What's wrong with this advice on rape in House of Cards?

In an episode in Season 2 Robin Wright and another woman are in a meeting with a couple of generals; they’re unhappy with the military procedure for dealing with in-service rape. The generals are defending the procedure and at one point Robin Wright quotes from the military guidelines. The gist is “Sometimes it may be advisable to submit rather than resist the rape.” Having quoted this Wright looks accusingly at the generals and says, “I think you’ll agree the protocol needs revision.” The generals shuffle nervously in their seats and look guilty.

But what the hell is wrong with that advice? I can readily think of scenarios in which submission would be not only advisable but essential - “Resist and I’ll kill you” being the first that springs to mind.

This is an intelligently written series. So why is the implication made that this advice in the military protocol is somehow antediluvian? Am I missing something?

I have actually been given this advice if captured/detained as a POW. Simply put, your current situation is bad enough, do what you have to in order to come out alive.

At the same time, I wouldn’t give it to someone unless the situation was just that - submit or suffer worse injury/death.

What’s wrong is the bit where rape victims are advised to submit to rape. You don’t need to tell rape victims that rape is likely preferable to death or maiming- that’s often how sexual assault works in the first place. And the idea that the government is advising people how to behave while they’re being raped is distasteful at best. This advice might be accurate from a certain point of view (most of us would rather be assaulted than murdered), but just like all the “watch how you dress/don’t take drinks from strangers/don’t go out alone at night” advice we give to women, it has to part of a larger picture or else you’re just giving orders to victims and potential victims when the greater emphasis should be on deterring and punishing criminals.

Please don’t pillory me for this. I’m only relating something I read long ago…and I have no idea after all this time where it originated, or even whether it was fiction or an actual incident.

But the gist of it is, a woman is attacked by a rapist. Instead of reacting with fear and kicking and screaming, she summons all of her resources to turn the tables on her attacker by cooing “Wait a minute, baby, no need to be rough” and begins disrobing, even offering to help the attacker off with his clothes as well. The confused rapist, his expectations completely dashed, leaves her alone.

The theory being that rape truly is a crime of violence and domination rather than a sexual one, and the rapist is depending upon his victim attempting with all her might to resist him.

What is everyone’s take on this strategy actually working, and has anyone heard of such a scenario playing out in real life?

I’m asking this strictly as an academic question. In no way am I endorsing the strategy or viewing rape as anything less than the absolute horror it is.

Well I kinda remember during that we were advised never to resist an armed robber and to give them whatever they want.

Also, before judging the advice given here, you’d need to put it into context - are there any other places in the manual, where a POW is told to “submit” to their captors rather than try to resist?

While “horrible” in thought - it seems that the idea being conveyed is that in a situation where the captor has such total and complete control, resisting a rape may well end up being a worse option than submitting. What’s so wrong with that?

When you consider that a woman is more likely to be raped by someone she knows that by attacked at random by a stranger, it doesn’t make much sense. So I’d say it’s crazy and that rapists aren’t grizzly bears.

Seems unlikely. He’d just start hitting her, to punish her for being uppity.

One piece of advice that you hear now and then is that the prospective victim might soil herself – urinate or defecate – in order to make herself unattractive to the rapist. Who can know? It might work…or it might make him so angry, he starts using whatever weapon he has already displayed.

It’s hard to formulate a rational strategy to use against someone who has already left rationality so far behind.

I believe that in most circumstances victims understand fully well when they are under threat of death or severe bodily harm. But quite often this is not the situation, since in the majority of rapes the victim is acquainted with the rapist. If it is a workplace situation (as in the military) very often there is a large power asymmetry between the victim and the rapist, so threat of bodily harm is not necessary.

If the victim knows the rapist the first argument the defense will make is that it was consensual sex (this is especially true if there is no sign of resistance). It is not uncommon for unsympathetic prosecutors to drop or reduce charges in cases where resistance is minimal (even in cases where the victim was drugged or intoxicated). In the military the situation is worse, as accusations must go up the chain of command through officers (often male) who are often (1) acquainted with the rapist, or (2) more concerned about unit cohesion than about the problems of individual soldiers.

A situation like that presented in the show (a high-ranking general attacking a private) are pretty rare, but women soldiers being raped by superior officers is frighteningly common. Victims are commonly advised to not press charges, and those that do can, and are, retaliated against all too often.

Having not watched the scene the thing that hits me most about the quoted line is not the practicalities of surviving an assault or the implications for prosecution but the implication that in-service rape is just a fact of life if you’re a woman in the military. That is what needs revision.

Sorry… I read the OP as “when you are a prisoner of war…”

Looking back, I see that’s not there…

Naturally - if you are looking at in-service (as opposed to POW) rape - then I retract my earlier post…

This is about rape BY YOUR COLLEAGUES. In other words, the pamphlet is “what we’re doing about the problem”, which seemed to be “don’t go out alone, er, you know, with your team members!” and “give in if you have to!” instead of “don’t rape your fellow soldiers”.

:rolleyes: Last time I checked rape was already plenty illegal and “don’t rape” was stated quite clearly by various criminal statutes.

We’re not discussing laws here.

The problem is that not resisting can be used by the defense in an attempt to show that it wasn’t really rape at all.

Well, that’s working out just peachy in the military.

Never, ever give in to rape. Always fight back. Always. I can’t say this often enough.

If one looks at the classification of rapists and what it takes to resist them, the question has to be asked: why in the world would anyone say to not fight back?

For example, the most common classification is the

This class covers a little over 80% of the attacks. He can be resisted with sometimes little more than a raised voice and projected anger. So…if 8 times out of 10, someone can resist successfully with minimum physical effort, why not do so?

The remaining categories

all show escalating levels of violence toward the victim and require correspondingly higher levels of physical effort. The last class, the Sadist, is your Ted Bundy kind of individual and here the victim is literally fighting for her life.

You’re missing the cases where the higher-ups threaten the victim with a court-martial or kick her out on the grounds that she has a “pre-existing mental disorder”. If that advice is ever going to be acceptable, it is coming from an organisation that does not conspire to protect rapists.

I can’t emphasise this enough, don’t listen to Clothahump. Offer resistance if practicable.

As for other statements in this thread such as lack of resistance being used as evidence of consent, well I will say this from my experience. Stating that a victim showed little or no resistance or was wearing skimpy clothes reeks of desperation on the part of the accused and can and often does backfire on him. Courts have seen far too many cowed victims and assaulted party girls to fall for it.

What advice I can give is that if god forbid you have been subjected to rape (or bodily assault of any kind) , go to the cops forthwith. They can preserve evidence better that way and you don’t have to explain delays then. Because, frankly much more cases fail due to incomplete forensics and delays in complaints as these are far more powerful weapons for defence lawyers than victim demeanour and dress.

This topic involves rape occurring in the military, where the culture can be vastly different. It’s not just a case of a woman’s word against a man’s word-it is often a case of enlisted personnel vs. officers, with the prosecution, defense, and judge all being officers. It’s not just fear of retaliation from the accused that comes into play here-it’s fear of retaliation from the system itself.

Thanks for stating what I was preparing to type. **

Clothahump **is not incorrect. Never give in to rape. Do any of the “don’t resist, just report it later” types have any idea how difficult it is for women in the military to have an accusation of rape stick? As I read somewhere, first the woman is raped by the assailant, then again by the military.