If you don't believe most people regard rape as abhorrent and vile, don't bother reading further. Subjectivity and objectivity are awkward partners.
If you disagree with others on strategies for fighting rape, then we can have a discussion. We probably should, because people seem to be talking past each other. I've largely stayed out of this, but as of late there are a lot of people with unsupportable concepts that don't rise to the level of hypothesis, much less theory, telling women what the world should do for them to end rape.
There are several strategies one should use for dealing with any crime or encroachment. We'll break this down into PREVENTION, AVOIDANCE and REACTION.
This is a long term strategy to reduce the incidents of attack.
Now, it's perfectly valid, and useful, to educate young men as to what constitutes rape. Yes, getting a woman drunk and taking advantage of her is rape. Manipulation can be rape. If you don't have consent, it's rape. These are problems that have always existed, and were exacerbated in recent decades due to several factors—young adults 18-21 not being able to socialize with adults around alcohol, lack of chaperonage for those learning how to be adults, failures in both parenting and education.
We can greatly reduce the existence of these type of rape by ensuring otherwise clueless and unfeeling people get a clue and comprehension. Especially as you can look back to a number of movies and other media portrayal where exploiting drunk women is seen as humor.
Deliberate intoxication reaches another level of intent.
Since I can speak as a man who's been sexually assaulted after a doctored drink, it's not amusing. It's disorienting and terrifying, especially when you realize you're too incapacitated to drive away from the event (after dealing with the attack).
This level of intent reaches that where there is an active, hostile threat with violence. There's no moral difference between doping someone's drinks and punching them unconscious. Only the method is different.
No amount of education is going to stop this person because they are a sociopath. They know what they are doing, are doing it with intent, and don't care what society thinks. At this point, "teach men not to rape" breaks down. You might as well teach rabid dogs not to bite, or arsonists not to start fires. It's what they do.
The arson one is a very useful comparison. We can teach kids not to play with matches in a flammable environment, educate them as to the impact. We can't teach an obsessed sociopath not to torch things.
Getting upset over this reality (as some have) is of no help to the problem, and can, in fact exacerbate it despite good intentions.
If you wish to say "X (doesn't) work as a tactic," then you need to have supporting evidence in the form of statistics, experimentation and supporting documentation.
Sociopaths exist, and must be treated as such.
In a perfect world, one would be able to walk naked to the park, carrying a roll of $100s and gold coins, nap under a tree, legs spread, and wake up, body and property unmolested.
I'm going to tell you a disturbing truth: We don't live in a perfect world.
I'm a (Despite health issues) reasonably large, fit, adult male with some training and experience in violence. I'm generally armed. There are still places I don't go, because it would be unsafe. I use locks as needed, take friends if necessary and possible, and on a few occasions, have in fact drawn a weapon to emphasize my desire to be left alone.
It would delight me no end for that world not to exist. But I'm not going to stick my head in the gutter and imagine that a couple of platitudes are ever going to change anything.
Planning to avoid attack is not "blaming the victim." If someone gets attacked, it is the attacker's fault, the. Fucking. End. The attacker is the agent.
We tell kids to watch for cars, even though drivers are responsible for yielding to pedestrians. We tell cyclists and motorcyclists this, too. A friend of mine died when an SUV knocked his bike under a semi. It wasn't his fault for "not being aware." We keep fire extinguishers (well, some of us, the smart ones, do). We recommend not riding bikes down stair railings.
Maximizing one's odds is maximizing one's odds. Nothing more, nothing less. Knowing a threat exists, it is a good idea to try to avoid it. This doesn't mean cowering in fear. It's not an admission of defeat. It's a tactical decision. In a perfect world, it wouldn't be necessary. But remember that dark secret? This isn't a perfect world.
And if you get attacked by an agent, that agent is responsible for the attack. Not you.
Demanding that the world change so victims are never victimized is fruitless and unproductive. It's never going to happen. It's also ENABLING THE AGGRESSOR.
First, some cited facts. Now, this is not to say there are no other facts that can be cited. I'm making my case. I'm making it with facts, not emotion. I'll be happy to discuss other facts found and supported, but am uninterested in hopeful belief without knowledge—we call that religion, and it's not scientific.
Peer reviewed, and deemed especially valid, as Drs Wright and Rossi were opposed to gun ownership and use, but concluded their positions were not supportable by fact. Conclusion: Guns are very effective as a means of self defense:
Florida State University criminologist, Gary Kleck, analyzed data from the Department of Justice's National Crime Victimization Survey (1992-1998 ). Describing his findings on defensive gun use, in Armed: New Perspectives on Gun Control, New York: Prometheus Books (2001), Kleck writes:
"In general, self-protection measures of all types are effective, in the sense of reducing the risk of property loss in robberies and confrontational burglaries, compared to doing nothing or cooperating with the offender. The most effective form of self-protection is use of a gun. For robbery the self-protection meaures with the lowest loss rates were among victims attacking the offender with a gun, and victims threatenting the offender with a gun. For confrontational burglarly, attacking with a gun had the second lowest loss rate of sixteen self-protection measures, bested only by another mode of armed self-protection, threatening the offender with a nongun weapon." (p. 291):
Easy chart here:
Study: Violence most effective means of preventing rape: http://sds.hss.cmu.edu/risk/articles/JudgedEffectRape.pdf
National Institute of Justice study:
Most self-protective actions significantly reduce the risk that a rape will be completed. In particular, certain actions reduce the risk of rape more than 80 percent compared to nonresistance. The most effective actions, according to victims, are attacking or struggling against their attacker, running away, and verbally warning the attacker.
In assaults against women, most self-protective tactics reduced the risk of injury compared to nonresistance. According to the researchers, the only self-protective tactics that appear to increase the risk of injury significantly were those that are ambiguous and not forceful. These included stalling, cooperating and screaming from pain or fear.
One study correlated the victim’s success in avoiding rape during an attack with the methods she used to resist:
- Victims crying or pleading were raped 96% of the time
- Victims who loudly screamed were raped between 44% and 50% of the time
- Victims who ran were raped 15% of the time
- Victims who forcefully resisted (without a weapon) were raped 14% of the time
- Women who resisted with knives or guns were raped less than 1% of the time
Victims who resisted were less likely to have the rape completed against them than were those who did not resist and not significantly more likely to be injured. Resistance with a gun, knife, or other weapon was most effective in preventing completion; unarmed forceful resistance, threatening, and arguing were least effective, but generally did not provoke rapists to inflict injury.
So, there are very good, very strong, very supportable arguments to be made that violence is the most effective response to certain types of rape.
It's less effective for date rape, rape involving drugs, marital rape. It's most effective against direct physical attack, which may or may not be part of the above.
If an attack happens, a response results on the part of the subject. Doing nothing doesn't stop the attack from happening. This is not "enabling." It is, however, ineffective at stopping the attack.
Fighting tactics have developed over thousands of years, and the successful ones persist. Reaction to an attack can take several forms. One can flee. One can hold ground. One can counterattack.
If fleeing is an option, it's often the best choice. One engages the enemy on ground of one's choosing, when possible. There is no shame, no foul, no moral lack in refusing to give the enemy what he wants. Run, if possible.
Of course, for people with limited mobility (or small children in tow), running may not be possible, and a great many activists forget their able privilege.
Holding ground is usually not advisable in this context, because it's usually not feasible. Holding ground is best done with equal force, and attackers tend to seek those smaller and weaker for that reason. However, if workable, it's an option. Apply force to the attacker at once. Don't wait for an attack—the attack is already in progress.
When outmassed, Sun Tzu advises, "On deadly ground, fight." If you cannot run, and cannot match, then the choices are to surrender to the attack, or fight a last ditch battle. This 3000 year old advice is still taught, because in extremis, it is usually the only response that MIGHT succeed. When ambushed, counterattack, fast, viciously, and with no remorse. Attempt to tear a hole through the attacker using any weapon at hand.
Now, here's the part that all these "experts" who don’t actually know how to fight want to pretend doesn't exist: The cites above prove single most effective means of fighting an attacker is a firearm. Thousands of tabulated crime reports through the Department of Justice bear this out. There's no "interpretation." Attacks committed, attacks successfully defended against, guns are the most effective means. End. The cites above are based on years of tabulating actual events. Violence works, and guns are a device that doesn’t rely on the physical strength of the user.
Obviously, odds are better with more training. But guns don't rely on strength, only on mindset. If your attacker can literally pick you off the ground, throw you into a wall, and proceed to violate your unconscious person, no unarmed method is going to matter. There's a reason martial arts have gender and weight classes, and go in small increments--10 lbs or so. That difference in mass matters. A lot.
It's true that armed force might not matter, either. But it is has been proven tremendously more effective.
Right now, those who don't understand this field are bleating the myth of the gun "Being taken away from you."
Please provide a cite on this happening. I'm not going to say it's never happened, but it's a vanishingly rare occurrence. And, even if it were true, if the proven most effective means of defense could be bypassed so easily, then no means of less effect would be of any value at all.
In which case, YOU are advocating, "Shut up and take it, bitch."
Which IS enabling the aggressor.
The solution to violence is almost always more violence, escalated to the point where the attacker decides to disengage. This is how wars are won, how battles are won, how fights are won, how business competitions are won. When the aggressor finds the payoff to be worth less than the effort engaged, the behavior stops.
Is that the world you want to live in? Trick question. That IS the world you live in. Pretending otherwise won't change it.
In fact, you engage in that behavior yourself.
If you call the police after a crime, they show up to apprehend the perpetrator. If the perpetrator resists, force will be applied by hand, stick, pepper spray, taser, gunfire, until the perpetrator accompanies the officers or dies in the struggle.
Congratulations. You have committed violence by proxy, by mercenary, if you will. You have paid (via tax dollars) someone to do violence on your behalf.
There's no moral lack in hiring experts when possible. There are advantages in that they have training, equipment and neutrality (though that can also work against the victim. The proxy has less capital invested or to lose).
But, morally, if you will hire an expert to commit violence on your behalf, you should have no qualms against committing it yourself. If you will refuse to do so, demanding others do it for you, you have surrendered your independence and made yourself a ward and…dependent. And a hypocrite.
The other problem with that is that your minders can't be everywhere, unless you're really rich and hire your own.
Engaging in force doesn't demean you or make you a victim. It expresses your intent more strongly than words alone.
Not expressing intent doesn't make you a victim. You were already a victim. It means you express no intent, and the attack will be concluded in the aggressor's favor. Neutral is only (sometimes) effective for a non-participant. Once you are attacked, you are a participant.
Once attacked, you have the right, per 3000 years of common law, to use force against your attacker, deadly force if necessary. You can choose not to. There are times when defeat is inevitable, and survival is all one can hope for. This has to be judged on a case by case basis, in the midst of an attack. It's entirely possible to not choose the best answer under duress, and this is not a fault of the victim. Agency is with the aggressor, always.
You also have a duty, if you are able, to defeat or hinder the attacker. The next victim may not be able to. You owe it to them to put up the best fight possible, to deter future attacks—we come back around to prevention.
There's no moral failure in being unable to. That would constitute blaming the victim (A previous victim, even). If you can't, you can't.
But, while no one can tell you what you should do, it's dishonest to tell others what they shouldn't do, unless there are supportable, documentable arguments for a particular response.
"Do nothing and wait for change" is not an effective response. Worse, it can have negative effect. While you're "educating" rapists not to rape (And murderers not to murder, arsonists not to arson, muggers not to muggle), you are not putting resources into Avoidance or Reaction processes. There comes a point where you have to realize you've maximized effect in one area, and move resources to others.
Men and women should be taught what rape is, and to not engage in behavior that enables it, or conducts it. Consent is necessary. Without consent, it's rape.
Conversely, as I've said and will say again in blunt language: Violence isn't always feasible, effective or desirable. "Just shoot him" only works for certain types of attack.
And again, these are not exclusive responses. All of them are good ideas. No one should be attacked for implementing one or more, and none of them constitute "endorsement" of the aggressor.
Fighting amongst ourselves doesn't help anyone.
In the interest of fairness, I'm linking to a post by John Scalzi, who quotes someone who claims to have been a USMC firearms instructor during part of his four year tour. I'm not entirely convinced of the former sergeant's expertise, because he repeats a lot of untruths and straw men that Scalzi, whose degree, IIRC, is in the philosophy of language (corrected) agrees with, obviously without credentials.
But, it's always possible to find someone of some stripe to agree with one's preconceptions.
I'll note that those preconceptions are thoroughly smashed by the numerous, peer-reviewed studies of actual incidents above, and hundreds of other anecdotes of people actually successfully using guns in self defense, hundreds of times a day (even The Brady Campaign concedes the number might be at least 100). So to claim that this doesn't actually happen is, frankly, silly. There are much better arguments he could make.
I urge everyone to be wary whenever anyone argues, "You can't possibly be good enough to defend yourself," especially when the military teaches 18 year olds to do just that, every day of the week.
If Scalzi is actually interested in protecting women, I hope he'll link back to this so readers can find a dissenting view to compare, contrast and decide for themselves. Because in my opinion, what HE is doing is disempowering women, creating victims, and promoting rape and rape culture.
Of course, I don’t have a degree in philosophy of language, just decades of real experience with the tools of violence, consults to various clients including the US military, and links to actual studies.
Some select comments from Scalzi's twitter discussion, and my responses:
Invalid comment. Does not add to debate. Men get raped, too. Including me.
I covered that exactly in the first part of the post.
Easy enough with practice, and few > 0.
But? I covered that.
Jed A. Blue @Froborr 5h
@scalzi @mzmadmike The biggest point he is ignoring is that by buying a gun you are arming the person statistically most likely to shoot you
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Wrong. Completely disproven myth. BTW, what are your credentials? Instructor? Researcher? Or did you read something on the internet?