Daughters, listen to your mothers!

How low can they go?  How manipulative can one’s run of the mill colleagues or acquaintances be? 

So suppose you are dealing with a problematic situation, and people are not happy, but you think you at least understand the agenda.  Maybe it’s trying to decide the fate of an important but faltering program.  Or perhaps it’s a non-academic situation; your neighborhood has to decide about some problematic  ordinance. 

But then your  perception suddenly shifts and you realize that the agenda might have been quite different.  In fact, you might have been set up to look really bad in one way or another.   You were throwing out some ideas to encourage people to brainstorm for a conclusion, but  the  intent on the very people encouraging you was to show you didn’t understand  the problem.  

It was thinking about such a situation, and thinking of the possibility that I was in one, that I also wondered whether something similar might be going on in some of those cases where a woman, seemingly out of the blue, says someone is or was trying to rape her.   Perhaps she was quite aware that he was pressuring her, but she thought it  was about negotiating the boundaries of  a relationship.  Of course, he was trying to move too fast, but it just never crossed her mind that she really did not count at all, except perhaps as providing material for boasting later on.  And then she saw just what was going on.

I hope I’m not alone in finding these cases hard to understand.  I’ve  insisted that  whenever she says “no,” her decision must be followed.   But I haven’t gotten a very good idea  of what’s gone on.

Oddly today in the nether parts of the Sea-Tac airport on the way to the APA meeting, I witnessed an exchange between a young couple with a very young daughter and a grandmotherly woman.  The young daughter was fully of lovely  smiles.  The older woman remarked, “She is going to be very lovely.  You will have to teach her to be very careful.”

There may be people one deals with who have malevolent intentions that  are outside one’s normal ken.  And perhaps that is going on in some cases of rape that are otherwise opaque to understanding.  In my case, Mr jj raised the question of my being set up.  I can well remember similar warnings from my mother about “boys”. 

Treating people as objects of fun or pleasure  is not, of course, confined to one gender.  The various forms of its manifestations may be quite surprising.

2 thoughts on “Daughters, listen to your mothers!

  1. Why is rape designated a sex crime and not GBH? Why can a lesbian say that her being raped amounts to hate crime, but a straight woman cannot? Why isn’t every rape considered in courts as being a breach of a person’s (mostly women’s) human rights, so that whether or not the rapist claims there was consent it does not change the fact that a human rights violation may have taken place and that the rapists claim (maybe even belief) that his behaviour was sexual is irrelevant? Which other crime exists where the perpetrator’s view gets to define the nature of the crime? Since when was rape ever about sex? Why should a woman who feels her attacker commited GBH and violated her human rights have to translate her experience into a sexual context for the benefit of a court jury in a culture where men hold the most powerful cards where sex is concerned? Women will never be able to stop rapes happening. Only men can. Why don’t they want to?

  2. Something similar happened to me when I was in academia. Some colleagues are not to be trusted.

    I also agree with your second point regarding false allegations.

    By the way, it is not just mothers who warn girls to be careful of boys: I have heard men issue those warnings very emphatically.

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