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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Am I misunderstanding this?

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Author Topic: Am I misunderstanding this?
mizchastain
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I haven't got involved in any more arguments, but I did see one, and it confused me a bit. Someone on a message board mentioned that women are capable of committing sexual assault and harassment, and immediately got flamed by people who said this was anti-feminist. What baffles me is that the flamers didn't seem to be trying to deny that such things happen, but seemed to think the person who'd mentioned it was a horrible person for saying that they do. Their logic seemed to be that because assault by men is so very much more common, assault by women isn't a problem at all. By my way of thinking, that's like saying that the fact that broken necks are possible means that broken fingers don't require any medical attention. It particularly bothered me because I was "jokingly" threatened with rape by two other girls when I was fourteen, and I think one tried to touch me inappropriately but I'm not entirely sure. (She bent over me when I was bending over to pick something up, so I bumped into her breasts when I stood back up. I'm not sure if this was an attempt at inappropriate touching, just an accident, or an attempt to get me to bump into her hard enough that she could claim I'd tried to hit her. Going by that girl's usual behaviour to just about everyone, any of those could be possible.) It doesn't really bother me any more that it happened, but hearing stuff like this does annoy me. Am I missing an obvious point here, or am I right to think their argument is off?

I am doing my best to avoid situations like this now. I don't think I can totally avoid seeing them, but I do make sure I don't get involved. I went to see my EMDR counsellor and spent a session going over my urges to get involved in fights, and I'm making sure I don't any more.

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Saffron Raymie
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I'm so sorry you had to experience such awful sexual bullying with those girls.

It's a very dangerous idea that those who identify as women cannot rape anybody just because of their gender - and can even lead women to think it is acceptible behaviour to rape a partner of either gender - because of a silly idea that it's not 'really' rape. It also adds to rape culture in perpetuating the myth that only 'men' can and do rape or are 'uncontrollably prone' to rape. This makes rape seem like it is about masculinity again and causing a minority of men to feel that being sexually abusive to women is somehow okay because they are 'men' and that's what 'men' do.

Women can, and do, rape - and it's not anti-feminist to say so - the only thing anyone can say that is anti-feminist is that they think women and men should not have equal status in the world. So, these posters may not have fully grasped the concept of feminism yet - or weren't expressing themselves in a clear and constructive way. Please remember, sometimes people are much crueler on the internet than in real life; because nobody can see them. It is possible that they were just trying to start a fight for whatever reason.

However, the idea that men and women rape in equal amounts is also very dangerous. Our culture's ideas about gender - and especially masculinity - is what perpetuates a rape culture, and causes rape. Rape is about power and control, and the ideas are still there in our culture that men, as a group, 'should' have more power and control in the world that women, as a group. Therefore the vst majority of rapists are men.

This does not mean, in any way, that the awful harassment you have encountered was not about power and control. It absolutely was. Just because it's much rarer, it doesn't mean it was any less tramatizing and real. All sexual abuses are just as extremely serious as each other - no matter what anyone's gender is. All abuse is real abuse.

I know how terrible it feels when people are insensitive about abuse we have encountered. I also know how frustrating it feels to wind up discussing rape with people who just don't understand. I think, while we are still healing, it's best to avoid all discussion of rape (especially online) unless it's with those who raise awareness about rape and sexual abuse as their job, or a counsellor who specialises in helping survivors heal. I did have to learn this the hard way too, so big hugs to you from someone who's been on the same boat.

Would you feel comfortable talking any more about the abuse you have expecienced at all? Have you ever considered having counselling for sexual abuse?

If you wind up reading a discussion thread about rape - or some other thread online that winds up being discussing rape - it might be best to just close that window and read something else, or do something completely different to distract yourself and help yourself feel better. This will hopefully keep you emotionally safer. If you see something like this again, please remember that they aren't right. I couldn't bring myself to read anything like that either.

Here's a link that might help:

http://www.scarleteen.com/who_are_rapists_and_where_did_rape_even_come_from

[ 10-27-2011, 12:06 PM: Message edited by: RaeRay2112 ]

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'Obtain the virgin's consent before you marry her' - Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)

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mizchastain
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To be honest, that time doesn't really bother me all that much - the sexual aspect was a one-off, and I was at that point pretty much used to less extreme forms of verbal bullying. I wasn't entirely aware of how much more problematic this one was, and didn't really know how to react. I'm not entirely sure why they swapped over to that on that particular day. They said some pretty horrible things - they threatened me with rape and announced that I'd had sex with a dog, in front of the entire class in the girls' changing rooms. What they said doesn't bother me so much as the fact that nobody else stood up for me. I don't think they were entirely sure how to react either. I think one of the girls transferred out in sixth form and the other got expelled for bullying. I remember the class being questioned individually about what she'd done, and mentioned what she'd said to me but didn't go into detail to the teachers. I was sexually harassed by some boys on the school bus at around the same time in my life, and that I did recognise for what it was - the boys in question ended up getting banned from the school bus after one of them dared an eight-year-old to grab my breasts. I did bring up both times in therapy, and I think I'm processing them as well as I ever will. While I recognise that they were serious, I figure they could have been worse, and they're over now.

Oh no, I am aware that women don't commit such offenses nearly as often, and the reason why, and I know that to imply that they do would be offensive. But to acknowledge that it does happen sometimes while simultaneously acting as if mentioning that it happens is a horrible offense against women just struck me as odd.

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mizchastain
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The same site has also had people claim that it's okay to throw verbal abuse and insults at men because men as a group have done worse to women. I made the mistake of saying that I think this is childish - I know, I shouldn't get involved, big mistake - and got snotty messages about how I must want women to stay quiet and in the kitchen. I don't. I just think there is a line between "assertive" and "tantrum". And besides, what world are they living in in which swearing and cursing makes people more likely to listen to you? I was always told that name-calling and swearing are signs that the person knows their argument is invalid and is blustering. If I was a woman-hating man and a woman cursed me out, all it would do is confirm in my head that I was right!

[ 10-27-2011, 01:39 PM: Message edited by: mizchastain ]

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Saffron Raymie
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School can be so tough. I know all too well the damage sexual bullying in schools can do - th rumours and the embarasment and how everyone seems to be obsessed with our sexuality. I'm so sorry that happened to you.

Sometimes, sexual bullying can look so scary to us that we just cannot step in and help, no matter how badly we want to. We can end up so terrified that we will be harrassed ourselves. Those other young people's hearts may well have gone out to you, mizchastain; but when we're so young, it can be so scary to help someone out.

I'm also sorry that someone encouraged somebody else to sexually assault you. I'm glad your healing journey is going okay in therapy.

What those posters said is more than odd - it can make people feel like their abuse wasn't serious. However, we still live in a rape culture and the myths are so strong and absolutely everywhere. It best not to pay them any attention until we feel strong enough to challenge such dangerous ideas - which is a very difficult thing to do. Especially when we are survivors of abuse ourselves.

Well, if a man who hated women carried on thinking it was okay to hate all women because one swore at him, it really wouldn't be okay. Those who identify as women are all individuals, and aren't all responsible for each other's actions.

Sometimes, women - the most oppressed group of all - do react to the ton of sexism and hatred fired at them by culture by being sexist back. It's not a good stratergy to fight back to that sexism, with sexism - as fighting fire with fire does not work - but we all human, all learning.

It is very difficult for younger women who are only just becoming aware of how oppressed they really are to deal with at first. It can be met with anger, upset, envy, confusion (like lashing out at others - which isn't fair at all - but it's can be part of learning), heartbreak, and - eventually, hopefully - finding the strength to help make the world an equal place for all; for generations to come.

Not everyone can get into that space at the same time. However, now might be a good time to leave them to their mistakes and learning - and find a comunity where folks are in the space you are in.

[ 10-27-2011, 02:41 PM: Message edited by: RaeRay2112 ]

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'Obtain the virgin's consent before you marry her' - Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)

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mizchastain
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I don't think it's good that womens' arguments are ignored, but I had a terrible temper as a child and got into a lot of fights, and I was told that swearing and name-calling invalidates the argument, and even if the person you are calling names has done worse that doesn't make it good. I also don't feel that attacking individual men who haven't done anything, or men as a homogenous group, is right.

The difficult part about this is the group I'm talking about deal with most sensitive topics perfectly well and civilly. It's just this one that seems to cause problems. I know enough to avoid any time it's brought up now, though.

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mizchastain
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Been thinking; I think part of the reason it made me feel so bad is it's entirely possible I DO have unresolved issues with other women. If male peers had treated me the way female peers did in my teens - this wasn't the only bullying incident, though it was the only sexualised one I recall, and I came close to suicide at age sixteen - I'd bet money these same women who snarked at me would say there was something wrong with me for not totally dismissing all men. (Not saying males wouldn't have treated me that way if they had the opportunity, but I was in an all-girls school - we shared the bus with the boys' school - so they didn't get the chance.) Then again, if I did have something against other women, I wouldn't be asking for a second opinion, would I?

I think the reason I got so upset is to do with my obsessive-thoughts problem. I guess being irrationally angry about strangers' opinions is better than the time I spent eighteen months convinced I was turning into a paedophile (that's the issue which actually first brought me to Scarleteen five or so years back). I've tried to push the thoughts away, but it's kind of like the old "don't think of an elephant" trick. Not much to do but wait till it stops on its own - the last set of obsessive thoughts did, eventually. Maybe just need to keep reminding myself it's irrational and thinking of something else when it comes up?

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Saffron Raymie
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Hi mizchastain, it's really not uncommon for us to wind up down the path where we have an issue with one gender as an entire group. This is because from the moment we're born, we start hearing things like: 'well isn't that just typical of a boy - can't handle an once of sentiment' and 'girls just love colouring, don't they?' Obviously, these things are just complete rubbish - lots of boys are very sentimental and lots of girls hate colouring - but we hear things like this over and over again growing up.

This can cause an awful lot of us to wind up down that path: say we meet eight people who identify themselves as girls who a cruel and we end up thinking things like 'girls can be so cruel!'

However, gender is fluid; not all people who identify themselves as girls, men, women or boys stay that way. Those girls from those forums may end up identifying as men themselves one day, or something else completely.

Also, one person can have a totally different idea of what it means to be a girl. For example, when I self-identified as a girl, I valued sensitivity, compassion and faries [Smile] . By contrast, my housemate also identified as a girl at the time and believed girls were insecure and needed hugs, and liked jewelery and weddings. This was completely different to how I did femimine!

Do you think that perhaps these people who identify as girls who have wound up down the path of hating people who identify as men as a group actually remind you of the people who identified as girls who bullied you?

If so, this could be leading your brain to start trying to freak you out again, like it did before. My brain does this as well. We can definately talk about this some more, but have you had a read over your conversation with logic_girl in that thread from five or so years ago?

[ 11-08-2011, 07:06 AM: Message edited by: RaeRay2112 ]

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'Obtain the virgin's consent before you marry her' - Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)

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mizchastain
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It's possible. I'm getting the same vibe of them using what they say as an attempt to feel superior to someone, whether that's true or not. I feel like the recent incidents should be something I could have totally ignored, but it got so bad I found myself questioning my own gender identity, partly because I felt they were implying that a woman would understand their point of view automatically and partly because I couldn't stand the idea of having even that in common with them.

I'll go read that thread over again. It'll make me feel better - it did when it was in the process of happening, it'll work again [Smile]

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mizchastain
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One particular woman now seems to be intentionally attempting to pick fights with me over something entirely different. On the blog site in question, it's possible to block users from commenting on your personal journal, but not from commenting on posts you make in communities. I'm trying to just ignore her, though it's hard to resist the temptation to respond and tell her she's making herself look stupid.
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