March 20, 2009

Phrases guaranteed to make me so angry my vision blurs

Posted in Feminism, Rape culture, Sex at 12:07 pm by The Lizard Queen

[Trigger warning.]

[ETA: I originally learned about this from Cara (to whom I should have given a hat-tip in the first place, but I got distracted by linking to another post of hers), who has now taken her post down.  I don’t normally read Jezebel, so I didn’t realize I was tapping into a bit of a hornet’s nest there.  I’m going to leave this post as it is for now, largely because I’m just not sure what to do about it, how best to edit it if I ought to, etc.  In the meantime, though, I think this post from Ilyka is very much worth reading.]

= Any variation on “let’s not throw the word ‘rape’ around, hmm?”  (With the obvious exception of when the subject at hand does not actually involve forcible sexual contact in any way, shape, or form.)

Is there a lifetime limit on the number of incidents one can refer to as rape?  Does it really make sense to think that calling any non-consensual-sex rape will somehow cause people to take the “worse” acts of rape less seriously?  (Because, honestly, does western culture even really take some of the more extreme cases all that seriously to begin with?)  And in what universe does calling “surprise”-non-consensual-anal-sex rape qualify as “throwing the word ‘rape’ around”?  D’you think that maybe the fact that feminists like me insist on calling non-consensual sex RAPE means not that we don’t take rape seriously, but that we take ALL non-consensual sex incredibly seriously and believe in calling a spade a fucking spade?

Someone in the comments thread on the above-linked Jezebel post claimed that people calling it rape and saying the woman in question should leave that sorry sack of a boyfriend were ignoring the parts of the original post that clarified the man’s intent and how conciliatory he was afterward.  Problems with that notion: a) those may well be mitigating factors in terms of pressing charges and following through with a court case, but they don’t determine whether or not a particular act was “actually” rape, and b) I realize this is out of context, but this guy just sounds like an abusive shithead to me:

I was sobbing and bleeding, and we took a shower together so I could calm down. He was washing me and telling me he loves me and the last thing he would want to do is hurt me. He said that he knows I am open to new things, and he wanted to surprise me. The look in his eyes was sincere, but part of me can’t help feeling distant and violated.

So fucking creepy.  I mean, really, is that really so distant from “I don’t ever want to hit you, baby…”?  Ugh.

On a similar tangent, I went over to dictionary.com with the vague idea of making a claim about the dictionary definition of rape.  Here’s the first definition listed for the word “rape”:

1. the unlawful compelling of a woman through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.

*blink*  Seriously?  So, men can’t be raped?  WTF, Random House?

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1 Comment »

  1. Evil Bender said,

    It occurs to me that there are lots of examples of this kind of justification, and they often seem to fall into the column of “don’t label things honestly, because then I’ll have to admit my position is indefensible.”

    i.e.: “He’s not a racist” (subjext: he just relies on stereotypes when talking about people of color).

    “This is ‘gray’ rape” (subtext: I wouldn’t want to be called a rapist if I did it)

    There are lots of other ways we could look at this, no doubt, but it seems to be refusal to acknowledge the word “rape” as legitimate is because doing so would completely discredit one’s attempt to defend the rapist. There’s no defense for rape, but a misunderstanding–well, just objecting to the language of rape creates its own defense. Nothing further is really necessary.

    It’s an unsurprising, and thoroughly disgusting, strategy.


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