Variations on a theme of rape

Posted: May 23, 2010 in Feminism

Thanks to the media circus surrounding Roman Polanski, and the depressing announcement that the government intends to grant anonymity to defendents in rape cases, rape is back in the news again. I find most media discourses on the subject irritating at the least. But I welcome debate and I think overall it is better that people discuss this difficult, emotive subject, than don’t. I believe that language is a vital part of the context in which rape is so endemic. And, I think that changing the way we speak about and conceptualise rape could be part of the solution to the seemingly unsolvable social problem of violence, including rape and sexual assault against women.

Here I would like to discuss some of my findings which have emerged in part from my participation in and analysis of discussions of rape on online forums, including the F-word, Twitter and other websites.  In particular I want to offer a critique of certain terminology that tends to be used uncritically, in discussions of rape and gendered violence.

A ‘Rapist’ by any other name…

The term ‘rapist’ is one I am not comfortable with using at all, if I can help it. I know I am in a tiny minority, as I see the word splashed across the newspapers on a regular basis, and I hear it being used widely in conversations about rape. The reason I don’t like the word ‘rapist’, is that I think it serves to undermine our attempts to tackle rape and sexual violence. This is because it pathologises people who commit rape, portraying them in our culture as ‘monsters’ and ‘hate figures’. This leads to a situation where we place rapists pretty near the top of a hierarchy of evil characters (maybe just behind ‘paedophiles’),  so that in fact, it is actually very difficult to prosecute for rape. If ‘rapists’ are these inhuman monstrous characters, it is not surprising that courts up and down the country are reluctant to convict the thousands of (nearly always) men who commit rape each year.  If we look at the new proposals to grant anonymity to rape case defendants, we can see that the argument is based in part on how terrible it is to be labelled ‘a rapist’ and how damaging it would be to someone’s reputation to be falsely accused of being  such a thing. If  we didn’t use the term rapist and didn’t demonise those who commit rape, people might not be clamouring  to give people who do rape, special privileges in court. I have received criticism for my view, particularly from feminists who argue that survivors of sexual violence need the term ‘rapist’ to enable them to name their attacker, proceed with seeking justice, and ultimately to get over their ordeal. But I believe that just as we have changed our terminology from talking about ‘victims’ to ‘survivors’ of rape, we also need to change how we label perpetrators. When I hear the word ‘rapist’ I do not think of a man who is capable of change, of reflection. We have to speak about and talk to men as if they are able to change, if we want to reduce the horrific statistics on this crime.

Challenging ‘Rape Culture’

Just as ‘rapist’ generalises and stereotypes men, I think ‘rape culture’ generalises and stereotypes the society we live in. ‘Rape culture’ alludes to a world in which it is easy and likely for men to rape women. I know rape is endemic in our society, but I don’t accept the simplification of ‘rape culture’. In ‘rape culture’ apparently, pornography has been made mainstream, in the form of lads mags, adverts, fashion, music videos and film.  This it is argued, has a bearing on the widespread occurrence of rape and sexual violence. I think it also suggests that in ‘rape culture’ women are passive ‘victims’ of culture, whilst men (or their leader: ‘patriarchy’) is the oppressor. Also I think the term ‘rape culture’ discourages us from examining the specific contexts and situations in which men rape women, and other men. How do particular conditions in the military and prisons lead to high numbers of rapes?  Why do some husbands rape their wives? How can we work to reduce the numbers of sex workers who are raped by clients and employers and strangers?  I don’t know the answer to these questions. Talking about ‘rape culture’ as a blanket description of the whole of our society doesn’t help us to even ask them. my conclusion so far is that unlike ‘gender culture’ , ‘rape culture’ does not offer an analytic tool or a perspective for analysing how gender functions in society to cause violence by men against women and other men.

I recently tried to engage with some feminists who are prominent in promoting the idea of ‘rape culture’, in blogs and as journalists. When I read and made comments on a blog, my comments were not accepted and so I was unable to have the discussion with them.  I found their version of ‘rape culture’ actually seemed to go as far as being ‘misandrist’ a word I hate to use. But maybe if we are going to be honest and open in debate, it is only right to uncover hatred of men as  well as women. I found it ironic that this feminist who had blocked my comments and who spouted hatred for ‘men’ as a homogenous group, elsewhere wrote that more men should join the feminist movement.   I can’t even speak to her in the movement, as a woman and a feminist, so I expect men, no matter how feminist they are won’t be able to either.  My searches for academic references and critical media articles on ‘rape culture’ came up with nothing. I am posting this now, unedited and a bit rambling, in case any of you have got any documents on the subject.

The Opposite of Rape

Thankfully, my research has not been completely disheartening. There are some amazing projects that tackle not only sexual violence, but also the way we talk about and conceptualise it. An organisation and website called ‘Scarleteen’, which deals with a range of issues mainly to do with young women, came up with the phrase ‘the opposite of rape’ which I think has the potential to liberate us from some of the more pernicious ways of discussing the subject. ‘The opposite of rape’ , tweeted Scarleteen ‘is not sex, it is no rape’. This brings home how rape is a violent assault, and that even when we are trying to campaign against it, we end up discussing it as if it were related to sex and pleasure.  The focus by some feminists, on rape in terms of lack of sexual consent, I think, though accurate in a descriptive way, can bog us down into discussions about the sexual aspect of rape, at the detriment of our desire to end sexual violence against women mainly, but also men.

I would like to think that ‘the opposite of rape’ is possible, not just on an individual level, but across society all over the world.  I know I can’t make rape go away just by refusing to engage with discourses of ‘rapists’ and ‘rape culture’ , but I strongly believe that part of our struggle against this horrible form of gender violence, has to be a challenge to the language we use to describe it.

Comments
  1. I think I would tend to disagree on your framing of “rape culture” and what it means. While it is true that some feminists of the anti-sex work/porn variety use it the way you describe, I think that it isn’t really about the whole of society, and it isn’t particularly about “porn becoming mainstream” (although the ways in which sexuality are treated by lad mags, adverts etc do play a part). Incidentally, I don’t know of any academic references as yet for the term.

    I don’t know the answer to these questions. Talking about ‘rape culture’ as a blanket description of the whole of our society doesn’t help us to even ask them. my conclusion so far is that unlike ‘gender culture’ , ‘rape culture’ does not offer an analytic tool or a perspective for analysing how gender functions in society to cause violence by men against women and other men.

    Again, I disagree strongly here. I take “rape culture” to be a term describing those parts of the Patriarchal “memetic ecosystem” (as a parallel to “genetic ecosystem”) that function to permit rape to go largely unpunished, or even be seen as normal. Prison rape, to use an example from your questions, is seen as normal. You ask how the particular conditions bring it about. The concept of rape culture, I think, is about showing how societal constructions link prison rape to other types of rape. In other words, it says that there are common elements in the answers to all your questions, and that these are structures that exist at the broader levels of society.

    When you talk about “the opposite of rape”, for me that is precisely a concept that can be derived from this type of analytical approach, and that what you talk about is a way of using the concept “the opposite of rape” to counter the memetic structure of rape culture. Especially when you say, “I would like to think that ‘the opposite of rape’ is possible, not just on an individual level, but across society all over the world.”

    I think that the feminists of whom you complain that they refused to engage you in discussion, and from whom you have gleaned your idea of what the term “rape culture” means, do not use this analytical tool at all well, and I suspect that is why you have found it unhelpful.

    I think that both the micro-view (which is suggested by your list of questions) and the macro-view (the perspective of analysing “rape-culture”) are going to be needed to make full sense of what rape is and how it happens.

  2. Excellent and insightful post on this complicated subject.

  3. Masonic Boom says:

    Ah. More than 140 characters at last.

    I must admit that I have found your tweets on the subject confounding and sometimes borderline infuriating – but I believe that it’s important to talk with people with whom you disagree, because only in testing and having your ideas contradicted can you discover what you truly believe, and what you have just accepted. But, as I read your blog, I realise that the actual disagreement is over the very basics of terminology and its meaning.

    (Words have more than just their reductive dictionary meaning, they have connotations and secondary usages and symbolic meanings .)

    See, my understanding of the term “Rape Culture” is that it is a general way of thinking, a descriptive paradigm, rather than about the specifics. How I use the term: a general atmosphere which heightens and plays upon women’s fear of sexual violence, in order to control and constrain them. Like I said on twitter, Rape Culture is this view that rape is just “out there” like weather or traffic and that women must take care and take precautions in order not to “get raped” – these totemistic things all along the spectrum from not talking to strangers to wearing a veil.

    The idea, the false principle behind Rape Culture is that rape *isn’t* about individual acts of violence that one human being chooses to perpetrate against another but these individual acts are symbolic of the pressure on women – and men – to conform to certain expectations of behaviour.

    Rape Culture is presented to men as the idea, reinforced in every aspect of its media from magazine adverts to pornography, that women are perpetually available, that women are not independent human beings with minds and desires of their own, but receptacles for male desire. The bodies of women are not, like them, houses of brains or souls or wills, but just a kind of product placement. The issue of consent is rendered meaningless – how can a non-autonomous receptacle give or deny consent?

    I see it in teenage boys I encounter every day on the internet, on music messageboards. Young kids – who come out with these ideas. They’ll see an attractive woman and they won’t say “she’s so pretty” they’ll say “WOULD SMASH” or starting talking about “MILFs” (this phrase is crucial, the way that it turns the idea of beauty on its head. Beauty or sex appeal is not a quality that the woman possesses – it is turned around as an incitement, a justification, it’s not about the Mum in the phrase, but the entitlement of “*I’d* Like to Fuck.”) The idea that the woman in the picture is an autonomous human being with the capability and indeed right to choose her own sexual partners, this doesn’t even enter their heads.

    Rape Culture, as I understand it, is the phrase or paradigm used to describe this weird mismatch between reality on an individual level (rape as an act of violence) and the paradigm of rape as systematic social control of women who have been stripped of their own agency.

    While I agree with your assertion that the term “rapist” has been blown out of proportion and turned into this idea of monster (again, the idea of the Evil Rapist out there in the bushes like bad weather or poisonous animals) when the reality is that it is actual, individual men, their heads messed up by the constant stream of reinforcement that encourages them to behave in this way. If anything, I’d recommend using the word more, to normalise it, to divorce the notion of the big scary Rapist (in bushes) from the reality of every day men who don’t even identify what they do as “rape” because rapists are scary men in bushes, and they’ve been constantly sold the idea that consent is meaningless because women somehow aren’t fully human, they’re just bodies used to sell cars and aftershave and pay per view. It’s about entitlement and power – and I think that’s the crux of the matter. That violence against women is endemic both among those who lack power – and among those whose entitlement gives them a surfeit of it.

    The whole thing is kind of, men saying “I’m not a rapist!” meaning “I’m not a BAD EVIL PERSON” when it needs to be turned around to say “it doesn’t matter if you’re a bad evil person or not, if you have sex with a person without bothering to obtain their consent – *that* is what rape is, whether you are in the bushes with a balaclava or in a frat house with some vodka jellies!” Nice Boys can and do rape. That doesn’t mean we get rid of the term “rapist” but that we define it properly.

    It’s the kind of disconnect between the macro-view and the micro-view that is so problematic, and what I think, needs to be addressed, on both levels.

  4. Thanks all for your comments. Nice to see you, Snowdrop Explodes ! Glad you made it over from blogspot. Hi to Remittance girl and Masonic Boom too.

    I am afraid you haven’t convinced me, Masonic Boom and Snowdrop Explodes that ‘Rape Culture’ is a useful term to use in campaigns against gender violence. I agree with many of your points about how rape is socially produced, but I don’t agree with the idea that it is a ‘paradigm’ or a system of social control.

    I think women still have agency in our culture. I am not prepared to sit back and say we don’t!

    I find it interesting that snowdrop explodes has picked up on my point about prison rape as normalised. Because prison rape is mainly by men against men. But Masonic Booms definition of rape culture seems to be based on control of women by men. This means ‘rape culture’ as a term is confusing. Using ‘gender culture’ would help us understand more I think, why men rape women on the whole, but also other men in certain situations and contexts. eg military, prisons.

    I am not elitist, but if a term is not adopted by people doing academic studies in this field, I do think this is significant. I can only think that they don’t find it useful either!

    Thanks again for taking the time to comment on my blog.

  5. First, I like your argument about the word ‘rapist.’ As long as we reserve the term for monsters, we allow date-rape to be in a different, harder to prosecute category. The date-rapist (or party rapist) is clearly not a monster, so it must have been a miscommunication, “she led him on,” etc.

    Furthermore, as long as it’s such a heinous term, there’s no incentive to plead guilty. A guy can’t admit, “yeah, maybe she was too drunk to consent” unless he wants his life destroyed, so it’s better to claim innocence and destroy hers. Hell, given that even the accusation is damning, regardless of whether it’s true or not, it’s better to preemptively destroy her. Is that what we want?

    Second, my problem w/ “rape culture” is that the arguments for it are usually anecdotal. There are studies that access to internet porn actually reduces rape (http://www.slate.com/id/2152487/). Yet those studies, or other examinations of the particulars, usually get ignored in an attempt to argue that ‘men are evil’ or ‘porn is evil.’

    Finally, the big problem with both of these is that they’re forcing a black and white worldview. In doing so, those people who might be sympathetic, but in the middle, often end up in the opposing camp. At a minimum, this is a pragmatic failure in advancing one’s cause.

  6. Masonic Boom says:

    On the contrary, I would take the fact that Academia has *not* picked up on a term to mean that it is still valid and descriptive, and does not obfuscate or unnecessarily complicate matters. ;-)

  7. Hi Big Ed Magusson! I have just had a look at your website and it looks great. I wrote an ‘Ode to Steve Jobs’ that I must send you, following the announcement of his censorship on his i-pad apps…

    Thanks for your comments. I think you have summarised well some of the legal implications of our attachment to the ‘rapist’ and ‘rape culture’ labels, that do not help anyone.

    Thanks for the slate article as well. A must read for anyone interested in pornography and gender violence.

    I think there is some brilliant work going on within academia, masonic boom, that is tackling real incidents of and cultural attitudes to gender violence throughout the world. I will add some links to some of that research later. I know some academics can be over complicated in how they talk/write. But I am finding some non-academics just as difficult to understand these days. In fact more so. My point about the feminist blogger that blocked my comment was serious and it really pissed me off! I don’t think that would happen with a reasonable, non-insulting non-swearing comment on an academic or mainstream media forum.

  8. KimBooSan says:

    I really enjoyed this article; I’ve had issues with the whole “rape culture” concept but I’ve never been able to pin down why. I think you brought up some of the problems I have with it, as a term.

    What I really want to say is how much I love the “opposite of rape is not sex, it is no rape” concept. I am very frustrated in the rape dialogue because the confounding of rape with sex hyper-victimizes the victim. Rape becomes the WORST THING EVER and something the victim cannot – indeed, should not! – ever recover from. To me, the disempowers rape victims.

    Rape is about violence, and like getting hit in a fight or mugged on a street corner, it is traumatic. But society doesn’t stigmatize the mugging victim – “Oh, she’ll never be able to walk home from work again!” – the way it does a rape victims. Rape victims are supposed to immediately suffer huge, insurmountable issues in their sex life, it’s almost a cliche.

    Now, I’m a victim of date rape. It was not fun. I hated myself for “allowing it to happen” even though I was incapacitated by alcohol at the time, so yeah, I had issues about that I’ve taken a long time to confront. But you know what? It was not the end of my sex life. I did not suddenly distrust all men. No really, I kept having sex! Even after rape! I know, it’s crazy talk! *rolls eyes* Women who suffer violent rape have different issues, of course, and certainly have reason to experience trust and personal space issues. But it is NOT about sex; it’s about being violently attacked. And until that differentiation is made the stigma of being a rape victim will continue to deprive such women the right to recovery.

    This mythologizing of rape is still rooted in the whole “pedestal” complex, IMHO, and thus rapists are EVIL and women who get raped are spiritually/psychologically disfigured for LIFE and blah blah blah. The “rape culture” paradigm, while clearly meant as helpful critique and containing valuable cultural insight, seems to carry on that tradition.

    Not that I have a viable alternative, mind you. I just liked what you had to say. Thank you!

  9. Hi KimBoosan thank you for posting that comment! I completely agree with everything you say. The comparison to getting mugged/beaten up is interesting because we are generally encouraged to think rape is much ‘worse’ than those things, but also, to think it is not a ‘criminal act’ in the same way, (e.g. date rape often doesn’t lead to a conviction). Your story really helps to shatter both those myths.

  10. Joe says:

    Personally I would disagree on a couple of things. You seem to blame rape on our culture which for me is a bit like saying about concentration camp guard he caused the death of loads of jews that’s OK nazi germany had a very anti semetic culture. Surely the issue with rapists in court is that judges etc are insitutionally sexist.
    If instead we had lynch mobs who dealt with rapists then less rape may happen. While I’m not necessarily advocating lynch mobs we need an anarchist response. In order for that to happen communities need to get to get together and make rapists at the very least unwelcome from the community. In order to do this we need to bypass the law and create our own. I accept that the police won’t like it.

    On the other hand changing our culture would be very good indeed but to talk abut it being culture is not quite right I feel. That having said I like your ideas of trying to make something positive out of it.

  11. Hi Joe I think you may have missed my point. I was arguing against the concept of ‘rape culture’ not for it. Though I do think rape is socially produced. as for lynch mobs I am not in favour. I don’t believe in ostracising people from society. Even on a practical level: where would they go? Society is all we have!

  12. Sarah AB says:

    I have a question which I think leads on from the post and KimBooSan’s comment. This is a quote from a post on the same topic on Harry’s Place. “The 2003 Sexual Offences Act 2003 did not bring in “hindsight”. It did define consent as agreeing by choice, with the freedom and capacity to make that choice.”

    My question is – what does ‘with the freedom and capacity to make that choice mean’. Does a lack of capacity include being drunk to the same degree a man might be while still being capable of sex? And if so – is that perhaps troubling, given that a man, in such a situation, could never be classed as any kind of victim?

  13. quiet riot girl / Elly says:

    Hi Sarah thanks for your comment and question. I am not sure exactly what you mean, but I think you might be asking, if a woman is too drunk to consent and a man is as drunk as she, but still forces sex on her, is there a perpetrator of rape in that situation?

    Please correct me if I am wrong!

  14. Sarah AB says:

    I think I didn’t explain it very clearly because it’s a problematic area and I was perhaps skirting around my point for that reason! I’ll rephrase …

    My question hinges on what it means not to have ‘freedom and capacity to make that choice’ within the context of drinking. Does that mean pretty much comatose – or simply drunk enough for one’s judgement to be affected? And – crucially for my own point – is the level of drunkenness compatible, in a *man*, with sexual activity?

    Assuming the latter is the case – if a woman is drunk enough not to have the ‘freedom and capacity to make that choice’ and if a man misjudges that situation, or however you want to put it, then it might be possible to describe this as a rape, if I understand the guidelines correctly.

    But if you turn the situation round and it’s the *man* who is that drunk – and perhaps the woman is not – then he might also end up having sex without having the ‘freedom and capacity to make that choice’. Yet the way we conceptualise rape means that the man would not be seen as a victim in that situation, not of rape in any case.

  15. quiet riot girl / Elly says:

    Thanks for the clarification! I think it is interesting you felt you had to skirt the issue at first. With this post I am trying to encourage everyone not to skirt the issue because we have to talk about it to understand and act! I see what you mean now.

    I haven’t read the 2003 legislation clearly. I will find it and put a link up here. But I would say that in general, I would like to see rape laws changed, to allow more ‘kinds’ of sexual assault to be defined and made into law. In Canada, for example, the crime of rape was removed in 1983 and now there are ‘aggrevated sexual assault’ and ‘sexual assault’. But the Right wing govt want to bring rape back onto the statute books…

    I think a woman could sexually assault a drunk man. I wouldn’t call it rape myself, but if we had sexual assault definitions it could be argued in court.

  16. Sarah AB says:

    Thanks – interesting to read about the different approach in Canada. It’s interesting that the aura of horror around rape – and of course I don’t want to trivialise this crime – is associated with feminism, yet perhaps fetishizes women’s sexuality in the same way patriarchal culture is supposed to do.

  17. Clarisse says:

    I think you’d like the manliness thread that I started on my blog waaaayyy back in 2009. Check it out here:

    http://clarissethorn.wordpress.com/2009/12/09/manliness-and-feminism-the-followup/

    It’s VERY LONG (more than 900 comments and still going), so you might just want to search for “rape culture” to find the comments most relevant to this topic.

  18. Hi Clarisse. Thanks so much for that link. I have started to look at the post and the comments. What a conversation! I agree that masculinity is much less examined than femininity. Glad to see so many men wanting to talk about it. I will read more!

  19. Motley says:

    Hi, good post. Over at Clarisse’s thread, we more or less came to similar conclusions about “rape culture” and the use of the word “rapist” to mean “someone who did this one specific thing” as opposed to “inhuman monster.” (And how you don’t want to conflate the two, because that gets used to “prove” that someone “can’t possibly” be a rapist if they’re not an inhuman monster… and, generally, nobody is.)

    Looks like you’d probably find that thread over there interesting (and yeah, it’s at 986 comments so far). It’s a bit surprising, at first, the extent to which men are interested in discussing gender dynamics. And the ways in which feminist terminology is and isn’t useful (though I’m mostly interested in that last part because I’m a bit of a word geek).

  20. Kim says:

    This is truly a breathe of fresh air in the discussion of rape and a particularly good analysis of the way language can be a help or hinderance to change.

    Whilst I’m not sure I agree with you over the use of the term ‘rapist’ I can see your point about pathologising offenders making it difficult for judges & juries to convict when faced with seemingly normal men who don’t seem to fit into the demonised stereotype of a ‘rapist’.

    I do agree with what you’ve written about the opposite of rape being not rape rather than sex and I think this sort of distinction between sex as separate from rape in any sense is much needed to help society understand how and why rape occurs in contexts where the man is known/befriended/dating/married to the woman who is raped.

  21. Hi Kim
    Thanks for commenting on this post. I have revisted the issue of rape culture again in the blog: ‘further adventures in rape culture’. I think it is a massively important issue in feminism. I am sure I will return to it again, and I learn all the time from what other people say in their comments, chats etc.

  22. Elise says:

    Excellent post, really interesting comments that raise many good points. I like what Sarah AB has to say about the iffy boundary between feminism and fetishization in our cultural obsession with rape (to which I’ve always felt the term “rape culture” contributes – that is, strongly linking present – I assume Western – culture as a whole with rape). For some background on this, see Leslie Fiedler’s ‘Love and Death in the American Novel,’ which locates the origins of Western rape obsession/fetishization in puritan England. For a present example of this iffy boundary, see Roberto Bolano’s novel ’2666′ (which appears to locate rape of women in a continuum that includes systematic violent crimes against women and also prison rape of men by men). I may make a post about this on my litblog at some point; I’ve done it on previous blogs.

    I’m not sure how I feel about separating rape and sex. I think it probably helps women deal with the fear of rape (since I’ve never been raped, I don’t know about the consequences) to think of it as akin to getting beat up rather than considering it an archetypal violation or stain from which they can never recover. At the same time, what if there’s some grain of truth to that primitive myth? What if in some sense it *is* a violation that goes *beyond* violence, since it touches on issues of sex, agency, and identity? Shouldn’t women who’ve been raped have a *right* to be sexually screwed up if that’s the result, whether or not that results in sexual fearfulness/avoidance? (I know you’re not arguing against this, I’m just working out my own thoughts – based not only on my reading but also on having known numerous women who’ve been raped, at various ages, under various circumstances, with various reactions.)

    The date rape issue, while important, muddies matters even more. Are we talking about intoxicated women who, for all intents and purposes, appeared to consent to sex, but with impaired judgment? (If that’s the case, almost all of my relationships started out with me being “raped” even though I got intoxicated with the intent of lowering my own inhibitions.) Or are we talking about cases where a woman was, say, on a date (alcohol involved or not) and alone with a man or making out with him, and she was sexually assaulted (with physical or verbal expressions of resistance)? Because I don’t think the former and latter situations should be lumped together under the single term “date rape.” On the other hand, maybe I’ve just never been drunk enough at a party or on a date to have sex and wake up realizing I didn’t consent. I’m not being sarcastic – I can envision that happening and being a frightening situation. (I’ve been drunk enough in my life for that *to have happened* if I were less lucky.) “Consent” can have a clear-cut definition, and it can also have a complex one.

    On a lighter note, an anecdote re: Masonic Boom’s definition of rape culture. I belonged to an internet community once full of rowdy, snarky girls (most of us in our 20s and 30s, I believe) who made all sorts of vile comments about male celebrities we found sexy, including many, many jokes about “domestic abuse” of men. I found this side-splittingly hilarious although I could never figure out if it was so funny because of how far we were willing to go or because we were turning “teenage boy” type online comments about women on their head – getting our own back, etc. Or both. Certainly I have very frequently used the term “I’d hit that” online about male celebs (half-jokingly, but who’s to say that even the teen boys aren’t being half-joking and deliberately “naughty”?). As Camille Paglia has argued, violence and sex are deeply interrelated in the psyche, regardless of gender – men, however, have the means to act on it. Maybe if it were more socially acceptable for women to express the full range of their “unladlylike” sexuality, we’d all be less outraged by male (verbal) “misbehavior.”

  23. Hi Elise
    Great comments there-I hope you do write a blogpost on this subject. I have just bought Bolano’s Savage Detectives on your recommendation.

    There’s loads to respond to there-I might post your comment and respond on a proper blogpost. It’s dialectic innit?

  24. [...] something like this: “If you question us, then you’re a child molester, a sexual predator, a rapist, and/or an enabler of those [...]

  25. [...] Look under the hood and you can see Gail Dines’ campaign is promulgated by Christian groups and companies with explicit anti-gay histories, that her most visible sidekick is faith-based Pink Cross “charity” founder Shelley Lubben, or that among her most vocal supporters is former Bush-era Obscenity Task Force Prosecutor Patrick Trueman (whose own “Porn Harms” group crows with obvious delight at censorship of sex-positive discussions). Here too, the fear-inducing messages—and the thinly-veiled threat—is the same: “good girls don’t; men are predators.” [...]

  26. […] Look under the hood and you can see Gail Dines’ campaign is promulgated by Christian groups and companies with explicit anti-gay histories, that her most visible sidekick is faith-based Pink Cross “charity” founder Shelley Lubben, or that among her most vocal supporters is former Bush-era Obscenity Task Force Prosecutor Patrick Trueman (whose own “Porn Harms” group crows with obvious delight at censorship of sex-positive discussions). Here too, the fear-inducing messages—and the thinly-veiled threat—is the same: “good girls don’t; men are predators.” […]

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