Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ruminations on Rape

So I know many of us are getting rape-fatigue, ever since Akin started educating us about what was real rape and what was just women trying to get over on the menfolk with their Monday-morning second-thoughts or whatever, but I find I just can't let this go.

Especially since whenever the subject comes up on the net or the blogosphere or even in meatspace, what I find happening, 8 times out of 10, is fellas telling the women how rape works.

Men, mansplaining to women, what rape is.

Guys, setting women straight, about the rape experience.

And you know, I ought to be used to this shit by now. I do live in this world. I did sit through six years as an undergraduate, and nine years of graduate school, with many, many seminars. I know what happens when men and women are in a room together. Guys talk, and women get shut up.

Even when it's a subject about which the women might know more than the men: guys talk, and women shut up.

If, by chance, the women speak up? And that has happened to me. When I was a senior graduate student, I was one of a group of three women, all of us feminists, all of us tough, all of us much smarter and working much harder than any of the men in the program -- so we did speak up, all the time, in classes and in seminars. What happened? We got mocked and teased, sometimes gently, and sometimes not so gently, by other students and by the professors. "The three harpies," one of the professors called us.

Of the three of us? I was the only one to finish my Ph.D. That kind of shit will take its toll on you.

But my point! And I do have one.

Women are instructed, from their earliest childhood, that they should not speak unless they are certain they have something brilliant to say. And even when they speak up and say something brilliant, what they say is often discounted -- it goes unheard. And if what they say is about men, if it is derogatory in any aspect? They can count on being attacked for it.

In fact, what they say doesn't even have to be derogatory. A woman talking about men, unless she praises men lavishly, is automatically going to be seen as a harpy. Even when what she says is neutral, she is a harpy. If what she says criticizes a man -- any man, even a rapist -- then she is in the wrong.

So. A friend of mine, on FB, posts about her experience as a rape survivor.

She immediately gets not one but several men explaining to her that she is wrong, that men aren't all rapists. She gets accused of treating men like criminals. She gets explained to her that she is not allowed to make men feel bad by talking about rape as though it were something men did.

Wow, I feel like a victim after reading these comments. Maybe I am not that well of a reader, but after reading this, I know I am a man and I am a republican so that makes me a rapist. That is how I felt.

One gentleman suggests, in fact, that women are responsible for rape -- after all, they give out "mixed signals" -- and expecting men to interpret those mixed signals is unfair.

... a woman sending mixed signals (which does happen) must be treated like a very confused child, i.e. gently and dispassionately. This implies higher expectations of behavior for men and women.

Another claims that the solution for rape is that men should be put in charge.

Let me propose a solution, to be worked out among men: substantiated claims of rape are punished with a good beating. If men are inherently violent, then let a norm in favor of women's dignity prevail, and let men police men. Will it ever happen? I don't know. Would women thank men? Yes

But the real problem -- always -- is women talking about men.

Now I know not all guys are like these guys. (Thank God.) But.

But here's the thing.

It is so exhausting.

Hard as we try, women, to remember all the guys that are not like these guys, and there are a lot of guys that are not like these guys, and are not like that professor who sneered at my friends and me in graduate school -- who hated us because we were good students, hard-working students, smart students, all of that and women, and that was wrong, in his worldview, you just can't have that, the best students in his seminar could not be women, so he had to do something to grind us down and make us quit --

Not all guys are like that.

I try hard to remember that.

All the guys not like that professor and the idiots who post comments about fat bitches and ugly sluts and how obviously I'm not getting enough sex or I wouldn't be so angry.

I try hard to remember the great students I have who are guys and the fact that Dr. Skull is a guy and he's not like that, and the feminist male bloggers I know who aren't like that.

I try to forget the professor my colleague who made the comment about how tits like that didn't hurt when it came to getting hired, huh; I try to think instead of every instructor and colleague and student who has treated me like a human.

And you know it's all right until some twenty year old shit yells at me out of his pick-up, roaring down Grand Avenue, "Hey, bitch, want to get fucked?"

Because they can always do that: men can always, always remind us that we only have the illusion of being equal citizens. That any time they want to, they can take it away. That any time they want to, they can roar up in their pickups, drag us down, and fuck us.

You know, legitimately or otherwise.

And Todd Akin and all his horde of male jurors will get to decide whether it is rape or whether we were asking for it. Not us. Because we're just women. We don't have a voice here. Not in America. Not yet. And maybe never.

1 comment:

Joe Daniels said...

Good post. Look at the Julian Assange case - because he's revered by progressive types, the women accusing him of sexual assault and rape have been ridiculed internationally. Women will have a right to their bodies when their right to justice does not depend upon the identity or views of the alleged rapist.