Neither the article nor picture that I am about to talk about are new. Actually, they are kind of old. The article, Schrödinger’s Rapist by Phaedra Starling was posted in 2009. In it, Starling likens the way that women are socialized to protect themselves from strangers just in case they might be rapists to the Schrödinger’s Cat.
Summarizing her application of the theory to rapists, Starling explains:
“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.”
From there, Starling goes on to list some ways that good guys (not Nice Guys) can counteract this effect: by accepting that women gauge their risk and act accordingly, by recognizing that one’s appearance and demeanor affect the way one is perceived and taking that into account, by noting and respecting a woman’s communication.
The second item, I saw for the first time about a year ago, although I don’t know how long it has been around:
Ten rape prevention tips:
1. Don’t put drugs in women’s drinks.
2. When you see a woman walking by herself, leave her alone.
3. If you pull over to help a woman whose car has broken down, remember not to rape her.
4. If you are in an lift and a woman gets in, don’t rape her.
5. Never creep into a woman’s home through an unlocked door or window, or spring out at her from between parked cars, or rape her.
6. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assualting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.
7. Don’t forget: it;s not sex with someone who’s asleep or unconscious–it’s RAPE.
8. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “by accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can call for help.
9. Don’t forget: Honesty is the best policy. When asking a woman out on a date, don’t pretend that you are interested in her as a person; tell her straight up that you expect to be raping her later. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the woman may take it as a sign that you do not plan to rape her.
10. Don’t rape.
So, these posts are ancient by internet standards. Neither directly involve cats (although the argument, I guess, could be made that Starling’s article it cat-based). Why am I still thinking about them?
Because I use Reddit. Because every time someone brings up the idea of women who are terrible to Nice Guys–those guys who just want to compliment your hair, or hold open doors, or weed their way into your life by doing things like listen to you, share you interests, and support you emotionally only to complain that they have been “Friendzoned,” Schrodinger’s Rapist comes up and it is polarizing, to say the least.
“I am not a threat to you or anyone unless I’m forced to defend myself. If they want to live in fear with a victim complex, fine go ahead. But don’t expect me to feel bad or do anything about it.“–I apparently have a hair trigger, can cause harm and wouldn’t feel bad about it. Why are you afraid?
“What the fuck did I just read? This is just the ramblings of a neurotic and paranoid person. Women don’t think like that. Even my sister (I’m a guy) found this stupidly ridiculous, not to mention that it worsens our society’s problems with constant fear.“–I know a girl, and she thought this was dumb, therefore all people who agree with this are stupid.
“This is just stupid. For women, prevent violent assault and murder is part of their daily routine? Maybe if you live in Compton.“–Violence only occurs in certain places. I don’t understand why those nice white girls are so afraid of rape.
“If women insist on viewing every man as Schrodinger’s Rapist, then men will fight back by viewing every rape claim as Schrodinger’s Accusation.”–This one showed up in the form of a brag. Because it is equally as harmful to assume all men have the potential to rape as it is to assume all accusations of rape are false.
It bothers me that even though nearly 99% of offenders are male, rape is still a women’s issue. Even more, it bothers me that pointing out the ridiculousness of that cultural assumption means committing the grave sin of misogyny. I’m not going to harp on Rape Culture here. I’m just going to say, to make a horrible analogy, people don’t blame the homeowners for not having steel bars on the windows after a break in. They blame the person with their flat screen in their car.
Why after three years am I still talking about Schrödinger’s Rapist? Because people still not only miss the point, but actively fight against it.