We need a new gender


Because I’m really sick of sharing one with these pigs.

  • Texas male Dan Patrick is proposing to buy unwanted babies for $500 a head, but only if you promise you were going to abort it if you didn’t.

  • Sleazeball male tries to dope date, gets caught be sharp-eyed female bartender.

  • Male in pickup truck can’t get a woman’s attention by harrassing her, so he runs her over instead

Really, they aren’t my kind.

Comments

  1. Nate says

    The behavior of some males is annoying when there are males among the species that show something beyond normal intelligence. But alas, we are not to be known, for the media likes what causes a buzz not what is good

  2. Alex says

    I wonder if these males had protruding orbital ridges, 1200-1750cc cranial capacity, large nasal cavity, and stocky build?

    Probably not. That would be way too far along the development chain for behavior like that.

    Acts like those deserve the worst of corporal punishment.

  3. Louis says

    A controversial comment:

    Chris Roack did an excellent skit about there being two sorts of people with Afro Caribbean ancestry: black people (who are the nice section) and niggers (who are the naughty section).

    (Before anyone jumps on me I am not endorsing or criticising this bit I am merely mentioning its existence. Look up Chris’ video, it’s “Bring The Pain” I think, it’s really very funny, if only for the tossed salad man.)

    Perhaps we should have something like this. there are two male sexes: men (the nice section) and dembskis (the nasty section).

    I couldn’t think of a suitably vile and disgusting slur for the nasty male section, then I went and read UD. I don’t know if Dembski drugs or harms women or if he buys unwanted babies, in fact I seriously doubt he does any of these things, but I wanted a word that conveyed the epitome of cowardly, dishonest, bottom feeding, narrow minded, pigshit ignorant, duplicitous vileness that I occasionally see and makes me ashamed to be human. His name sprung to mind. Unfair? You betcha!

    Louis

  4. BlueIndependent says

    I hear ya PZ. Definitely the few bad apples that ruin it *SPECTACULARLY* for the rest of us law-abiding males.

    And Kseniya beat to posting that news story. Just another sad, sad example.

  5. Christian Burnham says

    Human males may be crass idiots on occasion, but at least we can take comfort in the fact that we’re members of the proud ape family.

  6. says

    While the human being in me is horrified at the behavior documented in the second story, the physicist can’t help but perk up his ears at the following part:

    The bartender rushed outside to tell the two women that while they had been talking, Szlamnik had dropped two pills into the new beer Tatiana had left behind on the table.

    “He did it again,” she said.

    All three women looked through a window and saw Szlamnik trying to wipe up beer that had foamed over the edge of Tatiana’s glass and was fizzing as if there were Alka-Seltzer in it.

    Girls, learn about nucleation sites. It can save you or someone you love from a very nasty experience.

  7. says

    Yeah, but let’s keep the pig-men ignorant of nucleation sites.

    Fortunately, I don’t think we’ll have to work too hard to do that.

  8. Kseniya says

    Each of these stories is disturbing, each for its own special reason, but the date-rape story really presses my buttons. All possible answers to the question, “Why would a handsome and successful guy. who’s apparently doing pretty well with this woman anyway, resort to drugging her?” are unsettling, to say the least.

    One of my best home-town friends, a beautiful and popular girl, was drugged by a guy at a high-school party one night. She had had a couple of beers and before she knew it, several hours had passed and she was waking up naked on the floor of a strange bedroom, and her “friend” had had his way with her.

    Of course, before two days had passed, it was all over school that she was a shameless slut. (Blaming the Victim: as American as The Super Bowl.) I and a few other friends made it our mission to make sure that everyone knew what had really happened and who was responsible, but the damage had been done.

    The perpetrator’s reputation around town was pretty well wrecked, but he was never prosecuted for rape. He should have been. As for my friend, I’d sad to say, that wouldn’t be the last time put herself at risk through her use and abuse of alcohol. Eight years later, she’s still doing it. She’s twenty-two years old now. (Do the math.)

  9. says

    My partner sometimes remarks that she doesn’t consider herself a “woman” in a social sense, because she deviates (in a good way) from most of them. I tend to think the same thing about myself with respect to the social expectations placed on men. In fact, I have a good time pointing out that the very concept of Machismo is self-contradictory. I like to call us unconventional or atypical, but perhaps we shientists can come up with a suitable prefix to add to man and woman (or male and female) that differentiates the behavior?

    About UD, I don’t find it very surprising that a good chunk of them seem to think that calling someone a woman is an insult, as they do to Dawkins and other pro-science folks. If that’s how men are ‘supposed to’ act (socially speaking), then calling someone a man would be equally insulting.

  10. Bob ryuu says

    Gender is much more than what bits hang between your legs; gender encompasses many more various things, from how one presents one’s self to potential sexual partners to how one acts in bed with said partner. Chances are that these men are very different in gender from you and I.

  11. says

    True on both counts, Prof. Myers. . . .

    The second thought which struck me after reading that story was that neither of the drugs involved (zalepron and alprazolam) are in the category of substances demonized as date-rape drugs. The first is the commercial sleep aid Sonata and the second is Xanax. I was expecting something big, bad, scary and Schedule I like, I dunno, GHB or something.

    Maybe scheduling isn’t the solution to all our chemical problems. Else we’d have to make Xanax as illegal as heroin. . . .

    (Note: I had a devil of a time getting this comment to appear. Xanax joins Prozac, incest and soma on the Naughty Words List.)

  12. M says

    Some things simply make me ashamed to be male.

    AS horrible as it is, I can’t help but think that humanity wouldn’t suffer too much if the death penalty was enacted for rape and attempted rape…

  13. says

    You’re a biologist, PZ. You should be able to come up with a new gender and implement the conversion. I salute your pioneering spirit!

  14. Tinny says

    And yet some people are shocked when I confess that I use to carry a taser and a knife if I was working nights at the lab as an undergrad…

  15. Kseniya says

    Hmmm a guy named Szlamnik tries to drug a woman who has a Russian accent, and a petite female bartender named Karolina Obrycka gets battered by an off-duty cop. I detect a strong Slavic element in these stories. Now that I think about it, “Szlamnik” sounds like just the right term for a guy doing time in the slammer.

    Seriously, though. Sometimes I wonder, since the burrgeoning of the whole mail-order bride thing, whether Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian and other eastern European women are viewed as being easy, or as property, or as a commodity in the eyes of western (read: American) men. (Am I off-topic yet?)

  16. Chinchillazilla says

    $500? *wipes away tears* Oh, boy.

    Yes, if you carry this unwanted fetus around inside your abdomen for nine months at the cost of not being able to do squat because it’ll hurt the baby, I’ll give you a dollar!

  17. Margaret says

    There’s no shame in being an adult male human being. The male creatures mentioned earlier are male and may technically be part of Homo sapiens, but they are not adult and I would not call them truly human. As a woman, I cringe at certain subservient and/or empty-headed female behavior sometimes highlighted in the news. Stupidity and violence will never go away completely, but I have hope for a day when we can all cringe at such sub-human behavior just because it comes from a member of Homo sapiens like ourselves, and not because it comes from a man/woman/black/white/asian like ourselves.

  18. Colugo says

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali:
    http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/03/24/opinion/edali.php

    “One United Nations estimate says from 113 million to 200 million women around the world are demographically “missing.” Every year, from 1.5 million to 3 million women and girls lose their lives as a result of gender-based violence or neglect. …

    (W)here the birth of a boy is considered a gift and the birth of a girl a curse from the gods, selective abortion and infanticide eliminate female babies.

    Young girls die disproportionately from neglect because food and medical attention is given first to brothers, fathers, husbands and sons. …

    The brutal international sex trade in young girls kills uncounted numbers of them.

    Domestic violence is a major cause of death of women in every country.

    So little value is placed on women’s health that every year roughly 600,000 women die giving birth.”

  19. says

    I’m a bit of a gender geek, so I’d make a difference between “woman” and “female” anyway. For instance, I am biologically female, but on most indices of performative gender, I wind up scoring “man.” I guess I didn’t acculturate very well…

    Blake, that was an interesting article, and your comments here are usually fantastic, but I have one tiny little quibble. Since most of the people involved in the situations where that “fizzing drink” knowledge might come up are adults, can you please not refer to them as “girls”? We get far too much of that as it is.

  20. melior says

    Dan Patrick is a camera-hungry rightwing radio hack who parlayed his name recognition into a state senate seat here in Texas. He likes to hawk his book a lot about how to glorify Jeebus in everything you do.

    He’s terrified of scary brown “Messicans” which he calls “disease-ridden” and often calls on people to arm themselves against the “invasion”.
    Since being elected he has filed an abortion-trigger ban that would outlaw abortion in Texas if the U.S. Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade, and likes to exhort his radio listeners to scout out places where a sniper can set up across from any women’s clinic they see.

    He’s a real piece of work.

  21. says

    Interrobang:

    Blake, that was an interesting article, and your comments here are usually fantastic, but I have one tiny little quibble. Since most of the people involved in the situations where that “fizzing drink” knowledge might come up are adults, can you please not refer to them as “girls”? We get far too much of that as it is.

    My heartfelt apologies. I generally type the first thing which pops into my head, and often enough, it ends up saying something I didn’t think it would say. If I can reconstruct my thoughts at the time, I was probably aiming for an “educational” tone, something like, “Now pay attention, class,” but I can easily see where I went wrong.

    Rest assured, such a mistake will not happen again (until the next time I type without thinking, alas). Again, my apologies.

  22. Maronan says

    If you need a new gender, you can borrow the thripsheds from me. It’s a third gender that I made that up for a science fiction book I wrote, but it never got published, so the idea is virtually unused!

  23. Azkyroth says

    AS horrible as it is, I can’t help but think that humanity wouldn’t suffer too much if the death penalty was enacted for rape and attempted rape…

    Would you also support enacting it for falsely reporting a rape or rape attempt? Seriously; if your proposal was enacted, a person falsely reporting a rape would essentially be attempting cold-blooded murder, from an ethical (if perhaps, sadly, not from a legal) perspective.

    Rape is an atrocity and a serious societal problem that needs to be dealt with…intelligently. Impulsive responses like you suggest are not the answer. And I would be wary of legitimizing the reasoning that really wanting to do something horrible to another person who you feel deserves it makes it ok; the risk of it backfiring should never be taken.

  24. says

    Is he mainly interested in white babies? Just thought I’d ask.

    I’m white, but I may have to forgo the $500 reward for getting pregnant through my own negligence. I might be getting a little old in the tooth.

    On a similar note. Our illustrious conservative government in Australia has decided to pay Australian women $4000 per pregnancy which completes term.

    Fine and dandy you might say. I equate it with a state sponsored breeding program. Needless to say, many young women consider $4000 a lot of money, so there have been instances of very young women falling pregnant in order to collect the cash.

    $4000 Maternity Payment Brochure
    http://www.centrelink.gov.au/internet/internet.nsf/publications/fpr012.htm

  25. Jim Baerg says

    RE: comment #15

    Much as I may sympathize, I’m not sure that giving rapist an extra incentive to make *sure* the victim can’t talk about the crime is a good idea.

    I do rather like the idea of castration for rapists though. Reserve the death penalty for murder.

  26. j says

    Perhaps we need a new gender. Or perhaps we need to destroy the concept of gender entirely.

  27. Molly, NYC says

    Is he mainly interested in white babies?

    Well, they do go better with the Riesling.

  28. Ian H Spedding FCD says

    P Z Myers wrote:

    Texas male Dan Patrick is proposing to buy unwanted babies for $500 a head, but only if you promise you were going to abort it if you didn’t.

    Apart from the amount, what’s wrong with that?

    Male in pickup truck can’t get a woman’s attention by harrassing her, so he runs her over instead

    And you wonder why I’m in favour of capital punishment in some cases.

  29. Keanus says

    In any sizeable population one will have a few mistakes. PZ found three of them. How do we eliminate them altogether? Hows that are legal, that is.

  30. Kseniya says

    I do rather like the idea of castration for rapists though. Reserve the death penalty for murder.

    That doesn’t solve the highly-motivated-false-accusation problem. Besides, I’m not a big fan of punishments that cannot be undone, regardless of the poetic justice value or the virtual certainty of guilt. Mistakes happen. Lies happen. Corruption happens.

    Lock ’em up. Keep ’em there. We’re not in the eternal retribution business down here. Leave that to the guy who’s proven he can do the job: YHWH.

  31. says

    Trust me, I know that there are different kinds of men — and women — and that some of them make you wish for retroactive birth control.

    The first woman who gave me that creepy “I’m not like *her*” feeling was a piece of slime named Karla Homulka, who helped her husband, Paul Bernardo, to lure teenage girls into their car so he could take them home to rape and murder. Meanwhile, they were making a living smuggling cigarettes into Canada from the U.S. And before that, he was the notorious and uncaught Scarborough Rapist. She has recently been released from prison because she claimed that he pressured her into it. Now there’s a person that deserves to be welded into a cage that is usually above the waterline…

  32. mangala says

    The Bernardo case is the one that gives me serious doubts about my opposition to the death penalty. I still think the bar should be set really, really high – but dammit, if you videotape your rapes and murders, that ought to be good enough evidence that you’re guilty. And I haven’t yet come up with any reason why it’s better to keep someone like that alive and in prison for life that convinces me it’s worth the expense to society.

  33. Eamon Knight says

    …Karla Homulka, who helped her husband, Paul Bernardo…
    You left out mentioning that the first victim she procured for him was Homolka’s younger sister Tammy — who died from the sedatives Karla had slipped her. AFAIC, Bernardo can rot in the deepest pit until the end of his days, and the only reason Karla got out is the Crown cut her a deal to testify against her husband (which they wouldn’t have needed to, if they’d found the friggin’ *videos* the pair had made of their little games). The whole thing stinks.

    Now that I’ve ruined everyone’s day….

  34. DavidD says

    There is a traditional procedure for any man who wants to separate himself from the evil of other men. In the eighties I read the case report of a young man who still felt so evil after castrating himself that he decided to be the first human being to perform a self-adrenalectomy. He was both well-informed and determined, so he had all the necessary mirrors and retractors and kept at it for several hours before giving up after he passed out one more time. As far as I know the honor of performing the first self-adrenalectomy is still up for grabs. Self-castration remains much more ordinary.

    Of course it’s possible evil has nothing to do with gender, or race or nationality or socioeconomic status …

  35. says

    It was with considerable horror that I read the editorial of a recent New Scientist, which describes research by Ida Dickie (stop laughing. That’s her real name, and this is dreadfully serious research) in which she’s discover 42% – yes FORTY-TWO PERCENT – of adult males admit to rape and/or statutory rape.

    Some days I loathe my species.

  36. Sebastian says

    A popular German comedian had a whole routine about every child being born as one of three sexes: boy, girl, or asshole. I think we all know which one fits the cited examples.

  37. Tefnut says

    DaviD: Of course it’s possible evil has nothing to do with gender, or race or nationality or socioeconomic status …

    Yes it does. That’s the whole point. Both men and women can be evil sumabitches, but there is a particular kind of evil that men perpetrate on women and not so much the other way around.

    Btw, I am not saying this happens because men are somehow “more evil” then women. This happens because the system we live in (aka “The Patriarchy”) privileges men and oppresses women in ways that enable these sorts of things.

  38. says

    in which she’s discover 42% – yes FORTY-TWO PERCENT – of adult males admit to rape and/or statutory rape.

    Wait a minute Wait a minute Wait a minute! Rape or statutory rape!?!? How could you possibly lump those two things together? How is statutory rape defined? If I had sex with my seventeen year old girlfriend when I was eighteen, that counts, doesn’t it? And that’s the kind of behavior this ‘scientist’ wants to consider rape, and statistically group with actual rape? Something’s not right, here. I find that 42% number very hard to swallow. Where did she conduct her interviews? A prison? I don’t trust New Scientist, anyway.

  39. David Livesay says

    Because I’m really sick of sharing one with these pigs.

    There’s no need to disparage pigs that way. ;-)

  40. Bunjo says

    Drhoz is horrified by the statistics in the New Scientist (issue dated 24 February by the way). However the actual quotation is:

    Ida Dickie, a forensic psychologist at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky, conducted a survey of men seeking casual work in Ottawa, Canada. Her as yet unpublished research shows that 42 per cent admitted either to having raped an adult, or having had sex with a minor at least five years younger than themselves.

    Now the statistics for this limited population might be sound, or they might be the result of biased interview techniques. We can’t know without seeing the full report, when it is published.

    I agree that most rapes are carried out by men, and this is a terrible crime against humanity (men are raped too, almost exclusively by other men).

    However I do NOT accept the following cultural myths:
    1) All men are rapists
    2) No woman makes false rape allegations
    3) Original Sin

    It is only when we are collectively prepared to accept the true scientific data, decoupled from special interests, that we can address these issues. Being ‘ashamed’ of one’s gender is an emotional response – doing something about reducing rape needs clear thinking and rational action.

  41. Eamon Knight says

    ….a survey of men seeking casual work in Ottawa, Canada. Her as yet unpublished research shows that 42 per cent admitted either to having raped an adult, or having had sex with a minor at least five years younger than themselves.

    OK, I’m never going to feel comfortable when passing one of those day-labour bureaus again.

    But I have to point out that “men seeking casual work” is not likely representative of the whole population. At the risk of doing the middle-class snooty thing, you’re looking at a group who is probably undereducated, economically marginal, and possibly with a previous criminal history. Not universally of course, but statistically.

  42. Chris says

    Ever since reading Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, I tend to refer to such less-than-exemplary persons as baboons. It has the advantage of being clearly perceived as an insult even if the hearer doesn’t know anything about baboons; if they do, it’s a clearly *appropriate* insult.

    And it’s not an insult to baboons, either; they really are that bad. I’m sure if they had invented date-rape drugs they’d be using them too.

    I think castration is not necessarily irreversible if you do it via a hormone-dispensing surgical implant rather than the crude violent way. Of course, if the actual motive for advocating it is a desire for revenge or retribution rather than trying to prevent repeat offenses, then that’s likely to be unsatisfying, but it does have the advantage that if you later discover the suspect was innocent, you can take the implant back out.

    The bar for any conviction should be set really, really high – and the founders of this country did their best to ensure that it would be – but that bar has slipped. A lot. The “if they were arrested they must be guilty” mentality is so pervasive, it’s almost impossible to find a jury pool that isn’t tainted by it, and applying a “guilty until proven innocent” standard whether they admit it or not. And as a result we have an epidemic of false convictions in this country and that makes me very, very wary of implementing any form of punishment that even *might* be irreversible.

  43. Dianne says

    Well, if it makes you feel any better, I’m a bit embarrassed to share a gender with Ann Coulter, Condi Rice, and Margaret Thatcher. Not to mention Barbara “Hurricaine Katrina worked out really well for poor people” Bush. How about two new genders?

  44. Mooser says

    I just tell people: I’m a person, trapped in a man’s body!

    (And what a body it is! The corpus delecti if you ask me. My wife, darn her fallopians, has a different opinion, but what does she know?)

  45. Frumious B says

    As for my friend, I’d sad to say, that wouldn’t be the last time put herself at risk through her use and abuse of alcohol.

    Please explain to me how the above statement is different from blaming the victim. Does your friend not deserve to go out and have a drink and a good time b/c she is female? Water and soda can be drugged just as easily as beer and alcoholic drinks.

  46. Kseniya says

    That’s a fair question, Frumious B., and it is a fine line, isn’t it?

    The answer is that there are many ways in which one can put ones self at risk. To say she often drinks to excess would be an understatement. When she drinks, her judgement goes out the window. Alcohol grabs her by the throat with both hands and drags her far, far away. She’s a chronic blackout drinker. Her history shows a strong correlation between alcohol abuse and sexual promiscuity. She has been hospitalized with alcohol poisoning on more than one occasion. To say that her active alcoholism combines with her eating disorder in a very unhealthy way would also be an understatement. Need I list the many and varied ways in which these behaviors put her at risk?

    I realize that all doesn’t quite answer your question, but consider this: Of course I don’t blame her for getting drugged, but alcohol takes her to places where bad things can (and do) happen, whether they’re her fault or not, and now looking back it’s hard for me not to see that incident as one in a series.

    This is not a moral issue. I do not blame her or judge her in any way. I love her. I fear for her life. She has been trying for years to get sober, but she struggles, and every time she relapses, she puts her life at risk. I’m not being melodramatic. This is how it is. I know something about this. Alcoholism and recovery have been part of my life for as long as I can remember. I wish I could say the magic words that would save her, but I know that no such words exist.

    Does your friend not deserve to go out and have a drink and a good time b/c she is female?

    Now how do you suppose I should I answer that?

  47. David Marjanović says

    Eight years later, she’s still doing it. She’s twenty-two years old now. (Do the math.)

    GAH!

    Now that I think about it, “Szlamnik” sounds like just the right term for a guy doing time in the slammer.

    In the shlammer? :-}

  48. David Marjanović says

    Eight years later, she’s still doing it. She’s twenty-two years old now. (Do the math.)

    GAH!

    Now that I think about it, “Szlamnik” sounds like just the right term for a guy doing time in the slammer.

    In the shlammer? :-}

  49. Azkyroth says

    Please explain to me how the above statement is different from blaming the victim. Does your friend not deserve to go out and have a drink and a good time b/c she is female? Water and soda can be drugged just as easily as beer and alcoholic drinks.

    Well, the fact that getting drunk with people she shouldn’t trust is stupid, and the fact that someone else being responsible for his decision to take advantage of her has no bearing on whether or not her placing herself in that situation in the first place is stupid, MIGHT be relevant…

    Does your friend not deserve to go out and have a drink and a good time b/c she is female?

    Is she incompetent to realize that whether or not she “deserves” to have a good time without being at risk is of no concern to anyone who might take advantage of her, and therefore that she should take steps to keep from putting herself at risk regardless of what she “deserves,” because she is female?

    Now, let’s ask Kseniya if they’ve stopped beating their spouse…

  50. Anton Mates says

    Her as yet unpublished research shows that 42 per cent admitted either to having raped an adult, or having had sex with a minor at least five years younger than themselves

    Of course, the second case covers sex with a minor of any age, if the man’s over 22. And while it’s probably unwise for the average 30-year-old to sleep (even consensually) with the average 17-year-old, I wouldn’t classify that anywhere near rape. I agree, those two cases really shouldn’t be conflated.

  51. Anton Mates says

    Please explain to me how the above statement is different from blaming the victim. Does your friend not deserve to go out and have a drink and a good time b/c she is female?

    People deserve to run naked through the ghetto with a fistful of diamonds if that makes them happy, and if something bad happens to them the evildoer’s still at fault. Nonetheless, it’s probably a good idea not to do that.

    Water and soda can be drugged just as easily as beer and alcoholic drinks.

    I wouldn’t think so; alcoholic drinks are stronger-tasting and often more opaque to begin with, so surely they’re easier to drug?

  52. Carlie says

    Good lord, is this argument really happening here?

    The problem Frumious B brought up relates to the fact that the majority of the time, when a situation like this is brought up, the FIRST response people have is “Gee, she should have been more careful”, not “Wow, what an asshole who should be locked up”. Rapists/attackers are not simply a force of nature that cannot be controlled; they’re people who are behaving in a way that is not acceptable, and the primary action should be against them. Yes, there’s a measure of self-defense that everyone should practice, but that ought to be the secondary response. When someone robs a friend’s car, is your first response “What an ass”, or “Did you have all the doors locked and the alarm on”?

    Let’s say someone is hiking in the mountains. If they go too close to a falling rock zone and get hit on the head, then yes, they should have been more careful and watching where they were going. However, if someone walks up behind them and chucks a rock at their head, whose fault is it? It’s really treating men as a whole like shit to claim that men who turn into rapists and batterers just “happen”, with the same inevitability as gravity bringing a rock downhill.

  53. Kseniya says

    Good lord, is this argument really happening here?

    I’m not sure… is it? Does anyone really think the victim of date-rape is at fault? Is it unclear that while she is not responsible for whatever bad things other people might do to her, she does have some responsibility to try to keep herself safe? Or that to relieve her of that responsibility disempowers her and enables her self-destructive tendencies, particularly in light of her long history of high-risk behaviors?

    I think the hiking analogy is flawed. Let’s try the biking analogy. It’s wise to wear a helmet, because one never know when one is going to make a mistake, encounter some unexpected road condition, or be the unwitting or unwilling target of someone else’s stupidity, malice, or negligence.

    What complicates the situation with my friend is that she’s addicted to flying down steep hills, and never wears her helmet when she does. There are cross streets on the way down, and the visibility gets worse and worse as the bottom of the hill approaches.

    Sure, if some guy throws a rock at her or thrusts a stick into the spokes of her bike, she takes a bad tumble, gets hurt, and it’s his fault – and fuck him, the asshole. But other times she just wipes out, with no help from anyone else. And she’s got the hospital bills to prove it.

    And yet she keeps going back down the same hill, over and over again, helmetless and apparently without a care for her own safety or well-being. If my being concerned about that makes me a bad person, then so be it.

    Pehaps the composition of the complex array of thoughts and feelings I have while watching someone I care about destroy herself is imperfect. The experience is painful and draining. Now you’re all welcome to split whatever hairs you like, to your collective heart’s content, until whatever incorrect thought I’ve expressed is laid bare and my character flaws are thoroughly exposed, and I will do my best to learn something from it.

  54. Anton Mates says

    The problem Frumious B brought up relates to the fact that the majority of the time, when a situation like this is brought up, the FIRST response people have is “Gee, she should have been more careful”, not “Wow, what an asshole who should be locked up”.

    Which doesn’t apply here, since before Kseniya wrote anything about the wisdom of hir friend’s behavior, s/he wrote:

    “I and a few other friends made it our mission to make sure that everyone knew what had really happened and who was responsible, but the damage had been done.

    “The perpetrator’s reputation around town was pretty well wrecked, but he was never prosecuted for rape. He should have been.”

    Rapists/attackers are not simply a force of nature that cannot be controlled; they’re people who are behaving in a way that is not acceptable, and the primary action should be against them. Yes, there’s a measure of self-defense that everyone should practice, but that ought to be the secondary response.

    Unless you enjoy punishment in itself, shouldn’t the primary response be whatever works best at preventing rape (without otherwise lowering the potential victim’s quality of life)? Punishment’s great, it has deterrent and (hopefully) rehabilitative effects, but it’s hardly preferable to preventing the rape in the first place.

    When someone robs a friend’s car, is your first response “What an ass”, or “Did you have all the doors locked and the alarm on”?

    The former, of course, because at that instant my friend’s presumably needs comfort more than advice. But thereafter, suggesting that they lock their doors is about a million times more helpful to the future security of their car than reaffirming that car thieves are bastards. Especially if they keep leaving the doors unlocked and the alarm off.

    Let’s say someone is hiking in the mountains. If they go too close to a falling rock zone and get hit on the head, then yes, they should have been more careful and watching where they were going. However, if someone walks up behind them and chucks a rock at their head, whose fault is it?

    If someone was thinking of hiking in a region famed for warlike rock-hurling natives, I would try very hard to dissuade them. Sure, they’re not morally responsible for an attack, and in a lawful society their attackers will be hunted down and prosecuted, but that won’t be much comfort when they’re lying there with a fractured cranium.

    It’s really treating men as a whole like shit to claim that men who turn into rapists and batterers just “happen”, with the same inevitability as gravity bringing a rock downhill.

    Humans behaving badly is pretty inevitable, so far as I know. Certainly the right upringing/medication/social opportunities/legal system can reduce this behavior, but I don’t think anyone knows how to stamp it out completely.

  55. Alecto says

    Anton and others, what you’re missing is that the problem with telling women to “take precautions” ultimately ends up limiting women’s actions, to no actual avail. The only way not to get raped if you’re a woman is never to have contact with a man. Ever. Not your friends, not your boyfriend, not your husband, not your brother, not your father, not your uncle. Isn’t the statistic for aquaintance rape something like 80%? So why is it okay for women to get told constantly that we’re the ones responsible for moderating our behavior, when we’re not the ones causing the trouble, and it’s not going to do us much good anyway? Why is no one telling the men to stop raping, or setting curfews (if you insist on the stranger-in-the-dark-alley rapist), or what have you?

    In other words, what I think Frumious B was trying to get at (since this has to be explained in every comments section that has to do with rape, ever) is that, no matter what your intentions are, telling women to watch out for themselves is blaming the victim. Period. We know what precautions we “should” be taking (according to society), so “reminding” us is beside the fucking point. It’s not our fault, in any way, so implying that we can do something about it is disingenuous at best.

  56. Azkyroth says

    It’s only “blaming the victim” to people too dense to distinguish pragmatic considerations of what actions are advisable from moral considerations about what actions “deserve” what results. Do you lash out at people who suggest that wearing a seatbelt is wise, accusing them of “blaming the victim” due to the fact that even people wearing seatbelts do sometimes still die in car accidents? Do you somehow have the impression that people who point out the foolishness of not wearing seat belts think that people who don’t wear them are automatically at fault in an accident? Think position through, plsthx.

  57. Alecto says

    Do you somehow have the impression that people who point out the foolishness of not wearing seat belts think that people who don’t wear them are automatically at fault in an accident?

    No. Because no one does this. Everyone always blames the person at fault, no matter if the person hit was “asking for it” by not wearing a seatbelt. Yet, what is the first thing discussed when a woman is raped? What she could have/should have done to prevent it. Absolutely not the same thing.

  58. Azkyroth says

    That’s funny; I don’t remember it being the first thing that Kseniya brought up…

    When that actually is the first thing that’s brought up it can certainly be construed as insensitive or even callous, but it does not necessarily constitute “blaming the victim” if the reason it’s brought up is to encourage the victim in question to avoid increasing the risk of being victimized on other occasions in the future. And when it is not the primary focus, it’s merely pragmatic advice stemming from a desire to reduce the chance of repeated suffering on the part of a current, or potential future, victim.

    Conflating recognition of a victim’s behavior as a factor increasing the likelihood of being victimized and consequent recommendations of avoiding such behavior in the future with the intent of reducing the likelihood of future rapes, with “blame” in the sense of moral responsibility, is either thoughtless or dishonest. Which is it?

  59. says

    The analogy I like is that of blaming someone who is robbed for looking rich. But getting drunk with people who have no reason to treat you well is sort of like drinking and driving.

  60. Kseniya says

    > Why is no one telling the men to stop raping?

    Uh… WHAT?

    > telling women to watch out for themselves is blaming the victim. Period.

    What possible use to anyone is that ridiculous assertion?

    Let’s try rephrasing it thus:

    “Telling women to not bother watching out for themselves is to liberate them, because precautions of any kind are limiting and because anything bad that happens as a result can and will always be rightly blamed on the perpetrator.”

    Logically true, perhaps – but good advice? No. Are you also against women learning self-defense, or learning something about how to spot a fizz in your drink that just doesn’t belong there? Is it too limiting and intrusive to suggest that a woman be aware of something like that so that she can guard against being drugged? I mean, WTF?!?

    Maybe what you mean is, “Telling a woman ‘You should have been more careful’ is blaming the victim.” Of course I agree.

    I don’t know about you, but when I have children, I will tell them to never, ever get in a car with a stranger no matter what. Rapists and child abductors are out there, and promoting mindfulness and care is not “blaming the victim.”

    > so implying that we can do something about it is disingenuous at best.

    Implying that we can do nothing reeks of victim mentality. Period. Why advocate passivity in the face of what you characterize as a nearly unavoidable threat? Sorry, I just don’t get it.

  61. Carlie says

    “Why is no one telling the men to stop raping?

    Uh… WHAT?”

    Well, that is true. Look at all the anti-rape programs that exist. What is the thrust (no pun intended) of them? They’re all focused on women and how women should avoid the bad situations, with nary a mention about how men should keep their hands to themselves. All the posters and PSAs that talk about the dangers of alcohol talk about how someone drunk is more likely to be raped, not about how getting drunk makes you more likely to be a rapist, even though statistically the rapist has had more to drink than the rapee.

    I see after the clarification that Kseniya was specifically talking about someone with a long history of acting not in her own self-interest, but the point is still that focusing first on the woman’s actions is a form of blaming the victim. And Azkyroth, the point is that if you look statistically at all rapes, the behavior that has to be avoided in order to minimize the likelihood of rape is to never be around a man, ever. The “drunk alone in a bar at 2am” rapes get the press, but they’re by far not the most common.

  62. John C. Randolph says

    PZ, while I share your disgust at the perps in question, your comments about their gender make no more sense than wishing you weren’t a mammal, since pit bull dogs can be so vicious.

    -jcr

  63. Anton Mates says

    Anton and others, what you’re missing is that the problem with telling women to “take precautions” ultimately ends up limiting women’s actions, to no actual avail.

    That depends on the precaution in question. If it’s never leaving your house without an armed escort, sure, that’s pretty limiting. If it’s not drinking to the point of incapacitation when you’re around people you don’t trust 100%, I don’t see that as a huge limitation given the safety payoff.

    And this is hardly applicable to women only. Men are also more likely to get raped/assaulted/stolen from when they’re drunk. For that matter, they’re more likely to commit crimes as well.

    The only way not to get raped if you’re a woman is never to have contact with a man. Ever. Not your friends, not your boyfriend, not your husband, not your brother, not your father, not your uncle.

    Of course you have to avoid all other women, since they commit rapes occasionally. And dogs.

    Isn’t the statistic for aquaintance rape something like 80%? So why is it okay for women to get told constantly that we’re the ones responsible for moderating our behavior, when we’re not the ones causing the trouble, and it’s not going to do us much good anyway?

    Not going to do you much good? Check out this Harvard study which found that:

    “Overall, one in 20 (4.7 percent) women reported being raped in college since the beginning of the school year – a period of approximately 7 months – and nearly three-quarters of those rapes (72 percent) happened when the victims were so intoxicated they were unable to consent or refuse….Most significantly, women from colleges with medium and high binge-drinking rates had more than a 1.5-fold increased chance of being raped while intoxicated than those from schools with low binge- drinking rates.”

    Or this study mentioned in New Scientist:

    “Everyone thinks that Rohypnol is a problem,” says Michael Scott-Ham of the UK’s Forensic Science Service in London. “But alcohol is by far the biggest problem.”…They calculated that, at the time of the assault, 32 per cent of victims had consumed enough alcohol to make them pass out or suffer memory loss – with more than 200 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. A further 24 per cent were drunk, with at least 150 mg of alcohol per 100 ml.”

    Moral responsibility has nothing to do with it–it’s simply self-preservation. Modifying your behavior can have a huge impact on your risk of rape. Will it protect you completely? No. Is it still a good idea? Definitely.

    Why is no one telling the men to stop raping, or setting curfews (if you insist on the stranger-in-the-dark-alley rapist), or what have you?

    Rape is a felony. If you’re convicted of it you go to prison! You don’t think that’s a message to stop raping?

    We know what precautions we “should” be taking (according to society), so “reminding” us is beside the fucking point.

    Respectfully, no, you (plural) don’t know. You personally may be completely aware of every possible precaution and its consequences, but I see no evidence that the average woman has sat down and worked out a cost-benefit analysis for responsible drinking habits, any more than the average man has done so.

    It’s not our fault, in any way, so implying that we can do something about it is disingenuous at best.

    That’s a breathtaking non-sequitur. Cancer isn’t the cancer victim’s fault, therefore we shouldn’t remind people that smoking and radiation exposure are dangerous?

    Yet, what is the first thing discussed when a woman is raped? What she could have/should have done to prevent it.

    Not on this thread.

  64. says

    Alecto: Don’t forget that women can be and are raped by other women (and men are raped by men, and women men, though the later is of course quite rare). So your suggestion would have to be to never see anyone ever.

  65. Anton Mates says

    Well, that is true. Look at all the anti-rape programs that exist. What is the thrust (no pun intended) of them? They’re all focused on women and how women should avoid the bad situations, with nary a mention about how men should keep their hands to themselves. All the posters and PSAs that talk about the dangers of alcohol talk about how someone drunk is more likely to be raped, not about how getting drunk makes you more likely to be a rapist, even though statistically the rapist has had more to drink than the rapee.

    Aren’t crime-awareness programs usually aimed at potential victims, rather than perpetrators? Presumably many of the potential rapists actually intend to commit the crime beforehand, or at least aren’t too worried if it happens, so warning them that drinking leads to rape is kind of counterproductive. As for the rest, how many people a) are horrified by rape, b) are nonetheless likely to rape someone if they get drunk, and c) can be persuaded of b)?

    Which doesn’t mean potential rapists can’t or shouldn’t be dissuaded. Legal penalties, responsible drinking programs, and youth programs to combat sexism are all valuable here. I just don’t think telling people “Just in case you’re thinking of raping someone, don’t–and especially don’t get them drunk or it’ll be really easy to do so!” would do much good.

    I see after the clarification that Kseniya was specifically talking about someone with a long history of acting not in her own self-interest, but the point is still that focusing first on the woman’s actions is a form of blaming the victim.

    Sure, but no one’s done that on this thread so far as I can see. Kseniya certainly didn’t.

    The “drunk alone in a bar at 2am” rapes get the press, but they’re by far not the most common.

    The studies I mentioned above suggest that, more often than not, the victim is drunk somewhere. Again, this does not in any way imply that the victim deserves to be assaulted, or is to blame for their assault, or that the rapist is any less guilty. But it does strongly suggest that drinking responsibly is an important means of protecting oneself.

  66. says

    Same shit, different decade. I remember reading, oh, 20 years ago, about some guy who ran over a 14-year-old girl who was riding her bike — so he could rape her.

    The way I look at it, “men” as a mass are part of the obstacle course of life. You know, you’re usually safe everywhere, but you’re never ALWAYS safe anywhere.