Sunday, 19 December 2010

Rape and responsibility

Erik on his blog Aktivarum asks some useful questions.

I had said there:
The whole point of rape is that the person raped is controlled.”

Erik asked:
How do you know this?

Erik I’m a woman coming to the end of a long life. Like most women I have coped with attempted rape in my time. The aim of rape activity was to control my choice, to block off my ability to say No.

I do not say that someone being rough is a rapist. As long as there is enough restraint on the force used for the other partner to say No/ or move away and be left alone, it’s not rape.

If you take the component of force or control out of a rape situation it is no longer rape. Control defines rape as rape.

Erik said:
For instance when a guy with bad hangover wakes up in the same bed as a really ugly woman whose name he doesn't know…. Society doesn't call it rape.”

That’s true and it’s a good example. I could use an easy feminist dismissal and say why is the woman judged on her appearance?
This is valid, but it has two answers.
One is that with someone we barely know it has to be a case of judgement on appearances. Maybe if this man spent a few hours more with her he might discover her briliance, her wit, her kindness - or her good cooking! Though giving that time would make it harder to get away if he didn't discover something to compensate.

Yes compensate. For although I agree with feminism I don't want women or anyone else to be judged wholly on appearances, the reality is that that is what we do. As animals, and as civilised complex humans.
I judge men by appearances too of course. Over my life I chose my lovers in a sort of sex market where I made bids on lovers I wanted. As on Ebay I have to match what I want with my own resources - and in the sex market my resources include my appearance.
This is another whole topic so for now enough to say that I have no objection to being a body and judged as one. I do think that women are far too heavily seen as bodies and little more than that.

To return to Erik's question then -
For instance when a guy with bad hangover wakes up in the same bed as a really ugly woman whose name he doesn't know…. Society doesn't call it rape.”

I would answer the same way that I look at the case of a drunken woman, out of control, who gets raped.
Society has generally said that this is her fault and she cannot claim rape. Very recently there is debate about this, where some assert that a man must not take advantage of a very drunk women, so it is rape.
I say that it is a situation created jointly. Both are at fault.
A woman is stupid to an extreme if she gets very drunk so that she erases her ability to stay in control EXCEPT when among a safe group of friends, or a trusted lover.
But a man is a rapist if he takes advantage of her.

Perhaps we need a new crime of “failure to exercise due caution.” This would apply not only to rape but also bag snatching, car theft, burglary, personal assault. We would have certain clear conditions where we understand that the victim is cooperating and even provoking potential crime.

In fact we do have this concept in insurance claims. If I leave my car unlocked, even more in certain ‘rough’ locations, I am partly responsible for a theft. If the car is found with no sign of forced entry I’m going to have difficulty making an insurance claim.

I would like a strong message to go out to young women that being alone with any man at all you do not know well, is unsafe. A legal offence would help.

You need to know where the door is, check regularly your access to your exit is not blocked, and check who is nearby if you need to yell for help. This is not silly or neurotic and it need not be dramatic any more than looking both ways before crossing the road is silly, neurotic or dramatic. It’s just routine common sense.
Unfortunately any suggestion that men should be regarded as anything except shining princes, causes hysteria.

Men are even more unsafe if you are intoxicated, or wearing clothes that expose your cleavage, central body or upper thighs. These are more conditions that a woman can use to protect herself. Neglecting them causes risk.

This analysis is the basis of the frequently misunderstood Radical Feminist cry “All men are rapists.” In reality they are not, but from a woman’s point of view we cannot know for sure about any individual man. Until it is too late.

If we are to take responsibility for our own safety and not be silly girls who expect men to be always nice and sweet, we must protect ourselves by being careful – of all men you don’t know very well indeed. He could be your rapist if you yourself don’t take reasonable precautions.
Girls should be taught by family, school and by legal code to use the protections available to them, because we cannot know if a man can be trusted until we know him very well indeed.

But reasonable precautions – covering the central body, keeping a clear head, being within shouting distance of others, avoiding unsafe areas, even being elderly or ugly, or a child, or heavily pregnant, are not enough to protect us. Being uncovered, or drunk, drugged, alone and in certain risky places, all make it easier for a man to rape.
None of these things makes a man rape.
What makes him rape is his own defects. For that he is criminally responsible.

But it is still not quite that simple. If we made a victim crime of “failure to exercise due caution” we would need to make allowance for very young women because it takes time to learn the skill of drinking safely, retaining self control. Until 21 I do not think she can be held to be fully skilled about alcohol and if she can prove she only started drinking a short time ago, even older.
It also takes time to learn about unsafe places, and to become calmly aware of being alone with a man in a cautious way. It’s not easy to recognise that the perfectly nice person chatting with you is quite possibly listening for when the last person has left the office and you should now leave too, or else invite him to a public place where you are not alone and at risk. It’s even harder to do this analysis and not act stressed about it so you spoil a possibly very nice friendly situation.But that is what a sensible woman has to do. All part of adult social skills.

Comparing this analysis of double responsibility to the situation of drunken sex with an ugly woman is instructive.
There is a close similarity of the young man being too drunk to retain control and stay in command of his choices. Under my analysis he has not exercised due control and caution. So he carries his side of the responsibility.
Like the drunken girl, unable to deny or consent, who is raped, the drunk man with a lover he would not normally choose, is at risk of STD or AIDs if he was too drunk to use a condom.
He may feel a strong regret that this sex event happened. Interestingly, because he is used to the idea that he is responsible for what he does, he will most likely feel he has been a fool.

But does he feel profoundly shamed?
Does he remember this event for the rest of his life and suffer years of personal struggling to overcome its destructive effects on his overall self confidence? Some rape victims never do recover.
Will it make him afraid to go near another woman sexually for months? perhaps year? perhaps for life?
Will he need copious amounts of support from friends, family and ideally a good counsellor in order to recover from the experience?
Will he get pregnant? If he does might he have to bear the child because he cannot morally abort it?

I might be look at this partially blinded by a female perspective. Perhaps men DO suffer from extreme reactions that last for years or lifelong and devastate their lives if they drunkenly sleep with an ugly woman. I doubt it.
Why do I doubt it?
Well because I once long ago did just that. Afterwards what upset me was how to reject further advances without being nasty about it. But I never once felt raped, or dominated, or exploited. I felt totally responsible for what I did.

I felt ashamed yes but only of being stupid, and thoughtless so I caused hurt to another person. I didn’t feel shamed and sickened by being invaded in my most personal inner self. It didn’t weaken me and disrupt my ability in other areas of my life.
That’s the difference.


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