Mar 14 2013

Rape prevention gun debate: as usual, it’s not about women, it’s about preserving the status quo

Begging your pardon, but this morning it is necessary to link to Fox News.

It is not often that my delicately balanced obstreperal lobe will tolerate more than a few milligrams of Fox’s unsophisticated, hostile, and overwrought discharges. In fact, in order to regain cable news harmony within my lobe, today I will require a few minutes with the only TV peenpundit who makes me smile instead of puke, Reverend Al. Why do I put myself through this? Because the aforelinked video concerns a topic over which the village crones of Savage Death Island have been known to brood at no small length. I allude to the apparently batshit-ludicrous idea that the best way to prevent violence against women is for men to not do violence against women.

Let me rephrase that with an excerpt from the Ancient Scrolls, in case I was too long-winded just now: Wanna stop rape? Don’t rape!

Details in a moment. First I’ll describe the video.

It contains an exchange between Democratic thinker-lady Zerlina Maxwell, some antifeminist Stepford wife with severe Stockholm syndrome, and heat-packin’ gasbag Sean Hannity. You don’t watch Fox News (duh), so no doubt you’re unfamiliar with Sean Hannity. If you picture a pinkish little penis with a pinkish little penis-face who shouts at everybody but listens to no one, that’s the guy. Little pink Hannity is always worked up. In today’s video (from a broadcast last week) he’s worked up about a Colorado gun bill that would ban conceal-carry on college campuses.

Here’s the backstory. HB 1226, the Colorado bill in question, is in committee. The senate hears from an emotional college rape survivor who argues that if she’d had a gun, she could have prevented her attack. State Senator Evie Hudak (D) claps a hand to her throat and sighs melodramatically to convey compassion, thanks the student in a sympathetic maternal tone for sharing her “unsettling” story, and breaks right into the old “statistics are not on your side” argument (a valid argument, but not the subject of today’s post).

You see what’s happening here? This young rape survivor, as well as the issue of campus rape, and by extension the whole of violence against women in general, are being kicked into the tired old political football role. Violence against women becomes a hapless pawn in the apparently more politically interesting but vastly less morally exigent issue of gun control. On exhibit is an actual rape victim who argues the NRA position: that she wouldn’t be a victim at all if she’d been allowed to carry a gun. Young, female, brave-yet-vulnerable, her voice wavering, she is a poignant figure. Contradicting this tragic young woman is a pro-gun-control state senator, who, let’s face it, is gonna look like an insensitive bully no matter how pseudo-maternal her manner or what the gun violence statistics say. The grilling of rape victims for political purposes is just plain distasteful. Even a spinster aunt who grasps Sen. Evie Hudak’s point must think to herself, “crikey, what an asshole.”

So when Hannity plays the clip of Hudak handing it to the college student, he announces that Hudak’s gun statistics have been “debunked” (although by whom, and to what degree they should be adjusted, he does not say), and informs the panel that he is “angered.” He wants women to be able to protect themselves. With guns. According to Hannity and the 2nd Amendment extremist cowboys who are suddenly so deeply concerned about women’s welfare, women need guns to protect themselves from rapists, therefore gun-control legislation is pro-rape. Guns supposedly even things out between weak, vulnerable females and strong, virile rapists. Who, Hannity wants to know, could possibly argue with that?

Why, his panelist Zerlina Maxwell, that’s who.

Maxwell and the Spinster Aunt Coalition are two hearts that beat as one on this subject. She argues (and I paraphrase) that this conceal-carry argument is a red herring. By putting the onus on women to solve the problem of rape, she says, it fails to address the actual cause of rape. Which is men. Training men not to rape women, avers Maxwell, is the answer.

Remember the ancient scrolls: Wanna stop rape? Don’t rape!

This simple, elegant solution is so antithetical to the human world order that it is commonly judged to be loony. Hannity, like all misogynists, doesn’t even seem to hear Maxwell. An African-American woman is talking, so all he hears is “blahblahblah, some bizarre shit about women not being responsible for rape, blahblahblah.” Teach men not to rape women? Ridiculous! Impossible! Inconsistent with the Judeo-Christian view of the cosmos wherein men are good and women are debased humans who corrupt them to evil! Evil exists, Hannity says, plain and simple; it’s out of men’s hands! The implicit corollary of his thesis is that, because men clearly can’t do jack shit about it, it must fall upon women to deflect evil. Thus does Hannity, aided by his antifeminist Stepford minion, shout Maxwell down.

It is apparently lost on Hannity that, in shouting down Maxwell, herself a rape victim with relevant opinions, he’s doing precisely what Senator Hudak did (though she managed to do it without shouting) to the college student, which so offended his noble woman-protecting instincts.

It turns out that this feigned interest in “protecting women” isn’t really about gun control at all. It’s about protecting the dudely prerogative at all costs. The dudely prerogative hinges on a narrative that goes a little something like this: evil rapists are masked villains who are clearly identifiable by greasy hair, beady eyes, and their universal habit of lurking in shadows (or they’re black dudes). They are not the regular college fellows you meet at parties who believe that, by a) having a beer with them and b) not brandishing a flamethrower, you a) consent to surrender your personal sovereignty and b) agree with DudeNation’s premise that you are a toilet. Such college dudes are merely following — forcibly, as is their right — the Global Accords Governing Fair Use of Women. For there it is written that abuse is consistent with the basic function of women.

So if it’s rape you want to prevent, screw the gun laws; it’s the Global Accords that need changing. The low status of women in the dominant culture prevents men from not raping them. Train men not to rape? Hell yeah. Better yet, as Tara Murtha opines at RH Reality Check, teach them what rape is, because apparently they don’t even know that much. Even better still, explain to them that women are human beings, not toilets, give them a pop quiz on it which if they fail will cause them to forfeit their nuts, just to make sure they comprehend, and go from there. Gun laws aren’t gonna do jack shit.

Needless to say, Maxwell was flamed like a tiki kebab for daring to suggest that men should be socialized to view women as human beings.

Oh, and before you go all gun-control on my ass: that’s not the topic of the post! The topic of the post is how, by using rape as focus in the gun control debate, the public discourse ain’t doin women no favors.

This article was inspired by the aforelinked essay “Why Zerlina Maxwell Is Almost Right About Teaching Men Not to Rape” by Tara Murtha.


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  1. J

    Not to mention I’m sure these wing nuts would LOVE for rape victims to shoot rapists – after all that would be just another way they can incriminate rape victims instead of rapists. “Your honor, not only was she asking for it but we’d also like to send her to prison for shooting our defendant in the testicles!” Let the victim-blaming continue! Good grief…

  2. Edith

    I couldn’t get past the whole, “if women CHOOSE to defend themselves, and be like, you know, proactive about PROTECTING themselves from inevitable rape, then that should be their right. If you want to be an idiot, and go around unarmed and defenseless, then you can choose to fight off your attacker by urinating on them or blowing the hell out of your rape whistle, but don’t come crying to us later because you were too stupid not to carry a gun.”

    Not so roughly paraphrased, imho.

  3. Falkland

    Guns for women to prevent sexual assault, eh? Does fuckbrain Hannity realize it’d be husbands, fathers, cousins and friends who do this shit?

  4. sjaustin

    I don’t understand if these “women should carry guns to prevent rape” dumbshits don’t realize that most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows and trusts, or if they really think we should trust no one and have a gun handy with trigger finger ready at all times.

  5. ew_nc

    Yeah, and the minute a rapist gets shot by a woman who hasn’t had the foresight to film the rape before a panel of witnesses, she’ll be slapped by a murder charge so fast it’ll make Hannity’s pink-penis face spin. And then victim blaming goes to an even higher level.

    Fuck Hannity, and fuck Fox “News”.

  6. Passerine

    There is NO WAY a woman could blow some rapist’s head off and not expect to be locked up for life herself. I guess that’s supposed to be worth it?

  7. Bushfire

    *claps* Brava!

  8. chris

    See now if I had only been allowed to carry a gun at 8, my stepfather wouldn’t have been able to molest me. But really I had access to knives so it’s probably still my fault. Damn me and my sexy 8 year old ness.

    On a less angry note, I have a son and I can’t impact all men but I can surely impact him. What can I say or do to help him get it? We share household tasks, we have open discussions about sex roles, privilege and women forced to dress and behave a certain way to get along, equal pay…And everyone in our house gets a heavy math and science education and we have talked about sexuality and the responsibility(physically and emotionally) that comes with being sexually active, what else can I do to socialize him as best as possible to exist in the current framework but be a good and supportive partner?

    I have thought about sex talks and I want to say to him that sex is different for a woman and that a woman will say yes because she feels like she should or its expected or its her only way to ‘thank’ you for being an okay guy, and that as a dud you have to really make sure you are tuned in to what a woman really wants–but I think this is some of my stuff and doesn’t feel quite right? Gah! Any advice?

  9. J

    With the rape conviction rates being what they are, why why why do they think juries are likely to accept “I thought he was about to rape me” as a good defense against homicide charges?

  10. Margaret

    Exhibit A in the nonsense belief that women have a right to defend themselves, may I present the Florida woman sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot to scare off her abusive husband? Exhibits B through Z are women imprisoned for life for making the mistake of believing that self defense laws apply to them.

  11. Twisty

    Excellent blaming, y’all. Getting dickhead politicians to change rape laws, and getting DAs to prosecute rapists? Forget it. But here’s your list of totally ineffective rape prevention techniques! Sucks to be you!

  12. TwissB

    Excellent blaming indeed.
    Back to reality of gunsi in the hands of good guys, For example, yesterday’s long New York Times report on the troubled life of a famed distance runner who had on hand the usual household guns – pump-action rifle, pistol, etc. – which he used to threaten and finally shoot dead his third ex-wife. All who knew him at work and in the neighborhood agreed that he was a nice guy, kind to dogs, who “just snapped.” When was the last time you read about a woman victim of MVAW who “just snapped” and shot the perp?

  13. puncturedbicycle

    My sister was armed at the age of twelve, when my NRA-card-carrying father – who was also her molester – taught her to shoot. And she considered shooting him, but it turns out that no one wants the option of either being sexually assaulted or being a killer. Those aren’t great choices. Whereas choosing to not rape someone doesn’t really cost you anything except your inflated sense of self-importance.

  14. Jessie

    I love this blog. I was thinking about this topic recently and admit I have a very hard time believing that dudely gun fetishists actually care about violence against women. You don’t really see too many of them actually trying to address the root causes of violence against women.

    A lot of gun fetishists also go right to the victim blaming upon hearing that a woman has been assaulted or raped. “Well, she should have had a gun!” they like to say.

    My thoughts are that when someone hears about a rape, and his thoughts start with, “well, she should have…” then he is victim blaming and needs to shut the fuck up.

    I don’t think that I (or anyone else) should have to carry a loaded gun in my hand at all times if I want to avoid being assaulted and then blamed for my own assault.

  15. Janeen

    @chris, sounds like you are on the right track to me. I’m a single mom raising a son, and very consciously working to teach him to not rape or coerce girls into sex. I’ve been hammering the phrase “you never touch anybody without their permission” part of it since he was very small. Now that he’s 14 our conversations are more sophisticated, but I agree it can seem difficult to find the right words. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with telling him not just that he has to be in tune with what a woman really wants, but very communicative about it with her. And if he thinks there is any doubt, don’t do it.

    Also, there are plenty of examples if you watch TV or movies of how men get it wrong and you can use those as starting points to talk to him about how that’s not OK and what one should do instead.

  16. Redpeachmoon

    Powerful blaming! Thankyou especially puncturedbicycle.
    Choices indeed.

  17. TwissB

    Jessie – Good sharp listening to what is really being said. when men say “She should have had a gun.”

    To clarify: when I wrote MVAW above, I was meant Men’s, not Male, Violence Against women. I.e behavioral, not biological. Behavior can be changed.

    In accord with the need to name the agent of the harm, I would like to see MVAW displace the unspecific VAW. usage.

  18. Raging Leftie @ ragingleftie

    Excellent blaming. Great piece/

  19. phio gistic

    I am enjoying following Maxwell’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ZerlinaMaxwell

  20. Keri

    Interesting that when folks talk about needing a gun to prevent a crime they completely forget that they don’t suddenly turn into Dirty Harry, 007, or Jennifer Lopez when confronted by a perpetrator and shit’s not gonna go down like in the movies.

    All that discussion also leads back the whole “rape rape”idea. It’s only rape if there is a dude coming out from an alley you can shoot.

    I still think the answer lies in Twisty’s proof of consent argument. The burden should be on dudes and the penalties should be sufficient to deter. I vote for lobbing off the balls but that’s just me.

  21. Twisty

    March 16, 2013 at 7:45 pm
    I still think the answer lies in Twisty’s proof of consent argument.

    Finally, the voice of reason!

    (I kid!)

  22. polarcontrol

    Janeen and Chris,

    I think examples and personal stories are often a good way into the whole “problematics” of consent.
    See for instance this post, and comments, over at the inspiring Feminist Current:

  23. tinfoil hattie

    RepeX. Better than guns.

    But completely illegal, of course, before it was ever manufactured.

  24. Fictional Queen

    The solution is for the majority of the males of the world to vanish off the face of earth!
    Where there is maleness, there is filth!

  25. tsisageya

    One epiphany of mine: There really is a rape culture.

    I’m a dumbass, I know. DUH.

  26. Falkland

    @Polarcontrol: Excellent article.

    Really, it shouldn’t be any wonder why women acquiesce in the situation M. Murphy described in the article. Do you “give up”, and hope that it doesn’t hurt, or do you risk being brutalized by the prick because he won’t take “no” for an answer.

    This is why “choice” feminism is such BS. If you have “choices”, and they all stink, it’s still oppression.

  27. Greenlee

    You don’t have to shoot to kill, just injure. Does the bastard rapist deserve to die? That’d be too kind

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