The Lady Garden

Tea and Strumpets

‘Cougar’ attack

So this is a Waikato Times article entitled “Cougar attack in Melville”. When I first read the headline I thought holy shit, there’s cougars in the Waikato – maybe they escaped from the Lion Man farms. My next thought however, was that perhaps they had meant cougar in the demeaning, sexually ravenous older women kind of way. And as much as I wanted to believe that surely no one would refer to a presumably violent incident in such a flippant way, it was with sinking hopes (and a memory that there were no cougars in Zion Wildlife Gardens) that I read the article. 

The article describes a sexual assault involving a 19 year old man being followed home by his 40 year old female neighbour, and her getting into bed with him and undressing him with the presumable intent to rape him before she was caught. It will be obvious to many Garden friends that the ‘hilarious’ title of this article makes light of the fact that this was a sexual assault, and it comes off the back of this article on a female-on-male sexual assault from Russia which was categorised as ‘oddstuff’ on Yahoo. 

The Russian story is problematic because it gleaned a lot of popularity through the idea that the rape was some kind of justifiable punishment, and that he ‘got what was coming to him’ and that female-on-male rape isn’t really rape. Even though the Waikato article isn’t explicitly saying “LOL whut?” the salacious nature of the headline, and the fact that the perpetrator is categorised through the use of the word ‘cougar’ as sexually voracious, is just as messed up as labeling the Russian story as ‘oddstuff’. 

The idea that female-on-male rape being somehow funny is problematic to all rape survivors as it continues a legacy of victim blaming and ‘natural impulse’ rhetoric. Most of the disbelief at men being raped comes from the idea that men are controlled by their sexual urges, always up for a root, and that if a woman wants to fuck – the man wants to fuck more. In these sorts of all too frequent conversations that follow reports of female-on-male sexual assault, there is also usually a mention of how ‘if a guy has a boner, he must be into it’. 

Not only is this all complete bullshit, but the natural progression from these sentiments is that if a woman gets raped by a man, it’s because he just couldn’t control the fact that he was always up for a root. 

Rape not sex, it is assault. It is also not about the sexual voracity of the perpetrator. Rape is about power, and using ‘cougar’ as a descriptor for the perpetrator is implying that she was basically just a randy older woman and bless her desperate wee heart.

We need to stop discussing any form of sexual assault in a titillating, jeer-inciting way, because making light of it is one of the strongest forms of rape culture which harms everyone.

16 responses to “‘Cougar’ attack

  1. Emma August 11, 2011 at 11:17 am

    “The man’s mother called police but no charges are being laid.”

    Which is hardly fucking surprising. Because the person to whom this happened? Is going to read this article. And why would you want to put yourself through months more of that?

    Female-on-male sexual assault is not a lot of things. It’s not funny, and it’s not impossible. But it’s also not insignificant, or unimportant, or tangential to discussions of “real” rape, and it’s not “but what about teh menz”.

  2. Ngaire BookieMonster August 11, 2011 at 11:42 am

    I can’t begin to tell you how angry this made me, I was reading this literally minutes before I saw this post. Have left a comment in the hope that perhaps they may rethink their idiocy.

  3. Deborah August 11, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    I think that one of the reasons for shifting our understanding of consent from “he/she didn’t say no” to “he/she said yes” is that it helps to make sense of the claim that men can be raped too. Not just in the sense that men can be physically sexually assaulted, but they can be forced or coerced into having sex even when they don’t want to, just as women can be.

    Also, I loathe the use of ‘cougar’. I feel as though it is used to demean older women for being sexual, when really, we ought to be tucked up at home in our slippers.

  4. Ngaire BookieMonster August 11, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    They’ve changed it to: “No charges in cougar case”
    The point, they haz missed it.

    My comment has not yet been published.

    • Carlist August 11, 2011 at 2:32 pm

      Yeah, maybe they’ve stopped trivialising rape, but the real problem is that they’re using a demeaning term to describe the rapist.

      • Deborah August 11, 2011 at 11:23 pm

        My big concern is the trivialising of rape. I loathe “cougar”, but the huge and important issue here is treating sexual assault as though it is a joke.

        • Carlist August 12, 2011 at 12:13 am

          I agree Deborah, but it seems that to Ngaire the fact that the term used is still “cougar” is the main issue, and that removing the rape-apologist tones from the headline is “missing the point”.

          Obviously I would rather that they didn’t use the term “cougar” or trivialise the rape, but I know which one is more important.

          • Deborah August 12, 2011 at 7:25 am

            Oh. I think you may be misreading Ngaire’s comments, or reading more into them than is actually there, Carlist. I think you may have made an assumption about the content of her comment to the Waikato Times. I read her comments here as saying that she had made a comment about trivialising rape by using the word ‘cougar’, and the change they made to the headline didn’t fix that.

            So… um… we’re in a state of epistemic doubt here, ie. we just don’t know. So it might be best to wait for clarification, if that’s okay.

          • Ngaire BookieMonster August 12, 2011 at 11:14 am

            How did you manage to get all of that from my posts without asking for clarification? I never made a comment that using “cougar” was demeaning, or that they were demeaning the alleged offender by using it. And that wasn’t what angered me about this story, either.

            Please ask me to clarify my stance before making a blanket incorrect statement about me or my opinion.

      • Ngaire BookieMonster August 12, 2011 at 11:08 am

        Uh, no the real problem is that they’re trivialising female on male attempted non-consensual sexual contact, and that they continued to trivialise it even after they changed the headline to one less amusing. That’s the point they missed.

        They replied to my tweets – apparently “cougar” was good imagery – so I guess they did miss the point entirely.
        Waikato Times @BookieMonsterNZ oh but cougar cast good imagery. In one word you can communicate to the msg to many.

      • Moz August 12, 2011 at 11:19 am

        Sorry, is that sarcasm? I struggle to read it as a serious response to “they’re trivialising sexual assault”, because I can’t see how they’ve done that. I can’t help feeling that if the genders were swapped most feminists wouldn’t be at all worried about how the alleged offender was described.

        • Carlist August 14, 2011 at 1:03 pm

          If you call a rapist something demeaning, you are actually hurting the victim.

          • Max Rose September 5, 2011 at 1:07 pm

            Though that depends upon the type of “demeaning”. Calling them something ridiculous and laughable (such as “cougar” or “peeping tom”) trivialises the crime and hence the victim. Calling them something more angrily demeaning (such as “arseholes” or “scum”) wouldn’t have the same effect, I’d have thought.

  5. Pingback: Down Under Feminists’ Carnival XL: bigger, better, more punnage « Ideologically Impure

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