Phyllis Schlafly: Punishing Spousal Rape Like Rape Is Malicious

Scott at Lawyers, Guns and Money highlights this amazing quote from anti-feminist founding mother Phyllis Schlafly:

A man’s life has been sacrificed, and three children have been denied their father by malicious feminists who have lobbied for laws that punish spousal rape just like stranger rape and deny a man the right to cross-examine his accuser. They have created a judicial system where the woman must always be believed even though she has no evidence, one in which the man is always guilty.

Every once in a while, I forget that there are some opponents of feminism who still haven’t accepted the basic premise that women – even married women – are people, not property. Thankfully, there are always folks like Ms. Schlafly around to remind me.

As for the case that Schlafly refers to, there doesn’t seem to be anything online about it from trustworthy sources, so I lack enough information to comment. But as Scott points out, it’s clearly not the case that our judicial system automatically believes women – and sometimes, unjustly, it’s just the opposite.

NOTE: This comments thread is reserved for feminist, pro-feminist, and feminist-friendly posters only. If you suspect you wouldn’t fit into Amp’s conception of “feminist, pro-feminist, or feminist-friendly,” then please don’t contribute to the comments following this post.
This entry posted in Anti-feminists and their pals, Rape, intimate violence, & related issues. Bookmark the permalink. 

100 Responses to Phyllis Schlafly: Punishing Spousal Rape Like Rape Is Malicious

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  5. 5
    Amber says:

    I find it shocking that any woman would want to softpedal rape. No matter who’s doing the raping. It makes me sick to my stomach.

  6. 6
    Lauren says:

    Maybe we should punish by sexual position. Hell, let’s keep missionary rape legal. They did it in the Bible!

  7. 7
    Polymath says:

    and if he is a rapist, schlafly thinks that keeping him from his kids is a deprivation? oh, yes, ms. schlafly, that’s what we need: more kids growing up with violent men as role models. good thinking.

  8. 8
    lilah says:

    As vile and warped a woman as I think she is, I will say this… she is a brilliant manipulator and strategist. There was an article in the New Yorker a few months back about her, and I somehow fostered a grotesque affection for her in this awful way. She is like my political arch nemesis, and for this, we are intricately tied. Lines like, “Almost everyone who reads the record of what happened to William Hetherington concludes that he was unjustly accused…” Brilliant, Phyllis, brilliant!

  9. 9
    Wally Whateley says:

    Schlafly is vile.

    I’ve got nothing else to say. She’s a vile, vile person.

  10. 10
    Pat Kight says:

    Phyllis Schlafly. Huh. Is that old female impersonator still alive?

  11. 11
    Hugo says:

    Aaargh. Schalfly’s position is so clearly based on a pre-Christian notion of wives as property, and not on the biblical understanding of “mutual submission.” (A notion that most definitely does not include the right to rape!) It’s frustrating for a feminist Christian, because Schlafly — among others — gives Christianity such an ugly name in the feminist world.

  12. 12
    Tara says:

    Hugo,

    I kind of get what you’re saying but I’m not sure it’s accurate. In my canon law course this year I wrote my paper on sex and consent, and although the ideal of mutual submission may have underlaid the law, it certainly made no provision to *legally* address spousal rape. The spouse who rapes may be failing to live up to the ideal, but really the spouse (and yes, the language is insistently and deceptively gender neutral) who doesn’t consent is also (and probably equally) guilty of betraying her commitment to the marriage, the original consent to which (under the code until 1983) included the consent to “perpetual and exclusive right to the body). So she doesn’t have any right to not consent, and if she thinks she does, it indicates that she didn’t have sufficient consent to the original marriage and it might be subject to anulment.

    I certainly saw NOTHING at all that would lend support to the prosecution of spousal rape as a crime (in secular or canon law) and plenty that would tend to mitigate it.

    So maybe that also reflects a ‘pre-christan’ understanding of marriage. But it got itself pretty deeply entrenched in Christianity, to the point where calling it ‘pre-christian’ seems like a movement to deflect harm and evil away from the religious tradition that you hold dear and onto others (who aren’t around to defend themselves…)

  13. 13
    magikmama says:

    I’ve always rather thought that it should be patently obvious that once marriage became not a property contract but something based on affection, that spousal rape should, in all logical sense, be considered an even worse crime than stranger rape.

  14. 14
    KnifeGhost says:

    Geh. Ugly as this is, it’s par for the course for Schlafly.

    I’ll limit my response to rolling my eyes and making the jerk-off gesture.

  15. 15
    zuzu says:

    Jesus, Phyllis. That ship sailed more than 25 years ago.

    Marital rape was even a plot point on Barney Miller, fer cryin’ out loud.

  16. 16
    Hershele Ostropoler says:

    My religion recognizes raping one’s wife as wrong

  17. 17
    dorktastic says:

    Pat King,
    As much as I abhor Phyllis Schlafly, I think calling her a “female impersonator” is way out of line seeing as there is nothing wrong or vile about being a female impersonator (and for the record, I have never seen someone explicitly identify themselves as such, and generally regard it as pretty offensive language).

  18. 18
    Ampersand says:

    Although I don’t want to create a pile-on, with all due respect, Pat, I agree with Dorktastic. And I’d add that the phrase “female impersonator” is also wrong because it implies that there’s only one correct way that “real” women think.

    I think it would be better just to say that P.S. is an asshole.

  19. 19
    evil_fizz says:

    First of all, the fact that marital rape has only been illegal in the U.S. since 1976 should give everyone pause. It was only punished differently from stranger rape in that *it wasn’t a crime at all*. In North Carolina (the last state to outlaw marital rape) it was legal until 1993.

    I also find Schlafly’s take on rape shield laws completely disingenuous. They exist to avoid the “but she’s a slut!” defense and to prevent things like having your landlord called to testify about how many different men you bring home to your apartment. Grrr, grrr, and more grrr. What an ignorant fool.

  20. 20
    Hugo says:

    Tara, are you referring to 1 Corinthians 7:3-5? The conservatives have often cited this to argue that there is no right to say no in marriage:

    3The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer.

    Two ways to read it: the traditional way is that it means you can’t say no to your spouse; we are called to “fulfill marital duty” as our bodies do not belong to us. But most egalitarian Christians note the key reference to the essential nature of “mutual consent”, and suggest that Paul means that is always required in sexual activity.

  21. 21
    Lauren says:

    majikmama: I wish you were right.

  22. 22
    Amanda says:

    I think it would be better just to say that P.S. is an asshole.

    That’s not fair to assholes, even the 1% that are tighter and wrinklier than she is.

    *ashamed of myself, but couldn’t resist*

  23. 23
    stay at home dad says:

    thank you amanda. i’ve had a rough day and i really needed that laugh!

  24. 24
    mythago says:

    Right on, Amanda. After all, assholes serve a useful and important purpose.

  25. 25
    Tara says:

    Hey Hugo,

    Actually I’m talking about the Roman Catholic code of canon law. While I know it doesn’t stand in for “Christianity,” I do think that it counts AS Christianity and it’s difficult to discredit what’s been embedded in Catholic tradition for hundreds of years as “pre-Christian.”

    More details here: Tara’s canon law paper.

    It was canon 1082 of the older version of the code of canon law:

    Consensus matrionialis est actus voluntatis quo utraque pars tradit et acceptat ius in corpus perpetuum et exclusivum, in ordine ad actus per se aptos ad prolis generationem.

  26. 26
    Tara says:

    Some excerpts relating to how that canon has been interpreted, even as recently as (um, sorry to quote myself!):

    “1980 Kenyon: Kenyon seeks to preserve ius in corpus, affirming that “each party to the bond has a right to the conjugal act. This right does not admit of limitation, nor does it admit of conditionality.” (136-8) The use of the right to procreative sex may be interrupted, but only by mutual consent, implying that mutual consent to the sex act is not required.

    Ahern, in his footnotes, actually alludes to the possibity of a husband raping his wife:

    “if having done all she could be expected to do to persuade the party not to continue seeking relations, relations occurred [italics mine],” then the wife may perhaps morally use contraceptives. (974)

    This is the closest that any author comes to acknowledging that ius in corpus, is a right that is, in practice, enforceable by husbands against wives but not really the other way around.

    In Fellhauer’s historical survey, he describes a case where

    “it was judged that the couple’s decision not to cohabit was a mutual one and that the ius in corpus had not been denied, although the man [italics mine] had never intended to implement it.”

    The assumption is that the possibility that the woman might have desired it need not be considered because it is clearly the man’s perogative to request, or, more disturbingly ‘implement’ sex, and the woman’s to not deny it. (Fellhauer, 1979 at 89)”

  27. 27
    Hugo says:

    Thanks, Tara — despite my training as a medievalist and my flirtations with Holy Mother Church, I tend to forget canon law; my low-church Protestantism sends me straight to Scripture time and again!

  28. 28
    shiloh says:

    lilah,

    You should track down Carol Felsenthal’s Phyllis Schlafly: The Sweetheart of the Silent Majority – fascinating book by a feminist who hit a point where she “stopped being horrified by Phyllis Schlafly and started being fascinated” in part by the “mass of contradictions” that is Phyllis Schlafly. The book is quite dated at this point, but I found it fascinating. No idea what drives Schlafly, but she is a piece of work….

    In North Carolina (the last state to outlaw marital rape) it was legal until 1993.

    Last I knew, marital rape was still legal in six (I think?) states, Ohio being one of them – a friend of mine who just got a divorce was unable to prosecute her now-ex for rape because the laws aren’t on the books.

    Hugo,
    I don’t think you have to be an egalitarian to argue the 1 Corinthians passage outlaws rape – it says the wife owns the husband’s body, so I should think it obvious that she can forbid him to use that body to rape. I’ve seen a conservative author do gymnastics to try to “fix” that passage so it doesn’t give the same rights to the woman as it does to the man – can’t be done, IMHO. The Greek words for each are idential, and the passage specifically says the woman’s power is like unto the man’s.

    Even those who argue “headship” as meaning “leader” have no Biblical grounds for giving the husband the right to the wife’s body – just as Galatians 3:28 makes men and women equal before God, 1 Cor. 7:4 makes them totally equal in terms of sexuality. Most of the Christians who argue that men and women have different roles in marriage recognize that women have the same relationships with God that men do – I trust they’re eventually clue into the fact that 1 Cor. 7:4 gives women the same sexual rights men have.

    Not the peabrains who argue that women can only deal with God via the male “umbrella of authority,” of course, but those capable of tolerably coherant thought should get it if someone lays it out for them.

  29. 29
    james says:

    I though bean’s post was really interesting.

    How did the marital rape exemption work when it was in place? If a husband ‘raped’ his wife, then it wasn’t rape so far as the law was concerned. But were the other aspects of the cime discounted too? Could he be charged with assault and/or battery if force or the threat of force was used?

    If just the sexual aspect of the crime was discounted that implies that the violence or threates associated with the rape was a crime (though the sex wouldn’t be), and no crime would be committed in cases when the wife was unable to consent (asleep, unconscious, and so on).

  30. 30
    Tara says:

    Hugo,

    I guess my point was that going back to scripture doesn’t save you because there’s no such thing as a purely scriptural tradition. Locating something outside of Christian scripture doesn’t make it pre-Christian if it’s found a home in Christian religion and culture.

  31. 31
    Empiricist says:

    james – American statutes used to define rape using the term “a woman not his wife,” making spousal rape impossible by definition. As for the other crimes, there were a bunch of common-law rules that defined when it was “reasonable” for a man to batter his wife; those started to get diminished or abolished in the early 19th century and I’m not sure when they were completely gone (or if they still are in every state). In any case, a lot of this was covered by the fact that these crimes tended to go unreported and unprosecuted, since all the male actors in the system (police, prosecutors, judges, juries) tended to be unsympathetic to the women’s legally valid complaints.

    Amp – what is wrong with this woman? Assuming she’s characterizing the situation accurately, her points are mostly reasonable. The court’s refusal to give the man a lawyer when he couldn’t afford one on the grounds that he had assets to his name sounds particularly indefensible, given that the assets in question had been frozen by the divorce court. No trial where the defendant didn’t get a lawyer is a fair trial, no matter how compelling the evidence. It also appears that the prosecution suppressed relevant evidence, which is illegal and probably unconstitutional to boot.

    I’m at a loss to figure out what could possibly have been going through Schlafly’s mind to connect the dots between “the trial was procedurally unfair” and “the crime that was alleged is punished too harshly.”

  32. 32
    Kevin Hayden says:

    Phyllis Schafley’s 15 minutes of fame were used up in the 1970′s as she successfully fought a constitutional amendment guaranteeing women equal rights.

    Bowing to her wishes in respect to her alone, I figured I’d never have to listen to that poor parcel of swampland in the human portfolio, again.

    Is there anyone outside of her old choir that even listens to her sermons anymore? She now has the persuasive power of swampgas to any sentient being whose mind was open after 1980.

    And with her latest, I wince in behalf of poor Mr. Schafley, whose badly chafed wrists struggle for freedom from her cuffs, while he pleads to the Goddesses that death will come swifter than she does.

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  34. 33
    evil_fizz says:

    Empiricist: I have to wonder if Shlafly’s accurately characterizing the situation. *If* what she says is true (a huge if), she has a point. I just don’t know how she gets from injustice in a particular case to “those evil feminists and saying that marital rape is bad!” However, there are a number of red flags that go up for me.

    First, she says that the defense was prevented from cross-examining the wife. Cross-examination in rape cases is limited by rape shield laws. I would be willing to bet good money that the defense wanted to ask improper questions (such as whether she was pregnant at the time by another man) and similar. (Also, if he doesn’t have a lawyer, does that mean that the accused rapist would have been appearing pro se? Something’s really not clicking here.) Second, there are some big gaps here procedurally and she conflates the divorce proceedings with the criminal trial. Third, the quotes from the psychiatrist are a little peculiar. His histronic personality?

    I dunno. I am trying to infer factual accuracy from a woman who insisted that the sum total of the ERA would be unisex bathrooms.

  35. 34
    mythago says:

    Also, if he doesn’t have a lawyer, does that mean that the accused rapist would have been appearing pro se?

    There’s no way someone accused of a felony appears ‘pro se’ unless he insists on doing so–he is entitled to a public defender. Rape-shield laws do not “prevent cross-examination”; they limit irrelevant evidence about the accuser’s sexual conduct. Also, the idea that one would need to grandstand for feminist votes in Gennessee County is, let’s be polite here, delusional.

    If the guy is innocent, why is Schafly spending so much effort lying about his case?

  36. 35
    evil_fizz says:

    That was my question, mythago. I’d never heard of a criminal defendant appearing pro se and so I was really confused as to how he had no lawyer, couldn’t afford one, and couldn’t get a court appointed one (which seemed to be the gist of Schlafly’s commentary.)

  37. 36
    Empiricist says:

    evil_fizz: I agree that Schlafly’s version of the facts sounds suspicious, and I wonder if she’s characterizing them accurately. My point is that even if we’re as charitable as possible, then her conclusion (marital rape should be punished less harshly than stranger rape) still doesn’t follow at all. I’m baffled as to why she or anyone else could think the bulk of the article and the conclusion are related in any way. Asshole.

  38. 37
    evil_fizz says:

    Agreed. I guess the other thing I don’t understand is: why? If you’re going to make the argument that marital rape is not as bad as stranger rape, why make it a throwaway paragraph in which you demonize feminists? I have no idea what the argument “in favor of” marital rape would be, but then Schlafly doesn’t make one either. Is it because women can use it as leverage in divorce proceedings? Because you can’t rape someone whose body is yours by right? What?

    I guess we can add bad writer to the list of reasons to hate Schlafly, although that’s not a very satistfying insult.

  39. 38
    soopermouse says:

    ok, I am by nature mean, so I have one question.
    Why does it seem that there is a lot of envy behind this PS person’s discours?

    As in
    “These bitches are having sex! I don’t! And instead of being grateful, they call it rape!!”

    Back to serious issues…why do I feel like I am dirty just because of reading that?
    Then again, look on the bright side: Not so far away, there used to be a lw where I am from that would force the rapist to marry his victim had she been a virgin at the time of the rape. That,or go to jail.

  40. 39
    wookie says:

    Trying to look at the topic objectively, let’s try this set of over-generalizations and comparisons. Bear with me, I’m deliberately setting up a lot of generalized definitions for the purpose of thinking this through.

    Stranger rape, almost by definition, involves physical violence.
    Date/aquaintence rape often does not involve physical violence or at least not to the same magnitude as stranger rape… after all, if the woman is already in her apartment, you don’t need to force her into the bushes at knife or gunpoint.
    Intimate partner rape may or may not involve physical violence… if it’s taking place within the context of an already physically abusive relationship than it’s likely to be quite violent, but not all abusive relationships are physically abusive… many are more mental.

    Now compare to assault, battery and personal theft:

    If a person is mugged, but the mugger doesn’t physically harm the victim, they will likely not be charged with assault. If the mugger does physically harm the victim, it’s likely they will be charged with assault/battery.

    So, if a rape takes place with little to no physical violence (burning, bruising, battery), should it be charged “less” than one that does have those components? Should rape and battery be charged seperately (and obviously in combination) when both crimes have been committed?

  41. 40
    Q Grrl says:

    I really like the idea of women defining for themselves what constitutes physical violence. I really do.

    Wookie, you remind me that I’m wholly in support of castration. Speaking of which… do you think it’s a worse castration if we use a rusty knife, a clean knife with anesthesia, or chemical castration? Or are those really irrelevant to the loss of one’s nut sack? Maybe just a good hard kick — hard enough to send them northwards.

    [in case you don't get the more subtle features of my post: I don't understand the fucking point of men parsing out the fine hairs of detail regarding rape. Oh. Wait. I do. Ya'll just don't want to face your complicity]

  42. 41
    Q Grrl says:

    … furthermore, why in the hell does discussion of rape have to be “objective”? It’s not like rapists or the act of rape are objective. Why the double standard Wookie?

  43. 42
    nerdchik says:

    if a rape takes place with little to no physical violence

    Uhm, wookie, rape *is* physical violence.

  44. 43
    Ampersand says:

    Wookie, you seem to have missed this in the original post:

    NOTE: This comments thread is reserved for feminist, pro-feminist, and feminist-friendly posters only. If you suspect you wouldn’t fit into Amp’s conception of “feminist, pro-feminist, or feminist-friendly,” then please don’t contribute to the comments following this post.

    Please respect the rules. Thanks.

  45. 44
    Sheelzebub says:

    You know, the more drek I read like Schafly’s, the happier I am that I’m single. Yeesh.

    And Bean, I had no idea that it was only in a handful of states that marital rape was not differentiated from rape in general (thankfully, I live in one of those states). Not exactly jonesing to get on the bridal bandwagon if lawmakers think it’s A-OK to treat me like property.

    Which leads me to ask–are the cultural conservatives, these anti-feminist traditionalists, actually working to destroy marriage? ‘Cause seriously, who’d want to get married in their ideal world? They’re not making it very appealing for me. Between Alito (you have to tell your husband about your abortion) and this drek, I’ll just stay slutty, thanks.

  46. 45
    Spicy says:

    Stranger rape, almost by definition, involves physical violence. Date/aquaintence rape often does not involve physical violence or at least not to the same magnitude as stranger rape…

    A common misconception but not in fact true.

    Partner rape is more likely to involve a weapon and more likely to result in physical injury additional to the rape.

    Data from the British Crime Survey indicates that sexual attacks by partners and ex-partners are by far the most likely to result in some injury to the victim. Attacks by partners are more than twice as likely to result in a physical injury (39%) as attacks by strangers (19%).

    Additionally, rapes by partners are more likely to be repeated.

  47. 46
    Wookie says:

    Just a quick word, Amp.

    I think (I know) that it is a different Wookie to me, I would not post in this thread for the reasons you state.

    This other wookie may be a feminist, and I would hate to see them kept out of the conversation, because of me using the same name!

  48. 47
    Ampersand says:

    Whoops! Good point. Sorry, Wookie #1, if I’ve mischaracterized you. I hadn’t realize that “wookie” was such a common name.

  49. 48
    wookie says:

    Yeah, I didn’t either.

    Spicy: I’m not saying that it is not common or that it never happens, I’m saying that (as a victim of it myself, repeatedly, for years), that intimate partner rape does not nessicarily include a component of *physical* violence.

    nerdchik: I can see your point, but this is the distinction I’m trying to make. It is a physical violation, and it is certainly mentally and emotionally violent, but that’s somewhat different than overt physical battery. Unfortunately, coerceion, threats, other pressure, drugs, alcohol, mindgames of many sorts can all be used to rape someone.

    I think the gist of what I’m trying to say is this:
    While some rapes can be physically violent, and all rapes are mentally
    traumatizing/violent, not all rape is physically violent. Which is,
    of course, what makes rape so difficult to prosecute, believe and
    accept as wrong, culturally.

    I understand that the original suggestion coming from PS is easy to revile, but I would like to open up the comments to discuss wether or not there is anything of value in the idea of prosecuting rape and battery as seperate charges, applying both or one as the situation merits. I am also in favour of a legal charge for mental torture and degradation (as is common in intimate partner abuse) but understand that it would be nearly impossible to implement.

    It’s okay to say “I really don’t think there’s anything of value in that idea, I think to seperate the two charges would devalue what little weight rape holds in the court system”. I don’t mind that people disagree. I just want to discuss.

    I don’t feel it’s okay to tell me you think I should be castrated. I am trying to contribute positively here and don’t feel that was an appropriate response.

  50. 49
    Sheelzebub says:

    I don’t feel it’s okay to tell me you think I should be castrated. I am trying to contribute positively here and don’t feel that was an appropriate response.

    She didn’t say you should be castrated. This is what she said:

    Wookie, you remind me that I’m wholly in support of castration. Speaking of which… do you think it’s a worse castration if we use a rusty knife, a clean knife with anesthesia, or chemical castration? Or are those really irrelevant to the loss of one’s nut sack? Maybe just a good hard kick … hard enough to send them northwards.

    She took the logic of the rape argument (“violent” vs. “non-violent” rape) and applied it to castration (“violent” vs. “non-violent” castration). You didn’t like the implication of the violent vs. non-violent castration, and took it personally. Please understand that this is *exactly* what happens when we hear the same logic used when it comes to rape. (And yes, I realize that you’ve been raped, but so have a lot of women here, and they’ve heard this “distinction” repeatedly, and that it comes off as minimizing. And that is NOT okay.)

    I believe that legally, any unwanted touch is considered battery. Considering the magnitude of the crime of rape, the danger it exposes the survivors to (STDs, etc.) and the amount of unwanted contact, a battery charge is perfectly relevant. Thing is, this goes on a case-by-case basis. It depends on the actual case in question.

    As for rape not being physically violent, I disagree. It is such an intimate violation that it can’t be anything but violent. Even if the rapist doesn’t hit you–if you are forced to have sex, it is rape, and it is an act of violence. Just as someone brandishing a gun at you is committing an act of violence–even if they never pistol-whip you or shoot you, it’s a violent act. Full stop.

    Consider the Haidl case–a teenage girl was drugged and gang-raped (and the rapists used a lit cigarette, a pool cue, a soda can, and a Snapple bottle). It was taped. She was not “hurt” in that she wasn’t beaten or threatened with a weapon. But I’d still assert that what those worthless pigdogs did was battery. At best.

  51. 50
    Sheelzebub says:

    Also, I’m curious–how is making threats *not* violent?

  52. 51
    Spicy says:

    Spicy: I’m not saying that it is not common or that it never happens, I’m saying that (as a victim of it myself, repeatedly, for years), that intimate partner rape does not nessicarily include a component of *physical* violence.

    I’m sorry you experienced this.

    You misunderstood my point which is that intimate partner rape is twice as likely to involve physical injury as stranger rape.

    This does not mean *all* rapes of either type but to characterize stranger rape as more likely to result in injury as you did in post 38 is inaccurate.

  53. 52
    Richard says:

    An analogy: Military occupation is, by definition, not simply an act of, but an ongoing condition/state of violence, even if no specifically, overtly physically violent incident occurs. People who willingly subect themselves to random searches when they have to cross check points, for example, are being violated even if the kind of force we would normally associate with violence is entirely absent from the situation.

    Similarly, if wanted to imagine a rape in which nothing that we might normally recognize as violence occurs…the woman is not beaten or in any other way overtly coerced…if the context in which she lives means that she feels she has no choice but to agree to have sex whether she wants to or not (and she may even feel she has no choice but to behave as if she wants and enjoys it), then that woman has been subjected to violence. It is simply that the violence has been so normalized that it is no longer so obviously visible.

    Part of the reason I propose this analogy is that, while I understand wookie’s impulse–if I understand the comment correctly–to try to separate the crime of rape from the crime of overt violence (which is a reductive way of summarizing the post, but I think it captures the main point) so that rape can be prosecuted on its own, for what it is, I think the analogy to crimes like mugging is, simply, mistaken, because while mugging and other forms of assault and battery are horrible, they do not constitute the physical occupation of the victim in the way that rape does.

    Now, please, I am not discounting the emotional and psychological “occupation” that often takes place as a result of, say, mugging; nor am I denying that emotional and psychological abuse are also forms of occupying their victims; I simply want to point out that if we want to find analogies for rape as a way of thinking about how to approach it legally or whatever, then we need to look for analogies that explicitly foreground the fact that rape is the forced physical occupation of one person’s body by another. To do otherwise is implicitly (and, in the case of this discussion, unwittingly) to make the rape itself vanish.

  54. 53
    reverend quitter says:

    don’t you know that the feminists are spawns of satan? check this story about mrs. shlafly..

    http://thedefeatists.typepad.com/apoplectic/2005/11/why_isnt_phylli.html

  55. 54
    reverend quitter says:

    but seriously though.. i did not read all of the comments in the thread, but i did read this one -

    # Q Grrl Writes:
    February 13th, 2006 at 2:35 pm

    … furthermore, why in the hell does discussion of rape have to be “objective”? It’s not like rapists or the act of rape are objective. Why the double standard Wookie? -

    While i find phyllis’s ideals to be wholly offensive, i’m taken aback but the idea that we shoud respond in kind to criminals. objectivity must be held in response to any crime. this is what makes it a “system” and not just a reaction. it sounds like the same aruement that people make for capital punishment.

  56. 55
    maribelle says:

    wookie #1–I am very sorry to hear you have been the victim of rape.

    >Stranger rape, almost by definition, involves physical violence.

    Rape, by definition, involves physical violence. Full stop. Coming from a partner (as it most often is statistically) makes the violence that much more lasting, damaging and difficult to get over.

    Rape is the most intimate of crimes, and a rape has occured when one’s body has been entered without one’s consent. That’s where the line is. Other mitigating circumstances (such as beating, robbery, etc.) should only add to the list of charges.

    While I sense an attempt by your part to be “fair” by parsing out these differences, I think you do a grave disservice to women and girls when you suggest a lesser degree of punishment for rapes where one isn’t beaten.

    Reverend — Frankly, the link you posted turned my stomache. Please tell me now blasting someone who politically disagrees with you as old, dried-up and making repeated reference to her being anally abused furthers a discussion or the cause of feminism.

    Irony=dissing someone’s dismissal of rape by suggesting they are old, ugly and enjoy anal sex.

  57. 56
    Q Grrl says:

    this is what makes it a “system” and not just a reaction.

    Wrong. This is what makes a rape culture. Objectivity only serves male interests when it is brought to the table (in rape discussions). Men want to sidestep their cultural responsibility vis-a-vis rape and talk about rape as if it were a form of mugging, or a form of sex, or a rare occurance that happens to women who happen to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time, in the wrong clothes. They want to parse out the degrees of violence that women experience as if this will… I don’t know, inform them somehow about the evils of rape? Make them feel better about that time they fucked up and the grey area of rape became all to real for them? I don’t know. What I do know is that this type of parsing does *not* help women. I helps our cultural male psyche and placates men who *know* they are complicit in the cultural practices and norms that condone rape. It makes it possible for men to talk about the violence embedded in rape as if the violence and the rape were two entities, separated only by qualitative degrees. It makes it possible for men to *ignore* what women are saying about rape, and then whine when a woman brings up castration. [And for the record, my above reference to castration was not at all meant as retaliation. I am fully in support of preventative castration. If it's good for our cats, dogs, and cows, I don't see why we can't cut the damn nuts off of adolescent males in order to prevent their apparent inability to stop raping females. And until men stop each other from raping, I will keep bringing up castration as a viable option].

  58. 57
    Q Grrl says:

    While I sense an attempt by your part to be “fair” by parsing out these differences, I think you do a grave disservice to women and girls when you suggest a lesser degree of punishment for rapes where one isn’t beaten.

    The suggestion also implies that it is the “violence” that is abnormal, not the rape. To be able to split hairs over degrees of “violence” is to view rape as a normative experience for women and thus merely a part of the continuum of female experience. Which it is — but not in the way that men want it to be (i.e, neat, tidy, parseable, foreign)

  59. 58
    Richard says:

    Q Grrl wrote:

    [And for the record, my above reference to castration was not at all meant as retaliation. I am fully in support of preventative castration. If it's good for our cats, dogs, and cows, I don't see why we can't cut the damn nuts off of adolescent males in order to prevent their apparent inability to stop raping females. And until men stop each other from raping, I will keep bringing up castration as a viable option].

    There is an awful lot here to unpack: the assumption that castration is okay as a preventive measure, which assumes it could be performed on a man who has not yet raped; the equation of men with animals; the assertion that castration is a reasonable response to men’s inability to stop each other from raping–and it’s important to unpack what Q Grrl says without denying or in any way invalidating the anger that gives rise to her position. Because the one thing that is inescapably true in what she says, and in the body of the post which preceded this parenthetical comment, is that, ultimately, it is men who need to work at stopping each other from raping; who, in order to accomplish this, need to recognize the ways in which we live in a rape culture and who need to choose to change that culture. Rape is a crime committed by men and to the degree that the crime is merely an expression of larger social values, the responsibility and accountability for that crime falls on all men.

    And because rape is a crime, the question arises of what a just response is to that crime, because from a social and cultural point of view, it is, or ought to be, justice that we want and not revenge and castration–and I am referring here not to preventive castration, but to the chemical castration of repeat offenders–when it is imposed by a judge, not voluntarily chosen by a man (and there have been cases where men have asked to be chemically castrated), does seem to me more about vengeance than justice. Structurally, it is not so different, it seems to me, from the cutting someone’s hand off because they have stolen something.

    Now, please, I am not suggesting the crime of theft and the crime of rape are comparable in their effect on the victims. Rather, I am pointing out a structural similarity in responses to those crimes, if we accept that castration is a viable response to rape; and if we agree that cutting someone’s hand off for stealing is about retribution and not justice, then it’s hard to see how we can say anything different about castrating a rapist.

    From Q Grrl’s tone, I would say she is pretty clearly more interested in retribution than in justice, and I don’t blame her. I have been sexually abused and I remember how enraged I was at the men who abused me and how badly I sometimes wanted to have them alone in a room, strapped down on something, and me with all the time in the world, but because I am a man now, I don’t have to walk in fear that there are predators living all around me. So I can only imagine what it must be like to be a woman, especially one who has been raped or sexually assualted, but I think this applies to any woman, and to have to go through life with a constant undercurrent of fear of rape running through me. How could any woman who took that fear really seriously not only on the personal level, but also as a socio-economic, cultural and political phenomenon not become enraged? Why would such a woman not entertain castration, preventive or otherwise, as a reasonable response to rape?

    That being said, the question remains of what a just response is to the individual man who rapes. How do we arrive at justice, not only for the woman who survives the rape–much less for the woman who does not–but also for him? Because to dehumanize him, to place him beyond justice, is in some sense to become like him. And that’s not something I think anybody wants.

  60. 59
    Richard says:

    I suppose I should have been clearer in my previous post that I was sexually abused when I was a kid and so now that I am an adult male I don’t have to worry, by definition, about sexual predators in the way that women and children do.

  61. 60
    Q Grrl says:

    Hmm. I still think you are defining justice based on the bodily experiences and expectations of men. You start with the male-bodied as the status quo and build your justice upon this. You want justice for the individual crimes committed — but what about the social mores and norms that create a rape culture? How do you approach justice then?

    And why assume that I am angry just because I am talking about castration? Or that retribution is even on my mind. I rather think that it is a simple and practical option. Surely if we can objectify women’s bodies, deny them autonomy over their own bodies, we can do the same to men, no? Is the male body that more sacred than the female? Men do not need their testicles — in fact, from what most men argue, testicles and their subsequent aid in the release of testosterone leads to increased anger, violence, and rape. One would think then that testicles are in fact a *huge* liability. And many men claim they can’t control themselves around women, either sexually or violently. It seems then that justice would nod towards proactive choices on the part of women to ensure that men aren’t physcially and essentially goaded into criminal behavior.

    Oh. Wait. Are you one of those men that says men *can* control themselves and that some just *choose* to violate women? Ah. And you claim that I speak of retribution. Hah. Pray tell, what motivates men to violate women? And where is the justice, packed or otherwise unpacked, in that?

  62. 61
    natural says:

    Q Grrl,

    You need to realize that rape is a mental crime as well as a physical crime for the abuser as well as the victim. A rapist who cannot penetrate due to the absence of an erection can still penetrate with fingers or other objects. Saying this, I believe that castrating males before they commit any crimes will make them angry. And anger can be one of the catalysts for rape. I agree that I would want to castrate all males due to my anger, but I don’t think that would keep many from raping. There needs to be other solutions. Richard has a point – men need to keep other men from raping. But women can help by raising their sons not to rape. Other things need to be done, but we need to start somewhere.

  63. 62
    Q Grrl says:

    I would counter that men are already angry. The proof is in the pudding: rape.

    And thanks for clarifing for me what I didn’t know about rape. And Richard’s point is actually my point, or hadn’t you been reading? Geez.

  64. 63
    Sheelzebub says:

    But women can help by raising their sons not to rape.

    I just want to point out that even with a very progressive, feminist mother, a boy is still surrounded by a very misogynistic culture that confers status and entitlement upon him simply because he is male. There are also other factors–his father may not think misogyny is a big deal, or diminishes/denies women’s experiences, or his teachers, friends, friends’ parents, marketers, TV show producers, film producers, and basically everyone else buys into the rape myths, for example. No, it doesn’t mean he will grow up to rape, but he will internalize all of this and accept it to some extent. So he may think on some level that he’s entitled to take what he wants, and that it’s no big deal because it wasn’t violent. Or that he wasn’t shutting down and dismissing a raped friend by telling her that at least she wasn’t beaten, or reminding her of false rape reports, or cross-examining her before deciding to believe her, because he’s a good liberal guy and wasn’t raised that way.

    I point this out because I know plenty of men–and had some nasty experiences with one or two–who said their mothers were feminist so of course they respected women. Oh, they’d speak out against rape, but in private, it was a different story. That’s not to say that men who speak out against rape are like this, but putting it all on the mothers is misleading and can provide false comfort. “He isn’t sexist/would never rape/harrass anyone because his mother didn’t raise him that way,” is something I heard a lot. Unfortunately, it wasn’t true. Perhaps their mothers did raise them better, but when no one else was looking, they certainly didn’t act as if that were the case.

  65. 64
    Q Grrl says:

    Saying that mother’s could raise their sons differenlty is like saying that the Catholic Church could cure pedophiles.

  66. 65
    LF says:

    Remember when we used to talk about actually radically transforming society, even through (gasp) revolution, so that the conditions that give rise to behavior like rape, and the outlook that supports it, would be eradicated?

    Now we accept it as inevitable and seriously entertain the notion that only through the preventative mutilation of half the population’s bodies could we prevent the mutiliation of the souls and spirits of the other half.

  67. 66
    Richard says:

    Q Grrl, you wrote:

    Hmm. I still think you are defining justice based on the bodily experiences and expectations of men. You start with the male-bodied as the status quo and build your justice upon this. You want justice for the individual crimes committed … but what about the social mores and norms that create a rape culture? How do you approach justice then?

    I don’t think I started with the male-bodied as the status quo; I started with bodily integrity as the status quo, hence my reference to the practice of chopping off someone’s hand for the crime of theft. As far as I know–and if I am wrong, then I will have to rethink my analogy–this punishment is applicable in Islam to female thieves as well as male. And you are, of course correct, that asking about justice in terms of the individual crimes committed leaves the larger social, cultural and political questions unaddressed. The fact is, though, that addressing the larger social, cultural and political questions is a long term proposition and addressing those will inevitably tend to minimize the practical question of how to deal with individual rapists and their victims–and I want to emphasize that I am talking about the practical question here because your assertion that castration is a reasonable response to rape is framed as a practical suggestion. If you want to have a discussion about rape culture, we can have that discussion as well, but it will be, of necessity, a very different kind of discussion.

    And why assume that I am angry just because I am talking about castration? Or that retribution is even on my mind. I rather think that it is a simple and practical option. Surely if we can objectify women’s bodies, deny them autonomy over their own bodies, we can do the same to men, no? Is the male body that more sacred than the female?

    Your last sentence here is very precisely a call for retribution, for visiting on the perpetrator the crime of which he is guilty. Objectifying men’s bodies in the way that men have objectified women’s bodies simply perpetuates a patriarchal approach to the body; it perpetuates one of the underlying ideologies of the rape culture you are so passionate about ending. And I assume that you are angry not just because you speak about castration but because of the way in which you speak about it. To wit:

    From comment #39:

    Or are [the differences between the various kinds of castration that are possible] really irrelevant to the loss of one’s nut sack? Maybe just a good hard kick … hard enough to send them northwards.

    And from comment #56:

    I don’t see why we can’t cut the damn nuts off of adolescent males in order to prevent their apparent inability to stop raping females.

    In continuing to reply to me, you then go on to say:

    Men do not need their testicles … in fact, from what most men argue, testicles and their subsequent aid in the release of testosterone leads to increased anger, violence, and rape. One would think then that testicles are in fact a *huge* liability. And many men claim they can’t control themselves around women, either sexually or violently. It seems then that justice would nod towards proactive choices on the part of women to ensure that men aren’t physcially and essentially goaded into criminal behavior.

    Q Grrl, this passage essentializes male biology in a way that you would never accept were it applied to women. Again, it seems to me that you are responding to rape and rape culture “in kind,” by applying the the logic of rape culture retributively. Essentially what you are suggesting here is that to be born with testicles is to be born with a birth defect that needs to be removed. If you seriously believe that, then there is no point in continuing this conversation.

    Finally, you say:

    Oh. Wait. Are you one of those men that says men *can* control themselves and that some just *choose* to violate women? Ah. And you claim that I speak of retribution. Hah. Pray tell, what motivates men to violate women? And where is the justice, packed or otherwise unpacked, in that?

    Of course men choose to rape. That fact does not deny the reality of patriarchy or rape culture or any of forces mobilized by that culture to inculcate in men a way of seeing the world that normalizes rape and makes rape into something they might do. Witness the studies in which college-aged men said that if they knew they could rape a woman with impunity, they would. Still, most men do not commit rape–stranger, acquaintance, marital, incestuous or otherwise (and I would remind you that we have been talking in this thread about criminally actionable rape, not the kind of rape Catharine MacKinnon or Andrea Dworkin meant when they talked about “normal” sexual intercourse being a kind of rape–then it means it is possible for men to choose not to rape. Because you can be sure that at least some of those men who haven’t raped, if only because they were raised in a male dominant culture with a male dominant heterosexuality, have at times felt the desire to rape.

    As well: to suggest that rape is not a choice is not only to dehumanize men in a way that makes continuing this discussion pointless.

    I have written a lot already, perhaps too much, but I want to end by agreeing with you that there is no justice in men’s sexual violation of women, and to agree with you again that it is ultimately men’s responsibility to stop other men from raping. The fact that we agree on those issues, however, does not invalidate my original question, which is What constitutes justice when it comes to our social and cultural to an individual rapist who has been tried and convicted? I stand by my original assertion that castrating him, unless he asks for it of his own volition, is more about revenge than it is about justice, and revenge merely perpetuates the cycle of violence to which it is a response.

  68. 67
    naturnal says:

    Q grrl -

    Thanks for the patronization. I was trying to be nice and point out that the idea of castrating males can likely increase the rates of sexual victimization in our society. In your quest for vengeance, you want to punish all males for simply having y chromosomes. This is sort of like the rape culture – punishing women for having xx chromosomes. Neither seems right to me.

    As for everyone who seems to think I put the onus on women to stop rape, you are mistaken. I look it as a societal problem that needs attacking from all sides, all angles. Men can be great warriors in this quest. It is ultimately their reponsibility to not rape. However, women have an opportunity to do all they can as well. How can the society at large change if everyone doesn’t do one’s part?

    If no one noticed, P. S. is a woman. She has taught these outlandish views on rape to her children. Her views influence those people around her. This is what we need to combat, because it keeps those ideas alive. Women can have distorted views on rape just as men can. Women can defend and exalt the patriarchy. P. S. is just one example.

    Collectively, the culture can change, even if it is one generation at a time. Women and men need to work together to stop the tragedy of rape in this society. It can’t change if only half of the population is expected to do anything about it.

  69. 68
    Kim (basement variety!) says:

    I think the ‘women need to teach sons not to rape’ needs to be changed to parents need to teach sons not to rape.

    And to be fair, Q, I tend to be extremely impressed and ‘amen’-ish to your posts, however, the castration calls are a bit squiggy. I think the majority of us here agree that rape is an act of violence, regardless of sustained physical injury. I’m unsure if you are using this rather graphic example as a means to push the graphic horror and unfairness of rape into the minds of the other participants of the conversation or not, but the whole line of discussion/thought is really can’t and shouldn’t be supported by anyone that supports bodily autonomy and personhood in general.

  70. 69
    Crys T says:

    You know, the “rational” part of me wants to see Q’s suggestion of castration as a device to get people to think about the issue. However, after reading yet another series of messages written by pompous, arrogant men who assume that it’s up them to define and explain what rape is or isn’t, the rest of me is becoming so hopeless and frustrated that I’m beginning to see castration as a reasonable response, too.

    These men do. not. get. it. And what’s more, they don’t WANT to get it. They come here, lecture us, then put their hands over their ears and chant, “La, la–I can’t heeeeaaaarrrr you” and ignore whatever we have to say, whatever our experiences are. Explain to me why we women are always the ones who have to lump it and stay on the moral high ground. We’re constantly being dehumanised by these men, but if we EVER reply in kind, even if it’s only verbally, mother of god, look at the shit that rains down on our heads.

    We’re being put in the position where we are literally being maimed and killed, and there’s no sign that these men are willing to take that on board, let alone do anything useful to counteract it. Why should we sit around hoping that violence won’t come our way? It seems suicidal to me.

    It really does never cease to amaze me that even on a feminist forum, the male body is still held as absolutely sacrosanct. You can’t joke about it, you sure as hell can’t make a crack (in a black way *or* lightheartedly) about meting out punishment to it, you can’t even make such suggestions as a rhetorical device without being declared officially A Bad Person, even though there are rape apologists/minimisers here who are provoking the response.

  71. 70
    Richard says:

    Crys T, you wrote:

    It really does never cease to amaze me that even on a feminist forum, the male body is still held as absolutely sacrosanct. You can’t joke about it, you sure as hell can’t make a crack (in a black way *or* lightheartedly) about meting out punishment to it, you can’t even make such suggestions as a rhetorical device without being declared officially A Bad Person, even though there are rape apologists/minimisers here who are provoking the response.

    For the record: I did not comment on Q Grrl’s first reference to castration because it seemed to me that she was making rhetorical use of castration in exactly the way you are talking about, and I think she made a principled point very effectively. I responded to her second mention of castration, in which she said

    And for the record, my above reference to castration was not at all meant as retaliation. I am fully in support of preventative castration. If it’s good for our cats, dogs, and cows, I don’t see why we can’t cut the damn nuts off of adolescent males in order to prevent their apparent inability to stop raping females. And until men stop each other from raping, I will keep bringing up castration as a viable option.

    Now, I don’t know Q Grrl. All I have to go by are the words she posts here. You might want to argue that this, too, was “merely” rhetorical, but there is nothing in this second post to mark it as such. More to the point, her response to me in comment #60 is an attempt to defend her position. It is not a new position and, as I said, from an emotional point of view, I think it is an entirely reasonable position. (And please re-read what I wrote in comment #58 before anyone accuses me of suggesting that women are merely emotional, hysterical creatures.) And precisely because it is an emotionally reasonable position, especially when it is presented as Q Grrl does here, as a viable option, I think it needs to be taken seriously and talked through. To do so is not to call her a “Bad Person,” as you put it, nor is it to deny that her initial use of castration was a response to what she understood to be someone’s apologizing for/minimizing rape, nor is it to suggest that people who do apologize for/minimize rape should be cut any slack at all.

    Finally, I have to say this: If Q Grrl’s second raising of the castration point was also supposed to be a very pointed bit of tongue-in-cheek rhetoric, then she deserved to be called on it because to continue to try to make her point in that way, after she had made it so effectively the first time, would be, ultimately, to shut down all meaningful discussion.

  72. 71
    Q Grrl says:

    It is rhetorical — there are nuances to how rape is perpetrated on women, both those raped and those socialized to fear rape, that cannot be conveyed through direct discourse.

    Part of what I expect to happen when I talk about rape as a preventative social action is the responses that I get here:

    – men will get angry which = more rape
    – castration is retributive
    – how can you call for castrating all men; all men are not rapists
    – men have a right to bodily autonomy
    – if Q is talking about castration, she must mean *my* nuts

    Richard: I do still believe you are framing your notion of justice based on the male body status quo. You say that my last sentence ["Is the male body that more sacred than the female? "] is a call for retribution — but how so? This attitude is how *men* present themselves. This is how *men* view the world and their place in it. We have 2000+ years of scripture, across three major religions, to support this. This.is.not.new. In fact, Christianity is fully formed on the rape of a woman (Mary) and the utility of women’s bodies for men’s (and Gods) ends.

    You say that I am essentializing male biology. Again I say: I am mirroring back what men have to say about their own biology vis-a-vis rape and the sexual utility of women. This following quote is nabbed from Kaka Mak’s blog (http://kakamak.blogspot.com) by a man called Charlie:

    You see, I’m not sure that the majority of women quite understand that men are cursed. They are cursed by their own ‘maleness’ (not their masculinity or otherwise, which is something different entirely). We are cursed by the bilogical imperatives associated with maleness, one in particular being that we are programmed to think about sex every 2.5 micro-seconds. Frankly, by the age of 17, it has gotten wearing and some of us have learned how to override this programme by using thought processes and exercising a degree of self-control that serves to limit the expression of the sex drive to appropriate moments. But the programming doesn’t go away, at least not until age dilutes the amount of testosterone available. If I could describe it to you analogously, it’s like men’s brains are computers where the screen-saver, which is activated after one micro-second of inactivity, is sex. We’re ok if our minds are on, say football, or fishing, or cars, but the moment we aren’t fully enagaged… zzzzzzzzzzip, there it is again.

    So I’m getting mixed messages, frankly. This man suggests that the dilution of testosterone is a *good* thing. He also suggests that all men cannot help themselves. They are slaves to testosterone, women’s bodily/mental/spiritual autonomy be damned.

    I ask you this Richard: why is talking about castration so bad? Wookie above wanted to talk about the nuances of rape violence. Suddenly when I talk about castration, all castration becomes violent to male autonomy. Strange, that.

    Also, if to treat men in the manner that women are currently being treated is to think of them as “animals” or to “essentialize” their biology, what in the hell does that say about how men treat women? Men actively act as if they are animals. Men actively essentialize their own biology to justify their violence against women’s bodies and minds. If I put a name to that, it is your own navel you must gaze into — which I think you know.

    As to this:

    Still, most men do not commit rape

    Really? Then how is it that a rough 25% of all women report that they have been raped? And how does it make me feel better if the number of men raping these women is 30% of all men or an exact matchign at 25%… or even if just 10% of all men rape. Tell me how I’m going to know which men? If one out of every four men I meet is a rapist, doesn’t it behoove me to expect that *most* men are rapists? I mean, I really am more concerned about MAINTAINING my bodily autonomy than I am in hurting men’s feelings. And this is where I say that you are resting on the male body as the foundation of your notions of justice. You are still underscoring the inherent unfairness that happens to men when 1) women are raped and 2) women talk about rape. Dude, your playing field is most unlevel.

  73. 72
    Richard says:

    Q Grrl:

    If you’re use of castration is merely rhetorical, then I don’t think there is really any fundamental disagreement between us. In fact, as I have said, repeatedly, I agree overwhelmingly with your analysis. However, there are a couple of points you raise that I want to address. You write:

    Richard: I do still believe you are framing your notion of justice based on the male body status quo. You say that my last sentence ["Is the male body that more sacred than the female? "] is a call for retribution … but how so? This attitude is how *men* present themselves.

    Fair enough. I was imprecise. The sentence that I meant to characterize as retributive was this: “Surely if we can objectify women’s bodies, deny them autonomy over their own bodies, we can do the same to men, no?” Of you can, and of course it is men who define the male body as more sacred than the female, that does not mean that applying the logic of patriarchy–obectifying the male body in the way that women’s bodies have been objectified, even if only as rhetoric–is not retribution. However you cut it you are still visiting upon the perpetrator the crime of which he is guilty; you are exacting vengeance in an “an-eye-for-an-eye” manner. I am not arguing with you about the rhetorical value of doing that, if it then serves to move the discussion forward. I am simply insisting that we name it for what it is…revenge, vengeance, retribution, whatever…and then recognize that, ultimately, revenge is not really a viable solution.

    Then you write:

    I ask you this Richard: why is talking about castration so bad? Wookie above wanted to talk about the nuances of rape violence. Suddenly when I talk about castration, all castration becomes violent to male autonomy. Strange, that.

    First of all, preventive castration, which is what you were talking about, is, by definition, violent to male autonomy, but I didn’t say talking about it was bad. And, in fact, I said that I thought you made a very good point, very effectively with your first mention of it. I do, however, think that your use of the quote by Charlie to bolster your (rhetorical) call for preventive castration, who, while he may be representative of a certain kind of man, does not strike me as an authority on male biology, is specious.

    Also, if to treat men in the manner that women are currently being treated is to think of them as “animals” or to “essentialize” their biology, what in the hell does that say about how men treat women? Men actively act as if they are animals. Men actively essentialize their own biology to justify their violence against women’s bodies and minds. If I put a name to that, it is your own navel you must gaze into … which I think you know.

    Of course this is true, but you did not merely put a name to it; you called (rhetorically), for an action in response to it, and then you used this reversal of the objectifying gaze/logic–which I will say again is not a way out of a patriarchal view of the body–to justify that call.

    ? I mean, I really am more concerned about MAINTAINING my bodily autonomy than I am in hurting men’s feelings. And this is where I say that you are resting on the male body as the foundation of your notions of justice. You are still underscoring the inherent unfairness that happens to men when 1) women are raped and 2) women talk about rape. Dude, your playing field is most unlevel.

    And of course you should be. Your comments about castration did not hurt my feelings, but they raised for me a serious question: How do we as a society achieve justice in response to men who are convicted of rape? Simply (and rhetorically) applying the logic of patriarchy to all men because of the men who do rape does not seem to me to be a solution, even if it is potentially a way of moving discussion forward. (And I would point out that it has not moved discussion forward on this thread. Rather than responding to my question, which was bout justice, you are defending the rhetorical position you took, as if you really did think it was a solution.) More to the point, I am not underscoring the unfairness of what happens to men at all, since the castration you talk about does not happen to men. Indeed, it is women, even those whose rapists are caught and convicted who almost always receive the unfair treatment. Asking the question that I did about justice is really a way of asking about their unfair treatment, because it is really justice for those women that matters, but in achieving such justice, it also matters very deeply how the men who raped them are treated.

    Really? Then how is it that a rough 25% of all women report that they have been raped? And how does it make me feel better if the number of men raping these women is 30% of all men or an exact matchign at 25%… or even if just 10% of all men rape. Tell me how I’m going to know which men? If one out of every four men I meet is a rapist, doesn’t it behoove me to expect that *most* men are rapists?

    Absolutely, you should proceed on the assumption that any man is a potential rapist. Nor should the fact that most men do not commit legally actionable rape make you feel better; if one man commits one rape, that is too many. When I said most men do not rape, I was not defending anything, or minimizing anything, I responding to your sarcastic questioning of me:

    Oh. Wait. Are you one of those men that says men *can* control themselves and that some just *choose* to violate women? Ah. And you claim that I speak of retribution. Hah. Pray tell, what motivates men to violate women? And where is the justice, packed or otherwise unpacked, in that?

    I would appreciate it if, next time, you would respond to my comments in the context in which I wrote them.

    Finally, Q Grrl: Am I personally invested in a discussion of preventive castration as a solution to rape, even a rhetorical one? Of course I am. You are talking about my body. In the same way, any woman is personally invested in any discussion, rhetorical or otherwise, that concerns her body and the policies or actions that might be applied to it. The fact that I choose to engage you in a discussion about what you have to say about castration, though, does not mean that I think you are talking specifically, personally, about “my nuts,” as you put it–it does not mean, in other words, that what I have to say comes out of my (rhetorical, since you were being rhetorical) fear of losing my testicles–but rather out of my own belief that rape is men’s problem and therefore the questions that arise in rape about men’s bodies are questions that need to be talked about as openly and honestly as possible. When you consistently refer to realities about rape that I do not dispute–and I think a reading of my comments reveals that I do not dispute them–or to anecdotal reportage of what men say, as ways of insisting that my critique of your (rhetorical) position about castration and my question about justice are really about reinscribing and perpetuating male privilege, which I do not deny that I have, you are, frankly, engaging in a rhetorical game of hide and seek that I am not interested in playing.

    Generally, your comments on this blog have earned you my respect–for what it’s worth to you, which I realize may not be much–for your passion, your intellect and your commitment. I thnk you should continue to use castration rhetorically as a way to drive home a point that men might not otherwise get. Whether you think it is the case or not, I get it, and I am interested in moving beyond it, because that is where I think the solution lies. You may not agree with me, and that’s fine. But I think it will be better, in that case, if we simply agree to disagree.

  74. 73
    reverend quitter says:

    phyllis schlafly, i’d like you to meet your alter-ego…Qgrrl.

    Qgrrrrl would like to perform surgical rape on young males to prevent them from,possibly.. maybe.. someday.. raping young females.

    i recognize my complicity in this male dominated culture. i recognize the objectification of women that see every single fucking day of my life. billboards, magazines, catalogs, tv, ..everywhere. i further recognize my complicity in a culture that continues to oppress poor and black people.

    do you recognize that the nonsense you spew simply makes you the flip side to the same hateful coin that phyllis schlafly lives on?

    introspection. try it some time… i will if you will.

  75. 74
    Richard says:

    reverend quitter, you wrote:

    i recognize my complicity in this male dominated culture. i recognize the objectification of women that see every single fucking day of my life. billboards, magazines, catalogs, tv, ..everywhere. i further recognize my complicity in a culture that continues to oppress poor and black people.

    The complete indifference this shows to the substance and nuances of the discussion that followed Q Grrl’s introduction of preventive castration into conversation suggests that while you may recognize your “complicity in this male dominated culture” you are unwilling to take responsibility for it.

  76. 75
    sophonisba says:

    Men can be great warriors in this quest.

    Oh sweet Jesus. No, if they need to conceptualize themselves as “warriors” and frame social activism as a “quest”, they really can’t.

    Is it me, or has the point of the castration proposal been completely missed? I thought the point was, if you think it’s grotesque and unthinkable, you are deciding that it is better for women to suffer rape and all the attendant loss of freedom that accompanies the constant threat of rape than for men to suffer castration. Why is it better for women to be the victim class? Well, that’s the question, isn’t it?

    Rape is preemptive and conceptualized as retribution by many of its practioners, so that can’t be the distinction.

    (Obviously universal castration would not stop all sexual violence perpetrated upon women by men. Supposing that castration would in fact stop rape is necessary to the thought experiment, though.)

  77. 76
    rev. quitter says:

    Richard,

    i’m sorry i left that impression. it was not my intention. granted, i’m unsure where to go from here, but i take my responsibility for our situation seriously.

    [Comment about another poster, with no relation to the topic at hand, snipped by Amp. Please discuss issues, not other posters. --Amp]

  78. 77
    Richard says:

    sophonisba:

    So, if I understand you, the thought experiment about castration as you frame it–which I think is a little differently focused from the way Q Grrl originally introduced it–is this:

    Assume that the universal castration of all men and boys would end rape. Would such a policy be justified?

    You then go on to say that:

    if you think [such a policy is] grotesque and unthinkable [in other words, if your answer is no, it would not be justified], you are deciding that it is better for women to suffer rape and all the attendant loss of freedom that accompanies the constant threat of rape than for men to suffer castration.

    1. My answer is no because I do not think it is right to “save” one class of victims by creating another class, i.e., those men and boys who have not raped and would not rape. There is a difference between a man who rapes as an act of vengeance and society exacting retribution justice from an entire class of people. In the first case, the individual man might believe his vengeance is justified, but he is committing a crime against an individual; in the second case, an entire class of people is being punished for the crimes committed, or potentially committed, by a subset of that class. Would it have been okay for Blacks to enslave white people as a way of ending slavery? Or would it have been okay for those people in the concentration camps in Nazi Germany to save themselves by herding all Germans into the camps and treating the Germans as they themselves had been treated?

    2. We are, in other words, not talking here about one of those questions that confront you with the choice of having to kill one innocent person in order to save ten or ten thousand or what-have-you others. Another way of framing the thought experiment would be: If we could identify without error those men/boys who will rape, would we be justified in castrating them pre-emptively? That is a question I would have to think very seriously about, though I don’t think it’s a particularly useful one since that kind of identification is impossible.

    3. There are some other differences between rape and pre-emptive castration that are worth considering: Women who have been raped can heal, physically, psychologically and emotionally. Men who have been pre-emptively castrated cannot, and so, again, the question of doing the permanent damage that castration would do to men who have not raped and who will not rape raises the issue of retributive justice. (And, yes, I know there are women who are permanently damaged, physically, emotionally and psychologically by rape; and I know there are women who do not survive rape; but I am talking here about what it would mean to castrate men who have not raped.)

    4. Once you start talking about using pre-emptive surgery to solve social problems, you open up a whole can of worms: If we knew that amputating one hand from every child born would eliminate the crime of theft from the moment that the last non-amputee died, would it be okay to do it? Removing the breasts of young girls would eliminate breast cancer and it would save our society a whole lot of money. Should we do it?

    5. I also object to the way you frame the question as an either/or proposition, that saying universal castration is “grotesque and unthinkable” is saying it is better for women to suffer rape than for men to suffer castration. I will not deny that I value my own body and would not be willing to sacrifice my testicles within the context of thought experiment that you define–though, if I knew that sacrificing my testicles would indeed end rape, that would be a different story; as I said, that is a question I would need to think seriously about–but it is also possible to say that both rape and universal castration are “grotesque and unthinkable,” and to take responsibility for what it means to think that rape is “grotesque and unthinkable.” Granted, this does not change the fact that women suffer rape and all the loss of freedom that comes with fear of rape, but it also does not mean that I oppose universal castration out of the purely selfish motives you put forth in your post.

    There was more I wanted to say, but now my son is awake and I need to attend to him and his calling me has pushed from my head whatever else I was going to say anyway.

  79. 78
    rev. quitter says:

    Well put richard.

    i have another question regarding this whole castration business. who is going to perform this little operation? the state?

    you would like to give the state just one more invasive way to be a part of our lives? we already live in a society in which the state is interested in the books we read, the people we talk to, what we’re looking at on the interenet, when and how we die, who is born, who gets married, who pays for guns and does not pay for social assistance.

    now you want the state to decide who gets which sex organs. sweet. it is exactly this sort of invasive-the state can solve everything apprpoach that is driving me away from the progressive movement.

  80. 79
    rev. quitter says:

    PS my comment that was removed was not a put-down of another poster, but a statement of my reaction to that poster. i’m sure you are all very nice people.

  81. 80
    natural says:

    Sophinisba -

    No, my distinction is based on ability to solve the problem at hand. To advocate universal castration only because women have suffered for so long is an odd way of attempting to alleviate the problem of rape in our society. Imagine a young boy going in for the surgery mandated by society. He asks why he has to endure anesthesia, the knife, and the pain. He is told either that he is already a bad person (and women must be protected from his future actions) or that he must undergo it due to other men’s sins toward women. He grows up. I can argue that his potential anger at women or society at large is far more dangerous. This was my result from the thought experiment.

    Bean -

    Women are part of this culture. Society can be understood as a vague, abstract concept. However, I also see it in terms of a collection of men, women, and children. We all have a stake in changing the culture, even if it is one person at a time.

    Surely, women can also speak out to men when they hear ideas or see actions that can lead to rape, and men can raise their sons not to rape. Personally, I try to change the things I don’t like in this society by molding young people and speaking out when injustices occur. These activities are not exclusive to gender. My statement was not to solely apply responsibility for children to women but to give one example of something men can do and something women can do.

    It is not a matter of one person changing how another adult thinks. I was offering up the possibility that the lack of societal restraints helps keep the rape culture alive. Every person is but one small part of society that can either condone rape or not. Am I responsible for changing other people think? No. However, I am responsible for speaking out against misogynist views or actions. Discourse with people who may hold some of these views may not change them outright, but they may rethink their position if enough people speak up.

    I am trying to offer a solution to the rape culture. I don’t feel comfortable throwing up my hands and saying that is it bad but that there is nothing I can do about it. I can affect those around me. Consider me an optimist. I hope it can get better, and I will continue to try to change it.

  82. 81
    Teenytoona says:

    Wow, I had no idea Schafly was this bad.

  83. Holy Backlash, Batgirls. Schafly is such a perfect specimen of the phenomenon of women who contend with sexist oppression by sucking up (whether in literal or metaphorical terms) to their oppressors (and/or who take it several steps further, e.g., when one considers female participation in hate groups, lesbian battering, etc.).

    Of course such women use examples just like these – women who are oppressive, abusive, etc. – in furtherance of their anti-feminist agendas. Witness Rene Denfeld who, in her bizarrely titled book “Kill the Body, The Head Will Fall: A Closer Look at Women, Violence, and Aggression,” used ‘lesbian battering’ anecdotally in an effort to demonstrate that domestic violence has little to do with gender, per se. Never mind that women who batter women (like extreme right wing and overtly fascist women) act largely from internalized oppression (which, I should add, doesn’t begin to excuse such behavior – to say the least). It’s friggin’ infuriating.

    Last month I had to go to court in a matter concerning the care of my grandmother, a lifelong, diehard Republican (I’ll be nice here and refrain from attributing her political beliefs to her decades-long battle with schizophrenia, which is now all the worse for her age-related dementia). I sat next to her old friend, also a diehard Republican, and we got along fine – talking about my grandmother’s specific medical needs and such – and then, a domestic violence case came up before the judge. A woman in a wheelchair had to testify in open court – in front of her husband – about his having attempted to kill her. And my grandmother’s friend clucked and tisk-tisked all the way through the hearing, pontificating about what the woman must have done to provoke the man into such behavior. I had to bite my tongue to the point of nearly causing myself to bleed.

    Finally, the judge made his decision: a 12 month sentence. Suspended. The man who battered his wheelchair-bound wife walked out of there a free man. With the nice little Republican white lady – no doubt a big fan of Mrs. Schafly – practically cheering him all the way.

    BTW: Sorry to make my first comment here such a ridiculously long rant… #1, I just stumbled onto this wonderful, highly erudite and provocative blog – which I immediately added to my blogroll, and #2, it’s such an important subject. If feminists can’t get to the root of what drives anti-feminism in women, then our movement is doomed – along with any number of related progressive causes!

    Best regards – V.

  84. 83
    Sheelzebub says:

    No, my distinction is based on ability to solve the problem at hand. To advocate universal castration only because women have suffered for so long is an odd way of attempting to alleviate the problem of rape in our society. Imagine a young boy going in for the surgery mandated by society. He asks why he has to endure anesthesia, the knife, and the pain. He is told either that he is already a bad person (and women must be protected from his future actions) or that he must undergo it due to other men’s sins toward women. He grows up. I can argue that his potential anger at women or society at large is far more dangerous. This was my result from the thought experiment.

    To advocate curtailed movement/freedom for women because men supposedly can’t control their urges is an odd way of attempting to allieviate rape in our society. Imagine a young woman being raped and dealing with the aftermath. She may ask why it was okay for someone to force her to have sex and put her at risk of pregnancy and STD, traumatize her, and completely destroy her trust in men. She may ask why what happened to her wasn’t considered ‘violent’ if her partner raped her, if she wasn’t beaten, or if she was ‘just’ drugged and raped. She is told that she is already a bad person (a slut, hysterical, and/or careless with her personal safety) and that she must undergo further degradation in the courts and in the court of public opinion as a way to protect people from evil women who are sluts and who probably lie about rape. Besides, if mothers all raised their sons not to rape, there would be no problem, since we all know that women have done abseloutely nothing to stop rape. I can argue that her anger at men as a result of her brutal treatment is far more dangerous. This was my result from the thought experiment.

    But actually, if you had read Qgrrl’s comment in context, you’d see that it was in reaction to the vile idea that some rape just isn’t violent. But why do that when we can twist what she said around out of context? I notice that you and some of the other folks who are going off on how barbaric Qrrl is, how terrible women are for not doing enough to stop rape (utter fucking bullshit btw–and yeah, naturnal, I’m talking to you here. Talk about being patronizing. Get a fucking clue already.).

    Oddly enough, when she took the “some rapes aren’t violent” post and drew a parallel with castration (chemical vs. blade vs. rusty knife), all hell broke loose. Yet there was nary a peep before from these self-same righteous posters when rape itself was dismissed as a mere trifling thing if the woman in question wasn’t beaten to a pulp. The moral of the story: dismissing violence against women is rational and okay. But drawing an analogy with castration of men to make a point is completely unforgiveable, and should be taken as a threat to all men with all energy in the thread about the RAPE OF WOMEN to focus on the FEELINGS OF MEN.

    Deja vu and all that. . . .

  85. Pingback: Running With Symbols

  86. First, since I have discovered there is another Richard who posts here, I am going to go by my full name from now on. Second, Sheelzebub wrote:

    The moral of the story: dismissing violence against women is rational and okay. But drawing an analogy with castration of men to make a point is completely unforgiveable, and should be taken as a threat to all men with all energy in the thread about the RAPE OF WOMEN to focus on the FEELINGS OF MEN.

    But don’t you see that this is the problem with retributive justice, even when it is only rhetorical. In order to talk about castration as a way of trying to bring home to men certain points about rape, you have to come up with a reason–i.e., it would end rape–to justify the castration you are talking about. And if you decide that you’re going to use that justification, of course you are going to turn the conversation to men and how preventive castration would make men feel. And so you get caught in this paradox: on the one hand, you want the castration analogy to make men feel a certain way; you want it to get men at least to sympathize, if not empathize and identify with certain aspects of how women feel about rape, and yet when men respond quite reasonably to a call for universal preventive castration by insisting that it is not an approriate response to rape and by talking about how talking about rape in this way makes them feel, you get upset that the focus is on men’s feelings and not the rape of women. (I also should say that I recognize that women also took positions critical of Q Grrl’s analogy, but I am interested here in talking about men.)

    If you’re a man in this discussion, there is no way to win unless you change the terms of the conversation. So here’s the thing; I would like to propose to you that using castration as an analogy doesn’t work not simply because it makes most men too uncomfortable to think it through to the logical conclusion you want them to arrive at, but also because it doesn’t work, even on the most basic level, as a useful analogy. Here’s why:

    As I said above, to introduct preventive castration into the conversation, you need to justify it. Rape, on the other hand, does not need a reason; it is system, endemic; it inheres in even the seemingly most innocent aspects of our culture and even those that, on the surface, seem to be in opposition to rape. (See the discussion on men walking women to their cars that Amp referred to in his most recent link farm. If you really want to find a way to get men, especially young men, to think about what it means for a woman to walk around with the fear of rape and what it means that rape is the violent physical occupation of one person’s body by another, then you need to find an aspect of men’s lives in which analogous “meanings” are as systemic and endemic in their lives, and the only one that I can think of is the degree to which men, especially young men, are defined as cannon fodder. It is not precisely the same thing, if only because it is not sexualized in the way that rape is, but this is supposed to be an analogy, not an equation.

    Draft registration was reinstituted the year I turned 18, and I can still remember the horror that came over me when I realized what registering meant: not only that I might be taken at any time the government decided it was necessary and trained to kill, to think of killing as my job, but that, in the event I became a soldier, it would be, by definition, someone else’s job somewhere to kill me–and this would be true even if there were not actual war to fight. It made me look at my body very differently; it made me look at what it meant for me to walk around my neighborhood very differently. And it was one of the things, when I started to think seriously about feminism and rape and male privilege and so on, that made it possible for me to think myself analogously into women’s shoes, so to speak.

    Now, please, I am not suggesting that these are precise parallels; I am merely trying to point out that there is a systemic way of seeing men’s bodies as objects of violence, and I am suggesting that getting men really to understand what that means might be one way of getting men to understand a little bit about the violence of rape. James Gilligan wrote a very good book called Violence that does a really interesting job of comparing, from a feminist perspectice, the ways in which patriarchy objectifies women sexually and men in terms of violence.

  87. 85
    Q Grrl says:

    I particularly like this part:

    3. There are some other differences between rape and pre-emptive castration that are worth considering: Women who have been raped can heal, physically, psychologically and emotionally. Men who have been pre-emptively castrated cannot, and so, again, the question of doing the permanent damage that castration would do to men who have not raped and who will not rape raises the issue of retributive justice.

    So, in other words, the threat of rape to all women is a normative experience from which one need not heal or act pre-emptively. Nice.

    Maybe my rhetorical device might make more impact if I dropped the pre-emptive business and talked about arming ninja-clad women with rusty garden shears — and gave them a few dark alleys and hedge rows to hide in. Or, to get back to Schlafly… we could present as a wedding gift a platinum plated surgical knife to all new wives, to use at their discretion, because their husbands’ bodies now belong to them.

  88. 86
    Lee says:

    QGrrrl, maybe a platinum-nickel alloy would hold the edge better. :-)

  89. 87
    Sheelzebub says:

    But don’t you see that this is the problem with retributive justice, even when it is only rhetorical. In order to talk about castration as a way of trying to bring home to men certain points about rape, you have to come up with a reason”“i.e., it would end rape”“to justify the castration you are talking about.

    Her original post merely paralleled the distinction someone made between rape and violence. As if there was a distinction. It wasn’t about retubutive justice, it was about showing him how one could apply the same philosophy to castration–but it was done chemically so it couldn’t be violent. Not like, say, doing it with a rusty blade. (Like how acquaintence rape isn’t ‘violent’ because she wasn’t hit, like the stranger popping out of the bushes and beating you. That’s ‘violent’ and we should split hairs about that and pooh-pooh what so many women who’ve been reading/posting on this thread have gone through.)

    But you know what? Just forget about it. It is becoming clearer to me with each comment posted by yet another man that you all don’t want to get it. Better to go off on the Man! Hating! Comment! than actually look at the parallel it draws upon. Better to go off on Qgrrl than on the vile idea that some rapes aren’t as ‘bad’ because the woman wasn’t beaten, or she was ‘only’ drugged and raped, or whatever.

    My deepest apologies for being uppity. When will I learn that we’re just bitches and we don’t matter? Carry on–do, let’s talk about the feelings of men in a thread about the rape of women.

  90. Sheelzebub:

    With all due respect: go back and read my posts. In fact I am going at the end of this post to bother telling you which ones contain which content because I am tired of being read out of context and taken to task for taking Q Grrl to task in a way that I never did. I never told her she shouldn’t be angry; I never called her a “bad girl;” I never minimize rape or the reality of what it means to be a woman living in a rape culture; nor did I ever tell her she shouldn’t use castration as a rhetorical device. What I tried to do was take the rhetoric seriously and ask a question about whether it moves the discussion about rape forward in a useful way. In my opinion it does not.

    You are, as is Q Grrl, in full possession of your own ideas and opinions. The fact that you don’t agree with me is fine, but it does not give you the right to keep taking me out of context just because I am a man saying these things–and, yes, I am beginning to think, in fact your post makes it pretty clear to me, that much of the reason I am being read out of context is that I am a man. On the one hand, I think, fair enough: women have put up with crap like that from men for centuries and I can accept that turnabout is, to a certain degree, fair play. One the other hand, though, that reversal is precisely what I am talking about: it perpetuates the same structure; all it changes is the roles; and I am not interested in that kind of structure anymore.

    Now, if you are interested in actually reading what I wrote, here:

    1. I didn’t comment on Q Grrl’s first use of castration, as I said in comment #70, because I thought she made a good point. I commented on her second mention of castration, and its use as a preventive measure against rape.

    2. You might also read comment #52, where I explicitly made the point that any rape, all rape, is violent by definition and that to try to distinguish between violent and non-violent rape is to make the rape itself disappear.

    3. You should also look at comment #58 in terms of what I have to say about focusing on men’s feelings rather than focusing on rape.

    Finally, you don’t have to apologize to me for being uppity, ironically or otherwise. I don’t think you are; nor do I think you and the other women on this thread are “just bitches [who] don’t matter.” But I will point out that no one has yet addressed in any substantive way the question I asked when I first said something about Q Grrl’s use of castration, which was intended, she said, as rhetoric and not something she actually wanted to put into practice. (And I do not pretend that I have an answer either). What I wrote was this:

    How do we arrive at justice, not only for the woman who survives the rape”“much less for the woman who does not”“but also for [the rapist]? Because to dehumanize him, to place him beyond justice, is in some sense to become like him. And that’s not something I think anybody wants.

  91. 89
    Sheelzebub says:

    Well, except that your question did ignore what Qgrrl’s intent with the rhetorical device. While you asserted that you understood what she attempted, you then decided to take it and go off in another direction. No one answered your question because as far as I can see, it’s moot. That wasn’t her point, and that wasn’t the point of the rhetorical device regarding castration.

    As to your complaint that I’m reading you out of context because you’re a man–not true at all. I’m not reading you out of context. Consider my point–despite this being a thread that is supposed to be focused on the rape of women, we are now focusing solely on the feelings of men. There’s no going out of context there–the bulk of this thread has been around Qgrrl’s rhetorical device, the outrage it generated, and how it makes men feel.

  92. Sheelzebub:

    If the purpose of this thread has been for women to express their outrage and frustration at men and the rape culture that we have created and continue to perpetuate–and I mean that without irony–and/or if it was supposed to be a conversation only among women, then I suppose you are right; I should not have opened my mouth at all and I apologize. But that did not seem to me to be the purpose or the purview of this thread, either in the way Amp framed it or in the discussion that followed, and so I have a couple of more things to say in response to you and then I am done:

    I am not outraged; I have not been talking about how Q Grrl’s rhetorical device makes me feel. I have been talking about whether I think it is an effective rhetorical device for moving the conversation about rape forward, and since she inserted the device into the conversation twice, the second time to underline the fact that it was not merely a reaction to what someone said, but a position she (rhetorically) fully supported, then it seems to me that taking her rhetoric seriously is a way of taking her feelings seriously.

    More to the point: Her first point about castration was that trying to parse out the violence of rape was like trying to parse out the violence in various methods of castration, a very good point. Her second use of the castration rhetoric, however, was to put forward the notion of universal preventive castration, a very different idea, with very different implications and consequences; specifically, it is not making a point about degrees of violence, it is suggesting that doing violence to men’s bodies is, rhetorically, a reasonable response to the violence that men do to women’s. Now, I am not going to say again everyting I have said until now, but if you do not see the difference between these two uses of castration in this conversation and how the second one invites a discussion of whether or not it is a reasonable response, rhetorical or otherwise, to rape, then I guess there is nothing more to say, but it is because I have been responding to the invitation that is implicit in her second use of castration and people have been complaining as if I were responding to the first that I say that you and others have been taking me out of context. As well, the fact that I do not support her second use of the castration rhetoric does not mean I was trying to turn this into a conversation about men and men’s feelings.

    Rhetoric has consequences and implications, and the people who use rhetoric are responsible and accountable for those consequences and implications. I asked questions about the consequences and implications of Q Grrl’s second use of the castration rhetoric (and I want to point out that I did not attack her at all or in any way say that she was being unreasonable or that she shouldn’t have said what she said or that she hated men or anything like that); she did not respond by saying that she was simply trying to make a limited rhetorical point. Rather, she defended her position as if she meant it in its full implications, and she attacked my position pretty aggressively. The conversation that exchange could have begun, it seems to me, is one worth having, as I said before, precisely because ending rape is men’s problem and because any serious discussion of ending rape involves, by definition, a discussion of men’s bodies.

    But, as I said above, if the point of this thread was that it should be a place for women to express outrage and frustration and to engage in the kind of rhetoric Q Grrl engaged in for the sake of that anger and frustration–and I am not trying to be patronizing or ironic; that is a perfectly legitimate function for a thread like this to serve–then it was not the place to have the discussion I wanted to have.

  93. 91
    Jake Squid says:

    Sheelzebub wrote:
    …despite this being a thread that is supposed to be focused on the rape of women

    And Richard Jeffrey Newman responded:
    If the purpose of this thread has been for women to express their outrage and frustration at men and the rape culture that we have created and continue to perpetuate…

    Richard, that is a gross misreading of Sheelzebub’s words. Look at it again. Do you see the difference between “focused on the rape of women” and “for women to express their outrage & frustration”? I see a whopping HUGE difference. This is precisely what you have rightly been taken to task for, lo these many days. QGrrl uses a rhetorical analogy that makes perfect sense in the context of the discussion to that point and you use it to discuss it as if it was not rhetorical at all & you use it to make the thread about men’s feelings about castration. All your lengthy comments that utterly ignore the topic of this thread, that utterly ignore what Sheelzebub is clearly communicating and that continually (and, I believe, willfully) distort what has been said to you just make me want to scream, “SHUT UP!” Have you actually added anything to this discussion other than yet another example of how to derail a thread about the rape of women?

  94. Richard, that is a gross misreading of Sheelzebub’s words.

    You are right. I was frustrated and it got the better of me. Sheelzebub, I apologize.

  95. Sorry, I got called away and pushed Post accidentally. I wanted also, very shamefacedly, to say this: While I still do not think that the substance of my response to Q Grrl’s second use of castration rhetoric was derailing, I have just looked back at the thread, and I realize that I did allow myself to get too involved in responding defensively to people’s reactions to my post and took up an unforgivably large amount of space and other people’s reading time in doing so, and the effect of that was to derail this conversation in a way that I never intended. I should have done what I have done elsewhere and moved what was going on in my head over to my own blog, where it belonged. And so I offer my apologies to the group as a whole.

  96. 94
    maribelle says:

    Richard–I for one accept your apology, and appreciate that you made it.

  97. 95
    Dora says:

    Rape is wrong……………no matter how you look at it or how you set your words.

  98. 96
    Z says:

    When I was 11/12 years old, the woman who lived next door to us escaped out of her bedroom window one day after her husband had unchained her and gone to the toilet. She came screaming up our driveway and he chased her and tore her clothes trying to drag her back to the house. My mother called out, and he let her go and she came running to our house and hid under the table in the corner and cried that cry you hear when people just want their heart to stop beating.

    He chained her up and raped her during every weekend.

    A week before the court case the woman went back to the house (she had been staying with their two children in a ‘safe house’ after the incident where she escaped – he found out where she was, broke in, and raped her again while she was there). Anyway – she went back to the ‘family home’ and gassed herself.

    The ‘husband’ was convicted and got 7 years. He would have seen 4 of those inside a cell, at most.

    Two young kids ended up with a rapist dad in prison, and a mother dead from suicide (or murder, if you ask me).

    That this Phyllis Schlafly would say spousal rape is somehow ‘less criminal’ than strange rape……. it astounds me.

    I wonder what kind of sheltered and ignorant world this woman must have existed in her whole life to think this way. It makes me sick.

    RAPE IS RAPE IS RAPE.

    There is NEVER an excuse.

  99. Pingback: …In which I rant, again, on the hairy subject of women as perpetrators at Vortex(t)

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