Reflections from inside Rape Culture

A few weeks ago I started, and never quite finished, a post of a few of the more amusing moments I’ve had in therapy.   Those ridiculous things that I deal with that are so obviously answered, yet depressed people can’t even form into questions.  But then on my drive home today I was musing about a few more of these and I remembered a less-than-funny bit of my therapy in high school.

Throughout high school I was in theater.  I was a kickass techie, propmaster, and all around killer crew kid.  Up until I got a job and had to cut back, I spent pretty much all of my after school hours in tech, or waiting around for tech to start.

Some days we would wait around the school for an hour or more waiting for things to start up.  Or there would be nothing for us to do, so we would just hang around outside the actual theater.  Of course, there were all kinds of other kids doing this as well, or waiting for other things, rides, sports. whatever.  All things were good.

Except this one kid…

During my freshman year in high school, we would hang around, waiting for the backstage area to open, waiting to be told what to do, waiting for rides, etc.  There was this one kid who wasn’t in theater or anything.  I never had any idea what he was always doing around after school got out, but he gave me the creeps.  He had some distant acquaintanceship with one of my friends, so he would hang around us.  But, ugh, he gave me the creeps.  He was always standing too close.  Make too personal of jokes at me.  Asking other people weird things about me.  Offering me and no one else rides home.  To the point that he was following me around the school.  If I left to talk to a teacher or use the computer lab away from my friends, he would be right around the corner.  When I told him to stop or leave me alone, he would laugh.  If a friend told him to back off, he would laugh.  It got to the point that I didn’t want to leave the green room or stage area.  I knew the director always had a fit if non-tech or non-actors were back there, so I always made up a reason to be back there or took a friend if I had another errand to run.

I was 15.  I had no idea what else to do at this point.  I was in therapy, so I told my therapist what was going on.  I told him that this was making me not want to go to tech crew.  Well, rather than figuring out what action to take and what to do, my therapist decides to tell me “Oh he’s just interested and doesn’t know how to show it.”  He tried to convince me I was being insecure because of depression.  That this was just a kid with a crush.  When I continued to tell him that it made me REALLY FREAKED OUT and HIDE IN THE GREENROOM, he advised me “Well if you’re not interested, just don’t pay attention.  He’ll eventually move on.”

really

Well, let’s just talk about how much better that all made me feel.  I should apparently be flattered that this guy is following me around and being super inappropriate in all ways.  But it’s only because he has a crush.  I shouldn’t be scared or creeped out at all.  I’m just insecure.  Great.

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I feel 100% positive I’m not the only person who has gone through something like this and gotten this type of advice.  And I wish I could even say something about how this therapist was a horrible, sexist, asshole.  But, truth is, he was wonderful in many ways.  He helped me through that first episode of depression and get my head back on track.  The horrible thing is that this is such a natural response to the issue I brought forward for so many people.  What should I have expected?  What could he have said?  Shit, I would have been fine with “I’m sorry, that sucks and it sucks that people like that exist.”  Just to know that this wasn’t something I should expect or something that is okay for people to have to deal with or something that is somehow a positive because it means I’m attractive.

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This is just one day-to-day example of rape culture.  Luckily in my case, nothing horrible happened.  I made it through the show season by hiding and using the buddy system.  The school year ended and I actually never saw the kid again.  Never asked what happened and never wanted to know.  It was nice, after that, to be able to stay after school and walk around freely, not worrying if someone was following me.  Not feeling uncomfortable, hiding, or pulling another friend away from their business so I could pee.

I’m sure someone out there can tell me I was/am overreacting or making something out of nothing.  But here is the truth:  I was freaked out and uncomfortable.  I felt unsafe.  The adult I trusted enough to say something to diminished and even normalized it.  It’s not normal.  It shouldn’t be normal to feel like that.

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SlutWalk Chicago 2013 (SLUTWALKSLUTWALKSLUTWALK is amazing!)

This past weekend I participated in Slut Walk Chicago 2013!

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It was amazing.  There were speakers, comedians, performers.  It was fantastic and I had a blast!  (Even though no one would go with me.  Boyfriend offered, but our pup had his stitches removed that morning and someone had to stay home to make sure he didn’t re-open the wounds).

But the demonstration was a blast.  It was really amazing, after railing in professional and personal environments about rape culture and victim blaming, being around a group of people who understand the importance of this movement and who are willing to put themselves out there was moving.  Hearing the stories of what can be considered “everyday victims” of rape culture–all of us who are faced with sexual pressures, street harassment, disrespect, etc–and victims of more horrible abuses was revealing about the culture we live in and motivating to want to make an impact on that culture.

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Jodie Rapheal, JD spoke and promoted her book Rape is Rape (I finally broke down and bought it from her directly, I figured I should since I’ve cited her in professional presentations enough).  Representatives were there from Rape Victims Advocates.  But the most amazing thing was the people there.  Both women and men standing together against rape culture.  There was a lot of Robin Thicke hate floating around, which made me Oh So HAPPY!

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There was something quite interesting though:  The people of Chicago didn’t all seem to quite get it.  Despite obvious signs condemning rape culture, supporting victims of abuse, and promoting healthy sexual attitudes, they didn’t get it.  One woman looked at me and straight up asked “What are you protesting?” As I carried a sign that said “Consent is sexy.  Everything else is Rape.”  And while people around me carried even more straight forward signs.  Maybe people were getting confused by the more clever signs?

I got down on some Slut Walk Swag (like, all the swag possible)

I got down on some Slut Walk Swag (like, all the swag possible)

Anyway, for those of you confused about what rape culture is and what Slut Walk is all about here I tell you this:  Rape Culture is a culture in which the victim of sexual abuses is somehow blamed for what happens to them, while the actions of the abuser are considered “normal” behavior and acceptable.  How the victim dressed, spoke, laughed, carried themself, their sexual history, and their assumed mental state are pieced apart so that they are forced to take accountability for the abuse.  Further, verbal and implied violence is encouraged by others in a mob mentality (again, think of Robin Thicke’s rapey lyrics)

Examples of rape culture can be seen in the Steubenville rape case, the recent case in which a judge declared an underage girl raped by her teacher to be “older than her chronological age” and thus the rape was less severe (the girl eventually committed suicide), and this lovely piece of sportsmanship in Halifax, http://www.salon.com/2013/09/05/college_students_cheer_sex_abuse/.

Any questions?  I refuse to leave on an angry note.  So more Slut Walk pictures!  And thank you to all the people who organized this wonderful event!

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Stole this one from your fb page SlutWalk Chicago!

Stole this one from your fb page SlutWalk Chicago!

Stop Slut Shaming Miley Cyrus.

To make it known, I’m not a fan of pop music.  I don’t watch the VMAs or really awards shows in general.  I don’t know who most of the celebrities are.  And I’m kind of disgusted by most popular music.

To be clear, I think VMA performances should go like this:  (BTW, don’t call me old.  I was 6 when this happened)
Pearl Jam 1993 VMAs

He's talking about the world of music going black.

He’s talking about the world of music going black.

I know, I know.  Too many instruments.  Not enough glitter and distraction.  Sorry.  Maybe I am old.

But I could not escape the facebook and news media attacks on Miley Cyrus for her performance.  I’m not going to judge the performance because clearly I don’t understand criteria for good music performance.  But all I see in reviews of this performance is a massive amount of Slut Shaming.

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I was curious. So I watched it.  Yeah, it was lewd and hypersexualized.  But how much more lewd than anything else on MTV? or in the pop media in general?  Is this really so shocking?  Some comically phallic gestures made by a 20 year old?  A 20 year old who is clearly being ridiculous for the sake of being ridiculous?  Really?  She’s a talentless whore  for acting silly on stage during two really bad songs and wearing hideous costumes?  All of which was most likely, in reality, planned and put together by someone else?

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I’m fairly certain that every 15-25 makes an ass of themselves through use of obscene gestures, thinking that they’re being super cool and risque.  Is this really a sign, as unfortunately my girl Mika unfortunately suggests ( http://www.nbcnews.com/id/3036789/ns/msnbc-morning_joe/vp/52845228#52845228 around 1:17.  Lay off the Freudian lit.), that she is mentally ill and has body image problems?  Or is she simply a 20 year old, making an ass out of herself while getting a massive public reaction that no one could escape?

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People seem to do this to female stars.  They react to normal parts of growing out of adolescence and early adulthood with slut shaming and blaming. Tearing young women apart for their performances and public persona.  And again, this is really all created by other people, publicists, managers and such who want to make money off the image.  So then these women get torn to shreds for doing their job, entertaining, and of course it tears apart their sense of identity and sense of self.  Of course they then suffer depression and anxiety and break downs.  Why is this such a mystery to people?  They are not train wrecks until the public and the publicists create the train wreck.

What is interesting, as I read more about this performance is that the lewdness is blamed specifically on Cyrus.  With complete ignoring of Robin Thicke’s most disgusting, rapey song “Blurred Lines.”

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*Side note* Dear Robin Thicke or whoever wrote this song:  The “blurred” line you’re looking for is called Consent.  And it’s not hard to see if you’re doing it right.   Stop making a joke of rape and being mad that rape is illegal and you are expected to respect people.  People includes women.  Sorry to disappoint.

Okay, back to the point.  I have not read anything that holds Thicke responsible for any of the offensiveness of the performance.  In fact, I read one account that accused Cyrus of “molesting” him.  Really?  Again, I hear the familiar call of Slut Shaming.  I have no theories for this!  Other than that men are expected and accepted to be lewd and phallic and slutty, and women are shamed.  That’s the best I got.  People are so shocked and angry at Cyrus for this:

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I don’t understand.

So, let me get this straight.  It is okay for Robin Thicke to have nude women dancing around him and degrade them for a solid like 4 minutes or however long the video is, but when Miley does it as the star of the show its whoreish?  Okay, I just had to be sure on this one.

I’m also really confused about why people keep looking to her father.  Something about she is a disappointment or he needs to “keep her in line” or something?

Poor Miley.  She clearly has acquired a mental illness.  Not being a stupid 20 year old.  Freud's Ghost is clearly in on this.

Poor Miley. She clearly has acquired a mental illness. Not being a stupid 20 year old. Freud’s Ghost is clearly in on this.

If you really want to be offended, and like legitimately be offended by something, go watch some videos of The Plasmatics.

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Wendy O’Williams was such a BAMF

Otherwise, I’m going to grab Badmotorfinger and pretend it’s still 1992.

In addition to sharply dressed Brits & Irishmen, I also have a huge weakness for poorly dressed grunge rockers.

Do you remember when music was music?

“The bucking bronco is a rape joke?” And other adventures in Rape Culture

A day in the life.

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9:40

My clinical supervisor lets us out of morning meeting early to check out the new DSM 5.  My friend and I skip through the more controversial areas we are already very familiar with and are advised to check out the new V-codes (sub- or non-diagnosistic descriptors of symptoms or personal history that, if used correctly, are more informative than anything a diagnosis could tell you.)  We are pleased to see that the Child Abuse V-codes had been expanded to be more specific, a  V-code for perpetrators of child abuse was added, codes were added for abuse of adults and rape (Ahh! Finally!), homelessness was added.  They also removed some of the personality disorders that essentially pathologized being weird and quirky.  So I’m taking the new focus on V-codes as a win.  Since the actual diagnostic stuff still sucks and they have not done anything to fix the issues with trauma, rape, or child abuse diagnosis.

2:00

During diagnostic supervision,while handing out case assignments, my supervisor goes on a rant about how our sexual assault program doesn’t open cases to the state.  Sexual assault programs tend to be grant funded and, in order to maintain confidentiality, the program does not report the client’s information to medicaid or insurance companies.  So we got a rant about how “annoying” this is.

6:30

Me and boyfriend head to our favorite neighborhood bar for a few drinks.  Our usual gang is there (yes, I live like Cheers and I love my bar friends).  The Daily Show is on the TV because there were no hockey games.  We chat.  We laugh.  We play air guitar to Rush.

7:00

The Daily Show is over and *groan* Tosh.O comes on.  I’ve gone on rants about this shit before.  I hate him.  He should just disappear from existence.  So I direct my attention more toward conversation and try to ignore that sack of worthlessness.  Boyfriend sees that I’m annoyed and makes a sympathy face.

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Whilst trying to distract myself from the idiot on the television I overhear a group of dude friends discussing the Bucking Bronco.  Stop me if you’ve heard this, and apparently there is some controversy over this particular sexual move, but it involves sex, doggy-style, wrapping her hair around your arm so that she cannot get away, and then, and here’s where they were having the controversy, you either:  call out another girls name and enjoy the ride while she tries to stop the sex or have your friends jump out of a closet and take pictures of her against her will and enjoy the ride.  I couldn’t stop myself from saying audibly “yeah, guys, rape is really fucking hilarious.”  Boyfriend tries to calm me down, saying like “dude, they’re just kidding you know they’re not really like that.”

I continue to try to distract myself.  This time on my phone.  I open up my news app.  The first thing I see is this:
http://www.salon.com/2013/05/31/comedian_and_columnist_debate_appropriateness_of_rape_jokes_in_comedy/
“Are Rape Jokes Funny?”  is newsworthy.  I didn’t even read it.  I don’t know what the article says.

*Groan*  Switch to Facebook.  Trusty old Facebook.  I’m sure a picture of a puppy will pop up and all will be right with my mental status.
Nope.  The first thing I see?
http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/05/31/police-looking-for-rape-suspect.html
“Columbus cops looking for rape suspect”

AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! Get me out of here!  I can’t do it anymore!  I just wanted to have a beer and hang out and listen to fart jokes and talk about music!

I was visibly agitated.  Boyfriend was trying to be cool and I was trying to not be visibly agitated.  Nothing that was going on was overtly or purposefully threatening or malicious.  It was just everything piling and piling to a breaking point.

7:30

Bartender/Friend notices also my agitation and boyfriend’s attempts at reconciling my mental state and asks what’s up.  Boyfriend fills him in.  I let him know again, that it is nothing specific it was just a pile of agitation and tried to not get soapbox-y.  I was out to have fun and a superstorm of rape-culture just hit.  But then…

“Wait….the bucking bronco is a rape joke?”

Ugh…..my response?  “You make a joke about not allowing a women to stop sex, forcibly continuing sex, about humiliation and degradation.  What about that is not a rape joke? I understand that it is a joke, but what’s behind that joke? Other then degrading someone?”

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He apologized and walked away with a genuine look of “oh, shit, I never actually thought about that.”  I hope he actually did think about it.  IDK.  But then he turned off Tosh.0 and put on a replay of the Hawks/Wings game from Wednesday.

Anyway, me and boyfriend continued a bit of the conversation about rape jokes.  I challenged him to tell me a joke made by a woman that degrades men sexually, in the act of sex not just a small penis joke.  He could not.  Anyway that conversation ended and we moved on and the night ended on a high note.

But that was a day in the life of rape culture.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Freud and Rape Culture–Fuck that guy.

I’ve been going back and forth between doing a post on Sigmund Freud and Rape Culture.

I’ve been going back and forth because I know that to do it justice and deflect nay-sayers and those weirdo Freudians who think he is still relevant, I would have to do an actual amount of research, which  I don’t have the time or health to do right now.  (I think I have an ulcer or gastritis or diabetes or cancer or death…but I also might just be under too much stress.)

So I don’t have the time, but I’m going to anyway.  Fuck you.  This is my blog.  If you like Freud’s theories, go home and continue in your delusion.

fuI’m honestly pretty embarrassed that my field still uses Freud as a mascot.  It’s pretty insulting that we even still respect him.  (In case you haven’t gotten it, this is a super biased post, so again, feel free to leave).  We give him credit for pretty much inventing psychology and psychotherapy, when in reality we are misdirecting credit that should go to others.  Freud didn’t come out of nowhere, he did not invent the “talking cure” as many want to think.  Nor did he really cure anyone.

Aaaaaaannnnnd on to my rape culture rant.

This was a some type of treatment for Hysteria...Yeah...

This was a some type of treatment for Hysteria…Yeah…

Coming up in psychology I’m sure I got the same schpiel (I have no idea how you spell that, or if it’s a real word) that everyone else got in their intro classes about Freud’s theory on psychosexual development.  Psychosexual stages of oral, anal, blah blah I hate them too much to even recall or google them right now.  We learned the Oedipus Complex and the less well known Electra Complex (for girls!  written something along the lines of 15 years later because it took the culture that long to realize that he had completely left women out of the developmental picture).  It all seemed very single minded to me.  Really?  Everything, every pathology and tic is a result of some type of sexual regression?  I figured that it was just a very watered down undergrad version of the theory and went on with my life.  And even then I thought of it as a historical science blip, like the sun revolving around the earth.  My very hippied out Personality Psych Prof in undergrad then let us in on the secrets of Freud’s private life.  He didn’t have sex for decades and there was some weird shit with him and his mom and he threw away and attempted to disgrace any upcoming psychologist/intern/admirer who disagreed with him.  Fun stuff.  Just the kind of guy I would want laying down judgments on me.

Anyway, as part of my grad training, I had to take classes in each of the major orientations (Psychodynamic [Freud, et al], CBT, Humanistic, and Systemic), most of which were taught by very staunch adherents to their theory who refused to see any flaw in the classic theories of the orientation (except my CBT prof who outrightly said “all what I’m teaching is being outmoded by new theories and will be irrelevant in a few years—but failed to teach us said new theories).  Anyway, I went into my Psychodyamic class trying to have an open mind about Freud.  We learned all of his greatest hits and made-up phrases like “Regression in service of the ego” and something about “cathexis.”  I tried to follow, but it was all too foreign and self-righteous for me.  I passed the class and went on with my life accepting that I had wasted that time and money and disappointed the prof never even uttered the name Carl Jung.  I was but a wee grad student with a high level of anxiety and a fear of making waves (clearly this phase of my life has passed, as I have heard myself saying “fuck that” during seminars–I may not get far in my career, but I will be true to myself).

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As I implied, this prof refused to address any issues or faults in Freud’s theory.  When someone asked about his theory on homosexuality, the prof said “oh we will discuss that at a later date.”  “A later date” never came.

Let me bring up to you Freud’s theory of sexual abuse towards girls and women:  It was all their fault and they were asking for it.

Now, this was not always Freud’s theory.  Initially, Freud saw the relationship between “Hysteria” and childhood trauma, specially sexual trauma.  A little background on Hysteria:  essentially this was the term for a cluster of symptoms relating to anxiety in women, such as hyperarousal, pulling away at being touched, uneasiness, crying, etc.  My personal favorite description being:  “a dramatic medical metaphor for everything that men found mysterious or unmanageable in the opposite sex.”

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Freud, Charcot, Breuer, and others in the field at the time all recognized the relationship between this “disease” and trauma.  Freud even had a strong enough base of evidence to write about the relationship between girlhood sexual abuse and hysteria.  Legit and fantastic.  A difficult subject to breach at the time.  So difficult, in fact, that Freud became uncomfortable with the idea, retracted the theory, and reconceptualized all of the work that he had previously done.  Apparently, the idea of rampant, systemic childhood sexual abuse was so threatening to Freud he disavowed his own thoughts and journals.  He retracted previous writings and revised his theory.

I want to stop here.  Because I want to point out that Freud and his counterparts recognized this in the early 20th century and had the opportunity to intervene.  To change the way women and hysteria was thought about and treated.  To really, genuinely address issues of rape and sexual abuse.  But Freud said “No.”

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He was actually so uncomfortable with this idea that he revised his theory to state that the sexual abuse was “imagined” and even later “wanted” by the women during childhood.  That they created the situation to deal with their distance from the father and jealousy of the mother.  I could say the same for the Oedipus complex, but like I said I don’t have the time, energy, or health to back it up legitimately.  (I know I rarely do citations here, because it’s not a peer-review journal, but please trust that I’m not making shit up as I go along and I do have articles if you are that desperate to fact-check me.)    Freud’s eventual theory came down to the fact that women imagined sexual abuse, they wanted to be sexually abuse…wait, I should correct myself, we are talking about childhood sexual abuse, so I should be saying girls.  Girls wanted to be sexually abused, the desired the trauma, so much so that if it wasn’t real, they would imagine it.

Why am I so furious to write an entirely too long post?  Because out culture still thinks this way.  We blame girls and women for being abused, for being raped, for being traumatized.  We don’t believe their stories.  We look for every reason to think they are lying or that they are asking for it.  Well, I blame Freud for a lot of this.  He created the theory that allowed us to believe this tripe.  Thanks, Freud, for the victim blaming and slut shaming.Fuck you freud

I wanted to end on some awesome quote/picture.  I got nothing.  Have a good night.(And have sex.  It will anger the ghost of Freud, and that will make the world a better place)