Who hears you, when you speak about rape?

**Trigger warning for discussion of rape and rape apologism. Please note also that the comments may be triggering.

Here’s the thing.

Julian Assange. Rape charges. Rape apologism. Rape jokes. Rape myths.

A lot of people have written many interesting things about this so I’ll direct you to some of those. (edit: here is another particularly good piece). I’m not going to be so coherent.

I only want to say this: whatever you say about a rape, any rape (or alleged rape, let’s be clear, because I am well aware that Assange may be innocent — or fictional rape, for argument’s sake, because whether the rape actually occurred or not is not relevant to this point) can be heard by others. It can be heard by others who have been raped, or who will one day be raped, or who may have raped someone, or may rape someone one day. And you, when you are speaking or writing or tweeting or commenting on Facebook or blogging or muttering under your damn breath on the train, need to take responsibility for that.

Here’s why.

  • Say you’re watching the news, and the story of Assange’s arrest comes on, and you say to your spouse, or the cat, I don’t care who, pffft, what a CIA conspiracy, there’s no way he’d ever rape anyone and your thirteen year old daughter hears you. What does she learn?
  • Say you’re at the pub, and you say to your colleague, those women just felt pissy when they found out he’d slept with both of them. That’s not called rape, it’s called regret and the woman serving you your beer was raped two weeks ago but has been too afraid to report it because her friend reported a rape once and wasn’t believed by the police. How does she feel?
  • Say you’re at the same pub, and one of your colleagues says yeah, and one of them was asleep apparently. Who hasn’t done that after a drunk night out hahahaha and you laugh, because it seems funny after the beer, and you like that guy. That guy, the one that you like, has actually raped an unconscious woman and now thinks you’re all a-okay with that, because it’s just what blokes do, and you laughed. What does he learn?
  • Say you’re at a family barbecue and someone mentions that one of Assange’s accusers was a feminist who wrote about taking revenge on men, and you say yeah, rape is terrible but so is being wrongly accused. So many women just cry rape to get the attention, it’s disgusting and your mother-in-law leaves the room because she was raped many years ago by a trusted family friend and nobody believed her, but you don’t know that story, because you never asked. How does your mother-in-law feel, how does she feel about you being the parent of her grandchildren?
  • Say you’re on Facebook and someone posts a joke about the blonde, tight-clothes wearing Swedish women Assange is alleged to have assaulted and you hit Like on it because it’s funny, you know?, and then one of your male friends unfriends you the same day and you never notice the coincidence, because you don’t know that he was sexually abused as a child, and now he will never tell you because you think rape is funny and you can’t possibly conceive of his pain, you can’t even touch it, you don’t even know it exists because to you it’s a punchline or it happens to women, only women or maybe in prison, and only when it’s deserved. How does that feel?
  • Say you’re on Twitter, and you are enraged, and you retweet some posts that muck-rake about Assange’s accusers and their sexual histories or their clothing or their feminist leanings. You’re probably being unfair to those women but you don’t care, you don’t have to care, this is Assange, this is WikiLeaks, this is important. You don’t know that many of your Twitter followers have been raped and have been through various traumatic experiences from dealing with police and legal process and maybe even the media and how do they feel that this is being dragged up again in their Twitter feed? How do they feel, that you don’t even care about them (and you don’t care, because the only way you could possibly fail to know that a shockingly high percentage of women have been sexually assaulted, even women you know, would be if you didn’t care).

It doesn’t matter (not here — quite obviously it matters in other ways) whether or not Assange is guilty of rape or molestation or anything else. It doesn’t matter a jot, because your daughter your colleague your friend your relatives your social media buddies and the woman who works at the pub and every person you open your mouth in the prescence of has already learned something about rape and rape myths and about you.

What you say about rape — any rape, alleged or fictional or otherwise — matters. What you say, what I say, what journalists say, what your hairdresser says, what teachers say, what doctors say, what police say, what Julian Assange says, what your kid repeats at school: all of these utterances contribute to our cultural understanding of rape. And when what we hear time and time again is some version of apologism or some perpetuation of a rape myth like sluts can’t be raped or women always cry rape or nice men aren’t rapists then all we do is make the noise of rape culture louder and the voices of victims and survivors ever more silent.

You have a choice, when you speak about rape, any rape.

You can make victims and survivors hurt more. You can take justice further out of reach. You can encourage the disrespect and objectification of women. You can further silence marginalised victims, like children (and sex-workers and prisoners and trans* people for that matter) and make it ever harder for those who can face the greatest resistance to telling their stories, like male victims, or those raped by celebrities and ‘heroes’.

Or, you can not.

Think about it.

~~

*Here is a list of crisis support lines for people within Australia who may need to talk to someone about rape or sexual assault.

* Here is a list of international resources for those outside of Australia.

179 Comments

Filed under Feminism

179 responses to “Who hears you, when you speak about rape?

  1. When you make a rape joke, laugh at a rape joke, make apologies for rape. It lets people who have been raped know that you are not safe, that you are not on their side. It lets rapists know that you are.
    Don’t want to be on the rapists side? Easy. Take rape seriously, don’t joke about it and don’t apologise for it.

  2. By far the best piece I have read on the issue of Julian Assange and rape accusations- (and a great piece on how we can unintentionally or thoughtlessly contribute to ‘rape culture’ in general)- thank you! xx

  3. Rhiannon Saxon

    Well said. I have been repeating (ad nauseam) on various FB posts about ‘trumped up charges’ etc, that the WOMEN involved also are innocent until proven guilty.
    Sure they *might* be false accusations – but WE don’t know that.

    • Liz

      Wow. That is an argument I have never heard before in discussions like this, and a very effective one. I think I will be using that if I have the chance.

      Thank you, Rhiannon, and thank you, Spilt Milk, for doing what you can to make the issue more visible.

    • Brilliant argument that appears too rarely. Kudos!

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  5. Sam

    I’m all for not joking about rape. I’m all for supporting those who have been raped or assaulted. However, what if the women are lying? No, to some degree, this is not the point you are making. However, I don’t think that being objective about the situations that occur is wrong.
    I know a woman who tried to call rape because the man she slept with was with one of our friends. She didn’t want to admit that she’d made a mistake and hurt her friend so she tried to claim that he took advantage of her when she was drunk.
    I know another girl who got pregnant in high school and was so scared of telling her parents that she, not only wasn’t a virgin, but was also pregnant that she debated telling them that her boyfriend date raped her and she was afraid to report it.
    Lying about rape is no better than joking about rape. In fact, it could be worse because it could potentially destroy a man’s life.
    Now I’m not saying that this particular case is that kind of situation (honestly I have no idea I haven’t read this particular case). In fact, it’s best not to gossip about rape cases at all, let alone joke about it. I’d just say that lying happens and gives men a bad reputation.
    (Yes, both stories are true. I know the first one was lying because she told me the truth then lied to our friend. The second one ended up fessing up to her parents with the truth.)

    • Sam, whether or not the women are lying is not relevant to the point of my post. Making false rape accusations is wrong, but that is not what my post is about. How one responds to a rape story (on the news or shared by a friend) must still be responsible & sensitive, regardless of what the facts may turn out to be.

    • This is an article about victims of rape. This is an article about who hears you when you speak about rape. This is an article about how people perceive your words about rape.

      This isn’t about victims of false accusations. Please do not minimize the serious topic of rape by throwing in something not relevant to the discussion. You’re trying to drown out the subject of rape and how people talk about it socially and what the implications are.

  6. Iggy Crash

    I see the point you’re trying to make and I agree with most of it BUT I don’t think there is anything wrong with speculating about whether or not someone is guilty and also reminding people that false accusations are damaging and wrong too. There is a pervading culture of just assuming the abuser is guilty in our society and it makes me wonder how many people have been wrongly punished because no one wanted to speak out and say they think the acusser is lying. Theses cases rarely involve physical evidence and are dependant on one persons word against another and so someone casting doubt on an allengation can make a big difference.

    In the case of Assange I won’t comment, I don’t personally know anyone involved.

    • I’m really not sure that you do see the point that I am making, Iggy Crash.
      You have engaged in the promotion of a rape myth, right there. Yes, there are some cases where people falsely accuse others of sexual assault (and that is a terrible thing to do) but those cases are extremely rare, relatively speaking, (and the incidence of unreported rapes and sexual assaults so very high) that it is actually, to be frank, an inappropriate argument to raise. Especially on this post, in this thread. Do I care for the people who face recriminations after wrongful accusations? Sure. There are a few of those. I wouldn’t like to see anyone, Assange definitely included, suffer from being wrongfully accused. But there are countless, COUNTLESS, victims of rape who will never be heard and I care about them, too, and this post is about them. Okay? And cases where no one at all wants to say the accuser is lying because they are afraid to protect the accused? Care to list those for me? I suspect it’s a rather short list.

      “And when what we hear time and time again is some version of apologism or some perpetuation of a rape myth like … women always cry rape … then all we do is make the noise of rape culture louder and the voices of victims and survivors ever more silent.” See what I wrote there? Read it again, please.

      I want you to know that I’ve published this comment because I think it serves to illustrate my point and also I don’t want to be too-heavy handed with the delete button unless I have to be, but I also want to make it very clear that I will not be publishing any further comments from you or anyone else which engage in perpetuating rape myths or which may cause pain to survivors.

    • Jim

      Wow. Iggy Crash seems to have left a civil, thoughtful comment (with which many people will very reasonably disagree), and Spilt Milk has shouted him/her down as a rape apologist and declared intent to censor his/her future posts and any others which similarly veer from Spilt Milk’s own viewpoint.

      I enjoyed the original blog post, and am very disappointed to see that this is how you think a fruitful discussion ought to be moderated. Re-read Iggy Crash’s post. I think your response to it is all out of proportion with the comments there.

    • I won’t host unchecked rape apologism here. There are plenty of other places for that kind of speculation or to air those views. As for a ‘fruitful discussion’ — this is not a thread to discuss the specific aspects of the accusations against Assange, so nothing ‘fruitful’ is lost by keeping the discussion to one about rape culture, rape apologism, and how to avoid unwittingly perpetuating rape myths. ‘Fruitful’ discussion about Assange can be found elsewhere. This is a personal blog, not a news site or a large political blog: I have, and will, moderate it as I see fit.

  7. Iggy Crash

    Also, this might sound nasty, but I’m not responsible for other people emotions, only my own. People need to learn to be responsible for their emotions, people are always going to say things that other people find offensive, it’s just a part of life and everyone has a right to say what they think.

    • You have a right to say what you think and so do I: I think right now, you sound like a total arsehat. It costs you nothing to be mindful of the pain of rape victims. What kind of person doesn’t want to do that?

    • How about being responsible for what you say? It’s not just good manners, it’s mature, it’s respectable, it’s how people get along in the world. How can you be so irresponsible as to shrug things off like that? That’s so socially backwards, goes against what most human beings are taught, in so many cultures. To own your words and be responsible for them and understand the effects of your words. Why, that is exactly what this article is about. Maybe you need to read it again?

    • You’re not responsible for other people’s emotions? You are responsible for how you treat other people. You can shit on them like you’re doing here, or you can listen to them, and treat people with a little respect.

      And please, stop pulling this “free speech” shit. Everyone has a right to say what they think, yes, but that doesn’t make it right to say it. Sometimes, it’s best just to keep your damned mouth shut.

      Quite apart from the incessant rape-apologism, I get so tired of all this “free speech” rubbish people spout – especially when they really don’t understand it. Especially when they apply it to places like blogs or private homes. You come to my home and talk like that, you will leave and never return. This is Spilt Milk’s place. The rules were made clear. You chose to enter knowing those rules.

    • No one is responsible for their emotions. We are responsible for our actions. You are refusing to take responsibility for yours and saying “if I am offending you get over it.” Yes, it does sound nasty, considering where you are choosing to say it.

  8. Fortunately women (and men) are finally speaking out on this issue. It really annoys me for day to the agility in with which people joke about rape in relation to Assange and dismiss the case as a conspiracy, or as a pretext and not too serious a matter. Finally I am not the only one on the internet and especially twitter that have been fighting against this shameful attitude of man AND WOMAN (like Naomi Klein and many others).

  9. What a powerful piece of writing.
    Thank you for highlighting the most important issue amongst this wikileaks media frenzy.
    How we all respond to rape stories is something we all need to be aware of regardless of our viewpoint.

    • Matt22

      It is a very important issue that Spilt Milk brings to light, however it is not the most important issue amongst the WikiLeaks saga.

    • Well, that’s subjective. Rape survivors tired of being triggered by all the apologism flying around may or may not disagree with you.
      I also think this has very little to do with WikiLeaks. We know about the rape accusations because Assange is high-profile, and he’s in custody, it can be argued, largely because law enforcement was politically motivated to pursue him. Most people accused of rape never see the inside of a courtroom and certainly not a cell. But the point I have made in my post is relevant to discussions of any rape, and there are frequently rape or sexual assault cases involving high-profile people in the news.

  10. Jenny

    Outstanding. There should be a link to this in every newspaper alongside every article reporting an alleged or proven sexual assault.

  11. Thank you for just getting it.

    @Sam: Sorry for being snippy here, but can you even get your head around the possibility that its much more commonplace that people don’t disclose sexual assault — let alone press charges — because of what you’ve just done there?

    **strong trigger warning on the remainder of this comment **

    Over twenty years ago, I was anally raped with an object by a pack of thugs who thought it would be cool to humiliate the faggot. I wiped the blood off my arse, hid (and later burned) my stained pants and kept my damn mouth shut for two decades. Because I knew I wouldn’t be believed. Because I knew the verbal and physical bullying would just get worse; and that there would be people absolutely convinced that if I wasn’t a mentally unstable and malicious liar that I must have done something to deserve it. Like actually being gay — and we all know what those people are like, right?

    And it still makes my flesh crawl every time people think they can engage in slut-shaming and rape apologist bingo around me because that’s just what manly men do, right?

    • I am so sorry that happened to you. There are no words.

    • Damn — sorry for not putting the triggering warning in there myself.

    • And, again, Spilt Milk thank you for industrial strength “just getting it”. You’re right — there’s no words for what happened to me. But I talk about it because I’ve got to a place where it’s not my fault. I didn’t deserve it. And if being ‘out’ is going to make one person think about their part in enabling and perpetuating rape culture, so be it.

    • Craig,

      I think this is probably the most moving blog comment I have read this year.

      Thank you so much for having the courage to share.

      Arohanui.

      S xx

  12. Wow. An amazingly powerful post.

    Thank you.

  13. What an excellent post. I shall share this around. I wrote an opinion piece on a similar theme when the whole Matty Johns scandal broke. http://enlighteneducation.edublogs.org/2009/05/20/making-a-stand/

    What I particularly love about your post is the way you make it so clear that regardless of the guilt or innocence in a particular case, it is our individual responses to the way rape is presented in popular culture which can be so very scarring for real victims.

    Thank you.

  14. Melissa

    Fantastic post.

  15. HAEScoach

    Having worked on a sexual assault manual (yes our culture won’t even use the word rape) for Doctors, I would be very surprised if anyone put themselves through that ‘abuse’ for something to do. I can appreciate no one wishes to falsely accuse another, but our system really is slanted on the side of the accused. The victim is subjected to not only the actual rape but afterward should they choose to report it are then subjected too invasive testing and questioning which I would imagine is neither pleasant nor helpful from a recovery perspective. It made it very clear to me why there are so many women and men who never report being raped.

    • Scum

      Isn’t it important that a manual like that does incorporate sexual assaults other than rape anyway – or did it replace the word ‘rape’ with ‘sexual assault’ throughout the text?

  16. Um. I think you accidentally wrote something really coherent here, after promising a mess :)

    Lovely, articulate post. Thanks for it.

  17. Liz

    In your response to Iggy Crash, you said, “It costs you nothing to be mindful of the pain of rape victims. What kind of person doesn’t want to do that?”

    It’s not a rhetorical question. So many people have been forced to harden their hearts to live in this culture, that allowing compassion or empathy *for strangers, particularly* is actually quite difficult. I’ve learned, through years of careful training with open-hearted teachers, to eschew sarcasm in my teaching and personal life, to *be* more open-hearted and compassionate and loving, to myself and to others, and to recognize when it is safe to be open and giving, and when I must be less-open to protect my heart, my tender self.

    It’s *easy* to be hard-hearted in Western culture where thinking is king and feeling and intuition are second-class citizens. Weakness and being injured in whatever way typically results in victim-blaming. Rape culture is one facet of this ugly, hard stone at the heart of How We Do Things.

    I don’t know how to fix it, except that I am committed to finish my teacher training, and then I will teach elementary school. One child at a time, I will try to teach love, self-reliance, empathy, honesty, and clarity of vision.

    I wish I knew a better way than to go back to the root, to the child, and to build the child up so that they never feel the need to tear someone else down. But like the bumpersticker says, “It’s easier to build a child than to fix an adult.” Adults have to choose the responsibility to fix themselves, and it is damnably difficult…

    Thank you again for your post. Reflecting on the fact of the problem is the best way to start figuring out how to fix it.

    • Thanks for your interesting perspective. I have never thought of being compassionate as something that is difficult, in a general sense, but it’s an idea I want to think more about now.

    • The problem I’ve found is that so many people who can’t find it in them to be compassionate to rape victims have great reserves to be compassionate of those who are falsely accused. It’s made harder to be compassionate of rape victims by those who are compassionate solely of the falsely accused.

    • To paraphrase someone on Twitter: When we care more about the hurt feelings of someone accused of rape than we do about the feelings of people reporting rape, that is rape culture.

  18. This is a brilliant post. Well done.

  19. Catherine

    Thank you. As a survivor it is sometimes hard to summon the courage (and the articulate language) to talk about rape. Which is why I applaud YOU for being that couragus person.
    Thanks.

  20. Darlene

    Thank you. I’m currently avoiding reading anything about this story that doesn’t come from a feminist source. And I think you’ve nailed it here: it is irrelevant what people want to speculate about the case, this is about rape culture pure and simple.

    • Matt

      It scares me that you choose to avoid reading anything about this story that does not come from a feminist source, just as much as it scares me that people seem to be dismissing Spilt Milks argument with tales of ‘false rape claims’ etc (not because I dont think thats an issue in itself, but it is not relevent to this thread). But, can you expect people to be open minded if you are not being open minded yourself?

      I apologise in advance if i have infact misinterpreted your statement. Also, i would like to say, i am not saying YOU are close minded, rather trying to say that closed mindedness from whatever angle is dangerous.

      Regards
      Matt

    • Matt — some people refuse to read material that may be triggering. This is not an example of lacking open-mindedness, it’s an example of people employing strategies for self preservation. PTSD symptoms are not fun, you know? Also, feminist writers are pretty diverse. One can be exposed to a range of takes on a single issue from different feminist writers: I don’t think that reading mainly feminist sources leads to closed mindedness. On the other hand, most mainstream media fails to present a feminist viewpoint and in that sense offers less diversity than the blogosphere.

  21. Johanna

    Every false rape claim is a slap in the face of true rape victims. Using rape claims as a weapon for revenge is the ultimate degredation of rape victims.

    • That is true. But a) false rape claims are far rarer than many people seem to think and b ) regardless of whether or not the claim is false, how one responds to it can still contribute to rape culture. It is perfectly possible to avoid perpetuating rape myths when refuting a false rape claim made against you or someone you know/love. In the case of Assange, I have seen some people very respectfully raise concerns about aspects of the case without engaging in apologism. This post is not about those people, or about the rare occurrence of false rape claims: it is about the rape myths, jokes and general arsehattery presently flying around.

    • Johanna

      “”This post is not about those people, or about the rare occurrence of false rape claims: it is about the rape myths, jokes and general arsehattery presently flying around.””

      I read the post (of course) and I wholeheartedly agree with it’s sentiment. But to cite the Assange case without referring to the possibility of a false rape claim …* is endangering the fragrant support public opinion has given rape victims in the past years. It is unjust but the fact remains that one false claim endangers the efforts of many in the fight for sexual self-determination of every child, woman and man.

      *This part of the comment has been removed as it perpetuates the rape myth that there is a right and normal way for ‘real’ victims of assault and rape to act in the hours, days and weeks following the attack. SM

    • Johanna, did you consider that false rape claims are a way of talking about rape which may also perpetuate rape myths, and therefore also be condemned by the sentiment of this post (if not explicitly within the text)?

      Also, I noted that you invoked a rape myth in your comment. Speculation about the alleged victims’ feelings after the event is not appropriate: if Assange is charged and extradited we will have to allow the courts to decide on the veracity of his alleged victims’ claims. There are ways to talk about this issue without invoking rape myths: it is perfectly reasonable to suggest that international resources were only devoted to apprehending him for political motivations, for example, without besmirching the character of the alleged victims or making statements about rape which could, if applied to other stories and other rapes (which they inevitably are, nothing is said in a vacuum), cause harm to victims.

    • Iris

      “the ultimate degradation”…? I’m not sure how to respond to that. But I support in principle that the ways in which false claims are used to scaffold doubts/scepticism and moral condemnation of rape claims is potentially damaging and certainly unjust. Surely everything that Spilt Milk is saying in this post applies to that, though? i.e that it is because of this that we need to be careful when we speak, including careful of how/when/where we invoke the spectre of false claims, a figure that is embedded in so many myths surrounding rape.

      I hear your concern and I also feel that to really consider and adjudicate false claims requires appreciating the context in which they are made. It feels to me like maybe this isn’t the place to do that thinking/talking about false/true claims though.

    • Johanna:

      I’m going to call bullshit on your reply to Spilt Milk, and here’s why. There are thousands of media reports of burglaries every day of the week without “referring to the possibility” of insurance fraud (which happens to be a multi-multi-billion dollar scam honest people pay for in increased premiums or intrusive and distressing claims investigations). It’s not denying fraud happens if we don’t dog-whistle the presumption that victims of property crimes are dirty lying scammers until proven innocent.

      And if we can extend that courtesy to someone whose privacy and personhood has been violated by a mugger or burglar, couldn’t we do as much for rape, sexual abuse and domestic violence survivors?

    • Lisa

      There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women. ~Madeleine K. Albright

      Thank you, Johanna, for not helping.

  22. Kateburns76

    Fantastic post and really interesting comments.

    I have several friends who were raped at different points in their lives. They don’t discuss it, didn’t report it and no one would know.

    Your post gave me the shivers because that must be their lives at times and I hadn’t thought of it in that way.

    Thank you,

    thank you,

    thank you

  23. Thanyou thankyou thankyou

  24. This is brilliantly done. It spells it out so well for people who are not heartless, or dismissive, or apologists, or prone to crying “PC thought police!” — but for people who just don’t see why it’s such a poor thing to joke about, don’t see the myths for what they are, but don’t always want to get into an argument. In other words, people who are nice enough to be your friends, or friends of friends, but clueless about this.

    And I think a lot of people have a tendency to ignore comments or jokes from their friends that they would argue about with a near-stranger, because it would be too disheartening to try to convince them but fail.

    I like to keep a list of articles like this, so I can say to people, “look, I want you to know that I don’t actually (think it’s funny/agree with that/etc), but I don’t really want to argue about it now either — if I send you a link to this site I like, would you read it?”

    So thanks for giving me another one for the list :)

    • Sandi

      “It spells it out so well for people who are not heartless, or dismissive, or apologists, or prone to crying “PC thought police!” — but for people who just don’t see why it’s such a poor thing to joke about.”

      Jason, that is exactly what I was thinking too. I was one of those people not so long ago. If someone told a rape joke, I didn’t blink an eye, and not because I wasn’t compassionate or a bad person, but because I genuinely didn’t realize a joke or a comment about rape would make a negative impact in any capacity, or at least not to my friends [as if I would know!]. Though I’ve since learned, this article points out even more things I never even considered, and I”ll be saving it for my own list! I would love to read the other articles that you’ve saved up for yours!

  25. It’s pretty simple to me.

    If someone says “My bicycle was stolen”, nobody says “Are you making it up for attention? Did you drink too much? What were you wearing when it was stolen? Did you tell them not to steal it?” and so on.

    Nobody makes sarcastic jokes about someone they dislike by suggesting someone should steal their bike. Nobody says “But men get their bikes stolen too!” Nobody suggests that false accusations of bike theft are undermining those who legitimately did have their bike stolen. Nobody suggests that perhaps the bike owner had regrets about buying that bike, so they’re falsely reporting theft out of shame.

    If this wasn’t the case, if people reacted the same way to bicycle theft, or any other crime in the same way that they react to rape, we could perhaps think that we didn’t live in a rape culture. But that is NOT the case, rape is treated as a joke, or the victims with suspicion, or an edgy way to make an insult.

    Excellent post, thank you.

    • Scum

      To be frank people do joke about that kind of thing but it isn’t even mildly comparable because of the levels of trauma involved. If someone you trusted joked about your rape it would be deeply disturbing whereas it wouldn’t be uncommon at all for you yourself to joke about your bike being stolen. It isn’t really a useful analogy.

    • What an authoritative person you are Scum, expert on everything it seems.

  26. Pingback: Julian Assange and Rape Allegations | The Musings of Sage Turner

  27. Absolute respect for the post, but the unapologetic use of ad hominem arguments in the comments section really, really disappointed me.

    As for the article itself:-

    My only issue with this, is there it is almost solely aimed at males (as are 99% of anti-rape/anti-SA pieces/adverts/etc) in an implicit fashion. It’s not fair to males – including myself – to be branded with the same label as the imbeciles out there who do this (and trust me when I say it, there are women who do it to).

    It also – and again, this is fairly standard – does not take into consideration that there are male survivors out there as well, and I’m sure we’ll agree, these men are marginalised enough already, by continuing the cycle, we – unintentionally – can cause further damage.

    • I assume you mean you were disappointed that I said someone sounded like an arsehat? Well, I was kinda disappointed that zie, um, brought arsehattery to my blog.

      As for not acknowledging male victims – I very clearly and specifically DID do this more than once in my piece, so I’m not sure why you’ve raised that. There are several instances in my piece where the hypothetical person perpetuating rape myths could be of any gender, which was
      consciously done.

  28. Mahsati

    Thank you for posting this. It is something that more people need to hear and understand.

  29. Aarthi

    Hey, I stumbled upon your blog when a friend linked to it, but I think you’ve said some important stuff. I know people talk about rape pretty often, but I don’t think we think as often about what the effect of how we talk about the idea of rape, even has strong consequences.

    *warning: possibly triggering or anger-inducing lines ahead*

    I’m reminded now of years ago when Kobe Bryant had been accused of raping a woman. Of course, at the time, my brother absolutely LOVED Kobe Bryant, and thus our whole family had unanimously decided, there was NO WAY that the guy my brother IDOLIZED could POSSIBLY be a rapist. It probably reflected our own discomfort with the word and the idea that we felt we had to get it as far away from our untouchable Kobe as we could. “That girl must be lying”, we’d say. Or “She was drunk at a party, she obviously wanted him, that’s not rape.” But looking back I can realize, we were wrong. First in thinking that “rapist” encompassed only the sketchy frat guy, the hooded man in the bushes, and not thinking it could include beloved basketball players too. And secondly, in being so focused on “protecting” our hero from the “hurt of accusation”, we ended up *hurting* potential victims everywhere. And oh, the things we said! We accused this poor girl of being the attacker, that she must be out to tarnish Kobe Bryant’s image. That she just wants the attention. Things that, had we thought about it, about the actual accusation and the act, we would never have said. That, I think, is the best part of your post- it incites people to think about these things that may never have occurred to them otherwise. People like me.

    • Scum

      I had a discussion about this attitude recently with a friend. It wouldn’t be unusual or even unhealthy to be incredulous and skeptical if a rape accusation were brought against a family member or close friend who you trusted, and I can’t imagine most people would extend that skepticism to a close friend or family member who claimed they had been assaulted.

      Isn’t the problem not only with our attitude to sexual assault but also our attitude to celebrities? We are presented with a well known public figure and faceless claims. Large numbers of people publicly rally around Julian Assange or Kobe Bryant in the same way you might expect family members to support someone accused of rape, and the anonymous victims are derided by these masses. When public figures of similar calibre are the accusers, they garner far more support and far less disbelief.

  30. Yes, brilliant piece of writing and thank you.

  31. lazydaze

    Interesting post, I think people should always be mindful of what we say but I dont entirely get what your point re false rape accusations are. There are false rape accusations and I dont see how speculating that an accusation could be false is in itself a bad thing to do. (unless it relies on sexist stereotypes about what she was wearing, or some such thing)

    I’d have no idea if Assange is guilty or not, but the mixed messages, the charges being dropped then reinstated, the confusion of Swedish laws and translation its hardly surprising that lots of people are looking at this with skeptical eyes.

    • Every time that the media (rightly) reports on this as an ‘alleged rape’ or similar, an acknowledgment is being made that the alleged victims (see what I did there?!) may be lying. In other words, ‘speculating that an accusation could be false’ is going on willy-nilly, in case you hadn’t noticed, and it is also, obviously, something which underpins any legal system which puts the burden of proof upon the accuser rather than the accused, as ours does. Nowhere in my post or in the comments have I said that it should never be acknowledged that Assange may be innocent.

      It is in how and why we make that acknowledgment that sexism, victim-blaming and perpetuation of rape culture may occur and that is why it is vital that we are careful and responsible with our words. It’s not that complicated, seriously.

    • I want to highlight this:

      “its hardly surprising that lots of people are looking at this with skeptical eyes.”

      I don’t know if you realise it, but attributing that scepticism to a mass of other, anonymous people is just another a way to undermine the victims’ claims, but without appearing to do so. You’re simply re-expressing “their” scepticism — thereby adding another voice to theirs — and stopping short of saying that you’re sceptical doesn’t actually cancel this out. (“I never said that I thought that, I was just saying…”)

      Sure, it’s hardly surprising that people are sceptical, but it’s unsurprising because I’m cynical, not because it’s reasonably founded scepticism. And it doesn’t magically become reasonable if it’s shared by “lots of people.”

      Charges are dropped and reinstated all the damn time. Swedish laws being different to those in ones own country does not somehow make them confusing. If they’re unclear, you’re on the internet, look them up!

    • Scum

      Spilt Milk: it’s a legal requirement to report it as an ‘alleged rape’ until there is a conviction. Same with an ‘alleged murder’, ‘alleged assault’ and ‘alleged burglary’. I’m not sure on the details – I think you can definitively report that ‘x was raped (or assaulted, or burgled)’ before a conviction but not ‘y raped (or assaulted or burgled) x’.

    • Yes, it’s a legal requirement, and one which acknowledges innocence until proof of guilt. I’m not disputing the rightness of that; I am merely pointing out that our very language surrounding these cases indicates that we are leaving open the possibility that an alleged rapist is innocent, all of the time.

  32. Pingback: A bigger – and somewhat redundant – message « Ideologically Impure

  33. lazydaze

    So your example of the bbq, is your point that one should not mention the possibility of a false accusation of rape or how that person says it?

    • I’m not Spilt Milk, but I would refer to her reply to your first comment:

      It is in how and why we make that acknowledgment that sexism, victim-blaming and perpetuation of rape culture may occur and that is why it is vital that we are careful and responsible with our words.

      Also, in her reply to a different comment:

      Yes, there are some cases where people falsely accuse others of sexual assault (and that is a terrible thing to do) but those cases are extremely rare, relatively speaking, (and the incidence of unreported rapes and sexual assaults so very high) that it is actually, to be frank, an inappropriate argument to raise.

      In the BBQ example, the person is implying that false accusations of rape are as common as/more common than actual reported rapes.

      Also, “getting attention” is the motivation attributed to women who falsely accuse people of rape in the BBQ example. In cases where false accusations of rape do occur, I doubt that the motivation is usually “to get attention”. I suspect that malice toward the accused is more common. Arguably, “getting attention” makes the women in question sound more childish/drama-queen-ish, and it’s just so… trivial a motivation… although I don’t know how mature someone is who makes a false accusation. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say that someone was making any non-rape accusation to “get attention”–this only seems to be applied to rape victims. People who burn their houses down for insurance fraud aren’t doing it to get attention, they’re doing it for the money, it’s widely assumed, even though one could fairly say that they might be doing it for the attention, since people who lose their homes generally DO get a lot of attention.

  34. Thank you for publishing this. For me, it is a clear articulation of a consequence that wasn’t front of mind. It is a good thing when one’s perspective is expanded.

    In the particular case of JA, the fog that surrounds WikiLeaks at the moment is likely to prevent us seeing the truth of the case, whatever it is. However, the worth of your article is independent of whatever the truth may happen to be.

  35. Politicalguineapig

    Liz: I really, really disagree with your idea of compassion. Being compassionate to anyone but your nearest and dearest is like begging for the world to screw you over. Women have to be vigilant, not compassionate. We got locked out of higher education and the sciences for years because we were thought to be too ‘emotional.’ Allowing emotions free range is not the answer. A woman has to keep her guard up all the time, and be prepared for even her family members to betray her.
    Final Alert: If this seems to be aimed mostly at males, you might consider that the majority of rapists happen to be.. male. And how many rape jokes have you ever heard women make, hmm?

    • I really disagree with your whole comment (in fact it made me feel sad) but I’m only going to take issue with one part.
      “We got locked out of higher education and the sciences for years because we were thought to be too ‘emotional.’ Allowing emotions free range is not the answer.”
      Firstly – offering compassion to rape survivors, which I have called for here, is not giving emotions free range. It’s using a specific emotion to make the world, hopefully, less hostile to people who could do with less hostility. But even if it were ‘free range emotion’, I don’t think your argument explains why this is bad in a feminist sense at all. If women have been locked out of higher education and the sciences for being too emotional, then where does the problem lie? With women? Or with an education system and system of Western thought which disparages emotion and claims privileged status for ‘masculine’ thought? And who suffers from this system? I don’t buy into the idea that logic–emotion have to be binary opposites and certainly not that they are necessarily gendered (or that gender fits into a neat binary to begin with). We shouldn’t reify the structural inequalities in education and sciences by playing along with the notion that emotion is feminising and weak, but rather work to smash the stupid binaries in the first place. They serve no one well. And in this case I think that is doubly true: whilst the law must be logical and dispassionate, the way that we approach each other as human beings need not be. There is not a finite amount of compassion to go around.

    • Uhhh yeah – Spilt Milk says it well. Having compassion is all about strength. In order to be compassionate generally, you have to be strong. Locking everyone out is merely a defense mechanism.

      And to say that a woman has to keep her guard up all the time is just victim-blaming. Why should the victim have to do all the work? The people who cause the pain are the ones who need to change.

  36. lazydaze

    @jason

    You’re simply re-expressing “their” scepticism — thereby adding another voice to theirs

    No, I dont have an opinion on the case, because I dont know enough about the Swedish legal system to really know all that much about it. I just dont think everyone thinks that it may be a false accusation falls so easily into the rape apologist group. I thought it was a good post otherwise.

    Swedish laws being different to those in ones own country does not somehow make them confusing. interpreting laws in our own language is tricky enough, interpreting laws in another language is certainly beyond my expertise and thats why I dont feel qualified to make an informed comment on the case. I’m assuming you’re an expert in Swedish law or you wouldnt be criticising?

    Charges are dropped and reinstated all the damn time. Does interpol usually spend such time and resources on such cases? It is an unusual case for many reasons, including the media spotlight and murmurs that the US are trying to extradite him when or if he gets taken to Sweden. And no that is not a comment on his alleged guilt, but thanks for rushing to condemn me for a view I didn’t even have.

    • “rushing to condemn me for a view I didn’t even have.”

      No, I criticised you for re-expressing why “some people” are sceptical of this one particular case, and using it as some sort of counterexample. I actually explicitly pointed out that you didn’t say whether or not you shared the opinion (of scepticism) or not.

      Those reasons you gave are not, to me, good reasons for being sceptical here or for excusing other peoples’ scepticism. I’m not surprised that people use them, but as far as I’m concerned they are flimsy justifications that hide a real prejudice. That prejudice also makes the same people come up with reasonable-sounding justifications time and time again, sometimes different, sometimes not, for any remotely controversial or celebrity-related rape or sexual assault case. When you excuse this poorly justified scepticism concealing a prejudice, you hide the prejudice.

      “I’m assuming you’re an expert in Swedish law or you wouldnt be criticising?”

      No, but you didn’t specify what, exactly, was confusing to the “lots of people”. The only confusion I’ve seen has been that arising from people not understanding the concept of consent, which does not require an intricate understanding of the laws in Sweden and how they differ to most peoples’ local laws.

  37. Spilt Milk, I just want to say that all your responses to the quibblers and the people who don’t quite get it have been perfect. Spilt Milk, kickin’ ass and takin’ names and… fostering critical thinking?

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  39. {{applause}} for this post.

    I’m sorry I can’t read through every comment here. But I’d like to add this post to the list of great articles, if no one has yet:
    http://fugitivus.wordpress.com/2009/06/26/another-post-about-rape-3/

  40. Politicalguineapig

    Spilt Milk: I was not suggesting that women shouldn’t show compassion to rape survivors. I’d be the first to go out there and fight if someone I knew was raped.
    I just think that the injudicious use of compassion and sympathy is unwise. (I.E. Going through life thinking all people are nice, making unwise loans, letting disreputable relatives stay over.) The way I think of compassion is to regard it like a very strong medicine: it needs to be administered in small doses. Throwing compassion around lavishly would be like going naked into a gunfight.
    Emotion is anti-feminist because it immediately tags the person who exhibits it as irrational. Women need to avoid being seen as irrational if they want to get anywhere in life. And yeah, it is a fairly shitty system, but that’s the world we live in. It’s best to live by the world’s rules until you can get enough power to change it.

    • Compassion and sympathy/=thinking everyone is nice or making unwise loans. Compassion and sympathy combined with naivete/a lack of wisdom might lead to these things. But compassion and sympathy are based in part on your understanding of the person, and if your understanding is flawed, your compassion will not be based on how the person actually is, but how you imagine them to be. So then you’re not having compassion for the actual person, but an idealized version of them.

      I agree with Spilt Milk that we need to get beyond the logic/emotion binary. Many people in our culture may tag anyone who expresses emotion as illogical, but that doesn’t mean it has a strong basis in reality.

  41. Rhiannon Saxon

    Spilt Milk, I want to say I agree entirely with your reply to Politicalguineapig – I understand that being hurt and damaged until you scar over and have to be vigilant to protect yourself is a fairly typical and understandable approach but I don’t think it helps anyone in the long run.
    Being compassionate means more than just being sentimental. And it can be hard. And it can expose you to more hurt. But compassion is the one trait in men and women that will make society more functional and any form of social or personal policy works better if compassion is part of the mix.

    All people have the capacity to be emotional, it has very little to do with gender – which is why a close relative suffered so much with a nervous breakdown and substance abuse after having been brought up in the ‘manly no-tears man’ mould – he could not be contained within such a rigid structure. He has had to rebuild himself and is now a better, kinder, nicer, more compassionate and loving person.
    And he doesn’t perpetuate gender stereotyping either.

  42. Tamara

    This post, and your responses to the comments have been so thought-provoking, inspirational, clear, succinct, I could go on. You are doing such important work. Thanks.

  43. Politicalguineapig

    Uh, Rhianon Saxon, I feel I should point out that I haven’t ever experienced any sort of sexual violence. I keep my guard way up to prevent that from happening. I also cultivate the fine art of cynicism to keep from being surprised when sh*t happens, as it is wont to do. I did, however, learn fairly early on that people and emotions aren’t to be trusted and I’ve learned it well. Just so we’re all on the same page here.

    • I’m sure you didn’t mean to infer this, but please remember that there is no way that anyone can ‘prevent that from happening’ when it comes to sexual assault and rape. Keeping up a guard may assist in some some circumstances for some people but there are no guarantees. It is also very dangerous to imply that someone who doesn’t ‘keep up a guard’ is therefore somehow at fault for being assaulted because there was something zie could have done to prevent it.

    • You keep your guard up so ud never be raped? I’m shocked by this utter bullshit and totally disheartened.

  44. An absolutely marvellous post. Well done for delineating so clearly the consequences these terrible comments can have. The women in the Assange case have been so thoroughly demonised and belittled that it’s no wonder one of them is considering withdrawing from the case.

    People spend a lot of bandwidth screaming about how Assange is entitled to the presumption of innocence. He is, of course – but that same presumption is simply not extended to the women. They are assumed to be lying – either because they are disgruntled exes, or because they’re in league with shadowy government conspirators. That’s what frightens me most – the idea that people won’t even consider the possibility that the accusations deserve a fair hearing.

    I wrote my own article on this, which was published by ABC Unleashed. Most of the comments it attracted either assumed the women were ‘really’ trying to bring down Wikileaks, or man-hating ‘feminists’ who didn’t like being dumped. The language is unbelievable, misogynistic bordering on violent – and it extended to me as the writer of the piece.

  45. Fantastic post, thanks for writing it.

  46. Amy

    Thank you for this post. As a survivor, I thank you. As someone who tries to give other survivors hope, thank you. As someone currently peeved about the number of people who are ignorant about human trafficking–in America and around the world–thank you.

  47. mschicklet

    SpiltMilk, I just want to thank you for your post, and for your replies to the other comments. It’s way too hard to find true allies to victims, and I feel safe at this blog. Thank you.

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  49. Politicalguineapig

    Spilt Milk: I’m aware of that. I did say that just because my strategy has worked so far, does not mean it will work in the future. I would like to be able to relax and actually trust a man, but statistics are pretty clear on how unwise that is. So, until guys wise up, I’ll still be giving them the side eye when I pass them on my errands.

  50. Pingback: On Julian Assange and the seemingly impossible task of holding two beliefs at the same time » Deficio Mens

  51. PrimaFacie

    I disagree. As someone who has been raped, I feel you should be able to joke about absolutely anything, rape included. If you can’t laugh at even the most fucked up things that have happened to you, then you have nothing. I feel this post basically takes people who talk about rape in a way that does not coddle victims of rape and turns them into rapists simply for not being sensitive enough.

    Everything is a reminder of something, good or bad, and censoring your thoughts only provides a platform for victims to shift blame, and ultimately, it leaves victims more helpless than before. See, you make a choice. Believe it or not, the way you feel toward certain things involve a lot of choosing on your part. If you were raped, and you choose to let rape jokes hurt you, well then you are choosing to be a victim. If you were raped and you see rape jokes for what they are and choose not to let others’ view of rape define you, define your experience with rape, define anything about you, well then I think you’re just a little stronger and a little more capable.

    Rape is a bad thing, a serious thing, a thing which will always shape some part of you, but only as far as you will let it. The day I stopped victimizing myself is the day I stopped being a victim. YOU CAN overcome the trauma. YOU CAN shirk the stigmas. YOU CAN lead a very normal, happy life. YOU CAN if you stop trying to control the people around you as a way to make up for the lack of control you feel over your own life.

    • I am sorry that you were raped. Please remember that your experience is not universal. You may find rape jokes perfectly harmless; other rape survivors may find them triggering or otherwise upsetting. I strongly object to your suggestion that this post “turns people into rapists” – that is absurd and a false characterisation of my post. Only raping someone makes you a rapist. We do, however, have a responsibility to tackle the pervasive cultural messages about rape which make it easier for people to rape and harder for victims to get justice. I believe that all of us carry that responsibility as human beings, especially those of us who are progressive activists.

      I’m not talking about victims ‘victimizing themselves’ here. It is insensitive to imply that rape is a similar experience for everyone and that everyone has the same tools to ‘overcome the trauma’ in the way that you have, so please don’t comment along those lines again. (I am somewhat sympathetic to your ‘choice’ argument but it’s not something that can or should be applied to everyone and it is not your, or anyone else’s, job to tell other survivors how they should respond when confronted with reminders of their trauma.) In any case, you’re missing the most important point I’ve attempted to make in this post which is that rape myths (not only rape jokes) perpetuate rape culture. I’m asking people to avoid unwittingly spreading ideas which make life harder for rape victims (the more people who believe that false rape accusations are rife in everyday life, for example, the fewer people who will believe a rape victim who is telling the truth) and which normalise rape in a way that makes it easier for people to commit it. Only a tiny percentage of rapes ever result in someone serving prison time for them: that is what we risk perpetuating when we don’t take care not to endorse rape culture.

      And on the subject of ‘jokes’ — if you enjoy or are not bothered by rape jokes that is your perogative but as I said in a comment above, it costs nothing to be sensitive to those who do find them distressing. Asserting one’s ‘right’ to engage in whatever speech one likes as if it trumps the need of those with PTSD to avoid being triggered doesn’t get far here.

    • B

      I find it quite hurtful that you would label rape survivors who don’t find rape jokes funny ‘victims’. I am so sorry that you were raped. I was too. But please understand that everyone’s reaction to rape is different and it’s not OK for you to label people with hurtful names because they didn’t react the same way you did.

      I consider myself a survivor. I’ve worked my ass off to get ‘better’ and move on from my rape. But I still find it hurtful and triggering when people make rape jokes or minimise rape or dehumanise rape survivors. That does not make me a ‘victim’ that does not mean I haven’t tried hard enough to move on from my rape.

      I am leading a happy, healthy life – Do not judge me just because I don’t laugh at rape.

    • Oh, twaddle. Some people of colour are perfectly comfortable about being referred to as “niggers” in certain contexts; I’m not under any circumstance, because IMO it is a vile, racist and utter irredeemable term of hate. And since I don’t actually want to gratuitously offended or demean any PoC, I don’t drop the n-word or other demeaning and racist terms into general conversation. As Spilt Milk has said repeatedly, how much does it cost anyone to just be a little sensitive and thoughtful before they open their mouths?

  52. Mitchell

    Rape is awful and atrocious, absolutely. but en masse noncritical reading is worse; sorry. rape has become the minor setting in an international story that demands attention and critical discussion. i’m afraid that demands rape become part of this discourse, and we cannot control the myriad of reactions people will have to that. furthermore, demanding a universal response of sympathy, restraint, and sensitivity to something as awful as rape is certainly positive and hopeful, but is not reasonable. your pointed scenarios of “what if” is an, excuse me, juvenile exploration of something that could have been articulated better. but bottom line: people are allowed to scoff at the timing between the wikileaks scandal and the rape allegations as being rather sinister, even if a billion stars aligned to allow the scenarios you’ve painted. that doesn’t make them insensitive to rape or victims. much like my sister, a victim herself, scoffed and held the alleged victims in contempt, but cannot be called insensitive to rape or sexual assault. who hears me speak about rape? someone who will bring their own opinions and attitudes on the matter with them. i’m no more responsible for what i say about rape than anything else, who knows who i might offend?

    • Thanks for your frank assessment of my lack of writing skill: wasn’t really necessary, though.
      I’m getting a lot of hostility from your comment that I feel is misplaced.

      “but bottom line: people are allowed to scoff at the timing between the wikileaks scandal and the rape allegations as being rather sinister”

      I agree, although I would use different language. I support WikiLeaks and I support the right of Assange to face legal process with legal protections just like any other citizen — not trial by media, or calls for his assassination. Nowhere in this piece or in the comments have I said either that Assange is clearly guilty (we obviously do not know, either way) nor have I said that we cannot apply critical thinking. It is perfectly reasonable to assert that international resources are only devoted to this because of who Assange is (most rape allegations don’t see Interpol involved!) without engaging in rape apologism or perpetuating rape myths. It is also perfectly possible to support WikiLeaks and the work that Assange has done whilst simultaneously believing that he may have raped two women.

    • Mitchell

      no hostility intended whatsoever. i even asked your excuse when i suggested your scenarios were juvenile. that’s not really hostile, and i’m sure you’ve a thicker skin. don’t play victim; you invite comments. the scenarios are meant to be poetic, i get that, but you lose your message, i think. if that’s not two writers talking shop, well, maybe it’s just one writer who dislikes criticism? maybe it’s me!
      he may have raped two women? he may have not. let’s agree to presume innocent as per the legal process and protections you mention.
      all i’m saying is, who hears you when you speak about jurisprudence? who hears you when you speak about anything? one should always execute caution and sensitivity in all speech. no duh.
      i’m the one calling for critical reading. and in my opinion you’re calling that critical reading (questioning allegations) “rape apologism.” as what might be called an enlightened and post-post-modern male, i take offence to that. you can’t invite a dialogue on issue of rape and then call your detractors apologists. that will do nothing for the conversation.
      anyway, good blog. keep writing.

    • Oh don’t worry, my skin is plenty thick. I was just noting your rudeness.
      I also do invite comments, from people who abide by the comment policy, although I always reserve the write to delete, edit, or critique the comments I receive.

    • Wow, for someone who claims to disdain “en masse noncritical reading”, Mitchell, you really need a refresher course in the rhetoric of male privilege. Pretty bad form coming onto a feminist blog and scolding the little women for not talking the “real issues”, as determined by your good self.

      Build a bridge, darling, and get all the way over yourself.

    • Mitchell

      now that, Craig, is hostility!
      thanks for your thoughts! if mine are not welcome, i’ll gladly take them elsewhere. sorry about the offence; i thought it discussion, not scolding. you might consider your response to someone with conflicting opinions should you ever find this discussion a little one-sided. happy holidays!
      “how much does it cost anyone to just be a little sensitive and thoughtful before they open their mouths?”

    • Mitchell, Craig is quite right: you’ve come onto a feminist blog, for what? To tell rape survivors that your agenda (and your need to express it in a certain way) is more important than either protecting them or attempting to dismantle rape culture which hurts all of us? I think you’ve said your piece now. So, um, happy holidays.

    • “Rape is awful and atrocious, absolutely. but en masse noncritical reading is worse; sorry.”
      I forgot to address this particular gem in my initial reply, mainly because I was still trying to get my chin off the floor. How dare you come to my blog and tell rape survivors that what happened to them is nothing compared with some folks failing to engage critical thinking skills. How incredibly insulting.

    • Mitchell, if you’re not responsible for what you say about rape, who is?

      Treading heavily on someone’s foot will hurt them. If you do so with no way of knowing you were about to do so, by just walking along when they were hidden standing there, then you can’t be called responsible. If you know their foot is there – or know there’s a good chance it may be – then you ARE responsible for failing (or refusing) to avoid causing that hurt.

      Same with cavalier use of language.

  53. This is fantastic. I am very glad you wrote it.

  54. Thank-you so much for this.

  55. Pingback: On people’s need to discredit Julian Assange’s survivors. «

  56. Thank you for writing this! An aquaintance of mine used to amuse himself by adding rape into every day sentances and thought he was the funniest thing ever. I often called him on it and he never quite got it. The final straw was when he updated his facebook status with “Good things come to those who rape”. I was enraged. I ended up emailing him and telling him that me and him both had a mutual friend who had been raped and who was still working through the effects of it. I think he finally got it because he deleted the status and apologised. Frustrating though – it would seem obvious that such a status was not appropriate at all and totally triggering. Sigh.

  57. @SpiltMilk, here is the link to my article on the subject.

    http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/42024.html

    ** Some comments may be triggering. I stopped reading them after the level of anger got too much to handle.

    • Rhiannon Saxon

      Me too – I tried leaving a comment (the first one actually) saying that I was so pleased to rad an article that didn’t descend into hysteria (either way) or ridiculous purple prose but the ABC didn’t see fit to let the comment through…for some reason. I suspect bugginess rather than a conspiracy!
      But the comments are largely angry, insulting and difficult to read so I stopped. Fabulous article though!

  58. bumerry

    Politicalguneiapig, I learned not to trust, not to feel from my childhood too. Thing is, most people are indeed trustworthy. In my experience as a social worker, I’d say about ten percent of people are evil. You’re right – we can’t do much about them or trust them, but they are typically easy to identify if you know what to look for.

    Forgive me if I’m projecting here but….
    Denying yourself emotions, trust, compassion, generosity of spirit, the ability to forgive (or decide that you just can’t forgive someone and turning it the hell over to the universe to absorb) – doing that to yourself only lets the people who hurt and abused and damaged you WIN. We survivors have the power to stop the generational cycle of abuse by not abusing OURSELVES.

    And we as survivors of non-sexual abuse can fight rape culture and support our fellow survivors by calling out those who engage in rape apology and rape humor. Much like love, compassion is revealed in our actions. Fondness and affection, empathy and sympathy are emotions, and they are noble emotions, but love (of the agape variety) and compassion aren’t dependent on feeling them toward every single person.

  59. Gosh you’re a talented writer. Such a thought-provoking post. A relief from some of the ardent feminist hatred i’ve read on Assange. I agree with you. Whether he is guilty or innocent isn’t important in the general discussion about rape. We do need to be careful about what we write and say. I do, however, have to say some of the dialogue on Assange has ired me. Innocent until proven guilty? I prefer not to speak about the specific case until we have some more of the facts. Until then it is just unnecessary speculation.

    M2M

  60. Christiaan

    Thanks for your piece Elizabeth. Really timely and insightful.

    *Link redacted: I won’t be hosting a spillover shit-fight here. SM

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  62. Mandy

    My dad was a foster parent, is a well liked, affable bloke, bit henpecked but enjoys a laugh and is, on the face of it, a likeable family man.

    He also sexually abused me as a child. When I disclosed to my mother, she turned on me. I was evil, I was a liar, he would never do that, he loves his family and is a great dad. By that time it had been a few years since he last touched me, so I had no physical evidence, and I had nobody to support me. The silence is deafening, and continues to be, despite me being 38 now. I have come to terms with things in my own way, but I have nothing to do with my parents because I mentally can’t cope with them and I am protecting my children by keeping them away.

    This is what happens when everyone thinks ‘ohhhh he couldn’t be a paedophile!’

  63. Pingback: Words, words, words, art. » Blog Archive » Geek Culture and Inclusivity

  64. I have so much love for this post.

    ***TRIGGER WARNINGS FOR APOLOGIST LANGUAGE***

    Recently, I posted a facebook status telling people to stop claiming to have been ‘face-raped’ when they leave their accounts logged in, or saying they got ‘raped on COD’. This ended up with, naturally, delightful comments from people telling me ‘u dnt no wht ur talkin bout’ and passive aggressive statuses like ‘stupid bitch reckns she cn tell me wht to do. u knw who u r.’

    Today, while watching the Assange case on the news, my dad said that ‘well, she was drunk, so she might not have remembered saying yes’. I was stunned for a while. Then I said ‘someone said that to me, the day after I was raped’, and left the room. My dad seems to have seen the error of his apologetic ways.

    I think the worst part about the Assange case is the amount of pro-Wikileaks people who have said that even if the women were raped, they should be quiet, and take one for the team, for the greater good. Though, the inevitable claims of ‘false claims hurt men for than rape hurts victims’ run a close second.

  65. Pingback: Mädchenmannschaft » Blog Archive » Was schreib ich nur über Julian Assange

  66. Interesting piece.
    I agree that the way we think about rape needs to change. We, as a society, can be too casual about rape, even those who consider themselves to be above such things can crack jokes like, “It’s not rape if you shout surprise first.” Or casually referring to other things as rape; ‘yawn rape’, ‘facebook rape’, etc.
    I don’t think we should stop talking about rape entirely, just remember how horrific and serious it is, whoever the victim is, not something to be discussed casually in line at the supermarket.
    I don’t think the main reason for this though is what you state in your article. Of course, you can’t know of the experiences of those around you, and I agree that one should be sensitive to the possibility that this person is a victim of some kind, but in my eyes, one should not treat rape casually because it contributes to rape culture. Taking it seriously will hopefully influence others to do so, and if that happens, we lose some of that horrible rape culture which creates that casualness and tells people rape is ok, in some cases.

    As a side-note, I hadn’t read your blog before (nor have I read a post other than this yet) but was linked here from elsewhere. I was interested to read the comments but found you had censored some of them.
    Now, I don’t know what was said, and maybe it was comments that were offensive of triggering, but it didn’t seem like that from your explanations. I feel opposing opinions make for healthy, interesting debate, and think it’s a shame you silenced some of that. Surely, a well-thought out, intelligent reply is better than a censorship?

    • “I don’t think the main reason for this though is what you state in your article.”
      The point I was making in my post was that people need to be conscious of perpetuating rape myths, which underpin rape culture, in part because that hurts survivors; in part because it feeds into rape culture itself, including the prevalence of rape and the difficulty in reporting rapes and obtaining ‘justice’. (Several of the scenarios in my post are very clear about that). I also think that the disregard with which rape and sexual assault survivors are treated in our culture is a direct symptom of rape culture: did it occur to you that asking for respect for survivors is a way of rejecting rape culture, too, as well as simply showing consideration for their feelings?

      With regard to your comments on censorship: this is a personal blog with a comment policy, not a public forum. There are literally thousands of places online where people can contribute to speculation about the veracity of alleged rape victims’ claims, and where rape myths can be perpetuated without censure. I am surprised that you, as someone who is cognizant of and concerned about rape culture, argue that I ought to host commentary which feeds into that very culture, particularly when it is clear that some types of comments are distressing to some of the survivors who are reading and participating here. I also have made a deliberate choice to not allow this thread to become one of back-and-forth speculation about the Assange case because frankly, even if we did know all of the facts (which we clearly don’t) I don’t think trial -by-internet is appropriate in the least. In any case, I have reserved the right (seen in my comment policy) to moderate here as I see fit. No one is obligated to read or comment here if the house rules don’t suit them.

  67. Pingback: In case you were wondering | Spilt Milk

  68. Politicalguineapig

    Bumerry: Forgiveness means that you’re letting the people in your life who did bad things to you win. I will never forgive, because I refuse to let them win.

    • Hel

      For some people, forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting, it just means you’re not letting the bad that you survived choose how you live. I do not forgive those who hurt me for their sake, I forgive them for my sake, because I do not want to carry the weight of not forgiving them. I do not see forgiving as letting them win. I see it as me winning, because I am strong enough to cast them and what they did aside, not let it guide my steps any longer.

      I believe that is likely what those who are arguing for you to forgive also believe, and why they are arguing for you to forgive-because they believe it would be best for you, because it was best for them.

    • Hel has expressed my beliefs on forgiveness beautifully. So long as we hold on to the rage and hurt, it poisons our lives. Forgiveness is not about absolving the perpetrator, it’s about letting go of everything that they put on you.

      That’s in no way letting them “win”, nor does it mean that they just walk away without consequences. But it means setting yourself free of burdens you never asked to carry.

      I like to think of it as a big steaming pile of poo that was forced upon me. That shit is not mine to carry. I’m handing it back to it’s owner.

  69. Pingback: Not silent, not blamed | Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria

  70. Shelbie

    This may be stupid of me, but will you properly explain what apologism is? I feel I’d understand this post more.
    Much thanks.

    • Here’s a useful link
      http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2008/01/22/feed-the-faq-rape-apologist-definitions-clarifications-and-links/

      Basically apologism is just as it sounds – make apologies or excuses. (Not necessarily for individual rapists — I don’t literally mean people are saying ‘sorry’ on behalf of Assange, for example — but for rape as a concept and a wide-spread crime.) Rape apologists engage in victim-blaming, and/or minimise the severity of the crime (like when Whoopi Goldberg said Polanski’s rape of a teenager wasn’t “rape-rape” as if it could be more readily excused than certain other rapes, given the circumstances). Rape apologists don’t fight against the prevalence of rape in our culture, rather they make attempts to explain and justify it.

  71. Amazing. Perfect. This is a fantastic post! Thank you so much.

  72. Lindsay

    Thank you for writing this. As a rape survivor I hear every word that people say about rape and abuse and file them away.

  73. Jay

    There’s a very simple principle here, quite well understood (at least outside of totalitarian societies) charges of criminal behaviour require evidence.

    It’s silly to just assume that Assange is innocent or that this whole thing is one big frame-up, simply because one happens to support wikileaks. It might be one big frame-up after all. But that claim requires evidence, not merely accusations. It’s highly irresponsible to claim, as some left-wing supporters have, that Assange is automatically innocent just because the ‘official side’ wants him taken down (and make no mistake, the side of power and privilege undoubtedly does want him taken down)

    And it’s equally silly to assume that Assange is guilty, based merely upon accusations, simply because one rightly acknowledges that rape and misogyny are huge problems within our society.

    Each individual case requires evidence. Thus far, NONE has been presented, by the police nor by the accusers – the allegations alone do not constitute evidence.

    Thus far I’ve seen online attacks by self-proclaimed feminists on Assange’s ‘white male privilege’ substituting for evidence, with the assumption that he’s guilty, just because he’s white, because he’s male.

    Those sorts of attacks might serve as adequate substitutes for evidence in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, or even in post 9/11 America, where simply being a Muslim automatically carries with it the assumption of some sort of collective guilt among large sectors of the population, but those who cherish liberty should be wary.

    I’ve also seen attacks, from the “Assange is automatically innocent” crowd on the women, with such notions as the idea that the women allegedly stayed in contact with Assange afterwards, or perhaps most bizarrely, that one made breakfast afterwards, meaning that the Wikileaks founder is innocent. Again, we should be wary. Many real victims of rape find themselves in exactly these situations, time and again, and that shouldn’t lessen their victimhood in anyone’s eyes.

    In any legal system where the assumption is ‘innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt’ the onus is on the accusers, not the accused, to present evidence of a crime being committed.

    Unfortunately, the reality is that many victims of rape are unable to meet the required threshold of evidence needed to convict their attackers, and that’s truly regrettable…many a rapist has undoubtedly gone free because of this, and many will continue to go free.

    Is Julian Assange one of these rapists? I do not know, and until more evidence is presented (so far none has been) you should admit that you don’t either.

    Such is the regrettable price that one sometimes pays for having a system of due process that guarantees the assumption of innocence until guilt is proven using the available evidence.

    However, if we’re the least bit familiar with historical examples of the alternative, from witch hunts to McCarthyism to Stalin’s show trials, we should probably agree that it’s still a price worth paying.

    • Let me correct you:

      The case against Assange is in a stage of suspicions that are based upon the statements of the women involved. The aims of the prosecuters was and is to hear Assange about the case as this is presented by the women.

      Assange ingnored invitation of the Swedish justice department, while he was in Sweden, to explain himself and come up with a statement himself. Instead he declared that the complaints against him where a attempt and conspiracy to bring him and/ or Wikileaks down and left the country. He chose to run.

      His refusal to cooperate lead to the international order to arrest him. So it’s his own ignorance and arrogance that brought him in more trouble than he needed to be in right now. He thought he could play this case out in the media. And he did this with great succes so far. But the prosecuters in this case did the right thing and ignored the (social) media frenzy.

      Assange is not above or under the law and even he has to explain himself if serious allegations are made against him. It’s his own radical openness that bites him in the backside. He should practice what he preaches.

      So far there where and are in this stage no charges filed against him by the prosecution. If he would have come up with a good explenation or statement while he had the change the prosecuters might have judged that the allegations made against him would not have hold up in court.

      That still doesn’t say he didn’t force himself up to the women, but its a complex matter that requires lot’s of (other) evidence to hold up in court.

    • Yep. Also — I don’t really want this thread to become a debate over whether or not Assange is guilty etc. etc. It’s not really about that: whether or not he is guilty is actually quite irrelevant to the main point of my post. Even if he is tried in court and is exonerated, damage has been done to people — real live people — by media commentators, journalists, and ordinary folk on social media and on the street who have perpetuated rape myths in their discussion of this case. That is what I take issue with, that is what #mooreandme is about on Twitter, and that is what I would prefer to focus on in this thread. Trial-by-blog-comments doesn’t serve either side very well ;)

    • @ Jay “In any legal system where the assumption is ‘innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt’ the onus is on the accusers, not the accused, to present evidence of a crime being committed.”

      This is true, and I agree that it is a principle worth protecting.
      I, however, am not the law and this is not a courtroom. You might be interested in this interesting piece about how innocent-until-proven-guilty is a legal concept, not a moral one.
      http://sententiola.tumblr.com/post/2365527510/pro-tip

      “Is Julian Assange one of these rapists? I do not know, and until more evidence is presented (so far none has been) you should admit that you don’t either.”

      Um, sure. Nobody here (in fact, I don’t think I’ve seen many examples anywhere) has failed to admit that Assange may be innocent, that we don’t know enough to declare one way or another, and that in fact the only way the public could really be satisfied one way or another is if due legal process runs its course. I certainly have never said that Julian Assange is definitely guilty, and nor would I say that.

      Please also see my comment re: not discussing details of this case here.

  74. Pingback: Defending the rights of men, denying the voices of women | Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria

  75. Pingback: The politics of rape « Bad Feminist UK

  76. Suzers

    This is excellent. Thank you.

  77. S

    Maybe if we say this 10,000 times people will finally start to get it.

    “When you minimize rape, you alienate people around you, whether or not you know it. Because there are survivors everywhere. And you might not know they’re survivors precisely because you made a stupid goddamn rape joke, and now they will never tell you, because you creep them out.”

    - from fugitivus. net – that link is a long and seriously worthwhile post

  78. Spilled Milk: I don’t speculate about Assange being guilty or innocent. I just explained what the status of the case is, and Assange legal status.

    This because the assumption that he’s charged with a crime or crimes seems to be the backbone of many people that like to speculate about wether there is evidence and how much that’s worth. And by speculating about the evidence many fall back on the presumption that there is some conspiracy going on against Assange.

    This ingnorance about the legal system is the same ingnorance about rape that feeds straight into all kind of assumptions. People assume this or that and come to a totally false conclusion. And that on itself is one of many reasons people come up with these horrible rape myths.

    It might be good, or maybe you even should adress this issue. Just set the record straight and you take away numerous excuses that people invent to bash rape victims.

    It annoys me a lot that the media buy into this ignorance and don’t even make a effort to inform people sufficient enough to prevent all kinds of fables about not only this case but about rape victims in general.

  79. Pingback: Why #MooreandMe Helped—And How Twitter Busted Twelve Straw Men « Millicent and Carla Fran

  80. Jeff McCarthy

    Let us talk about the elephant in the room shall we.

    This article is as much about Mr Assange as a about the general subject of misogynist attitudes and language in general – it cannot help but be, given the historical context. While I appreciate that the author may well simply be taking the topical opportunity to make a few salient points I also appreciate that it may be otherwise. There is no vacuum here.

    Mr Assange has been accused of ‘rape’ by Mr Claes Borgstrom.
    Mr Borgstrom has a history which is available to anyone who cares to search the internet. He is a social-democratic politician who openly states that all men share a ‘collective guilt’ for rape and should be taxed for it — and much else besides.

    Mr Borgstrom, among others, wants to extend ‘rape’ laws in Sweden to allow the state to intrude even further than now into the sexual affairs of the entire population. Women, incidentally, in Sweden are not the ones who decide if they have been raped: the state does.

    Mr Borgstrom has said that his ‘clients’ did not know they had been raped because they had no legal knowledge – a barefaced lie in the case of one of them as well as being bizarre in its own right.

    Mr Borgstrom has launched this frame-up of Mr Assange with his pet prosecutrix Marianne Ny to further an extremely reactionary and sick political agenda. And it is a frame-up! And YES we can know that!

    With the possible exception of Ms W (who now may well be claiming she was pressured into the whole affair) nobody involved in this travesty of ‘justice’ -lets call it by its proper name shall we, Witchhunt, is a political neophyte.

    As part of the witchhunt, selections of very well-coached prosecution documents have been planted in the press; as indeed was Mr Assange’s name in the first place.

    Ms A, far from being in some sort of delayed shock after her sexual encounters with Mr Assange gave a newspaper interview in which she said exactly the opposite to what has been given to the press by someone in the Swedish state who had access to the material. If there is any veracity to the prosecution statements it is only to demonstrate that there is more than one massive liar involved.

    Along with the more rabid and powerful leading the pack in hunting down Mr Assange there has grown up over the last week a chorus of self-proclaimed ‘rape experts’ , particularly in the United States, accusing those who would expose this monstrous frame-up of engaging in ‘rape apologia’.

    Those of us who’ve been around for more than a few minutes are intimately familiar with the degeneration of much of new-left feminism into puritannical sexual moralising with a heavy dose of sadistic viciousness and psychological blackmail thrown in – there are too many vicitms of it even in this country for it to be hidden or forgotten.

    In form and content it is the S.S.C.U.M manifesto as interpreted by Mr Cotton Mather of Salem Mass: USA. This is the cabal who control the Prosecutor’s office in Sweden and much else besides in that land of Protestant rectitude anything but free love.

    The history of rape allegations against political enemies has a long history and usually shows fairly common features: the heavy and not invisible hand of the state; an atmosphere of hysterical fear and loathing; the rush of amateur hour experts on the witchcraft phenomena to denounce anyone who calls the thing by its proper name (in this case -rapist; defender of rapists; possessor of a penis; or any other such obvious sign of intercourse with the cloven hoofed one).

    To take seriously the claims of ‘rape’ in this specific case of Mr Assange is not to be neutral – to call the claims what they are – False , and patently, so – is not indifference to rape, or support to rape or any other evil thing. It is to tell the truth: nothing more, nothing less.

    In deference to the tone of the article, the fact that I do not know the author’s history or politics, and the stated comments policy I have refrained from expressing my opinion on the greek chorus of feminist attacks on Mr Assange’s defenders more forcefully. I have done so in much more colourful language and less didactic style in the ‘Slate’ magazine blog – where the political arguments are dealt with more exhaustively.
    http://www.slate.com/id/2278906/pagenum/2
    Jeff McCarthy
    Khancoban NSW
    24th December 2010

    • Jeff McCarthy

      To the author/moderator – the reason, incidentally, that I landed on your weblog is that it is that a link has been posted from the Salon article.
      Jeff

    • Jeff I’ve left your comment here in full but, I will reiterate again, I don’t wish to host a back-and-forth debate about the specifics of the case. I agree that nothing happens in a vacuum. I also assert that all rape accusations must be taken seriously and that everyone — especially media commentators and journalists — need to take care how they present these issues. I know there are political aspects to this, of course, I don’t live in a vacuum. But neither do you — when you, rather outrageously, I feel — claim to know that rape accusations are “patently false” simply based on your own speculation and knowledge of tangentially related factors, you are far overstepping the mark. You were not in the room when the alleged assaults occurred so you cannot possibly be certain that accusations are false. It’s not appropriate to make those sort of statements on this blog, or on this post. If Assange is tried and found not guilty, then it will be perfectly reasonable to make such an assertion. Until such time, it is merely speculation (either way), and as I have written ad nauseum, such speculation runs the risk of not only offending rape victims but giving rape myths currency. Taking rape accusations seriously does not mean locking up the accused without legal recourse and so I really, seriously fail to see how it is such a difficult concept to accommodate.
      Can I ask, again, that people refrain from making claims about Assange’s innocence or otherwise and stick to the topic at hand.

  81. Jeff McCarthy

    There is typographical error in the last line of the fourth last paragraph of my post: the word ‘and’ should appear after the word ‘rectitude’.

    • “There is grammar error” as well, but I don’t think you have the right to ask Spilt milk to spend her time correcting your bad english. Talk about entitled.

      Excellent post Spilt Milk.

  82. Politicalguineapig

    Sleepydumpling and Hel: I see it as a time in my life when I learned how to be strong. Anger ensures that I will never be weak again, and it shows me how I can turn a bad situation into one where I will triumph. Weak is the worst thing a woman can be, and pacifism and forgiveness will just allow the world to walk all over her. I’m not bitter, I’m just a realist. (Though if I ever run into those people again- I’ll cheerfully make ‘em suffer.)

    • I find it sad to think that you equate emotion, trust, forgiveness, warmth, compassion with weakness or even the absence of anger. The one thing I know I am is strong. And sometimes angry. But I don’t let the world poison me into hatred and distrust. If anything is letting anyone “win”, it’s letting others remove love from your life.

      It boggles my brain to think that the the qualities that I value most in myself and in others (including men – the most wonderful men in my life are all compassionate, caring, warm, trusting, thoughtful etc) are those that another woman would equate with weakness.

      I strongly believe in “to each their own” but will not let someone label me as “weak” because I don’t live to their standards. I, and many of the people I love most, have strength in love, kindness and compassion that many will never know by living in hatred and distrust.

    • Doctress Julia

      THIS. I feel much the same way… I am also a realist.

  83. Politicalguineapig

    I applaud compassionate men, but they are far from the majority. Until they become the majority, women need to be cold-hearted and ruthless in their public lives. I regard compassion as the high-heeled shoe of emotions: there are occasions when one needs to wear it, but wearing it all the time is dangerous to one’s health.

    • Yes, I get it, you don’t think compassionate is wise, nor feminist. I completely disagree. Shall we leave that line of discussion there please commenters? It’s a bit of a derail here. Perhaps at some point I’ll post something on the topic and there will be space for more discussion then.

  84. Thanks much for this post and I mean thank you.

  85. miamarshmallow

    thanks for this.

  86. Zoe

    Thank you so much for what you have written, and for defending your points so calmly and assuredly when others have tried to criticise. Until there is a serious culture shift the all of us – men, women, victims, survivors or not need people like you to stand up in the name of compassion and consideration for the feelings and experiences of others. I thank you from the bottom of my big, deep, bruised heart.

  87. Pingback: Yes, Gordon Campbell, you’re a rape apologist « Ideologically Impure

  88. Pingback: Blaming a child for her own rape: it’s just journalism | Spilt Milk

  89. This was really hard for me to read, but I’m glad I did.

  90. “What you say about rape — any rape, alleged or fictional or otherwise — matters. What you say, what I say, what journalists say, what your hairdresser says, what teachers say, what doctors say, what police say, what Julian Assange says, what your kid repeats at school: all of these utterances contribute to our cultural understanding of rape. And when what we hear time and time again is some version of apologism or some perpetuation of a rape myth like sluts can’t be raped or women always cry rape or nice men aren’t rapists then all we do is make the noise of rape culture louder and the voices of victims and survivors ever more silent.”

    YES. I was trying to explain this to a (now former) friend and how her use of the word “rape” as a joke trivialized the experiences of other people. It’s so frustrating to see people do this– and that person had experienced attempted rape, too.

    Thank you for writing this.

  91. Pingback: Who hears you, when you speak about rape? | SlutWalk USA | Blame the Rapist

  92. Simon

    Fantastic article. Thank you.

  93. Victims Speakout

    Thankyou for writing this article, I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it but I respect and agree with most of what you have said here.

    **** Tigger warning****

    I am a rape victim. For 16 years I have been dealing with it, I talk to people about it and I am open and honest about it. But I have never accused or charged my rapist. I was druged and to be honest I am not sure if he druged me or if one of his friends did. I have felt guilt and shame most of my life because of it. Guilt and shame that I should have done something different so I could have prevented it form happening. For a year after it happened I blamed my self, and didn’t admidt that it was actually rape, but thought I had cheated on the boyfriend I had at the time. I don’t remember most of what happened to me because I was soo drugged up by something slipped into my drink that I was passed out for most of it. I only remember hallucinating and thinking I was with my then boyfriend when I started to come out of it and realised what was really happening. I feel guilt and shame because of those hallucinations if I maybe said something to make him think I was agreeing to the sex. I am not as easily triggered by things I read as I was before but I recently saw a movie that had a very graphic rape scene in it and I didn’t sleep well for a week after. Yes the way we talk about the act of rape, the vicitims and the accused is very important and a very sensitive subject.

    Unfortunately I have also had my husband be falsly accused of molesting a cousin of his when he was 12 years old. I too thought before it happened that it was rare for false accusations. It almost destroyed my family, partly because at the time we had a very young daughter, and I didn’t want to expose her to the similar experience I had lived. Since then I have had countless people whom I talked about this openly with tell me their story of false accusations. I told them they shouldn’t speak poorly about the person who accused, because SOMETIMES victims can’t accuse the real person that did the rape and so they direct it at someone else as a cry for help. Then I thank them for the info. I too believe that it is devastating to a mans life to be accused of something like this. I think as a human being we should care about the accused and the victim because both will have to deal with it for the rest of their lives. I was told by a rape specialist that I saw that this is a disease of the brain and they don’t wake up one day thinking I am going to go rape someone today and only today. They usually do it to more then once and continue to victimise people until they seek help and sometimes even after that. That is why I regret never reporting my rape so my rapist could have gotten the help he needed so he hopefully wouldn’t do this to anyone else. I may have been able to prevent someone else from going through this.

    I am still with my husband and part of the reason is I started seeing a specialist about it whom helped me to look at my husband and see that he truely did not have the attributes of someone who was capable of this. That my view of him before this happened was correct, he is an honest and big hearted man. Who is the only man who has ever treated me respectfully especially in the bedroom. We have been married now for 7 years and I look back and think how could I possibly have believed that about him. I also wonder how someone could possibly falsly accuse another human of that, you make it so much harder for those of us who really have been raped to be taken seriously. I believe this person truely was assaulted at some point unfortunately they have accused so many people of it that very few family members believe them anymore. I am thankful for my family and the lady I worked through this They could see the truth where I could not at first. I am thankful for my husbands patience and his ability to stick with me through it, and to be so understanding of what I was going through. It made physical intimacy between us almost non existent for a couple of years. He never faltered in his devotion or his faithfulness to me in that time, did he struggle with it of course but he loved me and new I needed time to heal, and learn to feel trust again.

    It is just as devastating to a rape victim to hear false accustions as it is to hear unknowing comments about them. Yes you should consider the accused and the victims feelings and treat both with respect take it from a victim of both rape and of false accusations. You should never tell a victim of either situation to shut their mouths, you never know what they have been through.

  94. Very good piece. Thank you.

  95. Pingback: Just because she never told you… « Educating Daughters: Love, Sex, Consent & Rape

  96. Pingback: Feminism Friday: What can I do, right now today, to help stop sexual violence « Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog

  97. Pingback: links for thought (December 2010)

  98. Pingback: TW: Rape. To the anon in my askbox: Rape jokes are not funny & are dangerous | Aeryn Walker's Blog

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