Category Archives: Rape Culture

Moving Through Male Violence

It’s really not that often I just post a link, mainly because it’s really not that often that something makes my heart sink slowly and swim in my stomach for a half hour or so. But this piece by Lidia Yuknavitch, is one such thing.

‘When my father raised his hand to me in our garage at eighteen, I said, “Do it.”

‘When the poet punched me in the nose in my pick-up truck at a stop light, I said, “Get the fuck out of my car or I will kill you.” And I meant it.

‘I’m telling you this because I know I’m not the only one who came of age like this. Up and through male violence. ‘I’m telling you because there are all the things that need to be done “out there” to stop it. But then there are also all the things that needed to be done in me. To stop it.

‘Listen, these are not the sad stories. Worse things happened to me. Those aren’t the sad stories either. These stories don’t carry the pathos to signify culturally in my culture. These stories I’m telling you are commonplace. That’s the point. They just happen and you live them and as you go you have to decide who you want to be.’

Read it. If you don’t marvel at the courage of the woman who can write this kind of truth, and want to invite her round for a cup of tea at the same time, I’ll be amazed.

Via Feministing.
Read it.


Rape Crisis Christmas Campaign

God, it depresses me to even write that title.  A specific, Yuletide anti-rape message is not the first thing that springs to mind when thinking about the ‘festive’ time of year, is it?  Y’know, cards, presents, eggnog, targetted posters reminding men that rape isn’t nice despite the presence of mistletoe.  For shit.

Does rape become more prevalent around this time of year?  I’ve no idea – and I couldn’t find any stats that suggested whether that was the case or not – but I suppose there’s just more instances of women going out, getting drunk, having fun, needing reigning in, needing jack-booting back to the kitchen…

Oh, I’m being curmudgeonly.  Possibly.  Well, see what you think:

[brought to my attention by Too Much to Say for Myself]

So, you see, the campaign has one, huge, huge, thing going for it.

It doesn’t victim blame.  Even if only, specifically, for drinking.

It doesn’t victim blame.  I find it difficult to be pissed at any rape campaign which doesn’t actively blame the victim.  You know?

But there has been criticism.  We, feminists, as the Daily Mail will tell you, are never fucking happy.

My own personal criticism is that whilst it holds the victims not to blame – my, how far we’ve come! – the campaign appears to uphold another, very important rape culture myth: that only young, attractive, patriarchal-compliant women get raped.  Oh, and apparently, only white women get raped – who knew, right?

Ugly women – whether ‘ugly’ because they’re old, or fat, or hairy or disabled, or whatever – these women do not get raped.  Right?  I don’t even need to tell you the myth I’m talking about, right?

That rape happens because men can’t control their penis in the face of an attractive young piece of tail in a vest top.  That one.  That when ‘ugly’ women get raped, they don’t get raped, they get lucky.  Because who would, otherwise, want to fuck that?  More, that when ‘ugly’ women get raped, they don’t actually get raped, because who would want to fuck that at all?

That when ‘ugly’ women get raped, they don’t actually get raped, because they are fantasising, because who would want to fuck that?

So, am I being curmudgeonly?  Or should I accept that a step forward is at least a fucking step forward?

That, my friends, is the essential dilemna of the feminist curmudgeon.


Today Aims High

You will of course know this: today is the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

I of course knew this, but what with one thing or another, it had slipped my mind.  ‘One thing or another’ for me, today, not including direct violence against me.  Is this privilege or just luck?

This, according to the UN, is the problem:

Violence against women and girls takes many forms and is widespread throughout the globe. It includes rape, domestic violence, harassment at work, abuse in school, female genital mutilation and sexual violence in armed conflicts. It is predominantly inflicted by men.’

What does that discription miss out?  I’ve been thinking of all the violence against women which is not spelt out there.  I’ve come up with a lot of stuff, but I’ll just leave you with one, in the words of somebody far more eloquent by me on the subject:

There is nothing safe for the women in porn, or for those who are pushed by their partners to emulate the painful and unsafe practices porn promotes. Porn treats women as disposable -literally, it fucks them over, and then moves onto ‘fresh pussy’.

Porn is also everywhere – it is now mainstream. How can we be so blind as to miss the glaring contradiction between promoting safe sex practices and glorifying porn? The two are totally incompatible.

The words ‘safe’ and ‘pornography’ don’t even belong in the same sentence. Porn damages – body, mind and spirit. Fact. I’m still working on unknotting the damage it’s done me.’ [by Angel K at Surviving]


Women Run the World but Have Really Odd Priorities

Symbol of feminist oppression

Seriously.  If there’s one thing your average MRAer will tell you without even being asked – or even being on topic – it’s that women, by and large of the feminist persuasion, actually run the world.  Coo, I bet they felt good when Beyonce released that Run the World shit; she’d let the secret out!

That of course is why she had to fall ‘pregnant'; as punishment for showing those MRAs that they’d been right all along, the World Feminist Council forced her to retreat from global super-pop stardom into her kitchen making endless batches of blueberry muffins and practising saying ‘I find motherhood far more satisfying than global super-pop stardom and I never again will suggest erroneously that women run anything other than their mouths, gossipy things that we are’ with a modicum of conviction.  Any minute now, people.

OK, I’m joking.  There is no World Feminist Council except the one in my head (which I’m in charge of, by the way; ain’t no collectivist power shit in my WFC because I know best, hurumph!)

But the really odd thing is that whilst we run the world, instead of crowing about it (as MRAs will tell you we’re prone to doing) and using our power to bring in policies to, oh I don’t know, dismantle capitalism, fight global poverty, make abortion universally available, enforce equal pay legislation, force men to walk around for a day in those newly fashionable ‘stripper’ 7 inch platform heels and then see if it’s even possible to find them ‘sexy’, or, oh, you know, something remotely feminist or even just woman-ist, we instead choose to exercise our power covertly – going so far as to not only deny we have power but to set up a small contingent of women to whine about our lack of power (cunning, cunning!) – and in the frankly oddest of ways.

Yes, we could put an end to a culture of rape and domination, stop domestic violence in its tracks, or outlaw ‘Shipwrecked’, but instead we put…flashing lights on school buses in the States.  Oh, and paint them yellow.  Both of these things are how we turn school buses into symbols of feminist oppression.  Don’t look at me, I’m not the one making this shit up.  So with thanks to Manboobz for the biggest laugh I’ve had all day:

School Buses: A Symbol of Women Dominating Men and Boys

Now what I want to know – and I will be addressing the WFC with this later – is why?  What end of the feminist revolution is served by turning buses into symbols of gender oppression?  Answers on a postcard.


This is Why Even if I had A Squillion Pounds I Still Wouldn’t Subscribe to the Sunday Times

[This post talks about rape]

Even if all the other papers in the world ran article after article admitting defeat and extolling the virtues of the Sunday Times and confirmed, repeatedly, that the Sunday Times ran the best articles in the history of journalism and that people who didn’t read it ate their own bogies for Sunday lunch and peed in cat litter not because they couldn’t afford a toilet but because they preferred it.  Even if every paper in the world declined to report any news at all except the news that the Sunday Times was the best paper in the world.  I.  Still. Wouldn’t.

I am, of course, over-stating the case, because I can find the following crap in virtually any newspaper in the world (excuses for copying it all out here; the Times paywall prohibits a simple link*):

…I have no strong feelings about Julian Assange, who in the past few weeks has become the softest of targets.  Perhaps this is why I am growing so tired of women of my acquaintance boldly stating that Assange is a rapist, a misogynist and a danger to women.

‘Here’s what I think: if somebody stalks you at a party, tweets about how excited they are to be with you, invites you into their bed and has sex with you, then it is perfectly reasonable for you to assume that they quite like you.

‘If you assume that they quite like you, then you may also assume that they would not be sickened to their very soul by a repeat performance in the morning.  You may be assuming wrongly; you may have made a wrong call; you may be slightly autistic and bad at reading the signals; you may have rubbish manners.  Certainly, you should have asked first.  But the idea that your making this assumption is a sickening, woman-hating enormity is ridiculous.  Being grabbed by a stranger and raped behind a tree is a sickening enormity, and to say the two are comparable is a piece of stupidity.

‘The Assange case isn’t about domination or misogyny.  It’s about assuming that a person who has sex with you  is quite into you.  I’d say that wasn’t such a giant assumption to make.

Well, I hear you ask: where to start?  Because even for a rape culture, India Knight has taken the ‘not rape rape’ argument to dizzying heights by referring to a specific case and then totally ignoring the specifics of the specific case.

But for starters.

I’m as certain as certain that others – far more eloquent than I – have already made this analogy, but clearly, it bears repeating.

I like chocolate cake. Many a time, I have eaten a piece in front of a gentleman of my acquaintance, even in front of relative strangers.  Sometimes, in a spirit of making conversation with people I barely know but have found myself partaking of high tea with, I have made a ”Hmm, yuum’ sound and baldly stated what a particularly lovely piece of cake it was.

Not one of said gentleman has ever taken that as his cue to grab the rest of the cake and start ramming it down my throat.

And if one ever did, I’m pretty sure that not one person of my acquaintaince would shake their head and say, ‘Well, you did say you really liked the cake.  And it’s not like he forced you to eat fruit cake.’

Is this making anything clearer?  If only for the food-lovers amongst us?

Then let’s deal with the revelation – thanks, India! – that to count, rape has to sicken you to your very soul.  It’s news to me, too, but if you somehow manage, by sheer force of will, to deny a rapist the ability to detroy your life absolutely, then well, just shut the fuck up!  Your soul is not sickened!  Be off with you!  Stop wasting police time, loser! 

Now, I’d hate to turn into Ms Analogy or anything, but.

My car’s been stolen!  Am I upset?  No, not really.  I wasn’t very attached to it to be honest and I never liked the colour and I don’t need it for work and I don’t drive it very much and, frankly between you and me, I’m glad to see the back of it.  What do you mean I shouldn’t report the theft then?  Are you fucking insane?  IT’S STILL A FUCKING CRIME TO STEAL MY CAR REGARDLESS OF HOW MUCH I’M GOING TO BE AFFECTED BY IT!’

Seriously, any clearer?

And then let’s segue into the particular facts of the case in question, in so far as we ‘know’ them.  It’s been fairly well established by now that both women involved had consensual sex with Assange; indeed one of the woman spoke to a Swedish newspaper and stated:

In both cases, the sex had been consensual from the start but had eventually turned into abuse.’

It’s also fairly well established one of the women’s complaint was that Assange had had sex with her without using a condom, despite her telling him he had to use one.  It’s also fairly well established that the whole formal rape allegations arose when she sought advice as to whether she could legally require Assange to take HIV and STD tests.

So  let’s talk ‘sickening enormity’.  Because according to Knight – thanks, India! – somebody raping you who you’ve previously had sex with is not a sickening enormity.  Being raped by somebody entirely new who does it behind a tree is.  Got that?  Good.  I’m assuming the logic here is that, somehow, once you’ve allowed access to a penis, well, what’s one more time?  I’m assuming that even though it seems insane, but is the only assumption that fits.

But here, the essential nature of the assault had nothing to do with the familiarity of the penis in question and everything to do with what it was wearing.  Or not.  What it wasn’t wearing leading to the very real possibility (Assange is, according to some ‘acquaintances’, very promiscuous), that the woman had contracted HIV or any other of a wide range of STDs.  Would being given HIV count as a ‘sickening enormity’?  Would HIV count, but not genital herpes?  I’m fucking glad it’s not me policing the line of ‘sickening enormity’, India!  Would the months of worry about the possibility of contracting HIV before a test could be definitive count?  Questions, questions, India!  I am laying money that you don’t have the answers because these questions flow from your basic premise and your basic premise was fucking stupid.

All this from only four paragraphs.  Fitting such vast amounts of stupidity into such a small space is contortionist stupidity and shouldn’t be attempted at home.

*At this point you may be asking yourself how I managed to read this article, the answer being that certain people of my ‘acquaintance’ (and I use the term loosely) read the bloody thing.


Amber Cole

I am not in the least zeitgeisty.

I’d go so far as to say that if we take the Wiki definition of zeitgeist as being ‘the general cultural, intellectual, ethical, spiritual, and/or political climate within a nation or even specific groups, along with the general ambiance, morals, sociocultural direction, and mood associated with an era’ then I’m so far out of being zeitgeisty that I am, in fact the Anti-Zeitgeist.  All hail and tremble before me, trendy people!

From not understanding the point of Twitter to not knowing my Pop Idol from my X-Factor from my Britain’s Got Talent, to being unable to order a Happy Meal, I am not of the moment.  When younger, this used to cause me some discomfort (‘Why?  Why?? WHY??? can’t I be normal??!?), but not now.  Now I’ve realised that it’s the rest of the fucking world which is loop-juice fucking crazy.

Which partially explains why I’ve only just come across Amber Cole, but more importantly explains why I just don’t get how people – and I mean everybody, people! – can’t see how fucked up this whole thing is.  How people can’t hear about what has happened to Amber Cole and to a fucking person understand how fucked up it is that:

A 14 year old girl gives a blow job to make a guy like her.

That she does it whilst being watched by another guy.

That the recipient is happy to receive a blow job while being watched by another guy.

That the watcher videos the whole thing.

That the watcher and/or recipient puts the whole thing up on the internet.

That people don’t immediately recognise, when they stumble on the video, that they are watching, at best, a form of child sexual abuse.

That those people don’t immediately notify the site showing the video and the site don’t immediately pull it.

That, instead, people actually discuss at great length, the girl’s sexual technique.

That, instead, people actually discuss at great length, what a complete and utter fucking slut/whore/ho the girl is.

That, instead, people actually discuss at great length, how she’s some nasty-assed black girl who lets down her race and gives black women a bad name.

That people never talk about the nasty-assedness of the boys involved.

That people never talk about where the fuck these boys‘ morals have come from.

That people never talk about where the fuck these boys‘ parents were.

Fucked up.  And you wonder why I’m not at all concerned about being normal anymore.  Ha!

And that’s just the misogyny.

I read about Amber Cole via Womanist Musings (not Twitter, obvs – waaaay too zeitgeisty), which also accuses the white feminist community of ignoring Amber Cole.

When I wrote about this last week, a commenter brought up the issue of lack of coverage of the incident in the feminist sphere.

‘I know that as bloggers, we have limited resources and we have to make careful consideration over what we bring attention to, but the glaring silence about Amber Cole is painful. Black women have spoken up in droves to claim #teamambercole, as a method of rejecting the slut shaming and the cyber bullying involved in this incident.

‘The silence of our supposed White female activist allies speaks loudly.’

Given that the only reference in white-feminist-spaces I could find was to a frankly jaw-dropping piece on Jezebel, entitled ‘I am Amber Cole’s Father’ by somebody who isn’t (but who actually says shit like ‘where was her mother?’ – read this to get a flavour without having to actually eat any of it), I would have to agree.  Sure, some people will miss it (like, er, me), some people will just be holiday that week, some people will have spilled coffee on their computer…but, no one?  Really?

Every time something about women doesn’t get reported (like, oh, every day for, oh, the last however long since people first communicated via drawings on cave walls…have I mentioned Women\’s Views on News?), I immediately think ‘Really?  Really?  Are you frickin’ kidding me?  Sexism, much?’

I’m thinking that now, only ending with ‘Racism, much?’

I get that feminism tends to be dominated by white women and I get that white privilege still seems to get in the way of white feminists understanding that it’s not enough to simply say, ‘well, why don’t women of colour just get involved then, yada, yada?’ and that there is an active obligation on the movement to create a safe space to welcome those women, whilst said feminists simultaneously insist that the Patriarchy creates a safe space for them.  I don’t like it, but I get it.

But are white feminists really so wrapped in privilege that we really don’t see that what has happened with Amber Cole is more important to speak about because it happened to a black girl than to a white one?  Because Amber Cole is being shamed not only as a female but as a black female?  Because black women are essentially, again, being told to shut up about sexism because they’ll ‘divide’ the anti-racism movement?  Like women of all colours are being told vis-a-vis the Occupy movement?  People, this shit is all connected!

‘...if Black women don’t stand beside [Amber Cole] and declare that cyber bullying is absolutely wrong, and that slut shaming a young girl for failing to make a wise decision is indefensible, then no one will.

‘The only people we can reliably count on is each other. I have been told many times since I started Womanist Musings that my approach is divisive, and that I cause harm to the delicate fabric of female solidarity.

‘If being angry at being neglected, when we are so clearly being attacked is considered divisive, then you don’t really have a vested interest in women.’

I can only really agree.  I mean, jeez, I’m still a novice when it comes to examining my own privilege but surely white feminists everywhere have at least read a bit of bell hooks?  Surely?


More Visual. For the Stupider Amongst Us.

via The Things I Do In Anonymity


Rape – An Analogy

Via  Femblr.

A Modern Sexual-Assault Tale

Man: Hello, I’d like to report a mugging.

Officer: A mugging, eh? Where did it take place?

Man: I was walking by 21st and Dundritch Street and a man pulled out a gun and said, “Give me all your money.”

Officer: And did you?

Man: Yes, I co-operated.

Officer: So you willingly gave the man your money without fighting back, calling for help or trying to escape?

Man: Well, yes, but I was terrified. I thought he was going to kill me!

Officer: Mmm. But you did co-operate with him. And I’ve been informed that you’re quite a philanthropist, too.

Man: I give to charity, yes.

Officer: So you like to give money away. You make a habit of giving money away.

Man: What does that have to do with this situation?

Officer: You knowingly walked down Dundritch Street in your suit when everyone knows you like to give away money, and then you didn’t fight back. It sounds like you gave money to someone, but now you’re having after-donation regret. Tell me, do you really want to ruin his life because of your mistake?

Man: This is ridiculous!

Officer: This is a rape analogy. This is what women face every single day when they try to bring their rapists to justice.

Man: Fuck the patriarchy.

Officer: Word.


Not Rape

I don’t know much about Bristol Palin (‘cept I heard she did something weird to her chin lately?), but I did read about her experience of losing her virginity, via Persephone.

I may not know much about Bristol Palin, but I do know about not rape.

I’m guessing I know as much about not rape as every other woman.  You know, too.

Those incidents in which, whatever else may or may not be true, consent is not freely given by the woman, but neither is it expressly not given.  Those situations where the equation is not ‘I want to = consent’  but is torn and complicated until the actual equation is twisted beyond all recognition, but can be read as ‘I didn’t want to = consent, because I couldn’t, didn’t know how to stop it and didn’t even know I should try‘.

As a child, as a teenager, I stumbled along the path to sexual maturity with as little knowledge about what consent really meant as any woman.  Incident upon incident of utterly normal experiences that were more or less distasteful to me, sure, but which it never, not once, occured to me to object to, not even on an experience-by-experience basis never mind on a this-whole-thing-is-fucked-up basis.

Experiences which left me feeling weird and disconnected but which were entirely within what I had learnt – by cultural osmosis – were normal.

Experiences I wasn’t sure I wanted to have at that time, with that person, and which, some way through, I just wanted to end, all the while understanding that it wasn’t for me to end them.

Experiences which I had learnt were how sexual experiences were for girls.  We weren’t supposed to want them, despite what may or may not have been stirring in our underwear.  Our own stirrings were, according to the model taught, irrelevant.

Girls couldn’t want these experiences, that wasn’t allowed, but we had to have them if we thought it was necessary; necessary to avoid being frigid, but without being a slag.  It was a fine line which was impossible to walk, but which girls had to walk nonetheless.

This – this pressure, this coersion, this mocking, this assault – was just the way it was for girls.  Girls didn’t want sex, boys did.  Girls did what boys wanted whilst trying to stay on the tightrope of what was necessary.

And still, this is just the way it is for girls.  Still, still, still girls are taught only one thing: they are to resist sexual adventures otherwise they are sluts, but they have to accept sexual adventures otherwise they are frigid.  The model is resistance, then collapse.  But only in the right circumstances, tut tut.

It is the way of things, they are taught.

It took me until my early thirties – way after my full conversion to feminism – to finally see my early sexual incidents for what they were.  They were acts inflicted upon me.  Acts which I knew I had to resist just as I knew I had to capitulate to them.  But object to this rock-and-a-hard-place shit?  Well, that took me a long time to realise.

I forgive my slow realisation.  Uncontested paradigms are fucking difficult things to see through.  Fish live in water without once thinking, Fuck, I’m wet.  Like the time I, aged five, stood on a wasp and my grandma, who just happened to be making Yorkshire pudding, lovingly applied the batter mix to the sole of my foot, having told me (and ergo convinced me totally) , that Yorkshire pudding batter healed wasp stings.  Years and years and years after a time when, had I given it a moment’s thought, I would have realised instantly that she was fibbing, I still held the idea in my head that Yorkshire pudding batter healed wasp stings.  You trust in something and you believe in it totally until someone calls it different and you actually think about it, connect the dots in your head, and the scales fall from your eyes.

These sexual experiences weren’t rape, not by any legal definition and not by my own definition and not by the definition of millions of women and girls who are having them still, and who still have no words to describe them.  Whatever you are willing to call them, however, is almost less important than what they were not.

And what they were not was about me.  They were not about my sexuality, not about my sexual blooming.  My sexual journey began and ended with knowing when to say yes while trying to still say no.  They were not about my desire, my emotions, my life.

They had nothing to do with me.  What is really fucked up is that it never occured to me that they should.

In her review of (among others) Caitlin Moran’s new book, How to be a Woman , Zoe Williams, says:

‘It ought to be obvious, beyond remarking, that a woman should be able to sleep with whom she wants, when she wants, as often as she wants, without danger and without shame.’

Which is laughable given how non-obvious that idea currently is, but it is also a beautiful thought, simply expressed, isn’t it?

But here’s the kicker to what is such a simple and beautiful thought: girls and young women are not, either in our society or elsewhere, given the tools to understand the underlying basis of that concept.  They are not taught to understand how to want.

Nothing in what they learn teaches girls to think through exactly what it means, in a sexual context, to want something.  They are taught instead that ‘wanting sex’ is about wanting many things but it is not about wanting sex.  She ‘wants sex’ because otherwise she’s the only virgin in her class, or because she knows having sex makes her look ‘hot’, or because her boyfriend will dump her if she doesn’t.  Or she doesn’t ‘want sex’ because then she’s a sl*t (quite, quite different to looking ‘hot’), or because her father will kill her if she does, or because she may get pregnant.

Because of any of a million extraneous reasons, a girl’s want of sex is not about ‘want’ at all.  It is about not wanting.  Not wanting to be a sl*t, not wanting to be frigid, not wanting to be different.  Not only is Williams’ idea not the way ‘people’ think, it’s not even the way girls themselves think.  It especially isn’t the way girls think – nobody polices teenaged girls’ sexuality like other teenaged girls.

We give them no instruction in how to remove all these extraneous considerations from a desicion as to desire.  How to boil it down, clarify what their actual desire is, when the impurities of cultural mores are removed.  Hell, we don’t even teach them that they should desire.  We resolutely do not teach them how to say, I want this sexual experience because I desire the experience – this act with this person at this time – and I shall be joyful in it and it will reward me with not only sexual pleasure but with a deeper understanding of both myself and my desire.

Teaching Boogie and (and L’il Boo), the basic in-and-outs of sex education concerns me not at all.  I’ll teach them, they’ll learn.  Fuck, it’s biology, they’ll learn that by themselves, whichever way their biology takes them.  Teaching them about the whole fucked up mess of girls’ sexuality is where my teaching resources will be going.  My daughter will not grow up accepting these experiences.  She just won’t, goddammit.  She’ll kick not rape in the fucking throat and go about her business.


Mistress’s New Law No.4

With thanks to Kenneth Clarke for the inspiration.

Following on from his white guy patriarchal misogynistic rape apologist comments, we have Mistress’s New law No. 4.

Given that the current definition of consent seems to cause so much confusion (‘well, she didn’t cut my cock off, so she must’ve been OK with it’), Law N0.4 will bring some much needed clarity to the area.  Henceforth, a woman’s consent to any sexual act is to be defined in accordance with the principles put forward in Hole’s Asking for It.

Thus, in the event of any dispute as to whether valid consent was in fact given, the following questions will be posed:

Was she asking for it?

Was she asking nice?

If she was asking for it,

Did she ask you twice?

Subsequent to these requirements, anyone accused of rape or sexual assault must provide evidence that not only did the woman positively consent to the act in a happily enthusiastic fashion, she positively reiterated that consent a second time, just to make sure there would be no misunderstanding.  Failure to provide such evidence will lead to a presumption of no consent.

And yes, I realise this tips the current notion of consent on its head – silence will not be enough, I’m afraid, my ‘date’ raping friends – and it will lead to some written contract probably becoming normalised prior to any consensual sexual interaction, but this is a fucking revolution, my friends.  Change is kind of what it’s all about.


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