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Male victim-blaming

14 May

I came across this post by James Landrith, Male Rape Survivors and Victim Blaming.

As much as everyone wants their daughters’ to be protected from rape, we also want our sons to be protected. And we want to educate our daughters in a similar way about boundaries, consent and compassion when they are in a sexual situation, or are being told about a sexual position. It goes without saying, as far as I’m concerned, that men can be raped, and they are often raped or sexually assault by women.

The media has portrayed men as these beings, controlled by a penis, who can never say “no” to sex – and there’s the regular mockery; if a man says no to sex with a woman, he’s clearly gay. Much like we have the perspective that all women are “after something” from a man – money, a baby or fame, for example – men come under scrutiny when they say they have been raped too. “What kind of a man must you be if you have been raped by a woman?”

I will raise my daughter to respect that consent works both ways, and that men can be raped too.

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Rape myth: The “perfect victim” theory, and how a “cocktease” or “Lolita” was asking for it

14 May

I did vow to post every day, but I haven’t posted for the last three days! There’s no other reason than having had the busiest weekend I’ve had for a long, long time.

However to make up for the absence of posts over the weekend, to make myself feel better I will make 4 posts today.

This first post, I will link a great blog post by Liberal Conspiracy (a left-of-centre politics blog) which was brought to my attention by the Facebook group NO means NO.

The post is titled “The ‘perfect victim’ theory of rape, and how it’s reported“, which eloquently puts what I was actually planning to write in my blog post on Friday after a discussion with someone about the topic of blame when rape occurs. The press and the media will often reference to what the victim was wearing, or how she was behaving, or how much alcohol she had consumed prior to the attack, often to plant an idea in the reader’s mind about whether or not the victim was innocent, deserved it, or was even asking for it. Of course, we hear stories of “innocent” school girls in their conservative school uniforms being raped by gangs of men and we are shocked and horrified, but when a woman is so silly as to wear something revealing, or to have a few glasses of wine on a night out with her friends and then have the audacity to walk home alone, well, the sympathy of the public isn’t there.

In one disturbing incident, mentioned in the blog:

A recent news report in the Daily Mail blamed a 12-year old girl for being gang raped, reporting the defence statement that claimed she was a ‘Lolita’ who had accepted alcohol from the men who then raped her and her friend, as well as calling her a liar because she led them to believe she was older than she was.

These children were painted as ‘bad’ victims because they were out at night, drinking alcohol, and were ‘dressed provocatively’. Comments on the news stories painted the perpetrators of the rape as the victims of these girls, as they had been ‘led on’ and ‘tricked’ by girls who were dressed ‘sluttily’.

For those who don’t know such as myself, Lolita is a book written by Vladimir Nabokov in the 1950s which was banned – a story of a paedophile who was “both perpetrator and victim” to an obsession with a 12-year-old girl. The message by the protagonist in this story, which is repeated today in the media, is that a man cannot be blamed for his actions if a woman (or girl in this case) acts or behaves in a certain way which makes her desirable. Overlooking the fact that it’s illegal and immoral to have sex with a 12 year old at all because they are, effectively, children, this is still horribly, horribly wrong.

Essentially, if we assume the role of the rapist and tell the story as the Daily Mail did, it would read:

The girl accepted alcohol from me, so I had every right to have sex with her.

The girl was out at night, so I had every right to have sex with her.

The girl was dressed provocatively and we all know that means she wanted me to have sex with her.

The girl told me she was 16, so I had every right to have sex with her.

Obviously the thing I haven’t written there is:

The girl told me she wanted me to have sex with her, so I had every right to have sex with her.

…Because based on every account I have read, the girls didn’t agree or consent to sex, therefore it was uninvited, despite any of their previous actions. And uninvited sex is rape and rape is unforgivable, even if the victim did “lead their attackers on”.

The issue is that so many people in the world today hold a bizarre belief that men cannot be held to account for their actions if they are aroused. If we, as women, dare to intentionally or unintentionally arouse a man, what can we expect? Orgasms are not a basic human need for men – they can survive without them. If a man does become aroused and really craves “release”, masturbation exists at the next convenient occasions. Even if a woman does play an active role in making a man get an erection, it’s not her duty to provide him with an orgasm if she doesn’t want to and we, as humans, need to stop comparing the need to ejaculate as a necessity for a man in the same way as we would consider the need to eat or urinate, thus forgiving men the crime of rape because his victim left him with no choice.

She gave me 8 pints of water to drink, so I needed to pee.

She looked attractive to me, so I needed to have sex with her.

It doesn’t add up. Once people realise that men are capable of having an erection without then having the right to have sex with the nearest woman whether she wants it or not, then we’ll be one step closer to becoming a more victim-friendly culture.

 

I will raise my daughter to know that no-one deserves to be raped.

Sleep sex, sex while asleep… is it rape?

10 May

Again, this post is being written with thoughts which have been prompted by a thread on the Mumsnet forums. A woman said she was woken up in the night by her partner having sex with her, and felt very shocked and “didn’t know what was happening”.

Legally, having sex with someone who is sleeping is rape. Rape is the penetration of a person without their consent, or without good reason to believe consent would be given. A person may assume his or her partner would be willing for sex in the middle of the night, but this does not equate to consent, as consent is regularly withdrawn within relationships. The old-fashioned stereotype of a woman having a headache and saying, “No dear, not tonight.” No two people are always in the mood for sex, even if they’re in a relationship.

We can’t say the consent is implied just because of a pre-existing relationship between the two people involved, as we’re all aware that rape can happen within relationships and marriage.

But there are people in the world who say they enjoy being woken up with a sex act or penetration from their partner. They find it arousing, or erotic. One friend said to me once, “I woke up in the middle of the night and he was touching me. It was such a turn on to think that even though I was sleeping he couldn’t keep his hands off me.” Are these people encouraging the problem? Surely it’s within their rights to have whatever sexual interactions they want within their relationship?

The same could be said about porn. The porn industry is undeniably wrong in many ways, from the problem of vulnerable young women being “used” for sex to make money, to the issue of men being given an impression that is not true of females – that they are sexual beings to be objectified and used as necessary to create an orgasm. However, pornography is enjoyed by many, from young to old, male or female, in some cases to enhance a sexual relationship in a couple, and in others to assist with sexual discovery or, of course, self-pleasuring. Should each individual viewer of porn be penalised for being “part of the problem”? Or are they entitled to use a legally acceptable service in the privacy of their own homes if they enjoy it and feel their lives are in some way enhanced by it?

We have to accept that sex between two consenting adults is acceptable and that, if consent has been given or is definitely implied, that one of them may initiate the encounter whilst the other is asleep. However, to tackle the problem of whether or not an individual encounter is rape, we have to ask the following question:

Did you give the person reason to believe you would consent to having sex while you were asleep?

Even if you have had sex with the person before, or are in a relationship with them (be it a happy or unhappy relationship), that is not reason alone for a person to believe consent is implied. The only way you would have given someone the impression that you consented to sex being initiated while you slept would be if you explicitly told them so.

“I want you to wake me up with sex tonight/in the morning” would be consent.

Perhaps it’s not the most “obvious” kind of rape as it is not regularly mentioned in the media, and it doesn’t include any of the “clichés” regularly featured when rape or sexual assault is depicted on television or in the movies. Nontheless, it is rape – realistically, morally and legally. I would go so far as to say it is probably one of the most common types of rape and also the least documented and convicted rapes as, often, the person who was asleep when it occurred isn’t even aware that they were raped, or doesn’t feel people would agree that it was rape even if they’re aware of it themselves.

To sum things up:

Having sex with a sleeping person is definitely rape, unless they have explicitly given their full consent for that individual encounter.

 

I will raise my daughter to know that if someone has sex with another person while they are asleep, it is rape.