Challenging ‘Rape Myths’…

Posted: January 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

This post is not going to be full of the usual mix of sex and violence and… well it is , but not in a way you might like it to be.

Belle De Jour, now going by her real name of Dr Brooke Magnanti, has published some important research. She has taken statistics and findings from the Lilith Report of 2003, which found a causal linkk between rape statistics in Camden London, and the increase in lapdancing clubs in the area, and proved it to be totally misleading and, basically wrong.

Her paper seems to be being ignored by anti-sex work and anti-adult industry feminists. Unsurprisingly so. But it is being circulated by those more interested in actual facts in the subject of sex work, adult entertainment work and gendered violence.

The blogger Sexhibition has reproduced the report in full on her blog, and I urge you to read it:

The part of the analysis I found most crucial was the discussion at the end:

‘The paper also strongly implies that the rapes are stranger rapes. A Home Office report analysing relationships between victims and offenders notes that for rapes, strangers are the perpetrators in only 17% of UK cases (Walby and Allen 2004). 75% of reported rapes occur either in the victim’s home or in the perpetrator’s (Myhill and Allen 2002). Even if lap dancing businesses were shown to contribute to stranger rape, this alone could not explain large changes in the statistics of reported rapes overall’

In other rape news, when I discussed my last post Know The Difference?’ on twitter with some people, and also Brooke’s research, one of them quoted me back to myself. And added a little bit of judgement into the mix:

“What about when you have sex with your partner out of duty rather than desire?” < Why would you do that? “Duty”??!? WTF?

Relationships are not like Mills and Boon stories. Sometimes we do things because we feel we should, even things as ‘primal’ and ‘passionate’ as sex. Am I a sad, pathetic doormat to have given it up for a partner because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, or cause an argument, or miss out on my morning cup of tea in bed the next day? I don’t know. But I am pretty sure I am not alone.

Then I was told about this organisation, a support centre for survivors of rape in Leeds. I couldn’t believe how scaremongering it was, and how far it perpetuates the myths Brooke was discussing in her paper, that rape is something committed by strangers in dark alleyways, maybe on their way home from a lap dancing club.

Rape and sexual assault happen far more often than statistics indicate…

The majority of women in society fear rape – no woman is allowed to ignore it. The majority of children are taught to be afraid of ’strange men’ who offer us sweets, lifts, etc. We are taught as adults to keep our doors locked, not to be alone, not to look or act in any way that might ‘bring rape upon ourselves’. Perhaps the most obvious situation in which we are taught to be afraid is when walking home alone at night. The threat of violence is a total intrusion into women’s personal space and transforms a routine and/or potential pleasurable activity (for example, a walk in the park, a quiet evening at home, a long train journey) into a potentially upsetting, disturbing and often threatening experience.

Rape myths give people a false sense of security by minimising and/or denying the occurrence of sexual violence. They accomplish this by blaming the victim and making excuses for the perpetrator. In effect these myths perpetuate sexual violence because they play a powerful part in defining responses to rape and create an excuse not to address the realities of sexual violence.

‘Rape myths give people a false sense of security?’
I’d say the opposite is true.

Rape gets boring in the end, as a subject for debate, but it doesn’t seem to want to go away. Please read Brooke’s paper and pass it on.

Thanks! And fuck fear. That’s what I say.



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