The Marabar Caves All Over Again

Posted: April 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

‘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.’

(Man jailed for ejaculating into a woman’s water bottle)

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.

  1. I obviously think it would be dangerous to post there, but I will post here for the sake of pointing it out:
    PrettyAmiable said (right after Jill):

    Here’s what I don’t get, QRG. You’ve made it clear when you’ve posted on Feministe that you don’t believe rape culture exists. I don’t believe, for example, that unicorns exist. It never occurs to me to seek out a website for people who really, really think there are unicorns, read their posts about how best to address unicorns when meeting them in public, then comment about how they’re all wrong only to post on my own blog about how people who believe in unicorns are all douchebags because they called me an asshole or some variant.

    Notice the quick and easy transition from “Feminist” to “Rape Culture True Believers.” To further her analogy: This isn’t a one-horned-horse-creature blog with believers in Unicorns. This is a Beautiful Creatures blog.

    TLDR: Believing in rape culture is apparently required brainwashing to be a feminist.

    • yeah I saw that but I think I have been banned from commenting so can’t reply!

      How funny that she likens ‘believing in rape culture’ to ‘believing in unicorns’ when unicorns don’t exist! And like you say brings feminism down to an act of ‘faith’ not a rational judgement.

  2. elissa says:

    Then you have another bumble-bee such as Hugo, on a blog called “The Good Men Project”(no less), providing instructions on how to appropriately stare at breasts, female breasts to be precise, and the acceptable unit of measurement is in seconds, for if not, then you too could be an active participant in “rape culture”.

    I’ve now seen enough of these mentions and inclusions to accept the fact that this is indeed an industry where new product must be continuously created to meet the demand of the political animals’ voracious appetite.

    • Oh god that was turgid reading. Thanks Elissa. It is relentless! And what about men looking at each other? Is that allowed? I expect some men would be upset if you only stared at their bods for three seconds, after all the work they put in to them!

  3. chava says:

    I don’t get the analogy to the man who ejaculated in the water bottle.

    He was NOT prosecuted for a form of rape (sexual assault, I think). She just said she felt that it was a violation/rape–which just reflects the pervasiveness of that particular metaphor in the language and the blurry boundaries between/around the law and individual experiences. Anyway, he got six months, three years probation and the sex offender registry. I think the max penalty for rape is something like 10 years. Also, if you want “objective reality”? They lab-tested the water bottle for the guy’s semen.

    • I think that being put on the sex offenders list for life was quite extreme chava.

      She said she felt as if she’d been raped and I think the law responded as if she had too. Yes max penalties are high for rape but people often don’t get the maximum penalty. like you suggest it is easier to tell if semen has been deposited in a bottle than in a person!

  4. haha,

    As far as Hugo Skeezer, isn’t anyone else sick of how he talks down to other men?

    He brags about screwing students on his desk—-it’s okay when he does it because he is a feminist but all other guys are filthy pigs……

  5. redpesto says:

    3 seconds, eh? Neither more nor less. It sounds like the instructions for operating The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch (from Monty Python and the Holy Grail). Elissa’s right: there’s an entire career path involved, like some mutant version of ‘The Game’.

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