Thursday, February 4, 2010

Who Bears the Responsibility for Rape? Do You See Rape as an Act Women Should Try and Avoid, or the Responsibility of Men to End?

Many of these posters above can be found at and at "Real Men Do Not Let Men Rape" is from here.

Among the key issues with rape is how we understand what rape is, who commits it, whose "fault" it is, and who is responsible for it happening in the first place. This was discussed recently at another post on Pearl Cleage's "The Other Facts of Life". It is easiest, politically, to focus our attention on how women can try and prevent rape, as opposed to actually believing that rape is not for women to avoid, but for men not to commit.

Rather than guide women through a series of "scenarios to avoid" we would be wiser to challenge men (you know, the ones with the statused power and social entitlements to rape) to take full responsibility for rape that men commit. Taking this approach is often seen as "a waste of time", or is met with the response "Good luck!!" The assumption is that rapist boys will be rapist boys. And men argue this incessantly: it's part of of a necessary biological imperative; it's how the human species has evolved; that impulse is in my genes not my institutions; my dick (or balls) made me do it; or the classics: "it just happened" or "she wanted it". Over the last thirty or so years there have been dozens of men's anti-groups. Some are located on college campuses, others are community based. Some are educational in their focus, illuminating the political dimensions of rape as a male supremacist crime against humanity. Others are more activist in focus, with regard to making sure there is accountability when rape happens.

One activist and educator is a white man named Rus Funk. He does workshops and presentations. He wrote both Stopping Rape: A Challenge For Men, and >Reaching Men: Strategies for Preventing Sexist Attitudes, Behaviors, And Violence. His work is deeply informed by the analysis and work of many radical feminists who have written about and done activism against rape. I believe men's anti-rape work ought to be done in ways that are accountable to womanist and radical feminist women who do anti-rape work, and that without direct accountability, there is the danger of men focusing the spotlight too brightly on themselves as agents of change, when it is always women who do the bulk of the work without any recognition at all.

Rape can be enacted by men in many ways, under innumerable circumstances. Sometimes in loving contexts, sometimes in hateful contexts. Sometimes insensitive men don't pay attention to women's non-verbal cues. Sometimes men willfully ignore women's explicit demands for them to stop. Some men put drugs in women's drinks so physical force is no longer an issue beyond the force of the rape itself. Sometimes men wait for women to get drunk enough that their capacity to make informed decisions is lessened. Sometimes fathers rape their daughters, husbands rape their wives, and boyfriends rape their girlfriends. And, yes, sexual assault can happen against boys as well as girls, against sons as well as daughters, against intersex and transgendered people of any age, and in lesbian and gay relationships as well as heterosexual ones. But boy-raised men raping girl-raised women is the most common form of rape along with boys and men raping girls. Any form or manifestation of rape is part of a larger pattern of rape used as an act of terrorism, subordination, and violation against women and girls by men and boys. This is the central political theme and story.

With that in mind, the following can now be seen to more explicitly blame women or hold women fully responsible for when, how, and where rape happens, as if men do not have agency, will, and capacity to stop and end rape.

What follows may be seen at its original site by clicking on the article's title.
The Sexist: Sex and Gender in the District

The Worst Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Ever

The great folks over at SAFER Campus pointed me to the most ludicrous Sexual Assault Prevention information page ever, courtesy of the Valdosta State University police department. Instead of providing valuable information for men and women concerning the most common form of sexual assault on a college campus—acquaintance rape—Georgia-based VSU has published a 13-point victim-blaming guide that manages to shame women for climbing stairs, not gouging a dude’s eyes out, and failing to be constantly vigilant of the serial killers who walk among us.
The worst of the worst, after the jump.
Women: Nature’s victims. According to Valdosta State coppers, women “make easy targets for random acts of violence” for three reasons: (1) they’re dumb; (2) they insist on walking around like dainty little ladies; (3) they go places girls aren’t allowed.
The three main reasons women make easy targets for random acts of violence are:
* Lack of awareness (you MUST know where you are & what’s going on around you.)
* Body language (keep your head up, swing your arms, stand straight up)
* Wrong place, wrong time (DON’T be walking alone in an alley, or driving in a bad neighborhood at night)
One major deficit of female “awareness”: Awareness of that serial killer parked next to you.
Some women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit (doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc.). DON’T DO THIS! A predator could be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in the passenger side, put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go. AS SOON AS YOU GET INTO YOUR CAR, LOCK THE DOORS AND LEAVE. . . . If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. A lot of serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.
Better just stick on the ground floor, ladies. First rule of multi-level buildings: Always remember that “stairwells are horrible places to be alone.” Second rule of multi-level buildings: Always remember that elevators are horrible places to be with other people. Ask yourself: Do you really need to get above the lobby today?
Always take the elevator instead of the stairs. (Stairwells are horrible places to be alone.)
* Do not get on an elevator if your instincts tell you that something is wrong (Remember, bad men don’t always look bad).
* Do not stand back in the corners of the elevator, be near the front, by the doors, ready to get off.
* If you get on the elevator on the 25th floor, and the Boogie Man gets on the 22nd, get off when he gets on.
Know your predator shooting statistics. Stop freaking out, delicate ladies: “it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ.”
If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS run!
* POLICE only make 4 of 10 shots when they are in range of 3-9 feet. This is due to stress.
* The predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times. And even then, it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ. RUN!
Live in fear of all other humans. If you don’t, you may get yourself raped.
Women are always trying to be sympathetic: STOP IT, it may get you raped, or killed.
Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good looking, well-educated man, who ALWAYS played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often asked “for help” into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted his next victim.
If you don’t gouge his eyes out, whatever happens to you is all your fault. Yes: It actually says that.
If he’s driving, find the right time, and stick your fingers in his eyes. He must watch the road, so choose an unsuspecting time, and gouge him. It maybe your ONLY defense. While he is in shock, GET OUT. (This sounds gross, but the alternative is your fault if you do not act.)
Stepping outside your car at noon on a Monday: Risky business.
BREAKDOWNS: (avoid this by ALWAYS keeping your car in good working order)
* If your car breaks down, you better have a cell phone to call for help, and lock your doors.
* Keep a blanket, and a pair of warm clothes and boots, and a flashlight in your car always for emergencies.
* If you don’t have a cell phone, shame on you.
* If it’s noon on a business day, you MAY want to put your hazards on and walk to safety.  If it’s 2 a.m. and you’re close to a populated and well lighted area, go there ASAP. Otherwise, your best bet is to stay in your vehicle.
Do not leave shelter after sundown.
If you are walking alone in the dark (which you shouldn’t be) and you find him following/chasing you:
* Try to get to a lighted area, preferably a populated area.
* If he’s following you, cross the street. If he follows you, turn around and look at him. He will know that he can now be identified and that he has lost the element of surprise.
* If he chases you, yell for help and run!
* Find an obstacle, such as a parked car, and run around it, like ring around the rosy. This may sound silly, but statistical data shows that this has SAVED LIVES.
I don’t know what this one means, but it doesn’t sound good.
Never let yourself or anyone that you know be a in any type of business (bar, store, restaurant, gas station).
Make sure to sign up for more great tips, in a class where a police officer will almost surely refer to you and your friends as “ladies,” without irony.
Sign up for VSU R.A.D. course. It’s a self-defense course for ladies.
And now, for some less sarcastic commentary: Here is what the sexual assault policy gurus at SAFER Campus have to say about these tips:
The University’s Police Department’s website for Sexual Assault Prevention is deeply offensive, misogynist, heterosexist and perpetuates myths about the reality of sexual assault. . . . It is difficult to believe that University endorses such so-called “life-saving” victim-blaming advice, which frames women as naive “easy targets”, overly “sympathetic” and illogical. This patriarchal and patronizing advice does nothing to address rape culture on campus, date rape or acquaintance rape. The school is informing students that a violent experience of sexual assault is their fault. No information was found that suggests that a sexual assault victim may be male or transgender.


Chris O. said...

I was just having this conversation with my good friend the other night. Apparently at his wedding in September, one of the bridesmaids was drinking and talking with some guy in his car and he tried to rape her. My friend's wife said she warned the woman that the guy was a creeper. My friend was wondering whether that warning means anything, and I think that is relevant to this discussion. I would say, yes, the warning means something about promiscuity, but NOT rape. Warning someone that a dude might try to talk their way to the bedroom doesn't in any way excuse rape. I have heard people warn women that a certain male is promiscuous and creepy, but I have never ever heard anyone warn someone that "he might rape you." So obviously it's an entirely different matter.

Rape is perpetrated by rapists. Regardless of any other things the victim has done, the rape is in no way their fault. Period. Drunk, sober, on drugs, thought she said yes, whatever. Rape is fucking rape.

Julian Real said...

Agreed, Chris, and thank you for being out there to make that point.

I am reminded of this. (If anyone can place this quote of AD's, I welcome you to send me the book and page it is on.)

"As Andrea Dworkin once famously said about date-rape victims: the punishment for getting drunk with a frat boy and taking him to your room should be a hangover, not rape."

You make an excellent point: being told someone is a creep should mean that at the end of the date or time or whatever, a woman might come away thinking--yeah, he is a creep!

But if people were clear with each other and said "He's been known to rape women on dates", I personally don't know any women who would proceed to go out with him, and even if they did, their doing so doesn't mean they welcome him raping them. It simply may mean they wish to give him the benefit of the doubt.