A recent article* about hookup culture and rape at US colleges had this quote from one of the students interviewed:
Some men feel that too much responsibility for preventing sexual assault has been put on their shoulders, said Chris Herries, a senior at Stanford University. While everyone condemns sexual assault, there seems to be an assumption among female students that they shouldn’t have to protect themselves by avoiding drunkenness and other risky behaviors, he said.It led rise to the "lock-up-your-vaginas" meme on Twitter, but one also wonders what the mental stance of Herries might have been here: Did he think of himself as a bystander, a potential offender or someone who was going to be falsely accused because the woman was drunk and regretted the sex later on?
“Do I deserve to have my bike stolen if I leave it unlocked on the quad?” Herries, 22, said. “We have to encourage people not to take on undue risk.”
Probably a bystander. It would make no sense to argue that "some men feel too much responsibility for preventing sexual assault" otherwise, unless we took a really sick view of what is normal and natural about guys and sexual behavior.
However boring I will be, I still have to explain why the bike stealing example doesn't quite work.
First, if you lock up your bike, it is other bikes that will be stolen. It doesn't reduce bike theft unless every single person locked up their bikes everywhere.
Second, even that wouldn't necessarily reduce bike theft. I know someone who locked up her bike to a heavy metal stand, provided for that purpose outside a library and full of bikes from other careful bike-lockers. That same someone then saw from the library window a truck drive to the stand, two burly men stepped out and simply lifted the whole stand with bikes to the back of the truck which then drove away.
The point of that story is that if all women stop drinking alcohol, the way self-defense against rape will next be formulated is by telling women not to go out at night, not to wear certain clothing, not to talk to strange men or go to fraternity parties etc. The goalposts move, and the cost of that moving for women is to limit their freedoms and to make them stay at home. Then the locks of the house are what will be blamed if the inhabitants get sexually assaulted.
It's good to be careful and to protect oneself. It's good not to drink too much. All those things are true and useful. But they smell odd when presented in a setting where rape just somehow happens, sexual harassment just somehow happens, and nothing else can be done about it, except by focusing on what the potential victims can do to protect themselves.
Here's an even more recent take on the same topic, in the context of discussing the meaning of fraternities and sororities on campuses. A former GMU President, Stephen Joel Trachtenberg:
Rehm: And you don't see them participating in sexual misconduct?
Dr. Trachtenberg: No no! I think it turns out that there are good and bad in fraternities and out of fraternities. What we're focusing here on is a general situation. I think what we're doing is creating a false correlation. For example, we point out that the women don't drink, don't have sorority parties which have alcohol. They don't have to. They go to the parties at the fraternities. So it's not as if the women aren't drinking. They are, in fact.
Without making the victims responsible for what happens, one of the groups that have to be trained not to drink in excess are women. They need to be in a position to punch the guys in the nose if they misbehave. And so part of the problem is you have men who take advantage of women who drink too much and there are women who drink too much. And we need to educate our daughters and our children in that regard.
Bolds are mine. The last paragraph is wonderful! It appears to equate trying to take advantage of someone drunk and being drunk as equal slices of the problem. If there were no drunk women -- presto! --- nobody would be trying to take advantage of women! Problem solved, and all we need to do is train women and educate daughters and, er, children.
So where are we? Roughly, it's the behavior of women which causes sexual assaults and rape and such on US campuses. I'm being unfair here, because the article I linked to in the first part gives many other points of views, but this particular attitude is so common in our hindbrains, so much alive even after it has been killed over and over again, that we need to interrogate it more (with harsh lights and no tea or toilet breaks). But first
This is from today. The Fox Outnumbered program (where four women gang up on one man and then they all state various sexist tropes) tells us that:
Fox News hosts defended the practice of catcalling, insisting women should "let men be men" and downplaying the harmful impact widespread street harassment has on women.
On the August 28 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered, hosts highlighted a New York Post opinion article that suggested women "deal with" "flattering" catcalls. Co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle defended street harassment saying, "let men be men," and, "look, men are going to be that way. What can you do?" Guest host and Fox contributor Arthur Aidala reenacted his personal signature "move" -- aiming a slow round of applause at women on the street, which one host said she'd find flattering.
Bolds are mine.
As a complete aside, ask yourself this question: What populations of looks does Fox News draw its people from? Are the women random samples from the look distribution of American women? Are the men random samples from the look distribution of American men?
Here's the picture of the people who discussed whether catcalls and such are flattering to women:
Back to the topic, sigh.