The opening of an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune by Pam Louwagie begins by getting to the heart of what men can do in situations where women are usually lectured about what they can do -- or could have done -- to prevent getting raped.
Tyler Jones [University of Minnesota Senior who had recently gone through sexual assault prevention training] was tipping back a couple of beers with friends at a Dinkytown bar when he suddenly had to take a stand.
"Hey, see that girl over there?" Jones recalled an acquaintance asking, nodding toward a woman he wanted to take home. "She's almost drunk. Not quite drunk enough. ... What shot should I buy her?"
There was a time, Jones says, when he might have laughed off the remark. Not anymore.
"You want to buy her something really strong to like, basically knock her out?" Jones, a University of Minnesota senior, recalled saying. "Man, that's not right. That's rape. That's sexual assault."
This message from Jones, which left the other man stunned, in the moment when someone is contemplating a sex crime is an example where peer pressure and informal peer education are positive forces. Laughing at this remark would have been taken as support that the planned action was okay or not so bad as to cause anyone to be sickened at the idea or to consider it a real crime.
That man who talked about trying to incapacitate a woman is better off being stunned at hearing his planned actions called rape before he goes through with his plan rather than being stunned afterwards if he were to face criminal charges and swearing to his defense attorney that, "It was consensual."
This situation also highlights another problem with rape prevention advice directed at girls and women since that advice usually assumes that drinking causes boys and men to be confused about the lack of consent. Hence Laura Sessions Stepp popularizing of the term gray rape.
Good education needs to be accurate information and the victim blaming rape prevention advice is based on inaccurate assessments of what causes rape.
This situation described in the article shows that there was nothing gray or foggy about what that man wanted to do. He had a clear goal related to someone he might not have even talked to previously and he had no confusion related to alcohol. His planned actions were clear and premeditated.
He had no interest in trying to gain genuine consent and wasn't even going to try to go after a mockery of consent until his target was sufficiently impaired. That is not a drinking man out of control, it is a man in complete control who wants to deceive and manipulate a woman into a trap.
More than one in five female students reported that they had experienced an actual or attempted sexual assault, according to a 2007 survey at 14 Minnesota colleges and universities.
This statistic indicates that there are a substantial number of men who refuse to respect legal and moral sexual boundaries.
Jill Lipski Cain leads that conversation about five times a month, sometimes in front of Jones' fraternity. The violence prevention education coordinator at the University of Minnesota's Aurora Center, which focuses on sexual assault, she opens the discussion with a slide show of jaw-dropping statistics, images and sounds.
One magazine advertisement features a gaunt teenage-looking girl in a bikini top, a tube of perfume placed in her cleavage. "Apply generously to your neck," the text reads, "so he can smell the scent while you shake your head 'no.'" [...]
Overhead, music thumped while the lyrics coached, "Pop a little champagne and a couple E's. Slip it in her bubbly."
Lipski Cain asked: "Is it really sex that is being sold or are there elements of rape in it that's presented to you as sex?"
This education about where some of these dangerous beliefs come from and how they are supported is important to seeing real change in attitudes and behaviors happen so that potential rapists become people who would never rape under any circumstance.
If the core problem of people wanting to take someone with no concern for legality and genuine mutuality isn't reduced then the frustrated rapists will just get creative if their current pool of intended targets follow so-called rape prevention advice which is aimed at potential victims.
Rape prevention aimed at those most likely to rape -- and their immediate peers -- is the only way to reduce the rate of attempted sexual assaults. This is better not only for women it is better for men who might otherwise rightfully face conviction and imprisonment and a lifelong spot on the sex offender registry.
In the comments someone made the excellent point that this type of rape prevention work needs to begin long before boys become men and go to college.
Not surprisingly several men used the comments to unintentionally demonstrate exactly why the rate of sexual assault on college campuses is so high.
beegeez1 wrote this comment:
The narrow focus of these campus awareness programs generally ignore the reality of these sexual interactions. While some incidents are truly sex crimes, the vast majority fall into the far more fluid "gray rape" category where unintended sexual intercourse by mutual agreement becomes a "crime" upon sober reflection. To categorize these types of unwanted incidents with actual crimes committed by vicious sexual predators is naive and ultimately minimizes the real victims of criminal sex assaults. All sexual assaults (rapes) are not equally egregious, and not should all sexual "offenders" be treated on an equal basis. Victims, indeed all people, must recognize that behavior has consequences.
The problem here for beegeez1 is not that these described programs ignore reality, but that they address reality in a way he rejects. His last sentence demands that most rape victims see rape as a consequence of their behavior which fits perfectly with his desire to see most rapists treated as if they have not committed a sex crime.
If you follow his warped logic then in those non-egregious rape cases which are reported it is the rape victim who is the perpetrator and the non-egregious rapist becomes the victim.
The reality is that sexual intercourse cannot be both unintended and by mutual agreement. If sex is unwanted then there was no genuine consent and at most coerced cooperation. Beegeez1's premise that all people must recognize that behavior has consequences is contradicted by his dismissal of non-egregious rapes.
Men who think and speak like Beegeez1 are providing informal peer education to other men right now on most if not all college campuses. That's why the rape prevention training described in this Star Tribune article is so urgently needed.
Rather than being honest and excusing most rapists for the benefit of those rapists, beegeez1 excuses most rapists from all legal accountability for the benefit of "real victims of criminal sex assaults." This is nonsense. His desired action benefits only those who ignore genuine mutuality and don't bother to get genuine legal consent.
Excusing non-egregious rapes provides moral support for all rapists, even the egregious ones.
Denying that there are, or should be, consequences for non-egregious rapists sets those rapists up to commit a serious crime. Rapists who were incorrectly led to believe that they were within the limits of the law have been set up for a rightful report of rape. That those who gave them this dangerous advice will likely champion them as wrongfully accused will be small compensation for the personal and legal consequences for having committed a non-egregious rape.
If beegeez1's logic is sound then it must be applied to all non-sex crimes.
Currently non-egregious bank robbers are still criminals. This is true even when the bank robbery is an inside job and classified as embezzlement where nobody ever feared for their safety.
The existence of bank robbers who murder bank employees in cold blood doesn't in any way excuse the crime of stealing from a bank when that crime is not accompanied by physical injury or murder or the fear of these. Yet that is exactly what many people want to see happen when rape isn't accompanied by other crimes like kidnapping, physical assault or attempted murder and doesn't cause the victim to fear for her life.
If property crimes aren't nullified when they aren't accompanied by other crimes then there is no valid excuse for wanting a personal crime like rape to be nullified for this same reason.