Rape myths, rape myth acceptance, and community perceptions of victims of sexual violence

I started writing this post last August, and found it all too aggravating, so it’s been sitting in the draft folder since then. This week’s publication by the UK Home Office of a survey on public attitudes towards violence against women has made it topical again.

These figures appear to actually show the situation is worse than we thought from that pivotal 2005 poll by Amnesty. For example, Amnesty found about 1/3 of people think women who’ve been flirting are responsible if they get raped, whereas the Home Office poll puts the figure at a shocking 43%. About 50% believe that women in prostitution bear some or all of the responsibility if they’re raped.

Elsewhere, grave doubt was expressed that attitudes of holding women responsible for sexual violence directed towards them was in fact a popular community view, to the extent that a position paper from an academic conference was mercilessly mocked for this sentence:

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.

Like quite a few other people, my response to this mockery and argument that no way is this a common attitude towards domestic and sexual violence was largely you have got to be kidding – but apparently not. I offered to produce cites, and began to do so, and then the original thread went pear-shaped and I was so sickened that I didn’t complete it.

There was eventually some retreat on that thread from the mockers/deniers to claiming that no-one actually says in so many words that a woman is responsible for being raped or bashed, but they made no acknowledgement or analysis of the implications of common remarks about rape victims such as “look at what she was wearing” or “she shouldn’t have been drinking like that” or “what did she expect when she went to a footballer’s room?” (I dunno, maybe to just have sex with that one footballer, instead of being surprised by a queue of his very large mates blocking the exit from the room?). One doesn’t have to state an attitude directly for that attitude to be clearly implied by/inferred from the other things one says.

Another weird aspect of that particular discussion was an immediate assumption that the phrase “in the popular imagination” somehow only applied to a male view of sexual violence, and that it implied a universal male view at that. Let’s make two things very clear:

  1. Nothing in the original report to which such objections were made implied that victim-blaming was only popular amongst men. Many, many women also hold views that other women who are victims of sexual violence contribute to their own victimisation by behaving recklessly or unwisely (this seems to be almost a totemic belief system – if women can believe that it is only those women who do “the wrong things” are victimised, then they feel safer so long as they themselves don’t do “the wrong things”).
  2. Popular does not mean universal. Two very popular musical artists are Michael Jackson and Britney Spears, yet I have never owned a recording by either of them. No one recording artist has ever had an absolute majority of the record-buying public buy one of their recordings, and yet enough people do buy recordings of certain artists that those artists are described as popular – it requires 1,000,000 “sales” in the USA to be awarded a “platinum album” by the RIAA, which means purchases by far fewer than 1% of the adult population. I’m sure the perspicacious reader can come up with many similar examples from other fields of human taste and opinion.

So, let’s lay that whole misrepresentation to rest, shall we? “Popular” simply refers to a noticeable proportion of the population. The original report was in no way a slam against men as a whole when anyone who has done any study in this area knows that when it comes to jury trials it is both men and women who are critical of a victim’s behaviour, and the report was aimed at a readership that could be expected to already know that (especially in light of this recent Australian Institute of Criminology report, which found that pre-existing attitudes towards rape victims are the strongest determinant in jurors’ assessment of witness credibility).

In the AIC 2007 report, jurors who were politically conservative men with lower-level educations are more likely to believe that the defendants are not guilty of rape than those jurors with higher educations, but despite many other jurors finding the witness credible uncertainties about what actually constituted consent and ensuing reasonable doubt meant that 75% of the jurors felt that the appropriate response was a not-guilty verdict. The study also showed that if victims, following a sexual assault, do not behave in ways that the jurors imagine rape victims should behave, then they tend to find them less credible regarding the issue of consent (and that their general beliefs about how “real” rape victims behave were highly stereotypical).

I certainly find attitudes that are popular enough to result in a not-guilty decision from 75% of the jury pool to be popular enough to be concerned about. Summarising such attitudes about sexual violence against women as “asking for it, dressing inappropriately, provoking it – responsible for it” does not seem like too far a stretch to me.

A separate community survey in Victoria (Taylor & Mouzos, 2006)showed the following (as summarised by the AIC 2007 report):

  • one in 10 respondents believed that women are more likely to be raped by strangers and another one in 10 couldn’t say
  • about one quarter disagreed that false claims of rape are rare and one in 10 couldn’t say (if a juror starts with the assumption that women often lie about rape, this will influence the way s/he interprets testimony)
  • fifteen percent agreed that women often say ‘no’ when they mean ‘yes’ and one in 10 couldn’t say (testimony that the complainant said ‘no’ is unlikely to convince jurors with this belief that she did not consent)
  • seven percent of males and four percent of females agreed that women who are raped often ask for it
  • forty-four percent of males and 32 percent of females believed that rape results from men not being able to control their need for sex (responsibility for rape is therefore removed from men because it is not within their control)

A similar study in Ireland had broadly similar figures (although they asked some different questions, including sexual history/revealing clothes) and found that

Dramatic differences in empathy towards victims based on age and social class are revealed. Gender, however, had little impact.
[…]
The results of the poll support the results of the ground-breaking Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland (SAVI) report in 2002, which found 15% of the population believed a raped woman was not an innocent victim.

Let’s examine the shockingly high numbers of both men and women who agree that “rape results from men not being able to control their need for sex” and what that indicates. Other studies show juries are unsympathetic to victims who have consumed large amounts of alcohol and that there is a wide assumption that it is reasonable to assume that silence equals consent, even when the victim is too intoxicated to speak. Combine the attitudes that men cannot control their sexual urges and that women say no when they mean yes and that silence equals consent, and you essentially have a large proportion of the population holding the attitude, rarely openly expressed, that men should not be expected to resist any temptation to have sexual contact with unconscious women in their vicinity (and that women should not expect to be safe if drunk in the company of men, therefore if women are drunk in the company of men and non-consensual sex takes place, they have contributed to their own assault by offering the opportunity to men who cannot resist).

This attitude towards alcohol consumption also presents women who are out drinking as unquestionably signalling sexual availability of a general definitely-tonight-with-anyone nature rather than just of a potential maybe-sometime-with-someone nature, and that men cannot be expected to tell the difference themselves or to respect those boundaries if they are expressed, no matter how directly and clearly. This attitude that silence is assumed to mean consent means that a defence lawyer can bully a woman who was too drunk to remember into agreeing that she can’t be absolutely sure that she said no, and that a judge can then instruct the jury that the fully sober security guard who “took advantage” of her while so drunk that her friends had asked him to escort her to her room should thus be given the benefit of the doubt (Ryairi Dougal was found not guilty).

This view of men as unable to resist an opportunity to rape is a popular community attitude, it is NOT a feminist view of men. Feminists argue that men should be expected to be able to refrain from raping a vulnerable woman, and that is is unreasonable to exculpate men on the basis that they have no control over their sexual urges. Men are right to feel insulted by the belief that they cannot resist sexual temptation, but it is wrong to blame feminists for this belief. This widespread belief goes back centuries and even millennia before feminism, and is reinforced every time someone expresses the view that “men can’t help themselves” with regard to sexual continency. (Catch 22: when women actually do act on the assumption that any man cannot resist the sexual temptation of a woman too vulnerable or incapacitated to resist, they are described as paranoid despite having heard this message throughout their lives.)

So, below are more samples of academic articles, news reports and opinion columns which show that the idea that women are responsible for their own rapes – that they ask for or provoke sexual violence by dressing inappropriately or engaging in unsafe behaviours (including behaviours at home with their partners) – is very commonly held indeed.

Anyway, on with the cites:

Rape Myths

By far the most common rape myth is that the primary danger is from a stranger in the bushes. Yet the fact is, that in study after study (of rapes both reported to the police and community surveys of rapes that were not) that most raped women report knowing their accused rapists socially. In Australia in 2003 78% of female victims knew their attackers and 65% of sexual assaults took place in private dwellings rather than public places . Yet there is still a perception that only stranger rape is “real” rape, that other incidents of sexual coercion are more likely to be viewed as misunderstandings within a relationship rather than being understood as a deliberate decision to employ or threaten force in order to gain sexual intercourse with a nonconsenting victim.

The second most common myth is that most acquaintance-rape attacks occur on women who have been drinking alchol, who have gone with their attacker willingly while intoxicated and later been coerced into sexual activity. Yet official UK Home Office figures show that “there was some evidence of alcoholic consumption by the victim prior to the offence (although not necessarily intoxication) in 31 per cent of cases”, which while significant(popular?) is not a majority. Other research indicates that in most cases both people are drinking, and in cases where only one of the people has been drinking, it is more likely to be the man who is intoxicated.

Negative attitudes generally

Australia

The results demonstrated that a significant proportion of students held unfavorable attitudes toward rape victims, perceived the victims as being responsible for the rape, and perceived the victims as contributing to their assault.
[link]Perceptions of Rape and Sexual Assault Among Australian Adolescents and Young Adults
XENOS and SMITH J Interpers Violence.2001; 16: 1103-1119

Studies have shown that a disturbingly high level of teenage boys condone sexual violence, reinforcing the need for sexual violence prevention education in secondary schools (Bateman 1991).

From Laura Russo,2000 Date Rape: A Hidden Crime, Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice, No.157
(ref cited within that article: Bateman, P. 1991, “The Context of Date Rape”, in B. Levy (ed.), Dating Violence: Younger Women in Danger, Seal Press, Seattle)

From other countries:

In Hungary (from an Amnesty International Report referenced in an Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault newsletter):

Significant proportions of people surveyed in a public opinion poll believed that women were responsible for being raped (40% of men and 25% of women), and over 15% thought that domestic violence was an exaggerated social issue.

The same newsletter contains this quote:

At least 85% of them are whores: but they do not manage to come to an agreement. They are prostitutes: overtly or secretly … (A police officer and expert on rape issues in Cries Unheard)

Police attitudes towards sexual assault in New Zealand(Jordan, 2005): this report shows continuing beliefs that women routinely lie about rape and that accusations of non-stranger rape are simply sexual misunderstandings rather than genuine sexual attacks.

Perceptions of consent, rape myth acceptance and whether a coerced sexual act was perceived as a sexual assault

Many studies have shown that often sexual acts which meet the legal definition or rape/sexual assault may not be labelled as such by either the victims or the perpetrators, if they have an acquaintance relationship. This non-labelling is often claimed as evidence that no rape took place despite meeting the legal definition of such, and appears to reveal an attitude that women have more control in instances of acquaintance rape compared to stranger rape.

Was it rape? The function of women’s Rape Myth acceptance and definitions of sex in labeling their own experiences
PETERSON Zoë D., MUEHLENHARD Charlene L., Department of Psychology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas
Sex roles, 2004, vol. 51, no3-4, pp. 129-144

Abstract: In a phenomenon called unacknowledged rape, many rape victims do not label their experience rape. Does their level of rape myth acceptance influence this labeling process? In this study, 86 college women whose experience met the legal definition of rape described their experience, indicated how they labeled it, and completed the Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance Scale. Logistic regressions indicated that, for 2 rape myths (e.g., if women don’t fight back, it’s not rape), women who accepted the myth and whose experience corresponded to the myth (e.g., they did not fight back) were less likely than other women to acknowledge their experience as rape. Women were also unlikely to acknowledge rape when they did not label the nonconsensual sexual behavior sex.


Gender role and attitudes toward rape in male and female college students

Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, July, 1993 by Lynda A. Szymanski, Ann Sloan Devlin, Joan C. Chrisler, Stuart A. Vyse

Kanin (1967) found that 26% of the male undergraduates surveyed admitted that they had acted sexually aggressively on a date, which involved making a forceful attempt at intercourse causing their date to cry, scream, fight, or plead.
[…]
One in 12 men surveyed in this study admitted to acting in ways that satisfied the legal definition of rape or attempted rape, with 84% of these men believing that what they had done was “definitely not rape.”

Perceptions that sexually successful men can’t be rapists because “they don’t need to rape, women are throwing themselves at them”

This is a very, very common response any time an elite athlete or high status man is accused of rape, revealing a judgement that rape is purely a function of lust, and that a man who has regular sexual liaisons could therefore have no “need” to rape in order to have his sexual needs met. It totally denies that rapists can and do decide to use sexual assault as an expression of power, that subjugating and humiliating a woman who said no to sex is a big part, perhaps the major part, of the thrill.

Kanin found that this view of rapists as acting from sexual “need” (i.e. an extended period without sexual intercourse) was certainly not the case in his study of 71 self-disclosed dape rapists (according to the legal criterion “sexual penetration accomplished on a nonconsenting woman by employing or threatening force”).

The subjects were self-selecting college undergraduates responding to advertisements promising anonymity and counselling. All of the incidents of self-disclosed date rape were with women who they had been dating for at least several previous dates. All of these men had a generally high rate of sexual success and therefore a high rate of expecting continued sexual success. Frustration of their expected success prompted the employing/threatening of force in order to gain sexual penetration.

Kanin et al used a control group initially consisting of 227 men (white, unmarried, undergraduate students from 15 different classes) to complete the same surveys regarding sexual behaviour as their 71 subjects, aiming to compare heterosexual non-rapists with heterosexual rapists. When collating the survey they excluded men who disclosed as homosexual, and they also exluded another 36 men for disclosing that they had either attempted or succeeded in gaining coitus throught the use of force or threats.

Social Psychology and Human Sexuality: Essential Readings
By Roy F. Baumeister, Published by Psychology Press, 2001, ISBN 1841690198, 9781841690193
Chapter 11, Author Eugene Kanin pp. 236-237

Opinion columns in mass circulation newspapers

Here’s just a sampling of op-eds that have been commented on by one particular feminist blogger. It is a representative but far from comprehensive sampling of attitudes that are both common and popular.

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



Categories: gender & feminism, health, language, relationships, violence

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

30 replies

  1. Thanks for bringing this up, let me just say that I’ve realised that one of the more aggressive commenters on that thread of mine is really not well and I didn’t realise that at first, as some of his posts on other blogs are relatively sane. But he’s in moderation now.
    I came across an interesting post on the CT blog a couple of months later, meant to post on it but lost interest. The premise is basically this. The rape study that you’re talking about was roundly denounced by the unreconstructed commenters because: a. It was qualitative, and the people frequenting / writing on that blog tend to favour quants. Fair enough, up to a point, but b. They reckoned because they interviewed actual victims, the whole thing was hopelessly biased, propaganda, even. One of the more intelligent male commenters remarked that after all, it was a survey interviewing victims of violence, but he was shouted down. This is just the relatively sane component of the discussion.
    Fast forward to the other day when the same blog published a post about a Harper’s article on a compilation of interviews with a Guantanamo Bay prison guard. If Nick had had the same motivation to mock and deride as he did the NSW rape study, he would have had ample opportunity. Instead of a cheesy poem, we have a cheesy tabloid headline (Former Gitmo Guard Tells All, rendered in all caps in the blog post). The original piece was entirely qualitative, that is, based on someone’s testimony. Also, it was the testimony of one person. While the rape study was graduate work, the Gitmo story was compiled by law students.
    Is there anything wrong with any of that? No – this isn’t about spc Brandon Neely and his veracity or lack of – and other things I’ve read and seen about Guantanamo make this account ring true. But there’s no reason to believe his account is any more or less biased than the victims of domestic violence. What interests me is the way in which the studies, both based on stories gathered from relatively powerless people, were received by both poster and comments. There was no mention of the inferiority of qualitative research. The man’s testimony was taken, end of story. The silverbacks were quiet and respectful.
    One of these things is somewhat* like the others. Why was one instantly believed and the other instantly derided?
    *For the benefit of the excitably reading -challenged, this does not mean “exactly”.

  2. Thank you for putting this together tigtog.
    “Studies have shown that a disturbingly high level of teenage boys condone sexual violence, reinforcing the need for sexual violence prevention education in secondary schools ”
    Boys are growing up now, dating now. The government needs to act on this.

  3. Thanks for this, Tigtog.
    Another really insidious (is there any other kind?) rape myth is that guys who rape are unable to come across as “nice” — I think this feeds into the “stranger in the bushes” myth, as most people simply don’t want to believe that a man could be a rapist if he is also someone with whom they are able to laugh, for whom they might have felt sympathy or empathy at different times, who may have, at some points in his life, displayed behaviours that are generally valorised by our culture.

  4. This makes me so damn sad, and so damn angry.

  5. Very useful and comprehensive, thank you.
    One thing I wish we would see in the press is acknowledgement of the implications of the parallel growth of blame culture and raunch culture. That is, there is some MSM coverage of the way young women are under massive pressure to present themselves to the world as sexual commodities, but I have never seen it mentioned that this very phenomenon sets them up to be blamed if someone rapes them. You have to be sexy or you’re worthless! Of course you were raped, you were being sexy! Just once I would like to see it recognised what a staggering victory this is for the rapists in our society.

  6. Thanks, Tigtog.
    There was a long thread at Kiwipolitico a month or two ago, when Anita (feminist) made what was to me an entirely unremarkable statement, that we all know rapists. She went further, saying that friends don’t let friends rape. The howls of disbelief and affronted male posturing were unbelievable.
    This is a great resource, thank you, Tigtog. What worries me, terribly, is that in a few years, my beautiful daughters will be taking their first steps into exploring their sexuality with another person.

  7. Fantastic post tigtog! I get the sense you have to smother this particular fire with study after study after study to go anywhere close to putting it out. Nice persistence.

  8. @ Deborah:
    Deborah, I just caught up with that post. The howls of disbelief are indeed astonishing.
    I worry about my kids too.

  9. @ orlando:

    the implications of the parallel growth of blame culture and raunch culture … You have to be sexy or you’re worthless! Of course you were raped, you were being sexy!

    Very good point. Catch-22, isn’t it?

  10. @ Helen:
    Helen, I hadn’t caught the lack of consistency regarding qualitative research over on CT – I don’t read it much these days.

  11. Outstanding article. Thanks for all your hard work. You’ve said with eloquence something I was fumbling with the other day. I will definitely be sending quite a few people this way.

  12. Damn, this is a good post. Thankyou. Next time I get cranky about this I’m going to send people the way of this entry. Thankyou, thankyou.

  13. I’m not sure if this study has been posted, but if not it’s a good one to refer to as far as the obstacles victims face when they report rape to police.
    http://72.14.235.132/search?q=cache:6w4gau0c6KwJ:www.police.vic.gov.au/retrievemedia.asp%3FMedia_ID%3D19462+2000-2003&cd=6&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=au

  14. @ Marie:
    Thank you for the link. The more the merrier – if anyone’s got good links that are relevant to rape myths and community attitudes towards sexual violence victims then please do post them.

  15. I know it’s been said before, but thanks for the amount of work you put in to produce something this comprehensive! I too shall be pointing people this way.

  16. From Marie’s link above, in the summary of findings:

    Police did not proceed with more than 60 per cent of investigations.
    15.1 per cent of rape complaints were withdrawn.
    46.4 per cent of rape complaints resulted in No Further Police Action.
    21.3 per cent of rape complaints were ‘still ongoing’ or could not be determined on the basis
    of the information in the case records.
    • Only 2.1 per cent of reports were designated by police as false.
    The belief that false allegations of rape are rife, is therefore challenged by the evidence.

    Why do we always get heaps of comments about false reports of rape whenever the topic is brought up in a non-feminist space?
    My slightly unwell commenter, before I sent him to the moderation bin, sent me a daily link to a blogger who publishes a link a day about “false rape allegations”. The wonderful premise, you see, is that false rape allegations are so common you can garner an example a day – proof positive! In fact, what the blogger was doing was finding an example a day, worldwide, of rape cases where the rapist was unable to be convicted – a very different thing.

  17. I find that the False Rape Allegation Alarmists routinely fail to make that distinction, Helen. Yet they don’t seem to have a problem still believing that a burglary took place even if the prime suspect is not convicted due to various deficits in evidence beyond reasonable doubt.
    One of the Femmostroppo links today notes a similar attitude from about those who want an ‘objective definition” of rape, where what they define as “objective” is limited to mechanical actions without any examination of intent of either party. i.e. if penis in vagina between boyfriend and girlfriend is OK normally, then their “objective” view is that “logically” this means that penis in vagina between boyfriend and girlfriend can never be rape. Yet how do they propose to have an ‘objective definition’ of theft then? By their own logic, if it’s OK to walk out of a house with someone’s property when they’ve lent it to you or you’re helping them move, then that means they can never stop you from walking out of their house with their property ever after, even if you don’t want them to. Somehow I don’t see them going for that particular “objective definition” of that particular crime without reference to intent and consent, do you?

  18. Marcella’s got another post up today about a case that doesn’t prove what the FRAAs think it does either.

  19. What I’d like to see is some information on how many men ever actually have sexual assault charges brought against them. Studies show that anywhere between 1 in 6 and 1 in 4 women in Western countries experience sexual assault over the course of their lifetime. Are there any statistics on what percentage of men are ever reported to the police for sexual assault, over the course of a lifetime?
    Because it strikes me that even if there was any truth to the ridiculous claim bandied about by MRAs that 40% of sexual assault accusations made to the police are false, the number of men facing false accusations would still be a lot less than the number of women who actually have been raped — and this would be true even if 1 in 6 or 1 in 4 men could expect to face sexual assault allegations in their lifetime. Even going by the faulty logic of those who claim that false accusations are rife, rape is still a bigger, more pervasive problem.
    I’d also like to know why, if false allegations are so pervsaive, men aren’t constantly being told not to drink, not to spend time alone with women or go up to their hotel rooms, not to put themselves in situations that would give women a chance to make a false accusation. I mean, isn’t that what our society generally does when we want to blame someone for something that isn’t their fault?

  20. Beppie, it strikes me that another phenomenon skewing rape statistics is that there are far more serial rapists than there are serial victims. One rapist can attack tens and even hundreds of women, and most rapists repeat the behaviour because they keep on getting away with it.

    This is why the 1 in 4/1 in 6 figures of women who have been attacked is NOT (and never has been) an accusation that 1 in 4/1 in 6 men are rapists.

  21. Oh yes, absolutely.
    I was just pointing out that, even following screwed-up MRA “logic”, there would still be no way that the number of men falsely accused would be anything close to the number of women who are actually raped. I was using the 1 in 4/1 in 6 figures because I wanted to compare the liklihood of any rape accusation at all against men to the liklihood of rape for women. I in no way meant to imply that 1 in 4 or 1 in 6 men are actually rapists.

  22. I know you didn’t, Beppie – just clarifying for the lurkers, of whom there are plenty on this thread.

  23. There was a long thread at Kiwipolitico a month or two ago, when Anita (feminist) made what was to me an entirely unremarkable statement, that we all know rapists.

    It’s a statement that seems unremarkable if you’re used to the issues at hand, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s a very, very difficult statement for a lot of people to process.
    Rape is a very emotive term. It’s pretty much the first thing that anybody reaches for when they’re looking for an example of an absolutely unforgivable act. This is a broadly positive thing. It is also a broadly positive thing that date rape is increasingly widely accepted as a “real” crime. However, the more seriously we take the idea of rape in general the less willing many people (particularly men) are to label things rape in specific.
    For a man who generally considers himself to be sympathetic to feminist issues, the idea that there are guys out there who rape women is a comfortable one. It’s always nice to think that there are bad people out there who aren’t you. The idea that things you or your friends have done may actually be rape is as scary as hell. Genuinely accepting that rape really is the way the statistics say it is involves looking at yourself and saying “I might actually be a rapist or attempted rapist” and that’s territory most people just don’t want to go into.
    The hurdle a lot of people can’t get over is always going to be the point where you look at somebody who is accused of rape and realise that you, yourself, might have done the same thing in that situation. At that point the temptation to say “well actually I can see that it wasn’t really rape in that situation” is overwhelming, because the alternative is horrible. So we wind up with a situation where everybody condemns rapists in general, but makes excuses for them in every specific case.
    Or something. Sorry, that’s probably all really obvious to you guys.

  24. Dan, that’s exactly what happened in the Thread of Doom I linked to in my linked post above. The writer huffed: “So there you go – rape really is on the end of every wolf whistle. I guess, if I wasn’t tapping away on this keyboard, I could be raping someone right now, and unless there’s something wrong with the research methodology it’s overwhelmingly likely that I wouldn’t even recognise what I was doing as a crime.” And it sort of went downhill from there.

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