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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

This is a post about rape.

*POSSIBLE TRIGGER WARNING - in case the title didn't warn you – we’re going to be talking about rape. I tried to come up with a clever title, but rape just isn't funny. I won’t be upset if you leave now if you’re not OK with talking about this stuff.*





Hello, darlings. Let’s talk about something ugly. I’m going to say something here that I expect may be wildly unpopular at first blush. It’s a standpoint that bucks a currently popular trend – a trend that I think is not only misguided, but actually endangers those it purports to ‘free’. I know out the gate that many people will get no further than the first paragraph, assume I have my head firmly up my ass, and slam the browser shut in a fuming, indignant huff. Darlings, I ask that you please hear me out before rejecting it, especially if you have an initial knee-jerk negative reaction. In the end, it’s all right if you disagree with me (and feel free to tell me so).

Rape is an ugly thing. But the ‘ugly thing’ I referred to above is actually the issue of personal responsibility – a concept that seems to be not only going by the wayside, but being thrown out the window by certain groups. The rise of feminism in popular culture is an awesome and wonderful thing – but there is a very dangerous school of thought gaining ground in the past few years that seems determined to actually put women in danger under the guise of ‘freeing’ them from male-dominated oppression. ‘But Unicorn,’ I hear you protest. ‘What the eff are you talking about?’ I’m talking about the popular movement that grew out of the roots of ‘Take Back the Night’, and grew into the phenomenon known as the ‘Slut Walk’ (where you deliberately dress as slutty as possible because, hey, you can). The movement that says, “Wear what you want. Drink and use drugs as much as you want. Do whatever you want, with whomever you want, whether you know them or not. You have the right!” Now, those things are all TRUE. You do have the right (although depending on what drugs you select, it may not be legal). But this movement also suggests – well, not so much suggests as says right out - that you can do those things with complete safety and if you happen to experience any negative consequences from doing those things, such as, oh, if some sick jackass decides to assault or rape you, then that’s completely out of the blue and unexpected, and we’re sorry, honey, we don’t know how that happened.

Bullshit.

(I know I probably just lost 90% of you. Those who keep reading will – hopefully – not only understand but at least sort of agree with me by the end. Hang in there.)

I want to say unequivocally that never, ever, EVER does anyone deserve to be accosted, insulted, touched, molested, assaulted, raped, or in ANY way intruded upon in a way that is unwelcome to them, at ANY TIME EVER. Never, at any time, in any place, or for any reason. No one. Not a woman, not a man, not a transperson, not a child. Gay, straight, somewhere in between, EVERY PERSON has the right to the safety of their bodies at all times.

With that said, loudly and firmly, let’s look again at this popular assertion that women (or men, or people of ANY persuasion) should not worry at all about what they wear, what substances they use, or where they go, with people they do or do not know, because it's ALL on the other party or parties to NOT molest them. I have just a tiny little issue with this.

In an ideal world, we would all have the freedom to behave in any way we wish without consequences. But, darlings, we do not live in an ideal world. We live in a world filled with a lot of nice people, and just enough fuckwads to wreck it for everyone else. (For our purposes today, the term ‘fuckwad’ will encompass jerks, socio/psychopaths, people who lose control when they drink, druggies, mentally ill people, control freaks, misogynists of any flavor, and people who just plain don’t give a damn.)

OF COURSE it is the final responsibility of the fuckwad attacker/molester/whatever to NOT DO THOSE THINGS. Bottom line for those in doubt should always be, “Don’t rape someone! Ever. For any reason!” They are the ones actually doing the raping, committing a physical act upon someone else’s person so, yes, they need to STOP and not do it.

Did I just do a 180? Oh, no. There’s more. (There’s always more.)

This brings us back to that diminishing concept of personal responsibility. There is a degree of personal responsibility on the part of every sane person to not do things that common sense says would put you in danger.

Let me reiterate: NO ONE DESERVES TO GET RAPED. (I’ll repeat that every once in a while, to make sure you don’t forget where I stand on that.) Again, in an ideal world where everyone is rational and sane and moral, no matter what you wear, drink/use, do, or where you go, you would be 100% safe. However, we do NOT live in that world. We live in a world where some people are unbalanced, a world where some people do NOT CARE what is right or wrong or care what you do or do not want, and where some otherwise-normal people sometimes use substances that change their filters from 'do what is right' to 'do what seems right at the time'.

Knowing that, I personally try to make choices and decisions that are based on the facts of the world we actually live in, not the idealized, "I have the right to wear, do, use, etc. because it SHOULD be OK" world.

‘But Unicorn,’ you frown. ‘Isn't that living in fear? The rapists win when we live in fear.’

No, darlings – that is not living in fear. It's making better choices, and not throwing fuel on the fire on purpose, just because we can. And every person has the right to make whatever choices THEY feel are safest and make the most sense, again knowing that those whack-jobs (or merely dangerously drunk/high/whatever people) ARE out there.

Your level of acceptable risk may be different from mine, and that's fine. But when I make a choice, I do try to weigh the likelihood of risk against what I feel I am 'giving up'. Do I feel safe going to a party with 200+ people I do not know well, many of whom will likely be drinking or using some substance with an excellent chance of altering their inhibitions and their sense of right and wrong? Maybe I do feel that's fine, and that's OK. Do I think that it would be the best decision to go into that scenario wearing extremely revealing clothes? Maybe so - and that's also OK. Do I then think it's a great idea to drink a lot, accept a drink from a stranger, or use something that will alter MY inhibitions? Hey, probably not, but let's say I do want to - that would STILL be OK. However, I have just put myself into a situation that has several  high-risk factors, among people that I am pretty sure at least some of whom are in a condition (either congenitally or situationally) in which they WILL NOT be capable of telling right from wrong. I have made choices that I am entitled to make, none of which make me a bad person, a slut, or make me deserve any unwanted contact of any kind - but I have significantly increased the likelihood of someone impaired making the wrong choice themselves and hurting me.

Is it my fault, then, that something negative may happen? ABSOLUTELY NOT. But did the decisions I made contribute to my being in a situation where such things are way more likely to happen? Absolutely yes. Did I deserve it? No, no, absolutely NO. (NO ONE DESERVES TO BE RAPED, EVER.)

But had I made better decisions, would I probably have been safer? Unfortunately, yes.

And therein stands what I think of as my share of 'personal responsibility'. The attacker is ALWAYS in the wrong, and the other person NEVER deserves to be victimized, but it is inherently up to every person to decide what level of risk they find acceptable as far as the situations in which we put ourselves - at least until such a time that all the people who are a threat (mentally ill, high, without conscience, whatever they are lacking that causes them to lack that 'right vs wrong' filter) are out of the picture. And unfortunately, I just don't see that happening anytime soon. We don’t yet have a way to weed out potential attackers in the womb, and even if we did, eliminating them on a possibility equates to ‘thought crime’, and I’m against that, too.

Now, because I know you’re thinking it (and I certainly am), here’s an even uglier part of the puzzle: Rape is rarely about sex. It is about control, and it is about power, and it is about making people afraid. Thousands of rapes occur where the victim is NOT wearing, doing, using, etc., and is in fact taking all reasonable precautions, and the fuckwad gets them anyway. Maybe it's a friend from school or a co-worker. Maybe it's someone they dated before, who decides they want more than the victim wants to share. Maybe it's a sick jerk on the street who sees them walk by and just says, ‘Why the hell not? I’m not doing anything else right now’. Who knows? We will never, ever know what makes rapists do what they do. Taking all the precautions in the world will still not make us safe. So where does that leave us? Cowering in fear, dressing like puritans, and afraid to leave the house in case we accidentally smile at the wrong person and end up on our hands and knees in an alley somewhere? (NO ONE DESERVES TO BE RAPED, EVER.)

Hell, no.

Fortunately, we have an ace in our pockets in the fight against fuckwad oppression: we have each other. We have our eyes and ears and mouths and hands and feet, and we have our consciences that say, “What the hell is happening over there? That doesn't look right!” We have the fact that most people in the world do agree that rape is wrong, and if we see something happening that shouldn't be, we can step in, say something, do something to stop that fuckwad from hurting you.

So do it. Take back the night. Even take a ‘Slut Walk’ if it makes you feel empowered (especially if you’re with 100 of your closest friends who can probably help you if the fuckwads show up). Go out. Live your life. Have fun. And while you’re out, if you see someone put something in another person’s drink – say something. If you see somebody talking to someone who clearly wants to be somewhere else – say something. If you know someone is a predator and you see someone getting close with them, SAY SOMETHING. And if you see someone intoxicated (read that: potentially making an uninformed or unwise choice) and leaving with someone they don’t know well, DO something. Speak up – even if it’s just to make it known that someone knows where they are going and with whom. That can sometimes be enough to turn the tide, if the person is an opportunity-based fuckwad and not a mental defective.

And, to you nice, normal, non-predator people out there, if you start to feel rapey – DON’T DO IT. And if someone you know starts to act rapey, STOP THEM. If you think someone you see is acting kind of rapey – STOP them, and TELL others so they know, too. Don’t give them the chance to hurt somebody.

Someday maybe we’ll find a way to weed out the fuckwads before they have a chance to hurt anybody.

Until then, try to make good choices and don’t give the fuckwads an opportunity. When you’re out, watch your back, watch your friend’s back, and watch the back of that bitch you can’t stand, too, because NO ONE DESERVES TO BE RAPED, EVER.


Ok, darlings. I've got my flameproof suit on, so feel free to discuss. Please be respectful of each other, and as always, be fabulous.

3 comments:

  1. I totally agree with you. I am all for women feeling empowered, but I don't see a "Slut Walk" as the right way to go about it (not to mention I have a problem with women embracing the word "slut" because it allows men to continue to use it to put down women, a word that I believe came out of the misogynist porn industry "watch this slut on her knees!!", but let me not digress...)

    I recently read "Cunt: A Declaration of Independence" which is written by a feminist. At one point in the book she was saying how she refuses to fear men, and feels she has a right to go out on her bicycle at 3am to get cigarettes. She touched lightly on the fact of safety (she carries a large rock in her coat pocket...) but it is clear she is making a choice to put herself in a situation that may not be smart in order to exercise her right to do what she wants. Like you say, why provoke a bad situation and put yourself at risk? It's like a white man walking into a store African Americans frequent wearing a t-shirt that says "all [N-words] should be hung." He might say, "but it's my right to wear what I want! Freedom of speech!" Do you think he will get backlash? Of course! Sure, it's his right to wear whatever he wants, but he's putting himself in a situation that makes him a target. That's an extreme example, but we could relate it to a girl who goes by herself to a frat party, wears very revealing clothing, and drinks to excess. She must be aware the men there are drinking and looking to get laid, why encourage yourself as a target. No one deserves to be raped, I'm not saying that either. But women need to make good, safe choices because bad people exist and will always take advantage of a situation.

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    1. "No one deserves to be raped, I'm not saying that either. But women need to make good, safe choices because bad people exist and will always take advantage of a situation."

      I'm pulling this quote for two reasons. Firstly, that I agree. Secondly: It's not just women who need to make good choices. They are not the only victims of rape. Women, men, transfolk, children - watch your backs, people. And watch out for each other. Please. This is an issue that can pull us all together.

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  2. Thank you. Sometimes we tend to forget - having the 'right' to do something does not automatically ensure that someone else will do the right thing. You have to balance freedom with common sense, at least until we have a better way to keep the f*wads from acting out. Thanks for your comment!

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~ The Unicorn