The Lady Garden

Tea and Strumpets

Quickie: Under no circumstances read the comments.

Hey you guys! A woman was attacked in a notorious “problem spot”. Guess what. She shouldn’t have been there, then maybe she wouldn’t have been attacked. Of fucking course.

Thanks Stuff, for your in-no-way-victim-blamey poll. How about blaming the attackers, not women and dark corners?

[Updated: Stuff has apparently deleted the poll. Well. That's....something?]

[Updated x2: Seriously, don't read the comments. Or at least be aware they should come with trigger warnings.]

29 responses to “Quickie: Under no circumstances read the comments.

  1. Sarah March 12, 2012 at 11:12 am

    I can still see the poll.

    Sadly we still need to teach our daughters to stay safe but we should celebrate that women in NZ have freedoms denied to women in other countries.

  2. Deborah March 12, 2012 at 11:21 am

    I can still see the poll too. And the comments. Ugh.

  3. Rebecca March 12, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Just goes to show we still have a long way to go in changing attitudes,I thought we were in the 21st century,clearly not!

  4. andie March 12, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Wow love the comment at #19 comparing being female in public with wearing swastikas and shouting racist slogans. Not a stretch at all.

  5. Pingback: Compare and contrast « A Bee of a Certain Age

  6. GoodGravey March 12, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Ok, I can’t help myself. I read the comments. Happily, though, I am always willing to fight this shit.

    The comments about “we’re not blaming the victim she just should have been more careful”. Someone had the gall to say nobody was blaming the victim when there were several posts explicitly doing so.

    Sometimes I think the attitudes and comments are worse than the attack because they abuse everyone who has been a victim.

  7. V March 12, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    Compare with this article about a man who was assaulted at roughly the same time: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/hutt-valley/6559887/Man-beaten-senseless-in-Lower-Hutt

    No poll on whether it’s safe to be ‘confrontational’, and mysteriously no comments approved although some have definitely been left.

  8. Orinoco March 12, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    OMG!! I wish I could get over reading the comments

    nothing good ever comes of it

    to be reminded that the average person thinks women are responsible for any violent assaults upon them is horrible

    what kind of world do we live in???

    to all the “dudes” out there; people who identify as male and who pass as male in our society, I have this question:

    “you have to walk from a public building to your car in the evening, what precautions do you take for your safety?”

    I bet the answers from men are different from women.

    • Moz March 13, 2012 at 6:32 pm

      Sure they’ll be different. But it depends on the circumstances, and the plod will give much the same advice (and stupid remarks afterwards) to both sexes. Just sometimes heavier on the slut-shaming for women. Other times heavier on the “don’t be male, it aggravates perpetrators”… Melbourne, in the CBD on weekend nights. No, really.

      The plod work in a world full of mindless criminality, where it doesn’t matter who, what or why you are, they just see that if you’re in X area at X time you’re way, way more likely to become a customer. So they lecture people on the importance of not running round the streets drunk at 4am on a Sunday morning, remaining awake while driving and locking the door of your house when you go out. Why? Because they don’t see any other way to control the problem. They’re not allowed to lock up the potential rapists, ban the drugs, book the “only speeding a little bit” motorists or any other simple solutions, so they resort to asking people to get out of the way. And then a letter to the editor today has someone complaining that “those arrested are otherwise law abiding”. No shit sherlock.

      • Orinoco March 13, 2012 at 6:53 pm

        okay, so far two “dudes” responded.

        the point I wanted to make is this:

        in response to such a question as that, as a woman, I would be thinking through things such as “stay closer to any street lights”, “hold keys in hand as a potential weapon”, “get cellphone in hand ready to make an emergency call if required”. so called practical safety measures that society tells me that a woman should take

        yet this type of “self preservation” response is not the first thing men would think about, as nicely illustrated by the two responses so far

        women are trained to see the world in a different way from men, as a more dangerous place, and that if we are the object of assault we had better have played by all the rules or we’ll be called sluts or whadda-ya-think-ya-were-doing-there-at-that-time-of-night kind of bollocks

        and to say the difference in society’s response to male and female victims is as small as “Just sometimes heavier on the slut-shaming for women” ignores the size and nature of slut-shaming. men just don’t have their sexuality a topic for derision in the way women do.

        • Moz March 14, 2012 at 3:39 pm

          Like I said, different. If the masculinity of women who are raped was repeatedly called into question and the default assumption was that naturally they would fight back and should be successful in doing so, then yes, fair cop, women would be getting sexuality-based shaming on top of everything else. But I haven’t seen anyone suggest that a woman who was raped is queer and probably deserved rape since she clearly didn’t even try to fight back. To me, that’s sexuality-based shaming in action. Specifically aimed at men.

          Just as a suggestion, when you’re looking at “different”, you might perhaps think about how the difference looks from other perspectives. Just because feminists are not constantly talking about male disadvantage doesn’t make it vanish, and specifically asking about it then getting upset when people answer is IMO inconsistent.

          Or were you looking for validation, some man to say “yes, you’re right, women always have it worse than men do, you poor things”.

          Thing is, I don’t ever walk from a public building to my car. I can’t afford a car. So your actual question assumes me out of the picture. But when I walk … to my bicycle, I try quite hard to make sure that I’m walking a short distance in a well lit, well populated area. Then I ride home being careful to minimise the danger, because being on a bicycle surrounded by bigger, heavier, less careful people is risky.

          • V March 14, 2012 at 4:17 pm

            “If the masculinity of women who are raped was repeatedly called into question”

            Yes, poor men, it’s terrible for them that their masculinity is called into question, ie, they are *compared to women*, because it’s just so terrible to be compared to a woman. Women being considered inferior sure proves that women don’t have it any worse than men!

            And if you’ve never heard anyone suggest that a woman who was raped probably deserved it, you’re not paying attention and possibly covering your ears with your hands and chanting, “La la la la but what about the MENZ?”

            A lot of feminists actually *do* spend a lot of time talking about “male disadvantage” because “male disadvantage” tends to be wrapped up in a whole lot of sexism that’s really harmful to women.

            I don’t know why I’m bothering to comment since my comments on this blog never get out of moderation, but your smug air of “I’m so much more rational than you ladies” is bothersome.

  9. Craig Ranapia March 12, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    “you have to walk from a public building to your car in the evening, what precautions do you take for your safety?”

    I bet the answers from men are different from women.

    Quite probably.

    Next month, my (male) partner and I are going to be spending six weeks in Europe – book-ended with stopovers in Hong Kong and Vancouver. Yes, I’m not going to be wandering around unfamiliar cities alone in the middle of the night. I won’t be flashing around large wads of cash, and being both discreet and careful with things like my camera, wallet and passport.

    But if I am assaulted or robbed, and anyone tries telling me I “asked for it” in any way shape or form, I know how to say “go fuck yourself, shit head” in six languages. Then again, we seem to have a good grip on the idea that the only people “responsible” for crimes against property are the perpetrators.

  10. Moz March 16, 2012 at 11:43 am

    V, when someone asks about the “menz”, and I answer about the men, I don’t think that’s unreasonable, nor should it be grounds to attack me for answering the actual question that was asked. Which is why I said that if people just want validation rather than discussion they’re better off asking for that.

    It’s interesting that when men relentlessly drag the subject back to “it’s bad for men” a lot of feminists have an array of well-honed arguments about why that’s unacceptable. But when feminists relentlessly drag the topic back to “it’s bad for women”, even when the question is explicitly about men, that’s apparently ok.

    • V (verbscape) March 16, 2012 at 12:02 pm

      Answering about the men is indeed reasonable. Insisting that women don’t experience sexuality-based shaming is ridiculous, and leads me to believe that you are focused on men to the exclusion of the reality of women’s experiences.

      If you can’t see the flaw in holding up ‘masculinity’ as a prized ideal while simultaneously insisting that women aren’t any worse off than men, I’m not sure what I can say to explain it, or why you are on a feminist website in the first place.

      I will say again that there are a number of feminists who *are* concerned with things that are bad for men, both because of the flow-on effects for women and because we have men in our lives who we care about. I would even dare to suggest that *most* feminists care about things that are bad for men. Just preferably not at the expense of women.

  11. Orinoco March 17, 2012 at 11:39 am

    V – thank you so much for replying to Moz. I have been unable to, I find having to respond to men questioning feminism on feminist blogs problematic, confusing and upsetting. For this reason I think this is the last time I’ll try to engage in comments here or anywhere else.

    The original idea was to ask the men to do an intellectual exercise to illustrate that men and women are trained to look at the world in very different ways. This exercise works very well in a mixed classroom setting; upon asking the question the girls typically are scribbling a long list of ways in which they’ll protect themselves from possible assault, while the boys will either ask for more information (“is it a particularly bad neighbourhood?”) or will scratch their heads wondering what the “right” answer is.

    When each group shares their answers the boys may realise that they see the world as a safer place than girls do. This can lead to illuminating discussions.

    Unfortunately the intellectual exercise fell very flat here.

    Comparing the slut shaming to the questioning that men do of each other’s masculinity is on the face of it a good comparison, but upon examination the two don’t equate. The article this post links to is typical media slut shaming of a female victim of male assault. One would be hard pressed to find a media article of a man being assaulted which then questioned his masculinity, calling him gay.

    This stereotyping of woman into a madonna / whore dichotomy and men into a narrowly defined masculinity comes from the same place; patriarchy. Feminists definitely are concerned with all effects of patriarchy, but because we’re women we’re obviously concerned more with it’s impact upon us. If the men here are concerned with the narrowly defined masculinity they’re expected to conform to then they’re welcome to fight it and change it, but that doesn’t mean women should stop our fight against patriarchy or that our concerns are not valid.

    It’s always problematic when members of the dominant group (male) enter into spaces created by the non-dominant group (here female) to explain to us how we’re getting it all wrong and making a fuss of nothing and what about them? If these guys can’t see that then I strongly suggest you go and read about male privilege. And if you guys have white skin as well as being male then you need to acknowledge you belong to a subset (white and male) of THE most dominant and privileged group of people on this planet and before you open your mouths again in a feminist space you need to do some learning.

    • Orinoco March 17, 2012 at 11:43 am

      One last final thing: for anyone who does not think that women are disadvantaged in our society or questions just how much, consider there is one group in our society who have a unique perspective on this. Individuals who transform from female to male live life, and work, in our society as both female and male. “Just One Of The Guys?” by Kristen Schilt illuminates the disadvantages women face daily, especially in terms of work and pay.

    • V (verbscape) March 18, 2012 at 12:27 pm

      I admit, I am a little baffled why people (of any gender) who are seemingly uninterested in feminism visit and comment on feminist blogs.

      I suspect the intellectual exercise works better in a classroom setting where the kids are taking it at face value and don’t have preconceived arguments they want to make.

      I hope you are feeling a little better today.

    • Moz March 19, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      I’m responding purely because I think what I said is being mischaracterised. I have tried not to do what you’re claiming, and I fear you’re looking for a man to bash after reading the comments you were asked not to read. Which is not my fault, but is unfortunate.

      When each group shares their answers the boys may realise that they see the world as a safer place than girls do

      Yes, that can be a great introductory exercise. I’ve seen it bring up some revealing insights (in both genders). I’m sorry that my reply was insufficiently naive, but I’ve been through these discussions before. So rather than saying “I rarely or never think about my personal safety”, I responded with situations in which I do think about that. In retrospect I should have realised that that would not suit some agendas.

      Look, if you expect men who read feminist blogs to know nothing about feminism I can only say that I think you’re going to be repeatedly disappointed. But you can, of course, misread, misconstrue or simply misrepresent what we do write, and there’s nothing anyone can do about that.

      • Emma March 19, 2012 at 2:43 pm

        Okay, can I ask that everyone, EVERYONE settle please. This is a sensitive discussion. If you can’t have it sensitively, please don’t have it here.

        I’d also like to point out that it’s down to Coley. Deborah, Tallulah and myself to say who can comment on **this particular feminist blog**, and how they can express themselves. On this particular blog, we actively include men, both as commenters and contributors. And we don’t niggle over whether people describe themselves as feminists or not. If you’re not comfortable with that, you’re not going to be comfortable here.

    • Emma March 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm

      Unfortunately the intellectual exercise fell very flat here.

      The problem with the intellectual exercise, from my point of view, is that while it’s valuable in the general, in the specific it’s actually quite erasive. It says “men do this, women do that”. It is, for instance, incredibly erasive of and insensitive to male victims of physical and sexual assault to say “men don’t think about their safety”. And when we respond to comments like this, exercises like this, we respond as individuals, from the point of view of our own experience.

      From the point of view of *my* own experience, I DON’T take measures to ‘ensure my safety’ from being attacked on the street by a stranger. My actions and experience are no more – and no LESS – valid than any other woman’s.

  12. muerknz March 18, 2012 at 3:23 am

    In Greymouth I have a suspicion that it’s safer to wander around at night if you are a woman than if you are a young man. The sexual assaults I have seen in our local paper have been perpetrated by attackers who knew the woman and they didn’t happen in a dark alley, but at people’s homes. If you are a guy though and you are walking around town at night you stand a good chance of getting physically attacked by groups of young men out looking for a fight. It’s common for tourists or visitors to be picked on by the local guys.

    Getting drunk at the pub and getting into a fight is pretty much accepted as a recreational activity for young men here.

    The other thing that is noticeable here is that it is men who die in industrial accidents with mining being the obvious example. This generation had Pike, the previous generation of men who died was at the Strongman mine and then previous to them was Brunner. Almost everyone here knows and/or is related to someone who died in a mining accident. My bet is that in my sons’ generation there will be another accident and one of their peers (or even them) will die underground because a coal mine blew.

    I’m not saying Greymouth is a haven for women, it’s not, but there are particular issues for men here.

    • V (verbscape) March 18, 2012 at 12:16 pm

      I can’t speak to Greymouth specifically, but I’ll point out that women also are subject to those “just for funsies” physical attacks.

      Not to mention, if women were not harassed and bullied out of industrial industries (there must be a better way to say that) they would die in equal measure. (This ties in to what I was saying to Moz about “bad things happening to men” being related to “…because sexism against women”.)

      I really don’t know what your point is. Bad things happen to men sometimes? Okay? This is a post about victim-blaming in the media. There is a widespread societal attitude where women are blamed for ‘causing’ their assaults (both physical and sexual). The numbers of men who die in professions hostile to women is really pretty irrelevant.

  13. muerknz March 18, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    I just wrote a measured post but then the computer just randomly refreshed before I sent it and it got eaten. Grrr… I’ll do a quick post in case it happens again.

    I agree about women being kept of of industrial industry (heavy industry?).

    Men are blamed for being victims because men are supposed to be tough enough to fight back.

    Miners get blamed when mines blow up, Brunner is a classic and tragic example. Miners get accused of working unsafely and causing the explosions. The Brunner widows got no pension because the men were blamed. They were victims of a lack of institutional safety, but they copped the blame.

    • V (verbscape) March 18, 2012 at 7:08 pm

      Okay, I see what you’re getting at. I don’t think that it’s societal blame on the same level, but I have nothing concrete to back that up with so I suspect we’re just going to disagree. Thanks for clearing that up though.

  14. Emma March 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Okay, I’m going to try to separate out two threads that I think have got crossed here and are causing some disagreement where people don’t actually disagree.

    – Women are far more conditioned than men to be afraid. That’s what “thinking about your safety” actually is, being afraid, and letting fear control your actions. This article is saying that women SHOULD let fear control their actions, and if they don’t, they’re being irresponsible.

    – However. Police statistic show that actually, MEN are far more likely to be assaulted on the street by a stranger than women are. Women are more likely to be assaulted by someone they know, in a private house. (Both more likely than men are, and more likely than they are to be the victim of stranger-assault).

    – Societal attitudes towards victims of physical and sexual violence are different depending on the victim’s gender identity. And also on their age, sexual orientation, race, class, all of that kyriarchal packaging.

    – But, no matter how far up the ladder an individual is, that doesn’t mean that they’re not traumatised by being the victim of an assault.

    • V (verbscape) March 19, 2012 at 3:48 pm

      Sorry. I responded emotionally to (what I perceived as) pronouncements about what woman rape survivors do/don’t experience, and I should have waited to comment until I’d cooled off.

      Your second point is interesting and runs counter to my anecdata (which just goes to show, etc. I guess I just have a lot of unlucky woman friends.) Your third point there is what I’ve really been considering central to this, and where some of the disagreement seems to lie (not in whether attitudes are different, but in what those attitudes specifically entail). And as there aren’t AFAIK statistics on “societal attitudes”, that’s probably about where it ends.

  15. muerknz March 19, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    ” Police statistic show that actually, MEN are far more likely to be assaulted on the street by a stranger than women are. Women are more likely to be assaulted by someone they know, in a private house. ‘

    Interesting, thanks for that. I thought that was true in Greymouth but only from what I had read in the local newspaper, I wasn’t sure I was actually correct.

  16. Msconduct March 21, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Police statistic show that actually, MEN are far more likely to be assaulted on the street by a stranger than women are. Women are more likely to be assaulted by someone they know, in a private house. (Both more likely than men are, and more likely than they are to be the victim of stranger-assault).

    This comes as no surprise to me as when I studied psychology we were taught that the people most afraid of violent assault by a stranger were elderly women and those least afraid young men, yet crime statistics showed elderly women the least likely to be assaulted in this way and young men the most likely.

    On the other hand, there’s also the question of whether this is the case because of women self-policing their behaviour. It’s statistically less likely you’ll be assaulted on the street if out of fear you do your best to avoid being there.

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