Thursday, September 18, 2014

"Social Justice" Hysteria: Women Are Helpless: Rape Whistle Edition

[Forgot to link to this ad from a campus newspaper somewhere.]

Two aspects of current leftist (i.e.: lefter-than-liberal) delusions about rape go like this:
(1) It is logically impossible for women to do anything to lower their probability of being raped.
(2) If you in any way suggest that (1) is false, you are "blaming the victim."
But both (1) and (2) are false--clearly, unequivocally, undoubtedly false.
DoJ statistics show conclusively that (1) is false. Resisting rape attempts (even, apparently, by simply doing things like shouting loudly) is effective in stopping rape.
As is so often the case, confusions like those in the ad on the other end of the link glance off of the truth. Here is something a good ad might have said:
Having and distributing rape whistles might possibly give some people the wrong idea.
For example, it might suggest to some that most rapes are committed by strangers; but that isn't true.
That would be ok. I'm not sure it needs to be said, but there's not a damn thing wrong with saying it. And it might help. It's not obligatory to say those things, but it'd be fine.
Having and/or distributing rape whistles (or carrying or distributing pepper spray, or participating in or giving self-defense classes, etc.) does not in any way suggest that "the targeted person is primarily responsible for their assault." First, even if it did suggest partial responsibility, there is nothing whatsoever that suggests primary responsibility. Second: no responsibility is suggested at all, of course. Selling burglar alarms in no way suggests that homeowners are responsible--much less "primarily" responsible--for break-ins. Installing seat belts in cars in no way suggests that accident victims are responsible for their injuries. And so on. 
This ad is terrible. It's terribly confused--and confused in a way that is currently fashionable/rampant on the left and among leftier liberals. It's motivated by the false beliefs (1) and (2). And, furthermore, it exhibits a willingness to sacrifice the lives and well-being of real people on the alter of dogmatic ideology. (1) and (2) have become dogma on the left, and denying them often generates vicious, irrational denunciations in response. These are falsehoods that threaten to actually misinform women in a way that might actually increase their odds of being raped.
This confusion and ideological madness is just one part of the neo-PC/SJW madness that is metastasizing on the left. Crazy views bolstered by bad reasoning, dogmatic refusal to listen to or even tolerate criticism, and a kind of moral/ideological fanaticism are now rampant in certain sectors of the political spectrum--and spreading. Confusions about so-called "cultural appropriation," attempts to re-define 'racism' and 'sexism' so that it is literally impossible for non-whites to racist and women to be sexist, indiscriminate claims about the so-called "social construction" of, well, everything under the sun, attempts to broaden/weaken the concept of rape in ideologically-driven ways that classify even things like consensual sex between intoxicated people as rape...and on and on. 
Under the rubric--the misnomer--"social justice," the lefter-than-liberal, neo-PC left is promoting irrational, unjust, illiberal positions--and, as during the paleo-PC madness of the '90's--many liberals are falling for it. Liberals should be rejecting these positions because they are irrational, unjust, and illiberal. But, in case that doesn't motivate you, you might also note that the more liberalism allows itself to be influenced/infected by the irrational, illiberal left, the more reasonable people will be driven to the right. That's what happened during the paleo-PC madness, and that's what will happen again if the madness is allowed to spread.
I've often thought that American liberals are particularly helpless against the illiberal left because it's fairly scarce here. We're used to fighting a conservatism that seems to have become unhinged that we are used to pointing all our weapons in that direction, and falsely see everyone on our end of the spectrum as allies. But illiberalism is illiberalism and irrationalism is irrationalism, right or left. The nouveau PCs are not liberal, and they are not our allies.
The rape ad is just a small thing, but it's a small instance of a big problem.

[Also forgot to address the main text of the ad above:
"The only use for a rape whistle is: if you're about to rape someone, blow the whistle." This is a reference to the current delusion common among the SJWs and leftier feminists, that all anti-rape messages/information should be directed at possible perpetrators of rape and none at possible victims. These are policy implications of (1) and (2) (above)...]


Anonymous Jim Bales said...


So, I have two rather distinct responses, I'll try running with them in two separate threads.

Thread 1.
I literally have no idea where you find people advocating points (1) and (2).

Could you point to some?


9:57 PM  
Anonymous Jim Bales said...


Thread 2:

Let me try an analogy -- imperfect, of course, but I think relevant.

Suppose that, after ISIS/ISIL/DAESH beheaded two journalists, the bulk of the comments made by people (including those in authority) focused on how journalists can and should change their behavior to avoid being beheaded.

Things like:
* Journalists need to be trained not to go to bad parts of Iraq and Syria.
* Journalists shouldn't publish things that might antagonize terrorists.
* Going into a war zone and dressing like a journalist is just asking for it.

When pressed as to why they won't speak out against the killers, some authority figures would say, "Of course terrorists shouldn't behead journalists. I'm just trying to help journalists realize that they can do things to lower their probability of being beheaded. Don't tell me I'm 'blaming the victim' -- it has been shown conclusively that journalists who don't report from areas where terrorists are active don't get beheaded by terrorists."

Would you find this response acceptable?


10:11 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...


One at a time:

"I literally have no idea where you find people advocating points (1) and (2)."

This stuff is pretty common currently--it's kind of all the rage. I've been in several dust-ups around the web about it. It is, for example, on display in the ad I have now linked to in the post--I somehow forgot when I wrote the thing.

Amazing as it is, it is absolutely, positively a thing.

As for the second thread:

Except for the bit about not writing things that antagonize terrorists, I think what you write is sound advice. Of course the *bulk* of attention should not be directed there--but the *bulk* of anti-rape efforts aren't put towards possible victims, either. We want to go after rapists, and make sure that we've reached all the reachable guys, and that any who somehow don't already know that 'no' means no are informed of that...

But none of that--absolutely none of it--is inconsistent with also informing possible victims what they might do to lower the likelihood of their victimization.

The ad linked to, and the other stuff like it that's currently fashionable, all entail or presuppose (1) and (2)...and that's crazy.

10:38 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Here, incidentally, is something along the same lines, literally the first Google result:

"...Yet these warnings and women's efforts to follow them have not decreased actual incidents of rape. The warnings do, however, created a fertile ground for victim blaming. The idea that you can protect yourself from rape implies that if you do get raped, you did not do a good enough job of protecting yourself."

Note: The very idea that you can protect yourself from rape is victim-blaming.

This is all over the place these days, Jim. And it's insane.

10:43 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

"We should combat rape with self-defense? Rape culture wins again."

10:54 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

"Miss Nevada described how individuals need to protect themselves from rape, instead of teaching others not to rape. Stop the victim blaming"

"If Miss Nevada wins this, I quit. You CANNOT say teaching women how to protect themselves is a way to combat rape."

"...telling women to stop drinking to avoid getting raped is simply victim blaming."

Telling women that drinking less can help them avoid rape is a "rape denialist manifesto" and is "blaming victims for their own rapes."

Again..this is 5-10 minutes of Googleing while dead tired...these are not even any of the examples I was thinking of.

11:06 PM  
Anonymous Jim Bales said...


I'll respond to thread 1 in a moment.

I take it that you consider it not acceptable for the bulk, the preponderance, of the response to the ISIS executions was about how journalists can protect themselves from beheadings.

Note I didn't ask if there was sound advice in it. Sound advice, in and of itself, is not a sufficient response to such reprehensible acts.

In this case, the advice is not even particularly sound. The advice is: Don't go where the news is. Don't publish the news in a timely manner. The advice is for journalists to stop being journalists.


11:52 PM  
Anonymous Jim Bales said...


This might be short – struggling with a crashing browser tonight.

The tweets re Miss Nevada fit your (1). Point taken.

The Huffington Post piece, in context does not. The author, Ms Dunn, wrote:
Let me be clear, I don't disagree that there is a troubling culture around alcohol that facilitates sexual violence, but telling women to stop drinking to avoid getting raped is simply victim blaming. Instead of addressing the source of sexual violence, which is a small group of young men on campus, your article focused on women who are almost exclusively the targets of social message about preventing sexual assault. Other than a few cursory acknowledgments that men should be punished for sexual violence, you focused solely on women with the hope that their restraint in drinking behavior will "trickle down to the men."

This is not (1). It is victim blaming, Dunn contends, because “Other than a few cursory acknowledgments that men should be punished for sexual violence, you [Emily Yofee of Slate] focused solely on women”

At Feministing, “Lori” states,
doubting a given account doesn’t automatically make one a rape denialist, but a consistent track record of dismissing alleged assaults because the victims were drunk does,

and cites another blogger as having made the argument that Emily Yoffe has such a track record. Lori may or may not be correct, but she is not committing (1).


12:25 AM  
Anonymous Jim Bales said...


I think the nub is the following:

There is a strong belief that one is implicitly blaming the victim when, other than a few cursory acknowledgments that men should be punished for sexual violence, one focuses solely on women and their behavior.

I find that a reasonable position to take. Your thoughts?

There is also a belief that the preponderance of anti-rape efforts focus on changing women's behavior in an effort to reduce the likelihood of being raped rather than changing the rapist’s behaviors and the cultural norms that rapists use to avoid punishment.

You seem to think that this is not the case.

Finally, there is the point that a strong message that women need to protect themselves exacts a great cost on women. Following all the anti-rape advice places substantial burdens on their freedom to live their lives the way they want. Perceiving that, if they don’t follow *all* the anti-rape advice and they are raped then they will be blamed adds to the pressure to limit their freedom. Shifting the balance of the discussion from the behavior of potential victims to the behavior of perpetrators is one way to enhance women’s freedom.


12:54 AM  
Anonymous Jim Bales said...


Let me close with more evidence that I find compelling that the "blame the victim" ethos is still strong in the US. (This is on top of the Montana judge I cited in an earlier post.)
Last summer, a drunk Arizona police officer named Robb Gary Evans drove himself to a bar, flashed his badge to avoid paying cover at the door, and then walked up behind a woman, put his hand up her skirt, and ran his fingers over her genitals. A jury convicted him of sexual abuse, a felony with a maximum sentence of 2 and a half years in prison, and Evans was fired from the police force after an internal investigation.

Nevertheless, Arizona trial Judge Jacqueline Hatch … decided that Evans’ actions did not warrant jail time — sentencing him probation and 100 hours of community service. Evans also will not have to register as a sex offender. Yet, while Judge Hatch apparently did not view the disgraced former cop’s actions as particularly serious

Judge Hatch went on
“If you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you,” Hatch said.

Hatch told the victim and the defendant that no one would be happy with the sentence she gave, but that finding an appropriate sentence was her duty.

“I hope you look at what you’ve been through and try to take something positive out of it,” Hatch said to the victim in court. “You learned a lesson about friendship and you learned a lesson about vulnerability.”

Hatch said that the victim was not to blame in the case, but that all women must be vigilant against becoming victims.

“When you blame others, you give up your power to change,” Hatch said that her mother used to say.

The victim, who has not been identified by the press, called for Judge Hatch to apologize for her offensive comments, adding that if she had not been at the bar to be assaulted by Evans, “it probably would have happened to someone else.”

(Emphasis in the original)

Judge Hatch was blaming the victim. Judge Hatch let the assailant get off with what was in essence a slap on the wrist.

Montana State District Judge G. Todd Baugh blamed the 14-year-old rape victim for her rape. (She could not defend herself because she had committed suicide.)

When our judges blame victims, we should not be surprised when people claim that our culture accepts blaming the victims.


1:08 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...


Finding a few of my hastily-assembled quotes that don't exactly prove one of the propositions isn't going to do it.

I know you're concerned with the fact that the blame-the-victim stuff with respect to rape is alive and well--I'm concerned about it, too. But it's beside the pint here. We're talking about people who are claiming that merely carrying a rape whistle is victim-blaming...because, I might add, they believe (1) and (2).

Also, to throw in the kitchen sink--no one's telling reporters not to go where the news is...but one might reasonably tell them that if the to into ISIS-controlled territory, they are likely to be killed. And one might reasonably tell them how to avoid this.

It's a good analogy, because as you cannot deny, the mantra of web feminism has become: don't teach women how not to be raped; teach men not to rape.

So, ignoring the false dilemma there:
compare: don't tell reporters not to get killed by ISIS; tell ISIS not to kill reporters.

It's a good analogy with see...they aren't listening to us. It's like "tell burglars not to burgle."

But, all that's irrelevant to my point in the post.

My point in the post is that: (1) and (2) are currently fashionable among feminists and "SJW"s...

6:29 AM  
Anonymous Jim Bales said...


You write:
My point in the post is that: (1) and (2) are currently fashionable among feminists and "SJW"s…

I asked for examples, I took the ones you gave, and did what I could with them. Where they support your contention I try to acknowledge the point. Where they don't I try to point that out. Where it is ambiguous, I try to acknowledge that as well. I don't see much else I can contribute under the circumstances.

As to telling rapists not to rape, I don't think we have made a concerted effort to do so.

In contrast, I think that we have, over the years, been able to shift norms around racist language (e.g., relating to what is now called "the n-word"). I think that we have, over the years (and to a lesser degree) been able to attach some social stigma to drunk driving. But we really haven't tried to do the same with rape and sexual assault.

For an example of a leader sending a very clear signal about what will not be tolerated with respect to how women are treated, check out Australia's Chief of Army's message to all his troops.

Finally, there is, IMHO, a clear need to teach what is and is not rape. I believe that this post by a high-school teacher exemplifies both the need for such teaching and the possibility for process.

The author cites 15-year-olds in the classroom saying things like:
“How can she be raped? … She wasn’t awake to say no,” and, "you mean a woman walking down the street naked is not her inviting sex? How will I know she wants to have sex?"

The piece goes on:
When we reversed the conversation from, “well she didn’t say no,” to “she has to say YES!” many of them lit up. [T]hey said, “that does make a lot more sense … that way leaves a lot less confusion.” When one of the boys asked, well what do you want me to do, get a napkin and make her sign it, about four girls from the back yelled, YEAH!

The teacher closes with:
A strong understanding of consent as an enthusiastic and unequivocal yes is essential to reversing the culture that our teens have grown up in. The amazing thing is the way my students responded to the conversation. Our students want a better way, it is our responsibility to show it to them, even if it is scary, especially when it might make us uncomfortable.

Reading of that classroom exchange is a part of why I think there is hope for a change for the better. Then again, I may just be an optimist!


11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As to telling rapists not to rape, I don't think we have made a concerted effort to do so."

It's against the fucking law, Jim. Has been FOREVER. That's how we tell people not to do things in our society.

If you don't have the mental capacity or good faith to realize and acknowledge that classifying an act as criminal is a "social stigma," then no one should waste their mental energy debating with you. And that, I imagine, is why Winston gave up. Pretending we don't stigmatize an act that we prosecute as a Class B Felony is just juvenile.

6:22 AM  

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