Help me respond constructively to my brother!
March 17, 2013 6:39 PM   Subscribe

My older brother (in his 50s) posted something on FB regarding the Steubenville rape case, which was:

"Well, this is not going to make me any friends, but here goes anyway:

I am less than totally sympathetic for this young woman because she can not be completely absolved of a significant amount of responsibility of what happened to her:
- To say she had no responsibility for her own well being is ludicrous. Had she stayed at least conscience, not sober just conscience, she could have prevented this with a simple "Don't touch me there." Instead she drank to the point she passed out (at 16 no less. The parents have no culpability?) and consequently "depended upon the kindness of strangers." Which leads directly to:
- if you chose to swim with sharks (teenage boys with alcohol) you had better expect to get bitten. The boys made unacceptable choices but to carry this for the rest of their lives is beyond appropriate.

Kind of like defensive driving. You don't walk through a bad part of town with $100 bills stuck on your shirt and think you are absolved of all blame or responsibility if you are mugged."

I am appalled and very disappointed at the same time - he has a daughter who's only a few years younger than me (we're in our 30s).

I'd like to respond in a way that is thoughtful and hopefully makes him think about a different way (or ways) to look at the issue. Right now, I cannot think of anything, because my first response is FUCK YOU, MISOGYNIST PIECE OF SHIT WHO NEVER HAD TO WORRY ABOUT GETTING RAPED IN YOUR LIIIIIIIFE, and then lava starts pouring out of my ears.

I'm not especially close to this brother, but I would like to remain on good terms with him. Appeals to logic, not emotion, work best with him - but all my logic skillz have just flown right out the window.
posted by HopperFan to Human Relations (52 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

I think the right answer to this question depends on your family dynamics, which we don't know. If you feel like you want to send him something that's kind of devastating without reading as explosive or "feminist" (because it sounds like your brother is likely to tune out any feminist-identified discussion) I might try a simple link to this Gawker piece, with no commentary of your own beyond a simple "I thought this was good." Let others be mad for you, if being mad doesn't serve your purpose.
posted by escabeche at 6:50 PM on March 17, 2013 [6 favorites]

Ugh. Honestly, I unfriended a family member on Facebook over posts like that. I would get into it with him, and offer a totally reasonable argument and would be dismissed as a liberal pinko. (...Not entirely untrue.) And his post were sexist, racist, and completely offensive. They were so bad after the results of the U.S. 2012 election that I just couldn't take it anymore and unfriended him. I had removed him from my newsfeed but a trainwrecky part of me couldn't resist looking at his page. The kind of shit he would say online was making me feel that he was truly a bad person. (It was THAT bad.) So, in order for us to have a nice relationship in person (and we do), Facebook had to go.
posted by Aquifer at 6:52 PM on March 17, 2013

Best answer: It's not logical but I think I'd just say "I'm really surprised and disappointed you feel this way." And then I'd hide and unfollow the post.

I know it's a family member, but I don't think I'd engage him much beyond that. I don't think you can change his mind but I think you should absolutely say something.
posted by darksong at 6:54 PM on March 17, 2013 [35 favorites]

Best answer: Could you simply point out that if someone did walk through a bad part of town with $100 bills stuck to their shirt and got mugged, the person who mugged them would still be guilty of robbery? The law is pretty clear that you can't take other people's money: if you're passed out drunk and someone takes your wallet, still not OK. The same thing applies here; what those football players did was illegal without consent, no matter the circumstances.

Another thing you could point out is that the young men involved could have prevented this by simply, you know, not touching the girl. Describing them as "sharks" seems to be saying that they can't be expected to be in control of themselves, that this kind of behavior is just in their nature and should be partially excused because of that. Does he genuinely believe that?

The best choice in this situation might be to just stay out of it, honestly, but if you have to say something ask one or two questions and then try your best to stay away. Heated arguments on Facebook with family and a whole crowd of random people you or he knows getting involved are unlikely to end well.
posted by MadamM at 6:55 PM on March 17, 2013 [23 favorites]

Why is he holding her accountable for her drinking but not the two boys? If they hadn't been drinking, they probably wouldn't have raped her.
posted by jaguar at 7:01 PM on March 17, 2013 [8 favorites]

Honestly, this guy reminds me of my dad. You can try to educate him (for his poor daughter's sake at least) but at 50, thinking like this tends to be very firmly entrenched. For myself, my solution is to have very little to do with him. If I'm forced to deal with this kind of talk in my presence, (and I was raised with misogynistic viewpoints rammed down me and my 4 sisters' throats!) I'll literally get up and walk out of the room. Maybe tell your brother if he keeps it up you'll block him, then do it. The thing is, he knows he's being offensive - he just doesn't care so it's not a case of being misguided, it's a case of assholitis. I'm really sorry, I know how much it sucks.
posted by Jubey at 7:02 PM on March 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My experience has been that victim blamers can always be counted on to blame victims, as shown by this:

You don't walk through a bad part of town with $100 bills stuck on your shirt and think you are absolved of all blame or responsibility if you are mugged

Victim blaming always seem to coincide with people who slavishly believe that anything bad that happens to a person must be a result of poor judgement/behavior/karma. They will search religiously for a "fault" that caused the bad incident to happen, and just can't seem to accept that very bad things can happen without misstep or provocation.

It's a form of control. The attitude of "I am in complete control of my life, so if someone bad happens it's because I failed to do X." They project that belief on to others, and the result is victim blaming.

Honestly, I don't know if you can logic someone out of a controlling personality. It's like trying to convince them that luck exists when they clearly believe that they are responsible for anything and everything that happens to them. You just can't overcome that much cognitive dissonance.
posted by Shouraku at 7:03 PM on March 17, 2013 [46 favorites]

I can totally understand your feeling that it's kind of the responsible thing to do to say something, and even if it puts a tiny spark that makes him or his FB friends question themselves, then something positive is accomplished. One idea I have is to just post a link to this Ask Moxie column A Letter to my sons about stopping rape. Maybe thinking about it from that perspective could help him think about it anew.
posted by gubenuj at 7:05 PM on March 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

You're not going to change his opinion. Ignore the post, and unfollow and/or block his feed from appearing on yours.
posted by dfriedman at 7:13 PM on March 17, 2013 [4 favorites]

Another thought: "If your daughter had gone out partying in high school and had gotten really drunk, what would you consider a reasonable punishment for her? Grounding her? Or having her get raped? Rape is not a "natural consequence" of bad behavior. It's a criminal act that no one, by definition, invites or deserves."
posted by jaguar at 7:25 PM on March 17, 2013 [45 favorites]

Best answer: "So if those guys had raped a drunk boy, would he have been asking for it, too?"
posted by gatorae at 7:26 PM on March 17, 2013 [29 favorites]

So, if those guys had raped HIM while he was drunk, would he have been asking for it, too?
posted by Jubey at 7:36 PM on March 17, 2013 [6 favorites]

I really don't think there's a way to actually engage him here and remain civil. In my experience, guys in his demographic and of his general opinions delight in taking every opportunity to prove that You're Wrong and Liberal and Also An Illogical Woman. I strongly advise leaving a short note, maybe a link if one looks particularly good, and then disengaging completely.

Me, I'd unfriend him, because who needs that in their lives? But manage according to the fallout you foresee.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:40 PM on March 17, 2013 [6 favorites]

The boys made unacceptable choices but to carry this for the rest of their lives is beyond appropriate.

"Why not? She'll carry the pain for their 'unacceptable choices' for the rest of her life. Why shouldn't they bear lifelong consequences, too? Her life matters as much as theirs. Unless you truly believe that getting drunk is a MORE 'unacceptable choice' than raping someone."
posted by scody at 7:41 PM on March 17, 2013 [21 favorites]

I suggest that whatever you do, don't do it on Facebook. It's exactly the worst kind of forum for this sort of debate/interaction. If you feel it's important that it be publicly countered, then I'd go with the simple "surprised and disappionted" response, and voice the rest of your thoughts in an email or pick up the damn phone. The odd arms'-length-but-public interaction of a few comments on Facebook creates a bizarrely distancing, stagey argument that is very rarely thought-provoking or likely to create change.

There may be cogent and very personal arguments you can make on some platform other than social media, and there may be links you can share with him. But apart from the value of publicly standing in front of his friend network - some of whom may, in fact, agree with him and see this as an invitation to take you on - there's not much you can accomplish if you stay in this venue.
posted by Miko at 7:43 PM on March 17, 2013 [20 favorites]

Family flame wars never serve any purpose. Let it go.
posted by bananafish at 7:50 PM on March 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've hidden friends from my feed for denying the Armenian genocide. If you wanted to hide him from your feed for this, I'd totally understand.
posted by kat518 at 7:52 PM on March 17, 2013

you could mention the testimony of the girl who said (not verbatim) she had 2 drinks passed out, woke in the morning, doesn't remember anything,

You could mention that the "kindness of strangers" is exactly that, that when someone is obviously incapacitated the kindness of strangers is needed. These boys got what they asked for basically when they abandoned all decency and common sense. Their friends, in joining in on the "goof" actually helped seal their fate, as something like 1000 texts and various posts is what got these clowns convicted.

If you don't want to get convicted for rape, DON'T rape someone.

Cordial coolness in future dealings with your brother, he need not even know why.
posted by Max Power at 7:53 PM on March 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If you're going to try a logic appeal to the rational argument I think it would be important to recognize that there are certainly two different issues at hand:

1)Stupid boys got criminally drunk and molested a girl
2)Stupid girl got criminally drunk and got molested.

On both sides young people exercised brutally poor judgement and reaped consequences.

No, this situation is certainly not symmetrical, equal or necessarily causal.
Yes, your brother could have made this point, if it is indeed the point he was trying to make, in a less incendiary way.
No, it may not be the important take-away.

In the end, should you choose to voice a contrary opinion I would suggest:
-carefully choose an aspect of the situation to contest
-clearly identify the point of view from which you're making your argument
-lay out your _reasons_ for disagreeing, as opposed to the feelings that prompt your reaction
-express a clear alternative conclusion that (if possible) applies to the case specifically and the situation in general. ie: has predictive power
-separately explain your feelings toward his statement as a different issue, no more real or important, but related to _this_ interaction and not tied to the legal case.

In situations where one takes a contrary stance in an emotionally charged debate (whether there should be debate or no) encountering said emotion is not likely to result in a constructive dialog. When trying to deal with someone who successfully pushes your buttons it is important to separate the emotion from the argument/debate and treat them as separate issues. This doesn't mean that you can not seek recourse when feeling badly, simply that by treating te two as sperate issues gives you the opportunity to successfully argue the rational case _and_ bring the emotional one forward for due consideration.

Conflating the two will never make your case stronger but will always give your argument more surface from which to be attacked. Feeling strongly about something doesn't make you more right, but can make you more motivated which is powerful in a different way.

If I read things correctly I might try opening the conversation this way:

"""I understand that everyone involved made poor choices. I agree that, ultimately, and adult is responsible for their own well being. I disagree with the suggestion that the girl in anyway invited, or had reasonable expectation of, being raped as a consequence of public drunkenness. It is unfair, unethical and morally dangerous to suggest that the kindness of strangers is the predominant protection against unlawful activity. I wonder if the language you used might have been different if the gender roles had been reversed. Given this evidence of the depths to which some people have sunk I ask 'what are the lessons you seek to instill in your own daughter: that making poor choices is tantamount to, and justification for, rape? Or that alcohol effectively erases all culpability and that every one everywhere is strictly responsible for their own safety against drunk rapists, drunk drivers and drunken assault alike'.

Additionally I feel that, given your statement, the assumptions you appear to have made, the language you've used to describe an abhorrent situation and the false equivalence you've made between rape and underage drinking are shallow, callous, dangerous and offensive."""

I do apologize if I have, in turn, made inaccurate assumptions about how you feel or what you are trying to address with your brother. I wish you the best on both accounts and hope you find satisfactory redress. I know I would be terribly hurt if I thought I would have to have a similar conversation with one of my brothers.
posted by mce at 7:54 PM on March 17, 2013 [8 favorites]

"If [niece] ever gets into a terrible situation, and you don't stand by her, I will."

I don't say that you should say this on FB. For that, a simple "I'm disappointed in you" would suffice. Face to face, though, it would be unforgettable.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:55 PM on March 17, 2013 [8 favorites]

Yeah unfortunately Facebook is just not a medium for having a rational discussion about issues like this. (Unfortunate, because, it IS a medium for people mouthing off poorly-formed opinion snippets and making the reader feel like a grenade has been lobbed into her lap.)

I agree with a "surprised and disappointed" comment and leave it at that on FB. You're not going to change anyone's mind there.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:59 PM on March 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think if he isn't grasping that rape by (oversimplified) definition means that one person said, "Don't touch me there" and the other person(s) ignored them, you're really not going to get anywhere with him. Not to mention that people who preface comments with some variation of "I know I'm going to get flamed for saying this" are generally just shit-stirring for the sake of shit-stirring. This also makes me think you wouldn't get any further in person.

For the record, I worked at a rape crisis center for several years, so I'd have a hard time taking my own advice on this one, too.
posted by camyram at 8:04 PM on March 17, 2013

Response by poster: Thank you all for the thoughtful responses - I'm still furious and I have that awful tight feeling in my chest, so I think I'm just going to take a bath and then straight to bed so I can sleep on it.
posted by HopperFan at 8:09 PM on March 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: One of my daughters in high school made the error in judgement of getting plastered at a party. HER friends, male and female, cleaned her up, got her in fresh clothes and brought her home. Nobody raped her.

Because HER friends and acquaintances weren't rapists.

I don't know if posting on fb is the way to go but if it were me, I would post something like that Gawker article on his wall.

(By the way, you can also tell him that for years I blamed myself for my own rape to the point I didn't even call it rape till the last decade or so -this happened when I was a teenager and I am now about HIS age-and that blaming the victim, especially at that age, is a pretty rotten thing to do. Was I wise about the situation I had put myself in? Heck no. Did I deserve to be raped? HELL no.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:14 PM on March 17, 2013 [21 favorites]

What I'd love to post, if I were you, is "Wow, big brother - if you, or if any of those young men, had learned even one of these five lessons, none of this would be up for discussion."

But I wouldn't, because Facebook isn't the place for such things if you want peace in your life.

And even if you could perfectly respond to him in a forum like that, it wouldn't make the ugly and disheartening opinion he shared go away from the world. He's just one of many to voice it. Until Facebook lets people easily use gifs to respond, and until tone can be better expressed in written communication, there really are no words.
posted by peagood at 8:17 PM on March 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

I spoke once to an extremely nice man, an educated professional with far better manners than most people I have met, who told me he routinely plied dates with alcohol as a means to get laid. His definition of "consent" and mine were not on the same page. I made a mental note to never date the man.

The reality is that first time sex very frequently involves alcohol. So does rape, especially date rape. So I would personally wonder if your brother is feeling defensive about past behavior of his own. I would wonder if he is really stating "for the record" that "I am no rapist! We were both drinking and you can't just blame me for that!"

If that is the case, the only hope you have of convincing him to modify his position is if you somehow manage to validate his own drunken escapades as "not rape" and clearly distinguish first time drunken sex from raping an unconscious girl who had zero ability to consent. And you may have to do that without questioning him about his experiences. You may have to do it without ever implying you suspect this is a form of denial/defensiveness. If that is his motive for making this statement, it will be very tricky to say anything effective about it. He is extremely unlikely to admit that his motive is to make himself feel okay about some drunken sexual encounter of his own.

If you want to try to do that, I would start by conceding that a lot of first time sex involves alcohol and a lot of date rape involves alcohol-fueled misunderstanding. But this case leaves zero room for fumbling, bumbling misunderstandings. No matter how drunk, raping an unconscious girl is not some drunken misunderstanding. This is totally unrelated to any anecdotes about a girl being miffed about saying "yes" while drunk or a girl feeling ambivalent the morning after or something.
posted by Michele in California at 8:26 PM on March 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

I made myself a rule to never engage in drama or arguments on facebook and it has served me well. I highly recommend it.
posted by saul wright at 9:09 PM on March 17, 2013

it depends on what you mean "constructively". you won't be able to change his mind, if that's what you mean by constructive. with a different meaning of "constructive" you could take his premiss and project it to it's logical conclusion. this can be the most fun way to respond to these things, if you want to respond at all. something like "i bet she drives on the same roads those high school teenagers drive on."
posted by cupcake1337 at 9:40 PM on March 17, 2013

There are two questions here: should you confront your brother, and should you do it publicly (on Facebook).

I know that for me, the urge to have these confrontations publicly often comes from a desire not to let my silence be taken for approval in a public place. And that is understandable. But responding in someone's comments is both aggressive and puts you at a disadvantage...after all, his friends are likely to agree and pile on.

What I usually do is post, on my own timeline, something that says what I think. This both makes my stance clear to anyone who follows me and give the offender the chance to either let it go unchallenged, or else fight on my "turf", in my comments, where my friends are likely to tell them off.

If he wishes to make it more personal at that point, he can, but you have the high ground.
posted by emjaybee at 9:44 PM on March 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

A woman being drunk doesn't mean it's OK to rape her, just like a guy walking alone with a $100 bill doesn't mean it's OK to mug him or just like a person being hateful doesn't mean it's OK to murder him or her. Why is it that no one ever blames the victim and sympathizes with the perpetrator of a crime, except when it comes to rape? Per your brother's analogy, maybe the problem was that the teenage boys were behaving like "sharks" or viewing a girl as chum instead of as a human being. Not sure what you can really say, but maybe something simple: Rape is never OK and it's never a woman's fault that someone decided to have sex with her without her consent.

You run a risk that he will respond and engage further. My mom has a nutso conservative friend who thinks Obama is from Kenya and all that shit, and she posted a nice quote on her wall about finding harmony in political differences and he went off, and someone responded trying to have a civil discussion, friend went off further, and everytime someone tried to end the discussion on a rational peaceful note, her friend just kept going. Some people aren't rational. You might wish to message your brother directly and tell him how hurtful it is to say something like that publicly -- after all, does he know what all of his female Facebook friends have ever been through? not that there's ever a place for it, but Facebook isn't the place to get into rape victim blaming. And one year hardly seems like something worth feeling pity over. It amazes me that these kids probably would've gotten worse sentences if they were selling drugs.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:01 PM on March 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Let this go. Once you're at the point where you are posting rants on FB, nothing is going to change your mind. And it's only going to make you even angrier when he comes back with something else. Take comfort in the fact that justice was served. His comment is just noise.
posted by murfed13 at 11:16 PM on March 17, 2013

The boys made unacceptable choices but to carry this for the rest of their lives is beyond appropriate.

God, I hate this kind of mealy-mouthed, weasel-worded phrasing. People use it to add a veneer of calm respectability to offensive statements. I mean, really: an 'unacceptable choice'? ('Hmmm, should I choose to rape or not to rape? So many tough choices in life, LOL!'). 'Beyond appropriate'?? (If he means 'inappropriate', he should say so).

How about: 'These young men decided to do something violent and criminal. The 'appropriate' punishment is one that reflects society's revulsion for what they did.'

Would I post something on his FB page? Oh, hell yeah. I so would. I'm more than happy to rock the boat where bullshit like this is concerned, just in case there's a remote chance that he (or anyone else) might think silence indicates approval. YMMV.
posted by Salamander at 11:28 PM on March 17, 2013 [11 favorites]

I'm one of the few who thinks we should discuss these sorts of things on Facebook, or Twitter, or whatever the platform may be. For better or worse, this is where a lot of discussion goes on in our society today. If anything, I think discussing politics or religion is better and more important than relentless self-pics and pasted inspirational quotes.

It may (or may not) be true that he will never change his mind, but ignoring either of those outcomes, I think there is still value in publicly standing up for the idea that the onus should not be on the woman to prevent her own rape.

For so many of these issues I think it's important that, when someone posts a message of hate or intolerance, we make it known that not everyone agrees with these sentiments, that there is room for dissent, that there are people who care, that voicing opposing opinions has at least as much validity, and that to some it matters deeply that these opinions do not become status quo or even law. Because you never know who might be reading and taking your post or comment to heart. I remember many of the people from my childhood who stood up for certain issues, even (or particularly) when they were clearly in the minority, and I am still emboldened and heartened by such courage today.
posted by theuninvitedguest at 11:51 PM on March 17, 2013 [6 favorites]

Perhaps he's been watching CNN?

And if so, he could just be rehashing something he's heard that day, without really considering it deeply. I would write something on his wall, to perhaps give him pause and let him think about the ramifications of what he's just said. You may even change his mind!
posted by stevedawg at 12:08 AM on March 18, 2013

I assume that is a direct cut and paste? He's too stupid to know the difference between "conscious" and "conscience," why waste your energy?
posted by Good Brain at 12:28 AM on March 18, 2013 [5 favorites]

You said he sees himself as a friend of logic - why not try to be completely neutral in tone and quietly linking to something which points out the fallacy at the bottom of both his examples? Something like "I thought you might find this interesting". Then leave it at that and walk away, avoid engaging with that post by even reading others' responses.

I found that link yesterday in a thread somewhere here on metafilter; unfortunately I don't remember exactly where, but as far as I recall that whole comment was very thoughtfully discussing beliefs like this (basically, the world is a just place, so if you have shit happening to you, you must be at least co-author if not entirely to blame; and rape seems to be one situation where this belief manifests most strongly). If anyone else remembers the source for that link and can point to it, you might find it helpful.

Also, I'm sorry this has happened - I've got my own virulently xenophobic uncle and it's quite a shock to the system to realise family members are carriers of such abhorrent attitudes. What fazes me most: for each thing like this where you vocally uphold the right of others to abuse and traumatise someone, you implicitly argue in favour of the same happening to you, your family and friends. Seems a more than illogical approach to personal safety... "Let's create an environment where we can totally abuse someone on the basis of their short or long-term vulnerability, and then shirk responsibility by invoking said vulnerability".
posted by miorita at 12:56 AM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Good grief..... he really pulled out all the cliches', didn't he? If you really, really need to comment, maybe try something like
"Women sleeping in their own beds in their own locked homes are sometimes raped by intruders --- is that their fault, too?"
"Simply saying 'no' isn't going to make a potential rapist stop"
"Did you read the part about how this girl only had two drinks, and was probably drugged?"

As far as Facebook goes, what I've done (to a truely obnoxious brother-in-law) was to block his posts, rather than un-friending him entirely --- it saves family drama: he can't see that I've blocked him, but he COULD see if I un-friended him. I get a clean & peaceful FB feed, he gets to rant to his heart's content, nobody gets their nose out of joint for thinking I've 'disrespected' him.
posted by easily confused at 3:55 AM on March 18, 2013

Yeah, according to the courtroom testimony, the girl was drugged, not drunk.

Of the responses above, I like scody's best.

Even if you simply defriend him, leave a comment saying why.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:37 AM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think Michele in California has it right.

With men of that age, I think the response to get them to start changing is, "Wait, are you telling me you would raise sons who would think it was appropriate to do this to an unconscious girl?" Because then you're attacking them in the "Aren't you a Good Man? Can't you raise Good Sons?" place, which will then get them to vocally defend with "Of course I would never raise MY sons to do something like that, I'm just SAYING, blah blah vomit blah." And then you return with, "Well then, if you would never raise your sons to do it, I'm glad you accept it was wrong. What were those boy's parents thinking, not to raise them not to do this?"
posted by corb at 4:40 AM on March 18, 2013 [6 favorites]

People like this will never understand anything like it until it happens to them. THEM, not even their family or direct children. I would just say something like "Noone deserves to be raped. It is wrong to rape people." and defriend. If he wants to argue that people deserved to be raped and that raping people is ok in certain cercumstances, then let his asshole shine.
posted by WeekendJen at 5:19 AM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Husbunny's cousin is in my Facebook feed. He's a fundamentalist Christian and doesn't he half come up with some shit.

If I find it TRULY offensive (as opposed to laughably stupid) then I'll respond. So, if for example, Cousin had posted what your brother had posted, here's what I'd have responded with:

"No woman deserves to be violated, no matter what she is doing. It is very easy for a 50 year-old man, who has never had to live with the fear of rape, to judge a 16 year-old girl for her behavior. There is no such thing as asking for it."

Then I'd unfriend him.

I did unfriend someone after some really annoying political stuff during the last election. I don't miss him at all. Go figure.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:33 AM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Which leads directly to:- if you chose to swim with sharks (teenage boys with alcohol) you had better expect to get bitten.

When sharks develop a taste for human flesh we kill them.
posted by atrazine at 6:57 AM on March 18, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I wouldn't frame any comment about the girl, I'd talk about boys. I wouldn't even talk about how she was drugged, because that might imply that someone who wasn't drugged but drunk would have deserved to be raped. I don't know if I'd put this on facebook or in an email or in a phone conversation--it would depend on the people involved, I guess. In any case, here's what I would want to say to him:

You're being pretty unfair to teenage boys. They are not animals. They know right from wrong. And, sure, most teenage boys (like most teenage girls) are very interested in sex, and spend a lot of time and energy trying to get it--but most don't rape. Most don't rape even when they're alone with a girl who's been flirting and drinking with them. Most don't rape because they know it's wrong. These boys weren't compelled by some animal instinct to violate their unconscious friend's body. It was a choice. They could have helped her get home safely and enjoyed the rest of the night with girls who were awake, but they chose to harm this girl instead. That was their choice. They weren't set up. They were teens partying with other teens, and they ran into the fairly common situation of a teen passing out. Most teens wouldn't rape the unconscious person, these boys did, and now they're being held accountable.

It may well be that our criminal justice system doesn't serve young people well, and that we should have better ways as a society to rehabilitate young people who commit crimes, but that would be true of any crime, not just because of the nature of this one.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:05 AM on March 18, 2013 [24 favorites]

I'm in the minority here because I do think there is value in publicly disagreeing when someone posts something truly vile, like this. Racism, homophobia, rape apology, etc. should not get a pass just because it's FB.

The key, though, is to post something calm and thoughtful and then do whatever you can to avoid getting drawn into an argument. Exercise willpower if you can (I can't), or hide the post, hide the person, unfriend the person. Get in, say your piece, get out.
posted by Mavri at 9:53 AM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm so sorry. This is infuriating.
I saw this going around on Twitter the last few weeks, and I really like it. Paraphrased:

"Remember what the rape statistics are. Remember that, in all likelihood, a woman you know and love has been raped. Realize that every time you blame the victim, someone you know and love decides they can no longer trust you."

Because he's not just passing judgment on this one young woman - he's passing judgment on all women who have been assaulted. It's always the woman's fault somehow. And they never realize that emotional scars go far deeper than a short sentence issued with the sympathy of the judge, the community, and the news media.

To be honest, if it were me, I would say something like "I know plenty of men who have been around women who were passed-out drunk who managed to not become rapists. Thanks for letting us know you're not one of them."

But then again, I'm not above burning bridges.
posted by Phire at 9:58 AM on March 18, 2013 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: All of these answers were great - I cobbled something together from the ones I marked as best answer, and posted it.

Only two other people commented on his post besides me, one of them being his daughter, and one a man about his own age - and neither one supported his viewpoint, so that was a relief.
posted by HopperFan at 10:05 AM on March 18, 2013 [8 favorites]

I see that you already posted something, but you might post this video (not for the faint of heart).
posted by murfed13 at 3:59 PM on March 18, 2013

Response by poster: I thought you would all like to know that I got a response, which Shouraku accurately predicted :

"There seems to be quite a bit of reading between the lines of what I have written here.

I, obviously, am failing to get my point across.

I never implied this girl was "asking" for it. She did not deserve to have happen to her what eventually did happen.

I am looking at this solely as an engineer who is trying to determine what happend, why it happened and, finally, how it could have been prevented.

I spend all too much time in the ward rooms of submarines in critiques looking at accidents to find the answers to the above questions. Also, being a private pilot, I spend some time reading NTSB reports of crashes and their cause. In both cases it is almost 100% true that the events leading up to an accident/incident are constituted of a chain of small, almost unrelated , events (links) where if any single link was broken the final culminating event would not have happened.

We find the same thing here. Had there been adult supervision, the incident would not have happened. Had there not been alcohol, had the girl not drunk herself unconscious, had some of her "friends" said this is on and so forth, this would not have happened.

In the final analysis, with a cold, steely eyed analysis of the incident, the girl clearly failed to break the links in the chain over which she had control.

Finally, and this is the last word, I find this incident maddening because [insert our family name here] are not victims. I find the idea of not doing everything I could to prevent being a victim an anathema to me. It would give me faint comfort if I had the opportunity to prevent myself from being robbed, raped or murdered, and did nothing to prevent it and then say with moral certitude that I am a victim.

It's the old ounce of prevention thing.

And, yes, all too many teenage boys are all too often unpleasant, undisciplined animals. Another link in the chain.

I will be deleting this entire post in 24 hours."

I won't be responding - he does seem entrenched, but I did my best by speaking out against his opinions, with help from all of you. Thanks.
posted by HopperFan at 8:04 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

That's pretty awful. He's entrenched all right. He's got a massive set of double standards. If you did choose to further engage, do it off Facebook. Why would he feel the need to delete the post, though, if this is his affirmed view? I don't get that.

As to his reasoning, obviously, had the guys not raped the girl, this would not have happened. Why is she required to "break the links" when they aren't? They had the causal link. I'd expect an engineer to know the difference between risk factors and direct causal factors. Alcohol for anyone is a risk factor in that it raises the likelihood of rape. But it's not a causal factor, because people get drunk together every night of the year, and we don't all inevitably get raped.

[insert our family name here] are not victims.

How would he know?

Maybe your best response is to message his wife, daughter, and any other female relatives just to let 'em know you're there for them if they ever need anything.
posted by Miko at 8:18 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I hope it's ok to respond to Miko's questions here, though I know AskMe isn't supposed to be a back and forth chat - I'l try to be brief :

- "Why would he feel the need to delete the post, though, if this is his affirmed view?"

I think because no one agreed with him, and he feels pissy about it. He didn't get any angry responses, either - all were reasonable and non-aggressive suggestions of possibly looking at the situation differently.

- "'[insert our family name here] are not victims.' How would he know?"

He doesn't, of course. I think he just meant something equally foolish, that we don't have a "victim mentality," or something like that. Which is dumb.

I agree with you on risk factors vs. causal factors, but at this point, I give up. His niece already knows how I feel (I emailed her directly to sort of say "WTF is up with that post?" and she's on the same page as I am), but I don't know his wife well enough to contact her directly.
posted by HopperFan at 8:30 PM on March 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

I don't think it went that badly. If you can't persuade someone that victim-blaming is wrong, showing them that victim-blaming should not be done publicly in polite company is probably the next-best outcome.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 5:27 AM on March 19, 2013 [12 favorites]

It's so sad that her family and friends didn't protect her and teach her how to protect herself. I'm surprised and disappointed by your comment, because it's even sadder that the parents, family, friends and coaches of those boys didn't teach them not to take advantage of a young woman and rape her. I know you, and I am confident that if there were an unconscious girl at a party, you'd make sure she got home safely.
posted by theora55 at 11:55 AM on March 20, 2013

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