Tuesday, February 23, 2010

At Fault For Being A Tease, Slut Or Idiot?

Over at Feminist Mormon Housewives, a guest post titled Blaming the Victim by Martin includes:


Again, this in no way means she is at fault for getting raped. She’s merely at fault for being a tease, a slut, or an idiot.

The problem I have with the popular “you’re blaming the victim” diatribes is that I feel that in the justifiable attempt to free the victim from guilt for a horrific crime, they’re minimizing the responsibility we have towards one another.
Earlier Martin detailed an experience he had with road rage to help him make this point.


Many years ago when I was younger and rasher, I did something extremely stupid. I was trying to get to my new job during rush-hour and I had to pass through a bunch of road construction. Knowing the area, I managed to bypass much of the construction by sneaking in from a side street, but I had to cross a couple lanes of accelerating traffic in order to make my left turn. This wasn’t easy because people were grumpy from the road construction, so I eventually had to make a somewhat aggressive lane change in order to make it into the turning lane. Boy did I piss off the guy behind me. Judging from his honking and wild gesticulations, I’d just about killed us both. He pulled into the turning lane behind me, no longer honking but with his finger pressed against his windshield. His overreaction was starting to irritate me, but I decided to ignore him.

Until he followed me. All the way into the parking lot. At first, I became a little concerned, but as he followed me through the parking lot to my building, my concern turned to anger. I was absolutely incensed that this SOB was trying to intimidate me in this way. “What,” I though, “he wants to have it out in the parking lot? Fine. Let’s have it out.” I stopped abruptly without pulling into a parking space, thereby blocking his progress. I got out of my car with my fists clenched, and loudly asked if the guy had a problem with me he needed to discuss.

The car stopped and out climbed a 250-lbs linebacker-type. And he pretty much beat the crap out me.

Not really. What really happened was that his eyes became huge, he backed up, drove a couple rows away, parked, and hurriedly walked into the building.
Notice first, that Martin admits that the other driver likely believed Martin could have killed him with his driving which means that Martin's fault was 1) in his premeditated choice to drive unsafely which put other people's lives in danger and 2) in his choice to follow that decision with physical and verbal aggression which itself was an act of road rage.

Martin believes the other man overreacted, but it could as easily be Martin who is underestimating the situation.

The other important detail is that Martin assumed that the only reason the other car also entered this parking lot was that driver's road rage even though the expression of that other driver's displeasure had ceased.

If this example is in any way analogous to rape or a near occurrence of rape it would be more apt to reverse the roles with Martin himself standing in parallel to the would-be rapist since he was the only one intent on violence by his own admission. That other driver in his view provoked him to violence by his response to Martin's driving violation. Yet in his introduction to describing this event his summarization of his actions was only that "I did something extremely stupid."

The victim-centered question in the road rage example then becomes whether the other man was blameless for Martin's aggressive actions or if that other driver's decision to honk and make a rude gesture in response to Martin's reckless driving provoked Martin to physical violence.

The parallel sex crime scenario would be a man in a bar in such a rush to get to his goal of sex that he began with a sexual boundary violation in a situation where he felt justified in doing so. After all, she's a slut who he believes will have sex with the first man who makes his sexual intent clear and other men are crowding around her. When the woman he violated got angry he used her angry response to justify escalating the level of violence by later blocking the woman's path with his fists clenched.

This changes the person in the rape scenario who becomes the subject of these questions by implication:
What if he had (beaten the crap out of me, I mean)? Would I have deserved it? I mean, I kind of invited him to. If he had turned out to be 250 lbs of linebacker, and I decided at the last moment to withdraw my invitation, would he have been within his rights to take a few shots anyway? What would the cops and judge have said? What if this guy had physically maimed me? Would I go through life thinking “Well, I guess I deserved it”?
The analogous question would become, What if she had beaten the crap out of me when I threatened her, would I have deserved it? Or, "What if a man saw what I was doing and beat the crap out of me because I was threatening a woman with more violence?"

This corrected analogy would mean this man who committed a sexual violation and who is now threatening physical violence against the woman he violated would at most summarize his own actions as "extremely stupid."

Since Martin was the aggressor 2 times over and was clearly willing to commit physical assault any positioning of himself as being blameless of course doesn't make sense. His action in that parking lot was in no way an invitation to a consensual brawl so to position it as such is nonsensical.

Getting his analogy of this interaction backwards means his conclusions about his own lack of blamelessness cannot be applied to victims of sex crimes and must instead by applied to those who sexually violate others.

He wrote:
I actually wonder if the respondents to that survey really felt women can be partly to blame for being raped, or whether they simply felt women could be guilty of provocative behavior.
The use of the word provocative in this usage is different than someone who talks about seeing a provocative film. This usage makes the rape victim into the primary aggressor and by default turns the rapist into the target of that aggression. This means that the backwards analogy was an intentional choice.

If the sexual action or contact between a man and woman is consensual but doesn't go as far as the man hoped for then that is not a woman being sexually aggressive. Calling this sexual aggression doesn't make it actual aggression, but it does make it easier for people to respond to that woman's actions or choices as if the man who made the choice to rape was himself under assault.

To equate doing something which causes a woman to be labeled a tease, a slut or an idiot to jumping out of your car eager to engage in a physical brawl after driving recklessly is to contribute to the rationalization of rapists whether this is the intended result or not.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:32 AM   2 comments links to this post

2 Comments:

At February 23, 2010 11:07 AM, Blogger JENNIFER DREW said...

Note too the misogynistic epiphets used against women since they supposedly 'cause men to commit sexual violence against women.'

Would the same sexualised insults be used against a man who supposedly acted in a provocative manner and thereby is presumed to be responsible for causing another male to rape him. I think not.

Usage of misogynistic sexualised insults against women clearly shows the person using such insults holds women in contempt and/or believes women unlike men are either 'whores or madonnas.' Such language too reinforces the widespread view that women unlike men are deemed only credible if they rigidly adhere to male-centered notions of what passes for appropriate female sexual expression. Men however, as a right, have sexual autonomy and rights hence they are never called 'sluts or whores' if they engage in numerous sexual activity. Instead they are 'studs.'

Claiming women are either 'whores or madonnas' is another rape apologist attitude. So if a woman is deemed by male supremacist society to be a 'whore/slut' this in itself supposedly excuses/justifies male sexual violence against women because only 'good women' (read male-defined 'good women') are the ones men rape - whereas 'bad women' are unrapable.

News flash - men who commit sexual violence against women and girls do so because male supremacist society condones such crimes and only the most extreme acts of male sexual violence against women are viewed as 'real violence' and subjected to condemnation. But even then a female rape survivor's character and actions are minutely examined for any hint of supposed accountability, whereas the male rapist's actions are often excused/minimalised.

 
At February 23, 2010 4:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was the best takedown of this comparison that I've ever read.

 

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