Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Rape and unreason

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  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    women view you as a danger

    I'm 1.88 m tall and 95 kg. My CAT views me as a danger, I may not like it but it is realistic from her perspective. It's my job to make her feel comfortable not her job.

    Same applies to women, whether I like it or not there are occassions where I make a woman uncomfortable and at that moment I have a responsibility to a) be aware of that and b) try and minimise that.

    I may not like it but that is the cost of living in a society where enough men think violence towards women is OK to make many women risk averse.

    As far as I can tell the ONLY viable solution is to change society. For me anyway, that is what ending rape culture is about. Oh and stopping women (and men) being raped.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4427 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    The message that sexual assault isn’t ok needs to be sent to women too. Because while men are overwhelmingly committing these crimes, some women do too. Probably more than we realise.

    And probably more to the point -- as Dylan illustrated in that jury story on page one -- some women are enabling crimes on women. That's much more common than women committing these crimes, I suspect.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    Because while men are overwhelmingly committing these crimes, some women do too.

    That’s true. I have been expressing things that way as a useful shorthand but it’s a bit eraser-ish. Sorry.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Yep. More than one woman to me. “Well, you shouldn’t have slept with him in the first place.”

    Which, yes. Is awful.

    But let’s not forget that it was a man who assaulted me, and men who taught him that it was ok to do that. (Eta: in his specific case, I mean.)

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • Nat D,

    The most ridiculous thing about most of the argument in this thread is that BOTH the 'all men being held in suspicion' thing, AND the 'women being told they are responsible for their own safety and being told they can prevent rape by wearing the right clothes, or walking home the right way, or taking whatever other inane precaution someone comes up with' thing are RESULTS of rape culture. Now, one of them quite obviously has a greater impact (If you're arguing that being told you should entirely change how you live your life, and if you don't, it's your fault if something happens is not a greater impact, you're an idiot). However, both are outcomes of the SAME DAMN THING.

    Rape culture hurts both WOMEN and MEN.

    Also, let's go a bit easy on the gendered terms, because there are certainly female rapists, and trans* communities are often heavily impacted also.

    The point still stands that we need to teach not to rape, but I think misconceptions arise, because that's shorthand amongst people who talk about this regularly for a bunch of related concepts.

    I think we forget that many people don't regularly have those conversations. This means they don't have the benefit of our immediate understanding of the implications of that statement.

    By saying 'we need to teach not to rape' (and I mean both men AND women), we mean, as has been alluded to earlier, that we need to teach our children better concepts about sex and consent. We need to teach them to be comfortable having the discussions and the check-ins that many people feel squicky about. We need to make sure that they are crystal clear that being drunk or asleep is not consent. Being indifferent is not consent. And we need to make damn sure they know that consent is not a forever-pass to someone's body. We need to make sure that the ridiculous concept that rape is something that a stranger does to you is eradicated.

    This shit should be drummed into children by parents, in the media, and in schools.

    This isn't about making men out to be the bogeyman, because hell, rape culture has already done that, while it was making us be scared, and be blamed for something we couldn't stop.

    This is about making it better and safer for everyone.

    Auckland • Since Oct 2013 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    I read something in a different context yesterday (cancer prevention) which reminded me of this discussion - the just world fallacy. Good things don't happen to good people, therefore if something bad happens to you, whether that's cancer or assault, perhaps you did something wrong. Otherwise known as kicking someone when they're down to preserve the fantasy that if you do all the right things, bad things won't happen to you. See also: karma, and the argument from evil. It was interesting to see it lifted out of a gendered context and not look that different, although here, gender plays a role in defining what the right things are.

    It can be hard, if you're really committed to the just world fallacy, to justify charity on the ground that the worst off must have done something to deserve it. Sort of a dark side of morality.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 974 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    I've been thinking about those ads (can't find the reference, alas) that addressed campus binge-drinking culture by publicising the actual average number of drinks students were having in any given session. Changing the assumed notion of "normal" changed people's own behaviour as well as their expectations about other people's behaviour.

    And I've been thinking about those breast cancer ads that show partners and children and friends, to make it clear that breast cancer doesn't just affect women (and yup men can get it too even though they're way less likely to, so it's a useful analogy in that sense as well - the odds are against it but it's extra lonely when it happens, for that very reason).

    If Dylan's point about not willy-nilly seeming to tar all blokes with the rapist brush stands, then it's all the more important to have, among other things, some blokes *speaking to blokes* and saying "don't rape/don't make rape jokes/ don't catcall/ whatever"... precisely because that one really busy rapey guy (TM John Russell) is giving all the good guys who are kind to cats (I love you Bart) a Bad Name. Men expressing their own stake in helping fix a fucked-up situation.

    The equivalent of making it normal to be that bloody legend who takes the car keys off the drunk friend. To be a passenger who speaks up when the driver's being weird and it's not funny. To normalise the right to say no to more beersies. To externalise that complicated situation in your head and see what everyone else is thinking, instead of assuming you're the only one with doubts and confusion.

    If solidarity and shifting the conversation is what we're after, those would be great places to start.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Morgan Nichol, in reply to Jolisa,

    If solidarity and shifting the conversation is what we’re after, those would be great places to start.

    Done.

    and yup men can get it too even though they’re way less likely to

    So I have a lump in one of my mighty man breasts. Went to the doctor immediately when I discovered it (breaking one stereotype of men & healthcare) and he went *fumble fiddle prod* "yo that ain't shit" and I went "oh ok fine thanks". And then a year later, with it constantly vexing me, I went back to the doctor and he fumbled fiddled and prodded again and said "nah look it really ain't shit" and I said "ok but I'm vexed doc" and he said "well you could go and get imaging done but it ain't shit" and I said "imaging it is then" and then the radiographer or ultrasoundologist of whatever her job title was lubed me up with jelly and rubbed her magic wand all over my (still very manly even after all these words) chest and said "yo I see what you're talking about and it looks to me like it ain't shit but the radiologist will look and she'll tell you the definitive truth" so I wiped myself off and went away and a week later no one had called so I phoned my doc who said "listen. if anything was going on we'd have called you. you ain't got nothing happening. that's why we didn't call" and even after all that I still worry about my manly little lump.

    Auckland CBD • Since Nov 2006 • 313 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to Nat D,

    both are outcomes of the SAME DAMN THING.

    Thank you for this, and all of what you wrote. Thank you!

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Nat D,

    many people don’t regularly have those conversations

    Ya think? They aren't easy conversations to have. And you will make mistakes while having them the first time (or even the 20th).

    It's why I'm not a fan of the jargon around the issue. You spend so much time 'splaining the jargon that the point is missed. I do get why the jargon exists, just that it sometimes slows the discussion.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4427 posts Report Reply

  • Nat D, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    That's a cop-out. The conversations are a lot easier to have than you think and that's coming from someone who has PTSD. And, guess what, I have them all the time, because this is important.

    Aside from the obvious problems with expecting us to teach others, rather than on them to educate themselves using the myriad 101s, I don't really think 'teach people not to rape' can be considered 'jargon', unless you're saying that the term 'rape' is jargon. The missing part was the fundamental understanding of what 'rape' is, and therefore what teaching people not to do it means.

    If rape is jargon now, I'm fucking terrified.

    Auckland • Since Oct 2013 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Nat D, in reply to Jolisa,

    You're welcome! I'm totally thankful that Megan and Danielle and heaps of others posted such eloquent replies earlier.

    Auckland • Since Oct 2013 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    It’s why I’m not a fan of the jargon around the issue. You spend so much time ’splaining the jargon that the point is missed. I do get why the jargon exists, just that it sometimes slows the discussion.

    I’ve just been thinking about that, on re-sighting a comment of mine upthread about “trigger warning”. Not everyone has to use the same words for everything, but the way I phrased it (“not a fan of”) was, well, pretty wanky. Sorry about that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Nat D,

    That’s a cop-out. The conversations are a lot easier to have than you think

    But, as Bart says, it’s easy to get it wrong in them. I think it’s a freakin’ modern marvel that this particular, very, very frank conversation hasn’t blown to smithereens like it might have in many other places on the internet.

    As the extremely wise Emma Hart has been known to say, read kindly. Assume good faith. And carry on.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to B Jones,

    I read something in a different context yesterday (cancer prevention) which reminded me of this discussion – the just world fallacy. Good things don’t happen to good people, therefore if something bad happens to you, whether that’s cancer or assault, perhaps you did something wrong.

    Oh, yes. The cancer one. A dear friend of mine got very, very tired of well-meaning people offering her advice on the apparent assumption that she got cancer because she wasn't thinking right or some fucking thing. Grrr.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Nat D,

    That’s a cop-out.

    You misunderstand. I can and will have these conversations. Willingly.

    But the general public really doesn't want to have hard conversations very often at all. Even ones that don't have the emotional charge that this conversation has. I love to talk about my science, really really really love it, but much to my sadness most folks just can't be bothered having a conversation about something they have to think quite hard about. Stepping that up to a conversation that is both complex and an emotional minefield ... nobody should be surprised that the jargon and language around this subject is simply unknown.

    And as for "rape" being jargon, well, I think it is. Look back through the many threads we have here on the subject and it becomes clear that what most folks think of when you say rape is really not the most common form of sexual violence towards women (or men). When the folks who know best talk about rape here they inevitably have to remind someone that rape is about what happens in the home, it about clear unequivical consent each and every time and that simply is not what most folks think of when you say rape.

    And I really don't want to get into a semantic argument. But I do think that, from my experience, most people do not have the nuanced complete understanding of the "simple" word rape. Let alone an understanding of "rape culture".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4427 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Russell Brown,

    it’s easy to get it wrong in them

    I speak from experience. I'm often wrong, I just never admit it ... oh wait.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4427 posts Report Reply

  • kmont, in reply to Nat D,

    I firmly agree with all of this.

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 485 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh,

    Sigh. There's clearly still plenty of work to be done.

    And thanks, everybody, for the fascinating, intelligent, informative discussion.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    As Danielle mentioned above, I have sons, the oldest of which is rapidly hurtling towards adolescence. I’ve been thinking about the messages I need to impart to them as they venture out into the world. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far (for the record I don’t believe I’d be giving any daughters a different message).

    No one’s worth is determined by their gender, sexual orientation, dress or number of sexual partners (or a bunch of other things).

    People are not prizes to be won.

    Sex is something people do with, not to, each other.

    No one owes anyone sex, ever.

    Other people’s needs and desires may not be the same as yours.

    Many situations are easy to misread – communicate before you act.

    Talking about it can be hot as hell.

    Everyone has the right to determine what happens to their own body.

    Good people, with good intentions, can still do awful things if they don’t stop to check their perceptions and assumptions are correct.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 719 posts Report Reply

  • Helen Marie, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I’ve just been thinking about that, on re-sighting a comment of mine upthread about “trigger warning”. Not everyone has to use the same words for everything, but the way I phrased it (“not a fan of”) was, well, pretty wanky. Sorry about that.

    I get (probably unreasonably) annoyed by the phrase "trigger warning" myself so saw nothing wanky about you not being a fan. I know people are just being considerate and careful when they use it, but the real triggers (for me, anyway) are in the world, not in words in a book or on a screen. By far the worst offenders are smells… Vaseline, pinetarsol, soap, Old Spice, ointments, chemist shops and medicine cabinets. The musty smell of old carpet, old books, old men's clothing. Also sounds… pretty much all 70's music; any of Beethoven's sonatas; Bach's preludes and fugues; all hymns, kids practising scales. Men without their teeth in. 70's tv shows. I have a love/hate thing going on with stationery. Love all the dinky things, but pens were among the things Dad used to "check things". Ditto candles and the handle of the wooden spoon. You get the idea. I hate carnations because he loved them. The world is awash in "triggers". I can't avoid them. I don't need warning.

    Auckland • Since Oct 2013 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Helen Marie, all my love to you. Aroha mai atu, wahine toa. Your survival and testimony is beautiful, in my eyes.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings, in reply to Helen Marie,

    I'm so sorry this happened to you, Helen. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 719 posts Report Reply

  • Helen Marie,

    Thank you Isabel and Jackie for your kind words and love.

    Auckland • Since Oct 2013 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Helen Marie,

    Helen, I want to say something meaningful but I'm so horrified by what you've been through that words fail. You are a very brave lady and thank you for telling your story. xx

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3886 posts Report Reply

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