Let’s Talk About Rape Culture

Trigger warning–assault, rape and the perpetuation of such including the culture of violence and oppression will be discussed.

Rape sucks.

I was raped three years ago by a former friend. I had been drinking, but was in no way drunk. I was in jeans and a Star Wars crew neck. I was made up. I had high-heeled boots on. My hair was up. We had just come back from a party and all the rest of our friends had paired off. We went to his room to crash–something I had done many, many times. He raped me. I was SAFE-kitted the next day.

Then I was told that by the police at my university that because they found no evidence (he used a condom) and there was no sign of a struggle (I was afraid of getting physically hurt so I didn’t move…something I learned to do, ironically, from a workshop that the UPD ran), they couldn’t help me. The fact that I had alcohol in my system, regardless of how little, also worked against me. I had one of the police officers tell me that “drunk sex that you regret” unfortunately didn’t constitute as rape. I was so shocked at the dismissiveness and immediate victim-blaming (although in retrospect, I shouldn’t have been) that I dropped it.

So yes. Rape sucks. It is shitty.

But I think that as a survivor, worse than the actual act of rape or assault is rape culture. Rape culture is like a perfect shit storm of what-the-actual-fuckery. It’s something that I myself find so difficult to talk about that I’m going link crazy in this post to avoid explicating it myself and thus buggering it up for those who want a clear, conclusive, and non-rambling definition of rape culture.

So here it is (again) if you need it.

Normally, I’m not rape-triggered. I’ll feel triggered when it comes to issues of sex and orientation. I understand that those issues and rape often go hand in hand, but normally my rape does not come up for me, personally. In fact, I remember only two times post-rape that I was triggered. One was when I was at a club; I had been  ass-grabbed by seven different men several different times during a one-hour time span and security did nothing about it (“If you don’t like it, leave,” I believe was the professional response that they came up with). The other was when I actually ran into my rapist after more than two years of not having seen or heard from him.

Today was lucky number three.

I had been walking to grab some lunch with a group of my co-workers and as I briskly passed the street crosswalk, a man bumped into me. He grasped my inner thigh, dangerously close to my crotch, and trailed his hand to my ass as he brushed past me. I was so shocked and it happened so fast that I barely had enough time to register it and half-heartedly shouted “you fucking asshole!” to his retreating figure, which was already on other side of the street.

My co-workers looked at me quizzically. None of them had noticed, and I didn’t blame them–it really did happen fast.

Without another word, I broke away and strode ahead of them and to the gourmet food truck to place my order for lunch. By the time the rest of them had caught up with me, I had already ordered and was waiting for the service people to prep my food. The adrenaline dump was dissipating, my breathing was beginning to even out, my heart rate was starting to slow back down. An older female co-worker of mine, seeing that I was distressed asked me if all was well.

“Some dude just groped me out of fucking no where,” I explained. “Just walked right by me and grabbed my thigh–can you believe that?”

She chuckled. “Jeez. Well, I guess that’s what happens when you’re a pretty girl, right?”

My heart sank as she chuckled again. “Well, I would think that that’s what happens when you’re an asshole.” I tried to say it light-heartedly, but it came out as somewhat of a humorless murmur.

We both laughed uncomfortably and I immediately felt upset. I wanted to be mad at her, but I couldn’t because what she said was out of ignorance. She is not a rape apologist. She is just not informed. And that fucking depresses me, because she is what a lot of people (even myself included) would call progressive, and genuinely meant what she said as a compliment.

Placing the blame of being groped on someone’s level of attractiveness invalidates their experience and shifts the fault of being groped onto the victim. It’s a sad state of affairs and incredibly telling of how we societally think of rape that the first reaction we have to a person who was just groped is to compliment them on how attractive they must be.

I listed my level of sobriety, what I was wearing, and who I was with in the beginning when explaining the events surrounding my rape to demonstrate that it doesn’t fucking matter. A rapist will rape regardless of the situation.

So yeah. Rape sucks. But rape culture? Somehow, it will always just feel infinitesimally worse.

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Sweet, Sweet, Genderblind Stupidity

Well. Last night was apparently very eventful outside of the Von Quityourbitching household. While Obi-Wayne and I settled into bed with the Shitty Pups at the witching hour of 8:30pm, my AARP card-carrying mother was getting down at the country club for a homegirl’s birthday party (bourgie-ness is apparently hereditary, yes).

Cue a phone call at 10pm.

I felt around on my nightstand for my phone and saw the stock image of my mother’s brown face smiling back at me. Hoping she was calling to swing by and pick up her grand pup (he had been acting shittier than usual as was demonstrated by his current energetic yapping, and it would have been welcome), I slid my thumb across the screen and croaked, “hello?”

“Did I wake you up???”

“No, I’ve always sounded like this. You just haven’t noticed in the years you’ve raised me.”

“Oh. Good.”

My mother, as a foreigner, still did not fully catch sarcasm, despite having been fluent in English for over 25 years.

“What’s up?” I prompted her in Portuguese.

“Ai, I was just at this party and saw these two women get in a fight!”

“Well that’ll certainly be good for the country club’s street cred.”

“I don’t know what is that…” she retorted in English.

I suppressed a laugh. “It doesn’t matter. What happened?”

“Have noooot a cluuuue. I was at the table and this woman threw white wine at this other woman’s face. Then the girl who spilled the wine pulled the other woman’s hair and guess what her husband did while his waive was being assaulted?”

“What?”

“Nothing!”

This, admittedly, made me sit up. “Seriously?”

“Yes! I guess the woman who attacked his wife is his cousin, and all the husband said was,”–here she dropped her voice a few octaves lower and reverted back to English–“‘I’m never speaking to you again’! Can you believe it?”

I frowned. “No.”

“Real men, they don’t exist here in this country. In my country, he would have grabbed her by the arm and escorted her from the room! If my husband eeeever let this happen, he’d be served with divorce papers the next day! These women, they are unfortunately more like men nowadays. And the men, they are all wimps!”

I listened to her speak of gender and cultural polarities for another five minutes before we bid each other boa noite and I lay back down in bed.

“What’d she want? She taking the dog?” Obi-Wayne mumbled against my neck once I had settled in again.

I tried to shake my head no, realized that I was too lazy to, and instead managed a half-shrug. “Just wanted to talk. Lady at this country club apparently got her ass handed to her by her husband’s (female) cousin.”

A beat.

“…so what you’re saying is that she’s not taking the dog…”

I turned around to reply only to come face to face with the pup, who had decided to settle down on Obi-Wayne’s head. Pups blinked back sleepily before closing his eyes, unaware that his new bed was my husband’s face.

“No, she’s not,” I finally replied.

And with a half-shrug of his own, Obi-Wayne went right back to sleep, his snores echoing off the walls within minutes of dozing off.

I closed my eyes, but didn’t sleep. I though about what my mother had said, shifting every so often so that I could lovingly elbow my husband in the ribs to get him to wake up long enough for him to shift to a position less conducive to snoring.

“Where are the real men”? “Women are the new men”? What the fuck does that even mean? And is that necessarily a bad thing?

Well okay, I mean, yes, of course assaulting a person would definitely be filed under behavioral “no-no’s”, but why does the idea of a “manly” woman equate with an aggressive woman? And why is the idea of a girly (re: “wimpy”) man automatically equated with timidness?

And what the hell was up with the implication that it was mostly women that engaged in this kind of shitty behavior anyway? The idea that men no longer have a monopoly on Stupid Fights is laughable.

I came to the conclusion that this isn’t about men versus women. No, this is about an epidemic of stupidity. Shit, I’ve seen two dudes get in a full-blown fistfight over which hockey team is better the same weekend I witnessed two chicks beat the ever-loving crap out of each other over who spilled what on whose shitty fifteen-dollar Forever 21 duds.

Still, all that said, I have to admit that there has been a noticeable rise in female aggression in the last decade and a half or so. Am I missing something? Did I not get the memo? Maybe it’s the same one that’s been floating around with the picture of the faked moon landing and the gay agenda, because Lord knows I haven’t seen shit.

Maybe we are all being secretly taped for a season or five of Real Housewives of Blaggedy Blerb, and only a select few of us know and are just trying to get the most air time?

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Secretly the illuminati.

If that’s the case, I feel sorry for whomever has been filming me during any point that I am getting my vag lasered (re: hair abortion). And if it really is true, I want my cut of the revenue, damn it. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure someone’s already cornered the market for torture porn.

Such is life.