Tag Archives: rape culture

The only meaningful difference between the cruelty and violence associated with mental illness and the cruelty and violence *expected* of sanity is the degree to which that violence is socially acceptable

Alternative title: “why most rapists aren’t any kind of ‘mentally deficient‘ and you’re a fucking asshole”

[Trigger warning: rape, victim-blaming, slurs for people with mental illness]

It’s especially ironic that the same act can be construed as a manifestation of mental illness or just a perfectly normal reaction, depending on who the perpetrator is.

Like how Charlotte King, on the TV show Private Practice, gets raped by someone whose defining characteristic is “a mentally unstable man,” and the audience is supposed to accept this as a contextless outcome of “mental instability [whatever that is even supposed to mean].” But when real, live, actual people are raped by real, live, actual rapists–most of whom would not be characterized as “mentally unstable?” Well holy shit our culture tries so hard to pathologize the victim and offer bullshit excuses for the rapist–if the victim is believed at all, in any way.

And I think what is comes down to is that “sanity” is a social construct used to (among other things) determine whether or not we’re allowed to stop an act of violence. Violence that falls outside the dominant narrative is said to be a product of insanity. Shooting Gabrielle Giffords was “insane.” Columbine was “insane.” But you’d have to be crazy to oppose the war in Afghanistan, AMIRITE? Systematically killing POC is totally fucking sane. And insanity is generally the explanation for violence if the pre-packaged excuses used to protect kyriarchal violence somehow don’t apply.

So when the creators of Private Practice wanted to discuss ~rape~, without the obligatory discussion of racism and capitalism and the prison-industrial complex and ableism and nativism and misogyny and trans*-hate and queer-hate and ageism (AND MORE), they decided that their perpetrator should be “insane,” because that is how we signal that something is insupportable. But of course, rape is supported by the dominant culture, due to all of the factors above. And our culture’s insistence upon classifying rape-as-an-contextless-abstraction is a way to obfuscate the actual cause and effect. It’s rape culture’s way of denying culpability, which makes it impossible for us to actually eradicate rape because we don’t know why it fucking happens.

And then conversely, my theory goes, this is also why certain mental illnesses (BPD comes to mind, but also schizophrenia, bipolar, and others) are met with such fear and righteous hostility. It’s this sort of symbiotic relationship between ableism and rape culture that leads us to think of rape (and abuse and even murder) as a marginal activity conducted by people who are by definition not part of society. And then when we find instances of rape or abuse or murder encouraged by or even central to society? Well obviously that’s impossible.

(cross-posted on my tumblr)



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I am Not a Slut (So I Didn’t Go to SlutWalk)

[Trigger Warning for Discussion of Rape, Rape Culture]

Or I am, who am I to argue? I have big breasts, long legs, and the occasional short skirt. Men twice my age whistle and blow kisses as they drive by.  The first time I was ever raped, I was 8. And then when I was 16–several times over. The day before it happened (again), my rapist told me that I was “such a slut,” and it took me a while to realize that this was abnormal, because slut is a thing that my parents, my teachers, and the girls I never seemed to get along with at school have all had the right to call me since the 6th grade.

It has very little to do with my personhood and a whole lot to do with victimization.

And, don’t get me wrong, I can’t possibly bring myself to give a shit about whether or not you consider yourself a slut. But I can tell you that I am no less of a survivor for wanting to keep my distance from such a term. Because slut is something that I internalized in a way that I could never internalize “stupid,” or “cunt,” or “dyke.” It didn’t mean anything to me, except that I was irredeemably available for sexual violence. “Slut,” to me, will always be a rape threat.

This doesn’t mean people will stop calling me that. I’ve learned pretty quickly that one of my litmus tests, now, has to be “will you invoke childhood trauma by calling me a slut? Does your love of shock value outweigh your distaste for making me feel unsafe? Are  you aware that words mean things?” Lots of people fail. Including Jaclyn Friedman.

And nobody is talking about it. Friedman addressed a group of survivors with “well hello you beautiful sluts!” but all of us who would have felt threatened already knew not to be there that day (fittingly, if I wanted to be called a slut, I could just hang around at home). It’s frustrating, and a little exclusionary. I mean, maybe if every Saturday a group of survivors got together and demanded an end to rape culture, I could be okay with SlutWalk. I wouldn’t go. But I would be okay with it. But the fact that I apparently have to “reclaim” a word that I’ve been fighting my whole life to escape if I want to be part of the one response to a dipshit rape apologist who is furthering oppression that I–and every rape survivor too triggered for SlutWalk–suffer from is inexcusable. Demanding that we call ourselves sluts or just shut the fuck up is what rape culture looks like.

Because I was too powerless when slut was first applied. It doesn’t refer to anything I’m proud of: it’s not my sexual orientation (dyke), my genitals (cunt), or my autism (stupid). It’s my vulnerability and status as a rapeable member of society. There is nothing to “take back,” for me. Keep it.

(ETA: This post has been getting a lot of hits, and in maybe an overly-cynical move, I would like to request that negative/dissenting comments be directed at this thread, because they won’t be approved here).


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Rape Jokes are Boorish and Triggering, But Here’s Why I Hate Them:

Rape is an expression of the status quo. It embodies the violent, dehumanizing rape culture that endangers everyone but acts, specifically, as a tool of oppression. And, circularly enough, rape culture supports rape.

This puts rape-as-a-prevalent-cultural-phenomenon in a pretty fucking precarious position. Because combating rape culture prevents rape, which thereby cuts back on the support for rape culture, in turn preventing more rapes–all due to the circular construction of oppression.

Meanwhile, a joke/funny anecdote/comedic sketch, for the most part, can be boiled down to a basic, unsubstantiated sentiment.

  • I hate a dead mathematician named Kurt Godel.
  • Tumblr makes you like people you don’t know; facebook makes you hate people you’ve already met.
  • Women belong in the kitchen.
  • Kristen Wiig is really excited about working at target (TELL ME YOU’VE SEEN THOSE SKETCHES).

The sentiment is either funny because it’s “ridiculous,” or funny because it’s “true.”

So it stands to reason that when you make a joke that isn’t just “about rape” in general, but is coming from your personal acceptance of rape culture, you are implying —assuring yourself, even–that the premise of rape culture is true. Which makes you a rape-apologist and total douchebag.

And, moreover, jokes like that aren’t just a strident expression of rape culture; their practical purpose is to relieve everyone present of the responsibility to challenge rape culture. People are raped. Every day. As a systematic expression of hatred.

It’s funny cuz it’s true.

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