Schrödinger’s Rapist: or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women without being maced

Schrödinger’s Rapist: or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women...

by Sweet Machine
Phaedra Starling is the pen name of a romance novelist and licensed private investigator living in small New York City apartment with two large dogs. She practices Brazilian jiu-jitsu and makes world-class apricot muffins


"Gentlemen. Thank you for reading.

Let me start out by assuring you that I understand you are a good sort of person. You are kind to children and animals. You respect the elderly. You donate to charity. You tell jokes without laughing at your own punchlines. You respect women. You like women. In fact, you would really like to have a mutually respectful and loving sexual relationship with a woman. Unfortunately, you don’t yet know that woman—she isn’t working with you, nor have you been introduced through mutual friends or drawn to the same activities. So you must look further afield to encounter her.

So far, so good. Miss LonelyHearts, your humble instructor, approves. Human connection, love, romance: there is nothing wrong with these yearnings.

Now, you want to become acquainted with a woman you see in public. The first thing you need to understand is that women are dealing with a set of challenges and concerns that are strange to you, a man. To begin with, we would rather not be killed or otherwise violently assaulted.

“But wait! I don’t want that, either!”

Well, no. But do you think about it all the time? Is preventing violent assault or murder part of your daily routine, rather than merely something you do when you venture into war zones? Because, for women, it is. When I go on a date, I always leave the man’s full name and contact information written next to my computer monitor. This is so the cops can find my body if I go missing. My best friend will call or e-mail me the next morning, and I must answer that call or e-mail before noon-ish, or she begins to worry. If she doesn’t hear from me by three or so, she’ll call the police. My activities after dark are curtailed. Unless I am in a densely-occupied, well-lit space, I won’t go out alone. Even then, I prefer to have a friend or two, or my dogs, with me. Do you follow rules like these?

So when you, a stranger, approach me, I have to ask myself: Will this man rape me?"

Please read the rest on Kate Harding's blog.

Views: 111

Replies to This Discussion

First, Ursula: you are awesome. We are often braver than we know, especially when we have others to protect.

A few of my experiences:

Living in Vegas I was talking with a friend of mine about a woman who had been attacked. My very stupid response was "What was she doing out by herself there at that hour" (hanging head is shame) Tatanya said (thankfully) "Whatever the hell she wants" and my eyes were opened to my own sexism.

My partner for women's self defense was quiet Rose. Then her conversation during 'eye gouges':
Rose: "Can this permanently scar them?"
Tom: "No, he explained some more ...."
Rose: "Is there a way we can permanently scar them?"

College: A Random guy w/ 2 friends shouts across the street to me: "Hey, can I get in your pants"
Overly literal me: "They don't match your shoes" (They really didn't & I have a thing about that)

I've been followed home several times or approached several times. The training helped a great deal, and luck was also a factor (of the good humans kind). Once when I was followed home in L.A. I ducked into the motel next to my apartment. The manager sent some workers out to make sure the guy had gone and I got home, I noticed them more when I was walking alone after that, in a good way, keeping and eye on their neighbor(s).

As a waitress in L.A. I was loved sending the obnoxious boys packing with 'when she wants to talk to you she will, don't make me remove you from my bar', but the lesbian group that always came in beat me. The guy was not taking the hint. They finally let him by a couple of rounds, the last one was a blow job, (of course *eye roll*). Then two of them stood up and kissed each-other. It quite clear they were so not interested in him. Guys like that do not seem to find it sexy when women kiss each-other as an act of defiance or in a way that completely excludes them.
"Of course in an open forum like this one can only speak of certain types of attacks where the victim's unwillingness is obvious and certain."

No doubt. There's a whole other iceberg under that tip.
SELF DEFENSE

I can not recommend or stress it enough.

I really do recommend a solid martial art - for me, Shotokan Karate and later, Ki-Aikido. It's not just about knowing how to throw a punch. The far more valuable benefit is the added self-confidence, learning how to read situations, learning how to rationally take yourself as far out of the victim's profile as you can. Yes, it's about knowing you can defend yourself realistically* should the need arise, but the best defense is not being chosen as a victim in the first place.

That is not a slam against those who have been attacked!
One of Ursla's suggestions; a yappy dog. All things being equal, the home invader would so much rather not have that noisemaker interfering with his 'work.' Little things like this reduce the odds.

But back to self-defense and martial arts. Choose the school/dojo wisely. Don't go for the one with all the trophies in the window. Go for the one that commands an air of respect, where they're actually teaching, not just showing off.

*And when I say realistic defense: I've gotten a lot less anti-gun as the years have worn on, but a gun alone still tends to provide way more false sense of security than not. I've seen/heard of plenty of situations where having a gun saved someone's life. But it's kind of like saying, "I'm not going to wear my seatbelt because what if I have to get out of the burning car in a hurry?" Yes, there are situations where not wearing the seatbelt will save your life. But these are far, far outnumbered by the situations where not wearing the seatbelt gets you killed. It's about playing the odds.

Take Ursla's story. At what point would her attacker have patiently waited for her to go into the bedroom, get the gun out of the drawer, load it, come back in the room, and get the drop on him? Compare that to the odds of one of her kids finding the gun and where mommy keeps the ammo. More often than not the home invader does not want to kill you - burglary and even rape carry a far lesser sentence than murder. But if he thinks you have a gun, that's a pretty good incentive for him to kill you in his own self-defense. Your own gun rarely comes into play unless you are the first to draw, which also rarely happens.

Again, not to say having a gun is never a good idea. But I can not stress enough to get the practical self-defense that goes along with it, that enables you to know when it's realistically a good idea to get the gun out and when it's realistically a very, very bad idea. "A gun is the only way I have to protect myself" is the worst mindset one can have. Way too much riding on the ability to have the gun out at just the right time, and such a person tends to let their guard down; not learn other means of defense and even take risks feeling they are now invincible.

Back to martial arts again: If you do have to defend yourself, you'll find size and brute strength have little to do with the matchup between you and attacker. Women in fact have a HUGE natural, psychological advantage in that the guy doesn't expect us to be able to defend ourselves. His guard is way down, that gives us a huge advantage. It takes less than a pound of pressure to press someone's eyes out of their socket. Very little brute strength to break a joint - which will take someone out of the fight. There are any number of nerves that take very little strength or even good aim to take a person down. If your life is truly being threatened and you can get a good punch in, go for the windpipe. A few pounds of force will break a windpipe and kill a man, no matter how brute and big he is.

Not to say this makes one invincible, but every little advantage helps.

Ok. /soapbox_rant
Sorry - like I tried to qualify, it is in no way meant to say "Here's how you can be invincible and anyone who is victimized brought it on themselves." Very, very, very the opposite.

And I have no doubt there are issues surrounding this topic that go way beyond what one can/should discuss in an open forum.

Just relating that in my personal experience and observation, I feel that my training gives me a degree of control I wouldn't have otherwise had. At the same time, the number one rule of self-defense is that no one is ever invincible. You are never in complete control of a situation. Despite all the reasonable lowering-of-the-odds I try to do, Sam the Stalker might well latch onto me someday, and that's not somehow a failure on my part.

The vast majority of violent crimes are committed by people we know well enough to invite into our homes for coffee. Most by people we know much better than that (or thought we did). I'm lucky enough not to have been a victim of violent attack. I've come close, but haven't suffered the actual punch. Yet. I have known that kind of intense betrayal of trust in other ways and can only imagine that if it came in the form of physical attack ... a thousand times worse. So I take that back, I can't quite imagine it and can only hope I never have to experience it.

Anyway Jacqueline, all this poorly-worded rambling to say I didn't mean to pigeonhole, dumb-down, over-simplify, offer a catch-all answer, or offend. Just tossing one element out there that helps some - not all - but some situations.

Did that kind of make sense?
Augh! God, now I kind of want to take karate. I'm a total hermit, but this is seriously scary to no end. :S Reading the stories makes me wanna crawl under a blanket...
Self defense classes are fun and make you feel much better prepared for situations. My professor occasionally called it how to get called a bitch and take it as a compliment. Meaning, that women are too often socialized to be compliant and polite and some of us have a very difficult time if it appears to others we are mean. We practiced dealing with insults that women usually get, along with the physical aspects.
Like Jo was saying, this is not a failure on the part of women, but on social standards that encourage such nonsense. Most of the women here are a bit less reserved, but it can still be difficult to fully break out of the 'lady-like' cycle.
Grundgetta, I re-posted this link to my FB. :) Thank you again.

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