‘The scene in the Marabar Caves is a good substitute for violence.’ – E.M. Forster
‘Rape culture is the objectification of women, which is part of a dehumanizing process that renders consent irrelevant.’
When a man was jailed and placed on the sex offenders register for life in America, recently, for ejaculating into a woman’s water bottle, the woman whose water it was said: ‘I feel it was a form of rape.’
This really got me thinking about rape and how it can be ‘subjective’. The woman ‘felt’ his act was ‘a form of rape’ and he got punished as if it were. But what he did does not fit the legal definition of rape, which requires penetration of an orafice by a penis or finger or implement.
I then got into a discussion on the Feministe blog, about ‘rape culture’. I said that I did not feel able to state my views on this matter (i.e. that ‘rape culture’ doesn’t exist) as I would get ejected from the blog and/or called various names/insulted.
The response from the moderator was:
‘Asshole runs all the way across the gender spectrum. So there are plenty of women out there who want to contribute to discussions about sexual assault, and who care deeply about those issues, but who believe really incredibly abhorrent things (perhaps “women are asking for it” or “rape is a biological imperative” or “rape is an individual act and there is no such thing as a culture that enables it” etc etc). It’s each woman’s right to believe whatever it is that she believes, but it is not the right of every single woman in the world to spew those beliefs in any space she pleases. This space focuses on feminism, something that I believe is good for all women, but is not something that all women everywhere agree with or support; a lot of women are outright hostile to feminism and to other women. I don’t think I need to let them say whatever they want in a feminist space just because they identify as women. That is counterproductive to the purpose of this blog, which is to discuss issues at least partially through a feminist lens. It’s one thing to challenge that; it’s another to throw out the same shit we’ve all heard before (“rape culture doesn’t exist,” etc) and expect the entire comment thread to cater to the topic that you want to talk about’
Previously, I had got into a spot of bother discussing with a woman on her blog, about the way she portrayed men who ‘tried it on’ with her in various ways. How she presented the complex issue of ‘consent’ only and always as predatory men needing consent from women to conduct a range of sexual acts, or else they would be labelled rapists. Like the woman in the water bottle incident, this blogger said some interactions with men had left her ‘feeling abused’. This feeling seemed to take precedent over any measurement of an ‘objective’ reality. In her blog she made this statement:
‘Aside: If you’re thinking, “that bloke had a sexual abuse problem, not a differing understanding of consent,” stick with me, we’ll get to the point. If you’re thinking, “sheesh! Bloody women with her mixed signals, she deserves all she gets,” you’re in the wrong room, you want, Not Becoming a Rapist 101, down the hall.’
All these separate but linked occurrences and discussions reminded me of A Passage To India and the unspecified incident that occurs in the Marabar Caves.
Adela accuses Aziz of raping her in the Marabar caves. He always protests his innocence. At the trial, the run up to which has involved much tension between the Indian and British communities, Adela changes her mind and says he didn’t do anything, though someone, or something did hurt her. The Marabar caves represent, among other things, our inability to be omniscient, to know the cause of everything that happens to us. All we are left with is our feelings, and an echo- ‘ou-boum’.
I hear so much about rape and ‘rape culture’. I am told my perception of the world is wrong, ‘abhorrent’ even. That I need to go to ‘room 101- how not to be a rapist’. I have been likened to a ‘rapist’ on more than one occasion, simply for holding certain views, for uttering certain words.
I don’t know what is going on in this world.
All I can hear is an echo-ouboum.