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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ending rape forever by teaching males not to rape

Rape: When it comes to ending rape forever, should we focus on teaching men and boys not to rape? - Quora

"A Democrat named Zerlina Maxwell appeared on Fox News to discuss the issue of allowing women on college campuses to possess guns in order to protect themselves from rape; about 1 in 4 college women will be victims of an attempted or completed sex crime on campus. Maxwell said that the solution to rape is not by the use of guns, but rather to train men no to commit rape. Maxwell says that if guns were the answer, then women in the military would not be at the risk of rape; lots of women serving in the military have been raped by male soldiers. She believes that focusing on teaching women to protect themselves from rape is victim blaming and that a woman shouldn't have to change her behavior just to avoid being raped; Maxwell says that the fault of rape is that of rapists and that women are not responsible for the actions of rapists or protecting herself from rapists or preventing themselves from getting raped."

Me: "No.

In the context of developed countries, this is a feminist flight of fantasy driven by ideology and cultural baggage instead of considered thought on what would work to drive down incidents of rape, and will only result in more rape incidents.

Let us look at another context: wars between nation states. Even if we ignore the League of Nations, at least since the end of World War II, it has become an internationally-accepted principle that sovereign nations should not invade other sovereign nations.

As Ban Ki Moon said in September 2013, "Use of force is lawful only when in exercise of self-defense in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations charter and or when the Security Council approves such action".

Has this worked?

Patently not.

Let us return to crime, but stay outside of the arena of sexual assault and rape for the moment.

Criminologists (those who study crime) know that "the victim is not a passive target in crime but someone whose behavior  can influence his or her own fate, someone who “shapes and molds the  criminal”" (Criminology 9th Edition / Larry J. Siegel)

A simple example is that if you're going on vacation, you are advised to suspend newspaper and mail deliveries so criminals do not know that you are gone. Sure, we shouldn't have to change our behavior so we don't get burgled, and burglaries are the fault of burglars. Yet, most people would apportion at least some responsibility to the victim of a burglary if he does not suspend his mail and newspapers while on vacation.

Is this "victim blaming"?

Perhaps, but we need to distinguish between the concepts of "blame" and "responsibility", which are not always the same.

In fact, in a sense "victim blaming" is empowering, since the flip side of responsibility is agency/empowerment. If your safety depends entirely upon other people's actions, it means that you are powerless in this arena of your life.

Even more importantly, this does not mean that suspending newspaper and mail is not a good idea when it comes to preventing burglaries. Or that this is not a better idea than telling people not to burgle homes; good luck reducing burglaries by telling everyone not to burgle homes.

Now let us look at rape.

In "Aggression and Coercive Actions: A Social-Interactionist Perspective" (1994), Tedeschi and Felson note that "A cross-cultural  survey of 100 societies from the Human Relations Area Files showed that  rape is one of the three most heavily punished crimes". So clearly legal systems already frown upon rape, and if we take legal penalties to reflect social attitudes, societies frown heavily upon rape and males already know that it is a Bad Thing. Indeed, one could argue that its very wrongness is why rapists rape.

Also, consider that according to feminists, rape is about (and only about) Power (not sex). Is education likely to be very effective in such cases? Key to the idea of Education as the means to end rape is the assumption that ignorance is the reason rape occurs. Yet, while education can reduce ignorance, it is much less effective in the case of malevolence.

The only area in which educating men would help reduce rape (or crime in general) is if they did not know that what they were doing was a crime. Specifically, date rape, where the idea of consent is contested and nebulous (i.e. it is not always clear whether there is consent, and what degree of consent there is to which acts). Here, teaching both men and women about boundaries and communication could help reduce incidences of date rape.
(As a side note, though this would reduce cases of date rape it would also affect sexual relations if both partners are not on the same script - research [Sign In, Women's "Token Resistant" and Compliant Sexual Behaviors are Related to Uncertain Sexual Intentions and Rape, Linguistic Anthropology] does find that women often say no when they mean yes [or that they say no and then change their minds later])

As a closing thought, Bonnie Fisher studied women in colleges and for those who were victims of attempts at sexual assault, "those women who fought back were less likely to experience successful attacks, a finding that suggests the intended victim’s willingness or ability to take protective action might be one reason attempts to rape or coerce sex failed" (Siegel). Certainly, this is a lot more effective than just telling men not to do it.

(In developing countries, in societies where honour killings, for example, are practised, then education just might be more effective, but societal attitudinal change is a daunting task indeed, and probably wouldn't work given that attitudes to rape do not exist in isolation and it's the general perception of women that is problematic)"

Addendum: Given that Sweden, one of the most feminist countries in the world, has the highest rape rate in Europe, and that this is not only due to increased reporting, this speaks volumes about the effectiveness of education and telling men not to rape as a rape prevention strategy.

Sweden tops European rape league - The Local

"The high incidence of rape in Sweden has a strong connection to nightlife and partying, specifically after-club parties in private homes.

Early sexual debuts, high alcohol consumption, "free sexuality" and the "right to say no" quite simply results in more rapes, the study concludes."
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