Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Slavering Beast Theory.

Photo credit: Lindowyn Stock
(Trigger warning for rape and abuse.)

I've been seeing a common underlying idea lately in a lot of discussions about violence against women.  It's an idea that explains a lot of what appear to be blindingly sexist--or just baffling--ideas about why violence happens, what it looks like, and what steps society should take against it.  I'm going to call it the Slavering Beast Theory.

In the Slavering Beast Theory, there are two kinds of men.  Two species, nearly.  (I've seen people go so far as to claim that Slavering Beasts are the result of evolution, which might make them literally a subspecies.)  There are ordinary guys and there are Slavering Beasts.  And they are very, very easy to tell apart.  They act different, even look different, to the point where any adult should be able to distinguish them in any casual social setting.

You don't have to have a PhD in Racismology to sniff out one idea often lurking beneath the surface here, but "frat boys" and "dudebros" are often suspected of being Slavering Beasts too, along with a lot of mentally ill people, counterculture members of any stripe, and sometimes even geeks.  But I don't want to make too much of this, because Slavering Beast diagnostics are almost always ex post facto--he committed violence?  Well, no wonder, he's a Slavering Beast! You should have seen it coming!

Slavering Beasts have a couple other characteristics, besides being dangerous and easy to spot:
They are brutal. If they want to hurt you, they will physically beat you and leave marks.
They are isolated.  Nobody's son, father, best friend, favorite teacher, or golf buddy is a Slavering Beast.
They are consistent. They are cruel to everyone, and have no history of positive relationships.
They are inarticulate and bad liars. They never have a convincing alibi or a genuinely sympathetic personal story.
They are useless. They never have any impressive life accomplishments or any exceptionally good qualities.
I am not one. I'm here talking to you, right? So obviously I'm not a Slavering Beast.

If a person does not meet these criteria, they are not a Slavering Beast.  Which means that they would never commit violence. Maybe if they were pushed to their absolute limit for a very good reason, but they would never be predatory.  That's a Beast thing.

This dichotomy is how someone can simultaneously believe that women shouldn't go out after dark because rape is such a big problem and believe that tons of rape accusations are false.  It makes perfect sense if you believe there are Slavering Beasts out in the dark, but if an ordinary guy is accused of rape, there must be more to the story.  It explains why people are angered by rape prevention tips aimed at men--those are insulting to ordinary guys, and Slavering Beasts won't listen.  And it justifies the belief that abuse victims had it coming: either they were abused by a Slavering Beast and should have known better, or they were abused by an ordinary guy and must have done something terrible to provoke him.

More than anything, it gives people a way to say "I'm not a Slavering Beast, so none of this applies to me."  Learning about gaining consent or recognizing abuse is pointless--Slavering Beasts will always be violent for no reason and ordinary guys never will.



Fighting this attitude without looking paranoid or accusatory ("any guy could be a rapist" seems to hit some ears as "every guy is a rapist") is tricky.  But it's necessary.  It's necessary to prevent rape--to teach people that they do have to worry about whether they, personally, are getting consent, even though they are nice people.  And it's necessary to punish rapists--to break down that mental barrier protecting Julian Assange and Roman Polanski and umpty-zillion sports players, the one that says "a likeable person who's done good things can't possibly commit rape."  Finally, it's necessary to stop blaming survivors for not having the psychic powers to know they were going to be assaulted.

This is personal to me, because I just found out that someone I knew well--someone I would never have suspected of it, a guy who was the absolute opposite of what you think a "ticking time bomb" looks like--had the cops called on him for beating his girlfriend.  But I'm resisting the knee-jerk response of insisting there must be some mistake, some extenuating circumstance, some "other side of the story."  The story is he was a jokey friendly guy and he beat up his girlfriend. Rape and abuse are acts, not people, and it's impossible to know a person so well that you know exactly which acts they can engage in. (ETA: There were outside witnesses and she was injured; this was not a he-said-she-said case.)



This is why I don't like the statement "she didn't get raped because of something she did; she got raped because she was in the presence of a rapist."  I think we need to say "she didn't get raped because of something she did; she got raped because her attacker decided to rape her.



Edit: I deliberately didn't include female or queer perpetrators of violence here because I think they don't get fit into the same stereotypes, and a friend pointed out on Twitter that this is another harm of the whole "bad men do bad things" myth--it casts straight men as the only possible Slavering Beasts.

91 comments:

  1. I dislike "s/he got raped" as a clause no matter what's coming after it. "He raped her" is at least to the point. I have to say, though, I do hear the former a LOT more than the latter. Passive voice, ngh.

    At least, according to my totally unscientific XKCD-style Google poll, this does not hold true on the internet. (4,690,000 to 2,760,000, non-trivial results.*) That's both comforting and a little bit bemusing.


    *Sadly "he got raped" has about a billion false positives on gamer forums.

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  2. I think most guys react to 'Shrodinger's rapist' rationale about as well as most women react to 'Shrodinger's gold digger' or 'Shrodinger's baby momma'.

    Everyone resents the implication that they have to defend themselves against the accusation of being something horrible, simply because of their gender.

    Everyone hates a knee jerk, even though we all have them. We all take mental shortcuts based on our preconceptions, negative experiences and cognitive biases. We see domestic violence and we color the events with our own prejudice. We hear 'he had the cops called on him for beating his girlfriend' and we assume that he was our buddy and a good guy and it must have been self defense. Was he supposed to let her him him with a fry pan? Or we assume that it's another case of you can never trust a man to be a good man - they're all wife beaters until they're taught better.

    The attitudes are hard to fight because they're so emotionally loaded. Almost every guy has a few secret fears about an unjust rape or domestic violence accusation. Even an acquittal in court isn't a social acquittal. The accusation alone is often enough to trash a guys life even when completely cleared in court.

    Then comes the moment of wondering what he'd do if he had to chose between defending himself or letting himself be harmed if attacked by a woman?

    Any guy with an income disparity between himself and his partner has had a moment of paranoia about how genuine the affection is and wondered how he'd cope if it turns out the person he loves is only in it for the money.

    Nobody wants to see themselves, or anyone they love on either side of an awful relationship. Nobody wants to be a monster or think that they're judgement is poor enough that they wouldn't spot/love a monster. But the issues aren't gender defined. The exact flavor of the fear and the subject of the denial might change - but it's there regardless of gender.

    On the topic of Julian Asange - I really do think the guy is walking trash. While Wikileaks has some ideas I support, the guy is just a blatant jerk on a lot of issues. But he's being accused by a woman who published celebratory comments on twitter after the alleged rape until she found out that he'd also had consensual sex with someone else around the same time period ... A woman who's published an e-book about getting revenge on cheating ex's using rape laws, and a legal case being pushed by an activist who believes that in any relationship with a physical strength or financial position disparity, a sexual act with full consent can be deemed rape at any time after that fact because the weaker or less wealthy partner says so... And these charges only cropped up after he embarrassed a government known for sleaze campaigns in domestic politics and questionable ethics in international politics? And the events as presented by the victim wouldn't actually be criminal in the country he currently resides in, his home nation of Australia, or the US or Canada...

    I'm not saying it's absolutely a trumped up charge - but it certainly seems questionable enough to reserve judgement, and a bit of a stretch to list him in the same breath of Roman Polanski - who's sole defense was that he's made some popular movies and the victim doesn't want to go through a media circus.

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  3. It's only base, vile and nasty when someone else does it. We always have a perfectly good reason for everything.

    Dr. Love recommends 8 hugs a day [http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_zak_trust_morality_and_oxytocin.html].

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  4. I think most guys react to 'Shrodinger's rapist' rationale about as well as most women react to 'Shrodinger's gold digger' or 'Shrodinger's baby momma'.

    The "Schroedinger's rapist rationale" is not about men being rapists. It's about why women are suspicious of men they don't know, and how well-intentioned men can avoid giving off signals that will make a woman incorrectly treat them as predators.

    But the fact that you think rape is to women as financial greed is to men says *buckets*.

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  5. Almost every guy has a few secret fears about an unjust rape or domestic violence accusation.

    Uh-huh, but the question there is, why? And is the answer the same reason that almost every woman has secret fears about being raped?

    Schrödinger's Rapist is there because nearly every woman personally knows someone who's been raped. Don't think you can say the same for nearly every man and 'unjustly accused'.

    Trying to strike egalitarian balance across unequal gender relations only results in a lot of false equivalencies. And tears.

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  6. I volunteered in a rape shelter part time for two years after a friend was raped and spent some time in the shelter...I've seen the ugliest parts of rape survival as closely as it's possible to see them without being raped myself. I've also seen abuse victims who were the subject of phsycological and financial abuse go through hell, end up homeless, attempt suicide and in some cases actually kill themselves.

    If you really don't think that what guys go through in an abusive relationship is equivalent, then I think you need to go and meet some more victims.

    Sexism is ugly even when you give it a nicer name. I've never met anyone who actually works with both male and female victims who has the kind of gender prejudices that seem some prevalent in blog comments.

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    1. Dude, the male equivalent to rape, is rape. NOT false accusations or gold-digging.

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    2. Dude. Schrodinger's rapist isn't about rape: it's about the fear of other people (raping you). He (she?) wasn't trying to minimalize rape. Calm down.

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  7. ...though this may sound weird, thank you for mentioning that frat boys are not Slavering Beasts.

    I say this not because I have any particular love for fraternities, but because, at my college orientation, there was a point at which an upperclassman talked to us about (a presentation about) rape culture. And, guess what, this was a guy, who was in a frat. And he seemed genuinely disturbed by the idea that anyone would not get consent for sex.

    So, uh, my stereotypes were shattered and I'm hoping that I can pass that on.

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  8. Uh... but nobody was saying 'some abuse is worse than others'. Really it was more, 'being scammed is not the same as being raped'.

    Good to know that when you said "gold diggers" and "baby mamas" you really meant "abusive girlfriends", though! That wasn't super-clear on first read.


    On-topic: it's a great and coherent post, and I'd like to quibble with it.

    "... it's impossible to know a person so well that you know exactly which acts they can engage in."

    I would say it's impossible to predict which acts a person can engage in. After the fact, it turns out you can know someone way better than you ever wanted to in that regard.

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  9. A golddigger is not the same as an abusive girlfriend. Using someone for their money when you aren't genuinely interested in them is a shitty thing to do, but it's not the same as being raped. Please note that I'm not saying any type of abuse is "worse" than another, but just that using someone for financial gain is different from raping them. Because they *are* different. Also, this post is primarily about rape and physical abuse.

    Plus, when you set up "golddiggers" or "false rape accusers" as some kind of male equivalent of rape, that feeds the (ridiculous) notion that men don't get raped. (Also, it's not like women never get used for their money/status, either. I know it's not as common as it happening to men, but it DOES happen.) The male equivalent of rape IS RAPE. Being psychologically abused or used for your money, while awful, is not the same as being raped. And what this post is about is rape and physical abuse, and the victim-blaming that often results. Going off about "golddiggers" is a derail.

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  10. ahhh why can't I share this to tumblr? This may be my favorite post by you yet, Holly, and that's saying a lot.

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  11. Women are vastly more likely to be raped by someone they already know. When people advocate this theory, I often wonder what they think of victims of "acquaintance rape." If the rapists are so easy to spot, why don't women do a better job of avoiding them?

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  12. While I can appreciate the point being made, I'm also slightly concerned about lumping Assange together with Polanski.

    Although the extradition request has just been approved, he has not been tried and convicted in a court of law, and I therefore have to regard him as legally innocent until proven guilty. More to the point, until such a conviction is secured, calling him a rapist is potentially libelous.

    Although the Polanski case didn't come to trial either, neither person involved disputes the core fact that Polanski committed rape (Polanski even owned up to it in his own autobiography), so it's a rather different situation.

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  13. "well-intentioned men can avoid giving off signals that will make a woman incorrectly treat them as predators. "

    I have to say I'm curious about this point. What are those signals and how do we avoid giving them off? Are they the same for every woman, or do they depend on her interpretation?

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  14. Quoting an earlier comment, I have no knowledge of the supposed twitter comments, the e-book, or the political position which sounds like it could come from cherry-picking certain otherwise unsurprising bits of radical feminism. However, as for this bit: "And these charges only cropped up after he embarrassed a government known for sleaze campaigns in domestic politics and questionable ethics in international politics? And the events as presented by the victim wouldn't actually be criminal in the country he currently resides in, his home nation of Australia, or the US or Canada..."

    NO. That is false. If someone with full knowledge of the case tells you that, they are lying.

    I'll grant that some prominent news sources (aided by Mr. Asange's lawyers) did in fact initially misrepresent the charges in this manner, so I guess I can back off and say anyone repeating those statements at this stage is merely guilty of being misinformed, and has somehow missed all the subsequent corrections.

    It might be argued that the Swedish government - which doesn't have a good record when it comes to actually following through on rape prosecutions - is prosecuting this more strongly than they would otherwise because of international pressure. But that's it - the criminal complaints were made well before any large Wikileaks publicity, and the actual detailed charges (which we know of only because someone did a wikileak-style release of documents that in Sweden are normally not public) include things like initiating sexual intercourse with someone who was asleep at the time and when last awake had explicitly said no to intercourse. I don't know of a common-law based legal system where that isn't rape.

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  15. @Anon Nov3 5:48

    It does vary from woman to woman and from culture to culture, but generally:

    Respect personal space (this can be a cultural thing, but generally 1'6" is a good compromise)
    Look at their face and around their face
    Don't leer over them
    Don't hit on strange women in the street
    Respect their words and body language - if they look uncomfortable, back off

    This is based on my various experience with creepers - this is the behavior that caused me to think of them as creepers. Otherwise they'd just be "man on bus", "older bloke buying coffee" or "sandwitch shop employee".

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  16. I've come across what looks to me like a manifestation of this sort of thing recently- a teacher at my school stopped, well, being a teacher at my school a few years back, and was recently convicted of some abuse-of-position type stuff; the one that got most of the reporting was persuading some pupils to have sex on the back seat of the car. Naturally, there was a rash of Facebook comments along the lines of "Urrgh, what a horrible person, I can't believe he taught me."

    It seemed like I was the only person thinking "Well, yes, that's a horrible thing he did and it's good that he got caught and won't be in a position to do that sort of thing again- but that doesn't actually mean he wasn't good at the things he /was/ supposed to be doing."

    People don't seem to be able to see more than one side to someone in this sort of matter- if you're a sex offender, there can't possibly be anything good about you. That bothers me, and I think it's only likely to cause more problems down the line.

    This might read like an apology for the offenders. It's not meant to be, and I fully support legal action, support for the victims, and punishment for the offenders- I just don't think humans are as black and white as people's attitudes seem to assume, and I think we should be trying to make the dark grey people lighter grey.

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  17. You seem to have missed Scootah's point, Mythago. He's saying that "any guy could be a rapist" is offensive to male ears the same way that "any gal could be a gold digger" or "any gal could sabotage our birth control" is offensive to female ears.

    In fact, given your (correct, IMO) position that rape is significantly worse than golddigging, ultimately the logical outcome of your argument is that men are in a better place to be offended about those things than women are about Scootah's hyoptheticals, since rape is a worse thing to be presumed capable of.

    So, yes. From the perspective of comparing rape to monetary loss, women have more to be worried about, and less to be offended about by inadvertent grouping.

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    1. Glad to know men being offended by the fact that they belong to the gender that most commonly rapes is of equal importance to women fearing, you know, rape.

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  18. While the "Slavering Beast" theory doesn't fit at all, it is true that the majority of rapes appear to be committed by a minority of repeat offenders who know how to use minimal force to coerce their victims. (http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/meet-the-predators/ ) However, these people can be perfectly charming individuals. A guy who I *know* has assaulted multiple women is also frequently complimented on his helpfulness.

    That said, they've also reevaluated domestic violence into two main types. One is coercive, isolating, and systematic. The other is a brief moment that's less about being controlling & more about a moment of someone's temper out of control. It also is more likely to be an isolated incident & occurs equally among men and women.

    It wouldn't surprise me if you can divide rapists into two types as well -- the chronic, serial rapist (who may well seem like a nice, funny guy), and, the guy for whom it's an isolated incident for whatever reasons at the time.

    That said, I am a major supporter of the "Yes means yes" paradigm. Previous abuse victims also often have trouble asserting boundaries. Someone may feel they're not in a safe situation to say no, even if the guy had no intentions of being threatening. Some people freeze when they're afraid. Changing the focus to only *positive consent* would make it easier to avoid misunderstandings, and, more importantly, makes it easier for a woman to say "Yes, that was abuse."

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  19. It's astonishing to me how threatening it apparently is to supposedly Nice Guys™ to point out that it is in fact pretty likely that one or more Nice Guys™ they know have raped someone.

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  20. Thank you so much for this... everything you wrote is spot-on. I've had some personal experience with this "slavering beast theory"; I have never been raped, but I was sexually assaulted by someone I met at a party. I was passed out from a combination of sleepiness and too much alcohol, and this guy decided it would be pretty cool to fondle me while I was unconscious. Luckily my friend walked in and quickly got me the hell out of there. I was fairly upset after learning what had happened, but I was even more upset by the reactions of my male friends. My attacker was (and still is) a good friend of theirs, and they adamantly refused to believe he could have done this, or that it could have been that bad if he did. He's such a nice, normal guy, such a good friend, it must have been some sort of misunderstanding, blahblahblah. After a while, I was beginning to wonder if I really was overreacting. That incident still bothers me to this day. It was a comfort to read this post and know that NO, what he did was not OK and YES, "normal" guys can be sexual predators.

    Again, thank you.

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  21. I have a good guy friend I have known for years. He's a very bright pre-med student. He volunteers with children and the environment. He considers himself a feminist if the topic comes up, generally has a lot of respect for women, and becomes very upset by even the idea of rape or abuse. And yet one night when he was sleeping at my house, he came into my bedroom while I slept and tried to lift up and look under my clothes. I halfway woke up and caught him. He apologized profusely and expressed shame, and I really doubt he would ever actually harm me, but...shades of grey. This guy may be the most moral person I know, and he was/is capable of predation.

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  22. I keep going back to the post you made a while back -- the one in which you asked what kind of sex these people are having, the ones who say later that they had no idea their partner wasn't consenting. I can't imagine having sex with someone and *not* paying careful and close attention to what feels good to them. And if I were ever trying to have sex with someone and she didn't seem actively engaged/into it, I can't imagine not stopping to check in and see what's wrong.

    Maybe it's different because I'm a lesbian? That seems so reductive at first glance, but maybe it isn't. Maybe it's different for men who have been socialized in horrible sex-negative areas where everyone is so uptight that women never really do much responding or engaging in bed? *ponders* I don't know.

    In any case, thanks for making this post, and that one too. You've helped me think.

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  23. @soukup: the biggest difference in you being a lesbian is that you KNOW women feel sexual desire, because you yourself are a woman with sexual desire. A lot of men are convinced that women just don't like sex - therefore there wouldn't be any signs of enthusiasm and engagement to check for.

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  24. This article gets at a lot of why I am getting such "you're doing it wrong!" vibes from this: http://feministing.com/2011/11/02/white-house-announces-iphone-apps-to-address-sexual-abuse/

    On the one hand, I'm glad to see that government higher-ups are acknowledging the prevalence of violence, and that it can potentially be mitigated through proper application of technology. On the other, the whole central concept of both apps seem to founded on the idea that it's possible to know in advance (because you have to have the app already on your smartphone for it to be helpful, of course) that you're going to need it. Nobody thinks to themselves, "oh, I'm going out tonight with a group of horrible people," or else they wouldn't be going out with that group. (And in the case of domestic violence situations, it seems to me like victims of controlling partners would not be able to "get away with" installing the app at all.) Worse, anybody who does install the app either 1) is "paranoid" or 2) if something bad does happen, "clearly saw it coming, so why didn't they do a better job avoiding it?"

    So until these apps are framed as general-use "emergency contact" apps -- or better yet, are integrated as features that come pre-packaged with phones -- they're not going to be a whole lot of help.

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  25. 5:48 am Anon.

    Check out this article by Phaedra Starling on the blog Shapely Prose -
    Shrodinger's Rapist: or a guy's guide to approaching strange women without being maced

    http://kateharding.net/2009/10/08/guest-blogger-starling-schrodinger’s-rapist-or-a-guy’s-guide-to-approaching-strange-women-without-being-maced/

    It articulates some basic behaviors to be aware of, as well as the underlying motivations that can be problematic.

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  26. I think there's also a pervading idea of "rape" as a monolithic single act which is easily describable. I think that "predatory behaviour" might be a better descriptor for a lot of the nasty stuff that happens. I'm also a big fan of the term "vampiric behaviour", but that's because I have the quirk of describing things in magical terms because it helps my brain work better.

    My point is: it's easier to do away with the Slavering Beast theory if you also do away with the idea of single-trait personalities generally. It's an uncomfortable truth pointed out in Holly's article that the guy who's now in court for beating his partner is *otherwise a pretty neat guy, at least publically*. This isn't actually a case of him "hiding his hideous true self" - it's that he's an otherwise pleasant guy with a horribly unacceptable way of dealing with romantic partners.

    My wife has an ex who we still have regular dealings with, on account of he's the father of my stepdaughter. Now, while they were together he was the classic psychological abuser. Nothing physical but lots of clever nasty mental stuff, and lots of goading her to physically attack him, so that he could document the evidence and blackmail her with it. Also, he was a pretty severe alcoholic while they were together. This started as soon as they stopped living in the same house as his parents.

    Since they've separated, he's actually been a pretty caring, considerate and helpful third parent. We've also noticed an interesting pattern in his relationships with other women. They seem stable enough while he's in the same town as his parents, if they leave town it all falls to bits. We don't know the precise circumstances, but it's easy enough to extrapolate from past data on this one.

    The conclusion? He's a nice enough guy while being underwritten financially and emotionally by his family, but when that support is removed he starts to drink and when he drinks heavily he gets nasty.

    Or, to put it another way, he's prone to predatory and manipulative behaviour in x set of circumstances. Which is not, of course, to absolve him of responsibility for that behaviour - just to point out that any model that relies on an underlying idea of "evil" is doomed to failure.

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  27. While I agree that the archetypical "Slavering Beast" is male, I'm not sure that they have to be, and I'm pretty certain that they *don't* have to be straight. Maybe in the "rape of women" case they do, but there are a LOT of homophobes who seem to think that anyone who's not straight is a Slavering Beast - predatory, ruled by their deviant desires, and liable to commit all sorts of sexual atrocities. Heck, that's also where a lot of stigma about being kinky comes from - if they're into *that* sort of thing, they must be some sort of Slavering Beast!

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  28. "well-intentioned men can avoid giving off signals that will make a woman incorrectly treat them as predators. "

    And predators couldn't avoid giving off those signals until they are ready to pounce? How does this actually change anything, aside from some men seeming less creepy?

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  29. "This guy may be the most moral person I know, and he was/is capable of predation."

    I'd argue that that guy is definitely (hopefully) not the most moral person that you know.

    I'm not, of course, saying that what he did makes everything about him automatically evil. And I'm not saying that the good things he does are now not good - sure, it's possible for people with bad intentions to do good things to hide their true selves, but it's just as possible that he's acting honestly. I just think we need to be careful not to excuse or ignore the severity of offenses just because the person might have done other good things.

    There are all kinds of levels of gray here.

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  30. "And predators couldn't avoid giving off those signals until they are ready to pounce? How does this actually change anything, aside from some men seeming less creepy?"

    You're assuming, again, that there's a kind of person who is a predator, and that they behave like supervillains.

    The kind of person to be dangerous to a stranger at random is probably not going to be very good at masking their signals. That's one of the reasons serial killers aren't actually all that common.

    "I'm not, of course, saying that what he did makes everything about him automatically evil. And I'm not saying that the good things he does are now not good - sure, it's possible for people with bad intentions to do good things to hide their true selves, but it's just as possible that he's acting honestly. I just think we need to be careful not to excuse or ignore the severity of offenses just because the person might have done other good things."

    It's also possible that both the bad things and the good things the person does *are* their true nature. That doesn't excuse the person their sins, it just redefines your thinking so you're not in the trap of assuming that people are only bad or only good.

    See, I think predatory behaviours are cognitive traps people can fall into, like drug or alcohol abuse. They're shortcuts to getting people to do what you want, and they work in many cases. People who start down this road, have a hard time extricating themselves, because they've come to rely on this one trick for their social and or sexual interactions.

    Again, this doesn't excuse them, it just points out that it's not that they do these things because they're bad - we describe them as bad because they do those things.

    And it's a slippery slope, as a dad with two kids, I can tell you how tempting it can be to just shortcut an argument and thump them. Trouble is, once you do that, you start to rely on it and to define your relationship with them in violent terms. And that's a slippery slope I'd prefer to stay away from.

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  31. Schroedinger's Rapist is meant to be descriptive, not prescriptive. It's not an admonishment of "Ladies, watch out, because any man could be a rapist!"

    It's more like "men, be aware, ladies are judging whether you could be a rapist." It's something that already happens. Pretty much any woman who's out of her teens and doesn't live a very sheltered life has to make these calculations. The blog post is just trying to explain to men that this happens.

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  32. @soukup: I can't imagine having sex with someone and *not* paying careful and close attention to what feels good to them....

    Maybe it's different because I'm a lesbian?


    I'm not a lesbian (wrong "equipment" :-) ), but I can't imagine making love (I hate the term "having sex") with someone where I couldn't tell if they were happy with what we were doing.

    But then, I'm not the kind of guy who feels like his masculinity depends upon being the one who takes all the initiative and controls what happens. I kind of expect my partner to do some of the things to move the process along, as it were. If she were to simply passively accept what I do, I'd run out of steam.

    It's sort of like a conversation: if my partner were to just sit there and smile and just sort of agree with me and never contribute anything of her own, I would start to feel real uncomfortable, and at some point not really feel like talking.

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  33. @scoutah & Nikki: Everyone resents the implication that they have to defend themselves against the accusation of being something horrible, simply because of their gender

    Just like everyone resents being treated as a potential terrorist or hijacker, just because they want to get onto an airliner. Or being treated as a potential bad-check passer, just because they want to cash a check.

    Unfortunately, since the airline (and now the TSA) can't tell you aren't a terrorist or hijacker just from looking at you, from their point of view, you are a potential terrorist or hijacker.

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  34. perlhaqr: No, I got his point. It's still stupid, even in your attempt to massage it into something sensible, and it's still pretty vile to derail by pretending Schroedinger's Rapist says "any guy could be a rapist" - which it doesn't as anyone who spent five minutes reading the article instead of being offended that ANY woman ANYWHERE might not automagically detect with a mere glance that he is not a Slavering Beast would perceive. I'll link it below and anybody who wants to play "but isn't it just like when you bitches get free drinks out of us?" can talk about it elsewhere.

    http://bit.ly/aaCvLj

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  35. He apologized profusely and expressed shame, and I really doubt he would ever actually harm me, but..

    But, he did. He tried to undress you while you were incapable of refusing or stopping him. Why do you classify him as "the most moral person I know"?

    It's one thing to point out that people do not neatly fall into categories of Angelic or Completely Evil. It's quite another to keep offering "shades of gray" an an excuse for people choosing to behave badly.

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  36. Holly: Schroedinger's Rapist is meant to be descriptive, not prescriptive. It's not an admonishment of "Ladies, watch out, because any man could be a rapist!"

    It's more like "men, be aware, ladies are judging whether you could be a rapist." It's something that already happens. Pretty much any woman who's out of her teens and doesn't live a very sheltered life has to make these calculations. The blog post is just trying to explain to men that this happens.


    Well as I remember it, it was written in response to a flame war over this xkcd* comic. So it was trying to make the point that men really didn't understand that women are judging them despite the original joke hinging on being able to to understand that, to the extent that it's part of the protagonist's internal dialog.

    *http://xkcd.com/642

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  37. Mythago: I'm disappointed that you feel compelled to deny my experience on hearing the phrase "any guy could be a rapist", instead choosing to womynsplain about how talking about my feelings means I'm "derailing". Your attempt to kick me (and presumably Scootah) out of Holly's comment's section is pretty brassy, too.

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  38. Good post Holly.

    In regards to golddiggers vs. rapists: No, just no. Golddigging is not even inherently abusive, any more than shallowness is. Not to mention that people actually do take precautions to make sure they're financially independent enough from their lovers to prevent financial exploitation, especially when the relationship is new. It's just that they're rarely perceived as quite so offensive as taking precautions about not letting someone rape you is.

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  39. Anonymous: “And predators couldn't avoid giving off those signals until they are ready to pounce? How does this actually change anything, aside from some men seeming less creepy?”

    It changes things because predators often do a lot of boundary testing. That doesn't mean they can't otherwise be nice, and even moral, but they frequently take things too far under the guise of it just being innocent friendliness, and because they can often be otherwise friendly, people are prone to believing them. So while outsiders overlook the little things amidst all the niceness, the target of the behaviour can still find it creepy.

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  40. To expand on what Wetherby said about lumping Assange in with Polanski and others who have basically gotten away with rape is absolutely ridiculous. In my understanding, Assange isn't even being charged with rape as most of the world knows it at all, but with actually having consensual sex with a woman whom he pressured into doing the act without a condom. Guess what the illegal part of that is in Sweden? A man pressuring a woman to have consensual sex without a condom, when she would prefer they did it with one. Just gonna throw this out there, but that's not rape, and when writing an article about attitudes and sensitivity to rape in our culture, you should probably vet your examples better than that.

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    1. I love how you explicitly say "pressured" and "consensual sex" in the same sentence. Any sex that's pressured? That's rape.

      Delete
  41. JamesGray - "AA tried several times to reach for a condom which Assange had stopped her from doing by holding her arms and bending her legs open and try to penetrate her with his penis without using a condom. AA says that she felt about to cry since she was held down and could not reach a condom and felt this could end badly."

    That's not "aw honey, I don't want to use a condom" "aw honey, okay." That's rape.

    Do I have proof that it's true? Fuck no. But I'm disturbed by the way "but WikiLeaks!" is being treated as proof that it's not.

    (Also, maybe I'm no good at conspiracy theories, but I feel like if someone wanted to discredit him with a false allegation they'd make it a little more like something the public would recognize as "rape-rape." If you're making it up anyway, why not?)

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  42. In some ways, I feel bizarrely lucky, in that my abuser was in some ways a pretty reprehensible human being. He was a failure in many ways, completely reliant on his wealthy parents for financial support, and socialized with people much younger than he was because people his age tended to avoid him (also because I presume he found younger people easier to manipulate--he was twenty and we were sixteen when he got to us).

    He wasn't a slavering beast, though. He was a slightly built, geeky, spineless little leech with delusions of knightly chivalry and ninjadom. He just had a few manipulative tricks that worked very well on some people, and he was a paragon of the (not) Nice Guy.

    Which means that of course, we have to deal with the, "Then why did it take you so long to leave?" While of course, had he been more nice (and keep in mind, this guy tended to come off as pathetic, not predatory), we would've had to deal with, "Are you SURE he could've done it?"

    Heads he wins, tails we lose. Again, the onus is always on us to avoid him.

    --Rogan

    PS: It also pisses me off how some of these comments seem to take all this entry is talking about and turns it into "Julian Assange."

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  43. JamesGray -

    Like Holly already said - sex without a condom, when one has been requested, is still rape.

    There are a lot of reasons for this - several of which can be pulled from the list of 'without a condom, you can get diseases and /die/.'

    But I find it especially creepy that you think it's not rape if someone "pressur[es] a woman to have consensual sex without a condom, when she would prefer they did it with one." When one partner has stated that they're not interested in a certain sex act, and the other partner goes ahead with it, wouldn't you call that rape?

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  44. *gently slides in* there's often another side to the story and it is valid and worth considering. Considering both sides of the story equally without bias is not an attempt to declare one person wrong. It is basically the fundamental point of any true justice system.

    Even if there is no justification for the action (which there probably is not) there may be an explanation, and explanations are *extraordinarily important* if we are going to attempt to rehabilitate rather than punish.

    If you do not believe in rehabilitation then you and I will never see eye to eye. Everyone makes mistakes and just because some mistakes are more grave than others doesn't stop people from having the capacity to grow and change.

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  45. @superglucose
    "Everyone makes mistakes and just because some mistakes are more grave than others doesn't stop people from having the capacity to grow and change."

    But that's just it - sexual assault is not a 'mistake'. It's not an accident. It is someone actively choosing to do something awful to someone else because they wanted to. Unless a predator takes responsibility for that, they're not going to change (and sexual offenders reoffend frequently).

    Plus, outside of a court of law, individuals don't have the same responsibility to be balanced. Given that the vast majority of rape accusations are true, assuming that someone accused is probably guilty isn't unreasonable.

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  46. The "Schroedinger's rapist rationale" is not about men being rapists. It's about why women are suspicious of men they don't know, and how well-intentioned men can avoid giving off signals that will make a woman incorrectly treat them as predators.(Mythago)

    Yep, and the 5'4 125lb man walking up on the 5'11 180lb woman should be acutely aware of this, right? Because after all, in this world of equality he better be sure to remember she is the weaker more vulnerable gender.

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  47. No one said we had a world of equality. That's kind of the point.

    But frankly, any person walking up on any person should be acutely aware of this. We don't live in a world where "people should see it's just little ol' me and become completely trusting" is a reasonable expectation.

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  48. @Holly

    Actually trusting your instincts is better, rather than one shoe fits all. I teach my daughter this all the time. We live in a world where some people have been abused and are wary(justifiably) of others AND we have other people who do not see the potential violator at every corner. The common denominator is the viewer from both sides. What you ask is for one side to always see it one way.

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  49. I'm not quite sure what you're arguing?

    I'm saying that people who have the capacity for evil can look just the same as anyone else, and not trigger any "instincts" at all until it's too late. This doesn't mean we should treat everyone like criminals, but it does mean we shouldn't assume it's impossible for a specific person to be a criminal, no matter who they are.

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  50. But does it mean we should assume that they are? You can be aware of your situation without having to fear that at any time you could be attacked. Ideas like Shrodinger rapist instill fear rather than awareness. What the other person does or does not do makes no difference. Afterall, if it is a rapist they are probably going to try and make you feel "comfortable" so as to get close enough to attack.

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  51. I said this above, but Schroedinger's Rapist isn't an instruction to women. It's an explanation of something that already happens. If you're a woman who's been out in the world for a bit, judging "is this guy dangerous?" is something you don't need to be told to do.

    And like you said, bad people can act nice. (And good people can decide to do bad things. It's not like if you're real nice all your life you become physically incapable of violence.) The point of this post is not to put too much faith in character evidence--not to assume you know for certain that someone is good and therefore all their actions are good. Because you can't know that.

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  52. @Holly

    I would agree that you cant get too many reads from a one time event but the same is not true for being around individuals a little more often. One thing I have been helping my daughter with is "reading" people and their behaviours. Most people cant hide their true selves for very long. My point though is that the common denominator is not me but who is viewing me. My actual behaviour is of little relevance for the person who has been accosted or fears being accosted. They will be fearful of me regardless of what I do, unless they are shown different over time. Walking fast or slow, having my head up or down, my hands in or out of my pocket with someone like this will still invoke that same feeling.

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    1. I feel bad for your daughters. You clearly don't understand the concept of "Shrodingers Rapist", or you wouldn't be arguing with Holly. I suggest you go back and read the essay, perhaps several times, until you understand what Holly is telling you.

      Delete
  53. Most people cant hide their true selves for very long.
    Tell it to the FBI. Sounds like they could use someone with your psychic powers.

    Or imagine the benefit to the court system! You could spend a couple days with everyone accused of a crime and come out and tell everyone whether they were guilty or not! That's way better than this whole "evidence" dealy.

    I know I'm getting snarky here, but no, you can't "just know" someone. You can set probabilities. But they can't be 100%. And you shouldn't be setting those probabilities high at all if you don't know the person but just see that they have a few superficial markers of "seems nice enough."

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  54. Hershele OstropolerNovember 5, 2011 at 12:21 PM

    JamesGrey: Assange isn't even being charged with rape as most of the world knows it at all, but with actually having consensual sex with a woman whom he pressured into doing the act without a condom.

    Then it's not consensual. And that's rape as the part of the world that's my house knows it.

    Eris Fnord: When one partner has stated that they're not interested in a certain sex act, and the other partner goes ahead with it, wouldn't you call that rape?

    I don't think everyone is thinking about it that specifically. It's superficially reasonable to say "if two people agree to have sex, and they have sex, it's not rape."

    Of course, that's prone to the fallacy of equivocation. If the sex they agree to is different in a meaningful way from the sex they have, it almost certainly is rape.

    Claire: Plus, outside of a court of law, individuals don't have the same responsibility to be balanced. Given that the vast majority of rape accusations are true, assuming that someone accused is probably guilty isn't unreasonable.

    What Claire is responding to might be the most insidious form of rape apology.

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  55. Hello everyone,

    I like the post and think this "evil predator"-thing is just, how many people deal with rape.

    Apologies to Rogan for insisting on that topic:

    While I think Assange is accused of doing something any sensible person would call rape, I really can't see, why one should call him a rapist at the moment and would like to know why you do it.
    Why not wait until a judge declares him one or declares him "not guilty"?

    I mean the post would have had the same message without mentioning Assange.

    Robert

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  56. Hershele - Also, if you read the description of the actual act, it wasn't like he just slipped it in without a condom.

    "AA tried several times to reach for a condom which Assange had stopped her from doing by holding her arms and bending her legs open and try to penetrate her with his penis without using a condom. AA says that she felt about to cry since she was held down and could not reach a condom and felt this could end badly."

    At the point where you're holding someone down while they're struggling and on the verge of tears, the condom thing is barely relevant--that's what rape looks like.

    Robert - Apparently this post wouldn't have the same impact without mentioning Assange, because it wouldn't hit a lot of people's personal "but he's a special exception!" buttons.

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  57. Holly

    How many times does the FBI find out after the fact that there were lots of "probabilities" that people tended to overlook. I try to help my daughter not overlook those markers. I heard a good saying a while back.

    "When someone shows you who they are, believe them"

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  58. Tit for Tat - How many times does the FBI find out after the fact that there were lots of "probabilities" that people tended to overlook.
    Why do you think you wouldn't overlook the same things?

    It's good to be aware of people--in practical terms it's a very useful skill--but it's bad to be so certain of someone that you're not willing to consider the possibility you were wrong about them all along.

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  59. Holly

    Im not talking absolute. Im talking developing skills. There is no guarantee, as we both know. :(
    My hope is to help my child be more aware AND stay a loving, trusting, caring human being. Consistent Fear takes away from that possibility.
    As a victim of violence I am acutely aware of certain traits that lend to a higher probability of violent behaviour.
    Thanks for the discussion, hope you a have a great day.

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  60. Did anyone here ever consider that nobody is a rapist until AFTER they commit rape? Or that even someone who HAS committed the act isn't completely defined by that act? That's not to say that predators don't exist, but not everyone who ever got angry and hit his girlfriend or gave into temptation and groped the drunk girl he'd always fancied when she couldn't say "No" is de facto a predator.

    We all of us have our moments of weakness. It's part of being human. What we do *is* important, but it's not half as important as how we think of ourselves afterwards. The people you have to worry about are the ones who blame others for making them weak.

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  61. Hershele OstropolerNovember 5, 2011 at 4:52 PM

    Holly: At the point where you're holding someone down while they're struggling and on the verge of tears, the condom thing is barely relevant--that's what rape looks like.

    That's true, certainly, but when the difference between Sandy's consent and nonconsent is condom versus no condom respectively, and Pat goes ahead without a condom, that too is what rape looks like. I assume we're in vehement agreement on this, I know you're the last person to reject someone's claim to have been raped because it doesn't fit a narrow paradigm!

    Anon 11/5 15:00: Did anyone here ever consider that nobody is a rapist until AFTER they commit rape?

    No. I've never considered that before. You've opened up a whole new world to me.

    Or that even someone who HAS committed the act isn't completely defined by that act?

    Everyone who has committed rape is a rapist. Whatever else they are.

    Fortunately, there's an easy (I would think) way to avoid that sad fate.

    What we do *is* important, but it's not half as important as how we think of ourselves afterwards

    No matter what you think of yourself afterwards, rape is wrong. What are you trying to say here?

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  62. Yep, and the 5'4 125lb man walking up on the 5'11 180lb woman should be acutely aware of this, right? Because after all, in this world of equality he better be sure to remember she is the weaker more vulnerable gender.

    Awww, it's cute when people think being heavy and tall is all you need to win a fight. At 6' and 160 lbs, I used to believe the same thing - until the first time I was pinned down and overpowered by a guy much smaller and lighter than me.

    Turns out what actually wins a fight are things like muscle mass, good reflexes, hand-eye coordination and fighting skills. None of which I especially have.

    None of the guys who've overpowered me were body builders or ninjas, by the way. They were just ordinary, sedentary guys who maybe remembered some rudimentary wrestling moves from gym class. And once they had me pinned, I couldn't throw them off at all - I might as well have been Krazy-glued to the floor.

    I'm not saying that all men are stronger than all women, just that it's dangerous to make assumptions. I would imagine most women already know this.

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  63. .Did anyone here ever consider that nobody is a rapist until AFTER they commit rape?

    Pretty sure that's a key point in the original post. When Holly says "...Finally, it's necessary to stop blaming survivors for not having the psychic powers to know they were going to be assaulted" she means that (unless a particular person has a publicly known track record of committing rape) you won't surmise that they're going to rape you until they actually do it.

    Um, I mean, NO I DID NOT THINK OF THAT YOU HAVE BLOWN MY MIND.

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  64. I absolutely agree with this blog post!
    BTW, it also seems to apply for bullying. "Only people who have been hurt like at home bully other people. Bullies are victims, too. Bullies have no self-esteem, they are isoleted, consistent, will get nowhere in life, I am not one, etc."


    I digress. I just wanted to say, I once almost raped a girl. Or rather I had a somewhat rape-y mindset at the time/moment. I was drunk (this not meant to be an excuse), she was drunk, we were naked. She said 'no sex', but I wasn't really listening. I tried to talk her into it, but she continued to say no. Eventually I simply tried to touch her in her crotch area, against her outspoken will. She shoved my hand away. On the second try, she simply left. I think she did the absolutely right thing and I feel really bad about my behavior back than. I also think, this can happen to anyone, drunk, sober, whatever.
    Also, I guess a lot of people won't see this as rape or a rape-y mind-set, but I do. And I'm ashamed and kind of shocked of my behavior.
    I just wanted to get that off my chest.

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    1. " I also think, this can happen to anyone, drunk, sober, whatever"

      No, it can't happen to anyone. As someone who has been sexually assaulted multiple times, I can still say that most people I know would never even think to ignore "no", to pressure someone into sex, or to touch someone against their will. And it's not something that "happened"; it's something you *chose* to do. You may not be pure evil, but you are an attempted sexual assailant, and that act is evil. Maybe that's the only time you've ever done that and ever will, but if you really feel remorse, you'll take responsibility for what you did and what you tried to do, and not frame it as something that "can happen to anyone".

      Delete
  65. Anon 6:34: thank you for telling that story.

    I've done some rapey things in my youth, too, out of selfishness combined with the societally-ingrained idea that men will happily engage in sexual activity with anyone, anywhere, anytime, and therefore CAN'T be raped or sexually assaulted.

    No guy ever flat out said "no" to what I was trying to do and then left - but in retrospect I see that "Okay, FINE, go ahead *sigh*" is not really consent, and neither is lying there and putting up with it silently. Probably these guys gave in because they, too, thought they were supposed to be up for sexual contact at any time and it would be wussy to refuse. It makes me cringe to think about it.

    ...And yet, during that same period in my life, I became vegetarian for animal rights reasons and painted pictures and cried at sad movies and would do anything at all for one of my friends if zie needed it. So I, too, completely agree with Holly that someone can do terrible things without being a 100% terrible PERSON. I know it for a fact.

    ...And yet, the Slavering Beast theory has permeated MY head, too, and often when someone infringes on my (or someone else's) personal boundaries I find myself thinking "...But zie seemed so NICE." This goddamned brainwashing is seemingly inescapable. :(

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  66. Hershele OstropolerNovember 5, 2011 at 11:21 PM

    Did anyone here ever consider that nobody is a rapist until AFTER they commit rape?

    I've been thinking about this. It sounds tautological, but consider:

    Sandy secretly wants partners to flurnulate during sex, but has never told anybody, even sex partners. In fact, while Sandy wouldn't dare admit to liking flurnulation until several years into an ongoing sexual relationship, there is literally never a time during sex when Sandy doesn't want flurnulation. Now Pat and Sandy are having sex for the first time, and without ever having asked about it, Pat flurnulates.

    Has Pat raped Sandy?

    Has Pat become a rapist?

    I would be hard-pressed to say Pat has raped Sandy by doing something Sandy wanted. However, I would be equally hard-pressed to say Pat is not a rapist, or at least that Pat has not exhibited a rapist mindset.

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    1. I've had secret fantasies, too. If someone sprung that on me without my verbal consent, though? Rape. Definitely.

      Delete
  67. You don't have an answer, so you delete my post? Typical. Although that act was an answer in itself. It said "la la la I can't hear you go away!" Which I'll be happily doing now.

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  68. 6:58 am Anon

    I'm one of the people who posted the link to that article. Glad its given you some things to think about. You might find this article a little more accessible.

    http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2009/10/09/shroedingers-rapist-and-the-imagined-right-to-intrude/

    It's a reaction piece to the original article called Shroedinger's Rapist and the imagined Right to Intrude, and it focuses on the last couple of paragraphs of the original post.

    The problem isn't that "most women live in constant fear of being raped/assaulted" although some women do, and that is a problem.

    The problem is that some (many?) people think it is appropriate to violate another person's boundaries by interrupting them when they are clearly not interested in interacting (looking out the window, arms crossed, listening to headphones, reading, etc.)

    This is exactly what most rapists do. (See the study by Lisak and Miller, 2002, or http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/meet-the-predators/ )

    This is why you can't tell if someone is a rapist or not. Because lots of (otherwise) Nice Guys act like them. That's rape culture.

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  69. 7:25 Anon - Your post wasn't a question. It was a collection of swear words.

    I don't think I'm obligated to answer "FUCK bitches you hate men so much FUCK," or how I would even do that.

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  70. Great post, Holly.

    You said, "This is why I don't like the statement "she didn't get raped because of something she did; she got raped because she was in the presence of a rapist." I think we need to say "she didn't get raped because of something she did; she got raped because her attacker decided to rape her." But that's what makes him a rapist. Perhaps we didn't know it beforehand because the rapist is King of Hidden Intent, but he showed himself in that moment. It can be somewhat comforting, I suppose, to say he wasn't a rapist before that moment but it seems similar to saying someone isn't ill prior to showing symptoms. He was a rapist before that moment, and either he concealed his intent or prior (attempted) assaults. Or we concealed them for him. That being said, the fact your buddy didn't give off signals to *you* doesn't mean he wasn't giving them off or they weren't being ignored. Chances are, his victim will be able to relate in hindsight all sorts of "aha" moments.

    As a self-defence instructor who has studied crime and violence in-depth and teaches much more than just counter-violence, I've examined rape "prevention" strategies at length and can conclude only one thing: There's no such thing as prevention. There is risk reduction only, and much of what can be taught will only ever have anecdotal (non) evidence to support it. It's also important to keep in mind a simple idea when constructing risk reduction strategies: reducing risk while similarly affecting one's ability to enjoy life is pointless; real self-defence involves making life more comfortable for the individual and their companions, rather than having everyone conform to a model that suits nobody perfectly.

    As for "instincts," what most people refer to as instinct isn't a sixth sense but an amalgamation of the original five interpreted on a level below conscious understanding. We notice when someone is faking active listening, respect, and so on, though we often don't realize we noticed those things until afterwards (just like the FBI). Does that invalidate our "instincts?" Not at all. If you get the "no" feeling from someone, listen to it. If you don't get the "no" feeling, or it goes away before you listen to it, it doesn't necessarily mean you're safe, though, as like I already said, the rapist is King of Hidden Intent.

    Regarding Tit for Tat's assertion that we can always see it coming, that nobody can hide their intentions for long: While it's true people eventually do tend to reveal their true selves, by that point they're usually in the process of breaking the trust they've acquired. We will never know if someone won't ever break our trust based on how many times they didn't, though to live life as though everyone will someday break our trust would become very uncomfortable in a short period of time.

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  71. You don't seem to be taking from this what I'm taking from this- namely, the fact that reducing someone to "a rapist" is a vast oversimplification. There's more to people than that, and yes, while it's true to say someone's a rapist if they rape people, it's the attitude that there are "rapists" and "not-rapists" and everyone falls into one of those that leads to SBT.

    The slight issue with this argument is that pretty much everything behind the attitude I'm opposing here is true, it's just the attitude that can grow out of assuming it all is, in my opinion at least, Not Helpful.

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  72. Anon 5:57.

    A person who commits rape is a rapist.

    Is there more to them than that? Of course. In fact, that's sort of the point of this whole post. They might be a hard worker, a good musician, an amusing storyteller; they'll certainly have a life, a history, personal triumphs and failures and insecurities, as any other human being does. People who commit rape are not, by and large, completely soulless monsters. They don't spend their entirely lives crouching in shadows just waiting to viciously attack someone. They are people.

    But they're still rapists. The idea that we shouldn't call people who commit rape rapists because 'rapist' is a super-powerful word that describes only the evillest of evildoers...that's the very problem Holly is talking about here.

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  73. The slight issue with this argument is that pretty much everything behind the attitude I'm opposing here is true, it's just the attitude that can grow out of assuming it all is, in my opinion at least, Not Helpful. I'm afraid I don't understand this sentence at all...

    As for the rest, there's much more to everyone than any act they carry out, but we simplify people's roles in order to understand what part they play in our lives. A mechanic is a mechanic, despite any other aspect of our relationship or his/her life. If the mechanic is also a rapist (and I know), the rapist classification takes precedence over the mechanic classification. If my friend was a nice person before he committed a rape, it changes nothing about the new classification he falls under, as I will no longer feel safe around him (even though I am not likely his next victim).

    While there are many things that can lead to SBT, including misconceptions about what rape is, this changes nothing about the fact someone is either a rapist or not.

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  74. @thebestdefenseprogram

    I agree with everything you say. I also would like to point out that I dont believe you can "always" know someone's intent. The truth is though, with many of the closest people in our lives the trust is more often broken in little ways over a period of time. It is only rarely broken in one instance. It is my belief that those little moments are the ones we should be paying most attention to. As far as strangers and strange enviroments go, we both know that is a much different situation.

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  75. Great post, Holly. I think the Slavering Beast theory is a really great way to talk about attitudes towards rape, assault, violence in general.

    I see the Slavering Beast as a scapegoat. He is terrifying, nasty, and he does all the Bad Things. Then, when Bad Things happen, we subconsciously either a) assume that they were done by Slavering Beasts, or, if evidence is strong to the contrary, b) assume they weren't Bad Things after all.

    Becoming aware of this imaginary character is a good step towards owning up to the very real acts of rape and violence that happen around us. Sometimes the victim and/or the perpetrator is a friend, or a loved one. Sometimes it's us. Which is kind of dark, but it's also true, and so important to be aware of.

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  76. I don't have much to add except that "*gently slides in*" is maybe not the best choice of opening words in a thread about rape... >>

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  77. The man who raped me was, most of the time, gentle, timid, well-spoken and very, very sensitive-- to the point of being frustratingly passive. He had a slim, small build, generous mouth and very pretty brown eyes.

    I would never have thought that he'd end up being controlling, manipulative, cruel and eventually brutally violent. If I'd been able to see through his facade-- well, I'd probably have a successful career as someone's psychic.

    Sometimes people are really good at pretending, at putting on a good face. It's not my fault that I was fooled.

    And it's not anyone's fault that someone rapes them, beats them up in an alley, or inflicts any other violent crime upon their person. Sometimes you don't see it coming. Sometimes it's that guy who cried when someone killed a mosquito.

    Thanks for this. It's important that people learn that they're responsible for their actions-- and that crimes are committed by PEOPLE, not monsters, lurking in the shadows.

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  78. @perlhaqr: It would have been interesting to see a comment with actual content. "lulz, I will invert feminist tropes and pretend to be all oppressed" isn't much of an argument, sorry. "Gold-digger" and "baby-mama" are vague, ridiculous, sexist stereotypes, and oh, by the way, are not rape, which is something that is inflicted on men, too.

    Your attempt to kick me (and presumably Scootah) out of Holly's comment's section is pretty brassy, too.

    Isn't it, though?

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  79. I would also add, "Slavering Beasts are ugly".

    The rapists -- and other people with a propensity to ignore boundaries -- whom I have known have all been quite attractive. Why would a good-looking person commit rape? Because they wanted to.

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  80. Hershele OstropolerNovember 15, 2011 at 8:31 AM

    That's a good point, Anon, not infrequently when women complain their boundaries were violated they get the response "well, you wouldn't mind if he were attractive."

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  81. That probably comes from a similar sort of place to "men can't be raped because they always want sex/only get an erection when they want sex." All of these: Bad Thing.

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  82. @Hershele -- yeah, that's exactly the kind of thing I was thinking of.

    11:44 anon -- that's a really interesting point. I think the two phenomena share the idea that rape is about "undesirable" sex, which can be evaluated by the society at large, instead of that rape is about /unwanted/ sex, as decided solely by an individual.

    -- 8:52 anon

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    1. Very good distinction, hadn't actually thought about it in those terms before.

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