Rape is a part of our culture and the recent Holtzclaw judgement has been a increased the focus on rape. Unfortunately the majority of the focus that I have encountered has been in the comment sections or a part of Facebook posts.
Otherwise peaceful and well behaved people are writing out revenge fantasies and wishes of terrible things to be done to Holtzclaw. Some are short wishes that he will experience what his victims did, and others are detailed and dark.
When these inappropriate comments or posts are called inappropriate there are generally two defenses either it is “justice” or “a joke”.
So let’s talk about rape.
First let’s cover what it isn’t.
Rape is not funny.
Rape is not a form of justice.
Rape should never be a form of punishment.
Rape is not about sex.
Now lets talk about what Rape is.
Rape is a pervasive part of our culture.
Rape is about power.
Rape is damaging to both the body and the psyche.
Rape is used as a threat.
The withholding of rape is used as a form of insult.
I am a survivor, and the scars have followed me my entire life. My first rapists were my grandfather and my uncle. I was 6 years old. My grandfather would rape me when I would stay overnight or over the course of a weekend. My grandmother turned a blind eye, and when I wanted to go home because I was scared and hurting she was angry at me.
My next rapist was my (now ex) husband. I didn’t think of it as rape at the time, and I still struggle with the concept now. But he was never so satisfied as when he made me uncomfortable. He claimed to suffer from a disorder that caused him to have sex in his sleep (while this is a real thing, there is evidence this was a lie on his part) and I was often pulled from sleep by his “advances”.
He would talk of the things he wanted, and when they were well beyond my comfort zone, he would talk about the women he knew that would do them. Or the women he had known. He used shame, coercion, and withheld affection, love, and attention to get what he wanted out of me.
So no, he never held me down and physically forced me. But he ensured I was so emotionally damaged that he could take what he wanted physically.
My family members and my ex are no longer a part of my life, but the damage they did still is.
Bathrooms are an absolute nightmare for me, and being in one with the door completely closed can generate a panic attack. Showers rarely last longer than 7 minutes because the idea of being so vulnerable causes anxiety. Public restrooms are always a challenge and I am well known for being the fastest pee’er in the west. I am in an out of the stall before most people can sit down, and I abhor the polite conversation that most polite society requires in women’s bathrooms.
I am very sensitive about my arms. Long sleeve shirts with the cuffs too tight makes me feel confined. So most of my shirts are short sleeved which can make winter fun. Pressure on my upper arms can make me go into a panic attack. Anyone who grabs my upper arm does so at risk of life and limb. And when I visit the doctor I have to focus on my breathing while they use blood pressure cuffs, because all I want to do is rip it off my arm and run from the room screaming.
Physical contact with other people requires a deliberate choice on my part, and hugging is uncomfortable unless I have a deep sense of trust with that person. The number of people I can hug with comfort is small. Most of the time I’m counting the seconds until I can let go without being rude.
At night I only feel comfortable and safe if I can feel the edge of the bed. I cling to the edge of the bed like it’s a life line, and a new bed can cause problems as during the night I am trying to establish where all the edges are. So when traveling with T- we get double beds and sleep separately, else she would get no sleep.
There are a hundred tiny things in my life that are difficult and challenging. Some I am painfully aware of, while others I just live with and no longer think of as a challenge of a part of my abuse.
I share all of this because I want you dear reader to know that I know of what I speak.
I have no feelings of kindness or forgiveness for rapists. I do not forgive my abusers. I do not sympathize with them, nor do I wish them peace and solace. I wish them long healthy lives, and I wish that they know loneliness and regret. I wish justice. But I do not wish rape.
I am familiar with rape and the damage it does.
So I do not wish rape on rapists. You shouldn’t either.
Rape is not punishment, and punitive rape is still rape. So wishing rape upon someone as a form of revenge is not glorious or good. It is a part of rape culture. It makes you a part of the problem.
Rape is not a joke. It should never be treated as such. And “it was a joke” is not an acceptable defense. Because when you joke about rape you are making light of deeply shameful and personal experiences that too many people have gone through.
If you can’t get behind these concepts, then at least get behind this. You may think that survivors all share your dark revenge fantasy and want to read or hear the detailed ways you want someone like Holtzclaw to be violated.
Some survivors do have these revenge fantasies. Many don’t. And you may be triggering old wounds.
Feminine presenting or perceived people deal with threats of rape. A strong opinion on the internet will often result in a threat of rape, or as an insult they will be threatened with the withholding of rape. The implication they are too fat, ugly, disgusting, gross or otherwise unworthy of being raped.
Feminine presenting or perceived people must always be mindful of the threat of rape. We must take extra precautions in almost all aspects of life, to avoid being raped. It is constantly reinforced that the victim either invited the rape or failed to properly protect themselves.
At the same time when masculine presenting or perceived people do not believe what we tell them. They think that our precautions are silly, or unnecessary. But these same people will both joke about rape, and assume that a victim was at fault.
Rape is an ever present part of feminine life, and as such it can leave scars even if the person has never experienced physical rape.
It’s not funny.
It’s not justice.
It’s not okay.