11 Apr 2007, Comments Off on I blame the Patriarch

I blame the Patriarch

Author: Helen

Werribee, Sydney, Byron Bay. Is gang rape on the increase or is it just being reported more?

I’m throwing that question out, because I don’t know. Any criminologists in the house? Anyway, there’s something old and something new here. What’s new: the practice of filming the rape using your mobile and then sending the video to all your mates at school.

What’s old: the practice of (1) holding the victim responsible for the boys’ behaviour– being in the “wrong place”, for being drunk, for wearing supposedly provocative clothes, and so on, while, on the other hand, boys are simply animal creatures at the mercy of their lustful nature who can’t possibly be expected to restrain themselves; and (2) that the solution is to constrain women further, so that we’re de facto restricted in where we go, what time we go there, and what we wear.

And then we’re supposed to believe it’s only Muslims who have a problem with the status of women.

These views are embedded deep, deep in mainstream thinking. And there’s a correlating world view among older people that the youth are a savage breed, possibly much more so than ever before, and it’s the dangerous youth which create this dangerous environment. But wait a minute. Where do these teenagers get their sense of male entitlement and misogynistic culture from?

There were angry scenes outside the courthouse yesterday, and the grandfather of one of the accused boys questioned whether the incident was a case of rape.

“Stupid, yeah, but they do it, [film] everything, they bash people, they’re used to stupid things. Was she drunk? Prove it,” the man told Channel Seven.

This dickhead is an extreme example, of course, but it illustrates how older people enable and excuse this kind of behaviour, because it feeds into the extremely primitive and caricatured “evo-psych” interpretation of gender that pervades society. And it’s not just the men. The grandmother and mother of these shits will be whispering, “well, she asked for it, didn’t she.”

Because, while all the teenagers were underage drinking – which isn’t good — only the female teenager was deemed, somehow,by that fact, to have put her hand up for gang rape. We need to start pushing this amazing new concept: The boys are responsible. Teach them to be responsible.

It’s pointless to just complain about kids out of control, unless we can put some kind of education in place to counter this kind of stupidity. The Australia Says No campaign is a sign that policy makers are starting to realise this (although these mouth-breathers don’t seem to have internalised the message). But it’s not just the kids. We have to do something about their enabling, excusing, toxic older people.

Comments (0)

  • Gigglewick says:

    Sorry to say this, but I think it is being reported more – both by victims and by the media. The problem with this trend (although positive in some respects) is that it allows those old lines about what is acceptable treatment of women (the “she asked for it”/”look what she’s wearing”/”she’s a slut anyway” brigade) to get air-time as legitimate observations on a legal case.

    There was a front page story on one of the 15 local papers I read for my work which suggested (the police, mind you) that young women ought to take more care walking home at night, because it’s “only a matter of time before some one gets raped”. I take issue with this, because surely the message should be “don’t rape women” not “women: don’t get raped”? (subsequently, both the Centre Against Sexual Assault and a Women’s Health Worker have made exactly this point).

    As a mother of a boy, I will be the leader in teaching him respect for women – and regardless of the circumstances there is never any excuse for rape…I would be in the car driving my son to the police station myself if I knew that he had been responsible for such a crime.

    I know to some people that’s going to make me seem like some kind of fundamentalist about feminism and somehow disloyal to my child. But admitting that my child is capable of something like this doesn’t mean I don’t love him – you can be horrified about the actions of your children and still love them. And that’s where the difference lies in the case you describe – perhaps these parents can’t find it in their hearts to love some one capable of such a thing, so their solution is to deny any responsibility on behalf of their children.

    Well, that’s my two cents anyway.

  • Helen says:

    Sorry to say this, but I think it is being reported more – both by victims and by the media.

    I saw what you meant by the end of the paragraph, but looking on the bright side, it’s better than the alternative – that the actual incidence is rising.

    (Or, unfortunately, it could be both).

    There was a front page story on one of the 15 local papers I read for my work which suggested (the police, mind you) that young women ought to take more care walking home at night, because it’s “only a matter of time before some one gets raped”. I take issue with this, because surely the message should be “don’t rape women” not “women: don’t get raped”?

    Exactly, and this point needs to be made again and again. US bloggers are all over this topic, and also make the point that it’s misandrist as well, to make out that men are basically animals who can’t adopt civil behaviour unless kept in check.. by women.

  • Ariel says:

    Great post, and interesting comments. I agree with Gigglewick and Helen wholeheartedly (of course) – the message needs to be aimed at the boys and their behaviour, not the girls. Gang rape is about power and male bonding (inexplicably awful male bonding). It’s also a consequence of a mindset that sees women as objects, not people. I read a suggestion somewhere that the new video aspect reflects the influence of reality TV programs like Big Brother (it mentioned the turkey slapping). Coincidentally, I just finished reading a Joan Didion book that included a chapter on a gang of schoolboys in a downwardly mobile California suburb and their indictment for a series of sexual assaults – not gang rapes, but still group events (boys scored points and swapped stories). The group mentality behind it and the reactions of parents and fellow inhabitants of the suburb (defensive on behalf of their boys) reminded me a lot of Werribee. It’s misguided self-defence, I guess – an inability to believe that their boys – and hence they – did anything wrong. I wish more of these so-called responsible adults thought like you Gigglewick – it’s not helping your child to excuse behaviour and attitudes like that.

  • […] Cast-Iron Helen doesn’t know whether gang rape is on the increase, but is sure that there’s nothing new about parents and grandparents licensing the practice and blaming the victim. […]

  • QuietStorm says:

    Love your blog, Helen. Great reading. I still giggle every time I read the School Fundraiser’s Mantra.

    Every time I read about the “girls should be more careful” excuse, I pull out the link to the immortal I Am Not My Cock post over at The Talent Show. It’s a great summary of where exactly the responsibility for rape lies and why the “men can’t help themselves” brigade should STFU.

  • Helen says:

    Sorry about that spaminator, QS.

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