Posts Tagged ‘rape


We are not a rape society

I have noticed something very strange lately – a general claim that society is blaming women for rape and insisting that they should be constantly on guard instead of blaming men. Now, I don’t know where that comes from. I grew up with the understanding that rape was wrong and I was not to do it. Not only was I not to do it, I would be an evil person if I did it. I have no friends who claim that women should be blamed for rape, and while I have heard the claim that women should be more modest to prevent rape (an inherently stupid claim) it has never come from anyone who could be regarded as having the least credibility in society, except for one Toronto police officer, who is a dinosaur. The response to that police office was widespread and international (the slutwalk). Now, we currently live in a time (and if you are in the west) a place where rape is incredibly rare, rarer than ever before in history or anywhere in the world.

So, is this a rape society? If you lived in a time where theft was almost universally reviled, where the big question with theft was not if it was wrong, but whether or not borrowing something and then not returning (but with the persons permission to borrow it) constituted theft, where theft was the rarest it had ever been in the history of human kind, where thieves were often killed in prison by other prisoners who found them disgusting and loathsome, would you say that you were in a theft society? All of these things are true of rape today (nobody thinks rape is okay, the statement that rape is worse than murder is actually somewhat common. There are questions around consent, and what qualifies as consent, but nobody believes that sex without consent is okay, and to tell the truth many of those questions are somewhat challenging. There is less rape here and now than ever before or anywhere else. Rapists are often killed in prison, and men who rape underage people are usually kept out of general population as that is essentially a death sentence for them, usually in incredibly horrific ways). So, how do we justify calling this a rape society? Right now women have more agency than ever before, and it could even be argued that the average woman has more agency than the average man (not saying it is the case, but strong arguments could be made).

So, let’s look at where the claim might come from: how some people could believe we are a rape society.

We will start with an easy one, the 1 in 4 stat.  This is the statistic that 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in college. It comes from a study funded by Ms. Magazine and performed by Mary Koss. The problem is that it’s a really broad study, and includes questions like “Did you ever have sex after drinking alcohol?”.  The study is often taken out of context, and instead of sexual assault the claim is usually “1 in 4 women are raped in college”. However, the vast majority of respondents who fell into the assaulted group did not consider themselves to have been sexually assaulted.

Okay, this one is a bit weirder, and not nearly as fact based… because it’s not about facts. A lot of women talk about how they are in fear when they go out alone, how that’s something men don’t have to deal with. First, the claim that we live in a “rape culture” is one of the key components of that fear. They believe (even though it’s obviously untrue) that they are at a large risk of assault if walking alone at night. Since most sexual assaults happen in the home by someone who knows the victim this is not a reasonable fear. By contrast, they believe that men are not worried about walking alone at night… the reality is that men are at a much higher risk of assault, robbery, murder, etc. than women are. Many of us know this, and most of my friends carry knives. They keys between the knuckles thing is actually common (and not a great idea, you can easily destroy your hands that way).

Part of it is that rape tends to get more media attention, and stranger rape far more than any other kind. Another part is that violence against women is pictured as meaningful in movies. Violence against men is simply part of the film.

Now, there is a great deal more to this, and I will happily talk about it with anyone who submits a non spam comment (as usual), however I’m in the middle of marking a class, so have to go for now.


Vitriol (and pain)

I was reading old blog posts on today and found this:

I’m making an edit here. I came across pretty hard on Glenn Sacks in the first version of this, but really wanted to say that I like him, but disagree often. Now, keeping that in mind, here is the original paragraph (I believe in taking responsibility for my mistakes but also in correcting them). Now, I’m not a huge fan of Mr. Sacks, I feel he is sometimes too extreme, too conservative, too ready to accept the male point of view, however this one hit a couple of major trigger points for me.

A quick summary looks like this: There was a study that said that 28% of college women would be raped within their college years. There was a counter to that which said that number was much smaller and was exaggerated by including a lot of things that shouldn’t be construed as rape in that category (like drunken hook-ups). There was backlash against that saying that if a woman is too drunk to make a rational decision then any sex with her is rape…

As a man, I have always had a rule… I don’t hook up with drunk girls. I have broken this rule, but only when really drunk (which worked out pretty good last time. We have lived together for more than five years and are engaged). Most of my male friends follow similar rules. Now, none of the women I know follow anything close to those rules. If the guy is drinking, so be it. If he is conscious and not puking… then he is fair game. Does that mean I can cry rape for the times I have been the more inebriated party? Seriously… there are nights I barely remember from my teenage years and some of those nights included hook-ups and even the start of relationships. This isn’t to say that there aren’t men who take advantage of girls (due to the particular sub-culture I belonged to as a teenager I have had more than my fair share of encounters with unsavoury people, including some men who are in my opinion more than capable of sexual assault) but it isn’t most of us, and it isn’t most of the girls I used to know either. Look, it’s not blaming the victim if both parties were drunk and the man had every reason to believe that it was consensual (you know, she grabbed him, started kissing him, took off her clothes, never said anything remotely resembling no or gave any indication of the same). Hell, even by the modified standards for rape (force or inebriation) you can say that any guy who ever bought a girl a drink (or handed one to her) and then had sex with her was in fact guilty of rape. That is part of how the statistics get so blown up. Here is one great quote from one of the articles “It’s pretty amazing, to think that men can only commit rape when they intend to” (from this article on the curvature). If you have reached a point in your life where you believe that it is okay to punish a man who had every reason to believe he was having consensual sex, maybe you need to do some re-evaluation. As to her claims about forced sex… of course the majority of actual rapists deny it, and yes, forced sex and rape are the same thing, but the sampling of guys asked those questions are guys who have been charged with rape, not the general populace, making this an incredibly clear case of confirmation bias.

Now, let me tell you another story about attempted rape. When I was 15 I was in the lobby of a hotel. A man came up to me and started to say something incoherent. He was drooling and very drunk, but very large. He started to gesture to his crotch and using hand gestures make it obvious that he wanted me to give him a blow job. Not my cup of tea (even if I was gay I don’t think going down on a smelly drunk guy in a hotel lobby would do it for me) so I shook my head no. He whipped out a knife and held it to my throat. At that point, I had no idea what to do. All of my power was gone, I was trying to decide if I would rather die or comply. I was kind of leaning towards die. At that moment the hotel manager (I was friends with his children) came in and saw what was going on. He forced the man out of the hotel. I didn’t see what happened after that, but the manager called a couple of other guys and they didn’t come back in for a while. I went to the hotel bar and the manager decided to let me have a drink after he got back. This was the first of two incidents in my life. The second one found me with a large knife in my hands and my assailant deciding to get the fuck out of there before I used it.

I tell this story to a: let you know that I have a lot of sympathy for the damage caused by even an attempted rape… let alone one that is carried out to completion, and b: to attempt to put the idea of a drunk couple fucking in a realistic context. You may regret the hell out of the sex the next day, you may wish you had never met that person, but to put a drunken mistake in the same context as the real thing… it is insulting to actual victims.

There was also a party where the next morning I woke up to discover that girl I had no interest in was in the process of performing oral sex on me. I let her finish and then I got up for the day. Was I raped? Technically… yes, I never gave consent. Does it have the same impact as having a knife held to my throat? Not even close. In the one case, I put myself in the situation of being passed out drunk at a party, in the other I had no expectation whatsoever of risk. Now, I am wholeheartedly in favour of taking men who start having sex with unconscious women at a party and shooting (or at least castrating) them, but it still isn’t in the same class as the knife.

I think in the end, that the feminist movement is pushing back so far because of how far they were pushed in the first place, because things happened (and still happen) like a judge ruling that a woman who was wearing jeans couldn’t be raped because jeans are too hard to remove, or that a woman who has a history of sexual promiscuity is not to be believed when she claims rape (although from my perspective that women is probably the least likely to put in a false claim, as she didn’t the last whole bunch of times she had sex…) and I understand that, but fuck, it’s getting to the point where many men I know are terrified to have sex out of sheer terror at the prospect of a false accusation (something that contains virtually no penalties for the woman).

In the end we need to take a hard look at the whole thing, from the perspective of both genders, and deal with rapists as rapists while still dealing with innocent people as innocent. After all, your life is no less destroyed if you are falsely convicted of rape than if you are falsely convicted of murder, and it is far more common.