There are points in those articles that are flat-out absurd and some points that have validity. I'll leave it to your reason to figure out which are which. When I have more time, I'll clarify.
I wonder if these "they asked for it" types might actually be referring to individuals who get so drunk that they say actually do say "yes" when they would otherwise have said "no." That is, they're not incapacitated, just using impaired judgment. Isn't it possible that a person could get so drunk that they say a regrettable "yes"? Shouldn't adults be responsible enough not to allow themselves to reach such a state? I'm just playing devil's advocate here.
All you have to do is switch the genders to see that the “wander(ing) about drunk and not wearing many clothes -so he was asking for it” argument is totally preposterous.
There’s a case right now in England where a young gay man was raped after a night out with friends and no one is blaming the victim, at least not in the article that I read on advocate.com. These ‘critics’ need to blame the perpetrator for being a rapist and show some basic human decency.
You know, if I were a man, I'd be offended as hell by these kinds of "women must be more careful" idiot pontifications - because they're basically assuming that the default option for a man will be to think, "cool, she's nearly unconscious, I can have sex with her whether she wants it or not." Now, maybe THEY hang out with that kind of man, but I sure as hell don't. The kind of guys I hang around with would be just as repulsed by that mindset as I am. They're not just looking for any anonymous hole to stick it into; they kind of prefer a conscious, enthusiastically participating, consenting, partner.
It's up the same alley as that damfool Camille Paglia claiming that men can't resist their "animal impulses" so women have to do it for them by wearing burkas or whatever. Abject nonsense. Most men are not rapists by default. When other men routinely police that kind of behavior in their own ranks, then we'll see an end to rape.
In the case of the second article, she's not so much saying that women are asking for it. She makes the point in the beginning that we all agree rape is bad. She's just saying that the world is full of bad men and we should be careful. That's not a bad point. Especially for young people who think they're invincible.
Dammit, I hit post without being finished. Anyway, my other point is that women have been raped when safely at home in their own beds. Children are raped in their own homes. People who have broken no societal stricture are raped. How does this theory - that the victim is somehow at fault for a criminal committing a crime - account for THAT?
a 19 year old girl, living in london, was invited to a party. she was an american, new to the city, and living on her own. the only people she knew were those she had met throughout her travels.
although she had experience with drugs and alcohol, she did not realize the lethal potential of high octane british beer. she also did not realize that there were actually men that, although seemingly kind, would go so far as to drug a girl's drink.
she was not dressed in a provocative manner. she was not a virgin but, also, not a slut. it was 1986.
while in a near blackout state, she was raped that evening by a friendly man in his late 30's. afterward, he told her she deserved it, for being such a stupid, drunk whore.
that girl was me. my carlsberg special brew contained what was later rumored to be valium. i haven't thought about this incident for a long time. twenty years later, i am disgusted by the mere notion that, somehow, an incapacitated woman is asking for it.
say you're a pedestrian and you cross on a green and get hit by some fuckwad in a car who ran a red light. assume (for the sake of argument, OK?) that you could have avoided being hit by looking both ways. (i would argue that most of the time you can avoid getting hit by fuckwads by being careful crossing the street).
so, yes, the fuckwad was wrong, liable and, as stated, a fuckwad. but hey - you're the one lying in a pool of your blood, taking your last breath and whispering "i can't believe anyone thinks this was my fault".
yes, you should expect people to obey the rules. but i would never rely on anyone but myself for my own personal safety.
Okay, 39 cent answer: it's ridiculous to say a girl is asking for it by dressing sexy. But there's something to be said for the danger of throwing yourself at a stranger and acting flirtatiously slutty.
saying that people should be careful IS NOT THE SAME THING AS saying that people who are NOT careful deserve to be raped
That's a horrible tale, Kerri, and I'm sorry. Decent men are shamed by their rapist brethren.
I will point out that there is another perspective: not that women are "asking for it", but that women do need to be aware of their surroundings. That's not blaming the victim. That's pointing out that the first line of defense against crime (not just rape) is self-defense. There are rapists out there, including some reasonably presentable fellows in bars (in fact most rapists are as normal looking as you or I). Yes, they are responsible for their crimes, but women (and men) bear responsibility for being aware of their risk factors.
Because it's all well and good to say "men shouldn't rape women" but that's not going to help much when he's there in front of you.
That doesn't provide much solace to those who found out the hard way, though.
I'm a little troubled by the clearly implied advice of your comment on this piece. "Don't protect yourself because you shouldn't have to."
I know No Means No and of course it is rape to have sex with someone who is passed out, even if it seemed like they were going to give consent. But if a woman is a bit drunk and flirty and says she wants to have sex, is the man supposed to decline? Does she give up all responsibility if she has a couple of drinks in her? If it wasn't for alchohol a lot of us wouldn't have been born.
What's interesting in all of this is the implicit acceptance and encouragement of date rape in our alcohol-soaked culture.
What I'm really thinking of is the culture of the singles bar scene. Meeting a woman at a bar, the accepted ice-breaker is for the guy to buy her a drink. What this is saying, in my cynical mind, is "Will you inhibit your reasoning skills for me so I can get in your pants?" When the woman accepts, she's saying "I want to lower my inhibitions so it can be ok that I say I want sex with you, and chalk it up to being drunk if I have a problem with it later."
Viewed in this light, our whole singles dating scene is premised around institutionalized date rape, imo.
Now I feel like a joy-killing PC Nazi. Time to go wash my mind out with soap.
ann widdecombe said that? go google a picture of her, folks. ms. widdecombe is a devout catholic (switched from C of E when they started ordaining women) and has never ever EVER had sex with anyone. and who'd have her? she is seen as a joke in the UK for her right-wing views.
If you leave the front door unlocked when you leave the house, and someone comes in and steals your stuff, that burglar is 100% reponsible for the burglary and should be punished. If someone advises you to lock the door when you leave the house, would that offend you? Is that blaming the victims of burglaries?
Women should have the same freedom as our friend Hugh Foskett to get shit-assed drunk with her friends.
Hugh didn't go to his many parties and think "I could get raped if I drink too much, so I should probably be responsible and only have a couple of Jager shots and chat politely with the other party guests" Hell, no. Hugh, because he's male, gets to have fun and only worry that someday his drunken self will be photographed two years later and land him a political endorsement and his very own fan club. (Oh wait...)
For the girl, she risks getting raped by a guy who thinks she's an idiot for getting drunk or at the very least called all kinds of ugly names for being so irresponsible. Fuck that.
There was some ugly syntax/grammar there. Sorry about that.
POX @ 16, and most of the other posters: That locked door analogy isn't appropriate here.
Women have a right to dress any way they like. Many women who dress "sexy" are trying to attract the sexual attention of men. WANTED sexual attention.
Attracting unwanted attention might be a by-product of dressing "sexy," and that unwanted attention might turn into rape.
But the answer isn't to encourage conservative dress among women. The answer is to make sure that men understand they need explicit consent to make a sexual advance. And to make sure that men understand the penalties for ignoring a lack of consent are severe.
Rape is a mind-bendingly complex social phenomenon. It simply cannot be disscused adequately in this kind of forum. Many people don't have the time or energy to discuss it fully in any forum. I'm probably one of them.
However, a safe way to treat this subject simply is to posit that a sexual partner must be capable of granting consent, must give explicit consent and that consent for continuing sexual activity can be withdrawn at any time until the completion of the sexual encounter.
Follow those rules, and you'll never rape. Unsure? Keep it in your pants.
Yes, Fefe, you are 100% correct. But what should you do when you know that that's not going to happen? When you know that rapists exist, and use drink in public places, adulterated or not, to further the practice of their crimes? What do you DO? It's all very well to say "men shouldn't do it", but men, some men, shouldn't do lots of things they shouldn't do, like commit robberies and murders and whatnot. To pretend that being in the right is going to protect you from attack is silly.
it's simple: nothing can be done. nothing. the same as how nothing can be done about robbery or murder. you can try to scare the ever-living shit out of potential offenders with steep penalties, but that's about it. if a wacko wants to murder you, and wants to do it badly enough that he doesn't care about penalties, or thinks he's smart enough to get away with it, you're dead.
besides, the act of rape is only sometimes about sex. often, it's about power, and exerting power over someone else's will or agency. there's almost nothing we can do about those kinds of random attacks.
what we're talking about here is date rape, which usually happens within the context of familiarity, and which is much more common than stranger rape. women should not be made to feel that going out with friends dressed "sexy" is inviting rape. it's not. it's inviting the possibility of good sex and romance.
i think erostratus' rules are pretty good in date-rape situations, but i'd add another piece of advice: if you're too drunk to follow the rules, go home. if you stay, you've already taken the first step toward rape.
So what happens when a woman shows interest in a guy (who has no evil intent in mind), but gets steadily drunker until she is no longer capable of true consent? It's easy to say that the man shouldn't proceed with sex, but bear in mind that he's likely to be pretty trashed by that stage, too, and there has been no hint of "no" from her up to that point.
I'm sure this sort of thing has led to more than a few regrets in the morning, on both sides of the bed. Problem is, the woman may call rape because she regrets the result -- and so could the man, but realistically, that is much less likely to happen.
I don't in any way agree with the "she deserved it" line, but I really don't know if there's any decent solution to this scenario. Erostratus' rules are great in theory, but how do you decide when someone is no longer capable of consent? Sure, I can clearly see she's drunk, but how drunk is too drunk? Add to that my own impaired judgement and now non-existant sexual inhibitions...
I think I already answered the "How drunk is too drunk [to be incapable of granting consent]?" question:
"Unsure? Keep it in your pants."
And FEFE provided the answer to the issue of the transgressor's drunkeness:
"if you're too drunk to follow the rules, go home. if you stay, you've already taken the first step toward rape."
Of course it's not always that simple. But as simple rules to remember go, they don't come much better.
The rules are simple, yes. But people aren't. Do you honestly think guys are going to just go home, leaving a woman whom they think is interested, because they've had a few too many?
One of alcohol's primary effects is to mask it's own effects, and it does so even when you know about it. Drunk people typically think they are quite capable of reading and/or giving consent. They're not going to think, "Dammit, I've had 10 drinks now, so I really shouldn't have sex with this lovely, willing lady."
Simple rules that can't be applied don't get us anywhere.
(BTW, I'm not trying to be argumentative; I really wish there was a way to solve this.)
If you're capable of telling when you should and shouldn't drive, then you're capable of telling when someone has or hasn't given explicit consent. If you can tell when someone else shouldn't drive, you can tell when someone isn't capable of giving consent.
Do you posses the most basic skill of public drinking - the ability to gauge your own drunkeness to keep yourself alive? Then you posses all you need to keep yourself from raping.
If you don't, you shouldn't be out drinking in the first place. I'm sorry, but the rules stick. If you can't remember them, or if you fuck up and rape, it's all your fault. There's no blaming anyone else, certainly not the victim.
Hmm, maybe. Except the "I shouldn't drive" limit is really low, both by law and by my own feeling for it. Seems a bit restrictive to say no one should engage in sex when they've drunk enough not to drive (i.e. 3-4 drinks).
And please don't imply that I'm trying to blame the victim, or that I will "fuck up and rape". I just don't think the "unsure? don't do it" line will work in your typical drunken sexual encounter, even with reasonable people who have no interest in raping.
The thing people are confusing here is that they think that the problem with being raped while drunk is that you can't really consent. The problem with being drunk is that you can't easily fight off the person that's raping you, even if you can clearly say no.
Shit, is this what you tell your girl friends? "Go out and get falling down drunk and the rapists and drunk men who don't ask for consent will police themselves, and if they don't, well... no biggie, they should have policed themselves."
no, tahn, i'm saying that if you're a responsible drinker, you'll know where your limits are, and you should have a good idea what someone else's limits are.
and if you're unsure, just ask. if you're lucky enough that some woman is giving you all the signals, say, "i'd really like to fuck you, but i'm not sure you're sober enough to say yes."
okay, so maybe that doesn't work well with women. here's anoter perfect example of why it's good to be gay. you can say that to a man.
and now, i'm out of my depth.
Damn it, people. I think we agree on the following:
No one deserves to be raped.
You are the primary guardian of your own safety.
People who abdicate responsibility for their own safety are idiots, but we should do our best to protect their drunk asses.
We can't really expect people who want to hurt others to follow rules. Thus, all rules like these do is insult the sensibilities of good folks who actually care.
Women in the Darfur region of Sudan are being raped and then shot and/or set on fire. And we are supposed to get concerned about "date rape" in the UK - or here - of women who can't control their drinking and end up being sexually abused. It's hardly an issue worth writing about, or someone she knows needs to actually take responsibility for her drinking - and that's as far as it goes. When guys who shouldn't drink, because they lose control, sometimes they are either beaten up or killed. It's about the drinking; or so it seems. That can be remedied with a visit to one of those meetings no one seems to like to go to. It's a lot easier to run little "drunk of the week" photos and laugh about it all, eh? Well, at least we agree on something: bad things happen to drunks.
Erica, if I leave the door to my house unlocked and someone robs me, is the police officer who tells me to lock my house up blaming me? Or, is he giving me useful (albeit obvious) advise on how to protect myself?
Dan & Tim, The Stranger has a history of hiring really lame female writers like Erica Barnett & Inga Musico whose knee-jerk rants give feminism a bad name. I'm beginning to think this tendency is a form of subliminated sexism. Please, do the right thing for women and hire some smart, free-thinking females. I'm happy to recommend some.
Wait, wait. So ... women are houses ... and we should start locking up our pussies?
Erostratus, by your standards, the vast majority of sexually active women in college are serial rapists. There sure are a ton of guys with a little or a lot of alcohol on board having sex, and if they cried rape, they'd be laughed off campus.
What looks like the more reasonable posters on this thread agree that rape is bad and that no means no. We're also talking about a felony charge, just the accusation of which can ruin someone's life (ask Adam Lack of Brown). Implied in all these arguments are different standards and penalties more men and women, and if that's really the case, someone better write it down. Who here is ready to stand up and explicitly say, I want different laws for men and women ?
A man (or woman) who puts a drug surreptitiously in someone's drink for the implied purpose of rendering the recipient unconscious or unable to fight back, is a rapist. Ignoring "No, stop" also makes you a rapist. If agreeing to sex, including agreeing through the act, while intoxicated by drinks you bought yourself and drank without urging, makes the other person a rapist, are you willing to see both sexes prosecuted with equal vigor for this? And does it cancel out if both parties got drunk on their own, because, who was raping who? If a drunk woman is not liable for her actions, do we scrap penalties for drunk driving females? Can I get a gang of female bank robbers drunk, and have them innocent due to 'not being liable?'
If you want to hear the closest thing to a man saying, 'hey, she deserved it because of how she dressed.' it's a woman or man saying, "hey, he should have checked her blood alcohol level first, whether she agreed or not, he's a felon."
Sorry, by 'implied,' I meant 'implicit,' or should have been 'specific.'
I just don't understand what it is about the issue of rape that seems to make people incapable of holding the following two ideas in their mind.
1) Rapeing a woman is wrong no matter what she is wearing, where she is walking or what she is doing (short of consenting to sex).
2) Women, like everyone else, should avoid behaving in ways that make crimes particularly likely to occur. This is just common sense and normal responsible behavior.
Wearing a mini-skirt and walking through a particularly bad neighborhood at 2am is a great deal like wearing colors the belong to an opposing gang and walking through the same environment. In both cases you *should* be able to wear those clothes freely. Getting murdered because you wore the wrong colors and getting raped because you wore the wrong clothes are both horrific crimes that are not made 'ok' because of the provocation. However, in both cases the individuals were making idiotic/ignorant choices and should have avoided putting themselves at risk.
Yes it sucks that women are at particular risk for rape. However, it makes no sense to deny this fact and avoid taking reasonable precautions even thought you shouldn't have to.
Having said this I do agree that these kinds of remarks have too often been used to excuse rapists. I also agree these remarks could have been phrased better to avoid this implication. However, the fact that the rapist is the one who is doing the real wrong doesn't mean that one can't criticize women for putting themselves in situations likely to result in rape the same way you can criticize men for wearing the wrong clothes in gang territory.
BUT YES LIKE EVERYONE ELSE WOMEN HAVE TO (UNFORTUNATELY) ADJUST THEIR BEHAVIOR AS A RESULT OF CRIMINALS.
Unless you would never dream of criticizing someone who left their home unlocked, left their expensive laptop visible on their car seat, knowingly wore the wrong colors through gang territory, loudly expressed an offensive political opinion in the wrong bar, or hit on the big angry street thugs girlfriend you are being inconsistent to apply a different standard when it comes to women.
Yes, I agree we ought to be more skeptical when people criticize women for unsafe behavior as unlike the other situations they may be trying to avoid cracking down on the law breaking or trying to keep women from behaving in promiscuous ways (and the comments you quote do raise my suspicions) but your response suggested more than just a mistrust of the motivations but a whole scale rejection of applying the same good sense we apply to other crimes to rape.
Well said, Peter. I think we can boil a lot of it down to "recognition of a danger's existance, and action to avoid that danger, does not equal approval of that danger's existance."
Locking your car does not empower car theives, nor does it promote a culture of car theft.
iawp - and I think this is a really good, succinct statement that summarizes how I feel about most of erica's male-bashing posts: "a whole scale rejection of applying the same good sense we apply to other(s)"
it's probably wise for women to control their alcohol content, and not accept drinks from strangers.
but what we're talking about here is blame, and a victim of a sexual assault bears no blame for being raped. women who are raped are not stupid. and, you can't compare a woman dressing "sexy" to a laptop being left visible in a car.
keep in mind that women are encouraged to dress sexy by men they want to attract. what we're talking about here is unwanted sexual attention.
i really don't think it's too hard to memorize those rules, and expect oneself to follow them. i think they're simple.
and i think that people who don't think they work are trying to dodge responsibility.
I'm not sure which 'rules' you're referring to Erostratus; if you mean 'no means no,' nobody on this thread is contesting that. I'd still like some feedback on my questions regarding culpability vis a vis self -induced alcohol intake, though.
If you mean, 'no matter what they do, nobody deserves to be raped,' everyone on this thread also agrees. Saying 'nobody who gets raped is stupid' puts everyone else in the position of calling a (figurative) rape victim 'stupid,' which....not today. Some rape victims do stupid things, however. A previous poster mentioned wearing the wrong colors in gang territory, which is not a crime, but just isn't smart.
This is not about blame, the whole thread started because Erica aparently didn't want the British government even telling women to be careful, because they shouldn't have to. Well, there are a lot of things, including rape, we all shouldn't have to worry about, and if you carry the attitude, 'that's a crime, and in a perfect world, I wouldn't even have to think about it' and act accordingly, you're stupid. Yes, you are.
If parents told a newly driving-child, "Son, reckless driving is illegal, and is worrisome to have to think about, so don't bother with your seatbelt, and we're not gonna worry about insurance," we would call them simpletons, at best.
Pretty much every woman with two functioning brain cells who wasn't reared in an all-female commune knows to be aware of her surroundings, regard every male as a potential rapist (and that is sad), not be alone in dodgy neighborhoods, etc., etc., ad nauseum. But my point above - and I still hold to it - is that none of those praise-worthy efforts to keep herself safe will keep her 100% safe. Women are raped at home in their own beds. Women wearing burkhas are raped. Infants are raped. Accepting the whole "well, she wasn't CAREFUL enough" argument is a slippery slope to blaming women for having vaginas.
Seriously. The one to blame for committing a crime is the criminal. Yes, a woman has a responsibility to protect herself, but it also needs to be understood that until OTHER men (I'm not talking about rapists and potential rapists, I'm talking about the vast majority of men, who are decent people) police their brethren and make it totally unacceptable to talk about rape, brag about nonconsensual sex, take pride in getting girls too fucked up to say no - until that happens, we have no hope of stopping rape.
Personally, I've made it to age 47 (relatively) inviolate by being exceedingly wary. But that didn't do me any good at home in my own goddam bed when I was 11 years old. And I will not be embarrassed or ashamed about that; there was literally no way to protect myself from that. Neither should any other victim of rape be made to feel that if only they'd done this, or that, or the other, it wouldn't have happened. Because sometimes, not a goddam thing the victim could have done would have prevented the crime.
Unfortunately, Geni, anyone who has been a victim of a crime or accident goes over and over the events that lead up to it and thinks about everything they could have done differently. Not fair, not productive, but true nonetheless.
I cannot believe that I am saying this as though it makes anything defensible, but I know many people who take no responsibility for their personal safety especially when alcohol or drugs are involved. Men and women, regardless of what they wear, who talk and flirt and make-out and get into cars and accept invitations to party at houses they've never been to before with strangers. Some have ingoninious alcohol tolerance that leaves them upright, walking, and talking despite being black-out drunk.
I am a feminist to the core and it would be great if men didn't engender a culture in which it's okay to even joke about taking advantage of someone incapacitated by drugs or alcohol or talk about women like they're nothing more than walking vaginas. However, everyone has to take some responsibility for their own personal safety and know that it doesn't always work. Bad things happen to people.
Nevertheless, I wear light and reflective clothing when I walk my dogs at night and hope for the best. Just like when I go out at night, I wear whatever I want, but I also know my limit. Plus, I choose to hang out places where bartenders call cabs for customers and where I can stay inside until it arrives.
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