I was reading this, when I once again came dangerously close to ruining my keyboard through spillage. Behold:
[one of the definitions of rape is] seduction: when a man persuades a woman to have sex with him, often subtly, through being kind, polite, chivalrous, etc;
Just in case you are mystified – what Maggie Hays is essentially saying is that a woman who is turned on, say, by the sight of her man cooking a delicious lunch and tackles him halfway through, is, in fact, a rape victim.
Of course, she has Andrea Dworkin to back her up: “Seduction is often difficult to distinguish from rape.”
Oooh. That’s right. Us little ladies are so confused by our own sexual desires that we couldn’t possibly know what it is we want. At all. Better to lock us all up so we remain virginal and pure, singing songs to the Mother Goddess in our pristine convents, enjoying apolitical lesbian-sister love (but not in that way), unexposed to the beastly predilections of men.
*the sound you hear is me choking on my coffee*
The above thinking is actually a direct extension of patriarchal and demeaning standards used against women throughout this great, big, horrible world of ours. I was reading some interviews done in Saudi Arabia a few years back – on the subject of women potentially getting the right to vote – and something that jumped out at me was a woman who was quoted as saying that women couldn’t possibly be allowed to vote, they’re far too easily charmed and lead on by men, after all. Maggie? Andrea? I think I may have found your ideological twin.
The thing about seduction is – of course it can end up with you making choices that you may later regret. This goes for men and women. How many of us haven’t been charmed by a person who turned out to be a scumbag or asshole in one way or another? But the key word here is “choice.” I’m sorry, but the very definition of rape implies the absence of choice, one way or another.
Seduction is not coercion. A man who makes you feel like wringing out your panties is not a rapist by definition. Why the hell do I even need to point this out to anyone?
This is why I’m so bloody tired of Andrea Dworkin being venerated as some sort of Feminist Saint looking down on us from Mother Goddess Heaven, wagging her disapproving finger at our ways. Because while she said a lot of very good things, she has also made statements dumbass enough to make Homer Simpson cringe. The above quote is no exception.
This entire thing is bigger than Dworkin and the bloggers who kneel at her temple, of course. This is an issue of how society ought to treat women – as adults? Or as children?
Men who wish to restrict women’s rights are big propagators of the myth of women’s intellectual and psychological vulnerability. They, like Maggie, believe that women simply don’t know what’s good for them, ever.
If you’re an adult, I’m willing to bet that somehow, somewhere, you have heard a guy casually utter some variation of the following phrase:
“Dude, I shouldn’t have slept with her.”
Now, do you get all concerned for a guy’s mental abilities when he makes a statement like that? Or do you clap him on the back with a measure of sympathy and buy the next round?
I remember coming home to my dorm one night in my freshman year of college. I had gone to a screening in another town, on a film review assignment. Admittedly, while I watched some of that movie, the better part of the screening was spent passing Life Savers mouth-to-mouth with the guy who had accompanied me. He was very cute, but he wasn’t exactly what I needed in my life right then, for several good reasons. And my entire film review turned out to be one huge sexual pun. The editors liked it, but I wasn’t exactly pleased with myself.
“Crap,” I announced to my roommate. “I made out with X. Here are roughly a billion reasons why that was incredibly dumb. What’s wrong with me?”
“Not your best, honey,” my roommate said without glancing up from the various Instant Messenger windows on her laptop. “Not your best.”
And that was about it. I popped the remaining Life Saver into my mouth and went to work on my Biological Anthropology & Anatomy homework.
Imagine what would have happened had my roommate began running around and flapping her arms like a chicken, screeching about me having been violated by a monstrous beast, throwing water on my face with one hand and dialing 911 with another. I don’t think I would have been able to handle that. I think I would have had to barricade myself in the girl’s bathroom and sustain myself on a diet of toothpaste for at least a day or two. That would have been the saner option.
It’s true that women are supposed to regret their bad choices much more than men. What Maggie Hays is doing is essentially perpetuating this idiotic double standard, and turning around and calling it feminist.
The other ridiculous assumption being made here is that a woman couldn’t possibly go out of her way to seduce a man.
That’s right. The many times that you and I have done this, girls, we were:
a) Blinded by the Patriarchy’s shiny penis and unable to understand what it was we were doing, b) We were, in fact, raping ourselves, or c) Unknowingly replicating the evil behaviour of evil, dirty males, forever compromising our precious purity. Well, I’m glad all of that has been cleared up!
This is disgusting, because it’s a huge trivialization of rape. It’s like those people you sometimes meet, the people who can’t handle anyone disagreeing with them ever, so they say things like: “Stop talking to me! Stop assaulting me with your disagreeable rhetoric! You’re no better than a rapist!” (yes, people like that do exist. I seem to recall that Maggie Hays is one of them.)
Imagine this scenario: imagine if I was in that dark movie theater with Mr. X, and Mr. X randomly decided to stick his hand down my blouse. Just like that. A violent, bizarre titty-grab of the sort I have actually experienced elsewhere.
That would have been pretty horrible, no?
Meanwhile, me flirting with him for the entire car ride and half the movie, and then letting my tongue slip past his lips with a half-done Life Saver in tow, now THAT is a crime. He was forcing his pretty eyes and sly smile onto me, you see.
Now, I get how seduction can cross over into all sorts of unpleasant, and potentially criminal territory. This is especially true of inexperienced women (and men) who meet someone who charms them to the point of complete surrender, and end up in a bad situation as the result. For example, if you’re using copious amounts of alcohol to seduce anyone – you’re in rapist realm, asshole. A lot of people still don’t get that. A lot of people still say, “well, she was passed out, so where’s the crime?”
Victims of the evil kind of seduction can often change their mind halfway through. But if they say “no,” their seducer pretends not to hear them. That’s rape.
Laws that say nobody can change their mind are especially dangerous in this regard. I have previously mentioned a situation which turned rather grim for me when a guy I was with, and had really liked up until that moment, started physically hurting me. I asked him to stop. He ignored me. I told him to get the hell away from me. Grudgingly, he complied, and proceeded to tell me that I was lucky he was such a “nice guy,” that most men wouldn’t have stopped.
I taste a little bile in the back of my throat when I do as little as merely think about that night, today.
But straight-up seduction assumes that women are still, y’know, grown-ups. When the guy in question invited me up to his flat, a year or so after we had first met, mind you, was I being assaulted as I considered it? No, I was happy. I had wanted him since the first time I met him, all those months ago, and thought I knew him well.
Frighteningly, the logic of Maggie Hays and Andrea Dworkin essentially implies that I could have known what was happening. I was being seduced, after all. If only I had been hip to what seduction actually means! I would have been a good girl, I would have never climbed those stairs and kissed him in the darkness of his miserable little kitchenette. Ah, if only the radical feminists had gotten to me first.
Human sexuality strays into real darkness all the time, I admit that. More often than not, it is women who become victims of this darkness in one way or another. Violent rape is just the tip of the iceberg, really, when you think about it.
But the answer to this is not claiming that women can’t possibly make the decision to go to bed with someone. Jay-sus. How about we actually look at laws and law enforcement that still allow rape to take place instead? You know, keep the anti-rape cause as something that isn’t exactly ridiculous? Or would that be too strenuous?
I find it interesting that Maggie Hays even goes as far as include basic POLITENESS under that vast umbrella of rape. Does she head-butt every male store-clerk who tells her to “have a nice day” after he bags her groceries? It would only be logical.
Once again, I leave you with a question:
Why does ANYONE still wonder as to HOW this particular brand of ideology has become so damn IRRELEVANT?
I sure don’t. If you need me, I’ll be somewhere with Jean-Luc. Facepalming.
See Ren for more on the subject. Good discussion in the comments section over there too.