Sexual Violence


So…I’ve been making some snarky jokes and getting upset about the new TSA backscatter machines and the “enhanced” patdowns.  But I thought I’d be a little more honest with what is upsetting to me in this situation.

I learned about these changes after we had made plans to travel to CHI.  I didn’t have a lot of choice in rescheduling or driving down.

I knew there was a chance I would be selected for additional screening.

At that point my choice is, be viewed naked by someone I can’t see, have someone touch me in ways I may not consent to, be fined 11k and face civil charges for trying to leave the area.

As someone who was sexually assaulted as a child, these choices suck.  As someone with anxiety, these choices suck.  Hell, as a regular Joe…the choices suck.  People who are powereful rarely feel choices like this.  The consequences aren’t that bad, or they quickly return to a world in which they set out the options.

I want to take this moment to realize how far reaching a power is if it can make someone take these choices.  Maybe their job is at an airport concession.  Or they have to travel for work.  Or they are trying to see someone for the last time.  There are lot of reasons a person might not have a choice in refusing this screening.  There are even more reasons a person might not be able to bear to have this happen to them.

I don’t think about what happened to me that often.  I don’t experience strong flash backs, but it does come up from time to time, and it affects me in ways that can really hurt.  Standing in line, I was trying to force a smile so that I wouldn’t be selected.  It felt an awful lot like that bus ride when I was young…hoping not to be targeted.

I just can’t think of a good reason to make anyone feel that way.

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Well, probably more than one. But it’s hard to put these kinds of losses to numbers.

The PM of Canada, Stephen Harper, is scheduled to make a formal apology for the residential schools in which first nations children were taken away from families, subject to abuse and neglect, and robbed of their culture.

Lest you mistake this for worthy progress, the churches who ran these schools began closing schools and making formal apologies about 30 years ago.

-sly

He wasn’t supposed to be there. I don’t recall exactly why. If I think about it hard enough, his stop should have been a mile back. The bus was nearing my house, and I was at least slightly concerned.

He wanted our attention so badly. He was a bully, a clown. He was also capable of being very mean. I think he was held back, or at least he was large for his age. I was small.

5th percentile small. Off the charts small. They actually drew my line in the margins when I went to the doctor.

I don’t recall exactly how it began, or why. All I know is that I recall being very scared as he moved around, hoping that I would be safe. He sat down next to me.

He sat down next to five of us, boys and girls alike, all in turn. In the third grade, I wasn’t entirely sure what had happened. We were bundled up like snowmen, but the intent was unmistakable. Possessive, hostile, hurtful.

We got off the bus, but he still wanted to play. He called after us. We ran to our parents.

We spent the next day in very serious tones, talking to the adults. I think we all cried.

In many ways, we were lucky. He was already a problem child, we were the good kids. Our parents held clout, and there was no doubt what would happen once we told. All together, we were believed.

We shouldn’t have been lucky. Luck, privilege, should have nothing to do with being believed as a survivor of sexual assault. The right thing to do is not a scarce good to be doled out to the “right” victims, and withheld from the bad. Nobody deserves to be hurt like that, everyone deserves compassionate response after trauma.

I say this mostly because of what I have learned with age. A 3rd grader does not accidentally sit down next to fellow children on a bus and violate them. This is learned behavior. I didn’t see him for years…and while he still struck terror into me every time I saw him, it was accompanied by a growing and sickly sense of compassion.

One that did not forget my pain. One that did not demand anything. But one that told me that whatever he had done to us, had been sown in his life tenfold. I pass his house sometimes, small and rundown. I pray that he has healed. I pray that the evil done in that place might somehow be undone.

-sly

Have I ever mentioned that blogs make a crappy way to perform therapy?

Because they do.

Feministing (and i believe some other blogs as well) posted a story on another female blogger’s experience of what we shall refer to for the moment as unwanted sex.

Moe from Jezebel had posted about the Cosmo “grey rape” story, and recounts her own experience.

Ann from Feministing leads the charge for calling it rape, and explains her rationale why.

Both have clear stakes here…Moe states that for her to process the event as ultimately non-harmful to her, she can’t view it within her idea of what rape is.

Ann details why in order to maintain the category of rape in a meaningful sense, it must encompass such events fully and not as an afterthought.

Guess what?

You’re doing it wrong.

Specifically counter-claiming another person’s history is a shitty way of doing re-definitional work. If moe says it wasn’t rape, then i don’t know many people better suited to make that call. If one were to believe as ann does (and i agree) that this event ought to morally and legally fall into the category of rape, then one ought to gently leave this particular narrative off to the side for the moment.

It is far, far more productive to find people who previously dismissed their experiences of so called grey rape and have now come to see them as sexual assaults. After that individual has lost their investment in minimizing their experience, and processed the resulting backlog of trauma….

Or find an individual who finds power in labeling their experience rape even if they did not find it overwhelmingly traumatic, and who can talk to the ways in which the total victimhood complex is a harmful fiction, and that one need not be devastated to label unwanted sex as morally and legally wrong.

Those are stories that can powerfully illustrate the need to take date and acquaintance rape seriously as both and individual crime and as sexualized terrorism.

Those are moral actors who can explain in their own words why the “grey” doesn’t cut it.

It is possible to make a claim on the public language of sex and sexual violence without descending into playing “nuh-uh” with other bloggers about if they were raped or not.

It looks silly, but the awkwardness conceals a underlying lack of ethical concern. A blog is not a device for therapy. Someone else’s story is not your lever for moving the world.

Politely say you disagree. Cite another story in response. Move the conversation on to ground that isn’t so shaky, alright? This investment in “But you WERE!” is unsettling at best…

-sly

In a patriarchy, wherein one class oppresses another for its own profit, there can be no ‘consent’ between oppressor and oppressed.
-Twisty

It sounds to me like these guys would rather be having sex with their male friends,
-Comments

It’s no coincidence that “being fucked over” and “taking it up the ass” are synonymous with the most egregious examples of deceit and betrayal….Notice, too, how “bitch” has replaced the homophobic slur “cocksucker” as the most derogatory term a man can call another man. In heterodude terms, women are lower than “faggots” and as such, deserve to be brutalized and violated for the mere “thrill”. Or to put it more simply: why go out and bash “fags” when you can commit your own little hate crimes in the comfort of your own home?
-Comments

Albert is slightly different from John psychologically: rather than being a sociopathic rapist, he seems to me to have a disastrously conflated madonna/whore complex and probable OCD
-Message Board

Sorry, that’s just too disgusting. I know more than enough about human anatomy & physiology to know that the anus was designed as an exit, NOT an entrance; therefore, anal sex violates that rule completely.
-Comments

If that’s the asshat’s attitude, then I would invite him to bend over while I get the vaseline and my 10 inch thick black rubber dildo.
-Comments

[This] also explains the increasing obscenity/violence in rap and music videos, movies, etc.
-Comments

Pleasure, as well, has never been something I let be the all-important summit of to do/not to do–if this were the case the patriarchy could thrive evermore, for pleasure does not automatically parallel such things as: freedom, sexual liberation, choice, consent, needs, or will. People may receive pleasure from slapping their genitalia against a barbed wire fence–that doesn’t mean the reasoning is rooted in something sexually healthy.
-Message Board

For what it is worth I posted a comment on the article echoing the sentiment that it is rape, and upping the ante a little by listing why anal sex is bad for the recipient from a medical point of view.
-Message Board

For Best Results: Start with a chilled shaker with 5 cubes of ice, add 3 cups gin and 2 shots vermouth. Shake seven times, and empty into a chilled glass. Finish in one go, and headdesk until loss of consciousness is achieved.

-sly

PS: I’m quite purposefully not actually responding to the article itself, blameworthy as it might be.

I’m going to get back to posting more churchy stuff, but i figure i shouldn’t lose all y’all who don’t exactly do church. That’s quite alright by me…I have a long history of ignoring church for various period of time, for sundry reasons. So.

I don’t always post carnivalia, but this one is close to my heart. The 16th Carnival Against Sexual Violence is up at Marcela’s. It would be good to note that both the link, and the material that follows is possibly triggering. Do what you need to do.

Also, if you know me personally and don’t want to know about what I think about sex…do what you need to do.

I haven’t posted about this in a while. Part of this that much of what I know isn’t always mine to tell. I have posted stories here, and have taken what I believe to be appropriate literary license to obscure identities while preserving the story faithfully. But there is a limit to that. And because this blog is under a pen name, and not written anonymously…I must exhibit a preference for discretion. So this is a very different take on these issues.

Thus, what follows is a personal, yet abstract, missive on the nature of…

Cock.

But, wait! Sly, you said this was about sexual violence, not a paean to dick!

Both and, my friends, both and. This is a move to remythologize the phallus.

I first realized my sexual attraction towards men rather awkwardly. Daydreaming as I am wont to due, an internal voice posed the question bluntly as I was driving back up to school one day.

Wouldn’t you like some cock?

Well, now that you mention it, sure. And, thus, Sly became queer.* This is at least the official version of the story, and isn’t too distorted. I recall very little of this Road to the Bathhouse moment with precision, but i do have a strong sense of the suddenness with which these new feelings came upon me. A conversion, a call to the ministry, the liturgia, the work of queerdom…as the scales fell from my eyes.

Now, most of the time, it does seem like work. The thinking, the speechifying, the writing, the analysis, the protesting, the gut clenching fear that I still get every time i get ready to interrupt an expression of homophobia.

It is also very tightly bound with my sense of joy. Reading over at Queer Dewd’s place, I just kept smiling. I’d re-read articles, driving up her server traffic just to give myself an excuse to look at the hearer, just one more time. I’ll wait here while you go over and have a look. You may have to select the QueerDewd Theme if you usually read there under the SFW theme. The men, standing together in fantasized pants, restraining visible signs of arousal and energy. The lounging figure, smoking a cigarette, languishing in the view of me, us, the imagined reader. The near painful ecstasy of the figure bound up in the moment of climax. I mean, damn. I’m going to go ahead and fan myself. The joyously transgressive, over the top, sexualized to the point of ludic non-sense.

Which all leads to my actual experiences with Dick.

Worry not, dear reader…I will restrain myself from being too graphic, but some level of specificity will be necessary.

To reprise something that I said way back when in the BlowJob Wars before I realized that it was going to be what it was…there are ways of relating to male genitalia that don’t involve submission. Just like how we’ve seen how it is a failiable (yet durable) narrative and not objective fact that imagines that active sperm go to a passive egg, I beleive that it is possible to put out new imaginative conceptions (pardon the pun) of male sexual pleasure. Enveloping is different than penetrating, and as the guy furthest to the right on Queer Dewd’s header suggests…the submission, and joyous loss of power in pleasure… This is not to begin theorizing Male Pinky Sex, but to at least place some of these new images alongside the old ones. Ones that I hope are every bit as sexual and compelling as the old ones.

Sadly, I sometimes ended up relating to dick as an insistent or demanding thing, too focused on resolving the tension (i’m going to stop apologizing for puns here) rather than enjoying the particular moment of the intermediate state. If we are honest, the erection is not the natural state of the penis, nor is the male sex drive entirely unquenchable. The eternal actor of active desire is mythos. But we are deeply socialized in that myth, and much of my trouble came from a vague feeling of obligation that was never named explicitly. Without intention the part of my partners, I was imagining their pleasure as responsibility.

The Demanding Dick is part of rape culture. Some of the ways in which it gets expressed, assumed, and internalized are just negative. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with an active penis, one that is imaginatively assertive. But the Cock of Ages, the Phallus of All Consuming Desire… That has to go. The “natural” end of a erection is not climax provided by domination over a partner. The end of an erection is the negotiated result of the (combined) imagination and action of the person(s) involved in sexual action or play.

Going back to my campy pictures…one of the things that I identify with is how present the phallus is, but without specific implication. Part of the conceptual meaning of the bathhouse is the multiplicity of options. One of the ways that I read those images is to understand the voluntary nature of camp. You quite clearly don’t have to join in, as there is a safer cultural space right where you are standing. In the invitationally transgressive, the full participation and assent of the individuals involved is known by location. The come hither stare of the queer boy pin up asks you to fuck, but the objectified male is relatively safe in so far that he resides in a socially unrecognized space. You quite clearly don’t have to go there. But so far as desire will draw you into the liminal, the Campy Gay Man will welcome you. Young man, you can get yourself cleaned, you can have a good meal, you can do whatever you feel.

It’s fun to stay at the YMCA, after all.

I try to have some integrity (think philosophical unity, not moral valence here) about this, and carry this into my het relationships, where there is a different dynamic is that there is only one dick. This involves decentering cock as the primary sexual object/actor, and recapturing an element of surprise. I mean, after all, what could be a better surprise than unexpected pleasure? I don’t mean to suggest ohmyfrakinggodwhaaaat surprise, but the sort that comes from a person who does not have a sense of entitlement. For instance, what this does not mean in a queer setting is strict, or almost retributive, equality. What my male partners may enjoy receiving or doing, may not happen to be my cup of tea to receive or give. I’m pressing for dynamic models of sex, ones that allow for broad ranges of possibilities, actions, and most importantly….outcomes.

So, thus is the opening movements of a queer dude’s erotics, my efforts to understand and practice a fuller sense of consent. And dick.

Phallically yours,

-sly c

* I should note that I was not at least, in the full political sense, queer at this moment. My growing radicalization occurred later. I was embarrassingly supportive of mainstream GBLT advocacy, and unaware of the complexity of the political and social life of queerdom. Sorry, but such is the history of a callow youth.

In keeping with my ongoing commentary on children in restrictive custody, and especially the intersection of mental health, child abuse, and the state…

Go read.

Via Feministing, the ACLU and Human Rights Watch have the chilling details of an investigation into the juvinile detention centers for young women in New York.

Brutal restraint tactics, sexual abuse, inadequate and inappropriate responses to mental health issues, and more.

The isolation and trauma of restrictive custody can permantly scar a child, and this report confirms this. Enforcing this social death on young women of color is a historical tactic of white power structures, and despite the decoration of “good intentions,” this must be opposed.

-sly

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