Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Thank the Heavens I'm a Magical Chicken

Thanks the Heavens I'm a Magical Chicken. I can go about my merry way without enduring shit being slung at me on account of being a Magical Chicken. Same can't be said, I'm afraid, of being a human woman or girl. I couldn't be quite so chipper if I were one of them - I'd probably want to slam my own head against a wall repeatedly to drown out the torrent of woman- and girl-hating abuse that passes for... for everything, really: law, language, history, news media, statesmanship, advertising, and bicycles, yes, fucking bicycles.

To say nothing of my absolute favourite thing ever - really, this is my favourite thing ever, I love it THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS much - Rational Male BloggingTM.

Today my favourite Rational Male BloggerTM is Benjamin Cheah, who has taken it upon himself to RationallyTM address Robin Rheaume's mighty fine post about victim-blaming in the recent gang rape case that's been all over the press.

Benjamin Cheah has difficulty grasping the simple proposition that women and girls are human beings, who seek quite rightly to live full and rich human lives, uninterrupted by the violence of having a penis forced inside you against your wishes. For some people, this full and rich human life may even include socialising with new people, drinking, and having consensual sex. Benjamin Cheah, however, appears to believe such acts - socialising, drinking, having consensual sex - can appropriately be punished with rape. Thus:
Here, the woman failed to take responsibility for her actions. She deliberately engaged in high-risk behaviour. To declare ‘The failure of a woman to adequately assess the risk of attack does not mean that she caused what happens and should take blame for it’ is to declare that a drink driver should not take responsibility for running over a pedestrian. It is simply absurd to think that one can divorce one’s action from the consequences of that action. Every action has consequences; the woman has to take responsibility has to take actions. To not do so is both foolish and dangerous.

The woman engaged in high risk behaviour. An example of such behaviour is for a young woman to go alone late at night to a place with plenty of strange young men and alcohol. Another is for a single young woman to play drinking games in a private place with young men unknown to her. Such behaviour puts her at a very high risk of being robbed, raped, and/or killed. This whole case could have been avoided had the victim not showed up, left the moment she realised she didn’t know most of the people at the gathering, or went home before the drinking became serious. She took a risk, and she got burned.
Benjamin Cheah appears to be suggesting that we should simply accept, as an immutable fact, that men will rape women. Gang rape is a simple consequence of drinking and engaging in sexual activity with strangers, apparently, which has nothing to do with the rapists in question choosing to take their penises out of their pants and force them into the body of a non-consenting woman. It's a foolish pipe dream for Magical Chickens to think that maybe, just maybe, censuring, prosecuting, punishing and strongly denouncing gang rape will create an environment in which rapists are discouraged from taking their penises out of their pants and forcing them into the bodies of non-consenting women. (Rather than an environment in which they will be excused because being gang-raped is understood primarily as what happens to women because of women's own actions.) Actually, women who drink and socialise and have sex are extending mysterious tentacles of dark matter from their very bodies, which physically compel other men - struggling and wailing in protest - to take their penises out of their pants and force them into the bodies of non-consenting women.

I'm finding this hard to square with the occasions when I've gone drinking with and/or climbed into bed with strangers without, funnily enough, being raped, because nobody there chose to take their penises out of their pants and force them into me, but hey, what do I know, I'm just a Magical Chicken.
The victim had sex with someone after the game and before the crime. To someone under the influence of alcohol, the victim’s behaviour could be interpreted as a signal of sexual availability. This effect could be pronounced because the members of the group could have pressured each other towards that interpretation (assuming that had happened).
Oh dear sweet fucking kitty cats, where to start with this? Maybe with the terminally stupid concept of "sexual availability", as if the vagina is either Open for Business and must accept all customers, or Regrettably Closed for the Day and must be shut to everyone. I hate to break it to you sunshine, but women sometimes like to fuck. A woman may be sexually attracted to one man without being attracted to his entire cabal of friends. A woman may feel horny at one point (like, just before having sex with one man) without feeling horny at another (like, just after sex with that man). This is basic stuff, please keep up.

To those of us who take the humanity of women seriously, a woman having sex with person A at time X does not amount of consent to having sex with persons B-E at times Y and Z. Yes, to some men the first sex act "could be interpreted" as consent to penetration by their own penises: but their interpretation is misogynist and wrong, and when they act on this belief they become rapists.

If the men in the gang rape scenario had raped the first man in this scenario, I wonder, would Benjamin Cheah believe the same argument applied? After all, he'd been drinking and signalled his availability for sex, ce n'est pas?

And where are Benjamin Cheah's strong words for the men in this scenario anyway? At which point in the entire piece does he ask them to "take responsibility" for their "actions" - including the "action" of taking their penises out of their pants and forcing them into the body of this girl? When will he tell men that they must not socialise with strangers, or have consensual sex, or drink, or go into someone else's home, so as to avoid becoming rapists? The words of one Magical Chicken, circa January 2010, seem appropriate here:
The suggestion that we should solve any problem by deliberately sequestering men at home is ludicrous and unacceptable on its face - and it should be equally so when it applies to women.
I don't want to go into depth about the ridiculousness of Benjamin Cheah first of all claiming there was no evidence of bleeding, and then claiming the rapists stopped when they saw blood. (Apparently, also, stopping at the sight of blood is "not typical behaviour for rapists", a statement Benjamin Cheah supports with absolutely zero evidence, as if rapists are by definition also necessarily men who don't mind getting blood all over their penises or don't find bleeding a turn-off.) I will also pass over his bringing in irrelevant factors like the victim engaging in underaged drinking or having sex with someone who isn't her boyfriend, as if it's more OK to rape women who meet this arbitrary designation for "irresponsibility".

No, I want to highlight Benjamin Cheah's serious, RationalTM consideration of the possibility that AWARE opposes victim-blaming because of a "rape agenda" which might bring in "big money". There's only one possible response to this idea...


Oh God, I do love being a Magical Chicken: you human beings are so gosh-darned funny. "Big money"! A "rape agenda"! Those terms certainly don't apply to the vast pop media and advertising industries which continually tell us that violence against women is sexy, the enormously rich and powerful "family values" lobbies who tell us that merely being female is inherently obscene, or the multi-billion dollar global pornography businesses who consistently push the narrative that rape is what women are for. No, the "big money" is in feminism, who have invented a "rape agenda" of - lookit, this term is also in inverted commas! - women's "rights".

Thank the Heavens I'm a Magical Chicken, or this would all be enough to make me weep.



    I have decided to start a religion with the Magical Chicken as its deity. Thank you for existing.

    " if the vagina is either Open for Business and must accept all customers, or Regrettably Closed for the Day"

    This is nothing short of sheer brilliance.

  2. Awww, thanks. You'll have me preening soon.

  3. Dear Magical Chicken,
    I want you to know how happy I am to see this post. When I read Benjamin Cheah's post I was literally trembling with rage and I am one of those who left him an angry comment, but I didn't have the ability to take apart his post and show why it was wrong, the way you do. Thank you!

  4. I'm not entirely sure how Benjamin Cheah's comments could have been more offensive. As well as the offensiveness towards women mentioned in the Magical Chicken article already, Cheah seems to imply that within all men lies a dormant rapist, just waiting for a moment to pounce. As a man I find that pretty insulting.

    In my opinion it's completely irrelevant how "high-risk" the woman's behaviour is. Her being "irresponsible" isn't a great thing, of course, but that's irrelevant. If she doesn't want to have sex, she doesn't want to have sex.

  5. Sorry - same anon here. Forgot to mention:

    It's up to the men to do the responsible thing in this situation. And the responsible thing to do is to keep it in their pants.

  6. Benjamin Cheah seems to be operating under a delusion that consent for intercourse is acquired once a woman places herself in an irresponsible situation. What utter nonsense! Did he even read Robin Rheaume's piece?

    Irresponsible behaviour is independent of the decision taken by an individual/ group of individuals to have sex with someone DESPITE THEIR PROTESTATIONS TO THE CONTRARY. Someone they knew to have diminished faculties. It's ridiculous to suggest that "irresponsible behaviour" has the result of absolving the said individual(s) of any accountability for their heinous actions.

    In other news, have any Barnyard Creatures read the NYT article about rape victims in India being subjected to a vaginal examination to determine whether the woman had had sexual intercourse before, based on "laxity" of her vagina. For the sole purpose of discrediting her moral character at trial?


  7. Anon@ 1:57: Er, I kind of operate on the 'dormant rapist theory' when I'm out and about. I don't talk to anyone, especially not men, and I try not to sit next to men on public transit. As for going out- ha,ha, no. I don't make enough money and I don't like going out by myself.

  8. Politicalguineapig, 1.57 anon here.

    You're right. I completely understand what you're saying. To stay safe you work on the assumption that any man COULD be a lurking rapist. That's understandable and I'd probably do much the same, were I a woman.

    However, there's a difference between that understandable reaction and what Cheah is suggesting. Cheah seems to be suggesting not that every man MIGHT be a would-be rapist but that every man IS a would-be rapist.

    It's the "tarring us all with the same brush" which irks me.

  9. madhairday:

    That is fucking horrible (if you'll excuse my language). I might write about it!

    Anon & politicalguinea pig:

    I think your discussion illustrates how misogyny hurts both women and men, by creating a rape culture which encourages distrust between women and men. The kyriarchy promotes the sexist attitude that women are to be the gatekeepers of male sexual behaviour, and that men cannot simply take responsibility for keeping their own penises in their own boxers, or be solely accountable when they fail to do so. Everyone loses out: women are required to forgo opportunities to live a full life and instead enter a state of constant wariness, and receive unwarranted blame for rapes perpetrated upon us; while men suffer the insult that Anon speaks of, and lose out on the opportunity to form better relationships with women (without the distrust that accompanies this patriarchal rape-excusing culture). It sucks for everyone.

  10. So, the bloke responded (not reproducing the link here), and there was even more fail. *cringe*

    -- Weds.

  11. I'm struggling with this one. I believe in equality, and women being able to share the same spaces with a group of men without being at risk for assault, and men taking responsibility for their sexual conduct. However, you mention "distrust that accompanies this patriarchal rape-excusing culture". The thing is, there have been so many examples of cases where a woman has been in the presence of a group of men and gets raped, but the complicating factor is alcohol. Perhaps the excuse comes from people acknowledging that people do stupid things they don't normally do when they are drunk. So that leaves the question, is it bad that women may feel they can't trust a group of drunk men and avoid being present in such situations? Should they ignore that sense of fear or warning they get and tell themselves that they have equal rights to be there and that if something bad happens the men will be punished. Should the woman have to go through something bad happening to her in order to teach the men a lesson, at her expense. Should she sacrifice her safety for the ideal of equality?

    I call myself a feminist, and I do trust men most of the time. But I like to think I'm also a realist that there are times where one cannot trust men. It is a shame, but the men have taught us that this is the case. That is something for them to think about, especially when they have alcohol in front of them.


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