Quickies

Skepchick Quickies 2.16

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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  1. I can think of contrived situations where I’d say a victim should accept responsibility for being raped. I won’t mention them, cause they’ll look like attempts at humour, which has no place in commenting on this survey.

    If the survey was an open question with “are there any situations” and/or “partly responsible” I’d sort of be able to accept the responses, although I’d disagree. Looking at the actual questions and reponses just horrifies me.

    The situations in this survey, getting into bed with someone (71% of women thought victim was to blame), and coming upstairs for a drink (one third of women though victim was to blame) are absolutely in no way a get-out-of-jail card for someone who doesn’t accept a no as a no.

    The parallell article on victims’ responses to the survey results is interesting, if sad, reading:
    Rape victims respond to survey on ‘blame’ for rape

  2. @Bjornar:

    I can think of contrived situations where I’d say a victim should accept responsibility for being raped.

    There is no situation where a victim should accept responsibility for being raped.
    PERIOD.

    And your link doesn’t work.

  3. I wonder if there isn’t a defense mechanism at work here. If women believe that the victim bears some responsibility it’s easier to say, “well, I would never do that, so rape can’t happen to me.” Admitting that rape is not an act of sex- it’s an act of violence targeted against women- can be frightening because it means it could happen to anyone, not just women who are “asking for it” with their clothes or actions.

    I can’t imagine what it’s like to live and cope with the terror rape victims often feel after an attack. To somehow blame them is inexcusable and sickens me.

    From the response article: “Sadly, the main reason my marriage ended was because my then wife couldn’t take any responsibility for her attack.” I can’t wipe the look of disgust off of my face. I feel dirty for even reading this.

  4. @marilove:

    A question: if I leave my brand new Ferrari parked in a known high-crime part of town, with the doors unlocked and the keys in the ignition, would you say I’m partly responsible for it being stolen?

    (key word – “partly”)

  5. @Zoltan: YAY! Comparing the RAPE OF A PRESON to stealing a car!

    I was waiting for it, and it only took five fucking comments.

    A RAPE VICTM IS NEVER FUCKING RESPONSIBLE FOR BEING RAPED. PERIOD. A CAR IS NOT A PERSON. MEN ARE ABLE TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR OWN ACTIONS AND NOT FUCKING RAPE.

    If a man sees a women who is vulnerable, that man shouldn’t rape.

    If am an can’t control his fucking actions and not rape, IT IS NOT THE VICTIM’S FUCKING FAULT. Not partly. Not even a little. She did nothing wrong. The RAPIST raped.

  6. @Displaced Northerner:

    “well, I would never do that, so rape can’t happen to me.”

    I think this is a big reason. Not the only reason, but a big one.

    “Sadly, the main reason my marriage ended was because my then wife couldn’t take any responsibility for her attack.”

    It’s *sick* how many men feel this way when their wives, girlfriends, or friends are raped.

    An acquaintance of mine was recently raped. She was drunk, and the guy she was hanging out with that night (not her boyfriend, who had other plans) kept feeding her drink after drink. She trusted him.

    He took advantage of her. And raped her.

    Then when she confided in her boyfriend, he asked her: “Well, did you flirt with him? Why were you drinking with him?” Please note that she knew the rapist fairly well, so it wasn’t like he was even a stranger. And yet, he took advantage of her, because she was vulnerable. And her boyfriend put the blame right on her, even though she was raped. He made it out like she cheated on him, because she was raped. Disgusting, but not at all uncommon.

    Another friend of mine gave a drunk guy she knew a bit (not well, but they had hung out before) a ride home. And he raped her.

    But people like Zoltan will put the blame, even “partly” on the woman.

    I guess these women should have just locked themselves up, huh? Not left the house? No drinking with a guy you know! He might rape you! And it’ll be your fault because you left your house and *gasp* drank with him! And of course, her boyfriend blamed her! Because she gave a guy she knew a ride home, it was her fault for being raped. Instead of being sympathetic, he got mad.

    No being nice and giving a guy you know a ride home! It’ll be YOUR fault, because you were alone with a man! Tsk tsk, women! You should lock yourselves up, for fear you might get raped!

    How ‘bout we turn it around and say the man should not take advantage of a vulnerable person?

  7. @Zoltan:
    I think theft and violence are different types of crimes which we should not analogize. And leaving a tempting trap for a potential thief is a completely different act than participating in normal interpersonal social relationships with the expectation that violence should not be the result.

  8. @Zoltan: I would say that wasn’t smart (though not to you right after you had done it because that would be mean). But I wouldn’t say it was your fault or that you were to blame. In fact, I’d probably tell you that this guy would have found a way to steal your car anyway. But that’s just how I roll.

    Listen, I practice safety in numbers like nobody’s business. I don’t walk alone at night; I hold a key between my fingers so a landed punch would slice an attacker; I turn and face someone who is following suspiciously close behind me. But even with all of that, I could still be raped- and my attack wouldn’t be any worse than the girl walking drunk and alone.

    I wonder, when a guy gets murdered in a dodgy neighborhood, is he partly to blame?

  9. @Jen: Great link. It should be required reading in health ed in high school and then again at college orientation. I especially like this one, “If your frat-brother or another guy at the party tells you there’s an unconscious woman upstairs and it’s your turn, don’t rape her, call the police and tell the guy he’s a rapist.”

  10. Perhaps the problem is the definition of “Partially responsible” in the survey. Saying that something could have been avoided is different from assigning responsibility for what did happen.

    To use the argument from comments, if you leave you car doors unlocked and put a key in the visor, that doesn’t make it any more legally or ethically OK for someone to steal that car.

    On the other hand it is certainly true that you can reasonably take steps to reduce the risk of being a crime victim in the case of auto theft and sexual assault. A big difference in that comparison is that some people think a reasonable step is to not go out in public, get married at 12, or cover one’s ankles at all times.

    Anyway, assuming that it’s reasonable to say that getting drunk and going home alone with a stranger is something one might reasonably avoid to reduce the risk of rape, does saying so mean I’m assigning blame or responsibility?

    Did the survey make this distinction?

    (NOTE: I see that the conversation has gotten past me while I was writing this:P)

  11. While the car example is a bit insensitive, the murder analogy was also brought up. A guy who gets murdered in a bad neighborhood is only partly responsible in that there were reasonable steps he could have taken to reduce the risk. This is not to say that he is mostly or even significantly responsible (as compared to the murderer), and it shouldn’t reduce the sympathy for him or his family.

    In any dangerous situation you are responsible for taking reasonable measures to minimize risk. Rape is extremely damaging and affects people on a deep emotional level, so I can see where “hey, here’s some things that can be done to help you not get raped” turns into “RAPE IS YOUR FAULT”, but I don’t think that’s what people in this thread are saying. I think as skeptics, we tend to be realists, and we realize that just like how murderers will always exist, so will rapists (no matter how much we educate men, no matter how much we reduce the occurance of rape). This means that, while the onus is on men not to rape, there always needs to be some protective measures taken by women.

    The survey on the other hand… eek.

  12. I knew I was going to take heat for my comment. But, I think it’s important to ask.

    But people like Zoltan will put the blame, even “partly” on the woman.

    Marilove, this is clearly an emotional topic for you (and with good reason). I’m not trying to bait you, I’m just asking. I never “partly” blamed the woman, I just asked, but you were ready to attack me anyway. I suspect you’re not going to be happy with any analogy anyone makes because you clearly feel that being raped is without analogy.

    Displaced Northerner’s comment was that leaving the car in such a situation is a poor choice. And that was my point. Are *all* rape victims guilty of making poor choices? Of course not. Probably not even most. But some? Quite possibly.

    Yes, there’s no reason for any person to rape another. But ya know what? It happens (as does murder, theft, and a lot of other douchebaggery) and that it happens can’t be ignored. Not taking precautions to protect yourself is a poor choice. And dropping yourself into situations that increase your odds of physical harm is an even worse choice.

    A young, slight woman chooses to go alone to a bar known to be frequented by a “rough element”, and once at that bar she proceeds to get herself really drunk. It’s a really poor choice, and she’s just increased her chances of being raped, over (for example) going out with a group of friends to a bar with a better clientele, drinking moderately and arranging for safe transport home.

  13. I guess these women should have just locked themselves up, huh? – Marilove

    I had a mental picture of women in burqa when I read that. I agree with everything you’ve said.

    Wow, I didn’t realise though that we still have a long way to go on this front.

  14. @Zoltan:

    key word – “partly”)

    You just essentially said that women can be “partly responsible” for being raped.

    You are saying: “The rapist is partially not responsible for raping.”

    Or,

    “Well, she was alone in that bar, drunk, so of course she’s partially responsible for you raping her!

    You are essentially taking part of the blame OFF the rapist and putting in ON the victim.

    This is wrong.

    Always.

    It is not the fault of the victim.

    It is ALWAYS the fault of the rapist.

    A victim is NEVER “partially” responsible for being raped; a rapist is ALWAYS 100% at fault for raping.

    A young, slight woman chooses to go alone to a bar known to be frequented by a “rough element”, and once at that bar she proceeds to get herself really drunk. It’s a really poor choice, and she’s just increased her chances of being raped, over (for example) going out with a group of friends to a bar with a better clientele, drinking moderately and arranging for safe transport home.

    And that young slight women would not be “partially” responsible for getting raped at that “questionable” bar. The rapist would still be 100% at fault.

    And further more, she could just as easily be raped at the “better” bar! She is not any less likely to get raped at a “better” bar than she is at a “questionable” bar.

    Rapists exist in nice bars too!

    The friends I mentioned above? Were in decent bars WITH FRIENDS. THEIR RAPISTS WERE THEIR FRIENDS. AND THEY WERE STLL RAPED

    So should we take it further?

    Since they were raped after drinking in “nice” bars, and were raped by men they trusted, because they were drunk or otherwise vulnerable (alone in a car with the rapist whom she trusted, for instance), should the next step be, don’t go out at all? Don’t go out and get drunk? Since if you do, you might put yourself in danger? If you go out and get drunk and someone you thought you could trust rapes you because you were vulnerable, is it partly your fault, since you put yourself in a vulnerable spot by either drinking, or being alone with someone you *thought* you could trust, but who turned out to be a rapist?

    WHERE DOES IT FUCKING END?

  15. @loudlyquiet: Yep, I read it as: “If I victim blame, and a woman gets upset, then it’s because it’s an emotional topic, and of course she’s getting emotional, because she’s a woman! It can’t be because I’m being a victim-blaming rape apologist! She’s just emotional!”

  16. Geez, I didn’t think there were any smart people left who could even argue that rape is ever the fault of the victim.

    A man’s penis doesn’t just fall into stuff. He has to intend it to go somewhere. Sure, he can be forced into it (men can be raped, after all), but if the woman is forced into it, it’s still rape to her too.

    If anyone says no and someone else keeps doing stuff, it’s rape and not the victims fault. It doesn’t matter what happened up to that point.

    That’s not to say that it’s smart to put yourself at risk, but taking a risk doesn’t equal inviting rape and thereby having responsibility for it.

    Logically speaking, the only way a victim would be to blame is if he/she specifically and in all ways clearly requested the rape, in which case it is not rape because consent was given, therefore there’s no way a victim can be to blame.

  17. Haven’t any of you stopped to think that part of the problem is that we concentrate too much on what women should (notice the word “should”) do to stop being raped, and not enough on what we can do to prevent rape?

    Whenever these discussions come up, we never talk about why men rape — it instantly turns to how women can keep themselves safe. And by “we” I mean everyone, everywhere, not just here.

    And it really doesn’t matter what women do – they are still raped. Why? Because talking about what women should do to stop being raped does not address the problem. It puts the problem right back on the victims, and ignores the rapists completely.

    Why can’t we start concentrating on why men rape? Why can’t we start concentrating on how to teach men not to rape? Why can’t we start concentrating on what the reasons are for why men rape, and why rape is so prevalent?

    One of those reasons is victim blaming. By saying “a women is partially responsible for being raped in , you are taking part of the blame OFF the rapist, giving them an out. You are telling them that it’s okay they raped, because the woman could have done more to stop the rapist from raping them. Rapists use this kind of rationalization ALL THE FUCKING TIME. This is the *exact same shit* they say to defend their actions. “She was drunk and passed out, she was asking for it!” “She was wearing a miniskirt while walking down a dark alley, she was asking for it!”

    By saying the victim is partially responsible, you are using the exact same rationalizations that the rapist uses for himself and his actions. You are confirming his rationalizations. You are telling him that it was okay that he raped her, because it is partially her fault for being vulnerable.

    Responsible and responsibility are the important words here. Sure, there’s stuff I can do to make myself safer (MAYBE), but that doesn’t mean I’m responsible for being raped, even if I go to a questionable bar alone and get drunk. The responsibility is still, and always will be, on the rapist.

    And I can still do everything in my power to try to stay safe, and still be raped.

  18. @kimberlychapman: “That’s not to say that it’s smart to put yourself at risk, but taking a risk doesn’t equal inviting rape and thereby having responsibility for it.”

    As Marilove points out though, with her examples of women and people they trusted, how does one assess risk? At what point is something considered “putting yourself” at risk?

    I think that’s the issue between Zoltan and Marilove’s comments: Zoltan seems to be saying that there are situations that are riskier than others, Marilove seems to be saying that there is inherent risk as long as men don’t shoulder the responsibility for not raping under any circumstance. Some women evaluate their risk very carefully and get raped anyway.

  19. @Displaced Northerner:

    You are absolutely right about blaming the victim as a defense mechanism.

    When I was in college, on classmate raped another one. They knew each other beforehand, and they went to a bar together, with at least a dozen other people. It was because of this that I learned that “date rape” is far, far more common than stranger rape.

    To my astonishment, some people defended the rapist, because he had had way too much to drink. Some of his defenders were women, and one of them even lied to help him get away with it. What I realized is that it’s really, really comforting to think that the only rapists are creepy guys who lurk in dark alleys and behind bushes. Nobody wants to think that their own friend of classmate is a rapist. Nobody wants to think that that person could have done the same thing to them. The guy who did it was a little sleazy, but still easily in the range of average. And it’s really frightening to think that any average person you know could commit such a crime, especially against their own friends.

  20. @ Marilove
    And women in burqas STILL get raped. And then acid thrown on their faces after they are raped.

    Indeed.

    @Zoltan

    I understand that your pushing the argument that rape is preventable. The problem is, unless we castrate everyone, it’s not! Women get raped in their homes all the time and, as Marilove pointed out, they get raped by people they know and trust as well too. There is no fool proof way to prevent rape. This attitude only promotes fear and we can’t have that, not in the world we live today! Women should be able to live, to quote Sex and the City, fun and fearless lives! And men too… let’s not forget men are also victim of rape.

  21. @Zoltan:

    I never “partly” blamed the woman, I just asked

    O REALLY?

    Are *all* rape victims guilty of making poor choices? Of course not. Probably not even most. But some? Quite possibly.

    There you are! Partly blaming the victim! JFC.

    Stop victim blaming.

    The victim is NEVER even partly responsible for being raped.

    The rapist who did the actual fucking raping is responsible for fucking raping.

    How is this such a fucking difficult concept for people — not just men, clearly — to grasp?

  22. Is ‘slippery slope’ the right term for the level of histrionics in this thread? I may not agree 100% with Zoltan, but he didn’t say hardly any of what you are attributing to him. Acknowledging the existence of certain types of crime and the factors that one has a reasonable* amount of control over in preventing that crime should not be so violently opposed.

    Do we tell young women that rape shouldn’t happen, therefore they can do whatever they like all the time, or do we tell them that the threat of rape is real and there are contributing factors that they can control? I know what I would do if I had a daughter. I also know what I would do if I had a child of either gender and I lived in a rough neigborhood.

    I guess I’m thinking more in the preventative sense than in the punitive sense, though. Clearly in any case of rape, the victim should not be punished and the punishment for the rapist should not be lessened no matter what the circumstance.

    Can we tone down the rhetoric and actually debate the points people ARE making?

    *this is a word that has been ignored by all the reactionaries in this thread. Marilove, I think both of your friends took reasonable precautions (as described) and what happened to them was terrible. We do not mean staying at home all the time or wearing a burka.

  23. Anyone seen those adverts on the London underground about getting into illegal taxis? They always freak me out because it feels like it’s suggesting that’s what you can expect if you don’t use ‘Cabwise’.

    http://www.londonnet.co.uk/news/2009/dec/know-what-youre-getting-new-years-eve.html

    Of course everyone should try and use some common sense to lower the risk of getting into dangerous situations but a crime is a crime – the victim isn’t to blame.

  24. @Izzy: As a woman who was raped by her own boyfriend, on more than one occasion, I can attest to this.

    Clearly he was a rapist and an asshole, but I didn’t realize this for well over a year.

    Then he drugged me.

    And raped me.

    On more than one occasion.

    But heeeey, I should have done more to prevent it, huh? I shouldn’t trust my own boyfriend. I should lock myself up forever, and avoid all contact with men, because I might be raped, even by my own boyfriend!

    Again, where the fuck does this shit end?

    ETA: This was many years ago. Almost a decade. I am well over it, and in the end it taught me quite a lot (and I’m perhaps TOO thick-skinned now, with too many walls, but I digress).

    But I’ve had more than one person put the blame on ME. They have told me I should have known. They have told me, even though I was clearly abused and showing signs of being abused (I was in denial for a long, long time, and he was an excellent manipulator, not to mention the fact that I was relying on him for about a year for food and shelter), that I should have left him. Why did I stay? Why did I let him abuse me again and again? I have literally, point blank, been told that it was my fault, because I didn’t do enough to prevent it.

    These people who put the blame on me never, ever, ever say: “He shouldn’t have raped you.” They discuss and question what I did and what I should have done, but they never discuss or question his actions.

    Telling.

  25. @marilove: Yes. Exactly. And (to use another example) how does a 7 year old girl, reduce her risk of being attacked by creepy Uncle Bob? She can’t. That’s why we need to make all of the Uncle Bob’s in the world (of course just one example) that it’s NOT OKAY.

  26. @mikerattlesnake:

    I also know what I would do if I had a child of either gender and I lived in a rough neighborhood.

    Ok, I need to stop this. I need to stop this “if you are in a questionable bar” or “in a rough neighborhood” bullshit.

    You can get raped in a nice neighborhood.

    You can get raped in a nice bar.

    Nearly every women I know who has been raped has been raped by someone they know, or in a situation where they should have been safe.

    You can get raped in broad daylight for fuck’s sake!

    Recently, down the street from my old apartment complex, in an okay neighborhood (not ghetto, not fancy, just Central Phoenix, which has a huge mix of people), a woman was grabbed, pulled to an alley, and raped. At 11am. What could she have done to prevent that?

    Again: Why is it that we are continuing to discuss what women can do to keep them safe, and not discussing on what we can do, as a society, to stop men from raping??

  27. @loudlyquiet:
    Claiming that it is an emotional topic is just saying “well you are a woman you are too emotional to respond rationally”.

    Um, no. It was, “I appreciate that this resonates with you personally in a way it will likely never resonate with me, so I’m trying to be sensitive to that.” But I thank you for presupposing.

    @marilove:

    You just essentially said that women can be “partly responsible” for being raped.

    No, just clarifying my original question.

    And further more, she could just as easily be raped at the “better” bar! She is not any less likely to get raped at a “better” bar than she is at a “questionable” bar.

    Hrm…”just as easily” and “not any less likely”? You don’t think there are “high crime” parts of town? That certain activities occur with more frequency in some locations than in others (for whatever reason)? I bet police statistics disagree with you.

    @kimberlychapman:

    That’s not to say that it’s smart to put yourself at risk, but taking a risk doesn’t equal inviting rape and thereby having responsibility for it.

    Logically speaking, the only way a victim would be to blame is if he/she specifically and in all ways clearly requested the rape, in which case it is not rape because consent was given, therefore there’s no way a victim can be to blame.

    This is good point, a good statement, especially that last part. Maybe we’re having a semantic argument here. Perhaps there’s confusion over the word “blame” – let’s try again. How does this group feel about the statement, “Some women put themselves in situations that increase their risk of being raped” ?

    @Kimbo Jones:

    I think this is a good summary (at least of what I’m trying to say). And I’m saying it ’cause that’s the focus of the original article this discussion came from – the article didn’t talk about how to prevent men from raping, men shouldering the responsibility…any of that. My original comment (and my subsequent comments) are based on the original article at the top of this post.

    [readys himself to accept more onslaught]

  28. @mikerattlesnake:

    Marilove, I think both of your friends took reasonable precautions (as described) and what happened to them was terrible. We do not mean staying at home all the time or wearing a burka.

    So what is the line of “reasonable precautions” and “it was your fault you were raped”, exactly?

    How can you not see that this kind of wording is troubling and practically gives rapists a way to rationalize and defend their behavior?

    “Well, she didn’t take enough reasonable precautions, so she is partially to blame for me raping her! It wasn’t my fault! It was HER fault! She was asking for it!”

    As I said above, this is exactly how rapists themselves defend and rationalize their own behavior. Exactly.

  29. Risk reduction and having the awareness to avoid circumstances where you may be more likely to be victimized is a reasonable discussion when talking about the crime of rape. This is a different matter altogether than the issue of responsibility and/or blame if the crime of rape occurs. Perpetrators are responsible for their actions independent of risk factors that may be identified with the victim’s decisions prior to the occurrence of the crime. Children are the most vulnerable of victims for sex crimes. That this vulnerability could be in any way construed with the smallest portion of responsibility is beyond comprehension. So if the drunken college girl hanging with strangers is partially responsible then the four year old must logically be just as responsible for getting raped. If you make the argument then stick with it or concede it’s a bad argument.

    And the statistics are very clear and irrefutable. Alcohol and drug use, and lower income are the most common risk factors associated with sexual assault crimes and are parallel corollaries with both the perpetrator and victim.

    And as for why men rape, I’ll pass on what a detective friend of mine use to say; “sometimes shit don’t need a reason to smell”.

  30. @loudlyquiet:

    @Zoltan: Claiming that it is an emotional topic is just saying “well you are a woman you are too emotional to respond rationally”.

    Actually, it was, “I think it’s clear that this resonates with you in a way it will never resonate with me, so I’m trying to be sensitive to that.” But thank you for pre-supposing.

    @Kimbo Jones:

    I think that’s the issue between Zoltan and Marilove’s comments: Zoltan seems to be saying that there are situations that are riskier than others, Marilove seems to be saying that there is inherent risk as long as men don’t shoulder the responsibility for not raping under any circumstance. Some women evaluate their risk very carefully and get raped anyway.

    I think this is a good assessment. And I agree (and I believe I already said), that I’m not talking about all situations. But some are riskier than others. And there seem to be at least one or two other people here who agree with me. Maybe that’s a better question: “Do you believe there are some situations that inherently increase the risk of a woman being raped?”

    I’d also like to point out that I do believe there’s plenty of work to be done on educating men about rape, and preventing men from raping. But that wasn’t the point of the original article – the original article that sparked this debate talked solely about blame being placed on the vicitim, and so that’s what I’m trying to talk about.

  31. @James Fox:

    And as for why men rape, I’ll pass on what a detective friend of mine use to say; “sometimes shit don’t need a reason to smell”.

    No, there are reasons why many men rape, especially in cases of date rape. As catgirl said: “And it’s really frightening to think that any average person you know could commit such a crime, especially against their own friends.”

    There are reasons why men think it is okay to take advantage of women in vulnerable situations. There are reasons why men rationalize their behavior, or deny that what they did is rape (“She was drunk and wearing a miniskirt, I didn’t rape her!”). There are also reasons why men think they have a right to a woman’s body.

    A lot of it is societal, and how we treat women and their sexuality in general. One of the BIG reasons is this insistence that a woman is partially responsible for being raped. This takes the blame off the rapist, and essentially gives them a way to rationalize and defend their behavior.

    It’s a weird thing, isn’t it? Women are raped because men assume they have complete control over our bodies, and yet it is still partly our responsibility for being raped — on one end, we aren’t supposed to have control over our bodies; the men who rape us do, or rather, they think they have control over our bodies, regardless of what we actually want or don’t want. And yet, on the other end, we are expected to control the situation and prevent rape; once the rape occurs, the man is not responsible — it should have been up to us to prevent it.

  32. @marilove, no one has said that ALL cases of rape involve a victim with partial responsibility, only that there are situations where there are measures that could be taken to reduce risk. Responsibility and blame are two different things, too, and I think it’s important that the victim isn’t LEGALLY responsible in any way (no reduction of sentance, no dropped cases based on circumstance). This responsibility can’t be brought up after the fact, either, or it will be misconstrued as blame. Acknowledgement of responsibility should be solely used as a preventative measure.

    “I shouldn’t trust my own boyfriend. I should lock myself up forever, and avoid all contact with men, because I might be raped, even by my own boyfriend!”

    These would be unreasonable precautions.

    “Again, where the fuck does this shit end?”

    When the precautions stop being reasonable.

    I only am arguing this because I think your stance sets more girls up to be victims of rape by not acknowledging the things they can do to help prevent it. I understand that by acknowledging these precautions, we inevitably trigger guilt after the fact (“if only I hadn’t [x] I wouldn’t have gotten raped), but I would never argue for these precautions to be brought up in a “told ya so” kind of way. The victim should be treated as a victim, because no amount of hindsight will help that individual. Analyzing cases as part of the whole, though, can help us decide what reasonable precautions would be.

    I believe in encouraging these reasonable precautions for women while raising men with respect for boundaries. Pretending that rape will ever be eliminated is pure fantasy, and I think we have to raise our daughters to be prepared for the world they do live in, not the world we wished they lived in. I think that’s a compassionately realist stance, but I wouldn’t mind a bit of debate over it.

  33. I just want to point out that in my last comment (#27) that I’m not against taking precautions.

    A friend of mine a year back was in a bar with a group of friends, and a guy -friend- slipped a rape drug in her drink. But her girlfriends were with her and saw her home. Yay for girlfriends!

  34. @Izzy:

    And men too… let’s not forget men are also victim of rape.

    I can’t help but wonder what the survey results would be if they had asked if men who are raped are partially responsible for it. I would imagine the answers would be very different than they were with female victims.

  35. @James Fox:

    I appreciate what you’re saying here…maybe this is a semantic problem – words like “responsibility” “risk” and “blame” might be causing the problem. See my revised statement above, which I suspect you agree with.

    So if the drunken college girl hanging with strangers is partially responsible then the four year old must logically be just as responsible for getting raped.

    But you lost me here…the college girl makes a choice, but the four year-old has no choice about being four. Let me state clearly: child rape is heinous and awful, and *never* involves any choice on the part of the child.

  36. Thanks, but I feel like I’m having a hard time beign coherent. You’re absolutely right about the words ‘responsibility’, ‘risk’ and ‘blame’. There’s definitely an internal struggle between the realist, statistician/scientist and the compassionate humanist in me . I’m trying as well as I can to make it clear that those two things can coexist and that we can acknowledge risk and responsibility without blaming the victim, but it’s a difficult topic.

  37. Jen:
    I suspect if they’d asked
    1)If the rapist was any less responsible in any of those cases or
    2)If the victim was ethically and/or legally partially responsible (as opposed to exhibiting risky behavior) in the scenarios described

    They would have gotten a very different response.

  38. @Zoltan:

    “Do you believe there are some situations that inherently increase the risk of a woman being raped?”

    Not really, because as we’ve said over and over, women get raped all the time, in even the most innocent situations. 11am and walking down the street? You can get raped. with a boyfriend, whom you thought you could trust? He’ll drug you and rape you. At a bar with someone you thought was a friend? He’ll take advantage of you and rape you.

    As catgirl mentioned above, most rapists are not strangers to their victims. (The 11am grab is actually an anomaly, but does highlight the fact that women can be walking home in broad daylight and still be at risk.)

    I am actually much more likely to be raped by someone I know than I am by a stranger.

    In fact, it’s already happened.

    the original article that sparked this debate talked solely about blame being placed on the victim, and so that’s what I’m trying to talk about.

    And this is exactly my point. Why is it that when this subject comes up, we don’t discuss the real problem? The problem being the rapist, and not the victim?

    Instead of saying: “It is not surprising to me that women will blame (women) victims for being raped. Why is this? How can we change this? How can we help change the attitude of men who rape? How can we raise boys who won’t grow up to be rapists?”

    Instead of saying the above, you continue to question what it is victims should do. Instead of saying the above, you claim that sometimes victims are partially responsible for being raped.

    You didn’t ask WHY the blame is being placed on the victim, but instead continued to blame the victim and continued to claim that women are partially responsible for being raped. WHY is that? Why is it that this discussion always lands on what a women should have done? Why is the discussion never about the rapist?

  39. I agree 100% wholeheartedly with Marilove (yeah.. it happens.)

    “And I can still do everything in my power to try to stay safe, and still be raped.”

    No one is saying that women shouldn’t take all the precautions they can to stay safe, but unless you cease interacting with people altogether (and sometimes not even then) you are not going to be 100% safe. Where does that leave rape victims? It leaves them with men making a choice; to rape them or not to rape them.

    End of fucking story.

    There are hundreds (perhaps thousands) of tips to defend yourself if you find yourself in a bad situation or what type of streets to walk down, how many people is sufficient for safety in numbers, what bars are “good” and what bars are “bad”. Fine, great, peachy… but what then?

    You’re talking a crime, and a pretty nasty one at that. The commission of a crime is the responsibility of the criminal. No one else.

  40. @marilove: No one is saying that, though. No one has advocated taking any of the blame off of the rapist in these situations, just acknowledging possible contributing factors that could be minimized with a small amount of effort.

    We can’t throw out our knowledge of statistics and basic common sense because an issue is difficult to talk about. Saying that you can’t prevent 100% of rapes by taking precautions is not a good argument for never taking precautions. By acknowledging that there are precautions to be taken, we inevitably place some responsibility on the victim. This is not to be confused with blame. The issue of how to encourage responsibility without envoking feelings of guilt after the fact is a difficult one, and I can’t say I have all the answers.

  41. marilove. I think the focus is on what role victim behavior plays because that is the topic of the study in question. They asked the question and interpreted the results from that perspective.

    The question wasn’t “Is rape always bad?” or “Are there any mitigating factors that make a rapist less culpable?”. No one is saying either of those things and I doubt we’d even be having this conversation if the whole article wasn’t posed from that direction.

  42. @Zoltan: One is more vulnerable based on age and the other based on decisions made. My point is that neither is responsible if sexually assaulted. I’ve spent 22 years investigating abuse against minors and trust me when I say the children get blamed on a regular basis by people other than the perpetrators.

  43. @mikerattlesnake:

    one has advocated taking any of the blame off of the rapist in these situations

    Yes, yes they are. By saying, “Victims are partially responsible for being raped, you are taking part of that responsibility OFF of the rapist, and putting it squarely on the victim.

    Period.

    just acknowledging possible contributing factors that could be minimized with a small amount of effort.

    MIGHT be minimized. MIGHT.

    And again, no one is saying that there aren’t things a woman can do to help her maybe stay safe. Indeed, I have even said as much. But that does not mean that the women is ever, ever even partially responsible for being raped. Ever.

    @swordsbane: You nailed it on the head. Thank you.

  44. @namidim: And I’m saying that that doesn’t HAVE to be the focus. The focus of the STUDY is that women victim blame as much as men do. That doesn’t mean we have to continue victim blaming! It should have opened us up to a discussion on WHY women victim blame as much as men, and why people in general victim blame. Instead, we are just doing the same thing the women in the study are doing: Blaming victims.

    That gets us nowhere.

  45. @Zoltan: “Do you believe there are some situations that inherently increase the risk of a woman being raped?”

    Some commenters here seem to be assuming that some situations are more likely to lead to rape than others, but I think these are based on stereotypes rather than reality. This statistic from the US shows that women are raped by strangers 2%, in bars 2.2%, and outdoors 3.6% of the time.

    The only situation that increases the likelihood of rape is being with a rapist – and apparently it’s very difficult to evaluate who that will be.

  46. @marilove:

    Yes, yes they are. By saying, “Victims are partially responsible for being raped, you are taking part of that responsibility OFF of the rapist, and putting it squarely on the victim.

    This is the crux of the point. Responsibility isn’t a zero sum game or even particularly well defined in this question. Just because the victim could have taken some measure (whatever that might be) in a particular theoretical case to reduce the risk of being a victim that doesn’t automatically imply the criminal is any less culpable.

    But two people might interpret the work “responsiblity” differently causing them to respond to the same question very differently.

    I’m not saying there aren’t people who feel that way I am saying I don’t think you are talking with them right now and I’m not 100% sure that the survey says what the researchers think it does.

  47. @Kimbo Jones: “The only situation that increases the likelihood of rape is being with a rapist – and apparently it’s very difficult to evaluate who that will be.”

    It sounds like you’re saying: “The only situation that substantially increases the likelihood of a woman being raped is what kind of decisions the man she’s with makes.”

    and guess who has 100% of the responsibility for that?

  48. @namidim: And as namidim has said above, it really doesn’t matter what women do, because no matter how hard we try, we are still fucking raped.

    The only situation that increases the likelihood of rape is being with a rapist – and apparently it’s very difficult to evaluate who that will be.

    She said it perfectly.

  49. @namidim:

    Just because the victim could have taken some measure (whatever that might be) in a particular theoretical case to reduce the risk of being a victim that doesn’t automatically imply the criminal is any less culpable.

    And yes, it does imply the criminal is less cuplable, because it says: “Had she done this, you wouldn’t have raped her! But because she did this, it’s partly her fault, so it’s partially not your fault for raping her.”

    Again, this is the same fucking shit rapists say to rationalize their behavior.

  50. @marilove:
    I don’t disagree, but again I think the direction of the conversation has a lot to do with the way the questions from the study were represented. I wish I could see the actual questions, because it sounds like they asked how people felt about contrived scenarios.

    If the study had divorced the question of what “risky behavior” is relative to what, if anything, reduces the ethical culpability of a rapist I would suspect you’d get a different response.

    I think a substantial number of people may have interpreted the question to mean essentially:
    “Is getting drunk and getting into bed with a stranger a stupid thing to do?” As opposed to “Does getting drunk and getting into bed with a stranger give that stranger permission to perform any sexual act or reduce their culpability for doing so?”

    Now you may disagree on how stupid it is or if it is stupid or how interesting one question is relative to the other. I do think there is a difference on the asshole meter between people who answer yes to both and those who would answer yes to one.

  51. @namidim: I think we need to consider the emotional aspects of making such an analysis of risk/responsibility. What is there to gain vs. the emotional consequences of tormenting the victim? Rapists are 100% in control of whether or not they raped someone, and they could literally be anyone, so discussing what might have been seems pointlessly torturous. Focusing the discussion on the perpetrators reduces the burden on victims.

    PS: Safety can be reasonably taught while placing the responsibility on potential perpetrators not to rape. These are not mutually exclusive.

  52. @Kimbo Jones:
    I’m not defending the phrasing or suggesting that personal safety should be couched in those terms. I’m simply saying that in order to understand the results of the survey we need to understand how people taking the survey interpreted the phrase “partially responsible.”

    It may mean a large number of people do not interpret the language the same way you do or it may mean what is being suggested here which is that a large number of people support the idea that the severity of rape is mitigated by how unwise the victim was to be with the rapist.

    That is an important distinction in both the study and in how you treat other posters.

  53. @Kimbo Jones: To answer my own question, these types of surveys do illustrate some reasons for why victims are so reluctant to come forward, but that’s information we already know. I’d be much more interested in research that somehow evaluates how likely people are to rape and what are the possible causal elements there.

  54. @LtStorm: I was thinking the same thing.

    Men are blamed, too, or even worse, completely ignored (“Men can’t be raped!”).

    But men still rape other men more often than women rape men.

    Also, I’m sure a large percentage of male rape victims are much younger than the average female rape victim; I’d imagine most men who are raped are actually children, not grown men, while females of all ages get raped, and in high numbers.

    (In the end, rape is still rape and it’s disgusting how often men are ignored.)

    @namidim: The word “responsibility” is pretty clear.

    re⋅spon⋅si⋅bil⋅i⋅ty  /rɪˌspɒnsəˈbɪlɪti/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [ri-spon-suh-bil-i-tee] Show IPA
    –noun, plural -ties. 1. the state or fact of being responsible.
    2. an instance of being responsible: The responsibility for this mess is yours!
    3. a particular burden of obligation upon one who is responsible: the responsibilities of authority.
    4. a person or thing for which one is responsible: A child is a responsibility to its parents.
    5. reliability or dependability, esp. in meeting debts or payments.

    —Idiom
    6. on one’s own responsibility, on one’s own initiative or authority: He changed the order on his own responsibility.

    When someone says, “She is partially responsible for being raped” they are saying there are things that she could have done to prevent the rape — or things she shouldn’t have done. And we keep saying that it almost rarely matters what a woman does, because a woman can be raped in almost any situation, and most rapes occur NOT by strangers, but by friends and acquaintances.

    I’m willing to bet most people who say, “There are things she could have/should have done to prevent her from being raped” are under the assumption that most rapists are strangers to the victims, but that is not the case. That is very rarely the case.

  55. @Kimbo Jones:

    I’d be much more interested in research that somehow evaluates how likely people are to rape and what are the possible causal elements there.

    Exactly! We keep rehashing what women can do or should do to help prevent them from being raped, but no one is concentrating on why rape occurs. No one. It’s constantly brought back to the victim.

  56. @marilove:
    And yes, it does imply the criminal is less cuplable, because it says: “Had she done this, you wouldn’t have raped her! But because she did this, it’s partly her fault, so it’s partially not your fault for raping her.”

    Marilove wins the prize this week, imho, for consistently taking stuff out of context and changing around the meaning of what people are saying, all with a hysterical screech and wave of her hands.

    Namidim made it very clear what they were trying to say, and it makes complete sense. Saying that there might be ways to avoid, or lessen the chances, of being raped, does *not* imply that the rapist is not responsible. Sure, there might be potential rapists out there who might use some seriously fucked up reasoning (“She’s not pointing a firearm at me, so she must be asking for it.”) – but that reasoning isn’t valid, and we shouldn’t have to feel like using *normal* reasoning is going to give them an excuse.

  57. @sowellfan:

    Saying that there might be ways to avoid, or lessen the chances, of being raped, does *not* imply that the rapist is not responsible.

    And saying things like: “The victim is partially responsible for being raped is BLAMING THE VICTIM. Please note that I am taking issue with the wording, and I’ve said, A SEVERAL times, that of course there are certain things a woman can do to MAYBE lessen the risk, but even if she doesn’t, or can’t, for whatever reason, that doesn’t mean she is still responsible, even partially, for being raped. Saying that a woman is partially responsible for being raped is taking some of the responsibility and blame off the rapist, and putting it right back on the victim. The rapist is always, ALWAYS 100% responsible for raping.

    And once again, no matter how hard women try, they still get raped. Generally by people they know. Placing the blame on the victim, even partially, does not take care of the fucking problem, which is that rapists are raping.

    all with a hysterical screech and wave of her hands.

    “Shush, woman! Stop being so hysterical!” *eye fucking roll*

    Yay for calling women with strong opinions hysterical!!

  58. Rereading the post, I think it was just you who got called hysterical. Many other women replied with similar opinions and were not called out. They also didn’t use exaggerated, insulting terms to describe people they’re debating with Perhaps it’s not a sexist thing so much as a spade-a-spade thing…

    Your question “why doesn’t anyone ask what we can do to stop men from raping” is both disingenuous (people are making suggestions, but most people who would end up on this blog already plan on doing all they can not to raise a rapist and beyond that most of us probably don’t have much to suggest) and founded on a faulty unspoken major premise (Rape can be eliminated entirely if we just did [x]). Some of us see the problems with that premise, acknowledge the danger, and see that, in the small number of preventable cases, the victim has some responsibility in mitigating her risk.

    That said, I think most people agree with your stance about 99% . I think that the ‘responsibility’ only exists on the larger, societal level. It is our responsibility as a society to understand the preventable risks and take measures to minimize them (as well as it is our duty to understand and prevent rapists). On the individual level, we owe it to women to teach them those survival skills even if we would rather that they never have to use them. That, though, is where the responsibility ends.

    The issue of responsibility should never be brought up to a rape victim, and it should definitely never enter the legal procedings. I don’t think any of us would agree with the statement in the poll.

  59. @marilove:
    You can’t tell people what they mean by something just because that how you are determined to take it. The point isn’t how you interpret “partial responsibility”. The point is how the response to a question was intended by the people in the study.

    Just based on the discussion here clearly there is more than one way of looking at it which does not intend to imply that the rapist is less responsible for rape or that the victim should be punished or shamed in any way. It may be insensitive to how you would interpret the phrase, but that isn’t specifically relevant to the claims being made about the study.

    Also, If this was a thread discussing an article on educating men about what date rape is we wouldn’t be having this discussion, but it wasn’t. Accusing people of being misogynistic for responding to the slant of topic post is not particularly fair.

    Finally, when you respond to every comment in Italics and CAPS telling people that they don’t know what they meant by what they just said, it does not present your argument in a way that promotes positive change, assuming that is what you’re trying to accomplish.

  60. and again, I would imagine most of us agree with you mostly. I have a problem with the kind of absolutes you use because they don’t stand up to rational scrutiny. I’m sorry for the situations you and your friends and anyone else has been in, but it shouldn’t make it impossible to talk about.

    Do you disagree with the statement about responsibility not being a zero-sum game made above? I would bring up the issue of murder again. If I am not taking reasonable precautions in a lousy neigborhood with a history of violent crime and I get murdered, the murderer is entirely to blame for my death and yet I also had a responsibility (which I shirked) to take preventative measures. It doesn’t all have to add up to 100%.

  61. Also, If this was a thread discussing an article on educating men about what date rape is we wouldn’t be having this discussion, but it wasn’t.

    And my point was that IT NEVER IS! EVER.

    Why does a discussion thread about this study have to automatically be about what women should do to maybe, maybe keep themselves safer? The study was about how women react to rape, and that reaction being that they victimb lame as often as men do.

    Why not, instead, take the fucking opportunity to discuss the actual problem: Rapists. Why not use this as a chance to actually talk about the problem, instead of yet again discussing what steps the VICTIM could have done.

    But that never happens, and it never will, as long as, whenever we talk about rape, we talk about what women could or should have done to prevent it.

    That’s what it always comes down to, and even when we try to steer the conversation the other way, it’s ignored, and you people have to continue to blather on about what women can do to keep themselves from getting raped.

    Not once has anyone discussed what we can do as a society to help curb rape, even when I TRIED to move the discussion in that direction. It was ignored in favor of blaming the victim, and putting “partial” responsibility on the victim..

    I’m done with this thread. I’m done discussing rape with victim blamers and rape apologists.

    And yes, if you say, “She was partially responsible for the rape” you are both a rape apologist and victim blamer.

  62. @mikerattlesnake: There’s some apples and oranges going on here, I think.

    Some commenters are focusing on questionable examples to illustrate the point that sometimes responsibility may be shared. Other commenters are speaking to the general trend of most rape – that is, that rapists are someone you know. And I think the resulting disconnect (2% of cases vs. the majority of cases) is leading to some animosity and strawmen.

    I think the main point of the latter is that even if the former were true, there’s almost no way to evaluate risk effectively, so the distinction is pointless. In most rape cases (as statistics show), there was almost nothing the victim could do (other than, perhaps arguably, stay sober – though that is an associated variable, not necessarily a causal one).

  63. http://www.feministing.com/archives/004756.html

    –Two people — women — responded to this. It was otherwise ignored, while talk about how women should shoulder some of the blame and responsibility for being raped kept on going.

    And women in burqas STILL get raped. And then acid thrown on their faces after they are raped.

    IGNORED, while talk about how women should shoulder some of the blame and responsibility for being raped kept on going.

    That’s not to say that it’s smart to put yourself at risk, but taking a risk doesn’t equal inviting rape and thereby having responsibility for it.

    IGNORED, while talk about how women should shoulder some of the blame and responsibility for being raped kept on going.

    My points on how, whenever the discussion of rape comes up, it autmatically becomes a discussion on what the victim could have been done has been IGNORED, while talk about how women should shoulder some of the blame and responsibility for being raped kept on going.

    By saying the victim is partially responsible, you are using the exact same rationalizations that the rapist uses for himself and his actions. You are confirming his rationalizations. You are telling him that it was okay that he raped her, because it is partially her fault for being vulnerable.

    IGNORED, while talk about how women should shoulder some of the blame and responsibility for being raped kept on going.

    I think what Marilove is pointing out, among other things, is that we should also be telling young men that rape shouldn’t happen to treat the problem rather than only the symptom.

    IGNORED, while talk about how women should shoulder some of the blame and responsibility for being raped kept on going.

    Nearly every women I know who has been raped has been raped by someone they know, or in a situation where they should have been safe.

    IGNORED, while talk about how women should shoulder some of the blame and responsibility for being raped kept on going.

    This statistic from the US shows that women are raped by strangers 2%, in bars 2.2%, and outdoors 3.6% of the time.

    The only situation that increases the likelihood of rape is being with a rapist – and apparently it’s very difficult to evaluate who that will be.

    IGNORED, while talk about how women should shoulder some of the blame and responsibility for being raped kept on going.

    What about the RAPIST? You know, the one actually doing the fucking raping?

  64. @Kimbo Jones: Oops, phrasing ambiguity there: “In most rape cases (as statistics show), there was almost nothing the victim could do”

    I’m not implying that a woman could have done something to prevent her rape if only X. What I meant to say was that in most cases there was no way to anticipate it because it was perpetrated by someone they trusted; in far fewer cases, it’s a stranger. So these “rough neighbourhood” etc. examples are stereotypical, inaccurate, and pretty much miss the point of what the “other side” is saying.

  65. Then move it in that direction. Enlighten us. Beyond raising good kids and providing comprehensive sex education that teaches boys about consent and shows them the results of breach of that consent while fighting for less objectification of women in popular culture, I’m not sure what we can do. As individuals, those are pretty daunting tasks (except the first one, maybe), while giving a few tips to girls is easy. While it would be great to be able to solve the problem of rapists, is it so bad to do what we can on both fronts? You said yourself you would teach a daughter preventative measures, is that not imparting some form of responsibility? Do you not then expect her to heed your advice?

  66. @Kimbo Jones: I really want to highlight this, because you’ve said it before, and it still gets ignored:

    I think the main point of the latter is that even if the former were true, there’s almost no way to evaluate risk effectively, so the distinction is pointless. In most rape cases (as statistics show), there was almost nothing the victim could do (other than, perhaps arguably, stay sober – though that is an associated variable, not necessarily a causal one).

  67. @mikerattlesnake:

    Then move it in that direction. Enlighten us.

    Oh, you mean like when we mention statistics and facts, and when I try to move the conversation in that direction, I’m told that the article isn’t about putting the blame on the rapist, but instead about victim blaming, so that’s why you guys keep blaming the victim? You mean like that?

    giving a few tips to girls is easy

    It’s much easier to put the responsibility of rape on the victims, but it does fuck all to address the problem.

  68. and I think that’s where the contention lies. I would agree the vast majority of rapes are not preventable or predictable. That does not mean that no cases of rape are preventable or predictable, therefore there is a small amount of responsibility in certain cases to lessen that risk. That's all I've been arguing against, the absoluteness of your statements.

  69. @mikerattlesnake: All rapists made a choice to rape. All rapists have the ability to choose not to rape. All rapists have the ability to prevent raping BY NOT RAPING.

    The amount of rapes that might — *might* — be preventable by the victim are few and far between and yet, every discussion about rape is DOMINATED about how victims can keep themselves from getting raped.**

    Every
    Single
    Conversation
    About
    Rape

    Turns into “what could the victim have done?!”

    EVERY SINGLE ONE.

    I have never, in all my life, had a discussion about rape that hasn’t turned it into what the victim could have done, while ignoring the rapist.

    The two examples I mentioned above were in what everyone agrees are safe situations, yet they were still raped, and they are still blamed, sometimes by their own boyfriends.

    Just once, JUST ONCE, I’d like to discuss rape without having to discuss what the victim could have or should have done. Just once. But it is never going to happen, is it?

    **And you know, I don’t like this wording at all. All rape is preventable: By the rapist. There are situations in which women might put themselves at greater risk, but that’s not the same as being able to prevent themselves from being raped, since women are raped in “safe” situations all the time, and rarely by strangers.

    Rape is always, always preventable by rapists. Sometimes, but not always and hardly the majority of the time, women can take steps to make themselves safer — maybe. But that’s it.

  70. @marilove: It would have made more sense to say: “There are situations in which women might be able to lessen the risk.”

    And I want to emphasize the word MIGHT.

    Because the most prominent factor in every rape is the rapist. And you can’t always determine who is going to rape you.

  71. @sowellfan: That’s hard to answer effectively without knowing what leads people to rape. But the first step IMHO is to teach, during those sex talks, that rape is never ok and, most importantly, to clearly define what could constitute rape. I think one problem is that people have in their minds the image of the “rapist” archetype – and “I’d never do that” – whereas rape can be far more insidious than that. They can also be taught to report rapists and support victims.

  72. I almost never bring this up but i am here because i think it gets to what i feel is the biggest consequence of this sort of partial blame mentality. I spent all of graduate school, even when drinking hanging out with other “safe” people in “safe” bars or even just at our own houses making the “safe” choices and i was raped by a classmate. I had had this whole “partial blame” idea in my head for so long it took me well over a year to admit i was raped, because i was really drunk and i did this to myself. It didn’t matter that i said no clearly or that he was sober. I lived with guilt and disgust at myself for letting this happen and never took any actions against what happened because i was too ashamed of myself. With years on this experience and some perspective i realize that i did nothing wrong, but i lived with that pain for a year before i’d even admit what happened to me was rape. That’s why this mentality is dangerous and why it should be off the intellectual table.

  73. @Kimbo Jones: Also there’s clarifying rape myths. Rape myths themselves perpetrate rape because they don’t get to the root cause. People get the message “rape is bad” in health class or whatever, and people still rape. So something appears to be missing there. What are the root causes and how can we eliminate them?

    A great research question – has anyone answered it? I did find this review that rape myths are more accepted by men, especially those prone to sexism.

  74. @LtStorm: Here’s an example, or this, and this…among other things.

    Basically anything that refers to an assumed falsehood about rape (the act, the victims, and/or the perpetrators).

    Edit: Note that these links are just examples – some of the language from some links refers specifically to life-threatening rape with general language, even though that is only one kind of rape.

  75. @LtStorm: Um…noooo, didn’t say that. People believe falsehoods for various reasons, some relatively innocent. Shame about previous beliefs does no one any good – trying to correct the potentially harmful error and prevent it from spreading, does.

  76. All I have to say after reading this infuriating argument (for what seems like the 7,518,469,567th time since I started reading feminist blogs) is: Go marilove! And sowellfan: Hysterical? You want to call a woman you’re arguing with hysterical? Wow.

  77. @Kimbo Jones: “Rape myths themselves perpetrate rape because they don’t get to the root cause.”
    This might be my favorite post of the day. It’s a great summary of the debate that seems to have gone on all day. When we focus on how to prevent rape by walking in pairs or abstaining from alcohol, we perpetuate the myth that rape happens at the hand of a stranger in a dark alley. That’s not to say that I don’t follow the girls’ handbook safety protocol- I do. But it also protects me from the armed robbers in my neighborhood.

  78. @davew: I do agree with your concern about those sources. My intent was to provide an example of what rape myths are, but I encourage everyone to verify the specific information independently, of course.

    Hmm…on an unrelated note, it’s interesting that the only thing listed under “prevention” in the Medline Plus article about rape is “self defense”…

  79. Ok. to the “only the Rapist is responsible crowd”: I have a couple of real life questions for you all….
    I have not responded to this post maybe cause I an not as smart as some (most) of you. I love skepchick ’cause of all the intelligence… but I search for intelligence I just may not of grasped it yet! :)

    BTW> I AM MALE>>>

    My situation.. when I was young my father was molesting a foster sister that lived with us (she was about 16) she in turn molested me. ( I was about 8) .My mother knew about both situations….

    Do you think my Father and Mother as well as my foster Sister were ALL PARTIALLY RESPONSIBLE for my molestation??

  80. I swear, ever since ‘the woman tempted me’, a great many people – male and female alike – have always blamed the victim, as if men had no freewill or self-control. Couple that with a male sense of entitlement, a still pervasive madonna/whore stereotype, and a head-in-the-sand ‘that could never be me!’ attitude and one gets the results of that study.

    But hey – based on the essential premise that men cannot fail to give into temptation, real or imagined, there is a solution: It’s easy to prevent rape.

    We just lock up all the men.

    My local hospital no longer lets discharged female patients leave by taxi without someone to accompany them. Why? Because the fucking taxi drivers were raping them.

    IMNSHO, part of the problem in addressing the question of rape with young women is that some caveats are seen as victim-blaming. Girls are frequently painted a picture of rapists as drooling strangers, rather than given realistic portraits of risk. They’re trained to trust someone they “know” even casually. It is not “victim-blaming” to advise one’s daughters that no situation is inherently “safe”. But it is grossly bad parenting not to get it through the heads of one’s sons that “no” does not mean ‘do whatever you want and we’ll make excuses for you in the morning’.

  81. ok, so there’s a lot of “women should do things to reduce their chance of getting rape” in this thread but until we change the social systems existing presently, it is simply a case of just running a little faster than the person next to you to escape the bear, rather than stopping the bear in the first place and protecting EVERYBODY. Rapists will rationalize their decision to rape, and will seek out vulnerability to find a victim. There are many women and girls vulnerable who cannot POSSIBLY reduce their own vulnerability, their young age, mental or physical disability, being born in a marginalized racial minority, being born in a poor and “bad” neighborhood and being subject to domestic violence, etc. All the advice in this thread to “women” is ONLY possibly protecting a privileged woman by throwing a more marginalized one to the wolves, because rapists will rape until they are stopped. Furthermore, by coming up with stupid “reasons” how privileged women can avoid rape, we can start questioning why ANY rape victim got raped because, she didn’t follow those reasons! It is a very, very bad response to the problem. You have to be sure that your “anti-rape” advice *really* reduces rape, rather than simply changing who’s the one being raped to someone who has even LESS of a voice in society.

    Coming up with lists of how to run slightly faster than your friend to escape the bear will ALWAYS displace attention and energy from stopping the bear, and we should *STOP* doing it.

  82. @justv26: “but can we ever stop the bear!? Can we really ever stop rape? ”

    Doesn’t matter. We should never stop trying. Keep taking out the trash and you’ll still have trash tomorrow. Stop taking out the trash and your house fills up with garbage.

    You can protect the victims, give them all the tools they can make use of, even concealed weapons, tell them to stay in groups, don’t go near strangers, etc… and statistically you haven’t changed reduced their chances of being raped by all that much.

    For that you have to stop the rapists.

  83. Interesting – other cultures do seem to have fewer rapes per 100,000 according to that Wikipedia article.
    South Africa was highest – by far, but the next two countries were Canada and the United States.
    Saudi Arabia had the fewest – although, that may not be a culture I would personally choose to live in.
    Japan scored quite well. I think I’d personally go for Portugal or Italy, which also had comparatively low numbers of rapes per 100,000.
    Or are the numbers skewed because people don’t want to report rape in macho cultures?

  84. While the anti-absolutist in me rebels at words like “never”, I can’t really think of a situation where the victim is partly responsible for rape.

    The closest I can come is in statutory rape if the under age party lies about their age, leading the older party to believe in good faith that they were having sex legally. If the under age party then clearly gave consent, I would have to say the balance of blame isn’t 100% on the older party.

    But that’s not really the same thing as rape as its being discussed here. As far as straightforward rape goes, each party is responsible for their actions, but blame only attaches if you do something you don’t have a right to do. The victims don’t do anything that they don’t have every right to do (even the “risky” ones, people have a right to go to clubs alone and dress how they wish) which makes them blameless. The rapist is the one that violates another person’s rights and that makes it their fault.

    For the victim to be partly to blame they would have to suborn the rape in some way, and that’s pretty much impossible given the definition of rape precludes the consent of the victim.

    I’m not fond of absolutes, but perhaps rape is just one of those few cases where absolutes are appropriate.

  85. I’m with James K here.

    There is most certainly an absolute line, where consent has been denied or is unable to be given due to incapacitation, that the rapist must cross.

    No amount of poor decision-making or bad risk management on the part of the female (or male) makes that go away. As has been mentioned, in most rapes this isn’t even a precursor to the situation.

    The rapist must, in true sociopathic fashion, put the will and dignity of the victim as well as the law behind his desire to take something that he wants. This isn’t analagous to theft or crime of any other sort.

    It is total and complete domination of another person.

    I think we as a society have our hands full when trying to eliminate such a primal and violent response from the most sociopathic and disgusting amongst us, especially when it’s practically given the ‘thumbs up’ in the Bible.

    Better education and cooperation with law enforcement agencies would be a start, as would stiffer penalties for the act itself.

  86. @Kimbo Jones: Oh yes, I agree, and sorry if I wasn’t clear.

    As someone who was raped by a boyfriend, I absolutely understand that it happens all the time in a situation where there’s a completely reasonable expectation of safety.

    What I meant is that, when possible, it’s wise for anyone to avoid any risk of any awful thing happening to them, but to contradict that that has anything to do with whether or not it’s acceptable to ever assign even a hint of blame on a victim. In other words, the issue of behaving in a presumed “safe” manner needs to be entirely divorced from the concept of guilt, precisely because, as you and others have said, the problem is with the rapists, not the victims.

    I’ve done a Take Back the Night march and that was all well and good, but really, it’s pointless until the rapists themselves are stopped, bred out of the population, taught from a younger age to not be assholes, or whatever it is that needs to happen on *their* end.

    And it’s a bummer, because even if 99% of us raised our sons to find the entire concept of rape abhorrent, the remaining 1% leave enough room for more rapists to grow.

    BTW, I do think that our society has a sick fetish with prison rape as being a legitimate part of punishment of criminals, and I’m entirely certain that that attitude does not help at all. I’m not saying that someone raped in prison necessarily turns into a rapist themselves (although I’m sure it happens at least some of the time), but more that if society can point to an infamous criminal and say, “Ha ha, he’s gonna be someone’s bitch in the slammer!” then that’s a pretty sad indicator of how we still view sexual violence as acceptable in certain situations, and therefore it’s no wonder why any other kind of rape isn’t taken as seriously as it ought to be.

    eta Today I was on a multiplayer game where someone referred to beating another player as, “I’m really raping this guy!” and got all huffy when I tried to illustrate to him how inappropriate that language was. I gave up after awhile. *sigh*

  87. @Zoltan: “A question: if I leave my brand new Ferrari parked in a known high-crime part of town, with the doors unlocked and the keys in the ignition, would you say I’m partly responsible for it being stolen?”

    No. People shouldn’t touch things that don’t belong to them.

    And it is a very poor analogy.

  88. @Zoltan: “Um, no. It was, “I appreciate that this resonates with you personally in a way it will likely never resonate with me, so I’m trying to be sensitive to that.” But I thank you for presupposing.”

    Why the hell doesn’t it resonate with you as strongly? All of the women in your life are affected by it.

  89. Bah, I don’t think I’ve ever disagreed on an actual point made by Marilove, but honestly, you do way more to discourage people from having any real, useful conversation and turn it simply into a “you’re either with me exactly as I define it, or you’re the most evil person in the world.”

    Seriously, take the time to define what you mean by words like “responsbility.” Words mean different things to different people. Jumping down people’s throats before you know what they mean is really childish, and then playing the sexism card when they say suggest you’re being a bit over the top is counterproductive. Saying women are always hysterical and emotional is sexist; saying that women (or men) cannot ever be too hysterical or emotional is to deny being human.

    I feel like if you’d just started having a conversation about why people commit rape, then you would have gotten the productive conversation you wanted.

  90. There have been too many good posts in this thread since my last one to address them all. James K really nailed it on the head, and I think framed my argument in better terms (though we may seem partially opposed, that’s probably my fault for not being articulate enough) that also align well with the spirit, if not the level of vitriol, in Marilove’s post.

    In short: any responsibility/knowledge imparted before the fact has nothing to do with responsibility after the fact because the victim didn’t break any laws or hurt anyone through her actions, and she did nothing morally wrong. I think most of the difficulty of expressing this opinion comes from the meanings attached to those words and I really don’t want people to think I am in the same camp as the “well, she was asking for it” crowd. If using the terms as I have still fosters guilt in victims, then it’s probably best to drop it, but I think that these arguments are being a bit misrepresented by the other side and being lumped in with a whole other category of opinions which I find detestable.

  91. Or we could start a productive conversation about it now.
    Why do you think people commit rape? What would motivate a person to commit this particular crime?
    And are there ways to mitigate or eliminate these motivations?

  92. @sporefrog: Now that this thread seems to have calmed down, let me say that I agree completely with Sporefrog. This thread has been fascinating to watch develop, and has seriously changed the way I view the topic of rape. I want to thank the people who have taken the time and effort to calmly restate and expand upon Marilove’s angry, overwrought tirades. Like Sporefrog, I think I agree on every actual point she made, but that only came about due to the well argued efforts of other people. Her tendency to instantaneously “go nuclear” whenever this subject is raised is entirely unhelpful. She has every right to have strong opinions on this subject, and to state them, but if she ever expects to have the impact that (for example) Kimbo Jones has on this subject, then she needs to turn off the bold capslock and try switching to decaf.

    As the father of two daughters, I am grateful to everyone (yes, even Marilove ;) ) for opening my eyes on this subject. Prior to this, I would have to admit that I fell under the category of “shared responsibility”. I can now see that I was entirely wrong about that. I can see now why that is completely the wrong way to look at rape.

    I can’t think of a better demonstration of why I come to this site on a daily basis. It gives me the opportunity to learn new things and to constantly reevaluate the things I think I already know. Kudos to you all!

  93. *sigh* A lot of bad argumentation in this thread. We’re supposed to be logical and skeptical people. Too many arguments filled with personal anecdotes. Too many posts where you just repeat what you said again and again as if that at all makes your point correct. Too many people supposing what someone said wasn’t what they meant and then changing what they said to mean something far more sinister. And what pisses me off more is that much of this came from the side I agree with.

    Oh and if you’re going to make claims about statistics or any other facts, it really should be a requirement that a source is provided, otherwise it’s meaningless.

  94. The question on what we could do to try reducing the incidents of rape was brought up a few times on this thread and though I don’t have a definite answer on the question, I thought I’d tip the hat to an initiative taken by Spike TV.

    As some of you may know, Spike TV is a men’s channel. I watch it because there is a lot of SCI and Star Trek being aired on that channel.

    I haven’t watched it in a while (I hardly watch TV anymore) but I remember an initiative Spike TV took once to increase awareness towards violence done to women. I thought it was a brilliant idea! An initiative taken by men to increase awareness in men regarding an issue that affects women. Tip of the hat for Spike on that front.

    I think men need to take more initiatives of the sort.

  95. For anyone who’s interested, the Canadian show Degrassi The Next Generation dealt with rape in season 7 of their show. A young girl is drugged and raped at a party, losing her virginity in the process. Here’s a link to the first episode of the season (the start of that storyline). The rest of season 7 is available on the same website – btw, not sure if it works outside of Canada, sorry – and several episodes deal with the reactions of her and those around her.

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