Home > Rants > “All men are potential rapists” breeds fear and mistrust. Not caution.

“All men are potential rapists” breeds fear and mistrust. Not caution.

Okay enough of this passive-aggressive, “commenting on this phrase without really saying what I feel” bullshit.  This post might be offensive.  It might cost me readers.  But to be perfectly honest, I don’t care.  I’m not tiptoeing around this shit anymore.  If you can’t handle my opinion, belly up to the bar and put your money where your mouth is.  Cause this “Women should be paranoid.” shit is driving me up a fucking wall.

Women, and especially victims, have enough issues to deal with without fearing every known or unknown man in their lives.

To be perfectly honest with you, I’ve lost count of how many times I was raped.  My ex used to rape me any time I wasn’t interested in sex.  I was almost raped by a stranger I took a ride from, but I managed to escape.  A couple Johns who didn’t want to pay.  My fiance’s roommate when I stopped by his house to give him a ride to pick up his prescription on Halloween.

I was never really afraid.  Somehow, I knew I’d get through it mostly unharmed.  And I always did.  Mentally and physically.  I maybe spent one or two days moping, and then I picked myself up, shook it off and moved on with my life.

No group sessions, or rape counselors, or repeating over and over exactly what happened to anyone who would listen.  Matter of fact, there are quite a few things no one, except me and the people who did them to me, knows about.  Not because I’ve blocked them out or haven’t dealt with them.  But because I don’t see the point in sharing them.  I don’t need a “poor baby”, or a pat on the back, or someone to understand me, or empathize with me, or tell me they know what I’m going through.  I’ve been getting along just fine without any of that, and I plan to continue to get along just fine without it.

At least half of the times I was raped were my own fault.  You’re god damn right, that’s victim blaming.  Because the victim is partially to blame in my case.  Because I intentionally put myself in harm’s way.  I got in cars with strangers in bad neighborhoods, and went home alone with shady characters, and went to parties that I knew would only have one or two other girls there, and stayed with a man who I knew would have let me walk away if I wanted to without lifting a finger to me or his children.  Probably would have even sent me away with body guards if I asked him to.  Though that’s mostly cause then he could keep tabs on me.

I completely agree we should be teaching victims caution.  But teaching them to fear every man? 

I was molested by my female cousins when I was little.  As in, I actually said no, asked them to stop touching me, and they wouldn’t.  My cousins were both teenagers.  One, at least, was over eighteen.  I can’t remember how old the other was.  I’m not sure I’ve ever told anyone that.

I was raped by a couple I eventually let move into my house because I was afraid that if I didn’t, I would be alone.  It was the woman’s idea, and she was in complete control of the situation.  They raped me before I let them move in.  I continued having sex and maintaining a mostly amicable relationship with them both for quite some time after that. I finally kicked them out of my house when she hit me for not taking care of her child when she was watching television five feet away, and I was sleeping.

I’m not sure I’ve ever been honest with anyone about how that “friendship” really began either.  I just never really saw the point.

So I’m a female and I was raped.  Does that qualify me, at least, for this debate, since taking offense to this phrase doesn’t seem to qualify any men? Well, I’m gonna weigh in anyway.

Telling a victim “Every man is a potential rapist.” breeds fear and mistrust, not caution.

It’s like saying, “Some day, you might meet someone you can trust, and you’ll be able to live a normal life, but in the meantime, don’t trust anyone.” only you’re leaving the “some day” part out and just saying “Don’t trust anyone.”  Well, anyone male, anyway.  Which just cracks me the fuck up because while you’re hating on misogyny, you’re doing the exact same thing in the opposite direction.  Being raped, or trying to help someone who was raped, doesn’t excuse away misandrist* propaganda.  And I can’t understand how such intelligent women are allowing themselves to become part of the ignorance that pushes this propaganda on frightened and confused victims.

Because most of you are extremely intelligent women.

If we are really trying to teach women caution, we should be telling them to travel in mixed groups of trusted friends, and try not to get left alone with anyone in a seemingly private area.  Don’t go to shady places alone.  Don’t take rides from any strangers.

Carry mace or pepper spray if it’s legal where you live.  Take a self defense class.  Get to know the people you call friends, but not in that creepy, stalkerish kind of way.  If you feel the need, arm yourself, but know that it’s probably better you don’t.  Especially if you’re still healing and unsure of your mental state.  You wouldn’t want to misunderstand a situation and accidentally stab someone.  Better to burn their eyes out of their sockets instead.  Trust me, it will get your point across.  🙂

How do I know? I’ve been both maced and pepper sprayed before.  It stings like a mother fucker.

But above all? Trust your gut.  Leave when you think things are getting weird.  Even if you don’t have a ride.  Buy one of the many gadgets said to give you instant cell battery and amplify service.  And program your local non-emergency dispatch number into your phone.  That way, if you’re feeling skittish and need to let someone know where you are, you’ll be helped, but you won’t tie up emergency personnel if there’s not an emergency.  But trust your gut about that, too! If your gut says it’s an emergency, by all means, call 911.

But that won’t be necessary, because you’re going to always travel in mixed groups of trusted friends, right? I mean, think of the money you’ll all save on gas if you just go in one car.  Not to mention you’ll only be subjecting the ozone to the emissions from one car.

And I realize that, in some cases, that’s not practical.  Like when you’re going to work.  But if you’re working odd hours, or you’re uncomfortable walking from your car to your job alone, arrange to meet a trusted coworker at your job at a certain time, park close to each other, and walk in together.  And ask someone to walk out with you when you leave.  Try not to hang around after hours if you can avoid it.  And don’t be the last person out of the building.

And when you do walk from your car to the door? Carry a Maglite Flashlight there and back again.  The one I linked to, there, is 1.3 pounds without the four D batteries.  I’m sure it’ll do some damage if someone tries to fuck with you.  And they’re legal.  But put the batteries in anyway.  That way you can light the walk if you need to.

Nobody’s hating on women for being cautious.  Everyone should be cautious all the time.  We’re hating on the hypocritical, sexist bullshit.

Victims don’t need their counselors’ added paranoia.  They’re going to be paranoid enough.  They need to be taught to be trusting, but not naive.  Relaxed, but not comfortable.  Polite, but assertive.  Cautious, but not afraid.  With everyone, not just men.

I will never understand how we can pretend to want to empower victims, and free them from their attackers’ grasp, yet continue to hold them down and train them to be afraid of every man they pass on the street.

And don’t tell me that’s not what you’re doing.  I know you don’t think that’s what you’re doing, but it is.

I know because every time someone says something to me that suggests I shouldn’t be okay with what’s happened to me in my life, I start to wonder what’s wrong with me.  I start to second guess the way I’ve chosen to handle what’s happened to me.  I start to think maybe I should be wearing ten layers of baggy sweatsuits, and locking myself in my bedroom, and burying myself in a million blankets up to my neck, and jumping at every shifting shadow, and crying uncontrollably at the mere suggestion that I should do something besides lay in bed.  And since I’m not, and never did, there must be something wrong with me, right?

You’re not helping them up.  You’re holding them down.  And if you’re okay with that, fine.  But I’m not.  And if I can reach even one of them, and rip them from the grasp of their attacker, and your grasp as well, that’s a victory.

In a post entitled What I mean when I say “Every man is a potential rapist” and why you being offended is actually offensive., the author says that it’s “pretty freggin offensive to have to cater around a person’s delicate sensibilities when we are trying to talk about the horrific experiences one out of six women experience.” because:

All I can say to the person offended is this is not about you. It is incredibly insulting for you to tell me, a person belonging to a subordinate group you don’t share, how I am supposed to see the world. The threat will not go way if I change semantics to make you feel more comfortable. Don’t like it? Blame rape culture. Blame the people who blame the victims. Blame the rapists.

But do not blame women who are just trying to avoid the danger of rape the best way they know how.

I’m not sure she meant to use subordinate, there.  Subordinate means “person of lower order or rank; of less importance; subservient, or inferior”.  I’m sure she didn’t mean to say women (or raped women, for that matter) are lower than men.  Unless, of course, she was being sarcastic.

I especially love how so many who think they’re on the side of the victim acknowledge the facts that a) men are raped, too, and b) there’s no way to get any accurate statistics on this (or how many women have been raped, for that matter) because far less men report rapes than women, then promptly brush the matter aside as if it doesn’t need to be addressed because, as far as we know, less men are raped than women.  That’s super cool!

I’m not even male and I take offense to the fact that women who help other injured women hold to and preach the belief that behind every male face might lurk some evil beast.

I have a problem with your “Don’t trust anyone male.” stance, and I’m not afraid to say so.  I have a problem with it because it’s discriminatory.  I have a problem with it because it’s hypocritical.  I have a problem with the ignorance, intolerance and fear it breeds.  And I have a problem with it because it leaves my ass swinging in the breeze in the other direction.  Because all women are potential rapists, too.  All humans have the potential for violence.  Not just men or women or homosexuals or heterosexuals or black people or white people or yellow people or purple people.  Everyone.  Everyone, given the right situation, has the potential for violence. So how about we start telling it like it is?

*Big fucking thank you to Kristi for teaching me the word “misandry“.  Without her, I wouldn’t have known there was a word for it.  She also pointed me to the Wikipedia entry on masculism which you should totally check out.

  1. The Dogged Pursuit
    February 18th, 2010 at 18:12 | #1

    Rayne, I just found this post through (e)Lust and just wanted to say “yes!” I’ve also been down the passive/agressive comment route and usually shouted down by folks who insist on telling me how “offended” they are that I apparently have a different perspective. They further imply that I’m some type of gender traitor, that I’m apparently stupid for not seeing how obviously wrong I am, and a cruel heartless bitch due to the fact that I actually believe that if you want a person to change their beliefs or behavior you have a better chance if you make an effective argument.

    I am not afraid of men, nor do I think that “all men are potential rapists.” I am reasonable cautious as I go about my life and such caution has served me reasonably well, though it hasn’t prevented every unfortunate incident that I ever wanted to avoid. I know that some people whose spirits are, indeed, crushed and thier lives ruined by rape — both men and women. I also know that some are not. I know the difference between blaming a victim and identifying a contributing factor.

    I agree that I’d like to see us eliminate criminal violence against everyone;I’d like to see “rape culture” get relagated to the same status “racist culture” has been. I’d like to see people be more responsible for themselves and more willing to step up and take the responsibility to help and protect others. But I don’t think you get there by insisting that a) it’s men vs. women b) that all men are animals and subsequently all women are weak and c) and that an act of violence against one gender is inherantly worse than an act of violence against the other.

  2. February 19th, 2010 at 11:18 | #2

    @The Dogged Pursuit Thank you! I couldn’t agree more.

  3. Estelle
    March 23rd, 2010 at 15:02 | #3

    @Britni TheVadgeWig
    Chill.
    Seeing words that aren’t there must be a privileged only man-hating wretches share. It must be nice.

  4. Sterling
    October 20th, 2010 at 22:52 | #4

    I once sat in a women’s literature class as the sole man with eighteen women and was asked if I would commit rape if I could be certain if I would get away with it. All I could answer was, “How could you possibly know if said ‘no’ to this audience that I was telling the truth?”

    I don’t know if the people who embrace “all men as potential rapists” recognize that it doesn’t make men like me want to educate themselves so we can learn to be appropriately harmless in every way (as if our culture would permit such a thing without making us, ourselves, victims.) It makes us want to shut out the people who would treat us as nothing more than “monsters-in-the-making”.

    I am not a rapist. I have no intention of ever being a rapist. If that isn’t good enough for you, please go away…

    In short, thank you for speaking out against a meme that claims that it wants women to live without fear, but seems to be more about making us all afraid of each other.

  5. October 21st, 2010 at 10:05 | #5

    @Sterling
    I don’t know if the people who embrace “all men as potential rapists” recognize that it doesn’t make men like me want to educate themselves so we can learn to be appropriately harmless in every way (as if our culture would permit such a thing without making us, ourselves, victims.) It makes us want to shut out the people who would treat us as nothing more than “monsters-in-the-making”.

    This exactly.

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