Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Elevating victimhood above empowerment.

It appears that The Hive Mind continues to rediscover the "Man Trap", as it was first...introduced to me by David Codrea back in 2008.  And so I saw on Facebook, today:

The comment that went with it is just depressing:

I honestly think this is brilliant.

OMFG, how can one even begin to address that?  The failure to see reality in its proper context is nearly absolute.

Nonetheless, I try:

Only a society which elevates victimhood above empowerment could see anything but disaster in this sort of thinking. 

The only value such a device could possibly have is a puerile and hypothetical sense of revenge.  And it would seem to require some demonstrable effort to be more short-sighted in strategy.  Consider that it does absolutely nothing about the actual crime of rape:  by the time this device comes into play, the critical crime of domination has already been committed, and cannot be undone.  Or has all the effort to educate people that rape is not about penetration, but about domination, been nothing more than idle bluster?

And--this seems so self-evident that it feels ridiculous to say it out loud--what does anyone think actually happens when an attacker completes his crime of violent domination, and finds out that he has been (passively) disfigured by his victim, who is still right there in his very hands?  As David Codrea said about this thing back in 2008, "Well, this is going to get someone killed.  I wonder if they indemnify against a violent revenge reaction?"

It absolutely stuns me that any woman would choose this as a premeditated strategy against rape, over something--anything--that has even a shred of actual empowerment in it. 

We'll see, I guess.  Maybe I should just shut up and let those who wish it, to choose the life of prey for themselves.  I like to tell myself that I would do exactly that, but for the fact that these same people almost invariably presume to control my life too--precipitating at least some sort of response. But maybe I'm kidding myself about that.

UPDATE:  The following exchange, names replaced as a courtesy.

[J]:  Hm. I'm not sure, Kevin, that this device is not actually empowering. Obviously, one hopes that it would never need to serve its purpose. However, if a woman is attacked, I think this device may accomplish a couple of things: 1. Prevent skin to skin contact in the most vulnerable of places - a last defense or shield, if you will . If someone is attacking you, a shield - with spikes or whatever you've got - might feel like protective armor that helps a woman in her reaction and recovery process. He didn't 'get to me.' 2. If the rapist has to go to an emergency room to have this removed, he will be identified. There's no "I didn't do it." It's like a woman having handcuffs in your pants. Ha! That seems fairly empowering, too. 3. The description says nothing about this being 'disfiguring.' Painful, yes. I imagine the guy would be quickly 'immobilized' with pain and surprise and the woman would have an opportunity to get away while the guy is writhing. Again, ha! I can imagine it like a lizard shedding its tail when a predator grabs it. The predator is left holding the tail but the lizard gets away. In this case, the distressed rapist would be left with a "biting vagina" attached to him, while the woman runs away. Again, ha! This device sounds pretty empowering to me. In the last extreme moment of being dominated, a woman has one last tool to turn the tables and not only keep the man out of her, he also is wounded and marked with evidence of his crime.
[K] (not me):  desolee, living in a world where there is need for this kind of thing
[A]:  It doesn't surprise me at all that a woman would choose this as a premeditated strategy against rape, especially in a world where walking home, going to get water, doing anything puts her at risk of rape. It's shockingly common in South Africa. Shockingly. And men aren't preventing it....
[Me]:  Sorry [J], not having it. I don't accept that a woman should have to submit to the crime--the actual crimes of domination and battery and assault--before her last-ditch response becomes effective. Even if everything you say here were to work exactly as advertised, it STILL requires victimhood up front. This seems to me a terrible, horrible message to send to women.

Actual empowerment would instead involve being able to turn the attack off before it happens. Presuming an equivalence of scenario--that an attacker has managed to get through the same layers of alertness and shut off all the same avenues of escape--the skilled use of a defensive weapon is going to be a superior last-ditch strategy in every conceivable way. First and foremost, it makes possible the most desirable outcome of all--no completed attack, no bloodshed. An attacker suddenly confronted with a pistol, for example, is no longer in the driver's seat, and now has a choice to make. If the woman behind it is confident and resolute, most attackers call off the attack and run away like the opportunists they are--a result that is simply not going to happen with a passive instrument like the Rapex. On the flip-side, those few who do proceed against a weapon will not be turned aside by anything less than its effective use. And, while shots are never the desired outcome, they can be effective where absolutely nothing else would be.

One could examine the comparison further, but I think the point entire is made here. A woman's life and health is worth defending without having to submit to the assault first.
[Me][A], if you believe that one is not "at risk" everywhere, all the time, you are kidding yourself. The prudent recognize that "it" (whatever terrible thing "it" may be) can happen at any time, anywhere, in "good" places or in "bad" ones. Lament as much as you want that things are this way, but reality has never required our approval. In the end, all any of us can do is to learn to see "it" coming beforehand, and ultimately be prepared to meet "it" if we fail to avoid it first.

On the other hand, you're absolutely right that nobody is preventing forcible rape in any meaningful way in South Africa. Hell, offcialdom there simply dismisses the idea of armed self-defense entirely, taking the most effective option right out of the hands of the very people most in need of it.

Perhaps out of THAT absurdity comes the appeal of something like the Rapex. Still, I can't get past the appearance of misogynistic condescenscion in telling women that they can't use a means that just might prevent an attack entirely, but hey, if you're willing to submit first, here's a painful variation on marking paint...oh, and here's hoping your attacker isn't more the sodomy type.

My fervent hope is simply that, confronted with that reality, many women will simply go outside the law, treating it with all the same due respect that it treats their natural right of self-defense. (Fortunately, when things get bad enough, decent people often seem to do this very thing. It simply seems a shame that they should tolerate it for as long as they do.)
[A]:  Coupla thoughts: Yes, bad things can happen almost anywhere. Maybe absolutely anywhere. However, statistically, some places are riskier than others, and the reality of being a small woman (or a girl) is that one has to be very creative about how to protect oneself. That could include physical training in self-defense. Sure. But personally, I don't think that teaching jujitsu or martial arts/self-defense is as practical, nor any more empowering, than the Rapex device. I agree with Jen -- this is a pretty empowering item. Here in the USA, we market pepper spray, which is virtually useless, IMO.
[Me]:  Statistics would seem to matter less and less as the potential for harm goes up. When asked with a sneer, "Just how often do you think people get killed around here, anyway?" the classic rejoinder is "Same as anywhere. Just once." Sure, you try to stack the odds as best you understand them, but the more important consideration is that you realize you are never "safe", and you must be prepared mentally no matter what course you have chosen for yourself.

In general, people focus way too much on the tools and methods over the mindset, and not all methods are appropriate for all people, but it is absolutely true that the more people learn about what really happens in attacks, the more they tend to gravitate toward the skillful use of personal weapons as part of their personal security plan.

As to that: nearly thirty years of study into interpersonal attack and defense causes me to disagree totally about the efficacy, practicality, and empowerment of passive methods. Totally. It doesn't matter how many people with a political agenda try to say otherwise, and it doesn't matter how much anyone may wish it not to be so: successful self-determination is active, not passive. Piles and piles of case study are unambiguous on this. (So is the rest of the animal kingdom, at that.)

I'm not sure I could recommend a martial art like jiujitsu/karate/aikido as a primary plan, either. Aside entirely from the "every person is different and must make her own choice" consideration, every streetwise master of these arts I have come across, carries a pistol by preference. (Ignore that observation at your own risk.) It's something, of course, but without the right mindset it's vapor, just as a 45 caliber pistol without the right mindset is vapor.

All that aside, of course, each woman should have the unquestioned right to choose her methods for herself...and be responsible for their use. That so many are prohibited from freedom in this choice is the worst crime here.
[L]Kevin, I think you are missing the point. In your first comments you mention a woman having a gun for defense. That's not going to happen in the majority of cases. Likewise, women will not put that device up their vagina unless they predict being in the situation of needing it. But, at least they have it. I think the idea is brilliant - I just wonder if the description is for real. And the use of this is not "submitting to an assault" - women do not submit to an assault - they and other humans who are over powered are not submitting to assaults. Bullies on the school grounds do not prey on kids who submit. Those kids and the women who are victims are over powered - they do not submit.
[Me]:  Submission and consent are not the same thing, and I use the word "submit" quite deliberately here. I would be the last person to suggest that anyone somehow consents to an attack, but if you do not fight back against it effectively, you have rather by definition submitted to it.

And please don't mistake me here. My specific ire is against political systems that effectively require such submission by forcibly denying women available methods that actually have a chance of preventing the attack from proceeding in the first place, and that have a fighting chance of stopping the attack if it continues.

The pistol is one such method--proven, reliable, simple, and practical--and yet most political systems (absolutely including the RSA) would deny it to those who have greatest need. The Rapex, by comparison, absolutely cannot perform at the same level in a confrontation, physically or psychologically (even by definition), and somehow the powers that be don't seem to have a problem with that--yet. This edition of "what's wrong with this picture" would seem to be rather self-evident, but yet here we are.

You say "that's not going to happen in the majority of cases". Well hell, perhaps if women were not counseled from birth that they are incapable of using effective force to defend themselves at the moment of truth, maybe that would be different. It's still hard for me to believe that many women, themselves, not only believe that condescenscion (which is entirely BS, by the way) but even promote it to others.

And once again, this isn't to say that the gun is for everyone--only that any woman should be free to choose it without official or social harassment. And it's not a magic talisman, either. To be effective, the defensive pistol requires a commitment and a lifestyle change that not everyone is willing to make, but then it also provides a capacity that nothing else can match. (What surprises many who do make the commitment, is that it carries extra benefits they did not anticipate--chiefly, that the extra alertness and observation that comes from training to avoid trouble, usually results in seeing all sorts of wonderful things in the world they'd never known were there before.)

Personally, I think we should encourage the women of South Africa to look into the matter for themselves, without restriction and held responsible for their own outcomes just like any other free people, and just see what answers they come up with.


MamaLiberty said...

Sadly, the situation isn't really a whole lot different in places like Los Angeles or Washington DC... people are effectively coerced into remaining helpless against the predators - both in and out of political office.

Learned helplessness and acceptance of powerlessness are great evils, anywhere in the world. I wish I had a simple answer for it, but the bottom line is that each person - man or woman - eventually has to take responsibility for themselves and their safety. Or die.

But I'm not sure that death is the worst outcome here. The real enemies of life, peace and joy are pain, fear, helplessness and watching those you love endure these things without recourse to stop it.

A gun is, definitely, the most effective self defense weapon, and you are oh, so right to point out that the mental and emotional determination to use it actually makes that so. But I take my self defense students just a little beyond that point even. I take them on a tour of the house (or classroom) and we discuss just what other things might be used as a defensive weapon if it became necessary. They are always astonished to realize that they live surrounded by potential weapons, and that all it takes to use them is the same will and determination they need to use their guns.

The women of the world definitely need guns, but they need the empowerment of understanding their own self worth, and to responsibility for their own and loved one's lives before they could use them. I wish I knew how to make that happen in South Africa, or lots of other places.

Anonymous said...

Submit is the wrong word; they succumb to it.

Kevin Wilmeth said...

Anon, if you intend some sort of substantive point with that, then by all means let's hear it. Until then, it sounds like you're splitting hairs at the expense of the point.

And even upon consideration: no, I meant submit. If that's a less polite, more uncomfortable way of putting it, so much the better. I'm not advocating a change in clothing brands here; if someone actually needs to consider the point I'm making, they probably need to confront it.

Anonymous said...

You need a dictionary. I'd post the difference between "submit" and "succumb" for you, but if you're that lazy, it's just not worth my time.

Kevin Wilmeth said...

Okay, so no substantive point then. Fair enough; substance does, after all, require effort.

Paul Bonneau said...

When I see this sort of thing, I just think about Darwin. If people honestly cannot see the problems with this, and look at it as a solution, or as preferable to real defense, then they deserve what they get.

That's not to say it is not worth the effort to point out the problems, for those too dense to figure it out themselves. Maybe a few will learn.

Anonymous said...

One does not need to be excessively and annoying verbose to make a point. Some of us value the succinct.

Kevin Wilmeth said...

You just go right on not making any sort of substantive point.

Happy trolling!