Thursday, October 31, 2013

Speed-Blogging, Oct 30, 2013. Contents: Rape, Sexual Violence And Societal Views on Those


This article, caused by the recent debate about whether women should stop drinking too much as a way to cut back on college rape at least opens the conversation on the difference between things one can do not to become a victim and things that can be done to cut back on perpetrators.

The studies it links to are a bit too often older,  from 1980s and 1990s,  and perhaps because the data is from sites where it is offered for a different purpose (rape crisis counseling for possible victims), it doesn't delve deep into questions of frequencies in the characters of the perpetrators, but just points out that rapists can come from all backgrounds.  Even when that is true it may still be the case that certain variables predict rape better and that we should work on whatever those variables might measure (such as belief that women are mostly wheelbarrows for c***t transportation etc.)

I had Cousin Insomnia visiting, so I read through all the comments at the linked article (those that were there last night).  They are revealing.  There are two schools of though, pretty much.

One argues that we shall always have rapists among us and that therefore the best potential victims (women and men and children etc.) can do is to do the equivalent of risk minimization.  Lock your doors, don't wear flashy jewelry, leave your vagina at home when you go out, and naturally don't get soused out of your head.

The other school argues that most rapes are not stranger rapes, that the rapist is more often someone known to the victim and that rapes can happen inside the victim's home or place of work, and that the idea of risk prevention can be a slippery slope, moving from not drinking to not going out to not wearing anything that shows your body and on and on.

I lean much more towards the latter school of thought, because rapes are common in India and in societies where people don't drink and because South Africa, for instance, has such humongous rape rates that there is no way countries simply have a fixed percentage of evil people who are born that way.  I also believe that our ideas about rape affect its likelihood.  If rape is something young men joke about, in public, that's bound to have an impact on how seriously the crime is taken.  So we must change the societal conversations on all this.

At the same time, I think that taking care of yourself is good for all of us human beings, that knowing where you are and what you are doing is very useful, if only to protect yourself against that rarer kind of stranger rape or other forms of violence, and this applies to both men and women.

 I also think that the reasons why rapists rape might vary.   We need more research on this (or someone needs to give lazy me links to the relevant research).  One commentator at the linked article argues that the motivations of male rapists who rape women include cases of extreme woman loathing but also cases where the rapist simply doesn't see the victim as a human but as that wheelbarrow which somehow contains the sex he is entitled to.

I think the person commenting on this stated that the views were based on clinical experience of some type, perhaps based on sentenced individuals' statements, so the wider motivations (given that only a tiny percentage of rapes end up in convictions) need more studying.

And when it comes to teenagers the confusion about what the concept of rape is in the teenagers' minds and what saying no means to them needs a lot more work.  The bro-culture, stereotypically, is seen as almost advocating rape as a form of scoring.  The wider society tells the teenagers that rape is wrong, but I'm not sure how the messages from the popular culture, the peer groups, the parents, the schools etc. interact.  We need to find what works, for a real prevention policy.

Speaking of rape sub-cultures of one type, Oxford University in England is giving us a peek of what's called "lad culture" in the UK:

Last Monday, the social secretary of the Pembroke College Rugby Football Club, Woo Kim, sent his members an email with the subject line "FREE PUSSY". In the email, Mr Kim proposed a "challenge" to the male members of the college; to "pick" a female fresher of their choice as a guest for the upcoming crew date. Mr Kim's email continued, "please bring TWO bottles of wine - one for yourself and one for your guest". This second bottle of wine is to be tampered with. He wrote, "You must open the bottle in advance, and include a substance of your choice. It may be spirits or food or anything you like."
"Please be as clandestine as possible in your deed."
As if this were not chilling enough, he elaborated that the theme of the Crew Date was 'VILLIANS' and that "Villains must be discrete [sic] in their work".
It's VILLAIN, by the way.

If I had to guess I'd think that this email is meant as a joke, not as an actual invitation for a mass rape event.  But we really should ask ourselves why this young man thought the joke would be appreciated by others, what the sub-culture was that he grew up in, why he thinks of "freshers" as prey and of the male football players as predators.  When would this joke be funny?

I'm not part of its intended audience but I think it's funny if you fundamentally believe that what those young men really want is free pussy and that the wheelbarrow wheel must be greased so that the pussy rolls out more handily.  If that's your basic belief, but you know all about the "politically correct" idea that no means no etc, you would find it hilarious.

Finally, and from my personal life:  This is the time of the year (near the day when the dead are on our minds) when I send love and good thoughts to the memory of a man I only met once, a long time ago, when I was in my teens and he was about eighty.

He was out walking his dachshund, clad in a dapper suit, about seven pm on an October night.  I happened to be walking on the same street, going to a study meeting at my friend's house (exams!).

Suddenly, a man in his forties, smelling of alcohol (SEE!),  grabbed me from behind, tore my long coat and pulled out large chunks of my hair by the roots.  I screamed for help.  A couple on the other side of the street made some comment about a marital quarrel (honestly).  I managed to pull myself free and ran up the street (a steep hill at that point), all the time calling for help and for someone to call the police (before cell phones, my sweetings), while my attacker was stumbling after me.

The only person who crossed the street was the old man with the dachshund.  He came to me, asking if I was all right, if I would like me to walk him to wherever I was going.  His hands were shaking, but he was there.

I have never forgotten that, and in recent years I light a candle to his memory.  A good person.

This petition about the police response to a horrible rape in Kenya is worth signing.