Saturday, October 30, 2010

Stock Responses

A set of real responses to a set of strawmen Holly did the favour of listing out here:

Mr. What About The Men
"The real problem here is all these false rape accusations that are destroying our society! 90 million men are falsely accused of rape every second! A woman just has to sort of mumble a word starting with 'r' and a man instantly gets a life sentence! There are no instances on record of a woman actually being raped!"

The real argument being made here:  That false rape accusations are a serious problem.  Full stop.

Why this is brought up:  For the same reason that the point that "Most rapes are real" is brought up in discussions of false rape allegations - a mistaken belief that the person discussing rape (or false rape allegations) is unaware.

Effective argument:

Yes, the possibility of false allegations was omitted; but no, the omission is not sinister, it isn’t meant to imply that all rape cases are valid, or that anybody accused of rape is automatically guilty.
Nobody wants innocent men (and women) sent to jail for a crime they didn’t commit.
It’s not always simple to separate innocence from guilt, true, and when it gets into court it gets very not-simple; the existence of innocent men, however, is not sufficient to absolve the guilty, because some people are guilty, and we still need to do something about that, even if the efforts involved are going to be necessarily imperfect.

Ms. Tough Girl
"If women would learn martial arts--70-year-olds and women with disabilities can do this if they put their minds to it, darnit--and carry weapons everywhere, no one would ever get raped! All you have to do is be ready to threaten your own friends and lovers with lethal force at any moment, any anyone who can't do that must be weak or something."

The real argument here:  That women need to be more willing to use violence.

Why this is brought up:  The perception that most women are -not- willing to use violence, and that some of the problem could be resolved if this discrepancy between men and women could be resolved.  Most typical of fathers, who do follow this advice, and teach their daughters how to shoot.

Effective argument:

Yes, violence could resolve some number of rapes, but not all women are going to utilize violence, and wishing won't make it so; more, most rapes are not conducted in back allies.  Most rapes are perpetrated by people the woman in question knows, and the victim may be simply unwilling to use violence against this person as a result of emotional attachment.  (For example, a wife being raped by her husband.)

Potential pitfalls with argument:

The idea that the woman isn't willing to use violence against somebody they know may be something the arguer wants to change; that is, it is an argument on the basis of culture, where the opponent may not regard said culture as valid.

Mr. Model Victims Only Please
"The victim was no angel herself. If you look at her record, she's been arrested several times, she's a single mother, and she's living on welfare. So it's not like she was some innocent little virgin beforehand. None of this makes it right, but I'm just saying, let's not overreact like a good woman got ruined."

The real argument here: I have no idea.  I've never seen this argument used as such, although I have seen arguments -similar- to this which were in fact suggestions that the victim may not be trustworthy, a potentially significant point in a he-said she-said situation.

Why this was brought up: Speaking only to the version I -have- seen, the person bringing it up doesn't believe the person's testimony is trustworthy.

Effective argument:

In a situation in which it is one person's word against the other, moral character counts.  Ultimately no trial should be determined, however, by simply favoring one party in conflicting testimony; evidence matters.  Let the evidence speak for itself.

Potential pitfalls with argument:

If the evidence is unclear enough that moral character matters, we have reasonable doubt already.

Ms. Fashion Police
"Did you hear what she was wearing? I'm sorry but that's just not common sense. If you go out looking like a piece of meat, you have to expect you'll get treated like a piece of meat."

A variant of the following.

Mr. I'm Not Blaming Her But It's Her Fault
"Rape is never the victim's fault, of course. But I just want people to admit that she has some responsibility. That she maybe played a part in it. That in an alternate universe where she'd done things differently and she lived in a steel Battlemech wearing a chastity belt, she wouldn't have gotten raped, and she did make the choice to not use a Battlemech. I just need people to acknowledge that."

The real argument being made here:  Because she could have done something to avoid this, she bears responsibility.

Why this is brought up:  Because there -are- things someone can do to reduce their odds of getting raped, and the speaker doesn't want this fact to get lost, in fear that people will start acting more irresponsibly because nobody will talk about the consequences.

Effective argument:

The blame for acting irresponsibly and the blame for the rape are two completely separate matters, and that should remain the case: She could have behaved completely differently and not gotten raped if somebody else had made different decisions, the moral responsibility for the rape lays entirely with the rapist.

Irresponsible behavior is irresponsible behavior and should be discouraged as such - you don't need to hammer a rape victim with a guilt complex he or she doesn't deserve in order to achieve this, it is needlessly hurtful, and distracts attention from the truly guilty parties.

Ms. Couples Therapy
"I dunno, seems to me like they both made mistakes. Maybe he just wasn't reading her signals, or maybe she wasn't communicating clearly to him. A lot can get caught up in an emotional moment like that and I bet they both feel really bad right now."

The real argument being made here:  The situation was complex and the guy may not have been aware of the significance of his actions.

Why this is brought up:  Because it's sometimes a valid point.  Not all rape is obvious as such to the rapist.

Effective argument:

Varies significantly according to situation and specifics.  In discussing a rape trial, this might be a very valid point; somebody discussing a rape which happened in his or her past, rather less so.

A good opportunity to point out the invalidity of implied consent, however.

Mr. Offensive And/Or Baffling Metaphor
"Look, if you walk down a dark alley with a wallet stuffed full of money, sure it's still a crime when you get mugged, but what if the mugger is just trying to feed his family because he was laid off by an evil solicitor and the ghost showed him a lone crutch leaning in the corner?"

Yeah um no.  Ask for clarification if you don't understand what somebody is saying.  Communication is key.

"If you put the pieces together, her story just doesn't wash. She claims that he ripped her pants off, but her pants have a button fly. Ha! And she waited a whole forty minutes after the supposed rape to call the police--who would do that?"

The real argument here:  Exactly what it's made out to be: A victim's story is inconsistent.

Why it was brought up:  Because the person reading it found the story to be unbelievable.  Not that hard, really.

Effective argument:

Situation specific, and if you can't figure out an effective argument, you shouldn't be arguing.  Some rape accusations are false; the majority are not, but that says absolutely nothing about the individual case under discussion, and if there is a genuine fault in the story, that invalidates your priors, as while the majority of rape accusations are valid, the same cannot be said about -inconsistent- rape accusations.  (In statistical methodology, the prior is the information you have before you collect information about a specific case; the fact that most rape accusations are valid is a prior.)

Mr. Troll
"lol bitch deserved it loooollll"

Trolls are trolls.  Ignore.

Ms. You Don't Just Get To Decide Whether You Consent
"She was seen earlier in the night drinking with this guy, talking to him, and even making out with him! And then she went up to his apartment! What did she think would happen? No one ever goes to a guy's apartment unless they're consenting to every sex act he could possibly want."

The real argument here: Again, never seen this statement as such.  I've seen two variants on this argument, however; that you shouldn't put yourself in a situation you can't walk away from (See the discussion on Mr. I'm Not Blaming Her But It's Her Fault), and the second, generally addressing rape cases, that the rape claim is not consistent with her behavior.

Why this was brought up: Second variant, Because sometimes False Rape Accusations are made.

Effective Argument:

Second variant, We should not dismiss a rape case merely because somebody has behaved as if they intended to have sex; people have every right to change their minds about an intended course of action, even during the act of sex itself.

Mr. How Do I Not Rape Someone It Is So Difficult
"I just don't understand how to tell if someone is 'consenting' or not. What if she secretly decides she doesn't like it--am I a rapist then? What if she changes her mind midway through? Or afterwards? It's impossible to know what women want, so how am I supposed to know if they want to have sex with me or not?"

The real argument here:  Not any argument at all, this is a comment made, generally in broader rape discussions, by people who are genuinely confused by the rules of consent.

Why this was brought up:  Because they're worried they might slide into rapist territory unaware.  Insecurity, basically.

Effective argument:

Explain the rules of consent, dammit.  You have somebody who is confused, and they have good reason to be; consent is fucking complicated.  Help them through it, and try not to fuck them up along the way, there are enough people doing that already.  I doubt anybody this insecure is going to -actually- rape somebody, but maybe you'll help them come to terms with their sexuality.

Ms. Traditional Values
"You know, back when women dressed modestly and simply didn't go out drinking with strangers or going home with people they'd just met, this sort of thing didn't happen."

Real argument here: A variant on "Mr. I'm Not Blaming Her But It's Her Fault" with an extra twist.

Why this was brought up: Codgy fucker who doesn't like modern dating rules.

Effective argument:

The "Mr. I'm Not Blaming Her But It's Her Fault" argument will generally be sufficient, as the idea of irresponsibility is implicit in the argument; convincing people that modern dating rules are okay is beyond the scope of this document.  (In some environments, such as a sex blog, this is probably just a troll; in such cases, ignore.)

Mr. This Wouldn't Happen If Women Would Just Fuck Me Already
"This sort of thing is inevitable when women constantly act as gatekeepers and doom beta males to a life of frustration and loneliness. Of course rape is horrible, but the pent-up rage felt by men cast aside just because they weren't billionaire underwear models has to express itself somehow."

Real argument here: Either a genuine expression of misogyny or a troll.

Why this was brought up: To derail your blog post, most likely.  Misogyny doesn't lend itself to commenting in discussions of rape.

Effective argument:

Ignore.  Probably a troll.

Ms. Avoid The R-Word
"Wow, that is just not cool. Having sex under those circumstances--I mean, treating a girl like that--you know, being inappropriate with her--is a totally insensitive and downright mean thing to do."

Real argument here:  This isn't an argument.  This is the owner of a spoiled small dog who has no experience with the harshness of life.  What they're doing in the middle of a rape discussion is beyond me.  They probably stumbled across your page because "Cosmo" produces your blog in their searches, or something similar.  Mostly Harmless.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

In Response To...

...this: Link and this: Link

This subject is slightly irritating, because nobody seems to acknowledge that there are two COMPLETELY SEPARATE spheres of blame under discussion:

There's blame for behaving in an irresponsible manner.

And there's blame for the rape.

They are not the same thing.  I don't think you acknowledge this, and I don't think QP or LabRat are acknowledging this.

It's perfectly possible to behave in an outrageously irresponsible manner -without- getting raped; whether or not you get raped for behaving irresponsibly is not a matter of luck of the draw, but a matter of the personal decisions of others around you, which takes it out of your moral sphere.

Which brings us to the second frustrating quandary in this whole discussion, the idea of the "Force of Nature," which QP references.

The vast majority of people, the vast majority of the time, are wholly informed and in control of their decisions.

This is not to say that all people are in control of all of their decisions all of the time; any one of those factors can break down.

Excessive alcohol or drug consumption, as you mention, can severely impair your ability to make responsible choices, and can reduce some people to that "Force of Nature" variable.  We necessarily hold people morally responsible for what they do after they intentionally impair their ability to make the right decisions, that doesn't mean they have the ability to make said right decisions after deliberately impairing it.

Mental illness (or being intoxicated against your will) can -also- reduce people to a "Force of Nature" variable, and we as a society tend to be more reluctant to hold somebody morally responsible for their actions in these states.

To say we should never treat human beings as a force of nature, impossible to thwart, is wrong, and for precisely the same reasons as trying to treat actual forces of nature as volitional entities; you're ascribing qualities which do not exist.

There are three major problems beyond these two quandaries where most discussions get mired.  First, something almost nobody is discussing - the vast majority of cases of what the legal system would define as rape, the rest of us would call consensual sex (waking your partner up with oral sex is an example I used on my blog).  We have a legal system which blurs the definition of rape to smear a lot of innocent people, which tends to make those of us most likely to get smeared (if I, as a man, went to court because my girlfriend woke me up with oral sex against my will, I would not be taken seriously by the jury; if she took me to court for the reverse situation, she would) leary of the whole affair.

Second, there's a huge gray area called "consent" which makes everything screwed up.  If I say "Yes" and later think "No," I'm no longer consenting, and that was in absolutely no way conveyed to my sexual partner.  I know that sometimes I think I say things when really I didn't, and merely thought them, which can add an additional problematic element which we're all aware of - and that's without even getting into the fucked-up fact that "No" doesn't always mean "No."

And third, that there is this dichotomy of ideas that EITHER defending accused rapists is morally repugnant, OR we should argue that rape isn't really rape.

That third problem is what really turns this argument into a moral shitstorm, because nobody seems willing to challenge the dichotomy.

To challenge it:

First, the idea that accusation=guilt is FUCKED.  UP.  It's not misogynistic to defend men accused of sexual assault, and it's not even misogynistic that this means some guilty parties might go free - rule of law requires favouring freeing the innocent over punishing the guilty.  I blame this idea for turning rape into a philosophic gender war.

Second, the idea that guilt should be negotiated away with mitigating factors is ALSO fucked up, but I have less interesting things to say about that.

Friday, October 22, 2010

What Annoys Me...

...most about most special-interests:

That the center of debate tends to revolve around whose victim dick is the biggest.

It's not about who is morally right, it's not about logical consistency, it's about who can make themselves out to be the biggest victim of society.

Within the context of victimhood as moral sanction, Muslims suspected of being terrorists are entitled to fair trials and presumption of innocence by society, but suspected white rapists are not; after all, the vast majority of rape cases are not made up and it's really hard to bring somebody to court and the emotional distress and blah blah blah.

It's -precisely- the same in rape and terrorist cases; the majority of the people brought to court are not innocent.  We aren't supposed to structure our court system to punish the guilty, however, we're supposed to structure it to protect the innocent accused.

But the very same people who will happily donate money to the legal defense of a suspected terrorist will accuse those who donate money to the legal defense of a suspected rapist of misogyny.

Those donors would be masculinists, by the way, who fail entirely to buck the system; instead of arguing on the basis of morality, instead they try to claim big-victim-dickhood for the men.

I'm somewhat guilty of that myself at times, as I'll readily admit.  I argue on special interest forums and it's an absurd temptation to preempt their game.  The incredible success of these ventures is a horrible temptation in future dealings, and I suspect the time I've spent arguing has to some extent begun to characterize my thought patterns.

I can lay out thirty pages of well-reasoned arguments.  I know what a well-reasoned argument is, I know when I'm making one.  And I'll just be told I'm being insensitive.

Not that I'm wrong - as I said, it was a well-reasoned argument.  Not that I'm wrong, but that I have no right to be right.

But if instead I write out half a paragraph laying out why I'm the biggest victim, I get an instant apology.  (I'm a wordsmith, and I can make this happen.)  I don't prove that they're wrong - instead I tell them they do not have a right to be right.  And I get an apology.  And that is okay?

No, that is not okay.  It's not okay when I do it, and it's not okay when somebody else does it.  Right is right.

Special interests need to get over their obsession with victimhood, and get back to the root arguments of morality.  It's not -right- for black people to have to drink from a different water fountain than white people, we don't have to make black people into helpless victims to make this point.  It's not right that women can't vote, that they can't own property - no victimhood is necessary to stake these claims.

But once special interests run out of the root arguments of morality - once black people can drink from water fountains - the interest in that special interest dries up.

I think that's where victimhood enters into it.  It's no longer enough that blacks and whites drink from the same fountain; blacks drank substandard water for eighty years, they need purified water for the next eighty years to compensate them.  Women should get two votes instead of just one, and they should be given extra property, for the next two centuries.

Victimhood is a bum deal, however.  Nobody respects a victim, they just appease them; their interactions have more in common with fear than with respect, fear of hurting somebody's feelings.  That is a condescending mode of human interaction, and it is to be reviled.

Who profits, then?

The spokesmen for the victims, a parasite who auctions off the respect for those he or she claims to be representing in exchange for financial and moral sanction from the population at large.

Now, for those who are horribly offended by everything I just wrote:  Did you notice the not-so-subtle jabs at the start of this post towards men?  If you didn't, or you thought they were okay, you have absolutely no room to talk to me about sensitivity.