This is Rape Culture

Note: The original post, which linked to a post at Jezebel about a question asked at Metafilter by a woman who had been raped by her boyfriend, has been removed.  I have never removed a post before,  and so the decision was hard and I still feel conflicted about it.  However, after learning about how the Jezebel bloggers have treated the woman — the background of which you can read in the still preserved comments — and how they have not allowed her to speak about her own experience, it makes me feel that I cannot leave it up in good conscience.  No matter how I personally felt or feel about the post itself, the woman in question feels that it is doing her harm, and I have no right to say otherwise.  And no matter how I feel about her other statements and reasoning, if there is any chance that this post was doing her damage, I want no part it in it.

In the very off chance that the woman in question reads this, I sincerely apologize if the original post hurt you in any way.  And I wish you the absolute best with your decision, and all throughout your future.

0 thoughts on “This is Rape Culture

  1. frau sally benz

    I don’t really even know what to say. How can people admit that she didn’t consent but not view that as rape? And for the people who do acknowledge that it’s indeed rape, why is it so hard to then say “you know what, leave that jackass!”?? It’s as if the commenters (and people who think like them) think being alone is, somehow, worse than being with somebody who would disrespect and violate you. I just don’t understand. I don’t get it…

    Reply
  2. Rachel S.

    Ha. Um, first of all, the boyfriend in question obviously doesn’t know anything about anal sex because that is emphatically not something you “surprise” someone with. So, he’s not only stupid, he sexually assaulted his girlfriend (whom he professes to love) after she told him no. Big mistake. Relationship deal breaker. Rape. Maybe not police-report-and-press-charges worthy (which would be up to her and I make no judgment either way), but rape nonetheless.

    I wish people would tell this woman that she is not over-reacting. She’s not. I don’t think there is such a thing as over-reaction to sexual assault, especially considering that people who tell rape victims that they are over-reacting are just trying to minimize what happened at the expense of the victim. And that’s just not okay. Everyone deals with sexual assault in their own way and your emotional response should be based on what you feel rather than what people think about what happened or tell you to think about what happened.

    Reply
  3. karak

    If he had done that to her vagina, instead of her ass, she would know that it was rape and that the boyfriend is, at best, a selfish, stupid person who presents a danger, or at worst, a rapist and batterer trying to break her down.

    Either way, it’s time to leave. Just because someone isn’t “malicious” as the comment says, doesn’t mean they’re not DANGEROUS.

    Reply
  4. Sarah

    I read this earlier today and was horrified.

    That “heat of the moment” thing is absolute garbage as he admitted he wanted to surprise her and clearly set it up with the massage so that she’d be in a position to allow him to do what she not only had not given consent to but had expressly said she was not interested in.

    Not OK.

    Reply
  5. Sarah

    I should add that the “heat of the moment” argument would, of course, be garbage even if he hadn’t set it up. The heat of the moment is not a defense for rape.

    Reply
  6. belledame222

    Puke. Sorry, no excuse. Shoving something up one’s ass =! people surprising you for your goddam birthday. which he knew perfectly well. yeah, “malice” has nothing to do with it: it’s selfishness, pure and simple. Guess what: that’s still RAPE.

    Reply
  7. belledame222

    and yeah, what Sarah said, it does sound very clearly premeditated. But even if -somehow- it wasn’t, it’s still. sexual assault. rape. what you will. she is NOT overreacting.

    Reply
  8. Bene

    I…should not have gone and read those comments, because they make me hate everything. I’m particularly disturbed by the apologia, but also by the sheer normativity of the definitions of ‘rape’.

    I really have nothing to add, but I felt I had to comment.

    Reply
  9. Paul

    Those commentators on that Meta Filter thread are “wastes of eggs and sperm” to quote the late Kurt Cobain (he coined the phrase after a woman got raped during a Nirvana concert – while the band was playing an anti-rape song!)

    Even though we’re trapped in an ocean, use those teaspoons everybody

    Reply
  10. Pingback: Being Amber Rhea » Blog Archive » links for 2009-03-20

  11. Turtle Wexler

    A note from the person who wrote the initial post.

    I was unable to articulate the full context of what happened in that post, and I since regret that my boyfriend’s actions have been interpreted as they were.
    I was raped, by the standard definition of the word, but it was not, in my opinion, out of malice. I know this man better than anyone, and I will be staying in this relationship with him and working it out.

    I would greatly appreciate it if you could clarify this in your post somehow, or if you could remove the post. I know that I put it on the internet for everyone to see, but still, out of decency, I am asking you to please consider my request. This is not as cut-and-dry as it seems.

    A response from Megan:

    I wish you luck in what you’ve chosen to do.
    We don’t remove posts, but my editor agreed to post a portion of your email tomorrow as we’re done publishing for the day today to alert readers of your response.

    And a second response from Megan (not to the victim, to a third party):

    you can tell her that since she decided to post our correspndence elsewhere I wont be posting it as an update to Jezebel.

    Say what you want about the story, the people at Jezebel have behaved atrociously to the victim here.

    Reply
    1. Cara Post author

      I agree that it would have been the most respectful thing for them to post the updates, and that the “done publishing for the day” line is bullshit. I further agree with the commenters that Megan’s response regarding this already being posted elsewhere indicates that she is out looking for page hits more than the victim.

      At the same time, I’m unsure what the woman exactly wanted “clarified.” That she had made a decision? Well, okay. But that the man in question “didn’t do it out of malice” and is therefore, well, forgivable? I certainly understand wishing on a supposedly feminist blog (I do admittedly have a lot of problems with Jezebel) to not buy into that. I believe in allowing victims to define their own experiences. I don’t believe in furthering rape apologist myths in the process of doing so.

      On the subject of her decision itself, I’m having trouble writing this because my heart is in the process of breaking. Not because I’m surprised. Not because I blame her for it and think that she’s stupid. But because I have been there and made the same decision, and it breaks my heart. It breaks my heart. I want to write a letter to her, but I do not have her email address. I would write her a public letter, but, she has requested privacy. And so, I imagine that I will just say here that I wish her all the best. And I hope that she stays safe, and that somehow, somehow, things turn out differently and better for her.

      Reply
  12. ilyka

    Say what you want about the story, the people at Jezebel have behaved atrociously to the victim here.

    Agreed without qualifiers. This has happened before. It didn’t turn out well then and it isn’t going to turn out well now.

    Ugh.

    Reply
    1. Cara Post author

      This has happened before. It didn’t turn out well then and it isn’t going to turn out well now.

      What happened before? I don’t follow Jezebel at all. Actually, I really dislike Jezebel as a general rule, to be perfectly honest. I only saw this post because someone shared it on Google Reader. And at the time, it seemed like a good and supportive post.

      Reply
  13. Turtle Wexler

    Her email address is available via the original Ask Metafilter post, fwiw.

    I agree, actually, with you about this: getting to define your own experiences doesn’t mean that if your SO beats you up without consent it’s suddenly BDSM. What happened is rape.

    I have trouble imagining how it wasn’t done out of some kind of malice. I do think that major counselling — for them each separately and together — is called for, especially as she has decided to stay with him. (I do understand giving someone a second chance. I just hope that she is right, that she never has cause to give him a third, and a fourth.)

    My problem with Jezebel is that they are taking someone else’s story — a new, raw, painful story — and telling it in words she disavows, and not allowing her to have input on it. Just don’t pretend to be feminist, if you do that. (I’m not sure why people really read Jezebel as feminist, frankly. Individual posts often are, but the general gist of it is a very limited version of the idea at best.)

    There are lots of ways that post could have been done respectfully, but none of them were taken.

    I do not see any reading of “we will not let you have any say in your story, the one we edited without your say either” that shows that Megan and the editors at Jezebel care at all for the victim, except as a way to earn money.

    Reply
    1. Cara Post author

      Her email address is available via the original Ask Metafilter post, fwiw.

      Yeah, but I don’t know that any of what I have to say would actually be considered helpful by her, rather than intrusive. Or condemning of her decision, even though it certainly would not be my intent.

      I don’t know what to do at this point. I’m seriously considering just deleting this post. I put it up because I was so upset that this man did this to his girlfriend, and that other people were justifying and excusing his rape, and because I wanted to be a voice that is on her side. And now I don’t know that she would see this as being on her side at all. It’s a fine line to walk in situations of relationship violence between being supportive of a victim’s decisions without promoting them, and recognizing fully that this is the violent party’s fault without putting the victim on the defensive in his favor (which she already seems to be), and supporting a victim without speaking for her, and I can’t say that I’m skilled at doing it.

      This has all been very triggering and difficult for me and I’m feeling emotionally spent.

      Reply
  14. Turtle Wexler

    Cara, I don’t think you did anything wrong in this post. It’s a fine line to walk — so fine that sometimes it’s not even there, and there’s no perfect post. I wanted to share the response with you because I believe that you feel it’s important to take the victim’s choices in mind, and I think referencing or linking to the Jezebel post is not in her best interests. That said, commenting about the (uneven and weird) response at Ask Metafilter — not her story, the comments — seems ok to me. Of course, if you feel you want to take it down, it’s also a fine move.

    Reply
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  16. ilyka

    Oh Cara, it was a beautiful post. It IS a beautiful post. I understand your concern (and that you have that concern is filed in a very thick folder I keep called “Reasons Why I Heart Cara,”) but honestly, nothing here comes off as “ew” to me. Of course, I’m not this woman, either. I don’t know. I guess I just hate that you’re further upset by it all, and I want you to know that I think your intent was pure.

    Reply
  17. ilyka

    Oh well SHIT now what do I do about mine?–I quoted you! Just your remarks about the MeFi comments, but–aarrgh. Please tell me what you would prefer me to do and I’ll do it.

    Reply
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  19. Emily

    I just want to thank you guys for being respectful of the woman who posted the question.
    I can’t imagine being in her situation, trying to get some advice on a painful and difficult event, and becoming (against her wishes) a sort of internet phenomenon. I think you handled this with compassion and classiness; I wish I could say the same for Jezebel.

    Reply
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  21. m

    The comments make me sick. How can anyone think that this type of treatment is acceptable? Rape culture sure has been integrating itself into society.

    I used to read Jezebel, stopped after getting fed up with their women-hating posts. Here are a couple examples, to support what I wrote.

    Reese Witherspoon
    http://jezebel.com/5063311/reese-witherspoon-in-vogue-like-tracy-flick-only-wealthier–more-annoying

    Ann Curry
    http://jezebel.com/5026680/its-official-the-today-show-is-making-me-crazy

    Well, at least they give reasons why they’re dumb, annoying, and the absolute worst. (Please read the latter sentence as sarcasm.)

    Reply

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