How To Be Part Of The Problem
Here at Yes Means Yes Blog, “no tolerance for rape apologists” isn’t just a rule, it’s a way of life. So the commenter I’m about to quote has already been banned, and in fact I only let the comment through because it was a good example of how people soft-peddle their rape apology. [Trigger Warning, discussion of rape apology]
We will also surely see remarks from people who don’t want to be called rape apologists, and who may even think they are not rape apologists while they gyrate wildly to turn the focus on the victim instead of the rapists and their crowd of aiders and abetters where it belongs. These people will almost always start with some version of “of course I’m not blaming the victim and what the rapists did was wrong and all that …” And then will come the key word, BUT.
Then they will make their real argument. And their real argument is that they are unwilling to actually take rape seriously or do anything to hold rapists accountable. What they believe and argue (but will avoid saying outright) is that the rapist’s behavior is unavoidable, as much a natural disaster as a hurricane or an earthquake, and so the only sensible thing is to plan for its inevitability. The argument will proceed from the dreaded BUT to focus on what SHE did, and how wrong and stupid it was, and ultimately conclude that if women just curtailed their behavior in one or several additional ways, the problem would be solved.
On the Predator Redux thread, someone showed up with an anonymous email, doing just this. Anonymousresearcher said:
My guess is that a non-trivial chunk of rapes are happening in relationships. I get the sense that some women could leave violent relationships, but they don’t want to for various reasons. In fact, I think some women only find themselves attracted to men who have a violent streak.
Proof offered? None. In fact, “[o]n average, battered women, attempt to leave their partner approximately 5-7 times before they are successfully out of the relationship (Ferraro 1998).”See also here. Many delay departure because statistics indicate that most battered women are killed by their assaulter at the time they leave or shortly thereafter. Once they are in an abusive relationship, it’s not so easy for the victims to get out. They are often controlled, constrained and surveilled. Abusers shrink their victims’ social networks and cut off their access to money and other resources, use children or pets as hostages, etc.
But Anonymousresearcher has a different answer. Apparently, they have a kink for domestic violence. (That puts this clown in the camp of Camille Paglia, who said, “many of these working class relationships where women get beat up have hot sex. They ask why won’t she leave him? Maybe she won’t leave him because the sex is very hot…How come we won’t allow that a lot of wives like the kind of sex they are getting in these battered wife relationships?” That is not a compliment.)
Anonymousreaseacher then tells us … that our work is done!
I think the “listen to rape victims” and “challenge unethical behavior, including rape, by friends” is good advice, but I think it may be oversold. Aren’t we doing that already?
Now Anonymousresearcher gets around to the real argument. Despite the two studies showing that a single-digit percentage of two different large samples of men were serial predators, each with roughly six victims in both studies, and despite one study’s finding that the same recidivists were also disproportionally child molesters and partner batterers, Anonymous researcher thinks I’ve got it all wrong:
While I’m sure those characteristics fit some people, I think that many of the rapists discovered in the survey would not be described that way. In particular, a lot of rape is probably not premeditated.
Based on what? Apparently, intuition. Anonymousresearcher offers no data in response, and there’s nothing in Lisak or McWhorter to back that up.
Yet Anonymousresearcher feels compelled to put that idea forward, notwithstanding the complete lack of support, saying that many of the rapes and attempted rapes these men admitted were not premeditated. This person is bending over backwards to make excuses for this population of rapists. To suggest without evidence that it must be a misunderstanding; or a spur-of-the-moment thing. Anything but a careful pattern of predation designed to victimize the easiest available targets, those who will be blamed.
This is how rape culture works. Anonymousresearcher is rape culture at work, making sure to anonymously put forth an excuse for the worst rapists, even when the data says otherwise.
And the “yes but” apologist is never done without attempting to turn attention back to the woman or women and away from the rapist. I had written “…women are already doing everything they know how to keep from getting raped, short of giving up living their lives.” Anonymousresearched insists:
This has got to be false. Lots of people choose to do things that are dangerous and I see no reason to think that some women aren’t taking unnecessary risks… this by no means justifies their rape, which is still a horrible crime.
It never fails. They never fail. Somehow, some way, whether talking about the specific circumstances or in the aggregate, the “yes but” apologist always posits some magical risk-reduction maneuver. If only she had X, they insists, it wouldn’t have happened. Like X is easy. The list gets longer every year. It’s usually geared to stranger rapes which are by far the less common phenomenon. The ones geared to acquaintance rape are often just plain impractical. “Avoid fraternity parties” on a campus that is heavily greek may be close to “avoid parties”, and while I don’t drink at all, it’s just a fact that alcohol is an important part of socialization rituals in our culture.
Advice that counsels women to give up the things the people consider normal, ordinary parts of social life is not really advice, is it? The goal is not to get women to take perfect precautions. In fact, men get very bent out of shape when women do treat them as potential rapists. No, the goal of putting the focus on the woman’s conduct is to make sure that when it happens again, the excuse is in place. “She didn’t X!” they can say. She did it wrong, they can say. And then, they always say, “I’m not saying she deserved to be raped, BUT …” You can ignore the rest. The bolded part is the point of the exercise.
As usual, I have the banhammer ready for rape apologists. I may not be able to make the world a space where rape apologists are always shut down, but I can do that for this blog.