Surfing the Blogosphere, March 24, 2006

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I’ve been enjoying Alas, A Blog lately. Its threads have the sort of incredibly respectful but vigorous debates I hope to get going on this site someday. Any article’s good, but here’s a particularly interesting one on a blogger who feels if she gained weight after having kids, it would be unfair to her husband – a sort of false advertising.

Kameron Hurley writes about how writing comes before men for her. How scandalous. I mean, men have been encouraged to put career first for decades, but how very odd for women to do it. The only career women are supposed to put ahead of their men is children. Here’s a thought: maybe no individual should look toward other people to fulfill him or her. Maybe everyone should have some kind of life quest or passion to take care of their fulfillment needs, and then the people in their lives could just be there for love. What an idea.

The Happy Feminist explains the Debra Lafave rape case better than I can.

Stereotypes about how a young boy should react to sex with an adult woman are the direct result of old-fashioned patriarchal views regarding gender relations….The fact that Lafave is being held responsible to any extent is due to the rise of feminist mores in our culture.

I’ll just add that I’m also bothered by the “lucky boy” mantra I’m hearing in comments ’round the web. The idea seems to be that a boy can’t be raped by an attractive woman. Guess that pairs nicely with the attitude that a sexually active woman can’t be raped by a man, because she likes sex so much. I know statutory rape is slightly different. But so is incest: molestors don’t always physically coerce child victims. Often, they use emotional and mental manipulation to make them capitulate, and the victim thinks he actually wanted the relationship. That’s why we have the laws we have: because fourteen-year-olds are generally no mental/emotional match for adults.

And I wonder how this case would have gone if Lafave was unattractive.

Hugo Schwyzer is proof that God, should He be found to exist, might actually love and appreciate the women He created. Hugo’s a Christian Feminist, and his perspective is well worth reading. Check out his latest entry on how the shame girls once felt about menstruation and masturbation hasn’t died: it’s just morphed into shame about small breasts and pudgy parts. Check out the mention of 20th century Western female genital mutilation, too.

Comments

  1. Glaivester says

    I’m not a big fan of feminism (although I kind of like ifeminism), but I don’t blame it for LaFave or Mary Kay.

    I must confess, though, that the concept of a female rapist fascinates me. As far as I know, I am the only person who has written Law & Order fanfiction focusing on the characters in the episode “Ridicule” (which involved three women who had raepd a male stripper at a bachelorette party).

    Quick thought on the Deb LaFave case: to the extent that there is a double standard here, it’s the gender of the rapist, not the victim, that is the issue. Those people who say “lucky boy” would likely not think the same had the teacher and the victim both been male and likely would also not take it very seriously had both been female.

    Another point that should be made here is that it is theoretically possible to enjoy a rape; that wouldn’t change the fact that it is rape (and I am not talking statutory rape, I mean forcible rape). The issue is not whether or not the victim enjoyed it, it is whether or not he/she consented. Say for example a recovering sx addict were raped; he/she might “enjoy it” the same way that a recovering alcoholic might enjoy being forced to drink so that their addictions were indulged without them being responsible. It doesn’t change the fact that force was used and that what was done was against their will.

    So discusions of arousal or enjoyment rather miss the point.

  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    Quick thought on the Deb LaFave case: to the extent that there is a double standard here, it’s the gender of the rapist, not the victim, that is the issue. Those people who say “lucky boy” would likely not think the same had the teacher and the victim both been male and likely would also not take it very seriously had both been female.

    But they would also take more issue had it been a man with a young girl, and that involves another double-standard: that girls are tarnished by the end of virginity while boys are “lucky” to get some (in which the victim’s gender definitely plays a part). I can’t reduce this mess to just one double standard. Most double standards are like two-sided coins, anyway: flip it over and you find something opposite but equally disturbing.

    Getting back to Lafave, I agree that the victim’s reaction to rape is irrelevant. How traumatized they seem, how little or much they enjoyed it, whether they’d willingly slept with that person before… consent to that specific act of sex is the only factor.

    You may find interesting an article I wrote a while back on the lack of male rape storylines on TV. As the note at the top hopefully clarifies, it is being a bit facetious. I don’t actually want to see more rapes of any kind on TV, but if I’m going to have to endure female rapes on a regular basis, I just wanted to know why I wasn’t getting a proportionate amount of male rape storylines (something like 1 in 10 rape victims is male, but it’s more like 1 in 1,000 on TV).

  3. Glaivester says

    But they would also take more issue had it been a man with a young girl, and that involves another double-standard: that girls are tarnished by the end of virginity while boys are “lucky” to get some (in which the victim’s gender definitely plays a part).

    I’m not certain that a man and a young girl would be considered more serious than a man and a young boy. Nor do I think that a woman and a young girl would be considered more serious than a woman and a young boy. But maybe I ‘m wrong.

    Actually, I have read and commented on that article (I brought up the SG-1 episode “Brief Candle”). It’s a good article.

    (something like 1 in 10 rape victims is male, but it’s more like 1 in 1,000 on TV)

    Well, Law&Order: SVU has a reasonable proportion of male victims (and realistically, most of them are the vicitms of other males).

  4. Jennifer Kesler says

    Interesting. I don’t watch that show. I would be interested to see it reviewed on that basis though, by someone who does.

  5. Jennifer Kesler says

    I also meant to say that if you read The Happy Feminist’s article on Lafave, putting the blockquote I cited in context, she may be saying the same thing you are: that given patriarchal attitudes about how boys should respond to sex, it’s only due to feminism and the concept of equality that this was taken as a serious rape case at all.

    Now, if that’s where you’re saying there’s a double standard, I agree. The failure to take women criminals seriously (sometimes) is an extension of the failure to take women seriously. That’s a double-standard about women.

    But I do feel there’s a double standard about boys and girls and sexuality, too. Because boys are supposed to like sex, some people refuse to believe they could be traumatized by an encounter with a hot teacher. That’s a disservice to boys. It denies the possibility of their feelings, their morals, etc.

    And then there’s the whole double standard about women who are virgins and women who are not. The idea that we shouldn’t take the rape of a sexually active woman as seriously as the rape of a virgin goes back to the ancient paradigm in which girls lost property value if they ceased to be virgins – thus damaging their fathers’ ability to trade them for goods or an alliance. None of which has a thing to do with sex or consent – it’s just inherited thinking that is so woven into the public perception that people accept it without logic-checking it.

  6. Glaivester says

    I think it is reasonable to argue that feminism is responsible for society taking cases like Deb LaFave seriously.

    As to patriarchal attitudes creating a double standard, you may be right. But I think that the attitude creating the double standard is not about how boys react to sex, it is about penetration. That is, that violation comes from penetration. Therefore, men are much more likely to be vilified because men are much more likely to be the penetrators.

    As for the double standard between virgins and sexually active women (I call it the “you-can’t-rape-a-slut” fallacy), I think what the issue is is this:

    Part of the reason why rape is considered so heinous a crime (more heinous, for example, shaking someone’s hand against their will) is that sex is a particularly intimate activity. Therefore, the more casually someone takes sex, the harder it is for a lot of people to see the violation as particularly serious. That is why in modern society, as sex has become more casual, that the sexual aspect of rape is downplayed so much. (For example, we are told that sex is never the motivation of the rapist; the rapist is always motivated by hatred and violence, which to me makes as much as sense as saying that muggings are never motivated by the money).

    I commented on this on my own blog.

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