Sunday Sermon: Rape Culture Hurts Men Too


Warning: Rape, Anger, (Long)

This is not an attempt to equivocate. The victim of an assault is the victim and nothing anyone ever says can or should reduce in any way the victim’s subjective assessment of what they’ve experienced.

That means nobody gets to come along and say “suck it up” or “it’ll be OK.” I’m afraid that the best you can do is help them heal however you can, and show them that you respect their choices and try to understand.

Some of what I’m going to talk about, I’m going to skate by details. It’s not because I don’t know the details, but because the details are victims’ stories, and not mine to tell. One thing I absolutely do not tolerate is when someone is assaulted, and another person tries to minimize their experience, or – worse – to imply, sneakily, that maybe they are just mis-remembering or exaggerating, or maybe it was not that bad. Let me be completely clear about this: if you say something like that around me, my mental imagery becomes sticking a long, sharp, knife into the speaker’s stomach, and whispering, “minimize this” in their ear. Because, like a knife in the guts, a person’s experiences are entirely subjective – unique to them. I know a guy who got shot in the neck in Vietnam and he said it wasn’t bad [sazz]. I know a woman who was sexually assaulted by someone who was supposed to be watching over her, and it devastated her mind and she says it took her ability to love anyone ever again. Read my words carefully: I am not saying either of those wounds is worse. I’m saying you can’t put wounds on some kind of spectrum and tell someone to “suck it up” or “snap out of it.”

With a very few exceptions, every woman I know has been sexually assaulted.

I was talking the other day with a friend and she said she didn’t consider herself to have been sexually assaulted because she was never held down and raped or anything like that. She just had to deal with teenage gropings, shouted abuse, and (thanks to intersectionality I can now understand this better:) racialized verbal sexual aggression. She only had to “deal with” a lifetime, so far, of that. Others of the women I know had different experiences. There was the one who, at the last minute, didn’t show up for an event I invited her to – an old friend, I had hoped to see – it turned out that she had been dragged off at knife-point and raped, and couldn’t come to my silly party because she was in the emergency room and police offices, getting interrogated dismissively and scornfully by cops. We had been lovers, once, and I remember there were some things we did, once, that made her suddenly lose focus, go cold, and turn away. I assumed I’d made a conventional mistake (you know, like putting all my weight on a full bladder, or farting, or something) but it wasn’t until years later that she told me I had accidentally done something that reminded her of the man who raped her when she was a child. Often, I wonder how many times we men think we’re just awkward lovers, or even inconsiderate or incompetent, lost in our own haze of excitement and aspiration, but we don’t realize our partners are threading through mine-fields of repressed memories. They’re not telling us “don’t do that” because they want us to not have happy fun-time in bed, they’re telling us “please.. don’t even make me…” because they have repressed memories that are painful or enraging as a combat veteran’s. Here’s the first point, which I did not understand back then: men’s tendencies to rape were reaching into our relationship and complicating things. I didn’t know – she didn’t tell me – and it should and always should have been her choice – but it was something that was there that affected us both.

Again, none of this goes on Anubis’ scales: I’m not saying that what happened to her affected me more or even anything close to it. It’s not on a spectrum like that. But her rapist, whoever he was, was part of our sexual life. When you read the Schrodinger’s Rapist piece [sr] that’s what it’s talking about – people that have been targeted for rape are going to see potential rapists differently. That affects the victims, and that affects the perfectly decent person who tips their hat and offers to hold a door for a complete stranger: their experience is subjective and it’s only theirs – if I’m the person offering to hold a door for some woman who has a bag full of groceries, I may be completely innocently replaying the exact gesture of the last person who raped her. That person’s ghost, the remnants of their cruelty and selfishness and sickness, is reaching out from the past, into both our lives, and changing what happens. I’m going to be completely frank: if I offered to hold a door for a woman who had a big bag of groceries and – instead, she maced me – I’d try to understand, and I bet I’d know why. We big, looming, guys full of privilege have to be careful what we do and it’s not the women’s fault: it’s their past assailants’ fault. We don’t get to loom over and hold the door and then say “sheesh, chill out…” if we catch a threatening look.

It may not be our fault but it’s our problem. And that’s why I am writing this. There are a lot of men who are minimizing and sticking up for douchebags that are making our world worse, too. Because we live in a world that is twisted by the consequences of their cruelty, selfishness, and sickness. I’ve dealt with it, and if you’re a cis/het man reading this, you may have/probably have, too. If you think you haven’t, start asking your women friends if they’ve ever been assaulted. Make sure you are sitting down.

I know I’m writing this from the viewpoint of a cis/het man, because that’s what I am. I have a good imagination and I have a vague notion of the tip of the iceberg of unpleasantness that goes along with this stuff – religious indoctrination, gender identity, body dysmorphia, bullying, maybe just not being interested, parental abuse – there is an entire, profound, shit-show of human experience that, thanks to toxic masculinity and rape culture, most cis/het men like myself are sheltered from. We are occasionally challenged to think “how would you like prison rape?” or whatever, but it’s stupid – it’s like asking someone to think about life-and-death moral issues using the Trolley Cart Problem: reality is a whole different thing and your lived experience does not, ever match your imagination. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, but the reality is always purely subjective in the mind of the person who experiences.

A few years ago I was in love with a young lady who had already been assaulted and abused and who was dealing (pretty well, I thought) with a load of post-traumatic stress issues. We had tentative little hopes for maybe building some kind of future on our shared interests; I loved the way her eyes lit up when she took care of her pets, or we went out junk shopping (romantic pack-rats!) but then something bad happened to her that really threw her off her balance and she resorted to sleep aids in order to sleep  and a “friend of the family” talked her into coming out with him even though she was already half unconscious on ambien – and he took her to a special place he had, and raped her at length. She didn’t want to tell me but the next time I saw her the light in her eyes had been shuttered and all of her body language was a jumble of contradictions. I had no idea, but I asked because I could see something was wrong and naturally I had my head up my ass and thought that whatever had happened was something to do with me. The story came dripping, then tumbling out.  Basically this guy had reached into her life in the most personal way possible, and just did whatever he wanted. From that, events cascade like some kind of evil domino theory. I could tell he was experienced at it – he had a loft somewhere (I never learned where) and he did stuff like made sure she showered before he took her back and gave her her cell-phone back. So: memory, fragments, triggers – now you know why I go incandescent with rage when I hear about someone like Bill Cosby, who developed trade-craft around his rape method. Guys like that perfect their technique, they even know how to build plausible deniability. This guy, apparently, texted her several times over the next few days referring to a “drunken little tryst” and “would you like to meet up again?” Nice trade-craft, huh? Make it sound like a one-night stand. Blurring those lines – the lines an apologist would straddle, while raining skeptical challenges down upon a wounded woman.

She told me it would be OK, it had happened before and she was used to it.

Men, when you tolerate rape culture, and don’t come down like 16t of lethal rage on rapists and abusers, you’re letting snakes like that slither around in the foundations of your life. It’s worse for the women, but if you love the victim, you’re going to bleed, too. If you tolerate them you’re playing a numbers-game, basically, because – as I realized pretty quickly in the case of my lover – if it wasn’t her, it would have been someone else. Somewhere, he has a hard drive of pictures of all the “someone else”s that he honed his technique on. Every one of these guys’ actions affects not just their victims, but anyone who loves their victims, or who will ever bump up against the victim’s reaction to their unknowable subjective experience. It’ll mess with your subjective experience, as well: there are things that happen when someone you care about is raped – and they will change you permanently. There is a reason why cultural media have this trope of the “angry dad” who hunts down and metes out horrible vengeance for the injury of a child. I understand that, in a way I never wanted or expected to. But that’s one of the side-effects that we have to take into account whenever we try to dismiss or minimize an assaulter’s actions: it’ll always be somebody else. That’s why some cultural responses to assault (“don’t wear short skirts”) are a fail-move: if the person you love wears a long skirt, it will just be someone else’s daughter, friend, lover, mother, sister, who gets attacked.

One of my former friends asked me “how do you know it wasn’t a consensual one-night stand and she was just lying to you when you caught her?” I never have spoken to them again, but I should have said, “because when you’re not trying to hide that your body is covered with bite-marks, you’re not trying to hide.” Maybe someday they’ll stumble across this and understand; I don’t care. I suppose I could chalk that friendship, also, up to being a casualty of rape, but for them to understand me so little, it wasn’t enough of a friendship to worry about, anyway.

That’s the personal, subjective, side of my attitude when I hear about people who flip over to protecting their rapists and abusers against retaliation from people who would be legitimately angry:

I thought I was protecting everyone. I was protecting my dad’s career. I was protecting Kevin, who my dad surely would have tried to punch. I was protecting myself, because I thought one day I’d want to work with this man.

That’s what Richard Dreyfuss’ son said about Kevin Spacey. [et] Here’s the sad thing, if the father, lover, sister, brother, whatever – of the first of Bill Cosby’s victims had gone over there immediately and stomped him to within an inch of his life, Cosby would have probably stopped. He might have gotten the point. If someone had kicked the shit out of Kevin Spacey soon enough, he probably would have stopped early enough and I might still be able to enjoy season 6 of House of Cards. Instead, I look at Spacey, and Weinstein, and Louis C.K., and Roy Moore and all I can think is that they needed a bloody and traumatic reality check that would be what they would think of the next time they thought of something like that.

I thought all this through; that was my conclusion: the guy who did that to my sweetheart had done it before, had an M.O. and trade-craft, and was going to do it again and again. The obvious solution was to meet him with something that would give him such horrible PTSD of his own that he’d never be able to think of doing something like that without bursting into tears that he couldn’t explain to anyone. He wouldn’t be a threat to any other women, after that. Frankly, I’m still there: think of it as a “missed opportunity to learn something important about body autonomy.” That is why guys like Weinstein, Spacey, Louis C.K., Bill Cosby, etc., surround themselves with protection and security – even if they manage to successfully bullshit themselves into thinking it’s OK they know that, lurking in the wings, there’s always the ugly potential for it all to catch up with them. From my perspective, the men I just named, they’re lucky: they’re still rich and if they’re not unutterably stupid they’ll change their names and go re-invent themselves as a retired bachelor somewhere … like Roman Polanski did. What surprises me is that guys like Polanski feel they can walk around without an itching feeling all the time at the base of their spine. Polanski should be living in the bottom of a bunker somewhere, not being invited to parties.

She told me it would be OK, it had happened before and she was used to it.

Once something horrible happens to someone you care about, all you can really do is try to do everything you can to support them, to recognize that their subjective experience is different from yours, and to shut up and listen and do whatever they want. That’s another way that the actions of assailants wound us all: this thing they have chosen to do reaches right into the heart of every relationship the victim has, and forces some kind of re-writing – either by their having to pretend nothing happened, or by having to decide over and over again how to come to terms with it. Maybe 20 people have come forward about Kevin Spacey but that means he affected at least 100 lives. Probably many many more. They damage is/was entirely Spacey’s fault: his selfishness, love of power, lack of caring for his victims – all are Spacey’s fault, but the damage gets compounded over and over and it would have been better for many if one of Spacey’s early victims had blown the roof in on things. For one thing, most abusers and rapists develop an M.O. and, if they learn early-on that it works and they get away with it, they become more polished and self-confident. I’m not saying that one of Harvey Weinstein’s early victims should have kicked his ass, but rather I am saying that if Weinstein had the benefit of an ass-kicking early in his cycle, the whole story might have stopped, there. I can even make an argument that doing so would have been to Weinstein’s benefit as well as to the victims that were never victimized. Before you say, “that’s immoral, Marcus!” remember: 1) I reject morality as a useful concept so that accusation doesn’t bother me and 2) appeasement doesn’t work, it just delays conflict until your enemy has grown more powerful and set in their ways or has perfected their trade-craft. Perhaps: 3) I didn’t join Freethoughtblogs to tell people what I think they should do; I’m just concerned with what I think I should do.

The part that leaves my mouth tasting of bile is remembering how she said “It’ll be OK.” And how she told me that she wouldn’t tell me anything more about the guy, and she wanted me to stop trying to figure out his identity. I remember how she cried while she protected him and I felt something tear permanently apart between us because my attitudes had forced her to that realization – that she was protecting him. Looking back on it, I know it was a lose/lose situation all around and, if I could replay it over and over, changing my decisions slightly, there was probably no path that would end with the two of us still being happy romantic pack-rats together. And that wasn’t entirely her choice, or entirely my choice – but it was entirely a consequence of his choices. Either way, she couldn’t be the same, and neither could I. So, eventually, I became part of the baggage of that bad memory, and that was the end of that.

I know I’m not the only man who’s seen someone he loved get suddenly sideswiped and had their life blasted apart out of a clear blue sky. If it wasn’t your lover, maybe it was your sister. Or maybe it was that girl who turned you down flat in spite of your sincere attempt to be friendly, just because you reminded her of the wrong person. By the time we get out of our teens, those of us who survive are already scarred veterans. By the time we are in our 50s, we’re tired and scarred veterans; we need to remember that everyone else is, too.

Don’t try to make excuses for the enemy. Not around me.

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A side-note, I suppose is somewhat relevant. I don’t want this to sound like I’m disclosing some big secret or anything but, I have been known to enjoy playing dom/sub games and have been on the edges of BDSM culture (including things like teaching photography workshops at BDSM events, and doing photography, art, and play in that context). So I have a problem: am I part of rape culture or not? I know fetish philosophers who’d say that BDSM is all part of rape culture, and I would be hard pressed to argue that it’s not. I would, however, point out that one of the communities I know that is most attuned to issues of consent is the BDSM community – or, more precisely, the communities that don’t suck. I stopped going to events years ago, after the time at a rope-tying and photography workshop in Maryland, where a guy started doing something non-consensual with a play-partner, and a friend of mine and I (both bigger and much meaner than him) stopped him, asked his subject if she was revoking consent, and (while my friend was asking that) I was explaining that if she said he was crossing the line he was going to leave very quickly or he was going to get an idea of what non-consensual violence can feel like. He left quickly, she left in a taxi a few hours later after she had regained her composure. My friend, who is a genuine sadist (I am not) was disappointed because he was looking forward to beating the guy up; he’s gender agnostic and is happy hurting anyone. Anyhow, it’s interesting because when you’re playing dom/sub games the entire event rotates around playing with consent. You become, or ought to, extremely careful at reading your partner, and you have to discard the toxic masculine urge to be too tough to ask, or to yell “stop!” Some of my ideas about consent are perhaps not mainstream, I believe a lot of BDSM involves a problematic concept: giving limited consent to do things that would otherwise be non-consensual. In that context, I think that the burden of caution is entirely on the person who is given the limited consent, and they need to know that. There is also a confusing factor of role-play: what about someone who is pretending to be doing something non-consensual and both parties are mutually agreed to the play that is being acted? The thing is, all of my experience around BDSM fetishists has found me in an environment of people who are welcoming to unusual views and preferences, and who are very careful in ways that seem contradictory when you see them going on. I don’t intend this as a full posting for debating the topic; if collectively you wish to discuss the topic, I’ll do a separate posting.

There are at least 6 stories I could tell, to some degree or other, about how a past sexual assault reached forward with ghostly fingers of the past and showed it still had the power to hurt. That it always will have the power to hurt, and how that hurt affected a woman and all her friends and lovers. The damage is greater or lesser, but it’s still there – and it’s entirely the fault of the attacker’s selfishness, maliciousness, thoughtlessness, or cruelty. I won’t tell them all because I’d be here rage-thrashing my keyboard all night, but, you hear things about how women quit acting when they had a run-in with Harvey Weinstein: that was a life-altered. One of my friends was a cutter: she wanted to destroy the beauty that some asshole coveted and eventually went after because he wanted to possess it and wouldn’t take “no.” Another suddenly moved out of state; we had been seeing each other casually and I thought things were going great – naturally I thought it was my screw-up – but I learned years later that she had been assaulted and felt like she had to get every possible reminder of the event out of her life. These stories go on and on. Most men can tell a story like these. Think about that. We are letting too many men get away with this shit.

“A knife in the guts” – that’s how it felt to me. I was having a great day; it was beautiful fall foliage, I had just been flying some Fuel Rats rescues, and suddenly I got a text message that changed everything. In the last 5 years I’ve lost 4 friends to various cancers and most of them describe a similar feeling. My friend who got shot in the neck in Vietnam said, “suddenly there was a ‘crunch’ sound and everything was different.” Again, I am not trying to put injuries onto some kind of spectrum, they are always unique subjective experiences for the sufferer, but we use a common vocabulary for battle trauma and being sexually assaulted, sometimes.

I have been wanting to talk about this for a while but it’s hard to stay calm and focused. If you comment, don’t feel threatened that I will get angry at you, but bear in mind that I am deeply angry at someone. Many someones. If you want to start making their case, I’ll probably just ban you as a simple reply. This posting is pretty much all I want to say about this topic.

Comments

  1. says

    I didn’t know – she didn’t tell me – and it should and always should have been her choice – but it was something that was there that affected us both.

    I don’t know if I can explain. You just don’t talk about it. It’s bad enough all that shit is forever in your head, there’s no desire to spill it out, time and time again to different people. It’s not just a trust issue, although that’s certainly part of it. There’s the ever present sense of shame and guilt, and somewhere lurking, I suppose, is the desire to just be normal.

    There was one incident, the one I didn’t consider to be rape, that I never spoke about at all until one day on Pharyngula, when I told the story to help someone else. Not long after that, I told my partner. It only took 37 years to say something.

  2. says

    Caine@#1:
    I don’t know if I can explain. You just don’t talk about it. It’s bad enough all that shit is forever in your head, there’s no desire to spill it out, time and time again to different people. It’s not just a trust issue, although that’s certainly part of it. There’s the ever present sense of shame and guilt, and somewhere lurking, I suppose, is the desire to just be normal.

    I think I do understand. And it’s OK not to talk about it – we (on the outside) have to trust the person whose experience it is, and stand back and respect their decisions. It doesn’t make it any easier for anybody, I know that.

    When everything went down, I had no idea what to do, so I telephoned one of my survivor friends and asked for advice. Even doing that, I felt was a huge imposition on her. But … ugh, how to explain. When I was in basic training, we did a couple modules on battlefield emergency care. It’s not like taking first aid in high school – the assumption in battlefield aid is that you’re going to be dealing with stuff that’s off the chart, it’s not “splint a broken bone” level stuff. And one of the things that stuck in my mind through that was that the main thing to do was call for help from someone who’d been there before, and to listen. It felt the same: suddenly dropped from your comfort zone into infinitely deep dark water and you’re completely ignorant because it’s all someone else’s subjective experience. Do you pretend nothing happened? Do you try to get information from them? What do you do? All my survivor friend said was “Listen. A lot.”

    I wish, as a culture, we paid some attention to “you should know that, if this happens, it is going to blow a hole in your life, too, and here’s some things that may help you.” But that would entail making young men confront the impact of their brothers’ actions. Which is, really, the point of this post. You can’t stand by because one of your brothers’ selfishness, cruelty, and stupidity can reach into your heart.

    The desire to be normal is a great way to put it. All I wanted, for the next 6 months, was to have my life back. But I knew that I never would.

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    A few years ago, someone told me not to use the word “victim” as that supposedly compounds the violation by bringing a connotation of weakness and helplessness, a loss of what we’re now supposed to call “agency”.

    I replied with dictionary definitions, because the word means just a person harmed by external actions, but have since wondered whether the predominant media (which I mostly avoid), in its sensationalistic way, has added such overtones to the public understanding of the term.

  4. says

    Pierce R. Butler@#3:
    A few years ago, someone told me not to use the word “victim” as that supposedly compounds the violation by bringing a connotation of weakness and helplessness, a loss of what we’re now supposed to call “agency”.

    I’ve gotten similar conflicting recommendations. Since the women in question have both used the language of victimhood with me, I’ve used it as well. “Survivor” is another term I’ve been told to use.

    I don’t want to hide behind the dictionary definition, but we need words for these things, otherwise we’re just waving our hands and making screaming noises.

    I’m willing to adjust my language if I have made a mistake.

  5. says

    With a very few exceptions, every woman I know has been sexually assaulted.
    I was talking the other day with a friend and she said she didn’t consider herself to have been sexually assaulted because she was never held down and raped or anything like that. She just had to deal with teenage gropings, shouted abuse, and (thanks to intersectionality I can now understand this better:) racialized verbal sexual aggression. She only had to “deal with” a lifetime, so far, of that.

    After reading the first sentence I was going to say that I have never been sexually assaulted, but yeah, I guess that’s not the case after all. The first time I experienced this shit I was about 16, I was in a shop together with my mother. An adult guy who was probably over 30 groped my ass. I had no idea how to react, so I walked away and got closer to my mother (she was paying for her groceries at that moment). That jerk followed me and groped me once more. I complained to my mom and asked her what to do. Mother didn’t defend me, she said nothing to the guy, she just ignored this issue altogether. I don’t know what sort of crap my mom has experienced during her life, but it was pretty obvious that she saw groping as something inevitable that you cannot do anything about.

    I see such instances as unpleasant (like accidentally stepping into a pile of dog shit), but not traumatizing.

    What annoys me a lot more are instances where I’m in any way vulnerable and unable to defend myself. I was once next to my home carrying a rolled up mattress. The foam mattress wasn’t heavy, but it was really bulky. I was holding it with both hands in front of me. And some jerk exploited the situation (me being defenseless with both my hands holding the mattress), he just hugged me and didn’t let me go for a while. I was in such a position where I couldn’t kick his balls or plant my fist into his face, all I could do was yell at him.

    Or once when I was sitting on a bench waiting for a bus. A guy approached me and came uncomfortably close. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem, I would just take a step back and not care about somebody coming closer than I feel comfortable. Yet I was sitting on a bench and there was a wall behind my back. There was no way to step back. So I started yelling as loudly as I could. I don’t know what that man wanted to ask me. When I started yelling he backed away and called me crazy.

    It may not be our fault but it’s our problem. … I’ve dealt with it, and if you’re a cis/het man reading this, you may have/probably have, too.

    Yeah, this shit sure influences how one behaves. Now I react a lot differently compared to the 16 years old me. I have become a lot nastier. Any man who attempts to touch me without permission is going to really regret it. Same goes for any stranger who thinks that it’s a good idea to tell me about the fact that they consider me beautiful. My tongue has gotten pretty sharp by now.

    But all this rape culture influences my behavior also on a much deeper level. I don’t hesitate walking alone in dark alleys (I know that statistically I’m pretty safe there). But I’m pretty cautious when around people I know. I never get drunk when around other people, I don’t trust people in general. Simply hearing stories of other women being hurt was enough to make me cautious and distrustful. Having to question other person’s motives when they are just trying to make friends is not something that we as a society benefit from. But tolerating a rape culture leads to exactly that.

    That’s why some cultural responses to assault (“don’t wear short skirts”) are a fail-move: if the person you love wears a long skirt, it will just be someone else’s daughter, friend, lover, mother, sister, who gets attacked.

    As if “don’t wear short skirts” worked. I never wear any skirts at all, I prefer male suits. Not that it works. It seems that the only thing that works is getting old enough to be perceived as ugly (and consequentially not desirable) by potential rapists.

  6. says

    Ieva Skrebele@#5:
    My tongue has gotten pretty sharp by now.

    I have given several women very, very nasty knives and taught them how to lay huge cuts in stacks of wet cardboard. I believe harsh language is a good first resort.

    It seems that the only thing that works is getting old enough to be perceived as ugly (and consequentially not desirable) by potential rapists.

    I hate to disappoint you (and I’m sure others will chime in) it’s about power, not looks. Age doesn’t help.

  7. says

    I hate to disappoint you (and I’m sure others will chime in) it’s about power, not looks. Age doesn’t help.

    It does to some extent. My mother is currently 64 years old and no stranger has groped her ass for some years by now.

  8. Onamission5 says

    I want to say some things about your friend, the one who wouldn’t tell you where her rapist lived, but I don’t know her so really I want to say some things about me. I want to say some things about male anger over female trauma, and how even when we’re at the absolute bottom we still feel tasked with responsibility for the emotional states of all the people around us. I want to say something about how male anger, that of genuinely protective and quasi-empathetic I have to fix this, do something dramatic rage, can feel so toxic when I am hovering near my own emotional bottom in need of substantial, patient support, because I feel tasked with responsibility of caring for that anger, of making sure it doesn’t get out of control, that I’m not the cause of another person getting hurt to compound an already deep and unresolved pain. I want to say something about how the way men reacting with rage to my pain seems so selfish, so all about them and not about supporting me at all– even though it’s purportedly on my behalf, it sucks all the air out of the room. I want to say something about the way it causes me to shut down, shut off, right at a critical moment where if someone sat patiently and empathetically with me instead I might have a breakthrough but instead I end up taking care of their anger; I have to, lest it get all over me, and it feels like my fault anyway.

    But I don’t know how to say those things. I especially don’t know how to say those things when so much of my life story has been determined by either avoiding or placating or receiving the anger of men, so rather than tiptoe into yet another minefield, I just shut up and go away.

    It’s not that you’re not allowed to be angry, guys. Just please don’t put a victim in the position of having to be responsible for what you want to do with it, or navigate around it order to be understood, or have to sit there with it looming when she’s trying to trust you enough to tell you something devastating to her.

  9. Onamission5 says

    The last thing I want to say is, sometimes we don’t tell not because we’re protecting our rapist but because we’re protecting our angry friend from going to jail, and we’re protecting that friend because we need them with us, not locked behind bars.

  10. says

    Onamission5@#9:
    I think you said what you wanted to, very well.
    Sincere thanks.

    (And that was why, when she asked me to back off, I did. Unfortunately, I had already made a great smoking hash out of things.)

    I keep coming back to this idea that preventing and dealing with assault, when and how to warn about and report it, ought to be part of a basic educational curriculum starting around age (??). There aren’t “sides” so I can’t say “both sides” – hmm – “all perspectives” need to be understood. Instead of victim-blaming and honor-killing we need to know what to do. Maybe not prescriptively, but more like “here’s a list of options to think about.”

  11. says

    when and how to warn about and report it, ought to be part of a basic educational curriculum starting around age (??). … Instead of victim-blaming and honor-killing we need to know what to do.

    That’s not the problem. People already know that they can go to police and Google to find professionals who offer psychological help and counseling. The problem is that the available options (that people already know about) suck — police officers routinely mistreat victims and we live in a shitty culture where victims cannot openly admit what happened to them because they are conditioned to feel ashamed, yet offenders proudly brag about their deeds while talking with their male buddies in a bar.

    It’s the culture and people’s attitudes that ought to be changed.

  12. says

    Onamission5:

    I want to say something about how male anger, that of genuinely protective and quasi-empathetic I have to fix this, do something dramatic rage, can feel so toxic when I am hovering near my own emotional bottom in need of substantial, patient support, because I feel tasked with responsibility of caring for that anger, of making sure it doesn’t get out of control, that I’m not the cause of another person getting hurt to compound an already deep and unresolved pain.

    Oh, so much this. So much. I dearly wish boys would stop being raised with this notion that what men do is identify problems and fix them. There’s a lot in life can’t be fixed, and when it comes to abuse, I’m not looking to be fixed. I can handle that myself.

    As for the rest, yes, it does put the eternal burden on your shoulders to look out for that man, to take care of him, explain, soothe that anger, find a way for them to feel helpful, and so on. It’s so tiresome, always being cast as the caretaker of men.

    I’ve long said that the very best thing men can do is refuse to stay silent. To refuse to be complicit, in any way, ever. Men get their sense of self in large part from the homosocial sphere, from what other men think of them. Every time one man refuses to tell others that their ‘rapey jokes’ suck, and why they suck, is complicit. Most men are not rapists, most men don’t sexually assault, but plenty of them do, and their behaviour is condoned by men who do not want to speak up.

  13. says

    Ieva Skrebele:

    My mother is currently 64 years old and no stranger has groped her ass for some years by now.

    FFS. Just because your mother has not been assaulted does not mean a damn thing. As of midnight tonight, I’ll be 60, and men trying to get me in a corner has not stopped at all.

  14. says

    Caine #14

    FFS. Just because your mother has not been assaulted does not mean a damn thing. As of midnight tonight, I’ll be 60, and men trying to get me in a corner has not stopped at all.

    It means a lot for me. When I was a child and my mother was in her mid 40ties, she was getting unwanted male attention. She stopped getting it when she was over 50. From this fact I can make some observations about the culture in my country (thus relevant for me). You and I live in different countries, so it’s no surprise that things are different where you live. But what is happening in my country is more relevant for me.

  15. John Morales says

    leva, please be aware you are arguing on the basis of your personal experience. Extrapolating from that is fraught.

    (Perhaps Google* this search term, then append your country: sexual assault "older women")

    * or whatever search engine you prefer; it doesn’t matter

  16. John Morales says

    PS here is one result for my own country: http://normasproject.weebly.com/uploads/1/8/6/8/18685098/researchreport.pdf

    [My] Pullquote from the intro (sorry for the formatting, too lazy to do other than cut and paste):

    When discussions about the sexual assault of women
    take place, whether in the halls of academia or the legal
    fraternity, or the streets of popular culture, most people
    are envisaging a woman of reproductive age. They
    are often thinking of the young woman out socialising
    after work on a Friday night; perhaps less commonly, a
    middle-aged woman living in fear of her male partner.
    Indeed, as some suggest, ‘rape myths and ideologies
    perpetuate the notion of the “classic rape victim” as a
    young and attractive woman attacked by a stranger
    driven by sexual desire at night in a dark alley’ (Lea
    et al. 2010, p.2303-4). Thus the attack on an 83 year
    old woman in an aged care facility is not an image
    commonly associated with the idea of sexual assault,
    nor is the rape of a 92 year old woman in her own home.
    The idea of older women as victims of sexual assault
    is relatively recent. Not surprisingly the vast bulk of
    research directed towards sexual assault has largely
    focussed its attention on younger women.

  17. says

    What this does is show me that I can strive to be a better man than when I was young, even though by any standard I wasn’t anywhere as bad as many of the other young men at the time.

  18. says

    John Morales #16

    Are you trying to argue that there is no statistical correlation between a woman’s age and the probability she will experience sexual assault? If a 20 years old woman living in some area experiences ass groping by strangers, on average, once per month, then her 70 years old grandmother (who lives in the same area) is also going to experience ass groping, on average, once every month?

    Don’t you think that it matters for somebody whether they experience sexual assault, on average, once every month or once every ten years? It influences how one perceives the world. It also influences behavior. After having lived an ass groping free life for several years in a row, my mother now happily drinks in parties and walks alone in dark alleys (several decades earlier she saw the same actions as dangerous).

    #17

    The fact that a 92 years old woman got raped does not prove that, on average, 92 years old women get raped just as frequently as 22 years old women.

    I never claimed that certain groups of people never experience sexual assault. My point was about statistical probabilities and the fact that they are pretty important.

    If a society assumes that some groups of people never experience sexual assault, that’s extremely harmful for these victims. This is the problem with male rape victims (I mean those who get raped outside of prisons). They actually have to fight to be taken seriously. And getting help is harder than for female victims.

    Or consider the situation of a guy who gets his ass groped by a beautiful young woman. He cannot use physical force against the perpetrator (society would perceive that as inappropriate), he cannot shout at her (also perceived as inappropriate), he cannot even complain to other people (they would just tell him that he should consider himself lucky instead). All he can do is politely ask the woman to stop groping him and hope that she actually listens. And if she does not listen and keeps on groping him, the male victim is out of luck.

  19. says

    Ieva Skrebele@#20:
    Are you trying to argue that there is no statistical correlation between a woman’s age and the probability she will experience sexual assault?

    He doesn’t appear to be arguing anything like that. Are you deliberately mis-characterizing his position, or did you misunderstand?

  20. says

    I reckon that BDSM is not ‘part of rape culture’, but rather rape culture encourages and promotes unhealthy BDSM. Done right, consent is PARAMOUNT, and the sub is always in charge of how far things go and what is and is not okay. But it does not look like that to someone who does not know the rules, so it will sometimes attract people who think being a dom means actually getting to use someone as your plaything irrespective of their desires.

    IMO people who actually get off on controlling people make TERRIBLE doms – the best are the ones dedicated to making a sub’s dream come true.

    So in short, yes, I encourage you to write an article on this.

  21. says

    @#21

    In #7 I said, “It does to some extent” (referring to how getting older helps to reduce the amount of sexual assault a person experiences). Notice the words “to some extent”, I never said “completely”.

    In #15 I said, “It means a lot for me….”. Referring to how experiencing a reduced amount of sexual assault is what is happening with older women in the culture where I live (thus relevant for me). If Caine is experiencing something different in her country, I don’t intend to argue about her culture or what people experience there.

    I didn’t say that explicitly, but the whole reason for me saying that this is relevant for me was because a reduction in the amount of sexual assault a person experiences means a lot, it significantly changes behavior. My mother used to be afraid of being in certain “unsafe” parts of the city at night as a result of near rape experience she once had in a dark alley during her youth (she barely managed to escape). Now that she has gotten pretty old she is finally happily walking anywhere at night, she finally feels safe while being alone in dark alleys. And that means a lot for her.

    To sum up, those were my points in #7 and #15:
    1) getting old reduces the amount of sexual assault a woman experiences (#7);
    2) that’s what is happening in my country (I do not intend to speculate about what is probably happening in other countries, if Caine says that she is experiencing something different, I won’t argue against her (#15)).

    In response to these two points I get John Morales (in #16 and #17) telling me about two cases where women over 80 got raped. Unless John Morales wants to argue against my point in #7 (that there is a reduction in cases of sexual assault) or my clarification in #15 (that this is happening in my country), then what is he even arguing about, where does he even disagree with me? Nowhere did I say that elderly women never experience any sexual assault.

  22. John Morales says

    No, leva. I am noting it’s a thing that happens, not that there is no correlation.

    More subtly, I am suggesting that you’ve take your own lived experience and extrapolated from it, and when confronted with a contrasting testimony, you appealed to the difference between countries as the explanation.

    Regarding the extract, it’s part of the introduction to a formal study. The assaults mentioned were the motivating factor that prompted that study.

  23. says

    #24
    and when confronted with a contrasting testimony, you appealed to the difference between countries as the explanation.

    It’s not that I “appealed to the difference between countries as the explanation”, it’s just that the differences were the reason why I’m willing to accept Caine’s claim about her experience and why I’m not going to argue my point any further. If instead of Caine a woman from my country had said “I’m 60 and the frequency of ass groping I now experience is still the same as back when I was 20”, I would argue that her experience is unusual and not representative of what women generally experience in our country and I would argue that despite her unique experience in our country there still is a correlation between a woman’s age and the frequency with which she experiences sexual assault. However, since I know nothing about Caine’s circumstances, I do not intend to argue this.

    For me there is a difference between my opinions that I’m willing to defend (I’m absolutely certain that I’m right) and my opinions that I’m not willing to defend (I think that I’m probably right). I think that in most places on this planet there’s a strong correlation between a woman’s age and the frequency with which she experiences sexual assault. I still think that maybe such a correlation exists also wherever Caine happens to live. But I cannot be absolutely certain. Thus, if Caine insisted that no such correlation exists, I wouldn’t argue with her about it.

    Due to my extensive experience with participating in debate tournaments, I have developed a habit of being very careful about what positions/arguments I defend verbally (or in writing). I don’t like “losing” an argument and being proven wrong. If I’m not certain, I won’t argue. For example, “elderly women never get raped” would be a really stupid claim to attempt to defend. Any claim “X never happens” can be refuted by finding just a single example where X actually happened. So unless X was impossible because of laws of physics (or any similar reason that makes X truly impossible), I would never try to defend any claim worded as “X never happens”.

    I am suggesting that you’ve take your own lived experience and extrapolated from it

    Yes, of course I’m aware that humans are very bad when it comes to observation. We remember things selectively, we misinterpret what we see and witness, we cannot do statistical correlations in our head. We suffer from a sampling bias and small sample sizes. And so on. That’s why I’m very careful about forming opinions based on personal experiences. Statistics compiled by scientists are better than my personal observations. Which is why I set pretty high standards for any opinions I form based on personal experiences. An impression that I get my ass groped about once per month while my mother gets her ass groped about once every two months wouldn’t count. It might just be an accident, my memory could be failing me and so on. An impression that I get my ass groped about once per month while my mother hasn’t been groped for several years in a row would be better. I know that my memory cannot be that faulty. But that still wouldn’t be enough. Two people are too small sample. But I happen to talk with other people too. I have some information about all my family members and my friends of various ages (some of my friends are pretty old). Moreover, I’m not blind, I can observe what’s going on with people around me. I mentioned that my elderly mother hasn’t experienced any sexual assault for years just as a single example. In reality I have a lot more data points that I used to form my opinion that “elderly women experience less sexual assault”. Since all my data points are from where I happen to live I must narrow this claim and turn it into “elderly women experience less sexual assault in my country”. And the reason why I’m willing to defend this claim is because I’m absolutely certain that it is true. And the reason why I don’t intend to defend any broader claims is because I am not absolutely sure.

  24. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Quoting Marcus, quoting Ieva:

    It seems that the only thing that works is getting old enough to be perceived as ugly (and consequentially not desirable) by potential rapists.

    I hate to disappoint you (and I’m sure others will chime in) it’s about power, not looks. Age doesn’t help.

    Quoting Marcus, quoting Ieva:

    Are you trying to argue that there is no statistical correlation between a woman’s age and the probability she will experience sexual assault?

    He doesn’t appear to be arguing anything like that. Are you deliberately mis-characterizing his position, or did you misunderstand?

    Marcus, you seem to be taking contradictory positions in these two quotes. In particular, the phrase “Age doesn’t help” in this context clearly implies that there is no correlation between age of victim and likelihood to be raped, and yet, you seemingly distance yourself from that position in the other quote. Seems pretty open and shut to me.

  25. John Morales says

    Good response, leva.

    May I note that to me it is pleasing to see such a bright young mind at work. I was particularly impressed by your first comment, where you evinced what Scientologists term “a cognition”.

    An impression that I get my ass groped about once per month while my mother gets her ass groped about once every two months wouldn’t count. It might just be an accident, my memory could be failing me and so on. An impression that I get my ass groped about once per month while my mother hasn’t been groped for several years in a row would be better.

    Bum-pinching was a thing is Spain when I was little boy, FWTW. It wasn’t even seen as a micro-aggression in those times (a few exceptional people aside).

    I’d make some meta-comments about other things, but this is one thread worth keeping on-topic, IMO.

  26. John Morales says

    [sigh — this is meta, contrary to my preference]

    EnlightenmentLiberal, I had thought better of your acumen.

    (Marcus stating that he doesn’t think I said what leva thinks I might have said is entirely unrelated to his own claim; he’s quite correct FWIW)

  27. says

    EnlightenmentLiberal@#26:
    Marcus, you seem to be taking contradictory positions in these two quotes.

    No, the two observations are not connected. In this first:
    “I hate to disappoint you (and I’m sure others will chime in) it’s about power, not looks. Age doesn’t help.”
    I am commenting that I believe the main driver behind abuse is dominance not appearance.
    In the second:
    “He doesn’t appear to be arguing anything like that. Are you deliberately mis-characterizing his position, or did you misunderstand?”
    I am observing that Ieva appears to be deliberately or accidentally misunderstanding John Morales. That doesn’t imply I agree or disagree with Morales.

    It happens that I mostly do, but mostly I was trying to forestall belaboring what I consider to be a minor, tangential, point. (On the other hand I didn’t want to stomp down on it as minor and tangential; I was trying to be subtle, and that was probably wasted.)

  28. Desert Son, OM says

    And, thank you for this post, Marcus, as well, having now read both. I’m very grateful. I needed to read all of it, and I’m going to come back to it again and again, and your discussion of the protective battle-stance stuff was a very important component for me to encounter.

    Thank you.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  29. says

    The whole question of the age or attractiveness of the victim places the transgression on an axis that I don’t think holds it very well.

    Collapse age into “attractiveness” because that’s really the same argument.
    Collapse “attractiveness” down further and it’s basically the argument for why some men insist women should wear burqas: there are men that will be so uncontrollably smitten by $whoever that they will be unable to refrain from grabbing them.
    That’s one reason I feel the “age” or “attractiveness” cause is more problematic than “power” – the other is that it takes us into a really dark place where we have to seriously entertain things like those who said Bill Clinton never could have molested Paula Jones because she wasn’t that attractive (yes: people really said that) That argument is the flip side of the age/attractiveness argument.

    Here’s another way of looking at it: perhaps older women are more established, have been around longer, or are simply less likely to be impatient than younger women. Perhaps older women are molested less often because the intelligent molester figures an older woman, who is more familiar with the bullshit ways of the world is more likely to stick a knife in them. Perhaps older women are not as easily victimized.

    I’ve been trying to steer clear of this particular patch of quicksand (hence my oblique comment at #21, because I think it’s going to be a complicated mixture of social factors, the society we’re talking about, and also the kind of assault. What do I mean? Well, it’s been my observation that other people’s bodies feel pretty much the same, whether they are attractive or not! If you grope a cat of any color after midnight, they all look grey and feel furry, quadrupedal, and may claw or bite. to Ieva’s point: of course it may be a factor. But it clearly can’t be the only factor because an unattractive person’s butt feels about the same as an attractive person’s. And I have experience with butts of all ages (including my own, which I regularly wash in the shower!) and it doesn’t feel substantially different from when I was 20. My belly’s another matter!

    Earlier, at #6, I used an umbrella-term “power” that covers a lot of details: will, opportunity, capability, deniability – I don’t come close to knowing all the possible factors that an assailant might take into account before they act, but just “opportunity” implies that the victim is not guarded by hulking armed bodyguards, perhaps is alone, probably is somewhere where there is no obvious witness, etc – let’s call that “opportunity” and consider that sexual predators like Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, et al., appear to be more opportunistic than anything else. Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein and Roy Moore appear to have taken appearance into account, but it pales in importance compared to having the opportunity and the power to assault the victim with what they perceived as impunity. So, when I said “power” I meant a panoply of other factors, which seem to me to drown out the others pretty quickly.

    Those factors are also going to change as a predator learns and establishes an M.O. So maybe it starts with a film director commenting on a target’s appearance, then graduates to something else. Not to make an “argument from ignorance” but I’m racking my brains as to how it’d be more interesting for Louis C.K. to jerk off in front of a more attractive victim than an older or less attractive victim.

  30. says

    Desert Son, OM@#30:
    You’re welcome.

    Make sure you read Onamission5’s comment @#9. I think it’s more illuminating than everything I wrote.
    We’re all still learning, aren’t we?

  31. John Morales says

    [again — not on topic]

    re BDSM, I have read a fair bit about it but… well. Roleplaying per se I get. That specific version, I don’t. Not disputing anything herein written, mind you.

    Perhaps it’s my literal mindset (which is not always helpful), perhaps it’s the yuck-factor given my own proclivities.

    Anyway. I think it’s a confusing thing to discuss feminism in conjunction with people’s freedom to engage in consensual activity in our milieu — so easy to be confused, so polarising — for most of us vanilla people, particularly where the sexual element is so prominent.
    In short, I think it’s distracting — though I do get that consent is the salient common aspect being discussed. The nitty-gritty (implicit vs. explicit consent, for example) is even more problematic.

    A separate post, sure. I imagine I would find it informative.

  32. says

    #31

    I’ve been trying to steer clear of this particular patch of quicksand (hence my oblique comment at #21

    I didn’t get that. For me it seemed like you are accusing me of intellectual dishonesty.

    Collapse age into “attractiveness” because that’s really the same argument.
    Collapse “attractiveness” down further and it’s basically the argument for why some men insist women should wear burqas … That argument is the flip side of the age/attractiveness argument.

    This argument is stupid, it’s just some thinly veiled attempt to excuse sexual assault. We rarely hear such an argument about any other crime: “Owning a car increases you chances of becoming a victim of a car theft, therefore you should stop owning a car.” At this point whenever I point out this double standard, I generally hear a response that goes approximately: “Of course it’s not the victim’s fault that they suffered, it’s the criminals fault that they committed a crime. Still, it’s in people’s best interests to do what they can in order to minimize their chances of becoming victimized. Just like you lock your car’s doors to lessen the probability of having your car stolen, you should also wear a burqa to lessen your probability of getting raped.” Basically the idea is that women should intentionally make themselves look uglier to protect themselves.

    Next I’m going to make an “even if” argument. I will use several assumptions in order to expose the flawed logic within this argument. I do not consider these assumptions true.

    For the wannabe rapist some potential victims are more desirable than others, they could be arranged according to their desirability starting from most desirable:
    1) attractive women in bikinis;
    2) attractive women in modest clothes (long skirt, loose fitting garments);
    3) unattractive women;
    4) women in burqas;
    5) men.

    For the “all women should wear burqas (modest clothes, whatever)” argument to work, our potential wannabe rapist should completely abstain from targeting all the less desirable victims. When #1, #2 and #3 potential victims are all gone (all women wear burqas in the country), our potential rapist will abstain from raping altogether, the rapist won’t target #4. But that’s not what is happening in real life. In countries where all women wear burqas rapists simply target burqa wearing women. In sex segregated prisons supposedly heterosexual inmates sexually assault other people of the same sex. When the more desirable targets are gone, wannabe rapists do not abstain from raping, instead they just target whoever happens to be nearby. Therefore having all women wear modest clothes isn’t going to work if your goal is to decrease sexual assault in a society. Any correlation between perceived attractiveness and sexual assault rates cannot be used to argue in favor of a nationwide clothing policy requiring that all women within a country are legally required to wear modest clothes.

    Such a correlation could be used differently to offer individual advice as in, “You should wear modest clothes, so that some other careless and revealing-clothes-wearing sucker gets raped in your stead.” But this is clearly not the argument that people who are in favor of modest clothes are making. This assumes that the rapist will target #2 only when all #1 are gone, he will target #3 only when all #2 are gone etc (which is a ridiculous assumption in its own right). Of course I consider also such advice incorrect — this argument requires an assumption that out of sight means out of mind. The moment our potential rapist sees somebody sexy in front of his eyes, he wants to rape her (and cannot help it, cannot abstain). The moment she puts on some fabric that covers her skin our potential rapist instantly forgets about sex and stops having sexual desires. If only you cover your body with fabric, the potential rapist will forget about sex while in your presence. Obviously that’s not how human brain works.

    This concludes the part filled with assumptions I personally consider false. I intentionally left out all the other factors that influence whether somebody becomes a victim. I left out all that in order to simplify the argument. Even if attractiveness was the only factor determining somebody’s probability to become a victim, it still wouldn’t make sense to wear modest clothes.

    Personally I’m comfortable believing that there’s some correlation between somebody’s physical appearance and their probability of becoming a victim of sexual assault. I don’t think that skirt length makes much of a difference and this correlation might be only for some types of sexual assault (for example, less attractive people seem to experience less frequent ass groping). However, for the aforementioned reasons, I do not think that “there probably is some correlation” results in “therefore women should wear burqas”.

    to Ieva’s point: of course it may be a factor. But it clearly can’t be the only factor because an unattractive person’s butt feels about the same as an attractive person’s.

    I know that there are also lots of other factors, which either increase or decrease somebody’s probability to become a victim. I never denied their existence. And I’m aware that at night in bed human bodies feel pretty similar. I noticed that pretty early. There was just no way I could sleep with men my age. High school boys bored me: “I don’t want to hear about how you got drunk in last Friday’s party, can we, please, instead discuss philosophy before sex?” Of course that didn’t work.

    To John Morales

    In discussions there’s a nasty strategy that involves shifting goalposts. It might look like:
    A: “Elderly women never get raped.”
    B: “But here’s info about a case where an 80 years old woman got raped.”
    A: “Well, but elderly women do suffer less sexual assault.”
    C: “Not in my case, I’m 60 and I still experience the same shit as back when I was 20.”
    A: “You live somewhere else, elderly women do suffer less sexual assault in my country.”
    D: “I live in the same country as you do, I’m old and I still experience the same shit as back when I was 20.”
    A: “Well, among my family members elderly women do suffer less frequent sexual assault, you cannot prove me wrong; therefore I have won this argument.”

    I just realized that my comments could have looked like this, like I’m shifting my claim when confronted with a contrasting testimony. That was not my intention. My initial point in #5 was about how supposedly making yourself less attractive by wearing modest clothes does not work. I didn’t expect people to start a discussion about age and statistical probabilities. That wasn’t the point of this blog entry. When people did start responding about that, I was in a position where I needed to clarify the exact claim I’m willing to defend. I had multiple reasons for that:
    1. Defending too broad a claim would mean cornering myself and instantly losing the argument once somebody refutes a claim that cannot be defended. If I tried to defend the claim that “elderly women never experience any sexual assault”, I’d be proven wrong in an instant. If I want to have a chance of winning arguments, I must choose reasonable claims that can be defended.
    2. Failing to clearly define the scope and limits of your claim often results in failed discussions. That’s exactly what we had here. I said, “Age does help to some extent.” You responded with info about cases where several elderly women got raped. Neither of us had a clue about the exact position that the other person is defending. Once this misunderstanding was sorted out, it turned out that we can agree and there was nothing to argue about to begin with. That’s not how discussions should be happening.
    3. Failing to set reasonable limits for claims can result in stupid discussions where people miss the main point. For example, in a discussion about whether smoking in public places should be limited somebody claims, “All smokers die prematurely of smoking related health problems.” The opposing side will reply with mentioning cases where some heavy smokers were healthy and lived till old age arguing against the word “all”. The discussion will become silly, because that’s not the point that was worth discussing in the first place.

  33. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Marcus
    Ok. I think you still made an error when you said “Age doesn’t help”. I think to be accurate and to properly represent your position, you should have said something like “Power-tripping is far more important. Age (and attractiveness) is a substantially lesser factor by comparison.”. I’ll stop this tangent now. Thanks!

  34. says

    EnlightenmentLiberal@#36:
    I think you still made an error when you said “Age doesn’t help”. I think to be accurate and to properly represent your position, you should have said something like “Power-tripping is far more important. Age (and attractiveness) is a substantially lesser factor by comparison.”.

    I was unclear, that’s for sure. What you said above is pretty much what I meant.
    I actually have another posting on that scheduled to drop later today.

    One of the things that happens when I am mining a topic, is I get my thoughts broken apart across multiple postings (as part of trying to organize them) – it gets confusing to track the swirl of ideas. Eh, that’s not an excuse, it’s an explanation.

  35. says

    Ieva Skrebele@#35:
    For me it seemed like you are accusing me of intellectual dishonesty.

    No. I was trying to get you to read what Morales had written a bit more carefully (since I think you misunderstood it) and to be a bit less argumentative.

    I’m generally quite direct; if I think someone is being intellectually dishonest, I’ll flat out say it.

    This argument is stupid, it’s just some thinly veiled attempt to excuse sexual assault.

    I’m not making the argument, I’m explaining it – in fact, I was trying to explain why it fails. And, yes, it’s stupid – that was my point. I’m glad we agree.

  36. mythogen says

    This may be harsh, but frankly, the urge that many people (often but not always men) to “stomp on” rapists and other people who abuse and exploit, on behalf of their loved ones is arguably a part of rape culture itself. It disrespects the independence and autonomy of the victim in a mirror image of the very abuse you’re trying to retaliate for. If someone asks you to help them retaliate, then that is one thing. But to assume that you have a right to retaliate, a right to determine the best response, on behalf of a victim… it is at minimum a stellar example of toxic masculinity.

    The solution to Cosby and Weinstein and Clinton and the rest is listening to victims and respecting their needs. “Defending” women or anyone else the way you advocate, centering your experience of anger and preference for retaliation, is not the solution, even if stomping on a rapist does discourage them. Because the root problem is respecting other people’s autonomy. Even other people who are traumatized and socially disempowered and physically smaller than you are.

    All you’re doing is imposing emotional labor on them, as others have said, and perpetuating that same disempowerment.

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