Friday, April 26, 2013

"Don't Be That Girl" is Utter BS

[Content note: detail discussion of rape, rape culture, and rape apologism. Originally from]

Over at my Tumblr, I recently published this submission. I didn't add any analysis because I assumed that people could see what was inherently wrong with the statement which read: “Just because you regret it…doesn’t mean it was rape. Don’t be that girl.” But I assumed wrong. I mean, I was even called sexist for this post because and I quote, “how is this rape apologism? there ARE in fact women who claim they were raped when they werent. are you saying that women never regret the sex they had and lie about it? that itself is sexist. [sic]"
(Um, maybe look up what sexist means.)
So let me break this down point by point.

1) False rape accusations are actually exceedingly rare. Like I linked yesterday, this campaign is taking on a non-issue. Only about .6% (or 3 in 500) accusations of rape are false. Why would we need a campaign to address this insignificant issue when it directly conflicts with an actually significant social problem which is that…
2) Rape is exceedingly common. As a VERY conservative number (due to rampant underreporting) 1 in 6 women is the victim of sexual assault. That is 17% of ALL women, compared to .6% of accused rapists. (POINT 6%, not even 6%.) The difference in social problems here is so vast that they are truly in different leagues. Any compassionate, logical person should see that the real problem we face as a people isn’t that women are falsely reporting rape, it’s that PEOPLE ARE BEING RAPED. 
3) Rape is underreported. This campaign is framing it as if the real problem is false accusations when in reality we know that not only is rape exceedingly common, but it is also underreported so that actual rapists are never facing consequences for their actions. THAT’S something we should be worried about. 
4) It is not for the public to decide when there is a “false” rape accusation. I saw a BUNCH of people writing their personal anecdotes of they knew a girl who lied about rape or they knew someone who was such a total slut but then said she got raped and that can’t be true or that they had a male friend/family member/boyfriend who could never do that and was falsely accused so therefore the false reporting of rape is a real issue we should all be super-de-duper worried about. 
Just no.
How in the world can you, as some objective outside person know what happened to a woman that makes her accusation false? So she’s a slut? That doesn’t mean she consented to the time in question! So you don’t like her? That doesn’t make the accusation not true! So you like the dude in question? That still doesn’t mean that he’s not a rapist. I know this is hard to accept, but it is possible that someone close to you IS a rapist. Seriously. 
Rape culture narrowly defines rape as some grotesque stranger who attacks a victim in a dark alley, when in reality there are rapists all around us. Take a look again at the stats linked in #2. This is no small thing. (I hate that I need to put this caveat out there but NO I’m not saying all men or even many men are rapists, I’m just saying that it’s possible you know one and you might even like/love him, but that doesn’t change what he did.)
5) You cannot consent if you are really drunk. This is such 101 stuff. I can’t believe I have to specify, but people on the post were actually suggesting things like “getting drunk and sleeping with someone is not rape!” without even entertaining the fact that consent requires someone to be aware of what is happening. MRAs and other rape apologists might try to frame it as “she got drunk, we had sex, and she just regretted it” when in reality the woman was taken advantage of in her intoxicated state and did not consent.
6) This campaign is mocking an actually productive campaign. This is a reaction to the “Don’t Be That Guy” campaign which asks men to examine their role in sexual violence. That original campaign made the positive assertion that, “In order to effective change and end rape we must put the onus on the ones responsible for the assault to be responsible for stopping it. Don’t Be That Guy is intended to address alcohol-facilitated sexual assault without victim-blaming.”
That’s fucking amazing and can actually make a change in our rape culture, but then this BS reaction came along and brought us back to myths…
7) This campaign perpetuates myths about false rape accusations. In case I didn’t hit this hard enough in point #1, there isn’t a substantial problem of false rape accusations. Rape victims are so shamed by our society that there aren’t really women lining up to claim something so serious unless it’s true (and AGAIN they often don’t say it even when it IS true.) But this campaign makes it seem like false accusations are so rampant that we need some kind of public awareness raising. This which could have horrible consequences like creating even more public skepticism and negativity toward every victim and…
8) This campaign can further shame victims into silence. At its worst, this campaign could make women who were raped feel like they will be causing a problem if they speak up. According to the data, it’s much more likely that rape victims will come into contact with this messaging than false accusers. If a woman internalizes the messages of this campaign it could make her turn blame inward and think things like, “Well I shouldn’t have had so much to drink.” It could drive even lower levels of reporting. Whereas, if you think about the original ”Don’t be that guy” campaign, if a man internalizes that messaging the outcome would just be him being more aware of when a woman is truly consenting.
OK, I think that’s all I’ve got for now…I hope that’s enough to lay out why this “Don’t be that girl” nonsense is THE WORST. 

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