Tag Archives: rape culture

NPFP: A Big F*cking Mistake

Welcome to RMB’s Naked Pictures of Faceless People, a series of guest posts from diverse anonymous writers. (Read more about NPFP’s origins.) These are the posts that are jumping to get out of us, but for whatever reason — safety, embarrassment, conflict of interest, protection of loved ones’ reputations or feelings, or so on — we don’t or won’t or can’t post at our own blogs. Anyone, whether blogger or reader only, is welcome to submit or discuss a potential post by emailing me at arwyn at raisingmyboychick dot com.

Trigger Warning: There is a trigger warning on this post for rape and withdrawn consent.

The author sent it with this note: “I’m tempted to title it “A big fucking mistake,” simply because that’s literally what happened and I find that title humorous, except it doesn’t fit the tone of the post. Name it what you want.” I happen to have a similar black humor, a dearth of title ideas, and want to name it what the author wants, so:

A Big Fucking Mistake

I don’t even know how to start. So I’ll start with the hard part.

My husband raped me. But he’s not a rapist. Well, he is since that’s the definition of the word, but that’s not how I see him. To me, he’s very loving, soft-spoken, kind, respectful. Everything wonderful. Except one time, I wanted to stop, and he didn’t.

It was early in our relationship. We weren’t the adventurous kind, so needing a safe word never crossed our minds. Sometimes you get into positions that aren’t comfortable for both people and while I originally thought I couldn’t handle it, at some point, I wanted to change positions and so I told him to stop. But he didn’t. Because he was so close. But that shouldn’t even matter. Because I said stop and he didn’t and so he raped me.

Afterwards, he knew he shouldn’t have kept going. I felt betrayed, violated. I did not want to cuddle with him or talk to him. He apologized. He knew he crossed a line he shouldn’t. And he’s never done it again. And in the years since, we’ve become more open about communication and discussing sex. We’ve come up with a safe word because neither of us want that to happen again. I know it haunts him. He takes full responsibility, but he doesn’t know how to make up for it. I don’t know how to “fix” it either. He really is a good person who is gentle in every way. Except for that one time.

It makes my life as a feminist complicated. Because “no” means “no”. And we want to paint all rapists as bad and deserving to be on the sex offenders list. We want justice, we want it to never happen again. But then, there’s my husband. And he’s a rapist. But I’m not going to call the cops on him because it’s been years, we’ve remedied the issues that led to it, and he never ever wants that to happen again. I think our relationship has grown and moved on and we are in a better and safer place. And I don’t worry for the safety of me or other women and children he is with. He has no temper or violent tendencies. The one time I’ve seen him upset beyond what he could handle, he left the room until he calmed down. And that was once in 7 years of being with him. He doesn’t deserve the title “rapist,” except he does. Or did. That one time.

What do you do with something like this? “He raped me once, but he’ll never do it again,” can sound so enabling, so apologetic. Except that it’s true. And sometimes people make mistakes, even big mistakes.

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Please support the Naked Pictures of Faceless People project by commenting on the posts. Comments which attack or attempt to guess the identity or any aspect of the identity of the writer will be deleted, however. Protect and respect this space as though it were your own work on display here, naked and faceless.

Anonymous comments are welcome on NPFP posts. Simply put “Anonymous” or any pseudonym in Name, and either your own or a fake email addresses (ex me@me.com) as the email. NOTE: If you have a Gravatar associated with your email address, it will show up even with an anonymous name, in which case please use a different or a fake email address.

Guest post: Binary Underwear

While I am hard at work this week finalizing my side of the preparations for the blog redesign — unveiling January 1st! assuming kids and computers stay virus-free! and please do pardon the dust whilst I knock about the categories — I’ll be having guest bloggers make sure your end-of-year is as content filled as the previous 12 months have been. (Which is to say, sporadically.) Today I am honored to have a guest post from Laura Schuerwegen of Authentic Parenting.

Binary Underwear

I went shopping yesterday. That doesn’t happen too often. I live in Africa and shops aren’t actually at every street corner. Well, there aren’t too many streets either, so… But I am deviating.

Now we are in Belgium, we do get to shop. Generally that means we have this huge list to fulfill and we run around like hamsters in a maze. I actually set out to find winter pajamas (living close to the equator, I don’t need any over there), and underwear. I am a breastfeeding mother and my hips have gotten bigger with my daughter’s birth. I like being comfortable without looking too frumpy. So I guess I am quite demanding when it comes to shopping.

So I went from shop to shop like Christmas Carolers go from door to door and with the trillionth shop I visited, I started noticing a pattern: in nightwear and underwear, women have only two choices. Either we’re reduced to mere objects of pleasure, there and ready whenever it would please our male counterpart, because indeed — and every woman’s magazine will agree on this — the key to feeling confident is wearing sexy lingerie. Because what could better boost a woman’s self esteem than her sexuality? Her openness toward sexual encounters? Her eagerness to be taken by any predatory man at large? The other option is to be completely infantilized, teddy bears on the breast and buttocks and all. There is nothing in between. Unless you go to a discount shop and buy white cotton grannywear (which I have nothing against if that’s what tickles your fancy, but it doesn’t apply to all the criteria I am looking for in my underwear).

Now donʼt get me wrong, I donʼt mind women wearing sexy clothes or sexy lingerie; I’ve worn my share of both. And if you like wearing teddy bears, cartoon figures and the like, you are completely free to do so. However, I feel that we — women — should have a choice when it comes to our underwear and nightgowns, and that choice should not be limited to two options.

It is completely possible to design underwear and nightwear that is comfortable and looks good, and isn’t inspired by childhood themes. Just as it is possible to design underwear that isn’t good for the wardrobe of ‘Burlesque’. Seriously! I do not want to run around with Hello Kitty on my ass. And as much as I can appreciate silks and lace and ruffles and ribbons, they are hardly practical when you’re running after a two and a half year old.

So to underwear designers all over, if you read this:
1. women don’t only wear underwear to please the opposite sex.
2. sometimes burlesque doesn’t even light the spark with our significant other
3. women like options and two options isn’t much of a choice
4. underwear should first and foremost be comfortable
5. and seriously? What’s with the bears and pussycats and cartoon figures. We’re adult women for freezing snowflakes’ sake!

So – for the time being – no new underwear for me, and I guess Iʼll have to continue wearing my lounge pants and husbandʼs T-shirt to bed.

Laura Schuerwegen aka Mamapoekie is a Belgian expat mother and wife. She is currently in between African countries of residence and blogs at Authentic Parenting.

Guest post: Without a happy ending: what to do when no one else does

This is a guest post from Kelly of Underbellie.

Without a happy ending: what to do when no one else does

My husband works at an institution as a Big Important Computer Guy. Over the last week he’s been getting calls from one of the librarians that a computer user had been repeatedly caught viewing pornography on the computers (this is illegal use of state facilities). The librarian had kicked the young man out, but he kept coming back – only to view more porn. What disturbed the librarian was the (seemingly) unflappable repeat offenses despite what was obviously against the rules. The fellow just kept doing it.

Today my husband was able to take “snapshots” of his browser history without actually visiting the sites — not only sites like pussy.com but, in my husband’s view, more disturbing Yahoo Answers submissions. (As my husband put it: “Lots of entitled, frustrated male stuff.”)

Having finally received enough information to document the violation of policy, he locks the user account and instructs the staff to have the man contact him when he next tries — and fails — to log on. The fellow is soon escorted into my husband’s office, where, confronted in dry, by-the-book lingo about his policy violations, he asks “what’s the problem?”, showing no remorse or even understanding — and waits for things to go back to the way they were.

When my husband informs the Chief Information Officer of the offense, she reams the young man extensively, but then gives the go-ahead to reinstate his log-in.

While investigating the man’s IDs in the process of reinstating the account, one of which has been obviously modified, he learns that another lab worker, E., a woman, had a creepy encounter with this same young man just a few days ago.

My husband goes to head of security and relates the details of both the internet history and the incident with the lab worker. The head of security seems to take this very seriously and discusses the measures he’ll take; he informs my husband that when it comes to safety it is no violation on my husband’s part to discuss details of the user’s computer history.

******

And that — so far — is that.

I don’t want to get into discussing pornography and whether it is some kind of litmus to the harmful objectification (is there any other kind of objectification?) of women which is in turn correlated to the support of violence against them. Briefly, it’s my opinion that in a “perfect world” porn would be mostly sex-positive and rather fun; but in the world we live in porn is corrupted by kyriarchal and oppressive memes; there is a strong correlation between many straight men who consume typical porn and attitudes of oppositional sexism and rape apologism1.

But please don’t let this be a derail: the fact is my opinions on porn aren’t necessarily central to this story because in this case what my husband and I found most disturbing were his repeat offenses, his Yahoo submissions, his lack of remorse or even comprehension when confronted, and the fact at least three women who’d had experience with this individual were disturbed and agitated by his behavior.

And what does my head in is how many, many men (and women) would have done so much less than my husband in a case like this.

So now my husband is home and he’s worried. He’s thinking of the George Sodini case.2 He’s taken entirely appropriate and protective measures and put things in the hands of his superiors — but he’s not sure that’s enough. He’s conducted himself admirably (to my view), but he’s thinking of E. and wondering if he should talk to her. He’s worried it would be “creepy” (to E.) if he did.

At this I disagreed; my advice was to talk to E. and tell her briefly there was an investigation; then to offer – in a non-professional capacity — that if she ever felt uncomfortable and wanted an escort or any help, to call him and he’d come right over.

And then I thought of the times I’d been coerced and violated and the many men (and women) who knew or were there — and did nothing. I don’t think in my entire life any man, besides my husband and father, have ever offered their assistance in the way my husband is thinking of offering it to E.

And I thought of those horrible stories where — afterwards — people wring their hands and say, “He seemed like such a Nice Guy!”3

And I thought of America’s horrific track record of sexual assault, coercion, and rape.4

Entitled assholes (or Nice Guys™, see above footnote) are not the same as rapists (although some of them are, in fact, rapists). But, I’m sad to say, rape and sexual assault affect us all – even the genuine nice guys – and our silence and discomfort only serve to maintain the status quo.

So, do we like the status quo?

Can we live with it?5

I’m not holding up my husband as a hero and, on the flipside, I’ll be pretty pissed if anyone accuses him of not doing enough to stop a (potential) monster. I don’t particularly want advice given on what, if anything, my husband should do next – or if he should have never taken things as far as he did – because my trust in his awesomeness is pretty solid. But I note he took this more seriously than the other six employees yet (with, I hope, the exception of head of security), while still acting in his professional capacity — which is a fine line. Tonight my husband and I both feel a bit worried, unsettled, upset. But I’m impressed with him.

It worries me to think others — many, many others — might be exposed to information like he was — and do nothing.

Everything is linked

Been a while since we’ve had a good ol’ fashioned link post, hasn’t it?1

Anyway, have some links. If you’re a Liker2 of Raising My Boychick on Facebook, you might’ve seen some of these, but fear not! for I have fresh content for you as well.3

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I had the privilege of hearing Liz read a fabulous post about knitting, geekery, and feminism at BlogHer in August. In Kids and wheelchair manners she writes about curious kids, clueless adults, and her light-up chair.

I also don’t like it when grownups yell at kids not to stare or ask questions. I’m in a giant cool exoskeleton with light-up wheels. I have purple hair. Kids get to stare. They should be curious! If they ask me why I’m in a wheelchair, I can answer them however I like. The parent doesn’t have to step in and act all embarrassed. I might say that I use the chair to help me get around, or because my legs hurt if I walk very far. If we’re in a social situation or a playground I get out of the chair, sit on a bench, and teach random children how to push themselves around in my wheelchair. It’s fun and it demystifies disability for the kids and teaches them that mobility equipment is just another tool.

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The right to bear at Spilt Milk is one close to my heart, as I still, happily, sleep with the bear my grandparents gave me for Christmas when I was eight. And yes, I take him on planes with me. Can I sleep without him, fly without him? Sure, but why should I want to? Why is my bear less socially acceptable than another person’s nightcap, gin-and-tonic, night light, Xanax? As Elizabeth says:

It’s not ‘babyish’ to find ways to self-soothe and to cultivate feelings of security: it’s human, and it’s smart. It’s not wrong to form attachments and dependencies and when it’s people and things that do not harm us, it’s actually desirable to do so.

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The more I learn about Babble, the less I like them. Reason number three: Breastfeeding, Babble, and Business at Marf Mom. Prompted by PhD in Parenting’s post about the unethical advertisement of a formula company-run “Feeding Experts” hotline on Babble’s breastfeeding guide page (reason number two!), she wrote to Babble’s CEO. And he replied — but not terribly politely.

What was upsetting to me was how he characterized me.  …because I disagreed with the objectivity of his website, I must be looking for a mandate that every woman breastfeed?! Finally, what does La Leche League have to do with my email? I’m not a member. All I did was suggest their site as a better resource than a formula company!

It’s not great marketing to answer complaints by telling your consumers that THEY are the ones with the problem.

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I adore equally the title, substance, and footnote to muslin: a threat to the fabric of society at a shiny new coin, so go, soak it all in.

You want to know about hypocrisy?

Hypocrisy is a country of immigrants, who continue to perpetrate a genocide on the original inhabitants, running around with stickers on their vehicles manufactured from natural resources that came from stolen land that proclaim “Fuck Off: We’re Full”.

Hypocrisy is a country where the banning of an item of dress is regularly recommended, saying no Australian has any right to dictate the standard of dress of another. Really? Can I have that in writing?

Hypocrisy is the complete lack of perspective, the total cognitive dissonance, that the 7000 people who voted that a Muslim function, in a room used after hours at a community facility, having dress code is fundamentally wrong. A dress code. You know, like the one bigots would impose when they say burqas should be outlawed.

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Penultimately, I offer a trio of posts on rape culture — but it’s not as bad as it sounds. I’ve put them in order of painful, hopeful, and fabulous.

On Birth Rape, Definitions, and Language Policing at The Curvature carries a strong trigger warning, and is about rape denial in circles who should best know better.

I’m used to seeing this sort of thing — discussions about whether or not an event that is admittedly horrible really deserves to have the title “rape” attached to it, accompanied by convoluted reasons as to why calling it rape would just mess everything up for real rape victims. What I’m not quite as used to is seeing it being done in the name of feminism and/or anti-rape activism.

The Boiling Frog Principle of Boundary Violation at the Yes Means Yes blog should also come with a trigger warning, and goes through some pretty scary truths, but ends up, I feel, in a place of hope:

We need to look for the places where boundaries can’t and won’t be enforced … and fix them.  We can’t start when and where the rapes happen.  We have to start at the beginning.  We have to believe that bodily autonomy is a human right, and that the little violations matter.  If the whole culture believed that, it might not end all rape, but it would end a culture where rape is normalized and generally unpunished.

I wrote in reply4:

I take hope from this that yes, what we do as parents5 matter. We can be a part of the solution, by respecting our children’s bodily autonomy as much as we are able, and avoiding “the little violations” as much as possible.

Not to say that if we are not able, we are necessarily raising rapists, or rape victims — but rather that we CAN make a difference, here, now. Any step toward honoring our children’s boundaries and giving them the tools to recognize others’ and enforce their own is a step toward dismantling rape culture.

Will you take a step with me?

As your reward for making it through those, we have The Suffering Ween: An Important Social Essay over at Fatshionista:

When described in such terms, the frustration, resentment, and even violent rages of heterosexual men railing against the forced witnessing of women’s bodies that fail to give them hard-ons becomes a perfectly understandable and even sympathetic response to a world that has failed to identify how deeply (even irreparably, as some things can never be unseen) it has damaged them. We are, after all, describing the single most sensitive and vital organ in a man’s body, from which fully nine-tenths of their motivation to do anything in life is derived.

Clearly, these are young men suffering from a heartbreaking deficiency of boners.

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And finally, if you missed it (embedded as it was in one of my gazillion-word-long self-important posts) I put up a new Glossary entry, to a word I hope catches on:

Emovtypical is a new word1, meaning those with emotions and moods which fall into the range which society expects. It is based on the use, largely in Autism circles but in other “mental disability” circles as well, of “neurotypical”, to contrast with the neurodivergent or neuroatypical, that is, those whose brains do not conform to society’s expectations.2

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In other news, I just realized I could link straight to footnotes from other pages, and this might be the single coolest discovery since fire, ice, or the vibrating motor.

What say you, readers? Any interesting links or world-shaking discoveries to share? Self-promotion, frivolity, and non sequiturs always welcome.6

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  1. In part because I’ve been reading these things that are kind of like bloggy link round ups, but when I go to click on “more” I can’t find it? Also they smell like pulp and intelligence. I think they’re called “books”?
  2. What? Have you come up with a better idea since Facebook decided to stop using “fans”?
  3. Plus copious footnotes. Because. Wait, you want a reason? Fine, because kittens.
  4. On Facebook — see? You really should follow me, if you’ve succumbed to that particular internet evil.
  5. There are many things about this post I would change now, having heard many more stories of rape being committed by women and other non-men, but I think the basic points still stand.
  6. This footnote exists solely so that the last footnote won’t be all serious and some junk. You’re welcome.

NPFP Guest Post: This Is Rape Culture

Welcome to RMB’s Naked Pictures of Faceless People, a series of guest posts from diverse anonymous bloggers. (Read more about NPFP’s origins.) These are the posts that are jumping to get out of us, but for whatever reason — safety, embarrassment, conflict of interest, protection of loved ones’ reputations or feelings, or so on — we don’t or won’t or can’t post at our own blogs. Anyone is welcome to submit or discuss a potential post by emailing me at arwyn at raisingmyboychick dot com.

TRIGGER WARNING There is a trigger warning on this post for descriptions of rape and near-rape situations. Please do not read if doing so would put your own health or sanity in jeopardy.

This Is Rape Culture

Twelve years ago, I almost raped someone.

We’d had a fun date. I brought him home. We kissed, started making out. I was twenty years old, self-centered, horny. I thought “whee! sex!” I started flinging off clothes and happily pouncing. I had no idea anything was wrong until he pushed away, saying “no, no, I can’t do this,” hastily grabbed his things and left.

I was so confused. I absolutely could not conceive of a man who, confronted with a naked and willing woman, would not want sex. Even as I rejected the cultural idea of the chaste woman who must be seduced, I had internalized the idea of the man who will never say no.

For those of you who are saying, as I said to myself for many years, “but nothing bad happened. He said no, he left. Nothing happened after he said no.” Consider what might have happened had he not felt safe enough to say no, or not been able to process his uncomfortable feelings into the word “no.” Would I have noticed that anything was wrong? For how long had he been projecting “no” in his body language before he vocalized it, but I’d chosen not to see, or convinced myself that he didn’t mean it?

A dear friend recently told me how he had been raped, many years ago. They had started playing, it seemed okay, but then it wasn’t. He thought he said no, but she held him down and…. afterwards, he thought about walking in front of a bus.

The difference between my friend’s story and mine might only be the ending.

I had pressured my first boyfriend into sex after he clearly said “I don’t want to have sex until marriage” and I heard “I’m thinking about sex and marriage! I’m serious about our relationship!” That time, I was seventeen. Again, I had no context to comprehend the concept of a man who didn’t want sex.

Another friend tells me with frustration of the women who have told him “I know I said no, but I didn’t mean it. I thought you would keep pushing if you were really interested.” What happens when a man who has been socialized by women who think like this meets a woman who really doesn’t want his attention? Does it even occur to him that she could mean it when she says no, unlike every other woman he has been with?

I realize all this sounds like rape apologism, but it’s not. This is not to minimize rape or its effects. Neither is it to classify all rapes as ethically murky, or to classify only some as “real” rapes. Rape is a matter of violating the consent of the person being raped. End of story. But in anti-rape culture, the rapist is constructed as a morally bankrupt monster intentionally perpetrating this worst of abuses, and I don’t believe that’s always true, because of how rape culture has constructed us.

This is not rape apologism. An explanation is not an excuse. This is to demonstrate how horrific and pervasive rape culture is. It not only condones rape, it makes otherwise good people into rapists. By internalizing gender stereotypes that script sexual interaction and don’t allow for deviation. By making explicit conversations about consent “uncool”. By encouraging universal values that we assume not only for ourselves but for the whole world (“I like sex; sex is good; sex is good for you, too, and you’ll see if I push you hard enough.”).

When I was a teenager, like most teenagers, I was neither a depraved monster nor a model of decorum. I had a solid ethical core, but had not fully figured out how to manifest those ethics in my behavior. I figured, when I bothered to think about it, that if there was a problem someone would tell me. I’m not that person anymore. But I don’t think I was all that unusual.

Rape culture almost made me a rapist. That it didn’t is more a matter of luck than my moral character.

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Please support the Naked Pictures of Faceless People project by commenting on the posts. Comments which attack or attempt to guess the identity or any aspect of the identity of the blogger will be deleted, however. Protect and respect this space as though it were your own work on display here, naked and faceless.

Anonymous comments are welcome on NPFP posts. Simply put “Anonymous” or any pseudonym in Name, and either your own or a fake email addresses (ex me@me.com) as the email. NOTE: If you have a Gravatar associated with your email address, it will show up even with an anonymous name! In which case please use a different or a fake email address.

Private