Towards A Survivor-Centric View of Rape: Part 3

For part 2, see Towards A Survivor-Centric View of Rape: Part 2

“I don’t know. Rape is complicated. There’s a lot of grey area. Maybe the woman was too provocative. Maybe the guy didn’t realize she didn’t want to have sex with him. Are we sure it wasn’t just bad sex? Bad sex isn’t rape.”

Those are all valid points, provided you’ve never actually been raped. Once you’ve been raped, all of that looks like some sort of trick or smoke screen designed by rapists and exploited to keep themselves from getting caught. It’s as if the rapists of the world all got together and said,

Hey, we got a great thing going on here, but our victims are starting to accumulate, and if they start becoming aware of each other and talking to each other, they might organize and prevent us from raping them. We need a way to keep them under control and contain them — to keep them from talking to each other and to isolate them from everybody who cares about them and who might help them. We need a good “divide and conquer” strategy.

Ok, how about this: We’ll float a rumor that rape is “complicated”, that there’s a lot of “grey area”, etc. We’ll point out that women can be provocative — no wait! — make that too provocative, yeah, that’s good. They’re so provocative those women. And we can also exploit the fact that women are afraid of us, and especially afraid of getting beat up for refusing sex, and therefore often exploit the tactic of pretending to enjoy it so that they don’t get beat up or worse. Oh, and we should play up the bad sex angle. Everybody knows most dudes are just terrible in the sack….

One tragic and widely underappreciated consequence of rape is that (remember we’re focusing on the survivor here) getting raped instantly splits the entire world — which is to say every man, woman, and child — into two camps: friends and enemies. And the test to distinguish between members of these two camps is simple: for the survivor, a friend is anybody who gives her or him the benefit of the doubt — who simply assumes the victim is being honest, or perhaps “takes it on faith”, about the fact of the rape as well as its traumatic nature.

And everybody who doesn’t do that is either a rapist, or an accomplice (unwitting or otherwise), and therefore an enemy.

“Oh, now that’s just ridiculous. Now you’re saying that I become an accomplice to rape whenever I show a little healthy skepticism?

When your skepticism can be exploited by a rapist to hide and remain free to rape again then it’s not “healthy” skepticism.

Listen, I realize that you don’t actually want to be such an accomplice. In fact, it’s precisely because I’m pretty sure that  you don’t want to be some rapist’s accomplice that I’m trying to explain all of this to you. But if you really, really don’t want to help rapists get away with their crimes, then you must be sure to give the benefit of the doubt to anyone claiming to have been raped.

Unless you’ve been raped yourself, and unfortunately even if you have been raped, you may believe quite strongly and yet erroneously in what we might call the Myth of the Middle Ground. The idea here is that somewhere between a rapist and his or her victim is assumed to exist a kind of “No Man’s Land” where everybody else can stand while they ponder the evidence and try to figure out what really happened.

But from the perspective of the one who got raped, this is pure bullshit. From her point of view, there is simply no way to deprive her of the benefit of the doubt without simultaneously handing it over to her rapist. As the rape survivor sees it, there is no middle ground. It’s as if by raping her, the rapist captured the whole middle ground for himself. He captured its downtown, it’s uptown, its parks, its museums, and its shopping malls. By default, this renders virtually indistinguishable from an actual accomplice anyone who seriously tries to hold some position on that non-existent “middle ground”.

 

Not To Steal, But To Help Make More Thunder: My Pledge To Every Rape Victim

Dear Rape Victim,

Although as a child I did endure my share of sexual abuse by adults — the worst of which was when I got my genitals groped by a grown man who had hired me to sweep the floors of his costume shop after school (I was maybe eleven or twelve when it happened) — the truth is that I’ve never actually been raped in the way that you have been.

Recently however I have been writing and talking a great deal about having been “gang raped” last year, always taking care to clarify that I am using this term only as a metaphor for what actually happened — in fact a lengthy series of events which may actually have begun as far back as August, 2016 and which may indeed still be occurring even today, although I have summarized what might be considered the most critical events in a nine part Open Letter to A Certain EEOC Deputy District Director. I invite you to read that post if you feel the inclination to do so.

But the gist of it all is that I believe that it can be proven to a jury that roughly a dozen employees of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (“MetLife”), along with a partner at the law firm Seyfarth Shaw, LLP, and at least 3 employees of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), violated at least one particular Federal Statute falling within the Investigative Jurisdiction of the FBI, thus abruptly transforming me into the victim of that violation.

Known as “Title 18 U.S. Code Section 241 — Conspiracy against rights“, this law empowers a sentencing authority to impose a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and/or a maximum fine of $10,000.00 in the event that any “two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same.”

Now, in my opinion, rape is a terrible metaphor in general, and really one should never, ever compare anything else to rape, unless that thing is actually an example of real rape. So, for example, I do think it’s entirely reasonable to view what that grown man did to my youthful private parts as a kind of rape — maybe “hand rape”; I think the phrase “rape of Nanjing” is reasonable, by virtue of the fact that so many women residents of the province got raped by invading Japanese soldiers; and I think the phrase “date rape” is reasonable, because, again, it is referring to a genuine rape.

But it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if you or anyone else were to object to my own recent decision to use gang rape as a metaphor for what I endured as a result of the aforementioned Conspiracy against rights violation. I would completely understand if you were to find the comparison far too weak to fall into the domain of any sort of reasonable use of rape as a point of comparison. If you were to think that I was “being ridiculous”, or “out of line”, or “over the top”, or “blowing things out of proportion”, or “being a drama queen”, or in any way exaggerating at all, I must admit that I couldn’t fault you for doing so.

Especially if you were to suspect me of trying to manipulate the sympathies of others, or of trying to “steal thunder”, so to speak, from the survivors of real rape; I could never blame you or anyone for thinking like that.

But as much as I could understand why you would feel pretty much the same skepticism toward this decision that I myself felt up until just recently, I wish nonetheless to beg your pardon while I try to explain here that I have managed to completely satisfy my own skepticism, at least, and in particular to reassure you that manipulating sympathy is absolutely not my intention.

To be clear: it is not sympathy that I am asking for here, but rather what I am offering to you. I’m not asking for your validation of my rape ordeal, but rather I am offering you my own validation of yours. I am truly sorry that it took getting raped (so to speak) myself to realize just how serious rape actually is — and also how awfully commonplace it is, and normal and casually disregarded by all of the people who have somehow never been raped themselves.

Basically, I wish to inform you that whether you want it or not, whether you need it or not, nevertheless I am here for you. I have your back. I’m on your team. I hereby pledge my allegiance to your safety and well-being, and to the safety and well-being of everyone you love. I see myself as your friend, your ally, and believe it or not even your student. I wish to learn from you, if I am able. And if you will allow me to do so, I wish to try and help you, however I can, and in any way you think you need.

If you don’t already, please know that you are not alone — nope, not if I can help it. Sister, brother, whoever you may be, I’m pretty sure I get it now. Sorry it took me so long, but here I am, better late than never, I hope.

I am utterly at your service.

Sincerely,

The Walrus

Towards A Survivor-Centric View of Rape: Part 2

For part 1, see Towards A Survivor-Centric View of Rape: Part 1

“But if women know they’ll be believed automatically, then all men will live in constant fear of being accused of rape, even if they didn’t actually rape anyone!”

Yup, that’s the idea. At the moment, it’s rape victims who live in fear of being accused of lying about being raped, which is much, much worse. So a truly survivor-centric view of rape — where all accusations of rape are assumed to be true by default — would shift the burden of fear off of the rape survivor, where it should never have been in the first place. If you’ve ever been raped, you know what I’m talking about. If you have never been raped, then maybe you should suspend judgment while you reconsider your position.

But really your concerns about false accusations of rape are both misplaced and grossly underestimated. Your concerns are misplaced because really they belong strictly to everyone who is not the actual rape survivor. The idea here is that this is a survivor-centric view of rape we are discussing, which means it’s the rape survivor that matters above everybody else, especially the folks who are afraid of being falsely accused. Yes, definitely, they surely matter, but that’s really a different subject altogether. What to do about that problem will have to be put off to the side while we figure out how best to help actual rape survivors.

And your concerns are also grossly underestimated, because it’s not just all men who will live in constant fear of being accused of rape. We will all have that problem — even the rape survivor herself. What’s more, parents will be especially afraid that their sons and daughters might one day be falsely accused of rape, and thus highly motivated to teach their children about the importance of respecting the rights of others. That won’t eliminate the risk entirely, of course, but as a general rule of thumb, the more respectful you are toward others, the less likely someone will accuse you of rape, falsely or otherwise.

The basic rule of a survivor-centric view of rape can be summarized, thus:

If anybody claims to have suffered a rape, then by default you should believe them — no matter what. It is much, much better to falsely accuse someone of rape, than it is to disbelieve a genuine rape survivor. The very last thing you should do is accidentally disbelieve someone who was actually raped. However bad it is for someone to be falsely accused of rape, it is much, much worse to get raped and then on top of that have to cope with people disbelieving you.

(Continue with Towards A Survivor-Centric View of Rape: Part 3)

 

 

Towards A Survivor-Centric View of Rape: Part 1

Suppose some woman walks up to you and says, “hi, I just got raped”. Should you believe her? What if she’s lying? What if she’s just trying to get back at some guy who treated her badly? Maybe he just cheated on her, so now she’s going around telling everybody that he raped her. Gosh! What should you do?

If these kinds of questions trouble you, then I have some great news for you, because the situation is really not that complicated. What you do is this: you believe her.

“But what about the guy! Doesn’t he have rights? What if she’s lying!”

Yeah, yeah, I get it. Believe me. I know what you mean. Maybe she is lying. Maybe the guy is a great and wonderful person who would never actually hurt a woman. Yes, these are all valid concerns.

These are valid concerns that you should totally ignore, so that they don’t interfere with your ability to believe that the woman got raped. When a woman tells you she got raped — actually, when anyone tells you they got raped, be they woman, man, child, whoever — it is absolutely imperative that you believe that he or she got raped, no matter what. 

“But what if she’s lying!”

Yeah, yeah, we just covered that. You’re right, she might be lying. But go ahead and believe her anyway.

“But what if she’s done this in the past and even confessed that she lied, and now here she goes again!”

Nope. That doesn’t change anything. You should still believe her.

“But I don’t understand! This makes no sense. This is just crazy!”

Right, it makes no sense, to you. Most likely because you’ve never been raped. Had you ever been raped, you would know that being disbelieved is so awful, that it’s just much, much better to make the mistake of believing a liar, than it is to make the mistake of disbelieving a true rape-survivor.

“But I would never make such a mistake. I can tell the difference between a liar and a true rape survivor with perfect accuracy.”

Go back and say that out loud.

(Continue with Towards A Survivor-Centric View of Rape: Part 2)

A Privileged White Man’s Solution to Privilege Guilt — You’re Welcome!

“My Life Sucks, But I Still Feel Guilty!”

exhasperated_business_man_299x200Let me guess. Life has dealt you shit cards, but you actually feel guilty because you know so many others have it worse than you.

Tell me about it. If you think you’ve got privilege guilt, check out my sob story:

To begin with, I’m autistic, which, frankly, is basically the world’s greatest excuse for pretty much any situation in which one might need a great excuse, and let me say that I can hardly get through a week without needing at least one of those (“bro, I’m sorry I knocked up your girlfriend, but after all I am autistic”).

But even though my life has always been something of a train wreck because of autism, I nevertheless still feel guilty because I also happen to be a white, college-educated, fairly handsome man (or so thinks my best bro’s girlfriend, heh, heh); and not, for example, a black, dangerously underweight, crack-addicted, HIV-infected baby girl born 16-weeks prematurely to a teenage sex-slave and tossed into a dumpster by her mother’s pimp to starve, freeze, or be smothered to death by all the trash that will soon accumulate on top of her.

I know, I know — it’s like these days everybody’s a victim!

Well, if you find this situation to be as frustrating as I do, today is your lucky day! Because after pondering this problem far more than I ever really wanted to, I have finally figured out what to do with all of my frustrating privilege guilt!

And for the low, low price of just $2,000.00 US Dollars, I will share with you my amazing solution for the problem of privilege guilt!

Har har, just kidding.

No, seriously, I’m going to just give you this sweet little fix for free as a public service because, honestly, I suspect that this whole privilege-guilt situation is actually accomplishing the exact opposite of what it’s supposed to accomplish, which is to help us all be kinder and more caring human beings. To be clear:

I’m pretty sure that privilege guilt is a force for evil in this world, for the most part, and that whatever good it may appear to do in some situations, in the end it actually tends to make its practitioners more selfish and cruel.

I especially think it likely that the sooner we all abandon privilege guilt — yup, toss all of it straight into the aforementioned dumpster instead of that black, dangerously underweight, crack-addicted, HIV-infected baby girl born 16-weeks prematurely to a teenage sex-slave — really the sooner we can all fulfill our true potential as kind and caring human beings. The core epiphany here is that privilege guilt may actually be a trick we play on ourselves so that we can hoard privilege (surprise, surprise)!

Let me say it again:

Privilege guilt is a trick we play on ourselves so that we can continue to hoard privilege!

I know, crazy, right? — paradoxical, even. But I really think it’s true.[1]

It seems to work like this: because I have all these great privileges following from the fact that I am a college-educated, fairly handsome white man (more handsome than my best bro, apparently), I know people are going to think I’m a selfish bastard if I just hoard this bounty for myself. Ah! But if I torture myself enough with privilege guilt — maybe even throw a few bucks at some charity — they’ll think, “well, at least he feels bad”, and then leave me alone to enjoy my white-man privileges. And because these privileges are truly wonderful and do indeed make my life quite the vacation resort — that is, with respect to the vast majority of human beings on Earth, and this despite my autistic neurology — oh, heck, a bit of privilege guilt is really a small price to pay in comparison with all to be gained by privilege-hoarding.

Doesn’t that strike you as wicked? Honestly, when I look at it like that, I suddenly I feel quite gross and have a really hard time feeling guilty for hoarding all of my white-man privileges, which — and here’s the kicker — actually makes me want to share those privileges with others!

Isn’t that weird? It seems paradoxical, and please don’t ask me to explain it, but somehow it’s only when I stop feeling guilty that I actually feel motivated to help those in need. It’s almost as if my privilege guilt is gobbling up the very motivation I need to actually do something to help others, with the highly suspicious end result being that I get to keep all my white-man privileges to myself.

“But What If I’m Not A Privileged White Man?”

smiling_woman_300x200What’s great about this solution to privilege guilt is that it will work for pretty much anybody. Of course, privileged white men like myself are the ones who tend to suffer most from privilege guilt, and really if this solution can work for us, believe me, it can work for you or anybody else who happens to have less cause to feel privilege guilt. Really, the only possible exceptions that I can think of all involve babies who are simply too young to feel guilty about anything. For example, I find it quite impossible to imagine that, say, some dangerously underweight, crack-addicted, HIV-infected baby born 16-weeks prematurely to a teenage sex-slave and tossed into a dumpster by its mother’s pimp to starve, freeze, or be smothered to death by all the trash that will soon accumulate on top of it might ever suffer from privilege guilt, even if the baby does happen to be a privileged white boy!

So there it is! Now, please stop wasting your time and energy on useless privilege guilt, and instead, get out there and actually share whatever privileges you may have with some poor abandoned dumpster baby — beginning with all of the baby black girls, of course!


[1]In my opinion, for now, of course, and until I encounter the sort of evidence that could change my mind. Note: if you think you may have such evidence, please share it with me in a comment, below — thanks in advance!

 

An Open Letter to a Man Who Raped Me: Frederick “Fritz” T. Smith of Seyfarth Shaw, LLP, a.k.a. ‘Batman’

Hi Fritz (a.k.a “Batman“),

Yup, it’s come to this. I am now publicly accusing you of organizing and participating in the gang-rape I endured last year at the hands of you and your foolish little posse of grown-up “cool kids”, whom I have referred to variously on this blog as the “Inappropriate Behavior Police” or the “Justice League Gang“. You (all) have taken some pains to hide your identities from me, but I’m pretty sure we’re talking about folks with first names like Marty, Geoff, Bob, Cliff, and so forth, and a few women as well.

You know who they are, I’m sure; and I know you all raped me.

Yeah, yeah “figuratively speaking”, but I really don’t give a fuck if every human being on your planet thinks that that is a distinction that actually matters here. The distinction doesn’t matter to me. It doesn’t matter to me at all that you guys raped me “so to speak”, or that you all behaved as perfect ladies and gentlemen as you raped me, so as not to cause any detectable physical injury. I really don’t care about that. Nor do I even care that I may be suffering from some sort of a “rape delusion” — where in “reality” you guys did absolutely nothing wrong whatsoever, and I just completely imagined the whole thing.

I don’t give a flying fuck about any of that.

I’m autistic, dipshit, and if I’ve helped you all learn anything useful about autism, you’ve learned that I’m not actually living on your planet. No. I live on mine — my own little world, see. And on my planet, really the most important opinion on that planet, is just my own.

Now, I’m not suggesting that nobody else’s opinions ever matter to me — of course they do. I’m not totally disconnected from your world. I’m aware of it. I believe it to be real. I know it has a tremendous influence on me. I’m also quite confused about how it works and especially why it doesn’t just completely collapse in on itself; but when push comes to shove as it has clearly done so here, in my world the final arbiter of all disputes is just me. In my world, I am judge, jury, and executioner.

Now, if you just shit yourself a little bit there, I sincerely apologize. Please know that you and the others are absolutely not in any kind of physical danger from me, whatsoever. I can assure you that whatever my resemblances to Adam Lanza may be as an autistic person, I am absolutely nothing like that monster. I abhor violence, guns, really all of that insanity. I don’t even play violent video games. On my planet, there is no death-penalty, not even for a monster like Lanza. And that does not lessen his status as a monster, in my view. Although I do have deep sympathy for the Adam he was before he became a monstrosity — for the child he was, the boy he was, the teenager he was, and even the very, very troubled young man he was, right up until he killed his first victim; but once he did that, he was lost to all of us. At that moment poor, deeply troubled Adam mutated into Adam the monster, and any sympathy resources offered to such a monster would have to be stolen from its victims, which makes no sense whatsoever, as I see it (for now, and until I encounter the sort of evidence that could change my mind).

But you are not even a monster, are you? None of you are, of course. You committed a crime, yes (in my opinion), but let’s face it, it was almost certainly a kind of accident, am I right? See, I get it, really I do. You are all good people. You thought you were acting in the best interests of the company and the safety of most of its employees. Not my safety, clearly. Fuck, you gang-raped me (and because of their dependence on me, you indirectly gang-raped my family — my kids!). But yes, everybody else was somehow worth protecting, and you erroneously believed that I was somehow a danger to them, just as you erroneously believed that firing me would somehow protect them. Believe me, Fritz, had I actually been an Adam Lanza sort of safety hazard, a lot of folks would be dead, and the survivors would be suffering from broken hearts and PTSD now. It is shamefully easy to buy a gun, and the security at MetLife sucks for that sort of thing, although I hear it’s great at receiving lunch deliveries.

Because you aren’t really monsters, I’m guessing you’d like to know how to make things right between us. If that is really what you are thinking, then congratulations, because you are definitely thinking in the right direction. If you are not yet thinking about how to make things right between us, then I strongly encourage you to do so, because I’m fucking relentless, Fritz, and I’m just getting warmed up here. Understand this, asshole: I will not stop until we have made our peace with each other.

And here’s how to do it: It’s pretty simple, really. I need to know that you folks understand that raping me was a huge, fucking mistake. I need to know beyond a reasonable doubt that you understand what you did to me, and that you are so sorry about having done so, that you will never, ever even think of doing anything like that again — not to me, of course, but more importantly, not to anybody else, ever.

I need to know this deep in my bones, Fritz. You (all) must be willing to go to any lengths to convince me. You must be willing to shut down the whole fucking company, if you have to, if that’s what it takes to satisfy my need to know that you will never, ever rape another human being — not figuratively, not literally, not in any sense.

Best of luck to all of you!

Sincerely,

The Walrus

 

 

 

 

 

That Time I Felt Guilty For Stealing My Own Car: The (Sometimes) Failure of Guilt (and its Absence)

I’m not sure how exactly, but the other day I had been sitting in the driver’s seat of my car, having just parked it and checked my phone for text messages, when somehow I set off the car alarm. Much more bizarre, however, was that I instantly felt guilty for stealing the car itself. Let me repeat that:

I felt guilty for stealing my own car!

The same thing happens whenever I’m exiting, say, a bookstore with a book I just purchased, and somehow the store’s anti-theft alarm chimes loudly.

Apparently juries aren’t the only ones capable of making mistakes in determining whether someone is a thief.

The history of Civilization is a junkyard cluttered with all manner of obsolete fake crimes for which human beings have both felt genuine guilt and for which they’ve been punished in every conceivable manner, from the public and humiliating scolding of an employee to being burned alive at the stake for witchcraft.

On the other hand, an absence of guilty feelings has its own problems as well. The following chilling words, spoken by serial-killer Ted Bundy, should be studied by anyone aspiring to lead a totally guilt-free life:

“Guilt? It’s this mechanism we use to control people. It’s an illusion. It’s a kind of social control mechanism — and it’s very unhealthy. It does terrible things to our bodies. And there are much better ways to control our behavior than…guilt.”

— Serial Killer Ted Bundy[1]

In consideration of the above, I’m inclined to conclude that contrary to Bundy’s own maleficent advice, at least some guilt is healthy and should be acknowledged and valued, if for no other reason than as a sort of safety check on one’s behavior — a spontaneous alert from the more primitive centers of the brain to tread carefully to ensure the safety of others. I’m thinking that guilt should be viewed as a valued source of information regarding the moral status of our own actions, but it should rarely be treated like an infallible source of such information. However guilty I felt for doing so, in no sense whatsoever did I try to steal my own car!

As I see it (for now, and until I encounter the sort of evidence that could change my mind) Guilt should be viewed as an input to careful, conscientious thinking, not an output of it (which would have to be some sort of action, I believe, not merely a feeling or emotion), and guilt should surely not be used as a substitute for one’s real Conscience, which I believe is surely something else entirely.

What do you think?


[1]Cited in Baumeister’s Evil: Inside Human Violence and Cruelty, pg. 305

Image Credit: iStock