April 7, 2011

Today I had to leave class to cry.

I cry maybe five times per year.  This isn't be because I'm some sort of heartless stoic; tears just aren't my go-to method for expressing things.  I'd much rather yell or just do that angsty, brooding teen thing that I'm quickly getting too old to pull off.  Crying doesn't usually do it for me, but today I cried.

It was in a class called Regulating Speech.  Well, actually it was in the bathroom next to the classroom.  In Regulating Speech, we discuss a lot of hypothetical situations that relate to the First Amendment.  Today we were discussing censorship of printed materials, and the hypothetical situation involved an imagined how-to guide on rape.  "Should we ban this?" the professor asked.

I endorsed permitting the guide to be published.  I'm very much of the school of thought that the marketplace of ideas will combat fringe ideas on its own, and that the discourse surrounding controversial material is a lot more conducive to progress than a downright ban could ever be.  Though the notion of a how-to guide on rape makes me nauseous, but I'd be willing to let it exist in the name of freedom of expression and promoting progress.

A number of other people in the class agreed that the book shouldn't be banned, but supported their opinion with different logic.  A few boys chimed in with some statistics about the proportion of rape victims who are raped more than once, and suggested that perhaps the book would be a good resource for women who want to learn "how to prevent being raped."

There is no such thing as "rape prevention."  The only way for people to not get raped is for people NOT TO RAPE THEM.  We can't end rape by dressing modestly or avoiding dark alleys or letting friends babysit our drinks when we go to the bathroom.  The only way to abolish rape is for nobody to rape anyone else.  It really isn't a difficult concept.

I chimed in politely and explained this to the class.  I fully expected at least one other person to agree with me.  I looked around.  Nobody agreed.  A bunch more people raised their hands and tried to correct me.  "They can at least be aware of a rapist's techniques!" they argued.  "It is silly to think that women can't prevent rape."

At this point, I basically lost it.  "It isn't the job of women to prevent their own rape!" I argued.  "The only people who can prevent rape are rapists!"

Things got awkward and the professor changed the subject.  I sat for a moment, and then I went and cried in the bathroom.  Not the loud kind, but like, the really painful kind where the tears feel angry and stuck inside your head.

I am fortunate to live in a world where almost everyone "gets" things.  My family is pretty progressive.  My boyfriend could make a room full of gender studies students swoon.  The internet communities that I inhabit are filled with cool activist types with well-formed opinions.  When I disagree with my friends, it is usually about semantics more than the fundamental nature of the opinion.  In this world, it is easy to forget that bigotry actually exists.  Enemies of progress are thought of abstractly-- as blurry-faced, cat-calling construction workers or scary, hunched-over shadows in dark allies.  It is easy to forget that people with uninformed or just plain stupid opinions exist in the world around me.  Sometimes I get weary of pushing "the feminist agenda."  It takes a lot of work.  Things in my life feel pretty safe and good-- it would be easy to just be complacent.

It is times like these where I remind myself that people like the ones in my class do exist, and they exist in my daily life where I can interact with them, and maybe teach them something.

Anytime I feel complacent, I think of these people, and how I still have the opportunity to reach them.  I think I cried in the bathroom because it is really overwhelming to realize how many people out there still don't "get it".  Occurrences like these are awful, but they are also productive because they enforce my belief that some issues still need to be fought for, despite what people may tell you.

69 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for posting this. I can't express to you how many times I've felt like giving up the "feminist agenda" because of the negative reactions (often by people I consider friends). But, as you maturely and astutely concluded, these people are indeed the ones who need to hear it most.

    Sometimes it's nice to stay inside that safe academic bubble. But being brave is better than being nice, and I hope you continue to challenge the ignorance and bigotry.

    Things will change. Maybe slowly, and probably painfully. But we will make sure that they do!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've been dealing with the same sort of feelings lately--feminism can be tiring when you realize that so many are against it (or really just don't understand it). I'm inspired by your ability to use this as motivation! Stay strong. I'll try to stay strong too.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have been trying to explain this to people a lot over the last few months, and I'm often met with the same sorts of responses. I can't imagine having this happen without a single supporter--I'm sure I would have needed a good cry, too. To echo what Michelle_R said, it's awesome that you can take something good from this unpleasant experience. It is important to remember that, outside of the feminist consciousness bubbles we build around ourselves and our groups of friends, sexist, victim-blaming attitudes exist, and the people who hold them often haven't thought about WHY they hold them. Developing a consciousness about things like this requires a lot of time and a concerted effort.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am all for feminism, being a woman myself. However, I do no agree at all with your stance on rape. Yes, rape is awful and should not happen. But rapists cannot prevent rape when they see that what they're doing is wrong. It is also untrue that women get raped because of the clothes they're wearing, rapists don't care about the sexual nature of the act but the power they exert. However, women themselves can try to help prevent themselves getting raped, in my opinion. Stay out of abusive relationships as soon as you realize it is abusive. Date rape is also rape. But, also, do try to stay with a group of people when out at night, and do try to avoid areas that are uninhabited at 2 am. Also, having your friends watch your drinks is a good idea, why would you put that idea down? I'd rather not get slipped something at all than risk getting drugged, because it DOES happen (my mother got roofied when she was 45--it can happen to anyone). As I agree with your stance that rape is not sexual (it isn't), I disagree with the fact that rape is not preventable by women.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Kudos to you for being bold enough to stand up for what I think should have been an obvious truth. I'm astonished that you were (seemingly) the only one in the class who was willing to call a spade a spade.

    If the only women who were ever raped were all drunk, provocatively dressed, and walking alone down a dark alley, then it might stand to reason that a women could prevent herself from being raped by not doing those things. However, women of all ages and manner of dress, in varied situations, locations, and times of day have been raped. Elderly women have been raped by home invaders, should they have had more locks on their doors? Children have been raped by trusted family members, who should we blame for that?

    I honestly believe that people feel the need to place some manner of blame on the victim as a way to create the illusion of being in control of what does or does not happen to them. Example: If rape victim Jane had done A, B, & C and not X, Y, & Z, then she wouldn't have been raped. Sue always does A, B, & C and never X, Y, & Z, so she's being extra sure that she won't be raped. People just don't want to face the idea that they might be raped regardless of who they are or what they do.

    ReplyDelete
  6. *But rapists cannot prevent rape when they see that what they're doing is not wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Jamie, thank you. That's all. Just thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  8. At my school they had a clinic to teach us basic martial art technics and gave us these packs of pens that were actually pepper-spray in disguise. While they taught us how we could maybe stop from getting raped they also taught us what to do if we were raped.

    I think this is how we should handle rape. While we probably wont be able to stop it we should know what to do in case it happens.

    ReplyDelete
  9. @Anonymous Rapists know what they're doing is wrong. They know that their victim is not willing. It just doesn't matter to them.

    It's not that they don't know it's wrong. It's that they DO know they can get away it. All those situations you described are not signals that it's wrong, they're signals that they can't get away with it. Big big difference.

    ReplyDelete
  10. The thing is, anonymous number one, that I SHOULD be able to walk alone at night in unpopulated areas, and go to parties, and leave my drink unattended, and wear little clothing, and be in a relationship that isn't even abusive in the first place, and STILL NOT BE RAPED. In fact, I have done a lot of these things and have fortunately not been raped or otherwise assaulted. Lots of women do all of these things and are not raped. If any of us are raped, it is because someone chose to rape us, not because of what we were doing or wearing at the time.

    As anonymous number two highlighted (same anonymous?), a large part of the problem is that men don't always realize that what they are doing is, in fact, rape. They are told over and over in a hundred different ways that they are entitled to our bodies. They are told that we are supposed to refuse sex even if we want it, and that they just have to keep trying until they wear us down. They are told that dominating women is key to masculinity. They need to be told that none of these things are even the slightest bit true.

    Sure, Dean wouldn't have raped Paige at that party if Paige had stayed home that night, but Dean also wouldn't have raped Paige if he JUST DIDN'T RAPE PAIGE. He could have slowed down when she asked him to slow down. He could have stopped when she said "No." He SHOULD have stopped. He shouldn't have even started in the first place. (Degrassi)


    Jamie, I am wholeheartedly with you on every point. I actually hadn't thought of censorship in that way before, and I appreciate the new perspective. I adore my queer radical bubble, but I'm of no use to the rest of the world if I never step outside.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you, Jamie!! I completely understand your frustration.
    And to the Anonymous who said women can prevent rape, and we should "Stay out of abusive relationships as soon as you realize it is abusive," you should really educate yourself on the nature of abusive relationships. I have been in an abusive relationship, I have learned about the cycle of abuse from my counselor and in multiple college courses, and there are a few things you need to get straight:
    Did you ever think that maybe abuse is more than rape or a punch in the face? There are many forms of abuse (emotional, psychological, financial, etc.) that one may not realize are actually abuse until someone else tells them or they look at it in retrospect. When a person is in an abusive relationship, there are A LOT of feelings involved that can distract someone from the evidence that their significant other is abusing them.
    Did you ever think that maybe the person is STUCK? I mentioned financial abuse before; a lot of women stay with their abusive husbands because they have no money, the husband supports the children financially and the mother could not successfully leave him and still care for her kids and herself. They want to do what's best for their kids, and a lot of the time they believe that means having the resources to feed, clothe, and educate them.
    Most women who are in abusive relationships have no idea their partner is even abusive! So why don't you educate yourself on the matter before you go telling us to just "stay out" of abusive relationships. Do you think we WANT to be abused?
    And as for rape, my mother was raped when she was 15. She went over to her boyfriend's house IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY and his friends jumped out and held her down while she was brutally raped, then taunted about it for the rest of middle school. You wanna tell me she could've prevented THAT? Yeah, I didn't think so.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Good on you for saying what you did and for putting that idea out there. It can definitely be overwhelming to be faced with a roomful of people who are intent on blaming the victim, but, as you note, these are also opportunities. Ultimately, the only way that people will change their views on issues like this is if the idea is introduced over and over again and they have the chance to let it sink in.

    What really struck me about your story was that even the teacher didn't say anything to, if not support your point, at least help the class understand it and deal with it more thoroughly. That disturbs me more than the students' responses.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Your post took me straight back to one of my first university tutorials, way back in 1991. (To give you some context, this was in Sydney, Australia, in a class full of communications students.)I can't remember what the subject was, but we were talking about the media coverage of a case where a prostitute was raped. My classmates' (male and female) views ranged from 'better them than a _decent woman_' to 'they have sex all day so it won't be traumatic for them'. After an hour of this, I pretty much lost it, after which no one would make eye contact with me. Sadly, it sounds like 20 years later not much has changed.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Kristy - your mom went to an un-supervised house with no adults, where she was the only girl, at the age of 15.

    Your grandparents were ok with this? Does she / did she let you at 15 also run around with groups of boys, alone in houses without the knowledge of the homeowner / parents / whatever?

    Of course those boys are to blame. But I am teaching my daughter not to be in those situations.

    Of course you don't WANT to be abused, and it's not right, and everything else being said here. But bottom line: guys like that are out there. Do everything you can not to be alone with them, in environments where they are in power and no one knows where you are.

    ReplyDelete
  15. J - Wish I were in your class, I would have agreed with you; what you said makes total sense. Rape prevention doesn't mean stopping rape in the middle of the action, it means preventing attempted rape too.

    To anonymous number n-1, self-defense is self-defense and useful knowledge, but that's not what the hypothetical book was about in the class, and thus beside the point.

    ReplyDelete
  16. ... addendum to my previous comment: I closed the window and the next article on my RSS reader was this:

    http://tinyurl.com/42h9p45

    in which a Nebraska judge threatened a rape victim with contempt if she didn't testify in her case.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi Jamie,

    I agree with you, the only way to prevent rape is for people not to rape others, just like the only people who can prevent theft are for thieves to decide not to steal! Yet we still lock our doors when we leave our house and we still lock our cars and we still make sure we hold our purses close to us when we are on public transportation just in case...

    No, people shouldn't have to be aware of how they can avoid situations where rape may occur and we can chose not to. But we can also chose to be careful and stay educated so that we can avoid it. I am not saying that if you do not take it into your responsibility not to get raped that it is your fault. Of course it is not! Just like its not your fault if someone breaks in to your house just because you forgot to lock the door. But it is wise to be aware because it just isn't worth the risk. Unfortunately rape is a reality and is an issue that will not go away anytime soon (although I do hope it does) so I personally choose to take the steps necessary to make sure my friends and I are safe from an event that, if/when it happens, will scar a person for life.

    I know it is frustrating because the people in your class probably didn't express themselves accurately. Or maybe they really think it is the victims' responsibility to take the necessary steps to avoid bad situations. I don't know, I wasn't there.

    Anyway, I really enjoy reading your blog :) this one in particular is a really good entry!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Your narrative is extraordinarily impotent. You seem to relish the role of the victim. Never mind trite feminist philosophy--the simple fact is that a certain level of fighting back can prevent a potential rape from being perpetrated.

    That's a matter of objective fact. Whether people should ever be put in such positions or not is beside the point. It has no bearing on the truth value of that claim.

    Sometimes you can't help but be a victim of circumstance, but what you are espousing is a policy of utter capitulation. A total abrogation of your own autonomy.

    Yes, rapists shouldn't rape. Burglars shouldn't burgle. Robbers shouldn't rob.

    But I'm still going to lock my hose and avoid leaving wads of cash on the front seat of my car. I don't condone such acts, but that as hell doesn't mean I'm going to give opportunistic criminals the opportunity they crave.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Totally agree with most of your points.

    However, QFT:
    "But I'm still going to lock my hose and avoid leaving wads of cash on the front seat of my car. I don't condone such acts, but that as hell doesn't mean I'm going to give opportunistic criminals the opportunity they crave."

    ReplyDelete
  20. I usually agree wholeheartedly with your blog posts, but I found this one to be really stubborn and arrogant. I understand the concept of "it shouldn't be the burden of victims to prevent the crime of rape", but there are definitely proactive ways to at least decrease one's chances of being sexually assaulted. I think that you were so set in your opinion that you missed what your classmates were arguing and wrote it off as ignorance.

    ReplyDelete
  21. @drpizza

    the simple fact is that a certain level of fighting back can prevent a potential rape from being perpetrated.

    ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?!

    REALLY. ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS.

    most rapes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows. most women would never dream that their husband/boyfriend/friend/relative/etc would rape them, but that's exactly who commits the vast majority of sexual assaults. if you know someone and trust them enough to let your guard down, there is no fighting back. you can't fucking fight back when your trust is used against you, when you never saw the attack coming.

    that's exactly how rapists work - by predation, the same way that child molesters abuse children.

    covering your drink, dressing "appropriately" (what the fuck does that even mean?!), and walking in groups after 2pm does nothing when your rapist is someone you're dating.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Long-time reader, first-time commenter here...

    I love love LOVE LOVE your blog. LOVE IT! This post, however, is definitely amazing. As a victim of rape by a long term boyfriend, and a victim of being "roofied," I always find it nauseatingly horrifying that people think that it is a woman's prerogative to defend herself against rape. Women will always be raped as long as people are raping them. Always. When I was raped I was wearing baggy jeans and a plaid shirt (it was the 90s...), and when my drink was roofied I was in a normally safe bar dancing with a lot of friends around me. There is no sure fire way to not get raped, and it's disgusting that people still think that way (ESPECIALLY when their women!).

    The other day I had a discussion with some people about how I can't stand it when people throw the word "rape" around. Someone I know recently said, "Thanks [store name] for raping us with your prices." I couldn't help but say, "I'm pretty damn sure that when you entered into that store willingly and chose to open your wallet to purchase an item you didn't even need, you didn't lay on the ground afterward with blood between your legs feeling abused, abandoned, ashamed, and guilty." And she... yes, SHE, didn't understand why I was getting upset. I always hear people saying that one sports team "raped" the other sports team when they lost. NO! It's disgusting.

    Anyway, rant aside, I just want to say thank you for bringing awareness to this and for feeling such strong emotions about it to the point of crying... I now know I'm not alone.

    ReplyDelete
  23. @ meagan: THANK YOU! Intelligent women DO exist in this world.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I think your classmates are conflating "preventing rape" with "avoiding crime." I agree that people should be aware that dark alleys alone at night and accepting drinks from strangers are not safe, but that's because of crime in general--robberies, etc. Sexual violence is part of this, but, to me, people in general, regardless of sex, should try to avoid those situations.

    That said, I agree with you that we need to focus on preventing sexual violence by targeting the root of the problem: the perpetrators. You're right that there's a culture of male sexual violence, and I like that the ads you posted included a male homogamous couple, but females also commit domestic abuse and sexual violence. That wasn't really the point of your post, but everyone needs to be aware of what abuse and violence look like, as our culture often ignores abuse in homogamous couples and abuse/violence committed by women. (Statistically, the kind of rape you're discussing does have more male perps, but the issue needs to be problematized and addressed for both sexes and all orientations.)

    You remind me in many ways of myself at the end of my teens. I was the weird kid who was writing papers on nuture>nature in high school, and there is a definite disconnect between the circles I inhabit of my post-grad friends who are also gender savvy and "normal people." I'm now the one on facebook posting links about gender in video games and separate surname bills in Japan. You are making a difference, though. Some of my friends have approached me to say that I've made them think differently about sex and gender, and I think you are key in that for your section of our generation. It's a learning and growing process, and I'm cheering for you from Japan.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I am surprised by how many people seem to think a rape can be prevented by avoiding certain situations. There were a string of rapes in Texas where a man was breaking into homes of elderly women in the middle of the day just to rape them. Many children are ritually raped day after day by family members and not just teenagers. I work with a victim advocacy center and know of children younger than a month old who are raped.What precautions should these poor women and the countless number of children supposed to take? You can avoid certain situations that will decrease the likelihood of someone attempting to rape
    you but there is no guarantee it won't happen to you no matter your age or
    gender.
    I think the point Jamie is ultimately trying to get at is that rape, no matter the circumstances, should never occur. To think otherwise only perpetuates the idea
    that the victim no matter their age, is partially to blame.
    I was raped by a trusted family member, imagine a 110 pound 5'4" thirteen year old up against a 200 pound 6'2" 21 year old whom I knew and trusted and whom my parents trusted to watch me so my mother could have cancer surgery. Please tell me how was this preventable!?!
    Thank you Jamie for being an advocate for those of us who, through no fault of our own, were raped.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. date rape and forceful rape are two different things. the topic is so sensitive that people don't know how to seperate other. If I warn a friend at a bar to stop drinking because she's losing control and its not safe THAT DOESN'T MEAN I'M CONDONING RAPE . I just know what i safe and what isn't. The world is imperfect, there are rapists and always will be. There are also just really unfortunate SITUATIONS.

      Delete
  26. I am anonymous #1 (and the * post as well).
    @juliamarisa, No one gets raped because of their physical appearance, it's a power struggle, not a sexual endeavor (the act of rape). However, walking in an alley at night is fine and should be okay. But, it sadly is not.

    @Christy, I know of abusive relationships, I'm not naive on the matter. Perhaps I was a bit hasty in my wording about abusive relationships. But, like Anonymous #2 said, your mother should not have gone into that situation. When I was 15, I was only allowed to go to supervised households. Also, I'm sorry that your mother was teased about it, it's a shame that being raped is something to mock someone about.

    @Shaw, this blog post turned into rape, versus the starting point of the how-to rape book and censorship. I was commenting about the cumulative blog post, not just the how-to book part.

    @Anonymous #3, I totally agree with you. It's a case of being educated to avoid situations that put you in peril. It does't make it your fault if you get raped, EVER. But, knowing ways to possibly help avoid situations where it can occur is the best.

    @Chelsea, I agree completely.

    @Meagan, You yourself are ignorant. Rape does occur through predation. But, not in the simple ways you might think like a family member. Usually (not always) family member abuse is through molestation, molestation and rape are two completely different things. As I said earlier, try to rid yourself of abusive relationships. Also, people get raped running in the park, or the girl who works at a coffee shop in Philadelphia got raped midday in the bathroom of her workplace. It takes all kinds and it happens in all place. Not all rapes are performed by someone you have an immediate connection to.

    ReplyDelete
  27. "Anonymous said...
    @ meagan: THANK YOU! Intelligent women DO exist in this world.
    April 7, 2011 9:21 PM"

    Last time I checked, intelligent women didn't repeatedly curse in one paragraph and type in all lowercase when proving their point. This is an extreme case of UNintelligence.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Re: Above...

    Last I checked, use of profanity and conformity to prescriptivist orthography rules didn't constitute intelligence. You wouldn't know it by this response, but on occasion I (gasp!) neglect my shift key and drop an f-bomb. So perhaps keep to yourself the useless bashing based on arbitrary indicators of intelligence, and consider meagan's words (and the words of others) for their content.

    Jamie, I really appreciate this post. Unfortunately, I somehow had never really considered this matter--the idea of "rape prevention" and the problematic nature of that sort of mentality. Thank you for giving me something to consider.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I agree wholeheartedly that it is not anyone's job to make sure that they do not get raped! And I agree that the only person who can prevent a rape with 100% certainty is the potential rapist. But, and maybe this is just a desire not to be helpless, it seems like there must be something the non-rapists (most of society hopefully) can do to reduce the prevalence of rape. I would like to believe that raising awareness actually has some impact on the problem.

    As to the actions of individuals, as long is one is careful to separate the notion of what can be done to reduce likelihood of (I agree prevent is an unrealistic goal) being raped from what should be done I think that it is reasonable to say that things can be done to reduce likelihood of (but not completely prevent) being raped. I don't think that trying to protect people from being raped through self defense classes, tips like being aware of what you are drinking, or programs like SafeRide or SafeWalk necessarily imply victim blaming. It seems like we ought to be able to provide tools without making it seem like women have the responsibility to use them.

    I don't know, this is an important, complicated, and delicate subject, and I hope my thoughts are at least coherent, if not correct. As I read your post, it seems like you are saying that non-rapists cannot affect whether people are raped, a belief with which I disagree. However, I am truly sorry that your classroom became such a hostile environment. What with how "well" you were treated, I cannot help but wonder if nobody actually agreed with you, or whether nobody was willing to expose themselves to the widespread criticism you came under. And thank you for your continued courage in being willing to share this where Internet crazies like me (you too up there DrPizza) can pick it apart. As always, a wonderfully thought provoking, although quite sad in this case, post!

    ReplyDelete
  30. i agree that everyone should work to protect their general safety. i agree that friends should look after each other.

    i do not think anyone should have to take any special effort to prevent their own rape.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Totally agree with you. That's a hard battle to fight.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Those other kids are still ignorant, I'm taking a class about Race and Poverty related to American policies and imperialism and when I was younger i'd be all like "they are poor? well that's their problem let those governments figure it out" but actually there are so many other reasons directly related to my consumerism choices that affect the poverty. Anyway, the point i'm trying to make is that the realization of people's naivety is upsetting (I was upset with myself) but hopefully they will learn and wise-up! (like I did)!

    ReplyDelete
  33. I understand you totally. Especially on the subject of rape, when everyday (i would assume) progressive-type people make really hurtful and ignorant comments, and you just get this feeling in the bottom of your stomach like you want to cry and smash things. The times that I have very powerless in my life is when there is some debate on some issue that's important to me and then a bunch of people say really and truly cold-hearted things... then I get angry and everyone goes "whoa, let's calm down, this is an emotional issue...you're both right...". That burns me up so much, you get this powerless feeling, that just like hurts your soul. I have not been raped, but to hear people talk like this about rape victims and survivors- it makes me get disgusted and a little dramatic.
    Anyway, thank you so much for this post, keep up the good work! Teenage feminist represent!
    Also, the scene in The Accused with Jodie Foster where this man who cheered on her rapists taunts her, then she rams her car into his repeatedly, totally represents how I feel about this issue. Obviously violence is not the answer, but when watching that gut-wrenching, horrific movie, then you see his car blocking her's as he shouts this crap at her, you get this feeling like if she does not ram his car... I'm going to explode.
    Disclaimer: if you haven't seen that movie, I don't recommend it, it's good but it's totally horrible to watch.

    ReplyDelete
  34. @meagan:

    The simple fact is that there are women who have successfully fought off their attackers. It has happened. It is a fact. You can rant and rave all you like, but what you cannot do is change that reality.

    Read this: http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/211201.pdf and educate yourself.

    Yes, sometimes there is an overwhelming force disparity that precludes fighting back. But it is thoroughly disingenuous of you to pretend that this is a universal characteristic of rapes.

    @Jamie:

    Do you think that people should take particular efforts to avoid thefts (e.g. locking doors and windows when you leave the house, not keeping valuables in plain sight in your car, etc.)?

    Do you agree that such acts are going above and beyond protecting their "general safety", and fall under the banner of "special efforts" to prevent their own victimhood?

    Do you think that people that do these things are in some sense condoning such acts of criminality or blaming themselves (that is, the putative victim)?

    Do you think that these people suffer better outcomes (e.g. are the victims of fewer thefts)?

    Can you outline why acting so as to discourage opportunistic thefts is acceptable, but acting so as to discourage opportunistic rapes is not? What is the substantive difference between these two crimes and/or the discouragement of those crimes that renders one acceptable to you and the other not?

    Or am I to believe that locking your car is unacceptable too?

    ReplyDelete
  35. Anonymous #1:

    Though the standard narrative is that rape is a crime of violence or demonstration of power, this is hard to reconcile with the actual sexual gratification that many rapists experience.

    This is especially so when the victim is incapacitated through drink or drugs; the victim's own recollection of events can be minimal or non-existent.

    The incapacitation renders any need to project force unnecessary (the rapist doesn't need to show his strength to a victim that has passed out), and the lack of recollection substantially negates any longer term show of dominance.

    Even the rapists will acknowledge that sexual gratification is a key element of their motivation.

    Rape can be about assertion of power and control, but that is by no means a universal truth. Even when it's about power, the mode of expression of that dominance is significant.

    It can be a power struggle. But it is not purely a power struggle, and there are plenty of cases where it is not a power struggle at all.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I have yet to make a lot of close friends that share my interests and opinions regarding feminism and other progressive ideas. A lot of the people I am "friends" with are sort of default because we work/have worked together and we get along well enough. This means I occasionally get completely thrown off my game and can't always even find the words to argue with people. I'm big into the FA and HAES movement, for example, but I have to read facebook status updates being super excited over losing ten pounds on WW or cheering on a friends for losing weight due to cancer. Recently when bringing up Chris Brown at work a couple of my coworkers were super quick to say they think it's okay to hit a woman if she hit you first. I really wish I could make friends in a progressive college setting.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Cheering on friends who've lost weight due to cancer?

    Jesus christ, what next--cheering on friends who've lost weight due to amputation?

    ReplyDelete
  38. I agree with you. We teach girls how to not get raped instead of teaching men that they should not rape. It's bullshit.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I have had those same discussions, and they are the most frustrating things in the world. Shame on your professor for not correcting what is a pretty basic gender studies type thing.

    I suppose that--if one is to be extremely charitable--then women could be prevent rape by reading the guide and preventing other women's rape (by watching after their friends) as a bystander intervention thing. I suspect that this may have been what at least some of your classmates were implying, even if the majority were just wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  40. i agree with you that if a woman wants to hang out with a bunch of frat boys and get blackout drunk she should be able to do that without getting raped, and it is not at all her fault if she does. but it's also true that a woman who gets blackout drunk with frat boys is at a higher risk of rape than a woman who doesn't.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. what about the woman who gets blackout drunk with fratboys. finds a guy equally as drunk goes to bed with him, has sex, doesnt remember, and claims rape?

      Delete
  41. Kudos to you. Tough room, tough comment board here - but you are right in essence and I know you'll stick to your guns. It may not have seemed like it but you probably planted some seeds in the minds of those classmates who were staring blankly back at you.

    Furthermore, I hope that if a charged situation like this comes up again and your professor doesn't handle it more directly than "changing the subject", you'll have a talk with him or her.

    You deserve some hugs and some cake, but all I have is the internet, so . . . know that lots of us out here are pulling for you and drawing faith from your awesomeness!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Good for you. Stay strong!

    Being a feminist (when it is treated like a flaw) can be hard; I've had the same experiences. But would you have it any other way? Hang in there! We support you!

    ReplyDelete
  43. Thank you for posting this. I understand how you feel, I had much the same experience discussing abortion with my squad (all males who mostly outranked me) while stationed in Iraq. It can be incredibly frustrating. I wish I had been as strong in my convictions when I was your age.

    I'm especially proud of you for pointing out that you support the freedoms of the 1st Amendment despite the fact that the subject matter disgusts you. As Voltaire said, "I may disagree with what you say, but I'll defend to death your right to say it." Thank you again.

    ReplyDelete
  44. This was a great post Jamie, thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  45. I am in awe that nobody in your class understood or identified with your point of view. My soc classes would be all over that shit.

    For some reason, people picture most instances of rape as provocatively dressed drunk women being stolen away in bars. WHAT THE HELL? (Which still, by the way is obviously not a *bleeping* reason to rape someone). THE VAST MAJORITY of girls and women who are raped are raped by their fathers, partners, uncles, grandfathers, acquaintances etc. Can someone please tell me how a victim goes about preventing this?

    Rapists, stop raping. Assaulters, stop assaulting. What the hell is this rape culture we live in? ARGH.

    ReplyDelete
  46. That is a really important point and thank you for illustrating it with such an horrifically yet seemingly obvious example. I have been in similar situation where I find myself speaking for others or a whole host of feminist or animal rights/liberation opinions. In those instances it's important and part of this whole political-worky-activism-thingy to hold your political ground and really hope that someone hears you. And sometimes an intense cry is just what is needed after such shocks. ino it's a pretty healthy sign that you were able to reiterate your point and then feel the grief of nonrecognition after the point. These moments are just like you said here to remind us of the work still to be done and how important it is to make such arguments against sexism, oppression, domination, and the suffering of others at the hands of privilege and power.

    I do want to make one suggestion that might be helpful from what I can tell a few of the comments are responding to. I think in your description you make a category error and conflate the agency of the victim with the agency of the perpetrator. You are absolutely right to suggest that victims have no control over the agency, decisions, desires and most importantly the perceptive reality of the rapist. No control. Those are made by the rapist (perhaps at the suggestion of others good or bad but still no actual control--only imaginary 'control'). So long as rape is a moral option for people, whether they justify it through an oppressive understanding of consent, sexist fashion politics, or just the feeling that 'nature' of 'man' justifies the control and rape of 'woman' in any theoretical or practical sense. However the agency of the victim is still intact in the situation. The victim can make decisions like fighting back, taking self defense classes, and even as some people mention dressing more conservatively. HOWEVER this is where I break from those arguments. In NO way should women or victims be obligated to take those measures within society. It is however an unfortunate consequence of our rape culture. We must fight against the rape culture so that self-defense classes are not necessary and bastions of the past. But since we are agents we do have a right to and ability to exercise self-defense in whatever situation. Where the fucked up politics comes in is where victims, usually women are blamed for rape in that these options for self-defense become obligations of the victim ('If she had dressed more conservatively she wouldn't have been raped'). That is a sexist and normative judgement against the victim and exactly what you responded to in class. What instead should be noted that if rape didnt exist then such prescriptions on the victim would be nonexistent. SO I think that we can as feminists still take self-defense classes to prepare for the inevitable reality of our rape culture while actively fighting against the structures that produce such a rape culture. To suggest otherwise would be to erase the agency we have as subjects in society to defend ourselves in whatever form of self-defense we choice (so long as it is not another form of violence but actually self-defense).

    Also, your bf sounds dreamy. Jealous of a gender studies savy bf....

    ReplyDelete
  47. Hey Jamie,

    I’m a big fan of your work. I was disappointed by this post, however. I think it does a disservice to yourself and to feminism generally. While I don’t necessarily disagree with your point, you don’t really take the time to refute your opponents’ positions, you just keep repeating your own.

    I ask you to consider you third-to-last paragraph. You speak for a few sentences about how you inhabit a world where, “when [you] disagree with [your] friends, it is usually about semantics more than the fundamental nature of the opinion. In this world, it is easy to forget that bigotry actually exists.” Now, I’m sure you don’t mean to draw a parallel between these two sentences, but the implication is that, if someone is disagreeing with you about more than just semantics, it is bigotry. Do you really think that your classmates’ opinions were bigoted? Even if not, do you not see any value in substantively engaging with their point of view and at least considering it, instead of dismissing it out of hand, assuming that you have the high ground, and therefore that you need to “teach them something”?

    I ask these questions not as personal attacks but because I really think you should reconsider how you have addressed dissenting views in this post. The views your classmates expressed were not hateful (at least as you described them), and even if they are 100 percent wrong, the least they deserve, as your peers in an intellectual environment, is for you to not dismiss them out of hand as “uninformed or just plain stupid.” Far too often feminism is viewed by nonfeminists as condescending and fringe. I think taking the time to see others’ perspectives goes a long way toward dispelling that view and making feminism more accessible.

    Respectfully yours,
    Kyle

    ReplyDelete
  48. I do think that women should be educated about rape, the same way they should be educated about how to prevent identity theft, etc... As a survivor of repeated, severe sexual abuse from my father, I know exactly where you're coming from on this issue, but here's my gripe - the world will never be utopian. I think it's naive to not educate others on tactics to escape these situations or know how to identify red flag traits (even though they don't apply to all situations). It's hard for me to come to terms with this particular evil, but I would hate for just one more woman to be unnecessarily raped by a boyfriend because she wasn't able to see the telltale signs in his character.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Sorry for my grammar, I typed that pretty quickly. It's harder for me to make conscious choices in grammar on a computer - plain old intangibility. Thank you for this article, I appreciate your POV!

    ReplyDelete
  50. Wow, I am surprised at how many people posted anonymously for this.

    Firstly, Jamie, there is nuance involved and this isn't as black and white an issue as we'd like it to be. Yes, absolutely, the people who perform an action are responsible for whether or not they choose to perform that action, regardless of how much they feel the responsibility lies (lays?) with whoever enticed them. I think there are many cases of rapists being opportunists - if someone weren't walking past that alley at 3am they wouldn't have raped anyway that night. Of course it's not the person's fault who walked past that alley. Right and wrong don't always mesh with reality, as much as it should, as much as we'd like it to.

    Secondly, the biggest lesson I learned my freshman year of college is that the biggest test to see if you are open-minded, is to see if you are open-minded towards people who are NOT. I am sorry you cried, and sorry you were so frustrated with your classmates. I think people around your age think most things are black and white. "I am white but have black friends, thus I am not prejudiced." You may feel less frustrated if you approach it as if it will takes layers for people to understand what you want them to, and your responsibility is to provide one layer or two, but not the entirety of it. You know? It's not all on you, you're not everyone's only hope - sometimes it takes many people over many years to blow someone's mind open to a different way of thinking. Don't give up hope.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Good for you for standing up for your beliefs even when there was no one else there on your side. Hopefully you helped change at least one person's beliefs about rape. Many people talk about rape prevention solely from a victim's perspective without realizing they're focused on the wrong side of the equation of that there's even another approach to take. I myself had never considered rape prevention techniques targeted at potential rapists until I read one of my friend's posts about it. The shift from "don't get raped" to "don't rape" is an important one. I personally believe that both approaches are important, but the main problem is that our culture focuses so heavily on "don't get raped" and so little on "don't rape" that many people don't even think about the second one. That's why it's so important (and so difficult) for people like you to speak up and help shift people's opinions.

    ReplyDelete
  52. It IS the woman's job to prevent her rape! When rape happens it is awful and evil and usually not preventable, and by that point don't you assume the rapist is already in it for the long haul? Do you really think they don't know that it's wrong??? And do you really think a Don't Rape campaign would really reach the actual rapists, or just make people who hate them hate them even more? There are ways to prevent some rape, as written in your next blog, but sometimes it simply isn't preventable, it is a seed of awful egotism from someone who has absolutely no empathy for the person their hurting (or someone deluded enough to think they aren't hurting anyone). To tell them to simply just start caring is stupid. Something that would help is safer cities and better people, but to think women can't be helped to fend for themselves is just stupid. That maybe a can of pepperspray can change everything.

    ReplyDelete
  53. "the problem with groups who deal with rape is that they try to educate women about how to defend themselves. what really needs to be done is teaching men not to rape. go to the source and start there" -Kurt Cobain

    ReplyDelete
  54. Hey Jamie & Co.!

    First off, you are SUCH a fantastic writer!! Keep up the great work.
    I love your blogging and I can just tell by your words that you are a woman of such great compassion for others. This is such a relief to the world. Never lose your heart and passion despite any criticism or opposition!
    I am completely on your page for a "Do Not Rape" campaign. You start-- i'll forward =]
    However, like some other posts above me, I must agree that both men and women should use common sense and stay away from certain situations to at least try to prevent the 20-or so percent of rape that is not by a personal relation to the victim.
    Overall I think one of the main problems people are wrestling with is how to put a term and definition on how to help victims. Yes, rape is "forcing another person to have sexual intercourse with him without their consent and against their will" (websterrrrrr). But consider waaaaaay back before the days of women's rights and even human rights in general. Historically, women could have been concubines (sex-slaves) and forced beyond their will to perform sexual acts. Saying "no" was not an option. "No" did not exist, so neither did that term. "Date rape" was just recently coined in the 70s.
    Let's get comfortable dropping names and talking about this. It needs to end.
    Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
  55. Aww I'm sorry. I probably would've cried too.

    ReplyDelete
  56. I absolutely, one hundred percent agree with Kyle. No disrespect, Jamie, but if there's anything the discourse on these message board proves, is that there isn't a clear answer, and no one side is the perfectly right or perfectly wrong side. It's simply a matter of opinion, and while it's true that people can say things that jive with your ideals, it's much more beneficial to both you and your "opponent" of sorts if you treat it as more of a teaching/learning experience than some college boy being a bigot for having a difference in opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  57. I completely agree with your point -- however, I am angry with how you make it. I happen to know the person who upset you in class, and she is not a "bigot." She "get" things. She has "well-formed opinions." She is not an "enemy of progress." She doesn't have "uninformed or just plain stupid opinions."

    You know what this girl did? She disagreed with you. That's it. That doesn't mean that you can call her an ignorant, stupid bigot, no matter how much you disagree with her.

    Please look at how you use language and how you treat other people. Your passion for this issue caused you to exaggerate your opponents' points to be much more extreme than they actually are.

    By the way -- just to be absolutely clear, the girl in question did not in any way, shape or form ask me to post on this board. She wasn't even upset with you or angry; she just related the story, and I found this blog on my own.

    ReplyDelete
  58. i was reading the rookie site and ended up here... really enjoying all these writting!
    how do you feel about your classes/university? (i don't know the difference between university and college, sorry!!! it's confusing to me, because here in brazil things are kind of different) i hated my classes, and almost all of my teachers... (not even going to say anything about my classmates) it's not that i hated actually, but they turned me down... just becase is so f*cking difficult sometimes, i was always thinking "am i so wrong?" or "i think i don't belong". but common!!! i realize sometimes it's not a point of view, there some things that are just right or just wrong... once i was in my sociology class (i studied tourism) and there was like this discussion about building super high resorts. in brazil, a lot of them are build in lands that are close to the beach or forest, really for from the cities. but in these places there are people living. people with their own way of living, own culture, really distant from our city reality. and then bang... these big resorts arrive and destroy their homes, their make of living, like these huge social/nature impact bomb. well, the discussion was: less impact how? and people was like "replant trees and give the community a job in the resort" REALLY!!! well, just don't build this shit in places like these i was thinking, haha. - i know how this envolves money, power and everything... but less impact? impossible, the whole idea is f*cked up. first i was calm trying to participate the debate, giving them another point of view, the community point of view.. things got strange... i was speaking calm but nobody was listening, and then at some point, people start attacking me like "you say all these stuff, but look at you!!! with your clothes and ipod"... i was so depressed and angry that i felt none of that was for me. this was only one episode... i ended up dropping tourism college, not for those things but these things really helped... now i study art and i can say that it's the same thing, but now i'm studying something i like and this makes me feel much better! i don't know how the education system in usa works (i'm very curious to understand) but here things are really wrong. i really hope you stay strong for what you believe, you are so lucky to have you family, boyfriend and friends surrounding you :) best wishes

    ReplyDelete
  59. thanks for this article. you did an amazing job of putting words to your feelings. i completely agree with your "rape prevention" statements. it's 100% true and i'm glad that you were able to come to the internet and find people that support you :)

    ReplyDelete
  60. I can't say that I'm surprised that I have to say this; can we all drop the damn rape mythology for goodness sake? The majority of women are NOT raped by guys in bars who drug their drinks, or scary men who jump out at them in the middle of the night. Most of them are uncles, friends, cousins, fathers, boyfriends, co-workers, family friends, classmates. Men you are supposed to trust, men you are told you have to trust. If your father is sexually abusing you, what good does staying indoors at night do? You would be safer in the streets at 2am, away from him. If your friend wants to rape you, what good does getting a ride home do? You would be safer walking home alone, away from him. If your boyfriend rapes you just after he's built up enough of your trust, what good does dressing modestly do? You'd be safer in a mini skirt at the bar, away from him.

    Can we talk about how women can prevent getting raped by these people? Because no one is going to like the answer: stay the hell away from men. Don't live with them, don't date them, don't be friends with them, don't work with them, don't go to school with them. Never be alone with any man. Never trust a man. Treat every man like a potential predator, even your own father or brother. To be really safe, go live on an island that bans any man from living on it. How do these tips sound? Hey dudes that like to offer their dumb ass opinions on how women can prevent getting raped, how would you like to live in a world where every woman, including your own girlfriend and mother, stayed the hell away from you? Was afraid to be alone with you? Treated you like a predator just waiting to pounce? I'm sure you'd be all for it, seeing how adamant you are about women preventing men from raping them. And I promise you that if women followed this handy dandy prevention tip of staying away from all men, the rape rates would be nil. But no one wants to follow their dumb ass opinions to their logical conclusion. They just want to wag their fingers at slutty girls who have the audacity to go out and drink alcohol and take risks, something only men used to be able to do.

    ReplyDelete
  61. I understand about how you feel about crying. I try not to cry too,because if I do then whoever is with me from my family acts like it's a huge deal. Also, I'm a tomboy and it might do with me trying to be a tough girl insome subconcious sense. Sometimes I'll be watching a movie, and something really sad will happen, and I think I'm going to cry waterfalls like a cartoon character, with a huge dramatic, "WHHHYYY!" then I end up laughing at the thought of that.

    ReplyDelete
  62. I mostly agree with the idea that we can't prevent rape, only rapists can. I have a couple of issues though.

    #1. Rapists are sick sociopaths, we can't reason with them as much as we'd like to. It's like thinking we can simply eradicate depression if the people who are sad will just cheer up.

    #2. There are certainly ways we can protect ourselves to reduce the risk just as we can against the many threats out there. This is not victim-blaming. You wouldn't blame someone who gets cancer for not living healthier, you would say "how sad you have cancer, let me comfort you" and at the same time take it as a cautionary tale for how you can be safer in your own life.

    ReplyDelete
  63. So, what's your solution? You brought up valid points and I generally agree with you. But how do you propose to fix it? To me it seems to fit in the category of how to stop every sort of crime, something that humanity has struggled with for thousands of years. It seems kind of a useless discussion, unless you bring up solutions.

    Yeah we know that rape is bad but does it really matter if people say, "gee, rape could be stopped if the rapists did...".

    Unfortunately, rapists are going to rape anyway and knowing that they're doing it won't help. If we assume that rape is a crime of passion (like some murders), the rapists don't have a clear mind and won't sit back to ponder the implications.

    It just comes back to the question, "What's your solution?". I don't have one but hopefully you do.

    ReplyDelete
  64. And yes, 20% is a certain amount, if you can stop it why not?

    ReplyDelete
  65. "We teach women how not to get raped instead of teaching men not to rape" I don't recall where I heard/read this but it suits well with what you wrote. Thanks for sharing...

    ReplyDelete
  66. May I have permission to steal this so that I can raise awareness? You will get full credit. Please and thank you for posting this, Glad im not alone!

    ReplyDelete
  67. I am astonished how many women in our country support rape and rapists. Also, women should know how men plan their rapes. Knowledge is good. Men and women should publicly denounce rapists in every social setting and in the media. I agree that much, much more needs to be done to send the message that rape is wrong, don't rape. Men should boldly denounce it whenever they hear guys talking about it and they should speak out against date rape drugs. The DEA should dedicate extensive funds in their budget to catching rapists who drug people. They should be hunting down these guys just like they hunt down tons of marijuana. Date rape drugs are far more serious!

    ReplyDelete