I’m a Rape Survivor With #MeToo Fatigue: Here’s Why

I’m a Rape Survivor With #MeToo Fatigue: Here’s Why

I have a confession to make: I’m sick of #MeToo. Whenever I see the hashtag, I feel dread. I lived through rape, abuse, and torture, so this is, in one sense, a personal reaction — reminders of familiar traumas make me hurt. That’s on me. No one else is responsible for my mental health.

But the dread is mixed with frustration. Me Too is a movement dedicated to eradicating sexual violence, started over a decade ago by Tarana Burke, a black woman from the Bronx — yet in interviewing (white) people about their use of the hashtag, I regularly encounter those who have no idea who Tarana even is, let alone her story, what she says her movement is about,  her work (featuring Terry Crews!), et al.

I also encounter too many well-meaning people in denial about the fact that anything that’s constantly on the news is going to attract grifters and attention-seekers who feel the need to hijack an important cause.

The most obvious example is Jacob Wohl — a conspiracy theorist who attempted to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller by claiming he is a rapist. We were all so focused on the ludicrousness of Wohl’s scheme that we forgot its implications: Any popular movement, let alone popular hashtag, is going to attract its share of people with dubious agendas, and admitting this should not be tantamount to discrediting survivors.

Continue reading “I’m a Rape Survivor With #MeToo Fatigue: Here’s Why”

I was raped a few years ago

I was raped a few years ago

I was raped a few years ago. I had liked and trusted the guy. It had started out as a completely consensual encounter. But at some point, after he had me alone, he began to hurt me. When I asked him to stop, he continued. He got off on my pain and terror. He was bigger, he was stronger. The humiliation and horror stay with me to this day.

I could not admit what happened. Forget admitting it to others, I could not admit it to myself.  Continue reading “I was raped a few years ago”

Thing, a short biography

Thing, a short biography

Once upon a time, there was a girl who had an official name – the name on her birth certificate, a name for bureaucrats and people who didn’t know her well – and a true name. The true name was Thing.

Thing was taught charts and graphs early on. She knew one’s beautiful years must be maximized for profit.

Thing was not symmetrically beautiful, but this too was an asset to be maximized – rich men with brains got bored of traditional beauty, the same set of breasts, the same set of lips, they weren’t collectibles. If you broke one, you could always get another.

Thing’s looks and intelligence made her a collectible. Rich men with brains came up to her at parties and lit her cigarettes for her and informed her of the fact. “If I broke you, I couldn’t get another of you,” they said.

Intelligence was problematic, though. It wouldn’t be bought. Instead it cried out inside her like a child lost in a fairy tale forest, worried about the possibility that there were creatures with teeth in it.

Intelligence wouldn’t let Thing sleep at night. And the men next to her couldn’t sleep either. And men like that valued sleep.

To be perfectly honest, intelligence always had it in for Thing.

It caused her much suffering when she was young, because she couldn’t figure out who she was. This upset the boys.

Things were supposed to be things, boys knew that, their mothers and fathers and gods and televisions had taught them, and a thing that didn’t act accordingly was engaged in false advertising.

She deserved to be punished, and punished she was, painfully and repeatedly, in a way that left marks.

The marks of pain spread inside Thing and grew darker. The darkness covered more and more territory and became a breakaway republic. There was war there, and death, and yowling cats, and cockroaches whispering across cracked plaster inside lightless buildings.

Thing liked it, though she would not say so, aware of the fact that nobody would light her cigarettes at parties if she let on about what was going on inside her, and lighter fluid was expensive, truth be told.

In high school, Thing had been an ugly duckling – you’d think that this would’ve forced her to open up to the possibility that if no man wanted her to be his thing, she could try being human. But nobody taught a class on being human. There weren’t any pamphlets she could read.

So Thing went through life and paused in the archways of the night and listened for the wolves who could always smell the darkness on her. Continue reading “Thing, a short biography”

Dear Scott Adams, it’s mostly FEMALE lions who hunt. And so on.

So Scott Adams, the man behind Dilbert (oh the humanity!), showed his ass again. I read about it on Feministe. I’m not going to link to his original post – because screw it.

Still, I’d like to address it. Because oddly enough, I do agree with Scott Adams on one important point – there certainly IS a crisis of masculinity going on in countries like the United States. Though I don’t believe that said crisis hinges on the whole notion of “ZOMG men are not allowed to rape! Their natural instincts are being suppressed by hairy-legged feminist-types!”

First of all, let’s get real about rape – it happens, and most of the perpetrators get away with it. Every once in a while, you’ll have a terrible story like the Duke lacrosse fake rape thing – but the majority of sexual assaults are real, and nobody presses charges afterwards. There is usually too much shock, denial, and, hey, most women are raped by guys they know. It’s hard for them to reconcile such a breach of trust with the image they have in their heads – the image of the guy as just a normal fella.

Most rapists, I believe, don’t even refer to their actions as “rape.” Some are sick individuals who get off on the violation, but the majority, I think, don’t really get the concept of consent, and have been brought up to believe that certain women and girls are “asking for it,” etc.

There are also frequent cases of men raping other men, or boys. And I’m not just talking about prison. Hardly any of that ever gets reported.

And sometimes, women will rape men too. And most of these situations revolve around someone being drugged. And how many of those do you think are ever reported?

So the way I see it, we do, in fact, allow rape. Even though, as a society, we believe that it’s wrong – we don’t exactly deal with the issue. We merely pay lip-service to it.

Now, for some reason, Scott Adams seems to believe that rape is the most natural thing in the world. Which is odd, because how exactly does one define “natural”? Even in some of the most patriarchal societies to date – rape was framed as kinda a problem, whether for property reasons (“You violated my woman! But she BELONGS to me!”) or otherwise. Even societies that think of marital rape as no big deal, for example, tend to think of it as a violation – if not one that anyone needs to worry their pretty heads over it.

Scott Adams believes that men are basically born into a world in which their “natural instincts” are framed as “shameful and criminal.” It’s not that surprising to me that an American man, even a highly successful, even famous, American man should feel this way. Actually, fame and success are sort of part of the issue here, are they not? Being famous and successful, you have farther to fall. You are way more scrutinized. And as such, you being to scrutinize yourself more. And you realize that there are gaps in your self-knowledge. And you can’t address those gaps in a meaningful manner, because you have, indeed, had your sexuality pathologized for most of your life. Just not in the way that you think.

Americans are not big on sexual honesty. We’re not encouraged to make sense of our desires. The best most people can do is learning socially acceptable catchphrases, such as “no means no” – and hardly ever address the issue of why we need such catchphrases to begin with.

Scott Adams writes:

The way society is organized at the moment, we have no choice but to blame men for bad behavior. If we allowed men to act like unrestrained horny animals, all hell would break loose.

Society is not organized this way “at the moment.” It has always had rules. Rules have shifted over time, but rules are also the general reason why the “lion and the zebra at the watering hole” is not a valid comparison to men and women and rape. Even if you cast notions of morality aside, our brains are more complex than the brains of lions and zebras. Such complexity demands order – and justification for said order. Order is a fluid concept – but it’s also what has allowed the human species to become dominant on planet Earth.

If a man is just an unrestrained horny animal – then the entirety of human history fails to make sense. Look at Einstein. He was really into ladies…

… In fact, he was a cheater, some people even claim he was a rapist – or just a creep of sorts. He was also, um, Einstein. All jokes aside, I somehow doubt that Einstein developed the theory of relativity simply as a way to avoid dealing with “natural” sexual frustration. Rather, Einstein was a complicated human being, like everyone else, and he had his sexual urges and possibly even his violent urges – and he had his urge to do complex theoretical work. He had an oulet for his ideas – he probably had way less of an outlet for his issues with women. Was his excellence in physics unnatural? Whereas his troubled personal relationships were just dandy?

“We have no choice but to blame men for bad behaviour” – oh no! So if Einstein decided he was just going to run around and hump everything in sight, and he had never become a great physicist, this would be, like, a good thing? A natural thing? I’m fairly certain that Einstein’s brain was bigger than his dick – and I’m also fairly certain that nature, the Holy Grail of guys like Scott Adams, planned it that way – but using one and not the other would be, like, OK? And in the best interests of the human race? Wow, who knew?

I think the real problem with guys like Scott Adams is this whole fact that most American guys are brought up with the idea that they are undesirable (in fact, Einstein may have had the same problem growing up in Munich!). Just like women, when you think about it, but this insecurity is taught in a different way. The average American guy internalizes a lot of bullshit about “alpha males”, and judges himself accordingly. The lucky few are natural-born pussy magnets, the rest have to scramble and compensate somehow – that’s the game. It’s really messed up, and I think it screws up boys big-time. These boys are not taught to value themselves – at best, they’re taught how to be cocky as a means of covering up a bunch of self-esteem issues. They’re taught that their sexuality is totally separate from the rest of their identity – like an atrophied muscle. And women, they’re taught, don’t really like them. And they should pay women back in kind – should they get steamrolled or otherwise humiliated. So hating women and desiring women physically is framed as normal.

It’s a crappy situation and it affects more people than Scott Adams could shake a “round peg” at.

So let me get this straight – you slept with this guy…

… And, as one of my friends just pointed out – “whoops, he wasn’t who you thought he was.”

So the logical thing is, of course, to accuse him of rape. And then have him convicted. Of rape. By deception.

What if he had lied about his salary? His level of education? What if he had told you that he’s a great lover and he turned out to be one of these guys who lasts half a minute…?

What if this had been a Jewish dude looking to get laid in Jerusalem, and he’d decided that the best way to score was to tell some Arab woman that he’s actually an Arab? Think we would have heard about this one then? (Well, maybe. I don’t know. This isn’t necessarily a rhetorical question.)

Yes, the guy absolutely sounds like a sleazebag. And I am 100% certain that being confronted with his lies was a violating experience. I feel violated every time some dude lies to me about some crap. I can’t imagine how violated I would feel if a dude wound up lying to me about his actual identity.

And yes, I absolutely understand, that due to the complicated socio-political situation in Israel, these cases are way more complicated than what they look like on the outside. For all we know, this was a deliberate attempt by this guy to, above all else, shame and humiliate this woman (the fact that he apparently walked out before she even had the chance to dress herself is probably telling). And the shame and humiliation is something that’s borne out of a number of issues – you can’t be categorical about it. And that cannot be ignored.

Still, she could have sued him for fraud. Or just thrown her drink in his face at a party (I find Bloody Marys work best, in situations like this) and moved on. A criminal case sets a dangerous precedent.

A friend of mine recently developed a big crush on a guy in the course of a work assignment. They wound up sleeping together. The next day, she found that he had lied to her about a bunch of crap – including his name and, guess what, his criminal history. And I don’t mean a criminal history as in he got busted for shoplifting as a screwed-up teen many years ago. It was pretty horrible for her, and she spent the next few days spontaneously bursting into tears. She even took up smoking for those few days (and this is someone who has lectured me on my Parliaments very extensively). But then she moved on. She warned all of her friends about the creep, but she moved on.

And talking to her about it today, we both agreed that a rape case against the guy would have been ridiculous.

Speaking of anecdotes – I spent 6 years of my life with an Arab man who made me very happy. I get pretty tired of the assumption that “zomg Arab men are all rapists and violent terrorist bastards.” It’s a blanket assumption that many people make when confronted with cases like this, and it sucks.