I told myself I wouldn’t do it. I told myself that blogging about anything besides work, stories, and favourite writers was strictly off-limits this month. Then I saw a completely demented Internet discussion on rape, and freaking snapped. The following is the result of my snappage.
Everyone knows that there is a “good” kind of rape victim and a “bad” kind of rape victim. The “good” kind is usually a virgin or virginal, white, middle to upper class, and raped by a total stranger while, say, walking home from school or work (by saying all this I am not attempting to trivialize these sorts of situations – considering that something like this happened to a childhood friend of mine who fits the profile exactly). The “bad” kind of rape victim is pretty much anyone else who has ever been raped.
Ok, perhaps the above dichotomy is exaggerated, but, fact is, there are those rape victims that “deserve” sympathy and help in prosecuting their offenders, and those that do not. How do people differentiate between the two? Well, here’s a comment (from a discussion I won’t link to) that offers us some clues:
Sympathy is for people who suffer from circumstances completely outside their control
It’s amazing, to me, how many people actually believe this stuff. I once knew someone, a very decent individual in all regards, who summed up his feelings toward rape thusly: “Well, you can’t always blame the victim… I mean, what if they hit her over the head from behind? How could she defend herself then?” I could do nothing but stammer in return.
This worldview is amazing to me, because, with any logic, it is obvious that practically no one in this world deserves sympathy (or help) after being raped. Everyone, even children, have at least a tiny bit of control over their lives (I am not talking about coma patients here… Although, of course, we can always shift the discussion on to what the “dumb slut” did to fall into a coma in the first place):
You have control over, say, smiling or not smiling at some man you think you can trust.
You have control over the sort of ribbon you put in your hair on that particular day (and we all know that red ribbons are slutty).
If you’re a boy, and we all know that boys get raped (I’ve recently discovered that someone very close to me was raped as an eleven-year old boy), well, perhaps you had a choice as to whether or not to stay out on that playground for just a half hour longer.
You have a choice when you invite a friend or acquaintance into your home. I mean, all he wants is to have a chat. Or else he’s here to take a look at the leaky faucet you recently complained about (and you, of course, had a choice as to whether or not you could complain about it in his presence, thus giving him an excuse to enter your home… and then enter your body even if you begged him not to).
You have a choice when it comes to screaming. High-pitched? But that might irritate the rapist even further, and then he’ll punch you, and then that will be your fault as well, dont’cha know. If you don’t scream though, well, you obviously wanted it it then.
I could go on and on.
And I think I understand why people hold these views as well. It’s been said before, but it can be repeated: people are scared. People have mothers, and sisters, and daughters, and friends. And if those mothers, and sisters, and daughters, and friends can be raped – well, clearly there is something wrong with the universe. And there is – except that we can’t really deal with this, can we? So we cast the people we love in the “good” category, and everyone else gets to be “bad.” And the “good” people have a much lower chance of getting raped – since they’re out making the “good” kind of choices, and their circumstances are, of course, different.
I’ve known a father who dealt this way with the rape of his daughter. Clearly, she had done something “bad.” It didn’t matter if her only crime was walking home from school in broad daylight and being waylaid by a neighbour and his gangster friends on the stairwell. The father re-cast the situation. In his new scenario – the daughter had led the adult men on. She wanted it. She had enjoyed it as they took turns with her in the basement of their apartment building. She had wanted them to take her to the Middle East and make money by being a prostitute (the neighbours’ friends were traffickers). It was all part of the plan. This was his way of dealing, or, rather, not dealing, with what happened.
He began to change his mind after she slit her wrists. The suicide attempt happened after she was sent away to live with a fanatical grandmother who tried to beat her into repentance for her “bad” behaviour. The grandmother who stole the stockings the girl wore under her school uniform, as they were “sinful,” and paraded in them on her promenade while the girl sat locked in her bedroom in the evenings. Yes. These things happened.
I think there is a difference between this girl’s father and the garden-variety sociopath. The father knew that something terrible had occurred. But he also felt helpless. And this helplessness was masked by the monstrous behaviour he exhibited towards his daughter. I am not excusing his actions. But I think they hold a clue as to why so many seemingly good people attempt to justify rape and excuse the rapist. And if we know of the why – then maybe we can have a starting point from which to move away from this crap.
P.S. See Bint for more.