Rape: Why we shouldn’t be talking about it

Disclaimer: this post contains political content. Opinions are my own, and I’m always willing to learn more.


Monday’s workout: 40 weighted squats, 10 superman push ups, 20 chair dips. I had a surprise call from one of my good friends (who, like most of them, lives far away) so that took precedence over a workout.

This will be a shorter post, but I do have a thing or two to say about the large amount of rape talk happening in the political world lately. First things first. I came across this last week:

GOP rape advisory chart

I have just two points to make about this.

Number one, these are terrible comments that should not be voiced, regardless of context.

Number two, these are comments taken completely out of context.

Which leads to my point (I did say this was going to be short). I am incredibly uncomfortable with the way rape is being discussed right now. Horrible comment, or just a stupid comment taken out of context… we are not talking about real rape issues at all.

No one in the political realm is talking about the legal challenges of reporting a rape. No one is talking about the fear that must be overcome to report a rape, and how the system discourages women from doing that. No one is talking about the health issues – mental and physical. As far as I can tell, the only reason it’s come up is in connection to abortion.

{Note: I’m mainly talking about women as we are the majority of rape victims. That being said, I in no way disregard men who are victims of rape. They have their own significant challenges as well. Also, I am not a rape victim. I only write as a women concerned with the current rhetoric}

What concerns me most is that we, as a society, will quickly experience “rape fatigue” and the issue will fall from public conversation long before we’ve actually talked about it.

Frankly put, I would rather not be talking about it at all. This “conversation” of political talking heads does absolutely nothing to help victims. It does nothing to assist medical staff working with victims. It does nothing to change the legal circumstances or aid investigators in arresting alleged rapists.

Rape is rape is rape. There may different levels of violence involved, but rape is a heinous crime that impacts a victim far beyond the physical pain. That is what we should talk about.

Not whether a rape is “legitimate” or “honest” or how a pregnancy seemingly makes the rape count. Those things shouldn’t be said at all.

take rape seriously


4 thoughts on “Rape: Why we shouldn’t be talking about it

  1. I understand what you’re saying. You’re saying that the dumb stuff being said right now distracts from the real conversation. But the reason I think it’s important to talk about the dumb comments is that I don’t think it’s just a couple (or more than a couple) politicians being taken out of context. For every one Todd Akin, there are, sadly, thousands of people who probably believe that. 1. I think we should all realize, just … in our lives, that there are people who think that stuff, and 2. MAYBE just maybe the resulting outrage will cause those people to think twice. Maybe not. But who knows. For instance, it is super embarrassing how little I knew about Islam before 9/11. Just horrible. But when everyone had to be educated because of some stupid racist reactions to Muslims, it helped ME too.

    Do I think rape should be talked about more outside the context of abortion? Absolutely. Again, I was embarrassingly old before my smart friend taught me the distinction of “Rape is about power. Not sex.” I can’t tell you how many people’s minds I’ve blown with that simple but very very important distinction. People do not – on a fundamental level – understand a lot about this Very Frighteningly Common thing. And they say stupid crap in front of women who will keep their mouths shut but, unbeknownst to the talker, are victims (hello, Tosh.0). Here I’m talking about supposedly urbane people who would scoff at Akin. Frankly, I think high school boys should be locked in a room and made to watch super depressing documentaries about rape. Over and over. However. Rape absolutely has to be a part of the abortion discussion. It just has to. Out of respect for victims who know perfectly well (again, sorry to dwell on Akin – but again, THERE ARE OTHERS LIKE HIM) they can get pregnant. Until we as a country know our crap better, and have a better understanding of rape, and don’t just tell ourselves it’s a problem for other people, and therefore eh, who cares …. because there are laws that are being passed successfully, and have been on the books for years, that prevent rape victims from getting abortions. Not directly, always, just … practically. The two issues are just linked, and that’s how it is, and the pro-choice people (or even just pro-choice in the case of, etc.) are not going to let it go until our country gets more savvy and educated about this crap. And what I mean by that is – the vaginal ultrasound law in VA didn’t make every single person think, immediately, “Oh but what if the woman had been raped?” Because again, rape is something that happens to someone ELSE. So we need the shrill broken record voices bringing it up again and again because we’re NOT savvy, and if the past few years of legislation prove anything, it’s that plenty of people do not understand or, frankly, BELIEVE that “rape is rape.” Plenty of people – not just a few, poor made-fun-of politicians.

    Will this cause some people to get “turned off” by the discussion – sick of it, and no longer interested in hearing about it? Like the people who never tire of bragging that they’re not “PC”! (Way to be current, y’all.) Yes. But I’d rather alienate and annoy those people than let those laws pass and those people get elected unnoticed.

    • Thanks for the insight, VA. You make a lot of great points, so I’ll just try to hit on a few things.

      1. I sincerely hope that these outrageous comments lead to real conversations. And you might be right; the chance that better understanding and addressing actual rape concerns can happen is worth the risk of “rape fatigue.” (There may be a better term, but that’s just what I’m using here).

      2. Abortion and rape go hand in hand, no doubt. They are also separate issues. Rape deserves more attention than being “that thing attached to the abortion debate.” I have no problem with them being discussed together; I’m more annoyed that many of the comments (at least ones I’ve seen) have come after abortion or pro–life questions and I want to hear responses that give a lot more respect to the rape side of things too.

      3. Unfortunately, you’re also correct and I’m right there with you, that far too many people do not buy that “rape is rape,” period. There are so many excuses, and most of them turn on the victim (dressed provocatively, flirty and “asked for it,” too drunk, said yes first but changed her mind, on and on). This stuff makes me FURIOUS. I remember being told in high school that I was wrong for having a bra stap showing because it was too suggestive for the guys and I was responsible to protect “their eyes.” I thought that was bull shit then, and I think it’s bull shit now.

      4. This is more a question. You wrote that “rape is something that happens to someone ELSE.” (P.S. The vaginal ultrasound law also really upsets me). I’m supposing your thought is that we just don’t think that “I” will be raped. I’m curious how true that is. I know I am consistently aware how easily I can be a victim of rape (I honestly have semi–regular nightmares about it). I guess I assume that most women, at least, who haven’t been raped think about it. Or maybe our demographic is more aware because rape has happened so often around us?

      5. I’m 100% all for the “broken record voices bringing it up again and again.” I really want those voices to be valuable. And I know there are plenty of people in this public conversation that are saying essentially the same thing we are: these comments are outrageous and detract from something really important!

      Anyway, it’s late. I’m not sure all of this makes sense. Thanks again for the comment; you always have a slightly different perspective that gives me more to think about. And really, that’s why I write the occasional post like this. I’m working through something, and it helps to write it out, and it helps even more to get feedback.

      Glad you’re safe and well this week!

      • Thanks, yep I can’t believe that tree didn’t fall on the house …. wow.

        Re: “someone else” – I think it is more a guy thing, like those politicians and like Tosh.0. Like, oh, the nice girls I know would never have that happen to them, so I can make a joke about it, lighten up everyone. And probably our generation is way more aware, too. But in general it’s human nature to think “Sure it’s not their fault … but seriously, what did they do wrong so that I can avoid it and be sure it never happens to me ever ever ever because that is within my control.” It’s natural to sort of almost want it to be preventable in a way that, as a side effect, makes it someone’s fault, and something that doesn’t happen to one’s own type of people.

        In general … I think rape is only coming up in this context because people aren’t talking about rape legislation – they’re talking about abortion legislation. So that’s why. It’s how the fact that many politicians think being unconscious and being raped is not really rape (not “forcible”) becomes known – that’s when they admit it. Not when coming up with laws about rape, which are less in flux, I guess.

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