Rape Culture Rant

October 11th, 2012

Some unusual (for me) conversations this week. It started on Monday, when I was accused of making light of rape culture and slut shaming because I was joking about my rape fantasies. Having never heard the term “slut shaming,” I gave the person opportunity to explain it to me, and after a bit of agreeing that society is full of stupid people, we let the matter drop. Tuesday there was a discussion about the differences in age of consent and what actually qualifies as statutory rape, and the double standard between men and women. Yesterday, there were conversations about gender inequality, repression of women, sexism and dressing sexy. I say unusual conversations, because I’m not a particularly politically active person. These are not the types of discussions I normally get into, I’m not a great debater of social issues. I generally think society can go fuck itself, and I stick to having friends who are not idiots. But with all the discussions, and some of the stupidity this week, I am feeling a bit ranty.

Let me start at the top and work my way down. I tend to avoid discussing rape fantasies in public. The horrible reality of rape is a dividing line for many people. Some of us have the fantasies, others find it unthinkable. For me, it took me a long time to admit to having the fantasies. It felt shameful, wrong and terribly inappropriate. But they were there, from my earliest fantasizing, they’ve always been there. To deny them, is to deny a part of myself. Coming to be a part of this community, has involved a lot of getting to know myself and getting comfortable with myself. Learning to stop denying who I am and what I like. And I still find it hard to admit at times. But Monday, I felt I was in a safe place, and was a little offended by the accusation that I didn’t take the issues of rape culture and slut shaming seriously just because I was talking about my rape fantasies. They are power exchange fantasies, not an actual desire to be violently violated by a stranger. And certainly nothing that supports sexual violence against anyone.

So, let’s move on to those things. UpsettingRapeCulture.com defines rape culture this way: In a rape culture, people are surrounded with images, language, laws, and other everyday phenomena that validate and perpetuate, rape. Rape culture includes jokes, TV, music, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words and imagery, that make violence against women and sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe that rape is inevitable. Rather than viewing the culture of rape as a problem to change, people in a rape culture think about the persistence of rape as “just the way things are.”

I take very seriously, the problem of sexual violence, and find it abhorrent that even some of our laws are written in a way that casts blame on the victims. That “she was asking for it” is ever an acceptable response to rape, is disgusting. That not only men, but some women believe that we shouldn’t wear short skirts, because that only tempts men to rape us or exploit us, is insane. That’s going down another point that I’ll catch back up to later. The point for now, being that rape is one of, if not The most horrible crimes a person can commit upon another person, and it’s terrible that society as is stands, generally accepts inappropriate sexual advances as normal. That sexual violence of any kind is acceptable, is something we seriously need to change if we ever hope to be an evolved and enlightened society.

The FinallyFeminism101 blog defines slut shaming this way: Slut-shaming, also known as slut-bashing, is the idea of shaming and/or attacking a woman or a girl for being sexual, having one or more sexual partners, acknowledging sexual feelings, and/or acting on sexual feelings.

This concept is not new to me, Americans live in a society that was founded by Puritans. Women are socialized to be chaste virgins until they marry, and then be faithful to that man forever. Naming the problem slut shaming or bashing, seems to me, to only perpetuate the problem, but then, that’s a matter of linguistics, and focus. We are socialized to be ashamed of our sexuality, I am still fighting my way past that ingrown shame. And negative comments only make it all that much harder. But it’s once again a matter of being able to say fuck society, I am strong, and healthy and my desires are natural. This is not an easy thing to do, but we in the kink community do it all the time. This is just one more step, don’t make it harder for those around you, just because you’re jealous of their confidence or partners. And if you see others doing it, stand up for each other, show them how strong, confident and sexy we really are.

So, age of consent and statutory rape. The discussion Tuesday began with a relationship between a 17 year old boy and his 27 year old teacher. Obviously, a pairing that violates the ethical code of said teacher’s contract, and all the things that go along with it. In whatever state this was, the age of consent is 16, and the parents of the boy approved of the relationship. However, the teacher was still being charged with rape, among the other counts against her. It was the general consensus that some case-by-case common sense should be shown and the rape charged left out of the legal proceedings. The conversation then moved on to a discussion of the double standard that older teenaged boys don’t need protection against older women, but girls of the same age need protection from older men.

As I understand it, every state sets their own age of consent, to me, this is the first problem. As I said, I’m not big on politics, but it seems to me that a national standard would serve everyone better than a different standard every few hundred miles. Some common sense wouldn’t hurt in setting it either. High-schoolers having sex with each other, in many states could lead to a rape charge and that person will be stuck on the sex offenders registry. I’m not even going to pretend I have the answer, or the perfect age, or the right rules for this, but it just seems something we ought to be consistent about. And I think, once we figure out what age we are all comfortable with, consent should matter. Charge the teacher with breach of contract, take her license, whatever, but if the 17 year old is old enough to consent to sex with her, do Not charge her with rape. And, as a woman, who honestly feels that women biologically mature faster than men, let’s not have a double standard for consent. If a 16 year old boy can consent to sex, you better believe a 16 year old girl has the same ability. But girls need protected from predatory men? Then prosecute them for rape if she’s said no and he didn’t stop. Protect them from the predators, but not from their own freedom of choice.

On to the last bit, the wearing of sexy clothing and the objectification and exploitation of women by sexist men. Dude(tte), you need to get out more. A lot of women wear sexy clothing because they want to, because it makes them feel good. Because they enjoy receiving compliments from men who appreciate their beauty. None of this means that the woman is objectifying herself, or that the men giving the compliments are objectifying her. It is about feeling good about yourself, and loving yourself, and not being afraid to be who you are, if that’s a sexy girl in skin tight latex, or a stunning woman in a business suit. If you’re only being viewed as an object, you need to get new friends, get out in the community where the delicious mind is appreciated inside every body. The enjoyment of sexy clothes does not detract from the desire for intelligent conversation. Yes, there are sexist assholes in the community, too, they’re everywhere, but we don’t put up with them for as long as the general public. Deciding that women should wear long skirts so that men aren’t tempted, is sexist in both directions – repression of a woman’s choices and sexuality, and lack of faith in men.

Part of these conversations came out of discussion of women in the media, on tv, video games, movies and the like. And some of that is a problem, when the woman is only there to be pretty and do nothing else. To be the damsel in distress who must be rescued, because only men can do things in life. Yes, this is a problem, so don’t watch those shows, don’t go to those movies, don’t support those products. Watch the ones with strong female characters, buy the DVDs with the intelligent men and women working together to save the day. Buy the products that show women as powerful. But judging a show by how a character is dressed, and not by how she acts/is presented, is just sexist. Isn’t that what you accuse men of doing?

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