A ranty, funny, dead-serious intersectional feminist blog.

“The Problem is Bike-Stealing Culture” and Other Asinine Arguments

Guest post by Sid

Screen shot 2013-03-24 at 12.45.12 PMOk folks, here’s the thing:

Someone is wrong on the internet.

Lots, really. Several, if we get right down to it, but I’m a busy gal and I’ve only got so much time. As such, let’s zero in on a Facebook conversation I watched go down just the other day. A friend of mine posted about CNN’s coverage of the Steubenville verdict, which I won’t recount here because if you don’t know it by now, you probably don’t own a computer. This was her take:

Well said and good for her. Naturally, this was the first response:

When my friend expressed hope he was kidding, he clarified:

And finally, when called out on perpetuating rape culture, he had this charming tidbit to add:

Mmmmmmk Sweetiekins…since you seem to be so very lost, allow me to break this down for you one asinine comment at a time.

1. “If laws are in place to protect the people, then people who are injured as a result of their breaking the law don’t get the same sympathy.”

A girl went to a party and got drunk. Tell me who she injured. Do not say the reputations of these boys. I want you to tell me EXACTLY WHO this girl PHYSICALLY INJURED as a result of her intoxication. Tell me.

Did she beat someone up? Did she hit people with sticks? SHE WAS UNCONSCIOUS. Was she drinking underage? Yes. Yes, she was. She got drunk and she passed out. And that should be the end of this story.

2. “When a drunk driver hits a telephone pole, does anyone sympathize with him?”

Okay, I want to make sure the sentiment of my next statement is very, very clear.


Reasons we get pissed off when drunk drivers hit telephone poles:

  1. This person drank to excess and then got behind the wheel of a vehicle.

  2. This person drank to excess and then put the lives of EVERYONE on the road in danger.

  3. This person drank to excess and then possibly cut my phone service.

  4. This person drank to excess and then made DECISIONS which affected his evening.

The drunk driver who hit a pole did not just drink to excess. That is not the end of the sentence. Were that the end of the sentence, he wouldn’t have hit the telephone pole. He would have woken up the next day, possibly with a permanent-marker penis on his face. Jane Doe drank to excess…and that’s the end of her sentence. She passed out. This story should have ended with a permanent-marker penis, at the very worst.

3. “…but she consensually broke the law to place herself in a situation she knew was risky.”

Do you think going to a party is risky, Sweetiekins? When you personally get ready for a party, do you think to yourself, “Oh no, I’m heading to the danger zone!”? Do you personally find drinking at a party to be a risky thing for you—specifically you, Sweetiekins—to do? No? So you don’t view a party as a place where you should constantly have to look over your shoulder and see who’s trying to attack you?


4. “At least suspend her from school to send the message that underage drinking is illegal for a reason.”


“We’re proud of you for pressing charges against your rapists. There was almost certainly a lot of social and peer pressure not to press charges, but we think you make the right decision. We know the media has been tearing you apart and you must feel like three shades of crap right now, but about that minor drinking violation…”

Folks, this is how we make people afraid to come forward with rape charges. I’m not saying you should be able to get away with whatever you want because of it, but for crying out loud, underage drinking is a victimless crime. Literally the only reason anyone wants her to get hit with a punishment for it is because they want to find a way to make this her fault, too. And it’s just not.

5. “I don’t know if a ‘rape culture’ exists, but more problematic than that is this culture of ‘not taking responsibility for one’s actions.”

First let’s touch on this culture of “not taking responsibility for one’s actions.” I think your next line really brings your feelings on this into focus, so let’s look at it:

Rape victim: “I didn’t do anything wrong, the problem is the rape culture.”

Rapist: “I didn’t do anything wrong, the problem is the rape culture.”

Mmk, this tells me that you have no idea what rape culture is. Like, at all. No sarcasm. So let’s touch on it.

Rape culture is this, the world we live in, where all the questions focus on what the victim did to deserve her rape. It’s the culture where people are honestly responding to this trial with, “Those poor boys’ lives are ruined,” when the reason their lives are ruined is because they chose to commit rape.

Rape culture is the culture where most women who are raped don’t report it, specifically because they already know they abuse they’ll get. They know that it is them, the victims (and not the rapists), who will be torn apart and made to believe that whatever they did, be it have the gall to go out for a drink in the evening or the audacity to wear a skirt in public, is the reason that they deserved their rape.

And it’s just not ever true. It isn’t ever.

6. “Rapist: You did do something wrong and need to be punished.”

Hey! Yes! You got one right!

7. “Rape victim: You didn’t do anything wrong, but don’t blame a ‘rape culture’ for your stupidity and lack of foresight.”

Aaaaaand my sympathy for you is gone again. You had it for like, an eighth of a second there.

So really, explain this to me, Sweetiekins. Is this the “women should expect to be raped at all times” song? Cuz I gotta tell ya, I’ve heard it, and I really prefer Mumford & Sons. It just makes more sense to me.

Why should I spend every moment of my life expecting to be raped? Do you have any idea how exhausting that is? I mean, do you? It takes a lot of mental energy to spend all day thinking up exit strategies or figuring out how fast you can punch the guy on the bus next to you if he puts his hand on your leg. Know how I know? Cuz I do it every fucking day.

Seriously, do this for me: spend one day—just one day—keeping yourself ready for rape at all times. When you walk out the door, look around for strangers. If you see someone who looks iffy, cross the street, even if it takes longer. Keep your keys pressed through your fingers if you walk alone at night. Look all around you every few seconds. You passed some guy walking down the street? Turn around to make sure he’s not running up to attack you but look fucking nonchalant about it you don’t want to cause a scene. Wait, is he following you?? Speed up! Quick, you don’t want him to find out where you wor—oh, he turned the corner. Nevermind.

Talk to me again about foresight, Sweetiekins.

8. “Following your logic, when my $1000 bike was stolen over Spring Break when I had it locked in the racks instead of taking it inside, I did nothing to ask for it. I did ask for it.”

I. Can’t. Even.

You locked up your bike…your bike was stolen…and it was your fault because you didn’t lock it up more?

I just…I don’t even know what to do with that.

secure bike

9. “Yes, there is a bike thief out there, but I am not going to detract from my ownership of the problem by saying, ‘Oh, the problem is a Bike-Stealing Culture.’”

I’m going to set aside the sociological points of actual crime culture here, because I feel that it gets away from the primary point I wish to make. You ready for this? Cuz I’m about to blow your mind.

The invasion of a woman’s body without her consent is not nor should it ever be compared to PETTY OR GRAND THEFT.

Did I really just have to write that sentence?

What, so I have be careful for having the nerve to walk about in public in blatant possession of a vagina? What am I supposed to do, Sweetiekins? Leave it at home? Lock it up? Leave your dick at home once in a while. It’s totally possible. There’s a song about it and everything, so it must be true.

Wake. Up. Rape isn’t theft. Sticking any of your appendages into any orifice of an unconscious person is not the same thing as lifting that same unconscious person’s wallet. If you don’t go to a party expecting to get raped, why the hell should I have to? If you don’t abstain from going out for a drink, why the hell  should I have to? If you don’t arrange an escort to walk home in the dark after work, why the hell should I have to?

But if you won’t help break the cycle of rape culture, I guess that means that I have to.

Read Sid’s previous MMAS articles in Sid’s Stuff. Follow her at @SeeSidWrite.

Respectful discussion is welcome and encouraged. When in doubt, see the Comment Policy.

31 responses

  1. I will never be able to understand how people can blame the victim. Someone very close to me, although they agree that the rapists are at fault, still says things like, “Well, she shouldn’t have put herself in a dangerous situation.” It’s kind of like, well, everything has the potential to be a dangerous situation. What, are we never supposed to leave the house?? I try to explain it like this, that even if (like with the case in Steubenville) Jane Doe got drunk and passed out, that will never make it her fault; just like if I go out and drive my car and some asshole rear-ends me at a light, it’s not my fault for putting myself in a “dangerous situation.” I didn’t ask anyone to do anything. And this girl certainly did not ask to have her body violated.

    May 22, 2013 at 11:44 am

  2. Pingback: Article Index | See Sid Write

  3. A lot of the stuff I’ve heard about the Steubenville case sickened me. Still does. How those boys could see an unconscious girl and take advantage of her like that is beyond me. And what about the other kids at the party? Why did NO one stand up? These were a lot of the things that went through my mind.

    I also noticed the blame culture at work. Not blaming culture, because obviously the rape culture and the underlying tendency to see people (especially women) as objects was at work. But I mean a culture where we seek a person to blame in order to make ourselves feel better. Let’s face it–what happened was horrible, and hard to comprehend. So it is easier to tell ourselves “she must have done something to bring it on herself” or “the parents were to blame for not keeping track of their kids”. The only people we can rightfully blame in this case are the rapists. Period.

    By assigning blame, it is as if people can try to find a way to explain to themselves how something this awful could happen. When confronted with the stark reality of the world, people turn away, preferring to blame rather than to look deeply at the culture we all take part in to see the rot festering there. It’s much easier to find someone to blame for what occurred, rather than look at the causes and to see that maybe, just maybe, our own actions and thoughts in some small way contributed to the environment where such a crime could take place.

    April 3, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    • Sid

      I think trying to assign blame is definitely a big part of it. When we don’t want something to be true, we try to find a way to blame someone other than the person or persons at fault.

      The interesting thing about this, I think, is that when we use it in relation to ourselves (to veer a bit off the “who to blame in Steubenville ” thing for a moment), it can go either way. Either we can’t face a thing we did, so we blame someone else…OR, even more interestingly, we can’t face a thing someone else did, so we blame ourselves. This is where a lot of non-reported rape and abuse comes into play, I think. I know when I was in an abusive relationship, I kept trying to find a way to make it be my fault. Because he loved me, and I’d provoked him.

      When we can’t face reality, we pick the closest available scapegoat.

      April 5, 2013 at 10:14 pm

  4. i wonder how fast his opinion would change if he was raped??? pretty fast would be my guess.

    March 26, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    • Sid

      I do hope he never experiences that, but you’re probably right. It would give a whole different perspective.

      April 5, 2013 at 10:06 pm

  5. Larissa Lee

    My favorite part of your entire post was: “What, so I have be careful for having the nerve to walk about in public in blatant possession of a vagina? What am I supposed to do, Sweetiekins? Leave it at home?”

    March 26, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    • Sid

      Thank you! :)

      April 5, 2013 at 10:05 pm

  6. Excellent post! I had to deal with a very similar person (friend of a friend) on Facebook earlier today. I suggested to him more or less what you did: if he really didn’t believe there was such a thing as rape culture, he should try this challenge. Go out dressed as a woman for one day, as convincingly as possible, and note how people treated him.

    He didn’t seem terribly keen to take me up on that. Funny, that…

    March 26, 2013 at 11:51 am

    • Sid

      Thank you.

      I keep coming up with little quips to his not wanting to dress up as a woman, but I can’t quite get it fully formed. Something about him knowing how he’d be treated, but equating that as par for the course rather than rape culture. Because it comes down to that.

      April 5, 2013 at 10:05 pm

  7. Righteous rant.

    A while back, when I was getting cranky about a lifetime of “ladies, protect yourselves” anti-crime safety tips, it hit me what my problem is: the way they take advice about how not to get MUGGED, and tie it into sexual assault, as if rape is like getting mugged for sex.

    Sweetiekins’ stolen bike analogy reflects the same underlying idea. Well, what did she expect to happen, leaving her vagina lying around unprotected like that? As if she left a bag unguarded at the airport.

    I’m thinking that this underlying view of women’s sexuality as a *commodity* might be a key component of rape culture.

    March 26, 2013 at 9:14 am

    • The unattended vagina and other cultural myths.

      We might as well use the $20 bill analogy.
      If you saw a $20 bill lying on the ground…

      March 27, 2013 at 7:05 am

    • Sid

      A really excellent point. Women’s sexuality as commodity is a very succinct way of expressing a thought I’ve been mulling over for a while now; been trying to assign words to it.

      April 5, 2013 at 10:00 pm

  8. On your point #3, from what I understand about the background of this story, the girl was technically on a date with one of the boys who ended up raping her later that night. Being technically on a date, she was picked up by him and dependent on other people for transportation the entire night. As for her drinking, it’s easy to argue that her drinking decisions were based on inexperience rather than deviants. I don’t know why people want to criticize a very young girl so harshly for doing something that is, unfortunately, normal among people her age.

    Criticizing her judgment call about going out on a date that night is not like judging this guy’s decision to lock his bike up vs take it inside, but judging his choice to go out into public at all, knowing that there might be some deviant out there who would cause him some harm.

    I’d like to see the reverse cautionary statement more frequently: “Boys be careful about drinking and partying. You might accidentally rape someone.”

    March 25, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    • Sid

      That’s exactly it—the two things don’t compare on a number of levels, and kids should be allowed to make mistakes without rape being the outcome.

      March 25, 2013 at 9:41 pm

  9. Excellent article – great use of logic. Pathetic to think that the guy believes he is using a logical argument. I am thankful to see these words in writing.

    March 25, 2013 at 11:30 am

    • Sid

      Yeah, his logic wasn’t really working for me. And thank you.

      March 25, 2013 at 9:34 pm

  10. beingthathumanthing

    I am so impressed for how you picked his argument apart. I hope he put his tail between his legs and realises how naive he was.

    March 25, 2013 at 6:50 am

    • Sid

      Thanks so much!

      March 25, 2013 at 9:33 pm

  11. Great reply to all his pathetic points!! People like that though are so stuck in their deluded way of thinking, that there is usually no arguing with them… We have to educated the children properly & not be afraid to talk about it with them… You will always get nasty buggers, but at least we can change ignorance & stupidity!!

    March 25, 2013 at 6:12 am

    • Sid

      It’s true—so many minds choose not to change. All we can do is keep talking and hope to eventually get through. :) Thanks for the comment.

      March 25, 2013 at 9:33 pm

  12. This was very well written. This has been what I’ve been saying all week. Someone posted on a Facebook thread I saw that there are more important issues in the world than rape. I was floored. I could not believe it. It makes me sick. The only, and I mean ONLY sentence I disagree with is that rape isn’t theft. I feel like rape is stealing a part of a person, worse than stealing their wallet. Rapists steal security, confidence and lives. Some rape victims blame themselves so much they kill themselves. The rapist essentially stole someone’s life. And anyone saving their virginity for someone special….. They are going to view that gift as impossible to give because of the rape. Rapists do steal many things from their victims.

    I think it’s funny this guy suggests women don’t put themselves in the situation. Good. Heres what i have to Say to him: Fine then mister. I have two concealable guns and if someone such as yourself would ever try to rape or attack me, you would get a bullet in the knee cap and the balls……. And then you would inevitably be mad at me for protecting myself and shooting you because you were unarmed…. But hey it’s okay. Because I asked for it.

    Then you in turn asked to get shot/ stabbed/ tased or any other thing I could possible grab to “prevent that situation”

    Awesome post. Good job.

    March 25, 2013 at 2:28 am

    • Sid

      Thanks so much. And you make a really good point about theft. It *is* a kind of personal theft—something much deeper and significantly worse than property theft.

      March 25, 2013 at 9:32 pm

  13. Good read

    March 24, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    • Sid

      Thank you. :)

      March 24, 2013 at 6:12 pm

  14. I hope Sweetiekins gets to read this! You did a wonderful job breaking down his complete misunderstanding of rape culture.

    March 24, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    • Sid

      Thank you so much!

      March 24, 2013 at 5:26 pm

  15. But… but… when we walk around planning & prepared to defend ourselves from rape all the time we are making ourselves victims! We act like there is just a big target painted on all of us just because we’re women! *whaaaa*

    If we do it we are playing the victim & if we don’t we are at fault for our own attack. Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.

    March 24, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    • Sid

      That’s exactly it. Either you’re doing it wrong, or you’re doing it wrong.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:26 pm

  16. JackieP

    some people are just too stupid for words. I hope some of this gets through to him, but I doubt it. anyone who spouts off the just plain stupid shit he did just won’t get it. But bless you, you tried.

    March 24, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    • Sid

      Even if *he* doesn’t get it, I can only hope to get through to *someone.*

      Trying’s all any of us can really do. :) Thanks for stopping by!

      March 24, 2013 at 5:25 pm

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