Don’t be that anti-rape campaign

Editor’s Note: This is the transcript of the video by Karen Straughan that AVfM published here a few days ago. We note again that Karen often goes off-page when performing her videos and so there may be small differences between the two versions. Additionally, the editors at AVfM have added some links to the events that Karen describes herein.

Okay, it’s been a crazy week, for sure.

I know I don’t have to inform many people of the frothy-with-outrage turd that hit the media fan middle of last week, when a Women’s Studies professor, among others, took offence to some posters my brothers-in-arms dared to put up on the University of Alberta campus.

The posters were a parody/criticism of the popular “Don’t Be That Guy” poster campaign, which reminds men it’s wrong and a crime to put your penis in girls who are so drunk they’ve passed out or are otherwise unable to resist. Men’s Rights Edmonton’s posters aimed a different message at a different type of criminal–women who make false rape accusations–admonishing women to “Don’t Be That Girl”.

Women’s Studies Professor Lise Gotell claimed that our posters are “rape apology”. I have no idea how a poster raising awareness of some situations where an accusation is made but no rape has occurred is rape apology. If no rape occurred, there is no rape to apologize or make excuses for.

Other feminists, politically correct politicians and slaves to their reptilian brains claimed the campaign “blames victims for their rapes”. Um, guys, in a false accusation, there is no rape victim to blame, only a false accuser. The ACTUAL victim of a false accusation is the person accused.

Karen Smith, a sexual assault advocate/counsellor emphasized how brave a victim has to be to go to strangers and have them physically and mentally probe you about things that happened to the most intimate parts of your body, which is certainly true. What does not follow is her assertion that that’s why people “just don’t lie” about rape.

Well, Ms. Smith, setting aside the fact that according to the police, at least 1-2% of the women who engage the process clearly do lie about rape, well, if nothing bad had happened to the most intimate parts of your body–that is, if there was no rape–the process would be a very different experience, wouldn’t it? Ms. Smith seems so obsessed with the experiences of victims, she is unable to detach the victim experience from that of a non-victim. She actually seems to believe non-victims would feel all the same things when going through the process that victims do, which really makes me wonder.

For a malicious false accuser, the rape kit would be no different from a pap-smear and pelvic exam, something most women submit to on a regular basis. In fact, given the reason for the physical exam, I would hazard to guess a rape kit would be less brusque and more gentle than a yearly physical. For a malicious false accuser, the interviews with police would be little more than an exercise in amateur theater. Seriously, does Ms. Smith think that every actress who portrays a rape victim on Law and Order experiences the simulated “gruelling process” the way a real victim experiences the real thing? If they did, how would producers ever find enough actresses willing to take those roles?

Other types of false accusers would experience the process yet other ways. For the narcissistic accuser who makes a false complaint for attention, she will be experiencing it the way a sufferer of Münchausen syndrome experiences unnecessary medical testing–with a sick thrill. For the false accuser who is covering up an infidelity or explaining away an STD [Sexually Transmitted Disease] or pregnancy, the process will be experienced as the unpleasant but necessary means to solve a bigger problem.

Ms. Smith’s faulty logic is what happens when you spend your entire life looking at only one problem, studying only one phenomenon from only one angle to the exclusion of everything else, until you reach a point where you cram all experiences into one narrow model.

“It just doesn’t happen,” she insists. Because the process for real victims is so gruelling.

Perhaps Karen Smith needs to talk to Soner Yasa, an Edmonton cab driver falsely accused of sexual assault in 2006 by 4 female passengers out clubbing. Their reason for making the accusation? Yasa had told one of them to put out her cigarette, as smoking in taxi cabs is illegal. They then demanded to be dropped off, and refused to pay the $13 cab fare. When Yasa protested, they called their friends and told them Yasa had sexually assaulted them. The cabbie called police when a mob began to form, and the women repeated their accusation to the responding officer, who filed a report on the incident.

But what do you know? Yasa had a camera installed in his cab, which had recorded the entire trip, and provided incontrovertible evidence that the women had made up the accusation out of whole cloth.

Why would a woman lie about rape to police, wonders Karen Smith? To save $13 bucks, apparently.

Or because a man threw a flower at her; because she was bored; to divert her parents’ attention from her failing grades; because a man she’d had a one-off a couple of weeks before forgot her name when they ran into each other; to convince her husband to move to a better neighborhood; because she didn’t want to pay for a cab and knew the police would drive her home; so the police wouldn’t drop her off at the psychiatric ward again; because she didn’t want to admit to her boyfriend that she’d spent the night cheating on him with three men.

A lesbian activist in the U.S. carved Christian symbols into her own body and claimed three white, Christian men had broken into her home, assaulted, tortured and raped her. Irony of ironies, she staged the attack to draw attention to the cause of fighting homophobia and violence against women.

For a woman willing to carve her own body up to make a martyr of herself, is the gruelling nature of the process of reporting really going to be a deterrent? Is it, when a different false accuser is prepared to engage this gruelling process just to get a free lift home, or to get out of paying $13.

One of the ladies who accused Soder Yasa was kind enough to phone police the next morning to apologize for the trouble and to assure them that none of the women were planning on going through the “gruelling process” of pursuing a sexual assault charge against Yasa. Hah!

Cream on the cake? The police refused to pursue charges against the women for making a false accusation, despite Yasa’s urging, despite incontrovertible proof they were lying, and despite the fact that that evidence was all that saved HIM from having to go through his own “gruelling process”–the process of defending himself not just to the justice system, but to friends, family, neighbors and present and future employers.

In light of that, I’d be very interested to know how the Edmonton Police Service classifies a false complaint. Would Yasa’s case fall into that 1 or 2% of sexual assault complaints where evidence of falsity is so obvious, the police trip over it while looking for evidence of veracity? Or was it not even counted because the women never filed an official complaint of sexual assault, and it was never passed on to a dedicated sex assault investigator?

I wonder, too, how Karen Smith, victim advocate, thinks a rape victim might feel or react if police said to her, “Well, sure we know he raped you. We have air-tight evidence on video. But we think pursuing a prosecution would send too troubling a message to victims of other crimes, so yeah. We’re just going to let it drop.” Because that’s exactly the mentality behind the Edmonton Police’s refusal to press charges in Yasa’s case.

City councillor and mayoral hopeful Don Iveson called the “Don’t Be That Girl” posters “morally indefensible”. Um…explain how? Please. Because the ONLY reason I can think of that our posters are morally indefensible is the same reason the original ones are–that it associates the behavior of a small percentage of a group of people to the group itself. The only difference being that men are a much higher percentage of rape victims and women a much higher percentage of perpetrators than the original posters would indicate, while false rape accusations are a predominantly female phenomenon. Even if our posters are as morally indefensible as the originals, at least they’re accurate.

The Edmonton Police Service said the posters “demeaned and belittled” rape victims. You know what, EPS? I’ve talked to a few rape victims, and if there’s one person they typically hate almost as much as a rapist, it’s a false rape accuser. Women who make false accusations–who appropriate the horrible thing that some unfortunate women experience, and exploit that horrible thing to get out of paying $13–THOSE are the people demeaning and belittling the experiences of rape victims. And by extension, a justice system that refuses to punish women who lie about rape is demeaning and belittling the experiences of rape victims, and allowing false accusers to damage the credibility of every legitimate victim without any accountability for the harm they do. And it demeans and belittles a justice system that is supposed to protect ALL victims, including victims of false accusations.

Pretending women never lie about rape is not only dishonest, it sends a despicable message to victims. “Women never lie about rape,” tells victims they should always be believed, on the spot, and therefore the normal investigative process is a revictimization rather than a necessary evil. It tells them that when the police ask questions they have to ask, to ferret out details, detect inconsistencies and test the veracity of the claim, it’s not because some women lie and investigators are performing due diligence, but because the police are intentionally making the process more difficult than it has to be, and obviously don’t want to help them.

As for the real reason everyone involved lost their shit over these posters, I personally think it’s a reflection of the age-old double standard. There is no social taboo against attacking men, so it’s okay to imply that without constant reminding, ordinary guys will just go around raping left, right and center because they’re too stupid to understand what consent is, or they’re so sex-obsessed they’ll be interested in sex with a woman whose physical state is that of a half-inflated sex-doll, only with the bonus feature of being able to puke all over him.

In fact, because of the double standard, this message is lauded high and low as a positive one.

But apply the exact same reasoning and method to remind women that making a false rape accusation is a crime, and people act like you’ve just tossed a kitten in a blender and hit frappe. You are not allowed to even acknowledge the small percentage of women who dishonestly and callously exploit society’s justifiable contempt for men who rape, for revenge, an alibi or attention. Any acknowledgement that some small percentage of women are shitty enough to lie about rape is translated as an attack on all women, especially rape victims. The very fact that some people have interpreted the posters as saying that all rape accusations are false is a silent condemnation of the originals as saying that all men would rape if you only just forget to remind them not to every 15 minutes.

As for the legitimacy of our campaign–it’s a legitimate criticism of that double standard, and has hopefully led to a lot more public criticism of another double standard–how the system treats crime depending on the sex of the victim. I mean, heck, what’s the problem with sacrificing a cab driver or some other penis-bearing schmuck here and there by denying them justice and refusing to hold false accusers accountable (or even acknowledge they exist), if there’s even the tiniest chance it might convince more women to report their rapes? It might destroy a few men’s lives, but if there’s any chance at all that it will help a few women, then it’s all evened out.

And frankly, while it may arguably be that people differ on what they think of as sexual assault, EVERYONE knows that the thing called sexual assault, however defined, is a crime. But judging by the outcome of the Soder Yasa case, even the police don’t know making a false complaint of rape is a crime. And judging by the female passengers’ very generous decision to not charge the cab driver with sexual assault after video evidence exonerated him and IMPLICATED THEM, there are plenty of women who apparently don’t realize it’s a crime, either.

Anyway. This entire kerfuffle has got me thinking more about the “don’t be that guy” campaign, and all the reasons I believe it’s not the “positive message” its proponents believe it is. Not even for women.

People who are familiar with me will know why “don’t be that guy” is a negative message for men. It paints all men as potential sexual predators. It smears all men with the stain of a behavior confined to a small percentage of men and women, and associates masculinity, rather than narcissism and sociopathy, with rape.

It does nothing to address the responsibility of women for keeping themselves safe, especially when they’re drinking, but instead pretends that if we just bludgeon men long enough with this particular message women will eventually just BE safe. It portrays women as toddlers who can’t be trusted to drink responsibly or plan ahead, and portrays men as rapists or rapists-in-waiting.

Like nearly every feminist-spearheaded awareness campaign regarding sexual assault, it ignores the problem of sexual assaults against men, as well as those committed by women. In the kabuki play of sexual assault discourse, the only role available for men is perpetrator, and the only role available for women is victim.

This is really all just the same old bullshit that MRAs have been talking about for god only knows how long, despite all the efforts by feminists to scream us out of the discussion.

But I also wanted to get into a few of the reasons that “don’t be that guy” is, in my opinion, a misleading, misguided and potentially harmful message to send *to women*.

First, it assumes that there exists some vast number of men who just don’t understand consent. Who don’t realize that molesting a passed out woman, or that getting a woman so drunk she can’t physically resist when you hold her down and fuck her is morally wrong, and a crime. It also assumes there is a vast number of men who, when an enthusiastically consenting woman is unavailable to them, will go ahead and have sex with one who is borderline comatose, drooling and possibly covered in her own vomit. This can only generate a fear in women that is very much misplaced.

Even setting aside question of how well men understand or don’t understand consent, or whether they do or don’t think sex with an incapacitated woman is rape (or a different crime, or wrong, or gross, or mean–something feminists never seem to ask in their surveys), the concept behind the “don’t be that guy” posters depends on the assumption that there is this huge population of men who are interested enough in sex with an unconscious woman, or one who is not enjoying herself but unable to fend off his advances, that lots of them might be willing to give it a try, at least once.

And this is simply not the case.

Researcher Dr. David Lisak, who has done extensive study on “undetected rapists” on campuses, says schools put too much faith in “teachable moments”, and too much stock in the idea that a rapist is a man who just “made a terrible mistake or error in judgment, and can learn to be a better person out of it.” According to Lisak’s analysis of the self-reported rapes of college men, the one-time offender who learned his lesson, at best, represents 1/3 of offenders, 2% of all men, and is responsible for only 10% of college rapes.

Now maybe these guys, this 2% of men, are guys who don’t understand consent, or don’t know it’s a crime, or who can learn a lesson and go on to be a better person after realizing they hurt someone. I say maybe, because to my knowledge, Lisak hasn’t portrayed them this way. Regardless, they are responsible for only 10% of college rapes.

The other 90% of college rapes are perpetrated by repeat offenders. 2/3 of offenders–just 4% of the general population of men–commit nearly all the rapes on campus.

Not just that, this 4% of the men in the sample committed 28% of all the other self-reported violence, such as slapping an intimate partner, minor sexual assaults like groping, general assault, or abusing children.

These are men who hurt people, who know they’re hurting people, and who do it anyway.

And while Lisak acknowledges these men do not typically describe what they do as rape, they seem very, very aware that their victims are not consenting. They brag about how clever they are in circumventing a victim’s ability to refuse consent. They talk about targeting the most vulnerable women, and maneuvering and manipulating them in ways that make them even more immediately vulnerable, and about the measures they take afterward to discourage their victims from reporting the sex as an assault.

How do they convince victims not to tell? Emotionally manipulating the victim to self-blame is a common one noted by Lisak. Or hey, maybe he convinces her he thought she wanted it (was confused about consent), or maybe he even guilts her into not reporting by claiming to be a regular guy who just made a single terrible error in judgement but he can learn from it and become a better person?

I would find it absolutely ironic if the myth these posters are perpetuating–that lots of guys just don’t realize what they’re doing is hurting someone and a crime–came from accounts victims made to rape counsellors after being lied to by their rapists. The rapist lies to his victim, and then the victim repeats the lie as if it’s true, and then all of a sudden we have people thinking rapists rape women because they just don’t know any better, but with enough education they can figure it out.

And then you have a feedback loop, where these posters essentially confirm to a woman that the narcissistic, sociopathic, piece of shit who raped her really *might* be what he says–just a regular guy who made one mistake, and not a guy who’s probably done it before and will again–because hey, these posters imply that this kind of thing happens all the time.

That’s the “positive message” sent by these posters: that the small percentage of men who rape over and over and are responsible for almost all campus rapes, is actually a large population of regular guys who make one mistake and are capable of learning from it, or capable of being educated into not making that mistake in the first place.

These posters do nothing to tell women what actual rapists are like, do nothing to inform them of the cluster of behavioral and personality traits associated with the recidivist responsible for nearly all campus rapes–narcissism, entitlement, superficial charm, and general aggression and violence. These posters, in fact, imply to women that the man who raped them might not be the repeat offender responsible for 90% of rapes, that maybe he hasn’t done it before and maybe he won’t do it again.

And that’s a dangerous message in a culture where, according to many, only 10% of rape victims report their rapes. Because honestly, if I’d been raped, and my rapist had convinced me that it was all just a big misunderstanding, and that he could learn from it and wouldn’t do it again, and I had heard tons of public rhetoric implying, “well, yeah, that kind of thing happens all the time,” I might not be willing to put myself through the “gruelling process” of reporting just for my own sake, or to destroy a regular guy’s life over one error.

But if I knew that 90% of the time, he’s done it before and will do it again to someone else, you can be damn sure I’d be thinking about all his past and future victims, and schlepping myself down to the police station to report.

As for the stated target of these posters–the rapists themselves–well, that 4% of men responsible for 90% of rapes, who are recidivist predators and perpetrate a hugely disproportionate percentage of all other violence? Does anyone think a poster campaign like this is going to change their behavior?

Hell, Elton Yarborough, a student at Texas A&M who was linked to five rapes before he was finally put in prison, still insists he never broke the law, despite describing in detail the very acts that got him convicted of rape. One of the most disturbing things about this case is that he allegedly did it again to another woman after he was charged with rape.

If a criminal conviction isn’t enough to convince a rapist that having sex with a woman while she’s drunk and unconscious, something he did four times to four different women, and allegedly a fifth time after he’d been charged with rape–if a rape conviction isn’t enough to convince him what he did was a crime, what good does anyone think posters telling rapists it’s a crime are gonna do?

The “don’t be that guy” campaign does nothing to prevent rape. All it does is perpetuate a potentially dangerous myth about rapists, and point an accusing finger at the 94% of men–the only men this message will have any effect on–who don’t rape women.

You want to decrease rape? Get the recidivist rapists out of the population. Best way to do that with a poster campaign? Target it at women, and educate THEM. The message should be, “He’s probably lying to you. 90% of rapes are committed by a man who’s done it before and will do it again. Speak up.”

“Don’t be that guy” needs to go, because 94% of guys aren’t that guy, and the few who are that guy are sociopathic pieces of shit who don’t give a fuck about hurting others, and who like being that way.

The effect campaigns like this have on public sentiment about men, and men’s feelings about themselves is that rape is just something men do, rather than something sociopaths do. That’s just one of the many lies feminists tell to convince everyone men are the problem. And those lies sure seem to convince a lot of people, including a lot of men, that what’s wrong with society has a male face.

I have no doubt these dishonest posters will stay up, no matter how bigoted and potentially harmful they are. Because, what’s one more campaign pinning yet another human evil on masculinity, even if it might be inadvertently harming women as well as men? It’s just a drop in the bucket.

Links:

http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?playlistId=1.1361457

‘Men’s rights’ group defends posters claiming women lie about rape

http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/Edmonton/ID/2396322522/

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