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
Labels: Violence Against Women