“If you’re feminine … “

“If you’re feminine, I gathered, you enjoy things that are fundamentally unenjoyable, take pleasure in actions that are intrinsically painful, and derive most satisfaction from the gratification of someone else’s desires, anyone else’s.” Class Porn, Molly Hite

Against the Rape Shield

[This was written quite a while ago, and I think I might add this: that “‘No’ means ‘Yes’ and ‘Yes’ means ‘Anal'” is actually chanted out loud by men should be considered part of ‘circumstantial evidence’, describing as it does the circumstances under which rape occurs–i.e. our disgustingly sexist society…]

Sexual assault, like many other crimes, usually occurs when no one’s watching.  Given the absence of a third party witness, how are we to decide guilt/innocence?

Circumstantial evidence is often not helpful because consent, that which differentiates between legal and illegal sex among adults, is essentially a mental event, and of this there can be no evidence: a brain scan won’t show us whether or not a person consented.

Considering consent as a behavioural event, a gesture or a word expressive of consent, is not much better: evidence is possible, but unlikely – even if an audio or video tape of the event exists, one must establish the absence of coercion for any consensual gestures and words.

In a way, things were better when force and resistance differentiated between legal and illegal sex: evidence of this is easily available – torn clothing, bruised body parts, etc.  However, we recognize that force and resistance, and perhaps more often torn clothing and bruised body parts, may be part of consensual sex; we also recognize that force may not be physical and resistance may not be wise.

Left without such circumstantial evidence, we must therefore base our decision of guilt/innocence on credibility – specifically (1) which person is more likely to be telling the truth, and (2) which story is more likely to be true.  In both cases, the rape shield law hinders rather than helps our decision.  Questioning the accuser about her/his sexual history, as well as about her/his character and motive, may indeed provide relevant information.  Questioning the accused about his/her sexual history, character, and motive may also provide relevant information.  Both lines of questioning should be common in cases that must be decided without circumstantial evidence.

Consider Woman A: she is sexually active and often goes to bars to pick up men; she cruises, chooses, and queries – if he consents, they drive to her place.  Suppose she changes her mind on one occasion, and the man persists.  She may, quite reasonably, decide not to lay charges of rape; she would not expect anyone to believe her.  Given her past practice (her sexual history), it would, in fact, not be reasonable to believe her.

Consider Woman B: she is celibate and solitary.  Suppose a man were to enter her residence and rape her.  She, reasonably enough, would lay charges; she would expect to be believed.  Given her past practice (her sexual history, or rather the lack thereof), it would be very reasonable to do so.  It is crucial, therefore, for that past practice, the fact of her long-term celibacy and solitude, to be admissible.

Likewise, the past practice of the man should be admissible: a history of habitually raping women, for example, is relevant; a history completely devoid of aggression is also relevant.

Such information is relevant, however, only insofar as we are creatures of habit, people with tendencies.  To say past practice is relevant is to assume that people by and large are consistent in their behaviour.  This may not, in fact, be the case: people are inconsistent, people change, people do things for the first time, people do things out of character – all of this is true.  Just because a woman consented to sex with twenty strangers before this one doesn’t mean she consented to this one.  And just because a man raped twenty women before her doesn’t mean he raped her.  Just because the sun has risen every day until now doesn’t mean I can know with certainty that it will rise tomorrow; but probably it will.  And probabilities are all we have, especially when there are no witnesses.  If a person typically gets drunk on Saturday night and becomes very generous, lending cash and car keys, then his/her charge of theft some Sunday morning is going to be a tough one to make stick; people will reasonably conclude that probably s/he consented to the transaction.

Yes, information about one’s past may be misused; but this isn’t a good reason to prohibit its use: baseball bats can be misused too, but we don’t therefore make them illegal.  Rather, it’s up to the court officials to say ‘Wait a minute, that’s a non sequitur, that’s irrelevant’.  And if the case in question involves consent, sex, and a stranger, probability based on past practice with regard to consent, sex, and strangers is what’s most relevant; information about such past practice should, therefore, be admissible.

It may, however, be the only information that’s relevant: arguments to character are of questionable validity – ‘She’s sexually active, therefore she’s a slut, and sluts lie’; ‘She’s a teacher, therefore she must be morally upright, therefore she would not lie’; ‘She’s an atheist, therefore she’s immoral, therefore she would lie’; etc.  Arguments to motive are also questionable, if only because this takes us back to the unknowable mental event.

Most of the items mentioned in discussions about the rape shield would also be irrelevant – medical records, adoption files, child welfare records, and abortion files.  A personal diary, however, may be relevant: if the woman had written in her diary the night before the alleged rape, “I intend to get laid tomorrow night and it doesn’t matter by who – and the more it hurts and the more afraid I am, the better – and I’ll lie about consenting just to make my life a little more interesting”, then that entry should be admissible; likewise, if the man had written in his diary “Tomorrow is Victim Number Ten – I’ve got my knife sharpened and ready to go – I get hard just thinking about raping whoever it’ll happen to be”, then that should be admissible.

However, hearsay has always been inadmissible, so entries such as “He said he was going to rape me” or “She said she wanted me” would not be admissible.

If judges do order such irrelevant records to be turned over, then that’s the problem – and the solution is not a restriction on the admissibility of all personal records/history but mandatory Logic 101 for court officials.  (To use one example, drug use does not show general disregard for the law.)

To summarize, (1) we can’t have certainty, we can have only probability; (2) past practice can be (not is) relevant to probability; therefore, (3) information about relevant past practice, of both the accuser and the accused, should be admissible in court.

[Hell Yeah, I’m a Feminist is a feminist blog, often radical feminist (radfem), always anti-gender and anti-sexism.]

Power or Responsibility?

Several years ago, a local arts centre ran an ad for the position of General Manager.  It caught my eye – for a second, I must’ve thought of applying.  But then my conscious self must’ve recognized it as being out of my league and I read on.

But then I thought, wait a minute!  I’m 37 years old, I’m a multidisciplinary artist who has published books, produced and marketed cassettes, and run music and dance studios, I’ve been Chief Negotiator for a union, I’m intelligent, I’m efficient – surely I’m capable!  Even though I’ve had no experience specifically as a General Manager, surely I have the skills “to be a team leader, to balance the arts and business, to be sensitive to multiple art forms, to be a host at ease with the community and the industry….”

So why then was I reluctant to apply?  Well, I thought, it’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of responsibility (the ad said the centre was “a $1 million venue”) – and that daunted me.

But – and this is the point I want to examine – a man with half my background, and probably ten years less experience, wouldn’t think twice about applying.  Why is that?

Perhaps it’s that women see responsibility where men see power.  Women see burdens where men see benefits.  Women see work where men see privilege.

Hm.  And why is that?  One, women haven’t had a lot of power – so they’re not used to looking for it, seeing it, using it.  Two, women have had a lot of responsibility – so that’s what they’re used to noticing.

Wait a minute – men haven’t had a lot of responsibility?  But they run the government, big business –   Yeah.  Ironic, isn’t it.

What I mean is, consider this.  As girls, we got jobs as babysitters: that’s a lot of responsibility – what if the house catches fire, what if the baby starts choking?  On the other hand, as boys, men got jobs as ‘paper boys’: they were responsible for getting a bunch of paper onto someone’s porch.

The trend continued in adolescence: the women became camp counsellors and recreation leaders, while the men worked on maintenance crews; the women were entrusted with the physical, social, emotional, and artistic development of children, while the men were entrusted with shrubbery.

Then, or later, in matters of sex, it’s the woman who has the responsibility – for deciding yes or no and for contraception.  Men have the power – to rape.

It goes on.  Which parent is primarily responsible for the child?  The woman.  Sure, the man is responsible too, but his responsibility is usually limited to financial matters (and even then, more to getting the money than to managing it).  It’s the woman who is primarily responsible for emotional matters – for providing attention, affection, love; and for physical matters – for seeing that the child doesn’t get hit by a car, for seeing that it doesn’t put its finger in a socket; and for intellectual matters – for seeing that the homework gets done, for planning and making trips to the library.  The men’s responsibility can be fulfilled in 8 hours each day; the women are responsible 24 hours each day.  And yet, should he decide to make his car payment instead of his child support payment, he affects, in a big way, the quality of life for at least two others besides himself.  That’s power.

So it’s no wonder we see responsibility where men see power.

And it’s no wonder we don’t apply for the positions higher up.

[Hell Yeah, I’m a Feminist is a feminist blog, often radical feminist (radfem), always anti-gender and anti-sexism.]

Making Taxes Gender-Fair

Since men commit 90% of the crime, they should pay 90% of the tax that supports the judicial system. Prisons are expensive to build and maintain. As are prisoners – they don’t work while they’re in prison, so we have to support them. Then there’s the expense of the police forces and courts that get them there. We already require that they pay the bulk of car insurance premiums because they’re the worse drivers. So what’s stopping us from going further, making the system even more fair?

And since a large percentage of their crime is violent, it follows that men are responsible for far more ER visits than women (assuming no gender differences with regard to illness and other injury) (actually, since men take more risks than women, there probably is a gender difference with regard to injury) (don’t forget the driving thing), so men should pay more of the tax that supports the healthcare system.

Oh and the military. Men are the ones who thrive on aggression, they get off on the excitement of fighting. They want to join the military. They want to go to war. So let them pay for it. Let them pay the $530 billion required by the military budget.

Then there’s all the environmental stuff. All those beer cans, empty cigarette packs, fast food cartons – most of the litter along the highways was put there by men. As they continue to drive their big gas-guzzlers with the high emissions. And the companies that dump toxic waste, and clear cut forests, and dam river systems? All run by men.

We could call it the Gender Responsibility Tax – a $5,000 surtax could be levied on each and every male. Payable annually, from birth to death. By the parents, of course, until the boy reached manhood.

[Hell Yeah, I’m a Feminist is a feminist blog, often radical feminist (radfem), always anti-gender and anti-sexism.]

And now for something completely depressing

And now for something completely depressing:


Pointlessly Gendered Products

Check it out: http://www.buzzfeed.com/erinchack/pointlessly-gendered-products

Be sure to read the comments/captions. They’re great.

Dangerous Sports

I haven’t really kept up with the sexism in the Olympics, mostly because the nationalism bothers me so much I don’t even watch them anymore, but I suspect there are still some sports in which women aren’t allowed to compete. Perhaps because of the tired, old, and fuckingly patronizing ‘You could get hurt!’

This from the sex that makes beating someone senseless part of the game.

And has its reproductive vitals hanging by a thread at bull’s-eye of the body with nary a half-inch layer of fat for protection. (What’s next in the evolution of the male, a brain growing outside the skull?) (Oops, been there – )

The sex that got the girls’ and boys’ bicycle designs backwards.

And competes on the pommel horse, voluntarily.

Do I need to point out that women’s musculature is generally more elastic, rendering it less prone to injury?

And that women seem to have a better developed survival instinct? We duck. We run the fuck the other way. And we don’t make insupportable claims about our opponent’s sexual preferences or those of her parents.

[Hell Yeah, I’m a Feminist is a feminist blog, often radical feminist (radfem), always anti-gender and anti-sexism.]

The Proverbial ‘Walking Alone in a Park at Night’

In a rape trial, that the woman was walking alone in a park at night has been considered relevant – presumably it’s a mitigating circumstance: the accused can be excused for thinking she wanted it if she was walking alone in a park at night.

What!?  Why? Why is it that a woman walking alone in a park at night is understood – by men – to be implying consent to sex with any and all men?

Are parks designated sex zones?  I suppose in a sense they are.  Lovers often (used to?) meet there for clandestine encounters.  For consensual clandestine encounters.

Okay, but parks at night are also popular mugging zones, perhaps because of the poor lighting which makes escape easier in the event they are policed.  But a woman walking alone in a park at night is more at risk for rape than for purse-snatching.

So why is a woman walking alone – ah, is that it?  A woman unaccompanied by a man is unowned?  And therefore up for grabs?  Literally?

[Hell Yeah, I’m a Feminist is a feminist blog, often radical feminist (radfem), always anti-gender and anti-sexism.]

Show a Little Initiative!

If you just do as you’re told, you don’t get promoted, you don’t get advanced up the ladder, because you’re not showing initiative.

Yeah right. Every time I showed some initiative, I got fired. Or at least reprimanded.

Then I realized that’s because there are different rules of advancement for men and women. Initiative in a woman is insubordination, especially if her boss is a man.

Then I realized later, much later, there are no rules of advancement for women: do X, don’t do X; do X, do Y — doesn’t matter, either way you’re not advanced.

Quite apart from the likelihood that the positions you get aren’t even on a ladder of advancement.

‘You can’t get there from here’ comes to mind.

[Hell Yeah, I’m a Feminist is a feminist blog, often radical feminist (radfem), always anti-gender and anti-sexism.]


Wilmut’s team named the sheep cloned from a single adult cell “Dolly” because that cell had come from a mammary gland.  I’m tempted, on that basis alone, to cast my vote against human cloning.  I mean, if that kind of short-sightedness or immaturity is going to be running things, they’re bound to go horribly wrong.

Did they really not foresee that “Dolly” would become headline news?  Or did they not even recognize how juvenile they were being?  Mammaries = women = mammaries.  We are not seen as people, or perhaps colleagues, certainly never as bosses.  Really, need I go on?  This is all so old.  And yet, grown men, brilliant men, on the cutting edge of science, who become headline news, are apparently still forcing farts at the dinner table and snickering about it.

So, cloning?  I don’t think so.  Not until the other half of the species grows up.

(Then again, since cloning means we finally don’t need them at all, not even to maintain the species, let’s go for it.)  (Could it be they never thought of that either – that cloning makes males totally redundant?)

[Hell Yeah, I’m a Feminist is a feminist blog, often radical feminist (radfem), always anti-gender and anti-sexism.]

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