They Don’t Want Us to Fight Back, Unless We Lose

Addendum to last night’s post:

Now I remember what the point is of all this talk about “self-defense” in preventing rape.

They don’t really want us to fight back effectively enough to make an attempting rapist think twice before he tries the same thing on someone else. They want us to fight as hard as we can, and still get raped. The idea is that fighting back is proof of rape, not prevention.

In this scenario, the victim may get beaten to a pulp, she may suffer permanent injuries, or she may even be killed, but at least we know she really wasn’t consenting and the rapist is a really bad guy. We may be willing to believe someone who fought like a mad dog and has the injuries to show for it, but of course even then, the goalposts are always shifting on what it means to fight back hard enough. If someone is upset and traumatized, but mostly uninjured, we’re only too happy to call her a liar.

The idea is that we use our defensive wounds to prove that rape is the worst thing that could happen to us. Here’s the thing, though: it’s not the worst thing that could happen. There’s always something worse than a completed rape. Getting beaten nearly to death is worse. Being disfigured is worse. Dying is definitely worse. Rapists know that we know it can always get worse, and they use this to their advantage.

Behind the idea of rape being the worst thing that could happen, though, is the obsession with female purity. This makes sense if we’re expected to be virgins until marriage, and everyone is expected to marry if at all possible. The social order demands that all women either be virgins until marriage, or become martyrs. The injuries of fighting back, no matter how painful, permanent or life-threatening, are the price we’re expected to pay for having failed to defend our purity.

We shouldn’t have to be martyrs. Rape is a bad thing even when it doesn’t ruin our lives. We should be able to live and fight another day.


1 thought on “They Don’t Want Us to Fight Back, Unless We Lose

  1. I’ve also been thinking about yesterday’s post, and what I’ve been thinking about is how salaciously people hear and repeat and obsess about the details of rape. How rape is titillating for so many people. How people still think of rape as sex. It is violence and it is a crime, but it is not sex. How re-traumatising it is for the victims when they tell their story and are met with interest or curiosity or even arousal instead of pure support of them and horror at the assault.

    And yes to everything you said about fighting hard enough to hurt or be hurt and killed in a way that makes it seem like “real” violence, like a “legitimate” crime.

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