Hiding in Plain Sight

There’s a lot of good discussion floating around the blogosphere right now about college-age rapists. I don’t have anything additional interesting to add. I’m still kind of processing it. I’ll admit, my idea of the “typical” college rapist has been the guy who has too much to drink and doesn’t take into consideration the willingness (or even ability of) the woman he’s with to consent.

So, I have been thinking that the strategy is to make these men understand the importance of considering the other person you’re with and her wants and needs. I’ve been willing to believe that most acquaintance rapes are based on just a profound not-getting-it on the part of the perpetrator. I have been willing to concede the basic set up–two people get drunk, things go too far, a horrible mistake is made–while insisting that the responsibility for the “mistake” fall on the person having sense with a non-consenting partner.

But I have been wrong. What this study shows, in part, is that rapists count on the fact that most people think of acquaintance rape as a drunken mistake kind of made  by two people–sure, he should have made more of an effort to make sure she was into it, but shouldn’t she have not been so drunk?–to shield them from detection while they operate, repeatedly. Nine out of ten rapes on college campuses are committed by repeat offenders.

Holy shit.

Another part of their strategy for evading detection is to make it seem like all guys share their beliefs or would do what they do, if only they had the chance.  They count on “boys will be boys” to, again, shield them from detection. (Which means that “no means no” campaigns are, in fact, effective, though not for the reasons they seem. They may not give rapists pause, but they educate the people who would otherwise provide rapists social cover.)

I guess I should have known this but it’s blown my mind.

They work the system. Deliberately. And they count on their charm and social mores to a.) shield them from detection as serial rapists and b.) to funnel more victims to them.

Again. Holy shit.

And that’s why I love TigTog’s post. Even if you follow no other links in this post, please follow this one.  Because now that we know that these are not just semi-innocent fuck-ups on the part of clueless or clumsy men, but that appearing clueless or clumsy or whathaveyou is just their way of camouflaging themselves among actual clueless or clumsy men who would, nevertheless, NEVER rape someone, there are some strategies for dealing with them.

1. Stop giving them social cover.

2. Protect others from them.

Brilliant. I love it.

I also want to think some more about the fact that this type of rape seems to be very closely linked with forms of abuse–that these guys go on (or are already) to be physically abusive or sexually abusive to loved ones and family members.

But, on the surface, it makes sense. They groom their victims, in a way, and they for sure have figured out how to socially isolate their victims; often everyone does think it’s all the woman’s fault or she’s brought it on herself.

These guys are not just serial rapists; they are serial abusers, it seems. But it’s harder to recognize because they don’t have a small number of ongoing victims. They have a large number of brief victims. But the MO otherwise is very similar.

Interesting.

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34 thoughts on “Hiding in Plain Sight

  1. my idea of the “typical” college rapist has been the guy who has too much to drink and doesn’t take into consideration the willingness (or even ability of) the woman he’s with to consent.

    So you’re saying that you went to a college without fraternities.

  2. Where I went to school, it was understood that women who went to frat parties were considered fair game by the frat boys. And that the guys would work at getting any woman who attracted them drunk enough not to protest against sex. I knew and was friends with a number of frat boys, but I noticed that they would never discuss what went on at those parties. Some of them didn’t even attend the parties themselves, they disliked it all so much.

  3. Where I went to school, it was understood that women who went to frat parties were considered fair game by the frat boys.

    Well, take comfort in knowing it’s not like that everywhere. My fraternity threw great parties but ALL involved a designated sober brother who, among other things (such as taking car keys from anybody who had too much), would even walk female party attendees back to their dorms to ensure they made it safely.

    I can assure you with absolute certainty that not a single one of the brothers while I attended would ever even begin to consider raping a woman (or a man for that matter). Actually, there was maybe one who I could conceive of doing so but we actually kicked him out about a year after we brought him in.

  4. Dolphin, I’m sure you would never be friends with anyone who would rape a person. I’m confident that the frat guys who were my friends would never have done so, either. But they mostly ended up moving out of the houses; it wasn’t that such things didn’t go on, it was that such things did go on and my friends didn’t like it. But that the frat houses were places where women routinely got raped was pretty well known. (Except that that was so long ago that there wasn’t a consensus that it was rape, and none of the guys who moved out of the houses ever bothered doing anything to try to stop things either.) A few years after I was there, the university closed the frat houses down, but sadly after about a decade or so they were allowed to reopen.

  5. While we’re all focusing on the college campus aspect of all of this, it should be noted that there is a heavy saturation of these predatory types in the rave scene, or whatever the hell they’re calling it these days. Stereotyping fraternity members is unhelpful and probably somewhat outdated. As Dolphin points out, the problem has been ongoing in that community for a long enough period of time that the social remedies are ready to hand.

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  7. I belief that what your describing absolutely happened at your school and many others (in fact, one of the frats at my school had a reputation for preying on the incoming freshmen girls), but I’m just trying to be sure to point out that that’s not all (or even most) fraternities. Greek life can be a really great activity for college students. Today’s fraternities and sororities generally each have a pet philanthropic cause that they raise money for, and most do various service projects throughout the year for the campus and surrounding community. Greek life can offer opportunities for college men and women to develop leadership skills, organizational and project management experience, networking opportunities, incentive for scholarship, etc, etc.

    I’m just saying not to paint with too broad a brush. The problem isn’t fraternities, the problem is with the men who perpetrate such acts. It’s arguable that the close-knit social nature of a fraternity could be attractive to those kinds of men, but it’s equally attractive those who would use that bond to better themselves and their community. When groups of like-minded people unite, they can be quite the force, but whether that force serves the greater good or is decidedly more nefarious is dependent on the type and caliber of the individuals who make up the group.

  8. I just want to reiterate that, if what this study suggests is right, we actually have a way of understanding what happens in frats like the one nm mentions–these predators bond together in order to give each other cover (especially if they can convince non-rapist guys to join and help normalize their behavior in order to lure women to them0–and what dolphin is talking about–in a fraternity where these rapists are not given cover, they either don’t act or they don’t join in the first place.

    They have strategies for committing rape and they will search out circumstances that make it easier.

    That, in some cases, those are fraternities are for the same reasons that fraternities can also thwart their behavior.

    And, like autoegocrat points out, we can see the same dynamic playing out at raves or other places where young rapists have figured out ways of quickly grooming their victims.

  9. Oh, I don’t mean to point at fraternities only, or at all fraternities, or anything like that. Any more than I would blame men as a group because some of them rape people and/or protect others who do. I was mostly just having fun with B saying “well, I never” about the idea that a college campus could harbor a group of men who protected each other in preying on women.

    I don’t think that the purpose of fraternities is rape. I do think that given the wrong leadership and lack of outside supervision, a fraternity, like any other group that has its own living space and its own subgroup culture, can become such a group. And I think that they tend to be attractive groups for bad guys for precisely that reason. Good leadership and good supervision weed out the bad apples, I’m sure.

    Now, about that bad habit of painting Greek slogans all over the sidewalks on campus….

  10. And, what’s worse, these ‘frats’ keep up their ‘network’ association to continue their shenanigans after graduation. Some folks call it the ‘good ole boy’ system.

    Skull and Bones is probably the worst, they cover for defense contractors that are involved in sex trafficking, but closer to home you can find ‘seven wood McPhee’ . for example, over at MTSU.

  11. The part that’s just totally creeping me out about this is that the serial rapists are targeting the women that don’t want to have sex with them-and passing up the willing women. It’s just making it so much more about power than sex.

  12. rheather, true! Very true. But I think that’s an important point to state, because, so often, people think that these guys have to resort to rape because they can’t get women otherwise. But no, they can get willing women. They are deliberately choosing to instead hunt unwilling women.

  13. If you really want to blow your mind, extrapolate this information to the larger general population. Men like this exist and “hunt” everywhere, not just college campuses. Overt violence gets one noticed. Manipulating and taking advantage of situations doesn’t. Add that to the continued attempts to shame any expression of female sexuality that doesn’t fit a nice patriarchal definition and voila! The vast majority of rapes are committed by people that have social contact with each other and the rest have familial contact. The tiny majority are the guys jumping out of bushes or like that whacky doctor they just caught.

  14. Who freaking cares if some fratboys don’t rape? What precise result does Dolfin expect that bit of information to accomplish?

    We do not measure the amount of racism in a culture by immediately shifting the focus of the conversation to the number of nice white people. When we are discussing the amount of previously disguised racism, a person TROLLING the thread shouting “but not all white people are racist” would be seen for the distraction-manipulation tactic that it is.

    HELLO.

  15. I’m sorry, that tactic makes me extremely angry. I am sick to death of people falling for it.

    Reasonable people measure the amount of harm by measuring the amount of HARM. They do not repeatedly insist that black people immediately acknowledge and pay homage to the nice white people who aren’t racist when in fact those nice white people are merely displaying the basic minimum for human decency.

    You don’t get a cookie for not discriminating against a person of color, and you don’t get points for not raping. That “nice guys” continually demand brownie points for displaying the bare minimum of human decency is beyond appalling. I am utterly disgusted. This is my contemptuous snarl: FUCK OFF. You are not behaving as an ally, you are behaving as a rapist apologist with all the subtlety of a con artist.

  16. Dolphin isn’t engaging in some trolling tactic. He’s not a con artist or a rape apologist. And there’s nothing to be gained from playing “if this were about black people…”

    This isn’t a safe space. People can come here and struggle awkwardly in ways that piss people off. They can defend their friends vehemently. And they can get called on it, which is why I hope Dolphin will read what you have to say and consider it.

    But don’t fucking come into my community acting like you know the dynamic and have the right to police my threads. it’s fucking insulting to me.

  17. Who freaking cares if some fratboys don’t rape? What precise result does Dolfin expect that bit of information to accomplish?

    Well, I hope it would allow us to develop a greater understanding of why some men do rape and maybe eventually lead us to helping prevent rapes in the future. Because if we assume fraternities are the cause of rapes when they are not, then all the time we spend trying to dissolve fraternities is time we’re NOT spending trying to solve the actual problems that lead to women being raped.

    Never did I ask you or anyone to “immediately acknowledge and pay homage” to fraternity men who do not rape, but rather simply to not accuse non-rapists of raping. If the goal is to reduce rape, I believe going after men who do not rape is the far greater distraction.

    And so far as your racial analogy goes, you’d better believe I’d object if B had opined “I’d thought modern racism was less invidious and tended to be much more incidental” and someone had responded “Clearly you’ve never met a white person.”

  18. Because if we assume fraternities are the cause of rapes when they are not, then all the time we spend trying to dissolve fraternities is time we’re NOT spending trying to solve the actual problems that lead to women being raped.

    This.

  19. Dolphin, no one assumed that fraternities are the cause of rape. I pointed out that fraternities are often — often enough to be something of a byword on many college campuses — the home of rape, and that’s a very different thing. Don’t put words in my mouth, please.

  20. nm, I don’t think I said that you did. What you did say was that had B attended a college with fraternities, she would have not envisioned “the ‘typical’ college rapist has been the guy who has too much to drink and doesn’t take into consideration the willingness (or even ability of) the woman he’s with to consent.” To me, there’s a strong implication that fraternities MUST contain men who are deliberate rapists (even if not all fraternity members are rapists and not all rapists are fraternity members).

    It was an assertion that I took to be at least somewhat tongue-in-cheek coming from you because I have read you long enough and respect you enough to doubt that you’d actually be making that argument. In fact, had it been an assortment of the regular commenters here sitting around the dinner table chatting, I likely wouldn’t have given it a second thought.

    My point in responding was that there are numerous folks out there who DO buy into just that stereotype and as autoegocrat said, “Stereotyping fraternity members is unhelpful and probably somewhat outdated.”

  21. I don’t see that as the equivalent of saying “clearly you’ve never met a white person.” YMMV, and obviously does.

  22. I’m sensing some non-logic here. If, on the one hand, you are okay with people “coming here and wrangling with various issues” then you should be okay with people “coming here and wrangling with various issues”. LOL

    And one of those issues is how misogynists always use distraction techniques to shift the focus away from the harm suffered by the victim. The only thing you’re doing is trying to get me to be nicer to misogynists, and I’m not that much of a doormat. The analogy to racism is upsetting, only because it makes the point impossible to refute. Instead, you talk about “my tone” and if you could stand another analogy, consider that shifting the focus to “the tone of the angry black woman” is what racist fucks do all the time.

    http://theangryblackwoman.com/2008/02/12/the-privilege-of-politeness/

  23. I don’t give a shit if you’re polite. I give a shit about you trying to impose your rules for how the internet should work on my blog. You can disagree with Dolphin all you want. I’m saying, don’t disrespect me while you do it.

    As for whether it’s racist for me to shift the focus to “the tone of the angry black woman,” whatever. I’m not psychic. I didn’t know what race you are.

  24. it makes the point impossible to refute

    Except for the little fact that it’s already been refuted. I have already openly stated I would have said exactly the same thing had the discussion been about race and there was not the first shriek of horror or disgust from other commenters.

    You asked me a question so it’s my turn. What do YOU think you will accomplish by declaring non-rapists to be rpaists.

  25. Dolphin. When people want to find out why criminals murder, they focus the vast majority of their attention on the criminals. In the few instances where they bother to any study law-abiding citizens, it is only for the purposes of establishing a control group, and the focus immediately shifts back to the criminals and why the criminals are different from the control group.

    Your “reason” isn’t consistent with any other reseach methodology, so it’s kinda obvious you’re looking for excuses after I called you on your misognystic pattern of behavior. But I should thank you, because that crap has always bothered me and I finally figured out why.

    Go try that shit on a Black woman’s blog, if you think it’s such a legitimate “reason”. I guarantee you they will rip you a new fucking asshole — simply because when it comes to racism, people of color aren’t interested in protecting white supremacy in the same way women are brainwashed into protecting males.

    White feminists (and I include myself in this) have a tendancy to become quite defensive when our internalized racial prejudice is delineated, and the exact same can be said for internalized sexual bias. I don’t know how to make it easier, except perhaps to just first acknowledge that we all have internalized bias to some degree or another and since we all have it, then it shouldn’t be so fucking shocking when someone comes along and points it out.

    It’s probably not any consolation, but I see now why someone a long time ago labeled a particular comment of mine “racism” when in retrospecst my comment clearly displayed an internalized racial bias, and now I see that the reason I tried so hard to differentiate my internalized bias from “actual racism” was because of my defensiveness. All prejudice against people of color is racism. All prejudice against females is sexism. Do what I did, and stop being so defensive! :) But what Dolphin said did make me angry, and I have a right to be angry just as POC have a right to be angry. I see sexism every goddamn where — even on feminist blogs — and I’m fucking sick to death of it.

  26. Just to be clear, Dolphin’s comment said only: “not all frat boys are rapists”. That was his entire point, and it was so important for him that he get that point across, that he said it three times, in three different comments. Only when his bullshit was called out did he try to find a justification for saying it.

    Again, I dare you to go to a Black woman’s blog when she is discussing a previously disguised bit of racism and start shouting simply “but not all white people are racist”. We should be scientific about this, and measure your asshole before and after…

  27. She’s not only declaring non-rapists to be rapists, she’s decided that all men who are in fraternities are also misogynists.

    Apparently I married a rapist misogynist! NEWS TO ME. And here I not only recall him refusing to sleep with me when I’d had anything to drink because he didn’t want there to be any question of consent, but I also pretty clearly recall him being screamed at for refusing to run photos of a beauty pageant winner in our college newspaper because he thought pageants were degrading and said as much. That doesn’t seem like the behavior of a rapist or a misogynist, but he was in a fraternity, so I must be wrong!

    What a dumbass I am! Internet stranger, you are so right.

    All men who have ever been a part of a fraternal organization are rapists and misogynists, and if anyone’s experience differs from that, by all means they should keep their mouths shut. That’s EXACTLY how we’ll get to the bottom of figuring out why some men rape, who they choose to rape, and more importantly how we can prevent rape.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I guess I’m off to find an attorney.

  28. When people want to find out why criminals murder, they focus the vast majority of their attention on the criminals.

    Which is my point, I’m glad we’re in agreement.

    on your misognystic pattern of behavior.

    Let’s just say that what I said was the most misognystic statement ever to be made in the history of the written language. The fact is you’re responding to instance, the first time you ever met and and ayet are commenting on my “pattern of behavior.” It seems rather clear to me that you don’t even understand what’s going on in this one comment thread let alone are you in any place to judge patterns in my behavior.

    I see sexism every goddamn where

    This does not surprise me AT ALL. I’d guess that on occasion you even see it where it actually exists.

    it was so important for him that he get that point across, that he said it three times, in three different comments.

    Indeed, three comments between which others questioned, clarified their points and/or asked for clarification on mine. It’s called “conversation” and it’s this fascinating thing that happens when people actually listen to one another and respond instead of hearing only what they want and simply flying into a rage for the sake of being angry.

    Again, I dare you to go to a Black woman’s blog when she is discussing a previously disguised bit of racism and start shouting simply “but not all white people are racist”.

    Nice strawman. I wouldn’t do that (on a black woman’s blog or otherwise) nor have I done that here within the bounds of this discussion. As I said, if I read someone saying that all white people are racist (or that all black people like fried chicken), you’d better believe that I will object to that.

    This is my last response to you m Andrea. When you initially commented, I was concerned that something I said had been misunderstood. Seems pretty clear now that there wasn’t so much a misunderstanding as much as you simply came here angry, and when you couldnt’ find anything rational to rant about you just made up your own thing.

    So frankly, if you’re that determined to think I’m a rapist, a sexist, a racist, (or a homophobe, an ageist, an ableist, etc.) or whatever horrible bigotries you’ve decided describe me, more power to you. One thing I’ve learned in this world is there is always SOMEBODY out there who will hate you, so it’s best to only concern yourself with the opinions of those who matter to you, and random internet troll just doesn’t rank that high up on my list.

  29. Dolphin, you’re exhibiting sexism. Plain and simple. I called you on it, and presented evidence which you are still unable to refute and like assholes everywhere you again respond by trying to shift the focus from your misogynistic behavior to your assumptions regarding the status of my emotions.

    I suggest instead you reconsider your original expectations, which is that men deserve a cookie whenever they display the bare minimum of human decency. That expectation displays total disregard and disrespect for all women in general and rape victims in particular; and blog owner decides that’s just hunky dory but what’s apparently so awful is that I had the unmitigated gall to call a noble man on his utter bullshit.

    And THAT is internalized sexism, and I’m sorry you’re all so defensive about it. Perhaps in a few years you’ll look back and laugh, I know I did. :)

  30. I’m new here, so take this for what it’s worth….

    I had the same reaction to Dolphin’s comments that mAndrea did.

    I can assure you with absolute certainty that not a single one of the brothers while I attended would ever even begin to consider raping a woman (or a man for that matter).

    Really? You know–without a DOUBT–that none of your “brothers” ever even *thought* about raping someone?!

    Wow. I wish I had that awesome power of being able to read people’s minds….

    Dolphin–I politely suggest that you are deluded. And that your inability to even CONSIDER the idea that one of your friends could be a rapist is a big part of the problem in stopping sexual assault. It shows that you (and a lot of other people) still have this idea that they can “tell” if a person is a rapist.

    Unfortunately, rapists don’t glow in the dark or come in shades of green and purple….

    I highly recommend reading Rape Culture 101 over at Melissa McEwan’s blog, Shakesville. It can be very hard to see/admit how deeply complicit we all are in perpetuating a culture where rape is tolerated and excused–but doing so is the only way we are going to be able to change it.

    Regards,
    Doxy

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