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Does Anyone Know What Rape Is?

(TRIGGER warning: discussion of sex and rape).

When I was about 13 years old I read a story in a newspaper about a trial. A woman claimed she had been raped by her husband, and I – appallingly – furrowed my brow. How, I thought to myself, can a woman be raped by her husband?

It amazes me now that I thought that way. I don’t believe I hated women and I didn’t fully understand sex, but on some level I had developed an idea of women as secondary to men.

And I don’t think I got this from my parents. I picked it up from everywhere.

At 13 I didn’t know what rape was. And no-one ever told me, I had to work it out for myself. At the end of my teens I was still under the impression that rape was something done by monsters hiding in bushes. I probably thought it was something women didn’t need to worry about, as long as they took precautions. Their problem, not mine.

No-one ever taught me about sex either. I went to a Catholic school. Sex education took up one term of one year, a period of 3 months when I was 14. The syllabus included the dangers of drugs, alcohol, smoking and – bizarrely – road safety. The only thing I recall was watching a video of some naked babies running around. Some of them had penis’es and some of them had vaginas. The difference in sexual organs was based entirely on their gender.

Sex education came from my classmates, fervent, breathless chats with other boys about what they’d like to do to such-and-such girl.

Do to, not with.

I remember crowding around a porn magazine that someone had brought to the playground, aged perhaps 13. A woman, in ridiculously uncomfortable pose, peeling open her vagina. I remember feeling queasy, repulsed.

And young boys today have all of the internet, full of characterless women, playing the part of objects, existing solely for the pleasure of men. Ready to be used and degraded. Women, of course, are always degraded by sex.

I read a blog about the novel “Crimson Petal and the White”. A brilliant novel, whose central character is a Victorian era prostitute. A man left a comment, “I wonder if it would be so interesting from a male perspective”.

Because reading about a female lead character, understanding a woman’s motivations, feelings, thoughts, could that possibly be of interest to a man?

Women are inferior. Sex is something you do to them. Whatever they think doesn’t matter.

These are not ideas I’ve actively sought, but ideas I have actively had to reject. The world around me has done it’s absolute best to try to make me a misogynist.

And I don’t intend this as any sort of defense, but how is a boy meant to learn what a woman is or what it’s like to be a woman, or that it is even worth trying to find out?

Everyday Sexism is an important website. Every post should be put into a hat, and shaken, and 500 should be pulled out at random. Next, the 500 would all be put together at a big publishing house and made into a big book with a shiny cover. The book would be sent out to every school in the Country, to be read by every girl and boy.

If it happened, they would read things like this:

“I know an awful lot of my female friends have been raped, or nearly raped, and I know that an awful lot of my male friends find that terribly hard to believe.”

“I’m 16 and have been receiving sexist comments …since I was 13. Boys (in school) shout “rape!” if they see a girl in the corridor, loudly rate girls out of 10 while we walk past, look at Page 3 and compare girls to it…happens literally every day…”

“My little sister (15) asserted that if somebody claimed they had been raped they were “probably doing it for attention”, that if a girl wants to avoid being raped she shouldn’t go out in ‘slaggy’ clothes. I don’t know where she got this mentality from but that a 15-year-old girl is so ill-informed of the facts is a massive failure of our society.”

And some people would say: This is unsuitable for children. And I would say: Yes! Yes, it is. So lets make this the last generation that has to experience it.

I’ve read heartbreaking posts about women’s experience of rape and sexual assault. No-one ever talks about these things, except to warn women to moderate their behaviour to avoid it because it’s your problem, not ours.

I read these words from a woman who had been raped:

“During the ensuing 15 years, I sometimes referred to the event in my head as “semi-consensual sex.” It wasn’t rape because I hadn’t screamed, I believed. It wasn’t rape because I hadn’t told anyone, ever.”

By being so afraid to talk about sex and to talk about rape and to talk about what rape is, we have allowed, as a society, rape to happen. Rape is not a woman’s problem. We have a duty to educate both sexes about what rape is, and a duty – to women, to children, to everyone – to tell boys this:

“This is rape. Do not rape”.

Thank you to the following blogs for educating me:

About rape. 

And rape.

About slut-shaming

How rape culture hurts men too

(Trigger warnings for all).

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“Shame is the lie someone told you about yourself.”

~Anais Nin~

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Not too young to be Slut-Shamed

Amanda Todd got what she deserved, didn’t she? I’m sure we’d all feel sympathy for an innocent victim, but Amanda Todd couldn’t possibly have been innocent. Obviously she couldn’t. She was a girl for one thing.

What’s even worse: She was a girl who didn’t act the way a girl should act. Disgusting behavior, and just like these people, I’m sure you, dear reader, would never find yourself in the same situation. (MAJOR trigger warning).

Amanda appeared naked on a webcam, with a man. How could she possibly believe this was acceptable behavior? Obviously music videos depict women-as-sexual-objects as the norm. And advertising. And magazines. And films aimed at children. And the cosmetics industry. And the fashion world.

And yes, girls are made to feel that their worth as a human being lays in their appearance. But only by everything on TV and in the movies and in songs and on the internet and in the advertising that’s inescapable and in the views of huge numbers of people around the world. Only in those things.

So why did Amanda Todd act like a whore? Well, she was 13, and curious. (Yeah, she was one of “those” kind of girls). She visited webcam chat sites online. She met a man, an adult, and he told her that she was beautiful, perfect.

That’s an adult man talking to a 13 year old child, telling her she was beautiful. This, according to Amanda, made her feel good about herself. So when the adult man told her to show him her boobs, she made a bad decision.

A child, under pressure from an adult man, made a bad decision. Despicable, wasn’t she? She showed him her boobs.

I guess she wanted to feel good about herself. I guess she wanted to please the man, because that’s why women are here, right?

Wrong!

Well, not wrong. Obviously women are here to please men through their bodies, and we men have a right to look and touch. But women shouldn’t actually do those things because that makes you a whore. So don’t actually do it. Although, we will pressure you to do it, and we want you to do it, and we’ll be really nice to you before you do it. So do it, but don’t.

Simple. What about all of that is so hard for a 13 year old child to understand?

So Amanda did it and then the adult man blackmailed her. Put on a show for me or I’ll send your naked picture to everyone you know. And she didn’t, and he did.

There may be a crazy dimension somewhere where people felt pity for the blackmailed child pressured into posing nude, and anger and disgust at the manipulative, selfish adult man. But hurrah! We don’t live there!

Amanda Todd, at 13, had officially become a slut.

She moved schools. He re-posted the pictures on Facebook. She suffered anxiety attacks and depression. He set up a facebook page. She “did things to myself to make pain go away, because I’d rather hurt myself then someone else”. The students at her school called her a whore, relentlessly.

Then a boy was nice to her. He had a girlfriend but he said he really liked her. And she, lonely and 15, believed him. Because she wanted to believe that somebody liked her.

A lonely child wanted to believe that somebody liked her.

And his girlfriend found out. And she didn’t blame him.

The girlfriend didn’t blame her boyfriend because that’s what guys do! We’re just being guys! Amanda was the slut because Amanda was a girl. That’s, like, basic science!

She heard a boy shout “just punch her already” and Amanda was knocked down.

So, Amanda drank bleach. She was fifteen, and she drank some bleach. A 15 year old child voluntarily ingested bleach. Amanda Todd drank bleach.

And lots of girls and boys posted on her Facebook how they hoped she’d died. And how she deserved it.

Kids say the funniest things!

But also, children learn so quickly. Here were all these boys and girls and already they’d learned to police and judge the actions of a female. Already these spirited youngsters had created a narrow and confused set of rules for girls to live by. Isn’t it incredible.

Amanda didn’t die from the bleach. She killed herself a month later. I guess the loneliness, and the hatred and the vicious words all became too much for her.

And after she died she got some more hatred and vicious words. It was her own fault. Where were her parents? I certainly wouldn’t have done that! Where was her self-respect?

So Ladies and Gentlemen. We have now reached the point when adult men can prey on children online and collectively we choose to slut shame the children. Congratulations everyone. What a wonderful world.

Amanda Todd did not deserve any of the things she suffered. You and I, dear reader, may disagree on many things and that’s fine. But if you can watch her Youtube video and feel not a shred of sympathy, feel no sadness, feel no anger at the putrid, spineless, vindictive little shit of a man who began all of this, you surprise me.

If you can watch it all and blame her, then I’m sorry that I share a world with you.

Amanda Todd. RIP.

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”

Voltaire

Odd, but Good

After four months of WordPress being blocked – the downside of living under a Communist regime – WordPress has miraculously returned, and so have I. Vietnam is still home for the time being, with travelling and teaching taking up most of my time.

Life has been good. I’ve even stumbled upon two women who, despite possessing ample good taste and intelligence in all other affairs, managed to fall for what could laughably be described as “my charms”.

The first of these two encounters was good for me. It was almost ten years since my lips had touched the lips of anyone other than M, and at the risk of sounding hopelessly pathetic it was a relief to find someone who wished to be intimate with me. Infidelity is a crushing blow, and it did crush me. I don’t think I’d realized quite how much.

I won’t go into details, obviously, other than to say I have never been with a woman who didn’t have the common decency to fake it. Am I getting to grips with the whole bragging thing yet?

The second woman, lets call her G, is an ongoing relationship. The same age as me, married within a month of me, unmarried at almost the same time, and with the same insane notion of fleeing her home Country to teach in Southeast Asia. So we have a few things in common.

We aren’t together together. Devastatingly atrocious endings to marriages tends to put you off the couple thing, but we do some of the things together that couples like to do.

She’s interesting, and laid-back, funny and good to talk to. She has good stories, and a laconic, dry way of telling them.

Like the Japanese couple in Indonesia, who complained very politely of a lizard in their room. The receptionist explained that geckos were everywhere, that they got into rooms and that little could be done to stop them but in any case, they were quite harmless. The couple listened, nodded, meekly returned to their room.

Only after they checked out next day did the cleaner discover the Komodo dragon in the bathroom.

I’ve had no contact with M, other than one picture of her on Facebook, on her birthday, in a restaurant. She’s sat next to a man I don’t know. A colleague? Lover? I don’t know. More importantly, I don’t particularly care.

I want to hope it is a boyfriend and that she’s happy and well, and in time I will. But for the moment, not caring is progress. I’m getting over her. Odd, but good.

Which, on a good day, is probably the best review I can expect from a woman with whom I’ve been intimate.

(Forgive my macho boasting).

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