(repost of Another Post About Rape from Fugitivus)
So there are a lot of politics to rape, especially the aftermath of rape. Especially around the discussion of whether or not a girl (guys can be rape victims too, another post) thought it would be a fun Saturday afternoon to walk down to the police station and be interrogated all day, swabbed down by a lab technician, and then blow a bunch of cash on lawyers so she can spend a day in court being called a whore and asked how she could possibly not have consented when she was holding a drink(Do you know how bad people want to get out of jury duty? Why does anyone think rape victims find court fun?).
People wonder why women don’t “fight back,” but they don’t wonder about it when women back down in arguments, are interrupted, purposefully lower and modulate their voices to express less emotion, make obvious signals that they are uninterested in conversation or being in closer physical proximity and are ignored. They don’t wonder about all those daily social interactions in which women are quieter, ignored, or invisible, because those social interactions seem normal. They seem normal to women, and they seem normal to men, because we were all raised in the same cultural pond, drinking the same Kool-Aid.
And then, all of a sudden, when women are raped, all these natural and invisible social interactions become evidence that the woman wasn’t truly raped. Because she didn’t fight back, or yell loudly, or run, or kick, or punch. She let him into her room when it was obvious what he wanted. She flirted with him, she kissed him. She stopped saying no, after a while.
Here’s the thing that I think explains to people. Or at least, it’s the thing I think of when people tell me how ‘bitchy’ it is that girls ‘lead men on’ by constantly avoiding their touches and glances (and try to pretend that the sexual expectations being thrust on them aren’t really there)…
Here’s a situation every woman is familiar with: some guy she knows, perhaps a casual acquaintance, perhaps just some dude at the bus stop, is obviously infatuated with her. He’s making conversation, he’s giving her the eye. She doesn’t like him. She doesn’t want to talk to him. She doesn’t want him near her. He is freaking her out. She could disobey the rules, and tell him to GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM HER, and continue screaming GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME every time he tries to step closer, or speak to her again. And then he will be all, “I was just talking to you! WTF!” and everybody else will be all, “Yeah, seriously, why’d you freak out at a guy just talking to you?” and refuse to offer the support she needs to be safe from dude. Or, the guy might become hostile, violent even. Ladies, you’ve seen that look, the “bitch can’t ignore me” look. It’s a source of constant confusion, as soon as you start budding breasts, that the man who just a moment ago told you how pretty you are is now calling you a stupid ugly whore, all because you didn’t get in his car.
And every time I get shouted at on the street by someone who thinks I owe him my fucking attention. What people seem not to understand is what constitutes consent. Because the way people seem to treat the case is that women are in a constant state of consent (or rather, they think women’s bodies are up for grabs unless a) claimed by another man or b) she acts in a very precise set of ways). Except the ways women who are ‘really’ raped act is not in any way the ways we teach women they are always always supposed to act.
If we teach women that there are only certain ways they may acceptably behave, we should not be surprised when they behave in those ways.
And we should not be surprised when they behave these ways during attempted or completed rapes.
Women who are taught not to speak up too loudly or too forcefully or too adamantly or too demandingly are not going to shout “NO” at the top of their goddamn lungs just because some guy is getting uncomfortably close.
Women who are taught that physical confrontations make them look crazy will not start hitting, kicking, and screaming until it’s too late, if they do at all.
Women who are taught that a display of their emotional state will have them labeled hysterical and crazy (which is how their perception of events will be discounted) will not be willing to run from a room disheveled and screaming and crying.
I find it especially strange that people have such strong expectations of female rape victims to run naked and screaming into a large crowd of strangers. Everything that women are ever taught ingrains the belief that this is not only socially unacceptable, crazy and hysterical, but also dangerous. I really want anyone who ever expects this of rape victims to really really picture themselves doing that. Picture witnessing someone else do that. Would that be well-received? No, I promise you, it would not. Social punishment is a strong motivator, especially so because we learn to obey it unconsciously and constantly.
Nobody obtains the superpower to behave dramatically differently during a frightening confrontation. Women will behave the same way they have been taught to behave in all social, professional, and sexual interactions. And they will be pretty goddamned surprised to come out the other end and find out that means they can legally be raped at any time, by just about anybody.