We, the editors, take the activity surrounding the post “He’s Asking For It” very seriously. We’ve taken several days to sort through our own feelings and prejudices in order to craft our responses.
Below are statements from our founding editors, D and F.
We request that comments on this post remain respectful and relevant.
We’re sorry. I’m sorry.
I have so much to say, and I might mess up. I hope you can forgive me for any mistakes I’ve made, though I know that forgiveness must be hard right now.
We’ve seen that for the past two days, we’ve received a lot of comments on V’s post: “He Asked For It”.
(The answer is always, “no, he didn’t.” No victim asks for it to happen to them, and I can’t imagine what it must have been like to see us imply otherwise.)
Subterfuge was always a place where we could go to write about issues that felt controversial and uncomfortable for us. Our sandbox, our way to express our feelings, hopes, and ugliness.
We have found that many feminist communities start from a position of moral superiority and anger. Often, they do not examine their own nasty, ugly prejudices.
In her post V examined hers. We hated it. It was ugly. We discussed our decision for nearly a week. But we posted it because we thought it would help us examine the evilness of some deep-seated positions. Not posting it would not have made her feel it any less.
When it went live, we discussed it. I wish we had posted those discussions. You could see the side of the story we did not write.
The only way to fight our awful ignorance is to examine it, to personalize it, to understand exactly how wrong we have been.
As an editor, I should have framed the piece around a discussion. I would have addressed these prejudices in a way that made it clear that we did not endorse her position but that we acknowledged the need to have a discussion about it. As you have pointed out, this is not a lonely opinion. And we acknowledge that it is something that the feminist community does not understand.
According to Feminist Critics,
What is problematic with feminist discourse about male rape is not that they don’t discuss it at all – clearly they do – or that they don’t discuss it enough. The problem is that they [anomalise] it, that is to say, they treat it as some kind of anomalous variant of rape which, according to them, is something which normally happens to women. The latter is simply “rape”. Rape that happens to men in prison is “prison rape”. Rape that happens to men outside of prison is “male rape”. The word “female” is sometimes used as an adjective with “rape” to contrast it with male rape, but “female rape” is not used by feminists as a category designation in and of itself. It’s just “rape”. “Male rape” and “prison rape” sometimes get their own threads, effectively discoursive ghettos. But they are often excluded from threads about “rape”.
This lack of understanding doesn’t simply exist in the feminist community. It exists among traditionalist bloggers, too. The Thinking Housewife — supposedly pro-male and pro-patriarchy — expresses her view on male rape in this quote:
SPEAKING of rape, how is it possible for a woman to rape a man? As far as I know, it is physically impossible. Nevertheless, Lisa M. Lavoie, a Massachusetts teacher, has been convicted of statutory rape and will serve a three- to five-year prison term.
This is an excerpt of a comment from Ilion T:
[…] “rape” isn’t really about physical force or violence, it’s about taking that to which one is not entitled.
You ask in amazement how it is possible for a woman to rape a man. Obviously, mere overpowering force isn’t how it is accomplished; physical force is the male forte. Rather, if it is to be done, it must be by some means of which women tend to hold the advantage over men. I don’t know, psychological force or intimidation, perhaps?
Do you really imagine that the academic/Hollywood/Roissy protrayal of male sexuality is really accurate? Do you really imagine that all men are really always joyfully ready to “jump” anything which moves? Do you really imagine that a man cannot engage in sexual activity and all the while his psyche is crying out its violation?
This post — and its thoughtful and heartfelt response — shows that ignorance and the stupidity that governs our attitudes toward male rape is non-ideological. Feminists and traditionalists alike marginalize the issue. We, too, have perpetuated this insensitivity.
For that, are truly, deeply sorry.
We thank those who have commented. You have opened our eyes in an unimaginable way.
Readers, we invite you to submit guest posts. To write us emails at subterfugemagazine@gmail [dot] com. We will post what you have to tell us, if you will submit it. We want to understand you. Please help us. We welcome anything in the way of feedback. It is a lot to ask that you show compassion, but you have already done so by your responses.
We do not support laws or organizations that advocate only for women who are rape victims, and only punish men who rape women. This is a fairy tale version of the world. Women are not the only victims, men are not the only perpetrators. Rape is a universal issue. Its frequency and permutations vary somewhat across time and culture, but the act of rape is no less devastating and it should be treated with the compassion and severity it deserves–no matter who is involved.
Our ideal future is one in which gender is not the issue in rape cases, in which guilt is not assumed, in which victims are not questioned and put on trial instead of their attackers, or shamed and mocked by their communities. These are injustices.
Women have fought long and hard to get the rape laws that protect them. They are still imperfect and imperfectly executed. This is why women still grouse and rage about rape laws.
But this in no way diminishes the state of male rape victims, who have even less protection, even less credibility in the eyes of society, and even fewer safe places to turn. This is the next great hurdle in rape legislation and how our culture views rape. The shift is long overdue.
We are in this together. We, all of us, regardless of gender, need to look after and protect each other. We need to educate our children about the dangers they face from others, and to fight the ugliness that can grow within them, and teach them ways to dispel that ugliness without inflicting it on someone else. We need to create safe spaces and encourage others to join us there when they have been hurt, so that they can heal. We need to legislate effectively and fairly.
This should not be treated simply as a male or female issue. It is a humanitarian issue.