Good God

Actual Headline: Should women be more responsible?

Actual Subject: Rape.

A study which reveals many sexually assaulted women may have had too much to drink rather than been drugged has sparked a debate over how much the victims themselves are to blame.
Ah, because if you over-indulged, then you get whatever’s coming to you—bloodshot eyes, a hangover, sexual assault, y’know. Once you pass out, babe, your body’s community property. Everyone knows that. So who’s really to blame if someone takes your unconsciousness as tacit consent?

Fucking hell, this shit is infuriating.

I can understand the arguments made that no one—of either sex—is well served by regularly drinking so much that they lose consciousness. Something bad is bound to happen when one makes a habit of trusting to the goodness of humanity. That’s not to suggest that a victim is to blame in any case; the worse part of human nature is not doing something foolish, but exploiting unintentional exposure for our own gain. However, using this study as a basis to call for greater responsibility on the part of women is particularly disingenuous. Note that its basis was whether women who had been sexually assaulted were drugged, as they thought. That doesn’t sound like women who regularly drink so much they lose consciousness, but instead women who—for whatever reason—drank too much one night and were thusly so surprised by their physical response they figured it must have been something more than the alcohol. Maybe they always have three glasses of wine, but that night they hadn’t had dinner, and so it hit them harder. Maybe they’re inexperienced drinkers, who thought three martinis wouldn’t affect them so much differently than three glasses of wine. Whatever. So what is the point of telling them to be more responsible? Their condition was obviously an unintentional aberration in the first place. (And something neither unique to women nor irregular drinkers; even a well-practiced drinker of Scottish descent and the male persuasion I know has been surprised by how quickly he reached his limit before.) But let’s not allow that, nor the notion that the responsibility of any victimization lies with the victimizer, to stop us from redirecting blame upon them.

Tory MP Ann Widdecombe helpfully explains, "You can't always ask 'what can be done?' Is government responsible for people's actions? What needs to be done is people need to grow up and take more responsibility for themselves." But not men doing the raping, of course. "I have been saying for a very long time that drink is putting women in danger and I've also been saying for a very long time women have to take responsibility for themselves." Right. If only women were more responsible, there wouldn’t be so much gosh-dern rape.

At this point, I think it’s worth noting that we’re talking about a very particular kind of rape. It’s not the kind we might typically associate with the word “rapist,” which tends to conjure images of a masked man hiding in a hedge on a deserted street, who overcomes a female passerby and forcibly submits her to his assault. It’s the kind that we don’t like to think about, the kind in which the opportunity presented by a woman who can’t resist, or even say no, becomes irresistible to a man who wears no mask and carries no knife. He is in every other way an average man, who may even have been the focus of this woman’s friendly attention earlier in the evening. He may even feel guilty about what he’s done tomorrow, but it does not stop him tonight—and he does not consider himself a rapist. And what separates him from most men is that he chooses to abdicate his responsibility in not hurting another human being for his own fleeting pleasure.

His responsibility.

Feminist writer Julie Bindel said: "Alcohol has undoubtedly become the new short skirt in the way that people are looking to put the blame and the onus and the responsibility on women rather than men.

"The media doesn't want to look at why men want to have sex with comatose, drunk women, often covered in vomit, often lying in streets, on the floor, without any notion of what's happening to them."
Why indeed. What makes the man who has never raped before, who may even have a girlfriend or wife at home whom he does not mistreat, who appears to his coworkers and friends and family to be the proverbial Nice Guy, look at the unconscious form of an incapacitated woman and decide, unlike most men, that it’s okay to fuck her? What, in his mind, makes her his, to do with what he pleases? We are fooling ourselves if we believe he is an easily identifiable abomination. He is not.

But rather than look at what creates him, we tell women, “You have a responsibility to keep your wits about you at all times to prevent his descent into darkness at your expense.” Seductresses, we all, even in our incapacitation.

And, yes, requiring women to live a different life from men may save some of us from the life-altering experience of being raped, but then what of its other form—the rape accompanied by beating and threats and a weapon at one’s throat? This rapist, too, separates himself from most men by abdicating his responsibility in not hurting another person for his own pleasure, and nothing women can do will stop him—if we stay in our homes, he crawls in our windows. At what point do we say, at long last, rape is not uniquely women’s problem to solve?

(Via Plum Crazy, who notes the irony that the old "That's how men are" canard is "some of the most man-hating BS around…but it's feminists who won't accept that answer who get accused of thinking all men are rapists, not those who spout the ‘That's how men are’ line of thinking.")

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