Take Your Seat


[Trigger warning: Rape apologism, rape] I wasn’t planning on saying anything about Todd Akin. Everyone and their mother has said enough about it, and I didn’t want to be one more voice in the crowd. I certainly didn’t feel it necessary to say what everyone else was already saying: that Akin’s comments were not only medically incorrect, but a sign of a culture that still doesn’t believe women, that still thinks of rape survivors as somehow “deserving of what happened,” and that sees support for victims/survivors as unnecessary and a waste of money.

I wasn’t going to say anything because I was tired;  I was worn out. Yet another Republican politician in a long string of Republican politicians, pushing terrible, victim-blaming views about one of the most horrific crimes a person can experience. Sigh, just another day as a feminist, right?

But then Brian Fischer, the face of the American Family Association, said this:

When you have a real, genuine rape, a case of forcible rape, a case of assault rape, where a woman has been violated against her will, through the use of physical force … there’s a very delicate and complex mix of hormones that take place that are released in a woman’s body and if that gets interfered with it may make it impossible for her or difficult in that particular circumstance to conceive a child.

All those adjectives. All those modifiers. All those descriptions that make it clear that there’s only one situation in this man’s head where rape is really rape and only one situation in which people are really victims. It's not "rape rape" if it wasn't a scary stranger threatening you with a knife, right?

I admit: I heard that, and I got angry. I snapped just a little bit. And I decided to make a rule, because I’m a good little Baptist and that's what we do: we make rules.

Here's the new rule for everyone and their dog:

If you think rape needs an adjective in front of it, if you think rape requires a qualifier, you need to stop talking about rape.

You are not allowed to open your mouth on this subject again until you’re ready to accept that rape needs no qualifiers, that "date rape" is still rape, that "acquaintance rape" is still rape, that "statutory rape" is still rape, and that all rape is really rape. “Forcible,” “genuine,” “honest,” or “legitimate” have no place in front of the word “rape.”

Rape is rape is rape is rape is rape is rape.

If you’re sputtering a word of protest about how legally we need to have definitions, how we need to have those adjectives, pause your hands on the keys and listen: your seat is over there, along with all the other people in the world who need to stop talking and start listening.

The woman who got black out drunk at a party and a man saw that as an opportunity? That is rape.

The woman whose husband forces her into painful, uncomfortable sex, even when she’s told him no, over and over? That is rape.

The man whose girlfriend refuses to take no for an answer and keeps badgering him until he says yes? That is rape.

The man in prison being forced to have sex under threat of violence and ostracizing? That is rape.

And so on and so on and so on. If someone is being made to have sex against their will, it is rape. Full stop.

When you place a qualifier in front of rape, especially if it implies that there is something we call rape that’s not really rape, I don’t care what good things you’ve otherwise done or said: you are no longer an ally to survivors of assault. When you insist on qualifying rape in some way, as though to lessen the blow, you are not a friend to those in recovery, to those whose lives have been forever changed because they happen to be in the same room as a rapist.

Your arguments about what rape “really is” must take a backseat to the pain of survivors. When you put a qualifier on rape, you are actively hurting people.

Your cone of silence is over there. Go use it.