Presented without comment. Just a couple of ideas.
I’m collecting perspectives here.
Up for debate.
Not sure if I agree, but…
I’ve seen all these phrases attached to instances of sexual violence in the past week. I have seen irresponsible and emotionless pontificating over the experiences and cultures that have caused me insurmountable pain since I was first sexually assaulted at age 21. I have spent the last 5 years of my adult life managing this physical and mental pain daily, only to have it come back to the surface to breathe every time I see some fucker comment “Well, she should have just walked away and she wouldn’t have been raped.”
My Facebook feed loves to make this trauma into a charming internet debate. How fat really is Donald Trump? Should we be eating tide pods? Why aren’t Pittsburgh’s streets plowed? Oh, also, how do you know if you were actually raped? Don’t you know how to say no? Can’t we just let this go? Who needs verbal consent to have sex with anyone? 97 comments later and the acts of violence that happened to me have been invalidated and I feel the inclination to guzzle a bottle of Tito’s.
I’m sick of online arguments and casual reposting and perspective collecting from those who are capable of having an argument about sexual assault without experiencing tortuous PTSD. I don’t think it’s productive or fair to refuse to support someone because their trauma is “worse” or “better” than your own. I don’t need you to be devil’s advocate because I’ve encountered the real one every time my body was used by a man who didn’t listen to me crying in pain.
Desperate publications love to do this too because now sexual assault confessionals have a cash and click value attached to it. Another celebrity is trending on Twitter! Who was raped today? I’ve seen articles describing this week’s news related to sexual assault with GIFS from Clueless. How cute this all is! ~Yr fave is problematic~ BREAKING NEWS: SEXUAL VIOLENCE IS A SYSTEMIC PROBLEM.
I have started to doubt myself this week. How easy would it have been for me to walk out? To say no? To turn away? Why did I stay with my rapist for two and a half more months after he raped me? Am I strong enough? Am I faking it? That doubt does not go away once we find the next case to gossip about.
To repost that content with abandon is privilege. To be able to engage in a Internet argument about what constitutes legal and criminal rape is privilege (and frankly, a topic I’m not interested in debating). I will only prioritize the perspectives of humans who have experienced this violence. I am interested in discussing how we can talk about consent and healthy sex in a broader sense. I am interested in hearing from black and brown men who have historically and systemically been falsely accused of abuse. I am interested in discussing power dynamics in all types of romantic relationships. These are helpful discussions that major media powerhouses should be continuing. These are the talks we should be having with our partners and our friends in a serious and deliberate way.
Before these conversations occur in a productive and controlled way, stop using sexual violence as clickbait. My trauma is not your gateway to a pissing contest on Facebook.