Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Slut Shaming

I’d like to think that this is a well thought out position but it’s such a hot button and so filled with triggers that I’m sure there’s an eagerness to pick it to pieces. I embrace that and would always prefer to be stubbornly corrected than stubbornly incorrect.
It’s nice to think that because of their short skirts and flirty demeanour, that rape victims ‘had it coming’.

Well… I mean, it’s not nice to think. It’s awful to think about it at all, but once you’re up to your ankles in sexual assault consideration the reassuring opinion to hold is that she deserved it.

Well… maybe not deserved it. That’s pretty awful. But she at least had control over the situation and simply refused to engage that control.

Okay… maybe not control, I mean… she has the option to inspire less lust in her potential attackers or maybe to not inspire a senses of justification in them.

But… It’s nice to think that she had some control over her actions and intentionally waived them, because I have some control over my actions and I’d like to think I could avoid sexual assault. (I’m wrong)

I try to be emotionally resistant to the death of celebrities. I didn’t know them. They rarely mean something to me personally, and I find it’s easier to do so when their death is less tragic.

Chris Farley - Lived too hard and too fast. Didn’t look after himself.
Steve Irwin - Animal attack, who would have thought.
Amy Winehouse - People were predicting her death for years.

They ‘had it coming’.

They all seem to be their own worst enemy. They shouldn’t have been living that lifestyle. I feel like they had control over their behaviour and waived it. (I'm wrong again)

Then I heard that Amy Winehouse died because she had tried to clean up too fast and her body freaked out at the rapid detox. I felt awful. What a tragedy. How could you control that? Wait, Coroner’s report came out. It was drugs.

Phew, She deserved it.

Old age... or heroin?

That’s what made the death of Heath Ledger so upsetting. He’d died doing something that seemed so justifiable. Plenty of us have snuck a Strepsils lozenge an hour earlier than it says to on the box. It’s not such a leap to think that we could suffer from a similar tragedy of prescription medication overdose.

It’s that horrible reminder that we’re not in control of our own mortality, and it seems easier to write it off as their fault than to struggle with the empathy of knowing that a real human with friends and passions was ripped so violently from their heartbeat.

It’s nice to think that we could wear whatever we want where ever we want and still be safe. Short skirts, bikinis, a bright pink tuxedo *sigh*.  Of course we can’t be safe anywhere in a universe that wants us dead and injured, and how we appear is a big factor in what makes us targets. It’s one of the most effective deciders in evolution. How we appear makes us prey or available mates.

And here’s another thing evolution does that may not delight you. It doesn’t make a moral judgement on rape. Some species of duck practice gang rape. Some bugs actually fire sperm through the female’s carapace and into the womb. And a small percentage of humans every generation are the product of rape. It’s a viable reproductive mechanism which means that there’s an instinctive force in humans urging this behaviour. It doesn’t happen because the attacker wants babies, sex, or even power. It happens because it works.

Hi there, can I buy you a... KABOOM!! YEAH!!

We can overcome these instincts. We’re smart, we have willpower, we have society keeping us in check all the time.

Well… not all the time. In fact the entertainment culture seems to be a little gentle on rape. Oh, it despises child rapists and villainess attackers, but it still sometimes finds Rohypnol kind of funny and it positively delights in rape by deceit (See Revenge of the Nerds). The good news is that it’s slowly getting better as advocates bring these issues to light, and anyway…

We have willpower.

Well… not all the time, obviously. I mean, I don’t think there’s any one of us who hasn’t been overcome with passion and punched a wall, or promised to diet and then eaten hot chips and regretted it, or stolen a faulty printer, dragged it into a field and beat it into a pile of electronics while listening to gangsta rap. They’re emotions. If we could control them all the time they wouldn’t be emotions. They’re an instinctive force.

But… we’re smart at least. We’re all definitely smart all the time.


The lessons to take from this are hence.

  1. Society can be better at denouncing rape culture and advocacy against it can have a big effect.
  2. There will always be rape until we can shut off the mechanism that makes it a viable reproductive strategy.
  3. In some instances (but by no means all instances) we can exert some limited control over whether or not we are a target to predators, sexual or not.
  4. We take the emotionally lazy route when we cast blame on the victim.
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