Steubenville and CNN and the Rest

Various news organizations, CNN and Fox most notably, have been catching all sorts of crap on my Twitter and Facebook feeds for being unduly handwringing about the fate of the two Ohio teenage boys who raped a drunk and unconscious girl and then found themselves found guilty (actually “delinquent,” which is the juvenile crimes version of guilty) of the rape. The boys were called good kids and excellent students who now faced very different lives because of the verdict. Not much was said about the girl who was raped, although I am led to understand Fox at least partially outed her identity. The combination of these things inspired various levels of rage among the social media set.

And, well. The social media set is right. From the CNN clips I saw, it was as if there was a “passive voice” version of events — look what’s being done to these poor boys — without a corresponding emphasis on the fact that what was being done to the boys was a direct consequence of what they did, namely, rape a drunk and unconscious young woman who could not consent to their actions. This wasn’t a Kafkaesque moment in American jurisprudence, in which these two kids were hauled up in front of a judge for something they didn’t do; they did rape someone. The best (in the sense of “least egregious”) thing you could say is that these boys didn’t understand that their actions made them rapists. But that doesn’t make them innocent of rape, and moreover if they were good kids and students, it seems doubtful they had not learned at some point that sticking your fingers into a woman while she’s too drunk to consent is a thing one should not do. Even if one wanted to argue that’s not rape (which would be incorrect by Ohio law, which is the relevant standard here), it’s still physical battery of a specially egregious sort. It’s hard to formulate a scenario in which a good kid who is a good student doesn’t know that fact.

I think it’s reasonable to be sad these two young men did not have the good sense not to do what they did. I think it’s reasonable to lament that those around these young men did not or could not make them understand that the actions they took were rape before they took those actions. I think it’s fine to note that because of their actions, these kids won’t have the future they would have had if they chosen not to take those actions. What you don’t do is imply that two young people found guilty of rape were victims of tragic circumstance. They weren’t the victims of tragic circumstance; they were the authors of it.

Outside of the news organizations in question, there have been lots of comments that want to find some way to make the girl who was raped share in the blame of her rape, the most obvious of which is the “well, what was she doing drinking so much she lost consciousness?” sort. These comments imply (and in some cases, state explicitly) that if you drink so much you can’t think straight then you kind of deserve what’s coming to you. It should be obvious why this sort of thinking is full of stupid, but as it’s apparently not, let’s go over this again:

1. One’s own poor judgment does not excuse the poor judgment of others.

2. Nothing excuses rape.

Toward the first, yes, it was not a good idea for the girl to drink so much (presuming she did, and was not roofied, or given drinks stronger than she wanted, or all sorts of other scenarios of that sort). This is separate and independent from the fact that it was not a good idea for two boys to rape someone too drunk to give consent. Attempting to link the two is an attempt to suggest causality (“Because the girl was drunk, she was raped”). The causality is easy to infer, but it’s wrong, both legally and morally. The young woman was drunk; separately and independently two young men raped a woman unable to consent to their actions. The young woman should not have been that drunk, perhaps, but her being that drunk does not mean that she invited, should have expected or should bear without complaint, being raped.

There are folks who respond to this with something along the line of “yeah, but if you taunt a bear, you shouldn’t be surprised when your arm gets torn off.” The correct response to this is that human beings aren’t bears. We expect more from human beings and have systems in place to deal with them when they choose not to act humanely to other people. Any response of “Yeah, but…” essentially reduces humans to dumb animals. It’s okay to expect more from humans than that they are dumb animals.

Toward the second, there is no social, legal or moral action in which sexual assault is a reasonable end result, period, end of sentence. Which means that everyone trying to shift blame to the girl for her rape are wrong, and also means that everyone out there going “Hurr hurr those doodz are going to get it in the ass in jail for sure” are wrong, too. The two boys who raped the girl shouldn’t themselves be raped. If you’re confused as to why this is, please refer to point one.

The two young men who raped the young woman are solely responsible for their actions, and are being punished for their actions. It’s a shame they did what they did. But they did do it. It’s a point not to be forgotten, by CNN, by the people trying to include the young woman in the blame, or by anyone else.

661 thoughts on “Steubenville and CNN and the Rest

  1. Hear hear. And its very good to hear a well-read male voice standing up and saying it.

    Because I don’t follow you on twitter, wanted to check you’d seen that the onion called this one:

  2. Thank you, John, for so eloquently stating what I have been trying to formulate in my head all day.

  3. I have zero sympathy for these boys. I have zero sympathy for what happens to those who broadcast the images of the young woman on social media. And I have even less than zero sympathy or all of the adults who were complicit.

  4. I agree completely with Frank and would like to add that I have zero sympathy for anyone who is arrested and charged because they menaced the victim on social media or in person because they consider her somehow to blame for their friends being convicted.

  5. My favorite line today –

    “They weren’t the victims of tragic circumstance; they were the authors of it.”

  6. Much appreciated, John. Well spoken. To me, this kind of outrage is due to the internal urge of humans to maintain the even tenor of their existence. It is easier for many people to rationalize away a crime than expend the cognitive and emotional energy necessary to deal with the terrible consequences of an act, especially when the accused look like innocent kids or other blameless-seeming sorts.

  7. Is the judge delivering the guilty verdict the worst point of their young lives? NO. The reason their life is ruined is because they thought it was okay to rape.

    Let’s stop pretending that a rapist’s life is ruined the moment he or she is caught, convicted, and forced to register as a sex offender for the remainder of their life. Let’s stop giving their grief any amount of attention or compassion. Getting caught isn’t what makes a rapist a monster. Their life was ruined the moment they decided to rape another human being.

  8. If – IF – there is a time to discuss risky behavior with young girls, it is BEFORE they are raped, not after – with an aim towards prevention by being smart.

    AFTER a rape has occurred, the issue of putting yourself into danger is utterly irrelevant. The far greater problem here was the permissive moral failings of the bystanders to the rape, and the rapists, not the moral failings of the victim.

  9. Well-said, sir. Well-said. We don’t need to gloat that these young men have destroyed their lives, because that’s a tragedy, just as what they did criminally was a tragedy. But neither do we need to pretend there was no agency involved on their part – grimly ironic, given it’s their inability to allow for agency on the part of the young woman they attacked that put them in the spot they’re in.

    Signed, a survivor myself, three different times, from 10 yo to 25 – not mentioned for sympathy, but for clarity that yes, survivors are here too. This is the reason I don’t use my offline name as my identity, because my offline name (as a self-employed person) is my business life, and there’s still enough stigma attached to being a survivor that I can’t risk my business on the chance of being stigmatised for this. It’s also why my writing name isn’t my personal name isn’t my online handle. Leads to a lot of names to remember, though. Oh, and I’m nearer 50 than 40 by now. So yeah, it sure as hell can/does affect the victim for life, one way and another (I can speak for me, but this is true of many, many survivors/victims I know).

    I can’t speak to what it’s like for rapists, but then I’m not one.

    Thanks, John. Not cookies, but for being who we knew you were already. I could not be less surprised.

    NB: It would be better to address yourselves directly to the OP, rather than me. I don’t want to take the focus off the crime and its reportage problems, just to be willing to stand up with the young woman most harmed here and say, hey, you’re not alone. Not sure whether I’ll

  10. Complete agreement. Reminds me of similar situations where a victim sometimes feels if they hadn’t done this or that to antagonize or otherwise attract said violating human, then nothing would have happened. To which I say: never think this way. If said violating human had any sense of basic morals and compassion, nothing would have happened period. Regardless of victim’s behavior. She had it coming, my ass.

  11. It is a pity that the lives of the guys should be ruined by this. But they should have thought of that before they acted. Thinking of it now is too late. So the only thing I can say to them is, use this incident as a warning to others. Maybe your friends will know better than to screw up their lives.

  12. People who make the, “Don’t tempt a wild animal,” argument when it comes to casting blame on victims are saying we should only hold our fellow human beings to the same standard we expect from animals. That infuriates me. Animals cannot be expected to behave with a sense of conscience, or to have awareness of the consequences of their actions. They are innocent of guilt by the nature of their inability to understand the consequences of their actions. If a person proves to be similarly unreliable, we incarcerate them because humans are held to a higher standard. Behaving like an inhuman monsters cannot be deferred by claims of ignorance.

  13. RE: the bear analogy… as you point out, people aren’t bears and the comparison ridiculous. But even to the extent there is a parallel, a bear that mauls someone isn’t congratulated for acting according to its nature and left to roam the park.

    And to be clear, I am not saying convicted rapists should be put down as aggressive bears are; I’m noting how disingenuous the line of reasoning is. What reasonably follows from “rapist = bear” is not “end of discussion.”

  14. couldn’t have said it better myself, though I wish I were articulate enough to do so.

    At the risk of defending CNN and being crusified here, is it possible that given the general media policy of not naming or outing rape victims the “talent” at CNN was looking for a different angle and it went from being “least egregious” to what ended up being broadcast?

    As a former wanna-be journalist, it’s often very hard to find a new spin on an ongoing story, especially since the town was so polorized. My guess is that someone said “hey since the town doesn’t really want to talk, let’s find a new twist on this” and it went from what happens to the accused now to whatever the hell CNN transmitted.

  15. Anyone who thinks that these young men deserve leniency is missing the point that they’ve already received it — they were tried as juveniles, not adults, and thus will be free men (albeit stigmatized, and correctly so) by the time they turn 21. If they had been tried and convicted as the adults they were so desperately trying to act like, they probably would have been sentenced to decades of incarceration.

  16. The sorry-ass thing is, it really wouldn’t be hard for a CNN reporter to complete the thought to “it’s sad to think of the future these boys might have had if they had had respect for other people”, rather than “oh it’s so sad” and leaving ambient rape culture to fill in “… that that girl had to make trouble” or what-have-you.

  17. It really brings up a lot of questions. If these kids didn’t particularly feel that they had to hide what they were doing, how often does this sort of thing occur in Stubenville? And, is there anybody in that town who qualifies for the title of “parent” or “teacher?”

  18. John, thanks for your usual moral and textual clarity.

    This case also points out how entirely not cute underage alcohol/drug abuse is.

    Locally, we’ve just had a case where a MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHER is accused of helping one of her students buy drugs. The kid overdosed and died.

  19. I gather that Fox wasn’t the only media outlet to reveal the victim’s name. Which of course doesn’t make it any better, especially given that she was already getting abusive threats.

  20. This is the only thing I’ve read on the subject that hasn’t made want to look up the grounds for justifiable homicide. Thanks, John.

    (Kevin: based on what I’ve read, Stuebenville is a cesspit. Football is the only thing the town has going for it and anyone connected to the team can basically do no wrong. It’s the American sports obsession dialed up to 11.)

  21. If – IF – there is a time to discuss risky behavior with young girls, it is BEFORE they are raped, not after – with an aim towards prevention by being smart.

    Aziz, I find this troublesome, to say the least. I realize you’re qualifying yourself with “if”, but why are we talking about teaching young women “smart behavior” at all, instead of about teaching young men not to rape? It doesn’t matter what rules we put forth for women about “being smart”. If you’re making rules about how not to get raped, you’re part of the problem. A woman can follow all of these arbitrary rules – don’t wear that skirt/go to that place (at that time)/drink that drink/kiss that boy/wear that makeup/leave your house at all – and still be raped.

    These “rules” exist solely to try to excuse the behavior of the rapist, not to help keep a woman safe from harm. Gods know, I followed all the “rules”, and that did nothing to prevent my rape.

    The education needs to be aimed at young men – “Don’t rape. If she’s not screaming ‘Yes, yes, yes’, the answer is ‘No’, zip your pants back up.”

  22. I find the commentary on this case as compared to the LSU/Alabama tea bagging case very interesting. Both have the same blame the victim for intoxication, excuse the actions of the aggressor, and blame on the culture of the communities rhetoric. But the defense of the tea bagging actions seemed a little stronger, whether because people were able to look at that and laugh a little, or just because the victim was male instead of female.

  23. Yes, FOXNews did partially “out” her identity but so did Huffington Post, Jezebel, New York magazine, ThinkProgress, and AlterNet. So, yes they are to be held up to scorn but it’s funny that people aren’t going after all the left-leaning media who did the same thing or worse. What’s worse, you say? Well, for one Candy Crowly of CNN expressing sympathy for the ATTACKERS. Disgusting if you ask me…

    The young woman should not have been that drunk

    I always use this to help remind the women around me that while no, she was not “asking for it”, she should have been more mindful of her own personal safety. That is, to remind them that they (and all people of all ages, really) shouldn’t take to drinking excessively in public due to the fact that there are monsters out there who will take advantage of you. In other words, an ounce of prevention and all that.

  24. Martin – the Onion had an even more bitter video clip about a successful basketball player who worked hard to overcome having raped a girl during his Freshman year. I can’t find the link to it on their site right now but it was ugly because of the interviews with his coach and fellow players were to spot on for the apologists that appear way too often in the case of rape.

  25. Agree with all John, except for point #1. Even though I’m not Jewish, I think an eye for eye, or an orifice for an orifice in this case, is fitting & Bubba will see to that I’m sure.

    Of everything I’ve read & heard of this football-worshipping community (rather: modern-day Sodom), I’m convinced that they are all only sorry the boys got caught, and that’s it.

    Do an adult crime, get an adult punishment, plain & simple – THAT’S what should happen. Charging them with being ‘delinquent’ is a whole other form of disgusting.

  26. It’s the whole worship of jock culture we have, mixed in with a culture of blaming the victim, which is typified in too much of the reporting that sickens me. What they’re saying is, How dare we get upset that a bunch of football players (who are the next thing to holy in our current culture) have their way with a girl – who didn’t consent to any of it? She was there – so she must bear the blame for being in the wrong place at the wrong time!

    It’s disgusting how this has been reported by so much of the Mainstream Media….

  27. When Anonymous got involved in the story months ago, while there was concern of a police cover up (one of the accused had a parent involved in the prosecutors office…) it was also clearly implied that the girl had been either given too much drink or drugged before they got to the party by other girl ‘friends’ of hers who thought it would be amusing.

    It does sound like there’s actually a lot more coming out about this nightmare too.

    Although it does seem to boil down to parents explaining to their children that the best way not to get accused of rape, is not to rape people. I know it sounds simple but apparently it’s really f’king complicated.

  28. @missy: Because we can teach our daughters, we can’t teach other people’s sons. All people are not good no matter what you teach them and you can’t expect all people to be good.

  29. It’s very depressing to see people conflating two separate things. Yes, she shouldn’t have been drinking (much less drinking to excess), however, that does not make what happened to her OK. It’s not her fault that she was raped. It was her fault that she was drunk (again, assuming no roofieing,etc), but that is irrelevant when you’re talking about the rape.

  30. Just because you blame the victim less for being drunk because of “monsters” doesn’t mean you’re not still blaming the victim.

  31. Scopious – if CNN is liberal in your world please seek help. They never were liberal leaning in any sense of the word and have been struggling to be FOX lite for a couple of years.

    Your follow up saying, yes, the girl is sorta at fault, demonstrates a total lack of human sensibilities of any kind.

  32. *applause*

    And on behalf of two daughters, three sisters, and my Sainted Muddah’,

    *huge round of applause*

    I have taken a 0 tolerance policy on idiots, and this is another instance of it. The media fawning over these “good kids” or that they “just made a mistake” is disgusting. They’re not good kids. They’re freaking scumbag rapists, and deserve to be treated as such.

    I have the same response to “my uncle is a really smart guy (doctor/lawer/other rocket surgeon type) but he believes the world is flat, the moon landing was faked, and that aliens blew up the World Trade Center.” Your uncle isn’t a really smart guy. He’s a well trained moron.

  33. @Missy

    Well said! Exactly this. It doesn’t matter how much to drink you’ve had or how short your skirt was or whatever other reason people come up with. It’s NEVER the victims fault. If we keep teaching what ‘not’ to do, then we’re still just pushing the blame on the victim.

  34. @Icarus,

    I’ve heard others putting forth the same idea I think you’re voicing – that the CNN anchors were filling an “empathy vacuum” by playing up the tragedy with images of the defendants crying about the verdict since they couldn’t show a relieved and vindicated victim.

    The only problem I see with that position, is Nancy Grace’s almost nightly parade of crucifying people she perceives as guilty while their trials are ongoing. If this had been a trial for the murder of a young girl, I can’t help thinking the reporters would be proclaiming how justice had been done. Instead, we’re led to default to a position of everyone’s a victim, implying the boys are victims of the girl’s thoughtless behavior rather than completely guilty parties.

  35. The sorry-ass thing is, it really wouldn’t be hard for a CNN reporter to complete the thought to “it’s sad to think of the future these boys might have had if they had had respect for other people”, rather than “oh it’s so sad” and leaving ambient rape culture to fill in “… that that girl had to make trouble” or what-have-you.

    @chaosprime: The really sorry arse thing is that the victim didn’t even rate a mention. You know, CNN, just another raped woman who had her character assassinated in an open court on top of the physical and psychological abuse. Oh, and let’s not forget,this woman’s identity is well-known in her community and has received death threats for daring to go to the police.

    If CNN felt the need to editorialize at all, perhaps she’s a more worthy recipient for CNN’s sympathy that her rapists — who will spend less than four years in a juvenile holding facility and will become registered sex offenders on release. Because, you know, they’re convicted rapists.

  36. Because we can teach our daughters, we can’t teach other people’s sons.

    We can teach our own sons. And yes, we can teach other people’s sons. I do all the time. My sons have friends, they bring them home, and we ALL talk about these things.

    I’ll say it again: All the “smart behavior” in the world will not prevent rape. Only teaching young men not to rape will. Sure, teach your kids self defense, but don’t fall into the trap of magical thinking that it’s going to absolutely prevent bad things from happening. That’s naive, and it still leads to victim blaming.

  37. Scorpius:

    “So, yes they are to be held up to scorn but it’s funny that people aren’t going after all the left-leaning media who did the same thing or worse.”

    To be clear, a media outlet with a policy of not naming sexual assault victims who then names that victim is fair game for a round of WTF? questions. That said, the particular case I heard of was at Fox, not elsewhere; also in this case I think it’s less about the overt politics of a news organization than some journalism-related baseline activities. I.e., this isn’t about Fox being conservative; it’s about it making a mistake in its practices (and being the one I heard about).

  38. Oh, and regardless of how “left-leaning” you think a single reporter on CNN is–which is debatable at best–let’s not forget that a majority (150 out of 277) of the elected federal members of the Republican Party are on record as opposing reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act because of Teh Gayz, including at least one front-runner for the party’s 2016 Presidential nomination (Marco Rubio), and about a dozen that voted for authorization in 2005. CNN is just a news organization, one of many; the elected officials are people who have power. And that doesn’t even count those that successfully held it up for a year due to their abuse of procedural loopholes.

  39. Thank you, John. I truly appreciate your post.

    When a person is raped, the rape doesn’t stop when the physical invasion ends. I think that’s something too many people who aren’t raped don’t truly understand. Because rape is a mental invasion/assault as well as a physical one, it is one of those things that happens to the victim over and over every time he/she thinks about the assault, hears about someone else being assaulted, or suffers the politically ignorant comments made by officials who are meant to protect the welfare of our country’s people. It would be great if rape victims could just “get over it” as soon as the physical assault ends, but it’s not like flipping a light switch. on/off

    I am sorry those boys’ lives will be altered from their “promising” path. However, they earned their criminal sentence and they are criminals. I’m also sorry they both had such bad judgement, lack of moral character, and limited views of the value of another human being that raping a passed out/drunk girl seemed like a really cool and fun idea. A girl who has passed out from intoxication should be taken to the hospital, not raped. She should be grounded by her parents, not raped like a toy doll by her peers. They are extremely lucky that her alcohol blood level was only high enough for her to pass out and not die.

    This whole thing is a very sad situation. Crimes of this nature must stop. It happens too often and far too easily. Discussions like this are the best way to shine light on the problem.

  40. @ scorpius:

    1) It’s worth taking the time to read things before you write about what’s “funny” that people aren’t doing.

    2) The best rape prevention is *not* *raping*. The second-best rape prevention is not enabling rape culture. As many, many people have pointed out, one can pile up ounces and ounces of prevention and lug it around all the damn time and *still* be raped.

  41. @missy: I just can’t see rape as being so inevitable. smart behavior does prevent rape. One friend being smart, one boy being smart, one of the defendant’s being smart. Any of the numerous people that had a chance to step up and say something or do something would have prevented that rape. Saying that she put herself in that situation is not blaming the victim for her rape, but that doesn’t change the fact that it wouldn’t have happened had she not put herself in the situation (assuming no involuntary intoxication).

  42. I notice that we never hear the parallel argument that men should never get drunk, because no man can be sure he won’t rape someone if he drinks. We certainly aren’t told being drunk makes a man more culpable for rape than if he had raped someone while he was sober, or that a drunk man shares the blame for any rape that occurs in his vicinity. Instead, we’re told that alcohol lowers men’s inhibitions, but that’s all right, or at least, that it’s not men who should drink less because drunks are more dangerous.

    In my fantasy world, anyone who made those “she shouldn’t drink, it’s too risky” would be banned from ever consuming alcohol or any other recreational drug, to reduce the risks to themselves and the larger populaton. Yes, at this point someone will tell me Prohibition didn’t work. Where was that argument a minute ago, when the idea was to forbid women to drink? Oh, right, the idea isn’t actually to stop women drinking, it’s to give rapists an excuse because we know that a significant number of people, all genders, will drink, and that abstainers will be pressured and/or tricked into drinking.

  43. @vicki: google the LSU Alabama tea bagging incident. You’ll see plenty of blaming the man for getting drunk and that he shared the blame for getting drunk.

  44. Kilroy:

    “but that doesn’t change the fact that it wouldn’t have happened had she not put herself in the situation”

    Yes, and while we’re at it let’s blame people who we’re driving a car near a bar for being crashed into by a drunk driver.

    You are engaging in victim blaming, Kilroy. That you don’t appear to think you are isn’t changing that fact. Stop doing that right now or at the very least do it elsewhere.

  45. Kilroy: “Because we can teach our daughters, we can’t teach other people’s sons.”

    I don’t see that there’s anything wrong for that to be a topic of one on one conversation with you and your daughters. But, looking around, I’m not really sure I see any net benefits for the public conversation being dominated entirely with discussions of how women should prevent their rapes.

  46. Scalzi is dead on. To head off on a slight tangent, the inability of news organizations to provide news-sans-spin is the single biggest reason I am no longer a working journalist and instead go broke writing fiction. The assignment of tragedy, pity, praise or blame is not the job of a journalist, though that is now the norm. Unfortunately, I don’t see any signs of that trend reversing itself.

  47. Two thoughts:
    I was appalled to hear a (local) news outlet suggesting that parents warn their children of the dangers of social media because they might get caught because of something they tweeted or posted. Wrong. Don’t do it. Then you won’t have to worry about the permanent nature of social media.
    Not that it is any excuse (it absolutely is not), but I wonder if anyone ever told these kids that touching someone who cannot object was wrong or that rape does not have to involve a penis. I saw at least one tweet that indicated that one of the perpetrators thought he should have raped her, indicating he thought he had not. Why aren’t we teaching our kids this stuff?
    Ok, third thought: where were the parents?

  48. @Kilroy,
    Before we go to far down the path of whether smart behavior can or can’t prevent rape, perhaps you should look over the reports of the recent Senate hearings on rape in the military, which feature a number of men who were raped by commanding officers or peers, even though their physical ability, sobriety, intelligence, etc… should have, by your assessment, prevented rape.

    When a person seeking to exert power over another is in a position to flex that power, rape can become inevitable. These boys, their friends, family, and teachers didn’t think they were rapists. They became rapists when they decided they had the right to use this girl for their own entertainment.

  49. John: Me too. But apparently men can’t be taught, is the vibe I’m getting from some commenters, and that makes me…sad.

    Kilroy: No, I’m sorry. You’re wrong. I didn’t go to that place/wear that skirt/drink that drink. I didn’t even leave my fucking house. I was raped in my own home. I did everything “right”, and yet. What else should I have done to prevent my rape? Not live in that house, on that street, in this town? Seriously, are you daft?

    You absolutely ARE blaming the victim when you talk about what she could have done to prevent her rape, and it’s really fucking gross.

  50. @Scalzi: driving near a bar is a poor comparison. How about the comparison of being a victim of a drunk driver when you are the passenger of the person you know was drunk.

    I’m not just some random commentator on this issue, I was a major felony deputy prosecutor for years. I’ve tried numerous child molest and rape cases. I’ve done the training, I’ve interviewed the victims. Avoiding teaching women how to avoid potentially dangerous situations is not blaming the victim, it is just dealing with reality.

  51. Kilroy: “Avoiding teaching women how to avoid potentially dangerous situations is not blaming the victim, it is just dealing with reality.”

    Provide some examples of conversations about rape that don’t discuss what women should do to prevent rape. Examples where people avoid talking about women’s ability to prevent their rape.

  52. @missy: I’m sorry that happened to you. I don’t know you, I don’t know your story. I do know hundreds of other stories. Some crime is preventable. Some crime is not. But just because some crime can’t be prevented doesn’t mean we shouldn’t teach people how to best avoid it. I hate the analogy, but there are some streets law abiding don’t walk down at night and it doesn’t hurt to tell visitors that those streets aren’t safe.

  53. Kilroy:

    “How about the comparison of being a victim of a drunk driver when you are the passenger of the person you know was drunk.”

    Wow, for someone who is not “blaming the victim,” you are totally full of blame for victims.

    “Avoiding teaching women how to avoid potentially dangerous situations is not blaming the victim”

    However, “but that doesn’t change the fact that it wouldn’t have happened had she not put herself in the situation,” is very much blaming the victim. The fact you were a major felony deputy prosecutor doesn’t change that fact.

    So, Kilroy, that’s two strikes in your “I’m not blaming the victim” victim blaming. If you go for three, I’m going to knock it out of the park with a Mallet.

  54. From Kilroy: @Scalzi: driving near a bar is a poor comparison. How about the comparison of being a victim of a drunk driver when you are the passenger of the person you know was drunk.

    WTF?

    Only if you believe the world should exist in a state where any woman deciding to drink at a party is deemed to be making a decision equal to willingly climbing into a vehicle with a drunk at the wheel. You’re saying “I’m going to the party with Ken and Paul and have a drink” is equivalent to “I’ll get in the pickup with drunk-ass Bob and have him drive me home.” One of these actions should obviously include potential deadly risk and is foolish, the other should not be.

  55. The main effect that harping on all the things a woman should do to protect herself from rape is providing safe harbor provisions for rapists; it’s saying “these are the things that, if a woman was doing them, or we think she might have been doing them, we don’t really care that she got raped”.

    The secondary effect is to keep women’s minds on the potential for them to be raped and how all the supposed self-protective measures they’re meant to engage in are flimsy at best, thereby making them terrified, thereby serving the purposes of conservative politics, which have been statistically demonstrated to be more popular with those in a general state of terror.

  56. @Michael: I never said that. that is a huge leap from anything i’ve said.

    @Scalzi: you are ignoring my words and putting meaning where none is conveyed. Mallet all you want, but teaching people to avoid dangerous situations is not victim blaming.

  57. @Kilroy: I think that we would all be more willing to listen to the copious advice about “how to avoid getting raped” if it were counterbalanced with advice doled out to young men about “how to avoid raping”.

    Allow me to expound: there was a study done in which a number of college-age men were first asked if they had ever raped anyone. Then they were asked more specific questions – had they ever had sex with someone who was drunk? High? Not entirely awake? Had they ever coerced someone to have sex with them using physical force, or the threat of physical force?

    A whole lot of the men responded “No” to the first question – no, they hadn’t ever raped anyone. And yet, a number of these same men went on to answer “yes” to questions about using threats to compell someone to have sex with them, having sex with someone who was drunk, unconscious, etc.

    Yes, as you say, there are monsters out there. But there are also ordinary guys who don’t know that they’re acting LIKE monsters, because no one is taking the time to TELL them that that shit don’t fly. And the reason why no one is telling them that is – because they’re all telling us women that we have to not drink so much and not to wear too-short skirts or the like.

    So start giving young men advice about how not to be rapists, as well. Trust me, us women have got the memo already about what WE need to watch out for.

  58. Kilroy: “I’m not just some random commentator on this issue, I was a major felony deputy prosecutor for years. ”

    If I believe you, I’m glad you’re speaking in the past tense.

    She wasn’t walking down a street at night. She was at a party, with people who supposedly were her friends. When was the last time you were mugged at a party? When was the last time you even *heard* about someone being mugged at a party? With people taking pictures and putting them on Twitter?

  59. Kilroy, we need to teach our children, or nieces and nephews, our students, our friends’ kids, not to rape. Right now, in this world, men and women get raped, because their rapists were taught it’s okay to treat other people as objects, not because those other people are objects or made decisions to behave like objects.

  60. @andrewpeterson27: Did you honestly not know that, or are you trolling? Because sarcasm doesn’t transmit well in 5-word Internet comments.

  61. @andrewpeterson27: Maybe TYL that penis-in-vagina intercourse isn’t the only kind of sex. What do you think lesbians are having, anyway? I mean, “fake sex” is usually the actual answer in this kind of conversation, but I’m askin’.

  62. @empressonclinton Do you think sitting down with a group of men and telling them not to rape women is going to do anything? Just like sitting down a group of men and telling them not to drive drunk, murder, steal, fight, etc. isn’t going to change crime rates either. Good people can’t and shouldn’t rely on everyone else to be good to protect themselves. You can’t prevent a robbery by teaching men not to rob, you prevent a robbery by getting a dog, installing a security alarm, and keeping a gun. We can all pretend that we can just hold a few training sessions and all of a sudden we will live in a perfect utopia, but that doesn’t protect you from the reality. Bad people are out there, and everyone should be equipped to protect themselves.

  63. I think I’m almost as angry about the behavior of the others at the party, as I am about the three we’re mostly talking about. Didn’t any of them think to stand up and say “STOP!”, to save one of their friends from being raped, and their other friends from committing that crime? Not one of them? What kind of animals were those teenagers raised to be? I don’t want any of them near me or mine — and I suspect that they are not the only teenagers who are so into “let someone else come to their aid”.

    She’s a victim. Perhaps a foolish, young, drank too much victim, but still a victim. This should not have been done to her (neither the rape nor the photos.)

    The two are rapists. Being drunk is neither an excuse nor an explanation for being a rapist. They’ve gotten off very lightly in the legal system. Given their lack of remorse (unless that has somehow not made the news) perhaps too lightly. Not that remorse would be an excuse or explanation, but it could, perhaps, justify some of the leniency than they seem to have been given.

    The others … “coward” is about the best I can think of to call them. I hope the legal system manages to give them at least a spanking of publicity for their active cooperation in this rape. I will not call it misbehavior, they were helping the rapists.

  64. But just because some crime can’t be prevented doesn’t mean we shouldn’t teach people how to best avoid it.

    No one is advocating not teaching your kids how to protect themselves, but rather, not to get into this magical thinking where that’s all the needs to be done to prevent rape.

    Preventing rape means teaching people not to rape. Stop acting like that’s impossible, and stop looking for ways to make victims culpable for the crimes done to them.

  65. @Kilroy: In case you’re wondering what the mechanism of authority-induced stupidity is, it’s that your arbitrary power of position automatically coerces people into validating your intuitions and prejudices.

  66. Makes you wonder who is writing the scripts for these news segments that thinks the boys here are the sympathetic figures…

  67. The best way to “avoid dangerous situations” is to teach people not to actively create dangerous situations, and how not to encourage or enable the active creation of dangerous situations. Rapes aren’t random events in a unpredictable universe, they’re *caused* by people who don’t know and/or don’t care that what they’re doing is wrong.

  68. Here’s a compendium of “helpful” rape-prevention advice, compiled from what I was told to do growing up, and based on the stories of survivors that I know, or have read about:

    Watch your drinks.
    Don’t get drunk.
    Don’t drink.
    Don’t do drugs.
    Be careful who you flirt with.
    Make a plan for how to get home in a hurry.
    Keep your car keys in your hand.
    Hold your keys so the edges poke between your fingers.
    Don’t go out alone.
    Take your dog with you.
    Don’t go out after dark.
    Don’t walk in deserted areas.
    Don’t run the same route every day.
    Don’t go out with your hair down.
    Don’t go out with your hair tied back.
    Be seen talking on your cell phone.
    Don’t be seen talking on your cell phone.
    Watch what you wear.
    Wear shoes that you can easily run in.
    Don’t sleep around.
    Don’t have sex, because if you consent to one kind of sex, you’ve consented to them all.
    Make plans to check in with a friend.
    Send information about the person you’re dating to a friend.
    Buy a gun.
    Carry a knife.
    Carry pepper spray.
    Learn Tae Kwon Do.
    Park under a light.
    Check under the car.
    Fight back.
    Don’t fight back.
    Don’t draw attention to yourself.
    Don’t let anyone drive you home.
    Don’t let anyone inside your house.
    Don’t make out with anyone.
    Aim for the groin.
    Don’t be alone with anyone.
    Don’t go to parties.
    Don’t go to church.
    Don’t go camping.
    Don’t go to the park.
    Don’t go to bars.
    Don’t go to school.
    Don’t go to work.
    Don’t travel.
    Lock your doors.
    Lock your windows.
    Hide in the closet.
    Don’t be disabled.
    Don’t be a person of color.
    Don’t be homosexual.
    Don’t be heterosexual.
    Don’t be asexual.
    Don’t be in prison.
    Don’t be poor.
    Don’t be a sex worker.
    Don’t be mentally ill.
    Don’t be transgendered.
    Don’t be old.
    Don’t be young.
    Don’t be a daughter.
    Don’t be a sister.
    Don’t be a cousin.
    Don’t be a friend.
    Don’t be in college.
    Don’t be married.
    Don’t be dating.
    Don’t be pretty.
    Don’t be ugly.
    Don’t be thin.
    Don’t be fat.

    Don’t get raped.

    See? Easy peasy.

  69. Kilroy:

    “you are ignoring my words and putting meaning where none is conveyed.”

    Well, no. I am seeing your words and noting meaning you’re apparently not aware that you are providing.

    You are saying that women should be aware and careful. You are also very clearly suggesting that a woman placing herself in a situation where rapes have happened is in some way responsible for her rape. I have no real argument with the former, although I agree that the onus of rape awareness and prevention should not be solely placed on women, and that we aren’t doing enough to educate men. However, the latter is blaming the victim, and the fact you can’t seem to believe it is does not mean it is not. If you don’t want to be seen as blaming the victims, don’t blame them.

  70. Done for the night, but leave you with a quote from a collection of ancient wisdom: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”

  71. I honestly didn’t know. I would have thought some physical sex or sexual gratification would have been part of the definition of rape. I fully admit to never really thinking about it though. Any way you define their behavior it was unacceptable. I just had a much more narrow definitions of rape.

  72. @Kilroy:
    You know that 23 years ago a museum in Boston had over 500 Million dollars of art stolen, even though it had security guards, alarm systems, etc…? Putting the onus on the victim for not properly protecting themselves, either at the time of an attack or by failing to properly plan for the possibility of an attack shifts responsibility for criminal behavior off criminals, full stop.

    Sit down a group of men (say a football team) and explain explicitly what constitutes rape and someone in that group may go out and commit rape, and then the next judge can try them as adults and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law to continue to drive home rape isn’t tolerated.

  73. @Kilroy: Getting dead drunk is stupid. It is the kind of stupid all of us perform at some point because, well, to do stupid is human. In no possible version of this universe is sexual assault an appropriate penalty for doing something stupid. Just no. Your male privilege is showing, and it’s ugly.

  74. @kilroy, indeed, teaching people to avoid dangerous situations is not the same as victim-blaming. Your problem is that you are doing the latter, and not the former.

    Here are examples of teaching people to avoid dangerous situations: “If you are at a public gathering and some guy keeps touching you and creeping on you when you tell him to leave you alone, get away and report him to the authorities, and tell your friends what is happening.”

    Here is an example of victim- blaming: “it wouldn’t have happened had she not put herself in that situation.”

    And yes, actually, we can teach other people’s sons not to rape. If, as you claim, you were a prosecutor, then you should be familiar with a concept called “deterrence”. I bet you might have even argued for it a time it two in asking for a greater sentence than the defendant wanted. When other people’s sons see that they can go to jail for rape, that teaches them rape is a bad idea.

    And we can also teach other people’s sons to hear the word “no”, that men are not animals, that a short skirt or a drunken stagger does not mean “come and get it” – oh, and that they, just like women, are entitled to expect othe people will not have sex with them without their consent.

    I have heard many survivors talk about police or prosecutors whose attitude was that rape is as natural and inevitable as the rain and it’s your own fault if it happens to you. I guess you were one of them

  75. “Mallet all you want, but teaching people to avoid dangerous situations is not victim blaming.”

    Teaching people that if they drink they can fall and hurt themselves is teaching someone to avoid a dangerous situation. Drinking and driving. Climbing on unstable cliffs. But, you’re not talking about teaching women about safety, but about taking responsibility for other people’s actions. Don’t drink and drive is not equivalent to “don’t drink or you’ll get assaulted.”

  76. @andrewpeterson27: Ah, OK. That’s understandable, as the official definition (at least in the US) wasn’t particularly clear until the Administration (Joe Biden believes that sexual assault prevention and punishment is, as he would put it, a BFD) asked for it to be updated last year. It currently reads:

    “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” The definition is used by the FBI to collect information from local law enforcement agencies about reported rapes.

  77. John,

    First off, Fox did not “name” her. They cited a relative. That’s all. But it’s telling that in your world, with it’s narrow and highly-biased (and ideologically-tainted) information stream, you didn’t at all hear about AlterNet or Jezebel doing the exact same thing. But, it looks like what I suspected, the left is once again using something to bash, marginalize (and use as an excuse to ban legislatively) a dissenting voice.

    And, Frankly, please tell me how the fuck that reminding people of being mindful of your personal safety is in anyway “yes, the girl is sorta at fault”.

    I was, frankly, wary of contributing to this discussion because it’s one of the many areas lefties like to unleash their natural inclination to smug, sanctimonious, self-righteous (I repeat myself for emphasis) indignation and to bash any even slight dissention from the party line.

  78. I am somewhat curious what the take on this in your neck of the woods is. Being much closer than I am.

    (I do not believe I can rationally discuss the actual issue, so I am glad others can.)

  79. John, Thank you, we wilve in a horrible world, these people need to anwser for what they have done, age does not matter, they did a unspeakable thing and thay need to pay for it!

  80. @kilroy:

    “Do you think sitting down with a group of men and telling them not to rape women is going to do anything? Just like sitting down a group of men and telling them not to drive drunk, murder, steal, fight, etc. isn’t going to change crime rates either.”

    It appears you did not read what I wrote.

    Of course a simple “guys, don’t rape women, mkay” isn’t going to work. But the longer version of my comment (which it appears you didn’t read) indicates that guys are UNCLEAR what actions count AS rape. I’m not advocating a simple “don’t rape women, guys,” I’m advocating a much more comprehensive explanation that, “okay, look, trying to go for it if she’s asleep? Totally counts as rape. Even if she was flirting with you earlier. Yes, even if she said she wanted to sleep with you at some point – if she’s asleep now, and can’t say ‘yes,’ it still counts as rape. And, you know what else is rape? If she’s drunk. Yep, that girl you saw at the frat party — she was being raped. Yes, just because she was drunk. Oh, and coercing someone to do oral sex? Rape. Oh, and another thing – she does not ‘owe’ you sex if you take her out to dinner. Got it?”

    “Good people can’t and shouldn’t rely on everyone else to be good to protect themselves. You can’t prevent a robbery by teaching men not to rob, you prevent a robbery by getting a dog, installing a security alarm, and keeping a gun.”

    And yet, we also still teach our children that theft is wrong rather than just leaving everyone to get guns and install security alarms. But there’s no public effort to tell men how to avoid raping women. Funny, isn’t it?

    “We can all pretend that we can just hold a few training sessions and all of a sudden we will live in a perfect utopia, but that doesn’t protect you from the reality. Bad people are out there, and everyone should be equipped to protect themselves.”

    I never claimed it would be a “perfect utopia” if we did this. I’m not looking for a perfect utopia. I’m simply looking to not be blamed for something that’s not my fault due to an accident of genetics.

  81. @ chaosprime:

    People can be taught not to rape? Wow! Who knew?

    What a poor opinion of humanity some folks have, to think that we — and in this context especially men — can’t learn to treat a person like a fellow human being.

  82. @Andrewpeterson, I trust that the past tense in your statement means that you are now going to think about it and try to arrive at a better definition? Because your previous definition wasn’t “narrow” it was ignorant and erroneous.

  83. So I’m walking through an iffy part of town late at night, and I take a roll of bills out of my pocket and count them on a street corner. Next thing I know, I’m robbed. At the trial, is my unwise behavior a mitigating circumstance in the robbery? Will the defense get any mileage out of a he-was-asking-for-it defense? No. The jury might not have much regard for my judgement, but, provided there’s sufficient evidence, that robber will be convicted.

    Why things are any different in a rape case is beyond me.

  84. I was, frankly, wary of contributing to this discussion because it’s one of the many areas lefties like to unleash their natural inclination to smug, sanctimonious, self-righteous (I repeat myself for emphasis) indignation and to bash any even slight dissention from the party line.

    The first person to bring up parties was you. Projecting much?

  85. Reminding people to be mindful of personal safety becomes blaming the victim when the conversation is being pulled away from needing to teach men and boys not to rape to being a cautionary tale for women not to drink or attend parties, just like throwing “Left” and “Dissenting” (by which I assume you mean “Right”) into this thread is an attempt to derail the conversation to how CNN wanted us to empathize with criminals to how Liberals are smug.

  86. @Kilroy — “You can’t prevent a robbery by teaching men not to rob, you prevent a robbery by getting a dog, installing a security alarm, and keeping a gun. ”

    While the first two might divert the burglar to a different home, and the latter an appropriate tool to use when confronted with a robber (or a burglar), none of these prevents the crime. They divert or respond to it.

    Hint for male teenagers — When she says “stop”, that means stop, it doesn’t mean push harder. Talk about it. Most of the time, she’ll change her mind, and say “yes”; if not that time, then the next. And she’ll tell her friends that you understand “stop”, and they will then be more likely to say “yes”, in many ways. This is a slow dance, whether two-step, waltz, or tango; it’s not a boxing match.

  87. @Bearpaw: It’s so possible, even people who have raped can be taught it.

    And, well, that had better be the case, since when we start really seriously examining consent, it kinda winds up where if you’re male and sexually active for more than the past month, it’s about 90% likely you’ve crossed a line, and 50% or so if you’re female.

    Not that saying so is a permitted speech act or nothin’.

  88. @ scorpius: “I was, frankly, wary of contributing to this discussion because it’s one of the many areas lefties like to unleash their natural inclination to smug, sanctimonious, self-righteous (I repeat myself for emphasis) indignation and to bash any even slight dissention from the party line.”

    … says the person toeing the party line of a huge percentage of society.

  89. “It’s okay to expect more from humans than that they are dumb animals.” This is kind of what I wrote about this week, too. It doesn’t help either young men or women when we tell them that the default male sexuality is “sex whether the girl wants it or not,” which is the sentiment underpinning any comment that asserts that women who dress a certain way or drink too much are somehow inevitably inviting rape. The point is, whether or not a girl makes bad choices does not implicate her in rape. It is a completely separate issue. The wrongness of rape (or domestic abuse) is not lessened by the choices of the victim. The rapist can always *always* choose NOT to rape. If they don’t, they should face the consequences of that choice.

  90. First off, Fox did not “name” her. They cited a relative. That’s all.

    Chessus Crust, @Scorpius, that’s really disingenuously cute even for you. I don’t know what planet you live on, but where I live (and work) every newspaper I’ve worked for has had a clear policy of not publishing any information that could identify a rape victim. And, yes, that includes naming family members.

    Look, I know everyone around here is a tool of the Vast Politically Correct Liberal Conspiracy but just try syncing up your brain and typing finger. Please.

  91. And y’know what, after last year’s parade of right-wing rape apologists, maybe the left has a more than a little reason to be smug. They’re on the correct side of the issue.

  92. @Eva I don’t know, if I had to try and summarize my thoughts at the moment, I would say that there are vast differences between inserting a finger and a full sexual rape. Perhaps my thoughts haven’t fully matured surrounding this. I feel like I’m half a comment away from going full (R) on this topic though.

  93. “I would say that there are vast differences between inserting a finger and a full sexual rape.”

    So just to be clear, you’d be Ok with someone inserting a finger into your ass without your consent? That *shouldn’t* be a criminal act?

    How about “Don’t touch me without my consent?” That works for me.

  94. @Genufett: If there is a more left-leaning organization than CNN, I don’t know what it is, so I don’t think you can point fingers here.

    One of my biggest questions is where are the parents in all this? Why were all these underage kids at this rowdy, alcohol-fueled party unsupervised? Why were they allowed access to alcohol in the first place? WHERE WERE/ARE THE ADULTS? Why is it always somebody else’s fault when a perpetrator is hauled in to account for his actions?

  95. @andrewpeterson27: as our host has already pointed out, the legal definition of rape in Ohio (as in all states of which I am aware) includes sexual penetration with things other than a penis as some degree of rape and/or criminal sexual assault. I trust I don’t have to explain why this is the case.

    That said, if you think inserting fingers into a woman’s vagina is not “sexual”, you are not half a comment away from being ‘going full (R)’. You are half a comment away from being extremely ignorant of basic sexuality.

  96. Wow, some of you have a very low opinion of men.

    If you really, truly believe that some (or all) men cannot control themselves in the presence of a woman, then why are you not crusading for preemptive custody for these unfortunates? Why are you not at least campaigning for curfews that will keep them safely away from parties with drinking?

    Why, if you believe that men have a natural, inevitable propensity to rape, are you arguing that *women* should be the ones to curtail their own freedom?

  97. TRIGGER WARNING: FOLLOWING COMMENT CONTAINS DISCUSSION OF MY EXPERIENCE OF SEXUAL ASSAULT

    I don’t know, if I had to try and summarize my thoughts at the moment, I would say that there are vast differences between inserting a finger and a full sexual rape.

    FFS, Andrew… If I “insert” as much as a matchstick into any orifice without your consent, that’s rape. I was subjected to a homophobic assault where I was sodomized with part of a vacuum cleaner while half a dozen others stood around and watched. Is that a “full sexual rape” because there was no penile penetration involved? Would it have been more or less “rape-rape” (to use Whoopi Goldberg’s revolting turn of phrase) if the object involved had been a beer bottle, or a tea spoon or a pencil?

    Crap like this is a very large part of the reason why I had a shower, burned my blood-stained underpants and told NOBODY what happened for over twenty years. I didn’t report the perpetrators because I was at boarding school and didn’t think anyone would believe me; and even if someone did, everyone else would line up to tell me how I must have done something to ask for it. That I really shouldn’t have made such a fuss over… nothing at all important.

    So, thanks a whole fraking bunch for telling me – and God only knows how many other rape victims who read Whatever – that maybe what we endured doesn’t really count. Thanks so much.

  98. Thank you, thank you.

    The double standard of saying “those poor boys, look what’s happened to their future” — setting aside the passive voice entirely — without saying “that poor girl, look what they did to her future” … it’s just sickening.

    And while we’re educating boys on how not to rape (god, why is this even necessary), we should also try to teach other kids that it’s ok to step in when they seem something off kilter. It seems there were witnesses aplenty, which breaks my heart. My kid is still young, but I hope that someday he learns that it’s okay to interfere in these situations (or at least to step outside and call an adult).

  99. “I would say that there are vast differences between inserting a finger and a full sexual rape”

    Keep in mind it was inserting a finger in someone who was unconscious and unaware it was happening, and only learned about it when she discovered the pictures and tweets posted about it. I’d say she’s got good grounds to feel pretty well raped.

  100. @ Genufett

    As far as that whole thing goes, speaking for myself as a mostly-lefty, I’d say “contemptuous and disgusted” rather than “smug”.

  101. @ Mythbri – you brought tears to my eyes. I’ve never seen them all listed before. Sadly, I think you forgot “Don’t go with them” and “Do what you can to get out alive.”

  102. The amount of boolean thinking that gets trotted out around rape is astonishing. Look: we require boolean thinking in a courtroom. We must find an accused criminal “guilty”, or not. We don’t lock a man up because he seems kinda bad or slightly guilty. So far, so good: from a legal standpoint, the criminal bears the guilt. There is no point in a court sanctioning victims, even if they did act idiotically.

    But legal standpoints are not the sum of the human experience. When people point out that being a lone highly intoxicated young woman around a gang of aggressive young men might be dangerous, they are not saying this should be so as a matter of law. And it is either ideologically blind or just stupid to pretend that is what people are saying. They are saying it is dangerous as a matter of common sense. Because in the past, in history, we know that gangs of aggressive young men sometimes — not always (boolean), but also not never (boolean) — rape lone highly intoxicated young women.

    Of course, many women (not all! not none!) have also been raped who did nothing to place themselves in harms way. But it is entirely specious to assert on this basis that therefore no woman should bear any responsibility at all for her rape. Because some women (not all! not none!) have stupidly placed themselves into the power of men, and regretted it. Note that I use the word “responsibility” and not “blame”, which is morally freighted.

    As for the “animality” argument: again, we don’t need boolean categories here. If we for some reason did, then humans are humans and animals are not. Boolean. Right. Meanwhile, out in the real world humans are animals. Not just animalistic, we are animals. We evolved via natural selection from apes, and to deny that is unscientific in the highest. Like other animals, we have instincts and programmed behaviors. And rape, in particular, is a human universal that is probably programmed in at some level. We suppress it via the law not because it is unnatural, but because it is natural. Civilization. And it is worth pointing out, as YoungBS did, that humans routinely kill man-killing animals. This is not about their guilt or innocence, it’s about our safety.

    And no, that does not mean that all men are rapists. (Boolean.) It means that there are alleles that, given the right (wrong) environment, predispose some men to rape. (See? Not boolean.) Not all men — some men: those that have those alleles. Not all the time — some times. The point of rape laws is to reduce those times to the minimum we can, given the imperfect nature of human law enforcement.

  103. I dunno. I think the “taunt a bear” analogy has at least some merit.
    If you taunt a bear, it might rip your arms off.
    And if a bear rips your arms off, an animal control officer shoots it on the spot.
    So, if you want to use that analogy, I guess I’m OK with that.

  104. @Scorpius: what I find quite astounding is that the right fucking honourable right-wing leaning members of community have always plenty to say about personal responsibility of victims, but I’ve yet to hear them saying anything about the personal responsibility of the perpetrators.

  105. teaching people to avoid dangerous situations is not victim blaming.

    Does anyone really think women don’t know this already? Do you seriously think we haven’t had it lectured, cat-called, and frightened into us (in some cases, groped and raped into us) since we were too young to understand what any of it meant?

    The world is full of people telling women where we shouldn’t go and when, what we should and shouldn’t wear, what we should and shouldn’t drink–if it’s not the concern trolls spouting obvious platitudes about ‘safety,’ then it’s peers, magazines, and perfect strangers censuring us for doing the very things the concern trolls recommend. Anyone who’s shocked that teenage girls have a range of responses to these confusing, contradictory messages has probably never been a teenage girl.

    And ‘some crime can’t be prevented?’ FFS, Kilroy. A deputy prosecutor surely knows that all crimes have actors–people who chose to commit them, or didn’t choose not to. Rape is not an accident. It’s not a force of nature. Rapists are not monsters. They’re human beings who make choices. And if you’re really saying that they could not be incited to make better choices, then we’re back to Scalzi’s point about how rapists aren’t bears.

  106. @Leonard

    Note that I use the word “responsibility” and not “blame”, which is morally freighted.

    That is a distinction without a difference, as far as I’m concerned. The women who was raped to shreds in India did nothing but get on a bus at night. Plenty of people who have engaged in “risky” behavior have not been raped. I’ve been out on walks, alone, at two in the morning and not been raped.

    The difference is the presence of a rapist who takes advantage of an opportunity. I do not have control over other people’s choices.

  107. This story gained a lot of attention because of a video sent ’round the Webs where they were bragging about it, and at one point one of them says, “She’s so raped right now.” They knew what they were doing 100%, no gray areas involved.

  108. @Leonard: you shouldn’t use genetic terminology in a discussions before learning a bit about genetics.

  109. “Of course, many women (not all! not none!) have also been raped who did nothing to place themselves in harms way. But it is entirely specious to assert on this basis that therefore no woman should bear any responsibility at all for her rape. Because some women (not all! not none!) have stupidly placed themselves into the power of men, and regretted it. Note that I use the word “responsibility” and not “blame”, which is morally freighted.”

    Answer me this: When a woman “places herself in harm’s way,” what harm is in the way, and who put it there? Can you be specific about that? Further, who should bear the “responsibility” for there being harm placed in someones way? Is it your contention that people who place harm at various places in our world are *not* 100% responsible for doing so? That the people that they harm are somehow guilty for it? Even a little?

    And if some kind soul would teach me how to use that cool quoting feature I see so much of, I’d really appreciate it.

  110. @JulieB

    I know. The point of the list is that it’s never complete.

    Although growing up in a very religious and patriarchal society, I was taught that it was better I die fighting than be the victim of a completed rape.

  111. @YoungBS: I had similar thoughts about the whole bear comparison thing. Except I’m not so sure that the way we handle bears that maul people (taunted or not) and the way we handle rapists should be so divergent. I think one of the biggest shames of the whole situation is that these kids are only going to end up spending 2-5 years in juvenile detention. I’d be a hell of a lot harsher.

    My wife and I had both of our boys come and watch some of the news coverage of this trial. My warning to them went something like: 1) it is never ok to touch a woman without her consent, 2) don’t mess with a woman who has been drinking, for your own protection and hers, and 3) if you break rule 1 or 2, it will be interesting to see whether I get to you with my shotgun before her daddy gets to you with his.

  112. @andrewpeterson27: I would say that there are vast differences between inserting a finger and a full sexual rape.

    There are differences (no chance of getting pregnant, for example), but both are considered to be rape by Ohio law. Whether or not the differences are “vast” seems like a completely pointless discussion (and largely subjective to boot).

  113. Guys, given the nature of the topic I’m allowing a lot of leeway in the discussion, but remember that we are all dealing with other people on the other side of the computer, please.

    Also, specifically, let’s resist the desire to bring left/right politics into the issue unless it directly relates to the particular discussion at hand (i.e., Steubenville).

    Additionally: In a general sense, if you’re wanting to make an argument about rape that does not conform to Ohio law on the matter, you’d be best not to here. According to Ohio law, the two young men here committed rape. It doesn’t matter whether you think it should count or if some sorts of rape are more rapey than others. Stick to the facts of the matter and avoid the temptation to suggest that rape isn’t what happened here. It’ll save me some trouble.

  114. Scorpius: I was, frankly, wary of contributing to this discussion because it’s one of the many areas lefties like to unleash their natural inclination to smug, sanctimonious, self-righteous (I repeat myself for emphasis) indignation and to bash any even slight dissention from the party line.

    Scorpius complaining about people toeing the “party line”???

    I didn’t expect to be entertained in this thread, but I’ll take it….

    :)

    wow.

  115. [Deleted for, in my opinion, arguing just to argue. Andrew, please see the comment of mine directly above. We’re tabling the discussion of what should be rape in yours (or anyone’s) opinion and focusing on what the law says rape is — JS]

  116. And if some kind soul would teach me how to use that cool quoting feature I see so much of, I’d really appreciate it.

    [blockquote]And if some kind soul would teach me how to use that cool quoting feature I see so much of, I’d really appreciate it.[/blockquote] (Replace the brackets with angle brackets.)

  117. @Jerome O’Neil:

    And if some kind soul would teach me how to use that cool quoting feature I see so much of, I’d really appreciate it.

    You write <blockquote>blockquote html tags</blockquote> around your quoted text.

  118. @ imbubbasmom

    If you don’t know of any more left-leaning organization than CNN, then you’ve got some epistemic closure issues. Or to put it another way, you need to get out more.

    The argument could be made, perhaps, clumsily, that CNN is the most left-leaning major media organization, but that would still put it to the right of the general public on a whole bunch of important issues.

  119. Wow, this is made so difficult by the few people who really, really, REALLY want to defend rape and rapists.

    You want to know the only statistically certain factor which is involved in absolutely Every. Single. Rape. Ever?

    A rapist.

    If you’re trying to say any other factor contributes, yes, you’re blaming me, a victim, for my rape.

    (CONTENT NOTE: vague, non-graphic suggestions of scenarios I’ve survived)

    When I took a bus, a public transit bus, in a major Canadian city, at a pre-teen age, I was “asking for it.” When I got a ride home from a party outside the suburbs from the only sober adult around, I was “asking for it”. When I walked home from work one night at 10pm, just after dark, I was “asking for it”.

    If that’s not what you mean, then stop blaming the victim. Blame the only factor every single rape has in common. This isn’t complex.

  120. @Jerome O’Neil: I suspect Leonard’s definition of “women in harm’s way” boils down to “not in a hole in the ground wearing a full-length rubbish bag and a chastity belt wired to a suitcase nuke.”

  121. [Deleted for following up on a comment I just deleted. No worries, Jubal — I’m just tidying up and you can continue commenting — JS]

  122. I prefer to keep it simple.

    How to end to rape:

    1. Don’t rape people.
    2. Don’t raise rapists.
    3. Don’t endorse rape culture.

    Not simplistic, just simple.

  123. Well, okay, @thomasmhewlett, that’s super helpful, since it’s innately clear to everybody at all times what constitutes raping people, what chlidrearing behaviors raise rapists, and what cultural ideas comprise rape culture.

  124. Oh, and BTW, it looks as if Jezebel–who, let’s not forget, are one of the main reasons this story made it to the mainstream press in the first place–posted the redacted video in order to shame Fox for being assholes.

  125. Sorry, John. You know, I’ll just bow out of this thread. I don’t think I can contribute anything more than vaguely directed “grrrar” anyway. There is a time and a place to debate “was it rape or sexual assault”, but this isn’t it.

  126. I think it’s reasonable to lament that those around these young men did not or could not make them understand that the actions they took were rape before they took those actions.

    Spoken-word poet Guante has an excellent piece that’s relevant to this, and teaching other people’s sons.

  127. @chaosprime: I’ll take a shot at it.
    1. raping people = having sex with them without their consent. If this is not “innately clear” to everybody at all times, they can consult their local legal codes. Like in Ohio, to name a random example.
    2. child-rearing behaviors that raise rapists = never telling your son that touching a woman who’s unconscious is rape.
    3. what cultural ideas comprise rape culture = getting involved in discussions about what the woman who got raped could have done to prevent it.

    Is it “super helpful”? I don’t know, but it has been for me. I was raised right by a man who was very damn clear about right and wrong and I will be passing his lessons on to my kids.

  128. For anyone who thinks Kilroy has a good point (bc I don’t it’s worth trying to engage Kilroy, but I think this needs to be said)

    One of the many, many, many problems with that attitude is that it pretends that women don’t already do this to a degree that not only restricts our options but eats away at our sense of self-worth. They think that these same young women who think its safe to drink with their friends (what a shocking concept!) never wait for another elevator, cross the street, clutch our keys and cell phone, live in second floor apartments, quietly stop babysitting for that particular family, bring a sweatshirt for that particular class, and so on. Including, you know, deciding to only drink with friends.

    Another major problem is that whenever its brought up, people like to pretend that women don’t get punished for our choices no matter what they are. They paint “not drinking at parties” not only as if it’s reasonable (but oddly – only for girls? not also the boys at the party?), but more importantly as its not at all contradictory to the other advice women get. What I really want to know is where are all these people who are just soooo concerned with girls and women’s safety when we get shit for waiting for another elevator, avoiding certain boys/men, crossing the street, etc.

    Kilroy and everyone else who is just really, really concerned about girls’ and women’s safety – really! – I suggest you take 1/10th of that “passion” you have for concern trolling victims and instead direct it towards the people who punish and disbelieve girls and women we we fight back or make whatever decisions we think we need to make for ourselves. Because living lives restricted by other people’s inability to see us as human is not going to keep us safe or happy and healthy, what will is: going after the people who hurt us and standing up for us when we stand up for ourselves.

  129. Thumbs-up to most of this post, but:

    It’s hard to formulate a scenario in which a good kid who is a good student doesn’t know that fact.

    I’m not sure I agree with this. I think it is possible that a genuinely “good kid” could do something like this. Maybe even with a clear conscience.

    Which is why that I think that the social media backlash is also a little misguided. People gleefully referring to the boys as “rapist scum” and “they did this to themselves, let them rot in prison”, are in my opinion also missing a critical dimension here. I mean, I get it: this passivization is pretty bullshit, and it’s something that needs to be countered. We all bear primary responsibility for our own actions, and thus we have to bear primary responsibility for the consequences. In the end, Mays and Richmond got off lightly (not that lightly, though- their names are irreversibly tarnished).

    But at the same time I can recognize that those boys’ actions weren’t performed in a vacuum. The more intelligent corners of the Internet seem to get this, but in the more, let’s say excitable mediums, like Twitter and Tumblr, there’s a lot of angry posturing and fuck the scumbags and how can you feel sorry for these psychopaths. Well, because it’s not all on the perpetrators. None of it is on the victim, of course, but part of it is on us.

    I’ll be honest: I’m not really on board with the feminist theory of “rape culture”… it’s overly simplistic and fails to account for certain discrepancies. But it’s certainly true that “sex ed” in the public school system, basically isn’t. It’s worse than useless. And of course, if we can’t even freaking talk about the biological reality of sex, we sure as hell aren’t talking about proper sexual behavior. So yes, Mays and Richmond are rapists, but in most other respects, I’m sure they’re also good kids, good students, and all the rest. I don’t see any evidence to the contrary; actually, if they were known delinquents, they probably wouldn’t be getting the local support they have been.

    And this particular dissonance is because maxims like “lack of refusal isn’t consent” really aren’t required knowledge to be a “good kid” in this society. I mean, that sounds ridiculous when you spell it out like that, but it’s true. And again, that’s on us, not Mays and Richmond.

    (Now, obviously, inserting your finger into an unconscious person is, like you said, a really egregious violation. I’d like to think that most teenagers would understand that kind of thing is not OK. But what I’m saying is, it’s not emphasized… in contrast to, say, thou shalt not kill. Or even thou shalt not cheat. Following the not-logic of certain people, it seems to be considered a moral violation roughly comparable with “getting drunk and passing out.”)

    So I think that Steubenville has failed not just the Jane Doe, but Mays and Richmond too. If those boys had been raised in a different culture, maybe they would have been equipped with the good sense not to ruin their own lives. I feel regret for them too… and I’m not going to apologize for that.

  130. @Bearpaw (love your screenname): Yes, I do need to get out more, and I agree with your second paragraph. You said pretty much what I meant in the first place.

    But still, how is it that all those UNDERAGE kids got ahold of all that alcohol? Why in the world was there no adult supervision?

    That poor little girl. Thank you, John, for writing such a cogent, well-thought-out blog today.

  131. @thomasmhewlett: Sure, that’s a lovely start. It isn’t complete or sufficient, and will not be simple when it is. Basically, my problem with your formulation is that I identify speaking in platitudes as if everybody was born knowing what they need to know about this as one of the problems here, not a solution to any of them. It discourages actually having the conversations with your son or friend about where the lines are drawn, for one thing.

  132. @MRAL

    If those boys had been raised in a different culture

    You mean….if they hadn’t been brought up in a rape culture?

    I agree that our culture/society needs to be re-examined and that we should look at how our culture informs what happened in Steubenville. I fail to see how this is different from talking about rape culture – which, after all, is a culture that tolerates and/or normalizes rape, even while professing to condemn it.

  133. Kilroy: that doesn’t change the fact that it wouldn’t have happened had she not put herself in the situation

    …..

    Wait the fuck a second….

    How do you KNOW that?

    Seriously? That’s some fucked up logic dude. How is it you got this crystal ball and none of us did? How is it you can look into the past and divine that had she changed something about her behavior that these assholes would never have raped her?

    You’re operating under a bullshit premise. A manufactured premise. A made up premise. That these guys wouldn’t have sexually assaulted her if she had just changed (insert anything about her behavior leading up to getting raped).

    And BECAUSE you’re operating under a bullshit premise, BECAUSE you’re entire argument boils down to “if she hadn’t done (this), then they wouldn’t have raped her”, you present the males like automatons running a fixed program, and she should have known the program. And she should have known not to do what she did. And therefore, she brought it all on herself.

    That is so many levels of fucked up that it just boggles.

    It’s like the “bear” metaphor. The males were just bears and if you taunt a bear, you get you’re arms ripped off. And what is the flip side of that moronic logic? That if you do NOT taunt the bear, the bear doesn’t rip your arms off. And therefore, if a bear rips your arms off, the ONLY way that could have happened is if you do one of the known, preexisting stimuli that forces the bear to rip your arms off, when the bear would have otherwise left you unmolested and armed.

    Fuck that.

    it wouldn’t have happened had she not-

    It’s crystal ball bullshit. And it results in the men being mechanical automatons and only the woman/victim had any choice in the matter here. She stepped on a landmie and the landmine exploded, had she not stepped on the landmine, she would not have gotten blown up.

    How about this: It wouldn’t have happened if these guys didn’t rape her.

    Because we can actually prove that.

    youre statement is just some crystal ball nonsense you made up that fits your model of the world.

  134. My apologies for being to argumentative. I do appreciate the conversation as a whole because I did learn more about the legal definition of rape. (seems related to the previous comments about teaching other peoples children.) This is not a topic of my general thought process.

  135. I’ll be honest: I’m not really on board with the feminist theory of “rape culture”… it’s overly simplistic and fails to account for certain discrepancies.

    Well, it fails to account for the generalized problem, which is our “women are property” culture from which entitled little scumbags like these two spring.

  136. Don’t usually comment here, but this is something I do feel very strongly about, and I absolutely agree.
    The causality here is these boys deciding it would be a good thing to rape the girl and them raping her.

    Anybody should be able to pass out drunk without fear of being abused. They should be able to wear what they like without being raped or attacked.

    The judge’s comments were also disturbing – he implied that it would have been okay if they hadn’t filmed it.

    And their football coach who knew but didn’t report it. Disgusting.

  137. just some crystal ball nonsense you made up that fits your model of the world.

    Well, y’know, that’s what cop types do. Then when somebody points out how they’re full of shit, they huff and puff about how they know about crime because of all their experience. Never mind that having experience in that kind of authority makes you exponentially less likely to ever figure out anything that’s going on, since you have the power to make the situation conform to whatever theory makes you feel best about yourself and what you do.

  138. There are folks who respond to this with something along the line of “yeah, but if you taunt a bear, you shouldn’t be surprised when your arm gets torn off.”

    That’s why, if a bear tried to take up residence in Steubenville Ohio, it would be shot.

  139. I was thinking back to a party at university when the doorbell rang and a couple of guys had picked up one of our friends who had drunk to much and more or less passed out a small distance away – they knew she hung around with us so brought her back. So we thanked them and did what you do with a drunk woman – put her to bed with a bucket, made sure she was OK, then mercilessly took the piss out of her the next day when she had a monumental hangover.

    Oddly enough, no one thought it would be a good idea to molest her – not the guys who found her (who, for the record, were also pretty drunk, it being 11 at night in a University housing area in the UK), or us.

    These two deserved what they got, but all the others who stood around and watched and didn’t say anything – that is almost as bad. The young woman made a bad choice, but nothing should have happened to her beyond a bad hangover. Standing by and not saying anything is unconscionable in my mind.

  140. @Leonard: Calling it “Boolean” does not change that you are victim-blaming.

    As Annalee and jennygadget pointed out, women are punished for NOT making choices you deride as “stupid”. Don’t want to drink around a mixed group of male and female friends, or say “it’s okay, I’ll get the next elevator” or don’t respond to that nice guy wanting to chat on the bus, and you’re a paranoid, stuck-up bitch who thinks all men are rapists. Of course, if you do these things and it turns out your drink WAS spiked or the guy on the elevator or the bus is a creep, well, damn, girl, were you born yesterday?

  141. @ Mythbri – I heard a sermon lauding a woman who died rather than being raped in the late 1970s. Fortunately, I heard many better sermons later. But yes, that is still a viewpoint that people hold.

  142. Annalee

    Thank you for the link; I really needed it.

    MRAL

    No. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that if you had been on the receiving end you would not be trying to equate ‘good at football’ with ‘good student’ and then ‘good'; it’s a fatuous argument.

    The fact that one of the boys was sure his Coach was going to sort it all out certainly suggests a profoundly corrupt and corrupting culture, but that does not excuse his actions; there are plenty of boys in profoundly corrupt and corrupting cultures who do not rape people…

  143. Is the judge delivering the guilty verdict the worst point of their young lives? NO. The reason their life is ruined is because they thought it was okay to rape.

    I agree with Frankly would would suggest that the worst point of their young lives was the moment that they decided to commit rape. Although their actions since clearly show that they didn’t think that it was “real rape”, our justice system has reminded them (and everyone else in that town) in loud and clear terms that it was indeed rape.

    My only hope for them is that this was indeed the worst part of their lives and that they use the rest of their time on Earth working to make certain that no other young person thinks that it is OK to rape someone. Not ever. Not for any reason.

  144. @chaosprime – I hear what you’re saying. Platitudes won’t change anything. Agreed, but it was not my intention to speak in platitudes. I tried to express myself simply because I get frustrated that this is not a simple issue of right and wrong. I get frustrated that it’s not self-evident to people what rape is and that it’s always wrong. I brought up rape culture because I wish that people on the news would see this story and ask what is the total failure on all levels of adult involvement in these boys lives that resulted in this crime? I know we need an open discussion to change things. I hear you on that.

  145. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that if you had been on the receiving end you would not be trying to equate ‘good at football’ with ‘good student’ and then ‘good’; it’s a fatuous argument.

    I’m not saying anything like that. I’m saying that I have no problem with believing that they could be “good kids”, with active consciences, who are also rapists. Which to me suggests a more fundamental problem with our moral teachings. Now are they, in fact, good kids? I have no idea; I don’t know them. But it wouldn’t be implausible.

  146. @MRAL/@Stevie: “Good person” doesn’t mean, or doesn’t always mean, “conformist person”, but “good kid” always means “conformist kid”. So yes, they were “good kids”. To all accounts, they did absolutely nothing but what you do in Steubenville.

  147. “It’s hard to formulate a scenario in which a good kid who is a good student doesn’t know that fact.”

    I took Psychology of Violence while at UCSC (my degree is in psychology) and rape was one of the things we covered. Unfortunately, I no longer have my notes but here are some messed up statistics I remember:
    -In a survey of junior high school students the majority agreed with the statement “It would do a woman good to be raped.”
    -In a study of men who had been found guilty of acquaintance rape, many of them expressed a lack of understanding that what they did was wrong (i.e. they believed the old saw that “no means yes” or felt that because they’d paid for dinner the woman was obligated to put out).
    -Many men studied who were found guilty of acquaintance rape did not think what they did was rape, instead defining rape as the “masked guy jumps out of the bushes” sort of action.

    I can very much see a setting in which someone, who might otherwise be “good, wouldn’t understand what they were doing was rape because the (rape) culture they were brought up in didn’t educate them about it. Sports.yahoo.com had a really good article about this whole situation that detailed that at one of the parties another person there who saw the assault took the time and effort to steal a friend’s keys because said friend was going to drive but was drunk but walked in on the assault and didn’t even bat an eye at what was happening. Some people are not educated to know what rape is; some people, quiet honestly, think rape is just a synonym for sex.

    Should they have known it was wrong? Yes, because they knew what they were doing was, at the VERY LEAST, humiliating to the young woman (which is why they were doing it) and should have known it was wrong in the Golden Rule sense. Does that offer them some kind of out of their responsibility in what happened? Not in the slightest, nor does anything in the paragraph above.

    But I can see a situation where someone who was otherwise good in the rest of their lives did something incredibly bad because of the culture they were raised in.

  148. But still, how is it that all those UNDERAGE kids got ahold of all that alcohol?

    Wait, what now? It’s not difficult at all, especially in a football town. There’s always going to be someone who will buy for underaged kids. ALWAYS.

    Why in the world was there no adult supervision?

    Because young adults are often left to socialize amongst themselves. And sometimes, they’re going to get up to trouble like underaged drinking.

  149. MRAL the thing about culture is that laws influence it. That when teenage lads see a high profile case of a football team’s lives “being ruined” because they raped someone then they are less likely to commit rape themselves, and the parents of those teenage boys are more likely to tell them not to rape because its on the news in front of them.

    This is one of the principles behind the “punishment” aspect of the law, to prevent future crimes and victims.

  150. So, apart from that, Mrs Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?

    Personally, I would say the fact that our culture might be failing to teach kids not to rape, as well as the possibility that if things were different this crime might never have been committed, to be very important points and entirely relevant to the discussion, but ymmv.

  151. When a person is raped, the rape doesn’t stop when the physical invasion ends.

    Especially not for the girl in this case – two other teen girls were arrested for making death threats towards her. Presumably, she violated the social norms of her town by “ruining the lives” of two important members of the football team.

  152. I think our host is assuming facts not in evidence: that drunken, teen-age, high school football stars are, in fact, human beings. So, while the girl being drunk was NOT causal and the penalty for being drunk out of your mind should NOT be that you are raped; being drunk in that environment certainly makes it EASIER for that to happen. In that environment, I’d actually be surprised if she was the ONLY drunken person who was raped……

  153. I wish that, following (frightfully common but rarely reported) incidents such as Steubenville, we could adopt less gendered, less paternalistic narratives around educating young people on safety and partying. To make an imperfect connection, universities with high rates of alcohol-related deaths have found that, rather than cracking down on partying (pretty much impossible), promoting a culture of looking out for your friends (so they don’t fall off something with no one around call 911 or make a poor decision to do something illegal or end up passed out alone on a frat couch) actually reduces alcohol-related injuries and fatalities.

    When we are talking about sexual violence and partying, why not ask: “Is your friend trying to pick up a young woman that is obviously too drunk to consent? Why not point this out to him (or her. acknowledging here that both men and women can be both the victims and perpetrators of rape), and suggest that he get her number and try to make plans for another night, when they can both make a clear-headed decision? If your friend has malicious intent, he’ll know you’re watching him. If he honestly didn’t realize how drunk she was, you’ll have potentially prevented him from committing a crime.” Or: “Check in with your friends. Is someone getting cornered by a creepy guy? Ask her if she wants to leave the party and head home.”

    This does not means that responsibility for a rape is transfered to the victim’s friends or the rapist’s friends. Rapists are still ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS responsible for the crimes they commit, but in light of this reality I think there are less victim-blamey ways to talk about safety. Rape culture isn’t just about bad people who commit crimes; it’s also about community.

  154. Kilroy’s comment

    Do you think sitting down with a group of men and telling them not to rape women is going to do anything? Just like sitting down a group of men and telling them not to drive drunk, murder, steal, fight, etc. isn’t going to change crime rates either.

    brings to mind the fact that one of the witnesses (who I believe was given an immunity deal to testify) said he saw the two perpetrators abusing the victim, told them goodnight, and left . . . after taking the car keys off of another drunk friend. So no matter what Kilroy thinks, “friends don’t let friends drive drunk” is a lesson that worked and reduced criminal behavior. Why should “friends don’t let friends rape” be different? The tweets and video that went viral make it pretty clear that the kids involved and witnessing it knew what was going on was rape, but they didn’t try to stop it. They laughed. There’s a disconnect here, and it’s disgusting. Those two young men are solely responsible for their actions. Their friends are also responsible for their lack of actions. (And failing to report a felony is also prosecutable in Ohio.)

    Screw telling the victim how she should have avoided being in danger, teach those kids “friends don’t let friends rape”.

  155. “1. One’s own poor judgment does not excuse the poor judgment of others.”

    No, it absolutely does not. It seems that those kids have got some serious problems. However, when one puts themselves in a situation where it should come as no surprise that very bad things might happen, they shouldn’t be surprised when very bad things happen. Victims who are guilty of being stupid ought accept responsibility for being stupid, accept responsibility for their role in something very bad happening. It strikes me that this girl has got some pretty serious problems of her own. The whole situation is FUBAR.

  156. but “good kid” always means “conformist kid”.

    Not to me, necessarily. A “good kid”, in my mind, would be someone who wants to do right. Yeah, I guess this involves a degree of conformity as does any moral system, but a good kid, or a good person for that matter, is someone who doesn’t look for loopholes. Someone who doesn’t just want to avoid getting caught.

    Again, I have no idea if this describes Mays and Richmond. But as I’ve said, it conceivably could, even though they’re rapists. How can this be? That’s the question that needs to be acknowledged and addressed.

    (Also, just to be clear, I’m simplifying the situation here. Realistically, they both had to have been aware that what they did was wrong on some level- invasion of privacy, kidnapping, assault, bullying, etc. So I think Mays and Richmond are probably assholes with athlete’s entitlement. However, if they had really known that they were committing rape and they would be rapists if they carried through with it- if there were no way for them to get around that knowledge- they may have refrained.)

  157. @lurker: “Friends don’t let friends rape” really hits the nail on the head, I think. The perfect distillation of what I was trying to get at in my 3 whole paragraphs earlier.

  158. if they had really known that they were committing rape

    Oh, you mean like if someone had said “She is so raped right now”? OH WAIT THEY DID.

  159. Do you think sitting down with a group of men and telling them not to rape women is going to do anything? Just like sitting down a group of men and telling them not to drive drunk, murder, steal, fight, etc. isn’t going to change crime rates either.

    Well, yes, Kilroy. I think it will at least be a start. Just as (to reference an earlier discussion around these parts) I’ve seen creepers back the fuck off women they’re harassing because members of their peer group/social circle make it perfectly, explicitly, unambiguously clear that what they’re doing isn’t cool, and there will be consequences if they don’t immediately cease and desist.

  160. I think it’s perfectly possible to acknowledge that those boys are rapists, and that they deserve the punishment they got, while also acknowledging that there is something truly, deeply broken about the society that raised them up to do this.

    As far as whether or not they’re good kids–the world isn’t a D&D game. There are more than nine moral alignments, and you’re unlikely to meet someone who keeps the same one all day, let alone all their lives. If goodness is an unweighted average of all our individual choices, sure, maybe they’re good kids. What we have, however, is the weighted average, which has found them to be delinquent minors.

    The binary notion that because they’re rapists, they’re unequivocally horrible people only contributes to the narrative that rapists are rare, depraved monsters, rather than everyday people. That’s a narrative that provides camouflage to charming serial offenders, and lets otherwise ‘good’ people tell themselves that they’re not really rapists, because rapists are monsters.

  161. @MRAL: Fair enough. But, well, show me a community who’s willing to call a kid whose desire to do right makes them a Marxist shit-stirrer a “good kid” and I’ll show you a community that’s not in the United States.

  162. @Annalee: I’d like to add that “rapists are monsters” is an immense driver of victim-blaming, since if your friend rapes someone, well, you know your friend isn’t a monster, so you go merrily to work finding some reason why your friend isn’t a rapist.

  163. @Cindy Lou Who: I’m not certain why you seem to be under the impression that the victim/people participating in underage drinking have some very serious problems. That is, of course, ASSUMING that the victim didn’t get roofied or plied with stronger drinks/unexpected drinks she wasn’t prepared for. Still, the culture of underage overdrinking in the United States is pervasive to the point of easily being considered normal. Whether that’s good or bad is up to personal opinion, but it’s definitely not a signifier of any attributes to the drinker except that they like to drink and perhaps don’t know or don’t care about their limits.

    The only guilt or responsibility a victim should take for their actions are the direct consequences of those actions. For a heavy drinker, they might be responsible for their terrible hangover the next day, for being late to work/class/an important date. Worst case scenario, they might be responsible for throwing up all over the carpet and then getting rushed off to the ER for their stupidity. The actions of others are NOT their responsibility in the slightest, and the victim has role whatsoever in deciding their choices.

  164. chaosprime: exactly that. It’s also an immense driver of victim-blaming because monsters are a force of nature–much like bears. Dehumanizing rapists places the onus on victims, rather than keeping it on the rapist, which is where it belongs.

  165. Agree with everything John wrote, except for the bit about expecting better from human beings. I certainly HOPE for more and wish/want more, but too many ugly things happen for me to be able to honestly say I *expect* more–especially from young people who are in a group setting and surrounded by alcohol. That scenario may not make anything “inevitable,” but it sure increases the odds. This sort of shit is why having a pair of 14-year-old daughters scares the hell out of me at times.

    Otherwise, I have to admit that the comment thread following falls short for me. I normally expect (there’s that word again) the highest level of discourse here, even on controversial or distasteful topics. I’m afraid I don’t see that this time around–just way too many people being a-holes to one another in the name of one-upmanship (“You’re victim-blaming!” “No I’m not!”). Oh well.

  166. @lurker-by-nature:

    I think the comparison to drunken driving education is PERFECT. I know plenty of people of the generation just ahead of mine who remember driving around with an open beer in their hand, 30-40 years ago. But when I came of driving age in the early ’90s, you couldn’t turn around without tripping over a PSA about drunk driving, and at this point, I think it would be a rare teenager who doesn’t know a) that drunk driving is illegal, b) that being caught will fuck up your life, and c) some simple things to do when someone is obviously impaired (take their keys, call a cab). And sure, there are still drunk drivers, because human nature is what it is. But there has been a damn good job of getting out the word that drunk driving is wrong, it will get you in trouble, it will get other people in trouble, and here is *simple list of things* that you can do about it.

    And you know what else? Drunk-driving education is entirely focused on the perpetrators: discouraging people from driving drunk, and teaching them how to stop their friends from driving drunk. I cannot remember EVER seeing a PSA that puts the entire onus on the victim and talks about what to do to prevent a drunk stranger from running over you with their car. Which would be what, exactly … avoid driving on Friday nights? Avoid crossing streets? News stories don’t focus on what the drunk driver’s victim should’ve done to avoid being hit … because there is a general assumption that a person walking on the sidewalk should be safe from someone veering out of the lane and hitting them. Even if the pedestrian is wearing their headphones and not looking behind them. Even if they are drunk themselves.

    There is no reason whatsoever why kids couldn’t be educated about rape exactly as they are about drunken driving, from a perpetrator-prevention standpoint – this is what constitutes rape in your state, these are the horrible things that will happen to you if you are convicted, these are the warning signs to look for in someone else, these are the things you can do if you believe your friend is going to rape someone or if you walk in on a rape in progress. Actually, at this point it’s a social travesty that we don’t already do this.

  167. MRAL said: “Personally, I would say the fact that our culture might be failing to teach kids not to rape… to be very important points…”

    Those is an important point. So important, in fact, that we give the culture a name – we call it a “rape culture”, a term you are familiar with.

    “…as well as the possibility that if things were different this crime might never have been committed…

    This, however, is just a classic tautology – if things were different then things would be different – and really doesn’t contribute much.

  168. The rapist is entirely to blame for his actions.
    He is out of control. He is like a runaway train
    rushing down the tracks and about to crush
    whoever is before him. Having said all of that,
    you don’t try to fight a runaway train
    — you get off the tracks!

  169. It’s been my understanding that rape is not sexual in nature, as much as it is exerting power over someone weaker. This young lady was obviously in a weaker position that apparently gave everyone around her the idea that this whole “escapade” was somehow called for. My ex-wife was raped twice in her life. The first rape resulted in a pregnancy, my stepdaughter is now 42 years old. The second rape resulted in her nose being broken. Near the end of our 21 year marriage, my wife accused ME of raping her twice while she slept. No amount of proof to the opposite would convince her of that, and I didn’t find out about her accusations until long after we’d started seeing a marriage counselor. My parents raised me to have respect for other people, that regardless of what I thought I understood, that unless the message was loud and clear, best keep your paws where they belong. I can’t speak for anyone else, but the fact that men are the invitees in any case, should explain enough that you don’t just walk into someone else’s house without being invited or consent given. You don’t just stick anything into a woman because she’s too drunk or drugged to realize it. 17 years old, they were old enough to know right from wrong, and if they had thought about it, maybe they would have acted the way they would have wanted someone to act around them if they were on the receiving end. No excuses for these boys, and especially not for the people who stood around and let it happen.
    Didn’t the apology in the courtroom mention the victim’s name? And of course, the apology only went so far as to regret that the picture had been taken, not that they had stuck their fingers in where they didn’t belong.

  170. @Canyon42, crazy as this may sound, you know what happens all the time? Young people in mixed groups drinking where NOBODY thinks it’s hilarious to rape anybody, or to stand by and take pictures for the amusement value.

    Up thread someone made the excellent point that humiliating the victim was the entire goal here. This wasn’t even “gosh, I thought she was into it” or “but my penis was exploding and I couldn’t help myself” or any of the usual excuses for rapists’ behavior. They thought it was funny to stick their fingers in her vagina when she was passed out. Their friends thought it was hilarious and took pictures; their friends did not say “but I thought they were having sex and she was into it.”

  171. @mythago “They thought it was funny to stick their fingers in her vagina when she was passed out. Their friends thought it was hilarious and took pictures” That’s somewhat what I was trying to say earlier. I can see this much more as the demonstration of dominance.

  172. Thank you John, for being the sensible, thoughtful blogger we have all come to expect.
    @ Mythbri When I went to school.. it wasn’t hinted at.. it was straightforward.. if a man attempts to rape a woman, she should make him kill her. They never did explain how we were supposed to do that. As for your list.. oh there is so much more to add, and the list does grow ever day! At the same school, we were taught that there were some behaviors that would ‘make’ someone rape us, even if they were not there to witness the behavior, because it made ‘bad girls’, and apparently rapists can easily identify ‘bad girls’.
    Yes, there is such a thing as rape culture.

  173. He is out of control. He is like a runaway train

    Uh, no.

    At the risk of being crass, they did not trip and fall into her, yelling the whole time that they couldn’t stop and would someone please move her out of their way.

    If they’re anything train-related, they’re a conductor who had miles of empty track to stop in, and chose to speed right over the person on the tracks anyway.

    But even that presumes that they were bound to a set of tracks–a single course they could take. Humans, not being large, diesel-powered machines with a lot of horsepower and long stopping distances, are not thus bound.

    They never had to decide how to navigate around hurting her. They actively had to choose to navigate towards it.

  174. @Jim

    How does this:

    He is out of control. He is like a runaway train
    rushing down the tracks and about to crush
    whoever is before him.

    Logically follow from this:

    The rapist is entirely to blame for his actions.

    If a rapist is to blame for his or her own actions, then he or she is not out of control. They have control over their own actions.

    You know who doesn’t have control over a rapist’s actions? Everyone who is NOT that rapist.

  175. Mythago, the only problem with the first paragraph you wrote is the “happens all the time” part. Clearly, it doesn’t happen ALL of the time, and this is one of those times when it didn’t. Most of the time, certainly, I freely grant you that. That’s where I was going with my point about what I hope/wish/desire from people versus what I “expect.” Perhaps expect is simply the wrong word for any of us to be using here–maybe I would be better served to say I am “wary” of human behavior under the conditions I described. Those conditions do not make bad things inevitable or even likely, but they certainly do increase the odds.

    As for your second paragraph, well, yes, I understand that completely. Not sure what it had to do with what I wrote, though, since I wasn’t ascribing any particular motives or reasons behind the rape that occurred. These guys were absolutely 100 percent responsible for their own behavior and decisions, and under no circumstances do I feel badly about the consequences they will serve for those actions, and their purpose for it all is irrelevant for me. (Or was that second paragraph just a general observation rather than being directed to me as well? If not, you’ll have to clarify for me the connection.)

  176. @andrewpeterson27

    Can I have the blue pill and just go back to my happy fun view of the world?

    Consider for a moment that this not-so-happy and not-so-fun view of the world is the one that some of us have to live with every day. Then ask yourself if you’re really better off not knowing that.

  177. @mythbri I have no frame of reference to even begin to understand the mentality of having to survive in anything but an ideal world. I don’t view myself as spoiled, overly optimistic, yes, and I would go so far as to say generally empathetic. Cases like this are just too many standard deviations away from my norm to even be able to see this as a reality.

  178. The rapist is entirely to blame for his actions.
    He is out of control. He is like a runaway train
    rushing down the tracks and about to crush
    whoever is before him. Having said all of that,
    you don’t try to fight a runaway train
    – you get off the tracks!

    How do we tell the trains from the not-trains? Trains have this wonderful habit of being in predictable places and mostly predictable times. So far, several people have mentioned how “friends,” “good people,” defensible people are also rapists. 2/3rds of rape victims report being raped by family, friends, intimate partners.

    If it was as easy as spotting a run away train, women would be able to easily dodge rapists. But when it is my friend? My lover? Someone I care about?

  179. we call it a “rape culture”, a term you are familiar with.

    From what I understand, that term implies more than a failure borne out of indifference and/or avoidance but tacit encouragement. I’m not convinced that’s accurate, for a host of reasons. But going into that would be off-topic… and when it comes to this particular case, I think we’re splitting hairs.

    This, however, is just a classic tautology – if things were different then things would be different – and really doesn’t contribute much.

    Well, I would think it obvious what particular sort of “difference” I was referring to.

  180. @Layla Lawlor,

    I’m of the generation that went through their teens in the ’90s, and “friends don’t let friends drive drunk” is definitely a slogan that stuck (much more so than “Just Say No”). Of course it’s not going to stop all people who drink from getting behind the wheel, but I grew up to a social group that made sure there were designated drivers and that one asshole in the social group who drove off plastered got shunned. It worked. Maybe more in some places than others, but it worked. If we can change from a society where drinking and driving is accepted as normal to one where it’s considered criminally irresponsible dangerous behavior that is not okay, we should be able to do that again.

    The first time I saw a drunk driving comparison when it came to rape, it was from someone blaming the victim, saying that getting drunk and being raped by someone was comparable to getting drunk and getting behind the wheel. It’s infuriating how often, when it comes to rape, the response boils down to calling the victim the perpetrator. Ye gods. I’m so sick of the onus of rape prevention being put on the victims and potential victims. Tips for preventing rape: Don’t rape people. “Don’t be that guy”.) Rape isn’t funny, and friends don’t let friends rape. We have plenty of educational information out there regarding legal blood alcohol limits, so sure. Let’s put information out there as to what consent is and what is not. And we need to stop blaming the victims, for heaven’s sake.

  181. You guys can argue all you want about who is to blame. I blame the rapist. However, as wrong as the rapist may be, this type of rape can be easily prevented if girls are taught that there are some very bad people out there – human predators – who do not care about their rights or their sense of body sacrosanct or any precious sense of entitlement to act however they please. And when it comes around to contemplating the risk an assault, two important things to remember are:

    1) No damage control is ever as good as prevention.
    2) By the time a situation gets to sexual assault, ALL of your options suck

  182. @andrewpeterson27

    I have no frame of reference to even begin to understand the mentality of having to survive in anything but an ideal world. I don’t view myself as spoiled, overly optimistic, yes, and I would go so far as to say generally empathetic. Cases like this are just too many standard deviations away from my norm to even be able to see this as a reality.

    One advantage of your participation in this thread, though, is learning how rape is defined by the law. Isn’t this a useful thing for you to know, so that you don’t commit it yourself? So you can be supportive and knowledgable if anyone in your life trusts you enough to share their story of having been raped? So that you can know that you should step in if you were to ever see it happening?

    This is a weird reality that exists concurrent with the one you live in. The two will merge more and more as you become more aware of the problems that other people face. Unpleasant in the short term, but worth it in the long term, I hope.

  183. Actually, Jim, if rapes could be prevented that way, there would never be any rapes ever.

    Because every woman in this culture grows up being told that her virtue is a valuable treasure she must safeguard by keeping her legs closed at all costs.

    And, shockingly, one out of every five of us internalize those lessons and end up getting assaulted anyway.

  184. @Jim

    Most women are raped by someone they know, and often someone they trust.

    The only way for them to prevent that is to never associate with anyone, ever.

  185. if girls are taught that there are some very bad people out there – human predators – who do not care about their rights or their sense of body sacrosanct or any precious sense of entitlement to act however they please

    Holy fucking hell, man. Do you even know any women, like, at all? Most women go through their entire lives knowing and feeling this. And even then they’re attacked by people with tremendous institutional power over them (like fathers or other relatives), or people that they’ve been told to trust, or people who just have too much physical and social power for them to fight against.

  186. @ lurker by nature: The first time I saw a drunk driving comparison when it came to rape, it was from someone blaming the victim, saying that getting drunk and being raped by someone was comparable to getting drunk and getting behind the wheel.

    WHAT. Oh my God. *screams*

    The rest of it – yes, EXACTLY. The drunk-driving education campaign managed to change the behavior and awareness of an entire generation, and they did it with relentless education and with simple, soundbite-sized messages. Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. Choose a designated driver. Call a cab. Pictures of mangled cars, hammering home the message that this could be you or one of your friends. And it worked – not equally well everywhere, but like you, my general experience has been that if I’m in a group of people where there is going to be drinking, there is an expectation that there will need to be a designated driver or (if it’s at someone’s home) that anyone too plastered to drive is going to sleep it off at the host’s house.

    … which demonstrates clearly that it’s absolute bullshit you can’t focus education outreach on potential perpetrators and their friends. How many teenagers know what behaviors constitute rape and sexual assault in their state, compared to how many have at least a general idea of what “drunk driving” is? How many have been taught simple, easy, safe things to do if they witness a sexual situation begin to escalate, compared to how many know “friends don’t let friends drive drunk” and “take their car keys”? And if not, then why the hell not?

  187. Annalee & Mythbri & Genufett,

    What I have shared with you is a way to help girls avoid rape – a solution if you will. I never said it was perfect or applied for all circumstances, but it applies to one hell of a lot of them. Nevertheless, you insist on finding exceptions to the advice and then counter by implying no solutions are possible. This is sad. This is hopeless. It makes me wonder how bad you really want a solution.

  188. @ Jim

    When was the last time you heard of someone actually getting hit by a runaway train? Years? Decades? Never?

    Do you know why that is? It’s *not* because people have been taught not to fight runaway trains. It’s because it’s a much rarer thing nowadays for trains to go runaway. And *that* happened because when there *were* runaway trains, instead of saying, “Duh, just get out of the way”, people said, “Why the hell are there runaway trains and what can we do to keep that from happening?”

    Also, what Annalee said.

  189. No damage control is ever as good as prevention.

    Dude, have you not been paying any attention at all to what women in this thread have been saying about “prevention”? Even STAYING IN THE GODSDAMNED HOUSE is not effective “prevention”. We can follow every single rule handed down from on high by people desperate to make victims share in the blame for their assaults, and STILL be raped.

    Your privilege is showing. You might want to see to that.

  190. @Canyon42, you are correct that my second paragraph was just a general remark. As to the first, remember that the conditions were “going to a party with male and female friends”. The victim believed these people were her friends and that she was safe around them.

    @andrewpeterson27, why do you believe that using a sexual violation to express dominance means the act is somehow not really sex?

    @Jim, to “easily” prevent this type of rape, you would have to teach young women not to trust their friends and never to drink alcohol around them. Is that what you meant?

  191. MRAL: A “good kid”, in my mind, would be someone who wants to do right. … Again, I have no idea if this describes Mays and Richmond. But as I’ve said, it conceivably could, even though they’re rapists. How can this be? That’s the question that needs to be acknowledged and addressed

    I’m pretty sure that question is actually almost entirely irrelevant, doesn’t need acknowledgement, and can be ignored.

    This concern of yours is…. weird. You’re more concerned with how they’re labeled than with what they actually did? Whether they are “good” kids or not, is an entirely subjective, and pretty much pointless, debate. But what they did is rape someone.

  192. @mythbri Agreed, information is never a bad thing. Hopefully it’s information that never has to be applied.

    I find the conversation surrounding the blame confusing. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone try and directly excuse the rape. The debate seems to be surrounding the actions of the female. I can’t state enough that no action deserves rape as the outcome. But I would be lying if I didn’t think there was some personal responsibility involved. Any individual who willingly puts themselves into a state of unconsciousness is at the mercy of those around them. I am not saying what was does was anything but horrid, what I am saying is that this individual had to be unconscious for this to happen. This type of statement seems to draw a lot of emotional replies, but it seems like common sense to me.

  193. @Tea: I think you’re being far to easy on the consequences of being drunk. When you inhibit your ability to being able to function physically and mentally, you are knowingly and willingly putting yourself at risk and making yourself far more vulnerable to bad things happening or being done to you. While that does not in any way excuse the behavior of those taking advantage of the situation, it also doesn’t mean the victim didn’t put themselves at greater risk. To be clear, putting oneself at greater risk does not constitute being at fault.

    So the young lady is guilty of getting drunk (assuming she wasn’t roofied, …) and making herself more vulnerable to bad things in general. That said, and as Scalzi said, “Nothing excuses rape”.

  194. “why are we talking about teaching young women “smart behavior” at all, instead of about teaching young men not to rape?”

    It’s not either/or. You can do both.

    I think it’s extremely dangerous and naive to argue that we should not teach our daughters–and our sons, for that matter–to be careful. We can, and should, teach our sons not to rape and rob and assault people. We can maybe even teach our sons’ (and daughters’) friends not to rape and rob and assault people.

    But sometime, somewhere, they’re going to run into someone who didn’t get the benefit of that kind of upbringing. Sometime, somewhere, our sons and daughters are going to run into some evil motherfuckers. And teaching them how to recognize and avoid evil motherfuckers and how to decrease the odds of being their next victim simply does not equate to “blaming them” if the worst happens.

    I mean, I was always taught not to get into cars with strangers. Were my folks wrong in doing that because what they should have been doing was teaching molesters not to molest?

  195. What I have shared with you is a way to help girls avoid rape – a solution if you will.

    Horseshit. What you have offered is yet another concern troll lecture about how the responsibility for stomping out rape belongs to the victims, not the rapists. When are we going to take the time to teach men not to rape?

  196. andrewpeterson: How do you know she “willingly put herself into a state of unconsciousness”? Were you there? My understanding is that it was her female friends who got her drunk. Should a woman never accept drinks from friends? Should a woman never accept drinks from FEMALE friends? Should a woman never, ever drink at all, never go to parties where there might be men (or women) present? Not even when the party is with people she believes are her friends?

  197. @Jim

    Nevertheless, you insist on finding exceptions to the advice and then counter by implying no solutions are possible. This is sad. This is hopeless. It makes me wonder how bad you really want a solution.

    Yup, that’s right. When my best friend in college was raped, I told her straight to her face that I would never do anything to help solve the problem of rape. That must be why I went with her to court. That must be why I held her hair as she was vomiting, two years later, after her rapist had gotten out of jail (he was only convicted of minor sexual assault) we saw him on the news, being arrested after using his position at a massage therapy school to molest several female clients. The proprietor of the school, when asked about the rapist’s previous conviction, said, “I didn’t think it was so serious.” That must be why I always call people out when they joke about rape, or threaten other people with rape. That must be why I donate money to victims’ advocates groups. That must be why I support campaigns like “Don’t be that guy.” That must be why I’ve made it clear to my younger sister and younger cousins, who are in college and thus more at risk for being raped that they can call me ANY TIME for ANY REASON, and I will do my best to help them.

    That sure is a lot of things I do, for not wanting a solution for the problem of rape.

  198. @ andrewpeterson27: “I can’t state enough that no action deserves rape as the outcome. But I would be lying if I didn’t think there was some personal responsibility involved.”

    Your second sentence here contradicts your first one.

    The victim *might* be personally responsible for being drunk, though there is some question about that. The victim has *zero* responsibility for having been raped. None whatsoever.

    Your opinion is common, but there’s no sense involved,

  199. @Cally this was an assumption on my part. You are correct though, my judgement would be completely different if this was a case of someone passing her something to drug her. Should a person be able to decline a drink and not get passed out drunk though?

  200. What I have shared with you is a way to help girls avoid rape – a solution if you will. I never said it was perfect or applied for all circumstances, but it applies to one hell of a lot of them. Nevertheless, you insist on finding exceptions to the advice and then counter by implying no solutions are possible. This is sad. This is hopeless. It makes me wonder how bad you really want a solution.

    What you have shared, as said dozens of times, are things that women hear every damned day of their lives. What you are not doing is listening to the fact that we do hear this over and over.

    And what you are calling “exceptions” the intimate partner rape, the rape from trusted sources like friends and family is roughly 2/3rds of the cases out there. Do you seriously think all of these women are becoming involved with people they recognize to be “runaway trains”? Women are raped by people that have gained their trust FIRST and THEN rape.

    Not a one of us is implying no solutions are possible. What we are saying, loud and clear, is that there is a solution: to bring men into the fight as people who need to learn. How is this not a solution.

    Finally, by suggesting that we don’t really want a solution, you are denigrating everyone who is arguing with you and further suggesting they are complicit in the problem. We want a solution. We have thought of one that has been proven to work. What you are doing is refusing to see it as a solution, but rather focusing on tired out tactics that have placed the onus of rape prevention on women. Tactics which have not worked and will not work. Time for something new.

  201. @andrewpeterson27 I believe the anger and frustration you’re reading on the thread is precisely because “the debate seems to be surrounding the actions of the female.” Which is exactly like, hmm, every other conversation about rape. Frankly, as a young woman who considers herself lucky to have never been sexually assaulted, but has at least a dozen friends (that I know of) who have been raped (while sober, while drunk, at night, during the day, by strangers, by acquaintances, by ex-boyfriends, by family members), it’s exhausting that this is always the debate. Guys, I am literally NEVER going forget that it is possible that I may get raped and that the world is a dangerous place.

    For me, it’s not that we can’t talk about safety practices for women (and yes, there are women who will make “less safe” choices for all sorts of reasons), it’s that not ENOUGH of the conversation focuses on the personal responsibility of rapists and their peer groups.

  202. @bearpaw If I have an ability to avoid a situation, and I don’t, isn’t some of the consequence a result of my behavior? The situation being getting passed out drunk. If this person drank one beer that night, would any of us be having this conversation?

  203. Mythri: just because you have taken chances (as you may see it), and gotten away with it, does not mean these were wise choices. You should — that word! — not have to worry about wandering around at two in the morning, drunk, in the middle of Detroit. “Should”. If you have, you were acting stupidly, and “should” — that word again! — not have. And you “should” know why you should not have. If you don’t know, I don’t know what I can do to communicate with you.

    You know, I have taken chances myself. Just because very few men would rape me, does not mean wandering around inner-city Baltimore at night was a good idea. I did it. It was not. I could have been assaulted, robbed, murdered. But I was too ignorant at the time to realize it. I certainly take responsibility for what I did, though, even though now I regard it as foolish. I do wish “society” had better warned me what I was wandering through, but that would not have been nice, so nobody did.

    Jubal, if you want to educate me about genetics, by all means, do. Preach, brother! Or, if you like it private, you can email me if you have the slightest ability to work the internet, and if you don’t: really?!. Meanwhile, I will presume myself more informed than you in regards to what matters for this thread, insofar as you don’t even criticize my argument in the slightest other than a blanket one-liner asserting my ignorance. Grasshopper, if you wish to fight, you must punch! Come on, hit me.

    cranapia: in spite of your impressive telepathic abilities, your guess is not what I meant by “women in harm’s way”. Bzzzt. Try again!

    Mythago: yes, to one of your mindset — boolean; either you are for or against “us” — I am “victim blaming”. Quite. But here’s the thing: some of us (not all (boolean); some) are against totalizing politics where if you take note of the slightest bad decision of a rape victim (! yes! victim!), you are are “blaming” her.

    And it makes us mad, when you attempt to make us side with rapists. We hate rapists. Do you want us siding with rapists? Most people are not very articulate, and cannot effectively fight you when you torture words in a boolean iron maiden. Or they simply lack the energy. They know you are wrong, of course. They just don’t tell you why. I can, at least, attempt it.

    “Blame” is about morality; it is about trying to assess a moral component to behavior. When you say men “should” not rape women, you are moralizing. (Say, wait: do you believe in God? In the transcendental? Then how can you believe in morals? Nevermind.) I think rapists are wrong and bad and such. (So hopefully we agree on this aspect of morality.) As such, rapists should face moral responsibility for their actions. That is, they are “guilty”, and rape victims are “innocent”. They should “hang”; the victim should be, oh, “supported”. As such, I reject “blaming” the victim, too. But that does not prevent me from being able to assess her responsibility for any of her actions that placed her in danger. Because, you know, I am a subtle thinker, able to think outside of black and white. I.e.: not boolean. If someone stupidly places herself in danger, then I feel entitled (OMIGOD!) to talk about it. Which takes away nothing from my zeal to see the perp permanently removed from the gene pool.

    As for whether women are “punished” in our “rape society”, for, i.e. moderating their drinking with strangers, or not taking the next elevator: yes, of course you are! The punishments (i.e.: not being able to drink with abandon; not being able to chat with strangers on dangerous streets; two minute waits for another elevator; being considered “a stuck up bitch” by some stranger), are unending! This is, as I am sure you would assert with some vehemence, very unfair. You are right. It is unfair. Quite unfair. Men don’t have those problems. Double standard! It may be that men and women are different, but even worse: that men are, in some sense, malevolent in a way that women just are not. Well. We have rediscovered the wisdom of the ancients. Perhaps we might agree that a fully civilized society would allow its women the freedom to chat with strangers, even in the middle of Baltimore’s worst slum. Or at least that a man might “wander about, on foot and alone, at any time of day or night, through the greatest of all cities and its suburbs, along the high roads, and along unfrequented country lanes, and never have so much as the thought of danger thrust upon him, unless he goes out of his way to court it.” We seem to have devolved a little on that.

    But in any case, my point is not to pontificate on what our society “should” be. It is some things, and it is not others. My point is to talk about what is: and in our society, a “rape culture” as y’all would have it (a “rape species”, as I would suggest), women are not completely 100% safe in all places and times, even more so than men. Your program seems to be wishing that criminals would stop being so law-breaky. We’ll tell them being mean is wrong! Hmm — maybe they know? Mine is more about finding effective ways to return to the lawfulness of that England of 1874. More rope, less talk.

  204. How many have been taught simple, easy, safe things to do if they witness a sexual situation begin to escalate, compared to how many know “friends don’t let friends drive drunk” and “take their car keys”? And if not, then why the hell not?

    Because women and their reproductive parts are property. Gratification of male power and sexual issues is what they are for. You might think “But Jerome, it is the Year of Our Lord 2013, not 1113! That is preposterous!” But it’s not. Witness the furor over simple legislation allowing civil law suits for rape cases, proposals mandating invasive medical procedures if a woman dares to take care of her own reproductive system in a non-approved manner, or dares have sexy-time outside the bounds of the approved social structures. She needs to suffer the punishment for using her vagina in a manner inappropriate to those who actually claim to own it.

    Make no mistake, when we finally slide back into the feudal state from whence we came, women will go back to being traded for cattle and land. Teaching boys that you do not belong to them is anathema to far to many people, which is why the hell it *isn’t* taught.

  205. @andrewpeterson27

    I find the conversation surrounding the blame confusing.

    That’s okay. A lot of the people who have never had to think about it before find it confusing or hard to understand.

    I don’t think I’ve seen anyone try and directly excuse the rape.

    Then I have to conclude that you have not been paying attention, as the boys’ football coach certainly did. Did you not know that the victim of the Stuebenville case is receiving threats of rape and death? And that her family is also being targeted? What do you think her life at school is going to be like? I wouldn’t be surprised if they have to move after this.

    I won’t link to the examples of the vile responses to the judge’s verdict, but you can find some of them compiled at Raw Story.

    The debate seems to be surrounding the actions of the female.

    Not all victims of rape are female, though admittedly women are more likely to be raped than men.

    I can’t state enough that no action deserves rape as the outcome.

    Good.

    But I would be lying if I didn’t think there was some personal responsibility involved. Any individual who willingly puts themselves into a state of unconsciousness is at the mercy of those around them.

    We don’t know that the victim in this case was willingly incapacitated. We don’t have all of the details. You’re right that people who are unconscious are at the mercy of those around them. Think back to your years in high school – would you have assumed that any of your friends would sexually assault you if you passed out? If not, why do you think this was a reasonable assumption for the victim to make in this case?

    I am not saying what was does was anything but horrid, what I am saying is that this individual had to be unconscious for this to happen.

    Not necessarily. Plenty of women are raped while fully conscious.

    This type of statement seems to draw a lot of emotional replies, but it seems like common sense to me.

    Do you deny that rape is an emotional subject? And just because someone responds to you in an emotional way does not mean that their response is not well-reasoned or true. Emotion does not invalidate responses that you don’t agree with.

    What you call “common sense” is already widely-applied by most women. Women are human beings, though. Is it your contention that women bear some responsibility for not being constantly on guard against rape? If you had a party and none of your women friends would accept a drink from you, would you be offended that they were assuming that you would drug them and rape them? Would you be offended that they weren’t trusting you? Rape is not an acceptable consequence for common mistakes.

  206. @JD Rhoades: As the victim was raped by her friends, and not because she got into a car with a stranger, I’m not sure what point you were making. And, as the Something Positive cartoon recently noted, nobody sobs about the ruined futures or ‘mistakes’ made by child- killers.

    Though, perhaps inadvertently, you raise an excellent point about bad advice. We now know that ‘stranger danger’ lectures are ineffective. Very few people who are a threat to children are strangers with cars; if all you teach your kids is to watch out for is those people, you fail to teach them about the far more prevalent dangers. That is, the predators who are not strangers, and therefore have your child’s trust already.

    Most rapists are not strangers luring drunk young women into cars. Just as in Steubenville, they are acquaintances and “friends”. And they are enabled by other people who think it isn’t rape if she drank too much or if you did it at a party.

    @Mishigas, I think it’s bitterly hilarious that people keep saying “but of course not if she was roofied”. If you’re going to blame her, why hold back? She shouldn’t have had alcohol in the first place; if she’d stuck to tap water she’d have been perfectly safe. She should have stuck to closed bottles (like beer) that she opened herself instead of mixed drinks. Etcetera. There is no bottom.

  207. andrewpeterson: We might still be having this conversation, yes. She might have had one beer, gotten tired (perhaps she hadn’t had enough sleep the night before), gone to sleep, and had this happen. Or is falling asleep at a party also a morally repugnant thing for her to have done?

  208. @andrewpeterson27 It saddens me how hard you are missing the point right now. Maybe you meant to type: “If these people hadn’t decided to assault an unconscious person, would any of us be having this conversation?” but you totally lost control of your fingers? That’s one of the more charitable explanations I can think of.

  209. andrewpeterson27: As someone upthread said, everyone should have the expectation that an unconscious woman will be left unmolested. It does not matter whether the victim drank one or more than one beer; it was not her act of drinking anything that led to the rapists committing their crime. She didn’t have to be unconscious for a crime to be committed; it simply made it clear to everyone that she did not consent to any of their behaviors. Look, people get drunk for many reasons. It’s quite likely that she was drugged, based on the testimony of the other kids involved. In any case, she still had the innate human right to not be raped. Her rape was not her fault, it was solely the fault of the convicted criminals.

  210. @ J. D. Rhodes:

    It’s very … *interesting* … how often some folks think they’re so gosh-darned insightful when they respond to good suggestions about teaching people to *not* *rape* by going “Yeah, but …” and repeating the same goddamn condescending “lessons” that women spend their whole damned lives hearing.

    It’s not insightful. Nor is it brave, nor calmly rational, nor helpful, nor caring.

    It’s stupid and insulting.

  211. Jerome: Yeah, it was basically a rhetorical question. Actually, the fact that there are multiple people in this thread arguing that the victim should have known better, on a post condemning victim-blaming, is a pretty blatant example of “why not”.

  212. Leonard: “As for whether women are “punished” in our “rape society”, for, i.e. moderating their drinking with strangers, or not taking the next elevator: yes, of course you are!”

    She wasn’t drinking with “strangers”. She was drinking with friends. Mostly, as I understand it, with her FEMALE friends. And yet in this very thread she’s been blamed repeatedly for her own rape. I like the way you bring “strangers” into it, because obviously “friends” can’t ever rape or be party to rape. Following all the stranger danger rules doesn’t help when it’s not a stranger. And, you know, it’s usually not.

  213. Jim, you’re not offering a solution. You’re offering condescension. And blame.

    Because you’re focussing your “solution” on the VICTIM, not the perpetrator. Who has the responsibility in this situation? One who is raped? Or the rapist?

  214. As the victim was raped by her friends

    This is a definition of “friend” with which I am not familiar.

    And, as the Something Positive cartoon recently noted, nobody sobs about the ruined futures or ‘mistakes’ made by child- killers.

    I’m not either. Nor am I sobbing about the ‘ruined futures’ of the rapists.

    if all you teach your kids is to watch out for is those people, you fail to teach them about the far more prevalent dangers.

    I’m not saying that’s all you should teach them.

    Again, it’s not either/or. To teach your children one thing does not mean you teach them only that to the exclusion of all other things.

  215. @Cally I don’t think rape is something you could sleep though.

    @MJeanB I understand that the rapists did the raping. What I am saying is that would there have been anything to rape if the girl had controlled her drinking. If a rapist doesn’t have a target they can’t do much….. and before anyone goes into ‘still shouldn’t rape’ reply…. I get that. What I don’t understand is why it is so hard to say that a person shouldn’t put 100% of their trust into a group of drunk people.

    @mythbri thank you for the details. I have not been following the case at all (other than this thread)

  216. Jerome: Yeah, it was basically a rhetorical question. Actually, the fact that there are multiple people in this thread arguing that the victim should have known better, on a post condemning victim-blaming, is a pretty blatant example of “why not”.

    What I find most horrifying is that there are *women* defending this. Talk about Stockholm syndrome.

  217. @andrewpeterson27 Sorry I responded before I saw your response to my previous comment. So now it looks like I’m harping on the point. But as someone said above, just agreeing “yeah, rapists are evil” totally glosses over the environment allowed these perpetrators to continue with many witnesses who were unwilling or felt unable to stop them.

    @Ginger Yes, precisely.

    @Layla Lawlor Exactly. Thank you.

  218. What I am saying is that would there have been anything to rape if the girl had controlled her drinking.

    Why should she? Why should any woman forgo her right to decide to get blotto assed drunk and pass out somewhere.

    What everyone else is telling you is that there wouldn’t have been anything to rape if a couple of degenerate rapists had controlled their degenerate impulses. She shouldn’t have had to control a damn thing.

  219. To those people talking about how we should educate women to recognize the human predators and evil motherfuckers who lie in wait to rape them, can you please point out what about the two boys convicted would have been the warning sign for this girl? The whole mess of CNN’s reporting stemmed from these two being stars of the football team, with good grades in school. If one of them had picked her up and introduced himself to her parents as her boyfriend, they’d have thought she was lucky to have found such a nice kid.

    They became human predators and evil motherfuckers when they decided to remove her panties and violate her while she was unconscious. Saying she should have expected it over saying they should have known their behavior was disgusting is drifting a little too close to saying it’s her fault she was raped.

  220. @Jerome So you are saying it is the right of everyone to completely trust everyone. There are bad people in the world. If you put yourself in situations where you are 100% at the mercy of people, there will be bad things that happen some of the time.

  221. @andrewpeterson27

    I don’t think that whether or not the victim was drugged should change your perception. She is just as raped either way, and the guys who raped her are just as guilty.

  222. @ andrewpeterson27:

    The consequence of her behavior — *if* that was her behavior — is that she was drunk.

    The rape was the consequence of the rapists’ behavior. If the rapists hadn’t raped her, she wouldn’t have been raped. If they hadn’t raped her, they wouldn’t have been tried and convicted for raping her. If they hadn’t raped her, they wouldn’t have rape on their criminal records. If they hadn’t raped her, we wouldn’t be talking about the fact that they raped her.

    They. Raped. Her.

  223. @andrewpeterson27: ” What I don’t understand is why it is so hard to say that a person shouldn’t put 100% of their trust into a group of drunk people.”

    Do you think that there exists some selection of people that are so completely naive that they have a 5 year old’s Smokey the Bear understanding of rape? It is the height of condescension to think that women need an explanation of the dangers of the real world.

    So, the people who do think regularly about this issue push back on that sort of contribution because if you really start to look around at the conversations regarding rape in our culture you’ll see that they’re all very much about what women should be doing to prevent rape.

    And, the longer you read the more you’ll notice that each of the “serious bits of real world advice to girls” tends to reflect the values of that particular individual man. And that there are conflicting opinions. One beer is morally depraved to some. So, she can’t get it right. Ever. Because there’s always ten guys to ready to give ten differing opinions about what “her mistake” was. But the one thing they all agree on: totally appropriate to monday morning quarterback a specific woman’s rape. Not just appropriate, but necessary.

  224. Let’s look at the definition of two things:

    *To have sex: To engage in sexual intercourse
    *To rape: plunder, violent seizure, or abuse; despoliation; violation

    Now let’s look at another definition:
    * Engage: To occupy the attention or efforts of a person or persons

    Let’s summarize:
    Should you be occupying the attention of a person that does not have the same intention of engagement or if that person is not able to engage in your attention, you are MOST likely to be committing Rape.
    {I hesitate to say, “Sexual intention” because rape is not about sex. Rape is about control, using violence and/or abuse of trust.}
    I would also like to point to the following link, as a way to provide people with a template of “How to Teach People Not to Rape”

    thttp://www.askmoxie.org/2013/03/a-letter-to-my-sons-about-stopping-rape.html

  225. @andrewpeterson27

    This will be my last response to you, because I’ve been responding to you a lot and I don’t want you to think I’m hounding you. I do think this is a conversation worth having, however.

    Earlier in the thread, you said this:

    I have no frame of reference to even begin to understand the mentality of having to survive in anything but an ideal world.

    Why aren’t you allowing the victim in this case the same ignorance you’re claiming for yourself? How do you know that she wasn’t in the same boat as you, not having the mentality to survive in anything less than an ideal world? What makes her so much more culpable than you?

    Think back to when you were in high school. Were you responsible for making sure you were never in a position to be raped? If you had been raped, would you have been responsible?

    What makes you and she so different?

  226. @JD Rhoades, the young woman believed she was among friends; that’s why she was at the party drinking with them. She still thought they were her friends until she found out what they has done (and as you may have read, one of them tried to pretend afterwards that he had actually been a friend).

    Nobody is saying “don’t teach safety,” and I know I’m not the only one finding that false dichotomy tiresome. What people ARE saying is that trying to find ways the victim should have acted differently and trying to attribute that behavior to ‘it wouldn’t have happened if…..’ is not actually thoughtful, effective rape prevention. It is victim-blaming. And people keep focusing on what she did as if, in fact, that is all we should teach them.

    It is as if we tried to stop drunk driving by focusing exclusively on warning people how to avoid drunk drivers – “stay off the road on Saturday nights” and “never get in a car where the driver is drunk” – but treated drunk driving itself as just a thing that happens. And whenever anyone asked why we don’t focus more on teaching people not to drive drunk, the response was, Hey, why the either/or thinking, this isn’t a perfect world where everybody drives sober, you have to take responsibility for your safety by staying off the road on New Year’s Eve, if you get hit by a drink driver maybe you should have been on a different road.

  227. No, andrewpeterson27, it should not change your perception of her. Look, earlier in this very thread, a poster pointed out a very similar experience with a drunken, passed-out woman of their acquaintance, who was simply brought to a safe couch, provided with a bucket, and monitored to ensure that she slept it off. No one expected to take advantage of her, and that is the difference between “normal” and “rape culture”. You are not quite seeing how the expectations of rape are coloring your view of this case. Let’s look at it from another perspective: when is it appropriate to stick one’s fingers into an unconscious person? How about this: if the passed-out victim had been male, and those same perpetrators had penetrated him with their fingers, taking pictures and laughing about how raped he was, would that change your mind?

    It does not matter that she was not conscious. What if she had passed out because she was in a diabetic coma, and was violated while dying of blow blood sugar? Does that change your perception? There are so many reasons to be unconscious, and none of them — not one single one of them — gives anyone a legal right to perpetrate a rape upon that person. The people responsible for this crime are the rapists, not the victim.

  228. I am a hundred and ten percent sure that every single last one of the people here whinging about the victim’s drinking has never, ever, ever, ever, once in their entire lives ever gotten drunk, either deliberately or by misjudging exactly how much they were drinking versus how quickly they were metabolizing it. And that if they ever did do such a thing, they would all be quite thrilled and thankful if a trusted friend had quietly taken them aside and beaten them with a baseball bat until they required hospitalization. RIGHT?

  229. @bearpaw I’m not saying that the rapists didn’t rape her. 100% of the rape was done by the raping rapers. If she wasn’t there, what is the likelihood that she would have been raped? Ok, scale that back, what is the likelihood that she would have been raped if she was there and had nothing to drink. Ok, scale that back, what is the likelihood that she would have been raped after 20 beers. This is a sliding scale. She had a choice at each of those locations. Each choice she made led to a greater possibility of rape.

  230. I remember the first time I traveled abroad, my reaction to what was on television, even early in the evening – those hallowed hours here where we protect our little ones from egregious things. Nudity. Sexually suggestive (usually playfully) ads, double entendres. It seemed odd. Then I realized what I wasn’t seeing. Graphic violence. It made me wonder. We in the US live in a society (and I don’t want to call it a rape culture, though I certainly see the reasoning behind the term) that is so incredibly repressed about sex that it can’t even allow for the teaching of the biology of sex in schools. So repressed about it that it enforces gag rules on foreign aid, denying support to clinics that mention the word abortion or counsel birth control. So repressed about sex that we have elected officials using terms like ‘legitimate rape’ and talking about the non-existent biological reactions of the victims of rape. So repressed that we are more comfortable giving a kid a gun than a condom. Women are vilified for having premarital sex AND for not having premarital sex. We rag on women for dressing ‘too provocatively’ while upscale department stores sell clothes for little girls – pre-teen and younger – that make them look like streetwalkers, while one of the highest rated reality shows has six year old girls tarted up to win ‘beauty pageants’ that have very little to do with beauty. Did these boys know what they did was wrong? I would imagine they did, at some level. But I would be willing to bet that that message was watered down, mumbled by an embarrassed parent, dressed up in a lot of euphemisms and double speak. Because we can’t talk about sex. Not to our kids. Not even to each other.

  231. Yes, indeed, these lads are going to have a few bad years.
    Line 2) I feel so sorry for them.
    (I’ve recently been ‘sworn’ at for being to literal. So? Line 2 is sarcasm.)

    As I understand the girl has stated that she does not remember anything.
    [not redacted because I don’t want to type what I misrecall about how
    different drugs effect memory]
    Typed because people are always totally honest: We have no idea about
    if she almost remembers snippets of the event, and chooses to say that
    she doesn’t.

    I will not read the comments here because I have a pain threshold.
    I will bookmark this page and go all ctrl f on a6bleahd take out the bleah
    if you want (hah!) me to see it

  232. So you are saying it is the right of everyone to completely trust everyone. There are bad people in the world. If you put yourself in situations where you are 100% at the mercy of people, there will be bad things that happen some of the time.

    It is the right of people to not be raped, fondled, molested, or touched without their consent 100% of the time, regardless of their condition. 100% of the responsibility to not rape, not fondle, not molest, and not touch lies with those who do it.

    “Bad people in the world” for some reason think that it is OK to do this because she’s drunk, or passed out. They generally think that because they have equally immoral and subhuman enablers that tell them it isn’t entirely their fault, and that she was asking for it, and that if she hadn’t have been drunk, etc..

    I’m sure you know someone just like that.

  233. @andrewpeterson27: At the risk of echoing an earlier comment by Mythago, an awful lot of people believe that it’s also women’s responsibility to avoid being drugged in order to prevent ourselves from being raped. I can’t even remember when I started hearing things like “take your drink with you EVERYWHERE including the washroom”, “only drink from bottles you open yourself”, and even “if you take your eyes off your drink for even a moment you’re better off abandoning it”.

    It’s pretty friggin’ hard not to absorb the implicit message that if you DID order a whiskey sour or you DID leave your drink with your girlfriends while you went to pee and something was slipped in your drink, YOU are responsible for whatever is done to you.

  234. I’m not saying that anyone should ever rape anyone… ever. What I am saying is that if you get passed out drunk in front of someone you are entering a state where you are completely trusting them. You are setting yourself up for something bad to happen. Ideally, that something bad never happens. But if you don’t get passed out drunk, you won’t have to find out.

  235. Nobody is saying “don’t teach safety,”

    Actually, that is EXACTLY what people are saying–that talking about teaching safety in this type of discussion is the same as blaming the rape victim. You’re doing it yourself.

  236. “To those people talking about how we should educate women to recognize the human predators and evil motherfuckers who lie in wait to rape them, can you please point out what about the two boys convicted would have been the warning sign for this girl?”

    Good Question! Yeah…let’s start with an extreme sense of Narcissism – a sense of entitlement. Add to this a lack of empathy towards one’s fellow man/woman. As a kid, I saw it play out in bonehead jock cultures, in fraternities and other places and it always brought big-freaking trouble. When it started materializing, even most of the tough guys left the scene because even they knew that things could get so ugly that even the strong but innocent could be hurt.

  237. andrewpeterson27:

    She never made a choice to be raped.

    The rapists made a choice to rape her.

  238. @tariqata I would have to disagree. I don’t think it’s anyones responsibility to make sure they are not drugged. For me, that’s the line. What you do to yourself (drinking) is your responsibility, what others do to you (drugging) is theirs.

  239. andrewpeterson27: It is also not her responsibility to be raped. It does not matter how conscious or not she was, it was their decision to commit a crime, not hers to become a victim. By blaming alcohol for being her fault, you are implicitly blaming the victim for the crime rather than the criminal.

  240. @bearpaw no she didn’t make a choice to be raped. She chose to trust all those around her not to rape / murder / kill / whatever her. In this situation, that was a bad decision on her part. (standard disclaimer, the rapists are evil and shouldn’t rape)

  241. Right. So getting drunk and probably having a hangover in the morning? 100% her responsibility, assuming her girlfriends or other people weren’t spiking her drinks. Getting raped? 100% the rapists’ responsibility.

  242. What I don’t get is why it is so important to blame her, even if it IS in any way partly her fault (which I don’t think it is). What terrible, terrible thing happens if you don’t blame her?

  243. andrewpeterson: Have you ever had a glass, cup, can, or bottle of alcohol? Have you ever gotten drunk? Have you ever gotten so drunk you passed out?

  244. Is it someones responsibility to watch out for themselves? That’s what this seems to all be boiling down to. I think yes, an individual does have some responsibility for protecting themselves. No that does not mean that if they fail to do so it’s a rapefest. Those who tried that are getting rightfully punished. Why can’t you have personal responsibility in avoiding these situations, and punish those who violate that law? I thought this thread was about to agree on that earlier.

  245. What I don’t get is why it is so important to blame her, even if it IS in any way partly her fault (which I don’t think it is). What terrible, terrible thing happens if you don’t blame her?

    It is a tacit admission that you are not property, and are in fact the 100% owner of the title to your vagina. It would require men to take 100% responsibility for their actions, and deny them the ability to blame the devil, who obviously made them do it.

    No blaming her requires that people who preach “personal responsibility” actually practice it.

  246. Actually, that is EXACTLY what people are saying–that talking about teaching safety in this type of discussion is the same as blaming the rape victim. You’re doing it yourself.

    No, J.D. Rhoades, what a lot of people – including our host – are saying is that nobody is responsible for policing their own dress/actions/movements to fend off imaginary Rape Bears and the only people responsible for RAPE are RAPISTS. And there’s more than a few women and rape victims around here who are really sick of being man-splained about what a horrible and dangerous experience it can be when you’re in the sights of a sexual predator. Seriously, you’re in a hole. Stop digging.

  247. @JD Rhoades, as has been pointed out over and over again, trying to find what the the victim “did wrong” is not safety education; it is indeed victim-blaming. And questioning why the focus is on the victim’s choices, never the rapist’s, is not, as you would have it, a refusal to discuss safety. The false dichotomy is the pretense that we must dissect the victim’s actions to find error first and foremost, otherwise Don’t You Care About Safety.

    It is, again, as if somebody questioned why an anti-drunk-driving program were focused exclusively on tips like “call 911 to report drunk drivers” and “stay out of Wisconsin”, but never addressed “don’t drive drunk” or “buzzed driving is drunk driving”. Is a critic of such a program unfairly ignoring sober drivers’ safety? I mean, surely we want people to call and report drunk drivers, yes?

    I’m also curious what safety lessons we are supposed to take from Steubenville. Never get drunk? Don’t trust men, even if you think they are good guys they could be rapey? Never drink anything out of a cup?

  248. @andrewpeterson27

    I’m breaking my promise.

    Why can’t you have personal responsibility in avoiding these situations

    Most women are raped by people they know, and often by people they trust. The only way to take responsibility to “avoid these situations” is to assume that every man you know is likely to rape you if you let your guard down.

    Do you want the women you know to treat you that way?

  249. @Cally I did have the experience of getting so drunk once that I passed out. I did so with friends with the intent of understanding my limits (yes I really am that boring) And yes, I do trust my life to these friends. I would not put myself in an unconscious state in a situation with unknowns.

  250. Nobody is saying “don’t teach safety,”

    Actually, that is EXACTLY what people are saying

    No, JD, if you would actually read what’s being written here, you’d realize that what’s being said is that we already do this. And that “teaching safety tips” does fuck all to address the actual cause of rape. That being, men who think they can rape women.

    Jim, sooooooooooo we need to treat all teenage boys who are narcissistic, and with a sense of entitlement, as rapist-in-waiting. Good plan. As a high school teacher, let me think what percentage of boys in my class that would cover. Hmmmm,… let’s see… carry the two…. ok, got it. Looks like the answer is “all of them”. Right, let’s get on that, shall we?

  251. Whether they are “good” kids or not, is an entirely subjective

    No, actually, it isn’t, because I’m referring to “good” as defined by the community of Steubenville, Ohio (and society as a whole). I mean, if I were referring to “good” as an general concept, then sure, you can say that’s subjective. But I’m not.

    The rest of your post follows from this misunderstanding and is thus faulty. However, for clarity’s sake:

    You’re more concerned with how they’re labeled than with what they actually did?

    No, I’m concerned with the fact that they could genuinely be “good”, in the sense that we teach kids to be “good”, and still have done what they did.

  252. andrew: do you really want all of us to think that all men are rapists, never to be trusted — ever? Because that is the implication of your refusal to understand what we are all saying here. It does not matter who she got drunk with. Blaming her rape on her being drunk means that no one around her could be trusted to see that she could safely sleep it off. You are also assuming that you could trust your friends; she assumed the same thing — only to find out that her friends had betrayed her trust. Do you understand now?

  253. @mythbri I have no answer there. There is no excuse for rape. However, and perhaps here’s where I’m wrong, *I think* there are situations you are more likely to be raped. I would think that being unconscious would be one of the factors that would increase that likelihood. I would like to think that not doing something that makes you unconscious is a fair trade off for avoiding any situation that might lead you getting raped. No you shouldn’t have to do any of this, it’s a trade off. I don’t walk through downtown Detroit at night because there is a greater likelihood that bad things happen.

  254. Every time someone proposes a partial solution to the problem, I see it getting attacked. OK…so let’s here what YOU propose as a solution!

  255. andrewpeterson: “I did have the experience of getting so drunk once that I passed out. I did so with friends with the intent of understanding my limits (yes I really am that boring) And yes, I do trust my life to these friends. I would not put myself in an unconscious state in a situation with unknowns.”

    Right. And she got drunk with HER friends, whom she trusted. She was wrong, but you know what? People are sometimes wrong about their friends. You could have been wrong about yours, and then where would you have been?

  256. @ginger no, but I would not want all women to put themselves in a completely vulnerable position in unknown situations. “Blaming her rape on her being drunk means that no one around her could be trusted” I think that’s exactly the case. She was in a bad situation with no one she could really trust. If there was one friend there at her side, none of this would have happened.

  257. “I don’t walk through downtown Detroit at night because there is a greater likelihood that bad things happen.”

    You DID get drunk and pass out among your friends, though. You know, like she did. And wasn’t there “a greater likelihood that bad things [could] happen” when you chose to do that? Why do you blame her for making the same choice you did? Is it guilt that you were lucky in your friends, and she wasn’t?

  258. so let’s here what YOU propose as a solution!

    TEACH MEN NOT TO RAPE. TEACH MEN THAT RAPE IS WRONG. TEACH MEN THAT ANYTHING LESS THAN ENTHUSIASTIC CONSENT IS A NO. TEACH MEN TO TAKE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR DECISION TO RAPE.

    Jesus Headspinning Christ, dude. How many more times does this need to be said?

  259. @ HelenS

    Yeah, seriously. What other crime is there where people put so *much* effort into trying to figure out what the victim should have done differently? Perhaps there are more, but at the moment I can only think of one other crime treated that way — domestic violence. One might think there was a connection …

    (Actually, I can think of some other crimes like that, too. And so far the commonality is that the criminal belongs to a group that has relative privilege with respect to the group that the victim belongs to.)

  260. @Missy: YES, FOR GOD’S SAKE. This has been said so many times, in so many ways, and every time it’s ignored, laughed at, or shouted down, or simply deflected: “No, that’ll never work. Let’s talk about what rape victims should do instead.”

  261. @Cally, you are right, at that point in time in my life, my friends could have killed me and left my body in the woods. Why would I want to return to that vulnerable state around anyone I wasn’t 100% sure about? The tone here is that it’s my right to be passed out drunk and not admit some responsibility if something bad happens to me. Nothing *should* happen to me, but it’s not a perfect world. There are bad people, you should never put yourself in that situation.

  262. @Jim

    Gee Whiz…men knew that 50 years ago. They know it now. So?

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA HA HAHA HA HA…..heh. It’s cute that you think this is true.

    So men are either uncontrollable animals or they’re just plain evil, is that what you’re saying?

  263. @Jim: andrewpeterson27 actually says earlier in the comment stream that he doesn’t know what the legal definition of rape is. So no, they don’t. They don’t in THIS ACTUAL CONVERSATION.

  264. @andrewpeterson27 I get that you are very, very focused on this specific detail of this specific rape survivor’s story. In performing the post-mortem on this horrific incident, you are trying to point out what she did to put herself at risk so that others might learn from her tragedy.

    What you are doing, though, is embodying a very significant discourse in rape culture. You are asking for a perfect victim. The implicit lesson of this IS that victims who behave anything less than “perfectly” are somehow share responsibility for what happened to them. This is why women are often afraid to report rape. This is why only 3% of rapists ever spend a day in jail. I know you are not doing it on purpose. You believe rape is terrible. You would never rape someone. You know that rapists are 100% responsible for what they do. However, by judging again and again this detail of the woman’s story (and juxtaposing it with the ways you yourself display better judgment re: safety), I believe you are blinding yourself to the broader picture.

    And re: “If there was one friend there at her side, none of this would have happened,” we are at least in agreement. I too want to live in a world where we can trust our friends to help keep us safe.

  265. “BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA HA HAHA HA HA…..heh. It’s cute that you think this is true.

    So men are either uncontrollable animals or they’re just plain evil, is that what you’re saying?”

    This is starting to sound like Misandry. Please tell me I’m mistaken.

  266. “There are bad people, you should never put yourself in that situation.”

    And yet you did. And she did. Why is it so reprehensible that she did the exact same thing you did? Double standard much? Oh, I see. It’s because she wasn’t a mind-reader, and didn’t know that a couple of guys she thought were her friends were actually rapists. How foolish of her to assume that any man, anywhere, wasn’t a rapist. Why, if she ever sees you coming, she should run and hide. Because you’re a man; you might be a rapist, too!

    Isn’t that what you want? That women should never, ever trust that you, andrew, won’t rape them?

  267. I’ve seen a number of people describe this situation as a dominance play and I don’t really buy it. I mean, it certainly is a demonstration of power, but to me “dominance” is about trying to overcome the spirit and will of the other person. The will of the other person is not in play when the other person is not conscious.

    When I picture the situation described in the news articles, the main thing that comes to mind is the dehumanization of the victim. She was carried unconscious from party to party and treated like a sex toy, not like a person. This reminds me of how we as a nation have historically dehumanized our enemies when at war. I think our culture does the same thing in the minds of children by perpetuating the “War between the sexes.”

    Women are not some territory, some property to be claimed, conquered and plowed, but they are depicted as so in our culture. Treated as toys and accessories, not people.

    We need to teach our children that all of them –all of us– are people, and always deserve to be treated like so, even when they are not conscious to witness or challenge our treatment of them.

  268. @Jim

    It depends. Why do you hate men?

    If men already know not to rape, and what rape is, then why does it keep happening?

    Either it happens against their will, which means that it’s beyond their control, or they choose to do it anyway, and NO ONE ELSE has any control over their actions.

  269. Jim, JD, are you two honestly under the impression that “talking about prevention” in terms of “women should know not to put themselves at risk” is some sort of radical new approach to dealing with sexual assault that no one not as smart as you had ever thought of, ever? Is that really what you think? It must be, because everyone here telling you that all that falls under the category of “stuff we already” has not found a suitable opening in your skull.

  270. “@Jim: andrewpeterson27 actually says earlier in the comment stream that he doesn’t know what the legal definition of rape is. So no, they don’t. They don’t in THIS ACTUAL CONVERSATION.”

    But…wrong is wrong. And men have known for at least 50 years – and a lot longer – that sexually assaulting a drunk girl is wrong. Men have known it is not something a man should either do or brag about.

  271. This has been said so many times, in so many ways, and every time it’s ignored, laughed at, or shouted down, or simply deflected: “No, that’ll never work. Let’s talk about what rape victims should do instead.”

    Yes, and I am fed the fuck up with all the mealy-mouthed “but…but…but…personal responsibility!” I am fed the fuck up of the notion that women bear responsibility, because no matter what we do to “prevent” rape, it’s never going to be enough if we are raped anyway. I mean, I was raped in my own room, in my own home, by a friend of my parents’, and it was STILL characterized as MY FAULT. I mean, what the fuck else are we supposed to do? We are already expected to curtail our lives to an extent that men are not, then we get these assholes mansplaining at us about “safety”, “prevention”, and “personal responsibility”.

    So, if men have known for 50 years that rape is wrong, WHY THE FUCK ARE THEY STILL RAPING AND WHY ARE PEOPLE STILL BLAMING THE VICTIMS?

    Jesus fuck a duck, this whole topic makes me INCANDESCENT, because every single person talking about the victim’s responsibility is a tone deaf asshole denying the lived experiences of others, and, well, fuck that.

  272. @andrewpeterson27 — you might as well claim that if the rapists had been sober there would not have been rape. (I am, of course, presuming that the rapists were also intoxicated; maybe they were sober.) The drug(s) (alcohol is a drug) are not the cause of the rape, in any of the persons involved.

  273. @ Jim

    Actually, lots of men didn’t know that 50 years ago, and obviously lots of men don’t know that now. And many more know it’s wrong, but gee, that wasn’t *really* rape, she was “asking for it”. Because she drinks. Or likes to go to parties. Or dresses sexy. Or doesn’t say no. Or doesn’t say no loudly enough. Or doesn’t fight it. Or doesn’t fight it hard enough. Or or or or ….

  274. @MJeanB I think the term “perfect victim” describes exactly what I’m thinking. No one is perfect. I see this conversation as trying to brush over the things the victim did wrong and jump to the dominant bad thing the rapists did. I was trying to add balance to the conversation. I can see how that personal mentality would lead to the “I was asking for it” delusion. But isn’t that the individual excusing the big bad for their personal little bad? I suppose the data doesn’t lie. Something is causing that behavior….

  275. andrepeterson27: You are still blaming the victim for “being vulnerable”. It does not matter that she was not conscious; she was a target of those rapists who decided to attack her. The rapists chose to attack her, not because she was unconscious but because they wanted to humiliate her. They chose to attack her in public, with lots of other kids around, none of whom said “that’s not right”. They didn’t have to be her friends to know that the rapists’ behavior was wrong. The rape was carried out in full sight of awake teens, not behind closed doors. She did not commit any crime, yet you continue to blame her. The only people to blame are the boys who committed the rape.

  276. Jim:

    As a geek, I think a good start would be if SF/Fantasy fandom stopped supporting high profile shows like Game of Thrones, True Blood and American Horror Story that not only normalize rape, heavily sexualized rape threats and constant abuse/harassment of women but dish it up as entertainment and LET THE PRODUCERS AND BROADCASTERS KNOW WHY.

  277. @htom I would like to think that sober individual are less likely to rape someone. Yes. The only cause of rape is people. I would guess that people that are drunk / high are more like to rape someone though.

  278. @andrewpeterson27

    I was trying to add balance to the conversation.

    For the love of Zod, why? This is NOT a balanced situation. You’re falling into the trap of thinking there’s some kind of Golden Mean, where responsibility is placed on both parties.

    This is not the case, and it is not helpful. If you acknowledge that no one is perfect, then why are you still continuing this line?

  279. @ andrewpeterson27: “I see this conversation as trying to brush over the things the victim did wrong and jump to the dominant bad thing the rapists did. I was trying to add balance to the conversation.”

    What you seem to be missing is that conversations like this are still hugely outweighed by the rest of the conversation that’s still happening in most of the rest of society. You’re not adding balance, you’re reminding us of the imbalance that you’re part of.

  280. @andrewpeterson27 Ah, balance. In the name of balance, please stand with generations of police officers who have told rape victims: “You were drunk? You were flirting with him earlier in the evening? Don’t press charges. You don’t have a case. No one will believe you.” This is real life. When you harp on the point of this woman’s “little bad,” I am hearing: ‘Have you perhaps considered the status quo?!? It’s a very interesting thing that many women are totally unaware of!’

  281. @bearpaw I have not seen the ignorance that you seem to be placing on the rest of society. Generally speaking I’m an optimist, perhaps to a fault. I’ll admit that this is probably the first conversation I’ve ever really had about rape. I’m a happily married 36 year old.

  282. @MJeanB

    That made me laugh.

    @andrewpeterson27

    What you’re describing, trying to place “appropriate” blame/responsibility on the victim, is what happens ALL the time. It’s like a lifetime of eating unflavored gruel.

    Focusing on teaching men not to rape, and talking about the ways our society normalizes, accepts and excuses rape? That’s like a steak dinner, after 28 years of eating gruel.

  283. andrewpeterson: The scales have fallen from my eyes! I’m enlightened! I now understand that women should never, ever drink anything alcoholic for fear of falling prey to men. They should wear outfits that entirely cover every bit of their bodies, for fear of provoking men’s lusts. They should only ever go out in public with a male member of their household, so as to have a protector at hand. Otherwise, they must stay home at all times, with all the doors and windows locked!

    Thank you for explaining this to all of us. Would you care to recommend a reliable burkha maker?

  284. @Jim (10:10 PM)
    The Freekin point is; The “POINT” has not made it across the “gender” lines. The Freekin’ point: Women, girls and children are not the “personal” playground of any jerk that determines “They Are Desirable/Available/Non-defend-able.

  285. @mythbri I have no problem with teaching men not to rape. Until there are no bad people though, it seems like *some* of the things you listed (way) above seem like a logical precaution.

  286. @andrewpeterson27: indeed, there is risky behavior in life. If you decide it would be hilarious to sexually assault a friend and have it recorded for posterity, you are taking a big risk that you will be convicted and imprisoned for your actions.

    Are you done playing contrarian now?

  287. @andrewpeterson27 — “I plead complete ignorance on the pressure to not press charges. I can’t identify with a social pressure to not press charges.”

    Do you really expect me to believe this?

  288. How insulting is it to men to assume that we’ll rape if there’s a helpless woman about? Men who would are beneath contempt, but that’s really not all of us. Let’s work on making it fewer, then on making it none.

    It’s good advice to tell someone not to leave their valuables out on the sidewalk for hours at a time. If they get stolen, though, it’s entirely the thief’s fault, and the thief, not the owner, is to blame. But it’s worse than that: women in our society are told that unless they keep their valuables behind closed doors, in a safe with explosives and armed guards on duty 24/7, any theft that occurs is their own fault.

    Being incautious doesn’t make you deserve to be victimized, any more than being a child does (and now, someone will accuse me of “comparing women who don’t take ‘precautions’ to children,” and I will say to that someone “you are stupid”).

    And in this case the victim had every reason to think she’d be safe, and was deliberately set up and victimized.

    I do have some compassion for these boys. They were misled by their parents, their peers, and especially their appalling coach into thinking they could do whatever they wanted to anyone they wanted to do it to, and they’d be protected. I’m not sorry they’re being punished. I do wish their coach could be locked up too.

    I have much more compassion (of course!) for the victim. But “save your compassion for the victim” implies a limitation on compassion that I think is deeply wrong.

    Compassion isn’t something you need to deserve, I guess is the bottom line.

    Nostromo: Agree with all John, except for point #1. Even though I’m not Jewish, I think an eye for eye, or an orifice for an orifice in this case, is fitting & Bubba will see to that I’m sure.

    So you’re in favor of rape as long as you think the victim deserves it. Who appointed you the judge of who deserves it?

    NO ONE SHOULD BE RAPED. NO, NOT EVEN RAPISTS.

    We can’t stop rape, or change the rape culture, by simply reserving rape for those who deserve it. No matter what the critera for deserving it.

    Do an adult crime, get an adult punishment, plain & simple – THAT’S what should happen.

    Sorry, but no. We have juvenile justice for excellent reasons: child and adolescent brains are NOT the same as adult brains. They don’t develop judgment (specifically the ability to work out the probable consequences of an act) until very late in adolescence; in one study I saw, 15-year-olds misidentified fearful expressions as angry in every case. These were not borderline; any adult would know the people in the pictures were terrified.

    “Do the crime, do the time” is one of the more socially pernicious examples of “if it rhymes, it must be true,” which is at the top of my list of Stupid Things People Believe Without Realizing They Do.

    And as for “adult crime”—this wasn’t one. It was a very, very teenage crime. An adult would have raped her in private and made absolutely sure no one was videotaping, and certainly NOT have said “she’s so raped now.” An adult would have denied everything, not bragged about it.

  289. I’ll admit that this is probably the first conversation I’ve ever really had about rape.

    …and it hasn’t occurred to you that this is a gigantic part of the overall problem? That men aren’t having conversations about rape? You don’t think that it’s a problem that you’re 36 years old and this is the first time you’ve ever had a conversation about rape?

    I’m 42, and have been having conversations about rape since I was…5? 6? Of course, the conversations have been men like you, interested in “balance”, telling me how I needed to behave to prevent rape, instead of explaining that the rapist is the one responsible for his choice to rape…

    Please call your local Rape Crisis Center, and ask to speak to a Crisis Counselor, ’cause darlin’, you need you some education, and you need it desperately. Do yourself a favor, and clam up until you are properly enclued.

  290. you seem to have gone to an extreme, I don’t know how you got there.

    Then perhaps you’re not really thinking through what you’re saying.

  291. @andrewpeterson27

    Look, I’m sorry – I don’t think that I can really continue this conversation with you, because it’s happening at a 12th grade level when you’re just starting 1st grade after having a crash-kindergarten-course during the course of this thread. I’m not insulting your intelligence, merely pointing out your ignorance.

    Here is my advice to you, if you want to be taken seriously in discussions about rape:

    *Listen. Listen listen listen listen listen to what people tell you. You don’t have to believe all of it – you should of course do your own research. But listen.

    *Accept that the following things are very, VERY common, even if that seems incredible to you:

    -Victims are often pressured not to press charges. The victim who is the subject of this thread was pressured not to press charges. This pressure comes from friends, family, friends and family of the rapist, and law enforcement.

    -Victims are accused of lying ALL THE TIME.

    -Victims’ behavior and past is analyzed obsessively to destroy their credibility.

    -Victims are often raped multiple times. Women of color are more at risk, as are women with disabilities or mental illness. Because they are already de-valued, and no one will believe them.

    -Society often excuses rapists, saying “boys will be boys”.

    -There are people in this world (and you should believe this, since you are one of them) who think that there is “rape”, and there is “real rape.”

    You have a lot of catching up to do. I sincerely hope that you are not forced to do this catching up because you find out that one of your loved ones is/was raped.

  292. @htom I’m clearly not trying to hide my opinions. :-) As a white male in a middle class rural life, people in my social circles don’t talk about rape. (feel free to highlight that that might be the problem) Before this thread, I would have said some form of sexual intercourse would have been required for rape to occur.

  293. @andrewpeterson27: What Missy said. You said that you haven’t had a conversation like this before. Most of the other people in this conversation have. Many times. We’ve already heard the points you’re making … many times. They aren’t good points. They’re newbie points that seem logical to someone who is really new to this stuff (heck, I remember when I believed some of what you’re saying here!) — but they aren’t good points. They really, really aren’t. It’s sort of like jumping into a high-level discussion of physics when your entire physics education is a textbook from 1900.

  294. Jim, 50 years ago in the United States it was not legally possible to rape your spouse. If it took place within marriage, it wasn’t rape.

    Go ahead.

    Look it up.

    I’ll wait.

  295. “If men already know not to rape, and what rape is, then why does it keep happening?”

    For the same reason some people steal, rob, assault and murder: because some people are predators – they do evil things. The world ain’t all Unicorns and Rainbows, and not everyone listens to Reason. And it hurts when you see some girl like that girl in Ohio get assaulted when you know there was some simple things that could have been said to her that would have made her BELIEVE. YES…there are people out there waiting to take advantage of women and, thank God, they are relatively few – but they do a lot of damage. And…thank God, the vast majority are not that hard to spot and avoid if one has been trained.

  296. “@Cally you seem to have gone to an extreme, I don’t know how you got there.”

    Oh, that’s simple. This is how: “Is there risky behavior in life? Can you avoid some of that risky behavior? Will you be better off if you avoid that behavior?”

    Going out of a locked house is a “risky behavior in life” for women. Ask all the people who blame us for being raped. Wearing anything even remotely good-looking is a “risky behavior in life” for women. Not having a guard around at all times is a “risky behavior in life” for women. How do I know this? Because men have been telling me this ALL MY LIFE. Working outside the home? Risky. Going to the grocery store by myself? Risky. Walking the dog (unless the dog is a Doberman or something)? Risky. Did you see that list, way up there, that mythbri posted about risky behaviors? That LONG, LONG list? That self-contradictory list?

    Men have been telling us women about how risky we’re behaving by doing, essentially, ANYTHING, all our lives. So the only possible conclusion to someone telling me that I’d be better off by avoiding risky behavior is to go and buy a burkha. Oh, wait, that’s risky, too….

  297. @andrewpeterson27 Thanks for you honesty regarding the limits of your knowledge on this topic. I urge you, when you think about Steubenville, to place it in the larger context of a society where one 1 in 5 women are raped, and where very, very few of those rapes are reported. You may be so blessed as to not often think about rape, but from where I sit, it’s an epidemic. I think about my safety, and that of my friends, constantly. The story we tell about Steubenville, about the perpetrators, the victims, and the bystanders, becomes a very real part of how are society thinks about rape. Future rapes. Actual crimes involving actual people. When we focus especially on what victims did wrong, we implicitly silence women and invalidate their stories. When we tell young women and men to look out for their friends, to call out violence, to offer support to vulnerable people, we promote safety.

  298. Andrew – also, I’ve had happen to me what is happening to you here, except with me it was race stuff. I walked into an advanced level conversation with lots of my own ~opinions~ based on a complete lack of lived experience of what was being discussed. I got my ass handed to me, multiple times. I slunk off, licked my wounds, read a bunch, educated myself, and eventually went “… wow, I was really an idiot that time.” Everything I thought I was coming up with on my own was recycled cultural attitudes that lots of smart people have been refuting for 50 years. Except I had remained willfully ignorant because I didn’t have to engage with it, so I hadn’t. And now I’m learning to. It’s hard, but it’s a thousand million percent less difficult for me than for people who can’t NOT deal with it every day, and it’s worth doing because I want the world to get better.

  299. @Jim

    And…thank God, the vast majority are not that hard to spot and avoid if one has been trained.

    Really? What do rapists look like? That nice boy that my best friend went out with didn’t look like a rapist. He certainly didn’t come out and say “You know, I’m planning to rape you later this evening, fair warning.”

    The man who worked at the YMCA certainly didn’t look like a rapist, and yet he molested my father and my uncle when they were both pre-teens.

    The man that my grandmother married didn’t look like a rapist, or a wife-beater – but lo and behold! He turned out to be both.

    Please – enlighten us regarding your habit of rapist-spotting. Is there a field guide?

  300. @Cally i want the comment you quoted to be outside the rape issue. Just in general, I don’t see anything wrong with avoiding risky behavior. If you take that to an extreme, I would agree with you. But as a general rule, I don’t see anything wrong with it. If you (or someone tries to identify for you) everything as risky, then we have a problem.

  301. Jim, did you see how Vancouver reduced sexual assaults? It wasn’t by telling women to be more careful. People have been telling women to be more careful constantly for my entire lifetime. All the benefits of “telling women to be more careful” have been reached. Vancouver reduced sexual assaults by an amazing 10% by telling men not to commit sexual assault. Really. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/dont-be-that-guy-ad-campaign-cuts-vancouver-sex-assaults-by-10-per-cent-in-2011/article1359241/

  302. @andrewpeterson27 – in pretty much every thread I’ve ever read about rape, or sexual harassment, or the difference between women’s experiences of the world and men’s, there is always that one guy (or two or three) who refuses to listen to what the women commenters are saying about their lived experiences, who tries to minimize women’s experience of abuse/harassment, who avoids confronting men’s sexual bad behaviour. And so the whole thread becomes about his refusal to listen and his insistence on redefining the issue to something more palatable to him, instead of being a discussion of the actual issues at play. In this thread, you’re that guy.
    What would happen if, instead of focusing on the perceived bad behaviour of the victim, you focused on the perpetrators? Why such an insistent need to avoid discussing their actions? What is the value of focusing on assigning some of the responsibility/blame to her instead of focusing on the responsibility of the perpetrators?

  303. Jim, perhaps you should share your rapist-spotting technique with the police. Then they can catch all the rapists! Problem solved!

    … except not, because if it was that easy, 100% of rapists would be already caught, convicted and imprisoned. QED.

  304. You have a lot of catching up to do. I sincerely hope that you are not forced to do this catching up because you find out that one of your loved ones is/was raped.

    I’d lay folding money on him already knowing someone who has been raped. She’s simply not telling him, because he thinks victims bear responsibility for their rapists actions, and who needs to be judged as at fault for her assault by someone who allegedly cares about her?

    Lemme just leave this here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soraya-chemaly/50-facts-rape_b_2019338.html

  305. @janstra I did try and state above that the rapist did all the raping. Their actions were completely wrong and they are deserving of their punishment. What I was trying to state is that there isn’t a perfect victim here. It sounds like what I was stating was so obvious that no one else even brings it up, or if they do they are trodden upon by the hordes who have not been allowed to blame the rapists for too long.

  306. @mythbri, there is such a guide! However, I don’t think most of the “risky behavior” crowd would approve, because – as it acknowledges – most of the behaviors that mark a rapist are those that our culture sees as proper and even romantic for men, such as not taking “no” for an answer, and most of the behaviors that women can engage in to protect themselves (such as setting boundaries) are things women are discouraged from doing and will get her labelled a paranoid bitch. It also argues that we should teach men not to engage in these behaviors and, oddly, spends about zero time on cautions like “don’t get drunk”.

    (The book is THE GIFT OF FEAR and is actually widely applicable, it’s far from a Don’t Get Raped scaretome.)

  307. @andrewpeterson27. Sigh. The situation isn’t getting “passed out drunk.” The issue is two people raping another person, in front of a significant number of bystanders, none of whom intervened, and some of whom used social media to gleefully publicize the event.

    But turning more directly to your assertion, I think what you are trying to do is draw a line between the “innocent” victim and the “guilty” victim, with the former deserving our sympathies and the latter deserving token sympathies with a host of slut-shaming.

    Let me state this differently. A “result of” behavior = a “causal effect” of behavior = (partial) responsibility for consequences = blaming the victim.

  308. The two boys who raped the girl shouldn’t themselves be raped.

    True. Not that it ever happens, but I believe rapists should receive life imprisonment. The only reason I don’t support them being sentenced to death is that I oppose the State having that power. With juveniles, I can see merit in the argument for the possibility of parole, though I think the parents or legal guardians should bear some serious responsibility for their delinquent childrens’ actions.

    @ Missy

    Aziz, I find this troublesome, to say the least. I realize you’re qualifying yourself with “if”, but why are we talking about teaching young women “smart behavior” at all, instead of about teaching young men not to rape?

    Why are they mutually exclusive? The young woman, or any victim at all, has no moral responsibility for the things done to them, period. The people responsible for their upbringing, however, absolutely have a moral responsibility to teach them to survive in a profoundly flawed world. Anyone who excuses not teaching children about sexual predation because they shouldn’t have to know about it, is part of a separate and independent problem not unlike the abstinence-only crowd. If you grow up in the inner-city, your parents or guardians have a moral obligation to teach you about the dangers of street-crime. Concluding that their moral obligation relieves muggers of their moral obligation not to mug constitutes a failure of logic.

    Teaching someone caution is not the same as making their safety their own responsibility. Teaching someone to be on guard for predators is not the same as blaming them if and when a predator attacks them. Teaching someone to be on guard for predators is not a sinecure against predators, and they should be taught that as well, that all the preparation in the world is no guarantee. Moreover, they should be taught that if they are victimized, it is never their fault, and that too is as much the moral obligation of the parents or guardians to teach them.

    Teaching someone to be on guard for predators is not being part of the problem. It is part, and only part (the lesser part), of the solution. The other, greater part is teaching someone not to be a predator. Moreover, I have my doubts that many, and perhaps most, people who say that advocating teaching someone to be on guard for predators is being part of the problem would, in fact, decline to teach their own children, if any, to be on guard for predators. It seems far more likely that they would simple prefer no one talk about it, perhaps because they have bought into the false dichotomy rape-apologists promulgate that the need for caution absolves the predators who create that need.

    That said, her parents responsibility to teach her about sexual predators has ZERO, ZIP, ZILCH bearing on the culpability any rapists anywhere anytime.

    The education needs to be aimed at young men – “Don’t rape. If she’s not screaming ‘Yes, yes, yes’, the answer is ‘No’, zip your pants back up.”

    That first and foremost, but not exclusively. At least, if I ever have a daughter, I will teach her about sexual predators even while I raise any son I have not to be one. Because not only can I do both, I have a moral responsibility to them and to society to do both.

  309. @andrewpeterson27, I think the context you’re missing here is that EVERY time this topic comes up, “If only you/she/he/they hadn’t” done whatever comes crawling out of the woodwork almost immediately. It’s old news to pretty much every woman here. We’re warned about risky behavior our entire lives. Now, I don’t know about the other women posting here, but I’m 38 years old. I wasn’t born yesterday. Telling me that bad things won’t happen if I avoid taking risks is…well, really. What do you think I am, five?

    And the thing is, there have been studies done on risk and chances of assault and all this other stuff that people are speculating about. And the truth of the matter is, you are most likely to be attacked in a familiar place that you spend time in or pass through on a daily basis. If you think about this for a little while, maybe you’ll see why.

    It’s the same reason that your attacker is likely to be someone you know.

  310. “”Really? What do rapists look like?””

    Children or the Children of Rapists are helpless….but I am not talking about them. I am talking about girls old enough to be aware, girls that can be taught to understand how Rape happens and how to avoid it. I offer no perfect world (and I don’t believe in Perfect)…I just offer some advice for a safer world for girls and women.

    Please Google the quote I made above about “Runaway Trains” and “Rapists” and check out that website. The guy gives a lot of advice that makes many women angry – but will keep many more safer. I gave it to my young Niece to read. Like I said, I don’t believe in a perfect world…just a better one.

  311. @bearpaw I’m not saying that the rapists didn’t rape her. 100% of the rape was done by the raping rapers. If she wasn’t there, what is the likelihood that she would have been raped? Ok, scale that back, what is the likelihood that she would have been raped if she was there and had nothing to drink. Ok, scale that back, what is the likelihood that she would have been raped after 20 beers. This is a sliding scale. She had a choice at each of those locations. Each choice she made led to a greater possibility of rape.

    @Andrepeterson27 Ok so to make sure I understand this properly. If I’m ever anywhere around men I should know that I may be raped. Yep check got that and the scars to prove it. And we know women at hone with good alarm systems get raped. So then the only real way a woman can prevent being raped is to be dead and buried (because you know some weirdos like to have sex with dead bodies) so I’m not safe ever. WHY? Oh yeah because men really are animals without control and it is the woman’s job to do the prevention…

    I may never get drunk… But it’s ok for men to get drunk. I shouldn’t wear attractive/revealing/too concealing clothing because… Well men get off on women’s bodies and as we’ve seen from your comments throughout this thread its the woman’s job to not put herself in dangerous situations… Like being around a parent/sibling/extended relatives/co-workers/friends/spouses/our own kids… Because all of those people named above are likely to rape me & its partly my responsibility because I didn’t kill myself to avoid every being in an unsafe situation.

    So if its partly my responsibility for getting drunk and raped it would be partly your responsibility you got drunk and your car was stolen (while around that list of people above) right? And you would hold yourself to that responsibility of putting yourself in an unsafe situation right? Seriously if you are going to claim that its partly my responsibility for being raped then in the case of most other crimes its partly the victims responsibility because they did something that should be safe or they did something stupid but every victim of every single crime ever committed by your reasoning is partly responsible.

    Now why do I suspect that you don’t see it this way except when it comes to women being sexually abused/raped?

  312. I’d lay folding money on him already knowing someone who has been raped.

    I was going to say almost this exact thing. If you know at least five women, then…guess what.

  313. @andrewpeterson27: Dude. Back away from the keyboard for a while. Seriously. You’ve already said you need more education, you sound like you’re willing to at least start looking into it, and at this point you are digging your hole deeper and deeper. If you do go out there with a genuine intent to learn more, you are going to want to come back and kick yourself SO hard in about five years. Trust me.

  314. @andrewpeterson27: I wonder why it matters so much to you that the victim wasn’t perfect. Do you focus on the wrong behaviour of victims of muggings or home invasions or assaults? Or do you simply condemn the perpetrators? And if you hold victims of rape to different standards of behaviour, why is that?

  315. andrew: “If you (or someone tries to identify for you) everything as risky, then we have a problem.”

    *dingdingding* YES, we have a problem. Look at that list way up there. You’re not a woman, so you’ve never had to know this. But I tell you three times: Mythbri isn’t making any of that up. Every woman here has been warned by well-meaning men about some or all of that list. There is nothing on that list that at least one woman here HASN’T been warned about. There is NO SUCH THING as “non-risky” behavior for women. There is no get-out-of-rape-free card. And there’s no get-out-of-being-blamed-for-your-own-rape free card, either, as several of the women here know all too well. So what do you helpfully do? You point out that you consider the Steubenville victim as not entirely blameless. Well DUH. Because it’s physically impossible to be a woman in this society and be considered “entirely blameless” for being raped, unless, maybe, you’ve got the “good luck” to die in the act of trying to fend off your rapists. And even then, you probably should have known better than to be in the same town as them.

  316. @welltemperedwriter That’s the vibe that’s been made real clear. Generally speaking, females know about risky behavior, they don’t want someone telling them about it, again. I’m still not to the point where I say that it’s a complete excuse to bypass that altogether though.

    The part I need to hear more (read more) about is rape occurring in places where trust shouldn’t be an issue. I get the feeling that is where I start to look stupid.

  317. @Jim: When I google “runaway train” and “rapist”, what I get is a movie called Runaway Train from 1985 with a rapist in it. From the sound of things, the climactic scene involves two guys beating the shit out of each other on a runaway freight engine in Alaska. This is super useful advice which I will keep in mind if I’m ever on a runaway freight train with a couple of escaped convicts.

  318. @Jim

    I am talking about girls old enough to be aware

    Didn’t you just say children are not to blame? Or do you mean women?

    And I’m not Googling shit, Jim, because I’ve seen it all before. This ain’t my first rodeo, and I will use my own judgement about what makes me feel safe, not yours or anyone else you think has “good ideas that make women angry.”

    Again: What do rapists look like?

  319. More seriously, Jim, do you honestly think that if rapists were that easy to recognize and avoid, that women wouldn’t do it? That the police wouldn’t do anything about it? Do you truly think that everyone in the world besides yourself is that stupid? (Why am I asking this.)

  320. For some reason, I think if the advice to women were more along the lines of “completely and totally ostracize any man who ever even slightly refuses to take any single no for an answer or ever pushes boundaries, and then spread the word amongst all your friends so they can do the same” instead of “don’t drink, don’t flirt, don’t dress like that,” a lot of the same people who are blaming the victim would then complain about women not being nice to poor socially awkward men…. maybe I’m just being cynical, though.

    Also, to whoever said rapists were easy to spot: really, you should volunteer. Maybe you would’ve noticed, oh, Sandusky years earlier.

    Seriously, those “don’t rape” posters should be put up far and wide. I’m tempted to plaster my own city environment with them.

  321. Jim, I like how you quoted a question you then avoided giving any kind of answer to. That takes some brass.

  322. I also like how, after failing to answer the question you quoted, you tried to give everyone a homework assignment.

    (What I don’t like is hitting “post” when I meant to hit “Preview”. Sorry, John.)

  323. Doc RocketScience: It also takes brass to waltz into a (great) article about not blaming the victim and then proceed to basically call women who get raped too stupid to get out of the path of a speeding train. Or it takes a complete lack of human empathy. Or both!

  324. Its as far away from a pity as it gets, if you ask me. I’m the least vengeful person of my circle and I think those young men got away easy. I’m a 17 year old male, and frankly I find the idea that they didn’t know that what they were doing was wrong completely ludicrous. I spend the majority of my time with the worst type of misogynous, bigoted, privileged teenagers, and they all know that what these guys did was wrong. we aren’t talking dubious, alcohol based consent, of which the before mentioned teens are huge fans, she was unconscious; there is no excuse! interestingly, the horrible people I’m forced to engage with daily, most notably the football team, are seen as great kids. they are good at sports, have good grades, and a youthful enthusiasm for life. they’re the model students. While, misanthropic, academically mediocre, and mentally Ill, people like me, are seen as the troubled students, yet I know the laws surrounding consent. If its no trouble I would ask that you re-evaluate your misconceptions in regards to what kind of person becomes a rapist. its not necessarily the emotionally, and psychologically disturbed weirdos, but instead the privileged, and ignorant, scum who have been told all their lives that sex is owed to them.
    And before I look to much like an angry teenager with a chip on his shoulder ranting about his rival social groups, allow me to extend my deepest condolences to Jane doe. we should never forget in our righteous fervor, that this is a human being’s life, and not some abstract moral debate that lives in a vacuum.

  325. @Cally: YES, everything you said. It is not possible to be good enough, careful enough, perfect enough not to be blamed. NEVER. And a woman who is raped and is brave enough to press charges against her attacker can look forward to … well, exactly what is happening here: people who have never met her dissecting every decision she made, calling her ill-informed and stupid and slutty, telling her over and over again that it would never have happened if she’d been more careful or had one less drink or taken a different route home or locked her door. These are horrible, damaging lies. It’s not possible, was *never* possible for her to be careful enough not to be blamed, slandered and shamed rather than blame being placed where it belongs, on the people who hurt her.

  326. “Also, to whoever said rapists were easy to spot: really, you should volunteer. Maybe you would’ve noticed, oh, Sandusky years earlier.”

    Yeah…I would have and I would have said something. Also, a friend and I did do such a thing back in 1994 and my buddy was threatened with arrest for slander against the beloved High-School Tennis coach. Ah…Ridley Park, Pennsylvania. The FBI finally got him in 1997 for child pornography.

  327. Folks:

    I go out for the evening and I come back to this. You’re not giving me confidence that I shouldn’t have turned off the thread while I was away.

    AndrewPeterson27 and Jim: In particular, you seem not to have paid attention to that point I made that one poor judgment does not excuse the poor judgment of others. From the point of view of morality and the law, it simply does not matter what the young woman’s actions were prior to being raped — the rape itself is an independent action. You’re continuing to tie the act of rape to the young woman’s actions, and in doing so making the inference of blame on the young woman.

    Let’s make it easier for the both of you for the rest of this thread: Every time you feel the need to try to bring up the young woman’s choices that evening, stop. Because, one, no one is arguing that her getting too drunk to stand was a smart decision, and two it is utterly irrelevant to the choices that they two young men who raped her made. If you can’t get to the young men’s actions without dwelling on the young woman’s, all that means is that you’re still looking for some way to make her responsible for her own rape. She’s not, end of story. Expand this advice I make on the specific example to a wider, more general discussion of women and rapists as well.

    All this dwelling on the women’s choices while eliding the rapists’ choices are independent actions is why conversations like this run aground: Because some people just want to make it about the woman. Whether you’re doing this intentionally or otherwise, it’s having a detrimental effect on the discussion.

    I will in fact be turning off this comment thread while I sleep tonight, and bringing it back online in the morning. It’s about 11:30 now; I’ll probably close shop here in the next 15 or so minutes. Consider this is closing time bell.

  328. @andrewpeterson27. My bad. I posted my last comment without updating and discovered much more about you and your almost complete lack of experience thinking about rape. So here’s the thing. I guarantee that there are women in your life that have been raped, assuming that you, like most of us, spend any time around women. Perhaps you might want to consider why none of the women in your life has ever discussed this with you.

  329. @Gulliver: for the squadzillionth time, nobody, ever, had said “do not teach basic safety.” What people ARE saying is:

    – stop focusing on Don’t Get Raped!!!! to the exclusion or minimization of focusing on stopping rape (just as we focus on getting people not to drink and drive, but the highway signs in my state still say REPORT DRUNK DRIVERS every weekend night

    – teach actually useful things, like “it is ok to tell a guy clearly to back off, and you are not a paranoid bitch for doing so” and “if you see a friend passed out, get them somewhere safe”

    – Don’t Be That Guy campaigns are much more helpful in ending rape than warning women to live in tiny, fearful boxes.

    And lest we forget, this stuff is useful for men too. Chances are we all know a man who has been raped, also.

  330. “”You’re continuing to tie the act of rape to the young woman’s actions, and in doing so making the inference of blame on the young woman.””

    John,

    Lions, Tigers, Bears: I am saying that the boys who did this are not quite human and sometimes act as predators. In fact, I believe there are a lot of people out there that are not quite human – who lack the empathy that lets them know what they are doing is hurtful and wrong. I don’t like this situation – it is so ugly to contemplate – but I believe it is a fact, so I will not deny it.

  331. Every once in a while a case like Stubenville gets national attention and a bunch of people notice for the first time that the juvenile justice system, much like the rest of the justice system, chews people up and spits them out minus any redeeming qualities they might have had, then marks them as unfit for civilization.

    They say, “These are nice kids. Let’s not ruin their lives.”

    I say, “I don’t think they’re irredeemable either. Let’s overhaul the justice system so people come out better instead of worse.”

    Then, everyone looks at me like I’m nuts.

  332. Minervose, thanks for that cogent comment. That’s a perspective largely unrepresented here.

  333. Jim:

    “I am saying that the boys who did this are not quite human and sometimes act as predators.”

    No. Humans are perfectly good predators. These boys are perfectly human. Trying to consider them as something other than that is just another variation of “don’t stick your arm into the bear cage.” Why that’s not a good argument was addressed in the entry.

  334. I am saying that the boys who did this are not quite human and sometimes act as predators. In fact, I believe there are a lot of people out there that are not quite human – who lack the empathy that lets them know what they are doing is hurtful and wrong.

    That explains a LOT about your views. It’s always easier if you can dehumanize someone.

  335. The origin story of Medusa, snipped from wikipedia: related by the Roman poet Ovid (Metamorphoses 4.770), Medusa was originally a ravishingly beautiful maiden, “the jealous aspiration of many suitors,” but when she was caught being raped by the “Lord of the Sea” Poseidon in Athena’s temple, the enraged Athena transformed Medusa’s beautiful hair to serpents and made her face so terrible to behold that the mere sight of it would turn onlookers to stone. In Ovid’s telling, Perseus describes Medusa’s punishment by Minerva (Athena) as just and well earned.

    Medusa was a beautiful woman. The god Poseidon raped her in Athena’s temple. Athena responded by punishing Medusa, turning her into the gorgon of mythology.

    Blaming and punishing the victim is thousands of years old.

    Jim: What I have shared with you is a way to help girls avoid rape – a solution if you will. I never said it was perfect or applied for all circumstances, but it applies to one hell of a lot of them

    No, it has almost no connection with reality. In reality, most women are physically weaker than the men who rape them and are simply overpowered. If women have no power, then they have no choice. If they have no choice, then nothing they do would have made any difference.

    Your solutions may very well be well intentioned, but they’re like a survivalist gun-nut with a stock pile of weapons telling someone about how they’re never going to get robbed or mugged because they have a gun with them at all times. It’s nothing more than a power myth to overcome the fear of the unknown that could be more powerful than you. Maybe you believe it to be true, but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re handing out power fantasy myths that make you feel better, but have little connection with reality. You might as well be telling people to stockpile guns and ammunition to reduce crime. Just magically turn everyone into a superhero by giving them some power talisman.

  336. Speaking of the definition of rape, which we were, a long time ago. Am I right in believing that if they had not digitally penetrated the victim, they would not have been guilty of rape? They don’t seem to have been charged with anything else (except Mays’ count of nude pictures of minor). So . . . stripping her naked and peeing on her wasn’t a crime? Attempting, but failing, to force her to perform oral sex wasn’t a crime? I hate this.

    andrewpeterson27 you have very successfully led your derail and congratulations on your move to out and out victim blaming.

  337. I don’t know if adding one more voice to the chorus is going to help, but just in case: I alluded to having gotten the message that I have to police my own behaviour to prevent men from raping me in a reply to andrewpeterson27, but I’ll reiterate. I literally cannot remember the first time I was told to carry my keys between my fingers in case someone tried to rape me, or not to drink, or to be careful about what I wear; to lock my doors and windows, to never walk alone at night, to avoid eye contact when I’m alone on the bus. When I was in high school, all of the girls (and only the girls) got a week of self-defense training.

    And yet somehow, every time a case like this one comes up, there are people who act like women have never heard about “prevention”, and if we only knew about the simple little things we could do to avoid putting ourselves in dangerous situations, well, we probably aren’t going to get raped.

    TRIGGER WARNING for a description and link to the infuriating local case that led me to start thinking about these issues.

    This is a quote from the sentencing statement of the man who raped two first-year students in their residence rooms at my university: “[Mr. Katsnelson]states he hopes some day the victim will be able to take away something positive from this, as he has,” the report’s author wrote. When asked what that might be, Mr. Katsnelson “suggested that now maybe she will know to keep her doors locked.”

    While this is a case where no one but the rapist himself appears to have tried to blame the victims, I don’t think that I’ll ever be able to forget those words, or the knowledge that in almost any other situation, the conversation would have been revolving around what the two young women could have done to keep him from raping them, with the implicit message that he just couldn’t stop himself.

    But just maybe, if his parents had emphasized that women are not objects or prey just as often as women are told that we have to prevent our own rapes, this man who was, apparently, otherwise a good student, well-liked, and not known to be a rapist to his friends wouldn’t have decided to spend an evening wandering the halls of one of our residences with a buddy looking for someone to rape.

  338. Several years back, I knew a young lady, a widow with a young daughter, who went to another city for a job interview. She left her daughter with her mother. That evening she had dinner in the hotel dining room, which was very crowded.so she shared a table with a young man. He doped her drink(non-alcoholic) with a so called date- rape drug. It killed her, and left her 3 year old daughter an orphan. Now, will you apoligists for rapists tell me how it was her fault?

  339. What dismays me is that every single woman on this thread has said, in so many words, “women think about this shit ALL THE TIME,” and yet some men insist on lecturing them in the ways they can minimize their risk of rape because, y’know, they’re men and the women obviously need some education.

    What breathtaking, appalling hubris.

    Maybe if those men would listen to the intelligent, articulate women here (and elsewhere!) and try believing what these women say, instead of insisting on their own viewpoint, they might learn something.

  340. Putting the thread to bed for the evening. It’ll come back online tomorrow, after I get up. Have a good night, everyone.

    Update, 3/20, 8:40 am: Comments back on.

    As a suggestion — which in fact means, hey, pay attention — let’s not get back into the rut of talking about the actions of the young woman in this incident (and of women dealing with rapists in a general sense) because a) it’s already been chewed to death on this thread and b) it really does seem that the people who talk about it, whether they apparently intend to do it or not, really do lapse into trying to shift blame for rape onto women to a greater or lesser degree. And I’m tired of that here.

    Consider the Mallet warmed and ready, and also consider this advice: If you can’t possibly talk about the problem of men raping women without talking about how women need to do “x” or “y” to avoid being raped, examine why you feel you have to do this, and why it does come across as both blaming the victim and excusing the rapists, to a greater or lesser degree, of responsibility for their actions.

    However, don’t do it here, because, as noted, this line of discussion is already done to death. Thank you.

  341. A reminder of how far we haven’t come:

    Thirty years ago, there was another rape case, Murtha writes, a gang-rape at the Big Dan Tavern in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The victim was 21-year-old Cheryl Araujo, a young mother, who was later depicted by Jodie Foster in The Accused, a loosely adapted film version of the March 1983 assault. Four men were convicted of raping Araujo on a pool table while a large number of onlookers cheered them on. Many in the community rallied around the attackers, calling them the “Big Dan Four.” She was so fiercely ostracized by her own community that she moved to Florida where, at age 25, she died in a car crash. Murtha writes:
    Thirty years—a whole generation—after that case, some journalists are fawning over convicted rapists, and locals upset with the guilty verdicts are dragging [the 16-year-old victim’s] name through the mud. Two teen girls were arrested Monday for physically threatening the victim on Twitter—the same day Fox News broadcast a clip exposing the name of the victim, who is a minor.

    In her chapter on the Big Dan’s case in [the 1993 book] Virgin or Vamp, [Columbia University journalism professor Helen] Benedict quotes the Washington Post:

    “What is remarkable about the whole exercise is how nothing much has changed. For all the talk about rape recently, for all that has been written, for all the progress supposedly made by the women’s movement, people are still trying to explain the rape by wondering what the victim did to provoke it.”

  342. In the interest of getting back on topic (the inexcusability of rape) this will be my last comment on the digression that, while not unimportant, was and is not on point.

    @ mythago

    for the squadzillionth time, nobody, ever, had said “do not teach basic safety.”

    Aziz Poonawalla said:

    If – IF – there is a time to discuss risky behavior with young girls, it is BEFORE they are raped, not after – with an aim towards prevention by being smart.

    AFTER a rape has occurred, the issue of putting yourself into danger is utterly irrelevant. The far greater problem here was the permissive moral failings of the bystanders to the rape, and the rapists, not the moral failings of the victim.

    Missy replied [highlight added by me] with:

    Aziz, I find this troublesome, to say the least. I realize you’re qualifying yourself with “if”, but why are we talking about teaching young women “smart behavior” at all, instead of about teaching young men not to rape? It doesn’t matter what rules we put forth for women about “being smart”. If you’re making rules about how not to get raped, you’re part of the problem.

    So yes, someone did strongly imply that teaching basic safety made one part of the problem, and I was careful, in my previous post, to quote the relevant statement in order to make it clear that I was not replying to:

    - stop focusing on Don’t Get Raped!!!! to the exclusion or minimization of focusing on stopping rape (just as we focus on getting people not to drink and drive, but the highway signs in my state still say REPORT DRUNK DRIVERS every weekend night

    …or…

    - teach actually useful things, like “it is ok to tell a guy clearly to back off, and you are not a paranoid bitch for doing so” and “if you see a friend passed out, get them somewhere safe”

    …or…

    - Don’t Be That Guy campaigns are much more helpful in ending rape than warning women to live in tiny, fearful boxes.

    All of which is sage advice with which I completely agree.

    I was replying to the exchange I originally quoted, and that exchange only, in the portion of my previous comment addressed to Missy. I would not have brought it up myself because I don’t think it’s terribly relevant to this particular discussion, but I replied because I think that conflating teaching “smart behavior” with being part of the problem is a potentially dangerous mistake if parents get the idea that they’re helping rapists by teaching their kids to be wary of predators.

    Now, what is smart behavior is a separate issue. I hope you’ll be not surprised that I rather subscribe to your own view of what constitutes smart behavior, and do consider people who consider smart behavior to be dressing in nun habits to be perpetuating rape culture.

    But I disagree with the blanket assertion that teaching any preventative caution is contraindicated. And Missy’s blanket reproach against talking about teaching young women “smart behavior” at all, when Aziz Poonawalla had given no specifics as to what he meant by being smart, does indeed suggest the false dichotomy that we must choose between, on the one hand, teaching children to be on guard and, one the other hand, holding rapists to account. Caution is not endorsement, and we, as a society, must, IMO, reject the fallacy that it is if we are to tear down rape culture. However, I have enough moral humility to know that, as someone who is not a rape survivor, I can only offer that as a suggestion and a perspective on what I would teach my children as a parent. If my tone at any time came across as lecturing, that was my error in sounding self-righteous.

    And lest we forget, this stuff is useful for men too. Chances are we all know a man who has been raped, also.

    I would go so far as to say it’s useful for anyone who is at risk of being victimized. But, as I said and I’m sure you’ll concur, it’s no guarantee and it’s just as important if not more so to educate people not to make the immoral choices that lead to them becoming victimizers.

    @ Andrew Hackard

    What dismays me is that every single woman on this thread has said, in so many words, “women think about this shit ALL THE TIME,” and yet some men insist on lecturing them in the ways they can minimize their risk of rape because, y’know, they’re men and the women obviously need some education.

    Just so I’m being clear, I emphatically do not believe women need to be educated on how to minimize risk. But I do believe children do, that it’s incumbent upon parents, guardians and even society to provide that formative guidance, and that their responsibility has absolutely nothing at all to do with the responsibility of everyone not to rape or otherwise victimize other people.

    Both the victim and her rapists were children in this case. Even so, I don’t regard parental obligations to be pertinent to this ex post facto discussion about a rape that’s already done, and I wouldn’t have said anything about it if one commenter had not made what I considered an absurd generalization in response to another commenter who said AFTER a rape has occurred, the issue of putting yourself into danger is utterly irrelevant. Even so, if I aided a derail, I apologize. That was not my intent, but I am responsible for my actions.

  343. The rapists inserting fingers inside the victim’s vagina is the only assault I’ve read about in reports on the trial itself (so it may be the only act for which there was sufficient evidence for criminal prosecution), but it wasn’t the only form of assault recorded.

    *Some readers may prefer to skip the following specifics of the assault.*

    According to the texts exchanged during the hours-long assault, one attacker ejaculated on the unconscious victim’s stomach (and a picture was taken and circulated of this). When she was barely conscious at one point, the other attacker tried to force her to jerk him off. She was too stupefied to comply, so he forced her to perform oral sex on him. The victim was also urinated on. Additionally, Mays went back and forth about whether he had penetrated her vaginally with his penis; in some texts that night he said “yes” and in others “no.”

    No physical evidence was collected from the victim, who woke up in a strange place with no memory of the attack and did not proceed to a hospital for a rape kit and blood test. So, barring a voluntary confession of guilt from her assailants for offenses they haven’t been charged with, the questions of penile penetration and of drugging the victim will probably remain permanently unanswered.

    Mays and Richmond are the two people against whom there was a strong criminal case due entirely to the evidence trail in social media; but it’s still unclear whether they were the only assailants that night. (This may—or may not—be made more clear by the results of the upcoming grand jury investigation.)

    Mays’ texts during the hours-long attack are particularly disturbing. Vicious, cruel, amoral, lacking any sense whatsoever of conscience or empathy. His comments are all so chilling, so casually dismissive about violating and abusing the victim—both that night and in the days that followed—that the word “sociopath” kept coming to my mind while reading them. (Then again, the word “sociopath” also kept coming to mind when I saw the notorious 12 minute video of another Steubenville teen giggling maniacally that night as he makes one “joke” after another after another about how “raped” and how “dead” the victim is.)

    After the assault, Mays’ texts also evince a crystal clear awareness that he needed the evidence of his crime to be concealed. For example, in the day(s) that followed, there’s a photograph of the assault which he repeatedly tells a friend to destroy.

    Equally disturbing, of course, are the various teens conversing with Mays in those text exchanges. They egg him on, find the rape hilarious and entertaining, agree to help conceal evidence of his crime, and/or clearly admire him for sexually violating and physically abusing the victim. Also just as disturbing, in the 12-minute video mentioned above, the person making the video and numerous other boys off-camera are also laughing uproariously about how “raped” and “dead” the victim is.

    This isn’t high spirits or “good kids” on reckless escapade gone too far. These are dangerously bad kids who are approaching the legal age of adulthood.

  344. J.D. Rhoades says:

    “why are we talking about teaching young women “smart behavior” at all, instead of about teaching young men not to rape?”

    It’s not either/or. You can do both.

    Well, then, if we CAN do both, then why are we NOT teaching young men not to rape?

  345. Yes, the coverage is appalling, but when I heard the news, I thought simply, “justice has been served.”

    This past summer, I had the privilege of serving on a grand jury in my county. For those who don’t know, this is part of due process wherein a jury of peers are presented evidence and must determine by minimum vote in a quorum (it’s weird), if there is probably cause sufficient to bring the case to trial. After seeing this, I had a new respect for this process. There are a few distinctions that I think are important:

    1. Committing a felony won’t necessarily ruin your life
    2. Being caught committing a felony will has a pretty good chance of ruining your life
    3. Being brought to trial for a felony charge will likely ruin your life
    4. Being accused of committing a felony (ie, brought before a grand jury), will be a life-changing event, whether or not it goes through.

    So yes, they authored their future and think that the attempts to protect them were inappropriate. Were they my sons, I’d want them to (1) know better (2) accept the consequences. Trying to protect the boys gains them nothing except to learn that they are magically outside the system.

    In serving on the GJ, my peers and I saw some pretty heinous cases including arson, rape, kidnapping, child pornography, homicide, grand theft – basically the worst of humanity trotted in front me. There is an old saw that a competent district attorney can indict a ham sandwich, and I heard cases where this was certainly true, yet when we voted in favor of indictment and I believe the standards of probable cause were met, I was content with the decision and in the few cases where we voted not to indict, I was also content that justice had been served.

    So yes, their lives have changed for the worst and justice was served.

  346. There’s not a lot I tend to agree with Mike DeWIne about, but I’m very happy he’s continuing to investigate this night, even after these convictions. It’s a sad thing to say, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn not only that others were materially involved, as Laura Resnick outlined above, but to also learn this girl wasn’t the only one assaulted that night.

  347. @ John Scalzi:

    Understood. Sorry I didn’t see addendum that before I posted. Not that I’m under and delusion you need my permission, but feel free to simply delete my last comment entirely as I should have seen the addendum.

    As for the topic at hand, there isn’t really much to say beyond what I already did: their crime was one step shy of murder in severity and, if they were adults, I’d consider life imprisonment just punishment. Perhaps children merit more leniency but, as it stands, they are, in my view, getting off far too easy. The media’s conduct in sympathizing with rapists is emotionally numbing, and the media’s conduct in outing the name of the victim is at the very least reprehensible and possibly whoever did it first should be considered an accomplice to the individuals threatening the victim, while anyone threatening the victim should be prosecuted for making threats which is, AFAIK, a crime. Anyone spewing bile toward or attempting to shift blame onto the victim is behaving in a manner unworthy of their status as human beings (though they most certainly are still human and thus responsible for their actions), and I’m ashamed if I even accidentally aided that perversion.

    All of that should be blindingly obvious to anyone with even half a conscience, but the media’s response shows that the unjust, inhumane, irrational, unChristlike, ass-backwards immorality of rape culture is alive and well. It needs to die and I don’t know how to kill it other than by talking about it, so there you go.

    I do believe that, because the rapists are children, their parents share in their responsibility for their crime. That’s not shifting the blame; that’s recognizing that there’s more of it to go around.

    On a slightly separate note in relation to your addendum, is the inexcusablity of the media excusing rape on-topic, or only the inexcusability of rape itself?

    @ plinth666

    So yes, their lives have changed for the worst and justice was served.

    Will they spend the rest of their lives paying for their crime? Because their victim will. In case it’s not obvious, I don’t subscribe to the theory that the only role of justice is reform. Nor do I subscribe to the theory of an eye for an eye. I subscribe to the theory that the punishment should be proportional (not identical) to the crime. I’m not sure the punishment was as great as the crime in this case. And no, it’s not for me to decide since I wasn’t on the jury or grand jury; but I can still have an opinion.

  348. @MJeanB,
    Good link.
    Thanks for the pep talk. I can tend toward bitter disillusionment on the issue of prisons.
    It’s important though. And for rape, tough on crime stupidity is one of the things that drives down reporting.

  349. I haven’t had a chance to read all of the comments, but I do want to thank you John for once again putting my flittering thoughts into a mature, organized, moving post. I just don’t have that talent.

    There are so many things that I want to say, but this situation and so many others like it bring back too many bad memories. But I will let my anger out on just one point: those fools that blame the victim should be subjected to – no, I can’t go there, I’m so much better than they are. Yes, the victim in the Steubenville case could have exercised better judgment, and she will bear the scars from that misjudgment for the rest of her life, but she DID NOT deserve the horrific treatment she received at the hands of her “friends”.

    Unfortunately, no one will win from the behavior of these teenagers. No one.

  350. Why are we still discussing the whole “if it wasn’t a penis it might not be rape” BS? Federal law–which Ohio must meet at a minimum–unequivocally states that it doesn’t matter what you use, it’s rape. Here’s the official definition again:

    The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.

  351. @Genufett: that is being discussed because “rape” has a different definition in different state and at the federal level. For many of the people posting, what happened in Ohio would not constitute “rape” in their state or country. That isn’t to say that it would be a crime or even a lesser crime. It would just have a different name like “criminal deviant conduct”. But rose by any other name…

    In Indiana, rape requires sexual intercourse, which by definition is limited to vaginal penetration, no matter how slight, by a penis. Men cannot be “raped” at all in Indiana. So it comes up because people are operating under many different definitions of “rape”. For Ohio, what occurred was a rape.

  352. I’m sure someone has made this point already, but from the stats, one of the main things you can do to avoid rape or sexual assault is not to live in your own home with your own family. Most rapes and assaults do not take place on the streets and they are not committed by strangers.

  353. Kilroy:

    “that is being discussed because ‘rape’ has a different definition in different state and at the federal level.”

    However, I have already noted on this thread that the relevant definition of rape here is the one that applies to this particular case, i.e., Ohio state law. By that relevant law, what happened was rape. So let’s not play the “if it happened elsewhere it wouldn’t be rape” card in this thread, please. It didn’t happen anywhere else. It happened in Ohio. In Ohio, it was rape. Work with the facts, folks.

  354. @ mike75, who wrote: “I wouldn’t be surprised to learn not only that others were materially involved, as Laura Resnick outlined above, but to also learn this girl wasn’t the only one assaulted that night.”

    One of the (many) disturbing things about the many texts exchanged the night of the rape and in the days that followed, various Tweets from and about that night (even while it was happening, it was so tweeted-about that the Steubenville teens created a hashtag for the rape–they called it something like “#deadgirl”), the 12-minute video of Mike Nodianos (about whom there was a student campaign demanding he leave Ohio State U after the video went viral during his first term there last autumn) and his chums laughing and joking maniacally about the “so raped” and “so dead” victim, etc… is the very strong sense these comments and attitude all convey that sexually assault wasn’t a new or unfamiliar experience among them.

    This is strictly my subjective impression. While their texts, videos, etc. discussed exactly how the victim was being assaulted and violated, so what I wrote above about that are all descriptions taken from their own words (primarily from Mays’ text exchanges), what I’m stating now is strictly my reaction to their conversations and atitudes. Nothing they mentioned or even alluded to prior rapes. But the overall impression conveyed was that raping a girl and watching a girl being raped was not an unknown experience before that night.

    Being held acccountable for rape seems to be a BRAND NEW for the Steubenville teens. Being prosecuted for rape seem to be unforeseen–indeed, until now, unimaginable to them. Even getting caught seems to be new. They were clearly not at ALL afraid that night of getting caught or experiencing consequences, and the possibility of exposure or problems appears to have dawned only slowly over the next few days–and mostly on Mays, who was urging that evidence be concealed or destroyed and complaining bitterly about the girl asking what had happened to her that night. Recording the assault extensively on social media was probably new for them, since if it weren’t, that probaby would have been exposed by now. Possibly even committing the assault so publicly (dozens of witnesses, several parties) may have been new (or not).

    But what seems to have been eerily, disturbingly familiar and business-as-usual to them in their exchanges was raping a girl.

    So, no, I don’t believe Jane Doe was the first. And I suspect the number of girls raped in that town by boys who don’t consider it rape, protected by parents and coaches and authority figures who look the other way, could be shockingly high.

  355. Just answered because she asked. words have meaning, but they don’t always have the same meaning to everyone or everywhere so sometime it is important to nail down the definition for a specific discussion.

  356. I don’t think the root problem is “rape culture” per se. I think rape culture is an outcome of an even deeper issue.

    We are living in an inherited conversation that is at least several thousand years old (mythologies and belief systems and others) that is the expression of nothing more than the fear of a husband that his wife will have sex with another man, get pregnant, and he will be raising someone else’s DNA. The Medusa origin story is perfect for this. Poseidon rapes a woman in the temple of Athena. Athena responds in a rage, punishing not Poseidon but the woman he raped, turning her into a mythological monster.

    I would say this story is nothing more than the expression of the fear of some men that their wife will cheat on them. And the Medusa origin story is nothing more than an expression of the only way these terrified men know how to try and prevent cheating: Threats.

    The moral of most rape stories can be viewed quite simply as a husband telling his wife: Have sex with another man, even if it is because he rapes you, and I will murder you.

    This, I believe, is why rape is so often viewed through the lens of a woman being the one who has complete control and complete power over the situation, and the rapist is reduced to little more than an unthinking animal, a bear, an automaton. Because the story isn’t viewed as a rape story. The story is viewed through the lens of a woman cheating on their husband, and in that situation, the woman does in fact have complete control. In a story of a cheating wife, the wife is the seducer and the man she seduces is an innocent bystander, not the villian.

    When you hear someone talking about these poor men whose lives are ruined and who will be sent to jail, they’re talking about someone as if they had been seduced by a woman and ruined as a result.

    When you hear someone giving advice to women about how not to be raped, the thing to listen for is how much agency, how much power, how much control, that advice giver if assigning to the woman in the situation of being raped. If they are relating to women as if they are the ones in control when they get raped, then they’re not really talking about rape, they’re talking about the woman being a seducer.

    She was asking for it. She shouldn’t have dressed that way. She led them on. She said no, but really meant yes.

    Every single one of these statements are viewing the rape as if the woman were the seducer. And then the rape becomes an extension of the “justice” of the possessive husband. “If you cheat on me, I will murder you”, is turned into “if you cheat on your husband, the universe will punish you”.

    All one has to do is look at the origin story for Medusa. She was raped by Posedon in Athena’s temple. And Athena punished the woman, not Poseidon. Poseidon couldn’t help himself apparently because she was so beautiful. The woman became the seductress and brought the rape upon herself.

  357. For those who continue to think that the behavior of the woman is a factor worthy of discussion (and not only discussion, but MORE discussion than the behavior of the men, because that’s what we’re saying is so problematic and so, so very normalized): tell me, is rape a rarity in countries where women don’t get plastered at parties and dress conservatively? The Middle East? India? And not just stranger-rape, but rape by people they know, people in good standing in their community?

    “She shouldn’t wear that dress, get drunk, ruin the lives of those poor boys etc.” is just the Western version of “She brought dishonor upon our family and should be punished even further for having been raped.”

  358. The reason why that girl was raped is that we all live in a culture were it’s stated acceptable to act violenty against others. Her so called friends watched it happen and partly even made fun out of it, because no one of them had enough empathy for the girl (other girls included). In our society the unspoken truth is that people may make themselves feel cool, strong, superior on other’s expense. That’s what rape is. It makes the rapists feel fine, and that’s why the boys didn’t show any sign of guilty feelings in the first place. Their tears in court were pure self-pity. People taking advantage of someone being miserable and completely helpless actually can sink no lower.

    Blaming the victim is a strategy to distract from the violent and inhuman act itself. I once was followed by a stranger as I went home from a party, and all the police officer (female) told me later was ‘Well, what have you been out for on the street late at night?’. It is my fundamental right to go wherever I want at any time I like. Assuming that being followed was my own fault because I was out there means nothing else than cutting this right. Telling victims they could’ve prevented rape shows the unwillingness to see rape as what it is: a crime, not the perpetrator’s natural right. By the way, here in Germany spousal rape was declared a punishable offence only in 1997! Until then it was presumed compulsory that women give way from time to time just to make their husbands feel good. How on earth should a woman prevent her husband from raping her – him, who shares her place, sees her naked, whom she trusts?

    Kilroy wrote:

    You can’t prevent a robbery by teaching men not to rob, you prevent a robbery by getting a dog, installing a security alarm, and keeping a gun.

    Well, strange comparison, and wrong anyway. You don’t prevent robbery with a gun. There’s a reason why people rob. Shooting this particular robber in the head doesn’t prevent robbery at all. You have to take a very close and accurate look at the reasons, which means facing poverty and other facts that lead to robbery and then try to do something about it. As for rapists: It seems to be a well-recognised and legitimate way to compensate own feelings of powerlessness, inferiority, emptyness, anger and fear by violating other people. Rape promises power over others for at least a few minutes. Misogyny is a possibility to ensure that a man can always feel superior to someone, no matter what circumstances. People behave like this if they don’t know (and feel!) the alternatives. I won’t prevent any rapist from raping other women if I’d carry a sharp knife around in my pocket, although I of course might think ‘Phew, better her than me!’ But we can all play an active and effective part in preventing rape if we raise self-confident kids, make it loud and clear that rape is not tolerated and intervene at the smallest signs of rape. Victim blaming is just the opposite, it tells the rapist ‘Go ahead, she’s asking for it!’.

  359. @Lauren: People’s shouldn’t get so drunk that they pass out like that. But I don’t think anyone here is excusing the boys (mens?) actions based on that.

    It is easier to talk about prevention from the victim’s standpoint because it offers easier working solutions. I’m not sure exactly what should be said about the boys. I don’t see anyone defending them. Maybe lamenting their stupidity and lack of morals instilled in them, but not defending. Would a class at the local high school talking about how not to fondle and molest people without consent have stopped this from happening? I guess i’m skeptical of that. There was a failing much earlier in these boys lives that lead to their acceptance of their actions.

    When you want to reduce crime in a neighborhood in a short amount of time, you set up a neighborhood watch. In the long term, it’d be great to be able to increase the level of education, and available jobs to reduce crime in the long run, but much of that doesn’t even have to do with the neighborhood, it has to do with surrounding areas.

  360. Prevention from the victims standpoint doesn’t offer working solutions as discussed extensively upthread. Not if we want women to be part of society. The neighbourhood watch thing works by reporting criminals and keeping an eye out for unlawful behaviour, not just telling people not to own valuables/leave the house/go to bed.

    The problem is that the “neighbourhood” in this case was encouraging the crime and covering up the criminals’ actions. This is not a strategy which will reduce rape.

  361. Affliction hardens and discourages us because, like a red hot iron, it stamps the soul to its very depths with the scorn, the disgust, and even the self-hatred and sense of guilt that crime logically should produce but actually does not.”

    Simone Weil

  362. So who’s up for writing the new smash filk “Mansplaining Rape Prevention to Women on John Scalzi’s Blog”?

  363. I can’t agree that prevention from the victim’s standpoint doesn’t offer a “working solution”. Or maybe I just don’t know what you mean by a working solution? Rape, for the most part, is an opportunity crime.

    I don’t know how to eliminate the “rapist”. looking at history, there always have been those that are looking to rape, and their likely always will be. Maybe teaching these boys that what they were doing fit the definition of rape would have made a difference, but based on the facts, it appears that they already knew that. I don’t think it is possible to change a society to the extent that there will not exist the outliers that will rape when they see the opportunity. But maybe that is just my negative view of humanity based on spending so long dealing with the dregs of society.

  364. Kilroy

    Well, I now eagerly await your list of the working solutions which have been found as a result of examining the victims behaviour; I’m sure that every other person reading this thread is similarly enthralled.

    On second thoughts, we know perfectly well that the incredibly long list of working solutions based on the victims behaviour, many of them contradictory, has done nothing to reduce the incidence of rape. It’s just a way of excusing the behaviour of rapists.

    The fact that you pretend that the incredibly long list has not been trotted out over, and over, and over again makes it clear that you are prepared to carry on pretending anything which would enable rapists to keep on raping with minimal disturbance to their lives.

    We need to formulate ways of teaching potential rapists that raping people will have incredibly nasty consequences for the people doing the raping; I am open to suggestions as to the best methods.

    I am not open to suggestions as to why I should stand reality on its head and embrace the incredibly long list of working solutions which do not, as a question of fact, work.

  365. @Kilroy – why do you ignore repeated evidence presented to you about Vancouver’s efforts aimed at MEN to prevent rape that reduced the instances of assault by 10%?

    We teach children not to steal, hit or be mean to other people. Some don’t get those fundamentals, but most do. However, when it comes to rape, it seems that all of a sudden it’s some sort of inconceivable thing that only monsters do. Nope. It’s a human action, perpetuated by humans that may just not have been taught better and insist on splitting hairs and putting blame on victims.

  366. Kilroy: It is easier to talk about prevention from the victim’s standpoint because it offers easier working solutions.

    Dude, these are not “working solutions”. These are myths you’re repeating. I pointed out one of your basic myths being “it wouldn’t have happened had she not”. You’re kidding yourself there. It’s bullshit. But it fits YOUR idea of justice, it fits YOUR idea of how the world should work, so you keep repeating it even if it isn’t true.

    http://whatever.scalzi.com/2013/03/19/stubenville-and-cnn-and-the-rest/#comment-451983

    She wouldn’t have been raped if the men hadn’t raped her. Everything else is you cherry picking your way through the past. You’re arguing “for want of a nail”

    For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
    For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
    For want of a horse the rider was lost.
    For want of a rider the message was lost.
    For want of a message the battle was lost.
    For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
    And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

    You’re arguing that the kingdom wouldn’t have been lost if the livery had shod the horse properly, and then turning it upside down by way of saying you’re offering “working solutions” whcih can only result in blaming the stable boy for losing the entire kingdom. It’s moronic. To quote you once again:

    that doesn’t change the fact that it wouldn’t have happened had she not put herself in the situation

    She wouldn’t have been raped if the men hadn’t raped her. Everything else is cherry picking history to try to reassign causation.

    When you want to reduce crime in a neighborhood in a short amount of time, you set up a neighborhood watch.

    Oh god. This is power tripping fantasy. The thing you fear in the world are things with more power than you. You alleviate that fear by acquiring more power than whatever it is you fear.

    There’s “working solution” all the way back in Deuteronomy 22:23-24: If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death—the young woman because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife. You must purge the evil from among you.

    Kill the rapist. And kill the woman because she was raped and didn’t scream. Purge them both as evil.

  367. Really, I think it blows my mind that:

    a) Anyone could really claim that they didn’t know what they did was wrong. Dude, don’t children get taught about Bad Touch and the importance of reporting anyone who does that to you to a safe adult? Basically they already should know what sexual assault is.

    What might be lacking is the logical jump that it could be perpetrated by anyone — even kids — who has any advantage over their victim. However, I don’t think lack of knowledge was the problem here because they described what they did as rape amongst themselves.

    b) Given that they obviously knew that what they did was rape, it’s mind blowing that they then are shocked/devastated to be tried and then found delinquent. Obviously they thought it was TOTALLY COOL to rape a human being who was incapacitated. Maybe because they thought she wouldn’t be in a position to report the “Bad Touch,” or more likely, they thought that their roles in the community would insulate them from their crimes.

    c) That anyone would be expected to be sympathetic to the criminal’s pain and anguish when they acted like sociopaths or at least privileged jerks who thought themselves above the law.

    Seriously, let’s stop pretending that these guys were anything less that juvenile delinquents without the moral sense not to commit crimes. What would people be saying if these jerks thought it would be fun to rob a convenience store or attack people walking down a dark street with a baseball bat? Poor kids, they didn’t know better? That’s okay, they made great plays last Friday night?

    But because they assaulted a young woman whose only crime was under-aged drinking they expected to get away with it. They had the power in that situation and instead of being good young men and good peers they decided to commit a crime. They committed “Bad Touch” It is the role of all adults not to go, “Well you shouldn’t sit on Uncle James’ lap” or “You shouldn’t drink from those cups, even if you want to fit in or even self-medicate in the company of your peers” but to report assault to the authorities.

  368. @Karina: I’m not ignoring it. I just don’t see the causation in that correlation. Do you really think that men don’t know that rape is wrong? There was plenty of evidence that these boys knew what they were doing was wrong, but there was a disconnect somewhere down the line where they didn’t think it applied to them because of who they were.

    @greg: I don’t see anything that you’ve posted that is supported by anything other than your own chest beating and conjecture. Calling something a myth and power tripping fantasy doesn’t add anything. You offer no solutions to preventing a rape.

  369. Kilroy there has been stealing, murder and drug abuse for all of history as well, should we just accept that people want to commit these crimes?

    See the drink driving example upthread, it is considered normal to stop a friend drink-driving now, surely it would be possible to change society so that there is peer support to prevent men raping women and girls? Even if its just so their lives aren’t ruined.

  370. “I don’t know how to eliminate the “rapist”

    Prevention from the victim’s standpoint doesn’t eliminate rape, either. Eliminating is most likely an impossible, but reducing frequency is a very possible outcome of better education all around, not strictly on the part of women.

    “Maybe teaching these boys that what they were doing fit the definition of rape would have made a difference, but based on the facts, it appears that they already knew that.”

    I disagree they knew they were committing rape. I think they didn’t have traditionally defined sex with her because they knew that would make them criminals, and they thought what they were doing was simply messing around. Perhaps they’re bigger sociopaths than anyone around them can see, but I think if they had known putting their fingers in her was no different than actually having sex with her, they’d have stuck with more traditional ways of messing with someone passed out drunk, like writing obsenities on her face. Still wrong, but not rape.

    “I don’t think it is possible to change a society to the extent that there will not exist the outliers that will rape when they see the opportunity.”

    Outliers are outliers, they’re going to rape regardless of laws, societal pressure, and basic human decency. These two, and the others partying around them, were not outliers. DeWine’s continuing investigation and the “friends don’t let friends rape” idea floated upthread have, I believe, a far better chance for success, either by making it clear to the next two young boys what’s going to get them branded with a scarlet “R” for the rest of their lives, or by letting the next group of partygoers know letting rape happen carries consequences.

  371. @bristolbookworm: of course we have to accept that people want to commit these crimes. it would be naive to think that there isn’t a segment of society that wants to do just that. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have laws to punish them or work to prevent being victimized by those people.

    I don’t see that drunk driving is any less of a problem today than it was 20 or 50 years ago. There are less deaths, but that has more to do with vehicle safety. So the whole drunk driving awareness is about successful as the “this is your brain on drugs” campaign.

  372. What kills me is that everyone talks about how women should “avoid” rape. Like that isn’t hammered into our heads from near infancy. Please.

    I remember being 10-11 years old and getting inappropriate comments from men when I happened to be out of sight of my parents for 2 minutes. Even though alarm bells rang – the “nice man” telling me I should smile to be prettier and come over to talk (even in a brightly lit place) was possibly not so nice. Would it have been my fault if instead of having the presence of mind to blush and walk away to his calls of “be nice, don’t be so rude” I had been a good girl and gone over? At best I’d be subjected to weird disturbing talk I was no way to able to process as a pre-teen.

    Now, the kick to the pants – imagine the conflicted feelings I have when I’m criticized for being rude by a lady walking by (he could just be lonely!!!). What do you think the chances are that I’d be blamed by her if I had “been nice” and he’d had the opportunity to do whatever he’d intended? 100%? We NEVER win. Bitches or whores seems to be the choice, even for 10 year olds.

    Every woman has stories like this. Every woman. I’ve never been raped or assaulted, but know I’ve probably only escaped it through luck and friends watching my drunk ass. Men expressing opinions like we don’t know what dangers we face… ARGH.

    Mistaken judgment of someone’s intentions on our part is NO excuse for anyone else’s behaviour. Women STILL are not mind readers. That guy set off my danger sensors – but then he was a stranger, paying particular attention to me. Not a trusted friend or family member like the majority of assault cases are. He was easier to spot. STILL I was criticized for not being a “good girl” and told that I should be polite to adults. It’s messed up.

  373. Killroy: You offer no solutions to preventing a rape.

    Neither do you. You’re blaming the victim. That’s all:

    it wouldn’t have happened had she not put herself in the situation

    This you assert to be a *fact*, but in reality its just your hypothetical guess based on your magical powers of reverse divination. You don’t predict the future. You “predict” alternate histories that never happenend, and then you assert that your alternate history prediction is the ONLY POSSIBLE OUTCOME. You are positioning yourself as an expert by way of asserting UNFALSIFIABLE assertions.

    it wouldn’t have happened had she not put herself in the situation

    Yeah? Really? How would anyone ever possibly FALSIFY this assertion? This is impossible to disprove, because it is mystical magical reverse divination bullshit being asserted as if it were scientific fact. You are deluding yourself and attempting to delude everyone else here that you know your make believe alternate history better than anyone else here. when the FACT is that you’re making it all up.

    Calling something a myth and power tripping fantasy doesn’t add anything.

    Youre “fact” as to how “it wouldn’t have happened had she not”???

    That’s a myth.

    It can’t be proven. It can’t be falsified. It can’t be disproven. You can only assert it as true and ignore when people point out that it is nothing more than reverse divination into a past that never happened.

    Talking about a past that never happend doesn’t add anything.

  374. “So the whole drunk driving awareness is about successful as the “this is your brain on drugs” campaign.”

    At the party that night, another attendee stole his friend’s car keys because he knew it was dangerous for the kid to get behind the wheel of a car, but later walked past the two rapists while they were violating this girl, without a thought what was happening was wrong.

  375. @mikes75: based on the number of times the word “rape” was said in the videotape and texts at the time this was all going on, I can’t agree that they didn’t know what they were doing was rape. And there is evidence including admissions that she was raped in the conventional meaning. I don’t disagree that “friend’s don’t let friends rape” type information can’t help, but by the logic of many upthread, that type of teaching is placing blame on the friends for not preventing the rape.

  376. Finally! A voice of reason and clarity. I honestly do not understand any person or organization, somehow thinking that it is OK to commit rape. It never, ever is. Ever. These boys are victims, all right. Of their own actions and should be held responsible. Period.

  377. @Kilroy – and putting your fingers in your ears shouting “la la la” won’t lead to understanding either, which is what you’re doing here. You continue to put the responsibility on women to prevent rape. Don’t know why that’s so important to you; I NEVER here these arguments when someone is mugged in a bad neighbourhood. The mugger still gets the same sentence.

    And no, I don’t believe it’s clear what constitutes rape, inappropriate touch, etc., to men – BECAUSE MANY MEN IN THEIR OWN WORDS SAY THEY DIDN’T KNOW IT WAS WRONG. Or at least not THAT wrong. Public shaming campaigns work in those cases, like it has tranformed opinions about driving while intoxicated (although I see you dispute that too…. sigh).

  378. @Karina: Nowhere have I mentioned “fault” and “blame”. Talking about prevention is not “fault” or “blame”. Talking about prevention is not criticizing.

    @greg: Fine. You’re right. Her rape was inevitable. Women should do nothing but accept that fate. Is that what you are arguing for?

  379. @Kilroy, Yes, they knew it was wrong. They just thought they wouldn’t get caught, and even then, if they were caught, nothing would happen. As Laura Resnick points out, there is very strong evidence that this has happened before and no one did anything about it and that in this case there was an active attempt to cover it up. Rape is not just an ‘opportunity’ crime, it is a crime that is all about power – the asserting of it and the taking of it. It is a crime that has been passed off for decades, centuries, as a ‘boys will be boys’ sort of thing. It is a result of a culture that rewards young men for their ‘conquests’ while shaming women for being ‘conquered.’ (a double standard that is so blindingly stupid that one has to wonder how it has persisted for so long).

    Bottom line, the thing most people forget about crime is that most criminals are pretty sure they are going to get away with it. As a cop friend of mine likes to remind me (and she worked vice for a long time) a criminal mastermind is a rare thing, most often found in fiction. Most criminals are not that bright and/OR they have a belief in their own immunity to being caught – or in this case being held responsible, something that apparently was bolstered by this community. Which is sickening.

  380. I am halfway on the adult/juvenile were they/were they not self-aware continuum here. I think Mikes75 has a point, though some of the reports seem to contradict his opinion. I think there is a lot of “theater” in adolescence, trying out roles, speaking lines you don’t completely understand or feel. So I think we may be over-reading the sociopathy, at least at the individual level, particularly for all the bystanders and social media supporters of the criminals. I think it is more chilling that these are the lines they were reading; these were the roles they were rehearsing for. On the bright side, with some effort, you can probably still change who these kids are. It’s not a big window, but I don’t think it’s completely closed yet either.

  381. I’m not ignoring it. I just don’t see the causation in that correlation. Do you really think that men don’t know that rape is wrong?

    Given the body of evidence, that men frequently don’t think date rape is rape, yes, I do think that.

    And you ARE ignoring the evidence.

  382. Kilroy:

    I’m not sure exactly what should be said about the boys. I don’t see anyone defending them. Maybe lamenting their stupidity and lack of morals instilled in them, but not defending.

    Dude, John’s ENTIRE POST that PROPMTED this discussion was about how the media has been defending the boys and saying that we should have sympathy for how harsh a sentence they’re getting.

  383. @Karina: People are responsible for their own actions. Women have a responsibility to prevent rape. Men have a responsibility to prevent rape. Men have a responsibility for not raping.

    You don’t hear that about muggings? You’ve never been warned not to go to certain areas of big cities at nights? And sure the mugger gets the same sentence. I don’t understand your comment about the mugger getting the same sentence though. I don’t think anyone is arguing that the boys should or did get a lighter sentence based on anything the girl did or didn’t do.

  384. Or at least not THAT wrong. Public shaming campaigns work in those cases, like it has tranformed opinions about driving while intoxicated (although I see you dispute that too…. sigh).

    Like I said, ignoring the evidence.

  385. Women have a responsibility to prevent rape.

    So why are you so convinced that the person in this case didn’t undertake that responsibility?

  386. Greg:
    I think there’s another dynamic as well, one that Ta-Nehisi Coates did a very good job of bringing out: a definition of masculinity as absolute control, and a feeling (stemming from those first, overwhelming adolescent experiences of sexual desire) that women are a threat to that.

    Masculinity’s central tenet is control—and perhaps most importantly, control of the body. Nothing contradicts that edict like erections. It unmans you, it compels you through sensations you scarcely understand. And it threatens to expose you, to humiliates you, in front of everyone. Laugh now at the boy at the middle school dance, who gets an erection on the slow number (God help him if he has orgasm.) But he does not forget that laughter, nor does he forget what prompted it.

    Coates isn’t discussing it as something that should be a legitimate justification for misogyny, or for the kind of entitled re-assertion of control that leads adolescent boys to treat their female contemporaries as sex dolls. He’s more identifying it as another one of those base impulses that we have to overcome to be real adults, like our desire to have the next new shiny or eat all the chocolate.

    His description feels right to me, and I wonder if it’s part of what we need to address and understand when we talk to our sons and our male contemporaries about consent, control, desire, and how a grown man should deal with them.

  387. Women have a responsibility to prevent rape.

    Which means? Staying at home? Not dressing the way they like? Not visiting the places they want, the time of day they want?

    That’s the easy way out of the problem, simply judging women responsible for being raped. I’m bewildered.

  388. Kilroy:

    Remove yourself from the thread, please. At this point you’re not helping the conversation, and I don’t think it’s clear to you how much you continue to look like you want to make this all about the girl (and women in general), and how much that looks like victim-blaming. Best if you sit the rest of this one out.

    Everyone:

    Deep, cleansing breaths, please.

  389. @ Kilroy – Ok, everyone has reponsibility. WHy are you ONLY foucussed on the woman? Despite being repeatedly told that WE KNOW ALL THAT ALREADY. It’s time to place the focus on men.

    Wow, and really, you didn’t get my point about mugging? Where are the 400 commenters saying “you shouldn’t have been there” when someone says they were mugged in a bad part of town? Where is the deflection of blame from the mugger to the muggee? WHere are the comparisons to a runaway train?

    However, when it comes to rape, the “you shouldn’t have been there” point and such ALWAYS comes out.

  390. Also, as I’ve told Kilroy to take a rest from the thread, it’s best to hold off posting any additional responses to him at this point. I may snip out additional ones from here on out. Thanks.

  391. I agree 100 percent. If human beings are no more than animals who rape whenever they get the chance, then I should practically expect my husband to force sex on me every time we sleep in the same bed. Yet, he never has. Shocking! Also, the sheer sexism – toward both genders – of that argument pisses me off. The “boys will be boys” view of this situation basically says that men are poor, pitiful slaves of their sexuality and we shouldn’t be surprised when they to act out by committing rape. Men are more than their sexuality, and women are more than sex toys.

  392. [Deleted — Kilroy, look above to where I told you to take a break from the thread, please. You are perfectly free to comment in other threads on the site, however. — JS]

  393. Kilroy

    In Britain in the early 1980’s drunk driving was responsible for a third of driving fatalities; now it is responsible for around a fifth.The reduction in the proportion has nothing to do with better cars, since everyone has better cars.

    There is incontrovertible evidence that the campaign against drunk driving has saved a lot of lives; I see no reason why you should dispute it, other than the fact that you are desperately trying to find ways of blaming the victims of rape instead of trying to reduce the incidence of rape.

  394. You know, when people say “they knew it was rape, look at all those “rape” texts”, I kind of wonder if they reallio-trullio did know it was rape. Witness the example of the guy who says “that door totally raped my shirt” when his shirt got ripped. “Rape”, apparently, doesn’t always mean rape. I am absolutely not minimizing what they did; I’m just saying that something like Vancouver’s ad campaign might have been able to reach them. Because while they were certainly rapists, I honestly don’t know if they actually knew that.

    All of which is to say, why the HELL don’t we have big national flashy campaigns like that here? The drunk driving campaign worked on those kids, as witness the car key stealing incident. Maybe a Vancouver “don’t be that guy” campaign might have worked, too. But we’ll never know. Because nobody did one.

  395. These boys raped because they thought it was okay. They thought it was okay because they have heard for their whole lives people just like Kilroy saying “a girl shouldn’t get drunk if she doesn’t want to get raped.” It should not be a surprise to anyone that they thought the corollary was true, “any girl who gets drunk wants to get raped.” Or at least “any girl that gets drunk has surrendered her right to complain if she gets raped.” They thought getting drunk WAS consent. That is why they didn’t think they were doing anything “really” wrong. That’s why they are so shocked to be found guilty of rape. They thought it was okay to rape a drunk because that’s what they hear every time someone says, “but wasn’t she partially responsible?”

    That’s why people like me want people like Kilroy to stop talking about what Jane Doe could have done to avoid getting raped. Every time someone says that it reinforces the idea that some women it is okay to rape. Because they could have avoided it if they’d wanted to.

    Does that mean we can’t teach our kids about sexual predators? No. It means that when we teach our kids about sexual predators we should be more careful to make sure they aren’t getting the wrong message. That’s what we need to talk about.

  396. ” It means that when we teach our kids about sexual predators we should be more careful to make sure they aren’t getting the wrong message.”

    Yes! And part of that is explaining how easily they can end up on a sex offender registry themselves. Speaking as a former teenage boy (years back), and the father of a boy who’s going to be a teenager someday (*shudder*), it is impossible to underestimate how stupid teenage boys can be. It’s why we’re so poleaxed whenever a seemingly “nice boy” with a “bright future” ends up in handcuffs.

  397. You know, when people say “they knew it was rape, look at all those “rape” texts”, I kind of wonder if they reallio-trullio did know it was rape. Witness the example of the guy who says “that door totally raped my shirt” when his shirt got ripped. “Rape”, apparently, doesn’t always mean rape. I am absolutely not minimizing what they did; I’m just saying that something like Vancouver’s ad campaign might have been able to reach them. Because while they were certainly rapists, I honestly don’t know if they actually knew that.

    Or maybe they previously knew what rape meant on an intellectual level, but these campaigns bring it down to an emotional level as they try to instill more empathy for the victim. That’s certainly not being taught very well in the current culture.

    These boys raped because they thought it was okay. They thought it was okay because they have heard for their whole lives people just like Kilroy saying “a girl shouldn’t get drunk if she doesn’t want to get raped.” It should not be a surprise to anyone that they thought the corollary was true, “any girl who gets drunk wants to get raped.” Or at least “any girl that gets drunk has surrendered her right to complain if she gets raped.” They thought getting drunk WAS consent. That is why they didn’t think they were doing anything “really” wrong. That’s why they are so shocked to be found guilty of rape. They thought it was okay to rape a drunk because that’s what they hear every time someone says, “but wasn’t she partially responsible?”

    Yeah, I think that gets closer to it. If ALL THEY HEAR about is the “responsibility” of the victim, they may not think about the perpetrator because they’re not being talked about. And because the perpetrator isn’t being talked about, they aren’t as likely to make the cognitive leap to compare their own behavior to rapists.

  398. Folks:

    It’s bad form to talk about someone I asked to leave the thread, because they’re not able to respond. Please table that particular discussion.

  399. [First part of the post deleted because it’s responding to Kilroy and we’re long past the time where cross-posting happens — JS]

    Abi: a feeling (stemming from those first, overwhelming adolescent experiences of sexual desire) that women are a threat to that.

    I must confess that Ta-Nehisi Coates’ definition of masculinity is a bit… alien… to me. At least it isn’t how I ever identified with my masculinity. But maybe I’m an outlier.

    I think there is an even simpler and more direct explanation when it comes to adolescents: The impulses they feel are impulses that feel external to them. They never felt them before and suddenly they’re feeling them NOW. So the impulses get externalized. And much of society seems to be designed to repress these sort of impulses. So the impulses get externalized. Disassociated. And the moment kids externalize their impulses, kids are no longer responsible for their impulses.

    The morality of the very young is simply: “If it feels good to me, it’s OK”. Most people eventually grow out of this to some degree or another. But the how and when of when this growing happens is in part a function of the culture, the mythologies, the stories, and the models of the world that people can grow into.

    as models go, as far as I can tell, there appears to be two possibilities: “Don’t rape” or “Don’t get raped”. Much of history seems to be based on “don’t get raped”. The Deuteronomy verse I quoted above said to execute the rapist and rape victim alike saying both are evil and must be purged. Medusa was turned into a monster because she was a rape victim. Hades kidnapped and raped Persophene and the Gods let him keep her.

    Much of this mythology seems to be little more than an expression of our evolutionary drives, justified in morality tales. The drive to reproduce is justified to the point that rape is acceptable. Zeus just can’t help himself. Poseidon just can’t help himself. The male fear that his wife might get pregnant from another man and the husband doesn’t get to propagate his DNA gets justified to the point that having sex with another man, even if it is rape, justifies your execution.

    We need better myths. We need better stories for kids to grow into, and for adults to live by.

  400. Hope

    I think that part of the problem is that adults, who should have been the people educating youngsters about this, had themselves signed up to the whole sick culture; it looks as if the belief that the football coach was going to get them out of any trouble was a contributory factor in making the boys believe that they were above the law.

    Equally, the arrest of two girls who had made death threats against the victim on the web most probably came as a huge surprise to the girls in question; they thought they were above the law as well.

    The most recent comment that I can find about the CNN reporter who helped to precipitate this is that she is outraged by the criticism; I suppose that at some point she may explain the basis for her outrage but until then I would provisionally include her amongst the adults who should have known better than to encourage rapists to view themselves as injured innocents…

  401. @Katy Bug: You are so right! If we talk about all men as potential rapists, that’s nothing less than sexism. It must be extremely hurtful for a man to hear that all the time. And it is of course a lukewarm excuse to change nothing at all.

  402. With this case and other examples of crime discussed in this thread there’s a theme that only the insane, criminal and evil are capable of committing acts like this. As John mentioned about that there is somehow a difference between predators and people. It’s incredibly frightening to think that “normal” people are capable of incredibly bad acts. Like with the Sandy Hook shooting and the resultant debate about guns and personal safety. There were people arguing that good guys had to protect themselves from “bad guys.”

    But life isn’t a fantasy novel and most of the evil in the world is perpetrated by us. Educating young people about rape, consent and respect would go a long way towards helping regular people do the right thing. “Better angels of our nature” and all that.

    Tl;dr? I think education works.

  403. I reread the initial posting. I’m in agreement with 99% of what is said, the only thing I come back to is “separate and independent”. I can’t see that. If I go to the gym, I lock up my valuables, if I run a business I install security cameras, cash register, etc. I have some of the responsibility of making sure bad things don’t happen to me. That doesn’t mean I deserve something bad to happen to me if I don’t do those things, just that they are easy things I can identify to help limit the possibility that I am targeted. I don’t want this statement taken to the extreme, you shouldn’t go through airport security every time you enter a store, but simple precaution can decrease the likelihood of bad things happening. Perhaps I’m being too nit-picky on an otherwise very well composed piece.

  404. Justin

    I agree; one of the most common excuses for doing nothing is that you can never prevent all crimes.

    The people propounding that excuse would probably be unhappy if their doctors told them that, whilst they had pneumonia, they didn’t propose to treat them for it because even with treatment some people with pneumonia will still die…

  405. Well, shoot. My html tags went and borked themselves. Apologies.

    @Mythbri: Just want to let you know I noticed your use of that particular verb in this particular discussion. Good show.

  406. The mind is a dangerous thing, a two-edged sword. It allows us to experience and reflect on existence, drawing deep truths as a result. It also entices us to wallow in self-centered obsession as an evolutionary byproduct of survival. On the one hand there is the selfless wonder that can take ones breath away, and on the other hand is the objectification of ego that can finely focus into a perspective so hardened it seemingly disappears from ones ‘view’. Both aspects are vital to our existence, but there has to be balance. Lose that and one can lose ones humanity.

  407. I want to respect our gracious host’s wish that we speak respectfully to each other, but god damn. Several of the men on here are a massive disappointment (albeit being common in the commonest of ways.)

    Being male myself, I really can’t comprehend a women’s perspective on this – or more precisely, I can’t simulate her lived experience no matter now many times I mansplain it to myself or to her.

    But at the least, I can listen, and listen some more, and do my best to empathize.

    Be that as it may: as a Sentient Human Being from Earth, I am FULLY capable of understanding that if I’m at a party and someone smashes me in the face with a baseball bat – or sexually assaults me – and ANY PART of the response of the police or observers is “well, what were you wearing?” or “why were you out when other men were around? don’t you know men can get violent?” or “well, were you drinking” or “if you’d worn this / done that / tried X, Y, Z it wouldn’t have happened” – that would be some eff the effed up victim-blaming bullshit.

    In terms of the level of moral depravity, what these two “good boys” did – and let’s be real, what’s really going on here is that “good” means “conventional” plus “good at throwing or catching a ball” – is on the order of beating a weaker kid with a baseball bat until he was unconscious, and then leaving him in the street to die (or not, who cares).

    Or torturing to death an animal. And then putting the photos on Facebook.

    You hear about this, and you dare ask whether the survivor was drinking? Shame!

    Examine your priorities, bros.

    I’ve had to school some dudebros before on this board who swear up and down their creepy I’m-gonna-stand-too-close-to-you-cause-I-like-you-like-me-too-pleaseplease behavior is, in fact, creepy. They always argue that their frightening and malignant behavior isn’t *really* frightening and malignant, that women are over-reacting.

    Missing entirely the point that whether someone else is frightened is not your decision to make.

    I would be the opposite of shocked to learn that these same brofriends are the ones who are arguing today that a woman should know a rapist on sight.

  408. andrew: I have some of the responsibility of making sure bad things don’t happen to me.

    ooooooh….

    This is the “just universe” myth, and I didn’t recognize it until now.

    The myth basically says: Bad things don’t happen to good people. If something bad happens to you, then you must be (1) bad or at the very least (2) not doing enough to prevent the bad things from happening.

    This is the moral world of Aesop’s fables. The Ants and the Grasshopper. Lazy grasshopper, hardworking ants. And only the grasshopper starves to death.

    We see this myth show up when a gunman goes on a suicidal rampage. And the “just universe” myth argues that it wouldn’t have happened if everyone just had a gun.

    The issue simply boils down to an individual who can’t be with the sorrow of tragedy and has to either justify it away (the victim deserved it somehow) or busy themselves with “working solutions” (If women just did “blah”, then I wouldn’t have to deal with these bad feelings I’m having now about them being raped)

    Either way, the “Just Universe” myth gives a certain kind of conversation in response to real world events that doesn’t fully account for the real world…. because the real world isn’t a “Just Universe”.

  409. That doesn’t mean I deserve something bad to happen to me if I don’t do those things

    That, right there, is the separate and independent our host was referring to. coming from the position of “it’s my own fault I didn’t lock up my wallet” is not an excuse for someone to steal my wallet, and the fact it was easier to steal my wallet doesn’t make it less than theft.

  410. andrewpeterson27:

    “I have some of the responsibility of making sure bad things don’t happen to me.”

    Andrew, no one is responsible for a rape but the rapist. Seriously, stop trying to palm off the responsibility for that onto the woman. No amount of analogy is going to change that fact that when you do that you are ultimately blaming the woman for being raped.

    Also, you’re either ignoring or missing my earlier post where I told people in the thread not to take the conversational route you’re taking. Please heed it. Thank you.

  411. “Banks wouldn’t get robbed if they just didn’t keep all that money there.”

    “There wouldn’t be any car thieves if people wouldn’t insist on parking their cars in public.”

    These statements make just about as much sense as victim blaming for rape. Banks and drivers DO take anti-crime measures, they have alarm systems, sometimes even live guards, they lock up, and lock down and they STILL get ripped off. This is not because they didn’t do what they could to protect their goods, it’s because someone decided to commit a crime. Someone who knew it was both wrong and illegal. And it’s just as stupid to blame a rape victim as it would be to “blame” a bank that got robbed.

    We all see banks and cars every day, and yet most of us manage not to rob banks or steal cars. We may entertain the urge, but we restrain our behavior. In fact, most of us don’t behave badly in the face of massively provocative behavior. I have had my wallet, left behind on a counter at a store, returned to me intact, including cash, twice. I once found an envelope containing $5000 in unsigned money orders at a time when I really needed money…and I returned it to the bank the MOs were drawn on. So bad behavior isn’t inevitable, even in cases where the provocation is extreme.

    “They couldn’t help themselves because she X, Y or Z” is so much bullshit.

    I’ve been thinking about this “Can’t help themselves” argument, along with the “Sex is a powerful natural urge” where rape is confused with sex. I started thinking about other powerful natural urges we get.

    One is vomiting. Sometimes you make it to the bathroom, sometimes you throw up in the Japanese minister’s lap. At some point, this is an urge that no one can resist. But we don’t necessarily blame the person who gets vomited on. Maybe if they fed the toddler cotton candy before the roller-coaster ride, or deliberately served bad crab, but otherwise, not. We recognize that vomiting is an urge that cannot be controlled in every case, and people who do urp pretty much are forgiven, as are their victims.

    The other strong natural urge is taking a shit. Hold it in long enough, or have a strong enough diarrhea, and it’s gonna happen. But I guarantee that you’ve never seen anyone over the age of 4 take down their pants in the living room and take a shit. People either make it to the bathroom or they crap their pants. So no matter how strong the urge, this is behavior that CAN be controlled. If someone DID crap in public (homeless people excepted) they would be ostracized and held entirely responsible for their behavior. Those left with the mess would be entirely innocent, and not expected to have had any idea that Sir Thomas Crapper was about to visit.

    So are we going to liken rape to vomiting, or taking a shit, in the sense that it is behavior that either can or cannot be controlled? I submit that since it always requires conscious thought and interaction with people and objects around the rapist, it is more like taking a shit. Anyone should be able to take the URGE to rape and choose not to, just like they take the URGE to shit and head for the bathroom. A potential rapist can choose to leave the situation, or turn to other behavior or just sit there. The urge may be initiated by circumstances of the victim’s presence, appearance, or condition, but the behavior is ALWAYS and ONLY the responsibility of the rapist. We all know (or should) that the urge can also come entirely from within, and nothing a victim could do is “enough” to prevent that urge from arising. The urge is beyond the control of the victim(s). The *behavior* though, is under the control of the rapist, who can become “not a rapist” very easily, by not raping.

    Even if the victim, male or female, is naked, passed out, covered in money, or whatever. And any argument that “She should have known better” or “it wouldn’t have happened if she wasn’t there/wasn’t drunk/wasn’t female” are just so much hogwash. She didn’t do it. They did.

  412. @Greg, I don’t see this as the just universe myth at all. I lock my car doors, why, because it’ll prevent some casual theft. Someone can still smash my windows in and take what they want, but someone who’s just walking down the street checking doors will had to walk by mine. I am making it more difficult for someone else to make me a victim.

  413. I have seen, so many times, the lists of things that women do (not even consciously!) to make themselves safer, or at least feel safer.

    Without fail, every time one of those lists is posted in a public forum, there is at LEAST one comment accusing the poster of paranoia and of saying that all people (specifically men) are not trustworthy. They (condescendingly) say that they feel sorry for the poster, that they live in such fear all the time.

    And then if that fear is ever justified, it’s because women aren’t cautious enough.

    Don’t you see that this is not a winning strategy?

  414. @Andrewpeterson27. Sigh. OK… I think you’re coming from a decent place. The thing is, women hear those messages ALL THE TIME and EVERY TIME a news story is reported about rape. There are so many messages, many mixed, to women about how to avoid rape. We’ve reached a saturation point.

    Reasonable precautions are not 100% prevention; I can lock my locker and someone can come by with a simple towel and yank it off and steal my stuff. My 5′ nothing lock is not as strong even as a man’s 5′ towel.

    The problem, as has been pointed out to you repeatedly, that the second point, that the man is ENTIRELY responsible when he rapes a woman, is very much lost. It’s always minimized or excused. There’s ALWAYS an element of why was she there, did she lead him on, was she really drunk, etc. HER very legal actions are scrutinized more than his criminal ones. This gives the very clear message that he’s less to blame than she is for HIS actions.

    I don’t think you mean to be a rape apologist, but you are acting like one. Please stop.

  415. @mythbri

    And then if that fear is ever justified, it’s because women aren’t cautious enough.

    Exactly. This is why I posit that the creep-defenders and the victim-blamers are one group.

    Their position appears to be: please interpret my creepy stalky behavior as the irresistibly romantic overture that it so clearly is. But around other men, cage yourself in fear, lest I be forced (reluctantly, natch) to judge you when you are assaulted.

  416. Blaming the victim means nothing less than to apply double standards. Women as potential victims should deliberately limit their freedom, while everyone else could just do what he pleases?

  417. Yes! And part of that is explaining how easily they can end up on a sex offender registry themselves. Speaking as a former teenage boy (years back), and the father of a boy who’s going to be a teenager someday (*shudder*), it is impossible to underestimate how stupid teenage boys can be.

    Well, I agree up to a point. It’s not entirely facetious to say childhood and adolescence is form of narcissistic personality disorder most people (more or less) grow out off. The process begins the moment a toddler begins to grok that pitching a tantrum isn’t a reliable way to get what you want in life. “Actions have real and lasting consequences,” is a very simple idea. But like most very simple ideas, people are very good at complicating them in the most self-serving manner.

  418. I know it’s been said over and over and over again, but women are AWARE that we live in a society that’s dangerous for us. We really, truly are, and we always will be. Education campaigns aimed at potential sex offenders are not going to change that. We are still going to be careful, and we are still going to teach our daughters to be careful, because we are not STUPID.

    But we are human. We make mistakes. We do the things that humans do. We take a shortcut because we’re late, we have a drink or two with friends. We don’t spend every minute in a perpetual state of siege, fully aware we’re in a war zone, hiding behind locked doors with our hand on the trigger of a handgun because a person can’t do that and stay sane. We also have our lives to live.

    And yet, every time something bad happens to any of us, people start coming out of the woodwork to tell us that we SHOULD live like that — that we have to live every minute of our lives like soldiers in a war zone or we share responsibility with the criminal for any bad thing that happens to us.

    Here is one author’s recent post talking about the damage that living in constant danger does to the human psyche. (Under completely different circumstances, but I think it applies here.) This is what women are told our lives are supposed to be like. This is what we’re told is supposed to be “normal” for us. And when we push back and say, no, our lives do NOT have to be like that, we can get men to shoulder the burden too, we can educate them so they know better, and prosecute those who do terrible things, and treat these crimes seriously rather than making them the victim’s fault — then we’re told that we’re not taking responsibility for ourselves, because it’s our responsibility to prevent these things. What do you think we are already doing?!

  419. @sturmfrau

    Women as potential victims should deliberately limit their freedom, while everyone else could just do what he pleases?

    Well yeah, duh! I mean I totally lock my door at night. Women should, like, totally lock the door to their ladyparts. I mean, if you leave the door open, who knows what might happen? – self-styled “sensitive/sensible” dude

    It’s funny/tragic how much dudespeak boils down to “you should go to the most comprehensive, soul-crushing lengths to limit anyone’s access to your person. Except when ‘anyone’ is me.”

  420. “”Reasonable precautions are not 100% prevention; I can lock my locker and someone can come by with a simple towel and yank it off and steal my stuff. My 5′ nothing lock is not as strong even as a man’s 5′ towel.””

    Uhg! Here’s that 100% thing again which boils down to, “If it ain’t perfect then it’s useless”.

  421. Greg

    The ‘just universe’ myth is a useful idea in trying to sort out why the CNN reporter behaved in the way that she did; it’s far easier to come up with explanations for the behaviour of the local girls who made death threats on the web. They live in a community which apparently has nothing to feel good about beyond the school football team, and therefore will defend it to the point of threatening the life of anyone who might contribute to the school football team losing; one would have assumed that a CNN reporter had somewhat wider horizons.

    I am keenly aware that I’ve spent the last thirty years living in the centre of London, which is one of the biggest cities in the world, and therefore have zilch in the way of experience of places like Steubenville. However, I do not believe that Steubenville typifies every small town in the USA; I may be biased by John’s description of his home but I am still hopeful that there are many schools which teach their students to be better than this…

  422. Uhg! Here’s that 100% thing again which boils down to, “If it ain’t perfect then it’s useless”.

    Quite and le sigh. New Zealand is far from a perfect place if you’re GLBT, but am I grateful I live in a country where the law says I can’t lose my job, be thrown out of my apartment or thrown in prison (or beaten to death with impunity) simply because I’m openly gay? EVERY FRAKING DAY, SWEETIE DARLINGS. EVERY EVERY DAY…. There’s an old saying that you should never let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and that’s the world I have to live in.

  423. “one would have assumed that a CNN reporter had somewhat wider horizons.”

    Unfortunately, too many reporters on CNN or otherwise, only seem to have two operating speeds: a. Stunned reaction to tragic events or b. righteous indignation. This reporter went for a. because she didn’t want people to think she was cold or harsh by going for b.

  424. @Jim.

    Here’s that 100% thing again which boils down to, “If it ain’t perfect then it’s useless”.

    No. It boils down to: “your ‘solutions’ are not novel. Please innovate.”

    Get over it. Your advice has been heard and adhered to since the first man creeped on the first woman, and yet – shockingly – the problem of sexual violence persists. It’s time for men to take a little responsibility. You shouldn’t need a woman to pull a gun on you to prevent you from attacking her, and neither should anyone you know. Even more importantly: it’s unfair and unreasonable of you to request that she carry a gun or abandon her life if such is hateful or frightening or inconvenient or distasteful or she just plain doesn’t want to. Capisce?

    Similarly, it is not yours to grant permission where and when women may be seen in public or congregate with friends. They are quite aware of the dangers they face. Look to your own well-being, and examine the behavior of your “friendly” male friends. Rain shame and ridicule down upon the bad actors among them. Devote to it the same passion that you have devoted to critiquing the victim of this heinous assault. Just as you have not hesitated to second-guess and criticize her despite the fact that she is a child and was set upon and overpowered by a mob, do not hesitate to counsel your male friends to self-policing.

    In doing so, you’re likely prevent more rapes than a gun or a curfew “for the ladies” ever will.

  425. @Jim – I was responding to a commentor who seemed to think that yes, reasonable precautions WOULD prevent rape. That appeared to be the gist of his argument. Trust me, women are extremely aware this is not true, as has been said ad nauseum in this thread.

    Still have no idea why you seem to think women as so stupid we haven’t internalized these messages we’ve been hearing since any of us can remember. It’s time for men to take responsibility, not minimize rape by picking apart what the woman could have done differently.

  426. cranapia,

    I’m quite aware that the GLBT community faces an implacable wall of hate and violence. Also, I am very impressed by the actions they have taken as groups and individuals to overcome the hate. And most of all, I am happy that they seem to be winning a lot of battles. It’s not perfect progress, but it’s so much better than the way it was.

  427. Jim

    From a woman’s perspective, the simple reality of life is that we are inundated by people telling us what we should do in order to prevent ourselves being raped.

    Many of those things contradict each other but that doesn’t stop people from telling us we should do them anyway.

    If you scroll up the thread you will find a very, very, very long list of what we should do, and I commend it to you because reading it may give you some idea of why women grow tired of being told what we should do to prevent ourselves being raped, and why we wonder why no-one ever puts together a list of things which men should do to prevent them raping people…

  428. Okay…so…I have read all the comments. All of them. Over the past few days. The Steubenville story…also my story. Not entirely. There wasn’t social media or digital recording devices. There was only 1 guy. There was more than digital penetration. Much more. I was at a party. I was drunk. I found a bed. I fell asleep. I woke up to someone having sex with me.

    And for the past 16 years I have struggled with this. My life…pretty much ruined in terms of trusting other men. Especially men who can overpower me. Because I did know the guy. And I knew that he was interested in me. And the more I tell of the story, the more ammunition you have against me. To tell me I was the cause of my own rape. And because we give women so many instructions on how they should behave, the scared child still living in me kind of believes it. Or maybe has a need to believe it. That if I had just done more, been on my guard all the time, I never would have been vulnerable and eventually he would have given up and moved on to an easier target. That it was my fault. Because that’s the only way that scared child can make sense of what happened.

    And if you believe that it was my fault…I’m not sure that there’s much I can do to help you. Not help you understand you’re wrong, or agree with a different position, but to actually help you as a human being. As someone pointed out earlier, this is a manifestation of the just universe theory. And living by that mentality is very painful, because eventually something will happen to you that you don’t deserve, and you will find a way to convince yourself that you do, and spend the rest of your life seeking a way to make yourself somehow “better” because you deserved that wrong done to you. I lived that way for a long time. And it only serves to make you feel like you will never, ever be good enough.

    The best analogy I have for this is being injured in a car accident where the other driver ran a red light and, because you were not wearing a seat belt, you go through the windshield. You were breaking the law. The other driver was breaking the law. But, unlike rape, while you didn’t take all the proper precautions, people aren’t saying it’s your fault. You still get empathy, medical care, and the righteous on your side, and no one looks at you and says “well, you weren’t behaving with every safety measure in place, so you deserved what you got.” And, because of missing that one precaution, your consequences were far greater and life-long, while the other guy gets to walk away. But, in the car accident, usually there are some penalties.

    I’m relieved for the Steubenville verdict. Because it does state very clearly that what happened to me was a crime. And I’m glad to see so many people say “not her fault” because I have been afraid for so long of being told that it was my fault. So, thank you to all that have said “not her fault.” Some healing has been accomplished for someone who reads this blog regularly. And I hope the young woman has the support she needs to face the incredibly difficult times she will have coming.

  429. @Me Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing. Painful and so eloquent.

    @andrewpeterson27, Jim, and other well-meaning woman-cautioners, read Me’s comment. Read it again. Think about the broader implications of relentlessly pointing out the victim’s decision to drink.

  430. Is it possible for the victim to be raped without a rapist? No. 100% of the fault for the action is on the rapist. Is it possible for the rapist to rape someone who isn’t there? No. No one deserves rape, nothing done or not done by someone should result in rape. From what I’ve read, the main objection to this comment is not that it’s true, it’s that it’s already said too much. Reading more on the coverage of this case, I would have to agree. Although my exposure to rape media coverage is very limited. I can understand why coverage like this would piss someone off. Especially if you have as personal a connection to the event as others here are posting.

  431. @ Jim:

    I’m quite aware that the GLBT community faces an implacable wall of hate and violence.

    Well, good of you to notice. But while I’m thankful for the all the advances, should I now shut up and stop banging on about the real homophobia that still exists in this world? Should I be telling my non-cis drag queen, butch dyke and trans friends to “take personal responsibility” and “stop making themselves a target” for gay-bashers and homophobic abuse by not leaving their homes unless they’re suitably ‘straight-acting’ and dressed in a “gender-appropriate” way? Or do we just accept that they’re not the problem here, and we all need to keep doing the slow, hard work towards a society that genuinely doesn’t tolerate homophobia in any way, shape for form.

    I’ll save you some time: The only correct answers to the above questions are “No”, “No” and “Yes”. In that order, and no qualification required or desired. Please consider very carefully whether a similar approach to rape culture is in order.

  432. Haven’t read the comments yet. Don’t think I want to, either.

    Rape, like other forms of assault, is not about sex. It’s about asserting power over someone weaker in a manner that will inflict the most harm for the longest time. I wish more people would admit to that. Here are definitions for various types of violence in story form. Modern fairy tales, if you will. Fables about violence.

    Sexual Assault: “It’s too bad that man raped a woman. She shouldn’t have made herself a target by showing her self-confidence and assuming she was safe.”

    Battery: It’s too bad that man beat that woman. She only wanted to hang out with her friends at a party.

    Murder: It’s too bad that man killed that woman. She shouldn’t have upset him.

    Theft: It’s too bad that man robbed that woman. She had more than he thought she needed or deserved.

    Vehicular Assault: It’s too bad that woman wasn’t a better driver. She could have avoided the man who ran her off the road because he was mad about something.

  433. Andrew: no, a rapist cannot rape someone who isn’t there. And there will always be someone who is there, or failing that someone will be found. If this girl had been more careful, you would be criticizing somebody else for not being careful enough. So tell me, please, what problem are you trying to solve here?

  434. I’m going to focus primarily on the way CNN reported the conviction and sentencing. I think most of the others (with certain exceptions) posting in this thread, particularly the ladies, have expressed all the thoughts I have about the rape itself and did so far more eloquently than I could ever hope to.

    Watching the way the CNN reporter gushes over these rapists made my skin crawl. Not just what they said, which was bizarre enough, but how they said it. The tone varied from admiring (their school records) to compassionate (their reactions to being sentenced), as if what happened to these boys was some horrid tragedy rather than justice for their own conscious and knowing actions. They open the segment with comments about how emotional it was in the court, how moving those emotions were, how people cried openly. A normal person would naturally conclude that they were talking about the victim’s emotions at finally seeing justice done after her long and harrowing ordeal. A normal person would be wrong. Completely.

    In a segment slightly over 6 minutes long the victim is mentioned twice (maybe three times) and only in passing. Even when they do mention her, they immediately bring it back to these rapists. They go on and on about how their lives are ruined and how they broke down in tears and (Oh, it’s awful!) how this will “haunt them for the rest of their lives” because they are now registered sex offenders. They heap compassion on these rapists, but don’t even bother with the victim except in conjunction with her attackers. I was baffled as how any remotely experienced journalist could think this was a good way to cover a rape trial. And the legal expert! His tone about being registered sex offenders came across as vaguely condemning of the whole concept. As if it was ‘adding insult to injury’. No significant mention about how this girl, whose identity is known in the community, will have to continue to deal with the harassment of her peers for daring to stopping their “fun” and putting their friends behind bars. She’s barely mentioned at all.

    Oh, and the apologies? I don’t think so. Mays only apologizes for sending the pictures (he might have apologized for taking them, but I can’t make it out for sure and in any case it would have been AFTER apologizing for sending them). Not for raping a passed out girl, but for sending pictures of her naked. That attitude and view of the world screams “I’d probably do it again” and is exactly why we have a sex offender registry in the first place. As for Richmond, I’m not sure his tears were for what he did or for the consequences to his own life. Considering I don’t recall any tears or confessions before the verdict, I’m inclined toward ‘tears for his own ruined life’. In my opinion, calling them apologies is misleading.

    In conclusion, CNN’s coverage of the verdict was just about the worst possible tone it could take outside of openly saying, “Oh, those poor boys are now ruined for life just for raping some 16 year old girl. How terrible!”

    All my compassion is toward this young lady who will be haunted by this for life for something she didn’t do. I’m fairly certain that the family will have to move away fairly soon. The way so many in the community continued to support these rapists, even with all those text messages, shows that they will never accept that these boys did anything wrong. If that acceptance was going to happen, it would have by now. As time goes on and memory fades, people’s personal bias will increasingly cloud the facts until they will swear that she was awake and encouraging the teens or at least was awake when it started. Just watch.

    Tangentially, when did the equation *good student + good sports player = good person* enter into our minds? None of them actually naturally add up to be a good person ethically or morally; in fact you can be any one of those and still not be all of them. Yet, according to the coverage of this case, it does. How did this happen?

  435. Thanks Andrew. You appear to be starting to get it. Talk to the women in your life. Trust me, every one of them has been in a situation where they’ve been afraid of getting raped, have been raped or had an experience they’re not calling rape, but is its twin brother.

    ALL women are aware of our “personal responsibility” to be safe, and how little it actually affects anyone’s decision to rape. Women do not need any more lessons on personal safety, really, that’s the bulk of rape prevention in any case. It’s what we’re criticised about if anything does happen and is brought up at trial as if it’s relevant.

    Where discussing personal responsibility pisses most women off is where it is discussed in place of men’s responsibility, or as mitigating circumstances to rape. NO NO NO NO NO. Men aren’t idiots. They are capable of knowing right from wrong and being taught.

  436. @Me

    Thank you so much for sharing that, and for your eloquence. I am sorry that that person did that to you.

    You know better than I that there are those who’d judge you now matter how many seatbelts you wore. They will never tire of embarrassing themselves.

    But their numbers are at long last dwindling.

    Now the other side is taking the field. Women and men, all shapes and sizes. We are making noise. We are getting louder. We can’t change the past, but we have got your back, as best we can.

  437. @chaosprime I don’t think anyone would argue that the real problem we would like to solve is rape. What I’m not sure about is how a potential rapists behavior would escalate. Is there any data that shows the persistence of would be rapists? Is rape a crime of opportunity?

  438. Actual conversation this morning:
    Him: “Okay, yes, I agree it was awful and they should totally go to prison for life. But seriously, if she hadn’t been drinking-”
    Me: “No, that shit doesn’t matter. It’s not her fault, no matter what she was doing. One thing has nothing to do with the other.”
    -Five minutes of discussion on why it wasn’t her fault-
    H: “Okay, but what I am supposed to do? Just accept that guys are out there raping people?”
    M: “No, but that’s a good question. What can we do? I think we can keep talking to other guys about why this happened. Why those boys thought it was okay to do this. Why their friends thought it was okay to watch and not do anything.”
    H: “True. I have nephews. I mean, I can talk to them about it at least. Make sure they know what rape is, how wrong it is, and how badly I will beat the shit out of them if they see their friends raping some drunk girl and all they do is take a goddamn video of it.”
    M: “Guys have to start talking about this publicly and keep talking about it.”
    H: “Dude, you should totally write a blog post about this.”
    M: “There’s this writer named John Scalzi…”
    -Twenty minute discussion on favorite sci-fi books-

    It reminds me of that video “Shit Men Say to Men Who Say Shit to Women on the Street” (http://youtu.be/5P4eVjwVd_U): this is OUR responsibility.

  439. @Karina

    Now, the kick to the pants – imagine the conflicted feelings I have when I’m criticized for being rude by a lady walking by (he could just be lonely!!!). What do you think the chances are that I’d be blamed by her if I had “been nice” and he’d had the opportunity to do whatever he’d intended? 100%? We NEVER win. Bitches or whores seems to be the choice, even for 10 year olds.

    Damned if you, damned if you don’t! You’re either reckless and asking for it or you’re paranoid and a stuck up bitch! As a cis male, it absolutely stuns and amazes me what bovine excrement women had to deal with on a daily basis. I do believe the “Don’t Be That Guy” campaign and the “Friends don’t let friends rape” idea generated in this thread will eventually do more to curb rape and sexual assault then all of the “safety” finger pointing ever will.

  440. “Tangentially, when did the equation *good student + good sports player = good person* enter into our minds? None of them actually naturally add up to be a good person ethically or morally; in fact you can be any one of those and still not be all of them. Yet, according to the coverage of this case, it does. How did this happen?”

    Since we can never truly know what a person’s like we always shorthand it with the outward things we can see to define someone who is doing good things (studying, playing a sport well, displaying artistic talent). It’s natural to be shocked when our view is shifted and the good person does something bad. I think it’s actually useful to keep those “good” qualities listed to remind people the rape wasn’t committed by some bearded, tattooed drifter. CNN lost the thread when they forgot to stress the boys were the authors of their own fate.

  441. cranapia,

    I live in Houston and Gay Bashing here is pretty much a thing of the past ever since it’s been made legal to carry a gun. A Queer with a .357 magnum encourages Rednecks to keep their Homophobic sentiments to themselves. I am happy for the GLBT community for they were taking a lot of abuse just for being themselves – street beatings and murder were too common. On the other hand, it’s a shame that guns and not reason had to settle the issue. Nevertheless, it’s a fact: Queers with Firepower instantly cure the worst Homophobia.

  442. Actually, @thomashewlett, a thought in response to your friend:

    Okay, but what I am supposed to do? Just accept that guys are out there raping people?

    Actually, yes, he should. But I don’t mean “accept” in the sense that he should shrug and say “oh, well, them’s the breaks”. But I DO mean he should “accept” that it is a real thing that is actually happening that we need to do something about.

    Because people can’t stop a problem until they acknowledge that problem is happening in the first place. So, yes, he should accept that guys are out there raping people – because, hell, who else did he think was doing the raping, packs of rampaging bandicoots?

  443. Andrewpetersen27

    I and others have pointed out almost ad infinitum that the very, very, very long list of things which women are supposed to do to prevent themselves being raped include many which flatly contradict each other.

    We cannot, even if we wanted to, comply with them because they are contradictory.

    And yet you completely ignore this inconvenient fact to come up with your latest idea, which is that we can avoid being raped by not being there. You are careful to avoid defining where there is, thus ensuring that no woman can ever comply with your suggestion, which puts you fairly and squarely in the ranks of the rape apologists…

  444. Jim: Uhg! Here’s that 100% thing again which boils down to, “If it ain’t perfect then it’s useless”.

    Out of curiosity, would you march into the funeral of a stranger who died of a heart attack and tell the survivers the deceased should have watched his cholesterol better? Do you seriously think the reaction you would get has anything to do with your medical advice being “perfect” or even “useful” or not?

    Do you view a funeral as the family’s way of saying “Gosh, I have no idea how my husband could have died of a heart attack. If only someone with medical knowledge would come along and tell us what we could have done to have kept my husband alive”?

    Now, go re-read the original post. No. Really. Go on. I’ll wait.

    The original post is specifically about people blaming the victim and defending the rapists. It isn’t about “gosh, there sure are a lot of rapes happening. I sure do wish I knew how to reduce the number of rapes happening in the world. Gee willikers, if only someone who knew could edumacate me in the ways of reducing rape.”

  445. @thomasmhewlett

    Well done.

    And yet!

    H: “Okay, but what I am supposed to do? Just accept that guys are out there raping people?”

    I can’t get over this. I recognize that it’s the whole problem we’ve been discussing for 600 comments or whatever. But still: it’s bananas to see it put so baldly, that once blaming the victim is off the table, so many of us are stumped about what to do next.

    And no offense intended toward you or him. It does him credit that he thought to ask, and would listen.

  446. @andrewpeterson27. Yes, rape is a crime of opportunity. But the opportunity isn’t “hey, look how drunk that girl is!” It’s “hey, I live in a culture where other people will not call out my actions and where my victims can easily be shamed into silence.” From the article mythbri posted:

    “Women are already doing what they can to prevent rape; brokering a peace with the fear is part of their lives that we can never fully understand. We’re the ones who are not doing our jobs.

    Here’s what we need to do. We need to spot the rapists, and we need to shut down the social structures that give them a license to operate. They are in the population, among us. They have an average of six victims, women that they know, and therefore likely some women you know. They use force sometimes, but mostly they use intoxicants. They don’t accidentally end up in a room with a woman too drunk or high to consent or resist; they plan on getting there and that’s where they end up.

    Listen. The women you know will tell you when the men they thought they could trust assaulted them; if and only if they know you won’t stonewall, deny, blame or judge. Let them tell you that they got drunk, and woke up with your buddy on top of them. Listen. Don’t defend that guy. That guy is more likely than not a recidivist. He has probably done it before. He will probably do it again.

    Change the culture. To rape again and again, these men need silence. They need to know that the right combination of factors — alcohol and sex shame, mostly — will keep their victims quiet. Otherwise, they would be identified earlier and have a harder time finding victims.”

  447. From the link I posted above (advice directed towards men):

    Here’s what we need to do. We need to spot the rapists, and we need to shut down the social structures that give them a license to operate. They are in the population, among us. They have an average of six victims, women that they know, and therefore likely some women you know. They use force sometimes, but mostly they use intoxicants. They don’t accidentally end up in a room with a woman too drunk or high to consent or resist; they plan on getting there and that’s where they end up.

    Listen. The women you know will tell you when the men they thought they could trust assaulted them; if and only if they know you won’t stonewall, deny, blame or judge. Let them tell you that they got drunk, and woke up with your buddy on top of them. Listen. Don’t defend that guy. That guy is more likely than not a recidivist. He has probably done it before. He will probably do it again.

    Change the culture. To rape again and again, these men need silence. They need to know that the right combination of factors — alcohol and sex shame, mostly — will keep their victims quiet. Otherwise, they would be identified earlier and have a harder time finding victims. The women in your life need to be able to talk frankly about sexual assault. They need to be able to tell you, and they need to know that they can tell you, and not be stonewalled, denied, blamed or judged.

    Listen. The men in your lives will tell you what they do. As long as the R word doesn’t get attached, rapists do self-report. The guy who says he sees a woman too drunk to know where she is as an opportunity is not joking. He’s telling you how he sees it. The guy who says, “bros before hos”, is asking you to make a pact.

    The Pact. The social structure that allows the predators to hide in plain sight, to sit at the bar at the same table with everyone, take a target home, rape her, and stay in the same social circle because she can’t or won’t tell anyone, or because nobody does anything if she does. The pact to make excuses, to look for mitigation, to patch things over — to believe that what happens to our friends — what our friends do to our friends — is not (using Whoopi Goldberg’s pathetic apologetics) “rape-rape”.

    Change the culture. We are not going to pull six or ten or twelve million men out of the U.S. population over any short period, so if we are going to put a dent in the prevalence of rape, we need to change the environment that the rapist operates in. Choose not to be part of a rape-supportive environment. Rape jokes are not jokes. Woman-hating jokes are not jokes. These guys are telling you what they think. When you laugh along to get their approval, you give them yours. You tell them that the social license to operate is in force; that you’ll go along with the pact to turn your eyes away from the evidence; to make excuses for them; to assume it’s a mistake, of the first time, or a confusing situation. You’re telling them that they’re at low risk.

  448. Jim: I live in Houston and Gay Bashing here is pretty much a thing of the past ever since it’s been made legal to carry a gun. … Nevertheless, it’s a fact: Queers with Firepower instantly cure the worst Homophobia.

    Oh, it’s a fact is it?

    See, the problem is really bad myths assign the wrong cause to problems and solutions. It’s like the anti-vaccine nutjobs giving advice to parents, telling them not to vaccinate their kids. And it’s all based on bullshit models, bullshit myths, that they think are “facts”.

    The “guns solve every problem” myth is nothign more than a power fantasy to try and make someone feel less afraid. It has nothing to do with whether guns in fact make anything better. And it has EVERYTHING to do with guns making the person feel better.

    This entire thread you’ve done nothign but take how you feel and conflate it with facts.

  449. @uldihaa

    Tangentially, when did the equation *good student + good sports player = good person* enter into our minds?

    I interpret this to mean: they are on the football team and therefore important. Full stop.

    There is no CNN coverage a little Friday Night Lights can’t make more glamorous. On no issue moreso than “real America” and its obsession with boys’ games is the beltway media simultaneously so worshipful and so patronizing.

    And yes, it is extremely troubling. If these kids were C students who hated football and played board games all night, I suppose their crime would have been less tragic?

    I’m not sure whether its profoundly sexist of me or merely very sexist of me that I noted with reflexive derision that the two reporters providing CNN’s daft coverage go by the names “Poppy” and “Candy.” I know it should be irrelevant and those are fine names. But with the combination of that and the airheaded commentary, it was almost like CNN was deliberately yanking my chain.

  450. H: “Okay, but what I am supposed to do? Just accept that guys are out there raping people?”

    rb: I can’t get over this. …it’s bananas to see it put so baldly, that once blaming the victim is off the table, so many of us are stumped about what to do next.

    A lot of people are stumped because a real solution would be hard. We would have to change several thousand years of culture, myths, legends, and morality tales, and get everyone to adopt these new stories.

    OR.

    We just tell women not to go into dark alleys, carry a gun, don’t get drunk, etc.

    A lot of poeple can’t stand to live in anything other than a Just Universe, so they do whatever they have to do to make it a Just Universe. If there is something Unjust, and the only way to truly fix it seems impossible, they push for what they see as the “realistic” solution, even if it turns the problem completely upside down and ends up blaming the victim.

    Jim can’t bear to believe that there is homophobia in Texas, so he’s convinced himself that gay people with guns have put an end to it, and any gay person without a gun is just asking for a hate crime. He has reworked the world in his mind so that it is a “Just World”, even if the reality of it as far as gay people in Texas are concerned is that the world is still seriously fucked up. But the end result for Jim is that Jim doesn’t have to worry about hate crimes in Texas any more. If there is a hate crime, and the victim wasn’t packing, Jim can blame the victim.

    It works for Jim because reality doesn’t impact Jim in such a way to show that his “Just World” model is a farce. People who actually have to deal with rape or deal with homophobia know its nonsense.

  451. @andrewpeterson27

    Train police officers how to sensitively interact with rape victims. Include lessons on consent and rape in school sex ed. Clarify and broaden the legal definition of rape in states where the laws are still far too vague (Ohio’s definition is actually more specific and comprehensive than many places). Hire counselors with specific training in sexual assault cases at high schools and universities. Those are just the first few things that come to mind.

  452. ===== Here’s what we need to do. We need to spot the rapists, and we need to shut down the social structures that give them a license to operate. They are in the population, among us. They have an average of six victims, women that they know, and therefore likely some women you know. They use force sometimes, but mostly they use intoxicants. They don’t accidentally end up in a room with a woman too drunk or high to consent or resist; they plan on getting there and that’s where they end up. ======

    I agree 100%. As a High School and University student I saw how a couple of these sociopaths operate. My friends and I warned whom we could. We told our girlfriends and had them pass along the info, too. We were effective, but not 100%. Some people just wouldn’t believe. Nevertheless, people should keep on talking about it and not deny that it happens.

  453. @Jim

    We were effective, but not 100%. Some people just wouldn’t believe.

    Dude, I gotta give it to you. Your form is consistent. For a minute there I thought you were wavering, but you stuck the landing.

  454. (About keeping on talking about it and not denying that it happens, I mean. I agree with rb that the quoted portion of your comment is not relevant to calling out rapists.)

  455. “Nevertheless, people should keep on talking about it and not deny that it happens.”

    Great point, to which I’d add when we “spot” them we need to report them to authorities, and be supportive of the victims of theirs we know, and encourage those victims to speak up. Education and pressure needs to be kept on to get it through people’s heads that there are no mitigating circumstances when it comes to rape.

  456. My friends and I warned whom we could. We told our girlfriends and had them pass along the info, too. We were effective, but not 100%.

    In other words, you didn’t report it to authorities, and hence didn’t take it seriously as an actual, you know, crime. The perpetrators might be sociopaths, but reporting them to the POLICE? The DEAN? Oh, heavens no.

  457. Jim, can you clarify something:

    As a High School and University student I saw how a couple of these sociopaths operate. My friends and I warned whom we could. We told our girlfriends and had them pass along the info, too. We were effective, but not 100%.

    I think a lot of people are taking this to mean that you saw these guys actually raping women you knew. Is that the case? If not, what did you mean by “seeing how a couple of these sociopaths operate”?

    I have a hunch you mean that you heard them talking and realized how they think, rather than atually witnessing a rape.

  458. ==== (About keeping on talking about it and not denying that it happens, I mean. I agree with rb that the quoted portion of your comment is not relevant to calling out rapists.) =====

    I could have stuck my head in the sand and said, “Well, it’s her word against his.” But I didn’t. I did some anecdotal research on the down low and saw a pattern. Also, I never came right out and said, “Hey…that dude is a Rapist!” for I couldn’t prove it because these women were so confused they wouldn’t/couldn’t come forward. Instead, I’d say something like, “Very strange how this guys ex-girlfriends seem so upset and avoid him so much”, or “Maybe you don’t want to go out with that guy before you talk to his ex-girlfriends”, or whatever.

    Rapists are sneaky and use people’s uncertainty to their advantage.

  459. Jim: We were effective, but not 100%. Some people just wouldn’t believe.

    Ignored your wisdom, became a rape victim, and brought it on themselves?

    WIth every post, you make it more and more clear what you really think of rape victims.

  460. @Jim:

    M’kay… To avoid being being malleted for feeding a derail, I’ll just note I feel much happier being a queer in a nation without a collective gun fetish but where Police have put the time and effort into forming constructive relationships with GLBT communities so we feel safe(er) reporting hate crimes, Also one where our legislature, law enforcement and judiciary send clear messages that such crimes will be actively investigated, prosecuted and the perpetrators CONVICTED AND HELD ACCOUNTABLE. (A major part of that is a law change a few years back closing off the so-called ‘provocation’ defense — so a sympathetic jury isn’t going to let you walk for killing a GLBT person by claiming you had a ‘gay panic’ attack when the dirty queer made a pass at you.)

    Sadly, we’ve still got a way to go when it comes to dismantling rape culture. Even in a relatively enlightened place like New Zealand, it’s still a common defense tactic in rape and abuse trials to put the victim on trial both on the stand and through the media. Even here, rape, sexual abuse and domestic violence are still dramatically under-reported and the prosecution rates are dismal for those cases that end up in court. Shouldn’t surprise anyone when the slut-shaming, victim-blaming and myth mongering that only certain types rape (or get “legitimately” raped) goes on and on and on, and so often under a metric fuckton of concern trolling about “safety” and “prevention”.

    And, yes, it’s not only Stubenville and CNN that has issues with considering the hurt fee-fees of abusive high profile sportsmen so much more worthy of regard than their victims.

    So, we’ve got a lot of work to do down here in Middle Earth on every level — from Parliament to a disturbing amount of pop culture that treats rape-as-entertainment — but I don’t think turning my home into an armed camp is much of a contribution.

  461. @Me … you were not responsible for someone raping you. Absolutely not. Wasn’t your fault. Anyone who proposes such is … never mind. You don’t want them as a friend, and you do not want to trust them.

    More generally, I have had dates who got so drunk they passed out. I didn’t rape them. Didn’t have intimate relations of any sort with them that night, even though some had said they wanted that earlier. I took them home and left them in the care of their roommates. I’ve had other’s dates (and others) in my home who got that drunk; they were taken to a bedroom and left to sleep it off, and they were not attacked by anyone, including their dates. Neither thing was especially hard to do. Maybe it just seemed too close to necrophilia.

    Maybe it’s a different way of expressing power over them, temporarily taking them into my care and protecting them, from others, themselves, and myself. Some of them were very embarrassed or ashamed in the morning (especially young ladies; guys tended to be angry.)

    What responsibility do these “friends” have, who are laughing, tweeting, taking photos of the rapists committing their criminal deeds? Accomplices?

    (The seat belt thing … I used to drive ambulance. Buckle up, even if the law forbids it.)

  462. This is where I pop up again and suggest everyone take care not to make your comments/observations too personal. No precipitate cause for this comment, just hoping to avoid future unpleasantness.

  463. “Rape stopper” advice pertaining to a woman’s behavior is never actually about preventing rape from happening. It’s about preventing a rape from happening to one person in particular. What’s really being said is “stay sober, and with luck those guys will rape some other girl instead of you.”

  464. A mike75: ” I think if they had known putting their fingers in her was no different than actually having sex with her, they’d have stuck with more traditional ways of messing with someone passed out drunk,”

    As described in Mays’ own texts exchanges during the hours-long attack, they did NOT confine their sexual assault to penetrating the victim’s vagina with their fingers. He specifically describes other acts of sexual assault in his texts that night (I’ve described them in a previous post here), and he vacillates about whether there’s been penile penetration (sometimes he says “yes” and sometimes “no” in his texts that night).

    It may be that the digital penetration was the only “slam dunk” for the prosecution, thanks to the reams of social media evidence of it, and that the prosecutor decided to focus a speedy trial and conviction, all things considered (the ordeal for the victim, the upcoming grand jury investigation, etc.).

    Given how often the events of the night were called “rape” (mostly with great hilarity; but also by some witnesses who declared it “not cool” but nonetheless never intervened or troubled themselves to dial 911) by the people involved and witnessing it and Tweeting/texting about it, I believe many of them did know the victim was being raped. (And again: in Mays’ own descriptions at the time, digital penetration was NOT the only sexual assault being committed.) But they were convinced IT DIDN’T MATTER—because they were convinced the =victim= didn’t matter.

    She was just a girl (not male, not a footballer, etc.), and that made her a non-person to them. In addition to laughing and joking about how “dead” she is, young men exchanged texts and giggling comments that night, for example, about how “disgusting” they considered the victim and made many other dismissively derogatory comments of that nature. She was a piece of meat, a toy to be discarded, a sack of shit to them.

    In texts exchanged in the days that followed, Mays expresses irritation and annoyance that the girl is trying to find out what happened to her that night; she is not a person with any rights at all over her own body in his texts. After she discovers what happened, via the enormous volume of social media, Mays texts to a pal in outrage that the victim –minds- what he did to her; he appears to believe she has no right to any opinion at all on the matter.

    Meanwhile, though, from the day after the attack onward, Mays’ texts evince a clear and growing realization that he needs the evidence trail destroyed and denials agreed upon.

  465. so how do you make it easier to report / convict rape? Societal change seems like the most influential but hardest / slowest to shift

    For starters, when stories of rape come out, be it in one’s social circle or in the media, you condemn the perpetrator, not the victim. That condemnation, and the fear of not being believed, is a big reason why people don’t report it. (I’ll even wager that it’s why the reporting rate is even lower for men.)

    Also, what defmid6 said about rape kits. And changing how many police departments still handle them, in general…that’s a big one. Speaking up and intervening–safely, if you can, if not then call 911–if you see something happening that’s not on.

    Societal change is slow, but it can happen. I’m 38 years old and I never thought I’d see gay marriage legalized in my lifetime, but I now live in a state where two of my dearest friends can get married. Heck, you could still smoke on airplanes when I was a kid. Now smoking sections in restaurants are practically a thing of the past.

  466. @Mary Dell: Well, y’know. To the extent that it isn’t about 1) being a man, which means your role is to handle things and fix things and deal with things 2) therefore needing to fix the problem of rape 3) having assigned the role of monster to rapists since that’s the easiest way to know that nothing you’ve ever done or could do is rape 4) therefore abdicating any possibility of altering the behavior of rapists 5) since you still need to fix rape, moving on to explaining to the little ladies how to protect themselves, as that’s the part of the equation you can control (obviously, since you’re a man and they’re women).

  467. @Mary Dell

    That is cold-blooded, which strikes me as entirely appropriate. I never thought of it that way. Mulling needed, but my initial reaction is: thanks for the insight. Another reason to hate such ‘helpful’ advice.

  468. @Me: Thank you for speaking up. I’m so sorry that such a terrible thing was done to you. You were not at fault in any way.

    And the same to the other women who have spoken up about their experiences in this thread.

    I’m lucky: I’ve never been raped or even been in a situation where I was threatened. But that’s pure LUCK, not because I’ve been a specially careful snowflake. Other women in my family and circle of close friends haven’t been so lucky. I know women who were raped by boyfriends and trusted acquaintances, more than one who was raped by her father, and one who was raped by her brother at the age of seven. Not a one of them could have done any damn thing to prevent it, not a one of them should have had to, but that doesn’t stop everyone from acquaintances to the media and even the police from suggesting that it wouldn’t have happened if they’d only done X “obvious in hindsight” thing.

    As others have said, often and much more eloquently, the only person who is guilty is the person who committed the crime.

  469. Andrew

    If you were in the slightest bit interested in the realities of rape you could spend some time looking it up; Jim Hines has an excellent section of his site which has already been mentioned on this thread.

    But you don’t.

    Instead you ask others to do it for you, presumably in the hope of derailing the discussion once again.

    I suppose that I shouldn’t be surprised; anyone capable of suggesting that women can avoid being raped by not being there, whilst carefully refusing to specify where ‘there’ is, is clearly lacking in scruples, but brandishing your ignorance is not a good way of persuading others that you have anything worthwhile to contribute to discussion. After all, once you have got to your thirties you really should be able to manage looking things up; I appreciate that the juvenile football players might not have acquired those skills but you are supposed to be a little more educated than they are…

  470. I apologise I haven’t read today’s comments yet, but this was in my head from last night:

    A lot of these suggestions are just aimed at swapping victims. That’s not good enough.

    When I was at school the bullies used to pick on the most vulnerable kid. Quite often this wasn’t me, and it would have been me less often if I’d worked on the things they targeted: If I’d been less geeky, or learned to fight, or dressed differently, or talked differently, or had less freckles, or gained status by picking on people myself. But even if I had been totally successful there was always some kid who got singled out.

    So now to Steubenville. If no woman had lost consciousness at this party, it might have been the drunkest woman, or the most shy or least popular, or gayest or a combination of these factors. It’s quite possible a man would have been the most vulnerable – geeky or gay or just unlucky. Maybe the abuse wouldn’t be sexual, and the courts might not have gotten involved, but someone would still be traumatised.

    For us here discussing this case, or for society discussing these issues, none of these outcomes is good enough. Please reconsider your helpful advice and see whether it prevents the crime, or just moves the target.


    Alternatively, these boys might have just spent a night drinking and dancing and being loud. There was nothing any potential victim did that made *that* difference.

  471. And if I’d read today’s comments I’d have seen Mary Dell said the same thing just above and much sharper. Count mine as expanding on the point.

  472. @Laura Resnick

    Thank you for laying things down so squarely. Your writing is as clear as it is horrifying.

    Mays expresses irritation and annoyance that the girl is trying to find out what happened to her that night; she is not a person with any rights at all over her own body in his texts. After she discovers what happened, via the enormous volume of social media, Mays texts to a pal in outrage that the victim –minds- what he did to her; he appears to believe she has no right to any opinion at all on the matter.

    This is where I don’t get the “good boys” shtick. This is just beyond the pale.

    And that is NOT to say that Mays is rare. Every man reading this has a friend or close acquaintance or son or nephew, probably more than one, who fits this profile. There are millions of this kid out there. They’re about to get more careful on Twitter; that’s the ‘lesson learned,’ for the CNNs of the world. That’s the level of daft ignorance we are up against.

    Fathers need to quit talking about stepping up and instead step the fuck up. Supposedly grown men who somehow believe only the “animals” engage in this behavior need to get their heads out of their asses and take a look around.

    And I don’t mean that to imply that men haven’t always had a responsibility to help and always shirked it, or are about to ride to the rescue now. We have had it, we have shirked it, and we’re not white knights. But we can start pulling our weight.

    And that emphatically does not include ‘advice’ about carrying guns and whistles and whatnot, and chestbeating about what retribution you’d exact if it was your daughter.

    For the sake of Pete, can the advice and bluster, and instead start speaking clearly to the men and young men in your life. I don’t mean only lectures and soon-to-be-forgotten heart-to-hearts, I mean the work of changing attitudes on the day-to-day, of leading by example and calling out ignorance. This is wrong, this is an outrage, it’s a crisis. Take action because it’s right, but failing that take action if for no other reason than odds are you’ll live to regret your silence, and have to eat your stupid words about what you’d do “if ever.”

  473. I wonder if the reason so many men are adamant about focusing attention of what women should do to “better protect themselves” is from sheer laziness and a reluctance to risk being ostracized by their peers/friends. Do they not want to be the one that calls their friend/acquittance out when he talks about how the woman across the room would be “easy” due to her being so drunk? Do they simply not want to be the one that confronts a friend about him “having sex” with a passed out woman he picked up at the bar when she was “merely” drunk?

    It’s a whole lot easier to just tell someone what they should do than it is for you to something yourself, I guess.

    “As a High School and University student I saw how a couple of these sociopaths operate. My friends and I warned whom we could. We told our girlfriends and had them pass along the info, too. We were effective, but not 100%.”

    So why didn’t you confront the “sociopaths”? Why allow them to continue to operate? Why place the burden of protecting themselves solely on the women?

    Personal anecdote: I have been the guy that called out my “friends” for this kind of predatory behavior and I was ostracized for it. Not immediately, but I was never invited back to “party” because I was a “killjoy”. I was FAR from crushed.

    We need to start focusing more attention on getting guys to start calling out their friends for this kind of predatory crap, because this kind of behavior? Yeah, rapist. Rapists don’t wear signs, but they do talk about women like they are Things, objects to be used and discarded. They don’t say these things to women, they say them to us, their male friends, as “jokes” and “kidding around”. Guess what that means? The first (and most effective) line of defense are men. We know which of our “friends” and family members talk like that, so we are the ones in the best position to “nip it in the bud”. Maybe when more men make it clear it’s not tolerated we might actually have an impact.

  474. @welltemperedwriter:

    Well put! Here’s another modest proposition. Remember Todd Aiken folks? The most shocking thing about his political career wasn’t his crash-and-burn Senate campaign last year after his musings on “legitimate rape,” but that he held elected state and federal office for over twenty years with exactly the same views.

    Want to make it “easier to report / convict rape”? Don’t put people in office who think rape, domestic violence and sexual abuse victims should be presumed guilty of “asking for it” and that funding rape education/prevention programs (and social services for abuse victims) is some cunning plot to turn women into man-hating Marxist-lesbians.

  475. Societal change seems like the most influential but hardest / slowest to shift.

    It’s hard really only because we want it to be. I mean, look at this very thread, and how hard some commenters have fought against any discussion that isn’t focused on what the victim did. Even when our host repeatedly said to change the subject. Even when countless women have said ‘we’ve been hearing about that since we were children’. Even when actual survivors of rape have courageously said that advice would not have saved them.

    It’s a particularly ugly variant on the old joke about the guy who loses his glasses in a dark alley, but looks for them under the streetlamp because the light is better there. As soon as we focus on how to actually stop rape – how to change the culture, how to hold perpetrators responsible, how to stop making it a proxy for a lot of shitty attitudes about gender and power – people will panic, because you just rattled their comfort zone.

    Especially for people whose actions have fed into that narrative. No, I’m not accusing anyone here of rape. I am saying that it would be surprising if rather a lot of us hadn’t bought into rape culture and perpetuated it to some degree; wondering aloud what that rape victim was doing downtown at 2 a.m., or pushed alcohol on a date in the hopes of getting laid, or not taken “no” for an answer right away because surely she just needed a little convincing. I’ve known many perfectly nice men, men who would be horrified at the very idea of raping a woman, who have done things like physically blocked a door and said “Leaving so soon?” or asked “Why?” when told to stop (rather than just stopping) or, as one commenter’s friend above said, condemned rape but then in the next breath said “but if she hadn’t….” And if you point out to those nice men that what they’re doing is supporting rape culture, the ones who are genuinely decent guys are appalled at what they’ve unthinkingly done.

    The ones who aren’t genuinely decent, of course, continue to make excuses and keep on keeping on. They will continue to treat rape as a runaway train, a thing that women can only avoid but never really stop, because if it’s inevitable and inescapable there’s no responsibility to change.

  476. @Shane

    A lot of these suggestions are just aimed at swapping victims.

    And a light went on. An incredibly important point. Sincere thanks to you and Mary Dell.

  477. @Mythago:

    It’s hard really only because we want it to be.

    +1. And as my incredibly wise Grandma used to say: “Nothing worth the having ever came fast or easy, so you’re a damn fool sitting around waiting for it to fall into your lap.”

  478. I think a lot of people need to be given the message that if you don’t get sex, it is not the end of the world. TMI, but I’m unlikely to have sex tonight (due to a family crisis and resulting trauma). For the same reason, neither is my partner. On many occasions, for many reasons, neither I nor my partner get to have sex. When single, there were even more occasions on which, in fact, we did not get shagged.

    This is not tragic. It is not even especially inconvenient. Neither of us – and one of us has been a teenage boy – have felt the need to assault some unconscious person. It might be said that if you do feel the need to assault someone who is incapable of giving consent, you’re well and truly on the sociopathic spectrum because DOING SO DOES NOT OCCUR to a lot of people, male or female. Really, doesn’t cross the mind. Because exerting control over someone else, harming someone else, hurting a person who has done nothing to you, is not that much of a priority to a great many people. Neither is getting laid. If it is a priority to someone, regardless of the hurt that results, we damn well ought to be looking at their behaviour, not that of their victim, who is, by and large, going about their everyday business, whether that’s going to the grocery store in broad daylight, being 8 years old and attending school, or getting plastered in the pub.

  479. @uldihaa

    They don’t say these things to women, they say them to us, their male friends, as “jokes” and “kidding around”. Guess what that means? The first (and most effective) line of defense are men.

    This. Hear him.

    And if you point out to those nice men that what they’re doing is supporting rape culture, the ones who are genuinely decent guys are appalled at what they’ve unthinkingly done. The ones who aren’t genuinely decent, of course, continue to make excuses and keep on keeping on.

    And this. Do you really want the latter sort of creep around your family, your friends, your self? Don’t you want to help the former sort of decent-but-trending-badly guy get out of the creep zone? Take action.

  480. As those Jocks were taking that girl to their car in order to whisk her away to the scene of the crime no one really tried to put a stop to it. And…I bet everyone who saw it happen pretty-much knew what was in store for that poor girl that night.

    No one dialed her mother. No one threatened to call the police. No one said “You shouldn’t do that!” No one threatened those young Jocks with consequences if they persisted.

  481. Yes Jim, because all their lives in all the news coverage and everything they heard adults say about women who were raped they heard “Well if she hadn’t gotten drunk…” So clearly adults don’t care that much if you rape a drunken girl. So it can’t be that bad. That is the message that this type of response sends to teens.

    It’s clear that none of their parents spent any time at all telling them that if they see some of their fellow students make off with a drunken girl they should stop them and help the girl regardless of their feelings or beliefs about the girl.

  482. @Jim

    Kid, people saw it happening and thought nothing of it (at best) or filmed it or actively took part. Then they showed it to all their friends in real life and online.

    In other words, this is a problem of culture. A culture that teaches that a woman, or in this case a female child (!), is a piece of shit, free to be toyed with once a drink passes her lips.

    That culture needs changing, and it cannot be overcome by telling women that said culture “can easily be avoided” or that they shouldn’t drink.

  483. Good for you, uldihaa! Two of my closest friends have done the same. It’s one of the reasons they’re my closest friends. In fact, I was with one of them when we intervened in what looked like a bad situation; he asked if I’d approach the woman since he’d kind of a big guy and he thought she might be afraid of him. (But, since he’s a big guy, he makes GREAT backup.)

    And that’s the thing: there are ways to intervene if you’re worried for your own safety. Intervening in a group, or calling 911 if things look like they’re really getting out of hand, are both very good options.

    The other friend is the one who put a blanket on me and a bucket and a bottle of water by my head when I had too much to drink at a party.

    I trust both of these men implicitly. That shouldn’t be a goddamned luxury.

  484. I don’t think there was one scene of the crime; there appear to have been a number of them, which means that there were multiple opportunities for people to intervene. Nobody did, and I agree with Hakainokami that the attitude of adults play an important role in the failure of young people to notice that there was actually something profoundly wrong about the way in which these people were behaving.

    Interestingly, at least one of the female reporters who provoked the outcry is said to be outraged by the criticisms made of her behaviour; there is a profound irony in her inability to perceive that her attitude is part and parcel of the justification of rape, coupled with the fact that one can fairly say that she deserves to be criticised for her behaviour.

    Her latest complaint is that criticisms of her have got ‘out of control’, which suggests that the double standard is alive and well…

  485. And the wheel just keeps spinning: In today’s new, two 18 year old football players in Connecticut have been accused of raping a 13 year old girl. In texts and Tweets from other students, the alleged victim is being condemned (also threatened) by other students for “ruining two lives” because she’s complaining about getting herself sexually assaulted by these young men.

    This article is the only information I’ve seen on it so far. But note that in the attacks and threats, the other teens aren’t saying it’s didn’t happen; they’re saying a 13 year old girl shouldn’t ruin the lives of her alleged attackers by complaining about the attack.

    http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/03/20/1751831/rape-football-victim/

  486. @ rb, who wrote: “This is where I don’t get the “good boys” shtick.”

    It baffles me, too. Reading Mays’ texts from the night of the rape and the days that followed, he’s so vicious, so amoral, so utterly lacking in remorse or conscience or empathy every step of way…

    How has ANY adult (and, indeed, any teen with an IQ above room temperature) =ever= mistaken the person who wrote these dozens and dozens of horrifying texts (about his own remorseless rape of an unconscious girl) for a “good kid”??? When not texting, does Mays have the manipulative charm often attributed to sociopaths, or something?

    Or is it just that in Mays’ and Richmond’s world, and among the people who keep characterizing them as “good kids,” playing football MAKES YOU a good kid because the very definition of “good” in that worldview is: plays football (or perhaps: is an athlete in a popular sport).

    I haven’t seen any texts or Tweets by Richmond. But when a young man is trying to force his cock into the mouth of a helpless girl, one of the things which strikes me as irrefutable is that he left “good” miles and MILES behind him.

    (I’m also wearily skeptical that his athletic future, as his tearful comment at his sentencing suggested, will be harmed by his conviction, not if he plays ball very well. Since when do college or pro football teams care whether someone is a rapist? I didn’t get that memo.)

  487. When not texting, does Mays have the manipulative charm often attributed to sociopaths, or something?

    I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.

    Or is it just that in Mays’ and Richmond’s world, and among the people who keep characterizing them as “good kids,” playing football MAKES YOU a good kid because the very definition of “good” in that worldview is: plays football (or perhaps: is an athlete in a popular sport).

    From what I’ve read about this case, in Steubenville specifically that’s an even more significant aspect of the problem than usual. It appears that the football team is basically the only thing the town has going for it.

  488. @Laura Resnick: Or is it just that in Mays’ and Richmond’s world, and among the people who keep characterizing them as “good kids,” playing football MAKES YOU a good kid because the very definition of “good” in that worldview is: plays football (or perhaps: is an athlete in a popular sport).

    Unfortunately I think that is EXACTLY what it means. And it goes back to the whole discussion upthread about rapists being monsters. These kids have all the trappings of “good” kids, and rapists are awful creatures who lurk in the shadows and drag girls into unmarked vans. So they can’t possibly be.

    Also, thank you for linking to the other case as well. I don’t know if it makes me naive that I’m still surprised and horrified by this sort of thing.

  489. @Laura Resnick,

    Yes, that’s what I think. “Good” means “plays football,” with a side order of “conventionally conformist” (no dungeons and dragons, no long hair, no suspicious interest in foreign languages or appearances of tendency toward teh ghey. Probably a bully who charms the admin). You know, the usual.

  490. @uldihaa

    I wonder if the reason so many men are adamant about focusing attention of what women should do to “better protect themselves” is from sheer laziness and a reluctance to risk being ostracized by their peers/friends. Do they not want to be the one that calls their friend/acquittance out when he talks about how the woman across the room would be “easy” due to her being so drunk? Do they simply not want to be the one that confronts a friend about him “having sex” with a passed out woman he picked up at the bar when she was “merely” drunk?

    I admit that it takes a certain level of courage to stand up to this behavior, you can expect the hoots and jeers of “White Knight” and Cockblocker” when they are called out. But as the saying goes, all that it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing. This is I’m appreciative of the ‘Dont Be That Guy’ and similar initiatives cropping up, hopefully it’ll work it’s way into the social conscience much like the anti-smoking and drunk driving service announcements have…

  491. Htom

    Thanks for the link; the Mail has a sincere appreciation of the number of people who want to read about rape cases, though in fairness they cover rape cases across the spectrum. They recently have been following the ongoing disintegration here of a far left political group, the Socialist Workers Party, triggered by the discovery that senior officials regarded the criticism of rape as evidence of ‘creeping feminism’ and thus intolerable.

    I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised to see Piers Morgan putting the boot into the victim’s lawyer who appeared to have more sympathy for the rapists than his own client until he was forcefully reminded that, amongst other things, the tearful apology which so moved him had been preceded by the boy denying at length that he had done anything wrong. I don’t know what the legal position is in Ohio; in England sentencing is affected by guilty pleas. It is disheartening when even the lawyers seem to think the football team is what really matters…

  492. @uldihaa — even when I was a kid in high school (early 1960s), “good at sports” –> “good person” was believed to be true by many (most of?) the adults. Good grades were optional, and there was a drum beat that our high school’s academic standards should be lowered (“B” average to be on a varsity team, “C” average to play at all, and a D or F put you on the bench for the rest of the semester.)

  493. HS jock rapists have been trying to get girls drunk so they could have sex with them (against their will, obviously, since they’re drunk) since just about forever in this country. What’s different about this case, other than the technology, is that NOW, as opposed to 50 or 60 years ago, LOTS of girls are complicit in the crime: watching it and doing nothing, sending pictures and videos, supporting the rapists, making fun of the victim, etc. etc. (the small town sports culture is exactly the same). So if one wants to talk about a “rape culture” that exists NOW as opposed to THEN, that’s the main difference I see. So while it’s obvious that one should try to raise kids so they know the definition of rape, and that’s it’s wrong, ALWAYS, it’s just as obvious that this applies to females, as well as males. The other difference is that 50 or 60 years ago, these assholes would likely not even have been prosecuted (technology helps here, perhaps) much less convicted.<