TW: this post discusses rape and sexual violence. If you’re a survivor, please feel enormously free to step away and care for yourself. If you’re not a survivor, please try to read this one to the end.
This isn’t the post I wanted to write today, but yet again I found myself falling down the hellish rabbit hole of rape apologism on social media today.
I’m used to this. It’s just part of being a woman who talks about sexuality, sexual violence and feminism in a public space. I hate it, it makes me angry and sometimes it makes me cry. But I consider these issues too important to not speak up. Sometimes, though, the reality of talking about sexual violence on the internet straight up retraumatises me. Today was one of those days.
“You’re too ugly to rape”
This is a summary of what was said to me on social media today.
What upset me wasn’t the insult. Aside from the fact that this person doesn’t actually know what I look like, because I don’t show my face on Twitter, I don’t much care if random men think I’m hot or not.
What bothered me was the deeper implication, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard it.
Circa 2014, I inadvertantly started a civil war in my local kink scene by speaking out about sexual violence. (No regrets, would do again, the resident rapists all told on themselves, etc.) But at the time, I wrote something about how I’d experienced several sexual assaults of various kinds in my life. Someone wrote in response, “LOL, she thinks she’s hot enough to have been assaulted “multiple times.””
The idea that only “hot” people get sexually assaulted, or that speaking out about sexual assault is some kind of statement on one’s own attractiveness, is profoundly fucked up and shockingly common.
“I wish people wanted me so much they couldn’t control themselves”
This has been said to me a number of times by men over the years, including but not limited to former romantic partners.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the implication here is that sexual assault is a privilege. The implication is that being wanted enough to be sexually violated is something to be grateful for. Something to be flattered by.
Like, sure, one in four women (very conservative estimate) are sexually assaulted or raped in their lifetime… but they should just shut up and be grateful because some guy really really wishes someone he’s attracted to and wants to fuck anyway would throw him down and have their way with him.
Rape isn’t about attractiveness
How likely someone is to experience sexual violence isn’t even remotely correlated with their level of attractiveness (insofar as attractiveness is even a meaningful or measurable thing, given that it’s so absurdly subjective.)
Rapists don’t rape because they’re attracted to their victims. Physical attraction to another person isn’t a button that turns a decent human being into a monster. Everyone is capable of controlling what they do sexually, even when they’re super turned on and super attracted to someone. Most of us know this.
It’s not a fucking brag when I say I’ve been sexually assaulted multiple times in my life. It’s not a “hey look I’m so hot everyone wants to fuck me!” If I speak up about the worst and most deep-seated traumas of my life and your reaction is “lol she thinks she’s all that” then that shows something deeply and profoundly wrong in your understanding of how sexual violence works.
Rape isn’t even about sex
Rape is a crime of power. It’s not about the perpetrator being so overwhelmingly aroused, so overcome with lust, that they couldn’t help themselves. It’s not about sex at all.
To be raped isn’t to feel wanted and desired. It’s not some fucking ravishment fantasy out of a shitty romance novel where the hero you were totally gonna fuck anyway rips your bodice and has hot passionate sex with you. To be raped is to feel violated in the most fundamental way. To feel as though your body is no longer your own.
To still occasionally have nightmares thirteen years later.
Because rape isn’t sex. Rape is violence. And it needs to stop.
I’m accepting tips that allow me to keep giving time and energy to this incredibly exhausting work. But even more than that, I’d love it if anyone who could afford it made a small donation to Rape Crisis.