Posts tagged: rape

Schrodingers Rapist

By , January 14, 2011 10:14 pm

Way back in December, when a post of mine on consent was linked to by a mens rights site, I linked to a post called Schrodinger’s Rapist. Very briefly:

When you approach me in public, you are Schrödinger’s Rapist. You may or may not be a man who would commit rape. I won’t know for sure unless you start sexually assaulting me. I can’t see inside your head, and I don’t know your intentions. If you expect me to trust you—to accept you at face value as a nice sort of guy—you are not only failing to respect my reasonable caution, you are being cavalier about my personal safety.

And a response on the mens rights site:

I want you to do me a favor and go re-read that link you posted, but when you read it, I’d like you to imagine it’s a police officer explaining to a black man why they get hassled a lot, or that it’s a TSA agent explaining to a Muslim why they get pulled out of line and searched a lot.

Imagine that instead of the title of the article being “Schrödinger’s Rapist: or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women without being maced” it was “Schrödinger’s Felon: or a black male’s guide to walking down the street without being questioned by the police” or instead was “Schrödinger’s Terrorist: or a Muslim’s guide to going through airport security without getting strip searched”. Would those be articles you’d be proud to circulate?

Is there something morally OK with gender profiling that is not OK with racial profiling?

Since then I’ve been thinking about just that: is gender profiling of men fundamentally different than racial or religious profiling?

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Pinning down “rape” in the media

By , December 23, 2010 4:39 pm

The rape accusations leveled against Julian Assange have  meant the media has lately been discussing what it means to be raped, and – more broadly- how is rape defined? I must admit, I’m having difficulty finding exact information on what Assange has been accused of. I know two women allege he committed some sexual misconduct, but some places I’ve read it wasn’t (legally) rape, while most news sources are nevertheless calling it such. (If anyone has links to better information, I’d appreciate ’em. Thanks!) Regardless of Assange’s guilt or innocence, though, the news coverage sparked an interesting conversation between a friend and I, about the difficulties of presenting objective coverage around rape accusations.

Specifically, it made me think about the differences between discussing a crime left theft – or even murder – in comparison to discussing rape.

Because when you’re talking about those crimes, there’s (usually) no debate about whether or not a crime occurred, it’s just an issue of who did it. Most news coverage you hear around non-sexual crimes don’t debate that, say, Alice was robbed or Bob was murdered. Every so often there will be a story of arson for insurance money, sure, but those are the exception, not the rule.

Not so with rape.

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Victim Blaming, Avoidance Of

By , October 21, 2010 2:44 pm

Earlier this week, I posted about my experience seeing the movie Trust, which deals with a fourteen year old girl being pursued and ultimately raped by an online predator. One of the commenters, MalkuthSephira, felt that the tone I took engaged in victim blaming and disagreed with my position on the film. I’d like to take the opportunity to respond to her comment (which can be read in full here, though I end up quoting much of it in this post). MalkuthSephira: please speak up if at any point I’ve misunderstood where you’re coming from or misrepresented what you said. MS stars by saying:

In your earlier post [about the stage version of Trust], you describe “a teenager who made poor – but not unrealistic or unbelievable – choices.” I can’t interpret that sentence in any way other than survivor-blaming. Do you really think that it’s fair to bring up a woman’s (even fictional) “bad choices?” A woman’s choices do not lead her to being raped; rape is not the product of some magical flow chart that is shaped by the decisions she makes. Rape is something that is out of the survivor’s control.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this today. I absolutely don’t want to engage in survivor-blaming or imply that rape is ever the fault of a victim. I agree with you 100% that rape is not in the survivor’s control, and is not the result of his or her choices.

That said, can we acknowledge if a victim did make poor choices without ever claiming (or implying, or hinting, or anything of the sort) that the rape was their “fault”? Or is it impossible to do so without resulting in victim-blaming? (This is an honest question, and I’m not sure of the answer myself.)

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Trust, Rape, and The Beautiful People

By , October 19, 2010 2:33 pm

Edit: A clarification to some of the points I made in this post are available here.

I was fortunate enough to attend the Chicago International Film Festival last night, to see Trust, a film directed by David Schwimmer about a fourteen year old girl, Annie, who is preyed upon by an online predator and, ultimately, raped. I was particularly interested in seeing the film because I saw the stage version earlier this year. Rather than try to re-explain my experience, I’ll just quote that April post:

To be totally honest, I was really expecting to dislike this play. I walked in ready for a sensationalist movie-of-the-week about the dangers of newfangled technology, and of writers who were my age when the Internet became mainstream preaching about how things should be for kids who have grown up with and around this technology.

Instead, I saw a piece about bad things happening to good people, of parents doing all the right things and nevertheless seeing their daughter get hurt, of a teenager who made poor – but not unrealistic or unbelievable – choices. It was well-done, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone interested in the use of projection in live theatre, or of dealing with sexual assault, particularly directed at minors. One thing I thought Trust demonstrated particularly well was how cruel it is to label something as not “really” rape, or to dismiss someone’s experiences as “not as bad as it could have been.”

All that holds true of the movie: it wasn’t a Lifetime movie-of-the-week, it didn’t paint technology as inherently evil or “bad,” and it beautifully portrayed the experience of this family as they underwent a horrible experience.

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Rape and Responsibility

By , September 17, 2010 2:21 pm

A few months ago Blue Milk posted But why shouldn’t she take some responsibility too for the rape? (Yes, I’m behind on getting around to this link.) It’s in response to a comment on another post from the same blog, where someone said:

If a man goes alone through an area of the city at night and gets mugged, I would give him none of the blame, but some of the responsibility (He’s not at fault for doing what he did, but it was at least somewhat irresponsible of him to do so).

If a girl gets so completely drunk that she can not take care of herself and she ends up being raped, I would give her none of the blame, but still some of the responsibility (She’s not at fault for doing what she did, but it was at least somewhat irresponsible of her to do so).

I must admit, I’ve wondered this myself. If I leave my car unlocked, it doesn’t mean I was “asking” to get robbed, or that any resulting theft is morally excusable.  But couldn’t I have done something to prevent the robbery?

Blue Milk provides what I think is a rather brilliant response, highlighting the absurdity of the situation were the roles reversed. You should go read it in its entirety, but (to summarize) she provides a hypothetical of a man going back to a woman’s apartment and subsequently getting raped by that woman’s boyfriend (and his friends).

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“Rape” is a four letter word

By , April 8, 2010 12:26 am

(Trigger warning – this post discusses rape, albeit in fiction.)

I saw Trust at Lookingglass Theatre tonight. It’s a play about a 14 year old girl, Annie, who is befriended online by someone who is eventually revealed to be (at least) 35. They end up meeting, and he rapes her. The rest of the play deals with the aftermath, particularly when Annie’s family finds out.

To be totally honest, I was really expecting to dislike this play. I walked in ready for a sensationalist movie-of-the-week about the dangers of newfangled technology, and of writers who were my age when the Internet became mainstream preaching about how things should be for kids who have grown up with and around this technology.

Instead, I saw a piece about bad things happening to good people, of parents doing all the right things and nevertheless seeing their daughter get hurt, of a teenager who made poor – but not unrealistic or unbelievable – choices. It was well-done, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone interested in the use of projection in live theatre, or of dealing with sexual assault, particularly directed at minors. One thing I thought Trust demonstrated particularly well was how cruel it is to label something as not “really” rape, or to dismiss someone’s experiences as “not as bad as it could have been.”

For all that, I can’t say I enjoyed seeing the play.

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Rape

By , March 16, 2009 7:42 pm

Apologies for the overly-provocative title to this post, particularly in light of my last post, on violence and the expectations of violence.

In the past month or two, I’ve had three dreams where I was raped. It was very dream-like, in that I didn’t have the actual experience or memory of the actual rape. I just woke up in a state of panic at 3AM, with the knowledge that I’d been raped.

Looking at an online dream dictionary yields the following:

To dream that you have been raped, indicates vengeful feelings toward the opposite sex.  You are feeling violated in some way or being taken advantage of. Something or someone is jeopardizing your self-esteem and emotional well-being. You feel that someone or something is being forced upon you.

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