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…