”Sexual microaggressions” complicate our understanding of rape


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/09/15/sexual-microaggressions.html


#2

The story is a 404, both from the BB front page, and from this BBS thread.


#3

Can’t load story. :slight_frown:


#4

This seems increasingly common of late. Changing the URL to https fixes it. https://boingboing.net/2016/09/15/sexual-microaggressions.html


#5

Maybe insecure men and browsers don’t want you to read that article…?


#NeedsMoreLikes (formerly known as "All the Likes")
#6

Got it, thanks!


#7

There is a lot in the story, but none of it concerns “microaggressions” of any kind. It’s actually just pretty straightforward aggression.


#8

Not that it’s important, or germane to the discussion, but the interaction between the two characters in the pic attached to this thread is when I went from mildly disliking the Adam character on Girls to full-on hating his guts and wanting him to suffer a horrendous demise. The disgusting way he treated the sweet, sensible and (seemingly) well-adjusted character played by Appleby inflamed me to the core. If you want out of something, especially if it’s because you’re maladjusted and don’t know how to process healthy affection, just walk away. Don’t treat the other person like garbage just to force them to be the villain and break it off due to your mistreatment. Callow and cowardly. Yes I know it’s fiction, I’m not that invested in it… My reaction is because I’ve sickeningly seen this type of behavior play out in real life as well. And my misanthropy grows in response (to the behaviors covered in the article also, of course).


#9

I haven’t seen more than a couple of episodes of that series (and not that one), but it’s interesting to see the consequences of certain actions on film – some series have more strict karmic accounting than others, but I get the idea that many series will punish a character based on how bad they think the action will be viewed by the audience, or at least it’s clear that the relationship of the audience to the character has changed fundamentally if they do something abusive. It’s interesting to see actions that are seen as OK or grey areas (despite being pretty clearly wrong), since this effect is often conspicuous by its absence.


#10

Sometimes.


#11

My browser is set to automatically switch to https if available.

Not saying you’re wrong – and in fact, thanks for the functioning link! – but there’s something more going on.


#12

While I’m firmly for affirmative consent in all matters, there’s something deeply odd about the articles. Microaggressions, as a concept, are incredibly daft. And the article mentions them but doesn’t give examples of them. Someone doing something to you during sex, after you’ve made your lack of consent known isn’t a ‘micro-’ anything. That’s rape. It’s a straight-up aggression.

I’m talking about this:

There was the boy I dated the summer before college who insinuated that I’d get dumped if I didn’t put out (and then dumped me anyway after pressuring me into a blowjob). The college boyfriend who continued to rub ice on my vulva even after I told him I didn’t like it and didn’t think it felt good. The multiple men who treated my desire for safer sex as a negotiable request, rather than a mandate, repeatedly badgering me to soften my stance and let them get their way, my sense of safety be damned. The on-again-off-again hookup who invited me to share his bed—just to sleep, I was assured—only to proceed to have sex with me even after multiple nos.

The first is just asshole behavior, but all the rest are just… rape. That’s what rape is. Or, I guess, sexual assault depending on picayune legal details. I don’t think there’s a single ‘dubious’ thing about it. And while she says that nobody will go to jail over it, I’m not sure that they shouldn’t. Oh, you can’t prove it, but morally speaking I’m all for this behavior to carry serious time.

That all said, I do find one part of it objectionable: With the best will in the world, women have to make their desires known. They are grownups with inviolable moral agency. This much is expected of them. It’s a responsibility that cannot be abdicated, much like the obligation of men to make their desires known and to respect the desires of their partners is non-negotiable and cannot be abdicated under any circumstances.


#13

“My reaction is because I’ve sickeningly seen this type of behavior play out in real life as well. And my misanthropy grows in response (to the behaviors covered in the article also, of course).”

This is something I would like to address, the response to this kind of behavior in younger men.
In the real world, there are many boys who don’t have an adequate role model for dealing with the opposite sex due to fathers who are not present, or bad role models in close proximity, or similar reasons.
How do we make them understand the context of their bad behavior, so that they do not simply avoid the barriers (misanthropy, public shaming, etc.) and seek an easier route to gratification, or worse, use a brute-force approach?

Edit for clarification


#14

Sorry, have to refute this. Lack of positive parental role models have nothing to do with sexual assault. Brock Turner has a dad and a mom that love him and speaks to the media to defend him. By all accounts his parents and family are lovely caring people. Their son is still a rapist.


#15

That is an answer that will have to be provided by better (more empathetic) and more patient temperaments than I posses. I grew up in a very irrational household and so now my threshold for unreasonable or irrational behavior is practically non-existent, unfortunately.
I don’t have children, but I do have ones involved in my life who are not directly mine and one of the greatest struggles I face is attempting to make them cognizant of themselves, their actions and the ramifications thereof. Unfortunately, youth is irrational (I certainly was) and I don’t have the answers on how to provide them an objective mindset to see their behaviors for what they truly are. Behaviors that they will (hopefully) look back upon with disdain and shame once they reach a certain maturity. Mine is not a stance of judgement, more a desire to see people younger than myself avoid the gnawing internal regret that comes with the needless indiscretions of youth. Learn from your elders’ mistakes so that you too don’t have to suffer them… but, learning those lessons personally is precisely how that maturity seems to be gained. :frowning:


#16

Yes, their son is a rapist. I point you to my second possibility “only bad role models in close proximity” who try to justify their son’s behavior and alleviate punishment for it.

Rapists are not mindless automatons, and there was a learning process that brought them to the conclusion that coercion, misderection, bribery, or brute force are acceptable means of “getting what you want.”


#17

Agreed.
“Loving” ones child does not only consist of making them feel good about themselves and their behaviors which deserve laud… it is also making it clear to them what the boundaries of proper behavior are and that there should be negative ramifications when said boundaries are breached. I have no doubt that many parents loved children who later went on to become “monsters” in the world (killers, rapists, etc), but if that approving “love” came with a lack of consequence for improper behavior then it’s really just sychophantism.


#18

Positive male and female role models shouldn’t be limited to the direct parents. In fact, I wouldn’t say they’re sufficient if the culture around you is contradicting those roles.

Teach sexual literacy from a young age. Like 4.

The Dutch approach to sex ed has garnered international attention, largely because the Netherlands boasts some of the best outcomes when it comes to teen sexual health. On average, teens in the Netherlands do not have sex at an earlier age than those in other European countries or in the United States. Researchers found that among 12 to 25 year olds in the Netherlands, most say they had “wanted and fun” first sexual experiences. By comparison, 66 percent of sexually active American teens surveyed said they wished that they had waited longer to have sex for the first time. When they do have sex, a Rutgers WPF study found that nine out of ten Dutch adolescents used contraceptives the first time, and World Health Organization data shows that Dutch teens are among the top users of the birth control pill. According to the World Bank, the teen pregnancy rate in the Netherlands is one of the lowest in the world, five times lower than the U.S. Rates of HIV infection and sexually transmitted diseases are also low.

http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/articles/40/wake-up-and-smell-the-condoms-an-analysis-of-sex-education-programs-in-the-united-states-the-netherlands-sweden-australia-france-and-germany

The major themes of Dutch sex education are:

  • Physical and emotional sexual development: This topic includes information about puberty of each sex for both sexes and covers physical and emotional changes that occur during puberty. Students are reassured that while they may have worries or concerns about their bodies, these concerns are a natural part of growing up and everything will be ok.
  • Reproduction: This topic includes simple, accurate language and illustrations explaining sexual intercourse and reproduction.
  • Weerbarheid: Translated as ‘interactional competence’, this topic addresses assertiveness, communication techniques, personal values, asking for help, and decision making. Weerbarheid encourages students to think about what they are comfortable with sexually and develop skills to maintain boundaries.
  • Relationships: This topic covers heterosexual and homosexual relationships and is often used to transition from discussions of puberty to discussions of sexuality.
  • Sexuality: Dutch sex education presents sexuality in a positive light, including information on the positive and pleasurable aspects of sex and relationships. Masturbation is encouraged as a safe, enjoyable way for students to discover their sexual preferences.
  • Safe sex: Safe sex is a very important topic in Dutch sex education. The “Double Dutch” method is encouraged- using oral contraceptives to prevent pregnancy and a condom to prevent STIs. The safe sex topic includes information on where to get contraception, how to use it, and what to do if you are nervous about asking for it. (Ferguson, Vanwesenbeeck, & Knijn, 2008)

Having a more equal society (in gender and class) is probably also a factor – if you are taught that you are the elite as a rich white male, you will not respect the wishes of those around you.

A big factor in these studies is the fact that teen sex is not considered to be dramatic, transgressional and impulsive. Rather, it’s something they can be trusted to make decisions about, and these decisions will be supported by the parents (including letting a daughter invite her boyfriend over for the night, for example). Here are some points from interviews with US and Dutch college women; in the US:

  • Driven by hormones and peers: “I was more like thinking with hormones and not really like with
    my head.… I think you have a lot more hormones going through you and you just want it, it is like
    a physical need, so I think that is why a lot of people get into trouble.”
  • “All your friends are doing it [intercourse], they are talking about it, and if you haven’t, you can’t
    say anything, and also I was one of the last girls out of my friends to really do anything sexually
    with a guy, and they sort of picked on me about it.”
  • Unprepared: “The first time when we were having sex, it was an accident. It was not supposed to
    happen, but it did.”
  • Satisfying him: “I did not really enjoy it [fingering]. I mean I did it [hand job] because he liked it.
    Oral sex was with him too. I definitely enjoyed giving a blow job better than receiving it, because
    I was not really involved.”
  • He is in charge: “He was the one when anything sexual was involved; he was always the initiator,
    and I just kind of went along.”

The U.S. college women’s themes related to sexual behavior are in sharp contrast to those that emerged
from the interviews with the 10 Dutch college women. In reflecting back to their younger years, the Dutch
college women talked about having sexual experiences in the context of a loving relationship where mutual
interest and open communication takes place, having control over their own bodies and desires, and
planning ahead and using protection. Sample quotes to support these Dutch themes are presented below.

  • Motivated by love: “We always had gone there together by train, so we knew each other very
    well. I had fallen in love with him, and then we became girlfriend and boyfriend! And after that
    we made love for the first time.”
  • Control of my own body: “I said what I wanted and what I did not want very clearly, and at a
    certain moment I thought, ‘now I want to.”’
  • Ready for sexual intercourse: “It was more something like, what do we want exactly, and then we
    made a plan together about how far we wanted to go and what protection we would use.”

#19

But you’re still saying that someone had to model bad behaviour for them to emulate, and that is what I’m refuting. I don’t believe that everyone who assaults someone did so because someone taught them how or that it was ok to do so.


#20

I thought I was speaking about the absence of a role model, or at best, a wholly inadequate one.

I really don’t believe it’s possible to grow up in a vacuum. Rationalization, justification, and microaggression fill the void left by inadequate life lessons.
I don’t believe in a static conscience, I think it is developed or manipulated over the course of a lifetime