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New update at LongHairedWeirdo. It's about sexual assault, and… - John [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
John

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[Aug. 16th, 2006|07:51 am]
John
New update at LongHairedWeirdo. It's about sexual assault, and discusses the question of "why is it considered perfectly normal that there are rape defense classes?"
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[User Picture]From: blackthornglade
2006-08-16 05:28 pm (UTC)
You asked why do we have to have these kinds of classes? Because women are taught to be the peacemaker. We're taught that we are weaker and we have to submit to our husbands/fathers/brothers/pickamale. It may not be *conscious* teaching. But it is still saturating our culture, despite the leaps and bounds that we have come. (This is, I'm sure, nothing new to you. :) )

Men and women *are* viewed differently, with women often being the lesser. (I'm speaking of categories of people, not necessarily about individuals of either category.)

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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2006-08-16 06:00 pm (UTC)
Nod. My question was more rhetorical than anything; "since we know people should be willing to defend their personal space - especially when that personal space is their own body! - doesn't it show us something is not only wrong, but stupidly wrong, that we have to specifically teach classes saying it's okay to do this?"

There's another thing that's been on my mind. Sometimes women are asked to roleplay certain situations, where it is suggested that they say things in response to an action or inaction. Sometimes these things are rude and/or nasty, and it bothered me.

Then I realized that if a woman has roleplayed saying "If you won't use a condom, you're a selfish pig, and I'm not having sex with you", she might feel that it's much, much easier and kinder to say "I just wouldn't feel comfortable; we have to stop right now if you're not willing to use one."

The first statement would be fair... not *nice*, but it's fair. Once it's driven home that it would be fair to say that, it might break through the hesitance to say something that sends the same message, but is kinder/more diplomatic.

I think something similar, but much stronger, needs to be understood about protecting one's own body from unwanted touch. (I was about to say "needs to be taught", and I realized that it shouldn't need to be taught... even though it will at first, of course.)
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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2006-08-16 05:58 pm (UTC)
Are women ever convicted of assault when they fight back? I'm curious, because that seems to be an underlying assumption of your post. I have absolutely no knowledge in this area, and I'm not sure how to find out.
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-08-16 06:17 pm (UTC)
Hm. No, I didn't use that as an assumption. I was thinking more about social mores, not the law. I'll have to re-read it, and see if I can see that, now that you've pointed it out.

Oh, the "no jury in a world would convict me"? That supposed to mean it's widely known and widely accepted that if a guy gropes another guy, he's supposed to be double-damn sure he has consent first. If he isn't absolutely sure of consent, and he *only* gets punched hard enough to knock him down, he's lucky. It's not about a real court case; it's about public opinion, saying public opinion says that it's okay for a guy to defend his body from an unwanted grope.

But if a guy gropes a woman, people are likely to start asking questions about whether it was maybe an innocent misunderstanding, and whether her response was maybe disproportionate. It might not go to court; it probably wouldn't. But she won't feel certain that a physical response to an unwanted grope will be acceptable.
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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2006-08-16 06:53 pm (UTC)
But she won't feel certain that a physical response to an unwanted grope will be acceptable.

I question this. Maybe it's the circles I move in, where No means No. I just can't imagine worrying that a physical response wouldn't be acceptable, if required. And yes, women are more schooled at non-physical responses than most men are.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2006-08-17 05:21 am (UTC)
It might well be different circles or different experiences. This is certainly one of those times when I'd be awfully glad to be wrong!

But keep in mind, I'm not talking about a situation in which it's clear that a guy isn't going to take "no" for an answer. I'm talking about a situation in which a guy is "moving too fast", or some other euphemism. It's not a criminal act (or if it is, it's only technically so), but it's making a person uncomfortable.

My claim is many women wouldn't think "you know, if I hit him, and said 'cut it out, asshole!', I'd be within my rights. So, if I do something less than that, I'm not only acting within my rights, I'm being nice!"

I mean, I know some women who *do* think that; I just think it's not as common as questioning whether a forceful or violent response would be appropriate, with the base assumption being that it wouldn't be.
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[User Picture]From: wolfette
2006-08-16 08:36 pm (UTC)
because early on in life, girls - before they're even young women - learn that "being angry" - even rightious anger in their own defence - is "wrong".

It's a lot of conditioning, and you have to get past that before women even become capable of "defending themselves".

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[User Picture]From: essaying
2006-08-16 10:37 pm (UTC)
Hm. While it may be true that "no jury in the world would convict" a guy for decking another guy who has touched him nonconsensually, I'm not sure I agree that that should be the case.

It's one thing to protect oneself when a situation has the potential to escalate to violent assault -- in that case, violence is justified. But a simple "laying on of hands" -- an investigative hand to the knee, or even to an erogenous zone? Is it really right to react to that with violence, before event trying something like saying "Please take your hands off me"? I don't think so.

I suspect I may be a voice in the wilderness on this one, but I'd be very curious to see a statistic on how many interactions escalate to rape without the word "no" ever being uttered.

Before I'd start training women to defend themselves physically, I'd make sure they were fully trained verbally. It's amazing how few women know how to say a clear, unambiguous "no." If nothing else, learning how to say such a "no" eliminates most rapists' first rationale ("I thought she wanted it").

Another point that I think doesn't get mentioned quite often enough. The one time in my life I ever had to physically resist a sexual advance (well, my proclivity for dating men who later turned out to be gay *may* have something to do with that), both the aggressor and I were significantly intoxicated. I strongly suspect that intoxication (of both aggressor and victim) plays a huge role in a lot of rapes. This issue gives rise to a lot of ambiguities in the meaning of consent, and how it's mitigated by intoxication. IOW, this issue is not always as black and white as we'd all wish it to be.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2006-08-17 04:36 am (UTC)
Hm. While it may be true that "no jury in the world would convict" a guy for decking another guy who has touched him nonconsensually, I'm not sure I agree that that should be the case.

Yeah, that was pretty unclear, and pretty badly put. All that I was trying to convey was "come on, we both know that under some circumstances, society condones even a gross over-reaction in the face of an unwanted touch, so why shouldn't there be an expectation that women will make a measured, but emphatic, response?".

It's one thing to protect oneself when a situation has the potential to escalate to violent assault -- in that case, violence is justified. But a simple "laying on of hands" -- an investigative hand to the knee, or even to an erogenous zone? Is it really right to react to that with violence, before event trying something like saying "Please take your hands off me"? I don't think so.

I mostly agree... but this is a tricky area.

One of the things that's gotten to me in the past few years is my understanding of how some predators work. They will grab, grope, etc., until they are specifically told to stop. And if they happen to find a victim who is too horrified or scandalized or too socialized against making a fuss to protest, they're happy as a clam.

These types of predator know all the lines; it was always an innocent misunderstanding, or a bit of social awkwardness, or whatever. And they stop as soon as they're told to, so "what's the problem?"

I've met one face to face, and it's the only time I've ever regretted not being violent. (It's not a *huge* regret... but damn, there'd have been a special poetic justice in saying "when he put his hands on my wife's ass, and then said to me she was being a bitch when I told him not to do it again, I thought that was his way of asking for a punch in the nose. I just misread the situation is all, you know I'm not too good at social cues, and just as soon as I was asked to, I stopped. So, what's the problem?" No, it probably wouldn't have been appropriate, because the threat was over... but there's still that bit of regret.)

Anyway. You can see I'm not 100% rational about this, but I think I'm in the 90s.

If we saw a film, and the guy was making eyes, and slipped his hand onto her knee, and she hauled off and tried to take his head off with a right hook, yeah, that's an over-reaction.

But if we didn't see see what happened and some guy with a bruised jaw is complaining about that "psycho-bitch, we were just having a little fun, and then *wham*! she hauls off and does this!" and she shrugs and says "he wouldn't listen when I said 'no'", well, we'll never have all the facts. But he's admitted that something was going on, and it's an awfully strange woman who just up and decides to slug a guy. Without additional evidence (like "she's had to punch an awfully large number of guys in her life, hasn't she?") I'd have to give her the benefit of the doubt.

But some folks would ask why she had to hit him. Why couldn't she have handled it without violence?

They've either already assumed he's innocent, or that, even if he was guilty, it couldn't possibly have been bad enough to merit a violent response... not until she proves that it was.

But we know that it very well could have been bad enough to merit a violent response. It could have been an attempted rape, or an incipient rape (one that will happen if he feels he'll get away with it). And it could be either of those without any physical evidence on her body, because she defended herself successfully.

(This is probably getting too long for a comment. I'll continue next comment)
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2006-08-17 05:09 am (UTC)
I suspect I may be a voice in the wilderness on this one, but I'd be very curious to see a statistic on how many interactions escalate to rape without the word "no" ever being uttered.

Before I'd start training women to defend themselves physically, I'd make sure they were fully trained verbally. It's amazing how few women know how to say a clear, unambiguous "no." If nothing else, learning how to say such a "no" eliminates most rapists' first rationale ("I thought she wanted it").


Well, that is actually part of what I'm getting at.

A guy puts his hand somewhere it's not wanted. If a woman feels "You know, I'd be perfectly within my rights to smack his arm away from me, hard enought to hurt!" then there's absolutely no question in her mind that if she merely tells him to move his hand, that she's being nice. And if his feelings are hurt, well, at least his arm isn't hurting as well.

More importantly, if the guy knows she's perfectly within her rights to smack his arm away, he recognizes the polite request as an order to be followed, and that he's lucky she's nice and understanding, and realizes he didn't mean any harm.

It's not that I want people to use violence; it's that I want it understood that the right to refuse touch is absolute in these circumstances, to the point that if a reasonable, but violent, act is used to put an end to unwanted touch, it's perfectly justified.

(I don't want to say "violence is okay if it's the only way, because, again, there are those predators who will play the "it's all a misunderstanding!" game. It should be avoided, if there's another way to accomplish the same thing.)

If people feel that way, I think the verbal defense will come easily and naturally.
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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2006-08-17 11:02 am (UTC)
Hey, long time no see! Good to see you here!
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