The conversation about Steve Ward’s stupidity is continuing — thank Gawd.
But all the talk brings up a few points I’d like to clarify.
1) I was really enjoying Tough Love up to this point. Ward (and the shows producers) seemed to be operating from the old BDSM mantra, “Safe, sane & consensual,” something pretty rare in reality television.
Most remarkably seemed to be the “consensual” part, in which scripted tricks were not played on either the female participants nor their male “possibilities.” (You might be able to debate the use of physically using electronic shocks to modify the women’s behaviors, but it’s not like these were stun-guns or something. It was no worse than having Ward or another coach standing beside them going, “Bup-bup-bup!” when they did something dumb.)
Overall — and up until the misuse of “rape” (both in diagnosis and as a fear-mongering tool) — I’ve been appreciative of the combination of tact & honest bluntness in confronting the women’s baggage — both the emotional issues & the bad habits. So it pains me to see the show go so low.
2) I’m not condoning Arian’s actions. I understand them; but I do worry for her. (A number of the other women on the show too.)
But there is a clear distinction between Arian’s self-hurtful behaviors and the predatory act of rape performed by another. She, and women like her, need to be held responsible for their own actions — but not the actions of others. In this case, Arian needs to be aware of what she is doing, how her perception of the effectiveness of her defense mechanism as inaccurate and is in fact detrimental to herself and her objective of finding a good relationship. She needs to see this in order to change her behaviors — in order to bring her the happiness she both deserves and seeks.
This is what Ward was trying to do/say. And it would have been a great lesson for all those watching too. He started well, but… *shudder*
This would have been one of those educational & self-help moments; a lesson for all of us at home, young & old who need to learn it, or at least understand it. But…
3) What about the other side? When comments are left at VH1’s blog about this “educational moment”, they go something like this one by Kaya:
To all of you who are so upset with Steve, let me ask you this: is this what you will teach your daughters? That it’s okay to get drunk, dress suggestively, act in a sexually agressive manner and take home anybody you like, and nothing will ever happen to them? Many rapists are predators, just like child molestors. A child molestor will seek out a victime when he or she is most vulnerable and least able to resist. So will a rapistt; in this case, a drunk woman eager to be alone with him. Sure, the rapist is at fault, but that doesn’t make the woman less raped, beaten, emotionally scarred, dead, etc….
If you aren’t teaching your daughters how to protect themselves, you shouldn’t be a parent.
Ignoring my desire to nit-pick some of your comments on the behaviors of rapists, let me say that I agree totally that parents should teach their daughters how to protect themselves. And when, for whatever reason, they haven’t learned such things — or have adopted bad or unsafe habits — they need to be reeducated. See all of the above.
This brings up the post I linked to in my original Ward/rape post (read it; I link for a reason, yo). I too wish the world wasn’t the way it is, but it is and we need to safeguard our daughters, our girls, our women. But what are we teaching our sons, our boys, our men? (Incidentally, that same blogger — the author of the main author here at Kitsch Slapped — has a post about talking to her son about such things.)
In all this talk about rape, where’s the part about parents teaching their sons?
Kaya’s statements completely ignore the lessons here about teaching young men that rape & other abuse is not to be tolerated. Like Ward’s original statement and those of the other show participants, such language of omission isn’t an accident. They are excusing bad male behaviors, placing the blame for “enticing” upon Arian’s shoulders — and all women’s shoulders — when the blame clearly belongs to men who commit rape, assaults, and abuse of any sort.
This sort of complacent language dismisses male responsibility & diminishes the crime. It complicates how we as a society react to charges of assault & rape. It’s why Ward said what he did, why the other women agreed with him, and why the comments at VH1 have been so stupid. It perpetuates the myths, blames the victims, and places other women in danger with misinformation. All things I’ve already spoken of, so I’ll stop now. For now.
4) Because I have a lot of friends who are sex workers * (escorts, phone sex operators, erotica authors, strippers, etc.), I also feel I need to clarify my statements about Arian, her stripping, and my thoughts on what I see regarding a history of her past abuse.
This is the toughest part of the post, actually, because what I’m about to discuss is a stereotype as old as the oldest profession. And incredibly hurtful too. So, let me say for the record that abuse & sex work do not go hand in hand.
Like any segment of society, especially female segments, abuse is a part of the demographic — but abuse is not an identifying characteristic. It should not be assumed to be a part of any sex worker’s history.
Unfortunately for sex workers who wish stories that reinforce such stereotypes would just go away, Arian, the sex worker, exhibits a hyper sexuality that moves past a self-described “bad girl” let alone a content within her own skin, sex positive person.
The true tell-tale signs for me, just in this last episode, were her approval seeking glances at her fellow house mates when she sat in the “hot seat,” her upping the loud & raunchy display & talk when she found no support, and her lashing out in pain like a wounded animal when the rape word hit the fan. (As I said before, she was looking for a reason to leave and explode — but watch closely, she’s got more pain than fire in her eyes at that point.)
In past episodes, we’ve seen her both use her sexuality to garner attention and react dramatically when it’s been of no help to her. Most obvious in her dealings with Ward himself, when she feels she not only has no control but no value to Ward.
I can’t speak for sex workers everywhere, but none of the sex workers I know behave like Arian has on the show.
And so it is this set of behaviors I speak of when I say I believe Arian has been abused; these are the behaviors which are dangerous. Her employment as stripper or sex worker has nothing to do with it.
There. I think I covered every thing I intended to.
Oh, except for the fact that I still urge you to contact Steve via his matchmaking service’s site, Master Matchmakers, and VH1 to demand an apology.
* Don’t act so shocked that I know and cavort with sex workers. They are damn fine people.
If you are “just surprised to hear this because I never mentioned them before”, well, I also don’t identify my computer programming friends. I also don’t identify my gay friends, my black friends, my white traditional straight vanilla mom friends, etc. How horrible would I be if I identified them as such for no reason? I only mention such identifiers when I feel it is relevant.
UPDATE See how the story unfolds:
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Well, if I had know my hastily written comment would find its way onto another site, I would have edited the spelling errors a bit more. How embarrassing! I would like to take this opportunity to respond:
I find your insistence on keeping women squarely in the victim role particularly troubling. Victims are powerless and have no control over events that happen around them; they are completely at the mercy of others and incapable of effecting any changes in their own circumstances. Conversely, women who take responsibiliy for their choices and actions are empowered, for they have the capacity to influence events that surround them. The manner in which we conduct ourselves can LESSEN (yes, I feel the need to emphasize that word, I know we can never COMPLETELY ELIMINATE) our chances of being assaulted. I can think of nothing that defines “Stepford Wife” less.
It appears as though those who are offended by Steve’s remark believe he was making a blanket statement about rape, victims, 80-year-old women, women who are attacked in their homes, sex workers, etc. Others mistake his stating an obvious truth, that Arian’s behaviors are dangerous and can lead to unwanted consequences, as assigning blame. As a mother of a 20-year-old college student, I feel I would be doing my daughter a grave disservice by not informing her of potential hazards and how to avoid them in clear, direct and “brutally honest” terms – for both her own happiness and personal safety. I also can’t help but wonder if some of the anger stems from the fact that it was Steve, a MAN, making these statements.
As to why I did not address the issue of educating men, I didn’t because I didnt’ see any other men in the room besides Steve. That isn’t the point of this show, although it’s good to see the dialogue it has created. Steve was solely addressing Arian and her behaviors, and they were right on target. I sincerely hope he does not apologize, but it does seem as though clarification of his comments would be helpful seeing how misconstsrued they have become. I stand by my post, and your calling me a Stepford Wife does not make me one.
I’m glad you responded — really :)
I selected your comment to quote because it was more complete than most in defense of your thinking.
(I did consider cleaning up your typos but thought if I did so would be unethical or otherwise lead people to think I edited your words for meaning too. But I understand that your fingers were flying and do not take the typos to mean anything else; so don’t be embarrassed.)
I think understand your intentions with your daughter, and I admire them. But…
First, I think we have to remove the issue of “drunk” from the conversation because A) we don’t know that Arian was drunk, B) it wasn’t part of Ward’s discussion, & C) Arian behaves this way when sober. Drunkenness is a dangerous thing, regardless of rape; but a separate issue from this discussion. I know you didn’t mention this in your comment here, but you did before and I got an email with similar thoughts, so I thought I should mention it here.
You did mention victims, and you suggest empowering women. But victims of rape are just that, victims. There’s nothing empowering about it. A victim can do everything right and still, they are a victim. Just like a family in a car that’s T-boned by the car of a speeding driver, a rape victim is a victim. We don’t tsk-tsk at the people in the struck car and make them defend their right to be at the corner, for driving to go see a movie, or investigate their careers for possible “reasons” why they are not really victims.
Like drivers of cars, women need to obey similar “rules of the road” to ensure their safety. I think this is what you are talking about — but you are still holding Arian (and those like her) responsible for what others may do. Arian, or any woman, can get a man all excited, but when she says “no,” it means “no”. That should be the primary lesson — for everyone.
The woman has broken no laws, can get anyone as excited as she wants (or, in some cases, he becomes excited by who knows what, and she is unaware if his thoughts). And whenever she wishes she can stop — and so should he. There’s no law that says either side in a romantic or sexual situation must do the deed.
Rape does not occur because “a woman started it” — it occurs because he wants to exercise his control, his power. A woman saying “no” at any time — after a tease or from the start by not flirting at all — is where it starts. He needs a “no” — his power comes from taking that which is not given.
What will happen from all this though, is that if Arian, or any woman, would be raped (furiously knocking wood!) she will be dismissed as a victim because of thinking like this. She’s not seen as credible, having little value for her “slut” or “bad girl” status.
The danger isn’t really will she be victimized by a rapist, but will she continue to be victimized by thinking like this.
And what of the victims who did nothing? Simply by being a victim of rape, they are submitted to all the additional victimization of being somehow responsible.
So this additional victimization is something “we” as society are responsible for — we need to change how we think, talk, and respond to the issue. The thinking that any rape victim is in any way responsible for the actions of another is our shared responsibility.
When people think of ways to hold her accountable, even under the guise of teaching safety, they are saying that due to her behaviors she has less value, and therefore “asks for it”.
If you think that her “sexual aggression” makes her less valuable, less credible, and therefore more likely to be a victim, then please see your responsibility in placing “sexual aggressive” women into a less valuable category; i.e. you & judgment have made her vulnerable to victimization.
I am not suggesting we do not teach our children to be safe; I am suggesting we are clear on what is the actual crime.
And I’m suggesting that within the context of the show, that the way Arian behaves threatens her own goals (and, if I am right about past abuse, her own self-safety).
As for your statement that you didn’t mention the education of men because no other men, aside from Ward, were present, what about the the other women on the show? Their fearful & incorrect thinking was very apparent. What about male viewers? What about male readers of the VH1 thread?
As for my (or other) outrage over this issue, it has little to do with Ward being male as it does his being an “expert”. He should be speaking the truth.
“Others mistake his stating an obvious truth, that Arian’s behaviors are dangerous and can lead to unwanted consequences, as assigning blame.”
I don’t disagree, he was trying to address possible consequences. In and of itself, not a problem. But here is the thing…there are real, certain filled consequences to Arian’s choices. But rape is not one of them. It is not to say she does not face that risk. But her actions are not what make it a possibility. It is that there are assholes out there that rape women. She is at risk whether she strokes a mans…ego…in a bar or not.
Steve’s choice of words made it sound like an inevitable road. But many, many, many rape victims follow “all the rules” and still get raped. Why? Because a rapist isn’t waiting for someone to break the rules. They merely look for options.
It frustrated me that one of the better reality shows I have seen made such a stumble. It’s unfortunate, because I was surprised to realize that the ads made the show look like something other than what it turned out to be (I would like to see VH1 even go out and do a version with guys-that pick-up artist show was terrible). I am hoping Steve takes the comments from those of us who were frustrated to heart and can rethink his approach on this.
I’m beginning to wonder if I have a split personality!
I missed the first episode because the ads looked dumb & thought, “Oh, no, here we go again…” But it was good! It still can be good… And I told my husband the same thing, “They should do this show with men.”
Seriously, Thom… Have I cracked up, and you are me? I’ve been so angry, that it is possible…
I hope so too — I hope you’ve sent your comments into the show and to Ward directly…? The more we speak up, the more likely we are to see this issue addressed.
Not yet, I am going to send my thoughts his way tonight after work.
I think the ads made Ward look like an asshole. Look at how he is gonna help the loser ladies. And the women (who thankfully do not have to go by their nicknames, like some VH1 reality programs) have grown pretty sympathetic. I think part of what I liked was that it is NOT a competition with people getting not home each week. So there is no “this is the person you should hate” and no scheming villains. There are personality conflicts, but unlike other reality shows, they faded rather than grew…women who started out not liking each other developed friendships. I liked that. I’d hate to see this one moment ruin what was way more good than bad.
“I hope so too — I hope you’ve sent your comments into the show and to Ward directly…? The more we speak up, the more likely we are to see this issue addressed.”
I officially sent a letter on the contact us page.
Great. Fantastic. You’ve convinced me, my friends and acquaintances, the media, the judge, jury and the executioner. Good job.
Now all you have to do is convince the nice man you met at the bar tonight who is now holding you at gunpoint in a secluded area he’s driven you to after you willingly got into his car and is now, in his mind, let me repeat, in HIS mind, not yours or your friends’ or the executioner’s in his mind, ,because that’s the only mind that matters right now since he now has all the power and control, IN HIS SICK, TWISTED, DEMENTED MIND, he is only giving you what you’ve been asking for all night, you goddamn filthy whore (that’s the sanitized version of this all-too-real -scenario.) If you can get him to stop punching you in the face long enough, all you need to do is educate him, inform him that “no” means “no,” and nothing you did or said, none the flirting and sexual teasing, should have led to this situation. It’s all a big misunderstanding, and once you clear things up with your assailant I’m sure things will turn out just fine for you.
Go ahead, tell me this doesn’t happen. I need a good laugh today. On second thought, this is dead serious, so allow me to continue.
Was that last scene graphic enough? How about this actual situation. I don’t know if you are old enough to remember this story, but many years ago in California, a 15-year-old girl was hitchhiking – an act most rational people would categorize as “risky.” She was picked up by a perfectly sane and reasonable man who simply never got the “no means no” memo. This guy proceeded to rape her, hack off both of her arms and leave her to die by the side of the road. Miraculously, she survived and was only able to find peace after the monster finally died in prison many years later.
The most unfortunate part of this story is that sadly, there is nothing to be learned from this, at least from your rationale. By following your logic, we mustn’t teach our daughters about the dangers of hitchhiking, because to do so would imply that the 15-year-old did something wrong. We cannot go into the schools and tell young women “if you do this, you may end up getting raped and brutalized” because to say that means we are blaming the victim.
So ladies, wave your thumbs in the air, like you just don’t care – while you’ve still got them. And don’t worry about the repercussions, your feminista sisters will be there after the fact to assure you there was absolutely nothing you could have done to avoid disaster. That alone is worth the price of prosthetics.
The biggest hole in your argument as I see it is that you are trying to have it both ways. You acknowledge that “women need to obey similar “rules of the road” to ensure their safety”, and yet at the same time insist that women in no way, ever, ever, are at all accountable by virtue of their actions if the unspeakable happens. How can we follow “rules of the road” if nothing women do is ever wrong? What are those rules, anyway? How will we know if no one is allowed to tell us? And if someone violates those rules, why are we not allowed to speak up and inform her of the possible consequences? Since we born, we have been taught that certain behaviors have certain consequences, fair or not. If your best friend leaves her purse in plain view on the front seat of her unlocked car, would you say nothing, wait for it to get stolen, and then wail at the top of your lungs that the thief is 100% at fault and regardless of her recklessness she did not deserve to have her purse stolen? Or would you kindly, sweetly, ever-so-gently suggest that perhaps, just perhaps, she might want to consider taking her purse with her and locking up her car?
And if I hear the statement “women can do everything right and still get raped” one more time I am going to scream. What does that mean? Just because some rapes are unavoidable, we shouldn’t acknowledge that some are avoidable? Some robberies are unavoidable also. Should I sleep at night with all my windows and doors wide open, valuables left on the table?? I can’t imagine an experience more terrifying than being attacked in one’s own home, one’s own bed,. I don’t know how someone would even begin to recover from something like that in all honesty. But the truth is, we can take precautions to protect ourselves and minimize the chances of our being assaulted if we are only willing to listen to the truth without becoming defensive or angry.
I have no problem with your arguments in general; they are important and need to be heard and understood. However, they only apply after the rape has occurred. Please continue working that side of the fence. I’ll be right next to you on the other side, the side of prevention. Make sure to cover your ears, though, because I’ll be saying unpleasant things you won’t want to hear. I would much rather offend a few feminist sensibilities than ever read about another mutilated 15-year-old girl.
Sorry for the lengthy diatribe, I should probably start my own blog. I’ve said just about everything I’ve had to say on this subject and if nothing I’ve written has reached anybody, then it never will, so I promise I’m done here.
Thanks, Thom. I guess we’ll have to wait & watch… And hope Ward & Vh1 take the right road.
Kaya, I’m sorry you are so upset that you want to end the conversation. (And while I disagree with you, I think you should blog; you have a lot to say. You are welcome to comment as much/often as you like.) In the event you come back — and for others who come here, here’s the bottom line.
As a woman who has, after surviving date rape (and unrelated domestic violence), researched this extensively, I’d like to remind you of a few facts.
First of all, most crimes of this sort come from within the house, not from outside of it.
The second fact is that like all of us, women/victims can never know what is in another person’s mind, “sick, twisted, demented” or not.
The result is that there is no real protection from this, no way to prevent such crime, unless we change the view that the matter of attacking, raping, abusing, etc. is the responsibility of the one attacking, raping, abusing, etc.
I’ve never said there is nothing we can do or that “nothing women do is ever wrong” — such absolutes do not exist. But “the rules of the road” that I refer to are those of providing opportunity (even that is limited), not motivation.
The “rules of the road” for women include limiting the rapist’s opportunity — but not as you describe it.
Comparing rape to a purse snatching is comparable in the matters of opportunity (time, place, criminal mind) — and in that both are equally sexually motivated. In other words, there is no sexual motivation with rape. (Pedophilia aside, for that has some differences and in the context of Arian’s actions and Ward’s words we are talking about an adult woman.) The rapist steals & violates just as any other thief does; if he “get’s off” its from the power, the control, not a lust for the woman, her sexy talk, etc. This is not hormones but horror we are talking about here.
So aside from trying to limit opportunity, the other “rules of the road” are for women are to be aware of their rights, assert them as best then can — demand them, if need be, follow the laws, and use the laws to protect our rights, ourselves and our families.
Thinking that there is any other way to behave to prevent this, to “not motivate them” to rape, is to pretend that there are uniform rules which abusers, rapists and attackers follow; there aren’t any. There are laws but they are willing to break them. That’s the problem.
Rape is an act of violence, rage and control. We women do not motivate (or un-motivate) that; their demons, their insanity, does.
We want desperately to prevent these things, but it’s not our behaviors which are at issue here.
Comparing Arian’s actions to the horrible hitch-hiking story is comparing apples to oranges. I hate to even do this because I do not wish to in anyway blame the young girl involved… But to lay out the differences here might help you see what I am talking about… Hitch-hiking is against the law; Arian broke no laws. Being alone is to create an opportunity and is to be vulnerable; Arian was in a public place with friends/associates, part of a group. The hitch-hiker showed no signs of hyper sexuality; Arian does/did.
The only thing which these women share, which all women share, is the fact that there are bad men out there who do not care about harming others, who do not care about the rules/laws or the consequences, who are opportunistic in terms of timing and space (which is why your home is so ideal) — and who are given permission to excuse what they do based on what their victim did/didn’t do, how/if the victim “motivated” them or “asked for it.”
The only real way to be secure is to never be alone — to always be in a larger group, in which women must be a huge majority. But then, should you be able to arrange this in a 24/7 situation, you’ll never have real privacy or intimacy (emotionally & physically).
Is that way of living better than being attacked in your own home, your own bed? I don’t know; I’ve only lived one of those things and it wasn’t living with a group of women always present.
But I personally refuse to let anyone take the freedoms & gifts of privacy & intimacy away from me.
Whoa, there Kaya, I’m really offended by so many of your statements.
Clearly you, like Ward, are using rape as a fear mongering tool to modify behaviors — threatening women who do not agree with you, will not conform to your beliefs, with violence and your righteous shaming to boot. How dare you!
On top if it all, you are not speaking the truth — you are exactly part of the problem, perpetuating crap. While I believe you do it out of a misguided fear-filled frenzy to protect you & yours, you’ve got your head in the sand, sister. No, make that your head up your ass with such thinking because you are vigorously passing along dangerous information.
I found both your excellent essays via your VH1 comments. I have been unable to comment there, so I sent them an email(firstname.lastname@example.org) I couldn’t believe that was allowed to air and that VH1 is standing behind Steve. The video of the scene is captioned “he was only telling the truth!” and Rich wonders why Ariane would “freak out”. I agree that this idea is actively dangerous and needs to be debunked if we hope to really curtail rape in our society. I wrote about this also on my blog(also working on a follow up since Steve’s interview):
I left you a comment hours ago! It didn’t appear so I thought your comments were on “moderate” but was it eaten?
I thank you so much for continuing the conversation (and for linking to me). It’s pretty clear that this issue needs to be dealt with way past Ward’s statements.
I too am working on a follow-up — and, now, looking forward to yours :)
I have been following this discussion for a few days now. I’m from Europe, so I have watched the episodes of the show online. I think there are two different discussions going on here: there are those who’re defending a society as it should be and there’s Kaya; pointing out that – while striving for that society – we should not forget that we still have to deal with society as it IS.
I also get the feeling that some of you seem to think that men and women have the same perspective on sex, which is not the case. I agree with the statement that in a lot of cases, rape is not about sexual arousement (sorry if I misspelled that word, but I guess you know what I’m saying) but about power. But that needn’t always be the case: sometimes it IS about that, plain and simple.
So I do think Kaya is right in saying that girls and young women should be made aware of how powerfull the effects of their sexuality can be, and that they should consider some basic rules in order to avoid being victims. At the same time, it should be made clear that even following these ‘rules’ will not be able to protect them everywhere and allways. Even conscious drivers can have accidents, but being aware of how and where you’re driving should lower the risks.
Also, I feel that this discussion is being somewhat ‘polluted’ by statemens as ‘I’ve been raped, so I know best’ …. Do you know of any woman who has not been sexually harrassed in some way or another? I don’t …
I think part of this is people are presuming what the “other side” really means. I don’t have any issue with teaching women AND men ways to avoid situations that make it easier for predators to take advantage of us. I don’t take issue with teaching our kids to avoid getting drunk at parties or bars. But I think we have to be honest that even when they avoid those things, our youth can still find themselves violated by a predator.
It was Steve’s word choice that troubled me, because while I understand what he was trying to break through (Arian’s hard set attitudes that maybe she is not sabotaging her life and relationships). But the phrasing that she would end up raped? Yeah, it did not help, it hardened and angered her more.
Arian is playing a part in an entertainment show. It’s not some kind of therapy, the aim is not helping the women. The only purpose of that show is entertainment and making money. Hence the choice of words from that man, who is NOT there to help her, but to earn himself more money.
Arian is a grown woman, and capable of making her own decisions. Instead of going into therapy, she chose to take part in a show.
What also struck me is the following: if a man were to behave like Arian does (sexually agressive, I mean), he would already be facing some complaints about sexual harrasment …
lsaura, thanks for contributing to the conversation :)
Just an FYI, not all the online videos show Ward actually saying the line.
To some extent, you’re right. But, Ward’s statement is a continuation not only of old things, but keeps things as they are; which is detrimental to women (and men). As an ‘expert’ he should not be perpetuating dangerous thinking.
Rape is about power, plain & simple. In cases where a man pleads or excuses his behavior as “run away hormones” &/or arousal, he is acting out of a belief that he has the right — the superiority, which is power — to take what he wants. That is all about power, both in terms of physical power and political or societal inequity which places him, literally, on top of women; not about the “powerful effects of female sexuality.”
I don’t think anyone has said that because they have been raped that they know best… I think they are speaking of the horror of Ward’s statements; to hear him speak of Arian or any woman’s behavior as the cause of rape is to be victimized yet again. It diminishes our credibility, blames us for what we’re trying to live through, live with.
I agree that there are probably few women who have not been sexually harassed; but with Ward saying what he does and being defended for it, this only ensures that such inappropriate thinking and therefore dangerous behaviors continue. Ward needs to be held accountable, as do others who continue to spit out this backward thinking that women are responsible for the behaviors of others.
Hello again, Thom,
You’re so brave to keep coming back here — I’ve literally become ill over this subject & emails etc. and I can only imagine that as a man, you somewhat feel like you’ve been cast as The Man, the oppressor; I know that I and several commentors have tried to draw distinctions between the male rapist and men in general. But still, thanks for participating. :)
I’m not against educating safety — in this case of rape, opportunity is the biggest factor within our control; not motivation. Claiming that women are responsible for rape because of their behavior, dress, occupation etc., is to mistakenly operate off the fact that we motivate rapists. We need to educate our children and adults (or all genders) and teach that rape is not to be tolerated or excused under any circumstances. That’s where Ward went horribly wrong.
Drunkenness, as I said, it slightly off-tangent because we don’t know if Arian was drunk etc., but certainly being drunk renders a person with poor reasoning, reaction time, etc. Certainly not recommended behavior in terms of staying safe.
But not all consumers of media (especially of VH1, apparently) are as savvy as you, lsaura; the show is promoted with Steve Ward as a guru, an expert, and many of the viewers are taking that at face-marketed-value. We don’t need any one on television making those statements, let alone a man proffered as an expert. I see that as very dangerous and holding back progress towards safety.
Your point about Arian’s behavior as sexual harassment is really interesting… One one hand, it depends upon the setting; clearly clerking in retail it’s a problem, but as a stripper, it’s part of the job. But if you look at it in context of a bar or social setting… Well, it may not be cause of legal action, but if it was a man showing off his body parts (as Arian did on this latest episode; baring cleavage & moving her clothing to show off a (barely) thong-covered bum during a game of pool), we’ll there would either be complaints to the management or people leaving. But as she’s a woman, is she given different consideration?
Sure, many of us would react to this with embarrassment, worry about her being drunk to the point of being a danger to herself or others — we might even wrinkle our noses in distaste, calling her names etc. — but we don’t feel as threatened by this behavior as we would if a man were behaving thus.
But our treatment of her, depending upon our relationship with her, be to remove ourselves from her company, “take care of her” (get her home because she was too drunk etc.), if she was our friend, we might have a heart-to-heart with her at the very next opportunity (and, if we felt strongly enough, not go out with her anymore), perhaps even call in a drunk & disorderly… But we wouldn’t feel threatened by her. Another example of the double-standards at work here; which should also be addressed.
“I’m not against educating safety — in this case of rape, opportunity is the biggest factor within our control; not motivation. Claiming that women are responsible for rape because of their behavior, dress, occupation etc., is to mistakenly operate off the fact that we motivate rapists. We need to educate our children and adults (or all genders) and teach that rape is not to be tolerated or excused under any circumstances. That’s where Ward went horribly wrong.”
Oh, I am in agreement…I was more addressing the people who behaved rather dismissive of your points. It seems like they presumed you were saying that we should not educate our children, friends, family, etc of ways to lessen opportunity.
“Arian is playing a part in an entertainment show. It’s not some kind of therapy, the aim is not helping the women. The only purpose of that show is entertainment and making money.”
I do get that VH1 puts the show on for the purpose of entertainment, and that they choose people based on that. There are things this show does better than other shows which purport to be about “self improvement”-it’s not a competition for money (do the hosts of such shows think really think people are “changing their ways” when it’s all a game to eliminate other people and take home the cash?!) and people are not “voted off”. But yeah, like all shows on VH1 it is about cheap circus like entertainment when the day is done.
I came across your blog because of my similar interest in Tough Love and whether or not it was finally a good reality TV show for women or not. I’m still on the fence.
I just want to say that I appreciate your blog post about Ward’s rape comments and your following comments tremendously.
During my freshman orientation at college, all students were made to watch a play in which a standard and supposedly ambiguous drunken date rape scene took place. Afterwards we were meant to discuss this situation. We were separated by gender. All of the forty or so women (including the counselors and RAs trained to help us navigate this social dilemma) came to the agreement that it was just as much the girl’s fault as the guy’s. Even though she said no. Even though in the play she told him to stop.
I was the only voice of dissent on this issue. Even though that was years ago, that moment has stuck with me. At the time I did not know how to verbalize the argument you have made and actually until I read this, still did not. Everything you said is something I have felt and known for a long time. I am constantly appalled at the blame that is put onto women for being a rape victim. I understand one’s reluctance to not be a victim and to be able to feel like one has control over one’s life (to maintain sanity) but socially that is an extremely detrimental position to take. It puts responsibility societally onto the victim rather than the attacker and perpetuates the myth that an attack is provoked.
Your point of rape being not a sexual act, but one of power and anger is especially compelling. It takes the issue of women as ‘cock teases’ or whatever, off the table–which is great.
One thing I am interested more in, which you briefly mentioned, is the kind of education we can give to individuals to avoid situations of rape. Do you mean to educate people on what exactly rape is (which you’ve outlined above) how it functions, why it happens, etc? Or do you suggest to take a more practical approach, like you mentioned, by not being alone at night?
You also skirt the issue of drunkeness. Would your education recommend to women to not get drunk? Or only if they over 21 (because under 21 would be illegal). I mention this because you pointed out the hitch hiker as being different because she was doing something illegal. Therefore, if we follow laws we are safer? I am a bit confused here by that and would just like some clarification on how best to ‘educate’ here. Because I do believe it is important in general to give women SOME sort of sense of control because it can be a scary place out there. I also believe it is VITAL to simultaneously educate men about rape.
And, in your defense, to all the Kayas out there (and they are certainly the majority!) I don’t believe Alessia is asking women to not watch after themselves and their friends when they go out. Rather, she is asking that the thinking about rape…its victims and its attackers needs to change. Without that change in thinking, the act itself will undoubtedly continue.
Thanks again for this great post! For so long, I felt very alone on this issue.
I’m glad that you feel less alone :)
I’m not sure how many of my posts on this topic you’ve read here (or the comments)… It can be really confusing to follow. (Feel free to email me if you get lost in them!) Anyway, I’ll try to address your questions.
I am not implying that the hitch-hiking girl was to blame; merely stating that the comparison of her actions to Arian’s are not equal and that the hitch-hiker was in a dangerous situation due to opportunity for the rapist (being alone in a car with a stranger — which is in part why we have laws against hitch-hiking), which has nothing to do with motivating a rapist by sexual talk etc.
On the matter of drunkenness, I do believe I have, somewhere, mentioned that A) it isn’t relevant to Arian’s behaviors because her status as “drunk” or not has neither been established nor was it specifically addressed in Ward’s accusatory statement., and B) that drinking/drunkenness is a separate issue as it goes to judgment — both in terms of ability to consent and ability to ascertain safety (providing a potential rapist with opportunity). All this means that I am not discussing it in terms of Ward’s statements on the show &/or Arian’s behavior, but I do see drinking as a safety issue — including situations/issues outside of rape.
Primarily I am trying to point out that no matter how I wish it weren’t so, it’s not safe out there for women because of this thinking that women in any way control or are somehow responsible for what men (or anyone else) does. The accountability has to be the rapist’s & the rapist’s alone.
As far as empowering women, educating them with regards to their own safety, there is, as I’ve said, very little we can do but control some of the opportunities would-be rapists have — and it’s a very small fraction of the rape equation because most rape is perpetrated by someone the victim knows, which would mean that we would never ever be alone with anyone 24/7, and in that living arrangement we’d need to sleep in shifts — and dozens of other things which still would not protect us (nor provide any quality of life).
It is precisely this which strikes fear in the hearts of us all and makes us wish we could but do something… So, some of us at least, grab at straws, accept faulty thinking, pretending they are safe when they are not. Which is how we continue this mythology. And rape continues in the numbers is does and with, the blame the victim mentality, victimization continues past the original crime to guilt, un-prosecuted cases, and, when prosecuted, cases that go without justice.