The Radical Notion

Encouraging women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians

No One Cares September 29, 2009

[Trigger warning]

You know, you can think and write about patriarchy and rape culture and misogyny all day long until you think you’ve really got a handle on it, and all it takes is for someone to come along and give you a swift kick in the pants for everything to go completely to pot and you have to start all over again.

See, here’s the thing. Women are trained to fear rape. A lot. It’s something that women take completely for granted – it’s expected! – but that nobody who hasn’t lived as one can ever fully understand.

Don’t walk alone at night! Don’t get drunk in public places! Don’t wear revealing clothing! Don’t take a drink from someone you don’t know! Take self-defense classes! Walk confidently! Don’t wear your hair in a ponytail! Hold your keys in your fist so as to have a makeshift stabby implement to gouge out your attacker’s eyes! Don’t park next to big vans! Don’t sleep around with a lot of boys!

Yadda yadda yadda. One of the most chilling things we can realize is that rape is every bit as common as we were told it was – if not more – but that doing all those preventative measures really doesn’t do shit. Because by telling women that as long as we follow all of those rules – ALL of them – we’ll be safe, we lull ourselves into a false sense of security. Anxious security, of course, because there’s tension between “I’m not supposed to be drinking in public” and “I’m a grown adult who should have every right to do so”, but as long as we follow all. those. rules to the letter, we’re safe. And every time we hear about somebody who was attacked, a lot of people’s first instinct is to analyze the story and see where she went wrong. Was she drinking? Was she wearing a short skirt? Did she go home with somebody she’d just met? Well, there you go! Victim-blaming helps those who aren’t victims yet get on with their lives, because as long as you can pinpoint the “rapeable” behaviors, and keep from doing them – ta-da! Of course, not coincidentally, this also feeds right into the patriarchal narrative of women being responsible for men’s sexuality and not having the right to go around living their lives without running the risk of being assaulted, but hey – as long as we can sleep at night, right?

But then you start reading a little more and realize all the cracks in the narrative. Like the fact that even though men are much more likely to be attacked by strangers or in public places than women, we’re the ones that are told to stay in the house. We’re told to “trust our instincts” and not get near a stranger that might attack us, but that ignores the fact that we’re much more likely to be assaulted by someone we know and love. We’re told to not go out alone, but that ignores that the fact that we’re much more likely to be assaulted IN OUR HOUSE, or the house of someone we know. We’re told to take self-defense classes and be assertive, but that ignores the fact that self-defense classes don’t really work to stop rape. We’re encouraged to “stand up for ourselves” and “kick him in the balls” if we’re harassed or attacked, but that ignores the fact that women are much more likely to be arrested and jailed for defending themselves, especially in cases of domestic violence. We’re told to fight back and say no, but don’t realize that perhaps the scariest kind of attack isn’t from a stranger, but from someone you care about deeply, and that you might have mixed feelings about hurting them even as they’re hurting you. Or that being frozen in fear and shock is perhaps one of the most reasonable responses to an attack, but the one most likely to be used to justify your rape. We’re never told that rapists on college campus were found to be under the influence of alcohol 75% of the time – more often than the victims were – because that doesn’t fit in with the whole “LADIEZ DON’T DRINK BECAUSE THEN YOU MIGHT GET YOURSELVES RAPED!1!” story.

It’s a sobering reality to have to come to terms with, and it takes a long time. Realizing that you’re more vulnerable than you had thought you were – and in ways you had previously assumed you were safe – is a terrifying thought. But wait! In the neverending funfest that is the patriarchy, there’s always more!

Because then you read a little more, and you know what you realize? Not only are you much more likely to get attacked than you had thought you were – if someone does hurt you? No one cares. Oh, people act like they care, and they use the word “rape” for any bad thing that happens because it’s so universally acknowledged to be a Bad Thing, and people say women can “cry rape” and supposedly get all these instantaneous results and justice, even if it’s a false allegation (which as we all know are even more traumatic than sexual assault!). But really? It’s a crock of shit. You know what happens to you when you get raped, after the actual assault is over?

Your university doesn’t take the crime seriously, and when you sue them for it, they say this (emphasis mine):

Pacific spokesman Richard Rojo said Thursday that the school does not consider the incident to be a rape.

“We would call it date rape,” he said.

Rojo said the university considers “outright rape” and date rape to be different, in that date rape does not involve “a rapist jumping out of bushes and attacking people randomly.”

He said, “These are people who knew each other. … It’s a social situation and unfortunately an all-too common problem at universities.

“It doesn’t make it right. It’s a sexual assault, and that’s why the university took action in this matter.”

If your attack is picked up by media, it will almost inevitably be reported in terms of “sex”: “forced to have sex”, “had sex with”, “sex slave”, “slept with”, and practically never be reported as assault, molestation, or rape.

If you live in the United Kingdom, and decide to report your rape, there’s a good chance your complaint won’t even be recorded, let alone prosecuted. If you decide to prosecute, you won’t have a case unless there’s physical evidence (which probably won’t be processed, because police departments cut rape kit budgets all the time!). If there’s physical evidence, you’re pretty much fucked anyway, because I mean really. Weren’t you asking for it? Your name will be dragged through the mud, as the prosecution finds out if and when you had slept with people before – because sluts just can’t say no! You might not be allowed to even say the words “rape” or “sexual assault” to describe what happened to you. Your odds of getting a conviction will be incredibly low.

In fact, if you’re a prostitute raped at gunpoint? Your judge might change the charges from “rape” to “theft of services”:

The accuser testified that she initially agreed to have sex with Gindraw and a friend of his in exchange for money, but that Gindraw refused to pay her, held a gun to her head and forced her to have sex with several men, according to a transcript of an Oct. 4 court hearing.

“She consented and she didn’t get paid. … I thought it was a robbery,” Deni told the Philadelphia Daily News.

We all know that women who were wearing skimpy clothes were asking for it (even if they’re a 10-year-old girl!). But what if you were wearing jeans?

Italy’s highest court has ruled that a woman wearing jeans cannot be raped. The Supreme Court of Appeal in Rome on Wednesday overturned a rape conviction, saying that the supposed victim must have agreed to sex because her jeans could not have been removed without her consent.

What if you did initially consent, but then didn’t want to have sex anymore?

An appellate court said Maryland’s rape law is clear — no doesn’t mean no when it follows a yes and intercourse has begun.A three-judge panel of the Court of Special Appeals Monday threw out a rape conviction saying that a trial judge in Montgomery County erred when he refused to answer the jury’s question on that very point.

The appeals court said that when the jury asked the trial judge if a woman could withdraw her consent after the start of sex, the jury should have been told she could not. The ruling said the law is not ambiguous and is a tenet of common-law.

What if you were a 10-year-old indigenous Australian girl who was gang-raped by nine men?

Despite the fact that under Australian law, a 10-year-old is too young to give informed consent, the court found there were mitigating circumstances.

“The girl involved was not forced, and she probably agreed to have sex with all of you,” Ms. Bradley said in her judgment.

I could go on (really, I have hundreds more of these in the queue), but hopefully my point is clear. When you are raped, 90% of people won’t give two shits about you, and will grasp at any and all straws they can to find a reason that what you underwent was not, in fact, rape, because then that means they don’t have to care about it.

Even if you were a 13-year-old girl who was drugged, vaginally and anally raped, while protesting the whole time. Because of course that’s the big story du jour – Roman Polanski! Big-time director! Who has made all sorts of good movies! Who has worked with many big Hollywood names, and won many awards, including an Oscar! Who has also – just by-the-by – been hiding out in France for the last 30 years because he pled guilty to raping a little girl!

It seems pretty unambiguous to me. 13 is below the age of consent, so any “sex” had with someone at that age is rape, even if it needs to be qualified with a “statutory” in front of it to make the lawyers happy. Period. And then we have the fact that she was drunk on champagne and zonked out on Quaaludes, which also means she was unable to consent, so it’s rape again. Of course, if all of that wasn’t enough, she said no! Repeatedly! And begged to go home! And was sodomized for her trouble! Newsflash: compounding reasons that an encounter was rape do not cancel each other out. It just makes it worse.

But then, of course, I’m just a Puritan American who doesn’t understand “high art”.

The festival has been “unfairly exploited” to secure Polanski’s arrest over a case that is “all but dead,” said U.S. actress Debra Winger, president of the film event’s jury.

“Despite the philistine nature of the collusion that has now occurred, we came to honor Roman Polanski as a great artist,” Winger said in a statement read to reporters.

“We hope today this latest order will be dropped,” Winger said. “It is based on a three-decade-old case that is all but dead except for a minor technicality.”

Among Polanski’s most successful films are “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968), “Chinatown” (1974), and “The Pianist” (2002).

Rape apologism hit a new low today when I found a “Free Polanski” petition signed by some of Hollywood’s best and brightest. Ever enjoy anything with or by Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson, Monica Bellucci, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Weinstein, David Lynch, Darren Aronofsky, Steven Soderbergh, Diane von Furstenberg, Pedro Almodovar, Alfonso Cuaron, Whoopi Goldberg, or Terry Gilliam (GAHH MONTY PYTHON)? Ever think anything good about the Cannes Film Festival? Well, congratulations! All of these people and/or organizations have now publicly announced their support and outrage over Polanski’s finally being arrested after 30 years of fleeing from the law.

We have learned the astonishing news of Roman Polanski’s arrest by the Swiss police on September 26th, upon arrival in Zurich (Switzerland) while on his way to a film festival where he was due to receive an award for his career in filmmaking.

His arrest follows an American arrest warrant dating from 1978 against the filmmaker, in a case of morals.

Filmmakers in France, in Europe, in the United States and around the world are dismayed by this decision. It seems inadmissible to them that an international cultural event, paying homage to one of the greatest contemporary filmmakers, is used by the police to apprehend him.

The European take on this seems to be “silly Puritan Americans with their uptightness about sex and love!” (it’s a case of morals, guys!), presumably based on the erroneous belief that the victim “consented” as best she could and that the rape was “only” statutory. Even if I were willing to concede that statutory rape is not real rape (which I am not), it wouldn’t apply here! But because Polanski has made some good films, people beg that we give him a break. As Melissa puts it:

Very few, if any, of the people who have publicly defended Polanski, or who have worked with him, make it their business to champion or associate themselves with admitted child rapists. They make an exception for Polanski for the same reason exceptions have been for other famous, artistic men – directors, writers, actors, comedians, singers, musicians, dancers, choreographers, painters, sculptors, photographers – who have been known to sexually assault women and/or children: Because geniuses get special dispensation.

Because there’s only one Roman Polanski.

So goes the breathless defense of the artiste, while the flipside of that particular coin, because thirteen-year-old girls are a dime a dozen, goes unspoken.

In the world of patriarchy, thirteen-year-old girls are a dime a dozen. We’re all expendable – young, old, attractive, ugly, boys, girls – every person that is victimized or brutalized in connection with rape culture is Not Important. Whether their reasons be more psychological self-preservation or deliberate protection of the Right To Rape, most people in the world – even some people you know – won’t give a shit about you if you’re attacked, and will do everything in their power to discredit you and make you think it was your fault, because doing otherwise would mean confronting never-questioned beliefs about society, and the realization that we’re not as safe or as blameless as we would like to think we are.

So that’s the latest in my list of “hard truths to swallow”: not only am I essentially powerless to prevent my own sexual assault (it won’t necessarily happen, but if it does, I’ll have no control over it), but if/when such an event occurs, almost no one will believe me and practically everyone will find some way to conclude that it was my own fault. After being violated once, it will most likely happen again, only this time in front of everybody I know, unless of course I choose to not tell anyone and suffer in silence, in which case it’s my fault if my attacker does it again because I didn’t do my duty as a citizen to report a crime.

And that’s what’s keeping me up at night.

P.S. Go fuck yourselves, petition signers


3 Responses to “No One Cares”

  1. Jill Says:

    Great post. Brilliant. I am so disgusted and disappointed with the apologism.

  2. Spilt Milk Says:

    This is a brilliant post, thank you. Hope you don’t mind me linking to it.

  3. boku-chan Says:

    Man, fantastic post. All I can say is that you’re so right, and you put it so succinctly: No one (in authority particularly, but generally as well) fucking cares. Once that changes, once rape/sexual assault victims are treated with the same respect and afforded the same degree of believability as other victims, maybe we’ll be able to break the cycle of rape culture.

    It seems so obvious to us feminists; why isn’t it to everyone? That’s what gets me, so often. How do other people not realize that women are humans, not your personal blow-up dolls? WTF?


    I can only hope that these signers were somehow tricked. Like the petition said “Do you like puppies and kittens?” but their signatures were used for this. Unlikely, but I can hope. 😥

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