Nice girls don’t write about rape. Too violent, too controversial, too…icky. Yes, rape is controversial, hard as that may be to believe.
Still, two stories I read today in short order helped me get my anger back. One was from the den of iniquity usually referred to as “the British Media” about a publication that joked to young men that they might as well take their chances because 85% of rapes go unreported (they went on to call those who were offended ‘dykes’, natch). The second was from a college near to my heart and home, at which a student comedy show was criticized for a sketch making light of rape. The first offense is clearly worse than the second, but they highlighted an alarming pattern.
“We joke about everything else” you might be thinking, “why can’t we joke about rape?” Because when we joke about murder or other forms of violence very few of us truly feel the threat of that violence. But women live under the threat of objectification at best and sexual violence at worst every day, and I’d wager most of us feel it.
Our culture tells men to pursue getting off at any cost, and tells women to shut up and take it if they want anyone to pay attention to them. To use an appropriately vulgar metaphor, we’re all screwed.
God willing, most of us will not be raped in our lifetimes (although looking at the statistics, that depends on what your definition of “most” is). But I have yet to meet a woman who doesn’t know that feeling: When you have gone from a real person to an object of base, physical gratification. It can happen with a look, a gesture, a catcall, or an act. All of the things we have worked for, all of our accomplishments and hopes and dreams, all of the people we love and who love us cease to exist. Like a dirty picture or inflatable doll, we are something to be used to get off. We are something to have power over.
Even in the safest of environments, women live with a reality of physical vulnerability which can be terrifying if contemplated. As the world becomes more aggressive and as more males use violent pornography as their main form of sex ed (and for those of you uninitiated it is all violent, it all teaches men to get off on degrading women. ALL OF IT) the more likely we all are to be degraded.
Sometimes I envy the women who buy in, the ones who say “if my power is in being f*ckable, then dammit I’ll take the power”. I want something to make me feel powerful. I want something to distract me from this terrible world where male sexual aggression is lionized and even institutionalized. I want something that gives me ownership over my situation, that lets me have control. Because no amount of advanced degrees or impressive job titles or even loving family and friends can protect me from that feeling.
Nice girls don’t write about rape. But when we don’t write about it we let those who don’t care about propriety set the terms. I’m done with that. Sexual violence is not a joke, objectification should not be the status quo and I refuse to be complicit anymore with those who pray to the god of getting off.