Responding to Rape

Jim Hines, a great fantasy writer, also blogs about social justice issues. Recently he was scheduled to appear on Reddit, in the fantasy area, to do a Q&A about his upcoming book. He cancelled because Reddit is hosting a rather large and active thread where men who’ve committed rape are talking about what they did and why and how and how it felt, and apparently they’re getting an appalling number of back-pats and attaboys for it, along with praise for how “brave” they are to post anonymously about how awesome it was rape that woman, or reassurances about how they didn’t really do anything wrong because after all, from what you said it’s not like she screamed and cussed and tried to fight you off, right? Or whatever. :/

Jim posted about the cancellation and his reason for it, and of course a bazillion people from Reddit came over to tell him what a censoring dumbass he is. A few people made calm and reasoned arguments about why they thought he was wrong, which is cool, and there were people supporting his actions as well. One of the latter posted a comment I have to share.

Laura Resnick’s comment, trimmed down to emphasize a point:

This all makes me recall my experiences when I took a basic self-defense program designed for women. …

And what I found interesting, shocking, and really eye-opening was HOW HARD most of the women in the group found it to defend themselves. I don’t mean they couldn’t learn the skills. I mean that their upbringing ahd socialization had sCOMPLETELY indoctrinated them with the idea, the belief, and the behaviorial pattern that they DIDN’T HAVE A RIGHT to defend themselves. to such an extent that trying to practice self-defense moves against an attacker in a classroom setting was traumatic for them.

This conditioning was so powerful that there were women in the class who stood facing the attacker, weeping helplessly over their own indoctrinated inability to lift a single finger to defend themselves against a physical attacker.

… [I]t really opened my eyes to how many women have been taught their whole lives, by everyone and everything that’s ever had influence over them, that if they’re assaulted, attacked, raped, then they must lie there, still and weeping, rather than fight back.

And because of that conditioning, rapists like the ones bragging on Reddit can convince themselves they didn’t do anything really wrong since, gee, it’s not as if the assault victim really FOUGHT, right? She just cried a little and lay there, right? “So that must mean what I did wasn’t a violent felony, right?”

This fits perfectly with a post I did a while back about how rape happens, about how women are socialized to go along and get along and keep the peace and make other people happy, about how they’re not supposed to fuss or object or disagree and if they do they’re being a mean bitch or a stuck up bitch or an angry bitch. So many women don’t fuss or object or disagree, until suddenly some guy is pushing their legs open and if they object then, they’re a teasing bitch.

So, many women just don’t object. Much less, as Laura’s experience with the self-defense class for women shows, physically fight back.

Raising women to be ladylike, with a traditional (mild, demure, passive, pleasant, pleasing) definition of ladylike, is a significant chunk of the rape problem in our society. Of course, most of it is egotistical men* who think they’re entitled to anything they want, including a particular woman. But if we stopped enculturating women to be passive and started raising them to kick up a screaming, cussing, punching, kicking fuss whenever some entitled dirtbag decided to invade her territory, preferably well before it ever got to a place/situation where rape could happen, that’d take a decent bite out of the problem.


*Note that not all men are like this. I shouldn’t have to say it, but I’m saying it anyway. In particular, I can’t imagine any of the men who comment here regularly being like this. It only takes a minority, though, to get a whole lot of women worried and wary, especially since the raping minority don’t wear T-shirts that say RAPIST. If you’re a guy and this bothers you, or if you’ve ever had a woman give you a look like she was wondering whether she could trust you, that’s the rapist minority messing it up for all the nice guys.

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Angela Benedetti lives in Seattle with her husband and a few thousand books. She loves romance for the happy endings, for the affirmation that everyone who's willing to fight for love deserves to get it and be happy with someone. She's best known for her Sentinel series of novels, the most recent of which is Captive Magic.

2 thoughts on “Responding to Rape”

  1. I remember being on the bus, my friend is being groped, and she says nothing. Just stands there. I whisper to her “Hey, he’s touching you. Say something.” She doesn’t say anything. She says she’ll ignore it. Finally, I turn around and I yell at the guy to take his hands off my friend. He backs away, leaves her alone.

    If I hadn’t intervened he would have kept groping her. It wasn’t the only time I had to protect a friend. I punched a boy in junior high when he took my friend’s lunch box. She just sat there and said nothing while he grabbed her stuff. I punched him. People were horrified because I, a girl, had hurt him. What’s worse, afterwards, when they took me to the principal’s office: my friend wouldn’t speak up for me. I got detention for a month.

    We are socialized to not say anything. To smile or ignore it. This is not good because many times assholes will leave you alone after a firm no. They want easy prey. Not stuck up bitches who glare at them.

  2. Silvia — that’s exactly it, the serial harassers count on most women being too “nice” to make a fuss. :/ When in actuality most harassers will break off if she even yells, much less defends herself physically.

    That sucks about you getting detention in junior high for defending your friend. :/ I’ll bet the jerkwad kid got nothing at all in the way of discipline, and probably kept doing stuff like that. Hopefully someone down the line gave him an even better lesson in manners.


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