Some useful things you might teach your children in our rape culture

Preamble: As I’m currently lurking in Threads Of Doom (TOD) elsewhere to invigorate my obstreperal lobe (because I enjoy seeing twerps swatted by cluebats) I’m also regularly encountering Nuggets of Awesome in the comments threads from folks posting substantive engagement with harmful ideas being presented by those lacking clue. Since TODs usually arise from heated stoushes regarding matters that upset many people, many readers avoid them, particularly when they get above 500 comments, and thus many of these really useful comments might be missed by most of the internet. This is my small effort to highlight some of these buried treasures.


This particular nugget comes from YATOD on Pharyngula, where PZ’s posting of a webcomic addressing rape culture led to a predictable influx of people repeating the usual victim-blaming rape myths as if they were commensense truths, leading to a predictably forceful pushback from the Pharyngulites, who do not let that crap stand.

One commentor insisted that she would teach her children to take “sensible precautions” to “stay safe” despite the many previous comments showing how those rape-myth precautions are mostly counterfactual to the way rapists actually behave, and amidst the various fully justified stoush responses Nepenthe decided to drop this nugget of awesome:

And lest I be merely raging, amaclean, here are some useful things you might teach your children.

1) Their bodies are their own and they don’t have to allow anyone to touch them for any reason if they don’t want to.

2) They are valuable people and don’t need anyone’s approval to retain that status, not even if that person claims to love them.

3) A romantic relationship is not necessary to be happy, to be a “complete person”, or any other bullshit generally sold about them. They are complete, whole, worthwhile people regardless of relationship status.

4) Relationship abusers are not creative, though they can be difficult to spot initially. They all pretty much do the same shit. Teach them what an abusive relationship looks like and what healthy ones look like. Television and movies give many excellent examples of abusive relationships, often in the guise of “romance”.

5) Abusers do not change and they do not love you, regardless of the stupid lies they tell. One should endeavor to extricate one’s self from an abusive relationship as soon as it is safe to do so.

These are the things that, had I learned them beforehand, might have helped me avoid that predator. Note how none of these “tips” involve what to wear, where to go, or how to act.

If readers would like to add their own favourite links addressing rape myths/culture in comments, I’d really like to see them. To get you started, here’s a link to the web-comic that started this particular stoushfest: Kate or Die on tumblr | Rape Culture and Bullies



Categories: ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism, language, parenting, relationships, violence

Tags: , , , , ,

10 replies

  1. That’s brilliant. I read that webcomic on Pharyngula and decided that I wasnt going to go anywhere near the comments thread, but I’ve posted a link to the original on our links round-up on The Lady Garden, because it’s great.

  2. Yes, it’s a real shame when glorious comments get lost in comment-threads-of-doom full of sexist (and worse) fail.
    I’d like to see more of the “useful things you might teach your children in our rape culture: Don’t rape” meme, myself.

  3. Here’s another very good comment from opposablethumbs later in the thread:

    I haven’t managed to keep up with the latter part of the thread, so it wouldn’t surprise me that this has been said already and a hell of a lot better. But:
    .
    If any of the trolls and apologists are still here (very likely, unfortunately) and capable of listening (not likely); several of you have asked (whined) “well if we’re not supposed to drivel on about “precautions” (i.e. blame the victims) what’s the solution?
    .
    You’ve been told, repeatedly, by smarter people than me. But of course you weren’t listening. So here goes AGAIN:
    .
    don’t laugh at rape jokes. Somebody telling those jokes or laughing at them is taking encouragement from you. Somebody knows that they have protective cover all around them.
    .
    don’t yammer on to your friends, acquaintances, workmates, about how it’s dreadful isn’t it and women ought to change their lives to avoid working late, living in dodgy neighbourhoods, having abusive relatives; talk instead about how men ought to change their fucking attitudes. Seriously. Tell your friends and acquaintances and workmates men should stop regarding women as potential fucks. What’s that, they might laugh at you? They might tease you, call you whipped or a killjoy? Oh, well that’s much too scary, you brave thing you, that’s much too much bother to ask you to take.
    .
    keep an eye open when you’re out and about – not for your own safety; for the safety of others around you. See a woman on her own, looking unhappy about someone coming onto her? See somebody looking really wasted, being helped – or “helped” – away by a guy or guys? Check to see if they know that guy, and don’t take his word for it alone. Call a licensed cab for them yourself, ask the bar staff, give a shout out to the bar and find out if they came with friends. Oh, but maybe that guy really was a friend? Fantastic! What have you lost? A moment of your time, and maybe the feeling of having egg on your face. What a high price to pay. On the other hand, maybe you helped to prevent a crime. Maybe that guy knows he’s been noticed, that his behaviour has been noticed.
    .
    talk to people. Get them thinking about this. Get them wondering why we all see it as “normal” that a woman should circumscribe every aspect of her existence and even then she’s not safe. Don’t let other people yammer on about “precautions” (victim blaming) without speaking up and questioning why we aren’t focusing on men’s attitudes and assumptions of entitlement and behaviour. Talk to people about how buying someone a drink doesn’t mean you’re entitled to sex. Talk to people about how going out on a date doesn’t mean you’re ENTITLED to sex. Talk to people about how nobody, anywhere, any time, is ENTITLED TO SEX IF THE OTHER PERSON DOESN’T WANT IT.
    .
    In fact, do what the regulars have been doing right here on this thread.
    .
    What will it cost you to be a decent human being? Not too high a price, surely – after all, we know you really care about reducing rape, right?
    .
    I don’t know what to say to those of you who have spoken out here, because there are no fucking words. Except maybe I’m so fucking sorry.

  4. I am really enjoying Louis’ comments about peepee etiquette. I hope they get made into a wildly popular children’s book.
    It’s a vain hope, but a hope nonetheless.

  5. The thread is certainly an intriguing composite of gold and manure, tree.
    Here’s another nugget (from We Are Ing The Matrimonial Collective)

    it’s just shaming all of us for not being perfect at following those impossible rules

    The trick of every tyranny or mind fuck system is to establish a set of “rules” spoken or otherwise that the pisants are assured; if followed you will be safe. The rules are intentionally vague or impossible, that way they can be selectively enforced. This lets the tyranny exercise force at will, and it lets people dismiss any abuse they commit because it can’t happen to them; they follow the rules.
    It’s like the rituals someone with OCD or another nervous disorder might due, having the compulsion to do some menial tic to ward off bad events, extrapolated to the social scale.

  6. adhering to ‘the rules’ (for women) to prevent rape is about as effective at preventing rape as using the ‘tiger repelling rock’ to ward off tiger attacks. For when it works, it’s because you avoided tigers, not because of the rock. Same with ‘the rules’, it’s because you avoided rapists, not because you followed the rules.

  7. If only rapists were orange with black stripes, avoiding them would be so much easier. Oh and extinct in many places, that would be good too. But really the problem is that avoiding them isn’t really the solution. Teaching people not to rape is the solution.

    • But really the problem is that avoiding them isn’t really the solution.

      Exactly. If I am lucky enough that I manage to avoid being targeted by either the rather rare stranger-rapists or the far more ubiquitous friend/neighbour/colleague/relative-rapists, that isn’t going to stop those rapists from finding someone else to rape.

  8. Thanks for highlighting these.

  9. Sorry, I didn’t mean that avoiding rapists was the forever solution. Obviously teaching rapists not to rape is, but as that requires the dismantling of rape culture and treating women and girls like real people, my gut says that’s going to take freaking aaages. So for now, being lucky enough to avoid a rapist will have to do.

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