No, we don’t need to center men in conversations about rape

 

A recent investigation by The Globe and Mail revealed how badly the Canadian justice system fails at prosecuting rape cases. Robin Doolittle reports that “one of every five sexual-assault allegations in Canada is dismissed as baseless and thus unfounded.” Contrary to popular opinion, only a tiny percentage of complaints are false (between two and eight per cent), yet Doolittle found that police in Canada are closing a disproportionate number of rape cases as “unfounded,” meaning that the women simply weren’t being believed.

There are many reasons — ranging from shame to intimidation to fear of going through the judicial system and dealing with the police — that women don’t report their rapes. According to The Globe investigation, nine out of 10 women don’t report, and clearly even the ones who do report are often dismissed. It’s only relatively recently that rape has begun to be treated seriously, thanks to the work of the feminist movement, which continues to fight for justice for victims and to hold perpetrators to account.

Men, on the other hand, rarely discuss rape in terms of justice. Restitution is left out of the conversation and, when faced with legal consequences for their actions, men will often try to garner sympathy through tear-jerking tales that justify their violence (or will simply flee). There are few accounts of rapists talking about their conviction or possible conviction in agreement. Men are too busy making excuses for themselves to consider any form of punishment or justice for victims.

When we ask men to discuss rape from their perspective, two things are made clear: rapists are Good Guys who made a mistake, and convictions are not a solution.

This is most evident in a widely-viewed TED Talk featuring Thordis Elva, a rape victim, and her rapist, Tom Stranger, who recount “their” story of “rape and reconciliation.” Stranger is not only invited to discuss the rape from his perspective, but speaks first:

“In 1996, when I was 18 years old, I had the golden opportunity to go on an international exchange program. Ironically, I’m an Australian who prefers proper icy cold weather, so I was both excited and tearful when I got on a plane to Iceland after just having farewelled my parents and brothers goodbye. I was welcomed into the home of a beautiful Icelandic family who took me hiking and helped me get a grasp of the melodic Icelandic language. I struggled a bit with the initial period of homesickness. I snowboarded after school and I slept a lot. Two hours of chemistry class in a language that you don’t yet fully understand can be a pretty good sedative.”

People laugh. It doesn’t seem likely, at this point, that a gruesome story will follow.

This casual approach to rape is not uncommon. From “star football players” who had a “promising future” and were “very good students” in Steubenville to the “baby-faced Stanford freshman,” a “once record-setting swimming prodigy,” the media just don’t know how to portray rapists as anything other than good guys who made a mistake. Similarly, Stranger’s flowery language could fill the pages of a sentimental novel. (Indeed, the two also published a book about their “life-changing journey” this year.)

Stranger’s introduction begs the question: whose story is it really?

The discussion is heavily focused on forgiveness. Stranger is positioned as a redeemed man. He has admitted to raping Elva. She has granted him forgiveness in return.

This is her right, of course. Forgiveness is a matter of personal inclination. What transpires through this “reconciliation,” though, is that she gives him a platform to speak about his experience and perception of the rape. In a carefully constructed monologue, Stranger shares his pain at realizing that perhaps what happened wasn’t right. He “felt a certain hollowness,” a “spine-bending guilt,” and a “heavyheartedness.” He names denial as a coping mechanism for the awful state he claims he found himself in. He emphasizes his “good guy” status further, explaining, “I was a surfer, a social science student, a friend to good people, a loved brother and son, an outdoor recreation guide, and eventually a youth worker.”

Identifying rapists as they really are — “regular” men from all backgrounds — is important. But centering men’s feelings in conversations about women’s victimization and how they respond in the aftermath is not the way forward.

“[L]abels are a way to organize concepts,” Thordis says, “but they can also be dehumanizing in their connotations […] and […] when someone’s been branded a rapist, it’s that much easier to call him a monster, inhuman.” But while being named as a rapist may feel limiting or uncomfortable, that doesn’t mean we should eschew the label. Regardless of how men feel about it, labelling rapists as rapists and victims as victims is a matter of social and legal recognition of an issue that plagues the world and overwhelmingly targets women: rape. Erasing those terms erases the truth. It dismisses sexual violence against women as a human misstep. The violence that Elva discusses is a sex-related violence — men rape women. Yet, according to Elva, “[Men’s] voices are sorely underrepresented in this discussion.”

But is that such a bad thing? The way male police officers, family members, partners, and journalists have treated sexual assault shows that men don’t know how to talk about rape.

Through feminist organizing, writing, and consciousness-raising groups, women have gained an understanding of the sexual violence they are subjected to as systemic. It was through speaking out that women were able to begin to fight back. Men, on the other hand, have a history of silencing and isolating women, or invading their spaces in order to speak on issues for which they are responsible. Allowing men to dominate conversations about rape serves men, not women (i.e. the victims). This is why a petition has emerged to ban Stranger from speaking at Southbank Centre’s 2017 Women of the World Festival. Women are justifiably concerned that the narrative will hurt victims.

The reality is, at best, few men realize that they rape. At worst, they don’t care. Yes, men should be educated about rape. No, they don’t have to listen to other men in order to do that. Because the question that haunts me is: will Tom Stranger’s unpunished crime seem all that terrible, especially to other men, when shared from his perspective? I’m not so sure.

Some men may be able to explain why they rape, but can they be trusted to hold themselves accountable, not only morally, but legally? It is easy for Stranger to blame rape culture, but less easy for him to report himself to the police.

This is, in part, what is missing from the TED Talk: the issue of justice, which so few women find. Ultimately, Stranger offers a self-centered perspective. He may show remorse, but in insisting that he is still a Good Guy, while eluding the matter of justice, what he’s truly saying is that he should be forgiven.

“Just imagine all the suffering we could alleviate if we dared to face this issue together,” concludes Elva. And just imagine all the suffering we could alleviate if we dared treat rapists for what they are: criminals. Considering that society doesn’t seem to have much trouble forgiving rapists, perhaps that should be the least of our concerns.

Cécilia Lépine is a Paris-based fantasy writer who discusses pop culture from a feminist perspective online.

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  • melissa

    I remember reading about this in an article, and the first thing that came to my mind was “Why is he acting like he’s suddenly equally a victim here for having raped someone?And why isn’t he in jail”

  • Blazewarrior

    So has this male sexual predator demonstrated any remorse or understanding that the fact he subjected a woman to male sexual violence was wrong? Of course not because as usual he claims to have accepted his accountability but at the same time he is really ‘a good guy; one who was a (male) surfer, a (male) social science student; a (male) friend to good people (really?) a loved brother and son, a (male) outdoor recreation guide and not forgetting a (male) youth worker.’ Did he miss anything? Yes he missed the fact he enacted his male pseudo sex right to sexually prey on a young woman because this is his male sex right! Oh and he forgot to say ‘whilst being the “good guy – you know the publicly respectable guy I am also a mundane male sexual predator/rapist who raped a woman!’

    Nope this male sexual predator hasn’t changed – rather he is laughing at us women for believing his lies. If he had really accepted his accountability and fact he had committed a very serious male crime against a woman then he wouldn’t be telling us women ‘ladies I’ve changed – look at me I’m really good guy!’ Instead he would be using his male energies and his male power to challenge other males about their supposedly sacrosanct male sex right to sexually prey on and rape women/girls. But this would mean this ‘repentant (sic) good guy’ having to deal with other males who also believe they never sexually prey on/rape women because hey male sexual predation is not male sexual predation it is just normal legitimate male sex right to female bodies!

    This mundane male sexual predator was given opportunity to give his santised/minimalised account of how he somehow became a ‘rapist’ because of course males never enact their male agency when it concerns male sexual predation upon women/girls. Look how the poor boy suffered – why he is really the victim not the woman!

    As always men use every means to deny/hide/excuse/justify their male agency and their male choice to subject women/girls to male violence including male sexual violence and we women are expected to ‘pat the boys on the head and say okay we forgive you because males can’t help committing male violence against women/girls.’

    The fact pandemic male violence in all its forms against women/girls causes long-term suffering to women/girls and yes this can’t be magically erased by claiming ‘you must forgive the male perpetrator; you must get over it; move on what happened to you is in the past etc.’ because this ensures mens’ crimes against women/girls are always portrayed as ‘minor’ compared to the crimes committed against males because their sex is male!

    So once again issue becomes one of ‘poor boys they suffer so much when they are labelled “rapists/male sexual predators” because of course the boys didn’t mean to commit these crimes against women – since they just magically happened!

  • Rachael

    My God. This is insane. I haven’t watched the video yet, though I’m going to work my way up to doing so, but this article’s description alone sends shivers down my spine. The only thing this approach would do is to normalise rape – and not in the sense of acknowledging that a huge percentage of women will be raped in their lifetime – but in the sense that it makes it “okay” to rape if you can claim the other points: that you’re a good guy. It’s just a mistake. Why pay for a mistake? Why go through the hassle of court proceedings or prison time for a mistake that many men make?

    This approach makes it clear that it’s okay for “good guys” to make the “mistake of rape” because hey, it’s so freaking common that it must be okay, there must be something making all these wonderful men rape, right? They can’t help themselves or the pressure in the society we live in is too great. So yeah, rape, absolve yourselves of responsibility, or better yet blame the woman you raped for being a woman.

    God forbid men be held accountable for the heinous things they do in this world.

    This has practically (not entirely as evidenced, thank goodness!) left me speechless. When will this madness end?

  • kissikitty

    letting a rapist speak and go all “woe is me, I made a little oopsie and now I feel bad about it!” and patting him on the back is an absolute slap in the face for rape survivors. all the coverage on this and seeing women praising him is making me feel sick, betrayed and extremely unsafe especially when feminist women are applauding this monster. all they do is enable him and his rapist buddies, all they’ll get from this is either “rape isn’t bad, look at all these women praising this guy!” or “rape may be bad but it is ok when I say I’m sorry afterwards, even better people will feel sorry for me”

    so thank you feminist current for being more reasonable than the articles I’ve seen on this so far

  • Lucia Lola

    Where are we going as a species when rape becomes “rebranded” to be relatable? I am horrified.

  • Raysa_Lite

    Ok, so this is one more way for males to minimize rape. It’s just another bad thing, an oopsie!

    “Oh, I stubbed my toe/had a fender bender/burnt the toast/raped a woman. Well, what a learning experience that was!”

    NO.NONONONO. Just no.

    I will never understand why we continue to allow males a voice in shit that has nothing to do with them. Whatever rape victims are doing to try to cope and move on with their lives should NOT involve rapists.

    I don’t care why they rape. Because THEY don’t care why they rape. Males have created and supported the system that blames us for our being raped. They don’t rape because they just can’t help it, or it was a mistake, or bad judgment. They rape because they CAN. And their male “justice” system protects them and enables them to keep on raping.

    And now, the rapist has feels? And we are supposed to listen? Why, exactly?

    This is just more male bullshit. And I am so, so sick of it.

    • lk

      Did you read any of the comments under the video?

      One woman shared a story of her boyfriend raping her..she says: “Is that rape? Technically, yes. Do I think he deserves to spend years in prison for this mistake, a minute of weakness and lack of empathy? No. I have known so many moments of weakness in my own life. I am lucky to have never hurt some one physically as a result, but I have hurt people emotionally from my moments of weakness and selfishness.”

      I think it is dangerous to ever talk about rape as some momentary weakness or some little mistake. Raping someone is a big deal, no matter what your reason for doing it was or whether your rape victim forgives you. The threat of rape shapes and limits female behavior all over the world…to even begun to imply that rape is just a little oopsie that men can learn from is awful.

  • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya

    I just watched “The Salesman” and this is the narrative that irked me. Perhaps I misunderstood the movie but I felt it was largely about humanizing the rapist. He has a family! He’s an old man! The poor guy! And the victim wanted to show him compassion because of this…just the stereotypical behaviour we expect of women.

    • pjwhite

      Yep. Male humanity must always be upheld – at the expense of females.

  • narrismo

    The media are all too often men and their male superiors portraying the perspective of men. Why is it that feminists that don’t conform to a male narrative never get a fair hearing? well…

    There are some men (and it’s mostly men) who will never, ever be sorry, who will never, ever see it from any other perspective than their own. They say they “don’t understand”. They say they “didn’t mean to”. Yet, they did the entire time, because instead of consciously thinking prior to anything, “is this a consensual interaction”, they kept going. It wasn’t like their teachers all along didn’t say, “how do you think your friend feels when they get hit”, they’ve just chosen consciously to not take on that and apply that, message. And for them, the only solution is punitive justice or at the very, very least, massive public shaming. The goal of the justice system is in part to instil ethics into those who cannot or will not take them on without force. Its problem is however that it is a broken system that can only be as good as as the information fed into it, subject to the whims and nuances of the humans feeding that information in. And Inquisitorial justice is as broken as Common Law, because there aren’t way more convictions in Inquisitorial countries. At least if massive public shaming occurred, that had men losing jobs and positions and titles/honours for their bad behaviour, to be pushed to being an outlier in society would motivate some to think twice.

    Yet, we have large public companies, sporting codes, and a broken political voting system (including millions of women) endorsing rapists as “okay guys”.

    Go figure.

  • SJ

    I thought this was an interesting point from a Guardian article about the book: “I’ve been asked why I didn’t press charges immediately, and the simple answer to that question is that I was a 16-year-old girl with naive notions about rape. Rapes were committed by armed lunatics, the kind of sensationalised monsters you saw on TV and read about in the papers. The fact that Tom wasn’t a monster, but a person who made an awful decision, made it harder for me to see his crime for what it was. That way, the demonisation of perpetrators in mainstream media got in the way of my recovery. “

    • pjwhite

      We need to educate girls that rape is monstrous, & that they have EVERY RIGHT to demand justice. It is tragic that she was never taught this. The trivialization of rape got in the way of her recovery – and what she is doing (normalizing it) will get in the way of other girls’ recovery. This is not okay. I am a survivor and I feel deeply betrayed by what she is doing.

  • Tired feminist

    But what is it good for when he’s doing so to excuse himself and try to gain sympathy?

  • pjwhite

    He needs to be held accountable for his crime. Instead, he committed rape and got a book deal. As a survivor, I am sickened and enraged by this. He is making it easier for men to rape, not just to “admit” to it.

    • oneclickboedicea

      Yes, I can see exactly why you feel that. I didn’t see it that way but reading yours and others comments here I can see what you’re saying.

  • shy virago

    All kinds of men rape. Maybe the ones I’d never, ever think that would. If some of them think it was sex, not rape, or that it’s no big deal, why should we be surprised?

    I’m so tired of progressive and leftist women standing up for rapists. They should all know better, regardless if the perpetrator is Julian Assange or David Bowie. Andrea Dworkin writes that she couldn’t listen to Bob Dylan after she found out that he battered his first wife. Look what happened – they gave him the Nobel Peace Prize last year.

    In the end, it’s terrifying. Because if so many men rape, and any man can rape, who’s to say that my own boyfriend hasn’t. Or wouldn’t.

  • LapelosLatorre

    They are coming to Bristol, England, too. I just started a petition to have the thing cancelled. This is bizarre and misogynist. And just awful: https://www.change.org/p/zoe-steadman-milne-keep-rapist-tom-strange-away-from-bristol?recruiter=504277&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_for_starters_page&utm_term=des-lg-no_src-no_msg

    • Rachael

      Signed. Thank you

  • Independent Radical

    Her actions will be seen as expressive “strength of character”, because “strength of character” for women means not having any and suppressing JUSTIFIED negative emotions. That isn’t strength. That’s submission.

    You may not be “strong” in the eyes of the culture, but that’s a good thing. It means you’re not submissive.

  • Wren

    GOOD QUESTION

  • Wren

    OMG I’m sorry I don’t believe a word this man says and I’m extremely dubious about the mental health of Elva. These two people are getting paid for these “revelations”? And a book deal?? We know why men rape because we live in the same culture that teaches them to rape. This seems exploitative on some meta-level that I can’t wrap my head around. I can’t watch all of it cause it gives the creepy feeling and something about it seems like one of those “forgiveness” conversations at church where everyone is talking out their ass and totally insincere. Sorry if I offend anyone but I’m extremely suspicious of this and I think it’s all sorts of fucked up.

    • Melanie

      Indigenous lawyer Josephine Cashman made the point on the Q&A show last night that a lot of women are beaten, raped and murdered after they forgive their partners.

    • Rachael

      Thank you for articulating how I felt watching it – I couldn’t get through it either. It gave me chills – not just the way he was talking (oh woe is me) but how she was talking. It felt very much as you say – almost a religious conversation. And the whole thing felt VERY staged.

    • FierceMild

      It is. And it’s just like church forgiveness which is a power brokerage situation and has nothing to do with actually taking responsibility for One’s actions. It’s disgusting.

      • Wren

        Exactly. The true victims of crime are victimized by God and the church if they don’t forgive. I wonder what would happen if women exchanged forgiveness for vengeance?? Hmmmmm….probably a lot less rape.

  • Independent Radical

    Reporting it to the police may not be the right way to go, because it’s basically fighting male power with male power, but there are others you can report to, such as friends, family, counsellors, rape crisis shelters and the feminist movement more broadly. There are psychological benefits to sharing your story in the right context and awareness of such realities can inspire resistance movements.

  • Kendall Turtle

    This was a wonderful comment! Thank you for your words 🙂

  • Melanie

    Elva was on Q&A, a live, Australian current affairs panel show last night. This question was raised by an audience member. Elva said his proportion of the profits would go to a charity but he hasn’t decided which one yet. They’ve already been doing the rounds for a while now and this wasn’t decided beforehand and still hasn’t been decided, which suggests that it’s a last minute thing that they decided to do because they suddenly realized how fucking appalling it is for a rapist to profit from his crime. She seems like a very thoughtful person, but I feel as though he’s still violating her and every other rape victim out there. I can’t even watch the video. Just the thought of it makes me feel sick.

  • Melanie

    Apparently the rape was committed in Iceland and they have a statute of limitations on reporting that has now run out. How convenient for him. He comes crawling out of the woodwork for his book deal when it’s safe for him to do so.

  • Melanie

    In one interview they talk about how they rehearsed the talk intensely. The thought of that man ‘rehearsing’ his story makes my skin crawl. Getting his story straight, presenting it in the best possible light, probably practicing in front of the mirror. This is so disturbing to me.

    • Rachael

      And you can tell it’s rehearsed. I wonder if there was ever any sincerity in it because it sure as hell doesn’t feel like it now!

    • shy virago

      Excellent point! Just reading this makes me feel sick.

  • Melanie

    What exactly can we learn from this rapist that we don’t already know? It’s not like it’s some big mystery why men rape women. They rape us because they get off on the power and fear and because they hate us. What a revelation. I think Elva probably has some kind of trauma bonding. She’s been corresponding with him for 8 years? And he’s been corresponding back for 8 years? What exactly is he getting out of that? How can she stand to be near him with him staring right through her like that? He gives me the absolute creeps. I would be physically ill and horrified if any of the men who assaulted and raped me showed up on my doorstep.She means well but this is just wrong. It’s so disturbing and upsetting. Look at his bio. He’s just a humble, harmless landscape gardener in his spare time. His other hobbies are reading, studying and helping our lost youth. How nice. Get a signed copy of his book on the way out. Obscene.

    • Rachael

      Presumably she’s validating what he did – that’s what he’s getting out of it. That and a book deal. He should be giving every last cent to help women who have been raped. Frankly, the whole thing gives me the creeps. Have you read the comments? People commending his bravery. What bravery? He’s managed to change himself from “rapist dickhead” to “poor chap who made a mistake”. Clever. Very clever.

  • will

    “even men who are raped would experience it through the lens of sexism (“being turned into a woman”)”

    Yes. This shaming narrative of the pain of being feminized as a man is inevitably at the forefront of any discussions I have seen about the effects of rape on men. Men are so preoccupied with not being female that this seems to be the way they articulate the experience of being used as a disposable receptacle: it’s upsetting because it a feminine experience – OK for females, but degrading for males. It reveals the awful truth of how being female is defined in our culture.

  • ChoderlosdeLaclos

    Men do like to talk about themselves. Maybe you could have a two tier sexual assault system: The first would require a higher burden of proof with longer prison time and then a second level would require a lot of time spent discussing the crime in group therapy or whatever. Men could plea bargain down to the lesser charge. Or go to court and take the risk that the longer term sentence would apply. The advantage of this would be that sexual assault would then have a lot of male testimony behind it and once that happened, once men were on the record saying that they had done this and why, it would help dispel the idea that men are being falsely accused. Men spend so much time individually and in groups gaslighting women that it’s hard to find a way forward until they admit to themselves and others that they are doing this on purpose for whatever reasons (anger, masculine self-image, wanting to control women etc.).

    • Rachael

      This is a fabulous point. Currently we have this bizarre culture where it’s accepted that women are raped. A lot. But apparently there is radio silence on who the heck is doing the raping. I think it would be incredibly useful for men who rape to recount what they did. Maybe we will then address the god damn elephant in the room.

  • Zuzanna Smith

    Yes, he chose to rape her, there is no excuse.

  • Melanie

    I think a lot of rape apologists will watch this and think ‘see rape is not so bad They made up and she got over it.’ It reminds me of that excuse that it’s not the rape that’s bad, it’s the victim’s and society’s response to it. If we just don’t make a big deal about it women will get over it. I can’t see anything good about this.

  • Alienigena

    I don’t believe in the forgiveness mantra especially when it is paired with injunction to forget and when there is an expectation that victims of male violence (whether it be rape, other kinds of sexual assault or child abuse) should forgive their attacker/abuser. Forgiveness is really up to the individual and if it does help the victim that is great, but I would like to see statistics associated with that claim (e.g. do people who forgive their attackers have better long term outcomes than those who don’t?). But to lobby for ‘forgiveness’ is just wrong. Just as the pro-positivity movement around breast cancer does a disservice to those suffering from breast cancer, those who argue that forgiveness in cases of sexual assault is always best are putting victims of such assaults in a difficult position.

    I think foregrounding the experience of the abuser or rapist is wrong because in almost 100% of cases their experience, their views are already given precedence (in families where there is abuse, in workplaces, in relationships (where sexual assaults have occurred), etc.). Their voice is already the dominant one (e.g. under-reporting of sexual assault (because women don’t think they will be believed or will be re-victimized by criminal trial process), police labelling sexual assault accusations unfounded, men in general denying that rape happens). Victim of sexual violence should always have the right to state that their attacker has caused them harm and that they don’t forgive them. There are ways of moving on from traumatic events that don’t involve forgiveness. Maybe the FC therapist who blogs occasionally has some examples of process that are used by therapists working with victims who chose not to forgive (and want to move on, whatever that means), ‘unburdening’ is one that I have heard. I will leave this to people with psychology or psychiatry or counselling background.

    An article on rejecting ‘forgiveness’ culture.
    http://www.stirjournal.com/2014/09/29/why-i-reject-forgiveness-culture/

  • Wren

    “We can’t just punish men (with more aggression carried out by even more powerful men) when they commit what is a logical action given what they’re taught (that men should seek power and that sex is a human right). We need to fight the problem as soon as it manifests, not when it becomes too large to handle.”

    I don’t agree with this. First of all, it already is too large to handle. Regardless, people are discouraged from committing crime when the possibility of punishment and incarceration is real. The functional legality of sexual assault is what tells men that they can treat women like shit. They abuse because they feel entitled to abuse and have been groomed to abuse and know they can get away with it. Men know what they are doing and they admit it among themselves. They know they rape, they know they abuse and they know how to get away with it. But when the shit comes down on one of them, they all get a little afraid. Consequences are the ultimate teacher. This is why legislation like the Nordic Model works.

    But maybe most importantly is that enforcement of anti-violence laws tell women that they are valuable. Women learn their worth, speak up against violence, press charges, and an upward spiral of justice is possible, imho.

  • lk

    Yeah, there were a bunch of comments on there…maybe they did disable comments? But when I went on there, it looked like the last comment was posted 14 hours ago.

    • melissa

      Oh ok.I’m getting ‘Comments are disabled for this video.’ on their TED video.

  • lk

    “Too many of them are just violent, uncontrollable animals. Largely, they are just entitled, disgusting, violent babies. And dangerous to us. And this new tactic is just part of it.”

    I think even the guys who don’t rape or abuse (whether they will admit this or not) are kind of happy about the guys who do. So even the worst guy doesn’t seem that bad compared to the rapist or the man who physically abuses you. The entire idea of male as protector that appears in religious ideology and in romance novels is really about finding a male partner to protect you from other males (whether that be males verbally harassing you, groping you, hitting on you when you have no interest or raping you).

    Most women/girls will probably agree that when you are out with a man, other guys leave you alone.

  • Rich Garcia

    @VWharton:disqus “As a rape victim im tired of the fact that i never hear a single man discuss mens crimes against women. No its not perfect, but its a start.”

    A few of us have tried, only to take abuse, bullying, and gaslighting from the men we confront about these problems, and the women we’re trying to help, but have been psychologically colonized by their association with males. And one of the things I steer clear from is the handmaiden, because I can’t deal with women who have Stockholm Syndrome and think and speak like men do.

    Only women can be their own advocates.

  • Independent Radical

    “So you’re saying rapists shouldn’t go to jail because they may become rapists. Maybe that means we shouldn’t let them out??”

    Jailing people costs resources. We need there to be less rapists in the world. Violent men can become more violent in jails. We need them to become less violent or we’ll run out of places to put them.

    “It is not “pleasurable” to punish “the bad guys” but essential to stop them from further abuse and to send a message to all of society that abusing women is not acceptable. What a novel idea!”

    Having jail be the only way we deal with rapists (I’m not saying we shouldn’t imprison them, just that this shouldn’t be the only solution and that once they’re imprisoned we should work on reforming their moral character, instead of encouraging them to become more violent as conventional jails do) sends the message that violence is okay if you don’t get caught or that the men who do these things are daring rebels challenging the state. Punishments are generally considered a less effective way of modifying behaviour than other methods.

    “I’ve heard this exact line of argument from men many times and it always infuriates me. Honestly, you kind of sound like your excusing their violence and arguing against the kind of justice we desperately need. It’s bewildering.”

    I’m not saying violence is acceptable. I’m just saying that there are better way to stop violent behaviour than to attempt to scare them with the threat of state force (many violent men don’t fear the state at all) or by putting people into spaces that reward and encourage violence. We need to find out why violent men are violent and try to fix those (broader societal) issues, not target individuals as if they were the problem (instead of the society they grew up in), though we should encourage individuals to challenge their societal influences.

  • lk

    It’s an amazingly effective tool and it irks me how much it is romanticized..in so many movies, books, etc with m/f romances the female character is always like “I want somebody to make me feel safe”..and it’s like, safe from what exactly? Bears & tigers..lol, nope…he keeps you safe from other males.

    Even the trope of the dad with the shotgun or the girl with the older brother…when this girl starts dating (or gets married) the whole reason her boyfriend is supposed to treat her with respect is to avoid harm from the other males in her life. No, you should respect women because they are human beings not because she has male relatives who might beat you up.

    I think you have every right to feel rage, its absolutely infuriating to feel like you can’t simply go about your day/night and do what you need to do without a buddy. Women and girls miss out on so many experiences because we are always trying to avoid being raped.

    (I am so sorry to hear about your sexual assault. I hope your body and your mind heal completely!)