From Bill Cosby to Brett Kavanaugh, rape is in
the news with an alarming regularity, and every time it is, I hear the same
thing. It’s not about sex, they say. Rape is about power.
Even the simplest behaviors have multiple
causes. We brush our teeth and cook our food, for many reasons. Rape is a part
of human behavior. To say rape is about power, as if it is only about power, is
just as wrong as saying it’s only about sex.
That seems obvious perhaps, but ideas become distorted
once they’re sloganized and accessible. Some pageant winner speaks out against gay marriage and has her title taken away, and later you see her complaining on cable news, that she has the right to free speech.
Absolutely, she does, along with the responsibility wearing that tiara entails. This is the problem with
encapsulating ideas, compressing them into slogans and mantras. You end up with
something as close to the original, as close to the truth, as Taco Bell is to Mexican
was 19, I was walking down the street one summer night, scantily clad; I saw a
man I knew. Not well, but I knew him. His name was Steve. He was blue-eyed with
wavy, blond hair, he lived a block away and Steve had cold beer and sinsemilla,
he said, at his place.
said Sure. Why not. I walked into his apartment and heard the lock click.
lasted over an hour. He pinned me down on the couch and I thought he was going
to kill me. I am hard-pressed to think of something he didn’t do, or make me
do, and the funny thing is, I liked him. I thought he was cute. I thought he
looked like Paul Newman. He didn’t have to rape me. I would’ve had sex with
of course, is how I see it.
it was over, Steve and I made small talk. I went to the bathroom. Fixed my hair. He drove me home.
will tell you something my feminist-minded friends don’t like to hear, but I
had no business being there that night in the first place. I had a boyfriend. Not
to mention the fact Steve was barely an acquaintance.
was raped, there’s no question there. I put myself in the situation through a
series of poor choices, is all I’m saying. He raped me; that’s on him. That I
was there that night, is on me. I own that.
choose to own that.
1975, in Against Our Will, Susan Brownmiller wrote:
Rape is not a crime of irrational, impulsive,
uncontrollable lust, but is a deliberate, hostile, violent act of degradation
and possession on the part of a would-be conqueror, designed to intimidate and
enough. Rape is about power. It’s also about sex, and it’s about entitlement.
word “egregrious” used to mean “distinguished” or “eminent”, and “meat” once
meant solid food, not necessarily animal flesh. Some ideas seem so complex that
they are similarly distorted. Reduced to more palatable slogans.
queens deserve tiaras. Taco Bell’s authentic, and rape is about power.
than once I’ve heard it said, a point was “mute”.