The Debate Around Rape

Yeah, you read that right.  And I know what you’re thinking.  What the fuck could be up for debate around rape?  Rape bad.  Duh!

You’d be surprised.  The debate isn’t around whether or not it is bad, a crime and an illustration of a breakdown in humanity.  The debate is between the two camps of how to deal with the issues surrounding the act of sex, the issue of self-defense and what constitutes rape.

I posted a joke on my wall the other day saying it was open season on a group who was described in the title of the article as being “pro rape.”  A guy on my wall immediately jumped down my throat (note, I am not making jokes about things going down my throat because this is a serious subject… but I kind of want to right now because it helps me deal with the serious subject.)

He said the article’s title was misleading and went after me for spreading lies about this group.  What the group actually was was one whose leader said we should make rape legal in private property.  His argument was convoluted but pretty much came down to, this is a solution to stop rape, because it’ll force women to be more careful at parties and such when they’re drinking, and that’ll cut down on the bulk of the rape problem.

Yeahhhhhh, so as you can imagine, this sparked a fight.  It went on without me, because after the first 3 barbs or so I went, *tap tap* I’m out.

But the argument brought up the two camps people tend to fall into.  The people who say we need to teach men not to rape and the people who say we need to teach women how to defend themselves from it.

Both are anti-rape, but they have a different approach to solve the problem.  The issue I saw on my wall was people were arguing their sides without paying much attention to the points of the other.  And then there were some insults because… well, people.  And that’s the problem.

Because both sides are right.

And both are wrong.

The people who say we need to teach men not to rape are talking about a very specific situation.  They are saying the scenario where you have girls and guys at parties, on dates, hanging out as friends and the guy gets pushy.  They are talking about that fuzzy area, especially when alcohol is involved, where it’s not an issue of he said, she said, but an issue of the ability to consent and to be able to tell when someone is consenting or not.

i have a character in my short coming out this weekend (shameless plug 🙂 whose big past trauma was losing her virginity because she was drunk and doesn’t know if she was raped.  She doesn’t know because she consented but then got drunk and the guy was drinking too.  So she doesn’t know if she told him to stop, if she could have, and if he’d have head it anyway.

That’s the part the people from the other camp miss.  They’re saying we need to teach women to defend themselves, to carry weapons, to be mindful of their surroundings.  Because duh, men already know rape is bad and illegal, the ones who do it, do it knowing that and don’t care!

And this is true, for the ones that know their behavior constitutes rape.

See?  The two camps are talking about two completely different situations that constitute the same crime.

The stranger rapist or the guy that gets on a girl at a party and she is clearly saying no?  That situation is easy for people on the outside to deal with and classify as rape.  And those are the ones where we say, carry a weapon and make sure he can never do it again 🙂

And yeah, we need to teach women self defense.  We have weapons for a reason.  I don’t care what size someone attacking me is, as long as I can get to a gun, I can take his ass down.  (We’re not getting into the training issues with getting yourself to the point where you could draw that quickly on a surprise attack.)

But we also need to teach guys where the line is.  The problem with this approach is, it’s subjective.  If the girl is saying no, that’s not subjective.  What if she’s drunk and can’t say yes or no either way.

That’s where the issue is and that’s where so many of these horrible cases come from.  The ones the courts don’t know what to do with.  What if both people are drunk?  Did they rape each other?  What if the girl’s drunk but she’s saying yes?  Is the guy supposed to know that if she’s so out of it she’s slurring that her yes doesn’t count?  Is that even true?  I don’t know.  The courts don’t know where to draw the line.  How are men supposed to know?

So we go back to, teach men not to rape.  It’s not about accusing men, it’s about teaching them that their actions could be interpreted as rape especially when they don’t think of that act as a potential rape.  It’s not about something silly like getting both sides to sign a document of consent.  It’s about getting both sides to see things from the others’ perspective and to take responsibility for themselves.

And this is what is at the heart of the debate.  One side says teach women, which tells the other side that they are putting the onus on women not be victims… even going so far as to blame the women, especially when there’s alcohol involved.  And one side says teach men, which tells the other side that they are naive and a little silly, even going so far as to say all men are potential rapists.

It’s a matter of miscommunication and oversimplification.  Both side are addressing a facet of the problem.  The solution is to use both methods.  One addresses the issue on a societal level, teach men.  One addresses it at the individual level, teach women.

We need both.  A weapon isn’t going to help the girl getting drunk at a party with her friends.  And teaching men not to rape isn’t going to help the girl walking down the street who gets jumped by a thug.

Another issue that came up was the people who say teach women usually also throw in, well, she shouldn’t have been drinking that much.  She should take responsibility for herself and her own protection.

Well yeah, nobody should be drinking that much.  People still do.  It doesn’t mean they deserve or are accountable for being robbed or murdered.  So why would they be held accountable for being raped?

If you want to teach your daughters how to avoid this, yes, you tell them to be very careful who they drink with.  And that’s usually what the people who say she shouldn’t have been drinking that much mean.  They don’t mean the girl is to blame, because it’s still a crime, they mean, I would teach my daughters to be more careful.

And we should.  This goes back to the teach both thing.  You teach the decent men what constitutes rape so they don’t have sex with a drunk girl thinking that it’s fine, and you teach girls to look out for themselves and each other.  You do both.

And of course, you shoot any rapist who is stupid enough to try when it really is one of those clear cut situations 🙂

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