The Last Road

Living every day like it's the last… because one day, it will be.

The “Rape Switch” and Other Folly

Posted by Rystefn on June 5, 2009

So I’m tossing this out mostly from memory, I apologize if I mischaracterize anyone’s stance in this post.

Over the course of the last few days, there’s been a fair bit of discussion on the subject of rape. I guess in that way the Silence is the Enemy thing I referenced in the previous post is working. I’ve been pretty heavily involved, off and on, in a discussion that began with Greg Laden‘s forwarding the idea of a “rape switch.” If you’re interested, you can see that discussion here, here, and here.

The idea is a loose metaphor designed to illustrate that there are certain situations in which otherwise noncriminal types will become rapists. It’s not a particularly apt comparison, and there’s been no small amount of discussion, both about the phenomenon and the metaphor itself. None of that is terribly important to my point in this post, but if it sounds interesting to you, feel free to head over and join the discussion. It’s already spilled over to several blogs, and I’ve no reason to doubt that it will likely find its way to a few more.

No, the reason I’m posting is this line: “The switch being on does not mean that rape will happen. It simply means that the man (with the switch on) is now a rapist, whether he actually rapes or not…” You’ll find that in this post, about halfway through the fourth paragraph if you wonder whether or not I might be taking it out of context. I assure you, I’m not. In context, Mr. Laden is directly calling all soldiers in combat rapists. Regardless of whether or not they rape. Mine is the first comment to that post, and in it I point out that this is redefinition of the word “rapist” and isn’t the right way to make the point he’s trying to make.

Over the course of the discussion, I point out that he’s calling a lot of innocent people rapists, including myself, several times. A few other people also point out this problem, but he refused to back down, trying to brush it off as an unimportant and uninteresting semantic argument. Those of you who know me will be unsurprised that I persisted in bringing it up until I got a direct response. You might be surprised what the response was. I know I was. It most certainly wasn’t the apology that I had been asking for for two days. In his own words, “You are a rapist.” That’s not in general, by the way. It’s directed specifically at me. That’s from the comments here. In fairness to Greg, he did follow it with: “Rystefn, one of the many things you are not getting is that it is actually OK to be a rapist.”

Keep in mind, he is saying this without more than a slight indication that he thinks I might have possibly actually raped someone in the normal usage of the word. He did, however, classify as a rapist by two different definitions of his own and classify my actions with certain completely consenting adults as rape. As I pointed out to him at the time, he has managed to both directly offend me personally, but has also blanket-classified all soldiers in war as well a significant number of the BDSM community as rapists. While he was at it, he called that subsection… well, How about we just use his own words again?

I cannot imagine being sexualy[sic] aroused under those circumstances. I think someone who can or is classifies as a very different kind of person than we think of for any normal male walking around in regular society. Don’t you think? If not, get help now, please.

Now, again, lest we think I’m seeing malice where there’s only miscommunication, once again, after I pointed out that he had just roundly condemned much of the BDSM crowd, his response was to stand by it: “You seem to be saying that you area[sic] person aroused by the violent act of rape, and capable of doing it, and that you do in fact do it.”

Frankly, at this point, I’m not even sure how to respond to this anymore…


14 Responses to “The “Rape Switch” and Other Folly”

  1. This entire “rape switch” thing is bewildering to me. I don’t, and have never wanted any part in sex that isn’t like, 200% consensual, and entirely SENSUAL. The violent stuff doesn’t turn me on, or simulations of it. Talking dirty is one thing, but I will never be degrading.

    I don’t have sex with drunk girls, or girls who demonstrate any sort of vulnerabilities that may point to a possible history of abuse or trauma. I’m saying that rather than getting my dick wet because I COULD, I have on many, many, many occasions, regardless how ready and willing the female, I have taken a step back from that kind of intimacy and just gotten to the bottom of what that person is all about. That has always come first for me. A deep sense of trust and mutual affection is NECESSARY for me to carry through with the act.

    I’ve caught a lot of shit over the years for being such a nancy-boy, apparently, so it’s a little odd to find myself in the set of someone’s definition of “rapist”.

    My ex-wife was a rape victim, and an abuse victim before that. Though she was abusive and controlling and rabidly jealous, I never took advantage of a single opportunity—many of which were once-in-a-lifetime, “no-strings attached” opportunities—to indulge my animal nature at her expense, even when she had been unfaithful to ME. I did this, I believe, at least PARTLY out of principle and also in the interest of extending the same consideration to her as I would expect in return—even if she didn’t KNOW about it.

    But it was also simply about what I was CAPABLE of. I simply don’t want meaningless intercourse. I just don’t. I have always felt, and my observations suggest to me, that I am somehow DIFFERENT in this respect. But I’m not so sure.

    I’m like the most cynical romantic you can imagine. It’s pathetic.

  2. Greg Laden said

    Why do you think that the “rape switch” is “on” for all soldiers (or all combat soldiers)? That is a poor reading of the idea and what has been said about it. Do you have a purpose in making it appear that I’ve stated that all soldiers, or all combat soldiers, or whatever, are rapists? What is your point with doing that? You are obviously not simply writing a blog post here. You are trying to cause some kind of trouble. Maybe you just want more hits on your blog. Yea, that must be it.

  3. Rystefn said

    If I cared about the number of hits on my blog, I wouldn’t abandon it for weeks at a time. The project for which I started it ended like eight or nine months ago. The main reason it’s even still here at all is so people couldn’t accuse me of pretending it never happened. The reason I hesitated about posting that giant comment over here and just linking to it was because I didn’t want to have to listen to a bunch of accusations of trying to drive traffic over here. I guess it didn’t work.

  4. Greg Laden said

    Carlton: that is the whole point of the rape switch, and it is to me the main reason that I’ve not personally thrown the idea totally out.

    Rystefn: There a no valid arguments against a blogger being interested in traffic. There is no point in blogging if there is no interest in traffic.

    Imagine going up you Yo Yo Ma and yelling “Yo! You play that big fiddle thing of yours so damn well just so you’d get people to come and listen to it!!!!! How darw you!!!!”

    The only way to get traffic, of course, is to blog persistantly and to blog stuff people want to read (not I did not say “like” .. I said “read” .. although “liking” is the best way to do that) and link to.

    So, in my view, telling people that they are just doing it for the links is a trollish thing to do. Telling people what to blog and not blog is pretty trollish as well. Telling people that their blog does not meet the expectations a person had (like I get all the time “What? You call this a science blog?!?!?”) is trollish.

    So, anyway, I was only joking about the link thing.

  5. Rystefn said

    You’re half right. There is no valid argument against a blogger being interested in traffic. This is true. (There are valid arguments against the method, but honestly, the best way to make them is to not make them. One less comment.) However, there are plenty of perfectly valid reasons to blog without interest in traffic. Just as there re valid reasons to play an instrument without interest in an audience. The same reasons in fact. The same reasons people might pain without an interest in whether or not people see it. Or write without an interest in whether or not people read it. The same reasons you might keep a journal or diary without showing it to people also apply.

  6. Greg Laden said

    Technically I cannot argue against the “second half” of this argument, but I will point out that by definition a blog is visible to the entire world (except China and North Korea, of course). So, it is a little like playing the instrument “for your own pleasure” but doing it on a crowded street and then acting surprised that someone notices. Blogging is inherently exhibitionistic.

  7. Rystefn said

    Well, the “crowded” bit is debatable. The internet is like the rest of the world: some neighborhoods are more populous than others. It’s a bit more mutable about how crowded things are, of course, but really, it’s more like sitting on your front step playing an instrument, only if there were teleporters so word of mouth could draw a crowd of hundreds or even thousands in a matter of minutes no matter where you happen to live.

  8. DuWayne said

    Well, you better start blogging more damn it all!!! And you also better blog about things I like. And I really think you need to stop blogging about the whole fucking traffic thing or making excuses for why you still have this damned thing!!!

    And you smell funny too!!!

    And for fucks sake, quit fucking apologizing. Even if you are mischaracterizing others – at least let them point out that you have!!!

    (How does it feel to get your first actual troll?)

  9. Rystefn said

    You’re not the first. It’s never exactly been a bandwidth-killer over here, but there was a time this tiny blog was merely little and got four or five hundred hits a day, which is more than enough to guarantee at least one troll coming through.

  10. erin said

    haha I’m with DuWayne. Blog more.

  11. Rystefn said

    I could do that… or I could click back over to the other window and destroy giant robots with a machine gun the size of a bus.

  12. Kay said

    Do both!

    Just not at the same time.


  13. Kay said

    Oh… and I am a total blog hits whore. I love it when I get more hits today than yesterday etc. I don’t do too much in the way of promotion, I just don’t know how, but man I love it when the numbers are big.

    Big by my standareds are pretty teeny tiny by what you used to have. I am lucky to get 50 hits a day…

  14. Rystefn said

    Before this last week or so, which put me back into triple digits thanks to Greg Laden up there, I’ve been in single digits most days this year (notable exception – Sin of the Week” Lust drew a relatively hefty number of hits). It was an interesting change of pace to see people turning up from searching Rystefn and Last Road again… mostly people seem to find my blog from searching “Opposite of Regret.” I’m the first hit for that on and the second on Google.

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