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Article about rape culture and a bus stop interaction?

(28 Posts)
BertieBotts Sun 01-Nov-15 23:36:02

I am looking for an article, or perhaps a blog post, I read a few years ago. I think it was linked from here.

The article spoke about how in everyday life women sometimes experience unwanted flirting or behaviour which makes them feel uncomfortable. I think the example given was a man at a bus stop who was perhaps a little bit drunk. The article talked about how she didn't tell him bluntly to go away and leave her alone but instead used subtle body language cues and lack of interest to try to communicate the same thing. (Or perhaps, even, she smiled and laughed to humour him). It also talked about the fact that if she had given an assertive, clear response it would have been seen as aggressive and unnecessary by other bystanders.

It then related this to women's interactions with men in more intimate settings and made the observation that we don't suddenly change our behaviour - we still act polite and we humour and we use smaller, subtler signals to say no, I don't like that, because we understand that it would be considered unutterably rude to actually be honest. And that people in general expect women to be demure and polite in everyday life but when there is a rape case, they contradict this by saying "Well she let him into her bedroom!" "Why didn't she tell him she wasn't interested?" "I would have punched him in the face" etc. That we aren't giving our daughters the tools to say no in the bedroom because we aren't giving them the tools to say no in the street.

It was really powerful and eye opening to me and unfortunately I didn't save it. Does anyone know the one I mean?

venusinscorpio Mon 02-Nov-15 00:34:20

I've tried copying and pasting a link but I can't right now. Google "fugitivus another post about rape"

BigChocFrenzy Mon 02-Nov-15 01:01:05

This is probably the one: Fugitivus
Yes, well worth reading

welshHairs Mon 02-Nov-15 08:54:10

Thank you all. That was a good read. I often think though, what is the best way to bring up my dd. I mean if a man shouts or stares at her, what should I teach her to do? I remember a few times it happened to me in front of my mum and she did nothing. I'd sometimes shout back which I know used to scare her.

I thought about martial arts classes as perhaps that would give her confidence that she could fight back if needed. She's not yet two so I'm ever so slightly premature but it is something I worry about a lot.

VestalVirgin Mon 02-Nov-15 09:31:58

Teach her why he does it, and that it is 100% his fault. Then let her decide on a tactic she thinks will work. Not all girls have the genes to get muscles like an amazon. Maybe she's more comfortable with using lies to deflect unwanted advances.
The most important thing is to let her know that you are 100% on her side, and that you do not blame her for men molesting her.
(I was bullied at school and my mother would forever tell me to be more normal and fit in better ... instead of plainly saying "They bully you because they are assholes." She always denies that she victim-blamed me, so maybe part of it is done unscosciously.)

I did martial arts ... it was nice, but too artsy to really help. You'd have to choose something that focuses on self-defense first and foremost. But that's up to your daughter anyway - I had a classmate who thought that it was a kind of punishment that her mother wanted her to do martial arts. I don't think that works.

You can start by encouraging your daughter to use her muscles as much as possible. Climbing, running, etc.
Keep her away from the television and internet, and if you are lucky, she'll have more muscles at age twenty than most men her age. ;)

No seriously, keep her away from television. It's been proven to lower girl's self-esteem. The portrayal of women is vile. I'd not let a child watch TV unsupervised.

TheLynchpin Mon 02-Nov-15 09:47:52


It might depend on what programmes are watched. I believe that research was conducted several years back, I'm not sure to what extent it's still applicable.

Plus, could be difficult for one's daughter when most/all her friends will be talking about a TV show that she wasn't allowed to watch - that could cause self-esteem issues in itself.

On the whole though, fully agreed. I'm not a fan of too much TV either.

VestalVirgin Mon 02-Nov-15 12:12:26

@Lynchpin: With Game of Thrones currently on TV, I think it still holds true for TV in general. sad Might not be as bad as it once was anymore, but still ... not perfect.

Limiting TV time to one show the child wants to watch and some carefully selected ones that won't harm her, might be the best way to go.

BertieBotts Mon 02-Nov-15 12:24:59

That is indeed the one smile Thank you venus and BigChoc!

welshHairs Mon 02-Nov-15 16:10:22

Well as I said she's not yet two but I do worry. It's scary to think of her out there going through the things I (and many/most/all other girls) went through. She loves running and climbing atm so I'll try and keep that up! I suppose she'll already be better off than I was because me and her dad will be totally on her side. Sorry to hear you were bullied Vestal and that your mum wasn't much help.

Dragonsdaughter Tue 03-Nov-15 07:50:21

Martial arts with a focus on self protection. My 11 year old gave a boy a black eye who was trying to kiss and I suspect groap her at the park. Neighbours and village up in arms until I was very clear how proud of her I was and another mum said he head tried this with her daughter.

Dragonsdaughter Tue 03-Nov-15 07:51:03

Physical competency and clear boundaries taught from a young age.

MommysNotTalkingToday Tue 03-Nov-15 15:29:34

I think it is also important to teach girls that they don't always have to be polite.

DD and her friends are occasionally followed/pestered by slightly older boys when they play out. I keep telling them (the girls) that it is OK to say "Please leave me alone" or "go away" or "I don't want to play with you".

It's been difficult to persuade them that they are allowed to say these things because they get so many messages telling them that they have to always be kind and considerate and polite.

Dragonsdaughter Tue 03-Nov-15 16:10:07

Exactly Mommy

VestalVirgin Tue 03-Nov-15 23:15:24

Definitely. Teach them how to be not-polite, or even outright rude. The one time I was molested as an adult was because I thought it would be "impolite" to just leave, despite knowing that there was something seriously wrong with the guy.

And I had read tons of feminist literature on how women are too polite! I KNEW I didn't have to be polite! But I still was.

Maybe it would help to roleplay such scenes with the kids. One of the things to overcome is the compulsion to remain polite if someone is talking to you in a calm voice and pretends to be reasonable.

I don't want to tell you what that asshole managed to talk me into, because I am still ashamed of being so easily manipulated, but believe me - it can happen to even the best informed. I now think you really have to train yourself out of this in terms of instinct and reflexes, not only rational thought.

Theydontknowweknowtheyknow Tue 03-Nov-15 23:57:42

Vesta, I agree and I think that is so important. All our lives we are taught to be polite and to just put up and shut up instead of causing conflict. Smile and nod so as not to offend anyone and hope it goes away.

The problem is of course is that this is often a good strategy because an angry rejected man is the last thing a woman on her own actually wants.

It's boys who need reeducating that a girl may be allowing something to happen because they are afraid of what will happen if they say no and that the onus is on them to ensure they have enthusiastic consent. It's hard for men to understand the fear women feel about saying no because they themselves are not physically vulnerable.

To give an example, when I woke up in the middle of the night to find my "friend" on top of me having sex with me my thought was "I don't want to chuck him out and have an angry man outside my door at 2 am, pissed off because he didn't get sex". So I let him carry on.

You only need to look at what happens when you tell a wolf whistler to get lost! "Oh I'm sorry for the misunderstanding love" said no brickie ever.

BertieBotts Wed 04-Nov-15 00:21:58

God theyknow, that's awful sad And you're totally right that it is a valid strategy to avoid violence from a person who is likely physically stronger than you. How shit angry

Theydontknowweknowtheyknow Wed 04-Nov-15 07:03:16

Thanks Bertie. The thing is for ages I never even classed it as rape or even sexual assault, just as me getting myself into hot water by being stupid enough to let this guy stay over.

It was only when my mum pointed out to me "you were raped", even then I was like "really?" Of course now I've imbibed the fantastic arguments of FWR I'm more likely to look at the man's behaviour (rather than analyse my reaction) and think "WTF! At what point does anyone think it's OK to stick their dick in a sleeping woman?!"

That's what FWR does to you grin

That article is brilliant btw.

TheDowagerCuntess Wed 04-Nov-15 07:36:20

I read something today that was a bit of a lightbulb moment for me, and I say this as someone who's never been raped or sexually assaulted or even treated badly by men I know, like and love (but of course, have been in the receiving end of countless examples of low level harassment from strangers/acquaintances, of the sort that all women experience).

It was this: the threat of being assaulted by men structures many women's daily experience of the world.

Men don't live their lives like this. They don't actually understand at all what it's like to live life like this. In fact, I suspect they downright don't believe it.

It doesn't happen so much any more, but as a young women, going out of the house almost guarantees some sort of run-in with a man who sees fit to whistle/comment/grope or worse. Daily.

Anyway, a month or so ago I was on the bus with then 4YO DD. A man came and sat in front of us and kept trying to talk to me. I did the smile, look away, concentrate on DD (who was looking at me with wide, questioning eyes).

In the end, when the subtle cues weren't working, I just looked him straight in the eye and said, 'I would prefer to be left alone please', and eyeballed him until he turned around. The nice man behind me then offered to swap seats.

I said to DD that everything was OK, and that its OK to tell people to leave you alone if you're not happy. I think it's so, so important to tell girls (and boys, of course, but especially girls) this.

We have to give this this message loud and clear. It's OK to tell people to stop, to leave you alone. It is not rude to do this, at all.

Thank you for this thread.

NoTechnologicalBreakdown Wed 04-Nov-15 20:15:29

Oh good grief definitely stop teaching girls to be nice and polite to strange men who they're not happy about.

You're reminding me of a personal safety video I had to watch at work sone years ago, never forgotten it. It was apparently based on. a real-world scenario, and featured a young woman heading off to her flat (in a block) when disturbed by a strange bloke who was obviously trespassing in the block. She didn't like him, it was obvious, but he bullied his way by saying things like 'What 's wrong with me then' and 'Are you too posh to be friendly' etc etc and this poor sod let him into her flat rather than not be nice, and got the obvious result, lucky not to be killed too. I was jumping up and down on the seats wanting her to just say SOD OFF. It was terrible.

Always trust your instincts girls. If you don't like a man or a situation then get the hell away from him/ it. It is never worth it. Forget being 'nice' when someone is so obviously being aggressive for cryin' out loud!

Trills Wed 04-Nov-15 20:39:18

It's not just about giving women the "tools" to say no.

They have to be in a society that would accept that.

A woman who clearly says "don't do that" and "that makes me uncomfortable" in situations where she is being made uncomfortable (not so much with strangers as with acquaintances and colleagues) is considered standoffish or "no fun" and treated badly by people who think that it's no big deal.

In order to get on in the world, we have to put up with this shit to some extent.

It's not just our behaviour that needs changing, it's also the world.

Postino Wed 04-Nov-15 21:07:16

I completely agree Trills. And if you've ever lived in a violent household as a child or adult (quite likely as I think one in three women suffers domestic violence) then you'll be particularly scared of making a man angry.

welshHairs Wed 04-Nov-15 23:05:17

Yes Postino maybe that is part of the problem. My dad was an abusive man and I do worry about men getting aggressive. I haven't connected the two before. Fortunately my dd is growing up with a good dad so hopefully that will help her.

scallopsrgreat Wed 04-Nov-15 23:48:19

I don't think women's behaviour needs to change at all. It's men's behaviour. Then there would be no need for these debates about how women should react to unwanted attention.

AskBasil Thu 05-Nov-15 02:06:49

Good article someone posted on FB today

A gentleman's guide to rape culutre

scallopsrgreat Thu 05-Nov-15 13:53:26

Oh that's quite good Basil. Thanks for that.

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