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Seen in many places

A lot has been said about how to prevent rape.
Women should learn self-defense.
Women should lock themselves in their houses after dark.
Women shouldn't have long hair and women shouldn't wear short skirts.
Women shouldn't leave drinks unattended. Fuck, they shouldn't dare to get drunk at all.

Instead of that bullshit, how about:

If a woman is drunk, don't rape her.

If a woman is walking alone at night, don't rape her.
If a women is drugged and unconscious, don't rape her.
If a woman is wearing a short skirt, don't rape her.
If a woman is jogging in a park at 5 a.m., don't rape her.
If a woman looks like your ex-girlfriend you're still hung up on, don't rape her.
If a woman is asleep in her bed, don't rape her.
If a woman is asleep in your bed, don't rape her.
If a woman is doing her laundry, don't rape her.
If a woman is in a coma, don't rape her.
If a woman changes her mind in the middle of or about a particular activity, don't rape her.
If a woman has repeatedly refused a certain activity, don't rape her.
If a woman is not yet a woman, but a child, don't rape her.
If your girlfriend or wife is not in the mood, don't rape her.
If your step-daughter is watching TV, don't rape her.
If you break into a house and find a woman there, don't rape her.
If your friend thinks it's okay to rape someone, tell him it's not, and that he's not your friend.
If your "friend" tells you he raped someone, report him to the police.
If your frat-brother or another guy at the party tells you there's an unconscious woman upstairs and it's your turn, don't rape her, call the police and report him as a rapist.
Tell your sons, god-sons, nephews, grandsons, and sons of friends that it's not okay to rape someone.

Don't just tell your women friends how to be safe and avoid rape.
Don't imply that she could have avoided it if she'd only done/not done x, y or z.
Don't imply that it's in any way her fault.
Don't let silence imply agreement when someone tells you he "got some" with the drunk girl.
Don't perpetuate a culture that tells you that you have no control over or responsibility for your actions. You can, too, help yourself.

My comment reposted from clawfoot's journal:

It makes sense to read male-bashing in the meme. At the same time - only five of the suggestions even include references to men. The rest are just as applicable to anyone who rapes or considers rape, regardless of sex.

It does bug me that the five suggestions using male nouns and pronouns imply only the raping of women by men is worth discussing. OTOH, I also see the point when people say that the raping of women by men occurs much more often than other kinds of rape and thus deserves more discussion.

But I think both of these things - "rape is an integral and constant element of the male psyche," singling out rape-of-women-by-men for discussion - occur partly because men-raping-women is "an integral and constant element of" our culture. Other sorts of rapes occur and are equally horrible (if not more so because of their invisibility) but the culture doesn't get as excited over them.

I think it's unfortunate that the meme essentially perpetuates this men-raping-women cluster-of-ideas-thoughts-and-imagery by presenting a list of situations where one is invited to visualize a woman's getting raped.

I also very much agree with one part of its message: Rape is not the fault of the person who gets raped.

Comments

( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
jenk
Dec. 1st, 2005 10:43 pm (UTC)
Rape is not the fault of the person who gets raped.

Fault, no. The fault is with the perp not the victim. Just like the fault for theft is with the thief. Not locking your front door while you go to the mailbox does not mean people can just walk off with your stuff. Even if you stop to talk with a neighbor. Theft is theft. Rape is rape.

But I am a little leery of the idea that the victim is always powerless & the perp is always powerful.

None of the above means locking doors isn't smart.
None of the above means that going to a frat party and getting drunk is a good idea.
Or getting drunk in a bar.
mama_hogswatch quoted a conversation from a martial arts class:
Student: "What's your favorite bar fighting technique?"
Instructor: "Not going to bars."
I've seen statistics that up to 80% of violent attacks involve some sort of intoxicating or imparing substance. Yes, I drink. I just don't seek out a roomful of intoxicated & potentially violent strangers to do it with. When I lower my ability to enforce boundaries I want to be with people who I trust to back me up, and perferably on my home turf.

And yes, these sort of guidelines apply to both men and women. Men are more likely to be victims of violent assault than women (note that's assault in general, not sexual assault).
leback
Dec. 1st, 2005 11:08 pm (UTC)
None of the above means locking doors isn't smart.
None of the above means that going to a frat party and getting drunk is a good idea.
Or getting drunk in a bar.


I think part of the problem here is that somehow, this culture has twisted things around so that the awareness that there are things one can do as a potential victim to reduce one's risk level winds up offloading responsibility from the perpetrator. As though, because the victim didn't take as much care as they could have, society is less outraged at the person who actually committed the assault. What that person did is just as horribly wrong no matter what the victim did or didn't do to try to avoid it--whether the victim took every precaution possible, or was completely careless, the person who committed rape is every bit as much a rapist. Society, though, treats it as though there's only so much responsibility to go around, so that to the extent that potential victims are capable of looking out for themselves, potential perpetrators have that much less responsibility for their actions. That sucks.
starcat_jewel
Dec. 2nd, 2005 01:59 am (UTC)
Society, though, treats it as though there's only so much responsibility to go around, so that to the extent that potential victims are capable of looking out for themselves, potential perpetrators have that much less responsibility for their actions.

Yes, that's part of the point. Although I do feel constrained to note that it's not nearly as strong a reaction for other types of crime. If a man flashes a wad of cash around in a bar and gets rolled for it, people may go "tsk-tsk, how stupid can you get?" -- but there is still no question that he was the victim of a crime. If a woman is wearing a short skirt and gets raped... all of a sudden she's the one who did something wrong, and the rapist is completely exonerated!

The other part of the point is that the exclusive focus on women in rape prevention reinforces this. When we talk to women about "ways to avoid rape" without also talking to men about "how not to become a rapist", we put all the responsibility for rape onto the woman -- just as we used to put all the responsibility for birth control onto the woman. Have you ever heard someone say, "she got herself pregnant"? It used to be a common phrase, as though the other participant in the process had nothing whatsoever to do with it. And I've also heard the corresponding phrase "she got herself raped", though neither one as frequently these days as they used to be used.

What's interesting to me is the number of people who are making one of two particular misinterpretations of this meme: (1) that it's advocating not teaching women how to reduce their risk exposure, or (2) that it can't possibly do any good because "there will always be rapists". The first misinterpretation IMO is an indicator of the same either/or, zero-sum mindset you mentioned. The second shows just how deeply the rape culture permeates our society, that people can't even envision a change which would make rape more of an abnormality and less just "something some guys do".
leback
Dec. 2nd, 2005 03:49 am (UTC)
Yes, that's part of the point. Although I do feel constrained to note that it's not nearly as strong a reaction for other types of crime.

Yeah, I meant to be talking specifically there about the way society treats rape, but I managed not to make that explicit in what I said. Thanks for the clarification.
jenk
Dec. 3rd, 2005 03:20 am (UTC)
(2) that it can't possibly do any good because "there will always be rapists"

The meme appears to be trying to counter the idea that it's not rape in certain circumstances (such as if a girl is unconscious or dressed in a certain way or whatever). Of course, if the meme included "If he's the new guy in the cellblock, don't rape him", it might do a better job.

No, I don't buy that "there will always be rapists." I buy that there will always be predators. We may be able to build a society where predators are too scared of consequences to resort to violence - but the predators would still be there. They'll just have to restrict themselves to white-collar crime.
jenk
Dec. 3rd, 2005 03:22 am (UTC)
Society, though, treats it as though there's only so much responsibility to go around, so that to the extent that potential victims are capable of looking out for themselves, potential perpetrators have that much less responsibility for their actions. That sucks.

I completely agree.
firecat
Dec. 1st, 2005 11:35 pm (UTC)
But I am a little leery of the idea that the victim is always powerless & the perp is always powerful.

I don't like that idea either, nor do I live as if it's the case. And as an ACOA I have a pretty strong squick against being around intoxicated people which causes me to avoid them, and I know that helps keep me safer.

But I have seen many discussions on the blogosphere recently of specific rape cases that very quickly attracted a lot of comments along the lines of "She did X, she was wearing Y, she was in Z location, what did she expect?" I think that's where the meme came from.

Good point about men being subject to violent assault.
johnpalmer
Dec. 2nd, 2005 05:56 pm (UTC)
But I am a little leery of the idea that the victim is always powerless & the perp is always powerful

The meme doesn't say the victim is powerless; it says that rape doesn't "just happen". It's not an accident; it's not like "maybe you should have driven a bit slower because the roads were a bit icy here and there." A rapist isn't like an ice patch that catches you by surprise.

Rape is different from theft, though, because no one asks "did you lead him on? Tempt him with the goods? Did you maybe suggest that it'd be okay if he pushed his way into your house and stole your money?"

Sure, there are false accusations of theft... but people don't get horrified by the notion that there might be an innocent person in jail for OMG THEFT!

If you can't prove someone cheated you in a business deal, people don't get all scornful and in your face about not even talking about it, because you can't prove it, because there were no witnesses.

While the legal system has to be held back and has to protect the rights of the accused, even if it seems to be snubbing the victim and suggesting that the victim is just as likely to be a liar as telling the truth, society doesn't have to... but it does.
jenk
Dec. 3rd, 2005 03:39 am (UTC)
The meme doesn't say the victim is powerless; it says that rape doesn't "just happen". It's not an accident; it's not like "maybe you should have driven a bit slower because the roads were a bit icy here and there." A rapist isn't like an ice patch that catches you by surprise.

Actually, I would say that a rape VICTIM isn't like an ice patch that catches you by surprise. A rapist does not accidently rape someone.

Rape is different from theft, though, because no one asks "did you lead him on? Tempt him with the goods? Did you maybe suggest that it'd be okay if he pushed his way into your house and stole your money?"

No? They why didn't the cops take a report of my stolen wallet because "You set it down on the counter, they can just say you abandoned it, why bother?" Why does my car insurance policy state that the company reserves the right to deny a claim for theft if they can prove the car wasn't locked? Why is a man who is mugged in a bad part of town labeled a "dumbass" by his friends and boss? Why did the cops talk a coworker out of filing charges against his 20-year-old son for stealing $2000 because "The kid lives with you, so it's not stealing, really"?

I am NOT saying that theft is as traumatic as rape. But I did think about that analogy before I used it.
johnpalmer
Dec. 3rd, 2005 04:44 am (UTC)
Ref: rapist not like an ice patch...

An ice patch is something that can cause an accident, without malice. A woman walking in a bad part of town is not at risk of something "just happening" (like a motorist hitting a patch of black ice)... she's in danger of someone making a decision to rape her.

It's not saying "the victim is powerless". It's saying "rape doesn't just happen because a woman was careless. Rape happens because a rapist rapes her."

(NB: I use "man raping women" because it's the most common version of rape, not to deny other possibilities.)

As for the rest, I'll grant you, yes, there are people who can be nastily callous about any crime. But it doesn't approach the casual callousness of rape.

At the root, people will at least acknowledge the pain of victims of theft. People don't bitch about how *terrible* it would be to make false accusations of theft when it's certain that a theft occurred. Yes, people can be callous assholes about a lot of things. But more people are even more callous and even bigger assholes when it comes to ignoring the reality of rape.
jenk
Dec. 1st, 2005 10:49 pm (UTC)
I think it's unfortunate that the meme essentially perpetuates this men-raping-women cluster-of-ideas-thoughts-and-imagery by presenting a list of situations where one is invited to visualize a woman's getting raped.

Yeah. I think that list could easily turn into sexual fantasy material...
daltong
Dec. 1st, 2005 10:52 pm (UTC)
I was in the position of trying to get help for a man who was being physically abused by her girlfriend. I called several crisis centers and other similar places, and all of them responded like this:

"I need help for a man who's being abused by his girlfriend."

"How long has he been abusing her?"

If I managed to get them to understand that he was the victim, not her, then either they weren't set up for that and had no suggestions or were openly snotty and doubtful about the possibility of a man being abused.

It was pretty gross.
pure_agnostic
Dec. 2nd, 2005 04:36 am (UTC)
If they were snotty or doubtful, then it just shows they are not accepting that men can be (and are) abused. I've seen men abuse men, women abuse women, and women abuse men. Except for men abusing men, I've not seen these as often as I've seen men abuse women.
ailbhe
Dec. 1st, 2005 10:56 pm (UTC)
I think that more attention being paid to - and more sentencing and less social acceptability for, even in nasty subcultures - male-on-female rape, the more will fall onto other kinds of rape, just as a side-effect. I think that the reason rape by women isn't seen as a big crime is the general perception of female powerlessness in re sex, and the reasons man-on-man rape isn't much noticed is because it happens to "men who are like women", ie men who are fucked. So it's all tied into societal perceptions of masculine and feminine sexuality, regardless of the actual sexes of people involved, and those perceptions are fucked up.
pir_anha
Dec. 1st, 2005 11:10 pm (UTC)
*nod*. exactly. not infrequently i hear people actually JOKE about a teen/man being raped by a female person in power over them -- apparently that is everyone's greatest fantasy, to be done by the teacher or the prison warden. WTF! somebody needs to teach those people about the difference between fantasy and reality; nevermind applying their own fantasies to third parties.

judging from my own circle of acquaintances, rape of men is severely underreported. and if people are upset about women being blamed despite being the victims, they should have a look at what happens to men who were raped. these days women at least are paid some proper attention to by crisis centres; men are often mistreated even by those.

me, i think it's all about the wider part of consent and respecting boundaries, and that's not a gendered thing. a lot of rape isn't the violent stranger kind, it's done by relatives of the person, or some other person in a position of authority.

the violation of my boundaries started with my parents actually punishing me when i resisted having my cheeks pinched by grandma. how was i later gonna tell uncle alfred to back off when he started to fondle me? i had, after all, been taught painfully and persistently that it didn't pay to say "no!" to adults, and that i had no safe boundaries over which they weren't allowed to step.
pir_anha
Dec. 1st, 2005 10:56 pm (UTC)
so why don't you change the pronouns? in my book true memefication is about the gist, the idea, not the precise wording. i see that the attribution has already been lost since i first saw this one, *little grin*, so how much does the precise wording matter?

aside from the gendered pronoun use, i feel this one doesn't particularly bash men. ad even the pronoun use makes sense, because the lead-in is pretty specific to the things said about how women should behave. i don't recall ever hearing that men might be asking for it by the way they're dressed, or just by the fact that they're walking alone after dark. victim-blaming directed at men is different. i think it avoids male-bashing for me because of the way it's addressed, and it uses the hypothetical voice.
johnpalmer
Dec. 2nd, 2005 06:02 pm (UTC)
Nod. As an avowed masculinist, I don't see any male-bashing at all. I do see some gender specificity that isn't *entirely* warranted, but geez, what are the proportions? If 90% of rapes (number pulled out of my ass, but it wouldn't surprise me) were man-raping-woman, why shouldn't that be the primary target of discussion?
leback
Dec. 1st, 2005 11:00 pm (UTC)
I think that essay is valuable in that it makes the point that the fundamental problem lies with the rapist, not the victim.

I was bothered when I first read it, because it was presented under the heading "How to stop rape," and I read that as implying that these are things the reader is likely to be able to do to stop rape. As such, I felt accused, and I resented that. I like this presentation better.

Meanwhile, I think jenk made good points above, in that in a world where I am personally powerless to wipe out rape entirely, there is value for me in knowing what I can do to protect myself. I wish the cultural baggage coming from widespread victim-blaming didn't make it so hard to talk about how one can protect oneself without muddying the issue of who is fundamentally to blame for rape.
gconnor
Dec. 2nd, 2005 12:07 am (UTC)
It makes sense to read male-bashing in the meme.

I'm male and I didn't read it as male-bashing. Even if the message is targetted at men, it doesn't contain any generalizations like "Men are natural born rapists". If the method of delivery implies "Men need this advice to keep from becoming rapists" then that would be slightly leaning toward a type of bashing, but as presented here it doesn't ring that way to me.


using male nouns and pronouns imply only the raping of women by men is worth discussing

Well, presentation of a message that certain people need to hear is not the same as saying "other messages are not worth presenting". Saying "Women: protect yourselves" is not to say "Men: You don't need protection". Certainly saying one message over and over may imply an emphasis on that specific message, but doesn't exclude other messages. Same goes for "Men: Don't rape women" - it doesn't imply that men raping men or boys is OK.

(It's possible that this was in response to something else in the other/original entry that I'm not seeing here...)


"rape is an integral and constant element of the male psyche,"

wtf, who said that? Rape is not an element of my psyche, certainly not an integral and constant one. *That* part qualifies as male-bashing. I'm guessing that the original writer of that meant it as more of a straw-man that needed to be disputed, rather than any kind of a statement about how men actually think/feel/believe/behave.

I think we have emotions by way of being animals, and we have the power to assert intellect and willpower between our emotions and our behavior by way of being human. I also think that if a person has a tendency to behave a certain way without engaging thoughts and conscious decision first, that means he/she hasn't received the proper training necessary to qualify as "human". Therefore, someone who rapes another person and then says "But, but, but she was wearing a short skirt!!!1" as far as I'm concerned, he is not human.


I also very much agree with one part of its message: Rape is not the fault of the person who gets raped.

Oh yeah, definitely. Hear hear! There's a difference between advice that tells people to protect themselves, and saying it's their fault if they don't. Some people misread helpful advice as scolding those who don't follow it. That seems to be the whole point behind the meme. (Makes it kind of a counter-meme I guess :)
pure_agnostic
Dec. 2nd, 2005 04:44 am (UTC)
rape is an integral and constant element of the male psyche
I've heard that one also, and I agree with your response to it. It is just like when I've heard that "keeping the black man down is an essential part of white culture". I think both statements are equally wrong in that they assume that it is important for being white or male to oppress nonwhites and women.
firecat
Dec. 2nd, 2005 06:41 am (UTC)
See my reply to the comment you responded to.
firecat
Dec. 2nd, 2005 06:40 am (UTC)
wtf, who said that? Rape is not an element of my psyche, certainly not an integral and constant one. *That* part qualifies as male-bashing. I'm guessing that the original writer of that meant it as more of a straw-man that needed to be disputed, rather than any kind of a statement about how men actually think/feel/believe/behave.

Sorry to be unclear.

The original poster who used that phrase criticized the meme on the grounds that it implied "rape is an integral and constant element of the male psyche."
gconnor
Dec. 2nd, 2005 06:20 pm (UTC)
Right, that's what I was assuming from the context.

It looks like the person who originally said that was falling victim to a fallacy:
"A is true."
"By telling me A is true, you must be implying that I am ignorant of A. By emphasizing A to all men, you must be implying that all men are naturally ignorant of A and in need of help understanding A. I resent the implication!"
"Hang on, I'm not implying that, I'm just saying A because someone else was saying B and leaving out A"

I often think that reasonable people disagree on matters of emphasis and priority/ordering, more than they disagree on the basics. Unfortunately, stating something as an absolute or as a generalization is a common way to emphasize something, and even if they're not stating something as a generalization, sometimes the reader infers it anyway. In this case I think it wasn't stated or even implied, but the critic read some motive into it that wasn't there. Sigh.

Anyway, I agree with pretty much everything you posted. And I appreciate the food for thought. All is well.
firecat
Dec. 2nd, 2005 11:55 pm (UTC)
In this case I think it wasn't stated or even implied, but the critic read some motive into it that wasn't there.

Right, and I think part of the reason that got read in is because of the larger context of the discussion in our culture.
dbubley
Dec. 2nd, 2005 01:17 am (UTC)
It would probably be very interesting to do an in-depth study of gender and rape. I don't think this society even thinks of a woman as a rapist, except possibly of children, or other women, which is why it almost never comes up unless it's a teacher with a student. Nobody talks much about lesbians anyway.

So when you hear of a male getting raped, the first thought is probably going to be that it was a homosexual act. Rape, however, is not really a sexual act as much as a power-over act that uses sex as its expression.

Males have trouble admitting that they were raped. Young males seduced, or even forced, into sex by older women often gain status among their peers. Rather than being the shameful act that it at least used to be for women, a male is going to be high-fived by his peers, who will see him as the one who made the conquest. As long as it's an opposite sex scenario, there have been studies which conclude that young men recover faster and with fewer problems than young women. Raped females are seen as somehow being devalued, but males supposedly gain value from the experience. Make it a same sex scenario and it doesn't translate.

I could say more about this, but I don't want to. As it is, every time I come across the news it's front and center way too often. Nancy Grace talks a lot about beautiful girls or women missing or raped. Then there was that pretty blond school teacher who was too beautiful to do jail time. Why is beauty even mentioned, doesn't rape stand alone? It all drives me bonkers on many, many levels.

DON'T RAPE.
pure_agnostic
Dec. 2nd, 2005 04:47 am (UTC)
Then there was that pretty blond school teacher who was too beautiful to do jail time.
I thought she got off way too easy. If a man had done the same to a female or male teen, he would have been thrown in jail!
jenk
Dec. 3rd, 2005 03:45 am (UTC)
If you mean LeTourneau, she did to jail time. But not nearly enough my in book.
pure_agnostic
Dec. 3rd, 2005 05:00 am (UTC)
Actually, I meant Debra Lafave. She got a very light sentence of house arrest for only 3 years.

http://edition.cnn.com/2005/LAW/11/22/teachersex.plea.ap/
jenk
Dec. 3rd, 2005 03:42 am (UTC)
Can I just say I love your icon?
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )

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