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Your Morning Victim Shaming

Last night, I posted a piece that relied on my experience as a victim of sexual assault. I mentioned in that post that it was the sort of thing I didn’t want to write about all the time, that I chose my moments.

It isn’t the writing I want to manage. I can do that by this point without going there again. It’s the responses. This is what I woke up to this morning.

I'm just plain tired of the rape bullshit: http://t.co/xSoEP7TN @ pulls yet another from out of her ass #rapesurvivorhere
@reneehendricks
Renee Hendricks
Seriously. If alchohol is that much of a problem for you, don't fucking drink and you won't have an issue @
@reneehendricks
Renee Hendricks

I’m not sure where the bullshit is supposed to be in my post. She didn’t say. She never says, just cries, “Bullshit!” and wanders off.

This idea that I should stop drinking, though–that’s toxic. “So, hey, you were sexually assaulted. You should just stop living your life rather than cope with some distress.” Another response makes the meaning even more plain.

@ @ won't let anybody buy her a drink? Try this bitch. don't leave your house ever again, just in case it leads to rape
@SecularCharlie
SkepularCharlie

You see, since someone else committed a crime against me, I should be (figuratively) jailed. If I can’t pretend in every particular that it never happened, I should give up my life.

This just tells me she hasn’t bothered to read the post she’s upset about:

Oh, and don't even attempt to tackle this from the other side. There have been more than a few women taking advantage of drunk men #asshat
@reneehendricks
Renee Hendricks

There’s a certain amount of irony in the rest of Hendricks’ Twitter rant.

Any other women out there tired of being portrayed as helpless and obviously to dumbassed to take care of yourself?
@reneehendricks
Renee Hendricks
(should have been "too" not "to"). In any case, that's how some feminists R portraying us today. Too fucking weak to take care of ourselves.
@reneehendricks
Renee Hendricks

If finding a way to successfully deal for a decade with something that scares you is weak…no, there just isn’t any “if” there. This is a ridiculous statement. Not only have I never claimed that all victims (men or women) react the same way, but the idea that someone who doesn’t just shake-off sexual assault is “weak” is sociopathic. It takes far more strength to deal with the after-effects of trauma on a daily basis than it does to live without the burden.

Hendricks, of course, took her vague complaint to the slime pit, as I discovered when I saw my traffic stats this morning. There, John Welch decided to add his two cents.

oh for fuck’s sake, damn zvain, i’m sorry no one ever taught you about drinking, but shit on a shingle, “every time I see a drink, i see rape on the other side”.

Christ, GET SOME FUCKING COUNSELING!

Welch misquotes me, as I expect at this point. What I actually said was, “For that decade, every time I contemplated a mixed drink, even those that came from the bartenders, I saw the possible rape on the other side of it. Every single time.”

As for his comments on drinking, I was 15 when I was assaulted. Exactly how much was I supposed to know about drinking at that point. Was I supposed to be able to guage the alcohol content of a drink designed to disguise alcohol? More importantly, what could anyone have taught me about drinking that would have told me the difference between someone who wanted to pour me a drink as part of a social event and someone who wanted to pour me a drink as a means to assault? Is there a course for that?

Or do they teach that in counseling for sexual assault? I’m pretty sure they don’t, which makes the counseling comment flat out stupid in addition to being grossly inappropriately personal. Especially since what they would have done in counseling, if the counselors were good, was try to help me live as normal a life as possible, making the accommodations I needed. In fact, they would have suggested I do more or less exactly what I did, at least once I was of legal drinking age.

Welch doesn’t actually want me to get counseling, though. What he wants is right up there in how he spells my name. “zvain” Isn’t it hilarious? Isn’t he clever?

Well, no. He’s just one more person who doesn’t want me to talk about me, particularly when I’m talking about that sexual assault. And he’s perfectly happy, along with the rest of them, to try to shame me when I do.

So what happens when I write about this stuff? I should stop drinking, hide in my house, and get counseling I don’t actually need. Anyone wonder why I pick my moments?

Comments

  1. says

    Well, apparently it’s all your fault.
    I mean really.
    Everything. Whatever.
    If you can’t take it like brave Renee did, then you obviously shouldn’t be on planet earth.

    I nominate Renee Hendricks for the most revolting human being in 2013. And yes, I’m pretty confident even though it’s only Jan. 9.

  2. Pteryxx says

    GawdsDAMN. What do they think this is, “The Only Moral Drinking Is My Drinking” show?

  3. says

    Blame the victim is easy, since they have already been a victim they shouldn’t mind it. When rape became a problem in Israel, they wanted to put a curfew on women. Golda Meir said put the curfew on men, they are the ones committing the crime. Why Renee condones the action of criminal is beyond comprehension.

  4. jackiepaper says

    Somebody needs counselling, but it isn’t you Stephanie. If Renee thinks bulling and shaming assault, harassment and rape victims makes her strong instead of repugnant, she’s twisted as a corkscrew.

  5. Anthony K says

    So, have all the cleft lips been fixed? Renee’s really too busy to be trolling Twitter.

    Hop to it, Renee. You wouldn’t want us thinking poorly of how you were raised.

  6. says

    Yes, i mean she’s plain saying that if you’Re assaulted when you’re drunk (especially when somebody made sure you got really intoxicated) it’s your personal problem and you shouldn’t bother anybody with it.

  7. Anthony K says

    I’m just plain tired of the rape bullshit

    Then don’t read here, fuckhead.

    Jesus, for people who think the best course of action for rape victims is to sequester themselves, they sure don’t seem to have a solution for the empty, meaningless lives they lead causing them to obsess over every single thing any FtB writes.

  8. says

    Fuck. I am so, so sorry you have to deal with that.

    I don’t know if I’ve taken the time to thank you for your writing, but I should have before now. I really appriciate your bravery in continuing to blog and tweet in the face of constant, disgusting attacks. I’ve only ever had one real attack from someone re: my rape (on Ophelia’s blog, I think, and some douchebag made sure I knew he thought I was making it up, during a conversation about false accusation), and that shook me up, enough that I seriously debated whether or not to continue to write about my experiences. I don’t know how I would deal with the shit you go through. I’ve always enjoyed the way you eloquently discuss skepticism (why I started reading the blog in the first place), but I also appriciate your honesty, the space that you’ve created for victims/survivors to feel comfortable sharing and learning from each other, and your frank discussions about things like PTSD and bullying. On top of being a great stop for learning, I’ve also found your blog to be healing.

    So, thank you. I truly can’t understand the hostility, or how any thinking and feeling human being (especially a woman and/.or self-proclaimed skeptic!) could respond like that.

  9. Dunc says

    Christ on a bike… It could easily have been rohypnol, rather than just alcohol. What would they say then? Never mind, I don’t think I want to know… I’m sure they think they have magic roofie detectors or something.

    Is anybody else getting a strong “That could never happen to me, because I’m too smart / good / tough?” vibe from these arseholes?

  10. No Light says

    Renee Hendricks is clearly a very damaged individual. But then again, that’s what carrying a metric fucktonne of internalised misogyny will do to a woman.

    Sorry they’re attacking you.

  11. marcus says

    Seriously Renee get some help. You’ve become a hateful, reprehensible caricature of a human being.
    John Welch there probably isn’t any help for you, you are simply despicable.

  12. Anthony K says

    EEB, thank you. The fact that I can make some sort of difference, while all they have is impotent rage, is a large part of what makes this worth doing.

    Your writing makes a difference for those of us who don’t have personal experience with, for instance, rape, but love and care about people who have, as well as desiring to make the world a better place for most.

  13. says

    But she says #rapesurvivorhere so everything she says is okay. You just need to start tagging all your posts about rape with #sexualassaultsurvivorhere and you’ll instantly be unimpeachable. #reneehendricksisanidiothere

  14. Helix says

    Recently I was in a gathering of 4 women and the topic turned to sexual assault. Of the 4 of us, 2 had been victims, one at the age of 11. There is a lot of denial and fear about assault and the sheer prevalence of it. Blustering about and convincing yourself that _you_ are smarter, stronger, more prepared, more of a survivor, whatever, than victims who tell their stories is nothing more than a desperate strategy for pushing down that fear, reassuring yourself that you are not as vulnerable as others have been. The victim blamers’ responses say nothing about you or your writing, SV. They do reveal a lot about the character and maturity of the attackers. Be at peace.

  15. hoary puccoon says

    Yikes. Renee Hendricks is tweeting under rapesurvivorhere? Am I reading that right? This is so horrible. It’s obvious she is a very, very damaged person. And one likely cause of that kind of psychological damage is being raped. Is it possible she has turned her helpless anger at her rapist into anger at rape victims–including, first and foremost, herself? What a tragic irony that she actually believes she’s being strong, while lashing out instead of getting the help she needs.

  16. says

    This week I’m really struck by the boundary issues, kind of from both sides of Hendricks. On the one hand, she obsessively reads everything you write and hates you for everything you say, but can’t knock it off and go away. On the other hand, she insists on spewing her shit against you with absolutely no regard for your feelings or mental state.

    There’s something seriously wrong with her, dangerously so.

  17. Shari says

    Given some of my less-thought-out behavior in my 20′s, i am lucky I Don’t have your story to share. I cannot fathom anyone with a shred of sisterhood Diving into victim shaming. Diving straight into ‘Stephanie makes stuff up’. Given how much victim blaming is out there, nobody in their right mind (and that right mind is important to skeptics, yes?) would volunteer their story lightly. To make a point.

    And here you go, pulling an assault story out of your @$$.

    as. if.

    The persona Hendricks is displaying is foul. And her credibility is nil.

  18. hypatiasdaughter says

    “Renee Hendricks is tweeting under rapesurvivorhere?”
    Survivor? She refers to herself as a rape survivor? Reneev, Renee how p.c. of you to consider yourself a survivor. Survivors are people who have gone through a life changing event that requires them to to rebuild their lives, like tornado victims who have lost their homes.
    Come, come, Renee. According to yourself and the gang you hang out with, you were the victim of a crime, like purse snatching, that apparently caused you some temporary inconvenience but left no lasting impact on your life. Let us not be over-dramatic here!

    /sarcasm/

  19. sheila says

    If you put Renee Hendricks in a work of fiction, it would be quite hard to make her believable, wouldn’t it?

  20. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    There is nothing hendricks does better than the desperately beg for approval from bigots. She’s like the queen of tap-dancers. She will say ANYTHING if it gets her headpats from bigots. If she were less of a horrible waste of skin, I’d wish she’d get a life, a hobby, or something to busy her very clearly open schedule. But, as she is, i think her obviously empty life full of hate and desperate is exactly what she deserves.

  21. says

    Ehm, I’m really uncomfortable about putting her story into question or attributing her nastiness to it.
    Please, don’t do that.
    The fact that she uses the fact that she’s a rape survivor in order to shame and silence other victims doesn’t mean weR’e free to go after it.
    Let’s just concentrate on how she’s plain and simple an asshole

  22. ischemgeek says

    What Giliell said. Us rape survivors are stigmatized enough without people trying to equate “rape survivor” and “hateful system-justifying asshat.”

    Don’t do that.

  23. says

    To add to what Giliell and ischemgeek have said, there are three people quoted in this post. I’m pretty sure the commonality is not that they’re rape survivors.

  24. says

    If Renee thinks bulling and shaming assault, harassment and rape victims makes her strong instead of repugnant, she’s twisted as a corkscrew.

    Truth. Stephanie, I’m with EEB: I appreciate (and am frankly super impressed by!) your, Jason’s, Ophelia’s, Greta’s, Rebecca’s, and all the other bullies’ bravery in continuing to blog and speak up in the face of the relentless hate.

  25. Sercee says

    I’m one of the lucky ones who has never been assaulted (well, someone tried once and he crawled away from the attempt…) but I know many who have, and likely far more than I realize. It takes almost no imagination to recognize that even a moment on those shoes is a moment too long, and it continually amazes me that so many people like Miss Hendricks have so little empathy that they think they can speak to or about anyone that way. You’re a survivor and an inspiration, and your writing is more than a little educational… and honestly I wonder if that makes her jealous…

  26. No Light says

    The fact that she’s teaching her noxious views to her kids is what saddens me. I can’t remember which of PZ’s posts she mentioned about her son reading something like AVfM (my memory is fucked up), but this genuinely upset me:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/12/one-individual-has-already-been-identified/#comment-376457

    How is that genuinely not every bit as abusive as the stunts. pulled on kids in closed ultra-orthodox Jewish communities (“The goyim hate you, they’d kill you in a second. Only frum *Jews are safe!”) or on children at places like the one shown in ‘Jesus Camp’ (“Non-Christians are out there killing little babies. Those babies would have been your friends. You need to stop sinning and save America”)?

    Horrible.

    *Frum – visibly observant Jew, who keeps each of the 613 mitzvot/commandments.

  27. Nils Pihl says

    Rape is never the victim’s fault, but I am uncomfortable with the idea that we can’t suggest that someone who suffers from what SOMEONE ELSE might perceive as unhealthy levels of fear should get counseling. I understand that these people had no well-meaning intent – but I feel, perhaps unjustly, that you would have rejected a well-meaning suggestion to seek professional help to deal with your possible fear, as well.

    I understand that rape is a real threat to you, a threat that you can’t protect yourself from while living a full life.

    I understand that you have come away from the experience changed. Not better, not worse. Just different. I understand that you want that different person to be accepted and heard.

    I was subjected to an armed mugging in a position of weakness. I was absolutely alone, and incapacitated with a broken arm in a cast. I had no chance to defend myself, surrounded by two persons who were both considerably larger than me – with drawn knives.

    I initially felt a lot of shame for what had happened. I felt that I was being judged by my employer, my friends, etc for not having be able to defend myself. Why didn’t I just run away? Why was I walking alone? Why didn’t I fight back? Why haven’t I called the police yet?

    Ever since the mugging I have been more afraid to walk on my own. I hate that, and I try to do what I can to reclaim my sense of security – even though I have been in danger, and physically abused by strangers downtown, again since.

    Being afraid really hurts, and I refuse to settle with fear. In the last 4 years, I have been violently attacked by a group of people twice. The second time I was in a country where the police LITERALLY ignored me while the crime was going on. The police that I ran up to WHILE I WAS STILL BEING ASSAULTED walked away, not caring about what happens to a white person (I live in China). (Also, I am not trying to argue that I am discriminated against or anything, just saying that it made me feel even more unsafe where I live – I experienced that the police will not help when I am in trouble)

    The first time I was mugged I was mugged by two black men. This was in Sweden, and we don’t have nearly as many black people in our society as you do in the States. I am ASHAMED to admit that since that incident, I feel less safe when I encounter a black person at night. It is an irrational fear stemming from a part of my brain that I am struggling to control.

    I don’t want to be afraid. I don’t want to have prejudice against black people. Both those things make my life less beautiful.

    Being afraid of having a mixed drink must be horrible. Absolutely horrible. I hope you can overcome it one day.

    I also hope that you don’t take any of this as victim shaming. I am not trying to say that anything that has happened is your fault. I am trying (my best) to empathize with your situation. What happened to you was horrible, and I am very sad that the event is still hurting in you in the form of fear.

    I also hope that you don’t think this is a “what about the menz” argument. It isn’t. I am just sharing my experience of assault as a human being, and dealing with fear afterwards. My gender had nothing to do with what happened to me – because it was not my fault that I was attacked. Nor is it a “what about the white peoplez” argument. I just happen to be white and I, unlikely as it seems, might have an unusual window into what it might feel like to be disregarded by society.

    Living in China has taught me a lot about privilege.

  28. says

    Nils, I am absolutely not rejecting the idea of counseling. The U.S. health care system, however, would have made it very difficult and expensive to get at the time. I wish you much luck finding a helpful counselor of some sort, if you feel you can overcome your shame. And I hope you can. The irrationalities that come from being victimized are not your fault.

    Also, my current position on allowing people to mix my drinks is really not that unusual among women. It’s not being afraid, but simply being careful, which is constantly drummed into our heads even when we haven’t been victimized.

  29. mandrellian says

    Fuck. The interior of Renee Hendricks’ head must be a very ugly place. You could almost pity her if she wasn’t such a toxic, hateful piece of shit.

    And this woman has children? I hope to fuck they never experience any violence or abuse if “shut the fuck up and get over it” is the response they can expect from their mother (and, by the way, I’m sure it isn’t – Renee seems like the kind of person who reserves her open contempt and loathing for Internet People, because they don’t actually exist; they’re more like non-player characters in a computer game, designed to provide background or further the protagonist’s story even at their own expense).

  30. says

    Renee certainly has something going on there, some sort of addiction to being hated, the desperation for attention cries out with every @szvan. Both her and John Welch seem intent on disproving the greater internet fuckwad theory.

    Thanks for the thankless task of displaying the arseholery you get exposed to while knowing it will be dismissed as just ‘disagreement’ …

  31. says

    Ahhh, Renee is sporting that venerable rugged individualism/Puritan work ethic/Just World bullshit. I found all of that, after I was assaulted, to be something in the nature of a magic charm.

    If I would just say the right things, then society would help protect me instead of ignoring me and the damage done to me. If I just learn to do the right rituals, then this won’t happen again.

    If I’m just a good enough girl, then my rape wouldn’t have happened.

    In some ways, that sort of defense is an attempt to have personal agency in a situation where it has been stripped from you. Real bravery, however, is realizing that the previous has no effect on whether or not you are raped given that the rapist is determined and/or close enough to you to take advantage of your trust, and that society, barring serious change, will always blame you for it, no matter how exemplary you try to be.

  32. Nils Pihl says

    @Stephanie, thank you for your kind and thoughtful reply.

    As a transhumanist, though, I can’t help but wonder if life wouldn’t be better if we didn’t have to be so darn careful all the time. I wish you didn’t live in a society where there are such pressures on you, such tangible risks for you, and such unfair shaming.

  33. freemage says

    Nils: One thing to keep in mind is that the suggestion to get therapy is a fairly personal one, best made by an actual comrade–not by someone over the internet, especially unasked. Sometimes therapy is the correct and viable course of action; sometimes it’s only one of those, and sometimes it might be neither, especially if your choices of therapist are limited (I’ve seen cases where a bad therapist made problems worse, much like a bad surgeon can exacerbate someone’s medical issues).

  34. Nils Pihl says

    @37

    “In some ways, that sort of defense is an attempt to have personal agency in a situation where it has been stripped from you. Real bravery, however, is realizing that the previous has no effect on whether or not you are raped given that the rapist is determined and/or close enough to you to take advantage of your trust, and that society, barring serious change, will always blame you for it, no matter how exemplary you try to be.”

    This reminds me of something that actually helped me overcome of my privilege-induced rape culture blindness.

    Early on when I was subjected to arguments like this, I was outraged – it is simply not true that you can’t avoid rape. Of course you can! You can never leave the house, not make friends who might find you sexually attractive, bla bla bla. I felt that the argument was so intellectually dishonest that it just ANGERED me.

    It wasn’t until someone pointed out that I was lacking EMPATHY that it really sunk in. You shouldn’t HAVE to avoid rape. It’s not about if you can or if you can’t. Rape is not your fault – even if it could have been avoided – because you shouldn’t HAVE to avoid it. You SHOULD be able to walk naked through a bar and have no one hurt you. The world SHOULD be better than it is and we SHOULD do something about that.

    fwiw, maybe this approach could be more effective speaking to privileged men? Instead of saying “it’s not the clothes’ fault”, maybe we should help break their blindness by appealing to their empathy? Why should I have to care about what I wear? Do you want to live in a society that excuses this kind of behavior?

  35. Nils Pihl says

    @39, I totally agree with you – but I also think some comrades might be afraid of suggesting it. Maybe I’m wrong.

    For someone on the internet to tell you in a hostile way that you need therapy is not helpful. If it is hostile, it is abusive and unacceptable. If it is well-meaning, it might still not be a good idea – I just want to make sure that we don’t pain a picture where no one could ever suggest that a person that has experienced hardship might benefit from professional help.

    I think that is ESPECIALLY important for us atheists, that might not have anything equivalent to churches to lean on for moral support.

    I guess that’s one of the good things with Atheism+?

  36. Nils Pihl says

    “Renee Hendricks is clearly a very damaged individual”

    I wish we were collectively better than stooping to their level. You don’t know that she is damaged. You don’t know her. And if she is, where is your empathy?

    She might be saying stupid things, but let us not assassinate her character.

  37. says

    Nils
    If being raped after somebody spiked your drink is such an absurd level of fear, why did I get it drilled into my head in college by the college administration, the people responsible for my safety that I must not accept a drink from anybody I didn’t know really well and that I must not leave any drink unguarded?
    Also, although intent isn’t magic, it’s not nothing. There’s a difference between somebody who actually cares for you and who wants you to have a good life you can enjoy suggesting counselling to you and somebody who just wants you to shut the fuck up and uses the “get counselling” as a way to shame somebody and take away their credibility.

    I’m sorry you were mugged and I hope you can find a good counsellor. Check out “Near Earth Object” here on Ftb; Paul Fidlgo has a very good post on this that might interest you.

  38. Nils Pihl says

    Giliell, I didn’t say it was absurd. Drinks getting spiked happens a lot in your country. Being afraid of that is very reasonable – but also unfortunate. Being afraid of being mugged is also reasonable – but unfortunate.

    And it seems to me we agree about the intent thing? Or am I missing something?

    Thank you for your well-wishes.

  39. Martha says

    There are times when I hope that Hendricks won’t have to learn the hard way just how wrong she is about the world. And, then, there are times when she stoops even lower than usual and I find myself not caring one way or the other. Renee, until you grow up, would you please crawl back under the slimy rock from which you came? Check in with us again in five years and we’ll let you know whether you’ve become a decent human being yet. I honestly hope you will.

    Stephanie, thanks for writing even when you know what’s coming next.

  40. Suido says

    Boggles. The mind boggles. As Sheila said in #25, I doubt I’d find a fictional character like her believable, which is just further indictment of the systemic denial of rape culture.

  41. sambarge says

    You know, when she was attacking Greta about her shoes, Hendricks mentioned her partner was recently diagnosed with cancer.

    Is it possible that she’s in the midst of some sort of breakdown? I mean, her vitriol is disproportionate to any possible influence Greta or Stephanie can have in her life. Why whould she even be driven to comment so passionately on a thread so wholly unrelated to her if she wasn’t, you know, emotionally disturbed?

    Or, is she always like this?

  42. Laurence says

    Unfortunately I wish it surprised me that people acted like that, but I am no longer surprised when people say things like that.

  43. says

    Nils
    No, we don’t have problems with spiked drinks in Germany. We have problems with spiked drinks in whatever country where people go out to have drinks. Actually additional drugs aren’t the worst offender. The most common thing is alcohol itself: Add a bit extra (especially to mixed drinks where you don’t taste it), stand another round.
    Amanda Marcotte just wrote this excellent article on the subject.
    While a drug immediately takes away the “oh, it was a misunderstanding” excuse, two more drinks with an extra shot each will allow the “hey, not my fault if she regrets it in the morning” bullshit.
    And please don’t think that Sweden doesn’t have a problem there. Amnesty International pointed out that in the Swedish culture of equal rights yadda yadda Swedish women have an extra hard time being believed if a nice Swedish guy raped them on a date rape.

  44. Nils Pihl says

    I didn’t mean to imply it was only a German problem. I meant to say I am sorry it is a problem in Germany as well.

    And spiked drinks is not a problem everywhere you go – nor is alcohol. It is a problem in certain alcohol cultures.

  45. says

    *headbonks Stephanie*

    That was rather unpleasant reading. I’m sorry these feather-wits are giving you (among others) all this… this. I don’t know if I even have words to describe just how shitty, vile, and sociopathic* these people** are.

    * Is that a word? It should be a word.
    ** I use the term very loosely.

  46. Nils Pihl says

    Also, Giliell, the Amnesty Report is somewhat flawed and misleading, as many Swedish feminists, social workers and sociologists have pointed out.

    (Please note that I am not dismissing the entire report.)

    The reason more rapes are reported in Sweden now is mostly because of our very successful efforts with making sure the crime is reported. Swedish women aren’t raped more now than before, we are giving them the support to report it.

    You can argue that convictions are too low in Sweden, but we have the second highest conviction rate per capita. There is a lag between our increased reports and our conviction rates, sure, but we are good at putting rapists behind bars. And we strive to be better.

    Sweden does have a rape problem – and we have a human trafficking problem – but to point to Sweden as some dark abyss of rape apologia and male privilege is misleading.

    Let’s hope that the report rate in Sweden keeps rising – it is a healthy sign – and let us have some faith that one of the leaders in social justice for women and children will catch up with their conviction rates.

  47. mildlymagnificent says

    I reckon I know where she’s coming from. I knew a woman 10+ years ago who’d got out of an abusive marriage. We dealt mainly by phone but I met her a couple of times at conferences. When she discovered my first marriage had been similarly afflicted she thought she’d found a kindred spirit.

    The “What doesn’t kill me makes me strong” sort of kindred spirit. That’s only true for the people it’s true for. I didn’t argue or even disagree with her because she was soooo much stronger for her bad experiences that she was bad-tempered, dismissive and easily aggravated even at the best of times. Most people disliked her intensely even though her job was as the liaison between all of us independent operators and the head office.

    I can quite believe that RH, and anyone else like her, is both a rape survivor and desperately anxious to shout down any others who talk about the consequences of rape. If they didn’t, they might have to admit that the experience didn’t make them quite as strong as they like to pretend.

  48. says

    Nils

    Sweden does have a rape problem – and we have a human trafficking problem – but to point to Sweden as some dark abyss of rape apologia and male privilege is misleading.

    Who said so?
    Sweden, like every other fucking country on the face of planet earth, has a problem with rape and rape culture. Look at the Vatican, women don’t even have to feature in it.
    Scandinavian countries are a bit ahead in those regards, but really, we’re meassuring against a very low baseline.

    Yes, Sweden takes good care of reporting those numbers.
    That’s good.
    But that doesn’t mean that this alcohol related rape problem is any better.
    Here’s from an article by the BBC:

    “There might also be some increase in actual crime because of societal changes. Due to the internet, for example, it’s much easier these days to meet somebody, just the same evening if you want to. Also, alcohol consumption has increased quite a lot during this period.

    “But the major explanation is partly that people go to the police more often, but also the fact that in 2005 there has been reform in the sex crime legislation, which made the legal definition of rape much wider than before.”

    The change in law meant that cases where the victim was asleep or intoxicated are now included in the figures. Previously they’d been recorded as another category of crime.

    Emphasis by me. That doesn’t make Sweden the rape-capital of the world. It’s not better anywhere else, but to handwave it away with “drinking culture” is not helpful. It implies that there’s something about how and where those women drink that makes them vulnerable.

    And here’s from the amnesty report on rape in Nordic countries:

    2.3.4.1 Reasons for (not) reporting
    The reasons why a victim chooses not to report a rape are complex, with victims citing
    multiple reasons. Numerous reasons were given by victims who contacted the Centre for
    Victims of Sexual Assault in Copenhagen in 2006. The most common explanations were
    that the woman blamed herself for the rape, or was, perhaps due to the influence of alcohol
    etc., uncertain about what happened
    and did not feel she could explain it to the police.

    And spiked drinks is not a problem everywhere you go – nor is alcohol. It is a problem in certain alcohol cultures.

    I’d really like to see some evidence for that, because as far as I see it, wherever I go where they serve drinks, if something bad should happen to me afterwards I’ll get quite an amount of blame for having been drunk while the perpetrator gets quite an amount of excuse to hide behind.

  49. ischemgeek says

    Also, sambarge: Mentally ill =/= asshole. People with mental illnesses, like rape victims, have more than enough stigmatization on their plates without us adding to it.

    She can be an asshole regardless of whether or not she’s mentally ill. It is not our place to speculate on her mental health, for one, and for two, putting forward mental health as an explanation for her behavior is othering and stigmatizing to mentally ill people. Don’t do that – they have a hard enough time getting the help and services they need in face of the ableism our society throws at them without us trying to equate mentally ill and asshole.

  50. sambarge says

    I wasn’t suggesting that asshole =/= mentally ill. I was saying that Hendricks seems to lack control of her impulse to be an asshole and is going through a stressful time at home. Sometimes, stress does cause people to behave like assholes (or other extremes of behaviour), even when they aren’t mentally ill.

    And I used the term ‘emotionally disturbed’ on purpose. I’m not saying Hendricks might be mentally ill (ie. have an actual mental illness) but rather that she was lashing out irrationally due to the stresses in her life. I’ve been informed though that this behviour is “normal” for her so I see now that she is an asshole regardless of the stress she may personally be experiencing.

    I was not saying “ooo, she so craaaaazy” for shits and giggles. And, for the record, I know that “asshole” and “mental illness” are neither positively nor negatively correlated. They occur independently of each other.

    If you thought I meant differently, I’m sorry. That cetainly was not my intent.

  51. says

    Y’know, for someone who has such contempt for you, and considers you so devoid of anything worthwhile to say, this Renee Hendricks person sure does seem to spend a lot of time and effort hanging on your every word and pouncing on whatever you say as quick as she possibly can. I know this sort of cyberstalking is no laughing matter for you, but it seems — at times at least — like a very perverse and unhinged sort of tribute to you as well, to note that some people are so desperate to attack you wnenever they can, while at the same time being equally desperate to pretend you’re not significant enough to attack.

    As for Why Renee acts the way she does, the most charitable guess I can offer is that perhaps she was raped herself, and is now treating other rape victims — and all other women who complain of any sort of mistreatment — the way she was treated when she was a victim. The sad truth is, this sort of behavior is very often learned and passed on.

    There, John Welch decided to add his two cents…

    Ah yes, John Welch…the self-important self-proclaimed “tech geek” who takes every opportunity he can to pretend his being a “tech geek” makes him The Smartest Guy In The Room, and turns out to be an amazingly immature hot-headed asshole. Have you seen the copyright notice on his own blog? What should be just a piece of standard legalese ends up sounding like a little kid losing his temper and screaming outrageous threats of horror-movie violence that everyone knows he’ll never be able to carry out. Welch’s pointless hot-headedness got him in serious trouble with Greg Laden, so he had to shut up, make nice, and go back to more friendly territory, where he’s probably compensating for that humiliation by trashing less dangerous-looking targets. So I guess he and Renee were kinda made for each other.

  52. Nils Pihl says

    “I’d really like to see some evidence for that, because as far as I see it, wherever I go where they serve drinks, if something bad should happen to me afterwards I’ll get quite an amount of blame for having been drunk while the perpetrator gets quite an amount of excuse to hide behind.”

    Not all cultures are alcohol cultures. Not all cultures allow for men to buy women drinks, let alone filling em up. How about you source your positive claim instead? There is probably rape in all cultures, but to say that SPIKED DRINKS is a problem wherever you go is a nice piece of white western privilege. Check your privilege.

  53. Nils Pihl says

    My skype name is “nipibo” if you want to discuss this with me, Giliell.

    Sorry for harshing the comments, Stephanie.

  54. ildi says

    I don’t use twitter, so this may be more complicated than I realize, but why don’t you just block Renee rather than continue to let her drip poison in your ear?

  55. says

    Oh, I have Renee blocked on Twitter. Unfortunately, Twitter doesn’t always remember that consistently for me. So, yesterday morning, I woke up to that in my mentions. Additionally, what gets said about me by the slimepitters doesn’t stay there. The slanderous distortions dreamt up there get spread wherever my name is mentioned or where the subject of feminism in the movement comes up. This is more than idle smack talk. I don’t get to ignore it.

  56. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Hendricks’ partner was diagnosed with cancer? She better not buy any shoes this year.

    She better not ask for donations, either. After all, she’d then have to tell everyone everything she does with the money so as not to be huge hypocrite, right?

  57. says

    Nils
    I really appreciate that you’re willing to carry this on somewhere else, but right now I don’t have the time or nerves for Skype chats.

    +++
    Oh, look, Reap Paden, another person who thinks that FtB is soooo totally of no importance whatsoever that he just can’t take that this is a playground he isn’t allowed on.

  58. Who Cares says

    Next time please a trigger warning.
    I don’t know if this Renee reads the comments here but it god damn doesn’t matter if someone has been drinking or not. Actually it does seeing that being drunk (IMNSHO) would prevent consent on part of the drunken party automatically.
    And why not tackle it from yet another side? The one where you go to a sleep over at someone who you think is an adult friend (the uncle type) and you wake up because your penis is being sucked on. Oh and I did take that advice of not leaving the house after that. Doesn’t work, it just ruined 15 years or so of my life. At least I managed to lose the paranoia that came with that over the last few years.
    Being to idiotic to take care of yourself? Lets see fear, shock, (in Stephanies case physical trauma,) peer pressure, social stigma and psychological damage. That is a VERY powerful coctail of negative effects. How powerful? A common (1/3 of all rape victims) reaction by the victim is to develop PTSD. Oh yeah I see that this isn’t such a bad experience if you only have a chance to develop a disorder normally associated with soldiers who’ve been through hell on a battlefield, note the sarcasm tags around this sentence. Just take care of yourself and poof it’ll be gone (and with it a multi million/billion? dollar industry of PTSD treatment).

  59. Anthony K says

    Reap’s “Truth”?

    He’s the reason we took the lead out of gasoline.

    Get a life, asshead.

  60. jackiepaper says

    Reap, much like new agey types, seems to think he can have his own special version of truth, even if it is such a special, twisted version of the truth that it no longer resembles anything connected to reality. He can’t.

    Maybe Reap is a liar or it may simply be that he is as delusional as any true believer. Either way, he’s dull, vitriolic and not worth giving credence to. He has more in common with Jenny McCarthy and Pat Robertson than with anyone reasonable.

  61. says

    @ Nils Pihl

    I debated whether or not to respond, and eventually decided I should. I think I understand what you’re trying to say; I know it’s coming from a well-meaning, compassionate place. Because I believe you care about the impact of your words, I wanted to explain how they might make some people feel, how they made me feel when I read them.

    I have PTSD. I don’t know why there are days when I can go out by myself, get on a bus, spend the day shopping, whatever, and then there are days when I can’t leave my bedroom, even surrounded by people I love. I can be fine one minute and then suddenly have a panic attack or burst into tears (though I’ve gotten better at identifying and avoiding triggers). I have difficulty being alone with men, or being in enclosed spaces with them (Rebecca Watson’s “elevator guy” might very well have given me a panic attack, on a bad day). These are my issues, and beyond basic human decency, I don’t expect the rest of the world to cater to my needs; I’ve taken the responsibility of integrating my condition into my life and learning to live with it. I’m in therapy, attend DBT groups, read books, am part of a survivor’s network, etc., and I’m trying to get better.

    For a long time, I was ashamed of the PTSD and fought it. I hated the fact that friends of mine who had been raped seemed to be OK while I was still having panic attacks. Friends and family said things like, “Why are you letting this affect you so much?” and “You should be over it by now” (said by a friend who had also been raped, when I was asking her for advice), and “You’re giving the rapist too much power and still letting him control your life.” There was a lot of “Get over it.” And it made the PTSD a lot worse. Shame triggered anxiety which kicked up the panic attacks. I was so afraid of having a panic attack and not being able to leave the house that I would trigger a panic attack and not be able to leave! Not to mention I already struggled with chronic depression, so the jacked up shame made the depression worse (which made the shame worse, which made the depression worse and triggered panic attacks, so more shame: a vicious, vicious cycle). I had to stop listening to what people were saying (even to the point of cutting people out of my life who were shaming me). I had to accept what was, that I had PTSD, and learn to live with it rather than hate it and constantly fight it. Only then was I able to start living something approaching a functional life. That doesn’t mean I stopped therapy or working on my issues, I just learned that I can’t beat myself up for a perfectly natural reaction that is totally out of my hands.

    Also, it can easily become victim blaming. Several people (including my father!) told me that I was raped/could be raped in the future because I act(ed) “like a victim”. In fact, after I was raped, I was so ashamed and terrified that my father would find out, because I had been walking hunched over, my bag clutched tightly to me (mostly because it was cold and I was trying to smoke), when Dad taught me to walk with long, confident strides, swinging my arms, head up, because no rapist or mugger would ever attack a woman walking like that.

    I know that you didn’t intend to shame Stephanie, me, or other victims. I’ve appriciated your comments in this post, especially your willingness to listen to other perspectives (really the only reason I’m bothering to respond to you, because you’ve shown an admirable openness during the discussion), and you’re obviously a caring, compassionate person. However, as previously stated, intent isn’t magic. Maybe other people wouldn’t be bothered by what was said, and I know that I might be oversensitive, but I thought I should let you know how your comment made me feel. Thanks for reading.

  62. No Light says

    EEB – Thanks for sharing that, I know it took a lot of guts. Hugs to you.

    Nils – WRT “Sweden’s rape problem”, it has one. In fact, any country that has rape, by definition, has a rape problem. Any country that has unconvicted rapists? They have a rape problem. Any country with citizens that victim-blame
    , fidget, and talk about the poor rapist’s reputation and “This one time I guy I know was falsely accused. and…”? They have a rape problem.

    So that’s all of them. Even Sweden.

  63. Nils Pihl says

    No Light – which is why I said “Sweden does have a rape problem”.

    Just so you know, what you just did right now makes me feel very unwelcome here. You didn’t bother to read what I wrote, you didn’t respond to me based on what I said and you make me feel as if though you tacitly include me in a group of rape apologists I have nothing to do with.

    EEB, thanks for sharing. I’m glad you’re strong enough to talk about your feelings in a public forum.

  64. No Light says

    Nils – I’ll post exactly what you said and fix it for you, ok?

    Sweden does have a rape problem – and we have a human trafficking problem – but to point to Sweden as some dark abyss of rape apologia and male privilege is misleading

    It’s the ‘but’ thing.* The thing is, although I want to believe you’re different than every other white, western man, I can’t. First, because I haven’t encountered a unicorn man devoid of all privileged notions/behaviours. Second, because I’ve been back on FTB for only a couple of days, and ventured into only four ‘safe’ posts, two here, two of Ophelia’s,

    In the two posts here you’ve displayed a bit of a ‘but’ problem. You’ve said words to the effect of:

    “I’m not racist, but some black guys attacked me and…”

    “Accusing women of lying about rape is horrible, but I know this girl who totally did that and really hurt a man”

    And a direct quote:

    “Rape is never the victim’s fault, but…”

    Can you see how that’s problematic? The ‘but’ negates everything that goes before it. Like when people say “I’m pro-choice, but some people treat abortion frivolously”, or “I’m not anti-immigration, but why can’t they stay where they belong?”

    You didn’t need the story about the Chinese girl in a conversation about rape. To empathise with Stephanie’s fear you only had to say “I was attacked and it was traumatic. When I see someone who resembles my attackers I still feel frightened”, and “Rape is never the victim’s fault” is all that needs to be said.

    As someone multiply disprivileged I have to spend my entire life hearing people justify their ableism, homophobia, sexism, binarism/gender essentialism, classism and anti-welfare sentiment and rape/domestic abuse apologia with statements that appear supportive and privilege-aware, that are then followed by that stinging slap in the face ‘but’. That hurts me.

    That’s why I’ve avoided my only outlet for socialising, entertainment and information (the internet) for two weeks, because the hatred and intolerance, overt and covert, was making my mind as crippled as my body. The surge of “People with ASDs are crazy and dangerous” sentiment following Sandy Hook was the final straw.

    That’s why “Sweden has a rape problem, but…” is tantamount to saying “We don’t really have a problem”.

    If that hurts you, then perhaps you should examine why.

    *I’m sure it was Stephanie that wrote about ‘But’. It may have been Ophelia or Greta, but searching that word is almost impossible, especially as I can’t remember the exact topic.

  65. Nils Pihl says

    No Light,

    I don’t want to argue with you. I understand that I hurt you, and that you have been hurt before, and I am sorry for that. Please don’t think less of me. I appreciate that you have taken this much time to reply to me even though you were hurt.

    but (trigger warning)

    I don’t think a but negates everything that goes before it. I love Chinese food, but as a vegetarian I don’t enjoy certain dishes.

    I also don’t think you are fairly paraphrasing what I said.

    Sweden has a rape problem, but Giliell said that women in Sweden have it EXTRA hard. I don’t think that is fair.

    I am not a racist. When I see someone who resembles my attackers I still feel frightened. I am working on it. I would be racist if I tried to justify my occasional fear of black people. I am not. I willingly admit that it is irrational and something that I must continue to work on.

    The reason I brought up the anecdote of the Chinese girl was to answer a question that was asked – where does the fear come from. I am not saying it is rational – I am saying that’s where it comes from.

    You seem very invested in having a bad opinion of me, reading everything I say in the worst possible light. Maybe I deserve that, but I feel like we are just hurting each other now.

    I too have been exposed to sexual assault, several times, and I have never gotten any help for it. I too have been shamed for it. I too have been blamed for what happened, and been told that I should just get over it. And you know what? I was assaulted by women. It is not something I am ready to talk about with someone who is this invested in calling me privileged, but I have a lot of sympathy for Stephanie. I know more about what she is going through than she might know.

  66. noastronomer says

    Personally I see this as yet one more reason to dump Twitter more than anything else. You’re never going to persuade the Renee Hendricks of the world. Assuming that it’s not just trolling.

    @EEB I hope you can find the strength you need to live your life as you want.

    Mike.

  67. Sadie Heilemann says

    I’ve read the post and all the comments, and I must say that most of them were quite even-handed and understanding. For my own part, I waited 22 years to talk publicly about my own rape experience. The reasons may have been social fear, but I like to think it is because I can’t stand being pitied, because it implies the other person is looking down on me for having been a “victim.” That’s also the reason I call myself a “survivor” instead. I am of the “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” persuasion, but I recognize that people deal with personal physical attacks in different ways. Even before this happened to me, I learned the lesson of empathy and giving the other person the benefit of the doubt, even trolls, who I simply place in a unique “attention getter” compartment of my mind.

    I admit that, even though I am a fellow rape survivor, there is an aspect of your experience, Stephanie, I can’t personally identify with, and that is the possibility of the familiarity of the perpetrator. I suppose my experience was a “socially acceptable” version of rape, i.e., I was raped in the course of a home invasion/burglary by a stranger. It was a violent crime and, as such, I KNOW it wasn’t my fault. The slippery slope of acquaintance rape is altogether another animal, and it may be hard to escape judgment because everyone has a different idea of where the boundary of propriety and violation lies. I don’t envy anyone having to come to terms with that.

    The problem you identified in your other post of men imputing to women the inclination to lie about having been drunk to claim sexual assault sometimes occurs, but blowing it out of proportion does real damage to the credibility of real rape victims who are doing no such thing. It happens, but it is counterproductive to assume that is the truth before investigating all the facts. Pointing out actual cases of this can help differentiate their profiles from those of genuine victims, but there are those who operate with confirmation bias that makes a few incidents equal an epidemic. The internet makes that worse, so trolls are inevitable. I guess each person has to make the decision whether to tolerate, ignore or block the things that bother us.

    I decided to post this here, because of the reasonable tone of the comments (beyond some mudslinging back in Hendricks’ direction). Thanks for reading.

  68. firexflower says

    I know this may seem a bit silly, but I’ve heard plenty of people say, “Oh, I hate cats, I knew a feral cat/my cousin’s cat hated me/blah blah blah…” and it justifies there hatred for life. You experience a seriously horrifying event and everyone says, “Get over it.” I can’t put myself completely in your shoes, although I sympathize with you with my fear of walking alone and getting sexually assaulted… everyone told me to get over it.

    I can’t stand it. You’re right, they’re wrong. I’m so sorry people like this exist.

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