What did she expect to happen?

That’s the question a Fox News contributor is asking about the Maryville rape victim. She snuck out! She drank! What did she think was going to happen? As a woman who in my youth did sometimes sneak out, drink and appear in the same room as young men, here is a brief and thoroughly non-exhaustive list of everything I expected to happen on the nights I went out:

I expected to have fun.
I expected to socialize.
I expected to get to know a new cute boy.
I expected to bond with the female friend going out with me.
I expected to laugh.
I expected to feel the thrill of doing something against the rules.
I expected to flirt.
I expected to feel the giddiness of a new crush.
I expected to flirt more because drinking made me feel braver.
I expected to feel the high of a combination of booze and adrenaline and hormones.
I expected that if I over-indulged, my friends would have my back.

Here are things I suppose I knew COULD possibly in some universe happen, but did not realistically think WOULD happen:

That a serial killer would find me on my way home and kill me.
That my parents would be so mad at the sneaking out that they’d disown me.
That I would slip on my windowsill, crack my head and die.
That we would hit a man on our car ride home, flee the scene and someone would kill us off one by one as revenge.
That my crush would end up being a sadistic misogynist, and would rape me and leave me to freeze to death on my front lawn.

Very few people think their friends and romantic interests are rapists. Does Joseph DiBenedetto, the defense attorney and commentator in question, think his friends are rapists? (Maybe). If he goes out late without getting permission and he drinks, is that a “telltale sign” that he’s lying about everything that happened afterward, as he says is the case for Daisy Coleman? No. If he thinks that women who go out at night and drink alcohol cannot be rape victims because they’re inviting rape upon themselves, is he someone who probably should not be left unattended with women or children? Yes.


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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
This entry was posted in Rape Culture, Sexual Assault and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to What did she expect to happen?

  1. TomSims says:

    I got nauseous after I first read about this case a few days ago. One girl was 14 and the other only 13. The rapists should get 25 years to life in my non lawyer opinion. And the public officials that fixed the case should get lethal injection. I know this will never happen, but one can dream.

  2. Whosagooddog? says:

    If he thinks that women who go out at night and drink alcohol cannot be rape victims because they’re inviting rape upon themselves, is he someone who probably should not be left unattended with women or children? Yes.

    Yeah, this is one of those things that always shocks me about rape apologists. Do they not get that, in addition to being considered colossal asshats, they are likely to be perceived as potential rapists themselves? I mean, if someone defends a date-rapist, for example, by arguing that the victim “wanted it” or “had it coming”, I’m sure as sh*t not gonna leave my drink unattended around him after that, you know?

  3. karak says:

    I always love the smugness inherent in statements like this, because the speaker knows he’s not likely to get raped. He probably did something that wasn’t a great idea as a teenager and didn’t think someone was going to rape him, or that he deserved to be raped. But then again, he’s a man and his actions don’t need to be kept in line with the threat of rape.

    And I love the conflation of “expected” and “deserved”. I expect my mother is going to die, does that mean I “deserve” my mother to die? That I’m not allowed to be upset when she does die? As a woman, I “expect” street harassment and (possibly) some form of sexual assault (again) but that doesn’t mean I deserve it, or that I’m not allowed to leave my house, or I don’t have the right to state that it’s wrong, or to seek justice. I certainly don’t deserve to be run out of town and have my house burn down.

    Those girls were just that–girls, not women. They were children. And when children get hurt, we don’t rush to explain to them that we’re going to leave them to die naked in the cold and then burn down their house so they learn something.

  4. Cher Nobelle says:

    I must say what’s sadder is the incredibly low conviction rate of rape in this country. RAINN reports that only 9 percent of rapists get prosecuted and only 3 percent ever spend a day in jail. It’s not only “asshats,” but whole juries who don’t convict. Disturbing.

  5. EG says:

    When I went out drinking as a teenager I expected to get drunk. I expected the exhileration of dancing to a good band. I expected to wake up hungover. But no, I never expected to raped, and hey, guess what? I wasn’t, because nobody raped me. My expectations were realistic. Fox News’s expectations are fucked up. Going out drinking doesn’t entail rape. Rapists entail rape.

  6. It seems like young men are allowed to make silly mistakes like sneaking out and getting drunk, but young women are not. We have this stigma that everyone of the female gender should know they run the risk of being raped, just by being a woman. And that if they dress a certain way, get drunk, or make any questionable choices (no matter how small) they are wrong, because they should know they’re women.

  7. Anon says:

    Yeah, like I said on another thread with my real name (hey, if you are paying attention, you know who this is anyway), I was part of a real life convo with young male members of my family that including lots of statements like, “Well, women should be more careful.” Oh, I’m SORRY, I didn’t realize that I should have interpreted, “Hey, come to my home town and meet my parents and go to a Halloween party with some mutual friends from my hometown” as “I plan to have sex with you, despite you saying ‘no’ and ‘please stop’ (all too quietly, because I was, sadly embarrassed to be in this position and in HIS PARENTS’ HOUSE and I wasn’t sure what to do). I cannot be trusted.” Silly me! I thought I was safe when I should have realized that having a vagina meant that I needed to stay huddled in my home for life lest I be ‘punished’ for doing things that ‘I should have realized’ would lead to me being hurt.

  8. Computer Soldier Porygon says:

    The worst thing I EXPECTED to happen during my teen sneaking out and drinking days is, I don’t know, to get in trouble with my parents or possibly busted and slapped with an MIP? That’s pretty much it.

  9. scallywag says:

    On one hand you have those who believe a 14 year old girl plied with alcohol to the point of unconsciousness ought to be held accountable for ‘foolish’ decisions, and then there are others who ask how it is that a young man can force himself on an incapacitated child and not for one moment stop to think that they might be doing something wrong or abusive. 

    Which raises the question what is it about our culture where young men go about claiming their innocence and worse their parents now screaming from the top of their lungs that it is their son who is really innocent…..and of course the real victim….???

    What happened to men taking responsibility for their actions…?

    http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2013/10/matthew-barnetts-mother-shirley-barnett-breaks-down-my-son-is-the-the-victim-here/

  10. McMike says:

    It isnt about what one is being allowed or not, but about the risks one incurs. If a woman goes to a private party she is more likely to be raped than say if she goes out to a club in a big city like berlin or NY .

    If articles like those discourage women to go out and get drunk at the houses of the parents of jocks whats so bad about it? If you think about the cases that got publicity it was always at the private home of some sport jock.

    • EG says:

      If a woman goes to a private party she is more likely to be raped than say if she goes out to a club in a big city like berlin or NY .

      Evidence? Of any kind?

      If articles like those discourage women to go out and get drunk at the houses of the parents of jocks whats so bad about it?

      Because they place the blame for the decision on the young woman, rather than the rapists.

      • Angie unduplicated says:

        Rape, especially in this case, is not about the girls. It’s about the small-town big-wheel attitude of “I own this city, I can do as I damn well please, and I’ll swat you down if you interfere”. These bozos just discovered that there is no iron curtain or Berlin Wall at the county line. Bless all of the good reporters who headlined this case.

      • Angie unduplicated says:

        To clarify, male privilege/rape culture are like roach infestation-they contaminate anything, anywhere in their milieu, not just the victim of the defined act.

      • McMike says:

        No they caution against reckless behaviour. The thief is to be blamed, but leaving the car keys in an unlocked car isnt the smartest decision ever. Its best to know that beforehand before learning from experience.

      • Lolagirl says:

        Nope. Nope. Nope.

        An unlocked car is nothing like an intoxicated person. No. Stop right there. The car has no awareness of it being violated by a theft, and it and whatever contents may be broken and/or stolen from it are just fungible, replaceable stuff.

        A person is not a fungible, replaceable, fixable thing. Just no.

        FFS

      • ldouglas says:

        That’s not how analogies work.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        So those boys should have expected to be raped too and should have their reckless behavior discouraged? And people who work in tall buildings should expect to have a plane hit them and need to have their reckless behavior discouraged. School children should expect to be shot at school, and we should discourage their reckless school attendance.

      • Bullshit. To a carjacker, my keys in the front seat are a bonus for their pre-existing happy bouncy larceny agenda, not a reason to develop one in the first place.

      • Fat Steve says:

        It’s not ok to steal a car even if the keys are in. If you’re caught stealing a car, you can’t give the excuse that the keys were left in it and expect any less harsh a sentence.

        Also, if you were drunk and someone asked you for your car keys and then they stole your car, they would still be guilty of stealing your car.

      • Ally S says:

        Bullshit. To a carjacker, my keys in the front seat are a bonus for their pre-existing happy bouncy larceny agenda, not a reason to develop one in the first place.

        Well said.

    • Chataya says:

      I’ve been drunk and naked in a room full of men, a couple of whom had expressed sexual interest in me, and I wasn’t raped. Do you know why?

      Because none of them were rapists.

      It’s not that they weren’t attracted to women, had remarkable self control, or had some kind of special consent-sensing faculties that men who play sports (?) lack. It’s not that they were particularly noble or exceptional examples of the male sex.

      None of them were rapists.

  11. Liz says:

    The NIJ reports that 3% of males (not taking into account underreporting) experience an attempted or actual sexual assault in their lifetime, and the numbers are rising. So maybe when this…THING goes out to celebrate how great of a lawyer he is and has a few too many cocktails, someone in the men’s room might decide to cop an unwanted feel (I wouldn’t wish rape on anyone–even him). Then some other enlightened soul can ask him, “Well, you’re half-soused. What did you expect?”

  12. *obligatory rant about the difference between blaming victims and studying predator patterns*

    *obligatory agreement that this person is a fucknut who is not interested in the latter*

    *obligatory pointing out that I have a child and fuck you I’m not sacrificing her body to an ideology of uninformation*

    *obligatory mention of the difference between risk management and responsibility*

    *entirely voluntary statement to the effect that I’m tired of being a broken fucking record on this*

    *even more voluntary statement that I’m tired of having to be*

    • ldouglas says:

      *obligatory pointing out that I have a child and fuck you I’m not sacrificing her body to an ideology of uninformation*

      You’re amazing, and I’m sorry nobody seems to be taking your points to heart. I think everything you’ve posted on this issue is spot-on and if I could replace the mainstream ideology with yours, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

  13. Peter says:

    Hmmm…I’ve been around a lot of drunk women and can’t ever recall having rape fantasies.

    Mr. “What did she expect?” perhaps is revealing his own psychological projection of his rape fantasies.

    • I know, right?

      Mostly when I look at really drunk people, I have the vague urge to pat them on the head and tell them to go the fuck to sleep before they embarrass themselves.

  14. Anna P says:

    Women are NOT more likely to get raped if they wear skimpy clothing or go to parties or bars. F-k all this “rape prevention!” bull that’s used as an excuse to make women feel guilty for acting like human beings instead of Gertie dolls.

    You know who’s most likely, statistically, to get raped? A woman who’s “safe” at home with her boyfriend or husband like a good little girl.

  15. Anna P says:

    And even if it could be proved that going to a party increased your chances of getting raped, the decent thing to do would be to try and end that risk. Not to tell women, “Oh well, that’s what you get for trying to lead a life outside convent walls. Only men get to have fun in this world, don’t you know!”

    Nobody tells men, “Hey, going to parties, and getting drunk increases your chance of getting robbed, so better spend your life in bed.”

  16. Bee says:

    I think the scariest thing about rape culture is how we are continually hearing the “what did she expect would happen” apologist mindset, spouted out by either conservative talking heads, or someone else being paid to be horrible in that particular moment (eg. lawyers).

    It not only venerates the rapists, it sends out a message of support to all other men who choose to rape. It creates a justification in their minds, and allows for the “she’s asking for it” mindset to continue to thrive.

  17. Odrade says:

    This kind of logic should be used more often. It has all kinds of uses, for instance, did you know that being president of the United States is the most deadly position there is? Then all the assassinated ones should have *realized* that taking such a radical and visible stance would get them killed. Who can really blame the killer for reacting to such provocative behavior? I mean, we are all human beings, and the trigger to kill each other is ingrained deep in our biology. You should not put yourself up as a target for such a powerful instinct! And then there are political activists, Gandhi should have *realized*, and MLK, and Malcolm X and just about anyone who was taking a provocative stance, they should have *realized*, any black person ever being lynched obviously should have *realized* that they were not free people, they should not just go live in the world, existing, saying stuff, going about. And women, we should *realize* that we are indeed not free. And stop acting as such, at once.

  18. Alara Rogers says:

    It’s not that I don’t believe we should warn our children (girls and boys) about the dangers of getting drunk, especially around people you don’t know well. But we need to fucking stop with the “what did she expect?” because no one should have to *expect* to be raped if they were drunk.

    I “protected” myself from rape in college by not drinking and watching my sodas to make sure no one dropped roofies in them. But I hung out in boys’ dorm rooms late at night and allowed boys to hang out in mine. I went out walking late at night to go to social events and walked multiple blocks alone down dark city streets. I went over guys’ houses when they offered to show me some cool anime I’d never seen and I had no transportation home aside from them, and the worst that ever happened to me was a really gross kiss that didn’t happen again because the guy who kissed me was *not a rapist*.

    I dressed in weather appropriate clothes in the summer. Still didn’t get raped.

    I spent the night half naked in a guy’s bedroom because it was so late at night when I dropped him off that I was too tired to go home. He didn’t rape me.

    What we do when we get raped is significantly less relevant than what the rapist does. Because you can do everything “right” and be raped, or do everything “wrong” and not be. So take personal precautions, sure, blah blah, but it is *never* a rape victim’s fault and *never* what she should have expected, regardless of wht she was doing.

    The wages of drunkenness are supposed to be hangovers and puking. Not rape.

  19. Livien says:

    I haven’t commented on here before, but I wanted to mention my experience. I attended a university where alcohol was totally prohibited, where you could not have a person of the opposite gender in your bedroom or even in the entire apartment after certain hours, and a strict code of dress was enforced. Rape still happened, as near as I can tell, at the same rate as at the state university nearby. You can remove any factor from the equation, alcohol, sneaking out, immodest clothing, etc.; you can limit women’s behavior in a myriad of ways; but the only thing that will ever stop rapes from happening is to STOP RAPISTS. There are ways that have been proven to help with this, why isn’t society more focused on them?

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