Men: Born To Be Rapists?

So, a bit ago, I was talking about the not-so-nice guys of OKCupid and the Tumblr dedicated to pointing them out with its fair share of snark. The Tumblr has apparently been taken down for reasons unknown, though there is an archive you can view that hosts most if not all of the posts the Tumblr once had. Anyway, there was something that I wanted to talk about during that post that I realized kinda deserves its own conversation.

Victim blaming and the true colors of male (and, sadly, female) douchery.

A friend of mine posted this status update on her Facebook that has apparently managed to catch on enough for a random blogger to make a graphic out of it and now know who the original writer was.

It says the following:

Men should be offended when someone claims that women should prevent rape by not wearing certain things, or not going certain places, or not acting in a certain way. That line of thinking presumes that you are incapable of control. That you are so base and uncivilized that it takes extraordinary effort for you to walk down the street without raping someone. That you require a certain dress code be maintained, that certain behaviors be employed so that maybe today, just maybe, you won’t rape someone. It presumes that your natural state is rapist.

Now, I don’t actually know how much victim blaming you’ve ever heard, particularly when it comes to rape, but it is a shockingly popular trend amongst men, and sometimes even women, to blame the victim (read: woman, as the majority of rape cases are male rapist(s) and female victim(s)) for something she’s done. Our politicians have been getting into the ever so subtle swing of doing that all the time lately, something to talk about later. Just think about all the politicians that have decided to not simply say, “Rape is wrong and should be severely punished” and instead want to qualify rape, as though some non-consensual sex is better than others.

And then you run into the ordinary jackholes that do things like this wonderful picture, which was apparently done by a guy but, if you look at the right, posted by a woman with the comment “Made me laugh lol.”

The reason calling people out for their God awful lines of thought – like the partner in a relationship is obligated to sexual activity with you when you demand it, or is required to meet a certain standard of physicality set by you – is a good thing is because of victim blaming and how horrendously it treats everyone. When we start saying, “It’s the victim’s fault,” then we easily move on to “Got what they deserved.”

Can you think of any moment someone deserves to be raped? I really hope that answer is no.

It’s thoughts like that that cause depressing statistics like this graph by The Washington Post. People just decide that the victims are lying about it or seeking attention or something. And, as that graph shows, too many victims are often too afraid to even report their rape. The environment we’ve created can’t be helping.

But like my friend said, it also makes rape seem like a natural, okay thing because rape is just one of those things men do, like farting. “Shouldn’t have eaten that Taco Bell! Now I have gastrointestinal distress.” “That woman shouldn’t have worn that short skirt! Now I have raped her.”

It throws our humanity and evolution into higher thinking beings back to the age of the primordial ooze. What’s worse, it creates a scenario wherein people believe all rapes occur that way: Woman got drunk, dressed like a slut, walked where she wasn’t supposed to, etc. I know I’m kind of narrowing my scope to heterosexual rapes of women, but that tends to encompass a majority of known rape cases as I recall, and the majority of rapes people blame the victims for. Point is, rapes very often occur in homes by people the victim knows, such as a boyfriend. Alcohol doesn’t need to be involved either. I know a metric crap ton of women that have gotten very very drunk in public and private places and manage to get home entirely unmolested. From what few stories of being raped I’ve been told about, alcohol wasn’t even involved.

If we’re going to start trying to do some good in the world, trying to turn this problem around, we need to stop lying to ourselves about the “why” and “how” of the conversation. We need to stop blaming anyone but the person taking the unconsented action. We need to start educating children on what consent is, and start warning them about the effects things like alcohol can have on it. Maybe then, that graph I linked to won’t be so freakin’ depressing.

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19 thoughts on “Men: Born To Be Rapists?

  1. mharper says:

    Well, there’s this book:, published in the 1970s, that first coined the term ‘rape culture’…and has this little gem: Brownmiller described rape as “a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.” (If we are to trust Wikipedia for the quote.)

    So, on the one hand you have the “men can’t control themselves”…and on the other hand you have the “men choose not to control themselves”. Win-win, right?

    I have a problem with the graph, because it assumes guilt; it’s a trial by statistics, isn’t it? It assumes that those who are not found guilty at a trial were guilty anyway. Isn’t that a problem for a nation whose justice system functions on the principle (okay, not always) of innocent until proven guilty?

    Also, this, in response to your last sentence: can a drunk person give consent? If a person is intoxicated and chooses to drive, we punish that person for drunk driving (provided the person is caught, of course). If a person consents to sex while drunk, where does that leave us?

    • linaloki says:

      The difference between drunk driving and drunk sex is the number of people involved. If the drunk driver is the only one in the car, they’re the ones at fault. But if, say, one person (the woman) is drunk and seems to offer sexual advances while the other person (the man, since we’re still assuming heterosexual rape scenarios), is sober, he should know to back off, like in “10 Things I Hate About You.” If they’re both drunk? Then consent becomes a sticky wicket. But there’s a reason I get really worried/weirded out when alcohol is involved, even if it’s only a little and even if things were going places pre-alcohol. There are people that intend to commence with sex before they start drinking… in those cases, it’s best to actually voice that consent prior to the alcohol consumption.

      • mharper says:

        Why should the number of people involved matter? In the one case, we assume that the person acted of his/her volition and should therefore be held accountable for actions done while he/she was drinking. In the other case, we assume that the person has absolutely no idea what he/she is doing. You certainly wouldn’t say that a drunk man who raped a woman would be off the hook. If one gives consent, it is consent. If one says no, one means no.

      • linaloki says:

        The number of people involved affects the number of people requiring consent. If I stab myself, it’s generally considered I consented to do so. If I stab someone else, I’m going to need something like a signed waiver to have even a remote chance of the courts not throwing me in jail for a long time.

        If the sober person isn’t consenting, then yeah, that’s not consent. My argument was about the sticky waters of someone not fully in their complete faculties “consenting.” Too many times, people use the excuse of drunkenness to say there was consent. If, however, I knew that the person sober would not consent to sex, then you most certainly should not be accepting drunken consent. The question isn’t what’s not consent, where no means no. The problem alcohol brings is the possibility of unaware “consent.” Does yes always mean yes? Not if the yes is achieved under duress or with incomplete prior knowledge, which alcohol could be argued to deny.

  2. mharper says:

    The statement “he should know to back off” implies a few things:
    1. He’s putting himself in a position where he might be accused of rape.
    2. Women who are or have been drinking cannot know their own sexual desires or express them appropriately.
    3. It is the man’s responsibility to protect a woman’s chastity.

    (These implications come through most clearly in the assumed heterosexual context.)

    (I also assume that there are varying degrees of drunkeness; one may be drunk but still able to coherently and explicitly express consent.)

    • linaloki says:

      Men and women who have been drinking can not know their own sexual desires or express them appropriately.

      I’m not saying all people that consume alcohol suddenly become blackout drunk and unable to express consent. But it’s dangerous ground that, generally, would be better served to leave alone without prior knowledge of consent. Because if she isn’t actually knowingly consenting, then you’ve raped a woman. So your choices are between raping someone and not having sex.

      As for your #3, I’m not suggesting some type of chivalry. I’m suggesting that people have responsibility for their actions. It’s a man’s responsibility to take responsibility for his actions. If a man has sex with an intoxicated woman that, in the light of sobriety, reveals she would not have consented to that sexual activity with full knowledge, then he’s raped her. It’s not an act of chivalry to not rape someone or to attempt to avoid situations wherein you might be raping someone. It’s just the right thing to do.

  3. mharper says:

    “Men and women who have been drinking can not know their own sexual desires or express them appropriately.”

    Okay, so what can a drunk individual know or not know? If a drunk individual expresses a desire for food, does that person not know he or she is hungry?

    And consider the converse to my argument: if a woman cannot know her own sexual desires or express them appropriately, then why not construe her drunken “no” for a yes?

    Desire is not a constant. One can have desire at one moment and not have it the next. It is not a steady state. I would argue that the person who best knows one’s desire is oneself, not another person. Might I regret an action later? Of course, that’s always a possibility. But at the time I expressed consent, that was what I wanted. I do not see that a bad sexual decision made while drinking is in a different category from any other kind of bad decision made while drinking. One may regret these actions when perfectly sober, but that does not excuse the fact that one was a willing participant at the time (excepting drugged/roofied/black-out,etc).

    • linaloki says:

      Well, okay, you bring up being drugged. Why is a drugged yes unacceptable as a yes? What if the drug was taken willingly? What if the woman doesn’t drink much and doesn’t know what alcohol does to her judgment? What if she’s coerced into drinking more than she can handle?

      I’m not saying alcohol instantly disqualifies people from being able to consent. I’m saying it can be dangerous and that, frankly, it’s safer to just leave it be. Especially since desire isn’t consent. I desire many several women. But if one of those women came to me and propositioned me for sex, and I knew she has at that moment a significant other that she’s in an exclusive, monogamous relationship with, I would not consent, despite my desire.

      I can, for example, know I’m hungry without consenting to eat. And I think you know that the answer to your converse is that that’s definitively rape.

  4. mharper says:

    Sorry, I meant to imply by “drugged/roofied” that the woman had ingested a substance she had not consented to ingesting (i.e. something slipped in one’s drink). By ‘black-out’, I meant that the woman was unconscious and incapable of giving or not giving consent. I’m sorry I didn’t make those more clear.

    However, if the drug, whatever it is, is taken willingly, then consent is consent.

    If a woman doesn’t drink much, it is her decision to drink and control how much she is drinking. As you have pointed out, you are “suggesting that people have responsibility for their actions. It’s a man’s responsibility to take responsibility for his actions.” Why is it not a woman’s responsibility to take responsibility for her actions?

    What do you mean by coercion? Do you mean that a woman is threatened? Or do you mean that peer-pressure comes into play? I would say that peer-pressure is not coercion, and that it is the individual’s responsibility to resist peer-pressure.

    Your second paragraph feels deliberately obtuse. I did not say that desire is consent. I’m saying that one may have a desire and choose to act on that desire and consent to sex. Your reluctance to sleep with a woman whom you know is in a relationship stems from your assumption that she would regret her decision later. You cannot necessarily assume that. And isn’t your reluctance coming in part from an anxiety about being the “home-wrecker” (for lack of a better phrase)? You do not sleep with her because she is in a relationship; you are assuming what her desires are based on her relationship to another man, rather than what she tells you that she’s wanting. It’s well-intentioned, but patriarchal all the same–you’ve assumed you know what’s best for her.

    And what’s this: “I can, for example, know I’m hungry without consenting to eat.” The analogy referred to drunk individuals acknowledging their desires and voluntarily consenting to sex. Those drunk individuals can also voluntarily not consent to sex.

    The converse is the logical extension of your argument that drunk individuals cannot know their own wants and desires and thus cannot be trusted to give consent. Obviously, if one says no, we accept that one means no, so why can’t yes mean yes?

    • linaloki says:

      All people are responsible for their actions. My argument is that alcohol dulls the ability of the brain to consciously make decisions. The more alcohol, the less conscious the decisions. Ergo, if a sober man is offered sex by a drunk woman, the right thing to do is to turn that offer down. Using the tautology “consent is consent” really dampens the gravitas and complexity of how consent works.

      Resistance to things is, again, dampened by alcohol. Inhibitions can be lowered. You become more willing to do things you would not consciously, soberly do. Like, say, drink more or have sex with men that start rubbing their junk on you. As for my reluctance with a woman in a relationship, I have a personal reluctance because I refuse to knowingly be the person someone in a relationship cheats with, drunk or not. It’s a personal moral issue. I know what’s best for me and my emotional/mental status: NOT getting involved. If she wants to break up the relationship and then come after me, fine.

      You’re kind of missing my argument. My argument isn’t that a drunk yes can never mean yes. My argument is that one should never assume that it does when alcohol is involved, particularly alcohol of a certain amount. A glass of wine? Fine. Two 40s and 15 shots? Well, if they’re still conscious, that’s impressive… Why do you think, for example, statutory rape is a thing? We think minors are not in the mental capacity to make informed decisions, right? Same principle applies to the mentally ill, yes? Their mental faculties are compromised. So, why wouldn’t that also count for the severely inebriated?

      People can drink and consent to sexual activity. If a woman or man gets drunk and starts making out with you, and you’re okay with it, then whatever. But backing out of that situation is just the better idea, the smarter idea, no matter what the gender of the drunk person is. It’s simply a smarter idea to get consent before alcohol has compromised someone’s decision making skills.

  5. mharper says:

    “If a man has sex with an intoxicated woman that, in the light of sobriety, reveals she would not have consented to that sexual activity with full knowledge, then he’s raped her.”

    You said this earlier, and I can’t tell if you’re moving away from that assertion or not. If a woman has consented to sex, of her own accord, we cannot call it rape. Your scenario here requires that the man essentially have precognition. I have never said that one can get consent from an unconscious person, or a person who has not voluntarily consumed substances–it is the individual’s responsibility to know his or her own limits, and slipping something into someone’s drink compromises that.

    You keep saying “full knowledge” and referring to “conscious” decisions. We cannot know the state of another’s mind. Indeed, we do not assume minors can make rational decisions, but there are teenagers who are capable of mature thought–unfortunately it is beyond the scope of the law to determine the “age of accountability” for each individual. 18 is a number, for better or worse. As for the mentally ill, the determination of their mental states comes after extensive evaluation. One may plead mental illness in a criminal trial, but if one is not determined to be mentally ill, the charges stand, with full consequences.

    To reiterate, we cannot know the state of another’s mind. One can only judge what that person wants by what he or she tells one, and verbal consent is consent.

    “All people are responsible for their actions. My argument is that alcohol dulls the ability of the brain to consciously make decisions. ”

    “We think minors are not in the mental capacity to make informed decisions, right? Same principle applies to the mentally ill, yes? Their mental faculties are compromised. So, why wouldn’t that also count for the severely inebriated?”

    In no court of law would the statement “I had been drinking” hold up as an excuse. We hold people accountable for their actions, regardless of whether they’ve (voluntarily) consumed alcohol or are stone-cold sober at the time of the action. We assume that the person was capable of making the decision to act or not act–and as you’ve pointed out, there are plenty of people who drink who choose not to have sex at the time. Again, I return to the fact that we would not excuse a drunk man from raping a woman, which would be the logical conclusion of your line of questioning directly above.

    • linaloki says:

      First, I’m not really talking about legality so much as the moral issue and changing the conversation about rape. Saying “It’s her fault, she was drunk” is part of the problem. It takes two people to make actions and, depending on the level of alcohol, one person is far more culpable than the other. Further, I’m just suggesting that it’s better to stay away from that situation because, if everyone treats an inebriated person as someone not to have sex with, then we’ll start to see the conversation about rape changed. We’ll see less victim blaming. We’ll see less people making the argument, “She didn’t say no.” After all, if she doesn’t say no or fight back, that’s basically consent, right? Of course not, and you and I know that, but do you perhaps understand my point that fully aware and conscious consent should be required and people clearly not in possession of their full mental capacities should not necessarily be trusted to consent completely, the same way we treat the mentally ill and minors?

      As for courts of law taking “drunk” as a reason, imagine someone stealing all your stuff while you were inebriated. Their defense is they asked you when you were intoxicated and you said something like, “Whatever, I don’t care.” Does that really count as allowing someone to take your stuff? When your choices made during inebriation harm others, you’re punished. When others harm you during your inebriation, they’re punished. If you are effectively non compos mentis due to alcohol, then a court of law would certainly take that under consideration.

      As for personal responsibility on knowing limits… I’ve never drunk alcohol beyond small sips of awful wine before. I’m also likely an alcoholic due to genetics. Were I to go out and drink a decent amount, should it be my responsibility to know “Oh, yeah, I should stop now. This is when I get tipsy.” People know their limits due to experience. I’ve not had that experience. So, if someone sleeps with me that first time I’m getting drunk, and I’m not exactly willing but I’m also too drunk to be in my right mind, is it my fault?

      That’s my issue with trying sexual things with people that are drinking. We don’t know their situation, nor can we accurately judge exactly how sound of mind they are (unless they’re, say, unconscious, then it’s easy). But whenever alcohol is involved, suddenly it’s the person that drank’s fault. Blame them, it was their responsibility. And we slowly slip back into the victim blaming game again. And that’s precisely what needs to be avoided. So maybe it’s better to not try and get it on with the drunk chick at the party. Maybe that’s just something everyone would be better off doing and the world would, at large, be better for it.

  6. mharper says:

    We cannot talk about rape without talking about the legalities–if rape is a crime, then we talk about it like every other crime.

    Nowhere have I suggested that it is “her fault because she was drunk”. Rather, I have pointed out that if one verbally consents while one is drinking, we cannot call that rape. Rape is non-consensual sexual activity. I do not think we can charge someone with rape if the other person consented to sex.

    If you are inebriated and someone comes up to you on the street and asks for your wallet and you hand over your wallet (no threats, no nothing, just a question) then no, it’s not theft–even if you are pissed with yourself later. If someone comes up, asks for your wallet, and you say, “Whatever, I don’t care”, then why shouldn’t we take that statement at face value, that you don’t really give a f*ck either way?

    Look, if someone isn’t saying “no”, what is that person saying? I don’t care? Maybe? If one is “not exactly willing” but then says “yes”–of his or her own volition–then I don’t know how we’re supposed to expect the other party to be a mind-reader and know that when he or she said ‘yes’, he or she really meant something else, like a ‘maybe’.

    Is it perhaps wiser to avoid sexual activities while drinking or with those who’ve been drinking? Sure. But from a legal standpoint, we have to assume that those who’ve been drinking voluntarily are still responsible for everything they say and do.

    • linaloki says:

      The thing is, rape is a rather sticky wicket when you consider the legalities. With pretty much every single other crime I can think of, with VERY few exceptions, there is physical evidence that is often obtainable after the fact. With rape? That physical evidence is very difficult to find because rape depends on consent, and evidence of consent is more often taken by trusted word of mouth than anything else. My point is to say consent is not as simple as a “yes” or “no,” particularly when alcohol is involved. Perhaps it is legally, but rape is one of those fantastic crimes that almost never gets prosecuted. And that’s part of the problem.

      See, you never said “Let’s blame the victim,” but that’s where the line of thought leads. She had a responsibility to not get drunk, to not be vulnerable, to know her limits… So, let’s blame the victim.

      From a legal standpoint, rape is one of the easiest crimes to pull off. Which is something that needs to change. Part of changing that is by changing the discussion about rape in a non-legal sense, in a moral sense. (For example, a 15 year old can give consent outside of the law, but not so much within the law, particularly for sex. Statutory rape is illegal, but a 16 year old sleeping with a consensual 15 year old isn’t necessarily immoral.) We need to talk about rape not in terms of legality because our legal system’s treatment of rape is laughable at best. We need to talk about how to change the culture surrounding it. And I personally think that a great place to start is to leave alcohol out of sex.

  7. mharper says:

    Rapes often aren’t reported, so that might be the problem with rates of prosecution. And, as with any other crime, the onus is on the injured party to report the crime and bring evidence supporting the accusation of rape.

    Yes, rape is a difficult crime to prosecute because it does often boil-down to a “he said, she said”. But where does your line of reasoning lead? By saying that “something needs to change” and that “our legal system’s treatment of rape is laughable at best”, haven’t you implied that there need to be different standards for prosecuting rape? Are you suggesting that we should do away with the assumption of the innocence of the accused in cases of rape? Indeed, that is at the far end of a long line of thought away from your original statements–just as far away as saying ‘one who gives voluntary consent after voluntarily consuming substances has not been raped’ ultimately implies victim-blaming.

    And incidentally, to say “victim-blaming” implies that a crime has been committed and someone is guilty of committing it–and that is a legal matter.

    • linaloki says:

      Victim doesn’t require a system of law. It’s not a legal term. It is a term used in law, but not one inherently requiring law to be used. For example, murder is a legal term, but killing is not. You can be a victim if someone kills you. But, yes, there do need to be different standards. For example, making rape tests actual standards and perhaps punishing the crime far more severely. I have another post I’m going to write where politicians have attempted to change the definition of rape, as well as legally grant rapists more rights to the woman’s body than the mother, particularly in cases involving abortion. Rape is not treated well, and rape victims are very rarely believed. Usually, it’s because we’ve got this culture of people that believe “illegitimate rape” or women just saying they were raped when they weren’t is something massively common, when in fact actual rape is the far more common occurrence.

      It would be nice, too, if we could maybe start looking into developing technology that can perhaps better determine rape… but when our culture is so heavy on victim-blaming where actual rapes are dismissed as the woman’s fault, rapes largely go unreported out of shame and fear. THAT is the thing that needs to change first. Before our legal system can better prosecute rapists, we need our culture to better prosecute them, so to speak.

  8. mlharper1 says:

    “Victim” necessarily implies that a crime has been committed and that someone is guilty of that crime. It is not that “victim” itself is a legal term, but the situation it implies–that of a victim and a guilty party–is a situation relating to law. The situation you describe (“you can be a victim if someone kills you”) doesn’t really make sense: if one kills strictly in self-defense, then yes, that person is dead, and we do not call it ‘murder’, but neither do we say that that person (say, an armed burglar invading a home) is a victim. To wit, various media outlets jumped at the opportunity to call Trayvon Martin a victim, when, quite frankly, that determination needed to be made after the presentation of evidence in a courtroom (so, certainly not by the police on the scene, and most certainly not by the media). Doesn’t the labeling of Martin as a victim mean that Zimmerman is guilty of aggravated assault and murder, rather than acting in self-defense?

    To reiterate, “victim” implies that a crime has been committed and is necessarily a judgment call on the innocence of the one party and the guilt of the other. More neutral (in the strict, legal sense) would be the terms “accused” and “accuser”, and thus we might more properly say, “accuser-blaming”.

    Making some kind of standardized evidence-gathering procedure in the case of rape kits is fine, but those kits will only tell us if two (or more) people have had sex. We cannot condemn someone to jail by that fact alone. It tells us nothing about consent. We can educate people about consent–we can say that no means no, that threatening someone or drugging someone does not equal consent, and that those who are unconscious cannot give consent–but I think we have to be honest with ourselves that someone who does give voluntary consent has consented, ill-advised choice or not, and we cannot find someone guilty who has had sex with a consenting partner.

    • linaloki says:

      One can be a victim of bullying, emotional abuse and circumstance, none of which are illegal in most cases.

      But you’ve hit upon the point with consent: Education is needed. A conversation needs to be had, and the culture needs to be changed. And one of the things that people should be educated about is the effect of alcohol on consent and how it’s a bad idea to go there.

  9. mharper says:

    But, to say that one is a victim of bullying or emotional abuse necessarily implies that someone else perpetrated that bullying or abuse. And, while these things are not illegal, if a school principal wishes to deal with bullying, that principal should at the very least attempt to conduct due process. While these things may not be formal crimes, it would be better if we assume innocence on the part of the accused before rushing to judgments enforced culturally (like ostracization, boycotts, etc).

    Indeed, it may be a bad idea, but I don’t think educators should make the argument that voluntary consent given while drinking is not consent. I think the implications of that statement go far beyond rape and suggest that one can’t be held responsible for other illegal activities while inebriated. Education with nuance is what is key here; nor do I think it’s problematic to demand that individuals hold themselves accountable for their actions–accountability cuts both ways, and emphasizing that what another person does or how another person dresses in no way excuses oneself from committing criminal acts is part of that lesson in personal responsibility.

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