VB: The Thread Killer.

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VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby slow2learn » Wed Jun 24, 2009 9:21 pm UTC

Given the propensity for this sort of thing to spin out of control within half a dozen posts, I'm locking this until I've had a chance to read and parse it.

~CM

Edit 1: the act of locking this thread, in and of itself, was funnier than I had intended. Heh.

Edit 2, in a not-so-amused tone: I'm unlocking this for discussion. Keep in mind that victim blaming is something that is as likely as killing puppies to turn on my mod voice, so for fuck's sake, keep this respectable, or I may just start banning people from N&A.


Ladies and Gentlemen! Herein have I posted some of my thoughts on the ever present Victim Blaming (VB) threat and its handling within the forum. I'd love to hear any feedback on this, so as to be able to get the forum better informed and agreeing on the ins and outs of VB.

VB is a pretty regular thing around here, following the fashion of lady like news, this crime gives (every month!) a wonderful mess of bloody excrement. It often ends up in the middle of a heated debate with both sides fuming and a (g/m)od coming down with an all-powerful key to lock away the conversation.

lanicita wrote:This is why you guys can't have nice topics.

Let's get to the bottom of this!

Let us first recognise the existence of those present among us that have dealt with the most obscene treatment from those they thought they could trust. Those that have experienced rape and other such atrocities are well protected here, as they should be.

Hence the willingness of the (g/m)ods to quickly shut down VB so that those with personalised victim stories don't start wondering 'what they did wrong' again.

Enter VB rule #1: Being a victim is never the victims fault, not even partially.

Moving on, what is VB? Wikipedia has a great article on it. To quote, "Victim blaming is holding the victims of a crime, an accident, or any type of abusive maltreatment to be entirely or partially responsible for the unfortunate incident that has occured..."

The forum is divided pretty nicely when it comes to VB. Most of the forumites that have been around a while stay well away from VB, and many when they encounter it, point it out with style!

Whereas most of the pro-VB crowd is much newer, and has yet to understand the nuances of strongly defended concept at the echochamber... *echo... echo... echo...*

Hopefully now with the creation of this thread, we'll have a place to send people to better understand why we act the way we do when it comes to VB, and how to tactfully avoid such situations that cause the anger of the (g/m)ods.

Lets understand a little better some of the pro-VB arguments with a hypothetical rape situation. (We all love hypotheticals!)

Molly is a slut and a whore.
One night around 3:00 AM,
after heavy all night binge drinking,
she haphazardly runs out of a local club,
loosing her shirt in the process.
That night she is raped.


Pro-VB arguments on this subject would point out how she's a slut and a whore, how she got herself drunk, and ran around a club without a shirt on. They would then come to the conclusion that the rape is her at least partially her fault.

And that kinda feels like sound logic. She made a course of bad choices, all of which lead up to her being raped. [of course, bad is dependent on the specific brand of morality you subscribe too]

But here's the real kicker.

Who did the raping?

How do her actions lesson the responsibility of the rapist?

They don't. Plain and simple. You might ask if its smart to run around without her shirt on. But you would be wrong to assume that lack of shirt calls for the consequence of rape. From here you can start to see the logical problem with VB.

Now, I sympathise a bit with the pro-VB crowd. I'm a firm believer in reaping what you sowed. But just because you plant pretty seeds does not mean that some nasty weed isn't gonna spoil your day. More importantly, just because you plant icky seeds doesn't mean you deserve bad treatment! It just means bad treatment is its more likely to shadow you than others.

Let me say that again. Those that make bad choices don't deserve pain and cruelty. It's just more likely they'll run into it.

When contemplating issuing a VB statement, perhaps it would be wise to ask yourself if you are actually helping the debate at all. Does anyone need to be reminded that running around a club with boobs hanging out is not a smart thing to do? If its a 'no duh' kinda thing, you commenting on it is probably not necessary, and will quickly turn ugly. Next thing you know you have angry (g/m)ods and irked forumites.

Now, although the anti-VB crowd is generally right when it comes to VB, lets me point out a few things that might help keep the situation a little less inflammatory.

If you've personally been a victim and emotionally you cant keep your cool when someone new issues a VB argument, you are not the best person to correct misbehaviour. A strong emotional reaction (no matter how correct you are) is much more likely to just inflame, than to inform and correct.

Next, currently VB always ends up in locked threads, but it would be great if we could all work against this happening. A locked thread is a failure. A failure to understand and to keep emotions in check. Instead of allowing free thought and debate to win out with reason, it makes the loosing side feel like the (g/m)ods are picking sides. This thread was created to give the (g/m)ods another option before closing down a failed thread. Directing someone to understand VB could allow the rest of the forum to intelligently debate the current issue, without derailing the thread with VB.

Points to remember. (also known as tl;dr for you lazy folk)

Rule #1 Being a victim is never the victims fault, not even partially.

Making dumb choices doesn't mean you deserve bad treatment.

VB leads to an angry forum. Please avoid it at all costs.

<3,
slow2learn, a former member of the pro-VB crowd.

Important note! VB is not sexually based only. It can be associated to almost anything, from leaving your bike unlocked and getting it stolen, to being a prick at a bar and getting your face punched in. It need not be sexual to be VB.

[note to the (g/m)ods: I've placed this here because N&A seems to get the most VB problems. I apologize if I picked wrongly. Please notify Jahoclave to take away from my non-existant kittens if needed.]
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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby Lord Aurora » Wed Jun 24, 2009 9:57 pm UTC

As a rule:

If you were coerced into doing something against your will, you are a victim, and it is not your fault. Period. Anyone who claims otherwise is either an enormous tool bag, or unaware of the facts. Which, in these sorts of discussions, are neither of them excusable.

If you were not coerced into doing something against your will, and you know this, then CLAIMING to have been coerced cheapens or weakens or destroys all of the following:
1) The claims of those who were ACTUALLY COERCED.
2) Your credibility.
3) The life of the person you are lying about.

As a case I nearly always fall back on, because it has a personal resonance for me, is the Duke LAX case. The woman who claimed she was raped (Let's get this out there: she was not raped) cheapens the claims of those who were actually raped (this kind of thing LEADS TO victim blaming, which is disgusting), destroyed her credibility for the rest of her life (...well, that one's kind of obvious) and absolutely obliterated the futures of the men she accused.
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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby Indon » Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:02 pm UTC

I plan on punching everyone who disagrees with this thread's premise in the face.

So if you come in here and get punched in the face, remember, it's your own damn fault.
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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby slow2learn » Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:10 pm UTC

Lord Aurora,

May I kindly point out, that although the factors behind false accusations do increase the societal rut of VB, even false victims can fall prey to VB logic. Which although not as bad, contributes to the problem at whole.

False accusations and VB are separate issues.

EDIT: Indon. I see what you did there... very subtle VB. :D
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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby Lord Aurora » Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:17 pm UTC

slow2learn wrote:False accusations and VB are separate issues.
It's my understanding of VB logic that the victim is at blame BECAUSE the accusation is in some way false (perhaps not entirely false, but in some way not completely true, either). "You weren't raped, you were slutty. You weren't molested, you were asking for it. You weren't sexually harassed, you were dressed inappropriately in the workplace and flirting shamelessly, and didn't like it when person X flirted back." etc. etc. In this way, the two concepts are eternally linked in my mind. However, I'd be open to someone who subscribes to some form of VB logic correcting me in the ways they think.

slow2learn wrote:May I kindly point out, that although the factors behind false accusations do increase the societal rut of VB, even false victims can fall prey to VB logic. Which although not as bad, contributes to the problem at whole.
Well said.
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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby slow2learn » Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:24 pm UTC

Lord Aurora wrote:It's my understanding of VB logic that the victim is at blame BECAUSE the accusation is in some way false.
Yes that's the argument made. The effect is much different though. Instead of showing how the victim could of acted better, VB logic is used mainly to releve pressure placed on the perpetrator. It's standard debate procedure to point out the flaws in your opponent in order to take the focus off of yourself. This is where VB is evil. Not because its helpful to point out where future victims could make better choices, but because it steals the show, and somehow magically removes blame from the assailant, when no blame should be removed from them.
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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby Malice » Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:33 pm UTC

carefully worded devil's advocate (sort-of):

That said, it IS helpful to point out where a victim might have made safer or smarter choices. Yes, it's wrong to remove the "perpetrator shouldn't have done that" side of the solution to the problem, but that doesn't make it wrong to include both sides ("he shouldn't have done that; also, given that he's an asshole, the smart thing to do would have been to avoid him in the first place").

In any event like rape, the only one who chose for that to go down was the perpetrator. But the victim (hypothetically) did knowingly or unknowingly take a risk, and it is important that they (and others) understand those risks.

In other words, the problem is still due to the perp; but solutions can come from both the perp and the victim. Perhaps in N&A we should learn when somebody is saying that and when they are saying "she had it coming". That might head off some unnecessary arguments at least.
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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby slow2learn » Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:40 pm UTC

@Malice

Great addition to the thread. Finding a way to acknowledge the factors that decrease victim-hood, while re-emphasising that this in no way takes blame from the perpetrator is a good way to respond to VB. It creates a gentle course of corrective action, instead of fist on fist reaction that leads to our threads getting closed.

Edit: And now its bed time. Here's hoping this thread isn't locked when I wake up!

PS Apologies to those who see VB and wonder why a programing language could be so important. :D
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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby Princess Marzipan » Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:51 pm UTC

I'm all for this thread, for whatever it's worth as former moderator of N&A&D&K <_<

I've generally felt that the things people say that lead to locked threads usually sound stupider than they are. Sometimes the person is just being callous and an asshole and actually blaming victims, but sometimes there is a finer point someone is driving at that they just can't hit, because it's very tiny, very hard to see, and very hard to correctly point out.
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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Jun 24, 2009 11:28 pm UTC

Malice wrote:In any event like rape, the only one who chose for that to go down was the perpetrator. But the victim (hypothetically) did knowingly or unknowingly take a risk, and it is important that they (and others) understand those risks.

In other words, the problem is still due to the perp; but solutions can come from both the perp and the victim. Perhaps in N&A we should learn when somebody is saying that and when they are saying "she had it coming". That might head off some unnecessary arguments at least.
Speaking as someone with very little personal experience, background, or general information on rape, three things about this sentiment strike me:

1) Most people (aside from Martians) understand the risks in the situation you're describing (are people who are drinking unaware that it increases their inability to defend against an attack? do they need someone constantly reminding them of that with each shot they take?) to the degree that taking those actions can be seen as an explicit acknowledgment of that risk. When someone crosses the street, we do not demand that they understand the risks inherent to crossing the street, and we don't rush to tell everyone about that risk whenever someone gets hit by a car.

2) It's very, very hard to point out such obvious pieces of information without shifting blame to the victim, willfully or otherwise. "People who cross the street are more likely to get hit by cars." - "...yes, we're aware. What's your point? People shouldn't cross the street?" - "No, I'm just saying. People who cross the street are more likely to be hit by cars."

3) The discussion of those risks is often framed in a misinformed mindset - "People need to know that cars are more likely to hit you if you're crossing the street." - Well, actually, the majority of cars hit people while they're driving other cars, and the majority of rape victims (as far as I know) aren't engaging in 'high-risk behavior'. This misconception encourages potential victim blaming - "Car accidents only happen when people cross the street, let's fix that" - "People only get raped when engaged in high risk behavior, let's fix that". I know you aren't saying that, but this is a potential consequence of what you're saying - it's a very easy pattern to fall into.

Outside a discussion where the explicit goal is to inform people of high risk behavior and ways to correct that, I don't see the point in saying things like "if all women knew jiujitsu, we might see some very small statistical reduction in rape cases", or "if we reduced the curfew for women to 8'clock, less people would get raped", or "if we required all women to cover every inch of themselves below the neck..." Sure, I guess? Maybe? But it's shifting the discussion drastically away from anything actually helpful or relevant to the situation.

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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby tetromino » Wed Jun 24, 2009 11:34 pm UTC

Devil's advocate time. (Please don't kill me.)

Person A gets drunk, makes bad choices, climbs into bear den at a zoo, gets leg torn off.
Is the victim (at least partially) to blame for his/her predicament? Absolutely.

Person A gets drunk, makes bad choices, leaves car unlocked with keys in ignition. One hour later, car is not there.
Is the victim (at least partially) to blame for his/her predicament? Absolutely.

Person A gets drunk, makes bad choices, starts an argument outside a bar. Someone pulls a knife, person A is bleeding on the ground.
Is the victim (at least partially) to blame for his/her predicament? Absolutely.

Person A gets drunk, makes bad choices, brings a random guy/gal home, turns out the random guy/gal won't take "no" for an answer.
Is the victim (at least partially) to blame for his/her predicament?
Spoiler:
No, because clearly rape victims (unlike all other kinds of victims) are special ~
Last edited by tetromino on Wed Jun 24, 2009 11:37 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby Belial » Wed Jun 24, 2009 11:36 pm UTC

In only one of those situations is the victim at all to blame for their predicament.

Hint, it's the one that doesn't involve another person victimizing them.

So no, bear attacks are special.
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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby Sero » Wed Jun 24, 2009 11:39 pm UTC

I'm Sero, and I approve this message.TM

Gah, I got ninja'd. I thought it warned you that there were new posts since you started writing a reply?

Belial is right. You've missed the entire point of the OP. Bad choices do not make a person deserve a bad outcome, even though they make it more likely.
Last edited by Sero on Wed Jun 24, 2009 11:42 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Jun 24, 2009 11:41 pm UTC

I'm not so sure blame is a useful device in any of the situations you listed, but insofar as we're insistent on using it, I'll point out that the moment you (tetromino) add the consent of another person, the culpability of the victim evaporates. In other words - getting into a bear den is your fault because the bear cannot feasibly choose not to maim you (bears are animals, animals don't have any social context that encourages them not to maim humans); therefore, every scenario after the bear scenario can be described as "No, absolutely not, not their fault in the slightest".

To put it in another context (one I've used before, so forgive me for the repetition): If a black man throws on a "KILL WHITEY" sign, waves burning confederate flags in either hand and screams "WHITE PEOPLE ARE SHIT-FUCKERS" while running through the Klu Klux Klan rally - he is not responsible for anything they do. If they so much as touch him, that's on them.

Also, fucking ninja'd.

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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby Zeroignite » Wed Jun 24, 2009 11:42 pm UTC

Wow, slow2learn. I really cheered for you-- seems like you have learned after all.

Now, can we sticky and lock this before people come and shit all over the message?
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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby tetromino » Wed Jun 24, 2009 11:48 pm UTC

Belial wrote:In only one of those situations is the victim at all to blame for their predicament.

Hint, it's the one that doesn't involve another person victimizing them.


If I leave my car unlocked with keys in the ignition, it's not my fault that it gets stolen?

I find that a rather odd philosophy - but to each their own, I suppose.

Personally, I subscribe to the view that we are not living in the garden of Eden, that Bad Things/People are out there, and if you do not bother to take reasonable precautions, you are (at least to some degree) to blame for the consequences.

The Great Hippo wrote:I'm not so sure blame is a useful device in any of the situations you listed, but insofar as we're insistent on using it, I'll point out that the moment you (tetromino) add the consent of another person, the culpability of the victim evaporates. In other words - getting into a bear den is your fault because the bear cannot feasibly choose not to maim you (bears are animals, animals don't have any social context that encourages them not to maim humans); therefore, every scenario after the bear scenario can be described as "No, absolutely not, not their fault in the slightest".

To me, the word "blame" is not synonymous with "culpability". The way I see it, a victim is rarely culpable (they are not the ones making a choice to hurt someone), but is frequently to blame (for carelessly walking into a dangerous situation).

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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby Chfan » Wed Jun 24, 2009 11:56 pm UTC

I'm going to have to agree with Zeroignite- unless you want the thread to be stickied as a clear outline as to why VB is not OK, I don't exactly see the point of the thread.
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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby Malice » Wed Jun 24, 2009 11:57 pm UTC

I hear what you're saying, Hippo. It's true that VB, or even the appearance of VB, can quickly lead down some very bad places. But again, I think that's a reason to tread carefully, not a reason to forget the whole thing. And like it or not, people are going to continue to say things that are, or sound like, VB, and slapping them down verbally or locking threads isn't going to fix that; engaging with their point of view might.

The Great Hippo wrote:1) Most people (aside from Martians) understand the risks in the situation you're describing (are people who are drinking unaware that it increases their inability to defend against an attack? do they need someone constantly reminding them of that with each shot they take?) to the degree that taking those actions can be seen as an explicit acknowledgment of that risk. When someone crosses the street, we do not demand that they understand the risks inherent to crossing the street, and we don't rush to tell everyone about that risk whenever someone gets hit by a car.


See, I think that's a false analogy, because I think that there are people misinformed about this sort of thing, particularly rape. Everybody's parents tell them "don't run out in the street or the car will run you over" or "don't take candy from strangers" but do all non-Martians know that you're much more likely to get raped by an acquaintance than a stranger? Do all non-Martians know how to drink responsibly (especially in THIS crazy-ass culture of ours)? Especially with our terrible sex education, I think there are still plenty of people out there who don't understand all the facts, or how to apply it to their own situations.

I think a better analogy would be, somebody gets into an accident driving in a blizzard; the proper response is not "don't drive in a blizzard, dumb-ass" but more, "here's how to drive safely in the snow and wind, here's how to put chains on, here's which way you turn when you're spinning or skidding, etc."

2) It's very, very hard to point out such obvious pieces of information without shifting blame to the victim, willfully or otherwise. "People who cross the street are more likely to get hit by cars." - "...yes, we're aware. What's your point? People shouldn't cross the street?" - "No, I'm just saying. People who cross the street are more likely to be hit by cars."


"What's your point? People shouldn't cross the street?"
"No, I'm just saying that people have to understand the risks involved and make sure they look both ways before crossing."

3) The discussion of those risks is often framed in a misinformed mindset - "People need to know that cars are more likely to hit you if you're crossing the street." - Well, actually, the majority of cars hit people while they're driving other cars, and the majority of rape victims (as far as I know) aren't engaging in 'high-risk behavior'. This misconception encourages potential victim blaming - "Car accidents only happen when people cross the street, let's fix that" - "People only get raped when engaged in high risk behavior, let's fix that". I know you aren't saying that, but this is a potential consequence of what you're saying - it's a very easy pattern to fall into.


It's also an easy pattern to fix without blowing up at somebody--you can say, "Actually, most people get raped by people they know, not when wandering around in alleys at 3 in the morning. Here are some statistics proving this."

Outside a discussion where the explicit goal is to inform people of high risk behavior and ways to correct that, I don't see the point in saying things like "if all women knew jiujitsu, we might see some very small statistical reduction in rape cases", or "if we reduced the curfew for women to 8'clock, less people would get raped", or "if we required all women to cover every inch of themselves below the neck..." Sure, I guess? Maybe? But it's shifting the discussion drastically away from anything actually helpful or relevant to the situation.


Pointedly, all of those responses are based around restricting somebody's ability to take risks; it's much better to talk about how somebody can take risks intelligently, well-informed and capable of handling any situations that might arise.

Additionally, I think it's just as valuable, if not more so, to try and bring some good out of a bad news article than it is to do our usual round robin of "rapists should fuckin' die painfully" "yeah!" "hell yeah!" "what a jerk!" and so on.

--

Tetro, you have to understand how to frame those kinds of statements. As it is, saying "it's your fault if your car gets stolen, thieves are like roaming wild animals, no stopping them from doing what they do" is (or sounds like it is) a way of excusing the ACTUAL perpetrator from culpability.
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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Jun 25, 2009 12:07 am UTC

tetromino wrote:To me, the word "blame" is not synonymous with "culpability". The way I see it, a victim is rarely culpable (they are not the ones making a choice to hurt someone), but is frequently to blame (they are the ones not taking reasonable precautions).
If you are saying that blaming someone does not carry with it the insistence that the person should take action X to avoid result Y, then you are operating under a definition of blame that is wholly irrelevant to this discussion.

Also understand that your idea of 'reasonable precautions' is very likely to be fuzzy as fuck, and potentially not very reasonable at all. Also understand that insisting that refusing to change your actions because of the existence of perpetrators does not change the paradigm of who is and is not responsible for a crime. That's what we're saying; just because someone decided to wear a certain type of clothing or engage in a certain type of action never means they've given tacit consent to be beaten, raped, harmed, mugged, stolen from, etc. Claiming that certain behaviors encourage rape and therefore people should either avoid this behavior or accept the risks of this behavior is very dangerous, because that's the underlying notion that's being expressed: "Hey, you took off your 'Don't Rape Me' sign. Not our fault if you get raped."

That sign is always up. Assume it's invisible. People who are ignoring it are the problem. Maybe discussing ways to avoid such people - without insisting that avoiding such people is the responsibility of victims - is useful, I don't know. I suspect it isn't, but I speak from a position of inexperience.
Malice wrote:Everybody's parents tell them "don't run out in the street or the car will run you over" or "don't take candy from strangers" but do all non-Martians know that you're much more likely to get raped by an acquaintance than a stranger?
I've never heard a statement concerning the increased likelihood of being raped by an acquaintance or authority figure that sounded like victim blaming. Of course, again, I'm not well informed on rape, so that might just be a lack on my part - but it strikes me that providing this sort of information in a context that blames victims would be very hard. Or, at least, hard to do without sounding like an immense douchefucker.

I'm never against informing people about anything, especially when that information can provide some good; however, most of the posts I'd accuse of victim-blaming are ones where the discussion is aimed at how to minimize the risk of being attacked by someone on the street or the dangers in trusting strangers. In my (very) limited experience, it's fine to provide useful information in the right context - the problem is the way people frame the information and the assumptions people make about how that information impacts who is and isn't to blame.
Malice wrote:Additionally, I think it's just as valuable, if not more so, to try and bring some good out of a bad news article than it is to do our usual round robin of "rapists should fuckin' die painfully" "yeah!" "hell yeah!" "what a jerk!" and so on.
I know this wasn't your point, but on a sidenote, I suspect people who say "rapists should fuckin' die painfully" aren't really interested in addressing rape or the victims of rape, but more interested in asserting just how much they hate those darn rapists and how they'll kill them with their own two bare hands, don'tcha know. It's a way of expressing your moral superiority to rapists.

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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby tetromino » Thu Jun 25, 2009 12:13 am UTC

Malice wrote:Tetro, you have to understand how to frame those kinds of statements. As it is, saying "it's your fault if your car gets stolen, thieves are like roaming wild animals, no stopping them from doing what they do" is (or sounds like it is) a way of excusing the ACTUAL perpetrator from culpability.

I apologize if my poor phrasing gave that impression.

In terms of assigning culpability ("who should we fine, send to prison, or execute") - that goes to the perpetrator, the one who made a choice to hurt another. And the victim's poor decisions have no bearing on the perpetrator's culpability.

In terms of assigning blame ("who should we point at with our fingers, telling them 'you should known better'") - in many cases, a good part of that should go to the victim.

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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Jun 25, 2009 12:18 am UTC

tetromino wrote:In terms of assigning blame ("who should we point at with out fingers, telling them 'you should known better'") - in many cases, a good part of that should go to the victim.
"You took off your 'Don't Rape Me' sign! Why did you take off your 'Don't Rape Me' sign?! You should have known better!"

Again - the sign is always on. There's nothing you can do to take that shit off. The right to not be raped is as basic as the right to breathe. There are no actions you can take that remove this right. You cannot lose this right. It's really that simple.

Here's an idea: Let's not point fingers at victims and tell them they should know better. Exactly what does victim blaming accomplish, again? Besides marginalizing victims and encouraging perpetrators to continue attacking victims, I mean?

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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby tetromino » Thu Jun 25, 2009 12:35 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:That's what we're saying; just because someone decided to wear a certain type of clothing or engage in a certain type of action never means they've given tacit consent to be beaten, raped, harmed, mugged, stolen from, etc.

Sure, on that point I think we can all agree.
Claiming that certain behaviors encourage rape and therefore people should either avoid this behavior or accept the risks of this behavior is very dangerous, because that's the underlying notion that's being expressed: "Hey, you took off your 'Don't Rape Me' sign. Not our fault if you get raped."

The underlying notion that's being expressed by me is "There are dangerous situations out there. You can easily avoid some of them. If you do not bother trying to avoid them, you are foolish." By contrast, what you seem to be describing is the underlying notion expressed by the rapists. Their opinion is something that I don't care much about.

"You took off your 'Don't Rape Me' sign! Why did you take off your 'Don't Rape Me' sign?! You should have known better!"

You are completely misinterpreting my words.

Of course the sign is always there - but some people will choose to ignore it. If society catches those people, it puts them behind bars, but it can't catch all of them. So if you do not bother trying to avoid situations where people who ignore all signs can take advantage of you, then some of the blame for becoming a victim falls on you.

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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Jun 25, 2009 12:53 am UTC

I'm not really sure how to address this. It's difficult for me to parse anyone who would look at a rape victim and say "In this, you share the blame". Mostly, I just want to use words to punch them in the face. It would probably be best for me to come back to this thread when that urge has sufficiently subsided.

Tally ho!


Edit: Accidentally edited this post instead of posting a new one.
Last edited by The Great Hippo on Thu Jun 25, 2009 1:17 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby natraj » Thu Jun 25, 2009 12:56 am UTC

tetromino wrote:So if you do not bother trying to avoid situations where people who ignore all signs can take advantage of you, then some of the blame for becoming a victim falls on you.


Considering that the majority of rape victims are raped by people they know, the only possible way to avoid such situations is -- I don't even know, actually. To stay locked up in your room forever and never, ever leave. Or let anyone else in. EVER.

So are people under an obligation never to interact with another human being ever, lest it become their fault when that person does terrible things to them?
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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby Sharlos » Thu Jun 25, 2009 1:08 am UTC

natraj wrote:
tetromino wrote:So if you do not bother trying to avoid situations where people who ignore all signs can take advantage of you, then some of the blame for becoming a victim falls on you.


Considering that the majority of rape victims are raped by people they know, the only possible way to avoid such situations is -- I don't even know, actually. To stay locked up in your room forever and never, ever leave. Or let anyone else in. EVER.

So are people under an obligation never to interact with another human being ever, lest it become their fault when that person does terrible things to them?


I'm sorry, I missed the part where he said anything like that.

Because it seemed to me that all he was saying amounted to something like avoid the dangerous parts of town at night and you're less likely to be in danger. I don't think anyone here is suggesting that blame should be shifted from the perpetrators of crime but rather that if it is within your power to avoid a dangerous situation then you should probabbly do that.

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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby natraj » Thu Jun 25, 2009 1:11 am UTC

Sharlos wrote:
natraj wrote:
tetromino wrote:So if you do not bother trying to avoid situations where people who ignore all signs can take advantage of you, then some of the blame for becoming a victim falls on you.


Considering that the majority of rape victims are raped by people they know, the only possible way to avoid such situations is -- I don't even know, actually. To stay locked up in your room forever and never, ever leave. Or let anyone else in. EVER.

So are people under an obligation never to interact with another human being ever, lest it become their fault when that person does terrible things to them?


I'm sorry, I missed the part where he said anything like that.

Because it seemed to me that all he was saying amounted to something like avoid the dangerous parts of town at night and you're less likely to be in danger. I don't think anyone here is suggesting that blame should be shifted from the perpetrators of crime but rather that if it is within your power to avoid a dangerous situation then you should probabbly do that.


That's what I'm saying, though. When it comes to rape, "a dangerous situation" is more likely to be "sitting at home with your partner/friend/family member" than "walking drunk down a dark alley". So when you're telling people to avoid "dangerous situations" or it is partially their fault when they get raped, the only possible way to do that is to avoid ever being with another person ever.
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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby Vaniver » Thu Jun 25, 2009 1:12 am UTC

Zeroignite wrote:Wow, slow2learn. I really cheered for you-- seems like you have learned after all.

Now, can we sticky and lock this before people come and shit all over the message?
I think this is one of the things that contributes to victim-blaming, actually. More in a bit.

Side thought- can we blame the victims of locked threads for their threads getting locked?

The Great Hippo wrote:If you are saying that blaming someone does not carry with it the insistence that the person should take action X to avoid result Y, then you are operating under a definition of blame that is wholly irrelevant to this discussion.
I think this might also be one of the contributing factors making this worse.

When someone hears "Ms. X got drunk at a party, blacked out, and woke up next to a guy who had had sex with her," and they respond, "getting blacked out at a party is a bad plan," why is the common assumption that the person thinks the man in the scenario is innocent? Likewise, it would be silly to assume that someone who responds to a story of the theft of an unlocked car with "that's why you should always lock your doors" approves of car theft, or wouldn't like to see the thief brought to justice and the car returned.

I understand if the mods want to have a policy of "no VB, no anything that looks like VB"- but I think that will stifle discussion that's potentially valuable. I mean, I don't see too much difference between pointing out that the person with lung cancer might not have it if they hadn't smoked and pointing out that the person who got raped at a party might not have been raped if they hadn't drunk to excess. Keep in mind there are a couple of things implied there- telling the person with lung cancer "it's your fault!" to their face is profoundly unhelpful, as is telling the rape victim.

The Great Hippo wrote:Here's an idea: Let's not point fingers at victims and tell them they should know better. Exactly what does victim blaming accomplish, again? Besides marginalizing victims and encouraging perpetrators to continue attacking victims, I mean?
Let's talk about something else for a moment- car crashes. Do you think it's a good idea to show beginning drivers pictures of car crashes? There's rarely educational value attached to them- the only purpose they serve, besides exciting the students who like gore, is scaring students straight. Car crashes can happen to you, because you've seen a picture of them.

There are obviously good and bad ways to point out what could have happened differently. Telling a teen whose car crash killed his best friend "and if you had paid attention, Y would be with us today" every morning is clearly a bad plan. But that doesn't mean there isn't value that can be pulled from that tragedy- reminding other teens before they begin driving, perhaps?

Reminding people that streets are unsafe because of cars and parties are unsafe because of rapists can have value. Yes, it's the driver's fault they hit the pedestrian and the rapist's fault that they raped a partygoer- but that doesn't mean the pedestrians or partygoers can't influence whether or not they get raped.

natraj wrote:Considering that the majority of rape victims are raped by people they know
Imagine that in the majority of store theft, the thief is an employee (a general rule of thumb is employees steal around eight times as much as shoplifters). How does that modify how you protect your store against theft? It certainly doesn't mean never hire any employees.
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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Jun 25, 2009 1:23 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:In my (very) limited experience, it's fine to provide useful information in the right context - the problem is the way people frame the information and the assumptions people make about how that information impacts who is and isn't to blame.


From what I've seen, the context is definitely not right after-the-fact, when discussing an article about a rape or rapes that have already happened. In that case, anything you can say about risk assessment automatically has an implicit element of blame.

Probably one of the nastiest things about VB is that it shifts the discussion from perpetrators to the victims at all. In all the (now-closed) threads on rape here, I think I've seen less than 2% of discussion on how we can prevent rape by way of discouraging/disempowering rapists. The rest is all VB, tireless rebuttals of VB, and semi-non-VB suggestions on how women can (try to) protect themselves by giving up even more freedom to just live their lives. The default assumption, whenever VB dominates the discussion, is that rapists are a problem that will never ever go away, not even a little, so all that we can really do is try to keep women from exposing themselves to this pervasive risk.

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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Jun 25, 2009 1:30 am UTC

Sharlos wrote:Because it seemed to me that all he was saying amounted to something like avoid the dangerous parts of town at night and you're less likely to be in danger. I don't think anyone here is suggesting that blame should be shifted from the perpetrators of crime but rather that if it is within your power to avoid a dangerous situation then you should probabbly do that.

tetromino wrote:So if you do not bother trying to avoid situations where people who ignore all signs can take advantage of you, then some of the blame for becoming a victim falls on you.
Yes, that's exactly what tetromino is suggesting - that blame should be shared between rapists and rape-victims.

Also, what natraj said. In addition, I cannot help but think that blaming the victim implies that they have somehow 'adjusted' their right to not be raped; if the victim is to blame in any part for being raped, then the victim must have taken actions that somehow removed their right (or reduced their right) to not be raped. How can you possibly get around this subtext? "You have the right not to be raped. But if you go into a dark alleyway after 3 am, you might be raped, and it will be partially your fault. But you still have the right not to be raped. That right just doesn't apply in dark alleyways after 3 am."

I'm calling bull shit on that.
Vaniver wrote:Reminding people that streets are unsafe because of cars and parties are unsafe because of rapists can have value. Yes, it's the driver's fault they hit the pedestrian and the rapist's fault that they raped a partygoer- but that doesn't mean the pedestrians or partygoers can't influence whether or not they get raped.
I'm not convinced telling people that they might get raped in an alleyway after 3 am will significantly reduce the number of rapes, but - for me, at least - that isn't the chief concern. I'm for anything that reduces the number of rapes while simultaneously not placing obligations on the victims; if informing people about roofies at parties and so on accomplishes that, I'm all for it. But it's important to keep in mind that 1) these types of rapes do not constitute the majority of rapes, and 2) this in no way should impact the dynamics of blame and responsibility between perpetrators and victims.
TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Probably one of the nastiest things about VB is that it shifts the discussion from perpetrators to the victims at all. In all the (now-closed) threads on rape here, I think I've seen less than 2% of discussion on how we can prevent rape by way of discouraging/disempowering rapists. The rest is all VB, tireless rebuttals of VB, and semi-non-VB suggestions on how women can (try to) protect themselves by giving up even more freedom to just live their lives. The default assumption, whenever VB dominates the discussion, is that rapists are a problem that will never ever go away, not even a little, so all that we can really do is try to keep women from exposing themselves to this pervasive risk.
I don't like the way it frames the discussion either; still, I can't argue with the notion of informing people of risks, especially if that information has real, actual statistical impact. But, well, yeah - if you're informing people of risks right after someone has been raped, in the context of that rape... It's really, really hard to get around the implication of victim blaming.

A useful analogue might be those brutal and bloody car crash videos Vaniver is talking about - showing one of those to an auditorium full of children right after one of them got killed in a car crash by someone else who was drinking and driving. Especially if it focuses on all the things the person who was killed could have done to save themselves ("they should have been wearing their seatbelt!").

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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby TheSkyMovesSideways » Thu Jun 25, 2009 1:52 am UTC

Malice wrote:carefully worded devil's advocate (sort-of):

That said, it IS helpful to point out where a victim might have made safer or smarter choices.

A major point you seem to be missing though, is that if there exists a victim, then even genuinely good advice on avoiding become a victim is too late.

I.e. If your teenage daughter comes come crying that she's been robbed while at a party (I'll avoid the cliche crime), asking whether she was drunk isn't going to to relieve her distress, or help in any other way.

On the other hand, if your teenage daughter is about to go to a party where you suspect alcohol will be consumed, that would be a significantly better time to discuss the numerous reasons why she should avoid getting blind drunk.


Alternative devil's advocate:

A lot of people here seem to act as though a victim is not capable of any wrong-doing, or even the slightest component of fault in their situation. I think this probably stems from the cultural concept of fault being largely absolute, without degrees.

Above, Belial stated that a person who starts an argument outside a bar and gets stabbed is not at all at fault. But where do you draw the line? If a person, unarmed, physically attacks someone outside a bar and gets stabbed, were they at all at fault? If a two people, both armed, engage in a knife fight outside a bar and one is stabbed, is the victim at all at fault?

I'd consider the victim to have acted inappropriately in all of the above scenarios. Is this the same as possessing fault?


So did anyone else read this thread title as the Bene Gesserit litany? "I must not victim-blame. Victim-blaming is the thread killer. Victim-blaming is the little-death that brings total obliteration."
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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby Princess Marzipan » Thu Jun 25, 2009 2:02 am UTC

The major issue is that rape is widely assumed to be something that doesn't happen if you're careful. If you don't drink at parties, don't make out alone with people you don't know, don't walk around alone at night, don't weary slutty clothing, you just magically won't get raped. You get get raped if and only if one or more of those conditions is met.

This ignorant assumption completely ignores the fact that is repeated time after time: most rapes involve a victim and someone that victim knows and trusts. It also ignores the fact that there are countless women at any given time in slutty clothing have drunk makeouts in back alleys with guys they just met and they DON'T get raped. There is no if > then about rape.

Tetromino, your arguments are why this is such a sore topic. You appear hellbent on making rape into something that is always at least partially the victim's fault. I can't imagine why, but stop. Actually listen to what people are saying.
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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby tetromino » Thu Jun 25, 2009 2:42 am UTC

Princess Marzipan wrote:Tetromino, your arguments are why this is such a sore topic. You appear hellbent on making rape into something that is always at least partially the victim's fault. I can't imagine why, but stop. Actually listen to what people are saying.

You are correct that in many cases the victims cannot be assigned any blame - sometimes you just get run over by the metaphorical bus from behind the corner. I certainly do not claim that a victim is always at fault, and if my posts gave that impression, then I must apologize.

As for being "hell-bent" - well, I must admit that the popular mantra that "blaming the victim is always wrong" drives me up the wall - as if getting raped magically renders you blameless in 100% of cases, as if blaming the victim (even when the victim truly deserved to be blamed) is some sort of unspeakable heresy!

Princess Marzipan wrote:The major issue is that rape is widely assumed to be something that doesn't happen if you're careful. If you don't drink at parties, don't make out alone with people you don't know, don't walk around alone at night, don't weary slutty clothing, you just magically won't get raped. You get get raped if and only if one or more of those conditions is met.

Actually, in the US, in only 29% of rape cases are both the victim and the perpetrator sober. Not getting drunk, and not being around people who get unpredictable when drunk, is one good way to decrease your chances of becoming a victim (and not only of rape, but of other crimes too).

TheSkyMovesSideways wrote:A major point you seem to be missing though, is that if there exists a victim, then even genuinely good advice on avoiding become a victim is too late.

I.e. If your teenage daughter comes come crying that she's been robbed while at a party (I'll avoid the cliche crime), asking whether she was drunk isn't going to to relieve her distress, or help in any other way.

You are correct that blaming your robbed daughter won't help her recover her purse. However, it would help your other daughter avoid making the same mistakes. One excellent reason to point out victims' stupidity is to ensure that others don't become victims.

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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Jun 25, 2009 2:47 am UTC

tetromino wrote:You are correct that blaming your robbed daughter won't help her recover her purse. However, it would help your other daughter avoid making the same mistakes. One excellent reason to point out victims' stupidity is to ensure that others don't become victims.
See, this is why I'm having a hard time parsing what you're saying without wanting to do verbal violence to you. Can you please refrain from calling people who have drinks at parties or walk down a street in the middle of the night 'stupid'? Especially when the context we're discussing them in is after they've been raped?

Here's a fun aside: Is it stupid for me to have drinks at a party if I don't get raped? Is getting raped what makes me stupid, here?

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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby mochafairy » Thu Jun 25, 2009 3:02 am UTC

Let's put some statistics in here.
Darkness to Light wrote:
  • 1 in 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 18.
  • 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before the age of 18.
  • 30-40% of victims are abused by a family member.
  • Another 50% are abused by someone outside of the family whom they know and trust.
  • Approximately 40% are abused by older or larger children whom they know. //mocha note: this is an overlapping category
  • Therefore, only 10% are abused by strangers.
  • The median age for reported abuse is 9 years old.
  • More than 20% of children are sexually abused before the age of 8.
  • Nearly 50% of all victims of forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object, and forcible fondling are children under 12.
  • Nearly 70% of child sex offenders have between 1 and 9 victims; at least 20% have 10 to 40 victims.
  • An average serial child molester may have as many as 400 victims in his lifetime.


I ask you how telling a 9 year old child how walking down a dark alley will make them less likely to be raped. I ask you how telling children that dressing promiscuously increases their chances of being raped is helpful. I ask you how telling these children who are being abused to watch out for roofies and other "date rape drugs" will help stop their pain or help prevent it. I ask you how telling them after their torture is over that they just need to avoid dark alleys at night, watch their drinking, and dress like a nun if they want to avoid being raped is helpful.

I can answer all those questions for you: it doesn't help. It doesn't help any of them. All telling them these things is restarts the cycle of them blaming themselves. It's hard enough to get people to come forward without people shouting "Just don't go down dark alleys!".

It takes away what little motivation victims have for coming forward. It undermines the cause. It hurts people who have lived through that hell. It makes you look like a total douche.

"But mocha, that's not what we're saying!"
Good for you. Intent means absolutely nothing when your preaching alienates people and has no way to be interpreted without a novella to explain and tiptoe around the minefield you just laid.
Your intent is meaningless in the field of VB. What matters is they way your message is presented and interpreted. If you want to avoid the problem, write your novella of an explanation and link it for every god damn time you tell a victim that it's their fault for being a victim.

"But, mocha! We're not blaming the victim! We're simply pointing out mistakes/bad decisions they made!"
You don't think that victims know they made bad decisions? No one is perfect. I'm certain that every victim, especially of rape and sexual assault, agonizes over every detail of what they could've done to make it stop, to prevent it, to get away. Pointing it out only makes you a troll. You are not helping anyone by analyzing every mistake the victim made.

You know what's a novel idea? Let's analyze the mistakes that the perpetrator made. Let's go to the actual problem and figure out how to fix it. Instead of focusing on the victims' mistakes, let's get them real counseling.

edit: tetromino, site your sources. No source means I will simply ignore your stats.
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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby tetromino » Thu Jun 25, 2009 3:28 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:See, this is why I'm having a hard time parsing what you're saying without wanting to do verbal violence to you. Can you please refrain from calling people who have drinks at parties or walk down a street in the middle of the night 'stupid'? Especially when the context we're discussing them in is after they've been raped?

Here's a fun aside: Is it stupid for me to have drinks at a party if I don't get raped? Is getting raped what makes me stupid, here?

Having drinks at a party? Nothing wrong with that.
Having drinks at a party and then going home with an equally drunk distant acquaintance, given that you know your roommate is out, and that you will be alone with the guy in your apartment? Perhaps not the best decision.
Walking down the street in the middle of the night? Probably OK, but depends on the street.
Walking down a dark alley in the middle of the night while drunk and wearing high heels (ensuring you cannot run away)? Yep, stupid.

mochafairy wrote:
  • 1 in 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 18.
  • 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before the age of 18.
  • More than 20% of children are sexually abused before the age of 8.

I know that "data" is not the plural of "anecdote". Nevertheless, I am very surprised by these statistics because I do not know a single person (among my friends or family) who was sexually abused as a child. Perhaps all the people I know are exceptionally lucky?

I ask you how telling a 9 year old child how walking down a dark alley will make them less likely to be raped. I ask you how telling children that dressing promiscuously increases their chances of being raped is helpful. I ask you how telling these children who are being abused to watch out for roofies and other "date rape drugs" will help stop their pain or help prevent it. I ask you how telling them after their torture is over that they just need to avoid dark alleys at night, watch their drinking, and dress like a nun if they want to avoid being raped is helpful.

9-year old children face a different set of threats than adults. Telling them to dress like a nun would not be helpful. But explaining to them that a 9-year old body simply cannot handle beer - no matter what the friendly, smiling man tells you - would be helpful. Telling them to avoid people who make them uncomfortable "down there" would be helpful. Telling them who to seek when lost (women with children) and who to avoid (shady guys in vans) would be helpful.

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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby apricity » Thu Jun 25, 2009 3:39 am UTC

tetromino wrote:Walking down a dark alley in the middle of the night while drunk and wearing high heels (ensuring you cannot run away)? Yep, stupid.
That is not "stupid." What's "stupid" is the fact that there is a reason to think that is dangerous. What's "stupid" is that there are people out there who WOULD take advantage of the situation and assault or rape someone. You cannot say it is the fault of the person walking down the dark alley for coming across a rapist. It is entirely, 100% the fault of the rapist for being a goddamn rapist.
I know that "data" is not the plural of "anecdote". Nevertheless, I am very surprised by these statistics because I do not know a single person (among my friends or family) who was sexually abused as a child. Perhaps all the people I know are exceptionally lucky?
Perhaps the people you know wouldn't tell you they were sexually abused. I know I wouldn't, if I saw that this was your attitude about it.
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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby Sero » Thu Jun 25, 2009 3:41 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:"You have the right not to be raped. But if you go into a dark alleyway after 3 am, you might be raped, and it will be partially your fault. But you still have the right not to be raped. That right just doesn't apply in dark alleyways after 3 am."

I'm calling bull shit on that.


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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby SecondTalon » Thu Jun 25, 2009 3:41 am UTC

tetromino wrote:
mochafairy wrote:
  • 1 in 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 18.
  • 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before the age of 18.
  • More than 20% of children are sexually abused before the age of 8.

I know that "data" is not the plural of "anecdote". Nevertheless, I am very surprised by these statistics because I do not know a single person (among my friends or family) who was sexually abused as a child. Perhaps all the people I know are exceptionally lucky?
Lucky, or just don't talk about it. Of the females I know well enough to have discussed the issue, the rate is closer to 3 in 4. Of the males, the rate is 0 in however many, I think (I'm not really sure on the details of one incident I heard about fairly fourth or fifth hand, so I'm not sure how consensual it was). Of course, when was the last time in Western society that it was okay for a guy to admit that someone took advantage of him, ever?
heuristically_alone wrote:I want to write a DnD campaign and play it by myself and DM it myself.
heuristically_alone wrote:I have been informed that this is called writing a book.

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The Great Hippo
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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Jun 25, 2009 3:43 am UTC

tetromino wrote:Nevertheless, I am very surprised by these statistics because I do not know a single person (among my friends or family) who was sexually abused as a child. Perhaps all the people I know are exceptionally lucky?
How do you know they were sexually abused? Is your reasoning here that people always tell other people when they were sexually abused? Do you possess some means to magically determine when people have been victims of sexual abuse? Are you psychic?

Here's an idea: Maybe you don't know whether any of them have been sexually abused because they're aware that if they told you, you might blame them.

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Re: VB: The Thread Killer.

Postby Jahoclave » Thu Jun 25, 2009 3:46 am UTC

Guess who just won some kittens?! If you guess slow2learn got 2 kittens, you guess correctly.


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