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.

 

 

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)

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

 

 

 

 

 

Rape Is Not Really About Sex: The Rape Spectrum

I’d always heard that rape is not really about sex; it’s about power. But one thing I’ve learned from relentlessly studying my own experience being gang-raped last year, is that rape need not actually involve any physical violence, necessarily, nor even any sort of physical contact at all. If you’ve never actually been raped yourself, this is probably going to sound completely nuts indeed, but it’s actually possible to rape someone merely by looking at them.

If this sounds impossible to you I would guess that it’s because you are misinformed about rape in the same way that autism researchers used to be misinformed about autism, because they didn’t realize that autism is best conceptualized as a spectrum of disorders, with great variability being observed across the entire population of autistic people, and all of these blending more or less seamlessly into the general population.

I suspect rape is like that — best conceptualized as a spectrum, with some cases of rape being perhaps more obviously examples of rape than others, but all of them recognizable as rape nonetheless — most especially by the survivors.

 

 

 

A Disgusting, Horrifying Thought-Experiment for Ethics Students and Chainsaw Aficionados

Trigger Warning

The following is a disgusting, horrifying thought experiment with great potential value for the advancement of ethical philosophy, in my opinion (at least for now, and until I encounter the sort of evidence that could change my mind) that far outweighs the discomfort of the fear and nausea it may well induce. Be that as it may, read the following at your own risk.

Seriously, This Is About Gang-Rape.

Look, this is about gang-rape. The scary clown picture above and the reference in the title to chainsaw owners was merely meant to be suggestive. Still, gang-rape is nasty business. If you continue reading beyond this point, please don’t say I didn’t warn you. This will get gross.

Still with me? OK, here goes:

A Kinder, Gentler Gang-Rape

The basic idea here is that gang-rape needn’t be violent. It might indeed be gentle — very, very gentle. As a thought-experiment, suppose a high school football team ODs on testosterone, loses its collective mind, and decides to teach a little lesson in “manliness” to the only male cheerleader on the cheer leading squad. Suppose they get all chummy with him after Friday night’s game, invite him to join them for a just-the-guys party out by the lake, get him drunk till he passes out and then take turns raping him in the anus, one by one.

Only suppose they do it very, very gently and politely, so as not to cause any injury, or to give the guy any diseases, and of course because he’s a guy, pregnancy is impossible. Maybe they all wear sterile, heavily lubricated gloves — the non-latex kind in case the guy is allergic (hey, these rapists have manners) — and suppose they each use only a well-lubricated pinky finger, inserted ever so smoothly and gently into the guy’s anus, over and over, one after the other, till everybody’s had the opportunity to get his hands dirty (so to speak), all of them grinning and snickering the whole time because, well, boys will be boys and all that.

Also, suppose they make a video of the whole thing, and after they have carefully cleaned up the cheerleader, and he wakens, they show him the video so that he knows that he just got gang-raped by an entire football team, and then they delete the video, so that there is no publicly verifiable physical evidence that any of it happened.

Now, of course it goes without asking, but for the sake of completion I’m going to ask it any way: even though such a gang-rape is physically harmless, is there any doubt in your mind that it wasn’t really a gang-rape?

I’ll assume you are human and that you gave the correct answer, which is “no, I have no doubt whatsoever, gentle or not, such an event is every bit as much a gang-rape as it would be if they put him in the hospital, gave him HIV, and somehow managed to get him pregnant with baby ducks.”

Rape is Rape, Gentle or Not

The point I’m trying to establish here is that gang-rape is still gang-rape, even if it causes no physical injury, disease, or pregnancy. And of course, the same goes for any kind of rape. Rape is rape, gentle or not.

I Was Gang-Raped by MetLife Employees: Another Open Letter to the People of Earth

Dear Earthling,

I think you should know that I was gang-raped by roughly a dozen employees of the so-called Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, a.k.a. MetLife, my former employer.

I’m guessing you’ll find it super important that I’m using the term gang-rape here in a purely figurative sense. I too would have thought as much, back before I got gang-raped, and especially before I spent months obsessing about the ordeal and trying to figure out what to do about it. But I have recently reached the other side of all that insanity, and I’m happy to announce that when considered from this new perspective, the real differences between literal and figurative gang-rape are simply not such a big deal.

Please don’t misunderstand me here. Of course an old-school gang-rape in the literal sense could be and even most often is worse — even much, much worse. But I can easily imagine cases in which the rapists might take extreme precautions against physical injury, disease, and pregnancy (perhaps by using gloved and lubricated fingers to gently rape a man’s anus) , which would in no sense change the fundamental nature of the crime, nor mitigate the ensuing psychological consequences. To my view, such a physically gentle, injury- , disease- and pregnancy-free crime would be no less a gang-rape than, say, the infamous football-team-beneath-the-bleachers variety.

In my own case, the perpetrators indeed took extreme measures to prevent physical injury, disease, and pregnancy — but I really couldn’t care less about any of that. These individuals nevertheless gang-raped me, in my opinion (for now, at least, and until I encounter the sort of evidence that might change my mind). Much of what I have written in this blog documents my sincere and enthusiastic attempts to find some other way to describe the experience[1], but after months of trying, I have utterly failed to find any other way to put it that doesn’t cause a serious misunderstanding between me and anyone I might wish to tell: you, for example.

Please know that I am fully prepared to endure and respond effectively to any skepticism or objections you or anyone else may have with respect to what I’m claiming here. Especially if you are one of the perpetrators, or a MetLife employee or officer, or a member of the company’s governing board, or a stockholder, or really anybody at all with a stake big or small in denying what these MetLife employees did to me, I am ready for all of you. So please, don’t be shy about expressing yourself or sharing your thoughts and concerns with me.

Finally, as a rule, no matter who we are, no matter what problems we have or ordeals we endure, somewhere out there someone else has it worse — much worse. I am quite certain, for example, that you in particular, whoever you are, at some point in your life, were quite possibly really gang-raped in a way that by comparison makes my own ordeal look like a nice back massage.

If you are such a gang-rape survivor, or indeed anybody else who has had a rougher go of things than I have in Life, and this due to any reason at all; please know that any advantages afforded me by my obviously much lower martyr-status — for example, those resources (financial or otherwise) that I have come to control by virtue of the fact that I am a college-educated white man of middle-class upbringing living in a world that was mostly designed by and expressly built for guys like me (or at least, the ones who aren’t autistic) — I wish to assure you that I am wholeheartedly committed to applying those advantages to the task of making the world safer for you and for everyone that matters to you.

If you have any suggestions for how best to do that, I would love to know about them.

Thanks for reading this.

Sincerely,

The Walrus


[1] For an example of such an attempt and general overview of the events in question, see An Open Letter to A Certain EEOC Deputy District Director.