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Dec 29 2012

“Had the girl simply surrendered…”

Via Butterflies and Wheels, regarding the Delhi rape victim who just died:

“Had the girl simply surrendered (and not resisted) when surrounded by six men, she would not have lost her intestine. Why was she out with her boyfriend at 10 pm?” These comments made by an agricultural scientist [Dr Anita Shukla] at a seminar organised by the police provoked an outrage in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday, and demands for punitive action against her.

I feel a need to point something out. This should be obvious to anyone with a shred of human decency, but apparently not everyone has a shred of human decency, so I’m going to point it out.

Rape victims get blamed when they resist… and when they don’t.

When rape victims don’t resist, people ask them, “Why didn’t you fight back? Why didn’t you scream for help? if only you’d fought back, maybe this wouldn’t have happened.”

And when rape victims do resist, people — such as Anita Shukla — ask them, “Why did you fight back? Why did you scream for help? You only made it worse.”

So how about this. Hear me out, I know this is a little out there, but just for a wild change of pace, let’s try this instead: “If these six men hadn’t raped and beaten her, she would not have lost her intestine. If these six men hadn’t raped and beaten her, she would not have died.”

And maybe we could add this: “If these six men weren’t in a culture where sexual harassment of women is accepted as a fact of daily life; a culture where rape victims are ignored by police; a culture where victims of rape are blamed for their crimes… maybe they wouldn’t have raped and beaten anybody.”

Shame on you, Anita Shukla. Shame on you for adding to the culture where rape victims are blamed for their rape… as opposed to, you know, their rapists. Shame on you for making every other rape victim feel that much less likely to report the crime. Shame on you for making every other rape victim feel even the slightest bit to blame for the crime committed against them. Shame on you for adding to the culture that makes rape victims reluctant to report the crimes… and for making them right to feel that way, since their reports likely won’t be taken seriously. Shame on you for adding guilt and shame and blame to the trauma of being raped.

“Had the girl simply surrendered.”

You sicken me. Shame on you.

119 comments

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  1. 1
    Ermine

    You’re right, I can’t believe that people can actually get away with saying things like that. And “What was she doing out at 10 pm?” people have LIVES, damnit! I don’t know about most people, but I go out after 10 pm all the time, and I’m not a young person anymore. Blame the people who committed the crime for it, not the victim for happening to be out where the criminals could find her. I’ve seen enough of Sharia law to know how harshly it treats female rape victims if they -don’t- resist, how they’ll be judged as complicit if there aren’t plenty of (male, pfaugh!) witnesses who heard her screaming and resisting. Here we’ve got one who did things ‘right’, who resisted to her utmost – and someone has the gall to blame her for the damage her rapists did?

    Though I’d never DO something like this, I admit to at least fantasizing about collecting a group of hefty males around the (woman? Gah!) who said this about her, and after she’s done blaming the victim, have all the men surround her and look dangerous, and then just say, “You’re right, it’s her fault for resisting. YOU’RE not going to resist, are you?” and give her a few moments to experience the terror that the victim must have suffered.

    We all know exactly what people would have said if she -didn’t- resist, we’ve heard it time and again. “It wasn’t -really- rape if she didn’t scream and fight, now was it?”. YES, IT FUCKING WELL WAS!

  2. 2
    Kevin Schelley

    Now see, you’re just being too logical and reasonable. You need to be way more reactionary and blind to reality, then that statement will make perfect sense.

  3. 3
    kacyray

    Greta – Accepting as unquestioned the premise that the rapists are to blame for the rape, and that the victim bears no blame at all (as I think we all can agree), I pose the following question:

    What would you advocate as a survival strategy to a woman who finds herself in that position?

  4. 4
    chrisv

    @kayray. Disarm all men; give the guns to women.

  5. 5
    Susannah

    kacyray,

    There is no survival strategy that has better than random odds of working. If she fights, she just possibly might encourage one of the rapists to change his mind. Or, inversely, get mad and be more brutal.

    If she doesn’t struggle, she just might possibly encourage a rapist to think she is actually a slut, a whore, who is used to it, or even worse, enjoying it, and thereby enrage him further.

    If she’s armed and proficient with her arms, she stands a better than even chance of having her weapon turned against her. If she just has pepper spray, even more so.

    If she screams; well, she did scream, didn’t she?

    The only thing that has a remote possibility of working more often than not, is if her companion turns out to be Superman. Or the Mark Twain/Huck Finn defense; “Back off! I’m wearing a suicide bomb, and it’s active!” But she jolly well better be prepared to prove it by blowing herself up.

    Survival strategies start with the rapist, not the rapee. Any suggestion to the contrary, however “sincerely” phrased, are just more attempts to transfer blame. Despicable.

  6. 6
    kacyray

    Whoa, wait…

    I just want to understand this correctly…

    Did you just propose that the mere suggestion that a woman who is being gang-raped might go into survival mode and begin acting out of sheer survival instinct might want to *take specific, strategic actions aimed at surviving the ordeal* is an attempt to shift blame?

    I think I may have misunderstood that. Can you clarify?

    Survival strategies start with the rapist, not the rapee.

    You’re saying it is incumbent upon the aggressor to devise a survival strategy for the victim? I’m not sure this is a great survival plan. In fact, I’d go a step further and offer a bit of advice… if you’re ever being gang-raped, don’t look to your rapists for a survival strategy. He probably won’t be much help. Hope that makes sense.

  7. 7
    kacyray

    I mean, I get it… a woman being raped is being victimized in more ways than one. I’ve got that. Yes, it’s deplorable to think that her behavior during the ordeal would actually be analyzed and used against her. I get that it’s a no-win situation for her. All of this is well-agreed-upon. We all agree that she is wholly victimized and the the fault lays squarely on the shoulders of her aggressors.

    But she still has to survive it, right? As we saw today, gang-rape is a life-or-death situation. So she has to do *something*. She has to react *some way*.

    I’m just asking what the best survival strategy would be.

  8. 8
    Greta Christina

    What would you advocate as a survival strategy to a woman who finds herself in that position?

    kacyray @ #3: I don’t know. I’m not a self-defense expert. And every situation is different: there’s not a one-size-fits all strategy. What I do think is that this is a derailment from the topic at hand — namely, the ways that rape victims get blamed for their assaults no matter what they do.

    You’re saying it is incumbent upon the aggressor to devise a survival strategy for the victim?

    kacyray @ #6: I’m pretty sure that’s not what Susannah means. I’m pretty sure she means that, as a society, the best way to create better survival of rape is to have people not commit rape in the first place. In other words: to discourage rape, to teach people not to rape, to teach people what rape even is (the number of people who don’t understand this concept is alarming), and to make it clear that rape is never tolerated or apologized for.

  9. 9
    kacyray

    @chrisv

    Disarm all men; give the guns to women.

    That’s right. Equality demands that only women should have guns. ;)

  10. 10
    crowepps

    There is no victim reaction which improves a victim’s change of survival, there is no strategy on the part of the victim known to work better than any other. Whether the victim survives depends entirely on the whims of the persons assaulting her and has zero to do with her behavior, since ANY behavior she exhibits can trigger her rapists to kill her.

  11. 11
    Greta Christina

    Disarm all men; give the guns to women.

    chrisv @ #4: I’m assuming this was meant facetiously, but on the off-chance that it wasn’t: No, that would be a very bad solution. It would be grossly illegal — blatant sex discrimination — and also not very helpful. Not all rapes are committed with guns — I don’t even think most of them are — and as Susannah said above, carrying a gun creates a strong chance of having the gun turned against you.

  12. 12
    kacyray

    “kacyray @ #3: I don’t know. I’m not a self-defense expert. And every situation is different: there’s not a one-size-fits all strategy. “

    I’m not one either. And I agree, every situation is different.

    So here’s where I’m going with this….

    (First, let me make clear that I denounce any insinuation that a woman who is out after [insert time of night here] deserves to be raped. I denounce Shukla’s comments.)

    Is there any room to question a woman’s behavior while she’s being raped in regards to survival strategy? In other words, can someone reasonably say “She should’ve don’t this-or-that and she might have survived” without being accused of saying “She should’ve done this-or-that and she wouldn’t have been raped”

    It’s analogous to the guy with a gun at the head of a screaming person, demanding that the person “Shut your mouth or I’ll shoot”.

    That person has a choice to make, don’t they? And that choice has implications. And that choice is subject to scrutiny, while never forgetting that it was the criminal who is to blame for the crime. That choice could very well make the difference between the life and death of a victim.

    In such a case, if the person keeps screaming and the bad guy shoots… is there really condemnation in the idea that “Damn, they should’ve kept their mouth shut!”?

    It’s a survival recommendation – not a blame shift.

  13. 13
    Ermine

    There is absolutely no way of telling what the “best” strategy would be at that point. If you have no way of knowing how any of the rapists are going to react to your resistance, (or lack of same), nothing that anyone tells you before the fact is likely to save you. It has just as much chance of being the thing that sets one or all of them off.

    Acting as if there were some one survival strategy that could be relied on to save you in every instance? Yeah, that’s going to lead straight to victim-blaming. “Well, why didn’t you just do X?” Maybe you should stop acting as if there’s any strategy that is sure to work at that point, and concentrate on the people who’s actions were beyond question the cause of the rape – the rapists’.

    Right here, right now, by even suggesting that there was some “Best strategy” that she didn’t follow, YOU are smearing the victim with the tarry brush of blame, as well as every other victim who doesn’t follow that “best strategy” at some later point. THERE IS NO BEST STRATEGY, you colossal git! It’s going to be different in every instance! Yes, any woman has to react *some way*, don’t second-guess her as you’re trying to do here, with your insinuations that there’s some best way that’ll work in every instance. There isn’t, and suggesting that there IS one is blaming the victim(s) when they don’t do it, or when they DO use that strategy and are raped anyway – they must have done it wrong, right?

    You know, I’m not at all surprised that it’s -you- asking this, after your “I agree with you, I just refuse to call myself a feminist” beginning on Pharyngula, which quickly morphed into standard MRA talking points. How surprising! Now here you are pushing other people to guess at what -might- have helped her, while phrasing it as the “best strategy” for any similar situation. No. I’m not going to second-guess her. I don’t think Greta is, either. you’re going to have to make up your own excuses to blame the next victim, I’m certainly not going to offer you one.

  14. 14
    Argle Bargle

    kacyray #6

    You’re saying it is incumbent upon the aggressor to devise a survival strategy for the victim?

    Yes it is. The prospective rapist should decide not to rape the victim.

    The is a culture endemic throughout the world that says rape is acceptable. This is called, oddly enough, the rape culture. If enough people work to make the rape culture socially unacceptable, then the number of rapes will decrease. Prospective rapists will know their behavior is unacceptable and will be less likely to rape.

    So YOU have to do your part to devise a survival strategy for rape victims.

    Incidentally, I’m having serious doubts as to whether or not you’re an honest interlocutor. Your reputation on other FTB blogs is, shall I say, less than sterling.

  15. 15
    Ermine

    Sure, you can say “She might have lived if she’d shut her mouth”, but you’re just guessing. The REAL cause of her death was the man with the gun who pulled the trigger at his own whim, not that she screamed after being told not to. You can certainly think to yourself ‘Boy, she shouldn’t have done that!’, but as soon as you open your mouth and say it, you are blaming her for opening her mouth instead of her murderer, who killed her entirely at his own choosing and could just as easily have killed her 2 seconds later, whether she opened her mouth or not.

    He is 100% to blame at all times! She is not at all to blame for her own death, even if she screamed after the man with the gun told her not to! “If only she hadn’t opened her mouth.” “If only she hadn’t struggled.” “If only she hadn’t worn that dress.” No. I’m not buying it. You’re just trying to sneak in bog-standard victim blaming under cover of “survival strategies”. Stop it.

  16. 16
    Greta Christina

    Is there any room to question a woman’s behavior while she’s being raped in regards to survival strategy?

    That person has a choice to make, don’t they? And that choice has implications. And that choice is subject to scrutiny…

    kacyray @ #12: No. There is no reason to question a rape victim’s behavior in regards to their rape, or to subject it to scrutiny. Perseverating on this topic is a classic example of “Yes, but…” derailment, and is a way of trivializing the subject. And the fact that you think this is a valid question to be raising (in combination with your vile behavior in other blogs) has earned you a ban from this blog.

  17. 17
    Susannah

    kacyray;

    Did you just propose that the mere suggestion that a woman who is being gang-raped might go into survival mode and begin acting out of sheer survival instinct might want to *take specific, strategic actions aimed at surviving the ordeal* is an attempt to shift blame?

    I think I may have misunderstood that. Can you clarify?

    That is exactly what I said. It is an attempt to shift blame. It presupposes that there is an effective strategy that the victim can act upon to prevent, halt, or survive rape. There isn’t.

    Survival strategies start with the rapist, not the rapee.

    You’re saying it is incumbent upon the aggressor to devise a survival strategy for the victim?

    Yes, in a way. The survival strategies that work are 1. – for the rapist to realize that what he* is doing is a crime, and to stop, and to get timely medical help for the victim. Or better, 2. – for him to remember that what he was thinking of doing is a crime, and to control himself. Or even better, 3. – for him to understand that the victim is as much a person as he is, and to eschew even the thought of rape.

    All these rest entirely with the perp.

  18. 18
    Susannah

    I forgot: *he, in this case, means “he or she”.

  19. 19
    Gretchen

    Is there any room to question a woman’s behavior while she’s being raped in regards to survival strategy?

    Not until we all come equipped with vagina dentata, no.

  20. 20
    Lauren

    Sorry for violating your comment policy Greta, but FUCK YOU kacyray.

  21. 21
    Mark Heil

    I think the best survival strategy that a rape victim could have is something that we as a society can and should offer. That would be that we live in a just society, and that no matter what action or inaction they take during the assault, they will receive justice and not blame. We too often fail to provide this, and that unfortunately promotes fear of reporting, self blame, and undue psychological trauma beyond the actual assault.

  22. 22
    caitlin

    Why are people assuming that the rapists would have taken it “easy” on the woman if she hadn’t fought back? I find the second-guessing of her behavior really distasteful. The woman was basically tortured to death, simply because she had the bad luck to be a woman in public in the proximity of this particular group of men.

    I long for the day when we no longer act like rapists are just these immutable forces of nature that we cannot hope to stop, and when we remember that rapists are people, too, and that most of them are just as capable of being influenced by culture and society as rest of us.

  23. 23
    left0ver1under

    chrisv (#4)

    Disarm all men; give the guns to women.

    Or at the very least, educate women at risk of their right to self-defense and basic techniques – pushes, handslaps, kicks. In some countries women are “expected” to be pliant and are discouraged from being active.

    Just as Grameen Bank made the biggest difference with women in poor countries, basic self-defense training should be taught. No, I’m not saying men aren’t the problem, they are, but until societies like India change their attitudes and women are protected and men are prosecuted, nothing will change. Women don’t have to become martial artists, they just need to know enough to make the attacker hesistant of continuing and/or provide enough time for the woman to run away.

  24. 24
    Susannah

    chrisv

    Women don’t have to become martial artists, they just need to know enough to make the attacker hesistant of continuing and/or provide enough time for the woman to run away.

    Don’t people understand? Pushing and handslaps, kicks; they have an uncertain effect; they could just as well make things worse.

    In any case, the woman we’re discussing at the moment had her male companion with her. Do you think he didn’t also help fight back? He, too, was overpowered, beaten, and thrown off the bus.

    More victim blaming. Will it never stop?

    Women have discussed these strategies as long as I can remember, and long before then. We studied martial arts when I was a teenager, 50+ years ago. We were still raped. We were told, “Just don’t fight back.” We were still raped. We were told that we were wearing the wrong clothes, going to the wrong places, at the wrong times. We kept to “safe” situations. We were still raped, often in our own homes, by the very people who were supposed to be protecting us.

    Now we’re speaking out, asking the perps to change, and we’re told to shut up, to go back to all the things we’ve already tried, over and over and over. Insanity.

    We are not going to shut up. Enough’s enough!

  25. 25
    Lauren

    left0ver1under, what the hell good is “basic self-defense” when the odds are 6 against 2? You watch too many movies, and you are shifting blame to the victims.

  26. 26
    Susannah

    Got that wrong; the reply was to left0ver1under.

  27. 27
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    To add to what Susannah said @24, there are women who are unable to learn or use self-defense techniques (the elderly, the disabled). What are we supposed to do, lie back, think of England, and hope he just finishes up and goes away?

  28. 28
    M. A. Melby

    I have trained in martial arts, not to any sort of expert level, but I might have some insight.

    The idea that someone who is being attacked in a real situation, against multiple assailants, is going to prevail through hand-to-hand self-defense techniques is ludicrous. In the absolute best case, fighting back may provide a chance to escape.

    I have two years of Tae Kwon Do, one year of Jujitsu, and about one year of mixed martial arts. I do think that the training was valuable, but even black belts get raped – okay. One of my instructors said that a woman he knew who won awards as a black belt was attacked going to her car. He told us this before teaching us a few practical techniques – because much of the martial art he taught was more sport than self-defense. He thought he would be remiss if he didn’t.

    Practical self-defense is a good thing to learn for everyone. However, if you never get an opportunity during the encounter to do those things or those things fail (which they often do – especially if you are over-powered) – well, then that’s that now isn’t it?

    After the fact is not a time to second-guess – and, it is completely unreasonable to expect women (or any other group) to essentially be required to militarize themselves and/or not fight back.

    It is much more reasonable to expect violent crime to be a rare occurrence, and as pointed out by pretty much everyone here, that is where the energy toward social change ought to be placed.

  29. 29
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    These comments made by an agricultural scientist [Dr Anita Shukla] at a seminar organised by the police provoked an outrage in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday, and demands for punitive action against her.

    That’s the one bright glimmer in this.

  30. 30
    leni

    I remember once hearing a story from a woman who was attacked by a stranger in a park. The man had her on the ground and was struggling to get her pants off and during the struggle her contact slipped off of her eye and I shit you not she asked if he would stop so she could fix her contact. It worked. It disarmed him enough that he stopped. Apparently it was so awkward he couldn’t bear to continue, I don’t know.

    I remember thinking “Really? I should just pause and try to have a human moment with the person who’s trying to rape me?” Yes. Yes apparently we are supposed to do that too. Perhaps pull out a picture of our mother or children or long lost dear old grandpa.

    Maybe kacyray, along with your Monday morning quarterbacking, you could devise the ultimate rape defense strategy that would work in any circumstance with any rapist. First try the gun, if that doesn’t work, kick him in the balls. If that fails, whip out a photo of dear old dad and tell the rapist how much he reminds you of him. If that fails, try bonding over your mutual hated of whatever racial or ethnic group seems handy. If that fails and you are still being attacked, pull out a violin and see if you can charm him with a soulful and haunting rendition of Sibelius. Maybe Greensleeves if he seems kinda blue collar.

    If that fails, cry like a girl. If that doesn’t work, try the Sibelius on a cello while crying. Or the Greensleeves, as I said it depends.

    Barring all that, play dead. He’ll go away unless he’s a necrophiliac, and the chances of that are pretty low.

    For fuck’s sake kacyray, what do you think every rape victim thinks about for the rest of their lives? Why do you think so many don’t report it? Do you think you honestly think you could do a better job Monday morning quarterbacking then almost any rape victim has already done and in much, much greater detail than you would ever even want to know?

    Why don’t you just fly over to India and tell the dead Indian woman’s male friend what he should have done differently. I bet he’d love to hear it. I’m sure it would be really helpful and you’d have tons of great tips that he hasn’t already imagined. I bet he’d really appreciate that.

  31. 31
    leni

    Another thing, kacyray, is there a “best survival strategy” for murder?

    What would that be, praytell?

  32. 32
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Another thing, kacyray, is there a “best survival strategy” for murder?

    What would that be, praytell?

    Easy: just convince yourself that being murdered Only Happens to A Certain Kind of Person, and then try not to be That Kind of Person. If you’re a complete monster and don’t care about the victims you throw under the bus, it doesn’t do a fucking thing to protect you but it makes you FEEL a lot safer…

  33. 33
    J. J. Ramsey

    caitlin:

    Why are people assuming that the rapists would have taken it “easy” on the woman if she hadn’t fought back?

    Maybe because it provides a comforting illusion that something could have been done to at least partially fix the situation. That’s my best guess.

  34. 34
    georgewiman

    Kacyray, it might help to think about scenarios and strategies in advance, and even to get training. But when an attack happens the victim has to make the decision and even soldiers go to pieces when they’re frightened. Let’s not kid ourselves; the problem is rape culture. On our campus we have campaigns against rape culture but also (very popular) frat events that objectify women. We have a “girls of ISU” calendar that somebody produced, and suggestive “ladies’ night” ads for bars. I am at liberty to tear things like this down when I find them in the building where I work.

  35. 35
    M. A. Melby

    Yeah, we had an incident in our campus where the football team made T-shirts that said “Whose your Daddy?” and a picture of a cheerleader from the opposing team bending over in front of a muscle-bound football player.

    It was the most embarrassing shit ever.

    It also sparked protests around campus including hundreds of student sitting-in the administrative building demanding action and a petition essentially condemning the shirts and apologizing to the opposing team’s school and especially their cheerleaders.

    However, still the phrase caught on among the frickin’ ingrates that I didn’t even know existed on our campus (naive me) – chanting it at the football game. The other team even had escorts for all of their cheerleaders for that game.

    I found out it was actually someone I knew that designed the damned T-shirt.

    I wish that story were off-topic, but that IS THE PROBLEM. Women are treated like shit to extremes and somehow if anyone complains they are just kill-joy bitches.

    That sort of culture absolutely empowers rapists – those that support that sort of crap don’t want to see it framed like that. It’s just a good bit of fun, right?

    Infuriating.

  36. 36
    M. A. Melby

    By the way, what makes this case unique in my mind is that she was with a male friend.

    How many times have you had someone act badly toward you and then, when they find out you are married or that your husband is around, stop the bad behavior OUT OF RESPECT FOR HIM?

    Not you – HIM.

    Shit this world is crazy.

  37. 37
    bushcat

    I am amazed by how fast a legitimate question was dismissed and sophisticated. The consensus here seems to be that no particular action by a rape victim can reduce their chances of sustaining fatal injuries. Notwithstanding the truth of that position, it is notable that none of you can actually back it with any veritable academic studies; you just know. Well, here are two abstracts of peer-reviewed studies that seem to disagree. Of course they are not conclusive, but they should at the very least open your mind to the possibility that perhaps, there are certain actions that could limit the chances of fatal injury to rape victims.

    Marchbanks PA, Lui KJ, Mercy JA.
    Source

    Division of Injury Epidemiology and Control, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA 30333.
    Abstract

    Women may resist rape by taking a variety of self-protective measures. To examine the association between a woman’s use of self-protection during a rape incident and four injury outcomes, the authors analyzed data from the National Crime Survey, an ongoing survey of self-reported victimizations throughout the United States. The study population was 851 women greater than or equal to 12 years of age who reported being a victim of completed or attempted rape during 1973-1982. Logistic regression was used to control for eight covariates, including use of weapons by the offender and the nature of the victim-offender relationship. The use of self-protection during a rape incident was protective against completed rape. The odds ratios for completed rape were 0.2 for all measures of self-protection–nonforceful, forceful, and both forceful and nonforceful (all 95% confidence intervals between 0.1 and 0.4). After controlling for type of rape incident, the odds ratios for physical injury were greater than 1.0 for all measures of self-protection but, in the case of physical injury requiring medical attention, only the odds ratio for use of both forceful and nonforceful measures was statistically significant. Because of the limitations of the National Crime Survey, these findings should be interpreted cautiously. Further research is needed to help women respond in ways that will minimize injury should a rape incident occur.”

    Block R, Skogan WG.
    Source

    Department of Sociology, Loyola University of Chicago, Illinois.
    Abstract

    This article examines the consequences of encounters between strangers that might have resulted in robbery or rape and explores how the eventual outcomes of those incidents were related to the resistance offered by their potential victims. It is based on data from the National Crime Survey. Although the conclusions necessarily are tentative, it appears that forceful resistance was related to less frequent success by robbers, but robbery victims resisting forcefully had a greater risk of being physically attacked. Forceful resistance in potential rape incidents was related to higher risk of attack and bodily injury with no apparent reduction in risk of rape. On the other hand, victims who were able to offer nonforceful resistance reported a reduced risk of being robbed and suffered less frequent attack and injury. In rape incidents, nonforceful resistance was linked to lower risk of actual rape but was unrelated to risk of attack or other forms of injury.

  38. 38
    bushcat

    Let any rebuttals to my remark be more fact-based than opinion-based.

  39. 39
    georgewiman

    Bushcat, self-defense IS a legitimate topic but it wasn’t what’s being discussed here. In this context it derails what was actually being talked about. And rape culture is a big topic; much bigger than self-defense techniques. For purposes of clarity it is worth separating the two topics.

    It would be like jumping into every discussion of the relationship of poverty to crime to divert to which brand of door lock was most effective against a pry bar.

  40. 40
    bushcat

    “Forceful resistance in potential rape incidents was related to higher risk of attack and bodily injury with no apparent reduction in risk of rape.”

    Tell me how that is not pertinent, George. I was posting this in response to the vitriol that followed kacyray’s question; a question that was dismissed without any shred of opposing evidence.

  41. 41
    J. J. Ramsey

    bushcat:

    The consensus here seems to be that no particular action by a rape victim can reduce their chances of sustaining fatal injuries.

    I wouldn’t say that. Rather, it’s that (1) discussion of that issue can get dangerously close to blaming the victim (or cross that line altogether), and (2) self-protection strategies can be hit-or-miss, especially in a situation like gang rape, where the victim is just horribly outmatched. Also, it’s unlikely that such strategies would have been helpful in this situation. I mean, good grief, why assume that a rapist would be less likely to have penetrated the victim with a foreign object had the victim not struggled?

  42. 42
    bushcat

    Who said that any particular strategy can work in every situation? PROBABILITY.

  43. 43
    georgewiman

    Bushcat, I agree: the new Schlage B-60 deadbolt with BHMA Grade 1 performance offers superior resistance to most common modalities of residential burglary. (You see how relevant that is to poverty and crime? Maybe it belongs in a different thread.)

    Every. single. time. a discussion of rape culture goes up, before long someone’s talking about what the woman did wrong, or what she could have done or should have done, etc. One might almost think that some people don’t want to talk about rape culture, or do anything about it.

  44. 44
    bushcat

    George, Susannah wrote,
    “kacyray,

    There is no survival strategy that has better than random odds of working.” There were many other remarks made to that effect and that was what I was addressing. Go through the entire thread before you accuse me of redressing. And please avoid the strawman that I have seen so many times on this thread. If you disagree with my position, fit your objection with some factual backing.

  45. 45
    bushcat

    *….before you accuse me of digressing…..*

  46. 46
    M. A. Melby

    @bushcat

    Science 101 here. I think I should make a macro for this.

    No.

    A study showing correlations within large groups of people is not useful when analyzing a sample space of one. It’s sort of the opposite of reasonable. That is what nearly everyone has said – that second-guessing the actions of someone in a specific situation especially one as rare as being on a bus with six attackers is ridiculous.

    It’s not just misusing studies, it’s sort of obscene.

    If the topic were self-defense IN GENERAL and what tactics are most likely to work given some sort of completely imagined hypothetical situation where the attacker can adequately be profiled as a “type” within a psychological framework – your studies would be on topic and the question that derailed this conversation would have been on-topic as well.

    That’s not a bad conversation to have – just not here and certainly not now.

    As I said, I have years of training – not an expert – but I could write for a LONG time about where to punch people and how to punch them and discuss leverage. However, that would be OFF TOPIC and inappropriate given the nature of the OP.

    Correlative studies that, by their own admission and nature, should be interpreted with caution are not somehow magic. Most victims know their attackers. So, the victims usually have MUCH more evidence to base their decisions on than a population-based study. They also know there own mind, and their own capability – and they are actually in the situation they are actually in.

    To reduce their LIVED experience to a hypothetical average situation – even if the correlation is high – denigrates their agency and insight into their own lives.

    So – yeah – NO.

  47. 47
    M. A. Melby

    “There is no survival strategy that has better than random odds of working.”

    I can admit that this statement may be too strong. However, rapists don’t come in black boxes. So, if you REALLY want to talk about probability in a strict sense – pretty sure the wave-function has collapse on this one.

    So yeah – NO.

  48. 48
    bushcat

    Like I said, I was responding, not to GC’s post, but to the poor response to Kacyray’s question. I do agree with most of what you said, however.

  49. 49
    georgewiman

    Bushcat, you weren’t the first digressor, no. But you still seem determined to carry the discussion farther from the topic. Yes, survival strategies are relevant to the topic of rape. To a discussion of rape culture, not so much.

    M.A. Melby, that is awful, and a perfect example of the topic. Like the time a local frat held up signs on move-in day reading “Parents: drop your daughters off here.” Or a T-shirt I saw in our computer lab that read “The [3 Greek Letters] man: women want him, men want to be him”.

    Our university sent all administrators and staff members to sexual harassment training, but strangely, not the professors. I don’t know why. Or why sports and fraternities seem to make a virtue of objectification on campus. Seems like low-hanging fruit.

  50. 50
    sambarge

    Who said that any particular strategy can work in every situation? PROBABILITY.

    Well, the woman quoted in the original post said that the 23 yr old woman who was raped and beaten with iron rods certainly would have survived if she didn’t resist 6 men beating her, raping her and inserting iron rods in her with enough force and violence to irreparably damage her intestine.

    In a discussion arising from a post that castigated Dr. Anita Shukla for victim-blaming, kacyray came along and JAQ’d about how women could protect themselves against rape. If kacyray was actually interested in current theories or research done on strategies for rape survival, he could have googled the question and come up with a number of interesting, factual, evidence-based, peer-reviewed works that deal with that question. Of course, he would have discovered that the research shows there is no one-size fits all – or even one-size probably fits all – strategy. Surviving rape depends on the rapist and their motivations and then managing to hit on the strategy that will work with that individual – all while you’re being raped. What he did instead was enter this discussion with his JAQ attitude.

    I’m guessing, based on these posts and others by him that I’ve read, that kacyray is not interested in discussions about strategies for surviving rape. I think he just likes to get a rise out of people. Or maybe he’s one of those guys that thinks that any talk about rape and/or rape culture is an indictment of them personally. I don’t know. Indeed, I don’t know your motivations either. I don’t care.

  51. 51
    bushcat

    “Of course, he would have discovered that the research shows there is no one-size fits all – or even one-size probably fits all – strategy.”

    What studies are these, sambarge? Can you post a few links?

  52. 52
    bushcat

    “..kacyray came along and JAQ’d about how women could protect themselves against rape..” I do not think that’s true.

  53. 53
    georgewiman

    I give up. It might be possible to discuss rape culture (the bigger topic) without rape mechanics (the smaller topic) taking over, but I’ve never seen an example of it.

  54. 54
    M. A. Melby

    Right, bushcat, you’re not responding to the OP – which is sort of the issue. Neither was kacyray and hir derailment was not appreciated – especially considering the nature of the topic.

    That type of talk is inappropriate after someone has died from being essentially raped to death, especially in a situation where she was completely over-powered (and even if she wasn’t). It’s extremely inappropriate – which was the whole point of the OP.

  55. 55
    sambarge

    What studies are these, sambarge? Can you post a few links?

    Don’t you have google? A public library? Seriously, buddy, I’m not doing the research for kacyray, I’m not doing it for you either. Look it up. It’s not that hard.

    And, considering you’re JAQing all over this place, I’m not surprised that you can’t recognized it when kacyray does it. GO FIND OUT. Then, start a blog and post about what you’ve just learned.

  56. 56
    bushcat

    Where does it say you cannot discuss something related to the topic of a post? The stupidity of Anita Shukla’s remarks is glaringly obvious; I saw no need to preach to the choir. I got on this thread because I felt Kacyray’s question had been dismissed in a way that is not in keeping with free thought.

  57. 57
    bushcat

    “…Don’t you have google? A public library? Seriously, buddy, I’m not doing the research for kacyray, I’m not doing it for you either. Look it up. It’s not that hard…”

    Is that your way of saying your studies are fictional? What happened to the onus of proof?

  58. 58
    georgewiman

    That’s another reason that discussion of rape mechanics is inappropriate in this context: it leads in two short steps to what the victim should have done, were she (or he) as wise as the commenter. Blaming the victim is an intentional feature of rape culture, not an accidental by-product. “Our culture turned out badly for her? She must have done something wrong. Out after 10, perhaps.” It’s never the culture’s fault; that would be too big an issue to face.

  59. 59
    bushcat

    George, that is a strawman. Kacyray did not say that, and neither did I.

  60. 60
    georgewiman

    Bushcat: No, you didn’t, Dr. Shukla did. Kacyray just insisted on pursuing the whole topic of survival strategies. Rape has sub-topics, but that wasn’t the one on the table here. This one was about when to shut up about survival strategies. Time and place, and all that. Followed by some excellent discussion of how an individual victim is in an individual situation and must – on the fly – come up with an individual solution, while terrified. You want to reduce that to probabilities. Perhaps after the next rape victim is buried we can just save time and say she got her sums wrong.

  61. 61
    bushcat

    understanding the more statistically tenable action does not preclude using one’s discretion, George. Nobody said rape victims must not use their private discretion.

  62. 62
    M. A. Melby

    I will agree with bushcat on one thing – if you’re going to SAY that “studies show” this or that, it is polite to produce them.

    However, the general principle of the concept of the individual nature of complex experience sort of makes it all moot in the context of the topic. It is also inappropriate to second-guess the actions of someone who died because of violent aggression instead of discuss what cultural or psychological factors might influence that aggression.

    I think we all agree on that, right?

  63. 63
    bushcat

    Absolutely, M.A.

  64. 64
    Lauren

    Bushcat, you, kacyray, and your disingenuous ilk fail to acknowledge that women ALREADY employ safety strategies constantly and almost without thinking. From how or if we list ourselves in the phone book, to how much information we reveal about ourselves online, to what routes we walk and how late we go out, to whether it’s safe to go unaccompanied. We have to adapt our everyday actions in ways men don’t have to consider to defend against rape.

    Then, when we get raped, we fight, we run, we bargain, we cajole, we play possum. We try anything to escape it or minimize the harm. SO FUCKING WHAT? We are still getting raped, and blamed for it ourselves. Our rapists are rarely charged and even more rarely convicted. And you and kacyray ask your stupid supercilious questions about what techniques might marginally improve our chances? WE DON’T GIVE A SHIT. We’ve been doing that since we were 12. We want to change our culture so that men stop raping us, not add more limits to what we do to avoid being the one they get.

  65. 65
    bushcat

    Well, Lauren, if you are willing to dispute my position with facts, I’m all ears. I do care about what may give a woman better survival chances during rape and if you do not, well, let’s just agree to disagree. There’s no need to be rude.

  66. 66
    A Hermit

    Well I’ve taught self defense, and the first rules are awareness and avoidance. But that doesn’t mean “don’t wear short skirts or walk down dark alleys”; it means always be aware of your surroundings and the people in those surroundings. That can be on a date, in a bar or a family reunion.

    Unfortunately that’s not always enough…

    The woman in India was on a public bus, a place that should be safe. She was attacked by a mob, and I don’t care how good your self defense skills are, 6:1 are losing odds. Only people with no experience in martial arts believe the fantasy that a single fighter can take down half a dozen determined, larger, stronger opponents.

    The decision to fight back or not depends on the person and the circumstances involved. There is no hard and fast “survival strategy” that can be applied in all situations, and second guessing anyone’s decision to do either is an exercise in stupidity.

    The only thing that approaches the horror of the act here is the attitude that there is something the victim should have done differently; that somehow she brought any of this on herself.

    Also, everything M.A. Melby has said above…

  67. 67
    M. A. Melby

    Thing is – talking about survival strategies during a rape around a group of women is like hanging out at a burn ward and asking if anyone has considered how one might not catch on fire.

    It’s sort of obnoxious, which is why the original question was trounced.

    It’s also PART of the problem, and EXACTLY the problem pointed out in the OP. So, hearing someone go on about it is a bit exhausting, y’know.

  68. 68
    Lauren

    Bushcat, your “position” is not worthy of dispute in this forum. It’s a nitpicking derail of the more overarching topic.

  69. 69
    M. A. Melby

    So….

    ….some of the protesting want the rapists to be literally cut up into pieces and thrown into the street, as a deterrent.

    Is that appropriate?

    (Tries desperately to change subject to subject.)

  70. 70
    bushcat

    Let me straighten out my position: The blame for rape lies solely and entirely with the offender, and the victim is not culpable in any way. Anita Shukla’s remarks are asinine and bear no serious scrutiny. However, I believe that notwithstanding the most effectual way of dealing with rape, it is useful for people (both men and women) to look at credible research that may direct them to acting in ways that REDUCE (not remove) their chances of sustaining fatal injuries in the process of rape. Looking at said research, of course, does not exclude or preclude taking positive legal or social action to deal with rape, in the same way that understanding how one can increase chances of surviving an accident does not detract from road safety efforts. I am not a rape apologist. I am not shifting blame. Avoid those strawman arguments. The abstracts i posted are not authoritative documents; i simply posted them in response to arrogant and certain assertions from some forum members. I am not holding up any course of action as a survival strategy, as that would require tons of research, which I have not done yet. Any criticism to my positions is welcome, but I prefer that it be based on academic research, facts and evidence- not emotion or conjecture. Have a good night.

  71. 71
    Lauren

    M.A. Melby @69 – didn’t think I could get a laugh off this thread. Thanks.

  72. 72
    georgewiman

    “There’s no need to be rude.”

    Oh, thank goodness; Bushcat has agreed to shut up.

    Seriously, Bushcat. If you disagree that interjecting discussion of survival strategies into a larger discussion of WTF is wrong with our culture and how insensitive it is to blame victims, by all means make that point if you can. So far, you and kacyray have only exemplified the issue on the table.

  73. 73
    jesse

    @bushcat / kacyray

    Y’know like M.A., I practice martial arts and even sometimes teach class. Been doing stuff for 25 years. I’d say I am pretty darn good, actually, given my age and physical constraints.

    But I (a male, for the record) also tell my students that all that movie-fantasy crap is just that. I tell them that realistically you have one shot. That’s all. And that it takes training for soldiers to learn to kill people, from a distance with a gun. That’s a big part of why basic takes four months at least — to turn off just enough of your conscience that you can pull the trigger.

    Unless you are a sociopath that just isn’t a fight you are going to win with an attacker. They are by definition more ruthless than you. Hitting someone hard enough to really injure them is hard to do, not just because it requires some amount of physical force but because most folks are not Ted Bundy or Aileen Wournos.

    And you know what? none of that matters in this discussion. Because the whole point – that M.A. Melby made twice, by my count — is that we’re talking about how to stop the whole situation from occurring in the first place. And no, I don’t think there’s much you can do if a whole bunch of people are determined to kill you or hurt you. And it’s ridiculous to expect every woman out there to be some superhero incarnation.

    You know what I find disturbing, just a bit? The usual stereotype of rape — the one I read about in a copy of Our Bodies Ourselves back in what, 1975? — involves a slavering stranger and pretty (always too pretty for her own good, of course) young woman attacked at night in an alley. There’s an underlying assumption that kacyray’s “question” about survival strategies reveals, and it falls pretty squarely within that stereotype. I don’t know about India, but in the US for darn sure most rape cases don’t look like that. So all that rot about survival strategies would go out the window with someone you know. But that stereotype still comes knocking like a zombie in a Dawn of the Dead remake.

    The problem for purposes of this thread is that you have someone saying this kind of stuff about the woman who was killed by men trying to show they had power. I mean, when I read about this I was thinking this is pretty sick. And you come in and talk about survival strategies for women generally. FFS. The men who did this are sociopaths, at least as far as women are concerned. They did not see their victim as a person. That is the problem we are talking about here.

    I mean, at least two people explained to you two, why this is a problem.

  74. 74
    bushcat

    Oh yea, Jesse. Let’s not talk about survival strategies. It’s too uncomfortably pragmatic. Let’s be romantic and imagine we can put an end to rape, as we have to murder, burglary and fraud.

  75. 75
    Greta Christina

    Like I said, I was responding, not to GC’s post, but to the poor response to Kacyray’s question.

    Bushcat @ #48, and ad nauseum throughout this thread: Yes. We understand, You’re trying to dredge up Kacyray’s question, address, it, and scold me and the others in this thread for not wanting to discuss it here.

    But it has already been explained to you, multiple times, why Kacyray’s question was grotesquely inappropriate in this discussion. It might have been appropriate in another thread — but it is grotesquely inappropriate here. As has been pointed out to you multiple times: Every single time a discussion of rape happens, someone pipes us to ask, “What could the rape victim have done to avoid this?” The whole point of this post was that this is reprehensible. The whole point of this post was that examining a rape victim’s actions after their rape to question and scrutinize their choices and look at what they might have done better — as opposed to looking at how we can discourage and prevent potential rapists from committing rape — is reprehensible.

    (If you haven’t already read it, btw I encourage you to read Why “Yes, But” Is the Wrong Response to Misogyny. It applies to rape as well.)

    The question on the table is not, “Are there techniques that rape victims might employ to increase their chances of survival?” That may be the topic you want to discuss — but it is not the topic on the table. That would be an appropriate topic for another thread. On this thread, it is a classic example of exactly the kind of behavior that this post is condemning.

    And riding roughshod over a blogger’s clearly stated comment policy, and blatantly disregarding her clearly stated wishes over what conversation topics in her blog are and are not appropriate and where, is what’s “not in keeping with free thought.” You have a right to express whatever views you like. You do not have the right to express them anywhere you like, at any time.

    Normally at this point, I would be giving you one last chance to apologize and make amends. But today is supposed to be one of my very few days off from work, and I don’t want to have to spend all day monitoring the comments here to see if you’re still at it. So I’m putting you into comment moderation. Any further comments you make here will need to be approved by me before they get posted.

  76. 76
    georgewiman

    Culture can change, bushcat. Many things that were once acceptable are now considered unacceptable and as a result, they have become less common. Yes it’s a bigger problem than the mechanics of self-defense but sometimes you have to tackle the bigger problems.

  77. 77
    Greta Christina

    Oh yea, Jesse. Let’s not talk about survival strategies. It’s too uncomfortably pragmatic. Let’s be romantic and imagine we can put an end to rape, as we have to murder, burglary and fraud.

    bushcat @ #74: Translation: Let’s not talk about rape culture, and the ways that we might reduce incidents of rape by changing that culture. Ever. Ever, ever, ever. Whenever the topic of rape and rape culture comes up, let’s instead change the subject to what rape victims can do better. Every. Single. Time. After all, we haven’t discussed that topic in our culture again and again and again and again and again and again and again…

  78. 78
    bushcat

    Do you accept dissent on this blog, GC?

  79. 79
    Lauren

    BC, you’re derailing, not dissenting.

  80. 80
    Greta Christina

    Do you accept dissent on this blog, GC?

    Note to other commenters: Yes, I approved this comment, and let it out of comment moderation.

    bushcat @ #78: I not only accept dissent on this blog — I encourage it. I also reserve the right to decide when certain comments and comment topics are derailing.

    The topic of “what can rape victims do to improve their survival chances” is a derailment from the topic of “how rape victims routinely get blamed for their rapes.” And the fact that you think the topic you want to discuss is far more important than the topic of the post… it’s pretty much Exhibit A of what everyone else here is talking about. It’s a classic example of the unwillingness of many people to look at rape from any angle other than what the rape victim could have done differently.

    The topic of what rape victims might do to improve their survival chances has been discussed ad nauseum. If you want to discuss that elsewhere, you are free to do so. We want to talk about something else now. We want to talk about what our culture can do to discourage and prevent rapists from raping. if you want to participate in that discussion, you are welcome to do so. You are welcome to express dissenting opinions on that subject. You are not, however, welcome to come into my blog and change the subject to whatever it is you want to discuss. Especially when doing so shows a grotesque lack of concern for the exact problem that’s on the table.

  81. 81
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    I’m not sure that bushcat and kacyray’s apparent conviction that they have the RIGHT to take over a woman’s space and force the discussion THEY want to happen regardless of her wishes – the feeling that they are ENTITLED to use her personal space regardless of her wishes – is irrelevant to rape culture. It kind of seems like an example of it.

  82. 82
    M. A. Melby

    Ouch Azkyroth – but yeah, in a very very broad sense.

    It reminds me of that man-child that coded the video game where you could beat up Anita Sarkeesian’s. He flat out said he did it because she moderated his comments and “wouldn’t listen” – you know, she was ignoring him and that just wouldn’t due.

    Regardless of a purely conceptual connection, of course bushcat and kacyray should not interpret that observation as lumping them into a category it is extremely unlikely that they should be grouped into.

    We know what the issue is, Christina pointed it out very well, very plainly.

    In the end, the reason these discussion get derailed was pointed out by bushcat. “…Let’s be romantic and imagine we can put an end to rape….”

    It’s simple defeatism. Rape is like a hurricane or an earthquake or something, apparently. Not just rape, but the amount of rape – cannot be changed. Only in some fantasy world do fewer people rape, apparently.

    I hope that is not true – and I see no reason to believe that it is. In my lifetime, I’ve seen a shift away from rape-as-sport and rape-as-seduction being MAINSTREAM. Changes are already occurring.

    We have THREE people with martial arts experience, including self-defense training, who say it’s a frickin’ fantasy to think that self-defense techniques could have prevented what happened. So, even in the most pragmatic of conversations – self-defense techniques are completely, utterly, and painfully off-topic.

    We all know that.

  83. 83
    M. A. Melby

    My question about punishment was not necessarily a rhetorical one.

    Would harsher punishments for rapists help? I tend to think it would not, actually.

    I had a long, interesting conversation with a lawyer I know from Canada about prosecuting rape cases. One aspect of the conversation was that he brought up the fact that the rape was a serious crime and if convicted the people would do serious time. It seemed that, in a way, the harshness of the punishment had the effect of raising the burden of proof.

    http://sinmantyx.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/testifying-with-niqa/

    Are the types of punishments given in rape cases come with diminishing returns, as those who rape simply can’t imagine that their actions are “rape” because of that myth that violent stranger-rape is the definition of rape.

    If what someone is considering doing doesn’t resemble what happened in India in their minds – and rapists are not humans but crazy monsters that should be hung or literally cut into pieces – how can you possibly convince someone that what they are considering doing is rape and that if they do that thing, they are indeed a rapist?

    Would a deterrent to rape be a more probable but less severe punishment?

    Of course not punishing the victim – even after her death – might be a frickin’ start. The silver lining is that Dr. Shurkla’s infuriating statements were met with rioting.

    https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/386764_10151197938836275_628443121_n.jpg

  84. 84
    georgewiman

    M.A., it’s hard for me to think of rioting as a silver lining. If I were a shopkeeper I would be less inclined to listen to protesters who burned down my shop. But it is encouraging that large numbers of people took some action I guess:-\ It puts rape culture on notice.

    I agree that ultra-severe punishment probably won’t prevent rape. My approach is to support anti-rape messages on campus including the rainbow symbols at my desk, and attending events to raise their visibility, and to take down rape-culture messages in the building where I work. (We have a sign-posting policy; I’m just strongly focused on enforcing it!) Other people do other things as their positioning and personality allow.

    Assertions to the contrary, changing culture is no pipe dream. Just takes enough people to stand up. People underestimate their influence.

  85. 85
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    Azkyroth

    I’m not sure that bushcat and kacyray’s apparent conviction that they have the RIGHT to take over a woman’s space and force the discussion THEY want to happen regardless of her wishes – the feeling that they are ENTITLED to use her personal space regardless of her wishes – is irrelevant to rape culture. It kind of seems like an example of it.

    Ayup. And that makes me a sad kitty.

    NOBODY IS “ENTITLED TO” ANYBODY ELSE’S BODY, BLOG, TIME, OR PERSONAL SPACE. EVER.

  86. 86
    Ermine

    Butbutbut Probabilities! (Aagghh!)

    You know, If there’s one thing the last couple of years of hatefests and organized misogyny have shown me, it’s that these conversations really do happen every. single. time. when women try to discuss these issues. That it really does turn into victim-blaming even when the case is as open-and-shut bloody OBVIOUS as this one is. No, it was not in any way the victim’s fault, it was entirely the fault of the rapists. No, we don’t want to discuss yet again what the victim -might- have done differently that -might- have given her a (statistically!) better chance of survival. She may have taken every normal precaution, but once you’re surrounded on a public bus by 6 people bent on rape, violence, and murder, all bets are off. And -still- people want so very much to turn this into what SHE could have done differently.

    On the subject of “You can’t stop rape any more than you can stop murder or burglary”, I’m sure that’s what many people said about slavery, too, but there’s a lot less of it in the world than there was a couple of generations back, isn’t there? I’ve seen plenty of people say “You’re never going to end religion, why do you keep harping on it?”, but there are far more non-religious people in the world now than there were a generation or two ago, and their numbers are growing rapidly, aren’t they? Do you think spousal rape is at anywhere near the levels it was 100 years ago? (I’m concentrating on the USA and UK here, other countries with less rights for women obviously still have far higher levels of spousal rape – Why, it’s almost like women have actually made a difference already in some places, isn’t it?)

    We may not be able to stop rape completely, but like slavery, we can try to change the culture around it so that the number of incidents becomes a fraction of what it once was, and so that when it -does- occur, people put the blame where it belongs – on the heads of the perpetrators, NOT the victims. We can try to change the culture so that rapists and would-be rapists don’t find succor and like-minded attitudes amongst the general population, and are instead pointed out and brought to justice, like we’re beginning to see for child-molesting priests. Cultures can and do change, and are changing even now where we can all see it – don’t try to tell us that we can’t bring change if we all work at it!

    (You know, Greta, I’m really going to have to try to meet you sometime. I’m right here in the city! I’ll just have to keep my eyes open for local events. I don’t travel very well these days, I’m afraid..)

  87. 87
    Nepenthe

    The studies bushcat vomited onto the carpet have a notable fault: no one asked women murdered by their rapist which “self-protective measures” they took.

  88. 88
    dubocn74

    I keep wanting to have some brilliant observation about this situation but all I can think is why on earth is anyone blaming anybody but these messed-up sick fucks who brutally raped, beat and murdered this woman? It is inconceivable to me that there isn’t more outrage surfacing about it. I guarantee that there are more people fuming about the NHL lock-out right now than there are people talking about this incredibly unjust and horrific event.

  89. 89
    Susannah

    The following is entirely personal, does not constitute data, nor necessarily hold true for anyone else. But I think it may be relevant.

    I have had a continuing series of dreams in which a man (always the same one) tries to get at me to hurt me. His intentions are not clear, but always involve physical violence – I knew this guy, long ago.

    His methods vary, from grabbing me in a crowd to chopping in my front door with an axe, to setting my house on fire. (This is in the dreams.)

    I invariably wake up in a panic, calm myself down and try to figure out a way to escape, a weapon I could use, a stratagem that would delay him while I call 911 and wait for the cops. It helps; sometimes the escape seems iffy; like running through the night, pounding on windows and doors as I go to wake up the neighbours, hoping that he doesn’t catch up. Unlikely; he was always fit, and I have a gimpy heart. But working out who I know is a light sleeper distracts me until my heart stops pounding, and I can go play computer games until I’m able to go back to sleep.

    And it helps, also, in the next dream; the responses are rehearsed; I snatch up the cell phone and dash out the opposite door, dialing as I go, heading for the third window around the corner. The dream peters out, and it doesn’t take as long to recover. Of course, in real life, he was always cunning, fit, and absolutely conscienceless; so in the next dream, the situation will have changed and I’ll have to devise a new strategy.

    That’s in dreams. In real life, sometimes I wake up because of a tiny, unfamiliar noise somewhere in the house. A staircase creaks, the fridge clicks rather than hums, drips from the eaves bounce and tap on a window; something innocuous. But suddenly I am awake, convinced that someone has broken in

    And here’s the thing; for all my planning, for my awareness of exits, of weapons, of escape strategies, for all my training and practice in self-defence, I am still helpless. I am paralyzed by fear; I can’t move, I can’t open my mouth to scream, I have no voice. I can barely breathe. All my will-power doesn’t enable me to utter a sound or move a muscle.

    It takes a minute, maybe more, before I can force my body to respond, slowly. Then I can raise my head, listen carefully, locate the origin of the sound, relax.

    In that minute, I am totally vulnerable. An attacker of any sort would have no difficulty overpowering me.

    I’m not saying that this applies to other victims of violent attacks. It’s my old PTSD acting up, that is all.

    But what I am trying to convey is the absolute irrelevance of theorizing about probabilities, about fictional scenarios. The meaninglessness of after-the-fact dissections; “She should have . . . could have . . . would have . . .” “Why didn’t she just . . . ?” “Teach the women (and small children) self-defence!” “Arm them!”

    What do we know? We weren’t there! We weren’t the victim!”

    And even when we were, as I was the times I was beaten, the times I was raped, all my thinking afterwards of what I should have done differently doesn’t change a smidgen of what happened, nor does it change that I did the best I could do at the time, to no avail.

    (Except a couple of times, when I managed, by a fluke, really, to damage the guy enough to let me get away. Good memories, especially because these were stranger attacks, and there was no danger of being stalked or retaliated against).

    (Post? Delete? Post? . . . Post.)

  90. 90
    scenario

    If someone can blame the victim when she did what conservative society said she should do and only went out when she had a male protector with her and then lost a six against one battle for her life, what would happen to a date rape victim who had a few drinks too many?

    Sometimes people confuse blaming the victim with strategies for limiting risk, but this is a clear case where a woman took an ordinary risk that many people have to take every day just to get back and forth to work. People have to take some risks in order to survive in the real world. Blaming a victim for taking an ordinary risk is clearly wrong.

    Once she was in a six against one situation, there were no good options. Saying she should have done something different is a waste of time. She did what she thought best at the time and it didn’t work. On the other hand if she had done the opposite, she might have died quicker. This is a clear cut instance of blaming the victim.

  91. 91
    Tam Hunter

    If I may, give a Man’s point of view, we should be teaching our Sons and Nephews not to Rape anyone. The thing that upsets and angers me is that once anyone has been raped it is difficult for them to feel safe ever again. My ex-wife was raped as a young girl and as such would get flashbacks whilst making love, we had to stop so that I could calm her down, this is not the way anyone Male or Female should have to act. In Britain it is no longer legal for a rapist to represent himself in court, so as not to give him a chance to abuse their victim one more time, it is also no longer a defence to say that the Female had had several lovers in the past or that she was wearing revealing clothes, like that was ever an excuse to rape someone. I would also add that for all those who say stupid things like it is impossible to stop when you are about to ejaculate, well that is a lie.

  92. 92
    LykeX

    Oh yea, Jesse. Let’s not talk about survival strategies. It’s too uncomfortably pragmatic. Let’s be romantic and imagine we can put an end to rape, as we have to murder, burglary and fraud.

    At least when people are murdered, we don’t instantly have a chorus of people asking what the victim was wearing. When your house is robbed, people don’t tell you that the burglar probably just thought that you had invited him in and offered him your TV.
    In these other cases, people are fairly clear that it’s the criminal’s fault. Not so with rape. With rape, even normally reasonable people are eager to talk about everything other than rape culture. Let’s talk about strategies. Let’s talk about studies. Anything to avoid looking at how our society has a pervasive problem with denigrating women.

    I don’t doubt that you think you’re a reasonable, rational person. I have no doubt you think that rape is horrible and consider yourself a defender of women’s rights. My point is that this doesn’t ensure that you’re not part of the problem. As the opening post shows, even women can contribute to rape culture. Rape culture is deeply rooted and being a decent person doesn’t magically make you immune. You have to work at it.

  93. 93
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    I’m not sure that bushcat and kacyray’s apparent conviction that they have the RIGHT to take over a woman’s space and force the discussion THEY want to happen regardless of her wishes – the feeling that they are ENTITLED to use her personal space regardless of her wishes – is irrelevant to rape culture. It kind of seems like an example of it.

    Well, the bitches asked for it, talking about the actual topic of the post, instead of all the ways women’s lives should be restricted in order to magically avoid rape, which will totally work because bushcats really REALLY wants it to.

  94. 94
    glodson

    @ M.A. #83

    I would imagine the credible threat of any punishment would reduce the threat of rape in India. According to what I have been reading, it is common for reports of rape to be ignored. Which in turns reduces the chance that a rape would be reported in the first place. I can only begin to imagine how underreported rape could be in New Delhi alone.

    In a more general sense, rape seems to be woefully underreported in general, and not always fully investigated. This helps protect the rapist. Victims know that they will deal with accusations of “wanting it” and have their past drug out, and still may wind up being ignored. And that isn’t even considering the feeling of terror when the rapist has clout or authority over the victim.

    It all ties back into the rape culture. As that is dismantled, the threat of any punishment becomes a deterent. Often, people are more concerned with just being caught, and the existence, plus the scope, of the rape culture helps rapists feel a reduced risk of being called out for their crimes.

  95. 95
    M. A. Melby

    There are some groups that have a pretty strong tolerance for vigilantism as well; and weigh the merits of that with our current situation.

    Even when rape is treated seriously by authorities, their hands are generally tied (and rightly so) by the burden of proof. I struggle very much with the ethics of exacting at least some sort of consequence to rapists that may fall outside the law.

    What is sort of bizarre though, is that people will say that they will do “x,y,z” absolutely horrible (well beyond the scope of an ethical response) to rapists and child molesters – but then even the authorities do nothing and treat the alleged victims like crap when an allegation is presented to them.

    I mean, at least in the U.S. (and a heck of a lot of other places) we are not even close to running up against practical and pragmatic boundaries, such as giving legal protections to those who may have been falsely accused – which is infuriating. THOUSANDS of rape kits – WAREHOUSED! Authorities so corrupt that women, especially sex workers, fear being raped by police. Soldiers not having their rapes investigated within the court system. (FFS – If you damaged a piece of equipment it appears to be considered more seriously. As far as I’m concerned, soldiers and contractors that rape military personnel should be tried for treason as well as rape since they turned on their own.)

    It’s an absolute travesty.

    So, I do seriously consider if a common and reasonably commensurate punishment is ethically permissible and is a rational cultural norm – since even with all the serious flaws of that system it is still better than the detestable “happy hunting” crap we currently endure.

    It would be interesting to analyze how cultures with such a norm fair – you know, places where a rapist is reasonably fearful that if they rape the male-relatives of the person they have raped will find them and beat the crap out of them.

    One of my friends for Puerto Rico told me that if a man was making me feel uncomfortable, I should glare at him then suddenly look at the ground (making it clear that I did not want to make eye contact, since eye-contact is considered a bit flirty), and then start talking about my boyfriend or my male relatives as a means of making a subtle threat.

    Of course, that’s all sorts of problematic – especially since it relies on the person you are talking to is responding to respecting MALES instead of respecting women. It makes women who do not have adequate social supports targets.

    Vigilantism is also all SORTS of terrible, especially if things get out of hand. It tends to result in deadly family feuds and all sorts of awful. All the times that I’ve been told about someone who was actually targeted for that type of “justice” it has made me uncomfortable.

    However, is such a norm (if moderated with it’s own culturally enforced code of conduct) worse than what we have now?

    One of my friends was raped – at knife point – by a date. That f’er would come into where she worked just to rub her face in the fact that he got away with it. I don’t think she wanted us to do anything. She certainly didn’t ask us to and I never found out who it was.

    Another friend was raped by someone who was part of her circle of friends. Those who knew stopped being friends with him – mostly. However, he would still occasionally just show up at parties and other events like nothing happened. I don’t think she wanted us to do anything either. She told me who it was, but I did not recognize the name.

    I’m pretty sure, in a more just world – those pieces of sh*t would be a smear on the sidewalk at least once. However, you don’t take agency away from the victim – EVER – however much you might want to act.

    For a while, where I grew up, if a man was known to beat his wife – other men from the town would pay him a visit.

    I mean the WHOLE DAMN COUNTRY knows that Fred Phelps brutalizes his wife and abuses his children and …… nothing.

    At what point is our principled law-abiding non-violent inaction just rationalized cowardice?

  96. 96
    glodson

    As you pointed out, there are a many points at which playing vigilante fails. Worse, it is dependant on the local culture. Take the Phelps example. One way he gets away with it is that he has real power locally, both in terms of political and social terms. When a man amasses a power structure around him, vigilante justice is rendered ineffective.

    And then there is the tribalism which would result in a swirling of violence as you mentioned. It gets worse as some would use the chance enforce what they see as social norms. This is all apart from moral objections.

    But the worst thing is that a rapist can avoid this threat by selecting a target who lacks the protection, or the more brazen rapist might rely on threats of retaliation to force silence.

    I don’t think it is rationalizing cowardice. I just don’t think it is a good idea. I think addressing the rape culture and pushing for equality will help. When the victims of rape feel they can safely use the law to confront their attackers and when the law will treat the victims with due respect, real progress will be made.

    This doesn’t mean I don’t understand where you are coming from. I have my three year old daughter sleeping on me while I struggle to use her tablet to type this. I wish that there was a magic solution to this as this issue comes with an entire mountain of misogynstic bullshit that makes it that much worse.

  97. 97
    mildlymagnificent

    As for the justice issue.

    Specifically. The last report I read about Delhi said that 600+ rapes had been reported during 2012. Exactly one case has been prosecuted and the rapist convicted. The details of figures for earlier years have blurred in my mind, but they weren’t much better.

    Generally. I don’t have any references because this is from memory of 10-15 years ago. To reduce incidence of any crime, the most important law enforcement deterrent is certainty of detection and its speed. The severity of possible sentences has no impact at all when the chance of arrest is similar to a lottery and the freedom to intimidate victims amounts to carte blanche.

    For Delhi and India at large (remember another woman was gang raped and murdered outside Kolkata the day of this victim’s funeral) the most important thing would have to be a change in policing. A spot of education of judges and police chiefs wouldn’t be a bad idea either considering some of the appalling stuff on the public record from the mouths of some of these people. I don’t care if they change their views at this point – just a bit of education telling them that they will be publicly humiliated if they repeat anything remotely like unbelievably-long-list-of-unbelievably-cruel-and-stupid remarks.

  98. 98
    Gareth

    This may be occuring already, but in the developing world the US could tie aid to reasonable progress within a receiving nation’s judicial system making improvements in timely prosecution of rape cases. Often, and definitely seen in India with the recent press, the long pole in the tent is getting rapists prosecuted. Witness the 600+ reported cases in Delhi with one prosecution.

    USAID and the Dept of State often tie aid to actions we want the receiving nation to undertake. Make this a priority within DoS and the US may be able to reduce rape acceptance in developing nations.

    This solution is obviously separate from improving things in the US. No good ideas there…..

  99. 99
    pcfascist

    I don’t agree with the minister’s comments but there is some amount of truth in what she says. The girl would have not been brutalized in the manner she was in case she had not attacked the men. It was just not a case of rape. It was a case of violence against the women where she is being punished for being a woman.

  100. 100
    leni

    LykeX:

    At least when people are murdered, we don’t instantly have a chorus of people asking what the victim was wearing. When your house is robbed, people don’t tell you that the burglar probably just thought that you had invited him in and offered him your TV.

    True. I reminds me of how quick people are to criticize African-American culture during discussions of race and crime. It’s the lack two-parent families, it’s “gangsta” culture. Those things are worth discussing on their own, but they rather conveniently ignore the larger context, by which I mean American culture, in which those subcultures exist. It’s just so much easier to blame black men than it is to figure out what the rest of us are doing wrong.

  101. 101
    SallyStrange

    Ending rape? I’d settle for getting the conviction rate up from 3% to somewhere around 30 – 50%, which is more typical for murder and burglary and crimes like that (i.e. crimes that aren’t hate crimes against women and non-gender-conforming men). I’d like to see zero women getting raped, but that probably isn’t possible, so I’m willing to aim for reducing the number of women raped from 20 – 30% of women less than 10%. Maybe even 5%? This is USA figures. I suspect that the figures for Indian women, both in regards to victimization and conviction, are even worse.

    I find bushcat’s fatalism to be destructive. It gives tacit support to rape culture by treating rape as an unstoppable, unchangeable force. It is ignorant, too, because the fact is that rape rates do vary across cultures, which is strong evidence that the incidence of rape is influenced by cultural values.

  102. 102
    Ermine

    @#99, Pcfascist:

    She wouldn’t have been beaten and murdered if she hadn’t resisted? How do you know that? How can you POSSIBLY know that? The thugs who raped and murdered her had just stolen a bus as well, I don’t think anyone this far removed from the incident can make certain conclusions about what they would or wouldn’t have done, not without being able to provide some damned good reasons or proof of their omniscience!

    Not only can you not prove in any way that she wouldn’t have been beaten had she not resisted, she very likely -would- have been beaten, – possibly even disowned or even murdered – by her own relatives had she NOT resisted. She would almost certainly have been unable to prosecute the rapists if he didn’t have witnesses to her resistance, and her reputation would have been savaged even more harshly than it already has.

    You are blaming the victim again, as we’ve all been explicitly asked -not- to do in this thread. Please stop.

  103. 103
    John Horstman

    Shame!

  104. 104
    left0ver1under

    The other day, two gainsayers took exception to my suggestion that basic self-defense be made available and taught to women in countries where they’re at high risk. What are the two suggesting, that women should follow Bobby Knight’s advice about rape? Of course there shouldn’t be any violence, shouldn’t be any rape. But until attitudes and societies change, women shouldn’t be expected to just lie there and do nothing.

    Contrary to what the two claimed, I did not make a “one size fits all” statement. I did not include caveats or explicit examples for every situation imaginable, but that doesn’t mean I thought or believed it applies everywhere and every time (e.g. handing over your wallet to a mugger is far wiser than fighting over a few dollars or a credit card).

    As is turns out, the young woman who was murdered did try to defend herself. And the damage she caused and the evidence created may be what puts the rapists and murderers into prison – if India’s courts don’t display corruption by protecting the rapists.

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/01/02/delhi-gang-rapists-tried-to-run-victim-over-with-bus-after-attack/

    The 23-year-old female medical student, whose ordeal has brought simmering anger about widespread sex crime in India to the boil, bit three of her attackers as she attempted to fight them off, local newspapers and TV reports said.

    These injuries on the suspects, as well as forensic evidence such a blood, semen and hair samples and the testimony of the injured boyfriend, are expected to form the main evidence against the accused, reports and police sources said.

  105. 105
    LykeX

    @left0ver1under

    Once again for those who are really slow on the uptake:
    It’s not so much the idea of teaching women self-defense, it’s the fact that discussions of this kind ALWAYS get turned away from the problems of larger society and culture and towards the individual woman and how she has to do this, that or the other to avoid getting raped. It LITERALLY ALWAYS happens.

    Even a legitimate discussion point can be used to derail a discussion if it’s done consistently, and it IS done consistently. It’s not that a discussion of self-defense techniques doesn’t have merit, but when self-defense is always brought up in such a manner as to short-circuit any discussion about rape culture, you start wondering what’s really the priority here: discussing self-defense or avoiding the discussion on culture.

    When people consistently try to turn discussions from point X to point Y, it’s hard not to draw the conclusion that they think point Y is more important than point X. If you start out talking about one thing and a person wants to change the subject to another, there’s an implicit prioritizing going on. So, when you, during a discussion on rape culture, want to talk about self-defense, I conclude that you not only want to talk about self-defense, but also that you don’t want to talk about rape culture.

    I would be much more relaxed about people bringing up self-defense if I had experienced just one, single thread on rape culture that hadn’t been derailed in this fashion. Can we have just one? Is that too much to ask? Apparently it is.

  106. 106
    Greta Christina

    left0ver1under @ #104: What LykeX said. Times a hundred.

    This is the point we kept trying to make to bushcat, which bushcat kept ignoring and which resulted in their comments going into moderation. Is it reasonable to discuss effective self-defense techniques? Yes. Can you have a simultaneous discussion of self-defense techniques and rape culture? In theory, sure.

    But when EVERY SINGLE FUCKING DISCUSSION of rape culture gets turned into a discussion of self-defense techniques, or other discussions of what rape victims can do to survive and what potential rape victims can do to avoid getting raped… it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the people changing the subject are doing so because they don’t want to discuss rape culture.

    And this is particularly egregious when this is the exact aspect of rape culture that was brought up in the first place — the fact that EVERY SINGLE FUCKING TIME a case of rape gets discussed in a public forum, someone will bring up the question, “What could the victim have done differently?” Sometimes it’s done in a blatantly repulsive, blame-the-victim way — as Anita Shukla did in the comment quoted in the original post. Sometimes it’s done in a more passive-aggressive, “Of course rapists are responsible for rape, of course it’s terrible to blame the victim — now let’s talk about how rape victims can change their behavior” way. But one way or the other, it happens EVERY SINGLE FUCKING TIME. That’s why people are angry. Please stop doing it. Thank you.

  107. 107
    freemage

    So, attempting to address the subject of rape culture, rather than rape survival (Trigger Warnings for sexual harassment, misogynistic asshattery):

    The Iowa Supreme Court last month issued a 7-0 ruling in favor of a dentist who fired his assistant. And why did he fire her? Because the 53-year-old letch, James H. Knight, felt that Melissa Nelson, 32, was “too attractive” for him to resist the urge to fantasize about her and sexually harass her. Both are married, and Knight admits that during her ten-year service in his office, she’s been the ‘best assistant I ever had’.

    But he’d told her that “if she saw his pants bulging, she would know her clothing was too revealing” (totally irrelevant, but someone will probably ask, so: She wore scrubs). He texted her, asking how often she orgasmed. He compared her sex life to “owning a Lamborghini and keeping it in a garage.”

    And when his wife finally got fed up with all this, he fired her. On the advice of the Knights’ pastor, no less. (Because upending an innocent woman’s life is nothing compared to protecting the sanctity of marriage, don’cha know.)

    This? This is victim-blaming, right here. It puts all the onus on the woman for how a man is behaving, and there is a line that leads directly from the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision to the news conference in Madhya Pradesh.

    Oh, it shouldn’t come as any shock to everyone, but it’s worth noting–the SCOI consists of 7 dudes and no women.

    I dunno what the solutions are. I only know we have to keep on topic until we find some.

  108. 108
    SallyStrange

    It LITERALLY ALWAYS happens.

    This is true.

    Think about that.

  109. 109
    Gareth

    This may seem slightly off-topic, but: stop voting for incumbants.

    Freemage’s Iowa example: the SC court there, all male, took a blame-the-victim stance. They are appointed (I am assuming) by politicians. The same politicians that we always vote into office. Stop voting for the same people and the political culture will change.

    I am not advocating democrat or republican or liberatarian or any specific party. As long as we keep voting the same people into office they will keep appointing the same people to high benches, keep passing the same laws, and the culture will keep on in the same way. Simply not voting for the incumbent will have a significant impact on the culture. Politians react to one incentive: get in and stay in office. Everything else is hot air. Use the one incentive that will work with politicians.

  110. 110
    freemage

    Gareth: “Not advocating Republican or Democrat or Libertarian” won’t fix it, either. There are real differences between the parties, and like it or not, on these issues, only one major party (and one minor one) are even close to acceptable. Getting rid of a guy who put in a misogynist because he’s a Democratic crony, and replacing him with a Republican or Libertarian who will put in a misogynist because he agrees with the misogyny isn’t going to help.

    What’s needed, for the “Clean Sweep” movement to have an actual point, is to target the primaries. Generally, by the time you get to the general election, it’s too late, and you’re stuck voting for the lesser of two evils (if we we had IRV or some other voting scheme that helped third-party candidates without actually making life easier for the greater evil, that’d help, too, of course).

    BTW, I just looked it up, and SCOI justices are actually elected. THEY should be voted out, based on that horrible decision (but it should be noted, three of ‘em are the result of a similar “Clean Sweep” movement that succeeded because the justices before them voted FOR gay marriage rights).

  111. 111
    karraflarra

    Oh , but wouldn’t it be awesome if there really was a super survival rape strategy that women could use if they were assaulted? Of course, it would have to be something very simple and uncomplicated, so that it could be used easily, even if the woman is intoxicated, or disabled, or paralyzed with fear, or passed out. Also, it would have to be something that worked in all kinds of assault scenarios: outdoors, indoors, multiple assailants, the assailant is armed, etc.

    But of course the people who are asking the question “what could the victim have done to prevent this?” isn’t really looking for something to help rape victims. They have the luxury of not having THEIR life on the line and can therefore afford to point fingers, and find a “oh, but she should have just done THAT and then none of this would have happened” to every rape situation.

    Sometimes I think people use this as an evocation (not sure if that is the right word – English is not my first language) to tell themselves that rape is never going to happen to THEM – because they would know how to act to prevent it. Some years ago, a girl in Stockholm was raped by two men that she knew and had a sexual past with. She had been their sub and there had been some degradation and violence (such as spanking, hair pulling, etc) involved in the consensual sex. After the men raped her, the fact that she had previously consented to kinky sex was of course used against her, and a female friend of the rapists had an article published where she asked people “not to judge her friends”, and told everyone that if the girl hadn’t been so meek and unsure of herself, this wouldn’t have happened. “I know those guys would never rape me no matter how drunk I was”, she wrote, “because I am sure of myself and know how to set boundaries. This girl didn’t, and was known for it.”
    To me it was obvious that this friend of the rapists was trying to tell herself that SHE could never be raped, because she does everything right.

  112. 112
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    See also here via Avicenna :

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/amilliongods/2013/01/06/age-of-kali-rape-and-change/

    TRIGGER WARNING and seriously depressing /rage making Horrendous.

  113. 113
    renata

    The fact is, it doesn’t matter if any given strategy works better than any other. Even if not fighting back gives a far lower risk of injury or death, it’s unreasonable to expect someone not to fight back, and it’s the sort of attitude that has kept minorities oppressed for millennia. On the other hand, expecting someone to be able to fight back is just stupid.

  114. 114
    chrismorrow

    Yet another problem with expecting rape victims to fight is that some people, including judges and jury members, won’t consider it rape unless the victim had ironclad reason to think her life was in danger, eg, the assailant had a knife, or was simply very strong. This does not mix with martial arts,of course. Thus victims are put in a box – if you didn’t fight it implies consent (or in the milder version, you were still raped but you “should have” done things differently), and if you fight and are successful in warding him off, then the risk was never so great and you should have just let things happen so as to minimize damage to yourself.

    Furthermore, attackers are frequently the sort of people one is not suddenly prepared to physically hurt; they’re one’s friends, relatives, lovers, or apparently-nice folks you met at a party. What ends up as rape can start as mere rudeness, with a continuum from one to the other. At what point do you react with violence? It’s a frog-in-a-boiling-pot problem, and repeat rapists know exactly how to set the boil.

    It may seem tempting to suggest that women react with violence at Stage Zero – when the attacker only commits sexual harrassment, or forces a kiss, or removes his clothes without getting consent. That’s obviously outrageous, and an example of really reaching for “solutions” that put all the onus on women. And all of this overlaps with the problems of excessive punishment. If the “right” response to attempted rape is to gouge out his eyes (which it can be, but only if the victim chooses so), then people will redefine rape more narrowly, and in situations outside that narrow definition (eg, she was very drunk and said yes), then they will sympathize with the rapist.

    What needs to happen is a cultural shift regarding what “counts” as rape, and regarding the seriousness of rape as a violent crime, and this will enable women to be more comfortable with defending themselves by violence (if they choose), thus expanding women’s options.

    I also have to add that people do provide sound crime-prevention tips when it comes to other crimes, but I’ve never seen it as an immediate reaction to a particular incident. If someone says “Someone broke in and took my TV,” the reaction is just sympathy, and never “Oh, that’s a shame. Now, do you remember if you locked your house? Also, how expensive was the TV? Just a message to everyone out there – don’t buy a really expensive TV, I mean it won’t be your fault if it gets stolen but you should really use common sense.”

  115. 115
    christophernicholas

    There was not a damn thing the woman or her boyfriend could do, at 6 to 1 odds with no help available, to stop those men from harming her. Her actions had no effect on the outcome of that encounter, only her assailants’ choices did. They did not harm her because she fought back, she fought back because they harmed her.
    The idea that a victim should be censured for resisting a violent assault is repugnant. (The converse is also true, of course. If a victim feels like compliance is the best survival strategy, that does not minimize the enormity of the crime or imply consent, any more than I “consented” to give an armed mugger my wallet.)
    Opining that women should be allowed the tools and techniques to protect themselves from violent assault is not incompatible with trying to change cultural attitudes towards sexual assault.

    When the culture says “she was at fault for defending herself” it is NOT ‘blaming the victim’ to contradict that statement by saying “she had every right and reason to defend herself! RAPISTS are to blame for their crimes!”

    Clearly, it is a worthwhile effort to eradicate rape culture via education and awareness, and challenging ‘rape culture’ can significantly reduce the incidence of rape. It will not ever reduce that incidence to zero.

  116. 116
    Greta Christina

    Opining that women should be allowed the tools and techniques to protect themselves from violent assault is not incompatible with trying to change cultural attitudes towards sexual assault.

    christophernicholas @ #115: It isn’t necessarily incompatible in a general sense. But when this opinion is brought up literally EVERY SINGLE TIME the topic of rape comes up, then there’s something seriously wrong. And the relentless tendency to switch all conversations about rape to this topic is, in fact, incompatible with trying to change cultural attitudes towards sexual assault.

    This has now been explained again and again, in the other thread as well as here. Why is it so hard to grasp? Why is it so hard for so many people to hear, “Yes, it’s reasonable at some point to discuss what potential crime victims might to to reduce their risk of crime — but for the sweet love of Loki and all the gods in Valhalla, can we not do it here? Can please have just one fucking discussion of rape culture that doesn’t eventually focus on what potential rape victims could do differently?”

  117. 117
    christophernicholas

    No, I DO understand. The behavior that’s needs to be changed is the rapists’ behavior, not the victim’s. I agree there’s a lot of leeway to change that behavior through education and awareness campaigns, like the “don’t be that guy” campaign mentioned in the other thread. Even when the message doesn’t affect the behavior of a particular rapist, it can be beneficial to educate friends and family of the victim, police who investigate the victim’s charges, juries who will hear the case, and peers of the rapist who would otherwise condone or stay in denial about the seriousness of his crime. I get it.
    But not everyone is saying this:

    “Yes, it’s reasonable at some point to discuss what potential crime victims might to to reduce their risk of crime” – [just not in this discussion, it's off topic.]

    That’s not what I’m hearing – well, I hear it your response to me, but several posts in the comments sections, in both threads, do indicate that ANY discussion aimed at empowering the victim to resist violence is the equivalent of victim blaming. That’s unfair, and unhelpful.

    The sensitivity is there I guess because a lot of those suggestions come after the fact – “Why were you in that dark parking lot at night” or “you should have known better than to get drunk around those guys” or the like are shaming, unhelpful things to say to a person who’s just been raped. Saying “this wouldn’t have happened if only you’d (whatever)” does sound like victim blaming, when the more appropriate and logically sound statement to make would be “this wouldn’t have happened if only that other person hadn’t decided to commit rape.” Sometimes the victim blames themselves. Changing attitudes about self blame should be part and parcel of any discussion about resisting rape and violent crime, AND dovetail nicely with campaigns designed to challenge the cultural ‘cover’ rapists use to deny responsibility for their actions.

  118. 118
    Jascollins

    M.A. Melby #95

    It would be interesting to analyze how cultures with such a norm fair – you know, places where a rapist is reasonably fearful that if they rape the male-relatives of the person they have raped will find them and beat the crap out of them.

    It seems you answer yourself a couple paragraphs later:

    Vigilantism is also all SORTS of terrible, especially if things get out of hand. It tends to result in deadly family feuds and all sorts of awful. All the times that I’ve been told about someone who was actually targeted for that type of “justice” it has made me uncomfortable.

    and glodson #96:

    And then there is the tribalism which would result in a swirling of violence as you mentioned. It gets worse as some would use the chance enforce what they see as social norms. This is all apart from moral objections….

    This doesn’t mean I don’t understand where you are coming from. I have my three year old daughter sleeping on me while I struggle to use her tablet to type this. I wish that there was a magic solution to this as this issue comes with an entire mountain of misogynstic bullshit that makes it that much worse.

    It seems to me that the magic solution is to get the Powers That Be to actually give a shit. Compared to traditional tribal societies, rates of murder, burglary, robbery, all the other violent crimes are TINY in urbanized societies. And yes, much of the reason for that is that people with actual training and the authority to use necessary force to take people in can do so, without those things turning into retributive bloodbaths.

    On the other hand, it seems that they don’t seem to view rape AS violence. (Rape culture? You’re soaking in it.) It seems that broken and bleeding rapists being deposited in alleyways throughout the nation might get some attention, even if only to keep violence from escalating generally.

    And of course once the norm that rape is a bad thing actually DOES soak into their thick skulls, people like Phelps can be nailed to the wall by more conventional means.

    Yes, this is terrible. It is vile, evil, and despicable, and still it is the lesser evil.

  119. 119
    fuffuster

    @christophernicholas # 117 –

    “That’s not what I’m hearing – well, I hear it your response to me, but several posts in the comments sections, in both threads, do indicate that ANY discussion aimed at empowering the victim to resist violence is the equivalent of victim blaming. That’s unfair, and unhelpful.”

    You don’t understand. At all. NOBODY is saying, “let’s not talk about that ever, it’s victim-blaming”. They’re saying, “There are places to talk about that, AND THIS IS NOT ONE OF THOSE PLACES”. That topic IS IRRELEVANT AND TANGENTIAL AT BEST TO THE DISCUSSION THAT WE ARE TRYING TO HAVE ON THIS THREAD.

  1. 120
    If Only… » The Digital Cuttlefish

    [...] tip to Greta Christina, and of course to [...]

  2. 121
    Occasional Link Roundup » Brute Reason

    [...] Greta Christina responds to some of the ridiculous victim-blaming in the wake of the rapes in [...]

  3. 122
    Rape Prevention Aimed At Rapists Does Work: The “Don’t Be That Guy” Campaign » Greta Christina's Blog

    [...] Every time a discussion of rape happens, it’s a sure bet that the conversation will eventually turn to what the victim could have done differently. Even when the specific topic at hand is rape culture, and the ways that sexism and misogyny and sexual shame and entitlement and attitudes about masculinity and other toxic elements of the culture can make rape more likely and less likely to be punished… the conversation will eventually get turned to “what should rape victims do to keep from being raped.” Even when the topic at hand is ways that rape victims routinely get blamed for their rapes, the conversation will still eventually get turned to “what should rape victims to to keep from being raped.” And when this happens, and when people speak out against it, it’s almost certain that someone will say, “But that’s not part of rape culture! That’s just practical common sense! We want people to not get raped — and telling likely targets of rape how to keep themselves safe is the only effective way to do that!” (As happened in this comment thread. [UPDATE: Forgot to include the link. Here it is.]) [...]

  4. 123
    Keeping The Faith | Generation: Handmaid

    [...] “Every time a discussion of rape happens, it’s a sure bet that the conversation will eventually turn to what the victim could have done differently. Even when the specific topic at hand is rape culture, and the ways that sexism and misogyny and sexual shame and entitlement and attitudes about masculinity and other toxic elements of the culture can make rape more likely and less likely to be punished… the conversation will eventually get turned to “what should rape victims do to keep from being raped.” Even when the topic at hand is ways that rape victims routinely get blamed for their rapes, the conversation will still eventually get turned to “what should rape victims to to keep from being raped.” And when this happens, and when people speak out against it, it’s almost certain that someone will say, “But that’s not part of rape culture! That’s just practical common sense! We want people to not get raped — and telling likely targets of rape how to keep themselves safe is the only effective way to do that!” [ Here it is.]” [...]

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