Monday, 17 November 2008

It's okay to force a girl to have sex if she has been flirting with you

Cross posted

This post is about an Australian survey, but I think it will be interesting, and worrying, for New Zealanders too.

"It's okay to force a girl to have sex if she has been flirting with you."

That's what an astonishing 1 in 7 Australian boys say.

There's a survey out today, from the White Ribbon Foundation, about domestic and family violence (press release PDF - 104KB). The statistics are appalling (there's a surprise!), but it's the attitudes that have me in despair, especially the attitudes of boys. The other beauty - 1 in 3 Australian boys think it's okay to hit a girl.

These attitudes are strongest among 12 to 14 year old boys, which either suggests that older boys have grown up a little, and thought longer and harder about how to interact with girls, or that they have learned how to hide their attitudes, and come out with the socially acceptable platitudes. I hope it's the former, but given the incidence of rape and violence in our societies, I fear that it's the latter. 1 in 3 year 10 girls (year 11 in NZ), that is, girls in their eleventh year of education, aged about 15 or 16, say that they have experienced unwanted sex. That would be rape, of course, but we daren't use that word. But that suggests that the boys learn to say that it's not okay to force a girl to have sex, but their actions are quite different. And whatever they are doing, they are not conceptualising their actions as rape - it's 'forced sex'.

When will boys and men learn that 'No' means 'No', and forcing a woman or a girl to have sex when she has said 'No' is rape.


Julie said...

I hope I can raise my son to know how wrong rape and other forms of violence are, not just to say the right things when asked tricky questions. I remember when I was helping to facilitate date rape awareness workshops in uni hostels ten years ago getting a distinct impression that a lot of the guys weren't very sincere about their answers. There has to be a way to break through to people, surely? What also depressed me, back then, was the number of women who also thought that you could ask for rape.

Cactus Kate said...

As for the violence, I think boys grown up now thinking girls are so equal they can snot them one just like they can another boy, so it's little surprise there.

Define "flirt"? In my experience any sudden movement or pleasantry appears enough in a man's mind to explain the behaviour.

Which is why I practice being a grumpy bitch when in the company of uncivilised drunken men such as footballers.

Deborah said...

Yeah, I had that thought too, ck, about boys thinking it's okay to hit girls.

But it's a real sh*t that just smiling nicely means you are consenting to sex.

Not A Feminist said...

It's so awful things are that bad. And I cannot make myself believe they're any better in NZ.

The media release continues:
“Often we run programs for
girls on how to avoid assault – yet that is not where the problem lies. Men and boys have a real positive role to play
in preventing violence,”

Yup. Tell this to ALAC.

Anonymous said...

Pity they won't tell us what questions were asked so we can work out what they're talking about. Even more so when it's a survey by a group that relies on people being shocked at the level of violence against women to survive.

Not that I doubt that violence is a serious problem, and that violence against women does occur, but this sort of media beat-up is largely meaningless. The full report contains a lengthy description of what they wanted to measure and explains why they didn't measure actual violence or even try to find out whether women exhibit the negative behaviours they're measuring from men. But not any actual numbers or other "hard facts" about their poll.

It would be interesting if they even had a breakdown of *who* answered which way. I mean, if 50% of girls and 33% of boys think hitting girls is ok, is it still as shocking?


Anonymous said...

As far as "no means no", I think it's a great idea. The key thing is to persuade young women that if they don't say YES loudly and clearly when they want sex, they should expect never to have sex. Explain to them that they are the ones who have an obligation to know what they want and to express that clearly and unambiguously[1].

Because after all, teenagers are known for their clear and unambiguous understanding of their own feelings and their ability to express that.

Otherwise you come across as saying that teenagers shouldn't experiment with anything, especially sex, and ideally shouldn't have sex at all.

[1] since girls are supposed to be more emotionally mature and more articulate than boys as a rule.

tussock said...

One might suggest it's a better idea to tell pubescent boys about when it's OK to have sex, or hit people, rather than asking them. You know, with the teaching and stuff, if not the parenting.