MIA: long post in the works

I’ve got a lot of reading and writing to do for a long post coming up, that I will post both here and over at Feminism 101, on Rape Myth Acceptance and negative attitudes towards victims of sexual violence, in particular the view that women’s behaviour – specifically so-called “risky” behaviours – contribute towards sexual violence directed at them – that women are “asking for it” if they are drinking or scantily dressed in public, or that women “provoke” domestic violence. There have been objections made that these attitudes are not really common at all, and that saying that these attitudes are common is a slur against decent blokes who think no such thing (no, actually, if it’s not about you, then it’s not about you – what’s wrong with being a rarity?).

Finding the best way to structure the post is proving harder than I thought it would be, so the post is taking longer than I thought it would. In the meantime, the more references I have the better, so please contribute! Obviously, articles from refereed journals are great, but some more informal references would also be useful, so any articles or news stories about public attitudes, jury/judicial/law-enforcement attitudes, any op-eds that repeat rape myths uncritically and blame victims for their own attacks etc. It would be nice to have a long list of such refs as a sort of appendix.

Categories: violence

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27 replies

  1. “no, actually, if it’s not about you, then it’s not about you”
    It’s not about it being about me. It’s about you saying that its about me. In general, if someone says that something is true of “men”, then they are saying it of me. You might say that are some men that you are saying it about and some not, but that reduces what you are saying to a vacuous “X is true of whomever it is true about”. Why not show a little courage and tell these nice guys “yes, in fact it is about you”; or of it is not, then show a little honesty.
    Whatever “it” might be.

  2. Since when did saying that something is a common attitude imply that common attitudes are universal, held by 100% of men?
    That’s a perverse reading of the word “common”.
    Edited to add: particularly when “common attitudes” are usually held by women as well as by men.
    Edited to add more: The word “men” does not even appear in my post above.

  3. I do hope your review of the literature will take into account the publication bias and gate-keeping issues that inevitably skew the production and publication of research.

    This has certainly been a most interesting debate and I look forward to your future post!

  4. This isn’t very academic but a prime recent example here in NZ has been the gang rape allegations involving the English rugby team where people presenting the tv morning news basically laughed about the idea of it being raped given she had been drinking with the rugby players that night and voluntarily gone back to the hotel with one of them. Cos y’know – once a woman’s consented to a one night stand she’s consented to anything sexual at all as well as her right to revoke consent. I’m sure such sentiments, along with the rumours that she was a lapdancer, she was drinking, and that she had a boyfriend (and therefore a reason to cry rape) will be in abundance in NZ papers and blogs (kiwiblog springs to mind).

  5. There’s the 10-year old girl who asked for it by going to the park “dressed provocatively.”
    Here’s another 10-year old. This one “agreed” to be gang-raped.
    Here are some victims who obviously made up the whole story, since they clearly “made a conscious effort to dress provocatively” near the alleged rapist. Plus they had reputations for “sleeping around.” Sluts always lie.
    I just did a google search for “rape charge dismissed victim dressed provocatively” or “drinking.” There are tons more links, but I have to get ready for work. I can’t wait to read your post.

  6. (These are all links to posts that I wrote because I’m too lazy to go into the posts to get the original links to stories. So I’m not actually trying to blog-whore or say “link to my posts!” but rather say “here are references which I have blogged about”)
    the now-infamous Peter Hitchens piece
    the British victim compensation case
    the russian ruling on sexual harassment fiasco
    a woman who committed suicide after being blamed for her own rape
    an article that based rape apologism in “science”
    the de anza rape case
    a man who got five years in jail for raping and killing a woman because it was an “accident”
    the nick eriksen debacle
    the way that UK judges view rape victims
    disturbing results of a survey on Irish victim-blaming
    the notorious Heather MacDonald op-ed
    on why women’s drinking being to blame for rape is bullshit — towards the end of this post, there’s a link to a great study that I use all the time, showing that rapists are more likely to have been drinking at the time of crime than rape victims.
    guy admitted to sexual assault but got off anyway because he didn’t really mean it or something
    victim-blaming UK anti-rape campaign
    judge calling rape victim “stupid”
    study on how Australian jurors make rulings based on rape myths
    Okay, that might be more links than you were looking for, but I hope it helps 🙂

  7. Oh sorry, one more: the infamous “theft of services” case
    (p.s. I think that your commentluv plugin has been busted for some time. it hasn’t worked for me in forever, anyway. just so you know.)

  8. Cara, thanks for all those links.
    As for commentluv, it seems to work for some people. I was just assuming that others weren’t choosing to tick the box to enable it. I’ll check and see whether it needs updating.

  9. This isn’t an example of victim blaming, but from today’s SMH:
    Sex Attack on 80 Year Old Woman.
    Yet another example of exactly why victim-blaming-checklists do nothing to protect women from actual rape.

  10. 996 Australians were asked in a telephone interview in 2006 if they agreed that “women who are raped often ask for it”.
    Only 6% agreed (see page 68).
    The research was done by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC)and the Social Research Centre (SRC).I hope this is useful. Here is the link: http://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/assets/contentFiles/CAS_Paper1_full_technical_report.pdf.pdf

  11. Just on the ABC news tonight: Disabled woman is
    bashed and robbed at major bus stop at Curtin
    Uni. Spokesperson from Curtin Uni goes on telly
    and does the ‘don’t walk around by yourself, don’t
    go out after dark’ stuff that puts all the
    responisbilty back on the victim. Not ‘Don’t be a w
    wanker and beat up women and steal their stuff.’
    It reminds me of the time back at Murdoch Uni when ther
    there was a series of rapes on campus and they
    did a similar thing. They only stopped short of
    doing the whole ‘don’t dress in clothes that might
    excite your attacker’ bullshit.

  12. Melaleuca, that sort of sly swill is why you are no longer a trusted commentor at LP – waiting until I can be expected to be asleep and then posting a comment that misrepresents the question at hand.
    If you look at some of the other threads on this blog, I’ve had quite a few other bloggy things going on. I also have clients who need my time. The post on rape myths and attitudes will happen when it happens, as I have no further interest in the Thread of Doom at Troppo that precipitated my wish to write a post, but it’s already been pointed out there that “women ask for it” was only one of four descriptive phrases wrt rape attitudes in the sentence in question.

    Women who are raped or who suffer domestic violence are somehow thought of in the popular imagination as a stereotype. According to this, the women are asking for it, dressed inappropriately, provoking it – responsible for it.

    The same study by Taylor & Mouzos (2006) to which you link asked quite a few more questions than just that, because they recognise that there are many more negative attitudes that hold women responsible for sexual violence towards them than just that one phrase. For example, 44% of men and 32% of women agree that “rape results from men not being able to control their need for sex”. So, purely on the logical grounds so prized on that ToD, if the men can’t control themselves, then the men are not responsible for committing a rape, are they? That’s what that attitude really means. As the only other person involved in the rape is a woman (edited to add: in the questions asked), and someone must be responsible for the rape happening, it follows that the woman must be the one responsible for provoking the rapist to lose control.
    Nearly anybody would agree that an attitude held by nearly half of men and by nearly a third of women is “popular”, although to me an attitude held by 6% of the population also qualifies as “popular” considering the standards of the commercial music industry (it takes less than 1% of the US adult population to buy an album to take it to “platinum” status, which is considered very very popular indeed).
    “Popular” does not mean a majority view, let alone a universal one.

  13. By the way, the view that men can’t control themselves sexually is NOT a feminist view. Feminists believe that men are capable of self control.
    I’m amazed that more men aren’t more vocally outraged by the common perception that they have no control where their sexual urges are concerned.

  14. “For example, 44% of men and 32% of women agree that “rape results from men not being able to control their need for sex”. So, purely on the logical grounds so prized on that ToD, if the men can’t control themselves, then the men are not responsible for committing a rape, are they? ”
    Well that’s an interpretation that is dubious, in fact it’s absurd. I can’t see why you would assume folk who gave that response don’t expect men to control their urges.
    If think blog comments at night are “sly swill” may I suggest you say so in your comments policy?

  15. I can’t see why you would assume folk who gave that response don’t expect men to control their urges.

    Right, because “common sense” is historically so consistent.
    People who are “not able to control themselves” are being exculpated from responsibility – they didn’t meant to, something provoked them. What else does it mean?

    If think blog comments at night are “sly swill” may I suggest you say so in your comments policy?

    Not all comments at night, just yours (and comments from others like you). Feel free to go and write a ethnically stereotyped blog post about me now, why don’t you? I’m Anglo-Welsh/Scots-Irish, enjoy.

  16. Evidently melaleuca can’t see that the atmosphere of that thread has become one, if it wasn’t always one, where a lot of women feel very reluctant to comment further. It’s not only because there’s no engagement, and a sneering tone of dismissal from boys who just want to talk about themselves and their hurt feelings and how anyone child support is a conspiracy against men and lesbians sometimes do domestic violence too. Though it is that. It’s also the fact that the majority of the commenters resolutely avoid discussing the actual ostensible topic – women’s experience of sexual violence and the attitudes that both belittle that experience and contribute to its reproduction. But it’s also the fact that a lot – I’d go out on a limb and say probably all – of us commenting there have had our own brushes with unwanted sexual advances, harrassment, scary partners or boyfriends, wacky cab drivers or blokes in bars who don’t understand how a woman could possibly want to have a drink without being instantly assumed to be available to be picked up, and so on. A post which instantly singles out a serious report about attitudes which facilitate horrible life deforming violence to make some glib and flip and uninformed point – and worse, to have a “competition” – is sickening. It goes beyond incredible insensitivity – but there is that at work. If Nicholas Gruen can’t see how very many people will have lost a lot of regard for him, that’s his problem, not ours. But I’d hope that others might do somewhat better in at least trying to understand how the tone and substance of a lot of comments on that thread makes women feel.

  17. There’s a point to be made about the difference between explicitly holding a woman responsible for her rape and holding views which inevitably result in the minimization of rape and the diffusion of responsibility to sources outside of the actual rapist. Tigtog has tried to point this out but I will try to flesh it out further.
    Virtually noone would admit to seeing a woman as responsible for her own rape but many will own up to opinions which effectively cast doubt upon the culpability of a rapist by negating a woman’s testimony of her experience of rape and replacing it with a generic narrative in which false complaints are common, women will often “cry rape” out of shame or malice and men are inherently incapable of acting responsibly when sexually aroused. The net result is the same: a culture in which rape is underreported, and where reported cases rarely go to trial and where trial cases rarely end in guilty verdicts (despite evidence that false complaints of rape are as common as false complaints of other criminal offenses where the the conviction rate is at least double.
    another example

  18. All very good points, Kim.
    I’m still planning to put up a post on attitudes towards rape as a Feminism Friday post (here and FF101), but I’m not rushing it in order to provide cites for the Troppo thread. (This week has other priorities jumping the queue.) In any case it’s a subject that has value on its own without simply being a response to that particular exercise in insensitivity and point-scoring.

  19. Agreed, tigtog. I was thinking of doing a post myself but then I decided I didn’t want to do it just as a response to the train wreck at Troppo.

  20. su, my last comment crossed with yours.
    That’s a very good point, and is perhaps where a major disconnect is occurring. Sure, perhaps only 6% will agree that a woman “asks for” sexual violence through her own behaviour, but the larger proportion of the population that agree with all the other attitudes cumulatively remove responsibility from the rapist and place it whirling nebulously around the victim’s side of the incident. This blame-shifting is there every time someone says “what was she thinking?” or “what did she expect?” or “why didn’t she fight him off?”,
    This is why I simply cannot see that the framing in the report was either erroneous or offensive, except for someone extraordinarily willing to get the wrong end of the stick and wave it triumphantly.

  21. There is also the training girls and women receive to be careful, avoid carparks after dark, learn how to fight off attackers and so forth. The message of this training is that you can take precautions that will reduce your risk of rape. It’s a myth.
    If you still want them, or want them at any point in the future, I can email you a set of scholarly references – titles, abstracts, or PDfs, whatever you want / need.

  22. Thanks, Laura. That would be handy to add in comments when the post goes up, which was going to be today, but I’ve been birthdaying instead!

  23. Happy birthday tigtog! Hope it’s been lovely.

  24. (sorry, didn’t see the dedicated thread!)

  25. No worries, Zoe. Ta anyway.


  1. Rape myths, rape myth acceptance, and community perceptions of victims of sexual violence — Hoyden About Town
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