A Black Man’s View of Schroedinger’s Rapist

Crommunist writes at the Freethought Blogs:

This morning I made a reference to the fact that men are often assumed to be potential rapists as an example of how sexism negatively affects men as well as women. The argument, commonly referred to as “Schroedinger’s Rapist”, goes something like this: because you can’t know for sure if the stranger approaching you in a dark alley or other unsafe place is a rapist or not, it is generally a good idea to be on your guard. Men can enhance their interactions with women by being aware of this mindset, and adjusting their own behaviour accordingly.


I have often heard from people making an anti-feminist argument that Schroedinger’s Rapist is profoundly sexist and unfair. After all, most men do not rape – why should every man be treated like a rapist? Isn’t that discrimination? How can you claim to be opposed to sexism, yet promote a fundamentally sexually prejudicial idea? The next step is often to draw parallels to racism – is it fair to treat all black people as potential criminals simply because, statistically speaking, there are more black criminals than white ones? Isn’t that racist?

As much as I hate it when white people use anti-black racism as a cudgel with which to beat other people, I can understand the conundrum as it is expressed. The problem with it (and the reason why it’s so bothersome to hear white people talk about anti-black racism) is that it fails to address the question in a meaningful way…

Read more here.

14 Comments on "A Black Man’s View of Schroedinger’s Rapist"

  1. Jin The Ninja | Feb 2, 2012 at 8:11 pm |

    nothing like a timely, pro feminist, pro equity article;)

    i’ll just copy and paste, because it surmised my view in it’s entirety:

    Comrade Physioprof
    has made this excellent observation: “It is not “sexist” for women to
    view all men as potential rapists, because (other than in prison) men
    possess the privilege of being subject to a
    vanishingly small likelihood
    of being raped by either men or women, while women are subject to a
    substantial likelihood of being raped by men. In contrast, it is
    “racist” for white people to view all black people as potential
    criminals, because (as far as I can discern from available crime
    statistics) white people are the ones who possess the privilege of being
    less likely to be crime victims than black people, and they are more
    likely to be victims of crimes committed by white people than by black

    •  Not to mention that most crime is intra-racial; black on black or white on white, etc.

    • emperorreagan | Feb 3, 2012 at 11:08 am |

      This is potentially incorrect.  According to the FBI, 3% of men will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in the US.  The rate is 15% for women.

      However, reporting rates for men are much lower and male-on-male and female-on-male rape has been excluded from official statistics in the past, is reported at a much, much lower rate than male-on-female rape, and historically not been researched.  Female-on-male rape isn’t even a crime in some jurisdictions and societal attitudes basically ignore the possibility of the woman as the aggressor.  The 3% number used by the FBI is likely a significant under-estimate given the societal attitudes towards men being victims of rape.

      The overall violent crime rate against men is higher than it is against women…so men are really the ones who should be looking at everyone suspiciously.

      Of course, if you live in a neighborhood where you can comfortably walk around outside with your dog in your pajama pants, you also don’t really need to worry too much about violent crime.

    • sonicbphuct | Feb 6, 2012 at 1:51 pm |

       hmm… i’m usually impressed with your comments and insights, however, on this one, I’m struggling. Here’s my process: jin (wasn’t it “the ninja”?) is usually intellectually detached so as to see a Thing from all sides. Here, it seems you’ve not reversed the argument (or you have and just didn’t show your work):
      ‘It is Not Racist for black people to view all white people as potential XXX (bureaucratic nightmares, KKK members, rapists, whatever prejudicial mindset fits here) because white people “possess the privilege of being subject to a vanishingly small likelihood” of XXX.’

      now, this isn’t necessarily about the content of the argument, but rather its logic. Personally, I can’t agree that there is such a thing as a Race, however, i can agree that there are various physical traits that are used to judge people – skin color/hue/tone is one of them – albeit generally inaccurately.

      the following made me laugh:
      It is not SIZE-ist for short people to view tall people as potential basketball players, because tall people possess the privilege of being subject to a vanishingly small [here i question the use of this phrase, “vanishingly small likelihood”, is the world suddenly getting better?] likelihood of being dunked on.

      obviously, not the same … but, for what its worth…

      • Jin The Ninja | Feb 7, 2012 at 2:21 am |

        thank you for the thoughtful reply. (still a Ninja, just change of name),

        in fairness (or disservice to myself) i, copy and pasted (and cited) someone’s comment directly from the article link (bold footnote ). so while i did not write the comment, i certainly claimed it’s logic as my own.

        i still agree with the sentiment of the comment, if not the exact method-

        race IS a very ephemeral thing, personally i recognise it as extant; i believe it is important to recognise ‘othership’ and lay claim to whatever that means within the dominant culture.  for me, identity is transient, trans national, multi-cultural, and filtered through a post-modern/globalised lens of the world.

        the only way i can see a trans-racial or non racial world is through the lens of futurism.
        wherein that same globalised, and for the most part racialised world could potentially result in a trans-racial pop’n within several generations,  admixtures so mixed there is no relative cultural context. ironically enough, if mixed people (like myself), became a viable majority- the conceptions i currently hold of race would be absolutely useless.

        i apologise for that tangent, but i am interested in conceptions of race, and fundamental belief or non belief in race as a whole.

        logically my previous comment is problematic, but i think it is relevant in context to the article. particularly because the issue of sexual violence is something that requires an awareness/empathy of gender difference (similiar to race) that recognises women in the position of subordinated power.

        race can in many ways structurally be compared to gender. in fact many feminists and ethnic/area studies scholars are very much aware of the dynamics of power represented through their respective arguements, and there are people who directly examine these intersections of race/culture/gender and violence.

        particularly, the dynamics of power and control when viewing discussing women and sexual violence/ and colonialism and imperialism of non white peoples. the parallels are astounding, contrasting starkly with statistical criminology which does not include the voice of the social actor in the context of history.

        if violence of any kind is about the construction and entrenchment of power, those in the position of subordinated power (not powerless, just not powerful)  should be wary of those that would exploit that difference power.

        i think a very similar arguement can be made with race, wherein the position of subordinated power lies with the non-white social actor ‘B’. Statistics demonstrate that crime is much more likely to take place within a racially aligned context (white on white, black on black).

        certainly privilege is at least an important factor, in terms of the hierarchy of violence.

  2. It’s not unreasonable to assume another human being might be dangerous. If women committed rape anywhere near as much as men do, they’d elicit the same reactions and I’d still have the same attitude about it.

    • Except nobody believes the guy who told him his wife/girlfriend/random stranger sexually violated him.

      And when they do believe the man, they won’t help him, because if he got raped, that must mean he’s a weak little pussy and because of that he deserved to be raped.

      That is the mindset of those in charge. Several cases were dismissed by judges whom believed the very act of raping a man to be impossible.

  3. Trudispeare | Feb 3, 2012 at 12:52 pm |

    Statistically white people commit more crimes than black

  4. Everyone is a criminal. 

  5. It *is* a sexist system.

    You’re saying that the basis on which to decide whether or not someone is a potential rapist, is their gender.

    This is clear cut sexism. Person has trait because of gender and only their gender. That is a sexist system. And by telling people that this is how the world works, you are enabling it.

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