Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Yes, It Is and Yes, You Can

Ten days ago, zuzu at Feministe wrote about Jennifer Moore, an 18-year-old woman raped and murdered in a New Jersey hotel room after a night of partying in New York City. Never mind the topic of that actual post, which wonders whether the New York Post didn't whiten up Jennifer's photo to play up the contrast in color between her and her suspected killer, Draymond Coleman.

No, I'm after the comments, which were of the usual sort, the depressing sort: What did this dumb bitch do to get herself all raped and strangled like that? Gems included:

It’s tragic what happened, but Jennifer made a number of really stupid decisions that are not terribly sympathetic (to me, at least). Driving into manhattan to get tanked (while underage no less), then not calling parents or authorities for help when she and her friend got stranded was profoundly bad judgment.

I shudder when I see these girls all over new york getting blackout drunk…don’t they know that they are putting themselves in horrible danger? Beyond alcohol poisoning, they’re basically hanging a “fuck with me” sign on their backs.

Oh, are they? Or are they really hanging a "rape me, brutalize me so badly that chunks of my hair get ripped from my scalp, beat me, strangle me, and toss me in the dumpster afterwards" sign on their backs? Because that's what happened:

Chunks of her long, brown hair had been ripped out of her head and her body horribly bruised.

That'll learn her to load up on booze! Or it would, I mean, if she weren't DEAD.

Why, exactly, are you angry that a woman got drunk, and not that a man abducted, raped, and murdered her? Looks to me like your priorities are out of whack.

Oh, wait--that comment actually makes sense. But fear not: There's plenty more victim-blaming to be had in this thread.

I have seen really violent crime cases and i even though I despised the criminals I sometimes couldn’t help but think “that the fuck was that guy doing walking around such an incredibly bad section of (unnamed city) at 2AM, in those clothes, talking on a $300 cell phone, wearing a Rolex? He should of known better. What an idiot.” And then proceed to try to convict and jail his assaulter. It has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with someone acting in a way that WE wouldn’t act, I think.

Except that we only sometimes do that with assault and robbery, but we always, always, always do it with rape.

Now no-one except the exceptionally stupid would try to pin the blame on women who get raped, but when someone gets attacked when engaging in risky behaviours, and someone says ‘boy that’s some risky behaviours they shouldn’t have been doing’ that’s not neccesarily them trying to blame the victim. They could well just be talking about why you should be careful.

Yes, because there's a real lack of "be careful!" admonitions to women. We don't see ourselves raped, beaten, and dead on television enough. We don't hear self-defense organizations promote their work often enough. We don't hear it from concerned family and friends enough. We just don't hear enough HOW HIGHLY RAPEABLE WE ARE. Or even if we do, it wouldn't hurt to tell us just one more time because we, women, are a very flighty sex, objectively dumber than men, and warnings about rape don't always stick in our minds the way they should. Because we're defective that way, but hey, it's part of our charm.

Why focus on men? It’s not like women can’t be sociopaths.

I hate this one so much because the answer is so eye-bleedingly obvious: Because we are talking about rape, a crime disproportionately committed by men, against women.

And so on and so on and so on went the thread, prompting zuzu to post this follow-up:

For once, just for once, I wanted to try to have a discussion about a woman getting raped and murdered that DIDN’T devolve into an extended rehash of the same goddamn argument we always seem to have whenever a rape and/or murder of a woman is discussed: Namely, we start out on topic, then someone has to come in and blame the victim (she was drunk! doesn’t she know there were consequences! she was dressed like a hoochie! she was a stripper! she must be lying! what was she doing alone at night? what was she doing trusting a man?) and we’re off to the races.

I will give you a quick quiz to test your psychic abilities now! Guess what happened in the comments to that post:

(a) Folks showed up and blamed the victim some more.
(b) Folks showed up and said "You're right, but can't we at least talk about what women could do differently?" as though no one had been doing that in the previous thread.
(c) Both (a) and (b).
(d) Everyone chorused in agreement with zuzu and there was a great big group hug amidst a background of RAINBOWS. And then zuzu gave us each a puppy!

I'll give you a hint: The answer isn't (d).

The most productive comment in the discussion came from the post's author, zuzu, and I was very tempted to bold the entire thing:

Look, you’re attempting to shift the responsibility for stopping rape onto women by saying that they need to take more social responsibility. That right there is letting the rapist disappear.

You pretend that there’s nothing to talk about re rapists other than “boy, aren’t they bastards” and trivialize the issue by stating that there’s nothing more to say than that, and time for more cat pictures. Somehow, a post can generate 120 comments debating what a raped and murdered woman did wrong to bring this on herself without mentioning the guy who did it much, and you think that a productive discussion about the culpability of rapists themselves isn’t possible.

Then when you do mention men in relation to stopping rape, you keep yourself very distant from the issue: you first pretend that it’s a problem of “Redneck Johnny-with-a-badge” and anti-feminist men, and you shrug your shoulders because, gosh, you don’t have any ideas what you can do. And when someone gives you one, you shrug that off, too.

All of which brings me to this story, via Creek Running North, from the Washington Post: "Army Details Rape-Slaying of Iraqi Girl," and this excerpt from it particularly:

Also Monday, another soldier, Pfc. Justin Watt, testified that Howard told him before the incident that Green, Cortez and Barker had planned to rape a girl, and Howard was to be the lookout.

"There's nothing I've read that says what to do if your buddies have raped and murdered a family," Watt said.

Let that sink in. In fact, let's have it one more time:

"There's nothing I've read that says what to do if your buddies have raped and murdered a family," Watt said.

This man needed. Something in writing. To tell him what to do. If his "buddies"--and don't that send a chill down your spine right there? His buddies--have RAPED AND MURDERED. A family.

Um, report it? Immediately?

I am tired, dead tired, of men standing around with that "who farted?" look on their faces whenever the subject of rape comes up. It wasn't me! It was some other guy. Some crazy guy. Some guy I've never met. Some guy I don't know. Well, okay, I knew him; he was my buddy. But, gosh, what's a guy to do? If I'd-a done anything--and honest, I didn't know what to do, because I couldn't find anything in writing to tell me--but if I had, well, tried to prevent it, which of course I couldn't beings as I didn't know what to do, there being nothing in writing and all, but like if I'd said anything, why, they'd have called me a sissy, and they probably wouldn't be my buddies no more. And that's far worse than any old 14-year-old Iraqi girl being gang-raped and her entire family murdered.

Rape is a crime committed disproportionately by men against women.

Men can do more to stop it.

Yes, it is your problem. And yes, you can do something.

Yes, it is. Yes, you can.


John said...

This is the best essay on this topic I have seen so far:


And if Rob the Bouncer can do this:


and still be leery of NYC at night, it behooves us all to. But damn it, I am going to teach my daughter to make wiser choices than Ms. Moore. And how to handle a gun.

Malibu Stacy said...

Hell of a job putting that together so well. Unfortunately, it appears that we may have to start paying people to get a clue about what it means when we say, "Men can stop rape." Hint: it's not a plea for more cautionary tales about the dangers of being a woman in the Big, Bad City.

Lesley said...

Ah crap. Ilyka writes an amazing essay about not blaming the victim, and the first comment lauds an essay which suggests that Jennifer Moore made a stupid choice. And yet again, Draymond Coleman doesn't get mentioned.

I want to scream.

BTW, as a native New Yorker myself, anyone who thinks NYC is just crime-ridden can effing bite me. It just isn't. As big cities go, it's one of the safest. Actually, I think it is THE safest. Hell, New York City alone has a lower murder rate than the entire state of Mississippi. And a much lower rate of (reported) forcible rape. Where are all the cautionary tales about not walking alone at night in Mississippi?

John said...

I didn't catch that Rob's article was about the dangers of being a woman in the big, bad city, it was about the danger of being a human in the zoo that is early morning NYC streetlife. If this had happened in Central Park at high noon - then yes, I'd be behind you all the way - someone, some man, should have seen something and stepped in. But I watch my back in NYC. I hold a black belt, and I like to kid myself that I tougher than your average Joe.

I do not know any rapists that I'm aware of. Just how am I about to put a stop to this kind of thing? I teach my daughter how to take care of herself, how not to be a mark or a victim.
If I happened to see this going on, I'd make a run at the assaulter. But I do not hang around on NYC streets at 4 AM for fear of me becoming a victim. The types of men out on the street at 4AM in NYC are, in general, not the types who are ever going to get the "men can prevent rape" message. The are much more likely to be perps.

I'll answer that rhetorical question from the previous paragraph: I am for making rape a capital crime. That pretty much covers how serious I am about this, because I don't ever want it happening to my daughter, wife, mother. And the state had better kill anyone who hurts one of my own. My sense of justice does not allow for such a human to breathe the same oxygen as I do.

But "Men can stop rape" is, in general, a useless statement when related to the Moore case. The kind of men who find out that people they know are rapists, and do not pound the crap out of them, are not ever going to join your crusade. And those kind of people are pretty much the entire social circle of most of the animals amongst us.

Short of rounding up all the scum of NYC and making a hash of the Constitution, the tools we have to discourage this basically boil down to making the consequences of the crime so frightening that only the extremely mentally ill perpetrate it. And that leads me to the other reason why "men can stop rape" is a silly statement here: the mental state of the attacker. That does not excuse him from the death penalty in my book, though (and I'm not talking about this murder -like I said, rape should be a capital crime).

John said...

Lesley - did you even read the post? To quote you:

"And yet again, Draymond Coleman doesn't get mentioned."

To quote the post:

When you're young, and from the suburbs, and don't know where to legally park or how to get back to the PATH or the LIRR, you're exposing yourself to 4 am New York -- the Manhattan of Darryl Littlejohn, Steven Sakai and Draymond Coleman. The New York I remember.

Note the reference to multiple bad guys.

I don't see one reference in there to Moore being female. Young and stupid, yes. Female, no. If I were hanging around drunk in the Meatpacking District at 4AM and got whacked for my wallet, would anyone say anything except "tragic, but what a dumbass"?

This is not about NYC being "crime ridden" - it's about acknowledging that some pretty violent crime still exists, and it is especially prevalent at particular times and places. I'm a regular visitor to NYC - do you go to the Meatpacking District or Chinatown late at night? I see some serious shit going on in Chinatown during the day.

The cautionary tale is about walking alone at night anywhere where there are lots of bars, drunk people, and the kind of people who prey on drunk people. NYC, Mississippi, doesn't matter. And I guarrantee you that most of the crime in Mississippi happens in specific times and places, too.

Malibu Stacy said...

I think this may be a job for Oliver Sacks, as I'm at a loss to understand what kind of agnosia could be responsible for this:

"It's important that we talk about X; we already understand about Y, it's been talked to death, so please don't bring it up in this context."

"Okay, that's great, but here's something else about Y that you really need to consider."

There's never a trap door around when you need one.

ilyka said...

All right, let's all get off Jennifer's poor dead ass a minute. To be fair, John at least asked the question:

I do not know any rapists that I'm aware of. Just how am I about to put a stop to this kind of thing?

Which puts him ahead of your average male Feministe commenter right there.

Now: Answers?

Kyle said...

Back when there were a number of folks blaming the Katrina victims, I found a pretty good post (whose source has sadly departed my memory) that talked about one possible motivation for that. In a nutshell, there are people who believe that the world is just, and belief in a just world implies that terrible things are deserved.

Tie that in with our old friend cognitive dissonance. Faced with a young girl who's been raped and murdered, a believer in a just world has a couple of options: (1) explain how she deserved it, or (2) admit the world is not just.

If the world is not just, then that further implies some scary things for people who would otherwise think that their not deserving rape and murder is reason enough for it not to happen.

Scared people do and say the darnedest things.

Sigivald said...

I shudder when I see these girls all over new york getting blackout drunk…don’t they know that they are putting themselves in horrible danger? Beyond alcohol poisoning, they’re basically hanging a “fuck with me” sign on their backs.

Well, if we include the caveat that the "fuck with me" sign is only, in effect, readable by the sort of person who'd rape someone, what's untrue about that? And if all of it's true, what's wrong with it?

My suspicion as to why the commentors don't talk about the rapist is that there's nothing to say; he's a raping, murdering bastard. We know that. We know he's guilty of heinous crimes (ones that I support execution for, in fact). What's to say?

Men can stop rape, yes, by not raping anyone. But the men who'd rape someone aren't going to listen, are they? It's not like they haven't already been told that rape is wrong, and illegal, and bad. They know what'll happen if they get caught, which is why they use disguises or threats or murder.

I lock my doors to make burglarly less likely. I watch my surroundings to help prevent robbery, mugging, murder, assault. Is it wrong to say people shouldn't get dead drunk because that makes them an easy victim for a predator?

There's nothing about the drunk girl (whether robbed, raped, or murdered) deserving that because she was drunk, any more than I'd deserve to be robbed if I didn't lock my door, or deserve to get attacked for not watching my surroundings in a dangerous place. Nobody* deserves such a thing happening to them, after all.

(* Excepting, you know, Hitler and the like. Rapists, murderers. I suppose they might deserve such a thing. But that's completely irrelevant here.)

It is not blaming the victim to point out to people who are not yet victims how they can help prevent their own future victimisation.

John said...

I want to solve the problem. Ilyka's post indicated she thinks there are things that can be done to solve the problem. If the topic you are bringing up is not germane to the problem, then yes, shelve it, for now. Not to say that your pet issue isn't a problem. Note I didn't say that it was or wasn't - I don't have the data to say one way or the other. But you are going on and on about X, when X is only a tiny portion of the problem here, and Y is much more germane. The problem here - that a drunk girl was killed after wandering in a crime-prone neighborhood, involves segments of society that your average Joe does not interact with. I see upping the penalties for violence as part of the solution. What else? 'Cause I'm not making friends with Guidos and the other assorted riff-raff of the NYC early morning in order to tell them things that they won't listen to anyway.

Sigivald said...

And about the last few paragraphs, and John's post.

I don't know anyone who, to my knowledge, has raped anyone.

If I did, the least I'd do (assuming I didn't have evidence that would get the evil bastard thrown in jail) is publicly shun him. No worries about being called a "sissy" - men are not all caricature frat boys, and any of my "friends" who took that route, I don't want to be near.

Perhaps there are subcultures and social groups where rapists are protected (like the idiot quoted's psychotic goon-squad), but I'm evidently not part of them, because the most common sentiment I've heard from my friends is that anyone that commits a rape deserves to be killed - quickly, if they're lucky.

(And I don't mean by the State after a trial and many appeals - I mean more or less immediately, followed by quick work with an axe and a shovel and persistent denials of ever having seen the person in question that night.)

Now, I don't know that any of us would actually do more than call the police if we ever found a rapist, let alone if one of "us" turned out to be one, but I assure you that the idea of solidarity with one out of fear of being a "sissy" is mind-boggling.

That a soldier lacked moral fibre and somehow managed to have no idea that rape and murder were crimes, well... that speaks only to his circumstances and either complete stupidity or desire to find excuses for his own cowardice or complicity.

It does not indict "men" as a group, or tell us that "men" have a "who farted look" regarding rape - only that some affect one.

What, exactly, can us men who do not rape people, hate rapists, and aren't (and wouldn't) protect any rapists we encountered do to prevent rape?

If there's something beyond turning them in to the law, shunning people who joke about it, and generally being decent people, please tell us, rather than asking, or (as the mostly-bolded quoted section does) simply asserting that there's something more we could do.

And if there's nothing more we can do, perhaps we're back to it not being something more that "men" can do - men are not a monolith any more than women are, and blaming "men" (rather than rapists) for rape is as wrong as blaiming rape victims for being raped.

Lesley said...

I didn't use the word "female" in anything I said either. I used the words Jennifer Moore. I just get tired of all the crap about how victims should stop making stupid decisions. You know, it just doesn't matter. The key thing is the criminal. The criminal should stop making bad decisions. And I know that seems obvious to people, but it also seems obvious that most of us already know the dangers we face. We're not stupid. And, in this instance, I will use the word "female", or at least "women". Women are already told over and over and over again to be careful. It's in our face constantly. We don't need to be told it again. Talk about useless? That's useless. We already know. And yet, women still go out at night. If you don't think that telling men not to rape is going to change anything, why do you think telling women not to go out alone at night will change anything? So as long as you're going to do something "useless", why focus it on the group that hasn't actually done anything wrong?

You may think it's useless to tell men not to rape, but, well, a lot of us here don't. Because, the thing is, the more women are told, effectively "If you just didn't do this, you wouldn't have been raped," the more rapists think they can get away with it. Why shouldn't they? They're constantly being excused. It seems that there's a general belief here that everyone thinks rapists are scum. Sure, in the abstract. But bring up an actual rapist, and watch how often his actions will be excused (I am not accusing any commenter here of doing that). "What did she think he wanted?" "What was she doing there?" "Why was she drinking so much?" "She probably just changed her mind later." I'll grant you we don't see this about Draymond Coleman, but this is almost certainly because he killed her afterwards. So then he was a murderer. And no one actually believes that people volunteer to be murdered and change their minds later.

But I remember the Robert Chambers case well, and given the circumstances of that murder and his defense, well, the amount of bashing Jennifer Levin got was incredible. People just lined up to excuse Robert Chambers. "Oh, it was just an accident. She was a slut who wanted to have rough sex, and it simply went too far." Yes, he was finally convicted. Dollars to doughnuts, if she hadn't have been killed but raped, he wouldn't have been. She was a single woman who went to a bar and left with a strange man. How many people would have believed her then? Lots of people didn't believe even after she was killed. They just couldn't erase the fact that she was dead.

So, you know, maybe if we put all our effort into discussing the criminal and issued cautionary tales about committing crimes, then something would change. Not overnight, obviously. There isn't any magic bullet that's going to change it overnight. And it will never go away completely. No matter what you say to anyone. But over the course of time, it just might work to decrease it. Things do change over time. [If you're already challenging men who make jokes about rape and not putting up with victim-blaming comments, BTW, you're already doing a lot of what at least I think you can.]

As for making rape a capital crime, that sounds fine, but it was at one time. Most people wouldn't convict, because they don't believe rapists should be killed for their crime. That's why rape is no longer a capital crime. Given how often people are already unsure about convicting rapists, make it a capital crime, and I bet the rate of conviction would decrease. If you're on the fence about conviction, making it capital isn't likely to sway you in favor of conviction.

BTW, I did read the essay. OK, so I forgot the one reference to Draymond Coleman. Doesn't change the point of the essay.

As for not knowing any rapists, well, at least you say that you're aware of. You may well know a rapist. It's also distinctly possible that the man you know who is a rapist doesn't consider what he did to be rape. Which is another issue, but this comment is already rambling and epic in length. And that's why I'm going to let the NYC thing rest.

Chris Clarke said...

Men can stop rape, yes, by not raping anyone. But the men who'd rape someone aren't going to listen, are they? It's not like they haven't already been told that rape is wrong, and illegal, and bad. They know what'll happen if they get caught, which is why they use disguises or threats or murder.

Most rapes are done by someone the woman knows. Marital rape and date rape account for more rapes than those committed by anonymous predators.

Chances are the men in this thread DO know a rapist. Someone in college, maybe, who didn't wait for his drunk date to come to one night before jumping on her? Someone who uses psychological coercion to get his wife to "put out"?

You don't even have to have proof of actual malfeasance before saying something or doing something. Challenge the guys you talk to who joke about getting someone drunk, who mention "Girls Gone Wild" videos in a positive light, though they depict reluctant women being "persuaded" to act in sexcual ways? Etc. etc. That's where the battleground is. Those are the guys who're committing most of the rapes, and they're also the most influenceable. And your silence equals consent.

Lesley said...

All right, now that I think about it, one more thing. Re: the futility argument.

My mother grew up in a tenement in Brooklyn in the 1940s and 1950s. St. John's Place and Utica Avenue. For anyone familiar with Brooklyn, not a swank neighborhood. Not even a nice neighborhood. Nonetheless, it was common for everyone to leave their doors unlocked. 24 hours a day. And to sleep with the windows wide open during the summer. Even the windows on the fire escapes. No one was afraid that someone would break into their apartments. Because it almost never happened.

No one would do that today. Even in a nice neighborhood. Because it would happen. So what changed over those decades?

One other thing. I don't want anyone thinking I'm against telling children and teenagers to be aware of their surroundings and be careful. I'm not. Adults already know the dangers, so warning us again is useless. Children don't. Of course they should be so taught. I do also think that these warnings are particularly unnecessary and rather unpleasant after someone has been the victim of a crime. What's the point then? The adults who read these blogsd already are aware, and the person who is the victim of the crime needs support, not guilt.

Malibu Stacy said...


Discussion X is about stopping rape. Discussion Y is about stopping A rape. I hope you can see the difference.

Discussion Y isn't a bad thing to have when the subject is personal safety. However, when the horse is out of the barn and a woman is dead in a dumpster, it feels an awful lot like "coulda, shoulda, woulda" second-guessing and yes, blaming.

Discussion X suggests we should stop focusing on what the victim did wrong and start talking about ways to change a culture that holds women's personal autonomy and bodily integrity so cheaply.

So, what can men do to effect this change? A good first step would be to realize that rape is not the sole province of the subspecies Homo sapiens tedbundius. As Chris pointed out, most rapists are known to their victims. It's logical to assume they have male friends and that you may unknowingly be one of them. And, as Lesley said, your rapist friend may not himself believe that what he does is rape. Chris gave some excellent suggestions to any man on how to extinguish poor behavior and misguided beliefs within his peer group.

There are so many things that go into building a rape culture and even the smallest ones are worth dismantling. Such as, not using sexually violent language, whether in anger or in jest. Don't use feminine terminology to taunt or humiliate. Avoid "entertainment" that exploits or degrades female sexuality. Do whatever you can to oppose the message that a woman's body is the only measure of her worth. Raise sons who won't subscribe to the solipsism of male entitlement. Raise daughters who expect to be treated like human beings and not sexual commodities.

That's just a small list; I'm sure you can add to it once you begin to consider that rape has a far larger context than a woman being in the wrong place at the wrong time making the wrong decisions.

twf said...

What men who don't rape and don't know they know rapists can do to help stop rape:

1. A commenter mentioned raising his daughter to be aware of her surroundings. I don't know if he has a son, but if so the son also needs to be raised to respect physical autonomy (his own and others). That means no unwanted hugs, no violence, no touch without permission. Also, treat women with respect: pulling a girl's ponytail or chasing her around the schoolyard are not appropriate ways to demonstrate admiration or affection.

2. Respect a woman's right to suspect every man she knows and doesn't know of rape. Don't insist that you're different. Rapists look like everybody else, and it's not fair to accuse one woman of stupidity for going off alone with her rapist while you insist on carrying her groceries into her apartment, or walking her home, or meeting her for the first time in a less-than-public place. The rapists also insist they're "nice guys who would never do that."

3. Don't have sex with drunk or otherwise impaired women. Just don't. Tell her "I'm attracted to you, but I'd rather we slept together when you were sober. The sex will be better and I'll know for sure that you consented."

4. Learn effective sexual communication and use it. Fight the idea that sex has to be mysterious and undiscussed in order to be enjoyable.

5. Speak up every time any person says anything that a) condones rape, b) jokes about rape, c) portrays women as less than thinking, decision-making beings.

6. Be a supportive listener when people around you tell you their rape stories. DON'T BLAME THE VICTIM or tell her what she could have done to prevent it. Listen. Support. Reassure her that it's not her fault.

7. If you see a sketchy situation, like a man trying to get a drunk woman alone, or insisting on walking a woman home, intervene. Find a woman to take the drunk girl woman home, or at least be a third person to hang out with the two of them, even if it gets incredibly awkward. Walk the woman home as a group, and don't go into her apartment, or convince the man to let her go alone. If any situation looks at all questionable, take the woman aside and ask her if she is choosing to participate.

That's all I can think of for now. I'm sure there's more.

Sigivald said...

As I said, Chris (and as lesley noted), I said I don't know of any men that I know to be rapists.

And since I don't know they're such, I can't take any action against them, of any sort, can I?

I don't know anyone who talks about "girls gone wild" approvingly, offhand. Nor am I sure how that's "rape", either, or even "gateway-rape". Having never sat down and watched a GGW video, I can't say for sure, but my impression was of college-age girls being exhibitionists, and if alcohol is involved, seemingly more as an excuse than as a cause. If this impression is mistaken, please clarify.

And what drunken sex we (my social group), as a group, engage in seems to typically be drunken and friendly on both sides, so talk of it being rape because liquor was involved is... dubious at best. (This is not to say that there are not cases of people intentionally getting unwilling people very drunk in order to rape them - just that it's not me or mine, and thus I don't see what "men" in the abstract (me) can do about it.)

I know what I'm doing if I drink with a girl and she "busts a move" on me later (which has happened, and I'm pretty happy about it). Assuming she doesn't physically force me to do anything, I'm not being raped merely because I drank some liquor. Why is she, in your analysis, if the situation is reversed? (Or, if it's not rape, what's wrong with joking about it?)

And if we're not going to blame the drinker for getting drunk and having sex while drunk, why is it we're now blaming the person who offers a then-sober, adult person liquor, said adult freely accepting it? Surely you don't mean to infantilise women?

I've known people to make jokes about "getting someone drunk" - but, oddly, the jokes are just that - jokes. Black humor about how wrong it is to actually get someone blind drunk and rape them, as opposed to drinking with them and having consensual sex. What am I supposed to challenge here? Any humor you find offensive because somehow someone might think it means date-rape is sorta okay once?

I don't think so, any more than I think "silence = consent". (And if silence is consent, do you apply that to date-rape vitcims who don't protest verbally? No, I didn't think you did. What's the difference, other than of rhetorical convenience? Silence = Consent is a great bumpersticker, but it's bad logic and vile politics.)

(And regarding marital rape... how am I even supposed to know it's happening, to do anything about it?

Christ, what sheltered world do I somehow live in if joking about spouse-rape and other rape is somehow the norm? Or is it that it's being vastly overstated here?)

Malibu: Can you point me to any actual reason to believe that yor suggestions about language will have any actual effect on rape?

If I hear women calling each-other [female dogs] or [female genitalia], how does that increase the likelihood of rape? Or is that only if men do that? How does that make rape happen? (And why don't men rape men, after calling each-other sexualised ephitets?)

Is there any actual research behind this? Or is it women's studies assertions being presented as dogma? Because that's what it sounds like to those of us on the outside. Might be wrong, but it sure would be nice to see the science, if there is any.

twf: So, a woman who's been drinking is raped if she has sex? Even if she literally asks for it?

Am I raped if I get drunk and ask a woman for sex, and somehow she says yes? Oddly, I don't think I am - even if I wake up and regret it.

Regarding your #5(c), see your own #3. Which is it?

Darleen said...

Respect a woman's right to suspect every man she knows and doesn't know of rape.


This is what we need to teach daughters? That all men are potential rapists?

Hope said parent has also established a very large trust fund for life-long psychological therapy.

3,4,6 & 7 are actually good suggestions, so I don't know where you got the rest.

Darleen said...


dyslexic fingers

#5, too

Malibu Stacy said...


I see sexually violent language and the use of feminizing taunts and pejoratives as having a kind of "broken window effect" on society's view of women. One unchallenged slur makes the next one seem more acceptable, and so on. And the more acceptable it is to dehumanize women, the easier it is to rationalize their abuse.

I doubt it would be possible to measure the impact of increased civility on crime rates; it would be just as problematic to try to prove that refraining from throwing garbage out your car window affects global warming. It's an "every little bit helps" proposition. Mock it as "women's studies" if you must; I'm used to having my antiquated Miss Manners notions tarred thusly. All I can say is that if you need science to tell you that it's socially detrimental to call someone "cunt" or "pussy", you're so totally not invited here for dinner.

Darleen said...

m. stacey!

What, are you against the first amendment or something?? You some kinda jesusland godbag trying to, ya know, make us polite and say, "sir" and "madam" and open doors and write thank you notes??

/60's 'do yer own thang

Seriously, social conventions and politeness need to be equally taught to both sexes.

John said...

I figured that we were talking past each other. In this case, you are equating all forms of rape into one big tirade. I’m not going to argue about whether one form is worse than another – if it were my daughter, I’d make a run an whomever, whatever the situation. But the method of control of the different forms of rape is different. The two instances listed above are the acts of psychopaths, whereas date rape etc. is the province of the sociopath. Re-enforcing a message of “date rape is wrong” will get at the borderline sociopaths and maybe cause some behavioral changes. On that much we agree. It will have no effect on psychopaths. It’s actually usually much easier to keep out of the way of the psychopath. But when you talk about these two cases and then extrapolate to situations such as the Duke case, where no matter what happened, I think we are looking at a bunch of sociopaths and borderline sociopaths who are at least capable of rape, then you get in your own way, politically. People who are just a bit further to the right from me look at your arguments and say “there goes another woman claiming all men know someone who would rape and murder if given the chance”. What I think you are saying is that a lot of men would use physical pressure to get a woman to put out. That is a different issue entirely, and mixing the two serves to alienate you from men who might otherwise, surprisingly fall into your camp.

The reason I say this is that I have dog in this fight. I want my daughter to grow up as reasonably free from the fear of an abuser as is possible while still maintaining a reasonable level of civil liberties. I don’t have a good definition for “reasonable” in either of those two weasel-worded qualifications. But I am interested in results, not in politics, and I believe that people well to the left of me have a place in this debate because they point out things I might otherwise ignore. I have a strong interest in them not shooting themselves in the foot in the larger public debate. That is what I think happens when you immediately move from the two cases above to the subject of date rape and violent words against women.

Take, for example, the second case. Here’s what Ilyka quoted:

"There's nothing I've read that says what to do if your buddies have raped and murdered a family," Watt said.

Now I have no idea how much Ilyka’s been involved with the military, but every member of the Armed Forces has to know, understand, and abide by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. In the absence of any other orders, the UCMJ is the standing set of orders by which all military personnel must abide. Any order that contradicts the UCMJ is unlawful and must not be obeyed. Any violation of the UCMJ must be reported. Standing orders. Here is the pertinent section of the UCMJ on rape.

(a) Any person subject to this chapter who commits an act of sexual intercourse with a female not his wife, by force and without consent, is guilty of rape and shall be punished by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.

Emphasis mine. The misogynistic, indeed the misanthropic, issue here is that some people are actually buying this defense. People who ought to know better, but buy it for their own political agendas. This is a weasel’s attempt at gaining public support for him not getting the firing squad. This is not in any way reflective of the military’s, or most men’s attitude on rape. Even if we buy the idea that he thought that he needed some sort of order to know to report this (Does anyone really think he was that bereft of morality and common sense? Really?), he did have a standing order, and because he had to take (many) classes on the UCMJ, his excuse is revealed for what it is: bullshit.

When someone writes about these two cases, and then immediate brings up the subject of spousal abuse and date rape, this comes perilously close to polarizing the debate, with people talking past each other, something I do not want to see happen.

John said...

Dang, I forgot to bold "punished by death" int eh UCMJ section.

Marcy said...

I abhor rape. I think men who rape should have their 'nads cut off.

HOWEVER, I don't see how it's blaming the victim to suggest that people be more responsible with their own safety. If I kept my doors unlocked at night, and someone came in and stole my stereo, how is it blaming the victim if someone subsequently said to me, "You don't lock your doors at night? What are you, stupid?"

Theft is illegal and rape is illegal. But we don't go around courting danger when it comes to theft. We lock our doors, lock our car doors, keep our purses and bags close to our person and don't leave them open on park benches and walk away. Because even though theft is illegal, we realize that it happens regardless and so we take precautions.

So, what's wrong with making sure you don't leave your drink unattended while at a bar, don't get stinking drunk, don't walk around in bad neighborhoods during wee hours? It's not blaming the victim. It's normal precautions in light of not living in a perfect society where no one commits any crimes.

This goes for meeting a blind date in a public place, not giving your password out to people who call you claiming to be from AOL, going straight to a website and not clicking on links in e-mails, etc. It's called "taking care of yourself," and "keeping yourself safe." It's not blaming the victim, it's being responsible.

belledame222 said...

well, yes; thing is, in this case, it's kind of too late, innit?

so we say these things to: what?

warn people?

or remind ourselves, nervously, that "thank god, I'M more careful than that; it wouldn't/won't happen to me"?

Anonymous said...

I was a friend of Jen's and attended the funeral. I'll admit flat out that just about everyone of her friends agreed, "It was a dumb thing she did... but we might have done similarly as well." Everyone believes in the "It can never happen to me," theory. The truth be told, there must have been hundreds of other drunk young girls walking around NYC that night, waiting with that "fuck me" sign on their backs hoping for some strong, conning, son of a bitch to welcome her into a taxi and drive her to her final destination where she will sober up enough to feel the pain of being beaten, raped, and eventually strangled nearly to death to be put in a laundry bag, awaken, and be strangled again. It's what every young woman expects when they go for a night on the town. I'm a conservative person myself, but these stupid fucks who have never felt the pain and never understood a close one making a mistake and paying for it on a first time trial, have no right to speak. May their perfectly lived existences never encounter a horrific event of slightly uncontrollable means because they made a mistake just once. -Someone Sickened by the Lack of Justice and a Friend of Jennifer Leigh Moore