130 Comments

FAQ: What’s wrong with suggesting that women take precautions to prevent being raped?

This FAQ has been updated with an addendum 2010-04-27

Short answer: Because it puts the onus on women not to get themselves raped, rather than on men not to do the raping; in short, it blames the victim.

[From Grendelkhan, in comments, emphasis added]

Why taking precautions doesn’t work

Melissa McEwan points out that whether or not a woman gets raped has nothing to do with her own actions and everything to do with the rapist:

Left to my own devices, I never would have been raped. The rapist was really the key component to the whole thing. I was sober; hardly scantily clad (another phrase appearing once in the article), I was wearing sweatpants and an oversized t-shirt; I was at home; my sexual history was, literally, nonexistent—I was a virgin; I struggled; I said no. There have been times since when I have been walking home, alone, after a few drinks, wearing something that might have shown a bit of leg or cleavage, and I wasn’t raped. The difference was not in what I was doing. The difference was the presence of a rapist.

JoAnne Schmitz points out another problem with the “precautions”:

The question is, why do the warnings not help? Is the warning not strong enough? I don’t think so. I don’t know any women who don’t consider rape a realistic threat to them, and I don’t know any women who never alter their behavior because of a fear of rape.

Well, the obvious answer: Rape keeps happening because rapists keep doing what they’re doing. Because it works. So how can what they’re doing work if we have all these strong warnings about?

The warnings women get are misleading. They leave out the acts of the rapist himself. They focus on the situation. They also may focus on the “kind of man” the potential rapist is. If he’s a friend of a friend, or your uncle, he’s “safe.” It’s the stranger who’s the threat.

And we know that’s not true.

Introductory:

Clarifying Concepts:

  • Rapists are rarely strangers [a 2005 post citing studies several years older then, however patterns have not changed much]:

    Stranger rape and sexual assault is only one of several possible types of sexual violence. Here’s the reported percentages according to National Health and Social Life Survey:

    - Someone with whom the respondent was in love: 46%
    - Someone that the respondent knew well: 22%
    - Acquaintance: 19%
    - Spouse: 9%
    - Stranger: 4%

    (Rathus, Nevid and Fichner-Rathus, 565)

    [ifritah (GROWL): Facts and Figures.]
  • On the contribution of the virgin/whore dichotomy:

    One aspect of our language that I want to highlight is our use of the virgin/whore binary. Our understanding of rape and sexual assault involves a dichotomy between women who are innocent, virginal victims of rape, and women who are promiscuous – and therefore can’t be raped. This division is obvious in the ways that female rape victims are treated, as we scrutinize a victim’s history to see: Did she ever have sex? Did she have sex with many men? Did she have sex with the alleged rapist? Did she have sex with him many times? Each ‘yes’ is one more blow against the victim’s case, one more reason that she’s a whore and not a virgin, and therefore not a ‘real’ victim.

    One way we can fight against this discursive bias against women is to end slut-shaming. Stop making that division between women whom we like/who are like us and have ‘enough’ sex, and women whom we don’t like/who aren’t like us and have ‘too much’ sex (or too ‘dirty’ sex, or sex with ‘too many’ partners). Stop creating that artificial line which women must not cross, lest their ability to refuse sex no longer be respected. Stop buying into the idea that there even is an amount of sex that a woman can have that invalidates her ability to refuse sex.

    And stop, stop, stop using ‘slut’ or ‘whore’ as an insult for women, even in non-sexual contexts, because it just reinforces the idea that this is a label we can use to punish women for doing what they’re not ‘supposed’ to.

Addendum: so what is useful information for avoiding rapists? Check out Predator Theory with regard to serial rapists – how a small minority of men deliberately target and isolate women they perceive as vulnerable in order to rape them, consciously exploiting all the rape culture myths so that the woman feels so shamed that she is unlikely to report to police and if she does the rapist has plenty of plausible deniabilty. How serial stranger rapists will probably use drugs without force to incapacitate their target so that she doesn’t even know what he looks like, and how serial acquaintance rapists, while also using alcohol/drugs, are far more likely to use force and claim it as a misunderstanding later. How if you know a bloke who says stuff like “silly bitch wants it really” or “she’s got it coming” they probably aren’t just joking and instead of their mates “letting it slide” the world would be a far better place for women and for non-rapist men if those blokes’ mates just took the simple stand of “that’s bullshit, dude” and shut that crap down.

The statistics and the description of methods used also show how if the culture surrounding sexual liaisons changed to one where the general standard was explicit negotiation and stage by stage affirmative assent, the techniques used by these serial rapists would be far less likely to succeed, because all their plausible deniability lies in the current social and sadly-still-often-legal standard of “she didn’t say no”.

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130 comments on “FAQ: What’s wrong with suggesting that women take precautions to prevent being raped?

  1. Another thing that’s wrong with suggesting that women take precautions is that – depending on the precautions suggested – it’s incredibly insulting to men.

    Suggesting that women should not wear revealing clothing because ‘men can’t help themselves’ is suggesting that men are uncontrolled rapists who will force a woman to the floor and abuse her at the sight of a well-turned ankle or a bit of boob.

    And quite frankly, I think better of men than that.

    (And yes, this is essentially a summary of ross’ ‘I am not my cock’ comment included in the FAQ. But damnit, it’s worth repeating.)

  2. Why is there such a stark dichotomy between “blaming the victim” and “absolving the victim of all responsibility”? If I get drunk and pass out in a bar, and someone steals my wallet, no one would ever think of not blaming the thief, even while they’re calling me an idiot for putting myself in that situation. But it’s not right to call a women who was raped in a similar situation an idiot for drinking until she passed out? The fault is still obviously the rapist’s, but it’s stupid to put yourself in a situation that increases risk.

    So, I’m seeing a false distinction here. (“The difference was not in what I was doing”, etc) Just because much of the advice to “avoid rape” is bullshit doesn’t mean that some of it isn’t. Are we tarring all of it with the same brush to try to compensate for societal bias?

  3. Well, Chuck, the best advice to avoid rape would be to never associate with men at all. No male family members, no male friends, and no dating. Most women/girls are raped by someone they know. Not a stranger hiding in the bushes.

  4. Yes, Chuck, IMO, we are compensating for a societal bias and I don’t see what’s wrong with that.

  5. also, Chuck: according to the Mary Koss Survey, as many as 4.5% (think: 1 in 25) of men can be rapists. I don’t think they all coincidentially congregate in similar areas or anything…

  6. I think Chuck had an interesting question: how does rape differ from other crime? I am given advice on how to prevent burglary; in fact there is a whole industry pushing to sell me locks and home alarm systems. Nobody blames me if my apartment gets broken into, but they do offer suggestions on how to prevent it in future. Rape, on the other hand, is more tricky: nobody is willing to tell me “don’t dress like that, you’ll get raped”. Why is this?

    My own answer to the question, for what it’s worth, is that because of the historical (and current, alas) attitudes surrounding rape, it is not just a risk like any other. It is regrettably not possible to discuss the risk of, say, date rape, without treading on social attitudes towards promiscuity, attractiveness, women as objects of desire, and so on.

    It is also notable that almost all the advice about not getting raped centers on stranger rape; self-defense classes often focus on the possibility of being attacked by a stranger while alone at night. While these do occur and are awful, they distract the focus from the awful and more common cases of rape (or simple violence) by a lover, friend, or acquaintance.

  7. nobody is willing to tell me “don’t dress like that, you’ll get raped”

    Are you kidding? Most rape victims don’t have a case against their attackers BECAUSE the courts, juries, and the “court of public opinion” immediately wonders “what did she do to provoke this?” Maybe you should read more conservative blogs or pay attention to the MSM, because the idea that women must’ve done something “provocative” to bring on their rapes is widespread.

  8. Ah. Yes, I should have been more specific: I was addressing this FAQ, and I meant, “feminists are not willing to tell me ‘don’t dress like that, you’ll get raped’”.

  9. Perhaps that’s because women wearing all sorts of clothing get raped all the time, so that particular piece of advice doesn’t actually seem to be either the most accurate or the most important piece of advice?

  10. Chuck’s point does look, at first glance, entirely logical: in a reasonable world why shouldn’t we be able to separate blame from sensible control of risk? Trouble is, we don’t live in a reasonable world and there are a huge number of complicating factors, just a few of which include:
    - the lack of a line designating where sensible precautions end, such that women’s right to live in the world is materially restricted. It’s not going to interrupt your life too much to choose not to get so drunk you pass out on the floor of a bar, but for women “don’t get too drunk” quickly becomes “don’t drink”. Then there’s don’t flirt, don’t wear a short skirt, hell, don’t wear a skirt, don’t go out late, don’t dance “provocatively”, don’t walk home. OK, don’t drink until you black out is an easy one, but it doesn’t end there, and it ends somewhere different for everyone, until you get the Muslim cleric in Sydney last year who said “if she’d been in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred.”
    - the ancient and continuing history of actually blaming women for being raped means that discussion of danger is manipulated to become blame. Look how quickly people get to “what was she doing there?”, “why did she go with him, then?”, and this includes everyone from the rapist’s defence counsel to the press to the victim’s friends to the woman herself.
    - there is no real pressure on anyone not to take sensible precautions like looking both ways before crossing the street. There’s a whole messload of pressure on women to make themselves attractive, or be excluded from social groups. Which means one person’s sensible precaution is another’s “how will you ever find a boyfriend if you don’t put yourself out there?”
    - as discussed above, focus on these issues gives a false impression of where the danger lies, leaving women most vulnerable where they are most at risk, ie. when with men they know.
    - sensible precautions don’t help. Don’t forget about the Welsh university student who, in 2005, was raped by the campus security guard who a staff member had asked to walk her home. (http://observer.guardian.co.uk/focus/story/0,,1805355,00.html) If engaging someone employed to ensure your safety isn’t going to ensure your safety, I think we can throw out sensible precautions to “avoid rape” as a giant red herring.

  11. The fact is, the “dangerous situation” women must avoid to avoid rape is living alongside men. That’s it. We are stuck in an awful Catch-22. Because while people are constantly giving us helpful advice to “prevent” rape, there’s also a lot of pressure to do the exact opposite of those things. Orlando’s point kind of touches on this. “Don’t hang around strange men” isn’t very helpful when, in order to live a normal existance, women have to socialize with men we don’t know too well. We work, we go to school, we date. When women are cautious around men we’re told we’re “paranoid” or “man-hating.” So we can’t win.

  12. Gravatar I agree with you 100% that rape is always the rapist’s fault – man or woman. It is a result of his or her choice, not a bad childhood or mental illness or whatever excuse is made. There are plenty of people who have had those same things happen to them, who may even have the urge to rape. The difference is, they CHOOSE not to act on it. If you feel like you’re out of control, there’s help available, people.

    That being said, though, I think there is a fallacy in your argument. Not taking precautions, and just expecting not to be raped because it’s all the rapist’s doing, is like stepping into a crosswalk when the light turns green, but not looking both ways first. You may be in the right, but if a car hits you, you’re just as dead.

    It’s just smart to take steps to decrease your risk as much as possible. Rapes are still going to happen; it’s something we’ve lived with as a race since the beginning. There are bad people. That’s just a fact. But it’s still a good idea to look both ways before stepping into the street.

  13. no one would ever think of not blaming the thief

    Exactly, Chuck. That’s why you wouldn’t be told “Well, what were you doing in a bar alone anyway?” or “It’s your own fault for dressing that well, of course a pickpocket would target you for looking rich,” or “Can you blame the guy for helping himself to free cash?”

    Telling a rape victim she was stupid is, in fact, blaming the victim. That’s the difference between sound advice (a la Gavin de Becker) and you-asked-for-it-bitch.

    Additionally, as Orlando points out, women constantly receive contradictory advice. Don’t be too friendly to strangers, but don’t be a paranoid bitch to a guy who’s just saying hello; don’t dress sexy, but you’re supposed to make yourself pretty; trust your boyfriend, but if he rapes you it’s your fault.

  14. “sensible precautions don’t help”? Are you kidding?

    I lived in a fairly high-crime neighborhood in south Chicago for several years. I took reasonable precautions against mugging. I didn’t reduce my chances of being mugged to zero. BTW, mythago, people do wonder about the choices of people who get mugged. One guy lost $300 in cash a block from my apartment – what was he doing with $300 in cash, alone, in the middle of the night? Certainly, blame the mugger, but think about the choices you’re making too. Yeah, and clothing matters here too. I got lost south of Market in San Francisco once, on my way to an opera. Dressed rather nicely, I was extremely uncomfortable with the looks I was getting. I’ve been in neighborhoods just as bad while wearing my usual faded jeans and metal band t-shirt and attracted a lot less attention. The complete rejection of the idea that anything other than the criminal makes a difference is silly. Urban college campuses regularly offer advice on how to avoid being the victim of a crime, and this isn’t the same as telling victims that they were stupid.

    Education of men and social pressure on them is the most important thing for preventing rape, especially given the high proportion of rapes that are by an acquaintance. But women taking reasonable precautions is still a good idea.

  15. David, you ARE aware the most rapes are done by a man the woman knows? Friends of hers, of friends of a friend. Boyfriends. People you trust to let into your home, and into your car.

    Would you consider it, then, a reasonable precaution for women to stop hanging around men socially, period? To never go on a date with one without chaperones? Never be in a social setting with them without bodyguards?

    You seem to think ‘strangers leaping out of a back alley in the dead of night’ is the common setting for rapes, but you’re very mistaken.

  16. The complete rejection of the idea that anything other than the criminal makes a difference

    …is not an argument anyone has made. The problem is that the advice women are offered is misguided, ineffective, and often extremely punitive. It’s directed at preventing the much rarer ‘stranger rape’, and asks women to severely restrict where they are, when, and how they behave constantly. Nobody would give advice like “If you want to avoid being mugged, never carry cash; always have a friend with you if you go to the ATM; dress kind of shabby so you don’t look like you might have money….”

    And, as Pai notes, most rapes are committed by people who are at least acquainted with the victim. The usual don’t-go-out-at-night sort of advice women are given is not only useless, but is counterproductive, in preventing these rapes. It’s as if we wanted to keep children from accidentally lighting fires, so we decided to warn them never to play in bright sunlight with a magnifying glass, but failed to tell them “don’t play with matches or lighters”.

    You’re quite right that there is good advice about protecting oneself from assault; Gavin de Becker has written excellent books on the subject. All of them correctly note that living in fear of stranger rape is futile, and that educating men not to be assailants is utterly necessary.

  17. The only advice that could ever protect women from rape is:
    “Avoid associating with male relatives, male co-workers, male friends, male neighbors, male classmates & male love interests. Only have relationships with women.”

  18. SarahMC: are you implying that women don’t rape other women?

  19. Anne: Why ofcourse, women are absolutely perfect with no wrong whatso ever. And if a woman rapes another woman, its the fault of the man who caused the rapist so much trauma.

    Sarcasm aside, this conaisseur has some pretty good insight on rape on his October 16 entry.

  20. Loop, a link might help.

  21. I did a little cleanup of the original piece and added a Clarifying Concept quote.

  22. [...] “Prevention Against Rape” at Feminism 101 — why it’s a myth (it’s a touchy subject, but important) [...]

  23. This one’s another good post from Shakespeare’s sister to link to:

    http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2007/12/this-is-really-shaping-up-to-be-back-to.html

    It’s by Melissa McEwan, again, and it’s a bit similar to the one you’ve already linked to, but I think it’s even better. It lists quite a few rape cases that happened within a couple of days, and Melissa does a really good job of using them to demonstrate that rapists rape all sorts of people. Young, old, fat, thin, hot and not, in all sotrs of circumstances, so it’s a powerful reminder that blaming the victims, rather than focusing on the rapist and the crime they comitted is just plain wrong.

  24. [...] There are some excellent posts about rape myths and victim blaming around. I have linked to a few in this FAQ: FAQ: What’s wrong with suggesting that women take precautions to prevent being raped?. [...]

  25. “The only advice that could ever protect women from rape is:”

    There’s certainly a lot of bogus advice out there that deserves criticism, such as ‘It’s the way your dress’. Just as there’s a middle ground between never crossing a road and crossing a road with reckless abandon, I think there’s a middle ground between avoiding men completely and the ‘there’s no reasonable precautions’.

    As an example, I’m sure most women form some sort of judgement about those they encounter, but quite possibly feel uncomfortable saying they don’t completely trust someone enough to be alone with them. I think there’s room for encouraging women to act on their judgement while creating a culture of accepting that judgement without taking offense. A sort of ‘look both ways’ at the man before you put yourself in a vulnerable position.

  26. No, Anne, I am not suggesting that women never rape other women. But it is a tiny, tiny minority of rapes. And “rape avoidance advice” is always directed at women, re: how to avoid being raped by a man.

    If anyone would like to point out something said by feminists that suggests “women are angels” or something to that affect, I’d be delighted to see it.

    For the life of me, I don’t know how people interpret “rape is bad” as “women are angels.”

  27. I think there’s room for encouraging women to act on their judgement while creating a culture of accepting that judgement without taking offense.

    Wow! We agree on something!
    There is absolutely NO USE telling women it’s OK to act on their instincts while, as a society, punishing or belittling women who do just that. Women are stuck in a real Catch-22.

  28. Wow! We agree on something!

    We probably agree with a lot of things, given that I ascribe to the ideals of freedom and equality.

    There is absolutely NO USE telling women it’s OK to act on their instincts while, as a society, punishing or belittling women who do just that.

    I think its rather condescending to suggest that women are completely at the mercy of the social pressures around them. I also think it’s naive to suggest that no women would have more confidence in avoiding risk if shown how to manage the negative social impacts.

    While in high school there were several times when ‘peer pressure’ was dealt with and it helped some kids resist the influence of their mates. Couldn’t a similar approach be taken with women and being socially pressured into situations where they are uncomfortable?

  29. Desipis, all Sarah did was rephrase your own statement. You spoke about encouraging a culture of accepting women’s judgement without offence, she spoke against the current status quo of belittling and punishing women’s judgement.

    So was it condescending when you said it, or only when Sarah said it?

  30. Desipis, all Sarah did was rephrase your own statement.

    My statement was one about two simultaneous changes (the individual & the society) which while related both would be independently positive. Her statement implied that educating individual women to take greater input from their own judgment would have no effect on its own, which I did not state and disagree with.

  31. I think its rather condescending to suggest that women are completely at the mercy of the social pressures around them.

    Me too. Who suggested that, anyway?

    Also, what tigtog said.

  32. [...] a slut?  If you are, live it and love it, and if you’re not, well, just ignore the haters.  But see, the tricky thing is that we still carry around this belief that sluts can’t be raped.  So, calling a woman a slut and getting the label to stick is not just about damaging her [...]

  33. The Real Consent Manifesto link is broken. This is the only working one I’ve found:

    http://pandagon.blogsome.com/2006/12/28/real-consent-manifesto/

  34. Thanks, Ella. I’ll fix that.

  35. [...] glad I decided to read a feminism 101 blog today. It had a link to one of the most awesome posts on rape I’ve ever read written by a man entitled “I am not my cock.” Even some of the [...]

  36. There’s a really good post here by Heather Corrina about how men can help prevent rape – it serves a useful contrast to the kind of stuff you’re talking about here.

    (I wasn’t sure where to post that link – it’s something I think could also be added to the FAQs on rape jokes and how men can be good feminist allies.)

  37. So what’s the problem with a woman carrying a pistol in case she gets robbed or raped?

    When I read precautions against being raped, the first thing that crossed my mind was handgun, or if you can’t get concealed carry, a tazer or pepper spray.

    • Oh, how helpful – not. Carry a gun, but don’t use it unless you’re already under attack, otherwise you could get arrested. If you’re already under attack, make sure your hands aren’t shaking, or the guy will just use it to shoot you!

  38. How does that help the majority of raped women who don’t get attacked by a stranger?

    I can’t imagine that I would be wearing my concealed-carry weapon at home with someone I trusted, and sadly that’s far too often the person who ends up raping a woman.

  39. It’s also of minimal use (or can be positively harmful) when the first unequivocal sign of threat involves a hands-on attack.

  40. Father Time – theoretically, any weapon you carry could be used against you.

    Here (in the state of Victoria, Australia) it’s illegal to carry a gun, pepper spray or knife in public. Handguns are – as far as I know – illegal. The police don’t even use tasers!

    Also, I don’t know if that would help improve people’s lives, or reduce the incidence of rape. It’s better to try and change attitudes, rather than bring out the weaponry.

  41. It also also gives defense counsel a handy make-your-own-reasonable-doubt kit.

  42. If you see carrying a pistol as something that is possible and desirable at all times, you really are a complete nutter.

    I live in Australia, so carrying a pistol is not legal for me. But assuming it was, I would still have to deal with the safety issues, what if a kid gets hold of it, the extra weighty object to carry around, security against theft, comfort issues with where it’s carried, etc etc etc… What the hell do I do if I”m on the beach in my swimming gear, for instance?

    Quite apart from Tigtog’s point – non-stranger rape makes up the majority of rape incidents.

    Do we want a society where it’s necessary to do this kind of thing? Stupid.

  43. It is unsafe for me to carry a gun unless I am willing to kill based on suspicion and projection, without waiting for proof of intentions. The opportunity for defence could be lost by the time I am justified in killing, especially if the assailant is an intimate acquaintance.

  44. Perhaps as a precaution women should at all times wear a badge, or a T-shirt with a slogan on it, or even just get a tattoo on our foreheads saying: “I do not want to be raped.” All those altruistic sexual assaulters out there (“Your honour, I only did it because she wanted me to”) would find it so much less confusing to channel their inner desire to be helpful.
    And *if* it doesn’t stop rape it would at least save time in court. Instead of all that searching through a victim’s sexual history, she could just point to her forehead.
    But I suppose it could be argued that the victim’s clothing distracted the assaulter from the tattoo, so maybe to clarify things the tattoo needs to be more specific: “No matter what I’m wearing, I do not ever want to be raped.”
    Or what if the victim got drunk and passed out – amend that tattoo to read: “No matter what I’m wearing/doing, I do not ever want to be raped.”
    Or what if the victim had had sex with her assaulter in the past or she’s had sex with a lot of people – amend that to: “No matter what I’m wearing/doing/what my sexual history is/whether I’ve had sex with you before, I do not ever want to be raped.”
    And it is true that occasionally men are raped too, so everyone should have the tattoo. Perhaps on our backs as well as our foreheads, just to cover all bases. It should be done at birth, sadly it’s never too early.
    However by now everyone’s forehead and back is full of writing, you could even call it small print. And no-one ever reads the small print, right?
    Hang on, I’ve got a better idea: as a precaution, why don’t we teach everyone to just ASSUME that no-one EVER wants to be raped? And even build that assumption into our legal system?
    Genius.

  45. “How does that help the majority of raped women who don’t get attacked by a stranger?”
    It doesn’t but I thought this whole thing was about being raped by srangers.

    I’ve read accounts from lots of people who claim carrying a pistol saved their life or stopped a would be mugger. I don’t blame rape victims if they chose not to carry a gun but I don’t see how it would hurt if people knew how to use them.

    “Also, I don’t know if that would help improve people’s lives, or reduce the incidence of rape. It’s better to try and change attitudes, rather than bring out the weaponry.”

    Why not both? There’s no way you’re going to change enough attitudes so that rape becomes non-existant so why not add on a practical approach or at least do something for the random would-be victims before everyone’s attitudes is changed .

  46. It doesn’t but I thought this whole thing was about being raped by srangers.

    Then you seem to have fallen for exactly the rape myths that this post is challenging.

  47. Hmmm

    I am most likely to get raped at home by a husband or someone I love and everyone is telling me to take precautions because I have reponsibility for looking after myself……

    Maybe I will no longer fall in love with men and avoid them like the plague.

    Clearly that’s the only way.

  48. Really short answer: We shouldn’t have to.

  49. If I could play Devil’s Advocate* for a second. By analogy are we also saying that no one should think about locking their car? Clearly, we shouldn’t have to worry about being burgled. The fault lies with the buglers not the property owners but… taking that precaution could prevent me from being robbed.

    You could argue that by me locking my car am I just making the burgler’s decision of which car to rob easier? I am just shifting who is the victim, but the outcome would still be better for me personally if I take that precaution. Advice to lock my car would therefore seem reasonable and yet this is precisely what we are against in regard to stranger rapes.

    Is this a philosophy we can apply to other situations where one person perpatrates a crime against another. The (potential) victim should not be advised to take any precaution? When your friends or the police ask, ‘Was the car locked?’ are they balming the victim? What about the advice we give to school children ‘not to talk to strangers,’ this is also the same thing, no?

    I can see the reasons we don’t want to tell women to take precautions but I find it really hard to reconcile the dichotomy with how we treat these other situations. Does anyone have any insight on how they are different, or do we need to change our attitude here too?

    *Please look up the term before deciding what type of poster I am.

    • @kandela, your Devil’s Advocacy is looking at the wrong part of the reaction to the crime in your comparison.

      Sure, people do ask questions about whether cars are locked or whether a child spoke to the stranger, but that’s not where the inequity and the insult lies.

      In theft and attacks on children, the fact that the victim did not take every precaution possible is NEVER put forward by the defence as some sort of justification for the crime. In rape, we see that ALL the time.

    • I agree with tig-tog, the distinction is, well, distinct.

      For example, my husband walks in a gloomy part of the city well known for its random violence, flaunting his laptop bag, and gets mugged. We chastise him: “Why were you walking down there with your computer at that time of night? What were you thinking?” We might claim that my husband was careless. We would NOT claim that the mugger was justified in attacking my husband because of the location he chose, nor would we claim that my husband deserved to be mugged.

      Lets swap genders and crimes and see what happens. My niece is walking in the same area, she’s wearing a short skirt, she’s raped by a stranger. She might be chastised in the same way: “What were you doing in that area dressed like that? what were you thinking?” We might claim that my niece was careless. However, and this is where the difference kicks in, what we also see is the behaviour of the perpetrator justified. We DO hear claims that the rapist was justified in raping the victim because of the location and clothing she chose. We DO hear claims that she deserved to be raped.

      There is a dichotomy in the way the situations are treated, but I think you may be focussing on the wrong one.

      • So the distinction then, seems to be what the warning implies, and in particular the way the victims are treated post crime. I would posit, however, that not all warnings are the same. The types of general warnings circulated by society, to not wear x, are not the same as specific warnings. Is it fair to say that a general warnings about rape socialise blaming the victim but that specific warnings don’t? If I tell a woman to avoid the park because there has been a spate of rapes recently is that different to warning a man to avoid the park because there has been a spate of knife attacks recently? I ask this question because I have never heard the distinction being made in feminist literature.

        Also, there are other arguments we apply to not giving out warnings too. In particular we say that doing so creates a culture of fear and mistrust. Yet it seems to me that the same thing applies when we warn children about not talking to strangers. Such warnings to children are state sponsored, but I would think that they are not ok for (some of) the same reasons that general warnings about rape are not ok. I can remember as a child being scared walking home because I had these stranger danger warnings in my head; I’m sure others have had the same experience. Additionally the negative affect on men around children is similar to that directed at men who cross paths with women late at night. It is often argued that fear directed at men from these types of warnings turns them into potential monsters that we should keep at arm’s length. Are these arguments not as valid as the one you responded with?

        lauredhel and Stevie, I chose that particular analogy for convenience (I don’t suggest that a person’s body is equivalent to their possessions) but the same things can be said about warning people about violent muggings or children about potential kidnappers. We give the same types of warnings when there is potential for crimes to be perpetrated against people. When I began at the job I’m currently at I was warned several times about not travelling through the adjacent park at night because of people being stabbed there in the recent past.

  50. “Does anyone have any insight on how they are different”

    Well Kandela, how about the fact that cars and wallets to inanimate objects, with no life and no consciousness. The compare them to potential rape victim strips those victims of their humanity and massively down plays the harm that is caused by rape. Your analogy is down right insulting. If you fail to see the difference between a crime committed against an object and a crime committed against a person then perhaps you need to review how you see your fellow human beings.

    (Yes, I concede that in the eyes of law you have committed an offense against another person when you take their wallet, but I argue that you have acted indirectly against them, whereas in the case of rape, a person is always being directly acted against).

  51. My response is very simple: My vagina is neither money nor electrical goods nor car; my body is neither laptop bag nor wallet nor unlocked window; and I don’t engage in any argument that suggests that such an analogy is reasonable.

    Back to basics: the radical notion that women are people.

  52. I want to point one thing out: women rape, too. It is not just men who violate women, but women violate women, women violate men, and men violate men.
    I’m not sure if this is entirely pertinent, but I am tired of the assumption that only men rape, which has been illustrated in this post/

    • Is there something about the concept of the FAQ that you do not understand?

      This post is a response to a Frequently Asked Question, about a phenomenon that happens all the time – women are advised to take precautions against rape that are (a) largely inaccurate because the overestimate stranger danger and ignore acquaintance/date rape and (b) amount to recommending that women confine themselves and restrict their freedoms.

      Sure, there are plenty of other issues to discuss about rape, including the fact that women can also be rapists, but they are not especially on topic when discussing the issues surrounding this particular Frequently Asked Question.

    • Vanessa, that was an entirely ridiculous comment.

      Have you ever head of a little thing called STATISTICAL DATA? While there are certainly some women out there who commit sex crimes, they are in the minority. Men are still the number one perpetrators (by a landslide) of violent & sexual-based crimes. When and if you go walking alone at night, can you honestly say that you’re fearful that a random woman may pop out from behind a tree and, uh, “rape” you with a broom handle? I seriously doubt it.

      No, it is almost always a MALE criminal that we are all fearful of encountering (even men are afraid of being attacked by other men). I don’t know where you live (some remote island inhabited by Amazons, perhaps?) but in my neck of the woods, 99.9% of the time, it is a man who is raping someone… and I’m being incredibly generous with that estimation.

      When women DO rape, it usually occurs in prison, and the victim is female too. You would be hard-pressed to find a case of female-on-male rape, and I have honestly never heard of a female serial rapist… EVER (keep in mind that I’m talking about women who act alone, not those who were “helping” their boyfriends or husbands to commit crimes).

      Also, why did you mention “men violating men”? How is that supposed to dispute anything that has been said here? Regardless of the gender of the victim, the perpetrator is almost always male. You can’t argue with facts.

      • In the church I attended while growing up, three or four girls I knew snuck into a boy’s tent when they were spending the night with a neighbor living nearby and raped him. It does happen and it IS under-reported. It never went to court because the families involved didn’t want the scandal and everyone involved was under 18. Never even got reported to the police. I heard about it unofficially from one of the girls’ sisters.

        The unfortunate cultural bias is it’s okay to rape women. The flip side to that is when a man is raped you can bloody bet he isn’t going to come forward with it. It is NOT okay for a man to be raped, he’s supposed to be tough and manly, able to fight off all attackers with a single punch. The cultural stigma is just as bad as if a woman is raped, plus he gets the heckling not for not being a guy who failed in the one thing guys are supposed to excel at – defending himself. On top of which there’s the general public’s refusal to believe since, hey! men don’t get raped…so he turns into a public joke. This is better than what happens when a woman is raped how?

        While I doubt it happens as much as rape of women, I would bet my life on it happening far more often than people prefer to admit. Having been a victim of female violence although being female myself, I am not inclined to let any form of abuse be excused. That nobody reports is NOT a reason to minimize it. One form of abuse is just as bad as the next and if you aren’t willing to stand against all of them you might as well not bother standing against any.

  53. [...] Sometimes I like to read through the recent comments on the Feminism 101 blog.  One topic is called “What wrong with suggesting that women take precautions against being raped?” I’ve written about this topic on my own before about the obvious answer to that question, [...]

  54. tigtog, I understand the concept of the FAQ. I also understand that this may not be the appropriate forum. I just felt it needed to be addressed. Thank you for being respectful.

    Sweet Honesty, I think your comment was wildly inappropriate and rude. You may not agree with me, but you don’t need to insult me.

    As for statistical data, as you must be aware, most times rape and sexual assault are not reported. So how accurate is that statistical data? And no, I am not fearful a woman will randomly rape me on the street at night. Mostly because, as I’m sure you are aware, most of the time the perpetrator is someone the victim knows. And I resent that you put rape in quotation marks. Being sexually assaulted by a woman is just as much rape as being sexually assaulted by a man.

    Where I live is not relevant. The fact that I was sexually assaulted by another female is. I was not in prison. Your assumptions about female rapists are just as detrimental as telling a women to take precautions to avoid being raped. It is ignorant to assume just because you personally have never heard of such incident that it doesn’t happen.

    Furthermore, have you ever considered that your assumptions, and other people that share them, prevent victims from coming forth?

    As for my comment about “men violating men”, it was simply to illustrate that gender doesn’t determine who is a rapist and who isn’t.

    • “I think your comment was wildly inappropriate and rude. You may not agree with me, but you don’t need to insult me.”

      I didn’t insult you. I have re-read my comment, and I did not find any type of personal attack(s) directed at you. Nor did I see anything that would qualify as “wildly inappropriate”. I have every right to disagree with you, and I can’t help it if you are insulted by a difference of opinion.
      ——————————–

      “As for statistical data, as you must be aware, most times rape and sexual assault are not reported. So how accurate is that statistical data?”

      Yes, many rapes are not reported, but the ones that are reported are representative of a trend; more often than not, men are the perpetrators in sexual crimes. Although there are certainly some women who are capable of such a thing, the bigger picture (eg. history. nature, social conditioning, statistics etc.) reveals that men are still the primary offenders in this particular area of criminal activity. There’s no doubt about that.
      ———————————

      “And I resent that you put rape in quotation marks. Being sexually assaulted by a woman is just as much rape as being sexually assaulted by a man.”

      I’m not suggesting that it’s any less traumatic, but I am saying that the aftermath is quite different. A woman who is raped by a man must deal with the possibility of a pregnancy (which serves as a permanent reminder of the incident) and contraction of HIV (clearly a death sentence). Female-on-female rape typically involves some type of instrumentation or oral sex; neither of these (especially the former) are fertile grounds for HIV contraction. Life-threatening STD’s, along with a potential unwanted pregnancy, further contributes to the pain & suffering of a woman who is raped by a man.

      So, to clarify: The initial trauma may be similar, but in the long-term, resulting consequences differ greatly.
      —————————————

      “Where I live is not relevant. The fact that I was sexually assaulted by another female is. I was not in prison. Your assumptions about female rapists are just as detrimental as telling a women to take precautions to avoid being raped. It is ignorant to assume just because you personally have never heard of such incident that it doesn’t happen.”

      Okay… you’re just putting words in my mouth, now. I didn’t say that I have “never heard” of a female rapist. Why would I bring up prison rape, if that were the case? Your lack of reading comprehension skills is no fault of mine. The only assumption I am going to make (because your lack of information has given me no choice) is that you’re a female victim of a female rapist. If that is correct, then I am sorry for you. I sincerely hope that you’re not another MRA troll trying to disrupt feminist dialogue. The last thing we need to hear is “Hey, women rape too!!”, because it’s pretty much akin to pointing out a speck of dirt on a broken window. We must first repair the window (which is damaged by patriarchy) before we can even begin to worry about that tiny, random spot of dust. Any logical person will prioritize; addressing the biggest and most urgent problems first, and then focus their attention on the other stuff.
      ————————————-

      “Furthermore, have you ever considered that your assumptions, and other people that share them, prevent victims from coming forth?”

      No… because I’ve never advised anybody to not report a rape. Geeesh….

      Also, once again, I didn’t make any assumptions. I spoke of FACTS, nothing more.
      ———————————–

      “As for my comment about “men violating men”, it was simply to illustrate that gender doesn’t determine who is a rapist and who isn’t.”

      Eh… what?

      So…. saying that men rape men proves that men don’t commit the most rapes???? You’ve lost me now.

      Uh, you know that actually “illustrates” the very point I was making, right?

      • Ok, because it’s a direct rebuttal, I’ll let this over-length comment stand.

        You have, however, been informed of the comments policy regarding lengthy comments on another thread where another of your comments was moderated for length, yet you made no note or apology for the length of this comment above nor any undertaking to keep your comments more brief in future.

        You are therefore now placed into preemptive moderation. Keep your comments to 3 paragraphs/300 words or they will not be published in future.

      • I am not insulted by a difference in opinion. However, I found your comment about “a random woman” that “may pop out from behind a tree and, uh, “rape” you with a broom handle?”, as well as the comment about living on “some remote island inhabited by Amazons”, to be condescending.

        I can’t argue with you that the aftermath differs, at least, on a physical level. Thank you for clarifying that. Once again, your choice of words seemed rather belittling to me.

        I also can’t argue that men are most often the perpetrators. However, you implied that women almost never rape, and that most women are incapable of raping. While the percentage of women rapists may be considerably smaller than that of men, it is enough to be recognized.

        I did not put words into your mouth.
        “When women DO rape, it usually occurs in prison, and the victim is female too. You would be hard-pressed to find a case of female-on-male rape, and I have honestly never heard of a female serial rapist… EVER (keep in mind that I’m talking about women who act alone, not those who were “helping” their boyfriends or husbands to commit crimes).”
        Just because you have never heard of a female serial rapist does not mean they are nonexistent.

        I’m not sure what lack of information you are talking about, but I am certainly not a MRA troll. I am a (female) feminist that was sexually assaulted by another female.

        I concede that there is a bigger picture here. I am sorry for getting carried away and becoming emotional and a little irrational. It is irritating that many people believe women do not rape, and it is something I would really like people to be aware of. However, I realize this is not the place to do that.

        To clear things up, because I have so poorly expressed my intended meaning, I will quote Julie Z from fbomb: “Feminists must remember that men are sometimes the victims of sexual assault; not just women. Also, men are not always the assailant. While, statistically, women are usually raped by men at a much greater level, one must never forget that unconventional sexual assault is still sexual assault.”

      • Once again, your choice of words seemed rather belittling to me.

        And once again, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Keep in mind that tone cannot be conveyed over the internet.

        Just because you have never heard of a female serial rapist does not mean they are nonexistent.

        Does this mean that you have heard of one? If so, who?

        It is irritating that many people believe women do not rape

        I don’t think anybody thinks that “women don’t rape”. It’s more along the lines of “a very small percentage of women rape”. It is in violation of our gender-specific socialization, which is why everyone is so shocked when it does happen.

        I used to go to to a LGBT bar. A couple of the lesbian ladies hit on me. When I told then “no thanks, I’m straight”, they accepted that and moved on. My experiences with men have been quite different; many of them don’t take rejection well. Men are socialized in a way that teaches them that women are not unlike property; I think that (among so many other reasons) explains why they do most of the raping.

  55. You have, however, been informed of the comments policy regarding lengthy comments on another thread where another of your comments was moderated for length, yet you made no note or apology for the length of this comment above nor any undertaking to keep your comments more brief in future.

    Sorry. Whichever comment it was, I didn’t revisit the topic, and so I was not aware that I had done that.

    Where was it?

  56. Okay.

    I’ll try to figure out how to edit it so that it will meet the guidelines… and still make sense. LOL

    Anyhow, it wont happen again.

  57. Wow this is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. The word “street smarts” come to mind; it’s like saying you shouldn’t be careful of muggers walking through the bad part of town at night, because “such an attitude makes *you* the victim, not the mugger.”

    Just because a certain group of people take the sick viewpoint that it’s the victim’s fault (for whatever reason), doesn’t mean you should not teach women basic street smarts (and, depending on where they live, at the very least carry around pepper spray).

    It has nothing to do with sexuality, and frankly it’s not a womens issue exclusively (plenty of men are sexually assaulted, usually by other men I admit). There are always criminals in any area; learning to avoid them is an important skill.

  58. These appeals to common sense and “street smarts” and “shouldn’t we teach women…?” all assume that women do not possess common sense, basic street smarts, and need to be taught how to avoid criminals as if women are especially deficient in this regard. We are not. The only way women could sufficiently avoid rapists is if we were psychic. Rather than blaming women for not being psychic, a much better rape prevention strategy would focus on the people who do the raping.

  59. In my experience, there are many people (men and women) who do not possess very good street smarts. It’s also stupid to take the attitude that “let’s focus on the people who do the raping”, when that assumes that people don’t already do that.

    This attitude that “well, the only reason to teach women these skills is because it’s all their fault” is just idiotic. The truth is, police cannot make every single place on the world safe all the time. There are plenty of places people should avoid, not simply because of the possibility of rape but also of being mugged, or assaulted, or things like that.

    Honestly, this whole article seems to make the assumption that teaching *women* (what about men? plenty of guys need to know this stuff too) basic street smarts *must* be to the exclusion of cracking down on rapists, which is just stupid. It’s idiotic, men-hating, and annoying.

    There is never a guarantee that taking precautions for *anything* will work. When we drive, we’re taught to take all these precautions to make us safe; it’s called defensive driving. But even the most cautious driver can still get in a serious accident. Arguing that you shouldn’t teach defensive driving simply because it doesn’t work 100% of the time would be stupid.

    It’s the same thing here. Now, if someone is blaming you for not being cautious enough, that’s their problem. Instead of arguing that you shouldn’t teach people to take precautions at all, a more effective solution is to teach people to take precautions, while emphasizing that not all precautions work all the time, and that blaming the victim for *whatever* reason is wrong.

  60. People act like women aren’t taking precautions, because they see every completed rape as the result of something a woman failed to do and not as a series of acts a rapist performed till he found the right victim. We’re trained to blame women. We’re trained to erase men from rape. We don’t say, “A man raped a woman.” We say, “She got raped.”

    And we also get really really defensive about the realities of rape. Men rape. Men rape in such huge numbers that the number of women who do so by comparison, statistically, is non-existent. Men invented it, refined it, and use it every day. Other men profit by it. Yet when mens’ fans want to talk about rape, they only want to talk about women raping men. Not women raping women, no—just tit for tat, a complete reversal of reality. They especially don’t want to talk about men raping women, every day, every few seconds, all over the world, and then often being the very people who sentence her to death for the crime of being raped. Show me where women wield that power over men.

    People whine that it’s not unreasonable to expect women to protect themselves, but why isn’t it reasonable to expect people to step in, to watch for rapists on the hunt, to step in and do something? And nobody respects the work women do in already protecting themselves. No, women get treated like they’re stupid if a man raped them. We look for what she did wrong, because that’s what we get taught since birth. We don’t question whether it’s reasonable or not to abandon women to the crimes of men, whether it’s reasonable to in effect grant men carte blanche in raping women.

    And then people wonder why feminists get so disgusted.

  61. This was always kind of a sticking point with me, because I see the solution of the rape issue as a two-pronged effort; correcting the intricate web of social forces that allow and encourage men to rape, and helping women deal with and potentially avert a rape situation should one arise.

    Is it really impossible to do the latter without the implication that a woman is at fault if she is raped? I would never blame a rape victim for missing the warning signs or for not evading the situation, but surely it’s not counterproductive to pre-emptively raise awareness about such warning signs and potential tactics?

  62. Yes, it is impossible, because who hasn’t heard all this crappy advice before? And if you say something to “Well, you should have done this ….” to a woman who’s been raped, you ARE blaming the victim.

    The fact is, there is nothing more that women can do to prevent rape. The only thing we could do is to lock ourselves away from every other human being possible, until every woman is isolated from every other human being alive.

    It’s always been mens’ fault. It’s always been their responsibility. Women can’t do any more.

  63. Don’t be ridiculous. Saying that men always say things like “well, you should have done this. . .” is offensive. I resent it. And you can’t just shove off all responsibility to men. You have to take responsibility too, and not blame every man alive for the action of one.

    And just because someone had a bad experience doesn’t give them the license to mess up every other woman’s life up. Blaming all men for the actions of criminals is just a way to avoid taking responsibility for protecting yourself; women are just as capable of learning to protect themselves as men. Claiming that this simple concept somehow paints a woman as “responsible” for her own rape is stupid. Anyone who says so is an asshole, but I’ll bet that as many women have made that comment as men.

    There is a clear difference between learning first aid and criticizing someone performing it. It’s the same basic principle here. No one is implying that it’s all your fault because you didn’t follow all the little safety rules; we’re adults, not young children.

  64. Your reply is exactly why this blog was formed. I really don’t know where to start, but would it be asking ever too much of you to actually read the comments, the blog, and pick up something like Against Our Will with an open mind? I frankly don’t think you will because you’re so eager to take offense while pretending to be seeking enlightenment. I also notice you haven’t taken the trouble to read my comment at all.

    Cheers, then. Maybe somebody else hasn’t gotten exasperated with this exact sentiment but I have, and unless you shape up, I’m not wasting my time.

  65. I should be clear that I’m not implying that men are super-capable of protecting themselves; if I was that would make the above comment rather offensive. My point is that failure to protect oneself can happen to both genders (with respect to crime in general, not rape in specific).

  66. Did you miss the whole point of this blog, then? And this particular post? We’re not talking about men. We’re talking about women and why telling them repeatedly that they basically need to stop letting themselves get raped is so damned stupid.

  67. “. . .We’re talking about women and why telling them repeatedly that they basically need to stop letting themselves get raped is so damned stupid”

    You’re generalizing quite a bit. The full extent of advice given in my own social network tends to amount to avoiding the bad part of town. It’s very simplistic, and certainly doesn’t carry any sociopolitical overtones (my parents consciously chose to reject patriotism early in their marriage, so I might simply be missing the point because I have no real experience with it). From my point of view, it’s very good advice (avoid the bad part of town applies to men too, after all).

    I wasn’t really familiar with the culture of fear many woman experience before I read the handy links at the bottom of this page. It sounds very nasty, and has certainly made me realize that giving special “protection” (usually in the form of advice) to women who don’t need it is very negative. I still believe there are basic safety information everyone needs to know, but I understand now that going out of my way to give paranoid advice to the women in my life based on my own fears does more harm then good.

    I certainly know what living in fear is like, being as small and weak as I am, and being gay. It’s kindof different for me I think, since I don’t talk from a position of strength, I talk from a position of equal weakness. I didn’t realize there was all this drama of perceptions that goes on, between the two genders. I apologize.

  68. Dude, you have a long way to go, and aside from which, I’m not playing oppression olympics with you. Being gay is something you can conceal; being female is what I am, every day, every minute, all the time.

    Just off the top of my head, here’s some issues you raise, and which have been addressed by other commenters, by this post, by feminists since shortly after the Earth’s crust cooled: Rape does not happen just in the ‘bad parts of town.’ Men rape their neighbors, sisters, daughters, co-workers, ex-wives, etc., etc.,….They rape women whose faces they see every day far more often than strangers rape women in dark alleys. Factor that into your ‘common sense advice’ or whatever it was. Men rape women in offices, living rooms, in police cars, in parks, at beaches, in hospitals…..This ‘common sense’ advice erases the reality of rape and substitutes one which enables large potions of the population to maintain their sexism and their ignorance.

    If women follow this ‘common sense advice’ they will often be treated with hostility, sarcasm, contempt. “What’s the matter? You hate men?”

    To address an earlier poster who suggested guns were the answer, really? When we live in a culture now where a bunch of guys can gang rape an unconsious woman and get acquitted?! Where so many people are so willfully uniformed about rape that they have to be informed that stranger rape is, in fact, far less common than acquaintance rape? Where women so fear—rightfully—that their friends and acquaintances will attack them for ‘being not careful enough’ that most rapes go unreported? Let’s face it, in this culture, a woman doesn’t have any realistic right to self defense, unless of course she’s a twelve-year-old virgin dressed all in white on her way to Sunday School, where she’s going to swear before God and man that all she wants to do is be a nun. Oh, and her rapist better have been convicted about twelve times before of rape, on videotape, of nuns, plus it wouldn’t hurt if he robbed banks and did crack and all that stuff, too.

    All this advice requires women to live in more fear than they already do, and some women, frankly, are fed up with it. Which is why the only solution to to cut the shit and start putting men in jail, then building more jails if we have to, until men start actually bestirring themselves and saying to one another, “Dude, that is so not cool.” And, well, if they didn’t act like at the least a cookie would be nice, too, that would be a bonus.

  69. You know, I was trying to be rational and open-minded. I pretty much admitted that you were right, but your own emotional reaction was to attack me. I certainly wasn’t trying to compete in the helpless factor (did I mention I’m disabled?), I was trying to be empathetic. I honestly didn’t know the full story, and while I think there are generic safety advice that applies to everyone, paranoid advice directed at women is far more damaging then good.

    You still seem to blame men quite a bit in your posts. The truth is that many people are confused by this because they have no personal experience with the consequences, not because they are bad people.

  70. Wow. I’m angry at rapists. God, if only that weren’t fair and appropriate!

    You’re disabled? Really? Want a cookie? Or do you just want to avoid listening to women about how we live and what lesser lives we lead? You’re tyring to do two things at once here: You’re denying that you’re privileged (like those bad guys!) but at the same time you want to make sure you’re still special—more special than women you could be listening to, and doing the learning you’re supposedly in search of.

  71. What do you know of me? I bet that there’s one thing you can do that I can: work. Most likely, you can support yourself, while I cannot. Tell me, how am I more privileged then you? How exactly are you “lesser” then me? You are capable of supporting yourself; that’s something I’ve often dreamed off and spend years trying to achieve.

    I am fundamentally lesser then other people. I am completely disabled, but look absolutely normal. I can’t work, I’m constantly dizzy, I’m in pain all the time, just getting to sleep is often some of the worse pain I’ve ever felt, it’s hard to move, and people constantly give me crap because they won’t believe I’m disabled. I’ve seen doctors, gone to the ER on several occasions, none of whom have ever taken me seriously because I look so absolutely normal.

    You want to talk about prejudices? Do you realize how much you judge someone based on their appearance? What about the many people like me, who are judged to be lazy and are often punished for trying to succeed in life, since anyone who’s that sick should stay home and rest? Or the equally common version, anyone whose that sick for that long must be doing something wrong and it’s their own fault?

    So don’t whine about how much “lesser” you are. Or how “hard” your life is. I guarantee that my life is far worse then yours.

    • joeedh, might I gently suggest that some of the reaction you are receiving from ginmar is because she actually knows very intimately indeed what it is to be invisibly disabled?

      I suggest you take a few steps back on some of the assumptions you are making about your interlocutors here.

  72. Thank you, Tigtog. It’s one thing to compare symptoms and take strength from not being alone, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on here.

    I also note that I suspect there’s more than a dash here of: You can’t be sick, you’re literate, fairly intelligent, and angry, which always makes people nervous around women but doubly so around those who refuse to lounge on a recamier like the Empress Josephine, looking appropriately delicate—and by inference, unthreatening, dependent, decorative, and helpless.

  73. “I also note that I suspect there’s more than a dash here of: You can’t be sick, you’re literate, fairly intelligent, and angry–”

    Where is that supposed to be coming from? I’m really confused here, I’m not sure how exactly I’m eliciting these outbursts, or maybe they’re not even directed at me at all? I admitted giving women paranoid safety tips is bad, and you come back with this long post debunking points I wasn’t making. Then there’s this. You apparently have some sort of disabling problem as well, but I certainly didn’t pick up any sign of it, just a lot of talk about how horrific all woman’s lives are.

    I have no idea what’s going on. It’s a little ridiculous to claim that attitude from me, when I was complaining about getting that same attitude from others. Maybe you’re talking about something totally different, I dunno.

  74. Uh, Joe, when you use shit like ‘outbursts’ and whine about how you’re SO MUCH MORE DISABLED than the mean nasty feminists, it’s not the first time some dewd has used that tactic. You are just determined to be the victim here, and seeing as how you’re the one trying to wrench the topic around to yourself it’s a bit much. I notice you didn’t give a damned bit of consideration to Tigtog’s comment.

  75. Ginmar, stop putting words in my mouth. I’m sick of it. I’m not trying to wrench the conversation or do anything of the kind, you’re the one who keeps blowing up at me over things I originally didn’t want to make a big deal off. I’m saying I understand your plight and sympathize, *not* that I’m so much worse then you and so you shouldn’t complain; your the one who turned around and gave me crap about how much worse off *you* are, and how horrible I am. I only went into so much detail because *you* gave *me* crap.

    I was only trying to be sympathetic, since all of us with these disadvantages need to band together. You had to blow up and produce all this drama. I’m not denying women have problems, nor that you yourself do, nor am I trying to turn this around on me, or try and make me more special then women, or [abuse ROT-13 encrypted by moderator] jungrire nofbyhgr shpxvat fuvg lbh’ir pbzr hc jvgu gbqnl. V whfg jnagrq gb ernpu bhg naq fhccbeg crbcyr va cnva, nffubyr, abg trg nggragvba.[/ROT-13 encryption] Bleh!

  76. Yeah, you’re only trying to be sympathetic, what with nailing yourself upon the cross with that long description of how pitiful you are, stop being so meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen to you.

    Once again, dewd, you’re not the first guy who’s said this, done this, tried this. Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you are the reason why this blog exists and you’re just providing an example. Read and learn, but you started this shit off and now you’re whining that it’s not working the way you want it to.

  77. I missed the rational, sympathetic, and open minded bits.
    Keep trying though.

  78. Moderator Note: This post has been encrypted in rot-13 because it is abusive and may contain PTSD triggers, and I’m not allowing people to come across that unwarned on this blog.

    Jung gur uryy? Ner lbh crbcyr fb shpxvat ovnfrq lbh frr bcra-zvaqrq crbcyr nf ovtbgf? V zrna, pbzr ba, V xrrc lvryqvat cbvagf naq trggvat fubhgrq ng bire vg. V’z abg gelvat gb znegle zlfrys, ohg V nz n yvggyr frafvgvir gb crbcyr jub qvfzvff zl ceboyrzf (“unir n pbbxvr”), rfcrpvnyyl pbzovarq jvgu rirelguvat ryfr tvazne unf fnvq. V hfhnyyl gel gb haqre-nppraghngr zl qvfnovyvgl, ohg vs fbzrbar zbpxf vg gung jnl V trg (evtugshyyl, V guvax) ernyyl znq. V pregnvayl unir arire vagraqrq gb zbpx tvazne’f qvfnovyvgl, juvpu V fgvyy ab abguvat nobhg naq jnf ercbegrq ol fbzrbar ryfr! V’z abg gryrcnguvp lbh xabj.

    Jung cbvag rknpgyl nz V zvffvat? Tvivat jbzra encr-ceriragvba “gvcf” vf pbhagre-cebqhpgvir, lrf V pna frr gung abj. Jbzra bsgra gvzrf yvir va srne, naq zra pbzzbayl nggnpx gurz sbe orvat gbb “erirnyvat” naq “vaivgvat” encr. Lrf, guvf vf hasbetvinoyr, naq V pregnvayl vagraq gb arire, rire qb gurfr guvatf. Fb jung vg vf? Jung rknpgyl nz V qbvat? V xrrc trggvat nggnpxrq sbe guvatf V qba’g zrna!

    Fb gryy zr jung rknpgyl V’z shpxvat zvffvat. V’ir gevrq gb or engvbany naq bcra-zvaqrq, ohg V xrrc ba trggvat nggnpxrq sbe vg. V rira gevrq orvat flzcngurgvp, naq tbg abguvat ohg natre va erghea.

    Jung vf tbvat ba? V srry yvxr V’z fheebhaqvat ol crbcyr gnyxvat va n frperg pbqr gung unccraf gb fbhaq yvxr ratyvfu cebfr, naq jura V erfcbaq gb gurz gurl trg rknpgyl gur bccbfvgr zrffntr.

    • MODERATOR NOTE: Right now, right in the middle of the holidays, I’m just not up to moderating this thread and I’m not coping well with getting this level of aggression in my inbox. I’m closing this thread to comments for a day or two. Do not try and continue this discussion on any other thread here.

  79. The reasons you don’t know one damned thing about me or my disabilities, Joe, is because you didn’t ask, and because I don’t fucking make a habit of bludgeoning people over the head with it when I can’t win on the merits.

    I notice that you haven’t noticed that we’re talking about poor little Joe. And the topic is victim blaming and responsibility shifting. Wonder why that is, Joe? Do you think it could possibly have something to do with you?

  80. OK, comments have been opened again now, but joeedh is in permanent moderation after viewing his efforts over at ginmar’s joint. Joe, if you make a comment that abides by the comment policy here and shows a glimmering of clue, it will be approved for publication. Otherwise not.

    Two free clues based on what I saw at ginmar’s:
    1. Demanding that others tell you details of their disability is rude at best. People have good reasons for not putting their disabilities front and center in any discussion, and they are under no obligation to disclose them to anyone else just because the other person also claims to have a disability.
    2. Demanding that women tell you details of their rape experiences to prove to you that they know what rape is all about is beyond rude. That is just plain fucking creepy. Also? Triggering as hell.

    You will not get positive responses as long as you are trying either of these bullying/manipulative tactics.
    If you are genuinely unaware that these questions were bullying and manipulative, then your upbringing was badly fucked up and has given you a very flawed understanding of social dynamics. You need some professional help dealing with that before you try and engage other people in discussion on the internet.

  81. Has anybody ever seen somebody who likes to dole out “common sense” safety tips to women give their guy friends “common sense” advice like that drunkenness isn’t the equivalent of sexual consent? Because I haven’t. Ever.
    Matter of fact, the people who advocate most strongly that women should take “common sense” safety precautions are always the ones that scream “man hating!” the loudest when somebody puts the onus on dudes to not rape people.

  82. But…but…bros can’t help it, yo! Their awesome sexual urges are so powerful that they can’t be controlled, and to even suggest that men attempt to harness this awe-inspiring Penis Power is nothing short of….Yeah, man-hating.

  83. You have probably seen these “tips” before.
    I snicked them from Ann Bartow a few months ago.

    Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!

    1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.

    2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!

    3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!

    4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.

    5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!

    6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.

    7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.

    8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.

    9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!

    10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.

    • thebewilderness says:
      Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!

      I was all prepared to be annoyed over this, and instead i’m falling down laughing. I have never seen anything like this.

  84. I’ve seen those tips, thebewilderness. I loves them. I bet there’s a lot of people out there who consider them “misandrist” though. “You’re assuming that all men are potential rapists!” As if admonishing women who go to bars to never let their drinks out of their sight doesn’t assume the same thing.

  85. “But…but…bros can’t help it, yo! Their awesome sexual urges are so powerful that they can’t be controlled, and to even suggest that men attempt to harness this awe-inspiring Penis Power is nothing short of….Yeah, man-hating.”

    Why is that acceptable but things I accidentally implied are horrendously offensive?

    • @joeedh

      Ginmar’s comment is parodying the attitude of the people mentioned in snobographer’s comment:

      Matter of fact, the people who advocate most strongly that women should take “common sense” safety precautions are always the ones that scream “man hating!” the loudest when somebody puts the onus on dudes to not rape people.

      The comment seems to me a fair summary of the attitude these people take: they are the ones who end up arguing that men are not capable of controlling themselves when it comes to sexual urges and coercing women to accede to them. Ginmar’s comment is mocking that opinion.

      You weren’t thinking that ginmar was expressing her own beliefs, were you? Because that would not speak very highly of your capacity for comprehension.

    • MODERATOR NOTE: joeedh, you are failing to display any glimmerings of clue in your latest comment submissions, which therefore will not be published. It certainly appears that you have not read this blog’s comments policy, or else you would not just have submitted 3 comments in a row, no?

      Also, no further communication from you in email please.

      BIG HUGE HONKING CLUE: Stop derailing this thread to make it all about you. Further submissions which do not address the actual topic of the post – i.e. the ineffective and life-limiting advice given to women about how to avoid rape – will be deleted without comment.

      • joeedh has continued to send me emails despite being asked not to.

        Do you not see yet that continuing to communicate via email when you have been explicitly asked not to is all part of the bullying and manipulative behaviour for which you are being challenged in this thread? Insisting on your name continuing to appear in my inbox is an attempt at intimidation, which will not work because your email address has now been placed into my bozo filter, which removes further emails from my inbox so I don’t have to see them but which also archives each email in a subfolder for future reference if required. I rarely check the bozo bin except when I am really bored, so enjoy.

        You are still allowed to submit comments here, but unless you acknowledge that your past experiences with disability and abuse are not a Get Out Of Internet Arseholery Free card then you are unlikely to see them published. I suggest you back off for 24 hours before submitting another comment here.

    • That’s not an entirely relevant link, although it is tangentially related. Considering that most rape of males, just like most rape of females, involves the deliberate isolation/incapacitation of the victim by somebody they trusted socially, what good is most of the advice that assumes that rapists are strangers who jump out of bushes?

  86. He’s still trying to make it all about him. He doesn’t give a shit about anybody but himself.

    Do you log IPs? I might need to compare some with you.

  87. I find it encouraging that joe came here of the opinion that this post was “stupid” and came to understand, as he stated in his post that got encrypted, that the safety tips discussed here are fear-mongering, victim-blaming, and ineffective. My impression is that the purpose of this blog is to generate that kind of understanding.
    I’m not sure what he wants at this point though, or what good he expects to come from name-calling, following people around the internet, and demanding validation. My unsolicited advice to joe is if a place on the internet is making you this upset, log off for a while. Also, try lurking. If your first reaction to a blog post is “this is stupid and you’re all assholes,” there’s no law that says you have to actually type that out and hit the submit button.

  88. Well, it’s a bit more complicated. Joe wanted to take sympathy away from female rape victims and get it for himself: he called the readers at my places bitches, he employed every minimizing tactic in the MRA handbook, and in short, he behaved like every male troll ever. He tried to silence women, and when that didn’t work, he tried to use his disability—if that’s even true—to excuse his assholishness. All of these are classic ways men manipulate women online, especially in discussions of feminism.

  89. [Moderator Note: text specific to joeedh's communications deleted - he is now blocked entirely from commenting because he continued to submit comment after angry comment despite being asked to take a step back, and it's not fair to raise new points when he no longer has the right of reply]

    Now, the big question in my mind is whether or not we need to have a separate discussion about just dismissing some guys entirely, because when they give off warning signs like this, they’re just not redeemable, or to do would require a greater investment than can rightfully be asked of anybody. These guys want women to lead them by the hand and entertain them, but they won’t listen.

    Oh, and I’m still getting weird approve subscription emails.

    • Ginmar, I can’t do anything about the subscription emails – that’s all wordpress.com.

      If it annoys you, tell them about it so they feel some urgency in fixing it.

  90. It’s also stupid to take the attitude that “let’s focus on the people who do the raping”, when that assumes that people don’t already do that.

    Well, actually, people don’t.

    Society’s emphasis is on what WOMEN should do. Don’t wear anything short or feminine, because that could provoke men to rape; after all, it’s not as if anyone from babies to cloistered nuns to disabled grandmothers can be raped…and has been. Don’t go out late. Don’t go out early. Stay out of parking garages, because they’re dangerous. In fact, stay away from anything dark. Avoid parties, especially big ones. Never, ever accept a drink from a man, especially a man you don’t know. Let everyone know where you’re going when you go out on a date, just in case he tries something. Take self-defense classes. Carry a stun gun or pepper spray in your purse, even if the stun gun is considered an illegal concealed weapon in your state or if there are restrictions on the use or sale of pepper spray. Remember to wear flat shoes so that you can run more easily if you have to. And know that if you are raped, you’re going to be told that there was so much more that you could have done to avoid it.

    One thing society does NOT do is tell men not to rape.

    In Western literature, movies, songs, whatever, the man who seduces women, the love-’em-and-leave-’em guy, the one who compels women to have sex under dubious circumstances and then convinces them that they like it is, as a rule, the hero. The hero has power, you see, and one of the things that heroes generally have power over is women. The unwritten assumption of Western society is that not only are going to have sex with women who are willing, but that they will take sex from women who aren’t. This generally gets brushed off with four simple words: “Boys will be boys.”

    And yes, rape is a matter of power and not of sex. But since much of society is perfectly fine with the notion of men having power over women, that’s not something that society focuses on. Instead, there are jokes about rape that aren’t really jokes and that are mostly about passing the buck. You’ve heard those “jokes”–about lying bitches who were plenty willing and then started screaming rape. Or they’re out to get a guy, and they lie to the police or to judges or to employers, falsely claiming rape. (Because a rape trial is so much fun to go through.) Nor is it just men who tell such hostile jokes; I’ve run into young teens who–unbelievably–swore up and down that rape was just another word for rough sex. Or that rape indicated passion because the guy simply couldn’t wait to have you…and that any girl should be flattered.

    The underlying societal assumption about rape is that men are physically, mentally and emotionally unable to control themselves and prevent themselves from raping others–but that women CAN control men and prevent rape by controlling their own behavior.

    This pernicious lie effectively gives rapists a pass, not only in society but in courtrooms as well. They can’t help it, after all. Boys will be boys. And she was dressed like a doll. Or a sex goddess. Or like a man. She was too nice. Or too outspoken. Or too controversial. Or she said something that angered or upset her rapist. Or perhaps she did something. She didn’t fight him. Or she did fight him, and that angered him all the more. She treated her rapist like dirt. She treated him like a friend. She treated him like family, because he was. It doesn’t matter what she did–her rapist, his lawyer, and the rest of society will swear on a stack of Bibles that she was asking to get raped.

    And avoiding hazardous situations does not work. In most cases, rape is not committed by a violent stranger, but by someone whom the victim already knows and trusts. The average rapist–unwelcome though this fact is–is the man next door.

    Nor does restricting women’s freedom in the name of preventing rape help matters–whether society or culture mandate it or whether women restrict themselves.

    I remember a story I read once about Golda Meir. It seems that when she was Prime Minister of Israel, there was a serial rapist in Jerusalem, and the police could not catch this man. One of her cabinet ministers proposed a curfew in Jerusalem until the rapist was caught. Meir agreed, with one provision–that the curfew be for men.

    Her cabinet was up in arms. “Why aren’t you putting the women under curfew?”

    Meir’s answer was simple: “The women aren’t doing the raping.”

    She was right. Women should not be restricted and should not blamed for the actions of others. Men are the ones who need to start admitting that they are not helpless and that they do have self-control. It never seems to occur to anyone that no matter what a woman does or does not do, a man does not HAVE to rape her, and has to choose to do so.

  91. On 21 May 2009, Jennifer Vesperman said “Suggesting that women should not wear revealing clothing because ‘men can’t help themselves’ is suggesting that men are uncontrolled rapists who will force a woman to the floor and abuse her at the sight of a well-turned ankle or a bit of boob.

    And quite frankly, I think better of men than that.”

    And for those men out there who really, seriously advocate the “can’t help it, it’s the way guys are wired” defense, then perhaps the ideal solution is sequester them away from society instead of demanding that society accommodate their deficiencies. For those who just toss it out there thinking they’re being funny, grow the fuck up.

    Jacky Tar
    Grumpy Old Sailor

  92. I think people are overusing the threat of rape as well. I remember in highschool, which was residential, the security warned us, during assembly, to lock our doors even if we’re just going to take a shower or will be gone 5 minutes. Why? Because someone might come in and rape your roommate. “It takes 10 seconds to walk in, grab [money/ipod/something expensive] off your desk and walk out- you’ll never see it again” would’ve sufficed.

    It feels to me like overusing it as a threat is the same as using rape to mean something other than ‘non-consensual sexual activity’ and dilutes it and makes it so people don’t take it as seriously when it does happen.

    I don’t know if this is a real problem or not, but it seems like one to me.

  93. chartreuseflamethrower, It is a real problem. Just throwing the threat of rape around to control women’s and girls’ behavior is a big effing problem. But that’s what rape’s all about. It’s a threat to keep women and girls in line and to excuse violence against women and girls who step out of line.

  94. This is something of a tangent (or maybe a broader angle than that), so if the moderator decides to drop it, I’ll understand, but:

    One “how to avoid rape” suggestion I don’t recall hearing is: assertiveness training.

    This came to mind because in the stories about acquaintance rape or near-rape, or even non-sexual situations where women end up getting something done to them that they did not want, I keep hearing stuff like, “I didn’t want to X, but I didn’t want to make a scene.” Also, in discussions about predatory men, you keep hearing that they would look for the more compliant women, and even start out by doing small boundary violations first, to see how much they could get away with. I also remember being told in my Tae Kwon Do class that simply looking like you are confident that you could handle yourself if someone attacked you is enough to encourage would-be attackers to pick someone else.

    Now, there are two obvious explanations for why the “rape precautions” people wouldn’t suggest this: first, it’s probably much less effective in the Stranger Jumping Out Of The Bushes (SJOOTB) scenario that they have in mind (but it’s certainly more effective than their suggestions for dealing with the more common kind of rape: acquaintance rape.) But the second (and more cynical) is that people who promulgate the “how to avoid rape by SJOOTBs” suggestions are usually paternalistic types who have an emotional investment in women staying Womanly, i.e., compliant and dependent.

    I don’t say that learning this sort of assertiveness is easy. Boys are trained from when they are very small to stand up for themselves, to fight back even if they know they’re going to get pulverized, because not doing so will earn them nothing but contempt from everyone, and even then, there are still a lot of non-assertive men around. And women get more grief for being assertive and fighting back than men do.

  95. AMM, you’re still placing the onus on the victim. The problem with these lists isn’t the specific tips, it’s the whole concept; adding another tip, however well-intentioned, does nothing about the basic concept.

    In other words, it’s hardly a stretch to read your comment as “hey, rape victims, you just weren’t confident enough! You should have been more assertive.” You can see how rape victims might not appreciate that.

    Furthermore, I’m fairly certain I have seen that.

  96. It was aimed at guys as well, it was a co-ed school, but that doesn’t really make it better (anyone being controlled by fear is bad- not women only), and I doubt that they took it that seriously.

    I agree AMM is putting it on the victim- but the situation is a problem as well. Women are “trained” to be docile. Although obviously assertiveness and strength won’t guarantee anything, I believe you even pointed that out in this post, and the problem is that rapists keep raping, the fact that many women are almost completely unwilling to appear “unfeminine” (ie: strong, independent, etc- what society defines it as) or that society makes it clear these traits are unacceptable is disturbing to me. There’s the occasional guy who does that as well (shuns masculinity), and it’s not a problem if someone is like that naturally, but seeing almost every single woman in the gym act as though they’re afraid of touching even small (3-5 lb) weights concerns me. I don’t think women (or anyone) needs to be or are obligated to lift weights- I just don’t think they should be obligated NOT to be, either.

  97. AMM, you’re still placing the onus on the victim. The problem with these lists isn’t the specific tips, it’s the whole concept; adding another tip, however well-intentioned, does nothing about the basic concept.

    I disagree. The problem with these lists is not that they suggest that women do something. The problem is with what’s on them and the context in which they are proposed. They perpetuate the system, and I believe that that is their (possibly unconscious) purpose. Those in power don’t have to actually do anything about rape, men don’t have to examine how their own attitudes help normalize rape, and women are encouraged to see themselves as helpless and remain in purdah. The emphasis on stranger rape is part of this.

    But the response I’m seeing to it is that women should just stand around saying, “rapists should stop raping.” To me, this sounds a lot like waiting around for your Prince Charming or your Fairy Godmother to come around and save you from the pirates.

    I see rape (I’m thinking of acquaintance rape here) as an extreme manifestation of a pervasive paradigm in our society of how men and women are supposed to interact. The man is supposed to dominate, and the woman is supposed to be helpless and submit (and get off on submitting.) This is why acquaintance rape is often not seen as “real” rape.

    Feminists quite rightly see the man in the situation as the bad guy. But in their fear of being accused of “blaming the victim,” many feminists don’t examine the role of the victim. If you have spent your life submitting, and been trained to submit and rewarded for submitting, and encouraged to wait for someone to rescue you when you have problems, you won’t see whatever opportunities you might have had to avoid being a victim. To my mind, if you dismiss the idea of women learning, for example, to say “no” more often (and mean it) as “blaming the victim,” you are perpetuating the old paradigm of which rape is a part.

    It’s not as though being more assertive is going to magically protect you from rape, or being killed, or any other bad thing. (Actually, nothing will.) But by not playing the submissive role and by taking responsibility for assessing risks and deciding for yourself what risks you are willing to run, you first of all are in a better position to take whatever actions might be available to protect yourself, and second of all, you are doing your bit to change society.

    Note that this is not inconsistent with giving the authorities hell for blowing off reports of rape, or guys for perpetuating rape culture, or any of the other things proposed to reduce the problem. If anything, such actions are _also_ a form of taking charge of your life.

    • This seems like a good point to drop some links to Predator Theory with regard to serial rapists – how a small minority of men deliberately target and isolate women they perceive as vulnerable in order to rape them, consciously exploiting all the rape culture myths so that the woman feels so shamed that she is unlikely to report to police and if she does the rapist has plenty of plausible deniabilty. How serial stranger rapists will probably use drugs without force to incapacitate their target so that she doesn’t even know what he looks like, and how serial acquaintance rapists, while also using alcohol/drugs, are far more likely to use force and claim it as a misunderstanding later. How if you know a bloke who says stuff like “silly bitch wants it really” or “she’s got it coming” they probably aren’t just joking and instead of their mates “letting it slide” the world would be a far better place for women and for non-rapist men if those blokes’ mates just took the simple stand of “that’s bullshit, dude” and shut that crap down.

      The statistics and the description of methods used also show how if the culture surrounding sexual liaisons changed to one where the general standard was explicit negotiation and stage by stage affirmative assent, the techniques used by these serial rapists would be far less likely to succeed, because all their plausible deniability lies in the current social and sadly-still-often-legal standard of “she didn’t say no”.

      I’ll add these links as a footnote to the FAQ as well:
      * Yes Means Yes: Meet The Predators
      * Yes Means Yes: Predator Redux
      * The Curvature: Meet The Predators But Which Ones?
      (Predator Theory was also discussed at length at Shakesville and several months later at Feministe)

      • “How serial stranger rapists will probably use drugs without force to incapacitate their target so that she doesn’t even know what he looks like”

        Drugs, huh? In a fairy world where you live, there are drugs that magically and in seconds incapacitate the victim, put her into zombie state, and lead her to the dark alley.

        In a real world however, drugs have to be ingested to produce effect, the oral consumption of drugs has the the slowest gradula onset, the time before reaching the peak is 60 minutes or more (for rophynol, for example), and the victim has to be transported from the place where she ingested the drug, to the place where the rape takes place.

        Wake up! There are no rape drugs, and nobody slips anything into your drink. If you willignly drink untill you lose consciousness, you weren’t drugged, you were stupid.

      • You need to read the study by McWhorter et al, Johnny.

        Of the men who used only force against their victims, none reported raping a stranger; all the men knew their victims… [T]he stereotypical rape incident characterized by a man violently attacking a stranger was not reported by any of the respondents. Instead, respondents who used only force against their victims reported raping only women they knew. men who targeted strangers exclusively reported they used substances only in the rape incident..

        These findings may help explain why most self-reported [attempted or completed rape] incidents go undetected.
        McWhorter, p. 212-13

        Nobody is talking about “drugs that magically and in seconds incapacitate the victim, put her into zombie state, and lead her to the dark alley”. Most of the time the drug involved probably is alcohol, just deliberately adding vodka to strong flavoured drinks that are meant to be not particularly strong, chatting away until the woman is intoxicated and on the point of losing consciousness, then pretending to be a nice guy who’s going to take her home and instead puts her in his car and takes her somewhere to rape her.

        Actual rapists confess to this being the technique that they use on women who are strangers to them. The researchers have completed questionnaires and recorded interviews to back this up. What do you have to back up your contention that this never happens?

        Addendum: Here you are abusing women who drink trustfully in the company of a friendly man as “stupid” for believing that the man might have the common decency to not rape them just because they become intoxicated. Do you also condemn women who refuse to drink with men because they don’t trust strange men as “treating all men as though they are rapists”? Pick one or the other buddy – you can’t have it both ways.

  98. tigtog, I think that study in how rapists target their victims may prove some of AMM’s point, although I don’t think s/he’s making it very well. There’s something to training girls from the start that they’re as important and entitled to boundaries as boys are, which might cut down on the number of women who find themselves in abusive relationships, where rape most frequently occurs. Though women and girls are often punished for being “too assertive,” so there’s that.
    The more effective way to go would be to teach boys and girls both that everybody is entitled to boundaries. It’s not so much assertiveness training for girls and women that’s necessary, but feminism for everybody. And we seriously need to end that “throws like a girl” type crap of shaming boys by feminizing them and framing women and girls as icky, lesser, alien beings boys should have nothing to do with until they need them as accessories to prove they’re not fags.

  99. There’s something to training girls from the start that they’re as important and entitled to boundaries as boys are, which might cut down on the number of women who find themselves in abusive relationships, where rape most frequently occurs.

    This was not my point.

    My point was that even when girls are well aware that their boundaries are being violated (and they usually do), they don’t have the habit/skill/whatever to respond effectively. What they have been taught to do is to politely ask the transgressor to stop (or maybe just look miserable) and then wait around and hope that the transgressor will go away on his own or that someone (usually male) will come around and make the transgressor stop. It’s a kind of learned helplessness in the face of aggression.

    By contrast, boys are trained almost from birth on to fight back against any perceived encroachment, verbal or physical. They learn to fight even when they know they will get beaten up because fighting back will at least earn some respect.

    Waiting around for “feminism for everybody” to solve the problem is also a policy of passivity and helplessness, just like sitting around and hoping that the guy that dropped by your apartment or dorm room and ignores hints to leave will just decide to leave on his own, without your telling him loudly and aggressively to get the H*** out or calling the police.

    I’m arguing that it might help women to develop the capacity to defend themselves aggressively, to “be a b****”, to yell and scream, maybe even to use violence, if they judge that it would keep them from being a victim in the situation at hand. That it would sometimes help them not be a victim, and even when it doesn’t, they might at least be able to respect themselves for having done what they could.

    And I argue that the reason that assertiveness is not proposed as a suggestion — it might not be a great one, but it’s no worse than the rest of the suggestions on these lists — is that women becoming more assertive threatens the patriarchal status quo, in which women are supposed to be nice and passive and helpless, even if it kills them.

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