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The Paly Voice

The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

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From a different perspective: a discussion with Paly guys

The following story appeared in Verde Magazine, published on April 9, 2013. The views and opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily representative of that of  The Paly Voice or any of its staff members. This story appears on The Paly Voice per the request of  Verde Magazine.

Over 250 Paly students responded to an admittedly unscientific online survey that used questions from the Rape Supportive Attitudes and Belief Scale (RABS). It asked students to respond to nine statements about rape and how it is defined in Paly’s culture with  ‘strongly agree,’ ‘mildly agree,’ ‘mildly disagree’ and strongly disagree.’ Shown below are the results, grouping mild and strong opinions together.

The results were sometimes surprising, so seniors Jimmy, Seth, and Anthony, interviewed individually, offer further insight.

1. Certain women are more likely to be raped due to their flirting, teasing, or promiscuous behavior.

“I think that, yes, certain women are more likely to be raped due to their flirting, teasing, or promiscuous behavior,” Seth says. “That’s not a good thing and it shouldn’t be the case, but it probably is.” 57.6 percent of students agree with Seth, leaving students who disagree, like Jimmy, in the minority. “People don’t make bulls— excuses for any other crime,” Jimmy says. “I’ve never heard anyone say that someone got mugged because they were ‘wearing a fancy watch,’ for instance.”

2. If a woman willingly gets drunk, then she is raped — she is more responsible for what happened to her than if she had decided not to drink.

Like 25.6 percent of his peers, Anthony says. “She is absolutely more responsible.” He goes on to explain: “It should be no one’s duty but their own to look out for their safety or monitor their own actions. … No one should ever expect anyone else to look out for themselves when they willingly chose to take mind-altering substances and those who chose to do so should live with the subsequent consequences of their actions.” But the other 74.4 percent disagree. Seth says, “I think that it’s important for people to be aware of their situations. That being said there is no excuse for anyone raping anyone. Rape, or any crime, is ultimately and fully the responsibility of the perpetrator.

3. A lot of people, especially women, are too likely to label a sexual encounter as “rape”.

“I doubt it happens ‘often’ but rape is a good thing to claim if a woman wants to hurt someone,” Seth says. “So I’m sure it happens from time to time.” Like Seth, 22.4 percent of students surveyed agree that a woman may label sex as rape when it was not. Jimmy disagrees adamantly. “Rape is rape, period,” he says. “Any non-consensual sex is rape, and should be prosecuted and punished.”

4. Women often falsely cry “rape” because they are feeling guilty about having sex, or if they want to get back at them [the guy].

“It’s a way of getting the blame for the encounter off of their shoulders,” Anthony says.  However, he tempers his statement, echoing Seth. “I don’t mean to say that it’s an often occurrence, but it certainly has happened and is something that certain women do say.” Jimmy represents the 77 percent who disagree with this statement. “The fact that people even make excuses for rape in the first place shows that we, as a culture, do not treat rape as a serious crime,” he says.  “That’s what people mean when they say that there is a rape culture in this country: We do not treat rape as a serious crime, and that’s a fact.”

5. Women who lead men on deserve less sympathy if they are raped.

“If you dress and act in a promiscuous manner, don’t say you didn’t at least see it coming,” Anthony says. Nineteen percent of students survey agreed with Anthony’s point of view, but Seth is in the majority with 81 percent who disagree. “People can make bad choices or put themselves in bad situations but it doesn’t make them responsible,” he says. “If someone walked down an alleyway in a bad part of town it doesn’t make them any more responsible if they end up getting mugged. The goal should not be to get people to stop walking down alleys, it should be to make every alleyway safe.”


Need help?

If you or someone you know has been sexually abused, you don’t have to keep quiet.

Get help by calling RAINN’s  National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE,

 the local YWCA of Silicon Valley’s crisis hotline 650.493.7273 or

Adolescent Counseling Services at 650.883.4244.


Related Stories

Introduction: “You can’t tell me I wasn’t raped”

“You can’t tell me I wasn’t raped” by Lisie Sabbag

Editorial: Practice more objective reporting

From a different perspective: a discussion with Paly guys by Lisie Sabbag

Breaking the silence: We need to change the way we think about rape by Will Queen

Taking it Seriously: Ever made a rape joke? This column is for you by Savannah Cordova

The state of rape today


Check out the PDF of Verde Magazine on issuu

For secondary coverage of this magazine package, click here

For a copy of the letter sent to faculty before the release of this issue, click here

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  • M

    Martha AllenApr 15, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    I’m an 18 year old girl, about to graduate from high school in Boston, and I found this from the article in Salon. Because I’m writing this with guys in mind, I wanted to write with some comments and concerns from the perspective of a girl on this – I assume this is the place to put it, with the article that was “for the guys.”

    I think I “get” – and I’m moved by – the focus on rape, stories on rape, women’s perspectives on rape, occasionally a guy’s perspective thrown in, and how much girls want to tell guys through stories like this to not rape. But I can assure you that of the guys I know, when they are dating, when they are flirting, and when as far as I can tell the vast majority of guys I know are doing so as well, they sure don’t appear to be thinking of rape, they’re aware of it and are really not going to “rape” – if they’re motivated to have sex, they are thinking of consent and not rape.

    But you’re not writing about consent. At all. And I don’t see this being written about except in some sort of vague reference to it as if it’s a prize guys are supposed to automatically know what girls are talking about and be willing to compete for. I’d like to read the perspective of guys and girls my age on this, I have to wonder if what guys feel is complementary – but from what I’ve heard from friends that seems to be the case. It’s really not as simple as saying “yes means yes” as if it was the logical compliment to “no means no”.

    I think boys and girls for that matter know better than what some of the authors of stories like this mean what “no” in a sexual context means. “No” is basically all we’re
    taught from childhood on through sex education classes and now this. But if we’re not learning what sexual consent means as adolescents, and this issue really isn’t about that at all, how do you expect us to understand what it means when we become adults? Or does that really not matter so much, because by then we’ll have graduated and whatever we think “consent” means it won’t be the high school’s problem to deal with?

    I want you to know I don’t think this is a problem for me and my relationships. I’m doing fine and all the people, girls and guys, for better or worse, nearly all of them I think are fine or at least have a good enough understanding of what consent and the lack of clear consent means. But there are obviously some guys and even some women who don’t know what it means, who don’t know the words and who don’t feel they can clearly express themselves.

    I know they and I can go to the internet and find help from everything from Dr. Phil and Dr. Drew to “feminist porn” and help sites but I don’t know of anything at all that is really meant for high school students on consent, either for guys or girls – and I don’t want to emphasize that there has to be some sort of website out there dedicated to this either. THAT’S THE PROBLEM IN MY MIND HERE. It’s not the lack of “feminist porn”, it’s not the availability of disgusting or non-feminist porn, it’s not that we don’t have enough Dr. Phils and Dr. Drews or that they don’t say the right things. It’s that we hardly talk about this at all in schools or with our peers in schools in any kind of context of community and authority. I’m sure I could go to some sort of religious group and be taught about how consent is awesome in the right context – like a marriage overseen by their religious group, perhaps – but I don’t know if most people who have little real understanding of what consent means before marriage have any better understanding of it after, even if they have a church and state-granted license.

    What I have mainly have a problem with and why I’m writing is to ask why the idea of teaching consent in high schools or discussing it in student media is so taboo. There’s never anywhere the depth to the concept of consent given that you are giving these heartrending stories of rape, rape, and more rape (with maybe some other varieties of sexual offenses thrown in) Is one reason for this emphasis more to try to lessen the impact of legal responsibility/liability of schools to teach and be
    involved in preventing rape, and there’s not really any similar sort of importance assigned to teaching consent? Schools are at least potentially liable when kids misbehave or flunk out of school, but above some sort of minimum standard there’s not any additional reward for schools to have students to perform above average, to be more engaged in their community, or – and you can laugh here if you like – or for their students to have an awesomely satisfying understanding of the concept of sexual consent.

    I know there are religious conservative groups out there who would want nothing but abstinence taught, but I don’t think they are much at play here. Your high school student magazine is as slick and professional as any commercial publication I’ve seen. You’re in the backyard of Google and Apple. You have FULL PAGE ADS in your student magazine for rental homes that go for $3500 a month! Do you think you could get anywhere near the amount of resources and praise from your school administration and the media to do an issue on consent that you got for this issue? And if not, what should we expect schools in less privileged, more conservative areas to do ?