So let’s just say we follow all that rape prevention advice …

We’ve all been there: you’ve just had a long, hard day at work, during which it’s become evident that the project which is three months’ behind schedule (and which you assumed everyone had forgotten about) is still expected to reach completion next Monday. You’ve picked up your kids only to find that they are far more whiny and annoying than you remember them being (especially the one who keeps brushing past the other simply in order to get another opportunity to say “Muu-uuuu-uum! He pushed me!”, again and again). You’ve got the buggers to bed, settled down with a glass of wine and finally you’re all set to relax. Only you can’t sodding well relax. Relaxing doesn’t feel normal. In fact, it feels positively unsettling. You desperately need something to irritate you again. Well, here’s a suggestion: pick any Guardian Comment Is Free piece on the subject of rape and scroll down to the comments. It works every time.

This evening I found myself reading Zoe Williams’ piece in response to the latest Met “rape prevention” campaign. Then I carried on reading through the mindless, repetitive feedback that followed, pretty much all of which can be summarised as follows:

  • advising potential rape victims* to behave differently in public isn’t victim blaming, it’s just common sense (*by “potential rape victims” we mean “all women” – but no one actually states this for fear of admitting that radical feminists were right all along)
  • telling rapists not to rape is pointless because they’re going to rape anyhow, so you might as well focus on the potential victims (who can be scared witless into changing their ways – phew!)
  • one doesn’t wander round Moss Side/Brixton/the seventh circle of Hell waving around one’s mobile phone/iPad/massive wad of imaginary cash, therefore potential rape victims should always leave their bodies behind – preferably in a safe – before leaving the house
  • potential rape victims should bear in mind that “removing all clothing and starting foreplay” could be seen as “contributory negligence” when it comes to rape

Actually, I made that last one up. No, hang on, I didn’t (as in, it’s not a legal thing, but it is nevertheless what some real, live person thinks. So yeah, muse on that, fellow victims [current, former and/or potential]).

One of the questions Williams asks is why campaigns that are supposedly aimed at minimising the incidence of rape don’t focus on those who have most control over this, i.e. those who rape. This is considered by many commenters to be plainly ridiculous:

You wouldnt get a slogan against burglary saying:  “Come on now, that stuff doesnt belong to you” and expect it to deter burgulars.

If potential rapists are not deterred by the criminal law and the prospect of a prison sentence then they will not be deterred by an advert.

How about an ad campaign aimed at murderers pointing out to them that they shouldn’t be murdering people?

Interestingly, these same commenters do not appear to be similarly provoked by the suggestion that some rapes occur due to a lack of awareness of what constitutes consent. While there clearly isn’t a need to make murderers or burglars aware of what they are doing, there is still evidence of widespread ignorance of what rape even is and of the harm it causes. Some police forces have noticed this and based campaigns around it.  But then again, what if they’re wrong? What if rapists aren’t shaped by the rape-apologist culture that surrounds them? What if they’re just born that way and destined to rape? What then, fellow victims, what then?

It seems we women/victims need to be constantly reminded that there are Permanently Bad People out there (Permanently Bad People who often happen to be our partners, neighbours, friends and relatives – but who are nevertheless total aberrations and NOTHING like the people who rush eagerly to every internet piece on rape in order to warn those who carelessly place their orifices in the way of such monsters). But if these people are just rapists through and through, what’s the point of us modifying our behaviour? Won’t they just rape someone else – someone less “deserving” of rape, since if none of us are getting off our faces any more, surely that urge to fuck someone who isn’t even conscious still has to go somewhere?

I am wondering – in cultures where women cover themselves from head to toe and never, ever drink, do we seriously believe that the incidence of rape is lower? Because then, what happens to all the latent urges? Surely people who don’t give a shit about women won’t give a shit about them in any context. If we all stopped doing the things which made us apparently rape-worthy, would that really mean we wouldn’t get raped? Wouldn’t the measure for what’s considered rape-worthy just get revised? Because if rape-ability is still considered a quality pertaining to certain women – regardless of whether we repackage it as “vulnerability” or “recklessness” – rapists will never be forced to hold themselves to account. What’s more, we won’t be holding them to account, either.


14 thoughts on “So let’s just say we follow all that rape prevention advice …

  1. That was a particularly victim blaming, poor ickle wapists having their fun spoiled by the nasty ladies thread tonight. I couldn’t hack it for once and left after dealing with a particularly persistent offender who only ever comments on those threads defending the police and showing a total lack of knowledge of the subject except ‘bitches be asking for it’.

    What they all fail to grasp is that rapists aren’t deterred by the current legal situation around rape which basically boils down to a 94% chance of getting away with it. Funny that. I’ve probably got a 6% chance of being killed by a bus, but it has fuck all impact on my life because it’s such a remote risk. Swap the figures round and tell them they have a 94% chance of standing in court with a 50+% chance of conviction and I sense you might find a bit of a sea change.

    But that’s never going to happen if you spend all your energies on trying to control 51% of the population’s behaviour instead of targetting the small percentage of men who rape. Stop blaming women for doing totally irrelevant things, start educating everyone and begin punishing those who offend. It would make such a difference (sighs wistfully) except that a lot of people would have to face up to being shitty judgemental cockweasels, misogynists and criminals and they won’t like that.

  2. So, let me know if I got this right?… You say that: “Men rape women, because they aren’t aware of what consent is. Also men rape women because patriarchy says it is ok to rape women and they can get away with it, because… of reasons. And murderers and burglars and all other criminals know exactly what they are doing, but rapers don’t, they suddunly becoming retards that see a woman’s cry and screams as sex invitation… yeah right!”

    Victim blaming is ok to me, because, YES, women should be afraid to walk alone in miniskirts at 2 a.m. in the dark alleys, YES, getting drunk and loosing conscious can be dangourous and rape is the least you can get (I know a person, a male, that woke up without a kidney after a party) It is shitty world out there and you can’t change it, just accept it! And YES, expecting rapers not to rape you, becase you are a feminist is like expecting a wild lion not to eat you because you are a vegeterian!

    1. Yeah the problem with that Elder Brother, is that over 90% of rapes don’t happen in dark alleys, they happen in what women had thought of as safe spaces. Most victims know their rapists – they are their husbands, boyfriends, exes, colleagues, friends and male relatives.

      If you see a woman in a dark alley or wearing a mini-skirt, will you go and rape her? If not, why not? After all, the argument seems to run, if women go in dark alleys or wear mini-skirts, they are at higher risk of being raped because dark alleys and mini-skirts turn otherwise reasonable, non-rapey men into rapists. I’ve always been fairly doubtful about this, I kind of think that if a man isn’t a rapist in the first place, the sight of a drunk woman, a woman in a mini-skirt, or her presence in a dark alley, won’t turn him into one, but I’m not a man so can’t claim to be an expert. You are a man so tell me: do you turn into a rapist when you see women in the circumstances in which you describe? If you don’t, why do you assume that other men do? There’s only one thing required to turn a woman into a rape victim: a rapist.

      And it’s right that public information campaigns should focus on that. It’s right that men should be made aware of exactly what rape is, because many of them are deeply confused about it, like you they think it happens in dark alleys when mostly it doesn’t; even some of our MP’s, who you would have thought as elected representatives and law-makers, would have a better grasp of the law than the average man, have a very poor grasp of what rape actually is – see George Galloway – so in this culture where men can safely blame nameless monsters in dark alleys for rape, when actually it’s usually committed by regular guys who look exactly the same as every other man (that’s why women are in their company in the first place) there is an absolute necessity to educate men that rapists aren’t these monstrous “others” out there, they are ordinary blokes with a massive sense of entitlement.

      1. Yes, you are right, 95% of rapes are not comitted in public. Yes, rape victims know their rapers in most cases. But you forgot to mention something else, that 70-80% of all abusers (that includes rapers) have experienced some emtional trauma, especially during their childhood. The abusers have mental problems, they are emotionally unstable and irrational people and their only responce in situation when they loose control is to abuse other people. This is how they feel safe, they feel significant, and this is how they feel they can take control. And they do it intentionally and full aware of what they do.

        So this is why not all men (and women, because women rape too, don’t they?) turn into rapers when they see mini-skirt or parts of the boobs. But for rapers mini-skirts and boobs are the trigger. They feel like their control is taken away from “those filthy sluts” and their response is to abuse/rape/humiliate so they can feel they control the situation. And to show to the victim “who runs the show”. Same goes for those who rape unconscious people. Think about it, how mentally unstable you should be to desire a sex with an unresponsive body, it is same like necrophilia, it is just a sickness, an irrational behaviour.

        But there the one common thing with all abusers is they know exactly what they are doing. They even plan it. Rapes doesn’t happen spontaneously. They are planned and in most cases offenders were verbaly threatening the victims before the rape. And no, rapers doesn’t want to satisfy their sexual desire, all they want is control and power.

        And because you asked me: do I trun into rapits… no I don’t, because I don’t percieve sexual violence as a way to control and to satisfy my sexual desires. But let’s say I did something alike. When I was 16 yo I need to babysit my 11 yo nephew. He was a noisy kid and I knew I would have problems with him. And was exactly what happened, he broke a vase and I got mad. Then I did something I’m not proud with… I beated the shit out of him. The more he was crying and screaming, the more harder I was hitting him. And believe me or not I was full aware of what I was doing. I was planning it in some way. And I even warned him I was going to beat him. Later I realised i did it because I was out of control and I was thinking that the spanking will give me the control back. It was my current emotional state that make me do it, but again I was full aware of what I was doing.

        I wrote this wall of text just to show you that rapes aren’t commited by some mindless zombies that have no idea what they are doing. And these campaigns to “make rapers not to rape” is an absurd. Rapers say they didn’t know what they were doing because they want to worn off the guilt. They want to neglect their actions, blame the victim responsible for their actions. And of course they are saying in most cases they were in state of affection liability. And saying rapers didn’t know what they were doing is some kind of exonerating them.

        And again rapers are like wild animals (no, not because they aren’t capable of higher thought), they are just an objective part of the landscape, which we should control somehow, as MarinaS says we have bigger problem, because they are running free among us. The only thing you can do is to take any needed measures by yourslef to prevent it. In some cases it could mean to sacrifice your dignity and freedom, but at least you will know you did everything possible to avoid it. Unless we develope some tehcnollogy similar to those in “Minority report” (the movie with Tom Cruise) to prevent crimes before they happen. And BTW same goes with all other crimes – murders, burglaries, corupted politians, drunk drivers, etc.

        It’s like crossing the streets, you don’t expect drunk drivers overspeeding every time, but you still look at both ways every time you are crossing, don’t you?!

        P.S. English is not my natinve, so sorry if I didn’t expressed the right way.

        1. “70-80% of all abusers (that includes rapers) have experienced some emtional trauma”

          I have never seen any research which shows that 70-80% of rapists have experienced some emotional trauma and I don’t think this is an accurate representation. Rapists are ordinary abusive men, AFAIK no research has led to conclusions that they are more emotionally damaged than any other men. It is not their emotions that decide whether they are rapists, it is their beliefs – their beliefs that they have the right to have sexual access to women’s bodies in certain circumstances, whether the woman wants them to or not.

          Also they do not rape because they are out of control – most rape is pre-planned and the men who do it are perfectly well in control, both of their emotions and their behaviour.

          There is no evidence that mini-skirts and boobs are triggers. I read somewhere that the most common garment a rape victim was wearing, is a pair of jeans but I’m not sure if that’s correct. However, mini-skirts and boobs are not triggers – most rapists know their victims, have known them for days, weeks, months or years and have not been “triggered” by the boobs and mini-skirts at any other time – they rape their victims when they are fairly certain that they will get away with it. So a woman who has been sitting next to a bloke at work for 3 years, will never have been raped by him at her desk because he would not only be arrested, but he would be stopped by their fellow-colleagues before he was able to actually rape his colleague. He’s perfectly well able to resist the trigger of her boobs and mini-skirt. He’ll rape her when he walks her back to her car after a meeting and they’re alone so he can claim it was consensual. By the time he rapes her, he has got used to her boobs and the mini-skirts she might sometimes wear to work. It is not sick, irrational behaviour, it is an exercise of power over someone else, it is perfectly rational if you get a kick out of putting someone else down and exerting power over them.

          Your story about abusing your nephew shows me that you are not willing to take responsibility for your own behaviour, which is why you are arguing for other men who don’t take responsibility for their’s. You were not out of control at the time – you were exercising control. If your nephew’s parents had walked in, or the police or another responsible adult determined to prevent your abuse of the child, you would have stopped beating him – you weren’t out of control, take some responsibility for your behaviour. Or are you saying that you would not have been able to stop hitting him even if the police had walked in at that moment?

          “I wrote this wall of text just to show you that rapes aren’t commited by some mindless zombies that have no idea what they are doing.” No need. I already know that. It seems to me you’re contradicting yourself. A mindless zombie doesn’t have control over his behaviour, an adult compos-mentis man does – he just chooses to pretend he doesn’t.

          If you really believe that some men are like wild animals who we have to control, then what it seems to me that you are arguing for, is for all men to be tested for how dangerous they are to the rest of the population so that we could impose controls on their behaviour, or brand them in some way to ensure that the rest of us recognised that they were the dangerous type. If I were a man, I’d feel incredbily insulted by that suggestion; the reason some men are so dangerous to women, is because they refuse to take responsibility for their own behaviour, not because they can’t. If a large percentage of men are really so dangerous to women, then we’d have to look at special measures to impose curfews on men, or to issue all women with stun guns at birth in order to protect them from the large percentage of dangerous “wild-animal” type men. That is clearly ridiculous and if a feminist said that, she’d be accused of being a man-hater, you sound as if you really think some men are almost sub-human – that’s an astonishing amount of man-hatred coming from you!

      2. Here you go:

        There are much more researches showing that most of abusers have been abused in some stage of their lifes. Yes, they are emotionally damaged people. Yes, they are able to take responsibility for their action, because they do it on purpose, fully aware of their actions. No, there isn’t conspiracy movement led by men to control women by raping them. These are the facts, no matter what you think is accurate or isn’t.

        Yes mini-skirts and boobs (don’t take it literaly, it is just an example, I know men who beated other people, just because they were looking at them) aren’t the reason, for abusers to abuse, but they are the occasion… the thing that make abuser to feel he/she doesn’t control the situation. The only reason that makes abusers to abuse (any kind of abuse not just rape), is they want to have control over the victim and/or situation.

      3. As a feminist with brothers, I find what EBGTSA says to be deeply insulting on many fronts. I think he has also shown why he doesn’t like ads that target rapists — because he is an abuser.

  3. George, I think you’ve unintentionally nailed it. Lots of people rape because they don’t realise it’s rape, because they don’t realise that consent can’t be given by someone unconscious, etc. They think this way about consent because patriarchy/kyriarchy teaches men (in particular, but not exclusively) that they are entitled to sex and to women’s bodies. Some of them, I’m sure, know exactly what they’re doing and don’t give a rat’s ass, but given how much sexual violence is perpetrated by intimate partners/friends/relatives, people who supposedly care about the victim, doesn’t it make a bit of sense?

    Not every person screams and cries while they’re raped. I cried for 1/3.

    I bet nobody told mono-kidneyed person that everything that happened was his own fault.

    The difference between wild lions and rapists is that rapists are capable of higher thought. They are capable of self-control. The ‘men are wild animals’ analogy does everyone a disservice, especially men who don’t rape.

    1. Actually isn’t the real difference between wild lions and rapists is that a lion won’t eat you if it’s not hungry, but a rapist is satisfying a desire, not a need? Unless George wants to claim that rapists need to rape in order to survive, and you can’t reasonably expect them to forgo their own appetites in favour of other people’s well-being, because they are wild animals.

      In which case, why bother warning women in the first place? If we’re letting wild animals run around loose in public eating people, we’ve got bigger problems!

      1. I am guessing they rape in order to satisfy a power thing? Does that count as desire? I guess maybe….

  4. I shouldn’t have read the article, I knew it would make me angry, but I did and I am and this is why. All the people that go “ooh but you wouldn’t have signs telling burglars not to burgle! No one tells people to leave their windows unlocked and sends campaigns at burglars instead, it won’t work!” and I hate this analogy because there is one HUGE difference. If you are burgled because you leave your window open, or the keys in the engine whilst you pop into a shop, you’re “asking for it”, these people imply. But if the police catch the person that did it, that person will go to prison. You might not get your insurance payment, but they will be punished. If a woman who is raped is found to be “asking for it” the person is let off. Because a short skirt is seen as consent in a way that an unlocked window never will be. *cross now* 😦

  5. For some reason this topic has been going the rounds on Facebook as well, and I have been involved in some fairly heated discussions about ads targeting *rapists* rather than, say, what you have brilliantly called women/victims.

    I’m a twentysomething woman, and I am heartily sick of being told by society how I should dress, how I should look at people (not too friendly, whatever that means, or else I’m inviting trouble), how I should talk to people (read: men), how I should respond, where (or if!) I should work, how I should get there. I am tired of being told that my body is somehow comparable to my laptop or my jewelry box, because it isn’t — those are inanimate objects, and *I am a woman,* every bit as human as any man. (Such radicals, we feminists, to believe such a thing.) I have never once heard a man compared to a laptop. I know very few men who have internalized, quite so fully as most of us, the TERROR that comes with knowing that a potential rapist is probably lurking outside every window, and inside every house as well.

    We are told that if we do everything as directed by the patriarchy, we’ll never get raped and everything will be hunky-dory. But those of us who have been victims of sexual assault in any form — those of us who *know* rape survivors — know this to be false. A woman can follow all the “rules” and still get raped. She is usually blamed for it too, because even if she follows every patriarchal rule for the “safety of women” ever devised to hold us down, she is immediately assumed to have done it “wrong.” The man is apparently a beast, unable to control himself because he has seen something that might be female. Now, as an older sister, I find this deeply offensive. Men are *not* beasts. They are *human.* As such, the vast majority of them are damn well able to control themselves. Which brings me to a thank-you, for writing this, for dealing with the bs comments. It is always so nice to find, out there in the oasis, a voice of reason.

    1. It won’t let me respond directly to you Elder Brother George, so I’ll respond here: That research you linked to has 2 problems: 1. It only surveys convicted sex offenders – about 90% of rapists are never convicted, so they are never surveyed. They are normal, ordinary men with an out-of-the-ordinary sense of entitlement, who never show up on the graphs. 2. It doesn’t come to the conclusion you say it does: it’s quite clear that they are saying that sex offenders who abuse children are more likely to have been sexually assaulted themselves, but that that is not the case for sex offenders who have offended against adults – I.E. common or garden rapists.

      Men have to stop pretending that rapists are different, out-of-the-ordinary men who are “wild animals”, extra-hurt by their own childhood experiences, different from all other men. They aren’t. They blend into the workplace and society effortlessly because they are drawn from the same cultural soup as men who don’t rape women. The only thing that differentiates them from men who don’t rape women, is that they act on their sense of entitlement and most men don’t. A minority of men don’t even have that sense of entitlement, amazingly.

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