Equine contributions »« Exposed to 18 years of prevention messages

Avoid isolated areas, don’t carry bags, be aware of your surroundings

And then, RAINN has

Avoiding Dangerous Situations

which is kind of them, because otherwise women would just keep seeking out dangerous situations, because women are so stupid that way.

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Knowing where you are and who is around you may help you to find a way to get out of a bad situation.
  • Try to avoid isolated areas. It is more difficult to get help if no one is around.
  • Walk with purpose. Even if you don’t know where you are going, act like you do.
  • Trust your instincts. If a situation or location feels unsafe or uncomfortable, it probably isn’t the best place to be.
  • Try not to load yourself down with packages or bags as this can make you appear more vulnerable.
  • Make sure your cell phone is with you and charged and that you have cab money.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be isolated with someone you don’t trust or someone you don’t know.
  • Avoid putting music headphones in both ears so that you can be more aware of your surroundings, especially if you are walking alone.

Do you notice something about all that? Because I do.

It’s basically telling women not to go outside like normal people. It’s telling them to act and feel like a fat juicy sheep strolling around in wolf country.

Excuse me, I like to go outside for walks, and I like to do it freely and without any obsessive worried planning and listchecking and rule-following and behavior-eliminating. I bet other women do too. I don’t want to “walk with purpose” all the time; I like to wander and gaze and be lost in my thoughts. I load myself down with packages and bags all the time, because I don’t have a car.

That list just boils down to telling women to stay inside, or if they must go out, act like a Jew in 1943 Warsaw nipping out for a package of cigarettes.

Comments

  1. Blanche Quizno says

    Personally, I prefer to be as unaware of my surroundings as possible. It is only when we lose ourselves that we can find ourselves, after all, and I like to approach new situations with an open heart.

    :)

    I don’t see anything about having two X chromosomes that means I can’t be unafraid in the world. But now is a great time for a repeat of Shroedinger’s Rapist, which I believe I was directed to somewhere on this blog a few weeks ago: http://kateharding.net/2009/10/08/guest-blogger-starling-schrodinger%E2%80%99s-rapist-or-a-guy%E2%80%99s-guide-to-approaching-strange-women-without-being-maced/

  2. A. Noyd says

    Why are these lists always about the most patronizing, idiotic bullshit ever when they could be about useful things? Nobody’s dumb enough to think you can get help more easily when nobody’s around, or that being lost makes you safer. But they might not know about how some rapists will dose a victim’s drinks with extra alcohol in order to get them drunk faster than expected. They might not know about the late night transportation options or walking escorts available on their campus. They might not know about programs to get a free cell phone for emergencies.

  3. says

    Wow, the RAINN really like telling people how to suck eggs. And the article avoids the obvious conclusion that is to be drawn from all that drivel, which to quote Orlando at Hoyden about Town, is: ‘if your advice to a woman to avoid rape is to be the most modestly dressed, soberest and first to go home, you may as well add “so the rapist will choose someone else”.’ [emphasis added]

  4. says

    Do you notice something about all that?

    Yeah, wasn’t the last post about how “the overwhelming majority of these young adults have learned right from wrong, and enter college knowing that rape falls squarely in the latter category” due to 18 years of exposure to prevention messages? (Rhetorical, if that wasn’t obvious.)

    So…how do they think more prevention messages are going to help solve anything?

    They’re being quite inconsistent, then. Or else there is context Ophelia has omitted. So I skimmed through and, as I suspected, Ophelia omitted nothing of importance. They are seriously, after implying (but not explicitly stating — which gives them somewhat of an out) that there is sufficient prevention messaging, suggesting more messaging as part of the solution.

  5. Al Dente says

    The RAINN people seem pretty clueless about rape prevention. But they’re very good at victim blaming.

  6. Menyambal says

    So, “You are too stupid to be allowed outside, but you should trust your instincts.”

  7. Blanche Quizno says

    I think that the meta-message here is this:

    “If you follow these rules perfectly, you will never be raped. And IF YOU ARE RAPED, it is because you didn’t follow these rules perfectly, which, you know, pretty much makes it all your own fault…” *shrug*

  8. Blanche Quizno says

    I was fortunate enough to leave the workforce (I was a systems analyst) after my husband got his PhD, and become a full-time mom. But, through my husband, I still hear information from the front lines.

    He works at a top-of-the-line biotech/pharmaceutical company. One of his coworkers, a young single woman (mid-20s) took off one Friday for a weekend in Vegas with some girlfriends. Then she was sick for the next week.

    Turns out that, while she was in Vegas, in a bar where she and her girlfriends were enjoying cocktails and dancing, a guy put a drug into her drink, and then, while her friends were otherwise occupied, he and his buddy basically carried her out of the bar, put her in a car, took her somewhere, and raped her.

    She didn’t get over it. She quit her job and went back to school (we gave her some money to help make that goal a reality). She left the area for good. Even though THIS isn’t the area where she was raped.

    This is really serious shit, people. It’s not theoretical. It’s not casual. There’s no fun and games involved. This wrecks people’s lives.

    Don’t let anyone minimize it. Especially in the guise of prescribing the rules they claim will keep women safe.

    There is no safety for women until men value women. And we’re a long way away from that point.

  9. Blanche Quizno says

    And, if anyone is about to say, “Oh, the gang rape was all for the best, because it helped her figure out what she really wanted to do with her life”, please don’t. Because if you do, I might have to go to the trouble of tracking you down and kicking you ’til you’re dead.

    It is not for anyone else to decide how someone is to react to a traumatic event. Traumatic events often ruin people’s lives. Don’t sugarcoat it with the pressure of “But that was supposed to help you ‘discover your mission in life’” or similar twaddle. Just…don’t.

  10. Blanche Quizno says

    @ 5: Xanthe – What? You mean to tell me you haven’t heard the yarn about the “angelic bodyguards”?? Well, please allow me to share this wonderful urban legend with you!!

    “Diane, a young Christian University student, was home for the summer. She had gone to visit some friends one evening and time passed quickly as each shared their various experiences of the past year.
    She ended up staying longer than planned, and had to walk home alone. She wasn’t afraid, because it was a small town and she lived only a few blocks away.

    As she walked along under the tall elm trees, Diane asked “God” to keep her safe from harm and danger. When she reached the alley, which was a short cut to her house, she decided to take it, however, halfway down the alley she noticed a man standing at the end as though he were waiting for her. She became uneasy and began to pray, asking for “God’s” protection. Instantly a comforting feeling of quietness and security wrapped around her, she felt as though someone was walking with her.

    When she reached the end of the alley, she walked right past the man and arrived home safely.

    The following day, she read in the newspaper that a young girl had been raped in the same alley, just twenty minutes after she had been there. Feeling overwhelmed by this tragedy and the fact that it could have been her, she began to weep.

    Thanking the Lord for her safety and to help this young woman, she decided to go to the police station. She felt she could recognize the man, so she told them her story. The police asked her if she would be willing to look at a lineup to see if she could identify him. She agreed and immediately pointed out the man she had seen in the alley the night before. When the man was told he had been identified, he immediately broke down and confessed.

    The officer thanked Diane for her bravery and asked if there was anything they could do for her. She asked if they would ask the man one question. Diane was curious as to why he had not attacked her. When the policeman asked him, he answered, “Because she wasn’t alone. She had two tall men walking on either side of her.”

    Moral of the story? Never underestimate the power of Prayer.”

    “DIANE” – WHO is named “Diane” any more? My MOTHER was named “Diane”, and she was born in 1934!

    That glurgy mess above was copied from this site and presented as fact: http://gofishministries.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/angels-in-the-alley-save-potential-rape-victim/

    There are many problems with this tall tale – I draw on Snopes wisdom:

    This story is best viewed as an inspirational tale meant to stress the importance of prayer in daily life, not as an account of something that actually happened. Nothing in it lends itself to verification: No last name or date or city is given. Indeed, we supposedly know what the rapist said in explanation of his unexpected confession (“Because she wasn’t alone. She had two tall men walking on either side of her.”) but we aren’t told his name, a detail that would make running down news articles about this man’s conviction and sentence a snap.

    As a bit of inspirational fiction, “Angels in the Alley” (its oft-used informal Internet title) not only misses the mark but lands a wicked backhand against the very folks a caring God would look to spare further harm. Because “Diane” prays she is passed over by the rapist, but another girl who traverses the same alley 20 minutes later is not so fortunate – she is victimized in the way Diane would have been. Prayer doesn’t stop the rape; it merely diverts it from one potential victim to another. Diane’s entreaties to the Lord thus have the effect of precipitating the sexual assault of another woman WHO OTHERWISE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN RAPED. Hardly a ringing endorsement of God’s mercy, that.

    Beyond the “displacement of an evil result onto another” concept, (HALTING the evil as opposed to merely redirecting it would have been a better game plan for these alleyway angels), this story does a huge disservice to the many in real life who have been sexually assaulted. It implies they didn’t pray hard enough, else THEIR rapes would have been prevented, too. Victims of such attacks carry enough emotional scars without prayer advocates adding one more: God must have intentionally turned his back on them, because he sends angels to protect the truly worthy.

    The truly worthy, the truly unworthy, and all manner of folk in between can and do get raped, beaten, murdered, and have any number of horrible fates visited upon them. Belief in a world populated with invincible spirit guards that can be summoned to keep watch over us by the mere utterance of a heartfelt prayer might be ever so comforting, but the reality of life is far different. Good people, even prayerful people, can have bad things happen to them. To think otherwise is to draw comfort from the notion that all those who have been victimized mustn’s have prayed hard enough, or that deep down they just weren’t good people after all. http://www.snopes.com/glurge/rapestop.asp

    Honestly, wouldn’t any “God” worthy of the position have sent those “angels” to disable the potential rapist and deliver him to the authorities? THEY would certainly accept ANGELS’ testimony that the guy had malice aforethought! Heck, he was probably a serial rapist, so all they’d need to do is deliver him to the police station! Minority Report be damned!

    BUT NOOOOOO!!!

  11. peterh says

    The entire thread seems to miss the point that the above suggestions / caveats apply equally to all individuals in like circumstances.

  12. captainahags says

    @ Peterh 13,

    And I’m sure that these very helpful suggestions and caveats are offered in equal measure to all individuals, right? Oh, wait, probably not. I know the plural of anecdote isn’t data, but here’s mine: I’m a man, and I don’t think I’ve been offered a single piece of this “advice” since sometime before I turned 6.

    There are many problems with lists like these, and two major ones are: a) the tips on them are either so common sense as to be useless (oh, you mean I shouldn’t walk down dark alleys in unfamiliar parts of town while alone, drunk, naked, and carrying large wads of cash in my hands? Thanks, I had no idea!) or b) the tips on them essentially consist of “Don’t do anything slightly risky, ever.” And both of these issues show how stupid things like this contribute to victim-blaming. I’m going to quote Blanche Quizno from earlier, because it was well said:

    “If you follow these rules perfectly, you will never be raped. And IF YOU ARE RAPED, it is because you didn’t follow these rules perfectly, which, you know, pretty much makes it all your own fault…” *shrug*

    If you followed the list, you’d have been fine. And if all those sick people REALLY believed in themselves, and only thought positive thoughts, then they wouldn’t be sick, would they?

  13. Claire Ramsey says

    So what advice to girls who are abused in their families or are victims of incest?
    “Try not to be born into a family where incest is a cross generational phenomenon.”
    “Try not to have parents who are unprepared to be parents, or parents who drink, or parents who have no support system.”
    “Don’t carry a lot of packages, toys, clothes baskets, tools, brooms, etc and never go out to play in the stable, because your incestuous relative will have an easier time catching you and abusing you.”

    I wonder where in their report they offer a list for young men that says “Do not be a rapist.”

  14. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @ ^ captainahags : Anotherman who will second this. Such supposed rape “prevention tips” are somehow NEVER told to men, always aimed at women. That’s from my own male lifetime’s experience.

    Here’s how to avoid rape – in one simple and very easy to follow rule that can and ethcially and legally must be followed by everyone :

    DO NOT RAPE.

    If you’re lucky enough to have sex (a privilege NOT a right) make sure you have enthusiastic consent and a very willing partner.

    If you are in any doubt whether you’re sexual partner is fully enthusasiastically consenting then stop and make sure and until you are sure, DON”T.

    That’s it.

    Note that if you break that rule and its pointed out then you aren’t inaccurately blaming the victim, you are a rapist.

    @11. Blanche Quizno:

    “Because if you do, I might have to go to the trouble of tracking you down and kicking you ’til you’re dead.”

    I’m pretty sure you aren’t serious but I still think that’s a really awful and wrong thing to say. Death threats = not cool.

    Otherwise I agree completely.

  15. C.H. says

    Blanche @10:

    “”There is no safety for women until men value women. And we’re a long way away from that point.”

    Should that be rewritten to say

    “”There is no safety for women until men value women. And we’re a long way away from that point.. And we’re vulnerable and powerless till we get there.” ?

  16. Blanche Quizno says

    @ 16: Yes, yes, StevoR, I was joking, in the cold-blooded “I’m joking about this because we all know I won’t allow myself to do this” vein. I’m sure it’s a genre of some sort.

    And you’re right on all the other points as well.

    The “kick you ’til you’re dead” is actually a reference to an Olympia Dukakis line from “Moonstruck”…

  17. Blanche Quizno says

    @ 13: PeterH: “The entire thread seems to miss the point that the above suggestions / caveats apply equally to all individuals in like circumstances.”

    Please explain when a man will find himself in like circumstances. Thanks.

  18. Blanche Quizno says

    @ 15: Claire Ramsey: Thanks for bringing that up. I addressed it on another site with reference to the cult of virginity, but it is necessary here as well:

    The United States Dept of Justice says one in twenty men have molested a child.

    Seven out of ten sexual assault victims are under eighteen years old. This means that mostly children and teens are being raped and assaulted.

    Seven out of ten sexual assault victims are under eighteen years old. This means that mostly children and teens are being raped and assaulted.

    The Los Angeles County Interagency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect says that a parent, or other parental caretaker, kills their child almost once a week in L.A. County alone. The children are usually three to six years-old and suffer “repeated abuse at the hands of their eventual killers.” (Me: Notice that these are typically the “potty-training” years)

    Fewer than five percent of children ever tell anyone that an adult is sexually assaulting them.

    Ninety-one percent of fathers accused of incest by their children obtain full or partial unsupervised custody in California.

    Photographs of incest are uncommon. Medical records are more likely non-existent because most abusers do not take the child they are raping and molesting to a doctor to treat the abuse, neither do the women who know incest is taking place in the home, but who choose to protect the abuser.

    According to former FBI Agent Ken Lanning, children often don’t have any visible signs of abuse. When a child has been sexually assaulted, doctors often cannot find any identifying physical marks or injuries. Even if the child was physically wounded, they can heal rapidly.

    Experts feel there are close to sixty million survivors of child sexual abuse in the United States alone. Evidence shows this number is grossly underestimated. http://ordinaryevil.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/statistics-confirm-the-high-rate-of-incest-and-victims-secrecy/

    So what’s a toddler supposed to do to avoid being raped by a male relative? Where is the list of instructions for kindergarten-aged boys and girls to keep themselves safe? Let’s face it – it’s always the victims’ responsibility to keep themselves safe from attackers. We certainly can’t focus on those attackers, can we?

    Anybody got a spare burqa? In a size 2?

  19. Celegans says

    I think the list is pretty good advice actually, if only it said ‘in urban surroundings’. I follow these rules myself and would advise any son or daughter to follow them if thy moved to the big city if they want to avoid being attacked. The one time I was successfully mugged in broad daylight was in Rome when I was carrying so many bags that I could not fend of the muggers. It was unavoidable because I was on my way to the airport, but I would advise anyone going to Rome, keep your hands free, be aware who is watching you, walk purposefully etc etc. It’s just good advice.

  20. BinJabreel says

    Yeah, this is indeed a giant sack of crap, but like some people above have said, growing up in a shitty neighborhood has indeed drilled the “walk with purpose” and “only one earbud” thing into my head pretty firmly.

    Of course, what that really means is that I get anxiety when I have two earbuds in, which is exactly the point I guess. Instead of trying to actually fix problems we can just scare the shit out of the citizens until they blame themselves for letting their guard down or having a single moment of weakness.

  21. Maureen Brian says

    Has any first year psychology student pointed out to these people that being trained to be anxious, to feel you have no right to be wherever you are will actually make people LESS able to cope with either a threat or an ambiguous situation?

    No, thought not!

  22. Celegans says

    I’m a man, and I don’t think I’ve been offered a single piece of this “advice” since sometime before I turned 6.

    I think its worth pointing out to the Captain and others, that this advice is aimed at you. RAINN combats all sexual assault, not just that against women, although that tends to be where the resources go for obvious reasons. I think it is good advice but can see that others find it useless, patronising or worse, but it is not gendered at least, although of course women are going to be more sensitive to these issues in general than men although (men ought to be a bit more aware of the risk of sexual assault in my opinion – most authorities think it is under reported).

    I think that adults who are used to leading independent lives in cities can forget just how much young people have to learn. Always have cab cash, for example, is something I drill into my children, they just don’t think about these things by themselves until they are taught by a friend or a foe. Ditto things like not wearing two ear buds when you are alone It is very easy to forget just how much college students don’t know about the world. Teaching them these things without scaring the bejesus out of them is one of the touchier jobs for a parent.

  23. says

    Most women are raped by men they know so in that respect all that advice is entirely superfluous. Also it is patronising too. Women are perfectly capable of assessing risk and making value judgements without having to be told. It is one step away from victim blaming because it implies that women need to take it in order to avoid being raped. They are adults not children. However if the advice is supposed to be general and not specific to one gender then fair enough but if not then it should not be given

  24. Celegans says

    But Maureeen, we have to teach our children to be less trusting than they otherwise would be because there really are predators and they don’t always advertise themselves. It is, I agree, appallingly difficult to do, to encourage an open trusting attitude to the world but with a strong degree of caution and awareness that some of the people close to yo probably are a threat, but it has to be done somehow. AA sort of ‘trust in god but check the ammunition’ mentality, but with a slight added dose of paranoia.

  25. chrislawson says

    Celegans,

    That’s not great advice IMHO. We need to teach children the warning signs of predatory behaviour, but teaching them to be less trusting means not seeking help from strangers when they’re far more likely to get help from random passersby in an emergency than to bump into a sexual predator. There’s a big difference between instilling a general fear of trusting people and teaching warning signs to look for.

  26. Celegans says

    I don’t mean a generalised fear Chris, more a considered wariness and a self-awareness. We have to de-naive them although it is painful to do. Yes, get help from a starnger if in extremis, but limit the chances that you will need to do that as much as possible

  27. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Yes, get help from a starnger if in extremis, but limit the chances that you will need to do that as much as possible

    The point is we should be limiting those chances by teaching people not to be predators, not by making it the responsibility of people minding their own damn business. Violence is not a natural disaster that is only avoidable by being somewhere else when it happens.

    Lists like these, apart from being breathtakingly patronizing (good thing we have RAINN around to tell us that unsafe places are unsafe and that people are easier to find when they’re nearby), completely fail to take into account vast numbers of people who simply don’t have the option to be elsewhere. Lots of people HAVE to walk through this unsafe area to get to their job which is in walking distance of where they live which is where they live because they can’t afford housing in safer areas. According to lists like this, if you’re one of those people, WELP. Sorry ’bout your luck; you should have thought of that before you decided to be poor.

    It also ignores that the vast majority of rapes are committed by people known to the victim which makes this list nigh on worthless for preventing rape.

    By making avoiding rape/violence the responsibility of victims, we culturally take it LESS seriously. Oh you got raped? Well what were you doing in that part of town? Why didn’t you have your cell phone charged? Why were you with those people you didn’t know?

  28. A Masked Avenger says

    Posts 15 and 29 win this thread.

    The advice is superfluous, because the vast majority of sexual assaults are by parents, carers, spouses, boyfriends, and acquaintances or dates. None of that advice is any help in those cases. The advice not ONLY promotes victim blaming, and shifts the burden to the potential victims, but also perpetuates the myth of stranger rape, which gives aid and comfort to date-rapists.

    Trigger warning.

    “I’m no rapist! Rape is hitting jiggers over the head and dragging them into the bushes!”

  29. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Another thing these lists do is perpetuate the myth that rape is a thing committed by sociopaths who jump out from behind bushes at us when we’ve failed to make ourselves safe enough and not by that guy with the good job who lives in the nice house with the well-manicured lawn and who helps little old ladies bring in their groceries. Then, should you be lucky enough to actually get to trial, the defense just goes “Look the victim was totally asking for it because they didn’t take enough precautions and, besides, look at what a fine upstanding citizen my client is. People like this don’t rape” and juries believe them.

  30. Celegans says

    Seven, yes, we should do what we can to prevent people being attackers or those attackers being on the streets but we have to be realistic and accept that there will always be predators. I don’t think working inn one direction contradicts work in the other. Attack the attackers, but also protect yourself where you can.

    I don’t find this list patronising because it is only offered to those looking for advice and the advice to my mind is sound. It doesn’t claim to be a failsafe and expressly makes that point, it is just for those who want to know what they can do to make themselves safer in some circumstances. If you have to walk through unsafe areas to get to work, you would do well to hear thee advice about, say,not having your earphones on. That implies no contempt or dismissal of the poor. Nor do RAINN ignore rape or sexual attack by people known to you, their guide addresses this explicitly.

    I think it is slightly absurd to accuse an organisation like RAINN that provides more practical support for rape victims than, I think, any other US organisation of encouraging us to take rape less seriously. They say over and again on their website that rape or sexual attack is never the fault of the victim. Offering advice to those seeking it on how to take steps to avoid sexual predators does not in any way imply that you are to blame if you fall victim to one. Before we lay too heavily into real or perceived errors of emphasis on RAINN’s website, I think we should all ask ourselves how many potential or actual rape victims have we have protected or supported through their crisis recently.

  31. Celegans says

    Seven and Avenger, you seem not to have realised that this list is only one part of a much longer guide that provides advice for many different situations. It is true that not all sexual attackers are the ‘man with a knife in a bush’ type, but these do exist and things can be done to minimise the chances they will be able to attack you. For other situations, other advice is there if you are looking for it.

  32. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Celegans you don’t read do you?

    Stranger rape is a TINY fraction of all rapes. Tiny. This list is, at best worthless. Your failure to feel patronized by it does not change the fact that doing this shit prevents virtually no rapes.

    If you have to walk through unsafe areas to get to work, you would do well to hear thee advice about, say,not having your earphones on.

    Speaking of patronizing…do you think people who live in these areas don’t KNOW they’re not safe? Do you think they need RAINN to tell them they’re not safe? Hint: they don’t.

    I think it is slightly absurd to accuse an organisation like RAINN that provides more practical support for rape victims than, I think, any other US organisation of encouraging us to take rape less seriously.

    I didn’t say they’re consciously doing it. I said that’s the effect this attitude has culturally. You don’t believe me, find me an article about a rape occurring in which NOBODY is quoted wondering why the victim was wearing that dress/with those people/in that part of town/out alone after dark/etc. For every 1 you find me that doesn’t do that, I’ll show you a dozen that do.

    Offering advice to those seeking it on how to take steps to avoid sexual predators does not in any way imply that you are to blame if you fall victim to one.

    You don’t understand the concept of implication do you? If 100% of rape prevention focuses on what victims have to do to not be raped, you’re necessarily saying rape is their fault. If you genuinely think rape is not the victim’s fault, you don’t put all the responsibility on victims to prevent it. I don’t care how many times RAINN says the victim is never to blame. That’s worthless when their advice on rape prevention is all about what the victim should do to avoid it.

  33. Celegans says

    Seven, nonetheless stranger rapes and sexual assaults occur and they are very traumatising. The fact that they are rare does not seem to me to be a good enough reason not to take measures against them. RAINN has other advice to minimise risks in other situations.

    It is not patronising to offer advice on how to stay safe to people who seek it. You may find it patronising to get advice on wearing earphones in dangerous neighbourhoods, and so you are unlikely to seek it out, but other people, especially young people or those who are in unfamiliar surroundings for the first time, will feel differently.

    You don’t believe me, find me an article about a rape occurring in which NOBODY is quoted wondering why the victim was wearing that dress/with those people/in that part of town/out alone after dark/etc. For every 1 you find me that doesn’t do that, I’ll show you a dozen that do.

    I don’t want this to degenerate into a shouting match but, honestly, I have never read an article on rape that blamed the victim in these ways. That may be because I mainly read the mainstream press, I am sure the internet is full of that sort of thing, but in the mainstream culture I would think it was rare. Do you have anything from the press rather than the blogs that does this that is less than 20 years old? I realise that defence lawyers resort to this sort of stuff, of course, and that does get reported, but that isn’t what we mean, is it?

    I don’t care how many times RAINN says the victim is never to blame. That’s worthless when their advice on rape prevention is all about what the victim should do to avoid it.

    Their advice to worried potential victims is about this, but that is appropriate. Advice to legislators and institutions is different. How else can it be? I don’t agree that advice on minimising risk implies that you are to blame if you are attacked, especially if that advice is sought.

    And, please, can we not start on the ‘you don’t read to well’ … ‘don’t you understand what words mean’ … ‘are you too stupid to understand’ … stuff. It is boring and won’t get us anywhere.

  34. Tessa says

    What’s really weird to me is that at the beginning of the list it states:

    While you can never completely protect yourself from sexual assault, there are some things you can do to help reduce your risk of being assaulted.

    But then after the list it goes on to say:

    Sexual assault is a crime of motive and opportunity and the majority of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. Ultimately, there is no surefire way to prevent an attack. If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. Help is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800.656.HOPE, and online at online.rainn.org.

    So basically… Hey read this list and reduce your risk! Oh… But umm yeah, most of the time this list doesn’t really apply. But hey! List!

  35. Jackie, all dressed in black says

    This advice is basically “Try not to get raped. If you get raped, maybe you should have been trying harder.”

    The “dangerous situation” they are really telling me to avoid is existing while female. If I’d just stop doing that, then I’d be safe.

    …but there’s no rape culture.

  36. Celegans says

    I don’t really see the contradiction Tessa, it acknowledges that most rape cannot be prevented by the victim but that sometimes, in some circumstances it is possible to reduce the risk of being victimised. That’s fair enough isn’t it? It’s like you cannot avoid cancer by living right but you can do some things that can lower your risk of getting some cancers sometimes and that may be worth knowing.

  37. Celegans says

    This advice is basically “Try not to get raped. If you get raped, maybe you should have been trying harder.”

    How can you read that in:

    “Sexual assault is a crime of motive and opportunity and the majority of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. Ultimately, there is no surefire way to prevent an attack. If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. Help is available ”

    And, to repeat, this advice is aimed at everyone not just women. If RAINN are to be made an example of rape culture at work it will simply make a mockery of the whole concept.

  38. says

    Shorter RAINN: Don’t have a life.
    That job you’re holding onto? Stupid woman, don’t you know that you’re godsdamn predictable being about the last person to leave that building every Tuesday night in an area with few houses and lights? No wonder if somebody should rape you one day…

  39. Jackie, all dressed in black says

    Celegans,

    You are so full of shit. Maybe someone else here has the patience for debating this the umpteenth time with a clueless, patronizing ass but I don’t.

  40. Celegans says

    We don’t have to debate it Jackie, but you should know the difference between patronizing and just disagreeing.

  41. Tessa says

    I don’t really see the contradiction Tessa, it acknowledges that most rape cannot be prevented by the victim but that sometimes, in some circumstances it is possible to reduce the risk of being victimised. That’s fair enough isn’t it? It’s like you cannot avoid cancer by living right but you can do some things that can lower your risk of getting some cancers sometimes and that may be worth knowing.

    The problem is that I’ve had this stuff crammed down my throat since I was little. The list basically reads like “don’t put yourself in dangerous situations by avoiding obviously dangerous situations, that are usually only dangerous if you’re walking with a vagina.” Next up, don’t hold a large metal rod while on a hill in a lighting storm. Don’t run around blindfolded on the interstate. And don’t smoke a cigarette after an exciting gasoline fight with your friends.

    That’s ignoring the distaste I have for treating actions of other people as natural disasters\inevitable, and putting more focus on that, than the larger issue.

    Think about if I walked up to you and told you that you can avoid cancer by not rolling around in asbestos. I harped on how bad asbestos is, and how it should be avoided at all cost. I go on and on about asbestos, then add as an aside, “oh but you probably already know about asbestos, plus most forms of cancer isn’t actually related to that… Well, bye.”

  42. Jackie, all dressed in black says

    When we are “disagreeing” about whose job it is to prevent rape and you are pretending that “live in constant fear and act accordingly” prevents rape, that’s patronizing. When you are claiming that this isn’t a message we only drill into women, that’s disingenuous and patronizing. Don’t tell me this is for my own good. Don’t tell me this isn’t sexist, victim blaming bullshit. Don’t treat me like i’m new. I didn’t ask for your input. I’m not going to debate that with you either. Let me be crystal clear: I’m not giving you any more attention at all.

  43. Celegans says

    The thing is Tessa, this advice isn’t being forced down anyone’s throat, it is just being made available to those seeking it. A better analogy would be if you went to a site online dedicated to cancer, clicked on an article about reducing your risks of contracting cancer, and then got angry because you had already been told a million times in your life not to smoke or drink too much, that such advice was therefore patronising, and anyway, at the top and bottom of the article it points out that you can’t be sure of avoiding cancer so it all amounts to blaming the cancer victim for her disease.

  44. kage says

    Assuming these tips are effective (which I do not), following them won’t reduce the tiny number of rapes that are by strangers. It will just displace the potential rape onto somebody else. I’d prefer to reduce the overall incidence of all rape, not just my own, and that won’t happen as long lists like these are the main focus for prevention.

  45. Onamission5 says

    If any so-called rape avoidance tactics (because remember, successfully avoiding one’s own rape does not in fact stop rapists from raping someone else, so calling it rape prevention is disingenuous at best) have the end result of a rape victim being told “well you should have…” then it’s bad advice.

    Any rape avoidance tactics that focus on the behavior of the victim are victim blaming.
    Any rape avoidance tactics that fail to address the conditions in which the majority of rapes are committed are superfluous, distracting, and ineffective.

    Things that actually do help prevent rape:
    If someone tells you they feel unsafe around another person, believe them.
    Know the warning signs that someone isn’t safe and make it known.
    Give potential victims a safe space to talk about the threat to them.
    Do not shame people who name creeps or who call out creepy/predatory behavior.
    When someone draws a boundary, respect that boundary. Expect others to also respect that boundary, and call them out if they don’t.
    Take no for an answer. Take being ignored for an answer.
    If your friend or associate behaves in an unsafe manner and/or professes to hold toxic beliefs about sex, monitor their behavior, challenge their attitudes, and don’t leave them alone with others.
    If you or someone you know becomes aggressive when they are drinking, monitor their behavior and don’t leave them alone with others.
    If your buddy brags about his plan to drug someone and rape them, don’t let him do that.
    If you suspect that someone has drugged another person’s drink, warn them and tell anyone who will listen who it was.
    If you see someone carrying a very intoxicated person out of a party or cornering someone, stop them from doing that.
    If you see someone attempting to isolate another person from their friend group, pushing someone’s boundaries, refusing to take no for an answer, intervene.
    If you know someone is a rapist, don’t allow them to be alone with others.
    If you are a rapist, stop raping people. If you do not think you can stop on your own, ask a buddy for help.
    This is by no means a complete list, but do take a moment to notice what every item has in common: it is focused on the behavior of rapists and rape enablers, not on victims.

    What’s that you say? Hypervigilance regarding the behavior of rapists and potential rapists rather than regarding the behavior of potential victims seems intrusive and controlling? Why is that exactly, is it because most rapists are men and most of their victims are women and children, and society is all too used to allowing men to do what they want, where they want, when they want, while being very controlling toward the behavior of not-men? Hmm?

  46. kage says

    #50 – Celegans
    Your analogy doesn’t hold because while there is ample evidence that smoking, drinking and other lifestyle choices increase one’s chance of cancer, there is no evidence that these preventative measures reduce the risk of sexual assault.

  47. Celegans says

    Jackie, I didn’t make any of the arguments about living on constant fear etc you put into my mouth and it is pretty clear that you do not know what ‘patronising’ means. But I am telling you that this isn’t sexist, victim blaming bullshit. I will even argue that, but I hope, for both our sakes, you make a better fist of ignoring me this time round so I won’t have to.

  48. Celegans says

    Assuming these tips are effective (which I do not), following them won’t reduce the tiny number of rapes that are by strangers. It will just displace the potential rape onto somebody else.

    That only follows if you have some sort of quantity theory of rape, that a certain number of rapes must happen in a certain time frame. But the evidence seems to be that most rapes are opportunistic, avoiding an attack does not necessarily mean it is passed on. Secondly, the advice is about avoiding sexual assault, not only rape, and sexual assault can take many forms that are particular to the circumstances. But even if that were not the case, you wouldn’t argue that a woman should not avoid a stranger rape because that would cause another woman to be a victim, in other words making that woman a contributor to another woman’s rape?

  49. Onamission5 says

    Celegans: What is it about the suggestion to begin focusing on the behavior of rapists and the social constructs which enable rapists to rape that makes you so determined to refocus on the behavior of victims, exactly?

  50. Celegans says

    Onamission, I think there is a contradiction in your position. You recommend:

    Know the warning signs that someone isn’t safe and make it known.

    But that would only be effective if the potential victim then took steps to make themselves safe, which is rape avoidance by focussing on the behaviour of the victim, which is, by your standard, victim blaming. Or do you mean make it known to the authorities? I can’t think what they would do though unless the at risk person had already been attacked or was a child or vulnerable adult..

    Incidently, I think all your points are on the RAINN advice pages in one form or another as well. It’s not that I think they are wrong, I just don’t see why minimising the risk of being attacked or being without means of getting to safety should not be part of it all.

  51. kage says

    #55 Celegans

    I can’t be bothered detailing the difference between stranger and non-stranger rapes and how I think the later are far more opportunistic than the former. Suffice to say, yes – with stranger rapes I do believe the chances are high that the predatory stranger determined to assault someone will find someone to assault. I don’t believe the ‘preventative’ measures work, and none of the people who tell me they do (including yourself) have ever offered up any evidence to convince me, so the point is moot as far as I am concerned.

    Please refrain from trying to cram words into my mouth that place the blame for rape anywhere but the rapist.

  52. Celegans says

    What is it about the suggestion to begin focusing on the behavior of rapists and the social constructs which enable rapists to rape that makes you so determined to refocus on the behavior of victims, exactly?

    Onamission, I don’t have a broader agenda, I am just defending the advice on the RAINN website from criticism, that’s all. I think we should focus attention on the behaviour of potential rapists or attackers and social control measures where these might be effective, and I think some of the work in that direction looks promising, but I cannot see why work on potential victim protection should therefore be ignored or despised.

  53. kage says

    #57 Celegans
    You seem to be missing many points here. Looking for specific warning signs, like some of signs Onamission has on their list, is different than being constantly on guard and distrustful of every person who crosses your path.

  54. Celegans says

    I don’t believe the ‘preventative’ measures work, and none of the people who tell me they do (including yourself) have ever offered up any evidence to convince me, so the point is moot as far as I am concerned.

    I don’t think there is proper study evidence one way or the other, but they seem reasonable and many on this thread have criticised them for being so obvious as to be patronising. I follow them myself for my own safety and feel fairly confident that they allow a measure of protection. Surely it is pretty obvious that a person alone at night in a city would be less vulnerable if they had cab fare home than if they didn’t? Do we really need to evidence a claim like that?

    I don’t think for a minute that you blame anyone but the victimiser in sexual attack, but there does seem to be a problem in your theory that a woman avoiding a sexual attack is somehow causing another woman to be attacked if you therefore conclude she should not take measures to protect herself.

    By the way, as I read them, these guidelines from RAINN are not only aimed at ‘stranger rape’ but at any sexual assault, including by friends or acquaintances that happen in a semi-public space, although there is a separate page dedicated to acquaintance assault.

  55. says

    We don’t have to debate it Jackie, but you should know the difference between patronizing and just disagreeing.

    For example, this sentence was intensely patronizing.

  56. says

    Celegans, you don’t get it. About 100 years ago, women could barely go out in public alone because they were considered public property if they did so and therefore forfeited the protection of benevolent men, including police, from sexual assault.

    Now, we’re being told that we can’t go out in public alone, because sexual assault.

    It’s unacceptable.

  57. Celegans says

    You seem to be missing many points here. Looking for specific warning signs, like some of signs Onamission has on their list, is different than being constantly on guard and distrustful of every person who crosses your path.

    Yes, but RAINN don’t recommend distrust of everyone. It might be that they could have a better, more effective, list but that would still amount to ‘victim blaming’ according to many critics of the list here, because it would still be placing the onus on the victim to notice signs and take action to protect herself.

  58. Amy Clare says

    #52 Onamission5, I’d also add to that list:

    - if you’re male and you have a female friend who asks you to see her home safely after a night out, don’t moan about it, refuse or say something along the lines of “I thought you believed in gender equality har har”. :/ (Can you tell this is from personal experience?)

  59. Celegans says

    Now, we’re being told that we can’t go out in public alone, because sexual assault.

    Not by RAINN you’re not. But if you want to minimise your risk of assault,in some situations, you are better off in company. You can agree with that or not, take the advice or not. There are many places I go where I would not go alone for fear of attack. That does not mean that I am living in any way the life of a woman of 100 years ago (although you are wrong about the time frame if you are talking about most of the West, my great grandmother, a working class woman, was quite happy walking about Liverpool in drag 100 years ago, nobody could tell her she was anybody’s property).

  60. Onamission5 says

    Celegans @57: That advice is directed toward casual observers, friends, and associates of potential rapists, not toward victims.

    One of the things that rapists rely on is silent complicity on the part of those who are not their intended target. If that silent complicity is not present, if people are aware that someone is unsafe and their patterns of behavior are not a secret, that removes from the rapist their veneer of plausible deniability. It matters not, then, what a potential victim does, because virtually everyone else present in engaged in stopping the rapist from raping anyone and holding them accountable for their actions. Stopping them from being hands-y, stopping them from isolating or following anyone, refusing to “top off” any drinks they might buy, reminding them of appropriate respect for boundaries, not laughing off or excusing their inappropriate behavior, and refusing to simply leave them to their predatory devices. Making rape tactics public (and shameful) knowledge goes a whole lot further toward stopping a rapist from raping than only wearing one ear bud does, especially considering that most rapists are known to their victims and rely on the likelihood that no one will believe the victim, preferring instead to pretend the victim is lying rather than that someone they know is a rapist. First step: remove the cover (read: social enabling) that rapists rely on.

  61. kage says

    I really thought my argument was simple:
    Most rapists are known to their victims. This list does not address that. A small percentage of rapists are strangers. I see no evidence lists such as these reduce the number of stranger rapes. It is not true that men and women are given these safety messages equally. Rape prevention needs to be targeted at the source – rapists.

    As an aside, in Australia (where I am) the media has hooked onto a small number of unprovoked assaults on men out at night. Some of these attacks have resulted in death or permanent injury. In the outrage I never once saw an article advising men of ways to avoid being attacked. What has happened is an education campaign aimed at potential perpetrators advising that ‘One punch can kill’, as well as lobbying to increase criminal penalties and police presence. Interesting that in this case preventative measure was aimed at the attackers, not the victims.

  62. Celegans says

    Most rapists are known to their victims. This list does not address that. A small percentage of rapists are strangers. I see no evidence lists such as these reduce the number of stranger rapes.

    Kage, because some advice is not adequate to every possible situation that does not mean it is useless or vicious. But, as it happens, this list is extracted from a much larger resources which does include advice about the situations you mention.

    I agree with you that prevention may also be aimed at attackers, but when we had a serial attacker of gay men in London, the police advice was all about staying in groups, having buddies and looking out for warnings, not being lured into a separate area etc, and that all made sense and was, as I recall, only criticised for being too little too late.

    I think the publicity campaign you describe , which amounts to ‘please assault more carefully’ is a little odd though, don’t you? The equivalent would be a campaign urging rapists to use less violence on their victims. Not sure anyone would approve of that. But was it effective?

  63. Onamission5 says

    #59: I am just defending the advice on the RAINN website from criticism, that’s all.

    Actually, that’s not “all” as other commenters have articulated.

    The status quo doesn’t need defenders. If any of the so-called advice RAINN give on their list actually stopped rape, we’d have stopped rape already.

    If you truly do believe that shifting focus onto the behavior of rapists is more effective in preventing rape than focusing on victims, then why are you so insistently continuing to focus on the victim?

  64. geekgirlsrule says

    I think the piece that Celegans isn’t getting is that women get this same advice shoved down their throats constantly, from parents, teachers, women’s magazines, well-meaning but ultimately clueless dudes… *cough*

    That’s what makes it insulting. The fact that we’re hammered with these “helpful”tips from day one and THEY DON’T ACTUALLY WORK. ARE YOU NOT HEARING WHAT THE WOMEN IN THIS THREAD ARE TELLING YOU? THESE TIPS DON’T ACTUALLY PREVENT RAPE. They are wishful thinking with no real power. Because stranger rapes happen in women’s own homes, after someone breaks in, they happen after somebody drugs your drink or soda.

    And they are victim-blamey because having a “list of things that will prevent rape,” means that if you are raped you obviously didn’t follow the list.

    And also as to not reading any articles about rape that don’t mention the woman’s clothing, sexual history, was she drinking, was she in public… I want to know what planet you live on, because damn… It sure ain’t here.

    That’s why we’re hostile. Because you’re comparing your moonscape with our earth lives, and not listening when the people these tips are aimed at tell you they’re worthless.

  65. peterh says

    @ Blanche:

    “@ 13: PeterH: “The entire thread seems to miss the point that the above suggestions / caveats apply equally to all individuals in like circumstances.”

    Please explain when a man will find himself in like circumstances. Thanks.”

    Of course I should have realized men never get assaulted. Men never get raped. Men never get mugged.

  66. Celegans says

    If you truly do believe that shifting focus onto the behavior of rapists is more effective in preventing rape than focusing on victims, then why are you so insistently continuing to focus on the victim?

    I don’t know what is most effective, that’s an empirical question, and I haven’t been focussing in victims, I have been focussing on RAINN’s advice to (by implication) young people who want to minimise their risk of becoming a victim.

    As I pointed out, you also think that potential victims should take steps to minimise their risk of attack, or at least be enabled to do so,by not associating with rapists (although you put the emphasise on informing the potential victim of threats, it amounts to the same thing). I think we would agree on everything but the colour of the taps.

  67. Celegans says

    They are wishful thinking with no real power. Because stranger rapes happen in women’s own homes, after someone breaks in, they happen after somebody drugs your drink or soda. And they are victim-blamey because having a “list of things that will prevent rape,” means that if you are raped you obviously didn’t follow the list.

    Geekgirl, as I have pointed out before, these tips are just a small part of a larger document that addresses the points you make. The list is not meant to be comprehensive and it stresses very strongly that these things will not prevent rape or sexual assault happening but will merely reduce the risk in some circumstances, so there is no victim blaming about them.

    And also as to not reading any articles about rape that don’t mention the woman’s clothing, sexual history, was she drinking, was she in public… I want to know what planet you live on, because damn… It sure ain’t here.

    It was only when I was challenged on here that I realised this was true. I would be interested in an example of a story that does this in the mainstream media. I mean, I have read reports of court cases where the defence has made references like this and that has been reported, but that is a different thing and has anyway always, I think, been reported critically. Can you find a recent (last 20 yrs) mainstream media example of this? I would be curious to see. It must happen but I think it must be rare, or maybe just in the UK.

  68. says

    I can’t believe anyone is defending this ridiculous “advice” which boils down to “be very afraid, and avoid everything.”

    Like, “Try to avoid isolated areas. It is more difficult to get help if no one is around.” So, women should just never go for walks in large parks and nature reserves. Women should never walk down a street if “no one is around.” Women should never go anywhere that isn’t crowded.

    Hello? Do you have any idea how limiting and restricting that would be? It’s Talibanesque.

  69. geekgirlsrule says

    Really, Celegans? You have really seen NO EVIDENCE of victim-blaming in articles about rape/rape victims.

    Does Stuebenville ring a bell? Maryville? The 12 year old girl in Texas who was gang raped and then the New York fucking Times talked about how she dressed seductively?

    I didn’t google. These are off the top of my fucking head and ALL within the last 6 months to five years.

    If I googled, I wouldn’t be able to FIT the list here.

    I suggest you don’t see these things because they don’t matter to you, and you’re more invested in playing philosophical games than in seeing that this is the reality of the world for women.

    Fucking hell.

    So which is it? Just generally clueless or willfully obtuse?

  70. Celegans says

    I think you have to make some reasonable assumptions: it is aimed at people who are concerned about their safety and have therefore looked it up, it assumes it is dealing with the young and probably people alone for the first time (they mention college students a lot), and it assumes an urban environment. I spend a lot of time in London and avoiding isolated places is quite good advice if you don’t know your way around. Obviously older more experienced people are less likely to look up this sort of thing. Parks are difficult, but big London parks are safer when there are a lot of people around for sure, I never go through London parks alone at night for example, not because I am sure to be attacked, but it increases the risk. I did go across Hampstead Heath at night once though, and that was unnerving. But even if there is a piece of advice that is not so great (and it is just advice, something the Taliban don’t offer) most of it is just good sense.

  71. Celegans says

    Geekgirl, really, I can’t think of one.It may be because I am ideologically blinded, but I googled the rape case you mentioned and NYT and couldn’t find the sort of thing you mean, so a link would be worth seeing. I mean it, I am genuinely curious and can’t find it off my own bat.

  72. Onamission5 says

    I sadly see a lot– A LOT– of this status quo defense coming from women who, under the guise of “empowerment,” have internalized ridiculous shit like “don’t walk into dark alleys alone,” and who tend to equate following such stellar advice with being smart/safe. If you are told practically from birth that following lists like RAINN’s keeps you safe and so you follow the advice and feel like you are making yourself safer, it’s quite a shock to the system to be told that actually no. All you are doing is upholding the status quo, which doesn’t make you are anyone else safer.

  73. says

    Celegans, what do you mean “big London parks are safer when there are a lot of people around for sure”? For sure according to what? You don’t know that, you just assume it – and it’s bullshit. I lived in London off and on when I was in my 20s and spent a lot of time in parks big and medium-sized (even the relatively small parks in London are big by for instance Seattle standards) yet here I am to tell the tale. You can’t just assume that big London parks are safer when there are a lot of people around for sure when that’s one of the claims under discussion. (It’s called begging the question.)

  74. Celegans says

    Ophelia, it’s true, it may be just an assumption. But I am pretty sure that more sexual attacks have occurred in London Parks at night than during the day for example.I would have to swot up the evidence though. I agree that attacks of all sorts are rare but they can still be made rarer surely. Do we really need to prove that you are more likely to be attacked in a London park if you are alone there (giving that you are in general unlikely to be attacked). I mean, if someone asks how can I minimise the risk of being attacked in a London park, wouldn’t ‘stay in company’ be a useful rule?

  75. says

    (although you are wrong about the time frame if you are talking about most of the West, my great grandmother, a working class woman, was quite happy walking about Liverpool in drag 100 years ago, nobody could tell her she was anybody’s property)

    Color me skeptical that your grandmother was never sexually assaulted, or that she enjoyed the full protection of police services when that happened. Why was she wearing drag in the first place?

    This is me showing my contempt for this… what is this?… Argumentum ad grandma? If you don’t know shit about social conditions for women 100 years ago, whether working class or no, just fucking say so.

  76. Celegans says

    Maybe someone who lives in London who is watching her niece, new in London, leave the house to walk home at two in the morning with the intention of cutting across Hyde Park? In those circs might you not advise against going through the park or, if she insisted, urge her to go in company? Or would that be too great a trespass?

  77. BMcHell says

    Blanche Quizno @9,

    Quite interesting that the “meta-message” which seems so clear to you is 180 degrees opposite of what is actually written in the message itself.

    From the quoted RAINN article:

    “While you can never completely protect yourself from sexual assault, there are some things you can do to help reduce your risk of being assaulted.”

    “Sexual assault is a crime of motive and opportunity and the majority of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. Ultimately, there is no surefire way to prevent an attack. If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. Help is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800.656.HOPE, and online at online.rainn.org.”

    RAINN is one of the largest anti-sexual assault charities in the U.S. and they manage a national sexual-assault hotline and over a thousand rape-crisis centers, yet you think they are victim-blaming? The actual words that RAINN published includes “you can never completely protect yourself” and “there is no surefire way to prevent an attack” – whereas you interpret that to mean the exact opposite (“If you follow these rules perfectly, you will never be raped.”). RAINN says explicitly that “it’s not your fault” whereas you interpret that as “And IF YOU ARE RAPED, it is because you didn’t follow these rules perfectly, which, you know, pretty much makes it all your own fault…”

    *shrug* indeed

    On a related note, why don’t all of you people rid yourselves of the oppressive locks on the doors to your house and automobiles? Clearly you shouldn’t have to be responsible for preventing break-ins and theft of your own property – rather someone merely needs to teach the would-be burglars and thieves not to steal, right?

  78. geekgirlsrule says

    Celegans, this is the last time I do your homework for you.

    “Residents in the neighborhood where the abandoned trailer stands — known as the Quarters — said the victim had been visiting various friends there for months. They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground, some said.”

    From this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/us/09assault.html?_r=2&scp=4&sq=rape&st=cse&

    It really isn’t that fucking hard.

  79. geekgirlsrule says

    PS, I was wrong, she was ELEVEN, not twelve.

    I can’t even with the willful ignorance you have displayed.

  80. Celegans says

    I don’t offer my great grandmother as a complete thesis Sally, but she is a datum, a colourful one. She dressed in drag because she liked it and I think she liked the attention of both sexes. I don’t know if she was ever sexually assaulted but she definitely was not treated as anyone’s property and she lived at a time when women did mingle in society quite freely in the UK and US at least. Now my great grandfather is another story if family legends are to be believed.

  81. Celegans says

    I actually found that article Geekgirl once I worked out what your sentence meant, I thought it was all one story, not three you referred to. It is very ugly in places and definitely gave me pause, but it also seems to have caused a huge stir partly because it seems it is not typical. Is that right? I have found no other examples like that.

  82. Celegans says

    Ophelia, I don’t know what you mean. It just seems good advice to me in situations like the one I described where the fear of sexual assault is real. I think those are the sort of situations the guidelines were meant for and it seems pretty obvious to me that they must be which I said all along. Surely nobody imagined they were aimed at the Duchess of Devonshire on her estates? But I think that means we at least agree these are reasonable guidelines for people in some situations, right? That in at least some quite common situations they would make you safer, whatever your sex?

  83. Blanche Quizno says

    Celegans, what do you think of the fact that so many people here reacted in the same offended way at the article, and the fact that you’re pretty much the only one defending it? Can you explain this dynamic for me?

  84. geekgirlsrule says

    STUEBENVILLE. MARYVILLE. GOOGLE THEM YOU DISINGENUOUS… ARGGGGGHHHH!!!!!!!!

    There is nothing rare or special about the way these cases are handled. The girls in both the Stuebenville and Maryville case were blamed for their rapes by their communities, it’s in every fucking article about it ever. Why were they at parties? Why were they drinking? Why did they trust these boys they knew and went to school with? I mean, really!

    I’m done with you. I’m not wasting my time on someone so dedicated to remaining ignorant, obdurate, and just plan clueless.

    You keep shifting goalposts and you’re definitely not arguing in good faith.

  85. geekgirlsrule says

    Blanche, I’m sure it’s just our delicate ladybrains getting all flustered in the presence of his male rationality.

    /sarcasm

  86. Blanche Quizno says

    “But even if that were not the case, you wouldn’t argue that a woman should not avoid a stranger rape because that would cause another woman to be a victim, in other words making that woman a contributor to another woman’s rape?”

    Epic missing the point, Celegans!

    NO MAN HAS THE RIGHT TO RAPE ANYONE.

  87. says

    celegans you said “big London parks are safer when there are a lot of people around for sure” – no I do not think that’s good advice; I think it’s bad advice. It’s bad risk assessment. It tells women to be permanently afraid of commonplace situations, and thus it pushes them to restrict their lives and activities to an absurd degree.

    It’s not good advice to urge people to stunt their lives on the basis of tiny risks.

  88. BMcHell says

    If you honestly think that RAINN, the largest anti-sexual assault charity in the U.S., is somehow blaming victims and/or perpetuating rape-culture, then it’s safe to say that your addiction to outrage has clouded your vision and your demand for ideological purity has trumped reason and logic. If you are unable to find common cause with an organization that runs a national sexual assault hotline and over a thousand rape-crisis centers, the problem lies with you and not with said organization.

    Here’s an idea – why don’t all of you people who are being so critical of RAINN get together and start your own anti-sexual assault charity? You can publish your own columns and articles teaching people not to rape instead of teaching people to mitigate the risk of becoming a victim. Surely with your objectively right approach, your group will solve all of the problems and rape will become a thing of the past, right?

    So what are you waiting for, exactly?

  89. Blanche Quizno says

    “placing the onus on the victim to notice signs and take action to protect herself.”

    Yes. THAT’s the problem – well said, Celegans.

    A woman shouldn’t *need* to “protect herself”.

  90. geekgirlsrule says

    Ahhhh, the old, “Well, then why don’t you do it yourself?” gambit.

    A time-honored tradition…

  91. Blanche Quizno says

    @ 70: Onamission5 and Meet the Predators.

    I found it fascinating – and not surprising in the least – that the sample of men in the Navy were much more likely to be rapists than the sample of men from college.

    After all, what is the military but one big fat aggression-fest? And given how much we’re hearing about the rape culture within the military, and how difficult it is for the MANY female military personnel who are assaulted and raped to even get heard, we really need to think about whether the military, as it has become, is good for our society.

  92. Juliana Ewing says

    If you are unable to find common cause with an organization that runs a national sexual assault hotline and over a thousand rape-crisis centers, the problem lies with you and not with said organization.

    They’re big so they must be right? Uh, no. And the thing is that up until the other day, we all DID think RAINN was pretty great. They’ve just let down what ought to be their own principles. THAT’S EXACTLY WHY THIS IS ALL SO EFFING MADDENING.

  93. Blanche Quizno says

    @ 77 – Celegans: It was only when I was challenged on here that I realised this was true. I would be interested in an example of a story that does this in the mainstream media. I mean, I have read reports of court cases where the defence has made references like this and that has been reported, but that is a different thing and has anyway always, I think, been reported critically. Can you find a recent (last 20 yrs) mainstream media example of this? I would be curious to see. It must happen but I think it must be rare, or maybe just in the UK.

    First off, Celegans, thank you for your self-reflection and candor. I think I can help. First, the attitudes:

    Women say some rape victims should take blame – survey

    A majority of women believe some rape victims should take responsibility for what happened, a survey suggests.
    Almost three quarters of the women who believed this said if a victim got into bed with the assailant before an attack they should accept some responsibility.
    One-third blamed victims who had dressed provocatively or gone back to the attacker’s house for a drink. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8515592.stm

    Is rape legitimate if she dresses provocatively? One author argues yes
    Rape apologist author compares dressing provocatively to leaving a laptop in the back seat of a car – http://www.salon.com/2013/05/28/is_rape_legitimate_if_she_dresses_provocatively_one_author_argues_yes/

    Second, the cases:

    Judge was unduly lenient on paedophile after saying girl, 12, ‘dressed provocatively’, says Attorney General http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-485687/Judge-unduly-lenient-paedophile-saying-girl-12–dressed-provocatively-says-Attorney-General.html

    There ya go – UK, 12-year-old girl was asking for it. I heard about that case even on THIS side of the pond!

    A judge in Manitoba has ruled that a 2006 rape victim who was wearing a tube top, high heels, makeup and no bra was sending “mixed signals” that “sex was in the air” to her rapist, Kenneth Rhodes, who was merely insensitive to the fact the sex near a “darkened highway” was not consensual. “This is a case of misunderstood signals and inconsiderate behavior,” said Queen’s Bench Justice Robert Dewar, who called Rhodes a “clumsy Don Juan.” Let’s recap all the ways in which the woman who was raped by Kenneth Rhodes is not a “good victim” (that designation being mine, not the judge’s): http://www.thefrisky.com/2011-02-25/rape-victim-was-inviting-sexual-assault-with-provocative-dress-flirting/

    ^ That’s a really good article there.

    Here’s ANOTHER from the UK – sounds like an epidemic over there!

    Judge Blames 10-Year-Old Victim for Her Own Rape
    [The 10-year-old girl] was attacked in a park in South Oxfordshire by [Keith Fenn, 24] and his accomplice Darren Wright, 34, on October 14 last year. Fenn removed all her clothes and raped her, then Wright took her to his home and sexually assaulted her. Yet [Judge Julian Hall] said the case was exceptional because the “young woman” had been wearing a frilly bra and thong.

    …The court heard that the girl regularly wore make-up, strappy tops and jeans. “It is quite clear she is a very disturbed child and a very needy child and she is a sexually precocious child. She liked to dress provocatively,” the judge said. “Did she look like she was 10? Certainly not. She looked 16.” http://www.shakesville.com/2007/06/judge-blames-10-year-old-victim-for-her.html

    Do you require further sources?

  94. Blanche Quizno says

    “celegans you said “big London parks are safer when there are a lot of people around for sure” – no I do not think that’s good advice; I think it’s bad advice. It’s bad risk assessment. It tells women to be permanently afraid of commonplace situations, and thus it pushes them to restrict their lives and activities to an absurd degree.

    It’s not good advice to urge people to stunt their lives on the basis of tiny risks.”

    Furthermore, since almost ALL rapes occur at the hands *cough* of someone known to the victim, telling the victim to stay around large groups of people will put her in contact with MORE men, some of whom may well be repeat rapists (see 70′s Meet the Predators link), and at the same time suggesting that she’s safer because she’s around these people!

    Frankly, it sounds like *terrible* advice. If you think you are safer because you’re with a big group at an outdoor concert, say, then you’re more likely to have your guard down and respond in a friendly way to a stranger, a fellow concert-goer, who approaches you. You’re both at the concert, so that means you automatically have something in common, right? And you are, by definition, in a safe place because crowds are safe, right? What better circumstances for making a new friend – or finding a new rape victim? See how this works? Predators hunt their victims.

  95. Onamission5 says

    BMcHell @89 snuck in a mention of property crime. Keep it up, folks, I almost have rape apologetics bingo.

  96. says

    In the past three years, three of my friends have been raped or sexually assaulted. None of them would have avoided it by following this advice. They might have avoided it by not having boyfriends or not going to parties with their friends.

    There. My anecdote trumps your grandma anecdote.

  97. Onamission5 says

    Indeed, there is one thing that all rape victims have in common, every. single. one. regardless of any other factor, and that is they were all targeted by a rapist. Why it’s almost like if we can dig through all the confabulation and muck to address that factor there might be a solution somewhere. I wonder how one might go about doing something like that. It seems hard. Best just tell women how to dress and where to go and what time to be home by and how large a group they need to go out in public instead because that’s worked so well for so long.

  98. BMcHell says

    Juliana @106

    It’s not size that matters, it’s actions. RAINN is an actual charity organization that does actual work to combat sexual assault and to support victims every day.

  99. BMcHell says

    Onamission5 @108,
    Big deal, I had faux-feminist-outrage bingo prior to the first comment being posted.

  100. says

    Thanks BMcHell, for being so candid as to let us know what your opinion of our blog host’s feminism is. It certainly aids us in finding the appropriate value to ascribe to the rest of your commentary, though one really wonders if that is your view why you bother to comment at all.

    Sadly the victim-blaming mindset is all too common in women who already know about all of the ‘helpful tips’ and are not backward in joining in the chorus of disapproval that a rape victim must have done something unwise or wrong, but it is a major aggravation to see a reputable body like RAINN promoting the same unhelpful attitudes. The mistake being made by those who are pushing back in the comments is that the criticism is not that RAINN doesn’t do good things; it is the observation that attitudes and lists of things to avoid such as this are simply unlikely to work and do more harm than good. RAINN can do better than this.

  101. Jackie, all dressed in black says

    BMchell,
    I have helped to start a charity that helped to fund domestic crisis centers and other projects. I have been a volunteer and on the board of a domestic crisis center. I recently signed up again to start volunteering for victims of sexual crimes and kids in need of advocates. I’m also a woman. I do not require bona fides or the authority of an organization to know that being told to live in constant fear, never allowing myself to be independent or carefree is not for my own good. Being told to eek through life as cautiously as possible so that the next woman gets raped instead of me is not rape prevention. I am capable of knowing on my own that not everyone claiming to be an ally is one and no ally is infallible. I am capable of knowing that, since the vast majority of rapes do not happen when women are out of the house without an escort, that advice that I stay in, stay afraid and stay boring is not being told to me to keep me safe. It is being told to me so that I never forget that it is my job to not get raped and that veering off the beaten path will be considered “asking for it” at worst and negligence on my part at best. We do not tell men to limit their independence. We do not restrict what they wear, drink or do. Is it really so much to ask them not to rape? Is it really too much to say, “Hey, women should be able to go anywhere and do anything without being raped. So, don’t rape them”. It’s a means of rape prevention that actually works by actually putting the responsibility to stop the crime where it belongs.

  102. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @ ^ Jackie, all dressed in black : Well said – and well done. Seconded by me for whatever worth that has.

    @112. BMcHell

    It’s not size that matters, it’s actions. RAINN is an actual charity organization that does actual work to combat sexual assault and to support victims every day.

    Y’know that list that RAINN has in the OP? Well that list is NOT at all supportive of victims. Instead it blames them and is extremely unhelpful for reasons amply pointed out here already upthread.

    Disproof of your assertion right there.

    If RAINN wants to be genuinely supportive not disingenously claiming such – first thing they need to do is admit they got that list wrong, withdraw it and apologise to rape victims and everyone else for putting it out in the first place.

  103. smhll says

    This excerpt from Kameron Hurley’s blog seems relevant.

    To an outsider seeing my screaming meltdown at these two men, in which I raved and shouted and told them how they were utter assholes for harassing us, and they should fuck off, and who the fuck did they think they were, this might have seemed like the raving of some unhinged person. After all, from afar, all you see is two guys at a bus stop talking to a woman who seems deeply uncomfortable. But my rage, my “sudden” outburst was actually the result of the venting of six full months of increasing dread and terror inflicted on me not even so much by actual bad people, but people ostensibly concerned for my safety, whose admonitions that I “stay inside” and watch my back, and be careful, and who would then go on to talk about who’d been raped, shot, stabbed or mugged that week, had really started to get to me. It was a rage at the entire situation, at being expected to shut the fuck up and go inside all the time because I was a young woman. It was rage at the idea that the threat of violence so clearly worked to keep people in line.

    The part I want to emphasize is “… at being expected to shut the fuck up and go inside all the time because I was a young woman.”

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