Kink in exile

Notes from a kinky nomad

Every two minutes

A couple of years ago the internet decided to be aware of sexual assault and livejournal exploded with posts that said “I am a survivor.”  That’s it — just four words.  At first it seemed kind of random and self indulgent, but then I read those four words a dozen times, two dozen; some of these women talked about rape and wrote about recovery, others never mentioned it before or since.  I knew, in theory, that a woman is sexually assaulted every two minutes in America*, but I had never visualized that data before.  A week later, like most things on the internet, people lost interest and the meme passed.  

I had reason to think about the effects of sexual assault recently, and it’s an interesting thing especially when it comes to play.  A lot of people have spoken to BDSM as a way to heal, and I can see that, but it doesn’t work that way for me.  I do my healing out of the dungeon, but beyond that, I come to kink as fantasy and erotic theater.  I don’t need permission to do the things I do, I just need a stage.  

Specific incidences of sexual violence are something I can heal from similarly to other trauma; it’s a type of healing our society supports.  Rape culture on the other hand is too prevalent, too constant to get over.  I wrote about it before (here for example), but what I mean by rape culture is the situation in which women are told to be careful because it is assumed that men will rape.  Women are told not to drink or stay out late because it is assumed that men will get drunk and violent, especially after dark.  It’s that moment when you realize that you can say yes and get fucked or you can say no and still get fucked that will make you go mad in the end.  That baseline fear that causes you to pick the well lit but longer rout, decline a drink from someone you might be interested in, and go to the ladies room in packs.  

I guess this post is a little premature since Sexual Assault Awareness Month isn’t until April, but in the mean time, I’d like to challenge you to imaging what the world would be like if we weren’t taught fear.

And for what it’s wroth — I’m a survivor…

* Somewhere in America, a woman is raped every 2 minutes, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.  How long did it take you to read this post?

Written by kinkinexile

March 26, 2009 at 9:22 pm

4 Responses

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  1. My last roommate went through the world in fear. She was taught to fear by her mother, and it was very difficult to watch. It could also be hard to deal with. Nothing like being scolded for leaving the deadbolt unlocked once, and don’t even think of trying to hide a key for a friend to let himself in.

    After enough time, I distilled the difference in our worldviews down to one dichotomy: people either believe that the world is a place to fear, or they believe that it is a place of wonder. I respect the world and it’s power, and some of it bothers me (quite a bit, e.g. your topic), but I don’t fear it.

    There are times when I am afraid, and often don’t act as a result, but I’ve been working to slowly deconstruct those responses. I honestly couldn’t imagine going through the same process if I had been taught that it’s not safe to walk from your front door to your car without a man.

    I don’t know what the solution is to fixing our rape culture, but it’s hard to read “Insecure at Last” book and not come out the other side angry about the state of violence against women.


    March 27, 2009 at 12:51 am

  2. “…but what I mean by rape culture is the situation in which women are told to be careful because it is assumed that men will rape. Women are told not to drink or stay out late because it is assumed that men will get drunk and violent, especially after dark.”

    This ‘rape culture’ is always something I disliked – it causes too many people to live in unfounded fear. I knew girls who were terrified to do *anything* back in college, because of this all present rape fear. For some people it was crippling.

    My own mother was *extremely* paranoid about this – I wasn’t even supposed to let my male friends who she knew in the house if she was out. (as if, were they to rape me, they wouldn’t just drag me into the yard, or get me at the sump where we hung out, or the millions of other places that were not my home), I wasn’t supposed to go to their houses (of course I did, I was a teenager, I lied my ass off) and to this day, she’s horribly afraid of the fact that I take the bus home alone, that I wait for it alone, that I walk around Manhattan by myself at night (as though Long Island at night is any safer? One of LI’s serial killers lived within walking distance of my house, and he and I both had the same job at the same place in high school, though about 30-40 years apart). Though my mother also has a very 1970’s notion of what the city is like, and a strong vein of subsumed racism that most of the white people on Long Island seem to have – that I have friends up in Washington Heights and Harlem, or that I go down to Alphabet City scares the shit out of her. Because you know. Black men. Because that makes perfect sense. *sigh*

    And part of it pisses me off, because it seems to have this underlying ooze of ‘Well, if you were afraid, if you were more vigilant, if you sheltered yourself, if you didn’t wait for that bus, nothing would have happened to you. See? You should live in fear, and you’ll be fine’.

    I have not been sexually assaulted, knock on wood, though I’ve had more close calls than I’d like to think about. (like that nice old man at the wrestling show, who was taking me and my friend to ‘meet the wrestlers’. My friend had the good sense to smack me on the head and drag me away after he led us around the building for 20 minutes ‘looking for the locker room’) But for a long time, I didn’t even think of them for what they were, because I figured that I would get an ‘I told you so’ for not having lived in fear. (granted, that wrestling one was pretty stupid of me.)

    And I hate that that fear lives in me at times. That when I get off the bus to walk one block to my home, I’ve got my hand on my pepper spray. That I check the bus to see if anyone is getting off at my stop and that my heart leaps when I see a man walking in the same direction as me. That when waiting for said bus that someone walking by and asking the time makes me nervous and angry.

    I wonder if men have this same sort of fear at times?

    It also bothers me that only girls are ever warned about this. People get attacked all the time. People, not just women. Women and children and young men and old ladies and hobos (is it still pc to say hobo?) and CEOs and students. Maybe we should all just be told to be cautious and aware. I could spike a boys drink as easily as he could spike mine, probably easier, since boys aren’t constantly thinking about these things – I’ve read dozens of article in women’s magazines about how I should watch my drink. All Maxim talks about is boobies.

    Wendy Blackheart

    March 27, 2009 at 1:40 am

  3. I am not a survivor. But I couldn’t count the number of friends I have who are on both hands and feet – I would run out of digits.

    I have a deeply ingrained fear of Things Coming Out Of The Dark. I’m not sure how much of this is from living in a rape culture and how much of it was my experiences as a very nervous, very imaginative child.

    I was not brought up to be afraid of people, or of men in particular, although I was always told to be safe, be responsible, and stay alert. Before I moved to New York I took a self defense class, but beyond that was simply the reminder: be safe. Don’t do anything stupid. I do take different routes in cities when it’s late at night, and I do stay alert pretty much all the time when I’m by myself, but I actually often feel safer in cities than I do in the middle of the woods.

    It took me a while to realize that the things I’m afraid of aren’t actually people. I am afraid of wild and wacky things, like dinosaurs and tentacles in drainpipes. Things that don’t exist, but that I still believed in as a child. Once I realized I could separate that feeling of fear from the idea that men might come out of the dark and rape me, I felt incredibly more empowered. Men, after all, are not scary monsters with inch-long teeth and supernatural powers. And I am not a small, defenseless, or meek woman.

    I don’t walk alone down dark streets. I don’t take drinks from strangers; I take drinks from the bartender. I do all the little things women are taught to do. I know women are taught these things because of the deeply pervasive issue of rape culture, but I have always done them with the same sort of attitude that makes me wear my seat belt and drive carefully. But how do we teach women that they can be cautious without having to be afraid? Is fear an essential ingredient of caution?


    March 27, 2009 at 10:03 am

  4. Grrr. Whenever I start thinking about this stuff I get so angry that I can’t ever say anything coherent. All I can do is rant.

    I have been trying to practice living without fear recently. I’ve been practicing a lot of things like that. It’s not easy, but it really does feel liberating, like I’m finally demanding my fair space in society.


    March 27, 2009 at 8:19 pm

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