So, in preparation for part one of a big honkin’ Why We Should Teach ‘Don’t Rape’ And Not ‘Don’t Get Raped’ post I’ve been planning, I was pondering something that I’ve run across in various other blogs of this nature.
The gist is this: in an attempt to explain to people who may have little experience and/or perspective on issues of victim-blaming, a metaphor kept popping up that, at first glance, seemed pretty adept at conveying how ludicrous the reactions of people in authority can be when it comes to sexual assault. There were many variations on the theme, but here’s one in happy little picture form* that I happened to save a while back.
Is that big enough for everyone to read? I hope so. If not, let me know in the comments, and I’ll resize it.
So, like I said, when I first encountered these, I was overall pretty satisfied with the comparison. I mean, sure, it wasn’t perfect, but it helped to communicate some fraction of the unbelievable frustration, absurdity, and generally fucked-up logic that gets thrown your way when you try to tell someone about a sexual assault. However, something still was bothering me, and I finally gave it the time to realize exactly what that is.
While it’s a reasonable metaphor (in my opinion) for the victim’s** side of things, it’s an absolutely misleading and generally terrible analogy when you look from the side of the rapist (or, I guess, mugger, if we’re following the terminology of the metaphor itself). I say this for a couple of reasons, and I will probably think of more before long, but here’s the main one.
The Big Important Difference: theft is nothing like rape because, in my view, there can be times where stealing is morally excusable. Someone can need to steal out of desperation, because in another aspect of this fucked-up society, the very act of getting your basic needs met in order to ensure your survival costs money.
However, to put it bluntly, nobody is ever going to drop dead because they couldn’t find someone to consensually fuck. To unintentionally equate rape with a crime that can arise from necessity severely undermines the whole point of the comparison, if you look at it long enough. No one ever needs to sexually assault someone. Ever. Case closed.
Am I nitpicking? That depends on your definition, I guess. But I want to be perfectly clear when I say that, in a society of victim-blaming/shaming and Boys-Will-Be-Boys mentality, even well-intentioned explanations and analogies need to be periodically reinspected, picked apart, and reworked.
*You’ll notice me using the adjective “happy” in a lot of sort of inappropriate and sarcastic/ironic ways. I do this mainly because, for some reason, this is a very difficult word for me, and I’m trying to reassimmilate it back into my vocabulary in sort of darkly humorous ways. I don’t know how else I could really use it without feeling a little bit sick, at this point.
**I don’t use the very popular “survivor” wording, despite the fact that it’s probably a better and more accurate way to go. Why? Good question, I’m not totally sure myself. Maybe I’ll figure it out one of these days and make a post on it.