Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Sometimes It's Too Late To Say You Aren't A Rape Apologist

When people wonder why most rapists are non-strangers, the answer can feel complex. However, sometimes the answer is contained in so-called rape prevention advice. This is the case in an article on an Irish interactive educational site called skoool which was published in 2002. The article is titled Dealing with the reality of teen sex by Kathryn Holmquist.

This article is important to examine carefully because what this woman expresses impacts the assessment of rape cases and it impacts the thought processes of rapists.

She begins with:

Boys are expected to act like gentlemen. That's the politically correct view. Even when a girl has deliberately got drunk, flirted, engaged in heavy foreplay and ended up sprawled naked in a boy's arms, the boy is expected to have the self-control to stop if she suddenly says "no". Otherwise, he's a rapist. Such lofty expectations of human behaviour appeal to the best in our nature.
By gentlemen, what she referring to here is non-rapist. The politically correct view expects boys to not rape no matter how much they want to and how little effort it would take them to cross that line from non-rapist to rapist and how many people would rush to sympathize with them for being prosecuted when they just lost their self-control.

Despite the closing sentence quoted above not raping under any circumstance doesn't seem to appeal to Holmquist's best nature and instead seems sour.

Holmquist conflates gentleman with non-rapist and then demands that girls abide by this same standard which would mean that girls must also be non-rapists. But this isn't what she demands of girls and the article goes further off the rails from here. She then talks about sexualized and consensual behavior of girls only, directed at boys, inside Irish discos after mothers drop their underage daughters off unsupervised.

She bemoans girls becoming as sexually aggressive as boys but in her descriptions the boys and men inside that disco are described so passively and so vaguely that those boys and men seem like they aren't quite there. They continue to be described as completely passive non-entities until a girl says no.

The only people she describes as being coercive to girls are other girls. Boys and men are therefore presented as never coercive. Then of course these passive boys and men should be expected to immediately turn into aggressive rapists once a girl who has behaved at all sexually toward them says no. Because that's boys' and men's nature.

The issues of peer pressure on teens to be sexually active and to consume significant amounts of alcohol are important issues, but Holmquist glosses over these in her single minded quest.
When the action moves to the uncontrolled environment of a car, a park or a private home, the rules blur.
This is where Kathryn Holmquist crosses the line from indulging in stereotypes to presenting a statement that is dangerously wrong. But the danger she is promoting is not to her, the danger she is promoting is to others who do not deserve this disrespect from someone who claims to be promoting respect.

The rules do NOT blur.

Promoting this idea that the rules in fact do blur contributes to rape and helps those who would never do anything they self-define as rape to commit rape.

This type of advice helps create rapists and then it "helpfully" warns girls and woman against the rapists this advice helps to create. Pardon me if I don't thank her for this "help."

If a boy or man cannot understand the rules of consent in an uncontrolled environment then he is the one who must always say no to those situations and he is the one who must avoid the risk of getting into a situation where he could become a rapist.

When a boy goes “too far”, this is date rape. It can be devastating, with the girl feeling betrayed and no longer trusting her own instincts. She may live with the emotional pain of it for years. And all because she believed that it’s never too late to say no.
Not "because she believed it's never too late to say no," but because others believed it can ever be acceptable to ignore no. There is a huge difference between these beliefs.

When a boy goes "too far", this is rape.

The reasons girls who are raped in this type of scenario cannot trust their instincts is because people like Holmquist have stepped in and tried to nullify basic rules of consent. Victims may live with the emotional pain for years, but it will be because Holmquist and others who agree with her believe they have the right to declare it too late to say no.

Holmquist has no right. Legal or moral to do this.

The emotional pain of rape is not fixed and is magnified when the victim feels blamed or internalizes the blame others put on certain victims.

The worst advice you could possibly give would be to tell her that she can always say no, even when she is no longer in control. Girls, just like boys, need to be told about the likely consequences of their actions.
The only way for this to be the worst advice is when you know a girl or woman is surrounded by rapists. Being raped is not the consequence of a victim's actions. But it can be seen this way when boys and men have been told that becoming a rapist in certain circumstances doesn't reflect on them as a person and is instead the fault of the girl or woman they rape.

If a girl who goes to a disco is surrounded by boys and men willing to rape her then better advice is not let that girl go to that disco and to not let any boys go to that disco either since it is helping to create rapists.

Unfortunately, this effort will be ineffective since Holmquist's opinion helps rapists rationalize rape and they can take that rationalization with them no matter where they go.

This is not to say that “ladies” don’t get date-raped.
Holmquist's advice directly helps those who rape "ladies" to rationalize this violence. Once being raped becomes a natural consequence of a girl or woman's behavior then the door has been busted wide open to rape any girl or woman if her behavior crosses a line in the rapist's mind.

When Holmquist believes it is too late to say no and when a rapist believes it is too late to respect no may be very different. This is a natural and uncontrollable side effect of this belief system.

Once you see rape as a consequence of the victim's actions and choices, you let rapists do the same. And if the standard of ladylike behavior is higher in the minds of the men around Holmquist than it is in her mind then she is in danger of being raped when she believes she is absolutely safe.

Nor am I saying that girls who behave in a certain way deserve what they get. What I am saying is that girls, if they want to act like boys—getting drunk and being sexually predatory—have to understand that a boy, if he is that way inclined, may take advantage. And boys, for their own protection, need to understand that a drunk girl who he thinks wants sex, may turn around the next day and accuse him of rape. Both are responsible for this tragedy.
Girls may not deserve rape according to Holmquist, but in this worldview they should expect it from even the most trustworthy boys and men. We must, according to Holmquist, assume all boys and men are rapists who only stop for their own protection.

Her advice to boys which presents their thinking that a drunk girl wants sex as being the same as a drunk girl actually wanting sex is dangerous. If a boy proceeds under these conditions what he's going to face the next day if he is accused of rape is a true accusation. Thinking a girl wants sex is not the same as having her consent.

Rape is not a tragedy, it is a crime. If Holmquist is serious about not wanting this crime to happen she needs to drop the nonsense of both victim and perpetrator being responsible.

The bottom line is that Holmquist doesn't know Jack about genuine consent. She doesn't know where it is and she doesn't know where it is not. No wonder she needs tight controls.

Her definition of what it means to be a boy is nonsense. Boy does not equal being a drunk sexual predator unless adults are teaching boys that's what they need to be in order to become men. If this is happening then these boys and men need to be avoided until they reject the garbage being fed to them by people like Holmquist.

Holmquist was likely fed this toxic thinking by others but the spread of rape-excusing toxins must stop.

H/T: The Sexist

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:15 AM   7 comments links to this post


At November 03, 2009 11:10 AM, Blogger JENNIFER DREW said...

Thanks Marcella for unpacking this piece of women-blaming. The whole article blames young women and girls whilst neatly portraying young men and boys as supposedly 'victims of their sexuality.'

Simply being male should not be equated with claims he might commit rape if a girl/woman expresses her sexual desires. This too feeds directly into widespread belief women and girls are the ones responsible for gatekeeping supposedly uncontrollable male heterosexual expression. It also neatly absolves teenage boys and adult men from any accountability in respect of their actions.

More importantly, we need to challenge the various ways our male-dominated culture teaches boys that being a 'real man' means a man must always be the one in charge of any female/male situation and he is the one who decides when and if, any sexual interaction takes place. Being a 'real man' means men not women decide what the woman/girl wants/desires sexually and conveniently her wishes/desires are always identical to the man's.

This is termed patriarchy or male supremacist ideology because women and girls are either 'ladies' or 'slags.' Both terms are used to deny women and girls their bodily autonomy and sexual rights, since if a girl is a 'lady' she never acknowledges her sexual desires but can only respond by passively accepting the male's sexually aggressive advances.

'A slut' is a woman/girl who is perceived by our male supremacist society as losing her right of bodily autonomy and any male who rapes and/or commits sexual violence against her is merely enacting his male sex right.

Prostituted women are commonly believed to be 'non-rapeable' because they labelled 'non-human' by the Johns and pimps who sexually exploit and/or rape them.

At November 03, 2009 12:46 PM, Anonymous princess_azure said...

Note how through out this article the boys are completely absolved of responsibility. Things like this are dangerous because this is the exact mentality that fuels sharia law.

At November 03, 2009 5:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can she reconcile the idea that she is holding female victims responsible for being raped - using the "consequences of their actions" line, no less - with the claim that she is not saying they deserve it?

At November 04, 2009 1:56 PM, Blogger Prudence said...

I've found it easier to tell men about being raped than women and it's exactly because of the attitudes of these sorts of people. The talk of "ladies" and "gentlemen" isn't helpful in the slightest. It creates that undertone that promiscuous or scarlet women get raped and somehow deserve it because they have acted in a way so as to blur the lines themselves. Victims of mugging don't get blamed for walking somewhere unsafe. Any dark alleyway can be safe if nothing bad happens there, and by the same token a sensible place becomes unsafe when something bad is happening there. A place is only as safe or unsafe as the people who are in it, the same goes for all crime scenes, including the scene of a rape.

I have struggled for 15 years with guilt and shame and self-blame. I've felt like I can never declare one version of events because I don't know what was in his mind when he forced me into sex. But in the end why should that matter? Who says his brain worked in a logical way?

Anyway, I could go on all day!

Thanks for posting this...

At November 04, 2009 2:45 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Prudence, it makes sense that women might buy into this attitude more since adults are more likely to teach girls this dangerous message in the name of self-defense. If a girl followed the rules and was never raped she might assume there's nothing wrong with it since it seemed to protect her.

I can relate to your struggle with guilt, shame and self-blame. For me realizing all 3 of these had been pushed on me by other people, some of whom genuinely thought they were protecting girls and women from rape, helped me reject all 3.

When it comes to declaring what you experienced it doesn't matter what was going on in your rapist's head when he raped you. None of that excuses his actions or reduces his responsibility.

At March 18, 2010 12:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The quoted article was good. Yes it didn't talk about boys as much as girls, but obviously the article was focused on girls.

I disagree with most the comments posted her.

The advice in the quoted article is sound. Many ladies would be best off reading and taking note of the message. The quoted article is spelling out real life situations that occur. It's not trying to paint a picture of a perfect world and an ideal reality. It's taking a look at the current situation and providing advice so as both girls and boys don't find themselves in trouble they would rather not be in.

At March 18, 2010 9:59 AM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...


If what you are seeking is a reduction of sexual violence then this article is not sound and neither is your defense of this article.

"That's just how it is," is a lame excuse from people who are allowing violence to flourish in plain sight.

Not talking about boys who rape or who are at risk of raping and not sending a strong message to them about the wrongness of their committing sexual violence is inexcusable.

When people such as myself demand that boys and men who others identify as likely rapists be given the strongest message of what not to do (don't rape) that is not painting a picture of a perfect world and an ideal reality. That is dealing directly with the cause of that reality.


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