Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Rape and Slut-Shaming: Feminism's Biggest Hypocrisy

Let's play a little game I remember from watching Sesame Street as a kid. It's called One of These Things is Not Like the Others:

"Just moved into a bad neighborhood? Invest in a good lock, and use it. Wouldn't hurt to get a dog or install a security system, either." 


Wow, great advice, thanks.


"Want a nice stereo for your car? Think about getting one you can remove from the dashboard and take with you when you park your car. And don't forget to stow any valuables out of sight."


Good idea.


"Cars these days have chips installed in the ignition keys. They're super-expensive to replace, but the car won't start without it--a great theft deterrent."


$50 well spent, in my opinion, if it means my car will stay where I left it.


"Heading to the convenience store at night? Those places usually have lots of windows for a reason--it's a good idea to check out who's inside and what they're up to before you go in. Better to err on the side of caution than end up walking in on the middle of a robbery in progress."


Hey, I never really thought about that, but it sounds smart.


"Same goes for using an ATM--always check out who's hanging around, and once you've got your money, stow it and move along ASAP."


Oh, totally.


"Drive defensively. There are plenty of crappy drivers around, not to mention drunks. You don't just want to avoid causing an accident, you want to avoid being involved in one someone else causes."


You're right.


"Phishing scams are big money for fraud artists these days. No matter how legit an email looks, never give out personal info, or use the provided link to do it--always log into your bank's website or your paypal account the usual way."


Only common sense.


"Never buzz someone you don't know into your building. Not even if they claim to be a resident who's lost his keys--if he is, he can contact the landlord."


Yeah, no need to make it easy for burglars to get into the building.


"Oh, and if you want to avoid being raped, you should not dress like a slut. Especially if you're going to a party and there's going to be guys and drinking or drugs. I know you want male attention, but when you seek it out by dressing a certain way, you're can't control whose attention you're attracting--rapists or decent guys."


OMG! You slut-shaming, victim-blaming pig! How dare you tell me how to dress? You should be telling men not to rape women! How a woman dresses has NOTHING to do with rape! Little old ladies get raped! Rape is about power, not sex! I can dress however I want and I should be able to be safe from rape! Telling women they should behave in certain ways to prevent their own rapes is like saying that getting raped is their fault!!! Are you saying if I wear a short skirt I was asking for it??!!! ARE YOU!!???

Did you all spot it? If you need to go back and read through it again, go ahead, I'll wait. If you need help figuring it out (many women seem to need help understanding this kind of thing), all of the quoted bits in blue are advice you might get from a parent, a concerned friend or the police on steps that you, as an individual, can take to minimize your risks becoming a victim of a crime or catastrophe. The typical reactions to this advice are in red.

See it now? No matter what the crime is--whether it's burglary, robbery, fraud, theft, mugging, drunk driving, or sexual assault--there are measures an individual can take to minimize their risk of being victimized. Not only are people willing to spend money on security measures to protect their valuables, they take no offense when concerned individuals educate them on how to avoid being targeted by criminals, or how to make themselves crime-proof enough that a criminal will choose someone else.

Except rape. A woman who reacts benignly at the suggestion that she not walk alone at night in a certain neighborhood to avoid being mugged will often rail against any suggestion that she enact the exact same cautionary measures in order to avoid being raped. She'll insist that any suggestion that she act in the interests of her own safety when it comes to sex crimes is tantamount to blaming victims and shaming sluts. While she can reconcile the notion that locking your doors does not make a burglar any less a criminal, while she can understand that recommending people protect their property will not encourage society to stop taking burglary seriously or place any blame on victims of burglary if they slip up and forget to turn the deadbolt...when it's rape? Don't anyone even hint that women could take steps to minimize their risks, because that's blaming victims in advance for being raped.

Whaaaa??

So why does this bizarre logical disconnect exist in women? Why do we, as a society, treat rape as a "special crime", one that requires extra-sensitive dialogue, tiptoeing around reality, and an acceptance that the entire onus for preventing rape be placed on rapists, bystanders, popular culture, movies, comedians, and pretty much everyone other than potential rape victims?

The slut-walk, an exercise in pointless bullshit and the dumbest protest ever, tells you everything you need to know. Hordes of mostly young, mostly white, mostly middle class women marched in anger over the slut-shaming, victim-blaming mentality of a Toronto police officer who had the audacity to suggest that women who dress provocatively are at a greater risk of rape. Granted, his wording was tactless and overly blunt, but the knee-jerk reaction to it was telling indeed. The problem feminists seem unable to grasp, however, is that the march itself--as a response to rape-prevention advice--represents one of the deepest hypocrisies of feminism:

The idea that rape is the most horrible, despicable violation anyone can commit against a woman, but that women should never be shamed for being promiscuous.

Think about it. Suspend your emotional center for a moment and read the following with the most logical frame of mind you can muster.

Rape is the unwanted and forcible version of an act women by the millions happily consent to every day under other circumstances. In ~80% of cases rape involves only as much violence as is necessary for a rapist to subdue his victim, and the majority of the time does not result in serious physical injury. Barring the rare severe injury, and the even rarer death, rape's long-term physical consequences (pregnancy and STDs) are largely mitigated by modern medicine.

Yet rape is seen as a greater violation of a woman's bodily autonomy than being severely beaten, which is horrible and a crime no matter who's doing it to you, can lead to life-changing physical consequences like broken bones, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, brain injury, months or years of physical therapy, and, well, serious risk of death.

Why?

Because despite the sexual revolution and despite (and because of) feminism, when it comes to rape women are still living in the 1850s, when Victorian ideals told them that their sexuality was their primary personal asset, and that once it was sullied, most of their value as a human being was gone. Under "patriarchy", a woman's entire virtue lay between her legs, and it went to the first man who stuck his dick there, whether she was willing or not. A women's sexual purity was the responsibility of society, to be protected above life and limb, because a soiled woman was worthless. Therefore rape was the direst of crimes, and women who gave it away willy-nilly were abhorred, shamed and shunned.

Say what you want about patriarchy, at least it was consistent.

But feminism? I don't think they've thought through their views on the sexual revolution and how they simply cannot be reconciled with the way they wish rape to be seen by society and treated under the law.  Because the idea that women who are victims of sex crimes are special, extra-victimy victims and that rape is the worst violation imaginable is rooted in the exact same Victorian morality that slut-shaming is--the idea that a woman's sexual purity is the most important thing she has, and that she becomes valueless once that purity is gone.

Women today may be dipping their toes in the post-sexual-revolution era where a woman's sexuality supposedly has no bearing on her worth as a human being and a woman, where women should be free to explore sex and sexuality however they choose. Yet when it comes to sex without consent, women's other foot is still firmly planted in the fucking 1850s, where a woman's sexual integrity is the MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER, where rape is the most shameful conceivable violation that can be perpetrated on a woman, and where victims must be treated with kid gloves even before they've been victimized.

And feminism doesn't realize its own hypocrisy on this issue or how much that harms women, or that we can't live in the past and the present at the same time--that treating rape as a "special crime more horrible than any other" is the exact same thing as slut-shaming.

Yeah, you heard me. Treating rape differently than you would treat any other form of assault is the same thing as saying women who sleep around are whores who should be ashamed of themselves and deserve to get treated like shit. Because both of these attitudes tell women their sexual purity is the only part of themselves that's worth a goddamn thing to anyone. If feminism wants to eliminate slut-shaming and open the door for women to be truly liberated in their sexual lives, it needs to treat rape like the simple assault it is rather than a violation of the holiest of holies. It needs to stop perpetuating the notion that half an hour of unwanted sex is in any way worse than being the victim of any other kind of assault. It needs to stop reinforcing the shame victims feel by indulging it with its systemic kid-glove handling of the issues, and allow for frank and open discussion with women as a group, while leaving it to counsellors and therapists rather than society as a whole to help victims reconcile their individual trauma.

Because if feminism is going to force all of society to treat women's sexuality as sacrosanct when they've been sexually assaulted, then society is absolutely justified in shaming women who give that sexuality away to just anyone. Do you see how that works? Doesn't anyone else see how pedestalizing rape survivors as the ultimate victims of the most heinous violation ever only reinforces the notion that a woman is merely a sexual object, whose greatest source of self-worth and most important virtue in the eyes of humanity is...well, the state of her sex? That constantly enshrouding every discussion of rape in a suffocating blanket of shame and violation is only telling rape victims they're right in feeling ashamed when they're assaulted, and justifying the assholes of the world who place women's value as sexual objects above every other aspect of their humanity?

If feminism wants women to be able to freely express and explore their sexuality, without shame, in the liberated 2010s, it needs to stop treating women like it's 1850 the moment they've been raped.

29 comments:

  1. Last fall, I traveled to a country which had experienced a severe paroxysm of ethnic violence earlier that year (70+ protesters were shot by snipers outside the presidential palace).

    The UK and American embassies issued travel warnings: be careful where you go, don't advertise you're a foreigner, use cautious, etc.

    Naturally, I was outraged at the victim-blaming that these embassies engaged in. Those protesters DESERVED to be shot?!!111!! OUTRAGE!!!111!

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  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geQyrBGS_60&feature=relmfu

    TheAmazingAtheist's response to this "list".

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  3. I have to say that I appreciate the thought you put into this. But you are still egregiously wrong.

    "Why do we, as a society, treat rape as a "special crime", one that requires extra-sensitive dialogue, tiptoeing around reality, and an acceptance that the entire onus for preventing rape be placed on rapists...(and so on)"

    The reason we treat rape as a special crime is because it is a special crime. Sexual autonomy is an inalienable right. Not just for women, but for men, too. (Men are raped also FYI, just less often than women because fact: men are more often physically stronger) Probably the best things in life have to do with sex: love, children, orgasms. And when someone is violated sexually it casts a shadow over that person's ability to find joy in those things. Can you imagine what life would be like if you lost the ability to enjoy those things?

    When your purse is stolen, or your house is broken into or you're mugged at knifepoint or yes, even when you are beat up, the crime does not cast doubt on your ability to have and enjoy sex, trust sexual partners of your choosing, or affect your desire to reproduce.

    Secondly, when someone is robbed, people don't say "you shouldnt have been wearing that." They say, "damn that sucks." Because everyone makes mistakes. yes, maybe walking home at a certain hour wasn't the best choice, but it's not anyone's fault but the thief's that your wallet is now gone. Same goes for being raped. maybe drinking that much wasn't the best idea, but that doesn't mean it's the victims fault someone took advantage of the situation.

    Lastly, you should know that sexual violence has very little to do with sexual desire. It has to do with getting off on overpowering and hurting someone else. On the night of my rape, I was wearing jeans, a tshirt and a denim jacket. If I had been wearing a miniskirt or a hijab like what muslim women wear, the outcome would've been the same. I can't help that I'm female, that I'm physically smaller, and no amount of covering up would EVER change the fact that my rapist saw an opportunity and took advantage of it. Could I have taken a cab home? Yeah, I could have, but I have every right to walk home alone. I have every right to that MINOR mistake. My rapist is at fault. You cannot argue with that. And even if I had been drunk or out at a bar or had gotten into the car with him or gone on a date with him or married him or if I were a prostitute or whatever, he would still be at fault.

    The violation and the damage that rapists cause has absolutely nothing to do with promiscuity or the very simple physical act, it has to do with the absolute perversion of something that is supposed to be a happy experience: sex.

    Your argument is totally wrong because it assumes something about rape that is not true. You are assuming that rape is no different from sex when you say "If feminism wants to eliminate slut-shaming and open the door for women to be truly liberated in their sexual lives, it needs to treat rape like the simple assault it is rather than a violation of the holiest of holies. It needs to stop perpetuating the notion that half an hour of unwanted sex is in any way worse than being the victim of any other kind of assault."

    Rape is not a "simple violation" it is an incredibly complicated and varied violation. The actual, physical act doesn't even come close to explaining the emotional damage that happens after.

    Sex and Sexiness are good for women. I agree that modern feminism sometimes does get it wrong. I wrote a bit about that on my blog here: http://ameelz.wordpress.com/2011/08/21/why-sexiness-is-good-for-women/

    But not acknowledging that rape is a different kind of crime, and on top of that saying women are even just partly to blame for assault is ABSOLUTELY BACKWARDS. I hope you will reconsider your position.

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  4. Actually, men are raped just as often as women.

    And if rape has nothing to do with sexual desire, why are the majority (~80%) of rape victims between the ages of 16 and 25, when they are least physically vulnerable and most able to fend off an attack? Why do most rapists have a ceiling of violence above which they will not escalate, and why do most only employ as much violence as necessary to complete the act?

    You might want to read something other than Brownmiller. There are plenty of sources that document the biological bases of sexual coercion, and indicate gender parity in rape perpetration and victimization.

    You might want to investigate false allegations a little (Hofstra would be a good one) to understand that false allegations, slut-shaming and rape shame often intersect.

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  5. 1. Honestly, I don't think it's worth arguing about who is more affected by sexual violence, men or women. I don't spend time counting. Any rape is disgusting and every victim is equally deserving of respect, regardless of gender.

    2. I didn't say it had nothing to do with sexual desire. I said it had very little to do with sexual desire. And that it had more to do with getting off on hurting someone else, which I'm sorry but I don't define orgasm after inflicting pain on another, pain they didn't consent to, normal sexual desire. So I should've made myself a little more clear there, I guess.

    3. "least vulnerable and most able to fend off attack?" I'm 23 years old. I weigh 107 pounds and am 5 feet and four inches tall. My attacker outweighed me by at least 100 pounds. Even if he didn't outweigh me, he would have more muscle than I do thanks to biology.

    4. "As much violence as necessary" is still violence. I don't see your point here.

    5. I don't have a clue who Brownmiller is. I only know what I experienced and what other survivors I know have experienced. And just because there is some biological basis for sexual coercion doesn't mean it's something a society should accept. There is a biological basis for cancer, too. For that we have modern medicine, which like our laws and ways of thinking about sexual violence, has made strides but is still not perfect.

    6. I am interested in learning more about how false allegations, slut-shaming and rape shame intersect. I think all three things are incredibly detrimental to survivors.

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  6. I just want to add that I've taken some more time to read more of your site. (I originally came across it on Tumblr, and it was just a link to this post.) I applaud you for exploring how men are hurt by gender roles... I think it's all warranted and definitely, men or advocates for men deserve a voice in any debate on gender, sexual violence, etc.

    That prison rape isn't taken seriously. That boys and men are raped as often as girls and women or AT ALL. That men are more likely to not report rape or molestation and that they experience even more shame if they do report because of different cultural expectations... all of this makes me equally sick. When I say survivors, I mean all survivors.

    I had a hard time relating to other survivors and many people that work in support services. Because even after my rape I REFUSED to be treated like a delicate, wounded flower. I refused terms like "mansplaining" and I refused to blame "patriarchy". Because hating and blaming men on the whole is not the answer. And it doesn't make sense anymore, anyway.

    But still, blaming survivors or even just warning women about wearing slutty clothes or drinking too much or not locking their doors or whatever, is not the answer either. Because what you're wearing does not create the opportunity for a rapist the way leaving your door unlocked creates the opportunity for a burglar. The opportunity is created by the random intersection of a person with power (physical or otherwise) who is willing to use that power against someone who is momentarily or perpetually vulnerable in comparison.

    And that's why survivors get mad. It's easy to rely on terms like "rape culture," and to only think along those lines because if you can blame it on something then you have some sort of power. But I think the real problem is that most people don't even understand what sexual violence is, even survivors sometimes spend their whole lives sorting it out. And that's why I'm commenting because it is clear you don't understand the essence of what happens during or after a rape and how completely off-base this post is. I don't care how much you've read about it or what statistics show. I don't know what your personal experiences are either, but I know that this is not right.

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  7. There is a HUGE difference between saying "It wasn't your fault", which it never is when someone commits a crime against you, and saying, "There was nothing at all you could have done to prevent it."

    The first one is simply the truth. The second is a lie, and it's a disempowering one at that. I'm guessing after your assault, you examined every detail of the events leading up to it, to determine if there were any signs, any warnings, any hint that something like that might happen to you. THAT'S NORMAL. That is a process every victim of any kind of trauma naturally goes through, because your brain will try to force you to learn a lesson so that you can prevent such a thing from happening again. Even if there is no lesson to learn, your brain will try to make you learn one.

    Every survivor goes through that, and part of getting past it is coming to terms with it if there were things you could have done, things you could have foreseen--kind of like the glaring, flashing, bright red signs that were warning me before my assault, and that I completely ignored.

    The realization that if I'd been wiser I could have prevented being victimized is empowering, because it gave me retroactive control over the event. I don't ever have to repeat those mistakes.

    For the victim who is the equivalent of someone struck by lightning on a clear day while sitting in their living room...this is a horrible thing, because there is no lesson to learn, and that's where the feedback loop of self-blame comes from. From examining everything, and the only possible conclusion being that you must have deserved it because you didn't make any mistakes.

    Rape shame, slut shame, and the motivation for many false allegations of rape are all tied to women's attitudes about sex, and society's expectations regarding women and sex.

    (cont)

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  8. There are a few reasons women tend to be more traumatized by heterosexual rape than men. One of them is risk of pregnancy. In fact, prepubescent and postmenopausal women usually suffer less emotional trauma than those who are of childbearing age. They suffer more trauma if they're married or have a boyfriend, and they tend to suffer more emotional trauma if they bear no physical injuries--all of this can be tied to women's risk of pregnancy. And many of those motivators--unexplainable/inconvenient pregnancy, infidelity, not wanting to be seen as a slut--are primary motivators for false rape accusations.

    And men who are raped by women will actually be more likely to convince themselves it was consensual, because men have a perceived hyper-agency--the self-concept that they are in control of whatever happens to them, in charge of their destinies, and therefore anything that does happen to them was their own doing.

    People, men and women, have some serious hang-ups about sex and sexual agency. And a great deal of those hang-ups are responsible for us treating rape as a sin worse than incinerating babies than as the serious but essentially earthly and mundane crime it is.

    Rape will probably always be with us. One feminist who did a study of a matriarchal society that existed in isolation claimed that it was a society without rape, while describing quaint pair-bonding practices that sounded an awful lot like rape (young suitors carrying women off into the woods while their male relatives were elsewhere). It's been an effective reproductive strategy for enough men for the traits necessary to commit it to be present in a small percentage of men (and it has likewise been an effective strategy for women, as evidenced by the fact that about 25% of women surveyed in one study confessed to raping, or attempting to rape a man).

    Women hold the key to eradicating male rape. 80% of male rapists who exclusively target women were sexually abused by a woman during their childhood or adolescence. And no, this does NOT mean that all children sexually abused by women are destined to become rapists, just that they are more likely to continue the cycle if they do not receive adequate treatment and counselling (something few receive currently, since 86% of kids molested by women are not believed the first time they tell). And what genetic traits are necessary in order for a man to be aroused by hurting and forcing a woman...those can be eradicated within a few generations now that we have long term birth control and abortion to prevent or terminate pregnancies.

    Heterosexual rape of men? That's a tougher one, simply because we haven't even gotten to the point where we'll acknowledge it exists, let alone study it, determine its causes and try to find solutions.

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  9. Thanks. Honestly, as much as a I still disagree with you. All of this is extremely interesting and helpful to me.

    I agree that we should be talking about risk factors, but we should make sure what we're saying is a risk factor is actually a risk factor. Everything that happened to me that night was a perfect storm of every risk factor ever. I was living in a less than reputable neighborhood by myself, walking home by myself, and my landlord royally screwed up by leaving the door to my building broken and unlockable. I wasn't paying attention, it was late, I had my headphones on and I'm a young female of small stature. Yes, there are obvious things I could've done differently. I could've taken a cab home, and I could have been paying more attention. I could have called and complained about the lock. (although I was pretty certain everyone else in my building had called about it already)

    But those are all coulda, woulda, shoulda scenarios. It just so happened that that night, instead of passing completely well-adjusted and normal men, I passed a rapist. He saw an opportunity and he took it. I take more precautions now, of course, but in reality, there was no way of knowing what was going to be different about that night than any other night. I had walked home alone a million times before, and nothing happened. I still walk home alone now.

    And my outfit had NOTHING to do with my rape. Because I would still be a noticeably small female, no matter how much drunker or how much more tantalizing an outfit I was wearing.

    Yeah, I guess it's a lesson. The world is not a safe place, and that's something we all have to accept. But that doesn't change the fact that realistically there IS NOTHING I COULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY besides knowing the future. I'm not going to live in fear now, constantly looking over my shoulder or watching what I'm wearing because that maybe would have changed what happened that night. It wouldn't have. Every time I look over my shoulder now or get spooked by something behind me, I don't feel empowered. I feel afraid and then I feel angry that my rapist is the reason I'm afraid.

    Self-blame doesn't come from not having a lesson to learn. Self-blame comes from feeling like you did something wrong, like you made a misstep. It took the social worker hours to get me to call someone from the ER. I was so afraid that anyone I could call that night would think "well, we told you not to live in that neighborhood." After my assault, I looked at the crime statistics for my area. My neighborhood for all its ill-repute had the same or fewer reported assaults than any other area in New York City (where I am).

    contd..

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  10. Also, the stuff you said about pregnancy. You are so right. Thank God for emergency contraception, and retrovirals. The other part that sucks is the risk of HIV. But the reason all this sucks is because someone takes away all control you had over your body, puts your health at risk and could potentially get you pregnant. I don't know much about false allegations other than I can't imagine why anyone would make a false allegation. All the reasons you give make sense, but really I don't see what that has to do with anything. Because yeah maybe society's fucked up relationship with sex is the reason for false allegations, but it doesn't change the fact that telling women their outfits make a difference in whether they're raped or not is still wrong. Both are equally detrimental to survivors and anyone who may one day become a survivor, ie everyone.

    Rape in all it's forms probably will always be with us. There will always be people who will abuse power. Coming to terms with that has been the hardest part of my recovery. For a long time I felt like living in a world where this happens to anyone is simply not worth it. Certainly the cycle of abuse has a lot to do with why it happens and continues to happen. I don't know anything about my rapist, and if someone told me he was abused by his mother and that's why he did what he did, I would accept it. It would make sense. But it wouldn't change the fact that he CHOSE to continue the cycle by involving me. I personally think that we need to look at sexual violence as a public health problem as well as a social problem. When we remove the stigma, when people can talk openly about their abuse and get help, then maybe it will stop. I don't know.

    But acknowledging that rape is a horrible, horrible crime and being sensitive to it is NOT the problem. And spreading myths like what you wear will somehow deter rapists is at the very least PART of the problem.

    If anything, this conversations shows that everyone comes to terms with their assault differently. The circumstances of every assault are different. And we should continue to be very careful about how we say things and what we say.

    Good luck to you.

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  11. I think it's more the hypersensitivity to bad advice when it has to do with rape that throws me off, and makes me feel like we have a lot more work to do being able to speak honestly about these issues.

    Let me put it this way. It was one cop. He gave useless advice that he came out and said he was not supposed to give (in other words, this was not a problem of police policy, but one guy's opinion). If he'd said, "In order to avoid being taken in by a phishing scam, you should install at least two firewalls on your computer, and have good anti-virus", people would have just called him an unknowledgeable idiot and laughed at him. Because it was rape, well, we got a worldwide movement of angry marching. This is simply over the top, and really, it's not taking the issue seriously. It's turning it into a politicized circus.

    There is room to acknowledge that rape is a horrible crime, without loading the rhetoric or restricting dialog that addresses issues related to it.

    As for false accusations, the most widely accepted study (at least that feminists will accept), determines that about 6% of reports are provably false (and attrition rates determine that about 6% are provably true). One military study estimated that up to 60% of reports in the military are false, and a community study estimated that about 40% of reports in the general population are false.

    False accusations are a huge problem, both for men falsely accused, and for genuine rape victims, but NO ONE wants to even admit they happen, let alone have a public discourse about it. Part of THAT is the way rape as an issue has been politicized and the rhetoric loaded with highly emotional language.

    And frankly, on advice for women to protect themselves, there's really no advice, no matter how effective, that will be accepted as anything other than victim-blaming these days. There are things women can do without living in fear or seriously curtailing their activities, that can minimize their risk (though no, it can never be eliminated). Personally, if there are things I can do within reason to minimize my risk of being the victim of ANY crime, I'm gonna do them. But even saying, "Watch your alcohol intake at parties" is construed as blaming victims, which is just silly.

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  12. GWW,
    treating rape as a "special crime more horrible than any other" is the exact same thing as slut-shaming.
    I think this is a great piece, and no man could dare to say what you are saying. I cant speak about the emotional trauma that rape leaves women with, but since you have studied it, any idea how men have responded to being raped? emotional response is of course bound to how steely the person is, and the disposable male having been pummelled all his life would have significantly less trauma I suspect.
    But the physical trauma definetely seems less. As someone who's been injured in accidents and broken bones, torn multiple ligaments that have taken years to semi-heal (it never gets back to original shape or strength..I am just thankful that it at least semi-heals), I am very worried about injuries. Physical "bigness" is a double-edged sword, especially in the modern age of desk-jobs. The bigger you are, the harder you fall.

    But coming back to your post, I think its a great point that gravity of slut-shaming and rape-stigma go together. Its a point that stares you in the face, but you never notice it. This reminds me of a point about morality that Steven Pinker makes

    Which of the following people would you say is the most admirable: Mother Teresa, Bill Gates or Norman Borlaug? And which do you think is the least admirable? For most people, it’s an easy question. Mother Teresa, famous for ministering to the poor in Calcutta, has been beatified by the Vatican, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and ranked in an American poll as the most admired person of the 20th century. Bill Gates, infamous for giving us the Microsoft dancing paper clip and the blue screen of death, has been decapitated in effigy in “I Hate Gates” Web sites and hit with a pie in the face. As for Norman Borlaug . . . who the heck is Norman Borlaug?
    ...
    I doubt these examples will persuade anyone to favor Bill Gates over Mother Teresa for sainthood. But they show that our heads can be turned by an aura of sanctity, distracting us from a more objective reckoning of the actions that make people suffer or flourish. It seems we may all be vulnerable to moral illusions the ethical equivalent of the bending lines that trick the eye on cereal boxes and in psychology textbooks

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  13. How do men respond to being raped?

    Well, let me start with the agent/actor-object/acted-upon dichotomy.

    Have you ever seen a woman hitting a man, and heard people wonder out loud what he did to deserve that? I think the most egregious example of this occurred on The Talk, when there was all kinds of, well, talk about what Catherine Becker's husband had done to "make" her cut his penis off.

    That falls into the agent/object dichotomy, which derives, IMO, from the necessary gender roles through history and human pre-history. A man went out and acted upon the world. He hunted and fished and raided the enemy settlements. A woman stayed home, where she was safe, because she was individually valuable to EVERYONE in her community, since she could bear children.

    The man is the agent--going out and acting upon the world. The woman is the object-- staying safe close to home, and being defended (out of communal necessity) by men.

    AND in addition to that, you have the objective/subjective forms of caring. I had someone comment to me in a PM that it seems like we're *supposed* to care about women's problems, and we (especially women) are not supposed to care about men's problems.

    My response was that of course it was like that. Picture a man and a woman in a cave. They have a small child, the woman is heavily pregnant, and the man has an injured leg. It's time to go out and hunt. The man must care about her wellbeing more than his own if he is to go out and hunt. If he doesn't go out and hunt, she, her unborn, and their toddler may die. If he cares about himself more than about her, he'll stay home and nurse his leg, and they all starve. If she cares about him more than she cares about herself and her offspring, she'll TELL him to stay home and nurse his leg, and they may all starve.

    Whether you believe in evolutionary psychology or socialization or a little of both, the dynamic is the same. He cares more about her than about himself, and she cares more about herself and her children more than about him.

    (cont)

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  14. THEN you have to factor in the huge biological risk wrt unwanted sex that women bear, that men do not (in evolutionary terms, without modern constructs such as child support and DNA tests). He expends a few million sperm that constantly regenerate, and can theoretically have another shot the moment he can spring another boner. She may be wasting one of her finite, timed shots on a baby that is, essentially, not up to snuff. She risks her life, and she will then be tied to that child (and arguably unable to find another partner because of that) for up to four years--the length of time many primative cultures breastfeed, and when female fertility is decreased. He can walk away. She can't.

    So. Women will have a more negative response to unwanted sex than men do. They just will. Even if the sex was consensual and she "changed her mind" ("I would never have had sex with him if I'd known..." or "if I wasn't drunk" or whatever). You take that negative response due to the higher risk/investment in offspring, and you combine it with the "object" role we all tend to assign to women, and you will find many women who had technically consensual sex convincing themselves they were raped. They were "acted upon" in a way they did not, ultimately, approve of, and will seek an external agent--a rapist.

    And men? They're more likely to go the exact opposite. Men are actors. Men do, they are not done. Men have zero practical, real-world investment (prior to the modern age) or risk in any offspring resulting from a rape. This combination of low risk/investment and the sense of hyper-agency men have, they will more often convince themselves that the sex was consensual. I act, I am not acted upon. I do, I am not done. And it doesn't really matter anyway, because it's like a seed cast into the wind that I won't even have to bother watering.

    Now whether I believe this is a result of gendered programming (evo-psych) or of socialization is immaterial. The male agent/female object dichotomy exists, regardless of why it's there, and the relative risks and investment (biologically) are obvious.

    So yeah. I think women will be more prone to believe they were raped when they technically were not, and men will be more prone to believe they were not raped when they technically were.

    And the really horrible thing is, most of the risk for women is gone--she can abort or abandon or adopt out, and no one is going to treat her like a pariah because of it--while men, who used to face no risk now face paying child support for 18-21 years even if they were legally raped. The consequences have been flipped on their heads in the practical sense, but we still FEEL the way we always have about it.

    And as far as caring about victims? Well, we're supposed to care about women, and not about men, so there you go...

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  15. fuck you and everyone that agrees with you

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  16. Well, I think you're spot on, but really, your analogy with car immobilisers etc. makes it obvious that you're shying away from offering really valuable advice - "don't dress like a slut", I mean, what is that supposed to mean? Be more positive about it - clearly the ONLY sensible attire to avoid the risk of rape is to be totally covered. Some Muslim countries have been keeping their women safe like this for centuries, it's well-known that no-one ever got raped wearing a burqua. And carrying a rape alarm is of course a complete no-brainer. And, while I wouldn't go so far as to suggest that skinny attractive girls could lard up a bit or get some facial tattoos to avoid excessive sexual attractiveness, they could at least wear chastity belts, perhaps leaving the key with their husband or father, it's only sensible. Given the developments you cite in expensive car lock technology, and the huge risk of rape caused by modern dress codes - or should I say "undress" codes - I simpy can't believe that no-one is offering unobtrusive high-security chastity belts which would prevent all the problems and consequences people have described above. I guess women just aren't smart enough to work that out, or they secretly want to be raped, or something?

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  17. I really admire the bravery, the forthrightness, and the thoughtfulness of ameelz's commentary. My only "disagreement" with her (and I'm not even sure it's that, exactly) is, I think Girlwriteswhat's point isn't that you can do anything at all to make yourself 100% safe from anything. Like, with all those other crimes she mentions, none of them are guaranteed to mean you'll never get robbed or find yourself in the middle of a holdup or whatever. They're prudent precautions is all they are.

    So when I look at what happened to ameelz, I would say it's very obvious that she really couldn't have done much different at all, except maybe never walk home alone at night, which, frankly, isn't very practical for a lot of people. On the other hand, it might help toward more mutual understanding if ameelz would just say "Well, a girl who goes to a party full of young guys who are drinking heavily and dresses up real slutty really might not be making the smartest choice in the world" you guys might actually find you are in agreement on that one.

    As a "survivor" of multiple incidents of sexual (and non-sexual) abuse myself, and other types of physical and mental abuse, what I can say about it is this:

    I don't know if you can really measure what the difference is between being penetrated in some way, and just plain having someone come out of the blue, tackle you to the ground, and beat the shit out of you. Which has happened to me. Philosophical question: can either ameelz, or I, or anyone else, say with certitude that this is quantifiably better or worse than being penetrated unwillingly? Is there any way we can gauge that?

    I am merely posing the question. I do not propose to know the answer.

    I will speculate on one thing here though: I do think that rape of females will probably on average seem worse than simply being beaten up, most of the time, if it's of the variety that ameelz so horrifically experienced (and not of the "I was really drunk and making out with this guy and then he stuck his finger in me before I was ready" variety that some people have dumbed-down the definition of "rape" to mean).

    And I don't think that's entirely holding onto the Victorian attitudes about it. Biologically, genetically, I think it's probably more wounding--I'm just not sure we should be treating it quite so much worse as we do now. In fact, treating it as indescribably worse than anything else you could do to someone may even make it worse in some ways. No, it really -isn't- the worse thing that could happen to you. It's a *really really bad* thing but there's worse.

    I mean, if you really believed it was the *worst* thing that could ever happen to you, shouldn't you keep cyanide pills handy so that you can suicide before a rapist finishes? Shouldn't we be revising sentencing guidelines so that rapists who kill their victims first get lesser sentences than those that leave them alive?

    Yes those are rather rude questions, but they're designed to make a point: there is a level at which if you continue to treat this as the worst imaginable thing that could ever happen, you in some ways are exacerbating the recovery process of the victim almost as much as if you are casually dismissive of it. Or so I would think.

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  18. To expand a little (am I "mansplaining?") on my point about the difference between "prudent precaution" and "still not being 100% safe":

    I used to repossess cars for a living. Where I live, this is essentially legalized car theft, because we use most of the same tools as car thieves. And I can tell you for a fact, there is no device you can get--no ignition system, no wheel lock, no alarm system, no special key, no anything--you can possibly put on your car to make it impossible for me to take it.

    Only harder. Never impossible.

    That doesn't mean I advise you to leave your keys in the ignition or leave your doors unlocked (although if you really want to get into it, I don't lock my car doors because I've had the experience of having my car window smashed so a thief could take stuff, which made me realize that if I'd just left it unlocked I would have lost my stuff but would not have had to pay for a new window, so my real precaution is, don't leave any shit in my car that will really upset me to lose).

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  19. To the author.

    So how do feel about men and children who are raped? Is it "no big deal" to you also?

    How strange that you think that feminists wanted rape of women to be seen as *special*. Considering that before the mid 20th century it was hardly seen as a crime. What they wanted was for rape of a woman to actually be seen as a crime against a HUMAN. Perhaps you don't see women as fully human?

    I'm gonna say what needs to be said to the author.

    YOU HAVE ISSUES.

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  20. I think this blog does a good job of victim shaming. Being respectful of your fellow human's experience and feelings are as important as your opinion, another author's opinion, a 'study' or anyone else 'trying to get a point across'. I wouldn't be surprised if you've offended and hurt many survivors/thrivers who've read your blog. I, for one, am.

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  21. So very in agreement with you, particularly about the pervasive view that rape is the worst thing that can happen to you. To be fair, I can't speak from experience, but if the game show of life gave me a choice between being raped or starring in the real-life version of Saw X, I'd choose the former. I get that it might ruin sex for me for a bit while I recovered, but wouldn't "regular" assault ruin...well, everything all the time? Wouldn't you be afraid of every person you passed, regardless of sex/gender or context? Wouldn't you experience constant fear rather than a particularized fear? And is the fear after the fact even the point? As you say, what about consequences like physical injury? Of course I still think rape should be a capital offense, but that just makes it on equally footing with other forms of sustained physical attack, not somehow extra special.

    As always, thanks for the post!

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  22. I am a guy and you had me up until you equated rape with common assault. When I was 16, I was at a party & I got into a slight disagreement with a guy at the party I knew. The house was on a beach & after I went out and walked along the beach. The guy who I had the disagreement with was much more upset, and he and three of his buddies beat the crap out of me. After, I was in pretty bad shape. I went home pretty pissed and I held a grudge for a few months & then I forgot about it. It doesn't haunt me, upset me, or plague me. Rape is completely differently. I have dated a few girls who were raped, and it haunts them. Some of them are permanently psychologically damaged. All of them had sexual issues because of it. All of them had to go to therapy.

    Now, I completely agree with you that the slut walk was ridiculous. I completely agree that advising girls how to avoid being raped is smart, and that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I think the first half of what you have written makes perfect sense, but when you equated rape with common assault, you lost any legitimacy you may have held. At first I was going to post this blog on FB, but then when I read the rest of it, I realized I couldn't in good faith.

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  23. Boy you need help...

    Here, watch this: http://vimeo.com/64941331

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  24. Yeah you're part of the problem. If men can't control themselves around women who are "dressed like sluts" by your logic we should preemptively lock up all men from the age of 13 onward, because that would be much more likely to prevent rape than just "not dressing like a ho." Victim blaming and slut shaming is ridiculous. Get a grip on reality, raping a woman is absolutely incomparable to stealing a car, and the fact that you would even consider putting the two in the same category proves that you are a misogynistic idiot who's opinion has no validity.

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    1. katherine, as to your point, if men can't control themselves....... If you can for one second suspend your belief that rape is about power ( I am presuming that is your belief ) and look at it as sexual gratification, than not dressing provocatively absolutely decreases your risk of being raped. As a guy I am more likely to give sexual attention to a women who is dressed like this, thus it would lead me to believe that male rapists who rape women would also be more likely to target a women who is dressed provocatively. Again, as everyone else who points this out keeps saying I do not believe that she deserves to be raped. See how these are two different things, if this information adds to the internal feelings of guilt or shame felt by a victim of rape, well sorry, but that in no way detracts from the fact that a: It's right and b: Someone who says so, is in no way blaming the victim. Also, the internalization of guilt/shame from someone ( in this case the rapist, male or female) else's behavior is NOT LIMITED TO SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN RAPED. Yes, asking a rape victim what she was wearing after the fact is insensitive and would in a lot of cases be construed by the victim as a blaming her, hence another reason why someone who as experienced trauma OF ANY KIND should be talking to a therapist, a trained, specialized therapist. Also, the real tone of the article on my reading anyway, asked the question why is rape different to other serious violent assaults. Do you not think that getting badly physically assaulted can cause some people massive emotional trauma leading to long term mental illness. Many feminists ( I can't recall them off the top of my head, I think maybe G. Greer is one) have challenged the assumption that rape is different, or should be treated differently to other violent crimes. I know through my own experience with childhood sexual abuse and other experiences in my life regarding mental health that victimhood is very alluring and can become counter productive to healing and improvement in quality of life. Oh, your comment about locking up men is so ridiculous and hateful that it doesn't warrant a serious rebuttal. stealing a car, lol.

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  25. It's true that there are steps a woman can take to decrease the chance she is raped.

    But I can't believe you are actually trivializing rape when it does happen. Rape is a serious offense to the victim, be it a woman or a man. It's a humiliation, an invasion. A person's body, especially the most intimate parts, are sacred and personal on an unconscious level, and to violate that sanctity is to commit a crime that is worse than murder.

    This is also the reason why sexual promiscuity is shameful (not to mention the diseases and fatherless children it can result in). Sex without marriage is generally a bad idea, whether consensual or not.

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    1. How dare you say I would be better off dead. Because I've been the victim of a crime that, in your mind, is worse than murder.

      While I can agree in part with your second paragraph, I absolutely abhor the first. Again, by saying I've been the victim of a crime worse than murder, you're saying I'd be better off dead.

      Not everyone measures their worth as a human being based on what has happened to their genitals.

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  26. I think the real problem with telling someone to change the way they dress with respect to rape is that one doesn't do that for any other crime. Are businessmen told to not wear suits because they are more likely to be mugged? I agree that other advice wrt rape is also poorly received for no good reason (i.e. don't drink too much with strangers, bring a trusted friend to a frat party who will be more sober than you, try to avoid walking home alone). Being angry about this advice is stupid. However the outrage about being told to dress differently is, in my opinion, justified. Counters?

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    1. Um...people are told this all the time. Just myself personally, here are things I've been advised to wear or not wear in order to prevent a crime other than rape from happening to me:
      -Do not wear white headphones that show you have an Apple product on your person.
      -Do not wear any headphones as they indicate you are vulnerable (not paying attention) and carrying electronics.
      -Do not go into X area because of your skin color.
      -Do not carry your phone visibly or talk on it when in public.
      -Do not wear impractical shoes that would make it hard for you to run from a mugger.
      -Do not wear expensive clothing, particularly business attire, when in X area.
      -Do not wear visible jewelry when in X area.
      -Do not wear clothing that restricts your movements (making it harder to run away.)

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Commenting policy:

All comments are welcome here. I refuse to censor points of view that differ from my own.

I recognize that I may be challenging the deep-seated beliefs of some people, and perhaps stirring up emotions in others. However, I would ask:

- if you care to respond to anything that I have said, please do not simply link to or quote some statistic. Do not simply regurgitate things you have been told are true. Think about what I am saying. Respond with an argument. Offer something from your personal observations, and explain to me how you feel your statistic is connected to your experience.

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Have at you!