Today in ‘What Mia Freedman has done now’

WARNING: THIS POST DISCUSSES MALE SEXUAL VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN.

Mia Freedman’s at it again, blaming women for stuff and calling it feminism: This isn’t victim blaming. This is common sense:

Let’s say you have a daughter. Or a little sister. And let’s say there was something you could tell her that would dramatically reduce the likelihood of her being sexually assaulted during her lifetime.

Would you tell her?…

I’ll tell her that getting drunk when she goes out puts her at a greater risk of danger.

Look, I get it, I really do. Telling women that there are things they can do to prevent sexual assault seems like common sense, but it’s really not. I’m sure it’s well-intentioned advice, but it simply doesn’t stand up to logic: if women could prevent sexual assault, then we’d all prevent it and there’d be no sexual assault. It’s a no-brainer.

Telling women that if they don’t get drunk they’ll “dramatically reduce the likelihood” of being sexually assaulted is also telling them a massive lie: Women are at more risk in their own homes, from men they know, than they are from someone they meet while drunk.

We’ve been telling women for an awfully long time not to get themselves raped and yet, men are still raping them. Could it be – gasp! – that this ‘women take responsibility for your actions/don’t make yourself vulnerable’ message is utter bollocks?

Freedman’s article perpetuates pretty much all of the rape myths – that rapists are creepy dudes in dark alleys, that she was asking for it by drinking too much, that guys can’t control their urges and roam the streets looking for victims, that nice sober girls don’t get raped, that it’s not rape unless she tries to run away – and she would know this by now. I mean, it’s not like it hasn’t been pointed out to her before. By hundreds of people.

Let me be clear: sexual assault is never the fault of the victim… But teaching girls how to reduce their risk of sexual assault is not the same thing as victim blaming. It’s not. And we must stop confusing the two.

Now Mia, I know you’ve learned the term “victim blaming” but you haven’t learned what it means. It’s like the time I thought “reactionary” meant someone who reacted to things. Boy, was I embarrassed when I discovered it meant someone who opposes political/social progress. If we teach girls that they can reduce their risk of sexual assault by not getting drunk, and then they go out and get drunk and someone assaults them, then what? It means that if she didn’t get drunk then it wouldn’t have happened, right? That means she’s kinda responsible for what happened, right? Hello, victim blaming! You can’t possibly say in one breath that “sexual assault is never the fault of the victim” and then in the next breath suggest that something she did caused the assault. That seems pretty bloody obvious to me. Some might say it was common sense.

Will I also teach my sons about this connection between alcohol and sexual assault? Sure. I will teach them that binge drinking will obliterate their ability to make good decisions – about getting into cars, getting into fights and having sex.

Hopefully you will also talk to your sons about not being rapists, since 93 per cent of offenders are male. As Carina Kolodny writes, you need to have the “don’t rape” conversation with your sons “because so many parents have thought they didn’t need to and so many people have suffered because of it”.

Somehow, in some quarters, the right to get wasted has become a feminist issue and this troubles me greatly.

I haven’t seen any feminist argue that the “right to get wasted” is a feminist issue. Fighting myths that give rapists excuses, now that’s a feminist issue.

Freedman then mentions the study that was in Emily Yoffe’s piece that “almost 20 per cent of college women will become victims, overwhelmingly of a fellow classmate. More than 80 percent of campus sexual assaults involve alcohol”.

So, what you’re saying is that a large number of college guys are sexually assaulting their female classmates. And they think it’s ok to rape someone if she’s drunk. That shit is scary, but no no Mia, you should continue to use your privileged position in our society to suggest that it’s women who are the problem here.

This is not an issue of morality. If you want to have casual sex, go for it. Safely. Just make sure it’s your decision and one you’re still comfortable with the next day.

You know, I’m gonna give Freedman the benefit of the doubt here and believe that she’s not suggesting that rape is the same as sex you might regret.

Here’s what you are responsible for when you get drunk: your hangover; losing your phone; falling over and smashing your knee; spending too much money on booze. Here’s what you are not responsible for when you get drunk: someone else commiting a crime. To suggest you are responsible for that is just ridiculous. So I’m gonna repeat the point I made earlier: if women WERE actually able to prevent sexual assault, there’d be no sexual assault. Ever. There’s your fucking common sense, Mia.

50 responses to “Today in ‘What Mia Freedman has done now’

  1. Mia Freedman is Australia’s number 1 counter-revolutionary, preventing sensible debate while claiming to foster debate.

  2. I wrote about this subject today too (http://krjourno.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/why-is-the-onus-on-a-woman-to-not-get-raped/), but not about Mia, because I try to avoid reading her work when I’m… Well, actually, at any time.

    Do women need to stay safe? Yes, but as I wrote, that’s because it’s a necessity- the onus should NOT be on me avoiding rape.

    • I try to avoid her posts as well, but she’s popped up in my timeline twice this week and I just couldn’t leave it alone.

      Love your post:

      Here’s a novel idea: if young college men can’t drink without becoming rapists, then perhaps we need articles telling them to not drink.

      Hell yes!

      The logic fail that allows people like Freedman and Yoffe to say it’s not victim blaming but if you get drunk then you’re making yourself vulnerable is just astounding.

  3. I love your writing, I really do. The damage MF’s attitude causes, fills me with rage and tears, can’t bear that the conversation about rape culture and victim-blaming still needs to be explained, slowly in dot points, to people. But then the (taboo wtf?) conversation gets highjacked by the damaging, DUMB attitude that all it takes for women to not get raped is to not drink.

    And feminism = getting wasted. Oh thank god I know that now. Off to the pub to get my PHD in Women’s Studies. BRB.

    Oh, and her swipe about ‘not having daughters so can’t possibly understand’… not worth responding to.

    • Urgh, yes, that comment about how young women can’t possibly understand but she’s talking from a position of care, of love, because she’s a mother. Condescending nonsense.

      You know, I can see a positive in all this. So many people are talking about this – women and men – and about how Freedman is wrong. So that’s a good thing.

  4. Love this!! Especially love the way you completely nail the transition from ‘never the victim’s fault’ to ‘if you weren’t drunk it wouldn’t have happened’. Saying it’s ‘never the victim’s fault’ is de rigeur but it never seems to lead to the logical conclusion of focusing on the perpetrators (who are people: not raging unstoppable hormonal cyclones, but people who respond to changed circumstances and should therefore be the target of this will to change). Keeping this for use next time someone tries to use that crap.

  5. So well written. I hadn’t even read the MM piece, but now have, then re-read this, and it was even better the second time. Thank you.

  6. Somewhere back in my feminist studies days I seem to recall that the statistical probablilty of being raped decreases as women age. And perhaps the statistical probablilty of being raped varies with drinking as well. But no-one seems to suggest that age is a “causal” factor that women should do something about.

    • You know, you never hear about women being sexual assaulted while they’re parachuting, so to “dramatically reduce the likelihood” of being assaulted, we should just parachute all the time.

  7. Great summary newswithnipples, really helps drive home the fact that a rapist is entirely responsible for an act of rape. We could all steal something from an unmanned roadside stall but it’s not the fault of the owner for putting goods out there for sale. (not the perfect parallel but I’ll try and think of one!) I’d like to send your article to a few friends. Before I do so, can I please check, did you mean to say: “no no Mia, you should NOT continue to use your …” in the 4th last para. Cheers, Liz O’Dea  

    ________________________________

  8. “Sure. I will teach them that binge drinking will obliterate their ability to make good decisions – about getting into cars, getting into fights and having sex.”

    Oh dear, not that old chestnut. Though I was *never* a binge drinker (at least not by today’s standards) but I certainly got pretty darned drunk on more than one occasion as a younger man. Yet in none of those moments did I *ever* think it might be a good idea to try & force a woman to have sex with me. “I was ‘drunk’” is just another pathetic excuse used by people who think they don’t require a persons permission to have sex with them.

    • Or “she was drunk” means that it’s somehow ok to rape a person. I just don’t understand that, at all. I suspect that the particular type of guy who is only interested in it being “not rape” is also a really really rubbish root.

      Marcus, welcome to the News with Nipples.

  9. Someone quite rightly said that it’s like blaming the pedestrian for getting hit by a drunk driver.

  10. Thank you for writing this.
    It’s so frustrating seeing this type of “It’s not her fault, but if she didn’t do x it wouldn’t have happened.” bollocks being repeated in public over and over again.

    • It is very frustrating, but each time it happens and we point out, very loudly, that it’s rubbish, it feels like we’re chipping away at it a little bit more. It takes a lot of time to change attitudes.

      AgathaDarling, welcome to the News with Nipples.

  11. bypassing the rage vent cos you took her down for me :D excellent piece as usual, and so effectively pins down the logical flaws in her clickbait. That combined with the Yoffe piece this week. FFS – why do we keep having to have this conversation? HaT has a good piece on this too :)

  12. I had an interesting discussion with someone who could not initially understand why a straightforward statement of fact like ‘People will probably come to less harm if they don’t get extremely drunk’ was in fact totally loaded with undercurrents, cultural expectations, if-that-then-this logical follow-through, and that the target of such words was also a too-limited, too-targeted-at-women audience.
    As far as this person was concerned, it had not occurred to them that words could be interpreted in any other way than just the absolute literal. And not by any means a stupid person, just a literal one.

    However, the moral to this story was that with merely one detailed explanation, Literal Person could understand why these messages are problematic.

  13. Reblogged this on opposehumantrafficking and commented:
    Another well articulated and honest article from a brilliant writer and feminist advocate. “It is crucial we educate women on the link between alcohol and sexual assault.” Women are not put on this earth to police rapist’s behaviour. It’s pretty fucking simple: educate people to not rape other people.

  14. Newsflash. There are countries where women are covered top to toe in public places, not allowed out without a male companion and alcohol is illegal. They still get raped.
    The feminist right to get drunk? Way to miss the point.
    Freedmans one of those people all for human rights for women WITH conditions. Conditions that don’t apply to men.

  15. Very well written and kudos for keeping me entertained for 36 seconds. Yes, I did click to see nipples. That being said and admitting to the fact that (if not yet obvious) I am your average healthy male, I’d like to offer, having 12 years of college and the prerequisite attendance to thousands of campus functions, sanctioned or otherwise, she’s right. Now, before I get sucked into a language vortex, let me add that I have seen literally 10,000 women successfully enjoying themselves at various campus functions and returning home unscathed. It’s that incidental issue that ruins the curve. The one who spills the hot coffee in her lap. C’mon people… percentages! Sure, there are some less than savory men lurking about, but women ARE much safer staying at home watching a movie. Tru dat!

    • So Daryl, I notice that you haven’t mentioned the people who are actually responsible for the crime: those men who rape and sexually assault women. They are the ones we should be directing our “change your behaviour” message to, because that’s the only way we can prevent rape.

  16. While it is accepted as a myth that men can’t control their urges, it’s not a myth that men roam the streets in search of victims. They do do that.

    • Hi Linda – I’m sure you won’t be the least bit surprised about this – but I disagree. Yes, there are some men who do that, but not all men. Don’t buy into the rape myth about the boogey man lurking in the shadows.

      • I’m sure you know that I am well informed about rape stats and sexual violence generally, so you should know that I don’t buy into the bogey man/ stranger rape trope. That’s just insulting. I know that these rapes represent a fraction of rape stats. However, men DO prey on us and it does not matter that it is not all men who do it, because enough do it to keep us in fear. I don’t even just mean the men like Adrian Bailey, who raped and murdered Jill Meagher, or John Travers, one of the men who raped and murdered Anita Cobby, or the man who recently approached my 23 year old daughter at a suburban train station at 10 PM and through clenched teeth snarled at her to “stand up” before proceeding to attempt to frog march her on to the train with him (thank goddesses a guard suddenly appeared and detained him before calling police). I don’t even mean those guys, who most certainly do fall into the “bogey man in the alleyway” category, who absolutely DO “roam the streets in search of victims”.
        There is a whole other culture of predation out there that is completely normalised through entertainment media and popular culture. Men roam the bars and the clubs and the parties in search of women who are drunk and/or alone and vulnerable. This is not a secret, Kim. They write books and run classes to help each other learn the skills to do this shit. I am actually aghast that you would write a post addressing rape myths and insisting people like Freedman hold men accountable for rape, but then flat out deny that men prey on us. I didn’t even say that ALL men do this, I said “men do do that”; it doesn’t need a disclaimer. They do it; that’s a fact. If you can’t accept this you really should not be writing on the subject.

        • Sorry Linda, I assumed you meant all men, based on your previous comments here. That is my mistake. But I didn’t “flat out deny that men prey on us”. I did nothing of the sort. I said that not all men do that.

          • Well you did. When I said “men do do that” and you said “I disagree” but whatever. I have never posted here that all men are predators; but I would have certainly pointed out that all men do benefit from the predation/violence/exploitation etc. of men generally. The “not all men” trope is nothing but apologism designed to humour and appease men, and it belongs in the myth bucket too, for that reason and also because clearly it’s making not an scrap of difference to the lives of women.

            • Linda, you can’t have it both ways. If “not all men” is a myth, then doesn’t it follow that all men are predators?

              Actually, it IS the actions of men that will make a difference to the lives of women. If we could fix it by ourselves, it would be fixed by now.

  17. Here are two more great pieces about this:

    Van Badham in the Guardian: How not to raise a rapist:

    Contrary to popular belief, feminists do not believe that all men are rapists, but rapists do: studies have shown that men who do rape women are convinced that all other men share their woman-hating values and enact the same violent behaviours. Rapists read the denigration and disrespect of women in media, literature and public discourse as both cues for rape behaviour and also social acceptance of it.

    Jenna Price in the Canberra Times: Sexual assault, too often, begins in the home:

    I spoke to three women who are experts in this area: Karen Willis, executive officer of the NSW Rape Crisis Centre; Patricia Easteal, AM, a professor of law at the University of Canberra; and Louse McOrmond-Plummer, a sexual assault survivor and author. She was the one whose rapist turned into a murderer.

    Not one of these women said alcohol played a significant part in sexual violence. In fact, they agreed it was not a significant risk.

  18. Apologies for the repost of the guardian piece – feel free to delete that. Also – I read this article today about “well, no, alcohol and rape aren’t actually that clearly related” – useful! http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/10/29/2844951/link-alcohol-sexual-assault/

  19. I was raped by a guy who invited me to a party. When I arrived it was just him and me. I was a minor then. There was no alcohol. I trusted the guy. He was a friend from school.
    I despise that I am categorised to be ‘prey’ under certain circumstances. I am sick and tired of living in fear it could happen to me again.

    • This is so so awful and I hope you’re ok now. Thank you for talking about it. I can’t imagine how it must feel after a week of public discussion, and I hope I haven’t made it worse.

      Michaela, welcome to the News with Nipples.

  20. Hi, newswithnipples!
    I’d be interested to see what your take on this “TEACH THEM NOT TO RAPE! video is – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1T0GcHM0s4o
    It’s of the same opinion of Mia Freedman but I think the youtuber’s argument is much stronger and persuasive in delivery.

    • Sorry Megs, I stopped watching when he started talking about locking the front door. His whole “yes we do teach young men not to rape” line is rubbish. The study cited in the Yoffe and Freedman articles as evidence of their argument actually shows that young men think it’s fine to have sex with someone who is unconscious, and my guess is it’s because they don’t think it is rape. That it’s only rape if she’s yelling “no”.

  21. Pingback: The Dangers Of Victim Blaming | The Colosseum

  22. This comment was posted on that youtube site. I think it makes an effective point.
    “I asked a man not to rape me and he immediately quit everything he was doing. He put my purse and keys on the ground, quit banging on my truck window with a rock, he even put his pants on and he left. I then got out of my truck, grabbed my keys and purse off the ground, started my truck, put my gun away and drove off.”

    My question is… how soon can I pull out my gun?

    And imagine a world where men posted endlessly on line about their fear that woman might shoot them if their conversational and physical approach was anything less than respectful. That they had to consider everything they said and did carefully, lest they provoke a de jure lethal response by being judged to have been flirty or provocatively attired, a bit drunk, or ambiguous. Imagine that.

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