The second commentary is from the executive director of WiredSafety.org, a website that gives online safety tips. He states that it's the first case of an "actual forced rape" being uploaded to the internet that he's aware of, but then goes on to mention he's seen videos of "coerced sex." He doesn't clarify what the difference there is, but makes it clear enough that he believes there is a difference; I've been trying to be fair to him, and imagine ways in which his quote could have been taken out of context, but I can't think of a way to put "actual forced rape" in the same sentence as "coerced sex" without implying there is some kind of difference between the two.I agree and see this as another example of perpetrator-friendly rape prevention which helps large groups of sex criminals rationalize or at least minimize their crimes.
It doesn't matter if the person doing this is not attempting to be perpetrator-friendly. Many of the ideas which are perpetrator-friendly have been circulated as common-sense ideas longer than any person living today has been alive. This, however, doesn't mean they have been around forever and it doesn't mean they will persist forever.
In this usage coercion gets positioned as something better than actual force when they are tightly linked in not only sex crimes but in many crimes where coerced actions from victims is not minimized or made the victim's responsibility. In those other crimes the word coercion may not be mentioned because we understand that the victim's actions or lack of resistance are due to coercion.
I grew up with the belief that rapists were all strangers and all references to non-stranger rapists were obscured to the point that rape was no longer called rape. The idea that those we all agree are rapists can only sexually attack strangers and only do so with the most obvious methodology (visible, provable force) is as ridiculous as the assumption that burglars can only steal from strangers and only get into houses by kicking doors in -- forcible entry.
With all rapists positioned as strangers who use stereotypical force by those willing to talk about rape, rape committed by non-strangers was just boys and men naturally trying to push their way beyond girls and women's boundaries because that's what guys do when they are turned on by a girl or woman. All strategies of rape except stereotypical force and overt threats ("comply or die") were positioned as acceptable. If these acceptable methodologies worked then legal consent would be assumed and any rape victim who said differently was delusional or a liar.
This worldview is the only possible way for anyone to declare every rape which could be described by anyone as date rape as being something less than real rape. The judgment of the crime has stopped being about the crime itself and becomes instead about victim choice.
I understand now that this was not a unified worldview since the majority of people around me before I was raped didn't say anything about sexual interactions beyond "Don't." Those who rejected this worldview may have been tongue-tied about all things sexual or they may have believed it wasn't safe for them to communicate their thoughts in front of me.
The flaws in this worldview are easy to spot once this worldview isn't blindly accepted as the way the world works. Let's apply the principles of this worldview to burglary.
Imagine if one boy learned that his neighbors let their dog into the backyard first thing in the morning and left the door open until the dog ran back inside. With perpetrator-friendly prevention messages he could tell himself that their door was open and as everyone knows an open door is an invitation. While the dog romped any boy who wanted to could enter and hide until the family left for the day before helping himself to anything he wanted from their house. As he was committing burglary he could favorably compare himself to real burglars and tell himself he's nothing like those real criminals who break into houses.
Hopefully, we get that homeowners being vulnerable in this way cannot be treated legally as an invitation. Now imagine this one step closer to what many people defend in non-stranger sex crimes. The boy (17 and muscled) enters and comes up behind the homeowner, dominates that person physically and "asks" for cash. Does anyone really imagine that if the homeowner complies that this wasn't still a crime?
The threat doesn't have to be spoken to be real and serious. We get this truth when someone enters another person's house yet many people seem incapable of understanding this truth when what someone "asks" for is sexual.
We wouldn't imagine that the sole means of preventing this type of crime would be to alter only the behavior of people who don't want to be robbed. Leaving your back door open for a few minutes while your dog pees is clearly not an invitation. Anyone who rants about it being a legal invitation and a consensual transaction because the homeowner didn't scream at any point would be laughed at.
This worldview has not faded enough in the last decades as I realized last year when Oprah had a show about teens and sex. A boy commented that the boys in his school all know which girls won't say no. This boy proclaimed this knowledge with no awareness that it is based on a predatory fallacy.
This rumored future consent is no such thing and may help many boys who otherwise wouldn't commit rape to do so because they put the "knowledge" from other boys above all else.
Whenever someone who talks about rape uses phrases similar to "actual forced rapes," that's a danger signal to me. If you are quantifying one subset of rapes as actual rapes then you are semantically disqualifying all other rapes.
To go back to my bank robbery analogy from part 1 we don't talk about forcible bank robberies and coercive bank robberies even though bank robbers can do either of these. We talk about bank robbers.
From my experience those who use this type of dividing line see rapists differently based on how they attempted or succeeded at raping someone. This is dangerous because it judges sex criminals based on the how and who of their crimes rather than on the crime itself.
This dividing line gives us plenty of rapists who are 100% against forcing themselves on anybody. To them the how excuses the what of sex crimes. Since they would never abduct anybody off the street then they should be given the "he's just a jerk" pass for the sex crimes they commit.
If someone is out to rape you that is the central detail. Yes some rapists, like some burglars, bank robbers, muggers, etc. are especially brutal, but we don't use language for the less brutal non-sexual criminals which minimizes the crime they committed the way people do too often when they talk or write about rape.
So you've got quotes from two men on supposedly opposite sides of a debate. One man is defending his right to provide structural support for and disseminate the video of a rape, for his own financial gain, and I think it's telling that he feels safe and comfortable using socially acceptable "rape prevention" dialogue to soften the socially unacceptable fact that he is exploiting a rape for personal gain and doesn't feel he should have to face criticism for that fact. I think it's telling because it goes to show, yet again, how victim-based "rape prevention" allows convenient escape hatches for rape-supporters who wish to appear moral. The other man runs a website dedicated to keeping the vulnerable safe online. And yet, both manage to justify rape in different contexts. I think it's a pretty keen example of rape culture, when you have two diametrically and morally opposed individuals with completely opposite career missions, but both are able to agree that rape is appropriate sometimes, in some ways, in some places, with some women.This connection is one that all those who are trying to prevent sexual violence need to understand. Those who want to exploit others are listening and those who don't yet understand exploitation are listening too.
Parry Aftab may assume that mentioning having seen coerced sex online is just stating a fact, but what he called "coerced sex" is rape and coercion is a type of force. Semantics matter because they can reinforce the beliefs behind behavior people oppose. If someone wants to highlight increasing levels of overt violence online then the more effective terminology would have been rape by coercion where this case was rape by intoxication.
We talk about rape culture only as a negative thing that is out there, but because culture is about our norms we have the power to change what may at first seem unchanging. Each person can pull their support for the idea that it is the sex crime victims who must be deflected to prevent rape and replace it with the truth that it is the perpetrator who must be deflected from a dangerous path and who will lose all support for behavior if there is evidence that the behavior is predatory.
Much of the victim-centric rape prevention messages contain messages which help people blame victims and excuse perpetrators. The fact that these messages are familiar should not be the reason they keep getting regenerated.
We should do better and we can do better.
One of the ways we can do better is to teach people to understand both risk and protective factors related to sexual violence perpetration and to understand that true primary prevention deals with the factors which can lead to sexual violence perpetration.
Self-defense is important but it is not prevention. If the level of violence around a particular person is endemic it will fail far too often through no fault of the person who is practicing self-defense. If 1 particular individual who practices strong self-defense manages to dodge danger because others are more vulnerable and are seen as easier targets no violence has actually been prevented.
If we want true prevention then we most keep the primary focus on the the perpetrators and what allows them to harm others sexually whether we are talking primary prevention or avoidance strategies.