Spring Break Rape Vibe

Spring Break will be descending on the world over the next few weeks.

It’s made me think of this one time, when I was in college, my friend and I decided to go “car camping” at Yuba Lake. We threw some beer and hot dogs in a cooler, packed our bikinis and threw some blankets and pillows in the back of my Yugo.

We were having a good time. All sorts of adolescent and young adult adrenaline was pumping around the lake. Girls, ourselves included, were taking bikini-clad strolls up and down the waterline, fishing for a little attention. The collective blood alcohol level was rising. I’m sure there were other drugs – marijuana, methamphetamine – being passed around.

We jumped over huge bonfires at a neighboring camp. It was thrilling and intoxicating really.

As dark descended over the lake though, I started feeling what I can only describe as a “rape vibe.” Now, people often have sex, hook up, make out and generally become more uninhibited than they normally would during spring break. It is practically the whole point, isn’t it?

This time, though, I didn’t get a “maybe I’ll find The One here” vibe. I didn’t get a “throw caution to the wind because this is a safe place,” vibe. I got a “rape vibe.”

My girlfriend and I listened to this vibe. This is the important part of this post. We felt it. We acknowledged it, to ourselves and each other. We got in the car with the windows rolled up and the doors locked and hid under the covers – essentially, we played dead.

A couple of times some guys came and tried to rouse us by banging on the windows. Assuming we were passed out, they soon moved on for easier targets.

The next morning we packed up and left early.

If I recall correctly, the next day the news said there were three rapes at Yuba Lake that night.

Here’s what you need to know, and what you need to tell your daughters, about rapes in crowded, inebriated social situations.

1. None of the girls at that lake caused those rapes. The men who chose to rape those girls caused those rapes. The responsibility lies with those boys only. (If girls and women could control men’s actions I think we’d actually choose the other option: no rape of anyone ever.)

2. Every girl and woman has a built in “rape vibe” detector. Its part of our innate system, as females, because we need it. Tune into it. Believe it. Listen to it. Don’t question its validity or talk yourself out of it. Just, believe it and follow your own survival instinct.

Tell your daughter about her “rape vibe” detector and tell her how to use it. Tell her your own experiences with it, so she will know to trust hers.

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Gratuitous Rape

I’ve noticed a trend in literature in the last few years: gratuitous rape scenes. Specifically gratuitous anal rape combined with demented torture.

I find this trend disturbing and I’ve boycotted the authors.

Not a sort of “I hate you now and I’ll never read you again,” boycott.

More of a “I don’t trust you now and I don’t want your demented images floating around in my head,” boycott.

The latest was The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.  I could have done without the very graphic descriptions of torture, the very demented mix of sexuality and violence.

It’s not only in the fiction of male authors. It seems female authors are going for the emotional jugular and shock value as well. Specifically I’ll mention Kira Silak’s The White Mary and one of Janet Evonovich’s numbered novels. Both had incredibly horrific imagery of vaginal mutilation and anal rape.

I’ve gotten to where I don’t read much of the thriller mystery genre anymore.

It’s particularly disturbing when the author feels it necessary to graphically describe the rape, anal rape and torture of his or her own protagonist. Often times by someone they love or have a relationship with. Then the protagonist will spend maybe a day or a few hours washing herself off and going about her business, as if this is just what women should expect of the world and the men they are involved with.

There is a disturbing underlying emotion of hatred of female sexuality, a hatred of females in and of themselves, an objectification that goes beyond a one-night-stand-use-them-for-pleasure into women-are-disposable ideology. It’s an absurd notion that the witnessing of such horrific deeds – fiction or otherwise – passes for harmless entertainment in the plots of the stories.

It makes me wonder several disturbing things like:

How many men are jacking off to these images and creating an attraction to the mingling of misogyny, a fear and loathing of normal female sexuality and taking an an erotic pleasure in climaxing at the moment of a woman’s mutilation and even her naked death?

It also makes me wonder about the female audience. Why are we passively consuming graphic descriptions of rape, violence and torture of women in mass quantities of mainstream literature, music, television, movies and online porn and not offended by it?

I think there’s something wrong with both the men and women who are not offended. Mass desensitization to sexually violent misogyny can’t bode well for us.

It’s a form of vicarious rape of the masses of femininity.  I don’t know whether its intent, in all cases, is to “keep women in their place” making sure that they’re aware of and just a little frightened about their physical vulnerability in this world – but I do think that’s the effect of it.

For more on this theory check out Misogynistic Violence for Breakfast where I discuss the sexuality violent graphic nature of commercials during family programming time.

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She Liked It

The other day a group of junior high boys were laughing about having pantsed a girl.

One of them had pulled her pants down and it was extra-hilarious that she was wearing a thong.

I told them that was actually the criminal offense of sexual assault. I told them if I were the principal, I would have them prosecuted in criminal court for doing that.

But, she liked it! They told me.

No she didn’t, I told them. Girls don’t like it when boys rip their clothes off without their consent.

Yes, she liked it! They insisted.

I told them if I were principal I’d have them sent to detention for saying something so stupid.

Gee, I wonder where boys might get the idea that girls might like it?

Could it be the same places, stories, where girls get the idea that it’s hot for boys to harm them, that it’s a natural turn-on for boys to want to destroy them, silence them, isolate them, give up their futures?

Places like Twilight, Beauty and the Beast, Ariel?

It’s necessary to say: It’s not sane to love someone who treats you poorly, hurts you or threatens to hurt you or humiliates you in public. It’s not hot to mix sex and violence. Violence against yourself or against a girl you like is not a turn on. It is not sane to love your abuser. It is not sane to abuse someone you love.

It’s fundamental.

But, I think it’s come to this, parents need to repeat these messages to both boys and girls.

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Talking to Kids About Love

Oprah’s discussion with sex offenders got me thinking.

Hopefully it had this effect on you.

Stranger Danger is . . . well, it’s very unlikely harm comes from a stranger. In fact less than 10% of all rape, molestation and battery of girls and women comes from a stranger.

So how do parents walk the fine line between protecting their children from friends and family without inhibiting all close relationships with men?

Certainly one can see that being hyper-vigilant and suspicious of all male contact will have a damaging effect on girls and their future, appropriate, grown-up relationships.

Still . . . no one wants to risk allowing a perpetrator free access to their daughters just because they have the title uncle, grandpa or cousin.

The weapon of choice for all four men on the Oprah show was Love Distortion in some form.

If you love me . . . you’ll let me touch, lick or have sex with you.

If you love me . . . you won’t tell.

I love you more than your parents. No one understands or loves you like I do.

I love you so much that I want to do these “loving” things with you.

When it comes down to it this is my primary complaint with the Disney Princess Culture and the Twilight Series. They distort what love looks like, what it should feel like, they misrepresent the cues and signals girls should be looking for.

Take Ariel who silences herself and gives up her family – she’s the perfect statutory rape victim really. She’s the ultimate battered girlfriend. Isolation is a perpetrator’s method and silencing her is how he gets her to give up her own power.

Or Belle. She’s kidnapped and falls in love with her own abuser. Turns him into a prince even. Um, held against your will should not be confused as a signal of “love,” but a signal of abuse. Yet, by three or four girls are inundated with the idea that kidnapping could be a very romantic scenario. Is it really a mystery why girls get confused when someone they love or someone who professes to love them while harming them touches them inappropriately? The promise of The Beast turn Prince is what every battered girlfriend and wife believes in.

Then there’s Edward of the Twilight series, who’s main desire is to destroy Belle. It’s his instinct, he can’t help it just like batterers claim.. All the erotic scenes describe in great detail how it would feel to her and to him for him to crush her fragile lovely body, for him to drain her of her life’s blood. And it made girls and women hot. We have a whole generation of girls who are now turned on by their own physical destruction and earthly demise. She begs him to kill her and he just won’t do it . . until what? Book three or four? Plus, that deathly-erotic description in book two about her near-death. Why, I have to ask, is it a turn-on for a guy to want to destroy you? Why are we training daughters to be desperate to give up their lives, futures, relationships with parents and friends, college, future jobs, and children for pretty boys or vampires?

As a survivor of dating violence myself, I can attest that the language of a violent boyfriend, and the lies I told myself about his behavior, is almost verbatim of the dialogue of Edward the die-worthy vampire and his suicidal girlfriend Bella.

Herstory – Ourstory – feeds the rapists, child molesters, girl friend and wife batterers. The fairy tales we read to our daughters at night groom them to believe in a really distorted and dangerous definition of Love.

When Oprah does a wife-battering episode she is known to say, Love doesn’t hurt. Yet in all the above examples we’ve, as a culture, romanticized a distorted version of love that does hurt. We glamorize the pain, make it romantic and sexualize it until it turns us on.

It would be so much smarter and beneficial to tell our daughters other, healthier things about love. Our sons too – so they don’t get confused and start hurting their girlfriends in a screwed up attempt to be a murderer/protector like Edward or an asshole who promises to change like The Beast.

Just yesterday a group of Junior High boys told me they pantsed a girl and it wasn’t wrong, or sexual assault, because she liked it. Gee, I wonder where boys might get the idea that girls like it when boys hurt them? Could it be our infatuation with the victimization in princess stories and Twilight?

It may seem obvious, but we need to talk to our kids about fundamental things like, What is love? What does it really feel like? How will they really know it’s True Love? What are the cues of boys who truly care about girls? What cues should boys put out when he cares about a girl? When a girl falls in love, what kinds of feelings can she really expect to feel?

1 Corinthians 13:4 describes Love: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

Other translations include: Love isn’t jealous. It doesn’t sing its own praises. It isn’t arrogant.

This is key because many, many abusive boys and men use jealousy and arrogance to put girls on the defensive and make them feel they “deserve” to be beaten or raped. They fly into jealous rages and become arrogantly possessive of their girlfriends, not allowing them to see friends or family.

I would encourage parents to sit down and think about what Love feels like to them. Does it feel like meaningful sacrifice, like methodical work, like a warm bed, like a soft place to land, like a physical rhythm or a shelter from a storm? Does it feel different from sexual arousal, different from primitive adolescent hormones, different from a new infatuation? How is it different? Then talk about it to both sons and daughters.

Love is not Disney. Love is not Twilight. Love is not Gossip Girl.

Do our kids even know that?

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