Rape and the "Civilized" World

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by Tiassa, Mar 27, 2013.

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  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    Rape and the "Civilized" World

    "No, we're not all rapists. That notion has been one of the most grievous mistruths ever propagated by patriarchy—that we are all loose-loined brutes chomping at the bit. But most of us tacitly condone the cultural framework that allows rape to happen." Simon Tedeschi

    "Missing from the discussion: Wondering if the cat was asking for it by being so cute and easy to torture. Blaming male hormones or implying that because it’s so sexually gratifying to torture a cat, some boys can’t help themselves. Making excuses for the cat torturers by saying that they don’t understand the difference between playing with a cat who wants to play with you and torturing it. Claiming that while cat torture is bad, we shouldn’t be too eager to punish the cat torturers."
    Amanda Marcotte

    I recently noted to a friend that, during the right-to-die debate in Oregon, I used to joke that we showed animals greater deference against suffering. But, as I noted, it was a joke—and unquestionably at least a little sick—intended to make a point about suffering and compassion.

    But what have cats to do with rape?

    Amanda Marcotte explains:

    I’m hoping many of you saw this story about Wendell Overton, a 10-year-old boy who came across a group of boys, ages 5-13, torturing a cat to death and who saved the cat. Because of Wendell’s intervention, Jackson the cat will make a full recovery from being thrown in the air and even run over with a bicycle.

    I read about this story in three different places: Jezebel, Huffington Post, and Buzzfeed. I looked at the comments at all three places and found that the comments were restricted to two major themes:

    1. What a great kid Wendell is and how we should all raise our kids like him.
    2. What terrible little shits the cat-torturers were, complete with condemnation of a society that lets this behavior flourish.​

    Missing from the discussion: Wondering if the cat was asking for it by being so cute and easy to torture. Blaming male hormones or implying that because it’s so sexually gratifying to torture a cat, some boys can’t help themselves. Making excuses for the cat torturers by saying that they don’t understand the difference between playing with a cat who wants to play with you and torturing it. Claiming that while cat torture is bad, we shouldn’t be too eager to punish the cat torturers.

    A lot of people in comments said that we should teach boys not to torture cats, specifically noting cultural changes that could be instituted to prevent cat torture. These people were not subjected to an angry flame war where they were accused of being stupid, called by misogynist or racist names, or told that they should be tortured themselves until they understood that the only way to stop cat torture is for cats to defend themselves. It was understood that cats do try to defend themselves, but unfortunately, self-defense is sometimes not enough to prevent cat torture. It was accepted that cat torture is a crime that is cultural in origin, and that by changing the culture, we can prevent it.

    Certes, there are plenty who will say, "Come on, that's taking it a bit far." And they might even challenge Marcotte's underlying pretense as ridiculous:

    To be blunt, men who rape women do so for the same reason that boys who torture cats do so: Because they’ve been raised to believe that dominating others makes you a big, tough man, and they take pleasure in exerting power over this being they’ve been taught is beneath them. Most boys don’t torture animals, but we aren’t confused about those who do. Even if they do find some kind of visceral satisfaction from it, we don’t think they’re confused and simply think they’re, say, preparing a meal. When boys torture animals in groups, we know that there was probably a ringleader who used pressure to “be a man” to get the other boys to go along with it. We also know some boys torture animals in secret, taking pleasure in the conquest of these animals. If you understand why boys torture animals, you understand why teenage boys and men rape. The same codes of masculinity and sadism are underlying the behavior, and I’m guessing the overlap between the two behaviors is really high, with a lot of youthful animal torturers growing up to become sexual predators who get a thrill out of conquering women, especially considering how much more cunning you need to dominate and control a woman than an animal.

    No one suggests that we’re somehow robbing animals of their autonomy by noting that they were cornered and tortured. On the contrary, Jackson the cat is granted more autonomy in these stories about his rescue than your typical rape victim is in mainstream media coverage. Jackson can’t even talk, but his feelings about being tortured and rescued are central to the story, which is evidenced by Jackson being given camera time to rub on Wendell, communicating gratitude in the way that cats can. Unlike many rape victims who are painted as somehow permanently destroyed by their experiences, Jackson is granted the right to a story of survivorship.

    For many men, such criticism stings even if they aren't rapists. Across the Pacific, Simon Tedeschi considers the issue in an Australian rape and murder:

    When it comes to a woman's right to walk unharmed through a city street, our understanding takes a nose dive.

    'Of course we're not rapists!' we say to ourselves. We condemn the pack-animal mentality in India. 'My mother is a woman!' It's as predictable as a 90's Demtel commercial. But then, we'll go home and watch The Footy Show or maybe Jersey Shore, both of which reduce women to empty vessels at best and objects of sexual derision at worst. Some of us may go to the pub - even joined by A Woman, because we're evolved - and they like to joke along too! It's all part of the fun! Lighten up! (Nice pins, by the way).

    If, God forbid, a woman is attacked here in Australia, the inevitable questions about where and with whom she was before it happened convince me more than anything that we are embroiled in dangerous times. In 2012, our postcard playground is still smeared with this retrograde thinking. Jill Meagher, even in death, was maligned by the protectors of female chastity for daring to venture out by herself at night time.

    In short, we just don't get it.

    Yes, there are gradations of sexism. There's Al Qaeda on one side and a few loose smatterings of men on the other extreme. But, let's be honest, boys - most of us Nice Guys are in the middle and we're not budging. Because that would force us to question our own assumptions about our own masculinity and how it is impacted by the empowering of over one half of the global community.

    No, we're not all rapists. That notion has been one of the most grievous mistruths ever propagated by patriarchy—that we are all loose-loined brutes chomping at the bit. But most of us tacitly condone the cultural framework that allows rape to happen.

    Don't know what I'm talking about? Think, man, think. It's sniggering in the office. It's the demeaning interruption of a female panellist on Q&A. It's reality TV, where women exist primarily as props with genitals. It's the enormous misbalance of power in a corporate setting. It's the cheerleaders at a rugby game. It's professional wrestling. It's the church. The concert stage, where it is still easier to be a male soloist than a female one. It's everywhere, nestled right under our noses.

    In the wake of recent riots in India and misogynistic brutality in Pakistan, it is often tempting to write these off as third- or developing-world problems. But they're not. Steven D of Daily Kos summarizes a scandal rocking North Carolina:

    Okay, the University of North Carolina did not call a rape victim "little missy." They did, however, compare rape to a football game, and not in a way that blames the rapist for, you know, raping the victim:

    "She told me rape is like football, and if you look back on the game what would you have done differently in that situation?” said Annie Clark, describing a school administrator’s response to her sexual assault. Clark said she “absolutely” felt like she was being blamed for the crime against her.

    Another student of the university, Andrea Pino, told CNN that school officials accused her of laziness after she reported lasting trauma from being raped.​

    Yes, because all rape victims could have done something differently to prevent being raped, and anyone who doesn't "move on" from the life-altering trauma of rape is such a pathetic, lazy-ass loser. Oh, and by the way, the good university also believes that if you file a complaint that you were raped by a fellow student, well, that constitutes grounds for expulsion.

    One of the other students who filed the complaint, Landen Gambill, faced the threat of expulsion by the university’s Honor Court because of it. Her alleged rapist and ex-boyfriend claimed to be “intimidated” by the complaint, even though he was not named.

    Gambill filed her own lawsuit against the university on Monday.​

    In the end, UNC suspended the Honor Court hearing against Gambill, but the detail is more than a little unsettling:

    Gambill's ex-boyfriend was assisted by UNC senior associate dean of students in preparing his complaint against Gambill:

    "The University's decision to press charges against Ms. Gambill has tragically provided her abuser with the opportunity to harass and intimidate her despite the 'no Contact' order issued against him last May," [Gambill's attorney Henry Clay]Turner said, "when the Honor Court found him guilty of 'a pattern of behavior that was intimidating and harassing,' and prohibited him from having any Contact whatsoever with Ms. Gambill, 'including but not limited to verbal, written or physical Contact.'"

    Gambill previously told The Huffington Post that Desirée Rieckenberg, UNC senior associate dean of students, was listed on documents as helping Gambill's alleged abuser file his own Honor Court complaint against her. Neither Rieckenberg nor university spokespersons would comment on the matter to The Huffington Post.​

    At the University of North Carolina, then:

    • If a woman feels she has been raped, the authorities will tell her it's her fault.
    • If a man is accused of rape, authorities will rush to his defense and help harass the accuser.​

    In truth, there really isn't any reason to be surprised at that sort of thing. In Steubenville, where a spectacular rape trial has resulted in two convictions of juveniles, rumors swirl about police giving special deference to the high school football team, a football coach who knew of the incident but did not report it, and even a team booster operating a child pornography ring. And after that radioactive overdose of morbidity, the conviction of the two high school athletes became a circus of its own. As Kia Makarechi explains for Huffington Post:

    CNN's coverage of the verdict in the Steubenville rape case appeared to be curiously weighted on Sunday, focusing on the effect the guilty verdict would have on the lives of the now-convicted rapists and their families, rather than that of the victim and her family ....

    .... In a Sunday afternoon segment, anchor Fredricka Whitfield followed the straight news of the guilty verdict (which she described as rape occurring "after a night of heavy partying") by showing the rapists' parents' weeping in court. Footage of Richmond, his mother and father offering emotional appeals to the victim's family dominated the segment.

    Whitfield threw the story to reporter Poppy Harlow, but not before reiterating that Mays and Richmond's "family members tried their hardest to plead for some forgiveness from the victim's family, as well as from the judge."

    To her credit, Harlow appeared to try and correct the segment's tone: "That's true Fredricka," she said of the tears of the convicted rapist's families, "but this is an incredibly serious crime, it's the crime of rape."

    And yet, the effects of the rape on the victim seemed to be an afterthought: "It was incredibly emotional, it was difficult for anyone in there to watch those boys break down," Harlow said. "[It was] also difficult, of course, for the victim's family."

    "Also difficult, of course?" Over the course of the segment, CNN twice aired Richmond's father's appeal for forgiveness in full and also included footage from an interview in which Harlow asks Richmond if it's true that he told Ma'like he loved him for the first time after the verdict came down. The father emotionally explained that he blames himself for the incident because he wasn't "around" enough. "I want to stress that parents need to get involved more in their kids' lives," Nathaniel Richmond said.

    CNN did air the entirety of the victim's mother's statement on the verdict, but that came after the tears of the Richmond, his mother and father.

    The Sunday afternoon segment was hardly the first time CNN had fumbled its coverage of the case. Earlier on Sunday, anchor Candy Crowley expressed her deepest sympathies for Mays and Richmond.

    Harlow set up the scene, which she said was "incredibly difficult" to watch, thusly: "These two young men -- who had such promising futures, star football players, very good students -- literally watched as they believed their life fell apart."

    "What's the lasting effect though on two young men being found guilty juvenile court of rape essentially?" Crowley asked CNN's legal analyst Paul Callan.

    So let us tie these things together, for the moment, by looking at the Steubenville case. Men, please imagine. You go to a party, get wasted, and, well, the next day ... I mean, come on, any regular viewer of South Park° knows about the fake oral sex picture joke. And perhaps some people finger you rectally. And maybe the pictures go out online. And maybe a former student at the school, a respected athlete, tweets of the debacle, "Song of the night is definitely Rape Me by Nirvana. Some people deserve to be peed on."

    As the episode unfolds, of course, the pertinent questions all seem to be what you did to deserve that kind of treatment. And when the perpetrators are brought to justice, the general media focus is on how this episode has ruined their lives.

    Really, I don't remember that point coming up several years ago when a streetside gay rape was reported in Seattle. Nobody asked what the heterosexual male who claimed he was sexually assaulted by another man was doing at that particular bar, or in that part of town, at that hour. Nobody asked how much he had to drink. Nobody asked what he did to bring it on himself. And, certainly, nobody ever said, "Rape is like a football game, little mister."

    Our own community is not immune to such misogynistic attitudes about rape; a 2008 discussion of the subject makes that point clear, including this gem:

    "again, rape is bad. but if you pull the pin out of a grenade, is it your fault or the grenade's when it blows up? when a man sees cleavage/legs/whatever, there's a lot of chemical reactions going on in his body. high heels arch the feet, simulating feet during orgasm. the stuff you're wearing is designed to expose and emphasise sexual features."

    And its clarification:

    "the grenade thing wasn't comparing men to weapons. its saying when you do something you can be responsible for the consequences. dressing like a slut doesn't justify rape, but i feel it makes them more likely to rape you."

    And that is hardly the only member to make excuses for rapists in that thread. Ironically, the masculinists seem to have had no problem with a male reducing men to machines with no will of their own.

    I mean, come on. Imagine some prominent feminist saying, "Sure, men should act responsibly, but they are literally animals, and animals don't ask permission."

    Looking back to Marcotte's column, sure, on the surface, one can easily see that it seems ridiculous, but this is a superficial view. While it is true that we cannot expect Jackson the cat to make certain decisions about when and where walking is safe, the bottom line is that women shouldn't have to.

    Anna Minard took up the question for The Stranger in the wake of a series of attempted sexual assaults in Seattle:

    I came across this crime roundup in this post about the attacks on PhinneyWood, the Phinney Ridge/Greenwood neighborhood blog. The post includes a long message from SPD's North Precinct crime prevention officer, Terrie Johnston, recommending that readers "please review these personal safety tips." The tips, of which there are a dozen, include things like:

    Do you know your location? Do you know the street names, hundred block? East, South, West, North? Could you tell the 9-1-1 call taker to where they need to dispatch responders?

    Try to get good descriptions of anyone acting suspiciously or threatening. Start from the head and work down. Most likely you know your height, so use this to gauge theirs.

    If traveling alone, take a charged up cell phone with you if possible. Know what is available to you along your route. What time does that store open or close? Does that apt.bldg. have a security guard? Is there a payphone?

    Ipod earphones, etc. may prevent you from hearing someone approaching. As does texting while you are walking, waiting for the bus, etc. You need to be aware when out if public spaces.

    Wear appropriate clothing for the street. Shoes that are comfortable and allow you to run if necessary. Choose clothing that allows you to move, and does not block your vision.​

    The list also includes the tips: "Stand tall, walk confidently with your head up, eyes open and constantly scanning the surroundings" and "Try not to show fear. Keep a neutral face that shows you are 'in charge.'"

    So, to review: Seattleites—and let's be honest, we're talking mostly to women here—as you go about your business, constantly scan your surroundings, memorizing detailed physical descriptions of people you encounter. Always know, down to the exact block, where you are and where the nearest security guard is and the hours of nearby businesses. Wear running shoes and loose, appropriate clothing—aka clothing appropriate for running away in. Bring your cell phone, but don't use it to listen to music or text. And as you walk through the city like a human danger-scanner, walk confidently and keep your face neutral. You're "in charge"!


    I'm sure the police department is working to solve these crimes. I'm sure they just want to remind people that we live in a city and crime is real and it can happen to you. But this is exactly the kind of shit that we are talking about when we talk about women being raised in a culture of fear and conditioned to certain behaviors and expectations—like the expectation that we're the ducks in a giant game of Duck Hunt™.

    In the end, Minard complains, it is ...

    ... too common, when we talk about rape, is the message that unfortunately, it's women's responsibility to keep themselves safe from rapists, not society's job to deal with why this happens and what, systemically, we might be able to do to change the culture that encourages that behavior.

    And here we come back to the question of first-world problems.

    We might make much of riots in India, or rape as a weapon of war in the third world, but one of the things that sets certain societies apart is that they have certain luxuries of political discourse. In some countries, labor actions pertain to diverse forms of personal abuse, poor wages, dangerous working conditions, and mental and physical health issues. In the United States, labor actions generally involve disputes over sums of money that exceed what people in the third world and developing nations earn in a year. In some countries, people protest dictatorships. In the United States, people protest the idea of having health insurance. In other countries, there are loud and often violent disputes about government corruption impoverishing the people. In the United States, we argue loudly about whether rich people should pay a little more in taxes, because, well, rich people apparently can't afford to pay more in taxes.

    That is to say, we can criticize all we want our international neighbors who kill rape victims, but in truth, Tedeschi's point about social outlooks, made in consideration of the rape and murder of 29 year-old Jill Meagher is not as stable as he might hope; indeed, it reads a bit like he's trying to comfort his fellow males:

    Yes, there are gradations of sexism. There's Al Qaeda on one side and a few loose smatterings of men on the other extreme. But, let's be honest, boys - most of us Nice Guys are in the middle and we're not budging. Because that would force us to question our own assumptions about our own masculinity and how it is impacted by the empowering of over one half of the global community.

    A friend recently noted:

    "Our society is not that far behind the Taliban or Al Qaeda side in that we do not view the male rapists as being able to control themselves and therefore, we expect the woman to behave in such a way as to not attract the attention of the men in her surroundings. So it isn't the man's fault that he picked her, but the woman's fault for doing whatever it is that she was doing that allowed the man to notice her."​

    Just how far behind or ahead of the Taliban or Al Qaeda we are is certainly open to question, but the point still holds. In Italy, where judges hold that a woman can't be raped if she's wearing tight jeans because the rapist needs help to get her pants off, a Catholic priest recently set off a firestorm by blaming women for rape and domestic violence:

    Fr Piero Corsi said in a Christmas message posted on the door of his church in the small parish of San Terenzo, near Lerici and La Spezia in northwest Italy:

    How often do we see girls and mature women going around scantily dressed and in provocative clothes?

    They provoke the worst instincts, which end in violence or sexual abuse. They should search their consciences and ask: did we bring this on ourselves?​

    The leaflet, a copy of which was posted online sparking a wave of outrage across the country, said the 118 women killed in acts of domestic violence in Italy in 2012 had pushed men to their limits. Corsi also wrote:

    Is it possible that all of a sudden men have gone mad? We don’t believe it.

    The fact is that women are increasingly provocative, they become arrogant, they believe themselves to be self-sufficient and end up exacerbating the situation.

    Children are abandoned to their own devices, homes are dirty, meals are cold or fast food, clothes are filthy.​

    In India, an attorney represnting three of the accused in a notorious incident in which a young woman was literally raped to death has played a similar card:

    Manohar Lal Sharma said 23-year-old Jyoti Singh Pandey and her male friend were "wholly responsible" for the horrific torture they suffered in the Dec. 16 attack in New Delhi because they were an unmarried couple on the streets at night, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

    "Until today I have not seen a single incident or example of rape with a respected lady," Sharma told the newspaper.

    "Even an underworld don would not like to touch a girl with respect."

    And the argument got a boost earlier this month after the gang rape of a Swiss tourist, when government officials tried to put blame onto the woman and her husband:

    During a press conference on Sunday, police spokesperson Avnesh Kumar Budholiya suggested the tourists are partially to blame for the assault because they chose to travel that area without speaking to local police, the Independent reports.

    “No one stops there," Budholiya said. “Why did they choose that place? They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They would have passed a police station on the way to the area they camped. They should have stopped and asked about places to sleep.”

    Another official also appeared to place blame on the victim and her husband.

    "The rape of the Swiss national is unfortunate but foreign travelers should inform the police about their movement so they can be provided with adequate protection," said Umashankar Gupta, the Home Minister of Madhya Pradesh, according to The Times. "They often don't follow the state's rules."

    Madhya Pradesh reportedly has one of the highest rates of crimes against women in the country, a fact the Swiss tourists were unaware of, according to the Times of India.

    "They apparently lost track and took a wrong turn and decided to halt for the night by the side of a village brook little realizing that the district with 85:100 men to women ratio is not the safest place for women," a senior official from the region told the newspaper.

    And, you know, the bottom line for tourists, it seems, is to just stay the hell out of India. Tourists in the U.S. are not expected to report their movements to local police. When I was in Britain and Ireland a couple years ago, we weren't expected to check in regularly with the constabulary.

    To the other, there are real facts to consider. Sure, an area might be "high crime", but as we've learned with these issues in the United States, focusing on how to reduce crime in a given area does not reduce the general crime rate. This is much like homelessness. If you drive the homeless out of a part of your city, it doesn't mean they find homes. They just move somewhere else. Theoretically, at least, the better idea is to address crime in general.

    India, of course, is a developing economy. One can reasonably imagine and accept that it's hard to address crime in general in a country of nearly a billion people with considerably limited financial resources. But what of more economically-empowered societies? In the U.S., we move crime around in this way not because it is the only option available to us or feasible under our societal structure, but because it is easier and less expensive. And as Tedeschi's column reminds, this the problems such perspectives bring are not purely American.

    While it is easy enough to simply say, of India, or even Pakistan, "It's a different world over there," and accept the realities of economy, education, security, and other issues suggest that such incidents should be less unexpected, it is also fairly easy to say, "This is America!" or, "This is Australia!" and ask how these things happen in our societies.

    And the reality seems to be that it's not so much a difference of perspectives as it is a matter of degrees within similar perspectives. Americans and Australians generally aren't going to stone women to death for the "crime" of being impure°. But, as Tedeschi noted, "Jill Meagher, even in death, was maligned by the protectors of female chastity for daring to venture out by herself at night time." We maintain in Western civilization, well, a pretense of civilization. And it's one that we can, generally, afford. But it's not one we seem to have the cultural resolve to undertake properly. Indeed, our pretense of civilization seems mostly intended for our own comfort. Bad guys "torture". Good guys "use enhanced interrogation techniques". And, yes, bad guys rape. Unfortunately, the good guys—such as they are—more often than not sit around and make excuses.

    Americans often view their society as the premiere accomplishment of the human species. And while one can certainly construct a general case in support of that argument, the detail is, of course, exponentially more complicated.

    Sure, a rape victim is to blame for being raped, but hey, at least we're not killing them!

    Doesn't sound so good when it's put that way, does it?

    And it doesn't do a damn thing to reduce the number of rapes occurring in our society.

    In the end, the real solution is that people should not treat one another in such a manner. The key to stopping rape is to not commit rape. It's a small effort, in the end, but one many are unwilling to undertake. As Minard noted:

    Here, as a refresher, are the best rape prevention tips I've ever read:

    8. Use the Buddy System! If it is inconvenient for you to stop yourself from raping women, ask a trusted friend to accompany you at all times.​

    That is the conversation I would like to see happening at the Seattle Police Department, and not just among women on women's blogs. Not a convoluted and ever-growing list of how to prevent your own rape by wearing the right non-rapey hairstyle or crossing the street in the most anti-rape fashion or sleeping in past the raping hour.

    That is not helping women and, obviously, it is not ending rape.

    Is this really the best that "civilized" society can come up with?


    ° South Park — Episode 1102, "Cartman Sucks", a genuinely unsettling episode that includes the long-known fake oral sex picture, when a male puts his genitals on the mouth of a sleeping person and snaps a picture, except Cartman didn't understand, so took a picture of himself pretending to perform oral sex on a sleeping Butters.

    ° generally aren't going to stone women to death for the "crime" of being impure — Though it would be irresponsible to pretend that such ignorance does not exist at all in our society; I recall several years ago an Alabama woman murdered her own 12 year-old daughter for not being a virgin; she pinned her daughter down, forced her to drink bleach, and suffocated her. It's worth noting that the mother forced her nine year-old son watch her murder his sister; according to a detective, the woman told her son "that if he shed a tear that she was going to kill him, too".

    Works Cited:

    Tedeschi, Simon. "We must face up to our own rape culture". The Drum. January 2, 2013. ABC.net.au. March 27, 2013. http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/4450220.html

    Marcottte, Amanda. "If Only We Could Talk About Abusing Women Like We Do Abusing Cats". Pandagon. March 25, 2013. RawStory.com. March 27, 2013. http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/03/...-about-abusing-women-like-we-do-abusing-cats/

    D, Steven. "Rape is like football, little missy". Daily Kos. March 26, 2013. DailyKos.com. March 27, 2013. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/03/26/1197031/--Rape-is-like-football-little-missy

    Makarechi, Kia. "CNN's Steubenville Coverage Focuses On Effect Rape Trial Will Have On Rapists, Not Victim". The Huffington Post. March 17, 2013. HuffingtonPost.com. March 27, 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kia-makarechi/cnn-steubenville-coverage_b_2896948.html

    Macur, Juliet and Nate Schweber. "Rape Case Unfolds on Web and Splits City". The New York Times. December 16, 2012. NYTimes.com. March 27, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/17/s...lds-online-and-divides-steubenville-ohio.html

    Minard, Anna. "To Avoid Rape, 'Try not to show fear'". Slog. February 13, 2013. Slog.TheStranger.com. March 27, 2013. http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2013/02/13/to-avoid-rape-try-not-to-show-fear

    Thomas, Claire. "Learning to live with the legacy of violence". The Age. March 9, 2013. TheAge.com.au. March 27, 2013. http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/learning-to-live-with-the-legacy-of-violence-20130308-2frka.html

    The Journal. "Priest says women bring sexual and physical violence on themselves". December 27, 2012. TheJournal.ie. March 27, 2013. http://www.thejournal.ie/piero-cors...-women-murder-sexual-violence-732418-Dec2012/

    Caulfield, Phillip. "Defense lawyer in India rape case blames victim, says 'respectable' women in India are not raped: report". New York Daily News. January 9, 2013. NYDailyNews.com. March 27, 2013. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/tk-article-1.1236369

    Sieczkowski, Cavan. "Swiss Gang Rape Victim, Husband Partially To Blame For Attack, Indian Officials Suggest". The Huffington Post. March 18, 2013. HuffingtonPost.com. March 27, 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/18/india-gang-rape-swiss-tourist_n_2900508.html

    Associated Press. "Cops: Mom Killed Girl for Losing Virginity". FOX News. January 14, 2005. FOXNews.com. March 27, 2013. http://www.foxnews.com/story/2005/01/14/cops-mom-killed-girl-for-losing-virginity/
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2013
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  3. Bells Staff Member

    It is far too inconvenient to expect rapists to not rape and more convenient to expect women to not be raped.

    Women are expected by society, to behave in a certain way. She is not to be out late, she is not to get drunk, she should definitely never walk down a street alone, late at night, especially from a night out, she should always dress in a way so as to not draw attention to herself. In short, she should be the prim and proper lady who is home before 9pm, never leaves the house unattended, never drinks or gets drunk, always wears skirts below the knee..

    Now apply this standard to men (short skirt aside).

    Society should never tell women that they shouldn't walk alone at night. It is every person's right to walk where they wish to without being attacked. And yet, we have this expectation that if a woman wants to remain safe, then she needs to follow a certain set of guidelines. Note the emphasis. If she wants to remain safe...

    And if she walks home alone on a busy street, as Jill Meagher did, she has a right to not be dragged into an alley, raped and murdered. And yet, the expectation is that women should not walk alone late at night. In other words, there is already an expectation that this is where rapists will strike the most. From a young age, this is drilled into our minds by society, the media.. Instead of saying women should be allowed to walk where they damn well please when they please, society has taught us to expect that if she does not want to be raped, she should not walk where she pleases and when she pleases. That it is somehow up to her to prevent her own rape by not putting herself in any situation which could draw the attention of a potential rapist. And this standard is applied to the point where we expect women to not walk down a street alone at night and to the point where we expect her to not dress a certain way or drink or pretty much do anything which could draw the attention of a rapist.

    Jill Meagher's rape and murder struck a cord with me and many of my friends who still live in Melbourne or lived in Melbourne like I used to. The street she was walking on when she was kidnapped, dragged into a nearby alley, raped and then murdered is one that I and pretty much all of my friends and women I know, have walked on alone at night at some point in our lives. We used to park our cars around there when we'd go to the area for dinner or drinks, and often, we would walk to our respective cars alone, late at night. And one thing that we all told ourselves after this happened was 'it could have been me or any one of us'. And that is not acceptable. We have a right to not live our lives in fear and terror that any of the men around us could be a rapist.
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  5. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    The simple fact is that we have equated "civilized" with increases in technology and a centralized system of support/control (which even then, is arguably a product of or a catalyst for dissolving the family unit .... which tends to be the cornerstone of any sort of socially defined "civilization") that keeps the show on the road. It should come as no surprise that broader implications of being civilized are conspicuous by their absence in the contemporary world. The notion of a rapist somehow engineering their own 10 step process or whatever of not raping someone is more absurd than a burglar engineering their own program of theft prevention.

    IOW if you have a situation where there are individuals with something of value and individuals who covet it (especially in the landscape of the unmitigated pursuit of personal desire) , a generous swath of "practical advice" is about potential victims and prevention.
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  7. arauca Banned Banned

    Jill Meagher's rape and murder struck a cord with me and many of my friends who still live in Melbourne or lived in Melbourne like I used to. The street she was walking on when she was kidnapped, dragged into a nearby alley, raped and then murdered is one that I and pretty much all of my friends and women I know, have walked on alone at night at some point in our lives. We used to park our cars around there when we'd go to the area for dinner or drinks, and often, we would walk to our respective cars alone, late at night. And one thing that we all told ourselves after this happened was 'it could have been me or any one of us'. And that is not acceptable. We have a right to not live our lives in fear and terror that any of the men around us could be a rapis

    Do you mean this happen in the civilized nation. I have heard that in that civilized nation homosexual do their thing in the public parks at night ( ABC Dr. Karl forum )
  8. Bowser Namaste Valued Senior Member

    I've warned my daughter about boys in general, parties and alcohol. I've seen it happen where a young girl has been taken advantage. Yes, beware of the male impulse--worse yet when mixed with drugs and alcohol.

    The gay predisposition to search for and have sexual encounters can be credited to the fact that they are males. Their carelessness was the onset of the AIDS epidemic.
  9. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    The World We Wish For

    You know, the overwhelming majority of rapes are committed by people known to and trusted by the victim. The number of psychotic rapes such as we see in television crime dramas is comparatively low.

    And while it is true that one cannot expect every impaired deviant to devise his own prevention program, we can certainly improve our mental health structure. How many times do we hear of a horrific crime in American society in which the mental health resources to treat whatever is wrong with the perpetrator were simply unavailable, or not well promulgated?

    But for the vast majority of rapes in the United States, many could be prevented but for the societal attitudes toward women in general that permeate our culture.

    Her lips said no, but her eyes said yes? Wrong.

    She was dressed sexy, so she must have wanted it? Wrong.

    She accepted a date with you, therein tacitly consenting to sexual intercourse? Wrong.

    These are learned notions.

    It seems to me that it might be of some use to carry around a crime scene photo of a raped and murdered woman—such as Jill Meagher, and every time someone makes these kinds of excuses for men, show them the picture. Ask them about the women in their lives and if they would say the same thing should the raped and dead body of the woman in the picture be their wife, mother, daughter, sister, and so on. I've heard these excuses from men who, like me, are fathers of daughters.

    Where did these men get these stupid ideas?

    The answer is that they learned such things over time from examples explicit and implied within the culture.

    I got into an internet fight a couple weeks ago with a local columnist who ranted about Seth MacFarlane's performance at the Oscars. In her world, the columnist thinks there's only one way to interpret things—hers. To the other, though, she does actually make the point about how pervasive these ideas are.

    In my circles, after all, we frequently say things that might shock or disgust others, but we also understand the mocking irony. Perhaps this is a statistically rare circumstance. Like the scene in "Da Boom", when Peter is trying to herd his family into the basement because he is expecting the end of the world. Lois, of course, is annoyed by his stupid paranoia, and won't go. She steps to the basement door to call the kids back up. "Lois, are you pregnant?" Peter asks. "No," she replies. So he pushes her down the stairs.

    Now, in my world, the joke mocks domestic violence by tying it to Peter's supreme stupidity—a point MacFarlane explained once upon a time in discussing FOX's refusal to air "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein"—but apparently my friends and I are all crazy. After all, the only acceptable interpretation, at least to extrapolate the columnist's take on humor, is that MacFarlane and company were openly advocating domestic violence.

    But maybe she's onto something. Maybe men watching a glitzy rape and murder scene in a movie are simply incapable of understanding that, hey, the rapist is a villain. I mean, yeah, I suppose I could believe that men in general are, in fact, so dangerously puerile. As I told the member who made the grenade analogy, "Comparing men to dangerous devices with no will of their own doesn't help your argument. In fact, you're escalating the argument from 'Seek help' to, 'Men should be locked up'."

    That is, it seems that the one thing rape advocates and the female columnist I had that internet fight with can agree on is the literal, universal danger of heterosexual men.

    I don't see rape, though, as a purely biological outcome. Indeed, the greater part of most rapes is an issue of attitude and perspective.

    These attitudes and perspectives can be corrected. It takes time, and it takes a certain resolve to not teach each new generation to view women in such ways. As Simone de Beauvoir once explained, "when women start acting like human beings, they are accused of trying to be men". And therein lies the problem. Women are human beings, and culturally, we seem to treat them in a different context.

    I'm not wholly immune to this kind of sexism. As much as I've learned better over the years, it still bubbles up on occasion from undiscovered reserves. And each of those occasions holds a lesson that I need to figure out. But just like racism—I used to accept the racists' defense that, "There are black people, and then there are niggers"—I've managed to figure out most of the really obvious ones, and even a good number of subtler considerations. These days I deal with context. Not every slut joke is inherently evil. Not every sexualization of women on television is inherently condemning. Sometimes a story is just a story, or a joke simply a joke. And while it's true that this is sometimes a bit tricky, I find it hard to believe that my social experiences including men who don't justify rape are really so rare.

    In the end, this sort of misogyny is pervasive. It's ugly. And it's legitimately a consideration of "human frailty". But it is also something that is within our power, as individuals and a collective culture, to address. But we haven't, as a culture, the will to do so. And being too lazy and greedy as a society to bother with such changes is a really poor excuse for expecting women to live their lives in fear and terror that any of the men around us could be a rapist.

    As with prior discussions on the subject of practical prevention advice, the problem is that this is an open-ended proposition:

    • A woman should not be beautiful, or make any real effort to be aesthetically pleasing, because it's her fault for tempting a rapist.

    • A woman should not drink alcohol, because it's her fault for making the rape possible.

    • A woman should not walk alone at night, because she's making herself a target for rapists.​

    But at what point does it stop?

    • A woman should not accept a date with a man, because she is tacitly consenting to sex, so it's her fault for calling it rape.​

    We might want to check in with single heterosexual men on that one, to see how they would like that kind of society.

    • A woman should carry a gun, and shoot any man who looks at her wrong, or else she might be inviting him to rape her.​

    Even better?

    • A woman shouldn't answer the door, say, for the FedEx delivery man, because it's her fault for allowing him access to rape her.​

    Of course, that might push an explosion of lesbian and feminist pizza shops who won't deliver to men, because, well, knocking on a door to deliver the pizza means she's exposing herself willfully to the danger of being raped.

    No, really, at what point does this get ridiculous? And all because it's too much trouble to break the cycle of looking at women as something else that is inferior and subservient, who exist only for the pleasure of males.

    Hell, a better educational system would help. The proportion of people in our society who have contextual problems with literature, drama, and cinema seems to be growing. So when a psycho villain on television stalks, rapes, and murders a stripper, or a college student, or a housewife, or whatever woman the story needs to put in the grave, the only possible interpretation for men is that the villain is admirable. Is that really what it's coming to? Have we reached the point where mocking stupidity can only mean one is advocating and celebrating such behavior? Presently, I am unwilling to indict my fellow men or American culture so broadly.

    But if we leave the discussion at your points about self-therapy for rapists and prevention for potential victims, the best way for women to prevent their own rapes is to never associate with males, period.

    I tend to think that's unrealistic, but then again, I'm also one who doesn't believe men in general are actually so inherently stupid that cultural repair is beyond their capacities. More fool me? Perhaps.
  10. Bells Staff Member

    Ah rape prevention..

    The best rape prevention is to assume that all men are rapists and go from there. In other words, women will just refuse to associate with men altogether. Since, you know, it is impractical to expect men to not rape...
  11. arauca Banned Banned


    Wow. This is a malicious assumption. There are many men that will stay away from a woman if she is not receptive an I am one of them . I think to violate a person is to humiliate a person and that is no joy, if someone is not interested be it for money or be it for lac of affection
  12. Bells Staff Member

    It is very much a malicious assumption.

    However women are now expected to prevent their own rape. So instead of the expectation that men not rape, where it belongs, it is now up to women to not be raped. Since anything she does or does not do can result in her being raped, it is far simpler and more practical to assume that all men rape because I keep getting told that women should not expect men to respect them and to not rape them if they draw their attention in some way or other.

    Look at all the programs out there, supposedly to reduce sexual assault and all of them place the onus on the women to not be raped. Because it is apparently not practical to educate men about such things..
  13. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    A Relevant Consideration

    I find this a very interesting post, but largely because it provides a useful comparison. But work with me here, because this is the sort of thing that always confuses people around here.

    To start with, we might note that Bells was the second person to make the point you responded to. Note my response to Lightgigantic at #6:

    But if we leave the discussion at your points about self-therapy for rapists and prevention for potential victims, the best way for women to prevent their own rapes is to never associate with males, period.​

    So we start with the question: Why did you respond to Bells' point, instead of mine?

    Now, the reality is that there are plenty of reasons to explain that, including the order and length of posts, as well as the phrasing of the point.

    So you responded to her, and not me. Big deal.

    However, as the expectation is that Bells should protect herself against men who apparently just can't help themselves—a point made repeatedly in discussions of rape over the years at Sciforums—it is safest for her to presume that you answered her because she is a woman, and you think you can bully her on this point, but not a man. After all, in calling the point a malicious assumption, you missed the logic that leads to it.

    Such is the world that rape excusers and advocates would create.
  14. IfIonlyhadabrain Registered Member

    Here's my take on all of this.

    Rape is evil. Simple. Anyone who commits rape should be punished to the full extent of the law, and the victims should be treated with the greatest sympathy and compassion. Rape is trauma. It is a violation of the most basic human activity, relationship. It is deep violation of human trust and security. I know rape victims. I am related to rape victims. There can never be an excuse for this kind of inhumanity.

    The simple fact is, we live in a world where rape happens. There are sexual predators. There are men (and even women) who desire domination, power. We know that peer pressure, and herd mentality are real phenomena, and can make people do things they know are evil, or at least tacitly agree through silence to what they know is evil. Psychological studies have shown this.

    In a utopian world, people should be able to dress how they like, go where and when they like, and not have to fear anything from other human beings. That's not the world we live in. It's not fair. It's awful. We should work very hard as parents and teachers to change that, but we're not there right now. That's reality.

    The way I look at it, if a shop owner doesn't want to be robbed, whether it be by a gun to his face for the money in the register, or by the shoplifter stuffing things into his/her backpack, security measures should be taken. It sucks. A shop owner shouldn't have to worry about the security of his/her shop. Shouldn't have to be suspicious of customers. Every customer should be trustworthy. That's not the world the shop owner faces. We know that not all customers are going to steal if the restrictions are taken away. But some, even many would. They're the same people who will steal even with the restrictions. Parents should do their best to raise their children to be honest, with integrity, and not thieves. The simple fact is, we're not there yet. So, shop owners need to put bars on their windows, set up magnetic scanners, install security cameras, install security mirrors, set up bullet proof windows around the register, etc. They shouldn't have to, but if they want their merchandise protected from the few who will steal from them, then this is what they do.

    Not all men (and certainly not all women) are rapists. Most, I suspect, are honest, and believe in the dignity and value of women as persons, and respect that. But the plain fact is, there are sexual predators, and there's nothing wrong with taking precautions. Would I want my fiancee to walk in a dangerous part of town at night? Of course not! I'm concerned about her safety. I don't think there should be laws restricting that, but I think common sense says to be cautious. Do I want my fiancee to dress with cleavage all over the place, short skirts, or short shorts? No, and it isn't even because I think she'll get raped. I just don't want other men looking at her like she's a piece of meat. Do I think every man on the street is going to do that? No. But I know perverts exist, and they're around.

    But I think the same standards should apply to men. I dress modestly for the same reason. I don't walk through dangerous parts of town alone at night. I don't want to get mugged (which I've been).

    Should victims of crimes be blamed? No, they shouldn't. The shop owner who didn't have a security camera up, or bars on the window, or security mirrors, or any of that, shouldn't be blamed if he gets robbed. The criminal should. The criminal should be charged with the crime, and punished accordingly, and restitution made to the shop owner. Likewise, a woman shouldn't be blamed for being raped. The sexual predator should be. Period.

    Regarding the cultural aspect of the problem. Yeah, you won't find disagreement in me. Societal attitudes definitely need to change. The way the stubenville coverage played out was simply appalling.
  15. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    Honestly, I remain undecided as to whether y'all (well, not all, just... most, unfortunately) are simply illiterate, stupid, or simply misogynistic--or some combination thereof. Point being:

    90 year-old women get raped, nuns get raped, women dressed in garbage bags get raped--what the fuck does dressing "scantily" or "provocatively" have to do with ANYTHING? Seriously, there is NO SUCH THING as "rape mitigation," barring the absurd extremes--such as avoiding contact with men entirely--to which Bells, sarcastically, alluded.
  16. Bells Staff Member


    And it is apt that in a discussion about rape and men viewing women as property or valuing them solely for their sexual organs that you give an example of a shop keeper doing what he can to protect his merchandise.

    Pray tell, what precautions should women take?

    Seeing that the majority of rape victims know their rapists, what precautions should a woman take against her boyfriend or husband or other male relative?

    Of course.

    After all, you just want to protect your merchandise.

    Do you dress modestly and don't walk through dangerous parts of town alone at night because you don't want men to view you as a sex object and you want to protect your sexual merchandise? Or do you dress as you do so that muggers don't think you have anything worthwhile to steal and so you are left alone?

    And yet, if she was raped after walking down a street late at night, would you ask yourself 'why was a woman walking there by herself at night?'..?

    It played out that way because that is how society views such things .. You know.. merchandise..
  17. IfIonlyhadabrain Registered Member

    Yes, the implication being that a woman owns her own body. I'd like to protect myself. Wouldn't you?

    I wasn't aware that this is the case. If this is true, I suppose learning self-defense, or some form of martial art would prove useful.

    That's not fair Bells. That was not my implication at all. I don't own my fiancee. She'd certainly get a kick out of that idea.

    I dress modestly so that women don't treat me sexually. That'll be for my wife, only, since I will be giving my whole self to her. I don't walk alone at night in dangerous areas because I don't want to be a tempting target for muggers, since this has happened to me before.


    That could be. I tend to think people in general are better than that, though. Maybe I'm just an optimist.
  18. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member


    An important point. The general discussion in the United States, when it comes to a woman's responsibility toward preventing other people's misbehavior, often overlooks the imbalance of these burdens and the nature of the threats.

    That is, everyone can contribute to their own safety, as such. But, as a male, my prevention "obligations"—such as they are—don't compare to a woman's. Indeed, I'm more likely to skip a club or tavern because I don't like the music than any perception of threat. As a male, I don't worry about who I'm going to tempt, encourage, or invite to rape me when talking to random strangers. I don't by any means look like a "tough guy", but even the notion of a mugging doesn't concern me much. It might sound like a brag, but in truth I don't know what it is; people don't seem to want to (ahem!) "fuck with me".

    (No, really, I don't know why that is, though a friend suggests that I look angry at some of the strangest times; so who knows, maybe a potential mugger thinks I'm psycho, or maybe I just don't look rich enough to rob.)

    I know how to glance aside at a shop window to see who's following me, and every time I bother, it turns out I'm just being paranoid. I know how to take whatever precautions, but in the end it generally seems like wasted energy.

    So when people say that we all have to take precautions, well, sure, this is true. But it's a vastly different context for men than women.

    And what really bugs me about prevention theories is that so many of the extra burdens we put on women exist simply because it's not worth it to us, as a society, to change this. When I hear the father of a daughter, or the brother of a sister, or the husband of a wife talk about prevention theory or make excuses for rapists, I do wonder what they will say if it's ever that daughter, sister, or wife. To the other, I don't want to find out. I don't want those men to find out, either.

    I'm a cat person. Looking back to Marcotte's article, I am reminded of the number of random cats that will approach me when I walk through neighborhoods. And I always stop and say hello; I have a ritual where I sing two notes from Webber: "O! cat ...." They love it. And they ask for attention. Follow me halfway down the block. If I turned around, pulled a knife, and slashed the cat to bloody bits, who would blame the cat?

    So, yeah. Cats can saunter up to people and say hello, and if that person turns out to be a psycho, nobody blames the cat.

    If I kill your cat, nobody blames the cat. If someone (ahem!) "steals your kitty", though? Well, lady, what did you do to get yourself into that mess?

    Sure, we might all carry our crosses, so to speak. But for men, it's a little gold charm on a necklace. For women, it's an eight foot beam with a five foot crosspiece. Yeah, we all have our crosses to bear, but that doesn't mean they're remotely the same.

    When it gets to the point that women can walk around drug-infested, crime-ridden neighborhoods without fear, and men are expected to leave the mall early because we know it's not safe to walk through the empty parking lot at night, maybe these prevention theories will finally be sent to the rubbish tip where they belong.
  19. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    Tiassa I agree its a stupid "theory" but your comments about your own safety are interesting. According to the stats I read a while back from the institute of criminology, for both all violent crimes and for homocides no matter if the offender is a man or women the victim is more likely to be a man. The only exception to that is sexual assault (when broken down into types of assaults). So in reality it could well be argued that you are being too risky with your own behaviour except that in all cases your more likely to be victimised by someone you know anyway
  20. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    I often wonder if such persons have "prevention theories" for other, erm, "categories" of persons, say children, for instance:

    Kids ought to stop playing in parks and being cute and suchlike, as they're just begging to be abducted and molested.
  21. Bells Staff Member


    Which is why, as a woman, I will now view you as a potential rapist.

    After all, I need to protect my merchandise.

    You have advised your fiancee that she needs to take self defense classes or martial arts to protect herself from any of the potential rapists who may exist in her circle of family and friends? After all, that would prove useful in protecting her merchandise.

    She would get a kick out of the thought you owned her?

    Lovely for you.

    So you will wear shorts only for your wife?

    Your comments in your previous post says otherwise..

    If that is how you wish to view yourself.
  22. arauca Banned Banned

    You dam right your post is to long.
    Look how dumb her position is ; all man are rapist therefore don't associate your self with man , Was her male relative a rapist ?

    Is this to promote lesbianism ?
    Tiassa, are you a male or female ?
  23. IfIonlyhadabrain Registered Member

    I feel like I did something to you, Bells, but I'm not sure what it is. I'm sorry if I've offended you. I don't know why you keep referring to your "merchandise." It was an analogy. The way you're treating it isn't fair. I am against prostitution, because bodies are not things to be traded. I'm against pornography for the same reason. Human trafficking is a terrible blight in our world. Please, I'm asking you, to stop attributing a mentality to me that I don't have.
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