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  1. We Are Cartographers
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    We Are Cartographers Active Member

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    Rape Threats and Free Speech

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by We Are Cartographers, Aug 2, 2013.

    Here's a fun one for you:

    Someone puts Jane Austen on a bank note in the UK and then receives 50 rape threats an hour for twelve hours straight. RAPE THREATS. 50 of them PER HOUR. FOR A WHOLE DAY. Let that sink in for a minute. Then, in the aftermath of that story, journalists covering and criticizing the response receive BOMB THREATS. Like actual threats involving journalists' real addresses and promises that those addresses will no longer be there at such and such a time. For being a journalist that thinks that maybe threatening to rape someone isn't appropriate. Do we even have to talk about how fucking crazy that is?? All over a fucking Jane Austen bank note, fachrissakes!

    Anyway, this gentleman--a fellow early modern literature scholar and genuinely awesome dude--penned a nice concise little analysis of the overarching issues that is spot-on about the stakes involved.

    http://quiteirregular.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/rape-threats-its-a-free-speech-issue/

    Have a read and then let's talk about the crazy. Hint: if you intend to argue, for some reason, that rape jokes are just jokes and shouldn't be taken seriously or any other variation on "rape jokes are kind of okay," I'm going to verbally eviscerate you. It's not an ad hominem attack when your argument rests on you being a shitty person. Just so ya know. ;)
     
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  2. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    do you just want people to agree with you? I do actually agree with you but what's the point in a post that just asks for pats on the back?
     
  3. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Maybe because our young men have no respect for women and see them only as sexual objects?

    I'm sure it has nothing to do with our ten-year-olds watching porn and our six-year-olds listening to Macklemore.

    I think it's funny when we create a culture harmful to women and then react with shock when those boys speak and act according to their upbringing.
     
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  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Do you think it is a bunch of true misogynists that do this or just bizarre behavior by attention seeking trolls or a combination of the two? These kinds of posts in blog after blog lead me to think it's a different social disorder than simple extreme misogyny. People posts reams of profanity, all kinds of racist crap, death threats are common, you name it. Rape threats give them their jollies but then it seems to be true for profanity, death threats, any kind of threat. The targets are anyone from George Zimmerman's mother to the Steubenville rape victim. Feminists are frequent targets.

    I am not saying it is OK or that free speech principles make threats acceptable. It's not and they don't. But it seems to me there is some bizarre mental issue behind this kind of thing. Maybe these idiots have always been out there but they used to just yell at their TVs. Now they can anonymously yell in a blog comment or on a FaceBook page or a Twitter @address. They can protest a political issue without getting off the couch.

    I find it rather mind boggling there are as many nut-jobs out there as the flood of such comments would suggest.
     
  5. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I have read about this particular incident only a little bit, but as for the general topic:

    Threatening to rape somebody, is threatening them with physical violence. In quite a few countries, that's illegal and in some, such a threat is enough to give the recipient legal grounds for physical, pre-emptive retaliation. It's a gray area, but there are clear cases too: if you're a big, capable person and another one roughly your size or weaker threatens to punch your nose after a drunken verbal argument, most places wouldn't condone it if you went and shot the person who had threatened you. However, if someone says, with no hint of it being a joke, that they are going to kill you, rape you, break your neck etc, and their demeanor is threatening, quite a few countries / areas would see a pre-emptive attack as a justified response because you are allowed to defend yourself when there is an imminent threat of bodily harm directed at you.

    As for such threats uttered online / via some other indirect medium, they too are illegal in more than one country, and should be brought to the attention of the police, who would then investigate the matter if you pressed charges. I just believe that such threats are treated too lightly, at least in the countries I'm more familiar with, such as Finland. Additionally, penalties for crimes like rape or assault are ridiculously mild while tax evaders are all but crucified and left to die on the cross at the market square (since rape doesn't cost the government that much while taxes are, in essence, the government's wallet).

    Someone threatening to rape a woman, seriously or in jest, should have their knees broken because people like that don't understand reason. Ergo you have to "talk" to them in a way they do understand.
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    *:D*
     
  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Still something odd about the nature of threatening rape or death online when it's unlikely the person would make such a threat in person. So what does that say about the threat? Is the threat itself real, or is it just childish name calling?

    It's still mind boggling how many people feel a reward in childish name calling. I'm not surprised there are a slew of jerks who resent feminists, nor does it surprise me there are so many misogynists out there. It probably wouldn't surprise you to hear I get the brunt of that ignorance quite often.



    Back to the cultural thing, JJ has it wrong that listening to Satanic ;) music or the morals of those disgusting kids these days has anything to do with it. But I should mention the caveat, I do think there was a significant influence of rape culture in the Steubenville rape case (and in the two related cases). But that's a whole different plate of worms, the idea that it's OK to rape an unconscious girl because it's a party, or, the mentality that because she's intoxicated it isn't really rape was the problem there, not kids peeking at porn sites or listening to music. And I don't know how widespread that rape culture is, I don't see it in my circles but I have no idea if it's at all the norm with those Bible belter towns with their football heroes. ;)
     
  8. mbinks89
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    mbinks89 Active Member

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    I think it's appalling and illegal -- free speech doesn't cover the making of threats.
     
  9. IronPalm
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    IronPalm Banned

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    It's basically a topic for reinforcing one's stereotypes and patting oneself on the back for being a good person, yeah.
     
  10. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    Interesting, I have a hard time accepting the engineered construct of gender studies to explain the issue of rape, especially as proposed above (though I realize, not by you specifically. It's an overall approach to the subject that you're articulating).

    The reason I have such a hard time with it is because it assumes rape is a separate and distinct act in the human psyche, rather than part of a continuum of violent/dehumanizing/control acts that are precipitated by any one of a host of issues. Rape isn't, at its heart, an act of dominance against a female, it's an act of dominance against the Other. Rape on the battlefield is as old or older as domestic rape. I've come across accounts of conquering armies raping those they fought specifically to humiliate them and, if we're using Gender Study methodology, command gender inversion by penetrating their space on the battlefield, and those who weren't penetrated there, are penetrated sexually to ensure the complete gender inversion of the army.

    Bring that into the modern day, and I heard of a number of cases concerning male on male rape, which is just as much a penetration of space, and often for the same type of reasons. At the core of it all, it's about asserting dominance; male on male, male on female, female on male, or female on female. There are some times when it is not, but that's not for this discussion.

    As to the issue of influence by culture, yes, there is a distinct cultural influence concerning rape. The very definition of what is or is not rape is culturally influenced, as are the attitudes that correspond to it.

    WA Cart- you say you've listened to such and such music and watched such and such and yet, have never threatened to rape a woman. I would say that you're probably in the large majority. That doesn't, however, mean that there are those who are not able to differentiate, or who haven't had moderating influences in his or her life.

    In other words, WA Cart . . . don't make the mistake of thinking that everyone is as balanced as you. (I mean that sincerely, not as sarcasm).
     
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  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Still, the cause and effect alluded to by JJ was over-the-top ridiculous. If one wants to talk about specific cultural influences, that is legitimate. There truly was a cultural influence in Steubenville that defined assaultive rape as kids getting carried away, not real rape. It was 'real' rape. The specifics can be identified of that cultural contribution to the rape of three girls, one who tragically committed suicide. But the generalization JJ made had no basis in fact and WAC was just illustrating that point.
     
  12. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Here's a personal anecdote from Finland: it was New Year's Eve which I had intended to spend with a couple of friends, but one got ill, and the other was called to work, so I ended up hopping on a train and traveling well over 100 miles to a small town where I only knew one person so-so (an acquaintance, i.e. we'd talked online a couple of times, dug the same music, but that was it). Anyway, I went to her house party, there were around 10 of us, and turns out that there was one guy there who had raped two people who were also present: one girl, one guy. Both had been passed out at the time and they had been separate occasions.

    What boggled me was that they all still treated this rapist like a friend, like a normal guy, not like what he was, a rapist. He didn't look particularly creepy: clean-cut hair, glasses, tidy clothes, average height / weight, blended in perfectly with the rest of us.
    The guy he had raped was straight as an arrow and the girl had no interest in him, yet neither appeared to hold much of a grudge or, at least, they didn't show it. The girl had pressed charges at first, but had dropped them before it had gotten anywhere.

    So, at one point one girl at the party started puking in the shower (fully dressed though) while the rest of us were considering going to a local club (the only one in town). Thing is, I hate clubs so I chose to stay behind, make sure the now passed out girl didn't choke in her vomit. So there I was, dozing on one couch, she was out cold on another, and at some point the others returned. I didn't feel very sociable (I was coming down), so I tried to fall asleep again, pretending to be asleep, actually. That was when I heard the others whispering to one another. They were wondering if I had raped the passed out girl. Now, none of them really knew me and they had left me alone with her while she was still sleeping it off, so that's a valid question to ask, right? But their tone was as casual as if they had been talking about the weather, like it would've been the most natural, normal thing for me to do to take advantage of a defenseless girl who was still so drunk, she didn't even stir when people kept on drinking, talking, and listening to music around her.

    That was one of the weirder experiences because of the way these people viewed rape; no biggie, it happens, like stepping on dog shit. Needless to say, I didn't stay in touch with any of them even though, apart from that one 'quirk,' they were all as normal and average as teenagers come. Anyway, just thought I'd share since it kinda veers near the topic at hand, i.e. how (young) people regard rape and how rape is seen in different cultures. Not that most Finnish people look at it like they did, definitely not, but apparently some do.
     
  13. GingerCoffee
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    Wow, that's horrid. And it is exactly the cultural problem I was talking about. There is a serious rape culture problem in some circles. It's not because of any widespread moral decline, it's localized. I asked my son about it and he said no one in any of his circles were ever like that. He's college age.

    And am I correct to assume your normal circle of friends are not like that?
     
  14. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I see rape comments all the time in video game culture. The phrases "I'm going to rape you" or "You just got raped" are fairly common. In most cases, the person saying it doesn't mean it literally, but I think it does desensitize people because it's used so casually.

    I've heard that women/girls especially have a hard time in the video game community because such things are said to them all the time.
     
  15. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    I don't like speaking for others, but I have to say that JJ's comment is being misconstrued. He did not say rap/porn causes violence/rape. I believe he was referring to our culture being desensitized to atrocities such as rape by the inundation of negative stimuli therefore opening the door wider allowing a greater chance for such actions to occur.

    After weeklong discussion on the porn thread, I finally saw something while driving around today that made the desensitization argument click. Most of us pass by dozens to hundreds of billboards a day, never taking notice of them. Who uses billboards these days? Then I passed two billboards. The first read, "Do Billboards Work?" The second read, "They Just Did." It made me realize the significance of the mundane environment we propel ourselves through every day. Whether we are paying attention to it consciously or not, it will have an effect on us.

    It also brings to mind the subliminal messages shown in movie theaters in the '80s using the Tachiscope. Displaying messages that stated imperatively to go buy a coke had no measurable effect. However, when the adds were made more suggestive with sayings such as, "Thirsty? We have all sorts of refreshments in the lobby" sales increased. Subliminal suggestiveness can definitely have an impact on the way we behave.
     
  16. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Oh no, in my normal circle of friends... well, there's been more than one incident when a male outsider, who had raped or hurt a girl, ended up eating more than a few fists.

    I know that may sound disgustingly white knight-ish to some, but in many parts of Finland, hurting women is such a taboo that some guys go out of their way to avoid confrontations with women, just like in some circles it's accepted behavior for a guy to slap around his woman a bit now and then (read: when he's drunk and has decided she was flirting with another guy). In fact, it's a pretty common way to start a fight in a bar / on the street: claim the other guy hit / shoved / whatevered a girl and then kick his ass, often by ganging up on a lone guy. Rapists and guys who beat up girls deserve it, but when used as an excuse for violence, it's pure cowardice. It's just easy to get guys riled up against one fellow simply by claiming that he has hurt a girl.

    Then again, thinking about how the guy at the party acted about having been raped by another guy: it's entirely possible, even probable, that he acted like it was nothing because he was too ashamed to admit that it was a traumatic experience. That's another aspect of the white knight culture that's still quite prominent in several areas of Finland: men should never admit that they are hurt (be it emotionally or physically). Of course things are better now than they were a few decades ago, and the closer you are to the 'bigger' cities, the more common it is to accept that men, too, are humans instead of robots with no emotions and feelings and who never hurt or falter. I've lived 95% of my life in the central area, but I've still encountered this old-fashioned male ideal a lot, especially in the sub-urbs, and it's upheld by both, men and women. If you happen to live in a place where such values are still in and admit to weakness, no girl will touch you with a ten foot pole. Well, that's exaggerating a bit, but you get the gist; it's a safer bet to lick your wounds in private if you don't want a 'pussy'-stamp on your forehead as well as die a virgin. But just like you said about rape culture, this too is localized, rather than a nation-wide phenomenon.


    I'm not surprised. Asking a person a question always engages the brain, whether the question's recipient decides to answer ('yes,' 'no,' doesn't matter) or ignore it. That's why Geoff Thompson (a well-known self-defense instructor) advises you to always ask a question from your antagonist before you attack pre-emptively, because the question engages the brain and thus creates a 'blind moment' of perhaps a second or so when the recipient is vulnerable, i.e. reaction time is slower, attention is diverted to the question etc, so I'd imagine the same applies to advertising as well: questions engage the viewers better than statements, and the more they notice the products, the more it will sell.
     
  17. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    So you too are claiming it's all about kids' access to porn and that evil music those young people listen to? :rolleyes:



    As far as I know all those penis in the ice cube subliminal influence claims were found to be bunk by scientific research.

    But I'd be the last one to say marketing science isn't in its heyday.
     
  18. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I can't fathom how anyone would argue that such threats fall into the sphere of free speech, that we have the right to threaten fellow beings with violence?
    That was a good blog post though. I agree with the writer, that this type of harassment looks like an attempt to gag the women who exercise their right to speak freely (without threatening or insulting anyone).
    This has been in the news in Finland as well: Finnish female politicians recently opened up about the amount of rape threats they've received during their careers. I wonder, are male politicians also threatened with sexual violence, but they just shrug it off?
     
  19. undertheradar
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    Rape culture has to a certain extent become normalised whatever culture you're in - the person who said their college age son said it wasn't in his circle should ask him what term he and his friends use when someone leaves their Facebook account logged in and someone else posts something on their behalf - usually something the owner wouldn't normally post...
     
  20. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Things like this make me so sick, I have to stay away from discussing them. Suffice it to say, I think this should be a jailable offence.
     
  21. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    The government might not be able to do anything about what you say, but other people do - and if you make a rape joke or threat I hope someone kicks your ass. That's all I really think about this subject. Rape jokes just make me feel ill.

    I don't believe in Karma, but in my perfect world these people would get the snot beat out of them.
     
  22. IronPalm
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    IronPalm Banned

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  23. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I wouldn't put any subject matter entirely off the table when it comes to jokes, satire, parody, or what have you, whether I personally approve of the subject or find what is being said humorous. Actual threats are a different thing entirely, and it seems to me that such threats to a person should be handled by law enforcement.
     
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  24. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, I think we pretty much agree, [MENTION=14700]We Are Cartographers[/MENTION]. There are subjects that can be joked about that I'm not going to be capable of reacting to in the same way as others - rape jokes (I'm not female, and I agree with what you said, above); jokes about Christians (I'm not Christian so I am not going to be affected by those jokes on the same level as someone who is); jokes about racial groups I don't belong to; and so on). I wouldn't go so far as to say the subjects can't be jokes about just because a majority of people who do belong to that group are going to view it differently.

    When it comes to using "I was joking" as an excuse for threats or harassment, I have no sympathy for the perpetrator. Threatening someone with rape and then trying to get out of it by characterizing it as a joke doesn't fly with me, and I have no sympathy for the person who made the statement. Similarly, if someone made a bomb threat going through airport security and later said they were joking, I'd have no sympathy for them. If you're going to make threats against people, you deserve the consequences, and people who send rape threats to women (such as to female bloggers who discuss issues of sexism or gender inequality) should be treated as though their comments are serious. To me, that's different from a stand-up comedian making a joke, even if it is someone like Daniel Tosh, whose joke I might find stupid or offensive but which can't be taken as an actual threat against anyone.

    In gaming culture, for example, there have been all kinds of threats against women who speak out about harassment at conventions, or online during game play, and if a person making such threats is arrested for saying they're going to rape the woman in question, then the person being arrested got what they deserved as far as I'm concerned.
     
  25. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'd specify my stand on the matter a bit: threatening rape jokes or ones that demean the victim or her suffering suck. Ones that portray the rapist in a ridiculous light I could tolerate although I'd never tell one myself and if it was up to me, nobody would. Maybe it's okay if they knew that the people hearing the joke won't get hurt by it (e.g. two guys who know each other well joking amongst themselves or a rape victim telling a rape joke as a means to make light of what had happened to her etc).
     
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