Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Rape Culture: So Far Left To Go

[Content note: rape, rape culture, rape apologism, etc.]

It's been a disheartening past few days.

I can't emphasize the trigger on this post enough, so please skip it if you can't tolerate the worst of the worst of our rape culture.

On Friday, I received a submission over on Tumblr that contained screenshots of two men complaining that they can't BELIEVE that nasty, horrible FEMINISTS try to tell everyone that consent cannot be assumed in a marriage. The second image submitted even contains one of them saying "I rape my wife all the time. Well, based on how feminists...define rape."

(Last I checked, feminists define rape as the absence of consent so...)

It's horrific. These people were openly advocating for the belief that spouses (specifically men it seems) should have total, unencumbered access to their partner's bodies whenever they want, no questions asked. Or in other words, you "can't" rape your wife because marriage = consent always. And they discussed this on a totally public status, which you can still track down at the original source.

I know by now in my online life, I shouldn't be shocked by anything that I come across. But part of me still couldn't believe that this was a real life discussion being had. The idea that just because you marry someone, you now have implied access to their bodies, whenever you want, is utterly beyond me. And I'm horrified that people are willing to go to bat for this idea, especially given the sobering statistics...like the fact that marital rape victims suffer trauma longer and are more likely to experience repeated assaults than other types of victims.

Within hours of posting the submission on Tumblr, I received hundreds (and now thousands) of reblogs, likes, and comments. Thankfully, most people were as as outraged and disgusted as I. But frustratingly (as is what happens whenever one of my posts gets circulated wide and far) some people decided to stick up for the folks in the screen shots. There was plenty of "He didn't REALLY mean he rapes his wife..."and "We don't actually know what happens in their relationship" as if these things change what was originally said, at all. I kept blocking and blocking anyone who decided to stick up for the rape apologists (and thereby be one themselves) but by Friday afternoon I decided it was probably best to just take a short break from Tumblr for self care.

It was just too much to see all the notes come across my "activity tab."

Taking a quick break from Tumblr was helpful for me, but that's not the luxury that rape survivors have in their daily lives in the rape culture. Rape culture normalizes rape and shames victims at every turn. Messages like the ones promoted on that original status are still mainstream enough that people unapologetically share them. That's why I will forever speak out against attitudes like this and even seemingly more mild things like rape "jokes."

This whole experience is disturbing and highlights how far we have to go. Like I said, I get in my protective bubble about these issues and think no one would actually believe someone "can't" rape their partner or that women "can't" rape men or whatever, but then I'm hit with the stark reality of what my fellow person actually thinks.

It's terrifying, sickening, and life's work affirming all at the same time.

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