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Preventing Rape

Today’s rant began with a quote I saw on linked from Facebook.

If you’re promoting changes to women’s behavior to “prevent” rape, you’re really saying “make sure he rapes the other girl.” -@itsmotherswork

Personally, I think that’s a pretty powerful message. And then I read the comments…

The very second commenter responded:

If you’re promoting changes to children’s behavior to “prevent” traffic accidents, you’re really saying “make sure the other kid is hit by a car.”

The more I think about this, the more it pisses me off. It’s a piss-poor analogy that only holds up if you assume the driver is deliberately looking for kids to hit.

RAPE IS NOT AN ACCIDENT.

It’s not something that just happens. Do I want my daughter to have the knowledge and tools to try to protect herself? Hell, yes. But that doesn’t guarantee her safety, nor does it solve the larger problem.

A little further on, we got the argument that trying to teach people not to rape is a waste of time. After all, nobody ever read a sign that said “Rape is Bad!” and thought, Huh, I was all set to rape someone tonight, but now I won’t. Thank you, helpful sign!

If only we had information showing that education can be effective in reducing sexual assault and rape-enabling behaviors/attitudes, not to mention research on how debunking rape myths can increase bystander intervention, or that  “men who have peer support for behaving in an emotionally violent manner toward women and for being physically and sexually violent toward women are 10 times more likely to commit sexual aggression toward women.”

Then there’s the call for a “balanced” approach, the guy (and it’s almost always a guy) who wants to be reasonable and accepts that we can try to work with men, but still has to derail the discussion to make sure everyone understands how important it is to educate women about the steps they should take to protect themselves.

Balance? When you can’t find a single article or discussion about rape that doesn’t include comments on what she should have done to avoid it, or analyzing all of her “bad choices” that led to her being raped, or links to helpful tips of everything women must do to remain vigilant against rape?

We indoctrinate women at every step with rules they must follow if they hope to avoid being raped. But it’s like you see women as such foolish, helpless creatures that if we aren’t constantly telling them what to do and what not to do–if we devote even a fraction of that time and energy to educating men about rape and prevention–then they’ll all immediately start running naked through the streets shouting, “Here I am, world! Come and rape me!!!”

(Which the men will of course do, based on the other underlying assumption here that all those guys are just natural-born rapists, so there’s no point in trying to change anything.)

Rape prevention efforts have targeted women for ages. Yet sexual assault continues to be incredibly common. Weird, huh? It’s almost like putting the responsibility on women while failing to prosecute most rape cases, blaming women when men choose to rape them, buying into myths and excuses that minimize male aggression, and basically ignoring the vast majority of the people committing the crime isn’t an effective strategy for reducing rape.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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( 44 comments — Leave a comment )
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pickledginger
Mar. 1st, 2013 07:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
cypherindigo
Mar. 1st, 2013 08:05 pm (UTC)
I agree with you completely.

This is a very triggery subject, as it should be, you may want to consider putting it behind a cut.
jimhines
Mar. 1st, 2013 08:08 pm (UTC)
Done, thank you.
(no subject) - cypherindigo - Mar. 1st, 2013 08:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
sabaceanbabe
Mar. 1st, 2013 08:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
shanejayell
Mar. 1st, 2013 08:07 pm (UTC)
Men need to stop raping women.

Period.

And blaming the WOMEN is both stupid and insulting.
sylviamcivers
Mar. 5th, 2013 05:30 pm (UTC)
Love your icon, Mira Grant rules :)
rimrunner
Mar. 1st, 2013 08:21 pm (UTC)
but still has to derail the discussion to make sure everyone understands how important it is to educate women about the steps they should take to protect themselves

What I find especially insulting about this is the assumption that we haven't done or are not doing this already. It's as though I were just doing all that assertiveness training, verbal and physical self-defense, and yes, gun handling and shooting classes just for the hell of it. (I mean, they are fun, but...really?)
serialbabbler
Mar. 1st, 2013 08:28 pm (UTC)
My favorite is the people who claim that if you don't dress in a "slutty" way, you're less likely to get raped. I've been mistaken for a prositute while walking alone often enough to suspect that the only way to avoid dressing like a "slut" is by being a man.
mrissa
Mar. 1st, 2013 08:39 pm (UTC)
I have gotten catcalled wearing a gigantic shapeless woolen jacket that came down nearly to my knees, with the hood up, over baggy jeans and boots. I believe the message there was, "I suspect there is something female under all that wool! That's enough for me!" While some people have felt it was kind to try to tell me that this behavior was because I have a hotness that blazes like a thousand suns, I suspect that it is more that our culture is completely screwed up.
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teaberryblue
Mar. 1st, 2013 08:40 pm (UTC)
For me, personally, I have been sexually assaulted multiple times. By more people than I've had consensual sexual partners, actually.

In most of these cases, I am pretty sure the perpetrator did not think he was assaulting me. In one case, I KNOW he didn't, because it was something I was able to talk with him about much later.

And that's why educating boys and men is so important. Because it doesn't matter how many times you teach someone that "no means no," when you have all these messages that teach men that no means yes if you keep asking, or yes isn't actually yes when you've emotionally blackmailed someone, or that if you get a no the first time, you just have to try a different tactic.

Four of the people who assaulted me were under 18. Two of them were under 15. One of them did it in spite of me saying no loudly and repeatedly, and he can go to hell for all I care. One of them told me he wouldn't be my friend if I didn't have sex with him. When you're a kid and you like someone, and don't have a lot of friends, that's enough to elicit a yes. And as awful as it is that he said that, he's grown up into a responsible and respectful man who would probably be mortified if he thought that he raped me. I've made my peace with him and don't see the need to bring it up to him today (we're still in touch), in spite of the fact that I spent years of my very young life feeling guilty and awful and ashamed and wondering what I could have done differently or how I might have gotten out of it. I spent years of my life dating everything in my head to before and after that moment, the way Christians date everything to before and after Christ.

The people who make these repulsive arguments are so often people who like to cast rapists as shadowy other" figures, as if they're monsters waiting in alleys. And while, sure, there are some rapists like that, most of them are our brothers and neighbors and friends and boyfriends, who never have to see themselves as rapists because they're not shadowy figures in alleys, because they don't attack women from behind the bushes, because they coerce consent and aren't raping someone who says no, or because they've learned that once someone's said yes, no doesn't mean no anymore.

So that's why, yeah, we need to work on educating would-be-perpetrators. Because I don't think a lot of them even realize what they're doing.

Edited at 2013-03-01 08:48 pm (UTC)
temporus
Mar. 1st, 2013 09:28 pm (UTC)
Jim, I saw that comment thread and almost jumped in, and just couldn't.

What I don't get is this: what is the harm in trying to educate men to be more aware of their behavior? Why is having a campaign targeted at men to encourage them not to rape a problem. If we can save even one woman from having to go through the experience in that manner, and from all I understand these campaigns to a lot more good than that, shouldn't we still do it?

Or to put it another way, where is the down side in making men more conscientious of their own behaviors. Why is promoting personal responsibilty to men such a bad idea?
jimhines
Mar. 1st, 2013 09:32 pm (UTC)
"Or to put it another way, where is the down side in making men more conscientious of their own behaviors. Why is promoting personal responsibilty to men such a bad idea?"

That is a great question, one for which I have absolutely no answer...
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jadecat9
Mar. 1st, 2013 10:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this. I agree that we need to target education towards men as well.

Ottawa did a campaign targeted towards men, "Dont Be That Guy". http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/story/2011/05/19/ottawa-campaign-sex-assault-posters-265.html

We need more of these types of campaigns.
firebirdblaze
Mar. 1st, 2013 10:31 pm (UTC)
Seconded
I was just about to post that article as well. There are other kinds of awareness programs that do work, like the one in the article above. We need more of this.
(no subject) - barbarienne - Mar. 3rd, 2013 07:47 am (UTC) - Expand
dawtheminstrel
Mar. 1st, 2013 10:23 pm (UTC)
In college, there was some sort of assaulter on the loose and the women were told to stay inside. Well, why weren't the guys told to stay inside? It wasn't a woman making the problem. How come we were all supposed to change our lives?
sylviamcivers
Mar. 5th, 2013 05:35 pm (UTC)
Golda Meir, former president of Israel, made that same point when a rapist was on the loose - with the power to enforce it :)
(no subject) - sylviamcivers - Mar. 5th, 2013 05:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
matociquala
Mar. 2nd, 2013 12:12 am (UTC)
I got nothin' but <3.

Thanks, Jim.
realmjit
Mar. 2nd, 2013 12:52 am (UTC)
Oh, Jim. I learned from you that the first rule of the internet is to never read the comments, and yet there you go.

OTOH, this needed to be said. Thanks.
browngirl
Mar. 2nd, 2013 01:23 am (UTC)
Thank you for this. *makes a note*
whiskeychick
Mar. 2nd, 2013 01:43 am (UTC)
yes
Thank you for this. Everyone needs to read this. And then act accordingly.

Edited at 2013-03-02 01:44 am (UTC)
6_penny
Mar. 2nd, 2013 02:58 pm (UTC)
So if someone threw a brick through a jewelry store window and ran off with a bunch of diamond rings the perp could say that it was the jewelers fault for dressing his window with attractive rings?
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