Thursday, January 12, 2006

the rape culture hits home

This isn't so much a well-thought-out post as a link-pimpage and rant.

The Happy Feminist recently posted a very, very good post on "how rape victims themselves often fail to grasp that they have the right to be free of forced sex".
She takes from real-life experience as a prosecutor, and gives examples of cases where the women were obviously raped, but none of them really saw it as rape because they "went along with it" or didn't have "the right" to say no.

As frightening as it seems to hear these girls with stories that seem obvious to be rape stories deny that they were, in fact, raped, it's a pretty accurate depiction of real life.

Example to illustrate this point:
This summer, a friend of mine got wasted at a party she was throwing at the apartment she shares with a few other people. She had a boyfriend of about 2 years, but there was this kid there who would not stop hitting on her. Eventually, she was intoxicated to the point that she just went along with it, and I was wasted enough to go along with her. Next thing I knew, the three of us were in her room, and the guy had spent the last five minutes telling her she should go down on him, occasionally "jokingly" pushing her head toward his crotch, and after five minutes of coercion, she agreed. As did I. The only reason he didn't get us to have intercourse with him was because one of her boyfriend's friends walked in on us, and she freaked out.
When we woke up the next morning, we talked to some other people at the party. Turns out, he'd had a total of one beer and one shot, and the last drink he had - the beer - was a good 2 hours before he convinced us to go upstairs with him.
We felt like shit, but we saw it as us being stupid, not anything more.

She then joined the rape prevention group on campus, and learned that what happened really could be classified as rape, because he was obviously sober and we were obviously intoxicated. Her therapist told her the same thing. Her therapist even suggested we press charges.
We didn't. She was just pretty blown away by the whole idea that what happened fell under the category of rape.
I still don't see it as rape. For me, at least. For her, yes. For me, absolutely not.

The thing is, though, I know that it's exactly that line of thinking that perpetuates and contributes to the rape culture, and the lack of education around the "What's Rape?" question.
But me knowing that does not negate the indoctrination of the rape culture and the internalization of the self-blame.

Not to mention the fact that what happened to us is totally ok by most people's perspectives. We got drunk, we made a mistake. That is how the story is spun. It was our fault for getting drunk in the first place. We should've been more careful about who we were drinking with. We should've had sober, or at least less intoxicated, people watching us to make sure we didn't do anything especially stupid. We should've done a lot of things, and didn't.
But since when is it our responsibility to ensure that no douchebag takes advantage of us when we're intoxicated? Since when is it our job to control the actions of others?
Yes, there's something to be said for taking certain steps to safeguard oneself.
But for christ's sake. She was in her own house. I've known this girl since preschool. We thought we were safe.
But even if we didn't, it doesn't matter. It doesn't take the blame away from the people who commit these acts. It doesn't make it our fault.