Wednesday, January 31, 2007

This is infuriating...

I don't like the expression "I lost all respect for (personX) when (event)". People are complex and it should be awfully hard to lose *all* respect for someone. Who hasn't done something that they later realized was incredibly stupid (or mean, or whatever)?

But this comes close.

Listen: you don't start up heavy machinery unless you are *sure* the area is clear. You don't put it in gear if there's anyone close by. And you sure as hell don't laugh at people scrambling to get out of the way of heavy equipment.

I've seen commenters at the link saying that it wasn't all that dangerous, those things move slowly and stop really easily, and you know what? I don't care.

I don't care if he's the world's most expert lumberjack, if he picks up an axe, and swings it without checking his area, he's being irresponsible... and that's an axe, not a huge tractor. I don't care how minor the danger was; you don't fool around. If people are panicked around you, bad things can happen... just the least of it being, people slipping and falling as they scramble to get out of the way.

It's the most basic of safety rules, and he would have had to wait just a few seconds before having his fun to obey it: make sure the area is clear before you start.

I can't say I'd lose all respect for him if I respected him and heard this... but I'd sure as hell lose a lot.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Thinking more on the metaphor...

Once I started thinking about rape in terms of bullying, another thought rose in my head. Isn't sex a heck of a lot like learning to play nicely with others? So I started trying to work with that, and here's what I came up with:

First, not every other kid is going to want to play with you. It can be disappointing (especially on a long, boring afternoon when you're practically dying for something to do), but it's life. If one kid doesn't want to play with you, well, too bad. Find someone else, or find a game you can play on your own.

Once you have found a playmate, you need to decide what games are okay to play. If you can't talk about this, it can make your playtime a lot less enjoyable, and you'll get into arguments over the rules of the game. It's not always necessary; sometimes your play styles are close enough that you can jump right into the game without any talk, but trying to jump right in can be risky, and could lead to an early end to your playmate relationship.

Even if you agree on the general rules of the game, there needs to be compromise; if two kids are playing cops and robbers, one has to be the cop, and one, the robber... they might want to switch roles, or play a different game from time to time.

The whole point of playtime is to have fun, and that means making sure everyone has fun. If everyone doesn't go home happy, or, in a worst case, disappointed that playtime wasn't much fun, then something's gone wrong, and they should try to figure out what. If playtime is never much fun, maybe they should figure that out before starting a long term game of house.

(I'm terribly sorry; that was even worse than "find a game you can play on your own", wasn't it?)

But a good playmate is always careful to be concerned that the game was fun, at least a bit, for everyone. A good playmate will realize if the game is disappointing to the other, and they'll start another game, or figure out something else else to do.

An obvious corollary is that, no matter how much a child wants to play a particular game, unless the child's playmate wants to play that game, they should play something else. Also, while kids can be bossy from time to time, bullying is never acceptable. Oh, I'm sure nearly every kid wanders into bullying territory once in a while, because kids have to learn not to be bullies, and they learn by doing something wrong, and being taught a better way. In adults, to break out of our metaphor, it's actively unacceptable. Adults are supposed to have learned not to be bullies when they were kids.

Kids sometimes do things without recognizing the danger of them, and one (or sometimes both) playmates could end up hurt. My rules for this would be simple: if anyone gets hurt, play stops, now. You do what you can to make things better, and then you take a brief time-out from play until you're sure it's not going to happen again. Even if it was clearly an accident, a brief time-out is good, just to show respect for the hurt. You don't have to become best-friends with every playmate, but you need to care enough about your playmates to be sure none of them are hurt. A child who is callous about other playmate's feelings might, or might not, be a bully, but a careless, callous child can cause just as much damage as a bully.

Here, again, we have to pull out of the metaphor when talking about adults. Adults can make hurtful mistakes, too; sex is powerful stuff. Still, adults have a higher standard. Adults should notice the hurt, and take action to stop it, sooner than we expect a child to. And while we can't always expect a child to think "I'd better make sure this won't hurt my playmate", adults have better sense, and can ask, and make sure.

Just as a child would be wrong to refuse to apologize to a hurt playmate, and would be wrong to ignore a playmate's need for help, so too would an adult be wrong for not trying to put right his or her sexual mistakes. And while we can expect repeated mistakes from children or adults, we expect different kinds of mistakes. A child can be forgiven shoving a child off of a swing the first time; if the child then shoves another off of a sliding board or see-saw, well, the child was supposed to learn not to shove the first time. "But it wasn't a swing!" isn't an excuse. Similarly, Any adult who has made any mistakes about whether his or her partner was okay with something should be doubly careful in the future, because there's a lot more at stake than a skinned knee that needs to be washed, kissed, and bandaged.

I've heard stories of sexual experiences that were not consensual, even though they weren't rape. The pain is still there; it's still real. In many circumstances, it's on a par with rape. While children can be forgiven for not realizing the possible consequences of their actions, it's a lot harder to forgive an adult, and while adults can and do make mistakes, an adult should recognize the stakes, and be more careful.

Hm. When I started on this, I thought it was going to be nicer sounding. I guess my mind is just stuck on the problems, and not on the good times. That's kind of a shame, too, because sex is one of those times when adults can become playful, and lose themselves in the joy of the moment, just as children can. What's better is that, if adults have learned how to play nicely as children, they'll have the right instincts to play nicely as adults as well... and hopefully, they'll still remember how to lose themselves in joyful abandon while having fun together.

Because the cautions don't take much time or energy; they really are just like learning to play nicely with your playmates as a child, modified for the adult world. If you're looking to have fun, and help your partner have fun, watching out for the dangers is soon second nature, and you can just go at it, knowing that a fun, happy playtime lies ahead.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Bullies, bullying, and rape (part 1)

Have you ever seen something simple that felt like it was life changing? I found that here.

Rape is bullying... pure and simple, that's what it is.

I think a lot of folks think of rape as a crime of intent. They imagine that a rapist specifically intends to rape a person. When those folks who hear that rape might not be a crime of intent-to-rape, they have a hard time understanding what, exactly, it is. Well, it's sexual bullying. Even if the rapist isn't specifically thinking of rape, it does require a certain intent, or a certain profound indifference.

Let me explain that last bit. You could break bullies down into two classes, those who want to hurt someone else, and those who want to get their own way, regardless of whether or not someone gets hurt.

You might think that there's an advantage to the first type; you'd think that such folks are obvious. Sometimes they are; sometimes they get off on hurting a person badly, and it's pretty obvious that there's a poison-mean streak in them. But it might not be obvious. After all, poison-mean is ugly, and people can be cunning about hiding it, and folks aren't necessarily poison-mean to everyone. However, there is one advantage to the first type: it's a lot harder to justify the behavior if someone is confronted with the results directly.

People who are "aggressive" in trying to get what they want, well, it's easy to think that maybe they made a mistake, or got a little carried away, or whatever. Many a childhood bully has gotten away with the "we were just playing!" excuse, just as many rapists get away with the "we were having fun, and I didn't know she didn't want me to continue!" And, children might be asked "well, were you rough housing? Is that how you got hurt? Was it just an accident?" to the point that they aren't sure of their own perceptions. Similarly, many a rape victim has been asked if she's sure that she made her desires clear.

I think that this is where the "rape is bullying" idea can be extremely useful.

One of the difficult things about discussing rape with men (yeah, I know, I'm a man) is that there's a tough line to draw. Socially, guys are expected to press for sex, and it can be important to do so, at least on some level. I mean, if a woman doesn't think you're interested in her sexually, she's not nearly as likely to be interested in you sexually. Guys who want to get laid have to make a move (unless they're lucky enough to find someone willing to make a move on them).

So, it's okay to make a move, right? Well, not necessarily.

Look, no one likes being pawed or groped at when they're not interested (or not interested 'yet'). It's not okay to make a move on a woman if she's not interested. Unfortunately, horniness and wishful thinking often go hand-in-hand. Guys will make mistakes, especially early in their dating careers.

I'm not saying it's okay if you make a move on a woman and move too fast/too far/too soon. It's rude, and unpleasant for her, and there's one other thing you need to think about.

Imagine this big burly guy is coming at you, looking angry as hell. You think he wants to twist your head off your neck, and then maybe do something really violent. It turns out that he just wants to give you a playful noogie, and pay you the twenty bucks you bet him on last week's football game, when his favorite team got clobbered. You don't recognize him through the haze of your life flashing before your eyes.

But you don't know that. For all you know, your life is in danger, and the biggest problem is, you don't know if you can make him stop before he really hurts you.

That's why it's not okay to put the moves on a woman when she doesn't want you to. You might know that you're just trying to seduce her; she might not realize that. If you don't realize that she doesn't like what you're doing relatively quickly, she could be having those very thoughts: can she stop you before you really hurt her? And that's in addition to how lousy it feels to have someone pawing you when you don't want them to be doing that.

So, making a move on a woman isn't always okay, but here we see an important point about the bullying metaphor.

If you're trying to seduce a woman, if you want her to feel hot and sexy, when you notice she's feeling distressed, you will stop. Whether it's empathy, or whether it's pragmatism ("distressed women don't put out"), you will stop.

This is the difference between a decent guy with the horny-stupids and a bully/rapist. Decent guys emphatically do not want a woman to be hurt, scared, distressed, etc.. They might not be looking for the signs as carefully as they should be, but they want consensual sex, and that requires that their partners feel comfortable and safe.

Bullies/rapists don't care if there's pain, fear, or distress.

This is one of the key things I've wanted to be able to explain to people when talking about rape prevention.

If a guy's with a woman, and they're at the point at which there are hugs and kisses being exchanged without awkwardness, unless the guy does something really outlandish, rape can't happen in a second. It takes time, and during that time, she is showing distress, and only a bully is going to ignore that.

Rape isn't an accident. It's not a miscommunication. It's not crossed signals. It takes time, it takes effort, and it takes either a profound indifference to, or a preference for, fear, pain, and distress.

Decent guys make mistakes, sometimes, and those mistakes aren't "okay"; they can be ugly.

But as awkward and painful as those mistakes are, they don't hold a candle to rape.

If you're one of the decent guys, maybe a little clumsy or stupid from time to time, but absolutely unwilling to proceed without the enthusiastic consent of your partner, sure, admit to your mistakes, be a bit embarrassed about them - I know I am! - but don't make the mistake of thinking that a woman who has been raped is talking about a similar situation. Recognize that it's a huge, obvious difference.

Understand that, and you'll be able to listen, and learn, rather than question, and argue.

And we'll be that much further down the path in the fight against rape.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Blogging for choice

Amanda Marcotte helped provide me with the biggest simplification in the "choice" argument; she pointed out that abortion is not a problem. A woman with an unwanted pregnancy is a problem. An abortion is one way to solve that problem.

The entire debate over abortion needs to be viewed from this perspective. The problem is a pregnancy the woman wants to terminate; what is the solution to this problem?

Now, I grew up believing abortion was wrong. But is its wrongness self-evident, or is it a result of a particular, chosen belief?

I say that a claim of inherent wrongness is a result of a particular, chosen belief.

The pro-life position is that "life begins at conception", which is stupid; life begins before conception. What they should be saying is that "personhood begins at conception" because there's nothing inherently wrong with destroying "life". We have to kill to live. Even plants are alive!

Well, personhood, as we understand it, doesn't begin at conception. At the moment of conception, you have a single cell. There's no brain; there's no heart; there's no lungs. There aren't even specific cells that will develop into a brain, heart, or set of lungs.

A claim that the destruction of that cell would be wrong is not self-evident. It certainly is a wondrous cell, but a lot of them die spontaneously, and no one cares. So, destruction of that cell isn't self-evidently evil.

Who gets to make the decision about whether the destruction of that cell is to be allowed?

If the state (or "the states", for those federalists in the audience) can make that decision, then the state is able to impose an arbitrary rule on its citzens. This is supposed to be a free country, founded on the principle that we, the people, are the ones who hold the power and that the government exists to serve us. That means the government can't impose arbitrary rules. There must be some compelling interest to enforce that rule. First and foremost, we have the rights. Then, the government can impose the necessary restrictions so we can all live in peace.

It's not self-evidently wrong to kill this cell, but it is self-evidently wrong to kill a newborn. So, somewhere between these two points, we cross the boundary into "self-evidently wrong". Somewhere along this line, the state has a compelling interest.

Of course, if you accept this, you have to allow early term abortions. Thus, the pro-life movement rejects it. This is the origin of "Life begins at conception". It's a purely meaningless talking point intended to cover for their desire to outlaw all abortion.

Oh, there are people who insist that they're sincere, and can point to their work to ban Emergency Contraception to prove it, but the fact of the matter is, we don't ever think of fertilized egg cells as people. We don't expect a woman to grieve over its failure to implant; we don't hold funerals or inquests; we think "it sucks, but she can try again if she wants a baby", which only the most callous of people would think in the event of a stillbirth or late-term miscarriage.

So, in a nutshell, this is why I'm pro-choice. This cold, hard reasoning that says "the state should not have the power to punish a person for making a choice that is not self-evidently wrong. Only the woman and her doctor should have the power to decide if an early-term abortion is an acceptable moral choice."

Once some time period has passed (and in the end, it can't help but be a bit arbitrary - face it, if you set the time as 180 days, what's the difference between the development there, and at days 179 and 181?), there's going to be a state interest, but there does need to be a health exception. We can't have legislators determining, sight unseen, how much risk to a woman's health is acceptable. If a doctor is willing to certify that it was necessary for the woman's health, that must be enough. Any other legislative test is certain to cause problems. Yes, this means some abortions might be performed that raise troubling questions, but it also means that we'll avoid risks to the health and lives of women that would result from a poorly worded law.

You might think, reading this, that I'm "okay" with abortion. I'm not.

But the abortion isn't the problem. The unwanted pregnancy is.

Pro-choicers say that you can take care of the problem in a variety of ways... in the early term, you can continue, or end, the pregnancy.

Pro-lifers say you don't get to choose; continue the pregnancy.

Pro-choicers have always tried to prevent abortions, by promoting contraception and education, allowing people to moake wise choices. But the won't try to force, coerce, or deceive a woman into continuing an unwanted pregnancy.

Many (certainly not all) pro-lifers try to prevent abortions through legislation, coercion, and deception. (Some pro-lifers do promote contraception and sex ed and so forth, and I'm glad that they do so, and I salute them for that.)

But that's the key difference. Pro-choice people see the unwanted pregnancy as the problem, and work to avoid the unplanned pregnancy. Pro-life people see abortion as the problem, and work to avoid that. And while some pro-life people are also pro-sex, a distressing number think that "avoiding the unwanted pregnancy" means "don't have sex, period, unless you're willing to carry the baby to term if birth control fails."

And, if nothing else convinced me, that would. When choosing sides in a battle, it helps to look around and see who's on your side. On my side are people who preach happy, safe sex, and education and informed choices. On the other are those who fight emergency contraception, who have "crisis pregnancy centers" dedicated towards pushing women away from abortions (regardless of the women's feelings on the matter), and those who claim abortion is murder, but have the hypocrisy to denounce those who use violence in an attempt to prevent those "murders".

I'm pro-choice for other reasons... but still, I like my side better.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The lesson we should have learned

Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about the parable of the Good Samaritan. He put a new twist on it. He asked, why didn't the first two people stop? Oh, sure, there's talk about ritual cleanliness and so forth, but he travelled the road between Jerusalem and Jericho, and he saw that it was a road that was perfect for an ambush. They might have thought "what if the robbers are nearby?" or "what if this person is only pretending to be wounded?"

"If I stop to help, what might happen to me?" they thought, and continued on.

But the Samaritan is the one who asked "If I don't stop to help, what will happen to him?" He stopped; he helped.

If there's been one lesson we could all take from him, that would be the one I'd choose.

I've had a lot of strong differences of opinion with many people regarding how to conduct the war on terror. Torture, the invasion of Iraq, the holding of detainees at Guantanemo.

And I think that's the difference there, in a nutshell. Too many people asked "If we don't 'aggressively interrogate' people, if we don't invade Iraq, if we don't hold detainees under the conditions we're holding them under, what will happen to us?"

We do live in a dangerous world; there are legitimate fears. "If we don't, what will happen to us?"

But because we did, what happened to them? The victims?

Dr. King spoke about how warfare was becoming less of an option, and I think he was referring to the dangers of nuclear war, living as he did in the middle of the cold war. The world is a big, scary place, with the threat of horrible death around every corner.

But the answer to that is to look around the world, and love people that much more, because we're all facing the demons of fear and hatred.

Because, face it, if the answer is "we must be bigger, meaner, and scarier than ever, making the world a bigger, meaner, scarier place", it's got to be the wrong question.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Here's the thing about Martin Luther King Jr., the thing that a lot of people don't understand. He wasn't a great opponent of racism. He was, instead, a great supporter of humanity.

If we love one another like brothers and sisters, if we care about each other as members of the same family should, if we work to end poverty, and suffering, we can't help but end racism. How could we stand to see members of our own family be the targets of hatred, of unfair discrimination and hateful prejudices?

It's the answer that Jesus gave us; Martin Luther King Jr. was a true Christian, one who took the message and the mission seriously.

And it makes me sad that so few people understand that.

I'll end this with a quote from him, one that moves me deeply, and shows me how far we are from his dream:

We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, militarism and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered.

Monday, January 08, 2007

About Christianity

Here's the problem with Christianity today, in a nutshell.. Good old Jerry Falwell, the man who believes that God sends diseases to "spank" gay people, and believes that we pagans (and a host of others) share the blame for the actions of a mass murderer, is whining about how challenging it is to be a Christian when you completely ignore the message Jesus taught, and the mission that he brought.

People don't recognize the value of listening to judgmental twits who have forgotten what God has always wanted: for people to treat each other well.

Oh, but doesn't ol' Jerry Falwell treat them well? Doesn't he preach to them about the Redemption, about sin and salvation?

Folks, I got some bad news for you if you follow that twit. The Redemption is the biggest, most screwed up misunderstanding of any religious doctrine ever. Jesus didn't have to be punished in our place, for the pure and simple reason that you don't wipe out evil by creating more evil. You wipe out evil with a flood of goodness... and the murdering of an innocent man is not good.

Jesus didn't die because God needed a perfect sacrifice to wipe away our sins. Jesus died because he'd spent three years telling us that his message was bigger than this world, and bigger than life itself. As a side effect, he proved that no matter how beaten down you are, no matter how hopeless the world might seem, there's hope. Bringing us hope, and showing us there was victory over death, that was good.

Yeah, I know... it's against the dogma that people have pounded into other people's heads for nearly two thousand years. Deal with it; the truth often is a bit strange.

What has God always wanted? God has always wanted people to treat each other right, and to remember that doing so is more important than anything else. Jesus didn't come to earth to throw away the laws that God had laid down about people doing good for each other; he came to point out that this part, the part about caring for the needy, the sick, the hungry, the homeless, that these things, these acts of love and compassion, were the law. Everything else was just a way of making the law more real, of making the law part of people's lives.

I reckon he was sickened to know his message would be perverted into "speak the magic words, accept the blessings of the church, and *poof*, you're washed free of sin, and don't have to bother loving your fellow humans any more"... but he taught the message anyway.

And it worked. The message rang true in people's hearts, because people recognize love. They recognize compassion. They recognize the essence of goodness when it's laid bare right before them.

And now Jerry Falwell's all whiny because, after he's done his part to strip the love and the compassion and the joyful work of helping others out of the Gospels, people don't see any point to them any more. Well, why should they? What good is there in them, if you don't use them to show yourself the value of love?

I suppose the value is this: Falwell can claim to be better than me because he believes that he has greater "faith" than I. Whereas I am forced to recognize that my disgust with him and dislike of him shows that I have not perfected the love that is the mission that Jesus brought.

He can feel self-righteous. I can't. And that's his value.

I prefer mine.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

What's not terrible about rape...

What makes rape a terrible crime?

Isn't that a stupid question? It's like, "yeah, now ask me what makes murder damaging to the victim's health!"

But it's an important question. It's an essential question. You can't fight rape unless and until you know what you're fighting.

There are a lot of things that make rape terrible, so let me attack it from another angle. What isn't the main thing that makes rape terrible?

"Hah?" you ask, and a very good question that is. Okay, let me explain.

There is a common belief about what makes rape terrible. It's probably not stated by most poeple, but it's an underlying assumption. Some people think "AH! This is why rape is a terrible crime!" and they are flat out wrong. Someday, we'll have a better understanding of the human condition, and people will look back on us, and say "wait, History Teacher, you're telling me they really believed this? Come on, stop pulling my leg, no one is that stupid." And the history teacher will say no, they didn't actually believe this, but it was such a part of their culture that they didn't learn to question it.

Let's look at some of the myths that people believe, or have believed in the past, that are based upon this fallacy.

A prostitute can't be raped; it's just theft of services.
How far she led him on matters, and/or a victim can't withdraw consent once penetration occurs.
Whether or not they had sex before matters.
A man can't rape his wife.

All of these are based upon a fundamental idea that sex is something a woman can get used to, or expect, and that being used to it, or expecting it, reduces the damage that is done to her. Conversely, it suggests that the major horror of rape is that the woman isn't used to sex, or wasn't expecting it. And that's pretty much irrelevant.

This is one of the reasons so many people have tried so hard to express that rape isn't about sex. It's not that it's sex. It's that it's forced upon the victim, without her consent, without her ability to stop it, and without any control over the situation.

Does sex enter into it? Would it be better if, instead of some forceful sexual interaction, it was forced eating of chocolate pudding? Sure, in some ways. But if you were forced to eat chocolate pudding until your stomach was nearly bursting, and then you vomited, and aspirated some of the vomit and coughed and choked, and then your attacker forced you to keep eating, and you kept suffering until your attacker was finshed with you, and didn't know if you were going to hurt or killed, and you felt humiliated that you were forced into this, and stupid that you trusted your assailant, and a thousand other negative feelings, does it matter that it was chocolate pudding? Would vanilla pudding make it better? How about strained carrots? If you hate chocolate pudding, or if you love chocolate pudding, if you eat it a lot, or just a little, or never, it'd still be a horrible crime if you were attacked in such a manner.

What matters is that you're being hurt, it's out of your control, you can't put a stop to it, and you have no idea what might happen next. Oh, and there's probably other stuff too; maybe it was a friend who you trusted, and you're feeling betrayed, or maybe it was a stranger, and it seems like some awful, senseless, random event - why *you*? There's probably a lot of factors that would be making this crime a terrible thing.

But it wouldn't matter that it was chocolate pudding, and it wouldn't matter that you were forced to eat; what makes it a crime is someone making another person suffer horribly. And while the suffering inflicted might change based upon a person's relationship to chocolate pudding, that distracts us from the real issue: that someone is willing to inflict terrible suffering on another, whether through sex or chocolate pudding.

The instant we start to ask about the victim, and what her relationship to sex might mean with respect to rape, we've taken our eyes off of the important thing: the rapist, and the harm a rapist is willing to inflict on another.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Rape and responsibility

This is going to sound funny, but I think Dan Savage has illustrated what I think of as the canonical rape.

A guy doesn't understand that she said no, and she meant it. He doesn't think he's doing anything all that terrible. He goes on his merry way without a care in the world until everything blows up in his face. And, when confronted with the enormity of what he's done, it's suddenly all about him; poor guy's on suicide watch at the hospital, and his family and friends think that she should forgive him. Plus, and this is the part that makes me wish "society" had an ass to kick, she has questions about her own good sense, wondering if maybe she should forgive him, and thinking that maybe this massive betrayal of trust was somehow less massive because he wasn't trying to cause her physical pain. (Hat tip, Pandagon)

What really sickens me is that I read the part of what was quoted at Pandagon, and I felt a little tug at my heartstrings. She's tied up, he decides he'll try a little anal sex, she asks him not to, but he goes along, and does it. And now, well, like I said, poor guy is suicidal. Well, that doesn't make up for the harm he caused, not a bit of it, but geez, hasn't every guy gone a little too far when horny? I don't excuse what he's done, but gads, suicidal? Just a twinge on the heart strings, there. Yeah, he deserves to feel horrible and awful, but I've faced feeling suicidal, so I have a bit more sympathy in that range.

But then I learned the rest of the story. See, this wasn't a guy deciding to experiment with anal sex. She'd told him no, never, not gonna happen, there were medical issues. If it's *that* important, find someone else. And he didn't care. Not until he saw a scary amount of blood, after he was done fucking her. (Sorry about the language, but gentler words don't properly describe this kind of act.)

She mentions figuring that, well, he wasn't trying to hurt her, he used lube and carefully stretched her out, trying to do it right. And yeah, I can see someone thinking that makes it better, in some way, but god damn.

It means (check the link) that he had that much more time to hear her telling him, no, stop, don't do this.

And family and friends are asking if she can forgive him. You know, I reckon they don't know the details, but you know something? I don't see that it matters. Why does she have to prove that it was bad enough that she shouldn't forgive him? Why isn't her unwillingness to forgive him proof that what he did wasn't worthy of forgiveness?

(Don't answer that. I know. They're scared that he's in such bad shape. I'm ranting, I'll be fair about this later, if necessary)

Where was I?

Oh, yeah. And it illustrates something else about the whole issue of rape that just pisses me off.

People seem to view sex as being nothing more than, I don't know, walking down stairs with someone. Sure, you don't just walk down the stairs with anyone, but you could... it's just, you do have standards. And, if you have a bad experience, well, oops, hey, those stairs are slippery, get up, brush yourself off, and for heaven's sake, stop whining.

But to continue the analogy, it's one thing if you fall down the stairs and you hear your partner say "oh shit!" and try to steady you, and hold you, or cushion your fall, and comfort you afterwards. It's another thing if you're going down the steps with a clumsy oaf who steps on your foot and makes you stumble and fall. And it's still another if you get pushed... or, to make a proper analogy with the letter I'm referencing, "still another if, after being blindfolded by someone you trust to carefully lead you down those stairs, find yourself shoved, head over heels, by a guy who is giggling while you tumble, who only seems upset once he realizes that you're really badly injured."

People don't realize that horrible sexual experiences don't just happen. Sure, they can 'just happen' sometimes; sex is powerful stuff, and it can evoke powerful responses.

But there's another person present, another person who bears responsibility, another person who should at least be making sure you're not *hurt*. Okay? I mean, sure, people can be selfish about their own desires, people can be grudging with the give and take, people can have their orgasm, and roll over and go to sleep, but whatever else they do, they should be making sure that their sex partners aren't hurt. Plus, hurtful things don't just happen. She wasn't horrified and bleeding when he lubed up his finger; she probably could have forgiven him after he slipped a finger in, if he realized that she really didn't like it (and then, left her ass alone forever). But he kept on going, while she cried, screamed, and bled.

No, not every horrible sexual incident is like that; sometimes it's not that drawn out; sometimes there aren't the equivalent of huge, flashing neon signs saying "stop!" But they don't just happen in an instant, either. They take time, and people don't go from gloriously happy and perfectly consenting to instantly traumatized. Sure, it's impossible to prevent all sexual unhappiness, but damn it all, people can try to make sure their partners aren't actually hurt.

Honestly, it's really not too much to ask.

And no, I'm not saying that everyone whose sex partner gets hurt is a rapist. But it's not a neutral event, either. If you're driving and you dent someone else's car, maybe you're not a horrible driver, but you sure as heck can't say you have no responsibility, either. At the very least, you need to go over what happened, and figure out why the other car got dented, and figure out how to avoid it in the future. Sometimes there are no lessons to learn ("it was a patch of black ice"), but most of the time, there are ("I guess I was going a little fast, though... I knew there could be black ice.").

Personal responsibility is understood if a driver damages someone's car... but all too often, it flies out the window if a rapist damages a victim's body, mind, or spirit.

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