Recent events have me dredging up a piece out of the old box of memories, though I don't quite know why. Since I can imagine several ways in which it can be misunderstood, I thought to post it among the gentlebeings of the Lounge, rather than subject it to the potential flames of GD.
Back in 1976, I was a cabbie in Philly. I had occasion, late one night/early one morning, to pick up a young lady in Center City. She was wearing what appeared to be a Disco/Party dress, glittery silver and blue and falling to about one inch below her wrist, with matching FMPs and clutch purse. She was quite striking, despite (or perhaps because of?) the fact that she was falling-down drunk and virtually incoherent. She also seemed to be upset about something.
She sort of fell into the cab, and told me she had been "working late with her boss," and wanted a ride home. To Manayunk, which was an area I didn't know at all (I was fairly new at the job). Since she was too incoherent to give directions, I had to use a map book to find the way, and I got lost a couple of times on the way. She seemed very anxious to get home, asking repeatedly where we were. At one point I took her hand and said "I'll get you home, I promise," whereupon she threw up in the back of the cab.
Eventually I did get her home, where her sister was waiting up for her, and quite angry and stern. She grabbed my passenger by the arm and frog-marched her into the house. I had asked for some paper towels to clean out the cab, and when she returned with them, I apologetically explained that the cab fare had been four dollars over what the passenger had paid. The woman told me there was no cash right then, but took the address of my garage and promised to have her sister mail me a check. Amazingly, the sister did just that a couple of days later (no tip, though, but under the circumstances, I can understand that).
A couple of things occur to me:
1) It would have been the easiest thing in the world to rape that woman. All the traditional excuses were ready: her provocative dress, her inebriated state, and, if we give her statement about "working late" the respect it deserves, she may have already been sexually active that evening, meaning she was obviously asking for it. But no excuses would have been needed: she was so intoxicated she probably would have hardly known what was happening, and probably would not have remembered a thing about it (except in her nightmares, maybe). Available, accessible, and free of any consequences (for me, anyway). If I had wanted to be a real bastard, I could have had my bit of fun, took the money from her clutch, and literally kicked her to the curb.
Instead, I took her home.
2) If we speculate (and it is only speculation) that she was being disingenuous about "working late," it is possible that her boss gave her more than dictation that evening. Given her advanced state of intoxication, there is no way she could have given informed or conscious consent to such action. Which is rape by 2018 standards, but in 1976 would not have garnered a raised eyebrow.
The point I am laboring to is this: excuses are just that, excuses. Rape is a choice, and not something a poor, defenseless guy is forced to do because his object is just too desireable to resist. It is worthy of no merit to meet minimum standards of behavior, and surely it should be a minimal standard that a woman could walk the streets, or even make a bit of an ass of herself, without becoming the object of someone's selfish and self-centered gratification. It is worthy of great demerit to take someone vulnerable and, rather than protecting her, instead choose to use her to satisfy some temporary urge. No big deal, it happens all the time: a woman was not raped. The big deal, the inexcusable deal, is when she is.
Recent events have made me think it is about time there was a hashtag for all the guys who had an opportunity to rape someone but didn't -- not to polish their own apples, but to demonstrate how ridiculous and bankrupt are the "excuses" put out by whiners who could not resist descending into savage inhumanity.
She was wearing a miniskirt -- but I did not rape her.
She was drunk -- but I did not rape her.
She was a slut* -- but I did not rape her.
She was asking for it -- but I did not rape her.
(*"Slut" is a word I don't commonly use, as I haven't got an actual clue what it is supposed to mean. It is an empty symbol-set, without referent. But it is so usual to see it as an apologia for barbarism that it needs to be addressed)
Maybe there is already such a hashtag (I don't use Twitter, so I wouldn't know). In which case, this post is an exercise in redundant rhetoric. But, seriously, guys, isn't it getting about time that we let these low-life scum know that we are not buying their bullshit?
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