By Avi Sato
Content warning: discussions/descriptions of rape
Let’s get this straight – the time has come for us to stop thinking of rape as a serious crime against women, even a violent one.
“Did this pearl of wisdom come to us from yet another Republican in the Trump administration?” you ask. No, indeed, it’s the latest in feminist thought.
In fact, it came from a lady that’s been hugely influential in the Second-Wave Feminist Movement for longer than I’ve been alive, a woman that I’ve pretty much always looked up to as a role model for equality.
I know she’s made some rather curious statements about rape before but I really just chalked them up to theoretical exercises meant to help women to heal.
“She may be outraged and humiliated, but she cannot be damaged in any essential way by the simple fact of the presence of an unwelcome penis in her vagina” (1995).
Sorry, Germaine, she can – and at least one of us is very likely being essentially damaged right the fuck now. Like, this very moment. See, they don’t call this a rape culture because rape is ignored – it’s because its constant. I’ll say it again a little louder for the cheap seats in the back. There is not a moment that goes by when a woman is not being raped somewhere.
What’s worse, there’s not a single moment in the past fifty years when at least one man wasn’t forcing himself on a woman. Of course women aren’t helpless, defenseless creatures, analogues of infants. We’re not born and raised to become victims and lose everything we’ve spent our lives searching, striving for, and achieving. But if I go to a pub and order a drink and some dude comes up to me and shoots me in the head, I can safely assume that everyone (regardless of gender) would accept that the dude with the gun was the person at fault.
It wasn’t how I was dressed or how much I had drunk or if I turned him down for his “I know you’re a lesbian but just give me an hour, baby, and I’ll fuck you straight!” routine that I hear all too often. It was him.
But if he hadn’t pulled the trigger, but instead pulled down my underwear in some forgotten corner of that bar’s back staircase, held my hands above my head, and shoved said penis into unwelcome places, there would be a frenzied argument about whether I was telling the truth. About what I could possibly have done to make him want to do this, what signals I sent out, if I’d actually said no loudly enough, at all, enough times, in a way that wasn’t suggestive, seductive, duplicative, timid.
Was my skirt too short or my drinking too hardcore, my morals questionable or my decision retroactive? As if these things are relevant to this brutal crime of dominance and hatred because he couldn’t keep it in his pants and I was a convenient dumping ground for his spunk.
Wait, though. We have a new framework for looking at rape through the eyes of my once-revered champion of the soft-approach feminist agenda – Germaine Greer.
In her words at the recent Hay Festival, “most rape is just lazy, careless and insensitive”. Lazy, careless, insensitive, sure I can get behind those descriptions of rape but is that really all it is? Brutal, violent, controlling, demeaning, destructive, traumatic, devaluing, debasing, an expression of everything that a man can possibly hate about a woman.
Not that all men hate all women or that all men even hate some women but, you’ve got to admit that if at least a lot of men didn’t hate a lot of women, they wouldn’t commit violent crimes against them that are systematically designed to destroy them from within (not just within our vaginas, either).
Greer believes that rape is not the “spectacularly violent crime” that we rape victim advocates and feminists say it is but is instead just bad sex. I don’t know what kind of sex she’s been having that this has become her definition of it being bad, but I’ve got news for her. I think most women would classify bad sex as when their partner is boring and they don’t orgasm. Not when they end up having non-sex with some dominating cock (whether I’m speaking of the phallus or its owner I am still unsure in this case).
“You might want to believe that the penis is a lethal weapon and that all women live in fear of that lethal weapon, well that’s bullshit. It’s not true. We don’t live in terror of the penis. A man can’t kill you with his penis.”
No, G, he can’t. You’re right. Given the amount of rape-murders, a number consistently on the rise, he doesn’t need to let his penis do the cleanup after the deed is done. After stabbing you repeatedly with his body, he can go on to use a knife or some other less offensive object that doesn’t actually come pre-loaded with bodily fluids to be inserted into you.
Sadly, we do live in terror of the penis because we know that there are things worse than death. Don’t believe me? Got children? If one of them was seriously hurt, would you give your life to save them? You bet your ass you would.
What makes death the standard for the extreme of suffering? Ask anyone who’s been through torture, who’s been beaten, who’s been continually abused, or molested as a child if death would have been better and I can predict with a fairly high degree of certainty what the answer would be.
Rape doesn’t always destroy the victim. Many women “bounce back” and live lives in society and are able to move forward. Many others simply shut down, sometimes for a while, sometimes forever. Promising careers are destroyed, minds are locked in a spiral of PTSD and phobias too numerous to name. What was once a unique and self-directed human being may now be facing a lifetime of torture – from herself, reliving the attack on herself.
I have spoken, as part of my job and simply as part of society, with many women who have been sexually assaulted in various forms, often including rape. Some of these women are able to put that in the past but they will never forget and even for them it changes how they behave, adds a level of caution that truly should never have to be there, watching over their shoulders walking down well-lit streets. And those are the ones we think of as success stories.
For some of the others, I have seen degrees left unfinished because the campus is simply a place where brutal violence happens and they can’t go back. I’ve seen promising careers destroyed because the attacker was a coworker and the job is simply not worth having to face them every single day, often someone with real financial and career power over them. And I’ve seen, with staggering regularity, women who stay at home because it’s safer alone with the door double-locked and the deadbolts engaged.
I see lives unlived, potential unrealised, and torture left in the air while the criminals move on to live their lives unchecked, likely to rape again. “Women love men more than they love women”, she said. Yes, that’s probably true in most social dynamics. But women don’t tend to feel an overwhelming rush of love toward someone who’s forcing a penis into them.
Just a thought, Miss Greer, but that simply ain’t love. You say we’re annoyed and we fucking well are. But we’re not just annoyed by the fact that we are being targeted for crimes that society generally thinks are pretty much OK. We’re furious that these animals are not being prosecuted.
What’s the optimal punishment for a rapist? She proposed some community service. Like the kind of thing you’d get for spray painting a railway siding or drunkenly taking a swing at someone in a bar.
I have an alternative. Rape is a violent crime, a hate crime, and its power is immensely destructive in a way that murder rarely is. So let’s treat it that way. Hard to convict? Sure, because we don’t believe the witnesses to the crime and often don’t even believe the physical evidence. It’s only hard because we’ve made it hard.
Rape is first-degree murder where the victim has to walk around for the rest of her life inside the corpse of her former self, no matter how much she manages to construct a new life around that. It will never recover, a scar forever, possibly secret and unseen, but always there. She’s not destroyed. But her life often is.
I’ve always thought the most fitting punishment for rape would be a firing squad at dusk. As the darkness of night approaches, the criminal would be repeatedly penetrated by objects he doesn’t want inserted into his body – but at least they don’t have anyone else’s sexual fluids in them. He should be thankful for small mercies and a quick death.
Dear Miss Greer, you’ve done vast good for feminism (except for the transphobia, but that’s another issue). Truly, we who follow you are indebted to you as it would be impossible for our far more radical and militant cause to exist without much of your work. You have long inspired me and my friends and fellow believers, even if your beliefs stopped at the water’s edge and ours plunged into the depths of the ocean of fighting for a true equality regardless of what stands in the way, be it religion or government, society or law.
But you’ve fucked it up. Please, in the name of all that is good, we can beg you to stop before this becomes even more justification for men to tell us that rape is a minor social deviancy and not the violent hate crime that it is. Thanks.