You know, we’re just too hard on rapists these days

You know, we’re just too hard on rapists these days

The latest questionable post on Feministing is not what I would have initially expected upon reading the first line, especially considering my experience with the man-haters of feminism. But when I dove deeper into the post, it started making more and more sense… at least, from a liberal standpoint.

I think we need to stop demonizing rapists.

I feel a little strange saying this, especially when violence against women is an under-addressed issue, and most rapists go free because no one will believe that they could have committed sexual assault. Women are typically blamed while men escape any consequences for their actions.

But I think a big part of that problem is that we demonize rapists too much.

Everyone pictures rapists as psychopaths, hiding in the bushes with knives. As feminists we’ve worked really hard to dispel that myth, explaining over and over that most rapists assault someone they know – friends, acquaintances, dates, and partners.

A big part of the reason that people aren’t catching on to what that really means is that they are still picturing men who commit sexual assault as evil or morally corrupt. If their friend isn’t evil or morally corrupt, he couldn’t possibly commit sexual assault.

Some rapists are just master manipulators, and hide the fact that they are vicious predators, as evil as any real human could be. I don’t really believe in evil, and I’ve known men personally who were certainly not anywhere near it, yet still committed the horrible crime of rape. A lot of guys who commit sexual assault actually do have a conscience, and actually don’t want to be sexually assaulting women.

We need to become more effective at separating the act from a good vs. evil judgment of a person. We can’t be naive and think that having a polite chat with a rapist will necessarily stop him, but we have to acknowledge the complexities of individuals. There are a lot of men who need a lot of education, but we need to find a way to talk about rape that places the responsibility for rape squarely on the perpetrator’s shoulders without *necessarily* condemning him forever.

We need to show people that they can reconcile their belief that their friend has a good heart with the reality that he has committed rape. Rape is a terrible crime with terrible consequences, I know this personally. But when so many men think that the whole sexual assault discussion doesn’t apply to them or their friends because they aren’t knowingly, intentionally, maliciously committing sex crimes, we’re losing an audience that might actually want to change.

Just as we need a performance model of sex (as articulated brilliantly by Thomas Macaulay Millar in Yes Means Yes), we need a performance model of sexual assault. The crime is about the actions of an individual, not the goodness or evil in his or her heart.

One commenter added onto this idea:

I’m not sure the OP is so much as saying that rapists can be good people, but that rapists are often OTHERWISE good people, and that demonizing rapists as monsters makes it easier for rapists, potential rapists and peers of rapists to say “well, that doesn’t apply to me or my friends, because we are good normal people, who don’t plot attacking women in alleys.”

Oh, and several commenters mentioned that rapists are not born, they’re created. And who creates them? The patriarchy!

What this really comes down to is the classic liberal love of moral relativism. There’s no such thing as “good” or “evil”. What is “right” for us is not necessarily always right, and what we see as “wrong” may be seen as “right” in “other” cultures. And the failure to recognize the difference between good and evil, the failure to recognize that evil does actually exist, can be dangerous for this country.

The thought that we demonize rapists too much is preposterous. The poster, and a large majority of the commenters, are saying, over and over again, that rapists can be good people that just did something bad. And it’s interesting to note that this is coming from a community of feminists, who whine incessantly about men and the “patriarchy”.

Now, I do not necessarily think that all rapists are evil. But I don’t think it is possible for any person who would commit rape to be a good person. I don’t think anyone who would commit murder can be considered a good person, either. You cannot separate someone’s actions from who they are, which is the argument being made here. I don’t care if some rapist spends time with blind-deaf orphans who live in the projects every day — if he then turns around and rapes women, then he is a bad person. A good person does not commit evil actions. Saying that you condemn the actions without condemning the person is nonsense; the person is the one who did it. And these women are sitting here talking about how you “don’t know what’s in their heart”?? It’s complete BS. You cannot have a good heart and commit an evil act. It’s basically an argument of moral relativism.

This entire premise is just another example of how deeply rooted in extreme liberalism modern feminism is. It isn’t about what’s best for women; it’s about following an ideology.

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  • fozzy says:

    I think the idea she is trying to push here is the ‘all men are rapists’ myth. If you don’t call rapists monsters, then it’s easier to demonize every man.

  • Andy says:

    I think this argument makes a lot of sense when you consider the “men” that many feminists hang out with.

    Remember the Chris Rock joke where he said abortion is a beautiful thing because you know the women at pro-choice rallies are f***ing. The truth is most guys who hang out with feminists are just looking to get laid. Compare them with pro-life guys who often believe you shouldn’t have sex until marriage (or at least until there’s a committed relationship). Its pretty obvious who is more likely to be a rapist.

    This is another feminist excuse to ignore the obvious. They want to be sexually liberated, but seem to ignore the fact that just attracts guys who treat them like crap.

  • Cylar says:

    Neither the author of the quoted piece (nor Cassy) draw any distinction between forcible rape and statutory rape.

    Forcible is the “classic” definition – a sexual assault committed at the point of a weapon, threats of same, and/or brute strength to subdue the victim during commission of the act.

    Statutory is defined as any sexual act committed upon a victim who is legally incapable of giving her consent. This includes women who are either drunk beyond all reasoning ability, or who are underage in their jurisdiction and therefore not considered to be in possession of the facts.

    This latter definition also covers much of what falls under “date rape,” which incidentally is a phrase I’d like to see dropped from our lexicon. Either it is rape or it is not. If it is, either it is forcible or statutory. There is no such thing as “date rape.”

    The former is obviously the more serious of the two, and generally the kind more often committed by strangers. The latter is more common among people who know each other. The author of the original piece does women everywhere a grave disservice by confusing the two.

  • Mark says:

    Excuse my language, but don’t these broads have anything better to do than to post that twaddle?

  • Arium says:

    This seems to be a common theme in the right-wing blogosphere: Take a superficial and inaccurate reading of a post, then go on a rant that has little to do with the original post.

    Reread the last paragraph you quoted under the heading “One commenter added onto this idea.” The paragraph explicitly clarifies that the OPs point was that the problem with demonizing is it makes it difficult for us to believe that our friends who are apparently not demons could be rapists.

    A rejection of the religious concept of evil does not equate to moral relativism. Your understanding of moral relativism is flawed.

    “It isn’t about what’s best for women; it’s about following an ideology.”

    Your ideological filters somehow made you unable to input the dozens of comments in that thread that made it clear that few think that rapists are treated too harshly. (I saw one comment out of the hundreds that was an exception. The commenter reported an uptick in rape victims who are unwilling to press charges due to the draconian punishments that would result. I wouldn’t characterize this as being not about what’s best for women, either.)

    Finally, your crack about “man-haters of feminism” is amusing. I am a man and I feel quite welcome at Feministing Community.

  • bobv says:

    I’ve always wondered why feminists were such fans of rapists like clinton and the kennedy clan. I guess this mentality explains it.

  • Shaniquequa says:

    I think you got the wrong idea on what she meant. People do think a rapist is the type of guy who throws in you in a dark alley, throws a knife to your throat, and yeah we need no more details. Tht does happen but majority of the time women get raped by family, friends, boyfriends, husbands, etc. etc. People they know and because a girl gets raped by her boyfriend he might get off because he’s not that brutel rapist in our minds. I think she meant we have to learn that a rapist can be anyone. It can be the “nice” guy who lives next door to you. It can be your boss. It can be your date. It can even be your best friend. That’s what I think the whole point of the article was.

  • Shaniquequa says:

    Um Andy, I consider myself a sexually liberated person and it was only because I wanted to be involved in MY sexuality and I wanted to be in control of MY own sexuality. I have attracted bad men in my life but the beautiful thing I attracted them at the point of time I had low self esteem. And when I had low self esteem I had no say in my sexuality because I was too scared too. I let the guys in my life decide it for me and it led to a lot of bad things. Now I answer for myself and I have a great boyfriend now for the past year and it’s to be continued. He’s sweet, kind heared, honest, doesn’t judge me even though he knows every bad detail of my past, cooks for me, rubs my stomach when I’m having cramps, deals with all my bitching when I’m angry, supports me no matter what, I guess that’s a pretty bad guy. Now that I’m in control of my sexuality and I’m sexually liberated, I knew what men I wanted and if that guy didn’t fit my standards, he was cut automatically. I would say that being sexually liberated isn’t a bad thing.

  • Chris says:

    I think Fozzy hit the nail on the head in comment #1. The idea the OP is pushing is that all men should be considered capable of rape if not rapists. The fem movement has already been successful in painting all men as child molesters. Airlines with polices that prevent children from being seated next to single male passengers, or even worse, men not being accepted as teachers in any classroom before High school.

    Can we find a crime that is more often committed by women(poisoning?) and try convincing society all women are poisoners?

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