Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Rape and unreason

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  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    In the context of twitter, sometimes those with quieter voices don't get heard. That was her point, I think.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Susan Main, in reply to Emma Hart,

    consent seems like a pretty low bar - how about enthusiasm?

    Dunedin • Since Oct 2013 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Susan Main,

    consent seems like a pretty low bar – how about enthusiasm?

    This used to be my view - until someone pointed out to me that people are allowed to consent to sex they're not actually jumping up and down enthusiastic about., for all kinds of reasons.

    Now I prefer the Pervocracy's How to Have Sex on Purpose approach.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Rape culture is admonishing women to “learn common sense” or “be more responsible” or “be aware of barroom risks” or “avoid these places” or “don’t dress this way,” and failing to admonish men to not rape.

    As much as I support the idea that admonishing women for failing to act in some way to prevent rape is absurd and wrong, I don't like the "failing to admonish men to not rape" part.

    Rapists are the ones who rape. The vast majority of men are not rapists and when that idea of telling men not to rape idea becomes popular (it has at some events and in some circumstances) then it creates the opposite situation where instead of women being seen to be potentially inviting an attack, all men are seen as being potential attackers.

    It's not unlike, in some ways, the paranoia that surrounds (in some places) men interacting with children. I know fathers personally who've been verbally abused for helping a stranger's kid who's fallen at a playground - I've never heard a similar story from a mother.

    We shouldn't blame women for somehow making themselves victims, but it's also not beneficial to implicitly or explicitly that every man is a likely rapist.

    That said, I don't know what a better approach is... Although I personally think that if we can stop blaming victims then that will help a lot.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan,

    Rapists are the ones who rape. The vast majority of men are not rapists and when that idea of telling men not to rape idea becomes popular (it has at some events and in some circumstances) then it creates the opposite situation where instead of women being seen to be potentially inviting an attack, all men are seen as being potential attackers.

    Dude. I don't know if you know this, but in some situations, every man is a potential rapist. When I'm walking home at night, every man is a potential threat to me. When an elderly lady is at home alone, every stranger could cause her harm.

    And when we teach women that wearing Short skirts invites rape, that actually IS what we are saying. We're saying that every man is a hemline/drunk chick/dark pathway away from being a rapist. It's almost like y'all want us to be afraid.

    We shouldn’t blame women for somehow making themselves victims, but it’s also not beneficial to implicitly or explicitly that every man is a likely rapist.

    DUDE. Women don't make themselves victims. (Nor do men who are the victims of crimes.) Abusers and assaulters and rapists make people victims.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    it’s also not beneficial to implicitly or explicitly that every man is a likely rapist.

    Every adult needs to know what consent is, and how to be sure they have it. Many convicted rapists DON'T know what consent is, or how to ask for it. They think a woman must be consenting because of the way she dressed, where she was, because women always want it, because she's dating them, because women say "no" when they mean "yes", etc., etc.

    Men can do a lot to prevent other men from raping in the same way they can stop each other driving drunk. Keep your eyes open, if you see anything which looks dodgy, do something. Check if everybody's OK.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3894 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Lilith __,

    Men can do a lot to prevent other men from raping in the same way they can stop each other driving drunk. Keep your eyes open, if you see anything which looks dodgy, do something. Check if everybody’s OK

    A long time ago, when one of my sibs marriages was breaking down, the couple was asked to do some simple exercises: one was, check your own personal space...

    (Needless to say, one person's was " about a foot" and the other's about ' a metre & a half...)

    If anyone except my mother & closest sibs gets within the metre distant from me - I am full alert. I am notorious in hongi lines for 'hongi' then discreetly push you about 3 yards away-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    1. Here's the distinction. It's not that we positively think that you *are*; it's just that sometimes, *we don't know that you're not*. (There is a good article on this called Schrodinger's Rapist which may be instructive.)

    2. As Lilith says, anti-rape campaigns aimed at men aren't about hurting your non-rapist feelings: they exist because *some men don't actually know what rape is* or consider themselves rapists. (See some US research: guys will self-report doing rapey things as long as you don't attach the actual word rape to the question. )

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    That said, I don’t know what a better approach is…

    Well, I don't see how it needs to be a pendulum swinging between extremes. How's about a little balance? Surely we should be able to teach our kids that there are bad people and broken people out there who could do them harm and that they need to make sure they have consent before they have sex, and do all of that without either victim blaming or calling all men rapists?

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    Dude. I don’t know if you know this, but in some situations, every man is a potential rapist. When I’m walking home at night, every man is a potential threat to me. When an elderly lady is at home alone, every stranger could cause her harm.

    I don't think that's true. Every man can be perceived as a potential threat, but almost every man is not a threat.

    Telling every man to not be a rapist is conditioning women to believe every that every man may be a rapist, and generally increasing distrust between men and women.

    And when we teach women that wearing Short skirts invites rape, that actually IS what we are saying. We’re saying that every man is a hemline/drunk chick/dark pathway away from being a rapist. It’s almost like y’all want us to be afraid.

    I'm not sure if I wasn't clear. I do not believe we should be teaching women that anything invites rape (nothing does!!) - I think we need to eliminate that idea, but I don't think at the same time we need to start telling all men (and women) that every man is a potential rapist. Isn't that no better - "hey guys, we know you want to rape, but don't"??

    DUDE. Women don’t make themselves victims. (Nor do men who are the victims of crimes.) Abusers and assaulters and rapists make people victims.

    Again - totally not what I was saying. No one should be accused of making themselves a victim of crime. We acknowledge there are things in all circumstances that can reduce risk but not doing those things is never justification for crimes of any sort.

    Not locking your front door doesn't justify someone taking your TV, etc etc...

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    We are ALREADY CONDITIONED TO THINK THAT. I’m sorry for shouting, but the lady-paranoia you think might happen if there are anti-rape campaigns aimed at dudes? It’s already here. And the reason it’s already here is that we spend a considerable amount of our lives making sure we aren’t doing “the wrong thing” because the animalistic penis-brains just can’t help themselves. (Which is of course bollocks. But that's how the culture currently works.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Lilith __,

    Men can do a lot to prevent other men from raping in the same way they can stop each other driving drunk.

    I think society can do that - not just men. And I think it has a lot more to do with stopping victim blaming than it does with treating all men as potential rapists.

    Guys who have an issue with what consent seem likely to be picking up on those ideas from news and media. Every time some story like this one suggests that being in a place or wearing a thing was in some way inviting attack then it is also planting that idea in the heads of potential attackers.

    If we, as a society (and media especially) stop ever making those excuses then I think that would go a long way toward creating a better sense of what is right.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    I don’t think that’s true. Every man can be perceived as a potential threat, but almost every man is not a threat.

    Telling every man to not be a rapist is conditioning women to believe every that every man may be a rapist, and generally increasing distrust between men and women.

    We already think that. Seriously. We are taught at KINDERGARTEN to look out for strange men, and to "regulate our behaviour" to adjust for rapacious men.

    And the trick is? THERE IS ACTUALLY NOTHING WE CAN DO TO AVOID THEM.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    When you say that women can prevent or invite rape by how they behave or what they wear or where they go, what you are really saying is that rape is a legitimate punishment for stepping off the proscribed path. The threat of rape is (almost) as much a tool of control as the act itself.

    We can do a lot to teach people about consent. We can teach preschoolers to ask before starting physical play, to watch the other kids' faces to make sure they feel ok. We can empower young people to talk about their desires and limits before their clothes come off. Most importantly, we can create a culture in which women are not prizes to be won and in which no one owes anyone sex no matter how fancy the date, or how many other people they've slept with, or what they did last night.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 719 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Danielle,

    1. Here’s the distinction. It’s not that we positively think that you *are*; it’s just that sometimes, *we don’t know that you’re not*. (There is a good article on this called Schrodinger’s Rapist which may be instructive.)

    Indeed, all men can be perceived as potential rapists, but not all are. But I feel that by addressing all men as if they are possible rapists then you reinforce the idea that they are, both to them and to women.

    It feels a little like the paranoia surrounding child abduction where parents, constantly told about the dangers and risk of abduction, become unreasonably over protective and suspicious. Children, constantly drilled (poorly) about "stranger danger" become literally afraid of all strangers.

    2. As Lilith says, anti-rape campaigns aimed at men aren’t about hurting your non-rapist feelings: they exist because *some men don’t actually know what rape is* or consider themselves rapists. (See some US research: guys will self-report doing rapey things as long as you don’t attach the actual word rape to the question. )

    All of the four questions listed in that article seem pretty distinctly "rapey" to me - like the trial experience I related on Page 1, those are all cases where, I think, no reasonable person would think there was consent... Three of the four include "threat or force" and the other makes it clear the partner "did not want to".

    It's alarming that 7% of people responding to that survey admit to those things, but it's still "only" 7%.

    Maybe there needs to be a change of message - but the things listed in those survey seem pretty self explanatory to me, and frankly I think they should to all men. Am I just over-estimating men in general?

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Danielle,

    we spend a considerable amount of our lives making sure we aren’t doing “the wrong thing” because the animalistic penis-brains just can’t help themselves. (Which is of course bollocks. But that’s how the culture currently works.)

    I don't disagree - but I think it's that victim blaming (and perpetrator excusing) culture that's at fault. I think addressing that is very productive, but if anything I think that addressing all men as rapists actually makes it worse. It tells those penis-brained fools that they actually are normal - that their desires and attitudes are the norm because everyone's being told that.

    Perhaps what I'm saying is that I think "she was asking for it in that skirt" and "guys, don't rape people" are the same message. Both imply that men, naturally somehow, are predisposed to that.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Isabel Hitchings,

    We can do a lot to teach people about consent. We can teach preschoolers to ask before starting physical play, to watch the other kids’ faces to make sure they feel ok.

    The one moral lesson I try to drum into my kids is "the golden rule" - it works in pretty much every situation. "Would you like it if someone did that to you?" -- They understand it implicitly, and it's a simple lesson that's easy to apply.

    It can definitely become more nuanced as they get older of course, but honestly I can't think of any moral decision that doesn't basically come down to that if you can figure out how it applies (maybe that's the trick).

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    Perhaps what I’m saying is that I think “she was asking for it in that skirt” and “guys, don’t rape people” are the same message. Both imply that men, naturally somehow, are predisposed to that.

    I couldn't disagree more with that interpretation. The former has all the essentialist futility you're talking about; the latter is all about education and culture change. It's as if you're arguing that Russell shouldn't have been part of the "It's Not OK" campaign because it implies that everyone in families beats each other up all the time. The point is that if you're not beating up or raping people, these education campaigns ARE NOT ABOUT YOU.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    It’s alarming that 7% of people responding to that survey admit to those things, but it’s still “only” 7%.

    The majority of that 7% repeated their behaviour, so they hurt a wider circle of people than the percentage figure might imply.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • kmont, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    This. Precisely so. It is fear of looking the real situation in the face.

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 485 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    You know what I hate? The fact that every woman I know has stories of when she was raped/abused, or the times she had a narrow escape from same.

    Do you know what it's like to always, always feel fearful when out alone at night, and often in the daytime too, if there aren't many people around? This is what women live with. Is that fair?

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3894 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    It feels a little like the paranoia surrounding child abduction where parents, constantly told about the dangers and risk of abduction, become unreasonably over protective and suspicious.

    Except that sexual assault is way, WAY more common than child abduction.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Isabel Hitchings,

    The threat of rape is (almost) as much a tool of control as the act itself.

    This is absolutely true (and we can thank the second wave for the feminist theory about this very issue).

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • kmont, in reply to BenWilson,

    There categorically is a large section of the public that believes this, hence why we have to visibly fight these attitudes.

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 485 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Lilith __,

    Do you know what it’s like to always, always feel fearful when out alone at night, and often in the daytime too, if there aren’t many people around? This is what women live with. Is that fair?

    Definitely not suggesting it's fair.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

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