Why are some women "rapable"?

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MegB
Why are some women "rapable"?

Quote:

A study conducted by Street Health and Sistering found 30 per cent of women living on the streets had been physically assaulted and 21 per cent had been sexually assaulted at least one time in the last year.

http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/johnbon/2013/11/homeless-women-assaulted...

Red Winnipeg

I'm surprised that the percentage is that low.

lagatta

Sad to say, I am too.

Bacchus

I had heard much higher percentages for homeless youth

 

Maysie Maysie's picture

From the article:

Quote:

On September 22, a woman was sexually assaulted by two men in separate incidents while she slept in a well-lit area near Dundas and Sherbourne. The incidents were recorded on the video surveillance tape of a local agency and reported to police.

"Police posted photos on their website," said OCAP in their release for Monday's press conference.

"However they failed to hold a press conference or inform women and service providers in the community about this incident. Making the incident known to the public would assist in alerting women in the community about the risk, identifying the men to the public, and raising urgent awareness about the unsafe conditions that homeless women face. Such media and public responses were seen in the past in cases of assaults occurring near local universities and in parks.

"The lack of attention and care towards this case of sexual violence reflects the stigma and discrimination faced by many women in our community. This reminds us of past injustices where women were put at riskby similar inaction, such as the disappearance of women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

"This incident, and many others, shows the true nature of the crisis within the shelter system and lack of safe space and housing for women in the City of Toronto. Women from the community have been at the forefront of responding to this and demanding immediate action and accountability.”

addictedtomyipod

Whores are the lowest link on the human chain.  Look at any society and it is the same.  It is about a temporary feeling of power and not being entirely vulnerable.  It seems pretty clear to me.

MegB

The term "whore" is an unacceptable epithet. Please edit your post and insert an inoffensive term, such as sex worker. Thanks.

lagatta

Rebecca, I think that whole comment is unacceptable. I'd put it in quote, as in Sexist men think " ..." and that is how they justify sexual violence against vulnerable women. Changing the epithet to "sex worker" doesn't solve the problem.

El Feministo

Rebecca, you're right to question the poster's use of the word whore. There are times when whore is a perfectly reasonable term to use (as when used by sex workers), but in that particular sentence, it's completely offensive. And thanks for sharing the link to begin with.

On the other hand, I think the "rapable" headline is questionable, too. "Rapable" suggests that vulnerability to rape is somehow a quality possessed by victims, and I'm uncomfortable with depicting it that way. The article suggests that homelessness and poverty entail a heightened vulnerability to crime. [un]Fair enough. But I'd never depict poor and homeless people as "rapable" (or "beatable" or "murderable") – it sounds a little stigmatizing and victim-blaming. I am sure that wasn't your intent.

Some may disagree, no doubt. If so, look at it this way. Imagine overhearing a young man talking describing a female passerby as "fuckable". Sounds sexist and objectifying, yes? If "fuckable" is bad, "rapable" is rather worse, no?

lagatta

El Feministo, that is pretty much what I was saying, though I thought the title was deliberately provocative, to shock us. I do presume that all regular visitors would think that describing any human being as "rapable" is unacceptable.

El Feministo

Agreed. We were typing at the same time, so I didn't see your comment until after I posted. :)

MegB

I'm taking the term "rapable" from the article. It seemed to me to sum up the attitude that some women are worth more than others, an attitude that is appalling as it is common, infused with racism, classism and contempt. The word "whore" is liberally used as a descriptor of any woman who takes control of her own sexuality, or even dares to voice an opinion that doesn't sit well with mainstream society. It can be a reclaimed word, but used as common parlance, is completely unacceptable.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

addictedtomyipod wrote:

Whores are the lowest link on the human chain.  Look at any society and it is the same.  It is about a temporary feeling of power and not being entirely vulnerable.  It seems pretty clear to me.

Actually, people who refer to victims of the sex trade as "the lowest link on the human chain" are the LOWEREST link. 

And is there a reason you give pimps and johns a pass on low-link status?

Jesus!

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Rebecca West wrote:

 

I'm taking the term "rapable" from the article. It seemed to me to sum up the attitude that some women are worth more than others, an attitude that is appalling as it is common, infused with racism, classism and contempt. The word "whore" is liberally used as a descriptor of any woman who takes control of her own sexuality, or even dares to voice an opinion that doesn't sit well with mainstream society. It can be a reclaimed word, but used as common parlance, is completely unacceptable.

Could the thread title maybe be changed to "why are some women SEEN by men as "rapable"?  That would correct the false impression that someone might get that Rebecca herself is agreeing with the idea that "some women are 'rapable'". an idea that neither Rebecca NOR anyone who isn't a pychopathing predator would ever endorse. 

Tehanu

The thread title has also been making me cringe, both for the reasons above, and also because of the way it's phrased -- "Why are some women 'rapable'?" Well, pretty much all women are rapable, unfortunately, as we all know. To say that some are can imply that others are not.  Which I'm absolutely sure was not Rebecca's intention!

In the article itself, the term is used by Deb Singh with the clear context that these particularly vulnerable women living on the street are being treated like objects -- seen as rapable by men who do not respect their humanity. Which is quite a different meaning, I think. And yes, it's shocking and effective. 

Quote:
"When we're talking about indigenous women or sex trade workers, those assaults are not considered assaults," said Deb Singh, a counsellor at the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre.

"Those bodies are rapable. We're allowed to use violence against those women. They do certain things so it's acceptable."

I don't want to take away from the seriousness of the issue of homeless women getting beaten up and raped, but I did want to acknowledge that it happens in the context of sexual assault and objectification of women's bodies throughout society as well.

Unionist

I understood perfectly well (I think) what Rebecca meant in quoting that adjective. Is there actually a good reason why this important topic has to be drowned in discussions about terminology? I was rather looking forward to hearing and learning about the actual problem that's being addressed in the rabble blog piece.

 

lagatta

We can do both, Unionist. This brings me back to workshops I gave at the Native Friendship Centre, and to working at an annual event fighting suicide in Aboriginal communities. These horrors seeth up, but I don't feel in any place to get participants to contribute any painful details beyond those they reveal on their own accord. It is a sad and terrible story. At the rabble main page, there is a story about (brave) protestors putting up a banner and giant eyeballs outside the Canadian spy agency. Other than the threat to civil liberties, that place has a record cost for government buildings. When so many people are homeless.

Yes, homelessness is in many cases also a mental-health problem, but there can be no resolution without personal safety and a clean, decent, place to live. For shame.

MegB

I'm not going to edit the thread title nor, for the same reason, am I going to edit or unpub addictedtomyipod's post, because they both so clearly illustrate the fundamental issue; in a world where women are valued in accordance with their perceived sexual attraction to heterosexual men, those in the perceived "subclass", ie, homeless women, and those who take charge of their sexuality, ie, just about any woman but particularly sex workers, are either so undervalued as human beings, or are so outside the control of the dominant heterosexual male, that they are either vulnerable enough, or threatening enough, that they are "rapable" targets. That pretty much everything we see, read, watch or experience in some way reinforces this is the problem. The primary perpetuators of this inequity are the ones in the best position to change it, but instead it is left to marginalized voices to shout loud and long in order for tiny, almost imperceptIble changes to take place. It's exhausting.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Fair enough.  And please understand, Rebecca, that I wasn't attacking you in making my suggestion. 

MegB

That's okay Ken, I didn't think you were.