We try not to think think of it
August 3, 2004 10:24 AM   Subscribe

No Pity. No Shame. No Silence.
"I wondered for a moment what it would look like if just for one day, everyone who had survived sexual violence were visible as a survivor, if we could actually see the extent of it, if we could all know just how very not-alone we are. I wondered how angry and sad it would make me to know. I wondered how much power there might be in the truth."
LJ user, misia decided to out herself as a survivor of sexual violence, and offer a place where people could stand up and become visible as survivors as well. The results are a compelling and haunting read.
posted by FunkyHelix (55 comments total)
 
[lj user=misia] is also known as hanne blank. (since her lj links to her homepage, i'm not outing anyone against their will.)
posted by pxe2000 at 10:44 AM on August 3, 2004


It's been a hell of a day on LJ; I pop onto my friends list and there are more and more stories. It's absolutely staggering.
posted by headspace at 10:50 AM on August 3, 2004


Maybe I'm being narrow-minded here, but any shame stemming from sexual abuse should only exist in the mind of the abused. I don't think I've ever heard anyone of even remotely sane and rational thought come close to admonishing someone for being abused in a sexual manner.

Yes, I can see some people might be made uncomfortable finding out that someone they know was assaulted (ex. raped), but that'd be about it. If anything, there's usually an outpouring of sympathy in my experience. I'd like to think that's because I know such amazingly wonderful people, but I don't think that's the case.

Victims of sexual violence are only beholden to the shame they place upon themselves, IMHO. I'm not saying this in a condemning manner, but honestly... This concept of "outing" oneself as a survivor of sexual violence seems rather pretentious. Last time I checked, in North America there was no stigma attached to being a victim. Maybe a little skepticism at first; due to the growing number of these crimes and fradulent claims thereof, but still...

I wish this woman well in her apparent quest to overcome what happened to her, but I don't understand the rational behind her campaign.

I guess I just don't get it, or maybe I am just frustrated by this glorification of the phrase "coming out". Newsflash folks; admitting something about your past or personal nature isn't always an epic revelation to the masses. For the most part, I really don't care; just take care of yourself.

"I'm here and I'm queer."

Great, I'm used to it. You're not special.

"I'm a victim of (crime)."

Congratulations, you can now join the ranks of millions worldwide. Whatever makes you feel special... I don't respect those who dwell on, rather only those who overcome personal hardship. We all bear pain in some form or another.

posted by Dark Messiah at 10:54 AM on August 3, 2004


I don't think I've ever heard anyone of even remotely sane and rational thought come close to admonishing someone for being abused in a sexual manner.

  • Well, what were you wearing?

  • What were you doing out at night?

  • Did you come on to him?

  • You know that's a bad side of town!

  • You should have had someone escort you to your car!

  • Why didn't you lock your doors!?

    In other words: this is at least partly your fault, please kindly admit your wrongdoing so we can all continue to feel safer than thou. And even if that's not how it's meant- even if it's a thoughtless reaction to something completely senseless, the shadings of shame and culpability are there.

    This kind of campaign is not designed to ask people's pity, or to group oneself as an identifiable whole- the point is to say - it happened to me. It happened to people like me. It could happen to you, and if it does, don't sit home suffering in silence, wondering if your skirt was too short, if your make up was too thick, if you should have locked your doors, because it's not your fault.

  • posted by headspace at 11:02 AM on August 3, 2004 [1 favorite]


    that link didn't work for me. try: http://www.hanneblank.com/

    good link. its hard to read. touching.

    "I wondered for a moment what it would look like if just for one day, everyone who had survived sexual violence were visible as a survivor"
    why not organize a particular day for survivors to wear a particular color. I think the results would take a lot of people by surprise.
    posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 11:02 AM on August 3, 2004


    I think the idea is that being "out" reminds everyone around you that there is still a problem which needs fixing. It's so easy to forget, or ignore, when people aren't being open about it. Remember, it took a wave of "outings" over at the Catholic Church to finally get something done about the matter -- people have known about abuse by clergy for at least a generation, but until the victims started to "come out," en masse, it was more convenient to keep sweeping it under the rug.

    It's not about being "special," Dark Messiah, it's standing up for what's right.
    posted by callmejay at 11:04 AM on August 3, 2004


    There is external shame. I'm in those comments. My abuse came at the hands of a family member, and for years I suffered the shame heaped on me by my own family. I pressured into not pressing charges, not talking about it. I was told to let it go, think of the family and not make private business public. I was forced to attend family functions and smile at the person that molested me, and if I left the room was made to feel like a whiny child. So don't tell me my shame was in my own head. Because it wasn't, and for a lot of others they share the same tale.

    If you can't answer without removing your head from your arse first, than don't post.
    posted by FunkyHelix at 11:12 AM on August 3, 2004 [1 favorite]


    My best friend was sexually abused as a child.

    Her path to healing has included accepting responsibility for her role in the abuse: namely, that she didn't immediately put a stop to it even though she knew at some level that it was deeply wrong. She could have dialed Zenith1234 and been helped by child social services PDQ.

    The idea of personal responsibility for one's own abuse is naturally a highly volatile issue, and I am sure a number of people are going to become extremely upset that such a thing could even be suggested, much less used as a means of healing oneself. So be it: all I know is that it seems to have worked well for her.

    before you rip me a new asshole, please do not attach her belief to me. I'm not entirely comfortable with her interpretation of personal responsibility, especially as applies to eight-year olds.
    posted by five fresh fish at 11:24 AM on August 3, 2004


    going further on what funkyhelix said:

    my girlfriend was molested by a family member, as was her older brother and sister (by the *same* family member). She felt the same pressure to keep quiet for the sake of the family.

    Her older brother got into some trouble for dating a 13 year old when he was 17 (his mental/emotional age is about 3 years behind his chronological age due in large part to the abuse he suffered). While be interviewed by the police, he devulged the details of his sexual abuse. When the police started asking more questions about this family member and what else he had done, the older brother was quickly pressured into taking back his statements, essentially being forced to tell the police that he had lied to them.

    internal shame only - my *ass*
    posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 11:35 AM on August 3, 2004


    internal shame only - my *ass*

    My sympathy can only go so far... If you suffer in silence, there's not much I can do for you.
    posted by Dark Messiah at 11:41 AM on August 3, 2004


    And if your family pressures you to accept abuse, then get the fuck as far away as possible as soon as you can. These are heartless, soulless people. There is no other way to put it; blood should look out for blood, but not when they've done something so heinous.

    If I found out an uncle of mine was diddling anyone, let-alone members of my own family, I'd be racking up a nice assault charge or two. Any family that covers up such crimes is deplorable.
    posted by Dark Messiah at 11:44 AM on August 3, 2004


    You got a chip on your shoulder, Dark Messiah?

    This concept of "outing" oneself as a survivor of sexual violence seems rather pretentious.

    My sympathy can only go so far... If you suffer in silence, there's not much I can do for you.

    Suck it up because everybody hurts, or you deserve to suffer because you didn't say jack shit to anybody. Gee, I wonder where that sense of externalized and internalized shame about sexual abuse comes from...
    posted by headspace at 11:59 AM on August 3, 2004


    My sympathy can only go so far... If you suffer in silence, there's not much I can do for you.

    Isn't this remark inconsistent with your overall opinion that people should shut up and suck it up?
    posted by norm at 1:16 PM on August 3, 2004


    I knew a girl, now dead, that was abused by her father sexually. Her entire family basically stopped speaking to her when, as an adult, she became very publicly honest and up front about the situation.

    Her family made a very unpleasant situation worse, but rather than feel shame or guilt she basically said fuck em if they cant take it and made her own family structure without them.

    Not all people are that self aware and will internalize negativity and bad things directed their way. To feel shame or not ultimately is a choice within ones own head. Most people do not realize that and since they don't know any better other people do, in effect, make them feel shame.

    What does that mean? Since these people ended up in this predicament due to the mental fallout from being abused, it isn't their fault they feel the way they do. They need to learn to not put things on themselves that other people are really responsible for. Learn to separate the situation we can't control from our feelings which we can, to some degree. Most people never learn this.

    In other words, far be it from anyone to judge how another person handles working through a traumatic childhood event. As far as I am concerned they can do that any way that helps, publically, privately or otherwise. *

    * Assuming no-one is hurt, no laws are broken etc. etc.
    posted by jester69 at 2:53 PM on August 3, 2004


    especially as applies to eight-year olds

    your friend still has a lot of work ahead of her, in terms of healing.
    posted by t r a c y at 2:58 PM on August 3, 2004


    I think there is another side to it is that while it is all nice talk big about how they would be all accepting and supportive, a lot of that talk vanishes when the accuser and accused are members of your family, your church, or your youth group. When it happened to me, back in the early 80s there was a definite sense that absent any evidence, that coming forward would be smoke in the wind. Having less status than the rising star of my school, it would come down to two conflicting stories engaged in a battle that would be even more humiliating.

    I don't think things have changed all that much. A survivor is still "damaged goods" and we are more likely to hear about how female survivors are nurotic and untrusting to a fault, or about how male survivors become sexual vampires, than the fact that human beings are resiliant and can survive this.
    posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:01 PM on August 3, 2004


    I have an 8 month old daughter and I want to throw up after reading a few pages of those postings. What on earth can I do to protect her???? What can I tell her that makes her realize that something like that is wrong and she has the power to stop it and needs to tell as soon as it happends? What can I do to keep it from happening? How can I protect her?????? I know I can't really protect her...and it scares the hell out of me.

    It's so awful I can barely comprehend it. I would hunt down and kill anyone who did that to my daughter. Honestly. I don't care about the consequences.

    I was in a bad situation in college, but figured out quickly that the guy was getting too pushy and was getting forceful and (thankfully) I lived in a co-ed dorm. I got out of the room and knocked on the doors of guys around me and they kicked this guys ass back onto the sidewalk. Turns out that guy had raped at least 2 other women in my sorority previously. That's as close as I've gotten, but I took a full-contact Bay Area Model Mugging class in my early twenties, and of the 10 women in the class, I was the ONLY ONE who hadn't been molested or raped.

    BAMM kicks some serious butt. Full contact, I believe, is the only way to teach women how to fight back. It's worth the money, and BEFORE it happends to you or someone you love.

    When my daughter is in high school, I will pay whatever it costs to give her this class. In a second.
    posted by aacheson at 3:45 PM on August 3, 2004


    dark messiah ... if it had ever happened to you you'd know why people feel shame about it ... especially men, who it supposedly doesn't happen to outside of prison

    well, it does ... it did to me ... i didn't even know about misia's page until now but i came out yesterday on usenet as a survivor of sexual abuse

    you obviously have no idea how it feels to be used like that

    headspace ... thank you
    posted by pyramid termite at 4:23 PM on August 3, 2004


    I'm unsure how you could be hostile to this post? It's an honest attempt at making things easier for future and current victims. Why are you reading some sort of grandstanding into it? A friend of hers was raped and she posted to her livejournal - her livejournal - as a way to assist that friend.

    Dark, you're just... wrong. Your feeling that people don't shame and blame victims is simply not in accordance with how the real world works. They do. And asking a child to stand up to his or her parents? The human brain doesn't work that way. We're primates, and we - especially females - depend on our troupe for survival. If the troupe presses a certain behavior on you, that's how you behave. I hesitate to pull a lame appeal to authority on you, but seriously, find a good introductory psych textbook and read it. There is hard science standing against you, and your current behavior could in the best case be described as "repulsive", in the literal sense of the word. No one wants to share company with someone that says "no one blames rape victims, except that I blame them if they feel bad about it".

    That said, "If you suffer in silence, there's not much I can do for you." is a sort-of true statement. If you have no idea that something has happened, you have no way to do anything. Most people that are suffering "in silence" show definite signs of trauma though, signs that most humans with a normal degree of empathy can pick up. And again, the brain and body's reaction to trauma is not necessarily a conscious decision. What do you have to say about a straight male victim of rape? Why do you expect him to go HEY GUYS I WAS RAPED, WHICH IS BASICALLY A COMPLETE EMASCULATION IN OUR SOCIETY - HELP ME OUT HERE?

    Does that really seem like a reasonable position to hold?

    Just sayin'.

    In re: aikido, I don't really think it's practical as a technique for children to defend themselves. It's effective, but very very technical, and you need to practice it for a long time (as in years) before you could do it in a combat situation. What you'd be looking for, IMO, would be a school that tought a lot of cheap ways to make someone feel a whole lot of pain without possessing a great deal of physical strength or great technique, stuff like basic joint locks and eyejabs and stuff.

    aacheson - be sure to let your child know a couple things:
    1. she can tell you anything.
    2. she can call you anywhere, at any time, and you will come get her, no questions asked, even if she's obviously intoxicated (until you've got her safely at home).

    Number 2 is especially important, and is one I made use of a couple times in highschool. Kids are dumb, and will occasionally find themselves in over their heads, but parents are so important to them that they will sometimes dig themselves deeper rather than face mom and dad's displeasure.
    posted by kavasa at 4:28 PM on August 3, 2004 [1 favorite]


    Well, I think there are two things.

    The one person who confronts a survivor with skepticism and hostility can make for a really bad day.

    However, even supportive people can be unwittingly abrasive. On the one side, there are the people who want to be supportive but the look in their eyes reveals that they'd rather be talking about any other subject. On the other hand, you might have the overly supportive person who tries to "fix" you. Sometimes when you just want for it to go away, well-intentioned sympathy can be painful.
    posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:54 PM on August 3, 2004


    I can guarantee that no-one here is any more than two degrees seperated from a rape victim ("rape survivor" shits me, sorry). When you add in victims of other kinds of abuse, or other violent crimes, or relatives dying, or all sorts of other things that can fuck you up -- well, just about everyone's got something like that. Quite a few people who don't still have depression.

    Where am I going with this? Well, my point is that most people are not happy. But there is an enormous amount of pressure to pretend that I'm fine, you're fine, we're all fine (how often do people respond to "how are you?" with "I'm fine" even when they're suffering more than they have in their entire lives?). And that kind of social force, combined with the shame that victims of sexual violence feel, makes it look a lot less common than it is.

    Doesn't stop having a big confessional on LiveJournal being trite, though.
    posted by reklaw at 5:48 PM on August 3, 2004


    tracey: eh, what? How on earth do you come to that particular judgement?
    posted by five fresh fish at 6:05 PM on August 3, 2004


    reklaw ... i love how you criticize the social pressure and then make disparaging comments that add to it ... your comments here and in my k5 diary are the definition of trite

    but you're "cool" so it doesn't matter, right?
    posted by pyramid termite at 6:38 PM on August 3, 2004


    pyramid termite: Meh, if these people were all going and telling their friends face-to-face, I'd think it was great. There's just something about the whole LiveJournalness of it (the "let's tell random people about my life" factor) that I think actually devalues what's otherwise a worthwhile thing to do.
    posted by reklaw at 7:00 PM on August 3, 2004


    reklaw ... i think the distinction you're making between real life people talking and internet people talking is completely artificial ... there's nothing intrinsic about the net that makes it impossible for people to talk on a real level in numbers that wouldn't be possible in real life and i think that live journal link is proof of that
    posted by pyramid termite at 7:15 PM on August 3, 2004


    Well, reklaw- all the people in my life already know, but you know what? Because of the entry I wrote today, someone else who never said anything to anyone in their life about it did so for the first time.

    Because of the entry I wrote today, more than a few brand new mothers and soon to be mothers know what the words "You should never talk to strangers" did to me after I stupidly- being seven and all- did talk to a stranger, and he assaulted me.

    And because of the entry I wrote today, two people said to me, "I really thought I was alone until now."

    If you think that sharing with a wide audience devalues it, you're gonna think it, I'm not going to change your mind. But I just want you to know that sometimes, it takes a stranger- who has no opinion of you, whom you know will not hold it against you, or shame you, or question your culpability- to say "This bad thing happened to me" to provide a place for the one suffering in silence to take that first step to say "Yeah, me too."

    And you know what? I think that's valuable.
    posted by headspace at 7:16 PM on August 3, 2004


    Expert determines that gestures made on internet meaningless and trite, full story at ten.

    Seriously - triteness is neither here nor there. It has nothing to do with anything. If she has easy access to an excellent vector for dissemination of her idea, then she ought to make use of it. As she has. This discussion thread, the thousand comments on the entry - how many face to face discussions does this have to spawn for it to be "worth it"? Do you really think not a single person of the thousands that have read this called up a friend and had a hip, edgy, face to face conversation? Wouldn't you say that the mere possibility that it would outweighs any puerile concerns about triteness?

    If you wouldn't, what the hell is wrong with you?
    posted by kavasa at 7:18 PM on August 3, 2004


    You probably shouldn't listen to me, I'd think it was just as trite if they were all posting about how their mothers died from cancer, or they'd all had their houses broken into or something. There's just something about sharing these things with strangers on the internet that's ... I don't know, sad somehow. Sad if that's the only way you can bring yourself to share it.

    And the slogan doesn't exactly help with the triteness thing.
    posted by reklaw at 7:33 PM on August 3, 2004


    Sad if that's the only way you can bring yourself to share it.

    I talked about it on LJ, but I've also talked about it in community centers, at town meetings, at college campuses, and hey, what do you know, here on Metafilter, now. I don't disagree with you- it is damned sad when you have to find comfort online before you can find it offline. It's incredibly sad to see young women and men too disgusted with themselves, and what someone else did to them, to be able to say it out loud. It's incredibly sad that this is the one crime that people encourage you not to talk about because it makes people so uncomfortable.

    How come rape victims aren't named in the newspaper? They don't leave your name out if you're murdered. If you're mugged. If you commit suicide. If you're robbed at knifepoint. If you're swindled out of a million dollars. They leave rape victims' names out of the paper to protect their reputation, as if the person who was assaulted is now damaged goods. They leave rape victims' names out of the paper to protect their privacy, because by god, it's about sex and we just don't talk about sex in polite company. And you know what? It's not about sex, it's about violence where- more often than not- the weapon of choice happened to be somebody's dick.

    Until enough people say to enough strangers "Someone hurt you, you don't have to hide that," that rape is regularly and fully reported and prosecuted, until it's not a taboo subject, then people need to keep saying it to strangers until the point is made. You think the slogan is lame? It's a perfect encapsulation of where we need to be. No pity- don't pity me, or feel sorry for me, or treat me like I'm broken because someone committed a crime against me. No shame- Don't be ashamed for me, because I'm not ashamed. I didn't do anything wrong. And no silence- well, I think I've pretty much covered that one above, but just in case: nobody thinks you're broken if your mother died of cancer; nobody thinks you're broken if someone stole your VCR.

    Until nobody thinks you're broken because someone else committed a crime against you, I hope people don't listen to you, because you're exactly the reason why we have campaigns like this in the first place- like hell am I going to "keep it in the family." Like hell am I going to pretend it's private. It's a crime, and it's a crime that everyone needs to feel entitled to report, to friends, to family, to the police. Every time a rape victim shuts up, a rapist gets a free ride to violate someone else. Maybe it's not your problem today but my bad guy can become your bad guy just like that. Your sisters, your mothers, your wives, your girlfriends, your nieces, your aunts, your friends are no more safe than I was, so until this society is ready to stand up and say don't be ashamed, don't keep this to yourself, I'm going to.

    No pity. No shame. No silence.
    posted by headspace at 8:00 PM on August 3, 2004 [1 favorite]


    headspace: I agree with you. But everything you say just makes me wish that someone was trying to do a real-life version of this thing (heck, I'd even support the slogan in that context) -- Tryptophan-5ht's thing with the different-coloured clothes, for example.

    I wish that people could talk publically and openly about sexual violence. I wish that they'd tell the police, their families, friends, and so on. I don't see how having lots of people post "I was raped, no pity, no shame, no silence" as a comment in a LiveJournal entry helps them or anyone else.
    posted by reklaw at 8:13 PM on August 3, 2004


    Then I guess you missed the post I made prior to this one- I wrote an entry, and at least one person was inspired to tell a loved one about the abuse. As we natter away here, people have already started a no pity community, and are working on bringing it more into offline life, with t-shirts, with speaking engagements, with just talking to family and friends- and it all started because one woman on LiveJournal said stand up and represent. That's how it helps- one person at a time.
    posted by headspace at 8:28 PM on August 3, 2004 [1 favorite]


    headspace: yes.

    And aacheson, I feel for you, deeply.

    Everyone I know knows someone who has survived sexual violence; many people I know have experienced it in their own lives, as children, teenagers, business women in suits showing a client real estate, grandmothers attacked by some guy in the middle of a break and enter, my fourteen year old niece nearly dragged off the subway a month or two ago by a man who followed her into the car. Or the guy who walked in circles around me one night at a deserted bus stop, followed me onto the bus when it arrived, and stared at me until I was able to jump off at a stop on a busy street. I was six months pregnant at the time.

    I'm sick to death of opening the paper and reading yet another story about a murder/suicide involving a husband or boyfriend who figures the only way to restore his personal power is to kill his ex, or their kids, or both. I'm sick to death of reading about women's bodies being found in ditches and fields and basements. And the blame which attaches to these acts should be laid in the right quarter: sexual violence is only rarely committed by women against men, or women against other women (leaving aside for the moment the question of women abusing children through beatings and the like; we're talking about sexual violence here).

    Obviously, not all men are rapists; but the truth is that the overwhelming majority of rapists are men. Nothing is going to change until men take responsibility for their behaviour, and stop believing that other human beings exist to be used, hunted, punished.
    posted by jokeefe at 10:30 PM on August 3, 2004 [1 favorite]


    i find it hard to provide a rational response here. so many women who have been closest to me have been raped that, anecdotally, i think the figure 1 in 4 to be on the low side.

    if people could gaze on a crowd and see the victims/survivors, then the world would change. it is still seen as a shameful and hidden crime.

    this campaign, and i hope it takes off, is also about educating the rest of us, like this comment in her thread:

    Someone I knew at college was going on about how inflated he thought the "one in four women" statistic was. He was sitting at a dinner table with a bunch of people, four of whom happened to be women, so in mid-rant he counted us off and said something like, "Now, see, isn't that ridiculous?"

    I said, very quietly, "You don't know half of what you think you know." And one of the other women looked at me, nodded, and said, "Yeah, half sounds about right." Thankfully, nobody else had to make it three-quarters.

    posted by quarsan at 12:14 AM on August 4, 2004


    Obviously, not all men are rapists; but the truth is that the overwhelming majority of rapists are men. Nothing is going to change until men take responsibility for their behaviour, and stop believing that other human beings exist to be used, hunted, punished.

    The first line of this paragraph is very big of you, but then what the hell, why not generalise your statement to apply it to all men anyway, eh? I'm sorry if you've been victimised but lumping together half the population and pinning the blame on them collectively is ludicrous and offensive and adds nothing to the debate as to how society can deal with aberrant individuals.
    posted by biffa at 2:14 AM on August 4, 2004


    Seriously, jokeefe, what in the world. Nothing is going to change until rapists take responsibility for their behavior, but then, that's because they won't be racists anymore. Or do you think I share some sort of karmic blame for the actions of other men - and if so, why do those other men need to take responsibility for what they do?

    I'm honestly confused what you're trying to say here.

    reklaw - once more, the concept of triteness is a non-sequitur here. It doesn't matter, it's like accusing footage of Apollo 11 of being trite. It is, its been shown continuously since the late 60s. Doesn't matter, it's still a man walking on the god damn moon. And you're right, inasmuch as it's possible for genuine healing to be trite, this is. "Man, bypass surgery to prevent a heart attack, that is so trite." You are missing the point to a degree rarely seen.
    posted by kavasa at 3:06 AM on August 4, 2004


    Just thought I'd say hi to kalessin. Haven't seen you use that name in quite some time.

    My own contribution to misia's entry is a couple of items in my Cafepress shop. They're being sold at cost, and I'm trying to find graphic designers to make more interesting products than what I've already come up with.
    posted by etoile at 6:22 AM on August 4, 2004


    "I was date raped when I was eighteen.
    .
    .
    .
    I am a survivor of sexual violence."

    Sad to see how some people mix the two, thus diluting the very meaning of rape, not to mention a violent one.
    posted by eas98 at 6:53 AM on August 4, 2004


    eas98 ... date rape IS rape and rape IS violence ... don't you get that?
    posted by pyramid termite at 7:06 AM on August 4, 2004 [2 favorites]


    Oh please eas98, somebody has to leave contusions and bruises and physical marks of mortification for it to be a real rape. Wow, then I guess I wasn't raped at all. I'm sure the guy who coaxed me into the woods and didn't leave a mark on my skin would be glad to have you on his side.
    posted by headspace at 7:56 AM on August 4, 2004 [2 favorites]


    date rape IS rape and rape IS violence ... don't you get that?

    ...somebody has to leave contusions and bruises and physical marks of mortification for it to be a real rape.

    What I'm saying is that the word 'rape' doesn't mean what it used to, and that's a problem.

    Someone talking you into something is not rape. It's unfortunate, but it's not rape.

    And not all rape is violent. That doesn't excuse it, but it is not the same thing.

    If someone is going to say that they are a victim of "sexual violence", then there should be some violence there.

    Because if you are using the same words to describe a night out with your boyfriend that ends with you having sex with him because he tells you "If you really love me, you will do it", with the same words to describe some woman who is abducted at knife point, beaten, and raped, then you are trivializing what a real rape victim goes through.

    Not everyone is a victim. Some people just go through some unpleasant shit in life.
    posted by eas98 at 8:34 AM on August 4, 2004


    Nothing is going to change until men take responsibility for their behaviour, and stop believing that other human beings exist to be used, hunted, punished.

    I'll tell you what: I'll take responsibility for MY behaviour.

    I can not take responsibility for the behaviour of anyone else, nor should I be expected to.
    posted by five fresh fish at 8:53 AM on August 4, 2004 [1 favorite]


    So you'd be totally okay with someone creeping up on you in the middle of the night while you sleep, holding you down but not actually damaging your skin in any way, and shoving their finger, or a dildo, or a dick up your ass? There's not an element to violence of that?

    You'd be okay with it if your boyfriend or girlfriend, who up to this point, has pretty much gone along with what you prefer your sexual acts to be suddenly deciding that whether you like it or not, you're getting fisted tonight? There's no element of violence to that?

    You'd be okay with a total stranger *threatening* to kill you if you don't suck that dick right now, as long as he didn't actually hit you? There's not an element of violence to that? You'd be okay with somebody plying you with drinks until you couldn't stop them from shoving something up your ass? You'd be okay with somebody dropping a roofie in your cocola and fucking you while you were unconscious? There's no element of violence to that?

    Just because you regret a sexual encounter doesn't mean you were raped, but to minimize the fact that most rapes aren't committed by scary, knife-wielding strangers who also beat the everliving shit out of their victims doesn't mean that anything less than that is not a real rape.

    There are four types of typical offenders:

    1. Power Assertive
    2. Anger Retaliation
    3. The Power-Reassurance or Opportunity Rapist
    4. The Anger Excitement or Sadistic Rapist

    The Power Assertive rapist is the type who will claim to have a weapon but will only use it to ensure the victim's cooperation. With 44% of all rapes falling under this category it is the most common of all forms of rape.

    Anger Retaliation is different because the perpetrator is actually out to punish women. Often carrying hate towards women this type of perpetrator will often substantially injure victims to the point where they require medical intervention or hospitalization. Roughly 30% of rapes fall into this category.

    The Power Reassurance or Opportunity Rapist is one who takes advantage of an opportunity to commit a rape. This is often done in conjunction with another crime such as burglary, robbery or kidnapping.

    By far the most dangerous type of rapist is the Anger Excitement rapist. This perpetrator wants his victim to be hurt. Often victims are killed. Fortunately, only 5% of all rapists fall into this category. However, almost all murder/rapes take place at the hands of these criminals.

    [Cite; Hazelwood]

    So for you, only thirty-five percent of the stranger-rapes that actually occur really count. Power Assertives don't want to beat anyone up, they just want to rape someone. There's no violent element to that?

    Power Reassurances- your date rapists- don't want to beat anyone up, there just happens to be an available body there to fuck, whether the person in that body want to be fucked or not. There's no violent element to that?

    Somebody wants to stick *something* in your body that you don't want there, and they are willing to shame you, berate you, frighten you, or batter you to get to that point, and that's not violence?

    Gee, I sure wish Dark Messiah would come back, because ta da- there's the shame. "Oh, he didn't beat you bloody? Then you weren't really raped."
    posted by headspace at 8:58 AM on August 4, 2004 [3 favorites]


    What I'm saying is that the word 'rape' doesn't mean what it used to, and that's a problem.

    a problem for who? ... people who rape by intimidation? ... i can't think of anyone else it'd be a problem for

    you don't think someone forcing you to do something you really don't want to do isn't violent? ... what if they hold you down on the bed and say their "dark side" is going to take over if you don't let them? ... what if they're stronger than you?

    tell me, is that just "talking someone into something"? ... when you don't have the option to leave? ... to even get up?

    what if you really think they're going to kill you if you don't let them, even if they haven't said so? ... do you even begin to understand how frightening that kind of situation is? ... or how shitty you feel when it's over and you've escaped with your life and you have no self-respect, no dignity and a feeling in your stomach like you want to puke for days?

    he never hit me or left a mark on me

    it was violent as hell ... and i'm not about to get into a stupid contest here over whose experience of sexual violence was the worst, because it's all wrong and it all hurts

    why do you feel the need to classify and then dismiss some of our experiences? ... why make excuses for predators?

    i don't feel like being quiet about this shit anymore ... i've been silent for 24 years and when the subject comes up online, i'm damn well going to say something

    and if you think that my experience isn't bad enough to make me a victim ... i just don't care because you don't really care anyway
    posted by pyramid termite at 9:38 AM on August 4, 2004 [1 favorite]


    You GO pyramid termite!!!

    Sexual violence can be penetration, molestation, incest, oral, whatever. Yes, some types of sexual violence is not as bad as others, but it's all bad, and as you said, it all hurts. And it's not fair to say "You were only touched, which isn't as bad as being penetrated. Where you were penetrated by someone you didn't know while you were penetrated by a boyfriend, which isn't as bad." Not fair to judge it and the impact to people is different for each horrible thing that happens to them.
    posted by aacheson at 12:12 PM on August 4, 2004


    biffa, kavasa, fff: Yeah, I knew that statement would cause some defensive reactions, but I wasn't sure how to word it any more softly. I'm not saying that you, as individual male human beings, are personally resonsible for the way some men act-- I was instead thinking more in line with some feminist ideas, which either you subscribe to or you don't. Not 'all men are potential rapists', but instead this: We live in a culture which treats sexual violence in a variety of conflicted ways: as sex rather than violence, as something horrific yet something which also fascinates (as deviancy does), and also as something which, as this thread and the LJ entry demonstrates, is very difficult to discuss and is often brushed aside or trivialized. If you accept that coerced sex-- and this occurs, again overwhelmingly, within relationships where the attacker knows the victim-- is representative of interlinked causes and effects, it is possible to see this violence as part of a system. As part of society. As symptomatic of relations of power. This is why so-called 'date rape' is a serious crime: because it arises from cultural assumptions about how women should act and what men are entitled to. Not individual men, but Men in the abstract, just as there are expectations about the way Women in the abstract should behave. And we fall back on these ideas, or reference them when we talk about sexual violence. It's already happened in this thread.

    What I meant, really, is that sexual violence is often portrayed as women's problem-- that women must protect themselves, defend themselves, be careful, follow all those invisible rules (don't use the deserted car park, check the back seat before you get into the car, lock all the door, never live alone on the ground floor, don't walk alone after dark, etc. etc.). But what we need is not necessarily better security or martial arts training. We need men as allies; we need men who will refuse the culture of entitlement. And for the men who have suffered such violence to speak about it, especially to other men.

    Like I say, either you follow this line, which is pretty standard in the feminist thought I grew up with, or you don't. No offense was intended, though I knew it would arise.
    posted by jokeefe at 12:19 PM on August 4, 2004


    the responses of a few people here show how much further rape victims have to go.

    i won't go into how offended and sicked i am at some of the comments made here, but i will say this: despite my deep loathing for dark messiah etc, i am glad they don't know what they're talking about. it means that people close to them haven't gone through the trauma of rape. unless they have and aren't speaking. how you can describe rape as a non-violent crime is simply beyond me.

    dark messiah, save this thread, show it to your mother, your sister, your loved one. see what they say.

    the action of peole joining this meme is to stop them being a victim and to get people to take rape seriously as a crime.

    rape doesn't just affect women, it affects families. it affects those close to victims and people who care for them, and when the figures are 1 in 4, then it affects almost everyone.

    if there is anything on this planet worse than a rapist, it's people like dark messiah etc, who make excuses, or minimise the crime
    posted by quarsan at 12:39 PM on August 4, 2004 [1 favorite]


    This is why so-called 'date rape' is a serious crime: because it arises from cultural assumptions about how women should act and what men are entitled to.

    Or does it arise from the same sort of societal thinking that lets smokers think it's just fine to toss their butts on the street, lets people think it's okay to water their lawns during a drought, lets teenagers think it's okay to play their car stereos at deafening volumes at 2AM, lets Enron's CEO scam billions of dollars?

    We live in a selfish, careless, stupid, and often mean-spirited society. I think the problem goes far, far deeper than "men" thinking they are "entitled" to women. It's everyone thinking they are entitled to abuse this planet, look out for #1 to the exclusion of others, and think only for the very short term.

    You see it as "men" abusing "women."

    I see it as "people" abusing almost everything.
    posted by five fresh fish at 1:00 PM on August 4, 2004


    This is why so-called 'date rape' is a serious crime: because it arises from cultural assumptions about how women should act and what men are entitled to.

    Or does it arise from the same sort of societal thinking that lets smokers think it's just fine to toss their butts on the street, lets people think it's okay to water their lawns during a drought, lets teenagers think it's okay to play their car stereos at deafening volumes at 2AM, lets Enron's CEO scam billions of dollars?

    We live in a selfish, careless, stupid, and often mean-spirited society. I think the problem goes far, far deeper than "men" thinking they are "entitled" to women. It's everyone thinking they are entitled to abuse this planet, look out for #1 to the exclusion of others, and think only for the very short term.

    You see it as "men" abusing "women."

    I see it as "people" abusing almost everything.


    Well... even accepting this argument, you still can't get away from the fact that this abuse is performed in the arena of gender, and that statistically men are the abusers, and women, children, and other men are the victims.

    Also, if you see this as '"people" abusing almost everything', then you must, I think, take a stance that we as human beings, on the whole are hopelessly selfish and destructive. Most societies experience sexual violence, and this violence overlaps with (and I would say is symptomatic of) male-dominated social structures which oppress women through both formal means (laws) and informal means (custom, family honour, etc.).

    But it doesn't have to be that way; smokers may throw their butts in the street, but I live in a city where smoking is banned in all indoor public areas, and everyone's pretty much used to it, to the point where seeing somebody light up indoors almost shocks. Behaviour can change. And the behaviour of sexual violence-- and the social scaffolding which allows people to get into arguments about degrees of damage inflicted or which grants others the freedom to say things like 'What were you doing in that part of town at night?'-- can be changed, as well.
    posted by jokeefe at 2:10 PM on August 4, 2004 [1 favorite]


    you must, I think, take a stance that we as human beings, on the whole are hopelessly selfish and destructive

    Pretty much, yup.

    Not quite hopeless, though: things are changing, albeit slowly.

    It takes more than just change in men. It takes change in women, in our judicial system, in our churches, in our society. The problem lies not entirely within men alone: it lies within the society that makes it possible for them to behave in certain ways. It is a complicity of many significant social structures, including the complicity of women in general having let men get away with shit.

    That, or men's brains are just plain broken, and they are doomed to operate viciously regardless the role of the larger environment.
    posted by five fresh fish at 2:51 PM on August 4, 2004


    It takes more than just change in men. It takes change in women, in our judicial system, in our churches, in our society. The problem lies not entirely within men alone: it lies within the society that makes it possible for them to behave in certain ways. It is a complicity of many significant social structures, including the complicity of women in general having let men get away with shit.

    fish, I believe we've come to some common ground. The problem does lie in everything you mentioned: and it's not the work of women alone to try to combat it, try to educate society at large, etc. It's a matter of change in the social structures within which we negotiate our way and the compromises we make. It's not just men learning that no means no, it's also a matter of women saying no and doing so clearly and without fear of retribution, or of coercion. That takes not only assertiveness on the part of women but a culture which does not punish them for such assertiveness.

    I don't think men's brains are broken in particular because I think we all have more or less the same brains.... Of course as human beings, we're a flawed bunch, to put it mildly: we got apeshit when given power over others, we destroy things, we kill people different than us and in general act like well dressed homicidal chimpanzees with cool technology. But let's hope for the best.
    posted by jokeefe at 4:13 PM on August 4, 2004


    Indeedy.

    And the first step toward women putting their foot down and saying "enough with this" is for women to start sharing their experience with one another. When you discover that what pisses you off is something that pisses everyone off, inciting change becomes far more plausible.

    My key phrase for describing the human race: Cavemen in tuxedos. On the surface we're civilized, but scratch that thin veneer and you reveal the animal beneath.

    I don't think a culture which does not punish assertive women is entirely necessary. It makes it easier, yes. Necessary, no: when women get powerful, they have men by the balls and can achieve whatever plan they collectively work towards. No male child of a powerful mother is going to be disrespecting women if she's got clear goals.

    Anyway, the entire reason I first spoke up was to take issue with the strongly-worded statement that I should be responsible for other men's actions. No can do. But I certainly can help with creating an environment in which women are safe to share and/or be powerful. Which, indeed, I think I do do.
    posted by five fresh fish at 6:06 PM on August 4, 2004


    Anyway, the entire reason I first spoke up was to take issue with the strongly-worded statement that I should be responsible for other men's actions. No can do. But I certainly can help with creating an environment in which women are safe to share and/or be powerful. Which, indeed, I think I do do.

    Brilliant. :) That, I think, was what I was trying to get at in the first place with all that talk of men being responsible (not in the sense of 'It's your fault', but meaning awareness, support, and taking care of things). *shakes fish's hand*

    ooogh, scales.
    posted by jokeefe at 8:00 PM on August 4, 2004


    You're my new-finned friend, jokeefe.



    Yes, it's contagious.
    posted by five fresh fish at 8:22 PM on August 4, 2004


    Well I'm glad that was all cleared up while I was asleep.
    posted by biffa at 3:47 AM on August 5, 2004


    What I'm saying is that the word 'rape' doesn't mean what it used to, and that's a problem. ...If someone is going to say that they are a victim of "sexual violence", then there should be some violence there. ... Not everyone is a victim. Some people just go through some unpleasant shit in life. --eas98

    You've got to be kidding me. I'm so flabbergasted that I'm not even sure how to respond. Rape means exactly what "it used to mean". Forcing someone to have sex against their will. Look it up. Word Origins: Middle English, from rapen, to rape, from Old French raper, to abduct, from Latin rapere, to seize. So...ya know, it's meant the same thing for about a thousand years.

    The key words in the definition are "against their will".

    How fucking hard is that to understand? I mean really...which word is giving you trouble in the definition?

    I saw this make the rounds on LJ. I didn't put it on my journal because I didn't feel like sharing, nor inviting comments about it. But just reading some of the comments here have made me realize how important it is for us to somehow make our voices heard.

    There are a lot of us who carry the burdens and scars of being attacked. Surprisingly large amounts of us. There are less women in my circle of friends who haven't been attacked than there are women who are survivors.

    Yes, survivors. And until you've laid on a hospital bed with someone probing your insides with a cotton swab for evidence, while a bored male cop takes a perfunctory report that nobody will ever investigate, and you have to worry about how to tell your parents, and whether you could have gotten pregnant, or caught some horrible disease, and you know that your current relationship will be over because there's no way that the two of you can go forward as the same people you were the night before, and you can't sleep, and you can't eat, and you cry for months at a time, and leaving the house starts to scare you, but you somehow manage to soldier on until one morning you wake up without tears...well, then I suggest perhaps you don't really don't have the qualifications to determine who is and who is not a survivor.

    No Pity. No Shame. No Silence.
    posted by dejah420 at 10:08 PM on August 5, 2004 [1 favorite]


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