Israel's Incitement Laws Applied To Incitement of Sexual Violence
Four years ago, an Israeli man calling himself “Roso” posted a blog about his “successful seduction” of a Czech tourist in a supermarket in Tel Aviv, thanks to techniques he learned at the Center for the Art of Seduction. These techniques, according to an article by Dmitri Reider in last week’s Haaretz, include putting her down to erode her confidence, ignoring her pleas to stop (“Who listens to girls?” Roso wrote. “A girl is a confused creature with a lot of feelings. She’ll do anything you tell her in this confused state.”), and forcing himself on her to what the course calls a “F**k Close” (FC):
I tried kissing her with the mystery question, would you like to kiss me? She said no, I don’t know you. A stupid trick and I won’t use it again… I’ll just come over and kiss, and this is what I did afterwards, without asking, just taking her and kissing. This is what they want (don’t listen to them. Things moved along… believe me, I came across countless objections on the way to close an FC, but I persisted and stayed consistent to the end. Okay we started making out on the bed and she just refused to take off her clothes and made all kinds of excuses… I thought I can stop there, but something inside told me not to give up… And then I thought, do I go for freeze out or quick seduction? I moved her panties to the right, and bang! The girl is stunned and so am I, actually… after that everything went fine, the clothes went off and the FC was closed.
(Between the ellipses are some very graphic details.)
This description, which glaringly reveals the frightening thought processes of a newly trained rapist, was recently discovered by three Israeli law students — Lihi Yona, Reut Cohen and Maayan Sudai of the Hebrew feminist blog Reuma — who decided to take action. Last week, they filed two complaints with the police on rape and incitement to rape, created a Facebook page and other forums for discussion, and organized a protest in which 150 people interrupted a seminar of “graduates” of a “seduction seminar” at Seminar Hakibbutzim. They write that, “We suddenly understood that dozens of men who are walking around among us are convinced that when we say ‘no’ we really mean ‘yes’… Scary. In everything connecting to sexual violence, fear is the central motif. This is why we decided this time not to be afraid.” They filed a complaint against Roso, and against the center, which marks the first time in Israeli history that the laws against incitement to violence have been applied to sexual violence.
Meanwhile, the discussions on the Hebrew Internet have started to go viral. Many women have been writing about their experiences in Dizengoff Center, on days when the center conducts “training” of their students. It seems that the men are given the assignment to collect 30 phone numbers of women in one hour. The men, who probably lack some social skills to begin with, often leave out some basic interactions such as introducing themselves or saying hello before walking up with a pad and pen and asking women for their numbers. One commenter named Shira writes that the center “turns men who are generally nice but lacking emotional intelligence into dangerous men. But because they are socially incompetent, they don’t realize how dangerous they are.”
The center’s founder originally posted a congratulatory comment on Roso’s blog, “It’s fun to read.” But he has since published a formal response in which he “categorically objects to behavior that can hurt or harass another person, especially women”. Meanwhile, a man who calls himself “Stas,” who was apparently the head trainer at the center for a few years, made a video response in which he justifies the approach of the center and accuses women of making life difficult for men. “Girls, you’ve lost all proportion,” he says, and then calls himself a “feminist because I love women,” although he admits that, overall, he is “angry at you for doing this to us”.
At the risk of stating the obvious, I would like to point out that for men like “Stas,” to “love” women seems to mean to want to look at us, touch us, conquer us, own us, and use us for their own sexual gratification. I would like to remind the Stases of the world and their protégés that women are not cars or boats invented for your pleasure, and we are more than just bodies. We are human beings. And by the way, no means no, and you may call it seduction but the approach is nothing other than an endorsement of rape.