I'm going to be a little bit harsh here and possibly incomprehensible in this next sentence, but I can't think of better wording. I would like every person who has talked about the Werribee boys, who recorded their sexual assault of girl, and has used terms like 'harmless', 'stupid', 'silly', etc, when describing it, to undergo the same treatment themselves and see if they still feel so mildly disposed to the crime.
In 100 Days I try to avoid using recent cases to talk about stuff, because they aren't all that relevant to whether I love or hate something, and I don't like to be seen to be jumping on the bandwagon. So here is my favourite example of how ineffectually rape is thought of and dealt with.
Some years back, a prostitute was raped. When the judge came to sentence the offender, he gave him a more lenient sentence because the women was a prostitute. Being a sex worker, reasoned the judge, she was less likely to be traumatised than an 'ordinary' woman. Do you see the problem here?
Another example. Woman on a cruise ship, slipped a date-rape drug by a group of guys, dies from an overdose of it. The case is still pending, but the total disregard these guys had for what they had done was nothing less than sickening. But what is worse is that the cruise ship company were at best negligent in their handling of the case, at worst helped to cover it up. Given the reports by a whistle-blower from the company, if the woman hadn't died, the guys may well have gotten away with it.
Something that I accept as a reflection of the period in which they were made, but still have trouble dealing with, is all the 'happy' rapes in older Hollywood movies. Female lead doesn't wish to sleep with new husband that she's been forced/had to marry. Eventually things come to a head, the husband picks her up, carries her off, struggling and screaming as the picture fades to black. Fade in on next morning, she's laying in bed, shot in soft focus, smiling, happy and, for a while at least, is now the dutiful, loving wife.
There's no doubt she has been forced. The woman taken upstairs before the fade-out would not have willingly submitted to sex with this man that she hates. But all she needed was to be raped by her husband to put her in her place. The clear message being all a woman needs is a good fuck! I've seen it dozens of times and can name two without trying, Gone With the Wind and The Quiet Man.
There is a mild attitude of acceptance running through society for the crime, like it's ok sometimes. Shrugged shoulders 'it happens', or one of the most vile attitudes around, 'she was asking for it.' Like walking through a lonely place is an invitation to be raped. Like wearing clothes that make you feel attractive or sexy means that a woman deserves to be attacked.
Sexual assault comes in many forms. There's coercion, threats, actual violence, getting someone drunk or high so that they either aren't able to make an informed decision or are unconscious, or beating them and taking them. But most actual rape is a violent and angry act. This also fits in with my Losing Control post from yesterday. There are so many men that use that as their excuse, 'I got carried away, I just lost control.'
Bullshit. As I have mentioned in other posts, I have a foul temper, I get unbelievably angry and do actually enjoy beating the snot out of people. I also have a high sex drive. I have never forced a women to have sex. I haven't tricked or doped up a woman to get my way. I have shared a bed with a number of my female friends in various states of undress, and not copped a sneaky feel during the night, tried to force myself upon them or done anything of the type. I have massaged and showered naked with them and not tried to push it into sex.
Now that doesn't mean I haven't wanted to. It doesn't mean I wasn't capable. People try to look for reasons why men rape. The men who rape do it because they can, because they want to. You can try to blame television or pornography for objectionalising and depersonalising women, but the truth is these men would still rape if all women wore burkas. It's not about what they wear, though that may help the choice, it's about fucking losers who need to hurt and terrorise a woman to feel like a man.
If it were down to porn, sex-drive, and anger, I would have been raping women at 16.
There is an attitude that compliments the mild acceptance of the crime, and it's that women secretly want it. "A virgin in the parlor, a whore in the bedroom" goes the old quote, but it doesn't just suggest a way for a woman to act at home, it suggests a style of behaviour on the part of women, that no matter how uptight and prim and proper they may appear, they are all secretly desperate for sex. That's been combined with the concept of women's rape fantasies, to build the idea that all women 'want it', that 'no' doesn't necessarily mean 'no'.
The subject of rape fantasies is an interesting and problematic one in this context because many men are just too damned naive or stupid to understand the concept in anything other than its most basic form - a women wanting to be forced to have sex. What they miss is that what most women's rape fantasies consist of is either someone trusted that they know (or someone safely anonymous) taking control of the situation. They can indulge in any sexual act they wish in the fantasy, because they are being made to, they have no choice. With most women it's also rarely a violent fantasy.
And just because some have the dream, doesn't mean they want the reality.
Men have rape fantasies, too. It's not terrible or negative, just as the better publicised and more socially acceptable female equivalent is not a bad thing. In most cultures boys are brought up to be strong, unstoppable, able to achieve whatever they wish. The reality is, many men are confused and daunted by women, by the idea of dealing with feelings. Most male rape fantasies consist of the woman unable to resist them, not because they are brutal, but because they are able to simply take what they want. No messy feelings or confusion or worries about rejection, no worries about foreplay, they want sex with a woman, they just grab her and take it. In most of the healthy forms it actually compliments the female rape fantasy in that it works not on beating or terrorising a woman, but on taking control.
Again, it's fantasy. It doesn't mean you're likely to go out and rape women any more than daydreaming about killing someone you hate means that you're a potential murderer.
I grew up around women, heard their horror stories of bad boyfriends and terrible first times. Doesn't make me any less lascivious towards them than the average man. Doesn't mean I don't want to go out and screw hundreds if not thousands of willing, wanton women.
Doesn't mean I want or need to force them either.
I used to be in favour of castration for any proven act of rape. Note I said proven as opposed to convicted, there is a very important distinction there. But as I was saying castrating rapists, to me, seemed like a suitable punishment for a vile crime. Then I read Mindhunter by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker. John Douglas helped set up the FBI profiling unit and I can highly recommend the book. One of the comments he makes, and I'm paraphrasing broadly here, is that rape isn't about sex, it's an angry act. You cut a guy's balls off and you have a very angry man.
And he's right. There's been plenty of sexual assaults using foreign objects that have been just as brutal as any traditional rape. Be it an 'anger excitation rapist' or a 'power reassurance rapist', it still comes down to someone who is angry at and/or wants power. How else do you explain the men that deliberately target women who attend the Reclaim the Night rallies? That's not about sex, that's about trying to instill fear into those that want to empower themselves, about 'keeping them in their places.'
The sex in rape is just the most brutally violating way to achieve that. In the vast majority of cases of men being sexually assaulted by other men, the attacker identifies as solidly heterosexual.
And then there's rape of men by women - All males are seen as the aggressor, so it's often considered laughable that a male could be the victim. People laugh and joke about it, saying that he must have enjoyed it, that he couldn't have had an erection otherwise, etc. It all fits the same stereotypes regarding victims as I have already mentioned. The idea that maybe they wanted it, enjoyed it.
In a online discussion where hazing was talked about in US college fraternities, people told tales of being sodomised, forced to indulge in group sex, and what happened? They were attacked by members of other fraternities for giving up initiation secrets. No thought from their attackers that that maybe the victims had suffered. No thought that the violation of these people was more important than fucking initiation secrets.
Male rape is significantly less reported than female rape. Partially because of reactions like this, partially because the guys don't know how to react. Guys aren't generally brought up with the possibility of it happening, so when it does, it's even more confusing. Incidents of men committing suicide after being raped are substantially greater than women.
Naturally it's not a competition, and any assault, sexual or otherwise against either gender, is not tolerable. But men aren't good at supporting other men. Many guys aren't good at empathising with other peoples feelings, full-stop. Now I'll make a point here - not being able to empathise is different from joking about something, though the two are often, not always, related. Many people joke about terrible, taboo things because it helps them face with it in some way. Many men will joke with someone about something awful because they have trouble dealing with the reality of how it makes them feel - a joke, no matter how poor the taste, helps them cope.
Of course, this doesn't excuse the actions of police some years back when a man staggered into a Queensland police station, still traumatised, and told them how he was raped by two women at knife point. The police joked with him about it. 'Why did you come in here to brag? Go down the pub!' 'What, do you want a medal?'
The US media talked about a case in which an Iraqi prisoner was held down by two male American soldiers while a female soldier forced him to have sex. In amongst the damnation there were jokes aplenty scattered about. Oh how they laughed and joked! 'Physically impossible' some papers proclaimed. And all over the US, men who had been raped by women pulled a little further back into their shells, sure that no-one would believe them.
More recently, three women took turns raping a man at gunpoint in Johannesburg.
The most current Australian stats I have found suggest the 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 10 men, will be raped. That seems a little high to me, but then again, most rape goes unreported, so maybe it is a frighteningly accurate number. And of course, rape between lesbians, and homosexual men gets similarly hushed up.
What I don't understand through all this is the disparity of treatment between rapists and paedophiles. Okay, yes, paedophiles deal with children but, to make a subtle distinction, most paedophiles are abusers, not rapists. They may manipulate, coerce, play on trust and secrecy, but direct threats and violence are not used as frequently when compared to rape.
Why aren't rapists required to knock on the doors of their new neighbourhood, telling every household what they did? Why aren't their names printed in the local newspaper, reported by local media? Age of a victim shouldn't matter. If it's deemed so important that people know that a convicted child molester is in the neighbourhood, then it should be just as important that a convicted rapist has moved in.
It's another example of how rape is given a lesser distinction, as if touching kids is wrong, but raping an adult is somehow less wrong.
It's not the rapist I hate, I hate the act, the violation, what it does to the victims, and the attitude that surrounds that whole thing - that the victim is the guilty one.
It's the society in which rape exists that I hate.
It occurs to me that I've yet to write about music, which is something I love. The problem is twofold to writing about it. My tastes aren't terribly particular, and I don't listen to it anywhere near as often as I once did.
I got out of the habit when we had a housemate living with us. Music and candles, two things that were a constant in my life, dropped away when Greg lived with us. He didn't stop me, but I didn't have the urge to sit around by candlelight, or to listen to music, while he was around. Prior to that I used to fill my days end-to-end with music, was rare that I didn't have something playing in the background, now I seldom think to put any on.
As to my tastes, they're pretty broad. I love chunks of most forms of music, classical, pop, thrash metal, soundtracks, alternative, rock & roll, non-english stuff... I have a strong dislike for 99% of rap, a lot of the gangsta rappers shit me to tears, most of their music being a cynical attempt to hook into wannabe tough guys. And a lot of country and western I'm kind of over thanks to my droving days, though my dislike for it isn't as extreme as rap.
Most recently, when I've thought to, I've been catching up on stuff I always meant to hear more of. The Beatles was the first, with Devo and David Bowie running along behind. Then there's the stuff I'm discovering - I'm generally starting to look around at the Europop scene, and I've fallen in love with Ruslana's music, which uses a mixture of pop and traditional elements.
While in the Bourke St. Mall, there was a guy playing Trance Didgeridoo, and I picked up his CD, which was disappointing. He'd made the didge out of three sections of poly-tubing, and it was adjustable! He didn't overdo the shifts, and the few occasions where he shifted the length of the didgeridoo for a particular musical effect were really interesting. But the CD had none of the energy and feel of the stuff he'd been playing live. It wasn't just down to it being a recording, the music he'd played live was different enough to what was on the CD for the recorded stuff to be... well... boring and samey.
Talking instruments, well I don't know much about them. The three I can identify are my favourites, and if someone ever does an album that combines all three, I'll be there, first in line with my money out - harmonica, didgeridoo, and banjo. Each has an individual and very evocative feel for me. I made a start on learning the didgeridoo while I was droving, but never kept up with it. Always think I'll try again one day.
Also have a great love of musicals as a genre. Then there's things like the Residents epic tone-poem, God in Three Persons, which I adore.
At the end of the day, I love most music.
Hmmm... Something I used to get my friends to do which I haven't done in years was to get them to do me a mixed tape of some of their favourite pieces of music. It was a good way to find new artists and styles. Might be time to do that again.