41 thoughts on “Anti-Rape Campaign

  1. While the possibility of men being raped is acknowledged, I did notice that it’s only ever men doing the raping in the ads. Which leads me to wonder about the preponderance of female-female and female-male (non-statutory, since I think that’s a whole other ball game) rape. I guess it’s right, since it’s evidently directed at men, and I have no doubt that most rapes are committed by men. Still, I’m left wondering.

    Also, where is the campaign being launched?

  2. Small correction: nobody in the ads has done any raping at all. What I meant is that the possibility only seems to arise for the men in the ads.

  3. Michel, I also wondered about the women-as-rapists issue, but the numbers are very small and makes sense to have a campaign directed at men.

  4. “I BACKED OFF”.

    Once that poster goes up, how many hours before enterprising graffitists decide to swap out the “B”?

  5. @Michel

    I suspect the number would be significantly more than expected when the definition of female-on-male and female-on-female rape is extended to something analogous to that of male-on-female, i.e. sex initiated on someone under the influence of drugs. In fact, it’s absolutely certain that a large number of rapes happen in that case on college campuses with significant amounts of binge drinking.

  6. I’m really not convinced about the wording on those posters. I mean its good that someone is having a go, but I cannot help think that they can be improved on.

    ‘Man can stop rape’. Well yes they *can*. But everyone knows they can. It’s whether they do or not which is the issue.

    What about: ‘Real men don’t rape’

    And at the top ‘My strength is not for hurting’. It’s a really awkward locution. And its negative where positive phrases work best in advertising – in imprinting ideas and changing self image. Furthermore, one of the ways rapist deceive themselves is by saying ‘she/he wants/will enjoy it really’. So they may not even see the act as falling under the description ‘hurting’. Besides hurting is wishy-washy, hardly an adequate description of what is going on.

    What about ‘My strength is: I don’t violate’. Not sure.
    ‘My strength is I care’. Maybe.

    Any other suggestions?

  7. I think it’s a clever strategem to use language that assumes the target audience HAS strength. It implicitly flatters: If you’re reading this,and identifying with the speaker, then you have significant upper-body strength.

  8. instead of menwomen should take care.one should avoid going out alone late night,should not wear garments which show body parts,should become brave,contact no. of police should keep with them and call immediately if doubt someone.dont try 2 intimate with strangers.

  9. tina: ‘Man can stop rape’. Well yes they *can*. But everyone knows they can. It’s whether they do or not which is the issue.

    I’m not so sure that everyone knows they can. The assumption of a lot of people seems to be that men will rape, and it’s up to women to protect themselves as best they can. See: guidance given to the public after almost any high-profile sexual assault; ravi dutta in this very thread (whose rubbish I am not bothering to rebut, assuming that regular readers already know that his statements bear no relation to reality).

  10. Does it bother anyone else that the woman in first ad is looking at the fellow like she’s changed her mind again? I worry that the message could read: “Hey, if I respect her wishes, she *will* sleep with me!”

  11. @Ravi:

    some of those suggestions are sensible but your focus seems to be that women should take the responsibility for rape…as if it is something that women themselves engender by wearing certain types of clothes or behaving affectionately with strangers. Rape isn’t a security issue…its an act of extreme violence.

  12. ravi’s suggestions are not sensible, in that they perpetuate the stereotype that rape is just something that happens when strange men jump out of the bushes while a woman walks around by herself late at night wearing very little clothing. most rape is committed by men that the woman knows, and often in the home either of the woman or the rapist. if we were to continue to put the responsibility for rape on women, then in this instance the only thing we could reasonably advise is “avoid all men.” as many women like to leave their homes and have jobs and friends, and as many of us care about men, this advise is silly.

    women by themselves cannot stop rape. that this is so difficult to understand in and of itself makes the ad campaign important, despite its imperfections.


  14. @Sk..that is more or less the point i was making. looking back on it now i don’ really know why i said some of them were good ideas…perhaps i was being a bit conciliatory…thanks for correcting me.

  15. yeah, i thought that’s what you were getting at, just nicer. but the all-caps yelling (man is satan? wow. and they say feminists hate men!) led me to feel somewhat less conciliatory, such that i entered somebody’s-wrong-on-the-internets, ‘feminism 101’ territory! not very sensible of me, really ;)

  16. Does “continuing to put the responsibility for rape on women” really encompass all admonitions to potential victims of stranger rape?

    I don’t see why a campaign aimed at discouraging people from committing crimes can’t be complemented by a campaign aimed at encouraging people to adopt (or avoid, as the case may be) certain behaviors that might impact their chances of becoming victims of crime. In fact, this is done all the time without unfairly inculpating the victims of crime, and without suggesting that people avoid human contact and lock themselves inside.

  17. Nemo…I think it might have something to do with rape taking place anywhere. Should the advice to women be avoid night clubs/bars? Victims of alcohol related violent assault are never ‘advised’ to do that. Or women should avoid walking late at night? Seems sensible enough but similarly if men avoided walking out late at night because of a risk of being mugged I’d assume people talking about the area as a ‘no go area’. Should women be told not to dress in a way that is considered sexually provocative? That seems kind of like telling someone not to get into a fight with a stranger…as if dressing provocatively were itself the initial act of hostility that ends in rape.

    Of course you can say to people be aware of where you are, what your doing and who you’re with…but the point is that it shoudn’t come down to that. It also comes down to the fact that not all sexual assaults are carried out by strangers but often by people the survivor knows and feels safe with already.

  18. SK, I agree of course that it should not come down to what steps a crime victim has taken to protect him or herself. People have a responsibility not to victimize others. An offender’s culpability for committing crimes is not in any way relieved by whether the victim took or failed to take any particular protective measure. A desire to avoid blaming crime victims, or to avoid mitigating the responsibility of perpetrators, isn’t inconsistent with taking an impartial look at factors that statistically impact incidence and victim selection for a given crime (whatever those factors might be) and considering whether they can form the basis for sensible recommendations about behaviour as a way of reducing personal risk.

    You rightly mention that rape can take place anywhere, but after all that is something that sexual assault has in common with many other violent (and nonviolent) crimes. You also mention that many sexual assaults are carried out by nonstrangers. Indeed, in the United States, that’s true of a significant majority of cases (although certain other countries’ data points the opposite way). But it turns out that a majority of violent crime *generally* (in the U.S.) is committed by nonstrangers, so it’s not a unique consideration here.

    I understand what you’re saying about no-go areas, but there are plenty of instances in which the risk to women is substantially elevated relative to the risk to men. For example, if you look at the travel advisories which the U.S. government (among others) issues from time to time for citizens traveling to certain places, it’s not uncommon to see recommendations to the effect that women should avoid walking alone after dark, should travel with a companion if possible, etc. Sometimes these warnings are directed at both women and men, other times not, but I don’t think the distinction is per se unreasonable – do you?

  19. These are really great as adverts. I am really appreciating the campaigns that have surfaced lately that put the onus on what people choose to do – that people choose to rape and that this has *nothing* to do with the circumstances of the person they rape.

    There have been a few spaces that discuss the acknowledgement of women who rape, I think that they rightly point out that women raping is a drop in the proverbial bucket, it happens – but the overwhelming experience is violence by men against women, against other men. In aiming to articulate that anyone can rape, anyone can be raped what becomes part of the background noise, and loses impact is the sheer concentration of that violence that occurs as men toward women. We don’t take in the number of it – it’s too huge.

    In that same vein is the discussion about precautions that people – women – should take so that they can avoid being victimised. Given that only 4% of rapes and sexual assaults are at the hands of strangers, that leaves a whopping 96% that occur through someone known to the victim. Someone they have some reason to expect some basic human respect from, someone that they may have felt reason to trust. 96% of rapes are committed by someone known, and often trusted, by the victim. That bears repeating. No amount of ‘safe’ behaviour can make sense of that factor. That kind of ‘safe’ behaviour only ‘protects’ you (and I question it’s ability to do that) from stranger rapes.

    The advert rightly places the onus of decision making, of choice and taking responsibility, for not raping, not on preventing rape happening to you. It places the emphasis on explicit consent and on communication – healthy skills to have in any kind of intimate relationship.

    If you further articulate that that 100% of the rapes that occur happen to 1 out of 3 or 4 women – roughly speaking. So at any given time where you’re looking at a room filled with women – a significant portion of them will have experienced or will at some time in their life experience, unwanted sexual contact, and of those only 4% of those experiences will be strangers while 96% of those attacks will be from the people who are meant to be closest to us, most trusted by us.

    I notice that in these kind of discussions the kind of understanding of how prevalent this behaviour is, and how often it’s not committed by a stranger is often forgotten. The advert is actually nailing the entire problematic culture as far as targeting that space for awareness, education and change.

  20. no problem, nemo!

    i was crafting a long rambling response, but Ju tagged in and did it better, with statistics! so thanks. Ju reminds us that this seems like a disproportionate response because the problem itself is out of proportion. maybe we could just be pragmatic about it and say that encouraging women to behave in certain ways (which most women, in my experience, have internalised in any case) hasn’t been working so well, so we should encourage men to behave in certain ways instead.

    beyond the pragmatism thing, i think that rape poses a kind of epistemological problem, because people beliefs about rape often seem not to match the statistical evidence of what rape is, and so the responses to rape don’t make much sense (that is, if the goal is stopping rape).

  21. I should point out that my use of statistics came from the reading I was doing last semester on rape culture, drawing heavily on the David Lisak study that was discussed quite heavily at the time.

  22. I kinda like the campaign.
    And Ravi, women wearing burqas still get raped. It’s up to the man to keep his little demon in his pants.

  23. I have to question the assertion that only 4% of rapes and sexual assaults occur at the hands of strangers. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) indicates that 32% occur at the hands of strangers. Even if one assumes for the sake of argument (i) that none of the 5% of cases where the victim/offender relationship could not be determined were committed by strangers, and (ii) that due to various factors potentially influencing reporting accuracy, the BJS’ 32% statistic is deceptively high, 4% still seems like an outlier among the available data sets. Have any significant studies supported a figure of *less* than 4%, or does that figure represent the extreme end of published authority on the question?

    Interestingly, BJS reports that only 27% of all forms of violent crime against female victims are committed by strangers. For example, only 23% of simple nonsexual assaults against women and 29% of aggravated nonsexual assaults against women are committed by strangers. Even robbery is more likely to be committed by someone known to the woman than by a stranger.

    (It’s worth noting that for male victims, too, violent crime of most sorts is more likely to be committed by someone known to the victim. Only robbery is the exception for male victims (61% of them were robbed by strangers).)

    Again according to BJS, in only 14% of U.S. murders are the victim and the offender strangers. Fourteen percent. I would have guessed something lower than 50% anyway, but that is astounding.

    So, back to the matter of how, and to what extent, the reality of offender/victim relationships in rapes should influence the approach society takes toward combating such crimes. That’s an interesting and worthwhile inquiry. However, it seems that in this *specific* respect, rape is not dissimilar to other serious crimes against both men and women (although especially women). Ju seems to be suggesting that rape is exceptional in this particular way and that this has ramifications for developing anti-rape campaigns.

  24. I find this add campaign interesting, and it will probably have a positive effect if anything.

    But the whole “my strength…” thing really bugs me. It’s reinforcing gender roles. Men are the “strong” ones. And if you’re not strong you’re not a “real man”. And so much other similar BS.

    I mean, I can imagine a similar campaign directed at women along the lines of “my sensitivity…” or something. It’s like, even if the over-all message being conveyed is good, it’s doing it in a way that’s contributing to other problems.

  25. That’s an interesting point Cessen. What do you think of Profbigk’s comment (#8 above) about this being a clever strategem?

    For my part, I’m not sure that it’s really about gender roles, just about the fact that a significant number of rapes (including same-sex rapes: see the ad with two men) are accomplished by the aggressor exploiting a physical advantage over the victim through the application of bodily strength/size, or a threat of same. (Of course, there are other cases where something else is going on, such as use of a weapon or some other form of physical or nonphysical intimidation, or exploiting the victim’s incapacitation.)

    If you can get it through people’s heads that it’s wrong to exploit the most basic and rudimentary power advantage over others (i.e. being physically bigger or stronger than someone else) – which most people successfully learn in childhood – it will hopefully occur to them that the principle ought to be generalized. “My strength is not for hurting” may sound like something from “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten” – but hey, whatever works. I hope this campaign does.

  26. it seems to me that the point of Ju’s comment(s) was to point out that rape is different than, for instance, simple assault. it’s not a matter of someone simply exercising a physical advantage over someone else. otherwise why wouldn’t rape then be “gender-blind”? it has everything to do with gender roles. in fact, rape, the threat of rape, the threat of not being believed when you say you were raped – these are some of the ways that gender roles are enforced. believing that women are responsible for stopping rape does not stop rape, because it perpetuates the idea that sex is something that women possess that men take, rather than an activity that people choose to do together.
    the section on the problem of emphasizing that women take precautions to prevent being raped at the feminism 101 blog might be a helpful primer (finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com).

  27. @Nemo

    Of course you’re right about no-go areas and the difference between rape and violent assault and the links to the sex inequality in their occurrences. I’m not suggesting that women shouldn’t have some kind of street smarts or that they shouldn’t be aware of where they are and who they’re with…I’m simply saying that an anti-rape campaign shouldn’t focus on these things.

    We might say that some of these things come down to common sense…but should an anti-rape campaign really be suggesting that…as if women should consider the threat of rape a normal variable in their day to day lives? The danger in focussing a campaign on women reducing the risk to themselves is that it makes rape seem like an inevitable risk…any anti-rape sentiment would then be formally the same as a kind of “look both ways before crossing the road”…as if to say,’well yes rape is terrible, but its an unfortunate reality’.

    Of course there is a need to balance these concerns with women protecting themselves but I don’t think an anti-rape campaign such as this one is the best medium for that kind of promotion.

    I could be entirely wrong…I should go on record at this point as being a man, so I’m willing to concede that I don’t have the best grasp of these experiences and concerns.

  28. But sk, no one denied that rape is different than simple assault. They just don’t appear to differ greatly in the particular way that Ju was emphasizing(i.e. on the basis of the proportion of offenses committed by nonstrangers).

    Nor did anyone suggest that rape was a matter of someone simply exercising a physical advantage over someone else – just that this element is present, not coincidentally, in a great many rapes and that the ad campaign appears calculated to address this reality.

    Unfortunately, the section of the feminism 101blog on the purported problem of emphasizing that women take precautions to prevent being raped is not too enlightening. For example, it gives as the “short” answer: “Because it puts the onus on women not to get themselves raped, rather than on men not to do the raping; in short, it blames the victim.” One of my earlier posts identifies the problems with that statement (before I’d even read it). First, encouraging people to take relevant precautions to reduce the risk of becoming a crime victim is not “blaming the victim” – at least it need not, and in many contexts obviously does not, involve such blame. Second, on what ground rests the assertion that encouraging behaviours likely to reduce the chances of victimization “shifts an onus” from potential offenders to potential victims? There is a very heavy onus on people not to commit rape and other serious crimes, and it is not relieved in the least by encouraging the public to take sensible precautions.

    It seems to me that any anti-crime campaign addressed to potential victims runs afoul of the same charge. Yet obviously, deterring and reducing the incidence of crime can be, and in countless instances is, pursued through complementary strategies – the strategy aimed at potential victims is not “wrong” simply because it’s not the same strategy as one aimed at potential offenders (which is generally the focus, for example, of deterrence through criminal sanctions).

    The F101 section on “Why precautions don’t work” contains some dubious reasoning. One author appears to conclude, from the fact that rapes actually do occur, that precautions have no impact.

  29. nemo: fair enough, though i think that you were conflating a bit the question of incidence of stranger rape and the equivalence or comparability to rape as such and assault (or other crimes, such that a more “balanced” approach to prevention would be effective). also, yeah, my bad; it seems the feminism 101 blog in and of itself is not the answer-all it perhaps ought to be (but some of the links are indeed awesome). nonetheless, a few points:

    1) encouraging behaviours likely to reduce the chances of victimization presumes that certain behaviours are more likely to expose one to the risk of rape than others. however, most of the behaviours encouraged are much like those expressed by ravi dutta above. encouraging these kinds of behaviours does not protect women from the vast majority of rape, which is perpetrated by those close to the victim. in light of this, it would be most sensible simply to encourage women to stay away from men. this, however (outside of some exceptional contexts; radical lesbian separatism is such a response), is absurd.

    2) in my experience many women have internalized the kinds of behaviours often encouraged. life in public is then a constant negotiation between policing one’s behaviour and expression so as not to draw unwanted attention (and often blaming oneself when these strategies fail, as they inevitably do – check out hollaback.com for some instructive narratives about this dynamic) and going about the general business of one’s day as a normal human agent. this usually serves less to protect women from rape (as again, more rape occurs in private and is perpetrated by men known to the victim) than it does to mark women out as *not a normal human agent.* so it’s not as if there is a neutral impact.

    3) if there were actually such a heavy onus on people not to commit rape, probably conviction rates would be higher. however, women are often not believed when they report rape, precisely because it is seen as their responsibility to prevent rape, as the guardians of sex, which they passively possess and which men actively take. therefore, if they fail to prevent rape, then they must have done something…

    4) it would be super, then, if rape were like any other crime and therefore that campaigns on either side of the crime, so to speak, were adequate. however, it is precisely because of the *rarity* of an anti-rape campaign putting some responsibility on men not to rape that this entire thread exists. my apologies if this particular feminist then comes off as a bit pedantic (despite her seeming inability to resist!).

  30. SK, I agree that the behavioural encouragement presumes that certain behaviours are more likely to expose one to the risk of rape than others. I see nothing implausible about that presumption, though. I also agree that certain behavioural recommendations will not protect women from the most common rape scenarios (nonstranger rape). But I don’t think that means the recommendations are somehow bad or wrong. One could say the same thing about any risk-reducing behavioural change: the particular risks it is calculated to reduce are greatly outnumbered by risks it is not calculated to reduce. After all, risks of harm from other human agents are but a small subset of all risks in our lives; crime risks are but a subset of that subset; violent crime risks are but a subset of that one; rape risks but a subset of that; and risk of stranger rape a subset of that. The unfortunate limitations of specific risk-reduction strategies do not, to my mind, constitute a fatal defect.

    Accordingly, I don’t think it is a particularly forceful indictment of any risk-reduction strategy to point out that there remain many risks which it does not address. Almost all victim-focused strategies to reduce risk of crime, particularly violent crime, are geared toward unknown-offender scenarios, even though many of those crimes are more likely to be committed by nonstrangers (especially against women victims), from murder to assault to robbery and no doubt others as well. Is most crime prevention advice, then, fatally flawed?

    There’s another reason one can’t infer the ineffectiveness of stranger-rape-oriented behavioural strategies just on the basis of the the disproportionate number of nonstranger rapes. Let’s imagine for a moment – its’s just hypothetical – that such strategies are actually effective at reducing risk of stranger rape and are in fact being pretty widely used. It seems to me that that would give a substantial upward lift to the relative percentage of nonstranger rapes. In such a case, someone employing the F101 blog’s reasoning could easily misinterpret evidence of the *effectiveness* of the strategy as further evidence of its *ineffectiveness*.

    You suggest that the reasoning behind behavioral-adjustment strategy must lead one to the absurd conclusion that women should simply be encouraged to avoid men entirely. But it doesn’t really; that would only be the case for an unrealistically and absolutely single-minded pursuit of the goal of reducing the particular risk. Endorsing certain crime risk-reduction strategies doesn’t require one to sign up for a compulsory exercise in monomania, after all. True, completely avoiding men might lower women’s rape risk to virtually zero. Completely avoiding cars and roads would have a similar effect on people’s risk of fatal car accidents. Yet attempts to reduce the risk of rape (or of highway deaths) don’t take place in a vacuum where there are no other considerations of individual and collective welfare which also are being taken into account in making prudent recommendations and policies.

    A discussion of the highly controversial topic of rape conviction rates, which you mention in your post, may be opening a can of worms. But there seems to me to me that there are a number of intermediate steps between looking at a “conviction rate” and inferring, as you have, that there is not a heavy onus on people not to commit a particular crime. Those steps might include determining what the conviction rate is, how it is calculated, how it compares to rates for other offenses calculated on the same basis, what an “appropriate” conviction rate is, and so forth. By some reckonings, the conviction rate for terrorist offenses in the UK is only one-sixth what it is in the United States. Does that mean that there is not a heavy onus on people not to commit terrorist acts in the UK? Criminal conviction rates in China approach 100%, but ultra-high conviction rates are often viewed as indications that people are not being tried fairly, which can actually reduce the deterrent effect of the law (because the link between punishment and actual guilt is weakened). You mention that women are often not believed when they report rape, which is no doubt the case, but you go on to say that this is “precisely because it is seen as their responsibility to prevent rape”, which explanation seems on shakier ground.

    (By the way, it’s worth distinguishing “onus” in the general sense we’re using it from the “onus probandi” which properly rests on the prosecution in every criminal case.)

    With regard to the term “campaigns”, I wasn’t referring to advertising campaigns specifically but more to a society’s effort to combat a social ill. Thus, the laws relating to rape and the entire related enforcement mechanism are an anti-rape campaign (or part of one), and one which is clearly putting responsibility on men not to rape. So I wouldn’t call perpetrator-oriented anti-rape messages a rarity; they are fundamentally ingrained in the system – and unlike advertising slogans and public service messages to women about reducing risks of certain rape scenarios, the perpetrator-oriented messages come in the form of serious legal obligations rather than just potentially beneficial recommendations.

  31. Actually I think the short response about behaviours that prevent rape is entirely accurate. It’s short so there’s no confusion. The behaviour of an individual who is subjected to sexual victimisation is not in question. The behaviour of the individual who chooses to rape, sexually assault and victimise someone is in question. The message that the blog and the advert carry is simple: Make the choice as an individual to not rape. Stop making it about anything other than someone making a choice to fuck someone’s life up. It’s not like they ‘slipped and fell’ – they made a choice to do it, they could have chosen not to. The point of this and similar campaigns is to shift the focus back onto those who would cause the harm.

    Also, the law is no deterrent. There is harsher penalties for basic theft and fraud that are more regularly handed out than penalties for sexual assault or rape.

    Consider also that the legal system re-victimises individuals by making them prove that they did not consent – consent until proven otherwise. Guys I’ve spoken to come to understand the weight of that as an experience when the question is posed to them in turn: Prove you had consent.

  32. Ju, you assert that “the short response about behaviours that prevent rape is entirely accurate.”

    To recap, the short response you’re referring to was: “Because it puts the onus on women not to get themselves raped, rather than on men not to do the raping; in short, it blames the victim.” (The question which it purports to answer was “What’s wrong with suggesting that women take precautions to prevent being raped?”).

    I pointed out a couple of apparent problems with that answer, and you don’t seem to have resolved these, so I still can’t concur with you that the response is “entirely accurate”.

    You say: “The behaviour of an individual who is subjected to sexual victimisation is not in question.” I’m not sure what you mean by “in question”, but I can agree that it at least means that no one is suggesting that the behavior is a culpable factor in the occurrence of the rape. However, that doesn’t, strictly speaking, have anything to do with what I was saying.

    Here’s a question we keep turning around: Does the behavior of victims (or potential victims) actually have any impact on the likelihood of becoming a victim? This has nothing to do with judgments of fault or culpability of the victim, and is completely consistent with a policy of holding the perpetrator 100% at fault.

    This question is basically noncontroversal in almost any other criminal context apart from rape. In the rape context, the mere idea that the question exists, that it might have an objective answer, that the answer is almost certainly yes, and that this information could be used as a tool to reduce rape to some degree, all apparently makes some people very uncomfortable (needlessly, in my view). That discomfort is a problem in itself, I think, for the reason (among others) that it could conceivably hamper the success of certain initiatives which might reduce the incidence of rape.

    Next, you state that “the law is no deterrent.” Really? None? Ju, I doubt whether absolute, blanket generalizations like that actually serve any good purpose in a discussion. Any listener of ordinary experience will note that, just on its face, it is profoundly unlikely to be anything other than an exaggeration. Moreover, none of the statements you follow it up actually establish that it’s true.

    While the literature is equivocal on the exact magnitude of the deterrent effect of rape laws, I think you’ll find a severe dearth of literature concluding that legal sanctions (at least in the United States) have no deterrent effect. Indeed, with regard to “specific deterrence” (that is, deterrence of individuals who have already been punished), the data supports the idea that legal sanctions for rape have a significant deterrent effect, as suggested by the relatively low rape recidivism rate for all but a small core of deviant sexual offenders. “General deterrence” (that is, deterrence among the general populace who have never committed rape) is much harder to measure, but there’s no basis for asserting that the general deterrence value is nil. Rapes occur, so we can all agree that they are not being deterred as much as we want – is it really necessary or helpful to just make stuff up?

  33. @Nemo, you said, “Does the behavior of victims (or potential victims) actually have any impact on the likelihood of becoming a victim?” The answer to that is, sure.

    There’s loads of evidence supporting the idea that victims of sexual assault are frequently revictimized, for lots of reasons: self-medicating with drugs and alcohol to deal with their depression and PTSD post-assault, low self-esteem, depression or heightened “fright or flight” responses that make it difficult to successfully gauge dangerous situations, and an appearance of vulnerability that may make them more appealing to predators (citations for the above: Testa, Hoffman, Livingston 2010; Munro, Kibler, Ma 2010; O’leary, Jemmott, Jemmott 2008; Yeater & Treat 2010). There’s also evidence that victims of childhood abuse and assault are more likely to be sexually assaulted later in life as well (Testa, Hoffman, Livingston 2010; Wilsom & Widom 2008).

    BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT. The question here is not “What can women do to affect their likelihood of being raped?” That question has been asked over and over again by agencies, governments, individual people, and so on. This campaign is ONLY trying to deal with the idea of men having personal autonomy and the option of choice not to rape. It has nothing to do with presenting some arbitrarily-defined, bipartisan “fair” point of view; it’s just dealing with one aspect of the problem, and frankly, doesn’t HAVE to deal with anything else. This campaign never claimed to be doing anything but asking men to make the choice not to rape, if they’re presented with the option and so-inclined.

    Also, Nemo, the law (Australian law, where both Ju and I are located, although I realize you have an American-centric view of the situation) is more of a deterrant to reporting by victims than rapists: while studies show that about 20% of Australian women have experienced coercive sex at some point in their lives, 15% or less report these assaults to the police (McLennan 1996; Cook, David and Grant 2001; de Visser et al. 2003; Lievore 2003).

    Charges and convictions in all English-Speaking countries have actually DECREASED over the last 10-20 years; in New South Wales, only 10% of the sexual assault cases REPORTED resulted in convictions in 1996-1997 (Lees 1996; Spohn and Horney 1996; Schissel 1996; Cook 1999; Stop Rape Now 2004; VLRC 2004; Cook et al. 2001).

    What are you basing your recidivism data on? Recurring convictions of sex offenders or self-reporting? Most offenders do not self-report recidivist sexual assaults post-incarceration, for obvious reasons. And most of the data seems to indicate that people likely to commit sexually violent crimes are also likely to commit other crimes (49.7% of those jailed for sexual assault are arrested for another crime within 7 years, Greenberg et al., 2002).

    So mostly what we have are a bunch of chronically underreported crimes, with a legal system that revictimizes and deters complainants from prosecuting in the first place, only a moderate conviction rate, and a pretty high risk of recidivist behavior. Um…so, a “significant deterrent effect”? Not bloody likely. When the prevailing attitude is “just rape her, nobody will listen to her anyway”, perhaps investigating alternative campaigns, promoting the idea that it’s about time for MEN to make some choices, is a pretty viable solution.

  34. @Claire,
    No one has disputed that the campaign is only trying to ask men to make the choice not to rape. There seems to me nothing wrong with this kind of alternative campaign, and I haven’t criticize the campaign on this or (so far as I recall) any other basis. Are you reading the same thread? Interestingly, one of your defenses of the campaign (which, again, are misdirected to me) is substantially the same as one I raised when campaigns directed at potential victims were attacked earlier in the thread – namely, that a campaign is not defective or wrong simply because it is focused only on one aspect of something.

    You assert that what, if anything, women can do (or that they should be encouraged to do) to affect their likelihood of being raped “is not what we’re talking about” (lowercase mine). I beg to differ; it is one of the things we’re talking about. It’s an issue that was raised directly or indirectly in posts by dronemodule, sk and others (at least as I read it), and I’ve only mentioned it at all in the context of questioning certain express or implied assertions on the subject by others. Of course you’re correct that this is not what the ad campaign is aimed at, and I think we understand that and agree that it’s perfectly appropriate.

    You asked whether “my” recidivism data was based on self-reporting. As you may be aware, self-reporting is rarely used in this area, and almost never as a sole method. Recidivism data is typically based on other methods. For example, Hanson and Bussiere’s 2004 update of their landmark 1998 meta-study on sex offense recidivism found that out of 95 studies the most common sources of recidivism information were national (50) and state/provincial (39) criminal justice records, treatment program records (21), and “other sources” (e.g. child protection records, parole files) (21). Many (36) of the studies used multiple sources. Only 14 studies used self-reporting at all, and only 2 of those relied exclusively on self-reporting.

    The 2004 updated meta-study is consistent with Hanson & Buissiere 1998, as well as Langan et al (2003), etc.: the recidivism rate of sex offenders is lower than that for other kinds of offenders. (Recidivism rates among sex offenders were observed to be highest for people with identifiable interests in deviant sexual activities; this effect appeared strongest for sexual interest in children and for general paraphilias such as exhibitionism, voyeurism and cross-dressing.)

    Most of these studies acknowledge that the low recidivism rate may be impacted to some degree by differences in conviction rates between sexual and non-sexual offenses, but the data are suggestive of a significant special deterrence effect nonetheless. It is, of course, in the context of specific, or special, deterrence (deterrence after a prior conviction and punishment) that I mentioned a significant effect. Special deterrence is predictably stronger than general deterrence in sex offenses (as in all offenses). It’s likely that this is partly reflects the fact that conviction and incarceration rates, as well as sentence severity, are much higher for a sexual assault suspect or defendant who has a previous sexual assault conviction than for a first-timer.

    You cite what you take to be a high non-offense-specific re-arrest (i.e. re-arrest for any crime) among convicted sexual assaulters, but the rate is actually lower than for arrestees in almost all other categories (Sample & Bray 2006). And, as you may already have gathered, *offense-specific* re-arrest rates for sexual assault/rape tend to be among the lowest of all offender groups (Langan & Levin 2002; Sample & Bray 2006).

    At any rate, I believe the data is consistent with my earlier observations and do not support Ju’s assertion that sexual assault laws have no deterrent effect.

  35. Hi Nemo

    That’s interesting data. It might be worth adding that prison is especially unpleasant for sex offenders: they are generally held in contempt by other prisoners and in danger of being beaten up by them. Thus sex offenders will be especially reluctant to return to prison. So prison will have a greater deterrent effect for them, which may be one factor contributing towards the lower re-offending rate.

  36. I think Tina’s ‘Real men don’t rape’ slogan could be quite harmful, as it seems to play into rape denial – e.g. I know that Fred is a real man, so he couldn’t have raped anyone and they must be lying.

    Or as ‘I know I’m a real man, what I do isn’t rape’.

    It’s a variation of ‘no true scotsman’.

Comments are closed.