I need a cup of coffee for this, I can tell.
I’m back. Caramel Macchiato and Sumatra in hand - there’s no emergency here. Everybody calm down.
See, here’s the thing: It’s not really about you, it’s about how it affects you - and trust me, it does. The way our world not only accepts, but loves and glamorizes rape affects you. It affects us all. Let me tell you how, okay? See, most people will tell you they are disgusted by rapists and they should go to prison, right? Right. Most people will tell you they, “feel so bad” for women who’ve been raped, right? Right. But how do we feel about rape itself? I’ll give you three examples from across the board that show exactly how we feel about it:
- Law and Order: SVU
- Hornitos Tequila’s Brotherly Love commercial
- Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s recent arrest for sexual assault
I chose those three because they are recent examples of rape culture and easy to use to illustrate how it affects us all.
So in Law and Order: SVU, how many male victims do we see? How many trans* victims (that is transgender victims, either female or male) do we see? How many of those are treated with respect and compassion? How many of those storylines contain justice for a victim with he or she being treated in a good way? How many times do we hear the word rape in a single episode? How many times do we hear and see details that turn our stomachs and excite us? How many episodes about children being kidnapped, raped, and/or murdered? How many non-white, over 30, fat, or “unattractive” victims do we see?
In the Brotherly “Love” commercial (which, don’t be fooled. They called it “Love” to imply sex - along with the commercial itself), the female (who would be the rape victim) is the assertive party. She’s the one bringing the liquor out. She’s the one kissing him and walking with a sway in her hips. She’s the one smiling and kissing the male (who would be the rapist). So of course, it’s her fault. She’s literally asking for it in the commercial.
As for the chief of IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, he’s a wealthy “white” man who can have any woman he wants - why would he rape a hotel maid? If he assaulted her, why didn’t she fight back? Why didn’t he have wounds from her defending herself if he was close enough to put semen on her clothing? Why would she just let it happen?
Trust me, these are statements I’ve seen other people make, I’m not making it up. People feel this way. Some of you reading this probably feel this way. So why does it matter? Why is it wrong? Is it wrong at all?
It matters because it’s something called Rape Culture. I hate using those words, they sound like some bullshit feminist activist rhetoric slang, so I’ll explain it so I don’t have to use it more than absolutely necessary. Rape Culture just means a kind of place (area, country, world) where rapists end up at the top of the food chain. It means we look at rape victims as the criminals first. It means we don’t believe them. It means we help rapists to get away with their crimes - and trust me, we do (if they are a certain kind of rapist. more on that later). It means, while we might hate rapists and feel bad for victims, we love the act of rape. We coddle it. We shine it up like boots and pay attention to it. We are enthralled by it.
The place we live in has taught us rape is only rape if it’s violent. We’ve taught each other (and reinforced it through television, movies, music, and news) that unless a woman has been beaten, shot, nearly killed, or permanently injured (like cuts, stabs, etc…), that she hasn’t really been raped. We watch it on television every time we turn on SVU - that the “real” rape victims always have a black eye or a fat lip. We’ve taught ourselves that unless it was rape by force, it’s not rape. We tell ourselves, if she’s drunk, it’s her fault. We teach each other that no matter a person’s age, they most likely did something to deserve being raped. We’ve taught ourselves that the only victims who are really victims are attractive people - and that rape is sort of… a compliment. We continue to tell ourselves that someone “wanted” to rape the victim because she is pretty, because she was sexually attractive. We teach ourselves and our children that ugly people do not get raped because no one finds them sexually attractive (so if an ugly or fat or old person claims to have been raped, they are lying). We teach our world that if a victim has not been brutalized during her rape (I laugh at that, as if rape itself isn’t brutalization), she may be lying for blackmail or money. Above all, we’ve taught ourselves that rape, the act, is pretty awesome. It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s titillating, it’s exciting, it’s tawdry and a little dirty. It’s a dark secret we can like to listen to, talk about, watch on television, and keep inside our hearts.
So how does that affect you? Well, first, it makes it not such a big deal. It makes it so that, if you or your child, your mother, your father, your sister, your brother, your friend, or your coworker are ever raped, you can count on never getting justice for it.
Second, it makes it okay for us to not care about rape victims. It’s gotten to such a point where we tell others to sit down and shut up about advertisements, commercials, music, television, and movies depicting rape and sexual assault. We abuse them if they choose to speak out or stand against what is the norm. It makes it fodder for us to discuss and read about while people are actually living through it. At Dartmouth, Yale, and in the Congo (yes, the Congo), women, children, and men are living in a place that doesn’t care if they are raped - and many of them are, regularly.
So you don’t attend Dartmouth or Yale? You don’t live in the Congo? You’ve never been raped? Why should you care? Here’s the last part of why:
Because the place we live in makes rape so okay to do, it’s a very real possibility it will touch your life in some way (a friend, a coworker, a family member, an instructor at your school, etc…). Every 2 to 3 minutes in America, someone is sexually assaulted or raped - and that number has decreased since 1960! So why should you care? Because you’re not the only one who doesn’t, to put it simply. The less we care, the less victims will get justice. The less we care, the more we’ll see victims attempting suicide or becoming addicts while trying to cope with what has happened to them.
Simply put, a blog, a reblog, a tweet, a letter, an email, a phone call, a statement - that’s all that’s needed. To understand what rape is and how it affects us all - that’s all you need to do. You don’t have to change your life or become an activist. You don’t need to cancel your cable or never watch SVU again to care. You just have to care. That’s all.
So I just found out that you can’t get the Harry Potter books on Kindle.
I don’t have books five or six (because I borrowed those to read them) and I was hoping I could get them on Kindle because I want to read the whole thing again - but I don’t have any more space on my bookshelf.
Fucking arse cuntycunt.
And Rowling’s logic is that she doesn’t like ebooks because she wants to encourage reading.
Make what you will of that, but it seems counterproductive to me.
I hate e-book snobbery. It’s the same fucking words! I find it much easier to read the Kindle than a book, so y’all can just deal with it.
When I was in fourth grade, I was sitting with my cello, waiting for my orchestra concert to begin. The cello was on the floor, but I was seated in my section in a long dress with my knees spread wide, and my elbows on my thighs. My mom - in the audience - gestured to me for five minutes to sit “properly,” and when I didn’t follow her instructions, she came up and reprimanded me for sitting “like a boy.”
When I was a senior in high school, I gave one of my good friend’s a copy of my senior portrait. Rather than thanking me and saying I looked cute/pretty/whatever, she looked at it for a while until she asked, “Why are you posing like a guy?” In the photo, I was sitting on steps, but my legs weren’t crossed … you know, how people normally sit on steps.
When I was in graduate school, I was walking to dinner with some colleagues. I was in front of the group with a male friend, walking as I normally do - rather quickly and in a straight line. A guy moving toward us had to step out of the way for me, and my male friend said to me, “Wow, you just barrel right through, don’t you?” I replied, “Yeah? Why shouldn’t people get out of the way for me?”
The way women use space and move through space is constantly policed. We are told to fold up, cross our legs, defer space to others, be as small and insignificant as possible, and interfere with the movement and space of others as little as possible. I see it on public transit, where women shrink into their seats. I see it in classrooms, where women don’t spread their stuff beyond the width of their chair. I see it in magazines, where women are photographed differently from men. I see it everywhere.
A good number of these “presence” norms are embedded into gendered constructions of etiquette, and they get internalized; so much of the policing women experience is actually self-policing. It is rude for a woman to cross her ankle over her knee, or stand with her legs shoulder-width apart, or to expect others to move around her. A woman can get all of the other bits of a feminine gender performance right, but if that woman doesn’t use space in the proper manner, she will be met with resistance and condemnation - her own or someone else’s. But where she has gone wrong will be noticed, and she will be told. Even if she is not corrected outright, her behavior will be the subject of comment (as was the case with my male colleague above). She will be made to feel continually anxious about her presence in space. She will shrink and fold until she nearly disappears.
Men can be expansive, and command as much space as they like. They can sit with knees splayed wide and arms draped over several seats, their crap strewn six feet in either direction, creating a massive bubble of space that is theirs. They can walk down the street, and assume the straight line in front of them is theirs, as far as they desire to go. Men take up space - even technically unoccupied space - and no one questions them.
Women’s space is always borrowed. Even women’s bodies don’t really create a bubble that is all their own. If a woman has enough room to sit or to stand, that is deemed to be enough for her. She isn’t supposed to claim anything beyond her physical, bodily allotment, and even that is policed if she is “too tall” or “too fat.” If she does, she’ll be made to feel it.
I love this. And I think it extends to the size of bodies as well. Women/female perceived people are expected to have very small bodies to further limit how much space we take up. (I say female perceived because I’ve noticed that people of ambiguous gender who may appear more masculine seem to be allowed more space for their shape and movements. And perception is what the majority of casual social interaction is based on)
Like the graphic about “the greatest crime a fat woman can commit is taking up too much space.”
People dont just get mad at fat people for being “ugly” but mostly for daring to take up space. That’s what the whole airline seating bullshit is about. But fat women*….they are vilified for having bodies that need more space. Then if a fat woman* acts like described above, everyone around them, including strangers, feel obligated to comment on the space they take up.
I say take up lots of space. See how much space you can take up. Take up physical space, take up auditory space (dont let them make you shut up, talk loudly), take up space with your personality. Any kind of space you come across, claim it.
Was murdered two years ago today.
I suggest following @IAmDrTiller’s twitter feed today for more information, articles, thoughts, and remembrances of a man who literally gave his life to make sure that people who needed late-term abortions were allowed and able to exercise their constitutional right.
kissingunderspiderwebs replied to your post:Just re: the Dove advert… is it genuine? Because I’ve never seen it. And I don’t want to write to them and complain about a photoshopped image.
The one with the three women? Yes, it’s real. Saw it in a recent Real Simple, commented on it then to my family. Outrage.
Well , there we are.
Dove are just as crappy as I thought they were.
Aw, I don’t hate you, your reasons for doing so are perfectly valid. Sorry if I came across as judgey! <3
I don’t know for definite… Um, can anyone confirm having seen it in print?
I probs won’t send them out, but ♥ right back at ya!
Done! I fully support this, of course.
P.S. I love that you say “rebagel”. Such a good word.