A fairly well-known fact about me: I read the comments.
I was reading the comments on Ophelia Benson’s post about how she is not attending TAM due to emailed threats, and I came across some comments arguing that it’s Ophelia Benson’s responsibility to prosecute the assholes sending threats because it’s victims’ responsibility to report rape.
They ranged from the horrendously offensive:
look it’s all ok for people to say she can decide what she wants to do with the threats. NO IT IS NOT!
if you are raped and do not report it and someone else is raped, you are partially responsible for that rape.
In this case, Ophelia has an obligation to report the threat and to share with other women, jerk men do not just attend TAM. They ATTEND lots of skeptic/humanist conferences. NOT outing this guy and reporting him, is like “oh well, I’m safe, good luck to the rest of you women.”
No, as a woman Ophelia has an obligation to her fellow women to keep them safe, and also to make sure these guys don’t “win”. To say “I quit” is to say “you win jerk man that has threatened me” and he has learned “wow threatening women really works well! I will try it more often!”
to the irrelevantly hypothetical:
No question willow is being tonedeaf… But let’s indulge the thought experiment with a bit of an adjustment:
Someone witnesses a rape taking place and dosent stop or report it and the perp continues to rape, to what degree, if any, is the witness responsible for the subsequent rapes?
I’m sincerely interested in how people would consider this scenario.
You know, I spent at least 7 years of my childhood in an abusive situation. If I had given up because people didn’t listen to me due to being a child, I never would have found people who did listen and spent my whole childhood being sexually abused. I believe in not giving up and to keep trying until someone listens and does something. I have two words for people who deny, belittle, mock, ignore, enable, etc when it comes to sexual harassment and abuse, but I won’t say those two words here. Research on the matter be damn and don’t give up until someone listens and does something to help. It may take a long time, but someone will eventually do something to help the victim, so they can eventually be a survivor.
I’m someone who was raped and didn’t report it, so make of my offense what you will. I’m also someone who witnessed domestic violence and didn’t report it and a recipient who witnessed death threats and suicide threats and didn’t report it. I don’t feel guilty about not-reporting any of these events.
I’m also a victim of credit-card fraud who didn’t report it (it was something like a $20 charge from a convenience store after I left my wallet on a train. I just canceled the card.) I don’t feel guilty about not-reporting that either.
The domestic violence I didn’t report because I was 4 and didn’t know what to do or really believe that it was actually a serious situation. The death threats and suicide threats I didn’t report because I had already ruined his life and put him in this unstable state, so how could I send him for a stay in the mental hospital as well? Those aren’t very relevant to this situation, so let’s talk about why I didn’t report the rape.
First, I had other shit to do. I had a new full-time job and I didn’t know how to call in sick and say I was raped and would be out today getting an exam at the hospital (but I’d be checking email periodically). I did not see the point of spending that amount of time and money on something that wouldn’t make the rape any better anyway.
Second, I had very little evidence. He didn’t come inside me and I wasn’t injured, so I only mayyybe had DNA to prove that sex occurred and nothing else. And given that consent is a defense and the prosecution is responsible for proving lack of consent, I had little chance of getting a conviction anyway. Who’s to say I didn’t invite him back to my apartment for consensual sex? Well, me, but given the cultural narratives around rape, I wasn’t going to bet on convincing a jury of that.
Third, I felt disgusted and ashamed after the whole experience and couldn’t imagine going through a physical exam or a police report with intrusive questions about my sexuality, and I certainly couldn’t imagine going through a jury trial in which I would have to testify. (I still have a really hard time saying the word “rape” out loud, and I have a hard time talking about sex in any non-hypothetical way.)
Fourth, I wasn’t even really sure how to report it, or where to go. Would I call 911, even though this wasn’t an Emergency that was happening Right Now? I assume now that I would call my local police non-emergency line, but I was not thinking clearly at all in the direct aftermath of the assault.
Basically, my focus post-rape was on keeping my life going, not on Taking a Stand for Justice that was incredibly unlikely to be successful. And if you want to tell me that I was WRONG!!1! to do that, the burden of proof is on you.