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Some thoughts on rape culture

(49 Posts)
Dervel Mon 27-Oct-14 11:01:20

I just want to express something surrounding the concept of rape culture. I was having a disagreement with a friend of mine re: it being unwise for a woman going back to a guy's place in that there are often inherent expectations.

Now I disagreed at the time and having had time to reflect I have thought about it in greater depth. I've come to some realisations as to why I want to challenge this assumption.

I have had the fortune to have had many enduring friendships with women over the years, and despite a lot of personal blind spots with regards to gender issues, an awful lot I read on here seems reasonable when corroborated with discussions with friends.

Now obviously I've had many women back to mine (and indeed theirs!) over the years. What worries me is that this default assumption is that it creates this honking great demarcation line that is only going to serve to segregate the sexes further.

I guess my point is I want to challenge rape culture, not only in terms of it being very wrong to victim blame, but in addition it serves to divide us in and of itself by generating fear and separation.

Do you think this is a reasonable position?

I do think the more men and women enjoy genuine friendships with each other the easier it will be to bridge gender gaps, but so much of our society seems geared at separating us, and the biggest culprit it seems is rape and particularly rape culture.

MyEmpireOfDirt Mon 27-Oct-14 13:40:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MyEmpireOfDirt Mon 27-Oct-14 13:42:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cailindana Mon 27-Oct-14 15:02:11

I think there's a chicken and egg issue here. The division between men and women exists because of patriarchy. Men are socialised to see women as sex objects, therefore, IME, even the most "enlightened," kind, genuine men really struggle to relate to women as peers. When the "best" of men struggle, then it's no surprise that going back to a man's house is a genuinely dangerous undertaking for a woman. What needs to change is the perception of women in society in general and a total separation of the idea of them as sexual beings from the idea of them as fun people to be around.

Men need to see women as people. Then, uncomplicated friendships will be possible. But for now, much as I love and enjoy the company of men there is always the unspoken assumption that the only reason a man wants to be around me is because he fancies me, not because he enjoys talking to me, finds me interesting, wants to hear what I have to say, wants to have a laugh with me, whatever.

Incidentally it is worth noting that going back to the house of a male friend or acquaintance is one of the most risky things a woman can do - an extremely high number of rapes happen under those circumstances. So there isn't just a perception or an expectation, there is a real and genuine sense of entitlement to use the body of a woman because she has decided to come to a man's house, and until that sense of entitlement goes, being around a man in a house is a dangerous situation for a woman. It's the situation in which I was raped.

scallopsrgreat Mon 27-Oct-14 15:32:40

I am with cailindana here. "...it being unwise for a woman going back to a guy's place in that there are often inherent expectations." This very phrase is designed to modify women's behaviour when it is men's behaviour and expectations causing the problem. It is their sense of entitlement that makes it dangerous for women. This isn't some kind of irrational fear either it is real.

So just saying well those barriers should come down is unrealistic and dangerous. Rape and rape culture is generated by men. It is men's behaviour and male violence that needs to be tackled in order for those barriers to come down. I feel you are saying that part of the problem is that women should just get over their fear or not recognise the risks. No, what should happen is that women shouldn't be subjected to those expectations and violence.

So until men's violence against women is tackled and until men stop having those expectations women aren't safe in homes with men. If you want the demarcation to go then tackle the root cause not the symptoms.

SevenZarkSeven Mon 27-Oct-14 15:33:42

It's an interesting one.

IM personal experience, I have gone off to all sorts of places with all sorts of random people in all sorts of states and it has been fine. Fun, even grin whether sex was on the cards / the outcome or just more drinking / dancing / substances or whatever.

The times things have not been fine have been around total strangers in public - on trains, the street, the tube, in the pub and so on, or with people I knew really well and no-one would say "oh you should have known better" because it's a childhood friend or whatever.

So in my personal experience most men are fine (or I have a reasonable danger radar or a lot of luck or some combination thereof) but a large minority of men are not fine at all and they impact on a huge number of women in that you'd be hard pressed to find a woman anywhere who has not had some experience of unwanted / aggressive sexual attention / harrassment etc etc etc.

And in terms of being alone with a man there is no way of telling who is a risk - someone you have just met or someone you have known for years.

So your friend IMO is simply wrong. "it being unwise for a woman going back to a guy's place in that there are often inherent expectations."

1. Men and women might have hopes about what happens when they get home
2. Having "expectations" is pretty dodgy but hmm OK if you've been flirting heavily all night both the man and the woman might well have expectations of some kind of sexual contact
3. Expectations of what form that sexual contact might take is odd
4. Forcing the expected sexual contact when it becomes clear that actually it isn't on the table is assault rape whatever it might be

Your friend is doing the classic of:

- Giving the male in the situation the role of active person in sex - he wants it he expects it he goes for it
- Writing out the woman's sexual desires altogether - the assumption if anything is that she won't want to do anything
- Not questioning at all the idea that if a man isn't offered what he wants in that position then it's something he's going to take

These are all appalling statements aren't they. What the answer is, is that:

- People like sex
- Sometimes people who like sex have sex with each other
- If one person wants to and the other doesn't then that's it no sex
- If the other then presses it then that is problematical behaviour and depending on what level of force (persuasion / coercion / threats / violence) they apply means that it strays from fucking annoying to fucking scary to fucking outrageous.

MyEmpireOfDirt Mon 27-Oct-14 15:34:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MyEmpireOfDirt Mon 27-Oct-14 15:37:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MyEmpireOfDirt Mon 27-Oct-14 15:38:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

scallopsrgreat Mon 27-Oct-14 15:40:02

I completely agree that modifying a woman's behaviour is not the answer. And women should absolutely not be berated or blamed for her behaviour when the man she is with rapes her.

Living in fear is not an answer either (although some women do - for good reason). But having those fears is not irrational either and shouldn't be swept under the carpet in an effort to remove a demarcation. It puts the onus women when the onus should be on men.

MyEmpireOfDirt Mon 27-Oct-14 15:45:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

scallopsrgreat Mon 27-Oct-14 15:48:30

YY MyEmpire totally agree.

LurcioAgain Mon 27-Oct-14 15:48:53

Seven - my experience has been v similar to yours. I think this is a mixture of the majority vs (unfortunately) sizeable minority thing. Most men are happy to be friends (and most socially functioning people can tell when sexual attraction is mutual and even when they read a situation wrong if they're decent they'll take being rebuffed with good grace). And it's important to remember there's no magic set of behaviours that keeps you safe. Of the close calls I've had, some have been instances where my twatdar has gone off but I've ignored it due to social conditioning to give people the benefit of the doubt, but other times it's because I've been completely blindsided by someone in my social circle who had everyone fooled.

I choose to assume platonic friendships with men are just that. Butthen I've been lucky enough never to have been attacked (and it is luck - not good judgement or picking the right behaviour or anything like that - I've just been lucky enough never to be alone with a rapist in a situation where I was vulnerable).

cailindana Mon 27-Oct-14 15:50:43

Totally agree Empire.

MyEmpireOfDirt Mon 27-Oct-14 15:51:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

rosdearg Mon 27-Oct-14 16:00:28

Many women have their own boundaries and their own ways of managing things so that they feel comfortable (not just safe but comfortable). I feel that some of the ways we actually act are potentially sneered as being outdated (eg not seeing the man of a couple without inviting the woman or at least finding some low-impact way of making sure she knows about the meeting; maybe inviting some third party. This is old school chaperoning, the word has gone out of fashion but not the behaviour)

I don't like the idea that women have to drop these habits, we are apologetic enough about them as it is. I am as uncomfortable with the idea that some horrible forced relaxed openness be enforced, as I am about the idea of not letting women out alone, driving cars etc.

When I was at college, it was de rigeur to sneer at old fashioned boundaries and privacy and men were always saying things like "Go on you can get changed here, what's the matter, I'm not going to do anything." And "we can share a bed, don't be ridiculous, nothing's going to happen." Many women who went along with these things (I did not and was known as a bitch) had had their boundaries violated whether they were actually raped or not,because they were embarrassed into compliance. Sadly, some were raped too.

Dervel Mon 27-Oct-14 16:04:44

I can appreciate you may feel my post may insinuate the need for women to change, given where I have posted it if nothing else.

Nothing could be further from the truth, I'm not looking to challenge women's behaviour in any way. The chap in question I believe sincerely wishes to see society to change for the better, but hasn't connected the dots between permitting rape culture to continue perpetuates the environment where it can happen.

I think you are all bang on target with it men needing to change here, and I think in that regard the first hurdle for us is most will think "well I won't rape, so it's nothing to do with me" and then in ignorance actually perpetuating the societal environment that it can occur.

cailindana Mon 27-Oct-14 16:06:33

Are you familiar with the concept of Schrodinger's rapist Dervel?

MyEmpireOfDirt Mon 27-Oct-14 16:09:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Dervel Mon 27-Oct-14 16:13:55

Yes calli I read about it on here, and it makes for very sobering reading for a guy. Also quite concerning it had never occurred to me before hearing about it here.

LurcioAgain Mon 27-Oct-14 16:28:53

"I know that I am not safe, but I set my own limits as to what level if risk I am happy to take. I don't live in fear, but I do openly acknowledge that there is nothing I can do that will protect me from attack"

YY to this, Empire. I tend to view a lot of my choices as a case of "Given that there is nothing I can do to magically make the risk go away, what do I want to get on with doing anyway?"

MyEmpireOfDirt Mon 27-Oct-14 16:43:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Dervel Mon 27-Oct-14 17:26:50

Absolutely it is. Where my brain has gotten so far with it so far is: we as a society continue on with the status quo where women are scapegoated which generates more mistrust and fear, and rapes to continue on unchallenged except in a few rare occasions to preserve the illusion that society gives a shit about it.

Or we challenge the assumptions of rape culture, and set the legal bar as enthusiastic participation and not merely a yes. I think my point is that rape divides us in more ways than just the immediately apparent ones.

MyEmpireOfDirt Mon 27-Oct-14 17:36:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SevenZarkSeven Mon 27-Oct-14 17:52:20

Well yes it cuts across the entirety of male/female interaction throughout society.

Women in general are socialised & through experience learn to be wary of men. Most men benefit from this even if they don't realise it. In all sorts of ways, often small ones. Much of this behaviour is so ingrained no-one even notices it.

So like if a man comes over in the pub and tries to chat you up and won't leave it, your reaction to him might well be far more polite than the situation warrants.Because we are taught to be "polite" and because we have experiences where things have unexpectedly turned sour. So that man, who may just be a bit of a pratt, gets chatted to nicely and persuaded to go away eventually (maybe) rather than being told to FUCK OFF which is what she actually wants to say. So he has benefited.

Additionally if he is a total arsehole he can then assault her and everyone will say " well what did you expect you were talking to him all night and smiling and stuff"....

Anyway. Of course most men have a normal sense of when someone doesn't want to talk to them and doesn't press it, and some women will just come out with "fuck off" fairly quickly. Although even those ones, probably not every time.

<rambles>

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