Sanctuary for the Abused

Monday, March 03, 2014

Victim Blaming & Control

On victim-blaming and control
It's virtually a law of Internet discussion that any conversation about rape & abuse will turn into a debate about the need for women to keep themselves safe. The attitude that women have the responsibility to protect themselves from abuse is, at the most generous reading, an uncritical acceptance of the idea that men cannot be prevented from raping. At its worst, it is yet another example of the way society makes women responsible for anything men dislike. And all the while, there is no acknowledgement that this is just the mechanism by which sexist men can benefit from rape without themselves committing it.



That women are sexual beyond the ways men wish them to be disturbs a certain kind of man. The fears that once kept female sexuality in check are gradually being eroded by social change and medical advances: fear of ostracism, fear of disease, fear of unwanted pregnancy. But fear of rape remains, and it can be a powerful weapon.

There was one piece of fall-out from the paratrooper incident that I didn't mention. A family member learned that I'd gone back to the camp with a couple of men for sex. He had no reason to think anything non-consensual had happened, but he was horrified all the same. He told me that my behaviour was disgusting and that I should be ashamed of myself. Friends and other family members defended his attitude by pointing out what many people in the other thread pointed out - that I'd put myself at quite some risk.

That explanation failed to convince me. Disgust and shame are appropriate responses to moral wrongdoing, not foolhardy risk-taking. He was horrified that I'd allowed myself to be sexual in an unapproved way; the risk of rape was a justification, not his true motivation.

It shocks some people that I want sex and don't want to submit to male authority. It shocks them even more that these two desires outweigh my fear of rape, so that I dare to gratify both by picking up paratroopers in a pub. The "prudent" suggestions for keeping myself safe always boil down to giving up sex (or at least, the kind of sex I'm interested in) or submitting to male authority.

These "solutions" might well have no effect on my risk of being raped. But even if they were guaranteed to protect me from all risk, they wouldn't be worth it. I think I'd rather be raped than spend the rest of my life turning aside from what I wanted and settling for something less. I know I'd rather take risks than allow fear of rape to control my expression of my sexuality.

In my ideal world, men would not be tempted to commit rape. Sexual encounters would be handled with negotiation, not with one partner's insistence on getting what he wants at the expense of another. Men would respect the desires of women to control what happens to their bodies, whether they've known each other for ten minutes or ten years.

And in my ideal world, the fear of rape could not be used as a justification for slut-shaming.


Posted by Nick Kiddle at Alas, a Blog

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shared by Barbara at 12:19 AM


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5 Comments:

Although still inhibited by fear alot more than i would like, i totally agree with the sentiments above. And am really glad to see them written down; it not only in the area of sex though that this applies, but the whole concept of 'male authority' & its systems taking control of our lives... as severely disabled person i am frequently punished for being UNABLE to 'perform' in the 'required way' & your words have deeply inspired me in terms of being able to NOT take on those judgements, regardless of what action is taken against me.

WAKE UP TO YOURSELVES MEN! Promoting a climate of fear & dependency by accepting rape, control & diminishment of other persons as 'human nature' is LACK OF RESPECT - FOR YOURSELVES, AS MUCH AS FOR WOMEN!

THANK YOU for having the courage to write what you did!

3:50 AM  

Most people believe that there is a certain point that a woman may lead a man to expect sexual gratification from her, and if she leads him beyond that certain point, she forfeits the right to claim rape. That "point of no return" is undefined, though, so people blur the line to include any suggestive or provokative behavior that might induce a man to think of her as fulfilling his sexual need. But in fact, there IS NO POINT at which a woman becomes obligated to give a man sexual fulfillment. Period. If she rubs against him, promises him all manner of sexual delight, performs oral stimulation, even if she gets into bed naked with him and allows penetration, she STILL has the right to stop the activity at any time and say "No, I don't want this," or "I changed my mind." If the poor fellow is frustrated, too bad. It happens to everybody in life's various ways. The bottom line is, men are individually responsible for their own choices in response to whatever signals they receive from a woman. When those signals are "Stop!" he must stop or it is rape. No matter what she did or said before.

4:47 AM  

"A family member learned that I'd gone back to the camp with a couple of men for sex. He had no reason to think anything non-consensual had happened, but he was horrified all the same. He told me that my behavior was disgusting and that I should be ashamed of myself."

I'd say there's nothing wrong with being horrified and disgusted as long as it applies to both sexes.

I've felt bad about looking at porn and try not to look at it, for moral reasons.

Just from my thinking, you're skating on thin ice with your sex life in these times. We can't control other people so much that we can live our ideals all of the time. You can't always hold a gun to someones head for the kind of sex you want. But you'd rather be raped than to listen to a lot of people with what I consider wise advice.

Just from looking at that blog, I sense a bad rebelliousness. I've been there and back.

I'm VERY different from you and I sense am different from most of the world.

3:16 AM  

@Anonymous: I totally agree with all that you wrote. Thank you for taking the time & energy to post it. This kind of information should be freely available to all women & girls from puberty (& even before in child-accessible form). Would you mind if I quote your words elsewhere, such as on social networking sites? I believe that what you wrote & the way you wrote it is really important message that needs to be passed around freely among women – would you feel okay about me doing that?

3:58 AM  

@Acertainkindofman: The real reason that you feel bad about looking at pornography is that you know deep within yourself that pornography is blatant expression of the abuse & oppression of women, couched in terms of ‘male sexual needs’ ie it is a product OF the mind of the rapist FOR the mind of the rapist. And you do not want to see yourself as a rapist, yet somewhere within yourself you know that this IS what you are BEING, ‘just’ by looking at pornography.

The irony being that BECAUSE you look at pornography, the only way out of this for you now is to acknowledge that you are being a rapist in doing so. You did not NEED to do this – you could have AVOIDED doing this, because you could INSTEAD have choose to look at the damage that has been done to YOUR sexuality as a MAN by the presence of the mind of the rapist in YOUR life. You could have chosen to heal that within yourself & acknowledge that you COULD become the rapist, but are actively & consciously choosing NOT to do so, & then LIVED from that awareness ALWAYS & IN ALL WAYS. INSTEAD of that, you choose to look at pornography to fulfill whatever ‘need’ you had ‘identified’ as ‘the one that needed to be fulfilled’ rather than the REAL need in which it was & IS rooted & routed…

You say you ‘try not to look at it for moral reasons’. What you write & the way you write it tell me clearly that you are more concerned by the appearance of ‘doing the right thing’ by other people’s standards than you are about Doing The Right Thing because there IS no choice or even perception of choice. It is the difference between morality & ethics - & the difference between being ruled by the mind of the rapist & being True To Your Self As A Man.

A man living from his own deep awareness of SELF & his relationship to & with others INCLUDING WOMEN, would not even consider looking at pornography, let alone judge a woman for stating that it is wrong for her life to be defined, limited & ruled by such a mentality as the mind of the rapist.
(Continued - i had to split the post)

4:06 AM  

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