Sexual Assault: Men Must Take the Blame, But Women Must Learn Responsibility

Controversy has raged this week over allegations that some young women were sexually assaulted by two or more players of the Collingwood Football Club following Collingwood’s premiership win on Sunday, 3 October.

Two days later, footballer, Peter ‘Spida’ Everitt, made headlines after tweeting:

Girls!! When will you learn! At 3am when you are blind drunk & you decide to go home with a guy ITS NOT FOR A CUP OF MILO! Allegedly……

One sports blogger says, “I am sickened with these comments coming from a “respected” ex player. Everitt is virtually claiming that the girls have lied about a sex attack.”

That’s a huge misrepresentation of Everitt’s tweet.  Surely noting that the attack is ‘alleged’ isn’t tantamount to saying that the girls were lying.  And is Everitt wrong to suggest that it’s a really bad idea for a girl to get into a cab with a drunken footballer she’s only just met at 3am in the morning?  Frankly, if  he was giving that advice to any young lady of my acquaintance, I’d thank him for it.

The hysteria reached fever-pitch when Kerry-Anne Kennerley, host of Channel Nine’s Mornings with Kerry-Anne interviewed Everitt and weighed in with her own editorial comment, warning that AFL players “put themselves in harm’s way by picking up strays”.

The general response has been outrage that anyone would suggest, even obliquely, that the responsibility for rape, or sexual assault, could in any way be placed on a woman.

I have sat silently through the week, reading my fellow feminists’ comments on this issue and cautioning myself to keep my thoughts to myself lest I end up as pilloried as author, Helen Garner.  Garner found herself accused of being anti-feminist when, in The First Stone (1995),  she lamented the high cost of  (unproven) allegations of sexual harassment and assault on an academic at Ormond College, University of Melbourne.  By stating that the relatively minor allegations (lewd comments and a groped boob) might have been handled without resort to court action and the destruction of an academic career, Garner effectively declared hunting season open, and herself as the fox.  It was an object lesson for those of us who don’t always agree with the feminist consensus.

But, as my regular readers will know, sitting silently whilst steam is coming out of my ears is one of those things for which I have the least talent, and, of course, the temptation to argue my case has become irresistible.  It’s important to state that while my argument, below, does refer to girls in pubs and footballers, I am not referring specifically to the women or the footballers involved in the Collingwood incident as I have no knowledge of the circumstances pertaining to those allegations.

Firstly and unequivocally, I do not believe that any woman is to blame for being sexually harassed, sexually assaulted or raped.  I believe that men have a clear responsibility (regardless of whether they are sober or drunk) to ensure that they have the full, informed consent of a woman before engaging in any kind of sexual touching or sexual intercourse. No means no – at whatever stage of the ‘action’ “No” is given.  And a woman is who is high or rip-roaring drunk is obviously not in a condition to give informed consent.  If a man fails to obtain such consent and they continue anyway – even if the signals given by the woman are ‘mixed’ – then the blame lies with the man.  If men are unable to control their sexual inclinations whilst drunk, they should refrain from drinking in mixed company.

Further, I fully appreciate that sexual harassment is often perpetrated upon vulnerable young women in an unequal relationship to their harasser.  It isn’t easy to stand up to your boss  (especially if you really need to keep your job), or to your teacher or university professor who may retaliate with failing grades.  But, these days, there are protections against unlawful dismissal and universities take allegations of sexual harassment far more seriously than in the past.  My argument, unlike Garner’s isn’t that women shouldn’t resort to the law in what may appear to be minor cases of sexual harassment, but I do agree with her to the extent that there are options that may and should be pursued before taking that route.

That said, and as much as it pains me to agree with Spida Everitt and Kerry-Anne Kennerley, I think the hysteria over their comments is unwarranted.

There is a marked difference between responsibility and blame.  If I absent-mindedly leave the house without locking the front door and my house is burgled, the theft is not my fault, and the burglar is equally as guilty whether he came in by an unlocked front door or smashed a window to gain entry.  However, I must bear some responsibility for having been lax about the security of my home – and my insurance company may rightly take that lack of responsibility into consideration when considering whether to pay out on my claim.

No-one in their right mind would suggest that because the onus lies on burglars to control their urge to steal, we should assert our freedom and independence by leaving our houses unlocked.  Why then do some feminists (men and women) become so enraged when it is suggested that young women need to take some responsibility for their sexual safety?

I think suggesting to young women who dress provocatively, drink copiously and fraternize flirtatiously with footballers on a bender that they bear no responsibility for unwanted sexual advances is not only wildly unrealistic, but downright dangerous.  Yes, ideally, footballers (or indeed, men in general) should behave themselves and act with as much respect towards a drunken woman with her boobs hanging out as they would to a stone-cold sober nun in full habit.  But, realistically, it’s just not going to happen.  That doesn’t excuse the men’s bad behaviour.  However, it does mean that young women must be taught to take some responsibility for their own safety.

I have long been an advocate of raising young women to be confident and assertive.  We need to give girls the tools to keep themselves safe and, where possible, to avert unwanted sexual attention.  We need women warriors, not wimps, and I don’t believe we achieve that by telling young women they are not responsible, at least to some degree, for their own safety.

The difference between assertiveness and victim-hood is nicely expressed in an example from Australian scientist and academic, Dr Marjorie Curtis.

A couple of my experiences may be of interest … The [London] Tube is well known for its gropers, and I remember an occasion where a man started groping me, getting bolder and bolder as time went on. I tried to move away but he wouldn’t let me. He was also making verbal threats. Luckily I was near the door, and when I arrived at my destination I leapt off the train at the last minute, and was relieved to see him being carried away by the train. I was absolutely terrified.

However, I was put to shame not long after when a friend encountered the same situation. She had more confidence than I, and grabbed the man’s hand and somehow managed to haul it over her head, saying, ‘There is a hand on my body. It is not my hand. I wonder whose hand it may be?’ The groper turned scarlet and shot off the train at the next station, to the applause of most of the passengers.

Her action turned a potentially nasty situation into a comic one, and probably put the groper off for life, whereas my cowardice merely left my groper confident that he had power over women, and could get away with quite unforgiveable behaviour.

Curtis’ account reminds me of a similar situation I had with an over-amorous boss when I was 20 years old.  Soon after starting my employment, I found myself cornered in the photo-copying room with my boss leaning across my body, his hands pressing against the wall above my shoulders.  There was no escape.  I said quietly. “Mr Smith, if you make one more move I will raise my knee and kick you so hard in the groin that you will be black and blue for a month.  Further, I will then call your wife and tell her why I am sending you home with bruised balls.  Do I make myself clear?”

Smith said, “Oh, so that’s how it is, eh?”

“That’s how it is,” I replied.

“OK, now I know,” he said, “Thank you for making your position clear.”

I never had another problem with him and, in fact, some time later I received a generous raise in salary.

Now, it was certainly not my fault that Mr Smith decided to sexually harass me, but I did feel I had a responsibility to take assertive action to resist it. If you like, I felt a responsibility to ‘man up’ and be my own advocate.  I refused to be a victim.

Similarly, a woman who decides to go out drinking with footballers should feel perfectly free to do so – and to dress as she pleases and drink as much as she likes – but at the point at which she is invited to accompany a footballer home (or to a hotel room/dark alley or similar), assuming she doesn’t want to have sex with him, she has a responsibility to herself to say, “Nah, I’ve had too much to drink, and so have you, I think I’ll just go home.  Here’s my number, call me tomorrow when we’re both sober if you’re still interested.”

If we are going to argue that a drunken woman isn’t in full control of her faculties and therefore can’t take that level of responsibility, then don’t we also have to argue that a drunken man’s responsibility in making decisions is similarly impaired?  That’s where the legal slippery slope begins. My argument is that drunkenness is no excuse – you may have diminished responsibility when drunk, but you always have the choice of whether or not to get so drunk that you can’t make reasonable decisions.  Your responsibility, whether you’re a man or a woman, begins before you get smashed.

Let me recount another personal experience.  I was just 15 years old when, to my parents’ horror, I started hanging out with bikies.  On one occasion –  I couldn’t have been more than 16 – I found myself, very late at night, in a disused quarry full of drunken bikies.  I had put myself in that predicament.  Nobody forced me.  I had chosen to fraternize with bikies, I’d chosen the cute little see-through top I was wearing with a view to titilliating, I’d chosen to down a few drinks and I’d chosen to get on the back of a bike and go to the party.  At one point, when the party started to get very rough, I felt a hand on my shoulder.  A young bikie whispered in my ear, “Come on, things are getting out of hand, I’m going to get you out of here.”  And he put me on his bike and took me home.  Had I been raped that night I would not have been to blame, but I would have been, in part, responsible for putting myself in a situation where I was at risk.  The young man who saved me, Graham, (I still remember his name), not only saved me, but protected his mates as well.

While men must bear the blame for sexual harassment, assault and rape, women cannot exonerate themselves from the responsibility of looking out for their own security and for advocating for themselves.  Both men and women must also be pro-active in looking out for each other.   In some cases this will not be sufficient, but in many cases it will.  Sexually aggressive men are bullies and, often, cowards.  The best way to deal with bullies is to stand up to them.  The victims of bullying are not to blame for the bully’s actions, but they can learn to take responsibility for deflecting or avoiding the attacks.

I must add, at this point, that I am fully aware that many victims of sexual assault and rape have not recklessly put themselves at risk and I am well aware that once a sexual attack has commenced, only the victim, herself, can decide whether resistance or compliance is the best strategy to minimise her risk of serious injury or death.   My argument here should not be construed as saying that every woman who gets raped has been reckless with her personal safety, or that every woman who is assaulted should fight back.  Context is everything.  Neither am I saying that because a woman is drunk or reckless it should be a mitigating factor in favour of the assailant.  Absolutely, unequivocally, I am not arguing that at all.

But to paint women, universally, as the helpless victims of male sexual aggression is to infantilise us and, may I say, emasculate us.  Women can have ‘balls’ and we need to encourage that in our young women.  We need to teach men that ‘no means no’ but, equally, we need to teach women how and when to say no – and in most instances, that ‘no’ is going to be far more effective before you get into a cab with a drunken man you’ve only just met at 3am in the morning.

Chrys Stevenson

Related Articles

A chilling realisation of how close I might have come to rape by Campbell Mattinson, SMH

Talking about rape by Leslie Cannold, The Age

Time to recognize the ‘me’ in blame by Gretel Killeen, Brisbane Times

24 thoughts on “Sexual Assault: Men Must Take the Blame, But Women Must Learn Responsibility

  1. doug Steley

    I agree 100% the responsibility is mutual Everyone should feel safe at all times but only a fool would walk down a city street at 3 am with a handful of $100 bills and shouting “I am rich and alone I dare you to rob me ”

    It is called “Asking for trouble” Sadly today many young people ( footballers and women included ) have never learned the connection between actions and consequences.

    Reply
    1. Alain Neo

      That’s a ridiculous analogy Doug. To go with your ridiculous statement that the responsibility is mutual. Again, not knowing the exact details of this Collingwood story I do have this to say. The responsibility is always on the person who holds the balance of power in the dynamic. 99% of the time it is the man and it is usually because he is a man. In cases involving celebrities, whether they be rock stars or football players, the dynamic is slanted even more against the woman involved. In any sexual relationship both parties (or any of the parties in some relationships) have the right to say no at any time and if the other person does not stop and forces him- or in very few cases herself onto the other then it is rape. That definition has to be cut and dried for the legal system to work, for bodily autonomy to be recognised as fundamental and for the safety of everyone.

      Next, these analogies of having your house burgled or being robbed of your $100 bills are offensive to every woman who has been attacked, raped, pressured into sex because of those power imbalances. It’s a long way between having material possessions stolen and having your person violated. There is no comparison between larceny and rape. That is why the penalties are very different. Why is it that in murder cases the motives/dress/mannerisms of the victim are never put on trial? “I killed him because he was wearing a purple three piece suit and skipping Your Honour.” “Oh well, it was obviously partly his fault then.” I think it’s because it’s easier to castigate women. Because that is what we are conditioned to do. For pretty much all of recorded history women have been regarded as second rate citizens. This has been reinforced strongly by 2000 years of woman-hating Christianity. It is always, somehow, the woman’s fault. This paradigm has to change.

      I think that is the main point that has struck me here Chrys, that there is no comparison between rape and sexual assault and crimes against property. I’ve been robbed, it sucks being robbed but you pick the pieces up and maybe your insurance company picks it up for you. But there’s no insurance policy for bodily autonomy and from everything I’ve read and everything I’ve heard from rape survivors you don’t just pick up the pieces.

      Chrys, there is a long, long history of women being blamed for men’s actions. Too long and too far reaching for me to agree with you. Over and over again women are blamed for a man’s poor impulse control. In fundamental Muslim countries women have to cover themselves from head to toe to avoid tempting men. In Australian rape cases the victims are grilled on what they were wearing, what they said, what they did and frequently, unless the woman was Mother Teresa herself, she is partly blamed for her own rape. Which brings me back to the asinine waving $100 bills analogy. In the case of women the $100 bills are their bodies. They have them, they own them and unfortunately some men look at them, regardless of circumstance, as $100 bills for the taking. What would you have them do Doug? Hide their bodies away permanently? It isn’t a matter of “waving” their bodies around, it’s a matter of them having bodies. My fifteen year old daughter cannot walk 100m down the road without being hassled and abused by men. That is the culture that men grow up in now.

      Fark, I can feel a rant against the pornification of society coming on. Basically these men, football players and all, are raised in a society where they learn that women are only good for their bodies and a man has a right to own women. From childhood, through adolescence to adulthood they are exposed to images of women in sexually subservient poses. And then assholes like these football players or the Cronulla Sharks and Matthew “I’m so sorry to my wife and sorry I’m losing my TV contract but I’m not going to apologise to the woman I and my teammates packraped” Johns reinforce this message by either straight out raping or taking serious advantage of vulnerable women. And what happens? People like Spida and KAK spread the blame over the women and bloggers like you Chrys, agree with them and the teenagers of today learn that it’s also a woman’s responsibility if she is stupid enough to be alone with a man.

      I also think you have completely misrepresented Everitt’s Tweet:

      Girls!! When will you learn! At 3am when you are blind drunk & you decide to go home with a guy ITS NOT FOR A CUP OF MILO! Allegedly……

      That’s a flat out statement that if you go home with a guy at 3am there’s going to be sex, one way or another. I would have preferred to have read this:

      Men!! When will you learn! At 3am when you are heading home with a woman, if she says no then don’t rape her! Allegedly……

      Or even those two in conjunction, but no, Everitt, following the lead of history, absolved a man of his actions and laid the blame on a woman’s door.

      And KAK calling women “strays”…where do you go with that except to wonder why she hates her own gender.

      It’s not good enough. A big line has to be drawn clearly in the sand. No means no, it has always meant no and if a woman is raped then all of the blame has to lie with her rapist. And watering down that message with apologetics does all women a disservice. If we want a better world for our children, and I really do, then we need some rules laid down in big black letters, ten feet tall, NO MEANS NO. ALWAYS.

      Reply
      1. Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear: Assorted Rants on Religion, Science, Politics and Philosophy from a bear of very little brain Post author

        Alain, neither Doug nor I have said anything that might be construed as saying women are to blame for rape or that no doesn’t always mean no. My concern is that in trying to be politically correct we send a message to young women that puts them in danger.

        We don’t live in an ideal world, Alain. We have to equip women to live in the world we have, not the world we *wish* we had. And, with respect, while you do not like the analogy I drew between leaving your door open and leaving yourself open to assault, you are speaking as a man who (I assume) has not been raped. I am speaking as a woman who has. I was not to blame for what happened to me, but I was certainly and unequivocally responsible for putting myself into an incredibly vulnerable situation. I left the metaphorical door open and someone took advantage of that. I was not to blame for their actions, but I was responsible for putting myself in that position. This, as I said, is not the case with all rapes, but it is the case with some and if we can encourage young women to consider the possible consequences of their decisions, and empower them to say ‘no’ before they are in a situation they can’t get out of, surely that’s a good thing.

        I think Doug’s analogy is equally sound. A man should be able to walk down the street waving his money around without fear of assault. But, in the real world, if he does that he’s likely to get mugged. Why is it OK to suggest that *he* should act with some regard to the danger inherent in his actions, but not OK to suggest that young women should do the same?

        *None* of what I’ve said takes one iota of the blame away from men who assault women. Nothing I’ve said suggests that a woman who is drunk and dishevelled should be treated as any less of a victim, legally, than one who is sober and strait-laced. Every woman has the right to be safe in any situation – even if she’s got herself into a vulnerable situation. How much clearer can I make myself? If she is assaulted, it is entirely the fault of the man. BUT surely it is common sense to suggest that it would have been better if she hadn’t put herself into a vulnerable position with a stranger in the first place? And aren’t we remiss if we don’t tell our girls that and teach them how to be advocates for their own safety?

    2. colin of reality

      Alain

      Lets run an experiment, you get dressed up as a drag queen and go out to the roughest pub in the outer suburbs of your town or city and proposition some blokes.

      In your theory if you ask them not to beat the living crap out of you you will be 100% safe.

      My bet is they will totally ignore your pleas for mercy and beat the hell out of you.

      THIS IS A FACT OF LIFE ! If you do the wrong thing in the wrong place at the wrong time then bad things will probably happen.

      If you act stupidly and irresponsibly then you must be willing to accept at least some of the responsibility.

      Let me know how the experiment goes if you get out of hospital.

      Reply
      1. Alain Neo

        Gee Colin good analogy. You sure convinced me. What a deep mind you have. I could learn a lot from you. No wait, I was wrong, fucking stupid analogy.

        First; There is no analogy between a drag queen and a woman. As a drag queen I’d be pretty fucking obvious, my goatee would probably be the first give away. But to truly experience this scenario I’d have to be a woman who has decided to go home with a bloke (as is my right as a consenting adult) and then change my mind later (as is also my right as a consenting adult) and then not expect to get bashed and raped. Stupid? Perhaps, but many, many women do so every week in every town across the world and we only hear about the ones where the MEN don’t stop. Let’s be crystal clear about this again. The MEN don’t respect the women. Most men don’t rape women. I myself have successfully avoided raping anyone in seventeen years of sexual activity. I have stopped when I’ve been asked to stop, at least twice from memory, and while disappointing I certainly didn’t push the point. Not raping someone is pretty easy, doesn’t take any energy at all.

        Second; While there is an analogy between hate crimes against transvestites and hate crimes against women it still doesn’t translate to this particular scenario. What you propose is to essentially expose myself to bigots and homophobes and then plea not to get bashed. What happens in the real world (in reality lol), in this scenario where this woman was raped by three men including two Collingwood players, is that the woman didn’t put herself in harms way. She agreed to go home with one or both players and then changed her mind. She didn’t go to the local chapter of Misogynists on Monday or Dads in Denial and call them all fuckheads. She exercised her sexual freedom and then changed her mind.

        And honestly Chrys, if you weren’t engaging in slut-shaming why do you have such an obvious slut-shaming picture heading this blog piece?

      2. Alain Neo

        Sorry colin of reality, I seem to have called you Chris. My apologies.

        Note from Chrys Stevenson: Alain, to avoid confusion I’ve edited your comment to include Colin’s name.

      3. colin of reality

        Alain did you actually read the article ?

        you seem to be totally missing the point.

        you are also totally ( either deliberately or through not reading what has been said ) the point of my comments.

        Please first read what has been said then read it again then stop and think about it untill you actually understand the concept.

        If this fails then obviously the concept that people ALL PEOPLE, be they male, female, transgender, gay, straight, or whatever need to take some responsibility for their actions escapes you ability to comprehend.

        Please read what has been said.

  2. alleee

    College is a place young women go to get molested.

    I am neither hot nor a wearer of skimpy clothes, nor did I indulge in narcotic substances at the time of several incidents during my four years of college. My apartment was broken into and I had a struggle with a guy who tried to rape me–guy I didn’t know. My boyfriend drunkenly tried to force me into sex. Three guys sat next to me at events and stuck their hands right into my crotch.

    I did not “go home drunk with a guy” in any of these instances. That pretty much saved my skin that I wasn’t drunk.

    But there’s expectations and assumptions at college. Guys are supposed to get all the tail they want. Girls are supposed to be seeking and experimenting with sex. Or be completely open to any and all advances.

    Just sayin’, a girl doesn’t have to be “some dumb chick” who gets drunk (JUST LIKE THE GUYS DO), to get pawed at.

    Guess what? 18 and 20-somethings are naive and stupid. Dare I say, they’re still children. I know I didn’t know squat about the culture I was part of. I was happy and excited to be part of the “scene” there, and nothing seemed impossible. It’s just that you’re discouraged to rise to the intellectual stimulation you get everywhere so you can sink into the mire of a rather primitive sexual exchange–drunk guys, drunk girls, man bigger than girl, girl passive, man aggressive.

    It just seems that this “equal responsibility” is not entirely true. When it all comes down to a purely Id-like atmosphere, guys DO become the ones responsible to NOT PREY ON PEOPLE WHEN THEY’RE DRUNK.

    Reply
    1. Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear: Assorted Rants on Religion, Science, Politics and Philosophy from a bear of very little brain Post author

      Allee, I agree with you and I hope I made it clear that not every woman who attracts unwanted sexual attention has been irresponsible. I also agree that it is very difficult to fend off this kind of behaviour when you are a young girl. That’s why I am saying we need to speak to young women about this and work through strategies for dealing with it – just as we would give strategies to children who are being bullied at school. It doesn’t mean we condone the action of the bully, only that we try to empower victims to take back an element of control through assertive behaviour. If more women treated the ‘gropers’ with derision and girls regarded the men who treated other women badly as ‘losers’ we may well see a lot better behaviour from men. That said, young men obviously also need to take responsibility for their behaviour.

      I don’t believe I said anywhere that women were ‘equally responsible’. My point was simply that young women have to learn that while, ideally, it would be wonderful if they could dress and drink and flirt as they please and go home with a stranger knowing that nothing would happen without their permission, this is simply unrealistic. Similarly, young men have to realize that the young drunk woman they take home tonight who ‘appears’ to be giving consent to sex, may wake up in the morning with a very different recollection to how the night panned out.

      Personal responsibility is required by both, but the blame for sexual assault must, in my opinion, always be borne by the man.

      Reply
  3. DebinMelbourne

    Oh boy, As the feminist mother of daughters aged 17 and 21, I have had to think long and hard about this scenario in all its forms.

    I’ve been a pretty tough mother. My kids were born in San Francisco, and I remember choosing NOT to cocoon my children from city life. They were trained and encouraged to walk to the corner store, walk the dog, travel to school independently from a relatively young age. This continued when we all moved back to Melbourne. I’ve travelled with my girls on the trains and trams, tramped through the streets of Melbourne, and discussed music festivals, parties, pubs and any other social get togethers. I have appealed to vanity (puke in hair is not a good look), safety (any situation you can think of), ability to travel (felony convictions may make it hard to get visas), and general health and self-esteem issues.

    So, in the end, my girls are allowed to go and do what they choose. Hopefully I have armed them with the experiences and the information to choose what is right to do in those situations (ie, not get so shit-faced they don’t know what they are doing). So far, so good. However!!!! If something went horribly wrong, who would be to blame? Me; as the mother who allowed and encouraged their exploration? Them; for being females in a dodgy situation? The guy; for misinterpreting their availability?

    I have to say, as a feminist mother, I would love to give the Lolita teens a good smack up side the head. But they do not deserve any type of sexual assault. And men who recognise this have earned my respect.

    Reply
  4. Shelly Holmes

    I am not sure what to think here or to say. Maybe I have misread and misunderstood what you are saying.

    This is what you wrote in response to another person.

    “I agree with you and I hope I made it clear that not every woman who attracts unwanted sexual attention has been irresponsible”.
    Could you please explain what you are meaning by this? Not every woman attracts unwanted sexual attention has been irresponsible?
    So woman who dress in skmpy clothes and are drunk attrack unwanted sexual attention?
    I am not sure if I like what you may be implying but like I said I may have misunderstood your blog and your words. No matter what no woman or man who has been raped has any responsibility at all none. All people can be irresponsible and most of us have been. Not just women, all people no matter who they are need to be aware that there are some people who do not understand what being responsible is. This is a society problem in how they have allowed men to treat females in society and get away with it. No matter what no one should be raped and it is not most common when drunk it is most common in a normal circumstance. People who drink to excess can have many things occur to them, hit by a vehicle, alcohol poisoning, make irrational decicons.
    You say “Women can have ‘balls’ and we need to encourage that in our young women. I disagree woman are woman and are valuable to society just like men are. Balls is associating things with masculinity, there is nothing wrong with feminity at all. WE are different and that is okay we are complimentary if we choose to be in a relationship with a man or a woman, same sex, etc.
    A woman is not raped cos it is a sex thing a woman is raped due to power and control. A man is raped for the same reason by a man. A woman can be raped by a woman for the same thing. Reality the person that is raping is physically stronger having balls does not come into it.
    A footballer rapes not just because he wants sex, as most men are able to wait and understand no means no drunk or not.Power and control people rape no matter what booze or drugs or nothing at all, skimpy dresses or not. A person man or woman can go back to someones home thinking they will be having sex knowing full well and then at the last minute going nope dont want to do this, and a decent human being will accept a not so decent human being could assualt sexually or otherwise simlar.

    Reply
  5. Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear: Assorted Rants on Religion, Science, Politics and Philosophy from a bear of very little brain Post author

    “So woman who dress in skimpy clothes and are drunk attrack unwanted sexual attention?”

    Let’s not be naive here. Women, especially young women, dress, in part, to attract the attention of men. Some of that attention is wanted, some is unwanted. As a young woman, of course, I dressed in low cut tops, high cut skirts and high-heeled shoes because I thought some guy might find me sexually attractive. However, of course, I reserved the right to reject any man I attracted who wasn’t ‘my type’. So yes, women sometimes dress to attract men, and sometimes, because it’s a ‘hit and miss’ strategy, the attention we gain is unwanted.

    “No matter what no one should be raped.”

    I agree. That is why I draw the distinction between responsibility and blame. Women who dress provocatively and get drunk will inevitably attract unwanted (and sometimes wanted) sexual advances. That, in no way, excuses sexual assault. There is no excuse for rape. However, it is wise for women to take responsibility for their own safety and not put themselves into a situation where the possibility of being raped is increased. That doesn’t mean women shouldn’t dress to impress, or that they shouldn’t be as free as men to go out and party. It simply means that they need to be aware of their own safety and learn to say “no” to unwanted sexual advances at a point at which their safety is most protected. That is usually in a well-lit bar with their friends, not in a drunk stranger’s apartment.

    But, even if the woman proceeds to the drunk stranger’s apartment, that is *still* no excuse for him to ignore her refusal to his sexual advances. It simply means that this refusal is more likely to be ignored, putting her at greater risk. It is only the safety of the woman which concerns me here.

    “You say “Women can have ‘balls’ and we need to encourage that in our young women.” I disagree woman are woman and are valuable to society just like men are. Balls is associating things with masculinity, there is nothing wrong with feminity at all. WE are different and that is okay we are complimentary if we choose to be in a relationship with a man or a woman, same sex, etc.”

    Women have to stop seeing themselves as weak and submissive. Young women do tend to say “yes” when they mean “no”. I know. I have been a young woman who has often said “yes” when my heart said “no” due to a lack of confidence and assertiveness. Being strong doesn’t mean you can’t be feminine. But being feminine doesn’t mean being weak or submissive or grateful for sexual attention – even if it’s from someone you’re really not attracted to.

    “A woman is not raped cos it is a sex thing a woman is raped due to power and control. A man is raped for the same reason by a man. A woman can be raped by a woman for the same thing. Reality the person that is raping is physically stronger having balls does not come into it.”

    Well, yes, men are usually physically stronger. But encouraging young women to be mentally strong, assertive, confident and secure means that, in some, not all, cases they can repel unwanted sexual advances before it gets to the stage of sexual assault. Rapists, while physically strong, are more likely to pick on a weak target. I agree that mental toughness will not work in every case, but it is a part of a woman’s armoury that should be encouraged, nevertheless.

    “A person man or woman can go back to someones home thinking they will be having sex knowing full well and then at the last minute going nope dont want to do this, and a decent human being will accept a not so decent human being could assualt sexually or otherwise simlar.”

    I agree. I also agree that “no means no” at any stage of the sex act. I am absolutely not giving a ‘get out of jail free’ card to men here. They have a responsibility to stop their advances the moment a woman says (or indicates physically) “no”. There is no question about that. But the fact remains, that “no” is far more likely to be heeded in the safety of the pub, than when the woman is half naked in the man’s apartment. And, you have no idea when you go home with some drunk stranger you just met in a bar whether he’s a ‘decent human being’ or not. Isn’t it a reasonable suggestion that a woman should determine that first, before putting herself into a one on one situation with that person? For the safety of both the man and the woman, is it not common sense to advise men not to take drunken women home, and for women not to go home with drunken men? That doesn’t mean they can’t ‘hook up’ at some time in the future. It doesn’t mean that women shouldn’t dress as they please and party with abandon. All I’m saying here is that young men and women need to be aware that both sides put themselves at risk by going home with strangers they have just met. The men put themselves at risk of being accused of rape (rightly or wrongly) and the women put themselves at risk of being raped.

    Nowhere have I said that a woman is to blame for being raped. Let me reiterate as I have done on Facebook. If a woman stands in a hotel room, stark naked and twirling tassels on her boobs in front of a whole team of drunken footballers and then says “No” when they make unwanted sexual advances, she is not to blame if they proceed. It is their responsibiity to stop once she has said “No”. And I think that needs to be reflected in the law. Provocation should not be a mitigating circumstance.

    But, in real life, women do have to realize that there is a sliding scale of safety and a “no” said in a crowded bar is probably far more likely to be heeded than a “no” given after you’ve got into a taxi with a stranger and ended up in his flat in the wee hours of the morning.

    Reply
  6. Shelly Holmes

    Women have to stop seeing themselves as weak and submissive. Young women do tend to say “yes” when they mean “no”.
    I have met a few men who do similar this is not a gender thing it is a situational thing, humans do it not because they are woman but because it occurs in from what I gather western culture.
    Being assertive or standing up for ones self has stuff all to do with rape. Plain and simple rape occurs due to power and control nothing else. No man or woman is ever responsible ever not in the slightest. Not everyone wears skimpy clothes to attrack a mans attention some people can be in a homosexual relationship and rape occurs there as well not because of the clothes at all. Again because of power and control. I agree with being safe this should be for men and woman as men do get raped as well. This should not just be advise for woman. Being mentally stronger will not prevent rapes. It can possible help with better choices in life men or woman seperate from rape. A man should not be ever protected from rape a woman if she chooses to wear skimpy clothes is and should be allowed to part of culture and freedom of expression. I disagree not all woman wear clothes to attack a partner, this I have found is a male assumption.
    I have not read your facebook page at all, I came across this from a friend who passed it on to me from twitter. I was shocked to read suck a closed minded and bigoted take on the matter. Unless that is your aim to get your blog recognised for all the wrong reasons.
    “But, in real life, women do have to realize that there is a sliding scale of safety and a “no” said in a crowded bar is probably far more likely to be heeded than a “no” given after you’ve got into a taxi with a stranger and ended up in his flat in the wee hours of the morning.” what the hell is this? Most men are not rapists even in that situation, like I have said most men are usually pretty regualar people just like woman are. This is real life I think you need a dose of it as you appear to live in a bubble. Most rapes are not higher from being in bars drinking, safety is a concern you know other things other than rape. Rape occurs due to random reasons and circumstances. You are blaming woman call it what you want it appears you will anyway. What a small minded bigot you are. Would not want to be your daughter or son if you have any or a partner as you are so closed minded.

    Reply
    1. Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear: Assorted Rants on Religion, Science, Politics and Philosophy from a bear of very little brain Post author

      I knew when I wrote this blog post that there would be some who would launch into arguments against what I didn’t say and try to put words into my mouth that I have never uttered. That’s why I have taken such care with my words. Of course, no matter how careful or precise I am with my language there will always be some people who just want to argue what they want to argue without any regard for what I actually said.

      “No man or woman is ever responsible ever not in the slightest. “

      I said: “If a woman stands in a hotel room, stark naked and twirling tassels on her boobs in front of a whole team of drunken footballers and then says “No” when they make unwanted sexual advances, she is not to blame if they proceed. It is their responsibiity to stop once she has said “No”. And I think that needs to be reflected in the law. Provocation should not be a mitigating circumstance.”

      I have made a clear distinction between taking responsibility for one’s own safety and blame for sexual assault. I have said clearly and repeatedly that no victim, whatever they have done previous to the assault, is to blame for the assault. The assault – or rape – is always entirely the fault of the perpetrator. We agree on this, but it seems you don’t want to hear it.

      “Not everyone wears skimpy clothes to attrack a mans attention.”
      I disagree not all woman wear clothes to attack [attract] a partner, this I have found is a male assumption.

      I said: Women, especially young women, dress, in part, to attract the attention of men. Some of that attention is wanted, some is unwanted. As a young woman, of course, I dressed in low cut tops, high cut skirts and high-heeled shoes because I thought some guy might find me sexually attractive. However, of course, I reserved the right to reject any man I attracted who wasn’t ‘my type’. So yes, women sometimes dress to attract men, and sometimes, because it’s a ‘hit and miss’ strategy, the attention we gain is unwanted.

      Of course not all women dress to attract male attention, nor do those who do dress for that reason all the time. My point is simply that if you do dress that way – and there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t – you need to be aware that some of the attention you receive will be unwanted and you need to have strategies to deal with that for your own safety. It’s like letting a teenager drive a car. You wouldn’t do that unless you were sure they knew the road rules. That keeps them and other drivers safe – to some degree. Of course, there is always likely to be some idiot on the road who might cause an accident no matter how well your teenager abides by the rules. That doesn’t mean you don’t sit them down and talk to them about safety while driving.

      “Being mentally stronger will not prevent rapes.”
      “Most rapes are not higher from being in bars drinking, safety is a concern you know other things other than rape. Rape occurs due to random reasons and circumstances.”

      I said: … encouraging young women to be mentally strong, assertive, confident and secure means that, in some, not all, cases they can repel unwanted sexual advances before it gets to the stage of sexual assault.

      This blog post addresses only one kind of sexual assault. I have said clearly:

      “… I am fully aware that many victims of sexual assault and rape have not recklessly put themselves at risk and I am well aware that once a sexual attack has commenced, only the victim, herself, can decide whether resistance or compliance is the best strategy to minimise her risk of serious injury or death. My argument here should not be construed as saying that every woman who gets raped has been reckless with her personal safety, or that every woman who is assaulted should fight back. Context is everything. ”

      “Most men are not rapists even in that situation, like I have said most men are usually pretty regular people just like woman are.”

      I agree. I have never said that most men are rapists. This post deals with a particular situation which is ending up, far too commonly, in women being sexually assaulted. This post is about young women going home with strange men they have only just met when one or both parties are drunk. I agree it is a very narrow view of rape – because most rapes do not occur in these circumstances – but this is the kind of rape that has been in the news and is what this post addresses.

      “you appear to live in a bubble”

      I left home at 15 years old and, around that time, began fraternizing with bikies. At 16 I moved to Sydney with my 21 year old boyfriend who was a drug taker. We lived in a house with a heroine addict and frequented the gay bars of Sydney. I have traveled alone, and in the company of a female friend, all over Europe and have been in many compromising situations in foreign countries. I have had more sexual partners than I should have – wanted and unwanted. I was a female executive at a time when that was very rare, and have had to deal with misogyny and sexual advances in the workplace. I have also worked extensively with teenage boys and girls in a number of jobs and voluntary roles. I have been both sexually assaulted and raped. I speak from experience. I certainly do not live in a bubble.

      I think I have given you a very fair reply to both your comments. Indeed, I think we both agree on this issue. You are welcome to comment and make criticisms further on condition you engage with what I have actually said. But, I have neither the time nor the inclination to engage with strawman arguments (arguments where you wilfully misconstrue my words in order to get on your own, particular hobby horse). So, if you visit again, please be aware that if you continue arguing against things I clearly didn’t say or mean, then your comments will not be published.

      Reply
  7. Richardj

    Hey Chrys,

    That’s a very thought provoking piece.

    My daughter is 17, and although I don’t think she’d hang out with drunk footballers, it’s something that I have worried about.

    I think you are arguing in the same vain as Joe from Atheist News. We all should be saying to ourselves. “I can be smart and not put myself in danger”. As a man I completely agree that all men should wake up to themselves. But also, women need to stop and think.

    Reply
  8. Pingback: Things Findo found 12/10/10 | Things Findo Thinks

  9. Ms. Independent Thinker

    I understand the point the blogger is trying to make: Women need to think critically about the clothes they wear, the people they associate with, and the ways they behave. That makes sense–to a point. However, I have been sexually harassed by men–regardless of what I was wearing, how I had behaved, and with whom I was associating. Though I agree that women need to take responsibility for themselves (Don’t get drunk in a hotel room filled with men), I think there is a tendency for women who have been harassed and raped to be viewed as irresponsible simply because they knew the man and viewed him as a friend. For example, I have worked in environments with men who have approached me as friends and colleagues but hid their real intentions. For example, one man approached me as a friend, never making it clear that he wanted to have sex with me. However, when I met another man while he and I were out listening to a band and made it obvious I had no sexual interest in him, he began slandering me to other colleagues. My (mostly female) friends all wanted to know: “Why did you spend time with him alone?” “Didn’t you know he was ‘interested?'” “Don’t you know that men who make friends with women really just want to have sex with them?” “Why didn’t you known what was going to happen when you started talking to that other man?” Didn’t you know he was interested in you?” In other words, I was being held responsible for believing that my male friend (who was married!) was interested in more than platonic friendship. I was RESPONSIBLE not for his slander but for believing that his intentions were pure. It was made clear to me that I was the fool for placing myself in that situation. I’m an out-going person who has wonderful, honest, decent friends of both genders and who does not believe that men and women can’t be platonic friends or that a woman who socializes with men she is not dating or married to is “asking” to be propositioned and harassed. However, there are many people who believe that it is “irresponsible” for a woman to befriend men, eat dinner in restaurants with them, ride in their cars, offer them rides, visit their offices and workplaces, and even collaborate on projects with them. In each of these situations, the woman is held RESPONSIBLE for her harassment/propositioning/rape simply because she should have ASSUMED the man was lying about his interest in platonic friendship. According to this logic, a woman who is not romantically/sexually interested in a man should never make friends with him.

    Reply
    1. Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear: Assorted Rants on Religion, Science, Politics and Philosophy from a bear of very little brain Post author

      I do take your point, and this extreme is not, of course what I was talking about in my blog. Again, I stress – a woman is NEVER to blame for sexual assault. I guess an analogy is that if you walk down a city street with your wallet hanging out of your back pocket and it gets stolen, you were irresponsible, but you weren’t to blame. It should not be an infringement upon your rights as a citizen to suggest that, next time, perhaps, you tuck your wallet away where it is not quite so accessible to those who wish to do you harm. There is no one thing that will stop the sexual assault of women. And, of course, women who are modestly dressed and have done every damned thing to keep themselves safe, are still targets. My concern here was primarily for young women who, when told they *should* be able to dress as they please, go where they like, and indulge in any kind of behaviour they wish (and I agree – in a perfect world, they *should* be able to) may put themselves into dangerous situations, because this is not a perfect world.

      This was a blog post in response to a particular incident. I hope it will be read in that context.

      Reply
      1. Ms. Independent Thinker

        Thank you for responding to my post so cogently. I do understand exactly what you are saying. And I am very aware that you are clear in asserting that no woman, no matter what, is responsible for what another human being decides to do. I’m a 44-year-old woman and know better than to go off with a stranger or strangers to their hotel rooms. My reason for posting was to point out that there is a tendency for women who do anything at all with men, under any circumstances, to be told that their actions were “wrong” and “irresponsible” because they should have known the man–friend or stranger–was going to harass/rape/assault/proposition them simply because they are men and all women should assume friendly interst is code for sexual interest–and ultimately trouble. For example, I have two very good male colleagues who I see at conferences every year, and I am not afraid to go to their rooms for a drink and conversation late at night when everything is closed and there is nowhere else to socialize. I know them and trust them and they have never ever tried to hurt me or proposition me. But, I also know if anything were to happen, I will be told I was being irresponsible for being in a hotel room with men, late at night, drinking alcohol (even if I’m wearing a suit, stone cold sober, and sitting in a chair across the room)–and that was my point for writing. I really do appreciate your post. I’m writing a paper on this subject and I’m doing research and just happened to stumble upon this discussion.

  10. tash56

    I think the problem is you are making two incompatable claims. They are:

    a) Women are in no way to blame for sexual assualt or rape under any circumstances

    and

    b) Women should accept responsibility for the preservation of their saftey

    I agree with a, not b, and find it a trick of convoluted intellectualisation to claim that these positions are not mutually exclusive.

    Reply
    1. Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear: Assorted Rants on Religion, Science, Politics and Philosophy from a bear of very little brain Post author

      Let’s try to explain it this way, Tash. you decide to go out for the day and you leave your house unlocked. When you come home, you find you’ve been burgled. You ring your insurance company. They say, “Sorry, we can’t reimburse you for your loss – you should have locked your house.”

      Isn’t that a reasonable position for the insurance company to take?

      The insurance company isn’t saying it’s your fault your were burgled. You certainly didn’t ‘ask’ to be burgled. The fact that your house was open is absolutely 100 per cent no excuse for the burglar’s crime – “Well, you can’t blame me for nicking her TV, she left the fuckin’ door open!”

      The police will take a different view to the insurance company. They will still pursue the burglar for invading your personal space and stealing your property. He is still a criminal and the fact that you left your door open doesn’t ameliorate that one bit.

      It is also very possible that, even if you had locked the doors and windows the burglar would still have broken into your house and stolen your things. Locking your door doesn’t prevent burglary, but it’s commonly felt that it’s not a bad idea to deter it. It’s something you tend to do as a responsible home owner.

      That is all I’m suggesting here. That, as the ‘owner’ of your own body, you have to take some responsibility for its safety – for your own good. But, if you don’t and you are the victim of an assault, that in NO way excuses the person who assaulted you.

      Reply

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