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In praise of angry feminists

One of my most cherished friends is an angry feminist. Of all the people I know personally, she has probably had more influence on the way I understand the world, and particularly issues relating to gender, than anyone else. She could well be surprised to learn of this. We’ve argued about these issues many, many times. Possibly more than I’ve argued with anyone else – and I argue with people a lot. Not only this – she has yelled at me many, many times for my views on issues relating to gender. Not necessarily because she thinks my views in particular are awful. Because she thinks the issues are of such importance, and because she is so passionate about them.

I have tried to listen carefully to what she has had to say, and consider it honestly. Sometimes I have maintained my disagreements with her. Other times, I have been persuaded. I have tried to educate myself further at times, and have read an assortment of feminist writings (Greer, de Beauvoir, Ehrenreich, etc).

There is much that I don’t know, and much that I still have to learn. But there are some things that I would not understand without my friend explaining them to me with her passion. Her passion is part of what is worth considering. When one considers racism, it is not enough to look at statistics. Perhaps a white person can never understand racism as experienced by a black person. But in seeking to understand that experience, one must not just look to statistics. One must try to understand how it feels to them. It is not enough to seek to understand how racism is applied to others – we must seek to understand how it looks to those who experience it.

In the same way, what are important feminist issues may be conceived by men in one way. Women may think of entirely different issues. In seeking to understand, one must understand how women are affected by their experiences.

And my friend is angry. She hates seeing the types of images of women that she sees everywhere. She is angry at how many men physically assault and sexually harass women. My friend has had appalling experiences: but so have many of her friends. It is perhaps easier for women – and certainly men – to respond without anger. By refusing to be angry, and accommodating such things. Saying ‘it’s not such a big deal’ is the first step to accepting how things are. And it’s easy for men to do so. After all, we are generally not affected by violence against women. If society bombards women with pressure to look and act in a certain way, we can get by without objecting to such pressures. Indeed, it’s often easier not to rock the boat, and certainly for a man there’s no shortage of women who will defend such values. So why get involved?

It is people like my friend – who some might call an ‘angry extremist’ – who provide an answer. They do not beg, and they do not pretend to be dispassionate. They demand that more people care. And I think that that is right.

My relationship to feminism is a little more complex. However, if we describe feminism as devoted to redressing the substantial socio-economic disadvantages faced by women, and by trying to create a more equal society, it seems to me unimaginable that one could reasonably oppose such a movement. Indeed, it seems to me the only question should then become: what kind of work does feminism have to do?

In Australia, it is not hard to think of major issues. Something like one in three women experiences domestic violence. When I looked at the statistics last year, the government so grossly underfunded women’s shelters, that about one in two women were turned away from them every day. In NSW, when a woman is raped, there’s a one per cent chance her rapist will be convicted. Women are paid on average 18% less than men, and this gap is growing. They are significantly underrepresented in many occupations, and in the highest positions.

There is, of course, much more. Emily Maguire – the most intelligent and thoughtful feminist commentator I know of in Australia – gave a lecture describing the obstacles women face through life.

This is not all. For feminism alone cannot address the issues of race and class, and any feminism that fails to do so is not feminist in the sense I described above. Aboriginal women in the Northern Territory like Barb Shaw have urged an end to compulsory income management and the racist measures of the Intervention. Aboriginal women also suffer in particular from rapes and domestic violence. Chris Cunneen’s book Conflict, Politics and Crime surveyed the literature when he wrote 10 years ago, and noted that 88 per cent of Aboriginal women didn’t report rape and assault cases. He quotes Judy Atkinson – an Aboriginal activist – explaining why: ‘If a white women gets bashed or raped here, the police do something. When it’s us they laugh.’ The National Inquiry into Racist Violence describes a police officer describing the dismissal of a rape allegation by a senior police officer, on the grounds that ‘You can’t rape a coon’. The rape, incidentally, had independent witnesses. One can see the continued failure of the criminal justice system to protect Indigenous women from violence in the sentence former Chief Justice Martin of the Northern Territory Supreme Court gave to a man who raped an Indigenous 14 year old girl: one month. Plainly, it wasn’t a big deal to him, just like when five white men beat an Aboriginal man to death. The ‘justice’ in the criminal justice system should also be considered in the particularly high incarceration rates of Indigenous women, or of Aboriginal people in general, which is significantly higher than blacks in Apartheid South Africa.

A white feminism that fails to redress the particular issues confronting Aboriginal women would fail, just as surely as an anti-racism that failed to address gender issues. And the issues of the privileged white woman are also surely different from the poor and working classes. A privileged woman may be distressed by her inability to live up to impossible demands of appearance peddled in popular culture. There are other issues faced by less fortunate women, without wishing in way to diminish the significance of either. It is to suggest that creating a more just society should be the goal, and this goal should not face narrowly circumscribed limits.

I think these issues can only be understood by more of us listening to angry feminists. We must be willing to learn from those who say things that confront us. I understand the view that feminism should not seek to dismiss or alienate men. In my view, feminism, in my understanding, does not, and the very best of it seeks to understand what gender roles and patriarchy mean for men. Simone de Beauvoir was a brilliant feminist intellectual. In her enormous tome The Second Sex she wrote about women being forced to be housewives – and then conceptualised what this mean to men.

If he seems to be the victim, it is because his burdens are most evident: woman is supported by him like a parasite; but a parasite is not a conquering master.

If it is asserted that men oppress women, the husband is indignant; he feels that he is the one who is oppressed – and he is; but the fact is that it is the masculine code, it is the society developed by the males and in their interest, that has established woman’s situation in a form that is at present a source of torment for both sexes.

It is for their common welfare that the situation must be altered by prohibiting marriage as a ‘career’ for woman. Men who declare themselves antifeminists, on the ground that ‘women are already bad enough as it is,’ are not too logical; it is precisely because marriage makes women into ‘praying mantises’, ‘leeches,’ ‘poisonous’ creatures, and so on, that it is necessary to transform marriage, and, in consequence, the condition of women in general. Woman leans heavily upon man because she is not allowed to rely on herself; he will free himself in freeing her – that is to say, in giving her something to do in the world.

One cannot expect another de Beauvoir. One can hope that more will try to conceptualise feminism in a way that is not just talking to women, about women, but that also talks about men, and also to men. In Anti-Semite and Jew, Sartre wrote:

Richard Wright, the Negro writer, said recently: ‘There is no Negro problem in the United States, there is only a White problem.’ In the same way, we must say that anti-Semitism is not a Jewish problem; it is our problem. … it is not up to the Jews first of all to form a militant league against anti-Semitism; it is up to us.

I would perhaps go a bit less far: feminism is not just an issue for women. It is our problem too. And perhaps if we got angrier about it a little more, fewer women would need to.

Originally published at Social Scapegoat.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate.

Michael Brull is a columnist at New Matilda. He’s written for other publications including Fairfax, the Guardian, Crikey, Tracker and the Indigenous Law Bulletin.

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  2. I think what bothers me most is the idea that since feminists are angry, they’re somehow less worth listening to, that their passion detracts from their arguments. And, accompanying this, that male oppression and female objectification is so universal as to be normal, such that we don’t even discuss it any more.

    • You seem to be drawing on (for want of a better term) an Anglo-Saxon approach to emotion, equating passion with irrationality. That approach is flawed from a practical standpoint (it is possible to experience a cool, dispassionate perhaps detached anger) as well as a normative standpoint (why accept that anger/passion is 100% congruent with a lack of reason).

      Whilst I agree male oppression and female objectification seems to be so universal as to be almost invisible I disagree with the claim that neither is discussed anymore. On the contrary there appears to be a greater willingness to discuss these points. What is a pity is the lack of action and the lack of deep understanding amongst (mostly) males regarding both the points and the implications arising from them.

  3. Great Michael! And thanks for this contribution to the debate.

    I would argue though that the ‘angry feminist’ is a myth of mainstream media as are stereotypes that depict feminists as dykes, man-haters, unattractive and embittered.

    There are lots of feminists, who while committed to feminism, go about the work toward greater equality quietly and behind the scenes. But of course, there are plenty who are less quiet about the injustices still experienced by women, particularly those women who may not even see feminism as relevant to their lives.

    So while I don’t shy away from anger as being a reasonable response to the issues you outline so well here, the media (and I’m certainly not including you) are too eager to represent feminists as angry rather than passionate.

    Finally, if only more blokes could see that feminism is also good for them. Recognising, as feminism does, that gendered roles are socially constructed frees men from masculinist stereotypes and roles that are still damaging men (not to mention women and children)and encourages them to discover the nurturer within.

  4. Thanks Trish. My article was in response to a friend requesting feminist writers – but excluding “angry extremists”. I thought there was something to be said in their favour. I think it’s not just an issue of feminism – when people engage in political commentary, there are the sober people who are dispassionate, and the hysterical people who make sharp moral judgments and display emotion, which is considered undesirable. I think there’s something to be said to reacting appropriately not just in an intellectual sense, but emotionally. Sometimes, outrage and fury can be justified.

    I agree it’s a shame that not so many guys see feminism as something to their benefit. Guys being “tough” and not showing emotions is the most obvious, but certainly not the only way a sort of gender free feminism could liberate men and women from gender roles. I think part of the problem – as I suggested at the end – is that too often, feminism has been about women, and to women, at the expense of the conversation including men, except as oppressors. And part of the problem has been the types of self-identified feminists who I think alienate men. Dworkin and MacKinnon come to mind.

  5. Yes, all great points, Michael. And I totally agree that outrage and fury can be justified – I feel it almost every week when another woman and/or her children have been murdered – very little mainstream commentary draws all the dots together: something shocking is happening and yet we’re so used to it, it’s such a part of the everyday, only the most heinous examples cause comment.

    I also agree that feminists such as Dworkin too much painted men as the oppressor, yet I have concerns that equality for women while not excluding men from the project, must have feminists at its helm. This discussion by Bob Pease raises concerns that involving men in violence prevention, no matter how well meaning, can diminish women’s voices. His very reasoned argument is all the more important if we consider that violence and assault on women is one of the major barriers to equality. You’ll find the link here:http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/4505865

    • Gotta love Dworkin, though. Really. I mean, her book ‘Intercourse’ is outrageous – an amazing read – the kind where you feel you have to hold your hands over your ears and eyes screaming ‘nooooo’ but after, you’re just that bit more awake.

  6. I think it depends what you mean by feminism, and what sort of things you want to achieve. If men are going to stop beating and raping women, I’m not sure that the best way or the only way is for female dominance of the debate or campaign or whatever. It may be predictable that women would be more concerned about it than men – but in a society where men hold the levers of power, dominate the media and so on, it seems to me that ultimately it is men who have to change, and it may be that men are best positioned to effect change.

    But the paper looks interesting, and when I have time I’ll read it. My concern in my article was not specifically about men leading or dominating feminism – and I should say, I don’t consider a feminism solely devoted to women feminism adequate – but that what is called feminism in my view is social commentary about gender roles and so on, which too rarely conceptualises the issues broadly enough to include men, and too rarely even bothers to talk to them (us).

    • “… but in a society where men hold the levers of power, dominate the media and so on, it seems to me that ultimately it is men who have to change, and it may be that men are best positioned to effect change.”

      While I agree that men have to change the fact that men do hold the levers of power is the very reason women need to lead (not necessarily control) change.

  7. “And I totally agree that outrage and fury can be justified – I feel it almost every week when another woman and/or her children have been murdered” That’s a bit of a strange comment…how do you feel when another man has been murdered, given that in Australia men are 2.5 times more likely to be murdered than women? (…as detailed in the Australian Bureau of Statistics publication ‘Recorded Crime – Victims, Australia, 2009‘.)

  8. But James, these women are often killed by their partners or ex-partners and nearly one in three Australian women experience physical violence and almost one in five women experience sexual violence over their lifetime.

  9. The reason for your stat. James, is that men are far more likely to be brawling, etc. than women. In fact, the defense of ‘provocation’ came directly from the tendency of men to do just that: step outside and thump one another, often with fatal consequences. Further to this, the same defense was then used against women (who were dead) to get their husbands and partners out of long prison sentences after they’d murdered their spouses, which usually took place after years of abuse. You need to educate yourself more around gender issues before applying statistics in such general brushstrokes. But then, hey, maybe I’m just an angry feminist!

  10. On pondering my comment I realised I might not only be called ‘angry’ but ‘woolly-headed’. ‘Self-defense’ was the defense taken by men for having hit one another a little too hard, a defense which was not open to women who killed their partners after, most usually, years of physical abuse. ‘Provocation’ was used in the way I described it, as a defense to lower sentence times and charges for men and has only recently become more difficult to fall back on as an excuse for murder. Good post Michael.

  11. When a man kills another man, we don’t say, \well, he [the victim] had to take some responsibility as well, after all, he shouldn’t have been out at that hour, dressed like that.\

  12. Trish Bolton says:

    “But James, these women are often killed by their partners or ex-partners and nearly one in three Australian women experience physical violence and almost one in five women experience sexual violence over their lifetime.”

    I don’t think it’s especially relevant who you are murdered by, whether a partner or a stranger, but obviously being a victim of physical or sexual violence is an ordeal that society should strive to eradicate. And women are more likely to be victims of sexual assault, although men are more likely to be victims of physical assault. (…as detailed in the Australian Bureau of Statistics publication “Crime Victimisation, Australia, 2008-09“.)

    In relation to the statistic I mentioned, that in Australia men are 2.5 times more likely to be murdered than women, Finn says:

    “The reason for your stat. James, is that men are far more likely to be brawling, etc. than women. In fact, the defense of ‘self-defense’ [I edited out 'provocation'] came directly from the tendency of men to do just that: step outside and thump one another, often with fatal consequences.”

    Are you suggesting that men who are murdered are partly responsible for being murdered, since they must have stepped outside and started brawling, etc? If not, how is this relevant?

    Helen says:

    “When a man kills another man, we don’t say, \well, he [the victim] had to take some responsibility as well, after all, he shouldn’t have been out at that hour, dressed like that.\”

    I think some of the comments above do exactly this – for example, suggesting (with no evidence) that men who are murdered are partly responsible for being murdered, since they must have stepped outside and started brawling, etc.

    My response to Trish’s comment is essentially similar to how I would respond if someone said:

    “And I agree that outrage and fury can be justified – I feel it whenever another European is murdered in a terrorist attack”

    I imagine few people around here would say something like this, but my response would be: Huh? What about non-Europeans, who are more likely to be victims of terrorist attacks than Europeans? (And I definitely wouldn’t consider the response “But most of the perpetrators of terrorist attacks are non-Europeans, rather than Europeans” to in any way diminish the empathy I should feel for the predominantly non-European victims of terrorist attacks.)

    A comment like the above suggests a level of racism – that European victims of terrorist attacks are more worthy of empathy than non-European victims. And I think Trish’s comment suggests a similar level of prejudice – that women who are murdered are more worthy of empathy than men who are murdered. Surely some victims of violence are not more worthy of empathy than others.

    I’m probably making a mountain out of a molehill. More on topic, feminists, angry and otherwise, certainly have had a profound impact on my own discipline (sociology), for the better.

    • James, it seems to me that you are ignoring the enormous problem of intimate partner violence and its physical and emotional impacts on women of all ages. It is a problem that has been costed by the Productivity Commission and acknowledged at every level of government and by all political parties. Amnesty International Australia has called it an epidemic and there are huge numbers of reports put out by Vic Health http://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/Programs-and-Projects/Freedom-from-violence.aspx, ABS, government departments, local government and the list goes on.

      I think violence is appalling in all its forms including men beating up and killing each other. But imagine what it might be like to be a woman subject to the rages of her partner on sometimes a daily basis. The woman may not be able to leave because she is financially dependent and doesn’t want to break up the family and put herself and her children at risk of homelessness (the statistics show that women fleeing domestic violence make up the greater proportion of those who are homeless http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/homeless-and-invisible-the-broken-families-20081228-766g.html), because she feels sorry for him and keeps forgiving him or hopes he will change or because she fears, quite appropriately, that if she leaves him, he will murder her and or their children.

      So, please don’t tell me that men who engage in violence against each other is the same as men guilty of intimate partner violence.

      • To murder someone is a profound event – to deprive someone violently of everything they have and everything they will ever have. The profundity of the damage done to the victim of murder means, in my view, that considerations like who he or she was murdered by are secondary. There is a huge gender inequality in the likelihood of being murdered: in Australia men are vastly more likely to be murdered than women. The popularity of the view that a murder is less tragic if the victim is a man and more tragic if the victim is a woman sets the ideological context within which this gender inequality in the likelihood of being murdered exists and persists.

        • James, you have not addressed the context of intimate partner violence. It seems you hold your views in spite of the evidence. And speaking of evidence, who is it that holds the view that murder is less tragic if the victim is a man?

          • Hi, Trish. You continue to use intimate-partner violence as a substitute term for violence against women.

            It is true that women who suffer assaults/rapes are most likely to be victims of sexual partners (current or ex-), family members or friends, while males are usually assaulted/raped by strangers, acquantainces, colleagues, neighbours etc. But men nevertheless make up a non-trivial proportion of victims of IPV (20% is a lower bound in most studies).

            It’s also true that male victims of IPV are far less likely than women to die or suffer serious injury. Still, it’s not quite legit to speak as you have here.

    • Hi Nick, I’m not sure why it’s not correct to refer to intimate partner violence for that is what it is. However, I prefer ‘violence against women by men’. Naming it, leaves no doubt as to who is perpetrating the violence and who is suffering its impact.

      The statistics for violence against men by their female partners is tiny and is often a result of the violence a woman has endured over a long period of time. If you have stats that show otherwise I’d love to see them.

      • You seem to have misunderstood my first sentence. I was not objecting to use of the term intimate-partner violence, merely its use to mean “violence against women [by men].” That is not standard usage (see e.g http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/IPV_factsheet-a.pdf) and for none us, except Humpty Dumpty, do words mean what we want them to mean.

        It’s simply not true that “statistics for violence against men by their female partners is tiny”. Though the data vary, I’ve never seen figures that bear out your claim. For a quick example, see this from the US Department of Justice: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/ipvus.pdf

        Our check out any ABS assault statistics on relationship of offender to victim.

        Note that I’m not making any broader argumentative claims here on the nature of IPV (or even its relation to, say, unpaid domestic labour). I just don’t think the discussion is helped by avoidable imprecision.

        • The links and support you provide your argument are from the US so not useful in terms of this discussion. However, you are quite right that governments at federal and state level prefer not to mention men when discussing violence against women. Their unwillingness to name it is part of the
          problem..

  13. Helen, i get your point, essentially i agree with what you’re implying. but this comment is made a lot, i think it’s becoming a little desensitised. from a devil’s advocate perspective let me put an argument forth:

    women are or should be aware that some (or many) men are dangerous sexual predators. it’s more likely that you’ll get raped if you’re attractive, drunk, out late and wearing clothes that heighten your sexual appeal. Therefore, while it doesn’t make it alright for a man to rape a woman under any circumstances, is it not true that in reality, if the woman did not want to risk getting raped, she would not go out at night and get drunk wearing a thigh-high dress? she did choose to do so, and knowing the risk, does she not have a small portion of personal responsibility for what happened? as an analogy – if i cover myself in blood and go swimming in the amazon, it’s a lot more likely i’ll get eaten by piranhas…

    it really is in human nature for some men to sexually abuse women. it sucks, i know, and as a society we should be doing more to change this. my point is, although in theory a woman has, or should have the right to show as much leg as she wants to without fear, this is not the reality of the natural world and just as men do, women have a responsibility to anticipate this.

    • Will, if I were to take your argument seriously then women would not be safe to go swimming at the beach in bikinis.

      Men’s sexuality, or control of it, is not a woman’s responsibility. Women should be able to parade down the street naked or in whatever attire they like, get drunk and still feel safe.

      • you’re right, i agree. women SHOULD be able to flaunt their sexuality in whatever way they want and not have to worry about being abused. but that is not the reality and unless you are very naive, you should anticipate the danger of being abused if you parade down the street naked (if you’re a woman). it would be personally irresponsible to do so… it shouldn’t be, but it is. i was really replying to helen’s comment, questioning what i see as on over-used argument.

        note:still devil’s advocate.

    • ” is it not true that in reality, if the woman did not want to risk getting raped, she would not go out at night and get drunk wearing a thigh-high dress? she did choose to do so, and knowing the risk, does she not have a small portion of personal responsibility for what happened? ”

      Will – really? Jesus. I’m pretty sure the woman did not ‘want to risk getting raped’ whatever she was wearing. I am not sure it is even possible to ‘want to risk getting raped’ seeings as ‘wanting’ and ‘rape’ are the antithesis of one another. Knowing the risk – no, she has not even the smallest portion of personal responsibility for the perpetration of violent crime.

  14. on a completely irrelevant note – the overland blog clock hasn’t changed for daylight-savings, it’s still an hour slow… i’m leaving this comment at approximately 11:51 PM…

  15. I wanted to reply to other things, but just really want to reply to Will, then should do law study.

    When I was in high school, two friends were beaten up for being Jewish. A month or two later, I was walking to the train station wearing a shirt which was identifiably Jewish. But I was scared. I was afraid that I might get beaten up. It was actually a very hot day, but I wore a nondescript hoodie over my t-shirt, so that people wouldn’t see. Before I did so, I’d scrutinise people who walked by, and feel suspicious. If they glanced at my shirt, what were they thinking? Did I detect hostility?

    I got to the train, and found other people wearing Jewish stuff. They apparently weren’t scared. They were proud, unself-conscious. I found it remarkably empowering. I felt a wave of warmth for them – and I write this as someone about as alien to nationalism, patriotism and religion as is really possible.

    This seems like a long way to get to a roundabout point. (In fact, cos Overland gives me blog space, maybe I should reprint this as a blog. Anyway) My point is – who should we counsel to behave differently in these circumstances? Would we tell Jews that anti-Semitism is inevitable, and they shouldn’t publicly display their Jewishness?

    Or would we say that anti-Semitism is unacceptable? That we don’t want to live in a society where Jews are beaten up just because they are detected? Or do we instead adjust to anti-Semites and tell Jews to become invisible?

    It seems to me this is in many ways analogous to those who advise women to dress more conservatively, to not go outside at night or whatever. Yes, they may put themselves at risk by kissing a stranger they don’t want to have sex with. Just like Jews may put themselves at risk by publicly appearing Jewish. The problem is not women who dare act as though they had the same sexual needs as men. It is rapists, and racists. Our goal should be to create a society where women are free to act as they want. Telling women to behave is like telling gay people to go back in the closet because it will be easier for them. The Jews I saw on the train made me proud. I felt that there was no reason why I should have to live life differently to anyone else. Do Jews who identify publicly as Jews increase the risk of being attacked? Yes. But there is no constant public advocacy of the notion that Jews should not be who they are on account of it. Strangely, women are expected to adjust to a society where there is a much higher danger of them being raped.

    Besides this, this “advice” seems to me patronising. In my experience (and also judged statistically), women know much better than men the danger of them being raped. They don’t need wise, knowing men to warn them of the dangers of our sexist society. These wise knowing men would do a lot better to tell other men to stop treating women like shit.

    • michael, i appreciate your long, passionate and thorough reply. however i think you may have mistaken my position. i’m not giving advice, i stated i was acting as devil’s advocate, occupying the shoes of an opinion i don’t personally hold – as an experiment.

      my argument doesn’t in any way suggest that women should have to change their behaviour to avoid getting raped so that men can remain the same. the position i’m occupying still thinks it is society at fault here, ‘it sucks, i know, and as a society we should be doing more to change this’. though, as you suggest, it is really more men within society who are at fault.

      my point is that, within our society (which we all seem to agree here isn’t good enough, and i think we can safely assume it never will be good enough) the reality is that women are not safe. if i were a woman i would take into account the horrible nature of the men around me. if i were raped i would be of the opinion that i was wronged and abused unjustly, but if i had been swaggering around king’s cross in a mini-skirt on a friday night without a friend with me i would understand that what i did was a silly and personally irresponsible thing to do…

      now of course, i can’t possible know what i’d think if i wasn’t anyone other than myself, this is hypothetical and i hope you understand what i’m trying to imply – that while it SHOULDN’T be the responsibility of women to avoid being raped on a friday eve, in reality it partially is. it is worth attempting to change society to make this not happen, but at the moment it would be naive not to assume that this is how it works.

      • Will, you’re repeated protestations of ‘acting as a devil’s advocate’ strike me as disingenuous. Why espouse (repeatedly) a position you don’t hold? If you don’t believe it then why not also tear down the logic of it with your real opinion (which is very easily done).

        In the above post you have caricaturised a rape victim as ‘swaggering around king’s cross in a mini-skirt’ and then proceeded to call this victim ‘naive’ and ‘personally irresponsible’. How about a little compassion for survivors of rape and violence? Being raped is not a preventable crime like having an unchained bike stolen. It’s a violent crime that could lead to PTSD and a lifetime of fear and regret. How about thinking twice about casually painting a caricature of the naive and slutty rape victim? How about a little compassion for the real women’s lives you are describing?

        Also, what if you we take your story and take it further? What if the woman does EVERYTHING wrong and is wearing a short skirt and fishnets in Kings Cross and is a sex worker? How does her personal responsibility impact on the type of crime it is and who’s to blame if she gets raped?

        • why must one always argue for what they are convicted of? in my experience, the world isn’t black and white, there isn’t a ‘right’ and a ‘wrong’, i don’t personally believe any argument i put forth. the purpose of portraying an argument i don’t personally feel convicted to feel is to try and understand the issue better from other people’s responses (such as yours – thank you). i’m not trying to deflect responsibility for the argument i’m putting forth, i understand that it is MY argument, but just because i don’t ‘believe in it’ doesn’t make it disingenuous or any less valid. in-fact, for me it would be disingenuous to argue anything WITH a full conviction.

          nowhere do i suggest i don’t hold compassion for rape victims. i’m disappointed that you think so, so i’ll make it clear – in no way do i think women are at fault for being raped in any context and any who are i feel deep compassion for and detest those people who commit the rape. i attempted to imply that i held compassion by saying that the ‘caricature of a rape victim’ i portrayed was ‘wronged and abused unjustly’ but you seem to have missed this part… i was not painting a picture of a ‘real woman’, i was painting a picture of a hypothetical woman. and the picture i painted of a rape victim was thoughtful and within context, it wasn’t casual in any way. i feel a little offended in the way you’ve portrayed me as dispassionate, unsympathetic and disingenuous but i understand that your feelings are fueled by an admirable compassion for victims of rape and sexual abuse, i can respect that.

          my argument, contrary to ‘Being raped is not a preventable crime’ is that rape is, in a small way, preventable (in SOME cases). your last question is good, i’m glad you asked. but let’s take the added element of ‘sex worker’ out of there, that is entirely unnecessary.
          who’s to blame in this scenario i think lies in two places. in a broad sense – society. i think we can agree that it is society’s fault that women aren’t safe from being raped in whatever context. and it is predominately the male section of society who is responsible for this. in the actual case of a drunk woman, swaggering around king’s cross in a mini-skirt on a friday night without a friend, who unfortunately IS raped, i am arguing that it is both society’s fault, the rapists fault and in a small way the victims fault (WHICH IT SHOULDN’T BE!!!) that this happens. of course the rapists holds the greater amount of responsibility. however, within our imperfect and unjust society, the ‘reality’ is that if you behave as the above painted caricature (which is very rare) though you should and technically do have the right to behave that way, you are more likely than women behaving differently in different contexts to be raped. the right to behave above does not mean it is safe to act in this way and if you did not act like this (if you took more ‘personal responsibility’) you may not have been raped.

          do you see what i’m trying to say Jodie? i hope i don’t seem like such a wanker any more. and of course, what are your thoughts?

    • “Besides this, this “advice” seems to me patronising. In my experience (and also judged statistically), women know much better than men the danger of them being raped. They don’t need wise, knowing men to warn them of the dangers of our sexist society. These wise knowing men would do a lot better to tell other men to stop treating women like shit.”

      Right on!

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