joreth: (Bad Computer!)
I had been posting about the Stanford rape case for a few days, and rather than fill up my blog or Twitter feed (which auto-tweets each of these blog posts as I make them) with all the posts I blew up my Facebook with, I'm going to just put them all in a single post, and I'll even put the meat of them behind a cut for the 2 of you who still read LJ like a social media feed.

Here goes...

"I don't claim this to be fact but I see a pattern emerging in rape culture that suggests that women have a past, while men have potential.  When women are violated, we're asked 'what did you do to deserve this?' and often our past is looked at for clues.  When men violate women, they're asked 'what do you have to lose?' and their future is looked at for clues." ~Louisa Curry

Rape Culture is when an unconscious woman can be raped in an alley, the rapist can be caught in the act, and a judge believes it is acceptable to say "he's suffered enough, let's give him just a few months in jail, poor kid".

Understand, Rape Culture is not this one situation. It is the entire culture that leads a judge to the belief that this conclusion is acceptable. It is all the things that judge has experienced over his lifetime and his current cultural climate that leads him to that decision, including the likely true belief that the decision will not be overturned and that he, the judge, will not suffer any consequences for his decision.

Note: it is not actually relevant whether the judge suffers consequences or the decision is overturned. Rape Culture is the aggregate of experiences that LEADS to his BELIEF that these things are true in spite of the fact that his entire career revolves around upholding the law, under which rape is ILLEGAL.

And I'm only addressing the judge, not the rapist or his fucking rapist father (and yes, I'm labeling him as such without any evidence because it is extremely likely that a white man with his mentality probably raped people in his past since he does not see his son's actions as rape - remember, a majority of men are willing to admit to raping others as long as you describe the acts but don't use the R-word).

Next, someone takes exception to my accusation that the rapist's father is probably a rapist too. So I ranted:

Lessee ... a man is caught *in the act* of raping an unconscious woman, his father is quoted as saying that his son no longer likes eating steak and how high a price that is to pay for "20 minutes of action", that his son "has never been violent to anyone including his actions on the night of Jan 17th 2015" (if you're confused, that means that the father does not consider the act of raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster in a manner that left dirt inside her vagina and scrapes and abrasions on her body to be "violent", which we already knew because he called it "action" - a phrase common among his generation as an innuendo for consensual sex), thinks that the problem is "alcohol and promiscuity" (implying that the *victim* got drunk and engaged in sexual activity willingly only now regrets it because the alcohol made her slutty), and research which I alluded to in my original comment shows that: 1) men admit to rape as long as you describe the acts rather than call the acts "rape"; 2) many of those who *do* admit to rape are also repeat offenders, and 3) the majority of these rapes go unreported ... but *I'm* the one with a credibility issue because I have statistics to back me up on the likelihood that a particular attitude is correlated with prior acts of rape but someone who happens to fit into the same demographic as the accused is worried about the feels and reputation of someone who is not a good person and is willing to go on public record as such.

Right, I'm totally doing more damage with my qualified, disclaimered accusation. No, please, let's sidetrack this discussion and outrage of Rape Culture to focus on the credibility of those who are outraged, because that's way more helpful.
"Pooling data from four samples in which 1,882 men were assessed for acts of interpersonal violence, we report on 120 men whose self-reported acts met legal definitions of rape or attempted rape, but who were never prosecuted by criminal justice authorities. A majority of these undetected rapists were repeat rapists, and a majority also committed other acts of interpersonal violence. The repeat rapists averaged 5.8 rapes each. The 120 rapists were responsible for 1,225 separate acts of interpersonal violence, including rape, battery, and child physical and sexual abuse. These findings mirror those from studies of incarcerated sex offenders... indicating high rates of both repeat rape and multiple types of offending.

"It is estimated that between 64% and 96% percent of all rapes are never reported to criminal justice authorities ... and that only a small minority of reported cases, especially nonstranger assaults, ever result in the successful prosecution of the offender... Clearly, the vast majority of rapists are never brought to justice." -

"Lisak and Miller found that of the approximately 6 percent of men who admitted to rape or attempted rape, a startling 63 percent reported committing more than one rape, with an average of six rape acts each."

"Using the FBI’s definition of rape, the researchers found a higher proportion of men — 10.8 percent of the total sample, nearly twice as high as the Lisak/Miller study — who would be considered rapists. This suggests that the problem is far more widespread than the older study indicated."

"Among the men who reported acts of rape in the new study, only about 25 percent said they had committed those acts over multiple college years. "

"they point to a more complicated reality, where more men are committing rape and their behavior is harder to predict. " -

"On average, about one in four men included in the study said they had raped someone at some point in their lives. One in ten had raped someone who wasn’t their romantic partner."

"Instead, they asked men whether they had ever “forced a woman who was not your wife or girlfriend at the time to have sex,” or if they had ever “had sex with a woman who was too drunk or drugged to indicate whether she wanted it.” That likely helped researchers gather more accurate information about the nonconsensual sexual acts that men had engaged in. Since many people don’t learn the lines of consent, many sexually active adults may not understand when they’re violating someone else — and they may not believe they have actually raped someone."

"Nearly half of the respondents who said they had raped at least once went on to rape multiple victims. Nearly 23 percent said they had raped two to three people, 12 percent say they had raped four to ten people, and about 4 percent said they had raped more than ten people. Here in the United States, some research has drawn similar conclusions about repeat rapists at the college level. A Harvard University study found that the young men who commit a rape in college are likely to become serial offenders — and many of them do, since lenient sexual assault policies on college campuses often allow them to evade punishment."

"One of the fundamental concepts at the heart of “rape culture” is the idea that rape is inevitable, men can’t help themselves, and women must therefore work to protect themselves against it. Within the context of rape culture, the idea that men are entitled to sexual experiences is deeply entrenched. The UN researchers found that this attitude is pervasive among the rapists they surveyed. Among the men who acknowledged they had sexually assaulted someone else, more than 70 percent of them said they did it because of “sexual entitlement.” Forty percent said they were angry or wanted to punish the woman. About half of the men said they did not feel guilty." -

"The scientists also found an association between admitting to coercive sex acts and endorsing two distinct attitudes: the belief in rape myths, such as 'If a woman doesn't fight back, it isn't rape,' and traditional views of gender roles, such as 'Women should worry less about their rights and more about becoming good wives and mothers.'" -
I'm going to summarize this for those of you who want to argue with the statistics or think that there are contradictory conclusions in the links I'm providing:

The point here is that most rapes go unreported, lots of people admit to raping others as long as you don't use the R-word because they have a fundamental belief system that allows them to commit aggressive acts of violence against others while still believing that they are not doing anything wrong, and that there are many many different types of acts, situations, and patterns that all fall under the headings "rape" and "sexual assault".

All these things add up to the conclusion that rape is disturbingly widespread, most people have no fucking idea what rape actually is, lots of people believe they are morally, ethically, and legally in the right for acts that are coercive, violent, and non-consensual, and there are certain non-rape things that people do or say that belie the various categories of mindsets that lead people to committing acts of sexual assault.

What follows from there is the notion that a very large percentage of the population, even likely a majority of the population, has engaged in acts of some kind of sexual assault at some point in their lives. Which means that many of us are in danger of having committed acts of sexual assault out of sheer ignorance and the internalization of beliefs absorbed from our culture.

Don't think that you're above reproach. Don't think that you're untouchable. Don't think that you are pure of heart and body. We all have the potential for violence and harm. This doesn't excuse anyone. In fact, this is intended to refute excuse. The question is not whether you have ever harmed someone before. The question is how you dealt with it when you were finally called on it and what you are doing now (whether you have ever been accused of harming someone or not) to *reduce* (because we will all continue to harm people) the amount of harm you cause others.

I have harmed people in my past. Some of them I deeply regret because I have since unlearned some of my cultural training and I now see the wrongness of my actions. Some of them I regret because they were necessary consequences to my own survival or my own care but I did not desire the harm that resulted. Some of them I do not regret because I continue to feel justified in my actions under the given circumstances and I feel that harming another was the appropriate course of action.

Outrage at a culture that encourages assault, rape, and other harms through small, sometimes seemingly unrelated, reinforced messages is justified and valid. Refusing to hear the outrage because of the speaker's tone or specific word use or even personal mistakes IS PART OF THE PROBLEM. If you get so distracted by something specific the speaker said or did that you can't even get behind the outrage of the violation of a human being's autonomy and bodily sovereignty, then YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.

If you feel the urge to remind everyone that only some people are doing the things being spoken of, then YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM and I would recommend that you take a good, hard look at yourself to ask why you feel so personally hurt or threatened or upset at the thought that someone, somewhere, might not understand the concept of a generalization and might possibly lump you in with people in your demographic who are doing bad things. If you can't tell the difference between a generalization used to speak of an endemic, systemic, culture-wide problem that is the responsibility of everyone in that culture even if they, personally, aren't doing the thing, and a stereotype that harms individuals in a demographic whether they are or are not doing that thing, then YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM and are likely an example of the sentiment behind the oft-quoted phrase "methinks he doth protest too much".

"If someone's a rapist and an athlete, they're not an athlete who made a mistake, they're a criminal who can also swim." ~Lauren DeStefano

Maybe if we understood this, we wouldn't have so many celebrity pro sports stars making millions of dollars a year infesting the major sports leagues and getting away with beating and raping women every day. Maybe if we understood this, we'd better prioritize salaries for job positions that actually make contributions to our society, like teachers and sanitation workers, instead of enshrining rape and abuse because someone happens to be rather physically fit.

Just saw someone asking how in the world could a judge possibly have given a rapist only 6 months and suggested the judge must have been on the take because they couldn't think of any other possible reason to be so lenient with a rapist.

Um, he's a white, upper class male college student, that's how. Apparently, you haven't been paying attention to how white middle-upper class college males get treated by our legal system. Rape and mass murder is totes cool, just a mistake made by silly boys, don't be too hard on them, might ruin their futures and make them feel bad about themselves.

But black men stealing cigars or jaywalking? Death penalty without benefit of a trial! Trans folk or masculine-looking women wanting to pee? Beat the shit out of them for the audacity of using a public restroom!

Poor white college dude, though, the thought of people thinking he might have raped someone, now, well, THAT'S some serious trauma!

I have been drunk hundreds, if not thousands of times. I have been blind drunk. I have been stupid drunk. I have been regrettable financial decision drunk. I have been vomit on a cops shoes drunk. I have been argue with Christopher Hitchens on a balcony drunk. I have been mix painkillers with alcohol drunk.

Yet I have never once been rape drunk. Rapists, stop blaming the alcohol, you fucks. You give honest drunkards a bad name.

Also, stop raping people, you useless shits.
~Jay Laudig
I've been with lots of blind, stupid drunk men. None of them have been rape-drunk. None of them have tried to rape me. However, several sober ones have.

It's not the alcohol, although that might contribute to the fallacious thinking that leads to one to try and rape. But it's not the alcohol, it's the mentality that rape is OK.

P.S. I'm a teetotaler - I don't drink at all. I'm still saying to stop blaming the alcohol. Alcohol lowers inhibitions, it doesn't make you a totally different person. Much like hypnotism, those beliefs have to be there already for the alcohol to lower your inhibitions to affect them.

Reminder: When you say that a criminal deserves to be raped in prison you are saying that rape is a tool for punishment. You are adding to the rape culture idea that anyone can "deserve" rape. No one does. It is an abhorrent act in and of itself.

Consider that many victims are told they "deserved" being raped because of how they dressed, where they were, how they behaved, etc.

Moreover, many people who struggle with anxiety and ptsd have troll brain thoughts that tell them that they "deserved" what happened to them because of some internal perceived flaw. By applying the idea to bad people you are just reinforcing the message from troll brain.

The joke/suggestion HURTS victims. So if you actually want to help victims, don't make those jokes. Ever.
~ Ania Maria Bula

Seriously, stop fucking saying that anyone deserves to be raped. No one does.

And don't forget, in order for "bad people" to get raped, there has to be someone doing the raping. I'd much rather live in a world where rapists don't exist than in one in which there are rapists bad enough to take down even other bad guys.


As a victim of abuse and assault myself, I have lots of friends and followers who are also victims of various things. I, of all people, completely understand the emotions of anger and vengeance. I have not always been my best self and have wished for (even partaken in) vengeance for others.

However, I also believe that emotions, while often valid*, are not the place from which to make decisions that affect other people and / or are irreversible. I want hard, absolutely incontrovertible evidence before I'm willing to hold or support incontrovertible conclusions. I also understand the long-term consequences and repercussions that result from giving the State the power to enact these things. This is *different* from a personal desire to make someone understand what it feels like to be the victim (to gain empathy) or the right to defend oneself in an altercation that results in death.

Calling for rape as a suitable punishment for rapists only encourages and fosters Rape Culture, which is exactly the thing that led to the rape in question in the first place. It does not prevent more rape and it does not help the victims. Calling for the death penalty does not prevent others from their crimes and does not help the victims. Since rape is not about sex, but about power, even castration is not appropriate because a penis is not the only weapon to sexually assault someone with (I know, I know, shocking, but the penis is not the end-all, be-all tool that can change or "soil" another human being - your penis is not magic, it is the act of violating one's autonomy that harms, not the mere presence of a penis).

Punitive justice systems DO NOT WORK and giving the State that kind of power is a dangerous, dangerous precedent. Rehabilitative systems have a much better success rate of both cutting down crime in the culture, as well as preventing repeat offenses (yes, even for those criminals who are not rehabilitate-able because rehabilitative systems are not naive, they are complex and as such accommodate the wide variety of crimes and reasons why people commit crimes, which is more than your black-and-white thinking can do), and are more economically sustainable for the society to support.

I've had this discussion with lots of people, including people who are actually qualified to have this discussion. That means that I've heard from people who are smarter than you. So I do not need to hear any more arguments on the subject in my feeds. As usual, I will continue to monitor what the experts say, to make sure my own opinion accurately reflects reality, but that doesn't mean that anyone needs to 'splain it to me in my comments. I, and the people I want to feel comfortable in my feed, do not need your opinions on the subject, especially while already trying to balance all the anger and outrage and fear that comes with the various topics that tend to spark these sorts of pro-punitive comments.

I don't pretend to offer much "safe space" because I, myself, am a hard-assed arguer who vehemently defends my space as my right to say whatever the fuck I want. But in this case, what I want to say are things that dismantle Rape Culture, and calling for the rape or death of criminals actually works against my goals. So I will not harbor those comments. You have your own pages for that.

Although note that if I learn that people have these views, *I* might start to feel unsafe in interacting with you and our connection might suffer for it. This is not a warning to keep your thoughts buried. This is a notice that your thoughts, which lead people to actions, are harmful and if you value my position and insight on these sorts of subjects, you might want to rethink yours.


*regarding the validity of emotions: I hate the use of the phrase "valid" with regards to emotions because it is used to interchangeably to mean two different things and only one of which I support. Emotions are "valid" in the sense that they are real. People have their emotions and what they feel is a real feeling and no one outside of that person can tell that person what they are feeling or not feeling.

Emotions are NOT "valid" in the sense that they are not always accurate predictions of the world around the person having the emotions. Just because a person feels hurt, it doesn't necessarily mean that anyone else actually *hurt* them. Our emotions lie to us and they do whatever they can to protect themselves, not us. They do not reflect objective reality. They are the experience and expression of our own internal landscape and filters regarding the world around us.

The trick with our emotions is to decipher what they are telling us about OURSELVES (not others), and to then USE that underlying information as data along with objective data to make decisions. Sometimes we are hurting because someone hurt us and we need to get away from that person. Sometimes we are hurting because we have an internal issue that needs to be addressed and we don't need to escape something externally because that won't help. Our emotions are warning flags and road signs, not infallible GPS navigators that can tell us where to go. So, I tend to twitch at the phrase "emotions are valid" - no, it depends on which definition of "valid" is being used, *and* it depends on if that phrase is being used to justify poor actions.

The reason why people can hold such harsh views on other wrongdoers is because they can't imagine themselves in that position and needing understanding or leniency or seeing the nuance or contextual complexity of a situation.

This is the very definition of privilege. You can't see how something can possibly affect you so you're willing to excuse poor treatment of others by rationalizing that they "deserve" it.

You are not above reproach. You are not infallible. You can one day find yourself at the receiving end of a justice system that you helped to create that will not take into account your special circumstances.

The reason why we have "innocent until proven guilty" as our standard (and why it doesn't apply to social settings) is because our forefathers knew that a truly just system would necessarily be flawed because people are the creators, and so it was therefore more acceptable to err on the side of leniency where some criminals might go free than on the side of harshness where innocent people might be punished. Our current system, even *with* that aphorism supposedly guiding it, has swung too far to the wrong side.

And then there's the middle ground where one's innocence or guilt is not in question, but they are nevertheless fully nuanced humans because no one is a cardboard cutout, comic book, black-hat villain.

You cannot see yourself ever being in one of these unfortunate positions because you have convinced yourself that you are a Good Person, and Good People do not do Bad Things. Those people did Bad Things, therefore they are Bad People. You are the problem. You are the reason why people do Bad Things and why people continue to do Bad Things. Everyone thinks that they are morally and ethically right in what they do, because everyone thinks that they are Good People. That kind of thinking is what blinds people to the fact that they fucked up and did something bad. That kind of thinking is what prevents people from learning empathy or from taking responsibility and holding themselves accountable for their actions.

The knowledge that there is no understanding, no forgiveness, no second chances, no contextual exemptions or explanations, no space to repent and do better, is what drives people who do Bad Things underground and what drives them to continue doing them. Why should anyone feel bad about their mistakes? Why should anyone stop making their mistakes? Why should they ask for help in ceasing their mistakes if there is no room for them, if there is no safe space for them to change? They are lost souls. They are cast-outs. They are doomed. So why bother to fix anything? Their situation is your doing.

And you may one day find yourself on the receiving end of your "justice" precisely because you cannot conceive of being in that position so you will be unable to predict or prevent the thoughts that lead to the actions that carry you to that position.



There is a very big difference between drawing strong boundaries around ourselves and how we relate to, interact with, or feel about someone who has done Bad Things personally, and giving the government the power to make irrevocable punishments and decisions over people who do Bad Things. While we absolutely need a system of justice to deal with people who do Bad Things and while we absolutely can draw whatever personal boundaries we want regarding other people, setting the same consequences for both personal feelings and the government penal system is very dangerous.

That led to witch burnings and lynchings and a for-profit prison system that punishes black pot smokers because of *personal* feelings towards those kinds of behaviours. The reason for leniency in the penal system is because, at any moment, we could find ourselves on the receiving end of an unjust system with an enormous amount of power. All it takes is either the system being controlled by people who have different value systems from ours, or one of those complicated, nuanced situations popping up where we are able to rationalize how "it's different when I do it".

Look at the no-tolerance laws for drugs and weapons on school campuses! People who can't see themselves in that situation or who think of themselves as Good People don't see how it was inevitable that the law would eventually start penalizing children for their asthma medication or bringing in their homemade clocks to show their teachers. Part of that is because of the Good Person fallacy that they're committing and part of that is because they are part of a privileged demographic who is not likely to be unfairly targeted by ridiculous interpretations of those rules.

We all do shit that other people think is unforgivable or heinous. Most of the time, we feel justified in having done those things, which is why we did them. Those no-tolerance attitudes can be applied back on us. Other times, we might have genuinely learned from our mistakes and grown as people. Had the penalty for our crimes been death, we would not have become the productive members of society that we are now, with people who love us and accomplishments and acts of redemption. Had the penalty been death and we just never got caught, we would be unlikely to have sought help to find accountability or even changed our outlook to one in which we now admit our wrongdoing, because to do so would have meant our death.

Had the penalties been other atrocities like rape or castration or assault, even though we might have lived through it, those things would have damaged us which decreases the chances that we could have found redemption, accepted accountability, or learned empathy or regret. Those penalties would likely have exacerbated the problem. Those penalties would likely have made us worse or more broken people instead of given us a chance to get better.

Apparently, this article needs to be trotted out again.

"Liberal democracies have put in place a very high standard for allowing the state to take away the life or freedom of one of its citizens (unless you’re a person of colour living in the United States, but that’s another subject). That standard gives people protections, in theory at least, like “innocent until proven guilty” and “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” This is ostensibly to prevent abuses of state power, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t apply these standards to every one of your interpersonal relationships, not to mention how you organize your communities. After all, not inviting someone to a party, or not allowing them to speak at your conference, or even just telling a survivor that you believe them is every bit as serious as locking someone up in prison. So of course you would never want to do any of those things without the same standard of proof."

If you want to do something and you don't live in Santa Clara county to sign the actual recall petition being launched by a Stanford professor this week, fill out this form and mail it in to file a judicial complaint against Aaron Persky for showing bias in according such a light sentence to a fellow Stanford athlete.

Judge - Aaron Persky
Court - Superior
County - Santa Clara
Name of case & case number - The People of the State of California v. Brock Allen Turner, Case No. B1577162
Action of judge: (feel free to write in your own words, this is just an example) Appearance of bias toward a particular class: Judge Persky sentenced fellow Stanford athlete to an unusually light sentence of just 6 months, in spite of a unanimous jury verdict on three counts of sexual assault. There were two eyewitnesses to the act. Turner being a swimmer has nothing to do with the severity of his crimes and should not have had any influence on Persky's sentence.
Others present: District Attorney Jeff Rosen, Defense Attorney Mike Armstrong, Brock Allen Turner, Jane Doe.

Commission on Judicial Performance
455 Golden Gate Avenue, Suite 14400
San Francisco, CA 94102
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