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College rape and the importance of measuring success

To my eyes, one of feminism’s more frustrating traits is a widespread refusal to acknowledge social progress or its own successes. It’s rather odd when you think about it. It is at least 40 years since feminists began to turn serious attention to topics of sexual and domestic violence, with the publication of works like Sexual Politics and Against Our Will. It is 38 years since the world’s first Take Back the Night rally and 39 since the first national US coalition of rape crisis centers was formed. On university and college campuses, feminists and their allies have been lobbying (often successfully) for a wide variety of sexual assault prevention strategies since the 1980s. If you take your information from feminism’s own campaign literature, all these efforts have been completely and utterly worthless. All those women involved, all the millions of hours of campaigning, all the books, posters, and leaflets have made not the slightest jot of difference.

How do I know? Well, back in the early eighties when I first started seriously conversing with feminists, reading their books and leaflets and trying to learn about the world, I was horrified to learn that approximately one in four women would be the victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime. I would see variations on it, such as one in four students being victims, or occasionally it would rise or fall to one in five or one in three, but the claim remained fairly constant.

Jump forward three decades, and feminist campaigners continue to use the precise same statistics. For example, here’s The Feminist Wire just a few weeks ago: “One in four college women will experience rape or attempted rape.” Here is a student feminist saying “one in five college women are rape victims.”

As anyone with even a passing awareness of criminological trends should know, something remarkable has happened to violent crime statistics over the past 30 to 40 years. It has happened to an extent in all of the developed world, but especially in the USA. It applies to all violent crime, but especially to sexual assault and rape.

NCVS-trends-336x328

When the National Crime Victimization Survey was created in 1973, it found that 250 women out of every 100,000 had been raped that year. Over the next eight years, the statistics worsened. According to NCVS, around one in every 300 American women over the age of 12 was subject to rape or attempted rape in the single year 1980. By 2010 that had fallen to one in 3,000, a decrease of 90%. At this point I should note that there are statistical problems with victimisation surveys. Their survey populations tend to miss people with more chaotic, less settled lifestyles, who are more likely to be victims of crime. The NCVS in particular is a household survey and (while efforts are made to address this) has real problems picking up domestic and interpersonal violence and abuse. However crucially, these problems have always been there. They were there in 1973, and 1980 and are still there today. So while victim surveys are not a reliable guide to actual extents of crime, they are a very reliable guide to trends. If NCVS says rapes have declined by 90%, there is little reason to doubt that this is broadly true. A variety of alternative research methods have produced similar results, and similar trends can be observed in most other developed democracies. And yet anti-rape activists continue to use statistics drawn from a profoundly different era.

It should also be acknowledged that there are other ways of estimating rape prevalence. Research by Fisher et al, conducted in 1996-7, found an incidence of 2.8% for rape and attempted rape in a period of less than seven months. If one were to scale that up to a 60 month stretch as a college student, admittedly a very crude method, one would indeed reach an incidence of around 20%. (Although we should also note that NCVS figures show a 60% decline in rapes just since 1996)

This week US News magazine ran a deliberately provocative and spiteful attack on campus feminist groups. The author Caroline Kitchens picks up on the “one in five” type statistics I’ve been discussing here and uses it to dismiss the idea that there is a problem with rape and sexual assault on campuses, and to dispute the claim that there is such a thing as “rape culture.”

I have big problems with Kitchens’ article. She dismisses anti-rape activism on the basis of Department of Justice figures, saying that: “Across the nation’s four million female college students, that comes to about one victim [of rape and sexual assault] in forty students.”

I’d agree that compared to rates of one in four, five or six (which are actually quite credible estimates of the situation as it was in the early 80s), one student in 40 being raped or sexually assaulted, if true, would be a magnificent improvement. However it is still one student in 40, which is one student in 40 too many. If one student in 40 was being murdered, would we accept that? I don’t think so, and I’m not prepared to condemn those who strive to reduce that figure to one in 400, one in 4,000 or ideally a big fat zero.

Kitchens also seems to entirely misunderstand and misrepresent what is meant by “rape culture.” I should stress that it is not a term I find especially constructive and I don’t choose to use it myself (not least because it is so easily misunderstood) but if someone is going to criticise a theoretical construct, they should criticise what it actually is, not a straw version. In brief, rape culture does not necessarily assert a “distorted view of masculinity” and nor does it require the actual incidence of rape to be omnipresent or even especially high, instead it refers to a kind of ambient cultural mood which enables rape and which considers any level of rape in society to be tolerable.

Kitchens should have been on stronger grounds with the question of how universities and colleges deal with internal allegations and complaints against students. It certainly appears that an individual such as Caleb Warner, whose case is detailed in the article, has been treated entirely unjustly and I would quite agree that there is legitimate cause for concern as to what safeguards are in place to protect the wrongly accused. However it is a huge leap from there to claiming that sexual assault prevention policies have certainly made [campuses] treacherous places for falsely accused men” or that “across the country, students accused of sexual assault are regularly tried before inadequate and unjust campus judiciaries.

I’m prepared to be corrected, but the only research I have been able to find on the practice of sexual assault inquiries on US Campuses is this one, by the Center for Public Integrity, conducted in 2010. In a survey of 130 colleges, it found that around half of all hearings found against the accused. That would suggest to me that the committees are at least being cautious in reaching their judgements. More significantly, only 10% of cases where the complaint was upheld led to the accused student being expelled.

Kitchens, in railing against exaggerated and misleading portrayals of the prevalence of sexual assault, would appear to me to be slipping into the equally dangerous territory of making an exaggerated and misleading portrayal of the extent and consequences of false rape allegations. She concludes her article by saying “advocates for due process, rules of evidence, basic justice and true gender equality need to speak louder than the “f*ckrapeculture” alarmists.”

I really do not disagree with that conclusion. I would only add that those same advocates also need to speak louder than false accusations alarmists, who are no less numerous and in some ways considerably more dangerous.

As I said at the top of this page, feminists can be frustratingly reluctant to acknowledge good news. In an attempt to rebut Kitchens’s article, Jezebel ran a piece by Erin Gloria Ryan which simply added a whole new layer of awful. In her haste to debunk the claim that the incidence of campus rape is now vastly lower than the oft-quoted one in five, Taylor glanced at the title of the study quoted by Kitchens  – The Violent Victimization of College Women – and leapt here:

So, from a survey of “violent” victimization, Kitchens extrapolated that the “one-in-five college women will be raped” statistic is false. Check out these statistics that say statistics are crap, guys.

I don’t even know where to begin with this. My eyeballs hurt.

First, Kitchens demonstrates with this column that she doesn’t know what rape is. Like Todd Akin and Whoopi Goldberg, the crime she describes is the eye rollingly cliched image of a woman walking down the street and being violently dragged into an alley by some guy with a dastardly mustache. But that’s not an accurate picture of rape. According to RAINN, more than 2/3 of rapes are perpetrated by an offender known to the victim. Most take place within a mile of the victim’s home. And in many cases of collegiate rape, the victim isn’t overpowered by physical force or violence, but by alcohol. And, legally speaking, having sex with a person who is too intoxicated to consent constitutes “rape.” Hell, of all the women I know who were raped in college, I can’t think of one who has described it to me as “violent.”

In fact, as a couple of mouse clicks would have revealed, the Bureau of Justice Statistics survey of that name does not define rape in any such way. It actually lays out in painful detail the true nature of rape, including circumstances, relationships to the offender and all the rest of it, and says:

“This category includes forced sexual intercourse including psychological coercion as well as physical force… It includes attempted rapes, male as well as female victims and both heterosexual and homosexual  rape. Attempted rape includes verbal threats of rape… Sexual assault is also included in this category which includes a wide range of victimizations, separate from rape or attempted rape. These crimes include attacks or attempted attacks generally involving unwanted sexual contact between victim and offender. Sexual assaults may or may not involve force and include such things as grabbing or fondling. Sexual assault also includes verbal threats

Ryan’s reluctance to acknowledge that there may have been some element of truth to Kitchens’s charges, and her kneejerk grab for a reason to hang on to the one in five myth have led her to make an incredibly harmful assertion – that most rapes are not violent. This is astonishingly short-sighted. As has often been said, rape is a violent crime in which the weapon is sex. It is, on its own terms and without any additional aggression or physical harm, an act of the most extreme violence. For a supposedly feminist commentator to slip into this language and logic of rape apologism is sad to see.

It is also, I suspect, what happens when you tie yourself in knots trying to deny inconvenient facts.

Over the past 40 years, society has made huge progress in recognising human rights of sexual autonomy, educating men and women about sexual consent, and challenging and reducing rape culture. It is not a case of mission accomplished, by any means, but it seems to me that the strongest arguments that feminists and anti-rape campaigners have to hand is that people can change, society can change, and we know that, because people and society have already changed massively. All those who have responded to campaigns on sexual violence by shrugging and saying “hey, what can you do, you can’t change human nature” have been proven quite spectacularly wrong.

If we can get this far, there is no reason why we can’t go further.

Comments

  1. Superficially Anonymous says

    I don’t like the term ‘rape culture’ because by the definition above we’re also living in a ‘struck-by-lightning culture’, a ‘traffic fatality culture’ and a ‘choking on toy soldiers culture’. There is an acceptable level of damn near everything in society because eventually you have to concede that you’ll never wipe something out and so all you can do is minimise the risk.

    In terms of falsifying statistics or using outdated statistics this is why I hate it when questioning that kind of statistic is seen as unhelpful or even hateful, gauging the honesty of a group and ascertaining the scale of a problem (or even, in the case of CIF’s various twitterstorms, whether there even really IS a problem) is a key part of allocating time and resources to solving the problem. I also don’t like the emotive use of rape and terms like misogyny, I think a lot of pressure groups are guilty of using one of the last remaining crimes that horrifies people for emotional capital (misogyny I just don’t buy that there are that many men that really hate women). Feminism is about more than rape and lads mags.

  2. TMK says

    Oh Jesus.

    We have been all wrong. We wanted to understand the discrepancy between the lifetime and last year figure in the NSIVS study by theoretizing that the male rape figure somehow went up in that year, or that men were remembering it less.

    But what if the women lifetime figures are simply so much higher because of the reduction in rape prelevance over the last two decades while men remained constant?

  3. says

    SA @2

    I don’t like the term ‘rape culture’ because by the definition above we’re also living in a ‘struck-by-lightning culture’, a ‘traffic fatality culture’ and a ‘choking on toy soldiers culture’. There is an acceptable level of damn near everything in society because eventually you have to concede that you’ll never wipe something out and so all you can do is minimise the risk.

    As much as the idea of an “acceptable level” of something like rape makes me cringe, you make an interesting point… depending on what you mean by the word “acceptable”.

    I’ve heard that in the food industry, there are acceptable level of things that we would find quite unacceptable. There are acceptable levels of bugs, insect fecal matter, human hair, ammonia, etc… this just due to the fact that 1) the cost of eliminating such foreign matter completely from any food, and guaranteeing that it is not present, would make food production and distribution costs prohibitively high and 2) It’s simply not possible since many insects are microscopic. We would never knowingly accept these types of things into our bodies, but when you eat food that you have not grown and personally inspected yourself, you are accepting that, from time to time, there are going to be foreign contaminants.

    Murder, cannibalism, incest… all these taboo things do happen in our society, and they always will. Stopping it completely is not possible… it seems then that the choice is not *eliminate the behavior* vs. *ignore the behavior.* Rather the choice is between *minimizing the behavior and then accepting that you’ve done all you can* and *minimizing the behavior and then not accepting that you’ve done all you can*.

    Might there be value in making a distinction between *accepting such behavior* and *accepting that such behavior will occur no matter how many steps we take to prevent it*? It seems to me that the former is unacceptable and the latter is inescapable.

    If such a distinction is made, then it would probably have implications to a term like “rape culture”. If both feminists and those who are annoyed by them were to accept that distinction, it might go a long way in bridging the ideological gap.

    In other words, both feminists and non-feminists such as myself could agree that rape is unacceptable, while also agreeing that it’s going to happen despite whatever measures we take to curtail the amount of rapes that happen, even while doing what we can to condition the culture into taking it more seriously and moving it into the direction of “taboo”.

  4. kevinkirkpatrick says

    As has often been said, rape is a violent crime in which the weapon is sex. It is, on its own terms and without any additional aggression or physical harm, an act of the most extreme violence

    To be clear, then, if a victim is subdued by drugs (nonviolently) and has his/her body sexually penetrated without force, injury, or violence of any nature… not really rape?

  5. kevinkirkpatrick says

    Words mean things. This is what violence means:

    “using or involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something”

    You cannot redefine violence to mean “all of that, plus rape”, in order to argue that “all rape is violent” (with converse implication that non-violent = not-rape).

  6. says

    TMK:

    Nearly all studies based on self-reporting that I’ve seen of male victimization of DV and sexual violence which includes both lifetime and last year results shows a discrepancy (as in a very low ratio) between lifetime figures and last year figures. One study even reported a higher prevalency for the last year than for lifetime numbers. The designers of that study speculated whether the ordering and layout of the questions influenced that finding.

    If one look at the difference between the average age of the female sample population of NISVS 2010 and the average age of first victimization and divide the lifetime number (18.3%) by that one get a result not too far from 1.1% which was the last year prevalence for female rape victims. That over-simplificated check of course assumed a steady distrobution of victimization over those years. I am having trouble with making the assertion Ally put forth here (a 90% reduction in female rape) match up with the 18,3% lifetime figure vs. the 1.1% last year figure for female rape in the NISVS 2010 Report.

    For men the gap is even worse. The average age of first victimization was lower than for women, the average age for the male sample population were very close to women, yet the ratio between the two are only 4.2. Or in other words; 23% of men who reported being victimized in their lifetime reported having been victimized in the last year. This low ratio has to be due to one or more of the following reasons:
    1. There is a spike in the number of male victimization for the last 12 months
    2. Male victims are less likely to report victimization which happens a “long” time ago
    3. Male respondents overreported the last 12 months numbers

    My take:
    1. I could see arguments for why male victimization may have risen in recent times due to female sexual agency being more freely exercized in the last decade or two.

    2. There is research (Widom, C. S. & Morris, S. (1997). Accuracy of adult recollections of childhood victimization: Part 2. Childhood sexual abuse. Psychological Assessment, 8, 412-421) finding that men underreport (to surveys) childhood sexual abuse as adults more than women. It also seem to me to be an academic agreement that recent recollection (last year) are considered more accurate than recollection (and reporting) of lifetime incidents on a general basis. That argument is used by the designers og NCVS when it was suggested to decrease the number of times the sample is interviewed during a 3 year periode (currently it’s every 6th months, there has been suggestion to increase it to every 12 months – the designers of the NCS argued that the data quality would suffer as people would not remember incidents occurring in the last 12-6 months as well as those in the last 6 months). (source: http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/NACJD/NCVS/index.jsp#Methodological_Issues) and also: http://www.fcsm.gov/09papers/Rand_X-B.doc

    Prior research has determined that longer survey reference periods are associated with increases in memory lapses associated with both remembering the occurrence of events as well as accurately recalling the details of events including when they actually occurred.

    3. I have yet to see any (persuasive or not) explanation as to how men (and not women) would overreport victimization in the last 12 months with the mothodology used nby CDC.

    Somewhere on some blog I have left a comment linking to a feminist academic criticism of how NCVS underreport rape in their view. Well, I can’t be bothered to Google that now and perhaps this comment will contain few enough links to bypass auto-moderation :)

  7. says

    I was having a conversation with someone just this morning about why some feminists, especially of the radfem variety see victimhood as their defining characteristic, and indeed are strident gatekeepers of who is allowed to be an acceptable victim.

    The reason the same figures of repeated wit no willingness to accept that years of campaigning have done any good is because white cis middle class feminists would then maybe have to accept they are not at the bottom on the heap. If they did that they would have to raise up more vulnerable and marginalized women, and move themselves into the background. That is never going to happen while there is money to be made from “banknotes” feminism.

  8. Ally Fogg says

    kevinkirkpatrick

    First of all, there is more to the meaning of a word than the first line of a basic dictionary definition that comes up at the top of Google.

    A concept like violence is rather more difficult to pin down. For starters, you could actually have looked for a full definition, such as Websters:

    vi-o-lence n. 1. swift and intense force: the violence of a storm. 2. rough or injurious physical force, action, or treatment: to die by violence. 3. an unjust or unwarranted exertion of force or power, as against rights or laws: to take over a government by violence. 4. a violent act or proceeding. – See more at: http://onviolence.com/?e=11#sthash.zHZyAFK2.dpuf

    Under that, rape of any kind, including the one you outlined in your first post, would most certainly be covered by definition 3.

    But personally I think that is inadequate, and to really understand what violence means I would look way beyond the dictionary and into the philosophy of power, agency and violation (note the common root there)

    And once you’ve picked that apart, your philosophy PhD will have been pretty well earned.

  9. Superficially Anonymous says

    @Kacyray

    “Might there be value in making a distinction between *accepting such behavior* and *accepting that such behavior will occur no matter how many steps we take to prevent it*? It seems to me that the former is unacceptable and the latter is inescapable.”

    I firmly meant the second option, there reaches a stage where in most activities getting closer to 100% safety becomes impossible due to prohibitive time, actions or resources. There is always going to be a risk of one kind or another and I don’t think accepting that is necessarily the mark of an uncaring society, there just comes a point when a society with limited time and resources has to accept a risk or paralyze itself trying to reduce it further.

  10. abear says

    Ally writes:

    they should criticise what it actually is, not a straw version. In brief, rape culture does not necessarily assert a “distorted view of masculinity” and nor does it require the actual incidence of rape to be omnipresent or even especially high, instead it refers to a kind of ambient cultural mood which enables rape and which considers any level of rape in society to be tolerable.

    The problem with terms like rape culture is they are either not defined, poorly defined, defined in different ways by different people, or the definitions tend to be like shifting goalposts. Are people criticizing a straw version of rape culture or are they criticizing a version different than yours that is frequently used?
    Where I live rape is far from tolerated or enabled as a matter of course, although it does sometime happen. When it does the vast majority of people are outraged. Rapists when convicted will face a lifetime branding as a sex offender and are not accepted in the wider community when their crimes are known.
    Sometimes offenders aren’t convicted or don’t receive sufficient sentences. In these cases people in general don’t “tolerate” it, they may not not organize a vigilante mob but they are in the main upset about it.
    I have too often heard “rape culture” used to broad brush an entire society for the actions and attitudes of the few.

  11. drken says

    @ abear: Really? Where I live a report on the conviction of two high school students who raped an unconscious 16 year old included sympathy for the rapists since “their lives have been ruined”. Another 14 year old who reported a rape had her house burned down. It must be nice where you live.

    As for the failure to acknowledge success, I think a lot of that comes from the fear that publicizing the decreased prevalence of rape will lead to complacency.

  12. kevinkirkpatrick says

    I think the following exchange is entirely cogent and demonstrates that the word “violence” has a meaning which makes it not-tautologically-implied by “rape”, as you suggest:

    P1: I was raped last year.
    P2: Oh, that’s terrible. Was it a violent?
    P1: No, no violence. My boyfriend took me back to his place when I was drunk and had sex with me after I’d passed out.

    So, I’ll simply ask: do you think – descriptively speaking – speakers of the English language would be confused by this exchange? Does it seem like a cogent exchange to you? And the potential conversation-ender / blog de-subscribing question: do you think hypothetical P1, in this exchange, was accurate to describe his experience as rape?

    You strongly imply as much with this exchange:

    Ryan: And in many cases of collegiate rape, the victim isn’t overpowered by physical force or violence, but by alcohol. And, legally speaking, having sex with a person who is too intoxicated to consent constitutes “rape.” Hell, of all the women I know who were raped in college, I can’t think of one who has described it to me as “violent.”
    Ally: In fact, as a couple of mouse clicks would have revealed, the Bureau of Justice Statistics survey of that name does not define rape in any such way.

    An aside: you accuse me of fallaciously appealing to dictionary definitions!

    Keep it simple: rape = sex without consent. Period. Don’t muddy things up with doctoral-dissertation-requiring contortions of the English language.

  13. kevinkirkpatrick says

    Not to pile it on, but I’ll also point out that I found your lead-in incredibly asinine: “To my eyes, one of feminism’s more frustrating traits is a widespread refusal to acknowledge social progress or its own successes”. I have tried to parse this in many ways, but cannot bring myself to hear it any differently from a common refrain I hear from white people in the U.S.: “To my eyes, one of the civil rights movement’s more frustrating traits is a widespread refusal to acknowledge social progress or its own successes.”, which never fails to read as anything shallower than (and is often directly phrased as), “I get so annoyed by blacks complaining about the racism they encounter; why can’t they just stop complaining and revel in how much better off things have gotten over the last 50/100/200 years”.

  14. Thil says

    @15@kevinkirkpatrick

    he’s not saying they’re wrong to still be upset, he’s saying that they’re wrong to deny reality

  15. Ally Fogg says

    kevinkirkpatrick

    First, a free tip on a practical level – If anyone ever discloses that they were raped to you, “oh that’s terrible, was it violent?” ranks pretty near the top of inappropriate and unhelpful things to say.

    But at a political / intellectual level, the reason why it is a really dangerous distinction is because it is a very short leap from there to saying that there are violent rapes and non-violent rapes, and by implication non-violent rapes are not so bad.

    A far more appropriate way to think about it is that all rapes are violent crimes but some rapes are accompanied by greater degrees of additional violence, sadism or physical damage than others. That way you can recognise different degrees of criminality without implying that some rapes aren’t especially serious.

    That’s not just some trendy gender radical interpretation I’m giving you here – that is exactly what the law says and how the law is written and applied – quite correctly – in the UK, the US and most other countries. And that is why the official Bureau of Justice Statistics issues reports on violent victimisation in which all violent crimes, including all rapes, are included, and it is why rape statistics in the UK are issued under the category of violent crimes.

  16. johngreg says

    Ally said:

    … rape culture does not necessarily assert a “distorted view of masculinity” and nor does it require the actual incidence of rape to be omnipresent or even especially high, instead it refers to a kind of ambient cultural mood which enables rape and which considers any level of rape in society to be tolerable.

    My emphasis.

    Ally, are you seriously suggesting that any Western country actually accepts and/or condones some “ambient cultural mood which enables rape and which considers any level of rape in society to be tolerable”? I think your brief definition of “rape culture” is badly flawed.

    There are, in all Western countries, so far as I am aware, very serious levels of punishment in law for rape. And, in my personal experience, Canadian culture does not, in any way that I can see, condone some “ambient cultural mood which enables rape and which considers any level of rape in society to be tolerable”. Quite the contrary, actually. For example, I think it would be much more accurate to say that in some parts of Canadian culture there appears to be a sort of sighing attitude of resignation and the feeling that total eradication of rape is probably not possible, and therefore a reluctant but reality-based acceptance that total eradication is not possible, rather than “any level of rape in society to be tolerable”.

    On a related note, it strikes me that one of the current problems is reflected in some of the blogs here at FTB (and Skepchick and A+), wherein both blog hosts and blog commentors are actually encouraging women to not report rape to the police, because, they claim, “nothing ever gets done”. That is toxic idiocy, and is, in my opinion, a highly dangerous, deeply flawed and false claim, and dangerously bad advice.

    There is, in many current feminist circles, a phenomena that is actually worse than what you describe as “… one of feminism’s more frustrating traits is a widespread refusal to acknowledge social progress or its own successes.” It seems to me, through my somewhat jaded eye, that many feminists are actually doing worse than that; are in fact trying to claim that things are worse now than they were 40 years ago. And that helps no one at all.

  17. mildlymagnificent says

    It seems to me, through my somewhat jaded eye, that many feminists are actually doing worse than that; are in fact trying to claim that things are worse now than they were 40 years ago. And that helps no one at all.

    Way back then, nobody publicly said the kind of things that now get circulated on social media about the women victims. Apart from a fairly blase, “What did she expect?” From some perspectives, like my own, it sometimes seems, or at least feels, worse. I think it’s the coarseness and the vile public bullying of victims that’s the big difference.

    In the 70s, rape was a common joke, rape in marriage was legal and not regarded as a problem by the general public because it was openly stated that sex was a wife’s duty, and rape was very much taken for granted as the way things were done in surf clubs, football teams and other assemblages of young men. And yes, it was more common than now, but the public pillorying of victims wasn’t so much in your face as now. There might have been a lot of talk about the victim having loose morals rather than being a victim, but it was whispered gossip rather than public humiliation. It’s easy to get disheartened.

    One encouraging thing from 20 years ago anyway. When my kids were getting their ‘sexual danger’ (for want of a better term) program at primary school, the teacher gave us the literature about the benefits of such programs. they pointed out that, in surveys, men over 60 reported twice the rate of childhood sexual abuse that men under 30 reported. I realise that women and children are not the same kind of issue – except that it’s clear that if potential victims are educated to resist or deflect attempts to rape them, the results can be worthwhile. It’s the driving reason behind my own preference for consent-based sex education in high schools. But, first we have to do it in enough places and then we have to wait for results to show in statistics. Getting the lifetime risk numbers down to a less horrifying level is a long game.

    There are, in all Western countries, so far as I am aware, very serious levels of punishment in law for rape.

    Which is no help to the usual rape victim because the public in general, and too many police officers in particular, don’t think it’s a “real” rape unless there’s also a violent assault – by a smelly stranger leaping from the bushes brandishing a machete or a gang rape. And the number of people who still, despite all the evidence, blame the victim because of her clothing or being out at night or being in the ‘wrong place’ or the whole catalogue of trivialising the offense or dismissing the notion that a rape has occurred at all or that there’s some kind of trade-off between the criminality of the offence and the victim’s circumstances.

    Even then, events like those in Steubenville and Maryville, along with the suicides of Rehtaeh Parsons and other victims like her in the face of public bullying, and the public support for those perpetrators of blatant, unmistakeable rape don’t leave a lot of room for optimism. Forgive us if we get overwhelmed from time to time.

  18. Paul says

    Someone who chooses to get off their face and has sex but in the cold light of day thinks they may have been raped because they can’t remember whether or not they gave consent is obviously different to someone who in the cold light of day didn’t give consent to being beaten up and forcibly penetrated. The two are clearly very different scenarios and whilst both are potentially violent crimes we can only be sure that one of them is actually a violent crime.

  19. Paul says

    Meant to say we may only be sure beyond reasonable doubt that one of those two scenarios is actually a violent crime.

  20. karmakin says

    Just to add on to what other people are saying. It seems cold…but it really is about cost-benefit analysis, either intentionally or passively. That’s what it’s ALWAYS about.

    We could end all rape…by killing everybody. That will certainly stop it! Of course, the cost is far far greater than the benefit so it’s a stupid horrible terrible idea.

    Let’s take something smaller. Let’s push back culturally against binge drinking. This is something that I think will bear massive fruit at little cost (at least to me, as I don’t drink). However, to a lot of other people, including a lot of people who advocate for the notion of “rape culture” THIS cost is too high for them to pay. Does this make THEIR attitude “rape culture”? Under your definition Ally, it most certainly does!

    Truth is, I am very concerned about the issue you bring up, because it in my opinion it has the potential effect of “normalizing” rape. It’s something that a lot of people do and happens all the time, as opposed to being a quickly moved past relic of a past era.

    I personally think the second…combined with positively positioned sex-positive changes to society is the way to go.

  21. karmakin says

    Let me correct myself. It’s a relic of a past era that we’re relatively quickly moving past. We’re not past it yet…but we’re getting there.

  22. Ally Fogg says

    @johngreg (and karmakin and others)

    You’re picking a fight with the wrong person.

    As I say in the OP, the term “rape culture” is not one I choose to use, because the reality (in sociological terms) is more complex than the phrase conveys, at least in part because of some of the issues you are raising here.

    However I think if people are going to criticise feminists for campaigning against rape culture, they should at least make a token effort to engage with what feminists are actually saying, not a simplistic caricature of what the are saying.

    Having said that:

    are you seriously suggesting that any Western country actually accepts and/or condones some “ambient cultural mood which enables rape and which considers any level of rape in society to be tolerable”?

    To an extent I would agree with that, yes. Our culture accepts, and in many ways encourages widespread views that say a woman should be held partly responsible for being raped if she has been drinking too much, or flirting, or “dressing like a slut” etc etc etc, and those views are indeed part of an ambient cultural mood that (to an extent) enables rape – meaning that they make it easier for someone to decide to rape a person and make it more likely that a rapist will avoid justice. Every time someone uses a phrase like “well what did she expect would happen?” in response to a rape, he or she is demonstrating a tolerance of a certain level of rape in society. When such things are conveyed as official messages, from police, politicians or whoever, then it is reasonable to say they are institutionalised into our society and culture.

    I don’t think the phrase ‘rape culture’ conveys that meaning very well, but there is a lot of truth in the processes described.

  23. Paul says

    Anyone who suggests that dressing a certain way increases the likelihood of getting raped is a fool. However i don’t think that those who say that rendering yourself ”drunk and incapable” increases the risk of getting raped are necessarily blaming the victim. Just as i don’t think there’s anything wrong in saying that anyone who leads someone on to the point of pentration is potentially playing with fire.Rape is rape but surely personal agency has to be taken into consideration as well.Otherwise we’ll all end up becoming infantilized.

  24. JT says

    Consequences dont mean you deserve it. It just means there may be unwanted consequences to our actions. Drinking yourself blind and stupid usually leads to unwanted consequences. Unfortunately assault can be one of them.

  25. Gyatso says

    Here is a student feminist saying “one in five college women are rape victims.”

    Is there something wrong with that? The student in question is (I think) referring to the NISVS survey for 2010 which was produced by the Center for Disease Control. That report does say Nearly 1 in 5 women in the United States has been raped in her lifetime (18.3%) (Table 2.1).. You can find it here.

    I have a few problems with the numbers in the attached table (I can’t get them to add up being one problem; another being that, per the report, the implicit female population in the US in 2010 is 38 million fewer than the number reported by the US Census Bureau for that year; when you adjust the number of reported rapes to reflect the USCB statistics, the number of women who have been raped actually drops to under 14%). But leaving my inability to read those numbers the way the CDC presents them, the number of women who were violently, physically raped, plus the number of women who were raped while being unable to consent due to alcohol or drugs, plus the number of some who were coerced into having penetrative sex, the total is 39.6 million. And that number actually is over 25% of the female population in 2010 (157 million, per the USCB), or 1 in 4.

    But – on the other hand, if you scroll down to table 7.1, there’s a table which should break down the number of rapes in each US state and territory. Their sum, the table suggests, is the same 21.4 mn rapes shown in Table 2.1. However, if to calculate the total manually (as I did), you arrive at a total of 20.9 mn. That’s a difference of over 800k. A significant difference.

    Anyway, all of this is to say that there are current sources for the 1-5 and 1-4 statistic.

    It is interesting how these stats are not dissimilar to the ones published by the US Department of Justice (and which you reference) and available on line here (see Appendix Table 8). I note, for example, that per the USDJ report, rapes per 1,000 people in 2010 = 1.0 Given a female population of 157million, that works out to 157,000 rapes in 2010; compare that number with CDC stat for rapes in 2010: 127,00. The USDJ stats, which you’ve shown, actually show a higher per 1000 rate than the CDC, by 25%.

    Of course the real difference between the reports is that the CDC survey measures lifetime experience, while the DOJ research does not. Were the DoJ to measure that, I can’t help but wonder whether it also would find that between 20 – 25% of women have been raped.

  26. theoreticalgrrrl says

    Notice that many people commenting here use the word ‘happen’ instead of saying someone is ‘committing’ rape, like it’s an act of God or Nature and not a crime someone with a choice decided to do. You could argue that child abuse also ‘happens’, but no one compares it to lightning strikes or car accidents, and certainly nobody says it will just always be with us so there’s not much we can do. Or tell child advocates to quit complaining that it happens and “playing the victim,” and count the many ways they have failed and refuse see the bright side that some progress has been made.

    There are a set of attitudes and beliefs that make excuses for child abuse, just like there are a set of attitudes and beliefs about female sexuality that make excuses for the sexual abuse of women and make potential abusers more likely to rationalize their actions.

    The whole tone of your post and most of the comments are just unbelievably condescending to women’s rights activists, and Paul only seems to believe “personal responsibility” starts with the targets of rape and deletes the agency of the people COMMITTING this crime. Just nauseating.

  27. mildlymagnificent says

    Rape is rape but surely personal agency has to be taken into consideration as well.Otherwise we’ll all end up becoming infantilized.

    And what about the “personal agency” of the rapist? Shouldn’t that be the first, the prime, maybe even the only consideration?

    Every day millions of women wear clothing that some people consider provocative or revealing, many thousands of women go out drinking and may get drunk. They may work late or stay out late and then travel on public transport or walk home in dark streets. They go to their own homes or maybe to stay overnight at a friend’s home, or they may be people who don’t go out of their homes much at all. The only thing that determines whether any of these women are raped in any of these circumstances is whether a rapist is in their vicinity. It’s the “personal agency” or legal responsibility (or any other term you prefer to use) of the people who take the action of raping someone that is at issue here.

    Sometimes these discussions turn into something like a distorted art class where the only thing that is ever mentioned is the background of a painting or the place the artist was living when the canvas was completed or the history of paintings produced in that era or anything. but. the. subject. of the painting. Why, oh why is the focal point of the whole work, the startling image in the foreground, left out of the discussion?

  28. Tamen says

    Gyatso @27:

    The reason you can’t add those numbers is because the survey tally number of victims and any one victim may have been a victim several times of different types of rape.

  29. Ally Fogg says

    Gyatso

    Is there something wrong with that? The student in question is (I think) referring to the NISVS survey for 2010 which was produced by the Center for Disease Contr

    First thing is there’s a big difference between lifetime prevalence and “college women” – I would take the latter to mean women during the 3-5 years she is in college.

    It also conflates rape with attempted rape (which is understandable, but not entirely accurate)

    But most importantly in the context of the argument I’m making above, lifetime incidence is much slower to pick up on changing trends, so all the women who were in their forties and above at the time of the survey (more than half the sample, as it happens) had lived as adults through the period when rape was perhaps ten times more common than it is now, so you can’t extrapolate the risks facing college women today from the experiences of women in the 80s or 90s.

  30. mildlymagnificent says

    Princeton’s 2008 survey found 1 in 6 undergraduates reporting actual vaginal rape, other rape and attempted rapes were a separate survey question.

    More than 120 out of 809 female undergraduate students answered affirmatively to the following statement in a Princeton University survey: “A man put his penis into my vagina, or someone inserted fingers or objects without my consent.” That’s one in six.
    In the same survey, 28 percent of female undergrads said they were touched in a sexual manner or had their clothing removed without consent. Another 32.2 percent reported they were either forced to receive/perform oral sex or were victims of attempted forced oral sex or non-consensual vaginal penetration.

    1 in 6 is better than 1 in 4 but it’s hardly marvelous. With near enough to 1 in 3 reporting oral rape, attempted vaginal rape and similarly serious sexual assaults that weren’t completed vaginal rape, there’s still a very long way to go.

  31. Lucy says

    Personally I think the 1 in 4 figure is an under-estimate.

    Every single woman I know (and I know a wide cross-section from Britain and other countries, most not feminists or having any gender politics to speak of) have at one time or another confided in me that they’ve been either raped, or somebody has attempted to rape them. I’ve given it some thought and I can’t think of a single one who hasn’t. It ranges from strangers with knives, to boyfriends, to family members. I think only the two who were attacked by strangers reported it of course. I doubt any of them have ever completed a victim survey, I never have.

  32. Ally Fogg says

    mildlymagnificent

    I’d be wary of that particular survey, precisely because it was (famously) unpublished and we don’t know why. In particular we don’t know how respondents were recruited.

    Surveys like this can be made all but worthless if, for example, respondents are recruited from a poster saying “please help us fill in a survey about your experiences of sexual victimisation.” And while it shouldn’t, that kind of thing is depressingly common.

    Unless we can see the details of the methodology we are really none the wiser.

  33. Lucy says

    I reckon these victim surveys are problematic. Not that I’ve seen one, but I think no matter how carefully they are worded, do they really coax out honesty and self-reflection, and they are only ever going to capture a snapshot in time.

    I think most people live lives with several narratives in their heads. There’s the real one, and then there are various versions that serve different agendas at different stages in our lives. Our emotions don’t stay static and nor do our interpretations of events. Were we bullied, picked on, unassertive, or just unpopular at school? Were we victims of domestic violence or in a volatile relationship? Was it attempted rape or passion? Was it sexual assault or cheeky opportunism? Was that playing doctors and nurses or sexual abuse? Was that experimentation or homosexuality? It’s hard to untangle a lot of this stuff and it will go through several revisions during a lifetime.

    So in other words, you might ask a woman about an incident that happens at age 19 when she’s 29, 79 and 109 and get a different answer.

  34. karmakin says

    One of these things is not like the other.

    What is it..75% of college rape, alcohol is involved? And I know the tendency is to say that rapists are the ones then that shouldn’t drink…if you drink, and you are in any sort of a sexualized environment then you are…male or female..are a potential rapist. Full stop.

    The reality is that if you want to stop this, if you want to push back against this culture. It can’t be a partial thing. It has to be the whole culture. Has to be everybody.

    I can understand why victim blaming is a bad thing…but we’ve come to a point where we can’t even look to fix the culture, if women are involved in any way shape or form. It’s presented as strictly a male culture thing, and has to be fixed by male culture 100%. Not only do I think that the concept of an isolated “male culture” (or a “female culture” for that matter) to be largely false, but the whole thing disappears even more male victims of females.

    Which is probably a feature, not a bug of rapists who defend their binge drinking.

  35. Superficially Anonymous says

    @Lucy: the issue there is that you probably don’t actually know a wide and representative sample of women. On average people actually ‘know’ approximately 100 other people if I recall correctly, well 100 is not actually a huge number and they’re not picked randomly. To contrast, I know two women that have been raped, I think I’m somewhat under average in that but if I were to go by my personal experiences I’d think about 1 in 25 women had been raped.

  36. Paul says

    And what about the “personal agency” of the rapist? Shouldn’t that be the first, the prime, maybe even the only consideration

    You’ve clearly missed the point i was making. It goes without saying that ultimately the rapist is responsible for raping -no one in their right might should blame the victim for being raped .However imo there’s nothing wrong in saying that if you choose to render your incapable of looking after yourself -as a for instance- you could end up become a victim of crime.

  37. Paul says

    and Paul only seems to believe “personal responsibility” starts with the targets of rape and deletes the agency of the people COMMITTING this crime. Just nauseating.

    Don’t be so fucking stupid. I did say rape is rape but just like mildymagnificant you’re choosing to either ignore or at least ask for further clarification of what i said.Dressing a certain way or behaving in a certain way doesn’t give anyone the right to rape anyone else.The point i was making was that if you make certain choices you could be increasing the likelihood of becoming a victim of crime-That’s not the same as blaming the victim.

    I

  38. Paul says

    @28

    and Paul only seems to believe “personal responsibility” starts with the targets of rape and deletes the agency of the people COMMITTING this crime. Just nauseating.

    Don’t be so fucking stupid. I did say rape is rape but just like mildymagnificant you’re choosing to either ignore or at least ask for further clarification of what i said.Dressing a certain way or behaving in a certain way doesn’t give anyone the right to rape anyone else.The point i was making was that if you make certain choices you could be increasing the likelihood of becoming a victim of crime-That’s not the same as blaming the victim.

  39. David Jones says

    ‘our culture accepts, and in many ways encourages widespread views that say a woman should be held partly responsible for being raped if she has been drinking too much, or flirting, or “dressing like a slut” etc etc etc,’

    Ally, I think that’s not true.

    You may remember the UK judge who, in 1982, merely fined a rapist because the victim’s short skirt was understood by him as ‘contributory negligence’. It was an astonishing thing to say even then; and while it must have been the case that he felt comfortable enough in his bizarre prejudice to say it in court, and to act upon it , even then, 30 years ago, he was overruled by the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice. Even then, it wasn’t so much a culture accepting the notion of victim negligence as there being competing forces in our culture with very, very different views.

    There still are these competing views – a recent case involving a remark about a 13 year-old being ‘predatory’ comes to mind – but I don’t think it was true decades ago and I don’t think it’s true now to say that ‘our culture’, as if it’s some monolith, accepts or encourages such antediluvian views – though I think we can go further in pushing mainstream/dominant culture(s) in the direction we’d be happier with.

    i’m also troubled by the recent castigation of Emily Yoffe, and of others who offer the sane advice any parent would offer their daughter. To point out what might be safer behaviour isn’t the same thing as condoning criminal behaviour.

  40. Paul says

    @26

    Consequences dont mean you deserve it. It just means there may be unwanted consequences to our actions. Drinking yourself blind and stupid usually leads to unwanted consequences. Unfortunately assault can be one of them.

    Exactly the point i was trying to make except you’ve done it much better than i did.

  41. Ally Fogg says

    Paul (and Karmakin)

    Consequences dont mean you deserve it. It just means there may be unwanted consequences to our actions. Drinking yourself blind and stupid usually leads to unwanted consequences. Unfortunately assault can be one of them.

    It’s not necessarily about saying someone deserves it. It’s about framing and understanding rape and sexual assault as things that just happen as opposed to crimes that are committed

    Even the way you have worded that sentence, the very syntax of it, is telling.Where is the agent noun?

    As Karmakin has already acknowledged, this sentence could have been “drinking yourself blind and stupid usually leads to unwanted consequences. Unfortunately one of them is that you might assault someone.

    But just as importantly, you could have written “drinking yourself blind and stupid usually leads to unwanted consequences. Unfortunately one of them is that someone might assault you.

    You could argue it is a trivial distinction, but I don’t think it is, when repeated endlessly in different contexts by millions of people. What your sentence structure says is that rape is just something that happens TO people, not something that is done BY people.

    And sadly I think that is one (small) example of what we’re talking about here.

  42. Superficially Anonymous says

    You could argue it is a trivial distinction, but I don’t think it is, when repeated endlessly in different contexts by millions of people. What your sentence structure says is that rape is just something that happens TO people, not something that is done BY people.

    I don’t think it’s that really, I think most of us are told not to get too drunk or x will happen because x happening to you is far more troubling to you than you x’ing someone else. Generally speaking your own safety is more important to you than someone else’s and most people wouldn’t rape someone or beat them up no matter how drunk they got. so they’d dismiss that possibility anyway.

  43. Paul says

    Ally

    I think you,like others here,are splitting hairs and are making all sorts of assumptions about what i said without at least asking for clarification.

    I did say rape is rape and rape by definition is something that is done BY people.I haven’t in anyway detracted from that.What i have suggested ,and where i agree with JT, is that rape -or any other crime for that matter-could be the undeserved and unwanted consequence of making certain choices like rendering yourself drunk and incapable.That’s not the same as blaming the victim.

  44. JT says

    What your sentence structure says is that rape is just something that happens TO people, not something that is done BY people.(Ally)

    I specifically said “assault” in my sentence as I was trying to make sure that people could see that it isn’t just rape that may happen when you imbibe too much. I do think its trivial that you attempt to read into what Im saying rather than just reading it for what it is. As someone who has children from both genders I try to ensure that they are protected in every sense. One of those ways is informing them to make wise decisions so as not to make themselves potentially vulnerable. As someone who has been assaulted I know this personally.

  45. Paul says

    …..making all sorts of assumptions about what i said without at least….

    Meant to say ”……making all sorts of assumptions based on what i said without at least…..”

  46. JT says

    @Ally

    By the way, I said this originally.

    “Consequences dont mean you deserve it. It just means there may be unwanted consequences to our actions. Drinking yourself blind and stupid usually leads to unwanted consequences. Unfortunately assault can be one of them.”

  47. karmakin says

    Yes, I’m focused entirely on the assaulter, although I will say this. A lot of the time I don’t think that it’s intentional. It’s just that alcohol clouds judgement severely, making people much much worse at properly judging things, including consent. (That’s why I’m skeptical of anti-rapist information campaigns, as I think in most cases people don’t see themselves as that..they have an alcohol-fueled belief that consent IS given)

    As well, I believe that the numbers presented by Tamen above are probably correct, and that if there’s a substantial problem in terms of going after male rapists, that there’s a massive problem in going after female rapists. As such, genderizing these things is very problematic.. Of course, this is a little bit like catching the horses after the barn door is open…I’m more concerned with prevention than retribution.

    As I said, part of this prevention is a reduction of binge drinking in our society. Which is why I as well was very troubled about the reaction to Yoffe’s article. As alluded to above probably too snarkly, I do think that there’s a sizable community unfortunately who at the same time take an expanded concept of rape, while at the same time defending women’s “right” to have sex with drunk men.

    I do think there’s a very gendered double standard at play here that’s based around some potentially toxic gender roles…and sustaining those gender roles and making them even more toxic at the same time.

  48. Gyatso says

    Tamen @ 30

    The reason you can’t add those numbers is because the survey tally number of victims and any one victim may have been a victim several times of different types of rape.

    Thank you Tamen; that makes sense, although I am surprised the report does not mention that. I actually sent an e-mailed the CDC with my questions; hopefully they’ll respond (but probably between their normal workload and the shit-pile that must have accumulated during the Gov’t shut-down, I don’t expect a reply any time soon).

    Ally@31

    First thing is there’s a big difference between lifetime prevalence and “college women” – I would take the latter to mean women during the 3-5 years she is in college.

    Gah! I read right over ‘college women’. I need to read more carefully. Yes, the student misquotes the CDC report.

    It also conflates rape with attempted rape (which is understandable, but not entirely accurate)

    I agree that attempted but not completed rapes should be in a different category for research and policy purposes (but not for social response purposes). But as I wrote above, when you sum the total of physical, violent rapes, alcohol influenced rapes, and coerced penetrative sex, you do arrive at a figure of 25% of women being raped.

    But most importantly in the context of the argument I’m making above, lifetime incidence is much slower to pick up on changing trends, so all the women who were in their forties and above at the time of the survey (more than half the sample, as it happens) had lived as adults through the period when rape was perhaps ten times more common than it is now, so you can’t extrapolate the risks facing college women today from the experiences of women in the 80s or 90s.

    Yes, what I wrote was based on miss-reading ‘college women’ as ‘women.’ Within the context in which you wrote, I agree.

  49. Gyatso says

    Lucy @ 36

    I reckon these victim surveys are problematic. Not that I’ve seen one, but I think no matter how carefully they are worded, do they really coax out honesty and self-reflection, and they are only ever going to capture a snapshot in time.

    Hmmm. I guess if you were interested enough you could exert yourself and read a few… Then you would actually have a basis for your opinion. If you want, you can read the survey questions from the CDC report – they’re in Appendix C, p. 106.

    I think most people live lives with several narratives in their heads. There’s the real one, and then there are various versions that serve different agendas at different stages in our lives. Our emotions don’t stay static and nor do our interpretations of events. Were we bullied, picked on, unassertive, or just unpopular at school? Were we victims of domestic violence or in a volatile relationship? Was it attempted rape or passion? Was it sexual assault or cheeky opportunism? Was that playing doctors and nurses or sexual abuse? Was that experimentation or homosexuality? It’s hard to untangle a lot of this stuff and it will go through several revisions during a lifetime. So in other words, you might ask a woman about an incident that happens at age 19 when she’s 29, 79 and 109 and get a different answer.

    In other words, you think that because memories are malleable, we should therefore regard reports of rape or sexual assault as unreliable, to be taken with a grain of salt? Is that where you’re going with this?

  50. says

    Gyatso @52:

    The NISVS 2010 Report does in fact mention that, on page 22:

    Within categories of violence (e.g., rape, other sexual violence, any severe physical violence, any reported IPV-related impact), respondents who reported more than one subcategory of violence are included only once in the summary estimate but are included in each relevant subcategory. For example, victims of completed forced penetration and alcohol or drug facilitated penetration are included in each of these subtypes of rape but counted only once in the estimate of rape prevalence.

    Rgarding the populaion mismatch you mentioned in an earlier comment:

    another being that, per the report, the implicit female population in the US in 2010 is 38 million fewer than the number reported by the US Census Bureau for that year;

    Have you considered that the survey actually started in the beginning fo 2009 and continued out through 2009. Which would make you using the 2010 census numbers slightly inaccurate. Also since the NISVS only had respondents over the age of 18 I suspect they excluded those younger than 18 from the total population. Would that make up for the appr. 38 million difference?

    Regarding the state breakdown I suspect that at least some of the discrepancy is due to respondents being tallied in the total while not for their specific state as the relative standard error > 30% (or cell size < 30) when looking at the respondents from that state isolated. Four states (Hawaii. Mssissippi, New Jersey, South Dakota) and District of Columbia had no female rape victims in table 7.1.

  51. Gyatso says

    Thank you Tamen,

    the data for the report are from 2010 (see page 1 in the executive summary). But even if the numbers were gathered in 2009, there would still be a significant discrepancy – Female population in 2009 was 155mn; female population in 2010 was 157mn. That’s still very different from the implicit female population of 119mn in the CDC study.

    Re. the states/districts for which there is no data in Table 7.1 – yes, perhaps the 816k difference between the summed total for all states and territories (20.9mn) and the cumulative total of 21.8mn is a plug to account for the estimate the missing data.

  52. abear says

    drken@13; Are you saying the Steubenville incident is commonplace in the US?
    We have had incidents in Canada where young women were sexually assaulted and then harassed by people after. They have become discussed in the news nationally for months. The vast majority of people are shocked by these occurrences and don’t condone these crimes. The fact there is public outrage over this belies claims some people make about this being a rape culture.
    Murders occur in our society too. The fact we haven’t been able to stop them completely doesn’t make it a murder culture.

  53. Jacob Schmidt says

    A lot of the time I don’t think that it’s intentional. It’s just that alcohol clouds judgement severely, making people much much worse at properly judging things, including consent.

    So you question a campaign teaching people to more effectively judge consent? The fuck?

    On that note, looking at the stats from Lisak and Miller’s study (examined here) 6% of men admit to deliberately attempting rape. 120 men admitted to raping or attempting to rape a total of 483 people. That gives us somewhere just short of 24% of women assaulted, assuming no women is assaulted more than once. The actual numbers from the CDC say about 18% of women are raped. Given that, I’m inclined to think that most rapes by men* are deliberate, and that “it was just a mistake” is just an excuse to escape responsibility.

    *Frankly, I believe the same of female rapists as well. However, I don’t have any statistics that show parity between assault rates and deliberate assault rates for female perpetrators. Despite that, I think it’s wholly ridiculous to assume that there would be a large difference between men and women in this.

  54. JT says

    When are people just going to admit that we have a violence culture and the way we express it is through fighting, murdering, raping, bullying and a whole lot of other shitty behaviours. The people who think it is a rape culture are just the ones who have had that terrible experience either personally or through someone they know.

  55. Jacob Schmidt says

    When are people just going to admit that we have a violence culture and the way we express it is through fighting, murdering, raping, bullying and a whole lot of other shitty behaviours.

    Those ideas aren’t mutually exclusive.

    The people who think it is a rape culture are just the ones who have had that terrible experience either personally or through someone they know.

    Huh. I wasn’t aware that I didn’t exist.

  56. Gyatso says

    abear @56

    Rape culture is a clunky-term. I agree. What does it even mean?
    To paraphrase Rebecca Flintoft (Violence Goes to College: The Authoritative Guide to Prevention and Intervention. Charles C Thomas. p. 134.), the term rape culture refers to the aspects of our culture, wherein attitudes and practices which normalize, excuse, tolerate, or even condone sexual aggression and, or rape are prevalent.

    How I understand this – if certain attitudes, practices or behaviors occur at a significant rate, they are a part of the culture within which I live. E.g. Dancing happens a lot. Dance is part of our culture (whether I like to dance or not). Sky-diving as a hobby is one of a number of extreme sport activities that enough people (but definitely not most people) enjoy doing that it could also be considered a part of our culture (we love excitement!).
    As a society or community we have attitudes towards those things which make up our culture. Our attitudes somewhat explain why those things comprise part of our culture. If they are a part of our culture it is because at some level more of us tolerate them, condone them, or encourage them than condemn them. To the extent that in certain parts of our culture rape is tolerated, is condoned, and is even encouraged, we have to say that we have made a place for rape in our culture. Rape culture, then, refers to the intersection between attitudes that do not condemn rape or sexual aggression, and the ways in which those attitudes are expressed through personal and institutionalized behavior (e.g. victim blaming, sexual objectification, trivializing rape, intimidation, doubting, covering up or not investigating allegations of rape, etc.).

    In our case – and I mean Canada’s case – there is an aspect of our culture (youth culture) that does encourage sexting, sending graphic selfies, and graphic pictures of other people. In the case of Reteah Parsons, the boys who raped her shared pictures of her naked. Despite knowledge of this, the RCMP has yet to lay charges against anyone. Similarly, there were the SMU students chanting “”Y is for your sister […] U is for underage, N is for no consent […] Saint Mary’s boys we like them young.”

    The fact that there has been much outrage over these incidents does not alter the fact that there is an element of our culture, of our society that actually believes that sharing those pictures and chanting that chant were alright things to do. It is that part of our culture which the term rape culture refers to. The term does not refer to all other aspects of our culture.

  57. abear says

    Gyatso wrote:

    The fact that there has been much outrage over these incidents does not alter the fact that there is an element of our culture, of our society that actually believes that sharing those pictures and chanting that chant were alright things to do. It is that part of our culture which the term rape culture refers to. The term does not refer to all other aspects of our culture.

    I see that as a behavior that a minority of people would condone or engage in. Using subculture I think would be more accurate usage at least for most western countries.
    A culture where rape is generally condoned and not sanctioned by authorities could be more accurately called a rape culture.
    If it’s used to describe pretty much every human society that ever existed in my opinion it makes the term weaker if not useless.

  58. JT says

    Huh. I wasn’t aware that I didn’t exist.(Jacob)

    Then I guess it doesnt matter if you werent aware of it?

  59. JT says

    To the extent that in certain parts of our culture rape is tolerated, is condoned, and is even encouraged, we have to say that we have made a place for rape in our culture. (Gyatso)

    Like the same place that murder is tolerated? I guess that culture would be the Mafia, right? Or would it be the culture that just includes violent sociopathic individuals. Where oh where is rape, tolerated, condoned and encouraged in modern every day life??????

  60. johngreg says

    I know this is probably TL;DR, but here goes….

    Ally said (http://freethoughtblogs.com/hetpat/2013/10/26/college-rape-and-the-importance-of-measuring-success/#comment-13609):

    You’re picking a fight with the wrong person.

    Well, to be fair, I’m not actually picking a fight. Sorry if it appears that I am.

    As I say in the OP, the term “rape culture” is not one I choose to use, because the reality (in sociological terms) is more complex than the phrase conveys, at least in part because of some of the issues you are raising here.

    Yes, I agree with that, which is why I criticized your brief and simplified definition of the phrase. A brief and simplistic definition that, in my view, only adds fuel to the fire.

    However I think if people are going to criticise feminists for campaigning against rape culture, they should at least make a token effort to engage with what feminists are actually saying, not a simplistic caricature of what the are saying.

    That’s a good point, but the primary problem is that it seems to be impossible to do so because there appears to be no consistency in what feminists appear to mean when they use the phrase “rape culture”, and, in my view, it is many of the somewhat more extremist feminists themselves, especially people like Amanda Marcotte, for example, who are in fact trivializing and caricaturizing the phrase to the point of near meaninglessness.

    Our culture accepts, and in many ways encourages widespread views that say a woman should be held partly responsible for being raped if she has been drinking too much, or flirting, or “dressing like a slut” etc etc etc, and those views are indeed part of an ambient cultural mood that (to an extent) enables rape – meaning that they make it easier for someone to decide to rape a person and make it more likely that a rapist will avoid justice.

    That is such a nasty kettle of worms. And I would argue that very few people, certainly very few people in the cultures I am familair with, and that I read of online, are actually saying/doing those things. I think you are sort of slipping into moral panic territory, and implying that the words/actions of a very small group of socially dysfunctional people actually represent the greater majority of people.

    And I don’t buy it.

    In my opinion, you are doing what many of the more angry feminists do, which is to misrepresent what calmer heads are saying: you are taking the concept of expecting people to take some responsibility for their actions and turning it on its head to reshape it as wholly victim blaming.

    Let’s try to pick it apart a bit.

    … a woman should be held partly responsible for being raped if she has been drinking too much.

    That is not what is being said. What people are saying is that everyone, male and female should accept the responsibility for taking care to drink responsibley, and if they willfully do otherwise, they should then accept responsibility for their actions in getting too drunk to behave responsibly, and accept that they, to some degree, increase the chances of bad shit happening, whether that means getting raped, robbed, beaten up, or lost, or whatever.

    That is most specifically not victim blaming. It is a simple concept that adults should behave like adults; accept some adult responsibility for their adult actions, and not knowingly put themselves in the potential of jeopardy where it is at all avoidable.

    In a way, your claim assumes a sort of all men are potential rapists meme, in that it tacitly encourages, or allows, women to get blisteringly drunk, and then blame someone else for whatever may happen to them due, in part, to their dysfunctional mental state and whatever may happen to them, be it benign, or something worse. Meaning: blame it all on patriarchy. Floosh!

    It is, in my view, not functionally very different from the Islamic concept of burkas, etc., which is that women should be covered up to prevent men from being sexually aroused. Except in this case it is women should not be held responsibile for getting blisteringly drunk or for their actions when blisteringly drunk because men are all potential rapists anyway and women allowing themselves to act irresponsibley is the fault of patriarchy, not in any way, shape, or form, or to any degree whatsoever, of the women’s personal choices.

    Every time someone uses a phrase like “well what did she expect would happen?” in response to a rape, he or she is demonstrating a tolerance of a certain level of rape in society. When such things are conveyed as official messages, from police, politicians or whoever, then it is reasonable to say they are institutionalised into our society and culture.

    My emphasis.

    Yes, that may be somewhat true (though, I think you should change the word tolerance, for reluctant and resigned acceptance), but the point here is that very, very few people are actually saying/doing any of that.

    Most people, it seems to me, are saying that if someone, male or female, gets blisteringly drunk, for example, they should have the intelligence, insight, and foresight to acknowledge, beforehand or afterhand, that such behaviour leaves them more prone to being the victim of someone else’s bad behaviour because such a state of mental dysfunction, as in being blisteringly drunk, does not induce, promote, or allow for rational, thoughtful, intelligent, socially aware behaviour, and does, in the real world of lots of nasty people, leave one open to being a victim of some sociopath’s sociopathology … so to speak.

    That is most specifically not to say that whatever bad may happen to a drunken individual they are wholly responsible for it; it is to say that they carry some responsibility for putting themselves in the path of potential jeopardy.

    And yes, it would be lovely if the world did not allow for such ugliness to exist, but it does exist and so we all must be aware of and responsible for behaviour that does or does not open us up to such jeopardy.

    I don’t think the phrase ‘rape culture’ conveys that meaning very well, but there is a lot of truth in the processes described.

    It is a ridiculous and highly emotive phrase that is being grossly misused, trivialized, and rendered increasingly meaningless by vast numbers of angry feminists.

  61. johngreg says

    Ally said (http://freethoughtblogs.com/hetpat/2013/10/26/college-rape-and-the-importance-of-measuring-success/#comment-13658):

    It’s about framing and understanding rape and sexual assault as things that just happen as opposed to crimes that are committed…. And sadly I think that is one (small) example of what we’re talking about here.

    And I think that entire comment is moral panic territory and obfuscating pedantry.

    I would argue that it is explicitly understood, and hence not required to be specified, that something is done BY people TO other people.

    You’re demanding that people repeatedly specify that you get wet in the rain because the rain is wet.

  62. He's Spartacus says

    Ally

    Even the way you have worded that sentence, the very syntax of it, is telling.Where is the agent noun?”

    But just as importantly, you could have written “drinking yourself blind and stupid usually leads to unwanted consequences. Unfortunately one of them is that someone might assault you.

    No it isn’t telling Ally, and pretending that you can work out someone’s intention from their sentence structure is a cheap trick that ought to have been beneath you. As your own rewriting of the sentence shows, if you try to introduce an agent noun you end up with a rather vague “someone”. You aren’t telepathic and, for all you know Paul just thought that the sentence worked better with an abstract noun as the subject rather than an indeterminate “someone”.

  63. karmakin says

    @Jacob 57: Well, I already said that my problem with it is that I don’t think it’s effective. If I thought it was effective I would support it but I don’t so I don’t.

    At best, there’s a lost opportunity cost. As I said, I think the largest part of the problem is the binge drinking, and that should be targeted directly. There’s no cleaning up this sub-culture…the problem is the intoxication in and of itself. The effects that alcohol has on people..the blurry thinking, the bravado, and so on, these are all things that make perceiving consent basically impossible.

    At worst? That it risks a backlash of sorts and entrenches rape as a masculine thing to do. You do it to “be a man”.

  64. mildlymagnificent says

    @Lucy: the issue there is that you probably don’t actually know a wide and representative sample of women. On average people actually ‘know’ approximately 100 other people if I recall correctly, well 100 is not actually a huge number and they’re not picked randomly. To contrast, I know two women that have been raped, I think I’m somewhat under average in that but if I were to go by my personal experiences I’d think about 1 in 25 women had been raped.

    You don’t need to be bosom buddies to have people tell you stuff or to hear things from others who know them better than you do.

    As for the likely numbers of acquaintances – my 4 grandparents had 21 siblings between them. 4 generations later there are well over a hundred cousins of varying degrees, many of whom I’ll admit I don’t know, but certainly more than 50. I’ve worked in workplaces of over 2000, attended a church of over a thousand members, been a member of school councils and various clubs and organisations – as well as having a few hundred clients of our business. And that doesn’t count friends and neighbours – and what I hear from them about their friends and relatives whom I may never have spoken to directly but have seen at functions or on the footpath.

    My experience isn’t the same as Lucy’s. I’d estimate the numbers among my friends, relatives, workmates and acquaintances as more than 25% but well short of 50%. Of course, it’s entirely possible that the near universal experiences of groping and grabbing on the street or on public transport or at work might have distorted some women’s perceptions of having been specifically assaulted, but most of us really can tell the difference.

  65. Sasori says

    This is interesting, I am going to wildly guess that one of the reasons the ‘highball’ number is emphasised might be something similar to what I remember Oxfam and other campaigning organisations do. I remember Oxfam got into trouble for exaggerating the severity of various famines in Africa a while ago ([I’m not sure I fully believe this link] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/1451931/Charities-exaggerated-Africa-famine.html).
    Perhaps, if there was a different narrative and people talked more about how things are getting much better, they think they would loose peoples attention, sympathy (and perhaps funding); and who (in left/liberal circles) is going to debate them on this.
    I think another concentrated narrative is a similar motivator in right wing media for the prison system, but the emphasis is on fear of crime etc, as crime has gone down over the years, fear of crime has gone up, in part because the way this is framed.

    The concept of rape culture is so nebulous that the lady in the article above may be responding to a different version of it, I’ve heard it mentioned lots of times that it has to do with masculinity (for instance). When you google the term this article is one the first results (http://www.thenation.com/article/172643/ten-things-end-rape-culture#)
    and it features the #1 way to end rape culture
    “1. Name the real problems: Violent masculinity and victim-blaming. These are the cornerstones of rape culture and they go hand in hand.”

    Also I am not sure if, “huge progress in recognising…sexual autonomy, educating men and women about sexual consent, and challenging and reducing rape culture,” has been so decisive. There no evidence that the decline in the rate of rape has had any extra or specific motivators than the overall decline in violent crime; in fact, that it seems they’ve declined at a similar rate in a similar timeframe would be evidence that this kind of thing hasn’t had that much of an impact, imho It’s probably had an impact on how non rapists have sex though. I do think that improved police responses and the recent changes in legal instruction have made a difference to how victims are treated as well as attrition and conviction rates; but even before this, when compared to GBH the attrition and conviction rates were not wildly different, I think that rape has a slightly better conviction rate but a slightly worse attrition rate than GBH now.

  66. thetalkingstove says

    johngreg

    On a related note, it strikes me that one of the current problems is reflected in some of the blogs here at FTB (and Skepchick and A+), wherein both blog hosts and blog commentors are actually encouraging women to not report rape to the police, because, they claim, “nothing ever gets done”. That is toxic idiocy, and is, in my opinion, a highly dangerous, deeply flawed and false claim, and dangerously bad advice.

    You’re not presenting this correctly or fairly. Women are absolutely not being told not to report. Can you find any examples of someone saying ‘hey ladies, don’t report’?

    Women are reporting their experiences of what happens when they do report. Again, they are not doing this to discourage other women.

    They are doing this because very often, when a woman says she has been threatened, sexually assaulted or raped, the cry from a certain kind of person is “oh really? why didn’t you report it, then?”, with the inference being that if you don’t report, a) it probably didn’t happen, b) if it did happen, then without a formal complaint you have no justification for being aggrieved, and c) that you’re a bad person because you’re not helping bring a rapist to justice.

    The writing which you are branding as idiocy is explaining why women don’t always report, and why it is unfair to demand that they do.

    This is not toxic. What is toxic is the culture which has a default that very often treats people who report rape as if they were liars, with no justification. A culture which fails to punish rapists in a way that it does not for other crimes. Let’s call this culture…hmm…I can’t think…

  67. John Austin says

    Interesting post Mr.F.

    You raise the question about why certain feminists hang onto outdated figures, discuss a US article that raises the issue and the Jezebel response, but you don’t I think really express an opinion why you think this is.
    I’d say it is because of two reasons. The fact that many second wave academic feminist works have become almost like Holy Writ that cannot be argued with and second because few are asking whether the figures have changed when so many other women are saying they haven’t. It’s almost like a cult – if the facts challenge a core belief, well, the “facts” must be wrong and you are a heretic for even suggesting the beliefs must be altered.

  68. Ally Fogg says

    Here’s a good blog on the question of telling women not to drink, by a professional sex educator and rape prevention worker, which explicitly dodges the political and ideological issues and simply asks what works.

    The tl;dr version is that the main reason she doesn’t advocating teaching women not to drink is that it simply doesn’t work as a strategy. She recommends concentrating efforts on bystander interventions instead.

    My instincts suggest this is probably pretty good advice.

  69. Ally Fogg says

    John Austin (71)

    but you don’t I think really express an opinion why you think this is.

    The exact same applies across all political belief systems. People grab at evidence which supports their prejudices and pre-existing beliefs, and dismiss or ignore that which does not. Just refer back to the previous thread on J4MB and A Voice for Men to witness how the exact same thing (arguabaly much worse) happens at the other side of the spectrum.

    The other thing which comes up in all contexts is that campaigners, writers, journalists politicians etc etc tend not to research topics from scratch, they just accept what other people tell them is true and then repeat it endlessly, often slightly exaggerating the claim or removing a few nuances or caveats with every repetition.

    To take a gender neutral example, if someone is fighting a campaign against drink-driving and they find two different statistics – one saying “someone who regularly drinks and drives has a one in four chance of causing a potentially fatal accident” and another statistic saying “one in every seventy accidents is caused by a drink driver” – they are not going to ask themselves “which of these statistics is more true?” they are going to ask themselves “which of these statistics is more persuasive and dramatic?”

  70. says

    As someone who have tried to get people on a packed train contact the conductor and tell him to call an ambulance at the next train stop while preparing to do CPR on the unconscious gentleman sitting next to me I have encountered the bystander effect. Not one soul in the train made any move to get the conductor. They all seemed content to stand and wathc the gentleman die rather than do something. Finally I clued in and pointed at a random person close by and loudly told him “You, go get the conductor now!”. He went and got the conductor.

    This effect need to be countered in some way for bystander intervention to be effective. We saw in Steubenville that no one intervened and I suspect the bystander effect played no small part in that. I think the training need to be aware of the bystander effect and counter it in specific ways to be effective.

    I was also reminded if this ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-57-i1S95Kk ) as an example of another factor influencing how and if bystander’s intervene.

  71. johngreg says

    thetalkingstove said (http://freethoughtblogs.com/hetpat/2013/10/26/college-rape-and-the-importance-of-measuring-success/#comment-13718):

    You’re not presenting this correctly or fairly. Women are absolutely not being told not to report. Can you find any examples of someone saying ‘hey ladies, don’t report’?

    HAHAHA. You are quite completely wrong about that, and I most certainly can provide you with some proof: Go here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/brutereason/2013/10/06/stop-telling-harassment-and-assault-survivors-to-go-to-the-police/

    And Miri, host of the FTB blog, Brute Reason, is by no means the only “angry feminist” to be stating such toxic garbage. Spend some time on the Skepchick blog, and several other FTB blogs, and you will, if you are intellectually honest, find the truth in my claim.

  72. Gjenganger says

    @Ally Fogg 72
    Might be better to stick to ‘what works’ then,and leave the political oputrage alone. “Women should do nothing to avoid rape; it is all the men’s fault so they should take care of it” is pretty provocative. “Sorry, but it does not actually work” is much more convincing.

  73. Gjenganger says

    @Ally Fogg, Karmakin
    I think Karmakin has the better of this one. When we are looking on this as a society, it is a question, of trade-offs, costs and benefits, which actions are worth while and which are not. Geting the right decisoins pretty much requires us to look dispassionately at the facts. To keep concentrating on the fact that rape is SOMEONES FAULT, to insist on active voices and active prerpetrators throughout our prose, is a way of making sure we remain personal and outraged. That actually distracts from proper policy-making.

    The best discussoin of security I know is by Bruce Schneier. He discusses even major terrorist acts in exactly these dispassionate terms. If we insisted that we had to go on about ‘EVIL TERRORISTS’ every time we wanted to discuss airplane security or communications intelligence, it would surely make our policies worse instead of better.

  74. Gjenganger says

    @Jacob Schmidt 57
    You think most rapes by men are deliberate? You may well be right. But if that is the case, surely we should stop spending resources (and hassle decent and well-meaning men) on how to judge consent. Why bother, if the vast majority of rapes are done by men who could not care less about consent in the first place?

  75. karmakin says

    @Ally 72: I’m not advocating that women don’t drink however. That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that the entire culture of binge drinking needs to be pushed back against. A few drinks over a night is fine. But drinking to get plastered hammered drunk? That needs to be frowned upon, man or woman.

    Even if I assume (which I don’t) that only men rape, if you’re serious about fixing this you can’t just say, well it’s just the men or just the women that need to not get drunk. That doesn’t work. It needs to be a culture-wide fix. The behavior as whole is the problem, not combined with the identity. That just sets off people’s alarms for basic unfairness and it’ll never work.

    About bystander intervention..again, the problem is that we can’t have specially trained sober people observing everything. Things are going to fall through the cracks. They’re going to have, more than likely their own biases and all that. If you think that the only acceptable number is zero..then again, defending binge drinking as is done in that linked article is part of the problem…rape culture as you put it.

  76. Jacob Schmidt says

    You may well be right. But if that is the case, surely we should stop spending resources (and hassle decent and well-meaning men) on how to judge consent. Why bother, if the vast majority of rapes are done by men who could not care less about consent in the first place?

    Because it’s demonstrably effective. Fighting the idea that consent is optional would be a good place to start when we have a substantial portion of the population who seem to think it isn’t.

    Honestly. We teach children to not be violent. We teach them to not steal. We teach them to not lie. We teach them all kinds of moral rules. We attack fucked up ideas on race. We attack fucked up ideas on gender. We attack fucked up ideas on class. But the moment someone suggests teaching people that consent is important, people complain, as if teaching morals had never been done before.

    then again, defending binge drinking as is done in that linked article is part of the problem

    Oh lord. No one is defending binge drinking. What was noted was that attacking binge drinking is not an effective way of addressing sexual assault.

  77. Gjenganger says

    @Jacob Schmidt 80

    Because it’s demonstrably effective. Fighting the idea that consent is optional would be a good place to start

    You could be right, and I have no particular problems with that campaign (though it would take more than a newspaper quoting a police chief to serve as proof that it worked). Teaching the game rules is fine – always assuming that they are sensible rules – but it can only work on people who actually care about the rules. If you think that most rapes are deliberate, i.e. done by men who know they have no consent, know it is wrong, and could not care less, it is inconsistent to argue for morals teaching.

  78. thetalkingstove says

    HAHAHA. You are quite completely wrong about that, and I most certainly can provide you with some proof: Go here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/brutereason/2013/10/06/stop-telling-harassment-and-assault-survivors-to-go-to-the-police/

    Perhaps you could stop laughing to yourself long enough to read your own ‘proof’, and see how Miri’s article does not say ‘women, don’t report’

    It does exactly what I explain in my previous post – it talks about why women do not report and it is addressed to people who demand that they do. It is not addressed to victims.

    The article is titled ‘stop telling harassment and assault survivors to go the police’ and it explains why this is not a fair thing to do.

    It’s not titled ‘women, don’t bother reporting, it’s pointless’, which is what you are complaining that women are writing.

  79. Jacob Schmidt says

    If you think that most rapes are deliberate, i.e. done by men who know they have no consent, know it is wrong, and could not care less, it is inconsistent to argue for morals teaching.

    What I’ve bolded is purely an invention of your own. Indeed, given the attitudes I’ve seen defending sexual assault, it seems to me that many perpetrators are convinced that their actions are acceptable. They do care about right and wrong; most people do.

    You seem to be stuck with the Saturday morning cartoon idea of evil, where villains know and revel in their villainy.

  80. karmakin says

    And I think it’s pretty clear that if it was a successful attack on binge drinking it would have a much more drastic impact on sexual assault than anything else we could possibly ever do. This may be tough to do. But the reason it’s tough to do IMO is because of people like you dragging your heels on it.

    As I’ve noted..it’s not that people think that consent is optional. Quite frankly, when that’s the case then NO amount of education in terms of what entails consent is going to change that. We’re talking people as predators. It’s their intent to do harm to others, they more than likely enjoy that for its own sake. They’re monsters, basically. Unfortunately, the only way to stop this preemptively…again we’re running on the metric that only the number zero is acceptable…is to take away the potential targets. We can (and should) put them behind bars. But that doesn’t make the number zero.

    But what we’re talking about here is something else. It’s that drunk people are horrible at determining when consent is given. (And in reality this probably goes for both parties, making it even tougher). And yes, maybe education can cause enough self-doubt to prevent some bad situations (but again they really should be gender neutral), but I do have very strong concerns about long-term potential backlash.

    In the end however, I do think that if the goal is to get the number as low as possible…eventually the problem of binge drinking is going to have to be tackled. You can only put it off for so long.

  81. Gjenganger says

    @Jacob Schmidt 84
    Well, if I did not understand you properly, what do you mean by

    most rapes by men are deliberate

  82. Gjenganger says

    @Karmakin 85

    it’s pretty clear that if it was a successful attack on binge drinking it would have a much more drastic impact on sexual assault than anything else we could possibly ever do

    I agree, but my conclusions are different. I wouild say that people are so tied to alcohol as a social/sexual facilitator that they are not willing to give it up, even to reduce sexual assault. It is an example of a trade-off. Most people prefer drinking and a higher risk to sobriety and a lower risk. At least as long as it is their own drinking they are talking about, and not somebody else’s.

  83. Jacob Schmidt says

    Gjenganger,

    That it’s not simply a case of mistaking consent, as Karmakin wrote. Whether or not the perpetrators know their actions are wrong is a separate issue.

    Karmakin

    And I think it’s pretty clear that if it was a successful attack on binge drinking it would have a much more drastic impact on sexual assault than anything else we could possibly ever do. This may be tough to do. But the reason it’s tough to do IMO is because of people like you dragging your heels on it.

    I could say the same about educating people about consent. The difference is that the “don’t drink if you don’t want to be raped” message is fucking everywhere. Attacking cultural ideas surrounding consent is rather novel in comparison.

    Quite frankly, when that’s the case then NO amount of education in terms of what entails consent is going to change that.

    Never, in the history of anything, has one changed their mind. It just doesn’t happen. /sarcasm

    And yes, maybe education can cause enough self-doubt to prevent some bad situations[1] (but again they really should be gender neutral[2]), but I do have very strong concerns about long-term potential backlash[3].

    1) Even accepting your opinion on the effectiveness of attacking binge drinking (which, as you might notice, I really don’t), people are going to binge drink. We’ve been attacking alcohol consumption for decades; it was even illegal for a while. It hasn’t stopped yet. No matter how we address alcohol, consent needs to be addressed

    2) Yes. That’s my biggest problem with things like “don’t be that guy.”

    3) Frankly, this strikes me as concern trolling. It reminds me of all the times I’ve seen things like “You [minorities] are just so strident; you’re just encouraging those [bigots]. Why don’t you quite down a little.”

  84. karmakin says

    @Gjenganger: You’re not wrong. It’s just in my nature to take people at their word (a bit too much actually). So when people say that the only acceptable amount is zero, the question then becomes what’s the best way to get there…or at least as close to it as possible?

    But you’re right, it’s a trade-off that’s not acceptable to quite a few people. Once we’ve accepted that at some level it’s OK to judge these trade-offs on a utilitarian frame, then the discussion should be open in those utilitarian terms broadly. The moralistic frame (we should always go to the side of stopping sexual assault) is no longer a thing.

    I actually tend to be a utilitarian myself…as I don’t think that what’s good in the short-term always equals what is good in the long-term…but the point is that it’s often that the people claiming to have a moralistic frame actually don’t.

  85. Jacob Schmidt says

    Gjenganger

    I’ll add that, when surveying men to ask if they’ve ever attempted rape, you get a very weak response. However, if you ask something like, “Have you ever had sexual intercourse with someone, even though they did not want to, because they were too intoxicated (on alcohol or drugs) to resist your sexual advances (e.g., removing their clothes)?” the response jumps much higher. So as much as these men are deliberately ignoring consent, they do not consider themselves rapists.

    Not coincidentally, campaigns on encouraging the need for consent stress that such is, in fact, rape.

  86. mildlymagnificent says

    Let’s not forget the other aspect of being a few drinks in – false courage to say what you might normally keep to yourself.

    Firstly, people will discuss more freely posters or other public information about seeking and gaining sexual consent when the pressure is off. More importantly, someone in a group where everyone’s a bit tipsy might well be emboldened to say out loud that one of the group is now behaving inappropriately, or did so last week/ last night, or should shut up about whatsisname who does that sort of thing. But without the education about what to look out for in consent-avoiding manipulation (or someone bragging / joking about “success” in doing that) they’d not so easily come by the idea or the words to express it.

  87. Gjenganger says

    @Jacob Schmidt 88

    the “don’t drink if you don’t want to be raped” message is fucking everywhere.

    That is not the message we should be sending. The right message is: “No one should have sex while over the limit. It is risky and dangerous, it promotes sexual assault, and even if you (think you) can handle it, the rules have to be the same for everybody.” Rather like the things people say about clear and explicit consent.

    people are going to binge drink. We’ve been attacking alcohol consumption for decades; it was even illegal for a while. It hasn’t stopped yet.

    Again, people are going to have sex without agreeing the details explicitly beforehand. It is not going to stop. The situations really seem pretty simiular to me. One important difference is that a lot of people have a personal preference for both drinking and for explicit agreements. So they think that cutting down on drinking is an intolerable imposition because it applies to them, whereas waiting for clear and explicit agreements is really no trouble at all because it applies to someone else. Trade-offs and agendas.

  88. karmakin says

    @Jacob: No, it’s really not a separate issue. The whole reason why you teach consent and why it might be effective is to have people who internally require consent understand that consent isn’t given when they otherwise would think it is. That’s when the education works. For people who don’t care about consent at all. It doesn’t work. That’s the point.

    The question..and it’s a legitimate question..is if most incidents are caused by A. People not caring if the other person consents and B. People not understanding correctly if the other person consents. If you believe the first, then yes, you are taking that “Saturday Morning Cartoon” stance that you talked about. And this is what you said, or at least are what you’re implying.

    Honestly I don’t really know if A or B is more prevalent. But I’m assuming B, from my experience. However, I live in Canada so maybe in the US A is more prevalent. I don’t know. (That leads us to the question of why?). But in the end, I’m largely talking about B. I’m actually not talking about victims not drinking..as I said. I’m talking about attackers not drinking, both men and women. Everybody who is drunk is a potential attacker.

    Now, I’m actually in favor of educating about consent. However, I’m not in a unilateral gendered fashion, and not in a way focused on identity and not behavior. I support the notion of bidirectional enthusiastic consent. What does this mean? It means that the active party has a responsibility to look for enthusiastic consent and that the passive party has a responsibility to make their consent or non-consent clear.

    But even in this being intoxicated makes it much more difficult.

    I think there are places we can easily start to push back against binge drinking, and push back against the idea in people’s minds that it’s necessary for a good time. Where I’d start is encouraging conventions to have limited drinking nighttime social activities.

    And I’m not concern trolling. What I’m hinting at…ah I’ll be blunt. I have Social Anxiety Disorder. I’m fighting it relatively successfully (yay) but it’s still something I struggle with. What I see in a lot of the existing rhetoric, not only on this issue but on others, is the notion that if only we make well..men…socially anxious enough, we’ll fix the problem. But this isn’t a fun happy thing. And I suspect that in the long run, there will be a backlash against this sort of thing.

    It’s OK to advocate for wide-changing social/cultural change that changes social/cultural norms in a more positive manner. But it’s destructive, IMO, to advocate for targeted personal change among a certain class of individuals without changing in any way, shape, or form the structure that individual must exist within.

  89. He's Spartacus says

    Jacob Schmidt

    Because it’s demonstrably effective.

    It’s only “demonstrably effective” if you ignore the distinction between correlation and causation, and quite a few other distinctions as well. The newspaper article to which you linked “demonstrates” the effectiveness of the campaign as follows:

    The poster is one of three that went up at bars and around the city last summer as part of a campaign to chip away at the increasing rate of sexual assaults in recent years in Vancouver.

    Six months later, Deputy Chief Doug LePard says the Don’t Be That Guy campaign has contributed to a turnaround in statistics on sexual offences in Vancouver.

    The rate dropped in 2011 by about 10 per cent, the first time in several years it had gone down.

    You have to be very easily convinced to think that this “demonstrates” the effectiveness of the policy. There are at least four points that anyone alert to the way statistics are used would notice:

    (a) The article does not tell us *which* statistics it is that have gone down. It is likely that the statistics refer to offences reported to the police. Feminists correctly point out that most offences are not reported to the police and a drop in the rate of reporting may be a result of victms being less likely to report offences, rather than fewer offences happening.

    (b) The article does not tell us the period within which the offences were committed. The only information about timescale we are given is that the Deputy Chief is supposed to have been making his statement six months after the posters went up. Now crimes cannot be reported to police until after they have been committed, and statistics on crimes cannot be compiled until after they are reported. If the Deputy Chief is reporting statistics only six months after the poster campaign began, then it is likely that at least some of the crimes being counted were committed before the poster campaign began. Furthermore if you have only allowed six months to elapse then you have to take into account the fact that incidence of rape, like other crimes, tends to be quite seasonal. In the UK far fewer such crimes get reported in winter than in summer, I would guess that a similar pattern could be observed in Canada.

    (c) The article expresses the drop in incidence as a percentage, without giving the actual number of rapes that occurred in any given year. Anyone numerate should prick up their ears when people quote statistics this way, because without raw numbers you cannot assess the extent to which figures might fluctuate purely by chance. Vancouver is not a particularly big city. It’s population is around 500,000 and, if the incidence of reported rape per capita was the same as the UK, there would be around 130 rapes reported in any given year. So the decrease in incidence of 10% is likely to mean that around 13 fewer rapes were reported in the accounting period ending 2011, as compared with the previous accounting period. A significant amount of that is likely to be just chance variation.

    (d) Even if the decrease could not be attributed to chance, that doesn’t mean it can be attributed to the “Don’t be that guy” campaign, because all sorts of other things would influence the rates observed. As Ally has pointed out himself, violent crime is decreasing throughout the developed world. The newspaper article suggests that sexual crime in Vancouver has been bucking that trend for a few years, but no trend gets bucked forever, and maybe Vancouver was going to fall into line with the global trend anyway. Furthermore there are other local factors at work. The “Don’t be that guy” campaign isn’t the only thing happening in the world, and it isn’t the only thing happening in Vancouver either. The article that you linked to gives several examples of factors that could influence the rate of reported rate.

    People with their hearts in the right place are understandably keen to believe in the effectiveness of the “Don’t Be That Guy” campaign, and police are, I suspect, keen to believe in the effectiveness of any campaign that they have initiated. That doesn’t mean we can just switch our critical thinking faculties off.

  90. Jacob Schmidt says

    No, it’s really not a separate issue.

    I’ll respond to the rest later. My point was that statistics showing that most rapes are deliberate do not show that most rapists are aware that their actions are wrong. They are separate in so far as both are variables; the existence of one (deliberate rape) does not indicate the existence of the other (understanding that ignoring consent is wrong).

  91. mildlymagnificent says

    A significant amount of that is likely to be just chance variation. …

    … police are, I suspect, keen to believe in the effectiveness of any campaign that they have initiated.

    Remember there are two parts to the police statement on the statistics. One is that there’s been a 10% reduction. The other is that this is the first time in several years that there’s been any reduction at all.

    It’s entirely possible that the first reduction in reports for several years has occurred by chance and chance alone – after introducing a program intended to reduce incidence of the offence. But if I were the Chief of Police I’d take every bit of good news I could get. We’ll know soon enough because they’re extending the program with additional posters.

  92. says

    What I see in a lot of the existing rhetoric, not only on this issue but on others, is the notion that if only we make well..men…socially anxious enough, we’ll fix the problem.

    You think that making men–people, of course, but especially men–wait for a “YES YES FUCK ME DAMMIT TAKE OFF YOUR PANTS” rather than a vaguely affirmative loll of the head entails some measure of social anxiety? I would have thought that more explicit talk around consent would lead to a reduction in social anxiety.

  93. Copyleft says

    Equality, as a concept, has already won. Feminism–to the degree that it has strayed from focusing solely on equality–has become irrelevant to the point of comedy.

  94. Gjenganger says

    @SallyStrange 97
    One part of the ‘enthusiastic consent’ message is that you are not allowed to impose, because it can lead to nasty pressure, ultimately to rape. Another is that you cannot count on the woman saying no, so it is basically up to the man to be quite, quite, sure that the woman really is enthusiastic enough. So, if you are actively trying to get to some sex, and to figure out when you are allowed to try what, you are going to be really anxious. The stakes are high, and if you get it wrong you are a rapist. There is a way to avoid anxiety, of course. Resign and be passive. Do not take initiatives, do not look for the moment to move ahead, sit in a corner, drink your beer, and wait for some lass to step up and do the YES, FUCK ME DAMMIT bit. How often will that happen, though? You had better cultivate your taste for beer.

  95. He's Spartacus says

    mildlymagnificent

    We’ll know soon enough because they’re extending the program with additional posters.

    We won’t, because we will have no idea whether any reduction is actually the result of the posters, or of the global reduction in violence, or some local factor unrelated to the posters. Furthermore Vancouver is such a small place that you would need quite a big percentage change for the difference to even be statistically significant.

    The only way we could be really sure about the matter is to adopt the kind of approach that Ben Goldacre has been urging for several years. Social interventions of unknown effectiveness should be randomised. The way to do this in the case of campaigns like “Don’t be that guy” would be to pick a sufficiently large set of regions in which such a campaign could be launched, and then randomly pick half of them to actually run the campaign in. The other half could either have no campaign or a campaign based on some other philosophy (my own suggestion would be something similar to the “Personal Consquences” campaign for drink driving which gets potential offenders to think about how much they would enjoy spending some time in jail).

  96. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    Gjenganger #99,

    So, if you are actively trying to get to some sex*, and to figure out when you are allowed to try what, you are going to be really anxious.

    If figuring out if someone actually consents to your sexual advances is difficult for you, then it is a good thing that you are really anxious.

    The stakes are high, and if you get it wrong you are a rapist.

    Well yes, if you have sex with someone who does not consent you are a rapist.

    There is a way to avoid anxiety, of course. Resign and be passive. Do not take initiatives, do not look for the moment to move ahead, sit in a corner, drink your beer, and wait for some lass to step up and do the YES, FUCK ME DAMMIT bit. How often will that happen, though? You had better cultivate your taste for beer.

    Lol. This is just pathetic on so many levels. I will just randomly list problems with this in no particular order.

    1. I will repeat what I said earlier, if getting consent causes you a lot of anxiety, you should probably reflect on why that is, and embrace it. If you are unsure of your own abilities to practice crystal clear consent (that means an affirmative yes, with no-stress “outs” available at all times), then be thankful for your anxiety, as it is helping you to not rape people. Want to get rid of that anxiety? Practice your communication skills so that you openly discuss consent. Internalizing the concept of enthusiastic consent will help you not have that anxiety anymore.

    2. The only way to avoid anxiety about possibly raping someone is to resign, be passive, and drink beer by yourself in the corner? I can think of another way to avoid anxiety while still being social. Understand what getting and giving consent looks like, and be confident that all of your sexual interactions are consensual.

    3. What is all this shit about “not taking initiative”? Take initiative all you want, just make sure your flirting (or any escalation from flirting) is wanted. Is that too much to ask?

    4. This last sentence, “You had better cultivate your taste for beer.”, is the most pathetic. What a lame attempt at a scare tactic. Don’t listen to those evil feminists who preach the idea of enthusiastic consent. If you think consent is important you will just end up drinking yourself into a sad stupor every night because the idea of COMMUNICATING with a potential sexual partner about THEIR DESIRES, will cause you so much anxiety. *snort*

    5. If “getting sex” is your end-goal, you may have more luck if you show you are the type of guy who actually gives a fuck about your partner’s autonomy (hint, it has to be genuine though, you actually do have to give a fuck about your partner).

    *Also, “get some sex”? It is not a commodity one person gives and the other person “gets”.

  97. says

    Jacob Schmidt,

    . Indeed, given the attitudes I’ve seen defending sexual assault, it seems to me that many perpetrators are convinced that their actions are acceptable. They do care about right and wrong; most people do.

    Psychopaths typically try to find excuses for their behavior – this does not mean repentance, it is mostly manipulative behavior. Other cluster B personality disorders like narzicism and borderline are similar in this regard. This does not mean these people are concerned about ethical norms, in fact they outright ignore them. There is a statistical link between psychopathy and sexual aggression, see for example this:

    http://jiv.sagepub.com/content/12/2/241.short

    If the majority of rapists have high scores on the psychopathy checklist, I strongly suspect trying to alter their behavior by appeals to normative ethics will be useless or will have little effect, the “dont be that guy” campaign being as subset of such methods, meaning that such iterventions will have high opportunity cost for the little gains they bring. (Though I hope other methods might prove successful, but treatment of psychopathy is typically very hard.)

  98. says

    The right message is: “No one should have sex while over the limit. It is risky and dangerous, it promotes sexual assault…

    So now we’re back to blaming the victim again? Oh wait, some of us never got away from that.

    So tell us, Gjenganger, how many glasses of wine or beer can a woman have before she’s “promoting sexual assault?” And by what mechanism is this “promotion” taking place? Does the alcohol in her blood interact with an erototoxin to produce a scent that attracts rapists from a radius of one mile and makes them incapable of recognizing lack of consent?

  99. says

    Another is that you cannot count on the woman saying no

    “No” doesn’t enter into it. That bit you’re referring to is not part of the consent culture that we’re trying to build, but rather part of the old patriarchal gender norms which dictate that women who say “yes” are sluts.

    Either there is “YES” or there is not. Anything besides “YES” is not sufficient.

    And, yes, it does sound like Gjenganger, the individual, should not attempt to “get sex from” anyone (what an offensive way to think about it). Most other people should be fine though.

  100. JT says

    @Bee

    How many drinks before you are incapable of giving consent? Should we get a standard like our drinking and driving laws here in Canada. .08 and anything above and you are raping the person?

  101. says

    If the majority of rapists have high scores on the psychopathy checklist,

    Doubtful. Psychopaths are, what, 1% of the population? But undetected rapists are somewhere between 6% and 12%.

    Like religion, misogyny is a cultural force that encourages otherwise decent people to act like horrible people in certain circumstances.

  102. says

    How many drinks before you are incapable of giving consent?

    Why do you need to know? People who ask questions like this creep me out, for what should be obvious reasons.

  103. Gjenganger says

    @Woo_Monster 101
    Pathetic? Sounds about right. Still, I cannot help that – I have been there. If you are interested (I can see where you might not be) you can check out my post here.

    If figuring out if someone actually consents to your sexual advances is difficult for you, then it is a good thing that you are really anxious

    Actually, my experience suggests the opposite (No, I never got close to raping anyone – just dropped some social clangers). Believe me, going on just anxiety, logic and the literal words you are told works a lot worse than relying on your social antennae, much as you may have reason to distrust the latter. Anxiety and insecurity does not make it easier to manage courtship (or anything else), at most it serves to scare you off the dance floor. Anyway, I do not need help to avoid raping people. I do (or rather did) need a calm-down and some realistic directions. And “Understand what getting and giving consent looks like, and be confident that all of your sexual interactions are consensual” is not it for someone whose main problem is to gain enough understanding and confidence to actually have those sexual interactions on a regular basis.

    *Also, “get some sex”? It is not a commodity one person gives and the other person “gets”.

    I had better explain this slowly, since you are not the only one who has problems understanding it:
    Sex is nice in itself as a physical sensation (and as proof that someone or something cares enough about you to give you the chance). Many people show a generalised interest in, and search for, sex. Generally with people they like, of course, but as a search for a pleasant, or even wildly exciting physical experience. This may be hard to understand for people like you, who does not feel merely physical desires for somebodys body, but who only want sex as a more perfect expression of the deep spiritual union they feel with the soul of some other human being. Nevertheless it is so. And when in the grip of such a merely physical desire, some people will try to establish the chance for just sex, quite likely aiming for a love affair to follow, but without first establishing the minum of deep spiritual communion that less limited people (like yourself) understand is the only thing really worth striving for. ‘Get some sex’ is the kind of words that people use to describe this situation – which, sad as it may be, is actually fairly common.

  104. says

    Sally,

    Doubtful. Psychopaths are, what, 1% of the population? But undetected rapists are somewhere between 6% and 12%.

    I do not think the 1% is correct for males, a number between 2-4% seems more consistent with what I have read but in any case, it is most likely the number for clinical psyhopaths. Having a high score on the check list does not make you a clinical psychopaths, and other cluster B-PD are even more people all of them hard to influence by deontological considerations.

  105. Gjenganger says

    @Sally Strange 104

    And, yes, it does sound like Gjenganger, the individual, should not attempt to “get sex from” anyone

    That is part of the message I get from proponents of ‘enthusiastic consent’, yes. As you will understand, I do not welcome it. But then, I am only me. The interesting question is how many other people should also refrain from sex as part of the grand new sexual morals we are building, and whether there are too many of us to dismiss out of hand.

  106. Gjenganger says

    @Raging 103
    Well, for a start women seem to be committing sexual assault on men too, at a fairly significant rate. That being so, they, too, should maybe stay sober to avoid becoming rapists?

    For the rest, it is quite common to put limits on people’s behaviour to avoid unpleasant events, even if those people are the likely victims. Spectators are actually banned from buiding sites, machine rooms etc. And while it is perfectly legal to walk down an A-road in dark clothes, drunk, in the middle of the night, or step out from behind a van suddenly, without looking, such behaviour is generally discouraged. Is this also victim-blaming?

  107. JT says

    @Sally

    Im sure lots of things creep you out. The reason I asked is because if two individuals are drinking how do you determine who is capable of consent? In other words, one of the individuals can say they were too drunk to agree to sexual relations and charge the other one. BUT doenst that go both ways if you are both drinking? And if youre too drunk give consent doesnt that equally mean your too drunk to acknowledge if someone didnt give consent? Are you guilty of rape if youre drunk and your partner says stop and you dont because you were too drunk to hear it?

  108. Gjenganger says

    @Raging 103
    You did notice that the ‘do not have sex if you are over the limit’ message was to be directed at women and men, right? That was actually the point – not that I think we should try to go this way, but that it would be quite an efrective measure, if we were willing to pay the price.

  109. says

    The reason I asked is because if two individuals are drinking how do you determine who is capable of consent?

    My only answer is ever thus: If you have to ask the question, then don’t. Going ahead with sex in the absence of absolute certainty means you are, at the very least, willing to risk raping someone just to get some of those nice physical sensations Gjenganger was talking about.

    You really don’t need to know anything else. If you really REALLY don’t grok how to tell if someone wants you, DO NOT HAVE SEX.

    @ Gjenganger

    Regardless. “Getting sex from” somebody is horrible regardless of whether you know them or not. A dance is not a commodity, it is a mutually pleasurable activity. It doesn’t matter if you know your dance partner personally or not. The same applies to sex. So, while other people may continue to use that phrasing which implies they still think women are objects that dispense the commodity known as sex, that’s no excuse for YOU to go on using it.

  110. JT says

    My only answer is ever thus: If you have to ask the question, then don’t.(Sally)

    But the odds of asking that question are not very likely if you are impaired. If youre drunk you are not really, really going to know if they want you or not. If you are drinking you are rendering those mental functions null and void. So, again, should everyone abstain from sex as we do with driving when you are going to partake in drinking? Here’s an interesting question for you. Which gender rapist would be more likely to use alcohol to perpetrate their crime?

  111. says

    The interesting question is how many other people should also refrain from sex as part of the grand new sexual morals we are building, and whether there are too many of us to dismiss out of hand.

    If the benefit is fewer rapes, then the cost seems quite worth paying. I’ve had times when I’ve had plenty of sex, and times when I’ve had none. Life goes on. Unlike in the aftermath of a sexual assault.

  112. JT says

    Life goes on. Unlike in the aftermath of a sexual assault.(Sally)

    The mindframe of a victim rather than a survivor.

  113. Copyleft says

    So, anyone who has sex while drunk is a rapist? or are they a victim?

    I guess we can’t answer until we know their gender, now can we…? LOL

  114. Gjenganger says

    @SallyStrange 116

    If the benefit is fewer rapes, then the cost seems quite worth paying

    Maybe. Especially for those who can get the benefits and pass most of the costs on to someone else. Some solid evidence would not hurt either.

  115. johngreg says

    OK, Sally and talkingstove, yes, I understand that the post is framed as advice to potentially well-intenioned others to stop saying “report to the police”. Nonetheless, I said (http://freethoughtblogs.com/hetpat/2013/10/26/college-rape-and-the-importance-of-measuring-success/#comment-13599):

    On a related note, it strikes me that one of the current problems is reflected in some of the blogs here at FTB (and Skepchick and A+), wherein both blog hosts and blog commentors are actually encouraging women to not report rape to the police, because, they claim, “nothing ever gets done”. That is toxic idiocy, and is, in my opinion, a highly dangerous, deeply flawed and false claim, and dangerously bad advice.

    Please, explain to me how the takeaway messsage from the following direct quotes from Miri’s post is not, do not report to the police, and reporting to the police is ineffective and a waste of time. I mean, I understand that many FTB commentors seem to not believe that context is/isn’t everything, and that intent also is/isn’t magic, but please, explain it to me.

    So, let’s talk about when someone gets harassed or assaulted and they make it public (whether to friends and family or, like, public-public) and everybody always comes out with the same line: “Oh my god! You need to go to the police right now!”

    Stop, rewind. Please stop saying this. I know it’s well-intentioned. I know you want us to be safe. Please stop saying it anyway. It does more harm than good. Let’s talk about why.

    If we’re being honest, I haven’t even had time to call my doctor and ask her to rewrite a prescription I need, let alone spend hours having a lovely tête-à-tête with a cop who tells me I was probably asking for it by being a woman and existing.

    So if you tell me to go to the police, you’re sort of (unintentionally) treating me like an idiot. Yes, I know that the police exist. And guess what? A dozen other people already had the same idea you did, so if I didn’t know about the police before, I sure do now.

    … going to the police is not effective. It’s just not. So you’re giving me advice that is not helpful. The stories of what happens to women who report harassment or assault to the police are plentiful and really sad. Yes, sometimes it works out well. But generally, either nothing happens, or the women get revictimized by the police. (Sometimes, the police also do this.)

    At no point have I seriously considered reporting any of these things to the police. I am not an irresponsible or uninformed person, so please trust me when I say that I have good reasons for not even considering the police as an option.

    Stop telling harassment and assault survivors to go to the police. Stop treating us like we don’t know what’s good for us. Stop acting like the police are a panacea to all the world’s evils. Stop making it about you. Stop. It’s our turn to speak.

    Sally said (http://freethoughtblogs.com/hetpat/2013/10/26/college-rape-and-the-importance-of-measuring-success/#comment-13787):

    My only answer is ever thus: If you have to ask the question, then don’t. Going ahead with sex in the absence of absolute certainty means you are, at the very least, willing to risk raping someone just to get some of those nice physical sensations Gjenganger was talking about.

    Nonsense. Utter nonsense. They are so many, virtually uncountable instances wherein sex may be wanted by both parties, but obvious absolute certainty of consent is missing that you are not even wrong.

    I fail to understand how you can exhibit such blatantly ludicrous and simplistic black and white thinking, an utter, total lack of ambiguity and nuance and potetnial grey areas, and still walk in a straight line.

  116. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    john,

    Do you agree that if you do not know that your partner has given consent, they may or may not actually consent? Isn’t that what it means to not be clear on consent?

    SallyStrange,

    Going ahead with sex in the absence of absolute certainty means you are, at the very least, willing to risk raping someone…

    This point is a simple one and seems obviously correct to me. John, please spell out how it is “utter nonsense”.

  117. johngreg says

    Woo said:

    Do you agree that if you do not know that your partner has given consent, they may or may not actually consent?

    Yes.

    But the same could actually be said when someone actually gives consent: people lie to each other for a multitude of reasons. And sex is a minefield of ambiguities for most people.

    But your point is not the message I get from most of the promoters of “Absolute clear consent”. The message I get is that if the specific statement Yes, I want to have sex with you now is not uttered, then there is no unambiguous absolute clear consent. What I get is a sex-negative, very strict set of rather lengthy and foolish restrictions of what consent even is; how, when, where it is given, and who gets to make those decisions.

    For example, do you think long term partners need to have a pre-sex discussion everytime one of the partners is horny? Or would it be more reasonable to say that they need not determine absolute clear consent, because in most healthy relationships, it is, to some degree, in some circumstances, a given. In healthy long-term relationships it is often understood that while one partner may be ravenous, the other may only be slightly peckish, or not even hungry at all, but is nonetheless willing to go along with the evening meal to help ensure the ongoing health of the relationship. And that works for both men with men, women with women, women with men, and everything else in-between

    Please note the critical modifers: most, some degree; some circumstances.

    Isn’t that what it means to not be clear on consent?

    Not always, not under all imaginable scenarios, no.

    As I say, that is not how I read most of what I’ve seen online in support of absolute clear consent. My takeaway message is that the supporters of the concept of absolute consent are arguing for something highly unrealistic, ludicrously formal and structured, never spur-of-the-moment, and something that fails utterly to take into consideration the real-world characteristics of human behaviour and human relationships. The black-and-white thinking of it baffles me.

    And that is what I mean when I say it is nonsense. To demand that there be some kind of specific Q&A prior to every sex act is, in my opinion, and as I read what is being said about it, nonsense.

  118. mildlymagnificent says

    My takeaway message is that the supporters of the concept of absolute consent are arguing for something highly unrealistic, ludicrously formal and structured, never spur-of-the-moment, and something that fails utterly to take into consideration the real-world characteristics of human behaviour and human relationships.

    I think it’s the other way around. Far too many people have a totally unfounded belief that they can ‘read’ other people’s feelings and intentions well enough to act on their own perceptions in the way that many sensitively attuned people in long-term relationships can obviously do. Even if a long-term partner isn’t particularly sensitive, there are recognisable habits and routines and signals in an established relationship which means that they’re unlikely to go wrong unless they’re being obtuse and need to be encouraged or told to back off.

    (Some of these over-optimistic types don’t just misjudge people’s sexual feelings, they can be blind to preference or resistance of any kind. Just think of food and drink and television and books. Some people really don’t get it that others won’t, don’t or can’t appreciate, let alone like, tastes, activities or experiences that the advocate is keen on and they’re often ham-fisted themselves when dismissing or rejecting those other people’s stated preferences. See Aunt Mildred’s infamous curried liver dish, a neighbour’s ghastly home-made beer, a friend’s liking for cheesy films or any examples from people you know yourself.)

    For people who’ve never had a sexual encounter with a particular person, then they’d better be a bit steady as they proceed. Which doesn’t mean much if both parties are wildly keen on it. Which can lead to further encounters. That’s when some people might need to watch themselves. Until you’ve been together for more than a couple of months, you can’t even anticipate how someone will feel when they’re tired after a hard day or week at work, let alone when they’ve had a stressful phone call from a family member or an ex or when they’re feeling a bit unwell. You don’t have to walk on eggshells constantly, but paying a reasonable amount of attention to good and less good moods and any apparent link to more or less enthusiasm in the bedroom is a good idea. And if you really can’t tell, ask.

    This woman makes it pretty clear, whether you’re dealing with a new person or a long-term partner. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5H6QvNmfjY#t=37

  119. Gjenganger says

    @Moldlymagnificient 125

    You don’t have to walk on eggshells constantly, but paying a reasonable amount of attention to good and less good moods and any apparent link to more or less enthusiasm in the bedroom is a good idea. And if you really can’t tell, ask.

    Put like this I actually agree – though I probably apply it rather more widely than you do.

    Far too many people have a totally unfounded belief that they can ‘read’ other people’s feelings and intentions well enough to act on their own perceptions

    True. But by definiton those people do not know it and cannot allow for it. So how can you judge which strategy you should apply, when you do not know if you can trust your own judgement? That leaves us with three alterntive lines of action:
    – Enforce that everybody should negotiate explicit consent every time, even if they are fairly sure they do not need it. That is what JohnGreg finds ludicrous.
    – Have everybody walk on eggshells all the time, to make sure they are vigilant for the time(s) that they get it wrong. That is highly stressful
    – Let everybody stay alert and do their best, and accept that even among people of good will it sometimes goes wrong. That would be my proposal.

  120. mildlymagnificent says

    True. But by definiton those people do not know it and cannot allow for it. So how can you judge which strategy you should apply, when you do not know if you can trust your own judgement? That leaves us with three alterntive lines of action:

    Those three options are pretty well opposite to what I was talking about. The biggest issue is how people handle initial encounters and, if they’re lucky enough, the earlier weeks of a continuing relationship. People who _intend_ to be abusive in a long-term or any other relationship are a different kettle of fish entirely.

    Telling people that they need to get things really straight between themselves and a potential partner isn’t a terrible burden. Let’s face it, pretty often it’s really, really obvious when both people are on the same page. If people don’t know it and cannot allow for it from their own thinking and experience (and have genuinely good intentions), then they need to be taught it explicitly.

    Teaching it to everyone in ordinary school-based sex education would be a good first step. Especially if consent is taught to both boys and girls in the same way and in a way that covers all relationships. I know it’s a big ask for many schools, but teaching it in a way that acknowledges that such considerations apply equally to very brief encounters would be the best way to go. (Just because you don’t see yourself embarking on a long term relationship with someone doesn’t mean that good sexual behaviour is optional.)

    As for “it sometimes goes wrong” – that’s perfectly OK so long as ‘goes wrong’ means missing out on a possible sexual interaction. If that’s because the possible partner doesn’t make it clear that they are, in fact, interested in you then they’re learning something too. We’ve all missed out on opportunities that we later realise were there for us but the world doesn’t end because of our own or someone else’s obliviousness or folly. Sometimes we get another day for another chance with that person, sometimes we don’t.

  121. summerblues says

    I’m with Gjenganger here. This is not clear at all, not translating well. My takeaway is: women are fickle, women are flaky, women dictate the terms, women will toy with you. The only advice I can give men right now is, sincerely and not being a bitch this time, just don’t. It’s not worth the risk.

  122. Adiabat says

    I predict that ‘enthusiastic consent’ will be the successor to the ‘nice guy’ arguments.

    A proportion of guys will listen to feminists, and follow the guidance, only to end up lonely 40 year old virgins who through their entire lives see the girls (who they put off by nagging for a definitive ‘yes’) go home with the guys who don’t practice ‘enthusiastic consent’.

    Then they’ll ask feminists why they are spreading ‘advice’ which has ruined their lives. Then they’ll get called “entitled consenterTM”

    History repeats.

  123. says

    More entitled whinery from Gjenganger:

    And “Understand what getting and giving consent looks like, and be confident that all of your sexual interactions are consensual” is not it for someone whose main problem is to gain enough understanding and confidence to actually have those sexual interactions on a regular basis.

    So what alternative method of courtship would you prefer? I got news for you, pal — there’s no such method that DOESN’T put shy or otherwise-socially-challenged people at a disadvantage. Take it from another shy guy: the old way (whatever that is, you never defined it) didn’t work for us either. Taking away the requirement for clear consent doesn’t help — it only rewards pushiness (and worse), and shy people aren’t really good at pushiness either.

    Seriously, what alternative method of courtship are you holding out for? There’s the kinds that require consent, and the kinds that don’t — there’s no in-between here. And whichever one you pick, shy people will always be at a disadvantage. It’s unfair, and it hurts, but it’s an unavoidable fact of life. Quit bashing women and feminists, stop whining about how hard it is to “get sex” (like it’s a toy you expect to just grab off a shelf at a store), and take a long hard look at the priorities that guide your attempts to interact with women.

    A proportion of guys will listen to feminists, and follow the guidance, only to end up lonely 40 year old virgins…

    Ah yes, another ignorant boy-man pretending to support “men’s rights,” while belittling OTHER MEN for not being “manly” enough. How is that supposed to advance the interests of men or boys? Comments like this further prove that the “men’s rights” movement is a fraud.

  124. Gjenganger says

    @Raging 130
    Still raging, are we? Try following the link in my post 126, if you are interested in an answer.

  125. Adiabat says

    It always makes me laugh at how it’s the one who debates like a 12 year old that keeps telling others to grow up.

    Critics who treat ‘adult’ as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.

    C.S Lewis

  126. Ally Fogg says

    One thing I’ve noticed about the consent debate….

    A lot of what feminists say isn’t popular with other women. So if you read around mainstream debate sites or internet forums on topics like sex work and porn, working mothers, traditional gender roles, gender pay gaps, whatever else, you will see comments by women who are not feminists who are actively disagreeing with what feminists say.

    Something I’ve noticed about consent debates is that opposition to feminist positions only ever seems to come from men. With the possible exception of FeMRAs like GirlWritesWhat, who take an ideological anti-feminist line, I don’t think I can ever remember hearing or seeing anything by a woman saying “Enthusiastic consent? No, what a terrible idea, I don’t want that, I’d rather risk being raped thanks.” Opposition to ideas like enthusiastic consent seems to come exclusively from men.

    And, in a tangentially related point, I find the conflation of consent with pairing off, picking up women, being considered attractive etc – or the idea that if men practice enthusiastic consent they will never succeed in chatting up women – this idea is really, really disturbing.

    I cannot see any point at which the two issues converge EXCEPT in an abusive or coercive scenario.

  127. says

    Gjenganger: nothing in the comment you cite contradicts the idea of clear/enthusiastic consent. When you say “You should believe, in good faith, that your bedmate actually does consent,” what would such a “good faith” belief be based on, if not a clear reading of your date’s signals?

    If you’re going to bash the idea of requiring clear/enthusiastic consent, then you need to come up with a better alternative. You’ve offered us no alternative at all.

    BTW, as to your demand that your date “avoid deliberately broadcasting desires you do not have,” I’d just like to point out that what you see as “false signals” may actually reflect a change of mind — a woman might start a date with a real desire to spend time with you, but then change her mind and realize you’re not the one for her. There’s nothing “false” about that, and accusing her of “false signals” is just another way of denying her a choice and demonizing her for standing up for herself. That’s something RAPISTS do, and you sound like a rapist.

  128. says

    I am not saying that it is the the responsibility of the victim not to be taken advantage of, just that both people need to pitch in to try to get the right result.

    So who, exactly, are you accusing of failing to “pitch in to try to get the right result?” And on what grounds?

  129. karmakin says

    @Ally: The problem is that it’s a very blurry argument that’s using “jell-o words”. What outsiders get from the term “Enthusiastic Consent” is very much different than from what insiders get from it. Which may be wrong, but I’m not one to just blame the listener for this.

    The perception is (and probably the reality) that most women find unassertive men unattractive. Or to put it in a more positive light, there’s a level of being assertive (without being over-assertive) that’s most attractive to most women. Now if this is valid or not I don’t know, but that’s the perception out there. (I suspect that more correct than incorrect).

    The view from a lot of people is that how people define the concept of Enthusiastic Consent (not how I define it), would require from the man a level of unassertiveness that would render him unattractive. So the good people who listen to this sort of thing would be rendered in a negative light compared to someone who doesn’t. That frustration is the breeding ground of misogyny IMO.

    Now, to Raging Bee, there actually IS a solution. Well..maybe. You can put an effort in to socialize women towards lowering the level of assertiveness that they find attractive (and where being over-assertive kicks in) This is where I agree with the notion of relationship training for young people (assuming you’re molding everybody and not just boys). This encourages more healthy and straight-forward relationships.

    The question is if this is possible. Can you change what people find attractive? Maybe yes? Maybe no? But I really do think the answer to the question is the answer on how to move forward.

    I actually lean towards no. Which is why I focus on the binge drinking aspect of it all.

  130. says

    Adiabat: That’s the sort of vague self-serving sophistry one would expect from a Christian apologist who glorifies immaturity to avoid criticism of his immature religion. Why do you eapect anyone here to be impressed by it?

  131. Adiabat says

    Ally (133):

    Something I’ve noticed about consent debates is that opposition to feminist positions only ever seems to come from men.

    You won’t get many women on message boards criticising it because there is no associated cost for them. It enables them to ‘play the game’ to have a bit of fun on a night out, yet when they just want to get laid without the rigmarole they can simply choose a guy who doesn’t follow the ‘enthusiastic consent’ rules. It’s no different than the nice guy vs asshole dynamic currently in play.

    And, in a tangentially related point, I find the conflation of consent with pairing off, picking up women, being considered attractive etc – or the idea that if men practice enthusiastic consent they will never succeed in chatting up women – this idea is really, really disturbing.

    You’re reading what you want to read. It’s not consent that men are having a problem with; it’s accepted in the current system that you should get consent. It’s this idea that we’re to wait beyond current socially accepted levels of consent, such as going home with you, inviting you in for coffee (or tea if she is a true brit), and so on. There already exists several behaviours and phrases that are recognised as consent, without having to wait for the poor girl to break social norms and explicitly say it (and risk associated slut shaming etc). These cues work 99% of the time, though I understand why people are concerned with the remaining 1%.

    And I truly believe that men who fail to respond to current culturally designated ‘cues’ to escalate the encounter will put off women, and they will go to men who will respond to such cues. Failure to respond to such things is often taken to mean a lack of experience, and a poor lay that’s not worth bothering with. So those following ‘enthusiastic consent’ will lose out relative to those who don’t.

    I see a lot of Motte and Bailey tactics on this thread. “Enthusiastic consent” is being proposed as something new but when its proponents are challenged they seem to be reverting to some kind of “oh, just make sure she consents before you do anything” which is what the current non-enthusiastic consent situation already is. I want to know whether the advice around ‘enthusiastic consent’ is just what we have now, the response to accepted social cues, or is it requiring a higher level of evidence? Are we to ignore these until the woman gives cues that are more explicit that what are currently accepted? And are the proponents of these new cues spreading this message among women, so they don’t think guys aren’t just inexperienced?

    I agree with summerblues: There are a lot of mixed messages from proponents on this thread.

  132. says

    The problem is that it’s a very blurry argument that’s using “jell-o words”.

    Examples, please?

    What outsiders get from the term “Enthusiastic Consent” is very much different than from what insiders get from it.

    “Outsiders” and “insiders” to what? WTF are you talking about?

    Which may be wrong, but I’m not one to just blame the listener for this.

    When the “listener” isn’t really listening, and ends up getting so many obvious things dead wrong, then yes, the “listener” can be blamed for the misunderstandings that arise.

    You can put an effort in to socialize women towards lowering the level of assertiveness that they find attractive (and where being over-assertive kicks in)

    In other words, condition women to change their basic priorirites to make it easier for men to get laid? Here’s a better idea: educate and socialize MEN so we can: a) be assertive without being pushy assholes; b) go into a dating situation with better understanding of how relationships work, what to expect, and how/where to look for the most compatible dates; and c) take “no” (clear or not) for an answer without freaking out and hating women.

  133. Adiabat says

    Don’t worry Mr Bee, you’ll understand what Lewis meant when you’re grown up. Obviously you just aren’t ‘there’ yet.

  134. says

    …when they just want to get laid without the rigmarole they can simply choose a guy who doesn’t follow the ‘enthusiastic consent’ rules.

    A woman who enthusiastically consents to get laid is going to find a guy who DOESN’T expect enthusiastic consent?

    Are you TRYING to be this ridiculous?

  135. says

    So, Adiabat, first you quote CS Lewis saying it’s wrong to tell somee else to grow up; and then you tell someone else to grow up. Are you even mature enough to perceive how hypocritical you are?

  136. Gjenganger says

    @Ally Fogg 133

    And, in a tangentially related point, I find the conflation of consent with pairing off, picking up women, being considered attractive etc – or the idea that if men practice enthusiastic consent they will never succeed in chatting up women – this idea is really, really disturbing.
    I cannot see any point at which the two issues converge EXCEPT in an abusive or coercive scenario.

    It may be a partial viewpoint, but let me see if I can answer that one.

    Imagine you are unsure how the courtship game works, mistrust your ability to read female moods (you have little experience to build on), rather fear that no one might ever want you anyway, and are (unsurprisingly) sexually unsuccessful. But you do actually care about doing things right (otherwise you would just be out raping, no?). What does ‘enthusiastic consent’ tell you, then?

    First, that it is wrong to try to convince anybody. That is coercion, rapey. So, you are getting nowhere, and you are not permitted to try to improve your lot. That loses you both some hope and the satisfaction of at least trying.

    Next that you have an absolute reponsibility: if you are not totally certain you should hold back, and if you make a wrong call you are a crypto-rapist. You are already very uncertain and worried about doing something wrong, and now you are told that until you achieve a certainty that you really think is beyond you, it is morally wrong for you to try to have sex. Seeing that you actually care about doing it right, you get stressed whether you might be doing something evil, which does not improve either your judgement or your temper. Looking even worse.

    Then all these explicit questions you have to ask. Likely you will be afraid to ask, it is embarassing enough even without that, and then you will get nowhere. Or you will blurt out ‘let us go and shag’ at quite the wrong moment, which will help no one. Either way it will be awkward and slow things down (at best). This is not making it easier.

    Finally, you should hold back until somebody is not just accepting, but enthusiastic about you. Now you are mostly hoping that somebody will be sort of vaguely interested, enought to try being with you, and even that feels unachievable at times. Expecting somebody to enthusiastically seek you out sounds totally unrealistic. At this point you feel you might as well give up – anything you actually try is likely to be wrong, and sitting passively in a corner is not going to cut it.

    This may not be how ‘enthusiastic consent’ is supposed to be understood, but it is how it comes across to me (the word ‘enthusiastic’, especially). And it really does make me wonder whether it has to be this hard, or whether we might prefer some rules that made it a little easier.

    Is it still equally disturbing?

  137. Adiabat says

    “Outsiders” and “insiders” to what? WTF are you talking about?

    Aww, look, he’s trying to understand. Bless.

    He reminds me of those puppies with the wonky ears. The runt of the litter who just tries his hardest.

  138. says

    It’s not consent that men are having a problem with; it’s accepted in the current system that you should get consent.

    Then why do you have a problem with the mere idea of “enthusiastic consent,” if you already understand that consent is a requirement? You’re talking out of both ends of your ass here.

    It’s this idea that we’re to wait beyond current socially accepted levels of consent, such as going home with you, inviting you in for coffee (or tea if she is a true brit), and so on. There already exists several behaviours and phrases that are recognised as consent, without having to wait for the poor girl to break social norms and explicitly say it (and risk associated slut shaming etc).

    If that’s the case, then, again, why are you so opposed to an idea that you admit is already in effect? It really does sound — as Ally already pointed out — like you’re taking an idea that you know is simple common sense, then mindlessly changing your mind and attacking it when a feminist mentions it.

    There are a lot of mixed messages from proponents on this thread.

    The only mixed messages I’m seeing here are from you.

  139. Gjenganger says

    @Raging 134.
    Well, I said what I thought would be necessary and sufficient for beliveing you had consent. I would call that an alternative. If there is nothing in what I say that you disagree with, does that mean that we agree? Somehow it does not sound like it. I can see two places we might disagree: As I see it, ‘enthusiastic consent’ demands close to zero risk of even trying anything that your partner might not agree with. Which again requires an immense safety margin against mistakes. I think that you should be allowed to be a little less risk-adverse, counting on your partner to say a clear no the relatively few times you get it wrong. Also many (but maybe not you) require verbal, explicit consent for ‘enthusiastic consent’. Over to you.

  140. says

    What does ‘enthusiastic consent’ tell you, then? First, that it is wrong to try to convince anybody.

    “Enthusiastic consent” does NOT mean anything like that at all. Whose bum did you pull that from? Who, here or anywhere else, said you can’t make any effort to get your date to want to have sex with you? That’s the whole point of dating, you blithering idiot.

    I’m begining to get the feeling that if a feminist said “The Earth is round,” most MRAs would become flat-earthers overnight.

  141. karmakin says

    @Raging Bee: Actually you see a good example of it in this thread. Some people think Enthusiastic Consent means being an active participant in what is going on (my view), while other people have the view that it means vocalizing consent..a “Only a vocalized clear Yes means Yes” world. If you mean the former rather than the latter, that’s great. People who spend a lot of time looking at this stuff generally end up talking about it using the latter definition, but to the passer-by, they’ll see the former definition, it looks good to them, and agree with it.

    And it’s not about making it “easier to get laid”. It’s about assuming that sexual compatibility is a core part of building a strong relationship and that “educating” men to be less compatible with most of the women out there is going to make it harder for them to build strong healthy lasting relationships.

    Unilateral change is a recipe for frustration. I agree 100% that the status quo is dangerous ground, which is why I think the two potential solutions are to “change the script”, or to take out the binge drinking.

  142. Adiabat says

    So, Adiabat, first you quote CS Lewis saying it’s wrong to tell somee else to grow up; and then you tell someone else to grow up. Are you even mature enough to perceive how hypocritical you are?

    I’m not telling you to grow up. You should enjoy adolescence while you can, though you will be happy to drop all the worrying about appearing “mature” to others when you do grow out of it, trust me.

    Do you know how I appear “mature”, while still allowing myself to have fun and be “immature” at the same time? I don’t belittle people for no reason. I allow myself to appear a bit silly in ways that don’t detract from the point I’m making. The fact that you have to ask “Are you even mature enough to perceive how hypocritical you are?” just tells me how little you ‘get it’ and how arrested your development actually is (unless you actually are an adolescent, then you’re perfect ;) ).

  143. says

    As I see it, ‘enthusiastic consent’ demands close to zero risk of even trying anything that your partner might not agree with.

    Pure fucking bullshit. This has been explained to you MANY times before, and you know it. Here it is yet again: no, ‘enthusiastic consent’ does not mean you can’t do anything your date might not like; it only means you stop doing a certain thing if your date appears not to like it. Why the FUCK is that so hard to understand all of a sudden?

    If you’re having this hard a time understanding a simple concept like ‘enthusiastic consent,’ I can’t help but suspect it’s because — like most rapists — you really don’t give a shit about consent at all.

  144. says

    Who here is talking about “educating men to be less compatible with most of the women out there?” That comment is so silly I can’t help thinking you’re posting on the wrong thread.

  145. Adiabat says

    Mr Bee:

    If that’s the case, then, again, why are you so opposed to an idea that you admit is already in effect?

    The more apt question is: why are feminists proposing, inventing a new name, and telling men to get behind something that’s already in effect, men already do, and changes nothing at all?

    and why are you attacking people who are puzzled by this behaviour?

  146. Gjenganger says

    @Raging 145
    Look, you need to make it clear here. We already agree, on both sides of the debate, that you should not have sex without consent. If you think that is enough, you are agreeing with me, and disagreeing with Ally, MildlyMagnificient etc. who are pushing for something much more specific and far-reaching than just accepting the need for consent.

    If you, too, think that we should be much more strict about clarity of consent, much more explicit in asking, never have sex if there is the least risk of having misunderstood the consent situation, then you are disagreeing with me, Adiabat and all the others, and promoting an idea that is not already in effect, and that requires a lot of people to change.

    Now, which is it?

  147. JT says

    it only means you stop doing a certain thing if your date appears not to like it. (Raging)

    Have you ever had sex with an individual who didnt verbalize something and the noises they made could easily(very easily) be taken as enjoyment. Only to find out afterwards they werent?

  148. karmakin says

    This is a good example of what I’m talking about when I’m talking about “jell-o” definitions. That definitions can change instantly depending on what’s most advantageous in the current debate. (Which is one of my pet peeves. That the focus is on “winning” the debate rather than coming up with the best solutions for very real problems).

    See Jacob above who shifted back and forth between two rape models…one where most were done by a small number of predators and one where most are done by a wide swath of regular people. These are two entirely different things. When you talk about education and widespread cultural change…you’re assuming the latter. You’re using that model. But when people start talking using THAT model and giving the problems with it, all of a sudden it jumps back to the first one..no..we’re just talking about this obviously monstrous behavior.

    Quite frankly, the “debate club” mentality is a destructive one IMO.

  149. Adiabat says

    karmakin (155): In philosophy there is something called “Motte and Bailey” debating. A Motte and Bailey is a type of fort where you have a an easily defended ‘castle’ with a harder to defend palisade (usually a wooden fence). Debating like this is when someone makes a claim or argument that they can’t really defend or support very well (the Bailey) and when challenged will “retreat” to the easily defendable position (the Motte).

    In this case the idea that ‘enthusiastic consent’ is a stricter set of standards is the harder to defend Bailey, and the retreat to “we just mean get consent” is the Motte.

    You see it all the time in debates on Patriarchy, Rape Culture and so on…

  150. says

    The more apt question is: why are feminists proposing, inventing a new name,,,

    The words “enthusiastic” and “consent” were invented by feminists? Who knew?

    …and telling men to get behind something that’s already in effect, men already do, and changes nothing at all?

    Because — as you’d know if you actually read or listened to any news — there’s plenty of men who are NOT already doing any of this, and who are pretending it’s okay.

    Look, you need to make it clear here. We already agree, on both sides of the debate, that you should not have sex without consent.

    So you’re admitting that your complaints about the concept of “enthusiastic consent” are wrong? Because that’s the only way you can pretend we agree.

    If you think that is enough, you are agreeing with me, and disagreeing with Ally…

    Quote the things Ally said that I’m disagreeing with, or admit you’re full of shit.

  151. says

    This is a good example of what I’m talking about when I’m talking about “jell-o” definitions.

    WHAT example? You didn’t specify one.

    Quite frankly, the “debate club” mentality is a destructive one IMO.

    Funny how you only say that when you lose the debate. What’s your alternavite — a “zero debate” mentality?

  152. Ally Fogg says

    You’re reading what you want to read. It’s not consent that men are having a problem with; it’s accepted in the current system that you should get consent. It’s this idea that we’re to wait beyond current socially accepted levels of consent, such as going home with you, inviting you in for coffee (or tea if she is a true brit), and so on. There already exists several behaviours and phrases that are recognised as consent, without having to wait for the poor girl to break social norms and explicitly say it

    Jesus fucking Christ Adiabat, listen to yourself! That is practically a rapist’s charter you have just spelled out. An invitation to coffee is NOT CONSENT TO SEX. Never has been, never will be, never should be. A flirtatious turn of phrase, a bit of positive body language, even an outright suggestive gesture is not consent to sex.

    Any of those things might be an expression of interest, and they often are. It might even be a hint that consent might be on the way if things go well and both people are in the mood, but that is not the same thing as consent.

    It is precisely the belief that an invitation to coffee = consent to sex that is the problem here, that is what gets used as the justification for rape by countless rapists. It is the incredibly dangerous, harmful, mistaken idea that we are trying to put right here. Don’t you get that?

  153. says

    AllyF @133:

    Opposition to ideas like enthusiastic consent seems to come exclusively from men.

    That is overlooking quite a bit of criticism and reservations around “enthusiastic consent” coming from women and feminists.

    http://persephonemagazine.com/2012/05/why-do-people-hate-the-concept-of-enthusiastic-consent/
    (The blogger tells of pushback against enthusiastic consent from women and feminists)

    http://pervocracy.blogspot.no/2012/05/real-consent.html
    (a feminist voicing their concerns over how the term “enthusastic consent” ignores the agency of the person consenting.)

    http://www.rachelrabbitwhite.com/should-we-do-away-with-sex-positive/#comment-7996
    (Blogger stating that it’s too much of a simplification)

    http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2012/02/07/an-asexual-map-for-sex-positive-feminism/
    http://writingfromfactorx.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/lets-have-a-conversation-about-compromise-and-consent/
    (How asexuals find the term not very fitting for them)

    A number of sex workers (feminist and not feminist) have expressed a problem with the term “enthusiastic consent”.

    Jill at Feministe writes:

    I’m mostly in the Jaclyn Friedman camp of sexual ethics: Everyone is fully entitled to boundaries, and sex acts should be consented to enthusiastically, not agreed to grudgingly. But I’m also a Dan Savage sympathizer, insofar as he argues we’re also entitled to sexual pleasure and when in relationships we should try to sexually please our partner — we should (safely) try new things, and be giving and generous in bed (and expect the same in return).

    For the more “way out there” feminist critic of Enthusiastic consent see: http://factcheckme.wordpress.com/2010/10/01/marginalizing-the-spinster/

  154. Gjenganger says

    @Raging Bee 157.
    Ok. Last one. If you want ot continue this discussion do one of two:
    – Say clearly that you think enthusiastic consent’ is an empty phrase that means the same as the normal English word ‘consent’
    – Say that ‘enthusiastic consent’ is different from common or garden consent, and tell us what you think the differences are.

  155. says

    Have you ever had sex with an individual who didnt verbalize something and the noises they made could easily (very easily) be taken as enjoyment. Only to find out afterwards they werent?

    No, I haven’t — that’s because I know what noises indicate enjoyment, and which don’t. And when a noise is unclear in its meaning, I just ask something like “oh, did that hurt?”

    Seriously (I’ve seriously gotta stop overusing that word!), if you can’t tell pleasure-noises from displeasure-noises, you really shouldn’t be dating at all. Or, at the very least, you should admit at the outset that you’re totally new to the whole sex thing.

  156. Gjenganger says

    @Ally Fogg 159
    I hope you have done the lad an injustice, and he just meant that you can signal consent through a set of implicit dance steps, the coffee invitations being an important one somewhere in the middle. If he means that coffe is the same as consent (let alone that it cannot be undone) yes, that is a rapists charter.

  157. says

    Gjenganger, I’m not the one who has to define his terms. You’re the one who needs to define what you’re attacking, and what you’re not attacking.

  158. Adiabat says

    Ally (159): All I’m reading in your post is:

    WAAAGHH!!* Outrage!

    You’re being ridiculous, and feigning outrage for rhetorical purposes (at least I hope you’re feigning, as I respect you too much to believe that you’re being so ridiculous on purpose).

    Do you really expect me to go through every unspoken cultural script that “coffee” is just one part of (and obviously isn’t the last)? These scripts, from seeing someone across the room, to the next morning, are present in society and they work 99% of the time. Most of the time they are intuitive, from years of practice. They are an interplay between man and woman (or man and man etc) where one person gives their cue and the other gives their cue in return. Deviating from this script means that you fail to attract the other person, and that is what you are asking men to intentionally do, which would be fine if all men did it at once. But what’ll happen is that the men who continue to use the scripts will be rewarded over those that don’t. It’ll make men who follow the guidelines bitter, like the bitter men who tried to be nice guys.

    I agree that some men exploit these for a “justifiable denial” of rape (but you yourself admit that the majority is down to inexperience and misinterpretation). I’m not arguing with you on this and I would love to prevent them being misused but “enthusiastic consent” will not do this. It’ll just punish the men who care about the problem and follow the guidelines.

    *Anyone who knows WK40K will know what I’m referring to.

  159. Ally Fogg says

    Gjenganger (143)

    Imagine you are unsure how the courtship game works, mistrust your ability to read female moods (you have little experience to build on), rather fear that no one might ever want you anyway, and are (unsurprisingly) sexually unsuccessful. But you do actually care about doing things right (otherwise you would just be out raping, no?). What does ‘enthusiastic consent’ tell you, then?

    OK, with you so far

    First, that it is wrong to try to convince anybody. That is coercion, rapey. So, you are getting nowhere, and you are not permitted to try to improve your lot. That loses you both some hope and the satisfaction of at least trying.

    This is 100% wrong, in fact it is almost the polar opposite of what we are talking about. Principles of enthusiastic consent doesn’t make any such assumptions, nor should you.

    Next that you have an absolute reponsibility: if you are not totally certain you should hold back, and if you make a wrong call you are a crypto-rapist..

    But wait a minute…. hold back from what? You do not need enthusiastic consent to approach someone, talk to her (?) flirt, ask her for a dance, buy her a drink, invite her for a date, any of that.

    Where consent begins to come in is where you have tried all those things and it has been made perfectly clear to you that your approaches are not welcome. At which point the situation changes.

    You are already very uncertain and worried about doing something wrong, and now you are told that until you achieve a certainty that you really think is beyond you, it is morally wrong for you to try to have sex.

    I really don’t know what this phrase “try to have sex” means here. Do you mean continue to flirt, to make invitations, to attempt to woo and seduce? I think if someone has already made it clear to you that they are not interested in you, to continue to do that is a bit creepy – the decent thing to do is to back away. On the other hand if by “try to have sex” you are talking about actual physical actions – then you’re getting well into rapey territory now. And let’s be perfectly frank about this, if someone hasn’t made it perfectly clear that they are actively enjoying your physical attentions, you shouldn’t be continuing.

    Then all these explicit questions you have to ask. Likely you will be afraid to ask, it is embarassing enough even without that, and then you will get nowhere. Or you will blurt out ‘let us go and shag’ at quite the wrong moment, which will help no one. Either way it will be awkward and slow things down (at best). This is not making it easier.

    This really isn’t what enthusiastic consent means. Enthusiastic consent can be given without anyone saying a word, and often is.

    Finally, you should hold back until somebody is not just accepting, but enthusiastic about you. Now you are mostly hoping that somebody will be sort of vaguely interested, enought to try being with you, and even that feels unachievable at times. Expecting somebody to enthusiastically seek you out sounds totally unrealistic. At this point you feel you might as well give up – anything you actually try is likely to be wrong, and sitting passively in a corner is not going to cut it.

    This may not be how ‘enthusiastic consent’ is supposed to be understood, but it is how it comes across to me (the word ‘enthusiastic’, especially). And it really does make me wonder whether it has to be this hard, or whether we might prefer some rules that made it a little easier.

    I have got absolutely no idea where you have got the idea that enthusiastic consent means passivity. It is a two way process. You ask her to dance, she says yes. She looks deep in your eyes… you look back into hers. You move to kiss her, she moves to kiss you. You place a hand on a piece of bare flesh, she adjusts her clothing to make a bit more bare flesh etc etc etc, all the way down the line.

    If at any point one or other person flinches or turns away or moves back, you back off and let him/her. When it gets to the really intimate stuff, if you have any doubts at all you can say “is that nice?” or “are you OK to do this?” and listen to the answer.

    In other words, the difference between enthusiastic consent and passive consent is not some complicated rigmarole involving legal documents signed in triplicate, it is just making absolutely sure at every stage that your partner is enjoying what is happening. It really isn’t difficult. It simply means there is more to consent than “the other person hasn’t yet screamed and slapped me or tried to physically wrestle me off, so I must be OK to continue”

    That’s really all there is to it.

  160. Ally Fogg says

    Tamen

    All fair enough, but those lniks (at first glance) are all basically saying that “enthusiastic consent” as a phrase or a notion doesn’t go far enough and that we need something stronger, which is not really the position I was arguing against.

  161. Adiabat says

    Ally (166): Motte and Bailey.

    So tell me again why you are proposing, inventing a new name for, and telling men to get behind something that’s already in effect, men already do, and changes nothing at all?

    Anyway, I’m off for today. Catch replies later.

  162. says

    Ally (159): All I’m reading in your post is: WAAAGHH!!* Outrage!

    That’s probably because you’re not reading Ally’s posts at all. I have read his comments, and it’s pretty obvious there’s more to them than what you pretend to have read. How dumb do you have to be to think you’re fooling anyone here?

  163. Ally Fogg says

    Adiabat

    So tell me again why you are proposing, inventing a new name for, and telling men to get behind something that’s already in effect, men already do, and changes nothing at all?

    Because there are significant numbers of people who believe that in the absence of someone screaming NO!!!! and physically wrestling themselves free, consent can be assumed.

  164. says

    So tell me again why you are proposing, inventing a new name for, and telling men to get behind something that’s already in effect, men already do, and changes nothing at all?

    I already answered that question. Why do you have to ask it again?

  165. Gjenganger says

    @Ally Fogg 166
    That sounds reasonable in many ways. Maybe I even agree. Where I fall off is with phrases like ‘once it is clear that …’. Obviously once the situation is clear you know what you ought to do. But you are never ‘absolutely sure’ about anything, especially if you are very insecure. There is always the risk that you are fooling yourself or missing something. And if the situation is “this time? no. Last 287 times? no. Next time???” you are under a lot of pressure to cut corners. You have to consider that you might be wrong (also to be alert for new signals) so it becomes a question of how far to err on the side of caution. If you go with your judgement, you (and your partner) have to accept that you might sometimes misjudge consent, hopefully until you are put right. If the message is that you must be absolutely sure, and that any error must always be on the side of not having sex, you are being asked for what you cannot provide. That is where passivity becomes the safer option.

    As for ‘trying to convince anybody’, well, pestering is wrong. Saying that it has been six months now and maybe it is your turn is wrong. Trying one more time, in case the jury is still out, is wrong. Being nice is fine, but expecting anything in return is wrong. OK, there are surely things that you can do and that might help your chances, but I find it hard to see where the line falls.

    Anyway, thanks for your time. Much appreciated.

  166. says

    But you are never ‘absolutely sure’ about anything, especially if you are very insecure.

    It is not the job of feminists, or college administrators, or “men’s rights” advocates, or anyone else, to accomodate such paralyzing insecurities as you seem to have. It is YOUR job to seek personal counseling for them, and to deal responsibly with your personal problems with or without the help of such counsel. The concept of enthusiastic consent did not cause your insecurities, and stupidly attacking the concept won’t help you deal with them either. Stop blaming feminists and take responsibility already!

  167. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    Adiabat,

    So tell me again why you are proposing, inventing a new name for, and telling men to get behind something that’s already in effect, men already do, and changes nothing at all?

    Not all men (or women) understand this and “already do” enthusiastic consent. That is why feminists, and non-feminists who care about harassment and rape, emphasize it.
    Ally,

    In other words, the difference between enthusiastic consent and passive consent is not some complicated rigmarole involving legal documents signed in triplicate, it is just making absolutely sure at every stage that your partner is enjoying what is happening. It really isn’t difficult.

    Well said, I really don’t see where all the pushback is coming from on this issue.

    Could anyone arguing with the concept of enthusiastic consent actually address what supporters if it are asserting. No one has mentioned “absolute certainty”, or that consent must be a “vocalized clear ‘yes'”, or that one should not be assertive.

    I like to follow the posts, and many of the threads here, but there are so many bad-faith arguments, refusals to address what people are actually arguing, and frankly rapey-comments, that is is hard not to get too frustrated when reading. I am no mind reader, but perhaps those arguing this way are intending it to be frustrating. Whether or not people are attempting to gaslight, or are just incapable of arguing honestly, I don’t know, but I may knock myself out from all of the face-palming and head-desking that is the result of reading most threads here.

  168. Jacob Schmidt says

    Do you really expect me to go through every unspoken cultural script that “coffee” is just one part of (and obviously isn’t the last)?

    Why not?

    So tell me again why you are proposing, inventing a new name for, and telling men to get behind something that’s already in effect, men already do, and changes nothing at all?<

    This is incoherent; you were complaining about changing the script, while admonishing Ally for not changing anything. You can’t argue at the same time that the change is both too great and that it does nothing.

  169. JT says

    Or, at the very least, you should admit at the outset that you’re totally new to the whole sex thing.(Raging)

    And there’s the rub, no pun intended. How many individuals from both the receiving/giving end have poor communication skills? I assume you are a mature, experienced man, right? The question is, were you always like that? If, lets say when you were younger and you didn’t possess those skills and you ended miss reading those obvious signs, would that make you a rapist? I can just imagine how many people who are experienced but add alcohol to the mix. I think the 1 in 71 for men would go up drastically.

  170. johngreg says

    Gjenganger said (http://freethoughtblogs.com/hetpat/2013/10/26/college-rape-and-the-importance-of-measuring-success/#comment-13827):

    Enforce that everybody should negotiate explicit consent every time, even if they are fairly sure they do not need it. That is what JohnGreg finds ludicrous.

    Yes, that is pretty much my point, but it might be more correct to say: Enforce that everybody should negotiate explicit narrative (wordy or vocalised) consent every time, even if they are fairly sure that such explicit vocalised consent is not always required (as in a long term relationship).

    What seems uncomfortably clear to me is that there is obviously no agreed upon definition of what enthusiastic consent even means. Anywhere. Whenever pseudo-definitions are offered they are ambiguous and vague to the point of uselessness. And it seems to me that there is a very strong requirement for some form of mind reading at play in determining this type of consent.

    Contrary to the on/off anti-dictionary brigade, it is necessary to have an agreed upon definition of the concept of enthusiastic consent before anyone can work out whether or not it is even a valid concept, for the extremely simple fact that everyone, left to their own devices, is going to define it somewhat differently, and then no one is any futher forward anyway as it all boils back down to some degree of mind reading skills. Men and women are often fickle about expressing sexual certainty, especially in new relationships or one-night stands, but it seems to me that supporters of the concept of enthusiastic consent want to deny that very real, very prevalent aspect of human relations, especially in the sexual mine field.

    It also seems to me that the somewhat more, erm, ardent supporters of the concept of enthusiastic consent are also the most unwilling to actually define it, and they seem to me to be just shouting You’ll know it when you see it, and leaving the barn door open to interpretation; their interpretation du jour. And that’s just horsepucks.

  171. Gjenganger says

    @Woo_Monster 175

    I really don’t see where all the pushback is coming from on this issue.

    Maybe I can help you. The idea is beginning to make a lot more sense to me (I do learn, sometimes). Posts by Ally and Lelapaletute helped a lot – unlike yours, I might add. But I would say the assertions of supporters vary quite a lot, and that the total message across the debates is far from clear.

    To begin with there is the name. It is pretty impossible for either supporters or opponents to completely avoid the idea that ‘enthusiastic consent’ means that your consent has to be enthusiastic. Especially when used in an argument against grudging consent. Lelapaletute and Claire Fuller both propose using ‘clear consent’ instead, which would avoid some predictable misunderstandings.

    Then there is Mildlymagnificient, a poster that I generally value, asserting that ‘enthusiastic consent’ is an alternative to people acting on their own feelings and perceptions:”Far too many people have a totally unfounded belief that they can ‘read’ other people’s feelings and intentions well enough to act on their own perceptions What is that supposed to mean, except that you have to be explicit?

    And Mildlymagnificient again, apparently suggesting that you must always avoid sex if there is any kind of possible doubt. As for ‘it sometimes goes wrong’ that’s perfectly OK so long as ‘goes wrong’ means missing out on a possible sexual interaction. Is that not ‘absolute certainty’?

    There is Claire Fuller, seeming to suggest that the mere suspicion of lack of proper consent should send us into a panic, at least until we have worked on our relationship and techniques enough to overcome it “Consent paranoia, that panicked, decidedly turned-off feeling we get when suspect our partners are not consenting or consenting falsely is a decidedly healthy, enlightened neurosis.”

    Finally, I have to admit that the numerous posters who said that the solution to my concerns was that people such as me should not try to have sex in the first place did nothing to convince me that this was a simple and benign doctrine.

  172. JT says

    I think “Enthusiastic Consent” is much more difficult than, lets say, an “Emphatic No”. Rather than putting the onus on the individual who may initiate first contact it allows for the control to come from the one who may potentially feel violated. Its simple, like I did with my kids.

    1. No, I don’t want to.
    2. No, don’t touch me there.
    3. NO! FUCK OFF!

    Emphatic No. As the Raging Bee would say, mature people should be able to read the signs, with an Emphatic No, we take out all that ambiguity. :)

  173. johngreg says

    Woo quoted Ally saying (http://freethoughtblogs.com/hetpat/2013/10/26/college-rape-and-the-importance-of-measuring-success/#comment-13889):

    … just making absolutely sure at every stage that your partner is enjoying what is happening. It really isn’t difficult.

    Then Woo said:

    I really don’t see where all the pushback is coming from on this issue.

    The somewhat misnamed “pushback” is coming from the basic fact that Ally’s statement, as you quoted it, and most people’s ersatz definitions of enthusiastic consent remain ambiguous, opaque, and open to anyone’s personal interpretation; quite a wide range of possible interpretations. It can, in point of fact, be sometimes quite difficult knowing whether or not your partner is enjoying themselves enthusiastically.

    How do you personally define:

    1. making absolutely sure

    2. every stage (what are the sexual stages? how does one differentiate between them?)

    3. enjoying what is happening (i.e., to what degree must they be enjoying it? As much as you? More than you? Loudly with moans, groans, and screams of joy that are often indistinguishable from agony, or justly mutely shivering in the throes of ecstasy?)

    I sometimes wonder if when people say such things as what Ally said, if they have a somewhat limited range of variety in their sexual experiences. Sexual ecstasy is often very difficult to distinguish from agony; as I mentioned above, some partners shiver in mute throes of joy; others scream like they are suffering primal pain; not to mention the whole range if in-betweens. And some partners strongly dislike, or are deeply uncomfortable with being asked how they are feeling, or to even discuss, openly, their sexual desires, joys, needs, etc. How would you account for those types of situations?

  174. Ally Fogg says

    johngreg

    “It also seems to me that the somewhat more, erm, ardent supporters of the concept of enthusiastic consent are also the most unwilling to actually define it,”

    I think the most ardent supporters of the concept of enthusiastic consent don’t really feel like we need to define it because we are not looking for loopholes. All we need is an understanding that works for us.

    Nobody, and I think I mean literally nobody, is holding up enthusiastic consent as a legal standard, something that would or could be defined in statute and demonstrated in a court of law.

    Enthusiastic consent is an admirable moral code for individuals to live their sex lives by. We can ask ourselves, in sexual situations, am I making every effort to ensure that my partner is genuinely happy to be doing what we’re doing? if that is the question you are asking yourself, you don’t need to be looking for loopholes. Indeed if you are looking for loopholes then you are almost certainly not practising enthusiastic consent.

    The other thing I’d add is that any definitions of consent can be subject to the same kind of yeah but what if… hypothetical scenario testing that you, Gjenganger and others have been playing at with EC here. How can anyone ever recognise any consent for sure? Is someone really consenting if they’ve had a drink or two, if they’re in a dependent relationship, if they owe the other person money…. is there really such a thing as free will and therefore true consent at all?

    The fact that people can play those kind of intellectual and philosophical games with any definition of consent is one of the best arguments for setting the bar a little bit higher, just in case.

  175. says

    If, lets say when you were younger and you didn’t possess those skills and you ended miss reading those obvious signs, would that make you a rapist?

    Misreading signs doesn’t make one a rapist; RAPING SOMEONE makes one a rapist. And I never raped anyone, so no, misreading signs did not “make me a rapist.”

    What a breathtakingly stupid question.

    What seems uncomfortably clear to me is that there is obviously no agreed upon definition of what enthusiastic consent even means. Anywhere. Whenever pseudo-definitions are offered they are ambiguous and vague to the point of uselessness. And it seems to me that there is a very strong requirement for some form of mind reading at play in determining this type of consent.

    Oh come the fuck on — what are you asking for, an exhaustive definition of what constitutes enthusiasm in all possible situations? That’s a truly ridiculous expectation, totally devoid of common sense. If you’re with a person, and really interacting with him/her (as opposed to, say, halfassedly trying to get in just anyone’s pants without caring about the person behind the body), then you’ll know when that person is being enthusiastic, and when not. If you can’t tell the difference between the body language for “your touch is getting me hot” and that for “um, whatever,” then you don’t need an itemized script, you need counseling.

    Even a child can distinguish enthusiasm from lack of it — this is something psychologists have understood for a long time, and it’s an inescapable fact in pediatric medicine, child development, and teaching. And you guys are crying about how you can’t get behind that simple concept without, what, a detailed document published by the National Bureau of Standards? What the hell is wrong with you people?!

  176. JT says

    As a massage therapist I deal with consent issue’s daily. My clients give informed consent and I tell them prior to every treatment to inform me if there is something off during their visit. As in, pressure, rhythm, etc……As an experienced therapist I have learned to “read the signs” in regards to how I may be impacting them. When I was younger as a new therapist that was much more difficult and sometimes clients would “suffer in silence” if the pressure was to deep for them. In those instances as a inexperienced therapist I was ill equipped to do anything about it. If only they had said something. I see similar type situations happening in regards to this “enthusiastic consent” idea. Can you imagine during a relaxing massage if I asked consent everytime I touched a new bodypart. Im pretty sure the individual would not be too relaxed by the end of it all.

  177. summerblues says

    “I think the most ardent supporters of the concept of enthusiastic consent don’t really feel like we need to define it because we are not looking for loopholes. All we need is an understanding that works for us. ”

    Uh, Ally, we’re not looking for loopholes but thanks for the insult anyway. “understanding that works for ‘us'”…who is “us” and how is this not ambiguous. Yay I can make this up as I go but this does not help in the general population. What are the ground rules.

    I’m thinking:

    Self respect and respect for others
    Learn your own boundries, understand that others have boundries that will not match yours
    Use your manners, keep your hands and body parts to yourself
    When a man or woman says “no” take them at face value and walk away, no harm done

  178. says

    who is “us” and how is this not ambiguous[?]

    “Us” is you and whoever you’re dating and may or may not end up in bed with. How is this ambiguous?

  179. JT says

    Misreading signs doesn’t make one a rapist; RAPING SOMEONE makes one a rapist. And I never raped anyone, so no, misreading signs did not “make me a rapist.”(Raging)

    Umm, yeah it could. You don’t know what all your partners were thinking when you were younger. You may have missed tons of signs and they honestly felt violated afterwards. The thing is, youre not psychic and if they didn’t tell you or have you charged you would never even know. So, yeah, misreading some signs could be very damaging to both parties. That is why an “Emphatic No” would be so much healthier for both individuals engaging in coitus if they are not into it.

  180. johngreg says

    I am not looking for loopholes; I am looking for specificity, largely because if I don’t enthusiastically consent in whole to agree with the supporters of an ambiguous, undefined, and ephemeral thing called enthusiastic consent, I am accused of looking for loopholes, playing intellectual and philosophical games, not practicing enthusiastic consent, and so on and so forth. Say, why not just throw in MRA, misogynist, sexist, anti-feminist while you’re at it. Ally, I am disappointed with your kneejerk reaction to those of us who are requesting even some slight definitive clarifications that do not cross all over each other, if not outright contradict each other.

    So, given the responses, it looks like the basic working definition of enthusiastic consent is whatever an individual chooses to make it so long as they are confident that they understand the concept in whatever way their intuition of the moment, aka special ways of knowing, define it to be based upon the sometimes ambiguous actions of their partner of the moment. Excellent.

    And, of course, so long as it is all in line with the thoughts, beliefs, and personal experiences of that aging Boggart in the wardrobe, Raging Bee. Say, here’s a thought: Maybe we could all enthusiastically consent to shout riddikulus at the same time and turn the Bee into something a bit more, er, palatable.

  181. JT says

    Maybe we could all enthusiastically consent to shout riddikulus at the same time and turn the Bee into something a bit more, er, palatable.(John)

    I was thinking we better ask him if its ok to eat him rather than relying on the look on his face. ;)

  182. Gjenganger says

    @Ally Fogg 182
    I am surprised you took that one on. Surely he meant (ehrm) Raging Bee. You gave me a fairly clear definition. And thanks, it really helped. I’d say on your interpretation I am happy enough to go with the concept – we can always disagree about the practical details if we have time.

    I think the most ardent supporters of the concept of enthusiastic consent don’t really feel like we need to define it because we are not looking for loopholes. All we need is an understanding that works for us.
    Nobody, and I think I mean literally nobody, is holding up enthusiastic consent as a legal standard, something that would or could be defined in statute and demonstrated in a court of law.

    Now that seems a little disingenious. You are proposing ‘enthusiastic consent’ as a moral standard for all the world to follow. On past form it is quite likely to illuminate social norms and even legal thinking for the future – feminism and its friends have a very successful track record. Anyway, we need a clear and agreed framework of behavior rules, so that people know what they have to work with. People are explicitly proposing this as mandatory school syllabus for future teenagers. Might be quite good, but surely it is not too much to ask for an explanation of what it actually means.

  183. says

    Ally @168:

    but those lniks (at first glance) are all basically saying that “enthusiastic consent” as a phrase or a notion doesn’t go far enough and that we need something stronger, which is not really the position I was arguing against.

    Eh, either we have a difference in opinion about what “something stronger” is or your fist glance was very cursory.

    The author of the article in the first link is very much a proponent of enthusiastic consent, but the feminist and feminist-allies she gave a presentation for at a conference were not arguing for something stronger:

    Now, in a room full of feminists and feminist-allies, I was not expecting to get any argument on this. I was, to be honest, a little shocked, because I had not planned for debate on this topic. “But it kills the mood!” and “I think that’s unnecessary” comments filled the room.

    The remaining ones (except the factcheckme one) argues that there are valid forms of consent that isn’t enthusiastic. I’d say it’s a stretch to say that is a call to something stronger.

    The factcheckme on the other hand is very much a call for somethingg strong – a call against PIV sex – enthusiastic or not.

    Note that this isn’t an unstated argument by me for or against enthusiastic consent (personally I strive to live by that), but rather keeping you honest when I catch you gereralizing :)

  184. Paul says

    It’s all very well people having high falutin’ discussions on what constitutes consent etc but it seems to me that some people are in need of a reality check.

    Here in the UK about 50% of rape allegations which make it to court result in a conviction.However far too many rape allegations don’t make it to court and there’s no question that men are therefore getting away with rape.Now from what i understand a high proportion of rape allegations which don’t make it to court are made by young women who knew the alleged rapist ,where both parties voluntarily consumed a fair amount of alcohol and where there’s no independent evidence to support the claim that a rape took place.It’s her word against his.

    Now from past experience of online debates on this issue i know some people take the view that if a woman claims she’s been raped then she’s been raped. Whereas others make the point that men must be protected against false allegations of rape etc etc .My view is that if a woman claims she’s been raped then the allegation must be taken seriously but the alleged rapist must still be treated as though he’s innocent until proven guilty. And that’s where the problem lies because the reason so many rape allegations don’t make it to court is because too often it’s the word of the alleged victim against the word of the alleged rapist .And as the burden of proof is on the alleged victim that almost certainly won’t secure a conviction unless she can provide more credible evidence.

    So what should be done about this ? Firstly there’s the issue of whether the threshold of proof by law should be lowered so as to increase the likelihood of a conviction being secured. And secondly there’s the need imo to have some hard-hitting educational campaigns targetted at both sexes.Men need to be told that even if a woman has led them on to the point of penetration she still has the right to say NO.And if he doesn’t respect that then he’s a rapist and the woman has the right to have him arrested and prosecuted.,And men also need to be told -amongst other things-that if a woman has had a lot to drink -and he has as well -he may well still be accused of rape if she feels he took advantage of her.

    Targetting men in educational campaigns is actually easier than targetting women and the responses of Ally and a number of other posters here demonstrate why that is.Because those who believe that women also need to be targetted end up running the gauntlet of scorn and anger of those who accuse them of blaming the victim.But i speak as the father of a teenage girl and i make no apology for the fact that i will do everything in my power to make sure my daughter is streetwise.And that includes educating her of the possible consequences of either getting off her face with no -one arround to look after her and/or getting into any situation where something bad could happen to her and where there’s no independent evidence to back her up if she subsequently made an allegation to the police that something bad happened to her.That’s reality and young women in particular have got to have that drummed into them .That however is in no way detracting from the need to have young men in particular educated in no uncertain terms of the possible consequences of either forcing themselves on a woman who’s either said NO or who may well have not been in a postion to give her consent.

  185. mildlymagnificent says

    Karmakin

    The view from a lot of people is that how people define the concept of Enthusiastic Consent (not how I define it), would require from the man a level of unassertiveness that would render him unattractive.

    In the immortal words of one J. McEnroe “You can not! be serious!

    Gjenganger

    Then all these explicit questions you have to ask. Likely you will be afraid to ask, it is embarassing enough even without that, and then you will get nowhere. Or you will blurt out ‘let us go and shag’ at quite the wrong moment, which will help no one. Either way it will be awkward and slow things down (at best). This is not making it easier.

    I take it you didn’t watch that 3 minute video I put up earlier. Here it is again. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5H6QvNmfjY&noredirect=1#t=37

    JT

    Can you imagine during a relaxing massage if I asked consent everytime I touched a new bodypart. Im pretty sure the individual would not be too relaxed by the end of it all.

    Well, if you asked as though you were completing a survey during a hot and heavy cuddling/ necking session, teeeedious. On the other hand, a whispered What if we ….

    johngreg

    So, given the responses, it looks like the basic working definition of enthusiastic consent is whatever an individual chooses to make it so long as they are confident that they understand the concept in whatever way their intuition of the moment, aka special ways of knowing, define it to be based upon the sometimes ambiguous actions of their partner of the moment.

    I recommend that brief video above.

    The “emphatic” No

    Why should women be expected to use such unequivocal language in this specific interaction when refusal of all kinds is usually delivered – and understood – in “softening the blow”, vague or evasive language? When someone refuses an invitation to coffee, they don’t say No, I don’t want to spend a moment longer with you. They ummm and errr before saying, Sorry not right now, got too much to do. Invite someone to lunch who doesn’t want to go. They don’t say No, your lack of table manners makes me nauseous, they make excuses or claim a previous engagement.

    We all understand hesitations, mumbles, delayed responses and equivocal responses as reluctance and possible refusals in other personal and social circumstances. ummmm Not today. Call me later. errrr I’ll check my diary. I’m not sure. I’ll check with my partner. Weeeell … I’ll email you. I think we might be booked that evening. Not too keen on films with [brilliant actor]. If we know that person reasonably well, we can judge whether those are possible, probable or certain refusals and whether they’re just distracted, polite, very busy or otherwise occupied. We don’t demand an unequivocal, on the spot, here and now, clear and undeniable No! for ordinary social stuff, so why does it suddenly become desirable, even obligatory, for more personal, more intimate, more sensitive stuff? Letting someone down easy is generally regarded as a good thing – or at least a much less rude or offensive approach.

    And if the standard is enthusiastic consent, then mere reluctance is exactly the same as a clear no.

    I don’t know whether this has been linked here before, but here it is anyway. http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/mythcommunication-its-not-that-they-dont-understand-they-just-dont-like-the-answer/

  186. abear says

    Pillow talk at the Bee household:
    R- “Queen, honey; May I touch, er rub your breast?”
    Q- “Why yes Raging, you may, I would quite like that.”
    R-“Are you sure, I need to be sure you are enthusiastic about it”
    Q-“Raging, I always like it when you touch my breast, I am absolutely enthusiastic about it, really!
    R-“Swell. Would 5 minutes be OK?
    Q-5 Minutes is great! Longer if you like!
    R- Queen Bee I respect you totally, I promise to stop if you don’t re-endorse consent every 30 seconds.
    Q- Well let’s get at it then! And Sweety would you mind taking off the surgical gloves, they feel a little sterile
    R- OMG! Do you mean that for 30 years I have been raping you by touching you with sterile, creepy gloves!
    Sorry honey Queen Bee… I have to leave now and turn myself in!!

  187. Jacob Schmidt says

    Targetting men in educational campaigns is actually easier than targetting women and the responses of Ally and a number of other posters here demonstrate why that is.

    This is idiotic. Targeting potential victims is the status quo; you can have a look at Ally’s latest post for evidence of that. Targeting perpetrators is a recent implementation.

  188. mildlymagnificent says

    And that includes educating her of the possible consequences of either getting off her face with no -one arround to look after her and/or getting into any situation where something bad could happen to her and where there’s no independent evidence to back her up if she subsequently made an allegation to the police that something bad happened to her.That’s reality and young women in particular have got to have that drummed into them .

    Drummed into them? I’m not convinced. Unless you think that stranger danger or brief nightclub acquaintance danger is the biggest issue.

    The most important thing, speaking as the mother of two 30ish daughters, is for them to learn that they are always to respect others and to be respected in turn. Whether they’ve never met, just met or lived for two years with a man, they are always and everywhere entitled to respect and consideration for their preferences and feelings and they should respect and consider the other person’s feelings equally. Whether those feelings are mere transient problems like feeling a bit tired or unwell or a recurring or constant problem like being a bit sensitive to remarks or criticisms too much like some rubbish a parent used to dish out.

  189. Paul says

    This is idiotic

    It’s not idiotic it’s stating a fact. Targetting men in any campaign is understandably not controversial whereas targetting women is.Are you such a dunderhead you can’t see that ?

  190. JT says

    @Mild

    Interesting. Comparing someone grabbing your personal parts to having coffee or lunch. Wow, I always say I wont be surprise, but then, surprise, surprise. I will remind my daughter of that, let them done gently, afterall you wouldn’t want to offend someone. Geez, really?

  191. Paul says

    Unless you think that stranger danger or brief nightclub acquaintance danger is the biggest issue.

    I don’t know whether you’re mildlymagnificent or mildlymoronic..For you simply refuse to read what people actually write. For what i actually wrote about was the fact that here in the UK many of the alleged rapes that don’t result in prosecution take place between young men and women where alcohol has been consumed and where there is no independent evidence to support her allegation. What bit of that didn’t you understand. ?

  192. Paul says

    facepalm:

    You’re arguing for the status quo.

    No i should be the one giving a face palm given you clearly have an agenda which makes it impossible for you to address any point of view which doesn’t fit in with your agenda.People like you genuinely depress me because you have nothing constructive to offer to the debate.

  193. mildlymagnificent says

    Interesting. Comparing someone grabbing your personal parts to having coffee or lunch. Wow,

    We’re talking about initiating sexual activity. Not about grabbing and groping without asking first.

    Or didn’t you read the link. Come to think of it, you only need to read what I wrote and the comments I was responding to, the link just gives a fuller account of the research about conversational refusals. Neither johngreg, nor Gjenganger nor anyone else I can recollect was proposing that “grabbing your personal parts” would be part of an initial approach to sexual activity with a new or recent sexual partner. Though I know there are plenty of long-established couples who do have such gestures as part of their private repertoire, it’s not recommended as a way to get a positive response from someone you don’t already know very very well.

  194. mildlymagnificent says

    Paul

    I presumed you were talking about social situations when you used getting off her face with no -one around to look after her and/or getting into any situation where something bad could happen to her.

    So if you’re including having drinks with a meal at home with a well-known, non-stranger boyfriend / partner / workmate / neighbour as a ‘situation where something bad could happen to her’, then fine. We’re agreed.

  195. Paul says

    So if you’re including having drinks with a meal at home with a well-known, non-stranger boyfriend / partner / workmate / neighbour as a ‘situation where something bad could happen to her’, then fine. We’re agreed.

    What i’m not is a radical feminist who believes that all men are potential rapists.My understanding is that a high proportion of the alleged rapes that don’t make it to court take place between young men and women who know each other ,who’ve consumed alcohol and where some form of allegedly consensual foreplay or non-penetrative sexual activity has taken place before the alleged rape.And i repeat again what i said upthread.The woman still has a right to say NO at any time and if the man still proceeds to penetrate her then he’s a rapist.

    However proving she’s been raped in that scenario is likely to prove difficult given too often there’s no independent evidence and it’s his word against hers. That’s not blaming the alleged victim but that unfortunately is the kind of situation a woman who’s allegedly been raped can find herself in .And for me the primary focus of the debate should be about looking at the threshold of proof needed to secure a conviction as well as crime prevention measures directed at both sexes.For let’s not forget that it is possible for communication to become blurred if both parties have been drinking..

    And it is possible for a woman to genuinely believe she may have been raped when the man who allegedly raped her genuinely believes she gave her consent.For instance if a woman says she can’t remember whether or not she consented to having sex should we assume she was raped if medical tests don’t prove beyond reasonable doubt that she was probably off her face and therefore unable to give consent. ?

  196. Gjenganger says

    @MildlyMagnificient 196
    Videos are a bit tricky, with either colleagues or children hanging around. But I’ll get to it.
    Your communication link was very good, though. And it is certainly true that you are much less likely to be satisfied with a soft hint if you really do not like the message. But then, for something fairly inconsequential like coming over for tea, you lose little by making it easy for the other person to say no – and make yourself less disliked while you are at it. For something crucially important, like ‘lend me 10 000 or the Mafia will break my knees tomorrow’, making it easy to refuse is not really a consideration. And for people who feel they never get a chance, sex is a crucially important issue. As it is for people who do not want to be forced. So yes, it is very rude to push people to the point where they have to break off and say ‘NO, no way’. But in the interest of not being violated, that seems a sacrifice that a potential victim has to be prepared to make.

  197. He's Spartacus says

    Jacob Schmidt (80)

    Because it’s demonstrably effective.

    P.S. To previous response. You can get actual statistics for sexual offences in Vancouver here..

    http://vancouver.ca/police/organization/planning-research-audit/district-statistics.html

    If you look at the data you can see that the decrease in reported sexual offending happened in the months before the launching of the Don’t Be That Guy campaign in Vancouver (July 2011). Levels for the months immediately following the launch are actually higher than those for the same periods in the previous year.

    If I was as innumerate as the Vancouver Police Dept. appear to be then I could use that data to argue that the campaign was demonstrably ineffective. However I’m not. None of the changes observed are statistically significant, so it wouldn’t have made any difference if the decrease in levels had occurred after the launch rather than before, and even if there was a statistically significant difference, it would be daft to say that it “demonstrated” the effectiveness of the campaign because there would be zillions of other reasons why levels could change.

    If you follow discussion of rape statistics you never learn anything at all about rape, but you get fascinating insights into the way that statistical factoids are generated and disseminated.

  198. summerblues says

    You think “softening the blow” is, what, sparing someone’s feelings by…disrepecting them..with lies. Do you lie to your partner, too? Do you mean to tell me that you can’t ..ah, never mind. I don’t support this harmful “cultural norm”. As far as I’m concerned it makes a mockery of the real concern of women’s anxiety and even fear of a man’s reaction when he is refused. This is something men need to work on but they can’t do it alone. This just adds to the confusion and it won’t stop the wrongly aggressive ones (men) who take a woman’s refusal as a personal attack.

    What does that video have to do with anything except possibly BDSM. The terms were spelled out, possibly even contractually, of what would happen and the woman had a “safe” word.

    Lies are lies, big and “little white”. This makes one untrustworthy since most folks can tell you’re lying and you honestly, the folks here, expect society to continue to endorse this damaging norm. Unbelievable. And it’s what I was afraid of: women, as well as men, don’t want to do any introspective work..to look within and at their own behaviors to see if they are contributing to the problem. And then make neccessary changes.

    And to the person who commented above about most rapes occurring between known folks (friends, relatives, those already welcomed and trusted)…I’ve read that, too. Stranger rape is the less common, known and trusted persons are the bigger perpetrators (sp?).

    Raging, uh yeah…we’re back to square one: everybody’s different so their definition of “enthusiastic consent” will be different from person to person. You’ve only repackaged it with a new name, kinda like pantyhose are now ridiculously “flesh colored tights”. And you dodged the question: how does this help the general population. My definition applies only to me and not to the cute blonde at the next table: ground rules are needed and the rest will vary. Excuse me..but I think this is much better real-world advice than telling men to ..yet again …read the body language of women who can’t seem to tell the truth.

  199. Adiabat says

    Ally (171):

    Because there are significant numbers of people who believe that in the absence of someone screaming NO!!!! and physically wrestling themselves free, consent can be assumed.

    No there isn’t. Neither are people ‘looking for loopholes’. (I really don’t know what has happened to you in this thread but you’ve suddenly become this weird caricature of someone arguing in bad faith. Normally you are much more level headed and rational).

    Most men, and women, are fully capable of following the currently existing scripts for sexual encounters. The latest impression I’m getting from the ‘enthusiastic consent’ crowd is that they are in the “Motte”: they think that the current scripts are fine but some people don’t follow them properly and this leads to rape.

    As far as I can make out among all the flip-flopping is that this means the vast majority of men need to make no change in their current behaviour. What they are doing is absolutely fine. Is this impression correct?

    This means that the problem, and ‘target audience’, is those men that are either inexperienced or who wilfully manipulate the scripts to rape with plausible deniability (in the form of inexperience).

    The inexperienced men aren’t going to benefit from the enthusiastic consent campaign, as they just don’t know what to look for, and saying that they should “just not even try to have sex” just means that they will remain permanently inexperienced. This will lead to bitterness among those who follow ‘enthusiastic consent’ and the rest will just ignore you to have a chance of a family, kids and a fulfilling life in general. What is needed is education about social cues and typical behaviour in a club/bar setting, essentially making them experienced. Yet when that is asked for the reply is often that it’s “not your job” and you don’t care about their inexperience.

    Those who manipulate the scripts to rape with plausible deniability are just going to ignore you.

    Jacob Schmidt (176):

    Do you really expect me to go through every unspoken cultural script that “coffee” is just one part of (and obviously isn’t the last)?

    Why not?

    Because I have neither the time nor the inclination. And I shouldn’t have to. Anyone arguing in good faith would’ve understood my original point, without the need for the faux-outrage.

    This is incoherent; you were complaining about changing the script, while admonishing Ally for not changing anything. You can’t argue at the same time that the change is both too great and that it does nothing.

    No. It is the proponents of ‘enthusiastic consent’ who are incoherent. Tamen’s links shows this. We are getting two sets of messages from proponents of ‘enthusiastic consent’. One is to push for a greater level of consent, requiring the reworking all existing cultural scripts, and has one set of problems. The other is that the current scripts are okay when followed, but that there are a few men not following them. This is the one that ‘does nothing’. I’m criticising both versions. Hence no incoherence on my part.

    It seems to me that the proponents on here don’t actually have a problem with me or the others criticising it, they have a problem with their fellows who are proposing something completely different. Please go to them, sort it out, and then get back to us. Maybe then we can have a sensible discussion.

  200. Michael Amherst says

    @karmakin 67

    I’m sorry but as a long-time lurker and fan of Ally’s work I had to respond to the offensive, arrant nonsense of this: ‘The effects that alcohol has on people..the blurry thinking, the bravado, and so on, these are all things that make perceiving consent basically impossible.’

    You want to know whether someone consents to have sex or not? You know what might work, regardless of how much you’ve had to drink? ASKING THEM. If they say no or aren’t sure or say yes and later say no, you stop. It’s pretty simple.

    As someone who was raped by a close friend after both of us had had a lot to drink I’ve been unfortunate enough to spend many uncomfortable years with the question of my own culpability. It didn’t help that the sexual harassment officer at my university said ‘You need to take some responsibility for getting so drunk,’ a comment I’m sure she would never have made to a woman, at least not without repercussions.

    I’d like to split that issue, and my own experience, down into two things.

    First, someone being drunk does not mean they should take some responsibility for what happened to them. If you say no to sex with someone, or they don’t bother about consent (more on that later) or they start having sex with you while you’re asleep that is rape. If they start having sex with you while you’re asleep or passed out and you’re asleep or passed out from drinking too much, that doesn’t make it your responsibility – no one HAS TO have sex with anyone else and, as Ally has brilliantly discussed before, doing something to someone when they can’t say yes or no is assault, or in this case rape. To somehow suggest that men should be pitied (I’d say women too, because I recognise that both men and women rape and both are victims, but the apologists here seem to be men) because they get drunk and then have to shoulder all the blame for an accusation of rape when the woman doesn’t is absurd. When I was 18 I had a girl over to my house who I later ended up dating. It was a school leaving party, we all get very drunk, she was barely able to stand and we had been kissing earlier in the evening. She indicated she wanted it to go further and I said no because I didn’t want to take advantage of her. She said that she wouldn’t mind me taking advantage of her but I still said no. Why? Because even though I was drunk I didn’t want to take advantage of the fact that she was so very drunk and mightn’t have wanted to in the cold light of day; I also didn’t want my first sexual experience to be one neither of us could remember or perhaps wanted, I also didn’t want to be ‘that guy’ and hope I had too much respect both for her and myself. Now you could claim that was patriarchal of me in someway to overrule her stated wish – although what would presuppose I wanted to have sex with someone in that situation; but most of all I think it’s about a basic level of decency and to have sex with her then would have been utterly selfish and objectified her rather than engaging with her as the person I knew and cared about, who in that situation was not herself.

    Now, as to consent. Ally mentioned above his dislike of talk of rape as violent and non-violent. I agree with him here and also think that drugging someone or having sex with them when they’re too drunk to reasonably consent still suggests physical force because a force has been exerted on them which renders them unable to respond, physically or mentally, as normal. Now they might have chosen to imbibe that alcohol but that doesn’t mean they’ve chosen for you to and for you to lose your moral faculties or observance of the rules of law. However, having said that I always had some sympathy for Ken Clarke’s controversial comments on types of rape. Obviously he phrased it terribly when talking about ‘serious’ and ‘non-serious’ rape. But to break the issue down: he was, at the time, campaigning for means to save money from the justice budget. To do this he suggested a greater fee discount for earlier guilty pleas and to some degree I think anything that encourages guilty pleas and prevents the further humiliation of a rape trial for the victim is to be welcomed. Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty spoke with some support for Clarke. She spoke of aggravated rape – the difference between date rape and being kidnapped and gang raped over 24hrs say. I still feel this slightly misses the issue, in that there are clearly further offences which have been committed there so a greater sentence would obviously be required to reflect those additional crimes. However, and I recognise this mightn’t be popular in some quarters, as a victim myself I’ve long wished that there was an offence of non-consensual sex as distinct from rape. This wouldn’t be about violence or the difference between stranger rape and knowledge of the perpetrator. I would want there to be a distinction between rape, where the perpetrator can be shown to have known that consent wasn’t given (including because the victim was drugged or asleep) and non-consensual, where consent was not demonstrably withheld but the perpetrator made no attempt to ascertain that it had been given.

    In my case, the friend who did it to me began touching me up while we shared a bed at a party. It was very late at night, we’d drunk an awful amount. I pretended to be asleep, which frankly I think is indistinguishable from being asleep – in that I wasn’t responding, save for the unfortunate physical response many male victims feel gives them no defence, and I lay there, pretending to be asleep, not moving hoping desperately he would stop. He didn’t. After a while it became clear no one could reasonably be asleep. I honestly don’t think I feared for my life or anything like that but I did fear for mine and his friendship; I did fear for looking inadequate and not knowing how to handle this; I did fear for looking stupid in front of someone older and more mature than me; I did fear for the consequences for me and his girlfriend, whom I was to live with next year and who frankly I’d have liked to date myself; I did fear for all the repercussions were it to become a thing and get out. Saying no, as many victims testify, just didn’t seem possible. I also felt physically incapable of speaking. Now, after all these years I think his initial behaviour did constitute rape, because I was asleep, as far as he was concerned, and he acted without consent. I think later it becomes more problematic because I didn’t stop it, I didn’t say no. I don’t believe any court would convict for rape on that basis and I think, on balance, they’d be right. However, at no stage did he seek my consent; everything he did was designed to make things as murky as possible; at no stage was it about me at all; he acted entirely unilaterally. To my mind that warrants a charge of non-consensual sex. I learnt, six months later, that he’d done exactly the same thing to a woman. Party, lot of alcohol, shared room, touching her up while she was asleep, all done so that her ability to stop it or withhold consent was made difficult. Sadly, I was relieved – because it suggested a modus operandi or at the very least a consistent thoughtlessness about consent. Now some of you may feel that people shouldn’t be tarnished or punished for being thoughtless about consent. I don’t think they should necessarily be called rapists but I think they do deserve punishment and do deserve social approbation. If you’re in doubt and if you care about the other person at all then you’d want to know they were happy to have sex with you wouldn’t you?

  201. mildlymagnificent says

    You think “softening the blow” is, what, sparing someone’s feelings by…disrepecting them..with lies.

    Just read that link about conversational refusals. It is normal – to find polite ways to get out of something people can’t or don’t want to agree to. There are some cultures, not English speaking ones, where people never, ever, say no to anything. But they still find ways to convey their meaning.

    If it’s “disrespectful” to use euphemisms to say no – to anything – how does a woman say no to sexual advances where she has a non-zero risk of being shouted at or assaulted if she makes her refusal unequivocally clear by saying No!

    Sometimes the risk is non-zero even when the woman has backup from others. See this comment on the mythcommunication post. http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/mythcommunication-its-not-that-they-dont-understand-they-just-dont-like-the-answer/#comment-11623

  202. Copyleft says

    “Something I’ve noticed about consent debates is that opposition to feminist positions only ever seems to come from men.”

    And it didn’t occur to that that’s because initiation and determining consent is 100% the man’s responsibility? Because women never do the initiating, and have zero interest in changing that little inequality?

  203. says

    The inexperienced men aren’t going to benefit from the enthusiastic consent campaign, as they just don’t know what to look for…

    Wow, did someone say “soft bigotry of low expectations?” Why the FUCK are you so determined to oppose and ridicule an effort to help men make better decisions and avoid hurting other people? I certainly don’t see you offering a better alternative solution — that’s probably because you really don’t give a shit about helping men solve or avoid real problems.

    Excuse me while I belabor the obvius YET AGAIN: The EC campaign is based on experience, and sharing the lessons of experience with inexperienced people does indeed benefit the inexperienced people: first by reminding them what to look for, and second by reminding them of a basic moral principle (don’t fuck someone if you’re not really sure he/she wants to be fucked) that is more important then their immediate emotional needs.

    Adiabat, your statement is not only false, it’s so contrary to so much obvious common sense that I, for one, am forced to conclude you really are arguing in bad faith. This is stuff I started learning when I was TWELVE ferfucksake, and you keep on pretending it’s a totally alien concept that men can never grasp? What kind of squalid deprived environment did you “grow up” in? Did your elders scoff at the idea of teaching you how to behave better?

  204. karmakin says

    @Michael; Err…I’m actually a supporter of enthusiastic consent at a very basic level. I think that people should make sure that the person they’re with ARE participating on an on-going basis, and that does constitute enthusiastic consent. In fact, most of us here are. As Adiabat put it, we all agree with the “Motte” definition. Most reasonable people do. What we disagree with is when people venture too far away from that, especially in a unilateral way.

    That level does cover people who are passed out or asleep by the way. That’s obvious to decent people. Note that when I’m attacking binge drinking…again…(how many times do I have to say it?..I’m not talking about the victims. I’m talking about the attackers. Who, if it’s a widespread problem, make bad decisions based off of alcohol.

    But the notion that some who is in any way, shape or form intoxicated, even if they’re still an active, willing, participant their obvious enthusiastic consent is now invalid, quite frankly, is a very broad statement. It turns a lot of people and situations into rapists, even if the other person doesn’t feel that way.

    @All And before someone says..STRAWMAN!!!..here’s a comment I saw on Reddit yesterday from the Feminism subreddit..which is quite the reasonable place aside from some of the mods.

    “When you are intoxicated, you cannot provide consent! It doesn’t matter if date rape drugs were present or not. “Ohio University’s policy on sexual assault dictates that a person is unable to consent if he or she is ‘asleep or otherwise mentally or physically incapacitated, whether due to alcohol, drugs or some other condition.'” The jury may have ruled against her, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t rape. If she woke up the next morning and felt violated and that she would not have agreed if sober – especially if it is enough so to report it – then it is rape. Period.”

    That’s what people are pushing back against.

  205. JT says

    Did your elders scoff at the idea of teaching you how to behave better?(Raging)

    Considering the language that you use when talking with other people that is a question you might first want to answer yourself.

  206. JT says

    And it didn’t occur to that that’s because initiation and determining consent is 100% the man’s responsibility? (Copyleft)

    Absolutes are not helpful. 90% of the time or more is more accurate. I know a few women who have no problem initiating. A rare and wonderful change from the typical. :)

  207. karmakin says

    I should clarify on that quote. The objection isn’t about someone being truly incapacitated. It’s about the idea that if one isn’t entirely sober then one is incapacitated.

  208. says

    …That’s what people are pushing back against.

    So you admit that you, and others like you, are in fact pushing back against a basic principle of common sense and decency? Because that’s exactly what the principle you quoted is: a common-sense rule for dealing with someone who is so drunk or high that one can’t be sure of his/her ability to give meaningful consent. Nothing more, nothing less, and certainly nothing that I, or my father, or his father, have never heard before. If it’s that level of basic decency and common sense that you’re pushing back against, then you can go to hell — you clearly don’t have anyone’s best interests at heart, so we have no reason to include you in any conversation about ethics or behavior.

  209. says

    I should clarify on that quote. The objection isn’t about someone being truly incapacitated. It’s about the idea that if one isn’t entirely sober then one is incapacitated.

    That’s not what the quote was about. Didn’t you read it before you chose to paste it here?

  210. JT says

    a common-sense rule for dealing with someone who is so drunk or high that one can’t be sure of his/her ability to give meaningful consent.(Raging)

    But what if you are both equally in that state but one claims rape against the other? Who would be guilty?

  211. Michael Amherst says

    @karmaki 218

    And I was taking issue with this,in relation to the perpetrator being inebriated, on two levels: ‘The effects that alcohol has on people..the blurry thinking, the bravado, and so on, these are all things that make perceiving consent basically impossible.’ One, that there seems to me an implicit abnegation of some responsibility on behalf of the perpetrator and the reason I say this is because, two, asking someone whether they want to have sex and listening to their answer is not so very hard to do even after consuming a large amount of alcohol. I would suggest that anyone who has had so much drink that they can neither ask that question nor understand or hear the answer will either be incapable of having sex or will certainly not be able to testify with any certainty the next day that they did have consent should someone make a complaint against them.

  212. Michael Amherst says

    @copyleft 215

    Links or evidence for this would be grand. I know plenty of women who initiate and determine consent and plenty more who hate the social constructs that makes them feel transgressive or slutty for daring to be the ones to approach or guy or suggest/initiate sex.

  213. Michael Amherst says

    @copyleft 215

    Apologies, couldn’t quote you: “And it didn’t occur to that that’s because initiation and determining consent is 100% the man’s responsibility? Because women never do the initiating, and have zero interest in changing that little inequality?”

    Links or evidence for this would be grand. I know plenty of women who initiate and determine consent and plenty more who hate the social constructs that makes them feel transgressive or slutty for daring to be the ones to approach or guy or suggest/initiate sex.

  214. says

    Because those who believe that women also need to be targetted end up running the gauntlet of scorn and anger of those who accuse them of blaming the victim.

    That’s because many such people say a lot of stupid shit that tends (intentionally or not) to add up to “if you break even ONE of these rules, it will be your fault if you get raped.” And because ACTUAL RAPISTS echo such advice to justify their own violent acts.

    But i speak as the father of a teenage girl and i make no apology for the fact that i will do everything in my power to make sure my daughter is streetwise.And that includes educating her of the possible consequences of either getting off her face with no -one arround to look after her and/or getting into any situation where something bad could happen to her and where there’s no independent evidence to back her up if she subsequently made an allegation to the police that something bad happened to her.

    This is a good thing for a parent to do, and I respect your standing up for your daughter’s interests. But here’s a rather rude hypothetical question: if your daughter came home saying she’d been sexually harassed or assaulted, would you take her side, or would you start questioning her about what she had been doing that might have got her into trouble? And if her assailant were to say “Yes I did her, but she was drunk,” whose side would you take in that dispute? I know those are some crass questions to ask of a parent, but I ask them because your response would go a long way toward determining whether you end up fighting rape culture, or (intentionally or not) reinforcing it at your daughter’s expense.

    That’s reality and young women in particular have got to have that drummed into them.

    That sounds like a common-sense precaution — but such advice also tends to reinforce established bigotry, by constantly conditioning the targets of bigotry to never do anything to make the bigots notice you and get angry. Lots of black Americans were raised with such “drumming,” and told to never rock the boat, never stand up to a white man, never get uppity, never do anything that might cause some moron to want to lynch someone…and even though such “drumming” made sense at the individual-family level, it only reinforced the oppression of a whole ethnic group by conditioning whole generations into passivity and surrender.

    (Here’s another hypothetical: what if a bunch of guys in your area started harassing and assaulting women who showed liberal or feminist tendencies? Would you start advising your daughter to never go near feminism or liberalism?)

  215. says

    But what if you are both equally in that state but one claims rape against the other? Who would be guilty?

    Yep, looking for loopholes and “grey areas”…

  216. Gjenganger says

    @JT 224

    But what if you are both equally in that state but one claims rape against the other? Who would be guilty?

    With respect, there are several different questions here, and it does not look good to mix them up. If your partner is too drunk to decide what she is doing, you should leave her alone. If you are equally drunk yourself, you should still leave her alone. Now I quite agree that we need to set the limit for ‘too drunk’ at some realistic level, and that the whole thing starts to break down if both parties are so drunk that you cannot determine who is abusing whom. But my first point still stands.

  217. says

    I wish people would use the terms “campaigns targeted at perpetrators” and “campaigns targeted at victims” rather than “campaigns targeted at men” and “campaign targeted at women”. I also wish the contents of said campaigns would reflect this.

  218. Adiabat says

    Mr Bee:

    I certainly don’t see you offering a better alternative solution

    Read post 212 again. I did exactly that. Maybe when you were twelve you should’ve concentrated more on learning to read and less on adult sexual dynamics.

    Karmarkin (218):

    As Adiabat put it, we all agree with the “Motte” definition. Most reasonable people do. What we disagree with is when people venture too far away from that, especially in a unilateral way.

    Pretty much. However, even though I disagree with the “Bailey” definition for the reasons above, I can at least see why it’s worthy of a (in my view harmful) campaign if you do agree with it. I don’t see the point of a campaign based on the “Motte” definition.

    Yes, people should get consent, but people know that they should get consent. Without raising the level of consent required, as in the “Bailey” definition, the campaign basically tells most men to do nothing different than what they are already doing. For men who have genuine trouble correctly recognizing consent it seems to essentially say “make sure you have consent”, which, as far as I can tell, is just pointing out again the problem these men have. If a man already (incorrectly but honestly) believes he has consent then saying “make sure you have consent” is not a solution and it’s not helpful.

    I’ve seen some examples of consent given by proponents (usually some variation of waiting for the woman to say “do me! DO ME NOW!!!”) but they are usually ridiculous and out of touch with what actually happens in these situations, and are straying into “Bailey definition” territory, as waiting for such a response is in effect raising the standard of consent required. I must say the entire campaign seems horribly confused and messy.

  219. JT says

    Now I quite agree that we need to set the limit for ‘too drunk’ at some realistic level, and that the whole thing starts to break down if both parties are so drunk that you cannot determine who is abusing whom(Gjen)

    But the problem starts when possibly one of the two participants(the next morning) decides they were raped. I know in my youth I had sex while drunk and my partner was drunk. So drunk we would have definately lost our drivers licenses if we were driving.

    @Raging

    Thats life, grey areas. Its not all black and white buddy. You are exactly the type of individual I dont want teaching my kids. I hope that isnt your vocation.

  220. says

    …the campaign basically tells most men to do nothing different than what they are already doing.

    Given what a lot of men really are already doing, and being excused for it by those around them, I’d say this statement is false. Besides, just because “most men” are already in compliance with a rule, doesn’t magically make the rule wrong or unnecessary. If a majority of people don’t steal, does that mean we shouldn’t bother telling people not to steal?

    …the whole thing starts to break down if both parties are so drunk that you cannot determine who is abusing whom(Gjen)

    Yet another blatant bad-faith argument. No, the mere presence of complicating factors or more complex cases does not cause a principle to “break down.” That’s just another lame excuse to oppose a principle and ignore its merits.

    But the problem starts when possibly one of the two participants(the next morning) decides they were raped. I know in my youth I had sex while drunk and my partner was drunk. So drunk we would have definately lost our drivers licenses if we were driving.

    In other words, you did some stupid dangerous shit in your youth, which could have got you in a lot of trouble, and now you’re trying to excuse it instead of admitting it was wrong and could have got one or both of you in trouble. I did my share of stupid dangerous shit too, but I’m not using it to attack a perfectly sensible principle on perfectly non-sensible grounds.

  221. karmakin says

    lol Bee even after I mentioned to make absolutely sure to specify what I was talking about was the whole concept that ANY amount of intoxication revoked consent you take it at the worst case scenario.

    Yeah. I think you’re just trolling at this point. To be fair, that’s all I think you’re ever doing but whatever. The idea that if my wife has a drink or two and I have sex with her that I raped her…that’s beyond comprehension. But that’s what that quote is saying. And I think that’s entirely unrealistic…most people do. But that’s what REAL people out there are advocating…or at least they say they are.

    The reality is that most of it IS just trolling at this point. Maybe we should stop feeding the trolls The feminist movement unfortunately has a massive troll problem. You’re just trying to “rustle jimmies”…in SRS speak (which is actually the root of movements like Atheist+)…you’re not serious. You have no clue what you’re talking about. You’re just trying to make people angry.

    So yeah. I’m done feeding the trolls. Ally, I hope eventually you realize you’re being trolled as well and figure out that what people say they want and what they actual want don’t always line up.

  222. Copyleft says

    JT @220: Fair point. I withdraw the “100%” and reduce it to “the overwhelming majority.”

  223. ildi says

    Since Tamen brought up the NISVS in this thread, I thought I’d mention that David Futrelle got a response from the CDC on data interpretation that he posted about yesterday at manboobz: CDC: MRA claims that “40% of rapists are women” are based on bad math and misuse of our data

  224. says

    And since ildi brought up David Futrelle I’ll just mention that David Futrelle wrote this:

    I wouldn’t classify made-to-penetrate as rape because I think it makes sense to use the term rape to refer only to sexual assault in which the victim is penetrated.

  225. says

    Gyatso @55:

    I misrembered and you are correct. The data collection for the NISVS 2010 was from January 2010 through December 2010 and NOT through the year 2009 as I mistakenly recalled. That’s what one gets for trusting one’s memory.

  226. johngreg says

    Raging Bee, I am exhausted by your anger — I mean, if I were as constantly and as consistently angry over everything as you are, I’d be far too pooped to enthusiastically pucker … I mean, post. Do you ever post something that doesn’t intentionally insult other people and accuse them of being stupid, or evil, or summat? And the burdensome weight of being so deeply convinced of your inerrancy must be daunting. Sheesh.

    Anyway, your anger has quite obviously and severely skewed your judgement, your reading comprehension, and your understanding of what those of us who do not wholly support an undefined concept of enthusiastic consent are saying. For your health, perhaps you should have some of whatever best calms you down, take some time off from shouting at and insulting everyone, and think, just a wee bit, about what people are trying to say.

    To the blanket supporters of enthusiastic consent, those of us who have been accused of looking for loopholes and playing intellectual games are doing no such thing. We are simply asking for some clear and unambiguous definition of what enthusiastic consent is actually supposed to mean; how it functions; how (within so many cultures and societies that do not allow for women in particular and men to a lesser degree to freely express their sexual desires) it can be made manifest — we’re not demanding a legally binding piece of legislation, just something beyond either You’ll know it when you see it, or I know what it is and if you don’t you’re a rape aplogist.

    Response so far: mute.

  227. summerblues says

    mildly: “If it’s “disrespectful” to use euphemisms to say no – to anything – how does a woman say no to sexual advances where she has a non-zero risk of being shouted at or assaulted if she makes her refusal unequivocally clear by saying No!

    Sometimes the risk is non-zero even when the woman has backup from others”

    Isn’t this called “shifting the goalposts”?

  228. abear says

    If you are going to allow someone to rape you because the risk of getting yelled at or assaulted is non-zero then isn’t it likely you will have a non-zero chance even if you go along with it?
    If you are not going to protest why shouldn’t he think he’s entitled to come after you for more?
    If you stand up to an unwanted advance chances are you will stop it.
    Crystal Clear non-consent when warranted is in my opinion a good thing.

  229. mildlymagnificent says

    Isn’t this called “shifting the goalposts”?

    Nup. I only raised it as an additional consideration which I hadn’t mentioned before. Mainly because it really does move the conversation off into more generalised harassment territory rather than specifically negotiating sexual consent. But it’s always there in the background when women consider exactly how they can convey lack of interest – will this bloke be one of those who blow up and make a scene or will he just move along. “Thanks but no thanks” can be conveyed in any number of ways but it’s not as easy and simple as it should be. And one of the big reasons for that is fear of verbal abuse or physical assault.

    If you are going to allow someone to rape you because the risk of getting yelled at or assaulted is non-zero then isn’t it likely you will have a non-zero chance even if you go along with it?

    No. It’s not just about being polite. It’s about playing for time. In the hope that – a friend will come back from the loo/ the dance floor, or you’ll catch a waiter’s or bartender’s eye, or the person you’re talking to will tire of it and move away, or someone else will interrupt, or you’ll summon up the courage to pick on someone you vaguely recognise, even a complete stranger, and enthusiastically grab them and bring them into the conversation/ physical space, or you’ll get some other chance of getting out of the interaction before things get out of hand.

    If you’re at home and your dinner or party guest turns out to be one of these, then you have to be able not only to refuse but to get them out of there without a physical or sexual assault. Calling the neighbours or the cops may be the only option once it’s obvious that it won’t work with words alone.

  230. says

    mildlymagnificient,

    wouldn’t the same problems exist if the one person asked and the other person rejected him or her? I do not see how this is a point in favor of an enthusiastic consent formula.

  231. JT says

    No. It’s not just about being polite. It’s about playing for time. In the hope that – a friend will come back from the loo/ the dance floor, or you’ll catch a waiter’s or bartender’s eye, or the person you’re talking to will tire of it and move away, or someone else will interrupt, or you’ll summon up the courage to pick on someone you vaguely recognise, even a complete stranger, and enthusiastically grab them and bring them into the conversation/ physical space, or you’ll get some other chance of getting out of the interaction before things get out of hand.(Mild)

    Or you stand on your spot and say no. Because if its going to come you make sure they know what their in for. The rapist doesn’t want a fight, they want a patsy. Go down swinging is what I tell my kids because sometimes you will go down and the only one you will answer to is the one in the mirror.

  232. mildlymagnificent says

    Or you stand on your spot and say no. Because if its going to come you make sure they know what their in for. The rapist doesn’t want a fight, they want a patsy. Go down swinging is what I tell my kids because sometimes you will go down and the only one you will answer to is the one in the mirror.

    That also comes into “playing for time”.

    Go down swinging is not what most people volunteer for as their always and everywhere first response to impolite, unwanted or intrusive interaction.

    Most of us try to a) avoid being rude, b) avoid being unnecessarily aggressive c) establish our boundaries politely and firmly. Most people wait a while to see whether their resistance to boundary testing is respected or violated.

    “Thanks but no thanks” with a smile can move to “Never in a million years” with a frown then to “Get out of my space, you creep!” in whatever words one chooses with whatever expression or gestures one chooses. In the meantime, the target can manoeuvre themselves into a better position to physically get away from Creepy McCreepypants.

    And if you’re in your own home with such a person, the go-down-swinging approach will result in being downed as often as not. My own view is that people should learn that it’s better to leave an unwanted guest in your home and get out yourself rather than try to get a persistent and potentially violent person to leave while you stay. Also it’s much easier to get a quick response from the police, or security if you’re in college accommodation, if you tell them that that’s what you’ve done and you’re afraid to return.

  233. Paul says

    @228

    You can rant and rave all you like but some of us prefer to deal with reality. And reality tells us that we live in a far from perfect world.And that it’s beholden on those of us who’re parents to try and equip our children with the skills to survive in this far from perfect world.

  234. JT says

    @246

    And if you’re in your own home with such a person, the go-down-swinging approach will result in being downed as often as not.(mild)

    Youre right. 50/50 they fuck you or you fuck them up. Somehow I think the passive way changes the odds greatly in the favor of the perp.
    We all have our ways of dealing with things. If yours works for you then all good. I teach my kids a different approach based on my experiences.

  235. mildlymagnificent says

    Somehow I think the passive way changes the odds greatly in the favor of the perp.

    I think you and I might have different usages of the word passive.

    From my perspective, actively keeping yourself safe is not passive.

  236. mildlymagnificent says

    JT

    Hah! I just realised while I was out shopping.

    I must have spent far too much time teaching grammar and writing, with more than passing emphasis on active voice versus passive voice, so that I missed other constructions.

    You’ve been talking about aggressive versus passive attitudes.

  237. says

    We are simply asking for some clear and unambiguous definition of what enthusiastic consent is actually supposed to mean…

    You wouldn’t have a problem if you understood what the words “enthusiastic” and “consent” actually mean. How hard is that to either look up or figure out? Which of those two words are you having trouble with?

    Since this seems to be International Belbor The Bloody Obvious For An MRA Month, I’ll try and explain yet another thing I shouldn’t have to: “enthusiastic consent” is the better alternative to “non-enthusiastic consent.” If you want to have sex with someone, you should be sure he/she actually WANTS to have sex with you, as opposed to just caving because he/she is falling-down drunk, or feels pressured, obligated, trapped, or unable to say no without causing a huge scene. If you only have sex with people who show enthusiasm for it, you’ll get better sex, and you’ll be less likely to regret it afterword, or get charged with rape by someone who “consented” for the wrong reasons.

    And it’s really not that hard to tell when the person you’re talking to is enthusiastic or not: just look at her face, instead of her tits, when you’re talking to her.

  238. says

    Okay, Paul, tell us what I said that didn’t acknoledge reality. (You did catch the bit where I said you were doing the right thing, right? Was that the part that’s divorced from reality?)

  239. says

    Response so far: mute.

    That’s a fucking lie and you know it. Look at the number of comments on this thread — we’ve been responding to your questions and assertions, and all you’ve done is keep on repeating the same things over and over, no matter how many times they’re already addressed.

    This is typical MRA behavior: repeat the same idiotic pet peeve over and over, ignore all of the responses, then insist that no one is responding to your concerns. It’s just another relentness childish cry for constant attention.

  240. johngreg says

    Raging Bee (Aging Boggart / Ailing Balrog?), you are actually doing a very fine job of supporting and proving my claim that your anger has skewed your judgement, your reading comprehension, and your understanding of what those of us who do not wholly support an undefined concept of enthusiastic consent are saying. Carry on, fizzy firebrand, carry on.

    For the record, I am most specifically not an MRA. I neither support nor condone nor agree with the general activities, ideologies, or online sites that are defined as MRA/MRM. And, neither am I a feminist. I’m an equal rights humanist: people first; most socially/culturally determined individuations second, or third, or beyond.

    The phrase enthusiastic consent requires definition of some kind beyond the individual definitions of the individual words within the phrase. Such is the nature of any English phrase, always: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. That is both the beauty, and the challenge, of the English language.

    Perhaps it is you who might benefit from a remedial course in English usage.

  241. says

    …you are actually doing a very fine job of supporting and proving my claim that your anger has skewed your judgement, your reading comprehension, and…

    Protip: you can’t keep bluffing after you’ve been called.

    I’m an equal rights humanist: people first; most socially/culturally determined individuations second, or third, or beyond.

    A totally pretentious and empty statement. What does that mean — you pretend all people are alike and ignore the differences that affect how they are treated? Please. I small the same brown air from (half out of the) closet racists.

    The phrase enthusiastic consent requires definition of some kind beyond the individual definitions of the individual words within the phrase.

    a) No, it really doesn’t; and b) I already gave you a definition, @253, and you ignored it.

  242. bugmaster says

    Ok, so unless I, being a man, obtain enthusiastic consent (as opposed to the regular kind) before engaging in any kind of a sexual activity with a woman, I’m a rapist. However, no one seems to know what “enthusiastic consent” means, although everyone insists that this ineffable meaning is obvious. Raging Bee comes closest, by defining it as “you should be sure he/she actually WANTS to have sex with you”, but, not being telepathic, I can’t apply this definition in practice.

    A while ago, I had a conversation with a feminist who stated outright that, due to the gendered power imbalance in our society, any sexual activity between a man and a woman, which was not explicitly initiated by the woman, is rape. Is this something that the feminists on this thread would agree with ? Looking at this idea purely from the social engineering point of view, I cannot deny that, if everyone adopted it, it would be quite effective at shifting the power balance toward women.

  243. Copyleft says

    “Raging” Bee is well named… and what happened to the rule outlawing sweeping negative generalizations toward entire groups, such as RB and Carnation regularly (even compulsively) offer toward MRAs?

    (“MRA,” of course, being defined as “anyone who disagrees with, or even questions, the fact-free assertions of RagingBee and Carnation.)

  244. says

    I have a really hard time with the simple idiocy of some posters here – people like Gj, abiadat, Paul, JT. Where did these people get their moral codes from? Are their genes dredged up from the shallow end of the Neothandal gene pool?

    Someone please tell me such people aren’t over 15 years old? If this is what passes for adult male conversation, I want no part of it.

    I want no part of someone (Paul, for instance) who says things like if a woman says she’s been raped, it’s the lack of ‘independent evidence’ that worries him, as if millions of women go around accusing men of rape because they really, really want to experience being dragged through the mud, having their character assassinated, their life history put on display for ridicule, all sorts of bad crap?? Like they really want this just to falsely accuse someone of rape?

    What the hell Paul, it’s not enough for you somehow that a women says ‘I’ve been raped, and that guy did it!” What the fuck do you want, a crowd of witness’s filming the damm event?? (note: here in the USA, even if the poor woman does have video evidence, taken by the damm perps no less, she’s STILL dragged through the mud!!)

    Such posters as I’ve mentioned above appear (from reading their posts here at least) nothing more than boys who seem to have just discovered testosterone’s effects, nearly pathologically insecure (they can’t deal with asking for consent?? They freak if rejected?? They hang in bars waiting for a woman to get drunk enough to abuse??)

    Such people are an embarrassment to the male gender – they seem to completely lack empathy. Apparently they have no idea that women are people, not sex toys. Totally objectifying women by phrases like ‘get some sex’ – damm that pisses me off. Get a clue dud-bros – no body owes you crap!!! Start treating women – you know, actual REAL people – as people, not as a potential sex toy.

    They all sound like actual (not potential – but actual) rapists to me, and now their all worried that someone’s gonna keep an eye on their bar-hopping pickup plans??

    How bout this – get a damm clue first, then get a real life, THEN learn that women aren’t your toys put on earth to give you pleasure, learn to pay attention to what other people say, learn to care about people as people – then, and only then, you might find someone who actually thinks they’d enjoy sex with you.

    Otherwise, fuck off and please don’t reproduce, we here in the USA have enough problems with the damm theocrats trying to take over the country without you cave men coming out of the woodwork as well.

    PS – thanks VERY much for your posts Raging Bee, and your patience to put up with these crap examples of humanity.

  245. JT says

    Someone please tell me such people aren’t over 15 years old? If this is what passes for adult male conversation, I want no part of it.(tinyal)

    Adult suggestion……………..dont partake then. Oh, wait, like Bee you need to vent. Have at it. :)

  246. Beaker says

    I’m not sure what “feminists” are talking about when talking about enthusiastic consent. Here is how I would approach the issue, and how I have seen sex educators approach the issue.

    Consent: Means your partner is able to make a decision on whether or not to have sex, Your partner is not coerced, is not threatened, is not forced, is not drunk or incapacitated. Consent does not mean avoiding a “no”, it means actively obtaining a “yes”. You do not need to be a mind reader, you probably have a mouth and vocal chords. Your partner too. You can use them.

    Enthusiastic consent: your partner is participating with you in your sexual play. Your partner is returning your kisses, actively engaging in the sexual act, embracing you, moaning, etc. Your partner is not lying down, looking the other way, zoning out and thinking about how he or she is going to cook the turnips. If at some point during sex, your partner seems to be zoning out, not engaging anymore, it means he or she is probably not enthusiastic anymore. Again, you do not need to be a mind reader, there is nothing wrong with asking at that point.

    Personally, I don’t agree that enthusiastic consent is always a necessity, although it is desirable. One-night stands: enthusiastic consent is absolutely necessary. Sex workers, consent might not be enthusiastic, although it would be nice. But everyone can have a shitty day at work. Long-term relationship, it might be that you want to have sex and your partner is not really into it, but will agree anyway. Presumably again, your communication lines are good, you know about each other’s needs, you might not always have the same sex drive at all times, and think that relationships mean giving sometimes and this may be part of it in yours. As long as the consent is freely given, that is your thing.

    In all these things, communicate, communicate, communicate. Be aware of what you want, find out what your partner wants by watching for his or her reactions and asking. Communication means both verbal and non-verbal.

    Regarding alcohol: tipsy is fine, drunk is not, and fucking someone who is passed out means you’re a sociopath. If you are longer-term partners, drunk might be okay. Presumably you have a good communication in your relationship and you know each others needs and wants (heck, passed out might be okay if you have consented beforehand and know this was what you were getting into). If you’re not sure whether the person you want to have sex with is able to consent or would consent to what you are going to do, walk away, do not proceed. It may be a bummer that you didn’t have sex, but it’s not the end of the world, there is always another time (though not necessarily with that guy or gal, sometimes life sucks).

    My $0.02

  247. mildlymagnificent says

    bugmaster

    I had a conversation with a feminist who stated outright that, due to the gendered power imbalance in our society, any sexual activity between a man and a woman, which was not explicitly initiated by the woman, is rape. Is this something that the feminists on this thread would agree with ?

    This is a bit old-fashioned – I know, I know, that sounds terrible but it’s sort of the right word. This wasn’t such a bad construction back in the 70s and earlier. Marital rape was outlawed for the first time in the world in 1976 in South Australia, and it took decades to be outlawed in the rest of Australia and in most other countries. It’s still legal in many places even though most of those places have kinda, sorta signed on to the UN convention on the rights of women.

    Take the fact that most of the sexual activity in the world happens between married couples. Now add in the proviso that, regardless of the circumstances or the particulars of any incident, the woman has no right to object or complain or obtain any redress when that activity was unwanted (or painful or cruel or humiliating or initiated under threat of other violence) or anything else that qualifies as rape. Looked at through those non-rosy glasses, it’s not so hard to take the next step and say that, if a woman’s consent or refusal means nothing and all sexual freedom is exclusively male, then all such sexual activity could be rape. It’s not really a very big further step to claim that it should be classified as rape because women have no right to refuse.

    But, as I said, that’s well away from the mainstream feminist view now, and it was only a sideshow 40 years ago anyway.

    They all sound like actual (not potential – but actual) rapists to me, and now their all worried that someone’s gonna keep an eye on their bar-hopping pickup plans??

    I’d strongly disagree with that. Remember, according to the best research we have so far, only 6% of men are repeat rapists and only 12-15% have ever raped anyone.

    I tend to the view that most men advancing these arguments are not trying to erase the guilt of being a rapist. The big issue for the majority of men, and the reason why so many are so passionate about it, is shame.

    They’ve laughed at rape jokes galore. They’ve joined in with their mates admiring a bloke who coerces women into sex. They’ve joined in with general slut-shaming of women who’ve been raped. They’ve supported rapists. They probably have a close friend or brother or neighbour or workmate who is clearly a rapist by the criteria we’re talking about.

    They’ve failed to support women they know who have had bad experiences. They’ve walked past women who were clearly having trouble with men who had them cornered when they could easily have intervened. They’ve failed to criticise men who brag about scoring with a drunken woman. They don’t know how to deal with someone they like or admire or love who is, in fact, a rapist. They’d much rather pretend that he is still a good guy when it’s obvious he’s not, and they know they’re partly complicit in letting him think his behaviour is OK.

    They have failed as bystanders. So they argue and argue about definitions and provisos and what ifs and hypotheticals. Anything. Anything rather than deal with the hot flush of shame at having done the wrong thing and having failed to do the right thing.

  248. mildlymagnificent says

    Oh dear, numbers wrong.

    Depending on which surveys you use, the proportions of men admitting to ever having raped someone were between 6 and 13% and, for both groups, two thirds admitted to multiple rapes.

  249. mildlymagnificent says

    Absolutely.

    I don’t know anyone who doesn’t regret that moment when they didn’t say something or do something important. I’ve done a lot of things that have helped other people a lot. I’ve taken on responsibilities I didn’t want for the sake of others. I’ve also ignored racist jokes, and not-even-intended-to-be-funny racist remarks, at times. I’ve occasionally let down friends or relatives in things that mattered to them. I’ve stood back and said nothing when I could have said or done something when someone’s been unkind, or worse, to someone else.

    None of us is perfect. All of us could have done better. All of us could have done more.

  250. says

    tinyal,

    I have a really hard time with the simple idiocy of some posters here – people like Gj, abiadat, Paul, JT.

    I have not read everyone on your list with great attention, but at least Adiabat is articulate, well read,and precise in his replies. Describing him as stupid is just laughable.

    Are their genes dredged up from the shallow end of the Neothandal gene pool?

    Average cranial capacity in Neantherthals was above our average. So probably?

    I want no part of someone (Paul, for instance) who says things like if a woman says she’s been raped, it’s the lack of ‘independent evidence’ that worries him, as if millions of women go around accusing men of rape because they really, really want to experience being dragged through the mud, having their character assassinated, their life history put on display for ridicule, all sorts of bad crap?? Like they really want this just to falsely accuse someone of rape?What the hell Paul, it’s not enough for you somehow that a women says ‘I’ve been raped, and that guy did it!”

    In your whole response this is the closest you came to making a point… and it is not close at all. Trying to put your thought in a form that actually resembles a point, I would come up with something like:

    We should believe woman (why do you focus on women, men can be victims of rape as well) who accuse someone of rape because they would not lie about it. The reason being that this would result in public ridicule and their experience being dragged through the mud.

    First the amount of public ridicule is certainly up to debate. The procedures are certainly unpleasant. The question arises if certain circumstances like the accuser being a sociopath will make the ridicule unimportant.

    Second their experience being dragged to the mud? If they were not raped and lied about it, what experience are they supposed to have had?

    What the fuck do you want, a crowd of witness’s filming the damm event?? (note: here in the USA, even if the poor woman does have video evidence, taken by the damm perps no less, she’s STILL dragged through the mud!!)

    I want sufficient evidence for the conviction, as with any other crime. If someone reports me as thief, then I want the court to look for evidence that I am one as well.

    Such people are an embarrassment to the male gender – they seem to completely lack empathy.

    They do not embarrass me. Nobody but myself can do that. People are individuals, no actions of someone else of their gender should be used to judge them.

    Get a clue dud-bros – no body owes you crap!!!

    Find them claiming otherwise. In fact I challenge you to find any MRA friendly person commenting on this blog who thinks that someone owes them sex. If there are such people, they make up a small percentage.

  251. johngreg says

    tinyal, to you is bequeathed first prize in misrepresenting, mis-stating, and certainly misunderstanding what people have been posting in this thread. Bravo! You’re even better at it than the Bee.

  252. johngreg says

    Beaker said (http://freethoughtblogs.com/hetpat/2013/10/26/college-rape-and-the-importance-of-measuring-success/#comment-14103):

    Enthusiastic consent: your partner is participating with you in your sexual play. Your partner is returning your kisses, actively engaging in the sexual act, embracing you, moaning, etc. Your partner is not lying down, looking the other way, zoning out and thinking about how he or she is going to cook the turnips. If at some point during sex, your partner seems to be zoning out, not engaging anymore, it means he or she is probably not enthusiastic anymore. Again, you do not need to be a mind reader, there is nothing wrong with asking at that point…. One-night stands: enthusiastic consent is absolutely necessary. Sex workers, consent might not be enthusiastic, although it would be nice. But everyone can have a shitty day at work. Long-term relationship, it might be that you want to have sex and your partner is not really into it, but will agree anyway. Presumably again, your communication lines are good, you know about each other’s needs, you might not always have the same sex drive at all times, and think that relationships mean giving sometimes and this may be part of it in yours. As long as the consent is freely given, that is your thing.

    That is certainly the first actual attempt at defining what enthusiastic consent is/might be, and when and where it may or may not be fully required. And, keeping in mind the vast array and variety of personal expression and levels of personal inhibition (or otherwise) carried by the human race, I think it’s a good starting point.

  253. says

    I had a conversation with a feminist who stated outright that, due to the gendered power imbalance in our society, any sexual activity between a man and a woman, which was not explicitly initiated by the woman, is rape. Is this something that the feminists on this thread would agree with ?

    So far, I’ve never heard anyone, anywhere, “feminist” or not, saying anything close to such an opinion. Does that answer your question?

    As for who really does say such things, I’d guess offhand that it would be two groups: women trying to dodge responsibility for sex in a sex-shaming environment, and men refusing to admit that their daughters, wives or girlfriends would ever consent to “illicit” sex. In other words, attitudes similar to this kinda predate feminism.

  254. says

    That is certainly the first actual attempt at defining what enthusiastic consent is/might be, and when and where it may or may not be fully required.

    No, it isn’t.

    I think it’s a good starting point.

    Okay…so now that you’re FINALLY at the starting point, what do you have to say?

  255. Beaker says

    @johngreg: “That is certainly the first actual attempt at defining what enthusiastic consent is/might be”
    I don’t think that is true. Ally certainly said something very similar to what I stated in post 167 and 182. He may not have preceeded what he wrote with “my definition of enthusiastic consent is…”, but he said essentially the same thing I did.

  256. Beaker says

    @ Johngreg: To add to that, my post certainly does not go into detail in answering your post 181, which you apparently earlier found problematic. But I’ll be happy to try:
    “How do you personally define:

    1. making absolutely sure”
    To the best of your abilities confirm that your sexual partner is comfortable with what you are doing together and enjoying it.

    “2. every stage (what are the sexual stages? how does one differentiate between them?)”
    Every new thing you try is a new “stage”. Kissing, a stage. Starting to fondle her breasts. New stage. Starting to lick his penis. New stage. Etc.
    Your sexual partner has consented to what you are doing in the present (if you’re doing it right). When you start to do something new, your sexual partner has not yet consented to that and you cannot presume that consent.

    “3. enjoying what is happening (i.e., to what degree must they be enjoying it? As much as you? More than you? Loudly with moans, groans, and screams of joy that are often indistinguishable from agony, or justly mutely shivering in the throes of ecstasy?)”
    I find this point to be somewhat disingenuous to be honest. Nobody said anything about a degree of enjoyment your partner should have, just that he or she enjoys it. I’m really searching for where your point three comes from.

    “I sometimes wonder if when people say such things as what Ally said, if they have a somewhat limited range of variety in their sexual experiences. Sexual ecstasy is often very difficult to distinguish from agony; as I mentioned above, some partners shiver in mute throes of joy; others scream like they are suffering primal pain; not to mention the whole range if in-betweens. And some partners strongly dislike, or are deeply uncomfortable with being asked how they are feeling, or to even discuss, openly, their sexual desires, joys, needs, etc. How would you account for those types of situations?”
    I also cannot rid myself of the feeling that this is a somewhat disingenuous statement of yours. How do you propose to handle these situations, other than through (enthusiastic) consent? If your partner is screaming as if he or she is in pain, I would hope that you check up on them on whether they are fine, rather than bluntly continue. What is your alternative?

    Regarding having a sexual partner who does not like to openly discuss sexual desires, it would seem to me that their only option is to find ways to clearly express themselves, if not through talking, then through other actions. What is the alternative? Just bluntly “dive in” and hope they enjoy it? Again, what’s your alternative?

  257. johngreg says

    Beaker, I think the only realistic answer to your “what is your alternative” questions is that it is and must always be done on a case-by-case, instance-by-instance basis. There cannot be a one way fixes all things approach.

    My main ongoing problem with the kind of thing going on in this thread is the absolutist assumption that all potential consent issues can be dealth with with one ambiguous methodology fixes all kind of approach. Such simplistic assumptions deny the complexity of real-world human behaviour.

    The kind of thought processes and behavioural demands/suggestions going on for many people in this thread, including, in my opinion, some of Ally’s suggested approaches, reflect simplistic, black-and-white, with us or against us, types of thinking; a sort of one way fixes all things approach. Real life, and people, are far more complex, far more nuanced, and far more challenging to work with.

  258. johngreg says

    Beaker, I somehow missed Ally’s post at 167. Yes, that makes some sense and comes closer to clarifying things for me.

    I do not agree with your suggestion about 182 though. He was really just trying to pigeon hole me (and others) as being searching for loopholes and playing intelectual games. Which is horseshit.

    All of that being said, one of the primary take away messages I get in this thread is still, in effect, you’ll know it when you see it; if you don’t you’re sexist, misogyinst, etc., and I know what it is, if you don’t you’re sexist, misogynist, etc.

  259. mildlymagnificent says

    johngreg

    you’ll know it when you see it; if you don’t you’re sexist, misogyinst, etc., and I know what it is, if you don’t you’re sexist, misogynist, etc.

    I did a bit of deconstruction and reconstruction on that, but it doesn’t matter. We’ll skip it and go to the point that matters.

    It’s really not that hard.

    The baseline for all sexual interaction is crystal clear consent. This is perfect for longer term partners because they’ve had a lot of physical interaction giving them good understanding of what does and doesn’t please the other partner. They’ve had marathons and quickies, fantastic sex and so-so sex, giggly fun sex and intensely passionate sex. They’ve agreed and disagreed on whether, and when and how, they do or don’t engage in specific activities. They’ve also shared jokes and histories and tears or fears as well as days when one or the other was ill or tired or grumpy or injured or menstruating or pregnant so they’ve had chances to sort stuff out verbally over time.

    For initial sexual activity, enthusiastic consent is the only way. Because there is no basis for the crystal clear consent that comes from lots of conversation, company and previous sexual activity. That gives a full set of more or less unmistakable clues about what is and what isn’t on the table and that is simply unavailable to people who don’t know each other or not very well anyway.

    (I’d also go for enthusiasm as the preferred basis for the first few weeks or months of a continuing relationship. It’s too easy to make terribly wrong presumptions about what is or isn’t (un)acceptable even at the dinner table or when visiting family or cleaning shoes or other things that people find surprising in each other, so having slept together 10 or 20 times isn’t an entirely reliable basis for judgement about all further sexual encounters, let alone adventures or experiments.)

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