Sorry to Let You Know, But…

I was raped.

abyss2hope had a series of posts a couple of weeks ago detailing the problems with the criticism people raised against some t-shirts that say “I was raped”. This one is takes apart a particularly egregious comment, the salient point of which is: “Be rational, silly women. This is only going to turn people against you because you’re making them uncomfortable by letting them know you were raped”.

Marcella focuses on the hubris inherent in the assumption that he’s in a neutral position here (I’ve discussed before why this is bullshit, and of course it’s also classic male privilege to come in to a topic to which others have devoted years of their lives in studying and considering, both from a societal and personal perspective, and assume that they’ve all just been waiting around for him, the voice of truth, which they could not possibly have seen without him. Sorry…end rant). But the comment gets at something I’ve been thinking about with respect to privilege – our friend James here seriously thinks that when we’re talking about rape, those of us who’ve experienced it should make sure we’re polite about sharing it, because it’s unseemly and makes people uncomfortable. What he’s missing, of course, is that the reason the shirt is revolutionary and can be seen to challenge things is because of exactly that mentality, not to mention that none of us ever got to decide that we weren’t going to think about it. Didn’t exactly come up politely, you know?

Now, I’m not confident as to the purpose of these t-shirts, myself, for one thing because I’m very, very wary of trigger issues, and I know I wouldn’t wear one myself. The point is, it is insanely self-centered and myopic for someone who has never been raped, never really dealt with the fear of being raped, and never even had a friend disclose rape to him (and honestly, I’m immediately apprehensive of most people who say this, with few exceptions) to turn the focus back around to how thinking about rape makes him feel icky, so he’d kinda just rather not.

I was going to try to draw a whole bunch of connections to recent events, and to other thoughts and other kinds of privilege, but I’m just too tired. I do like that I came up with a pithy new category, though. Pithy categorization makes my day.


2 thoughts on “Sorry to Let You Know, But…

  1. BetaCandy says:

    While I have never been raped, I get the “hush, you’re making people uncomfortable” every time their personal nosey questions require me to either lie, tell them to mind their own business, or disclose that my father was abusive. My revelation of the truth in response to their questions is treated as an act of aggression. It’s mind-boggling.

    And you know what? Commenting here after commenting on your post about being an ally made the following thought congeal: I too feel icky when someone tells me they were abused as a child or raped, etc. Not so much because my stomach can’t handle it as my own apprehension at saying the wrong thing or compounding their trauma. Again, it’s a lot of work to remind yourself that it’s not about you, and the worst thing you can do is worry about your own reaction instead of just listening. The person may not even want a reaction – they may just want you to know.

    I don’t understand not even trying to overcome that, though.

  2. purtek says:

    Yeah, I get that a lot, too, when I talk about this and other stuff. You’re breaking their comfortable assumptions (I just finally read a bunch of stuff on Blind Privilege, and you had a great post over there saying something similar about the ability of those with mainstream opinions to assume everyone thinks like they do…it relates).

    I was halfway through writing my “ally” post when I wrote this, and the thoughts were congealing for me, too. The constant accusations that it’s those who are trying to point out wrongs that are, essentially, not following the rules. Breaking the comfortable mold of the privileged.


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