Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Respectably-Dressed Sensible Demure Lady Stroll

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  • Tom Beard, in reply to Emma Hart,

    One thing I've noticed this time is a decided sideways shift from victim-blaming on the basis of clothes to victim-blaming on the basis of having had some drinks. I dunno if you'd call that progress or not.

    Possibly. Victim-blaming is never justified, but there's a difference. Blaming clothes implies that clothes are an invitation or provocation that men's APB's can't resist. Blaming drunkenness sometimes includes accusations of "invitation", but it also be based on the idea that even it doesn't "attract" rapists (and I hate using that word, but it's the best I can come up with right now) it would make it more difficult for someone to fight off or avoid someone who is already intent on assault.

    When someone singles out young women as having "a problem with drunkenness" in this regard, it certainly has implications of provocation/invitation, overlaid with cultural and classist notions of slut-shaming and "unladylike behaviour". But there's some justification in saying that in our culture, both men and women have problems with drinking to the point where they are vulnerable not just to sexual assault, but to other forms of assault, walking in front of a bus or just falling over and breaking your leg (as my brother did once).

    No-one would ever call me an advocate of sobriety, but there are times when I've had to say to friends (both male and female) "Hey, take care". I would have to admit that I'd tend to say that more to female friends, and that may have something to do with residual patronising cultural attitudes that treats women as inherently more vulnerable. But I'd like to think that it's just simple human concern for a friend who may be putting themselves at all sorts of risk, and that it had nothing to do with blaming them for anything that might happen.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1039 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    A counter-point to the APB-meme here:

    some of us manage to get through the day without being outsmarted by our genitals

    Contains a link to this interesting (but somewhat dispiriting) piece on the UK slutwalks.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Emma Hart,

    And it's not like I was being obviously reckless and visiting Kiwiblog or Danyl's site.

    Wise move. Danyl's post and associated comments thread nearly made me lose the will to live. (I only read it yesterday, so the horror is still fresh in my mind.) What with the 'you're not doing that there feminism *properly*, ladies!' post, and the inevitable libertarian derailment in the comments thread which ended up silencing basically anyone who might have some real insight into the matter, it was... something. A predictable sort of something, really.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3661 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Emma Hart,

    One thing I’ve noticed this time is a decided sideways shift from victim-blaming on the basis of clothes to victim-blaming on the basis of having had some drinks. I dunno if you’d call that progress or not.

    I’m wondering if this is a darker side of White-Knighting. Many men will regard themselves as sympathetic protectors, but protection can unconsciously imply having a stake or possession. Women who behave as “sluts” (quotes necessary?) open display independent aggressive sexuality, directly challenging that structure. Men who style themselves as White Knights would not imagine themselves to be in any way to be rapists or to support rape, but will (unconsciously or not) use the ambient threat of rape by other men as a way of controlling women near them and feel very threatened when the structure that supports their position and self-image is challenged.

    That was the impression I got reading Danyl’s blog, with James the Randroid in particular going on about the reality of it being a hard, dangerous world out there and the only sensible thing to do is not stray too far from the community of decent, clear-sighted, objective people who can be relied upon to advise what’s right…

    Like that:

    What with the ‘you’re not doing that there feminism *properly*, ladies!’

    “Rape”, by the way, is derived from a root meaning “to steal (property)”.

    Legends of the sidhe, vampires, the threat of excommunication have all been used to the same end, or vice versa.

    Slutwalk then has a much broader objective than opposing rape itself.

    Sorry if I’ve said what’s bleeding obvious to everyone (I have, haven't I?).

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 980 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Kracklite,

    Somewhere (I've read a lot of stuff in the last couple of weeks, and I can't now remember where I saw it) there was a bunch of data on reported rapes in the US. in 7% of cases, the victim had been drinking and the attacker had not. But in about half, the attacker had been drinking. Which might suggest that the "problematic drinking" is not women's. The biggest problem with being sexually assaulted when you're drunk is that you're less likely to be believed when you report it. Or some nice policemen might make sure you get home safely.

    That was the impression I got reading Danyl’s blog, with James the Randroid in particular going on about the reality of it being a hard, dangerous world out there and the only sensible thing to do is not stray too far from the community of decent, clear-sighted, objective people who can be relied upon to advise what’s right…

    And while I take Tom's point about everybody being able to take care of themselves, this is how the drinking concern-trolling is always presented. Women shouldn't get drunk, that's just a "reasonable precaution", and if you can't be bothered taking reasonable precautions... then something.

    (the last time I was completely wasted in a bar, a guy hit on me, persistently. He put his hand on my breast, I pushed him away and said "No." He stopped, and went away.)

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4369 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Which might suggest that the “problematic drinking” is not women’s.

    Admittedly I'm replying far too quickly to have searched for the stats myself, but the vast majority of rapes are committed by persons known to the victim and predatory rapists target women who seem vulnerable and "demure" over the sort who seem likely to fight back. This was pointed out in Danyl's blog, but completely ignored, which, I thought, was very telling (I could go back to check, but I've just had lunch and I want to keep it down).

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 980 posts Report Reply

  • Tamara, in reply to Kracklite,

    Actually, I found the White-Knighting analysis really interesting, thanks!

    And thanks Emma, for all your tireless work on this.

    New Zealand • Since Oct 2010 • 100 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to Kracklite,

    It bears repeating.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1273 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Julie Fairey,

    Seeing Shane Jones there was... dispiriting in the extreme.

    And Tau Henare. *sigh* Gave him a wee serve on Twitter starting with "Sweetie, I was a Tory when you were still Winnie's tame bitch..." Really must stay off-line when I've my flu-induced rage on...

    And what it means for me is that no one, ever, asks for or deserves rape.

    Well, quite. You can count the number of times I've worm long trousers on one hand, but what that signifies regarding my sexual availability is precisely nothing. (Nor do I think our host's rather fetching bike shorts are screaming "give it to me animal vagina brains".) Perhaps "slut" can never be reclaimed -- God knows I'm sceptical about similar arguments around terms like "queer" & "nigger", which I'd never ever use as self-definition or put up being labelled with by anyone. But the attitudes behind such words that enable and perpetuate rape culture (and the degradation of people who don't conform to 'appropriate' cis-gendered appearance and behaviour) need to be challenged by all means necessary.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    God knows I'm sceptical about similar arguments around terms like "queer" & "nigger", which I'd never ever use as self-definition or put up being labelled with by anyone.

    I have seen "SlutWalk is problematic, it's not inclusive enough, it's offensive, I won't be going. I'm going to go to Queer The Night, though, because that's inclusive." At which point my brain melted.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4369 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I’d like to see ONE discussion where people talk about what they – and everyone else – can do about rape prevention.

    am late to the party, am very busy doing other stuff - so, possible reiteration of someone else.

    my (most humble) suggestions for rape prevention are twofold, and aimed at the guys:

    - think about whether you’re already guilty of it
    - just don’t do it.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2026 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Emma Hart,

    At which point my brain melted.

    Really? Because I read that and my whole frontal lobe went disco inferno. That wasn't so much missing the point as leaving the country to avoid it.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Che Tibby,

    my (most humble) suggestions for rape prevention are twofold, and aimed at the guys:

    - think about whether you're already guilty of it
    - just don't do it.

    Also "don't allow it". It was how I stopped the system known as "Initiation" when I was a schoolboy sports captain. "No, we don't do initiations. Leave him alone". Saved several 13/14 year olds from a painful humiliating experience. I'm actually amazed, thinking back, that it ever happened. The guys who it happened to were the ones who wanted to do it to others. A really fucked up cycle.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8598 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah, in reply to Che Tibby,

    - think about whether you’re already guilty of it

    That's a very scary thing to do i.e. to interrogate your own past behaviour. It could be crushing. But it's worth doing, in the positive sense as well, working out when you handled a situation right, and what was right about it, and why, and reflecting on how you will handle a similar situation again.

    Getting back to something Emma said in her first comment...

    I'd like to see ONE discussion where people talk about what they - and everyone else - can do about rape prevention.

    ... and thinking about Ben's story above, have any other people got stories about when they did something positive to stop rape or harassment or abuse or violence? There might be some common threads which we could draw out as the beginnings of a primer on positive steps towards preventing rape.

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1323 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Che Tibby,

    There can be a lot more to it than that, I think. The term “rape culture” is one that bears constant repetition. There is a context that makes rape more possible and which can de facto excuse it. Many of the people who have been beating the drum of “individual responsibility” have forgotten that rapists are predators who adapt to and exploit their environment.

    For example, one person, say James the Randroid, would say, “The woman who walked alone in the park at night was raped because she was stupid”. A more intelligent analyst looks at the environment and asks “Why is our park safer for men than women?”. A few years ago, Wellington City Council embarked on an extensive programme of clearing fallen trees and building new paths in Central Park. Rapists who had preyed in that park would chase their victims into pathways that had been blocked by fallen trees.

    In another, very divergent case, the Pro-Vice Chancellor of a certain university college where I once worked congratulated himself on savings on the operation budget that had been achieved by turning off the ‘extravagant’ external lighting in winter. Thick coats, woolly hats and scarves aren’t particularly slutty, but you can imagine where that stroke of genius could have led. Fortunately it was only an ‘almost’ and it was decided afterwards that perhaps the expense of lighting the campus at night could be borne by the university after all.

    It can come down to, even if you are not a person who is ever likely to commit rape, making decisions to allocate budgets to one thing and not another according to the perception of priority. It can depend on design.

    It can depend too on refusing to make excuses for people, no matter what. Over at The Standard, there was a particularly vile torrent of rape apology openly tolerated by Prentice because Julian Assange had been accused of rape, but… well… it was ambiguous… apparently they gave consent at first, so… but he’s on our side and we can’t let these accusations be allowed to undermine his worthy cause and it’s probably a CIA honey trap… and in this case it’s different. Then it got worse. Whether or not Assange is guilty or not, the defence of Assange in particular rapidly became a checklist of rape apologies in general as the participants turned to trying to define rape itself.

    Weird Al Yankovich wrote a song about a national holiday called “Weasel Stomping Day”. I think it’s a good idea; one should stomp on weasels.*

    Then it can come down to not trying to divert the conversation when a woman needs to talk about her experience or concerns because “now isn’t the right time and place”.

    One can choose not to commit rape, but one can also work to deny rapists their physical and cultural niches or lacunae.


    *I'm not so sure about the Viking helmets and spreading mayonnaise on the lawn however.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 980 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby, in reply to Deborah,

    That’s a very scary thing to do i.e. to interrogate your own past behaviour.

    i think too many people only associate rape with violence.

    what recent high-profile cases have taught me is that the definition is far broader. broad enough to make me take a very long look at my own behaviour.

    the main problem i encounter is the concern that while my intention may not have been to hurt people, i could have inadvertently. the question this raises is, WTF to do about it?

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2026 posts Report Reply

  • Deb Mudie, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    It should be noted that the frilly parasol plan is for Auckland. And if it hoses down I shall go with vintage umbrella plan instead...

    Auckland • Since Sep 2010 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • bmk,

    I remember reading a biography of Golda Meir, that their was a spate of sexual assaults on females in Israel and a cabinet member suggested that a curfew be put in place for women. She responded by saying that if anyone should be put under curfew it should be men since they were committing the crimes. Funny though how the first instinct was to prohibit the victim rather than the perpetrator.

    Since Jun 2010 • 323 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to bmk,

    Funny though how the first instinct was to prohibit the victim rather than the perpetrator.

    Last year in Rosarno, a small town in the south of Italy, there were protests by African seasonal workers, the local populace (organised by the mafia) responded with raids and the police rounded up black people for their protection.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7386 posts Report Reply

  • Robert Urquhart, in reply to Che Tibby,

    what recent high-profile cases have taught me is that the definition is far broader. broad enough to make me take a very long look at my own behaviour.

    I wrote a short series of posts a little while ago, triggered by the statistic that "6% of college age men, slightly over 1 in 20, will admit to raping someone in anonymous surveys, as long as the word "rape" isn’t used in the description of the act". I'm just going to link them here rather than retype
    Part 1: Rape links, and the importance of Assent
    Part 2: Personal demons is filtered, because it's quite personal but it's basically where I admitted to mistakes I have made in the past (see Che's other comment above) and my fears about making them again.
    Part 3: changing the social "normal"

    Christchurch • Since Mar 2009 • 142 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Seeing Shane Jones there was… dispiriting in the extreme.

    Not just there, but paying tribute. Ugh. Ugh

    Not that I wish to give the Bish the lickings of a syphilitic dog, but how is it any different from pollies rolling up to Ratana every year, or any other religious excuse?

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2173 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to nzlemming,

    Not that I wish to give the Bish the lickings of a syphilitic dog, but how is it any different from pollies rolling up to Ratana every year, or any other religious excuse?

    "Enough is Enough!"

    You're right though, the difference is one of degree, not nature.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 801 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    It's a pretty big difference - I'm not aware of so much rampant homophobia, mysoginy and penchant for child beating on the part of Ratana. Was I misinformed?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7386 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Tangentially, re clothing. Clare Curran (MP Dunedin South) has been kicked out of the House for wearing a Highlanders' shirt (the old one). Last year Jackie Blue (Nat MP) wore an All Whites' shirt in parliament but only got approving comments because she was wearing pearls with it.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2099 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Their stated reasons for existing are the same. How their followers actually behave is another matter. And I do know of one or two people in Density and more than a few in Ratana who are fine, decent people however misguided I might find their choice in expressing their spirituality. Just as there are Catholics, Muslims, Anglicans and Buddhists, etc. I have met over the years who are fine human beings (yes, and even the odd socialist i would invite for dinner)

    My point is why do representatives of the state acknowledge any of these cults by attending their events?

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2173 posts Report Reply

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