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Chally is a student by day, a freelance writer by night, a scary, scary feminist all the time, and a voracious reader whenever she has a spare moment. She also blogs at Zero at the Bone. Full bio here.
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17 Responses

  1. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin December 21, 2009 at 7:57 pm |

    I suppose it’s a start and I suppose it has to begin somewhere. Still, there’s a skeptical part of me who wonders if true rape prevention advanced by law enforcement anywhere is a pipe dream.

  2. L
    L December 21, 2009 at 9:12 pm |

    “Police team up for rape campaign”.

    … so this isn’t a substantive critique, but shouldn’t we expect the police to be teaming up for ANTI-rape campaigns?

  3. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe December 21, 2009 at 10:23 pm |

    The most obnoxious such effort I ever heard of was a program at some college (forget which one) where campus cops would drive up to a woman walking alone on an empty street and hand her a card that read something like, “IF I WERE A RAPIST, YOU’D BE IN TROUBLE.” They finally came to what few senses they had when the women they were trying to “help” started complaining about being intimidated.

  4. leah
    leah December 22, 2009 at 12:17 am |

    Like L, I also found the title cringe-inducing.

  5. Lesley
    Lesley December 22, 2009 at 12:28 am |

    I have lived for some years in the UK and there is a context here you have to understand. Only about 4% of sex. assault complaints end in prosecution — there have to be witnesses and there is a strong culture of complacency about “choice” to have sex that prevents rape kits from being admissible as evidence. Attempts to reform the legal recourse have led no where so the next best thing is to help people protect themselves in a very pro-drunkenness society.

  6. Lesley
    Lesley December 22, 2009 at 12:48 am |

    Just to clarify, there is a grey line between having aggressive sex by choice and being raped in many social circles. People of both sexes here really play up the idea of regret-turned-rape-complaint.

  7. cim
    cim December 22, 2009 at 6:13 am |

    I live in County Durham – there have been a few adverts from this campaign on the buses. So far the only type I’ve seen have been of the form “Rape: short word, long sentence / no consent, no sex” and definitely directed at men. The “long sentence” bit would be more convincing if the conviction rate was higher, if the sentences were actually long, or if the local police force didn’t fail to properly record a significant proportion of the rapes reported to it. (and, of course, if there was any real education in other contexts about what “consent” meant, which is something else the UK does badly)

  8. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig December 22, 2009 at 10:19 am |

    Comrade Kevin: I totally agree. If I were raped, the last thing I would do is expect help from law enforcement. I’d rather be put on trial for murder then testify as a rape survivor.

  9. Yonmei
    Yonmei December 22, 2009 at 11:16 am |

    Four years ago Amnesty International published a report on attitudes to rape in the UK that found evidence that a large proportion of people believe that a woman who is raped is wholly or partly to blame if she got drunk, behaved flirtatiously, or wore revealing clothing.

    Shortly afterwards, the report’s point was proved by a case in which the judge instructed the jury to find the man not guilty, because although he had (Rúairi Dougal, then a student at Cardiff, like the woman he raped) admitted that he had (in his part-time role as a security guard) accepted responsibility for a young woman who was drunk and incapable, to walk her safely home, and had then had sex with her in the corridor outside her room, he claimed she’d consented … and she admitted under oath that she was so drunk she couldn’t remember. (On campus, apparently Ruari Dougal was well-liked and regarded as a decent bloke, while the woman he raped was regarded as a liar and an attention-seeker.) So the judge directed the jury to acquit, because in the judge’s world, if a woman was too drunk to remember having been raped, that means it can’t have been rape – even if the man who did it admits he had sex with someone for whom he had a duty of care, who was too drunk to give meaningful consent. Ruari Dougal was a high-publicity example of what’s wrong with rape law in the UK.

    Lesley is right: a campaign against rape has got to take account of the thinking that “a woman too drunk to resist has consented” that not only will be held by rapists, rapist’s best buddies, and clueless guys, but by a large proportion of the survivors of rape, too.

    I found some quite surprising and awful responses to my journal posts, four years ago, from people I’d known and liked, asserting that yes, sure, everyone knew that for a woman, drinking in public was high-risk and that it was anti-sex and anti-freedom to say that a person can be too drunk to give meaningful consent and that anyone who then has sex with that person is committing sexual assault/rape.

  10. Han
    Han December 22, 2009 at 1:24 pm |

    Off topic, but I think worth sharing:
    When I studied in Scotland last year, I really liked seeing the images from the This Is Not an Invitation to Rape Me campaign (http://www.thisisnotaninvitationtorapeme.co.uk/) around the town because they put so much emphasis on NOT blaming the victim.

  11. Evrybdy44
    Evrybdy44 December 22, 2009 at 6:15 pm |

    Even mentioning that women need to be careful of how much they drink and so on is horrible. I hate it too. What I think I hate the most about it is that I get why it’s being said. There is nothing a person could possibly do(drunk or otherwise) to “ask” to be raped, but for better or worse the idea that thinking about the situations a person puts themselves in isn’t a bad idea. It shouldn’t be necessary and the bulk of any focus should be on changing rapist behaviour and not that of a victim or potential victim.

  12. james
    james December 22, 2009 at 6:16 pm |

    May I make a suggestion? What actual evidence is there that there’s a spike in rape over the holiday period? Everything I can find says the reverse – that there’s a peak in July and a low point in December.

    The main issue here is that the police just don’t like people getting drunk. In most places over the Christmas drinking season there are very few on duty police officers to deal with large numbers of drunk people in a very precariously balanced public order situation.

    I don’t think the alcohol thing is motivated by victim blaming as such, they’re just looking out for themselves. It’s a bit like on feminist blogs people will use even the most marginal topics as excuses to talk about stuff like rape and abortion that they care passionately about. That’s like what alcohol is for the police. They know come Thursday evening they’re going to be outnumbered 2000:1 by people who are absolutely tanked. They’re just gonna take any opportunity to warn people off drinking. I think they’re basically using rape as a tool to run an anti-alcohol campaign.

  13. UnFit
    UnFit December 23, 2009 at 9:35 am |

    Um, james, while there might be a truth to what you’re saying, that doesn’t make it any better, does it? That would be kind of saying victim-blaming is okay as long as it’s used to a good end?

    And Han, I love that campaign, especially the wedding picture.

  14. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers December 23, 2009 at 11:45 am |

    Um, james, while there might be a truth to what you’re saying, that doesn’t make it any better, does it? That would be kind of saying victim-blaming is okay as long as it’s used to a good end?

    Maybe I misread james’ post, but I got the impression he’s saying it’s worse — that they’re hijacking “concern for women’s safety” to push “don’t drink” for their own purposes. I mean, at the very least victim-blaming attempts to stop rape are sincerely aimed at stopping rape, but rape-victim-blaming attempts to stop people from *drinking* are taking something as serious and devastating as rape and using it as an excuse to push an agenda against drinking, which is kind of like arguing against murder because dead bodies carry disease and smell bad.

  15. DPirate
    DPirate December 31, 2009 at 7:31 am |

    How would it go over if they left women out entirely? If instead they told all men that they were potential rapists if they had too much (enough?) to drink? That ought to satisfy your complaint but would lead to greater trouble for the police.

    I have no statistics, but I expect that alcohol is a factor in rape occurence, and remains so whether the man, the woman, or both have been drinking. If so, then this police campaign is simply correct.

  16. DPirate
    DPirate January 3, 2010 at 8:28 am |

    I understand your objections. Was going to say something else but after further thought I will just say that your efforts and those of Shakesville and the like are probably effective in changing the predominant culture in a beneficial way.

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