June 30, 2005

Majikthise : Mukthar Mai paradox

Majikthise : Mukthar Mai paradox:

If you presuppose male hegemony, it makes sense to address rape by silencing victims and to protecting future victims by restricting their freedom, especially their access to other men. The framework itself is often invisible to those who operate within it, making it impossible for them to realize the presuppositions that circumscribe reactions to the problem of sexual assault.

The bounded logic of male privilege pervades attitudes towards rape in every society, including our own. It asserts itself every time a guy is incapable of condemning rape without admonishing women for doing 'stupid things.'


MosBen said...

Is that really fair to say this is evidenced "every time" the admonishment of the rape is accompanied by an admonishment for "doing stupid things"? I can think of plenty of hypothetical instances, and indeed know of a couple all too real instances, where an admonishment against the rapist stands alone. At the same time, though the rape is never justified, I can't get around the idea that there *are* behaviors which are stupid. I mean, robbery is never justified, but there are some behaviors that are dumb if your goal is to not be robbed. It doesn't matter if what controls the outcome is actual opportunity or any other cause, sometimes acting some way is just unwise. While I can certainly see how easy it would be for that sort of thing to turn into an apologia for the rapist, it does strike me that there has to be some behavior, though I'm not going to get into what it might be here, which we can say is dumb for people to do.

Noumena said...

This issue is central to the comments that follow the post I linked to; do go check it out yourself.

Drew said...

I agree with MosBen's non-absolutist position on this, but the overall point still stands. The robbery example is a good one. If someone's house gets burglarized, you don't typically blame the victim, even in part. If you later learn that the victim left their house wide open and basically did all sorts of things to increase the liklihood of being burglarized, then you might criticize them.

But in rape, there is a socio-cultural presumption toward blaming the victim, at least in part, and a similar presumption doesn't exist in the burglary context.

But it's true that, in some cases, a woman can behave in blameworthy ways that, while certainly not justifying or excusing the rape, can contribute causally to it. In cases where that happens, it makes sense to admonish the woman, so as to teach other people to be more careful. But the general tendency to presume the victim's blameworthiness in the rape context is indeed an indicator of a deep-rooted prejudice at work in our culture.