Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Gray Rape of Excuses For The Hapless Rapists

The Campus Word: The Blurry Line between Sex and Rape by Kimberly Reiss is an article which provides a bad response to 2 men who weren't students entering women's dorm rooms at Boston University and who attempted rape on the dorm room occupants.

But for the most part, these kinds of cases with outsiders coming into random dorms, are not the kind of sexual assault/rape incidents that most girls should be worried about. The ones that are most prevalent are normally situations that we can prevent right from the get-go.

When you aren't the victim, victim blaming creates a nice -- but completely false -- fantasy.

The message to girls and women is, "Only you can prevent rape."

Rape is turned into a virtual forest fire. Only in this case, it isn't the person who threw a lit match into dry brush who is at fault for not preventing the bad outcome, it is the camper who wished there wasn't a fire ban and who got trapped in the arsonist's fire.

This communicates a twisted message to those hurt by arsonists and by rapists. You expressed a desire for fire -- or you seemed to -- and you got one, so the forest fire deliberately set by someone else is your responsibility. A controlled burn inside a fire pit becomes no different from a raging forest fire. Consenting to one is the same as being trapped in the other according to this worldview.

If heterosexual women would just avoid all appearance that they might entertain the idea of heterosexual sex, most heterosexual rapes would never happen. Right? The slimmest possibility that a woman might want to have consensual sex with a man is what causes most men to rape, Right?

This must be true if the real cause of most rapes is the sexy behavior of the victim prior to rape.

The problem with this fantasy is 3-fold. 1) It gives the believers of this fantasy a false sense of security. 2) It encourages the very rapes it claims to try to prevent by making the victim the person most clearly in the wrong. 3) It assumes that the rapist of the woman who oozes sexiness is inherently different from the rapist who raped the obviously chaste woman.

Here is Reiss at her peak:

As a woman, I am supposed to place every shred of blame on the man. It is his entire fault, he forced her to do something she didn’t want to do, and therefore, he should be locked up. And for a lot of cases, this is my view--- except for the times when things get a little grey. There are times, especially in college, when a girl isn’t quite sure what she wants, isn’t positive about a sexual encounter, and perhaps wishes it didn’t happen. Maybe if she was sober she would never have chosen to sleep with that guy. Maybe he coaxed her into it. But on those terms, is it okay for the girl to then cry rape?

She then goes on to detail a scenario where the quintesential fallen woman lures an innocent fraternity man into becoming a rapist against his will. He would have stopped, but he couldn't. (That's their story and they're sticking to it.) Always blaming rapists for rape, what a burden to place on women? Reiss is having none of this.

In Reiss's worldview incapacity or uncertainty or a change of mind on a woman's part is clearly punishable by rape despite her disclaimer that no means no. These rapists shouldn't be blamed and they shouldn't be jailed as if they raped truly innocent women. At most they deserve a lecture on their stupidity for spending time with the wrong women.

If that imperfect woman reports being raped she is clearly the one who is committing an act of violence. She is ruining that nice rapist's day and maybe his life.

Pity the nice, controlled rapists who don't rape at random but who wait for a victim to do something that can make her look stupid or immoral before he attacks. If he thinks some people will believe it is obvious that she might have sex with him, then he's going to take her whether she wants him to or not. And shame on all of us who refuse to join this rapist pity party in the name of rape prevention.

Hat tip: Feministing

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:07 AM   1 comments links to this post


At February 02, 2008 4:54 PM, Anonymous JENNIFER said...

Kimberly Reiss is another Kate Rophie wherein like Rophie she believes only male deranged strangers commit rape. Rape is never a 'misunderstanding,' 'she lead the poor man on,' she regretted the sexual encounter.' Rape is a deliberate choice male rapists make. When are men going to be held accountable and responsible for their sexual behaviour and actions. For too long men have been told 'women exist for you to sexually use/abuse and if a woman claims you raped her well just deny it and say it was consensual.' After all women are sexually insatiable and all woman want sexual contact with any man. Misogyny is not just about some men holding women in contempt because unfortunately Reiss too believes the lies patriarchy says about female sexuality and women. Far too many men believe it is their right to force sexual contact with any woman because they believe male privilege gives them the right to rape and sexually abuse women and girls. There is no such thing as 'gray rape' it is just another excuse used to justify male sexual violence against women and children.


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