Friday, February 03, 2006

Rape and survival

From a post by the intelligent Ginmar at A View from a Broad (full post there)

Patricia Hearst was supposed to die or be raped and be properly humbled and abashed: she wasn't supposed to try and survive and make us question the rape or die 'choices' we give women. Rape victims have to die because when they don't it's really hard not to ask questions about what rape is, and what purpose it serves in society. If they insist on living, or worse yet, recovering, then they're not obeying the rape script. Rape is supposed to teach a woman a lesson, to make her humble. As long as we insist on rescueing women after rape instead of before, then we're all complicit in that.


This stood out to me. Why? Is it because most women I know have been sexually assaulted or raped? Is it because many of these women are among the strongest and loudest anti-patriarchy voices out there?

I have severe PTSD (because of a lot of things, sexual assault being one of them) and I've found that even before I had the breakdown that made me stop ignoring the fact that I had PTSD occured, I was angry and I was fighting tooth and nail against the patriarchy. Because that is the way that I found to survive. To many of the women I know, it is also their way of surviving the trauma of rape. And while they may have become more cautious of their actions and of scenarios they've put themselves in (me too, here), they have become the LOUDEST, MOST RADICAL people you could meet. It's the only thing to do really. Anger is a step towards healing, as anyome working through PTSD knows.

My friends, women I've talked with through my work as an advocate, women who have felt comfortable enough to share with me your stories of sexual assault and of your survival, well, first off, thank you, you give me hope. Secondly, what I've learned is that we have not, and will not "learn our lesson." We are not humble. (Hear that rapists? Your plan to silence us doesn't work.) I know that for me personally, I become more and more radical every year. I see more and more things every year. The lesson I learned is that I have to be the opposite of humble, I have to demand space, demand freedom, demand to be seen and treated as a person. If rape is supposed to keep us in fear, those who have survived (and there are many out there...it is possible heal, to get on with your life) teach us that we can face that fear and we can win.

The idea of rape is used to keep us scared, to keep us responsible for being raped, instead of blaming those truly responsible: the rapists and our rape culture. It's horrible and I want no one to face it, but I'm going to repeat what (I hate) everyone says to me: we survive, we become stronger, we fight, and we are better. We're not afraid anymore, your plan didn't work. SO take your rape culture and shove it up your right nostril. We're coming for you.

I am amazed at times that I survived and continue to survive. I am amazed at all the women I meet who are the same. But the problem is, I don't know many radicals out there who haven't suffered this or have known someone very close to them who has been assaulted (I do believe that sexual assault happens in Domestic/Dating violence situations and I know some women who come to radical feminism through surviving DV.) How do we make this real for women without them having to experience something horrendous like this? How can we bring more people into the understanding that radical feminists have of the world before they're brutalized? Because really, that is what we need to do, and I have no idea how to do it. Talking and pointing out numbers, etc., doesn't work, I've done it.

How do we show someone how marginalized they are by patriarchy before the patriarchy shows them (in a much more violent way)? I want all those women/girls who half get it to understand it completely. How can I do that when my words don't seem to have any sway? (I understand they do, but I can't/won't/don't want to wait until everyone has an awakening (which unfortunately, IMHO, happens after a traumatizing event) because that'll take to damn long? Why am I fighting with "feminists" over porn and exploitation? Why can't they see it as clearly as I do? That those images promote a rape culture, that I'm not going to be ok with anything that promotes a rape culture? Why, why, WHY????


(You hear that assholes: if you don't want anymore radical feminists you should simply stop raping/beating us. See that simple. So stop.)

Also, I finally got around to making a thought out response to the compulsive masculinity comments)

11 comments:

Lorenzo said...

Well, at least you got to read it! I thought it had been for nought!

lost clown said...

Did you leave a comment too?

Ack. Mine seems to be missing now and BB's comment is still in the ether. Ack.

lost clown said...

i.e. I didn't get to read yours.

Lorenzo said...

Reprising my previous comment:

My own path to quasi-radical feminism (I subscribe to a historical materialist conception of gender a-la Firestone but with some differences...) has been quite different from the pattern you describe for a couple of obvious reasons:

1) I'm a man.

2) Because I'm a man I don't have the lived experience of a woman in patriachy.

3) I study political economy and particularly radical political economy (Marxist and Gramscian)

Because of these reasons, I actually came a radical feminist understanding of patriachy by theory. I got interested thanks to participation on a couple of feminist boards back in the day but I wanted a more rigorous theoretical explication of the various ides and frameworks so I read quite a few feminist authors. I found the work of radical feminists like Firestone, Dworkin and MacKinnon and existentialist feminists like Simone-de-Beauvoir most persuasive.

Because I accept a historical materialist understanding of production I had no excuse within the bounds of intellectual honesty to reject a historical materialist understanding of social reproduction and thus gender.

And I've had success with precisely this line of argument with other Marxists and Gramscians, however, this is clearly not a tactic that is more widely applicable!

It does show, however, that ideas can be key in illuminated the scope and pervasiveness of patriachy that might not be otherwise obvious to young women?

lost clown said...

I have found that some men have come to radical feminism in similar ways to the ones you describe. I certainly became more radicalised reading Firestone, Dworkin, et. al., but one can argue that I was predisposed to radical feminism.

I am glad to hear that theory works for some people, as I have written some and wanted to know that it's not in vain. I am also trying to look for ways to get the younger women involved before they become brutalised.

Unfortunately I have traveled in anarchist/IWW circles for a long time and I don't see this making much different in whether people are more open to radical ideas or not. My polyamory article was not only an attack on the "anarchist"/"radical" communities practices of polyamory, but also the pervasive sexism. It might also be because of anarchist theory, and the way that the sommunities are structured. I've never read any anarchist theory, but I still may call myself one. The IWW definitely has more men (that I have met) who take a radical stance on feminism (I can't say more women as, unfortunately, the IWW has less women involved then the anarchist movement. Less people that I have met in general, but every national gathering I go to is like 5:1 men:women.) WHich makes me think that there is a better understanding of patriarchy in the IWW ranks then the anarchists. (And I do know a younger women who is becoming more and more radical through working with these men and hanging out with people like me. She kicks ass, and is outside the model I have seen for radical feminism.)

*sigh*

Lorenzo said...

I can see how converting anarchists to the cause could be a problem. There is much anarchism that reflects and absolutist extension of classical liberal philosophy rather than the more social understanding of many Marxists and Gramscians.

I've found my lion's share of success with Marxists and Gramscians mainly because I can play off the historical materialist conception of society's essential function of production and social reproduction. Firestone's work presented the first historical materialist framework for understanding gender and thus social reproduction on its own terms, rather than as an adjunct of production (as in Marxist/socialist feminism).

Which isn't to say that radical politics are always an indicator of willingness to consider radical feminist perspectives, sadly.

lost clown said...

Unfortunately not. (radical politics bit.) It's a lot harder to give up your privledge then it is to hate capitalism and yell "Smash the state." I get this feeling that I had a deeper analysis then most of the "anarchists" that I meet (and I'm talking social, financial, political, etc.) I've noticed that there are a lot of "manarchists" out there who are sexist and racist. I guess it doesn't help that most of them are rebelling middle class white kids who don't think they need a deeper analysis of the world then a straight anti-capitalist worldview.*

My problem comes in because I feel that someone who would radically change their lifestyle to the one that many self-proclaimed anarchists live, and subscribe to a radical leftist philosophy they would have a better understanding, but then again maybe this is why I don't work with these groups so much.

Funny, because now that I think about it, most the radical feminists I know could best be described as socialists. (Some are anarchists, but they tend to fall on the syndacylist end of the spectrum.)

*REMEMBER, if you don't do this, then I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT YOU.

Biting Beaver said...

LC, I'll be damned if I can remember what I posted on this one *grin*

So, I'll go with a generic equivalent thereof-

This post rocks! I understood exactly what you're saying and it touched a hell of a nerve in me as well. Even upon re-reading it I nodded and smiled.

Excellent job and keep up the good work-

Oh, and because nobody has done it yet...

"HEY, I'm an anarchist feminist and YOU'RE not representing me!!!!!"

Just kidding, I'm just the garden variety radical, I just figured it's obligatory to put in something like that because, well, it hasn't been done yet in this thread hehehe.

lost clown said...

That's why I included the disclaimer. I, for all intents and purposes, am a feminist/anarchist (although I feel that that term is redundant as feminists (well, true feminists..oh god people are going to hate me for that) should be against all hierarchy and domination b/c as long as it exists so will oppression and we should be anti-all oppression.

Oh and thanks.

ginmar said...

Oh, hell, don't get me started on anger in women. Just don't. Angry women are women who value themselves more than their culture does.

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