This comment was from Jen, on the post On Ownership, Sexual Violence, and Standard Operating Procedures
I’m sure you hear this a lot, but I think you’re very brave for putting yourself in the limelight and talking about your abuse. I am a female rape survivor. I know that the way it works for women, often, is that the people we know at the time do not support or believe us – however, the majority of society, at a remove, will acknowledge that raping women is bad and should be stopped. It’s a disgusting double standard that men are not yet given that same respect.
I feel like when a lot of pain is involved, it’s difficult not to lash out at a perceived aggressor. I think that you’re right that sometimes there need to be discussions that are only about abuse against one gender and that should sometimes only be conducted by that gender. I speak from my own experience here; sometimes, it’s very difficult for me to speak to men about this. In those times, when a man tries to contribute, my knee jerk reaction is to lash out, and that has no place in a healthy forum. Similarly, if I’m feeling in pain and like a victim, I believe it might be difficult to hear a man talk about women as aggresors – because when we talk about this, sometimes our voices and our pain is raw, and sometimes it’s hard not to feel defensive even though I am clearly not the woman who has abused the speaker. I’ve never acted on this defensiveness. We have all earned our pain. That needs to be respected.
But even in this blog, I see an “Us vs Them” mentality forming in the comments. “Seems that men can never have issues without women pulling them into the fold,” “It sickens me when…especially feminists,” Missed, I think, the point of women, or feminists, restricting the rape debate to men on women.” (Incidentally, I know a number of fantastic menfolk who identify as feminists or equal-rights activists. Maybe this wasn’t the intent of the commentors, but the implication of the comments seemed to be that feminist and woman are synonymous.) There’s an entire comment arc about how women don’t take male rape victims seriously, and that discussion certainly has its place – but in my experience, men don’t take male rape victims seriously either. This is a societal problem and I think that unless we – all of us, men and women – don’t stop playing into the competition of gender binary, it’s going to be a hard one to fix.
photo: mil8 / flickr