THIS ONE IS A SOCIAL ISSUE COLUMN AND BARELY MENTIONS MOVIES, BUT IT WAS SOMETHING THAT HAD TO BE DONE.
PLEASE NOTE: HULK UNDERSTANDS THAT THIS ARTICLE NEEDS TRIGGER WARNINGS, BUT HULK WOULD ALSO LIKE TO TALK ABOUT THE FACT SOME PEOPLE HAD PROBLEMS THAT HULK WROTE ABOUT THIS ISSUE WITH THIS “ARTIFICE.” HULK TOTALLY UNDERSTANDS THE WORRY, BUT THE ENTIRE POINT OF THE ARTICLE REALLY IS THAT WE HAVE TO STOP MITIGATING THE ISSUE AND MAKING IT ABOUT THINGS THAT AREN’T THE ISSUE ITSELF (INCLUDING THE HUSHED TONES THAT SOME PEOPLE SEEM TO REQUIRE IN EVEN TALKING ABOUT THE ISSUE IN THE FIRST PLACE). HULK UNDERSTANDS, BUT THE IDEA IS THIS ISSUE NEEDS TO BE TALKED ABOUT BY EVERYONE IN SINGLE EVERY CORNER OF THE INTERNET. YES, INCLUDING HULKS WHO LIKE MOVIES.
SINCERE THANKS FOR YOUR READING.
3 thoughts on “WE NEED TO CHANGE HOW WE TALK ABOUT RAPE”
Great elucidation of the difference between personal advice and cultural code. Too often people equivocate the two. (Looking your way, religious right.) There are all manner of liberties that, as an adult, I fully support (pornography, alcohol, etc.), but it does not meant that I would ever advise, “You should definitely go into porno. You’ve been eighteen almost a week now.” The support of its availability, of that liberty, does not indicate a willingness to contribute, to consume, or to persuade others.
It proves difficult for many folks to empathize with rape victims because so often we teach empathy as WWMMID (What Would Me, Myself, and I Do?). This strategy is a baby step to improving one’s empathy, not a be-all, end-all. Persons who rely on it as a primary strategy may hear the account of a rape and all too easily resolve, “Well, I’d never get so drunk as to not have my wits about me.”
Which remains true until the day we do. Or the day someone we love does. Or the day a complete stranger of a different ethnic and religious background than us does. In each and every case, none deserves rape. The consequences remain much too dire for the victim in large part because the consequences remain nonexistent for the perpetrator. Worse, the culture at-large remains entirely too conducive toward an opportunist making the leap to perpetrator.
In further concerns of empathy, Hulk’s male rape metaphor may work toward didactic purposes, but its validity does have limits. The nature of the turn is quite dissimilar, particularly in the instance of acquaintance or date rape. For a straight woman, a straight man is (potentially) a sexual agent, even if individuals are out of consideration. For a straight man, an unbeknownst-to-him gay man presents as a sleeper agent. The turn and subsequent reaction plies on fear of the unknown simultaneously with homophobia.
A straight woman struggles to resolve the actuality from disregarded possibility; a straight man struggles to resolve the actuality from impossibility. Granted, the underlying, heteronormative assumptions may be invalid and incorrect (hence the urgency with which assumptions of rape culture need addressed), but they are near-ubiquitous.
The inevitable character attacks feed further into the disconnect. Authorities establish the virginal versus the sexual as a measure of their indignation and their resolve regarding the issue, i.e. she knew/had no idea what she was getting into. That fact does not justify the inquiry, but it does reflect the deep-seated prejudice. A man thinks, “That wouldn’t happen to me because I know better”, versus a raped man, “How could I have known! I never suspected!”
Furthermore, it suggests some ways in which paedos differ from rapists. Similar tactics do not infer similar targets. The interacting agents operate with different levels of knowledge which distinctly differentiates one crime from the other. It is the difference between flashing a contract in front of an illiterate farmer and a Harvard lawyer. “Sure, I’ll leverage the farm” versus “Let’s talk other collateral.” More directly, it’s the difference between a child stumbling upon Internet porn (“What exactly is this?”) and a consenting adult (“Ew, that looks uncomfortable.”).
Two informed agents can understand implication and negotiate circumstance. One uninformed agent operates at the mercy (or opportunism) of the informed. In the case of date rape, the two parties know that, strictly speaking (in a heteronormative, Western culture), they are compatible for a sexual coupling, regardless how remote either considers it. For a child, there is no specific knowledge, much less hypothetical consideration.
Perhaps more worrisome are the games we play with female agency. Leading up to the incident, we float the mixed message about the dangers of the world alongside the message about gaining experiences and cutting loose. So a woman exercises her agency and has it taken forcibly from her, then we immediately take the tack of reminding her of the first set of messages while conveniently eliding the second. It’s an encouragement to let loose agency followed immediately by assigning her complete agency. (“Have fun, go nuts, but why’d you allow yourself to lose control, missy?”)
In re mitigation: wouldn’t the Hegelian dialectic work so much better without false dichotomies? It’s really a great strategy of reasoning yet so often misapplied.
In re avoidance: some day, maybe Hulk smash an article about how the default response for parenting, culturally, has become avoidance? Hulk went there for a paragraph before getting back on track. Maybe track for future article?
In re Ghandi quote: Maybe the wrong guy to draw into an account on gender inequality.
Anyway, great article on a difficult topic, Hulk.
Further on the one tangent: the animus toward challenging family fare is symptomatic of said parental avoidance.
Sure, it’ll be a lot easier to teach little Johnny about death after grandma keels over. Better keep him away from “Old Yeller” though. Might make him sad.
I have told you many many time in the past that I really, really do love you. I repeat this sentiment with my personal addendum.
I love you now even more because you broke my heart. This article took a long time to finish reading. Not because it is very long, but because I had to get up (I was reading during my lunch break), walk away and eat my beans in a place that was so noisy it silenced the noise in my head. Then after having consumed said beans, continued on (this time after lunch, I couldn’t NOT finish this article) until I had to step away again because again, my heart couldnt take it.
I have grown up knowing everything that you’ve mentioned, being keenly aware of the push to keep me pure, of the push to make me rebelliously impure, the push and pull that has literally destroyed and ripped apart any woman’s healthy idea about themselves in relation to their culture and gender.
I love you now because I want this article spread into the far reaches of the internet. I want to show this to some of my friends, men and women who turn away from this dialogue, because they just. dont. know. how. to. even. begin…. formulating anything resembling a coherent thought about the topic without resorting to flippantness (‘I dont do heavy topics like this, they’re bummers man’), defensiveness (‘well, I’m not saying its wrong but) or facebook liking (‘TL:DR – totally into edgy arguments’).
I want this published in textbooks, put as part of the Ts & Cs in software installation acceptance, a disclaimer for posting in forums, authorisations for the use of credit cards. I want this everywhere.
It speaks to more than just rape culture but to the fact that we’ve done something so fundamentally wrong to ourselves as a specias and society, that this argument can only be considered in this day and age as something topical for women’s studies or something to argue (or sometimes even fight) over, rather than a heartfelt and meaningful conversation with ourselves about hte way we look at the world.
I could say your article resonated with me because I myself may or may not be a victim, or because I am female, but even if I was male, I feel just as shaken, just as touched.
Damnit Hulk, i’m rambling now.
You got me, I feel so much more human for having read this. So much more in touch with what so many people yammer on about when they talk about god or religious expierience (in that your article isnt a religious experience but reveals so much in a way that one would probably imagine a religious experience may feel like)
That weird feeling when you see the universe and all its threads and intricacies and think, damn, its that little bit clearer for me now and holy shit my brain just exploded.
I’ve always loved your writing style, your inflinching boldness and your unbelivable empathy. You shame me and uplift me.
TL:DR – I love you so, so very much for the power of your words, they made me cry, but they made me better.