Wednesday 12 June 2013

Winners can't be victims, or victims cant be winners?

Cross posted from my usual spot...
Massive trigger warning for rape and assault, domestic violence, and victim blaming.
Please note that I repeatedly use the term Victim in this piece. This is a term a lot of people choose to leave behind in their recovery from assault, domestic violence and rape, for the purpose of moving on, and empowerment.
Please understand that the term is used to point out the power imbalance in the scenarios given, and is not meant with disrespect.

Much love to those survivors out there.

There has been a lot of discussion on gaming and feminist sites around the rape joke at Microsoft's E3 Reveal. I have a few points I want to make.

Firstly, those two people were supposed to be showing how FUN gaming is, how great the new console is, and why people should buy it. They were supposed to be the epitome of what is awesome about gaming.
And rape jokes were a part of that.
This rubbish is so ingrained in the culture that not only did it happen, but it happened at a “show” about how fun gaming is. Could you isolate some of your audience any more if you TRIED?

My second point is less about this specific incident, but about the responses to it.

I found something very interesting with regards to the response in support of the “joke”.
In multiple cases, they pointed out that“in the end” the woman gamer won.


Can someone please explain to me what about winning makes an assault/rape/victimisation less real or awful?
Yes, that woman eventually won the bout (don’t even get me started on staging that) but at a point in time, the other gamer made a reference that most people in the room, certainly any rape victim understood.

“Just let it happen. It will be over soon."

There are phrases that I am very, verycareful not to use with patients. One of those phases is “it will be over soon.”There are few things more triggering than hearing the exact phrase an attacker used, coming out of the mouth of someone you thought was safe. I can only imagine that then hearing a ROOM of people laughing at that phrase would be truly sickening.

So I think some people agree with me that that particular phrase was Not OK. So what about the fact that she won, suddenly made it ok?

What about a woman turning around and stabbing her rapist makes what he did less of a rape?
What about winning a court case and sending some pack rapists to jail makes a teenage girl less of a victim, and more of someone who “stole someone’s future’?
What about a successful life makes someone an unbelievable victim?

The minimisation of the trauma of assault due to surrounding circumstances is common.

“She was asking for it”
“They were friends for a long time”
“He had a history of promiscuity”

But this whole “winners aren’t victims”thing is more subtle, and just as dangerous.

Bad things happen to successful people. Ask anyone who works with domestic violence cases. Some of the shiniest homes with the biggest incomes have hidden bruises inside.
People who are in the spotlight due to great success are not immune to the cruelties of the world.

And this is REALLY important people. The person who is smart, and eloquent, and able to fight back is NO LESS a victim than those who cannot. Rape is still rape.

It doesn’t matter how many fights, or court cases, or reputations you win back.
The person who perpetrated an assault, did something WRONG.
No matter how many rights happen after that, the wrong doesn’t go away.

Quit making this about the victim's actions, before, after or during the event. Let’s start looking at the perpetrators.


Simoon said...

I wonder what the people who think this is not a rape joke would consider to be an actual rape joke?

ChundaMars said...

I'm a gamer, so first read about this "joke" (I use that term very loosely) on gaming sites, and I was heartened to note that the gaming sites themselves were quick to point out how inappropriate the "joke" was.

Some of the people commenting on the sites... not so much. But hey, hopefully if they're leading from the top it will change eventually!

Anonymous said...

"What about a woman turning around and stabbing her rapist makes what he did less of a rape?"

No and its never funny but its an excellent outcome from a shitty situation and the problem is solved. Stab properly and he won't do it again.

This assumes the woman had enough self respect to not look like a hooker and be sober. The world is a shitty place and you need to ensure you look after yourself as the first defence.


ChundaMars said...

I had no idea that every time I drank too much it was because I had no self respect. Thanks so much 3:16. I'm enlightened now.

Kathryn said...

It's interesting how many men don't recognise rape when it's mentioned in popular culture. I don't know if you watch Game of Thrones, but in the "red wedding" scene discussed widely in social media (and in most of Westeros' weddings) there is a "bedding". In this case, the bride's father announced that it was time for the bedding. There was a shot where the husband looks away from his wife, laughing, while she just sits there in shock and apprehension. Both are carried towards the bed. You see him laughing and joking. You don't see her response. The obvious message is that he's cool with it, and that it doesn't matter what she thinks.

Afterwards, there's a discussion between two other (older) guests, where the male guest tells the female guest it's something all brides endure on their wedding night. "I'm sure you endured yours with grace."

One of the men I watched it with *did not understand* that this was rape. He also said that both parties endure it. Sure, but this doesn't make it *not rape*!!!

I have yet to ask the other people I watched it with to find out what they understood from the scene. I was just shocked at how I thought it was blatantly obvious, and someone else just didn't see it.

Rebecca said...

Thanks for your blog Scuba Nurse, I've been thinking about it on and off over the weekend. Rape jokes are never funny, and whether or not the gamer understood his comment as a reference to rape, it had that connotation. Having said that, triggers are very individual and it has stuck with me that the very words you never say to patients for fear of triggering them, are words that I held on to as a survival mantra. It will be over soon, nothing lasts forever. keep breathing, it will be over soon. I have a particular fondness for these words and the truth they held for me.

So I started to think about triggers and, in particular, trigger warnings on the internet and what they mean and I came upon a really interesting Hand Mirror blog from 2012 which I would absolutely link to this if I knew how - sorry! It was about the usefulness or otherwise of trigger warnings. The one aspect that it didn't cover though, was something I started to figure out when I found myself kinda patting myself on the back for not being 'triggered' on the reading of your blog, despite the 'massive' trigger warning. i was pleased with myself for getting through the post, even though I deal with sexual abuse and rape trauma fairly frequently in my work. And what i figured out was that i was pleased because, when I see 'trigger warning' at the top of a post, what is being referenced is my disability, my potential inability to read the material and engage in the debate without having nightmares afterwards, and the ongoing (though - yay - infrequent) effects of trauma on me. And while being pleased with myself is nice, I caught myself wondering why we would reference someones PTSD to warn them, instead of referencing the content as a warning? Why reference the trauma, instead of the crime?

Anonymous said...

Kati, its 2013. You should be grateful you live in a society where what you think matters. Much of the world still doesn't care about women at all. That raises the question of whether some rapist thug in the civilised west, who we would hope knows better, is worse that a man in a primitive culture that doesn't. I personally think he is but maybe we are reverting because both sexes don't take morals seriously any more.


Simoon said...

Here's the "trigger warning: trigger warnings" post, which I think is the one being discussed:

Scuba Nurse said...

Rebecca that is a very interesting point about "this will be over soon." It is a phrase I also choose to use in my own life for myself. I have “Nothing is forever” on my mirror. But the use of it by someone else to me tells me that they do not care about my ability to tolerate or control the situation, just that I am a passive receiver of whatever treatment they are doling out.
A really good point about the "trauma" rather than the crime being the "trigger" that I focused on. I personally do this because that has been my experience. I’ve been hurt several times in similar ways. Only one still triggers me, and it was because of the way my brain has held onto the trauma, no specifically what occurred at the time. Just my personal understanding of triggers, and I totally understand that this changes per person.

Scuba Nurse said...

3:16 so far you have managed to miss the point several times.
You have hit racism, sexism and victim blaming in your comments in a wonderful medly of what I like to call "troll bingo". Thank you to everyone ignoring them, they require no reponse. Any further comments without a point attacking people will be deleted without warning.

Anonymous said...

@kati if you read the book, it's not quite that bad (more like a stag/hen do). obviously your point is still valid though, as most people do not have that context. and the author has other things to answer for!