Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Very Simple Concepts Day: Don't Get Raped!

Welcome to Very Simple Concepts Day at the old jaw jaw: perhaps a recurring event! In this series, I retread well-covered ground, in the hopes that repeating observations that many have made before me will somehow help the forces of goodness reach critical mass and triumph over evil.

Today we will be discussing why my Facebook feed being filled up with people telling me not to get raped makes me want to pluck out my surgically-enhanced eyeballs and throw them at people who are idiots!

(That last comment is why I still get out of bed in the morning.)

You know what? Fuck this. I am too tired to explain rape culture, to explain that strangers jumping out of bushes are extremely far down the list of people you need to protect yourself from, especially when the entire feminist blogosphere has done such a good job of articulating this already.

Instead, I propose that every time someone reminds you that it is your job to avoid being raped, you come back with one of the following:
LADIES: don't risk spending any time alone with your boyfriend, as he is statistically more likely to rape you than anyone else is! 
FELLAS: don't risk getting drunk, as you are statistically more likely to rape someone while you're under the influence of alcohol!
I'm sure we can come up with hundreds of these.

For people who don't spend a significant portion of their free time thinking about rape culture (it is true, these people exist!), I do understand that sharing this sort of thing feels like a moral obligation - offering information about how women can protect themselves. Because the popular conception of rape is the Stranger Jumping Out Of The Bushes model, because the general public isn't aware that the rapist has a prior acquaintance with his victim in circa 80% of cases - and because of the Just World Hypothesis, whereby bad things don't happen to good people - we can convince ourselves that figuring out the rules will protect us from harm.

Even if they are in the minority, stranger rapes do occur; you could argue that sharing information like this, about a specific threat, is worth it if it saves even one person from being attacked.

But on a society-wide level, you have to balance the possible good of such warnings against the definite harm inflicted on women as a whole by being constantly lectured on keeping themselves safe, circumscribing their behaviour, tailoring their whole lives around avoiding sexual assault - all of which carries the unavoidable implication that, should you be raped, and if you failed to follow each and every one of these rules, you will be responsible for the crime committed against you.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Privilege, illustrated

1. A few years back I ended up in A&E with an extremely exciting heart rhythm (250 beats per minute, not that I'm bragging). I got propped up in bed with about twenty electrodes superglued all over my body, hooked up to some mightily terrifying machines monitoring every facet of my heart's function, before being taught a very simple method of halting a supraventricular tachycardia (basically, make a hamster face and pretend you're really constipated). Five hours later I was deemed fit as a fiddle and sent home.

I was working for a deeply evil company at this point, which gloried in paying me as close to nothing as legally possible - so despite my weakened and freaked out condition, a taxi was not an option, and I took the tube home alone.

It was only when I looked in my bathroom mirror on my return that I realised I still had every single electrode still attached, with several wires snaking over my torso. One can literally be shot in the face on the Victoria line for less. Lucky for me, I am white, and thus remain unshot in the face!

2. I appreciate that this might make me sound a bit odd, but I actually quite enjoy going to the crotch rot clinic. I'm not particularly self-conscious about strangers peering up my hoo-ha; I get a silly-but-enjoyable Strong Independent Lady Taking Charge Of Her Sexuality And Reading Cosmo vibe from the whole thing; and it's always nice to get a text message informing you that you don't have chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, herpes, or HIV. Plus: free condoms!

Now: some things leave my handbag after only a short stay, some pop in and out on a regular basis, but the net flow is of things going into my handbag and never seeing the light of day again. Current contents include:
 - a map of Walthamstow (last used November 2013)
 - three lipsticks (last worn August 2013)
 - an unopened pack of razor blades (bought in a weak moment in January 2014)
 - six or seven knitting patterns (various)
 - two sizeable envelopes stuffed with free condoms.

It's conceivable I'll transfer said prophylactics to their allotted home at some point or other, but until then, I will be prepared for al fresco fucking wherever I go.

Lucky for me, I am cis and white, unlikely to be profiled by the police as a sex worker, and so don't have to worry that possession of condoms will be used as proof of intent to commit heinous crimes! - they are awesome, support them.
This is your daily reminder that, while the world is rubbish, it is more rubbish to some people than it is to others. Which is rubbish.