Brace yourselves.

I’ve been meaning to jot some things down about rape culture for a while now, I made a slight nod toward it in a previous article: You’re all rapists, but now I’m starting to see it flood into the mainstream here, and worse… Facebook pages. I’ve no doubt this is due to all of the stories we’re finally acknowledging from other countries like India, there’s no topic like a hot topic I suppose.

On the outside this seems like a very touchy thing to talk about and I sure as shit have yet to find a female who doesn’t immediately get on the defensive when I mention it, but I’m beginning to worry that 2013 is the year where we all fuck ourselves into an irreversible position through baseless scare tactics and massive misinformation.

I of course have to start by stating the obvious: Rape is a problem, rape is not good, rape is bad.

You know what else is bad? Fear merchants. The quote “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” is quite apt when it comes to the way in which we absorb and spread information with very little thought about its origins or accuracy. When you see a friend share some profound Facebook article which lists “helpful” guides for women to prevent sexual abuse or rape, you should take the time to review the information provided and find out for yourself if it holds any merit before passing it on. You won’t, of course… you’ll just share it, and you’ll think you’re doing a good deed, as will the all the people who “like” your “share”. Let’s take a moment to review some of the stuff I’ve been seeing. It’s worth noting that at no point is a source provided:

 The first thing men look for in a potential victim is hairstyle. They are most likely to go after a woman with a ponytail, bun! , braid or other hairstyle that can easily be grabbed. They are also likely to go after a woman with long hair. Women with short hair are not common targets.

It might seem like a logical leap to make… what we consider to be (on average) most attractive in today’s society must inherently attract the most rapists too, but this claim is simply false. Rape victims fall into a wide array of aesthetic features and the idea of females going bald to prevent rape is just madness. [From Snope: paraphrasing] Law enforcements have not been able to determine a trend in what rapists go for. If such a thing existed we’d have heard it through official sources, not a chain email or facebook post.

The number one place women are abducted from / attacked at is grocery store parking lots.

Number two is office parking lots/garages.

Number three is public restrooms.

The thing about these men is that they are looking to grab a woman and quickly move her to a second location where they don’t have to worry about getting caught.

None of these hold much truth, the last point is even so far from the truth that it’s more accurate to call it a lie. They key thing for a woman to avoid is isolation, areas with very low levels of people coming and going, much the same as most people wanting to avoid trouble. That’s really all that need to be said, it harks back to something we all have to adhere to: “Avoid dangerous situations”. Making it about a specific is unfair and quite frankly, idiotic.

 If you put up any kind of a fight at all, they get discouraged because it only takes a minute or two for them to realize that going after you isn’t worth it because it will be time-consuming.

This is so fucking dangerous it makes me angry to see people agree with it. It’s assuming that all rapists are the same and that they share the same mindset. Bullshit, it’s well documented that there are various types of rapists, fighting back against some of them will end in a fatality, for others it’s more of a turn on. I’m not saying “Oh, you’re about to get raped… tough shit there’s nothing you can do” but it’s incredibly stupid to adhere to a single answer, especially one that can kill you.

 Tip from Tae Kwon Do: The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do it.

The knee is actually the strongest point, so that’s wrong pretty much immediately. It’s also in reference to the earlier quote in that it’s trying to train women to fight back. I wish there was some saviour, some single solution to stop women being raped but the decision to use force against an attacker needs to be one that the victim determines from the situation, don’t do it because a shared facebook post told you to.

 As women, we 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.

Ted Bundy gets a lot of mentions, and for good reason, but denying sympathy toward others because of a very rare case in the history of rapists is an incredibly short-sighted thing to do. Ted Bundy also did not ALWAYS play on the sympathies of women. A number of his victims were not abducted or manipulated in any way, they were killed while they slept. I realise that isn’t entirely reassuring but the point is that the quote above wants you to assume that anyone who needs help is a rapist because of Ted Bundy, that is false. It’s okay to be suspicious of someone you think is trying to lure you into a trap, but for the love of humanity there’s no need to eradicate sympathy toward others.

As you might imagine, there’s loads of these sorts of things and very rarely will any of it actually contain useful information. They’re designed to get a reaction from you, it’s the Fox News type of delivery where they care more about the number of people viewing and talking about it, than the problem itself. Stop being so fucking stupid, please.

These sorts of posts will usually start with something to get you to “share” it, they don’t fully expect you to actually read everything… mostly just the top bit “SHARE THIS IF YOU WANT TO SAVE SOMEONE’S LIFE“. There’s a reason for this but that topic stretches a bit out of bounds so I’ll just make it real quick: Liking, Sharing or Posting on these Facebook pages gives your information up to the admin(s) of those pages, a lot (certainly not all) of these pages only exist to obtain that information, which they then hand over to someone willing to pay for it because it’s a nice way to get a whole bunch of gullible people together. Sub-note… these people are the ones who always complain about privacy.

There was some “Self Defence” chain email that started in 2000 which was verified as providing false information pretty swiftly. Alarmingly, a lot of the points listed are still being circulated as fact today.

While talking to a female friend of mine, just moments before I inevitably pissed her off, she told me that 1 in 3 girls are raped by their boyfriends. She’s had a fair number of boyfriends to date and I probably shouldn’t have asked her how many times she’s been raped by any of them, but I did. The answer is zero, just in case you were wondering. I started to think about it for a while though, I mean… I assume in-relationship rapes do occur, and I would also assume that most are never reported, which in itself throws any sort of statistic out of the window. I kept digging though, one unverified claim isn’t going to be beaten by another.

Vilayanur S. Ramachandran, a Neuroscientist and Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition presented the theory of a rare neurological disorder called Capgras delusion in 1997. Samuel H. Pillsbury, a professor of law, later (2007)  goes on to relate Capgras delusion with non-recognition and the idea of “acquaintance rape” (page 846). Now, my own feeling is that Samuel’s theory of non-recognition stands strong enough on its own, without the need for any references to Capgras delusion, but I suppose it never hurts to get a neuroscientist involved.

Episodes of sexual coercion between acquaintances tend to be categorized as “bad sex” or “bad romance” rather than serious criminal wrongs. There exists a troubling and persistent gap between our formal understanding of sexual wrongdoing and actual recognition of such wrongs when they occur. Our intellectual and emotional understandings of rape and romance are at odds.

It’s interesting because it verifies a logical assumption, and it’s doing it on the law side of the argument. Acquaintance rape is not denied by the definition of rape itself, but it often results in neither party seeing it as a crime. This naturally sits on a rather grey area of the law, both partners put portions of the blame on themselves, they know an immoral act occurred but rarely will either of them view it as criminal. So when it comes back to that “1 in 3″ statistic, it might not be a mile off, but it seems as though the majority of acquaintance rape is not considered “enough rape” to warrant reporting. I’m not saying it should or shouldn’t go unreported, but let’s say I had a girlfriend who tied me down while I slept and raped my butthole with a dildo one night because she was feeling a little crazy, I doubt I’d want her to go to prison over it, but I would absolutely bin the dildo and tell her to stay away from my rectum in the future. This case does not apply to any partners in a relationship who feel as though a definite crime had been committed. Just so we’re 100% clear on what I’m getting at here, if your partner raped you, and you put the blame solely on them, then that is not non-recognition and would count as something you deem as criminal behaviour.

A lot of people I’ve spoken to about this seem to come back with “it can’t do any harm to make women more self aware“… THAT I agree with, It can’t do any harm to make EVERYONE more aware about a lot of things, but the idea that false information is going to do more good than harm is dangerously wrong and outrageously idiotic. The effects that this sort of mentality has on society is a game changer to say the least. Here’s something not uncommon that all men feel:

If I’m following a girl who’s all alone down a hallway, or see one in a mostly-vacant parking lot at night, I get nervous that she’ll think I’m coming to rape her. [Source]

And there’s a flip side to this too, women who are raised to fear men. Granted… it’s about an Indian upbringing and we all know that shit is pretty crazy over there in comparison to other countries but with enough fear mongering and not enough facts, we’re going to quickly devolve into a state of anarchy without ever coming close to fixing the problem. We would in fact, just create new ones.

A final word:
Rape is not cool, the stuff we’re seeing from India and Pakistan in recent news is the stuff of nightmares, it’s good to raise awareness, it’s good to be outraged and mad as hell about it, but it will do no good what so ever to convince yourself and everyone else that the road to prosperity will be attained through fear of living a regular life. We already live with some degree of fear, the root issue is never easy to tackle… in fact I it will never stop, there will always be something fucked up happening somewhere that keeps us on our toes, but we seem to just want to create more fear instead of even attempting to deal with it.

Sources:

  • Crimes against the Heart: Recognizing the Wrongs of Forced Sex:

    http://digitalcommons.lmu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2320&context=llr

  • “Assaulted Tale” – Snopes.com:

    http://www.snopes.com/crime/prevent/rape.asp

  • Experts question widely circulated tips to avoid rape:

    http://extras.denverpost.com/life/email0307.htm

  • “Nine Tips” – Snopes.com

    http://www.snopes.com/crime/prevent/ninetips.asp

  • As a Girl in India, I Learned to Be Afraid of Men

    http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/01/as-a-girl-in-india-i-learned-to-be-afraid-of-men/266813/

Other:

  • Men Who Rape: The Psychology Of The Offender by A. Nicholas Groth, H. Jean Birnbaum, Edward M. Brecher:

    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/326969.Men_Who_Rape

  • Why ‘Liking’ Facebook virals makes scammers rich:

    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/facebook-spam-scam-secret-revealed.html

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