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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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31 Responses

  1. SoE
    SoE December 19, 2008 at 6:50 pm |

    I read about a similar study a couple of years ago in “Men’s Health”. Of course they didn’t go into the details for women but I have been using the numbers every time someone tried the “don’t do xyz because you could be assaulted” line on me. I have been walking through shitty parts of towns all alone in the middle of the night, as well as parks and never had anything happen to me, let alone be afraid. On the downside I’m really careful with people I get to know even though the real assholes are probably doing a hell of a job to look normal and non-intimidating.

    As long as rape exists we’re just in a bad position anyway :/

  2. Rj
    Rj December 19, 2008 at 7:03 pm |

    Great post. I talk about these topics so much that I am glad to have a break and see others engage.

  3. dananddanica
    dananddanica December 19, 2008 at 7:42 pm |

    Great post, a way of looking at it I dont see much of. Do you think part of the difference in the way the sexes are taught to view violence while out and about stems from how much people care? I know not many people I know would think much of a guy getting beat up or assaulted at the bar or something unless he was gravely inured but these same people would freak out at the thought of something happening to a woman. Paternalsm? Result of the patriarchy?

  4. Hugo
    Hugo December 19, 2008 at 7:47 pm |

    Great post, and a great essay in “Yes Means Yes”, which is a superb anthology and which I will review at my place in January.

    Your last paragraph nails it; one of three most frustrating things about doing men’s work has been the difficulty in combatting that absolute wall of entitlement that so many men have about women’s bodies. (The other two issues, of course, are overcoming the paralysing “fear of faggotry” and the tendency to see violence as redemptive.)

  5. Roov
    Roov December 19, 2008 at 8:04 pm |

    I do like to be able to say “statistically, I’m safer our there than you are” to concerned guys–but could people argue that men are more likely to be victims BECAUSE women are taught to be anxious and careful, and that therefore men are just more commonly out in the world to be beaten up?

    Or does the data indicate that it’s more about men being more likely to get into fights and so forth?

    Just trying to counter imagined counter-arguments in advance…

  6. the15th
    the15th December 19, 2008 at 8:04 pm |

    Are men really more likely to be victimized by strangers? I wonder if they just take more risks.

  7. the15th
    the15th December 19, 2008 at 8:05 pm |

    Yeah, what Roov said.

  8. William
    William December 19, 2008 at 10:04 pm |

    Is it accurate to say that the rates of rape and domestic violence are soaring, or has a more accurate method for collecting data been applied? I’m not questioning the numbers, I’m just wondering if the actual number of crimes occurring has increased or if the percentage of crimes reporting has increased.

  9. Lauren O
    Lauren O December 19, 2008 at 11:49 pm |

    And yet it’s women who are still routinely warned to not go to certain places, or told not to walk home alone, or advised to carry mace, even though men have more to fear generally when it comes to crime.

    And sadly this is advice we have to follow, because if worse comes to worst and we are raped in a dark alleyway, we’re much more likely to be blamed for it and much less likely to be able to get justice for it than a dude who got robbed in a dark alleyway.

  10. Rape and Domestic Violence Soars in the U.S. « RightsForMothers.com

    [...] Violence, Rape — justice4mothers @ 10:41 am An article written by “Jill” at Feministe.  This is only the first part of the article, please visit their site to read the full post, it is [...]

  11. Krista
    Krista December 20, 2008 at 12:51 pm |

    When I read this, the first thing I thought was what Roov asked. If women were just as likely to be out alone at night as men, would men still be victimized more often? And the article doesn’t state what kind of victimization men are likely to experience or the reasoning behind women being victimized less, other than my suspicion that they are just not out there. And I think a lot of women feel the sentiment that Lauren O gives that if something did happen, there’s a high chance that would be blamed and would get the whole “what are you CRAZY for going out that late by yourself” spiel. It’s all unfortunate.

  12. William
    William December 20, 2008 at 1:25 pm |

    Jill: I completely understand the title and why you chose it. Its always tough trying to characterize something like this because, bottom line, we don’t really have a way of really knowing if these increased rates mean an increase in reports or an increase in the gross number of crimes. I wasn’t criticizing your choice of words, just wondering if you had access to extra information as a result of your research.

  13. UnFit
    UnFit December 20, 2008 at 2:21 pm |

    Without any data to back it up, I’d just intuitively claim that before violence occurs, there’s usually some kind of escalation.
    Not even the biggest assholes go up to a random person and just whack them over the head.
    Or maybe some assholes do, but I’d suspect them to be in the minority.

    So I guess with men there’s more escalation of the “dude, that’s my parking lot”- or “you support the wrong football team”- kind of escalation, while with women the escalation often consists in merely saying no to someone who feels entitled.

    I’m quite the tomboy, and spent most of my life in a punk/anarchist kind of scene where violence is daily business. And still, the real threats I’ve faced were often sexual rather than simply violent, even though I actively sought confrontation sometimes.

    I’ve had more than one situation where *I* got into a confrontation with a guy, and he’d rather turn on the guy next to me wo wasn’t even involved in the conflict.

    And just FYI: I’ve grown up and calmed down, I don’t get into fights anymore.

  14. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers December 20, 2008 at 6:57 pm |

    My anecdotal evidence: men get beat up for being men in the wrong place at the wrong time, a *LOT*. My husband has been beaten up by drunks who thought he broke their taillight, by a drunk guy who thought he had marijuana to sell and would not take no for an answer, and was jumped while with his ex wife and a blind friend by a group of three guys in the park for no reason.

    My husband also used to walk anywhere he wanted to, any time he wanted to, and only *now* has started to learn some sense of fear.

    The difference between stranger violence against men and stranger violence against women has many aspects. Part of it is that men take more risks, because they think they are safe. Part of it is that being raped is a far more threatening possibility than being beaten up — if I was only afraid of being mugged or beaten, and not of being raped, I’d go anywhere I wanted too. Part of it is that women are seen as a prey class, a victim class, while men are seen as predators — so no one stalks men with intent to do them harm; attacks on men are crimes of opportunity or of provocation, whereas with women there’s the element that someone might be actively pursuing/targeting you. ANd part of it is that no one gives a shit about violence against men, because men are the predator class and expected to take care of themselves — violence against women is especially horrifying *because* women are not seen as violent. (Note that just because violence against women is especially horrifying doesn’t mean that anyone believes women when they say they’ve experienced violence, but in fact these might be related — because violence against women really is coded as the innocent helpless person assaulted by the evil wholly irredeemable villain, when in real life the situation is that the perfectly normal complex human woman with faults is assaulted by the guy that people know and don’t think is a monster, it doesn’t fit the script, so people prefer to disbeleive it.)

    No one targets a man because he’s a man *exactly*, but often, men are targeted in situations where women wouldn’t be, because men are the violence class and therefore fair game. Men don’t beat strange women on suspicion that the strange women broke their taillight, because the strange woman probably didn’t break your taillight (a man who does do this, in fact, is probably trumping up an excuse because he wants to beat a woman.) Men are more likely to beat up their *own* women, but less likely to beat a strange woman unless they’re trying to rape her.

    So yeah, men are in much more stranger danger than women are, and there are a lot of reasons for it, among them that men think they’re safe and therefore take risks, but also that violence against men is dismissed because it’s not intergroup violence. Violence is committed by men, therefore violence against men is okay. The fact that the particular victim of violence may be a pacifist who never hurt anyone is irrelevant; he’s still a man, so he’s seen as fair game for violence.

    The horrible thing about the true nature of violence against women is that we may be displacing our fear onto strangers because if we admitted to ourselves that what we have to fear is our boyfriends, husbands, fathers, brothers and close friends, we might just completely mistrust men entirely, and it’s far too destructive to the psyche to see 50% of the population as a threat.

  15. jained
    jained December 21, 2008 at 1:24 am |

    This doesn’t seem odd at all. Males are more likely to be attacked by other males so they are much less likely to be attacked by someone they are intimate with. So a higher percentage would be stranger attacks. However, women are also more likely to be attacked by males so they have higher percentages in all areas including intimacy. End result if you are with a male you have a higher chance of being attacked no matter who you are.

    @Rogers:
    …we might just completely mistrust men entirely…
    I think it has more to do with people not wanting to think that the person they love will do such a thing even though they know they actively are.

  16. Peter
    Peter December 21, 2008 at 9:47 am |

    Good points.

    I must have been told a billion times by some dudes (and even sometimes, but whacked out females) that if that college girl didn’t want to get raped, she shouldn’t have gone to a fraternity party where there were a bunch of drunken frat boys. Didn’t she know she was practically asking for it?

    Its amazing how many people will buy into that crap-ola. I never understood how a woman wearing some sexy outfit “might” cause men to want to rape her. That doesn’t make a damn bit of sense, and I never consciously thought about what Jill is saying: that its probably part of an institutionalized lexicon and rhetoric that somehow, directly or indirectly, seeks to enforce a standard of control. I guess there’s a kernel of truth to that, its laughable to suggest that sexy or revealing clothing “makes” men rape.

  17. Karinna A.
    Karinna A. December 21, 2008 at 11:42 am |

    The horrible thing about the true nature of violence against women is that we may be displacing our fear onto strangers because if we admitted to ourselves that what we have to fear is our boyfriends, husbands, fathers, brothers and close friends, we might just completely mistrust men entirely, and it’s far too destructive to the psyche to see 50% of the population as a threat.

    I’ve often wondered about this myself, if women tend to be more paranoid about the proverbial stranger in the bushes because we know we’re far, far more likely to be attacked by people we know, and much, much less likely to be believed if we report it. Sort of moving that anxiety onto a different target so we feel that we have a modicum of control over it, rather than having to eye all of our male coworkers, friends, family members, and lovers with suspicion.

    Hmm, I’m also beginning to wonder if that sort of displaced fear of stranger rape and the public/cultural pushing of that fear works to dampen women’s awareness of danger when with men she knows (e.g., I know Steve, ergo he wouldn’t do something like that) and thus enable and shield perpetrators of acquaintance rape.

  18. Maria P.
    Maria P. December 21, 2008 at 12:03 pm |

    And hey, let’s not assume that men are all young, able-bodied, of the right ethnic group and flamboyantly heterosexual. Plenty of men are the victims of violent crime for not fitting the alpha-predator script. ‘Easy targets’, if you will.

  19. Silke
    Silke December 21, 2008 at 10:40 pm |

    I fear that the current stressful economic problems will increase the rate of domestic violence.

  20. Schala
    Schala December 22, 2008 at 12:11 am |

    No one targets a man because he’s a man *exactly*, but often, men are targeted in situations where women wouldn’t be, because men are the violence class and therefore fair game.

    Well, for over 20 years of my life, I was targeted for various acts of bullying. Being pretty low-profile, this mostly happened in school, where I couldn’t avoid it (much of the time, in the class itself, or on the way to it in the building).

    The only common aspect was: perceived as male, if only because its the default (I was VERY androgynous, body-wise) and because of legalities (in school, they all call your name in class, and well, names are gendered, and they see it written, throwing away any misconceptions).

    Now, since I’ve transitioned and been perceived as female: no incident, none, nada. Heck I’ve had some people (mostly my brother of two years younger) protect me in case some would happen in the future, but none did.

    I’m white worker-class and generally-speaking religion is no issue here (being atheist is common and no biggie). The only factor that changed is people’s perception of me. I’m still the same person.

    I restricted my personality back then to limit problems (and at some point even forgot I was doing it, it had been that long). I avoided anything *others* might perceive as feminine, offensive or otherwise meriting bullying, it had been drilled into me, it was my fault that I was bullied and assaulted violently and I made everything I could for it not to be my fault…

    Even then it wasn’t enough. I was still targeted: for being short, for being smart, for being skinny, for being feminine (yes, tried my best to hide it but to no avail), for disliking violence, for uncommon thoughts and views about the world, for being alone, for wearing the wrong kind of pants, for having longish hair (chin length maybe). I was considered gay by others, but I was asexual really.

    I became a social recluse, and even now, I still sort of am, remembering that any social event can be a cue for people to want to beat me up either metaphorically or physically. I don’t go to parties. I have all of one real life friend. I have 200 co-workers but the phone number of none (95% male but still).

    Sorry if I sound ranty. Just saying, I’m not a risk-taking person who goes out all the time, and I wasn’t back then either. And all the bullying, assaulting and such – happened in plain day, inside school buildings, during school hours.

  21. Schala
    Schala December 22, 2008 at 12:15 am |

    Oh and my father was beaten up once, in front of us, because my younger brother (who was like 10 maybe) got into a conflict with one of his sons. He was taken from behind, at our apartment’s door, by the father of the other kid. It was still early in the day (before sunset), and you’re supposed to be relatively safe on your doorstep…

  22. Schala
    Schala December 22, 2008 at 7:22 am |

    Just to say I’m not comparing apples and oranges, I’ve also been assaulted physically at work, and threatened with death, before transition. So it’s not something limited to school (and this is why I said “over 20 years” when I stopped school at 17, after graduating HS).

  23. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers December 22, 2008 at 1:36 pm |

    Maria P said: And hey, let’s not assume that men are all young, able-bodied, of the right ethnic group and flamboyantly heterosexual. Plenty of men are the victims of violent crime for not fitting the alpha-predator script. ‘Easy targets’, if you will.

    and Schala said: Even then it wasn’t enough. I was still targeted: for being short, for being smart, for being skinny, for being feminine (yes, tried my best to hide it but to no avail), for disliking violence, for uncommon thoughts and views about the world, for being alone, for wearing the wrong kind of pants, for having longish hair (chin length maybe).

    Mm, yes, I forgot to point this out.

    The same forces that want women to conform or else get raped are *very* comfortable with the notion of attacking men for simply not fitting into the cultural script for men. And often, in fact, men are attacked in order to make them prove that they *do* fit the cultural script (ie, he’s short and skinny, but he fights like a mofo so I’ll respect him! …but if he doesn’t fight, he’s fair game.) These people aren’t attacked for being *men*, they’re attacked for being *nonconforming* men, whereas women can be attacked either for being conforming women or nonconforming women (if you’re a conforming, attractive, submissive woman we’ll rape you because you’re sexy and you owe your body to us! if you’re a nonconforming, gender-bending, strong and/or violent woman we’ll rape you to teach you your place! … either way women can’t win.) But they absolutely are attacked in circumstances and ways that women would not be.

    I wanted to make the point with my anecdotes that men can be attacked for *nothing* that any rational person would call provocation. My husband was attacked for *not having marijuana to sell.* He was attacked, along with his ex-wife and a blind male friend, for being in a park. (It wasn’t even a deserted park. It was a tourist trap.) He was attacked because a *friend* of his mouthed off at drunken assholes who thought the friend and he had broken their taillight, and then the friend ran and left my husband to get beaten up. The only of these circumstances where a lone woman would have been attacked is the one where a woman *was* attacked, the situation with the three guys who jumped my husband, his ex and the blind guy in the park. My husband is also skinny, has long hair, and wears glasses; he’s not *feminine* by any rational standard, but he doesn’t fit the stereotype of Mr. Macho either.

    Men are also more likely to be attacked for racial reasons — that is, they are targeted for being a member of a different racial group than the attacker. Women do suffer racial violence, but intra-racial rape and violence against women are much, much more common than inter-racial rape and violence agaisnt women, again because women are more likely to be attacked by friends and family. This isn’t precisely because they’re men — it’s because they’re a different race — but since it doesn’t happen to women nearly as often, it kind of *is* because they’re men. Or, because they’re “humans who are not women”, which, in fact, is men.

  24. Xenophon
    Xenophon December 22, 2008 at 2:16 pm |

    Women’s Rights in China

    If you’re squimish, you may want to skip this. It’s a horrible picture of a Chinese woman being assaulted by fascist totalitarians.

    If a picture is worth a thousand words, this photo is the whole Library of Congress:

    http://thelibertyzone.com/2008/12/02/how-true.aspx?results=1#SurveyResultsChart

  25. Schala
    Schala December 22, 2008 at 4:51 pm |

    I get your point Alara, I didn’t mean to say it only happened to non-conforming men either. But pre-transition, well I wasn’t “in the crowd” so to say, I was blatantly in the margins. Woe to me had I been of another skin color than white.

    Men are considered fair game for being beaten up, defending their honor (and apparently, be willing to do so at all costs, wether they actually care or not). Conscientious objectors of wars were mistreated to absurd extents because they didn’t agree with murdering other people (and possibly getting killed themselves).

    We live in a culture that promotes violence coming from men, because if men aren’t violent, or able and willing to defend themselves against someone who is, they lose a huge amount of status. In the same way, we consider men appropriate targets for violence “Hey, he can fight, target him, not her.” and women not appropriate, in both paternalistic and protective ways (both the notion that women can’t fight and that women ought not to HAVE to fight or be targeted for violence). Hence why we make a big deal of violence against women, while violence against men is shrugged off as normal. For our society it IS normal (not equating that with ideal).

  26. ginmar
    ginmar December 23, 2008 at 7:56 am |

    In the same way, we consider men appropriate targets for violence “Hey, he can fight, target him, not her.” and women not appropriate, in both paternalistic and protective ways (both the notion that women can’t fight and that women ought not to HAVE to fight or be targeted for violence).

    Where the hell do you live? I’ve heard this bullshit before, and it’s so far from reality it’s not even funny. Hell, it’s kind of the point of this post that women are being targeted for violence. Obviously a lot of guys aren’t getting the message.

    In fact, a lot of guys seem to subscribe to the message, “Well, you wanted equality, you got it,” as a way to be spiteful to women. If men treated men as shittily as they treat women, there’d be laws against it, huge news stories, and shock and awe. Violence against women isn’t rare. It certainly isn’t something that people go, “Oh, you can’t hit a woman.” Plenty of men do.

    You’re leaving out the unspoken half of that sentence. “You can’t hit a woman unless she’s uppity, rebellious, disrespectful of my manhood, resisting, feminist, or anything else I resent.”

    And why are we talking about men, anyway?

  27. Schala
    Schala December 23, 2008 at 5:04 pm |

    I said, if someone rejected the assumption that “Don’t hit a girl” is a good thing for a reason or another (which is few men still), then they might consider women appropriate targets, but rarely all women (then they’re sociopaths, not simply misogynists). It’s wrongful thought process made by something I-don’t-know-why (as I’m not particularly knowledgeable of the mind of a sociopath or what leads someone to consider his girlfriend fair game for a beating).

    “If men treated men as shittily as they treat women, there’d be laws against it, huge news stories”

    Its called war, and it makes the news when it starts, when its over, but rarely about all the men dying.

    There’s no laws protecting straight men from rape, or DV, in many patriarchal societies. Yet those same societies enacted laws, and charges in favor of (straight) women. If they ignore straight men they usually ignore lesbian women apparently (as is the case in Scotland).

    Scotland defines rape as PIV or sodomy (male on female, male on male), other kinds of what-would-be-defined-as-rape-normally are lesser stuff like battery/assault. Female on male, female on female, both don’t exist according to law (as rape anyway).

    If society/patriarchy was so enclined to favor men in the domain of violence, they’d have laws favoring them MORE wouldn’t they?

  28. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers December 23, 2008 at 10:57 pm |

    And why are we talking about men, anyway?

    To disprove the premise that women are uniquely in danger from violence and therefore women should move through the world in a state of paranoia and terror, looking over their shoulder constantly for the dangers that lurk everywhere, while men, who are always big and strong, are always safe in the world and can swagger confidently through the world secure in their personal safety.

    The argument that men are safe when they go out in the world, and therefore it’s women who should curtail their behavior, is simply wrong. It’s not just morally wrong, or logically wrong (ie, the logical disconnect between punishing the *victims* of crime rather than the perps), it is in fact factually wrong. Women are not in *nearly* as much danger in the public world as men are. Where women are in horrific danger is the private world.

    This affects our jurisprudence — our entire legal system is set up to handle the issue of violence between strangers, which is the violence that disproportionately affects men, not the violence of intimates, which disproportionately affects women. But it’s not that violence against women isn’t taken seriously — in fact when pretty white women *might* be the victim of violence it makes the national news, whereas violence against men only gets to be national if the men are famous to begin with. It’s that intimate violence isn’t taken seriously, and that’s the form of violence that is most common against women.

  29. Dear Femblogs, an increase in reported DV is good news! « words numbers minds machines: aɪgəntɹi

    [...] Jump to Comments In the past week, Human Rights Watch and at least three major feminist blogs have posted somber reactions to this report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.  Here’s [...]

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