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I've just posted an essay over on Promiscuity Keepers, Some Thoughts on Ending Rape. Here's a teaser:

Recently, I started noticing references in my Twitter feed to a Twitter account called @EndingRape. The account belongs to a man named Richard Hart, who has a Web site and book called Keep Your Daughter Safe.

Now, I don’t think Richard Hart is a bad guy. I don’t think he’s evil or malicious. I think he probably sincerely believes that rape is a Bad Thing and he probably genuinely wants a world with less of it.

But his approach is deeply troubling, and in some cases even destructive, for a number of reasons.

Feel free to respond here or over there.


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 3rd, 2013 01:39 am (UTC)
I strongly disagree with you here, Franklin. And it especially bothers me because I also have problems the with things the guy suggests, but my problems are very different from yours, and in fact I disagree with you more than with him.
No matter how hard the society in general tries to address the causes of violent behaviour, they will never be fully addressed. Yes, that's right, I don't believe even hypothetically in a human society where violent crime is 0% (despite many SF novels I read that try to picture such a world). And no matter how hard you try to argue this, at least we will agree on one thing: this won't happen in our lifetime. So, given the fact that no matter how hard we all try, there will be rapists and murderers and robbers and whatnot here, in our lifetime -- how do we deal with them?
Your line of "his advice will just make other people get targeted" is, sorry, beyond ridiculous. Same reasoning can be applied to your advice to people about how not get their accounts hacked and malware installed. So you're telling people not to click on suspicious links in emails? You're not addressing the real problem! Why people send phishing emails in the first place?? What do you do to create a world where people won't try to scam each other? Why should it be the responsibility of the innocent users to be alert, knowledgable and avoid getting scammed? You're blaming the victims, Franklin!! Moreover, all your advice is about how not to get harmed yourself; but that just means someone else will get harmed instead! Even worse, even if *all* people follow your computer advice, it will only result in the attackers getting more and more sophisticated, resulting in the need of more and more knowledge to protect ourselves -- vicious cycle, no?
It's your exact logic, Franklin! It can be applied to all the world's problems, in fact. The pattern is this: "Some people are douchebags and will actively try to harm me. To what extent should I change my normal life to account for this fact?"
This general question is not at all easy, mind you. The answer is really personal to each one of us. But you can't just come and say "I shouldn't change my life at all, and moreover, nobody should, because the problem shouldn't be there in the first place!" That doesn't work, sorry. The problem exists. It's what it is. It's like: ideally, science should be able to prevent all diseases and just make our bodies a lot less feeble and fragile and stuff. But while they're trying to figure out how to do that -- it's a good idea to eat right and exercise. Right?
I think that the main confusion for you is the link between responsibility and blame. This is a very delicate thing. Your logic goes "The person only did X to prevent the bad thing from happening, but he could have done Y>X. Therefore, they are partially to blame for what happened!" That's where you are wrong, in my opinion. You can always do more. No matter what are we talking about -- prevent getting scammed, getting raped, getting sick, getting killed -- you could make your entire frigging life revolve around preventing that thing, and it still sometimes won't be enough. It's not about blame.
It really is about the cost-effectiveness of various protection layers; and more importantly, about freedom. It's a difficult and personal decision. But you can't look down on people who are making the choice to have the means available to them, if the time comes, to be that woman, or to enable those dear to them to be that woman. That just... sounds pretty shitty. Sorry.
May. 3rd, 2013 05:54 pm (UTC)
This general question is not at all easy, mind you. The answer is really personal to each one of us. But you can't just come and say "I shouldn't change my life at all, and moreover, nobody should, because the problem shouldn't be there in the first place!"

Of course it doesn't.

You seem to be coming from a position where you think I'm advocating that women don't take steps to keep themselves from harm's way. I'm not (and, for the record, I also lock my car doors, even though a person who wants into my car badly enough won't be deterred by that).

Instead, what I'm saying is that an approach that focuses only on what the victim can do, and ignores the other side of the equation, creates an environment that breeds victim blaming.

Especially with sexual assault. If a person is mugged and the muggers stand trial, the defense attorney won't attack the victim's clothes ("Well, you were walking down the street in a two thousand dollar suit, so you were OBVIOUSLY flaunting your wealth") or past behavior ("You gave charitable donations in 2011 and 2012, so you obviously give your money away; how can you prove you didn't willingly give it to the defendants?") but we do exactly those things to rape victims. Talking about "ending rape" and then focusing only on what the victim can do with nary a word about rape culture, or entitlement, or any of the other factor that leads to a society where rape is often not treated seriously as a crime, is harmful and disingenuous.

Now, some of the advice he offers ("keep your doors locked at night") is reasonable. Some of it is paranoid bullshit ("If you disembark from a bus etc, & see someone following you who was riding, quickly get to well-populated area and call the police," "It is required by law to have your registration, it doesn't have to be original Copy it, black-out the street address keep that 1," "If you run out of gas or break down at night, hide in some bushes or behind a tree until help arrives"). The thing that all this advice ignores, however, is few rapes are stranger rapes; nearly all rapes are committed by someone the victim knows, in which case this advice is about as worthless as a six-dollar bill.

I think that the main confusion for you is the link between responsibility and blame.

I think the main problem is that we live in a society in which rape culture is deeply embedded, and part of rape culture means being blind to that distinction--we blame and shame victims of sexual assault on a regular basis. Society does it, the media does it (thank you, CNN, for saying that alcohol "caused" the Steubenville rape), the police do it, victims do it to themselves.

Yes, it's a good idea not to walk alone on a dark street at night. Yes, it's a good idea not to take drinks from strangers. I'm not advocating against those things. I'm advocating against the idea that you can "end rape in America" by telling women they "should" do those things.
May. 3rd, 2013 06:11 pm (UTC)
Ah, okay, I think I understand: if the guy said things like "OK, this is not about ending rape, this is about reducing the probability that you will be targeted" and in addition sprinkled things like "Guys -- 'no' fucking means NO. Don't get cute with creative interpretations. You are at best being a douchebag, and at worst -- a rapist" -- then you'd be okay with that, right?

"Well, you were walking down the street in a two thousand dollar suit, so you were OBVIOUSLY flaunting your wealth") or past behavior ("You gave charitable donations in 2011 and 2012, so you obviously give your money away; how can you prove you didn't willingly give it to the defendants?"

Lol, I'm going to quote that. Although I must note that I heard the first part being said many times in all seriousness by police officers, and even posted on signs ("Headphones are a giveaway -- conceal your device" -- ever seen that one in a subway? If you are listening to an iPod, you're asking for it to be stolen, essentially).
May. 3rd, 2013 07:12 pm (UTC)
Right. A person whose goal is to "end rape in America" would, I think, be best advised to deal with the problem of rape not only by suggesting steps that women can take to prevent themselves from being victims (and I don't mean this bizarre "Never put your name on a mailbox" type advice--does he seriously think that a significant risk factor in rape is some guy walking down a suburban street looking for female-sounding names on mailboxes?) but by talking to men about creating a culture of consent, addressing stereotypes that paint rape victims as sluts, confronting victim-shaming, reaching out to law enforcement about the stereotypes that still linger there, addressing the attitude of entitlement that a lot of men still carry around with them (the correct answer to "when is a woman obligated to have sex with you?" is "never"), and talking about the "boys will be boys" mentality that excuses sexual assault.

If he would do those things, I'd be all for it.

I also have a minor issue with the title of his book and the way he tends to frame things on his Web site. His book isn't called "How to end rape" or even "How to protect yourself from rape," it's called "Keeping your daughters safe." To me, that suggests a mentality that preventing rape is something that men do by telling women how to act--it's about protecting your property, not empowering women.
May. 3rd, 2013 01:56 am (UTC)
Yes. His writing is indicative of the same condition at least one politician has recently exhibited, wherein he was anti-gay marriage until his son came out. Then, of course, he cried and had some self-examination and decided that if his son was gay, well, then, he had to support gay rights. But all of those other millions of people other than his son? Didn't give a flying fuck about 'em, apparently. Aside from that, his ideas DO lead to victim blaming. If he can't see that, then maybe he should step off the stage for a bit and let some other anti-rape advocates do the talking. He might learn a thing or ten.

That said, having read the above person's comment, some of what they're saying also rings true. I think the real problem here is that the original author you're criticizing is focusing solely on what he thinks people should do to avoid becoming victims, rather than also speaking to potential attackers as well. Perhaps if he broadened his audience, his advice wouldn't come off so badly. Speaking for myself, I've been in some situations this author would have told me to avoid - being of the female sex myself, and therefore more likely to be a target - such as walking alone on a city street late at night or in the wee hours of the morning, and not exactly being inconspicuous. Or such as talking to strangers, or what-have-you. Some of the situations even turned sketchy. One drunk stranger followed me back to my dorm room, yammering at me the whole way, and tried to convince me to invite me up to his room. A few years later, a much younger stranger walked out of his house, saw me on the sidewalk going up the hill, and immediately fell into step beside me, striking up a random conversation which was already creepy and turned creepier the moment he tried to find out where I lived and wanted to spend the night with me. Was it my fault these guys had no sense of boundaries? No. Was it my fault that they were predatory? No. Should I probably have taken a friend or someone else with me so I wasn't alone? Yeah, that probably would have been a good idea. Should I not have been out walking in the dark so late at night those times? Again, yeah. But then again, there's a whole movement called "Take Back the Night" for a reason. It's certainly a mixed bag of issues. I'd like to see the author post something like, "A woman by herself is not an invitation," or "'No' means 'no.'"

Edited at 2013-05-03 02:08 am (UTC)
May. 3rd, 2013 04:39 am (UTC)
Taken individually, most of the posts of which Tacit posted screen shots aren't exactly bad advice - something along the lines of lock your doors to avoid theft. That said, you hit it dead on when you say that "his ideas DO lead to victim blaming." Someone who is robbed after they fail to lock the doors of their home won't face police asking them "Are you sure you didn't just let this guy have your stuff?" or accusations on a witness stand that they were leading the robber on by having such a nice house. (I also really doubt that a moronic politician would say something about "legitimate burglary.") As a whole, those posts do reek mightily of blaming the victim.

Edited at 2013-05-03 04:40 am (UTC)
May. 3rd, 2013 03:46 pm (UTC)
You hit it pretty much on the nail. In fact, its' been my experience both personal and as a crisis counselor that the number one reason women dont come out about a rape is exactly because we're still focusing on 'what could you have done to prevent this'. So yes, while it is in general a good idea for ANYONE to be aware of their surroundings, by specifically phrasing it as 'how not to get raped - women, do x' you inevitably get that flipside of 'well, arent I stupid. I trusted my neighborhood to be safe, so even though I've been jogging for years by myself without harm - well, I should have known better.' Despite what some of the other posters have said, unlike with other crimes where we can make generalizations (eg. be aware of your surroundings) we don't quite hammer it in of 'you shoulds' - while yes, we might think someone who was walking down in harlem with their wallet open checking how much money they have is a stupid idea, we still prosecute the mugger and dont go easier on them just because the vic didn't use their best judgement. The same is not true for rapes - we essentially do not prosecute crimes unless we can eliminate the majority of 'you shoulds'. For example, if she was drunk? If she dated him? Unless there is clear evidence of a struggle, it's by and large going to get dismissed. That's what makes this article so terrible - its just reinforcing that concept.
May. 3rd, 2013 08:25 pm (UTC)
I'm just curious, but would you have the same objection if this was about mugging, or armed robbery? How about car theft? I give him credit. None of his suggestions involved slut shaming, or blaming the victim. He didn't talk about the way a woman dresses, or things she might do to signal her availability to potential rapists.

Instead, he gave some real and practical tips about staying alert, and avoiding areas that might be favored by rapists (or criminals in general, really). A few of them have a gender-bias, but let's be honest, rape has a gender bias, and (I hate to keep repeating myself) but so does violent crime in general. Women are much more likely than men to be assaulted, molested, or raped.

I'm not saying that's OK. I'm saying this is a cold hard fact, and we shouldn't ignore it when addressing the issue. I don't have time for a more lengthy response here, but we need to be honest with ourselves.

Yes, we absolutely need to put more focus on the rapists. We need to educate our boys and young men about consent, and teach them better how to respect women. Sadly, though, that will only work with some potential rapists. One can hope, optimistically, that it will reacg most of them. Some, and it really saddens me to say this, cannot be reached. They will not be educated. They are fucked up sociopaths who will take use any opportunity available to take advantage of others. As a society, we all (and this includes women) need to be aware of that, and we need to take precautions.
May. 3rd, 2013 08:40 pm (UTC)
If someone were to talk about mugging or armed robbery only in terms of what the victim should do to avoid it, yes.

And it's important to realize that mugging and armed robbery are in fundamental ways not like sexual assault. We don't have a culture that blames mugging victims for their crimes. We don't have a legal system where a defense attorney can bring up a mugging victim's past charitable contributions to make the jury think that perhaps it wasn't really a mugging--perhaps it was a donation that the victim later had second thoughts about. We don't have politicians talking about "legitimate armed robbery."

I'm also not so sure I'd call his tips "real and practical." Have you read through his Twitter feed? "Do not use any online dating service that does not require a credit card." "Telling predators "Don't Rape" is like telling drug addicts, "Oh, just don't use drugs."" "Do not enter chat rooms with questionable titles or adult content." "Do not approach your vehicle if a paneled van or other large vehicle with darkly tinted windows is parked next to it." At what point do these stop becoming about preventing a statistically meaningful number of rapes, and start becoming about living in fear?

Finally, his Web site has a section called "Could this have been prevented?" Each entry in this section talks about the details of a real-life rape, then goes into what the woman should have done to prevent it. That may not be direct victim-blaming, but I think it definitely opens the door to it.

Edited at 2013-05-03 08:40 pm (UTC)
May. 3rd, 2013 11:52 pm (UTC)
He lives in a world in which rapists are lurking in dark alleys waiting to pounce on the isolated, slow, or otherwise less protected (the low-hanging fruit analogy). Unfortunately, that's not an accurate picture of rape or rapists in this country, and there really is more than one type of rapist (and thus more than one type of response needed to the problem of rape). As the commenter who pointed out that some rape is opportunistic said, there are people who would never attack a stranger in an alley but who would think absolutely nothing of forcing themselves on a passed-out person at a party or on someone they are in a relationship with. If one simply must tweet in an effort to reduce rape (at least in one's own monkeysphere), it makes less sense to focus on things like mailboxes (really?!) and more on creating a space in which sane people can open their mouths to their peer groups, to raise these issues in plain old everyday discourse, in short to do whatever is within one's power to help advance the discussion such that a victim of rape is no more shamed in speaking of it than of theft, armed robbery, or home invasion. A lot of nuances are being missed in the twitter feed.

I guess one of my points is that, while I think the guy probably does mean well, the advice is paternalistic and paints a not-very-accurate picture of rape in this country. He states in his blog that only 20% of sexual assaults are essentially "stranger rape" and acknowledges a number of other things that make his efforts, overall, a bit more palatable (and make him seem a little better-informed than his tweets alone do). He certainly convinces me that he means well, but that doesn't and shouldn't make his efforts beyond critique. But twitter is a shitty vehicle for anything but bumperstickers and blog titles. And at least one of the fundamental problems underlying the mindset fueling his efforts is also sketched in his blog - his response to the woman who talked about rape fantasies. He misses the point spectacularly with that one, and loses a ripe opportunity to talk about the difference between fantasy and reality and about the role of power and, well, about a lot of things. He also presents himself as a better-informed (male) elder who clued that clueless little (female) thing right up by coming up behind her and whispering in her ear (to which, ewww). I'm sure he didn't mean to shame her, but *his response completely misses the point.* He heard "I have fantasized about being raped" as "I would like to actually experience being the victim of a sexual assault." That's a big freakin' problem. So is the equation of rapists with drug addicts, but I'll leave that one for another day :-)

May. 4th, 2013 03:49 am (UTC)
I didn't look at his web site. I commented only based on the examples you provided. Honestly, those weren't as convincing as the examples you shared in your response.

I do see what you're getting at, Individually, some of his tips make sense. But taken as a whole, you're right. He's not really helping women to be safer. The section you mentioned at the end sounds horrific. The way you described it sounds like a clear case of victim-blaming to me.
May. 4th, 2013 02:32 am (UTC)
So you have something personal about the author, big deal. I going to give you credit and say that if it isn't personal it's some other reason that goes unspoken that couldn't possibly be related to a metaphorical butting of heads or bruised ego. I haven't read his essy, pamphlet, tweets or whatever it is under the title of protecting your daughters, but if you believe your review of his assertions accurately describe his intent you are crazy. I guess it could be considered a jab at him as part of on ongoing or previously lost debate, but if one can tell you are that far off from the point the author was attempting to make, without even reading it, you probably could have chosen a better way to belittle the author or even just the approach in general if you deny any personal friction associated.

Come on Franklin, you do speak French don't you?

~Clustit de Dirt
May. 4th, 2013 06:33 am (UTC)
Sorry to disappoint; I've never encountered him before.
May. 4th, 2013 10:23 am (UTC)
"...if one can tell you are that far off from the point the author was attempting to make, without even reading it.."

Really? If one can arrive at conclusions, while operating from a position of total ignorance, one should regard those conclusions as suspect.

Come on anon, you speak latin don't you: argumentum ad hominim et ad ignorantiam

Edited at 2013-05-04 10:23 am (UTC)
May. 4th, 2013 05:05 pm (UTC)
Not that I'm a fan of Facebook, but I want a "like" button for your response.
Dusty Hu
May. 4th, 2013 06:39 pm (UTC)
It seems to me that attacking an author because the title of his web site is something that realistically won't happen, who wrote a book which sounds like a brainstorm of ideas because he likely witnessed the aftermath of rape (I guaranty each one of US knows at least one woman who has been raped, more than likely two or three since it is just barely being fully witnessed as a crime) and Frank has the nerve to make the statements he did, and I am the one who is ignorant?


I will buy the book, and if the review is not a retaliation for not especially liking the way Franklin discusses his rape play, and then commenting about it not long after with an air of smug, and who knows, he did say something about the number of women that contacted him after said post, but strangely it was the men who were upset, or something like that. I find it hard to believe that any books that contain tips on how to avoiding what he believed sounded like a higher risk of being attacked, how does detract for rape prevention?

Unless Frank is leaving some key aspects of the book out, I don't see why he would choose to attack a book that is as described. Maybe I am wrong, we will see.
Dusty Hu
May. 4th, 2013 06:43 pm (UTC)
whoops typo, should have been "since it is just recently began to be recognized for the vicious crime it is" my comment I accidentally wrote witnessed

and cross out "how to"
Dusty Hu
May. 4th, 2013 09:58 pm (UTC)
Oh, Ok, I see it now, at first I thought, you know what, I didn't read it, and just because poly veaux Frankles talks a whole lot of smack everywhere else, he's probably doing it again here and taking tips at how not to inadvertantly put yourself in a position that a male way use against you. I just saw three reviews by the usual suspects, I am surprised they find any time at all as busy as other campaigns like making it look as if the majority of the world holds the position of NRA. It wouldn't only take a quick second to spread some vitriole on another subject, since I have all these sock-puppet accounts anyway, might as well...

The thing is, even if every conclusion you drew were 100% accurate, it still wouldn't lead to the crap you accuse that "mentality" of producing. If it were as simple as educating men and boys (let's face it, a rapist ain't much of man if he can't get permission to fuck somebody, but you do it anyway) do you really think we would be here in 2013 and have some comedian be stupid enough to justify a rape joke after a woman was appalled? And the backlash of the dudes supporters who scream first amendment rights, plus it's just comedy, it's supposed to funny, everyone knows that.

We still have a huge problem, people still don't get it, and I am not saying your evil or would rape without explicit consent just because your role play a rape scene and like it. But attacking an author in this way, because they have chosen to go the route of taking precaution because it is obvious as hell there will always be a pack of idiot males who just just don't get it. And if the female profiles really are words typed by a female, that only means the world may be getting worse.

After seeing all the crap posted all over this guy's book in reviews, I honestly wish I had jumped the gun, that I was the ignorant one, that upon reading Hart's book I would find some pigheaded male who truly did blame women. There is a world of difference between the male who says what does a woman expect, she left the building after dark without being escorted by the security guard, and why should anybody cry a tear for her? she should have known better.

that is completely different from the mentality of, holy shit men still just don't get it, this is fucking scary. And as I see it, this attitude towards those who see it like this you are attacking. I can honestly say that you don't sound like you are contributing to the solution, in fact your attitude sounds like part of the problem. And I was the idiot who read through another post like an idiot. Luckily I can I won't be an idiot and read here anymore, which should ring as good riddence to you, you really are an asshole
May. 19th, 2013 01:31 pm (UTC)
I'm going to throw my buck fifty in here.

I was raised under these sorts of ideas, that girls should do things (and avoid doing other things) in order to avoid being raped. Actually, the way I was raised it was a constant stream of "If you don't listen to me, you'll be kidnapped, raped, murdered and we MIGHT find your body in a ditch if we ever find it at all!"

Those concepts become truly bizarre when you add in that my mother was a product of the early 60's and never experienced rape or even came close to it. She credited her not having been raped with all these things she did, and always had a dose of "if you're not in the wrong places and doing the wrong things, you'll be fine" on hand.

I didn't go out at night alone. I locked the doors at all times on the house. I avoided stairwells if they weren't well-lit. (talk about anxiety when I started college?) I walked down streets in broad daylight absolutely terrified of EVERYONE around me. I even, more than once, ducked into a local business to "get away" from someone who was "following" me, only to find out that they were just going to the same store I was going to and probably didn't have a clue that I was aware they existed. I've even been guilty of calling the cops because I thought I was being followed.

Stop for a sec and think about how much fear that is. Think about having that fear EVERY time you left your house, or even answered your door.

To this day I have social anxiety and being out in areas where there are lots of people still triggers the physical fear response ... and I'm 41.

The breaking point for me was one night when the moon was gorgeous and full, the weather was flawless, and I was at home alone. I was 26. I'd never gone out of the house after dark except to go to and from a car, and rarely, if ever, alone. I went out on my porch, then the sidewalk, then the parkinglot, and then I went back, locked the house up and went out for a walk that lasted until sunrise.

I didn't get raped, kidnapped or murdered. What I got was set free.

True enough, we all have to take some responsibility for our safety. Lock the car, be aware of your surroundings, don't let every random stranger into your home, and so on, these are all good things to do. To teach girls, as they're growing, that the world is a place where ANYONE at ANY TIME could suddenly grab you, run off with you against your will, torture, beat, rape and then murder you (or sell you into slavery, or keep you locked in a basement, or... or...) is patently abusive, IMO.

What's wrong with teaching girls AND boys, "There are some screwed up people in this world. Some of them might try to hurt you. So, Keep your eyes open and if they ever do, here's how you defend yourself and here's how you help someone else in trouble." ???

Having been raised in terror of the world, it seems to me a far better way to do things is to say "Yes, be safe, and when some sheisty bastard tries to violate you, kick some ass."
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