Podcast host Red Tani is joined by sociologist Nicole Curato to discuss Jennifer Laude, her murder, and her identity as a woman.
You may also download the podcast file here.
Posted on 27 October 2014.
Podcast host Red Tani is joined by sociologist Nicole Curato to discuss Jennifer Laude, her murder, and her identity as a woman.
You may also download the podcast file here.
Posted on 23 October 2014.
The following quote is a comment written as a response to the article, “The Ugly Reality of Transphobia in the Philippines“:
“In the perspective of sex work, lives of transgendered sex workers is at risk in many ways. They have many stories untold, and Jeniffer’s story is one. Given the circumstances her bringing the service man to the hotel herself, stories of transgendered sex workers is reverberating. If the service man really intended to hook up with Jennifer and he knows she was a transgender/transwoman and his purpose was to torture and kill her, I think it is right to say it is hate crime and the element of homophobia is present.
But as the case unfolds, her story is just like our transgender sex workers who don’t disclose their gender to their partner. This practice also inspired Blakdyaks song ‘modeling charing’ (that I guess everyone listening to even gays themselves enjoys it not knowing the popular song promotes transphobia). The only difference is, Jennifer’s life was taken and by rage.”
The comment, in my opinion, seems to suggest that part of the reason Jennifer was attacked was because she did not fully disclose her status to the suspect.
The headline a recent Philippine Star article decided to publish, “Pemberton did not know Laude was a transgender,” also seems to suggest that her non-disclosure was relevant to the crime committed.
The victim was killed NOT because she didn’t disclose her transgender status. The victim was killed because Pemberton is a killer. The suffering that the suspect allegedly put the victim through is a criminal act, and can’t be justified in any situation.
One can argue that there are situations where it’s dangerous for a transgender to conceal her transgender status. However, it’s also a fact that there are significant safety concerns that make it difficult for a transgender to be upfront about her status as well.
It is not the moral duty of a transgender woman to randomly volunteer information about her transgender status. She has a right to her own personal information, and it should be up to her, if and when she wants that information to be revealed. Coming out as a transgender woman to anyone is difficult. It’s a personal and private struggle that cisgender people (people who are born with a gender identity that matches their biology) and heterosexuals will find difficult to understand completely. Whether or not she wants to share these private details is ultimately up to her.
Pemberton’s “abrupt discovery” may have contributed to his rage, but it doesn’t change the fact that he allegedly made a decision to cause a human being excess suffering because of what he may have perceived as a deceptive act.
Also, why are we making excuses for the violence committed?
If the victim was not a transgender woman, but a cisgender woman, would people still make excuses for the violence done?
Let’s say that there was a man who exclusively slept with virgins. One day he consents to have intercourse with a woman who he assumed was a virgin. Then, before they have intercourse, the man discovers that the woman was, in fact, no longer a virgin. He feels deceived and decides to kill her. Would anyone be making excuses for the killer then?
The relevance of Jennifer’s gender and profession is brought into question only because the crime happened in a community that is prejudiced against prostitutes, sex workers, and transgender women. If the same crime happened to a heterosexual, cisgender woman, it’s unlikely that the public’s response would be similar.
Even if a man was upset because he almost had sex with a person outside his preferences because of the latter’s deception, he still shouldn’t kill her. The same goes for this particular situation. A person who finds himself in this situation has a right to be upset, because he did not prefer to sleep with a transgender woman, but he still should not commit homicide.
Did Jennifer’s failure to disclose that she was a transgender woman increase the risk of violence? Possibly. But even if the discovery of Jennifer’s transgender status was what agitated the suspect, it doesn’t change the fact that what Pemberton allegedly did was wrong.
Jennifer’s failure to disclose her transgender status SHOULD NOT HAVE resulted in her death, and the only reason that it did, is because she was unfortunate enough to have had relations with a prejudiced killer.
The Philippine Star headline should have been written as, “Laude did not know Pemberton was a killer.”
Posted on 20 October 2014.
The Catholic Church recently held a synod and discussed how they treat LGBT members. This week, we talk about whether it’s all PR or if there has been real change.
You may also download the podcast file here.
Posted on 16 October 2014.
Jennifer Laude was found dead in the bathroom. She was slumped on the toiled seat, peppered with black and blue bruises. She also had bruises on her neck. Her feet were also bruised. Reporters are not sure whether she died from the injuries she sustained from the beating that she took, or from being strangled. She was murdered.
Let’s try that again.
Jefferey Laude was found dead in the bathroom. He was slumped on the toilet seat, peppered with black and blue bruises. He also had bruises on his neck. His feet were also bruised. Reporters are not sure whether he died from the injuries he sustained from the beating that he took, or from being strangled. He was murdered.
I’m not here to discuss whether Jeffrey/Jennifer Laude should be considered a he or a she. People can debate on his or her gender all they want, but what we can’t debate about is that this person was the victim of a crime. This person was murdered.
When a person is murdered, regardless of sex or gender, the ethical human response should be outrage or, at least, sorrow. If this tragedy happened to a straight woman or a straight man, that’s exactly the kind of response we could expect from the majority.
However, I don’t think some Filipinos see transgender individuals as people. That’s the only reason I can imagine why there are over 200 comments posted on inquirer.net insulting, cursing, and mocking the murder victim.
Many of these comments express disgust and indignation, not because a person was brutally murdered, but because “a tranny tried to have sex with a straight man”:
Many comments expressed satisfaction that karmic justice was served, not because a murderer was caught, but because “a sinner was punished”:
Some comments even suggested that it was funny, and it was Jennifer’s fault that she was murdered because she was “pretending to be a woman”:
The insults and curses hurled at the victim has even inspired its own photo album in Facebook:
This attitude towards the transgender is not surprising though, especially in a country with a reputation for being religious and conservative. The Philippines, for one, is the last country without divorce and many of our religious countrymen are proud of being the last stronghold of idiocy.
Unfortunately for the LGBT community, research done by Wade Rowatt and colleagues from Baylor University in the States learned that religiousness and conservatism are the top two factors that account for a person’s homophobia.
Here’s a graph:
It should be no surprise that hate crimes against the LGBT community are tolerated in a country where majority of the people identify as Catholics, Christians, or Muslims; all of them, religions that hate homosexuality.
I can provide a litany of research proving how those who believe themselves to be the holiest of the holy, the most righteous of the righteous, the most faithful of the faithful, the most religious of the religious, the closest to God, are the most determined advocates of hate and bigotry. The most fervent believers of homophobic religious doctrine inevitably become the most homophobic people. When a person is indoctrinated and trained from childhood to hate homosexuality, it’s rather difficult to unlearn it as an adult.
The suspect, obviously, is himself transphobic. He probably can’t tell the difference between a homosexual and a trans-woman. He probably doesn’t give a shit about those subtle differences either. This may sound a little racist, but studies do prove that Americans are less accepting of homosexuality than other westerners and religion may have something to do with it.
Many Filipinos have no empathy for the murder victim, Jennifer/Jefferey Laude, simply because of religion. They were raised to believe that any non-heterosexual person is a Sodomite; a disordered sinner that deserves divine punishment, in the same way the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were punished – with the righteous vengeance of a brutal God.
The Philippines’ religiousness and conservatism simply can’t peacefully co-exist with homosexuality. In the minds of some Filipinos, it might as well be God beating up the victim.
It doesn’t take a genius to understand that the Catholic hierarchy hates LGBT people. Just recently a bishop said that homosexuals should not be invited to the dinner table if there are children present, because impressionable children should not be exposed to something so “intrinsically disordered.”
Some people would argue that homophobic doctrines, like the Bible, don’t necessarily cause homophobia. They say things like, “But the Bible also has verses about love and tolerance…”
Are you serious? The Bible said that homosexuality is an abomination. The Bible also said that an adulteress should be stoned to death. The Bible also said that a rape victim should marry her rapist. Unfortunately, the context for these verses are not explained because the Bible doesn’t have editor’s footnotes. Many believers also suggest it’s “open to interpretation.” Well, anything can be open to interpretation. Even “Dora the Explorer” can be interpreted from a Marxist perspective.
However, there is a limit to the number of ways one can interpret, “Gay = Abomination.” If you think that these verses, as they appear in the Bible, do not at all, inspire prejudice or bigotry, you need a mental health evaluation.
The Bible, along with other homophobic religious doctrines, are books filled with hate. These books don’t belong in any society that aspires for gender equality. As long as there are people who adhere to Biblical authority, to verses that call homosexuals abominations, there will always be members of the LGBT community found dead in toilets and there will always be people celebrating the torture of the victim.
Posted on 10 October 2014.
The site Jezebel reports that a week ago, a man has slashed a woman’s neck after she refused to talk to him. At around 5:20 am, on October 1, a woman was in the lobby of a building in New York when a man approached her in an attempt to make conversation. She refused to talk to him and turn away. As soon as she did, he grabbed her from behind and slashed her neck.
Two days ago, Mary Spears, an engaged mother-of-three was harassed in a bar. A man came up to her and said, “Can I get your name, your number?” She told him that she was in a relationship, but he persisted. Because of the constant harassment, the man was asked to leave the venue. However, he later confronted Spears and shot her three times, killing her.
Last May, Elliot Rodger posted a video complaining about how women have rejected his advances, even though he was a gentleman. He also ranted about still being a virgin at the age of 22. Because of these perceived slights, he promises ‘retribution’ and ‘punishment.’ Later, he killed 6 people.
These men shared a similar attitude towards women; they felt entitled to a woman’s affection, or at least, attention. When they encountered resistance, they felt as if they were being deprived of something that they deserved. This frustration has led them to commit violence.
I’m not saying that all men are capable of killing a woman out of frustration. I’m saying that there is proof that a sense of entitlement is a predictor of violence toward women.
According to a study found by ScienceDaily
“…for men, entitlement was associated with hostile views of women. Entitled men were more likely to endorse views of women as manipulative, deceptive, and untrustworthy — attitudes, which past research has shown are predictors of violence toward women.”
A common complaint made by men about women who reject them is, “She never even gave me a chance.” Some men perceive that “not being given a chance” represents an opportunity they were deprived of. What most men and women should start to understand is that the attention another person provides is a privilege, not a right.
I get where entitled men are coming from. I used to harbor the same illusion that “girls should, at least, listen to my pickup line when I try to talk to them in bars.”
Here’s what men might be thinking:
“I am entitled to this opportunity, because I live in a society that has essentially required me to approach a woman to reduce the odds that I’ll die single. This is ‘me,’ taking matters into my own hands; being a man. The choices are clear: it’s either I approach a woman, or I never get a date, because women will never approach men.”
This type of logic holds a number of sexist assumptions. For one, a man who thinks this way may have associated the idea of pursuit with his own masculine identity. He may be thinking that he’s simply performing a gender role. To some extent, when a man approaches a woman, he may actually believe that he’s simply being “masculine.” If he gets rejected, he may feel slighted, because he may see the rejection as a hostile act that robs him of his ability to express his sexual identity as a man.
In other words, he’s being told to stop his inappropriate advances, but he may interpret it as being told to stop being a man.
I’m not surprised that entitlement and sexism are correlated. Sexist people think in terms of binaries. A sexist man believes that he is supposed to be the “active” participant in the courtship dance, and a woman is supposed to be the “passive” recipient of his advances. When he’s told to stop being “active,” to stop advancing, he feels like he’s been robbed of his birthright – the right to pursue.
However, men are just one half of the entitled, sexist club.
In the same article, it was mentioned that:
“Conversely, the researchers found women who have a high sense of entitlement are likely to demand men take care of them because they are weak and frail. A large body of research shows that such demands lead to women being viewed as too weak and placed in roles where they are not allowed to advance in education and jobs.”
The research also reports on how feelings of entitlement affect men and women differently. Generally, entitled men are more prone to exhibiting hostile sexism; many of them held misogynistic beliefs and viewed women as manipulative and demanding. On the other hand, entitled women exhibited benevolent sexism. They harbored the “princess mentality” and thought that women deserved special care and treatment, because they were, you know, women.
That’s not even the bad news yet.
According to a report by Richard Alleyne, the science correspondent of The Telegraph, there’s a study that shows how “Those who were born into ‘Generation Y’ have an over-inflated sense of entitlement, [but] lack the work ethic to achieve their goals.” What the study reveals is that our generation, those born between 1980 and 1990, is fostering an entire generation who think they’re “special” and should be treated as such.
According to the article:
“Professor Paul Harvey, of the University of Hampshire, carried out a series of studies measuring psychological entitlement and narcissism on a group of Gen -Yers and found they scored 25 per cent higher than respondents ages 40 to 60 and 50 per cent higher than those over 61.”
Entitled men believe that they deserve a woman’s adoration and desire, by default, or by simply being “nice guys” (See: “Nice Guy Sydrome“); they feel that they don’t need a woman’s permission to pursue her romantically or sexually, by default, because they are men; they feel that if they are sexually attracted to a woman, being the woman’s friend is something they are entitled to complain about (See: “Friend Zone“).
Women feel that they deserve to be taken care of and provided for, by default, because they are women (In fact, 75% of women will not even date an unemployed man).
However, although entitlement corrupts both men and women, entitlement in men have worse consequences.
Let’s take a closer look at the behavioral disparity between the sexes:
The only conclusion I can think of from the material I’ve read is that entitlement turns men and women into horrible people, but it makes men significantly more horrible. Unfortunately, we’re living in an era littered with an entire generation of psychotic, narcissistic, entitled assholes. I think that this might be the only generation in history that would benefit from being told, “You’re not entitled to a beautiful woman, or a wealthy man, or even a job, really.”
Posted on 08 October 2014.
A special episode of “The Bottomline with Boy Abunda” aired last Sunday. In the show, Boy Abunda was asked if he believes that living the life of a gay man is a sin. Boy Abunda explained, “I do not agree to all the teachings of the Church, and one of them is saying that, ‘We’re okay with homosexuality, but the moment you practice, the moment you have sex, it is a sin.'” He later added, “How can love be a sin?”
I’m glad that Boy Abunda asks the right questions about love and faith, but I don’t think he has the right information. I’m sorry, Boy, but The Church is not okay with homosexuality.
John Finnis’ article, “Reason, Faith and Homosexual Acts,” provides a very thorough breakdown as to why homosexuality can never be “okay” from a Catholic perspective.
The article mentions that:
The Church refuses to consider the person as a ‘heterosexual’ or a ‘homosexual’ and insists that every person has a fundamental identity: the creature of God and, by grace, his child and heir to eternal life.
The Church does not believe in sexual orientation or sexual preference. There is no such thing as a homosexual. People are not gay or straight, and their preference for men or women is irrelevant. People are either men or women, period. So, The Church doesn’t consider Boy Abunda a “homosexual.” The Church was never okay with Boy Abunda being a homosexual; they were okay with him being a man who has homosexual inclinations, but doesn’t do homosexual acts.
What The Church wants Boy Abunda to do, really, is to not have sex with boys, and start having sex with a girl that he has married, because The Church believes that although Boy Abunda may prefer men, they don’t think he’s incapable of having sex with women.
According to the article:
That is to say, most people who engage, or have an inclination to engage, in homosexual activity also engage, or are more or less inclined to engage, in sexual activity with a person or persons of the opposite sex. Very many homosexual persons – persons with homosexual inclinations – marry and have children by their spouse.
The Church thinks that the only reason Boy Abunda doesn’t want to have sex with girls is because something went wrong with his sexual development, or because he saw gays having sex, or because he didn’t get a proper education, or he developed a habit of homosexuality. But, even though there are a lot of disordered gays out there, it’s okay, because gayness, according to The Church, might be curable.
According to the article:
The Church observes that in some homosexual persons the homosexual inclination (= orientation) comes, it seems, “from a false education, from a lack of normal sexual development, from habit, from bad example, or from other similar causes, and is transitory or at least not incurable.
Although The Church acknowledges the fact that a person’s homosexuality may have been inborn, meaning it wasn’t a choice, they still think it’s wrong.
According to the article:
The Christian teaching from the outset, has been that no homosexual acts are ever justified, even the acts of someone whose inclination to engage in them is ‘innate’ (that is, present at birth) and, in one sense of the word, ‘natural.’
The main reason homosexual attraction can never be morally justified from a Christian perspective is because they view homosexuals as inevitable adulterers.
The article says:
As Jesus makes clear, this natural communion requires for its integrity not only the sexual intercourse of the spouses (Matt. 19: 5), but also the complete and unwavering mastery and overcoming – by everyone, married or unmarried — of every desire for sexual contact or enjoyment outside marriage (Matt. 5: 27).
What that means is that it is morally wrong for anyone to lust outside of marriage. Unfortunately, for gays, they can’t ever lust within a marriage, because they’re not allowed to get married. The Church is basically telling Boy Abunda, “It’s okay to be a man with gay inclinations as long as you don’t do any sex outside of marriage; but you can’t get married, so doing sex in any circumstance is immoral.”
The Church doesn’t accept Boy Abunda, or any homosexual for that matter. But in my opinion, Boy Abunda shouldn’t worry. I personally think Boy Abunda has more moral authority than The Church. Here are 5 reasons why:
1. Boy Abunda did not have Galileo arrested and imprisoned for being right about heliocentrism.
2. Boy Abunda never burnt a 19-year-old girl at the stake for heresy.
3. Boy Abunda didn’t start an Inquisition to drive Muslims out of Europe.
4. Boy Abunda didn’t cover up child abuse crimes by priests. Neither did he spend over 4 billion dollars in settlements to shut victims up.
5. Boy Abunda never threatened his followers with eternal damnation just so he can sell them Indulgences, to buy back their salvation.
If The Church doesn’t accept Boy Abunda, he doesn’t have to accept them. They don’t have monopoly on God. Boy Abunda can worship, love, believe, and serve his God from the comfort of his own home, or his new Hummer, free from any discrimination based on gender, orientation, or preference.
The good news is, you can too.
Posted on 29 September 2014.
Victim blaming, which is said to occur when “the victim of a crime or any wrongful act is held entirely or partially responsible for the harm that befell them,” is perceived by many as irrational because it shifts the blame or at least a part thereof from the real offender to the innocent victim. They contend that the victim has zero responsibility every time regardless of the circumstances.
I intend to challenge this absolutist position.
When comedian Ricky Gervais posted a tweet about the leaked nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities, people called him out for victim blaming. In his tweet, which he later deleted, Gervais wrote:
“Celebrities, make it harder for hackers to get nude pics of you from your computer by not putting nude pics of yourself on your computer.”
The following are some of the responses he received:
@rickygervais, Ah, victim-blaming at its finest. “If you don’t want people to break into your house and steal your things, don’t own things.” – Brian Herbert
@rickygervais this is like telling women, make it harder for rapists to rape you by not going outside. – Jen Italia
While Gervais’ tweet was done in bad taste, I do not find it necessarily illogical as what the responses seem to suggest with their analogies. My position is that there are certain instances where victims can be held at least partially responsible for the harm that befell them, and those instances are where they acted negligently, and especially if they were grossly negligent.
Negligence is defined as “failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in like circumstances.” Now whether the celebrities’ act of uploading their nude photos on the Internet constitutes gross or even simple negligence is an issue beyond the scope of my contention, because in order to resolve it certain facts need to be established, like how secure were the sites they used, how strong were their passwords, and what other necessary precautions they took or did not take.
For sure, however, not uploading one’s nude photos if you don’t want them leaked cannot be equated to not owning things if you don’t want people to break into your house and steal your things, or to not going outside if you don’t want to be raped. The analogies used by those who responded to Gervais’ tweet certainly do not constitute even simple negligence. We only need to ask the question: Would a reasonably prudent person not own things, or never go outside?
On the other hand, uploading nude photos involves a presumably unnecessary risk to one’s privacy. Of course, it is also entirely possible that the person actually did not know the risks, or had a compelling reason to back up photos online. These factors would certainly modify the dynamics of blame, but their existence is not to be presumed. Someone who knows how to upload photos will probably have a basic idea of the risks involved, and I cannot think of a compelling reason for a person to upload naked selfies. But even if you can come up with something, such “compelling reason” would probably be the exception rather than the norm, hence, its existence is not to be presumed.
For a better perspective, let us say person A, a famous actress, uploads to a non-secure site, not her naked photos, but those of her friend, person B, another famous actress. The site gets hacked and the photos are leaked. Would person B not have the right to blame person A – to hold her at least partially responsible for compromising her privacy? Can person A raise the defense that it is the hackers who should be held entirely responsible for the leak?
The problem with the term “victim blaming” is that it seems to imply that a person is being blamed because he or she is a victim, when in fact the reason for the blame is that he/she acted negligently. This is made clear in the above example where the one who acted with negligence and the victim of the privacy breach which the negligent act helped make possible are not the same person.
Moreover, we must distinguish between criminal liability and the non-criminal culpability arising from negligence. In the case of hacking, no amount of negligence on the part of the person uploading private photos to a non-secure site can remove or even diminish the hacker’s criminal liability in invading other people’s privacy. Just because the victim acted negligently does not mean that the hacker acted less criminally.
A friend of mine expressed this in another way:
“What people who keep bandying about the ‘victim-blaming’ argument seem to scarcely understand is that blame isn’t a zero-sum game where holding the victim partially responsible for her victimhood (i.e., if she can be said to have done something she knew would significantly increase the likelihood of being victimized) removes a proportional amount of blame from the victimizer; a victimizer can be 100% responsible for a crime (whatever it is) while the victim can be partially responsible for knowingly placing herself in a situation that increased the odds of said crime taking place. There is no contradiction there.”
Suppose a guy who jogs at night decides for no compelling reason to change his route and passes through a dangerous part of town known for its alarming number of muggings. He enters a dark alley and, sure enough, gets mugged and robbed of his wallet which contained a lot of cash and all his IDs and credit cards. At this point some people would probably say that the jogger should not be held even partially responsible for his loss and that all the blame should be laid on the mugger because it was the latter who committed the entire crime and the jogger took no part in it.
But let’s suppose that hours before his evening run he went to a wedding for which he borrowed his friend’s gold watch that happens to be an heirloom. He didn’t remove the watch when he went out jogging to that dangerous part of town. He gets mugged and loses his friend’s watch along with his own wallet.
If you were his friend, would you hold him responsible, not for the mugging because the criminal liability solely belongs to the robber, but for losing your watch because he was being grossly negligent for wearing it when he knows he’ll be passing through a dangerous area?
If you say yes, would you also hold him partly responsible for the loss of his own wallet in the same mugging incident? If your answer to the second question is no, then how do you distinguish between losing his own wallet and losing your watch? What fundamental distinction lies between a person’s negligence that contributed to his own loss and the negligence that contributed to another’s such that the negligent person can be blamed for the latter but not for the former?
But if your answer to the first question about holding your friend responsible for losing your watch is no, then I’d be very interested to hear your reasons for finding no fault on his part. And if you decide to play with words and say that you blame him for acting negligently but not for losing your watch (since it’s the mugger who’s solely to blame for that), then would you still blame your friend if he returned home safe and sound with your watch in one piece?
To blame means “to say or think that a person or thing is responsible for something bad that has happened.” If nothing bad happened, there is nothing to blame. A person can be blamed for something bad that has happened, or he can be blamed because of his role in allowing that bad thing to happen in that particular instant.
It must be stressed, however, that life is full of risks, some of which are unavoidable, and not acting negligently does not guarantee that one will not be mugged or that no nude photos will be leaked, or that one will never suffer any tragedy. But to knowingly place oneself in a situation where risk is unnecessarily increased is to act with gross negligence. Even if the jogger in the above example never went to that dark alley or even if he invested in a treadmill and stayed at home, he could still be mugged elsewhere, or he could be robbed of his friend’s watch at the parking lot right after the wedding. The only difference is that he could not be blamed for losing it in that particular incident because he did not go out of his way to increase the chances of a bad thing happening.
After all, in this so-called “victim blaming,” what’s being blamed is not the victimhood.
It’s the negligence.
* * * * * * * * * *
Some readers might be tempted to draw a simplistic analogy from the mugging scenarios and relate them to rape. I caution them from doing so. Rape is a far more complex issue than mugging and nude photo leaks, and the dynamics of rape requires a deeper analysis than what this article provides. Here is an article that discusses victim blaming in rape cases. It is up to the reader to decide, after reading that other article, whether the principles laid down in this article apply to rape cases.
Posted on 26 September 2014.
TRIGGER WARNING: This article or section, or pages it links to, contain information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors.
Let’s say a person left his iPhone unattended in a public place and it was stolen. Can we say that he contributed to his fate by being negligent? Yes. Is this victim blaming? Yes. Can the same logic be applied to rape? No.
But some people would say, “Yes.” Some people think that women get raped because they wear “slutty” clothes. Some people think that women get raped because they drink alcohol. Some people think that women get raped because they stay out late at night. Some people think that women get raped because they don’t pray. Some people are ignorant, yes.
I feel extremely frustrated right now to have to explain the distinction between a man who leaves his phone unattended and a woman who was raped.
Here’s the deal. In the case of the iPhone, to prevent the same occurrence from happening again, all the man has to do is to put his iPhone in his pocket. Needless to say, putting his phone in his pocket, instead of leaving it in a public place, would reduce the risk of theft greatly.
The problem with victim blaming in rape is that the common precautionary measures advised – don’t get drunk, don’t wear slutty clothes, don’t talk to strangers – do not reduce the likelihood of rape. Sober girls are just as likely to be raped as drunk girls. Girls who don’t talk to strangers are just as likely to be raped as girls who talk only to acquaintances. Girls who wear completely normal clothing are just as likely to be raped as girls who wear what some people consider “slutty” clothing.
“Take the Necessary Precautions”
In a conversation, I was asked this question:
“Let’s say a woman spends an average of 8 hours a day at home. Are the chances of her being raped at least once in her lifetime the same as if she spends an average of 8 hours a day in that dangerous part of town known for its alarming number of sexual assaults?”
It’s easy to make the assumption that avoiding a dangerous area could reduce the odds that a person was sexually assaulted. But we have to recognize the implications of such a statement. To suggest that avoiding a dangerous area could prevent rape is to imply that if a woman chose to spend time in an area where she could be raped by a random stranger, she didn’t do a good enough job of avoiding rape and may have been partially responsible for what happened.
The problem with this assumption is that it’s wrong. It’s also offensive. For one, a woman is more likely to be raped in a familiar venue, by a familiar person, than she is to be raped by a stranger in an area with a “dangerous” reputation. In the case of rape, the places that she “could be” raped in are exactly the places that she “should be” safe in: her own home, the home of an acquaintance, or an indoor venue near her home.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Statistics, “More than 50% of all rape/sexual assault incidents were reported by victims to have occurred within 1 mile of their home or at their home.”
What advice should we give women then to “avoid rape” then? Avoid your home and areas within 1 mile of your home because majority of rapes happen in these places?
Furthermore, a “Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women” says:
“64% of women who reported being raped, physically assaulted, and/or stalked were victimized by a current or former husband, cohabiting partner, boyfriend, or date.”
So, to “avoid rape,” should we advice women to avoid their husband, their live-in partner, their boyfriend, and their date?
To pursue the analogy further, rape survivors did not “leave their iPhones unattended.” They were keeping them in their pockets and they got mugged while sober, in normal clothes, by familiar people, in familiar places that may include their own home.
In other words, there is very little a victim could have done if someone has decided to rape them. The “preventive measures” people usually bring up (stay sober, don’t wear slutty clothes) aren’t really factors at all when we consider the evidence.
To simplify, leaving your iPhone lying around will increase the odds that it will be stolen. Putting your iPhone in your pocket, will reduce the odds that it will be stolen. So, if you choose to leave your phone out in the open, when you could have placed it in your pocket, means that it is your fault if it was stolen.
However, dressing slutty or talking to strangers will not increase the odds that you are raped. Dressing modestly and talking only to acquaintances will not reduce the odds that you are raped either. If a person is raped, it is not his or her fault.
It’s a completely different issue altogether.
“Don’t Get Drunk”
This statement is also commonly provided as a precautionary measure to “prevent rape.” It’s also wrong. If drunkenness was a direct contributor to the prevalence of rape, then a statistical increase in alcohol consumption should lead to a statistical increase in the prevalence of rape.
However, in the article “To Prevent Rape on College Campuses, Focus on the Rapists, Not the Victims,” Amanda Hess reveals that:
“According to the Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey—which surveys Americans ages 12 and older about crime they’ve experienced, whether or not they reported it to the authorities—rape has declined markedly in the United States since 1979, even as female binge drinking has risen.”
In the article, “Actually, The Link Between Sexual Assault And Alcohol Isn’t As Clear As You Think,” Tara Culp-Ressler explains that:
“Even though alcohol is associated with sexual assault, it’s not actually a direct association. Getting intoxicated only leads to rape when there’s someone present to commit that rape. When you remove rapists from the equation, the risks of getting drunk — which, of course, do involve serious public health consequences — don’t include getting raped.”
“Sexual Violence is Predatory”
According to the study “Understanding the Predatory Nature of Sexual Violence” by David Lisak, perpetrators of sexual violence:
are extremely adept at identifying “likely” victims, and testing prospective victims’ boundaries;
plan and premeditate their attacks, using sophisticated strategies to groom their victims for attack, and to isolate them physically;
use “instrumental” not gratuitous violence; they exhibit strong impulse control and use only as much violence as is needed
to terrify and coerce their victims into submission;
use psychological weapons — power, control, manipulation, and threats — backed up by physical force, and almost never
resort to weapons such as knives or guns;
use alcohol deliberately to render victims more vulnerable to attack, or completely unconscious.
In Culp-Ressler’s article, she admits that alcohol may be one of the tools a rapist uses. However, she says that it’s just one of many tools at a rapists disposal, and the unavailability of alcohol won’t necessarily prevent a rapist from raping if the rapist decides to rape.
In other words, alcohol is just one of the things a rapist may use AFTER they have selected a victim. It’s very likely that a rapist who has raped an intoxicated girl already decided to rape her, before she even took a sip of alcohol. If alcohol is not available at that moment, he would simply chosen another tactic to rape her.
The common myth surrounding rape is that a drunk woman, in a dark street, wearing “slutty clothing,” is more likely to be raped, than a sober woman, in her home, wearing normal clothing, having lunch with an acquaintance. This leads people to think that if the drunk woman was raped, she may have contributed to it by being “negligent.” That’s not true. The odds that either would be raped is zero, if there was no rapist nearby to rape them. These odds increase drastically if there was a nearby rapist who wanted to rape them. What a woman is wearing or what she was doing before she was attacked is irrelevant. She would have been attacked anyway if a sexual predator has decided to attack her.
Why Do We Blame the Victim?
Two years ago, there was a thread on Reddit asking sexual assault perpetrators what their motives were, “Reddit’s had a few threads about sexual assault victims, but are there any redditors from the other side of the story? What were your motivations? Do you regret it?” It has since been deleted, but not before parts of it were featured in several articles.
The article “If You’ve Ever Wondered What It’s Like To Be A Rapist, Have We Got A Reddit Thread For You!” features a very chilling, first-hand confession copied from Reddit’s rapist thread.
Here’s the entire confession:
I am a post-colleged age male who raped several girls through use of coercion, alcohol, and other tactics over a course of 3 years.
First off, I must say, I was at a dark and horrible place in my life, that I’ve since grown from. I’m ashamed of the person I was, if the people who I’m close to now knew who I was, I would be ruined. I’m known for being a great guy, friendly and easy to get along with, a community/political activist, a fervent volunteer in the community, and a person who rises through the ranks quickly due to successes at work. That was my mask, and I was good at it, so good that maybe I convinced myself along the line that was who I could really be, and that may of helped me change, and stop doing what I did.
I’m somewhat remorseful for what I did to those girls, but I don’t think I could ever face them to apologize. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I had this certain insatiable thirst that brought me to do what I did. I didn’t know how to stop, and just when I thought maybe I could, I’d find myself back in my pattern, back on the hunt.
I’m a good looking guy, and I can get girls pretty easily. I’m currently married to a beautiful woman that I met during this time of my life (not someone I raped, but someone who knew my mask during this time). So, anyways, after a while it became boring to go after the sluts and sorority girls that would easily throw their cunt after you. I wanted the thrill of the chase, and that’s what led me to forcing myself on girls. I would find attractive girls that were self-conscious about their looks. Girls who were pretty in their own unique way, but not the outgoing sort, mostly introverts, and girls that didn’t party or do wild things. Hopefully a girl who was a bit damaged, had a shitty ex-boyfriend, or family issues, came from a small shut in town, that sort of thing. So, when I showed interest in them they’d be completely enamored, they’d almost be shocked that a popular, good-looking, and well liked guy would be talking to them. I’d have that initial meeting at the library, a coffee shop, a work function, or a party where I had them convinced of what a great guy I was. I listened to them, and made them feel special, like they were a princess. Sometimes we might sort of hook-up that night (kissing, making-out, never anything more). The next day I’d call, and see when they wanted to get together again. I’d feign some excuse for not going out somewhere, but having them come over late in the night. It was college, and not a lot of people had transportation off campus, so it was typical for people to come over and watch a movie or something on a date.
They would come over, and I’d always make sure it was real cold in the room, cold enough so that when we started watching the movie I’d say something about being chilly, and grab a big fleece blanket for the both of us. We’d get kind of close, and then maybe ignore the movie for some kissing. After a while, we’d talk some more, and I’d start edging my hands around the under strap of the bra, or maybe a bit into her pants, just kind of playing on the edge to gauge her response. Some girls would stiffen up a little, and that’s when you knew they didn’t like what was going on. We were in my studio apartment, so the bed served as the couch, and it was easy to start sliding down throughout the movie so we’d be laying down. It was then that I could turn around and get on top of her. The girls usually didn’t know how to respond. Some of them were into it, and those nights were usually consensual and boring sex, sometimes followed up by a few more nightly visits before getting the boot. However, the great nights were the ones who squirmed, ones who didn’t want to give in. I’d have to shush them down, and try to work on them slowly enough so they didn’t know what was going on until it was pretty much already happening. I’m a muscular guy, over 6′ around 200 lbs. and most of these girls may have been 125-130, really tiny and easy to pin down. To be honest, even remembering it now, the squirming always made it better, they didn’t want it to happen, but they couldn’t do anything about it. Most girls don’t say no either. They think you’re a good guy, and should pick up on the hints, they don’t want to have to say “no” and admit to themselves what’s happening.
Alcohol helped. Having a few drinks during the movie, or doing a few jello shots that were “prepared for a party that weekend” would usually do the trick.
The aftermath was always different. Some girls left after about 15 minutes after. Some girls would stay until the morning and then leave. A few tried to call back, maybe blaming themselves for what happened or something. I never worried too much about being caught. Everyone knew me, and I worked with the police a lot, with administrators, and campus officials. I was on first name basis with the Chancellor and the President of Student Affairs, so if anything came down to a he/she-said I figured I’d be in the clear. Having her come over to my place also made it seem less predatory, as she came into my domain, and “could leave at any time”.
I guess that’s about it…seeing as just about everything has been said I’m gonna call it a day. I hope this view into a dark part of my history offers some insight into the mind of a serial rapist.
As the confession reveals, the rapist is not the stranger hiding in a bush, ready to attack you as you walk by at night, in a “dangerous area.” He could be popular. He could seem friendly. He could be attractive. He could be a date, an acquaintance, or even a close friend. This fact shatters our sense of security. We don’t want to believe that any one of us could be a victim of rape. That is why we victim blame.
In the article, “Why Do We Blame Victims?” Juliana Breines explains that:
“Victim blaming is not just about avoiding culpability—it’s also about avoiding vulnerability. The more innocent a victim, the more threatening they are. Victims threaten our sense that the world is a safe and moral place, where good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. When bad things happen to good people, it implies that no one is safe, that no matter how good we are, we too could be vulnerable. The idea that misfortune can be random, striking anyone at any time, is a terrifying thought, and yet we are faced every day with evidence that it may be true.”
The very idea that sexual assault can happen anytime, to anyone, violates our personal sense of control, so we refuse to accept that reality. We want to tell ourselves that, “I will not be raped, as long as I don’t get drunk.” We want to tell ourselves that, “My daughter will not be raped, as long as I make sure she doesn’t wear tube tops.”
When an anonymous girl gets raped, we tell ourselves, “Surely, she must have done something my mother, my sister, and my daughter is not doing.” We tell ourselves these things because it’s too disturbing for us to accept the reality that our sisters, daughters, and mothers can be raped anytime, anywhere, by people that they know, and in places that we thought they were safe in.
We blame the victim because we are afraid; for ourselves and for our loved ones. But instead of victim blaming, we should look for more productive ways to respond to this threat. We should be disturbed enough to do something about rape. We should be afraid enough to educate ourselves and our loved ones. At the very least, we should be human enough to empathize with the rape survivor; a person unfortunate enough to have had to endure the assault of a skilled criminal.
Survivors deserve our support, not our scrutiny.
Breines, J. “Why Do We Blame Victims?” Retrieved on September 26, 2014. From: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-love-and-war/201311/why-do-we-blame-victims
Culp-Ressler, T. (2013, October). “Actually, The Link Between Sexual Assault And Alcohol Isn’t As Clear As You Think.” Retrieved on September 26, 2014. From: http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/10/29/2844951/link-alcohol-sexual-assault/
Hess, A. (2013, October). “To Prevent Rape on College Campuses, Focus on the Rapists, Not the Victims.” Retrieved on September 26, 2014. From: http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/10/16/it_s_the_rapists_not_the_drinking_to_prevent_sexual_assault_on_college_campuses.html
Lisak, D. “Understanding the Predatory Nature of Sexual Violence.” Retrieved on September 26, 2014. From: http://www.middlebury.edu/media/view/240951/original/
National Violence Against Women Survey. “Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women.” Retrieved on September 26, 2014. From: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/183781.pdf
Rape Abuse and Incest National Network. Retrieved on September 26, 2014. From: https://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-offenders
The Cajun Boy. “If You’ve Ever Wondered What It’s Like To Be A Rapist, Have We Got A Reddit Thread For You!” Retrieved on September 26, 2014. From: http://uproxx.com/webculture/2012/07/rapists-explain-why-they-rape-on-reddit/
Posted on 16 September 2014.
I don’t understand the Filipino sense of national pride. The Filipino sense of national pride is hard to distinguish from geographical bias, or outright racism. Filipino pride, to me, is similar to being proud of being born in a territory one did not choose to be born in. In other words, it’s like being proud of an accident.
Filipino pride, as it is commonly expressed, is like watching a male human being with a complete set of fingers being proud of being male, human, and having a complete set of fingers. Personally, I have these qualities too, but I don’t think I should take pride in any of these qualities because I was born with them. I am grateful about these qualities, but there was no effort on my part done to result in having these qualities. In other words, I didn’t work to be human, or male, or to have a complete set of fingers. I was simply born that way.
What I’m saying is, as Filipinos, we should not be proud, by default, for being Filipino. What I believe people should take pride in is having qualities that come as a consequence of effort. Being disciplined,for example, is an attribute that a person should take pride in because discipline is a product of self-control; a consequence of effort. Being kind, I think, is another quality that one can be proud of. Any person who decides to be kind is worthy of praise in my book.
If there’s anything Filipinos should be proud of, it should be something that is achieved through a collective effort. For example, I do not think Filipinos should take pride in Pacquiao becoming champion, because most Filipinos didn’t really help him train. They contributed very little to Pacquiao’s achievement.
However, Filipinos could take pride in the fact that the Philippines ranks among the most gay-friendly in the world. On the survey called, “The Global Divide on Homosexuality,” 73% of adult Filipinos believe that “homosexuality should be accepted by society.”
This is something Filipinos can take pride in, because being considered gay-friendly, as a nation, takes a collective effort, a collective decision to be tolerant.
Just recently, the University of the Philippines expressed a similar, LGBT-friendly message as part of their performance in the recent 2014 UAAP Cheerdance Competition. Since the theme of the performance was gender equality (#pantaypantay), the UP Pep Squad had their female pep squad members lift their male counterparts. As they were performing, the same group initiated the passing of a rainbow flag, a LGBT symbol, to further highlight their advocacy for equality.
As a long-time student of UP (8 years and counting, for various reasons [don’t judge me]) I felt very happy that the UP Pep Squad members did that. I was happy because they promoted an advocacy that I was also promoting.
I felt a sense of kinship with them; like we were comrades and colleagues, fighting for a common good. I felt a sense of pride; I wanted to think that maybe I contributed somehow to the UP community that fostered this environment of tolerance that encouraged the UP Pep Squad to highlight gender equality in their performance. But the pride of the Pep Squad does not and should not extend to me, by default, just because I go to the same school as they do.
I didn’t help them train. I didn’t risk my life being thrown10 feet into the air. I wasn’t part of the group that made a collective decision to take advantage of a national platform to bring consciousness to an advocacy that they collectively supported. They deserve to be proud of what they did.
I didn’t take the risks that they did. I didn’t voice out my support for the LGBT community as loud as they have. In a simple cheer dance performance, the UP Pep Squad was able to force a nation confront the issue of gender equality. That’s quite an achievement, I think. If anything, I should be humbled by that effort.
All I can say is that I’m grateful and happy that I’m part of the academic community whose image these people represented in the best way I can imagine. Congratulations to the UP Pep Squad!
Image Source: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/379148/sports/campussports/binuhat-yung-lalaki-eh-up-pep-squad-s-pantaypantay-routine-a-hit-online
Posted on 09 June 2014.
We are in bed, spooning like lovers although we’re not. He is resting his cheek on my shoulder, creating some contrast with the statement he is about to make. Could you not wear clothes with plunging necklines?
I could have picked a fight but I didn’t. I said okay, thinking that would end a topic I didn’t really want to get into. I have been told that I am highly opinionated and as a woman, this often leads to feeling like my decision to care for cats is a savvy one. Domesticated felines are the only male companions that will never feel threatened by the thought that I might be, sometimes not always, smarter than they are.
But this man holding me felt compelled to explain his demands. I just don’t want to get into a fight. That can be categorized as sweet. But then again, I can’t really blame guys for looking if you’re wearing [slutty clothes].
He didn’t use the term, but I’ll make the leap and assume that this is what he means. This is not new, and this is not exclusive to men. My mother can never decide whether to feel horrified when I am wearing a sleeveless shirt that reveals too much of my bra or tsk-tsk at me for wearing long skirts and frumpy tops that make me look about twenty years older than her.
It’s funny that this man felt like he was doing me a favor by essentially commanding me to dress “more appropriately” when I have had to fight every urge to snicker whenever I see him. Half of his wardrobe is composed of collared formal wear with a pattern that’s much more suited to curtains of cabins in the woods. Or picnic blankets. When I finally told him that I think that he wears clothes that, to me, look hideous, I could tell that he was somewhat insulted. He chose not to be a dick about it (points for him), took it in stride, and said that maybe I ought to take him shopping. But, he said, someone else should come along. You might pick clothes that will only make me attractive to you [and not anyone else]. That’s a joke. And, as women aren’t meant to be taken seriously, so am I.
Our relations didn’t get very far. Two months. It reached its end shortly after a fictitious zombie apocalypse in Tagaytay, conjured in jest on a trip with his friends. He wanted to be valiant and save me from the undead. I wanted to fight zombies. He wanted to impress his friends by saying he doesn’t need to call anyone because I was with him. I said I would call a friend of mine, which I didn’t realize made him look bad in front of his friends. He frequently reminded me that he wasn’t ready to be in a relationship and though I liked him, I kept my distance and tried not to do anything that would make me seem, que horror, clingy. He wanted to keep his options open. So did I.
There are times when I feel something close to sad that our interest in each other became just another hump on the road, but this thought saves me: do I really want to be with someone who thinks that I am asking for it (it = perverted thoughts concerning my body) because I choose to wear a top that makes this climate change more bearable? I mean, it’s really hot. Is it unreasonable to want to wear a bare minimum amount of fabric in public? It’s not like I have enormous tits. I fell asleep in commute the other day and the driver called me “brad.”
And, to rephrase a question that’s been asked a million times before and probably a million more times in the future, how is it fine that he can casually tell me that he doesn’t want me to dress him because he wants to remain attractive to other women, whereas I would diminish my chances of getting a regular partner in life if I said that I want to dress a certain way to retain some appeal? I might as well go back to the Middle East and keep wearing a shapeless black robe. My body, in any other fashion, must be seen only by my lover—otherwise known as my rightful owner.
I do not intend to rally on paper and do my “slut walk” with words. I don’t contest the idea that women should be able to wear what they want, but I already do that. It’s a debate that’s settled in my head. A man attempted to rape me when I was wearing a normal shirt and yes, a short skirt, but I was wearing thick tights. Not even that experience stopped me from wearing the “sluttiest” things in my wardrobe. Besides, have you seen what my sex was wearing during the Victorian era? Do you honestly think no woman was raped during that time because they were wearing a skirt that reached past the feet (not just knees) and sleeves that tapered off at the wrist?
What bothers me is not that I am told what to wear, but that they (think) they have the right to tell me what to wear. Is my body not mine?
People debate about whether or not I have the right to prevent a human being from forming inside of me. What happens in my uterus is a social concern. I need a legislation that will entitle me to abort a pregnancy, even if the sperm came from an inebriated man I have never met in my life who felt like it’s perfectly fine to stick his dick inside me without my consent. The vagina is public property. It’s sold. It’s bought. It’s a thing that can be possessed.
No amount of fabric can cover that idea—that belief.
It is romantic, in a way, to be owned. It’s marketed as belonging, a thought that even I find appealing. I do want to belong to someone. I’d wear an abaya until the day I die if the man I love wants me all to himself. But only if I too can possess him and make him feel shame should I find out that he has been giving what is mine to another woman (or man).
My body for his body, in the interest of fairness.
Posted on 17 May 2014.
This week, we talk about Emily Letts, an abortion counselor who filmed her own abortion and posted it online.
You may also download the podcast file here.
Posted on 10 May 2014.
This week, we talk about a man who is protesting against marriage equality by trying to marry his porn-infested computer.
You may also download the podcast file here.
Posted on 28 February 2014.
Conversations for a Cause returns with an interview with The Amazing Randi. We ask him about The Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge and his experiences in testing fantastic claims by people who call themselves psychic.
You may also download the video file here.
Posted on 28 January 2014.
This week, we talk with Rebecca Watson of Skepchick, about using skepticism to address sexism and social justice issues. We also talk about her show with The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe as well as some of her book picks.
You may also download the podcast file here.