Rapist Urged Not to Rape

// 3 July 2010

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My local paper has published an article following the sexual assault of a woman. They report that the police are urging a change in behaviour to prevent further rapes. Sadly, contrary to the title of this post, the change in behaviour they are encouraging involves the behaviour of local women, who are advised to not walk alone on the paths of the Dearne Valley Trail.

So, I would like to make a few changes to the article. My alterations are in bold

POLICE have issued this image of a man who subjected a 50-year-old woman to a terrifying sex attack as she walked her dog at a South Yorkshire beauty spot.

The man assaulted the woman as she he walked alone on a secluded path on the Dearne Valley Trail, near Elsecar, Barnsley, at around midday on Thursday June 24.

The stockily-built attacker was white, around 30 years old, with short fair hair and a round face. He was wearing blue shorts and a white T-shirt and fled towards Elsecar Park following the attack.

Police are warning people using the trail to be vigilant and report suspicious activity immediately. They are also urging women not to walk the paths alone. They are particularly urging the rapist to stop raping, and want men to be aware that if they walk the paths alone, they may cause alarm to the women in the area, due to this recent attack.

Det Sgt Steve Trigg, from South Yorkshire Police, said the woman was left “traumatised and in shock” after the serious sex assault, and feared she might be killed.

Anyone with information about the attack should call 0114 2202020 ext 736551.

Comments From You

Jennifer Drew // Posted 3 July 2010 at 11:22 am

Excellent Phillipa because as you rightly point out the men who rape and commit sexual violence against women are always ‘invisible.’ Passive language ensures accountability is always displaced onto women and never the men who commit these crimes.

I now await claims putting focus on men is ‘anti-male’ and ‘radical feminist at its worst!’

Dwysan Edwards // Posted 3 July 2010 at 12:21 pm

Unfortunately a similar comment was made on Women’s Views on News yesterday which I have always been an avid fan of… to quote THIS IS WHAT WOMENS VIEWS ON NEWS HAD TO SAY……The Herald relates the story of a girl in Edinburgh who was raped whilst out walking her dog.

I would not like you to think that I have empathy or sympathy for the attacker in any way at all, but….

The 16 year-old girl was walking her dog along a path in … See MoreEdinburgh which I use regularly as a cycle way. I would not actually be very comfortable cycling there on my own, nor would I do so at 10pm, when it is almost dark, even this far north. But this girl did. And she was attacked.

So what am I saying? I am merely making a tiny little suggestion that women should not put themselves in situations of danger. So an isolated path in the hours of near-darkness are not really the place for women of any age. And this is not actually a very dangerous city to live in. But it is common sense to protect yourself isn’t it?

To be fair to Women’s Views on News after I emailed them my extreme concerns of yet again the blame being put on women effectively making us prisoners by fear – the editor did e mail me back apologising and took the post off their web-site.

Laurel Dearing // Posted 3 July 2010 at 12:48 pm

most 16 year olds dont yet really even think of themselves as ‘vulnerable women’ types. and walking the dog? well its kind of just a chore. makes people think more safe. i mean if you cant walk your dog on a cycle path in a not-dangerous-place-to-live then where?

lauren // Posted 3 July 2010 at 1:25 pm

Yes!

When I was in college, there were a spate of stabbings and other assaults on women at night. Most of them took place on the paths between the women’s dorms and the rest of campus. Women were then instructed not to go out alone after dark. (Near impossible if you wished to go to your evening class or the library.) You would literally get stopped and harangued by staff if you were caught walking alone. (Can’t your boyfriend walk with you?)

Then one morning we found posters all around campus: Campus Security had determined that, since all the attacks had been perpetrated by men, there was now a curfew on men after sunset (4:30). If a man absolutely had to go out after dark, he had to be accompanied by a woman.

OH THE OUTRAGE! I distinctly remember a young man tearing down one of the posters, saying, “This is restricting my freedom! I’m not going to live like that!”

(The Campus Security posters were a hoax by the campus women’s group, if you haven’t already guessed.)

(Oh, and because there’s always someone who willfully misunderstands: no, I don’t think men should be subject to curfews! And neither should women. It would be nice if we could all get properly outraged about this instead of just shrugging our shoulders and blaming the woman.)

earwicga // Posted 3 July 2010 at 1:50 pm

Great post Phillipa.

Cath Elliott wrote about Phyllis Stephen’s disgusting article entitled ‘Rape’ that Dwysan talks about above. http://toomuchtosayformyself.com/2010/07/02/victim-blaming-fail-for-anti-sexism-news-site/

I tweeted Stephen to tell her I was grateful to her for reminding me that I am responsible for being raped. She replied:

“Thank you for your comment. I do not agree with your interpretation of my article. I am truly sorry that you have been a victim.”

I find it incredible that Women’s Views on News has a rape apologist on board. These are the sort of people who also serve on juries.

Elly // Posted 3 July 2010 at 3:05 pm

Wonderful post, thank you. I could not agree more. :-)

Politicalguineapig // Posted 3 July 2010 at 3:41 pm

Dwysan Edwards: Why shouldn’t men be subjected to a curfew? If some government set up a curfew until the economy got better, women would have access to a lot of night jobs, and the police would have less work to do.

Sheila // Posted 4 July 2010 at 12:38 pm

Sad story of man being raped in Ipswich hits the BBC website today. Note that we don’t know if the man was walking alone. The police are not urging men to be extra viligant and not to go out. Note that there is no doubt of the man’s ordeal. He was raped. He doesn’t allege rape. It’s not in inverted commas. When I wrote to the BBC about use of inverted commas around the word rape in news stories, they said they had to do that before the case got to trial in case it wasn’t really rape. Oh yeah. Well, poor man in Ipswich, let me tell you, there is NO rape crisis centre in the whole of Suffolk. That’s a population of 600,000 without a rape crisis centre. The NHS will give you 6 weeks therapy, then you’ll be out on your ear. Victim support will patronise you with useless calls until the case is dropped, then they’ll brand you a liar.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/suffolk/10498589.stm

Virginia S. Wood, Psy.D. // Posted 4 July 2010 at 2:12 pm

Nice job. Every paper that prints an idiotic article like that one ought to be urged to print a retraction, complete with your edits!

I once got into a Tweet-out with a female colleague who urged girls not to walk alone in a local park after dark following an assault there. I went to the original article she’d linked to, and found to my amazement (boy, am I naive) that it did not give the victim’s age or the time of day–nor did it say she was alone. Not that any of that is relevant, but here’s my point:

The reading public, unfortunately, leaps to victim-blaming conclusions on its own quickly enough, thank you very much, without encouragement from biased news reporting.

So thanks for keeping alert and pouncing on these things when you see them!

Quiet Riot Girl // Posted 4 July 2010 at 3:28 pm

I hate the way the media victim blames in this way, so thanks for showing so clearly how hurtful and unhelpful this kind of women-blaming discourse is Phillipa.

However, I would not suggest doing exactly the same thing back to men, by saying

‘and want men to be aware that if they walk the paths alone, they may cause alarm to the women in the area, due to this recent attack’.

This is the same discourse just the other side of the coin. None of us should be made to feel we are contributing to the likelihood of rape by walking the streets/paths alone. I know you turned it around to show we should not say this to women. But Id like to emphasise we shouldnt tell men they could be mistaken for ‘rapists’ if they walk freely in their cities and countryside too.

A J // Posted 4 July 2010 at 5:06 pm

@ Sheila – My understanding of the BBC policy (and that of most news organisations) is that they use inverted commas where the crime is disputed (ie, with rape where the other party is identified and claims it was consensual), but not where it isn’t. It’s basically to stop them getting sued for libel.

Sheila // Posted 4 July 2010 at 6:05 pm

@AJ

You don’t know what ridiculous defence may be offered in the current Ipswich case, if the culprit is caught. How about: the victim was experimenting with rough gay dogging. I don’t think we should condone the BBC’s policy. If I say I was raped, I was raped. Otherwise, you’d have to preface ever single crime with inverted commas given the defences some people run.

emmariot // Posted 5 July 2010 at 1:57 pm

What is ‘rough gay dogging.’? when it’s at home?

polly // Posted 5 July 2010 at 7:05 pm

There are obviously a lot of things wrong with the original piece, but apart from the obvious as pointed out by Phillipa, a couple of startling bits of irrationality strike me.

Do the people who issue these warnings think rapists are somehow geographically limited to one area? As in – they’re not going to rape anyone anywhere else?

Which brings me on to my second point. It’s like those ‘don’t go out unless it’s absolutely necessary’ warnings you get when it snows. And you think ‘what counts as absolutely necessary? Going to work, because I’ll get sacked if I don’t?

There always seems to be an assumption that women can magic up a chaperone (preferably male) whenever there’s the slightest hint of a threat. It reminds me of something I read once about a rape victim being told by a female police officer that she shouldn’t have gone out alone, and that if the police officer HAD to go out after dark she always got her boyfriend to meet her (which kind of makes me think she’d be a crap police officer also to be honest). Anyway what if you absolutely have to go to say, work, and can’t scare up an escort with nothing else to do, what are you meant to do?

Wouldn’t it be safer if there were lots of people walking around in that case?

Sheila // Posted 6 July 2010 at 8:08 am

@emmariot

Not sure if you’re joking, but dogging is having sex in a semi-public place, parks and car parks being favoured, with a stranger. The sex is consensual in dogging.

But you can hear it now, can’t you? Woman is raped. The defence claim the area the attack took place in is well known locally as a dogging area, that she went there voluntarily and only “claims rape” because she thinks someone saw her. Call me deviant if you like for thinking of it, but with general chit-chat and press coverage of dogging currently, I can see this defence being regarded as plausible, which is abhorrent.

Alison Clarke // Posted 6 July 2010 at 8:57 am

As you all know, the blog post that appeared on WVON last Friday about the rape of a young woman in Edinburgh was subsequently removed. This is just to let you know that we have put up an apology on our site this morning. Thanks.

Jeff // Posted 6 July 2010 at 10:32 am

Politicalguineapig,

For the same reasons that women shouldn’t be subjected to a curfew of course.

Shelia, whilst any rape is horrible, I think that story nicely highlights the fact that some of the rubbish the beeb spouts to protect their often biased reporting is exactly that.

Politicalguineapig // Posted 6 July 2010 at 3:14 pm

Jeff: So you’re claiming women are a threat to public safety the same way roaming men are?

Leonie Hodge // Posted 6 July 2010 at 5:52 pm

I am sick of victim-blaming! Philippa you did a fantastic job. I worked with some 12 year old school children recently 96% of 180 of them believe that an adult women should not go out alone at night.

They all however agreed that men should be allowed out alone at night…

Victim-blaming is embedded so early it is no wonder by the time rape cases are decided by ‘juries’ made up of the general public these untouched attitudes are leading to a low conviction rate. No other crime in the world gets so much scrunity as rape!

Laurel Dearing // Posted 6 July 2010 at 7:22 pm

@Leonie

just curious if you did anything with the information and giving the children another perspective at all?

Jeff // Posted 6 July 2010 at 7:33 pm

Politicalguineapig,

First of all, “roaming men” are not a threat to public safety. “Roaming Rapists”, sure. Men, no. Get that right please.

And no, I’m not suggesting women are a threat to public safety, but that’s not why we don’t impose curfews on them.

leonie // Posted 6 July 2010 at 11:15 pm

Yes, it was a workshop on gender and learnt behaviour.

Politicalguineapig // Posted 7 July 2010 at 12:22 am

Jeff: More violent crimes are comitted by men then women. How is that not a public safety issue?

rebemi // Posted 7 July 2010 at 4:44 pm

What about considering how the victim feels, im sure she would have appreciated a warning if it had happened to somone else.All the police are doing is warning women, they are not stopping them from going out alone, thats personal choice, and im sure the same would have happened if a man had been attacked…. no ones telling women that they cant go out….. it really is rather petty when people are more concerned with the wording of a police statement than feeling horrified for the poor women it happened to.

Virginia S. Wood, Psy.D. // Posted 7 July 2010 at 6:04 pm

Wording is everything. Of course we would like a warning. But a proper warning would be couched like this: “There is a rapist out there, we haven’t caught him yet, and one place we know for a fact he is operating is. . . . . FYI.”

The warning not to go out alone at night seeps into your unconscious. It keeps you from living your life freely. And when something bad happens, you tell yourself–as automatically as a knee-jerk reaction–“See? I KNEW I shouldn’t have done that!”

And here’s the ultimate irony: The vast majority of rapes happen in a woman’s own home, and the vast number of rapists are someone she knew and trusted (e.g., one of those male relatives who’s supposed to accompany her out at night).

So these “warnings” function more as social repression, keeping a woman in her place, that is, than they do to keep her safe. Because, statistically, she’s safer going out at night than she is staying at home.

Wording is not petty. It influences both the WHAT and the HOW of our thinking, deeply (unconsciously). Wording also reflects the dominant paradigm, and that’s hardly petty when you are living as a woman in patriarchy.

Quiet Riot Girl // Posted 7 July 2010 at 6:19 pm

I don’t live ‘in patriarchy’.

There is no kingdom and there is no omnipotent ‘oppressor’. Yes, words are important and I reject those ones!

polly // Posted 7 July 2010 at 9:50 pm

Well political guinea pig has a point. Which is that we are being asked to take certain courses of action based not on the absolute or near certainty of something happening, but on the supposed raised probability of it happening.

So on the balance of probabilities: if you’re male or female, you’re more likely to be attacked violently by a male (84% of those who commit violent crimes are male). And males are more likely to be victims of crimes of violence that are not domestic and twice as likely to be victims of violent crime overall. (if you want figures for all of this look at the british crime survey)

http://rds.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs09/hosb1109vol1.pdf

So maybe ALL males should be under a curfew, to (on the balance of probabilities) make life safer for everyone. But particularly themselves! Don’t go out at night chaps, you’re twice as likely as a women to get beaten up. Incidentally visiting nightclubs was another risk factor which made someone much more likely to be a victim of violent crime….

And if you think that’s stupid (because it is), please avoid telling females to do the exact same thing. I’m not about to circumscribe my life for fear of the very remote chance of being raped by a stranger. Any more than I’m going to stop travelling in cars because they sometimes crash.

Jeff // Posted 15 July 2010 at 8:36 am

politicalguineapig

Apologies, I’ve been away.

“Jeff: More violent crimes are comitted by men then women. How is that not a public safety issue?”

ALL violent crime, infact all crime period, is a public safety issue. No matter whether it’s committed by men, women, black people, white people or whoever. That does not give anyone (including you) the right to arbitrarily punish people just for belonging to the same gender as people who perpertrate crimes.

sianmarie // Posted 15 July 2010 at 5:00 pm

jeff- but all women are technically punished because of men’s crimes – i.e our freedom is restricted because some men choose to rape.

DE // Posted 15 July 2010 at 9:53 pm

Well said Jeff.

Jeff // Posted 17 July 2010 at 11:28 am

sianmarie,

I assume here that you are referring to the danger of women going to certain places/out at night/etc, is that correct? Whilst I understand your point, it’s really not the same. Choosing not to go somewhere at a certain time for fear of being attacked by criminals not only applies to men as well as women, but is also a far cry from having that choice made for you by being collectively punished by law for the actions of a few people, for the sake of the chromosomes you share.

Philippa Willitts // Posted 17 July 2010 at 11:52 am

Jeff,

If you go back to the original point of the post, it was that the police were telling women not to go out alone.

Rose // Posted 17 July 2010 at 2:25 pm

I grew up with older brothers and every day I saw the freedoms that they were granted, that I was denied.

At an age where they were allowed to go clubing at night, I still ‘had’ to be home before dark, (even in the winter), and was expected to call home to let people know that I was about to walk home from a friends house even at 6pm.

My freedon was taken from me. It was given to males. Because a man may endanger the life of a woman, the woman is denied her life.

There is something fundamentally wrong with that.

While my brothers were out dancing, socialising and enjoying life, I was home sinking into drugs and alcohol to try to make the tedium of my cage fade away. Mens freedom over women has a serious cost – don’t think it is about ‘how a woman chooses to respond’, its beyond that.

Jeff // Posted 17 July 2010 at 3:02 pm

Phillipa,

Again, there is a difference between being advised not to go somewhere alone/at a certain time/whatever (which advise you are at liberty to ignore) for what is considered to be your personal safety (albeit with all the victim blaming implications of such a statement) and being prohibited by law (which you cannot ignore) as a collective punishment for the actions of other people, whom you simply happen to share a sex with.

Harry // Posted 17 July 2010 at 8:06 pm

@ Jeff: There is a difference between advice one can ignore without consequence and ‘advice’ that if ignored, effectively removes one from the law’s protection. If a woman is breaking the ‘rules’ when attacked, a conviction is nigh on impossible.

In any event you are missing the wider point: When women are subjected to a curfew this doesn’t actually prevent the majority of rapes. In fact, the home – where police are advising women to be – is the most dangerous place for women i.e. where they experience the overwhelming majority of physical and sexual assaults. Wandering the streets – whether at night or alone is far safer for women.

Even in the rare event of there being a serial rapist attacking strangers, it would be far more useful in terms of catching him if there were to be a curfew imposed on men as this would narrow the number of potential suspects on the streets.

Jeff // Posted 17 July 2010 at 10:55 pm

“There is a difference between advice one can ignore without consequence and ‘advice’ that if ignored, effectively removes one from the law’s protection. If a woman is breaking the ‘rules’ when attacked, a conviction is nigh on impossible.”

I know, but I still don’t think it’s the same thing.

“In any event you are missing the wider point: When women are subjected to a curfew this doesn’t actually prevent the majority of rapes. In fact, the home – where police are advising women to be – is the most dangerous place for women i.e. where they experience the overwhelming majority of physical and sexual assaults. Wandering the streets – whether at night or alone is far safer for women.”

On the contrary, I havn’t missed that point at all. I fully understand that to be true, I’m merely pointing out that to collectively punish all men for the actions of a few is both an immorality and an illegality, and frankly would probably do little to reduce the number of rapes since, as you point out, the majority happen at home.

“Even in the rare event of there being a serial rapist attacking strangers, it would be far more useful in terms of catching him if there were to be a curfew imposed on men as this would narrow the number of potential suspects on the streets. ”

Useful perhaps, legal or in any way morally right, no. The most likely culprit of child abuse is that childs parents, that does not make it ok to collectively punish all parents by removing their children from them, despite the reduction in abuse that would logically follow.

Politicalguineapig // Posted 18 July 2010 at 12:18 am

Jeff- the fact remains that there is no way to distinguish between a normal man and a rapist. A curfew (or a limit on how many men can be in an area at a time) would be a way to make men change their behavior.

Heavy handed, yes, but sometimes one has to administer hints with a bludgeon.

Jeff // Posted 18 July 2010 at 9:49 am

Politicalguineapig

There’s also no way to distinguish between ordinary men or women and those who are murderers, or thieves, or paedophiles. Criminals do not advertise that fact, and yet it would still be wrong to collectively punish all of us for the actions that a small minority are responsible for. Removing children from their parents would be a way of reducing child abuse, but it would still be immoral. And illegal.

I’ll remind you once again that it is rapists that need to change their behaviour, not men in general. The vast majority of us never commit anything so henious.

Politicalguineapig // Posted 18 July 2010 at 6:01 pm

Jeff:The vast majority of men may not be rapists, but they condone rape and defend it- by consuming media that encourages rape, by attending sports events, by joining fraternities and sports teams, by disbelieving female aquaintances who say they’ve been raped, or turning a blind eye to street harrassment. The difference between pedophilia and rape is that everyone knows pedophilia is wrong. (except perhaps, the Catholic Church.)

Men benefit from rape, even if they do not commit it themselves. If they have their freedoms curtailed until the amount of rapes go down, they will realize that rape is wrong and stop enabling it. They may even start making sure there are actual consequences for rapists.

Jeff // Posted 18 July 2010 at 10:13 pm

Politicalguineapig,

Sure. Attending sporting events (which, incidentally, women do too), and joining teams or societies (another activity popular with many women), is for the defence and condonement of rape, as opposed to engaging in healthy excercise and competition. That, frankly, is a pile of rubbish. The consumption of media, refusal to believe women who say they have been raped and ignoring of street harrasment is also in no way exclusive to the male population, women engage in these activities just as much, so insisting that only men “condone and defend” rape based on their participation in those activites is a clear logical fallacy.

I would also question the validity of your statement that “everyone knows paedophilia is wrong”. In my opinion, the phenomenon is very similar to rape. Ask almost anyone, and they’ll say that forcing a woman to have sex with you against their will is both rape and wrong, but might go on to say that having sex with, say, an unconcious woman is neither. Or any other such excuse. Paedophiles often employ similar (for instance “She might have been 13, but she was up for it, so it’s ok”), and equally weak, excuses to absolve their consciences.

Even if curtailing men’s freedoms did reduce the number of rapes (which, given that only something like 3.6% of rapes actually occur outdoors seems highly unlikely), that still doesn’t make it right. There is literally no moral argument you can present to justify the collective punishment of millions of people, based on the actions of a very few.

I would appreciate it if you would explain both the ways in which men, and men alone, “enable” rape, and also the ways in which they benefit from it. Being a man, I’m very concerned if I am doing either, and would love the specifics so as to be more able to put a stop to both.

Laurel Dearing // Posted 18 July 2010 at 10:37 pm

urgh… im bored of this you know… i think we all understand the point that if its men attacking women and if hypothetically one of these will not be outside it makes more sense if its the people out attacking. and yes i think we all know that not having it as a law still means men get off if we did not follow the unwritten rules and expectations. however as im not entirely sure whether politicalguineapig is being hypothetical or does really think it would be a good idea to curtail the freedoms of men for women and mens safety. if hir really does think that, then doesnt jeff have the right to stand up for his civil liberties in the same way as we would vice verse? not that anyone is taking that right away, but more assuming that he does not understand the points of which the hypothesis is based on. feel free to correct me if i am wrong there.

i would imagine people new to the site would likely take other writers backing up the points over again to be agreeing with the idea that these limits being in place would be a good thing. perhaps some of you are. i do see the more extreme feminisms as an important part of the movement, but it is certainly not mine, and i feel like i needed to say that.

Philippa Willitts // Posted 18 July 2010 at 11:19 pm

There is more urging women not to walk alone at night, this time sadly at the Latitude Festival where two separate teenage girls have been raped. Attacks not thought to be linked. Seems a frightening and dangerous place to be :(

Politicalguineapig // Posted 19 July 2010 at 1:51 am

LaurelDearing: I’m just frustrated. I’m sick of hearing about all the attacks, and knowing that the rapist will never ever be charged, and even if he is, that the victim will have to face trial and be victimized all over again.

I want men to be afraid of me, instead of having to guess their threat level any time I’m out and about on my own.

Sheila // Posted 19 July 2010 at 8:52 am

I’m with Jeff on the latest parts of the thread as regards civil liberties. If we alienate non-raping men and non-feminist women from any cause, it’ll back fire.

As to Latitude, note that along with the male rape reported earlier in the month, it took place in Suffolk. A county with DOUBLE the national average domestic homicides and NO rape crisis centre for 600,000 people.

Jeff // Posted 19 July 2010 at 9:37 am

“I’m just frustrated. I’m sick of hearing about all the attacks, and knowing that the rapist will never ever be charged, and even if he is, that the victim will have to face trial and be victimized all over again.”

Can I just say that, as far as is possible for someone who is extremely unlikely to ever be raped, I understand and emphasize with that point of view, but attacking men’s freedoms will not fix that problem. It’s education and enlightenment about exactly what rape is and why it’s wrong that’s needed, to remove all the idiot excuses from the minds of not only rapists, but also the police and the juries. Personally, I think stuff like this should be taught in school.

Lilly // Posted 19 July 2010 at 11:17 am

Jeff, you probably mean well but unfortunately your line of reasoning is a common derailing tactic on feminist blogs.

You can say all you like that “it’s not the same” to advise women not go out alone, but likewise I can say it’s hardly “attacking men’s freedoms” to suggest a curfew for men. Politicalguineapig’s suggestion is pretty much a thought experiment: it flips the situation over its head but it’s never, ever going to happen. Never. It just won’t. Women’s “curfew”, on the other hand, is more or less a harsh reality, whether it’s called a curfew or by some other name.

So which one of these unofficial “policies” is the truly serious one: the one that exists as a thought experiment in a few feminists’ minds and will never, ever be enforced by anybody, or the one that nobody really admits to exist but is enforced by criminal violence while society quietly agrees?

Come ON, now.

Laurel Dearing // Posted 19 July 2010 at 11:33 am

its understandable. even if you look a threat, rather than moving aside and leaving it, youll likely get high pitched comments about looking scary from passers by =/

Shea // Posted 19 July 2010 at 12:25 pm

“I want men to be afraid of me, instead of having to guess their threat level any time I’m out and about on my own.”

I hear that and I’m with you on curtailing men’s freedom of movement to protect both men and women. Although I don’t believe you are seriously suggesting this.

But it would however be nice if for once the response to a rape of a woman by a man was to place the responsibility not to rape on men by making them realise they are the threat. It should not be women who don’t go out late at night on their own it should be men, for a host of reasons mentioned.

I don’t think that really amounts to a curtailment of civil liberties anymore than asking people to stay in their homes when a crazed gunman is on the loose, does. Rather it is an acknowledgement that women need to go out in public (for work, for socialising, for shopping etc) and asking them to stop their lives because of rape is simply insulting and impractical and unfair in placing the burden of prevention on them. Once again the only people who can stop rape happening are the rapists, by choosing not to rape.

idris // Posted 19 July 2010 at 1:56 pm

The original article simply asks that men “be aware that if they walk the paths alone, they may cause alarm to the women in the area, due to this recent attack.” As a man who often enjoys walking alone both by day and night, I know that it is very often easily possible to avoid giving such alarm. For example, I can cross the road, change direction, slow down or otherwise make it clear that I have no intention of launching an attack. At most, such actions are a minor inconvenience and to request such awareness is not an attack on my civil liberties – it is simply asking me to attempt to avoid causing unnecessary alarm or distress. I can see nothing unreasonable or restrictive in thus asking me to consider the possible feelings of others and adjust my behaviour accordingly whenever I can.

Qubit // Posted 19 July 2010 at 3:18 pm

A while ago a woman was attacked on her way back to halls at the university I attend. I heard about this attack while walking home from two girls walking in front of me, it was obvious to them who was to blame since the only comment they had on the incident was, “What was she doing walking home at 2am?”

Jeff I understand that you don’t want your freedoms curtailed. However remember the people you are saying that this would be against your human rights to probably change their behaviour everyday so they don’t do anything dangerous.

I certainly will regularly walk a long way home to avoid quiet roads, wouldn’t consider walking through a park or going out just for leisure walk in the evenings. Numerous times I have walked up a main road to go to a supermarket or take away after 8pm (not after 10pm) and have had unwanted attention (nothing serious just a nuisance). Each time I curse myself for doing something so stupid as going out alone when I didn’t need to and vow not to do it again. I’m probably an idiot that I haven’t learnt my lesson yet.

After an incident in Zurich at about 1am (with which I was with a large group of people including men) I commented that I’d be terrified if something similar to me happened while I was alone to be told that they hoped I wasn’t stupid enough to be in any city alone at 1am no matter how safe its reputation (we had worked late then got dinner, not been out for fun or anything trivial and unimportant like that). I do regularly walk myself home late at night (~10pm), this worries the hell out of my parents and I know it is something I shouldn’t do but I still do it. I have friends who will do their best to not have to be alone at night even if it means ringing their boyfriend to go out his way to come walk them home. Unfortunately for me I don’t have anyone who will do this for me, I know this makes me selfish and I’d say a large proportion of women would disapprove of me for recklessly abandoning my safety by walking home alone rather than taking a taxi (although this has risks too) or forcing someone to walk me home. At the same time I don’t have any other option. By walking home alone I upset my parents and would get no sympathy if I was attacked because I am doing something that is generally disapproved of. However much you argue you have a right to go out in the evening, I certainly don’t feel like I do. In fact I feel like I’m being naughty and wrong for doing such a thing.

Jeff // Posted 19 July 2010 at 5:05 pm

Lilly,

I’m not intending to derail, but I think they are both serious issues. If for no other reason than that a curfew would probably do very little to reduce the number of rapes.

“It should not be women who don’t go out late at night on their own it should be men, for a host of reasons mentioned. ”

It shouldn’t be either!

“I don’t think that really amounts to a curtailment of civil liberties anymore than asking people to stay in their homes when a crazed gunman is on the loose, does.”

Surely saying “stay inside incase you get shot” is the same as saying “stay inside incase you get raped”?

Jehenna // Posted 20 July 2010 at 5:19 am

Except we get raped there too, Jeff.

Which leads back to the age old question –

Where *can* we be where our right to autonomy over our own bodies isn’t compromised?

It’s sad that the ‘whatabout’ argument has come up for such long debate here. I’m with politicalguineapig.

If you can ‘racially profile’ people because some are more likely to cause terrorism incidents than others, then you can keep men out of public areas at night – violent crime and rape would both go down. Shouldn’t everyone be happy with the results?

Sheila // Posted 20 July 2010 at 8:16 am

Most rapes happen in the home. Women’s autonomy over their own bodies has much more to do with society at large rather than serial stranger rapists of whom there are far fewer than there are husband rapists.

I’ve been raped and half strangled in the street at 10.30 by a stranger, and I’ve been raped and left in fear of my life by my husband.

Of the two events, it’s the husband rape that affects me more. At night time, I take cabs after 10.30 at night, stick to well lit streets and don’t get drunk beyond squiffy. That’s the easy part. The hard part is that I can’t form another relationship, that I have decided now at 45 years old that it is highly improbably I’ll ever trust a man enough again to have the sort of relationship most people take for granted. Yes, talk about reclaiming the streets, but don’t let it fool you that it makes things right.

Jeff // Posted 20 July 2010 at 8:39 am

“If you can ‘racially profile’ people because some are more likely to cause terrorism incidents than others, then you can keep men out of public areas at night – violent crime and rape would both go down. Shouldn’t everyone be happy with the results?”

Racial Profiling is wrong too, remember?

Jehenna // Posted 20 July 2010 at 9:27 am

It might be wrong, but we’re still doing it in the name of the greater good, right?

Politicalguineapig // Posted 21 July 2010 at 4:41 am

Jeff: The reason I dislike certain team sports is that they seem to be tailored to create rapists. All professional team sports are sex-segregated, and an all male environment encourages sexism.

Most professional athletes also have a wide array of people who are ready and willing to apologize for them and defend them, so the athletes can get away with anything.

Back on topic: The simplest point is: men, in the aggregate, don’t care about women, so why should we care what they think or about their rights?

Elmo // Posted 21 July 2010 at 10:36 am

education education education- it would take a long time but thats the key- educating children from a very young age about rape. By doing this, we would not prevent rapists raping, we would prevent them ever becoming rapists.

(although im looking at this from a socialist utopia where income is equal and poverty has been eradicated, but still. I feel the trick is to build a society where you nip the problem in the bud, as it were)

Political Guninea Pig, I have to say i dont agree at all with your attitude.

Also just looked at Scotland anti-rape ad for first time-what a step up, great!

Jeff // Posted 21 July 2010 at 12:15 pm

“The reason I dislike certain team sports is that they seem to be tailored to create rapists. All professional team sports are sex-segregated, and an all male environment encourages sexism.”

How on earth can a sport be tailored to create rapists? I am utterly baffled by that assertion. And whilst I agree that some all male environments are rife with and often encourage sexism, that rather depends on the individuals that are within them, not the fact that they are all male. Many all male groups for whatever discipline manage to exist without encouraging sexism at all.

“The simplest point is: men, in the aggregate, don’t care about women, so why should we care what they think or about their rights?”

Again, you are condemning a whole based on the actions of a few. Certainly some men care little, if at all, about women and there rights. To say that therefore men as a whole also hold that sentiment is utter rubbish. You should care for men’s rights, just as you should care for everybody’s rights, because they are human rights. And witholding those rights from a certain group, be it a race/sex/level of ability or whatever is exactly what has gotten society into the bloody awful racist/sexist mess it is currently in. That, should be blindingly obvious.

Anna // Posted 21 July 2010 at 2:19 pm

Qubit, I agree with you, I too don’t feel like I really have a right to go out in the evenings! I do, but still feel like I’m taking a big risk and might get punished. I know I would get that served-you-right thing from a lot of people if something did happen.

Recently a friend of mine got a questionnaire from the council, asking how residents thought safety could be improved in her area. Better street lighting, for instance? She wrote that, for her, men who attacked women were the problem, and that if they stopped attacking women it wouldn’t matter if the streets were pitch dark.

No response!

sianmarie // Posted 21 July 2010 at 3:22 pm

that’s great that your friend wrote that qubit!

in response to the latitude rapes, melvin benn said they will be launching a public safety campaign with the aim of informing ‘girls’ how to keep safe. i’ve written about why this is problematic on http://www.ukfeminista.org and http://www.sianandcrookedrib.blogspot.com and have posted the letter that i sent to the festival organisers, asking them to instead run a public safety campaign that urges rapists not to rape.

the debate is raging on CIF as i type, if you have the stomach for the comments…

Politicalguineapig // Posted 21 July 2010 at 3:47 pm

Elmo: Sure, educating children to be considerate would be a great idea. But what do we do about the adults?

Jeff: It’s a really simple equation: violent or rough and tumble environment +sex segregation+ entitlement = rapist.

And while I agree that not all men are rapists, enough are that I really don’t feel comfortable in an environment where a lot of men are present. Nor do I feel comfortable trusting them with the justice system, where they will almost certainly believe the man over the woman, assuming the police don’t screw up and the case gets to court.

Shea // Posted 21 July 2010 at 3:53 pm

This thread seems to be becoming increasingly circular. I actually agree with Jeff to some extent that taking an essentialist view of men is as harmful and hypocritical as the MRA’s who take an essentialist view of women.

The point is to raise awareness and consciousness for the majority of decent men out there who don’t want women to be afraid or harmed. This is why the advert is so great – it challenges the prevailing dialogue that women invite rape or “want it” that has become a subconcious part of our society. It is this that is the best weapon in preventing rape. Challenge people about the stereotypes and assumptions they hold and change their ways of thinking. It won’t stop rapes over night but it will mean rape enabling attitudes become much less prevalent over time.

Jeff // Posted 21 July 2010 at 3:54 pm

“education education education- it would take a long time but thats the key- educating children from a very young age about rape. By doing this, we would not prevent rapists raping, we would prevent them ever becoming rapists. ”

This! A thousand times this. I firmly believe that the formal education of children about exactly what constitutes rape and the immorality of it would drastically reduce the rates.

Jeff // Posted 21 July 2010 at 5:08 pm

“Jeff: It’s a really simple equation: violent or rough and tumble environment +sex segregation+ entitlement = rapist.”

Rubbish! Otherwise literally every single male rugby player, or football player, boxer, or wrestler, soldier, and a huge number of other professions would be rapists, and yet that clearly isn’t the case. This simple equation of yours, I begin to feel, is a personal prejudice that I assure is not remotely true.

“And while I agree that not all men are rapists, enough are that I really don’t feel comfortable in an environment where a lot of men are present.”

I’m very sorry to hear that.

“Nor do I feel comfortable trusting them with the justice system, where they will almost certainly believe the man over the woman, assuming the police don’t screw up and the case gets to court. ”

Unless I’m mistaken, this is again not something exclusive to men. Given the almost equal divide between them, it follows that women are on rape juries at least as often as men, and there are a number of surveys that show many women blame the victims of rape just as many men do.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8515592.stm

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