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Thoughts on Men and Rape

A week or two back, I mentioned wanting to write about sexual assault awareness month. Something strange happened with that post. Almost immediately, a handful of comments trickled in saying, in essence, "You're a good man for doing this, Jim."

My ego enjoys a compliment as much as anyone else's, and I'm not trying to critize the people who offered them. But ... I didn't actually do anything. I posted a phone number and mentioned I'd be writing something. Eventually.

The more I think about it, the more it pisses me off. How pathetic is it that, in our culture, the only thing you have to do to be a good guy is say, "Hey, one of these days I'll write something about rape." Even that sort of vague, empty comment about rape is enough to make you stand out. Because that's already more than most guys seem willing to say or do.

I noticed the same thing when I worked with Take Back the Night years ago. Practically all I had to do was show up, and I was some sort of freaking hero.

Because rape is a women's issue. A woman's odds of being raped are around 1 in 3 or 1 in 4, if you compile the various studies and statistics. A man's odds are significantly less. Maybe 1 in 7? 1 in 10? Even so, we don't talk about that (except to joke about dropping the soap in prison). So let the women worry about it. Not our problem.

No, wait. That's not entirely accurate. Now that I think about it, nearly every time I went to talk to a group of men about rape issues, whether it was a fraternity or a dormatory gathering, the men were worried about rape. Not about their girlfriends or sisters or mothers or friends being raped, of course. No, they wanted to know what they should do if a girl lied about a rape in order to punish them. Because every one of them knew a friend of a friend whose cousin's buddy had been falsely accused of rape, so that's what we really needed to worry about.

In my role as an advocate and educator, I had to behave professionally and deal with those questions. Here on my blog? I'm just going to come out and offer those folks a big ol' cup of STFU.

Don't misunderstand me. False accusations of rape do happen. I watched one play out in the local paper here years ago. And believe me, the justice system went after that accuser for daring to commit such a heinous crime against a man.

I don't personally know anyone who's been falsely accused of rape. The people I know personally who've been raped? I've lost count. Mostly women, but I'm friends with some male survivors as well. People I care about. People I love.

And you know what the funny thing is? In almost every single case, the one who raped them was a guy. Not 100%, but up there in the ninety-plus percent.

But of course, that's not our problem. So long as none of those girls try to punish us by playing the rape card, we've got nothing to worry about. Besides, I'm no rapist, so what more do you want? Teach the girls not to get drunk or walk alone or lead guys on, and they'll be fine.

I love that logic. I never raped anyone, so it's not my problem, and I don't have to worry about it. But have you ever wondered why such an overwhelming majority of rapists are men? Ever wonder where guys get the idea they're allowed to do that to another human being? I'll give you a hint. Step one in learning to rape? Learn to see your victim as a thing, rather than a person.

But like I said, none of this is our problem as guys. None of us have ever contributed to the idea that women are objects, things to be ogled and grabbed and used. None of us have ever laughed along with the demeaning jokes, or watched one of our buddies work to get a girl drunk in order to get her into bed. None of us have made excuses for a man who grabs a woman's breast without permission. Oh, no. None of us have done a damn thing.

Forgive me if I sound a little bitter. Let's just say that after you sit there in a closed room with one of your best friends who's screaming because she just bumped into her rapist a few minutes ago, it becomes harder to worry about the guys feeling picked on because I was so rude as to suggest maybe this is our problem too.

---

Two closing thoughts that didn't really fit into my post, but are important to mention anyway.

1. Ever notice how often we talk about how someone was raped? When was the last time you heard it phrased, "Someone raped her." Because of course, the latter construction puts the responsibility on the rapist. It isn't something that just happens. It's something a person chose to do.

2. Rapists choose to rape. Nothing you do -- nothing you wear, nothing you drink, nothing you say -- nothing makes that choice for them. If someone raped you, it wasn't your fault. End of story.

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Comments

( 266 comments — Leave a comment )
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(Anonymous)
Oct. 24th, 2010 06:03 am (UTC)
I don't get why everybody's congratulating you, you haven't said anything. It's not like this is some backwards middle eastern country where rapes get swept under the rug. People know its seriously wrong, and a convicted rapist gets what they deserve from other inmates in any prison. As for your big ol' cup of STFU, that's actually a serious issue. I don't know if you're trying to pander to all the women out there or what, but there are actually some very psycho ladies that have ruined men's entire lives with those sort of false accusations. To suggest that telling a dirty joke, and actually physically raping another human being are in any way similar is a seriously twisted thing to say.
You sir, are a weasel. Myself, and every guy I know wouldn't think twice about putting a rapist in a coma. To cast shame on masculine tendencies and turn men into a tribe that make excuses for each other is downright low. Amazingly, you left out the absolute number one most important thing about any rape case. And that's reporting it immediately to the authorities. It's probably a difficult process after what someone's gone through. But if a rape goes unreported and the rapist walks free, it could happen again to someone else.
That comes off as a little harsh, Mr. Hines. And I'm sure you mean well. But I suppose there's the type of man who consoles the friend who bumps into her rapist, and the kind of man who tracks the dude down and does something about it.
jimhines
Oct. 24th, 2010 02:13 pm (UTC)
Ah, yes. The courageous and "manly" contribution from the anonymous troll...
(Anonymous)
Dec. 10th, 2010 05:15 pm (UTC)
It was a good response, just because he posted anonymously doesn't mean it's a troll post. If you don't reply to post like that seriously it seems like you only post this shit here so you can read of people telling you how great you are.
hekateras
Jul. 14th, 2011 08:52 pm (UTC)
It wasn't a good response, because it ignored what the OP specifically laid out:

Yes, false accusations happen and are a problem. However, for as long as actual rape is more frequent (and without question more severe in nature) by an entire order of magnitude, it is quite simply an issue that has no place in a debate discussing the problem of rape. It is serious and bad, yes. But the way things are now, it is very much second priority.

Also, reporting a rape to the authorities is "probably" a difficult process? Way to show distance and detachment from the issue. Yes, I'm cribbing over words now, but one of the reasons why rape is vastly under-reported is the severe tendency for victim-blaming. Starting with the fact that it is treated as the women's responsibility to go out of her way to ensure her safety, but not as the men's responsibility to NOT RAPE as well as help ensure that safety - if a guy merely avoids taking advantage of an intoxicated girl, he's hailed as a hero, even though it's the minmimal standard of freaking civilised behaviour.
(Anonymous)
Dec. 10th, 2010 05:11 pm (UTC)
Re: Thoughts on Men and Rape
1 in 3 or 1 in 4 women are raped? WHERE?
I personally don't know any women or men who have been raped.
Also in the US there are 0.3 rapes per 1000 people, that means still less than 1 in 3000 is raped.
(source: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_rap_percap-crime-rapes-per-capita)

You are so quick to say that rape victims are not to blame (duh) but you seem to blame men in general for rape, which is not right either.
Sexist jokes work both ways and context matters. Have you never made a joke about women or men and the "offended" sex laughed as well, that does not cause rape.

I don't want to rant so this is my final point.
Rapes are almost always committed by men for other reasons that sexism.
1. Rape is easier for a man to commit. Since rape by men is usually penetration it is enough for the rapist to be aroused. For a women to rape a man she would need to make sure the man gets an erection and personally I cannot imagine how a woman would rape another woman without objects.

2. Men are much more likely to be sexually frustrated. Most women, if not all can find a casual sex partner or one-night stand much easier than men.
That is to say, if a woman was desperate for it and asked guys in a bar she would hear a yes much quicker than a man in her position.
Therefore sexual frustration or just drunk and horny almost cannot be a reason for a woman to commit rape.
jimhines
Dec. 10th, 2010 05:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Thoughts on Men and Rape
Dear Mister Anonymous Commenter,

Did you even bother to read the site you referenced? Like the part where it said, "Crime statistics are often better indicators of prevalence of law enforcement and willingness to report crime, than actual prevalence."
(Anonymous)
Dec. 10th, 2010 06:19 pm (UTC)
Re: Thoughts on Men and Rape
Picking out one weak point and not replying to the rest is sad way to argue.

Also you are still off by factor of 1000, you cannot seriously tell me that only one in a thousand cases of rape are reported.
jimhines
Dec. 10th, 2010 06:23 pm (UTC)
Re: Thoughts on Men and Rape
You're proceeding from the assumption that I find you worth arguing with.
(Anonymous)
Dec. 10th, 2010 07:33 pm (UTC)
Re: Thoughts on Men and Rape
Should've known this was another closet sexist's narcissistic outlet.
(Anonymous)
Dec. 14th, 2010 09:42 pm (UTC)
response
At the risk of my argument sounding overly convenient, I happen to be a college-aged male who has been falsely accused of a rape. And, though charges were dropped I spent 13 months in utter hellish fear. I was looking at 5-10 years and lifetime sex offender status because a crazy chick thought an emotional crisis would keep her boyfriend from breaking up with her. It did, and I paid the price for it. And there was absolutely no backlash from authorities against my accuser and no apology to me or my family. In fact the only way I would be able to extract "justice" from this situation is by suing her and looking like an even bigger asshole.
Your actions and thoughts are honorable but this all the morality and public opinion in this issue is heavily skewed in favor of women. I was raped by the law at the whim of a woman and now she walks free.
rivka_shekinah
Feb. 16th, 2011 10:18 am (UTC)
Re: response
Wow.
Let's just deconstruct this for a moment, shall we?
First off, for you to get mad because somebody dared comment on rape and primarily discuss women--the primary VICTIMS of rape--shows off your clear issues with anger.
There's treatment for that..and it just doesn't get any better than prison rape.
Then maybe you might have the SLIGHTEST CLUE what women who have actually been raped go through on a daily basis.
Rape ruins lives and until men are willing to actually take steps to prevent rape perhaps false rape allegations are simply...means to even up the score a bit.
You claim you were "raped" by the law. That's interesting--does the law have a prick now? The ability to wield a blunt object? No? Then your casual use of the term 'rape' shows that you are still the raging misogynist you always were.
So you went through a difficult time. No harm done.
I don't personally consider assholes like you to be worth apologizing to, and it brightens my day to know the justice system apparently doesn't, either.
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