Smackdown Time: “All heterosexual women are rape victims”? Oh yeah?

A regular old feminist is usually pretty weary of the standard clichés: “all feminists hate men,” “all feminists think sex is rape,” “all feminists wear clown shoes and smell like cow dung,” and so on…


Every once in a while you really do stumble on to folks who believe that, and I quote, “all heterosexual women are rape victims.”

Hokay. Right. So.

I showed the afore-mentioned comments to a friend of mine who was raped a couple of years ago. She’s a writer who is currently compiling research on what she believes to be “dangerous rhetoric” in regards to rape. She asked me to help her out. I dropped her a link (among many other links).
Here’s what she had to say:

“Sorry…. no. Don’t tell me that my current relationship is anything like the terror I suffered when I was raped. Don’t presume to speak for me and my experience. Actually, shut the ^^^^ up.

As humans, we are different. We all have different experiences and needs. You aren’t cool with heterosexual intercourse? Fine by me. Aren’t cool with any penetration whatsoever? Fine by me. Presuming to tell me who I am? Go to hell.”

My friend wished to remain anonymous, but she did allow me to quote her on this blog, and I thank her for that.

As a woman, I do not like being treated like a wee wittle child who just doesn’t know what’s good for her. By anyone. Even *gasp* other women.

Stuff like this is incredibly patronizing and unfortunate. I wish I didn’t feel the need to acknowledge it. However, I still think it’s important to challenge it.

Anyway, Plain(s)feminist has a different, and much more cerebral response. Check it.

16 thoughts on “Smackdown Time: “All heterosexual women are rape victims”? Oh yeah?

  1. I agree. I think its utterly outrageous to claim that all heterosexual women are rape victims. I really don’t think anyone making that claim is a feminist in any sense that I understand the word because it constructs all the women who love being with men as passive self deluding victims- which we aren’t. And if all heterosexual women are rape victims then by extension all heterosexual men are rapists even if all parties concerned thought what was happening was a loving mutually pleasurable consensual encounter. What nonsense. How can anyone think or say such a thing about the whole other half of the human race?

    When I was at University in the late 80s there was a bit of an uproar because one of the campus feminists wrote an article about how when a man held a door open for her it was like being raped because it was asserting patriarchal dominance over her (or some such crap). This latest thing is just one link in that particular chain. Some of these people are just far too willing to throw around the word rape or to claim their relatively benign experiences as rape. I think its unhealthy and neurotic and it completely trivialises the word and awfulness of the experiences of those who have actually suffered rape.

  2. A friend of mine got into a mini-blog war with Wom3n’s Space/Margins last year… at first I thought it was a really dark satire blog, kind of like Bush Is Hitler.

    I’m still not entirely convinced “Heart” believes 90% of what she writes, or that she has the best of intentions, but I think the larger point is the thousands of women who read her blog do not only believe in her, but are vicious in their support of her… for a long time, until the LOL Cats blog and the CNN / Fox News blogs came along last Spring, Heart’s site was constantly in the Top Five WordPress Blog list.

    I don’t think “challenging” Heart’s blog itself would be something to do, you’ll just get a hundred bloggers either calling you an idiot over there, or — like my friend — they’ll come over here and flood your comment area with gibberish.

    I also don’t think Heart’s blog represents nearly enough people to worry about those views ever becoming mainstream. It’s like the rabid pro-Ron Paul blogs which have popped up… they’re run by people who honestly believe the next American election will be cancelled due to a coup and there are concentration camps being built across the United States ready for dissenters to be “disappeared”.

    Heart’s blog, and the Ron Paul People, are giving the Crazy 05% a voice… the thing is, no matter how much Rational and Reasoned Response you offer, they’re going to remain absolutely Bat Shit Insane.

  3. You know, everything would be a lot simpler if everyone would just view everyone else as human first and foremost, and male/female second. Both sexes are so caught up in vilifying the other half that people forget how ridiculous these broad statements are.

    If all hetero women are victims of rape because of penetration, then all men, gay and hetero, who use their penises to penetrate their partners, are rapists. So basically, any and all men who use the body part they were born with, are rapists, so maybe we should start punishing every baby boy who is born, for having a penis.

    Once women stop treating the other half like humans first and men second, they’re no better than the attitude feminism was supposed to be against — the abuse of humans just because they are of the opposite sex.

    My alternate response is, “Duh.”

  4. As a heterosexual male myself, I will not try to comment on this statement itself.

    I will say this though, most women that I know have a story that involves some sort of sexual violence by a heterosexual male. My current gf was raped, one ex girlfriend had been molested by her grandfather, another one had been roofied and raped in college. My current roommate was raped by her ex husband.

    While one cannot speak in absolutes, it is a disturbing, and one might say chronic, occurrence.

  5. Andrea Dworkin wrote a book in which she argued that it is not really possible for a woman to give consent in a society in which she has no power. That would be true if we really lived in a society in which women have no power but there are few societies in which women have no power at all. Although I do not believe all heterosexual women have been “raped,” I do believe most and perhaps almost all heterosexual women at one time or another have agreed to sex they did not really want to have, which by Dworkin’s definition would be rape, as she would construe it as coerced sex.

  6. I think there’s a difference between acknowledging that a LOT of women have had at least one disturbing experience (I’m one of them, unfortunately) – and saying that heterosexuality itself requires rape.

    Elizabeth, you bring up an important point. I think what I would also add to that is the fact sometimes, it’s really hard to tell just what YOU want. There are some pretty shady aspects to human sexuality, and I would argue that they exist among both males and females. It’s more problematic with males because issues of aggression are thrown in for good measure.

    With women, one of many scenarios goes like this: “Man, I am horny. But I don’t really like this guy. He’s got an awful haircut. And a terrible taste in beer. BUT I’M SO HORNY. Crap, what do I do what do I do? Oh fuck it all, I’ll feed bad in the morning, but now I need to have some SEX.”

    For some reason, the scenario above rarely gets discussed. But it happens. All the time. Something like half, if not more than half, of my friends in college once slept with a guy they didn’t really want to sleep with – because they just wanted to get laid.

    Just as equally, most of the guys I know have had sex at least once without really wanting to have sex. But it came down to, “it’s been a while” and/or “she was really demanding it.” So they did it. And many regretted it later.

    But was it rape?

    We talk a lot about male desire and its potential consequences, but we rarely talk about female desire.

    And I think both can be kind of weird.

  7. Also, there’s the assumption that, say, a woman in a lesbian relationship is automatically free from any possibility of rape and other forms of abuse. Which just isn’t true. It’s a dangerous assumption (not saying that anyone here is making it, but I see it a lot elsewhere).

    Individual lesbian relationships can most certainly be fraught with abuse and coercion. Lesbians are people just like everyone else – and they have problems like everyone else.

    I’m sure the stats on heterosexual abuse are higher – because many men in our society (and other societies) think that they are 100% justified in their aggression, especially physical aggression.

    But people will be people – regardless of orientation.

  8. Clicky:

    Natalia, I thought you might find this story interesting: it’s an online serial novel based in a college and deals heavily with issues of sexual/emotional abuse between women. Not having yet read beyond Book 1 (it’s a loooong serial) I am not sure if male characters enter the scene actively in the future, but for the time being, it acts out the topic you touched on in your last comment, re: the assumption that lesbian relationships are by default free from coercion and rape.

    (And yes, the author was accused, at least once, of being neither female nor lesbian, as she claims to be. Trolls are fun.)

  9. I had a lesbian psychotherapy patient who’d been in an abusive relationship for a long time…I think it is not uncommon at all. There may be less forced sex but just as much of the other types of abuse, in lesbian abusive relationships as compared to heterosexual abusive relationships.

    I’m not sure why someone would feel bad about having sex with someone with poor taste in clothes/beer. I have had very few one-night stands but on those occasions, I did not evaluate the men’s choice of clothing or drinks as I was not planning on a long term relationship with them and anyway, I was drunk.

  10. I was hanging out on SF street here one time when the rape awareness month demo went by, about 2 dozen women and one guy. A couple of my friends were in it and urged me to join, but I opted out because one of them was carrying a sign saying “all men are rapists”, and this was apparently okay with the rest of the marchers. I’ve also had female friends relate ‘rape’ experiences to me, which were, upon explanation, consensual sex that they regretted later for some reason or were cajoled into at the time. Just as society as a whole needs to take a principled stand against rape and not marginalize victims or tacitly okay it, which it has been slow to do, feminists need to take a principled stand on a larger scale and declare that only rape is rape, Dworkin and the rest of the crazies and sex-hating drones be damned.

  11. Ahem, I’m sure you meant “matronising” not patronising. Using the wrong word here buys into the notion that power is inherently male and I’m sure that’s not what you meant.

    My objection to most of this sort of rubbish is that it infantalises women if anything more than traditional patriarchy does, because it denies even the possibility of women becoming adults. Gee, thanks Ms Dworkin, I really needed that. One day, when I’m free, I hope that I’ll be allowed to think for myself. Do you think that day will ever come?

    The “shades of consent” stuff is interesting, and it makes Dworkin’s pathological dualism implausible as soon as you allow that it might even be possible for someone to be undecided. Some of the US stuff is nonsensical – if, for instance, a woman gets a man drunk in order to have sex with him, she is still the “Dworkin victim” because she can’t consent… hmmm. Amusingly, some lesbians do that while they’re in denial and trying to have sex with men to prove that they can’t possibly be queer. Rewriting that scene to make it all his fault is one way out of any guilt feelings that arise.

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