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Innerbrat
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Dealing with the subjects, rather than the objects. 
26th-Mar-2010 10:22 am
pussy
Trigger Warning: This post is about rape.

There is an interesting post on Feministe by Thomas Millar about Predator Theory - a model that attempts to explain why some men rape, and sharing some interesting studies within certain confines - that of a cis- and hetero- dominated space, and concerning only male-committed rapes that occur between acquaintances - which is by far the most common situation.

It's a good post, and worth a read, but here are some of the take-home messages as far as I'm concerned. A lot of them are unsurprising, but it's worth noting that they tie in with each other.

  • a very small percentage of men commit the vast majority of rapes. A large number of rapists are repeat offenders.

  • most rapes involve drink or intoxication, rather than force

  • rapists are more likely than other men to commit other violent acts

  • rapists are more likely than other men to harbour misogynistic opinions and attitudes

  • the 'undetected rapist' and the convicted rapist differ in modus operandi, not in attitude/motivation


I think this is important because sometimes there's a tendency in discussions about rape to seperate the kind of incident I encountered - a violent outdoor attack from a stranger - from "date rape" and, even if the existence and dominance of the latter is accepted, it's often treated like a seperate entity to violent assault; something that can't properly be dealt with because it's difficult to convict. The studies presented by Thomas (and I don't claim for a second that it's a comprehensive review) counteract that assumption - men who are predisposed to rape, wherever that predisposition comes from, will rape, and as often as not, it's a premeditated, deliberate act. 'Violent' rape and the more common variety come from a similar root cause, and if we tackle that root cause - for example, a permissive misogynistic culture of victim blaming* - then we can reduce the number of undectected rapes at the same time as tackling the violent rapes that actually feature on our cultural radar.


*I am not setting out, today, to prove to you that is the cause. But as I suspect it is, I'm leaving that claim there.
Opinions 
26th-Mar-2010 10:25 am (UTC)
Is it possible for you to put this under a cut? I saw the subject line after I saw the post, so I still got triggered. :/
26th-Mar-2010 10:27 am (UTC)
Of course. I'm sorry.
26th-Mar-2010 11:03 am (UTC)
Oh, no, there's no reason to be sorry, LJ's a jerk with stuff like this, a warning at the top would be enough on any other server.

Thank you. <3
(Deleted comment)
26th-Mar-2010 11:24 am (UTC)
Thanks for the info.
26th-Mar-2010 11:28 am (UTC)
# a very small percentage of men commit the vast majority of rapes. A large number of rapists are repeat offenders.

In an odd sort of way, that's rather comforting.
26th-Mar-2010 11:55 am (UTC)
I know what you mean.

Though I think it makes prevention harder, because I still believe the larger culutral context we live in is key to causing those men to offend. the problem is, it's harder to affect a change in that cultural make up if met with the majority of people saying "I don't commit rape, so why should I change?"
26th-Mar-2010 12:40 pm (UTC)
Hrm, I would say that "not changing gives people who ARE rapists the idea that what they're doing is acceptable", perhaps.
26th-Mar-2010 12:42 pm (UTC)
Yep. And then hope people listen.
26th-Mar-2010 02:56 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean. It's a comfort to me to know that only a small minority of men are predisposed to rape, but I worry that upon hearing that, a lot of men would shrug and say, "Oh well, it's not such a big problem then!"
26th-Mar-2010 03:26 pm (UTC)
This

And my other worry is men predisposed to it will whinge that "they couldn't help it because it was in their genes."

26th-Mar-2010 03:31 pm (UTC)
This is why, contrary to my own phrasing in the post, I tend to shy away from phrases that condemmn a person rather than an action.

I may be incorrect in doing so, as it's shown that men who rape tend to do so again, but the general rhetoric these days seems to err towards personal qualities being innate. Which is bullshit.
26th-Mar-2010 03:38 pm (UTC)
That's not why I rage against people who do horrid things. I get mad because they chose to do it in the first place, not because I believe it is innate.

I agree, it's bullshit.
26th-Mar-2010 02:54 pm (UTC)
Interestingly, I was reading a web page this week with similar information WRT rapists. Though it's a bit less feminism-friendly. :/
26th-Mar-2010 03:06 pm (UTC)
I would have thought most rapes involved force and not the other way around. This is a very interesting study, thanks for postinig!

Upon reading I wondered how many rapists actually believe what they do isn't rape. I wonder whether in their own mind they are convinced that if there is no force involved (as a result of drunkenness, drugs, or other) there is no rape. Which would explain why they do it, of course.
26th-Mar-2010 03:14 pm (UTC)
I wonder whether in their own mind they are convinced that if there is no force involved (as a result of drunkenness, drugs, or other) there is no rape.

I imagine that a lot of them tell themselves that. "I didn't force her, so it wasn't rape!" And I imagine they also delude themselves into believing that if there's no violent struggle, then that alone is a form of consent.

What amazes me is that such aggressively misogynistic men have enough female acquantances to prey upon. You'd think women would steer well clear of them.
26th-Mar-2010 03:47 pm (UTC)
the trouble is, that guys don't tend to go around with "Hi I'm a misogynist asshole" writen on their forehead. Mostly because they don't think it's a big deal and they don't think their opinions are unpopular or controversial or even remotely possibly wrong.

So it's a giant fucking shock when one's male friend turns out to be a rapist. And that's how women learn to treat all men like potential rapists.

When you're a woman, you are never allowed to grow out of stranger danger.
26th-Mar-2010 03:56 pm (UTC)
I suppose they must learn to conceal their hostilty towards women, and younger women will be less likely to spot the signs.
26th-Mar-2010 05:16 pm (UTC)
Uh...that's not the way it works.

Rapists aren't always scary men that jump out of the bushes, they're often guys that would otherwise seem "normal" and "nice" IRL.

26th-Mar-2010 03:37 pm (UTC)
I find it interesting that you thought that, although not altogether surprised. My opinion is that we as a collective are confused because violent rapes are easier to prove, and therefore convict and therefore the majority of identified and convicted rapes are in fact violent. There's no room for doubt if violence is concerned.

I think you're probably right, in the second idea. If you look at the original post, the studies asked questions of men which had no wriggle room from an outsider perspective, but which didn't involve the explicit word 'rape'. There's a certain mindset that's required for that justification, though, which is why it's so rare.
26th-Mar-2010 04:46 pm (UTC) - policy and the power law
The article reminded me a of a recent piece Malcolm Gladwell wrote for the New Yorker about the power law distribution in statistics and how it might apply to public policy.

Most people are familiar with the idea of bell curves in statistical studies, but that doesn't always apply. In some cases, like the ones Gladwell mentions in his article, a power law distribution is more appropriate (for example, the Long Tail), and it suggests different, and possibly far more effective, public policies for addressing a problem.

I'm wondering now if the same might be true for Predator Theory.
27th-Mar-2010 03:33 pm (UTC)
I read this same post, and while I wasn't exactly surprised that the vast majority of rapes are committed by a small number of men, I was surprised (and horrified) that so many men had committed at least one rape. I think you're right, that what's needed is a cultural change, and I wonder if this would be a good place for application of broken window theory: Show active disapproval of casual misogynistic remarks, victim-blaming, rape humor, and the like, and maybe you can shift these men's mindsets before the escalate to actually raping. (On further consideration, I think this would probably work for the large percentage of men who commit just one or two rapes, but probably wouldn't be enough to stop the worst predators - they're probably so hardened in their attitudes that it would take something drastic to change them.)
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