Smart people saying smart things

Smart people saying smart things April 28, 2013

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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  • 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?”

  • 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).

  • 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.”

  • 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.

  • 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

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Rhubarbarian82

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

  • 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.

  • (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.

  • 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.”

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • stardreamer42

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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”.

  • 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:

  • 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.

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • It’s your business, but… my instinct is, to use Dan Savage’s acronym, DTMFA. Your situation sounds similar to letter #2, here: