TW: Discussion of rape and rape culture (and brief discussion of racism/murder)
I was on my way back to DC after visiting my family for Christmas. A college aged girl in front of me was on the phone with her father. “I raped my econ exam. Like, took it out back and had my way with it.” I was stunned. Are we using the word “rape” to describe something good now? Like, I did something worthy of pride, so I shall describe my actions as having committed this horrible act?
I am a gamer, specifically League of Legends. I am on a personal crusade to educate people why they shouldn’t use it to describe anything in the game as “rape.” No, there is no way in this game for one character to force him or herself upon another character, so no, rape cannot happen here. Telling people that they “raped” you or you “raped” them or calling on your team to “rape” someone else trivializes and normalizes the act.
I was reading the comments in the article on Nicki Minaj and her use of the phrase “I’m raping you.” Defenses are there, such as “she doesn’t mean RAPE, she’s saying she’s empowered and has more power than men!” THATZ STILL NOT OKAY. It is still taking rape and turning it into something positive that someone can do while there are still people out there who are victims of this horribly violent crime EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I don’t want someone taking what was done to me and turning it into a display of THEIR power. That’s not empowering to me. That’s not empowering to the millions of survivors out there.
Rape culture is perpetuated by the idea that this type of language is okay. It takes something that is horrible and violent and incredibly triggering for many people and makes it just another verb. It takes the horrible and traumatic experiences of myself and so, so many others and turns it into a taunt. Or worse, something positive that you can do.
We’ve all heard arguments: “does that mean that we shouldn’t say that I murdered that? Should we not say I killed it? That’s a violent crime too!” The difference is: we don’t live in a culture and society that blames murder victims.* We don’t live in a society where the clothing, sexual history, or levels of intoxication are endlessly speculated on as factors
Women especially walk around every day knowing that rape is an ever present threat. I was raped by my best friend because I was drunk. A person told me that I needed to choose my friends better. Another asked if it was REALLY rape because I was drunk. I didn’t call it rape because I felt so guilty about it and complicit in it until another friend pointed out that I was so drunk that I couldn’t stand. I didn’t say “no,” but I did say “this isn’t a good idea.” Repeatedly. I couldn’t talk to or face the person after. Two years later, I still avoid anywhere I know he will be. That’s not a drunken mistake. That’s rape.
So no, taking “rape” and making it something positive or just another verb is not okay. It takes a fun hobby for me (gaming) and turns it into a constant threat of being triggered. It shows me how much people still don’t take my experience seriously. It is not empowering. It is rape culture.
*Unless, of course, you are a young black man. Then your killer was just “defending himself and standing his ground.” Or it was just another consequence of “gang violence” or “thugs being thugs.”
“My cousin Helen, who is in her 90s now, was in the Warsaw ghetto during World War II. She and a bunch of the girls in the ghetto had to do sewing each day. And if you were found with a book, it was an automatic death penalty. She had gotten hold of a copy of ‘Gone With the Wind’, and she would take three or four hours out of her sleeping time each night to read. And then, during the hour or so when they were sewing the next day, she would tell them all the story. These girls were risking certain death for a story. And when she told me that story herself, it actually made what I do feel more important. Because giving people stories is not a luxury. It’s actually one of the things that you live and die for.”— Neil Gaiman (via jaynestown)
When you are hurting, there will always be people who find a way to make it about themselves. If you break your wrist, they’ll complain about a sprained ankle. If you are sad, they’re sadder. If you’re asking for help, they’ll demand more attention.
Here is a fact: I was in a hospital and sobbing into my palms when a woman approached me and asked why I was making so much noise and I managed to stutter that my best friend shot himself in the head and now he was 100% certified dead and she made this little grunt and had the nerve to tell me, “Well now you made me sad.”
When you get angry, there are going to be people who ask you to shut up and sit down, and they’re not going to do it nicely. Theirs are the faces that turn bright red before you have a chance to finish your sentence. They won’t ask you to explain yourself. They’ll be mad that you’re mad and that will be their whole reason alone.
Here is a fact: I was in an alleyway a few weeks ago, stroking my friend’s back as she vomited fourteen tequila shots. “I hate men,” she wheezed as her sides heaved, “I hate all of them.”
I braided her hair so it wouldn’t get caught in the mess. I didn’t correct her and reply that she does in fact love her father and her little brother too, that there are strangers she has yet to meet that will be better for her than any of her shitty ex-boyfriends, that half of our group of friends identifies as male - I could hear each of her bruises in those words and I didn’t ask her to soften the blow when she was trying to buff them out of her skin. She doesn’t hate all men. She never did.
She had the misfortune to be overheard by a drunk guy in an ill-fitting suit, a boy trying to look like a man and leering down my dress as he stormed towards us. “Fuck you, lady,” he said, “Fuck you. Not all men are evil, you know.”
“Thanks,” I told him dryly, pulling on her hand, trying to get her inside again, “See you.”
He followed us. Wouldn’t stop shouting. How dare she get mad. How dare she was hurting. “It’s hard for me too!” he yowled after us. “With fuckers like you, how’s a guy supposed to live?”
Here’s a fact: my father is Cuban and my genes repeat his. Once one of my teachers looked at my heritage and said, “Your skin doesn’t look dirty enough to be a Mexican.”
When my cheeks grew pink and my tongue dried up, someone else in the classroom stood up. “You can’t say that,” he said, “That’s fucking racist. We could report you for that.”
Our teacher turned vicious. “You wanna fail this class? Go ahead. Report me. I was joking. It’s my word against yours. I hate kids like you. You think you’ve got all the power - you don’t. I do.”
Later that kid and I became close friends and we skipped class to do anything else and the two of us were lying on our backs staring up at the sky and as we talked about that moment, he sighed, “I hate white people.” His girlfriend is white and so is his mom. I reached out until my fingers were resting in the warmth of his palm.
He spoke up each time our teacher said something shitty. He failed the class. I stayed silent. I got the A but I wish that I didn’t.
Here is a fact: I think gender is a social construct and people that want to tell others what defines it just haven’t done their homework. I personally happen to have the luck of the draw and am the same gender as my sex, which basically just means society leaves me alone about this one particular thing.
Until I met Alex, who said he hated cis people. My throat closed up. I’m not good at confrontation. I avoided him because I didn’t want to bother him.
One day I was going on a walk and I found him behind our school, bleeding out of the side of his mouth. The only thing I really know is how to patch people up. He winced when the antibacterial cream went across his new wounds. “I hate cis people,” he said weakly.
I looked at him and pushed his hair back from his head. “I understand why you do.”
Here is a fact: anger is a secondary emotion. Anger is how people stop themselves from hurting. Anger is how people stop themselves by empathizing.
It is easy for the drunken man to be mad at my friend. If he says “Hey, fuck you, lady,” he doesn’t have to worry about what’s so wrong about men.
It’s easy for my teacher to fail the kids who speak up. If we’re just smart-ass students, it’s not his fault we fuck up.
It’s easy for me to hate Alex for labeling me as dangerous when I’ve never hurt someone a day in my life. But I’m safe in my skin and his life is at risk just by going to the bathroom. I understand why he says things like that. I finally do.
There’s a difference between the spread of hatred and the frustration of people who are hurting. The thing is, when you are broken, there will always be someone who says “I’m worse, stop talking.” There will always be people who are mad you’re trying to steal the attention. There will always be people who get mad at the same time as you do - they hate being challenged. It changes the rules.
I say I hate all Mondays but my sister was born on one and she’s the greatest joy I have ever known. I say I hate brown but it’s really just the word and how it turns your mouth down - the colour is my hair and my eyes and my favorite sweater. I say I hate pineapple but I still try it again every Easter, just to see if it stings less this year. It’s okay to be sad when you hear someone generalize a group you’re in. But instead of assuming they’re evil and filled with hatred, maybe ask them why they think that way - who knows, you might just end up with a new and kind friend.
”—By telling the oppressed that their anger is unjustified, you allow the oppression to continue. I know it’s hard to stay calm. I know it’s scary. But you’re coming from the safe place and they aren’t. Just please … Try to be more understanding. /// r.i.d (via inkskinned)
For a brief moment I thought it might be nice to walk down the aisle to “King of Pride Rock” from the Lion King when I get married, but then I realized that I might have a hard time finding people to do the chanting.
It sucks when someone you have feelings for doesn’t share those feelings; it happens to women all the time, too. We hear “I just want to be friends” and “you’re like one of the guys” and “you’re like a sister to me” just as often. But you’ll never hear a woman complain that guys just don’t appreciate a Nice Girl because we’re taught it’s our own fucking fault when we’re rejected—we aren’t pretty enough or thin enough or sexy enough, we weren’t sexual enough or were too sexual, we put out too much or too little or too soon or not soon enough, we didn’t wear our hair the right way or our skirt the right length, we’re “too tomboyish” or “too butch” or “too feminine”, or we’re “not their type”, or we’re otherwise not good enough in various ways to entice the man to grace us with his affection.
But when we’re not interested in someone, we’re vilified. We’re the bitch that lead them on, the bitch who let them buy us dinner but didn’t want to date them, the bitch who doesn’t appreciate a nice guy, the bitch they were nice to and then got nothing in return from.
And, frankly, fuck those people. Showing interest in me, being friendly with me, getting close to me, or eating a meal with me (even if they paid for it) doesn’t obligate me to open my heart or my legs. And anyone who doesn’t appreciate my friendship sure as hell doesn’t deserve my love or my pussy.