A Coupla Things
A couple of things that have been rolling through my head.
Boys Rub Their Dicks on Things Because of NATURE, Girls Just Stand Around
The other day, I was hanging out with a friend of mine, Mickey. Mickey is better known as the purveyor of the rape joke what made me famous, though he doesn’t know that, which tickles me so. Obviously, Mickey has some problems. I’m not going to go into them too much, because this post isn’t about Mickey, or why I hang out with him, or how I manage it when he pops out with gems like nyah. I will say this by way of brief, brief summary: I think Mickey has learned to mostly stuff a sock in his mouth about gender when he’s around me, unless he’s asking me to explain something he’s ignorant about. And I think he’s learned those things through a collection of stony-ass silences, disgusted sounds, and the total and immediate ending of a night out when a bad sexist joke rolls around. I have my own thoughts on Mickey’s intentions, and how much they matter to me, and how willing I am to navigate them, but that’s a personal decision about what I do and don’t let into my life, and has nothing to do with whether or not this shit is generally cool.
So! Hanging out with Mickey. Hanging out with Mickey and reading The Dialectic of Sex, and occasionally piping up with things that I know will make him uncomfortable and perhaps think-y, because making him uncomfortable is part of the price I get for hanging out with somebody who occasionally makes me uncomfortable. I mention something about biology and evolution, and he puts out something I’m sure you’ve heard before:
“Well, you know. Evolution made men to want to spread their seed around, so it makes sense that they cheat.”
I pause. Think about this. Say, “I could believe that. I don’t know if I do, but it’s a reasonable way for nature to make a creature. But I also think evolution probably made women to want to gather up bunches of seeds, so it makes sense that they cheat.”
I got kind of a blank stare at this. Then he says, “Yeah, but men do it a lot.”
Setting aside for the moment the fact that, from what I know about Mickey, he hasn’t known many guys who cheat, if any. So, file that under Item #43560982 in ways that sexism ruins your ability to use your brain properly: all your personal experience says one thing, but everybody knows that the complete opposite is true, on a fundamental, cellular level, even. Do not look at the patriarchy behind the curtain.
I put out there, “Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. But whether or not they do, I think the presumption of what evolution makes men do or not do is a bunch of bullshit used to justify bad behavior and sexual repression.”
Later, during a moment of l’esprit d’escalier, I thought of this:
If men are doing it a lot, who the fuck are they doing it with?
Unless men are all fucking each other, or fucking the ONE Lilith to whom evolution granted slutiness as a defining trait, I’m pretty sure evolution didn’t create a bunch of seed-machines without creating an equal bunch of seed-gatherers. If men have a massive evolutionary desire to spread their seed, they need to meet a creature with an equally massive evolutionary desire to collect it. You could make the argument that evolution created one sex to spread seed, and also endowed that sex with a capacity and desire for rape. Considering just how much rape goes on in the fucking world, I’d be depressed enough to buy it on occasion, though you’re not going to get me to buy the idea that evolution created women to be raped; if it did, there wouldn’t be angry little blogs like this one talking about how much rape sucks and needs to end. But unless you want to go the radical feminist route (which I don’t want to do here — feel free to take it to the Discussion board) and say that all sex between unequals is rape, I am pretty sure there is a lot of consensual fucking going on.
So, new response every time evolutionary bullshit gets brought up. Evolution created men to do blah blah blah — okay, but with whom? With what? In what capacity? Using what goddamn organ? Evolution didn’t just create men to spontaneously generate during wet dreams — it wired them to fuck a creature that is capable of reproduction (if you’re going to buy that reproduction is the only purpose of sex that evolution intended, that is). So there’s got to be an equal force on the other end of that equation, something that wants to fuck right back.
Now, before it gets brought up, that doesn’t mean I buy any degree of evolutionary bullshit. This is just an argument that takes the supposition at face value and follows the money.
Let’s Just Do What the Victim Wants, Because I Apparently Give a Magnanimous Shit
The other day, I got a little sassy with one of my higher-ups. She’s not my direct supervisor, but she could be, in a pinch, so this was a little out of line. But I think I have a good defense. We were talking about Polanski.
She said, “I can’t believe this is still going on.”
I suspected she meant, “I can’t believe they’re still going after this guy, he is just so sad and sympathetic,” but I decided to play dumb. “Yes,” I agreed. “I can’t believe they didn’t put him away a long time ago.”
“I mean,” she continued, “the victim forgave him, didn’t she? She doesn’t even want him to go to trial.”
“I’m sorry,” I said, “but aren’t we all mandated reporters here? Since when did what we think get in the way of following the law when it comes to abuse of children?”
“But it was so long ago.”
“He’s still a kidfucker.” PROBABLY SHOULDN’T SAY FUCK IN THE OFFICE, HARRIET, OOPS.
“Yeah, well, if that’s the case, they should have locked him up back then.”
“I agree,” I said, “that they should have locked him up back then.”
That was the end of the conversation. I didn’t care for it at all, and it made me lose a lot of respect for that particular boss and her opinions, but I could also sense that she was seeing how angry this could get me, and how willing I’d be to keep saying fuck, which would mean she’d have to reprimand me, which she didn’t want to deal with, so she just backed down and so did I.
Later I was thinking about this excuse of doing what the victim wants. She forgave him, right? So we can just drop it. Because all of a sudden, I care about victims — ignore the convenience of caring about them only when they are asking me to continue what I’m already doing (you know, not giving a shit about victims or rapists). It’s not that, really. I’m being a rape apologist for them. Because they want me to. I mean, really, shouldn’t all you anti-rape advocates be more focused on the victim like I am, right now, when her desires finally line up with what I want her to do?
That’s what sticks in my craw the most about it. The kind of people who will be the most vocal about, “Just drop it! It’s what the victim wants!” aren’t the people that I expect, five or ten years before, to have been crowing, “Just prosecute him! It’s what the victim wants!” I’m pretty sure what they’ve always been saying is, “Just drop it! That’s what I want!”, and are only too happy to recruit an apparently unimpeachable source to their side, regardless of how willing they were to trample all over her if she ever believed anything else.
Here’s the thing. I am sure that in this wide, wide world of people, there are rape victims out there who truly want nothing more than for their rapists to go free without punishment, without retribution, without justice. That’s their right. But I don’t think I’ve actually heard any of them. Instead, what I hear is, “I just want this whole thing dropped. I don’t want it prosecuted. Every time this gets brought up I get harassed.” Or, “I don’t want this prosecuted. I don’t want to be called a slut in court.” Or, “I don’t want this prosecuted. I could never win, I don’t have the money, and nobody would believe me.” Or, “I don’t want this prosecuted. He would kill me. His friends would come after me.” Or, “I don’t want this prosecuted. I can’t stand to see him every day in court.”
None of those statements can be reasonably boiled down to, “Rape victim doesn’t want her rapist to come to justice.” They can be reasonably boiled down to, “Rape victim suspects pursuit of justice will feel worse than getting raped did.” But only one of those boiled-down statements makes us, as a society, look like we’re decent and human and deserve to live. The other might point the finger squarely at you — listen, are you the reason justice is worse than rape? Is it because you are going to call her a liar, call her a whore, make her life hell, threaten her, harass her, treat her like a pariah, tell her she liked it, tell her she deserved it? Are you one of the people who lined up to stone the victim into silence, only to smarmily say later, “Well, the victim isn’t asking for justice, is she?”
You don’t get to put on your culpability hat when it’s fashionable, and take it off when it’s heavy. If you have ever said, out loud, within earshot of ANYBODY, that women deserve some degree of responsibility for their rape, or that women who go to court are lying money-grubbers, or that it wasn’t a real rape, or any amount of apologism, you bear some responsibility for the reasons women do not want to see their rapists come to justice. It’s because you have told her that she will have to go through you first, and she has decided that that might feel worse than just living with the fact that she can be legally raped. CONGRATULATIONS. YOU ARE AN ASSHOLE.
I’ve talked before about diffused responsibility for rape. We, as a culture, put the responsibility for preventing rape entirely upon the shoulders of the one person who is least equipped to prevent a rape: the victim, at the very moment she is being victimized. There are a thousand points along the way where rape could have been prevented, bystanders who saw a situation getting out of control, or idly made a rape joke in front of a rapist, thus letting him know that he could probably rape your friends and you wouldn’t think it was that serious, since you don’t think rape is serious. When people boil down the harassment, villification, and re-victimization that victims are trying to avoid as, “Rape victim doesn’t want justice! What can you do!”, I think they’re utterly relieved to have their lack of responsibility validated. Every rape is a preventable rape. Every rapist could have been stopped. Every one of us has a chance to do so, by enforcing respect of boundaries and respect of consensual sexuality as the norm — the only norm — and every time we slip up, we have perhaps abdicated our responsibility to a rape victim somewhere down the road. How nice it would be for us, then, if that rape victim then said, “No harm, no foul. I’ve moved on. I don’t even want things made right! Just wipe that nastiness from your mind. I surely have!” How nice it would be to know that we have no responsibility to make this world a better place, because all the victims are okay with being victimized.
It would be nice to not get so bothered by Polanski, or all his fucked-up, morally dead rapists-by-proxy. I bet I wouldn’t be so bothered if I was willing to believe that abusing somebody into accepting the legality of their abuse was a legitimate form of justice. I bet I wouldn’t have to see that I am surrounded by people — real people, coworkers and acquaintances and friends — who would be willing to abuse me into accepting my rape as legal, and fighting back as morally indefensible, and that would be pretty nice thing to be blind to. I bet I wouldn’t have to think about all the times I’ve said things like, “Well, what does she expect, with those boys?”, and how maybe it was my words echoing in some girl’s head when she decided to “forgive” her rapist, because what other kind of peace or justice is she ever going to find? If I could wrangle up some rape victim to tell me that rape wasn’t so bad — wasn’t so bad that I had to care, anyway — I could feel pretty fucking smug about my complacency and utter failure to be a decent human being. And if I can’t wrangle up some rape victim to say that, I can probably wildly and purposefully misinterpret what a victim actually says — “Please stop putting me through goddamn hell” — and decide what that actually means is that rapists don’t deserve to be prosecuted for rape, and I don’t have to be one of the unenviable bastards who gets put through hell for saying that they do deserve it, always, every time, no matter what.
We should all try to respect what a victim wants. But we have to hear what she wants first. “I don’t want to be treated like a worthless whore anymore” isn’t the same thing as “I don’t want my rapist brought to justice.” That second line? That’s what rapists hear. That’s how abusers think. Don’t be surprised if you think that way, too — you grew up in the same world that brought them to legal fruition.
Believing that ceasing the torture of a torture victim is the same thing as restorative justice and amends illustrates just how much abuser you’ve got in you.