Note: I have deliberately made this title too abstract and nerdy for unintelligent people who stalk my Facebook to figure out what I'm talking about, click on the link and then use it as an excuse to call me a whore. More on that in a minute.
I always used to find it hilarious when people take whatever reasonable, rational, if slightly provocative and satirical crap reasonable, rational, if slightly provocative and satircal people say, invert and convolute it so much it's more twisted than Hitler's Manifesto and then attack it mercilessly.
Well, I did find it hilarious until I found myself at the unpleasant receiving end of this as I became a more reasonable, rational if slightly provocative and satirical person with a humble but significant presence in Perth's cybersphere.
For a lot of my life I've tried to shy away from the word 'victim', especially to describe myself, because a) my life ain't that bad b) the word victim is quite melodramatic and in my mind as connotations to war and rape and violence none of which have been a particularly major part of my life and c) I'm an insecure little bitch who has been beaten (metaphorically) into insecurity and repeatedly chastised for, ya know...feeling sorry for myself.
A lot of my job as being a human being with opinions that nobody seems to like is I have to do a lot of clarifying. I feel like less of a social rights activist and more of a dictionary - specifically, the kind of dictionary who is set to the default 'no, you're wrong, shut up' setting, which tends to irritate people who are wrong and who really need to shut up. But here are a few definitions for y'all before you feel justified in hitting Facebook with more 'Lady Starlight is a whore' comments:
VICTIM - a victim is a person who suffers at the hands of others. Note this definition does not describe how much suffering and the type of suffering, which is why it is perfectly legitimate (i.e. not melodramatic or attention seeking) to describe victims of war, victims of rape AND victims of cyberbullying as VICTIMS, as the word victim only notes that someone is suffering and does not note the type or extent or severity of said suffering.
VICTIM-BLAMING - when a VICTIM is blamed for their own misery, i.e. by pretending there is no perpetrator or by somehow accusing a victim of provoking a perpetrator, thus excusing said perpetrator of responsibility. See also: rape culture, sexism, misogyny, racism, homophobia, and everything else that is wrong with the world.
RAPE CULTURE - a culture that sympathises with the perpetrators rather than the victims of sexual assault via victim blaming.This 'rape culture' attitude can be applied to pretty much every other kind of victimization and consequent victim blaming, especially considering that a lot of abuse aimed at people, especially women, gays and other non-white, non-male and non-hetero people is sex related.
As you may have noticed, these definitions are very different to the definitions the majority of people seem to be working on, in which a victim is an 'attention-seeker', victim-blaming is 'justice' and rape culture is 'something the feminists made up because I personally have never raped anyone'.
Another concept I will introduce to you is the concept of 'hegemon'; the hegemon is the 'ruling class', as in the class that dictates the rules (both legal and social) and are protected by these rules. The hegemons of our society are, naturally, the young, white, wealthy, hetero men, although it is a good thing to mention that these said young, white, wealthy hetero men aren't always the villains of the story; a lot of my friends actually fall into this category. But a lot of the shit that happens in this society is a result of people, with their own set of twisted priorities and inferiority complexes, defending the hegemon even when they are in the wrong - because, unfortunately, a lot of our rapists, murderers and other assholes generally come from this hegemonic class of young, white, wealthy hetero men. It is in our benefit to defend these young, white, wealthy hetero men because a lot of them turn into the old, white, wealthy hetero men who run this society and have all of this society's money and assets in their expensive custom-tailored suit pockets but...ya know, that's not how justice and society is supposed to work.
When I and other intelligent educated people talk about 'rape culture' we're not talking about some nonexistant place where little boys are taught from the cradle to fuck anything that isn't wearing a burqa (and sometimes even people that are wearing burqas), which is certainly how our opponents like to depict it. Rape culture is about defending the hegemon in every case of alleged rape that ever pops up; so this means blaming female promiscuity or drunkneness for rape even when out of those three things promiscuity and drunkneness are not the crimes and rape is most definitely a crime. Rape culture is about sympathising with the 'upstanding young men' who have had their lives 'ruined' and were forced to watch as their futures 'fell apart in front of their eyes'...and ignoring how the victim of these
upstanding young men rapists might be going through some (undeserved) shit too. Rape culture is about telling young women what they can and cannot do, what they should and should not wear, where and when they should be to avoid rape, instead of telling young men to ASK FIRST and CEASE AND DESIST if the magic 'y-word' doesn't pop up. Rape culture is society's misguided attempt to be politically correct and redefine rape as a gender-neutral crime even when the number of female rapists is so small as to be statistically insignificant and male victims of rape are mostly the victims of male-perpetrated rape.
It's astonishing how something so reasonable can be twisted into something to be used against you.
I'm not well known for staying on everyone's good side; in fact, I have quite a reputation for pissing people off. Quite recently one of my dear classmates thought it was hilarious to badly misquote my blog, ridicule me behind my back and call me a whore, which sadly a good majority of the rest of my classmates thought was hilarious and cheered him on. Naturally I got very upset at my so-called friends for thinking this person quite justified in calling me a whore, and kind of...flipped out. Although one thing that did cheer me up was that they couldn't really bully me without twisting the truth. My words and my meaning was so twisted I won't even claim copyright on the stuff they quoted, and that bit about me being a whore...put it this way, about four guys have seriously attempted to hit on me through high school, I happened to only like one of them back and the rest took that personally because, ya know, I'm a girl and an unfuckable feminist and if I'm not supposed to be up for kissing anyone until a wedding ring magically gets all my hormones and nerve endings working, and if I kiss one I'm obligated to kiss them all. Ahaha...no.
That scenario above right there...yeah, that's a consequence of rape culture. What I want is never considered by the people who take the details of my not-very-personal-anymore personal life personally; whatever anyone does with anyone doesn't mean that that said person wants to do ANYTHING with ANYONE. People are always like 'what's the difference between the guys you like and all the other guys you rejected?' and I'm like I LIKED THE GUYS I LIKE AND I DON'T LIKE THE GUYS I REJECTED...and for good reason because one of them is now on the web calling me a whore when he actually didn't get anywhere with me. Because female sexual agency is such a no-no when it comes to protecting the hegemon - because female sexual agency means that some hegemons will have to suffer through the extremely common and very human suffering of getting rejected, especially when said hegemon is in the habit of cyberbullying 'whores' - instead of people jumping to the very rational conclusion of 'she flirted with/kissed/slept with/etc etc that guy because she liked him' it's all like 'she flirted with/kissed/slept with/etc etc that guy but won't flirt with/kiss/sleep with me even though that guy and me have the same [insert arbitrary irrelevant things in common here]'. Never in the history of the world has a girl gone up to a guy and said 'I hear you kissed a blonde last Tuesday. I'm blonde. Why haven't you kissed me? Whore.' - or at least, no girl has ever said that at been taken as seriously as the boys who say such nonsensical shit. When I broke the mould as that little unfuckable virgin that somehow managed to get four guys to hit on her despite being the most shameless nerd ever I somehow became a whore, even though I can pretty much guarantee I'm not the only person who has kissed anyone in the history of high school students (ain't that a revelation) and I know I'm one of the few virgins who made it through high school and yet I'm somehow the one with the whore reputation. Not that I particularly mind, because I see nothing wrong with being a whore or a virgin or whatever I want to be, but I can't help but notice the hypocrisy of being labelled as both and being at the receiving end of all the abuse hurled at sluts and and prudes. And being a victim of all this rape culture and slut shaming led me to...victim blaming.
So yesterday I was flipping through some timeline pictures of some atheist page on facebook and found a meme that I thought was really funny and cynical, and shared it on my Facebook page.
If you didn't get the joke it was aimed at SUICIDE BOMBERS and other RELIGIOUS CRAZIES, none of which I know personally or friended on Facebook so I really didn't think I was offending anyone. If anything, I was defending the millions of people, myself included, who are constantly suppressed by religion imposing itself onto everything and everyone that has ever and will ever exist. Instead it was read by people as saying IF YOU ARE AT ALL RELIGIOUS PLEASE JUMP OF A CLIFF which is, naturally, quite an offensive statement.
The people suddenly jumping to the defence of suicide bombers and telling me off about how rude it is to tell suicide bombers to commit...suicide...was a bit concerning, to be honest, as was the number of people who agreed with such sentiments. I'd been called a whore by one of my classmates, who has also accused me of being gay (not offended, but did open me up to a lot of anti-LGBT abuse which is pretty full on) and told me on more than one occasion that I should 'go die'. And everyone thought that he was funny, true, justified, or at the very least protected by 'freedom of speech'. If he's protected by 'freedom of speech' to humiliate and mock someone behind their back, call them out by name and publicly label them a 'mad whore' and 'bigot' (and he's not, there's this thing called libel), then I should think that I am at least protected by this very arbitrary freedom of speech to have a dig at religious extremists. apparently not. I repost a bit of atheist humour aimed at nobody in particular and everyone gets their knickers in a knot.
The reason? Victim-blaming. Victim blaming also extends to the idea that if you are offended by something you are not allowed to do anything that can be twisted into anything offensive, which is to say victims can do absolutely nothing or risk the legitimacy of their claims being questioned. 'How can she possibly be offended by rape threats, death threats and slut shaming if she posts this picture that is in no way offensive but what the hell I'm gonna go ahead and call it 'rude'?' Accusing someone of 'double standards' is the quickest way to defend the hegemon and dabble in a bit of victim-blaming, and is also a very effective way of silencing the victim in question.
And so yes, I'm hurt. I'm hurt that people are all too willing to cheer on bullies and are all too eager to bite my head off if I say anything that is just a little politically incorrect. I'm hurt that people are more interested in defending suicide bombers than a victim of cyber bullying. I'm hurt that people sympathise with the abstract hegemon instead of a girl they know by name and spent four years at school with. And I'm hurt that people are giving in to rape culture and victim-blaming and all the while saying that such things only exist in the feminist imagination. It doesn't. Because whilst society continues to defend the hegemon whether or not he is in the right or in the wrong, whilst society constantly looks at the victim instead of the perpetrator for justification of crime, whilst society continues to neutralise gendered topics and gloss over the unpalatable details in the name of political correctness...these nasty words have meaning. They describe what we are and what we have become.