That Stayed: A Conversation on Rape and Wanting for Words
December 9, 2014 9:13 AM   Subscribe

Sometimes, I feel like I should just offer a content warning: "I am about to discuss an occasion in my life where my sexual agency was not respected. I am conflicted about whether to call it rape but that does not mean I will EVER try to name your own experiences for you. If you want to talk about this, I am totally open to doing so."

Further reading (also linked in the OP):
• Breanne Fahs, The Politics of Turning Rape Into "Nonconsensual Sex"
When I interviewed women across a wide range of demographics and ages about their sexual experiences in my book, Performing Sex, I found that women did not typically discuss rape in response to the question I asked about women's "worst sexual experiences." Instead, women discussed their experiences of rape, incest, and sexual abuse later on in the conversation when we talked about violence. Many women did not, and do not, actually categorize rape as about sex at all. It is, rather, something more akin to battery (what we now call "domestic violence" or "intimate partner violence," phrases that second wave radical feminist activists cringe about), abuse, and assault. Calling rape nonconsensual sex is somewhat akin to calling someone shooting someone else on the street homicidal dialogue. You're not "having sex" if you're being raped; you're not "in dialogue" if you get shot in the head.
• Stacey May Fowles, What can't be published
Words are being used to dictate what women wear, how much they drink, what hours of the night they are allowed to travel in. It is more than 20 years since Paul Bernardo's gruesome Scarborough attacks, and the conversation still hinges on what women should do to protect themselves. It has become tedium, this multiple-decade standard hum of complete disregard for a woman's reality. When police "encourage women to be vigilant," they fail to recognize that women are already living in a constant state of vigilance that is no way to live, under the ceaseless threat of violation, by a stranger or by someone they know. All these years and words and we have failed to learn that no amount of prescribed costume changing or behavioural policing will ever change that.
• Emma Healey, Stories Like Passwords
If you listen to enough stories like this, you'll start to hear a few themes. These men are not ever that big of a deal. What they do to us is never really that bad in the grand scheme of things, no matter how big it feels at the time. It could always have been much worse. We might just have been misreading the situation. They might not have meant anything by it. They've never apologized – but then again, we've never asked them to.

The men in stories like this always have just enough power, in their little worlds and in ours, that to confront them would be to court an ordeal, to invite others to question our own memories and motives. It's always more trouble than it’s worth. If you don't have hard proof, if you don't have a police report, then what do you have? Only what you remember. Only what you felt.
• Margaret E. Ikeda, Meeting Francie Nolan at a Rape Survivor Support Group
• Amanda Ruggeri, I Was Raped, and I Stayed Silent about My 'Coveted Status'
• Margot Singer, Call It Rape
• Anonymous, Trigger Warning: Breakfast (previously)
• Leslie Jamison, Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain (previously)
posted by divined by radio (0 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Hey, this is a solid post but we've had a ton of rape-related posts lately and we'd really like the site to do other things, too. -- restless_nomad


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