Rape Analogy Redux: The “Stroll In The Jungle” Theory
It's about time that this blog begin to address all the incoherent rape analogies that are floating around out there. Previously, we heard from people who believe that rape is like a natural disaster. We'll call this the Hurricane Rape Model: "Under this model, rape is like a hurricane. Everyone agrees that hurricanes are devastating. Hurricanes cannot be prevented—they can only be predicted, planned for, and vigilantly avoided. Because no one can be blamed for causing a hurricane, the onus is on the victims to make sure they stay out of the disaster’s path."
Today, a commenter submitted another absurd model for thinking about rape: The Stroll In the Jungle Theory. The commenter postulates that by turning up in places where women sometimes report being raped—like frat parties—women are exercising horrible judgment, much like the explorer who walks into the jungle loaded with "terrible and deadly beasts." He writes:
Going to a rowdy frat party just might really be exercise of bad judgment. If somebody takes a stroll into the jungle with full knowledge that there are terrible and deadly beasts out there that are known for killing people, because the stroller through the jungle likes taking strolls in jungles—that just may be some pretty bad judgment. That is, unless getting eaten was the intention (I’m assuming it wasn’t). Likewise, petting a hungry bear isn’t a wise thing to do, either. Also likewise, going to a frat party knowing that there may be dangerous people present may not be the wisest of choices.
Let's see how this analogy bears out. Hah. Get it? Bears? Anyway. Ways in which rape is not like a stroll in the jungle:
(1) Men are not like hungry bears. Unlike hungry bears, men do not have an insatiable survival instinct that forces them to rape women. The vast majority of men are not rapists. As commenter K points out: "To say a rapist is equivalent to a hungry bear is to say that they can not be held accountable for their actions," she writes. "I’ve been drunk hundreds of times with men I knew well and men I hardly knew at all. And not one of them has ever raped me." I have gone even deeper into the heart of darkness: I have been co-habitating with a hungry bear for some time now, and despite having hundreds of opportunities to do so, he has never raped me. Even when I'm sound asleep! Men are not like hungry bears.
(2) Getting eaten by bears is not a major social problem. Wikipedia lists 29 deaths by bear in North America over the past decade. Meanwhile, someone is sexually assaulted in the U.S. every two minutes. (A person is eaten by a bear in North America once every 181,241 minutes).
(3) Nevertheless, people take murderous bears really fucking seriously. When a person gets eaten by a bear in the wild, some people will respond by saying, "What a fucking idiot to get eaten by that bear!" But that sentiment is, at least, almost always accompanied by this one: "Holy shit! Man-eating bear on the loose!"
What is the fate of the man-eating bear? Many of the past decade's person-eaters were either shot, killed in some other way, pepper-sprayed, lured out of the wilderness with elaborate traps, or quarantined in animal training. Sixty percent of rapes are not even reported to police, which seriously impedes the government's ability to trap rapists. Why aren't these women reporting their rapes? Oh, perhaps it has s0mething to do with jungle rape theorists who suggest that everyone who gets raped is a big 'ol dumbass.
(4) There is not much societal benefit to reducing the number of jungle deaths. How much effort ought society devote to reducing the danger of jungle-strolling, and how much effort ought it expend to address the problem of rape? In order to answer this question, we'll have to examine the societal benefits to people taking walks in the jungle, and to women being in situations where rape is possible.
There is no societal benefit to people walking in the jungle, a fact which the U.S. government recognizes by not encouraging its citizens to walk in the jungle. If you like to walk in the jungle, whatever—that's your thing.
What does the government encourage women to do? The government does encourage women to get married, even though marriage is dangerous—raping your spouse was relatively recently outlawed across the U.S. The government does encourage women to contribute in their communities, even though being acquainted with other people is dangerous—73 percent of rape victims know their attackers. The government does encourage women to attend college, even though attending school-sponsored functions (like frat parties) is dangerous—sometimes, women are raped there.
Since over half of our society is female, it makes sense that society would work to allow women to lead full lives. That means leaving the home, working, attending parties, getting an education, having relationships with women and men, and generally doing what humans do—without the constant fear of being raped. In order to (a) allow women to live their lives, and (b) prevent them from being raped, the only thing left to do is (c) not allow people to rape. That's it.
(5) Women can't escape the jungle. Women aren't raped because they attend frat parties, or get drunk, or walk alone at night—they're raped because they're women. One in six women will be
raped sexually assaulted in their lifetimes, compared to one in 33 men. Are women far more likely than men to attend frat parties? No, "frat parties" don't rape people. Rapists do. It's easy to look at every rape victim and say, "that girl shouldn't have put herself in that situation." It's so, so lazy to say that. It's much harder to put the time and energy and work and funding into actually eliminating rape. But you know what? It's not difficult at all to admit that that's what needs to happen.
Photo via allspice1, Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0