‘The belief that they’re entitled to control women’s bodies’

(Trigger warning: Men who believe “that they’re entitled to control women’s bodies” do, condone, encourage and instigate some really awful deeds. This post deals with some of them.)

Beyonce’s Clothes Do Not Create Sex Trafficking,” Amanda Marcotte writes.

That seems obvious. Mrs. Carter, after all, is only 31 years old, and I’m pretty sure that sex trafficking existed before 1981. While her Super Bowl show was almost enough to convince me that Beyonce has super powers, I still doubt those include transcending time and space in order to be the cause of something that began thousands of years before she was born.

And yet this Huffington Post writer argues exactly that. She says Beyonce’s supposed “immodesty” is “feeding a demonic myth” that promotes the forced prostitution of young girls.

And that’s where Marcotte’s response comes in. After noting that countries that strictly police women’s “modesty” are among those with the worst records for sexual trafficking, she cuts to the heart of the matter:

Sex trafficking has a simple, straightforward cause: Men who believe they are entitled to control women’s bodies. Both pimps and johns that go to trafficked prostitutes simply believe women are theirs for the taking, and act on that belief. Feeling lust for a woman does not automatically translate into believing you get to use her however you like. Millions of men stare at Beyonce’s beautiful body all the time without even having a moment of thinking that they get to rape her. Sexual desire doesn’t create rape. The belief that women are property does.

I get why it’s tempting to police women’s clothing and sexual choices in an effort to stop sex trafficking and other forms of rape. It stems from a hope that there’s something women can do to stop rape: If you cover up more, behave more modestly, discourage male lusts, etc., maybe that will stop rape and trafficking! But it’s bullshit. The only thing that stops sexual abuse is to stop men from developing the belief that they’re entitled to control women’s bodies. I realize that seems like a tall, daunting order and it feels easier to tell women to cover up — even though that’s wholly ineffective — but it’s the only thing that will actually work. After all, most men do not actually rape, become pimps, or seek out trafficked prostitutes. So it’s not like it’s impossible for men to get the message.

Siccing the modesty police on Beyonce won’t help to stop sex trafficking. Beyonce isn’t part of the problem. But the modesty police are. They feed the same ideology that fuels sex trafficking: “the belief that men are entitled to control women’s bodies.”

Another part of the problem comes from the comrades in arms of the modesty police: the Purity Brigade and “purity culture” more generally.

Earlier this year we saw an astonishing wave of articles and blog posts from evangelical Christian women standing up and rejecting the damaging “purity culture” that American evangelicalism has embraced in lieu of a credible sexual ethic. The substance of this critique echoed what folks like Libby Anne, Dianne Anderson and Sarah Moon had been saying for a while, but it came to a boil for dozens of others — people who maybe didn’t think of themselves as feminist — sometime around when Sarah Bessey’s “Damaged Goods” essay was posted at Deeper Story. Those folks began speaking up and telling their stories — stories of the harm done by or excused by this Christian “purity culture.”

This week we heard that same story told yet again, but this time in a more extreme context. As Libby Anne writes in linking to this Associated Press story: “Elizabeth Smart, a girl who was kidnapped at age 14 in 2002 and held captive for almost a year before she was rescued, recently explained that these exact ideas about sexual purity can aid and abet human trafficking.” Here’s a bit of that story:

Rescued kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart said Wednesday she understands why some human trafficking victims don’t run.

Smart said she “felt so dirty and so filthy” after she was raped by her captor, and she understands why someone wouldn’t run “because of that alone.”

Smart spoke at a Johns Hopkins human trafficking forum, saying she was raised in a religious household and recalled a school teacher who spoke once about abstinence and compared sex to chewing gum.

“I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away.’ And that’s how easy it is to feel like you know longer have worth, you no longer have value,” Smart said. “Why would it even be worth screaming out? Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued? Your life still has no value.”

… Smart says children should be educated that “you will always have value and nothing can change that.”

This purity culture teaching of “damaged goods” and “that chewed up piece of gum” is just another expression of the belief that men are entitled to control women’s bodies.

Richard Beck responded to Smart’s recent comment by revisiting his earlier post on what he calls the “toxic” psychology of Christian purity culture. Do go read the whole thing, but here’s the crux of it:

We treat sexual sins and the loss of virginity very differently from other sins, as a class of sin unto itself. And how do we make that happen? We accomplish this by framing these sins almost exclusively with purity metaphors. And in doing so we recruit a psychological system built upon a food-aversion system, a system driven by disgust, revulsion, and nausea. But instead of directing these feelings toward food we are now directing the feelings of disgust, revulsion and nausea toward human beings. More, we teach our children to internalize and direct these feelings toward themselves.

And I think we can sharpen this point even more.

Based upon my experience, I would argue that male sexual sin isn’t generally framed as a purity violation. The loss of male virginity still gets the performance failure metaphor. If a boy losses his virginity it’s a mistake, a stumbling. Consequently, this is something he can easily rehabilitate. He’s not damaged goods. He can simply resolve to do better going forward. How is this so easy for him? Because his sexuality is being regulated by a performance metaphor.

By contrast, and this is the heart of of the matter, the loss of female virginity is almost exclusively regulated by the purity metaphor. For females the loss of virginity is a bit more than a performance failure. It’s a loss of purity that, because of the way purity works, is catastrophic and beyond rehabilitation. And because of this she’s got no way to move forward, metaphorically speaking. The game’s over. And thus she reaches the only conclusion the purity metaphor makes available to her: She’s damaged goods. And all the emotions related to that judgment of contamination rush forward as she internalizes all the shame, disgust, revulsion and nausea.

This is the psychology that makes the Christian purity culture so toxic.

It is not surprising that sexual traffickers and other predatory men are able to harness this toxic purity culture for their evil ends. That’s what it was designed to do. That’s what it’s for.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Björkman/100000191757322 Daniel Björkman

    I… don’t entirely agree that raunch culture has nothing to do with sex trafficking, though certainly the obsession with purity is just the flip side of that and I do not doubt it has the effects you say.

    The thing is, I think that if you constantly bombard people with messages of SEX SEX SEX EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME, it is inevitable that they are going to start feeling entitled to their self-indulgence (at least as long as they can slap down money to pay for it). I don’t believe that that fine print of “but only if you can find someone who wants you” really registers among the constant barrage of YOU ARE ENTITLED TO SEX SEX SEX SEX!!!! Self-indulgence does breed victimisation, because self-indulgence does not care about anyone but yourself – that’s what I think.

    And that is why I really can’t stand Amanda Marcotte, for all that I agree with her on the broad strokes of most issues. She is all about the coolness of self-indulgence (not to mention being all about *coolness,* which is an obsession that I really feel people should get over once they leave high school).

    But having all that said – no,if I set out to stop sex trafficking, Beyonce would not be my first stop either. I’m not sure why people make a fuss about her, to be honest, when the media is filled to the brim with oversexualised images of women. Is it just because she’s a woman willingly showing off herself, instead of a man showing off other women? I definitely sense a major double standard in there somewhere…

  • hf

    Arguably raunch culture has a problem here. But you can’t avoid endorsing selfishness at some point (short of destroying all life). Moral behavior can’t consist solely of helping others to help others help others. It has to bottom out somewhere in ‘selfish’ desire.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Björkman/100000191757322 Daniel Björkman

    Certainly I wouldn’t tell anyone that they should dress in sackcloth and ashes. We only have the one life, and we have to try to find some joy in it. But I don’t feel that the dominant message in our culture is “everyone is entitled to a little slice of what they want,” but rather, “you’re entitled to absolutely everything in the entire world (unless of course you’re some kind of LOOOOOOSER, in which case you don’t deserve anything and can drop dead).”

  • Müntzer

    The subtext is basically ‘it is yours if you take it’.
    From someone else preferably.
    And if your short on sex, you might apply that general consumer message to that.
    With unfortunate results like human trafficking and rape.

  • mhelbert

    This would be an appropriate observation if it wasn’t for the fact that victimization of women, girls, and young boys has been around a lot longer than any ‘raunch culture.’

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Björkman/100000191757322 Daniel Björkman

    Few things that are that widespread have only a single cause. And when it comes to the human tendency to exploit others for our own gratification, I don’t think a cause is even needed – it is part of human nature, the only thing we can do is encourage or discourage it.

  • mhelbert

    Agreed.

  • Jurgan

    A major idea of “rape culture” (which is closely related, I think, to your “raunch culture”) is that we condemn victims when we should be condemning perpetrators. This wouldn’t stop rape, but it would make it harder to get away with. There will always be people who want to rape, but if they knew that it would almost certainly lead to a heavy prison sentence, it might deter some of them. It would also make it much easier to recover from the psychological trauma of the event.

  • stardreamer42

    Prison sentences would be a good thing, but I think the knowledge that it would result in social ostracism would be even more effective. And that’s what rape culture is really about.

    Rape culture is men knowing that they can brag about what they did to that drunk chick at the party, and their friends will laugh and slap them on the back and think they’re “real men”. Men getting together to take videos of themselves raping drunk women, and posting them online, and then when they’re charged, everybody talks about how tragic it is for THEM that “their promising lives are going to be destroyed by this”. Men being bewildered when those rape charges come down, because EVERYBODY THEY KNOW either thinks this is an okay way to behave or has been terrorized into silence.

    This is what’s called the Social License to Rape — and it’s what needs to be changed, even more than we need prosecutions. In fact, changing this will increase the odds of rapists being prosecuted and getting those prison sentences!

  • erikagillian

    It’s even worse than that. More subtle.

    “Rape jokes are not jokes. Woman-hating jokes are not jokes. These guys are telling you what they think. When you laugh along to get their approval, you give them yours. You tell them that the social license to operate is in force; that you’ll go along with the pact to turn your eyes away from the evidence; to make excuses for them; to assume it’s a mistake, of the first time, or a confusing situation. You’re telling them that they’re at low risk.”

    That’s from Meet the Predators, a post on a blog called YesMeansYes. It’s rather famous now, you may have seen it but it’s really worth another read, it’s disturbing as hell but paints a very clear picture of what’s going on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Albright/100001047690991 Michael Albright

    I would argue that raunch culture viewed through a lens of purity would have the effect you suggest, but raunch culture on its own would do this to a significantly lesser degree — and I suspect, though I can’t support with any evidence, that if the elements of purity culture that infect raunch culture (if, for example, pornographers excised the words “slut” and “bitch” from their professional vocabulary and from this day out present expression of human sexuality as healthy and normal), even that would go a long way towards muting this effect towards the statistically insignificant.

    The entitlement endorsed by raunch culture is universally entitlement to do with your own body as you will, which, while it can lead to extreme short-sightedness and, coupled with a patriarchal attitude of entitlement towards women, certainly feeds the beast, has positive and healthy aspects as well. Raunch culture’s pushback against purity culture led eventually to things like Dan Savage’s promotion of GGG sexuality (good, giving and game), sex-positive feminism and egalitarian dating and sex models, and even the marriage equality movement — none of which could exist if we didn’t abandon the purity culture’s insistence that people be judged and held accountable for natural sexual curiosity.

    Raunch culture’s public presentation is one defined by its excesses and is quite guilty of overreach, but its major significant positive contribution to society is having made it both harder and less desirable to judge others for what they do in private with other consenting adults — both by presenting sex as normal, fun and healthy, and by endorsing all the weird, kinky shit that even GGG lovers balk at.

  • Darkrose

    if, for example, pornographers excised the words “slut” and “bitch” from their professional vocabulary

    This porn writer isn’t going to do that, ever. Not because I think there’s anything wrong with consensual expressions of human sexuality, but because verbal humiliation is probably my favorite kink to write, hands down.

    Er. That’s probably TMI, isn’t it?

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

    If that were true, then sex trafficking would be through the roof in places soaking in raunch culture, but next-to-non-existent in places in which raunchy stuff is strictly forbidden. Instead it’s the opposite.

    (Have to go, won’t be able to reply for a long time.)

  • Orclove

    Yeah . . . but no. Because rape frankly *more* prevalent in societies that are all chador’d and burka’d up. I was having drinks with some people *last night* one of whom was an Australian woman who’d just gotten back from Qatar. And her message to the ladies was don’t, DO NOT, get into an elevator alone with a Qatari man. Whether you’re Arab or not Arab, Muslim or not Muslim, scarfed or not scarfed, veiled or not veiled, you are officially Fair Game for full on groping-on-up from men in the Middle East.

    So no: Cultures that are NO SEX NO SEX NO SEX NO SEX NO TIME EVER!!! have way more sexual coercion in them.

  • ako

    The trouble with trying to address cultural messages about sex is that, outside of specifically feminist contexts, it’s rare for people to distinguish between the freedom for women to behave in certain ways, and the pressure to behave in certain ways. There’s a tendency to pit mandatory modesty against mandatory sexiness, when both of those things are damaging and reduce women to mere sexualized bodies to be displayed or hidden in accordance with male needs. (And there are plenty of people who will tell you how very much they’re liberating young women by forcing or pressuring them to cover up and promise to stay virgins.)

    In a better cultural conversation, it’d be less about how much skin was being exposed or how sexy things were and more about freedom, exploitation, and pressure.

  • Müntzer

    I doubt that purity culture alone is to blame here.

    Rape, apart from the loss of ‘purity’ is also humiliating, damaging, makes one feel weak, maybe even bad because one was not able to stop it.

    That is not part of Purity culture but part of the problem our culture has with weakness and ‘neediness’, the realization that people need help sometimes and are not worth less for that.

  • Jurgan

    Christians should be the last ones to make that mistake, given that a fundamental tenet of the religion is that none of us are worthy on our own, and we all need grace. What happens is that they are blamed for their victimization, as though it’s their fault, ignoring the fact that everyone makes mistakes and no one deserves rape as a punishment.

  • Müntzer

    We are on completly different roads here.
    I am not talking about rape as punishment (i find the idea alone hard to conceive) nor about sins as punishment (other than on the most superficial level).
    I talk about a culture of achievement that some Christians (god damn, John Calvin) have helped set up and that basically reduces you to what you earn and the status symbols you can present (The prosperity gospel is a even more heretical variation of this).
    With this also comes a certain sleaziness. If you stole what you have, it is only a crime if you were clumsy about it, not if you did it proper.
    And that would be the core of the problem for, that the same seems to go for sex now:
    That if you can get it without actually being accused of rape even if you use manipulation, emotional stress, etc. (and regardless of your gender) it is fine.

  • EllieMurasaki

    rape as punishment (i find the idea alone hard to conceive)

    Clearly you have never been a lesbian told that all you need is a good dicking.

  • Müntzer

    No, but than again that might have not necessary been intended as punishment but as very strange ‘reparative therapy’.
    The same as gay man get told they only need to get laid by a proper woman (or when they get over a prostitute in order to ‘get over it’).

  • EllieMurasaki

    Okay, let’s try this: Read Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Trigger warnings for everything, rape being a big one. Let me sum up: Rape is a weapon. And often it is used punitively.

  • Müntzer

    I know that, but only because rape is often (sometiemes) used as matters of punishment, ethnic cleansing and war fighting does not mean that every time a man says about a woman that she needs ‘a dicking’ he is advocating rape.

    He is a sleazy slob, sure, but thats about it.

    Also in African conflict zones the number of women commiting acts of sexual violence is growning.

    Yes, sexual violence is possibly punitive because it is humiliating but it is humiliating independent of an idea of purity (which would also beg the question why, if it is based on purity, rape is also humiliating for men being raped?).

  • EllieMurasaki

    I suppose it’s possible that suggesting someone have sex she doesn’t want is not advocating rape. Can’t see how, though. My initial point was, in any event, that if you can’t conceive of rape as punishment, then you’ve led a privileged life.

  • Müntzer

    If somebody where to suggest to me, that i need a dicking, i could interpret that in order to solve whatever perceived problem is adressed by that remark, i would need said dicking.

    So if i wanted to solve that problem i would then go and find me a dicking.

    As for rape a punishment:

    I responded to Jurgans thesis that victims of rape feel guilty because they perceive their rape (and i read that as any rape) as punishment.

    I doubted that because i both dislike sweeping statements (they are false in their absoluteness) and because i think that there are more reasons for feeling bad after being raped.

    And yes, i find it hard to conceive that rape could only be perceived as punishment.

    Maybe i lead a live privilieged by lack of self-mortification.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Who said anything about rape only being punishment?

  • Müntzer

    I understood Jurgan that way, though i think that has been worked out by now.

  • JustoneK

    Rape isn’t just punishment. It’s frequently a threat of punishment used to enforce social order, ie kyriarchy. Anytime women (and sometimes men) step outside the culturally mandated spheres – women in tech conferences, women on the internet, women on the streets – it happens, trying to scare them away from where they Should Not Be.

    Just like bullying, it helps maintain someone’s ideal status quo, and it’s bullshit.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    Someone’s sexual orientation is NOT a problem that needs solving. Someone someone “prescribing” a good dicking to a lesbian is advocating corrective rape.

  • Müntzer

    Since i think that was directed at me, no sexual orientation is not a problem that needs solving, but i thought it obvious enough that ‘dicking’ is hardly any serious try at ‘correcting’ a sexual orientation.

    But i still do not believe saying that, same as proscribing woman a dicking if they are cranky or men the need to get laid if they behave strange, is ‘advocating […] rape’.
    For that i would require language that is a little more explicit.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    But that was the topic under discussion, a lesbian being “corrected” by a good dicking. And you responded talking about problems to be solved by dicking.

  • müntzer

    I see that i skimped on the sarcasm smilies and the quotation marks.

    I don’t see i to eye with her (?) claim that telling or saying about a lesbian that she needs a good dicking (presumable from context so that she gets straight) is advocating rape.

    That is what that whole diatribe is for.

    If some tells me to get a dicking, i would presume that they, though probably not in earnest, advice that to me as a solution for whatever problem they connect that too (or ‘You are acting weird, you need to get laid!’ where presumably my acting weird would be cured or elevated by getting laid, e.g. having sex), not as an open invitation and request to anyone listening or even the world at large ‘to dick’ or lay my by force.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Sex does not have to involve penis.
    If the perceived solution to a lesbian’s problems involves sex, it is safe to assume penises won’t be involved.

    If the perceived solution to a lesbian’s problems involves penis, it is safe to assume the lesbian wants no part of it.

    I’m a ‘zir’, not a ‘her’.

  • Müntzer

    Still that does not bring us to advocating rape.
    That would not be “She just needs a good dicking.” but at the very least “She needs to get dicked.”

  • EllieMurasaki

    What the fuck are you ON.

  • Müntzer

    Forget the name, but it should only inhibit nor-adrenalin and serotonin. :D

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    I don’t see i to eye with her (?) claim that telling or saying about a lesbian that she needs a good dicking (presumable from context so that she gets straight) is advocating rape.

    That’s not a “claim” that’s a fact.

    Let me clarify this for you.

    Would a self professed lesbian, under any typical circumstances, desire to have a penis inserted in her vagina by a man? No. OK, so if she doesn’t desire it, she’s wouldn’t consent to it, correct? How is that not rape? What fucked up definition of rape are you operating under?

    The example you bring up, of a friend recommending sex as a stress release, has a COMPLETELY different context. “You need to get laid”=/=”You need a good dicking”

  • Müntzer

    I operate under a definition of homosexuality that you might find fucked up.
    I operate under a definition where sexuality is sliding, not rigid.
    Also “You need to get laid” -> not necessary friendly.

  • EllieMurasaki

    What in fuck does the fact that sexuality is sometimes not and/or not wholly immutable have to do with the fact that lesbian means penis sex not desired and therefore suggesting she have penis sex is suggesting she get raped?

  • Müntzer

    That this would only be true of a 100% lesbian.
    Every other percentage value would mean that percentage of likeness for penis sex.
    I still wonder though, why we are still discussing what somebody who proscribes a ‘dicking’ as a cure means by that.

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

    Oh, for crying out loud, Muntzer.

    It’s not about whether the woman herself is “100% lesbian”.

    The straight man telling the lesbian that all she needs is “a good dicking” to teach her how to be straight (and thus to stop pissing him off by daring to not need a man, i.e. him, in her bed) is himself operating under the assumption that the “good dicking” will be nonconsensual. He perceives her as Not Loving the Penis; whether he is correct in this or not, and to whatever percentage he is correct, that’s the premise he’s starting from. Therefore his assumption is that what he’s recommending is not something she wants happening.

    Whether there is any 0.0001% chance of a hypothetical case in which the aforementioned lesbian would consent to PIV sex is beside the point, and does not redeem the interaction. In this conversation, what the straight man intends to tell the lesbian is “I hope you get raped.”

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

    Or to be more accurate (I suspect), it’s back to the rapist theory, “No means yes. Women only say ‘no’ to play hard to get, when deep down, they know they like it.”

    … I seriously feel dirty now and that wasn’t even a bitter notfunny parody.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Now wait a minute.

    I agree that the phrase is generally used in advocacy of rape.

    But I don’t see that “dicking” necessarily implies an actual biological penis (I’ve actually literally heard cisgendered heterosexual women use that actual literal word in reference to an activity they wanted to perform on a man.).

    And even granting that, I don’t think “you need a good dicking” necessarily requires the interpretation “you should be raped by a man,” the phrase does not necessarily mean anything more than “it would be beneficial for you to to consent to sex with a person from this group you do not normally consent to sex with.”

    Nor for that matter do I think it follows that “No person who identifies as a lesbian would ever have consentual sex with a man,” unless you want to play semantic games along the lines of “If a woman has ever consented to sex with a man, even if she considers herself a lesbian, she’s technically not one.”

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    I never said there were no circumstances that a lesbian would have consensual sex with a man I added the qualifer “typical”. I know that there are plenty of circumstances a self professed lesbian would have consensual sex with a man. My own half sister is the daughter of a lesbian, who was married to my father for 5 years. You are trying to twist the context of my words by ignoring that.

    And of course not all uses of the term dicking have to do with rape, but in the context of THIS conversation, it was. It was initially brought up in reference to it being said to a lesbian as a corrective. The response has been nothing but an attempt to muddy the discussion by bringing up all the times it could possibly used in a different contexts, but THOSE contexts are not a part of this discussion. Again your actual literal heterosexual woman was not a part of the context of this discussion, or the way heterosexual men might use it to one another. It was about how hateful people use it towards lesbians, in an attempt to control women’s bodies. You know, the topic of the original post?

    All else is obfuscation and derailing.

  • Müntzer

    So you are saying because i was unable to witness the exact context of the remark my opinion that this did not necessarily have to imply or incite to rape ‘is obfuscating or derailing’.
    What is next?
    That i am actually accomplice and then that i think that too?
    That is not obfuscation and derailing, thats insulting.

  • Alix

    I don’t see that “dicking” necessarily implies an actual biological penis

    Interesting. I’ve never heard it not imply that, and I’ve almost never heard it without threatening overtones. But like I said somewhere else, that difference could be regional.

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

    Well, I’ve heard a variant as “dicking around,” the act of procrastinating or passing time doing something relatively pointless. “I spent the afternoon dicking around on the Internet.”

  • Alix

    “Dicking around” seems different to me. Less personal, less directed. It probably helps that a lot of people ’round here use it in reference to themselves; even if referring to other people, the construction gives the person agency. (“She was dicking around” vs. “She needs a good dicking.”)

    It’s not the verb “dicking” I object to.

    Edit: It helps if I check the context before replying. XD I concede the point on “dicking” not always requiring a penis, though in the phrase “[x] needs a good dicking” it always seems to.

  • Alix

    ‘dicking’ is hardly any serious try at ‘correcting’ a sexual orientation.

    FWIW, I have known a few assholes who honestly believed that would work. I have known more who do indeed think that a woman, esp. one they’ve tried to hit on, being lesbian or uninterested is grounds for rape threats at the very least.

    And I do indeed find “you need a good dicking” threatening. Because it is a threat, and it is yet another way to reduce me to a sexual object instead of a person.

  • Müntzer

    I don’t follow the last sentence, maybe i do not know the right man, but so far i mainly come against that in the context of sex making people happy and relaxed and happy and relaxed people being easier and more plesant to deal with.

    As a offensive and sleazy way of saying ‘chill out’ if you will.

    I cannot rule out, of course, that people might mean it as a threat and much less whether you find it threatening but so far i have not witnessed it that way.

  • Alix

    It might be regional, but around here “you need a good dicking” is far more commonly used as a threat. Often accompanied with looming. “He/She just needs to get laid” is the “chill out” version.

    And, honestly, even the milder “you just need to get laid” thing I find deeply offensive.

  • Müntzer

    Offensive is something other threatening.
    I don’t know if this fits, but this seems to like calling everybody who beats his kids a child molester.
    Sure, such people are bad people and something needs to be done, but they are not child molesters.
    Same here:
    Creepy, sure, no manners, definitly.
    Advocating or threatening rape?
    I don’t think so.

  • Alix

    You didn’t read what I wrote. I said that “you need a good dicking,” phrased that way, is absolutely a threat, at least in the region of the world where I currently live. I said the milder phrasing of “you just need to get laid” is offensive; I never said that phrasing is necessarily threatening. In my experience the latter is usually dismissive.

    The two phrases are not semantically equivalent.

  • Müntzer

    Where do you live?

  • EllieMurasaki

    He says, like that’s the relevant part of Alix’s remarks.

  • Müntzer

    It is.
    Is it not?

  • Alix

    Virginia.

  • Müntzer

    Thanks, i shall not pestering you further and avoid Virginia.
    I don’t think i would like it there. :)

  • Alix

    Hey, Virginia’s lovely! Especially if you’re just casually visiting. We have some lovely swamps. :P

  • Müntzer

    Then maybe you can point to some part with little population?! ;)

  • Alix

    LOL. In all seriousness, though, Virginia has some lovely national forests, and there are all sorts of cool little places around the Bay.

  • Müntzer

    Is that Charleston bay?
    Where they shot at one fortress to start the civil war?

  • Alix

    Nope – that’s in South Carolina, two states south. I meant the Chesapeake Bay.

  • Müntzer

    Yeah, Charleston, Virginia and Charleston, South Carolina… well, that would be Norfolk and all the big naval yards then, right?

  • Alix

    There’s a Charleston, West Virginia, but to the best of my knowledge not one in Virginia.

    Norfolk’s at the mouth of the Chesapeake, yeah, and the bay reaches all the way up into Maryland. It’s the biggest estuary in the US, and boasts an awesome bridge. XD

    I love the Bay.

  • Müntzer

    And if learned nothing else, i did learn that there are two virginians and that Chesapeake bay is nice.;)

  • Alix

    Yes, but we’re the real Virginia, whatever those upstarts over the mountains say. ;)

    Just, fair warning, don’t visit in the summer unless you like really hot, really humid weather. :/ That’s the one thing I could happily do without, climate-wise.

  • Müntzer

    Okay, no summer vacation then.

    When it gets past 30 °C here (and we tend towards relativly dry summers though we get the occasional gust from the North Sea 200 kms away) all i do is lying in a corner and waiting for winter… i am more of a winter or spring guy…

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    And for some reason all the books act like the bay is mostly a Virginia thing, which makes perfect sense unless you have seen a map.

    Also, the Gulf of St Lawrence is more than 10 times bigger than the chesapeake bay, but its shoreline is 10 times smaller.

  • Alix

    …I love geography. XD I did not know that, about the Gulf.

  • Winter

    No, that’s Fort Sumter in South Carolina, which is two states further south. I believe Alix is referring to Chesapeake Bay.

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

    Shenandoah Valley remains one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in, and I’ve been all over the country.

    (Albeit I may be biased toward GREEN parts of the country. Grand Canyon… meh. Niagara falls… eh.)

  • Alix

    We used to go camping there every summer. We finally banned Mom from picking the days, because whenever she did it always poured.

    The first time I ever went out there, Dad dragged us out on a surprise trip on a Sunday, all of the rest of us just home from church, still in our Sunday best. He didn’t give us a chance to change. So I ended up going on a casual hike in a frilly dress and dress shoes, in a rainstorm, with colored lightning flashing just over the mountain ridge. It was awesome.

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

    Derail.

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

    I find “You need to chill out” pretty offensive to begin with. It’s a pretty blatant attempt to disenfranchise me of my own emotional response to situations. Which is something men do to women a lot, from telling us to “Smile!” to telling us “I understand your gripe, but don’t you think your anger is all out of proportion to the situation?

    Sexualizing it into “You just need to get laid” is just the awfulsauce rape culture icing on the failfood misogyny cake.

  • Alix

    Word to all this.

    My entire family pulls that shit, and they’re convinced I’m some kind of rage machine, because it never fails to torque me off. I finally had to explain to them that actually, it usually takes a lot to make me truly angry – but telling me how I’m supposed to be feeling is a surefire way to do it.

  • Simongren

    I’m not trying to derail, but you are the first person besides myself I’ve ever seen use ‘torque me off’!

  • Müntzer

    Yes, but again, that is not just something that happens or is directed to women, men get that too.

  • Jurgan

    I’m not sure I made sense earlier. Actually, I’m not entirely sure what I was trying to say. Mainly I was trying to say that no one should be shamed for “weakness,” since we all need help from time to time, but some victims might be afraid to come forward because they’ll be seen as having asked for it. I’m afraid I didn’t explain myself well enough.

  • Müntzer

    Or i misundererstood you.
    Anyways, since we both got to make our points, it hardly matters now, does it :)?

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

    Speaking of books, ordered yours today! Amazon says it should arrive on the 16th. I’ll drop what I’m reading then so I can read it more quickly and give you my thoughts. :p

  • EllieMurasaki

    :-D

  • Alix

    I think I missed this – what’s your book?

  • EllieMurasaki
  • Alix

    Ooh! I’ll have to pick up a copy. Thanks for the link!

  • EllieMurasaki

    :-D

  • Darkrose

    Is there an ebook version somewhere? It sounds really interesting.

  • EllieMurasaki

    There is. It’s not linked from there? It should be linked from there. If not, http://www.amazon.com/A-Dinner-of-Herbs-ebook/dp/B00C1X8DP8/

  • Darkrose

    How odd! The first link gave me the “Tell the publisher you’d like to read this book on Kindle.

    Anyway, it’s downloading to the KF even as we speak, so I’ll have something new to read at lunch. :)

  • EllieMurasaki

    That’s bizarre, because I published it to the Kindle as part of the CreateSpace process.

    :-D

  • Darkrose

    You’re on DW? Why do I have a feeling you’re already on my reading list and I don’t even know it? (Could be because I’d have to go back 1000+ entries to catch up.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    *shrugs* elliemurasaki for main/fannish journal, elizabethconall for original fic and poetry, what’s yours?

  • Darkrose

    darkrose; I’m also darkrose on AO3.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I will make a note of that. (Can’t Dreamwidth at work.)

  • Fusina

    A concept I have a hard time getting my head around.

    Um, Yeah, Someone is already not sexually attracted to men, and rape will magically reverse that? I think the more likely outcome is that they will still not be sexually attracted to men, but will add on a loathing and hatred for same.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Um, Yeah, Someone is already not sexually attracted to men, and rape will magically reverse that? I think the more likely outcome is that they will still not be sexually attracted to men, but will add on a loathing and hatred for same.

    The only way that computes to me is if the people putting forward those arguments are basing them off a faulty appeal to nature and essentialism If they are told that non-heterosexuality is unnatural, or the result of bad parenting, or it is just a rebellious “phase” a person goes through. They may think that giving such a person “perspective” on the issue will help them realize that.

    Of course, forcing themselves on someone is likely to give them an entirely different “lesson” to take away from the experience…

  • Alix

    The people I know who do actually believe that lesbians just haven’t had a good man yet are very gender essentialist. They seem to come in two flavors: those who believe the only reason there are lesbians is that they’ve been assaulted, and so hate men, and thus just need good lovin’; and those who believe lesbians are being willful, or deliberately sinful, who thus need to be forcibly “set straight.” The people who believe the latter are the ones who tend to actually get behind the idea of corrective rape.

    For those not getting the rape-as-punishment thing, think about the comments people make when they wish some particularly heinous individual would end up in prison.

  • mroge

    Actually, and I am surprised no one has brought this up, rape is ALWAYS punishment. Rapists hate women and want to control them, to put them in their place. And of course your example of prison is a perfect example. Most man on man rapes have very little to do with with their sexual orientation. It has EVERYTHING to do with with anger, control and humiliation. I haven’t read all the comments below yet, so if somebody else already said this then I apologize. It just irks me that there seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding in society about what rape really is and what it is not.

  • Alix

    So, okay, I have what is probably a really, really dumb question. (As I mentioned … somewhere in this monster thread, I’m not very up on my theoretical understanding of rape.)

    It seems to me that there are some rapes that are, hm, apathetic*, where the rapists see the victims as objects for gratification, as literally not really people. I guess I can see how that could get glossed as hatred, but hatred seems to me to require, I don’t know, more mental/emotional effort or engagement. So are all rapes really punishments/rooted in hatred?

    I’m thinking of opportunistic date-rapes, mostly, of the “I want it now, and you’re not a person and therefore can’t really say no” variety. And coercion-type rapes, of the “whine until they say yes/set up a situation so they don’t have much choice but to consent” variety. :/ Like I said, this is probably really stupid, and I’m probably either splitting hairs that ought not be split, or working off of some problematic definitions.

    *It should go without saying that this in no way makes those rapes somehow “better” or “less bad”. And sometimes I can’t believe I live in a culture where I have to say that. :/

  • mroge

    I don’t think that that is a dumb question at all. In fact tomorrow I might actually do some research on that. But these are some thoughts off of the top of my head:

    If someone does not consider another person’s rights and doesn’t consider her to be a person I would see that as a form of contempt, which is related to hatred. If you take hatred as meaning rage, no not all rapes are like that I agree. I would have to look up definations to see how all these terms relate to one another to give you a better answer.

    An example like your date-rape scenario could be like this:

    A woman refuses to have sex with the man. The man gets angry because he believes that maybe he was led on or he has contempt for her because he feels like he DESERVES sex since he was so nice to her. Or he justs wants it like you said and is taking advantage of an opportunity. Whatever the case may be he has to find some way of dehumanizing her in order to justify his actions. Usually that involves some sort of anger and resentment against women who turn him down. He believes they don’t have the right to deny him his “due” So he believes she is a “bitch” or a “whore” or whatever. Now it may not be a violent rape, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t hate involved there somewhere.

    I am too tired to go further with this but I will try to do a little more research tomorrow.

  • Alix

    Thank you! That all makes sense.

    I’d certainly agree that there’s contempt and entitlement underlying rape, and I guess I can see how there’s a sort of internalized, generalized hatred as well. I guess I was thinking of hatred as a more active emotion at the forefront of the rapist’s thoughts, not lurking in the background.

  • Anton_Mates

    Yeah, Groth talked about the “gentleman rapist,” who would sweet-talk his victim during the rape and try to be sexually “giving” to her, would flee if she resisted too effectively and would want to stick around for pillow talk afterwards. Some people do that to their partners and act loving and egalitarian the rest of the time. (There’s a very informative and powerful first-hand account of experiences like this at Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings.) This kind of person certainly doesn’t seem to feel conscious contempt for their victim, even if it’s written all over their actions.

  • mroge

    Thank you for that link. I have never been raped, but I have been groped before. I guess that qualifies as sexual assualt but I was always in a position to get help so it wasn’t traumatizing to me. However I do feel for these women who are told that their experiences are not rape. That is horrible.

    I am ashamed to admit when I was much younger I did not believe that if a woman got raped when she was drunk or high that that was rape. I am a woman too, so I should have known better. I was raised in a very religious family who were teetotalers. Although I do not remember them specifically telling me that a drunk or high woman deserved what she got, I got the message that partyers were immoral. One time a woman told me that she woke up from a drunken stuper with several guys having sex with her. I cringe at this, but I actually laughed when she said that! It never entered my mind that that would count as rape.

    At the age of 48 I can’t believe I was so stupid about many things when I was young. I am generally a caring person and yet I blew this woman off. It must have been very difficult for her to even talk about it and I let her down.

    All I can say is that I am glad women are talking about this and dispelling the myths about rape.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Thing is, when you treat someone like they are an inanimate object, even if you treat them like a highly prized inanimate object, you’re still holding their humanity in contempt

  • Anton_Mates

    AFAIK, psychologists have proposed a few different typologies of rapists; A.N. Groth (1979) and Knight and Prentky (1990) have probably been most influential. (Groth’s typology is pretty outdated, though; it’s still based on the idea of the “typical” rapist as an obviously mentally ill person who violently attacks strangers.) There’s a summary of some of these typologies at this DoJ site for sex offender management.

    Generally speaking, it appears that some rapists are motivated by anger (rape to punish), some by power (rape to establish dominance), and some by sexual desire (rape to get access to an otherwise unavailable person, or to fulfill a fantasy they couldn’t otherwise fulfill, or simply to get sex right now even if potential partners are uninterested.) This is complicated by the fact that, for a lot of rapists, hurting or humiliating a victim is itself sexually arousing, and the most violent rapists generally show the highest amounts of anger, the most obsession with elaborate sadistic fantasies and the highest sex drive. (See for instance Raymond Knight’s 1999 paper “Validation of a Typology for Rapists” for more on this.) For these people, sex and power and aggression are fused into a single motivation, so you can’t really say rape for them is “about” one or the other.

    But, as you suggest, there are many opportunistic rapists, and rapists driven by elaborate but non-sadistic sexual fantasies, for whom anger and violence and the victim’s pain aren’t “the point.” They use whatever combination of overt force, verbal coercion, drugs and alcohol will make it easiest to get the sex they want and the power trip they want, with minimal social or legal repercussions. Some of the “I’m just going to show you the value of a good dicking” types are definitely in this category.

  • Alix

    Thank you for all the info! I’m going to have to track those papers down.

  • mroge

    Thank you. I guess a lot of my info is outdated so it is good that you clarified that.

  • Jurgan

    I thought it was more like the Green Eggs and Ham argument: How do you know you won’t like it if you don’t give it a try? I’d be more likely to take that argument in good faith if I thought any of the men making it could be convinced to try sex with a man under the same logic.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I imagine that there is a marked overlap between people who think Lesbians could be “cured” by rape and people who think that the only reason gay men exist is because of sexual abuse by older men.

    Because penises are magic.

    (Though the more faux-sciencey types will come up with all kinds of “proven scientific” reasons for this, complete with weird notions about semen being addictive and penetration triggering hormones that cause permanent neurological changes)

  • Müntzer

    Wait, you are saying semen is not addictive?
    Whats next, telling me the fetus does not need to be fed with semen during the pregnancy?
    Laughable.

    (I really hope everybody realizes the sarcasm.)

  • Alix

    Ross, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who held one of the beliefs you mention in your first paragraph who didn’t also hold the other.

    Consistency: not, apparently, a human strong point.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Last week, Ted Cruze gave a speech for the NRA where he decried the Democrats’ use of the filibuster to kill a bill that had 52 votes as part of the slide into tyranny, then in the exact same speech, less than five minutes later praised the background check-killing filibuster despite the 55 votes and 90% of the US public supporting it as a triumph of democracy.

    So no. Consistency is not a strong point.

    (Also, I believe Glenn Beck may have actually said “The democrats are making appeals to fear and that’s evil” and “Our lack of sane gun control laws is the only thing that keeps your mother from being raped and murdered RIGHT THIS MINUTE” in the same breath)

  • mroge

    Apparently they think if they just SAY IT LOUD ENOUGH, it will make sense…

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

    Rape as punishment is one of the primary motivators behind rape apologetic — the assumption that something women are doing makes them more likely to be raped relies upon the belief that rape is a logical and expected outcome of certain forms of behavior.

    (Second time trying to post this. If my other post shows up, blame Disqus.)

  • stardreamer42

    The rape-as-punishment thing is actually a form of social terrorism. The message is, “Society’s protections can be withdrawn from you at any time, for the slightest of infractions of these multitudinous and often mutually-contradictory rules, and then you will be raped and nobody will care because YOU DESERVED IT.”

  • Müntzer

    Isn’t the chronology usual different?
    Something happens, the community does not want to deal with and THEN reasons are found why a) either the victim deserved it or b) it is better for the victim as well not to make to big a deal out of it.

    That looks to me more like the typical (though misguided) attampts of communities to regulate Bad Things (TM) through not acknowledging them.

  • Alix

    Okay, I’m sorry, I have to ask – are you male?

    The social messages I got as a wee apparent-girl were most definitely along the lines of what stardreamer’s laid out: the world as a scary, scary place populated by some percentage of monstrous men, who I had to be vigilant against at all times. And I heard a lot of stuff about how “sluts” deserved raping, or it wasn’t rape if a woman was slutty, and how the worst thing in the world was to be labeled a slut, because then you were fair game.

    And I think pretty much anyone who survived middle school knows how easily someone can be deemed a slut. For being a “bitch,” for having a boyfriend who said he slept with you, for wearing the wrong clothes, for being “uppity”, etc. For just being lusted after by a guy. For turning a guy down. For not being the right kind of person – right kind of religion, the “right” race, the right socioeconomic status. Etc. Etc.

    There were a lot of messages about how I was supposed to behave. How I was supposed to dress, speak, act. Not all exclusively about sexuality, either. And the message was very much that if I didn’t walk the very narrow line society drew for me properly, I’d “get what was coming to me.”

  • Müntzer

    Sorry, i am from a place where these things function differently.

    Rape is a sign of weakness because obviously the rapist is unable (socially, materialy, etc.) to get sex any other way.

    Sluts are made mainly by other women, but hardly by man (though the mechanisms are not clear to me).

    Here i noticed that the viciousness you describe stays mainly within the girls circle, e.g. the things you describe as being able to brand you a slut are mainly enforced and observed by girls (though not all girls) and are of little interest to the boys (until you get problems with your girlfriend or your girl friends for hanging out with the wrong girl, which is the moment where you have to carefully consider your options).

    Bullying here is very much divided among the gender line:

    Boys bullying boys, girls bullying girls, with sometimes things spilling over the line but only temporarily.

    Also the world as a place of monstrous i mainly know from a) my feminist history teacher and b) an article about why the Taliban enforce the wearing of burqas.

    Which is not to say that there is not a precise table of expected and supported behavior here that you better show or get out, though mainly on pain of social ostracism, but not rape.

    And yes, i am a male German.
    I thought that was clear from the moment i did not scream rape, rape, rape along with everybody else. :)

  • EllieMurasaki

    Germany must be a goddamn fucking PARADISE if rape in Germany is anything BUT a means for the rapist to assert power over the rape victim.

  • Müntzer

    Well, thats another theory i do not share.
    Yes, for the victim rape is definitly about power.
    For the rapist?
    I don’t think it is that easy.

  • EllieMurasaki

    …Do your fucking homework on the subject. I’m done with you till then.

  • Müntzer

    You will done with me forever then.
    I did my homework and rape is not just about Power.
    Yes, i know, heresy, but that is how it goes.

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

    It does not sound to me like Ellie’s pissed off at you for “heresy”. It sounds very much to me like Ellie (and some others) explained why they felt threatened, and you dismissed their experiences out of hand and started mansplaining.

    It’s easy to just not-see the weapons when they are not aimed at you.

  • Müntzer

    I am sorry, i tried to not do that, while still expressing my doubts.
    Seems like i failed.
    I did not want to dismiss, i wanted ..well, i wanted to show another perspective.
    Again, sorry, if that was unwelcome.

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

    Well, you should re-think your approach. Wherever you live, you’ve still got male privilege, and that’s going to colour your perceptions.

    If a bunch of women* in a conversation are offering divergent opinions on a particular point of gender politics, then sure, chiming in with another perspective is fine. If, on the other hand, they’re all trying to say more or less the same thing, shut up and listen to them.

    Asking questions is usually fine. You know you don’t have experience living in a female body, so you want to understand better. You might sometimes get referred to a 101 page by people who are tired of explaining the same things over and over, but there’s probably nothing wrong with the question itself.

    But don’t try to take an authoritative tone when arguing these things, because that is not your place. And if you ever see yourself even getting close to doing the “you must have been misinterpreting your experience, let me explain to you how you’re wrong” thing, STOP.

    *Using this as an umbrella term for “people who are now or grew up in female-type bodies” for convenience.

  • Müntzer

    One question though:
    I am missing something here and i am not sure what:
    Why is so important WHY somebody rapes?
    It is always unforgivable and always a crime, so what does it matter whether a rapist is a sadistic psychopath or the jerk next door with poor self-control and severe blue balls?

  • Alix

    Because, depending on the reason why, it might be possible to reduce rapes.

    If, for example, people rape out of a sense of entitlement, changing the culture/socialization to eliminate or reduce that sense of entitlement would reduce rape rates.

    It’s the same for any crime, really – understanding the reasons why people do it is the first step towards getting them to stop.

  • Müntzer

    So why is it important then (or so it seems to me) that rapes happen out of a desire for power?

    Is there some theory hanging behind that?
    I sit linked somehow to patriarchy?

    I mean i only get the sense whenever i say that i do not believe rape is purely about power that is just commited heresy, but i cannot for the life of me finger out why other than the usual responses a lá Ellie basically telling me shut up until i am willing to concede that fact!?

  • Alix

    Someone else’ll have to answer the main part of that, because my understanding of the causes of rape is somewhat shaky.

    To the best of my understanding, “rape is about power” is a way to reframe rape away from the really problematic view that rape is about sexual attraction. Rape is often seen as a crime of passion, a heat-of-the-moment kind of thing, a lust-driven thing, and that’s all used to let the rapist off the hook.

    But rape isn’t about sexual attraction or lust. It’s a move to violently assert domination and even ownership over the victim. That’s why rape and rape threats tend* to be directed towards people who aren’t “toeing the line” – “uppity” women, for example; people who don’t know their place, people who don’t fit the comfortable little boxes of the mainstream social narrative.

    There’s also another framing for looking at rape, and one that makes a lot more sense to me: as a hate crime.

    *Note: not exclusively, just often.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Essentially correct. Even when rape is a ‘heat of the moment’ thing–for instance, when in the midst of consensual sex one partner says stop and the other keeps going–it’s not about sex, it’s about power. Control. The rapist does not, he thinks, have to surrender any control over the situation, and asking if his partner’s willing before initiating sex counts as surrendering control, as does halting sex when his partner says to. He might do it sometimes–all too often, a rapist’s victim is someone who has had consensual sex with him before and would be willing to again if he only asked, which is how we know blue balls ain’t got a thing to do with it except as an excuse for why the rapist couldn’t help raping. But having to do it all the time suggests that he’s not the one with the power in the situation, which he finds intolerable.

    The rape threatener is generally going after someone who’s breaking the rules of the rape threatener’s neat little kyriarchal world. Who’s threatening the perceived in-power-ness of the rape threatener. And he, like the rapist, thinks he can get away with it because all men are rapists.
    Those last four words? Not a feminist belief. A rapist belief.

  • Müntzer

    I see.
    I still don’t share it though.

    But i have got an interesting new interest now:

    Reaing up on Kyriarchy, though first impression seems to indicate that Schüssler Fiorenza does not believe in writing sentence that are easily comprehensible. ;)

  • Jurgan

    Is it possible that a rapist could not know he is a rapist? Say, he’s raised in an environment where he was taught sex was a binding contract. He was taught that in a committed relationship, consent is implied and does not need to be asked, and a woman who says “no” is just playing hard to get. His actions are still rape, but his mind is pretty screwed up- is it about power or is he just completely ignorant about consent? Isn’t this what people mean when they say “men can stop rape-” that our culture needs to make it abundantly clear what consent is?

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

    That’s still power. It revolves around the belief that he is entitled to, and therefore can take whenever he wants. That’s all about power.

  • Jurgan

    Yes, the power differential is inherent. It’s just that when people say “it’s all about power,” it sounds like the rapist is committing rape solely to prove his dominance. There can be other, complementary motives.

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

    FWIW, I understand “it’s all about power” in this case to mean something like “it depends critically on the power differential, is motivated by the power differential, and would not manifest in the absence of the power differential.”

    I don’t understand it to mean “there are no other, complementary, motives.”

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    That would seem like the logical conclusion from the fact that studies show that whether or not the action in question is clearly named as rape is a HUGE determinant as to the percentage of men who will admit to thinking it’s an okay thing to do.

    Though I’ve heard people interpreting those results to mean exactly the opposite.

    But that doesn’t change it being about power. The whole thing about rape and whether or not people understand it is that a lot of people who do, would, or might rape think that whether or not a particular action is rape is a thing intrinsic to the action itself: certain kinds of sexual activity just “are rape”, and others just “are not rape” — it’s about the action itself.

    But what makes an action rape isn’t what the action is. What makes the action rape is whether or not the permission of the other person matters. That large gray middle section who aren’t alley-dwelling, knife-weilding stalkers looking to hurt women, but who nonetheless commit rape are imagining something like “If you hold someone down and put your penis inside them while they struggle against you, that’s rape; if you speak kindly and are gentle and you paid for dinner, and she’s not screaming or struggling, that’s not rape,” when, in fact, in both cases, whether or not it is rape comes down exclusively to “If the other person doesn’t want this to happen, would this stop happening?” — if the answer is yes, then the former act is just some consentual kink. If it’s no, the latter is rape.

    So if one decides that “no means yes,” then there’s no meaningful way for the other person to communicate an actual “no”, and therefore whether or not they want the act to happen is irrelevant to whether or not the act happens — and that means that when one decides “no means yes”, one has made the decision to rape. When one decides to have sex with someone who’s drunk or drugged, whether or not they want the act to happen is irrelevant to whether or not it is going to happen, so deciding to have sex with a drunk or drugged person is making the decision to rape. If you are confused about whether consent has been given, but you have sex with them anyway, you’ve decided that whether or not they have given consent is irrelevant, so you’ve made the decision to rape. You may get lucky. It may be that no actually did mean yes, that the drunk person actually wants to have sex, that you’ve guessed the level of consent correctly. But you’ve still made the decision that the act is going to happen only because you want it to happen.

    (I don’t believe it is technically possible to have sex without accepting the risk that you might be committing rape. Even if the other person is enthusiastically claiming consent, if, afterward, they feel the consent that they claimed was not legitimate, then you might not be criminally liable, but that doesn’t somehow invalidate their experience of non-consent. A person can be wrong about what acts occurred, but they can not be wrong about their state of consent. Most rape defenses are some variation of “It was not reasonable for me to know consent was absent.” There may be times this is true, but even then, however reasonable a mistake it was, that doesn’t mean that consent was given.)

    That’s something we don’t teach. We try very hard to itemize checklists of things about the acts, but we only have a very simplified understanding of consent as a concept. Because when you make the “Is it rape?” question purely about the acts, you can just erase that pesky victim: did the man perform the sex ritual according to the checklist? Then it’s legit sex and not rape; there’s no need to involve the victim in the determination at all, except maybe as a witness to verify or dispute that the ritual conformed to the checklist.

  • Müntzer

    At the last bit:

    That does not solve the inherent problem of rape trials, does it?

    It is still he said, she said.

    If he said she gave consent and she said she did not => in dubio pro reo, he goes free she goes more traumatized.

    Actually i just read your last two paragraphs again, and i am not sure what you are getting it?
    Illuminate me? :)

  • EllieMurasaki

    Is it possible that a rapist could not know he is a rapist?

    Given the number of college students who admit (in anonymously conducted surveys) to committing rape, provided the word ‘rape’ is not used in the question…

  • mroge

    You bring up an interesting question. i believe an idiotic preacher called Mark Driscoll has been saying that if a wife refuses to perform oral sex on her husband that she is commiting a sin. By most people’s definition that is rape. But in certain Christian circles the man has the right to do whatever he wants wih his wife. Is this just simply a cultural thing, or does it have to do with power? How about both? A patriarchal structure that says that men are the head of the household is a power structure. And I think it is a little disingenous for men in this culture to claim that they don’t know that this is wrong. There is ample evidence of the psychological damage that rape does to women. This is also not supported in the New Testament as the proper way to treat a wife. This is simply an excuse made up by men to justify bad behavior.

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

    When people perpetuate the myth that it’s all about pent-up sexuality, they start looking for what’s causing him to be so sexually frustrated and every woman in the area wearing something that’s NOT shapeless full body sackcloth is suddenly the cause for blame.

    Never mind that statistically, men rape women in such clothing more often than otherwise.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Because however nice it might feel for one’s sense of justice and or vengeance, you have to wait until someone has actually been raped to lynch the rapist. If you know why a rapist rapes, you can break the chain of causality before that happens.

  • Müntzer

    Does it matter though why one is raped?
    I would guess it always the same level of humiliation and despair independent of what motivated the rapist was, no?!

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Saying that rape is about more than power is a lot like saying that sailing is about more than sails: It’s true, but if you don’t put your sails up, those those other things don’t mean much, as the boat ain’t going anywhere.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    People have elaborate defense mechanisms to keep them from realizing that what they’re doing is victim blaming. As long as they don’t actually say the words “It was her own fault”, but instead couch it as “Now obviously it’s not her fault, but when you go out dressed like that, well, she really should have known what would happen,” they can convince themselves that it’s not victim blaming, just some Good Sound Advice Dontcha Know.

  • mhelbert

    Jennifer Crumpton has some pretty good takes on this topic, as well, over at her Patheos blog, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/femmevangelical/

  • Carstonio

    The loss of male virginity still gets the performance failure metaphor.

    Huh? I’ve always seen it framed as a rite of passage or a validation.

    It is not surprising that sexual traffickers and other predatory men are able to harness this toxic purity culture for their evil ends. That’s what it was designed to do.

    Purity culture is what I would expect of a society where marriages are property exchanges between the woman’s father and her new husband – it’s about preserving the daughter’s market value.

  • Jurgan

    “Huh? I’ve always seen it framed as a rite of passage or a validation.”

    Among evangelical Christians? Maybe some, privately, but I’m sure the main view in that culture is that premarital sex is basically negative. It’s just not as negative as for women. But I’m not an evangelical, so I’m just inferring.

  • Carstonio

    I was talking about US society broadly.

  • Jurgan

    Okay, but I’m pretty sure what you quoted was referring to how it’s treated in the evangelical community.

  • Kirala

    Jurgan is dead on. Evangelical Christians look down on premarital sex in general. Unfortunately, many evangelicals ALSO belong to Hyper Masculine Patriarchy culture, in which losing virginity IS a rite of passage to manhood, so they tend to be forgiving of boys who slip up in the face of all these Worldly Pressures. And since both evangelical culture and HMP culture prefer female virginity until marriage, girls are supposed to be stronger than that. Never mind the pressure from both cultures to be kind, accommodating, and compliant when a guy asks or demands something of you as a gal. Or the power differential. Besides, women don’t really want sex as much as men, and have to watch those sexual wiles which make it so men just can’t help themselves – so women really have all the power here, anyway, so why are they complaining?

    This actually is what bothers me about Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” sexuality. (I don’t track her closely enough to have an opinion of her body of work on average.) She’s flaunting her body as a good which her former lover failed to control, so control is passing to another man – “if you like IT, then you should have put a ring on IT,” not “if you wanted me, you should have committed to me”. I enjoy seeing people enjoying sexuality, but I hate it when I see sexuality divorced from personhood.

  • Fusina

    That is interesting, as I saw it as a song saying, “If you wanted me to be committed only to you, you should have been willing to make a commitment to me, too bad for you because I am awesome.” Not control, but monogamy–which is a good thing when it is not forced upon you.

    Arrrgh! Life is complicated to explain.

  • Kirala

    Yeah, the metaphor worked for me till I saw the music video – and then for some reason, the dance made me feel like it was simply a bunch of interchangeable female bodies on the market. Which is a shame, because I like the dance. (Maybe I’d’ve liked it better if they were dancing against someone?)

    And I’m glad it works for you the way it’s supposed to, and maybe it works that way for most people. It just strikes me badly.

  • Fusina

    Uh, I never saw the video…which probably explains that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Albright/100001047690991 Michael Albright

    When it’s cast as a negative (through the lens of avoiding pre-marital sex at all costs), it’s framed as a “stumble.”

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    Huh? I’ve always seen it framed as a rite of passage or a validation.

    Not in the Evangelical subculture, which is what is being discussed in the post Fred was quoting. In Evangelicalism (and the various Evangelical-esque religious groupings, like the Mormons) the mainstream view of sexuality is “always bad outside of marriage, period.” So in the official sense boys get just as much crap for having sex as girls.

    However, boys are generally thought of as being supposed to want sex. I remember that the attitude generally held by the people I hung out with it was regarded as a male quality that boys push boundaries and a female quality that girls tell the boys to stop. Nothing that I recall ever got into that purity/performance failure dichotomy discussed in the quoted post, but the idea is pretty much the same. If sex happens it’s because the boy did what boys do and the girl didn’t do what girls are supposed to do. Therefore the boy failed in an expected way and the girl just plain failed.

    And I do recall hearing things similar to the chewing gum analogy Elizabeth Smart used. Your virginity was supposedly the greatest gift ever (you know, other than that Jesus dying for your sins thing, but one was spoken of in more theoretical terms than the other…). Joshua Harris’s execrable I Kissed Dating Goodbye even went to far as to argue that you should never kiss anyone until your spouse on your wedding day. It started with an story about him imagining his wedding and somehow all the girls he had ever dated were there and that somehow diminished his relationship with his bride because — LOOK OUT OVER THERE! AAAAAH!

    So…yeah. And please don’t get me started on all the prayer group meetings where someone would admit that he had real struggles with masturbation and pornography. That was a whole ‘nother level of messed up.

  • Jurgan

    “If sex happens it’s because the boy did what boys do and the girl didn’t do what girls are supposed to do. Therefore the boy failed in an expected way and the girl just plain failed.”

    Yes, she didn’t do what she was supposed to do. Or, you know, she didn’t try hard enough to stop it. Sure, she said she told him no, but she could have stopped it, so we know that secretly she really wanted it but doesn’t want to admit it because then people will know what a dirty slut she is.

    (Note: I am being darkly sarcastic; I am not attributing that attitude to you, Geds, in any way)

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Or she’d been told so many times that she wasn’t supposed to be a sexual being that she felt a sexual desire and didn’t know what to do with it or how to respond, or whether or not it was the sort of desire she wanted to act on.

    When we teach half of people that “yes” is never an acceptable answer, we’re teaching the other half that “no” doesn’t mean anything because it’s just the one-and-only-answer-you-will-ever-get.

  • Carstonio

    Thanks for the clarification. The attitude you describe soinds like elaborate version of “Boys will be boys.”

  • Bethany

    I went to a wedding once where most of the women the groom had dated were there. Doesn’t seem to have freaked him out, although he did have something of a look of resignation in the ex-GF photo that one ex-GF suggested we should have the photographer take (lined up in chronological order with the bride last and then the groom).

  • Jurgan

    Oddly, I kind of see the male-female discrepancy explained by the inverse of the Platonic myth. This isn’t something I’ve studied in depth, so bear with me, I’m likely to get some of it wrong, but I’ll give it a shot.

    As I understand it, the Platonic idea is that physical form is something weak and fallen, something to be overcome. A common idea in Christianity, though, is that your body is pure and holy, a gift from God. It’s not quite the same idea, but it seems related, because it’s only holy as long as it’s untouched by the “fallen” world. I’ve heard plenty of times that one’s body is a temple and should be treated with respect. That means if you take something into it, it’s “sullied.” Note, though, that a man isn’t taking something in during sex, he’s letting something out, something that would find release eventually anyway (if only during sleep). So a man’s body can be considered essentially the same after sex. A woman, on the other hand, takes something in to her, something which stays inside, so it could be seen as have been tarnished. Of course, it’s all nonsense- barring STD or pregnancy, an individual sex act has no sustained physical effect on either party (regular sex can affect health, but that’s long-term, not a single “slip”).

    There’s also the idea of the hymen rupturing. This is correlated with first-time sex, but it’s not a one-to-one correspondence. However, I can see how it could contribute to the idea that a woman is “damaged” after sex. Basically, there are some physical differences that could explain why sex is treated differently for boys and girls, but none of them are meaningful enough to justify the shame that comes with it.

  • Fusina

    My daughter and I were discussing virginity–and after discussing the purity movement and etc… she thinks that there are some people out there who worship an idol–virginity, represented by a hymen–not quite sure how one would model that…

  • mroge

    Yes I think in the Christian culture, they believe that the hymen was put there by God solely for the purpose of making sure that she would not experiment sexually. Maybe with guys it is a bit different because you couldn’t tell physically whether they were still virgins. However the revered hymen is not unique to humans. Horses have them too and nobody saying that they have to be married first (lol).

  • Fusina

    Sadly, not just the Christian culture.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I remember reading the post that Feministe had about this article.

    I still stand by my thoughts then. My comment both there and on the article was basically this:

    So, in other words…Dear Important Person, Please quit saying things I disagree with. I am right, you are wrong, and it offends me that you dare think differently. Signed, A Very Self-Important Individual.

  • Jurgan

    I’m not sure what you’re saying. Which article are you commenting on? Who is the Important Person, and who is the Self-Important Individual? Is Fred one of them, or Amanda Marcotte, or someone else? I don’t get the antecedent here.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Sorry, you’re right. I wasn’t clear enough on that.

    I meant that as a bit of a summarization of the initial letter to Mrs. Obama. The thing that stuck out to me the most was how the letter writer presented their opinion as red; saying “I dislike Beyonce because of X, so *nobody* should see her as a role model.”

  • Jurgan

    Ah, I see. Thank you.

  • Kaylakaze

    I find it odd that Air Force CoS Mark Welsh’s comments the other day aren’t mentioned here (at least not by name), given that they promote the exact same “damaged goods” mentality throughout the military.

    BTW, petitions to fire the guy can be found here http://signon.org/sign/general-mark-welsh-usaf and here https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/fire-air-force-chief-staff-mark-welch/VZGxqphB

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    Ugh, that whole remark about hook-up culture in middle school. Sorry, if girls in middle school are sexually active, they are typically being exploited, but of course, HE doesn’t see it that way. Those filthy temptresses were asking for it! *vomit*

  • Dumb Typos

    Fred–It is “Dianna” not “Dianne” Anderson.

  • Orclove

    I’m sort of surprised there wasn’t more cannibalism-apology when they determined that Jamestown girl had been eaten.

    I mean, it was obvious to me that she would’ve been left alone if only she hadn’t dressed so savory.

    … Yeah, I’m going to a very *special* hell.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    I was hoping someone a lot more educated than me could answer this, but why is the girl white? I was under the impression there were no European women in Jamestown, am i wrong? Cuz that seems like a pretty big thing for someone to get wrong.

  • Alix

    European women arrived in Jamestown starting in 1608.

  • Jurgan

    “Son of edit: You’re right that the initial batch of colonists were all men, though. But there were a few families that decided to go on the later supply trips, and it eventually dawned on the colonists that if they wanted, y’know, a lasting colony, they kinda needed more women.” Wasn’t that the premise of Watership Down?

  • Myrkin

    It was. :)

    “YOU STUPID BUNNIES!!!”

  • Cathy W

    I just double-checked: the first English women arrived in 1608. The source I was looking at to confirm the dates suggested that the arrival in late 1609 of a shipload of colonists whose supplies had been lost in a storm, including women and children, may have contributed to the famine the following winter, when the cannibalism was said to have happened. So the girl wasn’t necessarily white, but she also wan’t necessarily not white.

    (Edited to make a terrible sentence less terrible.)

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    Yeah, they had the skull, and I know they can determine racial markers for that, so I WAS CONFUZED!

    Thanks everyone!

  • P J Evans

    They can determine a lot from skeletal structure. Also it’s unlikely that there would have been many non-whites in Jamestown.

    (Remember that they were very much unprepared for life on a frontier. They apparently planned for living like an English manor, or a small village, and didn’t have the skills or knowledge they really needed. Add hitting the worst drought in centuries, and also ticking off the locals….)

  • Alix

    Africans didn’t arrive until 1619, and given the tensions with the locals, yeah. Jamestown was pretty much all white at the time in question.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    I assumed that if they were eating people, they started with the natives first, which is why I was amazed it was a white woman.

  • Müntzer

    I doubt they were able to catch a native.
    The way i read that was that they were out of food and on their last leg… hardly a situation where you want to start a skirmish with well-fed and well-rested natives.

  • Alix

    …Never stopped the colonists. My state, folks: founded by the stupidest, luckiest bunch of colonists ever.

  • Alix

    Well, except that starvation cannibalism is usually an opportunistic act. People rarely go out actively hunting for another human to eat, especially if they’re from a culture that deems cannibalism a heinous crime.

    The colonists didn’t think much of the locals, but they did recognize them as human.

  • Müntzer

    Anyway, when i read about that case of cannibalism i assumed that they ate a corpse, not killed somebody to eat.
    Is it clear that they killed that girl?

  • Alix

    From what I’ve read, the butchery was clearly post-mortem (and rather inexpert, at that), so it doesn’t appear, from the remains they have, that she was killed in order to be eaten.

    That said, the bones are in pretty bad shape, so while the going assumption is that she died in the famine, it’s entirely possible she was murdered and the evidence is missing or garbled.

  • Alix

    …I laughed.

    If you’re going to the special hell, so am I.

  • stardreamer42

    The purity culture may be the primary purveyor of the “damaged goods” toxic sludge today, but they didn’t invent it by any means. When my father found out that I was no longer a virgin, I had to listen to most of an entire day of him ranting and screaming and crying about how HIS WHOLE LIFE HAD BEEN WASTED because I was now “damaged goods” — yes, he actually used that phrase. And that was nearly 40 years ago, and my parents were not-especially-observant Methodists. But that was the attitude of the entire culture during the period when they grew up, and they swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. Fortunately, I didn’t.

  • Alix

    My brother, who is … not quite a fundamentalist Christian, but pretty damn close, went on a camping trip with my sister and a bunch of friends. They all were having a good time, people were pairing up in tents, he didn’t care. You can probably see where this is going: he then discovered Sis was one of those people pairing up – he canceled the whole trip right then (he was the driver) and was so distraught driving home that he damn near ran them off the road, twice. Sis and a few of the other people on that trip think he might’ve tried that deliberately.

    He pitched one hell of a melodramatic fit when he finally got home, too – loud weeping, screaming, throwing himself on the stairs and banging the ground – and according to everyone else, he harangued them all constantly on the ride back, too, going on and on about how disgusting they were and how Sis was an ungodly slut.

    Fortunately, he’s mellowed a bit since then.

    What stunned me was how deeply he’d absorbed all this purity-culture bullshit. Our folks didn’t approve of premarital sex, but they were much milder about it than a lot of folks – it got mentioned a few times, and then Mom made sure we had all the info about safe sex anyway, and when my sibs did start having sex, they never brought up the premarital-sex thing again. Mom at least made it clear that she believed that as part of her religion, but that she expected us to make up our own minds about sex, religion, and all other aspects of morality. (Dad just never talked about sex. At all.)

    My brother had picked all this up from his friends. From popular entertainment. From the other adults in our social network. From the church he chose to attend. And he fully absorbed not just the purity-culture shit, but the hypocritical version: it was natural and therefore easily forgivable for him to have sex, but not our sister. And in his mind, he was somehow ruined by proxy because Sis was a “slut”.

    ….looky, I wrote another essay. But some stories need to be told.

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

    Seems likely some of that “women are valuable possessions to be passed from one male to the next” culture rubbed off on him too.

  • LL

    I think the impetus for those who do the trafficking is money. I doubt they themselves could identify any other motive for it. We know people can compartmentalize, and have daughters and wives they treat lovingly while abusing other females. (And some traffickers are themselves females.) I doubt most of them are hardcore, super-religious, “a woman’s body is a sacred vessel” proponents.

    The “purity culture” thing probably comes in more on the law enforcement and government side. Like many people figure “decent” women don’t get raped, these people (cops and government people) claim to believe (though surely most of them know better) that all prostitutes are in it voluntarily, for the money. And if they’re getting protection money from traffickers (as I assume many of them are), all the more reason to stigmatize all “sex workers” and deny there’s a problem. Or if there is a problem, it’s isolated incidents. Win-win. They don’t have to bother to investigate things they don’t consider crimes, and they get some extra income. As long as their daughters/sons are safe, they don’t have to care about anyone else’s. There’s money to be made, the most important religion of all.

  • Alix

    The purity culture is also part of (not nearly all of, but part of) what keeps the victims of trafficking from themselves seeking help or a way out – after all, if you’re worthless now, if you’re a whore/slut in the eyes of your culture, why bother to escape? You’d just be escaping to more of the same.

    (I should note that I in no way believe that, and I am aware sex trafficking is a hell of a lot more complicated than that.)

  • Müntzer

    And there is also the fact that a purity culture which divides women into those available (bad) and those unavailable (good) to men.

    But they also need some of the bad to reduce the sexual pressure on good (for an illustration why see the pregnancy rates in abstinence only states; sex is just a wee bit too tempting for everybody not to do it).

    And that is where prostitutes and trafficking comes in, where you have the bad women you can purchase for an hour, while the good you would need to purchase at a much higher prize, with much more responsibilities (though not necessarily to her) and for life from her father.

    Which makes me wonder if not both of these are forms of human trafficking.