Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch
I’ve been blogging as Polimicks over on Livejournal since 2005 (I had to go check), and rape awareness has been a big part of that blogging effort. As a survivor of sexual assault who did not press charges, I know why many, many victims don’t. Correction, I know why I didn’t. I was a terrified 15 year old who didn’t want her parents to know she’d “had sex” even if she hadn’t wanted to . The word “rape” wasn’t even part of my vocabulary, or if it was I was firmly in the “stranger leaping out of bushes with knife or gun” camp so far as the definition went. I had no idea that rape could include someone who told you how special and beautiful you were, right up to the point where he held you down and forced himself inside of you.
A lot of people who are raped never call it rape to themselves, let alone to anyone else. Because there is a magic in words, and if you don’t call it rape then it isn’t rape and you aren’t a victim. Even if your attacker locked you in their apartment, held you down and forced themselves inside you after (or while) you said no, as long as you don’t call it rape, then it wasn’t. Unfortunately, that’s not true and you know in your heart it’s not true, no matter how hard you pretend it is.
I didn’t call it rape for a long time, because, like I said, I didn’t have a vocabulary that would let me recognize it as such. Until the PTSD hit when I was 19. I started having (more) nightmares, panic attacks, flashbacks. I finally told someone after I had a panic attack at work, and my boss found me hiding behind the dumpster sobbing. And my boss told me about her own sexual assault, and we cried in each other’s arms standing behind a dumpster on a cold October evening.
We don’t (or rather didn’t) talk about it, because the default assumption when someone talks about rape is that they’re lying, and/or an attention whore. Incest victims are often attacked by the very people who are supposed to support them in their time of crisis, because they want to know “why you would do this to Aunt/Cousin/Uncle So and So? He’s such a good man!” Friends will tell you things like, “He doesn’t need to rape anybody! You should be grateful he noticed you.” Strangers on the internet will tell you that you’re a lying whore who hates all men and should be killed for your crimes against mankind.
But, if you go to the Polimicks Livejournal, or through the older entries I’ve transferred here, you’ll see plenty of anonymous comments from women and men thanking me for letting them know they aren’t alone.
It’s one thing to know the statistics. That’s an intellectual knowledge that gives cold comfort.
But when someone comes out and actually talks about their experiences, and what happened to them, and the aftermath, that’s different. It’s real in a way the statistics can never be. It’s comforting, not being alone. It shows you that someone else has survived this horrible thing you’re going through, that it is survivable.
Rape is one of the very few crimes where the assumption is that the victim is either lying or did something to deserve it.* “What were you doing?” “What were you wearing?” “Did you lead him on?” “Did you flirt with him?” “Why were you there?” Even though it is now illegal in most courts, defense lawyers still try to bring up the victim’s past sexual history because of this fucked up puritanical assumption that if a woman consents to one sex act with one partner, she default consents to all sex acts with all partners. Or the equally stupid puritanical assumption that men “always want it” no matter who it’s with.
That isn’t how it works. None of it. Rapists cause rape. Drinking doesn’t cause rape. Walking alone doesn’t cause rape. Wearing sexy clothes doesn’t cause rape. Being alone or in public with friends of the opposite sex doesn’t cause rape. Rapists are the sole cause of rape.
I’ve had people sarcastically tell me how “brave” I am to be “making a stand against rape when everyone knows it’s wrong.”
The problem with that is that not everyone knows it’s wrong, or knows it’s rape.
In the last post I talked about a friend who admitted to me that he’d raped his ex, without ever using the word rape, and was stunned when I called it that. I am 98% sure that if you asked either of the guys who raped me, that they would tell you with a completely straight face that it wasn’t rape. I’m sure they’d pass a lie detector test. I mean, I said, “No,” but girls have to say no so no one thinks they’re sluts, right? They have to put up a “token resistance” *wink wink, nudge nudge*. That’s just part of the game, right?
The problem with the narrative of male and female sexuality in the majority of USian society is that it’s FUCKING WRONG!
A. It defines men as sexually voracious, walking libidoes with less control than a puppy with a chronic leg-humping problem.
B. It defines women as “sexless” or at least lacking in sexual desire.
This model depicts men who give love to get sex, and women who give sex to get love. And it’s complete bullshit. It has no room in it for the sexual agency of women, or men, really. That’s right guys, you don’t really have sexual agency in a narrative that says you’ll hump a dead manatee if the right hole presents itself. It says you’re uncontrolled animals whose sapience goes out the window at the sight of boobs.
Hey, don’t blame me. It’s not MY narrative. I’ve been fighting against this narrative forever. Ever since I discovered consensual sex and found out, “You know, when you’re fucking someone you want to fuck, who gives a shit about whether or not you enjoy yourself, this sex stuff is pretty damn AWESOME!”
What I’m trying to say here, in my own “Oh, this is getting uncomfortably ‘close,’ make joke NOW” way, is that the dominant narrative of human sexuality in this society is totally FUBAR-ed. And the fact that it fosters the rape apologism is only one part of why it’s fucked up. But that’s a really important and dangerous part.
*In this way it is an awful lot like gay-bashing. Not creating an equivalency, just pointing out a similarity.