Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Transcript of my response to TJ's blog entry

Today's rant is aimed at none other than TJ, also known as TheAmazingAtheist.

A few days ago TJ sent out a tweet, linking to a blog entry of his. The first thing you will see on there is this picture:

I'm assuming that picture was taken during the "slutwalk" protest, which originally began in Toronto and soon spread further after Constable Michael Sanguinetti, a Toronto Police officer, suggested that in order not to be victimized, "women should avoid dressing like sluts."

TJ asserts in his first line, that we are discouraged from looking at complicated multi-faceted answers when it comes to rape. This already makes me wonder in which way we are discouraged, because women stand up against some outrageous statements that still occur way too often. In just about every rape trial the sexual history of the victim is examined in order to make her claim to rape less believable. "If she is a slut anyway, how do we know she didn't want to sleep with this man?"

Since TJ later in the article resorts to comparing rape to being robbed, I will quickly resort to the same measure here. Can we assume that someone who regularly donates money to charity or gives a few coins to beggars on the street also is fine with being robbed? No, we can't. Rape is the only crime where the victim's previous behavior has an influence on the judgement of the person who committed the crime.

He continues by stating
"Don’t get me wrong, blaming a girls flirtatious nature or revealing outfit is repugnant and probably inaccurate. However, just declaring, “rape happens cuz rapists is evul!” is nearly as stupid."
Probably? There is no probably about that claim being inaccurate. The worsd should be "MOST DEFINITELY".

And fortunately nobody really makes a claim like this, TJ. As someone who accused me of strawmanning when I asked if I should wear a burka in a sarcastic exaggeration to your claim we should take "precautions" to not get raped later on in your post, I find your accusation rather hypocritical, considering you did it yourself as early as the second paragraph of your post. Nobody makes this particular claim, however, rape happens due to the nature of the rapist, not
the nature of the victim.

While you refer to rates of rape, what constitutes rape and attitudes towards victims being different from society to society, a discussion which I will gladly enter at another time, it has not much to do with the way your blog entry continues. Plenty of studies have by now shown quite well that rape is not just about the sexual act, but about exerting power over the victim without the victim's consent. If sex were all rapists are after, chemical castration, which is applied in some countries, would be a success in stopping repeat offenders, but it has clearly failed.

So while in Sweden you can be declared a rapist for a burst condom during consentual sex, which I personally find highly ridiculous, it is still perfectly legal in some other countries to force your wife to have intercourse, if needed by applying physical violence. We are all aware of that, but I am fairly sure that the Saudi wife who was married off at age 14 feels just as violated when the husband she never knew before forces himself on her as the woman who had a drink too much at a dinner party in NY and is raped by some stranger that abuses her vulnerability.

It appears to me your little discourse into various ways of dealing with rape in various societies is more or less a decoy to take attention away from the issue you really wish to address later on, and that is the accountability.

You claim that while you know the accountability rests on the shoulders of the rapist, this is out of pragmatism rather than honest inquiry into where the blame lies, and that is where you journey off, slowly, into blaming the victim for the crime committed against her or him.

It starts out with the subtle hint
"I’d say victims are nearly entirely ruled out as being anywhere near responsible or “to blame” for what happened to them."
Is that really so? Why then, do police investigations in a rape always dig into the sexual history of the victim? Why is it such a common procedure in court to display the victim as someone who is "sleeping around" and "easy"? When you get mugged on the street and your wallet is stolen from you, are you questioned about the possibility that you actually wanted to give the robber money, because you have a history of helping out others financially? The fact remains that people such as Constable Michael Sanguinetti are not that rare, on the contrary. Rape victims worldwide still have to deal with being partially blamed, whether it is because they were drunk at a party or because they "didn't fight back enough". The latter one often being a reason for dismissal of a legitimate rape case, since no signs of injury can be found that resemble anything worse than rough sex. It appears that rape is the only crime where you are expected to put up a fight even if this means your life may be in more danger. Nobody will put any blame on you if you hand your wallet over to a robber, on the contrary, fighting back is considered stupid.
"But we’re in denial if we think that environmental factors, genetic abnormalities, mental illnesses, societal attitudes, belief systems and particular subcultures don’t have an impact."
And who ever claimed they do not? However, what impact do these factors have on the amount of blame you wish to impose on the victim? Environmental factors occasionally make it easier for a rapist to get away with rape, yes. Genetic abnormalities may play a part in tendencies to becoming a rapist, yes. Mental illnesses, societal attitudes, belief systems and particular subcultures... What influence does the victim of a violent crime have on these factors? Close
to none. I call this paragraph yet another decoy to take away from your final assertion. While you can positively assert from these factors that the rapist is influenced by them and hence may be less aware of his wrongdoings, in the most extreme cases to the point where he will not be able to be blamed at all, either due to severe mental illness or because the form of rape he committed is considered acceptable in his cultural and religious society, none of this is anything the victim has any influence on, unless she severely limits her own freedom and personal rights for the sake of safety, and even then these measures often are futile, as a large amount of rapes actually happens within a close circle of friends and family, people you trust or are subject to regardless of precautions.
"Saying someone didn’t take the proper precautions to prevent getting robbed isn’t going to upset them—someone who was robbed, even though they’re not directly responsible for what happened, are usually able to accept that maybe they didn’t take proper precautions."
It is your proposed but undefined precautions I originally wanted to hear about when I sarcastically asked you whether I should wear a burka, and you have so far failed to elaborate on the precautions you suggest people should take to avoid being raped. We all learn not to accept candy or rides from strangers as children. We are all taught to say "NO" in a loud voice and call for help to put a potential rapist off. A lot of us took self defense classes. But looking at the majority of rape cases, it appears that these precautions are not enough. How do you defend yourself when you are a child or adolescent being molested by a family member? How do you defend yourself when someone puts a knife to your throat? Do you trust your self defense abilities enough to be faster than your rapist's flick of a wrist? Do you suggest we are to be partially blamed for leading social lives, going out to parties and occasionally consuming alcohol, sometimes perhaps a bit too much? I really am curious which precautions you assume rape victims are not taking for you to keep insisting that we SHOULD question whether the victim is to be partially blamed.
"It’s a lot harder for a rape victim to accept that level of responsibility, due to the psychological trauma associated with rape."
You assume it is a lot harder for a rape victim to accept a level of responsibility, and I have to ask: Are you joking? The large majority of rape victims falsely blames themselves after a rape. A large amount of rapes never even gets reported because of this. The victim feels ashamed, guilty, filthy and it often takes extensive therapy to get over the feeling of self blame for something she or he had absolutely no control over. And you dare claim they refuse to accept a level of responsibility? Either you really slacked on your research before posting this blog entry, or you are being completely dishonest. I hope it's the first of the two.
"But at the same time, to act as if victims are totally powerless and there is simply nothing they could have done is usually somewhat factually and intellectually dishonest. And it doesn’t really serve the best interest of women as a whole to adopt the attitude that they’re in no way accountable for their own well-being when it comes to rape."
And again, I have to ask you which precautions you propose. In the majority of cases the victim IS powerless. It is a crime based on exerting power over someone who is defenseless. There is nothing factually and intellectually dishonest about this, unless you know some miracle defense system that will not restrict the freedom of a potential victim. Because personally, I refuse to give up freedom for security, else I may as well wear a burka and lock myself up in my house. And you can call that strawmanning all you want.

Video to this script
TJ's blog entry
TJ's YouTube channel
What is SlutWalk?
Rape Myths
My main YouTube channel

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