Home > Rayne > “All men are potential rapists” breeds fear and mistrust. Not caution.

“All men are potential rapists” breeds fear and mistrust. Not caution.

January 31st, 2010

Okay enough of this passive-aggressive, “commenting on this phrase without really saying what I feel” bullshit.  This post might be offensive.  It might cost me readers.  But to be perfectly honest, I don’t care.  I’m not tiptoeing around this shit anymore.  If you can’t handle my opinion, belly up to the bar and put your money where your mouth is.  Cause this “Women should be paranoid.” shit is driving me up a fucking wall.

Women, and especially victims, have enough issues to deal with without fearing every known or unknown man in their lives.

To be perfectly honest with you, I’ve lost count of how many times I was raped.  My ex used to rape me any time I wasn’t interested in sex.  I was almost raped by a stranger I took a ride from, but I managed to escape.  A couple Johns who didn’t want to pay.  My fiance’s roommate when I stopped by his house to give him a ride to pick up his prescription on Halloween.

I was never really afraid.  Somehow, I knew I’d get through it mostly unharmed.  And I always did.  Mentally and physically.  I maybe spent one or two days moping, and then I picked myself up, shook it off and moved on with my life.

No group sessions, or rape counselors, or repeating over and over exactly what happened to anyone who would listen.  Matter of fact, there are quite a few things no one, except me and the people who did them to me, knows about.  Not because I’ve blocked them out or haven’t dealt with them.  But because I don’t see the point in sharing them.  I don’t need a “poor baby”, or a pat on the back, or someone to understand me, or empathize with me, or tell me they know what I’m going through.  I’ve been getting along just fine without any of that, and I plan to continue to get along just fine without it.

At least half of the times I was raped were my own fault.  You’re god damn right, that’s victim blaming.  Because the victim is partially to blame in my case.  Because I intentionally put myself in harm’s way.  I got in cars with strangers in bad neighborhoods, and went home alone with shady characters, and went to parties that I knew would only have one or two other girls there, and stayed with a man who I knew would have let me walk away if I wanted to without lifting a finger to me or his children.  Probably would have even sent me away with body guards if I asked him to.  Though that’s mostly cause then he could keep tabs on me.

I completely agree we should be teaching victims caution.  But teaching them to fear every man? 

I was molested by my female cousins when I was little.  As in, I actually said no, asked them to stop touching me, and they wouldn’t.  My cousins were both teenagers.  One, at least, was over eighteen.  I can’t remember how old the other was.  I’m not sure I’ve ever told anyone that.

I was raped by a couple I eventually let move into my house because I was afraid that if I didn’t, I would be alone.  It was the woman’s idea, and she was in complete control of the situation.  They raped me before I let them move in.  I continued having sex and maintaining a mostly amicable relationship with them both for quite some time after that. I finally kicked them out of my house when she hit me for not taking care of her child when she was watching television five feet away, and I was sleeping.

I’m not sure I’ve ever been honest with anyone about how that “friendship” really began either.  I just never really saw the point.

So I’m a female and I was raped.  Does that qualify me, at least, for this debate, since taking offense to this phrase doesn’t seem to qualify any men? Well, I’m gonna weigh in anyway.

Telling a victim “Every man is a potential rapist.” breeds fear and mistrust, not caution.

It’s like saying, “Some day, you might meet someone you can trust, and you’ll be able to live a normal life, but in the meantime, don’t trust anyone.” only you’re leaving the “some day” part out and just saying “Don’t trust anyone.”  Well, anyone male, anyway.  Which just cracks me the fuck up because while you’re hating on misogyny, you’re doing the exact same thing in the opposite direction.  Being raped, or trying to help someone who was raped, doesn’t excuse away misandrist* propaganda.  And I can’t understand how such intelligent women are allowing themselves to become part of the ignorance that pushes this propaganda on frightened and confused victims.

Because most of you are extremely intelligent women.

If we are really trying to teach women caution, we should be telling them to travel in mixed groups of trusted friends, and try not to get left alone with anyone in a seemingly private area.  Don’t go to shady places alone.  Don’t take rides from any strangers.

Carry mace or pepper spray if it’s legal where you live.  Take a self defense class.  Get to know the people you call friends, but not in that creepy, stalkerish kind of way.  If you feel the need, arm yourself, but know that it’s probably better you don’t.  Especially if you’re still healing and unsure of your mental state.  You wouldn’t want to misunderstand a situation and accidentally stab someone.  Better to burn their eyes out of their sockets instead.  Trust me, it will get your point across.  🙂

How do I know? I’ve been both maced and pepper sprayed before.  It stings like a mother fucker.

But above all? Trust your gut.  Leave when you think things are getting weird.  Even if you don’t have a ride.  Buy one of the many gadgets said to give you instant cell battery and amplify service.  And program your local non-emergency dispatch number into your phone.  That way, if you’re feeling skittish and need to let someone know where you are, you’ll be helped, but you won’t tie up emergency personnel if there’s not an emergency.  But trust your gut about that, too! If your gut says it’s an emergency, by all means, call 911.

But that won’t be necessary, because you’re going to always travel in mixed groups of trusted friends, right? I mean, think of the money you’ll all save on gas if you just go in one car.  Not to mention you’ll only be subjecting the ozone to the emissions from one car.

And I realize that, in some cases, that’s not practical.  Like when you’re going to work.  But if you’re working odd hours, or you’re uncomfortable walking from your car to your job alone, arrange to meet a trusted coworker at your job at a certain time, park close to each other, and walk in together.  And ask someone to walk out with you when you leave.  Try not to hang around after hours if you can avoid it.  And don’t be the last person out of the building.

And when you do walk from your car to the door? Carry a Maglite Flashlight there and back again.  The one I linked to, there, is 1.3 pounds without the four D batteries.  I’m sure it’ll do some damage if someone tries to fuck with you.  And they’re legal.  But put the batteries in anyway.  That way you can light the walk if you need to.

Nobody’s hating on women for being cautious.  Everyone should be cautious all the time.  We’re hating on the hypocritical, sexist bullshit.

Victims don’t need their counselors’ added paranoia.  They’re going to be paranoid enough.  They need to be taught to be trusting, but not naive.  Relaxed, but not comfortable.  Polite, but assertive.  Cautious, but not afraid.  With everyone, not just men.

I will never understand how we can pretend to want to empower victims, and free them from their attackers’ grasp, yet continue to hold them down and train them to be afraid of every man they pass on the street.

And don’t tell me that’s not what you’re doing.  I know you don’t think that’s what you’re doing, but it is.

I know because every time someone says something to me that suggests I shouldn’t be okay with what’s happened to me in my life, I start to wonder what’s wrong with me.  I start to second guess the way I’ve chosen to handle what’s happened to me.  I start to think maybe I should be wearing ten layers of baggy sweatsuits, and locking myself in my bedroom, and burying myself in a million blankets up to my neck, and jumping at every shifting shadow, and crying uncontrollably at the mere suggestion that I should do something besides lay in bed.  And since I’m not, and never did, there must be something wrong with me, right?

You’re not helping them up.  You’re holding them down.  And if you’re okay with that, fine.  But I’m not.  And if I can reach even one of them, and rip them from the grasp of their attacker, and your grasp as well, that’s a victory.

In a post entitled What I mean when I say “Every man is a potential rapist” and why you being offended is actually offensive., the author says that it’s “pretty freggin offensive to have to cater around a person’s delicate sensibilities when we are trying to talk about the horrific experiences one out of six women experience.” because:

All I can say to the person offended is this is not about you. It is incredibly insulting for you to tell me, a person belonging to a subordinate group you don’t share, how I am supposed to see the world. The threat will not go way if I change semantics to make you feel more comfortable. Don’t like it? Blame rape culture. Blame the people who blame the victims. Blame the rapists.

But do not blame women who are just trying to avoid the danger of rape the best way they know how.

I’m not sure she meant to use subordinate, there.  Subordinate means “person of lower order or rank; of less importance; subservient, or inferior”.  I’m sure she didn’t mean to say women (or raped women, for that matter) are lower than men.  Unless, of course, she was being sarcastic.

I especially love how so many who think they’re on the side of the victim acknowledge the facts that a) men are raped, too, and b) there’s no way to get any accurate statistics on this (or how many women have been raped, for that matter) because far less men report rapes than women, then promptly brush the matter aside as if it doesn’t need to be addressed because, as far as we know, less men are raped than women.  That’s super cool!

I’m not even male and I take offense to the fact that women who help other injured women hold to and preach the belief that behind every male face might lurk some evil beast.

I have a problem with your “Don’t trust anyone male.” stance, and I’m not afraid to say so.  I have a problem with it because it’s discriminatory.  I have a problem with it because it’s hypocritical.  I have a problem with the ignorance, intolerance and fear it breeds.  And I have a problem with it because it leaves my ass swinging in the breeze in the other direction.  Because all women are potential rapists, too.  All humans have the potential for violence.  Not just men or women or homosexuals or heterosexuals or black people or white people or yellow people or purple people.  Everyone.  Everyone, given the right situation, has the potential for violence. So how about we start telling it like it is?

*Big fucking thank you to Kristi for teaching me the word “misandry“.  Without her, I wouldn’t have known there was a word for it.  She also pointed me to the Wikipedia entry on masculism which you should totally check out.

  1. January 31st, 2010 at 19:15 | #1

    Firstly, I’m sorry about all that has happened to you in the past. It sounds awful and nobody should have to experience those things. Also, I do agree that everyone has the potential to be violent – men have gotten raped by women before (see rapper Lil’ Wayne, he mentions “losing his virginity” at age 11 when it sounds like rape.)

    However, the insinuation that all women should be just fine and dandy after an attack or bad experience just because you are is beyond offensive. Therapy is often required for women who have had an attack, and just because it wasn’t for you doesn’t mean other women should “get over it,” which is definitely implied in your post.

    Also, I’ve never been raped, but yes, I still believe all men to be potential rapists. Does this mean I hate men? Of course not. I have a loving boyfriend who is great and understanding (and also understands the phrase without being offended by it).

    Also, even though you think it, your rapes were never, ever your fault. It’s not the victim’s fault ever, it just makes it easier to blame the victim than to blame the perpetrator or blame the society that has created the perpetrator.

    “I will never understand how we can pretend to want to empower victims, and free them from their attackers’ grasp, yet continue to hold them down and train them to be afraid of every man they pass on the street.”

    It’s prevention. There is no look to a rapist. A rapist can look like anyone. A rapist can be anyone. It’s better to be on guard than to trust everyone and end up being raped or killed. I wish it didn’t have to be this way, but because of rape culture it does.

  2. January 31st, 2010 at 19:25 | #2

    @Saraid I expected someone to take my saying I dealt with it differently as me saying, “Everyone should deal with it exactly like I did.” But by now, anyone who knows me should know that if that’s what I meant, then that’s what I would have said. As this post should prove, I’m not really one to beat around the bush when it comes to my beliefs.

    You are correct in one thing, though. A rapist can be anyone. Not just any man. I’m simply saying we should be saying, “A rapist/abuser/what-have-you can be any person of any gender that you know or don’t know.” Not simply, “All men are potential rapists.”

    Trust when I say I don’t understand why I reacted to my past the way I did, and that I wish everyone could take it in stride like I did. If I could teach it, I would in a heartbeat, and for free. I only mentioned how I handled it as an insight to my opinion.

  3. January 31st, 2010 at 20:31 | #3

    “The thing is, that doesn’t make it your fault. No matter what bad decisions you make, you still don’t deserve to be sexually assaulted”

    Bullshit. That is effectively saying all women are victims just as much as all men are rapists. If Rayne didnt get into the car knowing the risks, she is far less likely to get assaulted. Same applies to every woman who ever put herself in danger, there is always a point where a choice is made to take that risk.

    Can you really not see that “But addressing rape culture by looking at women isn’t pushing aside the issue of men.” is directly contradicted by the following sentence of “That’s another issue, and it’s not one that’s being addressed there”

    Im outta here now, this is just laughable.

  4. January 31st, 2010 at 21:07 | #4

    ALL women and men who are raped ARE victims, regardless of the bad decisions they might have made, just like ALL people who are mugged are victims, despite the fact that they may have decided to get a large amount of cash out of a public ATM, and ALL people who’s houses are robbed are victims despite the fact that they made have failed to put a hold on their newspapers when they went on vacation.
    Rape is a crime and the rapists are criminals. They made the decision to force themselves upon the victim and commit that crime, and all the bad decisions in the world made by the victim does not change that.
    That being said, there is a HUGE difference between being a victim and acting like a victim. Yes, it is a traumatic experience (one I have been through) and different people cope differently with it, but sitting in fear of every man or woman or human just because of one criminal is not healthy for anyone.
    I do not think, though, that the women who have been talking about rape culture recently REALLY mean to imply that all men are potential rapists. Most of them are in relationships with men, so they’ve obviously trusted a man enough to let them into their lives. What I think they’ve been trying to promote, though some may have put it poorly, is caution. They want women to be cautious, to stop making those bad decisions. I don’t think they’re saying “DON’T TRUST MEN AT ALL. ONE OF THEM IS BOUND TO RAPE YOU,” but instead saying “You never know which man you run into has the potential to be a rapist, so just be cautious.”
    But, that’s just my take on it.

  5. January 31st, 2010 at 22:05 | #5

    See thats your trick using blame and deserves as the same word. Do they deserve it, no. Are they a holder of some of the blame, yes.

  6. Taja
    January 31st, 2010 at 23:18 | #6

    I have been raped and yet I refuse to be a victim.

    Saying “all men are potential rapists” is not different to saying that “all women are potential victims” or that “all men need to be aware that a women may lie and accuse them of rape”

    You cannot go through life thinking “what if” or being constantly scared of “what if”…

    Everyone, male, female and “other” needs to take precautions… but don’t live your life in constant fear because that is not living!

  7. alwaysHistora
    February 1st, 2010 at 10:12 | #7

    Fist bump, Rayne. As a person who was forced to go through “The Courage to Heal” series after being molested over and over again, the freakin’ therapy was almost as bad as the molestation itself, because i didn’t *benefit* from it, i thought there was something really wrong with me for not feeling child-like and frigid and all the other crap. Having therapists who insisted that i was not done healing because i didn’t want to replay it in gory detail didn’t help.

    i wholly believe, like D_K mentioned earlier, that there is a difference between deserve and blame. No, riding in a car with a guy a woman doesn’t know doesn’t mean she *deserved* to be raped. But it doesn’t make her a martyred saint, either.

    Men and women are raped. One is not less of an experience than the other. Men are not *out to get us*. How horrible, to paint the other half of mankind as fire-spewing demon rapists just waiting to dig their claws into the nearest unsuspecting female.

    Maybe, just maybe, if we as women weren’t so busy emasculating the males, ripping them to shreds in sitcoms and making them cartoonish caricatures of themselves, many of them wouldn’t feel such rage and injustice against women.

    But hey, what do i know. i’m just a woman who hated standard SA therapy and feels women have just as much of a burden of responsibility to keep themselves safe.

  8. February 1st, 2010 at 11:01 | #8

    Here’s the thing about the blame vs. deserve debate – What if she’s in the car with someone she’s known for years and trusts? What if she’s taken advantage of because she’s drunk and trusted that person to pick her up?

    If my best male friend raped me tomorrow, would I be to blame? No. Most rapes aren’t done by strangers, and even those that are – the women don’t hold a drop of blame.

  9. alwaysHistora
    February 1st, 2010 at 11:22 | #9


    Then that would be different. i’d agree with you in that instance. rayne’s experience was different, she didn’t know the man well, and she would be the first to say she shoulder a bit of the responsibility, i imagine.

    @ all in favor of AMAPR: If it benefits the *survivors* to shoulder responsibility for part of the outcome, in fact helps them grow beyond the experience, from the identity of a rape “victim” into a rape “survivor” as the therapists like to fancy crap up, who are the multitude of feminists to say that it is wrong? You (general) say that rayne can’t speak for all survivors, but you can?

    Or is it that it doesn’t suit the AMAPR movement if some women won’t parrot back the talking line?

  10. February 1st, 2010 at 11:39 | #10

    @PandaDementia I’m sure you’re right, and I commend them for their efforts. But the fact remains that the way they are going about it is flawed. A frightened and confused victim will hear “AMAPR” from their trusted counselor’s mouth and take it to mean just what it sounds like it means. Men do not corner the market on violence. It’s high time we start recognizing that fact.

    @Taja Thank you, Taja. This is what I was trying to say. You summed it up quite nicely.

    @Saraid Those situations are completely different than the situations I discussed in my post. The situations I discussed are ones in which I knew the dangers, chose to take the risk anyway and got burned.

    The ones you’re talking about? In those instances, of course, the blame rests solely on the shoulders of the perpetrator.

  11. February 1st, 2010 at 11:40 | #11

    @alwaysHistora Oh yay! I’m as cool as POTUS now! I got a fist bump!

    I <3 you.

  12. February 1st, 2010 at 13:52 | #12

    This is an AMAZING post and I really, really applaud Insatiable Desire for writing it.

    Next to ‘All Men are Potential Rapists’ the victim blaming/personal responsibility debate is the second most infuriating thing for me. Every time anybody brings it up adjusting one’s behavior to reduce the risk of being a victim, there are always feminists who come in all guns blazing, yelling ‘VICTIM BLAMING!’ and deriding the poster. It’s totally contradictory. “All men are potential rapists,” they yell, so act accordingly… Except they then imply: “Don’t do anything positive or sensible to actually reduce the risk of you getting raped” because, apparently, that’s just buying into the concept that victims are to blame for getting raped.

    Feminists need to realize that personal responsibility and who’s to blame for rape are TWO SEPARATE ISSUES. Rape is committed by rapists. Rapists are 100% responsible for rape. All ‘personal responsibility’ means is that by adjusting their behavior, women can be LESS likely to be a victim of these rapists.

    That perspective should be EMPOWERING but feminists act like it’s absolutely the opposite. Like with the ‘all men are potential rapists’ phrasing, this seems to be more about winning the semantic argument than actually acknowledging anything positive or practical that might actually reduce the number of women who fall victim to rapists.

    I REALLY applaud Insatiable Desire for writing this.

  13. February 1st, 2010 at 14:06 | #13

    @Champagne and Benzedrine Thanks. 🙂 I completely agree with you.

    It’s really, really important that people learn how to be risk-aware in all parts of their life. This means paying attention to your surroundings and listening to your gut. This also means occasionally pointing out things that are painful to face, like the fact that your bad decision put you in harm’s way. Easier to tell yourself it couldn’t be helped. But you’re not fulfilling your responsibility to protect yourself, that way, in my mind.

  14. February 1st, 2010 at 16:23 | #14

    You know how much I love you for writing this. And I’m so glad I could teach you a new word. Hee! I totally pumped my fist in the air when I read this. I can’t even fully articulate how awesome it is to know a female like you. I still hate the gender as a whole, but you’ve given me hope that there are other women like us. <3

  15. February 1st, 2010 at 16:27 | #15

    @Kristi Thanks! It’s pretty cool knowing you too! 🙂

  16. February 1st, 2010 at 18:39 | #16

    Kristi :
    I still hate the gender as a whole, but you’ve given me hope that there are other women like us. <3

    This is so sad. Why would you hate women as a whole? You’re a woman yourself. Last I checked, self-hate wasn’t the best thing.

  17. February 2nd, 2010 at 20:46 | #17

    I always wonder how gay rape fits into this issue. It is just as relevant today.
    I think in these issues each case needs to be taken on it’s merits as some women lie for revenge and know that they will never be prosecuted if they are found to be lying.
    It is such a grey area that each case needs to be taken alone on its own merits.

  18. February 3rd, 2010 at 18:39 | #18

    @Karen Harper Excellent point. Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  19. February 3rd, 2010 at 19:47 | #19

    You are a tough woman to have handled so much in your life. I know your life is so much better now and hopefully will never be where you go through anything like any of that again. I will not address all of the discussion that has gone on in the comments above, it pretty much has all been said, one way or another. I as well as many others was a victim of rape. I am not a victim NOW, but then, being a 17 year old virgin who was raped while a knife was held to her throat made me a victim. I never was given any counseling or therapy, not even a medical exam. And yes, I did tell my parents…but at that time (this was decades ago during a different era when things like that tended to blame the victim)my parents just wanted to cover it up and deny that it happened.Although they did believe me, it was hard not to considering I was cut, bruised and bleeding terribly from the vagina and thigh where I was sliced with that same knife, they still expected me to keep my mouth shut, swallow my hurt and save THEIR reputations. With that, I felt like I had been violated by my parents as well as the rapist. It took me a long time to come to terms with everything and make peace with myself. I never made peace with my parents while they were alive, but worked through my issues and forgave them years after they were dead. I let it go and I found a way to heal that final wound. It is not the same for all people, women or men, who are raped. Some deal well, some do not. You are a strong woman obviously, I was as well. Life goes on and we cannot allow what happens to us to be the final determining factor in forming us, dictating who and what we are, or in choosing our future paths. A person who is raped, at ANY age, is a victim of violence, it does not matter if they made poor choices that put them at risk for rape…they are still a victim. But they do not have to remain a victim, like you, like me, they can use it to make themselves stronger. I took control of myself and life and grew stronger right after the rape. You took a little longer to reach that point, but it still seems you have made it now, or are at least on that road and that is a good road to be on hon. Blessings on you. Hugs. ThePinkPoppet.

  20. The Dogged Pursuit
    February 18th, 2010 at 18:12 | #20

    Rayne, I just found this post through (e)Lust and just wanted to say “yes!” I’ve also been down the passive/agressive comment route and usually shouted down by folks who insist on telling me how “offended” they are that I apparently have a different perspective. They further imply that I’m some type of gender traitor, that I’m apparently stupid for not seeing how obviously wrong I am, and a cruel heartless bitch due to the fact that I actually believe that if you want a person to change their beliefs or behavior you have a better chance if you make an effective argument.

    I am not afraid of men, nor do I think that “all men are potential rapists.” I am reasonable cautious as I go about my life and such caution has served me reasonably well, though it hasn’t prevented every unfortunate incident that I ever wanted to avoid. I know that some people whose spirits are, indeed, crushed and thier lives ruined by rape — both men and women. I also know that some are not. I know the difference between blaming a victim and identifying a contributing factor.

    I agree that I’d like to see us eliminate criminal violence against everyone;I’d like to see “rape culture” get relagated to the same status “racist culture” has been. I’d like to see people be more responsible for themselves and more willing to step up and take the responsibility to help and protect others. But I don’t think you get there by insisting that a) it’s men vs. women b) that all men are animals and subsequently all women are weak and c) and that an act of violence against one gender is inherantly worse than an act of violence against the other.

  21. February 19th, 2010 at 11:18 | #21

    @The Dogged Pursuit Thank you! I couldn’t agree more.

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