Thursday, February 01, 2007
Bullies, bullying, and rape (part 2)
Well, in my mind, a bully is either someone who enjoys hurting people (not necessarily seriously), or who is willing to hurt people if it's necessary to get his or her way. You can look at both as being a sense of entitlement. Both feel entitled to hurt other people if and when they decide to. That's a bit oversimplified, but it's enough to give you an idea of where we're going here.
Now, I think one of the troubles in talking about rape is that few people can imagine someone who would commit rape. Aren't rapists supposed to be, you know, monsters? Shouldn't they have distorted features, and maybe horns or hooves? You might not think you know any rapists... but I bet you can think of at least one, two, or a few people you know who might qualify as bullies.
Do you know someone who might say "if someone gives me shit, I'll give them back ten times as much"? Someone who also seems to start giving the shit back before actually receiving any?
Do you know someone who can't compete in a friendly manner, someone who always goes for the throat, and doesn't just want to win, but wants to see his or her opposition lose, preferably in a humiliating manner?
How about people who get unreasonably angry when they don't get their own way, because of something someone else did?
How about that person who tells vicious gossip and plays backstabbing office politics?
You probably know people who are willing to hurt people, maybe callously, maybe maliciously, either because they get off on hurting or humiliating people, or because they feel they have a right to cause that person some hurt - to get their own way, as revenge, or who-knows-what. You probably know bullies; you probably have some level of understanding of bullies.
Well, that means you have some level of understanding of rapists as well. Some are people who enjoys seeing someone hurt or humiliated (not necessarily battered and bloody, but maybe shocked and horrified), and some are people who are going to get their own way, who won't take "no" for an answer, and who will use force in order to get what they want.
If you think of rape as an act of bullying, you probably have an easier time imagining it happening than before.
It also might help if you think of something from the guy-perspective. If you're revving along, hot and horny, and think you've just gotten lucky tonight, and then have a hurt, or angry, woman tell you to stop, it's one of the worst feelings in the world. You might feel stupid, or hurt, or humiliated (to say nothing of frustrated as all hell); you had a running dialogue in your head saying something like "She's hot for me, I'm going to (umm... just fill in the blank here), because I'm a sex *GOD*!" and suddenly you're finding out that, whoa, she's not hot for you (or not hot enough), and hurt or pissed off at what you just did, while you were suffering from horniness-induced wishful thinking.
I'd like to be able to say that most guys handle this well, but I can't. It can be a really nasty thing to have happen. When a guy's hot, horny, and thinking he's about to get laid, he's riding on top of the world. Suddenly, he's being told to stop right now, and maybe the beautiful lady he was going to have sex with is angry or hurt, or even just emphatic, and telling him to back off, and it's a real shock to the system.
A guy can get defensive, or angry, or say hurtful things. That's not okay; it's rude and immature. But again, being stopped at the wrong point can be a big shock... if there's anyone who in never an asshole when getting such a disappointment-whiplash, nominate that person for sainthood.
Okay, so I'm saying that, in that situation, even a relatively decent guy can get emotional, and act rudely and immaturely, right? Now imagine a bully in that situation. A guy who feels he deserves to get his own way. A guy who's willing to be nasty, if that's what it takes, to get his own way.
And let me stir in one more fact of human nature.
If someone does something to you, and you feel really bad, the natural human response is to feel "that person hurt me". Sometimes it's true, sometimes it's just a chance coincidence... like, for instance, when a woman tells you "stop" when you're hot and ready to roll. A sensible guy realizes that it's his own disappointment that's hurting him. Do bullies tend to think of things like that? Or do you think a bully will go right for the "she hurt me" explanation?
And what does a bully do if someone hurts him? It doesn't matter if you're dealing with a bully who has to have his own way, or a bully who gets off on seeing people hurt or humiliated, there's a good chance that this bully is going to try to bully the woman he sees as having hurt him.
I'm not going to pretend that this is how all rapes happen. What I hope I have done is helped some people understand the rapist's mentality a little bit better, and get a better idea of what might have happened to a woman who reports that she's been raped.
I think the bullying explanation really is good at explaining much related to rape, as well as other "male behavior".
Please, if you are willing, email me privately through my blog. Thanks!