(Severe trigger warning: rape apologism, rape culture, prescriptivism as related to surviving sexual violence, victim blaming)
Did you see this piece Jezebel did about the reddit “other side of the rape story” thread? This is why we can’t have nice things. Quote from the article:
“We have to acknowledge that the people telling these stories and making these decisions are the men (and women) next door, not necessarily inhuman savages. Otherwise, anti-rape campaigns will continue to tell victims to dress and act differently as a matter of “prevention,” college campuses will continue to report high rates of sexual assault, and people will continue to take advantage of others without even looking them in the eye while doing so.”
Yes, Jezebel, that’s right. Sympathy for rapists is what will really solve the problem here. Instead of acknowledging the dehumanization of the victims, let’s just focus on the dehumanization of the victimizers.
THIS IS WHY NOBODY LIKES YOU JEZEBEL!
Jezebel just stays losing.
This article is bad and you should feel bad, Jezebel.
Okay, so some people in the reblogs for this post have said that this article is not rape apologia ad nauseum, and that someone should at least give it a read to see what they are trying to say. So I did. Here are some specific parts that I want to reply to:
But it’s impossible to talk about the reasons people rape without involving rapists in the discussion.
Wrong. You can discuss rape and the reasons why people rape without involving rapists. Indeed, given the emotionally volatile (and sometimes physically dangerous) nature of survival, it is a necessity 95% of the time. Otherwise, most of us would never speak out to begin with.
Criminologists and sociologists have discussed these issues for several decades now by studying convicted rapists in controlled settings— interviews, journals, one-on-one counseling, memoirs, etc.— and it has given us enough information already. This has informed the majority of discourse that we have today surrounding anti-sexual violence activism. Through an academic and professional lens that summarizes the gathered information, there is no need for anyone who has survived these things to have to directly (and traumatically) read it first-hand. Furthermore, professionals have already profiled rapist archetypes tens of thousands of times; these archetypes encompass 99% of all assailants out there. Again, there is no need for anyone who has survived sexual violence to have to hear these things directly. To suggest that a space needs to be made for these stories (without massive critique and social penalty) is absolutely a type of apologism.
It’s a mistake to think we’re justifying rapists’ actions by listening to their stories. Some of them are tough to read, but their brutal honesty effectively illustrates how a lack of communication and education perpetuates rape culture. Ignoring or dismissing these men (and women) out of hand may be an effective coping strategy for a given individual, but not for society. It gets us nowhere.
The huge flaw in this argument is that Western culture at large is already a space for rapists to talk about “their side of the story”, period. If you don’t get that then you should not be talking about sexual violence, at all.
The writer here uses an incredibly patronizing tone: “some of them are tough to read”…they clearly have no understanding of how triggering content works. That they can even suggest that people can read this content without having violent and/or physically/emotionally dangerous reactions reeks of privilege. The editors of Jezebel have flat-out refused to provide trigger warnings for any of their content in the past, so it’s no surprise.
As I said in the response to the previous section, not reading these stories is not “ignoring” anything; again, these stories and perspectives have been studied to death.
Also note the cissexist language which erases non-binary folk who are assaulted.
Charlotte Shane put it well in a recent essay for The New Inquiry on moving past rape by being able to talk about it in non-victimizing terms:
And here we see Jezebel being utterly prescriptivist and suggesting that there is one right way to deal with rape or sexual violence, implying that those who have not moved to this point (or who cannot) are somehow wrong or flawed. If that is not rape apologism and victim-blaming then I don’t know what is.
The rest of this article is basically the same old, same old that has been said 1000000000 times before by anti rape/SA activists. The problem is not that there are these poor ol’ misunderstood rapists out there who just need to be heard; the problem is that people are not listening to the survivors and victims of these predators. All of the information is out there, and all of the research has been done. We just need to make it more widely known.
I leave you with my hierarchy of discussion when it comes to these issues (because for the sake of safety and protection of those who need it the most, there absolutely must be one in these situations):
- Close friends/family/peers of survivors
- Police, academics, other officials invested in anti SA work
- anyone who may have been missed
THAT is how a discussion on sexual violence should go. Those directly affected speak first and above all others, because they alone know the experience and can offer the most valuable insight. By talking over these people, you are devaluing the wisdom of their experiences and effectively contributing to how these people are not taken seriously.
Jezebel would ideally fall along 3 or 4 here, except they really don’t give a shit about these issues so it’s more like a 10; they are a business first and foremost, and their corporate ties and blatant racism, sexism, and transphobia have always been obvious.
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