“Don’t Get Raped” vs. “Don’t Rape”: An Inquiry

For Marianne Cassidy, society’s lesson that “Strange Men Are Dangerous” is damaging. Men are not the problem. Rapists are the problem.

“Society teaches Don’t Get Raped rather than Don’t Rape.”

As far as I know, this slogan originally emerged as part of the SlutWalk movement. It has become a key expression of protest against the idea that women should dress more modestly to avoid getting raped. When I heard it first, it resonated with me; it’s challenging, it’s punchy and it felt like a succinct summation of a complex problem. But, (and this is a big “but” because) while my gut feeling is still agreement, I know factually that nothing is ever so black-and-white when it comes to such a sensitive topic. Every time I see it emblazoned on a T-shirt or SlutWalk sign or cropping up in blog posts and comments in the gender arena, I feel the need to break it down and think about what it actually means.

For me, the first half seems straightforward. As far back as I can remember, I have been taught to be suspicious of strange men. And I don’t mean “society taught me” or “experience taught me.” I mean I was literally taught – through the public education system in Ireland, through Health and Safety classes, through guest speakers, through seminars, by authority figures both male and female – that strange men are the single biggest threat to my personal safety, as a girl and later as a woman. I have be careful what I wear and where I go and when I go there and who I talk to when I get there and I should always be vigilant and aware of my surroundings and take self-defence classes and carry a rape whistle and never walk home alone and we all know the drill at this point.

I remember clearly attending a safety lecture when I was eight years-old and a teacher telling us that if we ever got lost or separated from our parents in a strange place and we couldn’t find a police officer, we should “look for a nice lady to help us.” Apparently, nice ladies are a safe bet. It’s the nasty men who are more likely to be holding candy and luring us into their van. This is my earliest memory of the “strange men are dangerous” rhetoric. Since then, it’s been a consistent feature of my life.

In Emily Heist Moss’s excellent article “The Story of Men Is the Story We Decide To Tell: A Single Woman Travelling Alone,” she explodes the standard “creepy guy” story that most women can tell you as an example of why men can be dangerous to a lone woman. Most women have at least one story about a creepy guy who followed them, harassed them, touched them inappropriately and made them feel scared and vulnerable. While it’s definitely unfortunate that most women have had an experience like this, Emily points out that most women also have stories about men who were kind to them or who helped them out of a rough situation. But we rarely tell or hear these stories. This may simply be because potential danger makes for a better story, but we may also gravitate towards the “creepy guy” episode because it reinforces the narrative we have been labouring under for most of our lives; all men are potential rapists.

As the debate in comments section of this article highlights, this is a damaging and offensive stereotype.


It goes without saying that the vast majority of men are repulsed by the idea of rape or sexual assault. Most are offended by the prevalent myth that all men are slaves to their libidos and literally cannot control their sexual urges. Others worry about the perception of sexual abuse as an exclusively female concern and are attempting to break the resounding silence around the issue of male rape. In light of this, it must be frustrating when a woman crosses the street to avoid you when she’s walking home alone after dark. It must be baffling when you approach a woman (because she dropped her keys, or she looks lost, or she caught your eye and you’d like to get her number) and she acts like you have every intention of dragging her down an alley. I can only imagine how confusing it is when a woman would rather wait in the rain with her broken-down car rather than accepting a ride from you. Often it seems no matter how many considerate, kind and thoughtful men we encounter, the relatively small handful of men who perpetrate sexual violence on women still dictate how the majority are viewed.

This is not fair to men. I have a feeling that if I were a man, I would be insulted by the idea that society failed to teach me that rape is a serious and horrific crime, or that my sexual urges somehow prevented me from assimilating that lesson into my moral code. I would be utterly sick of being perceived as a pervert or a creep because I had the misfortune to flirt with a woman who wasn’t interested. I would hate the thought that my sisters, my daughters, my partners and my female friends spend their lives looking over their shoulder with fear and suspicion, scared of the intentions of perfectly decent men like me.

But I’m not a man. I’m a woman, and I still cross the street rather than cross paths with a strange man at night. I still balk at the idea of getting into a car with a man I don’t know. These are instinctive reactions, born of years of being told that strange men are dangerous. If I said I cross the street to avoid black people, instinctively or otherwise, I would be shouted down as a racist, and rightly so. By that reasoning, avoiding the male half of the population after dark is a sexist act. Yet this precautionary measure is viewed as not only socially acceptable, but as advisable and sensible.

Rather than a society that teaches “Don’t Rape,” we have a society that teaches “Don’t Rape But She Was Pretty Drunk and She Didn’t Explicitly Say No and Look At What She Was Wearing.” This is problematic, because what we really want is a society where “Don’t Rape” means “Don’t Rape, Don’t Assault, Don’t Harass, Don’t Intimidate, Don’t Abuse, Don’t Take Advantage of a Situation, Whether You’re Male, Female or Anything In Between.

The issue is complicated by the fact that women are not just told that strange men are dangerous; we also are told that is our responsibility to avoid them and keep them at bay. There is no fool-proof way to prevent rape or sexual assault, but society tells us that a woman would have to be completely devoid of common sense if she didn’t take every possible precaution to avoid a worst-case scenario. For many women, it is worth offending a hundred good men if she manages to avoid even one situation that could potentially end in rape. Or worse, that could end in her blaming herself for being raped, because society tells hers that she should have been more cautious.

The “Don’t Rape” part of the SlutWalk slogan is muddier and presented more of a challenge when I tried to figure out why it rang true with me initially. On the surface, “Don’t Rape” seems to me to fall under the general umbrella of “Don’t Be A Shitty Human Being,” along with other basics such as “Don’t Murder” and “Don’t Steal.” I think society at large does a pretty good job of instilling us with these basics at a young age.

To me, the concept that society fails to teach “Don’t Rape” is an attempt to articulate the fact that rape apologists exist. Victim-blaming exists. For many, a grey area of consent exists. A woman who has been raped will be interrogated about everything from her previous sexual partners to the absence of an extra two inches of skirt. In these cases, society does not teach that rape is unequivocally wrong and that the rapist must bear the full brunt of his actions. Instead, it teaches that there is an ambiguity of blame and responsibility, that there is a chance of getting off lightly, and even a chance that society will forget all about the rapist in the rush to find fault with the victim. As far as I can identify, this is the main reason that society does not teach “Don’t Rape” as well as it could. Rather than a society that teaches “Don’t Rape,” we have a society that teaches “Don’t Rape But She Was Pretty Drunk and She Didn’t Explicitly Say No and Look At What She Was Wearing.” This is problematic, because what we really want is a society where “Don’t Rape” means “Don’t Rape, Don’t Assault, Don’t Harass, Don’t Intimidate, Don’t Abuse, Don’t Take Advantage of a Situation, Whether You’re Male, Female or Anything In Between.


Equally problematic is the fact that society doesn’t teach “Don’t Get Raped” so much as it teaches “Strange Men Are Dangerous.” This is damaging because men are not the problem. Rapists are the problem. It’s also particularly bizarre and misleading when it is estimated that 73% of rapes are committed by someone the victim already knows.* Nonetheless, the numbers indicate the vast majority of reported rapists are male and the majority of rape victims who come forward are female.* So how do we reconcile this, when the numbers reflect a vastly gendered divide?

I mean this as a genuine question. In an ideal world, a woman would be able to walk down the street wearing whatever she wants at any time of day or night, without any fear of rape. However, people utterly bereft of morality and empathy will always exist, so this ideal world is not attainable. In the meantime, women have the right to look out for themselves and prioritise their own safety. Equally, men have the right to walk down the street without being treated like rabid monsters just waiting for their chance. How can we teach women to be safe and savvy, without simultaneously demonising every man they come into contact with?

For the moment, how do we come up with a slogan that encapsulates this?

“Society teaches us All Strange Men Are Dangerous, instead of Look Out For Yourself Because There Are Always Going To Be Assholes Out There, But Remember That Society Has Your Back And The Hammer Of Justice Will Be Swift And Mighty In Your Defence, Because No One Should Ever Touch You Without Your Express Consent And That Goes For Everyone, Regardless of Gender.

I know, I know, it’s not quite as catchy. But that’s why a slogan is just a slogan, and not a fully-formed argument. “Society teaches Don’t Get Raped rather than Don’t Rape” serves its purposes on protest signs and sandwich boards, but taken out of context, it can successfully stop conversation dead in its tracks. Many women wield it like a talisman, throwing it down as their last word, their core point in any discussion about rape. Many men view it as an offensive generalisation, and grow impatient trying to debate around it. A slogan should be a spring-board, not a full-stop. It should make you think, not tie up the argument. In any discussion concerned with breaking down stereotypes and forging new perspectives, there should be no full-stops. There should be fluid dialogue, honest opinions and respect even in disagreement. Above all, there should be a genuine attempt to understand experiences that are foreign to you, whether that experience is being called a creep or trying to shake off a man who is following you. These are the stories that cause people to change the way they think, but they can’t hear them if they are deafened by a slogan. More importantly, neither can you.

photo used with permission by Michael Courier

*From the U.S. Department of Justice National Crime Victimization Study, 2005.
*In 1991, The United States Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated that 91% of rape victims were female and 99% of rapists were male. It was also estimated that over 60% of rape cases go unreported, making it the most unreported serious crime in the US.
About Marianne Cassidy

Marianne is 23 years-old, born and raised in Ireland but currently living in Chicago. She double-majored in Drama Studies and English Lit, and now makes almost no money working in theatre. She spends her free hours devouring comics, blogs and burritos. Read more at Death of the new gods.


  1. Rob Thomas says:

    What do people think of men who drug and raps women they are in a relationship with as a form of punishment or revenge? What should be done with men such as these and how do you stop them? Are they psychopaths?

    • Well, the same as what was written above (by Michael Miller)

      Women are victims of rape. It’s a sad truth. But they CAN help themselves to not be.

      I can only advice women to choose their friends carefully. Why do so many women socialize with thugs and psychopaths, while plenty of honest men have big problems to find even a nice girlfriend?
      What do these women expect from those men? They often say, they are so exciting…
      Men who work regularly, keep their life-style non-violent, do not waste money for drugs etc. are often considered as ‘boring’ and rejected.
      We are all adults and responsible for our own decisions, it’s wrong to keep only men responsible.
      Sorry, but if a woman makes a bad choice regarding her partners it’s her problem, and not my problem because I am a man.

  2. In response to the “Society teaches…” slogan:

    First, the “don’t get raped” line is unfair to push. I would amend it to “don’t knowingly set yourself up for rape.” A man who has it in his mind to abuse a woman will presumably (attempt to) do so regardless. But such men still respond to certain stimuli. A woman can reduce her chances of getting raped by minding a few key points. Sadly, these points aren’t absolutes, but they can help.

    1. As I understand the reports, rape isn’t always about sex as it is about power and control. Even so, it manifests itself through sexual behavior. It’s no mystery that men are deeply affected by provocative clothing. A woman who wears such is NOT, in my mind, to blame if she is raped…however it does not put her in the safest of situations as far as she can help it. After all, a woman dressed modestly can still be raped, too, but I would speculate not as likely.

    2. Be mindful of the type of men/people she is around. No doubt, a man who is likely to be a rapist is not going to have a bright neon shirt that screams, “I’m a rapist!” This is why women need to learn (especially from parents when younger) how to rightly judge character and mannerisms. A man who leads respectfully and does not pressure or entice a woman into compromising situations us likely to be a safer bet.

    3. And that leads to another thing a woman can do: don’t put herself into comprising situations. Such as going out alone at night, especially in dark and/or isolated areas. Don’t have premarital sex. Etc…

    4. Carry protection. Since being attacked can’t be 100% prevented, a good defense is a good offense. Carry mace, a gun, a mini-foghorn…a brick in the purse…a “Men In Tights” chasity belt.

    5. Teach their sons and daughters how to respect each other. This is best taught when a mother and father demonstrate such love and respect that the children can properly emulate that into adulthood.

    Women are victims of rape. It’s a sad truth. But they CAN help themselves to not be.

    However, that’s only half the story. I alluded to sons a second ago.

    Teaching men how to be men includes teaching the healthiest views on sex and what a man is expected to do in regards to trading a woman with respect and dignity. Love, discipline, and an on-going living example is critical to tempering a boy’s mind and body.

    If we focus on only preventative measures, we miss the opportunity to address the very thing that would make prevention virtually obsolete.
    If we focus only on teaching boys to be men of good character, we miss the need to help women defend themselves when the boys/men reject the teaching.

    Thus, I teach both.

  3. Egalitarian says:

    “The United States Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated that 91% of rape victims were female and 99% of rapists were male. . .”

    That is not true if you properly define rape. According to the latest CDC survey, 4.8% of all men have been “made to penetrate” and 79.2% of the perpetrators were women. Examples of “made to penetrate” are: a woman who has sex with a man who is passed-out drunk, or a woman who forces a man to have sex with her through blackmail or physical force. There is some confusion due to the fact that their definition of rape excluded “made to penetrate” and only included men who had been penetrated. That was far less common (1.4% of men) and was mostly perpetrated by men. However, if you include “made to penetrate” as rape, which you should, since it is forced sex, the majority of male rape victims were raped by women. You can read the report at:

    Here are direct quotes from the report:
    “Approximately 1 in 21 men (4.8%) reported that they were made to penetrate someone else during their lifetime”

    “For three of the other forms of sexual violence, a majority of male victims reported only female perpetrators: being made to penetrate (79.2%), sexual coercion (83.6%), and unwanted sexual contact (53.1%).”

    Here are some stories from male victims: http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/v73r4/men_who_have_been_raped_by_women_can_you_tell_us/

  4. Karan Kohli says:

    Although certainly effective from a provocative standpoint, this statement is simply untrue because it implies that our society condones rape. Which it absolutely does not. There are stiff prison sentences enforced for rapists of either gender, and we do not live in a society where you get a pat on the back for a particularly “good rape”. Growing up in Africa, and having friends and family in the Middle East, I know that there are situations, sadly, where the above statement can be taken literally, in context, to be true. Where, in fact, rape is applauded, and societies ostracize, further punish, and often kill victims of rape as opposed to the rapists themselves. Mostly women, yes – but also children and (mostly homosexual) men of both sexes. Perhaps the ignorant person above, holding the sign, should have spent some time in countries where “honor gang rapes” of young women and children occur on a daily basis, are legal, and are fully condoned by the governments involved. Where a young teenaged woman whose head scarf accidentally blows off in the wind is publicly raped by her male family members before being publicly stoned to death by members of her community for causing shame to her family (true story, and very sadly not uncommon). Perhaps s/he should have researched the all to common practice in South and West Africa where men inflicted with HIV buy young girls from their village elders to rape in the twisted belief that sex with a virgin will cure them of their disease. Are these things lauded in our society? Thankfully, they most certainly do not.These are a few real examples of societies that teach “Do not get raped” in the context of the sign displayed above.
    Unfortunately – rape happens. In every society. But implying that as a society we condone the act is sickening. It is equally as important to teach “Do not get raped” as it is to teach “Do not rape”. As children we are taught to always look both ways before crossing the street. Why? Do they not teach drivers to ALWAYS watch out for and never hit pedestrians? So shouldn’t we then as a society stop teaching our children to look for oncoming traffic before traipsing out into the street. Shouldn’t our society teach “Do not hit pedestrians” rather than “Be aware and do not get hit by a car”? Of course not – ridiculous! YES – thankfully our society teaches “Do not get raped” – but NOT in the context stated above. Any good parent, teacher or caregiver to a child , be it boy or girl, should strive to empower that child with the information and skills needed for them to navigate our world, with all its pitfalls. Thankfully – despite the uninformed opinion above – our society also very certainly teaches “Do not rape”. The majority of people in our society view rape as the heinous crime it is, and importantly our government and laws reflect that. Unfortunately, this will not – it cannot – wipe out rape completely, which is why empowering individuals with the education about how best to protect oneself from the predators that sadly will always exist is just as vitally important as it is to maintain our views as a society about rape as a crime.

    • Your comparison of the situation in the Middle East to the situation in the US proves nothing and weakens your argument. The situation in the Middle East is terrible and certainly nobody condones it. While the situation in the US may be better than that of the Middle East, that does not mean that the US society doesn’t still fail at teaching “don’t rape” as opposed to “don’t get raped.” Just because a society has it worse doesn’t make the problem any less relevant. The opinion above is not uninformed.

      You ask the rhetorical question: “Shouldn’t our society teach “Do not hit pedestrians” rather than “Be aware and do not get hit by a car”?” You answered it as “of course not,” and I could not disagree more. We ABSOLUTELY should teach “don’t hit pedestrians” rather than “don’t get hit by a car.” I never drive through an intersection without checking for pedestrians whereas I’ve often walked across the street without looking both ways. Is it smart? No, but our society certainly has taught me to be much more vigilant about pedestrians as a driver than as a pedestrian about cars. Why is that? Because pedestrians always have the right of way. If I’m the victim of a car accident as a pedestrian, I don’t get questions of “did you look both ways? were you talking on your cell phone? did you make eye contact with the driver?” The guilt is assumed upon the driver who should’ve been more careful.

  5. Strange men can be suspicious and potentially damaging…but the men who damaged me the most were those who were closest to me and in a position of power and trust: teachers and mentors….

    Rapists wear many faces…some of them you know….

  6. I love this article so much. It is spot on with the problems we have regarding rape in our culture today. We still whole-heartedly blame victims and tell people how they should behave in order to avoid being raped or how they should have behaved to avoid being raped.

    And yes, the being scared of strange men was something I had internalized since elementary school. Fortunately, I appear to have mostly grown out of that, but I think it is also because I have had zero negative experiences with sexual harassment, stalking, or what-have-you. I think the only negative interaction I have had was once when I was in France and some drunk guy started yelling at me about my yellow umbrella. Weird, but not sexual or anything. However, I think I have just been lucky in this regard. But negative experiences, street harassment and stalking, would just solidify the “beware of strange men” fear. :/

  7. Anthony Zarat says:

    “Nonetheless, the numbers indicate the vast majority of reported rapists are male and the majority of rape victims who come forward are female.* So how do we reconcile this, when the numbers reflect a vastly gendered divide?”

    The entire premise of your article is completely, 100% false.

    If you care about the truth, study table 2.1 (page 18) and table 2.2 (page 19) of the CDC’s 2010 “National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS)”:


    Here are the facts. In 2010, the NISVS estimates that there were 2.537 million “intimate” assaults in the United States:

    1.270,000 assaults of women, by men (female victim, male perpetrator)
    1,267,000 assaults of men, by women (male victim, female perpetrator)

    These refer to non-consensual forced intimacy.

    • Just to point out your inaccurate reading of those tables.

      First: those numbers are only for victims. You’ll see the text on page 24 notes that the perpetrators against BOTH sexes are over 90% male.

      Second: you are comparing different cells in those two tables. Compare only cells that have values in both tables, and ones that have more comparable aggregate values, for example the lifetime reported (ignoring various reporting biases). That shows a roughly 20-fold greater amount of female victims.

      So: these numbers are fully in line with the premise that men are the primary perpetrators and that although male victimization has long been a serious and often suppressed issue (for a current and HUGE scale tragedy see the war-rapes in Africa that in some areas affect men *more* than women), in the US at least women are by far the the most victimized.

  8. I take strong issue with the statement, “But Remember That Society Has Your Back And The Hammer Of Justice Will Be Swift And Mighty In Your Defence”. This is patently not true. Even when rape is reported, the chance of conviction is low; even when convicted, the sentences are often paltry. A men’s magazine got in trouble recently for telling readers that if they raped somebody, they were unlikely to ever be punished. But they were right in their facts, if not in their advice. Until society really does have your back, until the hammer of justice really is swift and mighty, we can’t really expect anything else to change.

    • Yes, it’s obviously not true. If you read it in context, you will see I offered it up as an ideal to strive for, not my view of the actual state of affairs in the world today.

  9. Aya says:
    December 28, 2011 at 7:24 pm
    I know there are false accusers out there, just like there are rapists. But just like all men wouldn’t rape, all women wouldn’t falsely accuse given the chance. Most of us, even imperfect women like I am, have a moral compass that tells us how wrong, devastating, and dangerous false rape accusations are.


    Thanks for your kind words, but they are not helpful for men at all.
    The problem is with biased law execution.

    The rapist will be convicted for a long jail-term, but the false accuser will be protected with anonymity often for life, will be sentenced for a few hours community service and a few days in jail, or a little fine and that’s all.

    Men’s rights advocates consider false rape allegations as a felony, as a severe crime same as rape – but a false rape allegation is legally seen nothing but ‘ filing a false police report’ and we think, this should be changed.

    • Your suggestion makes little if any sense. OF COURSE, rapists should face long jail terms. They committed a felony, what else would you suggest they face?

      And OF COURSE, false rape allegations should be “filing a false police report.” What else would it be? It’s no more serious than filing a false report of an attempted murder/assault. To punish rape accusers more seriously than accusers of any other crime only adds to the societal lesson that rape doesn’t matter, victims shouldn’t come forward. Unless, of course, you’re arguing that the punishment for all false police reports should be increased.

      You’re describing a situation which is the case for ANY felony. Anybody could accuse you of ANY felony and at most face filing a false police report, and the falsely accused of any felony would be facing jail time and potentially long jail-terms. This is not limited to rape allegations. It’s how our justice system works. The law execution is not biased.

      You could make an argument that there should be a higher burden of proof for conviction of rapists, but not more punishment only for those making false rape allegations.

  10. What no one seems to realize, is that false accusations not only hurt the accused, they also diminish what has happened to actual rape victims. They help plant a seed of doubt in the jury. Unless we prosicute these perjurious claims to the fullest extent of the law,we are always going to have this problem. I personally know someone falsely accused of rape. He wasn’t even there! But picked out of a police lineup (Don’t EVER volunteer for one of those!). and it was considered a closed case.His Parents, ready to retire, instead had to refi the house to pay bail, lawyers, and private detectives. It took 2 years during which he lost his job and carrier. When finally confronted with the eyewitness evidence that placed him2 MILES AWAY at the time of “said rape”, the young woman confessed that she had unprotected sex with her boyfriend and thought she might get pregnent. She didn’t even get a”slap on the wrist” Just a lecture from the judge (You were wrong, now don’t do that again!) As for the falsely accused fellow, not even an apology! I think this disquallifies me from ever sitting on a jury in a trial

  11. 1. “As far as I know, this slogan originally emerged as part of the SlutWalk movement.” Maybe the slogan emerged from the SlutWalk movement, but the sentiment has been around at least since the 1970s.

    2. How lucky you were to receive any kind of education re: rape in a public school! I went to public school in Ohio where we were taught “don’t have sex” PERIOD.

    3. “I have a feeling that if I were a man, I would be insulted by the idea that society failed to teach me that rape is a serious and horrific crime, or that my sexual urges somehow prevented me from assimilating that lesson into my moral code. I would be utterly sick of being perceived as a pervert or a creep because I had the misfortune to flirt with a woman who wasn’t interested. I would hate the thought that my sisters, my daughters, my partners and my female friends spend their lives looking over their shoulder with fear and suspicion, scared of the intentions of perfectly decent men like me.”

    – I agree. This is why men should recognize rape culture as it is & fight against it, rather than encouraging women to “loosen up”/become more trusting. Taking a ride from a “strange man” at night does nothing to challenge cultural representations, judicial/legislative/structural violence, economic coercion, etc. that together comprise a rape culture.

    4. “If I said I cross the street to avoid black people, instinctively or otherwise, I would be shouted down as a racist, and rightly so. By that reasoning…” Not having a real understanding of the different kinds of oppression (different ways they manifest, different histories, in this case regarding intimacies between oppressed & oppressor, etc.) is a good way to invalidate your argument. It is highly offensive to a lot of POC & women to conflate oppressions. And what you just compared was a member of an oppressed group (woman) fearing a member of a dominant group (man) for what that person can do and get away with socioculturally and legally to a member of a dominant group (white) fearing a member of an oppressed group (black) for racist stereotypes that code them as dangerous.

    • Thanks for this comment, these are all really good points. Particularly no. 4, I had never thought about the conflation of oppression in that way before, but I will bear it in mind from now on!

  12. “Any woman could falsely accuse you AND WILL!”

    I too get this vibe from I’ve been in plenty of situations where I’ve had sex when I shouldn’t have or thought I shouldn’t have. I was in a relationship. It was too soon after meeting the guy. He was a good friend. I didn’t think my mom would approve. These were the types of thoughts that went through my head: Should I tell my boyfriend? Do I feel guilty? *Should* I feel guilty? Did I ruin my friendship and how do I remedy it? Am I falling in love or just high on the hormones? Should I pursue a relationship so that people don’t think I’m a slut. Am I a slut?

    Not once did I even CONSIDER a false rape accusation. It didn’t cross my mind for half a second. Same goes for when a man has wronged me or broken my heart, and same goes for the girls who have confided in me or about whom I’ve heard. I know there are false accusers out there, just like there are rapists. But just like all men wouldn’t rape, all women wouldn’t falsely accuse given the chance. Most of us, even imperfect women like I am, have a moral compass that tells us how wrong, devastating, and dangerous false rape accusations are. Rape is a violent crime where the penis is used as a weapon (not always, of course–women rape too, and inanimate objects can be used). False accusations are weapons too, and most women just don’t have them in their arsenal. The ones who do are sick.

  13. Richard Aubrey says:

    Marianne. There is no “balance” question. You can learn to defend yourself without demonizing anybody.
    When in college, I did judo and ju jitsu (the simplified type sometimes referred to as “scientific dirty fighting”) and I am always armed–type of weapon not your business.
    But I demonize nobody.
    It’s just in case.

    • This is a fair point, Richard, but I feel like there’s an imbalance between men and women which unfortunately comes down to biology; statistically, women are more likely to be smaller, lighter and slighter than men. Of course, there are exceptions, but in general, women are smaller.

      I’m pretty physically fit (regular yoga, running, swimming etc) and I took karate for three years. I was pretty good at it and I remember some of the moves, but I’m hardly good enough to rely on it in a fight. However, I’m also short with a slight build. Unless I stay in peak physical condition year-round for the rest of my life, the chances are that most men would be able to overpower me if they really wanted to (and also outrun me over short distances… stubby little legs.)

      Weapons are also not also an option. In Ireland, where I’m from, pepper-spray and mace are illegal. Many self-defense teachers have warned me explicitly against pulling a weapon on an attacker, because unless you know exactly what you’re doing, there’s a good chance it will be taken from you by force and used against you.

      My point is that physical defense isn’t usually a viable option for women who are not black belts; the odds are stacked against us. So we taught to defend ourselves through avoidance rather than direct confrontation. We are taught to anticipate a dangerous situation before it happens, which in turn means we are taught to never to take chances and to treat many normal everyday situations involving strange men as suspicious. And yes, I would go as far to brand these lessons as “demonizing.” As I state in the article, it’s not right and it’s not fair and there must be a better way. But at the moment, it is a reality.

  14. Would you tell a psychopath not to manipulate people and expect them to pay any attention to you know? Telling bad people not to be bad is pointless, they are still going to be bad people. You can, however, effectively teach good people how to protect themselves.

    • Which is why this article is about finding a balance between teaching women how to protect themselves without simultaneously demonizing men…

    • Rape isn’t the only problem. Sexual assault is also a problem. Too many people are often the victim of a random butt grab. These people may not ever go so far as to actually commit rape, but they’ve nonetheless committed sexual assault and think it’s okay, or just in good fun. They are not psychopaths, just people who think of it as fun and not as victimization. Our society certainly doesn’t do enough to lay out explicitly how that is also not acceptable.

  15. Just want to throw something out there: I feel like I’m constantly being urged to take “women’s self defense” classes. Where the effing hell are the “how to not assault women” classes?

    • Where are don’t abuse children and partner classes for women?

      • Ron, you are in danger of trolling. This article is about the rape of women by men and the culture of fear that exists around it. This does not mean that the rape and abuse of men by women does not happen (it most certainly does) but this article is not the place for that discussion. GMP recently published an article entitled “Women Rape Boys, Too” which generated an in-depth and lengthy debate on the subject. Deliberately derailing discussion on a different issue does not help the case for men abused by women in any way.

        • Yeah Ron, listen to your betters…this thread is about WOMEN and RAPE….stop trying to inject the concerns of men into this diatribe…er…discussion.

          After all, it diminishes the female’s chances of declaring themselves victims…

          • Yeah, Factory. I know it’s crazy and hard to accept but sometimes women and men might gather on a forum and actually discuss issues that are relevant and about women. I know it’s hard for the male ego to accept that we might have a discussion about female victims without explicitly acknowledging the men. Crazy, I know.

    • Well, Melbell, not raping is the natural state. So you don’t need a class not to do it. You might need a class to defend yourself effectively, particularly given the general strength and size differences between male attackers and female victims. I think you rather missed the point of Marianne’s article, anyway.

  16. Jun Kafiotties says:

    Is that the same Department of Justice that for quite a long time, flat out REFUSED to fund studies of male victims of domestic violence? If so then quite frankly I’m not sure I’d put much weight into their statistics of male and female victimization rates, unless they actually fund studies about male victims instead of the typical female-focused ones that dominate the field.

  17. Ambiguity renders the claims of victimhood from objective fact to a subjective interpretation. It’s unfair grant every  reported sexual impropriety case as a confirmation of rape. It’s up to the courts to give the final word.

    It would however be super cool if ladies avoided those gray areas by respecting alcohol, carry physical protection, and of course prosecute ofenders early and often.

    Telling women to protect themselves from ambiguity or telling them that a local rapist targets women wearing certain clothing is not slut shaming it’s common sense. 

    • Think about this though. The guy who was about to get into the elevator with a woman but decided not to because he thought the woman might be uncomfortable alone with a guy. Yet–he might have had a hard, long day and just wants to get home to his wife and doesn’t want to be late to dinner. Maybe his back is hurting from sitting at the computer all day and taking the stairs would be painful. As long as he doesn’t actually assault or harass the woman, why would he avoid the elevator? If the woman is really that afraid, a positive experience alone with a man could actually be beneficial.

      A couple of other situations. A woman has spent 6 months avoiding her favorite foods to fit into that expensive skirt that caught her eye or that she got as a gift from a good friend/family member. She should avoid wearing it because some asshole rapist might lose all control at the sight of it? Maybe she just had a bad breakup or an awful week at work and just wants to go out and get some darn martinis–she deserves to do it without fearing that she’ll be blamed if she gets assaulted or raped. I agree with idea of carrying protection, but women’s fashions often aren’t very utilitarian. Jackets don’t have inner pockets, purses are either too tiny to hold anything–or far too big and bulky to be able to take out on the dance floor or open in a hurry. Pockets on good jeans can rarely hold a wallet, much less pepper spray.

      About the targeting–in one place a rapist could be targeting women in jeans, in another, women who don’t wear their burquas properly. Maybe one just has a thing for redheads. Or nieces. One guy considers cleavage slutty while another hates (or really likes) midriffs or thongs. At what point do you just get to live your life and be able to express yourself? Sure, if I wear a bikini to a job interview, I can expect to not be hired or to be escorted out of the building (even if said building includes magazines featuring women in lingerie–an interesting standard in the eyes of someone who has modeled, but also came from a very conservative background). I can’t expect to be raped or assaulted.

      Early reporting is great, but when you hear about situations where they bring up your past partners and personal life (like in the Georgia case), where the judge said that because she had sex partners in the past, she couldn’t possibly have been raped–it really makes you not want to step forward out of a fear of humiliation and rejection by your peers, community, and family.

      • I read this nugget sometime back, and it seems so obvious, it should be taught. This was one man’s behavior response to women’s fears:
        “As a man, I refuse to commit to a woman because I don’t want to participate in the perpetuation of 9000 years of gender oppression.

        I won’t marry a woman because that would trap her in a patriarchal institution, sacrificing her autonomy. I won’t conceive children with a woman because children would handicap her in her ability to compete on equal terms with men in the economic sphere. I won’t give money or financial support to a woman because making her dependent on me would increase my power over her.

        It’s just my own little contribution to helping women achieve true equality. If other men truly respect and care about women, they will do the same.”

        I’d love to credit the original poster, but can’t recal where I found it.

        • I noticed that “not having sex with women” didn’t make it on your list of ways you are going to sacrifice yourself in the cause of female empowerment.

          • PursuitAce says:

            Well it’s on my list now. Thanks Kat. (Note that I am not Rick). After finding out from this site that unenthusiastic sex equals sexual assault I’m now scared straight. “Not having sex with women”…check…So to all the women of the world, your welcome. One less rapist.
            Now a little more seriously (and the previous was pretty serious actually)…I don’t see the scourge of stranger rape or acquaintance rape getting any better without some radical actions. That has to be the focus. I’m just another problem-solving man who doesn’t listen very well, but less talk and more action please.

        • Your quote is annoyingly dumb. Just because we might choose to discuss and highlight existing issues regarding patriarchy, financial dependence, doesn’t mean the solution is to do the extreme in which you refuse all those actions.

          The quote is built off a slippery slope fallacy. More nonsense.

      • @Aya…
        There are no easy answers. I could tell you that scratching the assailants face gives you evidence of forcible rape, but doing so might cost you your life. 

        I could tell you it’s better if you cover up but I just found out over the weekend that Saudi Arabia is cracking down on women with “seductive eyes”.

        We could start education campaigns across the country, but I don’t think the world will never run out of opportunistic/Evil/broken Men(& Women I suppose) to ever guarantee your’s or anyone in my family’s safety.

        What I Can tell you is that weapon #1 in a rape defendant’s arsenal is to prosecute you in the court of public opinion. That’s not ever going to change…EVER!

        It’s about empowerment. Women are not entitled to a care free life. You have to fight for your dignity you have to fight for what is yours and your opponents are in there respective order:
        1) the rapist
        2) the court of public opinion
        3) the court of law
        Dispatch with each accordingly and don’t expect them to change their nature. I would like to add that that enjoying your life in full knowlege of these problems is a true sighn of true strength.

        I wish you all the best.

        • I don’t believe that the court of public opinion will never change. It changes all the time, slowly but surely. We are all part of it, so we’re in a good position to do something about it. Even if it never does, it’s still important to keep speaking out against victim-blaming and rape apology.

          • Looking forward to the day when you feminist types admit that women…a LOT of women,….lie about being raped. I’d also like to see a return to the day that a Law can be described ahead of time…without relying on how the ‘victim’ FEELS about the ‘crime’.

            When that happens, I *might* begin to give a shit about Rape….

            But don’t count on it.

            • @Factory
              how about being more of a victims rights advocate instead of an MRA or a Feminist.
              that way, you could reconcile the hypocrisy in your personal sense of justice.

              • Nah.I’d rather treat feminsts to the medicine they’ve been dealing men for 50 years. I’d rather force women to finally live up to their half of ‘equality’,.

                I have absolutely ZERO interest in taking a ‘higher road’ than feminists. I will do everything in my power to stymy the feminist movement, and I will not lift one single finger to help women.

                PRECISELY the same stance Feminists take (and have taken for 50 years) on Mens issues. When we’ve had 50 years of focussing on mens issues, you can complain and I might listen. As for right now, Feminism is an evil blight on society that must be stopped at all costs, and they deserve ABSOLUTELY NO QUARTER.

                They have proven time and again how little they care for injustice done to others.

                It’s time they suffered their own treatment.

                And if you (or they) don’t like it, too f’n bad.

  18. I remember being told as a child (growing up in the 90s) that strangers were dangerous in general, not necessarily limited to just men. Don’t get in cars with strangers, don’t let strangers touch you, don’t accept things from strangers, and maybe even don’t talk to strangers, I can’t quite remember. I was also trained to have my address and phone number memorized so if I got lost, I could tell the police where I lived. (I was six when we moved away from that house, but I could still tell you the full address and home phone number now.)

    I’m not sure when the shift came about where “stranger danger” became “man danger.” I do remember watching a video in driver’s ed, I think it was called the Lone Female Driver, that talked about after-hours parking lot attacks, checking the backseat of your car before getting in, being aware of your surroundings, etc. From that video, I learned the trick of making a fist around your keys and letting one or two keys poke out between two of your fingers so it will hurt more if you have to punch someone in defense.

    In college, it became about protecting your drink so you don’t get roofied, knowing where the campus emergency phones were, calling on the free police escort service if you feel unsafe, and reporting any suspicious activity. Good advice for anyone, regardless of gender. I’ve also heard, in college, that if you act like you’re talking on your phone, it could deter potential attackers because now you’re talking to someone, which means someone is expecting you. Or something like that. I never quite made that logical leap.

    Most recently, I was telling my mom about a bizarre incident when the president of my HOA rang my doorbell after midnight and asked me to come outside so he could accuse me and others who live in my household of speeding through the neighborhood (he was drunk, we later found out). I had been home alone at the time, dozing on the couch, waiting for my husband and his friend to get home from the bar. After relating the story in a “what a weird thing happened to me!” kind of way, her first reaction was “Don’t open the door for strangers who ring the bell after midnight.” So my”training” is still in place, and still happening, even today at 23 years old. (Then again, my mother isn’t a feminist and is more traditional, as well as quite paranoid about the world being out to get us, so her advice is not surprising.)

    Nowadays, I wouldn’t say that I assume all men are potential rapists. I try to avoid putting myself in situations where I might have to defend myself – by traveling in packs, by avoiding areas that are not well-lit or hidden away from public view, by sticking to the streets I know – again, good advice for any gender. I try not to suspect people unless they give me a reason to. So if a man is just walking on the same sidewalk as me, I don’t perceive him as a threat, but if he starts following me, eyeing me, initiating interaction with me, trying to get close to me, then I tighten my grip around my keys, walk a little faster, hold my purse closer to my body and look around for anyone who could help if it escalated.

    Honestly, I kind of see it like drunk driving. Plenty of people drive drunk/buzzed and get home just fine without killing anyone. But it’s still a bad idea to get behind the wheel after drinking, or get in the car with a driver who has been drinking, because even if the risk isn’t statistically significant, there’s just too much at stake to even make that gamble.

    I’m aware that a large percentage of rapes and sexual assaults happen between people who know each other, and that stranger rapes are comparatively rare. But some of my little-kid training is still intact – it would take some pretty severe circumstances for me to consider getting in the car with any stranger, male or female, even if the alternative is staying with my broken-down car in the rain. There’s just too much at stake to make that gamble.

  19. Yeah, adding to that, the whole concept of telling women what to wear or chastising them for what they were wearing after an assault implies that all men are rapists given the provocation and opportunity. If every woman in Saudi Arabia took off her hijab,it’s very unlikely that there would be a mass rape (unless it was encouraged by leaders in the government or families), but the expectation for a woman to wear one gives the impression that the all men are monsters only held back by the power of cloth.

  20. PursuitAce says:

    Well I’ve learned to cross the street when a woman is coming, and to never get in an elevator with a woman. I say never because I couldn’t wade through the seemingly endless comments to get to all the possible nuances of the situation. Can we just keep things simple? I usually take the stairs anyways and I haven’t found too many people of either gender on them. My own addition to this little program is to ignore women in general in any random public situation unless communication or acknowledgement is called for. That one took a few years to get down. Either acting like or actually being seriously engrossed in something does the trick pretty well. I figure one less creepy guy to give them nightmares.
    On the other hand not being able to make friends with one half of the human population has its downside. I completely understand why they feel like I’m just setting them up to be hit on, but when I tell them I no longer desire sexual relationships and am just looking for friendships, they look at me like I just told them I’ve foregone eating. I know. I’m a little too direct.
    Enough of the mindless musings…where can I find the entire list of good guy actions? I’m betting it doesn’t exist. I hope I’m wrong, but I’m guessing it’s still evolving or something…

    • As the Elevatorgate incident touched on, there’s a discussion to be had about how far you can reasonably expect an entire demographic category to go in accommodating the fears of another group. Should men be expected to “take the next elevator or the stairs” just to avoid making a lone woman uncomfortable?

      And if so, should black people be expected to do the same in the presence of uncomfortable whites? After all, blacks are statistically more often involved in violent assault….

      • I. Glasses says:

        PursuitAce, that is sad and I am sad for you. And for other men in this thread who are presumably avoiding women in the stairwells and elevators so as not to be raped, attacked, or sexually assaulted, because apparently women are raping men in droves according to the posters here.


        • PursuitAce says:

          Yeah, I get that a lot. But I’m the happiest person I know of. So don’t sweat it…I’m just trying to bring more civilized behavior to civilization.

        • Couple of years ago I was in hospital with a bad injury. I asked if I could be attended by a male nurse and was the object of much hilarity as a consequence.

          You aren’t in the least bit sad for me or any man who doesn’t wan’t to be subjected to your insensitivity or manipulation.

          • This is just a devil’s advocate thing because I know that abuse goes in all directions. Please hear what I just said.


            I have a very good male friend who became terribly ill while in Spain and went into the hospital. He did happen to have a male nurse, and that male nurse sexually abused him while he was too ill to fight or shout for help.

            I guess you just never know.

            • Forget your devils advocate crap. I was laughed at by a bunch of female nurses for some reason. WHY? And why is it that you need to minimise that experience by diverting to an abuse committed by a man?

              Note that I didn’t give any reasons. The fact is I shouldn’t need any, but given your response I don’t feel safe explaining it now.

              I must simply be a fuckin’ wimp.

              • Gwallan, I truly apologize. I obviously misunderstood something. I thought you meant…well, never mind what I thought. I take ownership of having misunderstood and then said the wrong thing. You’re not a wimp, and shutting people down is the LAST thing I want to do. I made a mistake and it’s hard to explain it and you don’t need my excuses anyway, just my sincere apology, and you have it. Sometimes internet communication is a little oblique and gets messed up, and face-to-face is better. Really, truly sorry!!

                • Consider the tone of the comment to which I originally responded. I have life experiences which leave me uncomfortable being undressed and poked and prodded by women. There are undoubtably many men and boys whose preference would be to deal with a male in a broad range of circumstances and for many reasons. Catering to women in this regard is de rigeur. It is enforced by law. For men and boys the mere suggestion of preference is an invitation for ridicule.

                  So here we are in a discussion which, in part, is justifying women always thinking the worst of men. That justification tends to relate to fear whether founded or not. At the same time culturally any male who needs to avoid women in any circumstance is ridiculed and minimised. The original comment was very insensitive and sarcastic and required a barbed response to make the point.

                  I’ve said before that the event horizon for gender equality is our ability to be as compassionate towards men and boys as we are toward women and girls. A woman in need is a call to arms. A man in need is an item of disgust. Can you see how your own response conforms to and enforces the disdain of any appearance of weakness in a male? Why be afraid of any woman when there’s so many scary men out there? After all, my real obligation is to protect YOU from those scary men AND prevent even the appearance that I might be one of them. Somehow.

                  (apologies to Shakespear)
                  I am a man. Hath not a man eyes?
                  Hath not a man hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions?
                  Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a woman is?
                  If you prick us, do we not bleed?
                  If you tickle us, do we not laugh?
                  If you poison us, do we not die?

                  And at times, even though we’re not allowed to say it, some things do frighten us.

                  I’m not worthy of your apology or, at least, am not the right target. My sparse internet contributions are very calculated and thus quite manipulative. I’m an old cynic who learned lessons about treating everybody equally from a feminism that seemed to understand self actualisation. Sadly those days are long gone. The laughing nurses, I Glasses, yourself, are all conforming to and enforcing the broader expectations of the conditioning we all continue to receive. The weak woman and the strong man are still enforced – even by feminists.

  21. I love that long slogan, personally. I’d get a tshirt with it!

  22. Wondering if there are any topics other than rape that would be helpful for men to discuss? Evidently, the message is that not being a rapist is the sum total of what it means to be a good man. But, it seems like there’s got to be more to it than that.

    • Explore the whole website im sure you can find something else that hints to what a Good Man is besides not being a rapist

      • If you wade through the hundreds of rape articles, you can find one or two articles on issues that, apparently, are unimportant to being a good man – such as fatherhood, education, marriage, you know, all that stuff that law abiding men seldom deal with.

        • They just did a whole series on fatherhood… I just read an article yesterday or the day before about a man feeling he couldn’t talk to his guy pals about sex with his wife…I know I’ve read articles in the past about dating/relationships… if you don’t like the rape articles, why click/comment on them?

          • Sure, there are occasional pieces on fatherhood but why are there so many, many more on rape,?  That implies that there are more rapists than fathers?  It’s clear that that’s a common feminist world-view, based on many of the comments, but it’s simply out of touch with reality, and helps only rapists who (contrary to the opinion of some) are in the minority.

            • The answer is more simple than this. Titles with words like “rape,” “porn, “sex,” and “lust” get more eyeballs, more web traffic, become more popular, and *appear* more prevalent on the site. They really aren’t…they just float up to where the eyeballs are and grab more of them. It’s the same on all media sites. I’ll spare you my social commentary on this!

              If you really look carefully at the GMP site, and explore all the sections, you will see MANY fabulous articles about all aspects of masculinity that simply never get as popular, because humans are, well, humans. The trick is to choose your own content, and not get distracted by what Google thinks is most important to you.

            • I don’t interpret this as a ‘feminist worldview’ about male intent, although I do not doubt there are radical viewpoints which would purport this. I propose this focus on rape has more to do with the large percentage of women who have experienced sexual assault in one form or another, and who, due to personal experience or experiences of someone close to them, now live in a state of heightened awareness which can, due to severity of the incidence or repetive nature, devolve into outright paranoia. I have heard that 1% of the people do 90% of the crimes, yet they can then have an impact on a very large percentage of other human beings, no matter what body they live in. The percentage of women raped or sexually abused in this country is actually quite staggering. Everyone knows someone, probably many someones, who have been raped and/or molested. Male or female, an assault as personal as sex will leave a lasting impact.

              In my search for a ‘healthier’ sexuality, I find it easier to clearly define what is unacceptable, what crosses boundaries, what causes lasting harm. Perhaps this is due to our safety wiring, which causes us to remember danger with lasting vividness, and joy with fleeting revery. Perhaps this is because too often danger wears a pleasing face. I enjoy reading articles on what makes a good man. I want to hear that there are men exploring personal growth and accountability and living up to their values. I also read articles about the dangers, and how to recognize them.

              • ” don’t interpret this as a ‘feminist worldview’ about male intent, although I do not doubt there are radical viewpoints which would purport this. I propose this focus on rape has more to do with the large percentage of women who have experienced sexual assault in one form or another. . .”

                If that were true, non-feminist women (the vast majority of women) would discuss it constantly as do feminists. Of course, they don’t/

                • Julie Gillis says:

                  At the risk of starting another argument with you, how do you know non feminist women don’t discuss rape? They may just not discuss it publicly or with men.

                  • On women dominated websites, it is not discussed nearly as often as on feminist websites, or when feminists comments on sites such as this one. They seldom if ever use the term “rape culture”, for example, whereas feminists seem to use it constantly. Their views are far different from feminists’; they are far more positive (and far less negative) toward males.

                    • Which women dominated websites are you refering to? If the topic is male-female relations, rape is much more likely to come up, although most women find the subject very emotional and would be unlikely to broach the subject without a reason. On a web site it is much more likely to be brought up due to the anonymous nature, so people are freer to express their views, opinions, and personal stories that they might be more inhibited to share in person. Context is just as likely an interpretation as to the types of issues rather than who ‘dominates’ the website.

                  • To clarify, I never said: “non feminist women don’t discuss rape”, as if it’s never mentioned. Of course, that’s not true.

                    I said they don’t “discuss it constantly as do feminists.” That is true.

                    • I never said this site was all about rape, did I?  The feminists written articles have largely been on that subject in one way or another for some time.  It evidently dominates their consciousness, as they seem to want to discuss it all day every day.

                      Make no mistake, most everyone is and should be concerned about preventing all sorts of crimes, especially violent crimes of a physical nature, such as rape and violent assault.  However, if the topics written about here by feminists are representative (I believe they are), feminists are truly obsessed with discussing the topic of rape.  And, like it or now, the term “rape culture” is not used by women outside of the feminism, and certainly not discussed all day, every day.

                      Feel free to try, but good luck in finding groups of non-feminists women discussing “rape culture” all day every day.

                  • AM:

                    “Which women dominated websites are you refering to?”

                    Take your pick. Ivillage is one such example. How many hundreds or thousands of times here on a men’s site has the term “rape culture” been bantied about by feminists?

                    By, stark contrast, on iVillage, the term “rape culture” when searched gets zero hits. Zero, zilch, nada, none. That illustrates the difference between feminist thinking and the thinking of the majority of women. It’s not that rape is never, ever mentioned there; it is. However it does not totally dominate conversation as it does within feminism – as exemplified here.

                    • While sites such as iVillage and AskMen do specifically target readers based on gender, their goals aren’t of an activist nature focusing on sexism and social justice the way GMP is. It isn’t that feminists are separate from “the majority of women” for discussing things like rape and abortion on the proper forums, anymore than men discussing sometimes-radical things here are completely separate from the majority of men; a likelier explanation is that people following proper netiquette usually shift topics of discussion according to a website’s raison d’etre. I’m sure breastfeeding dominates conversations at CafeMom on an almost constant basis, while being only sporadically mentioned on the more mainstream sites. I don’t think this illustrates a vast difference between the way mothers think vs. the thinking of the majority of women. Women, including moms and feminists and women here, are also part of ‘the majority of women’ in their spare time.

                    • iVillage and other sites will have open forums where people can discuss whatever they want. Average women (the 74% who aren’t feminists) evidently have no desire to talk all day every day about rape, rape culture, patriarchy, and male privilege.

                    • Nor do 74% of women, feminist or otherwise, post at or even read iVillage. Your point is a convoluted one, as stereotypes often are, and this argument is a poor one and inappropriate for this forum. I will refrain from continuing it after this. Obviously if GMP didn’t feel this was an appropriate place to discuss rape, they wouldn’t have posted this article. It has nothing to do feminist viewpoints being completely detached from the average woman. I was simply stating the obvious; GMP is not all about rape, and compartmentalizing feminists as non-average women whom never read or talk about anything but rape while they’re on the internet is just your assumptive venting, and disingenuous to GMP.

          • One of my relationship rules is that if my partner discusses our sex life with her girlfriends it’s over.

  23. This is a fabulous post…brilliant and articulate. I think we must teach both–not to rape, and to take precautions not to be raped. I do truly feel empathy for all of the men who sense fear in women because of the small minority of men who rape. I am really hoping that this comment thread stays positive and productive, and that it honors the integrity of what you have written.

  24. great article, and thank you for recognizing the male point of veiw on this. My whole life I have been shy and quiet, introvert I suppose. And my whole life I have heard “it’s the quiet ones you have to look out for.” How I have hated that statement. I remember being in a sexual health class where the teacher said just that, I was the one student who didn’t have friends in the class and didn’t talk. It felt like I had a giant finger pointing at me, like “that’s the guy that’s going to rape you”. I wish I had of had the guts to say something, but again, I was the quiet guy, and who was I to say that you shouldn’t be scared of the quiet ones. I’ve always thought this was screwed up, and this article tells me I’m not the only one.
    I’ve always felt bad for the females that cross the street, sometimes quickly pull out cell phones, and I can’t blame them one bit, but it also sucks being made to feel like a bad person that way too, again, thank you for seeing that.

  25. Tom Matlack says:

    great post Marianne. thank you. to me the point is rape and sexual abuse is not acceptable. the idea that we have to start some kind of gender war as a side show is really counter-productive and does nothing to get to the real issue. and writing as honest and questioning as yours DOES begin to unpack the problem and let us see it for what it really is without getting distracted.

    • Tom

      Rape is already a tool of gender war, its used to bash men and advance political agendas, the only way to take the gender war out of it is to tell the other side of the story, realise that its a human problem, not a gendered or political one and get on with fixing it.

  26. “*From the U.S. Department of Justice National Crime Victimization Study, 2005.
    *In 1991, The United States Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated that 91% of rape victims were female and 99% of rapists were male. It was also estimated that over 60% of rape cases go unreported, making it the most unreported serious crime in the US.”

    The NCVS doesn’t capture female on male rape because rape by envelopment isn’t recognized as rape, only penetration is. So of course most rapists appear male and most victims appear female.

    • I wasn’t aware of this (I am now, after a quick google) and I acknowledge that statistics can only provide snapshots, which can be problematic in themselves. I do not deny that female on male rape exists to greater extent than statistics can illustrate. Ideally, we would live in a world where any form of sexual abuse or intimidation is met with a zero-tolerance policy, regardless of the gender of the perpetrator or the victim.

      • Here, the largest study of its kind found gender symmetry in perpetration of rape in relationships, one in four men and one in four women had been raped by their heterosexual partners.

        Break down of the results and a link to the original study here ht tp://feck-blog.blogspot.com/2011/05/predictors-of-sexual-coercion-against.html

        The reason we think that sex crime is gendered is the fact that we define it that way.

        • This is a very good point to make. Rape has long been seen as a gendered issue, no thanks to Brownmiller and Dworkin. Moreover the feminist insistence that rape is not about sex has also been problematic. Research into the motivations of convicted rapists does not accord with this belief. And the very low incidence of recidivism among rapists who have agreed to undergo chemical castration doesn’t support that contention either.

          Certainly, in the case of child sexual abuse, which much be also considered statutory rape, a significant number of the perpetrators are women.

          It is undeniable that the feminist movement did much to bring the subject of rape to the forefront and has caused the legal system to take rape as a much more serious crime that it has historically been considered. Nevertheless, their approach, which has often been accompanied with a high level of vitriol against all men, has robbed us of important allies in the fight against it.

          • Indeed RG. Good point.

          • RG is spot on-target.

            “Equally, men have the right to walk down the street without being treated like rabid monsters just waiting for their chance.”

            Has anyone else encountered the term ‘Schrodinger’s Rapist,’ which teaches exactly that?
            It’s disheartening that so many women in our society have been so thoroughly conditioned to literally live in constant fear.

            • People all seem extra paranoid at this time in the cultural moment, but to be fair…while I haven’t seen the term Schrodinger’s Child Custody Case or Schrodinger’s False Accusation Woman, I see similar themes on the men’s side of things.

              Any woman could take your child AND WILL!
              Any woman could falsely accuse you AND WILL!

              Doesn’t sound much different to me in terms of tone from Schrodinger’s Rapist.
              Between “any man being capable of rape”, and “any woman being capable of accusing him of it”, we seem like a right matched set of toxicity. Thing is? Most of us don’t do any of that. Most of us find ourselves in decent relationships with decent people. That particular truth is boring though.

              None of us know how badly someone can behave. We have to decide to risk trust when we walk alone. We have to risk trust when we have sex and so forth. I think it’s worth the risk personally.

              And I think it’s worth looking out for ourselves because while there are so many good people out there, there are, sadly, a few really rotten apples of both genders.

              • “Any woman could take your child AND WILL!
                Any woman could falsely accuse you AND WILL!”

                Isn’t political propaganda designed to create fear and hate though.

              • Well, when over half of the men women are in relationships start raping their exes, with the support and help of the State, then you can make that comparison.

                but not until.

              • Schrodinger’s rapist isn’t a call-to-action trying to convince women to hate men. Schrodinger’s rapist is an article attempting to explain the phenomenon where after being raped, a rape survivor becomes more cautious of everyone, and if you exhibit any sign that you don’t respect her wishes, or ignore when she says “NO”, she’ll just assume it’s safer to assume you might be a potential rapist.

                Read the article more carefully.

  27. This topic came up during Elevatorgate (google it) last summer. The woman in this incident was chastised for not trusting a strange man on an elevator, but instead assuming him to be a creep. But what would have happened if she had been raped? “Why was she talking to him? Why didn’t she try to get away? She must have been leading him on!” For every woman, it’s damned if she does, and damned if she doesn’t, until society finally starts defending people’s right to exist without being sexually assaulted.

    • ^ this

    • I agree with the Nerd and would add this:

      I think everyone has the right to listen to what their instincts or fears are saying and be as cautious as you want to be. I also support freedom of thought – she has every right to assume whatever she wants inside her own mind. Just as he has every right to think whatever he wants when he’s in the elevator with her. A thought is not an action. I don’t think she should be able to mace him just because he did nothing but give off a bad vibe, but if he feels insulted when she gets off the elevator, well too bad, that’s his problem.

      I don’t understand why we can’t just let people interpret the situation in the safest possible way and let them think whatever they want, if they’re just strangers passing in the elevator. This is getting into some effed-up boundary issues – “how DARE you think about me that way! Your thoughts are unfair!”

  28. wellokaythen says:

    This probably won’t help to dispel fear, but society’s focus on “strange men” is a little misplaced. The vast majority of rapes are perpetrated by people known to the victim, not by strangers. Often the perpetrators are actually well-known to the victim. Statistically, the bigger danger is co-workers, fellow students, a date, an acquaintance, a family member, or a spouse.

    In fact, sometimes children have learned to be so afraid of strangers that they don’t trust strangers enough to ask for help when they need it. They won’t ask a strange police officer for help if they’re being molested by a family member – strangers are bad, and your family loves you, right? I think the “stranger danger” focus is actually counterproductive and in some way shields the most likely suspects.

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