Recently, someone on my Facebook posted a blog entry about some guy (?) who has boycotted their Reddit account over the existence of a thread where men who have raped women are invited to tell their side of the story. I decided to try and understand why all of a sudden, some guy somewhere on the internet has decided something important enough finally happened that pushed him to boycott Reddit. It’s no secret that this cyber meeting ground is full of creeps, and riddled with misogynist and ableist content. So why all of a sudden? And that’s when the nature of the problem was revealed to me. The thread is referred to as Ask A Rapist. I have exactly zero interest in confirming one way or another if that is in fact what it is called; and due to my primary access to the internet at the time of this writing being either an $80 phone or free public WiFi hot spots on a loaner 8.9” laptop for a maximum of a couple hours a day, I’d rather prioritize my time doing something important. I’m between getting butt-frustrated about how the laptop’s touchpad works and how my phone smooshes entire webpages into less than a quarter of the width I would observe on a computer (picture reading an entire Wikipedia page one word at a time in a vertical column – this still happens more often than is reasonable). But one webpage worked on my phone: a Jezebel article on this particular Reddit thread.
I hoped to see the entire collective Reddit community having 17 new assholes ripped open with feminist sarcasm slathered on thick and frosty. That is, after all, why anyone reads Jezebel. But this time, it appears as if Jezebel has been hacked by my arch nemesis — anti-joke chicken — and an article as dry as a box of sidewalk chalk has been written by someone who would use the phrase “two Holocausts” as a punchline. It’s entirely possible I’ve completely missed the sarcasm, or maybe there just was none. In any event, the author of the article asserts that the “brutal honesty” of all these self-declared rapists is some sort of “useful exercise” that takes rape culture out of an alleged vacuum in which feminist discourse typically treats the subject matter. As I just typed that last sentence, I seriously became momentarily convinced that a so-called men’s rights activist wrote that article, but I digress. The point is simple: the Jezebel article is missing a critical point in this discussion. Everything on that Reddit thread is a carefully crafted half-truth. Maybe for the sake of diffusing some anger momentarily, read what my friend wrote in response to all of this bullshit. Then continue reading here.
I am constantly aware that I am somewhat of an anomaly, in that not only have I survived incest, a debilitating dissociative disorder that I developed as a result, and then rape; but I also function well enough to talk about it. And it wasn’t just once. I am a survivor of multiple rapes. My perpetrators were all different, all used different tactics, and all perpetrated against me differently, but it is all part of the same trauma — it is all part of the post-traumatic stress syndrome I am now working through. I have been told more than once (and by more than one person) that if 999 other people went through a mere fraction of my life, I’d still be the only one alive and functioning well enough to talk about it. The more I work through what I have survived, and the more I begin to express about exactly how hard I’ve had to fight just to stay alive through all of it, the more deeply I believe in that sentiment as an objective truth about my life.
In contrast to what can objectively be stated about my life experiences, we have both carefully crafted half-truths and blatant lies my rapists (and many more) tell. These are details that cannot be understated in a conversation about rape culture. These are the details that feminist discourse, starting with the words “no means no”, directly deals with. If this is what was meant by talking about rape culture in a vacuum, that has got to be a rather pathetic and grossly under-exaggerated attempt at sarcasm. The deeper into the psychology of a rapist one goes, the more parallels one finds between a rapist of women and a pedophile. No wonder my pedophile and my first rapist became buddies after I left them both and ran as far away as I could take myself. They already had so much in common! — they operate in the same mindset, and they were both jilted by the same “lover”. In case you think I’m just joking, I couldn’t make that part of my history up if I was paid to try.
You want some “brutal honesty” about rape? Don’t ever ask a rapist. They’ll tell you a lack of clothing is the exact same as consent to being (forcibly) penetrated. They’ll tell you there’s a “look” one of their victims gave them, that gave them consent, even when they were coming at their victim from behind and avoided making eye contact through the entire assault. They’ll tell you they were helplessly aroused. They’ll tell you she was helplessly aroused. They’ll tell you she was begging for it, even when she was begging for it to stop. They’ll tell you their victim was constantly flirting or talking about sex (Like, really? She never stops to talk about, say, if she’s hungry or tired or needs to excuse herself to use the toilet? I find that hard to believe!), and that this is exactly the same as openly declaring a desire for sex with them right then and there. They’ll tell you their victim was “asking for it” (i.e., she wanted to not-want sex!). They’ll tell you that their victim was asleep, so what she didn’t know was happening to her (that she would never consent to while awake) doesn’t hurt her. They’ll tell you that their victim was drunk, so what she didn’t remember was happening to her (that she would never consent to while sober) doesn’t hurt her. They’ll tell you that their victim had literally just made sexual advances, and then at the drop of a dime and for no reason at all, she started playing hard-to-get or disinterested or changed-my-mind, and that because they already made up their mind before she changed hers, it’s too late and they can’t stop themselves.
They’ll tell you that their victim was just saying she wasn’t offering what they were asking for, but that’s not what she meant. They’ll tell you their victim didn’t say no, so on that basis alone, they had every reason to believe that they weren’t raping someone — until afterward, of course, when the victim said “I can’t believe you raped me” (and they’ll neglect to tell you about that too). They’ll tell you their victim was totally into it, even though they had to wrestle and hold her down first. They’ll tell you their victim was so into it, she left claw marks. They’ll tell you that when they pulled out of where they had consent to be, and forced themselves into where they didn’t, that their victim didn’t say anything, so that means she wanted it (not that she went into shock and/or couldn’t breathe). They’ll tell you their victim didn’t fight back, so really, that just means she was only saying she didn’t want it, but she didn’t really mean it. They’ll tell you their victim provoked it. They’ll tell you their victim made them do it to her. They’ll tell you their victim brought it on herself, or that she was dressed (or undressed) like she wanted it, or she was acting (or talking) like she wanted it. They’ll tell you their victim never stopped to establish consent with them, so it’s her own fault they never asked for it. They’ll tell you their victim stopped resisting after they forced her legs open, so she was just playing coy.
But for fuck’s sake, they’ll tell you she didn’t say her safeword after they strapped a ball gag as tight against her face as they could fasten it. Or that she didn’t put up a fight after she was strapped into a leather sling with each of her wrists and ankles cuffed apart, or after her neck and wrists were locked in restraints bolted into the dungeon floor. They won’t tell you about when they saw tears streaming down her face, or when they noticed that the sheets under her face were getting soaked. They won’t tell you about knowing she was crying out in agony, rather than ecstasy. They won’t tell you about how they watched her stop responding to anything they said to her, how they felt her body go limp, or how they knew she wasn’t into it when she wasn’t cooperating, but how they just became more aggressive anyway and took out their frustration on her body, knowing it was rape. They won’t tell you about how they grabbed a handful of her hair, close to the scalp to make sure she couldn’t face any direction other than away, and forced her body to bend against her will. They won’t tell you about drugging her drink. They won’t tell you about buying her drinks and pressuring her to finish them even when she said she’s had enough. They won’t tell you about experiencing even a passing moral dilemma while they are putting their hands on her, or while she keeps pushing their hands off her body (or taking her hands off theirs). They won’t tell you every microaggressive thing they said to wear her down, manipulate her emotions to her detriment, and disarm her every defensive reaction.
They certainly won’t tell you if she said no, especially if she was never granted an opportunity to say no before it was too late to serve as an even remotely meaningful gesture against someone who wouldn’t listen anyway. They won’t tell you if she tried to pull herself away and they pulled her back down. They won’t tell you if she was begging and pleading at length for them to stop, but they just kept going. They won’t tell you if she said she has HIV to try and stop them while they were holding her down and tearing her clothes off, or how they grabbed a plastic bag to protect themselves right before raping her. They won’t tell you if they pulled the condom off right before they forced themselves inside a woman who asked them to use protection. They won’t tell you the bullshit they told their victim to get out of using a condom, while still getting what they wanted. They won’t tell you if they squeezed her neck until they could hear the sound of her trachea narrowing to an opening the size of a drinking straw, just to keep her there and make her cooperate. They won’t tell you if she was fighting until they pulled a knife or a gun out and threatened to kill her with it if she keeps fighting them. They won’t tell you if they pushed and held her against a wall, or twisted her arms as far as they could and held her wrists behind her back. They won’t tell you if they held her down with their hand over her mouth. They won’t tell you that they managed to avoid apologizing for any of it, when faced with a victim who is so bold as to confront them about it.
They’ll never tell you that it’s always their fault she was raped – not hers. And if they can avoid calling it rape, they will. They’ll use the passive tense when they feel they have to call it rape, and they’ll blame her for it or pretend that it’s just not rape except in her perception. They’ll pretend their perception is more important than hers because they want to control how you perceive it, how you perceive her, and how you perceive who is at fault. Everything they’ll tell you is a lie, designed to secure and keep your trust in them. Every lie they create and disseminate is a self-defense measure, designed to let them blend in with everyone else, where they can prey upon their target demographic without being seen for who they are except through the eyes of those perpetrated against — who, thanks both to pervasive rape culture and the emotional manipulation they’ve entrapped you in, no one will listen to anyway.
Take my word for it. I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.
Update: Dear Gods, anti-joke chicken wrote a follow-up to my friend’s reddit post. Can the arguments and convictions really get any worse at this point? Perhaps I’ll be surprised, but my gut tells me it can only get worse if she actually tells a “joke” that uses “two Holocausts” as a punchline in the next article.
Update (2.0): *facepalm* She takes her argument to CBC. She is asked point-blank if the validity of anything that has been submitted can be confirmed, and she states that because it’s congruent with existing observations about the greater rape culture, then it must be true. Looks like someone needs to take some time to actually think about her opinions by taking some other perspective into account for a change.