Nation of Beancounters

It’s true – the new rape law removes the presumption of innocence

Posted in Gender by Navin Kumar on July 29, 2014

The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 2013 inserted Section 114A into the Evidence Act of 1872. It states

In a prosecution for rape … where sexual intercourse by the accused is proved and the question is whether it was without the consent of the woman alleged to have been raped and such woman states in her evidence before the court, that she did not consent, the court shall presume that she did not consent.

In other words, in a he-said-she-said scenario, courts are required to presume the man* guilty, unless he can prove otherwise.

*Only men can be accused under the new law, because enlightened activists decided that female-on-male and female-on-female rape don’t exist.

Tagged with:

*Slate Star Codex*

Posted in Vapor Mill by Navin Kumar on July 9, 2014

Slate Star Codex is an excellent blog that I just finished binge reading. Here are some of my favorite posts:

1. Right is the new left.

2. Weak men are superweapons.

3. “When you’re being out-tolerated by the frickin’ Catholics, you need to reconsider some of your life choices.” Scott Alexander’s OKCupid protest account.

4. Friendship is counter-signaling.

5. “I am triggered by social justice.

6. The political spectrum quiz. I scored 6.

7. Social psychology is a flame-thrower.

8. 3% of men will be falsely accused of rape.

9. Biological explanations for historical trends in crime.

10. A review of creepy sleep disorders.

11. Polyamory is boring.

12. On rape culture.

13. An explanation of Reaction, and the rebuttal.

14. Highlights from a forensic psychiatry conference.

15. Alexander is against bravery debates. He later realizes that all debates are bravery debates.

16. Social justice and words, words, words.

17. Arguments about male violence prove too much.

18. Proving too much.

19. Why polls fail, or noisy poll results and reptilian Muslim climatologists from Mars.

20. My objections to “objectification.” I’ve written something similar.

21. Not just a political issue. A thorny question.

22. “I propose that the best way for leftists to get themselves in a rightist frame of mind is to imagine there is a zombie apocalypse tomorrow.” Link.

Is sexual objectification bad?

Posted in Essays, Gender by Navin Kumar on May 31, 2014

I

No.

There’s a lot of stuff that counts as sexual objectification: rape, molestation, prostitution, one-night stands, sexual fantasies, and scantily-clad models in advertisements are all examples of people treating others as a means to sexual gratification (and nothing more). If you’ve ever checked out someone of the opposite sex, no matter how discretely, you’ve indulged in a bit of sexual objectification. What do these things have in common that make sexual objectification so terrible?

Some claim that sexual objectification is bad because it’s non-consensual. This is tautologically true for things like rape and molestation, and arguably true for well as sexual fantasies and checking-people-out. On the other hand, one-night stands are consensual. Bikini clad models are consenting to have their bodies be used as a means to sell beer. Sex workers consent to have sex in exchange for money. Sexual objectification is not inherently non-consensual.

Another theory is that it harms those who are objectified. Once again, this is obviously true for rape and molestation. On the other hand, people we fantasize about, or check out, are often blissfully unaware of our actions, so it’s hard to see how they’re harmed. Meanwhile flings, models, and sex workers seem to benefit from being objectified, whether sexually or monetarily. Sexual objectification doesn’t necessarily harm someone.

A third theory is that it is indirectly harmful. Men, the theory goes, see women being treated as sex objects in porn films and billboards and start thinking of all women as mere sex objects. This leads to all kinds of negative consequences, like rape. This is an interesting theory, but the data doesn’t support it. Pornography is a fairly stark example of sexual objectification. If the theory is true as the amount of porn available increases, we should see an increase in rape. The availability of pornography has exploded since the advent of the internet, and yet rape rates have fallen. Studies closely tracking the spread of the internet show that porn leads to less rape, not more.  Similarly, researchers have found that legalizing prostitution reduces rape*.

Why doesn’t porn lead men to think of women as mere sex objects? Answer – men aren’t idiots. They’re smart enough to realize that some women are sex objects in some contexts. Examples: porn stars in movies, prostitutes on the clock, one night stands on the night in question. In other contexts, meaningless sex is off the table, for example when one is among colleagues, neighbors, or girlfriends. A man who fails to learn this will receive a sharp shock – rejection at best, jail at worst. A man who only thinks of women as sex objects will barely be able to function.

 

II

An interesting argument is that treating people as a means to an end is just wrong. Such an act dehumanizes the person by making him an object to be used. Such objectification is inherently degrading. Most people would agree that this makes total sense. Until it starts raining, at which point they call a cab.

When someone hires a cab, they’re using the driver as a means to an end – getting from point A to point B. The driver is also using them as a means to an end – making money. And yet neither the driver nor the passenger feel demeaned or diminished in status by being used. In their day to day lives, people constantly use strangers as a means to an end, without disrespecting their humanity in the process. Objectification is not inherently degrading or wrong.

But there’s a big difference between driving a taxi and having sex – no-one regards driving a taxi as shameful. A great many people seem to regard casual sex as somehow dirty. For these people, to have meaningless sex with someone is to disrespect them. I can totally understand such folks having a problem with sexual objectification.

But it’s not the prudish traditionals who write elaborate essays about the horrors of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. It’s the “sex positive” progressives. Is there some deep philosophical theory that enables them to see sex as alright and objectification as alright, but sexual objectification as inherently awful?

Nope – they just haven’t thought it through. The idea that sex is degrading is deeply ingrained, even inside people who see themselves as having escaped such ideas. If you take offense to the question “are you gay?” you’ve probably got a few homophobic ideas lying around. If you take offence to the question “wanna have sex?” you’ve probably got a few sex-negative ideas lying around. Far too many progressives think being sex positive merely means not calling sexually active women “sluts” or arguing for the legalization of prostitution; the more subtle weeds remain unpruned.

If you want proof that opposition to sexual objectification comes from the belief that sex is dirty, you just have to look at how often sex workers are dissed in these discussions. Look at io9 being outraged by a comic book publisher “putting beloved superheroines in positions reserved for porn stars.” Look at Pando getting angry about Uber posting an ad “treating women who may choose to drive cars to make extra money like hookers.” Look at the Feministing contributor who was “embarrassed and humiliated” by a joke that “marked [me] as a stripper.” These aren’t religious conservatives who think that prostitution is sinful, but their unstated (perhaps unconscious) beliefs are clear – sex workers are low-status and no respectable woman should be tainted by association with them.

If you think there’s nothing wrong with hiring someone to drive a cab, and nothing wrong with casual sex, but something inherently wrong with hiring someone for casual sex, you’ve got a lot of explaining to do.

 

III

To be fair, some people have taken a sporty shot at explaining. They’re not against sex, nor against mundane objectification, nor against every single form of sexual objectification. What they’re against is people being treated as mere sexual objects and having other aspects of their humanity ignored or denied, especially in art and literature.

Taken literally, this claim is absurd. In a movie, a porn star may be a tool for sexual gratification. This doesn’t mean that she is merely a tool for sexual gratification. Porn stars have hobbies, write essays, attend college and socialize like everyone else. It is even less true that porn reduces women outside the film to the status of mere tools. Female CEOs, athletes, and doctors are not mere means to anyone’s sexual pleasure. They know it, and so do the men around them.

Of course, maybe it’s not a literal statement about the world, but rather criticism leveled against a film’s aesthetics. But why is being a sex object so much worse than being (say) a violence object, as so many thousands of henchmen are? Or bystander objects, as so many extras are? Might it be because sex is seen as dirty and low-status, while shooting poorly and sitting at a restaurant isn’t?

Furthermore, people aren’t reduced – and reduced is the important word here – to mere sex objects as often as critics claim. Take the recent controversy over this Spider-Woman cover. It’s highly unlikely that the main character of a comic series will spend her inaugural issue doing nothing but sticking her ass in the air, so it’s unlikely that Spider-Woman will be “reduced” to a sex object. And yet people lost their shit. Why? That’s kind of a hard question to answer without invoking the idea that sex is dirty and sex-objects are low-status.

 

IV

Sexual objectification is a really really confusing topic on the internet.

Part of this is grammar. George Clooney doesn’t turn into a walking dildo when you fantasize about him. It can be confusing to hear that you’ve “sexually objectified” him, as if you’ve literally transformed him into a sex object.

Also, people don’t want to have sex with objects; they want to have sex with people. It can be confusing to hear a prostitute being referred to as a sex object, as if she were a rented Fleshlight™ [NSFW].

Information networks muddy waters further. Activists and intellectuals learn about “sexual objectification” through their friends, mentors, blogs, books, or classes. They then use the phrase casually and without explanation, bewildering listeners outside their circles.

When you ask what, exactly, objectification is, you’ll be told that it’s when you treat a person like an object. But there are a lot of ways to treat someone like a object. You could treat them like they were a means to an end rather than an end in themselves. (This is the definition I’ve been using in this essay.) You could treat them like they have no autonomy. You could treat them like they have no subjective point-of-view. You could treat them like they have no voice of their own. You could just be treating them disrespectfully. All of this makes discussing objectification hard, unless the people you’re talking to understand exactly what you mean by “objectification”.

How do you avoid this confusion? Clearly define objectification, and explicitly state why you think it’s a bad thing. Productive discussions can now begin.

 

V

If you don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with sex, should you feel free to proposition people willy-nilly? Of course not. Rightly or wrongly, most people do think there’s something inherently wrong about sex, if only at a subconscious level. The pain they feel at being objectified is real and, as a good human being, you should seek to minimize the suffering of your fellow men and women. Don’t objectify someone unless you know they’re okay with it†.

On the other hand, feel free to engage in all forms of sexual objectification that are consensual or harmless. Watch A Tale of Two Titties, hire that red-headed sex worker, fantasize about Brad Pitt, whatever. It doesn’t lead to rape nor a decrease in the status of women. It turns out that people vastly overstate how evil sexual desires are. Who saw that coming?

 

* There are those who believe that legalized sex work provides a cover for sex slavery and trafficking. This may or may not be true. But it has no bearing on whether availability of prostitutes lead men to think of non-prostitutes as sex objects.

† This can sometimes be tricky, because seeking permission to sexually objectify someone – by, for example, proposing a one-night stand – can itself cause offense. Having honest, open conversations about sex is an elusive goal.

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Links

Posted in Uncategorized by Navin Kumar on December 30, 2013

1. Ryanair versus Southwest Airline.

2. An economist’s Christmas.

3. Inequality of respect.

4. Female rapists in the congo. Irritatingly, the title that TIME chose ignores the 10% of male victims who report being victimized by a woman.

5. A twofer from priceonomics: Diamonds are bullshit and movie critics in a niche age.

Links

Posted in Uncategorized by Navin Kumar on November 6, 2013

1. Why do rappers get signed on in their teens, unlike other poets?

2. Extreme norm enforcement.

3. What is the most controversial song of the decade? West-centric.

4. The price of black market organs.

5. 4% of men commit 90% of rapes. Another 2% are responsible for the remaining 10%. In other words, 94% of men commit no sexual violence. US study.

Does capitalism cause rape?

Posted in Gender by Navin Kumar on May 26, 2013

I like Kavita Krishnan, so when she argues that capitalism causes rape, I sit up and take notice. The post is long so it can take a while to figure out exactly what her argument is. The crux is in this paragraph:

The global upswing in gender violence (including sexual violence and domestic violence) and misogynistic rape culture, ought then to be traced at least in part to the imperatives of global capitalism and imperialism and their local agents, to justify an increased burden of social reproduction for women, the availability of women from the former colonies as pliant labour, and rape as a weapon against people’s movements resisting primitive accumulation. The fear of violence contributes to disciplining women into suitable labourers, both for global production as well as reproduction.

This, and much of the post, is somewhat confusing (more on this later) so I’m going to try explaining the ideas as simply as possible. There is not one, but three ways in which Krishnan tries to link capitalism** to violence against women.

*Her essay includes a long critique of the ideas of Maya John and Prabhat Patnaik, which I will not discuss here. I’ve restricted this post to the links between capitalism and gender violence.

**Note that I find the word “capitalism” itself quite vague and dodgy, but you can’t have a discussion without some common ground, so I’m going flow with it.

1. “…an increased burden of social reproduction for women…”

Any society, to thrive and prosper, requires people to engage in two kinds of work: making goods for consumption and sale, and taking care of people – children, sick friends, relatives, aged parents etc. The first is called “productive activity”, and second is called, somewhat cutely, “reproductive activity” (and includes giving birth). No economic system – including capitalism – can survive unless there is a steady flow of new labourers to replace those who have retired or died, and the burden of ensuring that children are born, raised, and taken care of until they enter the workforce typically falls upon women, who give up paid “productive activities” to focus on unpaid “reproductive activities”.

How does this result in gender violence? Her argument appears to be that, in order to keep women engaged in reproductive activities, it becomes necessary (for capitalism) to create a “patriarchal” culture, where women take up a lot of the housework. This culture makes them dependent upon their husbands, and vulnerable to abuse. Furthermore, the need to create a patriarchal culture causes the “capitalist class” to oppose things like abortion, often with rhetoric that is misogynistic and indirectly causes rape by contributing to “rape culture”. One example she obliquely hints at is US Representative Todd Akin’s claim that rape can’t result in pregnancy.

In short – capitalism needs patriarchy; thus capitalism supports patriarchy; patriarchy causes abuse/rape.

This argument is tenuous, to say the least. Firstly, economic systems can function just fine – perhaps better – if men take up half of all domestic duties. Given this, it’s hard to see why “capitalism” needs women specifically to engage in a lot of “reproductive” activities – it could work just as well by inducing men to engage in more reproductive activity. “Capitalism” doesn’t need “patriarchy” (although firms adapt to such cultures) and it functions quite well in countries like Sweden etc.

Secondly, the link between capitalism and “rape culture remarks” is baseless, and consists of little more than the observation that some pro-business politicians said silly things about rape. Given the weird international division of beliefs into “left-wing” and “right-wing” beliefs, this does look like a coincidence. Anyway, as Krishnan herself notes in her critique of Maya John, right-wingers hardly have a monopoly on stupid ideas about rape.

Thirdly, it’s not clear how Krishnan’s version of “rape culture” works. While Akin’s statement was vile and ignorant, how exactly does it lead to more rape? Rapists aren’t worried about impregnating their victims. Insensitive statements such as these are hurtful and make life harder for the victims of rape, but it’s a strong and unsubstantiated claim that these lead to more rape. “Rape culture” should not be a black box into which unpleasant things go in at one end and come out as rape at the other. It’s this kind of muddled thinking that allows me to compile lists like this.

Finally, and most importantly, the last thirty odd years – the era of “neoliberalism” – have seen the large scale entry of women into the workforce, a fact that is at odds with the capitalism-promotes-patriarchy story. It is to this that we will now turn.

2. “…the availability of women from the former colonies as pliant labour…”

One of the biggest changes in the last thirty odd years has been the entry of women into the labour force in countries across the world, a phenomena that scholars call the “feminisation of labour”. There are many possible explanations. One is the destruction of welfare nets, which induces families to send women to work. Another is the erosion in the power of labour unions, which kept wages high, but led to unemployment for “outsiders” like ethnic minorities and women. A third is the weakening of labour market regulations like minimum wage, which means that families can no longer count on men being able to earn a secure income. A fourth is increasing use of casual labour, contract labour, home-working etc. which are cheaper than permanent factory labour; such work is particularly suitable for women, given their “reproductive” duties. A fifth reason has been the shift to production using “unskilled” labour, which requires no investment in training workers – firms are now more willing to hire women who may quit to get married. Finally, women, because of their upbringing, are apparently more “docile”, which firms want in a labour force. These points are taken from pp. 584-585 of this Guy Standing paper. In countries like India, the Phillipines, Bangladesh etc. there has been an increase in the number of women working in what are disparagingly called “sweatshops”.

The responses to the feminisation of labour has been mixed. On the one hand, it increases female income, reduces dependence on men, and raises women’s bargaining power within households. On the other hand, it is unclear whether there is an increases the welfare of women. Firstly, in many places, their wages are taken by their families. Secondly, working women receive less money from their husbands, family and community. Finally, many of the above factors may result in lower incomes for the communities that women live in.

Krishnan seems to believe that this state of affairs increases violence against women. She asserts that “their insecure working conditions create greater hurdles and challenges for these women in their struggle against patriarchy.” This claim is odd. The feminisation of labour can potentially reduce gender violence against women, by freeing them from being completely dependent on their husbands and making them less vulnerable to abuse and marital rape. By increasing female incomes relative to men, capitalism can undermine patriarchy, defined here as a system in which (elder) men dominate households. How does the reverse happens i.e. how does women working more reduce their influence within a household, increasing domestic violence? Krishnan doesn’t explain.

It’s possible that she uses “violence” in a broad sense and sees working in a sweatshop as a form of violence in itself. Whether this is valid is a question for another post;  for now I’ll simply note that this is not what most people think of, or should think of, as “gender violence”.

3. “…rape as a weapon against people’s movements resisting primitive accumulation.”

Capitalism requires goods like land, minerals, coal etc. to produce goods. In order to provide these things, they must be taken away from the farmers, tribals etc to whom they belong, preferably without compensation. These farmers and tribals resist the theft of their land, and this brings them into conflict with corrupt governments. This conflict can become violent as governments try to suppress these movements with the police or the army. These forces often rape women as a way of breaking resistance. In condensed form: capitalism causes appropriation, which causes conflict, which causes rape.

While there is nothing wrong with this argument, there is nothing particularly right about it. Such cases aren’t even registered at police stations, so it’s hard to see how it explains a “global upswing”. It doesn’t explain rape in cities, towns and villages where there is no active resistance to government appropriation (i.e. most of them, including Delhi). It doesn’t explain sexual violence in countries like the US where police do not resort to raping protesters who Occupy Wall Street. Some of the most violent expropriations in recent history have occurred under communist governments, and plenty of appropriation occurred in India before 1991 – the notion that this kind of conflict is unique to, or even particularly bad in, capitalist economies is absurd, as is the notion that this will disappear under “socialism”. It doesn’t help the case when “neoliberals” – from Milton Friedman to Swaminathan Aiyer – are against this kind of theft.

Conclusion

Rape is one of the most most awful aspects of humanity. Figuring out what causes it is important, and the first step towards ending it. Kavita Krishnan believes that capitalism is a factor – she is wrong. It’s hard to see how an attempt to “keep women in the kitchen” (so to speak) will result in more rape. It’s hard to see  why capitalism needs to keep women in the kitchen – it functions quite nicely in countries where they aren’t. It’s hard to see how women working in larger numbers will result in more rape. It’s easy to see how conflict can result in more rape, but it’s hard to see how this is a major factor, or unique to capitalism. I get that there has been an apparent increase in violence against women, but people need to be more careful while presenting potential causes.

Note: You can find a critique of Kavita Krishnan’s writing style here.

A collection of … er … unusual theories of rape in India

Posted in Indian Culture, Lists by Navin Kumar on October 18, 2012

So what causing all that rape in India? Some people have proposed radical answers.

1. Increased male-female interaction:

Earlier if men and women would hold hands, they would get caught by parents and reprimanded but now everything is so open. It’s like an open market with open options.

Mamata Banerjee. It’s free choice (for the guy, anyway).

2. Late marriage:

I believe this is happening because our youth are being badly influenced by cinema and television. I think that girls should be married at the age of 16, so that they have their husbands for their sexual needs, and they don’t need to go elsewhere. This way rapes will not occur.

-Harayanvi Khap Panchayat member Sube Singh, no doubt using a heterodox definition of rape.

3. Chinese food:

To my understanding, consumption of fast food contributes to such incidents. Chowmein leads to hormonal imbalance evoking an urge to indulge in such acts.

– Harayanvi Khap Panchayat member Jitender Chhatar (Hat tip: Bhanu Shri)

4. Conspiracy:

I believe that the way in which the statistics (on rapes) are being projected for Haryana, it is a conspiracy against the state.

– Haryanavi Minister Geeta Bhukkal.

5. Ummm… consenting:

I don’t feel any hesitation in saying that 90 per cent of the girls want to have sex intentionally but they don’t know that they would be gang raped further as they find some lusty and pervasive people in the way ahead.

-Harayanvi Congress leader Dharambir Goyat.

6. Movies and television:

Lowering the marriage age could be a solution to the negative influence spread by vulgar programs on TV and cinema on our youth. They have been tremendously influenced by the vulgarity on TV, which leads to early puberty and some of them are unable to handle it, which results in such incidents.

– Khap Panchayat leader Mahender Ghimana. Yes, there is some overlap with theory #2 (late marriage).

7. Phones:

We strongly object that the girls should choose to wear jeans and top. They should also not use mobile phones, as these are things that provoke criminals to assault them. We have passed a resolution banning girls below 20 years of age from using such apparel and gadgets. But we want all girls to fall in line with this diktat for their own safety. In fact, we have urged all villagers to rein in their daughters, which is for their own good.

– Rameshwar Sharma, community member,  Brahmin Samaj, Muzaffarnagar district, Uttar Pradesh. There may be other motives for a ban.

8. High housing prices:

There are few forces more powerful than sexual desire and few forms of inequality more palpable than inequality of access to sex: all the rich guys, to a first approximation, get all the pretty girls, at least if pretty is what Bollywood (or Hollywood) tells us it should be.

…What are we doing as a society to reduce inequality of access to sex? I don’t mean publicly provided brothels — though those are not unknown in history — but just the right to a normal conjugal life. If you are poor in urban India or even middle class and 25, you have be very lucky to have a room of your own in the family home, let alone a separate apartment that you can call your own.

Abhijit Banerjee, Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics and Director, MIT. This one is a good deal more reasoned than the others and I agree with him on the need to lower housing prices. But the links to rape seem… tenuous.

9. Disc Jockeys, who also impose negative externalities on the dairy sector:

The DJ system is causing noise pollution and is also harmful to the animals kept by farmers. Due to high volume of music, people can’t milk buffaloes and cows in the morning as the animals are unable to sleep at night.With DJs around, youngsters dance under influence of liquor and sometimes misbehave with women. Because of this women can’t participate in celebrations, preferring to stay indoors.

Inder Singh, khap leader, Hisar, Harayana.

10. Female empowerment:

As women enter the work place and the public arena, their boldness and confidence seem to trigger a sense of insecurity in a society where men are used to being in charge…  What is the anger that motivates this level of violence? Is the sight of a young smartly-dressed educated female professional generating a sense of displacement in men? … That they are entering male bastions of power has challenged the sense of superiority and entitlement of the traditional Indian male.

Ratna Kapur, Global Professor of Law, Jindal Global Law School.

11. Inarticulate victims:

Only 5-6 people are not the culprits. The victim daughter is as guilty as her rapists… She should have called the culprits brothers and begged before them to stop… This could have saved her dignity and life. Can one hand clap? I don’t think so.

– “Spiritual Guru” Asaram Bapu, who, on an unrelated note, also has terrible hand-eye co-ordination.

12. Western culture (or Urbanisation):

Crimes against women happening in urban India are shameful. It is a dangerous trend. But such crimes won’t happen in Bharat or the rural areas of the country. You go to villages and forests of the country and there will be no such incidents of gangrape or sex crimes

Where ‘Bharat’ becomes ‘India’ with the influence of western culture, these type of incidents happen. The actual Indian values and culture should be established at every stratum of society where women are treated as ‘mother’.

– Mohan BhagwatSarsanghchalak [Head] of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, who appears to a leading expert on the theory of marriage.

13. Bihari emigration:

All are talking about the Delhi gang-rape, but nobody is asking from where these men came. No one is asking who did this. So many cases are slapped against me (for speaking against Biharis), but no one is talking about the fact that all these rapists are from Bihar.

Raj Thackeray,  Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Chief.

14. Yo Yo Honey Singh:

These pornographic lyrics are unacceptable and it is because of women-hating sentiments like these that men think that it’s fine to do what they did on that bus, that December night in Delhi… Let’s put a stop to these subversive lyrics that infiltrate the minds of people who don’t know better and who then justify to themselves the rightness of a crime that harms another human being, sometimes so severely that they lose their lives

Kalpana Mishra, a petitioner on Change.org, who successfully got Mr. Singh’s New Year concert cancelled. The musical preferences of the rapists in question have not yet been released to the public.

15. The observable universe:

We have no answer to this rising spate of crimes against women. Star are not in position Harm can come on a person if the stars are in adverse positions…We have no answer to this, only an astrologer can predict.

– Chhattisgarh Home Minister Nanki Ram Kanwar.

16. The caste system:

It is no coincidence that the family names of the rapists are Singh, Sharma, Gupta and Thakur – all upper caste men whose sense of traditional entitlement based on their caste may have been challenged in the big city of Delhi. Were Ram Singh [a rapist] and his rape cohort simply claiming masculinity as promoted by their role models in politics, business and the media?

Ruchira Gupta, activist.

17. Porn:

While Ram Singh [a rapist] cannot afford fast cars and the accompanying female escorts, he can certainly buy porn CDs. India has become the third largest user of pornography in the world. Blue movies and CDs are available at any video parlour.

I would be curious to know if Ram Singh was socialized into believing that sex was connected to violence through countless hours of watching porn? I wonder if the police will ask this question during their investigation? Or have they normalized the degradation of women, so much, that they will not explore the root causes of the rape.

– Ruchira Gupta, same as above.

18. Capitalism:

… there is a widening gap between the rich and the poor. Earlier atleast the rich did what they did with a fair amount of discretion. Now it’s all out there, on television, all the sort of conspicuous consumption, and there is an anger and a psychosis building up. Women at the top, at the middle and the bottom are going to pay the price for it, not so much at the top but certainly the dalit women are continuously going to be subjected to violence, and young urban women like the one to whom this happened are very very vulnerable to this kind of psychotic rage.

Arundhati Roy, writer/activist.

19. The late shift:

Any information about women employees working after 8pm should be sent in advance to the labour department. During inspection, the permission received from the labour department for deploying women beyond the permitted time will have to be produced when asked for by district administration officials.

PC Meena, Gurgaon deputy commissioner.

20. Nightclubs. No quote, unfortunately, only a notification.

21. Meat and alcohol:

We cannot stop a crime like rape by policing only…. I think rapes will come down significantly if people stop eating non-vegetarian. There has been lot of research on this…. Rapes will come down significantly if alcohol consumption is not there.

Agnivesh, Swami.

22. The local agents of capitalism and imperialism:

The global upswing in gender violence (including sexual violence and domestic violence) and misogynistic rape culture, ought then to be traced at least in part to the imperatives of global capitalism and imperialism and their local agents, to justify an increased burden of social reproduction for women, the availability of women from the former colonies as pliant labour, and rape as a weapon against people’s movements resisting primitive accumulation. The fear of violence contributes to disciplining women into suitable labourers, both for global production as well as reproduction.

Kavita Krishnan, Secretary, All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA). Explanation and response here.

23. The high price of movie tickets:

For a … context to hyper-violent masculinity, we must look at culture. Increasingly, cities have no recreational spaces for young men. Films, long one of the few cultural activities that a working-class audience could participate in, now target élites; movie theatre prices exclude large parts of the youth population. There is diminishing access to theatre, art, music and sport. In its place, the street becomes the stage for acting out adulthood, through substance abuse and violence.

Praveen Swami, Editor, The Hindu.

24. Class conflict:

There is a palpable estrangement between the categories – rich, middle class, poor — in India today. In this very estranged society there is no empathy between the classes. It’s each to his own and survival of the fittest. The number of malcontents is growing. The only way that some in this category feel they can kick the system and hurt the high and mighty at whose hands they suffer daily reprimands and insults, is to commit acts that shake the very foundations of what we call “decent” society. Rape then becomes a way of venting all frustrations against a category that is seen as perpetrating and perpetuating social wrongs by depriving the weak and disenfranchised of their share of financial and other resources.

Patricia MukhimThe Statesman. (Hat tip: Sneha Palit)

25. Lingerie mannequins and ads:

Lingerie mannequins promote rapes. Skimpily clad mannequins can pollute young minds. After the Delhi rape case, I felt something had to be done.

– Ritu Tawade, Corporator, BMC.

26. Fashion:

When you are taking food which gives good josh, as time goes you tend to be more naughty… Rapes and all cannot be controlled by police. And people are turning out to be more fashionable. Even the villagers are wearing salwar-kameez from coastal Andhra villages where it used to be very traditional. All these things provoke these type of things, which is not in control of the police… So rapes per se increase or decrease, you cannot attribute to the police.

Dinesh Reddy, Director General of Police, Andhra Pradesh.

27. Not visiting temples:

There is a cultural difference between Chennai and Bhopal” and “crimes such as chain snatching, eve teasing et cetera are low there. People are religious and women visit temples everyday. They are fully dressed and there is no vulgarity. It is also peaceful and Marwari businessmen have settled there for work because the environment is safe.

– Babulal Gaur, Madhya Pradesh Home Minister

28. The Night Show:

Did Nirbhaya really have go to watch a movie at 11 in the night with her friend? Take the Shakti Mills gang rape case. Why did the victim go to such an isolated spot at 6 pm?

– Asha Mirje, Member, Maharashtra State Women’s Commission

If you know any other theories, please share in the comments.

UPDATE: “Revealing clothes” isn’t included because it isn’t “unusual”; it’s practically conventional wisdom. Jeans are a particularly  popular target.

BONUS: A look at the symbols the media attaches to rape.

UPDATE: Related collection here, to which I also owe a hat tip for #12 and #13. I’m rather pleased that such remarks result in an uproar, apology etc. More here. There is, obviously, some overlap.