Sunday, July 29, 2012

Responding to Rape

Jim Hines, a great fantasy writer, also blogs about social justice issues. Recently he was scheduled to appear on Reddit, in the fantasy area, to do a Q&A about his upcoming book. He cancelled because Reddit is hosting a rather large and active thread where men who've committed rape are talking about what they did and why and how and how it felt, and apparently they're getting an appalling number of back-pats and attaboys for it, along with praise for how "brave" they are to post anonymously about how awesome it was rape that woman, or reassurances about how they didn't really do anything wrong because after all, from what you said it's not like she screamed and cussed and tried to fight you off, right? Or whatever. :/

Jim posted about the cancellation and his reason for it, and of course a bazillion people from Reddit came over to tell him what a censoring dumbass he is. A few people made calm and reasoned arguments about why they thought he was wrong, which is cool, and there were people supporting his actions as well. One of the latter posted a comment I have to share.

Laura Resnick's comment, trimmed down to emphasize a point:

This all makes me recall my experiences when I took a basic self-defense program designed for women. ...

And what I found interesting, shocking, and really eye-opening was HOW HARD most of the women in the group found it to defend themselves. I don't mean they couldn't learn the skills. I mean that their upbringing ahd socialization had sCOMPLETELY indoctrinated them with the idea, the belief, and the behaviorial pattern that they DIDN'T HAVE A RIGHT to defend themselves. to such an extent that trying to practice self-defense moves against an attacker in a classroom setting was traumatic for them.


This conditioning was so powerful that there were women in the class who stood facing the attacker, weeping helplessly over their own indoctrinated inability to lift a single finger to defend themselves against a physical attacker.

... [I]t really opened my eyes to how many women have been taught their whole lives, by everyone and everything that's ever had influence over them, that if they're assaulted, attacked, raped, then they must lie there, still and weeping, rather than fight back.

And because of that conditioning, rapists like the ones bragging on Reddit can convince themselves they didn't do anything really wrong since, gee, it's not as if the assault victim really FOUGHT, right? She just cried a little and lay there, right? "So that must mean what I did wasn't a violent felony, right?"

This fits perfectly with a post I did a while back about how rape happens, about how women are socialized to go along and get along and keep the peace and make other people happy, about how they're not supposed to fuss or object or disagree and if they do they're being a mean bitch or a stuck up bitch or an angry bitch. So many women don't fuss or object or disagree, until suddenly some guy is pushing their legs open and if they object then, they're a teasing bitch.

So, many women just don't object. Much less, as Laura's experience with the self-defense class for women shows, physically fight back.

Raising women to be ladylike, with a traditional (mild, demure, passive, pleasant, pleasing) definition of ladylike, is a significant chunk of the rape problem in our society. Of course, most of it is egotistical men* who think they're entitled to anything they want, including a particular woman. But if we stopped enculturating women to be passive and started raising them to kick up a screaming, cussing, punching, kicking fuss whenever some entitled dirtbag decided to invade her territory, preferably well before it ever got to a place/situation where rape could happen, that'd take a decent bite out of the problem.


*Note that not all men are like this. I shouldn't have to say it, but I'm saying it anyway. In particular, I can't imagine any of the men who comment here regularly being like this. It only takes a minority, though, to get a whole lot of women worried and wary, especially since the raping minority don't wear T-shirts that say RAPIST. If you're a guy and this bothers you, or if you've ever had a woman give you a look like she was wondering whether she could trust you, that's the rapist minority messing it up for all the nice guys.


Charles Gramlich said...

Because of my hair and beard, and especially back when I used to have my motorcycle, I would get wary looks from women. I knew there was nothing I could say to ease their mind so I always just tried to smile and move away from them as quickly as possible without making anymore eye contact.

Angie said...

Charles -- unfortunately, that's probably the best response. :/

I really wish there were some infallible way of marking the dirtbags, so at least people know whom to be wary of.


Suzan Harden said...

I just threw up in my mouth over the Reddit folks' attitude, much less that people even QUESTION Jim Hines's integrity. I'm going to Jim's site to say thank you.

I totally understand Laura Resnick's befuddlement. I've experienced the socialization problem too many times to count. I've never understood it, even when my mother told me to stop being 'X' because then boys won't like me.

And, yes, I wear my bitch badge proudly!

Angie said...

Suzan -- Jim's closed comments on that post because it was getting flooded, mostly with master-level gluteal haberdashery, and he had to get back to his life. :P

But yeah, you have to wonder about some people. My understanding of Reddit, though, is that absolute freedom of speech trumps absolutely everything, and a louder segment of its members swarm anyone who they think is violating their sacred rule. I mean, seriously, I'm into freedom of speech too, but Jim wasn't threatening anyone's free speech rights, but rather was exercising his own rights to speak, or not, in a certain place, as a method of expressing his opinion about something. For some reason, the Redditors didn't get that, though. [eyeroll]


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately it can also be really difficult to recognize rape and call it what it is. Women know that men jumping out of the bushes is bad, and you should yell. But most of the time it is somebody you already know, and that's why it is so difficult to make the switch from "polite even if he's acting weird" to "oh now this has gone too far I should be protesting." For example: boyfriends who think they are entitled to sex at all times. It's difficult to push away your boyfriend, or explain to somebody else why it was a sickening experience even though you'd already slept with him before. =(

Angie said...

Anon -- very true, but that just makes it even more necessary that women be empowered to express when they're uncomfortable, when they're nervous or afraid or want someone to back off. What keeps a woman from telling a friend or neighbor or boyfriend to just back off or go away, straight out and with no polite BS, is, I think, mainly fear of being thought rude or bitchy or hysterical or whatever. If it weren't considered unfeminine to defend your own boundaries, to express a contrary opinion, or to shut someone down even if he's being "nice" to you (let's not even go into the definition of "nice" here), fewer women would find themselves in a position where their only option is the (even more embarassing) shout of "Rape!" Assuming they're capable of shouting at someone.

And yes, I agree absolutely that we need more acknowledgement of just what rape is. If a stranger drags a woman into a dark alley and rapes her, that's pretty clear. Short of that, though, too many people are just ignorant of what is or isn't, and the stranger-in-an-alley scenario is only a tiny fraction of actual rapes. :/


Suzan Harden said...

Actually, I sent Jim a polite e-mail.

Angie said...

Suzan -- that works too. [nod]