There is a spirited conversation going on in the comment threads of a recent post, wherein someone has decided to contribute the oh-so-underrepresented point that victims of assault should have taken better care to avoid the assault. It’s far from a novel point, it’s far from an accurate point, it’s far from a useful point; sadly, it’s not a far from popular point. It is therefore quite serendipitous that my lunch-time reading (which should have been lunchtime blogging) included this excellent piece by Erika Nicole Kendall (Trigger warning for descriptions of abuse and sexual assault):
People far more eloquent than myself have commented on the foolishness of telling victims (and potential victims) that they have some culpability in their ability to be victimized. I’d be a fool to re-mow that neatly manicured lawn.
However, I think we need to fully understand what the world looks like in a space where it is acceptable to tell people that they can protect themselves from being raped. It’s easy to talk about the immediate consequences of a society that thinks that women invite attack by “dressing like sluts” or by “drinking too much” (and yes, I am saying “women” on purpose, despite the story above) and how wrong-headed that thinking is, but what does the world look like when you are told to live in constant fear of being victimized?
You know what it looks like? It looks like young girls, suffering from the advances of grown men who should know and be encouraged to do better, who carry their books across their chest because their breasts attract too much attention. It looks like Mothers of young girls, buying their pre-teen and teenaged daughters giant sweaters to wear to try to hide their breasts, because they “know the boys will stare.” And, right now, as someone says, “Of course they will stare!” I have to wonder – do we even bother to tell our boys (and, hell, grown men, too) how wrong that is? That no, it is not simply “hormones” and “natural urges” to gawk at and objectify a young girl because she’s got a large rack?
There is a strong psychological drive, related to the just world fallacy, that causes us to assume that if something bad happens to someone, they must have done something to deserve it. After all, if the world is a fair place, it therefore follows that a bad thing must have been caused by some character or behavioural fault on the part of the “so-called victim”. As long as I don’t do that thing (going out in revealing clothing, walking down a dark alley, having a man in your home, existing on the internet), it won’t happen to me, right? All we need to do is teach girls not to act like X and then all will be well in our fair world.
Yeah, intellectually speaking we all know that’s bullshit, but at the subconscious level we’ve all got that idiotic low-cognition voice screaming nonsense in our ears. And that’s what rape culture is – the collective acquiescence to millions of screaming voices rather than challenging the “common sense” of behaving “properly” so as to avoid rape.
There are always people who see this as man-shaming or man-blaming. Erika has something for them too:
A victim blaming world looks like a place where men can be victimized, and because we’re so used to women being the victim… we don’t know what the hell to do with male victims. Do we… tell him it was his fault? Do we… give him the screw face and tell him he should’ve gone home? Do we… question his manhood for being overpowered by a woman? (Remember, we tell men don’t hit women.) Or do we high five him and tell him “Dude, old chicks are the BEST first time! I had one my first time, too!” And, do they never understand that this, too, counts as rape?
I’ve said a number of times before that anyone who thinks that men can’t control their sexual urges is someone who hates men far more than any feminist is purported to do. This narrative that assumes that men are just going to rape and that it’s up to women to protect themselves – it’s shockingly (and I apologize for using the term) misandric. It says that men are debased animals who are so lust-blinded that they should not be held responsible for their actions, and it’s up to women to police the sex drives of men. It suggests that men are all constantly ravenous for sex and will do anything to get it unless they are held at bay by conservative clothing and a demure attitude. It then turns around and punishes and belittles women for being “too” conservative and “too” demure.
The feminist critique of rape culture says the opposite. It says that the proper focus of rape prevention is telling men who rape that they are the problem, and telling men who do not rape that we can be part of the solution by making it clear that we do not approve of behaviours that demean women. The feminist critique goes further and says that we must attack the root of the problem – toxic masculinity and other destructive gender assumptions. Far from the “boys will be boys” narrative of popular (rape) culture, feminism says that men can join women in working actively to stop rape, regardless of who the victim is.
There is also a large component of Erika’s post that speaks to peculiarities of how rape culture manifests itself to black women and black men. I strongly suggest you read the whole thing, and keep it in a drawer for the next Edward Gemmer who crosses your path.
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Well excuse me if I don’t raise my black daughters to believe they are helpless little snowflakes that are totally dependent on men. Sorry dude.
You are indeed the sorriest of dudes.
Shorter Gemmer: LA LA LA CAN’T HEAR YOU!
Very typical of victim blamers to refuse to listen to victims.
I’ve worked in the criminal justice system for ten years. I’ve represented victims, offenders, their parents, and I’ve prosecuted and defended cases. I’ve been the guardian of children who have been horrifically, horrifically abused. So when you tell me I don’t listen to victims, excuse me if I smirk a little.
I certainly understand the ideas behind a prohibition against “victim blaming,” There’s a harsh history of holding victim’s responsible for what others do to them. This is not just and should be avoided in any fair system. However, what I am talking about is empowering women to be more vocal and more confident and more able in their decisions and desires. People who have no belief that they can control their future or outcomes often have high rates of depression, risky choices, and suicide. Yet, when we talk about empowering women to control their own futures, society tells me I’m blaming the victim. Pardon my French, but fuck society. I’m not going to believe that women have to be victims by the sin of being born.
The point? It’s over there. You missed it. By a mile.
Edward Gemmer, what are the specific problems that you have with the above article? And what, specifically, do you think counts as “empowering women to control their own futures?” I’m looking for details, examples, and in general an explicit account of what you think is wrong and what you think we should be doing to fix it. Because the posts of yours that I’ve read have been pretty vague (example from this post: “empowering women to control their own futures”). What exactly do you think we should be shooting for that we aren’t shooting for now?
No need for women to be victims, I agree. But if you think women can cease to be victims just by deciding not to be, you really haven’t been paying attention to the discussion about how rape is committed, reported, charged, prosecuted, and publicized. If half the population could change how the OTHER half behaves, we’d have eliminated rape already.
Edward you are so clearly painting a false dichotomy it would be infuriating if it wasn’t so obvious.
Nobody is saying that self-empowerment is bad. Not one person has suggested that in this thread or anywhere else. It’s one thing to say “Here are the signs of an abusive relationship” or “You should expect a relationship with someone who will treat you as an equal, etc.”
If one is a parent it is not, I think, unreasonable to say to one’s child “Be careful with alcohol, there are monsters out there who will assault you if they think you are vulnerable. But if they do, it’s not your fault at all and I will support you however I can.” (I say parent but certain other relationships could work. I can imagine telling my sisters as much if I thought they didn’t know the modus operandi of some rapists, say.) But this is also very dangerous territory, and I would advise heavily against saying something like that to a stranger or someone you aren’t very close to because this is a hard thing to navigate and it is best to err on the side of not being an ass. Because there is a huge difference between saying that this is something to be wary of, and a reason to worry in the current imperfect world, and something that you should feel responsibility for. These are radically different things.
If I go into the most rabidly “Sovereign Citizen” parts of Idaho, and start rallying for gay rights and gun control, it is not unlikely someone will eventually punch me in the face, if not worse. Someone telling me that this is a risk is one thing. But saying that it would therefore be my fault is absurd. I have every right to my free speech anywhere in the United States. Similarly women have the right to wear what they want, drink if they want and how much they want, flirt with whom they want, and exist however they want. It isn’t their responsibility if someone rapes them.
And what you are(or were in the other thread) talking about, Edward, far too much resembles blame more than any actual empowerment or understanding. You may not think it does, but it’s the way you speak about these things. You say that “some victims are less responsible than others” which is absurd and wrong. You distract from this by bringing up points like “we need to be concerned for the victim”(seriously do you think we aren’t) You conflate holding the offender solely responsible with not trying to provide supportive services to victims. These are not the same thing at all. A victim working with a therapist to find ways to overcome the trauma of an attack, to see how she is not responsible, and to feel stronger and happier is a good thing, I think. To suggest that therefore I have to put some blame on the victims is absurd.
Also, this came up in the last thread, but I want to bring it up here because it was so disgusting. When someone claimed that a rapist is ipso facto a bad person, you disagreed bringing up a 13 year old boy having sex with a 12 year old girl under some legal definition. The reason I find this so disgusting is that, assuming that the people in question were capable of consent, you must recognize that nearly none of us would hold that to be rape, regardless of its legal status. (In the same way abortions are illegal in Ireland, but I don’t hold it to be a crime in any moral sense if a woman has one there.) That attempt to avoid making the claim that rapists are bad people is in such bad faith that I find it hard to think you don’t see that.
You might want to do some utilitarian business claiming that rapists are still people and we shouldn’t hurt them for the sake of hurting them. I imagine you will find many of us here agree(I am a consequentialist myself). I bring this up because it is the most generous possible way I can interpret you, and I am generous to a fault. But it is irrelevant. Rapists are bad people because they act in ways that cause serious harm to others. They ought to be punished for the same reasons we punish theft, but moreso.
Which brings me to a final point: You claim focusing on the perpetrators causes us to ignore the victims. Despite how obviously wrong and fraudulant that claim is, I am going to hypothetically accept it. Because even if it means that we here completely ignore helping victims or empowering women(we don’t), and even if it means that our entire philosophy is “hurt the rapists because they are evil and deserve only pain”(I don’t, and I imagine nearly no one does here), even if that’s true punishing rapists still has one effect: it takes them off the god damned streets. It takes them out of our schools, our bars, and our homes. Because most rapists are multiple rapists, it means that there are that many fewer people being raped. And it means that with fewer rapists (by isolation and deterence), women have less reason to be afraid. And then women would be empowered in fact because they wouldn’t have to worry about the things cited in this article, they wouldn’t have to feel ashamed of their bodies and hide it. They wouldn’t feel they should never drink, they wouldn’t have to feel afraid of walking at night, or even of going on dates. They would be empowered to live their own lives. And all this without making one victim feel like shit by blaming her for being attacked.
So, honestly, I can’t tell if you are arguing in bad faith and are a rape apologist, or if you are arguing in good faith and are just incapable of reading nuance and good will into what you read from others.
I totally agree. Especially because I have two daughters, I’m all for ideas on reducing rape. However, if you take “educating women” out of the equation, you are taking out a tool that probably works, all because you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. There are other tools, I agree, but and educating young men is critical. But there seems to be a thought that if you educate women, you can’t educate men, and vice versa. Educate everyone, I say.
Why, then, do you insist on making every single conversation about what women can do to not be raped?
Do you think we don’t know what rape is? Do you think that none of us have been raped? Do you think that those of us who have been raped aren’t already rehashing the situation over and over and over thinking “well, if I’d just done this or that maybe I wouldn’t have been raped”?
The vast majority of rape conversations have been about how to not be raped. If you want to talk about how to not be raped, go to one of those conversations. Quit trying to make conversations about how to stop men from raping into just another round of how can womenz keep themselves from being raped.
You are such a toad.
1) Educating women on what, specifically?
2) Probably works?
Edward Gemmer, I wrote you a post (#6) that went into moderation and is now out.
1. Specific problems with the article: I don’t have any major problems, except for one. There is a list of things that are legitimately problematic, but it is implied that “victim-blaming” is actually the cause of the problem. It also seems to say that you can only choose one of two paths, blame the victim, or have the rapist face responsibility. This isn’t accurate. There are a huge variety of options in reducing sexual violence, and we shouldn’t discard some of them simply because they could be construed as blaming the victim.
2. How to empower women? This is a great question, and a difficult one for me, because I am not a woman. When we are talking crimes, domestic violence and sexual violence are the two areas where women are by and large the victims. It feels to me like we do a very poor job in addressing sex with young people. While we spend huge amounts of time and money on the history of white people, we don’t spend much time or money explaining to preteens and teenagers what goes on and what life is about. Sex is a pretty important part of life, but we let kids figure this stuff out for themselves without much guidance at all.
But guidance, IMO, can be valuable. Women aren’t typically thought of to want to experiment with sex, but they do, and should have every right to experiment at a rate they are comfortable with. Men are expected to try and get as far as possible with as many women as possible, even though many men don’t want that, but have a lot of insecurity over their lack of sexual experience. To me, I think the goal should be to have younger people be allowed to be more honest with their feelings and emotions, but also have more guidance over what those feelings mean. This may not be as concrete as you like, but at least it’s a starting point to getting there (I hope).
I would imagine that we all are shooting for more or less the same thing, less crime and violence across the board. However, one criticism I have is that the criminal justice system is not equipped well for some of these things. It is based almost purely in figuring things out and punishing after the fact. Crimes like domestic violence and date rape are difficult to prove, and because of the ever increasing penalties for them, disproving them becomes very important. Given that vast changes in the system are unlikely to happen, I think prevention efforts outside of the system are pretty important, especially for those crimes.
Edward, it is pretty clear you aren’t a woman. The major reason why this “give advice to women about how not to get raped” is such a fucking bad idea is because women get this all the time. It hangs over their heads in everything they do, that they must not do this or must do this or else risk getting raped. There is contradictory, false, and harmful “information” that makes up most of those ideas. As discussed in the blog post, it serves more to victimize than to actually help.
So what is the information you think women need to be empowered, and why does this mean we must blame the victim? If it is discussing abusive relationships, you will find no argument from me, nor I imagine from anyone else. If it’s “don’t wear short dresses” then you’re a tool, because not only do women hear this all the time, there is no reason to think that has anything at all to do with rape.
I don’t expect you to answer me more straightly than anyone above, but seriously: What is the advice/information that we are not allowing women to have in order to avoid hurt feelings? If there actually is anything, would following it reduce rape(some studies of any sort would be lovely)?
” Crimes like domestic violence and date rape are difficult to prove, and because of the ever increasing penalties for them, disproving them becomes very important.”
Wait. Are you arguing that we should reduce the penalties of rape, or that the standard of guilt should change based on the punishment?
Do they? Because from where I’m sitting, a convicted rapist is probably doing a lengthy prison term and then has to register as a sex offender every 90 days for the rest of their lives.
Here is what I (a woman) find to be empowering:
The knowledge that I do not have the responsibility to attempt to control someone else’s behavior.
The knowledge that I am not responsible for the inappropriate thoughts or actions of others.
The knowledge that with more awareness of how a rape cultures treats victims of rape and sexual assault, I can be a better ally and support to people who have been through those experiences. I can do my part to disassemble that culture and replace it with one that unequivocally condemns rape. To replace it with one that seeks to prevent rape by educating those most likely to commit rape. To replace it with one that values people who were harmed more than if values people who intentionally caused harm.
The knowledge that if I were ever to become the victim of rape, it would only be because my path crossed with that of a rapist who decided to seize an opportunity, and that nothing I did caused them to make that decision.
The knowledge that I can’t tell which series of events might lead to a successful date, a day at work, a day at school, a morning run, a night out with friends, a night in with a friend – or might lead to a rape. All I can do is to live my life the way I would normally, and realize that I’m already doing everything that I can possibly do.
THAT’S what I find empowering, as a woman.
I’m not a victim, except of harassment and minor sexual assault. I’m lucky enough not to have to live with a crippling fear of past experience, and it’s nothing to do with how “smart” I am or what I’ve done “right.”
I am not a victim by birth. If I become a victim, it will have been because someone committed a crime against me.
That is, of course, if the whole process makes it to conviction.
Oh yeah, that doesn’t happen too often, now does it?
1) Victim blaming is actually an incredibly significant (I won’t say the, but it’s up there) cause of the problem (I’m assuming “the problem” is “rape”).
2) Er, I do think it is difficult to hold the rapist responsible for something that you blame the victim for . . . so what kind of things do you think we can’t disregard even though they could be “construed as blaming the victim?” What kind of thing is so important that we need to be very clear that victim blaming is on the table?
I don’t think anyone here would have a problem with increased sex education, and I don’t think anyone here believes that increased sex education is victim blaming. So I’m not sure where this fits in to the discussion?
Prevention methods like what?
“Do they? Because from where I’m sitting, a convicted rapist is probably doing a lengthy prison term and then has to register as a sex offender every 90 days for the rest of their lives.”
To the first question: Yes. Christ.
And the percentage of rapists convicted is terribly small. We compare that with the amount of rapists who never even get reported, and well, fuck.
Also, it’s a funny thing, but you know who might know more than you and me about what women might hear in conversations about rape?
Well, neither, really, though it is something worth thinking about. I think we are very harsh on sex offenders in the United States, because we tend to treat them with a pretty broad brush. That’s probably a different discussion, though. I guess my main thought is that we are extremely harsh on sex offenders, but we don’t spend adequate resources on prevention of sex offending. It’s all back loaded.
In other words, we spend a lot of time and energy telling a young man that they are a rapist because they raped and now they have to be segregated from society, but we don’t spend and equal or even remotely equal amount of resources on teaching young men what rape is and how to avoid it. This, to me, is an issue.
That was a beautiful and terrifying post mythbri, thanks for that.
(Terrifying because it puts into stark contrast the fact that rapists are just out there and hurting people both whom I love and whom I will never know, and that there is so little I or any of us can do individually that can make it so the fear and pain can go away. Beautiful, of course, as an expression of life and self in spite of that. )
And yet you feel that any attempt to steer the conversation away from what we need to do about the victims to the men who rape is bad and should be resisted?
Your words here are at cross-purposes with your actions.
One of my best friends was raped while on a date.
She immediately reported, went to the hospital to have a rape kit done. She pressed charges. After a year’s worth of court proceedings, her rapist was sentenced to two years in jail. The prosecution had to downgrade the charges, see, because they didn’t think that they could get anything than a lesser conviction. She went out with a rapist, didn’t she?
She and I saw her rapist on the news after he got out of jail. He’d gotten a job at a massage therapy place and was arrested for molesting multiple female clients.
The establishment’s proprietor was asked about the rapist’s former conviction, and he said, “I didn’t think it was so serious.”
I’ll worry about the possibility of excessive punishment for rapists once I see any kind of majority of them being punished for their crimes at all.
In other words, we spend a lot of time and energy telling a young man that they are a rapist because they raped and now they have to be segregated from society, but we don’t spend and equal or even remotely equal amount of resources on teaching young men what rape is and how to avoid it. This, to me, is an issue.”
What are you talking about? Most rapists don’t go to jail. And they are hardly segregated from society. I agree we need to teach young men about rape, but it isn’t something you “avoid”. It’s really easy: you don’t rape. You don’t put your desires over the feelings and will of other human fucking beings.
Look, I can see how men might get mixed messages in the media about “drunk girls” and the like. And there is value in teaching about that. But that’s hardly going to stop all rapists. The fact that most rapists are multiple rapists pretty much tells us they don’t give a fuck and aren’t just misguided youth.
Seriously, I am a man who has never raped anyone. While having an education about consent has helped me make sure that will never happen, it isn’t like it’s so fucking hard to understand “no means no” and “silence isn’t a yes.” I mean Jesus, I’m the first who will admit that men can be stupid, I sure as hell can be. But we aren’t so fucking stupid that we rape on accident.
I would be more willing to discuss your legal views on rapists if it wasn’t becoming clearer and clearer that you think rape is more of a problem for men than for women.
I’m going to tell you a story that I personally witnessed.
My mother is a social worker. When I was younger, I was thinking about becoming a lawyer. Because of this, she sometimes took me to court when she went (the court was open to the public). One day when I was there I saw a young man who had been in my class. He was dressed up in an army dress uniform. As things unfolded, it became clear that he was being charged with rape. Because he was my age, he would have been around 20ish.
There were a few facts that were not in dispute. He had known she was a minor when he’d had sex with her. She was 14 years old. He’d bought her alcohol and gotten her drunk. She hadn’t consented to the sex.
There were two facts that were in dispute.
1) He said that he’d thought she was 16, she said he’d known she was 14.
2) He said that she’d been too passed out to say no to sex. I want you to pause for a moment and read that again. He said that she had been passed out. That was his defense. She, on the other hand, said that she was drunk enough that she couldn’t fight back put still awake enough to tell him to stop.
He admitted buying alcohol for someone that he knew was a minor. He admitted to getting her drunk. He admitted having sex with her while the alcohol made it impossible for her to consent. He admitted all of these things.
Do you know what he got? Probation. That’s it. Nothing else. If I remember correctly, the official conviction was “contributing to the delinquency of a minor.”
I thought that surely my jaw must have become frozen in space and been left behind as the earth continued its course around the sun. He admitted all this, and yet all he got probation? I couldn’t, and still can’t, fathom it. But that’s what happened.
Oh, and the topping on this shit pie is he was later convicted of felony sexual assault on two other women. I know this because I read it in the newspaper.
Ah, the wonders of our system.
I don’t understand the confusion between offering advice and victim-blaming that so many people show (e.g. the people who tell rape victims they shouldn’t wear this and that, etc., and claim they’re just trying to “give advice”). Advice is offered as an undesireable, but necessary, stop-cap remedy to a situation. It’s not a moral duty or obligation, nor will it change any of the blame if someone doesn’t take the advice. I might advise people to lock their doors as a precaution, but I wouldn’t blame them for not doing so, and clearly I would prefer a world in which locking doors was unnecessary. Self-defense advice is simple, bandaid-solution practicality for mitigating risk and damage in the short term. It doesn’t attack the root of the problem, nor should it ever be presented in that way.
And ultimately, it doesn’t really empower a woman to say that she is obliged to or “responsible” for behaving in a certain fashion, or else she’s asking for it. And it certainly doesn’t empower someone to lie to them that a few practical measures will somehow magically prevent most or all sexual assault. Rather, it is empowering to say, “It’s not your fault. You can fight back by attacking the problem at its source and speaking out. And we’ve all got your back on that.” In the meantime, we take whatever precautions we deem necessary, but with the final goal of not having to take those precautions any more.
And Edward, I used to teach self-defense courses and practical martial arts to adults, and many of the students were women. “Educating women” has never been out of the equation. What we take out is the blame, and the attitude that, “it’s you’re fault if you can’t defend yourself” or any of that nonsense. There’s no responsibility on a woman’s part to learn “proper” behavior or self defense or anything. It’s there for those who want or need it, but it’s always understood as the least desirable of all possible solutions, and no flat guarantee of safety. If it came to a choice between, say, knowing how to do a gun disarm technique or getting rid of guns on the streets, I’d pick the latter 10 times out of 10. The former is only there for a specific situation in which I need immediate results (and will only partially lower my odds of getting shot and killed). It still won’t solve the long term problem as effectively as gun control legislation would.
Oh dear! At the end of my last post it should definitely say “men” instead of “me”. Radically changes the meaning there.
I send you the e-hugs for this.
I agree, though this is a problem for all crimes, not just rape. Criminals, by and large, aren’t the most empathetic and responsible people, which is one reason I’m not a huge fan of hinging all our efforts to curb crime on them.
I’m not totally sure I understand the question. However, it is clear that with some situations, such as domestic violence, the victim presents with as many treatment needs as the offender. However, the offender gets ordered to stay away, or have treatment, or go to jail, or be on probation, or generally be part of whatever treatment someone comes up with. The victim gets nothing except a say in perhaps what happens to the offender. They don’t get access to much of anything that would actually help them, except for an order for the offender to stay away, which is something they often don’t even want. Efforts to include them beyond that are often grouped with “victim blaming” and thus not used.
Well, I don’t know what people think, though hopefully if we agree on things they will let me know and quit telling me how dumb I am 😉
To me, and this is probably pretty controversial, but to me I think it is worthwhile to look at the evolutionary basis of things like domestic violence. Men and women want to control each other in their relationships, but men can tend to be more violent and be more insecure about the control they have in a relationship and be more likely to resort to violence to control the relationship. This is often a part of treatment after the fact, but it’s certainly not part of any education before people start forming relationships.
As far as sexual violence, I would guess that prevention efforts focused on making clear guidelines for when sex is appropriate (for example, sex with someone with who is incapacitated is definitely rape) can help combat the memes which suggest men who don’t have sex are less worthy.
“Well, I don’t know what people think, though hopefully if we agree on things they will let me know and quit telling me how dumb I am 😉 ”
That’s hardly fair. While I have been critical, I have said that many of the things you mention are things most of us here would agree with. What I find perplexing, in addition to your worries about rapists, is that you conflate so many of these things with victim blaming. No one here believes that providing counseling or self-defense classes is bad or victim blaming. You, and only you, are the one who came in here claiming that we need to attribute some blame and responsibility to the victim. Maybe you are using those words in some radically different fashion from the rest of us, but if so you owe it to us to at least listen to what we are talking about, and maybe respond to us on occasion. You can’t come in and argue for victim blaming by claiming that supportive services are victim blaming. That makes less than zero sense, and is either a dishonest way of saving face or a dishonest way of continuing an argument.
By which I mean, if you had said:
“I think making sure we do what we can to punish and rehabilitate offenders, as much as is possible, but that we also make sure we provide education and support structures to men and women to take apart rape culture and help women overcome the stresses of rape culture and the trauma of rape. We must make sure the victims are not forgotten in the aftermath of the crime.”
I doubt you would have received any of the criticism you’ve had. It was when you suggested that we were somehow against the victims getting help(and that rapists are overly prosecuted at this point) that you got into trouble.
“probably doing a lengthy prison sentence”
So, in other words, that stuff about working in the criminal justice system was crap. What’s the conviction rate for rape in the US, again?
Oh, I’m sure you “listen” to them. That is, watch their mouths moving until its time for you to remind them how much of the crime was their fault, but that’s not really listening, is it.
All right – snarky aside:
the people telling you that you’re missing the point are not doing so just to be snarky at you. They just might have direct personal knowledge and insight that you do not.
You have two daughters, you say. Consider for a moment: if something horrible had happened to them, exactly how would you take someone telling them that it’s partly their fault because X, Y. Z. Seriously.
This little thought experiment doesn’t even have to be about sexual assault/rape. Say, someone stole something out of their locker. And the principal’s response is to ask them why they had that item at school, or why they didn’t have their lockers closed and locked every second of the day.
How would you view the person who, instead of doing anything about the actual crime, they spend their time telling your daughters how its their fault. Is it helpful? Is it going to prevent theft in the future? Is it going to do anything to rectify the crime? What message would your daughters get from this?
Or will they magically be protected from theft because you told them they’re not victims?
Well, I’m not really claiming that. I wouldn’t classify much of these things as victim blaming. I would classify victim blaming as holding someone responsible for what another person does to them. But I think this gets expanded too far, so that good efforts at preventing crime, such as certain things listed in the article, i.e. “be careful” is actually a form of victim blaming. No it isn’t. It’s advice to avoid being the victim of a crime. Whether it is good or bad advice is a matter for debate.
My other point is that we can veer too far in this “fault” business. I think people who feel a measure of responsibility for what happens to them are overall, happier people who are victimized less. This is why treatment for domestic violence victims (and depression) can include a component on taking responsibility and whatnot. I don’t classify this as victim-blaming, either. But I think sometimes it does get classified this way.
I don’t know what the principal would do, but I sure as heck would be asking why they brought their widget to school and why it got left in an unlocked locker. The odds of finding the thief is low, and the ability to protect oneself from theft when you have access to a locked locker is high. This I would classify in the live and learn category. And no, no amount of magic can prevent bad things from happening. Bad things happen. Some bad things are completely and totally unavoidable. But taking responsibility for your own actions is also a valuable skill.
I think it’s incredibly revealing that, after a couple of dozen comments form you, you’re still labouring under the impression that people here a) don’t know what your personal opinion is, and b) care what your personal opinion is. Yes Edward, shockingly you don’t think that you’re a bad person! Wow! How unique and special and unlike every other person who wants to espouse harmful beliefs but not be held accountable for the consequences! The way that you personally and only you wish to redefine things in order to avoid having to change is totally different from how everyone else does it. Your personal belief, as someone who has not been and likely will not be a victim of assault, about what does and does not constitute victim blaming is uniquely and profoundly valid. Nobody has ever contributed your particular enlightened perspective of “well people need to accept some responsibility for things” before. You are the first to do it. Congratulations! Your insight is sure to change the world.
Will you tell them the same thing when one of them gets mugged by four people while waiting for a late bus to come home from work? When she’s beaten because she was “sensible” and didn’t carry anything of value on her?
Was it her fault for taking a job in the city? Or working late? Does she need to “take responsibility” for that?
Nope. This would fall into the category of bad things that probably can’t be avoided.
You are free to care or not care about whatever you like. However, given that you post articles and thoughts and research and the like (which I enjoy), and there is a comment function on the blog, why discourage people from talking about the things in question?
Have I posted something that suggested I’m a good person? Because I’m not arguing I’m a good person. Whether I’m a good or bad person is wholly irrelevant to the discussion as to how crime occurs, why it occurs, and how to minimize it. It goes nowhere towards the discussion of how we treat victims and offenders, or even what victims and offenders are. I do have some experience and opinions on those matters, and I try to share them, as everyone else here does. Problem?
I know right? Like, you think that what I espouse is harmful to women because it is victim blaming. And I think what you espouse is harmful to women because it leads to more victimization and crimes against women. Hey, maybe we should hash that out?
Clearly you feel not at all discouraged, to my great chagrin. Entitlement as strong as yours is too strong to punch through with one or two comments from me, so let’s not pretend as though I’m stifling your will to comment, shall we?
You aren’t sharing any ‘experience’, Edward. You’re just repeatedly “sharing” the same hackneyed opinion over and over again, and ignoring the multitude of people telling you “hey your opinion is based on flawed assumptions and lazy thinking”. The “problem” is that you expect everyone else to listen to you because you think your own opinion is no nifty and unique (rather than something that everyone’s heard and dismissed as invalid countless times before for reasons they’ve provided you in their responses), but you have zero willingness to listen to anyone else. That’s the problem.
Know what, Gemmer? Lets say that widget was an expensive graphing calculator your daughter left in her locker after math class. Suppose she was in a hurry and left it unlocked by accident.
Do you really think she doesn’t know full well that someone was able to get into her locker because she left it unlocked? Do you think that when you go to talk to the principal about tracking down the thief, that the conversation is in any way advanced by pointing out that “well, we wouldn’t be in this position if someone had taken responsibility for her locker”.
We teach our children to lock their doors so that nasty people can’t hurt them or take their things. Why do you feel the need to criticize any conversation about teaching people to not be nasty in the first place?
Seriously. You’re a toad.
I think the point you are missing is that personnal responsibility, while valuable, has a flip side : Guilt.
Guilt does not empower you. It cripples you. It takes whatever problems you have on your chest, and makes them so heavy you’re not able to move anymore.
It’s especially true when you’re made responsible for things you have no real control on, like the behavior of others (like a rapist or, say, a loved one who commits suicide), or illness.
Sure there are things you can do to influence the behavior of others or modulate the evolution of certain illnesses, but it’s impossible to predict the actual individual outcome because the things that are not in your control outweight the things that are. The outcome can only be predicted in a statistical form. The lucky ones with the good outcomes will feel all “empowered” by personal responsibility, but for the unlucky ones – the victims – it will mean an endless, useless and crippling search for what they’ve done “wrong”.
The degree of personal responsibility you have over something must be commensurate with the power you hold over it, else what it does is destroy you.
What an amazing post.
The notion that men are slaves to their “nature” is so patently absurd. I’ve recognized since I was a teen that human nature is all those behaviours humans encompass. It stretches from generousity and forgiveness to hatred and violence. Which of those we choose to exhibit…
I grew up in poverty, surrounded by violence. I struggled with the repercussions of that for years, but ultimately I cast it off and made myself a better human, a better man. We have that ability, but you need to recognize that our “nature” is a choice fundamentally, and disregarding that fact doesn’t make your choice any less real. Nothing is quite so simple, of course, because so much of what we are is socially implanted. I did not let go of my anger overnight. It took years of practice and introspection.
In regards to the discussion above with Gemmer insisting that victims can control their destiny, it seems tied up in this myth of the individual that plays into American cultural ideals. The same sort of thing that inspires so many to believe that we could all be billionaires if we just weren’t so “lazy”.
Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
Erika’s original is also all kinds of awesome. It’s a very clear way of describing how victim blaming turns a crime against an individual (rape) into a threat used to control the behaviour and actions of women as a whole (rape culture).
I’m not criticizing any conversation about teaching people not to be nasty. Teaching people not to be nasty is a big responsibility that we all share. My only point of criticism is that I disagree with the notion that teaching people how not to be a victim is somehow morally wrong. I don’t agree with it and I’m probably not going to agree with that, though I’m always open to reason.
Well, sure. Guilt is kind of interesting phenomenon for me, I guess in it’s history and perhaps evolved status. I’m certainly no expert. However, I don’t know that it naturally flows from becoming responsible and self-aware. For example, one issue where I think guilt can cause a lot of issues is with mothers, especially first-time mothers. Working can cause guilt, not working can cause guilt, not breastfeeding can cause guilt, breastfeeding can cause guilt, pretty much anything can cause guilt. I think part of experience is recognizing the feelings of guilt and then being able to evaluate whether something needs to change.
I guess that would be part of my definition of self-awareness, which is being able to recognize your emotions and understand why they exist and whether you should act on them.
Truly, my entitlement wall is bulletproof.
Actually, I’ve found a lot of agreement and good points from lots of people and I’ve learned a lot. Don’t confuse my disagreement with people to mean I’m not listening to them.
I’m not. I’m ‘confusing’ your repeated assertions of your own debunked opinion with you not listening to the people telling you the various ways in which it’s wrong.
@Edward Gemmer #37
I’d really like to see you provide evidence for your opinion here.
How does “You are not responsible for the crimes that were committed against you” magically make women think “Hey! I’m not going to do anything to increase my comfort level in potentially scary situations!”
How does placing responsibility firmly on criminals increase the amount of crime?
As I and others have said, there is currently not enough responsibility placed on rapists, and too much responsibility placed on their victims.
Reduced criminal responsibility = Increased victim responsibility = Lower rate of reporting = Lower prosecution/conviction rates for rapists = Rapists free to target additional victims.
How does your equation work?
I understand this has been said, but saying it doesn’t make it factually true.
Care to prove what is factually true about your own statements? I provided a link to statistics in one of my previous comments, which would lend support to the idea that many rapists are free to target other victims, which in turn would increase the amount of crimes that are disproportionately targeted toward women, thereby increasing the number of women who are victimized.
You’re thinking of guilt as a motivating factor. That’s well and good when you are mentally and physically healthy and when there still is something you might do to change an outcome.
But the victim of rape, the patient with cancer, the parent of a child who’s commited suicide cannot change anything about the outcome. The cancer doesn’t disappear, the child isn’t resurrected, and the victim of rape cannot be “unraped”. Furthermore, these people are less likely to be currently equipped to deal with guilt in a healthy way and more likely to be paralyzed with “might have been’s” and “if only’s”.
Bringing guilt into their plight only serves to crush them, and is an act of pointless cruelty. Its only possible use is to reassure those who have not yet been victims that they will never become one, as long as they continue doing XYZ – which is completely false. The chance is never zero because there are factors there that are forever outside your control.
Speaking of “personal responsibility” in matters that are outside personal control, like the behavior of others or illness, is IMHO a way to callously use victims to provide non-victims with a false sense of security.
I looked over those statistics, and while I am a little skeptical of the actual numbers, I am not skeptical at all that:
(1) Many more rapes occur than are reported
(2) Many reported rapes don’t lead to a rape conviction
Why? There are many reasons, and “victim-blaming” can certainly be a part of it. But it isn’t the sole or even primary reason. Rape charges are difficult to prove. Typically, there are only the offender and victim present, and they may likely have different accounts as to what happened. Consent is often the issue, and it is very difficult to go back and figure out who said what and how and where. Considering the burden is on the state to prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt, it may be tough to present a strong case.
Presenting a strong case is valuable – prosecutors don’t typically want to present losing cases, especially rape cases. Being part of a rape case is stressful enough, and certainly some women choose not to report or really participate because they don’t want to deal with that stress. If the case is poor, there could be a lot of stress for a case that is ultimately dismissed.
Further, the laws don’t exactly favor someone convicted of rape. Being convicted of rape (or other serious sexual violence) leads to consequences that the alleged rapist is very much motivated to ignore. The Adam Walsh Act is the latest round of legislation designed to punish and monitor sex offenders. Even after the stay in prison or jail, someone can be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of their life, and this predictably has negative consequences on their options of where they can work and live.
So, the criminal justice system is poorly designed to handle these things. Punishments can be huge, but the cases can be difficult to prove. There is little motivation for the victim to cooperate at all, as far as I can tell. If the option is accept it and move on or be part of a public and and adversarial system that has no benefits except that there is a possibility the offender can be imprisoned or put on a list, what would you choose? Or anyone?
Changing the system is always something to think about, but like I said earlier, avoiding any need for the system at all is probably the better option, if it can be attained.
@Edward Gemmer #48
So, you agree with these:
But you have neglected to support your own statement here, which is what I asked for:
I have asserted that the low reporting rate and low prosecution/conviction rate for rapists leaves them free to victimize other people, and you agree. We just disagree about the primary causes of the low reporting and low prosecution/conviction rates.
What is your evidence to support your assertion, which I have quoted above?
So, you’d victim blame your own daughters. Lucky girls.
Let’s say the widget was part of a school presentation. And, while she had her head down getting some books out of her locker, someone grabbed it off the top shelf. Is that legitimate enough for you to pay attention to the actual crime yet? Or is it still your daughters’ faults somehow?
And, to you, WHY DID YOU LET THAT HAPPEN TO YOU!!!! is helpful and going to prevent such things in a future.
Rapists are also extremely likely to never be caught. I guess we should just stop prosecuting the crime then, because clearly silly bitches aren’t listening all that oh-so-helpful WHY DID YOU LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!!!! advice.
1) Citation please.
2) How is this a prevention tip? All it seems to be is the assertion that men are prone to beating up women, which seems to be an excuse, not a prevention measure.
I have no problem with this and I can’t imagine anyone on this board would count this as victim blaming. In fact, it’s one of the big efforts that people such as ourselves espouse: target the perpetrator, not the victim. And, to be honest, it isn’t really in line with this idea that going after the perpetrators isn’t useful as you indicate here:
I don’t think anyone here would disagree that victims of crimes should be offered services to help them deal with what happened. But the way you put this makes it sound like it should be mandatory for the victim just like it’s mandatory for the perpetrator, which I hope is not what you are going for.
I’m going to skim down to read some of your other posts when I have time, but I’m still not seeing any of these “possibly construed as victim blaming” anti-rape measure that you say you are shooting for.
That is not what you are doing.
You are victim-blaming.
No one has said that there is anything wrong with teaching anyone “how not to be a victim”. We do it all the time. We teach our children to lock their doors. We teach them to not trust strangers.
What we should not do is assign them responsibility for the actions of others. If your daughter has something expensive stolen from her locker, the only blame for that theft goes to the thief. If a woman is raped, the person to bear sole responsibility for that rape is the rapist.
If your first question when a person is raped was “Why did you [the victim] do…” then you are victim blaming. Pure and simple. In no way does that line of questioning help the victim get through the trauma of rape. In no way does that line of questioning help other women to not be raped.
If your first question, when your daughter comes home and tells you something was stolen from her, is “why did you have it at school to begin with”, then you are blaming her. And that makes you a disgusting toad.
Here is another post that I think should be required reading, somewhat related to what you’ve been saying. It’s about the way women are socialized:
You should read it.
While we’re riding on the “posts about rape are actually all about Edward” train… Edward?
The attitudes you are espousing are directly harmful to victims of rape. You are, right at this very moment, contributing to rape culture and making excuses for it, a culture which devalues the experience of the victim, which places blame on her shoulders for being victimized, all while claiming the so-called high ground of neutrality. How do I know this? Because I have been on the receiving end of these attitudes and behaviors, and they harmed, not helped me. You are doing harm to real people right now in this comment thread. Stop yourself and think about that for a moment, since having empathy is supposedly so important to you. You are hurting people. Human beings. Who have been recipients of your particular type of victim blame. People like me, who at one point in my life would rather have been quite literally dead than hear one more person tell me that because I was not a perfect victim, it must have been my fault. Where is your empathy for THAT?*
This may all be a thought experiment to you, but for other readers and participants, it’s their lives at stake.
* I do not actually want an answer. I want you to marinate on the words given to you by the above commenters a while, take them to heart, apply them honestly to yourself, and then do the work it takes to change your harmful attitudes and behaviors.
Yes, Eddie, that’s victim blaming. You have been told so by people in the know. Repeatedly.
What, exactly, was I supposed to do differently not to be raped? Was I supposed to know not to try to buy dish soap and paper towels on a weekday morning? Totally crazy of me, I know, being a man existing in public on a weekday morning! How reckless of me! Whatever was I thinking? So, what condescending advice do you have for me? Is it something I haven’t already heard, O wise and enlightened sage of the internet?
The man who raped me last time said it was my fault because my hair was curly and he thought I was a woman (which changes nothing.) Men are supposed to wear military brush cuts at all times to avoid being mistaken for women, society’s approved punching bag. When he wasn’t trying to murder me in homophobic revulsion or telling himself that if he killed me, it never happened and he “wasn’t gay.”
The old woman who watched and did nothing said it was my fault because among all the things I did yell, I didn’t yell an endless strings of “No!” necessary to qualify as rape, nor did I try praying, and because I’m a man it couldn’t really count as sexual so it’s not rape and I have no right to call it that.
The store clerk who stood by and watched at least said it was rape and not my fault. Except that all the future rapes this man commits would be my fault if I couldn’t get a conviction. And he refuses to testify because I’m not worth taking time off work. And the security cameras are for shoplifters only. If only I’d been a box of Borax…
This is all victim blaming. Condescendingly chirping that people should “take precaution x” and “fight the guy off” is victim blaming. If you can’t figure out why that would be, the simple @#$% fact that survivors tell you it’s victim blaming and makes us uncomfortable should be the end of the matter for you. But it isn’t, because you’ve got privilege and cotton wads stuffed in your ears.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m preparing for a coming meeting with a psychologist who’s probably going to call me a liar and tell me the university can’t help me because #ididnotreport and my family can’t recognise depression symptoms in a male family member (gosh, who ever heard of that?) especially as I’ve been trying to hide this from them because my mother’s meltdowns are a lot worse than my own and I don’t want to cause one.
Ah, I see. Edward Gemmer thinks that there’s simply nothing that can be done about getting people to not be assholes. We’re back to ‘men are slaves to their sex drives’. Thankfully, he’s just plain wrong about that.
Fast Eddie wrote:
Here’s part of the problem. Consider:
You’ve got a hundred dollars in your pocket. We both agree (or perhaps fingerprints prove) that I used to have that hundred dollars. You claim I just gave it to you because I was feeling generous. I claim you stole it. Unless there’s really strong evidence to the contrary (say, a receipt, or a video), the odds are pretty high that you’re going to do time for stealing the hundred dollars. Why? Because the assumption is that I’m probably not going around giving out a hundred bucks and then accusing the recipient of stealing from me.
But, somehow, the just-as-valid claim that the sex a woman had the night before happened without her consent is magically transformed into a more dubious claim. Because vagina. And because she once had sex with someone else.
That? That’s victim-blaming. It’s also misogynistic as hell. Because in a sane world, we’d realize that it’s acceptable to decide that there’s no ‘reasonable doubt’ to a woman’s claim that she was raped, outside of genuine concerns of her truthfulness.
@scottcunningham 56: I am so, so sorry for what you went through. That’s horrible.
If you’re looking for resources to help your family understand male depression, the book I Don’t Want To Talk About It by Terrence Real can be really helpful. *internet hugs*
I think I should put a trigger warning here for racism:
Something rather obvious to most readers here I am sure, but not at all immediately so to my priviliged white dudely self is how similar the rationale for blaming rape victims here is to the rationales given in the Trayvon Martin case, and Ian’s piece on “Shuffling his Feet”. At the end of the day, they affect somewhat different populations, but they are about enforcing(without, I imagine, much conscious thought, certain behaviours in less powerful groups. I can easily see how “Martin shouldn’t have been out alone in a southern town” or “he shouldn’t have been wearing a hoodie if he didn’t want to be thought of as a criminal” or “He smoked pot so he deserved to get shot” are exactly the same sorts of arguments racists use to perpetuate white supremecy as rape enablers do to promote rape culture.
And I can even see where the people saying these things will say “It’s an awful world with racists in it, and so if you are a young black man you shouldn’t be out in certain areas at night, or wear hoodies, or smoke marijuana.” A parent letting their child know these things is one thing(that police are brutal and racists are fucking everywhere), but for some stranger(and often a white stranger at that) to make these criticisms at a victim is clearly heartless victim blaming and support of the white supremacist society, that at least most remotely good people(not Republicans) have no problem calling out as disgusting. Hell , coming to think of it, I imagine white people would be offended at the idea of Schrodinger’s Racist, and a lot moreso than the actual racism.
At least this struck me as I was coming home, although I hope that it doesn’t smack of “owning another group’s suffering”(I don’t know what to call that, but I know what it is, like when white people say “how would you feel if you said the same thing to me and I were black.” Appropriation?)
(The connection actually first came to me when I realized that the people holding up VAWA because of its expansion of Native American sovereignty are almost certainly some of the same folks who think that naming something the “Redskins” is a way of honoring Native Americans.)
That’s a snippet of something, but kind of looks at the themes at least for domestic violence. I kind of feel that our treatment of domestic violence offenders feels a little off. A lot of it deals with the effects of violence, but doesn’t really do a good job explaining to people why they have such anger and why they want to control their women. There is a bit of it but because we don’t really have great answers for it, they all feel kind of empty. But helping people understand their own emotions is probably a good step towards understanding crime, especially crimes of passion.
Well, look, I haven’t developed a comprehensive set of anti-rape measures. If I had a bunch of proven winners I’d probably be a lot richer. For right now I’m still stuck on seeing the difficulties the criminal justice system has with it and thinking of ways to address it, but not freezing them by calling them victim blaming.
Yeah, yeah, tell me again how great the criminal justice system as at dealing with rape. No doubt my thoughts that it isn’t have been thoroughly debunked.
Another difference would be it is pretty rare that someone gives someone else a hundred dollars for no reason. People have sex all the time.
Rape rates go down when rapists and potential rapists choose not to rape.
What does a victim’s behaviour change? When, if I’m chaste, and modest, and keep to a curfew, and don’t go into dangerous places, does that mean a rape won’t occur? No. If I’m not raped, but there is a rapist looking to rape, then a rape will take place. The obvious answer to this is to make rapists think about their actions, and to think about their victims as whole people.
Yes, we should all try to be safe, and be responsible for our own actions, but even if it was a perfect world where no one drank or went into dark allies or dated people that might be dangerous, rape would still occur if we don’t put the onus on the one committing a criminal action.
Besides, don’t you think victims are blaming themselves enough without your help? Don’t you think they constantly replay the assault and wonder what they could have done, or said differently to make it so that they weren’t so personally harmed by another human being? They don’t need your help, and rapists don’t need your excuses.
“Yeah, yeah, tell me again how great the criminal justice system as at dealing with rape. No doubt my thoughts that it isn’t have been thoroughly debunked.”
You know, I apologize if I am violating any rules Ian, but this is just too much for me. People posted personal stories of how the criminal justice system doesn’t help victims very much at all, and he uses it to defend rapists. And then he claims he’s been listening, ignoring at least three personal stories about people being raped to defend victim blaming.
Go fuck yourself Edward.
You know what? No. It isn’t appropriate to use your experience to attack me. That’s not appropriate behavior. Second, I don’t think I understand your post. You were raped in a grocery store in front of at least one customer and one employee? I don’t know where you live, but in the United States subpoena power can get your witnesses and videotapes. My advice would be to go to an attorney. Are you an adult? Or a minor? (Only asked because you mention your family and your mother).
I didn’t report when I was raped. I didn’t think it was ‘that bad’, and I didn’t think I had a chance in hell of being believed or having any successful action taken. I later learned that the guy had done exactly the same thing to a friend. She did report it. No action was taken.
Funny, that. Almost as if they didn’t believe her, or knew the courts wouldn’t.
“You know what? No. It isn’t appropriate to use your experience to attack me. That’s not appropriate behavior.”
^^^This statement is so many levels of supremely fucked up that I can’t even. The poster you are addressing did not have an “experience.” He was raped. You are in this thread completely dismissing the pain and trauma of rape victims, someone tells you very pointedly and plainly what that pain and trauma looks like, and you go on the offensive claiming that YOU are the one being attacked? Then you proceed to grill him on the details and engage in further victim blaming bullshit? Right after I told you that victim blaming bullshit following my own rape made me suicidal?
Who. the. everliving. flying. fuck. do you think you are to treat other human beings this way?
Onamission5: He’s a piece of inhumane fucking shit without any concern for people. It’s been clear to me he’s a rape apologist from the start (confession: I made my post in the other thread at least in part to prevent him from utterly derailing the conversation.) He cares more about making sure rapists don’t face punishment of any severity in the rare case they are convicted than he does about triggering PTSD in victims or even listening to what they are saying.
I recognize that one should always be generous, and I try hard to be “civil” whenever I can, it is my modus operandi. That said, fuck you Edward. If you want to be an MRA rape apologising fuck, I would at least ask that you keep it to this thread so that we can have discussions about real issues with concern for people somewhere else.
Fuck you again,
@Edward Gemmer #63
Seriously? Fucking really? Not even a “I’m sorry that happened to you, Scott.”
Nope. No sign of sympathy. Just an attack and immediate questioning of Scott’s story.
Is this supposed to “empower” him somehow? If so, I hope that Scott takes this thread off and doesn’t see what you fucking said to him, you asshole.
I note that you still have not provided evidence for your claim that “what we’re doing” is somehow contributing to women being further victimized, and I say that’s because you don’t fucking have any.
Scott, if you DO happen to read this, you don’t owe Edward Gemmer one iota of explanation. You were brave to share your story, and I’m sorry that happened to you. Hang in there. I wish you the best.
I had something to say but I forgot because I’m shocked by the depth of Gemmer’s insensitivity. What an awful person.
So, Edward Gemmer is what ‘civility’ looks like?
You can harm people, as long as you don’t call them names or use swear words?
Looks like poison to me.
Divorcing yourself from your own humanity isn’t something to aspire to. And refusing to respect the humanity of vulnerable people is despicable.
But totally civil!
Gemmer, do me a huge favor. Take your ego and defenestrate it.
Then go back, and re-read every reply you’ve had. And while you’re doing that, consider this:
You come to the thread, and ignore victims’ opinions in favor of your pre-conceived notions, ignore scientific research in favor of rape culture apologia, and repeatedly insinuate that rape victims (of which I am one) are to blame for our rapes in part.
But you’re the one under attack? In what universe?!
A pertinent side story. During a high school swim meet, I left my back pack in an unlocked locker at the visiting team’s school. I’d simply forgotten to bring my own spare lock, and didn’t want to be late to warmups trying to find a more secure location. End of the meet, I go back to my locker, find the locker ajar, bag unzipped and… sure enough, no $100 graphing calculator.
What makes the story pertinent? I told nobody, and sheepishly tapped into my own savings to buy a new one the next weekend. I did not want word to get out – my father was not the type to take kindly to that kind of idiocy, and $100 out of my pocket had a lot less sting than his scathing rebukes.
Oh, scottcunningham, I am so very, very, very sorry for what happened to you. That sounds absolutely shattering, and I want so badly to be able to convey the depths of my support to you, but that isn’t possible over the internet, so I’ll have to settle for telling you that there really are people out there who are willing to stand behind you in this, no matter how much it may seem otherwise.
And I’m going to agree with mythbri 100% on the whole “You don’t owe anyone an explanation.” When I first started talking about my abuse (after years of not having talked about it), I somehow felt that I needed to explain it to everyone who wanted to know about it. This was a bad idea because I simply wasn’t able to handle it when people started critiquing my abuse and passing judgement on whether or not what had happened to me was “bad” enough to warrant any given reaction that I was having. It was awful and in the end I wasn’t able to withstand the stress. Now I just tell people I was abused and leave it at that, assuming I share it at all. If it does you good to tell people, then don’t hesitate to do so (i don’t want to make you feel like you shouldn’t talk about it). But if it hurts you, don’t feel that you are somehow obligated to do so. What happened to you is yours to share or not to share as you deem fit. It is not for others to decide what you should do with it. And I’m unbelievably sorry that the fact that you are a man is making it even more difficult than normal to get people to deal with this appropriately.
I don’t know if that sounds trite or condescending or something (and if it does, I apologize), but I do know that it’s something I needed to hear after my abuse, and I hope that it helps in some small way.
Er . . . uh . . . I don’t . . . I can’t . . .it doesn’t . . . it’s like . . . words won’t even . . . not even a little . . . why?!
I’m . . . done in. *puts her head on the table and groans*
Well that was almost unbelievable. Watching this unfold over 2 threads and culminate in that vile response to an actual victim of rape. It makes me sick to think that this Gemmer person might actually be telling the truth about working in the justice system where he has any contact with victims of rape and opportunity to spread his brand of victim blaming, adding to the pain that they already have experienced.
Oh, and by the way, not only has Edward Gemmer worked with victims in the criminal justice system, he also “works with children in poverty!”
That was at Lousy Canuck’s.
He got banned from Pharyngula, too. There, he announced that he’s intimately connected to the black community.” And he thinks that saying that “harassment and discrimination against women just for being women will not be tolerated” is logically the same thing as saying “harassment and discrimination against men just for being men will be tolerated and encouraged.”
Sorry to bring in this history, but I think people should have an idea of who they’re dealing with. Gemmer loves defending privilege and isn’t very honest.
At some point Edward will stop being interesting and will simply need to be banned. He’s starting to get into a level of belligerent dismissal that is likely to be triggering to some people, and I care more about their feelings than I do about his ability to turn my blog into his bullshit-megaphone. I invite a regular commenter to notify me when that point has been reached.
Do you have any links to surveys of victims who don’t report as to why they don’t report. I’ve read a few news media articles but no actual surveys. The victim’s shame is usually mentioned, the low rate conviction, concern for the offender, as well as others. It seems like some sort of more confidential way to report and deal with it outside of the criminal justice system might be handy, but I don’t know what that would look like or how it would work.
It sounds to me like Mr. Cunningham needs a great deal of sympathy, as others on this board have said and given. I don’t do the sympathy thing that well. It’s a personal weakness of mine, and that’s that. Does that mean I have nothing to offer? I’m an attorney. He told part of a story, but to give advice (which was requested) I need more information. If some sort of sexual assault took place in a store in front of employees and the store nor the employees will participate, Mr. Cunningham may have a lawsuit on his hands against the store. Hence, talk to an attorney, who may take the case on contingency if it is strong enough.
As far as telling him not to attack me, that probably comes off as pretty cold. I think it is a habit from representing criminals – I’m trying to help you, so don’t be a jerk to me. So I apologize for that. But as general advice, you can attract more flies with honey.
No. I’m not the one with preconceived notions. I’m simply saying that victims and potential victims have power over their lives. I’m not ignoring research, favoring rape apoligia, or insulting rape victims. Rape is an awful crime. I’ve always been a believer in the ideal that to improve a country, you invest in it’s women. In this instance, I firmly believe that – investing in women (which on the whole, for rape and domestic violence we don’t do), would have a much stronger effect. Instead, we invest in the men, nearly all of our efforts to prevent rape and domestic violence is centered on dealing with the men after they in fact rape or batter someone. One reason IMO this is so is because focusing on women can get labeled as “victim-blaming.” Hence, I feel the culture that ending victim blaming is actually hurting women. That does not equate to me supporting actual blaming of victims. I think that is horrible.
That’s a new one. I’ve never felt it was wrong to help kids in poverty or get married to a black woman, and I’m from rural Ohio! I was a little worried how some people would view it, but overall it has never been an issue for people, except apparently for you. Congratulations.
Bullshit megaphones. That’s kind of a good name for all blogs, don’t you think? Good call.
Gemmer, you have rape victims telling you that this bullshit you’re spewing is harmful to us, and you’d rather brush that aside in favor of arguing for “education of women” – which has been proven, time and time and time again, not to work.
Speaking as a rape victim here: Every time people like you talk about shit I “need” to do to avoid being raped or about “educating” me on how not to get raped, it’s a slap in the face to me. “If you’d done this, he wouldn’t have raped you,” is the message I get. That narrative is toxic and harmful.
The narrative needs to move from putting the onus on the victims to avoid the crime (with the subtext that if they don’t avoid the crime, they either wanted or deserved it for not taking “appropriate precautions”) to putting it on those who would commit it to not commit it. We need to be educating people that having sex with someone too drunk to know where they are isn’t a good time, it’s rape. That groping someone at a bar isn’t harmless fun, it’s sexual assault. That initiating sex with someone who’s asleep isn’t romantic, it’s predatory.
We’ve tried “educating” women for a few centuries. Rapes still happen. A lot. Obviously it’s not working. It’s time to try something different. Why are you so opposed to that?
Has it been proven? By whom? Because when I look, I find there often hasn’t been any education. Why are elderly women the prime target for con artists? I don’t know, but if I had to guess, I’d say because they haven’t been taught the value of good skepticism and critical thinking. (Not attacking elderly women, please don’t say that). But I definitely disagree that women’s education has been a focus of the past century, though obviously it has been more important with the advancement of feminism. However, I do think that even now not enough focus is built on skepticism and critical thinking when it comes to relationships (for men or women). It is left more to emotion and feeling, which can lead to rather poor results.
Well, I’m not a rape victim, so I’m not going to pretend to understand. I do value your input, however. To me, the question becomes “how to we help our young women without insulting them or rape victims.” I don’t think it means we shouldn’t educate young women. Clearly, input from you and similarly situated people would be valuable.
I agree! At least for the most part. We don’t do enough to educate young people. However, the one part I disagree with is that there is no value for women. One thing I’ve thought about that relates to the “Nice Guy” stuff is that at a young age, men who are more impulsive and more emotional tend to do “better” with women that ones who are less impulsive and more thoughtful. This was somewhat referenced in the other thread. However, men who are more impulsive and more emotional are also more likely to commit crimes of
violence. Isn’t this something we should realize and think about?
I’m totally for it! Creative ideas to stop rape are the end all goal of me posting. I’m interested in possible solutions, and I certainly don’t have a monopoly on answers. However, I do think many people blame the police and criminal justice system. I’m just saying as someone who works in it, it seems like a poor solution to the problem. Certainly, I have more perspective on that than most people, but my perspective is much more limited in other areas.
“Has it been proven? By whom? Because when I look, I find there often hasn’t been any education. Why are elderly women the prime target for con artists? I don’t know, but if I had to guess, I’d say because they haven’t been taught the value of good skepticism and critical thinking. (Not attacking elderly women, please don’t say that). But I definitely disagree that women’s education has been a focus of the past century, though obviously it has been more important with the advancement of feminism. However, I do think that even now not enough focus is built on skepticism and critical thinking when it comes to relationships (for men or women). It is left more to emotion and feeling, which can lead to rather poor results.”
You are blaming old women for being conned now?
From my experience with this issue and what I’ve read it has far less to do with them (and I’ll say older men or women as it applies to both) being uneducated and more to do with their feeling isolated, alone and abandoned. They are often desperate for attention and money, because our society places little emphasis on their needs.
I don’t know why I’m bothering to respond, but to target old victims (and specifically old female victims, of course) just strikes me as obscenely low.
Wow. You are a horrible person. I shudder to think about the levels of victim-blaming and verbal abuse anyone who comes in contact with you gets in your “criminal justice” job. You know, the one that exists in that imaginary world where rapists are “probably” serving prison sentences.
In case anyone’s wondering why victims don’t report, here’s your Exhibit A.
We, the people who have been victimised by rapists, have power over our lives, yes. We have power over ONLY our own lives. We can’t magically make people not rape us, because we cannot change the behaviour of other people, even if we were to wear titanium burqas and live indoors sealed in fem-pods. Even in that obscene world, there would still be rapists. Probably even more rapists – as anyone not in a titanium burqua fem pod would be said to be asking for it, even if they popped out for a pee.
The problem is not with our behaviour, but with the behaviour of the rapists, and those who enable them to continue to do what they do by putting the blame on us.
It’s literally that goddamned simple.
Is it that simple? In the United States, we spend billions (I’ve read estimates of 63 billion dollars) on the prison system. This system houses and feeds and segregates offenders. We spend many billions more on jails, which house alleged and convicted offenders. We also spend billions on probation and parole, to monitor criminals. We spend quite a bit on treatments, education, and programs for offenders. We also usually give them attorneys and a court system to process them.
Actual numbers and estimates vary, but it is clear we invest hundreds of billions of dollars in criminals. The real kicker is that it isn’t clear our system has an important effect on the crime rate.
How much do we invest in victims?
Huh. That’s a funny way to spell “Scott, I’m sorry for implying that I doubt your story, and I’m sorry for asking inappropriate questions about a very painful event in your life, and I’m sorry that happened to you.”
I’m going to type this very slowly, and put it in bold so that it might have more of an impact on you:
Rape prevention and the U.S. criminal justice system are NOT the same thing.
You think that our efforts to reduce victim blaming is about rehabilitating criminals? It’s about rehabilitating the entire fucking culture, you asshole! It’s about changing fundamental perspectives, not cosmetic touch-ups after the fact! If we work to break down rape culture, which is a culture that accepts and condones rape in different ways, then we can reduce the amount of rapes that are committed. Do you know what a major fucking pillar of rape culture is? Blaming the victim. People who blame the victims are part of the fucking problem.
You’re really quick to say that educating men who haven’t committed rape (NOT the ones who already have) has been tried, and has failed. I want proof of that statement. Because from where I’m sitting, as a woman who was raised with all kinds of “helpful” rape prevention advice in a culture that values women’s virginity more than they value women as people, ALL of the focus has been on making women responsible for preventing their own rapes. I have five brothers, and I don’t recall a single time that they even mentioned anyone talking to them about rape, and how NOT to commit it.
Again, Rape prevention and the U.S. criminal justice system are NOT the same thing.
Do we need to provide more resources for victims? Absolutely!
But our prevention efforts need to be focused on those most likely to commit the crime, not the ones most likely to have that crime committed against them – which has been the case for hundreds of years.
Oh, also, you have not provided evidence for your claim that reducing the amount of victim blaming increases the amount of victimized women. And again, I say that’s because you don’t fucking have any.
And if you talk to the victims of sexual assault and fraud the way you responded to Scott, remind me never to look you up if I’m ever a victim of a crime in Ohio.
BTW, here is a link about enthusiastic consent that is a message aimed at teenage women, and I very much approve in it’s aim to empower young people. In part:
But that’s not what I’m saying. I don’t feel sorry, and I’m not sorry, because I don’t understand what happened. I do have a lot of knowledge about the criminal justice system and about access to help for the legal system, so that is the advice I can offer. Am I a “bad person” because my response is different from yours? The easiest path is to simply do nothing to help at all.
I agree, which is why I’m constantly saying this in new and different ways. When we look at statistics and see that most rapes aren’t reported and most reports don’t go very far, then I feel very strongly that we need to examine why this is so and what other avenues are available to minimize the problem.
I don’t think I’ve said that, and if I did I must have messed something up, because I don’t believe that at all. I am a big believer in educating young men on sexual relationships. I think it is an essential factor in any effort to prevent rape. My contention that is controversial is that this is helpful to young women, as well.
Scott Cunningham isn’t your client, Ed. He owes you nothing. Your questions were inappropriate, because they implied that you didn’t believe his story (which is something that rape victims get a lot), and you were making them as a stranger on the internet to another stranger on the internet – not as an attorney to a client. Also, you accused him of using his story to attack you, when that is not at all the case. He was crying out because you were fucking stepping on his foot, and he let you know it.. That’s a reaction to pain, not an attack.
And I note that you still haven’t expressed any kind of sympathy for him, only that you thought that he probably needed some.
You are all over the place here, Gemmer. You haven’t provided any coherent argument against what anyone here is saying. You still express non-specific disagreement while expressing agreement with specific portions of specific comments. You keep shifting the goalposts of the discussion without being specific about what you really want to hear from anyone involved in the discussion.
So from now on, my only response to you is going to be repeated requests for evidence to support your assertion that reducing victim-blaming increases the number of victimized women.
Where is your evidence?
Well, I would object to the phrasing you used, but here is an interesting resource on repeat victimization.
I’ve been dating a black man for six years, but it never occurred to me that he would be a stand-in for “the black community.” I’m intimate with him, not “the black community.”
You’re not one of those idiots who thinks fucking a person of color is a magical mental prophylactic against racism, are you, Gemmer?
Well, I would say this, I wouldn’t use those words again. I regretted it then but there is no way to go back and edit. However, my main point was that not only am I in a relationship with a black woman and have two black children, I also work primarily with black people as a public defender in an urban area. My main point there (and I still feel this way) is that focus on words and actions being offensive has been excessive. We’ve done a good job of reducing racial slurs towards black people, but yet the overall bulk of my clients are black people (which isn’t great because the overall bulk of my clients are charged with a crime). Statistically, the rate at which we have reduced racial slurs has far, far exceeded the rate at which we’ve allowed people to escape poverty. That doesn’t mean I excuse racial slurs, but more that I don’t get as offended by words as much as other people do.
That was my point then, but I do apologize for my word choice because it conveyed some things I didn’t mean.
From the link you posted:
Your own source cites victim-blaming as a concern of focusing on repeat victimization. This link is not supporting what you think it does.
Also from the link:
Do you think the italicized section is even remotely true right now? How could this become effective if the prevailing opinion is that victims of rape could or should have prevented their rape? Does that sound like assigning priority?
Also from the link:
“Shifting responsibility for repeat victimization.” What do you think we’re trying to do, here?
How does this help people who are raped by friends, acquaintances or intimate partners? How does this help victims who have to live in risky environments?
We’ve already established that under-reporting is a huge problem in cases of sexual assault and rape. Shaming and blaming victims will have a reducing effect on reporting, sure, but it won’t decrease the amount of actual crimes. See?
I do not accept this as sufficient proof that reducing victim-blaming increases the amount of victimized women, especially because blaming the victim was specifically brought up as a specific concern in analyzing crime from a repeat victimization standpoint.
Which, in practice, means that you spend an inordinate amount of time lecturing other people on what they ought and ought not feel offended by. Not to mention promoting falsehoods about the effect of victim-blaming on incidences of crime. Very helpful, I’m sure, in terms of actually reducing poverty and ending racial profiling, right–telling people that they shouldn’t feel bad that there are still idiots who post “Happy Nigger Day” on their Facebook page on Martin Luthor King, Jr. Day.
It is a concern.
I don’t think the section is true right now. I don’t think that the prevailing opinion is that rape victims should have prevented their own rape. However, if we are able to identify people who are more vulnerable to crimes, it seems like that would be at least a step towards figuring out priority. Looking at repeat victimization is certainly one place where that focus may help. It’s difficult to do, because we don’t keep great statistics about victims, because as a society we don’t invest many resources in them.
I think education on risky behaviors is certainly worthwhile. One step is to identify circumstances where rape commonly occurs and identify ways it could be easily avoided, then educate the public on these factors. It becomes difficult because the statistics are again not extremely reliable. We have limited information about rape victims who didn’t report, and even more limited information about possible rapists who weren’t reported. When it comes to rape, one area where our knowledge base could be hugely expanded is looking at young people and asking them questions about things that happened without fear of prosecution or public shaming. This is probably a pipe dream, but the dearth of information hard to work around.
I definitely see. I do not and would not support any effort to shame and blame victims.
I generally don’t spend a lot of time telling people what they should be offended by. People are offended by various things. I can tell you what does and doesn’t offend me, and that’s about it. I generally try to value people as they come, not as what I think they should be.
About victim-blaming and reporting:
That’s in the UK. In the USA, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that:
Hmm, the top 3 – 4 reasons for failing to report sexual assaults are directly related to the victim’s perception that they are responsible, or will be seen as responsible, for their assault.
See that, Edward Gemmer? Somewhere between 60% and 90% of sexual assaults are never reported, and one of the major reasons for that is that victims perceive that they will be blamed, or sincerely believe that they should be blamed, for their own assault.
Unless you think that having victims not report their crimes in the first place brings crime rates down, rather than bringing them up because perpetrators can be confident that they will never be prosecuted, then I don’t see how you can claim with a straight face that victim-blaming reduces the incidence of crime.
There’s a term for this: it’s called “being in denial.”
I see. Let’s study the victims and put together a list of helpful rape prevention advice, based on the victim’s attributes and behavior. I’ll start:
Watch your drinks.
Don’t get drunk.
Don’t do drugs.
Be careful who you flirt with.
Make a plan for how to get home in a hurry.
Keep your car keys in your hand.
Hold your keys so the edges poke between your fingers.
Don’t go out alone.
Take your dog with you.
Don’t go out after dark.
Don’t walk in deserted areas.
Don’t run the same route every day.
Don’t go out with your hair down.
Don’t go out with your hair tied back.
Be seen talking on your cell phone.
Don’t be seen talking on your cell phone.
Watch what you wear.
Wear shoes that you can easily run in.
Don’t sleep around.
Don’t have sex, because if you consent to one kind of sex, you’ve consented to them all.
Make plans to check in with a friend.
Send information about the person you’re dating to a friend.
Buy a gun.
Carry a knife.
Carry pepper spray.
Learn Tae Kwon Do.
Park under a light.
Check under the car.
Don’t fight back.
Don’t draw attention to yourself.
Don’t let anyone drive you home.
Don’t let anyone inside your house.
Don’t make out with anyone.
Aim for the groin.
Don’t be alone with anyone.
Don’t go to parties.
Don’t go to church.
Don’t go camping.
Don’t go to the park.
Don’t go to bars.
Don’t go to school.
Don’t go to work.
Lock your doors.
Lock your windows.
Hide in the closet.
Don’t be disabled.
Don’t be a person of color.
Don’t be homosexual.
Don’t be heterosexual.
Don’t be asexual.
Don’t be in prison.
Don’t be old.
Don’t be young.
Don’t be a daughter.
Don’t be a sister.
Don’t be a cousin.
Don’t be a friend.
Don’t be in college.
Don’t be married.
Don’t be dating.
Don’t be pretty.
Don’t be ugly.
Don’t be thin.
Don’t be fat.
Don’t get raped.
Why are you so scared, ladies? This is helpful. Also, why don’t you trust men, you misandrist monsters?!
Nice list, mythbri! I think you left out “always check the back seat of your car” because you’ve been always checking the back seat for so long that you don’t even think about it any more.
For those who still may not get why victim blaming is terrible shit, I want to post these two and a half paragraphs from the Huffington Post article.
“To posit that a woman’s behavior can be a means for stopping rape is slap in the face of all the women who “followed all the rules” and still got raped; the women who were in sweats and messy ponytails, the women who avoided dark alleys and never talked to strangers, the women who were sure to avoid certain streets …even if it meant a longer walk home. … [Thirty-nine percent of offenders were friends or acquaintances of their victims, and 41 percent were intimate partners.” So much for being cautious, huh?]
What I’d like to know: why does the author seem to think that women aren’t taught these things? Why does he think we’re not exercising common sense? Of course we’re cautioned on how to act and how not to act (Don’t dress like a whore! Don’t act like a slut! Don’t be a tease! Don’t get drunk!). In excess. That’s why the vast majority of women feel guilt and shame after being raped (“I should have known better, I should have been smarter, I shouldn’t have flirted with him…”). We’re constantly told and reminded how to conduct ourselves, and guess what? Rapists are still raping. In excess.
Nobody is fighting against being told to be careful. We’re asserting that more often than not, we ARE careful, and we’re constantly educated about it, and rape still happens, everywhere, all the time.”
The list is always endless, of course, but there were three glaring omissions:
Don’t have a mental illness
Don’t be transgendered or intersexual
Don’t be a sex worker
Those are three subsets of the population which are at much higher risk of being raped.
Why is it that being a sex worker, having a mental illness, or being transgendered raises your risk of being assaulted? Not because you’re more likely to wear short skirts if you’re mentally ill, or more likely to not watch your drink if you don’t fit the gender binary.
It’s because rapists know that medical professionals, policy, judges, and juries are less likely to believe people who are mentally ill or transgendered or sex workers when they report being sexually assaulted. Sex workers can’t be assaulted, it’s just “theft.” Mentally ill people are probably just making it up. And trans* people were “asking for it” because they are “traps” for heterosexual men.
I was sexually assaulted when I was 19. The first person I told about it was my boyfriend at the time. His first reaction was to burst into tears because I was cheating on him and ask why was I trying to hurt him. His blaming me for it was far more hurtful and traumatic to me than the actual assault, since my would-be rapists stopped what they were doing when I woke up and started squirming and objecting (I guess I wasn’t as drunk as they thought I was). My personal experience fits with the research, which shows that not having the support of one’s family and community and friends after an assault can severely exacerbate PTSD–and there’s research on this precisely because victim-blaming is so commonplace in the aftermath of sexual assault. So, really, Gemmer, you really want to stand there and tell victims that people don’t act like victims should have done more to prevent themselves from being assaulted? Your denial isn’t cute. It should be embarrassing–if you can’t find it in you to admit you were wrong and apologize at this point, there’s really no point in continuing to entertain your dishonesty.
It’s always missing something isn’t it? Almost as if rape happens in a variety of ways to a variety of people in a variety of places and there’s no conceivable way plan for them all, unless one expected potential victims of rape to become omniscient….
This is correct. It is the same with nearly all crimes and bad things. Bad, terrible, horrible, awful things happen and there is probably nothing anyone can do to stop it. Does this mean we should never try to determine why and where and when and how these things happen and how to avoid them and how to stop them? I hope not.
But, as it turns out, telling people who have been assaulted “oh, well you should have done X” doesn’t actually stop anything. Because there is no end to the list of things that X can be. You will always be able to find a reason that it’s the victim’s fault.
You’ve written thousands of words, Edward. Not a single sentence suggests that you think that the focus of rape prevention should be placed on the rapists rather than the victims. ALl you’ve done is say, again and again, that in your personal opinion not enough is being done to make it the responsibility of victims to have avoided rape. Rape that you have no experience with, rape that you have no evidence to support your contention that it was preventable through the application of paternalistic advice.
Your think that the problem is that you think we don’t understand your point. That’s not the problem. We’ve heard your line of “reasoning” a million times before and rejected it as having pretty much zero merit (or, at the absolute most generous, as being entirely redundant with what women are already doing to avoid rape). The problem is that you don’t understand your point and the monstrous implications that it has. Instead, you dig deeper and deeper into this bizarre fantasy that you have that women live in a world where they don’t know they’re under threat of assault, and that the only way to deal with rapists is to punish them after the fact rather than shift the focus of your attention to dealing with the attitudes that justify rape.
This, incidentally, is why nobody likes you.
Also, I’m reiterating my invitation for someone to tell me that Edward needs to go. I’m going to go back to ignoring him and letting y’all play with him, but at some point I’d imagine this HAS to stop being fun.
“Education on risky behaviors” in relation to rape is a trap. No matter what a woman does, someone will find some “risky behavior” that she engaged in but surely had to know would get her raped. One need only refer to mythbri’s list and SallyStrange’s additions to see how that’s not the case. It isn’t possible to live and not break one of the many shifting rules that society says we must obey in order to not be responsible for our own rapes.
And I’d like to add another rape prevention rule: don’t get raped, and by that I mean that if a person is raped a second time, people will cite the first rape as proof that she is lying/asking for it/blah blah. After all, she couldn’t possibly be raped more than once unless she was doing something wrong!
I am so ridiculously tired of being that I can’t go out after dark, that I can’t walk alone, that I need to carry a weapon, that I can’t wear skirts, that I can’t wear jeans, that I can’t have long hair, that I need to let someone know where I am going at all times, that I can’t drink anything among other people lest they spike my drink, and on and on and on and on . . .
I refuse to live that way. I refuse to be so afraid that I can’t take my garbage out after dark. I won’t do it. I am sick of people demanding that I live my life as if a rapist is literally inches away from me at all times. I will not live like a victim because people will spit on me if I actually become a victim.
This is a wonderful, wonderful thing.
I think we get caught in the weeds when talking excessively about specific behaviors to avoid. For example, revealing clothing is a popular cliche that is supposedly attached to rape. However, lots and lots (and lots) of young women go scantily clad to public places and are no worse the wear. Lots of advice on being safe amounts to an artificial number of rules like listed above. I think that clearly, things that we don’t deal with enough (because society hasn’t really agreed on them) is that women have the right and should set boundaries and be vocal, and that alcohol and drug use can negatively affect the ability to do these things. I’m more under the K.I.S.S. principle for life.
Still labouring under the assumption that rapists are uncontrollable slavering mentally-unstable people who can’t ever change and were always just going to be rapists because they’re criminals, I see.
Criminals, strangely enough, are people. Normal, everyday people. Rapists more so, because rape is misunderstood and papered over so often in everyday life. Most rapists don’t rape because they want to commit rape, they rape because they don’t think what they’re doing IS rape.. Consent isn’t something that’s taught from a young age, people are taught that masculinity means being aggressive and getting what you want through force (for reference, see… everything, even ads for childrens’ toys for fuck’s sake) and that femininity means being passive and doing what you’re told, not making a fuss and simply enduring what shit’s thrown at you instead of trying to find and stop the shit-thrower.
So, there you go. You’ve got a culture that is basically set up to create power imbalances, and doesn’t tell people what rape actually is, let alone do anything about it other than tell people who are raped either to “man up” or that it was their fault, usually both. The person who actually did it? Oh, they’re just a criminal, they’ll keep doing it. It’s YOUR responsibility to stop rape, victims!
Like we can change other people’s behaviour. The criminal justice system doesn’t even enter into it, because the system is set up to fail before we even begin. This is the WHOLE FUCKING POINT. Change the system, educate people from DAY ONE that consent is everything, and lack of consent is criminal. Change the system, de-fang the culture of toxic masculinity* and put the blame for any criminal activity where it belongs – on the person who decided to commit that crime. If the person doesn’t know that what they did is a crime, that’s sad, but it does not excuse the fact that they’ve caused great harm to another person. You know what? Place the blame for their igorance where it belongs too – on the patriarchal culture we live in, and FIX IT. Educate. Throw out damaging gender-normative bullshit. Put gendered slurs in history’s cesspit where they belong. Stop pretending that there’s anything more to gender** than how we teach people to act.
Will that fix the problem entirely? No, because humans are fallible. It’ll set us up pretty damn well though, and by focusing on the real root of the problem instead of telling victims they should be psychic and have the power to change other people’s behaviour we might actually have a chance to see most rapes reported, prosecuted and punished. Not a bad deterrent, either.
It’s not easy, but it’s pretty much the only comprehensive solution that anyone’s been able to come up with that has any actual chance of making a difference. If you’ve got a better plan, do tell.
*Yes, this applies to female rapists as well. If women are taught that masculine is better and aggressive, they will aim to be ‘masculine’ and aggressive, which can of course lead to them raping as well.
**Gender. Not sex, expression, presentation or sexual orientation. There are big differences.
No, the problem is that instead of listening to thins that are different what you believe, you instead pigeonhole them into things you don’t believe. Instead of dealing with the things I say, you invent some fairy tale that I don’t believe and then try to shoot it down. This is called a straw man, and I’m sure you are familiar with it. Since you don’t seem to read what I write, let me explain.
1. We have a rape problem in that rapes happen.
2. The criminal justice system is ill-equiiped to deal with this problem.
3. Therefore, we need different solutions.
4. One of these solutions is educating and empowering people (especially young women) about sex and relationships.
Do you disagree with any of that? Have I been unclear about this? I keep saying we need to address these things, but obviously is is easier to imagine that I actually hate rape victims. I don’t care if you don’t want to think about the problem in any more than the easiest, laziest solutions, but I would not mind if you shut up when it comes to people thinking up new ones.
You’ve been clear to everyone except yourself, apparently.
ONCE AGAIN, you think the weight of education needs to be on young women. Why? Because obviously it is much easier for you to imagine that rape victims are also idiots who need all of the wisdom that you have collected in your many years of ignoring what it is that rape victims are saying. Your “solutions” aren’t “new”, Edward. They’re old. And they don’t work. And you’re the only person here who doesn’t know that.
And since you STARTED THIS FUCKING THREAD with a straw man argument, I hope you’ll understand why I find your OUTRAGE AT BEING MISINTERPRETED completely laughable.
And I’m not even going to TOUCH someone telling me to shut up after hijacking TWO threads on MY FUCKING BLOG. I’m just going to fold that info into your already-established pattern of being fucking hopeless at self-examination.
There’s your problem, right there. It’s not about educating the women. The women are far more likely to be VICTIMS. You cannot, can NOT educate someone to not be a victim, because being a victim requires for someone to have committed a criminal act against you. The problem is the criminal, not the victim.
Educate ALL young people, ESPECIALLY BOYS, about consent and what rape is, so they will be less likely to be criminals later on. Stop telling them that the victim is at all responsible for crimes committed against them, because as soon as you do that you’re saying that if you commit rape it’s not entirely your fault, which is not only entirely false, but leads to rape being an attractive crime – “It wasn’t my fault, she was wearing a skirt/out at night alone/in my house!”
No, fuck that.
Spelling it out again… and again…
Golly, this makes it sound as if you would support the value of educating men and women at younger ages about what awaits them in sexual relationships. Don’t tell the masses.
I totally agree. One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is the ideal of enthusiastic consent. I think a problem with its acceptance is that there is an implication that sex without enthusiastic consent is rape, which makes a lot of people feel like rapists, which isn’t what we want. IMy thought is that making the message about empowering women at a young age to feel confident about relationships. This is very difficult, but may be effective in the long run.
God forbid! Someone might get hurt feelings after raping somebody! No no no, mustn’t have THAT! Rather, let’s get rape victims to make sure they’re shouldering their “share” of the “responsibility”, right Ed?
I’m really glad I’m not one of your kids.
Oh Christ. didn’t you just say:
Isn’t changing this important? Wouldn’t changing this go a long, long way towards women being more vocal and confident about sexual relationships? Don’t we believe that things like setting boundaries and being vocal can help decrease rape. I completely agree that young men can also benefit from this and this should be part of any prevention. I completely, %100 agree. But since we don’t have to choose between changing the culture for just men or just women, and we can do both, I choose both.
This is rich, coming from you. What, pray tell, seems easy about the steps necessary for fundamental culture change that Sophia listed in comment #105?
Easy? This is not easy.
And “educate young women” is not new.
I completely agree with you about promoting ideas about healthy relationships among young people – not just young women – but you have NOT been specific about the nature of your disagreement other than “ur doin it rong.”
All we’ve seen from you is this:
(Vague disagreement, ur doin it rong)
(Vague disagreement, ur doin it rong)
(Vague disagreement, ur doin it rong)
The most frustrating part is that I think that if you actually let go of your foolish perception that everyone here but YOU is doin it rong, we could collectively come up with a list of things that would set cultural changes in motion that would have lasting positive effects. But instead you cling to your resistance regarding our condemnation of victim-blaming.
From the link I posted above, about enthusiastic consent:
I don’t know if these ideas are old or not, but it is clear to me that they aren’t tried very often.
Someone does not grasp the concept of privilege and affirmative action.
Tell me exactly how it’s possible to correct a power imbalance by simply telling the disempowered people that they’re just as powerful as everyone else.
Note: That’s exactly what already happens, and why we have such a horrible problem of privilege-blindness in all areas of social injustice.
This isn’t just a feminism problem, it’s a systemic power and privilege problem. What we do already DOES. NOT. WORK.
I don’t feel that way! I’m perfectly happy saying you and everyone else is concerned about violence and sexual violence against women. I am too. We probably have different ideas about solving it, which is also great, because diversity is a wonderful thing. My only wish is that you would stop assuming I want to shame rape victims. Thinking women can be a part of preventing rape is not the same as blaming rape victims. We agree on a great many things, I’m sure.
No, no, I think it’s much better to sit in an irrelevant corner of the internet and have no one pay attention to anything we say at all. Why should we care if people accept our message? It’s much better to just be right and tap away on the internet rather than actually do anything that people will accept that might lead to less crimes of violence against women.
Do you believe enthusiastic consent is something good? That we should try and spread? If not, please, let me know why. If so, shouldn’t we be figuring out how to do it in a way that the general public is likely to accept?
This is NOT what you have been saying. You have been saying that efforts to reduce blaming the victim actually cause more women to be victimized. I’ve quoted you several times in this thread.
Will you please human up and own your shit? Make a clear argument, for fuck’s sake.
Are victims at all to blame for their being raped?
No, my point is that calling efforts to reduce rape which include potential victims should not be called victim blaming, because then people won’t do them and this can lead to more rape.
Oh, so you still want to blame victims for being raped, but you don’t like calling it victim-blaming because that makes you feel uncomfortable.
I realize I am not a very regular commenter on your blog, Ian, but I for one am more than ready for Edward to stop talking. It is rather obvious that he has no intention of listening or learning and instead views the commentariat as his class that he’s here to teach Edward’s personal three step formula on how not to be addlebrained slutty sluts who go out and get ourselves raped.
@Edward: ” Thinking women can be a part of preventing rape is not the same as blaming rape victims.”
Actually, sweets, it is. Any time you catch yourself saying (or thinking) to a rape victim, “what were you wearing” or “didn’t you fight” or “how much were you drinking” or “what neighborhood were you in” or “were you alone” or “did you leave your drink on the table” or “why were you out that late’ or “why didn’t you say no,” or “did you let him buy you dinner” or “why did you invite him in” or “don’t you have pepper spray” or any number of other blame shifting things, you are taking the blame off of the rapist and placing blame on a person who has already been severely traumatized. If you say these things preemptively, thinking you can prevent the rape of someone, and they take your advice or don’t and are raped anyway, you’re blamed them in advance. You have set that person up to blame themselves for their own rape. You have pressed upon them a mindset which says that unless they are the perfect victim, their trauma is their fault, and they cannot come to you for help or support or you will add additional blame to them. This is part of rape culture. You are part of rape culture. Do you want to be part of rape culture? No? Then learn something from all the folks here, some of which are actual rape victims, who have been so extraordinarily patient with you and stop what you are doing.
Seriously, Gemmer. You keep saying that you want to help rape victims, and then turn around and advocate the same shit we’ve told you over and over and over is harmful and toxic.
I smell some disingenuous bullshit.
I don’t know! More importantly, I don’t care. This idea of apportioning blame isn’t really relevant to my argument. Shame and blame is, to me, mostly ineffective. My original statement, which I am still very much in favor of, is that skeptical, responsible, empathetic, and self-aware people are less likely to be victims of crime (and to commit crime). Not only that, they are happier, more successful people. Is this some sort of bulletproof shield against Bad Things? Of course not. Nothing is. But if we believe that skeptical, responsible, empathetic, and self aware people are in better position, then we should try and raise our kids with these values. Is this really that controversial?
Really? NOW after two threads and hundreds of comments, you choose to clarify what you actually mean?
I’m going to take a leaf out of Crommunist’s book, and leave this here:
Your comments and presence here show that not only do you care, you believe that victim-blaming is fine, because it’s just educating women to help keep them safe from the evil, unstoppable rapists.
Then you have the nerve to speak about skepticism, reason and empathy.
See, I’m more than happy to say that lots of advice we give to women is stupid and counter-productive. But I don’t think the solution is to stop giving women advice. Most stuff we read on the internet is garbage. Should we end the internet?
“I don’t know! More importantly, I don’t care. This idea of apportioning blame isn’t really relevant to my argument. Shame and blame is, to me, mostly ineffective. My original statement, which I am still very much in favor of, is that skeptical, responsible, empathetic, and self-aware people are less likely to be victims of crime (and to commit crime). Not only that, they are happier, more successful people. Is this some sort of bulletproof shield against Bad Things? Of course not. Nothing is. But if we believe that skeptical, responsible, empathetic, and self aware people are in better position, then we should try and raise our kids with these values. Is this really that controversial?”
First off, fuck you for saying that the answer to that is “I don’t know and I don’t care”. No: More importantly when victims are blamed, they hurt even worse. Women kill themselves after being raped. This happens. And you contribute to that, in exactly the same way homophobes do for gay kids and adults who kill themselves. So fuck you, and I hope beyond hope that your daughters are either fictional or have no contact with you, because god forbid anything should happen to them, they would get no support from you and worse.
That said: You are such a lying sack of shit. First off, being skeptical, self-aware, empathetic, and “responsible” hardly is going to make one less likely to be a victim if, for example, they are poor, a minority, transgendered or hell just born female. Sure, you can come up with a list of rules for how not to get raped (which will roughly be “don’t exist, and if you must, make sure you exist as far as possible outside of the public square). Hell, Madelyne O’Hare was murdered, and I don’t think she was likely to have been more skeptical, self aware or strong.
What’s more, no one on these boards is going to argue against raising anyone to be skeptical, responsible, empathetic, whatever good platitudes you want to use. What we will object to is the claim that if something bad happens we should blame you.
Because you know fucking what. It doesn’t matter what the fuck someone does. You’re saying that women somehow don’t get the messages from all over the fucking place that they better live in constant fear. Fine, maybe they don’t. But you know what, even if someone utterly outside of, you know, reality were to wear whatever you consider “wrong” and go heavily drinking with a bunch of creepy guys giving off warning signs, you know what isn’t fucking useful: Blaming the victim. Because even if she was ignorant about the dangers of the world, that just makes her more of a victim. It doesn’t make her in the slightest responsible. The rapists are always goddmaned 100% responsible. And the fact that you don’t care, even after people have explained the pain it causes not only belies your claim that you want to teach empathy(motherfucker, you need to actually have empathy to teach it), it also shows that you aren’t even capable of listening.
And that’s why I accuse you of being a rape apologist, and feasibly a rapist trying to protect himself. I get what it is to not want to admit that you’re wrong. To be prideful. But people in that case with even an ounce of empathy would either have flounced by now, or would have come up with some dumb-ass excuse like “Oh, I didn’t realize when you said don’t blame the victim, you meant don’t BLAME the victim, hurr hurr”. But you aren’t acting like that. You act like you either get your kicks off of hurting rape victims, in which case fuck you, or you just want to muddy the waters to clear yourself. In which case fuck you.
Well, this is where I started off, what I said repeatedly, and what I’m saying now.
[Crommunist’s note: Since Edward thinks that he’s been saying the same thing the whole time, I’m sure he won’t mind if I moderate all of his comments until he says something new. The rest of us will kust have to muddle through without his input]
See, I’m more than happy to say that lots of advice we give to women is stupid and counter-productive. But I don’t think the solution is to stop giving women advice. Most stuff we read on the internet is garbage. Should we end the internet?”
Hey fuckface: You know who might know a bit more about warning signs and red flags that someone might be a rapist? The motherfucking victims. You know who might have a better idea of what advice to give to people? The motherfucking victims.
Not you. Not me. People who actually know what the fuck it is to be a victim, who know what hurts and what helps to hear. People who would know what the fuck isn’t going to perpetuate rape culture.
Also, I object to the above. I don’t know about most of the advice “we” give women, but I will happily agree that all of the advice you give women is counterproductive bullshit.
“Well, this is where I started off, what I said repeatedly, and what I’m saying now.”
I am glad you finally have come to agree that rape culture is a huge problem, that you have been an inconsiderate evil ass by ignoring and disbelieving rape victims, and that you finally see that as a man who has done very little research and has asked very few victims of their own experience, and that you were utterly wrong and terribly sorry.
Nope. Not even close. In the rare cases that any kind of specific meaning could be gleaned from your comments, it was not a consistent meaning (other than vague disagreement, ur doin it rong, of course).
I’m reluctant to put out the idea that Edward Gemmer is a rapist trying to rationalize his crime. The only thing of which he’s demonstrated here is being an insensitive asshole.
Sorry, that should read: that because you are a man who has done very little research and asked and listened to no victims that you aren’t qualified to give advice or even make suggestions but should really just listen for a while.
Mythbri: I accept that entirely. It’s that I seriously can’t believe anyone could be this obtuse and not have an ulterior motive. But if that was offensive, I will absolutely redact it. I don’t mean to trivialize rape or muddy the waters myself.
I realize though that online “diagnoses” are normally terribly flawed, and I let my anger get the best of me. Sorry 😦
In my #131, that should read:
“The only thing of which he’s demonstrated his guilt here is being an insensitive asshole.”
So I read through a number of Edward’s other comments(thanks for the link SallyStrange), and honestly I am more confused than I was before. I mean he just seems to get off on being a jerk to other people and arguing inanely. I mean it’s like trolling except, like, what’s the point? Does he go back to some MRA website and brag? I truly don’t understand. I mean it must be a sort of empty existence trolling social justice blogs. It makes me feel kind of bad, at some level. What possesses people to do that kind of thing? I mean I can’t stand conservatives and racists and sexists, but I just stay away from Stormfront and A Voice For Men and Free Republic. I mean I can imagine trying once to convince people otherwise, but to come back again and again with the same poor arguments is just, well, honestly a little depressing.
Also I want to say thank you to the people who shared their stories in this thread, I know that discussing painful details of your lives with a twit like Edward and having them dismissed(even by such a jackass) must be painful. Nonetheless, I think understanding your stories helps me remain and become a more empathetic and gives me some way of understanding how I ought to act to help victims and to help end rape culture in even a little way. Similarly, while it might seem that any arguments any commenter put up just slammed into a dense wall, I found them, for myself, enlightening. It is hard to understand, as a man, what it is like to live under a constant fear of rape, and with people telling you it is your fault if someone attacks you. But I think it is important that I do understand, so that I can act in ways that don’t cause fear or worry and so I can avoid acting in ways that perpetuate those harms. So thank you as well.
Also, sorry two excellent posts got utterly derailed by that twit, Crommunist.
(And if my vulgarity or attacks offended anyone other thank Edward, I am sorry. It hit the point where, to me, it was better to just straight out attack Edward and hope that maybe feeling judged would make him at least reconsider, but this seems not to have worked either. It is, on the other hand, cathartic and comes highly recommended if it seems good to you. )
Once again, Gemmer demonstrates his lack of empathy by essentially calling for the assault of those who are not skeptical, not responsible, not empathetic, and not self-aware. Because his “solution” for “prevention” of assault is not to reduce the incidence of assault by, say, taking measures to increase the reporting and conviction rates, but by “educating” the poor hapless women who don’t know otherwise that they should try to be skeptical, responsible, empathetic, and self-aware! Because nobody would have thought of that without Edward Gemmer around to preach.
Ban him. He’s boring.
Mythbri, your comment at 97, along with Sally Strange’s additions, really deserves to be its own post somewhere.
It’s refreshingly honest to see him admit that he hasn’t learned a goddamned thing throughout all of these exchanges, and has stubbornly refused to budge.
I’d find that a lot more convincing if he hadn’t already actively participated in shaming them.
mythbri @ 131 responding to Zhuge–
I can see your point about not actually saying EG is likely a rapist. But I’ve got to say, EG has really been creeping me out. I’ve only met one other man who argued that point (it’s the victim’s responsibility) so determinedly. And he did, later, try to rape me.
I, unlike other victims, was lucky enough to have a potential witness wander by. I later learned another woman who knew him wasn’t so lucky.
This is also a demonstration of why putting the onus on women doesn’t work. The fact that the other woman was raped by that sleaze and I wasn’t was strictly the luck of the draw.
There it is, right in front of him. So close, and yet so far away.
Based on a cursory web search and the info he’s provided here at FTB, I strongly suspect that he’s a public defender.
That “clunk” you’re hearing is all the pieces falling into place.
[Crommunist’s note: Gemmer has confirmed this in a now-deleted comment]
Some thoughts on Gemmer, and an argument that might work for him and others like that.
The original post and many of these comments were based on the reader having an element of empathy. Gemmer, and others, do not share this empathy.
This is NOT a new idea, it is the same, tired, knee-jerk reaction many people have that leads them to lock up ‘their women’. Now, you may not recognize women as people, but they are, and at least you seem to have the goal to reduce rape, so here is why this mantra of ‘educate potential victims’ to prevent rape is a stupid idea, with arguments completely devoid of empathy:
1) It is inefficient.
a)Think of the cost of all this research (ignoring all emotional harm in gathering it) and keeping it up to date
b) the cost may divert resources away from more effective prevention (educating potential aggressors)
c) those not educated with the latest and best info are still at risk, perhaps more so if predators look for ‘easy targets’
d) Research based advice will likely be complex and based on location, and subject to change over time
e) Advice like ‘just avoid the bad area of town’ doesn’t solve the problem, it only moves it around: people still live in that ‘bad’ area, and victimizers are mobile – just because you live away, doesn’t mean you are safe
2) Victim prevention techniques will likely be avoidance techniques
a) This means quality of life will go down as normal activities are avoided.
b) If you don’t care about others, how about the economy? Avoidance techniques and lower quality of life reduce the ability to participate in the economy, which lowers the GDP of the country, and slows down your RRSP growth. If you are single, it also means you will have a harder time meeting people, you selfish bastard.
3) The list of ‘do not’s’ is endless
a) Without addressing the intent to rape, rape will find a way to continue even as more and more items are added to the list
b) the end result will be more and more advice to victims and potential victims, at times even contradictory, that drives them to live more and more sheltered lives
4) It is based on the assumption that you cannot change ‘intent to rape’ in a society
a) This is false. Societal attitudes about just about anything can and have changed over time.
b) “Remove the intent, remove the crime, avoid the attempt, move the crime.” Though not 100% true, avoidance can have some deterant effect, although in this case more likely a delay in attempt, in light of (1), (2), and (3) the deterrant effect it does have is outweighed by its consequences.
5) Potential rapists are a large percentage of society and include many demographics
a) This means that rape cannot be treated like crimes such as murder, and should be treated more like crimes of domestic violence by focusing on social prevention and stigma. In this way, telling a women to avoid rape is like telling a women not to marry to avoid being beaten – while technically true, ultimately stupid and ineffective.
b) Yes there are criminal serial rapists, but a large proportion of these crimes is domestic or of a social nature. Indeed, it is notification of precautions to take when known serial rapists are on the prowl that may be somewhat useful, but even here focus on capture is more important.
c) The only way to be somewhat sure to avoid rape without social control is to trust absolutely nobody and live in isolation.
d) Changing our attitudes about rape will be far more effective than telling people to try to avoid it.
6) Known avoidance techniques gives aggressors an excuse to shift blame.
a) As social change is needed to reduce rape incidence, providing victimizers with an excuse actively counteracts this endeavor.
b) It provides a social attitude that gives an excuse for police and prosecutors, however unjustified, to be lenient when they want to be, and to not pursue the case further.
c) This is what is known as ‘victim blaming’. You may not consciously do it, but the unconscious attitude is just as counter-effective – it shifts focus from punishing and preventing the attempt to accepting it as a natural phenomenon. If you think this shift in focus can be simply avoided, you lack an understanding of human psychology.