Smart people saying smart things

Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas: “Gun control shows how Washington really works”

Gun control has emerged as an unusually clarifying test case for how Congress really works. On one side of the ledger is most everything that we think moves Congress: Public opinion, a national tragedy, the president’s bully pulpit, elite opinion. On the other side is everything we wish didn’t move Congress: a powerful but increasingly controversial interest group and, arguably, the minority’s natural incentive to foil the majority’s agenda.

Guess which side is winning?

Jean Ann Esselink: “Thank You Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Because of You, I Got My Money Back”

If you have an unresolved problem with a financial institution, here is an overview of the complaint process, and the place to get started. If you don’t need it now, I urge you to bookmark it for the next time you have been wronged in the wallet. Besides banks, the CFPB also accepts complaints about credit cardsmortgagesstudent loans, and credit reporting. They work quickly, and they get results.

Thomas MacAulay Millar: “Teach Consent! (But What Good Is Teaching Consent?)”

Even if you believe, as I do, that the predators are not confused and can’t be educated, there are two good reasons to believe that consent education can make the climate better. First, because there are rapists who are not that small percentage of predators. Second, the predators absolutely depend on what I call the Social License to Operate, the climate that explains away or excuses what they do in certain circumstances, calls it not rape, calls it the survivor’s fault, minimizes it and lets him get away with it. Without that, the rapists can’t do it over and over because they’d get caught, excluded from their social circles, disciplined by commanding officers or expelled from campus, and they’d either have to stop or end up in prison.

… The Social License to Operate is the set of beliefs that make rape seem like a continuation or extension of normal sexuality, instead of an aberration and personal violation. By normalizing rapists and rape, by blurring the lines between rape and sex, we create a culture where instead of responding to the crime like we should, there’s always room to argue for and or excuse or mitigate the rape and the rapist.

Peter Enns: “Tim Keller on Homosexuality and Biblical Authority: Different Crisis, Same Problem”

Maybe the way in which evangelical read the Bible and conceive of its authority is the problem in the evangelical system that needs to be rethought, rather than being the non-negotiable hill to stand and die on for addressing every issue that comes down the road?

This isn’t about evangelicals accepting or rejecting the Bible. It’s about thinking self-critically about how they read it and their approach to biblical authority.

The problem, though, is that the evangelical view of the Bible as God’s inerrant authority for the church is its ground floor raison d’etre. Evangelicalism exists, at least intellectually, to defend and promote this view. To ask evangelicals to do a critical self-assessment of how they read the Bible is in effect to ask them to assess the entire system.

Helen Lee: “Yet Another Reason to Love Trader Joe’s”

You would think more companies would be able to grasp the wisdom of this strategy, that paying your employees well and treating them as a valuble source of competitive advantage can actually help rather than hinder the bottom line. But for many companies, especially those that see themselves as low-cost providers, the flawed thinking goes that to save money in order to offer those discount prices, you have to offer low wages and benefits and expect high turnover. (Case in point: Walmart.)

But this is not just an issue for companies such as Wal-Mart. Christian companies often fall into a similar mindset as they try to balance ministry goals, economic challenges, and an aversion to wastefulness or excess in their spending. What they may not realize is that by treating their human resources as an expenditure and not an asset in which to invest, they are missing a huge opportunity.

 

 

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Smart people saying smart things (1.10)
Smart people saying smart things (4.26)
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Smart people saying smart things (1.21)
  • Elizabeth Coleman

    I followed a link to a sidebar story from the Trader Joe’s article, entitled, “The Pro-family Irony of Dan Savage.” While it’s nice that the author is able to acknowledge the good points of their opponents, the overall tone is “Huh, whoever could have guessed that a sinful pervert like Dan Savage could appreciate the God-created institution of the two-parent family?”

  • http://flickr.com/photos/sedary_raymaker/ Naked Bunny with a Whip

    Not a surprise from someone who leaped to Louie Giglio’s defense a few months ago, in an article that amounted to saying, “Louie isn’t a bigot, he’s just promoting bigoted orthodox Christian beliefs. Anyway, condemning same-sex relationships hasn’t even been a priority of his lately, so those uppity gays should just STFU and stop being such such haters.”

  • Rhubarbarian82

    It’s almost like there’s no connection between one’s bedroom activities and one’s interest in raising a family. Shocking!

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    (smile)

    I recently had a serious conversation with a coworker, after we’d been trading “old married couple” stories for a while, where he admitted that while he was politically in support of marriage equality and all that jazz, he hadn’t really understood until just that moment that married couples were married couples regardless of their gender.

  • stardreamer42

    And that, by and large, is how society changes — one personal encounter at a time. Go you!

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    That sounds like it would be a good comment to add to the article.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Though I doubt that this was what the article author was referring to, Dan Savage has also been quite open about his belief that monogamy is not always the best system for marriage and that it is damaging to society to have that be the default assumption. Which is not to say he thinks monogamy is bad or unworkable, just that it does not work well for every individual, and that a lot of issues like infidelity are more because people ill suited to a monogamous arrangement enter into it more because of social expectations than because they are suited to it.

    I might speculate that the argument was coming from a place that fits that assumption of monogamy as the default state of relationships, casting it into a black/white monogamy=virtue / non-monogamy=debauchery perspective.

    At least that was the gist of Savage’s position from this Colbert interview.

  • TheBrett

    Trader Joe’s is a privately held company, so the leadership can choose to aim for a “higher pay, higher retention” employee compensation strategy. Publicly held companies tend to have a harder time doing that, since the major share-holders and board get annoyed at anything that isn’t perceived as maximizing returns to the share-holders. Costco’s avoided it for now because they have a strong CEO who believes this is the right thing to do for the company and profitability, although the CEO gets sniped at a bit by shareholders complaining about how generous the benefits are (seriously, there was a good article on Costco a while back where one of the share-holders complained about how employees didn’t pay enough in co-pays on health insurance).

  • FaithfulLurker

    That makes sense based on my experience. I was an employee of a large LLC which went public. There definitely was a difference afterwards. The values statements, etc., stayed the same, but there was a difference in the way they looked at people. Asset vs. cost hits it on the head.

  • TheBrett

    I’ve heard similar stories out of tech companies that went public, like Microsoft. The entire incentive system starts to shift unless the founders/CEOs have such clout that they can push back against it, or the employees have enough power on their own to push back against more short-sighted profitability goals.

  • Carstonio

    That’s almost an argument for converting all publicly held corporations to the non-profit membership model. Democratic control of corporations wouldn’t eliminate the problem of shareholders valuing return over everything else, but at least they wouldn’t have vast fortunes that they view as threatened by employee benefits.

  • TheBrett

    You’d still need to buy out the shareholders, or at least compensate them fairly for the expropriation. And while that would eliminate the direct ability of the shareholders to force changes to focus more on short-term profitability and stock price rises (not to mention eliminating the risks of take-over by private equity companies like Bain Capital), your non-profit co-ops would still need access to capital, and have to give the lenders the returns they need to lend it.

    My guess is that you’d end up with stronger banks and some private investors, since companies that don’t sell stock would have to sell non-voting shares, bonds, or take out loans. Mondragon’s a good example here, since it’s an employee-owned co-op on the scale of a multinational corporation (14 billion Euros in revenue). They sell a kind of bond called a “subordinated financial contribution”.

    All that said, I think most of us would be better off if there were more of those companies around. The only problem is that company founders would likely keep companies private for much longer to avoid it.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    It sounds like then the best solution would be to maintain the stock market, but put it under tight regulation to minimize the capacity for abuse.

  • LMM22

    I’m not convinced this isn’t an argument for eliminating publicly held corporations, period. Shareholder value isn’t being increased through clever decision-making and actual technological advances; it’s increased through strip-mining the resources accumulated by people who were *tied* to their company.

  • Amtep

    Oddly, those same cost-conscious shareholders don’t seem to mind so much when the executives reward themselves with salaries, options and bonuses worth millions. I suspect it’s not really the shareholders in charge here. They are “represented” by the board of directors, which is generally drawn from a cozy circle of people who all sit on each other’s boards and approve each other’s bonuses.

  • P J Evans

    It’s more that the boards of directors treat shareholder motions and votes on executive pay as *advisory*, regardless of the number of votes it gets.

  • TheBrett

    That too. I’d be in favor of amending the law with publicly held corporations to make shareholder votes on compensation packages legally binding, so that activist shareholders could sue if the board ignores the vote.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I believe that Switzerland has actually implemented such a law.

    If only it was easier to get similar legislation passed here, but nothing goes by popular vote on the national level. Which on the one hand makes it harder for “angry mobs” to wreck the system, and on the other hand makes the elected law-makers easier to buy off by the economically powerful.

  • TheBrett

    It depends on the share-holders. The biggest ones, such as the “institutional investors” (like pension funds), usually don’t care as long as the firm is producing sufficient short-term returns. With more “activist” share-holders, there’s definitely a deal of corruption involving board elections and accountability – to some extent. I do think executive salaries also reflect the fact that any CEO that isn’t a drooling moron at his job is going to get other pay offers if the firm he or she’s working for is paying them unusually low, and so firms jack up the pay to keep them from leaving.

  • alfgifu

    Part of the problem is that it’s very easy to measure shareholder returns, and there’s a natural human tendency to prefer a single measure of success that is easy to understand. In the same category: the emphasis on GDP for how well a country is doing.

    A single, simple metric supports a straightforward narrative about the underlying situation. The trouble is, these nice understandable measures don’t actually reflect how well a complex organisation is operating in any meaningful way. But learning about lots of different factors and weighing them up is hard work, so it’s much easier for shareholders to focus on the immediate benefit to them.

    One current attempt to address this is the Integrated Reporting project. To quote from their website: ‘An integrated report is a concise communication about how an organization’s strategy, governance, performance and prospects lead to the creation of value over the short, medium and long term.’ The idea is to include social, environmental and other considerations alongside the bare numbers.

    There’s a consultation draft out at the moment on a proposed framework to support these reports. I’d highly recommend taking a look and responding – the more voices heard, the better.

  • http://twitter.com/HelenLeeAuthor Helen Lee

    Good point! Just wanted to mention that the number one “Best Places to Work” company on Fortune’s list in 2012 was Google, proving you don’t have to be privately held to treat your employees well. =)

  • aunursa

    The “teach consent” link references a petition to the White House. Alas, when I try to click on the petition, I get the message: “The petition you are trying to access has expired, because it failed to meet the signature threshold.”

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Aww, that sucks! I signed that petition when it was first up. :(

  • aunursa

    The “teach consent” link references an article by Zerlina Maxwell for Ebony titled: “5 Ways We Can Teach Men Not to Rape.” I’m confused about two of the points

    3. Teach young men how to express healthy masculinity: The question that’s being asked about what women can do to prevent violence against them is the wrong question. It’s not what can a woman say or do that can prevent being attacked. We need to turn that paradigm.

    That seems to suggest that we should not teach women such ideas as: If you’re attending a party, go with a trusted friend, and look out for each other; if you’re alone when leaving a shopping center after dark, ask for a security escort to your car at night, etc. I think that we should teach women such habits without the implication that it’s the woman’s fault if she is assaulted.

    4. Teach young men to believe women who come forward and not to blame the victim: The vast majority of women do not report their rapes to the police and many more only tell one or two people in confidence.

    This one is tricky. The overwhelming majority of women who report a rape are telling the truth. But there are documented cases of false reports; DNA evidence aquitted the accused and/or the accuser later retracted her statement. Here are two examples. How do we simultaneously balance the valid aims of (a) providing a rape victim the confidence that she will be supported and believed, and (b) protecting the rights of the accused, and not assume before a trial that a man accused of rape is guilty?

  • EllieMurasaki

    I don’t know that it’s possible to teach those habits without implying that a woman who does not do those things and who gets assaulted is at fault for not keeping herself safe. Certainly it is not possible in context of a culture where rape is always the victim’s fault.

    And nobody seems terribly concerned about trying the Boston bomber in the media before he gets his trial in the courtroom. Why the worry about trying an accused rapist in the media before in the courtroom? Especially given that almost no rapists ever end up in a courtroom in the first place.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Just to back this up with some statistics that passed through my FB earlier today-

    * Less than half of all rapes are actually reported
    * Only 3% of all rapists spend even a day in jail
    * Campus rape rates haven’t changed in 20 years
    * 2-8% of rape reports are false, although polls indicate people think up to 50% of all reports are fabricated

    https://upworthy-production.s3.amazonaws.com/nugget/514b9f25557d62000200c8e7/attachments/Rape_Culture.jpg

  • stardreamer42

    That seems to suggest that we should not teach women such ideas as: If
    you’re attending a party, go with a trusted friend, and look out for
    each other; if you’re alone when leaving a shopping center after dark,
    ask for a security escort to your car, etc.

    This is exactly the line of reasoning used by many rape apologists to suggest that nothing about the way we treat this issue seems to change. If you don’t want to tick people off and be perceived as a rape apologist yourself, I suggest that you consider the argument made in the original article — that it is not what we are teaching women, but what we are NOT teaching men, that has to change.

  • aunursa

    My confusion is this: Why must it be one or the other? Why can’t we teach both? Why can’t we teach women steps they can take to help keep them safer and teach men how they should view and treat women? And I don’t understand this idea: that teaching women steps they can take to stay safer implies that a woman who doesn’t follow those steps (or doesn’t know to follow them) is at fault if she is attacked.

  • LMM22

    Why can’t we teach women steps they can take to help keep them safer

    Because they already know those steps! I know I’m supposed to ask for a security escort; I know I’m not supposed to go to a party or a bar alone; I know I’m supposed to always let someone else know where I am.

    Every single one of those steps — without exception — puts limits on what I can do and how I can act. (Bizarrely, the ones that are the *least* restrictive are things men don’t think of telling women. If I’m going to be walking alone, I’m not going to be wearing high heels.) And you know what? Most of those steps aren’t *practical*. When I was in grad school, I worked odd hours on our instruments — there were *lots* of days I walked home at 3 am or so. I picked my apartment carefully (it was a straight shot down a busy street), but there really weren’t any other options.

    The worst part, of course, is that those steps are restrictive without offering an ounce of protection. Those parties I can’t attend without a trusted friend? Are places I can’t *make* trusted friends at when I show up in a new city — let alone ‘trusted friends’ who want to go to parties! Honestly, the place I was the *least* safe was at work — where one of my coworkers turned out to be a pedophile. We weren’t allowed to fire him (not until the case was brought to trial — and he was going to postpone that day in court as long as he could, thankyouverymuch), but I *still* had to be on that instrument at 3 am.

    I carried a knife. Not much protection, but what are you going to do? You can follow all the rules you want, but they only work so long as other people *let* them work for you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Mielke/100001114326969 Marc Mielke

    There are wonderful self-defense classes for women that teach techniques they should never have to use: the first task my friend’s class does is to use a bowl of grapes — to desensitize women to the feel of gouging out an attacker’s eyes.

    After that it starts getting REALLY brutal. They’ve had to replace more than one ‘red man’ instructor’s safety suit.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    My confusion is this: Why must it be one or the other? Why can’t we teach both? Why can’t we teach women steps they can take to help keep them safer and teach men how they should view and treat women?

    It is not one or the other, by any means. There already is a lot of teaching of women on this subject. However, there is a concern that the teaching of men not to be rapists is somewhat more lacking than our education of women in preventing rape.

    We are not saying “Just teach men and don’t teach women,” we are saying that we need to teach men more than we are doing already, because at the moment we do not teach them enough.

  • aunursa

    Au contraire: Some people are saying, “Just teach men and don’t teach women.” Just look around at some of the other responses to my question…

    Because they already know those steps! … Every single one of those steps — without exception — puts limits on what I can do and how I can act.

    1. Women have already been taught how to avoid rape ad nauseum…
    2. Most rape prevention tips are useless…

    I don’t know that it’s possible to teach those habits without implying that a woman … is at fault for not keeping herself safe.

    One responder implied that merely by arguing that we should teach women such safety tips and techniques, I could “tick people off and be perceived as a rape apologist.”

  • EllieMurasaki

    “Just teach men and don’t teach women” is an entirely appropriate response to “men don’t know this shit and women do”.

  • Carstonio

    Of course the quotes sound that way when you pull them out of context. This issue is all about context, and I don’t know why you’re ignoring it or what point you’re trying to make by doing so.

    Our culture wrongly externalizes violence, treating it as an inevitable threat from a mindless Other. Our debates over violent crime place the focus on protecting ourselves from random strangers. But a shot from a handgun is more likely to come from a relative or friend than from a mugger or intruder, and a rapist is far more likely to be someone the woman knows and perhaps trusts.

    It cannot be emphasized enough that rape is not about lust and in of itself. That’s the old “don’t tease the panther” falsehood about men having impulses that they must control and that women provoke. Rape is fundamentally about power and entitlement. It’s created mostly by longstanding attitudes about men’s and women’s roles, particularly the assumption that a woman’s sexuality is the property of others. Women wouldn’t need to protect themselves from rape if we stopped implicitly and explicitly teaching men from an early age that they’re entitled to things from women, sexual and otherwise.

  • aunursa

    Alas, I’m not clear how your response and Ellie’s response contradict my assertion to FearlessSon that…

    “Several people are saying, ‘Just teach men and don’t teach women.”

    If anything, your responses reinforce my statement.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Women are being taught to avoid being raped. We do not need to be taught more about how to avoid being raped. We already know all the usual things, and the usual things are bullshit anyway.

    Men are NOT being taught to AVOID RAPING.

    In that context–and have fun trying to explain how your assertion exists in any other context–teaching men to avoid raping and not continuing to teach women to avoid being raped is not only reasonable but necessary.

  • aunursa

    Feel free to quote or link any comment in which I said or even suggested that men should not be taught how to view and treat women.

  • aunursa

    Just so we’re clear … it is your position that it’s pointless to teach safety tips like these because: women already know them, most of the tips are worthless, and they put limits on what women are allowed to do? Safety and Self Defense Solutions – safety tips

  • EllieMurasaki

    If you want to teach a woman to not be raped, teach her not to trust anyone. Because the vast majority of rapes are committed by someone she trusts.

    If you want to stop rapes from happening, teach men not to rape, teach everyone to believe rape survivors when they say they’re rape survivors, teach everyone to believe rape is at least as bad as (oh, say) theft, and teach men not to rape.

    That’s my position.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I think we do a fine job of teaching men not to rape, and a terrible job of teaching men what rape is. Which is why if you ask most men, they will tell you honestly that they would never ever no never rape, but if you ask them if they would have sex with someone who hadn’t given clear consent, quite a lot of them would honestly say that they would.

  • EllieMurasaki

    That totally explains why, when (as I understand has happened) an onlooker to the sexual assault of an unconscious person says it’s rape, the assaulters stop.

    Oh wait they don’t.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Depends. Did they say “Hey, you’re raping that person!” or did they toss out the word ‘rape’ as a joke, the same way people who haven’t been taught better might speak of a sound thrashing in a video game? (I know what you’re talking about. Every thing I have heard abotu that screams to me that the person was using the term as thougtless hyperbole — that the very way they said it indicates clearly that they thought it was not “really” rape.)

  • Carstonio

    Nowhere did I suggest that we shouldn’t teach women how to avoid being raped. I’m objecting to the suggestion that rape prevention is mostly or solely a matter of teaching avoidance. Again, this grossly mischaracterizes the nature and causes of sexual assault. The long-term solution to rape does involve teaching men to avoid raping, but overall it means changing societal attitudes about women’s roles and women’s sexuality.

  • aunursa

    I regret if anything I wrote gave you the impression that I believe that “rape prevention is mostly or solely a matter of teaching avoidance.” That was not my intention, and I don’t believe it.

  • AnonaMiss

    That seems to suggest that we should not teach women such ideas as: If you’re attending a party, go with a trusted friend, and look out for
    each other; if you’re alone when leaving a shopping center after dark,
    ask for a security escort to your car, etc.

    These are, of course, good general-safety tips which should be taught to people of both genders for avoiding stranger-directed crime.

    The problem is that these tips apply to a small percentage of rapes, which are usually committed inside, by someone you trusted that it turned out you shouldn’t have. The problem with spreading these general safety precautions as rape prevention tips is that it reinforces the rare-but-conventional narrative of stranger-rape, while ignoring the more common narratives of acquaintance-rape, friend-rape, family-rape. Which makes people more likely to doubt and dismiss stories of acquaintance-rape, friend-rape, and family-rape.

    How do we simultaneously balance the valid aims of (a) providing a rape victim the confidence that she will be supported and believed, and (b) protecting the rights of the accused, and not assume before a trial that a man accused of rape is guilty?

    I agree that legally, he-said-she-said rape cases shouldn’t result in conviction. The thing is, though? If a rape case – hell if any properly granted case goes to trial, it is because there is evidence beyond he-said-she-said. The evidence may fall through, or there may turn out to be stronger counterevidence, but the when it comes to rape cases, a certain subset of popular opinion can dismiss video of the crime, distributed by the perp. If someone’s caught on videotape stealing something, even that person’s closest friends will admit that ze stole it. But with rape, somehow, that isn’t the case, and that’s terrible.

    I don’t think the goal should be that an accuser should always be believed – just that the belief/disbelief needs to be more in line with the body of evidence, and the belief/disbelief distributions for other types of crime.

  • aunursa

    These are, of course, good general-safety tips which should be taught to people of both genders for avoiding stranger-directed crime.

    Then don’t teach them as rape prevention tips or women’s safety tips. Teach them as general safety tips. I’m curious: there are many universities with campus safety guidelines and programs that are specifically identified as “for women.” Should these guidelines and programs be revised to remove the gender identification so as not to imply that a woman who don’t use these tips and techniques is to blame if she becomes the victim of an assault?

  • AnonaMiss

    Absolutely. Women won’t ignore the tips just because they’re not specifically “for women;” and young men are probably more in need of the tips than young women are, since women tend to be socialized from a young age to be more safety-conscious and fearful.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Content warning for this post: Rape talk, victim blaming.

    In February, a friend of mine from Minnesota was in the state, and we decided to hang out. He showed up fully expecting something sexual to happen, and at first I’d been into the idea. After the first time, I wasn’t so into it anymore, as the condom had broken and that had completely ruined any interest I had in the idea.

    Long story short, I ended up sleeping with him a couple more times, simply because he never stopped demanding it, and I was afraid of what would happen if I angered him. After all, if the Plan B failed, I was going to need his help financially.

    I didn’t even register that what had happened was indeed rape until almost a month later, when talking to my therapist about it. I knew that consent gotten under coercion wasn’t considered valid consent, I had just never put two and two together in regards to what happened to me.

    When the connection was forced, I talked to my boyfriend about it. He denied from the word go that it was rape. He insisted that I had actually given valid consent, and that all the guy could possibly have seen was me “saying no at first and then changing my mind.” And that came with a high dose of shaming. He insisted that I wouldn’t be in the situation at all if I had just “had a spine,” that my caving was based on fear and “not seeing the situation clearly” and if I had thought about it a little harder, I’d have seen outs that I had no possible way of seeing at the time and that he could only see because he had knowledge I didn’t have at the time. He still insists that its partially my fault, and we can’t discuss it without getting into a massive argument.

    So, I gave all that background to say this: I think educating people is key. giving a thorough teaching of what consent is and isn’t, and what types of consent are and aren’t valid not only would have possibly kept the guy from continuing to pressure me, it probably would have resulted in my boyfriend having an entirely different view on the matter. He sees it now as me looking for an excuse to not be at fault. If he had learned this stuff in an educational setting, his opinion might be different.

    And support is key. I have someone I can talk to about this situation if needed who understands, but not having my boyfriend’s support is huge. Knowing that he thinks that I’m just looking for a way to totally blame the guy hurts. It made me question myself at first.

    Pressing charges never crossed my mind, but for a woman who intends to do so, support would be even more key. Especially in a situation where the rest of the world is going to assume she’s lying. (Which is another thing comprehensive education would help eradicate, probably.)

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    That’s horrible. Yes, absolutely, sexual coercion is rape and you should never doubt that. I wish you hadn’t had to deal with that.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    It’s your business, but… my instinct is, to use Dan Savage’s acronym, DTMFA. Your situation sounds similar to letter #2, here: http://captainawkward.com/2012/08/07/322-323-my-friend-group-has-a-case-of-the-creepy-dude-how-do-we-clear-that-up/

  • Baby_Raptor

    That was pretty deja-vu inducing…Except that it was *me* telling myself not to make a huge deal out of it so as to avoid breaking up the group, to just avoid him except when we were all together playing L4D or whatever in an attempt to not let my drama break up the social circle.

    Ugh. Rape culture, I hate you. You suck.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shaenon Shaenon K. Garrity

    Your first point has several responses:

    1. Women have already been taught how to avoid rape ad nauseum. Believe me, we know we can be raped. This is not new and exciting information.

    2. Most rape prevention tips are useless. They tend to assume that the average rapist is a stranger lurking in a dark alley. Getting a big strong man to escort me around the shopping mall isn’t going to protect me from the guy who drops something in my drink at the bar, or the friends-of-friends who offer me a ride home and then decide I owe them for it, or the coworker who seemed okay until that night I let him crash on my couch, or the boyfriend who decides he doesn’t need my consent to have sex with me anymore. Or, for that matter, the big strong man escorting me around the mall.

    2a. That’s leaving aside the rape prevention advice that’s outright wrong. For instance, telling women to avoid rape by dressing modestly. Rapists tend to target women who dress and act modestly, because they know shy women are less likely to fight back.

    3. Most rape prevention tips place ridiculous and unfair limits on my ability to live my life. I can’t go to bars. I can’t go to parties. I should be around other people at all times, unless those people rape me, in which case it’s my fault for being around people. I can’t go out after dark. I can’t work late, which limits my ability to hold down a job. I have to take special precautions moving around campus, which limits my ability to get an education. At some point, surely it would be easier to just tell people not to rape.

    4. Placing the onus on the victims, no matter how politely you phrase it, leads naturally to victim-blaming. This can be especially hard on male rape victims, who are pressured to feel it was their fault for not fighting back harder or being “manly” enough.

    5. Focusing on the victims does nothing to stop the rapists or the social structure that allows them to operate. Say I follow the rape-prevention tips to the letter, stay at home with my blinds drawn all day and night, and never get raped. Fine for me–but the rapist who might have gotten me rapes someone else, someone who was a titch less careful. I don’t want another person to get raped in my place. I want nobody to get raped.

    6. If anyone made this argument about other types of crime, they’d be laughed out of the room, and rightly so. A few years ago, my husband was mugged. Filing a report with the police and helping them catch the muggers was painful and difficult for him. Imagine how much more difficult it would have been if he’d had people demanding to know why he’d been out late at night in a bad neighborhood, why he hadn’t brought an escort of some kind, whether he’d been dressed in a way that might provoke muggers, whether he was just lying to get the muggers in trouble because that’s something men do, etc. Fortunately, everyone involved took the crime seriously. No one told him that mugging wouldn’t be a problem if people like him didn’t go around getting mugged.

    7. Rape is a crime with a high rate of recidivism; most rapists are serial rapists. A small number of perpetrators commit the vast majority of rapes. It makes more sense to stop this small group of people from getting away with rape than to teach everyone else in the world to tiptoe around them and accommodate their criminal behavior.

    8. I shouldn’t need a goddamn “security escort” to go shopping.

    In response to your second point, false accusations of rape are about as common as false accusations of other violent crimes (robbery, battery, etc.), and are considerably less likely to go to trial. There is no reason why people accused of rape should receive protections above and beyond those accorded to people accused of any crime.

  • hidden_urchin

    Well said.

    This reminds me of an experience I had recently.

    I was planning to walk to a cocktail party about a mile from my home. (The parking garage was exactly halfway between my home and the party so driving was not a substantial improvement over walking.) It’s also a walk I’ve made at night in street clothes many times before and never felt unsafe because it is well lit and generally well traveled. This time, however, I would be wearing a cocktail dress and be coming home late at night from a party where I had been drinking. (There’s a four rule violation right there. Woman? Check. Immodest clothes? Check. Alone at night? Check. Alcohol? Check.)*

    Now, the easy solution, if I were following the rules that have been drilled into me since childhood, would be to ask a friend, preferably male, to accompany me. Except I had no friends in this town or even acquaintances.

    My options were to take the walk and take the risk or stay home.
    I walked and nothing happened but you can bet your bottom dollar that when I was planning to go to this party and when I was walking I damn well knew that if anything happened then I would be blamed for it.

    For the guys, have you ever had to put this much mental energy into simply going out? How would you feel if you frequently faced a choice between living your life like anyone else and following social rules that, as other posters have mentioned, don’t even really work? And what if you couldn’t follow the rules, would you take the risk of being hurt and then being blamed for it or would you let life pass you by?

    *Content note: rape
    For bonus points, there have been a couple of cases in the past year or so where women in my town who have been walking at night have either been abducted and raped or escaped such attacks (although not in the neighborhood where I was. Probably within three miles though).

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    For the guys, have you ever had to put this much mental energy into simply going out?

    Yes.

    How would you feel if you frequently faced a choice between living your life like anyone else and following social rules

    Lousy; something similar to that was a strongly motivating factor for my choice of where I live, and I’m grateful that I have the freedom to make such choices.

    would you take the risk of being hurt and then being blamed for it or would you let life pass you by?

    It varies but I’ve done both in my time, and anyone who wants to judge me (or you, or whoever) for choosing the former is both free to do so and strongly encouraged to keep it to themselves.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    As someone who often doesn’t feel dressed appropriately for my gender-at-the-moment, I can also attest to feeling threatened by the mere act of going outside and putting a lot of thought into whether I want to do so or take the risk and accomplish other things that make my life more fulfilling.

    Pretty much any group with visible differences from the group in power suffers this, I think… which is pretty much every group that’s not in power, given group characteristic homogeneity being used as a tribal identifier.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    At risk of repeating another person’s response to you, your #5 immediately made me think of this blog post by Jim Hines, in which he quotes:

    If you’re promoting changes to women’s behavior to “prevent” rape, you’re really saying “make sure he rapes the other girl.”

    You know the old joke punchline, “I don’t have to be faster than the bear; I just have to be faster than you!” It’s generally funny because most of us aren’t being chased by a bear; the situation is rare enough that the statement becomes absurd.

    But a lot of women are told “Make sure you do everything in your power, no matter the cost to your quality of life, to be less rapeable than the next woman.” And it’s not funny at all.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    In reply to the first point, the thrust of the article was how to teach men not to rape. The teaching women ways to minimize their risk is another issue, and was probably not included because it might distract from the main point.

    In reply to the second point, it is not addressing directly legally binding, arrest-making, criminal-record filing stuff. It is more about creating a culture where men are unlike to dismiss the claims of a woman who comes to them, or to belittle her or blame her for what happened to her. It is environments where a woman feels that she cannot trust those around her that most women do not report actual rapes. The women who make false rape accusations may still do so, but these are not the people we care about here, we care about the people who actually are raped and do not come forward with that information.

    The more we create a culture where rape victims are not shamed and rape is swiftly reported, the more difficult it will be for rapists to get away with rape.

  • Lori

    If you’re attending a party, go with a trusted friend, and look out for each other; if you’re alone when leaving a shopping center after dark,
    ask for a security escort to your car, etc. I think that we should teach women such habits without the implication that it’s the woman’s fault if she is assaulted.

    Guys, if you’re going to a party and there’s any chance you might commit rape by having sexual contact with a fellow guest who has not consented or is unable to consent then be sure to always go with a friend who can be trusted not to rape or to help you cover up any rapes you might commit and who will step in to control you if you can’t control yourself.

    If you find yourself leaving a shopping center after dark and you’re not sure you’ll be able to resist raping someone in the parking lot you should call security and have them walk with you to your vehicle. You should also carry a whistle just in case you find yourself without an escort and about to rape someone. You can then blow the whistle to attract attention from passers by who can help you control your urge to rape.

    You should also think carefully about your clothing choices. Don’t wear pants that are too easy to get open and don’t go commando. You need to keep as many layers of fabric as possible between your penis and anyone you might sexually assault. You should also avoid clothing with pockets where you could carry a weapon or an object with which you could sexually assault someone. Sure, that will narrow your clothing options and the ones that remain to you may not be to your taste or may be uncomfortable or unflattering for you, but rape prevention is more important than fashion, right?

    If careful clothing choices are insufficient to discourage you from committing sexual assault there are a number of discrete devices on the market that will control your penis when you can’t control it yourself. Sure, you’d rather not have to wear a cage and you’d prefer to be able to pee standing up, but if your eye offends thee pluck it out and all that. Wearing a locking device on your penis every time you leave the house is a small price to pay for the security of knowing that you won’t rape anyone while you’re out.

    As I said the last time this topic came up here, I’m in favor of teaching women street smarts and self-defense. As someone else noted in that conversation, it’s not empowering to in effect tell women that there’s nothing we can do to protect ourselves and our only option is to beg men not to rape us. That said, we need to balance our rape prevention messages a lot better and we need to think them through much more rigorously. If a statement sounds ridiculous when directed at a man then we should think twice about directing it at a woman.

  • aunursa

    I’m in favor of teaching women street smarts and self-defense. As someone else noted in that conversation, it’s not empowering to in effect tell women that there’s nothing we can do to protect ourselves

    I’m glad that someone agrees that we should teach women (and men) safety and prevention tips.

  • Lori

    Oh give me a break. People are not disagreeing with you about that. You’re taking comments our of context for reasons I don’t fully understand. Also, way to miss the main point of what I said.

  • aunursa

    No, I won’t give you a break. People are disagreeing with me. Their statements in context are clear that it’s wrong to teach women about safety. They’ve already been taught plenty (apparently this applies to every woman), most of the tips are worthless, and the mere act of providing such tips makes women responsible for their own safety and thus places the blame on them if they are attacked rather than on the assailant. Whether I quote a portion or the whole post, the other commenters are quite clear on the matter.

    “Just teach men and don’t teach women” is an entirely appropriate response to “men don’t know this shit and women do”.

    Regarding the rest of what you wrote: Of all the dumb things you’ve written, the rest of your previous comment was one of the dumbest. I wanted to highlight your one sensible point rather than embarass you further.

  • EllieMurasaki

    If it’s something you’d tell both men and women expecting it to keep them safe, it’s a safety tip. If it’s something you’d tell women alone expecting it to keep them safe, it’s bullshit. Why is this so hard to understand?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I just want to be clear here: are you saying that men and women do not face different threat profiles and therefore it is never the case that different defensive strategies are appropriate?

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’m saying that telling a woman not to walk by herself in a
    given neighborhood at night, if a man would not get the same caution in an otherwise identical situation, is bullshit.

  • aunursa

    I’m saying that telling a woman not to walk by herself in a
    given neighborhood at night, if a man would not get the same caution in an otherwise identical situation, is bullshit.

    That’s correct. I am in agreement with you.

  • Lori

    The problem is not with discussing the different threat profiles faced by men and women. it’s with saying that the solution to threats faced by men is to get tough on crime and the solution to threats faced by women is for women to curtail their lives and clothing choices and have babysitters when they go out after dark or move in herds like nervous wildebeests on the lookout for lions.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Replying to you because you’re the most recent comment on this thread in my inbox:
    http://hoydenabouttown.com/20130325.13205/a-short-post-on-rape-prevention/
    If owning a gun and knowing how to use it worked, the military would be the safest place for a woman. It’s not.

    If women covering up their bodies worked, Afghanistan would have a lower rate of sexual assault than Polynesia. It doesn’t.

    If not drinking alcohol worked, children would not be raped. They are.
    If your advice to a woman to avoid rape is to be the most modestly dressed, soberest and first to go home, you may as well add “so the rapist will choose someone else”.

  • Lori

    Of all the dumb things you’ve written, the rest of your previous comment was one of the dumbest.

    Really? You position on this issue is that it’s “dumb” and “gibberish” to use role reversal to point out that some shit people say about rape is sexist and stupid? That’s what you’re going with here? Once again, you demonstrate why so few people want to talk to you outside the LB threads. FSM you’re an ass.

  • aunursa

    You position on this issue is that it’s “dumb” and “gibberish” to use role reversal to point out that some shit people say about rape is sexist and stupid?

    No. You did not use role reversal. Role-reversal would have been this:

    Guys: If you’re attending a party, go with a trusted friend, and look out for each other; if you’re alone when leaving a shopping center after dark, ask for a security escort to your car, etc. I think that we should teach men such habits without the implication that it’s the man’s fault if he is assaulted.

    Instead you posted gibberish nonsense.

  • Lori

    You really don’t get it do you? You’re so attached to your safety tips for girls that you can’t see how the policing of women supposedly in order to prevent rape effects us. You promote policing women’s lives in
    order to prevent rape but think it’s gibberish nonesense when that scropt gets flipped such that men’s likves are the ones being policed.

    So I’ll ask again, why is it smart and neceessary to
    drill women in the ways they must curtail their lives in order to prevent rape, but totally ridiculous to tell men to curtail their lives and choices in order to prevent rape. Are you even capable of wrapping your mind around the point I was making? It would appear not.

    I sincerly hope that no woman unfortunate enough to have you in her life is ever the victim of assault. First and formost because I hope no woman is the victim of assulat, but secondarily becaue your attitude would make her feel worse and make it harder to heal. No woman should have to deal with that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shaenon Shaenon K. Garrity

    I mentioned above that my husband got mugged a few years ago. Here’s something I didn’t mention: he didn’t fight back. When the moment came, he froze. I’m immensely grateful that he did–I don’t like to think of what could have happened if he’d escalated things–but for a long time afterward he beat himself up over it. He’s a very gentle man, but he had fantasies of tracking the muggers down and beating the shit out of them.

    Now I’m trying to imagine what it would’ve been like if, on top of his self-recrimination, he had people actually TELLING him he had a responsibility to fight back and should have turned into the Karate Kid when danger threatened. And what it’d be like if every time there was a news story about a robbery, people said, “Well, sure, robbery is wrong, but the people who get robbed are equally at fault for not personally beating up the robbers.”

    I’m trying to imagine what would happen in society if those were prevailing attitudes, and what first comes to mind is a) a lot more muggings would escalate into injury or death, and b) a lot fewer mugging victims would go to the police, or even tell people they’d been mugged.

  • aunursa

    Each situation is unique, and the person threatened must determine for herself or himself what is the best course of action. And the type of threat may help the person decide whether to fight back. It may be better for a person not to fight back against a mugger, while it may be better to fight back against a would-be rapist or kidnapper.

  • stardreamer42

    Klein and Soltas don’t even mention the #1 thing that moves Congress on many issues: TONS OF MONEY from people who do not want to see any changes in the status quo. Absent some discussion of that factor, the article is severely flawed.

  • reynard61

    “Besides banks, the CFPB also accepts complaints about credit cards, mortgages, student loans, and credit reporting. They work quickly, and they get results.”

    That’s probably why Congress refuses to confirm him to his post.

  • The_L1985

    You’ve talked about Godwin-style abortion rhetoric and how it leads to violence before, but in this case the connection is clearer than ever: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2013/04/did-r-c-sproul-jr-incite-anti-abortion-violence.html


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