Friday, February 29, 2008

I changed my mind...

here is my last and final post on the rape issue.

When my opinions are challenged by people who I deem to be reasonable and intelligent, and I feel that my opinion is pretty clear and similar to theirs, I always have to determine the fundamental source of the disagreement. Given that Cheryl Miller and James Poulos fit both of the above criteria, I am still perplexed as to why we are having a difference of opinion regarding the matter of some measure of female responsibility in gray areas of rape. I think I have found it.

All emphasis is mine.

Poulos writes:
There are lots of things to blame skanks for, particularly messing with the minds of the guys they like but won't screw, but on the above, and on related counts, they need the possibility of shelter, not more lashes with yet further wet noodles.

Miller writes:
You don't agree that men have a moral responsibility to protect women--at least not if they show up at your door drunk. You write:

I agree.. Yes, we have a moral responsibility to protect them, but they also have a moral responsibility to not go drunk to a man's house, who they knew was an asshole, at 2am, and get naked.

So you don't actually agree. My suggestion that men too have responsibilities is met with the response that well, the woman in question is acting like a skank, so too bad. The fact that one person behaves foolishly does not mean you get a free pass to act just as foolishly.


A blogger on slate writes:
There will probably always be gray areas in defining rape. And such crimes will probably always be under-reported—it's unfortunate but true. But there have to be ways to address those problems that involve neither trumpeting a flawed statistic or attacking young women for being irresponsible.

The disagreement we have is this:
They are focusing on the "ought." We ought to live in a world where women are never taken advantage of in any way. I completely agree.

The problem is we don't live in that world. We need to focus on what "is," while still endeavoring to bring about the "ought."

An analogy:
When I hear that somebody was injured or died in a car accident because they were not wearing their seat belt, I think that is a horrible tragedy and I feel very sorry for them. However, I also say, they should have been wearing their seat belt, even if somebody else was completely at fault in the accident. This does not mean the person should not be provided medical care or that we blame them, but rather it should be impressed upon others that they should wear their seat belt.

When I say that the young lady Lewis & Clark case had a moral responsibility "to not go drunk to a man's house, who they knew was an asshole, at 2am, and get naked." I am talking about something akin to wearing a seatbelt. Clearly, the ideal world would be one in which she could go anywhere she wants, in any state of inebriation, at any time, in any manner of undress and not be taken advantage of, but that is not the world we live in. Nevertheless, we should do everything we can to bring about that world.

Now, you can argue that telling women that they should try not to take actions that increase their chances of being assaulted somehow undermines the attempt to make the world safe for women by implicitly justifying male actions. However, I don't think these are incompatible.

The guy in the Lewis & Clark case was suspended from school, and rightly I would argue. The girl has enough trauma, sadly, from the event that we don't have to chastise her from being imprudent. Nevertheless, just as we take opportunities when somebody was injured in a car accident because they were not wearing a seat belt to say people should wear their seat belts, we should also take these opportunities to tell other young women not to engage in actions that increase the probability that something bad will happen to them. I realize that doing this may seem to be chastising her for being imprudent, but just as I have sympathy for the car accident victim, I also have sympathy for the young lady. I am not saying we all gang up on her to call her a slut.

This does not mean it is their fault. It is just the best policy to minimize the probability that something bad will happen to other women in the future. Everybody wants less sexual assaults to occur, it is just a matter of trying to minimize this risk in our current world. While also trying to bring about a world where no women has to worry about it in the first place.

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

Here you go: http://www.cherylamiller.com/2008/02/in-which-i-make-amends.html.

 
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