KingMidget's Ramblings

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Continuing the Conversation

But first, I want to explain the frustration that generated my last post.  I read a number of political blogs on both the left and right.  I occasionally comment, challenging the typical narrative seen on those sites.  The vast majority of comments are nothing more than attempts to come up with the worst way to characterize the opposing view and the most creative and offense names imaginable. There is typically little effort to engage in a substantive discussion and many of the worst comments are thrown out by people who use aliases to hide their identity. It’s cowardly and disgusting and I felt like the slippery slope had arrived here at my blog.    My apologies to Someone aka Sharon for jumping to the conclusion I did and my thanks to her and Trent for continuing the conversation and to others for their comments.

So, on to the substance…

The reality of our world is that it is a dangerous place.  That is our reality.  And as far as I’m concerned, those who ignore that reality do so at their own peril.  Yes, I would love to live in a crime-free world, a rape-free world, a risk-free world.  But such a world is an ideal that will never, ever exist.  So, the idea that people can or should do whatever they want because, god dammit, they have the right to is really kind of ridiculous.

Yes, in an ideal world women can walk down the street without fear of assault. Women should be able to go to parties, have fun, get drunk, and not fear assault because they do so.  But that’s not the world we live in, unfortunately.

One of the things that bothers me about this topic is that many women claim no man can understand how women feel.  While I don’t fear being raped, however, does not mean that I can not understand the concept.  In addition this belief completely discounts that men are just as capable of fear and insecurity.

I try to go for evening runs several times a week.  In my neighborhood. Every time I go I worry about loose dogs and the packs of teenage boys who hang out at street corners and parks along my route.  So I take precautions.  I try to avoid running after dark.  I try to run on well-traveled streets.  I alter my route if I sense something on my danger radar.  And every time I go for a run, I spend much of the time pondering escape routes and emergency responses should I be confronted by a dog or a punk.

I would like to take light rail to work.  But the most convenient route goes through some of the worst neighborhoods in town.  I don’t take the chance.

I would like to bicycle to work.  But the most convenient route goes through those same neighborhoods.  I don’t take the chance.

You see, I recognize the reality of the world we live in and make decisions to avoid unnecessary risks.  For me, my loved ones, and those around me.

But let’s say I did something differently.  Let’s say that I couldn’t sleep one night and I decided to walk down a street in one of those dangerous neighborhoods. At midnight.  I have the right to do that, don’t I?  Let’s say that the gangbangers on the corner decide to turn me into their sport and they beat me to within an inch of my life.  Here’s what I expect in that circumstance — the thugs are prosecuted to the fullest extent possible and that you don’t expend one single ounce of energy on me, that you don’t shed a tear on my behalf.  Other than a prison sentence for the preps you and society owe me nothing because I was the idiot who ignored the reality of our world and placed myself at risk.  I fully expect that the reaction of many who learned about my assault and my decision that put me in that place at that time would be ‘what a bleeping idiot’  and their opinion would be correct.

Here’s what I expect.  That while we battle the harsh realities of our world and try to improve things for everybody, we should also recognize and acknowledge the impact of our reality on the things we can do or should do.  People who want to ignore our reality because they should have the right to do what they want regardless of our reality do so at their own risk.

Should we hide in our homes and never venture out?  Of course not.  We still must live our lives and challenge those who might cause us harm.  But those who take unreasonable risks –I have lost my patience.  Going to a frat party where you don’t know anybody and drinking to blackout oblivion, given everything we know and have heard, is an unreasonable risk for any woman to take.  And, no, that does not mean I blame the victim for the assault.



8 responses to “Continuing the Conversation

  1. Trent Lewin June 10, 2016 at 4:46 am

    When did this become about women feeling that no man can understand how they feel? Did someone say that to you in the comments or are you grinding an axe here? I’m curious.

    So is this woman an idiot as well, Mark, given the analogy you’re making? If you were on the bike going past this woman as she was being raped, are you going to keep going because she’s an idiot? No, I think you’d stop and correct the situation and apprehend that guy. Well I tell you, that’s where you are right now: you’re witnessing that rape, we are still in the heart of this situation and its consequences, but you are discussing her actions. Her poor decisions (although that seems to be going to a party and having a few too many drinks – such a crime, right?).

    You talk about context and being frustrated that your context is being ignored. Your point in the original post was not, in my opinion, to emphasize the condemnation of the criminal (although you did do that); no, your point was to question her. That’s what I got out of your post, and you should rightly be called out for that because that’s what you were going for – that was the message you wanted to send, and you did.

    I want to be clear on this. I understand you believe the man is a criminal. My point is just this: your discussion of her stupidity (or whatever you want to call it) is so meaningless in the broader context of rape culture that I felt it necessary to challenge you on this. I don’t think your point helps correct this abhorrent culture – I think it helps to perpetrate it, and yes you maintain your stance of neutrality on the subject (while questioning her intelligence, her judgement, whatever you want to call it), but in my mind your are sort of on that bike riding away, thinking that hey, she’s just a drunk slut who made poor decisions, whatever – you’ll just feel nothing for her. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but if you read the (admittedly and thankfully small) group of people voicing support for Brock Turner (like his father and his explanations – the man who seems to think that this was just innocent partying, and yes this happens at parties…), I think you’re leaning dangerously close to that viewpoint. And I think that’s damaging at worst, but incredibly unhelpful at best.

    Sure, the world is real and we are beset by realities. You read my stuff, you know I understand realities and seek to expose them. But we don’t give in to the evil. We don’t stop screaming against it. We keep trying. We band together and decry all this stupidity, because that’s how things do eventually change. And they will change, Mark – for the better. The current young kids in this world will be far removed from rape culture. They will be. I won’t say rape won’t happen, but this thing is on its way to its deathbed. Talking about nuances and the woman’s role in the rape is not part of the betterment, it’s just a distraction, a branch away from the better path we strive for.

    And I do have to say Mark, you saying that you recognize the reality of the world you live in has a sheen of hubris about it. You’re not infallible, and just because you believe that you have your life tightly under control and always put yourself in safe situations doesn’t mean a) that that actually happens in every situation and b) that people don’t make mistakes or c) that people do things which you consider to be putting themselves in danger but others shrug off as just part of life. I believe she was a woman at a party, having drinks, and that’s well within her rights, and I’m categorically not going to write-her off (call her stupid, don’t give her any sympathy, etc) for that.

    Per your comment about recognizing the impact of our reality on the things we can and should do, I think you should recognize the impact of your words as it pertains to rape culture.

    One other thing on this. Your analogy about taking a jog at midnight and comparing it to her situation in some way is so off the mark that I won’t further comment on it other than to say that hey, this is about rape culture. It is. That’s where we are today.

    • kingmidget June 10, 2016 at 6:58 am

      Several more comments.

      First, your continued insistence that I am perilously close to the line of thinking of the Brock supporters misses a fundamental distinction. They are making their arguments in his defense, to argue that her actions lessen or eliminate his responsibility and legal culpability. I haven’t said anything that can be interpreted that way so your arguments on this point are misguided at best.

      Second, your belief that we solve the rape culture by focusing solely on the crime and the perp is equally misguided. No problem is ever solved by looking at things so narrowly. There are acts and events that lead to a crime. Those acts and events are all a part of the story and addressing them need to be a part of the solution.

      Third, and I’m sure this will set people off as well, but I’m somewhat tired of the term ‘rape culture.’ Yes, there are assaults and rapes that occur on college campuses and there are unfortunately far too many situations in which responsible people have turned a blind eye to the problem. But the reality is the vast, VAST majority of sexual encounters are mutual, willing and consensual.

      But if you really do believe there is a rape culture then your belief that we should only look at the crime and the perp and not the events that create the opportunity for the crime to occur makes no sense. Describing it as a rape culture means you believe there is a cultural, systemic problem that requires a cultural, systemic solution. I believe one of the ways to do that is to eliminate the opportunities as much as is reasonably possible.

      End frat parties. No? They have a right to party and have fun? Well, a majority of people at those parties are underage. Shut them down. They’ll find somewhere else to party? Yes, they probably will. But given everything we hear about what goes on at frat parties … Well, if you’re serious about wanting to end the ‘rape culture’ and a whole lot of other things, let’s start there.

      • Trent Lewin June 10, 2016 at 7:05 am

        No. That is wrong. This is not about parties or anything like that. If you seriously believe there is no such thing as rape culture, you are diminishing and turning a blind eye to a real thing. Go to a college campus. Listen to how people talk. I still teach at university level. I am around these kids, and there is an ongoing pervasive problem and you are completely minimizing it by saying that what we should really do is ban the parties. That will solve nothing. It will do absolutely nothing, this a solution to nothing at all. The attitude requires changing, that is all. And that will help with us all focusing on the perpetrators, not the victims, so yes yes yes – let’s do that. In this situation, where it is cut and dried – where it is about flagrant disregard for a woman’s right to not be violated – let’s make it black and what and to hell with the nuances. Let’s throw them out the window because that’s where they belong on this issues, so that we can change attitudes in a positive way.

        You’ve said your point, and I will not be able to change it, I think this bears no further discussion from me. I totally disagree with you (respectfully as always, given the many things we have discussed in the past), and see no validity whatsoever in your points. None. I tried, and can’t see it.

      • kingmidget June 10, 2016 at 7:28 am

        I agree that we need to change attitudes. But I think my definition of the attitudes that need to be changed is much broader than yours.

        And one of the ways to change attitudes is to spray agent orange over the breeding grounds where those attitudes grow. You’re right that parties don’t rape people, but they are one of the breeding grounds. It’s interesting, part of my solution is to destroy the Greek system and replace it with something better. To stop having colleges and universities turn a blind eye to the breeding grounds while also addressing the belief system that creates these idiots.

        My two sons are now in college so, trust me, I know what you’re talking about.

        But here is the much larger context. When it comes to culture we live in an over- sexualized world in which our kids are bombarded with sex from a ridiculously early age. Their young, impressionable minds are absolutely filled with it. Almost every single American sitcom deals almost entirely with the characters’ search for sex. Because of the Internet my kids have been exposed to things at their age that I didn’t even know existed until I was 30 or 40. And music lyrics?

        Seriously, we all, and kids in particular, are being bombarded with sexual images, concepts, and the idea that everything revolves around getting it.

        All of that doesn’t turn all men into rapists, of course, and it is not an excuse for those who do become rapists, but like I have said there are much larger contexts than just the crime and the perp.

  2. kingmidget June 10, 2016 at 6:16 am

    Any solution to any problem requires looking at the broader context. It’s not me that is narrowing the context here, it is you.

    If there is a rape culture on college campuses that must be dealt with, then why are fraternities allowed to continue to throw parties where the men pay $10 to get in the door but the women are free. Why is it that the frats throw the parties, but generally speaking the sororities don’t? Why, in other words, is too little being done to pull this toxic weed out by its roots? And, why as long as the toxic weed remains are women continuing to attend these parties? Because they have a right to? Great. And I can think they are stupid for doing so without being accused of being in the ‘pity the perp’ camp.

    My hypothetical is exactly the same. I voluntarily engaged in reckless behavior that put me at risk from predators. A woman who voluntarily goes to a frat party and voluntarily drinks to blackout oblivion puts herself at risk from predators. It is the exact same dynamic.

    I have never claimed infallibility. Far from it. Part of my inner, personal demon is that every day I know I could have been a better father, a better husband, a better boss, a better worker, a better friend, a better human being, and every day I fail at all of those things. So spare me the hubris talk or that I’m claiming infallibility. I’m not demanding perfection from anybody. Nor am I unwilling to acknowledge that people can make mistakes. You believe that solving the rape culture begins and ends with outrage at the crime and stopping the preps. I agree that is a big part of it. But just like I don’t think I should walk down a crime-infested street at midnight, I think there are things, reasonable things that don’t deprive us of what we have a right to do, we can do to lessen the opportunities for the predators among us.

    • Trent Lewin June 10, 2016 at 7:01 am

      Of course I’m narrowing the context Mark – this is about rape culture! It’s about a specific thing and trying to help end it by not focusing on the victim, but the perpetrator. Your original post focusses on issues around the victim, that’s exactly what you did and apparently set out to do and that’s what you continue to push with your narrative.

      Parties don’t rape people. Parties aren’t the issue here, Mark. Parties don’t mean rape. This is about male attitudes towards rape culture, not parties, so please get off that. Other factors lead to rape as well, not just parties, it’s not about that. This is about rape culture. Let us end that, not parties, that’s just completely baffling to me that you would say that. Should we end activities at night as well? Keep women bottled in their houses with a curfew as soon as the sun sets? Where are you going to take this?

      I disagree with your analogy. I’m sorry. I don’t see your point at all.

      Lesson the opportunities for the predators amongst us? That’s where we should focus our time? Really Mark? We should focus on reducing the risk of rape rather than addressing the culture of it that still pervades? I think that’s beyond ridiculous, quite frankly. Sure, people should be careful, but you can be as careful as the most careful person in the world and that doesn’t mean you’re safe unless the attitude changes. And that’s where we differ. You want to emphasize the actions of the woman, and that’s what you seem to be doing clearly. I want a different viewpoint and perspective: I want the culture of this thing to change, and that’s not going to happen by talking about the victim like this. It won’t. And you have not addressed that at all, maybe it’s unimportant to you, I don’t know.

      Your viewpoint is of reasonable action. Reasonable is a highly subjective thing, Mark. You’ve stated your case: she was not reasonable in how she behaved and you feel no sympathy for her for being raped as a result. I just have nothing further to say on that other than I don’t get it. Respectfully, I don’t see where you are coming from on this, and I’m totally frustrated by this conversation. In fact, I can’t remember being more angry about something in quite some time. Maybe this will engender some quality fiction from me, I don’t know, but you definitely got my ire on an inclining platform. I guess we agree to disagree and move on.

  3. Anonymous June 11, 2016 at 5:20 am

    Sharon here. Trent made some very excellent points, and there is no way I could attempt to say anything as well as him. But I just want to bring up a couple of points that you’ve made assumptions on when deciding that she took an unreasonable risk.

    First. you say she went to a frat party alone. No, she went with her sister and a couple of her sister’s friends. They became separated shortly before the assault took place. Second, you say that she drank herself to oblivion. Not necessarily. We don’t know whether someone drugged her drink, such as a date-rape drug. In fact, it is very likely that is what happened. But we don’t know and probably shouldn’t assume the worst about her.

    So maybe don’t assume you know everything about the case, and give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she did exactly what a reasonable person would do.

    • kingmidget June 11, 2016 at 6:32 am

      If you read her statement, she acknowledges that she was responsible for the fact that she drank too much. She makes no suggestion at all that somebody might have drugged her drink and I’m willing to bet that, under the circumstances, they would have tested her for the presence of drugs in her system. I haven’t seen anything that supports any conclusion or suggestion that she was drugged.

      As for the sister, I think it’s less than clear when the two of them got separated.

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