Calling Rape What It Really Is

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In a recent entry, dizzybuzzkill wrote

When I watch 37 trailers to upcoming movies and don’t see a single one about a woman, I don’t immediately come up with “regurgitated” rhetoric that explains it, I feel it first. When I hear a CNN newscaster tell me about the sexual history of a rape victim, my heart beats fast and my tummy hurts.

My heart is still racing and my stomach is still churning with revulsion after reading an item on Broadsheet, Salon's blog for women, about

an online discussion forum called AutoAdmit that advertises itself as "the most prestigious college discussion board in the world." According to the Washington Post, this "prestigious" discussion board also included threatening, sexist, racist and homophobic comments -- including strings of online attacks against two female law students who found out from friends that AutoAdmit users, often writing anonymously, had posted messages that included photographs gleaned from social networking sites, comments about the students' physical appearances, slurs about their supposed sexual promiscuity, and rape threats.

Which is bad enough. But what really upset me was that the two women filing a lawsuit against AutoAdmit's users

named DOE I and DOE II [in the complaint] in an attempt to protect them from further harassment -- were subjected to statements like "Clearly she deserves to be raped so that her little fantasy world can be shattered by real life" and "I would like to hate-fuck [DOE I] but since people say she has herpes this might be a bad idea" (that second one was posted to a thread called "Which female YLS students would you sodomize?").

Hate-fuck.

Hate-fuck.

I've never heard the term before but I'm certainly familiar with the concept.

At least this is an acknowledgment of what rape really is. It's not overwhelming desire, it's not passionate attraction too strong to resist, it's not crossed signals or unclear communication.

It's hate-fucking. It's violence, it's cruelty, it's intended to terrorize, hurt, debase and humiliate women, and the men who engage in it like it for the ways it harms the women more than for the orgasms it provides the men.

I have to go throw up now.

4 Comments

This item was in this morning's news, concerning the abysmally low rate of convictions in rape cases in the UK. David Cameron has a point about including education about consent in sex education curricula. Unfortunately, it's the Tories staking out this territory.

Thanks for the link, Spike. Interesting item--I hope they succeed in teaching the concept of consent.

but certainly something like this muddies the issue. I looked up the term in the urban dictionary; most definitions are under the alternate form, "hate fuck," (no hyphen), and every definition defines it as what a man does to a woman he despises. One states that "hate fuck" is "just this side of rape or sexual assault." But it's not "just this side"--it IS sexual assault. There's been recent a court case where a judge ruled that a prostitute can't be raped; she's only been denied payment for services. There have been several where judges try to determine if consent is given at the start of a sexual act but withdrawn during it, if the guy keeps going, is it rape? But if sex starts out to seem normal and OK and turns into hate fucking, of course any self-respecting woman will say "stop," and of course a guy who sees sex as hate-fucking will keep going--that's part of the whole point, to make the woman wish it would stop.

I can only hope that the fact that this term is in the world will help prosecutors in rape cases demonstrate to juries what is really at stake.

Sorry to be revisiting and older posting and linking to an incredibly depressing article but this piece was in today's Observer. The writer, Alex Renton, makes some distracting and distorting generalizations about feminism and feminist theory and clearly the experiences of slum dwellers in Haiti can't be easily generalized to very different social contexts of sexual violence (the kinds of analyses about poverty and rape suggested in Renton's article might not help us explain the actions of the people on AutoAdmit or at Yale Law School, for example) but I think the arguments about poverty and the power relations among the desperately poor are illuminating, as is the observation about the dismissive and cavalier attitudes of the UN mission. The book he mentions by Joanna Bourke, Rape: A History from the 1860s to the Present, sounds like it could be important.

Hi Spike--thanks for this comment, and my apologies for taking so long to acknowledge it. I agree with your assessment of the ways Renton's argument is illuminating, and I have tried to order a copy of Bourke's book from my university library. Unfortunately I can't get a copy right now, because the library is in the process of buying it, but at least I should be able to get it next semester. She seems like a scholar I will be glad to know about; her other titles include "Fear: A Cultural History" (that one I ordered), "Dismembering the male : men's bodies, Britain and the Great War," and "An intimate history of killing : face-to-face killing in twentieth-century warfare," all of which are relevant to my work. Thanks for bringing her to my attention.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on November 10, 2007 12:17 PM.

Under the Banner of a Really Great Collage: the 47th Carnival of Feminists was the previous entry in this blog.

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