Friday, 3 October 2008

Asking for it

After so much censure of rape and the men who do it, I can't believe 46% of Northern Irish students still think a woman who flirts is partly responsible for being raped.

And 30% think a woman is partly to blame if she wears revealing clothing.

These extraordinary figures are from a survey by Amnesty International. Not from 50 years ago but right now, when supposedly attitudes have moved forward a bit.

Sorry, but as I see it men are 100% responsible for raping a woman, whatever her behaviour beforehand. If she doesn't want sex, that's her choice, and all a man has to do is keep his pants zipped up. What's so hard about that?

Men still think they have a right to sex and if the woman complains they still blame the victim. Well, obviously she was "being provocative", she was "asking for it", she was "desperate for a good seeing-to."

I'm surprised the excuses stop at flirting. Why don't men just say "But she had breasts, what did she expect?" or "She had long hair, it could only mean one thing."

Funnily enough, the opposite doesn't apply. If a man gets attacked, nobody blames him. Nobody points to the beer, the tight shirt, the bare flesh or the look in his eyes. Or his inappropriate behaviour. Oh no, he was attacked for no reason at all, right out of the blue, by a complete lunatic. What do you mean it was his fault? Come outside and say that....

So much for feminism being obsolete.


  1. Ah not keen on being the first on these ones but here goes. The premise for scantily clad or provocative women 'asking' for it assumes that rape is a sexual crime, it's not. It's about power and domination and aggression and I'm so disappointed that we haven't moved on in terms of this. I have to say though that sometimes I see young women dressed in their underwear on the outside, I do wonder what message it sends to testosterone charged men. No excuse for violent crime though.

  2. Baino, very true, it's really about power and domination. Which is why all the excuses about 'sexual' come-ons are particularly bogus. As for underwear on the outside, of course visible bras have been normal practice for quite a while.

  3. Aargh :( I just wrote a huge comment, possibly larger word count than your post and it disappeared. I don't have the energy to write it all again, so I will simply say "what part of no don't you understand?" applies to everything in life from telling a salesperson that you don't want to buy something to someone who touches you that you don't want to be touched. I go to a shoeshop, flirt and frolick with all the shoes I fancy, perhaps even contemplate buying a pair but I have every right to leave the shop without buying anything. Does it matter even if I take my money out to pay for it and change my mind the last minute leaving the shoes on the counter? Maybe the shop owner will curse at me under his breath but won't sue me or chase me down the street and MAKE ME buy the damn shoes. Why should sex be any different? What if I change my mind before going into bed with someone, what if I change my mind while having sex with someone. Why can't I just say STOP and leave?
    Anyways, the whole comment was along these lines. I agree with Baino on power, domination and aggression.
    Great post, as always.

  4. GayƩ - Sorry about the lost comment. Blogger, eh? (I usually save a long comment before I post it, just in case).

    What a brilliant analogy between sex and shopping (Carrie would love it!). I think that's absolutely similar, as you say a shop won't force us to buy something just because we've shown every sign of wanting it. A show of interest is not the same as a commitment to buy. Perhaps men don't do enough shopping to understand the difference!

    Indeed, What part of no doesn't he understand? Even if the woman is already undressed and in bed, she's still entitled to say thanks but no thanks.

  5. All of which proves that it's still a man's world. This needs to change, but I fear it never will.

    How disheartening that young people in the 21st century still cling to such archaic and absolutely wrong notions, and that violent crimes are still being excused because "boys will be boys."

  6. Heart - Yes, how stubbornly that mistaken old notion "Boys will be boys" lingers on, despite the obvious fact that boys are very much what they're taught to be rather than any 'natural' inclination. They could just as easily be taught to respect and cherish the opposite sex.

  7. Good post Nick.
    I veer off on a similar direction with it: over the years I've participated in "Give us back the Night" marches where women (and enlightened men) march with candles in the night. The reason I participate, apart from the obvious, is that more times than I care to count, cops have stopped me when I've been out running on a well lit street at night (because I damn well choose to!) and have said I should only run in the daytime and erm, maybe not alone and to go home now.
    Whilst glad of the cops' interest in my safety, I get absolutely beyond incensed that their perception of the male sense of entitlement to rape or assault is so entrenched in the fabric of our society that women should stay home and not provoke it.
    I've always responded with:
    "So curfew those night-crawling, marauding, raping and pillaging men, maybe?"
    And I agree with Gaye, what part of no??

  8. www - Ah yes, I remember many Reclaim the Night marches in London many years ago. Unfortunately they never had much impact and faded away. Yes, it incenses me too that women are advised to stay at home in case men decide to molest them. Why aren't men who risk being beaten up or stabbed by other men given the same advice?

  9. I am surprised at those survey results but I would like to see what question was asked. The situation where a guy goes back to a girl's flat, they get naked and engage in everything but intercourse and then the woman says no is different to attacking a stranger. When I was at university I remember a big 'no means no' campaign that was re-emphasizing the point that no matter how far things have gone a man does not have a right to intercourse.

  10. Aidan - I was trying to find out the exact questions but no luck. Yes, those situations are different in type but of course they both involve the assumption that violence is acceptable. And it's a shame the No means No campaigns have had so little effect - there's still so much entrenched male conditioning to wear down.

  11. I do think that those 'No means no' campaigns had an effect but obviously it is a message that needs to be continually reinforced.

  12. Not quiet to the point, but I am distressed by the way some parents dress their little girls, sometimes as young as four, in 'adult' clothes, even high heels and handbags.
    Little girls aren't in a position to say 'no'.
    I wonder where the parents' heads are.

  13. Aidan, you're right, the message that women are not obliged to satisfy men's sexual needs takes a long time to percolate!

    Mary - I wonder if the problem with 'adult' clothes is not so much the clothes themselves but what adults read into them. And of course paedophiles aren't deterred by any sort of clothing, sexy or otherwise. But I draw the line at high heels which are unhealthy at any age.

  14. Red - I know, it's unbelievable. Obviously, women love violence and do anything they can to encourage it....

  15. I am truly horrified by these survey results. I really hope that they are not true and something went wrong in during the research. I really can hardly believe it. Sickening stuff.

  16. Conor, I'd like to know more about how the survey was carried out but I can't find the details. Whatever the figures, though, it's shocking that such attitudes still exist.

  17. We all seem very shocked by these statistics, but if you read through the comments there are several little spots where this thinking has seeped through.

    So far everyone seems to agree whole-heartedly with your post, and expressed disgust at the notion of thinking a woman has brought rape on herself - yet there has been more than one mention of "inappropriate" clothing sending messages to people, and distinguishing between random attacks and a woman changing her mind after agreeing to participate in other sexual acts. I think that is as telling as the stats.

    And ditto to everything gaye said - brava!

  18. FG - True, some of the comments are less than 100% behind the innocent woman. Personally I really can't compromise on this, whatever a woman's behaviour and dress, whatever the supposed message, if she doesn't want sex, that's a no. The same as if she enthuses for half an hour about Indian food and then opts for Italian, that's a no to Indian.