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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Taming the tiger

Ed posted at Dispatches today about Slut Walk and Vox Day's reaction to it. My favorite comment of the thread so far, hands down, comes from Eric:
Just as you don't teach a tiger to stop devouring steak by continuously waving a bloody t-bone in front of it...  
He's not just wrong in comparing men to beasts, he's wrong in his understanding of beasts. Multiple-fold analogy fail.  
Because you do in fact train animals to ignore food by putting food in front of them, then giving them an alternate reward when they succeed in ignoring it. Over time, you can balance a steak on a dog's nose if you really have the patience to go that far. Though I'm not sure I want to try and analogize that. :)
I think I do, actually. The Vox Days of the world are apparently rape-tigers. No, that's too flattering an image...let's stick with rape-dogs. And the only way they can learn not to eat the tempting steak/rape the scantily dressed woman in front of them is to be desensitized. So the solution, the way to get them to stop, is by repeated exposure to tempting steaks/scantily clad women. The way to reduce sexual attacks, or at least the belief that sexual attacks are provoked, is to have more women dress like "sluts." Which is precisely what the Slut Walkers are encouraging.

So congrats, Vox, you actually stumbled onto a viable hypothesis. It's unfortunate that it happens to be diametrically opposed to what you thought. That's what happens when you switch the responsibility for rape from victims back onto rapists.

Of course, it's not actually true that there's a direct inverse relationship between the amount of clothing women wear in a given society and their personal safety. But it does seem to be the case that in societies where women are free to be more sexually liberated they are also safer, and vice versa. You'd think that would be common sense, wouldn't you?

9 comments:

  1. Nice take down, and, in any case, is there even a shred of evidence that women's attire actually has any relationship whatsoever to the occurrence of rape? I've never been of the impression that a rapist turns down an opportunity to rape because a woman's clothes aren't revealing enough to motivate him. Are beaches full of men just itching to commit rape? I'm sure there would be a few such men, but they're the same men who think about raping women no matter where they might be. They don't a need a trigger. Their own fantasies are sufficient.

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  2. So, is there no such thing as dressing provocatively?

    How much rape is date rape, and does it not make sense that men who commit date rape might initially select woman who dress provocatively?

    I am not trying to excuse the behavior of rapists, but it seems to me that the physiological responses of the genders to sexual stimuli have, in fact, been shown to be quite different.

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  3. So, is there no such thing as dressing provocatively?

    Sure there is. Dressing provocatively is dressing in such a way as to attract attention and perhaps lustful thoughts. Not sexual assault.

    How much rape is date rape

    About 80%, for college students.

    and does it not make sense that men who commit date rape might initially select woman who dress provocatively?

    Not really. It makes a lot more sense that they would select someone vulnerable. They might differentiate amongst vulnerable women in favor of how one of them looks, but if you're not vulnerable then that isn't an issue.

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  4. What does "vulnerable" mean? Small? Weak? Inebriated/high? Emotionally scarred?

    And how would vulnerability be recognized? On sight? After conversation? Perhaps a woman who dressed more provocatively than others is giving signals of vulnerability in addition to sexual availability? Would it be unreasonable to assume that such a woman might have esteem issues?

    The other aspect to this is that, according to the link you provided, alcohol plays an large role in acquaintance/date rape. And not just for the victim, evidently, as inebriation of only the assailant is positively associated with sexual assault.

    Ed derides Vox Day's implication "that men just can't help themselves". It seems to me that many can not help themselves - especially if alcohol is added to the mix of sexual expectations and stimulation based on provocative dress.

    Is this an excuse for men under the influence of alcohol/drugs who commit acquaintance rape of provocatively dressed women? The easy answer is "No", but I wonder what the legal issues might be. Does inebriation ever provide an extenuating circumstance?

    Pragmatically speaking, however, if you were a parent advising your daughter on how best to avoid being raped, would you in addition to warning her about alcohol, drugs, and the differing sexual stimulation characteristics of males vs females, not also include a caution not to dress provocatively? I know I would.

    We may not agree with or like the implications of the cop's statement that "One of the safety tips was for women not to dress like ‘sluts", but it sure seems like good advice.

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  5. Gingerbaker,

    The word "vulnerable" means being exposed to the possibility of attack. Having few if any defenses. Responsible, non-victim-blaming guides for women on how to be safe from rape tell women how to be safe in general: be conscious of your surroundings, be careful who you drink with, make sure you have a safe ride home, and so on.

    A woman's dress does not make her more vulnerable, except to the extent that things like high heels and tight clothing can make it more difficult to run away. There is no evidence that women who look "sexy" are chosen for rape over women who are easier to attack. Period.

    Ed derides Vox Day's implication "that men just can't help themselves". It seems to me that many can not help themselves - especially if alcohol is added to the mix of sexual expectations and stimulation based on provocative dress.

    We call people who can't help themselves from harming others psychopaths, and we lock them up. Fortunately the vast majority of men are not psychopaths.

    Is this an excuse for men under the influence of alcohol/drugs who commit acquaintance rape of provocatively dressed women? The easy answer is "No", but I wonder what the legal issues might be. Does inebriation ever provide an extenuating circumstance?

    I dearly hope not.

    Pragmatically speaking, however, if you were a parent advising your daughter on how best to avoid being raped, would you in addition to warning her about alcohol, drugs, and the differing sexual stimulation characteristics of males vs females, not also include a caution not to dress provocatively? I know I would.

    No, I would not.

    We may not agree with or like the implications of the cop's statement that "One of the safety tips was for women not to dress like ‘sluts", but it sure seems like good advice.

    If by "good" you mean utterly useless except for the purpose of inflicting shame and guilt, yes.

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  6. Are you deliberately removing comments now Gretchen, or are you experiencing technical difficulties?

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  7. Technical difficulties. Blogger had a fit a few days ago. It removed several comments from my blog as well as deleted an edit that I added to one of my posts. I'm thinking of abandoning it altogether in favor of WordPress.

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  8. I just started a test blog (my first) for a local store, and if my experience is indicative, Wordpress (free hosting) bogs down a *lot* sometimes, and I have a fiber-optic connection. I haven't tried Blogger. :)

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