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continuing comment reading in lawyers, guns, and money
children of dune - leto 1
I went back to read the comments in Lawyers, Guns, and Money: Further Thoughts from Anne Applebaum because it was sane and that was nice.

The comment, to me, is a surprisingly good expression of what makes this confusing to a lot of people, especially men.

Warning: mention and thoughts about the concept of rape.

I can't find a way to directly link to comments, so I'm reproducing it here, which includes text Yeah Yeah used in his response that is attributed to 'It' ('It's' comments are in italics):

And frankly, you may find it counterintuitive to think that something is good if you consent to and not if you don't it's pretty simple to me, and it shouldn't be that hard if you can empathisize with someone in that situation.

Not sure if that's intended as a backhanded insult or not, but taking it on faith...

Yes, we can understand it. It's still counterintuitive to immediately equate sex with crime. Which is why I said when people understand it as violence, it's much easier to resolve.

Example: If Bob says "I got a 30% pay raise at work" most people would intuit that as something positive. It's possible that it was actually something Bob found unpleasant - there could be reasons involved that would explain why. But the customary immediate intuition is "oh, that's a good thing".

The point is, our culture views rape as in its own category all its own, but that says something about us, not rape.

Agreed. Rape is made a disgrace and shame to the victim - something that can result in death of its own in extreme cases (honor killings, etc.). It instills mistrust and fear that sometimes doesn't go away in a lifetime. It's a terrible, terrible act.
Today, 12:51:38 PM

First--his example with Bob is hideous, but I'm assuming Yeah Yeah is a man, and he was working on the fly, because it would be quite hard to be more offensive while actually agreeing with the argument.

It's still counterintuitive to immediately equate sex with crime. Which is why I said when people understand it as violence, it's much easier to resolve.

That's probably the best single statement of male privilege; very, very few women hit puberty without knowing about not going down an alley alone at night, even when they aren't taught about sex itself. Or in fact, about alleys. You wouldn't really think that was possible, but trust me when I say, girls are taught this. We may be hazy on vaginas and penises, and sex still involves something that happens in beds somewhere but no idea what, but we know something will happen to us that will not to boys in our position.

I am saying when I was ten and I was dropped off at a party at a friend's house where only the father and two elder brothers were there in a very rural location. They asked about the mother and got a vague answer. An hour later, they picked me back up and took me home. I didn't know about sex in more than the vague mechanics and function; I also knew why they were afraid. There were three men (two were below eighteen but teenagers) and five young girls, and I knew even then that those were not odds my parents were willing to risk.

This is not an isolated incident in my childhood. And once we do have a working knowledge of sex, it's reinforced regularly. Which--and I've been thinking about this--I'm not sure boys are ever given an explicit--and I do mean explicit--explanation on sex that includes the idea that girls refuse.

[The thing that weirds me out is, they do understand the idea of "false rape allegation" fairly quickly. I can't really use Child to judge; he's been having personal space and consent lectures slowly gaining in sophistication since he started walking and thought all laps were his lap to lie on.]

I'm still thinking on his comment--and ignoring the example, because holy God, I see what he was doing and now that I think about it, it's kind of a fantastic example in a way from the perspective of someone who has never lived with rape as an inevitable thing to be guarded against. I'm trying to think of one from a woman's perspective now.

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Unfortunately, the impression I get is that too frequently the explanation that boys get about sex includes the points that A) "nice girls" will never openly consent to sex because only sluts give it up easily, so they'll say no even when they want to say yes, and/or that B) women don't really enjoy sex that much and always have to talked into it to keep their men happy. Which is to say, self-serving myths that serve to deny the existence of genuine female consent and blur the lines between outright rape and "mere" seduction. Which is why the victim's prior sexual history is to this day considered worthy of rehashing in the courtroom during a rape trial (proving that she wasn't a "nice girl" and therefore how much could she really have objected to one more penis?) and why some people tend to focus on the physical battering that may have been required to get the victim to submit when trying to wrap their minds around the concept of how much "harm" actually occurred.

This is very interesting to me. I've had a series of conversations with mr. muse over recent days about this issue, and he's baffled, too, that anyone cannot understand that no means no and that rape is by definition a violent act. So it's not all men who are so clueless, thank goodness. On the other hand, over the course of our life together we've talked a number of times about how at night I'm always aware of everyone on the street and how I'd never go to an ATM after dark; I was taught as a woman that I'm always going to be seen as a potential victim. It would never occur to him to worry about it.

In totally-and-yet-not-totally unrelated thoughts, the roommate is doing an independant study this semester on gender in Italian film, and we watched an extremely disturbing movie called The Unknown Woman.

Not to spoil too badly (although I suspect Italian-language indie films are not a high priority for most people! *g*) but there's a few scenes where the woman--who we learn was a prostitute--is teaching a young girl, maybe about six or seven, to stand up for herself. The woman is doing this by tying the girl up--she's nearly completely immobilized, bands around her body to the knee, in a way that we saw the ex-prostitute being bound before being raped in flashbacks--and then pushing her over, and yelling at her to get up. She does this on a bed at first, and then graduates to the floor, and there's a lot of really disturbing shots of the girl's head hitting the ground, squirming to get free, crying, sobbing (by both parties), "stop," etc.

At the end of the film, there's a scene in a schoolyard where the little girl is pushed down and the woman almost goes to help her--except she gets back up, and starts fighting back, yelling and slapping the boy who is tormenting her.

The roommate was appalled by this whole trope. I was almost impressed. Minus the child-abuse aspect of it [grimace] it was an intriguing way of giving a girl empowerment to stand up to attackers and to defend herself.

Sex and rape and violence. Yeah. They're a lot closer together, for women, than I think most men realize.

We may be hazy on vaginas and penises, and sex still involves something that happens in beds somewhere but no idea what, but we know something will happen to us that will not to boys in our position.

It's an interesting form of assumed/accepted risk, really. I remember reading an article about youth violence in the CBD here, and the stats were quite surprisingly high for young males -- I think it was 15-21, something like that -- being beaten/attacked as opposed to females of the same age (being attacked/beaten/raped). Now part of it might be a lower instance of reporting sexual attack, I'm willing to accept that the occurances might have been higher than the stats could actually verify with reports, but there was an interesting line on assumed risk.

That women are brought up with this awareness of being vulnerable, being a target, and are actively aware that avoiding this percieved risk is important. Girls don't walk down dark alleys at night, don't put themselves in this level of danger, and it's because the risk is publicised, is taught to them, and it's a danger that they guard against.

As opposed to young men, who walk around the city assuming that all will be well, assuming that they are effectly "safe" in any environment, and yet still get attacked. But it's a danger that isn't openly ackowledged, that isn't avoided, and it's a daner that shows in the different outlooks of the genders.

It's not strictly that women are a billionty times more vulnerable than men, a lot of it is that women are taught to fear the danger men represent while men are taught that they're safe from threat.

It's an interesting difference. It's one of the differences that makes me frown a little about the current crackdown on "youth violence in the CBD" because the cause of concern, the reason that everyone is up in arms about "the dangers to youth today" and why something has to be done about "the safety of our streets" is always reported as young men being beaten. Always. And you can't tell me that this violence is only happening to young men, that young women aren't in danger, but the thing that makes the public stand up and cry for action is that the streets aren't safe for males.

That they're not safe for females, well... that's not really the public's concern. *frowns*

I want to point out, too, that when girls DO walk down that dark alley by themselves and something happens, they often don't admit it. Because they 'should have known better' and it's therefore their fault. *fume*

Part of the problem, I think, in understanding rape as crime rather than sex (for some men) is that in the experience of a never-raped man, pretty much all his sex (if he's always been the penetrative partner) has always had to be consensual. From a purely mechanical perspective, it's pretty much a given that to penetrate, a guy has got to have *some* level of desire for the act to occur. Yes, I realize there are potential outliers, but by and large, if your average (straight, penetrative, never molested or raped) guy thinks of his sex life, consent is a given, and a necessity. Sex = the thing that happens after you're turned on enough for your dick to get hard, and almost necessarily results in an orgasm.

For women, however, even if you've never been raped or molested, if you've had any amount of penetrative sex in your life, chances are you understand that even within the set of fully consensual sex, there's a *wide* range of outcomes. Sex (we're talking Penis in vagina stuff) can be great and toe curling. Sex can be meh. Sex can be something you do regardless of whether or not your aroused, whether or not you have any intent of coming. Sex can be something that you do out of obligation or boredom or as a favor. Sex can be something that the other party completes satisfactorily, while you're left there slightly chafed and sticky and wondering if you missed the opening of this week's lost.

This may be a generalization, but for men, *speaking broadly*, penis-in-vagina sex is an act that a) requires at least a minimal level arousal to even *try* and b) all other things being equal, almost necessarily leads to orgasm on their part.

Even if you take force and violence and our generalized fear of assault that we get as women, and only consider consensual sex, the experience of sex for your average never-been-raped straight guy is going to encompass a very different set of data than for even your average never-been-raped girl. Our experience of consensual intercourse is almost necessarily going to encompass a much wider range of interest in and "success" (via orgasm) from the act at hand.

To sum up, your average man's experience of sex as an always-positive thing is understandable, given the average man's experience of sex is going to require agency and result in orgasm. For women, even taking unwanted sex out of the equation, we're likely to have experienced sex as something tolerated, something meh, something uncomfortable, something disappointing, in addition to something wanted and enjoyable. The idea of sex as not-good isn't some weird outlier.

Which is why I think guys might have a better time wrapping their heads around rape if they think of it less as sex and more as someone sticking something in you that you don't want. That assumption that "if you consent to it, it's good for you, if you don't consent, is not" rests on the premise that consensual sex is necessarily good sex. And for men, by and large, the completed act of consensual penetrative sex is guaranteed to meet some minimum standard of good where it's simply not for women.

Does that make any sense?

Most men don't realize that even when she knows him (or even if they just met) and it's consensual a woman has to take it on faith that the man in question, usually physically larger & stronger than she is, will not hurt her (by accident or with intent).

I feel like I should have some thoughts here but I just don't. I just... I don't. Nothing I can say, probably because that experience of sex is so entirely outside of my understanding I'm as unable to relate to Yeah Yeah as he is to me.

Also, who in the world looks at rape as being closer to consentual sex than to violence? That's just wrong, wtf.

Also, who in the world looks at rape as being closer to consentual sex than to violence?

Someone who doesn't understand how unwanted sexual activity itself can be construed as a violation and assumes that if she wasn't beaten bloody then it can't have been that bad for her. (I think svilleficrecs really nailed it by pointing out that women are much more likely to have had some really bad yet entirely consensual sex than men are.)

Yeah, I'm on top of the concept, it was more a "What the hell?", which is still pretty much what I've got.

I mentioned this to a group of people of mixed gender the other day and the guys couldn't believe someone said that, which was sort of hilarious really. Apparently that was outside the range of expected stupid on the topic.

Working with Svilleficrecs (very good) point about women have a view point of sex which encompasses a wider range of pleasant to unpleasant outcomes versus a man's view and the Bob example, you would want a counter-example which has a referent which men will recognize as more variable in actual expression. (although you could try to completely deny him orgasm one-fifth of the time and force him to wank off to get his orgasm another fifth of the time and maybe give him or more rounded appreciation of a women's view )

Very few folks I know would consider a 30% raise as a potentially unpleasant experience- which would tie that example back to Svilleficrec's point about male sexual experiences. However, its hard to think of an experience which is relatively universally regarded as having a range of outcomes. Some other acts, like eating, are highly contextual with regard to the pleasure derived. Eating your favorite food is highly pleasant when you are hungry, but can be meh if you are not and down right unpleasant if you are already full. Some activities like swimming may be similar (pleasant if its a hot day and you are full of energy, pretty damn unpleasant if its cold or you are already tired, and down right terrifying if you are forced to swim against your will).

Interesting point about male sexual experience and the wider range of pleasure outcomings in the typical woman's experience. Does it make me a bad person that I immediately thought of at least three possible ways to arrange for a more variable experience for any specific male, so he can better appreciate the other side of the equation .

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