Monday, April 24, 2006

I'm On Thin Ice!

In this previous post, in which I critiqued a Wall Street Journal commentary that posited to some extent that if women are raped, it's often because they are not using their common sense, and that is the fault of feminists. The authors at Feministing and Broadsheet composed similar criticisms of the piece. In response, I received this anonymous comment (fully copied below):

Anonymous said...
Oooooooo! You're stepping on thin ice here. Feminist don't like the idea of women taking responsibility for their own actions. Guys know better than to venture into dangerous plces because guys knw if something were to happen, we'd hve to defend ourselves, so we stay out of dark allies and other areas known for dangerous activities like drug sales etc... But women, according to feminist, have the right to be anywhere, and if something bad happens, it's not there fault because it's her right.

I get upset with this drinking and sex. If she was too drunk to consent to sex, how do we know that he wasn't too drunk to notice?


Now, let's take this point by point:
"You're stepping on thin ice here."
Thanks for the word of advice.

"Feminist don't like the idea of women taking responsibility for their own actions."
First of all, feminism doesn't mean the same thing to every person, so there may be some women who think as you have suggested and call themselves feminists. However, the basic tenet of feminism, when you really strip it down, is just that women should have the right to make their own choices. This could mean freedom to own their own property, vote, have an abortion, or to have a job, and fair compensation, where she is qualified. In none of that is the freedom from the responsibilities that come with those choices. You have an abortion and regret it, you cast a vote and regret that your guy was the victor, you live with that, but at least you have the right to have some input into the forces shaping your life. The women who are raped may have made less than stellar choices, or heck, may not have been psychically able to predict doom, but that doesn't obliterate the responsibility of the rapist to follow the law. In the case of rape, the responsibility rests squarely with the rapist. People have a legally defined responsibility not to rape, and there are no exceptions because you find a drunk girl in a bar to be vulnerable or irresistible or forcible.

"Guys know better than to venture into dangerous plces because guys knw if something were to happen, we'd hve to defend ourselves, so we stay out of dark allies and other areas known for dangerous activities like drug sales etc..."
What every individual decides is dangerous is different in different times and places. Women typically try to avoid danger, and likewise know they may have to defend themselves. Believe me, women think about this all the time. Take a look at some of Aunt B's writing for an example. The difference is, just about anywhere can be a dangerous place, given the right combination of people and circumstances. Women and girls may be assaulted at home, raped by a teacher, or even raped and killed by a husband. On the other hand, we have to continue to live our lives, buy groceries, and occassionally have a drink in a bar just to preserve our own sanity. Just as your shooter would not be excused had you gotten lost and accidentally driven into an unfamiliar and dangerous area, the rapist is no more off the hook because a woman is in a bar, and it's no more forgiveable. Meanwhile, men continue to outnumber women in counts of violent crime victims, so either you don't actually know better, also find it necessary in the course of a life to sometimes appear in questionable locations, or you're likewise confused about where and when is dangerous.

"If she was too drunk to consent to sex, how do we know that he wasn't too drunk to notice?"
We don't know this, and it's an interesting point to ponder on some level. However, he or she who initiates the actual sex is responsible for obtaining consent. We don't actually know that he was drunk at all - we know she was. Of course there are two stories to be told, and likely details we don't know. Also, ask yourself if the "too drunk to notice" excuse would similarly hold if a drunk person hit and injured another driver or murdered someone.

Finally, "I get upset with this drinking and sex"
Would you care to clarify that? Surely you're not suggesting that when alcohol is involved, rape can never occur.

That's just my few cents on the topic, and I don't consider myself a feminist scholar. I do think this is a serious women's health issue, however, which is why I've taken the time to respond, despite being sick today. We'll get back to more benign topics soon, but I'm interested in what drives this kind of thinking, and how others respond to it. I don't normally do memes, but I'm hereby tagging the following people to also respond with comments, if they'd be so kind:
Aunt B
Ivy
Kat
Brittney
And anybody else who wants to.

Technorati Tags: ; ;
MeSH Tags: Rape

3 Comments:

Blogger Kat Coble said...

I will have a response as soon as I'm cogently able to put something together.

6:48 PM  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

I did it, although on second thought I'm not so sure how cogent it actually was.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Hilary said...

Hi! I am a new friend of Ivy's. I am not sure - have you seen this? It may have been what sparked the convo in the first place:

A lot has been said about how to prevent rape.
Women should learn self-defense. Women should lock themselves in their
houses after dark. Women shouldn't have long hair and women shouldn't wear
short skirts. Women shouldn't leave drinks unattended. Fuck, they shouldn't
dare to get drunk at all.

instead of that bullshit, how about:

if a woman is drunk, don't rape her.
if a woman is walking alone at night, don't rape her.
if a women is drugged and unconscious, don't rape her.
if a woman is wearing a short skirt, don't rape her.
if a woman is jogging in a park at 5 am, don't rape her.
if a woman looks like your ex-girlfriend you're still hung up on, don't rape
her.
if a woman is asleep in her bed, don't rape her.
if a woman is asleep in your bed, don't rape her.
if a woman is doing her laundry, don't rape her.
if a woman is in a coma, don't rape her.
if a woman changes her mind in the middle of or about a particular activity,
don't rape her.
if a woman has repeatedly refused a certain activity, don't rape her.

if a woman is not yet a woman, but a child, don't rape her.
if your girlfriend or wife is not in the mood, don't rape her.
if your step-daughter is watching tv, don't rape her.
if you break into a house and find a woman there, don't rape her.
if your friend thinks it's okay to rape someone, tell him it's not, and that
he's not your friend.

if your "friend" tells you he raped someone, report him to the police.
if your frat-brother or another guy at the party tells you there's an
unconscious woman upstairs and it's your turn, don't rape her, call the
police and tell the guy he's a rapist.

tell your sons, god-sons, nephews, grandsons, sons of friends it's not okay
to rape someone.

don't tell your women friends how to be safe and avoid rape.
don't imply that she could have avoided it if she'd only done/not done x.
don't imply that it's in any way her fault.
don't let silence imply agreement when someone tells you he "got some" with
the drunk girl.
don't perpetuate a culture that tells you that you have no control over or
responsibility for your actions. You can, too, help yourself.

If you agree, repost it. It's that important.

2:28 PM  

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