Tea Myths and Sympathy

I’m going to be upfront about this – I am experiencing an online form of performance anxiety. My blog, up until Monday evening, was bimbling along with an average of perhaps around 13 views per day. I was pretty happy with that to be honest. I’m happy when ONE person reads it.  Since posting the Consent/Tea blog, I’m currently averaging around 30,000 views per day, my twitter hasn’t stopped buzzing and my mum messages me every hour to ask me how many hits my blog has had. (She’s a blogger too, so of course she taught me everything I know.) All week the question has been bouncing around: what the hell are you going to write next Sunday. I usually write about something that’s been on my mind in the week before, but this week the only thing that’s really been on my mind is, well, last week’s blog.

The comments and messages I  have received have been overwhelmingly positive – with people taking the metaphor and extending it in ways that never even occurred to me. My favourites including “If they ask for Earl Grey, and you only have Assam, don’t give them Assam until you’ve checked that’s ok” and “if they ask for soy don’t give them dairy milk and afterwards go HAHA it was really  cow milk all along, gotcha lolz”.

There were two distinct types of feedback that struck me most –  for very different reasons.

Feedback type 1

I received a higher number of questions than I would have liked that asked a variation on a theme of “What if they say they want tea, and you drink tea with them, and later they say they never really wanted the tea and then RUIN YOUR LIFE. This happens a lot!” This, ladies, gentlemen, dinosaurs and others, is a TEA MYTH.

Actually, let’s move away from this tea analogy, because I don’t want anyone to get muddled here. Rape Myths are beliefs about rape which are often widely accepted but wrong and/or distorted which actively prevent genuine justice or appropriate support for victims. There are many rape myths – all very damaging and I think all of them featured at one point or another in the comments section, but none more so than the ‘false rape accusation’ one.

It can be tricky to discuss this particular rape myth – because – and this is important – false accusations of rape are very serious, and they can ruin someone’s life. When I say that false rape accusations are part of a rape myth I am IN NO WAY suggesting that 1 – they don’t happen (they do) or 2 – they don’t matter (they do). The issue is one of equivalence.

To illustrate my point  I am going to use this risk assessment model ‘borrowed’ from a project manager friend of mine.

RA_Myths

This model is often used when establishing what resources an organisation needs to put into a particular aspect of their work, and is a useful way of discussing difficult issues. If something appears in the top right it will need more resource/focus than something that appears in the bottom right. Something in the bottom right should not get more time/attention/money than something in the top right. If it’s in the bottom left then you might want to think about forgetting it entirely.

So, let’s add some badly drawn MSPaint wotsits to this model about the topic in hand.

RA_Myths_edited

The Crown Prosecution Service’s report of 2013 found that in the period of study there were 5651 prosecutions for rape, and 35 prosecutions for making false rape accusation (prosecuted as either ‘perverting the course of justice’ or ‘wasting police time’.) That means for every 1 false rape allegation there were around 160 actual rapes. I don’t call that even remotely equivalent.

False rape accusations are extremely rare, and even those accusations themselves are often complex. Sometimes numbers that make up ‘false rape allegation’ statistics aren’t even, well, false at all.  So to bring up the risks of false allegations in a discussion about consent is not only misleading and disingenuous, it’s downright dangerous.

Feedback type 2

These were harder to read, but infinitely more valuable.

I received a number of messages from people telling me of things that had happened to them in the past, and how they’d blamed themselves, or never quite dealt with the feelings, or never quite been able to move on. They said that my post had made them cry, or laugh, or just feel believed or understood. Some said that they’d used my post to talk to their children about consent. A few said that my post had given them a sense of release from their past, a way of dealing with their past experiences, a sense of understanding that what happened to them wasn’t their fault. One said they wanted to tell me “what a difference you made today”.

To have people say they enjoyed your words, to see them shared over and over and to see people going YES, THIS was bewildering and wonderful and strange. But those messages telling me that I didn’t just write something funny or clever but that my words actually had real impact for people; to know that my brain ramblings have affected people, touched people and even helped them is an extraordinary feeling, and one I will treasure, even if no one ever reads this blog again*.

My life has also been changed by this experience; in that I will never be able to answer the question “fancy a cuppa?” without smirking.

*But I hope they do. 


all comments are subject to moderation

RDPP

50 comments

  1. I came to your blog for the first time yesterday via a twitter share of your tea/consent piece, which I found remarkable – witty, clever but most of all, simple and straight forward. Having read it, the concept of consent seems like such a no-brainer, I wonder how no-one has managed to come up with such a powerful analogy before.

    I have already used it to discuss consent with my 12 year old son and 14 year old daughter, so thank you.

    I hope you are not too overwhelmed now. Keep up the excellent writing – it really is very good.

    1. Exactly what Lizzie said. I thought the analogy was very well made. I also hope you aren’t too overwhelmed, I enjoyed the style very much and will read more. Thanks.

  2. I was led here via the Freshly Pressed reader, and my goodness. I can’t believe you haven’t had a wider readership before now. You’re a fabulous writer. Also, you’ve made a really simple thing even simpler to explain. (Surprised that so many are confusing the making of the tea with the insistence upon consuming the tea, by the way. Making unsolicited tea is fine, sometimes lovely, provided you’re not going to force the person to drink it if they don’t want it!). Looking forward to seeing what else you’ve got!

  3. You handled the topic wonderfully, in a direct, palatable way. The subject can lend itself to anger and a self serving element. If I could have given you a standing ovation I would have. Well done.

  4. I can’t tell you how appreciative I am of you and your blog. It provides two much needed things: Awareness of serious issues (with facts!) and some comic relief of said serious issues.
    When I did the scary thing and shared my rape with someone close to me, he responded with questions about the prevalence of false rape accusations… Now I have an excellent chart for the next time this happens (instead of absolute exasperation and pure panic). And I hope it does happen to me again, instead of me just getting too scared to be vulnerable again.

    Lots of love to you!!

  5. I admired the way you compared such a disgusting crime that should, without a doubt, have no grey area when it comes to a crime where the pursuant blatantly disregards the word/implication/gesture of the word NO. Though I am not a parent, I feel like this gave ease to the parents who do in fact have to explain what rape really is in a way a parent and their child can feel way more comfortable about such an important topic that needs to eventually be discussed. Bravo to you girl! You’ve made a difference with your brilliant mind.

      1. Do it! You can tell your English teacher I gave an A++!!!
        I’m most definitely referencing your comparison one day when I have kids (which won’t be for another 96-98 years from now.) You’ve shown that you can inform kids about a serious matter that they do need to learn about, but with such a simple way of explaining it.

  6. I’m almost more impressed with this post than with the last – such a very good and clear way of explaining why false rape accusations (while dreadful) do not deserve the same amount of concern/weight/resources as rape. Bravo!

    1. I will add an additional thank you. Together, these posts make a wonderful package for discussion, and clear guidelines for behavior. I have recently seen suggestions that men discuss or promote appropriate behavior to help change the way the “male culture” (my words for it) regards these things, and this is a clear, non-threatening way to handle it. Congratulations on your contribution, thank you again, and best wishes!

  7. I fame across it accidentally. I work in fashion, sustainability fashion.
    I wish we could fond also a simple way to convince people that 80 billion clothes coming out of factories worldwide is affecting people and planet. If this subject might interest you, please have a look at Fashion Revolution
    And the tea thing IS brilliant, well done

  8. Thank you so much for writing these blogs about ‘tea’.

    I was used to be married to a man who wanted to ‘drink tea’ – a lot. He didn’t understand that I didn’t want to drink tea with him every waking moment: “You will have a cup of tea, now won’t you? Ah, go on. Go on. You know you want to. Ah, go on. Go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on…” (think Mrs Doyle from Father Ted). Saying I wasn’t thirsty didn’t help. “Ah, go on. Go on, go on, go on…” And it wouldn’t stop until I’d had some tea. After a while I learnt it was easier to just drink the tea quickly than to try to persuade him I wasn’t thirsty. I gave in, and by doing so, I gave up on me.

    But I was lucky, and I got out. I know I don’t have to drink tea now if I don’t want to, but it was hard to see that at the time. Understanding consent isn’t just something we need to teach tea makers. It is also about educating tea drinkers – helping them recognise that they are never under an obligation to drink tea, no matter how many cups someone makes them, and no matter how many times someone says “but everyone else wants tea”, or “if you loved me, you’d drink it”.

    Your blog is so simple, and I wish I could have read it years ago.

  9. Found you just now, and good on you for the excellent explain actions, last week and this.

    But also, and this is important, LOVE THE NAME. Rockstardinosaurpirateprincess! Only wish I had thought of it first. And yes, from evading two posts, I can tell you a Rockstardinosaurpirateprincess!

  10. Just wanted to say – feel the anxiety and write anyway! this post is brilliant and you deserve the traffic! Plus, think of all the rockstar-dinosaur-pirate-princesses out there who now know they are not alone!

    your voice is an awesome, clear authentic and important one…go YOU! And keep GOING!

  11. I’ll apologize for my small (TINY MINISCULE) part in making you go viral. I posted it just about everywhere I could think of, and sent a link to Brad and George Takei… Because you’re awesome :) Thank you for the stats! My ex brought up the points you counter so excellently in this new blog post!

  12. Just was passing through, sipping my *literal* tea [chrysanthemum], and thought on this. For a long time.

    First off: love the analogy. [big fan of them from the start]. Though I’m surprised no one mentioned one little point in the analogy. I’ll go on it later.

    Now let me put this flat on the table: sexual assault, domestic violence, and the like *not* ok. I never directly assaulted anyone however I made some grievous mistakes [#notsureifnotallmenistrue]. Took me a long while to learn a lot on my own mistakes and this is where I’d like to point something out and a point that I believe needs to be raised.

    “Wait, you just said you didn’t want tea and now you have tea.”

    Aside: In some circles this actually literally is an insult. But overall very few like to be turned aside in favor of another in most regards tea, “tea” or otherwise.

    So let’s run with your tea analogy for it still works wonderfully. Now this could be because someone prepare tea poorly (low grade leaves, wrong temperature water, incorrect water:tea:milk?:sugar?:lemon? ratio etc.) to something like they use only herbal tea because they’re caffeine sensitive [translation: a factor they *cannot* change]

    The former is something I feel like could, and should be pointed out. Gently. And improved upon. The person goes through self-cultivation and eventually is able to have tea with company. This could be social coaching. There are some who stray too far and try to coerce others in the process of making tea to unwillingly drink the tea however, grooming and self improvements can remove limitation. The latter…..is a sticky subject entirely. What happens if someone only happens to carry oolong tea but a incredibly vociferous group slanders oolong tea?

    You’re right. You cannot make someone drink tea. Ever. Period. However, I am rather uneasy about the idea of leaving tea brewers alone on factors they can change but need guidance, or to leave them at the mercy of factors beyond their control. I think there can be a solution to have a win-win scenario. At least I’d like to believe so.

    As for me I follow a philosophy somewhat like this: Using the same analogy: [god I love this analogy, thanks Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess you’re all sorts of awesome] https://vimeo.com/15687220

    1. But why should the onus be put on the tea drinker to school the tea maker to correct, improve or critique the act of tea making in the first place. In the end the tea drinker would still be ‘expected’ and, possibly encouraged (with a heavy hand) to sample the tea to see if it was up to their specifications. Most tea drinkers won’t ever do this for fear the scalding tea will be tossed in our faces and the cup shattered over our heads. Some tea makers are very temperamental and get enraged when you point out that they may not be the best maker of tea on the planet.

      1. Sorry about the delays, don’t know if you are reading but you are correct I am remiss in being vague.

        No, I should have clarified that those being offered tea should not be offering advice. One in that it goes against their previous stance and presumably still-held best interest to give advice on how to proceed forward. That and also the previous refusal quite likely still stings to say the least. Quite often leading to definite change in attitude and mood [admittedly, I’m not the greatest at this, its an effort to say the least: nobody likes being told they’re inadequate] The worst though is yes: tea force feeding which is unspeakable.

        What I mean is means of seeing a third party consultant. Maybe not quite as effective if say a 2nd party could have done so [but this could as I just established never be expected] but at the same time someone who can suggest how to make a better presentation of tea and how to brew better tea overall. That said without completely going outside their ideals [such as buying completely new teaware at great personal expense as the original tea-ware is a family heirloom: [//by that I mean massive facial-reconstructive surgery or skin bleaching or xyz to completely wipe away one’s inherent traits and also to completely alter ones behavior to remove any traces of ones culture. One would hope in this world would not be even thinkable, but alas, more inane things have been done for sex love and so on]]

        Also I should mention: brew better tea, not tricking or force feeding. Can’t be specific enough on that.

        But once again, yes thank you for raising a good point I needed to clarify.

  13. I think most of us wish Tom Hiddleston would make us a cup of tea. 😉 I giggled when I read that.

    Thank you for both of these posts. This is a fantastic analogy and very helpful given my own personal experience in college. You are making a difference in so many lives.
    You put into words what I had been unable to articulate since my own experience. I didn’t want that cup of tea but was forced to drink it anyway. Not my fault or my choice. I didn’t want tea.
    Thank you for providing me with a humorous and positive way of reflecting on that terrible event and putting it in perspective. I wish you all the best.

    May the Words be with you!

  14. Wandering through the internet on a wet Wednesday afternoon, I’m not entirely sure how I got here, but thank you for a coherent, sensible and human contribution.

  15. Dear Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess (what an awesome name btw, excellent choice!),

    thank you so much for bringing up the topic of false rape accusations. You were really speaking from my heart. I always have really mixed feelings when I hear about those cases. First I really believe that every victim of violence – including false rape accusation – deserves to be taken serious and receive protection. The idea of someone having his or her life ruined, maybe even going to prison, for a crime he or she has not committed is freaking frightening.

    Same time I find really disturbing how this subject is pushed in media, unaware of the damage it causes for rape victims and also neglecting simply facts about numbers and the legal system. As you brought up, the number of actual rapes is significantly higher than the number of false accusations. Plus there is this huuuuge dark figure! Even here in Germany women’s rights organisations and centres who provide help for rape victims are recommending victims not to report the crime done to them or bring it into court. Most often charges are dropped because there is not enough evidence or the sentence will be beneath their expectations. The victim will have to go through physical examination, reporting of every detail of the crime, facing the perpetrator and in the end – very likely – will just feel even more disgraced.

    According to our current law rape is only considered a crime when it comes along with a threat for life or health and if the victim shows resistance. Saying NO is NOT sufficient. Luckily the government is currently discussing changing the paragraph so that any non-consensual sexual activity will be considered rape. You can imagine how that freaks out some, believing that this will make it so easy bringing up false rape accusations and therefore the numbers will increase in the future. What they are missing in my opinion is that it is really really difficult to get a rapist sentenced, at least in a system where your guilt needs to be proven. So if you are one of those very few people being falsely accused of rape, your chances of finding justice are much higher than if you are one of those many people who actually got raped.

    Finally, blown up discussions about rape accusations – that might or might not be false – promote mistrust across genders. This affects not only victims of sexual violence but all of us, and if we don’t deal with this responsibly it will lead to a huge backlash.

    Thank you for raising awareness. I wish you lots of strength and all the best for this exciting time in your life.

    Keep on rocking, Princess!

  16. Nicely done. Here’s an answer to the folks who worry about false rape accusations: If you have any fear whatsoever that might happen, DON’T HAVE SEX WITH HER (or him)! If you are sufficiently connected to have sex with each other, you should be able to tell when s/he consents that s/he means it. If you can’t, you should probably wait until you know her/him better.

    1. Certainly many people believe that false reports of rape are much more common than they really are. People who report being raped deserve to be believed unless there is solid evidence that they have lied.

      But, it is also clear that sometimes people are falsely accused. It isn’t common, but it does happen. And when someone is falsely accused, then they are, by definition, a victim of a crime.

      Do you REALLY believe that if someone is falsely accused, it is their own fault for not being careful enough about who they had sex with?

    2. Got to agree with bartman on this one. If I were to say “if you don’t want to have sex with someone, don’t go back to a hotel with them”, I’d be instantly hung, drawn and quartered for victim blaming!

      Regarding the article, what about all the cases that go to trial and a not guilty verdict is returned? Are they not technically false accusations of rape? You couldn’t prosecute them of course or nobody would ever report a rape again!

      1. No. Not being guilty doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t do it. Sometimes there isn’t enough evidence, sometimes a witness doesn’t turn up, sometimes the jury doesn’t believe one person over the other because there are no witnesses. That doesn’t mean what’s been said isn’t true, but that it can’t be proved – which is what you’re there to do in court.

        This article about standards of evidence and police attitudes towards rape victims makes fairly grim reading, but it goes some way towards answering your question. https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lisa-longstaff/rape-victims-prosecuted-for-false-rape-allegations

  17. I’m sorry to nitpick, but the statistics you;re using only show that false rape accusations are not widely prosecuted, not that they do not happen. I could easily say that you’ve just proven that there are rarely any consequences for false accusations as so few of the false accusers were held accountable.

    As a matter of fact, I’d say they use a loose definition of false. I quote from Keir Starmer “the mere fact that someone did not pursue a complaint or retracted it, is not of itself evidence that it was false”. That study is not counting times when the accuser retracted their statement as false, instead choosing to put in in a nebulous “maybe it happened” grey area. I want to know how big this maybe area is, and what percentage of not proven either way claims there are.

    As far as I can tell, feminist statistics treat all the “maybe” cases as de facto true, how many of those could have been false. The number of false reports vary so wildly because of different definitions of what constitutes a false claim. The study you cite for example, does not include cases where the accuser recanted their accusation or simply stopped pursuing the case as false, most MRA statistics on the other hand, do include them as false.

    Both sides are playing with this huge “maybe” area to bend the statistics to their will, I’d imagine the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

  18. I read your tea analogy somewhere a few weeks ago (can’t remember where), and just saw it again in the form of a stick-figure video, which then led me to your actual blog. I know you’ve already heard this a billion times but I just want to tell you it’s brilliant. And as a fellow blogger, I can really relate to the joy of writing something for a normally small audience and then suddenly discovering that a huge number of people relate to what you’ve written and suddenly it has a much bigger impact. It’s never happened to me on this scale of course, but nonetheless I know it’s awesome. So congratulations — I hope this leads to many great things for you.

    I also want to tell you that because of your blog, my boyfriend and I pretty much always refer to sex as tea now. It’s such a nice analogy.

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