R@pio, R@pere, R@pui, R@ptum
Don't you hate it when you're just going about your day, minding your own business, maybe conjugating Latin verbs cum amicis, and then someone you barely even know tells you that you are promoting something called "r@pe culture"? . . . Yeah, me, too.
Now, "r@pe culture" is a misleading term, if not an outright misnomer, which means it will be a struggle not to put quotation marks around it from this point on. I'm compromising by writing it in code, so that it doesn't show up on search engines and draw strangers who are just spoiling for a fight. If the people who already read this blog want to fight, however, that's all right. =)
Without ever once having asked for a definition (which means that you are welcome to correct me at any time), I figured out that r@pe culture is anything that seems to play down the gravity of r@pe, be it in the media or in a conversation. It can range from asking, "But why was she wearing something like that?" after hearing the particulars of an assault, to telling a joke in which r@pe is milked for humour rather than presented as the horrible crime--even sin--that it is. Note that one can "perpetuate r@pe culture" without ever directly causing a r@pe.
Apparently, it's not enough to be against r@pe and to support bringing r@pists to justice, as I do and as I'm sure everyone reading this does. We must also police our language so that anything that is not 100% explicitly anti-r@pe is censored and condemned. How this works may be illustrated in the reaction to a certain Penny Arc@de Web comic strip . . .
This comic was first drawn and published three years ago. That's about how long it takes me to notice controversial stuff. =P
I think you'd have to be a philosophical contortionist to say that the story is pro-r@pe. It is about slaves who are abused, one of whom is begging to be freed. But the hero doesn't help him because the quest (based on a video game, I gather) requires him to rescue only five, and he has already reached his quota. The strip satirises the kind of "heroism" which would leave people still in need of help behind, and I think it does it well.
But it's not 100% explicitly anti-r@pe, and that is why the creators of Penny Arc@de had to draw an unscheduled comic in which they stated what should have been painfully obvious and asked the self-appointed House Un-American Activities Committee to get off their backs.
Anyone notice that they didn't have to address "slave culture"?
I don't want to go into what happened next, because I want this post to be about no more than the comic itself and on other unwitting examples of r@pe culture in the media. (Is my rule to avoid quotation marks killing anyone else?)
Now, it's really difficult for me to see the strip as insidious. Issues of taste aside, I honestly don't think that someone making a joke which involves r@pe would cause someone else to commit r@pe any more than I think Horror movies create killers. That they might make killers more creative is a separate issue. Do we really want culture, even if it's merely pop culture, to be determined by the dregs of society? Or do we recognise that if 99% of reasonable adults can handle something without going nuts, that the 1% who can't are exceptional and should not be the standard by which everyone else is judged?
In short, the idea that a tiny minority characterised by lack of reason and virtue should be the deciding factor in all social and cultural decisions doesn't sit well with me. (I'll let you all hold this against me the next time I blog in support of monarchy. =P)
But what if the tiny minority that the cultural crusaders care about are not the psychos, but the victims? Indeed, the most passionate pieces against r@pe culture emphasise that any form of "blaming the victim" or making her (or him?) continue to feel unsafe is unacceptable. That's something I can get behind. If people have been through traumas at the hands of unconscionable folk, then we, their community, should do what we can to make them feel safe again. This is only reasonable. But it's also reasonable to point out that this second extraordinary minority shouldn't get to call the shots just because they were once victimised. Unless you want to argue that r@pe is an educational rite of passage--which I'm sure you don't.
Yet they're apparently already calling some shots in the legal system, if a certain case of campus sexu@l ass@ult, analysed on Darwin Catholic a few months ago, is any indicator . . .
The thing is, you can't have a system which is easy on both the accuser and the accused. Being the victim of a crime is distressing. Being accused of committing a crime is distressing. Any system has to come up with some sort of balance between the rights of the accuser and the accused and there are reasons that [self-described feminist Judith] Grossman should be familiar with for the particular balance that society has struck. That's not to say that it's the best possible balance, but let's be clear: Any change that would have made things easier on her son would also have made things harder on at least some actual rape victims. There is not a system that magically sorts out the guilty from the innocent without making things difficult for anyone.
The fairness of such a system isn't my concern at the moment. I am more fascinated by the discussion inspired by the post, which got really ugly. Wade through the combox at your own risk. The only part I want to highlight is someone's belief that the discussion was contributing to "an unsafe environment for women." Which is not to say that she thought the male commenters would go out and r@pe women as a result of it, but that she believed everyone (else) was speaking about r@pe in a way that would make an actual victim feel that no one would support her if she pressed charges or make an actual perpetrator rationalise that what he had done wasn't so bad. In other words, she was arguing that that Darwin Catholic discussion was an example of r@pe culture.
Doesn't it blow your mind??? =P
But if it doesn't . . . that is, if it makes perfect sense to you . . . then I wonder what you make of this post. As I've explained, I don't think that a small minority defined by something outside of the ordinary experience (be it an inability to act virtuously or the scars of an event which should never have happened) deserves the deciding say in how the community does things. Especially the "Internet community," which is actually an oxymoron.
Let me put it this way . . . If a friend told me that some things I've been saying have been making a mutual pal feel unsafe and ashamed, then I would stop saying them around her (or him). Similarly, if a blog reader I've interacted with wrote me and said that some of my posts have been having the same effect on her (or him), then I would tone them down. But if a complete stranger were to make the same demand, in the name of women (or men) I may never meet, then I would respond with the same consideration I gave to the last complete stranger who asked me to change something. That is, I would seriously think about it . . . ask other people for their take on it . . . consult an authority figure on the right course of action . . . and probably conclude that a stranger simply doesn't merit the sort of consideration that a community member does.
Think about it. If a problem stops impacting your life when you close a browser window, then it's not a real problem, is it? This isn't about culture, but about control.
It dawns on me now that the original D!ckwolf may have been the Lycancath/Werepunk. ;-)