Four Weird Steps for Reducing Sexual Assault and Other Creepy Sexually Aggressive Behaviors

It isn’t quite fair to say that there has been an epidemic of sexual harassment of late. The harassment and worse of women has been going on for a long long time. Perhaps it is better characterized as an epidemic of accusation, which is long over due.

AlFrankenPoses4PixPicNo matter how you feel about the accusations and the effects they have had on the accused men’s lives, we can all agree that women should be free from sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual violence, and sexual predation in all of its forms, right? I mean, no one should have their ass grabbed simply for posing for a photo with a celebrity unless the celebrity has a sign around her neck saying Will pose for photos for a palm-full of your ass! Then, maybe its okay. I mean, no one is surprised when the celebrity reaches behind them and grabs their ass then, right?

The other thing that is sure to be clear to everyone now is that the problem is pretty darn widespread. I mean there are a lot of men out there grabbing a lot of women’s asses and worse, amirite? I don’t think we can say that it is a vast minority of men who are committing these offenses. There are simply too many women who have been victimized.

Rape Culture, Harvey Weinstein
Rape Culture: 3 Thought Experiments

It is also very very clear that it is not limited to very powerful men abusing their positions of power and celebrity, either. Clearly, every man has power over a woman somewhere in his life.

The question of what can be done about it post-offense is a complex and very difficult question to answer. Part of the answer is that we should not be covering the incidence up in order to protect a man’s career, life, or reputation because he has a family. We should be erring on the side of protecting the victim’s emotional and psychological health, her career, life, or reputation.

Preventing Sexual Assault

But, surprisingly, the question of how to prevent such aggression and attack is much easier and much more interesting to address. According to real science, there are seemingly more effective ways to prevent sexual assault… at least on college campuses.

Young women on college campuses, if reported incidents are to be believed, have a 20 to 25% chance of being sexually assaulted during their undergraduate studies and a 50% chance during their lifetimes (whoa if true). The perpetrators are usually known to them. Obviously, it is bad to be sexually assaulted, amirite? Women who’ve been sexually assaulted are more likely to suffer from depression, alcohol abuse, intrusive traumatic memories, and other health problems. So, preventing sexual assault would seem to be a good thing.

Don’t Get Raped & Rape Myths

Don'tRapeThere is great logical sense in reducing , Don’t get raped to Don’t rape, but believe it or not, many men don’t quite get what rape is. And, many men, again hold on to your asses, don’t think they’re capable under any circumstances of committing rape. And, still more men (and women) believe the  many myths about rape that are out there. Test yourself! Can you tell which of the following is a rape myth and which is not? Please feel free to discuss in the comments:

  • Rape only happens to attractive women.
  • Rape only occurs outside and at night.
  • Many women have rape fantasies.
  • Rapists are criminal types… not normal men.
  • If the assailant, victim, or both are drunk, then the assailant can’t be charged.
  • Women frequently cry rape; false report of rape is common.
  • A person who has really been assaulted would be hysterical.

If you guessed, All of them, Katie! give yourself a cigar — EW! Not a Bill Clinton cigar! That’s nasty! These and many many more myths are floating around out there. Just listen to the news coverage of the and you’ll hear these and more myths reported without them ever being challenged by the reporter when it is said, the publisher when it is published, or at any time. The lack of factual reporting perpetuates these myths.

Male Over Interpretation of Female Sexual Interest

FratParty
Motivations of Sexual Assault

It is entirely possible for a man to have forced himself on a woman without him realizing that he has actually committed a sexual assault. However, it is more likely that he knows, has done it in the past, and will do it in the future. This notion isn’t entirely without scientific support. Men frequently read too much into the friendliness of women. This tendency is so bad and occurs so often, that men have been documented as categorizing every possible female behavior as an indication of sexual interest (flirt2). Every. Possible. Female. Behavior. Every. Behavior. Let that sink in for a moment. Perhaps reflect on your own experience with this aspect of our intersex relationships and report to us in the comments.

It’s the old, She smiled at me, so she must want to fuck me, response that we see so often in movies, TV shows, and advertising, and hear in song lyrics.

So, what’s a girl to do if even appearing in public in a hoodie, sweats, and headphones with the music turned up so loud it can be heard on the next block is interpreted as sexual interest?

Sexual Assault Resistance Education

Part of the answer is in the Sexual Assault Resistance Education (SARE) program. It is a four part training for women to help them assess their situation, acknowledge that it is happening, act to protect themselves, and integrate the information into their sexuality and relationships. It sounds pretty nifty.

The assess training session helped the young women determine their risk of being sexually assaulted by male acquaintances — Yes you read that right, male acquaintances. It is hard to accept, but most of these women would be assaulted by someone they knew and probably had some amount of trust in — and then use some problem-solving to reduce the advantage the assaulter might have.

PoppyBush
ALL MEN Poster Boy

The acknowledge unit helped the women accept that the men they knew would actually sexually assault them more quickly than they would otherwise. To me, this is probably the most important part of the whole thing. When Al Franken grabbed those women’s asses and Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer were showing those women their dicks and the Moorelester was forcing that teenager’s head onto his dick, the victims all reacted in the same way: disbelief. They had that moment of Wait! Is this really happening? Is he doing what I think he just did? That moment was a crucial one giving the attacker a huge advantage over them. This portion of the training was described as overcoming emotional barriers to resisting the unwanted sexual advances of men who were known to them. Cute, huh?

The act portion of the training gave the women useful and practical resistance options from fighting using Wen Do to finding escape routes. Wen Do is a self-defense method popular among sexual assault prevention programs because it focuses on fighting opponents that are larger than the target.

The last unit, sexuality and relationships offered information on sex acts other than the typical sexual intercourse positions that we all know and love, safer sex practices, which we should all know and love, methods for exploring sexual interests, values, and attitudes with a partner, you know, talking about IT.

Surprising Rape Statistics

Some of the surprising findings — at least they surprised me:

  • Approximately 23% of the participants (about 200 of 900) reported that they had been raped.
  • 27% reported having had rape attempted on them (about 250 out of 900)
  • 22% had experienced coercion of some kind, and 30% had attempts at coercion made upon them.
  • And a whooping 50% had unsolicited and unwanted sexual contact made with them.
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30 Stats of Rape

A full 450 of these women had someone grab them, touch touch them, kiss them or whatever. That’s a lot of women. I’m sure that there was overlap between the groups, but this is on a college campus. Where there are campus police, people to walk you home from the library, friends and acquaintances at parties, and awareness and prevention programs in place. You know, it seems to me that from a woman’s point of view, it is a war zone. You never know what’s going to happen to you when you leave your home for the day. I can’t imagine living that way.

Success & Still Feeling Queasy

Slutwalk London 2011 - 06
Confronting Rape Culture

The success of preventing sexual assault hinged on two things. First, that women recognize that every man was a potential rapist and to be aware of how what he was doing might lead to sexual assault! And, the other was to set him straight early in the process! As soon as the situation started to get rapey, you had to let him know that it wasn’t going to happen.

Men really can’t tell the difference between a come hither look and a I’m going over there look. Everything looks like sex to them. So, as soon as the female side of the equation realizes it, she’s got to remove all doubt from his pointy little head… and his big head, too. Nip it in the bud, so to speak.

The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and in this case, that pudding has some statistical lumps floating in it! Of the 451 women who completed the training, only 5.2% of them were raped during the following year! That’s only 23 women! How do we know that is a significant improvement? Because 9.8% of the women who were in the control group (they got rape prevention pamphlets) were raped in that year, and that’s 42 women! So, in total out of 893 women, 48 of ’em were raped! That’s just under over 5%! Success!

But, wait, there’s even more winning with this study! So much winning you’ll be queasy by the end of this post! Only 3.4% of  the experimental group or 15 flesh and blood women experienced a rapist attempting to rape them while 9.3% of the pamphlet readers or 40 real traumatized and hurt women experienced attempted rape.

While incidence of coercion were lower for those women who were in the experimental group, it was not statistically significant, so at least all of the women got to experience some level of coercive sexual behavior. What’s a day without having some male acquaintance yell at you for not having sex with him?

Probably this is apropos of nothing, but the women in the experimental group also experienced fewer incidents of non-consensual sexual contact and attempted coercion. Apparently if your asshole male acquaintance is determined enough to coerce you into having sex, no amount of sizing him up, accepting it, Wen Do, or exit strategies is going to stop him. If he’s a little less determined, you have a chance, though.

Buck up women! There is hope yet. You too can take some specialized training and reduce your chances of being raped, attempted raped, attempted coerced, and non-consensual sexually contacted by a male acquaintance!

8 comments

  1. There is a connection between this observation; “Men frequently read too much into the friendliness of women.” and the demands and (from childhood) training of girls and women to behave in a friendly manner, such as being told they must smile a lot.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Here’s a recipe: Create as a model of masculinity an absolute, omnipotent, boss of everything, immune to consequences, unaccountable ruler of the universe. Nobody, no mortal man can live up to that ideal. We all fall short if we buy into it, set up to fail. That is the insecurity that drives that need.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wow! I hadn’t ever thought of it like that. But, it sounds like the fear, anxiety, and insecurity that is driving a lot of us, especially him that is squatting in the Oval Office.

        Huzzah!
        Jack

        Liked by 1 person

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