Rape is caused by rapists, part 496

*trigger warning for sexual violence*

Trigger Warning Space

The Sydney Morning Herald has as its most-read story today a horrifying article: a 7 year old girl gang raped in New Jersey.

Her ordeal gets its proper name of rape. The class and/or race of the rapists and the victim may have something to do with that. I’m unfamiliar with the area and the article doesn’t explore it. But the other reason it qualifies for ‘rape’ rather than ‘had sex with’ is that the focus of the article is to contend that the girl’s rape is all the fault of her fifteen year old sister.

Let that sit with you a minute. Gang rape of a seven year old child. Who do we blame? Well, sure as hell not the rapists. Instead, blame the 15 year old girl who, reading between the lines, was probably the original intended victim of the rape. The article says the little girl worried about her sister going to meet these men and went with her. Then it says the older girl accepted money for the rape of her younger sister – by rapists who threatened death if anyone told.

Right-o. A fifteen year old child in fear of her life and in fear of sexual assault is not the guilty party here. The pack of men who chose between raping a fifteen year old girl and a seven year old girl are. The fifteen year old may not have made what some people might call the admirable or the brave choice, but we are not in a position to know her history or circumstance. There is no right choice she could have made. She is a child. Very probably, she is a child who has been sexually assaulted herself.

Rape is the fault of rapists. No one else. Put that blame where it belongs, and stop trying to find any excuse possible to exonerate rapists. That’s the subtext of this article: the men wouldn’t have raped anyone if only the older girl didn’t pimp her sister out. Bullshit. They were going to rape someone, and they chose to do it.

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ETA: Jo Tamar posts about this article: So, who are you blaming?

Today’s Asshole

Small rage-outlet of a post. Ada Lovelace Day post in the works.

Client just walked into my office, his phone ringtone blaring Eye of the Tiger. I joked that he had entrance music. His totally resonable response was to start doing a striptease at me.

Fucks sake. He will, I am totally sure, interpret my embarrassed, threatened laugh and covered face as approval, and will do it again in the future.

Rape culture means that even as I began writing this, I had to admonish myself that the qualifier ‘stupidly’ did not belong before ‘joked’. I did not cause this incidence of harassment by noting his ringtone. But victim-blaming rape culture means that I consciously have to tell myself that. And it means that I will remain the embarrassed person every time he walks into the office from now on – not him as it ought to be. Not the man who walked into a professional service corporate office and began a striptease in the foyer. What the fuck.

How do you even write about this?

**serious trigger warning for sexual violence**

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Feeling grateful for being treated with respect

I’m feeling grateful almost to tears this morning, and the feeling is accompanied by sadness that this is remarkable.

See, I’m hoping to head away camping soon, and the place my partner and I are thinking of is pretty remote. When I go to remote places, I like to know that I’m not going to be freaking the hell out in the bush because a condom broke. Probably on Easter Sunday, for maximum panic. So, I make sure to have a morning after pill on hand just in case. So far I’ve never had to use the emergency measure, but I feel so much better knowing it’s there.

This morning, I took myself off to a chemist that’s a bit out of my way. I’ll probably still be driving there when it’s really, really out of the way, because of the man who runs it. The first time I went there, horribly embarrassed because I needed thrush treatment after a course of antibiotics, I almost walked back out the door when I saw I would have to speak to a man in his sixties about my vagina. But. It turns out that this man is kind, respectful and considerate. He comes down from his dispensing area to speak quietly to me, explains everything I need to know, and makes sure I’ve chosen the right option for me.

I went back to him the first time I wanted the morning after pill, and he once again came down to me, asked me how long ago the intercourse had happened – completely without judgement or salaciousness, accepted my statement that I wanted the pill ‘just in case’ without question, told me what to expect, and sent me on my way with no fuss. I got the same kind, personal service today.

In contrast, when I had to go to another pharmacist last week for more antibiotic-related thrush (thanks, body, I’m really thrilled that this has become a standard reaction), she yelled across the store about it from her dispensing area, pointedly asked me if I was sure it was thrush, with the implied “It’s totally an STD, you slut”, and didn’t ask any questions to make sure I’d asked for the right kind of treatment. Angry and embarrassed, I took my purchase and left without asking her for the morning after pill I’d been intending to get at the same time.

My other pharmacist, though, him I think I’ll write a letter to, thanking him for being a decent, kind man who supports my right to manage my own reproductive choices.

Statement of the Bleeding Obvious

Okay then. Hi, Stumbluponers. I don’t know how you all found me, but there are a lot of you.

Thus, we’ve hit that time in every blog’s life when a comment policy becomes necessary.

Here’s the short version. Having read it before on every comment policy under the sun, I’m kind of bored of saying it, but apparently it’s necessary:

This is my blog. On my blog, you do not have a right of free speech. If you wish to start your own blog, you can speechify as freely as you like. On my blog, though – in which, you will note, I spend most of my time denouncing assholes and assholish behaviour – I am not going to give your assholishness breathing space.

If you have not shown up to tell me how hilarious rape is, or to tell me that anyone who sees rape culture is deluded, then I’m not talking to you, and please be welcome to carry on as you were.

Here’s the comment policy in full.

Misogyny in Music: One Good Reason Will Do, Asshole

Today’s star of Misogyny in Music is Thirsty Merc, with a song that plagued Australia’s airwaves several years ago. I’m pleased to say I haven’t heard it since, but as it bears the dubious honour of being the only song that drives me to ranting every time I do hear it, let’s record that rant right here.

The song is 20 Good Reasons. Even if it didn’t belong in the Misogyny in Music series, it would still belong in the Jet’s Picks for Most Annoying Songs list for it sheer whininess.

20 Good Reasons is that staple of music, a breakup song. I will spare you the somewhat tortured attempts to rhyme in the verses, because they’re your usual inoffensive breakup fare. (They said love hurts / I wrote that book / I climbed that wall [what?] / I had one look [ouch.]). Etc.

The chorus, however. The chorus is all about our singer’s serious entitlement issues, and it drives me up the bloody wall.

He whines thus:
So tell me why-y-y-y
Should I let you go
Give me 20 good reasons
I need to know
Yeah

Give me 20 good reasons
Give me 20 good reasons
Give me 20 good reasons
To let you go

And I always yell back at the radio that he needs one good reason, asshole, and that is that she* doesn’t want to see you any more. The end, no further discussion.

Let’s be clear. Mr Singer is not asking his ex lover to help him understand what went wrong with their relationship. He is not saying goodbye. He is not even expressing anger at the unexpected end of a relationship. He is demanding that his ex lover explain herself to him, so that he can decide if her reasons – all 20 of them – are in fact “good” enough, and he can then decide if he will deign to “let her go”. Because she is, you know, his to let go or otherwise.

At the end of the second verse, the lyric runs, “And I lost everything / When I lost you“. This is put up as justification for why (y-y-y) he gets to decide if he’s going to “let” her go. Guys like this, they’re the guilt tripping controlling ones. The vibe on this song is start-to-finish creepy. You don’t get to break up with this guy, you get to submit your 20 – no less – essay questions on why he ought to let you go. You’re a captive and all. He’ll decide.

Love songs. Breakup songs. Listen to where the agency is in the lyrics, and how prevalent that sentiment is the world. Normalised.

Thirsty Merc, I Am Not Cake says you can get stuffed with your reasons, and furthermore, that sentiments like this in a relationship ought to get you slapped with a restraining order.

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* I’m assuming that this is a song about a heterosexual relationship, as I’ve not seen anything to suggest otherwise. I’m open to correction if you know different.

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Other posts in the Misogyny in MusicĀ  series: one

Misogyny in Music: Art vs Science

This is the first in a series on song lyrics that disturb the hell out of me. I’m a Triple J listener – the Australian “youth” radio station who play whatever’s being called alternative at any given time – so that’s generally the kind of songs I’ll hear and write about.

Generally what happens is this: I’m driving along, listening to a new song, usually enjoying it – maybe even for the first few times I hear it. And then I really listen to the lyrics, and there’s a grunching moment. There’s rape culture, right there on my radio, right there in the songs crowds are rocking out to at this years’ festivals. Right there in the words being joyfully screamed out from moshpits everywhere. And it’s bloody depressing.

Example 1: Art vs Science and their catchy, bouncy, upbeat, Parlez Vous Francais – so popular that it was this years’ runner-up in the Hottest 100 music poll.

This is an Australian band singing in (reportedly not very good; I’m no judge) French. I’d like to think that the same song with English lyrics wouldn’t have done so well. I suspect I may be wrong.

The translations provided are a conglomerate of opinions found in various places online. If you actually do speak French and I’ve got something wrong, please correct me.

Verse 1: The Champs-Elysees is a busy street
We getting down with everyone we meet
If you understand, then listen to me:
Si’l vous plait ma cherie allez tombez la chemise! (Please my (female) darling, take off your shirt.)

Chorus: Parlez-vous Francais? (Do you speak French?)
Oui! [chorus of cartoonish, squealing, ecstatic-sounding ‘girl’ voices] (Yes!)
Parlez-vous Francais?
Oui!
Si tu peux le parler allez tombez la chemise (If you can speak/understand [French] then take off your shirt – implication, women only)

Verse 2: Do it now, because you can and I think you should
Do it now, because you can and I told you to

Do it now, because you can, I’ll take mine off too
Do it now, because you can, ‘coz you can

There is a third verse about watching ones’ sexy neighbours with binoculars, but it’s that second verse that chills me. The contrast of the English lyrics to the French, the imperative, authoritative voice, lacking even the pretense of a request, or a suggestion that a woman may indeed wish to take off her shirt for her own reasons. She should do it, and do it now, because the singer told her to. The cartoon girls in the song think it’s a great idea. They sound like they’re having the time of their lives.

I just bet that women in mosh pits when this song is played at a gig have a great time. I can’t imagine that the men around them get any ideas that the women should strip for them if they like it or not, can you?

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Other posts in the Misogyny in MusicĀ  series: one | two