One of the weirdest behaviors I’ve seen is when men who are raped use the horror of that event to justify their dismissive, high handed, and contemptuous treatment toward women. It’s not something I see pervasively by any means, but it has cropped up among a few of my (mostly former) friends, and it’s always made me very uncomfortable.
Rather than go into all that, though, I want to say why it hasn’t had that effect on me, and never will.
So. I was raped. It wasn’t perhaps the legal definition (I think sexual assault is as far as any legal authority would take it if I’d been inclined to pursue the matter), but it was definitely the moral defintion. I didn’t want the sexual encounter. My partner did, and forced the issue before I could really grasp what was happening.
I was horrified. A boundary I had set and they had acknowledged was blown right past. I felt revolted, used, and diminished. I was chastised with “why are you acting like this, what’s wrong with it?” language. In every sense of the word that could possibly be applied, I was raped, and my partner was a woman.
But I wish it to be known, here and now, that this does not in any way diminish the reality of the world we live in. Women are held back by official and unofficial systems throughout the world. They are represented as objects to be attained, goals to be reached, trophies to be acquired. I have never been represented that way. I have never been systematically held back because of a fundamental element of my biology. I’m a white male living in the United States – I rolled damn near perfect sixes during character creation, if you will. The very thing that was done to me was in every way equal to comparable sexual assaults women have to go through in its particulars, but that does not make my experience in toto the same as what women have to go through every day.
So I will never, ever mansplain. I will never tell a woman what she’s really saying is hurtful and derogatory to men. I don’t have the context that would let me do that. I will angrily dispute with anyone who tries to diminish the reality of what I went through, but I will never use that as permission to become a bigoted, snarly asshole.
When women talk about their rape experiences, their experiences with power imbalance, their perception of patriarchy, there is one thing I will do every time. I will listen. I will take what they are saying. I will think about it. I will consider if I have objections, and then I will consider WHY I have those objections.
And if in the end of all that, I still have an objection? I will be fucking polite when I bring it up, like any halfway decent goddamn man should.
Oh, and to a sickening many of the MRAs and Mansplainers out there, a final note. Do hope I never catch you at a convention after you’ve threatened to rape someone, or suggested it’s a worthy fate for a feminist you disagree with. I’ve seen the things said to the assorted Skepchicks out there, and as someone who has been raped, I am appalled that anyone of my gender would dare try to use that horror against someone.
I’m going to join the Backup’s Auxiliary project, I think.