Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Rape and Bullying, Part IV

Well, it's time for me to get back to my series of essays dealing with rape being looked at as "sexual bullying".

My first thoughts upon exploring that metaphor were about how it could be an excellent teaching device. Here is how we can draw the line between hedonistic sex-seeking behavior and harassment or rape. It also helps express what rape is like... all too often, I've seen guys (especially guys) feel some sympathy or identification with a rapist, wondering if maybe there was some big misunderstanding or something.

When you look at it from a perspective of bullying, you realize that such worries are unfounded. Neither a bully nor a bullying victim are misunderstanding what's going on.

I think there's another, more valuable reason to use this perspective... I think it can help illustrate what rape is really like.

Who out there has been bullied, and put into a painful and humiliating position? Made to eat dirt? Given a swirley? Been held helpless while folks do something painful or degrading to you?

I can tell you from personal experience that being bullied in that way is one of the worst feelings in the world. Deep down, you know this isn't supposed to be happening. You know it's not supposed to be possible for this to happen. You're angry, or scared, but definitely feeling humiliated, and you can easily start hating yourself for not being able to stop it.

That last part really touches on the core of the matter. You can't stop it. You've lost control of a fundamental part of your destiny. You don't know when it will end; you don't know what will be done to you before the end.

It'd be one of the worst feelings in the world even if what was done to you wasn't really all that bad. Everything is worse when you don't have any control over it, when you can't slow it down or stop it.

Think about that, imagine that, imagine feeling the pain of that situation, and you have an idea of what rape can be like. Except... you don't. Not yet.

Because rape isn't someone making you eat dirt. It's someone violating the most private parts of your body. You should have control over your fate; you shouldn't have to be forced into a painful or humiliating situation, but it goes double for our sex organs. Sex matters, and having a choice matters more than you could believe up until the point that a rapist rips that choice away from you.

And we're still not through yet. Most women who are raped are raped by men they know. Many are raped on dates, in which they perhaps felt some measure of attraction and trust for the rapist. All of their lives, women in this country are taught to protect their "virtue", and told that men will try to do things like this, and I know many a rape victim thinks that she made a terrible msitake in trusting the rapist, and wondering what she should have done differently to protect herself.

And we're still not done. Rape is accepted as one of the most heinous crimes on the books; once he's done with the rape, what else might he do?

And now, let's add the cherry on the top of this shit sundae, if you'll pardon my French.

The rapist is getting off on what he's doing.

Maybe he's getting off on the pain and the humiliation; maybe he's just getting off. It doesn't really matter to the victim, does it? She's being hurt and humiliated and torn apart emotionally in a dozen different ways, and on top of that, her attacker is enjoying himself. From her perspective, he is getting off on her pain and her humiliation.

That's rape.

When people make excuses, that's the kind of thing they're excusing.

When people suggest maybe it didn't happen, that's the kind of thing they're trying to deny.

When people bring up false rape accusations (which are extremely rare), that is what they're trying to equate that rare event to.

When you hear people angrily talking about rape, that is why they're angry.

They have really good reason to be.

Amazing post. And very astute observation.
Wow. Very powerful post and well said. Thank you.
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