April 10, 2011

A "Don't Get Raped" Campaign (maybe) Reduces Rapes; A "Don't Rape" Campaign Reduces Rapists

Before I get into addressing some of the feedback on my earlier post about rape, I just want to lay down some statistics that I pulled from the U.S. Department of Justice's National Criminal Victimization Study (2005) and 1997 Sex Offense and Offenders Study:
  • 73% of sexual assaults are committed by a non-stranger 
    • 38% of rapists are friends or acquaintances of the victim
    • 28% are intimate partners of the victim
    • 7% are relatives of the victim
  • 6 in 10 rapes occur in the home of the victim, or in the home of a friend or relative of the victim.  
In discussing rape, we need to get away from the idea that rapists are hiding in parking garages or in the often-called-upon "dark alley."  We need to stop making the assumption that rape, on the whole, happens when someone leaves a bar with a stranger.  These rapes do happen, and are still entirely problematic, but they are not the norm.  As the statistics show, most victims know their rapist, and most rapes occur in a home setting.  Statistically, you are more likely to be raped by your boyfriend or husband than you are by a stranger.  Hanging at home or at a friend's house puts you at more risk for rape than going out to a bar.  The first thing we need to be able to do if we want to have honest, open discussion about rape is challenge the assumptions we have about where rape happens and who commits it.  

In the comments on Thursday's post, a lot of people raised the point that it is ignorant and dangerous to assume that women can do nothing to prevent, or at least decrease the likelihood, of being raped.  Obviously, people of all genders should work to protect their own general safety.  People should listen to their intuition in situations that make them feel unsafe or uncomfortable.  People should surround themselves with friends and family that look after each others' best interests.  Everyone everywhere should be expected to use good judgement in how they conduct themselves in day-to-day life.  I think most people already do; it's human nature.

Despite this fact, which I very much believe to be true, I stand by my assertion that, on the whole, there is no way for women to prevent rape.  Using good judgement is great, but in a world where most rapes are committed by acquaintances of the victim in a home environment, judgement isn't really going to be helpful in preventing rape.  It is easy to pull the "good judgment prevents rape" line of thinking in an abstract argument, but in reality, should I avoid Uncle Jim's house because he is statistically more likely to rape me there?  Should I never have a boyfriend due to the high degree of rapes that are committed by intimate partners?  The "judgement prevents rape" argument falters in reality, at least 73% of the time.  

Perhaps there is something women can do to prevent being raped by the 27% of rapists who are strangers-- to avoid being attacked in one of the 4 in 10 rapes that occur outside the home.  I threw this question around with a lot of people this weekend, and none of us could really come up with a technique that seemed particularly convincing or effective.  For the most part, people act in the interest of their own safety, regardless of gender.  We could say, "Stay out of that dark alley!" but you probably already are for the most part.  Maybe you should avoid hitchhiking on rural interstates alone at night, but honestly, I don't think anyone even does that anymore outside of horror movies.  Any of the things that we could think of suggesting had nothing to do with rape at all, but instead with protecting general personal safety, which is something people of both genders do already for the most part.  Perhaps you venture into a dark alley from time to time, but there is not doubt you calculate the perceived risk and reward before doing so.

All of the gendered suggestions seemed moot as well.  Should women dress more modestly to avoid being raped by strangers?  This idea is crap.  People are raped in sexy, going out ensembles, but they are also raped in sweatpants, baggy tee shirts, burqas, and suits.  Dress does not imply consent, and historically rapists do not appear to put much thought into what a victim is wearing in deciding if they should rape them or not.   

Someone raised the point that perhaps women and girls should avoid hanging out unsupervised in all-male groups, or hanging out one-on-one with male friends.  This argument is incredibly insulting to men.  It implies that men have no moral compass that would incite them to stop one friend from raping another, and that they are entirely out of control of their ability to monitor their own behavior.  If these implications are true, then yes, women should avoid spending time in isolation with men.  If these statements are untrue, then this suggestion is just as useless as the rest.  Readers, you can asses the validity of these implications on your own.  I think the conclusion is pretty obvious.   

And finally, yes, maybe you could take a self-defense class.  This might help you fight your way out of a rape situation.  If you succeed in fighting off an attacker, perhaps you will not get raped.  But there is still a rapist out there, and there are still lots of women who are unqualified or physically incapable of fighting off an attacker.  You might have protected yourself, but this action does little to stop rape on the whole. 

So yes, I honestly do believe that there is nothing women can do to protect themselves from rape.  Many people, including many women, regard this view as radical and stupid.  I think a lot of this has to do with fear.  It is not comforting to hear that there is nothing that you-- as a rational, thoughtful woman-- can do to avoid being raped.  I understand the scary nature of this thought, but I do not recognize fear as sound reasoning for rejecting truth.

Currently, society puts an emphasis on "don't get raped" as opposed to "don't rape."  Logically, I think it would make sense to invert this mode of thinking.  Most of the (above stated) techniques suggested by the "don't get raped" camp are useless.  They rarely succeed in helping people to avoid or escape rape, and even when they do, they contribute almost nothing to the cause of ending rape as a whole.

Addressing rape from the supply-side seems like a more logical and effective method.  Right now, we make efforts to implement an assortment of semi-useless techniques that are rarely effective and contribute nothing to actually eradicating the act of rape on the whole.  Addressing rape from a "don't rape" perspective makes much more sense, as it pays off manifold in the long term.  A "don't rape" campaign could reduce the number of rapists, whereas a "don't get raped" technique merely quells the number of rapes.  It seems pretty obvious to me which one would be a more worthwhile expenditure of energy, money, and time.  It also seems pretty obvious to me which one would reduce rape in the long run.

I'll post later this week with some thoughts on what I think a "don't rape" campaign could look like.  If you have any thoughts on this, feel free to leave them in the comments.  

112 comments:

  1. my friends in charleston have been flyer bombing the city with a 'don't rape' campaign! i would be helping if i were there and will definitely be when i get back. included are the 'no means no' graphic and some others about how if she's drunk, it's rape; if she's unconscious, it's rape; etc. i guess it's basically a 'learning about consent' campaign, but i'm so proud of them. we also talk a lot about consent within our own community, and actually i'd never even heard of the concept until i met them.

    since such a high proportion of rapes are date rapes and can be traced back to a lack of understanding of consent, i think teaching consent is really valuable.

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  2. A "don't rape" campaign seems so simple, and yet it seems like people would rather engage in victim-blaming and "don't get raped" conversations because they don't have to take responsibility for their behavior.

    Also, if the perspective shifted to "don't rape," it would also provide more incentive to get the backlogs of rape kits tested in many cities, thereby catching the rapists, preventing more rapes, and making people accountable for their actions. So long as we live in a "prevent rape" society, those backlogs are probably sticking around for awhile.

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  3. also, good consent generally leads to better sex, so...

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  4. Damn straight, Jamie. We don't tell people to stop earning money or buying stuff in order to not be robbed, so why does this "don't get raped" shit keep gaining ground?

    Why should I live in fear and expend an inordinate amount of--ultimately ineffective--energy trying to keep myself out of the clutches of rapists? They should (and, ideally, would) keep their sexual organs to themselves.

    Put the blame where it belongs, people.

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  5. I don't think most rapist rape for sex, so the whole notion of "The more skimpy your clothes are, the more likely you are to get raped" is crap. Most rapists get off on dominating and having complete control over their victim. I kinda find it insulting for people to assume that it's the woman's job to prevent rape, not only because it's damn near impossible, but also because men can also be victims of rape.

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  6. I'd like to also state that "don't get rape" can make women who are raped feel like it was their fault. "how could I let this happen? what did I do wrong to make him rape me"

    I mean, I would never tell someone how to not get hit by a drunk driver.

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  7. Thank you for this. I am having the most incredibly frustrating argument with a classmate on my Facebook because I posted a link to your original article. He's pushing it into a second amendment issue, and keeps putting forward this idea that you just can't change the "deranged" individuals who rape people. He is completely unable to conceptualize rapists as something other than mouth-breathing lunatics, it seems like. Getting people to recognize that that's not the case is so very much a part of the battle.

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  8. When I first thought about what a "don't rape campaign" would be like to myself, I couldn't fathom what that would involve apart from "HEY, DON'T RAPE" and now I've more or less formed an idea from this article & these comments. Because, it's not that simple as we think. Indeed, it would involve an affirmation of the definition of rape, given how misinformed society is on this matter. It would basically be an education of the population about rape, under what circumstances it occurs, other realities of rape with talks from 'rape survivors' and of course, the statistics mentioned in the article.

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  9. This is a great post. A lot of the time people think of rape as something violent and random, happening in unsafe situations, but it is also rape when a girl says to her boyfriend "no, I don't want to," and he does anyway, or when a girl at a party is too drunk to say no. As someone else mentioned, it's important for people to be taught more about what consent actually means - just because she said yes before doesn't mean she's obligated to do so again. Just because she's your partner doesn't deprive her of the right to say no.

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  10. This is the smartest post I've seen on why "don't get raped" tactics simply don't work. I especially love the distinction you make between taking sensible steps to generally guarantee your safety and preventing rape. I think it's exactly that distinction that's missed by people who draw comparisons between preventing rape and preventing burglary.

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  11. I pretty much agree with everything you said here, but what about avoiding date rape drugs? They are usually planted in drinks, which is why you're not supposed to drink from open containers at parties. There are plenty of stories of this kind, even if they aren't the majority. It's still never a victim's fault, obviously, but basic safety precautions (the "good judgement" you mentioned) that should be common knowledge aren't. Education is important- my mother, who grew up in the 60s, had a friend that didn't even know what sex was and, as a result, didn't understand what was even happening when her boyfriend and his friends had sex with her until she was visibly pregnant months later. This situation is probably more common in developing countries, but it is still a reality.

    Also, I think all women should be well versed in self defense. I took a class or two- if every woman knew how to get out of a strangle grip or use their hips to thrust someone off of them, I feel like we'd all be at least a little safer and feel more secure.

    Of course the focus should be on rapists, and it is stupid that anyone should even have to worry about getting raped. I agree with you on that. Unfortunately, however, rape is a reality and it's important for women to utilize whatever resources we do have to protect ourselves, even if there aren't very many and they only apply to specific circumstances. While no one should ever get robbed, it doesn't hurt to have an alarm, even though it's not a guaranteed (or even likely) fix.

    I should also point out that men do suffer from sexual assault, though not as frequently as women, and that they shouldn't be excluded from this conversation.

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  12. excellent post.

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  13. I thinking switching the tactic to "don't rape" is a move in the right direction. But in order for that message to sink in, we really need to start changing social attitudes toward women. American culture is very "guy oriented," violent, and still very patriarchal, especially in more traditional, conservative communities. Many men are still raised with a "women are inferior" or "women make cute pets" mentality. There's an insidious kind of misogyny that permeates everything, from religious life, to politics, to pop culture.

    To counteract rape, you really need to counteract unhealthy attitudes about women, sexuality and violence. And well, good luck with that.

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  14. Currently, society puts an emphasis on "don't get raped" as opposed to "don't rape."
    It also puts an emphasis on "don't get robbed" rather than "don't rob", and "don't get burgled" instead of "don't burgle".

    I don't see you railing against either of those. Why is guarding against robbery or burglary "human nature", but guarding against rape some implicit attack on women?

    Logically, I think it would make sense to invert this mode of thinking. Most of the (above stated) techniques suggested by the "don't get raped" camp are useless.
    They're a hell of a lot more successful than imploring criminals not to be criminals "just because", which is all you're offering as an alternative.

    They rarely succeed in helping people to avoid or escape rape, and even when they do, they contribute almost nothing to the cause of ending rape as a whole.
    That's a cute claim. Is it actually true?

    "In 556 rape/attempted rape incidents where victims resisted in some way, 54 percent of the rape attempts were completed, but only 19 percent of rape attempts with resisting victims were completed after the victim took SP actions [...]. In contrast, among the 177 incidents involving victims who did not resist, 88 percent of incidents resulted in rape completion [...]. Overall, victim SP during rape attempts was associated with significantly lower risks of rape completion and with slightly higher risks of serious nonsexual injuries as compared to taking no SP actions."

    Roughly quadrupling the chance that a rape-in-progress stops short of an actual rape strongly suggests that your claim that self-protection measures "rarely succeed in helping people to avoid or escape rape" is simply not true.

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  15. This is brilliant. Our current efforts to stifle rape are the equivalent of a "Don't get hit by drunk drivers" campaign wherein we discourage driving after 11:00 and tell people to slow down when near bars, all while never saying a word to the public about the scourge of drunken drivers.

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  16. DrPizza- I will respond to your comments when you stop interjecting them with condescending phrases like "this is a cute claim."

    i have severe doubts that you are actually interested in furthering discourse surrounding rape at all.

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  17. I can't agree with this post anymore. My best friend was raped this past December by someone we thought was a friend. We were at his apartment and she got too drunk, passed out, and was taken advantage of.

    I can't tell you how many times I've heard from people (even her friends) that she shouldn't have drank that much, and if she hadn't it wouldn't have happened. The (male) head of Judicial Affairs at our college went as far as questioning me why I left her passed out at his (our friends) apartment and recommended that she "get new friends."

    It's this entire line of victim-blaming logic that makes me sad to be part of a society that automatically assumes that rape and sexual assault does not happen to regular people.

    I'm glad you are speaking up for victims everywhere.

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  18. I think it's important to teach both sides of this - teach people some preventative measures and teach people not to rape. Obviously, rape is NEVER the victim's fault. It doesn't matter how much you drank, what you wore, etc. It's never justifiable to rape, and a lot of the time people do put partial blame on the victim. We, as a society, need to get out of this mentality and having a "Don't rape" campaign would be a great start.

    However, just because it's not the victim's fault, doesn't mean you can't teach people some preventative ways to at least decrease their chances of rape (such as not leaving your drinks unattended at parties). Just because you might know the rapist, doesn't mean there's no way to at least decrease the likelihood of rape.

    Ultimately, I think the "don't rape" campaign is essential to combating this crime, but I don't think it would be helpful to the cause to completely write-off preventative measures as well. I also think Marina and DrPizza made some good points and I would love to see your replies to them. Just because DrPizza went about it the wrong way doesn't mean you shouldn't address their comments, because I really want to hear you opinion on this matter after taking into account some of the comments!

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  19. Hi Jamie, long-time fan of your work.

    I can see where you're coming from, and I can see what you're trying to achieve. I think such a program would do *some* good, especially with the fratboy crowd that somehow manages to make a distinction between non-consent and rape.

    However (yes, the big however), I suspect that it would not, and probably would never, reach a fair share of the rapists out there.

    For example, on my college campus we had a rather charming young man by the name of "big" Jim Dealy, better known as the BFO or Big Fucking Ogre. He was 6'4", 250 lbs, and heartily enjoyed terrorizing women. He was, simply, a complete and utter sociopath. I mean, the guy went around groping girls at a White Ribbon Campaign event. He was that deranged. He was only contained via an array of legal and administrative means, and in one case by physical violence. Thankfully, he managed to cross far too many lines in short order and got sent to jail for attempted assault.

    These are some of the people you will unfortunately have to deal with, and no education campaign will ever change them. They don't justify their actions because they have no conscience to justify to, and they do not fear consequences. The only thing that sways them is the threat of immediate physical harm and the possibility of boredom.

    I'm not poo-pooing your idea, mind you. I think it's a great step in the right direction. However, you still have to find a way of dealing with the monsters.

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  21. Jamie: This is perfection. Thank you.

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  22. While I completely agree with you on every point you give; I can't help but see a hole in your argument.
    This campaign proposal adresses itsself to rational thinking (male) people.
    What about the mentally disturbed people, recidivists etc? The people who won't see that rape = rape? They won't stop doing it. (Perhaps it will become clear when I ssee your actual campaign proposal.)

    Also, to the people who say that protecting yourself from being raped is at the same level as protecting yourself from being robbed and burglared: that's (as we say in Belgium) comparing oranges with lemons.
    And yet I find myself partly agreeing with you!
    Yes, both actions are violent and about the power they implement. But I think rape is the highest on the scale of the attacking of self-worth (I can't seem to find the right word here, but what I mean is the "human-ness"). Having sex is something that's meant to be voluntary, which is of course far from the case with rape. But even more is it a matter of intimacy. Of course, these two factors go together most of the time. With the act of rape, the private becomes public (in the way that just anyone can assume they can have sex with you).

    (English isn't my mothertongue and I find it very difficult to put my thoughts into words - even in Dutch - but I hope I get my point across.)

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  23. I tried writing a longer comment yesterday. I wanted to add a problem, in that a lot of men who have committed rape do not view their behaviors as rape, even when they meet all legal definitions. (Here I'm not necessarily talking about the mentally ill, which I think is a legitimate concern but also goes back to Jaime's point about shifting the conversation away from scary people lurking in corners. In fact, I wonder if any public campaign would reach a person in that state of mind.)

    I wrote a research paper last quarter about rape prevention programs aimed toward men, and some of the research I read shows that men respond defensively and antagonistically toward being spoken to as though they are rapists or potential rapists, even if it is true. So the message backfires. What seems to be more effective is talking to men as though they are potential allies who can intervene in risky situations, help rape victims, and stand up in their peer groups to denounce rape jokes and any endorsement of using coercion or intoxication to have sex. People in those programs end up connecting this stuff to their own behavior.

    Anyway, wanted to share this, I am totally in support of this kind of work.

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  24. I read about this in my newspaper this morning and was reminded of your last post, so I figured I would come post it here!

    slutwalktoronto.com

    Basically, a police officer lecturing at an Ontario university said that in order to avoid being raped, women should avoid dressing like "sluts" (I don't know if that's a direct quote, but it was what was insinuated). Many students were unhappy with that comment and formed the Slut Walk in protest. The name leaves something to be desired (although it definitely gets the point across) but I think the initiative is pretty great, and it certainly got a massive amount of attention here.

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  25. Great article.
    Also, as a side note to the bit about dress a Federal Commission on Crime of Violence Study found most convicted rapists do not remember what their victim was wearing.

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  26. @Jamie: I think my first comment exceeded the allowed character limit. I guess I really am too verbose for my own good! Before I go on, I want to thank you for revisiting this issue in such a thoughtful way! Here is yesterday's comment mostly reconstructed and cut into two pieces.

    If the purpose of many rapes is not sex qua sex, but some manner of eroticism of domination, a reasonable assertion, then it seems that programs for rape prevention would gain much from examining the practices for preventing other dysfunctional forms of sexuality. Pedophilia comes first to mind. Of course, as Insomniacdee notes, if we are to begin discussing dysfunctional forms of sexuality, a good first step would be the admission that various forms of sexuality are indeed normative.

    @Marina: The problem is, I would imagine at some point you trust your significant other enough to drink things that they provide you. I wouldn't even be surprised if you would go so far as to provide similar trust to your friends. I believe that the point that Jamie is making is that such trust isn't bad, in fact it is probably socially healthy. What is bad is that some people abuse that trust to commit acquaintance rapes. While there are beneficial steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of one being raped, to expect the potential victim to guard against all possible rapists would be to condemn them to a life of (sadly justifiable but certainly unhealthy) paranoia, making them a victim of their own desire to avoid becoming a victim.

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  27. @DrPizza: I don't have Jamie's classy attitude, so I'll hazard a response:

    While there are precautions we take in the hopes of deterring a burglar, should we become victims of a burglary society recognizes us as such. For example, often in the school paper crime blurb I see that students have their unattended possessions stolen from, for example, the library. I never see them listed as "'stolen,' but by leaving it there it was like they wanted to give it away." To take another tactic, suppose one was particularly offended by your comment, and decided that the appropriate way to respond would be to steal your computer. This would be recognized clearly as a morally reprehensible case of theft, neither judges nor public opinion would wonder whether your comments were so provocative as to warrant the theft of your computer. Hopefully you see the difference between this and the case of rape, where the victims clothes and state of intoxication somehow are used to call into question the morality of the crime.

    I agree on your second point, we need to enforce the laws against rape more vigilantly in order to provide criminals with additional reasons not to rape people. However, I do believe that there are "mostly decent" people out there who commit rapes because a method of rape is considered culturally normative. This seems to be related to the "culture of rape" about which you may have heard. For example, some people may believe that plying a woman (or man, if that's your thing) with alcohol and promises is simply a good woo-ing technique, but taken too far these presumably well-ish intentioned people actually commit rapes. It is these hypothetical "mostly decent" people who could use a good explaining of the concept of rape I believe.

    The study you linked was a) lacking in cute explanatory tables and b) very long, so I only skimmed it. However, the most obvious question that occurs to me is what sort of sample bias is built into their study. Since they are examining the efficacy of resistance, are they even going to include cases of rapes where the victim does not have this option, due to chemical or other duress? I would imagine no. I would further speculate that their data is limited to stranger rapes, as disentangling relevant data on abuse suffered in the course of resisting a rape seems like an experimental procedural nightmare in the context of an overarching abusing relationship. Of course, they do not address the specifics of which types of rapes constitute the majority of their data as far as I could see, which seems to be a major weakness in the presentation of this study. If their results only apply to the 23% of rapes which are "stranger-in-the-bushes rapes," then the relevancy of their data to the larger discussion becomes severely limited.

    Now I need to go to class, so I can discuss rape some more. This is getting quite depressing actually, but too important to ignore until someone, why not you Jamie ;), fixes it.

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  28. @Kenny: That's why I made the point that the preventative measures I listed are not always- or even usually- effective. Acquaintance rapes, as you called them, are one of the few types of rape that do have some preventative steps one can take. I know the safety precautions I mentioned earlier are not all-encompassing, but they're still important.

    There is no dichotomy between people protecting themselves to the best of their abilities and rapists getting all the blame. Rapists should always get all the blame- it's always 100% the rapist's fault. Period. I do, however, think that all people should engage in basic education about rape: date rape drugs, your rights (no means no, good consent, etc), self defense, and so on. I don't think advising people to take basic precautions like these is condemning them to a life of paranoia. That being said, I still strongly agree with Jamie's call for more emphasis on a "don't rape" campaign, as opposed to society's current "don't get raped" campaign.

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  29. Hey all, other women are looking at this on their campuses and there is concern: http://www.publicintegrity.org/articles/entry/3132/

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  30. Part 1:

    @DrPizza: I don't have Jamie's classy attitude, so I'll hazard a response:
    I'm not sure there's much that's classy in making awfully convenient deflections instead of actually responding to the substance of a post.

    While there are precautions we take in the hopes of deterring a burglar, should we become victims of a burglary society recognizes us as such.
    I don't think that's true at all. I think that the response to people who, for example, leave computers unattended in cafes or libraries, or who leave valuable items on the front seat of their car, or who don't bother locking the doors and windows to their houses, are generally met with a response of "What did you expect to happen?". Such behaviours are widely seen as inviting the acts of opportunistic criminals. That is, we know that opportunistic criminals exist, so it's our fault, in some sense, that we provide the opportunity.

    And yet, this is not regarded as some great injustice, nor is it regarded as a defence of the criminals. No-one would pretend that the opportunistic criminals should have committed these crimes, and no-one maintains that it dimnishes the criminality of those acts.

    So why is it that the feminist orthodoxy insists that a similar attitude is somehow unacceptable in the specific case of rape? Why are simple measures to deny opportunity reflexively regarded as blaming the victim and defending the rapist?

    I'm not saying that people don't ever blame the victim. There are certainly those that claim "she deserved it", which essentially amounts to blaming the victim. But "Don't give opportunists an opportunity" is a very different matter.

    Hopefully you see the difference between this and the case of rape, where the victims clothes and state of intoxication somehow are used to call into question the morality of the crime.
    I think a lot of the time that difference exists only in the mind of the feminist. You can be critical of someone for creating the opportunity without claiming that the victim deserved to be victimized.

    I agree on your second point, we need to enforce the laws against rape more vigilantly in order to provide criminals with additional reasons not to rape people. However, I do believe that there are "mostly decent" people out there who commit rapes because a method of rape is considered culturally normative. This seems to be related to the "culture of rape" about which you may have heard. For example, some people may believe that plying a woman (or man, if that's your thing) with alcohol and promises is simply a good woo-ing technique, but taken too far these presumably well-ish intentioned people actually commit rapes. It is these hypothetical "mostly decent" people who could use a good explaining of the concept of rape I believe.
    I think this phenomenon ("date rape" and other variatons) is so completely different to "dark alley rape" or "violent husband rape" as to be irrelevant.

    For one, the motivation is plainly different. The claim is made that "traditional" rapes are about asserting power and dominance and not about the sex act per se. While I find that notion problematic in general (for a range of reasons), I think it's particularly absurd in the case of "date rape". The purpose of the rape act in those situations is plainly sexual gratification. There's no assertion of dominance because the victim is incapacitated and unaware that they are even being dominated. They're simply as a warm body with which a sex act can be performed.

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  31. Part 2:

    I think also that such acts also make the whole notion of consent problematic. You're asking the man to acknowledge that his would-be sexual partner is too incapacitated through drink or drugs to provide consent, even though the man himself may well be similarly impaired and unable to even make a reasonable evaluation in the first place. It seems unreasonably asymmetrical to maintain that one party must be of sufficiently sound mind to recognize that the consent they have been given is meaningless due to lack of capacity to consent. After all, we've already seen an outright rejection of the suggestion that women not get so impaired through drink or drugs that they're unable to provide consent. That's an unacceptable restriction on their lifestyle. So how can their "attackers" be held to a different, higher standard?

    Both parties are subject to a self-inflicted intellectual impairment, and both parties had sex with someone lacking the capacity to consent as a result of that impairment. Claiming that only one is the rapist, and that the other is an entirely blameless victim, does not strike me as realistic or equitable. If one is the rapist, then both are.

    Obviously, not every such act follows this pattern. The attacker might remain stone cold sober, and the victim's impairment might not be self-inflicted (as a result of a spiked drink). This obviously changes the dynamic substantially--though I think it still remains primarily sexual in nature.

    I wouldn't be surprised if these sexually motivated attacks would be decreased by destigmatizing (and decriminalizing) prostitution. There is reasonably convincing evidence that criminalizing prostitution resulted in an increase in rapes in Queensland, Australia, and it's likely that the reverse pattern would already be seen. Feminists are, of course, divided on the issue of prostitution, but more fundamentally oppose such responses because they recognize the sexualized nature of the rape act--a nature that the orthodox feminist stance totally denies.

    The study you linked was a) lacking in cute explanatory tables and b) very long, so I only skimmed it. However, the most obvious question that occurs to me is what sort of sample bias is built into their study.
    Not much, and they performed appropriate statistical analysis to correct for it.

    Since they are examining the efficacy of resistance, are they even going to include cases of rapes where the victim does not have this option, due to chemical or other duress? I would imagine no. I would further speculate that their data is limited to stranger rapes, as disentangling relevant data on abuse suffered in the course of resisting a rape seems like an experimental procedural nightmare in the context of an overarching abusing relationship. Of course, they do not address the specifics of which types of rapes constitute the majority of their data as far as I could see, which seems to be a major weakness in the presentation of this study. If their results only apply to the 23% of rapes which are "stranger-in-the-bushes rapes," then the relevancy of their data to the larger discussion becomes severely limited.
    Rather than making incorrect speculations, why not read the tables in the PDF? Honestly, this is quite a ridiculous stance you've taken. 3% of offenders were family members, 28% of offenders were sexual partners (husbands/boyfriends), 3% were colleagues, 26% of offenders were otherwise known to the victim but not in the family, sexual partner, or work categories. It doesn't, unfortunately, describe whether the victims were impaired through drink or drugs, but I'm not sure that matters; the point of the statistics I provide were specifically to debunk Jamie's claim that resistance is futile. It isn't.

    Also notable: 48% of offenders were influenced by a substance of some kind. This alone undermines attempts to appeal to would-be rapists, I think--a substantial number of rapists are not rational actors anyway.

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  32. There's an interesting, if heart rendering discussion of victim blaming regarding human trafficking in the first part of "Sold" a documentary available on youtube.

    Warning: the documentary contains graphic descriptions of the practices of human traffickers. There is some seriously disturbing content regarding underage participants (who are essentially slaves) in the sex industry.

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  33. @Marina: I think we are probably on the same page. However, while techniques to cope with sexual assault are good resources which we ought make available, I think it is an option, not a moral responsibility, to take advantage of them. On the other hand, not raping is a moral responsibility, not optional at all.

    @DrPizza: Refusing to engage in hopes of receiving some discursive courtesy seems like a fairly classy thing to do, and also something I seem to be unable to do.

    I think we will have to disagree on how heartlessly cruel society is, because I do not think that people who have crimes of opportunity committed against them generally get a, "you got what you deserved," response from those who hear about it. However, we both agree that such a response has no place in the courtroom or legislative chambers, yet it does exist there in the case of rape. Finally, I don't think any feminist would disapprove of any resource available to reduce rapes, just of the normative view that it was a rape victim's responsibility (rather than option) to utilize them, and I hope that they would feel similarly about most any other crime.

    In what sense is acquaintance rape irrelevant? Also, due to the sexualization of domination, saying something cannot be about domination because it is sexually gratifying seems to be a false dichotomy. As for incapacitation being different from domination, let me quote, "they're simply as a warm body with which a sex act can be performed." If that isn't an assertion of domination, and seriously creepy, what is it?

    The issue of mutually impaired consent is a tricky one, to be sure. If one of the parties goes into the encounter with the intention of using significant amounts of alcohol to impair the other's ability to consent that seems to be a clear indicator of rape, or at best rape mentality if one needs to make a distinction. In regards to a defense of impaired judgement on the part of the rapist, the penalties for driving under the influence make clear that our law code is willing to hold people responsible for acts committed while intoxicated, so the unfairness criterion of the man "always" being the rapist is the only problem with calling intoxicated people rapists. Of course, as someone who abstains both from sex and alcohol, I may not be in the best position to opine on the responsible participation in either. Perhaps the fixation on male rapists in the case of mutual incapacitation comes from our culture valuing sexually experienced men but condemning sexually experienced women, and altering that might change the dynamic towards a more fair one.

    In regards to the study, I finally found the tables to which you were referring, so that helped. However, I am willing to stipulate that there are in practice things women can do to affect the likelihood that they will be sexually assaulted, just not that they have a moral responsibility to do them, so I don't see any point to arguing about that more. Furthermore, even if resisting reduces the likelihood of rape completion, a) you have already been sexually assaulted, which is a bad thing regardless of how it turns out, b) it reduces, not eliminates, the likelihood of rape, so it does not prevent rape.

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  34. i definitely agree with you that victim-blaming is not okay, AND that it's impossible for women to completely avoid rape. you argue this really well.

    however, i'm still not convinced that a "don't rape" campaign would be any more effective. the vast majority of people don't endorse rape (or at least they don't think they do). So people would be like, "why are you telling me don't rape? of course i'm not going to rape!" Meanwhile, the few potential rapists out there wouldn't be listening at all.

    i think a better strategy would be to improve the enforcement of anti-rape laws, perhaps with stronger sentences for rapists. a critical aspect to this strategy would be encouraging more rape victims to report their rapes, so that the offenders can be punished. in doing so, it would be necessary to emphasize that the victims are NOT to blame. So they won't feel guilty reporting the rape.

    Increasing the punishment for rapists would, i suppose, be a "don't rape" campaign of sorts... except that it would be "don't rape because you're not gonna get away with it," rather than "don't rape because rape is bad."

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  35. Any thoughts on the female condom designed to stop an occurring rape?
    http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/africa/06/20/south.africa.female.condom/?iref=obinsite

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  36. I'm going to keep it kind of short and sweet. I still don't agree with your stance on Rape prevention within rapist circles. Like others have said, rapists don't really care that they're raping or they don't think that what they're doing is wrong. Also, you can tell a rapist not to rape or tell them that it is wrong but there's something wrong with them mentally. Suffering from slight mental issues yourself (I'm not trying to be mean at all), you should know what it's like to not be able to control yourself (your anxiety, etc.). If we put out a campaign to tell serial killers to just stop killing, and it worked like you hope a "don't rape" campaign would, I'll bet most of those serial killers would still murder. Same goes for rapists. That's all I have to say for now.

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  37. @Anonymous #1 above.

    In contrast to serial killing, rapists live in a culture saturated with victim blaming, where women are socialised not to say no to men, and where conversely, men are socialised to get what they desire from women.

    Nobody knows if it will succeed, but I for one think that it should not stop us from trying.

    I am also not particularly certain if there is any polite way to say that someone else unable to control themselves because of anxiety, and ask that you refrain from bringing personal insults into your argument.

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  38. @annie-in-europe, I was definitely not taking a dig at Jamie for her anxiety problem. So, I was not bringing a personal insult into my argument. I was just stating that maybe she should be a bit more understanding of people who have mental issues they need to work through. I suffer from slight anxiety as well and I know many people who suffer from mental illnesses and I would never insult them because of their problems. The part where I said "(I'm not trying to be mean at all)" was sincere and not sarcastic. I'm sorry if anyone thought otherwise.

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  39. I just want to clarify from my earlier comments---I don't believe the majority of rapists can't help themselves or can't be impacted. I think men can be educated to identify scenarios that are high in rape risk---such as being intoxicated or having an intoxicated partners---and educated to be more respectful of women's boundaries and preferences.

    I think a tremendous and potentially solvable problem is changing the male culture that implicitly or explicitly justifies rape by joking about it, implying men can't help or control themselves, that women should be sexually available to men, and that coercion or intoxication are legitimate strategies to have sex. Of the studies I've read, men in peer groups that endorse such behavior and attitudes are more likely to rape. Ironically, men who are against rape but in those groups are less likely to speak up against such things if they believe none of their friends will agree. If more men spoke out and held each other accountable, it would be a tremendous step forward.

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  40. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  41. Thank you all for discussing this subject, I think that's a great first step.

    I just wanted to mention that a "don't rape" education campaign doesn't necessarily need to be geared at people who are already rapists. I imagine it's quite futile to tell a rapist to just stop. In fact, I'm not even sure that it's adults who need to be educated. What if we can educate our children in such a manner that we prevent little boys from ever becoming rapists? What is it about our society now that little boys grow up to rape or otherwise abuse women?! What are we teaching our children about the worth of a person, about respect, about human rights?

    I believe a large part of the problem is how pervasive domestic violence and abuse are. I wonder how many rapists grew up in homes where their mothers were beaten, raped, verbally abused? The statistics are truly frightening to me about how common these things are. You are most likely to be raped by your intimate partner, you're also most likely to be murdered by that same partner! Women who die from domestic abuse don't make the news nearly often enough. Every time a plane crashes, we hear about it, but the number of women dying daily in America from domestic violence is equivalent to a jumbo jet crashing into the side of a mountain. This is another area where the judicial system fails us...The most dangerous time for women is when they try to get out of these situations, especially if they get a restraining order. The law is not very helpful when police officers have a high probability of being abusers themselves. I think rape is a huge and terrible problem, but I think it is really just a symptom of some underlying issue in our society. I think we need to carefully examine what makes men rapists and address those issues.

    I also want to highly recommend the book, "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin de Becker. It discusses rape and domestic violence and what we can do to protect ourselves. I know that reading this book changed many of my attitudes and opinions and is something I want every women I know to read.

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  42. @Kenny

    @DrPizza: Refusing to engage in hopes of receiving some discursive courtesy seems like a fairly classy thing to do, and also something I seem to be unable to do.
    I don't think it's at all classy; it shows an inability to rise above a perceived slight. And given that there's no way, as far as I know, to even edit historic posts, it means that there is something of an impasse. I can't go back and remove the verbiage that offends Jamie even if I wanted to.

    I think we will have to disagree on how heartlessly cruel society is, because I do not think that people who have crimes of opportunity committed against them generally get a, "you got what you deserved," response from those who hear about it.
    It's more commonly phrased as something such as "Well what did you expect?", but the sentiment is the same.

    However, we both agree that such a response has no place in the courtroom or legislative chambers, yet it does exist there in the case of rape.
    Even if that is true (is it? I'm certainly not willing to accept it as "obvious"), it is irrelevant to the matter at hand: not getting raped.

    Finally, I don't think any feminist would disapprove of any resource available to reduce rapes, just of the normative view that it was a rape victim's responsibility (rather than option) to utilize them, and I hope that they would feel similarly about most any other crime.
    This is a far cry from Jamie's claim that there were no such options available and/or that they were ineffective.

    In what sense is acquaintance rape irrelevant?
    Because people can fight back against their acquaintances too. Ability to fight back, and efficacy of fighting back, is independent of how well you know each other.

    Also, due to the sexualization of domination, saying something cannot be about domination because it is sexually gratifying seems to be a false dichotomy. As for incapacitation being different from domination, let me quote, "they're simply as a warm body with which a sex act can be performed." If that isn't an assertion of domination, and seriously creepy, what is it?
    That's like claiming that you can dominate a sex doll, or a table. Without conscious awareness of the power disparity, I don't think there's any meaningful domination.

    The issue of mutually impaired consent is a tricky one, to be sure. If one of the parties goes into the encounter with the intention of using significant amounts of alcohol to impair the other's ability to consent that seems to be a clear indicator of rape, or at best rape mentality if one needs to make a distinction. In regards to a defense of impaired judgement on the part of the rapist, the penalties for driving under the influence make clear that our law code is willing to hold people responsible for acts committed while intoxicated, so the unfairness criterion of the man "always" being the rapist is the only problem with calling intoxicated people rapists.
    But typically, both parties have self-inflicted impaired judgement, and both parties are active participants. To describe one as the rapist and the other as the victim is inequitable.

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  43. @DrPizza: I feel like we have taken up enough of Jamie's comment thread with our argument, and I don't think we are going to make any more headway toward agreement.

    @Everyone Else: Thanks for putting up with us!

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  44. As someone keeps deleting my posts, I guess we have to.

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  45. Well said, as always. Its depressing to think about how many people would disagree with the "don't rape" campaign, but I believe your right, there really isn't anything you can do to prevent rape. And on the whole self-defense issue... if someone takes self-defense and manages to ward of a rapist as a result, then great. But in high school freshman year we did a week unit on how to self defend against rapists and I feel like I learned pretty much nothing. Maybe if I took an actual class that went on for longer than a week it'd help... Also, I once heard a statistic that 14/15 rapists walk free, no idea how accurate that is though.

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  46. I have not deleted any posts, by the way. I think this is a platform issue. Other commenters have already emailed me about the issue and I am working to remedy it.

    Jamie

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  47. check out "Slutwalks" happening across Canada. A police officer in a talk stated that if people didn't dress like sluts, there would be less rape. People got pissed. It's a great phenom.

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  48. There's a really funny 10 step list for rape prevention which focus on the perpetrators over at feministlawprofessors.com: Sexual assault prevention tips guaranteed to work

    The fact that I find the list funny probably says something about the way rape education is structured around the victim, that anything outside the norm seems odd, but this post recognises that and its self-deprecating humour assists readers reaching the "yeah, obviously" stage of agreement :)

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  49. Andrea Gibson, who is a phenomenal performance poet, came to perform where I live this week- right after I read your post! You should listen to it when you have a chance. The whole poem is amazing, obviously, but the last few lines was what really linked it to your post in my mind. Here's a link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cEc3aQOP-o

    Thanks for being a smart & thoughtful blogger.

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  50. THANK YOU. I was having an argument with two people the other day about the whole culture surrounding rape and victim blaming after I posted an article about the "Slut Walks" which started in Canada as a means of bringing attention to and hopefully ending the habit of victim blaming. I was too enraged by the comments being made to look up the specific statistics, and wish I had this to support my argument. I tried explaining to these people (both men) that most rapes are committed by a friend or relative of the victim and that very few are because a woman goes walking down a dark alley in a short skirt and 4 inch heels. I tried explaining that sexual predators don't care what a woman is wearing or doing when they are raping her. And yet my attempted explanations were met with derision. I was so angry that I couldn't articulate my point nearly as well as you did. I have long felt that the propensity to blame the victim arises because so many men (yes I'm aware women do it too) engage in practices similar to those of the rapist and don't want to think of themselves as being the same as a sexual predator. As you said, there is a fear that leads to it as well.

    Another key issue is that so few rapes are reported. After they are raped women often feel scared, hurt, and often blame themselves, wondering what they could have done differently. Then, if they are able to overcome that and report the rape they are facing basically being called a slut and whore in an open court room as a defense attorney attempts to show that they must have consented to the rape, because their sexual predator client was just acting on the signals that she was giving. And if that wasn't enough, there is the social stigma that comes with both having people know that you have been raped, and then besmirching the name of someone whose friends will undoubtedly say "there's no way he'd ever have done anything like this, she's such a bitch for ruining his life." With all of this facing them, it is no wonder that women don't report rapes.

    As to a "don't rape" campaign, I think its a brilliant idea. What it should really start with though, is making it easier, safer, and more private for women to report rapes and prosecute the offenders. Further, the punishments for rapists need to be far more severe. While I thoroughly believe that rapists should be castrated, this doesn't seem a viable option, but increasing prison sentences and psychological evaluation and counseling should be mandatory at the very least. That, coupled with a publicity campaign combating victim blaming, explaining what consent is and encouraging women to report rapes could actually do the trick of preventing potential rapists from crossing the line.

    While there will always be sexual predators out there, the key to a vast reduction in rapes is making sure that those that would otherwise rape the women that they know because she "implied consent" realize what consent is, and know that they will be punished if they don't get actual consent.

    Thank you for posting this and stating with such eloquence what I was unable to get across in my own argument on the topic.

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  51. I whole-heartedly agree with your post here, trying to avoid rape is an impossible task, if people knew when and where an attack was going to happen they would clearly avoid, thus prevent, it from occurring.

    I am also glad that you brought up the fact that the majority of rapes that occur are acts of known people. I have a friend who was raped by her boyfriend for years, but it took her a very long time to realize that it was in fact rape at all.

    It is important for people to remember that Rape is not a 'sexual' act, it is a crime that stems from control, thus changing the way you dress is a pointless effort.

    One thing that I have read numerous times in studies on rapists is that they want an easy victim, so putting up a fight, making noise etc... if it does occur is your best deterrent.

    It is important that people are made aware of the facts, that is why I think the "slut walk" is such a great idea... Awareness and strength are the key to fighting this crime!

    Cheers and great writing!

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  52. After reading your article and this entire debate..

    I have to say that most of the arguing is coming from misunderstanding of rape as a phenomenon that manifests into individual events versus a rape situation.

    I think you need to make it clear that when you say something along the lines of "there's no such thing as preventing rape," you are referring to rape as a phenomenon. Because it would be a completely false statement if you were to make that claim about someone who is in a rape situation. Not to be extreme nor to oversimplify, but if a victim happens to have a handgun, he/or she could possibly "prevent the rape situation." There's one example.

    Yes, of course you can't eliminate whatever cultural norm someone has in regards to rape and his/her hazy definitions of rape with "preventative measures" like self-defense or with avoidance. But it is definitely possible to overcome a rape situation when it is staring you in the face. Let's make that part clear.

    I guess what I'm saying is, please provide a clear definition of what you mean by "no such thing as preventing rape." The way you phrased it, it can be easily misconstrued by your critics to mean "there are not effective means to defend yourself against a rapist," which I believe, is not at all what your posts means to convey. I think the majority of this argument comes from misinterpretations of what you intend the definition of "rape prevention" to be.

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  53. i was raped from when i was fifteen until i was sixteen everyone asked if i noticed anything or how i didn't recognize any of the signs it was my cousin i was very modest and I'd only ever kissed a boy before that happened. i began to withdraw and i felt so alone today its hard for me to open up or trust anyone i have PTSD which means certain smells or songs can give me a flash back i am very jumpy and i have nightmares. i think both men and women should be educated on the subject and maybe if police were a little kinder to the victims along with society women who were raped would feel more comfortable reporting.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
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    – это 25 этажный дом с подземной парковкой. Находится в экологическом месте, рядом с Бугринской рощей. Жилой комплекс Военная 16 находится в 15 минутах ходьбы от станции метро Площадь Ленина. Соответствует Комфорт-классу.
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    ЖК Измайловский Подробное описание жилого комплекса, красочные фотографии, планировки квартир, актуальные варианты продажи квартир в ЖК Измайловский.

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  59. ЖК Ломоносовский , Подробное описание жилого комплекса , красочные фотографии, планировки квартир, актуальные варианты продажи квартир в ЖК Ломоносовский.
    Жилые комплексы Москвы , красочные фотографии, планировки квартир, актуальные варианты продажи квартир в Жилых комплексах.
    ЖК Каскад Подробное описание жилого комплекса, красочные фотографии, планировки квартир, актуальные варианты продажи квартир в ЖК Каскад.
    ЖК Миракс Парк , Подробное описание жилого комплекса, красочные фотографии, планировки квартир, актуальные варианты продажи квартир в ЖК Миракс Парк.
    ЖК Алые Паруса , Подробное описание жилого комплекса , красочные фотографии, планировки квартир, актуальные варианты продажи квартир в ЖК Алые Паруса.
    ЖК Зыряновская 57 к1 , красочные фотографии, планировки квартир, актуальные варианты продажи квартир в ЖК Зыряновская 57 к1.
    ЖК Свердлова 10а Подробное описание, красочные фотографии, планировки квартир, актуальные варианты продажи квартир в ЖК Свердлова 10а.
    ЖК Максима Горького 51, красочные фотографии, планировки квартир, актуальные варианты продажи квартир в ЖК Максима Горького 51.
    ЖК Депутатская 2 , Подробное описание жилого комплекса , красочные фотографии, планировки квартир, актуальные варианты продажи квартир в ЖК Депутатская 2.
    Агентства недвижимости в Новосибирске . Надежные помощники в оформлении сделок с недвижимостью .
    ЖК Акатуйский , Подробное описание жилого комплекса , красочные фотографии, планировки квартир, актуальные варианты продажи квартир в ЖК Акатуйский.
    Элитные квартиры , элитные дома в Новосибирске. Красочные фотографии, планировки квартир, актуальные варианты продажи квартир в Новосибирске.
    Квартиры в Москве , элитные квартиры в центре Москвы. Красочные фотографии, планировки квартир, актуальные варианты продажи квартир в Москве.
    Новостройки Москвы , Подмосковья, Новой Москвы.

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