I hope you read the recent post on Republican efforts to preserve the ability to commit rape after someone who previously consented to sexual activity revokes that consent, even when the activity includes things not covered by the original consent, such as violent force.
Some people will wonder how and why someone like Amy Guy, who by all accounts I’ve read sounds a very strong and capable person, could possibly offer any form of sexual consent to someone like Jonathan Wayne Guy, who had a history of acting abusively towards Amy Guy. For many, that history will understandably justify the fear of something horrific that might lead Amy Guy to minimize her risk by consenting, and, hopefully, by consenting help shape exactly what happens next. The hope is that, despite having sex only out of fear, exercising some agency can help make what happens next less traumatic than it might otherwise be.
But for others, the idea of less traumatic rapes and more traumatic rapes seems a non sequitur. For many it is difficult to understand that rapes can be equally morally reprehensible without having the exact same consequences. Part of this is a naive form of consequentialism, but part of this is a misunderstanding of rape, of how it happens, of when it happens, and especially of the effects of rape when it is repeated over time.
This failure of understanding isn’t new. Three years ago, in a Pharyngula thread titled, “Why, Why, Why?” I attempted to address the same topic. On the occasion of Amy Guy’s activism, I thought it was time to bring it out again. If you are one who struggles to understand the perspective of Amy Guy, perhaps this will help.
Anthony had written of Richard Dawkins, whose then-latest tweet had motivated the thread,
At this point, it seems like he simply delights in fucking with rape survivors.
Caine, writing as Inaji at the time, responded,
You could be right. Myself, I think it’s more a case of genuine belief, that a majority of rape really isn’t all that bad, it’s just sex, y’know. He’s far from the only person to believe that, and insist on that belief being correct.
This is when I stepped in, knowing that it might seem like I was validating Dawkins and others’ ignorance:
I have to, horrifyingly, agree with this:
a majority of rape really isn’t all that bad, it’s just sex, y’know.
Why isn’t it that bad? Because having been raped repeatedly over time, I can tell you that the lifetime damage done to me probably wasn’t that much worse after the 14th rape than after the 13, or after the 28th than after the 27th.
A huge number of people are raped in the context of abusive relationships – private/family relationships, relationships of prisoner and guard, relationships between someone and a caretaker, whatever. In those contexts, repetition of the rape is common. I doubt I’m the only one who through a combination of resignation and detachment managed to get up the morning after a rape and go to work like nothing unusual had happened.
Hell, nothing unusual had happened – it was just another rape that happened on at least a weekly basis.
Some rapes are traumatic. Some rapes are horrible. Some rapes are life changing.
And some rapes are tuesday.
Caine properly corrected something important about the phrase “just sex” which I had carelessly let stand, then added more detail that, I think, helps all of us understand what it might possibly mean to say that some rapes are less horrific than others in the moment, or have less of an ongoing effect on a particular survivor than another rape:
Yes. That doesn’t mean those rapes are just sex or anything, but a person can get resigned and accustomed to rape on a regular basis. It’s how you survive.
Six years of being raped weekly when I was a child. That’s where most of the roots of my PTSD come from. For those six years, it was Tuesday. Something to endure. A chore to get through. Then I could get out for a while, and play pretend that Tuesdays didn’t happen.
There have been times when I told my rapist that this time it was okay, that this time I consented. At best, however, this was a plea, “Please let this be Tuesday.”