The Sexist

On the Difficulty of “Saying No”

Kathryn Holmquist's little piece of horrific sex advice—sometimes, girls, it's "too late to say no”—has evolved into a more advanced discussion on this blog. The question: Why should women be required to say "no" in the first place?

The "no means no" mantra that Holmquist is railing against is itself pretty old-school. "No means no" operates on the outdated assumption that men are the "scorers," women are the "gatekeepers," and the goal of every sexual encounter is for men to sneak past a woman's line of defense and get her to not say no. In this model, the default setting of women's bodies is "available." Only by verbalizing a "no" can a woman signal that her body is not up for grabs. In recent years, that bullshit has been replaced by more progressive models which focus on raising the consent bar from "absence of no" to "enthusiastic yes."

On the other hand, "no" is still a really helpful tool for women to use when they must quite urgently communicate to a person that, actually, he does not own her body. Mrs. D lays it out:

“no” should be said, clearly, when the first unwanted interaction occurs. A guy starts to get handsy, you push his hand away, and say “no, stop it.” You’re making out with a guy, and he wants more, you stop what you’re doing and verbally make it clear you’re not interested in more. Most women won’t do this…they’ll do a fully choreographed routine to get away from him without directly telling him no. That is social conditioning imposed on women that needs to change.

She makes a good point: Because women are consistently told that their bodies are public property, it can be a pretty transgressive, frightening, and even dangerous move to tell a man "no." Saying "no" communicates to a man that he does not own you, and if you're dealing with a rapist, he may not take too kindly to that suggestion. This power gives "no" its effectiveness, but it also makes the word sometimes difficult to verbalize. (At this point, I'd like to stop and administer another big fuck-you to Kathryn Holmquist for making saying "no" even harder).

When is it difficult to say "no"? Obviously, if a person is passed out drunk, it can be impossible to verbalize a no. It can also be difficult to say "no" when there is a physical and social power dynamic encouraging you to stay silent—when your sex partner is stronger than you, older than you, more respected than you, more confident than you, 0r simply maler than you (remember the part about everyone just assuming that men have a claim on a woman's body?) In other words, it can be difficult to say "no" when you find yourself in a rape scenario.

But acquaintance rapes present a peculiar barrier to saying "no." In an acquaintance rape, the power dynamic is a little bit different—you may be hanging out with someone who is bigger, stronger, and maler than you are, but you know them and you trust them. You're friends. That implicit power imbalance doesn't even enter your brain. A couple of comments left on a Daily Kos piece on rape discuss how that sense of security can make "no" a lot more difficult:

There's something so incredibly surreal about being the victim of a violent attack for the first time. Even growing up female, knowing that rape happens all too often, the first time you're struck, or groped, or your clothes are torn, it's such an incredible disconnect from your normal existence that it's hard for your brain to process. Date rape is even worse, the change in context from normal conversation to violence.

You can end up a "deer in headlights" while your mind tries to process and catch up to what is going on. Going to a high school dance is not like entering a war zone. You don't expect to be the victim of violence when a classmate wants to hang out with you. Because you're not in that mindset, it takes some time to reach the conclusion that there's a threat of serious bodily harm to you. No matter how many times you've been told that the world's a bad place, that first moment of violence directed at you, in a lifetime otherwise characterized by love and acceptance, it is unbelievably shocking and it imposes a lag time in your response that makes it unreasonable to believe that pulling a gun in self-defense would be a viable option. I speak from experience. I was already being violated by the time I realized what was happening.

Another commenter echoes that sentiment:

It was probably two or three minutes before it even occurred to me to scream.

It's good to tell girls that it's never too late to say "no." But we must also teach our kids the importance of waiting for a "yes"—because by the time someone can say "no," it may already be too late.

Photo by smlp.co.uk, Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0

  • http://abyss2hope.blogspot.com abyss2hope

    @TJ, you make great points. One of the ways that those who have raped 1 or more times but who don't fit the stereotype of rapist can commit this crime is by their giving toxic messages they've heard, such as the idea that it can be too late for a girl or woman to say no, priority over someone's actual lack of consent.

    Some of those who rape will see the truth of the harm caused by their intentional actions and rid themselves of those toxic beliefs. Others will glimpse the truth and the pain they caused and respond by rejecting that truth and declaring their rape victim a liar.

  • http://abyss2hope.blogspot.com abyss2hope

    @victor, When actions which are not accidental are labeled as such then objecting to someone who repeatedly insists on being inaccurate has nothing to do with silencing men. That you find an inaccurate label convenient is not a valid reason for others to find this acceptable.

    You say you care about preventing rape but do you care enough to drop the defensiveness when you are challenged on the specifics of what you say and how you say it?

    You wrote: "anyone who thinks that an individual requires empathy to be allowed into this discussion is doing a disservice to rape victims, past and future."

    The problem is you are trying to do more than discuss rape, you are positioning yourself as an authority in this discussion when you are not. If you don't have empathy then you don't understand the full reality of rpae. Your responses to TJ make it clear that you don't understand the example she gave yet you cling to the label you have applied to that example.

    If what you are claiming to be true is wrong and people have firsthand knowledge which disproves your claims then it isn't anti-male bigotry which causes women to tell you are wrong or to view you as someone with little or no credibility.

    Falling back on the claim that you are being intellectual is a lame excuse because failing to fully understand reality is not intellectual. Same goes for falling back on the excuse that your statements are being challenged only because you are a man. Finding examples of other men who have gotten the same response means nothing if those other men take the similar approaches and positions as you are taking.

    I'm actively involved in sexual violence prevention with many men and I've only heard 1 or 2 statements from any of the men involved in this work which I'd challenge. They have worked to gain understanding, empathy and intellectualism and I have praised both their words and their work. So this idea that I reject some of what you say because you are a man is nonsense.

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  • victor

    @ abyss

    "You say you care about preventing rape " no, I didn't. I said that I continually hear people on this thread DEMAND that men prevent rape. What I want has not been discussed.

    " you are positioning yourself as an authority in this discussion when you are not" no, I have never positioned myself as an authority. I have stated specific instances where I simple patterns can be seen. To imply I consider myself an authority is again, to put words in my mouth.

    "Your responses to TJ make it clear that you don’t understand the example she gave yet you cling to the label you have applied to that example." Again false. I clearly stated twice now, that you or others can feel free to chose another word, as long as we maintain the definition. No one has proffered one.

    "Finding examples of other men who have gotten the same response means nothing if those other men take the similar approaches and positions as you are taking."
    Gee.... so you don't use exclusionary tactics when the men agree with you? Good to know.

    "I’ve only heard 1 or 2 statements from any of the men involved in this work which I’d challenge. " Great. So you agree with them all the time. This again goes back to why you never try to use any exclusionary tactics with them.

    In fact, pretty much the only two declaratory statements I've bothered to stand by are: 1 - rapists who are starting their day with the idea "I want to rape" are predators; and 2 - If a guy you know rapes you, odds are he wasn't really your friend.

    I think its really funny that these are concepts you really have a problem with.

  • Jess

    Oh, Victor, you are such a moron. Rape is a terrible, violent, traumatizing crime. If you aren't interested in preventing it, then you are either a criminal yourself, or completely amoral. Nobody has asked you what you want because none of us care what you want. We care about preventing rape, which is what this article is about, and what this discussion was about before you derailed it with your pseudointellectual bullshit. Also, of course we demand that men prevent rape. We also demand that women prevent rape. But since men are the ones doing the raping, it's a hell of a lot easier for you all to just NOT RAPE than for us to spend our whole lives in a state of fear, constraining ourselves with elaborate security precautions. Which is the current state of things.

    Look, you comment on practically everything Amanda writes, yet you seem totally uninterested in learning the basic tenets and vocabulary of feminism, and instead you whine at Amanda and your fellow commenters for explanations of simple things like "acquaintance rape" and "enthusiastic consent." We're not inventing feminism from scratch, over here: spend ten minutes on Google, or even Wikipedia, and learn some fucking rape statistics and rape prevention techniques before you flounce in here and tell us we're being "illogical" and "inconsistent."

  • http://abyss2hope.blogspot.com abyss2hope

    @victor, if you don't care about preventing rape then I'm not the one excluding you from this effort, you are.

    The difference between you and those other men I mentioned is not that they agree with me on everything and you don't but that they care about preventing rape, they care about me and others who have been victims of sexual violence, and are willing to listen and learn when they make assumptions about sexual violence which are incorrect.

    Because they care deeply and empathise with victims and survivors they can bring their own experiences to the work of preventing violence and their unique insights in turn can help me learn more as well.

  • victor

    @ jess...
    "If you aren’t interested in preventing it, then you are either a criminal yourself, or completely amoral." again, I have not said I don't care about preventing it. I have said nothing about what I want. It isn't even part of the discussion, yet you and others seem so willing to pidgeonhole me one way or the other. And then after doing so, you call me a moron for a stand I have never taken. cute.
    "Nobody has asked you what you want because none of us care what you want." thats perfectly acceptable.

    "and what this discussion was about before you derailed it with your pseudointellectual bullshit" no, your discussion was stroking each other's egos over amanda attacking some other journalistic piece in a manner which was completely inconsistent (in my mind) with something she had written just a day earlier.

    "But since men are the ones doing the raping, it’s a hell of a lot easier for you all to just NOT RAPE .." That's going to have just as much impact as telling people "just don't murder". Reasonable people don't, but hey, every now and then you find a dude with 35 bodies under his house. If you think telling men "just don't rape" is going to solve your problem your cause is already lost. I'm asking questions about motivation, ideas which if an individual knew the answers to, would help them to segment a population of rapists/potential rapists and identify methods of either educating some and isolating the others from society. But I'm sure just telling them all not to rape is just as good.

    "Look, you comment on practically everything Amanda writes, yet you seem totally uninterested in learning the basic tenets and vocabulary of feminism"
    I comment when I find something interesting or inconsistent. If you are what constitutes a feminist, I honestly don't want to learn your "tenets" and "vocabulary", I think you make a piss-poor feminist. Why should that stop me from reading Amanda's blog? Hell, it just gets her more hits/popularity.

    "whine at Amanda and your fellow commenters for explanations of simple things like “acquaintance rape” and “enthusiastic consent."
    Interesting, since I've never asked for explanations regarding "enthusiastic consent" or "acquaintance rape", but since you mention it, I have yet to see one of the commenters provide a consistent description of "acquaintance rape". Funny you should accuse me of not knowing when those you support seem so inconsistent.

    "learn some fucking rape statistics and rape prevention techniques before you flounce in here and tell us we’re being “illogical” and “inconsistent.”"
    ummm... great, so if I say you are inconsistent from statement A to statement B, I am told to go to google and look up information on statement C. Hey! That's illogical!

  • victor

    @abyss -
    As jess pointed out, my "caring" is not the issue, and I have not stated one way or the other (nor will I).

    however, any ultimate rape prevention policy or law will ultimately impact me and every other male. As such, you need to recognize that the public is going to view these from a much different set of experiences than those of you who are so close to it. The feminist "vocabulary" that jess is so proud of having is absolutely useless when you have to communicate an idea to the general public. It is only effective if you are going to be communicating an idea to your insular group.

    I would like to point out that you have yet to tell me why you have a problem with my two statements. Your criticism of me seems to be that I'm not a warm and fuzzy person. I'd personally rather stay on topic, and I don't believe my warm and fuzziness was on topic until someone criticized me for not shedding crocodile tears.

  • Jess

    The topic, as summarized at the end of the article: "It’s good to tell girls that it’s never too late to say “no.” But we must also teach our kids the importance of waiting for a “yes”—because by the time someone can say “no,” it may already be too late."

    Victor, you are WAY off topic, in more ways than I care to count. Your "two statements" are both so ridiculous, in the face of basic knowledge about rape and rapists, that nobody is bothering to address them. And if you believe, as you stated above, that research into rape statistics and effective rape prevention is irrelevant to a discussion about who rapists are, what their motivations are, and how to prevent them from raping, then you are clearly someone who needs to return to high school before attempting to engage in serious debate with adults.

  • http://abyss2hope.blogspot.com abyss2hope

    @victor: "I have yet to see one of the commenters provide a consistent description of “acquaintance rape”"

    Here you go:
    stranger rape - stranger + acquaintance

  • Niveau

    "In fact, pretty much the only two declaratory statements I’ve bothered to stand by are: 1 – rapists who are starting their day with the idea “I want to rape” are predators; and 2 – If a guy you know rapes you, odds are he wasn’t really your friend."

    Victor: Your second point is true. If someone you previously considered a friend rapes you, he wasn't a true friend at all. For him to commit this rape indicates that he considers what he wants to be more important than your ability to consent, or to choose NOT to consent.

    But where I have a problem with what you've been saying is the first point, which does touch on the second. The impression your comments give is that only predators rape, and that predators consistantly think "I want to rape someone."

    Most convicted rapists don't self-identify as such. When interviewed, they honestly don't believe that what they did was rape. Instead, they insist that something about the victim's dress or actions conveyed a message of consent. Even if the victim said "no," something else about them had indicated a "yes," so the rapist felt he had a green light. Even if his actions were predatory, he didn't start out thinking "I want to rape," he started out choosing to believe that something about the woman had given her consent, regardless of what she was saying. (I'm not saying that there aren't rapists who consciously choose to rape, but most do use this line of reasoning to excuse themselves.)

    The same logic applies to those who commit acquaintance rape. The rapist chooses to ignore the victim's verbal non-consent or lack of consent, and instead chooses to focus on something about her that he feels enables him to continue. It's not about him wanting to commit a rape, it's about him feeling that the victim's non-consent is irrelevant in light of something she said, did, or wore earlier.

    Both stranger rapes and acquaintance rapes are about the rapist believing that he has the right to decide whether someone wants to consent or not. The circumstances may differ, but the mentality is the same.

    And while the acquaintance who rapes you may show that he's not a true friend when he does that, it's not unreasonable to think that a woman would have considered him a friend up to that point. It's impossible to know how someone's going to react in a situation until they're in it. You don't know how someone will react to being denied consent in a sexual situation until it happens. Some of the nicest, gentlest people I know also love horror movies. Does this love change the way the act in day-to-day situations? Not at all. If I hadn't learned that they loved horror films, I wouldn't have expected it. Similarly, a man can seem kind until he's denied a sexual act he feels he has the right to.

  • Trix

    @ Victor:

    "I said that I continually hear people on this thread DEMAND that men prevent rape. "

    Since it is mostly men who do the raping, who, in fact, are we supposed to ask (or demand) that they stop doing it? Other than the men who do?

    Regarding "rapists who are starting their day with the idea “I want to rape” are predators", that's been addressed upthread. But no-one is disagreeing per se. What they are saying is that not all rapists (perhaps not even most) are "predators" according to your definition. A lot of rape is opportunistic - hey, the chick has passed out at the party, I might as well fuck her - it's -still- rape.

    As for the "feminist vocabulary", I'm very sorry, but what on earth is so hard about the message "don't have sex with people unless they explicitly say yes to it"?

    I really fail to see the arcane terminology there, although perhaps you have a more nuanced perception. But what we are mostly trying to say here is if you haven't said "yes", you're not consenting. If you're not consenting, it's rape. Simple.

  • Fuchsia

    Many thanks to Niveau for voicing very clearly exactly what I set out to say. Other than that there are two points I would like to make:

    1) Re: the whole rapist question. My understanding of American criminal law is hazy at best (I studied law in Europe and moreover am not specialised in criminal law), but I would like to point out that for a defendant to be found guilty of a crime it is indeed not sufficient merely that the actus reus be committed (the guilty act in other words), but the perpetrator would also have to be found to have the correct mental state, the corresponding mens rea. If the perpetrator did not have intent, he is not found guilty of the crime. I think this is what TJ is getting at above by stating that raping once does not necessarily make you a rapist and also possibly what Victor means when insisting on the term “accidental rape”. I stand by my original position that a rapist is simply defined as somebody who is guilty of rape, even if they only committed the act once and have since seen the error of their ways – in order however to be guilty of rape both the actus reus and the mens rea have to be present. If either one or the other are absent (either you did not intend to commit rape or you thought you were committing rape, but as it turns out you had consent all along), you have not committed rape and are accordingly not a rapist. Having said that, I think that once the word “no” or other phrasing to that effect have been uttered by the victim, proving the lack of mens rea is very difficult, no matter how much the rapist might regret his decision at a later point in time.

    Whether you fit the stereotype of the rapist is irrelevant to the above – you can both have committed rape in the past, and therefore be a rapist, and nevertheless not fit the stereotype, or you can fit the stereotype and still have managed up till now to avoid actually committing rape, meaning that you technically are not (yet at least) a rapist.

    The word rapist however is very different to the word alcoholic and in this I disagree with TJ. Alcoholic refers to somebody who not merely consumes alcohol, but abuses it and is addicted. The repetitive nature is an essential part of the definition. To the contrary, I’d be very hard pressed to define “rapist” as “somebody addicted to rape” and know of no dictionary or legal literature that would accept such a definition.

    2) Victor is very right in stating that there is value in engaging men who are not already sold on the whole concept of feminism. How else do feminists ever expect to make their (very correct IMHO) opinions of the world mainstream? Alienating and pooh-poohing people who are merely repeating the prevalent sexist and rapey messages our society has consistently taught them from an early age does not get anybody anywhere. I don’t know about the rest of the people taking part in this conversation, but yes, I do remember the time when I realised that a woman has a right to say no to a man at any point before or during intercourse. It was not something that I considered obvious or natural however, not a lesson I heard repeated around me constantly around me growing up, but one I had to reach by pitting my own logic against society’s narratives around sex and rape and challenging the conventional wisdom.

  • victor

    @niveau
    I actually don't disagree with a single thing you said. I have never claimed that the group I was describing defined all rapists, just a subset. I honestly don't know what percentage of rapes are committed by which groups.

    Ultimately, what I was trying to get at (and what apparently I failed at completely) is that the entire "enthusiastic consent" concept ignores whatever percentage of rapists who rape BECAUSE they want to dominate and defile their subject (as opposed to thinking the subject is giving consent because of they way she dresses etc.). This means that no matter how successful feminists are at promoting "enthusiastic consent", the tips provided by Homquist are still going to be valid (at least the ones which seemed to be avoiding situations you can't get the hell out of quickly) because there are still f*ed up people out there.

  • victor

    @ fuchsia
    I do believe we are coming to some sort of accord here. Frightening, isn't it. :)

  • http://abyss2hope.blogspot.com abyss2hope

    @Fuchsia, on mens rea in rape cases the person does not need to intend to rape in the sense of properly labeling their action as such. They need to intend to commit the crime of rape in the sense of violating the criminal statute.

    To use a non-sex crime example, someone who intends to steal a car may tell himself all he's doing is borrowing it, but this does not mean there is no mens rea. He knew he had no right to drive off in that car but he did it anyway. His rationalization that what he did wasn't a real car theft is not a valid defense.

    The problem in rape cases is that the rationalizations of rapists for why it is okay for them to do something they have no legal right to do is often treated as if it is proof that there is no mens rea when the rationalization indicates that the rapist knew his actions were wrong. Once someone looks for excuses for why their actions don't count as a real crime they know what they are doing is wrong.

  • victor

    @ trix,

    My problem with the demanding men stop rape concept is very simple, it's going to fail. It puts blame and responsibility on all men for action they have little to no control over (unless they are actually rapists, or happen to be standing around while someone is being raped). This is going to alienate a huge group of people who you actually need to work with. Can men in general improve the situation? Of course, and the incidences of rape through lack of consent CAN be reduced by working with men to make sure society as a whole comes to an "accord" regarding what consent really is (to BOTH parties, to phrase this discussion as a "men must ask consent of women" concept skews it and does a disservice to women, because it automatically puts them in the submissive/object to be attained role).

    But that's not going to stop rape. It will reduce it, but even at 100% success, it isn't going to stop it. As an average guy (actually, I'm really great, not average at all) I would be immediately turned off by a slogan telling me I have to shoulder the blame for any remaining sociopaths who actually do rape for the pleasure of raping. This means you aren't going to get the support that you need from the masses, and the concept (as a bumper sticker type slogan) will fail.

  • victor

    @ abyss
    :)
    if "stranger rape – stranger + acquaintance = acquaintance rape"
    then what does "(stranger rape - stranger + acquaintance * premeditation)/(1/violence)" = ?

  • Fuchsia

    @abyss2hope

    Obviously! I completely agree! What in my post made you think that I meant the rapist's labelling of his actions was in any way relevant?

  • TJ

    @victor

    You're being cute. And not in an actual "cute" way. If you need an equation (or in my case, a proof), here it is.

    stranger rape = rape

    acquaintance rape = rape

    Therefore,

    stranger rape = acquaintance rape because rape is rape no matter what adjective you put in front of it.

    Honestly, that was my point of my original example. It doesn't matter if it was premeditated, someone jumping out of the bushes, someone you just met at the bar, or (in my case) someone you've known for over a decade, it's still rape. And just like abyss2hope and Fuchsia pointed out, it doesn't matter how the person committing the assault views it in his/her mind (we really need to get out of viewing this as only men who rape women. Remember male-male rape , female-female rape, and female-male rape). The action itself is still rape.

    I think the tension that you are getting from some of the other commenters is that you are minimizing the act by trying to categorize it. There are no "oops" rapes. You either rape or you don't.

  • victor

    @TJ
    Of course rape = rape. That has never been in question, and any individual who thinks it has been is putting words in my mouth. The significance in categorization is in the prevention of future rapes. I don't know why this is not getting through, but categorizing a rape as a type of rape is not actually diminishing its value as a rape. If I is a murder victim any less dead whether the murderer committed a premeditated act, or shot them as a random passerby?

    Furthermore, if you refuse to categorize rapes based on the rapists motivation, and treat all acts of rape as the same from a prevention standpoint, you will fail and people will get raped.

    And yes, I do act a little "cute" (and admit it, I'm adorable) at times. Would you rather I choose to start calling people morons and tell them to f%k off like some of the more charming individuals here?

  • Jess

    "I have never claimed that the group I was describing defined all rapists, just a subset. I honestly don’t know what percentage of rapes are committed by which groups."

    "As an average guy... I would be immediately turned off by a slogan telling me I have to shoulder the blame for any remaining sociopaths who actually do rape for the pleasure of raping"

    As every other commenter here has attempted to tell you: average guys commit rape. Rapists are average guys. Most rapists are not sociopaths; most rapists aren't even strangers to their victim. The vast majority of rapist (various studies report a range from 75 to 90 percent) are known to their victims. Crazed serial rapists are about as common as crazed serial killers: that is to say, not very common at all. Which is why "DEMANDING" that "average guys" not rape is actually a highly logical thing to do.

    When you dismiss or ignore these facts, as you have done repeatedly here, or refuse to do basic research on the subject on which you are presenting yourself as an expert (which you are, by dismissing everyone else's contributions as less valid than your own) and when you make "cute" little comments about "oops" rapes and the like, not only do you seem to be someone who very much isn't interested in preventing rape, you also seem to be someone who is new to the concept of intelligent debate.

    So, Victor: go read a book, or a decent internet article. Learn what the differences are between stranger rape, acquaintance rape, and partner rape. Learn about rape as premeditated assault (your favorite kind!) as a crime of opportunity, and as a weapon of war. Learn about the legal definition of consent; learn about the feminist definition of enthusiastic consent. Read the piles of literature out there, written by psychologists and sociologists (many of them men, and therefore reliably logical and consistent) about the different types of rapists, what their motivations are, and how none of the motivations matter even slightly when it comes to the trauma experienced by the victim.

    I'm sorry if I'm not being nice enough to you. It's possible that in your day-to-day life you're a stand-up guy. But if you are a good guy, you're strong and smart enough to hear this: Victor, in this internet discussion, you are not nearly well-informed enough to be making the kinds of sweeping statements you are making. You have no business attempting to replace well-established and widely-used terms for different categories of rape with bullshit terms you made up by yourself like "accidental rape." By coming into a discussion about how to prevent violence against women and acting like you, a guy, are smarter and more logical than all of the women who are politely trying to explain to you basic shit they already know, you are being arrogant and rude.

    In short, come back when you know what you're talking about and nobody will call you names and hurt your feelings. As long as you stop being a dick.

  • MA

    But men can stop rape. I'm not asking for a bumper sticker.

    Don't laugh at rape jokes. Make it clear that you think no rape is ever OK. Know that you have friends and relatives that you think are wonderful people that may need to hear this message.

    Unless you witness something, that's all you can do is let people know that it's not cool. But that's a powerful thing. Women who talk about rape are called harpys and crap like that. If you talk about it as a guy, a guy will listen with a different set of ears, he won't automatically judge what you're saying as biased like he would if it was from a woman. And it may sink in and he'll realize his way of thinking is not OK.

    I, personally, am a feminist who loves men and I'm not trying to blame any man for a rape he didn't do. But I will be dissapointed if a guy I care about doesn't speak out and against anything that seems to make light of rape or justify rape. You're right, there are psychpaths, who are a very small minority of the people who rape. The majority are guys who think it is normal and OK, and if they regularly got the message from the guys around them that it wasn't OK to rape, it wasn't a cool or macho thing, and that behavior like that wasn't respected...well, they wouldn't do it because they would want to fit into society. that's how men who wouldn't rape can stop rape.

  • victor

    @ jess...
    funny. you keep saying I'm trying to act like an authority, when a number of times I've actually stated things like "I have no idea what the percentage breakdown would be..." or "Do you think this constitutes a majority?". Hell, count the number of question marks in my posts.

    But what's even funnier, is I did a quick search to see if there are any easy to find statistics. And guess what? Interviews with incarcerated rapists seem to indicate a very high percentage raped out of anger or power issues, not the "small minority" you claim. Additionally, according to one statistic I found a majority of rapes are PLANNED.

    So, it seems I can't be that wrong.

    Oh, and by the way, you keep getting stuck on this "most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows" statement... motivation for rape is in no way linked to whether the victim knows the person or not. These are two completely separate variables. And you yourself are caught in some sort of "mythical crazed serial rapist" stereotype. Why must he be crazed? A study of military date rape indicated that these guys planned to go out, get women incapacitated and have sex with them. That sounds like a serial rapist to me. hell, that sounds like premeditated acquaintance rape, and its almost the exact same situation I described in one of my first few posts.

    Next time you decide to chastise me for not understanding anything, make sure you're going to be right first.

  • b.g.

    Fuchsia, men like Victor who derail discussions about rape with word games and other "intellectual games" aren't arguing in good faith. They're trying to make it all about them. This is a pattern seen over and over and over on feminist blogs without strong moderation. (And, of course, when these special snowflakes *are* moderated out, they whine about "feminist censorship.")

    Screw Victor; he's not interested in learning anything. He's just offended that women are having a discussion that doesn't make men the first priority, and he's doing everything to disrupt it.

  • http://abyss2hope.blogspot.com abyss2hope

    @Fuchsia, Sorry, I could have been clearer. I was trying to address how many people misinterpret mens rea when it comes to rape. I wasn't assuming you misinterpreted this requirement.

    @Victor, This: "Interviews with incarcerated rapists seem to indicate a very high percentage raped out of anger or power issues" does not contradict anything Jess wrote here as you seem to think it does.

    When what the other person wants or doesn't want doesn't matter that's a power issue.

  • Amy

    Wow, Victor is still trolling? That's impressive.

    Dudes come into threads like this, get into semantic arguments about something that affects women deeply, and then bitch about how we're not appreciating their (completely uninfomed) intellectual take on the matter and that we just aren't interested in respecting the opinion of a man.

    Then they end up dominating the entire discussion for days.

    Surprise.

    From experience: this isn't a teachable moment for this guy. He's not interested in listening. Maybe someday he will be, but clearly this isn't it if he can't even bring himself to accept the widely used terms of the discussion but must establish his own "definitions" and insist everyone here adhere to his reinvention of the wheel.

  • Fuchsia

    @Victor.

    I don’t think Jess at any point claimed that most rapes are crimes of opportunity. I think I might actually possibly have contributed to the confusion on this point earlier myself by trying to explain acquaintance rape through the example of opportunistic acquaintance rape – my bad. What has however been repeatedly stated by commentators on this topic is that acquaintance and partner rape are substantially commoner than stranger rape. Please try to stop objecting to these statements by explaining that what you’re interested is the rapist’s motivation – statistics on that matter are likely hard to find (I personally don’t know of any relevant studies at any rate) because motivation (as opposed, I should point out, to intent, which is necessary for all rapes, regardless of the rapists’ objective in committing them) is an internal process difficult to prove rather than an easily countable hard fact. Moreover, the prevalence of acquaintance rape is essential when discussing whether rapists are identifiable in bars.

    The fact that most rapes are planned is likewise irrelevant to what myself and other commentators are trying to explain here: you do not need to be a hardened criminal to plan a rape. If you are just a regular guy, who nonetheless have been raised in a sexist, rape-promoting society, that is more than sufficient and will moreover serve to camouflage you well from prospective victims. If you believe that women do not really desire sex or are (or should be) timid about expressing their desire and therefore have to have their arm twisted to consent, if you believe that men “need” sex and are entitled to regular access to female bodies to satisfy their primal urges, if you think that it is possible for a woman to enjoy her rape, if you believe that getting a woman blind drunk is a good way to get some, if you blame your lack of success in the dating world on demanding, irrational women denying you what is rightfully yours, if you think that being a good kisser or lay makes you incapable of raping, if you think that marriage grants you perpetual power over your spouse’s body, if you’re the kind of guy that doesn’t stop to make sure that the person you’re kissing is kissing you back, then, well, you might also be the kind of guy that does not stop himself in the middle of the action of planning what is in fact rape to say “hey, wait, a sec! What I’m planning is a *rape* and that’s *bad* and not just something that they tell us is bad but actually in certain circumstances – such as my own, right here! – is actually A-ok, but really and truly always *bad*!” It is too much for society to expect that all its members at all moments in time will instinctively do the right thing – that is why we put so much emphasis on teaching people e.g. that murder or armed robbery are bad. The same lesson is of course meted out regarding rape as well, but the supporting explanations as to *why* rape is bad are usually wishy-washy. In fact, when you break down the messages society sends out on the questions of sex and rape, often they can be seen to actually *promote* rape-inducing mentalities, even while rape itself is condemned, thus leading to an astounding level of confusion as to the nature of the crime and failing to limit rape the way it otherwise might be.

    Let me try and say this in a language you might understand better: it is possible for somebody to plan a rape and therefore be a “predator” without however thinking of themselves as a rapist and still mostly coming across as a regular guy, because society has failed to transmit the lesson that getting a woman drunk to the point of incapacitation is rapey, predatory behaviour, but has been much more successful in beating in the lesson that when a man’s pride is hurt somebody weaker than himself must pay.

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  • J.M.

    Amanda: "It’s not the victim’s duty to stop a violation, it’s a violator’s duty not to violate." Nice theory, how's it working for the thousands of women who are raped every day across the globe because the violator's sense of duty is either temporarily or permanently on hold? In the real world, it takes two not to tango.

  • http://abyss2hope.blogspot.com abyss2hope

    JM, If it takes 2 to keep rape happening then those 2 would be rapists and those who refuse to put the moral and legal responsibility for each rape onto the rapist thereby helping that rapist put his (or less often her) sense of duty either temporarily or permanently on hold.

  • http://gangboxnews.blogspot.com Gregory A Butler

    "“No means no” operates on the outdated assumption that men are the “scorers,” women are the “gatekeepers,” and the goal of every sexual encounter is for men to sneak past a woman’s line of defense and get her to not say no"

    I'm sorry, but the "gatekeeper model" is far from an "Outdated Assumption".

    It's how most folks in this country conduct their sexual lives.

    Is there a LOT wrong with the "Gatekeeper Model" - HELL YES - it forces men to be sex aggressors (and puts nonaggressive men into a purgatory of sexlessness) and it forces women to be sex gatekeepers (and punishes women who actually like sex).

    But - outside of a few pockets of enlightenment in upper class neighborhoods in big cities in the blue states and a few liberal college towns - it is the dominant model, and any attempt to challenge the "Gatekeeper Model" begins with recognizing that it's still how most folks lead their sex lives.

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