Friday, July 9, 2010

Rape Culture

So I'm usually not one to react to other bloggers I see around the interwebs. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and even if I think the opinion is hateful, who am I to change someone's mind. I just sit here at my computer and I blog MY opinion, and I hope that it can be a voice heard over the din for people who need it.

However, I woke up this morning to a shit storm on my Twitter stream (by the by, come follow me). Britni wrote a post about getting sexually assaulted at a night club recently. That sparked a reply post over at view from the floor. That spurned a whole string of replies in the sex community. First I want to say that I'm not friends with Britni. We've had a few exchanges online, but we don't really know each other, so this has nothing to do with friendship,(Not that there would be anything wrong with it if it did) this is about the assumptions that allow society to sit back and blame women for male actions. It's ridiculous, and it has to stop.

The fact is, Britni is young, thin, and cute. She wears short skirts and high heels. She writes and talks about sex openly and honestly (God forbid). She's gotten catcalls and been harassed and people just say, well, you should know better. It's victim blaming at its finest.

What exactly are we, as women, as victims of sexual assault, or rape, or harassment, supposed to do, exactly? What are we supposed to "know better" than to wear? Are women not allowed to be young, thin, and cute, because that's not exactly something we have control over. Are we not allowed to drink because then we'll throw ourselves at someone and they can't tell the difference? Are we not allowed to be around any man who drinks, because they can't control themselves? We can't wear skirts above the knee because men look at us and become animals?

The fact is, it doesn't matter what we do, victim blaming is universal. Even if you've done "everything right" you still must have been putting out signals. I was a good little girl for a very long time. I was a virgin until 20. I didn't dress provocative. I made it clear I was uninterested and frankly could be a huge bitch doing so. I wasn't this young thin ideal. Yet when I came home from my first boyfriend's house wearing a tank top and pajama pants instead of the work uniform I had gone out in, my mother told me I looked like a whore and I was asking to be raped.

Later, I was raped by my boyfriend, I spent a long time calling it other things: "pseudo rape", "the incident" anything to keep from admitting it was rape. When he started to cry and feel guilty, I let him blame me, let him tell me I asked for it, because I felt like it was my fault. I had internalize so much of the rape culture hate that even though I was a virgin when it happened, even though I had told him I wasn't ready for sex, even though I had said no when he started to penetrate me, I was convinced I had "asked for it." Posts like the one in response to Britni just bring me back to that sad, self hating place.

I, we, as women, should be allowed to wear what we want, we can do what we want and we not fear that we are inviting someone to rape us. (Quick aside, when searching for the duke case, when you type in "duke lacrosse team" the auto complete suggest scandal, incident, case, controversy, and charges, but not rape, figures). This assumption that men are under evolved morons with no impulse control is insulting to all men out there. Men know what rape is. They are capable of controlling themselves. They are not actually dicks and no brains, and the idea that we are supposed to treat them like they are is both insulting to them and exhausting for us. All men are not rapists. I'm going to go out on a limb and say the majority of men are not rapists. Most men are thinking, feeling, empathetic human beings who don't think a women is theirs for the taking. Don't insult them and us by saying they can't handle seeing a pretty girl in a short skirt, or like they said in my high school, boys can't be exposed to bare shoulders, they will be unable to concentrate on their work. Let's give the boys a little more credit then that, so we can single out the douche bags who are rapists and give them the blame and hate they deserve.

So that's my little rant ladies and gentlemen. Be good to each other and yourselves, and I'm signing off reminding you, if you don't know, ask, and if you're unsatisfied, give direction.


  1. It's really quite sad that there's any debate about issues like this. It takes an incredible "education" to be able to be blind to concepts like victim-blaming, as it is everywhere in culture. Thanks for this!


    Thought you might be interested in this.

  3. Any chance you could clarify this:
    "Are we not allowed to drink because then we'll throw ourselves at someone and they can't tell the difference?"
    I'm assuming that you're not implying that people shouldn't have sex with someone who's drunk, right? Not someone who's passed out, just someone who would generally be classified as buzzed/drunk...

  4. @Anonymous

    Though states have their own laws defining the terms, someone who is intoxicated isn't able to give consent. There is a lot of debate about this, and it is one of the things that tends to lead to a lot of victim blaming, but I am talking intoxicated, not had one beer. I'm not only talking about someone who is passed about, but also someone who is unable to assess consequences of their actions and hence is unable to consent to sex.