Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Is Rape Prevention Actually Rape Permission?

There seems to be an argument going around that efforts to help women avoid being raped somehow enable rape. For instance, I've seen this image-as-argument going around Facebook lately:


My first thought on seeing this is: Well, they probably didn't have a big presentation on 'Don't mug people' either, but it would hardly be offensive if they still had a presentation during Freshman orientation at a big university on areas to avoid, keeping valuables out of sight, going to one of the emergency phones and calling campus security if you feel threatened, etc. One would hope that we live in a sufficiently civilized society that "don't commit crimes" goes without saying.

However, while as a social conservative my initial word association when I hear "rape" is an attack like the Central Park Jogger case, in the bohemian environment of modern college campuses the complaint is not necessarily as crazy as it sounds. Given that sex, even with relative strangers, is considered socially acceptable and normal on many college campuses, and given that heavy drinking and drug use often are as well, a whole host of additional issues involving sexual consent crop up. A freshman presentation on avoiding rape given to university students is likely to contain advice such as "women should be careful when drinking around men" or "be careful about separating from the group and going off to a secluded place with a man". If this was all the rape prevention discussion in university orientation included it would obviously leave out the other side of the picture, which would be telling men "just because a woman is so drunk that she can't coherantly so 'no' does not mean that she wants to have sex with you" or "just because a woman goes to a secluded spot with you does not mean that she wants you to force her to have sex with you" or "when a woman says 'no' to you, treat that as meaning 'no' -- don't assume that she must be liking it even though she's saying 'no'."

I know that many colleges do push this second side of the coin, but I take it from the complaint that some only provide the "how to avoid being a victim" angle. Perhaps it's because both students and adminsitrators are more prone to feel embarassed talking about sex in a large group than they are talking about more generic "safety" and "prevention". Perhaps it's because in post sexual revolution American culture laying down any sort of clear rules about sex to young people is implicitly seen as prudish. One of the things that really struck me a while back when I was reading Regnerus and Uecker book Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying was that many of the subjects in their study said it would be "too personal" to discuss various issues relating to relationship expectations, disease, pregnancy, etc. with the the people they were having sex with. The idea that talking is "too personal" while having sex is suitably distant seems deeply crazy to me, but it does seem to be a sentiment expressed with a certain frequency in our current society.

If a college is going to provide its female students with advice on how to avoid situations that could result in rape, the college is clearly not unwilling to provide students with guidance on behavior. At that point, it seems reasonable that they should also make clear that, yes, unconsenting sex is rape, and make explicit to students what kind of behavior is unacceptable for this reason. In this context the above picture-argument does, perhaps, have something of a point.

However, in at least some cases, the argument seems to be that recommending any modification of behavior on the part of women in order to reduce the likelihood of being raped is unreasonable. See the below:


Now, there's a distinction worth making even here: Just because someone violates some piece of good advice which might have helped them avoid becoming the victim of a crime doesn't mean that they "deserved" the crime. If you leave your cell phone sitting on the seat of your parked car, you don't deserve to have it broken into. If you walk alone through a bad neighborhood at night, you don't deserve to be mugged. The fault is always on the person who commits a crime, not on the person who could have done something else to prevent it. And yet, there's always the jerk out there who on hearing of some misfortune is willing to say, "Well, of course, if you were going to do X, what did you expect?" Let me be clear: that's the wrong reaction.

At the same time, it's silly to be resistant to good preventative advice simply because one shouldn't have to worry about being a victim of a crime. The fact is, certain behaviors make it much more likey that one will be victimized. Advising someone not to engage in certain behaviors that increase their chances of being raped does not mean "just maybe you won't rape someone" if they follow the rules. It is a recognition that even if you consider forcing sex on someone to be always evil and totally unacceptable, there are people out there who will do such a thing, and avoiding certain behaviors will decrease one's chances of being preyed on by them.

This may not be fair. There are situations I would advise my daughters to avoid when they're headed off to college that wouldn't worry me as much for my son. But life has a way of not being fair and I don't see that it makes sense to avoid taking precautions for one's own protection out of an outraged sense of justice. While there is a case of sorts for the first picture-as-argument, the second seems wholly off base.

56 comments:

Literacy-chic said...

There are so many things wrong with the advice that feminism gives to young women about sex, and what they should be able to do without feeling responsibility--all of the inaccurate expectations it builds about how life *should* work--that I wouldn't know where to begin. On the other hand, I fail to see how this campaign can claim that teaching women self-defense and self-preservation is anti-feminist. The problem seems to be that some young women are questioning the feminist orthodoxy, and assuming (rightly) that they do not need it. Feminism is in crisis.

But I do think there's a missing part of the conversation, because there *are* rape cultures. I ran across this blog post yesterday, and it seems that the "Men should be offended" poster speaks directly to this kind of thing:
http://www.elizabethesther.com/2013/01/committing-pornography-with-your-life-how-modesty-rules-hurt-women-and-men.html

Literacy-chic said...

To clarify, I think that the extreme example in my last comment is different from the offhand "well, what did you expect?" reaction that Darwin is renouncing as wrong. I'm talking about subcultures, not the culture at large, though there is some cross-influence.

Darwin said...

Yeah, it seems like there's a range that goes from a "well, you could have avoided that, couldn't you" kind of callousness to an actually malicious "it's your fault" kind of reaction. Clearly, it gets more wrong as you go along, but it seems like all along that spectrum you're acting as if the predator isn't actually a moral agent who is responsible for doing something wrong.

When I first ran across these on Facebook my thought was, "I'll dash off a quick post on how off base these are," but in the end it took quite a while for me to come up with a post that I thought was fair because clearly there's a nasty segment of the culture (and not just in conservative or religious cirlces, there are secular correlaries as well) which holds that certain modes of behavior constitute "asking for it." That strikes me as clearly and perniciously wrong. But I continue to be bugged by the idea that risk avoidance is (to use another catch phrase) "letting the terrorists win." That just seems out of keeping with reality and common sense.

Literacy-chic said...

Absolutely, I agree. And I think that this is a reversal of feminism's "empowering women to resist" from a generation ago, which indicates crisis to me. They're losing their recruits. There's nothing at all about being SMART and making smart choices, including smart choices about flirting, partying, walking in the dark, self-defense, and the sacred cow: sex.

Here's a fun analogy: What if this same logic were applied to contracting an STD? Well, you shouldn't *have* to protect yourself against STDs because the other person shouldn't have it in the first place. Well. Feminism isn't going to buy THAT one.

Or turn it around, and it sounds like this: Well, it shouldn't be HIS responsibility to take precautions, because SHE should have...

Any time you remove personal, individual responsibility in a situation in which actions have well-known, well-defined consequences, you get victimization and just a very skewed perspective on life.

Literacy-chic said...

Have you read Paglia's article about simply having some limitations on one's actions because one is female?

Darwin said...

No, I haven't. It seems like you referenced it at one point and I googled briefly but dind't find it online. Is this something where I'd have to [shudder] find a hard copy?

Charming Disarray said...

"clearly there's a nasty segment of the culture (and not just in conservative or religious cirlces, there are secular correlaries as well) which holds that certain modes of behavior constitute 'asking for it.'"

I think this is the real reason why this topic is such a hot-button one. It isn't just a case of "Be careful; we're worried about you." It's that it's actually really common for people to focus on what the woman should or shouldn't have done rather than question what is going on with the men.

Context matters, too. Saying, "Don't walk down a dark alley in a dangerous city at night alone" acknowledges that despite the best efforts of law enforcement, there are still criminals out there who will do horrible things. It's a reasonable thing to say. On the other hand, with the recent case of the highschool girl in Ohio (I'm sure you heard about it) people were saying that it wasn't safe for her to get so drunk, as though being around other highschool kids, even if they're athletes, is the same as being around violent criminals in a dark alley in a dangerous city. Do you see the difference? Why shouldn't a girl still be safe even if she's drunk if she's just around her highschool classmates? If she's not, there's a problem that's not being addressed. I would say the same for college students. Being a college student doesn't equal being a rapist, and if it does, there's a huge problem.

Leila@LittleCatholicBubble said...

Charming Disarray, you don't think there are rapists among college students? Or high school students? I mean this with due respect, but where have you been? There are people who will succumb to their darker side in every walk of life. And if alcohol is involved, all the more. That is common sense, and our daughters must know this. We do them no service to pretend it's only dark alleys where rapists dwell.

Clare said...

Our best data on rape shows that very few men rape, and they do it again, and again, and again.

Partially because everyone is so busy telling women all about the behaviors they *just know* will make women safer instead of, you know, holding the rapists accountable.

Rapists on college campuses don't rape because alcohol is involved, or fornication is normalized, or whatever. They rape because they like to. And they prey on nice people who think that rapists are mainly in dark alleys, or rape is just a matter of a little too much alcohol or mixed signals, or that a rape is due to anything but rapists

I'm sure everyone telling women what to do has very good intentions, but when that advice is basically rephrased and parroted by prosecutors, by school administrators, by the victim's friends to discredit her, to soften the case against her rapist, to shift the focus from him, your good intentions don't mean much.

You could not drink, and not meet a certain rapist. You could not have boyfriends or male relatives, and not meet a certain kind of rapist. You could not go to college, and not meet a certain kind of rapist. You could not hang out with conservative Catholics, and not meet a certain kind of rapist. Because yes, "nice Catholic boys can be rapists too. Which of these should I stop doing?

I find it really interesting that the only kind of behaviors that put women in proximity with rapists that anyone thinks worth mentioning involve a) women being alone in public space, and b) women partying.

Rapists in all walks of life prey on women with impunity because they know it's fairly safe to do so, partially because we are willing to accept a much lower level of safety and public presence for women than men. Because when women do get raped, they are too buys beating themselves up over it and second guessing themselves to pursue justice, and too busy trying to deflect communal reaction eager to shift the focus from the rapist's behavior to theirs to make a public outcry.

This is part of the reason when people say "well, rape is a crime that should be reported to the police," while also talking about how women can "lower their risks."

What I'm trying to say is, this advice may be very well meant, but it does not exist in a cultural or rhetorical vacuum, nor is it logically or consistently applied.

Clare said...

Say men were routinely getting drugged and castrated. By a few women, maybe ten percent of women by generous estimates.

Say we lived in a culture where people liked to make jokes about these castrations, where the victims of castrations were often publicly humiliated as liars and creeps by people they thought were their friends if it became known. Say that many of these castrations were done by women men loved and trusted, or happened in public space, like bars or parties among civilized pillars of respectability, but everyone had to pretend that it wasn't happening in their community--or if they did, it would be behind closed doors, because the social costs of challenging the castrators would be too high. Say that the small cadre of serial castrators was an open secret, but their victims were too intimidated and humiliated to pursue justice.

Say there were certain nostrums about who gets castrated--men who open doors for women, for example, that feminists used as part of their larger argument to convince men not to open doors.

In this scenario, can you see why your sons might be a little maddened if you said "now, don't go into dark alleys alone, don't open doors for women, and think carefully about going to parties with your nice upper middle-class educated female friends. It's never your fault if you are castrated, but there are people out there who will do such a thing, and avoiding these behaviors will decrease your chances of being preyed on by one of them." ?

Clare said...

Meant to include: imagine if revered institutions of higher learning did everything they could to hush up these castrations and protect the castrators, and that getting justice ranged from difficult to impossible. Especially if it happened at a party, or you had been drinking, or you had been known to open doors for women.

Clare said...

Also, the comparison to a stolen cell phone is one of the most common and wrong. A rape is not stealing a woman's sex, or her virtue, to use older parlance.

He is personally, physically, assaulting her.

This is not the equivalent of having to tell your kids, lock your windows so your stuff won't get stolen. It's the equivalent of having to tell your sons, and only your sons (and often because they are sons, that is, men), don't go to a party in a nice neighborhood among respectable people that you know and see live among, because one of them might might beat you up or sodomize you.

Charming Disarray said...

Leila, I do think there are. My point is that there shouldn't be. But I disagree that it's common sense. It's not common sense at all that there would be rapists among highschool or college students, and acting as though it's perfectly normal is what makes the situation continue as it is. "Boys will be boys" is not an adequate response to the fact that there are rapists in places where women should feel 100% safe.

Brandon said...

I always end my Intro Philosophy courses with a short feminist philosophy section,a nd one of the topics we discuss is rape law, and I think I'll be borrowing some version of Clare's castration analogy this term.

A lot of this is tied with the problems of thinking rape entirely in terms of consent, which is crazy, not because rape isn't a violation of consent or because violations of consent are minor matters, but because rape obviously is not and cannot be merely a violation of consent. Our taking it as such turns rape law into a form of contract law in which there are almost no protections against fraud and coercion, and a bizarre form of contract law, at that, in which hampered judgments due to alcohol or drugs somehow makes people think the contract is more legitimate.

And I think this is where a lot of well-intentioned advice for avoiding rape goes wrong -- certainly almost all the 'women partying' advice that Clare mentions -- because it really ends up not being about rape at all, but how women can send out signals of not-consenting, which, given the messed-way consent functions in our thought about sex, they apparentlysupposed to do 24/7 without stop.

MrsDarwin said...

Clare, this is an interesting analogy, but for it to work well it would have to be the case that:

1) Castration was a normal interaction between men and women in marriage, and an expected interaction between men and women in general;

2) Castration had the reputation of being pleasurable and easy;

3) Castration was repeatable;

4) Anyone would hold that it was plausible that a man wanted to be castrated;

5) People would think something was wrong with you if you were against castration in general.

I am all, entirely, for punishment for rapists and for very strong deterrents to prevent men from raping, starting with a true and deep respect for women -- for all people. I'm for the death penalty for rapists, and I don't care who knows it. I think the flip side of these college advice sessions for women ought to be laying out for the men the harsh consequences of rape conviction, and the intrusive inquiry they'd be subject to if they are accused of rape. And doubtless there would be a outcry: "Oh, but what if we're falsely accused? Our lives could be ruined?" And the answer is simple: "Don't put yourself in the position where anyone could credibly make that accusation." I'm fine with guys having to deal with that pressure, which matches the pressure to which many women feel unjustly subjected.

But for all that, I'm not going to keep from giving my daughters good common sense advice out of some righteous sense that women shouldn't ever take precautions because men shouldn't be raping. They shouldn't, but that still doesn't make it a great idea to get drunk at parties, or in general. It's not a good idea to get drunk, period. I'm going to advise them not to walk down dark alleys. Because I know my girls and they know me, and they know (or will know, when they're old enough to discuss these things) that I give them advice not because I'm enabling a culture of rape or because "boys will be boys", but because I care for them and want to protect them to the best of my ability.

That's not the only advice I'll give. We'll also talk about observing the way a man talks about women, what attitudes toward sex he reveals, what attitudes toward violence he reveals, what topics of conversation he considers acceptable. No one can ever infallibly read another person's character, but I want them to develop a good instinct for red flags that a certain man might be an unsafe companion, because being a rapist is a vicious fault in a man.

Will this prevent them from ever being raped? Maybe not. What tears me apart as a mother -- and it does keep me up at night -- is that if someone is determined to drag one of my children off and rape them, I cannot prevent that. I can't ensure my daughters' safety all their lives, nor my son's. But I can give them some good tools for life, and you can well believe that I won't be deterred from doing so to prove the point that rapists just aren't held accountable for their vile actions. I don't gamble my children's welfare on social protests, no matter how justified those protests may be.

Crude said...

Our best data on rape shows that very few men rape, and they do it again, and again, and again.

Partially because everyone is so busy telling women all about the behaviors they *just know* will make women safer instead of, you know, holding the rapists accountable.


So, wait. Your contention here is that serial rapists are getting away with rape - repeated acts of rape - and this is because so much time is being spent on giving advice on how to avoid rape that there's far less time to convict and sentence rapists?

No. Maybe you misspoke, but what I just quoted above is wrong and silly.

Rapists on college campuses don't rape because alcohol is involved, or fornication is normalized, or whatever. They rape because they like to.

All of them? Alcohol is never a factor? A stupid decision is never a factor?

I find it really interesting that the only kind of behaviors that put women in proximity with rapists that anyone thinks worth mentioning involve a) women being alone in public space, and b) women partying.

It's not a question of 'worth mentioning' but covering the cases that are actually reasonably addressable and general enough. And please don't tell me "they're obvious, women know not to do these things" because really, people often need reminders of fairly basic things.

Rapists in all walks of life prey on women with impunity

Again - really? There's a lot of serial rapists out there just walking free and no one is charging them or, really, interested in charging them? Rape is safe, and not safe because of a Jimmy Savile kind of situation where it's some powerful person surrounded by powerful people, but really, men in general can rape a lot and no one's really going to do much?

Say we lived in a culture where people liked to make jokes about these castrations

We live in a culture where people like to make jokes about everything from presidential assassinations to race to guys being raped in prison to otherwise, including many things that likely personally affect some people.

It's a crass culture.

In this scenario, can you see why your sons might be a little maddened if you said

Your scenario deals with strange absolutes and describes a world where no one seems to care about castration, and castrators simply don't get charged. You didn't describe a parallel situation, you described some bizarre, warped version of one.

Crude said...

Oh, and also, so long as we're talking about rape culture, up to and including the claim that jokes about rape are terrible things...

Should women (or men) who have rape fantasies be considered mentally ill?

Should pornography that features (fictional, acted, of course) rape be banned?

MrsDarwin said...

Crude, I have absolutely no idea what you're driving at in your second comment. Why should rape fantasies be a sign of mental illness? One of the characteristics of humans is that people sometimes think they want horrible things, things they would hate in real life. And a fantasy is just that -- a fantasy, something people engage in generally without considering the damaging real-life implications of their wishes.

To your second: yes, of course, pornography featuring rape should be banned. Why stop there? All pornography should be banned because it's a violation of human dignity -- both of the people being depicted, whether or not they choose to allow themselves to be depicted (Brandon's point about rape being far more than just a matter of consent applies here as well), and of the consumer, who is abusing his own dignity by choosing sad, solitary acts of lust.

A note for future comments: conversation on a blog consists of more than fisking someone else's comment and throwing out questions. It rather helps to actually state a position, speak to an issue, or contribute your own thoughts for discussion -- to interact, as it were.

mary said...

Charming D.
" 'Boys will be boys' is not an adequate response to the fact that there are rapists in places where women should feel 100% safe."

Who is saying this an adequate response? You are creating a strawman argument.

I have three children. We have given them all an age-appropriate training in how to deal with strangers and safety related to strangers (within reason). It was hard for them, and brought up some scary things, but quite necessary, because they are inherently trusting boys, and I witnessed (through a window) the oldest happily running over to a strange pickup truck with a man in it who had slowed down in front of our house. He turned out to be a neighbor's landscaper who was confused, but my son obviously needed to learn not to ever do such a thing again.

Wouldn't it be fabulous to live in a world where there were no people who abduct and harm children! This is the fantasy utopia that an acquaintance lives in who sends his son to the local hippie school, and who decided never to teach his son the word "stranger". The fact is, that we cannot be blind to the reality of any tough situation, while working from all ends to improve it.

And...I am a high school teacher. I sense that at some point many boys have fairly coercive fantasies about sex, and if you pour alcohol or drugs onto that situation, many of them might skirt the boundaries of acceptability. This is the nature of male sexuality. Men are NOT women.

MrsDarwin said...

Mary,

and if you pour alcohol or drugs onto that situation, many of them might skirt the boundaries of acceptability.

This is also a great reason to advise children, boys and girls, to avoid drugs and alcohol -- not just because it might lead them to act on impulses they might otherwise have suppressed, but because it might also lead them to do loathsome things which they would, with clearer minds, abhor.

Charming Disarray said...

"This is the nature of male sexuality. Men are NOT women."

In other words, boys will be boys.

The is the very worst side of male sexuality, and one which should be held up as horrific and punished severely. But it's not. And it won't be as long as people throw out casual references to it in the way that you're doing.

MrsDarwin, your 1-5 argument seems based on the idea that rape is simply a slightly more awkward or unpleasant version of marital intimacy. In fact, Clare's example works perfectly, because rape is by definition an assault on a person's autonomy. It is the worst form of abuse and it's a violation. Comparing it to just some other form of sex doesn't work.

I don't think anyone here is saying that young women shouldn't be warned about how to stay safe. The problem is that it's only girls who are being lectured on this topic, and boys aren't being told anything. No one, unless I missed it, said that parents shouldn't warn their daughters that there are rapists out there, although it might be helpful for them to add, "And there are so many of them because there's a high tolerance for their behavior and if you were assaulted you might find that people don't care as much as you would expect."

Crude said...

Crude, I have absolutely no idea what you're driving at in your second comment. Why should rape fantasies be a sign of mental illness? One of the characteristics of humans is that people sometimes think they want horrible things, things they would hate in real life. And a fantasy is just that -- a fantasy, something people engage in generally without considering the damaging real-life implications of their wishes.

I'm asking whether it's a kind of mental illness, something we should regard as a sickness to be treated - something we should discourage people from having or reacting positively to, even in the backs of their minds. Part of the reason I ask this is because we have 'jokes about rape' being treated as contributors to a rape culture. I think someone shall be hard pressed to insist on the one hand that rape jokes should be discouraged because of that contribution, but fantasizing about, collecting fiction about, and generally enjoying the thought/idea of rape even in an imaginary sense does not have an impact.

All pornography should be banned because it's a violation of human dignity -- both of the people being depicted, whether or not they choose to allow themselves to be depicted (Brandon's point about rape being far more than just a matter of consent applies here as well), and of the consumer, who is abusing his own dignity by choosing sad, solitary acts of lust.

Well, this just feeds right back into the mental illness question. I mean, you realize that I'm not saying these people should be thrown in straight jackets necessarily? It's about regarding their desires and thoughts as being damaged. Broken. In need of repair.

I say 'these people', but really, I'm not excluding myself here. I'm merely being frank.

A note for future comments: conversation on a blog consists of more than fisking someone else's comment and throwing out questions. It rather helps to actually state a position, speak to an issue, or contribute your own thoughts for discussion -- to interact, as it were.

I think I interacted plenty. Sure, mostly I criticized - what can I say, there's was a lot to criticize, and no one else seemed to be doing it.

I'll go further: 'death penalty for rape' opens up the problem of what penalty there should be for false accusations of rape, which - at least by some studies' accounts - may well be quite high. There are obvious problems with making it a slap-on-the-wrist situation.

But at the same time, if you make the penalties for false accusations severe, you're going to fall back into a situation where you're being accused of discouraging rape victims from coming forward to begin with.

I think this is just another example where most of the best solutions have nothing to do with new legislation, and everything to do with culture.

Crude said...

MrsDarwin, your 1-5 argument seems based on the idea that rape is simply a slightly more awkward or unpleasant version of marital intimacy. In fact, Clare's example works perfectly, because rape is by definition an assault on a person's autonomy. It is the worst form of abuse and it's a violation. Comparing it to just some other form of sex doesn't work.

MrsDarwin is pointing out that rape has some rock-bottom commonalities with not just an otherwise consensual act, but a pretty fundamental one - and that this has to be taken into account with any illustration. To use one example, you'd need to have it so, in clare's alternate world, it's quite common for men and women to get together for a night of consensual castration.

I don't think anyone here is saying that young women shouldn't be warned about how to stay safe.

I don't know about 'here', but actually yeah, some people freak out terribly at the very idea that, say... advising a woman not to walk by herself in bad parts of town at 2am while drunk is some terrible, demeaning thing to say to her, pretty much regardless of context, because SHE shouldn't have to alter her behavior, and advising her to do so is just creating more of a problem.

The problem is that it's only girls who are being lectured on this topic, and boys aren't being told anything.

Frankly, both boys and girls need to be lectured a whole lot about a wide variety of things. Either way, how do you figure boys aren't being told anything? In what context? It can't be a blanket statement - rape is discouraged in most of society to say the least, directly and indirectly. Maybe you see an inadequacy somewhere, but where is it?

What should men be told?

Charming Disarray said...

"MrsDarwin is pointing out that rape has some rock-bottom commonalities with not just an otherwise consensual act"

I am aware of that. I'm disagreeing with the premise, because rape doesn't have anything in common with a consensual act. That is why it is, by definition, rape. You've basically just repeated her point because you seem to think I didn't understand it. I did.

"I don't know about 'here', but actually yeah, some people freak out terribly at the very idea that, say... advising a woman not to walk by herself in bad parts of town at 2am while drunk is some terrible, demeaning thing to say to her, pretty much regardless of context, because SHE shouldn't have to alter her behavior, and advising her to do so is just creating more of a problem."

I've never seen that. Can you provide an example? I get the impression that you actually haven't read up much on this topic. I'm not claiming to be an expert on it myself, but it's of interest to me, and even those most outspoken feminist opponents of rape culture (with whom I don't always agree, btw) probably would agree that there are places where women are better off not walking around alone at night. The issue here is that we're talking about college campuses. Not inner city back alleys where the police won't go because it's too dangerous. See the difference?

Charming Disarray said...

"Either way, how do you figure boys aren't being told anything? In what context?"

Isn't that what this entire blog post is about? I thought this was the issue we're discussing.

Crude said...

That is why it is, by definition, rape. You've basically just repeated her point because you seem to think I didn't understand it. I did.

I did more than that - I also gave an additional example of an important way where the comparison breaks down. Should I provide more?

You, meanwhile, said that MrsDarwin's objections were based on the idea of rape being 'slightly more awkward or unpleasant' than consensual sex, which is itself pretty absurd, especially when she's calling for the death penalty over it. You've just said 'the example works perfectly' because it's an 'assault on autonomy'. Considering how many crimes can be reasonably said to be an assault on autonomy, I don't think that helps you much here.

I've never seen that. Can you provide an example? I get the impression that you actually haven't read up much on this topic.

I can report on my own experiences in discussing this and watching others do so - and actually I've read plenty. I always get this 'you haven't read up very deeply on this topic' response, in fact, which usually cashes out to 'you disagree with me, so clearly you're not educated enough.'

As for an illustration of the advice issue, you see some of this in the OP itself - look at the 'men should be offended when women are told they should avoid certain behaviors' line.

The issue here is that we're talking about college campuses. Not inner city back alleys where the police won't go because it's too dangerous. See the difference?

My example wasn't meant to show that 'hey girls get good advice about inner cities'. 'Don't get wasted at frat parties, because it opens you up for a predator' is compatible with the crazy response.

Isn't that what this entire blog post is about? I thought this was the issue we're discussing.

I asked for clarification because you made what sounded like a blanket statement. Maybe it's not coming across in orientation, but there's quite a lot of 'don't rape' and the like in the culture. Optimal levels? Likely not. Probably not optimal levels of any worthwhile advice or lecturing anymore, for that matter.

Charming Disarray said...

"Considering how many crimes can be reasonably said to be an assault on autonomy, I don't think that helps you much here."

Well, yes. And none of them can reasonably be compared to consensual sex. This is why rape is a crime.

I find that your method of argumentation seeks to obscure rather than clarify the issue at hand. I'm genuinely interested in finding why there is a discrepancy in the way rape is talked about among people who otherwise agree on morals and lifestyle, which is why I'm participating in the discussion. Your method of picking out small points in other peoples' statements and exaggerating or misinterpreting them without regard to the larger argument is certainly one way of having a conversation, but I find it to be waste of time, quite frankly.

Darwin said...

There seems to be some talking past each other going on as to MrsDarwin's response to the castration analogy.

As I see it, part of the point of the analogy is to pick a really painful and personal assault that can only be done to men. Well and good. The problem is, and I think this gets as why dealing with rape is something which causes so much pain and anger even among basically well meaning people, is that if one wants to punish rapists (and with the occasional disgraceful example when a college or some other institution wants to defend a rapist who is also a star athlete other otherwise "valuable" to them, I think arguably most colleges do want to protect their female students and punish rapists) one has to prove that a rape occured. With modern medicine and DNA testing, it's potentially very possible (if someone is able to get the appropriate help quickly -- which is most certainly not always possible) to prove that sex occured and to prove which man had sex with the victim.

The problem, from the point of view of an institution governed by laws, is that they also need to prove that what occured was rape and not voluntary sex. And when it comes to proving something in a semi-legal situation, the process of proving that what occured was rape and not consensual sex is often difficult and incredibly painful for the victim since the response of the rapist is usually to try to make the case that "she wanted it and now she's just lying". It is, from all the studies I've seen, actually very, very rare for a woman to make a false accusation against a specific man. (That's hardly surprising, given how painful and humiliating trying to prove a rape accusation generally is.) However, in a legal proceeding, just saying "she's probably not lying" doesn't cut it. It has to actually be proved to the satisfaction of those judging that the accusation is true. And that process is incredibly nasty and unpleasant.

If, as in the castration example, the physical result of the assault was obviously the result of an assault and couldn't possibly be the result of some consentual activity which would have left similar physical evidence. Thus, the problem isn't that rape is, as an act or an experience, kind of like consensual sex. Obviously, it's not. It's an assault. But the thing that makes society so incredibly bad at dealing with it is that the physical evidence afterwards is fairly similar to the physical evidence that would have been available after consensual sex. That's why societal institutions which tend to rely more on empirical evidence and less on what people say are often so clumsy and apparently unfeeling in dealing with rape in a way that it's hard to imagine being the case with a castration epidemic.

Charming Disarray said...

Darwin, I do see what you're saying, and in that sense rape is a bit different from crimes like, say, mugging. From a legal point of view, we can't adopt a "guilty until proven innocent" view towards any individual case in which a man is accused of rape. It's tempting, because of the reasons you mentioned and the fact that very few women would go through such a process just to get an innocent man in trouble (and it's unlikely that it would be effective if she did) but it wouldn't work legally.

However, and I think is where the problem comes in, no one is saying that these crimes don't occur. No one is saying, "It's very unlikely that a woman will get assaulted on a college campus." In fact, what's being said is the opposite--that's it's almost a natural progression that if you're drunk and female, you'll get raped. (I'm exaggerating slightly, Crude, okay? No need to quote this and question it.) So...on the one hand, it's nearly impossible for us to be sure that any individual man is a rapist, and yet somehow there are all these rapists out there assaulting women like it's just a regular part of life that women need to be careful about like driving on an icy road or not running red lights.

That sets up a scenario where people, probably subconsciously, refuse to acknowledge that rape is a choice made by a person and not just some faceless, nameless thing that happens as a result of women being drunk or not careful enough. In other words, the criminal is not being held accountable. And criminals know this.

What's the solution? I don't know, in all honesty. But it's pretty disturbing that in the rare cases where there are actually eye witnesses to the assault, as in the Steubennville case, people are still unwilling to call it what it is and to (literally, in this case) stand by and watch. That signals a deep pathology on our society, as far as I'm concerned. Obviously those teenagers weren't taught that if they see a crime being committed, they should do something about it.

That attitude doesn't just apply to rape, either. There was an incident in my hometown where a kid got stabbed at a party and no one would call an ambulance or the police. The kid died because eventually they took him to the police station (goodness knows why) and he bled to death. Afterwards no one would say who had done the stabbing even though there were witnesses.

For whatever reason, there seems to be a strong tendency to protect criminals and not victims. Maybe it's a case of mass Stockholm Syndrome. I don't know.

Brandon said...

I'm not sure the evidence issue is quite that important. In cases of assault and battery no actual injury has to be proven; the evidence for a battery, for instance, can be identical to evidence for perfectly normal physical interactions, and it doesn't change the texture of the case, which will usually focus on whether the physical contact was intentional or discernibly harmful in context. All the physical evidence is required for is whether the physical contact actually occurred, assuming there was no witness. Beyond that, it's just all about the character of the contact. But in rape cases the actual occurrence of sexual interaction is usually not the major issue. And in assault or battery once it's established that the physical contact occurred and was not accidental, the question becomes whether the defendant had the privilege required to hit or touch the other person in the way they did. This is where consent can come in to introduce reasonable doubt, but it's the defendant who has to prove they did everything reasonably required to have the right to think consent was already given for precisely what they did, rather than the plaintiff having to prove that they did not give consent, which is the way things usually end up being in rape cases. So it really does seem that in a society in which rape were really treated like assault (or even just pushing someone in a way that could cause harm), our rape avoidance advice really would have a great deal more directed to boys than just "No means No", which is what they usually get -- we'd actually have to talk to them about the kinds of cases where they could not presume that they had privilege even if she never said No, about the fact that actual violence is not required for it to be a rape, about the impossibility of proceeding without taking clear steps to establish that they do have the relevant privilege. This is not something we really do.

Crude said...

Well, yes. And none of them can reasonably be compared to consensual sex. This is why rape is a crime.

Yes, they actually can be compared in the ways that are relevant to MrsDarwin's point. Yes, there is a key difference, but there's far more relevant differences in the castration example.

Your method of picking out small points in other peoples' statements and exaggerating or misinterpreting them without regard to the larger argument

I'm doing no such thing - I'm pointing out some big problems with examples and claims. It's my whole 'taking the subject seriously' thing, flaw that it is. Instead your attitude seems to be something like 'rape is bad, that means these comparisons can't be badly flawed, why are you paying attention to them'.

I also again question this idea that it's 'men' who get away with this, as opposed to a specific type of man. In fact, that again feeds in to, quite frankly, crazy picture Darwin linked in the OP. This idea that men should be offended at the idea that women should take some precautions because it implies men can't control themselves.

No, what it implies is that SOME men are criminals or criminally inclined. Not all. And I have no problem saying that yes, a sizable number of men are scum and you should be on guard in some situations. Same with women, quite frankly.

Darwin said...

Brandon,

And in assault or battery once it's established that the physical contact occurred and was not accidental, the question becomes whether the defendant had the privilege required to hit or touch the other person in the way they did. This is where consent can come in to introduce reasonable doubt, but it's the defendant who has to prove they did everything reasonably required to have the right to think consent was already given for precisely what they did, rather than the plaintiff having to prove that they did not give consent, which is the way things usually end up being in rape cases.

I had to think about this one for a while, but I think that you have a point here. There is a social presumption that no one would want (or deserve to be) the recipient of personal violence and thus that if it can be proved that A beat B, A must be guilty of assault unless B can provide awfully good evidence there was some justifiable reason for beating A. By comparison, social assumptions seem to be such at if A had sex with B, it is assumed that this was okay unless A can prove that she did not want B to have sex with her. The presumption is on the other side.

In a sense, I think this comes out, in practical terms, to being the evidence problem that I outlined, but it's an evidence problem created by a pernicious social assumption that we should assume that any sex was voluntary unless A can prove otherwise. This seems to me a problem. I would rather have a situation in which if it could be proved that A had sex with B and A claims that this was a rape, B is responsible for proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the sex was voluntary, not the other way around.

Darwin said...

Charming Disarray,

However, and I think is where the problem comes in, no one is saying that these crimes don't occur. No one is saying, "It's very unlikely that a woman will get assaulted on a college campus." In fact, what's being said is the opposite--that's it's almost a natural progression that if you're drunk and female, you'll get raped. (I'm exaggerating slightly, Crude, okay? No need to quote this and question it.) So...on the one hand, it's nearly impossible for us to be sure that any individual man is a rapist, and yet somehow there are all these rapists out there assaulting women like it's just a regular part of life that women need to be careful about like driving on an icy road or not running red lights.

That sets up a scenario where people, probably subconsciously, refuse to acknowledge that rape is a choice made by a person and not just some faceless, nameless thing that happens as a result of women being drunk or not careful enough. In other words, the criminal is not being held accountable. And criminals know this.


Two issue strike me here:

1) Not unreasonably, people tend to be overcautious when it comes to avoiding very bad events. For instance, I would strongly, urge my kids not to ride motorcycles. Obviously, lots of people ride motorcycles all the time without having accidents, but accidents are significantly more common than with cars and more to the point they tend to be a lot nastier when they happen. Similarly, one might encourage people to avoid a risk simply because the thing being avoided is really bad, not because your chance of suffering any one time you do something is high. This gets particularly tricky when it comes to deciding whether or not to do something which is not clearly cause and effect. Obviously, drinking itself doesn't cause rape. At the same time, I think the survey data that I saw (I've been searching for the citation) was that 50% of college women who had more than five drinks at least two nights a week said they had been the victim of some sort of unwanted sexual advances at some time during their college years, while 10% of those who never drank did (with various other frequencies in between for light social drinking). If those odds were correct, it would seem like unless one put a very high value on binge drinking, one would want to avoid that behavior out of caution.

2) Parents giving advice aren't necessarily the same people doing the judging as to guilt. Thus, for instance, if someone told me she'd been raped by a frat guy at a party, I would most certainly believe her (in part, perhaps, because I have a strong tendency not to like or trust people who are in fraternities.) However, that doesn't necessarily mean that some college disciplinary committee or policeman would take the same view.

Darwin said...

If I were made dictator of the world, I would (as I mentioned in response to Brandon above) consider the right way to deal with rape allegations to be to consider only the combination of allegation and proof that the accused had sex with the victim to be necessary to prove guilt. Given that, it seems to me that something sharp enough to deter the crime yet recoverable enough not to be considered the end of someone's life (and thus make a jury reluctant to convict) would be necessary as the standard punishment. The obvious solution would be to go Singapore style and punish with caning. Twelve strokes across the bar buttocks with a rattan cane would give the perpetrator something to think about for a good long time, and would be appropriately physical and humiliating, however it wouldn't be so long term of so draconian as to make conviction unimaginable. I'm all for it.

Brandon said...

Darwin,

That does make a lot of sense. One of the arguments that is occasionally made (it's controversial, but it does have a fair number of proponents) is that one problem with our current way of looking at rape is that we often talk as if it's definite rape or nothing. The way we tend to think of sexual assault, it's an extremely high-stakes and risky accusation for all parties, both victim and accused, which in itself causes some problems. And the idea is that we need to recognize things that are treated as sexual misconduct requiring some redress or punishment but are not treated as full-scale sexual crimes with consequences for life. A buffer zone between rape and legitimate sex, rather than the sharp lines we tend to assume, to give victims more options than the highest-risk one.

Crude said...

What I think is being overlooked here is that people keep treating this question as a 'men/women' thing, there's this certain amount of laxity with regards to rape where men, period are concerned, and there's all this suspicion, pressure and mistrust where women, period, are concerned.

I think this view exaggerates the role of gender. The real problem seems to be that there are various classes of criminal who can get away with things, and various classes of victim who are in a tougher situation.

To use an example: child molestation. Why is it that Jimmy Savile, Jerry Sandusky and various Catholic priests were able to get away with serial sexual abuses? Would anyone take seriously the claim that our culture just happens to be rather tolerant of child molesters and don't take such allegations seriously? Are men just able to get away with molesting children? (As an aside - I wonder how many people who scream bloody murder about rape jokes encourage the whole 'Catholic priests are child molesters' joke schtick.)

Or is it that there are certain types of men, in particular situations, who are able to get away with a lot more than others? Men of power and respect and charisma with the right friends in the right places? And not always very wealthy or powerful - it doesn't need to be Donald Trump. It may be the star football player, the mayor's son or otherwise.

And if that's the case, it's not 'men' who tend to get away with rape, but a certain type of man.

Also,

Thus, for instance, if someone told me she'd been raped by a frat guy at a party, I would most certainly believe her (in part, perhaps, because I have a strong tendency not to like or trust people who are in fraternities.)

Doesn't that seem a little too quick? A default assumption of 'the allegation is true' regarding a generic female? I saw some of this with Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was by all accounts kind of slimy, but in the end that situation sure seemed a lot cloudier than people said it was at first.

And for Disarray, that's not splitting hairs. That's an important question.

Darwin said...

Crude,

I think your right that the ability to wield some kind of power or believability is a very powerful tool for a certain kind of criminal.

On initially believing an allegation: my tendency is to believe what people tell me unless I come upon a good reason not to. Some things might affect that, like if a person who claimed to have been victimimized in a crime was someone I knew to be untrustworthy, or if I knew the person accused and the accusation sounded wildly out of character. But short of some intervening factor my default is to believe people about their personal experiences.

Leila@LittleCatholicBubble said...

Charming Disarray, you said:

It's not common sense at all that there would be rapists among highschool or college students, and acting as though it's perfectly normal is what makes the situation continue as it is.

It's not perfectly normal at all, but it's reality. It's the reality of sin and evil in our world.

In a world before the Fall, there would be no rapists, and women would be 100% safe, as you and I both want. But this is the Fallen world, and we live in that reality, not perfection and sinlessness. I have to live in this world, and teach my daughters how to be safe in this world.

Honestly, I don't know anyone who thinks rape is just "boys being boys". Everyone I know thinks that rape is a sin and a crime. Do you know people who think it's good and healthy and right?

Just as I teach my girls to be safe and smart about things, I teach my boys to be chaste, to be gentlemen, and to avoid drunkenness and temptation of all kinds. Moral formation is the highest priority for my husband and me, as we both were secular high school and college students once (long before our reversion/conversion) and we know what reality is. As much as we would love for it to be otherwise.

Solution: Teach our daughters to be chaste, safe, and smart. Teach our sons to be chaste, safe, and smart.

Agreed? :)

Anonymous said...

What is the nature of man? Left to their own devices are the majority of men benevolent or ruthless and self centered? Do we live in a controlled, and orderly society or is it controlled chaos?
Currently are we a moral society? Christian?
I will happily take all the advice available for avoiding rape. I will happily take advice from well meaning men for avoiding rape.
I do not believe that men are running around and getting away with rape because our society doesn't care and let's them get away with it. It wasn't so long ago that the Duke Lacrosse team was accused of rape, tried and found guilty in the media and it only later came out that the "victim" was lying and all charges were dropped. The media didn't find the truth of the story as interesting as the lie.
Even if men are given the opposite talk to make things fair it changes nothing. I am responsible for myself and cannot depend on how men should act to protect myself. This is reality for our current society, this is common sense in our times. In past Christian societies women were safer and protected but society imposed strict rules for etiquette which protected women and raised their status. But contemporary women want nothing to do with any sort of etiquette cause it deprives them of their "freedom" and it's not "fair". So now we women enjoy our freedom, or do we?


"To a great extent the level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood. When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women." -Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Crude said...

Darwin,

That's fair. If it's just a default mode of trust, I can see it.

Charming Disarray said...

"If those odds were correct, it would seem like unless one put a very high value on binge drinking, one would want to avoid that behavior out of caution."

I think most people would agree with that just based on the statistics alone, but where the offense comes in and leads to signs like the one above, is that it's so inadequate as to be insulting. People are willing to say, "Well, rape happens. That's the reality" but they're not willing to say, "Well, some girls will binge drink no matter what we tell them, so we have to make sure that even if we do, no man will ever for a moment get away with harming them." It also leaves out factors that have nothing to do with drinking like being drugged or simply coerced or intimidated.

"Parents giving advice aren't necessarily the same people doing the judging as to guilt. Thus, for instance, if someone told me she'd been raped by a frat guy at a party, I would most certainly believe her (in part, perhaps, because I have a strong tendency not to like or trust people who are in fraternities.) However, that doesn't necessarily mean that some college disciplinary committee or policeman would take the same view."

That's true, but among morally conservative people who will tell their daughters not to engage in risky behavior, there is often an undertone of "men can't control themselves, so you have to." It's very likely that a girl who was assaulted would be afraid to go to her parents because she would be scared that they would blame her, even if they wouldn't.

Charming Disarray said...

Crude:

"What I think is being overlooked here is that people keep treating this question as a 'men/women' thing, there's this certain amount of laxity with regards to rape where men, period are concerned, and there's all this suspicion, pressure and mistrust where women, period, are concerned.

I think this view exaggerates the role of gender. The real problem seems to be that there are various classes of criminal who can get away with things, and various classes of victim who are in a tougher situation."

Crude, I did, in fact, point out that people are unwilling to step in with regard to all kinds of crimes, not just rape.

However, I don't see how gender can be separated from this issue. Women are physically smaller and more vulnerable than men. This presents two unalterable facts: one, that men commit more violent crimes, both against each other and against women, than women do. And two, that men have a greater obligation to fight back against criminals because they have ability to do so and women don't to the same extent.

So when good men refuse to act, that creates a dangerous society, especially for women. Just not raping isn't enough. Just not stabbing someone at a party or molesting children isn't enough. Men have to act, step in, do something, and from what I've seen in my life, most aren't willing to do that. It's easier to just say, "Women should be more careful."

This isn't to say that women can't do anything or shouldn't. I have personally called the police more than once in a domestic violence situation to protect someone else, which resulted in my being in physical danger. I'm 5"2' and I weigh less than a hundred pounds. I would be useless in defending myself or someone else in a physical altercation with a grown man, but at least I was willing to do what I could, and that's what I don't see from so many men who may not ever do horrible things like rape or attack others, but who do nothing and whine about how "all men aren't like that" when topics like this are brought up.

Darwin,

I would be okay with your caning theory, although with the change that it would be for a first offense only, with increasing severity for any ensuing offenses.

Charming Disarray said...

Leila,

"In a world before the Fall, there would be no rapists, and women would be 100% safe, as you and I both want. But this is the Fallen world, and we live in that reality, not perfection and sinlessness. I have to live in this world, and teach my daughters how to be safe in this world. "

There have been cultures where women were considerably safer than the one we live in now. "It's just fallen human nature" is a bit of a cop-out. I don't see how anyone, in good conscious, can really respond in any other way than to say, "What can we do to fix this?" God helps those who help themselves.

You say that you teach your sons and daughters to be chaste and not to get drunk--that's great, really. But I hope you're also teaching your sons that it's part of their duty as Catholic men to build a society in which the more vulnerable members are protected, and that doing so requires hard work and sacrifice. I know too many men who think being chaste and passive is enough, who stand by and twiddle their thumbs while there are real problems around them that they don't have any interest in getting involved with because it would take too much effort.

Darwin said...

Charming Disarray,

I think most people would agree with that just based on the statistics alone, but where the offense comes in and leads to signs like the one above, is that it's so inadequate as to be insulting. People are willing to say, "Well, rape happens. That's the reality" but they're not willing to say, "Well, some girls will binge drink no matter what we tell them, so we have to make sure that even if we do, no man will ever for a moment get away with harming them."

One of the things that I'm finding very frustrating about this discussion is that it seems like it's assumed that every situation is under my control, or the control of other parents in my position. As it stands, I'm utterly confident that women (my daughters or anyone else) are completely safe in the circles in which I move.

If I was saying, "Yeah, when me and the boys are in party mode, I definitely could not speak for the safety of any women who were along. They better stay away," then I could definitely understand the suggestion that my "stay out of bad situations" line is somehow excusing rape or acting as if it's something which "just happens". As it stands, however, this is a case of my saying that I would particularly caution my daughters about situations fueled by alcohol where I am not there, among people whom I don't know and who don't share my moral values, and whom I have no control over.

I'd advise my son to avoid the heavy party scene as well (as I almost invariably did back in my time) but at least there the stakes are lower in that he'd mostly be in danger of getting injured in a fight, or spending a night cooling off in jail with a DUI or underage drinking charge. That's pretty bad, and I would not want it to happen, but the stakes are undeniably a lot lower.

I suppose it's vaguely flattering to think that if I only expressed certainty of it on the internet, then Someone Would Do Something so that "no man will ever for a moment get away with harming" women, but I'm not clear that I have any more ability to achieve that through strength of moral resolution than I do to prevent all of the other murders, assaults, robberies, etc. that go on in society despite my opposition.


I'm not one of these guys who goes around calling himself a "feminist" by any stretch, but I have, in fact, learned quite a bit about these issues from feminist writers, for which I'm grateful. For instance, once I was able to find a calm explanation of the "rape culture" concept, I realized that it's actually a useful formulation of the ways in which cultural assumptions can serve to enable and protect rapists, even though that's not the intent of the assumptions.

At the same time, I think advocates on the issue in some ways make it harder for people to understand their insights because they're so trigger happy with accusations of enabling or excusing rape.

Crude said...

However, I don't see how gender can be separated from this issue. Women are physically smaller and more vulnerable than men.

A great argument against gun control if ever I heard one.

This presents two unalterable facts: one, that men commit more violent crimes, both against each other and against women, than women do.

I haven't checked this out, but statistically, sure. I suppose one could argue that violent crimes committed by women are underreported and not taken as seriously, but that's a weak dodge and I'm not motivated to check out the data for it right now.

And two, that men have a greater obligation to fight back against criminals because they have ability to do so and women don't to the same extent.

Wait, what?

A greater obligation in what sense? You can't mean in terms of voting or advocating policies here. Do you mean in intervening in actual crimes?

Spell out what you're saying men must do here. And let me point out: there is no way to even begin to advocate what you are without underlining the following: men and women are not equal. Their responsibilities are unequal, what's expected of them is unequal, and therefore their treatment should be unequal.

That's before you spell out what you're saying. If you can swallow that, I'll listen. If you can't, there's no point in going on.

Men have to act, step in, do something, and from what I've seen in my life, most aren't willing to do that. It's easier to just say, "Women should be more careful."

Again, what do you mean? As in, if I'm walking down the street and I see some guy smacking around what appears to be his girlfriend, I should punch him? Aka, risk my life protecting a woman who, odds are, will side with the guy smacking her around if push comes to shove?

I'm 5"2' and I weigh less than a hundred pounds. I would be useless in defending myself or someone else in a physical altercation with a grown man, but at least I was willing to do what I could, and that's what I don't see from so many men who may not ever do horrible things like rape or attack others, but who do nothing and whine about how "all men aren't like that" when topics like this are brought up.

You're American, right? Get a gun. And I'm not joking around - get a gun, get training, learn to use it responsibly, and carry it. You will shift from useless in a physical altercation to being possibly capable of dropping a 300 pound man upon the instant.

And again, I'd like to know what you expect men to do regardless, and what view of the sexes you have. I have no idea what view you, personally, have of these things, but I've run into many who seem to have inconsistent views.

Crude said...

Darwin,

For instance, once I was able to find a calm explanation of the "rape culture" concept, I realized that it's actually a useful formulation of the ways in which cultural assumptions can serve to enable and protect rapists, even though that's not the intent of the assumptions.

Alright, I'll bite. What's the formulation? How can it help? I've seen plenty of very valid critiques of society in general. I'll even grant that some places like India apparently have a legitimate rape culture. Last I checked, they also have a 'setting widows on fire' culture.

What defenses of it I've seen haven't been very inspiring. Maybe you've had otherwise.

Charming Disarray said...

"One of the things that I'm finding very frustrating about this discussion is that it seems like it's assumed that every situation is under my control, or the control of other parents in my position."

Not at all. Of course there are many situations that are totally out of your control. But the fact that you're willing to discuss the topic, and consider the point of view that "rape culture" exists or that it's a term that means something, puts you in a different category from how a lot of conservatives react to discussions like this, at least in my experience. Dismissal and scorn is a much more common reaction, followed by opportunistic pleas for personal agendas, like what Crude has outlined above. (Gun control and how men and women aren't "equal.")

You said you that if a woman told you she had been raped at a frat party, you would believe her. I'm not sure if you realize how rare it is for people to react that way. Just a couple years ago a (former) male friend of mine got kicked out of a well-known conservative Catholic college because a girl he was dating accused him of raping her. He told me about it, and didn't deny that something happened, but said that they were drinking. She went to the police and it went to trial, but I suppose he was acquitted because that was the last I heard about it. I was talking to a mutual friend of ours about it and he said that the girl probably went to the police to protect her reputation.

It wasn't until years later that I realized, totally horrified, that not only did I believe such a ridiculous idea that makes no rational sense whatsoever, but also that I had stayed friends with the guy even though I KNEW that he was manipulative and had serious behavioral issues and was always getting himself involved in morally ambiguous situations and that he made a point of dating girls who were usually 18 or 19 while putting on an act of being very devout. I just looked the other way. Maybe I was just naive. I don't know. But the two things I can conclude about it is that people often don't see creeps even when they're right under their noses, and that stuff like this does, in fact, happen among conservative Catholics.

Charming Disarray said...

"As in, if I'm walking down the street and I see some guy smacking around what appears to be his girlfriend, I should punch him? Aka, risk my life protecting a woman who, odds are, will side with the guy smacking her around if push comes to shove?"

I risked my life to protect a woman getting smacked around because it was the right thing to do. I suppose that makes you a bit of a coward in comparison, doesn't it?

Jenny said...

Charming,

I think instead of the word coward, the one you were actually looking for is prudent.

Crude said...

I risked my life to protect a woman getting smacked around because it was the right thing to do. I suppose that makes you a bit of a coward in comparison, doesn't it?

Maybe it does! We can discuss that if you like. But it certainly makes you inconsistent and/or not very smart.

You described yourself as a sub-100 pound 5'2" woman who would be useless in an altercation with a grown man. Now you're telling me you dove into a fight with a woman being smacked around because it was the right thing to do. Unless you were part of a mob or the man in question was Herve Villachez, something doesn't add up. You either did something pointless and harmful (risked your life to hardly help out, when you could have ran off to get some actual help from someone who could do something, aka a man), or frail, petite you actually provided meaningful assistance - in which case, it's not just men who should be helping out, but men and women.

To head this off at the pass, if you tell me 'I was useless, but that doesn't matter, it was the RIGHT THING TO DO.', I'll roll my eyes. It'd be like telling me a story about how you saw a woman drowning and, despite being unable to swim, dived into the water next to her to try and help her. That's an Aesop's fable that ends with the moral, "Think things through, for crying out loud."

And hey, I am entirely open to the possibility that it IS the male duty, not the female duty, to stop such things. But then we're right back to those questions you skipped over about the basic inequality of the sexes, complete with different expectations, different standards, and even different treatment. And we're also running counter to a societal view that has been loudly advocated for a while now, where it's suggested that women and men are pretty much equal in terms of capability.

But I'm not interested in weird pretzel logic whereby men are lectured that they have various duties and responsibilities to women purely because men are men and women are women, AND men and women are equal in terms of capability and treatment and expectation.

Charming Disarray said...

Crude, I stopped reading after your first paragraph. I already said I called the police and in doing so put myself in danger. I did not "dive into the fight." I did, in fact, call for help from other men--the police. But you may not be aware that when you call the police it takes a few minutes for them to arrive. In that space of time, I was in physical danger and had to remove myself from the situation until the police arrived. You can choose to disbelieve me if you want, or you can imagine that I'm claiming that I started punching people right and left when I never said any such thing.

I'm not interested in continuing the discussion with you, because it's obvious you're only looking for imagined inconsistencies in what I'm saying in order to "win" whatever it is you're trying to win. That's a waste of my time, as is having to repeat myself for someone who is clearly not interested in taking my words as face value in the first place.

Charming Disarray said...

By the way, Darwin, Crude's reaction to my story, in which he questions the events that took place (which I was never interested in going into detail about in the first place) even though I was there and he wasn't, looking for reasons to believe that I'm exaggerating or lying, is very much the attitude that prevents women from speaking up about any kind of assault among conservative men. I've encountered attitudes like his many times. Nobody wants to get the third degree from someone with a massive chip on his shoulder about feminism after experiencing an emotionally traumatic and most likely humiliating event.

And yet, what is Crude really saying to me? "You should have known better than to put yourself in that situation."

QED

Anyway, thank you for being such a reasonable voice on this topic. I do think it's possible to have a discussion about exactly why certain rhetoric exists around issues concerning rape without it needing to be inherently offensive, and you and Mrs. Darwin have demonstrated that here.

Darwin said...

Crude,

Alright, I'll bite. What's the formulation? How can it help? I've seen plenty of very valid critiques of society in general. I'll even grant that some places like India apparently have a legitimate rape culture. Last I checked, they also have a 'setting widows on fire' culture.

The first thing to realize is that reasonable feminists (okay, yeah, I feel weird about using that phrase too, but bear with me) don't use the term "rape culture" in a binary fashion to label a culture as being a rape culture or not being a rape culture. Rather, the term refers to cultural standards which normalize, ignore or trivialize rape in certain circumstances -- allowing it by making room for it or winking at it.

One example of this would be the tendency to trivialize prisoners being forcibly sodomized by other prisoners in jail. It's the stuff of late night talk show jokes, and it's fairly common for people to express outrage at a crime by saying that they hope the perpetrator will soon be having to watch out for his backside in jail. This is done mainly because prisoners are seen as pretty unsympathetic people (and they are) but the result is that prisoners who like to sexually prey on other prisoners are given something of a license to do so because there's a certain social social acceptance that "that happens in prison".

A more mainstream example would be cases where certain types of behavior by a woman are seen as implicitly giving her consent to have sex with any man who wants to demand it (or suggesting that she's the sort of woman who would consent to have sex with anyone, and thus that any claim she was forced is suspicious). So, for instance, if a woman is dressed "like a slut" according to local standards, a "rape culture" response would be to assume that if that woman claimed she had been raped, she must be lying because she was dressed in a way that suggested she was "available". The flip side of this would be that a predator would know that if he preyed on a woman who was dressed in a way that violated these social norms, he'd likely get away with it because social disapproval of her mode of dress effectively made her "fair game".

Charming Disarray,

I don't think that Crude was questioning the veracity of your account but rather that he didn't connect your earlier account of having called the cops on a domestic violence situation with your later suggestion that he was a coward for not physically intervening in a hypothetical altercation he might see between strangers. Given your brief and somewhat aggressive response to his hypothetical, it's pretty easy to take it as saying, "When I saw a guy beating up on his girl friend, I punched him. Why are you scared to?"

All,

I think this thread may have played itself out past its useful point.

Crude said...

Crude, I stopped reading after your first paragraph.

Is this a habit of yours?

You can choose to disbelieve me if you want, or you can imagine that I'm claiming that I started punching people right and left when I never said any such thing.

I asked you if I should throw a punch at a guy who was in the middle of smacking around his girlfriend. You responded by pointing out that you yourself 'risked your life' in such a situation, and suggested I was a coward for expressing my reluctance at throwing a punch in a situation like that.

I nowhere doubted your story, and I damn sure didn't suggest that 'getting out of there and calling the cops' was something I would not do (I even suggested that you SHOULD HAVE run off and gotten help in the very comment I responded to you). I ran with what you were implying - that you threw yourself into a situation where you had to go up against an aggressive, typical male. I'm not the one who pointed out that was foolhardy: you did. Hence the consistency problem.

because it's obvious you're only looking for imagined inconsistencies in what I'm saying in order to "win" whatever it is you're trying to win

No, I'm pointing out real inconsistencies because they are there, and they have an impact on the argument you're presenting.

And yet, what is Crude really saying to me? "You should have known better than to put yourself in that situation."

Charming, you suggested I was a coward for questioning my 'duty' to throw a punch and physically intervene in a situation where some man is smacking around his girlfriend. I replied that I was open to it being a duty of mine and of men generally - but if it was, that was going to have some repercussions in the greater debate about equality. You've avoided that discussion, along with other points I've made.

Here's where your claim stands:

* If you threw yourself physically into this fight, then it was either a dumb move by your own standards, or women have an onus on them to intervene after all. Yes, you shouldn't have leaped into a hopeless situation, and you yourself defined such a situation as hopeless for you and women generally.

* If you didn't throw yourself physically into the fight - if you were already in danger, or simply got out of there and called the cops - then what you did was entirely reasonable, maybe even responsible. But it wasn't particularly brave. It certainly wasn't cowardly. It was just a reasonable, laudable act - like calling the cops if I see a break-in across the street. And if I'm being chased by criminals and I call the cops, it may be damn scary, but an act of bravery it is not.

* In either event, you have yet to justify your suggestion that my failing to punch some woman's abusive boyfriend is cowardly - or face up to the fallout that comes from suggesting that men and women have very real, unequal duties.

Nobody wants to get the third degree from someone with a massive chip on his shoulder about feminism after experiencing an emotionally traumatic and most likely humiliating event.

Sure they do. Some people see relating their emotionally traumatic and most likely humiliating events as a means to control a conversation. And it's one reason why seemingly every discussion about feminism with some people includes the uninvited relaying of the personal experience and the fierce condemnation of He Who Disagrees after it's been brought up.

Now, tell me: do I have a duty, as a male, to throw a punch or physically separate an abusive boyfriend and his girlfriend in public? If I don't, your 'cowardly' claim was utter bull. If I do, then we're going to have to talk about what that means when it comes to equality.

But you know what? You won't answer that. Because for many, feminism means lecturing and never dealing with criticisms or acknowledging serious complexities, much less failings in reasoning.

Crude said...

Darwin,

One example of this would be the tendency to trivialize prisoners being forcibly sodomized by other prisoners in jail. It's the stuff of late night talk show jokes, and it's fairly common for people to express outrage at a crime by saying that they hope the perpetrator will soon be having to watch out for his backside in jail. This is done mainly because prisoners are seen as pretty unsympathetic people (and they are) but the result is that prisoners who like to sexually prey on other prisoners are given something of a license to do so because there's a certain social social acceptance that "that happens in prison".

For one thing, I'll say that I rarely see 'rape culture' discussed in this light, though it's pretty well an obvious example. But I disagree that it amounts to 'social acceptance'. I think people tend to joke about many, many things whose actuality they would find abhorrent. On the other hand, I know this gets into a more complicated area.

So, for instance, if a woman is dressed "like a slut" according to local standards, a "rape culture" response would be to assume that if that woman claimed she had been raped, she must be lying because she was dressed in a way that suggested she was "available". The flip side of this would be that a predator would know that if he preyed on a woman who was dressed in a way that violated these social norms, he'd likely get away with it because social disapproval of her mode of dress effectively made her "fair game".

And here's where problems really come in: I don't see this. If there are cultures where it's considered 'okay' to rape a woman because of how she's dressed, I suggest we're off into some particular subcultures. Rather how some people think it's okay to shoot a guy wearing the wrong colors in a given neighborhood because he should know better or must be intentionally trying to rile up the local gangs. Yes, such cultures exist and are a problem. But at that point we're zeroing in on a segment of society, with its own particular problems. It's not 'men get way with rape'.

I think this thread may have played itself out past its useful point.

You and MrsDarwin are gracious hosts, and I know I get under people's skin. Your two's blog, your rules, and since you're shutting this down, this is my last comment (and if this and/or my prior gets deleted, no harm done.) But I suggest you at least reflect on what happened in this exchange, and why you're shutting it down. Is it because someone got riled? Someone made it personal? Stopping things is the most peaceful solution, but man, maybe seeking the most peaceful solution and shutting down talk whenever things get heated is part of the problem.

Just some idle thoughts. Out I go again to haunt the rest of the net.

Charming Disarray said...

Darwin,

I think when it comes to being aggressive, Crude wins that title in this particular discussion.