Tag Archives: sexual assault

Sexual Assault and Misogynistic Comments

Capture of misogynistic comments

 

You may think I’m being ridiculous, but I moderate the comments on my blog, and I don’t want anyone to waste their time responding to this man because he’s pretty clearly a victim blamer and has no understanding of what “socialization” is.

I will say this, however, because of one of things he says, “How do you know men dont take no for an answer if you dont say no.”

I have said no. Many times. It’s not effective. Why don’t women threaten to beat the shit out of men who ignore our “no”s? Well, terroristic threats (which that could easily be considered) are illegal, and it’s a lot harder for anyone to say that type of stuff out loud than it is to think or write it sitting safely alone on one’s computer, especially when one is smaller or physically weaker than the person one is threatening.

Until you know the tremendous feeling of powerlessness that comes with any form of sexual assault, regardless of whether you responded or not, I don’t think you have a right to say any of what Chris says without censure. Thus I’m not approving the comments. I’ve been sexually assaulted, albeit in a way that most would consider “mildly”, and I know that what I felt must have been a tiny fraction of what people in worse situations feel, but even so have a little tour: guilt, constant thoughts of, “I should have done this, I should have said that,” etc., moments, even today (9 yrs later) when I think what I could have done differently. Victims blame themselves, too. Here’s the thing, though: the only person to blame for sexually assaulting someone is the person committing the sexual assault.

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Stop Blaming the Victim [Updated]

I was a part of a conversation recently about rape in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA). The BWCA is in northern Minnesota. Trips through the BWCA are very remote, and people usually travel in groups for safety reasons. I don’t think anyone ever expects to be sexually assaulted in the BWCA, though, and “safety reasons” cover things like animal attacks, near-drowning or injuries instead of “fear of crimes against you.”

Anyway, what struck me about our conversation was the victim-blaming. I don’t mean the type of victim blaming where people say the victim could have prevented the rape by doing x, y or z differently. I mean the type of victim blaming that consists of people saying they feel bad that the victim feels traumatized, but maybe the rapists didn’t know they were raping the victim. The type of victim blaming where people are hyper-skeptical of the victim’s story, but don’t question what the alleged perpetrators say.

Here’s the thing: I don’t know what happened last June in the BWCA. I realize that Julia’s story isn’t a particularly convincing one for a variety of reasons which I won’t go into here because they don’t really matter. Whatever happened, whether she was drugged and raped or just didn’t give enthusiastic consent or was a consensual partner (I doubt that one), I know two things.

First, rape victims are traumatized. Do you really expect every rape victim to have a rehearsed and perfect story? Have you ever been through a traumatic experience? Certainly some people have brains that seem to hit “record” as soon as something bad starts happening, but a lot of people don’t. It seems pretty inevitable to me that your traumatized brain may have a difficult time sorting out what the hell just happened to you. I don’t think we should be holding that against victims of any crime.

Second, saying that a rapist didn’t know he (or she) was raping someone is ridiculous. If you do not have enthusiastic, voluntary consent, don’t have sex. It’s pretty simple. I don’t care how horny you are, or how hard your dick is, or how much you’re craving whatever gets you off, if the other individual(s) does not give voluntary and enthusiastic consent*, don’t touch them. (Feel free to go off alone and touch yourself.)

I am tired of hearing people say things like that. I am tired of hearing rape victims blamed. Rapists may not explicitly know they’re raping a victim, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s not so hard to figure out if the sexual acts you are about to enter into are consensual or not.

If you didn’t scream out, “NO! Don’t take my wallet and purse!” at a burglar, would that mean the burglar didn’t know he was stealing from you? Would it mean he/she is somehow less guilty?

*[UPDATE] I just wanted to add something about enthusiastic consent. There are problems with the term “enthusiastic consent” that Cliff Pervocracy wrote a fantastic post about. This particular situation (stranger in the middle of nowhere), though, is a rather appropriate place to require enthusiastic consent. I just wanted to add that I’m aware of possible issues surrounding that phrase.

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Drinking Irresponsibly Doesn’t Make It Your Fault

Someone posted this on a Facebook group I follow. I definitely thought the following comment made a good point:

I agree : everyone needs to understand that rape is never truly preventable by the victim – rapists rape, and that’s why it happens. On the other side, the poster raises a valid point – girls and women can, to a limited degree, help prevent violence by not letting down their defences too much when they are out drinking. How should society raise awareness of that, without placing blame where it doesn’t belong?

The ad is out of line. The photo they used is unacceptable, and the slogan is blatant victim blaming. Just because a woman is inebriated does not mean anyone should take sexual advantage of her (same goes for if a man has been drinking, obviously). The ad slogan makes it sound as though if a woman’s decision-making ability is impaired it is, at least partially, her fault that someone took advantage of her. Yet it isn’t. It is entirely the fault of the perpetrator.

If you were walking down the street holding a purse, and someone came up and stole it from you it wouldn’t be your fault that the thief took the purse. Of course in that case it’s pretty clear you don’t want your purse stolen because, let’s face it, who does? But since it isn’t always perfectly obvious what other people want in terms of sex, we need to establish societal rules (and legal rules) by which to live. And none of those rules would ever say, “It is okay to sleep with someone who is drunk when there is a chance they do not want to do so.”

Back to the advertising campaign – the commenter I quoted raises a very good point. We live in reality, not the ideal world where no one would take advantage of an intoxicated person (or someone holding their purse unsecurely). Therefore, we should be sharing information that applies to reality. That means that the PA Liquor Control board was attempting to do the right thing by warning individuals to drink responsibly and carefully. I do not think I can say it better than the person quoted above, “how should society raise awareness of that, without placing blame where it doesn’t belong?” How do we tell people that, because there are individuals who will take advantage of you, you should be cautious when consuming alcohol? And how do we do this without it sounding like we’re saying they somehow deserve what they get for making imperfect decisions?

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