I’ve pretty much had it with rape, assault, apologism, doubling down, inside baseball, who’s got the right answer on how to stop assault, defenses of articles that really trigger people, all of it. And I’m nobody, yeah? Who cares if I’ve had it, and frankly I’m not important in the feminist online world but I do work on sexual assault, bystander awareness, healthy sex, and am well aware of the issues on my own campus, let alone others. So I’ve had it.
It’s been a rough week on the feminist internet, and in real people’s lives, between the posts at GMP (linked in my other blog posts), and Feministe, and other blogs.
So….this is horrible. It’s a judge who basically said reduced the sentence of a rapist because if the survivor in question hadn’t wanted sex, her body would have just shut down the rape. He was reprimanded, the judge, but is still sitting.
What he said points to some deep terrible beliefs in this judge, and I’d say, in the culture. Here’s the deal. No amount of me (women or anyone) not drinking, not behaving like a good girl, not wearing trashy clothes, not policing myself is gonna keep predators from predating. In this case and to this judge, apparently if you fight hard enough then your body won’t allow rape to happen. Good to know! All those women and men who freeze up, or obey their attacker, or have been roofied…not really rape, y’all.
Predators exist. Many of them are sadistic, many of them are simply opportunistic. The opportunistic ones get away with a lot because they can justify what they do with bullshit like this! “She didn’t really fight! She was drunk! She led me on! I couldn’t help it!” I’ve tried to think about nuance, and I do believe there are people out there who do not, will not, can not look in the mirror of their life and face the truth that the are acting as predators and believe it is totally justified behavior, and maybe those people really and truly believe they weren’t rapists. But that’s got to stop.
Because taking from someone is taking. Harming someone is harming. Believing you are in the right to dominate over another just because…is this a world we want to continue? A world of dominance over mutuality? I don’t. And I get that there are people out there who in every other aspect of their lives believe they are good and are perceived as good. But then this act? No. If there is remorse and an understanding at a core level of the harm, then perhaps redemption. But not without the understanding, of the attacker, of his or her peers, of the groups protecting him.
This whole business this week has made me heartbroken that we even have to have this conversation about people’s bodies and at the same time, it winds up being strewn across the internet as if a weeks worth of fighting is gonna figure it out. I’ve seen some real dialogue, I’ve seen some nasty behavior (which doesn’t do a damn bit of good), and I’ve seen some people work their asses off to try and understand the other side (as well as some completely shutting down the other side).
Are we really just unable to recognize what’s going on? When a sitting judge can say (and believe!) these things and he has the power to reduce a sentence, that sends a message to other predators. “Hey, she didn’t fight hard enough. You won’t face so much jail time. Bitches be crazy right?”
And it tells women something too. No wonder we are stuck.
There is work to do, and I’m going to do it. It involves mess, and it involves nuance, and it involves helping get people past apology into action and probably being hated for it cause I’m not really fond of one-true-way-ism, but I’m also not fond of people being clumsy with something as important as sexual assault (and doing it online before millions), and while it involves the online world, it also involves people without computers or access to lawyers, or knowledge of feminism, and it’s hard and in all this, this week, this, on VAWA and Native American women, has had far less attention paid to it (and by me!) and why is that? Well, that’s another post.
For now, there is work to do. Predators predate, yes, they are human beings but they are selling their humanity to some dark force every time they take what isn’t theirs. And we sell ours too if we don’t acknowledge that.