Rape Culture Around The Blogosphere: LISTEN

There’s been some really great posts regarding rape, rape culture, and harassment around the blogosphere lately, and I’d like to take the time to highlight some of them.

Figleaf wrote a FANTASTIC post called “Ever Notice How Blame the Victim Narratives Reinforce the Myth of Male Weakness?” He says:
Once again, the problem with blaming the victim (she must have known that sitting at home in sweatpants watching a movie was asking for it!!!!) isn’t that it absolves the assailant(s) it’s a declaration that men are weak, impulsive, hormonal, dictated to by their organs of reproduction, undisciplined, infantile, base, and governed by their animal nature and an overwhelming, instinctive drive to inseminate.

You know what it is? (You’re not going to like it.) It’s saying that rapists are indistinguishable from all other men. Which created an unholy uproar when Susan Brownmiller or Andrea Dworkin or Mary fucking Daly said it. But which passes not simply without comment but as conventional wisdom whenever someone says “well, she must have been asking for it” or “what did she expect?”

If you’re a man and you hear someone blaming a victim for rape why not take it as a personal slap in the face?

How about saying “no, she didn’t ask for fucking anything — a man who knew exactly what he was doing made the deliberate choice to rape someone he believed he could get the drop on under circumstances he calculated minimized the chance of being brought to justice.”

And THIS is exactly the problem I have when men say that they take offense to the statement that, to women, “every man is a potential rapist.” To us, THEY ARE. And by being offended by that statement, you take away from the entire point of what we’re trying to say. You’re contributing to the problem instead of being part of the solution. I agree with Figleaf that victim-blaming should be taken as a slap in the face way more than saying that women are wary of every man is. We HAVE to be wary of every man. It’s a fucking SURVIVAL TACTIC for us.

Epiphora wrote a fantastic post called “I blog about sex. That is not an invitation“(read it. She links to other posts, too). In it, she says:

Clearly, they feel entitled. They feel that my sex blogging immediately positions me as a sex object, or at least a person who can be messed with on a sexual level. I’m guessing they are not used to a woman being so nonchalant about her sexuality, and this (unnecessarily) arouses them. Whatever the bullshit reason, I’m fucking sick of it.

…I’m offended. I’m really fucking offended that these guys think they can talk to me the way that they do. I’m tired of feeling alone in this, because I know (and mourn the fact that) I’m not…

And to every guy who feels entitled to come on to me, insinuate shit about me, cyber with me — fuck you. Fuck you for being too stupid or too inconsiderate to think about my feelings. Fuck you for assuming that, because I am a sexual person and I express some of that on the internet, that you get to be my next sexual partner. Fuck you for not caring that I’m in a monogamous and happy relationship with a man who has a brain that comes before his cock. And fuck you for making me feel like there’s no way I can win against you — because explaining this to you won’t make a difference, and ignoring you makes me angry.”

Hm. This sounds a lot like a post that I wrote, that woman after woman agreed with, yet man after man was “offended by.” Why is it that EVERY woman that comments on a post agrees, or has a similar story to share? Men, THAT’S what you need to listen to. If you really, truly want to help combat the problem, LISTEN TO US. We’re trying to tell you something. And by arguing with us, discounting us, being “offended” by us, or trying to prove us wrong, you’re adding to the problem. You’re the problem, not the solution. And guess what? We’re offended by men EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. And when we speak up about it, we’re offending you? Fuck off.

WE’RE TRYING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING. LISTEN. And be part of the solution by standing up for us, supporting us, and joining forces with us. Not by getting butthurt when we talk about it.

Photo source.
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  1. ignorantarmies
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 4:30 am | Permalink

    I can only talk about myself here. I am very let's say shy when it comes to women and statements like the one's highlighted in your post, in particular the quote from Epiphora, scare me. They make me feel that everytime I talk to a woman, she feels disgusted and offended by me being there, and when I'm really interested and attracted, this gets much worse. Thus, showing sexual interest can only be offensive to women except when they clearly, on a posterboard, declare that they are interested in you first. Everything else, as it feels to me, is abusive, degrading, annoying, offensive and so on.
    It makes me feel very undesired and undesirable, even as a friend, much less for sexual interactions because I am a heterosexual man. And not one that attracts women just by looking good.

    You write that men treat you as sexually available all the time while I feel that no one is sexually available to me at all. And maybe this is were the crux lies. I don't doubt at all that that is how things look from your perspective. Greasy douchebags constantly coming up to you and taking it for granted that your reason to exist is their sexual gratification. And some of them get very aggressive and violent when confronted with the fact that it isn't. And I understand that this provokes the expectation that everyone coming up to you probably will act like that and most do. I understand that a rape victim or survivor is afraid of man and of male sexuality in general. And I agree that one should not blame the victim and should take offense if others do it.

    So, this is how it feels to me:
    Women dislike being hit on.
    Therefore I shouldn't hit one women.
    Women dislike being found attractive or arousing.
    Therefore I am a douchebag or doing something bad whenever I find a woman arousing and attractive.

    And it is before this kind of background that I feel attacked and offended by such statements.

    And how am I to stand up for you? Speaking out when people make rape jokes? I did, but it changed neither the ones who make the jokes, nor how I feel that women see me. What it did change is my social circle, I hardly associate with anyone anymore that would ever make such jokes.
    How am I to support you? By saying "I am a potential rapist, offensive douchebag and leering objectivier."? Sorry, I won't. By being a white knight when you do get hit on by a douchebag? I rarely get into such situations (as I rarely interact with women in situations where women get hit on) but when I did, I offered to do just that. She said that she was used to this and had a strategy of "ignore them till they go away". Good for her, but there was nothing for me to do. And even if I had just barged in like in some movie, would I not have taken the part of the douchebag over, would that not have been interpreted as some attempt to hit on her?
    It seems to me that I am helpless to change this rather unnice situation simply becaues I am a heterosexual male.

    So my point here is: Yes you are right. As far as I can tell that is the experience of many if not all women. But it's still hurtful for me to be caught in such sweeping generalizations, both in discussion and in life interactions, because it always sounds like you're talking about me. What can I be in the eyes of any woman but a potential rapist, douchebag, objectivier.
    I have no idea how to deal with this, but that is more or less how I feel.

  2. Britni TheVadgeWig
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 5:09 am | Permalink

    I get why you would feel that way. I don't know if you read Hugo Schwyzer, but he writes about rape and feminism from a heterosexual male perspective, and he's great. In one post, he says:

    Men’s pain at being judged “guilty until proven innocent” is hardly comparable to being raped, and it’s unacceptable to even hint that it is. But at the same time… rape and assault and harassment hurt everyone, tearing the fabric of our society and alienating us from each other. Not all men are rapists, but all men pay a price for rape.

    The thing is, your line of thinking shows why you will NEVER be one of those people that we're writing about. The people that we write about blatantly hit on us with NO reason. We don't provoke. We don't flirt. Hell, half the time, there's never even been a conversation!

    And it's not just hitting on us and making sexual advances. It's the way in which it's done. There are polite ways to flirt, make a move, and show interest. These are not them. And if you're not doing these things, I'm willing to bet you're fine.

    Schwyzer's post ends with this, which I want to include, just to sum up the earlier piece I used:

    It’s not enough for “good guys” to plead to the women in their lives “but I’m not like other men”. That line carries no weight; what matters is redirecting that anger away from women and towards an entire culture that doesn’t take women’s bodily integrity seriously.

    *His "Rape, aggression, and violence" tag has all the rape stuff. It's worth a read, especially because he specializes in educating boys about rape and sexual harassment.

  3. Epiphora
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    @ignorantarmies: Did you actually read my post? Because I'm pretty sure if I did, you would not have made the comment that "They make me feel that everytime I talk to a woman, she feels disgusted and offended by me being there." I am in a relationship and I make no secret of it on my blog or social networking sites. I have never wanted sex online from men. Therefore I am allowed to be offended when men act that way toward me. It is a different situation than a bar scene in which you are attempting to get a woman's attention.

  4. Epiphora
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Sorry, if you* did.

  5. ignorantarmies
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    I did read your post after I had written my comment and you're right regarding many points, both in your comment here and your post. And the conversations you quoted were absurd to point of being funny from my rather distant point of view. I don't really understand why people would be so… primitive I suppose is the right word. And I guess it isn't very funny for you, actually being exposed to it on a regular basis. But at least the quote from your post in Britni's post did not carry all of that information and that was what I reacted to. I did not intend to misrepresent you.

  6. Profligacy
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    This is a comment from Stasha,

    "THIS is exactly the problem I have when men say that they take offense to the statement that, to women, "every man is a potential rapist." To us, THEY ARE."
    If I'm included in that "us" then this statement isn't true. I do not believe that every man is a potential rapist and that is not an indication that somehow I don't understand the issue or am in any way unsympathetic. Many men are, just like many women, socially inept. Some men are assholes and of those a smaller percentage are dangerous assholes. And an even smaller percent are predators.
    Using the "this entire gender is…" or "this entire gender believes" is also applied erroneously to the "all women seek high status men" or "all women, if given the chance, are gold-digging conviving bitches."
    As for being "offended" people often mistake that as a justifiable reason that other people should change their behaviour rather than a simple state of one person's, or a group of people's, mind.
    Being offended is not a virtue any more than being angry is. In my opinion, being persuasive, effective, and most importantly successful, is.
    The "all men are" position also leads into the idea then that every woman should live in a constant state of fear (hyper-awareness, to some) or offense (hyper-sensitivity)of ANY man's motives or potential actions rather than teaching ALL people to be intelligent human beings. Men and women should all learn how to say "yes" and "no" as well as how to take "yes" and "no" for an answer. It is also helpful for everyone to acknowledge that social interactions between people are not always black and white (such as in the case when first meeting someone and assessing levels of mutual attraction).
    As a point, I hate rape culture, rape "jokes" and using the word rape as anything other than what it is, a degrading violation of another person. And when I find myself in that position, especially if it's used as humor, rather than being or telling the person that I'm "offended" I usually just ask them to please explain how that's funny. It may not change the world, but it sure as hell changes the tone of the conversation.
    Changing rape culture means changing a lot things — some are thoughtless and stupid concepts that "good" people hold to be true; others are more insidious ideas of what is and isn't acceptable behavior based on gender; and still others are dangerous, and in my opinion evil, beliefs of entitlement.
    I agree that everyone should listen when someone is trying to tell them something. I further agree that rape culture will change faster when people have a better understanding of what it is and what they can do about it. But I don't think that being the opposite side of the same "if you aren't in total agreement with everything I say, well then, fuck you" coin is how I should approach the problem.
    There are some really good, smart, thoughtful people in this world — some wrong, some right, some "offended" — who aren't in total agreement and some of them happen to be men. But I've got to tell you, I felt like the final "fuck you" could easily be directed at me too..


  7. SevurdLove
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    One problem can be that your comment bar does start with the statement "Talk dirty to me"… maybe… half joking

    In any case, I kind of know exactly what you are talking about when it comes to rape and comments men leave on your blog. I am bisexual and know how obnoxious guys can be when they just hit on you constantly. But I also have to sympathize with the guys who get categorized with the rest because a lot of women seek to misinterpret all men and what they are trying to say.

    I have personally been drugged and raped. In no way do I think I deserved it, but I don't talk about it much at all because, in retrospect, I learned to trust someone who, when telling other people, always seemed evil. (Of course he does, he raped me) That doesn't bother me so much but I am bothered when I get comments like, "your a slut", "you shouldn't trust guys", and "that is what you get for being bisexual, you should go straight". All of which are inappropriate.

    On websites I post my sexual identity I get ridiculed by both men and women. Both post fairly similar kinds of responses, albeit far more men feel it is their right to post obscene responses.

    My sympathy comes from myself being grouped in with the rest of "men" when I simply am offering to critique or assist a woman. In my mind the genders are separated by a very thin line, but even knowing me for months I will get shunned by women who either misinterpret my friendliness for attraction or an attempt to extort them for sex. Both carry their negatives. It is frustrating as hell and very debilitating, hence I can see why SOME (not all) guys get really offended by comments that lump them into the same group as the "assholes" who keep ACTUALLY using women who actually make shitty/sexist comments but still get the girl in the end.

    Thanks for the blog post though. It is always interesting to get into this discussion. People in general like Profligacy pointed out. People are socially inept, but society can give these inept actions validity. The only way to get over these actions is continued dialog and the spread of this knowledge.

  8. sarahbear
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    I really do not understand why in the living fuck it is still needing to be explained that the statement "All men are potential rapists" means that to a woman, all men have the potential to be their rapist.

    When there are so many women who can recount the times that they have been sexually harassed, assaulted or raped and it takes them more than a single finger or hand to do so. When it typically takes them all twenty of their fingers and toes, and their best friend's toes too then there is a god damn problem. If the problem is that fucking big then it's time to step off of the 'you're offending my delicate sensibilities when you suggest that all men are rapists." soap box. It's time to take a look at society in general, at the way the vast majority of men behave or have behaved at some point in their lives towards the women that they have come into contact with. It's time to stop making excuses for the way that these men are behaving. It's time to stop defending the percentage of men who aren't rapists because whenever we talk about rape culture and the men who have the potential to be rapists we are not doing so with the intention of making every man wear a scarlet 'R' on their chest. We're trying to make everyone aware of something that has been played down, excused and shrugged off for years and fucking years in our patriarchal society.

    We don't fucking need more people pointing out that not every man is a rapist. We know. Stop taking away from the importance of the topic at hand and distracting people, because all you're doing is continuing to make our society a male dominated, misogynistic one where it is perfectly acceptable t to treat women like lesser citizens who deserve to be raped and harassed. Stop suggesting that something women are doing (wearing a certain type of clothes, talking about sex, drinking alcohol, etc.) is asking for it.

    We don't deserve to be raped. We don't deserve to be harassed. But the problem is that we ARE harassed on a regular enough basis, by men that we should be able to trust. Because so many of us have stories about being raped, assaulted and harassed by men that we trust then the statement that "to all women, every man HAS THE POTENTIAL to be a rapist." is true. Stop making this into a god damn semantics argument and look at the point that is being made. If you don't feel like you need to be cautious about the men you come into contact with, good for you, the rest of us who have been raped or assaulted do and it fucking pisses us off when people try to suggest that we're being paranoid.

  9. Epiphora
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    sarahbear: fucking amazing comment.

  10. champagneandbenzedrine
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    I think when you generalize and accuse EVERY SINGLE MALE ON THE PLANET of victimizing women, I think men have every right to be 'butthurt' by it.

    Also, nice choice of term – active demonstration of the normalization of rape culture. 'Butthurt', of course, refers to anal rape.

    I commend what you're trying to achieve, but I think you're fighting to defend certain positions that are indefensible and undermining everything you're trying to achieve in doing so.

    Case in point? Men, such as myself, are concentrating on you defending your 'Today I'm Angry' post and IGNORING the paragraphs and paragraphs you wrote about rape culture.

    Fact: Not all men are, or have the capacity to be, rapists. And we take GREAT offence at the insinuation that this isn't the case.

  11. Epiphora
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 2:37 am | Permalink

    C&B: So it's Britni's fault that you ignore the paragraphs about rape culture? HA, that's a fucking laugh. It's your fault you can't get over ONE IDEA that Britni feels very strongly about and refuses to back down over. Also an idea that has been explained to you various times by different people in a variety of ways (and it has been explained OVER AND OVER that nobody is "accus[ing] EVERY SINGLE MALE ON THE PLANET of victimizing women." That is such bullshit — are you seriously just ignoring the word "potential"?). We are not going to stop saying it, so you need to stop flipping your shit about it.

    Also, let me just say that I take offense to your usage of the word "we" in your last sentence — and so does my boyfriend. He asked that I post his thoughts for him. Maybe you'll listen since he's male:

    "To me, it is ridiculous to keep harping on the semantics of the phrase “every man is a potential rapist.” I understood this concept from the first time I read it, probably even before. I take no offense to it whatsoever, and I totally get how a woman would feel this way about men. Clearly not every man is a potential rapist, but to a female passing a stranger on a dark street (for example), that person could be anyone. He could be a doctor with a family, he could be a harmless douchebag, he could be a complete monster. How is a woman supposed to know if a stranger is safe or not? SHE DOESN’T. For that matter, a man doesn’t know if the dude he passes on the street at 2 AM (or 2 PM, as has happened to me) is a drunk asshole looking for a fight or not. It’s the same idea. I don’t see why this is such a hard concept to understand.

    The solution is simply to treat women with respect, understanding that they can’t trust you unless you give them reason to be trusted. This is for their own safety. In a society where women are so often victimized by men, the least you can do is not give them any reason to think you’re a predator. It is a courtesy.

    I’m so sick of dudes trying to stick up for their “kind.” Well I’m sorry, but our “kind” (males) are responsible for most of the terrible things that have happened throughout history. Rape is at the top of that list. Men can be total douchebags, to put it mildly. Women understand this. It would help IMMENSELY if men also understood this. To fail to understand this puts you on the douchebag side of the equation."

  12. Britni TheVadgeWig
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 2:45 am | Permalink

    C&B, I came across a great post about the concept of Schrodinger's rapist, and it was written by a heterosexual man. I think he explains it quite well. He says:

    "No mater how earnest I am about my feminism and my boundaries and my transformation, the reality is that regardless of who I might be on the inside, I still come across as “a man”. And in the inescapable math of rape culture, man=threat…

    The faux pro-feminist corollary is trying to prove to as many women as possible that you, their male feminist friend, are somehow different from all the other guys… While hardly predatory, there’s still something problematic about this kind of “safe seduction” behavior — because it places the man’s ego, rather than women’s safety, front and center.

    In creating a safer world for all of us, men do well to follow the sensible sort of advice that Starling offers. They also do well to direct more of their efforts towards calling out predatory and sexist behavior in other men, rather than expending tremendous energy trying to earn women’s trust…

    But in the end, it’s important for men who do this work to understand that no matter how hard they work, no matter how committed and sincere their efforts, a great many women will continue to view them as potential predators."

  13. Saraid
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Hi Britni,

    As usual, thank you so much for writing this. I also don't get the fact that men can't understand that every man is a potential rapist. However, I think Epiphora's partner summarized the issue above better than I ever could.

    Thank you for never backing down with your ideas and being a voice to women everywhere. I really appreciate that. You've inspired me to start taking a stand for myself more often and that's something that no one else has been able to do until now.

    So again, thanks, Brit.

  14. champagneandbenzedrine
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Epiphora – you might actually want to READ the post Britni linked to. The phrase I objected to, and Hubman, and a bunch of other men, was:

    "Men think it's their right to take what they want from women, to victimize us."

    Blanket statement. Ringing generalization.

    The 'All Men Are Potential Rapists' is something completely different and I've written about that phrase many times. I think the WORDING of that phrase is retarded, but understand where it's coming from. The meaning is meant to be the concept that women think 'any man could potentially be a rapist' and act accordingly – I have no problem with that.

    But the way it's worded is 'every single man has to potential to commit a rape' which is categorically untrue.


    One of the major reasons rape culture continues – and the average man dismisses a lot of feminist thought as 'man-hating bullshit' is because of dogmatic crap like this. You're clinging to it so hard you don't understand that it undermines everything else that you're trying to achieve.

    If rape could be discussed without accusing EVERY man of being a rapist or implying that EVERY man has the capacity to commit rape than maybe men would actually be open to the idea of listening to what people have to say, taking it on board and amending behavior to help eliminate rape culture.

    As it is, even fairly open-minded men get thoroughly offended and dismissive when they get put through the ringer when they try to contribute to this subject. If you're not willing to accept anybody else's opinions or points of view don't be surprised if people don't respond to the argument.

  15. alana
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    “One of the major reasons rape culture continues – and the average man dismisses a lot of feminist thought as 'man-hating bullshit' is because of dogmatic crap like this.” Yes, us women should be more considerate to the feelings of men so we can convince men that they shouldn’t rape us. Even though EVERY woman can be raped lets turn this into a discussion about the feelings of men. God forbid the dominate group ever be made to feel uncomfortable.

    Your statement also reeks with victim blaming IMO because you’re basically saying that most men don’t care about rape because of the attitudes of women.

  16. Saraid
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    C&B – Every man *does* have the capacity to commit a rape because he is a man. That's not to say every man will, as Britni has said before, but yes, no matter how much you dislike the thought every single man *does* have the capacity to commit a rape.

  17. Ghouldilocks
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    "God forbid the dominate group ever be made to feel uncomfortable."

    Alana: you are awesome.

    And so are you Brit. :)

  18. champagneandbenzedrine
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    "Yes, us women should be more considerate to the feelings of men so we can convince men that they shouldn’t rape us."

    Rapists are CRIMINALS who commit a CRIME knowingly and willingly. If you can 'convince men not to rape us' then perhaps you could convince people not to deal drugs, break into cars, defraud the IRS or commit murder. Oh, wait, you can't. Fortunately not all men are rapists, just as not all men are drug dealers, car jackers or tax frauds.

    Fact check – the men who are going to rape women are not going to be dissuaded by whatever you write on these blogs. You can't convince them not to rape you because they KNOW it's wrong and they KNOW it's a crime and they do it anyway.

    This is just an idiotic mindset. Rape isn't an accident or a misunderstanding. It's a DELIBERATE CRIME committed by a DELIBERATE CRIMINAL. Normal men DON'T commit rape – nor do they steal stuff from stores or sell drugs to kids. Men are aware of the concept of 'right' and 'wrong.'

    You act as if men don't know what rape is; we do. There are NO grey areas surrounding rape. If a man has sex with a woman who doesn't or is unable to consent, that's not an accident. He did that deliberately, KNOWING THAT IT WAS WRONG.

    What you write makes it sound like rape is an accident or a misunderstanding or a crime men aren't aware that they're committing and that's more 'rape apology' than anything I've ever written.

  19. champagneandbenzedrine
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Saraid: "every single man *does* have the capacity to commit a rape."

    That's absolute bullshit, Saraid. That's like saying every human being is a potential murderer.

    The fact is, if a woman was unable or unwilling to have sex with me, I am pretty goddamned sure I would not be able to physically 'perform' to have sex with her because 'awake and consenting' happens to be what gives me an erection.

    Honestly, can't say it any more unequivocally than that: I could not physically have sex with a woman who was unconscious or saying 'no' because that would be physically repulsive to me. I'm pretty sure many, if not most, men feel exactly the same way.

    But THANK YOU for accusing me of having the capacity to commit rape. It's nice to know that a complete stranger feels comfortable enough to accuse me of being a potential felon.

  20. Ghouldilocks
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    I would really like to write more in response to this post, but all I can think of at the moment is: A. FUCKING. MEN.

    The way men would act towards me when I was younger contributed a lot to my current social anxiety. I can't leave the house alone because I'm afraid. I can't walk around my town anymore because of the way MEN (yes C&B, I said it. MEN are the ones that do this and this is why Britni *needs* to write what she writes) have acted towards me. I couldn't go back to high school here because of the way I (and many other girls) were being treated. And not only by the douchey teenage boys, but by the grown-ass men as well. Perhaps it is simply the shit town I live in, but I highly doubt it. It's this bullshit patriarchal society we live in, and that's the fucking truth whether people want to hear it or not.

    I guess I had more to say than I thought…

  21. champagneandbenzedrine
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Ghoudlilocks – I'm not arguing with you. I, too, think Britni NEEDS to write what she does. The problem is, the way she's writing it is so hostile that the people who NEED to read it, i.e. men, aren't going to.

    They're going to dismiss it as 'man hating feminist bullshit.'

    It's Britni's blog and she can say and write whatever she wants – but if she wants men – the people who are supposedly going to benefit from reading it – to actually do so, she'll need to speak in a different voice.

    You can lead a man to water, but if you accuse him of being a victimizing potential rapist you can be pretty sure he's not going to drink.

    As Alana wrote earlier "God forbid the dominate group ever be made to feel uncomfortable."

    That depends, Alana – if you want them to actually READ this stuff and LEARN FROM IT than yes, you do need to not make them feel uncomfortable. I'm not saying it's RIGHT or FAIR but it's a fact.

    If you're not willing to make that conciliation then men aren't going to be engaged in the debate and all this kevetching will be utterly pointless.

  22. Britni TheVadgeWig
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    C&B: "The men who are going to rape women are not going to be dissuaded by whatever you write on these blogs. You can't convince them not to rape you because they KNOW it's wrong and they KNOW it's a crime and they do it anyway.

    This is just an idiotic mindset. Rape isn't an accident or a misunderstanding. It's a DELIBERATE CRIME committed by a DELIBERATE CRIMINAL. Normal men DON'T commit rape – nor do they steal stuff from stores or sell drugs to kids. Men are aware of the concept of 'right' and 'wrong.'"

    You are incorrect here. You are referring to a very specific kind of rape. What about coercive rape? Date rape? And, yes, "gray rape?" These are men that *don't* see what they're doing as rape. They don't see it as coercion. Because they're not holding someone down and forcing themselves on them. But they're using pressure, guilt, coercion, etc. to break down a women's defenses until she is sick of fighting and resigns herself to the fact that this isn't going to stop until she just "gets in over with." That is coercive rape. It's sex that a woman doesn't really want, and is pressured or guilted into anyway.

    And here's why these men don't see themselves as rapists: I want to use Schwyzer's stoplight analogy here. Men are taught, over and over again, that "no means no," just like a red light means stop. We see a red light, we stop. Men hear "no," they stop. But we also know that if we wait at a red light long enough, it will eventually turn green. So, beg, plead, guilt, feed alcohol, whathaveyou, and eventually, that red light may become a green light.

    But what about yellow lights? What if a woman never says "no," but bats a hand away, giggles uncomfortably, or sends other signs that she wants things to slow down? Well, how many people speed up through that yellow light to make it before it turns red?

    In our culture, men are taught that "no means no," but when they never hear an explicit "no," they take that as a sign to keep trying. The other signals don't register. They weren't a "no." And so, they keep trying to put their hand down the pants. They give them another drink. They try to make them feel bad. They do whatever it takes for the woman to give in.

    Those men see nothing wrong with what they've done. She never said, "No." But she never said, "yes, " either. That's coercive rape. And that man is still committing a kind of rape, through pressuring, guilt, coercion, and substances to get what he wants.

    Those men don't see themselves as criminal. There are more than one kind of rape. Remember that.

  23. Epiphora
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    C&B: And yet again, you are completely ignoring the reason we say "all men are potential rapists." It's called fear and self-protection. But oh wait, I forgot, it has to be about MEN and how offended MEN are (except for my boyfriend… guess he's not actually male).

  24. champagneandbenzedrine
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    If a man coerces a woman into consenting, through threats of violence, intimidation, blackmail or by spiking her drink – by anything which makes her feel unable or unwilling to say 'no' – than that's CLEARLY rape.

    Nothing 'grey' about it and the man who coerces her is FULLY aware that what he's going is wrong – if he doesn't see himself as a criminal, he's a sociopath.

    If a guy just buys a woman a load of drinks until her sober 'no' turns to a drunken, but willing 'yes' than that's NOT rape.

    After all, if she got into a car and drove drunk, the cops wouldn't care that a sleazeball bought her the drinks – they'd hold her responsible for drinking them and deciding to drive afterward.

    Likewise, she's ultimately responsible for willingly deciding to sleep with somebody she might not have done sober.

    Arguing otherwise is dangerous territory, because you're suggesting that women are too 'weak and fragile' to make decisions for themselves.

    As long as they have the safety and security to say 'no' than if they say 'yes' we have to believe that they're responsible enough to make that decision.

    If they don't have the safety and security to say 'no' than it's rape – ALWAYS.

    No grey areas. If we open up the possibility of grey areas than we allow men the freedom to argue 'accidental rape' and that encourages rape culture. As I argued above, it undermines what you're trying to achieve.

  25. champagneandbenzedrine
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Epiphora – Re: your boyfriend. You said it, not me. ;-)

    Only joking. If that's how he feels, good for him. Personally, I find it difficult to be expected to shoulder the burden of my male ancestor's 'crimes' from birth.

    (Crimes like those of my terrible grandparents! Supporting pioneering Scottish women through medical school in the late 19th century. SHAME ON THEM!)

  26. alana
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    Britni’s not attempting to undermine the people who are victims of rape when she uses the term “grey rape.” She’s trying to make the point that stating only monsters commit rape, which you keep doing, ultimately perpetuates the idea that it’s only the strangers in dark alleys women have to watch out for. And this is not true. People are raped by the people they love the most. The people they go to for support and understanding. The people they hope to spend the rest of their lives with and trust. Their parents. Their priests. Their spouses. (Sorry for putting words in your mouth Brit. Feel free to correct me if I got it wrong.)

    It took me years to accept that I had been raped. Why? Because I wasn’t attacked in a way that was easily recognizable as rape. That is one of the greatest repercussions of rape culture in my opinion (that we are so narrow minded in what we view as rape that is). To think of rape as this simple black/white issue is not the solution to rape culture (nor is the concept of “grey rape” the problem*). Why? Because it only perpetuates the two dimensional idea of what a perpetrator and a victim are like. That is what makes us question what a woman was wearing or how much she was drinking before we condemn the person who actually did the raping. You can read one study here that found many men admitted to raping someone when the word “rape” wasn’t used.

    *I am not saying that grey-rape should be seen differently in terms of right or wrong though. This is a very big distinction and either you have consent or you don’t. My point is that looking at the varying degrees of rape (though they are all equally horrific) is necessary anytime we have these sorts of discussions. One does not necessarily diminish the other. Manslaughter or first degree murder still ends up with someone dead.

  27. alana
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    “Personally, I find it difficult to be expected to shoulder the burden of my male ancestor's 'crimes' from birth.” And that’s completely understandable. But try for just a moment to stop thinking about your own burden and think about what a woman who has been raped has to carry.

  28. champagneandbenzedrine
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    Alana, I STILL don't see any grey area in rape – and I'm WELL aware that the vast majority of rapes are committed by people who know their victim.

    A husband who coerces his wife into having sex with him by withholding the money to buy groceries for their kids is, in my mind, committing as unequivocal a crime as the guy who leaps out of the bushes and rapes a stranger.

    Rape is rape – it doesn't matter whether it's a stranger or a spouse. The definition of rape is quite clear and I see NO grey area. I studied law for two years and spent quite a bit of time discussing this specific issue.

    I have no understanding of why feminists allow the concept of a 'grey area' to exist. They should draw the line in the sand and stick to it because when it comes to defining what IS and ISN'T rape the definition seems perfectly clear and allowing a grey area to exist allows men to wriggle out of it.

  29. alana
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    It’s because how we look at sex and relationships is an evolving and changing thing. What we consider rape today is not the same as what it was in the past. We are still coming to grips with all the ways a person can consent or not consent. Like I said very clearly before, there is no difference between right or wrong with “grey rape.” For me it’s more of an acknowledgement that human behavior is complex and sometimes it’s not easy to know who was in the right and who was in the wrong. What if a person just lies there and doesn’t consent in his/her head. What is there is a large power difference among the people involved. What if a person has anything to drink and how much is considered enough to still be able to consent? There are thousands of situations like these where the lines are not so clearly drawn. Does that make is okay? No never. But I think you would be more offended if a blanket statement like “most men throughout history have been rapists” was put forth rather then the idea of “grey rape.” The “grey” in the rape doesn’t mean the right or wrongness is murky. It means the rape was.

    I do want to say “allowing a grey area to exist allows men to wriggle out of it” is always an unfortunate possibility (not that this doesn’t happen all the time anyways). But for me, in this sort of environment (as in here at this blog), I don’t see anything wrong with discussing the different was people can be raped. (I think I’m gonna do my own post about “grey rape” in the next few days.)

  30. ignorantarmies
    Posted January 31, 2010 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Give this discussion, maybe the point is to move from a general statement to a perceptional statement. I think nobody could be offended or should seriously disagree with the statement that "for a woman, every man she meets is a potential rapist.". Because if I understand this correctly, Schrödinger's rapist is a statement about a position that is forced on women by the persistence of rape culture. It is not a statement about the nature of men.

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