Monday, November 28, 2005

Sometimes I really hate my homeland...
I'm assuming that everyone has heard about the recent British survey that found that 34% of people thought that a woman who is flirtatious and is raped is partially or totally responsible for what happens to her? I'm also guessing that I'm not the only one who's mighty pissed off about this. Why must my countrymen display the emotional and intellectual development of 12 year olds? Why the persistance of the cultural myth that any man who finds himself in the presence of a woman who does not appear to be an 80 year old nun simply cannot be expected to control himself?
It's always puzzled me that more men don't object to this myth. Guys, when you see yourselves portrayed as barely civilized neanderthals ruled by your dicks don't you find that offensive? It would offend the hell out of me.
Also, about the idea that women "send messages" via their choice of clothing...can we please give this idea that burial that it so richly deserves? As someone who used to be part of a subculture which tends towards rather overtly sexy clothing, I can tell you beyond a doubt that my wearing a short skirt and thigh-high boots was NEVER intended as a message saying "I'll fuck anyone, just ask!". Quite the opposite, in fact, it was intended more to say "if you don't belong to the same subculture as I do, don't even bother talking to me, I'm not interested". Indeed, this is not an uncommon thing. To the extent that clothing is intended to communicate with others, what it is often saying is "I identify with subculture X, so if you do too then come talk to me! And if you don't, get lost". The really dumb thing about the "women's choice of clothing sends a message" idea is this - even if it really does send a message, what the hell makes you think that message is aimed at you, random guy on the street? Or that you know how to "read" that message?
Also, it's a sign of how completely fucked-up British (and American) culture is that people are incapable of comprehending the fact that flirtation does not equal an invitation to have sex, right here and right now. The complete inability of the nations of the British diaspora to grasp how the concept of flirting works is a continual dissapointment to me, and as this stupid survey shows it's also a source of danger to women.
So, I know it's been said before, but just for the record I'm going to say it again. If I'm wearing a short skirt, that doesn't give you the right to rape me. If I'm smiling and friendly, that doesn't mean that you can assume that I want to fuck you. If I'm drunk, that also does not mean that I'm looking for sex, and even if I am in fact looking for sex, that does not mean that I'm looking for sex with any guy who happens to wander past. Women do in fact possess the power of speech, and if we want to have sex with you, trust me, we'll let you know. If we don't let you know and you decide to fuck us anyway then guess what? You're a rapist. I'm tired of mincing words about this. Apparently my countrymen need a good slap in the face to acquaint them with reality, and right now I'm in the mood to provide one.
Damn, people are dumb.

Link to an article about the survey in question below.


tuomas said...

Clothing and messages:
There is that line of thought, "if she is dressed like a ho, she has no right to complain when she is treated like one". This requires three things to go wrong (on the man´s part, first two I copied from you):

1)Not knowing about subcultures, or even current common fashions, or refusing to acknowledge them.

2)Thinking the message was for him.

3)Lastly, what does "treating like a ho" really mean? Treating as he would treat a prostitute? Assuming prostitution is legal and he uses prostitutes, would that mean asking for a price politely? More likely "treating like a ho" just means treating like shit.
Being a jerk.

Being a jerk is the main point here: These guys want to treat at least some women badly, and are making excuses (they might even consider themselves "chivalrous" with the sharp divide between saintly women and "sluts" chivalry entails. I can't stand MRAs bitching about chivalry, it has such an easy opt-out:"women who don't behave like ladies should not be treated like ladies"[as decided by the gentleman in question])

tuomas said...

Not to say that MRAs are wrong about everything (of course sexism harms men), and not to say that it's even the subject here.
I just grasped a different tangent after all those tiresome discussions (sometimes with well-meaning people misunderstanding each other completely) about victim-blaming on Alas.

FoolishOwl said...

MRAs occasionally mention real problems, but their explanations of the sources of those problems is absurd. They remind of racists who blame unemployment and low wages, real problems, on non-white immigrants, who aren't the problem at all.

I'm not sure if the survey results would be much different if the survey had been done in the US. (Although I've been puzzled lately in that I've noticed some of the folks I usually trust on the radical Left in Britain seem to be rather sloppy on gender issues.)

Yes, I find the idea that men are uncontrollable sexual monsters offensive. I think many men accept that stereotype because of the way gender roles are defined reciprocally -- rejecting stereotypical masculinity means becoming unattractive to women who insist on stereotypically masculine men to reinforce their sense of femininity. It's a loss I'm willing to accept.

Eleanor said...

It's the lingering myth of woman as the object, the done-to rather than the doer. An object can't discriminate or make a choice about how it's used. In this reading, if she's "up for it" in any circumstance, she must be up for it in all circumstances; she's either "that kind of girl" or she's not - sexual availability a a characteristic of the object, not a choice of the subject. It's a reading that ignores any possibility of agency in decision-making on the woman's part. It's dressed up as a need for women to be "responsible", yet it denies women's ability to be responsible by denying their power to make a decision yes or no. Just one of the abiding contradictions in old-fashioned cultural conceptions of sexuality.

That said, I'm somewhat encouraged that the percentage who held this opinion was as low (relatively speaking) as 34. Think would it would have been twenty years ago, or fifty, or a hundred. We're winning.

Eleanor said...

Sorry ... that's "what it would have been".

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