SlutWalk: Noble but misguided

SlutWalk is coming to Singapore. And I’m not pleased.

My problem with SlutWalk is NOT about its goal to redefine the word ‘slut’, encouraging women to express their sexuality, or even its stance that rape is a crime. Had SlutWalk defined its goals as such, I wouldn’t have slammed it. I might have encouraged it. But SlutWalk perpetuates myths and fallacies about rape and victim-blaming, and I can’t tolerate that.

Things that matter

SlutWalk Singapore x Kuala Lumpur’s Facebook page says that one of its goals is ‘to stop victim-blaming in sexual assault, which is a crime that has nothing to do with what we wear or even sex.’ This reveals a dangerous misunderstanding of sexual assault.

Clothing matters. Rapists prefer women who wear clothes that are easy to remove. Rapists want to do the deed as quickly as possible, to minimise risk to themselves. The more time they spend removing clothes, the more time the victim has to defend herself and call attention to the rape-in-progress. Rapists aren’t necessarily turned on by scantily clad targets – but they will prefer targets who are easier to attack.

Sex matters. Most rapists are men who target women. Therefore, women are more at risk than men.

Such a statement betrays a shallow understanding of rape, and it shows again and again in SlutWalk’s statements and activities.

Rapists don’t care

SlutWalk says ‘We need to teach “DO NOT RAPE” instead of “do not get raped”.’ This is admirable. But SlutWalk is going the wrong way. SlutWalk’s main vehicle is a protest march, largely by young women. Members also conduct workshops, fora and meetings. This approach will not work.

A protest march is a public expression of group opinion – but rapists don’t care. They don’t see themselves as part of society. (More on that below.) Protests can’t pressure someone who won’t feel it.

Workshops, fora and meetings attract people who have a stake in the topic. Rapists do not. They won’t show up. They may know someone who attended such a workshop – so they’ll just take her and her friends off their target list, if they care. Or put them on the list, if they care that much. (Again, more below.)

Profile of Rape

SlutWalk’s fundamental problem is its ignorance of rape and rapists.

A complete dissertation on sexual assault is beyond the scope of this blog. I recommend reading this page, all the links on the main article, AND all the links on each sub-page for an overview on rape. Especially this. At the risk of oversimplification, though, there are two kinds of rapists: predatory and social.

A predatory rapist is the stereotype of a rapist. He’s portrayed jumping out of a dark corner and ambushing helpless young women. Such a person is probably antisocial – he doesn’t care about, and violates, the rights of others. There are differing estimates on the rapes caused by predatory rapists. Marc MacYoung suggests multiple figures, none of them exceeding 15%. Statistically speaking, a woman is less likely to be attacked by a predatory rapist.

Which means she is more likely to be attacked by a social rapist. A social rapist is someone known to the victim. He’s an abusive, self-centred, angry, and violent bully known to the victim. He’s an acquaintance, a friend, a lover, a husband, or a relative. The degree of probability decreases with each level of intimacy. But the amount of effort needed to recognise the threat increases. So is the effort needed to deal with them. It’s easy to close an eye or justify the same behaviour we would condemn in a complete stranger in order to keep the peace and maintain the relationship. Modern women are socially trained to smooth things over in times of interpersonal conflict. It’s not wrong, but social rapists abuse that mechanism to get away with their behaviour.

A predatory rapist isn’t moved by popular outrage. He doesn’t even see himself as part of society. A social rapist doesn’t care…and may turn on ‘his’ woman if he learns she took part in something like SlutWalk. It’s not rape to him; he’s just putting her in his place.

Victim blaming?

The heart of SlutWalk’s stance on rape is its attack on ‘victim-blaming’. SlutWalk believes that society pins all the ‘blame’ of a rape on the victim instead of the rapist. On the surface, this is only logical. A rapist committed a rape, therefore the rapist is to blame. But this is a shallow way of looking at rape – the rape probably occurred because the victim didn’t look after herself.

Predatory rapists like to ambush their targets. The key word is ambush. They wait in dark, secluded areas, and assess everybody who walk by. As soon as they see a target, they strike. Predators can be avoided by going where they can’t hide and not provoking an attack. Personal safety is beyond the scope of this blog, but for more information, there are plenty of books and websites available. I favour Marc MacYoung, Gavin De Becker, and Rory Miller. While geared towards an American audience, much of what they say applies across cultures and borders. More importantly, they make sense, and their tactics work.

Social rapists are people you interact with. To avoid being raped by them, cut them out of your life, and spread the word about them. The closer they are to you, the more difficult it is to do it. It is more difficult to ditch an acquaintance than a boss, coworker, or spouse. But cutting off potential threats in your innermost social circles is always preferable to the trauma of sexual violence, or having to inflict violence to prevent it. Preserving your health, mental, emotional and physical, outweighs the costs of removing threats. Further, potential rapists tend to fit a profile: if you know what to look for, you can take appropriate measures. They’re not that difficult to spot; they tend to be misogynistic bullies or slick charmers.

Most rapes occur because a woman took a risk, and got burned. She took a risk by walking down a dark alley, by ignoring the three young men lined up against a wall, by leaving a charming handsome stranger alone with her drink, by continuing to live with her abusive husband, and she paid the price. But these are avoidable risks. Most crimes occur this way. It’s controllable, even eliminated in some cases.

I advocate personal responsibility. It is NOT mutually exclusive with putting an end to victim blaming. But SlutWalk’s strident call to end victim blaming is fundamentally flawed: victim-blaming, or lack of it, occurs AFTER the rape has occurred. It’s a Band-aid on an open wound. I’d rather prevent the rape from happening, and that means looking after yourself.

By learning how to stay safe, and putting these theories into practice, anybody can avoid most, if not all, kinds of crime. Including and especially rape. SlutWalk doesn’t recognise that personal safety is a personal responsibility. The victim didn’t encourage someone to attack her, but she brought herself into the circumstances that allowed someone to attack her.

Sense, not just passion

SlutWalk’s focus on rape has more passion than reason. It repeats the tired slogans of ending victim-blaming without understanding criminal behaviour and personal safety. Instead of teaching women to take care of themselves, SlutWalk chose to send a message that rapists will not acknowledge. Instead of understanding rape, SlutWalk perpetuated anti-victim-blaming. Instead of standing for personal safety, it stands against rape.

SlutWalk is clearly founded on passion. But passion is not enough. Its mission statement is a collection of feel-good statements, not an attempt to address reality. Its activities call for solidarity among fellow believers instead of addressing potential and actual rapists.  As an anti-rape platform, SlutWalk is doomed.

SlutWalk: Noble but misguided

53 thoughts on “SlutWalk: Noble but misguided

  1. Hmmm… the way I see it, SlutWalk is not actually targeted at telling the rapists not to rape – that’s pretty much a lost cause, because as you say, rapists don’t really care. I think SlutWalk is more about the attitude society takes towards victims of rape, and to say that victim-blaming is not okay.

    It is true that rapists would probably target women who are wearing clothes that are easier to rip off, but that is different from saying or suggesting that the woman was “asking for it” by wearing what she was wearing. No matter what, rape is wrong and we should not be shifting blame on to the victims.

    I agree that it is important to teach women about personal safety and how to protect themselves, but I think SlutWalk is more of an expression of support for victims of rape and a stand against the victim-blaming. It would be naive to assume that SlutWalk is going to end rape, much like how it would be naive to assume that Pink Dot is going to end discrimination of LGBT in Singapore in law and in society.

    But sometimes things don’t have to have direct and complete ends such as the ending of crime or discrimination to be important. Sometimes the show of support is just as important, because it shows people (especially the victims) that we care and that we are here to support them. And although there might not be any direct legal or social end/impact, it is just as important because sometimes people just need to know that they’re not alone. Sometimes human connection is what people need for that boost to help them keep holding on and fighting.

    1. That’s a fair way of looking at it. I’ve never been much for large gatherings and expression of support like this, though. It just means less to me than other concepts.

      I’ve been exploring the field of personal defence for a while. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that there’s a lot of grey. The phrase ‘victim blaming’, for instance, means a lot of things. On the surface, it means saying that the victim is responsible for what happened to her. It looks unfair. But it’s also easy to use this to drown out people trying to teach women how to look after themselves, claiming that this underscores a culture of victim blaming. I’ve known a few people who’ve experienced just that.

      I guess my big problem with SlutWalk is its presentation. It presents a simplistic answer to a very complex situation, without showing any kind of understanding of rape beyond superficial feminist theory. I don’t have a problem with its attempts to express support. But I do have issues with people and organisations dumbing down complex issues instead of grappling with them.

      In fact, if SlutWalk had changed its mission statement to something like a more direct expression of support for rape victims, instead of its current mode that tries to provide an answer to the problem of rape, I’d be fine with it.

      1. I disagree that something like SlutWalk which stands (or walks) against victim-blaming is actually drowning out responsibility, cautiousness and personal safety. I don’t see them as mutually exclusive concepts at all. Saying that it is not okay to blame the victim for a rape does not mean telling women that they don’t have to be aware of their surroundings and take steps to protect themselves. You can still advocate personal safety and awareness while taking a clear stance against victim-blaming.

        I think this piece puts it better than I can: https://www.facebook.com/notes/desir%C3%A9e-lim/a-critique-of-slutwalk-singapore-try-again/10150219878858774

        “A woman who does – or fails to – do x is in no danger of rape if men do not choose to rape. If we blame the victim and not the rapist, we are assuming that rapists, like storms, are an uncontrollable constant we should accept as a fact of life. Men rape. That is normal. They can’t help it. If we believed this, I seriously think it would be a huge insult to men in general.”

        So we can still continue to teach women to take care of themselves and take precautions, but just because they might have failed in taking these precautions or been aware of the possible dangers of their surroundings does not mean that “most rapes occur because a woman took a risk, and got burned.” Yes, she might have taken a risk, but it doesn’t mean it’s her fault that she got raped.

      2. I think you should read the meaning of SlutWalk beyond.

        From the society point of view, slutwalk promotes women social status in the society. And strive to improve the general condition of the women in workplace or any public space.

        Women suffer inequality due to the way they wear, behave and speak in the society. And they are judge according to traditional notion of “proper lady” in the particular society.

        In Meddle East, women are not to reveal any part of the body except EYES. If so they are perceive an act as “seducing the men”.

        In India, the meaning of marriage to an woman, equal to the ritual of become “slave” or “working machine” to the man. Most importantly, they lost their right as a human.

        In Singapore, due to the “Kia Shu” culture, men dare not put up an act to abuse the women, but verbally abuse women by calling them Slut, prostitute or bitch should they not to behave in the way the men desire. e.g. women perform better in workplace. Or any women that cheat they will label them in that way.

        In the surface, the protest seem simple, but it goes beyond. And is the 1st public protest that use the idea of “sexuality”, promote equality of the women in the society.

        1. LH,

          I don’t actually have a problem with movements designed to promote social equality. As noted in my blog post, my concerns about SlutWalk comes from a self-defence perspective. Not a social justice one. Had I issues with SlutWalk on that front, I would have mentioned it too. Please re-read the second paragraph.

          As for what you said about Singaporean men, I disagree. It’s not limited to Singapore. It happens pretty much everywhere, perpetrated by men who don’t have the conviction to physically lash out at women.

          And, no, SlutWalk not the first public protest that uses sexuality as a platform.

  2. “Personal safety is a personal responsibility.” If you, the author of this post, go through your daily life in Singapore fairly certain that you will not be the target of a random assault, and do not take undue measures to protect yourself, you are clearly not applying your own dictum, or at the very least you are taking for granted the formal and informal societal sanctions that keep you relatively safe. You expect not to be randomly assaulted because structures and expectations are in place that help inhibit that—a legitimate legal framework and law enforcement agency, and norms generally frown upon violence.

    In fact, you demonstrate an intuitive grasp of the power of social pressure and norms:

    “It’s easy to close an eye or justify the same behaviour we would condemn in a complete stranger in order to keep the peace and maintain the relationship. Modern women are socially trained to smooth things over in times of interpersonal conflict. It’s not wrong, but social rapists abuse that mechanism to get away with their behaviour.”

    So if you spelled out so explicitly that a “social rapist” exploits the way women are expected to behave, on what grounds did you conclude that the far better solution is for women to be more conscientious in adhering to the same norms that constrain them; than an earnest attempt to interrogate and change those norms, so that it becomes not-okay for “social rapists” to “abuse that mechanism”?

    You also say that “Rapists aren’t necessarily turned on by scantily clad targets – but they will prefer targets who are easier to attack.” This is entirely true, but vulnerability has much less to do with clothing than power—either situational or systemic. How do you explain the sexual assault of women in Burqas and Tudungs? Were they wearing them wrongly? Are there any non-arbitrary grounds on which we should allocate one set of sartorial standards to one community and not another?

    And finally, when you lament of Slutwalk that “it stands against rape”—why is that bad?

  3. Tiffany,

    Violent crimes are almost always ambushes of some kind. If the bad guy thinks you know he’s there, and thinks you know how to handle him, he’ll withdraw. Most bad guys won’t go after someone who expects an attack coming – at least, not bad guys who want to make a career out of it. I apply the same tactics and rules and precautions I write about in my self-defence posts all the time. I openly display tactical awareness to discourage attackers…and to get a headstart when they come.

    When, not if. I don’t talk about my brushes with criminals here – but I’ve put these tactics into practice and they work.

    Your talk about power structures doesn’t reflect reality. When you’re faced with an enraged knife-wielding psychopath, the police are minutes away, and your probable death is seconds away. Not unless you know how to handle him: escape, negotiate, or confront. And these tools require practice. When you’re facing down a knife, power structures and similar considerations no longer matter. Everybody involved has gone way past the point when such things are relevant to their thinking.

    Social norms frown upon violence. But it doesn’t apply everywhere. Criminal subculture encourages the use of violence. Organised crime uses violence and threats of violence to enforce payments and ensure members stay in line. Gangsters use violence to defend territory, defend egos, take goods, and as a team-building exercise. Psychopaths, in the medical sense of the term, may not understand why violence against humans is frowned on. These subcultures do not respect social norms. And members of these subcultures are more likely to use violence effectively against you than ordinary people.

    You put words in my mouth. I did not say that women have to “be more conscientious in adhering to the same norms that constrain them”. I did not say it’s okay for rapists to abuse social norms; I was describing how they take advantage of women and social norms.

    You’re applying the logic of trolls with regards to burqas and tudungs. I said rapists ‘will prefer’ targets wearing easy-to-remove clothes. I did not say rapists ‘will definitely attack’ such people. A rapist, for example, may have a fetish for such clothing. Or maybe he decides a certain woman looks vulnerable and attacks her, even though she’s wearing a burqa or a tudung. As I said, clothing is one factor of many on a rapist’s checklist.

    Further, I was describing criminal violence against individuals. You’re hinting at violence designed to oppress women in the context of a culture and nation that tolerates or encourages such behaviour. I’m talking about general terms. You’re taking specific examples and trying to generalise them. It’s like a lifelong virgin claiming to know everything about sex because he’s an avid consumer of pornography.

    I didn’t have any issues with SlutWalk standing against rape. I had issues with SlutWalk’s simplistic approach to its anti-rape stance. Read my last comment:

    ‘I guess my big problem with SlutWalk is its presentation. It presents a simplistic answer to a very complex situation, without showing any kind of understanding of rape beyond superficial feminist theory. I don’t have a problem with its attempts to express support. But I do have issues with people and organisations dumbing down complex issues instead of grappling with them.’

    1. You claim: “Further, potential rapists tend to fit a profile: if you know what to look for, you can take appropriate measures. They’re not that difficult to spot; they tend to be misogynistic bullies or slick charmers.”

      And your evidence is. . . what, exactly?

      1. Click the link on the word ‘profile’. It’ll take you to the website of a man who spent his life dealing with threats, including rapists.

      2. A self-defence coach is not an authority. He cites no study, nor does he even provide much anecdotal evidence for the claim that you can spot most rapists beforehand. Try harder.

        1. So, a man who grew up with street gangs, spent most of his working life on both sides of the law dealing with criminals, and is now a world expert in his field, is ‘not an authority’? Granted, he doesn’t provide anecdotal evidence in this article, but that’s because he only uses anecdotes as examples elsewhere on the site. Much of what he writes are personal observations based on his experiences. And my experiences repeatedly correlate with his observations.

          And did you see the footnote, where he indirectly cites Dr Stanton E. Samenow’s ‘Inside the Criminal Mind’ and ‘The Myth of the Out of Character Crime’?

          Try harder.

      3. Even if he were an authority on street crime, that wouldn’t make him an authority on rape, the vast majority of which (as he himself acknowledges) is not perpetrated by strangers in public, but in private by people the victim knows. Where does his expertise in *this* area come from? He doesn’t say.

        Have you read the books “indirectly cited”? Or do you take it on faith that they support this fellow’s–and your–claims because it would be convenient for them to do so? A quick google suggests that Dr. Samenow’s thesis is not that it’s *easy* to spot future criminals, only that it is possible (a claim I will leave untroubled for now). You say that it’s as simple as looking out for “misogynistic bullies” and “slick charmers” (as if these were easily defined categories!), yet I doubt Samenow would agree with you on that count, seeing as how he’s found the matter sufficiently complex to write a 200+ page book on it.

        1. You raise good points, Nicholas. These are things I’ve been wondering about in private. Coincidentally, I’ve just e-mailed Marc and referred him to this post. If/When he replies, I’ll be sure to point him towards you so he can speak for himself.

          For all that, though – the idea is more important than the man. Even if Marc MacYoung has lied about his past, and even if he provides no sources, it doesn’t necessarily mean that what he writes is automatically wrong. MacYoung’s high profile in America means that there are thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of people who have read his writings and take his advice. If his advice doesn’t work out, people get hurt or killed. If the police and soldiers and high-profile civilians he teaches disagree with his concepts, they’ll make noise – or they get hurt or killed by bad practices. Information about that kind of stuff filters out into the martial arts discussion groups and newsletters and magazines that make or break the reputations of experts like MacYoung.

          And MacYoung’s advice works. All around the world. Everything on martial arts to self defence to rape to combat is circulated amongst a lot of people, and they agree that his ideas work. Having successfully applied his mindsets and tactics to avoid and defuse conflict, I have to agree.

        1. Nicholas, I’m sensing that you’re trying to get at something with this approach. What are you trying to argue here?

      4. The same point I was making before (which you acknowledged, but the implications of which you continue to ignore). To put it bluntly, however knowledgeable these people (and you) are about the areas in which they are experienced, you have yet to show any evidence that they (or you) are actually qualified to speak on the prevention of rape by one’s own family and friends.

        1. By asking for evidence, you’re telling me you have some kind of standard of proof in mind. Tell me your standard.

      5. Let me be clear: I am not interested in “qualifications” per se. I question them only because your defence seems to consist entirely of appealing to the supposed expertise of the people you’re citing. I would be even happier to set the question of authority and expertise aside and deal directly with the relationship between your claims and your evidence. You seem inclined to give *that* discussion as wide a berth as possible–why, I wonder?

        1. My defence? No. Your attack is predicated entirely on questioning the expertise of my sources, and the relationship between my ‘claims’ – which are nothing more than ideas from the people I’ve cited – and evidence. I was just addressing your criticism. Now, you asked for expertise and evidence. Therefore, you have a standard for both in mind. Tell me your standard.

      6. As the person putting forward a claim, the onus to present evidence and demonstrate how that evidence supports your claim falls on you. We can talk about why I do or do not find your evidence and standards satisfactory after. Right now, you’ve offered *zero evidence* of any kind, only claims.

      7. “Your attack is predicated entirely on questioning the expertise of my sources, and the relationship between my ‘claims’ – which are nothing more than ideas from the people I’ve cited – and evidence.”

        What would you have an “attack” consist of if not criticism of evidence provided and its relationship to claims made? This is the very definition of debate. Demanding proof of expertise, too, is par for the course when the other party insists on parroting that alleged expertise in lieu of making actual arguments.

        As for “Nothing more than ideas”, pfshaw. You said:

        “A rapist committed a rape, therefore the rapist is to blame. But this is a shallow way of looking at rape – the rape probably occurred because the victim didn’t look after herself.”

        and

        “Further, potential rapists tend to fit a profile: if you know what to look for, you can take appropriate measures. They’re not that difficult to spot; they tend to be misogynistic bullies or slick charmers.”

        and

        “Most rapes occur because a woman took a risk, and got burned.”

        and

        “By learning how to stay safe, and putting these theories into practice, anybody can avoid most, if not all, kinds of crime. Including and especially rape.”

        None of these are “just ideas”. They are, by definition, claims about the world–falsifiable, testable claims. In a rational discussion, claims require proof. Proof consists of data plus analysis. You have not offered either. Why?

        Give me what *you* consider to be proof first. Then we can speak of whether it suffices.

        1. I’m done monkey dancing. I’m going to do what I should have done so many days ago.

          You keep demanding evidence and expertise, and said we’ll discuss them after I’ve provided them. I’ve already provided a measure of evidence: hundreds of thousands of people use MacYoung’s advice to keep themselves safe – and there is no significant real-world criticism of his advice. That is, very few people, if at all, compared his advice to the real world, and found the former wanting. If you want more: billions of people around the world live their lives without being attacked, because they employ strategies similar to what MacYoung proposes. This is data. Now, analysis. The strategies are designed to keep people safe. A lot of people are safe. Therefore, they work. Before you declare argument from ignorance – we’re talking about a strategies that, if they work, lead to no evidence of success. That is, they work because their practitioners manage to avoid being targeted. They do this by not going where bad guys are, by presenting themselves in ways that cause bad guys to think they are hard targets and so leave them alone, and by not engaging in the kind of behaviours that lead to violence. The entirety of everything I have written is proven by a lack of people being attacked – and clearly, more people around the world are safe than those who have been attacked.

          I mentioned MacYoung, Miller and De Becker. What you see in the blog is condensed from everything they wrote. These three men have close to a century of experience in the field of self defence – the first man founded the field, the second spent seventeen years as a corrections officer, and the third is the head of a firm that gives personal protection advice to lawmakers and law enforcers (among other things). Each man is a world expert in his right. I keep bringing these men up because the techniques I wrote above came from them.

          Notice I said ‘self defence’. Not ‘street crime’. Self defence is the intersection between crime, psychology, physiology, law, culture, politics, martial arts, strategy, and sociology – at the least. This includes rape. Now, you said MacYoung isn’t necessarily an expert in rape. I’ve gone through his biography and pieced together what he told me personally – since you didn’t do it yourself despite the link I gave you. MacYoung spent most of his life interacting with every kind of criminal in the United States – from conmen to drug dealers to hitmen. When he started teaching people, he interacted with victims of such people – who include rape victims. That’s in addition to his personal research. And, as I said above – his advice works because hundreds of thousands, or maybe even millions, of people don’t get raped.

          This is why I keep asking you for your standards of proof. You insist on dismissing what I present you, and insist on saying that I have given you no evidence.

          Now I’m going to go one step beyond and point a few things out.

          You said earlier ‘A self-defence coach is no authority’. You’re actually saying that a self-defence expert – one of the founders of the modern self defence, in fact – is not an authority on self defence. It’s akin to saying that Albert Einstein isn’t qualifed to teach the general theory of relativity – the theory he published. Further, you dance around the fact that I keep saying that people all around the world use his advice to survive, and you asked me if I have actually used said advice before. What you’ve done is to ignore the standards of proof I have established, ignore everything I have told you, and keep pressing for ever-higher, ever-shifting, standards of proof – standards you have not articulated, standards that seem impossible. And you already express discontent with existing standards – standards that place international experts as the minimum level of expertise, and standards that meet the only possible kind of evidence available.

          You attacked MacYoung’s seeming lack of expertise of rape. Understand this: MacYoung spent half his life as what polite society will call a career criminal. He met and interacted with virtually every kind of criminal out there, from conmen to robbers to rapists to hitmen. When he went straight, he spent the next half maintaining security, managing prisoners in jail, and teaching people. He got to meet with these kinds of criminals all over again. He also interacted with victims of crime: people who were ripped off, women in abusive marriages, and rape victims. Along the way, he educated himself on the nature of violence and related issues – to the point where he went and founded the field of self defence. If you’ve actually read his biography, and his addendum to the biography, you’d have pieced all this together.

          This is data. Now analysis. MacYoung has trained police officers. Before anybody is allowed to do that, the police department would run a background check on him to see if he actually what he’s talking about. He says he spent close to two decades on the streets of LA, so the police would run an even more extensive background check – both to establish his credentials and to see if he has any outstanding warrants. Especially the members of the Los Angeles Police Department. He passed these checks, and police departments continue to invite him to train their personnel. This means his background checks out. And in America, a man can’t claim he used to run with gang bangers and claim he had a street name unless he means it. Bad guys will check him out too, to see if there were a guy called ‘Animal’ in the 70s and 80s. If there weren’t, they’ll call him out on that. With bullets. Lots of bullets. Gang culture does not tolerate posers and liars for long – gangsters have a reputation to protect.

          In your previous comment, you’re quote mining and twisting words around. You said, “What would you have an “attack” consist of if not criticism of evidence provided and its relationship to claims made? This is the very definition of debate. Demanding proof of expertise, too, is par for the course when the other party insists on parroting that alleged expertise in lieu of making actual arguments.” in response to “Your attack is predicated entirely on questioning the expertise of my sources, and the relationship between my ‘claims’ – which are nothing more than ideas from the people I’ve cited – and evidence.” I was pointing out that I talk about the expertise of my sources because you questioned them first. Then I brought up the fact that large numbers of people are not raped, robbed or killed every day, which you ignored. Instead you focus on expertise and ever-vague standards of proof that exist in your head – and you claim that I have provided neither data nor analysis. When I called you out on that, you fell back to talking about the nature of a debate.

          You show a more than passing familiarity with debate and rhetoric. I’ve sat in on debates when standards of proof made and broke entire cases. I’ve personally seen an opposition debate team collapse after the proposition set a standard of proof higher than what the opposition can provide – the proposition wanted case studies and data, the opposition could only provide hypothetical examples and anecdotes. The judges felt that the former had more credibility, after they kept pointing out the latter’s failure to meet the standard. A really good debater, one who can quote the rules of argument and debate, would salivate at the chance to define these standards. You, on the other hand, have repeatedly refused my offers to allow you to do that, and dance around them using the rules of argument and debate. This is telling. Given your performance above, this tells me you don’t want to be locked into a standard of proof you can’t wiggle your way out of when met with inconvenient facts.

          You might have noticed that I did not publish one of your comments. Specifically, your reply to Syahidah. That comment was deleted. It was heavy with sarcasm and contributed nothing to the discussion. It’s the kind of thing a flamer would do. I would overlooked this, but I can’t now. Human behaviour occurs in clusters, and the cluster of behaviours I see is telling.

          You ignore the evidence I set out to you, and you criticise the expertise of the people I have cited by warping definitions to your perspective instead of talking about the nature and implications of their qualifications and employment history. You fail to address my standard of proof, you dismiss everything I have said, and you refuse to give me your standards of proof despite repeated invitations. Then you mined a sentence from my previous comment and twist it by talking about the behaviour of debate instead of acknowledging it for what it was. And, your reply to Syahidah was full of sarcasm without adding any value to the discussion.

          Your behaviour tells me you’re not here on good faith. You are wrapping the mantle of debate around yourself and are using reason as a club to beat a man over the head because you don’t agree with him. You call on the rules of rhetoric, but you don’t stick to them. You met my evidence and sources by saying the former is nonexistent and the latter inadequate. But you have provided no standards of proof yourself, and you dance around the issue every time I tell you to provide yours. All this tells me that you’re just here to stroke your ego in public by flaming a stranger who doesn’t agree with you.

          I’ve sunk enough time and energy into this monkey dance. Between the two of us, only one person is interested in prolonging this conversation, and it isn’t me. Prove to me that you are here to discuss this issue. Prove to me that you can meet the standards of debate you espouse. Prove to me that you are here on good faith. Prove to me you are not a flamer. Otherwise, this conversation is over.

  4. “As an anti-rape platform, SlutWalk is doomed.”

    “… when you lament of Slutwalk that “it stands against rape”—why is that bad?”

    “SlutWalk Singapore x Kuala Lumpur’s Facebook page says that one of its goals is ‘to stop victim-blaming in sexual assault, which is a crime that has nothing to do with what we wear or even sex.’”

    Because it is apparently not an anti-rape campaign as one of its goals (and the only one quoted here) on its Facebook page says.
    Btw, I do agree with this “… I do have issues with people and organisations dumbing down complex issues instead of grappling with them.” Just not the bit about SlutWalk being seen as an anti-rape platform.

    Cheers.

  5. Kirsten,

    I did say an end to victim blaming and advocating personal responsibility were mutually exclusive. I’ve edited my post to reflect that.

    I was, however, pointing out that SlutWalk – and, for that matter, a lot of people – don’t seem to get the concept of personal responsibility. They focus so much on anti-victim-blaming, personal safety tactics get drowned out or ignored.And in my experience, at least, the latter prevents more rapes, and crime, than the former.

    1. I suppose it would come down to a matter of issues within the issue itself. We have to be aware of limitations of particular campaign activities as well. As an event SlutWalk has chosen to focus on standing against victim-blaming, and that’s what it does. It might not solve the problem but as I said above, it’s probably more about support for victims as well as a public demonstration that victim-blaming cannot and should not be condoned.

      To criticise SlutWalk for being ineffectual or harmful or pointless would suggest an assumption that SlutWalk ALONE is supposed to solve the problem and end rapes. But the truth is that SlutWalk is only ONE ASPECT of the whole thing – there will be other groups out there teaching self-defense and personal safety and teaching women how best to keep themselves safe. All these functioning together are what helps bring us forward; we cannot expect SlutWalk alone to do it all.

      1. I don’t do expect SlutWalk to do everything. But I do expect SlutWalk to propose ideas and do things that work within its scope of activities. In my experience and research, and those of my contacts, what SlutWalk is proposing cannot and does not work, and that’s why I’m so worked up about this.

        Exploration on self-defence and personal safety in Singapore is extremely limited. Most, if not all, self defence and personal safety teachers just talk about awareness and teach basic martial arts techniques. REAL self defence encompasses criminal psychology, group dynamics, psychology, physiology, legal aspects, police responses and attitudes, the criminal subcultures in a particular country or city, negotiation, tactics…and that’s just scratching the surface. I haven’t seen anybody who can merge all these different disciplines in Singapore and present a coherent and holistic paradigm towards self-defence. And I haven’t seen anybody who can back their theories with actual research in this field. SlutWalk alone can’t do it all…but when men like Rory Miller, Marc MacYoung, Gavin De Becker and others are teaching women how to be safe and denying criminals targets, it makes me wonder why people or organisations can’t do it here.

  6. Been reading this discussion thread and I must say it’s been rather interesting.

    My main concerns with this blog post is its pathologizing of rape and the focus on rapists vs. the culture we live in and its effects. SlutWalk focuses on a CULTURE where both men and women assume that sexual violence is a fact of life, inevitable like death. SlutWalk is trying to challenge the way we think about rape., specifically how it is common-place to blame rape survivors (note I don’t use the word victim here) for what has happened to them. Unfortunately, this blog post has at several instances seem to support victim-blaming.

    It is a fine line that activists against sexual assault issues have to work with – on one hand, we have to educate women about the importance of self-defence and on the other, champion the cause of anti-rape education. It is a difficult line to walk. In a culture where girls as young as 4 or 5 are already taught to avoid dark alleys, to avoid strange men, to constantly be vigilant of how they walk, talk, dress, act around men – it is damn near impossible to imagine young boys could/should be taught the same things. Don’t wear that miniskirt/jeans/perfume/lip color because you might get raped. Don’t wear heels because you might not be able to run away. What kind of messed-up ‘logic’ is that? I personally don’t walk into a store and choose clothes according to their anti-rape effectiveness factor. As you say, ‘clothing matters’, yes, but to adhere to every bit of anti-rape advice you’ve ever heard, a woman would have to wear clothing with lots of buckles, lots of belts, buttons, running shoes 24/7, no perfume, no makeup, no handbag (they slow you down right?) to be the safest she can possibly be. Men don’t worry about these things when they get dressed do they? Your argument of ‘clothing matters’ reminds me of judges’ rulings in Australia in May 2010, in Seoul in 2008, in Italy 2008 where men were acquitted of rape on the basis that the women they raped were wearing skinny jeans which were difficult to take off and therefore, it must have been consensual sex if she helped him take her jeans off. Are we seriously going to ignore that a rape has occurred because of what a woman chose to wear that morning? I guess we are, we can and we have. How can we say we live in a world where men and women are equal now when women can’t even wear the clothes they want to wear, walk where they want to walk, talk or act the way they want to for fear of being raped? And that if she is raped, it is her fault because her clothes were easy to remove, she didn’t know enough self-defence or that she didn’t look after herself? (all points in your blog post that suggest you subscribe to some kind of victim-blaming).

    Again, it is a fine line that activists against sexual assault have to walk. You’re right in that personal safety is important but it is not JUST a personal responsibility. The society we live in is built around protecting some and not protecting others. It protects the rich, not the poor. It protects men, not women. It protects majority races, not minority races. Simplistic, binary logic (which I’m usually against) but in most cases, true. One look at sexual assault statistics and you know something is wrong with how society is structured when majority of the survivors are of one gender and majority of perpetrators are of another gender.

    This blog post is severely limiting in its addressing of issues around sexual assault. It reduces rape to a pathological, criminalized, sociopathic mind. Are popular fraternity boys who get drunk and rape the girl they’re with considered sociopathic? Pathologizing rape convieniently helps us ignore the bigger picture – that we live in a society that condones, ignores, belittles and makes excuses for rape. Maybe we seek comfort in thinking that if we know what the enemy is – crazy bad guy who ambushes you or drunk, abusive lover/husband – we might be able to eradicate the problem. But that is a false comfort. The enemy is not one person or a group of individuals. The enemy is our way of thinking about men, our way of thinking about women and our way of thinking about men’s violence against women.

    1. Syahidah,

      For some reason, my original reply got lost in cyberspace. So I’m replying to you now.

      You said, “SlutWalk focuses on a CULTURE where both men and women assume that sexual violence is a fact of life, inevitable like death. SlutWalk is trying to challenge the way we think about rape., specifically how it is common-place to blame rape survivors (note I don’t use the word victim here) for what has happened to them. Unfortunately, this blog post has at several instances seem to support victim-blaming.”

      Sexual violence exists. But by saying there’s a ‘culture’, you imply that there is a society that approves of sexual violence, that codifies and encourages it as a way of living. Where, exactly, do you find proof that this exists.

      It’s not ‘commonplace’ to blame rape victims for what happened to them. Notice that there’s a groundswell of disapproval for rape whenever one is reported. People who say the victim had it coming are almost always in the minority, when seen against the rest of the world.

      MY BLOG IS NOT ABOUT BLAMING THE VICTIM. It’s about personal responsibility. Please read the Blame Dialogues for further clarification.

      My essential stance is, if you do something, then you must accept the consequences. I didn’t say women shouldn’t wear whatever they want to wear, I only said they become more of a target. Which, by the way, can be negated through awareness and avoidance. If she’s raped, the first thing anybody ought to do is to examine the circumstances in which it happened, and understand all the relevant factors before making any kind of decision.

      As for blame, blame is based on subjective, internal, standards that can be subject to shifting emotions or whims. I say ‘responsibility’, because there are external standards of behaviour to meet.

      As for your point about society, prove it. Bear in mind, most criminals – robbers, rapists, killers – are men. Men who target people they believe are weaker than them.

      This is a blog post, by the way. Not a doctoral thesis – which it should be if it wanted to cover rape in its entirety. I talk about mindset because it is mindset that enables violence against others. For your point about society, again, prove that society “condones, ignores, belittles and makes excuses for rape.” Such a society would not report rape, would insult victims and deem it normal, would see no problem with rape, would have a police force that would not chase rapists, and a court that would not send them to jail. In fact, such a society wouldn’t even criminalise rape. This does not happen almost everywhere in the world. As for those places that do – their leaders won’t allow SlutWalk, or feminists, to incite anything within their borders.

      1. What freakin’ world do you live in where sexual assault victims aren’t regularly blamed for their rapes? I mean, that is the whole POINT of SlutWalk–that sexual assault survivors are OFTEN blamed for their rapes! “You shouldn’t have worn this, you shouldn’t have gone there, you shouldn’t have drank that,” and on and on and on.

        You have thousands of words, and you have justifications upon justifications, but really? This post and your defenses of it are just one big argument in favor of victim-blaming. I know you deny it, but it’s true.

        Also? The VAST MAJORITY of sexual assaults are assaults committed by people known to the assault survivor. Actual research (by academics who specialize in this area of research, published in peer-reviewed journals–not some self-promoting self-defense guru) has well established this. So this hyper-focus on stranger assaults–a very uncommon sexual assault–is baffling and really makes me question WHY you’re so hyper-focused on it.

        1. Anony Mouse,

          In this blog, you are required to use evidence and logic to back up your case. If you use personal attacks and scream at me, you will be ignored, deleted, and banned. This is your only warning.

          You need to prove that sexual assault victims are regularly blamed for their attacks. Quote studies, books, that kind of evidence. Over here where I live, the only people who play the victim blaming game are defence lawyers and loudmouths. For the latter, think people who adopt your tone and writing style to bash the victims. The police, press, courts, and blogosphere don’t blame the victim here. It’s up to you to prove your statement.

          Prove that this blog post is ‘one big argument in favour of victim-blaming’. Use logic and arguments.

          You said I’m hyper-focused on stranger assaults. Prove it. I actually wrote that a woman is more likely to be attacked by someone she knows than a complete stranger. I gave roughly equal air time to both predatory and social rapes because they are somewhat different phenomena that require different strategies to address.

  7. I don’t think SlutWalk is trying to absolve the responsibility of girls – or rape victims – to take care of themselves. I agree perfectly that girls need to take care of themselves. But the problem with rape – and perhaps this is a larger problem elsewhere, such as the States, than here in Singapore – is that a lot of people think that just because a girl got raped, she necessarily ‘asked for it’, either by her behaviour or her dressing.

    In a lot of cases, this is not the case. Social rapists, which you mentioned in your post, are a good example of this. The rapists see their victims in everyday situations, not in hyper-sexualised ones or dangerous, isolated ones like back-alleys. The victim doesn’t expect to be raped. On that note I find your advice to ‘cut these people out of your life’ perfectly ludicrous. How do you tell, before the rapist rapes his victim, that he is a potential rapist? What does he do to set off the warning bells in girls’ heads, so that they can ‘cut him out’ of their lives? The truth is that they don’t. These people are cousins, husbands, fathers, colleagues, random lab workers whom you have nothing to do with except for the fact that you say hi to them in the mornings (which was the case on a college campus in the U.S.; a researcher in a science lab went missing, and a lab worker was found to have raped and murdered her. They barely knew each other in any ‘proper’ sense. I can’t remember specific details like names, but I can try searching a little harder.)

    And then there are those who don’t do anything at all to be raped, and still are. (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/09/opinion/sunday/kristof-In-This-Rape-Center-the-Patient-Was-3.html?_r=1&src=tp)

    I appreciate your concern for women. But I think you are mightily deluded about rape, and SlutWalk. SlutWalk isn’t supposed to be targeted at rapists. It’s trying to change society’s view on what rape is in the first place, to eliminate cases like these, where authorities turn a blind eye to rape because they blame the victims for putting themselves in the situation – ‘victim-blaming’.

    http://www.now.org/nnt/fall-99/campus.html
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10382613/ns/dateline_nbc/t/rape-campus/#.TpFGupza8vs

    The thing is that because society takes a stand on rape that blames the victim more than the rapist (again, more of an issue abroad than here in Singapore; but then again marital rape is also a fact in Singapore), casual rapists feel like what they’re doing isn’t rape, or think it is okay. So just because the woman is a stripper, the men who bought her stripping service feel like it’s okay to rape her. And also society somehow has this misguided notion that all rape happens because the girl was behaving or dressing like a slut, and so ‘asked for it’. But it just simply is not true. And society in general needs to know that.

    There are so many personal stories about rape available on the Internet. If you are really concerned about women and rape, I suggest you go Google around a bit and read these stories. I’m not asking you to agree with SlutWalk, I just hope you’ll get a fuller picture of the landscape of rape, because this whole post just tells me that you’ve never spoken to or known anyone who’s been sexually assaulted. And I don’t expect you to know one. I guess it’s a sign of how lucky we are in Singapore that back-alley rape really doesn’t happen with the kind of frequency that it does elsewhere. (But if you ask me, I think the rising crime rate is an indicator that this could rapidly change.)

    Actually, you represent the type of people that SlutWalk is precisely trying to target. I think you’ve got your heart in the right place. But you really need to know more about rape and its victims.

    1. Nationalist,

      You’re making a few assumptions about me in this post. Right off the bat, you’re telling me you haven’t read or understood what I wrote.

      You wrote a paragraph about how you can’t tell if someone is a potential rapist. Please read the links I provided in the article. This (http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/rape_stats.html#rapist), this (http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/rape.html#rape_statistics), and this: http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/profile.html).

      You said society takes a stand on rape that blames the victim more than rape. You said SlutWalk’s view is about changing society’s views. That’s all fine and well, and I don’t have a problem with that. I actually said that in the beginning. You assume that I do. What I do have issues with is that SlutWalk isn’t doing anything to prevent rape. That’s the focus of my post. There will be no need for overturning victim blaming if there are no victims. And if victim blaming occurs, proper understanding of rape can handle it more effectively than demonstrations and well-meaning blog posts.

      The stories you provide about campus rape don’t necessarily translate into society blaming the victim. Sure, if the stories about campus rape are true, then something is wrong with the school administration. But what I’m looking at is campus administrations protecting their academic standing and prestige. Stories of rapes and students being expelled for raping fellow students is not conducive to a good reputation, which is necessary to bring in students – and school fees, research and education grants, and good faculty. Plus, expelling athletes before a football game would disadvantage the school – to some people’s ways of thinking, the prestige gained by winning a football season outweighs the repercussions of not acting on a rape. Further, even if there were victim blaming in campus disciplinary hearings, this does not prove the rest of society blames victims. If you want to show victim blaming in society, show evidence that there is no motive for protecting the rapist, on a societal level.

      You assume I don’t know anything about rape and rape victims. To be honest, I don’t know much about what rape victim advocates and the like discuss and propagate. What I do know about rape I took from sources I can trust, sources that meet academic standards of rigour, sources that actually practice what they preach. I understand that information from the latter tends to differ from the former. And, from my personal experience, this is mistaken for ignorance.

      You seem to feel as though personal stories matter in some way. That, after reading them, the reader will be so moved that he or she will leap to defend the victim and future victims against the evils of victim blaming and the sort. I’m sorry, but that didn’t happen to me. Anecdotes may be personal stories, but as evidence they hold little weight. I don’t let anecdotes influence my writing wherever possible.

      You assume I don’t know anybody who’s been sexually assaulted. I do. I don’t wish that trauma on anyone, and that is why I write what I write.

      By the way: according to the Singapore Police Force, the crime rate is falling. (http://www.spf.gov.sg/stats/statsmid2011_intro.htm) But outrage of modesty cases are rising. (http://www.spf.gov.sg/stats/statsmid2011_keyconcerns.htm) I’m not sure what you mean when you say ‘rising crime rate’.

  8. And here is your contribution to the culture you don’t seem to think exists: “Clothing matters. Rapists prefer women who wear clothes that are easy to remove.” Do they? I can’t speak to the statistics in Singapore, exactly, but I can speak to world stats. Most targets of sexual violence (and rape is sexual violence, even if there isn’t any bruising, etc.), are wearing whatever the standard mode of dress is in that country. In North America, most sexual assault and rape targets are wearing jeans or pyjamas. Clothing doesn’t matter. Intent matters. Intent chooses an act, a target, and a time & location. Intent creates access. Access does not create intent.

    SlutWalk targets the thought that women should “cover up” lest they become targets, but the fact is a target is chosen for numerous reasons that usually don’t include style of dress. Predators choose prey who stand away from the pack, who wish to go unnoticed, and largely do. Predators select prey who won’t be able to cry out loudly, or will be ignored should she do so. Predators choose prey who will put up a bit of a fight, but not a great fight, because this way he knows she is still healthy and he cannot be overcome (in fact, if the fight is too strong he becomes less “functional” in the sexual aspect of the assault, while if the fight is too weak he feels unfulfilled).

    Sexual assault is not about sex, it’s about power, control, domination, humiliation, and lasting effects. He doesn’t attack her based on how sexy she is, he attacks her based on a need to feel powerful. In the case of date-rape, it isn’t because she got him so worked up with how she dressed or behaved, but how he cannot deal with hearing and respecting the word “no.” Certainly, he’s going to say she worked him up, because that’s how he makes it her fault and shifts the blame. That’s how his lawyer makes money. That’s how a “just world” would prefer to look at sexual assault – as something understandable and easily preventable – rather than admit there is a predator in our midst. A predator we did little to expose, and much to excuse.

    SlutWalk isn’t about preventing rape so much as it’s about educating people about what rape isn’t. It isn’t sex. It isn’t sex reconsidered and regretted. It isn’t an act inspired by flirtation or attire. It isn’t something we should dismiss by saying, “Well, if she hadn’t been there/dressed like that/drinking/so trusting…” Fact is, she could have been there, doing those things, wearing *that outfit* and nothing would have happened save for one thing: there was a rapist there this time.

    SlutWalk wants to make it not okay for a to cop ask “What were you wearing?” because it is evidence of implied consent, instead of “Do you have the clothing you were wearing? We’ll need to collect evidence from it.” SlutWalk wants to make it unacceptable for a lawyer to say, “She was dressed provocatively” as though this will excuse his client from having ignored her unwillingness, and his failure to obtain enthusiastic consent. Will this make sexual assault stop? Eventually, because by removing the barriers to convictions, we can remove the perpetrators from society. But for right now, it’s about making it easier for a victim to come forward and begin the transition to survivor knowing she has the support of law enforcement and the judicial system.

    1. On your first point, I agree. Clothing matters to rapists to whom clothing matters. When I wrote that original statement, I was talking about tactics, from the perspective of a predatory rapist. But while a rapist may prefer to attack women who are scantily clad, it doesn’t mean all rapists will only attack women who wear certain clothes. This point applies only to the subset of rapists that look specifically for access.

      I mainly agree with your second point. And there is something to add: predators choose prey whom they believe they can overwhelm, and will stack the deck in their favour as much as possible.

      As for your third point: I’ve seen this a lot, but I haven’t seen any sources to back up assertions like that. It may not be wrong, but I’ve been looking for actual sources for a while. As for the tactic you mentioned, that’s how bad guys roll. That’s why you prevent it from happening to you in the first place – you won’t get raped, and you won’t have to handle unscrupulous defence attorneys. As for talking admitting that predators exist – citation needed.

      Telling people it’s not okay to rape is well-meaning, but falls off the mark. Criminals are not moved by mass protests, demonstrations, workshops or people saying ‘NO!’ to rape. At best, SlutWalk’s anti-rape message may appeal to people who agree with SlutWalk, and to people with very few preconceived notions about rape and sex. But these messages won’t matter to someone who has already committed himself to being a rapist – SlutWalk’s message is a message from an entity opposed to his worldview, while he has centred his existence on his deeds and would-be deeds. The latter has more influence over his psyche than the former.

      As for removing barriers to conviction – conviction occurs after the crime has occurred, if there is sufficient evidence, there is a suspect to accuse, and there is a known victim. Focusing on convictions means that society is basically surrendering the initiative to criminals in favour of avenging victims. So the bad guys will shift their tactics to avoid prosecution. And, in some gang cultures, prison time is seen as a status symbol: to a criminal who craves prison time, he won’t worry so much about being caught, only the amount of time he will eventually spend in the slammer. In other cultures, prison is seen as an inevitability (that, or death by violence): criminals who think like that only worry about the here and now, because they know they’ll be going to jail anyway. And there are criminals who, frankly, just don’t care about legal repercussions at the time of commission (think a guy stoned out of his mind). Against criminals like that, convicting them will only be giving them what they believe, or giving them more incentive to cover up their tracks.

      By focusing on prevention, society will be empowering citizens to better protect themselves. Not just against sexual assault; against many kinds of criminal activity. The same techniques you use to watch for a robber in ambush can apply to watching for a rapist in ambush. The same principles you apply against social engineering techniques used in a con can be applied against a rapist who uses social engineering to gain entry into your home. I think it’s unrealistic to say that crime can ever be eradicated. But it can certainly be reduced from current levels, and the best way of doing that is preventing them from occurring through individual acts of personal prevention, as opposed to shifting to a whole new societal paradigm, arresting and convicting a lot of bad guys, and waiting for the general criminal mindset to get the message.

      1. “I’ve seen this a lot, but I haven’t seen any sources to back up assertions like that.” Assertions like what? That rape is a crime of power and control rather than unbridled lust? Melani & Fodaski, Levine & Koenig are a couple of resources. Then there’s you; have you that little regard for your own ability to control yourself in the face of sexual urges that you can excuse the actions of a sexual offender as lust? Or were you speaking of no sources to back up the idea that men who rape have difficulty with erection and orgasm? The same sources referenced above deal with this topic, but the short of it is that very few rapists actually give unqualified accounts of orgasm. Erectile dysfunction tends to set in the longer the assault (or series of assaults) lasts.

        Again, SlutWalk isn’t aimed at rapists. It’s aimed at police services who focus on the victim’s attire and behaviour as though it’s these things that lead to rape. It’s aimed at judges who give a lenient sentence to a rapist because of a so-called sexual element in the pre-assault interactions between offender and target. It’s aimed at you, who would think rape can be prevented by giving out fashion advice and restricting freedoms.

        1. At last, some sources to look at. Thanks for the referrals. I’ll check them out when I have the time.

          You said: “Then there’s you; have you that little regard for your own ability to control yourself in the face of sexual urges that you can excuse the actions of a sexual offender as lust? Or were you speaking of no sources to back up the idea that men who rape have difficulty with erection and orgasm? The same sources referenced above deal with this topic, but the short of it is that very few rapists actually give unqualified accounts of orgasm. Erectile dysfunction tends to set in the longer the assault (or series of assaults) lasts.”

          I’m not excusing the actions of rapists. I’m trying to figure out how they tick. So far, nobody who argued this point with me brought up any sources. That’s what I’ve been talking about.

          You said, “Again, SlutWalk isn’t aimed at rapists. It’s aimed at police services who focus on the victim’s attire and behaviour as though it’s these things that lead to rape. It’s aimed at judges who give a lenient sentence to a rapist because of a so-called sexual element in the pre-assault interactions between offender and target. It’s aimed at you, who would think rape can be prevented by giving out fashion advice and restricting freedoms.”

          Fashion advice and restricting freedoms? When I wrote about clothing, I was approaching it from a tactical perspective. I didn’t say that skimpy clothing attracted rapists – I said they’re easier for rapists to take off. And notice I didn’t make a big deal out of it? That’s because, on the long list of actions and considerations for self-defence, this is just one aspect out of many. The only reason I brought this up was to address the original statement made by SlutWalk Singapore x Kuala Lumpur, as an introduction to the organisation’s lack of understanding of rape.

          And as for ‘restricting freedoms’, please articulate these freedoms. Take a look at the last section of The Blame Dialogues: I’m not talking about restricting freedoms. I’m talking about understanding what kind of world we live in, and adopting effective behaviours to mitigate the risk of criminal activity.

  9. I’m afraid you lost me a bit when you referred to “first point” and so on… I’m numbering these so we can get through anything like that for this response.
    1) “I was talking about tactics, from the perspective of a predatory rapist” – ALL rapists are predators. The vast majority of rapes are premeditated, negating the idea that a rapist chooses a victim based on attire as the target’s attire is often out of the predator’s control.
    2) “while a rapist may prefer to attack women who are scantily clad” and “This point applies only to the subset of rapists that look specifically for access.” This makes no sense. a) A rapist who targets women specifically for how they dress is a construct of Hollywood, just as is the rapist who chooses only red-haired victims – it may happen that a rapist chooses a very specific type of target based on clothing or look, but that’s hardly the way it goes.. b) A rapist creates access – access is not something a rapist looks for first, it is something the rapist creates.
    3) “…predators choose prey whom they believe they can overwhelm, and will stack the deck in their favour as much as possible.” I addressed this when I said he looks for a fight, but not a great fight. Unlike the mugger, the rapist actually wants a bit of a fight, as this is something that contributes to his sense of power.
    4) “As for talking admitting that predators exist – citation needed.” I don’t understand this sentence. Please tell me exactly what it is you’re asking me to reference sources for.
    5) “Focusing on convictions means that society is basically surrendering the initiative to criminals in favour of avenging victims” So, in the meantime we’re to not focus on convictions? This makes no sense. If we don’t focus on convictions as well as real methods of risk reduction, we’re not covering our bases.
    6) “So the bad guys will shift their tactics to avoid prosecution” which would mean the methods being used to thwart them were working. If they changed their tactics, we would change our means of capturing them and convicting them.
    7) “By focusing on prevention, society will be empowering citizens to better protect themselves.” Agreed. “The same techniques you use to watch for a robber in ambush can apply to watching for a rapist in ambush.” Agreed, except the average rapist doesn’t hide in the bushes waiting to attack. The average rapist isn’t “out there” but already within trusted circles. “The same principles you apply against social engineering techniques used in a con can be applied against a rapist who uses social engineering to gain entry into your home.”
    8) I would agree it’s unrealistic to think any form of crime could be completely eradicated, but educating those who would be targeted should start with the right education rather than martial-mythology about what a predator seeks in his prey. True self-defence tactics aren’t about restricting the freedoms of potential targets, but about restricting the access of potential offenders by identifying them and their methods. True self-defence is about empowering people, regardless of their sex or lifestyle.

    1. Well, this system of numbers sure makes it easier to follow things. Thanks.

      1) “I was talking about tactics, from the perspective of a predatory rapist” – ALL rapists are predators. The vast majority of rapes are premeditated, negating the idea that a rapist chooses a victim based on attire as the target’s attire is often out of the predator’s control.

      When I said ‘predatory rapists’, I was talking in the context of the article I wrote. That is, the guy who jumps out of the bushes, as opposed to someone you know. And, as I keep saying over and over and over and over again, attire is just one of many factors a predatory rapist looks for. That is assuming the rapist looks for attire – I recall reading an article that says some rapists do, and some don’t.

      2) “while a rapist may prefer to attack women who are scantily clad” and “This point applies only to the subset of rapists that look specifically for access.” This makes no sense. a) A rapist who targets women specifically for how they dress is a construct of Hollywood, just as is the rapist who chooses only red-haired victims – it may happen that a rapist chooses a very specific type of target based on clothing or look, but that’s hardly the way it goes.. b) A rapist creates access – access is not something a rapist looks for first, it is something the rapist creates.

      If you insist on blowing up a trivial point, you assume I’m making it a major point. I’m not – you are. You’re employing the old debater’s trick of latching on to a minor point, blowing it up, and making it look like it’s The Major Point in a debate. It misrepresents what I wrote, and I don’t take kindly to that.

      You and I approach ‘access’ differently. I say ‘access’ in the sense of clothing being easier to take off. Sure, the rapist creates access, but he doesn’t have to work so hard to get what he wants if the target had fewer clothes in the way. That’s all I meant. And, as you and I keep saying, clothing doesn’t matter so much.

      3) “…predators choose prey whom they believe they can overwhelm, and will stack the deck in their favour as much as possible.” I addressed this when I said he looks for a fight, but not a great fight. Unlike the mugger, the rapist actually wants a bit of a fight, as this is something that contributes to his sense of power.

      Sources needed – unless they’re in what you mentioned already. But even if he does, he still wouldn’t want to give his victim a chance to actually get away. Hence, ambush tactics, social engineering, blitz attacks, everything it takes to isolate the victim and destroy effective resistance. That is, resistance that will actually threaten his plans and health, as opposed to resistance that would excite him. That’s what I was referring to.

      4) “As for talking admitting that predators exist – citation needed.” I don’t understand this sentence. Please tell me exactly what it is you’re asking me to reference sources for.

      I must have missed a few keys on my keyboard. Sorry about that. I was referring to the existence of a culture that refuses to admit that predators exist.

      5) “Focusing on convictions means that society is basically surrendering the initiative to criminals in favour of avenging victims” So, in the meantime we’re to not focus on convictions? This makes no sense. If we don’t focus on convictions as well as real methods of risk reduction, we’re not covering our bases.

      Nope. This is not an either/or proposition. That said, the judiciary is a specialised aspect of society that focuses on criminal activity. The rest of society does other things. So, when it comes to criminal activity, let the judiciary handle criminal prosecution, and everybody else reduce risk.

      6) “So the bad guys will shift their tactics to avoid prosecution” which would mean the methods being used to thwart them were working. If they changed their tactics, we would change our means of capturing them and convicting them.

      Which is what the judiciary and police do. Not ordinary citizens. Ordinary people are not, as a rule, legally empowered to arrest and convict criminals. Remember that I’m writing from the perspective of the average citizen trying to live his life without having to worry about bad guys.

      7) “By focusing on prevention, society will be empowering citizens to better protect themselves.” Agreed. “The same techniques you use to watch for a robber in ambush can apply to watching for a rapist in ambush.” Agreed, except the average rapist doesn’t hide in the bushes waiting to attack. The average rapist isn’t “out there” but already within trusted circles.

      Sure, the average rapist isn’t waiting in a bush. Notice that I didn’t use ‘average rapist’ here. In fact, I actually wrote that the average rapist is someone known to the victim.

      8. I would agree it’s unrealistic to think any form of crime could be completely eradicated, but educating those who would be targeted should start with the right education rather than martial-mythology about what a predator seeks in his prey. True self-defence tactics aren’t about restricting the freedoms of potential targets, but about restricting the access of potential offenders by identifying them and their methods. True self-defence is about empowering people, regardless of their sex or lifestyle.

      I’d have to disagree with you. Right education begins by understanding how criminals think – when you know what they’re looking for, you can figure out how to protect yourself against them. Then you have the basis of widespread education. Identifying offenders and methods won’t do much unless you, too, take action to neutralise their techniques. Knowledge in this area doesn’t mean much if you don’t act on it. Sure, this is empowering, and it is something I’m trying to communicate, but for some reason some people (not just you) think I’m calling for the restriction of freedoms.

  10. Hi Benjamin,

    I appreciate the fact you are taking the time to have these discussions, in the open, on your page. I think it’s possible for everyone to benefit from this sort of discussion, especially in this kind of forum. I inferred from the wording in one of your replies that you are seeing this as an adversarial or aggressive exchange, and I certainly don’t mean it to be so. I do have a very frank/abrupt/formal way of discussing these things when it’s in text-form, but – like you – I am attempting to engage in this discussion for the purpose of sharing information and points of view. I do think that sometimes it’s a case of the language used (“access” being one example), while other times it’s an outright disagreement with what one of us is saying. At no point do I wish for this to become a disrespectful exchange. Like you, I have done a lot of study on the subject of violence, though I do believe I’ve gone a little more in-depth in some regards (and perhaps not in others). Regarding sexual violence, however, I find many of your statements to be problematic and even contradictory, I’m going to try and focus on only a few things here. I have to say it looks as though you are editing some of your post above as we go, which makes responses to it somewhat difficult, as well. Is it possible for you to leave the text intact, with a strikeout rather than removal for the sake of continuing this discussion?

    I’m going to go in a bit of a reverse order this time, as it’s easier to reference the last items without having to scroll.

    8. “I’d have to disagree with you. Right education begins by understanding how criminals think – when you know what they’re looking for, you can figure out how to protect yourself against them.” I’m somewhat confused by this… How is it different from what I said about “restricting the access of potential offenders by identifying them and their methods?” I don’t think you’re disagreeing with me, just rewording what I said. As for the restriction of freedoms, when we talk about changing what a woman wears, where she goes, who she spends time with, or insist she travel in pairs or groups, we are indeed restricting her freedom. The first three things will not affect her victim potential, while the last is hardly practical; eventually everyone has to spend some time alone. What makes this victim-blaming? Well, you say, “Clothing matters. Rapists prefer women who wear clothes that are easy to remove” and “Most rapes occur because a woman took a risk, and got burned” as well as “preventing [rape] from occurring through individual acts of personal prevention” and “the rape probably occurred because the victim didn’t look after herself” – all of which is victim-blaming occurring outside of a courtroom. If a woman wears clothing that’s “easy to remove” and takes “a risk” she failed to “prevent” her own rape and “didn’t look after herself.” You didn’t say, “it’s her fault” directly, but imagine being the victim of an assault and having to consider that kind of mindset when deciding whether to disclose or not, especially when your advice includes not “going where they can’t hide and *not*PROVOKING*an*attack.” Never mind the fact clothing has nothing to do with it. Even your description of “predatory rapists” who “wait in dark, secluded areas, and assess everybody who walk by” looking for a woman whose clothing will be “easy to remove” is something out of Hollywood – what if the only woman dressed “scantily” isn’t alone? What if the only woman who meets all other “criteria” for attack isn’t dressed appropriately? I just find these generalized methods of “prevention” to be ludicrous as whether or not they will ever prevent anything is something that can only be speculated upon, and their benefit as methods of risk reduction are suspect at best. I would like sources other than a self-defence instructor whose words you like, and would prefer actual case studies or those who performed them, if you can, as that’s what I’ve provided for you above.

    6. The average person’s investment in SlutWalk is about influencing police and judiciary powers. If we don’t educate them as to what sexual assault is, they will continue to pursue irrelevant avenues of investigation, allow mythologies to be entered into evidence, and to hold victims responsible for the crimes of others. If you can engage in victim-blaming unknowingly by simply the words you choose to use, imagine how pervasive the issue actually is.

    5. If we are to assist the general public in reducing risk, we are best to go about it via methods that actually do so. Unfortunately, the vast majority of “risk reduction strategies” that are out there aren’t quantifiable. There’s a certain amount of superstition and mythology that pervades the self-defence community, and because it’s being taught by those who are otherwise quite knowledgeable, it can be difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.

    4. Whenever we excuse a rapist – or a gang of rapists because the young girl they attacked had consumed alcohol with them – we deny the predator in our midst. When we say that women are to prevent their own attacks, or that clothing can incite a man to violence, we are denying his very nature of being a predator who will prey on women regardless of what they wear.

    3. No criminal wants his victim to win. That being said, the rapist is a very unique creature in that he does look for a bit of a fight. If she was willing, it wouldn’t be rape, and he wouldn’t be a rapist. However, the sources I previously cited will provide you with the information you seek on that.

    2. I make a point of your mention of clothing, but it’s only as “major” a point as it warrants being. It doesn’t matter how little you mention it, but when you disseminate mythology as real information it is damaging – even if you only mention it in passing. It’s as salient an issue as it needs to be since you mentioned it first. I don’t mean to give it more lip-service than it deserves, but since it isn’t fact that rapists choose their targets based on clothing (the vast majority don’t even remember what their victim was wearing), it does need to be addressed. Again, same sources.

    Further to this:

    1. “attire is just one of many factors a predatory rapist looks for.” But it isn’t. This is the point you insist isn’t “major” but consistently reference.

    I admire the fact you choose to address self-defence as something that needs to be practised prior to an attack taking place. I agree with that completely, and the courses I teach certainly address this fact in detail. Unfortunately, I find most people who address these issues will very selectively reference objective evidence (studies which support their lessons), and ignore it when it doesn’t jibe with their own, subject-of-one, narrow-context experience. When these conflicts occur, I find these instructors choose instead to reference their own “research” as though it was carried out with the same approach and objectivity as a proper study, and that usually isn’t the case.

    I look forward to your reply,
    Gaz

    1. Gaz,

      I appreciate the fact that you’re being civil so far. if you’ve felt that my tone was aggressive, I apologise. I’ve been extremely busy these days. What you’re looking at is how my thoughts look like, transferred from my brain to the screen, without editing. On that note, let’s talk about what you said. I’ll only be referring to points in which we have some kind of disagreement.

      1. Attire. I consistently reference attire because everybody else consistently brings it up, so I consistently talk about it, which tends to lead people that it’s a major point when it is not. If you read my original post, clothing is just mentioned ONCE. That’s how minor it is to me. I have no interest in flogging a dead horse. You call what I said about rape and clothing ‘mythology’. I look at clothing from a tactical point of view – and what I wrote applies only to rapists who think at that level of detail. There’s nothing mythological about clothing that is easy to remove. But it only applies to when you’re being attacked, in which case you have more important things to worry about – and that is why it is so minor to me. In the grand scheme of things, both you and I agree that clothing isn’t as important as other things.

      2. “Whenever we excuse a rapist – or a gang of rapists because the young girl they attacked had consumed alcohol with them – we deny the predator in our midst. When we say that women are to prevent their own attacks, or that clothing can incite a man to violence, we are denying his very nature of being a predator who will prey on women regardless of what they wear.”

      If you’re referring to the gang rape case I mentioned, it’s not necessarily society excusing a group rapist. The crux in the matter is that nobody could recall what actually happened. The girl said she was raped – she could simply be regretting her deeds and crying wolf to save herself. The men said they raped her – the defence lawyers might have told them to say that in order to get a lighter sentence, because they believe that they don’t have enough for a full acquittal. if the judiciary cannot convict someone of rape, due to lack of evidence or clarity or anything else, then it cannot convict. To convict anyway is a perversion of the principles of justice, as skipping the system allows innocents to be unfairly accused and convicted of sexual assault. This is not excusing a rapist: this is preserving the spirit of the law.

      3. “The average person’s investment in SlutWalk is about influencing police and judiciary powers. If we don’t educate them as to what sexual assault is, they will continue to pursue irrelevant avenues of investigation, allow mythologies to be entered into evidence, and to hold victims responsible for the crimes of others. If you can engage in victim-blaming unknowingly by simply the words you choose to use, imagine how pervasive the issue actually is.”

      But you have not provided any evidence that this actually occurs at at systematic level. Further, what exactly do you mean by “what sexual assault is”, and “pursue irrelevant avenues of investigation, allow mythologies to be entered into evidence”?

      4. ‘“I’d have to disagree with you. Right education begins by understanding how criminals think – when you know what they’re looking for, you can figure out how to protect yourself against them.” I’m somewhat confused by this… How is it different from what I said about “restricting the access of potential offenders by identifying them and their methods?” I don’t think you’re disagreeing with me, just rewording what I said.’

      I reordered what you said so that things will flow more logically. At least to my eye.

      5. “As for the restriction of freedoms, when we talk about changing what a woman wears, where she goes, who she spends time with, or insist she travel in pairs or groups, we are indeed restricting her freedom. The first three things will not affect her victim potential, while the last is hardly practical; eventually everyone has to spend some time alone. What makes this victim-blaming? Well, you say, “Clothing matters. Rapists prefer women who wear clothes that are easy to remove” and “Most rapes occur because a woman took a risk, and got burned” as well as “preventing [rape] from occurring through individual acts of personal prevention” and “the rape probably occurred because the victim didn’t look after herself” – all of which is victim-blaming occurring outside of a courtroom. If a woman wears clothing that’s “easy to remove” and takes “a risk” she failed to “prevent” her own rape and “didn’t look after herself.” You didn’t say, “it’s her fault” directly, but imagine being the victim of an assault and having to consider that kind of mindset when deciding whether to disclose or not, especially when your advice includes not “going where they can’t hide and *not*PROVOKING*an*attack.” Never mind the fact clothing has nothing to do with it. Even your description of “predatory rapists” who “wait in dark, secluded areas, and assess everybody who walk by” looking for a woman whose clothing will be “easy to remove” is something out of Hollywood – what if the only woman dressed “scantily” isn’t alone? What if the only woman who meets all other “criteria” for attack isn’t dressed appropriately? I just find these generalized methods of “prevention” to be ludicrous as whether or not they will ever prevent anything is something that can only be speculated upon, and their benefit as methods of risk reduction are suspect at best. I would like sources other than a self-defence instructor whose words you like, and would prefer actual case studies or those who performed them, if you can, as that’s what I’ve provided for you above.”

      You’re not looking at one source. You’re looking at at least three sources: Marc MacYoung, Gavin deBecker, and Rory Miller. Barry Eisler’s essay on self-defence too, if it counts. The strategies I mentioned are taken from their writings. I keep telling people to read what they write because there is just too much material to reproduce on a blog post. Plus, the only sources you brought up are people whose writings you like, and studies that support what you said. So you’re a hypocrite or you think that everybody who doesn’t agree with you is wrong. It is not automatically wrong for a person to bring up sources and experts to back up arguments; this, in fact, is expected of someone arguing a point.

      You say you want case studies. Look: the strategies mentioned involve prevention. If they work, that means the attack didn’t happen. And sometimes, low impact self defence fails and you need to fight off an attacker. Such as an active shooter going to your workplace, and having a grudge aimed very squarely at you. Because such things are extremely complex, it’s very difficult to find any reliable case studies, if such things actually exist. How do you propose conducting a study to see that something works by not attracting danger? At the risk of oversimplification, you’ll need to have a control group of people who don’t practice self defence, and a similar group of people who do. You know self defence techniques works when the latter is attacked less than the former, but I really doubt people want to sign up for a study like this. Or that it is even ethical in the first place And that’s not counting the fact that it’s going to extremely complex: you can’t control for environment, you can’t control criminal behaviour, you can’t control for random events like a sudden police crackdown or a crime wave.

      Regarding what you said about freedom, I feel that you’re cherrypicking and twisting my words around. You are free to choose what you do or do not do. Nobody, and nobody, is forcing you to do anything. I did not say you MUST do something. But if you take a certain course of action, then you have to bear the consequences. If you take risks, then you have to accept that something might happen to you. Leaving a drink alone at a club is one such risk. You can always go back for it, but you can’t guarantee that nobody spiked it. If you choose to drink it, you’re accepting the risk that you might be drugged. If you get drugged, what happens to you next may not be your fault, but you certainly set up the circumstances for it to happen (i.e. choosing to drink a formerly unattended drink). The crime that follows may not be your fault, but it didn’t have to happen to you at all. This is what I’ve been trying to get at while writing about self defence.

      Before you say this is victim blaming, read closer. The criminal is responsible for what he does. The victim is responsible for what she does. If the victim’s actions made it easier for the attacker to get to her, then there is no way around that. Sure, in an ideal world, the bad guy wouldn’t go after her. But this is not an ideal world, and the point of self defence is making it as difficult as possible for a bad guy to target and attack you. If your actions make it easier – not harder – for a bad guy to attack you, then your self defence techniques have failed by your hand. No, the victim is not responsible for what happened to her, but she is responsible for what she did. No more and no less.

      The tactics you brought up – clothing, not travelling alone – is cherrypicking. I’ve brought up tactics that are more important than that: staying aware of your surroundings, staying away from high crime areas, avoiding places you can be ambushed, cutting out dangerous people from your life – and you seem to be ignoring them all. These are high-percentage moves, insofar as they mostly help you stay aware from a bad guy. But, as you’ve said, they don’t always work. I”ve known a guy who had had the misfortune of going into a lift which was currently occupied by two would-be robbers. (Fortunately, he managed to defeat them.) There are no guaranteed self-defence techniques, only techniques that give you a higher percentage of avoiding or surviving violent crime. The best defences are layered: first look out for criminals and bad places; carry yourself with confidence and intent; stay away from places you can be ambushed; practice combatives so you can fight them off and escape if everything fails.

      And there is one more thing you need to note: This is a blog. This isn’t even a self-defence blog. This is a blog on current affairs. You say I’ve generalised self defence – that may be so, but that’s because a full accounting of self defence is way outside the scope of this blog, and is way too long for a single blog post. That’s why I keep referring to other authors. I could write more about self defence if I wished – but I don’t have enough time to do that for free.

  11. One more thing: “Don’t rape…”
    This actually is a valuable message to teach. Not to the rapist who is already out there, because he doesn’t want to learn, as you said. But to the rapist who might someday be. Most rapists grow up in homes with abusive, oppressive fathers and ineffectual mothers. If we empower men (and one way to empower them is to teach them of the value of all humans) there will be no need for them to seek power through the oppression of another. If we empower women (see the lesson men need, above) they will not put up with maltreatment. If we show these people to our young men, they will grow up to be respectful of their future partner, and help to stem the tide of future rapists.
    It’s also worth noting that a girl who is molested is 3x more likely to be raped as an adult. A woman who is raped is 7x more likely to be raped again. If young girls grow up in a society that believes she could have prevented her attack when the best anyone – parents/teachers/caregivers/her – could actually do is reduce her risk, she will be less likely to report. Less likely to report equates to less likely to heal, and more likely to be the woman who is about to be raped again and again not report…

    1. I’d rephrase ‘Don’t rape’ to ‘Respect yourself and the wishes of everybody you meet’. It’s a practical thing: the human brain is more likely to act on a positive recommendation (“Do this’) than a negative one (“Don’t do that’). I won’t say it’ll stem the tide of future rapists, but it can’t hurt to teach this, and it might have positive spill-over effects on general human behaviour.

      That said, while this point makes sense, it’s gonna be very…interesting…trying to teach this. This is basically an acknowledgement that sex happens between people, and not necessarily in the context of marriage. My government won’t approve of anything like this anytime soon, if at all. Something about ‘conservative society’ and ‘Asian values’.

  12. Hi again, Benjamin,
    “I feel that you’re cherry-picking and twisting my words around.” I’m not. I quote you directly, and don’t have to twist anything. “Cherry-picking” is an interesting turn of phrase, but the fact is those are the aspects that stand out to me as having the most potential for damage.
    “Before you say I’m victim blaming…” In this instance, you’re not. The advice to not leave a drink alone is good advice, and takes into account the fact the potential target is able to exercise his/her agency in being out and drinking in the first place. Your advice in this case provides a reasonable means of doing this more safely.

    The other tactics you mention: Awareness is a great tactic. I reference it all the time, as the predators we’re discussing thrive on their targets being unaware. Simple awareness can cause a predator to remove himself from a particular locale and to pursue an easier target elsewhere. Staying away from “high-crime” areas is a mixed bag message. What if I live in a high-crime area? What if I work there? What if the stalker from the high-crime area comes to me? Awareness is again key, though I think it’s important that if we are going to discuss awareness we give information about exactly what it is we’re trying to be aware of. If you’re going to send someone elsewhere for the meat of your message, why start the message at all? I think you would probably agree the average reader doesn’t want to link-click a dozen times for something that can actually be said succinctly here. Avoiding places of ambush… Well, sometimes you can, and sometimes it’s much harder. It isn’t as simple as “dark alleys” and “bushes.” In fact, most ambushes of this nature happen in areas we can’t avoid, like the entrance-way to our apartment building, office building, car-par, etc. Cutting out dangerous people is a much more difficult task than it would seem on the surface (though I think you mention this); dangerous people in our lives tend to be those we’ve been involved with for some time, or have been taught to accept or depend on. As you say, though, these are in some ways “high-percentage moves” and merit their own discussion. I’m sorry that my not mentioning these strategies can be seen as a negative; I did not think it necessary to bring them up, as the amount of damage they can do if acted upon is less significant – if not outright beneficial – when compared to the strategies I mentioned.

    “Prevention strategies” are non-existent, as someone can follow all of the rules set out in order to prevent an attack and still be overwhelmed by an attacker, as that’s what attackers set out to do. “Risk-reduction strategies” are the best we can hope for. Whether or not anything actually prevents a crime from occurring is at the very least unverifiable. That being said, it’s important to remember there are indeed case studies of all manner of crime – including the active shooter. But you have to be willing to look for these case studies or be able to tell when your sources are accurately referencing them rather than referencing them through their preconceived notions of how things “ought to be.”

    DeBecker and MacYoung are very good resources. MacYoung references DeBecker, Grossman, and many others frequently. Some of what he references I believe he does well, and others I disagree with his interpretations of their findings. He also references his own, unverifiable research from time to time. It doesn’t change how accurate he on some matters that he can be off the mark on others. Usually when he’s off the mark, he betrays his personal bias as a disagreement with those who have done the research he chooses to ignore. Miller, so far as I can tell, repeats a lot of what MacYoung says. I do not dislike these sources, and will reference them when I can be certain of the value of what they are saying. After that, however, I prefer to go to sources with objectivity and expertise in their areas of study.

    Regarding lessons on how to not become a rapist… I have to agree with you there, that these are lessons best delivered with a positive tone. But then, just about all lessons are best delivered that way. Even here, in North America (I’m in Canada), getting messages about healthy sex practices and attitudes can be challenging, so I don’t envy those who wish to undertake that task in “conservative societies” with “Asian values.”

    The “systematic level” that victim-blaming happens is evident in every case of a court of law which allows fanciful arguments into evidence, such as “provocative” clothing, flirtatious behaviour, etc., or the “implied consent” of a woman who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It’s also a travesty of justice when a conviction for rape and a stiff penalty for same are not entered when the accused confesses, or when someone is expected to remember a traumatic event in detail in order to convict. As for that particular case, there’s a LOT of speculation going on.

    Finally, as to what sexual assault is: Sexual assault is an act of violence. Even women who have been drugged unconscious are more often than not injured during the rape. In the case of the gang-rape, the men stopped when she began to bleed, and stopping at a point when their own brutality becomes evident is a fairly common thing to have happen. As well, all sexual assaults end, so even in this case, it may have even come to an end at the same time that she started to bleed. In “Rape and Ritual”, Paske refers to the difficulty many rapists have with orgasm and/or erection and the fact they will become more physically violent at this point or resort to devices with which to continue the sexual assault, while in “The Psychology of the Rapist and His Victim” Melani and Fodaski speak about the background of the sexual offender, and what could easily be described as a compulsion to repeat an earlier trauma. Fremont, in “Rapists Speak for Themselves” acknowledges that rapists can have a lot of differences, but states they are all asserting their power through violence/coercion, and all fail to see women as human beings. So, you see, I do not dispute the value of MacYoung as a source for many things, however, I believe there are other sources available who can provide much more insight into the mind of the sexual offender.

    I understand this is not a self-defence blog, however, when you address issues of self-defence it functions as such. In that regard, I think it’s possible for the lay-person to be somewhat irresponsible despite all intentions to the contrary. Although, I have to say again, your ability and desire to have these discussions speaks volumes as to your commitment to provide as complete a discussion as possible. I thank you for allowing me to take part in that.

  13. One final thing, Benjamin. Here in Canada, many people hold a similar attitude about victim-blaming – it doesn’t happen, they say. The arguments to support their claim are exactly the same as yours. The fact remains that of all the rape victims who seek counselling but do not report to police, a staggering 44% cite the attitudes of law-enforcement and the courts as reason for not coming forward. Perhaps one of the major factors with those who deny victim-blaming is they have never felt the effects of it. No person outside of an issue can really understand its salience, and similar attitudes are held toward racism by those who will never experience its sting. Or sexism, ableism, religious bias…

    1. Thanks for taking the time to discuss all this with me. I apologise for saying you were twisting my words around – I was distracted at the time of writing. As much as I would like discussing this further, I simply have too much work to do to spend any more time on this matter. I won’t say I agree with you completely, but we can agree to disagree, and you’ve certainly given me a lot to think about and a lot of information to chase down. It’s been interesting discussing this with you.

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