In a recent post I described an antifeminist magazine columnist as a “porn apologist” for suggesting that women should be all gung-ho to sex up in porn drag to make their men happy in the sack. A commenter then used the term “fucking rape apologist” to describe this columnist. Which prompted yet another commenter to take exception to this seeming escalation in rhetoric, fearful that it further demeans “real” rape victims to lump all victims of coercive sex, regardless of the degree of violence, into the same category.
“Maybe” she says, “I just don’t want a bunch of women showing up to rape survivors’ meetings saying, ‘I wore lingerie and heels for my husband, even though deep down I really didn’t want to.’”
Certainly the English language, which is chock full-o many excellent words, can accommodate, for the amelioration of poetry or politics or pornography, differing degrees of abomination in describing the sexual oppression of women. That’s because the English language is the language of men, a proud culture of domination that glorifies its lust for oppression with infinite variations. A woman can be violated, fucked, nailed, hit on (or just hit), ogled, degraded, fallen, debased, put on a pedestal, married, prostituted, impregnated, pronged, boinked, ravished, seduced, cajoled, beaten, videotaped, courted, sold, assaulted, wolf-whistled, harassed, enslaved, dominated and killed. O the pageantry.
On one end of the spectrum in this splendid tableau of violent misogyny is the Nigel who cajoles ‘consent’ with guilt and low-level duress (“come on, just a little longer, I’m almost there.”). On the other, the jewel in the crown of patriarchal dominion: physical assault under threat of injury or death, or what is popularly thought of as rape.
There are 578,843 different little hate crimes in between. I’ve written about a few of them. High heels, blow jobs, street harassment, feminist dudes, the normalization of porn culture. If you are a woman, you have experienced nearly all of them. If you are a straight woman, you have experienced nearly all of them a million times. When experienced incrementally, in small doses over the course of a lifetime, many women are Stockholm-syndromed into viewing these “lesser” violations as tolerable (or even desirable). Taken all at once, in the single violent outburst known as rape, it is a devastating, debilitating trauma.
But for the level of intensity, these are all points on the same continuum. What continuum is that, Twisty? Why, the continuum of rape culture, which is porn culture, which is male culture, which is the dominant culture. Duh, of course victims of violent assault have had a different experience than women who reluctantly pornulate themselves for their boyfriends. Rape survivors have been slammed with maximum hatred all at once in its most unambiguous form, whereas the lingerie girlfriend, ostensibly of her own volition, is merely putting on a cheap polyester teddy made in China. Different experience? Hell yeah. Different concept? Hell no.
It is of dire importance is to recognize that, within the profoundly misogynist climate of our social order, it is considered consistent with women’s essential nature that we are dudesex, and only dudesex. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this condition of oppression absolutely precludes the contingency of a woman’s genuine consent to anything. Therefore it does a disservice to all women if we reserve the concept of coerced sex for its most sensationally violent incarnation.
Get up offa that thing, girls, and see this sex class shit for what it is: a humanitarian crisis.