[rebloggable by request]
heyitsyaneth asked: I read your survivor post and I wanted to know how I could help my best friend that had gotten raped and after a couple of months just told me.
TW: rape, PTSD
I’ve read this over and over thinking about how I’m going to answer this. I’m still not entirely sure how to word all this, but I’ll give it a shot. Some of this is general, but a lot of this is from experience – both positive and negative.
This post has been a long time coming and it’s taken me awhile to get to mostly because it’s just not an easy answer. I tend to be a believer in the idea that if you can’t explain something simply then you don’t understand it well enough to be explaining it and since it’s difficult for me to explain this simply I feel that I need to understand things better. I’ve decided it’s time to give it a shot and I’ll just update it as greater understanding comes along.
I think the simplest way I can define rape culture is any society in which certain norms work together in such a way that it creates a culture in which rape and other forms of sexual assaults/violations are easy to commit. It works differently in different cultures based on the specific social norms involved. Rape culture works differently in, say, China than it does in India than it does in America than it does in Ireland than it does in Egypt than it does in Canada and so on and so forth. The unifying threads, though, are always some form of misogyny and/or androcentrism and I honestly don’t think there’s a single society on the whole of Earth that is utterly devoid of rape culture. Of course, I could be wrong here, there might be societies that are untouched but this horrible thing. There definitely have been societies within human history on this planet that haven’t involved rape culture, that have even been decidedly anti-rape culture and perchance the threads of those societies still exist somewhere in our world today so strongly that they’re able to combat all the rape culture influences out there but I have a hard time believing that such a thing is possible in today’s world. Imperialism and Colonialism are such massive forces in the world in which we all live and the Western cultures out there colonizing the spaces and minds of everyone on the planet through imperialist notions are all steeped in rape culture, filled to the brim with misogyny and androcentrism. As such it’s hard for me to imagine that such influences are escapable by even the strongest most self-possessed societies out there. I’d love to be wrong here…
There are thousands if not millions of issues that contribute to rape culture and I think that analyzing all of them would just be too much for a blog post, that’s the kind of thing that could take up a book. So instead I’m just going to note some of what I think are the most salient contributors to rape culture in the US
Hi! I’m Ragen, I’m 28, I live in Texas and I’ve lived in this state for nearly 28 years, I’m white and try to maintain awareness of my privilege and try to keep an eye on intersectionality in everything I do. I have two cats who are basically my kids because I have a medical condition where I’ll probably never be able to have kids biologically. I’m currently working on getting a psych degree so I can work as a counselor some day though right now I’m poor and out of school until I can rectify that. I think bodily autonomy is one of the most important rights there is and I think consent is the most important aspect of any relationship (including the one’s we have with ourselves). You’ll find a lot of body-positivity here and I definitely don’t tolerate shaming or concern trolling of any kind. I love to read, write, and craft things and I’m all nerdy with gaming and DnD and stuff like that. I ID as a feminist but I have no problem with people who don’t (my issue is with oppressions, not labels) and I recognize that rape, sexual assault, rape culture, and patriarchal bullshit affect men and non-binary people too (not just women), but they are affected in very different ways. When I’m not on here talking about horribleness I’m a part-time preschool teacher and part-time nanny which I absolutely love.
I consider myself to be GenderQueer and I prefer neutral pronouns (ze/hir). I’m also Queer but I get passing privileges because I’m in a heteronormative appearing relationship and I’m only out with a few very select people. I have some physical disabilities affecting my autonomic nervous system which are kind of complicated to explain but basically my ANS doesn’t work like it’s supposed to and this leads to issues so I’m not always on here. Again, it’s invisible so I get passing privileges most of the time and since I fear people’s reactions I’m, again, only out with a select few people. I also have some processing issues (I don’t think they’re deficiencies and don’t like that particular label but in the world we live in my differences are called deficiencies in the mainstream…) so you’ll notice mistakes in my writing and reading fairly often. I try to be careful and edit but I always miss stuff and it’s definitely not intentional or something I’m even in control of/aware of when I misread something.
I’ve been raped/sexually assaulted twice, once as a child and once as an adult. Neither one was violent, both were by “friends” and, frankly, I’m still dealing with both. I also have more sexual harassment stories in my life than I can count, some of them have been violent, some of them have caused me some serious anxiety, and all of them affect me to this day in some way or another. About a year ago I wrote a story about something that happened to me on my political/personal blog and it was the first (and only) thing I ever did to get more than 10 notes (it actually ended up with over 100 notes which basically made me feel super awesome). The fact that a rape culture post got such a huge response made me realize how big of a deal this stuff is. I starting thinking about how everyone I’ve ever talked to has some sort of experience with this stuff and I thought about how wonderful it is for me to share those experiences with other people and just how important breaking the silences is. I mean, if we don’t talk about it then nobody will ever learn anything about it and silence is absolutely one of the things that helps perpetuate rape culture. So I decided to start this blog up as a safe space for people to talk about what they’ve been through, to share with each other, and to just get things off their chests. I also wanted a place where I could really analyze and shine a light on all the awful rape culture stuff I see everywhere.
I’ll sometimes post things that some of you may not think is rape culture. For instance I think that abuse of all kinds (emotional abuse, physical abuse, etc) relates to or at least intersects with rape culture in a lot of really important ways and so I’ll post things involving abuses that aren’t necessarily sexual in nature. I also think heteronormativity impacts rape culture in some serious ways so I’ll either post stuff about that or talk about it when I think it’s relevant. And since it involves agency and consent issues I think abortion and reproductive rights are also a rape culture issue even if it’s just tangential Basically I draw all sorts of lines and connections and I’m fine with people not agreeing with me just a heads up that not everything I post is obviously rapey. When I can manage it I do try to type up a reason why I’m posting something here if I don’t think it’s immediately obvious though I don’t always…
I’m always here to talk if you’re ever in need - you can reach me at email@example.com and, of course, you can message me on here too. I always welcome questions or comments (if you see me do/say something oppressive or just plain wrong or if there’s something I didn’t think about that you did PLEASE call me out on it, that stuff can only be helpful!) and any submissions you’re interested in sending will be more than welcome. If you want me to keep things anonymous I can totally do that, just let me know, please.
*Content - discussion of rape and consent also it’s really long*
It’s honestly really simple - rape is ANY non-consensual sexual interaction. For more specific information feel free to read below the cut :)
Earlier today I wrote a thing about why some specific quotes in this article are completely wrong and don’t actually recognize what’s really going on. I was just gonna reblog it here but I decided that a more in depth and better constructed response was necessary. (btw, that’s my blog too which is why there’s so much repetitious cross-over, my apologies to those of you who follow both if this is obnoxious, but, you know, thanks for the awesome following!)
So, once again, Jezebel gets things wrong and I think I’ve figured out why this happens so much: they don’t situate their analyses within a discussion of power dynamics. Really all oppressions are about inequitable systems of power and privilege (right?) which means that any discussion of something like the patriarchy needs to involve a discussion of the inherent power dynamics involved which is something they rarely ever do. Of course, there’s also a decided lack of intersectionality over there which is also really problematic and they tend to talk about things in binary terms which is an issue… but I digress.
I think by now many of us have heard the MRA bullshit about how “creep shaming” is so awful and poor guys are so mistreated by all this privilege women have and use and since all those poor menfolk are so oppressed by all this talk of them being creepers we ladyfolk need to be punished for our use of it and just stop doing it all together. Obviously that’s bullshit, I don’t think I need to go into why and that’s a separate article anyway. For now we’re talking about they psychology behind why all those deluded people are getting up in arms over what they term “creep shaming” and how the nearly always problematic Hugo Schwyzer failed to correctly analyze a situation that he clearly doesn’t fully understand.
Simply put, people who are accused of being creeps are not so angry about it because it “forces [them]* to reflect carefully about how they make [their victims]* feel” (“them” was originally “men” and “their victims” was originally ”women” but I think this is more accurate and inclusive) as Schwyzer claims but because such an accusation actually has power.
Let’s be real here. The typical douchey, entitled, cis, hetero, patriarchal male who a person might call a creep or describe as behaving creepily is an abuser, more specifically a sociopathic abuser. These people don’t actually see their victims as people at all, they see them as objects (these people are most often Nice Guys TM who think people they’ve identified as women are machine they just have to put kindness coins into until sex falls out, they find interactions with their victims to be transactional because those victims are not people at all, they’re tools for use and nothing more). Creepy behavior is most often abusive. It’s called out when the victim has been made to feel uncomfortable, disrespected, scared, uneasy, uncertain, insecure, objectified, preyed upon, and otherwise as though ze might be in danger from this person because ze doesn’t seem to recognize hir rights or personhood. Abusers don’t care about their victims feelings, for the most part they don’t even recognize that their victims even have feelings in the first place. Abusers are not going to “reflect carefully about how they make [their victims] feel” and are most certainly not going to be upset because somebody tried to make them do so. If that were the case then all other such instances would carry equal weight - like when the victim says the abuser is acting like a “jerk” or an “asshole.” Since we’re not getting the same response for these other instances in which the victims’ “perceptions” are “centered” in the moment (it’s not like a victim calling someone a jerk isn’t somehow attempting to center hir perception and yet that’s easily ignored and dismissed) something else must be going on here.
What’s going on here is that the label of “creep” actually has power, power that no other label or insult has which makes it a huge blow to the inequitable power dynamic that allows creeps to be creeps in the first place and, more importantly, allows them easy access to their victims. Schwyzer does bring up one good point, “At the heart of the “anti-creep shaming campaign” is a concerted effort to discourage women from relying on their instincts to protect themselves from harm.” because “calling a dude “creepy” labels him as a potential threat; a creep may not be imminently violent, but there’s almost always a sense that he shows consistent disregard for a woman’s physical or psychological space.” When a victim of a creep calls out that creepy behavior ze’s most likely not doing it to hir face! When the victim of a creep calls out that creepy behavior ze’s most likely doing it to other people. What ze’s doing is warning everyone to stay away from that person because that person is potentially dangerous. This is an incredibly powerful move because a) it takes control of the situation away from the abuser and places it firmly with the victims and b) it warns people thereby removing the abusers access to potential victims. That’s a huge fucking deal! It causes an incredible shift in the power dynamic that exists between creeps and their victims! That’s why, for instance, stuff like the hollaback movement/organization is so damn important - it allows the victims to take power for themselves and away from their abusers! And, as we learned from the lovely Jane Elliot, most entitled people respond to a loss of power the same way people respond to other important losses, with the 5 stages of grief, stages which include ANGER and DENIAL which is precisely what we’re seeing from all these MRA’s and their bullshit campaigns against “creep shaming.”
TL;DR - The real reason creeps get upset over being called creeps is because the act of labeling someone a creep involves a power shift in which the victim takes power away from the abuser and uses it for hirself. The MRA campaigns against “creep-shaming” are all about controlling victims so that they can regain their power and continue abusing. That’s it, that’s all there is to it. Because oppression is all about power dynamics. Always.