Raging on a Thursday: The Topic of Consent

 

http://feminspire.com/why-i-never-play-hard-to-get/

This is an article that you need to read. Yes, need to. It’s thought provoking and insightful. More importantly, it made me call into question some of my own experiences. I recently had a Twitter argument with a friend about the new concealed carry law in Illinois. I think it’s a horrendous idea, he thinks it’s a joy among joys, an early Christmas gift from Santa. I see it from the perspective of being a woman, he sees a manly right to bear arms against…bears? 

Well, I’m really not certain. I haven’t had to defend my home against anyone… ever. My body? I’ve gone to battle several times to protect my body, I’ve even lost. Would a gun have protected me? Not a chance. In fact my rapist was the one with a gun. A gun which he had obtained legally, it was given to him as part of his duties as a police officer. He still carries that gun.

The idea that women can now protect themselves because of this new law is preposterous! Obviously the people lobbying on behalf of concealed carry haven’t read the statistics. It’s one more thing they can blame us for. Why didn’t you scream? Run? Fight? Punch? Kick? Scratch? Why didn’t you shoot him with your new Gloc as a result of your right to bear arms, bitch?!

What is certain is that rape, domestic violence, and child abuse are under-reported and under-prosecuted. Leaving the perpetrators with no records, nothing to tell the state that these are “bad people”, meaning guns for all! Plus, as we all know, there is NO WAY to get around the background checks…

http://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/userfiles/file/Children_and_Families/Guns.pdf

The damning statistics about gun violence and it’s twisted relationship to  gender violence is terrifying. Especially in light of the current legislation. However, I could go on all day about that, getting back to consent. 

As Rachel Kay states in her piece, our culture, this culture that devalues the feminine, is appalled by the innate femaleness of a woman, believes that a broad just doesn’t know what’s good for her. Until some man shows her. This is what we have done to ourselves,  take “The Rules” as an example. The 90’s guide book for the single woman, it demanded that  women play hard to get, begging to be “taken”. This has stimulated a battle in a culture that already doesn’t hear the word “no” as a demand for the desistance of an action, but as a challenge. 

As I read the piece I kept hearing the words of my rapist, it sounded something like this:

I need to leave.

No, you don’t.

I’m leaving with, (I’m redacting my SO’s name to protect his undeserved privacy.)

I’m going home.

He’s no good for you, I’m a better guy.

I’m leaving, I’m leaving.

Come on, let me show you.

No.

Come here.

No. 

(Don’t worry boys, I was fighting him off during this whole “conversation”. No need to victim blame here.)

I think we need to revisit the topic of consent and how it is understood in our culture.

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The Plan Begins…

I had a very interesting conversation today, one that I would like to share with you.

Today was the Domestic Violence Vigil at the Circuit Court on Harrison. This courthouse specilizes in domestic violence. The courthouse also houses various agencies providing resources for survivors of domestic violence.

While at the vigil, I was speaking to a woman who was there with an advocacy agency. As is want to happen at these functions, we were dicussing the struggles that the advocacy community faces; not only the usual trouble related to funding and staff, but the fundamental issues that we find in garnering understanding from those outside the advocacy community.

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Why are we still struggling against partner and sexual violence? Why, in 2012, is this still even an issue? It isn’t even strictly about women. Partner violence is violence, no matter the gender of the perpetrator. Those of us fighting for the survivors don’t differentiate between gender, race, class or creed. We simply see people that need help and we want to be there to help them.

So, why, I asked her, are we having such trouble convincing people to help us help survivors? Not only help, but stop judging. I came to this conclusion: in large part it is an issue of understanding.

Sexual assault and domestic violence can all happen (though not exclusively) in established relationships. What does this mean? Women who drop charges against their abusers, or refuse to prosecute their rapist, to the frustration of police and the court system, are often linked to the perpetrator, emotionally and psychologically.

Imagine if your partner of 2 months or 12 years suddenly became abusive, the feelings of confusion that would accompany this sudden change in behavior. What would you think: what happened to them at work, or school? What happened today to upset them? Did I do something?

That’s how abuse often starts in these relationships; slowly, with psychological abuse, then the alienation of family and friends. By the time the physical abuse begins, the survivor often feels like they have no one and nowhere to find help.

Think about how many times it took you to break up with the last person you dated. Was the decision easy? Were you married, financially dependent on them? Were children involved? What about pets? Ending a relationship is difficult, even when violence isn’t involved. Now, what if that person was threatening to hurt you, your child, or your dog? Take your money, tell everyone lies about you? Murder you?

The most dangerous part of a relationship that involves domestic violence is when the survivor decides to leave. This is something advocates tell them. They tell survivors because they want them to safety plan, so that a survivor knows when they are planning to leave, that this part, NOW, is when they are in the most danger.

When you put it into perspective you can’t really blame the survivor for struggling with the choice to leave.

This is why advocates are so important – they have not and can not be alienated by abusers. They don’t fall for the tricks and the lies. They are willing to wait while a survivor rebuilds their self-esteem and sense of worth, builds their safety plan and gets ready to leave, to run, and sometimes to hide.

That’s why advocates need our support. More than ever. And I have a plan. Are you willing to help me?

copyright 2012 Michelle Cahill