As I go through counseling to work through the trauma of being raped continuously throughout my childhood, I am beginning to see disturbing patterns in societal attitudes toward rape and violence against women in general. These serve to minimize the perceived severity of the effect that rape and domestic abuse have on a woman. The overwhelming and yet veiled response I have received from the majority of people with whom I have shared any part of my story seems to say,
Too bad it happened that way but that is supposed to happen to you anyway, so shut up and get over it.
Once, I even read a statement from a middle-aged man reminiscing fondly about a time when rape was kept quiet and women just,
Got over it or died or something.
Many people seem to believe that rape is a man simply ignoring a woman’s refusal to his advances; that any woman who is raped has chosen to be because all she has to do is disregard her own desires for her body and just submit to it. A perfect example of this is the following statement, tweeted by an account claiming to be a female,
Don’t want to be raped? Just don’t say no.
Once, after a fairly recent rape when I was venting on twitter, a man I followed until that day was tweeting about how he was complaining to his wife about rape victims and that when she asked what he had against them, he told her,
The three previously mentioned statements are far from isolated. At least once every day, I see rape used as joke fodder and made light of by both men and women, no matter how many people I block on social networks or sites avoided or shows/comedians boycotted. I see lonely women joking about turning off their rape alarms or silently praying to themselves that someone will drug their drinks whilst they are in a bar restroom. I see men joking that their wives say the best sex they ever had was when he pretended to break in wearing a ski mask and he has no idea what she is talking about. There is one joke, which has been starred on favstar.fm by a sickening number of people, that reads,
I can tell within the first 20 seconds of meeting you whether our sex will be consensual or not.
This callous dismissal of the trauma of rape is never ending.
The reality is that rape is terrifying and excruciatingly painful. It is not a sexual act and not saying no is not an option because rapists don’t ask. Rapists do not rape because they want to have sex with women who refuse their advances. They do it to control the woman because they feel powerless, inadequate and ineffectual themselves. A rapist does not want a woman to consent. I know this all too well because after reading a rape scene from Robert A. Heinlein’s book, “Friday”, where the heroine successfully stymies her rapists by behaving as though she is voraciously enjoying it, I attempted the same the next time my abuser raped me. He flew into a rage and began slapping me and beating me with his fists in the chest, upper and lower abdomen and groin. He knew that he could hit me hard enough in those areas to cause excruciating pain with minimal bruising. Then he picked me up and threw me onto my stomach, after which he proceeded to sodomize me harder than a railroad worker hits a railroad tie with a sledgehammer. He raped my anus so forcefully that I am certain that it had to be painful, to some degree, even to him. He certainly could not have found it pleasurable. I did not hear and thus do not remember most of the things he shouted while doing it because he had shoved my face into a pillow to stifle my screams and so it partially obscured my hearing as well but the overwhelming theme was that I was a whore and so I had to be punished.
I was fifteen years old. The memory of it is so vivid that I can feel phantom pain in my anus as I type this article. This horror is but one of at least hundreds and perhaps even thousands that I suffered between the ages of two and seventeen.
How people, any of them, can see anything but horror in that; how they can make light and laugh at it or as in one statement, be turned on by it, is truly beyond me. I do not know what makes a person so inhuman as to belittle and minimize the trauma of rape in an attempt to shame and silence rape victims and I do not care to know. All I know is that it is those people and not even the sick men who have raped me that have destroyed my love for and faith in humanity. It is because of them that I no longer desire to become a research scientist who cures diseases and saves lives. It is because of those people that I dream of finding some way to exterminate every last human because I feel that we are too horrible to live. So when I am told that my anger is misdirected and that I am lashing out at the wrong people, who don’t deserve it, I vehemently disagree.
The men who have raped me are disturbed beyond the capability of love or happiness. All of them are so miserable that in their middle age they seem decades older because their crimes have marked them. They look as though death is chasing them already, even in the case of one who was extremely physically fit for most of his life, as an avid athlete. He has been such a severe alcoholic for at least the last twenty years that in his late forties, his liver, pancreas and neck glands are already visibly enlarged. He has already begun to die. There is no angle from which this situation is not tragic.
While I hold these men and no one else responsible for their crimes against me, I have enough knowledge of the psychology of a rapist to also know that they take no joy in their crimes, despite the ways they will taunt victims after the act, if given the chance. Their crimes are pathologically driven and I do not hold them against humankind as a whole.
Those who belittle and minimize it with jokes and sarcasm are not pathologically driven. It is simply a cruel manifestation of ostrich syndrome (which is inappropriately named, as ostriches are actually quite aggressive when confronted and sometimes just in general). They don’t want to see the horrors of the world and so they make a joke out of it but until you have had your anus ripped apart and bruised for the crime of being a teenage girl, you don’t get to joke about it! Do you know why? It is because if you were, you would never joke about it!
I have come to believe that many of them are only so callous because they are ignorant of the realities of rape. This is largely due to the shaming of women into never speaking of their experiences or if they do it must be vague and cryptic. So I am starting a new category, which will touch on the gruesome realities of my experiences because I have had enough. If you refuse to look, I will shove your nose in it as hard and as often as possible, until you get it through your head that rape is not something to be trivialized.