feminist myths and
is an author and controversial 'anti-feminist' blogger. She
writes on issues of sex, sexuality and gender. Influenced by
the work of Mark Simpson,
she is developing his theories of masculinity and metrosexuality
for a forthcoming book.
enjoy being stalked by my ex-boyfriend, and then having him
break into my house, threaten to kill me and then assault me.
I didn’t enjoy it at all. Sometimes I call that night,
over ten years ago now, as ‘the day I became a feminist.’
already a feminist. My Mum and her Mum were feminists. I was
born into it. So I never really had to think too much until
he stood over me, his hands round my neck, squeezing, telling
me what a bitch I was. I never had to think what ‘being
a woman’ or ‘being a feminist’ means. I will
give him that. He and his violence really got me thinking.
my assault, and my lonely journey through the legal procedure
that followed, I naively thought I might be able to share some
sisterhood and solidarity with other women who’d suffered
violent attacks, including domestic violence and rape. But when
I have tried to connect with women who campaign on violence
against women, I repeatedly get told that because I have not
been raped, I have no right to talk on this issue or to try
and empathize with women who have. Rape seems to hold a special
symbolic position in the minds of these feminists and is treated
as worse -- but also somehow better -- than all other violent
term used to demonstrate the privileged position rape holds
in feminist discourse is ‘rape culture.’ According
to Melissa McEwan:
culture is the myriad ways in which rape is tacitly and overtly
abetted and encouraged having saturated every corner of our
culture so thoroughly that people can’t easily wrap their
heads around what the rape culture actually is.
more important than my own feeling of exclusion from feminist
campaigns and groupings around gender violence is the countless
number of other people who get attacked and killed in our society,
who are not acknowledged by the concept of rape culture. Have
you ever heard a feminist say that we live in transphobic assault
culture? Or murder of young black men culture? Or homophobia
culture? Or even domestic violence culture? I haven’t.
Incidentally domestic violence is far more common than rape,
and can also include rape. But it just doesn’t seem to
impress the feminists who believe in rape culture. They are
welcome to their victim top trumps, but I am not playing anymore.
I say rape is privileged in feminist discourse, I don’t
mean that it benefits anybody. I believe that by focusing on
the centrality of rape in our culture, feminists are actually
making it more difficult for all of us to campaign against all
forms of gendered violence in society.
to work out why these feminists do this is difficult. My instinct
is that holding onto special victim status has some pay offs
for feminists. They can continue to present gender politics
as a binary opposition between men (potential rapists) and women
(perpetual potential victims of rape). Basically, the concept
of rape culture is misandrist, and it does not allow for the
fact that women are sometimes perpetrators of sexual assault,
and men are sometimes on the receiving end.
like to quote somebody who left a comment on a previous essay
of mine about this topic. This woman is a survivor of rape,
so the rad-fems won’t be able to dismiss her critique
of rape culture the way they do mine:
mythologizing of rape is still rooted in the whole “pedestal”
complex, IMHO, and thus rapists are EVIL and women who get raped
are spiritually/psychologically disfigured for LIFE and blah
blah blah. The “rape culture” paradigm, while clearly
meant as helpful critique and containing valuable cultural insight,
seems to carry on that tradition.
term rapist is one I am not comfortable with using at all, if
I can help it. I know I am in a tiny minority, as I see the
word splashed across the newspapers on a regular basis, and
I hear it being used widely in conversations about rape. The
reason I don’t like the word rapist is that I think it
serves to undermine our attempts to tackle rape and sexual violence.
This is because it pathologizes people who commit rape, portraying
them in our culture as monsters and hate figures’ This
leads to a situation where we place rapists pretty near the
top of a hierarchy of evil characters (maybe just behind pedophiles),
so that in fact, it is actually very difficult to prosecute
for rape. If rapists are these inhuman monstrous characters,
it is not surprising that courts up and down the country are
reluctant to convict the thousands of people who commit rape
received criticism for my view, particularly from feminists
who argue that survivors of sexual violence need the term rapist
to enable them to name their attacker, proceed with seeking
justice and ultimately to get over their ordeal. But I believe
that just as we have changed our terminology from talking about
victims to survivors of rape, we also need to change how we
label perpetrators. When I hear the word rapist I think of a
man, and not a man who is capable of change, of reflection.
We have to speak about and talk to men who commit sexual assault
as if they are able to change, and we also must acknowledge
men are not the only perpetrators, if we want to reduce sexual
and intimate partner violence in society.
culture is a myth. I reject it outright.