(Please do me a favor… please read the entire post before commenting. I don’t want people commenting on my initial reaction to Schrödinger’s Rapist before reading everything else I have to say; you’ll see how even I recognize why my initial reaction was wrong if you just read the whole thing.)
Yes, I’m late to the game. Shut your mouth.
I only just got around to reading this 2009 guest post on Shapely Prose called Schrödinger’s Rapist
I’ll quote a section that I think gives the gist of the whole thing:
Let me start out by assuring you that I understand you are a good sort of person. You are kind to children and animals. You respect the elderly. You donate to charity. You tell jokes without laughing at your own punchlines. You respect women. You like women. In fact, you would really like to have a mutually respectful and loving sexual relationship with a woman. Unfortunately, you don’t yet know that woman—she isn’t working with you, nor have you been introduced through mutual friends or drawn to the same activities. So you must look further afield to encounter her.
So far, so good. Miss LonelyHearts, your humble instructor, approves. Human connection, love, romance: there is nothing wrong with these yearnings.
Now, you want to become acquainted with a woman you see in public. The first thing you need to understand is that women are dealing with a set of challenges and concerns that are strange to you, a man. To begin with, we would rather not be killed or otherwise violently assaulted.
“But wait! I don’t want that, either!”
Well, no. But do you think about it all the time? Is preventing violent assault or murder part of your daily routine, rather than merely something you do when you venture into war zones? Because, for women, it is. When I go on a date, I always leave the man’s full name and contact information written next to my computer monitor. This is so the cops can find my body if I go missing. My best friend will call or e-mail me the next morning, and I must answer that call or e-mail before noon-ish, or she begins to worry. If she doesn’t hear from me by three or so, she’ll call the police. My activities after dark are curtailed. Unless I am in a densely-occupied, well-lit space, I won’t go out alone. Even then, I prefer to have a friend or two, or my dogs, with me. Do you follow rules like these?
So when you, a stranger, approach me, I have to ask myself: Will this man rape me?
Already I can see how this might be unreasonable. When I first read this, I stopped at the question “will this man rape me” with a very emotional, almost angry “NO! I WON’T!”
I did so because the question hurts. It hurts because I cannot think of a more heinous crime than rape. I would rather be murdered. I would rather be tortured. I would rather be skinned alive. I would rather have my intestines cut out and used to hang me. I would rather be castrated.
I would rather have anything happen to me than be raped.
And what’s more… I’d rather all the above and more happen to me than be accused of rape. Not only do I not want it to happen to me; I would not ever do it to someone else. This is why I’d insist on a date or two before sleeping with a woman. This is why I have a lower age limit of 21 (a limit that will get older as I get older). This is why I will not sleep with anyone who is under the influence of anything, because she has to be sober enough to actually make such decisions, and if she is not, I don’t care how persistent she is.
Knowing how much I hate rape, the thought that there are women who’s first thought when I approach them is “oh shit; time to put up my guard” makes me, at best, uncomfortable. It doesn’t help that I’m shit in social situations to begin with, and talking to attractive women is a skill seemingly reserved for the gods. Now this, too? So when someone jokes around with me that I’m “creepy” (as some of my fellow AEPi brothers are wont to do; which is fine, I know the difference between goofing and bullying [and they are just goofing], and I can dish it out at lot better than I used to), should I start worrying if there’s some truth to it?
This makes it even harder for me to approach someone I’m attracted to. It helps even less that I have never actually approached an attractive woman in the hopes that it’ll lead to more. I’ve never actually expected it to. I’m so used to what Nice Guys™ call the “Friend Zone” that I pretty much expect it at this point, so I go in with that as the goal, already resigned beforehand to the thought that I don’t have a chance beyond that, anyways.
Probably, but you likely haven’t had the experiences I’ve had (the biggest reason I spent many years of my life as a world-class, Bill-Hicks-worshiping, human-loathing cynic; “we’re a virus in shoes” [yeah, I used to think that]), so you can’t understand my mindset. You can’t understand what I’ve been through and what I’ve dealt with. So you may be right. It may be pathetic, especially for a 25-year-old… but you don’t have the right to judge me unless you’ve been through what I’ve been through.
And that’s the point of all this. Experience.
Do you think I’m overreacting? One in every six American women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. I bet you don’t think you know any rapists, but consider the sheer number of rapes that must occur. These rapes are not all committed by Phillip Garrido, Brian David Mitchell, or other members of the Brotherhood of Scary Hair and Homemade Religion. While you may assume that none of the men you know are rapists, I can assure you that at least one is. Consider: if every rapist commits an average of ten rapes (a horrifying number, isn’t it?) then the concentration of rapists in the population is still a little over one in sixty. That means four in my graduating class in high school. One among my coworkers. One in the subway car at rush hour. Eleven who work out at my gym. How do I know that you, the nice guy who wants nothing more than companionship and True Love, are not this rapist?
When you approach me in public, you are Schrödinger’s Rapist. You may or may not be a man who would commit rape. I won’t know for sure unless you start sexually assaulting me. I can’t see inside your head, and I don’t know your intentions. If you expect me to trust you—to accept you at face value as a nice sort of guy—you are not only failing to respect my reasonable caution, you are being cavalier about my personal safety.
See? After reading the whole thing (the two quotes given do not constitute the whole thing, BTW… please, read it; in total), I got it. I get it. Now I understand. I understand why I have to temper my approach. It’s not about me; it’s about them. The reason a woman might think like this has nothing to do with how I’m acting… at least, not at first… but has everything to do with their experiences. And even if it doesn’t; even if she doesn’t actually think like that (as some women have come out since Schrödinger’s Rapist was published to say) isn’t it better that I go in cautiously? Isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?
Nothing is worse than rape, but Rape Culture’s pretty evil, too. It’s safe to say that the rapist is 100% responsible for his crimes (well… her a small percentage of the time, but most of the time, the rapist is male). But we live in a society that tends to judge the victim, especially when the victim is female:
What was she wearing?
Did she ask him over?
What did she do to him?
Was she drinking?
This is, of course, total bullshit. Who cares what she was doing or saying or wearing? I’m not sure why people have to be reminded that “no” never means anything other than “no”. Like I always say… I don’t care if she’s in a bar, completely naked, lying on top of the bar, masturbating herself with a beer bottle while everyone else watches/films/takes pictures/masturbates. If you approach and she says “no”, guess what?
Back the fuck off, because she said “no”, and no only means “no”… and that’s all it will ever mean. You don’t get to change the meaning because of her actions or what she’s wearing (or not wearing); it’s not up to you. It’s up to her, and her alone.
And this is why Schrödinger’s Rapist should be heeded. It may not apply to every woman alive. But that doesn’t matter. A good man should think first before approaching, and consider what she may be thinking/feeling before anything else.
I’ve read people who’ve said they hate Schrödinger’s Rapist. I understand that, to a point. For a guy like me, worrying if she’s thinking like that (even if she isn’t) just makes already hard shit even harder. At times it makes me not want to approach women at all.
But I also understand the reason behind the post, and I think it is good advice to at least take into consideration. Does it make it harder, especially for someone like me?
But I’d rather it be that much harder for me than risk the chance of scaring off someone who might otherwise have, at the very least, turned out to be a good friend.