Archive for August, 2013

Clearing up some confusion.

Posted: August 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

Post number 2, and I already feel I should clear some stuff up.

 

As it says in the ‘about me’ box, I’m from England, I live and work in England, so most of these entries are going to be talking about my life in England. I had a comment on my previous blog entry on Dr Phil that linked to another blog about sexual violence.

Having read through the entry I was linked to, I couldn’t make out where the blogger came from, and couldn’t find any information of the sort. I will assume it’s an American blog as they spoke of American cases. Obviously I can’t comment on what’s happening in American society as I don’t live there. The Dr Phil tweet was from an American TV show, but it had enough media attention over here for me to write about it.

Just to clear up, anything in future entries will deal specifically with English (and the wider UK) issues unless stated otherwise.

Sorry for any confusion.

Dr Phil and ‘rampant’ misogyny.

 

I warned you this blog might be controversial!

So recently there’s been a bit of a backlash against social networking sites, with Twitter, in particular, taking a lot of flack. First it was the furore of rape and death threats aimed towards Caroline Criado-Perez for campaigning to get Jane Austen on a bank note, then Dr Phil and #Slanegirl.

 

The Criado-Perez (not even sure if I’m spelling that right, but can’t be bothered to look it up right now) issue isn’t something I’m going to dwell on as that isn’t what this entry is about. I’m going to focus on one major over-reaction.

Dr Phil. On Twitter he asked this question:

                       

 If a girl is drunk, is it ok to have sex with her? Reply yes or no.

 and people went absolutely ballistic, basically calling him a rape apologiser and creating a petition to get him to apologise and create a show about rape survivors.

I thought that was a spectacularly over the top reaction, and here’s why. Dr Phil asked a question that should prompt lively, interesting, diverse debate and people lose their shit and claim he’s a rape apologist. He didn’t tweet about sexual assault at all (despite the fact some headlines suggested otherwise – Dr. Phil sexual assault tweet sparks outrage, prompts petition: ‘If a girl is drunk, is it OK to have sex with her?’ being one from nydailynews.com). It’s a question that should be asked, it’s a question that needs to be asked and yet any time someone tries to bring it up it becomes censored and disappears. Want to talk about controversial matters? Let people ask controversial questions and, instead of behaving like a 2 year old, think about a response and put it forward with good reasoning. Throwing your toys out the pram is not helping anyone. The option of only a ‘yes or no’ answer seems to remove all ideas of context, which is perhaps where one of the problems lies. However, it’s social media, just ask for clarification.

I asked, on Facebook, for some responses to this, and I got one. Just the one. He was an old school friend and, to his credit, he was mature and insightful. He basically told me that the question is ambiguous as the definition of ‘drunk’ is too broad and, in essence, this question could be asking if it’s ok to rape a drunk girl.

I agreed that the question is ambiguous, but then countered that he had taken the absolute worst definition of ‘drunk’ and applied that without thinking otherwise. Here are some other ambiguities the question raises:

 

  • Who’s she having sex with?
  • Are we to assume it’s a man?
  • Is the person she’s having sex with also drunk?
  • What if the person she has sex with is drunker than her, does that make her a rapist?
  • What if she’s having sex with a woman who is as drunk as her? Are they both victims, or perpetrators?

My friend and, I believe, a lot of people who took offence to this question, completely failed to follow through with their own logic. Yes, the question was ambiguous, but it was ambiguous in so many different ways, and raised so many good questions in and of itself, that it was a perfect way to talk about the idea of ‘how drunk is too drunk?” Instead, people saw the words ‘girl’, ‘sex’ and ‘drunk’ and immediately came to the conclusion that this question is a prime example of the ‘rape culture’ that is prevalent in our society.

I argue that it is exactly the reaction to questions like this that I don’t believe we live in a rape culture. Rape Culture and Misogyny are buzzwords that are thrown around every time someone says something that may be seen as criticism of women. The problem is, a lot of the time, the outrage is based on assumptions and alleged incidents that have either not happened or haven’t happened in the way in which it is being reported.

If people actually read the wording of Dr Phil’s question, there are far more ways to look at it than simply “OMG he said men should be able to sleep with drunk girls. RAPE APOLOGIST.”  

Alcohol plays a major factor in any average person’s life, particularly teenagers. Do you really think it’s a good idea to suppress discussions about what might or might not be acceptable at parties? By screaming RAPE every time someone brings up the idea of alcohol, teenage girls and sex then it sends the message that going to a party, having a few drinks and then hooking up with a girl is a sexual crime that you can go to prison for. Particularly if you’re a bloke.

I notice that the question focused specifically on girls and not people in general. Are we to assume that drunken boys are fair game? If a drunken girl gives a drunken boy a blowob, has he technically raped her because she was drunk? That’s what the response to this question seems to imply.

It also takes away the idea of responsibility. Especially for girls. Girls, did you get drunk last night and have sex with a boy? Well, chances are he raped you, and you should have him arrested and sent to prison. Buyers remorse much!

I’m not making light of rape and sexual assault. It is abhorrent, a crime against both sexes. But drunken sex is not rape. A sober man/woman having sex with a man/woman who is so drunk they are unconscious is rape. Pure and simple. A man and a woman, or two men, or two women, who turn up to a party, have a few drinks and then have sex is nothing to be fearful of.

If you want to criticise the question, criticise it for all its ambiguities, not just the ones that help perpetuate the hysteria of ‘rape culture’. If we are to assume that this question basically asks “is it ok to rape drunken girls?” then we must address the implication that all men go to parties just to ply girls with alcohol and then rape them.

Look at the question, read it like an adult and then answer the question. You can’t answer it with a simple yes or no, you have to apply some context. You can’t write expansive questions on Twitter. Everybody knows there’s a 140 character limit so it’s not always possible to include all the details in your posts. What should have happened is people should have questioned his question with more questions to try and build a picture, and then work from there. Crying RAPE every time somebody asks a question you don’t like is not indicative of rape culture. Rape culture appears to exist because of over-reactions like this one.

So here it is, I’ve been debating over whether to start a blog for a while, and finally decided to just do it!

I’ll be talking about anything that catches my eye in the news, movies, games, my job, etc.

I welcome discussion and debate. I can’t promise it won’t be controversial, but ask that any disagreements are kept civil and intelligent. I won’t block, censor or remove anything that disagrees with me, but I won’t reply to trolling or abusive messages.