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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Actually, Yeah. It’s Rape.

This Saturday, a particularly ominous topic starting trending on Twitter - #itaintrape. “Comedian” Lil Duval kicked it off by tweeting “#itaintrape if u naked of Yo Twitter profile pic”, “#itaintrape if I’m paying child support”, “Lmao RT @MrCashFanatic: @lilduval #itaintrape if she doesn’t remember it.”. And went from there. His followers picked it up and started their own party, some lowlights of which can be found here.

And then some of my friends saw this going on, and they started speaking their minds.

@popelizbet:
#itaintrape when everyone is giving full free consent & enthusiastic participation.

When you say #itaintrape for any other reason than full uncompromised consent you are or sound like #ARapistJustifyingYourCrimes.

#itaintrape when someone beats you in a video game or you get overcharged. Stop trivializing rape as shorthand for unpleasantness.

If you need a set of elaborate justifications other than full & free consent as to why #itaintrape you are #ARapistJustifyingYourCrimes.

Saying that #itaintrape when describing nonconsensual sex acts is morally bankrupt & the act of #ARapistJustifyingYourCrimes.

Saying #itaintrape when an adult rapes a child is a disgusting act of betrayal. Regardless of the genders of predator & victim, #itsrape.

@karnythia
The only way #itaintrape is if everyone’s consenting. Otherwise it is rape. And you’re #ARapistJustifyingYourCrimes

#itaintrape when you’re not a rapist. That means consent,no drugs, no booze, & no coercion. Otherwise you’re #ARapistJustifyingYourCrimes

It is rape when someone’s impaired or frightened into cooperating. You’re #ARapistJustifyingYourCrimes by claiming #itaintrape.

People that think #itaintrape is no big deal because it’s on Twitter? Try being someone who was raped and seeing people mock your pain.

#itaintrape isn’t funny when you have a soul or a conscience. Being a sociopathic little shit isn’t funny or something to celebrate.

#ARapistJustifyingYourCrimes is the only one likely to claim that consent isn’t required in order to claim #itaintrape

You say #itaintrape to the crying girl cowering in the corner. You’re #ARapistJustifyingYourCrimes & you know it so stop lying.

Blaming the victim by claiming #itaintrape is always the default when you’re #ARapistJustifyingYourCrimes. #BlameTheRapistForOnce.

Saying #itaintrape to victims that have to live with the nightmares? Makes you #ARapistJustifyingYourCrimes.

When you “loosen them up” with booze or drugs and then claim #itaintrape ? You’re #ARapistJustifyingYourCrimes

When you use violence or the implied threat of violence to coerce someone into sex & claim #itaintrape ? You’re #ARapistJustifyingYourCrimes

The “it ain’t rape” idea, as PopeLizbet and Karnythia know, is very pernicious. It plays heavily into victim blaming - as Amanda Hess says here, “This is the general script for rape apologists:

  1. Isolate a detail about the rape victim - it could be her appearance, her attire, her level of intoxication, her upbringing, her sexual history, or her presence at a particular party - really, anything will do.
  2. Decide that that particular detail designates her as a less-than-perfect rape victim.
  3. Assert that this rape doesn’t matter because the victim was asking for it / wasn’t taking charge of her own safety / is lying / doesn’t deserve any of the limited amount of the sympathy we extend to “real” victims of rape.

This troll has reversed that script. First, decide that you don’t care about the rape. Then, assume that the rape victim must conform to one of the accepted cultural markers of an “imperfect” victim (short skirt / stiletto heels / sexually promiscuous / had been drinking / has a piercing / in a bad neighborhood / has a tattoo - on the lower back! / wears make-up / and good luck if you’re transgender).”

People are looking to excuse other people for being rapists all the time. Just look at any celebrity rape case. And there’s always a list of things that gets brought up, whether the rapist is a celebrity or not - she danced with him. She had a drink. She wore a short skirt. She didn’t fight back.

One of the #itaintrape tweets in particular illustrated how awful this can get: @Chrissy_Paris: #itaintrape if she orgasam is it?

Many survivors apply some self-blame. It’s hard to get to “this is the rapist’s fault, and nothing I did made it okay for him to rape me”; people tend to look for what they did wrong, even if there’s nothing there. It can be a monumentally difficult thing to sit there with yourself and say “that was rape. I was raped.” Many people try to shove it to the back of their mind, not deal with it as what it is.

Especially if their bodies reacted.

And they can. Your body reacts to physical stimulation. Your brain doesn’t always have anything to do with that. It is perfectly possible to orgasm during rape, just because hey, your nerve endings are being stimulated. That does not make it not rape. It does not make it consensual. If you said no, it is rape. Doesn’t matter whether you had a physical reaction. But the fact is that that physical reaction is usually very tied to sexual pleasure, so it’s difficult to accept that that can happen during rape, and it’s a lot for the survivor to get past - and when the message the survivor is getting is “if you got wet/hard/off, it wasn’t rape”, it can be tremendously difficult to process. So this is a message that’s especially important to combat.

Saying “it ain’t rape” if the survivor was drunk, if they were on a date with the perpetrator, if they express their sexuality in any way is a way to silence survivors. Because the truth is that most survivors *do* know their rapists. If you were raped by someone you thought was your friend - yeah, probably you did hug them at some point, or let them treat you to coffee, or danced with them.

But that doesn’t mean you consented to having sex with them. And if there’s no consent, it’s rape. No matter what.

@popelizbet:
Saying #itaintrape because of how someone dresses means you believe rape can be justified. Sounds like you’re #ARapistJustifyingYourCrimes.

Justifying why#itaintrape on Twitter tonight? Wonder what your mama thinks about that. Does she know you’re #ARapistJustifyingYourCrimes?

If you say #itaintrape when victim is a prisoner you are endorsing rape as a tool of punishment. Could you be #ARapistJustifyingYourCrimes?

Some of y’all gonna be lucky if your #itaintrape tweets aren’t used as evidence against you eventually. #mamasaidwatchwhatcomesoutyourmouth

Keep telling us when #itaintrape so we know never to be near you, cause you sound like #ARapistJustifyingYourCrimes

I’m almost sorry I missed this whole episode, just because I’d've loved to rain down some fiery doom. But Karnythia and PopeLizbet did a fantastic job, and illustrate a great point. I know some readers may be curious about what to do when you see victim-blaming, survivor-shaming stuff like this.

Well. This is what you do.

PopeLizbet and Karnythia, among others, hijacked that thread with *their* tweets. And got retweeted. And slowly it got to the point where every “#itaintrape if you pay child support” was followed by one of their tweets.

Haul ‘em off course. Make it clear that you disagree, and you won’t stand for it. Stand up and speak. This is something anyone can do - don’t just let that conversation happen, step in and say “Hey, that is not okay, and here’s why.”

PopeLizbet’s ending tirade is brilliant, so I’m reproducing it in its entirety below.

I’ll lighten up about #itaintrape when we as a society don’t treat rape lightly as a matter of policy. I’ll lighten up about #itaintrape when we don’t tacitly or overtly condone it as a tool of censure, punishment & control. I’ll lighten up about #itaintrape when rape becomes shockingly rare & universally reviled no matter who is victimized. I’ll lighten up about #itaintrape when prosecutors quit declining to prosecute to keep their success rates up for reelection. I’ll lighten up about #itaintrape when we don’t nominate Presidential candidates who make rape jokes on the campaign trail. I’ll lighten up about #itaintrape when people stop endorsing it as an appropriate consequence for crimes, drinking, or being alive. Basically? I’m not going to lighten up about #itaintrape because #yallaresick & reflect a sick culture.

Posted by Shira on 04/14 at 09:17 AM

Comments

WIN.
Posted by bifemmefatale  on  04/14  at  11:21 AM
This is what we need. All the time, forever, non-stop. Is there a way I can make this happen in real life? I mean, can I make an actual twitter comment shoot out of the internet and hit idiots in the face when they turn into rape apologists?
Posted by Dave  on  04/14  at  11:22 AM
Great post...thanks for putting it here. I can't believe people were saying all that #itaintrape stuff...it's all so obviously rape, so vile and misogynistic, so raw and obvious.
On the one hand this is horribly depressing.
On the other hand it's wonderful to know that there are people talking back. Correcting the ignorance of those statements.
It's also a great model for the rest of us on a way to respond to the perpetuation of lies and myth's about rape.
Posted by Lin  on  04/14  at  04:26 PM
Thank you, Shira, for this post.

Anyone can do what we did on Friday night, and there were many, many other people - including recording artist Sean Padilla - who helped us hijack that trending topic until we shamed Twitter into pulling it. Mr. Padilla took the very brave step of revealing his own survivor experience in response to this trending topic, and using his much broader follow list to praise those speaking truth on the hash tag and shame those who were treating it as ha-ha funny. So that's out there: Sean P of the Cocker Spaniels? Willing to put himself out there to speak up against people telling lies about rape.

Because I'm pedantic: for the record, #mamasaidwatchwhatcomesoutyourmouth is a Jeru tha Damaja lyric; while his work isn't without problematic content, his statements on how rappers were setting themselves up by confessing to crimes in their lyrics seemed too, too apropos. :D Can't cite on Twitter, but I'll cite here.
Posted by Pope Lizbet  on  04/14  at  05:55 PM
Thank you. This is so fantastic, and I think whenever I see someone saying that it isn't rape? I'll be linking and saying 'excuse me?'
Posted by Jen  on  04/15  at  09:55 AM
That is SO AWESOME. I always see trending topics on Twitter that make me cringe and get upset, and I'm really glad that I was knocked out sick for the past 48 hours so I missed seeing that trending topic. On the other hand, how incredibly amazing that people stepped up and hijacked that trend. I loved reading this post, and it gave me a good feeling about the internet--how rare! ;)
Posted by Vivienne  on  04/15  at  10:18 AM
Reading that just gave me a much-needed dose of hope (and some subversive ideas). Thank you!
Posted by Lisa  on  04/26  at  09:18 AM
#itaintrape if you were mentally ill at the time, and the perp was a minor, because the possible backlash from retaliatory charges of statutory rape would be both "destablizing and retruamatizing for you" and easier to prove, or that's what the Fairfax County Victim Assistance Network (VAN) will tell you, if you ask them. They'll tell you that mental illness has no etiology, that trauma is in the past, that mental illness is chronic and lifelong (like diabetes--which is false), that the present is what matters, that mental illness can be treated but not cured with drugs (which is true), that you're "perseverating", that probably your hypothalmus is "smaller than most people have", and that you should "forgive yourself" and "let go". And they will not find, prosecute, or stop the perp, or his friends, and it will probably happen again to someone else. Which is not bad for an all-volunteer agency which nonetheless probably does have funding.

But take some of your own money, and look around, and you'll find out that #youwereraped and #itwasreal and #yousurvived. Spend a little more, not relying on insurance, and you'll find out that #itsbeenhappeningforever and #itstrauma and #youcanrecoverfromtrauma. Spend more, start to recover, earn more, spend less on coping habits, find some hope, talk with peers and friends, and you'll find out that #itwasinthepast, #itwasntyourfault, and #youcanhealandgrow.

Like I did.
Posted by Douglas (Dana) Goncz, CPS  on  06/01  at  09:56 PM

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