Monday, June 20, 2005


Apparently while I was away there was a blogosphere rape controversy. What a nice thing to come back to.

I find myself wondering how many of the men who argue that it's incumbent on women to prevent rape by restricting their behavior (as one commenter at Pandagon says, so very reasonably, "this girl wasn't forced to go to Aruba and wasn't forced to get drunk and wasn't forced (from what i've heard) to leave the bar with a group of relative strangers.") also believe that the problem with feminists is that they're so angry, and such man-haters. Because if men, in the aggregate, are so rape-prone that whole countries ought to be considered off-limits to women who don't want to be raped (no one forced her to go to Aruba; American women need to remember that we're perceived as "easy" abroad), so rape-prone that women must never let their guards down for a minute, so rape-prone that our default assumption should be that any man might rape us... well, I'd say that the only appropriate response to that situation would be anger. And hate.

It's a classic anti-feminist double-bind. Women are supposed to believe that men's sexuality is so powerfully animalistic that they can't be expected not to attack women, and we're supposed to believe that men are good guys. We're supposed to teach our daughters never to be alone with a boy, and yet we're not supposed to embitter them against men. We're supposed to constrict our lives so extremely that no man could ever perceive even the slightest hint of a sexual invitation, and we're supposed to be okay with it.

No thanks.

Anti-feminists love to claim that feminists believe that "all men are rapists."[1] Nothing works them into a condemnatory lather more quickly. But when they say that women ought to know better than to go to Aruba, drink alcohol, get in a guy's car, go back to his dorm room, leave the bar with him, of course they are saying precisely the same thing. The difference, I suppose, is in how women are supposed to feel about it: angry, or placidly resigned.

I don't hate men. (Does it really need to be said? I'm afraid that it does.) But I don't believe that men lack the capacity to control their sexual urges, either. If I did, I'd buy a gun and shoot any man who got too close to me or my female loved ones. If women truly are the ones responsible for preventing rape, that would be the most sensible way to do it, right? But strangely, the helpful advice being doled out in the blogosphere has much more to do with dressing modestly and staying inside after dark. And keeping a positive attitude, because, really, otherwise we're just going to alienate men.

[1] I notice that this quote from Marilyn French's The Women's Room appears over and over on anti-feminist sites: "Men are rapists, and that's all that they are." What they never mention is that The Women's Room is a novel, and that the line is spoken by a fictional character whose daughter was brutally raped and then re-brutalized during the trial. Well, another character in the novel says, "I like cheese," and yet somehow that one never gets elevated to stand as the universal opinion of feminists everywhere. It's almost as if they have some sort of agenda.