Body vs Property

There’s this essay –
http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/david_cox/2007/09/feminisms_rape_fallacy.html – it starts off talking about trials, but quickly lapses into the frequently-made comparison to burglary, and exhortations to women to “think twice” about what they do. Predictable of course: almost any article on rape in a daily newspaper is like that (yet is somehow always treated as some Great New Insight); and just as predictably, it is followed by a slew of supportive, “rational” comments which somehow in their “rationality” never realise that women are *always* going to be way ahead of men when it comes to taking precautions against rape, or that comparing rape to a property crime is offensive on any level.

And then of course, the comments about false allegations kick in. Now while I don’t want to minimise the seriousness of a false rape accusation, or suggest that it’s the man’s fault, I do think it’s time that men were encouraged to take precautions to minimise the possible damage to their reputations: think twice before going to a woman’s hotel room; realise that keeping the company of an imaginative female could carry risks, especially if drink is involved. After all, in cases of identity theft, it is very hard to prove the truth of matters, and even rarer to see the guilty parties punished – so we take care to shred documents we don’t keep – we try to keep the flow of information about ourselves under control. Is it so outrageous to suggest comparable behaviour in regard to rape-allegations? Any men bristling? Probably, and rightly – it’s an appalling comparison, just as the comparison between brutally violating another’s body and stealing their valuables.

Any men wanting to say, “that’s different?” Probably, and wrongly – it’s not different. And if the previous paragraph doesn’t illustrate why, then let me acknowledge that castration is a horrible thing to do to a man, and I wouldn’t want to diminish the responsibility of the individual doing the cutting. But when our property is vandalised, we take steps to protect it – we lock it away, we fit it with alarms – is it so outrageous to suggest comparable behaviour in the field of castration? To suggest to men that going to a woman’s home (where she keeps her knives) might be dangerous, or advise men that getting themselves into a drunken stupor in the company of a moody female could carry risks? See it now?

People are not property; bodies are not property. But while this is apparently so easy to grasp in the case of men, with women, this identification of body and property is so deeply ingrained that even noticing it, let alone challenging it, is deemed irrational.

Comments

  1. Purtek says

    To suggest to men that going to a woman’s home (where she keeps her knives) might be dangerous, or advise men that getting themselves into a drunken stupor in the company of a moody female could carry risks?

    This analogy dismantles the anti-feminist critique that there is an epidemic of unpublicized cases of female violence against men and awareness is needed about the male plight. If the situation were genuinely comparable, men really would be afraid to be alone with women they had just met. Seriously–imagine men living on a ‘castration clock’.

    I want to vomit when I hear anyone describe the experience of having something stolen, or even of having someone go through their personal items without permission, with having been raped or ‘violated’. It’s a default part of the lexicon, both when we’re talking about rape and when we’re talking about property theft. Ick.

  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    Amazing how people who think it’s a woman’s responsibility to safeguard her vagina (or mouth, or anus) from unwanted entrance never seem to think it should be a man’s responsibility to safeguard his semen from unwanted contact with eggs. The second argument instantly brings up the myth that men are frequently drugged, raped then sued for paternity.

    And yet, even within the mythical argument lies a huge irony: it would be a shame if a man was drugged, raped and sued for paternity, with the woman violator never held accountable. Would it not, then, be a shame if a woman were drugged, raped and tortured with reminders, and the man violator never held accountable?

    This reveals the true stance behind the argument: women exist to be fucked by men. They have no right to say no unless they are reserving themselves for their particular fucker-owner. Sorry for the harsh language, but English – exhibiting its cultural tendency toward denial of uncomfortable things – has no polite active verb for the act of sex, which blunts the true hostility behind certain attitudes about women’s sexuality.

  3. says

    Check out this post about the ‘men’s rights’ argument conflating a woman’s right to choose abortion with a man’s right to opt out of fatherhood. It brings the point back to this same argument:

    The suggestion that your right to control your wallet is the same as a woman’s right to control her body is… well… it’s sort of offensive. It treats a woman’s body like a piece of property, and I think that women are rightly annoyed and disturbed by that kind of reasoning.

    On the one hand, it’s nice to see the offensiveness behind the reasoning articulated so clearly. On the other, it’s kind of depressing how shocking it is to see it spelled out like that, because that tells me just how deeply ingrained the assumption is.

  4. SunlessNick says

    If the situation were genuinely comparable, men really would be afraid to be alone with women they had just met. - Purtek

    As they would if false rape allegations were the epidemic that MRA’s like to say they are – or had the MRA-claimed chance of destroying the accused’s life.

    This reveals the true stance behind the argument: women exist to be fucked by men. They have no right to say no unless they are reserving themselves for their particular fucker-owner. - BetaCandy

    Melissa McEwan had a post in this article as well – http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2007/09/because-go-fuck-yourself-isnt.html – and one of her commentators said something very telling:

    What always gets me about the rape prevention attitude is that, well, if you follow the statistics on rape, the best situation for a woman to be in, in terms of the likelihood of a rape occurring, is to be in a public place by herself. The most dangerous place is to be at home with a man that she knows, and, often, trusts.

    That’s the problem with the “rape prevention” argument: it purports to offer a solution to the problem of rape by telling women to do things that do not reduce their statistical risk, to do things that are statistically risky, and then goes on to act as if prevention is entirely in the hands of the victim.

    Here’s the grim truth, for all you prevention advocates out there: the only way for a woman to protect herself from rape is to become a paranoid obsessive with lethal skills in hand-to-hand combat, who fears and is suspicious of all men, including those she ought to be able to love and trust, and who never, ever lets down her guard. - Rana

    And I wonder if the grimmer truth is that these pundit-approved precautions are meant to fail – after all any woman who successfully employs them is shamed by those same pundits as a paranoid frigid bitch who insults men with her cynical view of them (oh, and it’s always feminism which has generated such a view).

    So are they even meant to protect women, or are they meant to protect rapists, by demanding standards of guard so impossible to meet and maintain, that they do no more than provide an excuse for the crime?

  5. Jennifer Kesler says

    Here’s the grim truth, for all you prevention advocates out there: the only way for a woman to protect herself from rape is to become a paranoid obsessive with lethal skills in hand-to-hand combat, who fears and is suspicious of all men, including those she ought to be able to love and trust, and who never, ever lets down her guard.

    You know, I’m very guarded, suspicious, distrustful, and some would say paranoid in my dealings with all people, men included, and yeah, that is one way to avoid a lot of abuse. Not a guarantee, but probably as close as it gets. So the solution is for all women to be misanthropic?

    I hate to say it but I think you’re right. Consciously or unconsciously, people aren’t giving women advice on avoiding rape; they’re giving them advice on how to be “nice girls” from the 1950’s because they still think nice girls don’t get raped.

    It’s a bit like telling someone who lives on a faultline that they can prevent earthquakes by keeping the house clean, because earthquakes never happen to tidy people. I mean, seriously, it makes exactly that much sense.

  6. Dan says

    Is it weird that I do take conscious measures to prevent strange women from castrating me?

    …I’m a little paranoid.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.