Pharyngula

Who are you calling a fly?

This is a poster from an Egyptian ad to encourage women to cover themselves to prevent rape.

i-d51fa2484ee6285c19a97af956e6b868-lollipop.jpeg

I don’t know who should feel more offended, the women who are compared to a piece of candy or the men who are compared to flies. I do know who should feel more threatened, though: the women who are seeing men promoted as being unable to resist temptation.

Comments

  1. #1 JackC
    May 10, 2010

    I suppose we have to ignore the simple fact that that lollipop is quite obviously male….

    JC

  2. #2 PZ Myers
    May 10, 2010

    And that the flies are probably laying eggs on it.

  3. #3 JackC
    May 10, 2010

    …. and I choose to remain agnostic concerning the sex of the flies….

    JC

  4. #4 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 10, 2010

    Those damn victims always bringing shit on themselves.

  5. #5 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawmqD_mcUIrSfOTlK3iGVsnEDcZmI43srbI
    May 10, 2010

    I honestly think that the culture of these backward places really and truly encourages men to rape women whenever and wherever they feel like it.

    That the religion of these horridly uncivilized regions places the burden on women to prevent rape rather than on the men to NOT rape (never EVER, no matter what) is yet another example that there is no such thing as objective morality.

  6. #6 Michelle R
    May 10, 2010

    To you men, put on a shirt before I rape you.

    (Hey, lollies are pretty phallic.)

  7. #7 MrFire
    May 10, 2010

    I don’t know who should feel more offended, the women who are compared to a piece of candy or the men who are compared to flies.

    Misogynystic accents in a stew of free-floating misanthropy.

    However I could imagine re-wording the poster to have the candy as humanity, the flies as religion, and the wrapper as rational thought.

  8. #8 Sili, The Unknown Virgin
    May 10, 2010

    Fuck.

  9. #9 Doug Little
    May 10, 2010

    Remind me again why we are against wiping these cultures off the face of the planet. I know it’s wrong, but given the 13 year old girl being stoned to death an this I’m not so sure that polite discourse is going to get the job done.

  10. #10 alysonmiers
    May 10, 2010

    I suppose the fly analogy is actually more insulting to men than that Australian imam comparing men to hungry cats a few years back. At least cats have brains.

    Then again, the men who see this ad have probably grown up in a culture that expects them to have no self-control anyway. Who are we to assume they’ll find it insulting? For all we know they think it’s perfectly natural to think of themselves as hungry flies who’ll attack any piece of sugar immodest enough to remove its wrapper.

  11. #11 Bernard Bumner
    May 10, 2010

    I do find that brazenly uncovered lollipops can drive me into a orgiastic frenzy. Many was the time I was thrown out of Woolworths for sticking my old fella in the pix and mix…

    Wait, am I missing the point? No. No, I don’t think so. Because it doesn’t make any fucking sense. Am I to presume that the entire male population of the puritanical world is only a few layers of cloth away from uncontrolled sexual violence? Can none of these men control themselves in the face of such provocation as naked skin?

    Really, I must be a superhuman that all of these years I’ve been able to look at exposed female flesh without ever resorting to non-consensual penetration. Why aren’t all of those women out there grateful for my remarkable self-restraint?

    All that meat funning freely, with bared shoulders, plunging necklines, and skirts above the knee should be thanking me…

    Remind me again why we are against wiping these cultures off the face of the planet.

    You really think that in the rest of the world people don’t believe that the victims of rape are at least partially responsible for rape?

    Victim blaming is an ugly part of almost every culture. Don’t assume (without asking) that these attitudes aren’t also held by your friends and neighbours.

  12. #12 Levi in NY
    May 10, 2010

    @ Doug Little: Because the only practical way to “wipe these (Muslim?) cultures off the face of the planet” would be genocide. I fail to see how genocide is an appropriate moral response to stoning a 13-year-old girl to death and sexually repressing women. And I have a hunch some Muslim people would find ways to fight back — extreme ways — to an open, coordinated effort to eradicate their culture militarily.

  13. #13 Ewan R
    May 10, 2010

    Yay justification for rape.

    On a different note:-

    Next poster – same lollipop, but rather than flies the panel to the left shows a fully intact city in background, panel to the right shows city devastated by earthquake.

    101 reasons to be ashamed of your body, brought to you by asshats.

  14. #14 Ben Goren
    May 10, 2010

    Googlemumble @ #5, this rather serves to demonstrate that the morality practiced in these backwards places is decidedly sub-optimal and, if they continue to practice it, will only continue to further harm their own interests.

    Doug Little, it’s worng to nuke ’em into a stone age parking lot because the consequences of doing so would be much worse for everybody, including us. We need to do what we can, but lifting them out of the muck — kicking and screaming if need be — will be far more effective than crushing them further into it.

    Of course, fantasizing about lobbing a couple of MIRVs their way may be quite constructive…

    Cheers,

    b&


    EAC Memographer
    BAAWA Knight of Blasphemy
    “All but God can prove this sentence true.”

  15. #15 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 10, 2010

    Remind me again why we are against wiping these cultures off the face of the planet. I know it’s wrong, but given the 13 year old girl being stoned to death an this I’m not so sure that polite discourse is going to get the job done.

    Apparently you don’t.

  16. #16 Sastra
    May 10, 2010

    One of the many poignant moments in Ayan Hirsi Ali’s autobiographical book Infidel was her surprise and confusion when she walked around a large non-Muslim city for the very first time and observed the exact opposite of what she had always been told would happen, in any place which didn’t properly attend to modesty. Women were going about their business in shorts and skirts and skimpy tops and sandals and yet, instead of men pursuing and insulting them, they were treated with more ordinary common decency than they were treated in any of the great Muslim nations she had lived in. In places like Saudi Arabia, women krept about veiled from head to toe and men would scornfully shove them into the street when they passed, just as a matter of course. There were frequent sneers, gibes, insults, and sexual passes made to women shuffling along meekly in public. The implication, and the outright lesson, that she had been taught was that this was nothing, compared to what it would be if women were not suitably veiled. If women showed their bodies, the insults would then become unbearable.

    On the contrary, there weren’t any. The tension was absent. Men were ignoring displays of flesh which would have gotten a women imprisoned in Muslim countries. She had never seen so much respect. When she remarked on it, nobody seemed to know what she was talking about.

    Opened her eyes. Feminine modesty was not the solution to a universal problem: it was the damn cause of what was only a problem when it was made into a problem.

  17. #17 MrFire
    May 10, 2010

    Remind me again why we are against wiping these cultures off the face of the planet.

    You answer this in your very next set of words:

    I know it’s wrong

  18. #18 DLC
    May 10, 2010

    They don’t call it I slam for nothing.
    somehow, Islamic men are expected — no, encouraged! to have no self control. To submit to the will of Allah (peas be upon him), and thus any act committed after doing so is automatically sacrosanct ? Raping, murdering, robbing, blowing shit up, it’s all cool with Allah (whirled peas unto him) because you’re doing it in his name ?
    Just don’t draw any pictures of him or Moe and you’re fine, I guess.
    Any chance we could get them and the christian dominionists to move into the same part of the world, preferably one far removed from the rest of us? Then they could Allah -Jesus – Mohammed – Paul themselves to smoking ruin and not get any on us.
    Sounds like a win-win solution to me.

  19. #19 barney270
    May 10, 2010

    I worked in Egypt for over a year. And I brought up the imam comparing men to hungry cats in Aus with the egyptians I worked with. I pointed it out because how silly that looked for us australians, but they TOTALLY agreed with it. This was at a windsurfing resort full of 6ft russians in rather slim getups. After that I decided to tell every egyptian exactly what I thought of Allah.

  20. #20 Aagrajag
    May 10, 2010

    I think what Doug Little means to say, is that some cultures have little or no worth, and should be suppressed wherever possible, without infringing on the basic rights of the poor sods living in them.

    People of these cultures are still people, but the culture itself should be eradicated. Not all cultures are equal, and many do not even deserve to exist. Many of those labouring under such systems can still be saved.

    Put more concretely, the recent post about the “little prick”, the symbolic nod in place of full-on Female Genital Mutilation is precisely the kind of mealy-mouthed capitulation to these barbarians that needs to cease.

  21. #21 Brownian, OM
    May 10, 2010

    There has got to be at least one Pharyngulite literate enough in Arabic to translate the poster’s text for us.

  22. #22 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Scholar of Shen Zhou
    May 10, 2010

    To be sure, it isn’t just the Muslim patriarch who has this view about women. I’ve known many Christians who thinks that it’s the woman’s fault if they are raped.

  23. #23 Patrick
    May 10, 2010

    i just noticed on second look at the picture there is still a fly on the left side is all alone with the lollipop just waiting for the opportunity to decide that the wrapped lollipop was asking for it.

  24. #24 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 10, 2010

    To be sure, it isn’t just the Muslim patriarch who has this view about women. I’ve known many Christians who thinks that it’s the woman’s fault if they are raped.

    Oh no doubt about it, but that can be said of virtually any patriarchal institution’s leadership and rabid followers.

  25. #25 Louis
    May 10, 2010

    Fucking islamic bigots. I don’t want lollies. I’m diabetic.*

    Dirty lollies. With their wrappers off. Slags. Showing their glistening, shiny, sugaryness. “Oh come and lick me” they seem to cry. They know they want to be eaten. Sluts.

    Yeah, I don’t want them.

    Louis

    *I’m not actually diabetic. I’m joking.

  26. #26 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawmZU8bjyyzHXwkE-kJ7LjNaM5j7YiKJPHg
    May 10, 2010

    Bah! You don’t need a Burqa to avoid rape. Just wear a pair of Skinny Jeans

  27. #27 alysonmiers
    May 10, 2010

    there is still a fly on the left side is all alone with the lollipop just waiting

    The implication is that, since the sugar is covered, there is nothing for the fly to grab onto. So the message is that if a woman covers herself up, any man who sees her won’t be able to touch her. Right?

  28. #28 texag98
    May 10, 2010

    This ad is just an example of the on going problem of people not being able to accept responsibility for their own behavior.

  29. #29 Doug Little
    May 10, 2010

    Yeah, OK I guess you told me. Sometimes I say things out of frustration, but it seems that reform within these cultures if nigh on impossible to initiate. I would say that education is a big factor in getting things moving in the right direction, but with theocratic governments in place controlling what is taught in schools it seems like a pipe dream.

  30. #30 JonD
    May 10, 2010

    @Brownian, the woman who posted it said the text meant “you can’t stop them, you have to protect yourself, he who created you knows what’s best for you.”

  31. #31 ereador
    May 10, 2010

    I would just like to point out: Lollipop, lollipop, la-la-la-lolly-lolly. This is so wrong on so many levels.

    There must be Egyptian men who do not rape. What do they think about this crap? Do they see the holes in the logic the same way we do — the ludicrous underlying assumptions? And yes, I know the blame-the-victim mentality is alive and ill here in the US also.

    The religious have such hangups about sex; it gives me the creeps always, not understanding the threat, really. I find women’s bodies attractive, and that’s wrong how? And it’s their fault? I guess one issue at least is the notion of “sin” as opposed to our secular notions of making a mistake, a poor decision, or doing something deliberately hurtful. Those of us who don’t believe in “sin” are not going to get the sheer existential horror of an unclad female.

  32. #32 Brownian, OM
    May 10, 2010

    To be sure, it isn’t just the Muslim patriarch who has this view about women. I’ve known many Christians who thinks that it’s the woman’s fault if they are raped.

    Yep. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, right?

    Just to preempt us from getting too swept up in the “OMG! Savage brown camel-fuckers!” sentiment that Doug Little (probably unintentially) kicked off, it’s worth noting that this sort of theme of men having passions so deep as to be nearly uncontrollable should they have cause to surface is common outside of Islamic culture. It’s the culture of honour and machismo, where a dangerous or deadly fight might break out at an unguarded remark, and it exists in any number of places, such as the southern US, some parts of Latin America, and my high school.

    In places like Saudi Arabia, women krept about veiled from head to toe and men would scornfully shove them into the street when they passed, just as a matter of course. There were frequent sneers, gibes, insults, and sexual passes made to women shuffling along meekly in public. The implication, and the outright lesson, that she had been taught was that this was nothing, compared to what it would be if women were not suitably veiled. If women showed their bodies, the insults would then become unbearable.

    This just made me sad. (Okay, and with a nod to Doug’s comment, made me fantasize about cracking some heads too. Thankfully I don’t live in a culture wherein some nebulous sense of ‘honour’ or other vague concept of manliness demands I do so.)

  33. #33 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Scholar of Shen Zhou
    May 10, 2010

    “he who created you knows what’s best for you.”

    If he knew what’s best for them, why did he create people to harm them?
    So basically it boils down to “men can’t be blamed because we have no rational thinking, no conception of right or wrong, and no self control” therefore “women needs to protect things and if they don’t then they’re evil because you can’t blame the men”? What a way to fucking dehumanize both sexes.

  34. #34 Ben Goren
    May 10, 2010

    To be fair, there is a disturbing kernel of almost-truth to the blame-the-victim trope.

    If we take a reducto ad absurdam to it, consider a woman who voluntarily went into an unguarded prison yard filled with serial rapists and started to do a strip tease and pole dance. Though the fault still obviously lies with the men who gang rape her in that situation, it should also be obvious that she should have expected such an outcome.

    The answer, of course, is not to browbeat women into being “modest.” Rather, the answer is to turn culture into an environment like an European beach where clothing is largely irrelevant and all may feel and be perfectly safe. And the path to such a culture depends on women insisting on the right to wear what they please, not on men dictating dress codes to them.

    This also, of course, means that women who are assaulted should be viewed as sisters of Mrs. Rosa Parks, and most especially of Ms. Addie Mae Collins, Ms. Carole Robertson, Ms. Cynthia Wesley, and Ms. Denise McNair.

    Cheers,

    b&


    EAC Memographer
    BAAWA Knight of Blasphemy
    “All but God can prove this sentence true.”

  35. #35 Shplane
    May 10, 2010

    #9

    Because we haven’t invented a nuke that can differentiate between the bigoted assholes and the people they’re oppressing. Not yet, anyways.

  36. #36 Doug Little
    May 10, 2010

    When someone mentioned the fly on the left I just had an image of a woman walking down the street with a tiny little guy coming along for the ride trying to hump her leg like a dog.

  37. #37 peter.jeaiem
    May 10, 2010

    I am happy to see that the picture you link from is in a Tunisian forum, where it is also condemned. Tunisia being a relativly secular muslim country.

  38. #38 M31
    May 10, 2010

    I thought it was a condom ad.

    “Keep your lolly wrapped or you’ll get some kind of bug.”

  39. #39 tamar
    May 10, 2010

    I must say some of the comments here are showing a state of mind that frightens me almost as this ad does.
    I think people here feel much too comfortable to name other cultures as “horridly uncivilized regions” (@5), not to mention suggesting to wipe them off the face of the planet. And no, Ben Goren (@14), explaining why it is not a good idea does not help. Actually, the mere fact that you see it necessary to explain such thing… well.

    I do agree that not all cultures are equal. I do think that we should aspire to change a lot of the mysogentic aspects of some culture (and other aspects as well). But just think for a minute about your culture (American and European, I would assume, for the most part). Nothing there you would like to change, maybe? Think about your culture 60, 50, even 40 years ago. Objectification of women, and treating them as inferior to men, was everywhere (39 years ago the last country in Europe gave voting rights to women. Yes – 1971).

    Would you advocate to wipe the western cultures off the face of the earth?

    Change should come, defintely. And is comming. Treating anything that your not familiar with with contempt, though, might just not be the right way. Clustering Egypt and Somalia together under the title of “horridly uncivilized regions”, for example, is extremely ignorant, and also not very helpful.

    A feminst, atheist from the Middle-East

  40. #40 Lynna, OM
    May 10, 2010

    Sastra @16: Thanks for the reference to, and summary from, Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book. That makes the point perfectly.

    I’m going to save your comment for use when mormon friends bring up the responsibility of women to dress modestly. There’s plenty of “it’s the woman’s fault” comments in the writings of past “prophets” in that religion. Even into the 1990s mormon Elders were placing at least partial blame on the victim, and current manuals for Bishops still place partial blame on the victim. The damage done when partially blaming the victim is compounded when “atonement of Jesus Christ” is offered as a “cure” instead of taking the crime directly to the police:

    The victim must do all in his or her power to stop the abuse. Most often, the victim is innocent because of being disabled by fear or the power or authority of the offender. At some point in time, however, the Lord may prompt a victim to recognize a degree of responsibility for abuse. Your priesthood leader will help assess your responsibility so that, if needed, it can be addressed. Otherwise the seeds of guilt will remain and sprout into bitter fruit. Yet no matter what degree of responsibility, from absolutely none to increasing consent, the healing power of the atonement of Jesus Christ can provide a complete cure. – Apostle Richard G. Scott “Healing the Tragic Scars of Abuse,” General Conference, Ensign, May 1992

    From ex-mormon “Deconstructor”:

    It was (and continues to be) the instruction of the Bishop to help the person who has “lost their chastity” to identify their part in the transgression and what they need to repent of. (Perhaps they wore suggestive clothing, or behaved in a sexually provocative way, for example; and thereby must assume a measure of blame for the crime which was perpetrated on them.)

  41. #41 Gregory Greenwood
    May 10, 2010

    Michelle R @ 6;

    To you men, put on a shirt before I rape you.

    *removes shirt, puts on some Barry White, looks expectant*

    ;-p

    If I can manage to be serious for a moment, this culture of blaming women for rape and behaving as if men have no obligation toward self control is in and of itself simply a way of maintaining control over women.

    The fear of sexual violence that is treated by society as being self-inflicted through ‘immodesty’ is a neat (not to mention repugnantly misogynist) means of keeping women submissive and out of public life.

    This is one of the reasons why militant Islamists hate the Western world so much. Liberal democracies give the lie to their claims that women must always be submissive and covered from head to foot or risk being raped by the very fact of their existence. Women dress in a far more revealing fashion in the West and, while rapes still occur, it is hardly as though every man who sees a plunging neckline or a miniskirt instantly rapes its possessor.

    The West is an example of a different way of living that directly clashes with the Islamist “my way or the highway” line. As such the mere existence of the West is a threat to the power and authority of the hardliners. This is one of the reasons why rational debate and attempts at coexistence are so difficult to acheive with Islamist militants and indeed fundies of all descriptions; anything that differs from their chosen worldview and lifestyle is seen as a threat by them, and the only way they know to respond to a perceived threat is with violence.

    The pen may be mightier than the sword, but it is still damned difficult to reason effectively with someone whose idea of a counter argument is trying to shoot you in the head, blow you up or stone you to death.

    This is one of those days when I am really glad that I had the good fortune to be born in a more or less free society.

  42. #42 Michelle R
    May 10, 2010

    @#26: That is… the most fucking ridiculous judgement I have ever read.

  43. #43 And-U-Say
    May 10, 2010

    1) Wow, just wow.
    2) I am not yet willing to believe that this represents all Egyptions or muslims. I am sure that there are Egyption men that would find this insulting. Unfortunately, not a large enough fraction of them.
    3) I would agree with the poster that suggested that the best way to eliminate this aspect of the insanity that is Islam would be to demonstrate its non validity, ie to show the world that men can control themselves and that women should be safe no matter what they wear. I think US (and other countries) movies do that to some extent. Travel experiences do that as well. So does moving to western nations and seeing what the indigenous population acts like.

  44. #44 mothwentbad
    May 10, 2010

    #39 -

    Thank you, Tamar. Maybe if we want you to come back, we won’t spend so much time idly pondering the virtues and demerits of genocide.

  45. #45 Platypus
    May 10, 2010

    Is it wrong of me that the thing that bugs me the MOST about this ad is that flies tuck their legs up under their bodies as they’re flying around?

    Also, if those flies are typical Musca domestica specimens then that lollipop must be the size of a tennis ball.

  46. #46 Doug Little
    May 10, 2010

    Change should come, defintely. And is comming

    Have you got any examples! Anything to offset what has been put up here over the last couple of days would be good. Unfortunately I just don’t see how any progress can be made when religion has such a stranglehold on governance.

  47. #47 emigrant2immigrant
    May 10, 2010

    I am an American living abroad in Jordan. Jordan is an Islamic theocracy, albeit one of the more tolerant and friendly ones in the region. (One must never forget, however, that the law is Sharia.)

    I see these kind of references regionally – flies to lollipops and worse. I always wondered if people are so stupid that they don’t recognize that these types of references are more insulting to men than to women? After all, the essence of the message is that men are incapable of controlling themselves, that they are sub-human and primal.

    In response to Comment # 5, these places do not encourage rape in any way; in fact in a place like Jordan, the rape of a woman could trigger a messy tribal war. But after that, the woman will be blamed, made to feel ashamed, and possibly killed to “cleanse the family honor.**”

    **Important to note here that honor killing is not the practice of normal people in Jordan, but a practice in the heavily tribal “village” areas; the equivalent of toothless, American rednecks. Or Republicans. :-))

  48. #48 JonD
    May 10, 2010

    @Sastra
    I loved that book – it gave me a great deal of perspective on what the experience of coming from an Islamic society to a Western society is like, and how difficult it can be.

    I also just love Ayaan Hirsi Ali herself. When I was reading, I was totally overwhelmed by how brave, tough, resilient, determined, clever, resourceful, well-spoken &c. &c. she was (is). (She’s also rather beautiful, and I must admit to a bit of a crush).

  49. #49 Lynna, OM
    May 10, 2010

    @11

    You really think that in the rest of the world people don’t believe that the victims of rape are at least partially responsible for rape?
    †††††Victim blaming is an ugly part of almost every culture. Don’t assume (without asking) that these attitudes aren’t also held by your friends and neighbours.

    This story is from August, 2009, in the USA.

    Lawyers for a Connecticut hotel where a woman was raped at gunpoint in front of her children is putting some blame on the victim, saying in court documents that she was careless and negligent.
    †††††The papers filed in Superior Court by the Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa last month are in response to the woman’s lawsuit claiming the hotel failed to prevent the 2006 attack by Gary Fricker. He’s now serving 20 years in prison.

    JW Marriott Jr., who owns the Marriott Hotel chain, and pays these lawyers, earns an estimated $190-$200 million per year on pay-per-view porn, including a healthy chunk from Provo, Utah. To be fair, JW Marriott Jr. pays a tithing on these earnings to the LDS Church.

    This story is from October 17th, 2003:

    “[BYU Police Officer Arnie] Lemmon said most Provo residents are religious and have a tendency to stigmatize discussion of sexual assault and sometimes to demonize the survivor.”
    †††††”[The Mormon rape victim] said something that blew me away. She said, ‘I should have died before I let him do that to me,’ ” Lemmon said. “I was troubled that she had to believe that.”
    †††††”Lemmon read from a letter written by a BYU rape victim who shared a similar belief. “I’m a perversion to the good saints of my church,” wrote the victim, who said she wished she were dead. Tragic thoughts like these are common among rape victims in Provo, Lemmon said.” – Deseret Morning News, Friday, October 17, 2003, “90% of Provo rapes not reported to police,” http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,515039389,00.html

  50. #50 texag98
    May 10, 2010

    To be sure, it isn’t just the Muslim patriarch who has this view about women. I’ve known many Christians who thinks that it’s the woman’s fault if they are raped.

    I’ve know a few Christians who also think that way, but it doesn’t make them right nor representative of correct beliefs. Each person is responsible for their own actions.

  51. #51 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Scholar of Shen Zhou
    May 10, 2010

    I’ve know a few Christians who also think that way, but it doesn’t make them right nor representative of correct beliefs. Each person is responsible for their own actions.

    No where did I imply that they were.

  52. #52 ronsullivan
    May 10, 2010

    As was demonstrated in Algeria back in the day, a burkha makes it easier to carry concealed weapons.

    (sigh) That’s just as much a fantasy as anything else posted on this, I’m sure. I’d better go have more coffee before I regret not putting whiskey in my cornflakes this morning.

  53. #53 Ben Goren
    May 10, 2010

    tamar, just because I find fault in other societies doesn’t mean I don’t find fault in the society I live in. Quite the contrary.

    And since when has emotion or reason by themselves ever been more effective than the two combined?

    If ever there were a region deserving of the description, “horridly uncivilized,” and one worthy of utter contempt, it is Somalia. Afghanistan under the Taliban is another example, but so is North Korea. They damn well deserve to bury their collective heads in shame, and, lest we share in their shame, we should be sure they know that fact (and do what we can to help them clean up their messes).

    The rest of the Middle East isn’t quite so bad, but that’s more like comparing two pig sties and observing that one is only a week overdue to be cleaned, as opposed to the other that’s months overdue.

    Cheers,

    b&


    EAC Memographer
    BAAWA Knight of Blasphemy
    “All but God can prove this sentence true.”

  54. #54 Carlie
    May 10, 2010

    “Don’t go out drinking or you might get raped.”

    “Don’t go out after dark alone or you might get raped.”

    “Look what she was wearing – she asked for it.”

    “If you change clothes in your own hotel room, you’re asking for it.”

    “If you wear tight pants, you must have assisted in your own rape .”

    Yeah, we’re tons better than them.

  55. #55 chrisbloom7
    May 10, 2010

    +1 to MrFire. I think this could be the new LOLCatz.

  56. #56 Matt Penfold
    May 10, 2010

    Blame the Victim is prevalent here in the UK as well. It seems women are more likely to put part of the blame of the victim of rape than men are.

    BBC report here

  57. #57 Brownian, OM
    May 10, 2010

    The pen may be mightier than the sword, but it is still damned difficult to reason effectively with someone whose idea of a counter argument is trying to shoot you in the head, blow you up or stone you to death.

    This is one of those days when I am really glad that I had the good fortune to be born in a more or less free society.

    Even in our respectively ‘free’ societies, that freedom ain’t shared equally among all members. I believe Amadou Diallo would consider the arguments used against him on February 4, 1999 to be very unreasonable indeed, were he still alive.

  58. #58 Doug Little
    May 10, 2010

    So tamar,

    How goes the fight, I would love to here your perspective on all things middle east with you being both a Feminist and Atheist. You know you are right about me being ignorant to the finer points of middle eastern culture, I have not traveled there and get my news through both the internet and traditional sources. Unfortunately there seems to be a lot that is wrong with the culture as it stands at the moment and not much right with it, so please feel free to bring us some of the good, maybe PZ would be good enough to give you a guest post once in a while. I think that would be great, I would love to be proved wrong on this.

  59. #59 Knockgoats
    May 10, 2010

    tamar,
    Thanks for that – we could certainly do with more input from atheists in majority-Muslim countries.

    Doug Little,
    It’s a common misapprehension in the West that “they” have “always been like that”, but it’s quite false: I am old enough to remember when secular nationalism was politically dominant in most Arab countries. It is largely its perceived failure to either lead to real (i.e. economic) independence from the West, or improve the lot of most of the population, that have led to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.

  60. #60 morgantj
    May 10, 2010

    This is despicable. Couldn’t they create an equally effective ad that shows a man in jail, and a man not in jail to prevent rape? I mean, after all, if they want to appeal to consequences of an action, it should be the despicable action of the raper, not of the women for failing to hide their natural beauty (which is of course in the eye of the beholder). Part of the problem is that they see the guy as being the victim and not the women. They believe the guy is a victim to the women?s partially exposed skin. Because they believe men are superior to women, they believe women are the problem. This lack of proper value, this lack of equality between men and women there contributes to this mentality. They feel it more acceptable to punish what they believe to be the lesser valuable being.

  61. #61 eMel
    May 10, 2010

    It’s clearly the lollipop’s fault, what with it’s brazen display of yumminess.

  62. #62 Bribase
    May 10, 2010

    Sastra @16:

    Citing that from Ayaan’s book just added a silver lining to a very depressing thread :)

    I live in south London where there are a lot of women in full brurqua going about their day.

    I’ve always wondered what they make of women who are normally dressed that are just as respected as everyone else, often more so than in their own culture. Of course it’s very easy to insulate oneself from people, turn on the tv and find fault with lady gaga but another thing to see an entire culture on their doorstep that functions quite happily with women dressing as they please.

    Of course we can all bring up opression of musilm women but there must be moments when any Muslim man or woman has to point at any number of European women and say “look! She’s not a rape victim! She’s not a sexual object! Her opinion counts and she’s respected in society, what’s different about my culture?”

    All religion aside I simply don’t get the logic.

    B

  63. #63 Louis
    May 10, 2010

    Tamar #39 and Carlie #54:

    Here here! No more needs be said (although don’t feel that this is any form of restriction! ;-) ). You’ve done enough from two good angles on this issue.

    Louis

  64. #64 sgiffy
    May 10, 2010

    @54,

    The jeans one, yeah thats nonsense, though its not “she was raped because she was dressed ‘provocatively’ but more the jury thinking removing her pants in the way she described without her consent would have been impossible. I can’t say I agree, but then I also can’t say I have tried it.

    As for Erin Andrews, the guy was sentenced to 30 months in prison. How exactly is this a failing of our society?

    The biggest difference though is that official policy is not “it’s your fault”. Not anymore.

  65. #65 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawl3TpOVyxxwCT5cVU3M80c_cpxoMBZmiOQ
    May 10, 2010

    What absolutely baffles me is that the inventors of these advertisements so actively shut out the truth.

    It is okay to form the hypothesis that a woman’s clothing has an effect on her likelihood of being a rape victim. But once that hypothesis has been formed, it should be subjected to evidence.

    So when we compare countries from both end of the spectrum – Egypt vs. Brazil – should not Brazil have a much higher number of rapes? I mean… there, and on lot of the beaches of Europe, it is not uncommon for women to go to the beach topless.

    Without actually having checked the numbers, I have a very strong feeling for what the outcome will be.

  66. #66 Knockgoats
    May 10, 2010

    I also just love Ayaan Hirsi Ali herself. – JonD

    I don’t. Anyone who snuggles up to the far right (Theo van Gogh, who described Muslims as “goat-fuckers”, Geert Wilders, the American Enterprise Institute) is my enemy.

  67. #67 pteryxx
    May 10, 2010

    In places like Saudi Arabia, women krept about veiled from head to toe and men would scornfully shove them into the street when they passed, just as a matter of course. There were frequent sneers, gibes, insults, and sexual passes made to women shuffling along meekly in public. The implication, and the outright lesson, that she had been taught was that this was nothing, compared to what it would be if women were not suitably veiled. If women showed their bodies, the insults would then become unbearable.

    Something disturbing is making itself clear to me. “Stay veiled or you’ll get attacked” sounds all too familiar. Compared to, say, “Pray or else you’ll burn in hell.” Or, “Don’t try to run or you’ll really get it.” Is there really any functional difference between emotional abuse on the interpersonal scale and abuse on the institutional scale, or the cultural?

  68. #68 tamar
    May 10, 2010

    To #58 and #59 –
    I’m sorry. I was misleading, and kinda ment to, to be frank. I’m not from a Muslim-majority country. I’m from a Jewish-majority country (yes, I know nobody think about Israel when they say “Middle-East”, but we are there, too).

    I signed as “Middle-Eastern” because I felt the whole area was under attack, and I felt that I, as someone that maybe knows a bit more about the Arab cultures, should say something in its deffence. There are atheists in Arab countries, though, and there are feminists. Certainly not enough, but there are.

    Who asked me to give an example to a change that is happening?
    Here is a very infuential faminist, making a difference:
    http://www.nooralhusseinfoundation.org/

  69. #69 Q.E.D
    May 10, 2010

    In conversation with a muslim minicab driver in London about what he thought about burquas, he explained that

    “if you walk through a garden and see a beautiful flower you must pick it”

    I was gobsmacked that behind the thin veil of flowery analogy he was admitting to being a potential rapist.

    Hopefully it was just stupid machismo bluster because otherwise he is one of these guys:

    http://www.met.police.uk/sapphire/staying_safe.htm#mini_cab

  70. #70 emigrant2immigrant
    May 10, 2010

    Tamar #68, are you an Arab Israeli?

    And of course, there ARE atheists in the Middle East, but “in the closet” so to speak. Atheism is generally not even recognized here. The laws are based on religion. As you know, people in Jordan are governed by either Sharia or Ecclesiastical law (and the society as a whole is based on Sharia), but there is no such thing as secular law. And even Christians are limited: some denominations are not even recognized and they have to identify themselves under an established and accepted sect.

    And I agree that some people, such as Queen Noor (and Queen Rania) are pushing for change, but in many ways the entire effort is backsliding. The number of women wearing full face veils is increasing dramatically, for example.

    As a general note, my experience of living in an Islamic theocracy pushed me over the edge from a religious standpoint of “not sure what to believe” to atheism. Appropriately in the closet, of course.

  71. #71 ashleyfmiller
    May 10, 2010

    Tamar @ 39

    (American and European, I would assume, for the most part). Nothing there you would like to change, maybe? Think about your culture 60, 50, even 40 years ago. Objectification of women, and treating them as inferior to men, was everywhere (39 years ago the last country in Europe gave voting rights to women. Yes – 1971).

    Would you advocate to wipe the western cultures off the face of the earth?

    The comments here do get a little OTT, but if I was in America 60 years ago, I probably would have been advocating for the culture to get wiped off the face of the earth. What I would probably mean is that racist, homophobic, women abusing white guys’ culture of entitlement and abuse needed to be replaced by something a little more progressive. I’m here still advocating the equal treatment of women and homosexuals. So in that sense, I do think their culture, and their religion, should be wiped off the face of the earth. I feel that way about Christians too.

    Change should come, defintely. And is comming. Treating anything that your not familiar with with contempt, though, might just not be the right way. Clustering Egypt and Somalia together under the title of “horridly uncivilized regions”, for example, is extremely ignorant, and also not very helpful.

    I think it’s completely fair to categorize their behavior as horridly uncivilized. The same way I categorize the American habit of putting as many black men behind bars as possible as uncivilized. I don’t agree with you assertion that we have to respect other cultures implicitly or that we’re treating them with contempt because we’re unfamiliar. The contempt comes from a place of deep familiarity. I’m sure there are things worth praising in the culture, but, from my perspective, there’s really nothing changing my opinion on the middle east and how it treats its women until the middle east changes how it treats its women.

  72. #72 tamar
    May 10, 2010

    To #70-
    Ah, no. Jewish. I said I know “a bit more” about Arab culture than some of the people here, because, well, I do live in the Middle East, visited Arab countries, learned Arabic and know Arabs. I’m not an expert, and did not mean to pretend I was.

    And you are right, the rise of religion in Muslim countries is real, and is something to worry about. But I’m also worried about the tendecy of some people to see the world as us – the civilized – and them – the uncivilized, the cultures (if not the people) that we better just get rid of. Let’s remmember that our society was about as bigoted, and not so long ago (a houndred or 2 houndred years is a very short time, in a historical perspective).

    We have changed. Who is to say they can’t?

  73. #73 Bill Dauphin, OM
    May 10, 2010

    Sastra (@16):

    Feminine modesty was not the solution to a universal problem: it was the damn cause of what was only a problem when it was made into a problem.

    I agree with you (and Ayan Hirsi Ali), but I think modesty, per se, may be the proximate cause, rather than the root cause.

    I’m in the middle of readinglistening to Half the Sky by Nick Kristof and his wife. Much about their approach to solutions infuriates me (e.g., they’re very eager to incorporate American conservatives and Christian missionaries into their solutions to the problems of women and girls in the developing world, while understating the role of these groups in perpetuating the problems in the first place), but the information they lay out about sex slavery, forced marriage, maternal deaths and injuries, and other aspects of the plight of women and girls around the world has helped confirm and reinforce my conviction that it’s magical thinking about human sexuality, and in particular female sexuality, that undergirds most, if not all, species of oppression of women.

    It’s not hard to understand why prescientific people would view sexuality as powerful magic, and women’s sexuality as the most powerful magic of all, related as it is to the creation of new life. Given that, it’s not hard to see the relationship between controlling this “magic” and social power.

    The promulgation of allegedly divine moral codes around sexuality (and aspects of biology related to sexuality, such as menstruation and pregnancy) is, I think, all about power, and as such, I believe it is at the root of the cult of virginity and feminine “modesty,” casual rape, sexual slavery, forced marriage, honor killing, bride burning, and all the other horrors faced by women in traditional cultures dominated by religious sects that have not been modernized. Further, I think this mysticalization of sexuality is at least partly to blame for the more commonplace, less visibly extreme (though no less worthy of condemnation) instances of sexism and misogyny in the modern developed world, because vestiges of magical thinking about sex remain even in the most ostensibly secular of societies.

    It’s not, of course, that men in more-or-less secular societies don’t see the women Ali observed in “shorts and skirts and skimpy tops and sandals” as sexual beings, obviously; it’s that they don’t see sexuality itself as a potentially dangerous divine mystery (or at least, they don’t see it that way to nearly the degree their fellows in traditional cultures in the developing world).

    Maybe it’s just wishful thinking on the part of a horny male (is that redundant?), but I really think the best way to attack sexism at its roots is to utterly demystify sex itself.¹ That is, of course, easier (by many orders of magnitude) said than done… but attacking and delegitimizing religion at every turn is a start.

    ¹ Which is by no means meant to preempt “treating the symptoms” in the shorter term. Strategy and tactics….

  74. #74 Gregory Greenwood
    May 10, 2010

    Brownian, OM @ 57;

    Even in our respectively ‘free’ societies, that freedom ain’t shared equally among all members. I believe Amadou Diallo would consider the arguments used against him on February 4, 1999 to be very unreasonable indeed, were he still alive.

    That is why I said “more or less free”, sometimes it is disturbingly less rather than more. Still, I think that the UK, for all its many flaws and foolish, anachronistic laws, is still probably freer on average than counties like Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Somalia. Not that this in any way exuses the regular face-palm worthy laws and actions of the UK government.

    Having said this, in the UK itself you still hear the ‘she was asking for it’ argument about rape victims, and this argument is made as often by non-muslims as by muslims.

  75. #75 Bill Dauphin, OM
    May 10, 2010

    Carlie (@54):

    “If you wear tight pants, you must have assisted in your own rape .”

    Yeah, we’re tons better than them.

    At least in (most of) the West, if you assist in your own rape by wearing tight pants, your own brother or husband usually won’t stone you to death or set fire to you.

    On a slightly less grimly flippant note, nobody’s suggesting the whole world doesn’t have a long way to go on this issue… but at least in the U.S., the people who assert that women are to blame for their own rapes are (generally) in the minority, and are (usually) derided as misogynist whackos… unlike some other parts of the world, where women’s alleged responsibility for their own rapes is state policy.

  76. #76 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlZ5SUf0_EmBhfJBKb8y48djZ8Xyyzo3_Y
    May 10, 2010

    Of course we can all bring up opression of musilm women but there must be moments when any Muslim man or woman has to point at any number of European women and say “look! She’s not a rape victim! She’s not a sexual object! Her opinion counts and she’s respected in society, what’s different about my culture?”

    All religion aside I simply don’t get the logic.

    I tried to gather some data on the actual numbers. I found that in all muslim countries I checked, they simply do not keep consistent statistics on rape. For them, it’s a problem “that doesn’t happen when we don’t want it to”. So it’s very easy and convenient for them to constantly peddle and reinforce the lie that the West is depraved, that everyone gets constantly raped and mugged and everyone murders their children. They work exactly like Communist regimes worked demonizing the West. On a daily basis, every daily paper demonstrating some case of rape in some infidel country, can be effective brainwashing. Once the brain is conditioned to accept this “truth”, each reinforcement is biochemically rewarded. Each rape case here means that the Saudi believer feels better about himself and his societal norms. “Stuff like that doesn’t happen in muslim countries”. This brainwashing has the effect that even after months or years in the West, someone conditioned that way will not be able to realize the falsehood he’s forced to believe. We still have East German communists here who insist that everything was much better back then and most people were perfectly happy. Only recently, after two decades, one of their current party leaders, who was a teenager during communist rule, admitted that she duped herself into glorifying too much of those times.
    Imagine how much harder it must be for a person to free his or her mind from such delusions when they not only underwent much more intense brainwashing, but are still spending most of their day within a social environment that encourages repressing change. If they don’t speak the language well, they have no idea what the newspapers say, what the people on the streets are talking about in their harsh and crude languages. Everything’s strange. There’s a poorly lit street, there’s a park, there’s a dark driveway, that’s where the rapists wait. My husband is right, I need to get back home soon. He’ll show me the picture of another rape victim tomorrow morning. He’ll keep me safe, and we live under Allah’s will.

  77. #77 tutone21
    May 10, 2010

    What is going on? There wasn’t a better idea presented that would work as an analogy? How in ANY way is this like rape? The flies aren’t even having sex with the lollipop. This would maybe work if the message was trying to prevent uncovered women from being eaten, but then only very loosely. If a person thinks that women wearing provacative clothes is bad I will listen to the reasons, but this is actually insulting people’s intelligence.

    Kind of OT, but there is a stupid post going around facebook stating what would happen if you were an undocumented visitor in North Korea or Afghanistan, and comparing that to the immigration bill that just passed here in AZ. Doesn’t that send up a huge red flag to supporters of the bill? Does anybody really want to move toward the policies being used in North Korea or Afghanistan? Again, I find it insulting.

  78. #78 john.marley
    May 10, 2010

    When I was in Navy Boot Camp, oh so many years ago, my Company Commander explained it to us (18 year old punks) this way:

    “It doesn’t matter if she’s stark naked and dry-humping the bumper of your car. If she says ‘No’ and you do it anyway, it’s rape.”

  79. #79 ArabianStallion
    May 10, 2010

    Sorry for coming late to the party, guys.

    An approximate translation (this is, after all, an Egyptian dialect..):

    “You can’t stop them,
    But you can protect yourself,
    He who created you knows what’s best for you”

  80. #80 strange gods before me ?
    May 10, 2010

    Bill,

    at least in the U.S., the people who assert that women are to blame for their own rapes are (generally) in the minority,

    Do you have evidence of this? It would be interesting if the US is more progressive than the UK.

    and are (usually) derided as misogynist whackos

    This seems an extraordinary claim.

  81. #81 JustALurker
    May 10, 2010

    However I could imagine re-wording the poster to have the candy as humanity, the flies as religion, and the wrapper as rational thought.

    I would love it if someone could photoshop it to make the poster say that. Hell, maybe I’ll stumble my way around to try and figure it out myself.

  82. #82 chaseacross
    May 10, 2010

    The Western position on rape is more magnitudes more enlightened then the one in Islamic theocracies and republics. Yes, there are miscarriages of justice in the former. As much as we’d like to believe otherwise, rape is bound up in the quicksand of memory, emotions, and relationships. It lacks the clarity of murder and robbery, where the physical evidence is all one needs to assert the crime. And there are still some Westerners (Bill O’Reilly comes to mind), who insist on asserting sentiments similar to the one being taken apart here. But in Islamic countries, rape can result in death for the victim. I can’t think of any similar incidents in contemporary Western jurisprudence.

  83. #83 glenister_m
    May 10, 2010

    I would like to see a counter-poster using a flower instead of a lollipop, which when covered up to “protect it from the hands that can’t resist touching it” blocks out the sun and causes it to wither and die. Perhaps with the added question, “So whose fault is it that the flower died? Hint: It wasn’t the flower.”

  84. #84 JonD
    May 10, 2010

    @Knockgoats

    One must not agree with a person on all counts to like them. For example, Stephen Colbert is a Catholic, but I till find him hilarious.

  85. #85 truthspeaker
    May 10, 2010

    Posted by: Aagrajag | May 10, 2010 10:53 AM

    I think what Doug Little means to say, is that some cultures have little or no worth, and should be suppressed wherever possible, without infringing on the basic rights of the poor sods living in them.

    People of these cultures are still people, but the culture itself should be eradicated.

    And how to you intend to do that?

    Historically, there are only three ways to successfully eradicate a culture: if a foreign invader kills everyone who belongs to that culture; if a foreign invader kills most of the people who belong to that culture and pressure the remainder to adapt to the culture of the invaders (only works if the invaders vastly outnumber the invaded); or the people who belong to that culture change it.

    Any other ideas?

  86. #86 Bill Dauphin, OM
    May 10, 2010

    sgbm (@80):

    at least in the U.S., the people who assert that women are to blame for their own rapes are (generally) in the minority,

    Do you have evidence of this?

    If by evidence, you mean data, no. Did I suggest I did? This is conversation, not a refereed journal, nor a court of law: What I have is an opinion, based on being a relatively intelligent and literate observer of my own culture… one who’s paying at least a fair amount of attention.

    But let’s flip the question around: Do you have any data that would contradict my opinion? That is, do you have data that shows a majority of Americans generally hold women responsible for their own rapes?

    And more to the point…

    It would be interesting if the US is more progressive than the UK.

    …I wasn’t asserting anything one way or the other regarding whether the U.S. is more progressive than the UK. In fact, my guess would be that the UK is more progressive in this particular regard, because (AFAIK) the UK is the more secular of the two… but that would only be a guess, and not directly relevant to what I was getting at. My larger point is that the relatively more modern, less religious cultures of North America and Western Europe (and similar) are less prone to the sort of demonization and blaming of female sexuality that’s at the root of enforced “modesty,” victim-blaming, and other misogynistic repression observed in relatively less modern¹. more religious cultures we’re talking about.

    Are you really suggesting women are no safer, freer, or more equal in the U.S. or UK than they are in Yemen or Somalia or Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia? Or are you just arguing for the sake of arguing?

    ¹ And I mean modern in a cultural rather than technological sense; no need to link me to pictures of the gleaming techno-wonders of the Middle East, thank you very much.

  87. #87 Vicki
    May 10, 2010

    This sort of thing comes very close to saying “Women are virtuous, and men are immoral animals. Therefore men should make the rules for women, and women should not fight back when men attack them.” Not quite in so many words, because if it’s stated all at once it’s hard even for a misogynist to defend. But close.

  88. #88 truthspeaker
    May 10, 2010

    Gregory Greenwood, you seem to have fallen into the “they hate us for our freedoms” policy. It is true that Muslim extremists hate western attitudes towards sexuality, government, and personal freedom, but that’s NOT why they commit violent acts against westerners. They commit violent acts against western countries who they see as trying to bring western values to the places where Muslims already live.

  89. #89 truthspeaker
    May 10, 2010

    ^I meant fallacy not policy

  90. #90 Samantha
    May 10, 2010

    Matt @ 56:

    Blame the Victim is prevalent here in the UK as well. It seems women are more likely to put part of the blame of the victim of rape than men are.

    I read a theory once about why this is the case and it made a whole lot of sense. Essentially, all of “rape prevention” training up until now has been women being told what not to do if they didn’t want to be raped. Most women have internalized that, and think that rape occurs because those precautions weren’t taken. Furthermore, they want to believe that because they want to believe that they can prevent themselves from being raped by taking those precautions. Blaming the victim enables them to say “That will never happen to me because I would never do (insert ‘dangerous’ action here)”.

    It’s a sick, twisted way of thinking, but it’s what our society has created by focusing so heavily on what women can do to prevent rape, almost to the exclusion of what men should be doing/thinking to prevent rape. Men too try to tell themselves that the men that rape are sick individuals who “aren’t like ‘us’”, because they want to deny that they could ever be that man. However, it is far more common (albeit less reported) for a man to rape a women because she isn’t able to give consent or he thinks her no is a “yes in disguise” and she’s too scared to fight back than it is for a man to rape a woman actively fighting back. So both men and women try to say that the only ‘true’ rapes are the ones where the woman fights back and has taken all the necessary precautions because they don’t want to acknowledge the fact that they could easily be a rapist/raped. How they do this is the main difference, with women trying to blame the victim for not being as careful as they are and men trying to say that either the rape wasn’t really rape or the perpetrator was a mentally ill individual. Both are trying to distance themselves from the person they should identify with.

  91. #91 SteveM
    May 10, 2010

    I think there is a fundamental difference between the western version of “blame the victim” than what is represented by this poster and the earlier story of the rape victim.

    In the west, while we may blame the rape victim for provocative dress or whatever, I don’t think we use that to absolve the actual rapist of wrong doing. That is, if I left my car in a bad neighborhood unlocked and it got stolen, I would be blamed for being stupid to do that, but the car thief is still a thief and subject to prosecution. The equivalent would be to say that since the car was unlocked it cannot be stolen (since thieves just can’t help themselves) and I should be convicted of theft for leaving it unlocked (I suppose for enabling it to be stolen).

  92. #92 Gregory Greenwood
    May 10, 2010

    truth speaker @ 88;

    Gregory Greenwood, you seem to have fallen into the “they hate us for our freedoms” fallacy. It is true that Muslim extremists hate western attitudes towards sexuality, government, and personal freedom, but that’s NOT why they commit violent acts against westerners. They commit violent acts against western countries who they see as trying to bring western values to the places where Muslims already live.

    You are right that the violent acts against Westerners are perpetrated in the name of protecting Islam from Western influences, but I was suggesting that the existence of the West is sometimes seen as threatening to the established patriarchal power structures within some parts of the Islamic world because it shows an alternative wasy of life that has not been struck from existence by an angry sky fairy. When an Imam or Mullah says that the Muslim way is the only way, someone can point to non-Muslim cultures, of which Western cultures are probably the most high profile, and say “what about them?” This is a threat to the power of those who claim that they are the only legitimate interlocutors for god. This does not directly lead to terrorism, but it does help generate an antipathy toward Western cultures that is rationalised as an opposition to ‘corrupt’ or ‘permissive’ Western civilisation that complicates the dialogue between societies.

    They do not ‘hate us for our freedoms’, but some of the extremist Islamist groups see the existence of a free society anywhere on Earth not only as incompatible with their beliefs but as a threat to their world view. Once that kind of mindset is established, violence becomes that much more of a valid option in the minds of would-be Jihadis. If the existence of the West is considered to be innately threatening to the ‘purity’ of Islam, if a person genuinely believes that the simple fact of the existence of Liberal Democratic societies may inevitably lead to the spread of their influence into the Muslim World by some form of cultural osmosis, then a ‘pre-emptive strike’ mentality in order to protect Islam from creeping corruption makes sense from such a perspective.

  93. #93 Cerberus
    May 10, 2010

    Yeah, other people have noted it, but yeah, we’ve got a long ways to go on this attitude ourselves (note, not justifying the backwards ass shit promulgated by these deeply sexist societies).

    As others have noted, women are blamed for their own rapes all the time. Every rape trial pretty much includes a section on “what were you wearing” despite that having no bearing on whether or not consent was granted because it’s assumed that a “slut” gives unanimous consent to everyone and that can be determined by her style of dress. There are literally piles of volumes of feminist literature on the rape culture purely made of fairly modern (last two decades) personal narratives of the rape culture and how people are desperate to dissociate from it by blaming the victim. In fact blaming the victim is infamous in feminist blog circles because any discussion of rape is highjacked by people literally blaming the victim and denying the rather shockingly high number of rapes that occur in society.

    A large number of women have no hope for justice if their rapist is or was someone they were dating/sleeping with because again, unanimous consent is assumed.

    Even in rather extreme cases such as unconscious gang rape that gets video taped by the assaulting rapists and then sent by the rapists themselves to the police, because they thought the officers might enjoy it, juries will still largely side with the rapists and assume that consent must have been given.

    A small taste of one of the nastiest incidents in recent memory that is sadly, par for the course here, detailing that particular incident and follow-up. Note, this incident only didn’t end on a vote of not guilty, because it twice had a hung jury with only one member voting guilty before the third time finally had a full jury voting to convict, in the 2000s, in California.

    So yeah.

    Not to mention abstinence only teachers telling students they need to abstain or they will be blamed for any future rapes.

    On the lollipop metaphor, specifically, there again have been abstinence-only educators who have compared girls to a wad of gum and stated that their future husbands will not want them if they have been “chewed by other people” just like no one would want a chewed piece of gum.

    The very same program in the link above asked students rhetorically, “How do some people say NO with their words, but YES with their actions or clothing?” and stated in an example of a woman who was date raped that “boundary #1: not being alone with someone of the opposite sex”.

    Legislators in several states have not only spoken openly against date-rape as “not really rape” and a “feminist plot”, but have also openly decried the “invention of marital rape” and stated their beliefs that the only rape they consider is when a christian virgin is attacked in an alleyway by presumably dark-skinned strangers.

    Most feminists who work on behalf of raising awareness of the rape culture in America often undergo lifelong smears of themselves and their reputations. We still today consider Andrea Dworkin as a crazed man-hater for daring to say a couple of decades what PZ said today, which is that those who argue for this fucked up patriarchal system end up viewing sex itself as rape and men as monsters by their very arguments. In modern times, feminists who work in this area have to learn very quickly to grow enough of a spine to tolerate repeated threats of sexual violence including rape by threatened American patriarchy-defenders.

    In short, we’re “better” than they are, but not by as much as we should be, especially in America, and even radically egalitarian societies like Denmark and Sweden have a ways to go before they reach a full stamping out of the rape culture or the pernicious victim blaming of rape victims.

  94. #94 Cerberus
    May 10, 2010

    Steve @91

    Sadly, very sadly, you’d be mistaken.

    I know, I wish I lived in a society where that isn’t true myself, but sadly, especially in the courts, if a woman is deemed a “slut” by her dress sense or her desired actions (such as if she was amenable to sex, but not the type of sex the person she was seeking it from wanted to give her or if she was a sex worker) then it’s assumed that she had given carte blanche for any deviant sex behavior and is only now trying to back out because she wants to ruin “those young boys’ lives”. Pretty much every rape trial has been run like this in America for a while now. The prosecutor will ask the woman about her dress sense, how many sexual partners, etc… in order to try and establish that she must be so sexually active to be openly lying, because people who have sex or dress immodestly are “lying sluts, donchaknow?”

    Furthermore, we tend to look fondly on men who “bag” women and we don’t much care as a society how they do so. For instance, this statement: “Your mouth says no, but your body says yes” is still widely considered a seductive statement rather than a nakedly rapist statement of dismissed consent (note, this argument does not apply to consensual BDSM). Further more, many people consider drunken encounters or getting a prospective romantic partner drunk before engaging in sex a legitimate “seductive tactic” and furthermore believe that if the person is too out of it to say no, then it can’t be rape.

    In several surveys of college students, many will consider obviously rape scenarios as more “grey” or “acceptable” if the questioner adds that “there was alcohol involved” and the number of men who consider such acts “acceptable” even when sober was pretty shockingly high to begin with.

    There is also an assumption still uttered fairly commonly (and you hear it all the time from feminist blog trolls) that “men can’t help it” and are “powerless” against any display of female sexuality (and in patriarchal christian environments, this has included “my sister’s uncovered knees”) with a presumption of animalistic lack of blame and blame residing with the woman for causing him to “lose himself” Tex Avery style.

    Again, these views are fairly common, you don’t have to go far, read a few blog posts on a feminist site on the topic of rape and you’ll probably find a plethora of trolls stating them. Same with any douchebag “brofest” at your local bar (upscale or down).

    Again, I wish it wasn’t the case, but the evidence is sort of “we’re soaking in it” hard to ignore.

  95. #95 SteveM
    May 10, 2010

    re 93:

    Well said.

  96. #96 strange gods before me ?
    May 10, 2010

    Matt Penfold’s link:

    More than half of those of both sexes questioned said there were some circumstances when a rape victim should accept responsibility for an attack.

    That was the UK. I would also expect the UK to be more progressive than the US.

    Bill, what Carlie brought up at #54 is quite common. We have a lot more influence over the places where we live. If we’re going to pat ourselves on the back about how we’re not them, this might be a time to remind people that there’s a serious problem with victim-blaming right here at home, influencing juries among other things.

  97. #97 Cerberus
    May 10, 2010

    Samantha @90

    Yup. It’s part of the reason that modern rape prevention activism has moved away from “Take Back the Night” self-esteem comforting lies and towards actually tackling the problem by asking men to take a more active role (as an example here, but far more critically and importantly great organizations like this) and by providing more of a wholesale defense of the concept of enthusiastic consent and the primacy it should have in all sexual encounters, such as Jessica Valenti’s super important book “Yes Means Yes”.

    There have been a lot of criticisms of those sort of “do these and the rape will stay far far away” bullshit tactics of the past along your lines, but personally I wonder if getting to the point where we can even begin to tackle the underlying roots didn’t need that sort of bs self-esteem building just to get women used to the idea that they had a personhood to begin with and the basics of standing up for their consent at least on the extreme end (as in on the end of doing a tiny fraction of truly valuing your own consent).

    Either way though, it’s best that we’re moving forward to starting to actually tackle rape’s underlying causes rather than chip at the margins.

  98. #98 SteveM
    May 10, 2010

    re 94:

    I agree. I was trying to split a hair that I don’t think I can defend any further, so I’ll just leave it at that.

  99. #99 strange gods before me ?
    May 10, 2010

    In the west, while we may blame the rape victim for provocative dress or whatever, I don’t think we use that to absolve the actual rapist of wrong doing.

    This thread has already linked to instances of absolving wrongdoing based on victim-blaming.

  100. #100 hinakuu
    May 10, 2010

    @60 Thinking about this really leaves me reeling. Men in Islam do think they’re superior to women, but they compare themselves to animals, such as flies, with little to no capacity to think about the consequences of their actions or to control themselves. And while women are considered meat or lollypops or what-have-you, women are the ones expected to possess this control.

    How stupid, ignorant and thoughtless do you really have to be to not connect the superiority of restraint, the ability to think about and control your impulses, with being more advanced than something that possesses no ability of forethought or self-control? Seriously, Muslim men, by self-definition are inferior to Muslim women.

    Do I think this personally? Not really, I think they’ve all been indoctrinated. However, according to their own religious leaders, this is the case.

    So, to Muslim men, pick one or the other because you cannot be superior without actually possessing superior qualities. (None of which I can find in you.)

  101. #101 Cerberus
    May 10, 2010

    On a way way more personal note, cultural victim blaming was at the core of not only my partner’s rape but how she ended up destroying her mind and health for several years to support the dissonance of it.

    Her second rapist was a former sexual partner whom she was, at the time, deeply in love with. At a party where he was drinking and cheating on his current girlfriend with another woman, he invited her to “join in”. She refused and moved into another room. Her rapist then disengaged with this partner and followed her into the kitchen. When she tried to move away, he began to fondle her breasts and body. She tried to protest, alluding to his current romantic partner and stating that she wasn’t going to do this, he began to go further. As she continued to say no, he continued to press on, eventually undoing her jeans and beginning to fondle her vagina. Utterly perplexed, she tried to startle him into letting go. She did so by kissing him violently and staring him down until he let go and allowed her to flee.

    He did and enough gears clicked in that she might pose a threat.

    So after she fled and he collected his manipulation game, he eventually approached her on the porch and began to build the culture against her. He first tried to attack the incident directly, but she was deeply hurt by the betrayal of consent and scared. So, he played up his recent suicide attempt and how bad it would be if anything got back to his partner, playing on her sympathies. He also alluded to how difficult it would be for her to press her case since they had a sexual history including time they had spent together when she was still technically dating her first rapist, another abusive boyfriend.

    She agreed to sleep on it, only telling one or two people the incident.

    Meanwhile, he set the stage, telling his girlfriend a truncated story that my partner had kissed him totally unprovoked and thus instill bad blood and otherwise begin smearing my partner to all of their shared friends. He also emailed her constantly about how bad (implied suicide) if something was to happen to his current relationship and how guilty she had felt in the past to said current girlfriend owing to some unrelated bad blood between them.

    The manipulations worked. Not only did she not even attempt to press charges (though it would have been impossible to do so with the minimal hard evidence she had it occurred), but she became complicit in the lie herself, rewriting her own memories of the event with the slut-shaming ones he had concocted and treated the concocted event as the one that actually happened.

    It took several of her friends including me a good year or two of “hang on” and “what did you say” and “hey, one of the few people she told, what did she say exactly after this occurred” to finally put together what actually happened and truly reveal how much she had victim blamed herself out of even acknowledging her own rape.

    As the light spicing on top of it, an additional manipulation tactic he used was relying on the fact that most women consider they’re ability to “not be one of those girls” means that many women will gladly accept some “responsibility” for a rape and thus treat it as “bad sex” if only to avoid the shame of being a rape victim, the massive mobilization of shared friends against you in attempting to persecuted a rapist, or having to carry on and actively remember such a gross violation of basic autonomy (I was only minimally sexually assaulted, think J-train style feel-me-up that wouldn’t stop, but it still was a not good thing that left me with some long-term automatic triggers) and the massive work needed to recover from them.

    But yeah, it’s why it’s a rape culture.

  102. #102 truthspeaker
    May 10, 2010

    Posted by: strange gods before me ? | May 10, 2010 3:51 PM

    Matt Penfold’s link:

    More than half of those of both sexes questioned said there were some circumstances when a rape victim should accept responsibility for an attack.
    That was the UK. I would also expect the UK to be more progressive than the US.

    That’s simplistic. On many issues I would consider the UK to be more progressive than the US, but not so much on gender issues. Until just a year or two ago, it was illegal to BE a prostitute in England but not illegal to patronize one. They were 20 or 30 years behind that US on that one.

  103. #103 strange gods before me ?
    May 10, 2010

    It may be simplistic. I was just agreeing with Bill about that expectation.

  104. #104 hinakuu
    May 10, 2010

    @60
    I mean the general you, not you specifically.

  105. #105 asaneperson
    May 10, 2010

    SteveM:

    I think there is a fundamental difference between the western version of “blame the victim” than what is represented by this poster and the earlier story of the rape victim.

    There is no difference between one type of victim blaming and another. When the victim is blamed in whatever way, this is absolving the rapist of the crime, holding the woman responsible for not preventing it.

    Also, it is delusional to assume that victim blaming in the West, whereas it may occur, doesn’t actually allow the rapists to get away with rape. The numbers clearly show we do allow rapists to get away with it: the rape conviction rate in Britain is 6% – and only 15% of rapes are actually reported so this 6% percent is a tiny fraction of rapists actually. (In US it is better: conviction rate is at 13%.) That’s simply a massive failure to punish sexual violence.

    I would direct everyone to this insightful post about rape culture, because the Western culture is seriously not free of the blame in these matters. Far from it.

  106. #106 Mattir
    May 10, 2010

    Another thing that leads to increased sexual violence is the utterly bizarre teaching that thoughts can be sinful. So an idle “yeah, that’s sexy” thought on seeing a woman walking down the street is already a sin. My 14 year old son pointed out a few days ago that the problem with this is that once you’ve already committed one sin, it’s easier to commit action-type sins, like rape or assault. Teaching kids that thoughts are just thoughts and that actions are what one is actually responsible for would be a huge improvement.

    Another huge improvement would be for parents to start teaching 2 year olds that “no means no” and stopping tickle-fights and general roughhousing when kids say “stop.” It’s way too easy to keep the tickling going for a couple more seconds instead of stopping right away, but it teaches really really bad messages. It was pretty cool when my kids actually connected the preschool “stop” teachings with sexual behavior when we were discussing a news story on the car radio…

    And lastly, do the flies prefer the licked or the unlicked cupcakes?

  107. #107 Gregory Greenwood
    May 10, 2010

    I do not know if the statistic still holds, but a couple of years ago it was the case that only 6% of the men arressted for rape were convicted of the crime in the UK.

    Now,even taking into account cases of mistaken identity and even the odd (I would imagine extremely rare) case of deliberately pernicious false allegation, this still indicates that a shockingly high number of rapists walk free because our legal system still maintains the misogyist idea that rape victims are in some way responsible for being raped.

    It is an absolute travesty that is only compounded when you hear of cases or rapists conducting their own defence and cross examining their victims, and of legal defences that are predicated entirely upon trying to use the victim’s prior sexual history to imply that consent must have been given because the defence lawyer is trying to paint the victim as a ‘slut’.

    Under the current legal system, rape is a binary trauma. First you have the actual assault, then you have the court case that exacerbates the harm and tries to paint the victim as the villain. It is no surprise that current estimates indicate that as many as two thirds of all rapes go unreported, especially since many police officers are still openly doubtful of any claim of rape by a woman, with the mentality that “are you sure that you didn’t just get hammered, picked up a guy and then got cold feet the next morning?” being worryingly commonplace. This is before we get into the horror show that is the failure to deal effectively with marital and incestuous rape within UK jurisprudence.

    I would say that we are better than many Muslim countries when dealing with these issues, but not to the degree that we should be.

  108. #108 Cerberus
    May 10, 2010

    Hinakuu @100

    There are times like this that I wish I kept a running bookmark of the great feminist articles and blogs I’ve read over the years.

    But yeah, again, not nearly as segregated as I’d like, though we are indeed slightly “better”. Proper American he-men make the same damn man-hating claims all the time. Several great blog posts have been about ripping into misogynist articles because of how they end up depicting men. Andrea Dworkin was one of the first to note this odd tendency, but far more accessibly, we have Amanda Marcotte here among other places and Jennifer Kesler at Hathor here.

    It is literally one of my intended life works to make American society that can honestly state, “(backwards culture X) men (in specific) blah blah blah, statement about how their patriarchy-defenders hate men more than the feminists ever could”. And my fervent dream that eventually no one would be saying those statements except in knocking us crazy unenlightened people of the past like Bones in that one Star Trek movie.

    Sadly, this reality, any claim we would hope would only cover the obscenely misogynist conservative Islamic cultures end up covering the same ground as our obscenely misogynist conservative Christian cultures and even our insanely misogynist regular old World-wide rape culture.

    I’m all down for calling them out for taking that ball even further than even us in the West can stand and for trying to do all I can to aid fantastic organizations like RAWA, but we delude ourselves when we assume the gulf between our treatment of women in America and the treatment of women in Islamic nations is as wide as the burqa versus the bikini makes it seem.

    Seriously, though, RAWA kicks ass.

  109. #109 evergreenotter
    May 10, 2010

    @Cerberus

    While I largely agree with your posts, you ignore the counter-extreme to the blame-the-victim troll, the ‘multicultural post-colonial feminist’ that claims that things are just as bad in the West
    or that this kind of criticism of Egypt is racist, imperialist, Islamophobic, etc.

    They tend to be the same PC types that push the atheists-are-just-as-bad-as-fundamentalists meme or support ‘hate speech’ laws that protect religious sentiment. Those types of ‘feminists’ ultimately abet rape culture with their fear of offending non-Western traditions.

  110. #110 Gregory Greenwood
    May 10, 2010

    Looks like asaneperson beat me to the punch @ 105. The statistics are better too *grumble*.

  111. #111 Cerberus
    May 10, 2010

    asaneperson @105

    Oh, that post on the rape culture is fantastic, thanks for digging it up. Seriously, everyone should read it at least once.

    Man, I always end up posting on the deeply serious depressing threads. I need to start a habit of getting into long arguments about how jeans are secretly mind-controlled sheep or which anime character could kick which western comic book character’s ass for some balance.

  112. #112 Brownian, OM
    May 10, 2010

    Cerberus, thank you for your comments and sharing your partner’s story. Unfortunately, when most people hear the word ‘rape’, they think of a masked man hiding in the bushes and assaulting joggers in a park at night-time. Your comment gives the lie to that stereotype.

  113. #113 Bill Dauphin, OM
    May 10, 2010

    sgbm (@96):

    I won’t bother trying to defend “the West”; FSM knows we have an enormous amount of work to do in improving our own culture.

    But I also think there’s (literally) a world of difference between societies in which we struggle to raise consciousness about what does or does not constitute consent in a dating context, to or educate people about the impact of alcohol on the validity of consent, or to truly realize our formal legal principles in actual case outcomes, on the one hand, and cultures in which the very notion that a woman has any right to grant or withhold consent in the first place is unthinkable, and every rape victim is not only held responsible in some social-criticism sense, but is liable to be executed for having been raped, and in which (to get back to the OP) merely visibly being a woman gets one blamed for every lascivious thought a man has or even might have.

    I entered this conversation in respose to Sastra’s reference to Ayan Hirsi Ali. Is Ali really so wrong to see something fundamentally different in the way women are integrated into Western society versus their existence under Islamic fundamentalism?

    Of course we’re not perfect… probably we can’t even see perfect from here. But does that mean we should ignore the vastly greater injustice around us? Must we ignore, for instance, starvation and epidemic in the developing world as long as anyone is hungry or sick in the U.S.? I’m not smug about the values of our own society — far from it — but I’m also not blind to the fact that others are vastly worse off than even we.

    Sorry this is so brief; I’d’ve liked to attempt to explain myself more fully, but I’m late to an appointment as it is.

  114. #114 Knockgoats
    May 10, 2010

    Another huge improvement would be for parents to start teaching 2 year olds that “no means no” and stopping tickle-fights and general roughhousing when kids say “stop.” – Mattir

    Well said. I recall from somewhere a story about a programme teaching kids that no-one was allowed to touch them in ways they didn’t like – and some of the kids started complaining about their parents hitting them! (This was in a country where it is legal to assault your own minor children.) I’m not sure whether they added a caveat, or just abandoned the whole thing.

  115. #115 Cerberus
    May 10, 2010

    evergreenotter @109

    Well, first of all, this example comes off far less often than people being accused of this if they dare note that “hey, still bad in the West” or “progressivism imposed by military force will often fail to be as successful as encouraging home-grown progressive movements”.

    Indeed during the run-up to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, many right-wing sexist war-defenders demanded that feminists in the west should shut up completely because they just found out about middle eastern women’s rights violations that the feminists had been talking about and trying to call attention to for years, often using their own posts on the subject to shame them about not talking about it.

    Furthermore, most “PC post-colonial feminists” tend to be exactly the same types of world-history-studying peaceniks who tend to be the forerunners in calling attention to global crimes against humanity from the Eastern European white slave trade to the middle eastern honor killings to the punishment rapes of the Congo. Some patchouli-smelling “PC post-colonial feminist” probably was someone who has been noting the problem for a decade and might even be actively working with the country’s native women right’s movements to try and deal with their issues non-militarily.

    And it’s also the case that while we can rant and rave and scream about backwards societies, we do the most good in our own. I’m not saying “shut up about their crimes”. By all means, encouraging international condemnation and more critically, aiding when we can native feminist organizations in the countries of question and getting their stories out there are the type of work that “PC post-colonial feminists” tend to engage in and stuff we should all be doing, but that ranting about how backwards a society we don’t live in is doesn’t actually do more than give ourselves a “we’re better than Hitler” pat on the back.

    As a final note, of course we’re not exactly as bad, but we’re not as much better as our furious pats on the back would warrant. And certainly on issues such as blaming rape victims for their own rapes, we’re basically clapping that we only shame them and deny them justice rather than stone them to death. It’s a gap, indeed, one worthy of the praise of cultural growth out of the dark ages, but it’s not the promised land, not even close.

  116. #116 SteveM
    May 10, 2010

    re 105:

    Also, it is delusional to assume that victim blaming in the West, whereas it may occur, doesn’t actually allow the rapists to get away with rape. The numbers clearly show we do allow rapists to get away with it: …

    I do agree with you, but that is not what I was trying to say. Being unable to adequetely express what I “really meant”, I’ll just accept the criticism of what I actually said.

  117. #117 Cerberus
    May 10, 2010

    Bill @113

    True…but

    And the but comes in, yes, it’s great and all to call attention to starving people as long as we also note that people are starving right here in America. Many families in America go home without enough food to feed their families, have to make a decision between medicine and eating, have to feed their children at the expense of feeding themselves, etc… Malnutrition, starvation, and things like the rape culture, blaming the victim, and “corrective rapes” are not just bad bad things that happen to some other people safely an ocean and world away, but things that happen in our own almost literal backyards.

    And while it’s wrong not to condemn the tragedies overseas (and I have only rarely seen a committed feminist or poverty-relief activist fail to decry what goes on overseas), it’s important to not use them as an emotional crutch to avoid similar issues that happen in a location we can actively, directly affect.

    What can we do overseas? Promote progressivism, condemn atrocities, highlight problems, get aid to native organizations, etc… But here in our own societies? The possibilities are far more numerous.

    And frankly, it only seems to be those deeply committed activists who get bitched out about how they “ignore the vast gulf” who seem to actually actively work on both problems at once.

    I guess in a more utopian notion, “can’t we make everywhere suck a little less rather than giving ourselves a good wank over how we’re better than Hitler?”

  118. #118 amphiox
    May 10, 2010

    There is no difference between one type of victim blaming and another

    This is the fallacy of considering only quality and ignoring quantity.

    A system wherein say 50% of all rapists go unpunished because the victim might get blamed, a system wherein say 90% of all rapists go unpunished because the victim is often blamed, a system wherein rape is not recognized as a crime because victim is always blamed, and a system wherein the rape victim is punished because the victim is blamed may all be the same in kind, but they are NOT the same in degree.

    No difference? There is a HUGE difference. HUGE.

  119. #119 Gregory Greenwood
    May 10, 2010

    asaneperson @ 105;

    Everyone should read the article that you linked to. It is extremely insightful.

    The article makes me think of an example from my own life. Until quite recently I considered myself outside rape culture. I like to think of myself as one of the least sexually aggressive men in existence. I am a disater with women because I have no clue how to approach them, so most of the time I don’t (feel free to que the violins any time now…). I would never dream of pursuing any intimacy with anyone without their explicit consent maintained throughout. Getting drunk is not so much of a problem, because I am a teetotaler.

    So I assumed that I was not really part of rape culture. I was not ‘that guy’, and never would be. I was in my own self-righteous little bubble… and I was wrong. While I would never seek to compel any person to sexual intercourse, I blithely went through life completely oblivious to how utterly ubiquitous rape imagry is within our society and popular culture.

    I did not see that advising women to get self-defence training failed to deal with the fact that it is men who should be being far more strongly admonished to not rape in the first place, and to recognise that a woman’s body belongs to her and her alone, not patriarchal society or the first amorous bloke who comes along.

    I did not see how the imagry of women in popular culture was constructed in such a way that it validated the good girl/bad girl rationalisations at the heart of rape culture.

    I also fell into the trap of assuming that I was a ‘good guy’ who was simply morally incapable of rape, and that rapists must be mentally ill or simply monsters. There could be no commonality between such men and myself.

    It took a long time for me to realise that, while I myself would never countenance the sexual assault of anyone, this did not stop me being a participant in and consumer of wider rape culture, and I somehow doubt that my experience is particularly rare.

  120. #120 Cerberus
    May 10, 2010

    Steve, don’t think of it as criticisms, but rather corrective additions. I don’t think anyone thinks you were trying to be or channeling a rape-apologist and indeed I don’t think anyone here yet has been doing so (which might actually be a new record for any conversation about rape).

    In short, we know your heart is in the right place.

  121. #121 amphiox
    May 10, 2010

    Historically, there are only three ways to successfully eradicate a culture: if a foreign invader kills everyone who belongs to that culture; if a foreign invader kills most of the people who belong to that culture and pressure the remainder to adapt to the culture of the invaders (only works if the invaders vastly outnumber the invaded); or the people who belong to that culture change it.

    And the first two options have in general only worked with small, isolated cultures. And even then, total eradication is extremely rare. In the first scenario, some aspects of the victim culture almost always diffuse into surrounding cultures (often the eradicator culture itself!) and get preserved. In the second scenario, the most highly valued and prized aspects of the victim culture almost always get preserved in some form or another, often even through centuries of the harshest repression.

    In the third scenario, some relics of the original culture usually get preserved despite the changes.

    The only surefire way of eradicating any human culture might be a total extinction of all sapient and pre-sapient life, human or otherwise.

  122. #122 Sven DiMilo
    May 10, 2010

    nuke from orbit.
    only way to be sure.

  123. #123 Cerberus
    May 10, 2010

    Brownian @112

    If you want a good head-desk, my partner’s first rapist, an abusive boyfriend she was dating at the time, attempted to insert his penis into her anus while she was sleeping and woke up with his head just beginning to poke into her. When she woke up at the y’know anal rape, she asked him what the hell he was doing and to stop and he made up some blather, relented, and they went back to (for her flitful and frightened) sleep.

    And here’s where it gets head-deskingly “good”. In the morning he tried to use this to argue for his character, by arguing that he must be a nice guy because a rapist “wouldn’t have stopped when she asked him to”.

    That’s right, he was trying to argue that she should be thanking him because he only tried to rape her ineptly.

    The frightening part? She continued to date him for another year after this incident (again on passive-aggressive threats that he would kill himself if she left him and more generalized emotional abuse) and again accepted his rationalization for years.

    The “sometimes I just want to set the whole world on fire” killer to the story? She has a very sensitive ass and some delicate anal play can greatly accentuate an orgasm. However, she ends up needing, years later, a metric-ton of trust-building and foreplay to even begin thinking about playing with that area because of issues relating to this boyfriend both trying to manipulate her into anal sex and this rape.

    This is after years of loving support getting her comfortable with any penetration whatsoever thanks to this as well as a series of “if you’d love me, you’d allow me to thrust into you without foreplay” vaginal “engineering her own rape” scenarios. 4-5 years later, she was able to finally get her body okay with being penetrated by a flesh and blood penis (in the vagina), which was a big deal for her.

    So not only does the rape culture fuck you up with the event, with the social culture telling you its your fault, and the courts ruling against you (and in Islamic societies, killing you, though certain backwoods areas of Georgia also practice honor killings of “adulterers”), but your body carries remembered damage for years on end making any attempts at consensual sex a little bit more difficult than they were before the rapes.

  124. #124 Gregory Greenwood
    May 10, 2010

    Sven DiMilo @ 122;

    nuke from orbit.
    only way to be sure.

    I love the film reference, just don’t say it too near Sarah Palin or any Republican types. They would probably take the suggestion seriously and think that the only question then was “do we have any nukes in orbit?”

    There are many who would claim that such stupidity is impossible. I would present Bill Donahue as the ‘exhibit A’ of my counter argument.

  125. #125 SteveM
    May 10, 2010

    re 120:
    Steve, don’t think of it as criticisms, but rather corrective additions.

    I do, once again I expressed myself poorly. I see how the words, as I wrote them, do not fully express what I was trying to say and all the comments about them are valid refinements. And that is what I meant by “accepting the criticism”.

  126. #126 Cerberus
    May 10, 2010

    amphiox @121-

    The third path (along with not slaughtering those who were being abused or destabilizing the only functional social mechanisms keeping even worse oppressors at bay (see how women’s rights cratered after we started bombing Iraq and Afghanistan)) tends to be the most successful historically. By raising up cultures, attacking root problems, radicalizing the center and marginalizing the bigoted from the inside of each of the offending cultures, we see long-term liberalization and the eventual eradication of all but the remnants of the once dominant bigotries. This can be seen in America with the near total elimination of anti-Irish bigotry and lynching, Europe in the near total elimination of witch burning, and so on.

    One of the problems the middle east has faced is that “The West”, a loosely identified force often only noted as those elements of Western society that have been openly invasive or colonial have been stunting any attempt at growth by actively exploiting the areas or attempting to “convert them” by force. The destabilization as well as the limited ability to form native progressive movements means they end up more “backward” than other countries who have lacked the history of being invaded, colonized, and stunted and who have benefitted from the material benefits for society-building their colonies have given them.

    To that end, well sucks to be you bigoted culture, now let us fix that by aiding the nascent movements where we can rather than fapping longingly at visions of mushroom clouds filled with now equally dead oppressed women.

  127. #127 evergreenotter
    May 10, 2010

    @Cerberus

    Indeed during the run-up to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, many right-wing sexist war-defenders demanded that feminists in the west should shut up completely because they just found out about middle eastern women’s rights violations that the feminists had been talking about and trying to call attention to for years, often using their own posts on the subject to shame them about not talking about it.

    Right-wing hypocrisy is right-wing hypocrisy, so we agree threre. But when I was first at university circa 1998 and mentioned subjects like the Taliban situation in Afghanistan or the slave trade in modern Africa, I was met with clear discomfort from a significant number of people on the left. Feminists of the universal human rights model were considered shrill and counter-productive by the PC standard of the day. Many people, especially ‘liberal’ men, were big on open espousal of moral relativism at the time.

    Furthermore, most “PC post-colonial feminists” tend to be exactly the same types of world-history-studying peaceniks who tend to be the forerunners in calling attention to global crimes against humanity from the Eastern European white slave trade to the middle eastern honor killings to the punishment rapes of the Congo.

    I further find most “PC post-colonial feminists” to be extraordinarily selective in their concern/knowledge. They will mention Crusades and Colonialism in a heartbeat but are fantastically ignorant of why say Muslim were invading France unprovoked in the 700′s or that parts of the Balkans were under centuries of Islamic colonialism through the early 20th Century. They never have read V.S. Naipaul or other non-Western authors with a less than glowing view of Islam’s impact on non-Western societies. Anything that transgresses the white-Christian oppressor construct is not particularly welcome and they have a tremendously difficult time accepting the position that rejects tradition and religion broadly.

    This is a struggle of course between liberals going back to the Romantic backlash against the Enlightenment.

    Some patchouli-smelling “PC post-colonial feminist” probably was someone who has been noting the problem for a decade and might even be actively working with the country’s native women right’s movements to try and deal with their issues non-militarily.

    Wow, I really touched a nerve, but for the record patchouli is the most vile thing I have ever smelled after durian fruit. I admire and support such local efforts, but not when they encroach again into moral relativism or trying to defend harmful, misogynistic traditions as ‘voluntary’.

    There are a lot of liberals that tend to romanticise non-modern traditions and cultures because they can enjoy them as a object of entertainment rather than truly experiencing their restrictive or harmful consequences. I lived in Turkey and travelled a lot as a kid, so I have not been tempted by this mindset.

    “I’m not saying ‘shut up about their crimes’.”

    You may not be, but there are A LOT of PC types with precisely that attitude. They still ‘moderate’ places like HuffPo or Shakesville with the ‘right to not be offended’ as their raison d’Ítre. From 2001-2005, not criticising Islam was the party line at liberal forums. People arguing against religion as a whole and criticising Islam were viciously attacked as ‘hypocritical right-wing racists’ even when their position was consistent and clearly based on a notion of universal human rights. Only when the Mohammed cartoon affair opened a lot of people’s eyes to the extent of Islam’s sense of entitlement did that change. I saw a lot of feminist betray gender equality and human rights in the name of politics and ‘religious tolerance’ during that time and will not soon forget it.

  128. #128 Cerberus
    May 10, 2010

    evergreenotter @127

    Ah, I see where you are coming from. Baby feminists in college are well baby feminists and thanks to the absolute paucity of feminism-support for high school aged people they tend to be just figuring it out for themselves. Depending on when you met me in bachelor’s level college, I may have had a strong comprehension of world feminism (late), no comprehension of world feminism, but a stronger grounding in colonialism and western feminism (as you decried, in my middle years), or only barely proto-feminist (I understand rape is wrong, but little else, first half-year).

    Of course they’d have little knowledge of muslim invasions of France, thanks to their education, their education about islamic culture pre-college was if they were lucky a brief segment on Saladin because the West doesn’t like to get into more because of how bad the Crusades and colonialism made them look (which also means little mention of the reverse incidents like the invasions into Europe).

    I don’t read HuffPo, but Shakesville, yes, has a pretty extreme moderation policy not just on “not being offended” but on a host of issues because they view creating a solitary “safe space” more important than making every place a free-speech free-for-all.

    Now, there are arguments both for and against this policy and it definitely has it’s pluses and minuses and ends up being a poor fit for a lot of otherwise strong allies and feminists because of it. On the one hand, domination by douchebags does tend to limit the amount of active battlers to those with the constitution to stand up for the dignity on a regular basis against trolls and this can make those who are just sort of figuring themselves out want a place where they don’t have to worry about having to have the same arguments over and over again, but on the other hand, gross violations of free speech, hard to amicably work out differences or grow as a person, pissing off those who could use the benefits of her great posts, because the comment policy offends them, etc…

    I’m not sure where I stand. I guess it’s okay considering it’s such an odd duckling among the liberal blogs and I can appreciate the idea of there being somewhere on the internet that can act as a “safe port” for when you’re literally sick of dealing with shit, though it does offend my free speech sensibilities.

    That all said, Shakesville was at the forefront of criticisms of muslim culture and was one of the big blogs promoting awareness of said issues and actively urging its readership to help the native feminist movements and world organizations aiding them. Melissa McEwan’s (and her guest bloggers) posts on honor killings, the rapes in Congo, and the Afghani women’s plights both before and after invasion have been among the best on the subject.

    So, yeah, that would be covered on the, those groups called out as “those horrible liberals who believe that” have been actually on the forefront of what I’ve been talking about.

    Again, the groups often slammed hardest are often the ones who are “bleeding heart” and world-conscious enough to have cared before it became widely known about (even if their moderation policies offended you after they informed you about the issue).

    And no, you didn’t touch a nerve, I’m not actually all that angry, mostly just weary as this is a dark depressing topic, just using the stereotypes for the sake of the linguistic technique of hyperbole.

    In the background, I’m looking at some videos of the players called up to represent Denmark at the World Cup and hoping for some of the more recently injured players to have a quick recovery so I can lose myself in watching an ultimately meaningless sporting competition that’ll fill me with emotions of a much more joyous and less serious hue.

    It should be wonderful.

  129. #129 Katharine
    May 10, 2010

    It’s funny how the Egyptians appear to hate men, too.

  130. #130 Katharine
    May 10, 2010

    In fact, I like to think that anyone who blames women for rape hates men almost as much as they hate women.

    Because they think men are raving troglodytes who can’t control themselves.

    I think most human beings, even if they’re adults, have the minds of badly-behaved children.

    Perhaps the ones at the zoo I saw today who were all ‘dood I wanna touch the berrrrrrd’ and were tapping on cages and shit.

  131. #131 Galactus35
    May 10, 2010

    There seems to be quite a bit of self loathing involved in Islam if women are regarded as candied objects and men as mindless insects.

  132. #132 Janet Holmes
    May 10, 2010

    Adverts like this one and the ‘cats meat’ sermon given by the Australian imam are not good advice to young women, they are out and out THREATS.

    If you do not dress as we tell you to, you WILL be raped. Not because men can’t control themselves but because we give them tacit permission to rape you if you are not properly dressed. In fact it is their duty to rape you as a punishment for your insubordination.

    It has nothing to do with anything but controlling women’s behaviour.

  133. #133 asaneperson
    May 10, 2010

    amphiox @ 118

    You are right, I wasn’t considering quantity. I wasn’t taking into account to what extent victim blaming is employed in different cultures – in that respect, the differences *are* huge, that is indisputable. I was aiming at the fact that in essence victim blaming is the same in each instance, because it serves to shift the responsibility for a crime from the perpetrator, thus absolving him of wrongdoing, onto the victim.

  134. #134 MadScientist
    May 10, 2010

    I highly recommend eating the lollipop with the wrapper on; it keeps all those awful flies off.

  135. #135 TimKO,,.,,
    May 11, 2010

    “Honest judge, it’s not my fault she was raped”.
    \The Seth Brundle defense.

  136. #136 Bill Dauphin, OM
    May 11, 2010

    Cerberus (@117, et seq.):

    I’m probably just in the wrong frame of mind for this whole conversation. I mentioned upthread that I’ve been listening to the audiobook of Half the Sky, so for days now, every time I get in the car I hear another story of violence to or dehumanization of women and girls in the developing world, mostly (but not exclusively) in Islamic cultures. Girls being killed because they’ve been raped, or because some man has seen a few square centimeters of their uncovered skin, or just because their husbandsowners find them arbitrarily displeasing; prepubescent children being sold outright to brothel owners to be raised, and their children after them raised, as sex slaves; pregnant children left to rot from the dead fetus out because nobody can be bothered to give medical care to a girl; fistula sufferers placed by their parents in a separate hut because of their odor… but with the hut door removed specifically so hyenas will eat them; and on and on and on and on and on and on and on.

    It’s in that context that I came here to hear people — people I trust and respect and, as much as this word makes any sense in a purely online community, even love — say “hey, we can hardly talk; we’re no better.”

    Well fuck that! Whatever the failings of “western” culture — and I don’t deny they are many, massive, and deep — we are not.like.THAT!!!

    Ahh, but in addition to not being in the right headspace for this conversation, I’m not the right person for this conversation, either. As a middle-aged, middle-class straight white guy, pretty much anything I say can be dismissed as the clueless blindness of privilege. I don’t really think I’ve spent the last 50 years on a different planet from the rest of you, but I don’t see how I can convince anyone I haven’t.

    Tonight, between leaving my last post @113 and writing this, I attended a nominating convention for my congressman, to whose campaign I will give a nontrivial amount of time and treasure over the next 6 months, because I honestly believe sending him back to congress will make a nontrivial positive difference in the world. I’ll support other candidates, too, who are committed to human decency and fairness, and to the dignity of honest work, and to our stewardship of the planet. Plenty of people here have told me, plenty of times, that all that, too, is stupid and pointless and “utopian”, but I try, at least, to do whatever little I can to make life around me better; I like to hope each of us does the same.

    I love this blog; I really do. It’s my singular home online… but sometimes the weight of all the “people just suck, and we all suck pretty much equally, and there’s not a fucking thing to be done about it” cynicism gets so heavy that it’s all I can do not to open a damn vein.

    The world is full of things that really do suck, but they’re not all the same, and in any case, nobody can hold them all in a single head. I think each of us needs to pick a small section of the puzzle to work on, and then desperately cling to the hope that it might just barely, possibly matter.

    In order for me to keep doing that, I think I need to step away from here for a while.

  137. #137 Harbo
    May 11, 2010

    Has anyone else felt that this poster is sarcastic? And in fact a subtle way to expose the absurdity of the covering concepts.
    I think a cunning Egyptian free thinker has trumped us all.

  138. #138 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawl9WpXEUJqLBP5npB7HxT_C5z7MLxhYqH4
    May 11, 2010

    Welll….
    If the lollipop is consumed by flies, you don’t let it remain covered until it rots away. You swat the flies and then eat the lollipop.
    In analogy: If muslim men can’t control themselves, the solution isn’t to cover the women. The solution is the preventive castration of muslim men.
    So, maybe muslims should think about, if they really, really, want to appear unable to control their urges.

  139. #139 Cerberus
    May 11, 2010

    Bill @136-
    :-(

    I really wasn’t trying to say that people just suck and there’s nothing we can do. Indeed most of my statements are about actually devoting our energies into where we can do the most good.

    Nor am I trying to deny that the developing and muslim world isn’t worse on many issues of women’s rights and things like poverty and starvation. I was only trying desperately to note that the vast gulf we expect entirely because “we’re better than that, we’re a first world nation” is sadly far smaller than we would like.

    Does that mean, surrender all hope ye who enter?

    Fuck no.

    I think there’s a lot we can do. At home, fighting the good fight can take place in a myriad of ways. Standing up for oneself, speaking truth to power, radicalizing the moderates you encounter, participating in direct action movements, aid organizations, rights mobilizations, electing progressive leadership and congresscritters, educating oneself, etc…

    Overseas we can aid native organizations that are fighting the good fight, resist our nativists in making a home for refugees from these countries, get their stories out when they are brave enough to tell them, urge international condemnation, and regularly speak out against their abuses and support non-military international pressure on them, again that aiding native “fighting the good fight” organizations where we can by sending needed supplies or money.

    My “dig” on utopianism was basically a self-deprecating comment on how slow the “good fight” often is and how frustrating it can be.

    But it is my firm belief that this “good fight” also moves faster than we can imagine many times. Things move achingly slow and then you look back just a little behind and you go, huh, look at that. You read books like the Feminine Mystique or watch Mad Men and it really becomes stark how far we’ve come on many women’s rights in less than a lifetime. The fact that we’ve got “miles to go before we sleep” isn’t a slam on the futility of fighting…

    It’s a call to action.

    It’s a rallying cry. Don’t beat those swords into plows just yet, the war is far from over.

    And my statements on how the “horrors of the third world” can often strike both in their undiluted form and in their slightly more evolved but not as much as we’d like are here at home aren’t statements either trying to minimize said horrors, forgive them, or give birth to a great despair, it is again a call to action.

    What we can do in the third world is have our hearts break and aid other people doing what they can to fix their own country and get their words out there and heard and make sure they’re kept in mind at all times and have the minimal support they need to crawl their way up that great hill.

    What we can do at home? There is little limit.

    I admit I’m from a bit of a different background and I grow worried when people seem to take the horrors of the treatment of women in many developing and muslim nations not as a call to action to make women’s lives better everywhere but rather to surrender their desire to fight.

    “Oh, it’s so much worse there that the problems at home are trivial or less important and so they can be set aside until life is better in these foreign locales.” “Oh, that’s so terrible and there seems to be nothing we can do, I better give up any activism anywhere, because it’s so depressing how politically inept we are here to stop it.” Or the more hostile response, “Shut up feminist, how would you like to live in an islamic country and wear a burqa.”

    Cause the thing is that all these bad things around the world…they’re rather interconnected. They’re all patriarchy, they’re all bigotry. And the thing about bigotry is that when you continue to stamp it out more fervently and farther, the squeeze continues on those areas trying to hold out. Why do you think the South goes apeshit so often? Because they keep being marginalized by their bigotries. Because we are social creatures and we do want to belong more often than not.

    Stamping it out where we can, punching back where we can reach, it’s all connected, it all does good.

    I want to make the world a slightly better place when I croak, do my part to punch back against the monsters we have made of ourselves in so many areas.

    And like with all things the fight begins at home.

  140. #140 Cerberus
    May 11, 2010

    Also adding to Bill @136

    But with a heavy notation again that these statements are not intended to depress people out of activism, but rather to remind them that we’re not done here yet and here is the beast we can reach to strangle with our own two hands rather than the borrowed hands of those doing the hard work in the darkest darkness rather than just the darkness.

    On the “living on another planet” comment. It’s not really anyone’s fault. The stories of marginalized groups are just that, marginalized. An obscene number of women have been raped, how many go on to tell their stories and risk reopening those wounds, even to close personal friends? 1 in 3 women have an abortion, have you heard it come up that often in any circle of friends, even all-women feminist groups that would be the least judgmental and most supportive?

    The horrors of the inner city, how often do we hear those stories directly? The stories of those starving themselves to feed their children? The other horror stories of those who slip through the cracks?

    How often do we hear the history of marginalized groups? Unions? Civil rights workers? Do we know more historical activists than presidents or military leaders? How about before the 60s?

    Point is, marginalized voices are marginalized. Learning to find one’s own voice, to encourage that habit in others, may be the most radical activism we can do as members of any marginalized movement and while yes, we would hope for those with privilege to learn and grow as well, to seek out these voices even at the expense of losing a comforting world where only their stories are heard, the thing is…

    Well, it’s going to be hard for them to find it and it’s often going to feel to them like they’ve stumbled into a secret foreign world.

    And most critically, finding that out doesn’t mean anyone is a bad person. Indeed, finding that out is what often makes a good person even better and more effective in their goodness.

  141. #141 buccleuch
    May 11, 2010

    Thanks for that. One of my regular news reads just had a long article on the new muslim woman, proud to wear her headscarf (http://www.zeit.de/2010/19/DOS-Kopftuch), and while I understand the arguments about religious freedom etc., to me the thing fundamentally symbolizes oppression of females, because it suggests that women first and foremost are objects of male desire, and it’s their responsibility to cover up in order to keep men from sinning (and see the women’s thoughts about being ‘open’ and ‘closed’ in the article, even though all of them say they wear the headscarf voluntarily).
    What really impresses me with many of PZ Myers’ posts, though, is that he strikes the balance between what it does to both sides of the issue – men and women are negated moral agency here.

    Anyway – I just wanted to say thanks for bringing my unease to such a well-illustrated point.

  142. #142 Ring Tailed Lemurian
    May 11, 2010

    It’s a common misapprehension in the West that “they” have “always been like that”, but it’s quite false: I am old enough to remember when secular nationalism was politically dominant in most Arab countries. It is largely its perceived failure to either lead to real (i.e. economic) independence from the West, or improve the lot of most of the population, that have led to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.

    I’m sure you have a much deeper analysis of the “failure” of secular and Pan-Arab nationalism, which I’d be very interested to read, but that was so short as to be almost misleading.

    It “failed”, to a great degree because it wasn’t allowed to succeed. Any country that tried to take charge of its own resources was a threat to Western capitalism. Iran – elected, democratic government nationalises oil, overthrown and replaced by unpopular Western puppet the “Shah”. Indonesia – “political cleansing”, mass overnight murder of over a quarter of a million of the “left”, and Western rewards for an oil-supplying military theocracy. Lebanon – devastated and destroyed by Western proxy Israel. Egypt – nationalises Suez Canal, invaded by France, Britain and then Israel. Iraq, Afghanistan? – nothing I need to say about what’s happened there; everyone knows the monumental, criminal, blunders of Western policy in those two countries.

    In the 70′s Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran (and Syria and Egypt to a lesser extent) were fledgling secular democracies. Women were walking the town and city streets of these countries in miniskirts and heels, quite safely. Even gays were starting to emerge; long haired youths gazing into eachother’s eyes in Teheran coffee shops.
    The West intervened whenever and wherever Muslim nations tried secularism and democracy. They destroyed, or assisted in the destruction, of first the left, then democrats (centre and right) and secularists, and propped up or installed dictatorships, which often used religion to cover their illegitimacy. There was nowhere for the populations to go but fundamentalism. All other options for making their voices heard had been removed from them.

    Meanwhile, we’ve propped up, and supported with massive arms deals and aid, the three really dangerous countries in the region (those establised for religious reasons) Israel, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

    Hey ho. Time to bomb Iran again.

  143. #143 Bill Dauphin, OM
    May 11, 2010

    Cerberus (@139 & 140):

    Yeah, sorry about that rant. It’s not really you, and it’s not really about this issue, per se. It’s just that we have so many smart people here who brilliantly explicate so many broad, sweeping problems, and progress on those problems is inevitably localized and incremental and easy to dismiss (especially for smart people)… and the result is that it often feels as if the consensus view is that the after picture is no different than the before. That’s corrosive to hope, and thus, to the will to act.

    When I got home last night, I should’ve been energized and happy, because I really am intensely proud of Joe Courtney and the other candidates I support, and I really do believe that, through my support of them, I am personally acting to make the world around me a better place (including, however obliquely, WRT some of the concerns expressed in this conversation). Instead, between the relentless horrors related in Half the Sky and the (apparent) suggestion here that even the best of human societies are really not notably better than the worst, I sat at my computer for hours literally on the verge of tears. And my tears don’t do anyone a damn bit of good.

    Imagine walking into a vast warehouse whose floor, as far as they eye can see, is covered with unlit candles. The obvious move is to start lighting candles… but the sheer sight of an apparently infinite task can be oppressive. I think I need to put on some blinders, and get on with lighting the handful of candles within my reach.

    I’ll keep reading, and I might chime in on casual stuff (e.g., in The Thread™), but I’m going to try hard to restrain myself from joining into threads like this one, at least for a while. I need to save my emotional energy for my meager, possibly pointless, attempts to actually act in the world.

  144. #144 nardo
    May 11, 2010

    @142 Ring Tailed Lemurian

    I think your characterization think of Middle East history is a bit disingenuous and based on the simplistic “blame colonialism (and Israel) for everything” framework. Iran and Lebanon definitely had inklings of secular democracy that were stupidly disrupted by the West, but Syria, Iraq and Egypt of the 1950, 60s and 70s were unstable dictatorships that evolved primarily through violent coups and backroom deals between generals, not elections.

    Baathism was a mix of Islam, Communism and Fascism; somewhat secular in a social sense, but very far from what a freethinker would recognize as progressive. There were many stumbling blocks that have put the Middle East into its current situation: abuse by “The West”; meddling by the Soviet Union and the deeply anti-democratic Islamic theology promoted by Saudi Arabia et al.

    And finally, the fact remains that even if radical Islam was exclusively the creation of colonialism, it still wouldn’t excuse the abuses that its adherents are currently perpetrating.

  145. #145 Carlie
    May 11, 2010

    and the (apparent) suggestion here that even the best of human societies are really not notably better than the worst,

    Bill, I don’t think the point is to just drag everyone down to the same muck and say we’re all the same. Instead, noting that one’s own personal society has the same problems as another (if different in scale) re-humanizes that “other” group, and keeps us from getting sanctimonious and condescending towards them. It also helps serve as a marker for why we fight so hard against injustices in our own neighborhood – to keep from sliding that direction.

  146. #146 Brownian, OM
    May 11, 2010

    @Bill:

    What Carlie said. My comments in that direction were meant to head off some potential racism, rather than insist we’re all just as bad. Because we’re not.

    Nonetheless, I know the Sisyphean feeling you describe, and if you need to take a breather to collect yourself, then please do so. Just don’t stay away too long; you’re one of the people here that gives me a sliver of hope and keeps me from considering—well, let’s leave it at the fact I decided last night that I am going to go back to taking the SSRIs the doc wants me to.

  147. #147 Bill Dauphin, OM
    May 11, 2010

    Carlie:

    Bill, I don’t think the point is to just drag everyone down to the same muck and say we’re all the same.

    I don’t imagine it is the point; I’m saying sometimes it’s the unintended consequence. And I don’t really think I need victims “re-humanized” for me; I never forgot their humanity. Instead, what I need — what I think we all need, at least some of the time — is some visible evidence in support of the proposition that progress can happen. In our eagerness to avoid “getting sanctimonious and condescending,” let’s try not to talk ourselves out of any hope, shall we?

    But I keep saying I’m going to shut up and then not doing it, and I hate it when people do that, so I’m really most sincerely signing off now. Like an interplanetary probe swamped by cosmic rays, I’m going into Safe Mode. Eventually, the storm will have passed and I’ll do a self-test and reboot. See y’all then….

  148. #148 Cerberus
    May 11, 2010

    Bill @143

    I think that’s just a problem for all progressive fighters. It’s so hard sometimes to see the progress because often it feels like you fight decades on the same problems and the problems seem insurmountable and then suddenly you look back, you listen to the old tapes and you go, holy shit, look how far we’ve come.

    My recent tool for this?

    Mad Men.

    No, seriously. We still have a ways to go on a lot of the issues they highlight, but watching that show or reading the Feminine Mystique you get a glimpse of some of the many battles that have been won over the years. How far we’ve come in a mere 50 years or so is breathtaking.

    Listening to old tapes from the 90s, the 80s on gay rights or women’s rights, battles like the right to work for women and equal respect in the workplace or gay rights. Not utopian yet, but the distance traveled is staggering. It’s almost quaint to hear attacks on the idea of women working or that gay people are a plague. These, in living memory, used to be ideas in wide support.

    Sometime during all the fighting and seeming impotence, we’re winning. A little victory here, a little cultural uplift there, a few more dead old bigots, a few more people born after the last big fight happened and suddenly the world is a much more progressive place than it was before.

    I mean, I’m young, but already it astounds, I can’t imagine how good it will feel to look back when I’ve lived through the battle and go, “I never thought we’d even be having this debate” but in a good way.

    Short answer is, the trick for all those who fight is to always take some time and bask in the victories. I’ve seen a lot of fellow fighters burn themselves out because they don’t do this. So, take the opportunity to listen to some testimony from the 60s or the 30s or the like and take some opportunity to go, “I’m glad I don’t live back then”. You’ll feel better.

    Carlie @145

    What you said as well. I think this particular conversation as well was so triggered was because that collection of images (men as animals who can’t help themselves, women as tantalizing bait who will be raped if they don’t protect themselves or show modesty, allusions to sex as dirtied candy, etc…) is to many women, especially to feminists, not only familiar, but deeply, personally familiar here at home.

    Unlike honor killings which happen a little over here, but is mostly institutionalized over seas, the victim blaming for rape victims and the like is something every feminist and most women have encountered a million times here in America, sometimes even from intimate partners, family members, former close friends, etc… and certainly from conservatives and newspapers as well as courts.

    So, hearing it stated as something wholly foreign like honor killings, something we can clap ourselves on the back about because that’s what backwards cultures do I think triggered a sudden throat-clearing moment for a lot of us feminist types of the “uh, guys, that in specific happens here as does a lot of other shit that happens only in ‘backwards’ societies” variety.

    But back to the will to fight, things are bad, yes, but we rise out of the muck in leaps and bounds and not on big fancy victories, but little moments building on each other.

    What big victories did gay people have during the Bush years? But look how close they seem now to an inevitability. That didn’t just happen, it’s been brewing on a thousand little “impotent” actions against obstacles that seemed so “insurmountable” and “impossible”.

    In short, we’re affecting the world though sometimes it can be hard to see when you’re arms deep in the muck seemingly fighting the same old battles.

    All of us need to remember to take a step back, look back and have a good “holy shit, there has been progress” moment as we bask in how over the decades, the generations, life improves by leaps and bounds.

    And that’s why we fight.

  149. #149 Cerberus
    May 11, 2010

    Aw, missed Bill before @147

    Seriously, look at how much worse it was only a little while ago in this country, the victories we’ve gained have been immense and powerful.

    The visible proof of that is in the records the last generations left behind. The Feminine Mystique, the writings of the Freedom Riders, hell, gay leaders in the 80s.

    Watching Harvey Milk fighting simply for the right of gay teachers not to be witch-hunted and fired as some glorious victory, simply imagining a world where AIDS wasn’t used as an excuse for open calls for genocide in America. Uganda today used to be us in the 80s in that law.

    And we’ve crawled so far out of that muck that the kids like me, we see it almost as a myth. Wait, life used to suck that hard?

    My grandchildren will say the same about my life.

    In short, the proof is in the meat, taste it and be nourished, because you can’t have any pudding (the long hard slog) if you don’t eat your meat (reminiscing about how far we’ve come in our own society).

    And I’m sorry this didn’t reach you in time to boost your spirits.

  150. #150 Carlie
    May 11, 2010

    I don’t imagine it is the point; I’m saying sometimes it’s the unintended consequence. And I don’t really think I need victims “re-humanized” for me; I never forgot their humanity. Instead, what I need ? what I think we all need, at least some of the time ? is some visible evidence in support of the proposition that progress can happen.

    I get you there; I was just trying to explain my reason for bringing it up, since I was one of the ones who did. Some people do need the “rehumanization”; honestly, I’m one of them. I don’t know if I would dehumanize other people more easily if I didn’t keep our similarities full front in my mind, but I don’t want to find out so I consciously make myself. I’m sorry if that made it appear that I was trying to bring everyone down.

  151. #151 Endor
    May 11, 2010

    Speaking in terms of law only*, is there a substantial difference between a place where rape is not a crime and a place where rape has laws against it, but virtually any and every thing is done to prevent the lawbreaker from being held accountable? Esp when, in such a place, race is the biggest determining factor vis a vis which rapists go to jail? (and then only if he’s not a pro athlete.)

    * – on the larger issue, I agree with Carlie, Cerebus, Bill, et al. We’re not “just as bad”,and it is a display of privilege to assert that we are.

  152. #152 windy
    May 11, 2010

    Well fuck that! Whatever the failings of “western” culture ? and I don’t deny they are many, massive, and deep ? we are not.like.THAT!!!

    Right, when we kill and maim people in foreign countries, we don’t discriminate by sex or body part. Progress!

  153. #153 cafemolotov
    May 12, 2010

    I think a lot of excellent comments and observations have already been made here and there is not much that I can really add except for a few notes.

    As an ex-Muslim from Pakistan, I can say that such misogynist views were one of the main reasons why I choose to leave this dogma. Women are blamed for almost all things that go wrong and there is little or no accountability for men. In a culture of both shame and fear, rape becomes a tool of oppression.

    As per the Islamic rules a woman who denies her husband sex at night is cursed upon (as per the Quran itself). Also, they are considered to be root of all evils and temptation (as per the saying of Mr. Mo). Since they have already been declared scapegoat and guilty party by the ‘world’s greatest book’, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the blind adherents are quick to point fingers at women (be it earthquakes, poor economic conditions or even rape).

    The analogy of lollipop and flies (and other similar & demeaning ones which compare women to a delicious chocolate cake or precious jewels) basically combines the concept of ‘evil women’ with theist claim that anything bad that happens to a person is because he/she disobeyed god (in case of rape it is not dressing modestly).

    As far as any statistical data is concerned, there is very little reliable ones available for countries like Pakistan (or other similar ones). The main reason is that victims are either killed or they refuse to report this crime out of social shame and stigma associated with it. Even if reported the pressure from society and even governments themselves can be tremendous with complimented by a pathetic judicial system makes things more painful & traumatic victims. There are some extraordinary exceptional cases like that of Mukhtaran Bibi .

    The sad part however is not that it is only the men who think in this manner. There are several women in these parts of the world that think in the same manner.

  154. #154 cafemolotov
    May 12, 2010

    I think a lot of excellent comments and observations have already been made here and there is not much that I can really add except for a few notes.

    As an ex-Muslim from Pakistan, I can say that such misogynist views were one of the main reasons why I choose to leave this dogma. Women are blamed for almost all things that go wrong and there is little or no accountability for men. In a culture of both shame and fear, rape becomes a tool of oppression.

    As per the Islamic rules a woman who denies her husband sex at night is cursed upon (as per the Quran itself). Also, they are considered to be root of all evils and temptation (as per the saying of Mr. Mo). Since they have already been declared scapegoat and guilty party by the ‘world’s greatest book’, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the blind adherents are quick to point fingers at women (be it earthquakes, poor economic conditions or even rape).

    The analogy of lollipop and flies (and other similar & demeaning ones which compare women to a delicious chocolate cake or precious jewels) basically combines the concept of ‘evil women’ with theist claim that anything bad that happens to a person is because he/she disobeyed god (in case of rape it is not dressing modestly).

    As far as any statistical data is concerned, there is very little reliable ones available for countries like Pakistan (or other similar ones). The main reason is that victims are either killed or they refuse to report this crime out of social shame and stigma associated with it. Even if reported the pressure from society and even governments themselves can be tremendous with complimented by a pathetic judicial system makes things more painful & traumatic victims. There are some extraordinary exceptional cases like that of Mukhtaran Bibi .

    The sad part however is not that it is only the men who think in this manner. There are several women in these parts of the world that think in the same manner.

  155. #155 camelswithhammers
    May 19, 2010

    It seems that in reply to Egypt’s public service announcement, the free market has come forward to capitalize with RapeAway!?, the perfect device for protecting women from rape. http://camelswithhammers.com/2010/05/19/rapeaway%E2%84%A2/

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.