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The Rapist Checklist

Posted by Curt on Monday, 21 June 2010

You may have heard of it.  Some time ago, someone apparently sat down and compiled a checklist of things which they considered makes one a rapist.  It is often associated with feminists, but I think it’s more of a strawman than anything.  If you google it, its entry in Encyclopedia Dramatica is among the first to come up, which does call its validity into question (UPDATE: Daran from Feministcritics.org pointed out that the list originated from a feminist with the pseudonym Biting Beaver).  It may have been something a person legitimately believed (indeed, some out there do believe that each point, or almost all points, on the checklist is more or less rape) but perceived as so ridiculous by others that it got its own entry in there.  It’s hard to say.  The point is, realize that this is not something all feminists (or even most feminists) may necessarily agree with, and I don’t want to leave anybody with the implication that it is.

In any case, I feel the points made in the checklist warrant some discussion.  I’m going to go through each individual point giving my thoughts.  By doing so, you should gain some insight on what exactly I think rape is.  Feel free to address any of my points or any thoughts you have on any of the checklist’s points.

——————

The Rapist Checklist

Some things to remember…

1. You are a rapist if you get a girl drunk and have sex with her.

I don’t think so.  I don’t believe that, as far as sex goes, drunkenness should nullify any individual’s consent for sex.  It would, however, nullify the signing of a contract but that’s because a contract’s terms lasts longer than just that drunken night, unlike sex (unless she gets pregnant or contracts an STD, but that’s more of a side effect of unsafe sex and hence why it’s not totally comparable).  In the case of consent to sex while drunk, I tend to believe that one must take responsibility for all poor decisions made while drunk as they drink alcohol (as is the case when you drive while under the influence).

Although I will agree that trying to get a girl drunk just so a guy can have sex with her is shitty practice all the same.  Not rape or criminal, but not socially or morally acceptable in my mind.

2. You are a rapist if you find a drunk girl and have sex with her.

Same response as the first paragraph of #1.

3. You are a rapist if you get yourself drunk and have sex with her. Your drunkenness is no excuse.

This makes no sense.  According to the author of this list’s logic, if you’re drunk and she’s not, wouldn’t that make her the rapist?

You can argue power dynamics in this all you want and claim that this wouldn’t make her a rapist, but I think such double standards are ridiculous.  Again, drunkenness shouldn’t nullify any individual’s consent for sex.

4. If you are BOTH drunk you may still be a rapist.

According to the author’s logic, it would make both individuals a rapist, not just the man.  Same response as #3.

5. If she’s alternating between puking her guts out and passing out in the bed then you’re a rapist.

Here’s where it gets a bit complicated.  If she’s in this state, would she really understand what’s going on?  I’d say this is borderline rape, but not clear cut rape – it isn’t that simple.  Rape is not as cut and dry as consent vs. no consent makes it seem.

6. If she’s sleeping and you have sex with her you’re a rapist.

Fair enough.  She is, after all, not giving either explicit or implicit consent, which is the definition of rape.

7. If she’s unconscious and you have sex with her then you’re a rapist.

Same response as #6.

8. If she’s taking sleeping pills and doesn’t wake up when you have sex with her then you’re a rapist.

Sure.  I’d just ask, what if she consented prior to her falling asleep and said it was okay to have sex with her while asleep?  That scenario probably isn’t very common at all, so I’m going to assume none of that was said, which allows me to agree that yes, it’s rape.

9. If she is incapacitated in any way and unable to say ‘Yes’ then you’re a rapist.

Seems to me that the author thinks only explicit consent is consent.  Implicit consent is very important – if you kiss her and she kisses you back, that’s implicit consent for that kiss.  If you take off your shirt and she reciprocates by taking her’s off, that’s implicit consent as far as getting topless goes.  The same could be said of getting naked and having sex.  It wouldn’t make it rape in such a case just because she did not explicitly say “yes, I agree to have sex with you”.

10. If you drug her then you’re a rapist.

Really depends on how she was drugged – this question is very situational, not so clear cut.  If it’s like ecstasy and she’s still knowing what’s going on, then no it’s not rape, but it’s shitty and totally unacceptable all the same (the act of drugging somebody without their consent is criminal).  If it’s something like LSD and she’s totally out of this world as he has sex with her, then yes, I’d call it rape.

11. If you find a drugged girl and have sex with her then you’re a rapist.

Hard to say.  Also very situational.  If she appears like she’s giving either explicit or implicit consent, then I’d say no.  If he’s taking advantage of her condition when she’s obviously unable to figure out what’s going on, then I’d say yes.

12. If you don’t bother to ask her permission and she says neither ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ then you could be a rapist.

Bullshit.  There is such a thing as implicit consent.  If she’s coming onto you for sex (or you come onto her and she reciprocates) without her saying “yes” or “no”, then you can safely assume she’s consenting to sex.

What does a rapist look like?

13. You are a rapist if you ‘nag’ her for sex. Because you manage to ply an eventual ‘yes’ from a weary victim doesn’t mean it’s not rape. You are a rapist.

Also bullshit.  It’s really annoying and wears her down, but it doesn’t make it rape as consent is given either way.  I would think if she feels violated by this, she needs to evaluate the way she makes her own decisions and the relationship altogether before she cries rape on this (which I’m sure far more do the former than latter).

14. You are a rapist if you try to circumvent her “No” by talking her into it. She’s not playing hard to get, and, even if she IS it’s not YOUR responsibility to ‘get’ her. You’re still a rapist.

Same response as #13.  I can think of situations where one of the couple really wants sex while the other doesn’t want it so much but gives in to satisfy the other.  That isn’t rape.

15. You are a rapist if you manipulate her into sex when she doesn’t otherwise want it. If you say, “If you loved me you’d do X” then you’re a rapist. If you say, “All the other kids are doing it!” then you’re a rapist.

That’s not rape as consent is given, but it is shitty.  I’d encourage evaluating the relationship if it ever came down to that.

16. If you threaten her, or act in a way that SHE thinks you’re threatening her then you’re a rapist. If you puff up and get loud and frustrated while trying to ‘talk’ her into sex then you’re a rapist.

Situational.  If he threatens her with her life, that should most certainly be considered rape.  If he threatens her by divulging a secret if she doesn’t have sex with him, I’m not so sure I’d consider it rape, but I’d consider it very shitty to say the least.  All I could say is evaluate the relationship if it comes to something like the latter case.

17. You are a rapist if you don’t immediately get your hands off of her when she says ‘no’. You are a rapist if you take your hands off of her and then put them back ON her after 10 minutes and she eventually ‘gives in’ to this tactic.

For the first case, if we’re talking a reasonable amount of time and sex is going on, then I’d say sure, that’s rape.  And by reasonable I don’t mean stop that very second, but like 2 or 3 seconds to register the meaning of her no.  If he’s fondling her and he still keeps on going after she says no, I don’t know if I’d consider that rape necessarily, but more like molestation.

As for the second case, that’s annoying but if she gives in, I wouldn’t call it rape because, like it or not, giving in is consent.  It is, of course, very shitty regardless.  That’s when you’d have to reconsider the relationship.

18. You are a rapist if you won’t let her sleep peacefully without waking her every 15 minutes asking her for sex. Sleep deprivation is a form of torture and YOU are a rapist.

That’s not rape.  Sex doesn’t even occur in this scenario.  It’s just shitty.

19. If you’re necking with her and you’re naked and you’ve already gone down on her and she says ‘No’ to sex with you and you have sex with her anyway then you’re a rapist.

Well, yeah.  Her consent wasn’t given.  That’s rape by definition.

20. If you’re engaged in intercourse and she says ‘No’ at ANY point and you don’t immediately stop then you’re a rapist.

Again, you need a reasonable amount of time.  I know during intercourse, not every word is immediately heard of registered in your mind.  I’d hope this no is combined with some sort of action like pulling away from him because that would make it obviously clear.

But otherwise, yes, if he keeps on going after she says no, even in the middle of sex, it would be rape.

21. If she said “Yes” to sex with a condom and that condom breaks and you proceed anyway then you’re a rapist.

This is complicated.  The author makes it clear that her consent for sex is made only on the condition that a condom is used.

However, I’m inclined to say no, I don’t agree.  Mainly because I don’t think it is rape if she consents to sex under any condition, even if a condition like a functioning condom wasn’t met.  Of course, that isn’t to say that it isn’t shitty and irresponsible to the extreme on the guy’s part.

22. If she picked you up at a bar looking for sex and then decides that she doesn’t WANT sex and you continue then you’re a rapist.

Well, yeah.  Consent wasn’t given.  Thus it was rape.

23. If she changes her mind at ANY point for ANY reason and you don’t immediately back off or you try to talk her into it and get sex anyway then you’re a rapist.

I don’t agree.  It’s only rape if he actually has sex with her without her explicit or implicit consent.  If that occurred, then yes, it was rape.  If not, then no, it was not rape.  We also need to take into account a reasonable amount of time that I mentioned before.

Of course, none of this is to say that it isn’t disrespectful on his part to her.

24. If you don’t hit her and she says ‘No’ you’re still a rapist.

Sure.  If consent was not given and he has sex with her anyway, it’s rape.

25. If you don’t have a knife or a gun or a garrote and she says ‘No’ then you’re still a rapist.

Same as #24.

26. If you’re a friend of hers you can still be a rapist.

Very true.  Most rape victims were raped by people they knew prior to the rape taking place.

27. If you had sex with her the night before but she doesn’t want morning sex and you pressure her for it anyway then you’re a rapist.

I don’t agree.  Pressuring somebody for sex is not rape as consent was given.  It is, however, very annoying and if that becomes a regular occurrence to her annoyance, she may need to talk to him about it and possibly reconsider the relationship (if they’re in one).

28. If you’re her husband you can still be a rapist.

Yes, that’s true.  I know it seems very counterintuitive to many people, but it is true.  Consent is not necessarily given just because you two are married.

29. If it’s your wedding night and she doesn’t WANT to have sex with you and you force or coerce her anyway then you’re a rapist.

Force her, yes.  Coerce her, no, as consent would be given in that case.

30. If she’s had sex with you hundreds of times before but doesn’t want to on the 101st time then you’re a rapist.

Indeed.  Consent wasn’t given, thus rape.

31. If you penetrate her anally, orally or digitally against her will then YOU my friend, are ALSO a rapist.

Of course.

32. Women do not owe you sex.

True.

33. Buying her dinner does not entitle you to sex.

Also true.

34. Paying her mortgage does not entitle you to sex.

Also true.  If you two are in a relationship and she’s withholding sex when you really want sex, you may need to talk about it with her and possibly even reconsider your relationship.

35. Buying her clothing does not entitle you to sex.

True.

36. Buying her lingerie does not entitle you to sex. It also doesn’t mean that she has any obligation to wear that lingerie around you.

Also true.

37. Spending any amount of money on her does not, ever, entitle you to sex.

Again, true.  None of these are actually rape itself, but they get into the attitudes surrounding what feminists describe as “rape culture”.

38. Seeing her legs or cleavage does not entitle you to sex.

True.

39. If she ‘turns you on’ you’re not entitled to sex.

True.

40. If she has fucked every man in a 10 square mile radius and she doesn’t want to fuck you and you have sex with her anyway, then you’re a rapist.

Of course.  Consent wasn’t given.

41. Her clothing is not a reason for you to rape her. Her LACK of clothing is no reason to rape her. If she’s wearing a thong and pasties you STILL have no right to rape her.

You don’t have a right to rape anybody, period.  Rape, by definition, is having sex with somebody without their consent.  Nobody has a right to that.

42. If she’s a prostitute and she says “No” then you’re a rapist.

True.  A prostitute shouldn’t be obligated to accept every customer, just as a restaurant isn’t required to serve every customer they receive.

Of course, if she takes your money for sex with the understanding that she’d have sex with you for it but then refuses without refunding you, then you’d be fully justified in forcing her to give you your money back, even if by threat.  But to rape her, no.

43. If she’s a stripper and she says “No” then you’re a rapist. Likewise, if she’s a stripper and she’s been rubbing against your dick all night long and you follow her to her car and have sex with her against her will then you are ALSO a rapist.

True.

44. If you watch a woman being raped without calling the authorities then you’re as bad as a rapist and you may also be a rapist yourself.

I don’t think this is true at all.  I’d have to question the person who didn’t do anything, but it is possible they totally froze.  Also possible they fell for the bystander effect, which is pretty bad either way, but doesn’t put anyone on the level of a rapist for it.

45. If you don’t fight rape then you accept rape.

Depends on what you mean by “fight rape”.  I certainly do not accept rape and do not believe it should be okay under any circumstance.  If I saw a rape going on, I don’t see why I wouldn’t at least call 911 to report it (if not intervene myself).  This is of course assuming that I know rape is going on – if I’m at a party and two acquaintances have sex and she’s really not wanting to but not making it clear to me, I wouldn’t necessarily notice it.

However, if we’re talking about fighting rape culture, there’s a lot to be said about that.  Just because a number of individuals think rape culture is a load of bullshit hardly means they “accept” rape.

46. If you don’t believe a woman when she says she was raped then you’re encouraging rape.

Bullshit.  There are a number of cases where skepticism of the accuser’s claim is warranted and to question it (particularly in a court of law where it’s absolutely necessary to do so) is not encouraging rape in any way whatsoever.

47. If you choose to remain friends with a man who raped a woman you are encouraging rape.

I absolutely disagree.  Rapists may have a high chance of committing the crime again, but some can be reformed.

I’m often known to my friends as being very non-judgmental.  I tend to value unconditional love more than anything else and I wouldn’t quit being friends with any of my friends if they were convicted of rape.  I’d make my disapproval clear to be sure, but I think I’d seek to understand my friend and why he did what he did rather than tell him to fuck off.

48. If you confess to the authorities that you raped a woman it does not exonerate you. You are not suddenly a model of good behaviour.

Obviously.  Who on earth thinks that just because they confess to something like rape, they shouldn’t go to jail?  You could be reasonable in assuming you’d get a shorter and less severe sentence if you did go this route (as opposed to if you were caught against your will and didn’t admit to guilt), but such a thing shouldn’t exonerate anybody of a crime.

49. If you ‘only’ raped one woman, you’re STILL a rapist.

I can only say duh to this one.

50. You cannot tell who is a rapist by the way they look. Rapists are your friends, your brothers, your fathers and you won’t know it.

Sure, true enough, but I think this reeks of undue paranoia.

51. Do not get frustrated with a woman if she doesn’t trust you. SHE already knows that rapists don’t wear signs on their foreheads. Something you think is innocuous SHE may find terrifying.

This actually may well be something valuable to bear in mind, not just for a male’s interaction with females, but an individual’s reactions with anyone.  People don’t know you like you know yourself, thus nobody is going to be sure of what to think of you when they first encounter you, or even what your full intentions are after getting to know you a bit.  Some people are more trusting than others (which has a lot to do with his or her own personal experiences) and you shouldn’t take it personally if they’re extremely distant and untrusting.

——————

It bears repeating that feminists may or may not agree with this list.  I would anticipate that a feminist would agree with more of the list than I do, or perhaps cast its points into a different light (particularly when it comes to the rape culture part of the list), but it’s not a given.  I don’t see any feminist blogs out there quoting this checklist and claiming that it is all absolutely true.  This leads me to believe that there may be some disagreement between feminists about each point.  But either way, I do believe they are worth talking about and this blog isn’t all about feminism.

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3 Responses to “The Rapist Checklist”

  1. Daran said

    It is often associated with feminists, but I think it’s more of a strawman than anything.

    If by “straw man” you mean something concocted by an opponent of feminism, you’re wrong. ED correctly attributes this checklist to a radical feminist who called herself Biting Beaver. It still circulates within the femisphere.

    • Curt said

      It doesn’t necessarily have to be concocted by an opponent of feminism for it to be a strawman. It merely just needs to be something that not all feminists (and I’m speaking of “leftist” feminists) necessarily agree with as a whole when it is being used to represent feminists as a whole. Thus in discussions of rape, they’d be associated with that checklist when it may not actually reflect his or her own ideas of what constitutes as rape.

      I read through a number of feminist blogs, from the most popular ones to not so well known ones to keep myself informed on what’s being said and have been for the last couple years. I’ve never seen one of them refer to it, whereas I have seen several anti-feminist blogs refer to it. I can even think of certain feminist bloggers who would take issue with a few of the points listed on there (though I’m certain they’d portray that list in a not so negative light when it isn’t being used as what they think is a strawman, which would be a point of contention in itself but not necessarily indicative with their agreement of all the points on that list), hence why I make the absolutely vital disclaimer that it isn’t something all feminists will necessarily agree with. I’m sure you can find a number who will though and I’m right with you in that I think they’re totally wrong and full of ridiculous double standards. That was, after all, the point of this post – to refute such things.

      Thank you for the link though, I’ll update the post to make a note of its original source.

  2. Liz said

    What is it if you’re fooling around with a friend and you say you don’t want to have penetrative sex, and you’re grinding and he slips in? I asked him to stop, because I didn’t have a condom which was why I asked him not to in the first place. After a minute he said “did you want me to pull out?” And I said yes, and then he did, but only after a little bit. I just want to know what that is, because I’m pretty sure it’s still rape.

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