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.


Questions We Could Be Asking: Paying for Rape Kits

Another name for a “rape kit” is “evidence.” It’s the sort of stuff police use to investigate crimes. With pretty much all other crimes, the state pays for whatever work had to be done to get the evidence together. For example: we don’t expect murder victims’ families to pay for autopsies. No, the state pays the Medical Examiner’s salary so they can figure out how someone died. In some parts of the country, however, rape victims are expected to foot the bill for evidence to be gathered.

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The questions we could be asking about rape culture.

If we could really put our heads together and talk about rape culture like adults, without first having to struggle over that perpetual-motion loop of “But I’m obviously the first person to tell you feminists that WOMEN NEED TO BE MORE CAREFUL,” what sort of topics might we cover? What sort of places might our discussion go if we could finally get over that initial hump?

Francesca Lewis at Medium asks us to stop acting like “good men” and “rapists” are discretely bound categories without overlap, and instead understand how rape is a decision that otherwise good men can make.

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Adventures in Victim-Blaming

ArtParasites ran an anonymous article by a single woman detailing some of the violence she’s encountered from casual sex partners, and, it’s pretty bad. Here’s my Content Note and Trigger Warning for what is best described as “rape.” This is about victim-blaming as much as it’s about the initial violence, and sure enough, cue the continued victim-blaming in comment sections.

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You want to go as THAT for Halloween? Really?

Watchers has a list of ideas and sources for Game of Thrones-related Halloween costumes, which is great!, but there’s just this one thing that’s been bugging me for a while.

(I’m about to ruin y’all’s fun.)

There’s a costume for Cersei’s Walk of Shame.

And this is the part where I go: Really? Are you quite sure you want that to be your Halloween costume? Have you stopped to think about what exactly went on in that scene?

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Dr. Ruth has forfeited the right to be a sex expert.

Oh, fuck, no. No no no no no. We should expect much, MUCH better than this from our sex experts.

I am very worried about college campuses saying that a woman and a man—or two men or two women, but I talk right now about women and men—can be in bed together, Diane, and at one time, naked, and at one time he or she, most of the time they think she, can say “I changed my mind.”

No such thing is possible. In the Talmud, in the Jewish tradition, it says when that part of the male anatomy is aroused and there’s an erection, the brain flies out of that and we have to take that very seriously, so I don’t agree with that.

You cannot comprehend the size of the Fuck I Do Not Give about what the Talmud says about arousal and sexual consent. If that is indeed what the Talmud tells us about consent, then the Talmud can fuck itself with a frozen pineapple.

More of her wrongness from the Washingtonian:

I’m saying people who think about when they want to go and have a sexual experience to make sure they’re protected from sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies and that they cannot say at one time at the height of arousal just when he is very aroused, strong erection, when she’s very aroused, either he or she cannot change their mind.

I know it’s controversial. But I have to stand up and believe for what I believe in. I know it has something to do with Title IX, the money that goes to universities. I’m very worried about that. And people like you and me, who have this power, especially you right now on NPR, of the airwaves, do have to talk about that.

People like Dr. Ruth who have this power, do have a responsibility NOT to blame victims and apologize for rapists while millions of people are listening.

She actually says, in so many words: “The idea of consent is nonsense. Except consent before they are naked in bed.”

No. No. No no no, Doctor, how many times must I say NO before you understand? “Consent is nonsense”? And if you think for one misbegotten moment that you are so very brave and revolutionary for complaining about universities encouraging their students not to rape each other, you can just forget about having any credibility on matters of sexuality for the rest of your natural life. I don’t want your advice, and I don’t want your book!

Okay. That’s out of my system.

It is possible for two (or more!) people to get naked in bed together and have some intimate interactions, but not others. It’s possible for them to say out loud what they want to do, and for that not to include penetration! It’s possible for either or both parties to change their mind partway into the process! Is it frustrating, disappointing and annoying to get all hot and bothered and then have your partner change their mind? I’m sure it can be frustrating. But if your brain flies out of your erogenous zones the moment you get aroused, then you should not be allowed to run loose. Deal with your frustration like an adult member of society. Failure to respect your partner’s change of mind is rape. Don’t do that.

It’s so cute when they think they know who they’re dealing with.

#BlameOneNotAll is a tag that begs to be derailed, so I joined in the fun this afternoon. Soon enough, this reply appeared in my interactions.

My Tweet says: "#BlameOneNotAll because gendered violence is all unrelated." I've blurred out the profile pic and username of the person who replied to me. Their response is: "Yeah, the female teachers molesting young boys. Coincidence, surely."

My Tweet says: “#BlameOneNotAll because all these acts of violence on women are totally unrelated. Nope, just one isolated incident after another.” I’ve blurred out the profile pic and username of the person who replied to me. Their response is: “Yeah, like female teachers molesting young boys. Coincidences, surely.”

No, I didn’t engage with this user. I can think of about 100 things I’d rather do with my time—pull my toenails off with pliers, for instance—than get sucked into an argument with an anti-feminist. Nope, this exemplary character kept on popping into my mentions, and I kept on Tweeting.

I’m just showing off this one reply as an example of how some of us have different reasons for doing what we do.

Some of us do talk about sexual violence with male victims and female perpetrators, as it comes up. Maybe not as often as we should! But when we talk about it, we do so because we see female-on-male violence as part of the same system that enables male-on-female (and male-on-male, etc.) violence. We talk about it because we care about men and boys as our fellow human beings and we value their vulnerabilities. We sometimes ask, “But seriously, what about the men?” without irony, because bodily autonomy matters for everyone or it matters not at all. We object to abuses such as female teachers and other authority figures molesting boys because all children should grow up free of abuse.

And then some people bring up male victims with female assailants as a dishonest “Gotcha!” tactic on feminists. It’s all a question of priorities.

#BlameOneNotAll and then tell me #WheresMyCookie

This bullshit is making the rounds now. Sure, just what we need: a social media campaign to tell us basic decency warrants celebration. Oh, your professor doesn’t behave inappropriately around you? I GUESS HE DESERVES A MEDAL FOR THAT.

Also, those messages are obviously Photoshopped onto the signs the girls are holding up. Makes the whole affair look especially forced and insincere.