Saturday, 4 October 2014

Frustration and sadness re sexism, assault, harassment...

Updated (at 16:27 2014.10.04): There were several miscommunications in "the resulting discussions" which led me to make presumptions I now know are incorrect. I am sorry for any and all hurt or misunderstandings caused by my presumptions. I and all parties involved are committed to continually improving our communication. 

These are (please pardon the word choice) touchy *cringe* subjects for me.

These are topics that are important to me and topics that regularly see me becoming annoyed and biting my tongue.

For example, we recently had visitors around and while I don't even remember how the subject came up, I remember our guests stating, essentially, that some women get what they deserve/they shouldn't be surprised at what they get because of how they have spoken/acted/dressed.

(Even writing this, I can feel my blood pressure creeping up.)

The resulting conversations I have had regarding the subject of feminism, sexism, harassment, assault... (a whole gambit of issues relating to gender and sexuality) have been tense, at best.

I find it very difficult to convey my ideas and emotions clearly when speaking of these issues, largely due to my incredulity at the beliefs of those around me, and I've even been accused of overreacting.

When discussing the idea that a person (normally the hypothetical person is a woman in these discussions) shouldn't be surprised if they are assaulted or raped if they have dressed a certain way or spoken or acted in a certain manner as to have led the offending party on, I have been simply astonished by the amount of people that I know and love who believe this to be true.

They believe that if a person is in a nightclub and they dress in a manner to provoke, if they dance with or kiss or get into some "heavy petting" with someone and then decide they don't want to have sex, that they want what's happening to stop... they shouldn't be surprised when it doesn't. They're supposed to accept their fate for being a "tease". 

I've tried explaining that for *anyone* to not stop when being asked to, told to, begged to in such a situation is just plain *wrong* and it doesn't then matter how the victim was dressed, what they said or how they acted up until that point. 

At the point that one party indicates or states that they do not want to proceed, that they want things to stop... they. should. stop.

I was then countered with the argument that men/testosterone-filled boys in a nightclub who have been drinking and/or taking drugs, who have been looking at scantily-clad bodies, who have been kissed, who have maybe been involved in some "heavy petting" aren't necessarily responsible for their actions in those circumstances.

Excuse me?!

If a person *chooses* to harass (or molest... or rape... or in any other way violate) another person and blames that *choice* on alcohol- or drug-impaired judgement, a state in which they *chose* to put themselves... their responsibility is negated/excused/not required?? 

That's like saying drunk drivers shouldn't be held responsible if people die as a result of them driving drunk because they were *drunk* when they *drove*!

How can that make sense?!

It doesn't. Not to me. And while I haven't explained it *quite* like this to a couple of people who mean the world to me, I have become increasingly more frustrated and angry that they hold these beliefs. 

Because of the intensity of my astonishment and my refusal to think that these behaviours should be excused in any way, I have been asked if there has been anything that's happened to me in my past that could evoke such a reaction.

I don't yell. I don't even raise my voice. I don't become violent (though, I do gesticulate a bit more, who doesn't when they're worked up?), but it's obvious that this is a subject about which I feel strongly. And because I feel strongly and it's obvious in discussing these matters with me, people have presumed I *must* have been hurt in some way to lead me to these reactions.

I'm a bit hurt, to be honest, that people so close to me have come to ask those kinds of questions... That people I love are so convinced that these behaviours should be accepted they presume *I* am the one who is overreacting, that *I* must be the one with issues.

Is it not OK to be upset about the injustice of it all?? Is it not OK to become even more upset when I can see the people I adore hold those kinds of mindsets, the kinds of mindsets that foster a victim-blaming/shaming culture??

Even though these issues are all over the news and the internet these days (with stories about Sam Pepper, for example) I have had to bite my tongue in my own home.

I don't feel comfortable enough to say "Oh my god! Have you heard what's going on over in YouTubeLand?!" 

I fear that even discussing current events relating to these issues would lead loved ones to either pat me on the head, thinking "There, there... calm down, it's nothing to get upset over" or immediately be convinced something *must* have happened to me to make me keep bringing things up relating to these issues, as though I'm seeking them out.*

Either way, it's pretty sad.

Either way, there's nothing to seek. These issues are valid. All the time. Everywhere. There's no seeking involved. The issues are ubiquitous.

And I feel I can't talk about them. And I'm hurt and frustrated that people I know, people I *love*, who are intelligent, savvy, aware of themselves and the world around them... feel that sometimes, people who have been assaulted or raped were just getting "what they deserved" - that "they asked for it".

Do you have any ideas or know of any sources that can help me with this dilemma, that could help me explain myself properly?

Or am I fighting a lost cause?

*In fact, while writing this post, I was asked why/when this issue raised its head again. An implication, in my mind, that it's an annoyance and why am I rehashing it?

I genuinely don't know what to say at this point.


  1. I think this says it pretty well


    1. And that formatting was bad. Let's try again

    2. Thank you, Karin! Turns out I don't need it as urgently as I thought, but I could certainly use it going forward. Thank you!! <3<3