Sarah — I thought quite a bit before I put that text on the page. Then thought through the troublesome ways it could be taken and the possible results of that. Next I thought that it was being wimpish to remove it… and so it eventually appeared, for better or worse.
So I am actually amazed that you are the first to pick it up.
I can appreciate that you do not like the tone of my words if you limit your interpretations of meaning to those that you list. Please think bigger.
First factor in that it is common that (some) women can object to men even daring to talk about this subject on the basis that most of the victims are obviously women. Unless the expressed attitude is that every victim is automatically 100% innocent (even in the absence of facts/knowledge/evidence) and that the rapist is 100% guilty, then the male commentator is deemed some sort of dangerous rape apologist. Even the slightest idea that the rapist’s upbringing, family background or anything else in his life experience might have in anyway played some small role in who he is and what he has done is seen as intolerable — even though refusing all such ideas makes a complete mockery of all modern psychology and sociology.
Now I was already a bit embroiled in that sort of situation with a member of your sex when it came to me that this attitude is rather ridiculous if not plain stupid, given that heterosexual sex of any form involves one of each sex. After all, men are not culturally excluded from discussing a homicide case where the murderer was male and killed a female.
Now read your phrase That sounds like you are admitting to personally understanding being a rapist. Would you aim such a phrase at a woman who made comments about rape? I doubt it — because there is an obvious insinuation in your phrase targeting me as a male. And why is understanding being a rapist — as opposed to actually being a rapist — anything to admit to anyway? Is it impossible to understand anything without being that something? If so, then none of us understand anything but ourselves.
Moving beyond your words in your post, let me ask this question: do you really think there is anything to admit to in simply understanding a rapist? Do you think understanding anything requires some sort of admission? Are you switched off to the idea that understanding the rapist better might better indicate how to tackle the problem — whether that be to change society, bring in the death penalty, castrate certain men or do anything else? I repeat, why should anyone have to admit to understanding anything? Are you against understanding? Are you an anti-knowledge? Surely not.
As regards how others might hear what I post, let me be clear. I am expressing ideas here that — regardless of whether anyone likes them or not — are my honest and genuine thoughts. They are not particularly tailored to the sensibilities of you or anyone else. Obviously, like anyone that in any way talks to others, I am conscious that people do hear things differently. And this whole experience on this particular topic/thread did give me to reflect on how best to avoid upsetting others. In fact, between myself and the original poster, we eventually came to a very positive ‘truce’ — her word.
But not upsetting others can only be an element to consider in speaking one’s mind — it should not be used as a ticket to close down the conversations of others. What I believe was achieved in this exchange was that two people with obviously quite different ideas about an explosive subject, nonetheless transcended those differences to recognise each other’s common humanity. We could sure use a lot more of that coming-together. That at least is my perspective… it is for Molly to give her side.
Rape as seen in the affluent world is arguably something that is dwarfed by the atrocities that entire armies of men have committed in times of brutal warfare. If history is to be believed, women have been systematically raped en masse by both advancing and retreating troops, including having their nipples removed and facing other forms of mutilation which taken together might make many wonder if plain death would not have been a less disgusting way of persecuting a people. This is what men can do — or at least what men in great numbers under certain conditions have already done. And when it is often said that civilisation is only skin deep, the same male bodies, male minds, male hormones and poorly-understood male sex drives are walking the streets of every city in the world every day. What keeps them well behaved most of the time such that they do not exhibit such barbarity towards women? Alternatively, what happens that some men do exhibit such barbarity? I don’t know, I don’t think you know, and I don’t think anyone at all really knows for sure. But in a situation where I obviously have direct experience of working with a male body and a male mind, I am certainly no less qualified to hazard some answers than you are. And if you care to revisit the post, you will see that I never claimed to be any better positioned than any female. So to turn my point that neither sex is inherently better placed to address these matters into an open question of whether or not I am a rapist smacks of the sort of confrontational ‘feminist sexism’ (someone has to say it) that is too often used to shut down potentially constructive discussion. If that was your mission, may I politely inform you that you have obviously failed… but there are nonetheless no hard feelings at this end. In general, we men may be guilty of all sorts of evils including many of which women are largely innocent. But if simply speaking our minds is one of them, then we are all in big trouble. That’s the long answer to your question. The short one is no, I am not a rapist.