Quickhit: Schoolie “rape squad” victim-blaming

From The West: “Rape squad for Rotto schoolie week

Specialist sex assault detectives will be based at Rottnest Island during schoolies’ festivities after attacks on young women there in recent years.

Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan warned teenage girls to stay together during leavers’ week to avoid being targeted by sexual predators.

Two officers from the sex assault squad would be stationed at Rottnest next week and others would be on call to deal with alleged rapes or serious sexual attacks in leaver hotspots including Dunsborough, Mandurah and Jurien Bay, he said.

“Female leavers should never go off with someone they do not really know,” Mr O’Callaghan said.

“They should also avoid drinking so much alcohol that they cannot make safe decisions. […]

[Youth Affairs Council WA chief executive Lisa Laschon] echoed warnings that schoolies’ festivities could be dangerous for teenagers, particularly girls, if they drank too much or took risks they normally would not. […]

Ms Laschon urged revellers to look after their friends and not accept drinks from strangers because they could be spiked.”

Same shit, different rape squad.

No-one’s warning blokes to watch out for each other and prevent each other from raping. No-one’s telling blokes to watch their booze lest their judgement be impaired and they rape someone. No-one’s telling blokes not to go off with girls so that they can avoid the temptation to rape them.

Blokes are raping girls, and it’s girls who are being charged with the responsibility to prevent it.

Categories: gender & feminism, violence

Tags: , , ,

18 replies

  1. One of the Queensland papers (can’t remember which because I saw it via a news summary) did include anti-rape advice to Schoolies lads at the end of a story on the risk of sexual assault as Schoolies, and after the usual advice to girls. It included don’t have sex without consent which included not having sex with anyone too drunk or drugged to give consent, and to treat girls with respect – if you wouldn’t want your sister or mother treated that way you’ve crossed the line.
    It was a nice start.

  2. That is a start, Merryn. As I’m sure you do too, I still find it problematic that it’s considered normal that the way to get a young man to perceive young women as actual people is to compare them to his sister or mother, instead of simply being able to appeal to a broader view of human empathy.
    Women are conditioned to see men’s concerns as human concerns by default, whether they are related to them or not. Why is it assumed that it’s OK for men to need to be reminded that some women they are related to are people before they can be brought to see that other women are people too?

  3. Catharine MacKinnon: Are Women Human?

  4. Young men have empathy? Really? In a pack, trust me, it all disappears.

  5. I get so tired of this shit.

  6. I just critcised the story on twitter and got this response from a West journo: “are you suggesting a say no to rape” campaign? I would have thought some things were self evident”.
    And with that I’m giving up on the world.

  7. What I don’t understand is why they don’t run a concurrent campaign targetting the boys….
    Including your points but also including the consequences of being on a sexual assault charge.
    And including a “if you see a girl in trouble – step in” message.
    Until we target both men and women – nothing will change.

  8. The boys won’t listen.

  9. God, yes. I read that article this morning at work and was reduced to incoherent handwaving. What about an ‘We’d like to catch these predators, so if you see someone trying to spike drinks/bragging about ‘taking advantage’ of someone/hanging around acting creepy etc etc, let us know?’ angle, even. Not. That. Fucking. Hard guys, really.

  10. The boys won’t listen.
    In the documentary about the Matty Johns/Sharks pack rape incident, they showed the team undergoing a session where they watched a film dealing with male on male rape. The reactions to that showed that they might just get it if this was more widespread and repeated, not just a one off.
    My 12 year old’s just had sex ed at school – but it’s a brief fly by night sort of thing. If I’d had my wits about me I would have contacted the organisation doing the sessions and asked them whether they touch on boys behaviour, rape and consent at all.

  11. Yeah, but that’s male-male rape, not male-female rape. And it were repeated, I’d still doubt that it would have any effect. Most males between the ages of 12-30 tend to turn off any higher functions when they run around in packs.

  12. Politicalguineapig, that’s exactly what everyone wants to intervene in. Aren’t you skating dangerously close to ‘boys will be boys, so don’t even bother, it’s hormones, or evolution, or something’? Boys will be boys as we teach them boys will be; we’ve taught them to turn off ‘higher functions’ or to ‘lack empathy’. That’s what the questions here are about: how to intervene in that form of masculinity. And the example Helen gives is part of a program which uses homophobic horror (at the idea of being hit on by a man, let alone having sex with one) to demonstrate the double standard between the treatment of women and the expected treatment of men. That is, one much-discussed example involves a video of a woman being ‘flirted with’ at a bar, to which the responses are generally ‘yeah, that’s all good’. Then they’re shown a man being hit on in precisely the same way, to which the responses are unbridled horror. This is followed by discussion of how this reveals something key abut how the different sexes are expected to behave.
    ETA: In case it’s not clear, I’m a little ambivalent about using homophobia to demonstrate the problems with misogyny, but just wanted to clarify how the relationship between male/male and male/female was playing out in that program.

  13. The other thing I thought when I read this was, ‘What about a girl who *wants* to go off on her own with a boy?’. Telling the kids to stay away from each other is no good when they don’t actually want to stay away from each other, if they can have actual consensual sex…

  14. Individual boys can be taught empathy, I know that. The problem is that empathy disappears in a pack. It’s kind of like crowd mentality, where the average I.Q. of the crowd sinks down.

  15. One, it’s not always a pack situation.
    Two, the default in Western society has always been to treat male behaviour as a given and charge women and girls with the responsibility of policing sexual mores and keeping themselves safe. What we’re saying is that we need another paradigm shift, to educate boys that rape is their responsibility not to do, rather than women and girls’ responsibility to keep safe. You say it won’t work, I say we as a society need to try it. Claiming a priori it won’t work is simply an argument from essentialism.

  16. Something I’ve been thinking about is that in some of these situations the term “rape” or even “sexual assault” probably isn’t applied by the offender. In fact, I’d bet on the occasions alcohol plays a significant factor men/boys don’t align what happened with rape/assault (even if in the back of their mind they’re aware that it might not necessarily have been “right”). So in that sense a statement from the commish about the definition of sexual assault being wide and that there would be no tolerance for sexual assault of ANY KIND would have gone a long way. The idea that asking rapists to stop raping is optimistic only applies if the rapists understand that they ARE raping. The notion of consent isn’t understood well enough for that to be a given and women are respected so little that the violation of their person isn’t necessarily considered an offence in and of itself.

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