This story is especially interesting in the context that our society tends to blame the victim for their own rape. This mentality creates an even more negative environment for people who have already suffered something very traumatic. A side effect of this prospective is a deadlock on actually preventing rape, a stalemate when catching criminals, and an impasse when treating victims. Now that the tables are turned, and we have a
strong, rape-educated, enforcement-officer man’s perspective we can recognize our flaws in thinking. Changing our point of view is not only more salubrious for the nation, but curative for the consequences of this terrible and persistent crime.
I have included some popular doctrines regarding rape, which I do not see as hyperbole. I wish these strong tenants, dogmas really, were embellished for effect! According to examples from the media, laws in affect, and my real-life experiences this is how people in the United States think of rape.
Pre-Rape common misconceptions that tenaciously and stagnantly stay in fashion:
Women should not dress a certain way (perceived as “easy” or “slutty”) if they don’t want trouble. Nothing too gaudy, cheap, showy, or flashy should ever be worn by a lady. And if a women chooses to dress that way she is also choosing the potential consequnce of getting raped. Women should anticipate danger and not put themselves in a situation where rape is possible. Females should be able to spot potential attackers and steer clear of them. If they are not prescient in this matter, they are too naive to be out at all, so they should stay at home, preferably chaperoned by a stronger, more worldly man. They should certainly not lose their wits by drinking or taking substances. Girls should never find themselves alone. If women don’t abide by these strict rules they are “asking for it.”
The creeds dealing with rape prevention are dangerous and gender specific, because it puts all of the emphasis on women. Really, they are invectives against half of the population. In order to not be raped women have to occlude men’s behavior. Not once, do the above views try to barricade the act of rape by regulating men’s behavior. These misconceptions are not a denunciation of the rapists themselves, nor are they a revilement of the act of rape. As it is written, the responsibility for rape-prevention lies with women. If rape is happening, it is because women are not doing what they should to obstruct it.
This article profiles a police officer who went to brunch at a pub with a group of
coworkers friends. He became intoxicated as the evening wore on. His friends left and he was enjoying himself so much that he stayed behind. The officer interacted with his future attacker, but never felt wary of him. He had no idea what the rapist was capable of. Later, the policeman was raped by this other patron of the pub.
Do we think about this situation differently than if this male police officer was a woman? If the officer was a female would we be told what she was wearing in the article? Maybe he was particularly tawdry that day. Why does it not matter to the editor of the piece since the victim turned out to be male? After reading this would we pass judgement that the female victim had a lot to drink? I know for a fact, readers would be screaming at the page if someone’s girlfriends left her alone in a strange pub while intoxicated–it just goes against girl-code. Since this is a man, do we even think about that? I would think that an officer trained in prevention of sexual assault would be the type of person to distinguish, know, and detect exactly what a would-be attacker would be like. He was not divinatory in the matter at all, and if HE had no notions of the future violence, how are women expected to know? I think our blame culture would react a lot differently if rape touched the lives of more (straight) men.
There is not time to flag after being a victim of rape. Any women who is truly raped would go directly from the scene of attack to the police station to report the incident. If the victim showers or cleanses herself it is because she has something to obscure. If the victim goes anywhere else, it is because she is not upset and therefore did not actually get raped. A woman who does not press charges right away just regrets a consensual sexual encounter–she is making the whole story up. No one is allowed time to dwindle into grief or slacken into shock. Even if a female does report the incident, you must scrutinize her accusations carefully. If she does not remember every detail,the tale seems opaque, or if her story is not consistent each time of telling it, even after many, many tellings she is probably lying. If a women does all of the above correctly, you still have to be suspicious of her motives and consider her overall character. She may just want attention, or she may just be a slut who actually wanted the sex.
Society calls for victims to act mechanically–even under the great stress of being violated. To ebb afterward is to try to thwart the truth. Again, women are the ones called into action. It is she who must not be apathetic to this crime. The rapist is not addressed is the post-rape misconceptions, and the female victim needs to act in a routine manner to resolve this unfortunate blemish. If the woman does not act automatically, or if a step in the process is wrong, it is her own fault if justice is not served. Even if the female victim does everything right, it is not likely a man actually perpetrated a crime without reason. It is her fault it happened. . . if it occurred at all.
This police officer could not remember how he got to the scene of the attack. After the rape, he did not perfunctorily arrest his attacker as he was warranted to do as an officer of the law. The victim also did not go to a police station for fear of being recognized–he went to a private clinic. Importantly, despite being on the other side of the rape investigation countless times, this police victim chose not to press charges because he was scared of the consequences, didn’t want to be victimized further, and just wanted to forget about the incident. Even when pressured by officious fellow police-officers to aid in an investigation, the police officer was obdurate about pressing charges against his attacker. Suddenly, his perspective changed from being motivated to put rapists in prison to preserving his own sense of self. In turn, his buddies at the police station wereunyielding about hassling him about working with investigators to get the rapist off the streets. They were too helpful to the point of meddlesome in their raped cohort’s healing process.
Do we think of this police officer as careless because he ended up at a strange man’s residence at the end of the night? Is the guy blamed in our minds because he got himself in that situation? As a reader do we think differently of a man that chooses not to report this crime than if it were a woman? This trained officer of the law, wanted to remain reticent about his attack because he found the consequences of letting the rapist go unpunished to be less severe than the consequences of the world knowing how he was raped. I think it is especially telling that an investigator of rape who knows the system well and has a close support group of experts would choose not to pursue an arrest. Something is terribly wrong when victims of serious crimes would rather remain laconic than face the scrutiny of “justice.” Obviously, if this is true, it means the enforcement and judicial systems are equivocal: Asking that victims come forward, yet giving them implicit signs to keep taciturn. Of course, such an ambiguous message is detrimental. Who is the system helping if it is not victims of rape?
The worst thing about the attitude towards rape in this country is that it sets rape up to be a natural inclination of men to be avoided by women. If our society is predispositioned to set rape up as something that women need to take the steps to avoid it removes responsibility from people with a penchant for sexual violence. It makes female members of the system control the situation without giving them any real authority to do so. Analyzing a male police officer and rape-prevention and correction specialist is valuable for precluding the deleterious point of view that rape is the victim’s own fault. We should be looking for ways to amend a flawed system and improve the environment for victims of rape. Becoming ossified in our views and sticking to what we know is not working. Ameliorating the problem of rape requires a change of heart for the way we think about the crime (and women) in the U.S.
- Slate Forgot That the One Common Factor in Rapes Are Rapists (theatlanticwire.com)
- College Men: Stop Getting Drunk (nymag.com)
- Sorry, Emily Yoffe: Blaming assault on women’s drinking is wrong, dangerous and tired (salon.com)