Here's what's prompting this diary, which is from today's CNN news:
A California high school student who police said was gang raped in a two-and-a-half-hour assault outside a homecoming dance remained hospitalized in stable condition Monday, three days after she was flown from the attack scene in critical condition. [...] Investigators said as many as 15 people, all males, stood around watching the assault but did not call police or help the victim, a 15-year-old student at Richmond High School in suburban San Francisco.
WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?
Let's begin with a really concise summary of what men should be doing on the issue of rape prevention, which is taken from Student Health Services website for Illinois State University. Obviously something that none of these boys read.
- Approach gender violence as a MEN’S issue.
- Make sure that the sex you are having is consensual. Do not accept the myth that “no” means “yes”.
- Understand that submission is not consent. Do not make assumptions about consent, ASK for consent.
- Remember that having sex with someone who is drunk* is sexual assault. If an individual is drunk, they cannot legally consent to sex (they cannot make an informed, rational decision).
- Communicate clearly how you feel and what you want. Listen to your partner. Do not rely on body language.
- Do not make assumptions about consent based on style of dress, body language or previous sexual activity. ASK for consent.
- Understand, and help friends understand, that sexual assault is assault, and has little to do with sex.
- Do not remain silent, do not look the other way. Become an “active bystander” – confront friends who are becoming disrespectful or abusive towards women. Intervene when a friend is making a decision that could have devastating consequences.
- Examine your attitudes about women and men that may perpetuate sexism and violence against women.
- Interrupt actions, comments or jokes that support rape and other acts of violence.
These are all excellent. But they still don't fully portray the reality that women have to deal with on a daily basis. Here's the fucking reality.
1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape).
Here's the fucking reality.
Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted. Here's the math. According to the U.S. Department of Justice's National Crime Victimization Survey -- the country's largest and most reliable crime study -- there were 248,300 sexual assaults in 2007 (the most recent data available). There are 525,600 minutes in a non-leap year. That makes 31,536,000 seconds/year. So, 31,536,000 divided by 248,300 comes out to 1 sexual assault every 127 seconds, or about 1 every 2 minutes.
There are some women who have told me that they approach every male as if he could be a potential rapist. Do you honestly think this is crazy after reading these stats? I don't. Unfortunately, the reality is still harsher than you think, as too many people think that the woman is partially (or totally) at fault in certain instances of rape.
According to the findings, around 25% of people believe that women who have been raped are at least partly to blame because of how they dressed, how much they drank or how many sexual partners they have had. The survey revealed that: -38% believe that a woman is partly to blame for rape if she walks through a deserted area. -37% think a woman is partly to blame if she flirts extensively. -30% think a woman is partly to blame if she flirts with a man at all or fails to say no clearly. It also found that 10% pf people feel that a woman is completely to blame for rape if she has had a number of sexual partners.
If the woman is drunk at the time of the attack, 27% think she can be at least partly responsible, with men outnumbering women on that score by 30% to 25%. Some 26% of the sample of 992 Scots say that is the case if the women dresses in revealing clothing. And 32% say there should be some burden of responsibility for rape if the women is flirting, including 29% of women and 34% of men. A significantly lower figure, 18%, think rape can be the woman's fault if she is known to have had many sexual partners.
Then of course, you've got the fact that this culture of blame also exists in the courtroom in rape trials. One of the most recent examples:
The Marriott hotel chain on Monday abandoned its legal claim that a Connecticut woman raped at gunpoint in a hotel parking garage, in front of her young children, had been careless and was partly at fault. The withdrawal followed days of backlash against Bethesda, Md.-based Marriott International Inc., which had claimed in its defense of a lawsuit by the woman that she had "failed to exercise due care for her own safety and the safety of her children and proper use of her senses and facilities."
For those who are unclear on this issue, let me make it clear for you: the victim of rape is never ever ever ever at fault. Why? Because men are in complete control of their faculties when it comes to the decision to rape or not and blaming the victim is an implicit contradiction of this premise. Furthermore, by blaming the victim, you're engaging in revictimization and ensuring that the victim's healing process is laden with emotional land mines. I've heard misogynists who say that rape is partially because of "biological impulses." Wrong. This is a reductionist fallacy that reduces man's capacity to do or not do something to primitive instincts; a man may wish to exert power over another woman, but he is fully capable of choosing NOT to act on this wish. Period. Furthermore, labeling the excuse as "biological impulses" subtly betrays the misogynist's adherence to a myth that needs to die, which is that rape is a crime of passion. This is false. It is a crime of power. Want evidence?
Most convicted rapists do not remember what their victims were wearing. A Federal Commission on Crime of Violence Study found that only 4.4% of all reported rapes involved provocative behavior on the part of the victim. In murder cases 22% involved such behavior (as simple as a glance).
So yeah, this whole myth about how the rapist acts "because he's overwhelmed with desire" or whatever needs to die. Rape is a crime of power. There are plenty of other myths about rape that need to die as well, if we are to fully address and prevent them. Most feminists will tell you that the incidence of rape is a symptom of a much larger problem. The problem is the pervasiveness of the patriarchal sense of entitlement to a woman's body in our culture. Patriarchy views men as vessels of impulse and views women as delicate creatures that can't be trusted around our impulses. I mean... LOOK (on an article concerning allowing women on U.S. submarines):
On blogs and online networking sites, wives of submariners have warned that the close contact could lead to sexual temptation and other complications. “I completely believe this would put strain on some relationships because there are trust issues,” said Jennifer Simmons, whose husband serves on a submarine at Kings Bay. “It’s asking for sexual harassment cases left and right. If you’re trying to go through a passageway together, guess what — you’re going to touch.”
Feminism views men as agents capable of controlling their actions, especially when it comes to the decision to rape or not. In this sense, feminism respects men. It’s patriarchy that views men as impulsive creatures incapable of acting responsibly. If you're a man reading this, this is what you have to do: you have to make your male friends uncomfortable. You have to interrogate their views on this issue and ensure they understand the victim of rape is not at fault. I don't give a shit if they look at you funny for it, especially if you believe them to truly be your friends. Addressing and preventing rape requires us to speak up even when it’s uncomfortable.