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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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89 Responses

  1. Kim
    Kim May 3, 2010 at 2:41 pm |

    The comments on that article are really something else. Why do I insist on subjecting myself to the comments on articles ever??

  2. Faith
    Faith May 3, 2010 at 2:46 pm |

    Wait…I thought that if we were wearing tight jeans we were just asking to get raped. Now if we are wearing tight jeans, we are unrapeable?

    I really wish the rape apologists would make up their damn minds.

  3. Hot Tramp
    Hot Tramp May 3, 2010 at 2:59 pm |

    Perhaps tight-jean manufacturers should include this in their marketing. “Rape-proof yourself with these Calvin Kleins! Judges agree that it works!”

  4. Kaz
    Kaz May 3, 2010 at 3:03 pm |

    Again?! I swear I’ve heard about this exact argument used before!

    And to all and sundry… it’s the Daily Mail. For the love of god, don’t read the comments. I haven’t even *looked* at the comments and I’m wincing already.

  5. Emily
    Emily May 3, 2010 at 3:04 pm |

    Rape-proof clothing? Sign me up.

    (Sigh.)

  6. rebekah m
    rebekah m May 3, 2010 at 3:08 pm |

    this is the sort of thing that pisses me off so very very much

  7. matlun
    matlun May 3, 2010 at 3:18 pm |

    Not sure what the argument was here. According to the article, this was a 42 kg woman while the man was in the navy. How is it hard to believe that he would be capable of getting her jeans off.

    Hopefully this article is seriously misrepresenting the court case in question.

  8. exholt
    exholt May 3, 2010 at 3:39 pm |

    Seems like most of the jurors and/or the judge wore their clothes so tight that it has cut all circulation to the brain…..

  9. LS
    LS May 3, 2010 at 3:43 pm |

    I vaguely remember an Italian judge made this same ruling a number of years ago. Do we know of others??? Terrifying.

  10. Miranda
    Miranda May 3, 2010 at 4:23 pm |

    Also: if a rapist points a gun or a knife at you and says, “Take off your pants or I’m going to kill you,” and you take off your skinny jeans and he rapes you, it’s still rape. The pants have nothing to do with it.

  11. Spilt Milk
    Spilt Milk May 3, 2010 at 4:57 pm |

    matlun: if it is true, as has been reported, that a juror submitted a question about exactly how the jeans were removed, with the comment ‘I find it hard to believe that these kinds of jeans could be removed without collaboration’, then I don’t think the article is misrepresenting the case. Unfortunately. The word ‘collaboration’ there chills me, completely. Of course the defense team subjected the victim to heinous questioning about her clothing, including the size of her underpants. I can’t imagine how devastating it must be to have a case brought to court, to have to give testimony, and then have something like that happen.

  12. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable May 3, 2010 at 5:15 pm |

    LS: It was a rape in 1997 which I believe was decided in courts about 1999. It’s also the reason for Denim Day here in the US which was celebrated this year on April 21st.

    That’s right; we already devote an entire day to how ridiculous the whole concept is and to honor one rape victim that got horribly shafted by this premise.

    Good to know that over ten years later, victim-blaming culture is nothing if not consistent. Of course individuals are capable of raping others, but they clearly cannot coerce others to take off their pants. Or, you know, do it themselves. Denim sure is restrictive!

  13. preying mantis
    preying mantis May 3, 2010 at 5:17 pm |

    “Again?! I swear I’ve heard about this exact argument used before!”

    It was used successfully in Italy some time ago. Apparently Italy also recently shut it down hardcore, with a statement along the lines of it not being legitimate legal reasoning to rank jeans with chastity belts.

  14. Liv
    Liv May 3, 2010 at 5:55 pm |

    all the hubbub about this actually originated with a case in Italy where the judge made the same ruling-it resulted in Jeans for Justice :)

  15. ojd
    ojd May 3, 2010 at 5:56 pm |

    Were there no women on this jury? If I skipped lunch, someone could pull my skinny jeans down without my assistance. NOT THAT IT MATTERS, as previous posters have pointed out. If he’s strong enough to hold her down, he could get the tightest denim off of her, and if she weighs 6.6 stone, she’s a very small woman. How horrible the trial must have been for this woman, having to answer questions about her jeans and her underwear. Victimized again by the attorneys and the jury, and then no justice. Gee, thanks.

  16. Jo
    Jo May 3, 2010 at 6:12 pm |

    Hmm, obviously it’s bollocks to say that it’s impossible to be raped while wearing tight jeans. That said, I do think asking this kind of questions, hoewever ridiculous they may seem to people who did not attend the trial, is exactly what a jury’s job is in such a trial, don’t you think? I mean, while it would equally be rape if she was forced to take off her pants herself, in a rape case, that’s the kind of thing to be determined by asking this kind of question, if you’re not just rooting for either the accused or the accuser.

  17. April
    April May 3, 2010 at 6:23 pm |

    Even if she did take off her pants– She claimed he raped her. Which means she is saying that he forced her to have sexual relations with him– she could have taken off her pants and given him a fucking strip tease. It doesn’t matter. If she didn’t want to have sex with him, and he made her have sex with him, IT’S FUCKING RAPE.

    #&!!!!!()#$*(&!

  18. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan May 3, 2010 at 7:46 pm |

    Wow, and I thought that if you wore tight jeans you couldn’t not get raped. Sigh. How in the world could this *possibly* be a legitimate question? Do they really think that a rapist is going to go to all the trouble of grabbing some woman and then be like “oh, damn, a zipper *and* a button? Fuck this, I’m gonna go watch TV instead.”

    Could this be an extension of the men-getting-away-with-shit-by-pleading-incompetence? They don’t have to do housework ’cause they’re “bad” at it, they don’t have to communicate well ’cause they’re “bad” at it, they don’t have to respect not-so-subtle cues from women ’cause they’re “bad” at it, and now they certainly couldn’t have raped that lady ’cause they are bad at pants now??

  19. Faith
    Faith May 3, 2010 at 8:28 pm |

    “is exactly what a jury’s job is in such a trial, don’t you think?”

    Jo,

    It is not the jury’s job to ask how tight a woman’s jeans were the night she says she got raped. The tightness of her jeans is completely irrelevant. Asking how tight her jeans were is about as relevant as asking what color her top was. It just doesn’t need to be a consideration. At all.

  20. Phee
    Phee May 3, 2010 at 8:29 pm |

    @SpiltMilk: I agree. I found the use of the word “collaboration” horrifying. I also find the entire process of discussing not only what she was wearing but also what size it was even more disgusting than the usual rape apologist arguments used in trials.

  21. Annabelle Xaah
    Annabelle Xaah May 3, 2010 at 10:36 pm |

    This is the very logic that is used to oppress sex workers and all women generally. The undertone of the juror is “I can’t imagine someone wearing something so slutty having any right to sexual consent or protection against violence.” The Un-Rapeable Slut rationale, which shows its misogynist face over and over again in legal cases throughout the world, effectively protects male criminals, excuses and promotes male acts of sexual offense, of which only a small minority of is reported, and an even smaller percentage punished by law. This unjust rationale has at its foundation the idea that women who do not submit to the Patriarchal sexual control regime (aka chastity and the Patriarchal family) do not deserve any social protection from violence. Not only does this rationale hurt sex workers who have no means to legal protection because of their illegal status, and effectively create the underground networks of trafficking and violence that makes global sex work the cruel and dangerous profession it is today – but the social degradation of the whore is used to discipline and control all women, and is an infringement on basic human rights.

    This form of structural violence in Patriarchal society is the cause and not the “rescue” of the atrocities that take place every day in the form of sexual slavery and inhumane working conditions of sex workers worldwide. The prohibitionist legal policies and social stigmas that punish commercial sex and any kind of female sexual choice, hurts all women.

    This violent suppression of female sexual independence throughout history and all over the world, should be the most obvious one to self-proclaimed feminists, yet for some reason (perhaps fear, perhaps hypocrisy, perhaps happy subscription to Patriarchal heteronormative dominance), it remains the most ignored form of misogyny, and the struggles of sex workers for equality remains mostly unrecognized by the larger feminist movement.

  22. Astrid
    Astrid May 4, 2010 at 6:47 am |

    I almost laughed at how ridiculous this case is, except that it’s seriously concerning a rape victim who is once again not believed in court.

    Like Miranda says, if psychological coercion or even outright threats were involved, the “collabortion” is irrelevant. The fact here is that the victim says she was raped, that is, was forced to have sex. The nature of that force is irrelevant to the question whether it is rape.

  23. stella
    stella May 4, 2010 at 8:37 am |

    OMG. this makes me so angry. that and the burka ban in belgium, what the hell is this obssession with controling what women wear? All over the developing world. its spreading like a bloody virus. The over sexualisation of our bodies angers me so much, we need a lady Godiva.

  24. lovesickrobot
    lovesickrobot May 4, 2010 at 9:11 am |

    Even if she took off her skinny jeans and did goddamn a pole dance afterwards, if she didn’t want to have sex then it is still rape.

  25. Jo
    Jo May 4, 2010 at 9:15 am |

    Faith,

    “It is not the jury’s job to ask how tight a woman’s jeans were the night she says she got raped. The tightness of her jeans is completely irrelevant. Asking how tight her jeans were is about as relevant as asking what color her top was. It just doesn’t need to be a consideration. At all.”

    Well, I’m not sure about the “it doesn’t need to be a consideration part” – nobody commenting here or elsewhere was actually present at the trial, and maybe there were reasons related to his or her story about what happened that night that *made it relevant* to figure out if she “collaborated” in removing her pants or not.

    No one here seems to believe in the presumption of innocence in rape cases. No one here seems to question that she *may* have been lying. Unlikely, sure. But still, the prosecution has to prove the crime, not the other way around, even though that is usually particularly difficult in he says/she says cases like rape without additional evidence. If you want to change the legal setup for rape cases in a way that allows verdicts on the basis of the accuser’s account alone, fair enough, but then you should say so.

    Of course any piece of clothing can be removed forcibly, and one can apparently even be raped with one’s pants on, according to some film. But maybe that wasn’t the point the jury was wondering about, maybe it was a matter of figuring out accuracy of the respective stories.

    And in *that* context I still believe this is exactly the kind of thing a jury is supposed to do, if one is not simply rooting for either accuser or accused but trying to figure out what happend and only send people to jail for crimes that are actually proven.

    I believe for a free society it is worse to send someone innocent to prison than to have a guilty person walk around freely. I have no idea how we could deal with rape cases more appropriately given their classic she says/he says structure, but if I had to choose between upholding civil rights and a higher conviction rate for rape that would include more false positives, I would always argue for upholding civil rights. And I’m fairly sure even radical feminists who can figure out what the implications of a precedent in this area would mean for other areas of the law would not argue against that principle.

  26. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac May 4, 2010 at 10:01 am |

    Jo: No one here seems to believe in the presumption of innocence in rape cases.

    In a court of law, the person accused is absolutely entitled to be presumed innocent until proven guilty: that is, if it can’t be proved beyond reasonable doubt that he raped her, he shouldn’t be found guilty and he shouldn’t be sentenced.

    You appear to be confusing this basic human right – not to be convicted or sentenced unless proven guilty in a court of law – with a magical “presumed innocent” which applies only to the man charged with rape.

    I personally think that one thing that should change is that no one should be presumed to have consented to sex unless she or he can prove otherwise.

    There have been cases in the UK where a woman who was too drunk to remain conscious is presumed to have consented to sex – because if she couldn’t remember refusing sex when she was lying on the floor with the man on top of her, his word that she consented is to be taken over the very reasonable doubt that she was in any state to agree to sex with him.

    No one here seems to question that she *may* have been lying.

    And by your own standards of “presumed innocent” you appear not to believe that she is entitled to be presumed innocent of perjury.

  27. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac May 4, 2010 at 10:02 am |

    I personally think that one thing that should change is that no one should be presumed to have consented to sex unless she or he can prove otherwise.

    Unless the assailant can prove otherwise. Duh.

  28. Martine Votvik
    Martine Votvik May 4, 2010 at 10:31 am |

    People seldom wear clothes which they can not them selves undress, and if she could get the pants off, then why shouldn’t a large male be able to do it? The ones responsible for this ruling should be judged unfit for further trials… Next time they’ll be letting off bank robbers because the valut was closed and could not be opened witout… you see where I’m going.

  29. Sailorman
    Sailorman May 4, 2010 at 10:57 am |

    Jesurgislac,

    Concluding that a witness is not telling the truth is, oddly enough, VERY different from concluding that they are guilty of perjury.

    A witness can be viewed as untruthful, making it impossible to convict the accused beyond a reasonable doubt. But for that witness to be convicted of perjury, the witness has to be proven guilty of perjury beyond a reasonable doubt. (They also have to be charged with perjury in the first place, which rarely happens.)

    Reasonable doubt is such a strong standard that in a balanced “A says / B says” situation, NEITHER party will get convicted of either the underlying charge or of perjury. There’s a huge gray area in the middle.

    If you think of it on a 1-100 scale:
    1-10 might be perjury: “Not only don’t I believe the witness, but I believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the witness is lying through their teeth and will send the witness to jail!”

    10-90 is nothing at all, the most common result in rape cases “I don’t entirely believe either side, and I don’t know what the truth is well enough to convict either party beyond a reasonable doubt.”

    90-100 might be a conviction “I am confident beyond a reasonable doubt of the accused’s guilt.”

    Does that make more sense?

  30. Faith
    Faith May 4, 2010 at 11:15 am |

    “Well, I’m not sure about the “it doesn’t need to be a consideration part” ”

    Clearly.

    “and maybe there were reasons related to his or her story about what happened that night that *made it relevant* to figure out if she “collaborated” in removing her pants or not.”

    You’re missing the point.

    The question asked was not whether or not the woman “collaborated” in removing her jeans. The question posed was whether or not the man could have possibly removed such tight jeans on his own. Which is just ridiculous. No matter how tight her clothes were, any average able-bodied man could remove them if he really wanted to do so. That makes the question entirely irrelevant.

    But whether or not the women did willingly remove her jeans is also largely irrelevant. She could have removed her jeans and still not have consented to sex. That’s also the point that you apparently aren’t getting.

  31. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable May 4, 2010 at 11:21 am |

    Jo, what individuals are saying is that lawyers are allowed to ask whatever they want, but this line of questioning is pointless for the following reason: even if I take off my pants of my own accord, I can still be raped. The act of taking of pants has absolutely nothing to do with consent which is why it shouldn’t be a deciding factor. If it was, then what you’re saying by extension is that strippers can’t be raped because they removed their own clothing of their own accord.

  32. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable May 4, 2010 at 11:23 am |

    Sorry Faith – I should have refreshed.

  33. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub May 4, 2010 at 11:28 am |

    You know, I love how greeting rape culture and rape apology with skepticism means you hate due process. It’s my favorite red herring EVAR.

  34. Sailorman
    Sailorman May 4, 2010 at 11:51 am |

    I hesitate to explain this. The underlying rape verdict and reasoning seem so incredibly wrong that I am terrified to somehow be misinterpreted as defending it. I’m not; based on that article it makes no freakin’ sense at all.

    But there seems to be an underlying misconception about how evidence and testimony works. Just to help, I’d like to correct it. Here goes:

    Evidence and testimony can show a number of things, not only one thing. Evidence and testimony can be used to support a fact, for example:

    “This is the deceased’s blood and hair on your knife; therefore we think you killed him.”

    Evidence can ALSO be used to support or attack the general credibility of a witness’ testimony. Lawyers on BOTH sides like to look for holes in people’s testimony (on both sides) because finding those holes can support the argument “this person is wrong about this thing; how do you know they’re not wrong about other things, too?” It’s an important legal tactic for defense and prosecutor alike.

    Say that the accused testifies that he went to church before meeting the victim. The jury then comes to believe he went to play poker instead.

    Playing poker doesn’t make him more or less likely to have raped someone, but the fact that the jury thinks he was lying makes it harder to believe him with respect to other stuff.

    Same thing with pants: Whether or not she took them off herself has nothing to do with rape. But a good defense lawyer will try to use it to show general incorrectness.

    Yes, it’s frustrating. That is why I don’t do criminal defense.

  35. Jo
    Jo May 4, 2010 at 12:11 pm |

    Faith, PrettyAmiable,

    “She could have removed her jeans and still not have consented to sex.” … “That’s also the point that you apparently aren’t getting.”

    Absolutely. Most rape victims (of acquaintance rape) probably are in that situation. The only rape case I am personally aware of involved a case where it had started out consensually and he ended up raping her because he held her down when she said “stop”. I thought I said as much in both of my comments.

    (The example I just mentioned was easy from a legal point of view and complicated from a moral point of view, because he confessed after she had called the cops and then she became his character witness in the trial as they both said they still loved each other, so he got the minimum possible sentence, but was still convicted.)

    I’d still want the jury to consider *EVERY* angle, that’s their job, and it’s usually not a pleasant one.

    Jesurgislac,

    “I personally think that one thing that should change is that no one should be presumed to have consented to sex unless she or he can prove otherwise.

    Unless the assailant can prove otherwise. Duh.”

    How would that work though? How do you *prove* something like another person’s consent?

    Sheelzebub,

    actually, I said that even most radical feminists would support due process despite their vocal objection to what they call rape culture. Your point is *in* my comment.

  36. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub May 4, 2010 at 12:20 pm |

    Indeed, Jo. You started out with a lecture about how it’s important to remember due process (since no one here apparently knows or cares about that) and then said that “even” radical feminists would be for this.

    Except, you know, no one here said anything about abolishing due process. And I am really fucking tired of people stomping into these discussions and either making the outright accusation, or slimy inferences, that we don’t care about due process.

    Here’s another clue: Hearing about a rape case and thinking the defendant may be guilty as charged is not the same as abolishing due process. Due process in a court of law does not mean people are barred from forming an opinion about the case, the defendant’s guilt or innocence, or anything else. It does not mean we should censor our opinions about them.

    I don’t see this same concern when the charges are, say, simple assault or theft or drug dealing or weapons charges–all which can be serious charges, and all can leave a huge stain on one’s reputation. Discussions about someone’s possible innocence or guilt in these cases aren’t nearly as likely to be derailed with a patronizing lecture about due process.

  37. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac May 4, 2010 at 12:34 pm |

    Jo: How would that work though? How do you *prove* something like another person’s consent?

    Well, the first obvious step is: Don’t rape someone.

    As PortlyDyke noted:

    And that’s when it hit me — my fool-proof solution to the thorny issue of “consent”:

    1) Get a clear “yes” from your partner before engaging in sex AND 2) BECOME A BETTER LOVER

    See, I’ve never really thought of it as a problem if my lover was chanting (or screaming) YES! YES! YES! “over and over for hours without interruption” during sex. (“Don’t Stop!” and “Keep doing whatever it is you’re doing!” also do not disturb me in the slightest.)

    For some reason, rape apologists always seem to have a problem with the idea that they need to have enthusiastic consent from the person they want to have sex with…

    The specific case I was thinking of was the Welsh rapist Ruairi Dougal, who was asked – while working as a security guard (he was also a student) – to walk a student home from a party where someone seems to have slipped her a roofie. In the hall outside her room, she dropped unconscious to the floor, and he had sex with her, claiming afterwards this was all with her consent. And as she was too drunk to remember what happened, the judge decided that she could be assumed to have consented – the default state of a woman being consent, you see. No evidence that she was too drunk to have consented, or that it was really unlikely (as she said herself) she’d have voluntarily agreed to have sex on the hall floor when her room was a few yards away, was allowed to be considered by the jury.

    Sailorman: Concluding that a witness is not telling the truth is, oddly enough, VERY different from concluding that they are guilty of perjury.

    Duh.

    Just as supporting a person’s right to be acquitted in a court of law if the judicial system cannot prove that person guilty beyond reasonable doubt, is, oddly enough, VERY different from assuming, when discussing another rape case acquittal on a blog, that the man acquitted didn’t commit rape.

  38. Jo
    Jo May 4, 2010 at 1:18 pm |

    Sheelzebub,

    “Discussions about someone’s possible innocence or guilt in these cases aren’t nearly as likely to be derailed with a patronizing lecture about due process.”

    probably true. But I’d say that’s because the stain left by rape charges is much, much, much larger, there is the problem that even in cases of actual innocence it will likely be impossible to prove *innocence*, which means while it’s difficult to get convictions in cases of actual rape it is also very difficult to entirely clear one’s name of such charges in the case of wrongful accusation, *AND* there is a fear that being wrongfully accused of rape is something that could happen to every man who has sex. So, yeah, there’s a lot of statistically irrational male fear in this, agreed. I suppose you may disagree with this, but I’d say that one major step towards helping guys get over this fear and allow a more reasonable debate would be if feminists stopped talking about all men as potential rapists when even feminist research (see the yesmeansyes-blog) indicates that it’s a small minority of men. If those who aren’t in that minoriry would stop identifying with them for fear of being wrongfully accused, this discourse would be a whole lot better, and we could actually talk about stuff without assuming disagreement.

    Jesurgislac,

    you do realize that none of what you said amounts to lgeal “proof”, right? I think enthusiasm is a great indicator, but her enthusiasm will not help a defendant if he’s accused a week later by, a woman who doesn’t care about perjuring herself, say due to jealousy. He cannot *prove* she consented. She cannot prove he didn’t believe she consented. It’s just not possible to know another person’s mind 100%. Simply impossible.

    “that it was really unlikely (as she said herself) she’d have voluntarily agreed to have sex on the hall floor when her room was a few yards away, was allowed to be considered by the jury.”

    Why wasn’t it allowed to be considered? Seems *more* than reasonable. Interestingly, here’s a similar setup with a different twist and a much happier ending.

    A couple of months ago, a seriously drunk girl who came on hard to me in a club then suddenly fell asleep on my shoulder. None of her ?friends? would take her home even though she actually lived only around the corner. So I decided to help her home, but before I did that I explained to every bouncer and all of her friends that I’d be back in a minute. She actually tried to drag me into her apartment. I eventually agreed to take her phonenumber so she wouldn’t feel too rejected. I was happy when she had locked her door behind her and was honestly afraid the rejection would make her invent a story, and if so, who would believe a guy saying he was just nice enough and helped a girl home who wasn’t able to walk on her own anymore. Right? Those kinds of guys don’t exist, right…? But we have all heard stories about stories like the one about the security guy you mention…

    This is a generally f****d up situation, and I don’t know how to change it.

  39. Faith
    Faith May 4, 2010 at 1:41 pm |

    “This is a generally f****d up situation, and I don’t know how to change it.”

    Maybe you could start by working on educating men on how not to be rapists instead of lecturing feminist women on how biased they are about rape cases? Because, you know, if men stopped raping, none of this would be an issue.

  40. preying mantis
    preying mantis May 4, 2010 at 1:48 pm |

    “her enthusiasm will not help a defendant if he’s accused a week later by, a woman who doesn’t care about perjuring herself, say due to jealousy.”

    “and was honestly afraid the rejection would make her invent a story”

    Because society in general is just so eager to be there for rape victims? Give your paranoia a rest.

  41. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub May 4, 2010 at 2:34 pm |

    Jesus H. Christ, Jo.

    I have yet to see how this horrible stain of a rape conviction or accusation hurts men when in every. single. case I’ve seen or heard of, the guy is a nice guy who’d never do such a thing and the woman or girl is a lying slut, regretful, crazy, or some combination of all three. Suddenly, spiteful ex-boyfriends, frenemies, and aquaintences crawl out from under rocks to insist that the girl is a total ho! and crazy! and we all know it!

    he boys who gang-raped a developmentally delayed girl in New Jersey went on to go to college and did just fine. One of them assaulted another woman he went to school with. William Kennedy is practicing medicine after his highly-publicized trial.

    Contrast this to the women in these cases–the woman who was gang raped in Big Dan’s Tavern in New Bedford, MA was threatened, harassed, and run out of town. The girl who was gang raped by the sherriff’s son and his friends in Orange County was harassed, smeared, stalked and vilified as a slut who somehow raped the boys while passed out cold.

    Where, exactly, is this horrible stain? I’ve got news for you–I have relatives who have done time for other crimes, and if you think the “stain” of a rape accusation or conviction is worse than say, vehicular homicide, drug dealing, or weapons charges, think again. It’s pretty damn difficult to clear your name after ANY charge made, or any rumor or innuendo spread about you (ask any girl or woman who’s been slut-shamed–or any rape survivor who’s been smeared).

    I mean, here you are, decrying alleged special treatment for rape cases in the legal system because of the harm done to women but then you seem to think that it does deserve special treatment because of the harm done to men.

    “there is a fear that being wrongfully accused of rape is something that could happen to every man who has sex. ”

    There is also a fear that being, actually, raped and then being vilified for being raped is something that could happen to every woman who has sex. I’m just saying. Yet I don’t see you lecturing men on rape culture, or lecturing people on how it’s utter crap to assume that all women who say they’ve been raped are lying or slutty or whatever. Nope–it’s the meanie feminists, who, for saying that rape culture is fucked up and that men should maybe just get enthusiastic consent, hate all men. Or some such shit. You read the Yes Means Yes blog? I suggest you read it again for comprehension–because while a small subset of men do the majority of the raping, a larger number excuse it and blame women for it. The fear of being raped is actually a quite reasonable one to have in this society. AND not to mention that we’re paranoid and uptight if we take precautions, and we’re reckless and asking for it if we don’t and get raped.

  42. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers May 4, 2010 at 3:28 pm |

    feminists stopped talking about all men as potential rapists when even feminist research (see the yesmeansyes-blog) indicates that it’s a small minority of men.

    But you can’t tell which ones.

    That’s the thing about rapists. They look *exactly* like the guys who don’t rape. So from the perspective of a woman, if you don’t treat all men as potential rapists, you might let your guard down around a rapist. And since society is quick to tell us that if a woman got drunk near a rapist, went to the bedroom of a rapist, let a rapist into her bedroom, or agreed to drive a rapist to the hospital to visit his sick mother, it’s her fault she got raped because what did she expect being alone with a man?… it’s apparently not just feminists who think all men are potential rapists.

  43. Jo
    Jo May 4, 2010 at 3:49 pm |

    Sheelzebub,

    “Where, exactly, is this horrible stain?”

    Well, what you’re mentioning is facts, what I refer to is fear. Remember what I said above –

    “So, yeah, there’s a lot of statistically irrational male fear in this, agreed.”

    Fear is fear. And my point is that taking *that* fear away from guys would be the first step towards an actual dialogue about cultural aspects that may be conducive to rape.

    “I mean, here you are, decrying alleged special treatment for rape cases in the legal system because of the harm done to women but then you seem to think that it does deserve special treatment because of the harm done to men.”

    Where have I done that? I don’t think so. I merely tried to explain *why* discussions about rape tend to become more, well, emotional with respect to the “presumption of innocence” aspect. It’s inherent. And I said was that there is likely only two alternatives to deal with the she says/he says situation of many rape cases: One, simply believing the accuser, and increasing the amount of false positives along with the amount of convictions, and two, keeping the systemic presumption of innocence with its inherent problems of getting to convictions. It’s a problem.

    “AND not to mention that we’re paranoid and uptight if we take precautions”

    See how I was accused of paranoia just one comment above yours? And right now, here, I’m not talking to men about what *we* can do, but about what feminists could do to help men *get over their statistically irrational fears* and *actually* learn to talk *to* each other instead of *about* each other.

    I haven’t said anywhere that “meanie feminists” hate all men, most of them don’t. But even with them there’s a lot of talking past each other, because, by and large, there is no acceptance that, while the male fear may be statistically irrational, *it is real*. It’s not much different than with other gender related male problems. Those that do not completely complement feminist orthodoxy are dismissed with “get over it” (cf. above) but there is hardly ever any attempt to *understand* – in this case why and how irrational fear can be the root of the fundamental social discourse problem about rape.

    I talk to guys about slut shaming and how it’s important to try to understand – citing Glee/Madonna – “what it feels like for a girl.” Now if you could talk to your fellow feminists about how, sometimes, listening to men about their fears in this and other contexts, doesn’t mean you’re collaborating with The Patriarchy, and how their problems are *just as real* to them as yours are to yours, then a lot would be won.

  44. Jo
    Jo May 4, 2010 at 3:55 pm |

    Alara,

    “it’s apparently not just feminists who think all men are potential rapists.”

    no, it’s fundamentally conservative. But feminists are contributing to this damaging and self-reinforcing social narrative even though they should be aware of how problematic it is and usually say how they are the only ones who don’t believe that “men are animals”.

    And by the way, the equally small subset of women who may accuse people of rape for other reasons than actually having been raped also looks like all other women. This line of argument isn’t going to get us very far…

  45. ACG
    ACG May 4, 2010 at 4:11 pm |

    There’s almost no way for this to be taken in the spirit in which it’s intended, but here I go anyway – I think the problem with guys and rape isn’t too much fear but not enough fear. Jo, you mentioned being afraid of a rape allegation from the girl you walked home, and I’m sorry you felt that way. You seem to be a fairly decent guy. But that “paranoia” is something that women feel all the time. Sheelzebub said it – if we take all the necessary precautions and follow the steps that we’re given in freshman orientation, we’re paranoid and uptight and man-hating because we think all men are rapists. But when we let down our guard a little, dog forbid anything should happen, because it’s automatically our fault.

    What if Nicholas Gonzales had been so fearful of a rape accusation that he hadn’t brought this woman home to hear him play the drums, that he’d insisted on staying at the bar (and covering his drink, natch) where everyone could see him? What if every man was so fearful of a rape accusation that they refused to touch a woman unless she was sober enough to give affirmative consent? What if every man was so fearful of a rape accusation that they were determined to evoke no less than a shouted “yes, Jesus, God, don’t stop, don’t ever stop” such that the neighbors would be annoyed and could provide an alibi?

    I don’t want men to have to go around afraid, but I don’t want anyone to go around afraid. And saying that men would be more open to discussion if only they weren’t so afraid once again puts the onus on women to be fearful and take precautions and hope to God they won’t be branded sluts and liars because, come on, nobody could get those pants off.

  46. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub May 4, 2010 at 4:40 pm |

    Again, Jo, you’re full of shit.

    You keep talking about the fear men go through and completely ignore the very valid fear women have. And then you insist it is the job of women to reassure men and “educate” other women about the fear the poor menz have–which is pretty rich, considering the fact that women do NOT have the institutional, economic, or cultural power that men do. Men would be more open to discussion if they weren’t so wed to their privilege–frankly, this fear they have is acknowledged and they are offered silver platters full of fucking hankies by society at large. Again–check any rape case, and the reactions to it. The poor guy couldn’t be guilty, she’s a lying slut, he’s a nice guy, you know! Women lie! They totes do!

    The issue isn’t a handful of feminists making men feel better about being afraid of a false rape accusation–men have an entire culture soothing them over this fear. The issue is privilege–men have it, women don’t, and when women are sexually assaulted, we are not believed and are held to a far different standard. Men have privilege, women don’t, yet the onus is on us to reach out to men and make them feel better.

    You keep parroting the line that women are believed when we come forward with a rape charge. Yet there is hard, statistical and anecdotal evidence that we are NOT believed. We do not get convictions. We are lucky if the case even goes to trial. We are smeared. We are harassed. Some of us are assaulted. We are branded liars, sluts, golddiggers, and far, far worse.

    Those that do not completely complement feminist orthodoxy are dismissed with “get over it”

    Oh, holy fucking dogwhistles, Batman.

    But you know what? I am going to tell you to get over it. You have a shitload of privilege that I do not have. If you are assaulted when you’re out alone at night, you don’t get shamed for your bad choices, you hear about how horrible that was and that they hope the scumbag who did that to you was caught. You are far less likely to be falsely accused of rape than I am, or any other woman is likely to actually be raped. For you to sit there and lecture me and other women that really, we should pet and soothe the ruffled feelings of men who are fearful is just fucking priceless.

    It is NOT my job, or the job of any woman, to reassure you. We’ve been handed this job, granted, by this culture and this society, so don’t worry, there are plenty of women who feel like they should do this and take special pains to do so. But you’ll just have to forgive me and other feminists if we’re a little tired of the obligation to help YOU get over YOUR privilege while we’re also trying to make our own lives better.

    And not for nothing–it’s not as if reassuring men has actually done shit. We’ve been reassuring men and trying to be nice and work with men for years (strawfeminists and “orthodoxy” aside) and it’s gotten us a whole whopping pile of nothing. “Nice guys” still think that girl who says their friend raped her when she was passed out is a lying slut. “Nice guys” decide that their feelings are always far more important than the actual power imbalance (and don’t deny it–men have far more cultural, social, and economic power than women do). “Nice guys” lecture us about due process and then move the goal posts to talk about their feelings because heaven fucking forbid they actually face the facts that in this area, they have inordinate privilege.

    The fear women have of being raped is also real, and unlike your fear of being falsely accused, it is a very valid fear. It’s quite telling that you’ve decided the onus is on women to reassure men over their irrational and ungrounded fear instead of focus on the privilege men have.

  47. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub May 4, 2010 at 4:44 pm |

    See how I was accused of paranoia just one comment above yours?

    Also, do NOT draw a comparison between your situation in a comment thread and the situation of women who deal with rape culture, who are paranoid for not trusting and then asking for it and reckless if they are raped. It is nowhere near the same and it’s insulting and frankly, ignorant for you to even try and draw that parallel. You may call that orthodoxy, but that’s actually just reality.

  48. Rebecca
    Rebecca May 4, 2010 at 5:00 pm |

    To build on what ACG is saying: or how about men learn to be fearful of actually hurting people, rather than just of facing repercussions for hurting people? What if more men were afraid that something that they did would hurt their partner? What if more men were afraid that that girl they were interested in was in no state to consent?

    Also, with regard to due process: I think it would be nice if rape were treated more like all other crimes. You know, where the fact that someone is bringing charges is a point in their favor. If someone’s up on theft charges for stealing a television, “He gave it to me” will not get that person off if the owner denies having given them the television and there’s no proof of transfer.

  49. Julie
    Julie May 4, 2010 at 5:09 pm |

    Estimates put the number of women who are raped over the course of their lifetime between 1 in 3 and 1 in 4. That means that most likely 25-33% of the women you know, meet or walk by on the street have been raped. The chances of being falsely accused of rape are nowhere near that. Nowhere near. Women are not being irrational- if you had a 25-33% chance of dying every time you stepped on a plane, you wouldn’t do it. So, yeah feminists tend to get very pissed off when every discussion of rape automatically has to include “but what if she was lying”. There is very little to be gained by claiming to be raped when you weren’t, unless you enjoy being slut shamed and having your entire sexual history torn apart for everyone you know.

  50. Sailorman
    Sailorman May 4, 2010 at 5:39 pm |

    The criminal system does an unusually poor job of matching with the moral context of rape, probably more so than for the vast majority of other crimes. Rape is inherently an incredibly difficult issue to handle in the criminal context, while it remains a fairly easy issue morally.

    There isn’t really a great middle ground IMO. The criminal issues translate poorly to real life–presumed innocence being an excellent example. And the moral issues translate poorly to the criminal world, insofar as our morality usually isn’t Constitutional in nature.

    When we conflate morality and legalisms, we end up getting into arguments about things like ‘presumed innocence,’ which only exists in the criminal context (there’s no presumed innocence in a civil case, even though you’re in court.) Or, you get into arguments about how legalism should match morality–which would convict many more people of rape, but which would require some wholesale Constitutional revisions.

    I wish there were a word which meant “morally reprehensible conduct which does not meet the legal standard of rape,” for example. But whatever terms get defined, we could use a few more words. Because when “rape” means everything from “attempted sexual assault of an unknown nature” to “drunken sex” to “violent completed rape” it becomes extremely difficult to have a discussion about it.

  51. Faith
    Faith May 4, 2010 at 5:43 pm |

    “That means that most likely 25-33% of the women you know, meet or walk by on the street have been raped.”

    Most rapes are never reported. I know I didn’t report any of instances where I was sexually assaulted. I also know plenty of women who never brought charges either. That means that those stats are actually very -low-. No one has any real idea just how many women have been raped because of the fact that we live in a society that makes it so difficult for women to admit to being raped and to be believed when we say we are raped.

  52. Djinna
    Djinna May 4, 2010 at 10:15 pm |

    I was pleasantly surprised at how the majority of the comments on the article seemed like they were of the “of course a determined rapist can remove any given article of clothing” variety and how few were of the “she’s a lying bitch who obviously consented” variety. And the victim-blamers had all been down-rated into the red zone. Much better than I’d expect on any article on rape, and certainly worlds better than what I’d expect based on the reputation of the denizens of the Daily Mail.

    Yes Means Yes is added to my Amazon list, can’t believe I haven’t before, will definitely spend more time reading through the blog. Been trying to push the concept of enthusiastic assent being the standard for consent in my casual conversations in my peer group, as opposed to “not a no.” My Nigel definitely gets it, but doesn’t quite get that the reason why he’s never been accused of rape isn’t so much a matter of pure luck, as it is due to the fact that he finds enthusiastic consent to be a major turn-on, and ambiguous ambivalence not so much. He’s close to getting it, it’s just the fear that holds him back, I think.

  53. preying mantis
    preying mantis May 4, 2010 at 10:28 pm |

    “I also know plenty of women who never brought charges either. That means that those stats are actually very -low-.”

    I think those statistics are usually gathered by surveying women about whether or not they’ve been assaulted rather than looking at police reporting statistics. It’s a common way to get a bead on reported vs. unreported crime.

  54. RacyT
    RacyT May 5, 2010 at 12:42 am |

    “I was happy when she had locked her door behind her and was honestly afraid the rejection would make her invent a story”

    Yeah. We women *totally invent a fucking rape story* when some random fucking douchbag denies fucking us. You POS.

    As a woman living in the fucking present, where about 98% of women’s jeans are partly spandex, I think that the idea that two people are needed to remove them is so insanely unrealistic that this conversation is a stupid joke. That there are people here suggesting that any women is *crying rape* because their pants are tight is… holy shit. I can’t even put it into words.

  55. RacyT
    RacyT May 5, 2010 at 12:45 am |

    Also, this shit from Jo — feminists are not the ones who say that
    “men are animals”. It’s the anti-feminists who believe that.

  56. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac May 5, 2010 at 3:34 am |

    Sailorman: Because when “rape” means everything from “attempted sexual assault of an unknown nature” to “drunken sex” to “violent completed rape” it becomes extremely difficult to have a discussion about it.

    Only for guys who want to think that the time they had sex with a woman who was so drunk she didn’t really wake up wasn’t actually you know, rape, just because she didn’t actually consent.

    Or the guys who want to think that the guys who do that, nice guys all, aren’t actually you know, rapists.

    Rape means having sex with someone without consent.

  57. Faith
    Faith May 5, 2010 at 6:07 am |

    “I think those statistics are usually gathered by surveying women about whether or not they’ve been assaulted rather than looking at police reporting statistics.”

    I’m still doubting the accuracy of any survey done on rape. I’m not at all a fan of the belief that you can take a small portion of the population and apply the findings to the entire population of the planet. My experiences tell me that a helluva lot more than 25% of women have been assaulted/raped. My experiences are obviously not any more scientific than surveying random women, but I’m one of those silly people who tends to believe her own experience over random “scientific” studies.

  58. The Chemist
    The Chemist May 5, 2010 at 7:49 am |

    “but I’m one of those silly people who tends to believe her own experience over random “scientific” studies.”

    Silly is right. Best methods are almost always imperfect methods, which doesn’t change the fact that they are the best methods. People who love anecdotes over data, in particular, often cause more problems than they solve. It’s a common human conceit, that the stories we are personally familiar with are more significant to us. This same conceit forms the cognitive basis for prejudice and the kinds of problematic generalizations which are denounced on this very blog. It’s the way our brains are wired- and our brains didn’t evolve to be logical, they evolved to help us survive in the wilderness. We can transcend it or embrace it, I prefer the former obviously.

  59. Sailorman
    Sailorman May 5, 2010 at 8:02 am |

    Jesurgislac 5.5.2010 at 3:34 am
    Rape means having sex with someone without consent.

    The word is used much more widely than that, and commonly includes things which are less widely accepted than “sex without consent.” The much cited 33%-are-raped statistic, for example, includes things other than “sex.” most studies also include both attempted and completed rape, etc.

    All of those uses are individually valid in the context in which they were used. But the flexibility of the term leads to poor communication because of the disparity in meaning.

    So for example, when you say something like “33% of women are raped” and then look at conviction rates for rape, the numbers don’t match. Part of the reason the numbers don’t match is that the meaning of “rape” in the 33% statistic and the meaning of “rape” in the criminal statistic are completely different.

    I’m making a meta-point, here: the discussion about rape, and how to fix it/reduce it/deal with people who commit it/etc is hampered by the fact that most of the people involved are using their own personal definitions of almost all the important terms involved: consent, rape, sex, guilt, innocence… that isn’t a good thing.

  60. preying mantis
    preying mantis May 5, 2010 at 9:30 am |

    “Yeah. We women *totally invent a fucking rape story* when some random fucking douchbag denies fucking us. You POS.”

    The great thing about that particular phobia is that false reports of rape aren’t any higher than false reports of any other crime. It doesn’t make any more sense to be afraid of false accusations of rape, in the event that you are completely and utterly above reproach in your behavior, than it does to be afraid of false accusations of theft or battery or false imprisonment or what have you. Hell, given the microscope rape victims are put under when they report, it makes quite a bit more sense to be afraid that someone who’s pissed at you for not having sex with them, or not calling the next morning, or because it’s Tuesday, will accuse you of, say, stealing $150 out of their wallet.

    Of course, because we have that wonderful cultural narrative telling us that women are not only liars, but such liars that they are far more likely to lie about having been raped than a male rapist is to lie about his innocence, that’s not how the situation is perceived.

  61. The Chemist
    The Chemist May 5, 2010 at 10:22 am |

    @Sailorman

    [Potentially triggering material]

    I often see that statistic labeled as “sexual assault”. Sexual assualt is a broader term, but it’s functionally rape. Attempted rape is a serious thing, that can often cause as much harm as “completed” rape. You don’t need to have penetration for it to be “sex” and you don’t need penetration for it to be rape, either.

    Just because penetration hasn’t occurred during an event, it doesn’t mean that the level of harm is less, or that the victim wasn’t violated. This is not taking into account the number of rapes that are never reported. Which makes this a low estimate, not a high one.

    “Different definitions” of rape is legal question, not a moral one, and the law should rise to meet moral standards, not define them.

  62. jen
    jen May 5, 2010 at 10:53 am |

    The word is used much more widely than that, and commonly includes things which are less widely accepted than “sex without consent.” The much cited 33%-are-raped statistic, for example, includes things other than “sex.” most studies also include both attempted and completed rape, etc.

    Ugh… So “sex” is solely constituted by penis-in-vagina-or-anus-penetration, according to your expertise? And that’s the only “actual” rape, i.e., in your words, “completed” rape? Everything else is but a little more than groping? And you wrote that individual definitions of the word “rape” aren’t a good thing, but actually do that yourself, and in a very troubling way (distinguishing “compelte” from some sort of “incomplete” (=not) rape, presumably in the context of penetration)? Ugh…

  63. Sailorman
    Sailorman May 5, 2010 at 12:17 pm |

    Chemist and Jen, that’s not at all what i am saying. I don’t care what the definitions are, I care that they are different.

    And so should you.

    If the goal is to facilitate communication and discussion, then the discussion needs to share a common language. Without that commonality, the discussion is less productive. Not only does the discussion often devolve into debating which appropriate definition to use, but the wide range of definitions mean that both agreements and disagreements can be based on mutual mistake.

    This has nothing to do with legal definitions. In fact, in the limited context of law we have the definitions pretty well set out, and we don’t have that particular problem (I actually do a bit of DV work, though I only represent victims.) It does sort of include legality, though, insofar as a huge percentage of the population uses a definition of rape which is often taken from the legal world and which is far less inclusive than is the moral definition.

    Similarly, “different definitions of rape” also has nothing to do with real morality. Changing a name doesn’t change the underlying morality of an action, not by a whit. Replacing “rapist” with “UFGDGFD@!” wouldn’t make it any better.

    No, it’s all about communication. And that happens to be something that I do a lot of. I’d be saying the same thing if we were talking about something other than rape; in fact, I’ve often made the point about race (the fact that the word “racist” is used to include everything from “inadvertently failing to become aware of and compensate for privilege conveyed by birth” to “intentionally seeking to harm someone based on pure racial animus” has led to a lot of pointless argument.)

    In this single thread, you have a criminal case (legal rape) and a discussion of societal views (some other definition, close to legal rape than to moral rape) and a discussion of some of the rape studies (closer to moral rape than to legal rape) and references to moral rape (generally the broadest definition) and discussions of reporting (usually yet another level, somewhere between criminal and moral rape, closer to the latter) and references to false convictions and reporting of rape (yet again a new statistic, and one which is often misunderstood.)

    All of those things refer to “rape.”
    But “rape” means different things in each and every one of those contexts.

    I don’t think that’s a good thing, is all, if the goal is to actually understand what the hell to do about it. Or, if the goal is to actually use information from one discussion as a base for the next discussion.

  64. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable May 5, 2010 at 12:41 pm |

    “So for example, when you say something like “33% of women are raped” and then look at conviction rates for rape, the numbers don’t match. Part of the reason the numbers don’t match is that the meaning of “rape” in the 33% statistic and the meaning of “rape” in the criminal statistic are completely different.”

    …Also, conviction rates are different because saying you’ve been raped is not the same as having pressed charges for rape and often when people do press charges, shit like the above article happen.

    Let’s not try to pretend that the biggest issue with regards to rape culture is a semantic one.

  65. Hale
    Hale May 5, 2010 at 1:11 pm |

    I have to say though, while the “Jeans” view makes a gripping headline I assume it’s only one piece of the case. If there was any other evidence the man would have been brought to justice. Feminism is fine but not when it means accepting any claim regardless of evidence.

  66. Tori
    Tori May 5, 2010 at 1:22 pm |

    If there was any other evidence the man would have been brought to justice.

    Hale, to echo Jill — SERIOUSLY?

    When I was raped, there was:
    — sufficient seminal fluid for a DNA swap
    — significant vaginal bruising and tearing
    — clothing that may or may not have been torn
    — significant non-genital injuries, including nail gouges & brusing at the shoulders and a dislocated knee
    — an admission from my rapist that he had noticed me struggling to get away during the attackThe police determined that there was insufficient evidence to even make an arrest.

  67. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub May 5, 2010 at 2:10 pm |

    If there was any other evidence the man would have been brought to justice. Feminism is fine but not when it means accepting any claim regardless of evidence.

    Ahem. I can think of a gang-rape cases where the assault was videotaped and the rapists did not get convicted. I can also think of another gang-rape case where the video evidence didn’t help in the first trial (hung jury) and only got them convicted on a few counts in the second trial.

    So you know–that compelling evidence of which you speak? Doesn’t do too much in a lot of rape cases, since we all know those women are totes lying sluts and besides which, if you believe your lying eyes then you hate due process.

  68. Hel
    Hel May 6, 2010 at 6:03 am |

    I’m happy, I am not living in US.

    Do yo know o figure any reasons why the stadistics of sexual attacks are so high in US?.

  69. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub May 6, 2010 at 7:11 am |

    Dunno, Hel. I lived in Japan, and many there claimed there was no rape, but anyone who came forward was so slut-shamed and harassed, and the violence so excused, that the upshot was no one reported it. There were studies that showed the actual rate was just as high as here, it just wasn’t reported to the cops.

  70. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub May 6, 2010 at 7:14 am |

    Also, just to point out, the OP was about a rape case in Australia. I don’t think it’s helpful to assume that only certain places have a high rate of sexual assault. People would ask me how I could deal with living in Japan with all of the sexism there, and would get terribly defensive when I pointed out that it was just as bad in North America and Europe. When a place has patriarchal privilege, these problems will exist.

  71. Hel
    Hel May 6, 2010 at 8:15 am |

    You are right, I have been looking at the stadistics. I thougt that it was not the case of Spain because there is no public awareness of the fact.

  72. The Chemist
    The Chemist May 6, 2010 at 8:41 am |

    @Sheelzebub

    There was a photo project (that of course I now cannot find for the life of me) that was a call for people to either answer what they thought feminism was, or to finish the sentence “Feminism is…” (I can’t remember which) by holding up a sign with their view and having their picture taken.

    You got some good stuff in there, and some really godawful douchebaggery (“Feminism is about complaining” etc.) I thought about what I would have written given the chance and one thought was, “Feminism is also about women right here.” I think this has to be emphasized time and time again, simply because the greatest potential to engage in constructive activism is always in the immediate vicinity- whatever the cause. Just about everything else is hand-waving that lets people feel superior because they’re better adapted to their form of patriarchy and have gotten comfortable ignoring it. It’s pathetic and it’s frustrating.

    I remember Chomsky once talked about moral discussion versus academic discussion. Someone asked about the oppression of women in Afghanistan and his opposition to war there. I think he gave a really good answer. He said that it’s not really possible to have a discussion about women in Afghanistan that has any moral value, because their is little to nothing that we can do about it. That we should be concerned primarily with what we do and not what others do (even as we acknowledge their failings). I found the video if it at all interests you.

  73. UnAttributableSpoon
    UnAttributableSpoon May 6, 2010 at 11:51 am |

    I was talking a bit about this article with a dear male friend last night. He told me, knowing of my past experiences of sexual violence, that he believed that ‘rape’ was mis- and overused.

    I…just don’t know what to say and am trying to understand this. But I don’t, because he professes to “adore” women. Yeah sure, you adore them A., but not enough to treat us like cognizant human beings.

    Do I jsut expect too much from my male friends that this shit isn’t okay? Am I being too sensitive? I have no idea. But I do know that I’m sick and tired of men who don’t understand either because they know better and don’t give a shit, or jsut have no clue telling me that it’s not a very important issue and that I should “lighten up”.

    Fuck you! Serious Feminist is Serious!

  74. The Chemist
    The Chemist May 6, 2010 at 2:40 pm |

    @UnAttributableSpoon

    As someone who was a scummy sexist (and still lapses, but is much improved), let me say that men who say they “adore”, “love”, or “think women are great!” may as well wear big flashing neon signs saying, “Nice Guy! (TM)”. (I wanted to say “respect” but that can depend heavily on context, unlike the others.) See what they really mean is they love, adore, and respect some women (the ones that aren’t sluts). Women they are attracted to, women they know, and women not in any real position of power over them.

    If a cis-straight male is saying they like women to indicate anything other than the fact they are straight (hopefully in a relevant conversation), what they mean is,

    “I want to protect women because that’s what they really need in this world right now. Protection. From me. Women can’t do it all alone, they need me and my help. I haven’t met a woman that can reason as well, argue as well, or fight sexism as well as I. This frustrates me. That UnattributableSpoon doesn’t understand. She needs us men to get equal rights. How can she do that if she keeps accusing us all of rape?”

    Notice all the personal pronouns? Is it at all surprising he doesn’t take you seriously? If this doesn’t sound convincing to you, let me assure you that it could have easily been a direct transcript of a thought I was having circa 18 or 19 years old. (Please, try not to hate me too much. I assure you my own opinion of myself isn’t that great, and I had anything but an average childhood to start my adult life with.)

    Is it too much to expect your friend to be held to a higher standard? Hell fucking no! We choose our friends, and it’s entirely up to you to decide their caliber. If you’re at all interested in a project- he does not sound salvageable to me, but you know him better obviously.

    What you should tell him? Nothing. If you’re inclined to waste some trees/toner/ink and pry his eyes open for whatever reason- slap down a sheaf of papers from RAINN and the FBI on his crotch (okay maybe not literally) with sexual assault stats, tell him he has 30 seconds to make a decision about whether or not women are human beings, regardless of his personal feelings of affection for some of them; and if he doesn’t get it, he’s not going to. Maybe, YEARS later, he’ll get it and it’ll be because you refused to grant him the legitimacy of his privilege by being his “feminist friend.” Hopefully he’ll come to his senses before he has a lot to answer for.

  75. The Chemist
    The Chemist May 6, 2010 at 2:44 pm |

    Oh and I want to clarify something in my above comment. Women are not responsible for douchebaggery and male privilege because they associate with someone. When I talk about refusing to grant legitimacy, I’m talking about this Nice Guy’s (TM) perceived legitimacy and him trying to capitalize on it. Not actual legitimacy-legitimacy.

  76. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub May 7, 2010 at 8:23 am |

    @The Chemist–thanks for the link to the vid!

    @Hel, I hope I didn’t make you feel singled out; I’m one of those people who has to clarify and add stuff.

    @Unattributable, I find that people who do that are hairsplitting (well, we need more concrete terms, blah blah blah yeah, WE DO IN THE LEGAL SYSTEM BUT WE AREN’T IN A COURT OF LAW DISCUSSING CHARGES DIPSHIT). And they hairsplit because they’d rather distract attention away from their privilege. And I tend to see red flags when someone goes on and on about how they “love” or “adore” women–it seems that every d00d I’ve met who’s said that turned out to be a sexist, entitled, narcissistic dirtbag.

  77. ACG
    ACG May 7, 2010 at 10:03 am |

    @The Chemist and @Sheelzebub – The thing that gets me about men who “adore” and “love” women (outside of, as you mentioned, a profession of heterosexuality) put women in the same category as pumpkin bread. I love pumpkin bread. Oh dear God in heaven do I love pumpkin bread. But even accounting for variations in recipe, “pumpkin bread” is a far less diverse category than “women.”

    A man who says “I love women” has to be prepared to answer the question, “And what do you love about women? Is it our gentle nature? Our light, floral scent? Our maternal instinct? Our expertise in the kitchen? Our lacy, frilly attire?” Or, for that matter, “Our skill in the garage? Our high score on ‘Left for Dead 2’? Our passionate advocacy?” Because unless he’s ready to amend to, “I love women who…” he’s really more in love with whatever concept of “women” he has in his head. No wonder he has trouble relating to the real-world version.

    And now I really, really want some pumpkin bread.

  78. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac May 7, 2010 at 11:21 am |

    Sailorman: If the goal is to facilitate communication and discussion, then the discussion needs to share a common language.

    Agreed. You may now from henceforth adopt our common language, and use “rape” when you mean “sex without consent”. You may also encourage other people whom you find to be using the language which tries to define rape as something other than the simple “sex without consent”, to make use of our common language to facilitate communication.

    In this way you will be facilitating communication and discussion, and you will also be helping to unbuild a significant part of rape culture.

    Do you see a problem with this?

  79. UnAttributableSpoon
    UnAttributableSpoon May 7, 2010 at 12:18 pm |

    @The Chemist, Sheezlebub, and ACG:

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. I don’t often seek validation on the internet (I much prefer looking at pictures of silly kitties and web comics), but for so long I’ve heard from my guy friends to ‘lighten up’ or “relax!” that sometimes I wonder if my ‘sexist thermometer’ is out of whack. Very rarely am I encouraged to be angry about things like this. It’s refreshing to discover than no, I’m not just touchy and overreacting. Thank you so much…

  80. Sailorman
    Sailorman May 7, 2010 at 12:57 pm |

    Jesurgislac 5.7.2010 at 11:21 am

    Sailorman: If the goal is to facilitate communication and discussion, then the discussion needs to share a common language.

    Agreed. You may now from henceforth adopt our common language, and use “rape” when you mean “sex without consent”. You may also encourage other people whom you find to be using the language which tries to define rape as something other than the simple “sex without consent”, to make use of our common language to facilitate communication.

    In this way you will be facilitating communication and discussion, and you will also be helping to unbuild a significant part of rape culture.

    Do you see a problem with this?

    No and yes.

    No because it’s a perfectly valid definition of rape (why would I have a problem with that?);

    yes because it still leads to the exact same communication problems as before. There are–IMO–too many areas to be easily discussed using a single label, whatever that label is.

    When you say “our common language” I don’t think there is a common language.

    Say that you decide–reasonably–to use “rape” to refer to “everything of a sexual nature which happens without full consent.” That’s a huge spectrum from “just over the line” to “eligible for the death penalty,” right? So you never know exactly what is mean when you hear the word–or if you do know, it’s usually not enough information to have a real discussion about it. It’s like discussing “how to reduce violence” without distinguishing between “premeditated murder” and “bullying” and “pushing past someone as you storm out of the room in a huff.”

    Violence is an excellent example: The reason that we have so many words and terms and laws which differentiate “levels” or “types” of violence is because those different terms really aid discussion and planning and policy and, frankly, dealing with it.

    I think you are failing to see that the limited word “rape” is a holdover from when it was rarely applied and from when a lot of things (spousal rape, rape of certain oppressed people, etc.) weren’t classified as “rape” at ALL. Those other terms to define various forms or types of rape don’t exist because the system back then didn’t really care about them as we do now.

    So I think we’re coming at this from different angles. You seem resistant to expanding the terminology. Perhaps you feel it will somehow “dilute” rape, or that it will brand some rapes as “lesser;” this is a common fear.

    I think that having more and better terminology will increase the power that can be brought to stop/enforce/discuss rape. It won’t make matters worse, it will make matters much better. When trying to deal with domestic violence issues, it is incredibly helpful to have the term and field of “domestic violence” instead of trying to fit it into general “violence” discourse.

  81. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable May 7, 2010 at 1:36 pm |

    You seem resistant to expanding the terminology. Perhaps you feel it will somehow “dilute” rape, or that it will brand some rapes as “lesser;” this is a common fear.

    …But that’s exactly what happens with first degree, second degree battery, isn’t it? One of those is seen as lesser. And that’s using the example that you gave.

  82. Sailorman
    Sailorman May 7, 2010 at 3:15 pm |

    On rereading, and seeing PA’s question, I realize that I wasn’t clear in my past post, at all. Let me clarify.

    The levels exist, but we shouldn’t fear them.

    PrettyAmiable 5.7.2010 at 1:36 pm
    …But that’s exactly what happens with first degree, second degree battery, isn’t it? One of those is seen as lesser. And that’s using the example that you gave.

    Is it that one is seen as “lesser,” or that one is seen as “needing extra serious attention?” I’m not trying to be snarky here, just noting that to some degree it’s an issue of framing. I’ll pick that up more in a moment, but first:

    Has having those levels of assaults made things worse or better for the people at the bottom end of the scale?

    I argue that it has made it better, not worse. And it will do the same for rape.

    Because what has happened is that the lower levels have allowed us to discuss and address behavior which was previously ignored or not addressed. Even when it became illegal for men to beat their wife, men could still give “just a little smack,” right? And plenty of people got “just a punch” if they were in the “wrong place,” with little or not recourse.

    Well, that’s a lot harder to do now, courtesy of things like misdemeanor assaults and restraining orders and other things which were specifically designed to address the “lower level but important” aspects of violence.

    If you want to stop lower level stuff, it’s damn difficult to do with a law and a precedent which were originally designed to address much worse stuff.

    So, back to the framing. Some folks take the position “all rape is rape, and giving it levels demeans the people who aren’t placed into the highest category. So giving levels would hurt people.”

    I take the opposite view, because I think it would help people. Right now, those people on the rape spectrum who are farthest away from “forcible violent rape” aren’t getting shit in terms of help. They basically never get a conviction. They rarely get government or societal help at all. Many people don’t think that their experiences ‘qualify’ as rape, and because there is nothing much other than “rape/norape” then a lot of them get slotted in to the “norape” side.

    They are in the similar situation as were people in the not-so-long-ago days who were not included in the societal treatment of assault, because the assault standards were so high.

    And we do need to “rank” a lot of horrible things already. I mean, some DV victims are classed as simple assault and battery and some as major A&B and some as A&B with a deadly weapon. It doesn’t mean that the simple A&B ones aren’t victims, or that they don’t deserve support and a restraining order. It just means that we recognize that the other ones deserve EXTRA help and support. (there’s that framing thing again, which I referred to earlier.) We are capable, I think, of coming up with some similar spectrum and treatment for rape, which would allow us to include a much larger spectrum in what we address.

  83. Rebecca
    Rebecca May 7, 2010 at 7:49 pm |

    Sailorman, part of the problem with what you’re suggesting is that even when you frame it as recognizing different degrees in order to provide some victims extra support, it’s still an aggressor-focused model of determining harm. If someone considering suicide because her partner raped her and someone who’s mostly fine after the same experience are in the same category, but the person violently attacked by a stranger is the only one determined to need “extra” support, we have a problem.

  84. ep
    ep May 9, 2010 at 7:19 am |

    When I was raped, it was by a roommate. We were both medical students. We are now, twenty years later, both practicing physicians, he in family practice.
    I never made a complaint to anyone, much less press charges.
    No question at all that this assault was forced, there was no consent, and therefore he was liable as a felonious criminal. And that this one incident has not been documented within our criminal system…well, 33% percent lifetime incidence of being raped, per woman, is likely a gross underestimate.
    No question at all that this was rape is not just my assertion…the subsequent fear in his eyes when dealing with me, even years later, the avoidance, the offer on his part to move out of the house immediately, which even that I declined. We never discussed this forthrightly, because why put myself through that? I’d already been assaulted, he already knew he was guilty.
    If anyone is still checking this thread, I’d be interested in feedback. Because my fear is that I let someone off who might have done it again. I’ll never know now.

    1. Cara
      Cara May 9, 2010 at 8:29 am |

      ep,

      He very well may do it again. A lot of rapists are repeat offenders. And that is absolutely awful.

      But we all do what we have to do to survive. We all cope in different ways. And if he does it again, that is on him, not on you. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

  85. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub May 10, 2010 at 9:32 am |

    Sailorman, we don’t get into hairsplitting marathons over the definition/levels of theft if someone is robbed. There are varioius legal definitions and levels for every crime, but we don’t sweat them outside of the courtroom unless it’s to do with rape. I see no problem with calling a rape a rape, a theft a theft, etc.

  86. Sadie
    Sadie May 12, 2010 at 5:02 am |

    Sailorman–

    If you want to be able to describe different “levels” of rape, there are already quite a few phrases that you can use and emulate: “spousal rape,” “vaginal rape,” “acquaintance rape,” etc. Notice the similarity. They are all rape.

    I am still ambivalent about whether I was raped, in two different situations–both with people I care deeply about, both situations where I was uncomfortable, and one involving no penetration at all. I think that my ambivalence has much less to do with semantics and much more to do with cultural expectations based on my previous actions and my relationships with these two men.

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