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Justine

Justine has story of sexual assault in the tech industry. Long story short, she was at a Ruby conference (they apparently have a reputation for boozing it up at Ruby events), she was drinking, her boss was drinking, he took their mutual inebriation as an excuse to take serious liberties with her, she said “no”, he wouldn’t take no for an answer, and another person had to step in and peel him away. The event was serious enough that her boss was subject to a later HR investigation and was fired.

All of these events have been thoroughly corroborated by a witness, and by the guy who stepped in. The assaulter has announced that he was in “funemployment”, of course expressing no remorse or guilt — you wouldn’t know it from what he wrote that he stuck his hand down an employees pants and his tongue down her throat while she vocally protested.

The problem is the aftermath. She liked and respected her boss before this incident, and now she’s wracked with guilt and self-recrimination and just general stress.

Joe O’Brien’s sexual assault on me impacted my life then and still continues to this day. Initially I went through a period of self-punishment. Convinced there was something I did wrong that made this assault happen to me. Did I wear something wrong? Did I lead someone on? Hugs hand forehead kisses have always been a big part of my relationships with my co-workers. We were always a tight knit family. But now I felt it was all wrong. Every day I went to work I second guessed what I was wearing. I kept my mouth shut for fear I’d say something wrong or misleading. In the worst case I stopped eating and lost 30 pounds in two months. People were worried but again, for the most part left me alone. Maybe out of awkwardness, maybe because they didn’t know what to say, maybe because they had no clue what was going on because nobody was notified.

These issues still affected me months later. I went months without eating. My boyfriend at the time witnessed me turn from a voluptuous woman to what he called a skeleton in just two short months. I couldn’t stand to be touched by him anymore. Our relationship fell apart within just a few weeks. I came home every night and drank myself stupid just so I didn’t have to think about the anxiety I felt having to go back to the office the next morning. Friday nights and Saturdays were mostly fine but pretty much on the dot, 8:00pm on a Sunday I would start hyperventilating, crying and binge drinking so I didn’t have to think about going back to the office the following morning.

These are appropriate responses to an event she took very seriously and found extremely traumatic — which also conflicted with her career and the community she was working within. This is how she reacted to an occasion when she was disempowered and manhandled and made to feel helpless by a person she had trusted, and no one else can tell her how she should feel about it.

But they do. Oh, they do.

Do not read the comments on Justine’s post unless you really want to lose all faith in humanity. I repeat, do not read the comments. They are the true horror here.

They tell her that she’s weak and she needs to toughen up. She’s a loser. “Bitch deserved it.” She should have called the cops! Because she didn’t call the cops, it was clearly not a major problem. She should be ashamed for costing a guy his job when his offense didn’t even rise to a level that would justify calling the cops. She’s an attention whore. “I hope you get raped tomorrow you dumb slut”. She enjoyed getting her vagina fingered, if they’d just gotten a room and had sex she’d be happy now. She overreacted. There are “people dying in Africa,” she should shut up. She’s playing the victim. She was drunk, so she deserved it. “another example how a woman can destroy a man’s life at a whim with a rape accusation.” She’s a whore. Women “simply don’t have the mental tools to survive outside the kitchen”.

Weirdly, Richard Stallman shows up to lecture everyone on how to properly refer to GNU/Linux.

There are rape threats. There are death threats. “Men are men” and “there is no rape culture.”

There are people with men’s names and people with women’s names shrieking at her — I even recognized some of them as people who have been banned here.

Don’t read that horrible comment thread. But if you do, recognize it for what it is: evidence of the truth that our culture has a sick attitude towards women.

Comments

  1. Al Dente says

    Do not read the comments. It appears that 4Chan or people of that ilk found Justine’s post and decided to have some “fun”.

  2. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    But they’re “allies.” It’s “just disagreement!” Don’t expect me to make a stand for decency, because it might impact my bankbook!

    /parodying sadly WAY too many people in charge these days

  3. says

    Al Dente:

    It appears that 4Chan or people of that ilk found Justine’s post

    Do Not Fucking Do This. All you’re doing is finding an excuse for people being vile in their sexism. Every day people do this sort of shit, men and women. The kind of men and women who comprise your family, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances.

    Jesus Fuck, it’s not bad enough that the sexism circus will find their way here shortly enough, but the first post on this thread now contains apologia? Aaaargh.

  4. Kevin Anthoney says

    Weirdly, Richard Stallman shows up to lecture everyone on how to properly refer to GNU/Linux.

    Shouldn’t he be called Richard Lippman-Stallman if he’s going to bang on like that?

  5. says

    PZ:

    They tell her that she’s weak and she needs to toughen up. She’s a loser. “Bitch deserved it.” She should have called the cops! Because she didn’t call the cops, it was clearly not a major problem. She should be ashamed for costing a guy his job when his offense didn’t even rise to a level that would justify calling the cops. She’s an attention whore. “I hope you get raped tomorrow you dumb slut”. She enjoyed getting her vagina fingered, if they’d just gotten a room and had sex she’d be happy now. She overreacted. There are “people dying in Africa,” she should shut up. She’s playing the victim. She was drunk, so she deserved it. “another example how a woman can destroy a man’s life at a whim with a rape accusation.” She’s a whore. Women “simply don’t have the mental tools to survive outside the kitchen”.

    Not that we haven’t seen enough of this over the years, we have, but I just can’t do it today, even if it shows here (and it will). Just don’t have the stomach for it, feels like I’m being beaten up all over again.

  6. says

    The nastiest, cruelest curse I can wish upon such people is for them to one day realize how horribly they’ve treated a trauma survivor, retraumatizing her and many others who’ve had similar experiences of assault and rape-culture dismissiveness, and how much damage they’ve done to individuals and society through their abusive behaviour. I won’t venture to guess what their reactions to such a shattering epiphany may be, but that moment of clarity and understanding would surely be the lowest moment of their lives, as they suddenly wonder how they can live with themselves, knowing what they’ve done.

    For most, it won’t happen. For many who do develop a sense of the damage they’ve inflicted, it will be buried under denial and active memory suppression. Very few may possibly decide to try and mitigate the harm they’ve inflicted by spending the rest of their lives working to end the ideologies and behaviour that encourages and rewards piling trauma upon trauma.

  7. says

    PZ:

    They tell her that she’s weak and she needs to toughen up. She’s a loser. “B!tch deserved it.” She should have called the cops! Because she didn’t call the cops, it was clearly not a major problem. She should be ashamed for costing a guy his job when his offense didn’t even rise to a level that would justify calling the cops. She’s an attention whore. “I hope you get raped tomorrow you dumb slut”. She enjoyed getting her vagina fingered, if they’d just gotten a room and had sex she’d be happy now. She overreacted. There are “people dying in Africa,” she should shut up. She’s playing the victim. She was drunk, so she deserved it. “another example how a woman can destroy a man’s life at a whim with a rape accusation.” She’s a whore. Women “simply don’t have the mental tools to survive outside the kitchen”.

    Not that we haven’t seen enough of this over the years, we have, but I just can’t do it today, even if it shows here (and it will). Just don’t have the stomach for it, feels like I’m being beaten up all over again.

    And honestly, if I see one more person use the word ‘ilk’, I’m going to go seriously hostile on their ass.

  8. zhuge, le homme blanc qui ne sait rien mais voudrait says

    I am so sorry, and I only hope that things change faster in the tech industry and men will stop using their power to abuse women and men sexually and otherwise because of this patriarchal bullshit.

    Also: preemptively, if you are going to post saying that in any way shape or form this is ok, or not so bad, or not worth talking about, or a misrepresentation, or painting with a broad brush, etc. etc. etc., I implore you to put down your keyboard and mouse for a moment, turn off your computer, go outside and get a nice breath of fresh air, and then go fuck yourself you ignorant, hateful twit.

  9. David Marjanović says

    I even recognized some of them as people who have been banned here.

    That’s actually encouraging: it gives me hope that much of the volume of Internet misogyny is written by just the same few loud people – and their sockpuppets – over and over and over and over again.

  10. says

    The “GNU/Linux” reference shows that at least some of the people who are posting those comments think it’s all a game. (I am not excusing them, they are awful people who deserve all the excoriation they get and then some.) Stallman’s little mini-rant on how Linux should be called GNU/Linux because Linux distributions usually contain the GNU toolchain is something that people of that ilk toss in to show to amuse each other.

    (Incidentally, the whole “artists should be willing to work for free” thing that people are complaining about on the other thread about DNLee and biology online? That is basically Stallman’s ideology as embodied in the GNU Public License. He has admitted as much in interviews. He thinks that it’s okay for large corporations to turn a profit off of computer code, but that actual coders should never be paid more than minimum wage, and ideally should work for free. This is one of the many, many reasons why I try very hard never to use GPL software. Stallman is an idiot.)

  11. says

    I don’t think Al Dente was making apologetics — he was just saying something mindless.

    I’m also tired of it, though. We used to get it all the time from Justin Griffith: “it’s just 4chan culture!” To which I say,

    SO THE FUCK WHAT?

    We wouldn’t let it slide if there were some fresh horror and someone on the scene announced, “It’s just the Joneses!” or “It’s just people with an ‘R’ in their name!” or “It’s just those people with two arms and two legs!”

    It’s not exactly an apologia. Instead, it’s shuffling the problem off under a label so we can ignore it.

  12. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    David,

    That’s actually encouraging: it gives me hope that much of the volume of Internet misogyny is written by just the same few loud people – and their sockpuppets – over and over and over and over again.

    Hah.
    Hah!
    You’re serious?

    I don’t think hope is the right word for it. Maybe delirious episode caused by overexposure to sexism short-circuiting your brain would fit better.

  13. Jacob Schmidt says

    From the comments:

    I’d also like to offer you some help in your healing. This will sound cliche (after all, it’s an Internet post), but I want you to consider Jesus Christ.

    Fucking parasites

    Also from the comments:

    A lot of the trolling comments are obviously from kids. Any adult can tell because we’ve all been kids and we know how a kid brain works from experience.

    Fuck that. Adults are perfectly capable of being total assholes. There’s absolutely nothing to indicate that children are making those comments.

  14. OptimalCynic says

    This set off a question I’ve been having for some time – why is sexual assault so much more traumatic than other kinds of assault, and is there a way that it can be made less traumatic for the victim?

    Now, I know I have to explain here… I’m ABSOLUTELY NOT saying that any sexual assault would ever be acceptable, even if the consequences were only as severe as a minor graze from tripping over. Nobody should EVER do this kind of thing. We need to fix our culture so that it’s utterly unthinkable to do anything sexual to a person without their consent.

    What I’m wondering is, in parallel with our efforts to fix the culture, is there a way to somehow ameliorate the consequences to victims? If nothing else, it would make it easier for the victims to help put the utter wankstains on humanity who do this kind of thing away.

    To reiterate, the priority absolutely must be to stop sexual assault from happening at all. Whether the consequences are large or small, it simply should not be happening in modern society. But while we’re in the process of doing that, I really feel for the victims and I wish there was some way we could reduce the trauma they go through.

    In short: Can somebody explain to me why the emotional consequences of sexual assault are so much more serious than other kinds of assault, and is there any research into ways of inoculating people against those consequences?

  15. OptimalCynic says

    It’s not exactly an apologia. Instead, it’s shuffling the problem off under a label so we can ignore it.

    I read the 4chan thing as akin to your “don’t read the comments” warning, but in advance. “4chan are here, the comments are about to slide into an even bigger puddle of shit.”

  16. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Agreeing with Jacob Smith’s point, but to make another one:

    A lot of the trolling comments are obviously from kids. Any adult can tell because we’ve all been kids and we know how a kid brain works from experience.

    You know what, even if those comment were from kids, that would be no excuse.
    Yeah, we do stupid stuff when young, but dismissing asshole behavior as just something that kids do is damaging. It discourages young people from becoming better, it just lets them be assholes for longer and longer until you suddenly meet them at 30 and wonder when they became such a sexist asshole.
    Newsflash!
    They always were, it was all just excused as them being young and stupid. So they never had an incentive to learn and get better.

  17. Jonathan, der Ewige Noobe says

    If you’re making those comments, I don’t care if you use a walker to get around–you are not an adult.

  18. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Jacob Schmidt,
    I’m sorry for mangling your name! I only realized after posting that something was off about the way I wrote your surname, and then checked…. Sorry!

  19. OptimalCynic says

    Yeah, we do stupid stuff when young, but dismissing asshole behavior as just something that kids do is damaging. It discourages young people from becoming better, it just lets them be assholes for longer and longer until you suddenly meet them at 30 and wonder when they became such a sexist asshole.

    Yup, exactly. I said some stupid things as a kid, including something unforgivably racist to a poor lad about my own age I walked past in the street. I’m bitterly ashamed of it now, but only because I was called on it at the time and told exactly how unacceptable it was. You can only learn from your mistakes if you realise they’re mistakes.

  20. says

    Jacob Schmidt @ #15:
    Oh you think that’s bad? Fucking Scientology got in on the act. I responded to that one, though.

    OptimalCynic @ #16:
    Dude… recommendation. Take your question back. Seriously. Take it back, and then think very, very carefully about your question.

    We live in a rape culture. What this means is sexual assault and rape are treated quite differently than any other crime. For one thing, they are the most common crime committed against people, especially women (though men, too). Then, add on top of that the misogynistic idea that victims are somehow responsible for what happened to them, and you’ll start to see the problem.

    I’ve asked that people heed PZ’s request and not read the comments on Justine’s post. I think maybe you should. Then you’ll see the problem…

  21. says

    Jonathan, der Ewige Noobe #19

    If you’re making those comments, I don’t care if you use a walker to get around–you are not an adult.

    I get your intention, but please don’t do this. These people are responsible for what they do and say, just like any adult.

  22. OptimalCynic says

    We live in a rape culture. What this means is sexual assault and rape are treated quite differently than any other crime. For one thing, they are the most common crime committed against people, especially women (though men, too). Then, add on top of that the misogynistic idea that victims are somehow responsible for what happened to them, and you’ll start to see the problem.

    Yes, I agree absolutely, and the primary focus of our society needs to be ending the sexism and patriarchy that causes it. Like I said, the consequences of the crime are irrelevant to the fact that it must be stamped out of society altogether.

    I asked “why” because I don’t understand it, and that’s a gap in my knowledge that I need to have fixed. It’s not because I don’t think the consequences are that bad – I know that they’re awful, I know survivors and I know what it does to people. I would just like to understand better why that is.

  23. Jonathan, der Ewige Noobe says

    OptimalCynic @16,
    If I had to guess–and I do, because I don’t know what it’s like inside a rape victim’s head and shouldn’t pretend for a moment that I do–I’d bet it’s because of the way we construct the act. The physical… motions, to hopefully put it in the least triggery way possible… are secondary to what goes on in the victim’s mind and the minds of those around them. For Justine, it seems like it shattered every assumption she had about where she was safe and who she was safe with.

  24. Jonathan, der Ewige Noobe says

    Daz @23,
    You’re right, I apologize–I shouldn’t try to Other people who do bad things.

  25. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    OptimalCynic,

    why is sexual assault so much more traumatic than other kinds of assault, and is there a way that it can be made less traumatic for the victim?

    In short: Can somebody explain to me why the emotional consequences of sexual assault are so much more serious than other kinds of assault, and is there any research into ways of inoculating people against those consequences?

    WTF???
    I don’t… *deep breath*

    I wrote a couple of sentences, but they quickly got pretty incoherent.

    Just… NO. What the fuck are you thinking?

  26. Jacob Schmidt says

    Nate

    Jacob Schmidt @ #15:
    Oh you think that’s bad? Fucking Scientology got in on the act. I responded to that one, though.

    Yeah, I noticed that after. My response is the same.

    Beatrice

    It discourages young people from becoming better, it just lets them be assholes for longer and longer until you suddenly meet them at 30 and wonder when they became such a sexist asshole.

    Thanks, I left that out. That they might be children doesn’t change how shitty the behaviour is, and there’s no evidence that they are children in the first place. No matter what, the behaviour should be condemned without the ridiculous dismissals.

    I’m sorry for mangling your name! I only realized after posting that something was off about the way I wrote your surname, and then checked…. Sorry!

    No worries, all you did was translate it into english.

  27. OptimalCynic says

    Beatrice: Please read my comment at 24, I asked to fill in a gap in my understanding, not to try and suggest anything. However if it inspires this kind of reaction then I apologise and withdraw unreservedly.

  28. anuran says

    I didn’t listen to the Good Folk here. I read some of the comments. I want to hit something repeatedly.

  29. Gregory Greenwood says

    I really should have listned to PZ’s warning – I made the mistake of reading the comments, and now what little faith I had in humanity has shrivelled up and died.

    It wasn’t just the shrieking rape apologists, gas lighting arseholes and assorted dudebros that were objectionable (though they were by far the worst of it). There were offers to help her find ‘help’ from various religions. Possibly made in good faith, and equally possibly your standard cynical proselytising tactic of targeting anyone who appears to be vulnerable as a possible convert. But what I found in some ways even more depressing was the oft repeated sentiment that it is some ‘4Chan crusade’ that must be recognised as ‘just trolling'; completely failing to comprehend how traumatic the initial event was, how triggering the misogynistic comments are, and how deep seated the rot of misogyny really is in our socity. If 4Chan was the only source of the scourge of online misogyny, the solution would be simple – take off and nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure…

    There was even one poster who, while seemingly trying to be supportive, managed to claim that it simply must be the case that most of the vitriol is down to those darn kids;

    I think that goes without saying. The way I reason about it is this. A lot of the trolling comments are obviously from kids. Any adult can tell because we’ve all been kids and we know how a kid brain works from experience. Kids are not part of this community for obvious reasons so the only way they’d find this blog is if someone posted a link pointing to it somewhere or because they’ve reinvented the old “Random website” button from earlier versions of Netscape. Kids post comments while trying to pass as adults because they don’t realize we can tell they’re kids. This is because they obviously don’t understand how the adult brain works, they’ve never been adults.

    The author of this brilliant insight seems incapable of grasping that it is not primarily children who behave like this; that the prime movers and shakers behind rape culture, victim blaming and all the other toxic expressions of the dudebro mindset are adult men. Not some easy ignored group of delinquents. Not some eminently mockable living stereotype subgroup of basement dwellers, not some conveniently othered body of suffers from some vaguely defined, entirely non-scientific and deeply ableist category of ‘crazy’ – everyday men. Men with families, men with kids, men with responsible jobs, men with political power, men who can’t be spotted at a hundred yards and neatly pidgeon-holed as the misogynists they actually are just by looking at them.

    Sexism is not yesterday’s news; a social justice battle done and dusted last century. The sexist attitudes that underpin victim blaming and rape culture never really went away at all, but rather simply went out of fashion for a while. And now open misogyny is experiencing a kind of twisted renaissance, and simply isn’t viewed as being socially unnaceptable to the same degree as some other forms of bigotry. Until the widepsread, almost ubiquitous character of modern misogyny is recognised as a rising component of what is considered ‘mainstream culture’, then no effective effort can be mounted to counter it.

    So basically I think we all know that these comments can safely been ignored since they originate from sexually frustrated 12 year olds who clicked a link on /b/ or reddit, are newfriends and think they are going to look cool by trolling a post about an adult issue.

    Personally I’d be surprised if any grown up person takes any of the obvious trolls seriously. They can safely be ignored although someone should probably check in to see why they’re so angry with their moms. Might be child care issues going on.

    This part actively seems to be chiding anyone who is affected by this tidal wave of hatred and who takes threats of violence, rape and murder seriously, and so is itself a form of victim blaming that admonishes Justine for ‘letting it get to her’. Not exactly a helpful mentality, and if this person sees themselves as an ‘ally’, they are going about it very poorly indeed.

    What is more worrying to me is the people that actually *are* adults and presumably *is* part of the community who are trying to act like this is not a problem. These people are the real assholes.

    Even this acknowledgement that there are adults who behave this way is couched in dismissive and minimising terms that implies that even those adults who do engage in this type of behaviour amount to nothing more than a minor, irrelevant irritant.

    This is, in some ways, the most wearying post on the entire thread. With friends like these, enemies seem rather redundant. An attempt to console by means of effectively saying ‘there, there dear. Just try to rise above it’ entirely fails to grasp how serious the situation is and serves only to patronise the victim.

  30. says

    Jonathan, der Ewige Noobe

    Umm. It’s not so much the Othering. It’s that children are rightly given more leeway because they’re immature by nature (and obviously by definition). By saying someone is not an adult, you’re saying they shouldn’t be seen as being responsible for their actions, to the degree that we would see an adult as being.

  31. Al Dente says

    I apologize for my post 1. I realize now that I wasn’t actually saying anything germane and I was othering some people.

  32. says

    OptimalCynic:

    I know that they’re awful, I know survivors and I know what it does to people. I would just like to understand better why that is.

    You know, I’ll ask you to stop this as well. Please. If you actually know survivors, than you should have a damn good understanding already. If you don’t, it really doesn’t require a great deal of empathy and imagination to figure it out. The societal consequences are the easy bit – rape culture has been simmering in a framework of misogyny for most of our history. We haven’t gotten anywhere close to over all that yet. Women are still viewed as possessions, no matter how vehemently that’s denied by most people.

    As for the consequences on a personal level, a little empathy and imagination will get you there. Short of murder, rape and sexual assault are the worst things you can do to someone. It’s the complete removal of your autonomy, and a person doesn’t recover easily from that at all. You never get your pre-rape/sexual assault self back. That self is gone.

  33. David Marjanović says

    SO THE FUCK WHAT?

    4chan is on the Internet, and the Internet is not real, so it’s totes of no concern to anyone! *nodnod*

    *barf*

    Quotation marks not intended, the <q> tag generates them automatically.

    Oh you think that’s bad? Fucking Scientology got in on the act.

    I can only giggle anymore.

    I responded to that one, though.

    Wow. You’re tough. This is not sarcasm.

    For Justine, it seems like it shattered every assumption she had about where she was safe and who she was safe with.

    As PZ quotes:

    Initially I went through a period of self-punishment. Convinced there was something I did wrong that made this assault happen to me. Did I wear something wrong? Did I lead someone on? Hugs hand forehead kisses have always been a big part of my relationships with my co-workers. We were always a tight knit family. But now I felt it was all wrong. Every day I went to work I second guessed what I was wearing. I kept my mouth shut for fear I’d say something wrong or misleading.

    That’s starting from the 2nd sentence of the quote.

  34. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    OptimalCynic,

    Honestly, I don’t think I would ask the question you ask from anyone. Maybe it’s just me, but the question sounds callous. Rape victims have talked about their trauma on Pharyngula many times, and there is so many of them it’s disheartening. You have their accounts. It’s all there. You just have to look.
    Asking something like this from a stranger, with some vague suggestion about ‘maybe making it so that rape isn’t as traumatic’ is just an asshole move.
    It doesn’t look like it was a deliberate asshole move, but what came out of your keyboard was insensitive nonetheless.

    I was never a victim of rape, maybe I’m being overprotective and people who have gone through assault and rape will see it differently.

  35. says

    @OptimalCynic… I totally get that. It is distressing and disturbing. But trust me on this one. While I absolutely get where your question is coming from, it’s a 101-level question and those aren’t really welcome here.

    Honestly, the comments on Justine’s post are pretty much the answer to your question. Again… I don’t really recommend reading them. I’m not sure there are words to describe how much I hate humanity right now after reading those comments. I was already ticked off after reading Justine’s post. The comments took me beyond tears. Angry, mad, pissed off, enraged, homicidal… these words are supreme understatements for how I feel after reading them. They’re sick, grotesque, and just plain evil.

    I’m pretty sure even Steubenville isn’t a better example of rape culture, and that was an incredible example.

    However, those comments will give you the answer to your question, so if you think you can stomach it, read them.

    And yes, you should take the question back. Again… I totally get where you’re coming from. But this is definitely not the place for it. :)

  36. Gregory Greenwood says

    Darn, failed to refresh before posting. Apologies for tautologically covering the same ground as earlier comments.

  37. says

    Beatrice:

    I was never a victim of rape, maybe I’m being overprotective and people who have gone through assault and rape will see it differently.

    You are not being overprotective, and I don’t see it differently. It’s just another version of “hey, gimme details! I have a good reason, really!”

  38. OptimalCynic says

    It’s the complete removal of your autonomy,

    Thank you Caine, I think that’s the bit I was missing.

    some vague suggestion about ‘maybe making it so that rape isn’t as traumatic’ is just an asshole move.

    If it came across the way, I do apologise. It certainly wasn’t the intention. To draw an analogy, the fact that people shouldn’t get shot and that we need to fix the problem of guns in society doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t look for better techniques for healing gunshot wounds. I just feel so much for the women who are victimised in this way and I wish there was some way to help reduce the effect – not so that they can be assaulted more, but to help them heal while we get on with the business of eliminating this foul crime forever.

    But I do realise that it has come across as insensitive and therefore I apologise and withdraw completely.

  39. Markita Lynda—threadrupt says

    It’s the realization that you are never consistently safe anywhere and the feeling that anyone else at any time can do the same again.

  40. says

    Gregory @ 31:

    This is, in some ways, the most wearying post on the entire thread. With friends like these, enemies seem rather redundant. An attempt to console by means of effectively saying ‘there, there dear. Just try to rise above it’ entirely fails to grasp how serious the situation is and serves only to patronise the victim.

    Quoted For Shiny, Shiny Truth.

  41. OptimalCynic says

    As for the consequences on a personal level, a little empathy and imagination will get you there.

    I struggle with empathy. It’s part of my mental illness. I recognise the problems that this causes and I do my very best to replace as much as I can with “intellectual empathy” – listening, accepting, understanding. The responses to my question, including the ones pointing out I should have asked it, have helped me greatly and I appreciate them all.

  42. Bicarbonate says

    OptimalCynic, Caine and everybody else,

    I think the question of why rape is so awful is a legitimate question. I’ve been raped many times and don’t understand why it has the effects it has. I know it does, because they’ve happened to me. But as to why, I really don’t know. I can guess. But I don’t know.

    I’m not being facetious. I don’t think empathy or even experiencing rape necessarily clues you in as to why it’s so awful. All I can do is describe the effects, but that doesn’t answer the question of why.

  43. OptimalCynic says

    But this is definitely not the place for it. :)

    I’ll be honest, I asked here because this is about the only place on the Internet I can guarantee I won’t get “but it’s not that bad really’ style responses. Point taken though.

  44. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    One has to wonder, how much worse it has become for Justine now that this parade of adults (do not dismiss this as the actions of children) are leaving flaming bags of shit at her internet door.

  45. Jonathan, der Ewige Noobe says

    Daz @32,
    Well, I’m a determinist… when people do bad things, my first instinct is to wish I could help them. Accountability is well and good up until you start forgetting that raising an abuser is a form of abuse that only a few recover from. But that’s a whole different can of worms, and it’d be wrong and arrogant of me to fault people for not being privileged enough to get this kind of emotional distance, so… I guess I concede the point.

  46. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Dang, there are some days where I, as and old fart male, feels like I need to crawl back to bed and hide under the covers for three days to atone for this bullshit and the SciAm fiasco. But that won’t do anything to stop the dudebros from continually poisoning the well.

  47. says

    To OptimalCynic: That is true. Pharyngula (and by extension FTB), is one of the few places where people see rape for what it actually is (one of the most heinous crimes a person can commit), where rape culture is bashed and scrutinized, where victim-blaming is ripped to shreds, and where victims can feel at least some semblance of safety, at least online. The Pharyngula Horde is fucking wonderful for it. The Horde is made up of probably my favorite people on the internet.

    But thank you for withdrawing the question and understanding. That is awesome on your part.

    Goodby Enemy Janine @ #48: one can only hope she has refused to read the comments. Would be better for her, I think, if she didn’t. But that’s completely her choice, as well.

  48. says

    I found the link to the story earlier, and I wish someone warned me about the comments. It actually makes my heart ache. I am a programmer, why is IT so full of assholes? What’s up with that? I am socially inept. And it makes my blood boil that some use lack of social skills as an excuse. No, hell no. There is a world of difference between not having social skills and being an Awful person that takes advantage of others like this.

  49. OptimalCynic says

    Caine: It does help. I’m miswired in some way, I feel empathy for things I can personally relate to but not for things I can’t. I recognised pretty early that this could make me an utterly awful human being, and as I don’t want to be one of those I’ve developed coping mechanisms. One of the most useful ones is making an intellectual connection to something I can relate to. I’ve always viewed rape with horror because I’ve been told of the effect it has on people, but I’ve never felt that viscerally – but I knew I should! You mentioning the loss of autonomy allows me to relate it to the times I’ve lost control of my own autonomy, and that allows me to actually feel that empathy, which means I don’t have to concentrate as hard on being appropriate towards rape survivors.

    Thank you for indulging me on this, I went through my little “bad things to avoid” checklist (another coping mechanism) and realised that I’m starting to make this all about me instead of Justine, the actual victim, so I should stop now.

  50. says

    OptimalCynic:

    I struggle with empathy. It’s part of my mental illness. I recognise the problems that this causes and I do my very best to replace as much as I can with “intellectual empathy” – listening, accepting, understanding. The responses to my question, including the ones pointing out I should have asked it, have helped me greatly and I appreciate them all.

    Ah. That has to be difficult for you. Well, I’ll give it my best shot for you, but please keep in mind that while people who have been raped share many of the after-effects, we aren’t monolith.

    As I said upthread, it’s the complete removal of your autonomy. It’s utterly stripped from you, and it doesn’t matter whether it was a violent stranger rape (like mine) or a date/acquaintance rape. You’re reduced to whatever it is the rapist sees you as, but one thing guaranteed – they don’t view you as an autonomous human being.

    Imagine how unwelcome something like an upper arm punch can be – even when it’s delivered with a “hey bud, how ya doing?” intent. Then imagine that instead of an upper arm punch, you’re grabbed, at least partly stripped, and given a punch which goes internal. The bodily violation between the two situations differs mightily. Does that help you to understand?

    Now, it’s not just women who get raped. Men and children get raped too. When you’re a woman though, you are raised to be aware that you are never, ever safe. We know that. We know it up one wall, down the other, and across the sky. Most of the time, you have to strongly filter that, or you wouldn’t be able to leave a closet. Once you’ve had your autonomy stripped through rape or sexual assault, what you’ve known all your life hits with a force you simply cannot describe, and it keeps hitting you for a very long time. Instead of residing in the back of your head, it’s in front of your eyeballs, in searing neon. Not Safe. Not Safe. Never Safe. Anyone at anytime can…NOT SAFE.

  51. OptimalCynic says

    Thank you very much Caine, that helps even more. I hope that wasn’t too difficult for you to write and I appreciate you taking the time.

  52. says

    That’s actually encouraging: it gives me hope that much of the volume of Internet misogyny is written by just the same few loud people – and their sockpuppets – over and over and over and over again.

    It just means that our local internet misogynists are attentive when the feministish within atheism are talking about something and they caught the link and felt entitled to share their “wisdom” with Justine.

  53. Jonathan, der Ewige Noobe says

    OptimalCynic @54:
    I’m the same way–I just typed a whole paragraph about just how much like you I am before I realized, yeah, stop talking about yourself, dude, and deleted it.

  54. says

    OptimalCynic:

    Thank you very much Caine, that helps even more. I hope that wasn’t too difficult for you to write and I appreciate you taking the time.

    You’re welcome, I’m glad to help, it’s a tough situation for you. I’m okay talking about it, so no worries.

  55. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    OptimalCynic, the fact that you realize this about yourself and are trying to find ways to connect anyways says a lot about who are. We have had people show up here who claimed to have the same problem you have and demand that we all give them a free pass on their actions and words.

  56. imthegenieicandoanything says

    I’m gonna be a real man and not bother to read the comments there to show my mental toughness.

    I will NOT be a real man and punch the next person who pooh-poohs this or any kind of sexual assault, however.

    Spitting, etc.? Probably not, but that “next person” can expect all my energies will be involved. May I find the perfect way to engender self-reflection, likely resulting in tears, on their part.

    Women are human beings, just like me, but why do they put up with us men, ever?

  57. The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical says

    imthegenieicandoanything @ 61

    Women are human beings, just like me, but why do they put up with us men, ever?

    Because men are human beings and the vast majority of them are not rapists. While there are some men who are rapists, there are also some men who are rape victims.

    While there are some women who are rape victims, there are also some women who are rapists.

    And there are some people who are neither who are victims, or who are perpetrators.

    People are people. Misogynists often reduce women to dehumanizing stereotypes and that’s wrong and damaging, but doing it to other people–even with good intentions–just encourages the same binary thinking behind sexism. Outrage at terrible abuses is understandable–I share it with you–but that outrage doesn’t have to spill over onto men in general.

  58. David Marjanović says

    WTF???
    I don’t… *deep breath*

    I wrote a couple of sentences, but they quickly got pretty incoherent.

    Just… NO. What the fuck are you thinking?

    Easy: for people who come with ALL THE MALE PRIVILEGE, like me, it’s not at all immediately intuitive.

    I’ve been through several thousand comments about this topic on Pharyngula alone, I think I have a pretty good grasp on it now. Optimal Cynic hasn’t been here for that long.

    When you’re a woman though, you are raised to be aware that you are never, ever safe.

    And you’re raised to believe it was probably – and therefore certainly – your fault. Whatever you were wearing was wrong, whatever you did or didn’t do was wrong, wherever you went or didn’t go was wrong, whenever…

  59. says

    David:

    And you’re raised to believe it was probably – and therefore certainly – your fault. Whatever you were wearing was wrong, whatever you did or didn’t do was wrong, wherever you went or didn’t go was wrong, whenever…

    Yes, all that, as well as the good girl/bad girl dichotomy. The whole business is geared to blame you for what happens.

  60. AMM says

    I read Justine’s article (but not the comments. If PZ says they’re bad, I’ll take his word for it.)

    Somehow, the whole thing reminding me of descriptions of how child molesters “groom” their victims. The whole business of making it seem like the perp is their friend and cares about them as a person, making the victim feel grateful. And of course subtly making the lead-up behavior seem normal, even loving.

    One piece really struck me, though:

    I cannot explain to men how hard it is being a woman trying to play it cool in an industry of men. I want everyone to think I’m cool and relaxed so I try and just play by their rules.

    I’m not Justine, but I can’t help wondering: what does it feel like when your perspective suddenly changes, and suddenly all that mentoring and friendship and group bonding and inculcuation into the culture starts looking like just a way to brainwash you into willingly turning yourself into a sex object? When “playing by their rules” now seems to mean “put out for them”? Remember, this is the guy with whom she had the closest relationship in the company and who she had the most trust in.

    I’ve had much, much milder experiences where something happened and suddenly months or years of a relationship with a group suddenly looked different (and worse), and it really destroys your trust in yourself. There’s a real feeling of “what is the matter with me that I didn’t see it years ago?”

    My heart goes out to Justine. I’m sure I’ll never really understand what it’s like for her. I hope (in this forum I won’t say “pray” :-) ) that somehow she is able to find some healing, because it sounds like she’s still hurting bad.

  61. Tethys says

    My heart goes out to Justine. I even braved the comment section just to see the nyms of the haters.
    It is as horrible as advertised, with lots of blaming her, and trying to make her ashamed of the repurcussions for Joe the assaulters family. I fled after reading that particular bit of vileness.

    I am very pleased to see that a few non-NT people asked some typical questions, and it resulted in good communication rather than the non-NT person being smashed to a bloody pulp for asking for clarification.

  62. 5Up Mushroom says

    I read through a few of the comments this morning when it was posted to Hacker News. Absolutely appalling. I only made it through maybe 10 comments before I was to sick to continue. What an abysmal group of people. I wish she would have just turned the comments off before posting, but since she hasn’t, it serves as an amazing record of the depth of depravity that these people live in.

  63. says

    I wish she would have just turned the comments off before posting, but since she hasn’t, it serves as an amazing record of the depth of depravity that these people live in.

    She wrote a tweet saying:

    I am leaving comments on exactly because of that [referring I believe to comment by "Erin"]. Although they hurt me, they are a prime example why victims don’t speak up.

  64. ericgarth says

    “These are appropriate responses to an event she took very seriously and found extremely traumatic”

    Appropriate is a tricky concept in a situation like this. It is very true that “no one else can tell her how she should feel about it”. No one, not even those of us with a history of being resilient in response to bad things, can control how we will react to a denial of our autonomy, and it is entirely natural to feel bad in response to a bad event. The only thing ‘wrong’ with feeling bad about your autonomy being infringed is that it involves feeling bad, and it is entirely reasonable to want to not feel bad.

    While it may not be possible to avoid feeling bad in one way or another, someone in Justine’s situation deserves to feel better than she has been feeling – and no matter how much Justine questions herself about what she ‘should have done’ to prevent the infringement of her autonomy she does not deserve feeling bad about herself or humanity.

  65. thetalkingstove says

    I also made the mistake of reading some of the hideous comments and am now in full HULK SMASH mode.

    But more productively I’ll HULK DONATE to an appropriate charity instead.

    But fuck. People can be so very, very awful.

  66. Ogvorbis: Apologies Available for All! says

    ericgarth@71:

    While it may not be possible to avoid feeling bad in one way or another. . .

    Other than pharmaceuticals, how?

  67. says

    ericgarth:

    Appropriate is a tricky concept in a situation like this.

    You don’t say. You’re on tricky ground here, Eric, as Pharyngula is populated with a legion of people who have been raped a/o sexually assaulted. Unless you wish to speak to your own experience, and your own experience alone, please do not comment in that vein again, as people who have been raped a/o sexually assaulted don’t much care for someone else speaking to their experience. And no, that does not give you license to argue on the basis of taking issue with PZ’s wording. Short form: be a good person and think about the clue provided.

  68. WhiteHatLurker says

    our culture has a sick attitude towards women.

    Yes, it does. Even more depressingly, it’s not the only one that does.

  69. soegija nirwan says

    Weirdly, Richard Stallman shows up to lecture everyone on how to properly refer to GNU/Linux.

    “Richard Stallman” posting that lecture on GNU/Linux was a popular meme a few years ago; it’s not really him.

  70. Jonathan, der Ewige Noobe says

    WhiteHatLurker @75:
    Oh, but Boudica and the Haudenosaunee and noble savage golden age state of nature and need I mention THINLY DISGUISED ANARCHO-PRIMITIVISM!!1!
    Ahem. Sorry, just… one of my rage buttons.

  71. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    I am very pleased to see that a few non-NT people asked some typical questions, and it resulted in good communication rather than the non-NT person being smashed to a bloody pulp for asking for clarification.

    Me too.

    Appropriate is a tricky concept in a situation like this.

    I assume what you’re getting at here is that there’s an implication that there are “inappropriate” reactions this might be contrasted with, and that this is problematic?

  72. No One says

    Nine years ago I was stalked by one of my students. She was married and had two kids. She informed me that her husband was armed, and extremely jealous. But, she assured me, she was very good at hiding her “fun-times” from her husband. I declined. She demanded to know why. I explained that she was a student and that it was in-appropriate, not to mention that she was married. That was me being polite. We had a policy of allowing students who were not in the class to sit and use empty computer stations to do their work as needed. She used this policy to stalk me from classroom to classroom. She would make flattering comments about my appearance and “hotness”. She waited for me in the parking lot. She would hop into the elevator and speak to me as if we were dating in front of my colleagues. I received hundreds of emails.

    One day I had enough and complained to my Chair and HR. I ended up in front of the Dean. The first thing out of her mouth “It appears you have an admirer” with a smile on her face. I got it then… this is what sexual harassment is. The Dean, HR and the Chair did… nothing.

    Finally one day as students were filing out at the end of class. she said “You know one day I’m going to get you to have that cup coffee with me”. My students froze. Some had figured out that I was being harassed, the others were trying parse what the hell she was talking about.

    I’d had enough at that point and told her “Fuck off”. She protested, told me I couldn’t talk to her that way… etc. I stood my ground and repeated “Fuck off”. I got lucky, I didn’t get fired, and she left me alone after that.

    Nothing as traumatic as being assaulted or raped, but it made for a very un-comfortable year. I actually dreaded getting up some mornings. I really hate the memory of that feeling.

  73. smhll says

    I read about 20 comments before I couldn’t stand any more. (More proof that many of the horde don’t obey the dictats of PZ unless they are so inclined. Apparently the level of brainwashing is not sufficient to overcome the level of stubborn cussedness.) (Speaking for myself.)

  74. FossilFishy(Anti-Vulcanist) says

    A blink of an eye. Not a very precise measure, but a very human one, and in my case an accurate one.

    One moment I was healthy and the next I was on my back and the whole of my world centred around the fire in my right knee. The slip and fall resulted in completely severing my patella tendon and began what’s now been a month of pain and struggle. Everything, every damn thing, takes a lot of time now. Showering, walking, working, even going to the toilet all happen at a pace that my 6 year old child can easily best despite her vulnerability to shiny distractions.

    Not a week before this accident I had returned home to Australia from Canada. My mother had died and I had flown back for the funeral. It was five days from the time I got the call that she was in hospital until her death.

    Everything seems fragile now.

    Three days after my surgery my wife and child drove 50K to see the ballet. I spent much of the time they were away weeping, aware that the two most important parts of my life were travelling at highway speed in an aging car, aware that all that I care about could disappear in the blink of an eye. This is not pessimism, it’s fact. That I’m pushing my way through thickets of this realisation daily doesn’t mean it wasn’t so before. The world hasn’t changed, but my perception of it has.

    But here’s the thing: I have no other mother to die, nor is my daily life filled with short slopes of rain sodden turf. Even watching my loved ones drive away without me is a rare occurrence. Rape victims not only have to deal with this shift in their perceptions, but they’re forced to deal with it every time they’re around someone who could possibly rape them. They live in a world with seven billion potential reminders.

    I can’t pretend to know what it’s like to be a rape survivor. All I can do is take my experiences and extrapolate. I also can’t imagine that anyone who struggles to understand why it is that rape is so traumatic will find some clue in the above, but this is all I can think to do.

    Well, that and to remind people to shut up and listen to the survivors. Advice which I will now take myself.

  75. lindsay says

    OptimalCynic@16:
    Sexual assault/abuse turns something positive (sexuality) into a negative. It makes it difficult for survivors to have intimate relationships. Since most sexual assault/abuse is committed by someone the victim knows (all too often a family member), it makes it very hard to trust anyone.

    Due to past negative experiences, I really, really hate being touched by other people. But being touched is a basic mammalian need. So I compensate by having pets to cuddle with. I’m sure I’m not the only one that does so.

  76. nutella says

    Part of the story is how one of Justine’s colleagues broke her away from Joe. Two male colleagues saw what was happening from a distance and although one was too shocked or confused to act, the other walked up, tapped Justine on the shoulder, and asked if she’d like to go out for a smoke. This was enough to separate her from Joe and stop the assault.

    It’s something I’ll remember, that an assault can occur in what appears to be a pleasant social occasion and that there is something a bystander can do, even if the bystander can’t see enough to be 100% sure it is an assault and even if the assailant is the bystander’s boss.

  77. says

    I spent the better part of 4 hours with a gun toting depressive that was drunk and had just gambled away his paycheck. The reason the robbery took so long was he couldn’t open the safe to get the money so he figured he would make me pump gas to make more money and in between cars he would stand over me playing with the gun while I worked on the safe lid. I still wake up with panic attacks 19 years later. I can’t function properly on my best day, even with medication. I’ve never heard one person tell me to buck up and grow a pair in all those years. Why am I so different

  78. ericgarth says

    Caine, Fleur du mal @

    So saying that someone deserves to feel better than he or she does is a bad thing? Are you suggesting that someone who has had something bad happen to them should feel as bad as they do? That strikes me as pretty strange.

    Having something bad happen to a person does not mean that they are obligated to feel bad, not even if their feeling bad makes the people around them feel better. It may be that a person does feel bad – something I am far too familiar with – but the fact that they are feeling bad does not place an obligation on them to feel bad. Having something bad happen to you may screw up the ability to feel happy, but it does not make it wrong to be happy. The best revenge is living well, and everyone should try to do that at whatever pace and in whatever way they find works best for them – as they understand themselves.

    Please tell me what crime I have committed now.

  79. scimaths says

    ericgarth 85

    Please tell me what crime I have committed now.

    Well if being a sanctimonious, self-absorbed little turd was a crime, then you’d be bang to rights wouldn’t you ?

  80. left0ver1under says

    Situations like this make one want to say something, but what? How does a person offer support without seeming to tell others what to do or how they should feel?

    My initial reaction to Justine’s story is to say wellwishing, and I bet even this could be out of line:

    “Whether it’s by yourself or with help from someone else, I hope you find what makes you feel happy again.”

    I haven’t read the comments and won’t be going there to post anything – not just because of the comments, but because Justine has probably stopped reading them.

  81. echidna says

    This line certainly speaks to me.

    I cannot explain to men how hard it is being a woman trying to play it cool in an industry of men. I want everyone to think I’m cool and relaxed so I try and just play by their rules.

    The problem is that ‘their rules’ don’t apply to women. The normal rules that these men would normally apply to women also don’t apply to a colleague. It’s really difficult to get something workable.

  82. FossilFishy(Anti-Vulcanist) says

    ericgarth #85

    No one claimed that rape victims are obligated to feel bad, that notion is a construct residing solely inside your head. The things you’re saying are not news to anyone, stop trying to explain the obvious to the already informed. All it does is make you look like an insensitive douche.

  83. Maureen Brian says

    ericgarth,

    Enough, already!

    We are talking here are about attempted rape and about the mind-bogglingly stupid comments made in every such case by the floating turds of the internet, comments which in this case I have not read because I know I can be triggered.

    We are also talking Psychology 101, a class which you seem to have skipped.

    TRIGGER WARNING

    Anyone experiencing a traumatic event is going to react to it. This doesn’t just apply to this total betrayal of trust, it happens with bereavement as FossilFishy reminds us, and with multi-car pile-ups on the motorway and when your best mate is blown to smithereens in Afghanistan and bits of him end up in your ration tin.

    From any of those you can emerge physically unscathed. Anyone will, though, experience a range of emotions and – this is the important bit, ericgarth, so LISTEN UP! – with different intensities and in a different order for each individual. Not all of those emotions will seem relevant to you but, then it’s not you working through your entire repertoire of knowledge and emotions, trying to find an equilibrium again. Is it?

    So if you stand there like a white-gloved traffic policeman telling people what emotion they are allowed to have, in what order and for how long then you are not simply being rude and intrusive. You could well be making things worse not just for this victim but for all the others who know what the fuck I am talking about.

    Let’s move right away from rape and see if you can understand a different story. As folks here know, I am seriously old. I had a cousin, also my godfather, who was in the front line trench on the first day of the Somme. If you do not know of the sheer horror of that engagement – sending troops with rifles and bayonets, without body armour, through barbed wire against medium to heavy artillery – or of the death rate just on that day then I suggest you look it up before we proceed.

    Now, Edwin emerged from that physically unhurt but massively damaged. We now know that he should have been given space to go through those emotions, in whatever way, and with a bit of help maybe to recover. Except that we also know that if he had displayed any reaction in the years he was on the Western Front he’d have been shot for cowardice and if he’d done it as soon as he got back to “Blighty” he’d have been locked up in the local lunatic asylum, probably for life.

    Anyway, he was 19 or 20 on 1 July 1916 and lived to nearly 90. All the emotional energy he could summon for the rest of his life went into acting normal. He wasn’t normal at all. He was empty and hollowed out so that by the time help might have been available it was too late.

    There were hundreds of thousands like Edwin and the very last thing they needed was traffic policemen. Ditto the hundreds of thousands of rape victims. Get it now?

  84. zmidponk says

    Just a small comment on the idea of ‘oh, it’s the 4chan crowd’ being apologia, or a reason to ignore the comments – it’s not. Even if it is the case that most of the most loathsome and vile comments over there are from the 4chan crowd, and 4chan may be a concentration of the most vile parts and users of the internet, but who are the users of 4chan? Other members of ‘meatspace’ society. This means that, say, the commenter ‘/B/RO’, who posted, “It appears you have down syndrome, given that you think rape culture is real. Let’s get some things straight, bitch deserved it, so would you”, could actually be, to pick a random example, the guy who regularly sits at the next table in the diner where you normally have lunch. The fact he found out about Justine’s blog post via 4chan fails to make his comment ignorable, or any less vile, even if he meant it as a bit of ‘fun’ or ‘trolling’.

  85. mnb0 says

    “his tongue down her throat while she vocally protested.”
    Ugh, that combination induces some disturbing pictures in my mind.

    “she’s wracked with guilt and self-recrimination”
    To Justine, if she reads this, and to all other women with similar experiences: no. Categorally no. It’s one of the sick Abrahamistic influences that we – especially women – should feel responsible for the wrongdoings of other people. That boss is an adult. As such he and nobnody else is responsible for what he did, ie neglecting and disrespecting “no”. If a woman says no she means no. That was a Dutch government campaign about 25 years ago.

    http://www.viva.nl/nieuws/foute-mannen.html

  86. nathanaelnerode says

    “why is sexual assault so much more traumatic than other kinds of assault, and is there a way that it can be made less traumatic for the victim?”
    One major reason: because people let the assaulter get away with it and insult the victim.

    “In short: Can somebody explain to me why the emotional consequences of sexual assault are so much more serious than other kinds of assault, and is there any research into ways of inoculating people against those consequences? ”

    For reference, non-sexual assault can lead to *exactly the same* extremely serious emotional consequences, especially if the assaulter gets away with it and is roaming the streets freely, while people insult and belittle the victim.

    I moved out of the house where I was assaulted by someone who I thought I was safe around. And that was a minor assault, not an aggravated assault, and the police at least took me half-seriously (though the police denied that it was an assault — as if they actually know what the legal definition of assault is, which they don’t, and I double-checked).

    Ask people who’ve been beaten up by police about the emotional effect: they often have to move to different *cities* to stop having panic attacks. Even that doesn’t necessarily help.

    Maureen Brian gives another example — war trauma. In WWI in particular, many many people mocked and insulted, or even *executed* (as she notes) victims of “shell shock”.

    The thing is, the process whereby people support the assaulter and belittle the victim happens *way more often* with sexual assault.

    I have read two stories by people who were sexually assaulted by strangers when they were children, where the strangers were quickly arrested, locked up — and the assault victim pretty much blew it off within a few years. The really bad emotional reactions are partly a matter of not feeling safe, and if society lets you feel that what happened to you was an aberration which won’t happen again, you may be able to feel safe again. If society is on the side of the assaulters… how can you feel safe?

    I’ve also read many, many, many statements from rape survivors to the effect that their treatment by an abusive, violent legal system was worse than the initial rape.

    I’m not neurotypical myself; I hope I was able to answer your question.

  87. chigau (違う) says

    nathanaelnerode
    If you use this pattern

    <blockquote>paste copied text here</blockquote>

    it results in this

    paste copied text here

    it will makes your comments easier to read.

  88. says

    Maureen:

    Anyway, he was 19 or 20 on 1 July 1916 and lived to nearly 90. All the emotional energy he could summon for the rest of his life went into acting normal. He wasn’t normal at all. He was empty and hollowed out so that by the time help might have been available it was too late.

    That makes my heart ache beyond measure. Thank you for sharing Edwin’s story, Maureen.

  89. ericgarth says

    “Ogvorbis: Apologies Available for All!
    12 October 2013 at 6:10 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment
    ericgarth@71:
    While it may not be possible to avoid feeling bad in one way or another. . .
    Other than pharmaceuticals, how?”

    Interesting, in reply to my noting that it may not be possible to avoid feeling bad your response is to ask how you cannot feel bad.

    One non-pharmaceutical option I would suggest is to make a point of being aware of the good things in life, and – this is the important part – realize that having much of your life sucks does not mean that good things are not real. From my own memories: It was a relief when they stopped kicking me, but what made it ever so much better was seeing the sunlight do little rainbow glints off the stinking mud that I was lying in. The beauty complimented the decrease in pain quite nicely.

    “scimaths
    13 October 2013 at 3:24 am (UTC -5)
    ericgarth 85
    Please tell me what crime I have committed now.
    Well if being a sanctimonious, self-absorbed little turd was a crime, then you’d be bang to rights wouldn’t you ?”

    What, precisely, have I said that gave you that impression? Which sentence, which choice of words, is it that you perceive as facilitating your thinking that I am self-absorbed?

    Note that it was not I who first started issuing personal insults.

    “FossilFishy(Anti-Vulcanist)
    13 October 2013 at 5:03 am (UTC -5) Link to this comment
    ericgarth #85
    No one claimed that rape victims are obligated to feel bad, that notion is a construct residing solely inside your head. The things you’re saying are not news to anyone, stop trying to explain the obvious to the already informed. All it does is make you look like an insensitive douche.”

    One of the common thought processes in a human mind is a desire to behave appropriately, or more specifically a desire to not behave inappropriately. For much of human history behaving inappropriately could result in the other people in your community not being nearly as helpful as you needed them to be.

    The only truly appropriate behavior for a rape victim, or anyone else who has been abused, is whatever enables that person to feel like a perfectly valid and happy human being. Anyone else defining what is appropriate is providing a social expectation that may not work very well for the abuse survivor.

    I do ask you to reconsider your choice of insult though. Gendered insults do not advance the cause of freedom and dignity.

    “Maureen Brian
    13 October 2013 at 6:09 am (UTC -5) Link to this comment
    ericgarth,
    Enough, already!
    We are talking here are about attempted rape and about the mind-bogglingly stupid comments made in every such case by the floating turds of the internet, comments which in this case I have not read because I know I can be triggered.
    We are also talking Psychology 101, a class which you seem to have skipped.”

    I actually did quite well in Psychology 101.

    “TRIGGER WARNING
    Anyone experiencing a traumatic event is going to react to it. This doesn’t just apply to this total betrayal of trust, it happens with bereavement as FossilFishy reminds us, and with multi-car pile-ups on the motorway and when your best mate is blown to smithereens in Afghanistan and bits of him end up in your ration tin.
    From any of those you can emerge physically unscathed. Anyone will, though, experience a range of emotions and – this is the important bit, ericgarth, so LISTEN UP! – with different intensities and in a different order for each individual. Not all of those emotions will seem relevant to you but, then it’s not you working through your entire repertoire of knowledge and emotions, trying to find an equilibrium again. Is it?”

    All true, and completely consistent with what I have already said.

    “So if you stand there like a white-gloved traffic policeman telling people what emotion they are allowed to have, in what order and for how long then you are not simply being rude and intrusive. You could well be making things worse not just for this victim but for all the others who know what the fuck I am talking about.”

    This is precisely what I was objecting to. It is not appropriate for anyone to define, constrain, or limit, the ways that someone who has been traumatized may react. Telling someone deeply traumatized that their behavior is “appropriate” can strongly imply to them that they are supposed to feel traumatized, and that any time they have a good minute, a good hour, a good day, they are being an ‘inappropriate victim’.

    Also, a significant percentage of human on human violence is about dominance and social rank. Someone who becomes convinced that in order to be a good person they have to remain traumatized is doing exactly what their abuser wanted them to do. Rejecting the idea that you must feel bad because you are a victim does not miraculously enable a person to feel better – but at least they do not also feel that they have to feel bad.

    There is an old rhyme that I was told quite a few times: “Sticks and stones will break your bones, but words can never hurt you”. This rhyme is perfidious. The rhyme should be “Sticks and stones will break your bones, but only words can make you think you deserve it”. Words matter, words matter a lot. And even well-intentioned words can add to the damage caused by the literal or metaphorical sticks and stones.

    “Let’s move right away from rape and see if you can understand a different story. As folks here know, I am seriously old. I had a cousin, also my godfather, who was in the front line trench on the first day of the Somme. If you do not know of the sheer horror of that engagement – sending troops with rifles and bayonets, without body armour, through barbed wire against medium to heavy artillery – or of the death rate just on that day then I suggest you look it up before we proceed.
    Now, Edwin emerged from that physically unhurt but massively damaged. We now know that he should have been given space to go through those emotions, in whatever way, and with a bit of help maybe to recover. Except that we also know that if he had displayed any reaction in the years he was on the Western Front he’d have been shot for cowardice and if he’d done it as soon as he got back to “Blighty” he’d have been locked up in the local lunatic asylum, probably for life.
    Anyway, he was 19 or 20 on 1 July 1916 and lived to nearly 90. All the emotional energy he could summon for the rest of his life went into acting normal. He wasn’t normal at all. He was empty and hollowed out so that by the time help might have been available it was too late.
    There were hundreds of thousands like Edwin and the very last thing they needed was traffic policemen. Ditto the hundreds of thousands of rape victims. Get it now?”

    What, precisely, in what I have posted gave you the impression that I do not profoundly and deeply understand this? Which sentence, which choice of words? Be specific.

    (If anything your cousin Edwin, and others, could use a traffic policeman in order to be allowed the room to process and persevere on their own terms. Remember, traffic police are there to facilitate the flow of traffic so that an individual has a chance to do what they want in a way that – despite the obvious limitations of a road network – usually feels pretty much like they are doing it their way, for their reasons, and at their pace.)

  90. says

    ericgarth

    When quoting someone,

    <blockquote>Paste quoted words here</blockquote>

    Produces:

    Paste quoted words here

  91. ericgarth says

    Caine, Fleur du mal,

    I made a perfectly reasonable point that the expectation of ‘appropriate behavior’ could be problematic and that the stressed person was the only legitimate definer of what they should do, feel, etc. and got called names for it. So far no one has been able to point to anything in what I said that was the least bit inappropriate, non-supportive, or condemning of someone with overwhelming stress.

    If you want to make a useful contribution you can explain how what I have written constitutes thinking that this thread is all about me or constitutes whining – and how the postings of yourself and the other people commenting in this thread are not. If you want to claim that I am doing something wrong you have to explain what it is – with reference to what I actually said, and not to your misreadings of what I wrote, otherwise keep your misreadings and inaccurate assumptions to yourself.

  92. says

    ericgarth:

    I made a perfectly reasonable point that the expectation of ‘appropriate behavior’ could be problematic

    Your point was not reasonable, and people have refuted your nonsense throughout the thread. Complaining about what “crimes” you have committed, and going on at length about your refuted point are now going off topic, and you continue to attempt to make this thread about you. That needs to stop. You’ve been given an option for an outlet to continue, I suggest you take it. As you seem to wish official, here you are:

    Monitor note:

    II. You may be banned from a comment thread if:

    Your comments are repetitive, especially if you repeat arguments that have already been addressed.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/rules/

    Once more, if you wish to continue with your repetitive points, or complain about your “crimes” or anything else, please take it to thunderdome, which is the appropriate thread. Thank you.

  93. says

    …I think it’s time for the sexism education link dump again :D Thanks to Caine, for putting this together:

    Part 1:

    Explainer: What’s an MRA? http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2007/10/explainer-whats-mra.html

    Rape Culture http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_culture

    Rape Culture 101 https://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2009/10/19/rape-culture-101/

    http://victimblaming.tumblr.com/

    Excellent explanation of privilege https://sindeloke.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/37/

  94. says

  95. says

    On the Wiki
    Wiki Activity
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    Contribute
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    My watchlist Random page Recent changes
    Sexism Education 101 Link Dump
    Edit
    Talk0
    215pages on
    this wiki

    This is a handy link dump put together by Caine for threads involving sexism, feminism, or rape topics. Hopefully, posting this to the beggining of every thread dealing with these topics will save us many keystrokes later when clueless commenters start arriving on the scene. We can reduce a lot of responses into one: “Have you read the links posted upthread?”

    Note that this needs to be a multipart posting at Pharyngula, as only 5 links are allowed per post without triggering moderation.
    Link Dump, to be posted in 4 partsEdit

    Part 1:

    Explainer: What’s an MRA? http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2007/10/explainer-whats-mra.html

    Rape Culture http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_culture

    Rape Culture 101 https://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2009/10/19/rape-culture-101/

    http://victimblaming.tumblr.com/

    Excellent explanation of privilege https://sindeloke.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/37/

    Part 2:

    Nice Guy™ 101. http://synecdochic.livejournal.com/214607.html

    Schroedinger’s Rapist. http://kateharding.net/2009/10/08/guest-blogger-starling-schrodinger%E2%80%99s-rapist-or-a-guy%E2%80%99s-guide-to-approaching-strange-women-without-being-maced/

    Meet the Predators http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/meet-the-predators/

    Predator Redux https://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/predator-redux/

    Things Happen to Men Too http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/10/18/phmt-argument/

    Part 3:

    XYOnline http://www.xyonline.net/

    The Male Privilege Checklist http://www.amptoons.com/blog/the-male-privilege-checklist/

    Intent is not magic http://genderbitch.wordpress.com/2010/01/23/intent-its-fucking-magic/

    Straight Privilege Checklist http://lgbteducationforum.com/?p=123

    Rape Prevention Aimed At Rapists Works http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2013/01/08/rape-prevention-aimed-at-rapists-does-work/

  96. says

  97. Maureen Brian says

    ericgarth,

    I saw your @ 97 last evening and was tempted at first to reply. I went to make a coffee first and by the time I’d done that I was just thinking “fucking idiot” so I watched a BBC history documentary instead and, agreeing with Caine that it was time to move on, went to bed.

    I see that you are still here. I’ll ask you, therefore, to look at your @ 72. When you first appeared, questioning the very concept of the person who has been traumatised being the one to determine what are appropriate responses – in the OP – you either came to entirely the wrong understanding of what PZ was saying or said one thing for attention, then came back @ 100 to contradict yourself. Not impressive! Not cool!

    You are arguing with people here who have had experiences you can’t imagine. You are arguing with people who have spent all their lives dealing with their own and other people’s traumas. You are arguing with a first responder who was in one of the hairiest emergency situations in living memory and your still think he needs your advice on dealing with levels of stress so great the brain and the body cease to function?

    In these parts we do not usually make assumptions about a person’s gender or sexuality. We wait until they tell us, if they ever do. But, matey,you have got to be a bloke! Only a privileged person, isolated from reality, expecting deference even when he’s the rookie, quite unable to cope with someone who has different experiences, could do as you have done.

    You have no insight to offer. On your showing here you are part of the problem.

  98. ericgarth says

    107 Maureen Brian 14 October 2013 at 2:45 am (UTC -5) ericgarth, [snip] I see that you are still here. I’ll ask you, therefore, to look at your @ 72. When you first appeared, questioning the very concept of the person who has been traumatised being the one to determine what are appropriate responses – in the OP – you either came to entirely the wrong understanding of what PZ was saying or said one thing for attention, then came back @ 100 to contradict yourself. Not impressive! Not cool!

    Then you need to reread what I wrote. I explicitly did not question the concept of “the person who has been traumatized being the one to determine what are appropriate responses”. I said the precise opposite.

    No one but the traumatized gets to decide what is ‘appropriate’. Other people can say ‘that response is surprising’, or ‘that response troubles me’, and a whole variety of other observations of their own reaction to the knowledge of trauma, but the only person who gets to use the term ‘appropriate response’ is the traumatized person.

    You are arguing with people here who have had experiences you can’t imagine. [snip]

    I have not been arguing with anyone. I was attacked for what I wrote, but everyone who attacked me seems to think that I wrote something different from what I wrote.

    So far no one has been able to point to a single offending choice of words, sentence, or paragraph.

    As for “experiences I can’t imagine”, I assure you that my imagination has significant real world facts upon which to base speculation. Clearly I made a mistake in using a gendered name on this forum, but since you have correctly guessed my gender I’ll note that I do not take my shirt off in public, and usually wear long pants and long sleeves because I do not like to answer questions about how I got my scars. I know experientially that being told how I should behave as a ‘trauma victim’ was not good for my recovery – and everyone involved in putting those expectations into my head was filled with good intentions.

  99. Maureen Brian says

    Does not compute.

    I find it difficult to reconcile the account you give now with the way you have behaved. I note that I am not the only one who mistook you for an arrogant, didactic MRA or similar.

    If the story you now give us is correct then I apologise. That, though, still leaves you needing to address how you come across to a group of people who know nothing of you. We are not clones of each other here. We fall out and have blazing rows once in a while but when several of us come to the same conclusion then the normal rules of cause and effect indicate there must be a reason why.

  100. says

    ericgarth

    No one but the traumatized gets to decide what is ‘appropriate’. Other people can say ‘that response is surprising’, or ‘that response troubles me’, and a whole variety of other observations of their own reaction to the knowledge of trauma, but the only person who gets to use the term ‘appropriate response’ is the traumatized person.

    Thanks for the insight. Certainly I, as an abuse victim, had never realised this. I’m sure none of the other victims of abuses and assaults here had never realised it.

    Oh, wait…

    Thank you for exercising your right to patronise us. I hope you found it a pleasant experience. We didn’t.

  101. Tethys says

    ericgarth

    I think your post is written in a manner that makes it communicate a message that is exactly the opposite of what you meant to say.

    Here is the first sentence of your respose at #72, quoting the OP.

    “These are appropriate responses to an event she took very seriously and found extremely traumatic”

    Appropriate is a tricky concept in a situation like this.

    It immediately sets your tone as someone who is disagreeing that the victim took the assault seriously, or was traumatized by it.

    Caine warned you against doing that at #75.

    Do you understand now why people are getting upset with you?

  102. Ogvorbis: Apologies Available for All! says

    ericgarth:

    Other people can say ‘that response is surprising’, or ‘that response troubles me’, and a whole variety of other observations of their own reaction to the knowledge of trauma . . .

    How convenient. I am allowed to have my own reactions, but you reserve to yourself to tell me that you are troubled by how I have responded?

    I spent three weeks in New York City as an SEC2 working for the Incident Management Team supporting the rescue workers. I, because I was an easterner and therefore knew how to drive in NYC, ended up down at the pile many times. Others had far greater exposure to the horrors of that mass murder. Some experience much greater trauma, some less. I still experience flashbacks, nightmares, olfactory illusions, and panic attacks. Is my reaction troubling?

    I was raped, repeatedly, by my scout leader when I was in Cub Scouts. I was did some horrific things during that time. And I put it away into the recesses of my mind (I remembered hating scouts because my leader was a pervert but that was it) for more than 30 years. Now, as a man in my mid-40s, I have nightmares, panic attacks, and am reduced to tears on occasion. Is my reaction troubling? Is my depression wrong?

    When someone is traumatized, the way that trauma manifests itself can vary immensely. It is not my place to compare the trauma of others to what I experienced, and how it has affected me, and attempt to make a judgement as to whether my reaction is troubling.

  103. ericgarth says

    Y’all are freaking bizarre.

    [Quote] I find it difficult to reconcile the account you give now with the way you have behaved /[Quote]

    All I ever did was ask why people were mad at me, and no one has yet given a reason that relates to what I actually wrote.

    [Quote] patronise us {/Quote}

    How was any of what I said patronizing? And how is ‘being patronizing’ different from expressing agreement?

    [Quote] It immediately sets your tone as someone who is disagreeing that the victim took the assault seriously, or was traumatized by it. [/Quote]

    How does it do that? Particularly in light of my very next sentence?

    [Quote] How convenient. I am allowed to have my own reactions, but you reserve to yourself to tell me that you are troubled by how I have responded? [/Quote]

    Yes. I became suicidal for several days a year after my ‘incident’. It was entirely reasonable for people to tell me that they were troubled by that response. Finding out (again) that I have friends who prefer for me to not be dead was helpful.

    And it is not a matter of ‘you are allowed’ to have your own reactions, it is that you have your own reactions regardless of what anyone else thinks, feels, or prefers. That intrinsic fact does not mean that others will not have their reactions, including reactions to your reactions. People are going to react to things, and not every reaction is going to go over well with others. As long as it is clear – and by clear I mean freaking transparent and obvious – that when someone talks to me about how they are troubled by my suicide attempts they are talking about their feelings and not imposing ‘their requirements on me’, it is perfectly fine for someone to speak their mind to me.

    Hopefully you also have supportive friends who feel free to express their wishes for you to be a better human being than you are – as you define ‘better’. I am very glad that I do….even though my survival resulted in me posting a comment that was astoundingly misinterpreted by people.

  104. says

    Ericgarth #114

    I get that your main point seems to have been that how we react is how we react, and that no one should tell us how to react or how we’re allowed to react. What I don’t get is why you felt the need to tell us this, as if we didn’t already know it.

    If many people are misconstruing your meaning, you might want to consider that the fault might lie in your own wording, rather than in those people’s reading.

  105. Tethys says

    It immediately sets your tone as someone who is disagreeing that the victim took the assault seriously, or was traumatized by it.

    How does it do that? Particularly in light of my very next sentence?

    Because that is how writing works. Your first sentence sets the tone for everything that comes after it.

    Your first sentence reads like you are disagreeing, so everything that comes after is being read as if it is from the POV of a person who is disagreeing.

    Less defensivness and more clarifying that you did not mean to imply disagreement would be a good idea.

  106. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    EricGarth,

    Obviously you haven’t heard of an abstract or executive summary. Remember the old advice for a sermon: Tell them what you will tell them, tell them, tell them what you told them. The abstract/executive summary is the tell them what you will tell them for more formal papers/reports. For a blog, the first sentence should convey the direction you wish to go. If you wish to say something supportive, start out supportive. Why? Not all of use have the time to read each and every post word for word, and spend 10 minutes trying to decipher what was said. So, does the first sentence get my attention? Does the lead sentence in the next paragraph? If they don’t sound interesting, and I don’t have time to respond, on to the next post. Yours sounded like an MRA apologist, so I skipped and left you to the others.

  107. ericgarth says

    1.) I have no comprehension as to how my first sentence sounds like I am disagreeing with the sentence I quoted. In that first sentence I label the word “appropriate” as ‘tricky in that context’. That seems pretty darn orthogonal to ‘disagreement’ to me. Then I assert that a traumatized person has every right to respond as they as inclined, a supportive assertion that I was told is ‘patronizing’ (another poorly defined term, look it up and then look up the words used to define “patronize”), and so on. I have read and reread and rereread what I wrote and I still do not see any problem. I made it explicitly clear in my first post that everyone is entitled to respond in their own way, and frankly it still looks to me as if I made it fairly clear that the only person entitled to use the word ‘appropriate’ was the person who experienced the trauma.

    2.) I have had enough of being blamed for other people’s problems. People have complained about my ‘tone’ (how vague can you be?), raged about things that I did not say, and attributed bad motivations to my wanting to know why I was being pounded on. People even used terms of opprobrium, including a gendered term. And all of this has been done without regard for how being attacked for things I did not say would affect me. Some of you apparently believe that I am some sort of scum, but whether you believe it or not I would not treat even those people that I have an objective basis for labeling as scum the way that I have been treated here.

    3.) “

    paste copied text here

    ” I tried using the blockquote coding – as instructed – on Comment #109. As you can see the results are unclear. Earlier I tried to use the “

    ” coding – but in the preview half of what I was quoting disappeared, and my comments looked like they were themselves being quoted.

    4.) I did start out my comment supportive (see the second sentence), and in the direction I wanted to go (social approval – i.e. ‘appropriate behavior’ – is a tricky thing). I can think of several times that I was told something that was intended to be supportive and I heard it as a criticism. The facial expressions, vocal characteristics, and interactions that convey approval are not always clear (particularly the line “I was just teasing”). That is why I learned to ask what someone means when I am not sure that I understand them, and even sometimes when I do think that I understand them.

    5.) I have been far too personally revealing here. I only referenced my own traumas because apparently a person is not allowed to support the autonomy of traumatized people unless one has been traumatized, it was an inelegant defense to what I still feel were completely unjustified attacks.

    6.) I am not going to read this set of comments again, as it is I will have nightmares again tonight. If anyone has anything that they feel they really must say to me they can write me at “e.garth@inbox.com”, but I reserve the right to not reply.

  108. Tethys says

    ericgarth

    I am very sorry for the trauma that you have suffered. Nobody should be subject to abuse.

    Please realize that I am trying to help you understand where the miscommunication occured so that you can avoid saying things that are problematic. I realize it has triggered you, and it was not my intent to add to your pain. Again, I am very sorry for that.

    I think we can all agree that there is no right or wrong way for the victim to feel, they just need support and understanding to help them heal.