i am a radical feminist, writer, and jewelry designer/maker who loves reading, collecting turquoise, and learning new languages.
Posts tagged rape
According to the data provided by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, there were an estimated 84,767 forcible rapes of females reported to law enforcement in the year 2010. That is 232 rapes every day of the year, or almost 10 rapes per hour. Along with this information comes the disturbing realization of the degree to which rape permeates our daily lives: ten times an hour, every hour of every day. Regardless of the severity of these statistics alone and the probability that these numbers are an underestimate considering only reported rapes and attempted rapes are included, there is a general refusal to acknowledge the degree to which we live in a rape culture.
The statistics mentioned above necessitate an examination of the elements of our existence, from the most basic needs to mental and emotional desires. If such an act of hatred and power occurs so frequently, there must be underlying concepts, myths, and dynamics conditioned into our society that perpetuate this heinous crime. All of these forces combine to form and maintain a rape culture, or “a complex of beliefs that encourages male sexual aggression and supports violence against women … where violence is seen as sexy and sexuality as violent” (Buchwald, Fletcher, and Roth XI). In a rape culture, women are viewed through a male gaze and are heavily objectified. They exist to fulfill man’s every need, with no regard for their own, and are subject to a “continuum of threated violence” that is “present[ed] as the norm” (Buchwald, Fletcher, and Roth XI). The problem with acknowledgement then, is that within its definition rape culture is quite an intangible force that lacks illustration and contains an overwhelming variety of manifestations. There are statistics, behaviors, parts of speech, and other media available as examples, but without a deep understanding of and background in feminist theory these examples may seem disjointed, unrelated, or merely exceptional examples of poor behavior that do not necessarily reflect systemic issues. This is understandable considering not every person living within this culture will swallow its myths whole, but we as individuals do not exist within a vacuum. As long as this society perpetuates the narratives of rape culture, so are we subject to them.
Rape culture saturates every level of our existence, from physiological needs to the desire for and process of self-actualization. In order to concretely demonstrate this it is necessary to include a template for human life in terms of individual needs and fulfillment. Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is an arrangement of essential facets of individual experience required for “development of quality of life” (Hagerty 249). If each of the five levels of the hierarchy is met, one can achieve completion and satisfaction as an individual. According to Maslow, the “chief principle of organization in human motivational life is the arrangement of basic needs in a hierarchy of lesser or greater priority” (qtd. in Hagerty), and the fulfillment of these needs “follows a fixed sequence” (Hagerty 250). The completion of one level is contingent upon the completion of its predecessor. If one does not meet the conditions of the first level, it is difficult to move on to the second, third, and so forth. Rape culture manifests on every level of the hierarchy of needs, from the most basic physiological needs to the more advanced goal of self-actualization. One who is a member of an oppressed group cannot fulfill every level of the hierarchy and reach the top because the needs of the oppressors take precedent and obstruct the fulfillment of the oppressed group. In a rape culture, the oppression of females infects the hierarchy of needs at each level, which hinders progression from one level to the next and complicates the ability of females to reach the ultimate fulfillment of self-actualization. From the Introduction to “Examining the Manifestation of Rape Culture in Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs,” a paper I wrote when I was 21.
If a child is born and raised in a Third World brothel to an utterly dependent, destitute prostitute, and is sold to men starting at the age of 8 or 9, then what does “consent” in her case mean, really?
Do people really believe that suddenly, the minute after the clock strikes midnight on her eighteenth birthday, she is capable of giving valid consent? Consent that would stand up to any scrutiny on ethical grounds?
When people see women just like her in porn on-line — young women from Vietnam, Thailand, Eastern Europe, Guatemala, Mexico, etc. — are these “porn stars” giving valid consent? Or have they been so beaten down, so subjugated by the people who have been providing them just enough crappy food to keep them “pretty”, sub-standard housing in a nasty brothel, no education except how to please “johns”, no cash lest they run away — since they were minors — for a terrible, terrible price — that any mythical “consent” is an abominable lie?
The thing is, when you see these young women on-line — with their dead eyes, their painted-on “smiles”, their utterly mechanical motions for the camera — you have no way of knowing if one of them was sold to a brothel when she was eight or ran away from a raping step-father at thirteen and was then ensnared by a drug-pushing pimp or if she woke up swimming in wealth and privilege the day she turned eighteen and decided that she wanted to supplement her trust fund and her college fund by making a few porn movies. The thing is, the odds are 99 to 1 that she is the former and not the latter, that she is little better than a slave.
How can any sane person “get off” knowing that the person being filmed for his pleasure is a performing shell of a human being who has been so severely abused for so long that the very idea of consent is as meaningless as the “consent” given by a cowering, shivering dog who has been beaten and abused by a fourth-rate, drunken circus trainer since it was a pup?
http://evebitfirst.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/quantum-consent/ (via noanodyne)
No Woman No Slut - On Slutwalk
“It’s basic power relations - women walking around in short skirts calling themselves sluts won’t change the fact that under patriarchy we are viewed as slabs of meat and orifices on legs - but i guess if we say it’s “reclaimed” suddenly our lack of social power becomes irrelevant. The feminist movement needs to be reclaimed and re-examined, at least this middle-class only, liberal nonsense that changes no social structures, nor challenges the actual root of our oppression - are we hear to appease the oppressor or are we here to declare our status of “human being?”“
From “The Mass Psychology of Rape: An Introduction,” the first chapter of Susan Brownmiller’s Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape
“Krafft-Ebing, who pioneered in the study of sexual disorders, had little to say about rape. His famous Psychopathia Sexualis gives amazingly short shrift to the act and its doers. He had it on good authority, he informed his readers, that most rapists were degenerate, imbecilic men. Having made that sweeping generalization, Krafft-Ebing washed his hands of the whole affair and turned with relish to the frotteurs and fetishists of normal intelligence who tickled his fancy.
Sigmund Freud, whose major works followed Krafft-Ebing’s by twenty to forty years, was also struck dumb by the subject of rape. We can search his writings in vain for a quotable quote, an analysis, a perception. The father of psychoanalysis, who invented the concept of the primacy of the penis, was never motivated, as far as we know, to explore the real-life deployment of the penis as weapon. What the master ignored, the disciples tended to ignore as well. Alfred Adler does not mention rape, despite his full awareness of the historic power struggle between men and women. Jung refers to rape only in the most obscure manner, a glancing reference in some of his mythological interpretations. Helene Deutsch and Karen Horney, each from a differing perspective, grasped at the female fear of rape, and at the feminine fantasy, but as women who did not dare to presume, they turned a blind eye to the male and female reality.
And the great socialist theoreticians Marx and Engels and their many confreres and disciples who developed the theory of class oppression and put words like “exploitation” into the everyday vocabulary, they, too, were strangely silent about rape, unable to fit it into their economic constructs. Among them only August Bebel tried to grasp at its historic importance, its role in the very formulation of class, private property and the means of production. In Woman Under Socialism Bebel used his imagination to speculate briefly about the prehistoric tribal fights for land, cattle and labor power with an acceptable Marxist analysis: “There arose the need of labor power to cultivate the ground. The more numerous these powers, all the greater was the wealth in products and herds. These struggles led first to the rape of women, later to the enslaving of conquered men. The women became laborers and objects of pleasure for the conqueror; their males became slaves.” He didn’t get it quite right, making the rape of women secondary to man’s search for labor, but it was a flash of revelation and one that Engels did not achieve in his Origin of the Family. But Bebel was more at ease researching the wages and conditions of working-women in German factories, and that is where his energies went.
It was the half-crazed genius Wilhelm Reich, consumed with rage in equal parts toward Hitler, Marx and Freud, who briefly entertained the vision of a “masculine ideology of rape.” The phrase hangs there in the opening chapter of The Sexual Revolution, begging for further interpretation. But it was not forthcoming. The anguished mind was in too great a state of disarray. A political analysis of rape would have required more treachery toward his own immutable gender than even Wilhelm Reich could muster.
And so it remained for the latter-day feminists, free at last from the strictures that forbade us to look at male sexuality, to discover the truth and meaning in our own victimization. Critical to our study is the recognition that rape has a history, and that through the tools of historical analysis we may learn what we need to know about our current condition.”