointing the logistics out to the rape victims and not other people? If a guy gets hit by a car on the way to the convenience store, does anyone chastise him for going to the store? If someone's house got flattened by a meteorite, would we cluck our tongues at each other and go "s/he shouldn't have built the house in that location"?

    I think men victim-blame because they don't want to believe there are actually guys out there who would commit such a horrible crime - they want to believe the rapist was somehow goaded into it (that's the "good" guys. The actual rapists do it because they want the rest of us to believe that rape isn't the rapist's fault, for obvious reasons).

    I think women do the victim-blaming thing because they want to believe the victim's behaviour affects the outcome; if a woman gets raped because of what she did or where she went or what she wore, that means all a woman has to do to be safe is be a nice little lady. This thought makes the world seem a lot less scary (if a little restrictive).

    -perversecowgirl

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  34. aebhel, here are five of the places I've talked about rape or consent issues on my blog in the three months I've been blogging.


    http://abstinentsexblog.blogspot.com/2010/10/something-i-learned-about-talking-about.html


    http://abstinentsexblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/more-horrified-by-rape-than-murder.html


    http://abstinentsexblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/my-most-illustrative-experience-on.html


    http://abstinentsexblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/sexual-assault-illustrated-for-less.html


    http://abstinentsexblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/sexual-fantasy-as-mental-preparation.html


    In the first two of those links it was directly prompted by someone else's blog, once a woman's and once a man's. The last one, which addresses it rather peripherally, will probably get me called creepy: If I think I have to be that careful there must be something wrong with me. I think it's the most challenging to men, and people in general, though. It's how I think everyone ought to police their own fantasies to train themselves to always do the right thing.

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  35. When I was a teenager, there was a time when I had borrowed my dad's car to go to a friend's house. I didn't stay as long at my friend's house because I needed to turn the car over to my sister, so she could get to a basketball game. I was a mile or so from our house, when I hit a deer. As a result, I didn't get home in time with the car, and my sister missed her game.

    My sister spent the next several weeks grumbling about how she would have taken a different route, and would therefore not have hit that deer. I am a bad navigator! She would have left five minutes earlier. She is more punctual than I am! It was all my fault; I was a bad person for making her miss her game.

    Y'know, this story reminds me of something. I wonder why? Sorry about the tangent.

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  36. No one's saying that kind of criticism never happens in any other situation, just that it universally happens after a rape.

    People take risks all the time. This is a part of life. Some people out of necessity or personality or just plain wanting to have fun take more than others. (See also Dan Savage's spiel about risks of STDs.) It is a hell of a lot more risky to be poor than middle class or higher, for example, because you are far more likely to *have* to walk, to *have* to take subways or walk in a bad neighborhood, or to *have* to trust somebody because there is no other way to do what you have to do.

    I think back on some incredibly risky situations I was in back when I was younger and there are some that I think, damn, was that ever unwise! But I never got raped while doing anything that would be loudly denounced as "what did she expect?" Because no rapist was ever there to take advantage of my risky behavior. A friend of mine got hella drunk in a strange city, went off with a group of people she just met, woke up IN A STAIRWELL of an apartment building. It's like textbook of the stupidest thing you can do. But she hadn't been raped, because no rapist was around to capitalize on finding a perfect victim (i.e. one who will be blamed).

    I *was* raped at home in my own bed by the man who was then my husband. True, I should have known better than to marry him, for many reasons, but I never ever would have imagined he'd end up feeling entitled to have sex with me while I was sleeping or hold me down when he wanted to do something I didn't want to do, and then complain endlessly about how I must not really love him after I spent the rest of the night crying. Didn't have the Nostradamus on that one.

    WHY? Why must there be an acknowledgment of risky actions on the part of a rape victim? Why is that the first question that springs to mind? Why reserve the right to criticize her actions? What do you want from her? You want her to say, "Yes, you're right, I shouldn't have been there"? And....what? "Ok, then, just thought you should know that!" If it makes you feel any better, she is probably replaying everything leading up to it over and over and over and telling HERSELF every single action that could have made it all different. Nobody needs ex post facto risk assessment from the peanut gallery.

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  37. I don't think anyone is suggesting that men (or women) who ever speak inappropriately or insensitively on the subject of rape or victim-blame are rapists, or necessarily have anything in common with rapists. But they are acting like assholes.
    --Ann

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  38. I like that there are No Boys Allowed places where women can talk about all this stuff; but I don't believe that rape is something only women should be allowed to discuss. I think it's important for men to be in on some of the conversations, too. But sometimes I feel like co-ed discussions simply can't happen without women ultimately feeling frustrated, silenced, and marginalized.

    Aw goddammit now I'm all depressed.

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  39. WTF the interwebz ate most of my previous post, leaving only the last paragraph or so. And it was a LONG post.

    Fuck fuck fuck.

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  40. I think women do the victim-blaming thing because they want to believe the victim's behaviour affects the outcome; if a woman gets raped because of what she did or where she went or what she wore, that means all a woman has to do to be safe is be a nice little lady. This thought makes the world seem a lot less scary (if a little restrictive).

    Exactly. This is what I have been doing, year after year after year. There must have been something I could have, should have done to change the outcome. Because if there wasn't - how can I keep on living? If I can never affect whether I'm raped or not? The world got a really fucking scary place when I realized that, no, I can't do anything about it. Only rapists can.

    I have to add though that in my case my then-boyfriend and another guy-friend defended me, helped me, believed in me and made everyone in their circle of friends aware that he is a rapist. I don't believe he'll be doing it again. And I also think it was healthy for the people, friends, family, to realize that a guy they all knew was a rapist.

    It's like always hearing the comparisons and metaphors about men getting into a fight late at night. Well, it's almost too easy to not get into a fight - smile, lick your tongue brown if you have to and run if there is no other choice. The difference is that (mostly) you can see it coming. You can change the outcome, because even if it's downright embarrassing, if you won't reciprocate, it probably won't happen. I think this is one of the biggest illusions guys live under. They are thinking of an incident like being mugged on the street. They are not thinking of an incident where they are helplessly drunk, lying in their girlfriend's or their own bed, tired and unfocused. Yeah, you should've just used your mad martial arts skills!

    And Chi,
    You are very brave to say that out aloud. I'm glad you were strong enough to leave the asshole and begin a new life with better people. Hugs.

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  41. @ perversecowgirl
    You completely misunderstood me. I said nothing of the sort.

    A woman (or man, or other) deserves to go anywhere, wearing anything, at any time without threat of rape. Period. They should have been in that park alone at night, it's their fucking right - the only person who "shouldn't've" done something is the rapist.

    If a guy gets hit by a car on the way to the convenience store, does anyone insist it would've happened regardless of if he'd gone to the store or not? Wrong place, wrong time, and through no fault of your own, you get hurt by someone else's criminal actions. It's the same whether you were hit by a car or raped.

    I feel accused of making statements I absolutely did not say and completely disagree with. You are seeing victim blaming where there is none, so I can understand your feelings of frustration and marginalization. That's probably why you have a hard time including men in the discussion, you're only hearing what you want to hear - and for some reason what you want to hear is victim blaming. I can't explain it.

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  42. Hold on. The things I say about a rape victim, male or female, of any variation of gender and orientation, are the same things I say about any other victim of violent crime, and it comes from a completely different mindset: I don't think that rape is exclusive to this statement, and that is this: People need to take care to ensure their own safety. To me, this includes not getting drunk, not going unarmed in places generally not safe--which, if you are of my mindset, means going armed anywhere not expressly forbidden and quite possibly not going to those places where it is forbidden, not placing myself into a situation where extrication of myself can be difficult.

    While, Holly, I would like to believe that you can leave the keys in your car, walk down the street in the middle of South Philly at night, or drink randomly in a bar---I just don't see it happening. I've long since given up any hope which relies upon someone else exercising better judgement, or any thought of "oughta be" which relies upon the theoretical "good nature" of someone else.

    Sure, bad things shouldn't happen....but we all choose the risks we take. Saying that we should be able to engage in any behaviour we like without repercussions is like lighting the fuse to a block of C4 and hoping it won't explode this time.

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  43. Fuzzy, the problem with the "risk assesment" that you're making here -

    MALES are not universally told the litany of "DON'T"s. you will NEVER hear a list of things that men must do, ALWAYS AND EVERYWHERE, to avoid "getting mugged". yes, they might be told to not go to a specific area, bcuz THAT AREA is full of muggers.
    they will NOT be told to NEVER go ANYWHERE *ALONE*, they will NOT be told to "NEVER GET DRUNK", they will NOT be told to "BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WEAR ALWAYS!"

    and, as someone else pointed out, if they do happen to go into that "unsafe" area and get mugged, the WHOLE WORLD isn't going to show up and tell that guy "YOU DID THAT BCUZ YOU *WANTED* TO GET MUGGED!*



    do you see the difference?

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  44. Fuzzy - My only answer to that is, um, the entire post I just wrote.

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  45. Fuzzy

    "People need to take care to ensure their own safety. To me, this includes not getting drunk, not going unarmed in places generally not safe--"

    So you don't get drunk ever, not even with your friends? You go armed to your home or to your friends/partners home? You use those arms when your friend decides to rape you? Really?

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  46. Also, I got hit by a car a few weeks back, which wouldn't have happened, if I had left my home earlier or later that day. But for some reason nobody ever asked me why I didn't left different time.

    When I got mugged on the street few years back, in the middle of the night, nobody asked why I was there or what I was wearing or what I did to provoke that. I'm quite sure that if I had been raped instead of mugged, everyone would have wanted to know.

    Oh, and by the way. My former flatmate got raped in our home by her then-boyfriend, when I was somewhere out walking alone at night.

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  47. Rowdy:
    I think the problem arising here is that, in wanting to raise the idea of no-fault causal relationships - "wrong place, wrong time" - you're continuing the discussion about them, continuing to give them a level of recognition even as you note that they shouldn't be given credence. I get the sense that you're talking about them, trying to define them, in order to highlight the reason that they should be considered irrelevant in terms of assigning blame for the crime, but at the same time, that focus on them is being read as a desire to dwell on them as still relevant and still important to the discussion overall. It may be a case of you saying, "They're irrelevant. Look, this is why!" and a lot of other thread participants saying, "Yes, we knew. Can we just set them aside now and stop going on about them, since their irrelevance is pretty darn clear?"

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  48. Yes, I don't get drunk. Ever.

    I would cheerfully---me, not the world---tell someone who got mugged that yes, they were stupid to be there, there is such a thing as risk assessment, and they should have been more aware. Ditto some idiot who got their car stolen.

    Yes, I am armed in my home. Yes, I would use such arms on friends/family.

    Again, this isn't a mindset in terms of rape. It is a personal mindset on responsibility.....I really don't expect the world to keep me safe. There is no nice "gee, that shouldn't happen to anyone."

    I don't think that rape is about sex, I don't think that if you dress provocatively, you are asking for it. I do think that if you are stupid, sometimes things happen just for being stupid: getting drunk in a large group of strangers? Incomprehensible that someone would seriously lack situational awareness to that degree.

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  49. Fuzzy - I don't expect the world to keep me safe, but I do expect to live in it. Drinking is sometimes a part of that, as is forming the kind of emotional attachments where I couldn't point a gun at them no matter what.

    (Also, if they don't back down, if you have to shoot them, then you're left with their bloody mess all over and not a mark on you. It's a definite "maybe" how that's gonna hold up in court.)

    Anyway, for the umpteenth time, the drunk girl in a short skirt with strangers is such a red herring. Most rapes happen to people whose "situational awareness" was just fine and the situation was they were relaxing in a familiar private space.

    Please don't chide people for never removing the stick up their ass, even if you (supposedly) don't.

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  50. Ahem.

    Define "frat party" as familiar private space? Bar?

    Sorry. Go on thinking that the world ought to go the way you want it to......I LIKE fantasy. You can't trust the world to keep you safe. It is your job. It could well be your life.

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  51. No. Define "OWN GODDAMN HOME" as private space. Or boyfriend's home, boyfriend's car, family home, good friend's home.

    I don't trust the world to keep me safe! I trust the world to fuck me over occasionally no matter what, and therefore refuse to pretend that acting like a 1950's Good Girl or a "trust no one" secret agent will keep me safe from everything.

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  52. fuzzy, I don't want to keep clogging up Holly's comment thread with the same post, so I'll post a link. Please see here for a polite explanation of why what seems like perfectly logical advice infuriates people.

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  53. I've been reading this post and the comments, repeatedly, for some time and Wow! does it feel good to see the "traditional" rape-prevention advice given to women debunked! Because, of course, none of it worked for me, and all it did was keep me from living my own life.

    On the other hand, as perversecowgirl said, it does feel really fuckin' scary to live in a world where there's nothing I can do to keep from getting raped if some asshole decides to rape me. And there's a 1 in 3 (or maybe higher) chance that someday, somewhere, one will, simply because I was born female. My sister's sixth girl just turned one year old. Statistically, two or three of my six nieces will be sexually assaulted...and there's not a damn thing they can do about it. That's the world we live in, and it sucks. No wonder men and women both go about trying to find ways the victim could have changed the outcome. The reality is just too fuckin' ugly to look at. (People living in war zones also do this; they become incredibly superstitious in order to maintain the illusion that they have some control over their own safety. Perhaps it is human nature.)

    Of course, after I was raped, I did go through the whole litany of "what could I have done differently?" in my own head, though I was fortunate that none of my friends (who would have been "so-called" friends had they done this) or family suggested in any way that I was to blame. Obviously my frumpy clothes or physical location (my boyfriend's car) had little to do with it. And at the time the rape occurred I had never in my life even tasted alcohol. The fact that I stayed in an emotionally abusive relationship long enough for him to get around to physically assaulting me DID have something to do with it. So why was I there? Where did I learn to be a victim? Home, church, and school. They didn't know they were teaching me that, I think, but nonetheless, that is what I learned. I was in the abusive relationship because I wasn't clear on what I wanted, because I thought (for a number of reasons) that it was where I should be or had to be, because I had been taught to ignore my own intuition and desires, because I wasn't clear on my options or even that other options existed.

    I don't think any of that implies that I was to blame for what happened, though. It does say something about how our culture and society promote sexual assault. Also, given my own experience, I'd note that consent can be complicated, because too many people are raised as I was and reach adulthood not knowing what they want. True, they tend to be poor choices for sex partners, but there enough of them out there that I think quite often two of them get together, which can lead to a great deal of muddiness. Which is why I think the "Yes Means Yes" model of consent is so incredibly valuable and should be taught everywhere. Along with a complete re-thinking of sex ed and what marriage is and...yeah, it's a massively huge undertaking.

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  54. Also, something Rowdy said really caught my eye, that is that nobody (not even a rapist) deserves to be treated as anything less than human, ever. And even given my own experience and myriad revenge fantasies, I agree. Not that it is for a victim who is hurting and angry to have compassion on the asshole (she needs to take care of herself and, if she has any contact with him at all, bring him up on charges). Not that he shouldn't be experiencing his humanity from behind bars; he should, at least until he can figure out that violating others is not ever in his own best interest.

    But just as I was playing victim out of the best information I had access to at the time, my assaulter was probably playing aggressor out of the best information he had at the time. He was almost certainly acting out of ways he had been taught and socialized (just as I was). This does not in any way justify his choices. All I mean to say is that if what is needed to stop him from raping is acknowledging his humanity and teaching him to respect the choices of others and to get his needs met without hurting them, then I am all for it. And it seems to me that, given how we socialize men to feel nothing but anger and to solve problems by violence, this often really is the case. And I, personally, am more interested in getting a potential rapist to choose not to rape than in punishing him after the fact.

    Of course, it is the job of the culture at large to teach people to respect others, to teach them about their options, and our culture is doing a very poor job of this. This is the place where men talking to other men (and women talking to women, and men and women talking to each other) about choice and consent can make a difference. This is also where the problem looks so big that I'm not even sure how to go about nibbling at its toes. Nonetheless, I'm thinking about it, and talking to friends about it, and I think that's a start.

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  55. Rowdy - I think you misread what I said. I never said you were victim-blaming. I was merely getting some things straight in my own head and your mention of causality, etc. was a jumping-off point.

    Sorry if I didn't make myself clear enough.

    -perversecowgirl

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  56. That's probably why you have a hard time including men in the discussion, you're only hearing what you want to hear

    No. I actually wrote about this in the post that mostly got eaten. Here is basically what I said:

    It's difficult to have a productive co-ed discussion of rape because, for women, discussing rape will mean discussing our fear of rape - which is a background hum most of us feel pretty much constantly. Then one defensive guy invariably has to stand up and say "this discussion feels hostile because it seems like women are suspicious of every single man ever and it's not fair". So women feel like we're supposed to shut the hell up and not share our experiences because this huge, pervasive fear we all have hurts men's feelings. And that's frustrating as shit.

    Women are trained pretty much from birth to fear the (mostly mythical) Rapist-Hiding-in-the-Bushes. Later, we learn that most actual rapists will turn out to be people we know and trust. And we know that if we do get raped by a guy, it will be deemed our fault for talking to a man/drinking with a man/looking sexy in the presence of a man. So yes, this means women are "suspicious of all men" up to a point...but FYI, it's not the all-encompassing, rabid, "OMG ALL MEN ARE SECRETLY RAPISTS" thing Defensive Guy seems to think it is (if we were that certain that all men are secretly rapists, we'd never come anywhere near a guy and the human race would've died out by now...). We're just wary of talking to strangers. It's not that big a deal.

    I'm not sure I particularly feel obligated to tiptoe around my own feelings for Defensive Guy's benefit, but just out of curiosity (and I'm seriously wanting some guys to make suggestions here): how does one express a sentiment like "A strange guy approached me last night when I was walking home and tried to make small talk and it kind of freaked me out" without it triggering Defensive Guy's hostility sensors? Because rape discussion is going to involve those sorts of stories from women.

    I think the better solution is for Defensive Guy to stop taking things so freaking personally, but whatever, let's see if there actually is a way of meeting him halfway.

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  57. Well, as one example of Defensive Guy, I don't think a sentiment like "A strange guy approached me last night when I was walking home and tried to make small talk and it kind of freaked me out" is part of the problem. To me the problem centers around victim-blaming, because in other contexts most of the Internet victim-blaming is regular old annoying unsolicited bad advice like you get from bystanders every time you make a mistake at the office or fixing a car. The problem is that in this context it is truly invidious and harmful not simply annoying. People react to the victim-blaming as the genuine threat it is, and describe it in terms of rape apology which it often is in the most literal and destructive sense, but the person who has offered it on the Internet probably has no idea that he's not simply offering good advice. The reality of the danger makes one set of people angry, the strength of the reaction makes the other set defensive, and neither side is receptive anymore.

    I guess my suggestion for a half-way point would be this: People could learn, and spread around, why victim-blaming is bad and the rape case is different than all other unsolicited advice. They could also learn, and spread around, the understanding that most people have no idea of the threat and no intention to do harm when they do it.

    Apologies for all the links to my own blog but I've just been thinking and writing about this.

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  58. Rowdy - In addition to Semantics, there is also this nifty big-little thing called CONNOTATION. You know, the emotional, socially understood implications and associations attached to words. Before you bring out your bag of nit-pickery and start going all Vulcan with the logic, try to imagine that people are human beings who have emotional responses to words. Or you can continue to derail the discussion with irrelevant statements that read as pretty condescending.

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  59. Yeah, Rowdy. Don't try to approach a problem with logic; cling to the histrionics and 'how dare you try to look closely at this issue instead of only reacting viscerally' righteous-indignation mentality instead, because that will make any kind of progress toward a solution so much more likely.

    ... uhh, right?

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  60. No, Holly, signs necessary. No Nigerian banker wears a sign "I will steal your money", but you do not chose them for your financial adviser anyway. No drunk driver wears a sign "I will bust your car" but you are not letting them drive your vehicle.
    Why "Do not trust your credit card info to the people you don't know really good" is a legit advice, but "Do not trust your body to the people you don't know really good" is victim-blaming? Why "Do not pick a drunk biker for a driver!" sounds good, but "Do not pick a drunk biker for a roomie!" sounds victim-blaming and unacceptable?
    And if a girl trusted wrong people with her own choices, they might go to prison, but she will remain raped anyway, so she has this responsibility towards herself - to make good choices.
    It souds so easy to me.

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  61. "Do not trust your body to the people you don't know really good"

    How about people you DO know really good? Look up at all the people who have shared their stories on this post: they were betrayed by people they had every reason to trust. You seem to be sticking to the "drunk slut alone at a frat party" (which doesn't actually excuse rape either, by the way) narrative in the face of one "sweatpants at my boyfriend's house" story after another.

    And with all this "responsibility" bullshit, you sound like maybe the girl should go to prison too, for being an accomplice to rape. At least some community service?

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  62. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  63. Excuse me, I thought I had refreshed recently and hadn't.

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  64. Mousie, I appreciate your thoughts there. It reminded me of something that might get us somewhere. There's been a lot of online discussion about "mansplaining" and "MWETs (Men Who Explain Things)." Not to have those discussions all over again (women certainly give assvice too - I see it most on mommy forums), but that goes on and it bugs, but when applied to rape it is frequently:
    1. wrong, because the conventional wisdom about where you're in most danger of rape is SO wrong
    2. deeply hurtful, rather than just annoying, as in other contexts.
    So, I believe you are absolutely correct that many Reverse Nostradamuses believe they are offering helpful advice. I also believe many of them have internalized a lot of rape culture, so can be doing rape apology without at all intending to. Then get called on it, so go on the defensive and it devolves into "me logical, you histrionic" stuff.

    Here's the prescription:
    Listen to what the people who live this are saying. Listen some more. Don't assume you know more than they do. Especially don't assume they haven't heard the conventional wisdom a hundred thousand times already. If someone tells you that what you said is rape apology, stop a minute before responding to take a good hard look at what you said. It's how not to be an annoying ass in many, many situations, but especially here.

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  65. Why, Anonymous? The reason is that in the common case, the lapse in judgment is not primarily used to avoid prosecuting the guilty, in the rape case, it is. Every victim has a bunch of friends and family; everyone's more likely to face the situation of being friends and family of the victim, or the rapist, or most likely both, rather than being a victim. That's the situation we have to be more prepared for. But there is a horrible tendency to focus on what the victim did to avoid focusing on what the rapist did, even if one is closer to the victim. Because then one is only talking about a mistake, a lapse in judgement, rather than a terrible evil that demands terrible punishment. It's so much easier to wiggle out of it rather than face it.

    The situations people are talking about are horrifyingly close, most closer than what I wrote about before. Your daughter tells you her boyfriend, your best friend's son who you set her up with, raped her. It is so much easier to tell her she shouldn't have led him on that call the cops on him, face the trial, face your friends. All of your friends are also friends of the parent. What are they going to say? Sweep it all under the rug. If you focus on her bad judgement, it's an escape from facing his evil.

    The people you're talking to (as I was) are people who have had exactly that experience. Yeah, they don't want to hear word one about what they should have done.

    And you and I are way more likely to be in the role of friend or family of the people involved than the victim; and so is every other reader. There's lots of friends and family for every victim. So that's the situation we have to prepare for. Our "common-sense" warnings are mostly useless when the relationship is close, and only prepare us to blame the victim and wriggle out of duty in the real situations.

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  66. chi, thank you. I've gotten this wrong in other discussions here and would really like to help others get it right. I'm mostly only repeating and repeating that one bit above trying to explain to other people like me why the advice is so truly destructive, but I hope that bit is right.

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  67. Anonymous(es)-

    1. Being frustrated at people who offer the same useless, insulting advice that you've heard twenty billion times before is not the same as being hysterical. Asking people to respect that someone who has already been the victim of a painful, humiliating, often violent crime does not need a list of all the things she did wrong is called 'having human compassion'.

    2. The reason it is useless advice is that it presupposes that everyone who is raped was doing something stupid. It's cruel and unnecessary to go on and on about a victim's mistakes even in the event that she did make some (trust me. If a girl did something stupid and was raped, she's already beating herself up about it plenty without any outside input); most of the time, though, it's pointless, because most women are not raped while wandering around drunk in miniskirts at 2AM. Continuing to argue as though that were the reality is...fallacious logic, to say the least. Which doesn't really make the 'me logical, you hysterical' case look too good.

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  68. Also:

    The fact that something is true does not necessarily make it relevant to the discussion or kind to bring up.

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  69. Mousie, I think you've got it there: "in the common case, the lapse in judgment is not primarily used to avoid prosecuting the guilty; in the rape case, it is." Precisely.

    Add to that the fact that most "common sense" advice given on "how to avoid getting raped" is ill-informed, misleading, and worse than useless in ACTUALLY avoiding dangerous situations or getting out of them, and you can see why some of us tend to get awfully annoyed when we hear it.

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  70. Rosie, I've been repeating this a lot recently, so I appreciate the confirmation that I'm repeating the right thing.

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  71. Mousie - On this blog, sure. On misogynist blogs where the author posts "women all get hysterical when men make reasonable points" and you reply in enthusiastic agreement... yeah, Mousie, I don't know what the fuck.

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  72. Holly, You mean where I said "Thanks for talking about this" on a female rape survivor's blog who was defending me from charges of being a rape apologist? You're right that I did totally fail to stand up for women there, but I didn't mean enthusiastic agreement. I'd like to talk to you privately about why I said that and why I didn't post any disagreement, and I'd like to point out that the attitude isn't reflected in my own blog.

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  73. um...

    a thing that's hard to avoid, with victim-blaming, is the fact that many people actually blame the victim

    example from my life:
    my step-father started raping me when i was 12. i don't mean "statutory rape bcuz i was 12 but otherwise i consented" - mean, beat the ever-lovin' FUCK out of me when i resisted.

    the *whole neighborhood* knew about it.
    know what they did?

    they "warned" my mother against leaving me alone with my SF, bcuz "look at her; she might seduce him away from you". they called me "slut", "whore" and "homewreaker" and warned all their friends that i "seduced" my ugly, abusive, mean and OLD step-father, so watch out when i was around.
    their children spread it around school. the school counselor had me in for a "discussion" on adultry and why it was bad.

    3 YEARS later, when FINALLY a new principle was in town, he noticed the bruises, the badly-healed broken nose, the limp... all the signs of rape and abuse. he called CPS.

    3 of my neighbors were charged [dropped, eventually] as accessories - rightly, as knowing about a crime like that and not only not-reporting it, but to an extent covering it up ["we don't want scandel..."] *IS* a crime. but, to this day [20 years later] those neighbors consider me a slutty whore who seduced her mother's husband.



    why? in my opinion [tempered by YEARS of distance and a TON of psych classes] it was a lot easier to salve their conscious if *I* was the one to blame. they really *DIDN'T* want CPS sniffing around [CPS can be overzealous - if they removed me from the home, would they take THEIR kids, too, for being near such a person?] and... well, to be honest, we're trained to think of women as the REASON for rape. if women didn't "look like that", if women "didn't have all the pussy", etc - there'd be no rape. it's not TRUE, of course - but that's how people are trained to think. after all, Eve ate the fruit first, right? etc...

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  74. http://www.antirape.co.za

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  75. If you thought you knew someone really good and trusted him thus making a mistake of judgement, you are responsible for this mistake. No one else is.
    Whether it results in money loss, in a car accident - it is resonable, right? No, you are not going to prison asan accomplice, but you accept the responsibility and learn not to make the same mistake.
    Why this is called "victim blaming" if it resulted in rape?

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  76. If you thought you knew someone really good and trusted him thus making a mistake of judgement, you are responsible for this mistake. No one else is.
    Um, how about the person who decided to betray your trust and rape you? Can they take just an eensy little bit of the blame?

    What is the point of "accepting responsibility", seriously? What does that mean? Berating yourself for everything you did wrong? Most victims have that covered just fine on their own. Never trusting anyone again? That's healthy. Acknowledging "yes Internet, technically if I had acted differently I would not have been raped, you are so right Internet, thank you for setting me straight Internet you are sooooo smart"?

    Rapists don't have "RAPIST" painted on their face. The "error of judgement" involved in trusting a previously kind and normal-seeming person is... what exactly?

    SOMETIMES BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE. IT IS NOT ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS BECAUSE THE GOOD PERSON WAS SECRETLY STUPID OR BAD. SOMETIMES IT IS JUST A BAD THING HAPPENING TO A GOOD PERSON.

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  77. I definitely hope that if someone I'm friends with ever decides to rape me, I won't learn to not to make the mistake of making friends again. :P

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  78. Not making friends at all would be a mistake. Making friends with rapists again and again and again would be a mistake too, it is your choice, right?

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  79. Yes, bad things sure do happen to good persons - do I argue with that?
    But if good people would start driving under influence, will bad things start happening to them more often?
    Why "Please don't drive drunk" is a legit advice but something like "Don't take shower drunk with your stepfather" is victim-blasming?

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  80. I'm pretty sure there the advice should be "Don't take a shower with your drunk stepdaughter, you creepy fuckwad", don't you?

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  81. If only people would USE their God-given psychic mind reading powers, we wouldn't have to deal with all this rape business in the first place! Girls: are they bad at telepathically identifying evildoers or what?

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  82. hey, Anon three above ["don't take shower with your stepfather]

    FUCK YOU. just, seriously. i wasn't *DRUNK* when he raped me, i was thrown into a wall and then beat until i couldn't see straight and then i was raped and i was TWELVE.


    but, really - if i'd just been less physically advanced, he wouldn't have raped me, so it's *MY* fault for going into puberty at 11, right? and hell, if i hadn't LIVED with the man - if i'd somehow known ahead of time that he was going to beat me and rape me, i could have run away and lived on the streets [to be raped by strangers] so it's *MY* fault for not running away! and, hell, if i hadn't *BELIEVED* him when he said he'd kill me, my mother and my sister, i could have called the cops and *MAYBE* someone would have NOT automatically assumed i was at fault and maybe then he wouldn't have been able to CONTINUE raping me, so it's *MY* fault for being to terrified of the man, right?

    the two anon BELOW him - thank you. muchly.

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  83. No it's not your fault.
    When I was talking about a Nigerian money hoax why did not you eagerly assume that I was talking about you and blaming you personally for giving out the credit card info?

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  84. Because you seemed unable of conceiving of a rape scenario where the victim isn't a reckless drunken whore who needs to "take responsibility" for getting herself raped. I have to assume you're just a particularly vicious troll when you're calling out children who get raped.

    You're talking to real people here, do you know that? You're fucking disgusting.

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  85. thanks, Holly.



    and i apologize for FEEDING said troll. i know better, i do... just, well, you know.


    and in case it wasn't clear from me actually participating - i think this post was GOLD, and assholes aside, did some good. some assholes are just assholes. some people are so invested in what the WANT the world to be, they can't see how it actually is. even when hot-sexy-Holly-Pervocracy draws them a map.

    thank you.

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  86. First off, this post, it is totally wonderful.

    Also, I wanted to introduce you to the Best Person You Meet When You Talk About Rape - the clued in survivor of rape, who has thought up some genuine non-insulting prevention strategies for the spotting of people in your life who might be boundary-crossing assholes, and how to, when practicable, practice your ability to enforce emotional boundaries. http://www.fugitivus.net/rape-faq/#comment-6612
    Not a whiff of victim-blaming - Harriet, who escaped an abusive marriage, has devoted a great deal of time and blogging to explaining her experiences with emotional and sexual abuse and one of the things she emphasises is that a lot of women are taught behaviours by their culture that make it really hard to deal with someone who breaches their boundaries. Any preventative advice she has ever given is suffused with a tone of, "Nothing that happened to you was your fault, and you don't deserve to ever have someone do that to you ever again, and anyone who tries to victim-blame or rape-apologise will feel my wrath. But emotional abuse changes people, and often opens the door for more emotional abuse as your self-esteem and boundaries are eroded, and it's often hard to spot an emotional or physical abuser, so here are some things you can look out for so that you can break that cycle".

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  87. Loved this post and the discussion. I'm usually a lurker, especially for this topic and asshattery such as that one Anonymous ("Choose your friends/lovers/banker better how dare you not know they were going to do bad on you" ...Seriously?!).

    Just wanted to throw in another tally mark for those who were raped by friends while in sweatpants (knew him 5 years).

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  88. May I let off steam as a comment here Holly? In the paper today was a story about a bloke who went into a woman's house at midnight and tried to rape her while she slept. The next whole column of the article was a cop saying 'women should lock their doors and windows at all times.' The cop is wrong: another twerp did the same thing to me when my doors and windows were locked. He just broke in. (he took a plea bargain and got 12 months suspended). Also, when a rapist reads the cop's comment, he'll think it's OK with the cops, so long as he comes in through an unlocked door. I know this is an old thread, I just wanted to get that off my chest. Magpie

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  89. The Welsh Assembly Government feel strongly enough about this to have launched a whole publicity campaign on the issue of victim blame for rape.
    Take a look and leave a comment.

    www.stopblame.org

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  90. When people talk about "personal responsibility" and rape victims, it's like they're saying, "If you are in any way complicit in your own rape, you must accept that you are not entitled to justice or sympathy from others, and if you discuss this rape with others, you are making them uncomfortable and placing an undue burden of guilt upon them, which is why they will not empathize with you and may, in fact, turn against you. Even though the determination of complicity has more to do with perception than reality, and is based on false causal relationships (i.e. women who wear short skirts are not any more likely to be raped.)"

    "If you thought you knew someone really good and trusted him thus making a mistake of judgement, you are responsible for this mistake. No one else is."

    So, if you continue to be friends with someone who has been accused of rape, would that be a stupid mistake on your part? If you're a woman, and you come to the incorrect conclusion that he ISN'T a rapist, and he rapes you, was she stupid? Is she responsible? If you're a man, and you continue to trust him, and nothing bad happens to you, was he stupid? Is he responsible?

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  91. Anon - Of course not! If someone chooses a partner who wears a sign around their neck reading "I WILL RAPE YOU," the victim was clearly acting in a reckless and foolhardy manner!

    And then, when a group of male students chant, "No means yes, yes means anal!", and feminists criticize this harmless message, they're weak, humorless, and unfit for the military.

    http://www.city-journal.org/2011/eon0526hm.html

    What are the odds that, if we were to warn women to be careful of these guys, because they're likely to, um...ignore the wishes of women who don't want to have sex with them, that we're man-haters (and anti-sex)? Even though it's as close as you can get to wearing an "I WILL RAPE YOU" sign around their neck?

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  92. I'm a little upset that this post was entirely about trying to STOP people from having the conversation about who is to blame, and to START having a conversation about how we can start thinking about sexuality and rape in a way that is productive and leads to more respect for both women and men. Rowdy alluded to it, but everyone in this thread was distracted by the blame game.

    I recently spent some time (for the first time in my life) with some recent college grads who had been in fraternities/sororities (I went to a college without greek life), and I was appalled at the overt sexism that was totally acceptable to everyone. I was insulted by things that men said, and insulted that women thought the things they said were acceptable, or even funny. The conclusion that I drew was not that men should stop being sexist, or that women should stop accepting the sexism, but that we all have to be aware of the things we are doing to reinforce the sexual inequalities that pervade our society.

    Instead of pointing fingers, use this as an opportunity to reflect on whether you have been sexist in any way, and to think about ways in which you can be less sexist. People must be open minded if the sexual culture of our society is to change. It must be INAPPROPRIATE for a man to make unwanted moves toward a women. Whoever's fault it is, it is today largely still seen as appropriate.

    -Jacob

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