Is Rape the Worst Thing That Can Happen to a Woman?

Is Rape the Worst Thing That Can Happen to a Woman?

I’m going to tread lightly on today’s post. Rape is a very personal, very sensitive, very political issue, and emotions tend to run high around it.

But recently, I read a thoughtful, well-written piece by a UK escort named Charlotte Shane. In it, she asserts, from personal experience, that rape does not have to be the worst thing that could happen to a woman. For the author, it’s not even in the Top 5.

“Though some feminists regard ‘rape equals devastation’ as sacred fact, the notion that a man can ruin me with his penis strikes me as the most complete expression of vintage misogyny available. Common sense instructs us that it is far more ‘dangerous’ to insist to young women that they will be broken by an unwanted sex act than it is to propose they might have a happy, healthy, and sexually pleasant future ahead of them in spite of a sexual assault…

The truth is that it does not suit our social narrative to recognize that a woman can be raped and get on with her life, can maintain sexual and romantic relationships without counseling, won’t think of her rape every day, and won’t see herself as a ‘survivor’ or different in any material way. According to the cultural script, women are simply not strong enough to bear such an experience easily.”

I thought that this was a profound, thought-provoking take on things; one that I’d never seen expressed so eloquently before. I’ve had close friends who were raped before. I’ve even taken care of one in the immediate aftermath. But since I’ve never experienced it, it’s not my place to say what the appropriate response to an unwanted sexual assault is.

I will say, however, that I hope Ms. Shane is speaking for more women than just herself. No one is saying that you’re “wrong” if you let your rape define you, but then, it shouldn’t be wrong if you refuse to let your rape define you either.

Read the full article here and share your thoughts below.

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Comments:

  1. 31
    Angie

    ^ Also, in trauma, the brain undergoes severe damage.
    Whenever there are flashbacks or triggers, your brain is exposed to a severe rush of fight-or-flight chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline.  There are biological reasons why rape, and any other event that leads to trauma, cause long-lasting damage.   People shouldn’t judge other people’s wiring and how it leads to issues with their mental health!!!  It’s rarely *just* because someone experienced a trauma.  It is often that the person who experienced the trauma already is wired to have anxiety or depression issues and this sends them over the top!
    I don’t think an escort is the proper person to speak on this subject, and the article should have been counter-pointed by a rape or trauma specialist.

  2. 32
    jules

    I thought the article was pure garbage.  She continually characterizes rape as being about sex (the “ruin me with his penis” comment, among many).  It is about power and control and fear and often violence, not about one body part.

    Every woman deals with it in whatever way she is capable of.  For some, perhaps they can look at like the author and see it as no big deal.  More power to them.  Some never get past it and commit suicide.  I suspect most are on a scale between those two extremes, based on the circumstances of her particular assault.  But to chide women and to chide society as coddling women who view their rape differently than she views hers?  Ignorant at best and disgusting and hateful at worst.   

  3. 33
    Selena

    @Fiona #24

    Thank you for voicing some of the things I was thinking, but was reluctant to get into. This thread is starting to disgust me more than the original article.  I’ve known at least 20 people who have confided in me about being sexually assaulted. Statistically, I probably know many MORE who have been, who haven’t ever confided in me. All these commenters who are downplaying rape, who insist they haven’t known anyone who ever was…you DO know them, they just haven’t elected to tell you about it. Probably for good reason.

    Of all the people I’ve known who’ve had this experience, NONE, repeat NONE, have ever defined themselves by it. This is truly an arrogant and ignorant assumption – where does this even come from? Comparing infidelity and autism to rape? How clueless can you possibly be? Infidelity is a choice. Rape is not. Autism is obvious not a choice, but it’s not something done to you against your will by another person!

    To answer the stupid headline to this increasing stupid discussion:

    “Is rape the worst thing that can happen to a woman?”

    Every woman I know would say NO. The worst thing that could happen to them would be to lose a child.

    Perspective. Totally lacking in the article and on this thread. 

  4. 34
    Amy

    Jennifer @11, I wish I had written your post, it captures my feelings exactly. But i also think the author minimizes the trauma of rape by saying that “a man can’t ruin me with his penis”  Many women are held at gunpoint or have a knife to their throat while being raped; the penis is not the big threat here. The trauma of rape results from many factors and I think the author simplified it too much. And to Shelly @27, my heart goes out to you.

  5. 35
    Fusee

    Well, rape is a traumatic experience to most victims. And trauma changes people in ways that non-traumatized people can’t truly understand, despite all their rationalizations and irrelevant comparisons. Since rape involves sex, and since to most people sex is connected to intimacy, trust, and love, it should be pretty easy to understand how especially challenging the aftermath of a rape would be to most people, compared to other crimes or other adverse events. Obviously the same assault would not have the same effect on a person perceiving sex differently than most people do, and/or not prone to trauma the way most people are.
     
    To me, the big picture is that some people, men and women, have a personality style that is about willpower, confidence, and the rejection of any feeling of vulnerability (Enneagram type 8 or some counterphobic type 6, for those of you interested in a great psycho-spiritual development method). These characterisitcs that are very much biologically driven make such people extremely well equipped to move on in the face of adversity and much less sensitive to trauma than the other personality types. Their strength lies in their emotional resilience, but their weakness is that they usually lack the ability to feel deep empathy towards the pain of others.
     
    These positive characteristics can be acquired by the other personality styles through years of inner work, but this woman seems to fit this personality type since she was already showing solid sense of empowerment and reslience at the young age of 22. Interestingly she indeed ends her article relating how she felt worse by the demonstration of care than by the unwanted sexual act itself, as if being perceived as a victim was the most traumatic part of the crime that was committed. She obviously goes to great lengths to avoid seeing herself as a victim, and therefore as having to admit being in a vulnerable position.
     
    As a previous commenter wrote, this woman offers a differing narrative and I certainly think that there is space for her to share it. It makes the rest of us react and think, which is always a positive thing. It’s the narrative of a woman who seems to be trauma-resistant (at least resistant to trauma triggered by rape), but it does not represent the reality of most victims of terrible experiences. If anything it can come across as invalidating years of work dedicated in encouraging victims to report crimes and receive the care they need.
     
    By the way, victims of trauma do not “let” the experience define them. The trauma wreaks havoc their brain chemistry without their consent. If you are immune to trauma, more power to you, but please do not invalidate the majority of people who are not like you.

  6. 36
    Simone

    OMG I can’t believe this post. You don’t just breeze through a rape so you’re a feminist? Or man-hating? And just when did “feminist” become a bad word, anyway?

    Another point, since it seems that women being raped isn’t really a very serious issue to a lot of folks on this board, just a reminder that men and boys are raped, too.

    I can’t believe I just typed that, here in 2012.

    I’m outa here. This is a new low.

  7. 37
    K

    Someone said “if you haven’t been raped, you can’t know how it feels” – well just because you have doesn’t mean you know how everyone else who has been raped feels.
    There are different kinds of traumas and it’s not productive or possible to compare them in a meaningful way. Is it worse to experience X or Y? Are people in A situation suffering more or less than people in B situation? 
    When you look at something like child abuse, emotional trauma can have effects as devastating as physical or sexual trauma. A person’s mindset going into the traumatic situation, mental health, social support etc. and obviously the details of the situation affect how that person experiences the trauma and is affected by it. There is not one rule that explains how every person who experiences a trauma is affected.

  8. 38
    Evan Marc Katz

    For the commenters who said that they’re out of here because I shared a thought-provoking argument that represents one woman’s unique take on post-rape recovery, you should really try to control yourselves. No one is invalidating YOUR experience. The author is reporting her OWN experience, which has been processed differently than yours. And since hers is a point of view we don’t hear often, I thought it was valuable to share. Some women clearly acknowledge the validity of her perspective. Some women are so triggered that they want to castigate the author and (apparently) anyone who is willing to link to the article itself. If sharing this article with you actually makes you stop reading this blog for commonsense dating advice from a male perspective, then, by all means, I wish you well in your search for love. But perhaps you should consider that you may be a bit hypersensitive to opposing points of view, which are, after all, allowed to exist in the universe.

    And, for what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure Jezebel posted a link to this article in July. Ideas are meant to be discussed and considered, not discarded and insulted simply because they don’t fit your personal narrative about how the world is supposed to work. If 95% of rape victims still think of their rape as the dominant force in their entire lives, that’s perfectly valid. But so are the 5% who don’t. That’s why I shared it with you.

  9. 39
    Nadia

    Recently, a serial rapist was on the loose in my neighborhood. He had the habit of sneaking into single women’s houses at night and waiting for them in the dark, sitting in an easy chair. He spent long, drawn out nights with them, raping his victims more than once, using condoms, and then insisting they shower before he left. Needless to say, I was pretty creeped out. (They managed to trace his DNA by ripping up the sewer system in front of one of the victim’s house to retrieve the condom. No lie. He’s in jail now and all is good.) I wonder, how the sex worker who wrote that article would feel about rape if she had experienced what I just described, versus her own rape that occurred when she was jacking off one of her paying customers, which lasted only a few pumps. I guess I would have to agree with her unpopular idea of “degrees of rape.” Probably equally unpopular is a thought I’m tossing around that a woman who happily works in the sex trade industry may have a psyche better suited for the hazards of the job, so to speak. No, I don’t think a rape has to ruin a woman and, yes, I agree women are given subconscious messages of powerlessness by teaching us to fear it at every turn, but I still found myself bristling at the writer’s callousness. I hope she never has to find out if a more violent, unsuspecting rape would haunt her for life or not. Maybe she’d be writing a different article if that were the case. 

  10. 40
    Heike Lorenz

    What one woman writes is a very personal experience, and how she handles it is based on her make up, her experiences, her childhood, her programs and her programming. It’s not something to generalize. 

    A rape DOES define WAY MORE than we can imagine! Not even I knew some of these things, and I’m doing my work for more than 18 years now.

    Instead of going into details, I highly recommend that as many women and men as possible read the book by Naomi Wolf: Vagina – A new biography. A brilliant book. About the vagina-brain connection and how it affects women’s consciousness and her ability to be the juicy woman and live the orgasmic life we’re actually meant to live (and men want us to live!), from a biological and spiritual point of view.

    The vagina and the various nerve systems of the whole pelvic area DO affect the brain. Women are multi-orgasmic, and their orgasms affect their brain, change their brains, and thus affect their consciousness. But only if the nerve system is intact, not traumtized, hurt or cut (as often done during delivery, by the way). 

    A book with tons of increcibly important informatio. And in the first part about what rape does to a woman’s body, how it interrupts this connection to the brain, how this affects the consciousness of women, and how this is a question that boils down to one of “life or death”. Studies show that the trauma of rape affects women very differently than any other trauma. It affects their consciousness and shuts down their light.

    Believe me, if you’re someone who wants to understand women and who wants to have a juicy relationship or marriage, you want to read this book.

    “The world will be saved by the Western woman” is what the Dalai Lama says againa and again. He’s right I guess. We have access to a lot of great information, such as Pamela Madsen’s book “Shameless”, Naomi Wolf, and many more raising their voices.

    Before making your mind up about rape – you definitely want to know what Naomi Wolf has to say regarding rape, assault, abuse. 

    I’m glad you brought this topic up, Evan. Naomi Wolf’s book is one of the most important books women and men can read, and if this inspires some of your readers to go and get the book, it’s been a great article of your! :-)

    With love from Europe,
    Heike

     

  11. 41
    Fiona

    Evan, the issue with the whole thing is imbalance. This woman is in a very small minority yet that is the only story you chose to share under a heading that invites people who know nothing about rape to question whether rape is the worst thing that could happen to a woman. In my experience when lots of people are being ‘hypersensitive’ someone has usually been very insensitive.  

  12. 42
    Clare

    I read this article, and I agree with her central theory, that the way society defines an experience does not have to define it for everyone by any means.  That we should all reclaim our right and our power to define an event according to what it means to us as an individual, and according to our own experience and feelings around it.

    I suppose what I don’t quite understand is why she wrote this article.  If someone can shrug off a rape and move on fairly easily afterwards, well then, excuse my frankness, bully for them.  I don’t really think it’s in society or other people’s power to make you feel trauma that you did not actually feel, not if you’re strong and self-aware, and not extremely suggestible, that is.  There is no reason to pay any attention to the rape rhetoric, or go to the support groups etc., if it doesn’t apply to you.

    I for one am glad, though, that the help and support *is* there for people *do* need it.  For those deeply sensitive souls, or those who were hurt or brutalised, I am glad that the horror towards rape is there to validate their feelings.

    As I say, whilst I agreed with her premise that rape is a personal experience and allowed to be defined by the individual, I’m not really sure I understood what she would change.  What exactly is she suggesting people who deal with rape victims should do differently?  I don’t think anyone is telling them that they *have* to live with the rape forever, I think counsellors etc. are saying that if you find you never truly forget it, or if you still have feelings about it long after it happened, that is ok.

  13. 43
    Francesca

    Having worked in teenage sexual health and couselling services I can verify that the majority of women/girls who get raped do move on with their lives. However there is a significant proportion that don’t move on. The ones that do move on often carry scars with them that they have to deal with. I was haunted by a 14 year old girl who after I asked how many sexual partners she’d had, she asked me did it count if she didn’t agree before she told the story of her gang rape.

    I also think that, while interesting, a sex worker does not have the same representative voice of women as is being portrayed. There is nothing wrong with having sex with multitudes of men, however many of my close friends couldn’t do it. Many of them can’t even have a one night stand without having a significant degree of attachment – and that’s a one off, perfectly consensual activity. For many women (not all), sex isn’t just penis/vagina dance, it involves some sort of emotional connection whether its lust, humour, joy, friendship, something. Often if its not there prior, soon after the oxytocin kicks in and they think a jerk is prince charming. Clearly to become a sex worker, that connection, or even a level of respect- need not be there.

    I am truly puzzled why she would have sex with someone who raped her. That’s like being abused by a boyfriend, and then going back to him.  Its one thing to not let it affect you, its another to deliberately go back for more. 

    I do disagree with the idea that rape being such a horror is a feminist idea. Even criminals don’t look upon sexual crimes lightly, often in jail, they’re separated from the other crims for their own safety. 

    Mental health wise – sexual assault is the worst assault there is out there. It is worse then medical, physical, mental, neglect on long term mental health outcomes. It is not something that is easy to fix. Even the UN has recognised rape as a war crime. 

    Ultimately I see where she is coming from. It is amazing that she has managed to come through her experiences and be able to brush them off as unfortunate incidences. However the horror that some sexually assaulted women experience cannot be brushed off so easily, and to say that we as a society should brush it off comes across as offensive as

    a. some sort of encouragement to perpetrators thinking “it’s not that bad, she should move on”
    b. such a disservice to the proportion of victims who do suffer and do need a high level of support 

  14. 44
    Frimmel

    Let me start off with rape is horrible and terrible and should be punished and so forth or please don’t label me as a rape apologist but here is more food for thought:
     
    http://www.owningyourshit.blogspot.in/2011/06/how-feminism-hates-women.html
     
    “Today, I’m going to try to explain a few ways feminist discourse and activism with respect to the problem of rape, harms women. The first lies in feminist academia’s arbitrary and dismissive attitude toward women’s actual experiences to further their agenda of manufacturing a rape epidemic.” 
     
    “Back in 1850, the shame and personal devaluation a woman suffered when her sexual honor was gone was very practical and very concrete, and the consequences to her future absolutely dire. It hardly mattered whether her honor was taken by rape or because she had consented to sex. Either way, she had no further value as a woman.

    But now, in the 2010s, there is no logical reason for any woman to feel ashamed or devalued as a woman because the “sanctity” of her sexuality was violated–because women’s sexuality is no longer considered sacred, and the concept of sexual honor no longer exists in any practical way. Considering how society’s views on women who have sex outside of marriage, and of women’s value as more than wives and mothers, have changed, a woman’s feelings of fear, trauma, violation and victimization associated with rape ought to be similar to those associated with any other form of assault. There is no logical place for shame and loss of self-worth in a world where there is no shame in a woman having sex, and no real-world value placed on her sexual virtue.

    Yet this reaction to rape–a reaction that is very real to many women, despite the fact that it has no logical basis–has been allowed to dominate the entire public discourse on rape.”

  15. 45
    Alexis

    Yes, WHY on earth did you publish this Evan? I wish I didn’t read it either and am angry it was sent to me. I signed up for dating advice NOT to read articles about rape and the ‘appropriate’ response to it. There is no ‘appropriate’ response – there is everyone ones individual, personal response. It is a woman or mans personal journey to recovery.

    Also, rape is NOT just a penis. How insulting. It almost always involves violent assault, control, dominance, intimidation, restraint, violation that can affect the emotional depths of a woman. If not on a concious level, an unconcious level. A womans soul and unconcious needs and deserves time to work through any crisis. Our soul and unconcious isnt a chalkboard that can just immediately be wiped clean..processing needs to take place.We arent just computers that can be formatted, the mind and soul is far more complex than that.

  16. 46
    Karl R

    Jennifer said: (#26)
    “Can we make room for the narrative of that woman?”

    She’s not alone in having that narrative. One of my close friends was raped, and had surprisingly little emotional trauma, even at that time. And I’ve had enough friends (including men) tell me about their rapes to recognize that her story is unusual.

    My friend isn’t a sex worker. She was just a normal 20-something who was raped by an acquaintance at a party.

    She doesn’t talk about it much. She’s gotten tired of people telling her how she should feel about the experience.

    Like Selena (#33), about 20 people have told me about their rapes. I think they find it easier to tell me, because I let them tell me how they feel.

    Their stories are always complicated.

    Ruby said: (#16)
    “She even admits seeing one of her attackers a month after the attack for another encounter, and saying nothing. Her response to these acts is going to be very different to the response of someone who doesn’t trade in sex for a living.”

    One girlfriend of mine had been repeatedly sexually abused by her father as a child. She had chronic bouts of moderate to severe depression and usually ended up in the hospital from the severe episodes.

    She still called and visited her father regularly. I find that very difficult to understand. (They don’t talk about what he did to her, either.)

    As I said … complicated.

    I don’t think we gain a greater understanding about rape by trying to silence Charlotte Shane’s story.

    Anon said: (#30)
    “I felt too ashamed to tell anyone else.”

    A lot of people feel that way after being raped.

    We really need to reverse the cultural perspective. All of the shame should be attached to the person who commits the rape, not the person they raped.

    No exceptions. Not even when the rape involves a sex worker.

    Fiona said: (#17)
    “the comments made by some of the Republicans in your country about women who are truly raped having bodies that can prevent pregnancy.”

    There will always be idiots. Representative Akin and the other two Republicans were crucified in the press (and hopefully the polls) for their ignorance.

    My friend may not have been traumatized by her rape, but she has no patience for that kind of stupidity. In her words (about Representative Akin), “How can someone that stupid survive to adulthood?”

    If any politician tries to use my friend’s experience as “ammunition” to weaken rape laws, I’m going to have to go through her house and hide the ammunition (and the guns) from her.

  17. 47
    Evan Marc Katz

    @Alexis#45 – I explained why I sent this in #38. I deal with men and women and sex and gender issues. This is one of them. And if you’ve been reading for awhile, there have been no shortage of times when conversations about promiscuity and pre-marital sex have devolved (with no help from me) into discussions about rape, largely due to our feminist readers. So to tell me what I can and cannot post on my own blog because it offends your delicate sensibilities really falls on deaf ears.

    If you don’t like the headline of an article, don’t read it. There’ll be a lot more free dating advice coming up, I can assure you. But please, don’t yell at me because you read an article that you didn’t approve of. I didn’t make you do it.

  18. 48
    Alexis

    Lucy..

    Your comparison of your anxiety/depression to being raped is weak and insulting. It shouldn’t even be brought up in the same conversation. As for victim mentality, THEY WERE A VICTIM. They didnt ask for it and have every right to say they were victimised. It is their journey to recovery, it is incredibly disrespectful to mention ‘victim mentality’ like they are doing something wrong. You clearly have no idea about this subject. In regards to people ‘over-emoting’ and ‘labelling’ themselves. There is no ‘over-emoting’  when it comes to rape – there is just the natural emotions, pain and trauma that can obviously follow rape. 

    And lastly LUCY, ‘we all have rubbish to deal with in our life’… yes, of course everyone has problems to deal with in their life. But events that involve extreme violence, rape and trauma is not just a bit of ‘rubbish’ to deal with. It can be a profound life event that deserves any response he/she has. It is his/her journey to take. I think everyone would also agree that generally speaking on the scale of traumatic events one can experience, a bout of depression/anxiety could be no where near as high as being raped. Anxiety/depression, while intensely painful (from experience), does not involve an external person taking control of you and damaging you physically, it does not involve the possibility of pregnancy, STD’s. It just involves your own struggle with your mind/soul. Physical and sexual abuse is in a league of its own and I refuse to see it minimised. 

    1. 48.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Alexis, again. I have not minimized rape. The author has minimized rape only for herself, and wondered aloud why others haven’t done so. You really have to stop taking others’ opinions so personally. If it doesn’t apply to you, then let it go. And, per your last sentence, the author does have experience with rape, so you can’t tell her that her opinion is any less valid than yours.

  19. 49
    Ruby

    KarlR #46
     
    “Ruby said: (#16)
    “She even admits seeing one of her attackers a month after the attack for another encounter, and saying nothing. Her response to these acts is going to be very different to the response of someone who doesn’t trade in sex for a living.”
    One girlfriend of mine had been repeatedly sexually abused by her father as a child. She had chronic bouts of moderate to severe depression and usually ended up in the hospital from the severe episodes.
    She still called and visited her father regularly. I find that very difficult to understand. (They don’t talk about what he did to her, either.)
    As I said … complicated.
    I don’t think we gain a greater understanding about rape by trying to silence Charlotte Shane’s story.”
     
    I’m not sure how you can compare a woman visiting her father, even with the complicated issue of child sexual abuse, to a an adult woman continuing to see her paying customer for sex. They’re at different ends of the spectrum.
     
    Charlotte Shane (a pseudonym) is entitled to her beliefs and to her experience, and i am entitled to disagree with her. As her article is about a prostitute’s encounters with her “johns”, I just don’t see her experience as adding anything particularly relevant tor noteworthy to a discussion of rape for the vast majority of women. It certainly has nothing to do with why women come to a dating site, and isn’t even related to date rape. That’s MY two cents.

  20. 50
    Alexis

    Ellen..so does length of time determine a traumatic event now? I dont care if it was 7 seconds..a rape victim experiences layers and layers of trauma ranging from emotional and physical, abduction – he/she is held AGAINST their will, violently hit and intimidated, terrorised, torn, risks pregnancy, STD’s. Events like this arent just ‘difficulties’ in life – they ARE moments that can terrify you to your core and tear at a soul.  How on earth can you compare violent abusive rape to the troubles of raising an autistic child?? Did you think you were going to be killed when raising your autistic child? Did  you get pregnant or contract a STD? DId you have to have operations to sew you back up? Did you have terrifying flashbacks, night after night of nightmares? Where you ‘triggered’ emotionally? You havent been raped, you havent known anyone to be raped…so how can you have any idea in order to compare? People like you simply dont get it at all. It is like all abuse victims – it goes deep. Im certainly not saying its a life sentence, but I refuse to have people with no experience or knowledge on rape and abuse to draw incredibly insulting comparisions.

  21. 51
    narr

    So the author has a different take on rape.
    Isn’t she entitled to have a different opinion on the matter? It’s HER perception of how rape affects someone and whatnot based on HER experience, background and everything else combined. The article above is solely about HER perception on rape, not yours or anyone else’s.
    Of course one cannot always agree with someone else’s opinion. Thus, disagreeing with her thoughts on the topic is very much understandable and a healthy debate is, in my book, always welcome.
    However, her viewpoint is not better than yours. And, with that same token, your viewpoint isn’t better than hers either.
    Rather than dismissing her thoughts in a very poor manner just because she doesn’t agree with your take on rape, why not encourage an adult like discussion.

  22. 52
    Selena

    Karl R. : “I don’t think we gain a greater understanding about rape by trying to silence Charlotte Shane’s story.”

    And I don’t think we gain a greater understanding reading her story either.

  23. 53
    Alexis

    Oh, Evan. You’re out of your depth on this one.

    No woman on here will appreciate being told to ‘control themselves’. It is extremely patronising and unneccesary. Like you said, we are all entitled to our opinion. You are showing an obvious bias by reacting so negatively to those who haven’t supported the article. I am intrigued by your comment that it was ‘feminist’ readers who led topics of infidelity to rape. How did you know if they were feminist? Does leading infidelity topics onto rape mean you must be a feminist? I am picking up that you may have some negative feelings towards these women. Is that why you posted the article? I am honestly intrigued to know.

    Considering that quite a number of women responded exactly as I did, I doubt that it is down to ‘delicate sensitivities’ or ‘hypersensitivities’. You yourself started your post with stating that it is a ‘sensitive topic’. I’m sorry to say that I don’t accept that women who were offended by this post are the problem here.

    Considering every woman who signed up to your blog did so because you advertise yourself as offering ‘commonsense dating advice’ you shouldn’t be surprised that women are questioning why you posted an article on rape at all? Like you said yourself it is a deeply personal, sensitive topic. That is why they have specialised professionals equipped with the training, knowledge and SENSITIVITY to counsel victims, offer support and advice and host online forums discussing the topic. You don’t. You’ve just posted an article on rape to a group of women expecting dating advice. Of course many are going to be shocked and insulted based on that alone. You clearly dont know how to manage peoples responses and the fall out of this highly sensitive topic. I find it really irresponsible. And in the end the message we recieve from you for responding (which is what you wanted) is for us to ‘control ourselves’. You might get some that agree but of course you are going to get some who get really angry, really emotional, have outbursts, lose control – you knew the delicate area you were treading into. 

    I’m sorry to say it but the one thing you advertise as having (but lack on this topic) is ‘common sense’.  

     

    1. 53.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Alexis, I let your insulting comment thru, even though the rules of the blog say to not insult your host.

      This will be the last response I allow you to write, however.

      You’ve already admitted that you are angry, emotional and losing control. That is your right. And it is my right to post what I want on my blog because I think it’s interesting and relevant. Women bring up rape all the time here. But when I do, it’s irresponsible? Once again, this article was originally posted by Jezebel, which is unabashedly feminist. They presumably do it for the same reasons I did: to provoke thought and discussion. But discussion is about the merits of the author’s point of view, not about insulting the guy who shared the article itself. Jeez.

      So really, if you don’t like me or you don’t like my advice or you don’t agree with my right to share what I want on my blog because it doesn’t agree with you, that’s fine. Leave. I’m not offended. I just think that you’re being thin-skinned and shortsighted. I shared an article with you. You didn’t agree with it. Welcome to the internet.

      No reason to go on the attack. That, my friend, is commonsense. Your behavior, on the other hand, has been purely emotional, without any regard for anyone else’s point of view. I suggest you find a blog that never says anything provocative or never says anything that disagrees with your world view.

      It will never upset you and you will never gain a greater understanding of how others think when you cocoon yourself in an echo chamber. Good bye and good luck to you, Alexis.

  24. 54
    Alexis

    Evan, the post re: minimising rape was not aimed at you. Nor was it directed at the author. It was directed at readers who compared the difficulty/trauma of overcoming rape to over coming depression/anxiety. And to the woman who questioned wether 7 minutes of rape was more difficult/traumatic as raising an autistic child. Again, you started this post by stating that this is a personal and sensitive topic. You’re right – it is. As someone who has been raped it is incredibly insulting and ignorant for people to draw such  comparisons. So yes, it is personal and I respond so. I think it is important for them to understand that from someone with experience that they are light years apart in experience. People need to know this.

  25. 55
    Selena

    All do respect Evan, but you did shut down a discussion on date rape last month that was much more relevant to dating than Ms. Shane’s story. So it was quite surprising you would link to this article – which has nothing to do with dating, and marginally to do with rape.

    I would find Ms. Shane’s article more likely to appear on a website for practising prostitutes. And the headline wouldn’t be “Is rape the worst thing that can happen to a woman”, it would be “How I maintained my detachment after a few bad tricks”. Because that’s really what it is about.

    1. 55.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Oh, and @Selena - that’s some selective memory right there. I (tried to) shut down a comments thread that began talking about rape, because the article itself was NOT about rape. This article WAS about rape. And since, as readers have pointed out in these very comments, rape is something that women have to constantly fear every time they go out with a man, it would seem that a discussion about how one woman survives her rape would be relevant. If you don’t think it’s relevant, stay tuned until Monday, when another article will be posted.

  26. 56
    Christine

    I will state from my own personal experience that rape affects EACH person differently.  I read with interest the above comments, many of which were heated.

    Its been 21 years and I am still mildly affected.  My situation involved an ex exboyfriend, whom I had broke up with after several instances of control issues, & when minor physical violence abruptly surfaced.   Several days after the break up, he showed up crazed and drunk, banging windows and broke into my house at 3 a.m., assaulting me – beat me to a pulp, choked me, pinned me down and raped me, and threatened to come back to kill me if me if I reported him.  Knowing he had a gun at his house, I lied to the x-ray tech the next day about “falling down the stairs” and bruising my ribs.  The tech knew I was lying because he asked me about 5 times what really happened and how I got choke marks on my throat from falling down stairs.   Oh, I returned to work after a few days off saying I had a “car accident”.  

    I dealt with it without therapy, living in a city without family, now thinking back not sure if therapy was as mainstream as it is today.  I am sure personality and mindset has something to due with how an individual processes, overcomes and recovers from the trauma of a rape experience.  I have always been independent, one of those Type A’s, which probably helped me navigate through it.  I didn’t date for nearly a year, hanging out with close friends is good therapy.

    Ramifications???  I am 48 and afraid to walk by myself in the dark to my car.  I sometimes but not always I get panicky about someone jumping out and beating me up.  As a divorced mother of 2 (after 15 years of marraige), I am totally fine being alone in the house when my kids are with their father.  Intimacy, dating, and male companionship is not an issue, I dont have flashbacks or any of that.  However this past Monday, I went thru a jury duty selection, the case at hand was rape/kidnapping etc.   When I got called up, as I was under oath, I had to divuldge to the attorneys on the case that i would be a biased juror due to my experience as a victim.  And they asked details.   It opened up a can of worms that was buried and has bothered me the entire week.

  27. 57
    Lucy

    Alexis, that isn’t what I was saying at all. What I meant was that you can’t compare personal tragedies. So if one person loses one child, another person can’t go and say, “My tragedy is worse than yours. I lost two”. Because you can’t put your own personal traumas on a scale with other people’s. I don’t think that’s the right way to deal with loss or a traumatic event. You never get over it by trying to convince other people of your pain or your victim-hood. You get over it by reconciling in some way to yourself. For example lots of people died because of Hurricane Sandy. I wouldn’t go around saying “Well the Japanese tsunami was worse. These people are overreacting”. Because I understand that individual pain is powerful and I don’t think you should try and rationalise it away. It’s very easy from a distance for someone to do that. And if someone has gone through a lot, then I truly sympathise but I don’t think that some people are more worthy of sympathy than others because of the way they deal with their pain.

  28. 58
    Lucy

    And Alexis, you cannot tell me that I do not have insight on physical abuse since it is something I have genuinely experienced. I did not bring it up because it wasn’t relevant to the point I was trying to convey. But it goes to show that you should not make these assumptions about me without even knowing me or my experiences in life.

    The writer of the article Evan posted…well I do not believe she was minimising rape at all. She has found a way to deal with her personal pain. It may seem like she is sweeping aside something serious but it would have taken her a whole lot of trauma and deep-thinking to even get to that stage in her thinking. I strongly agree with essentially what she is saying. I think people own their own feelings and thoughts, and no one should preside over them. No one should tell someone that they’re not reacting to something properly, unless that reaction has a real impact on other people. Some people cry, some people don’t…whatever. I’m not going to be the person who says – “You’re not upset enough”. People should be more all-embracing.

  29. 59
    Sunflower

    Try to find peace Alexis :)  Sometimes the worse experiences in life can make us a better person in the future.

  30. 60
    nathan

    Evan, posting an article like this about rape to a blog written for women, and then responding to women who are upset by it in the manner that you do, is really poor form. I understand the desire to spark discussion. In fact, I can even see where both you and the author of the article desire to empower women. However, the way she writes, and the way you have responded, undermine that completely.
     
    For the record, I was sexually assaulted by a visiting male professor during my undergrad days. For all sorts of reasons, including a hell of a lot of self-loathing and shame, I never reported it. In fact, because men “don’t get raped” – this was before the Catholic priest scandal, Sandusky, and the rest that made it a little more acceptable to speak of such experiences. Anyway, it took years for me to reclaim power and agency in my life, both in intimate relationships and in the rest of my life. Who cares whether it was the worst thing that happened to me, or whether I learned a lot of good things from the experience (which I did), it sucked greatly, negatively impacted me greatly, and isn’t something to be trivialized or minimized.
     
    What really bothers me about the way this comment thread unfolded is that it’s exactly what often happens when rape survivors open up to others who haven’t been through such things about their experience. If you display heavy emotions and aren’t particularly rational in how you talk about what happened, you’re told some variation of “stop being so sensitive,” the validity of your story is questioned, or you are given some sort of pep talk about taking the bad and getting stronger with it. That’s kind of how I read the author’s article. As something of a pep talk to women to take their power back. Something that needs to be well timed in order to be effective, and isn’t – in and of itself – thought provoking or useful in pushing the general societal conversations about rape forward.
     
    Along those lines, Evan, you might consider that one of the main reasons why you are getting so much flack here is that in the US, Canada, and the UK – where almost all of your regular readers live – there are highly public, politicized right wing attacks on nearly every gain women have made in the social sphere. And specifically on rape, politicians and ultra conservative religious leaders are getting plenty of air time for saying all sorts of ignorant and vial things, while their less flamboyant friends are pushing for the kinds of legal shifts that will take our countries back at least a half a century. This is the climate you’re introducing this post in. And the ways in which you and some other readers toss words like feminist and hypersensitivity around play right into that climate. I would never suggest silencing voices like Charlotte’s, but I do think that given the audience, and the social/political climate, presenting such an article in a way that doesn’t simply flip triggers and provoke people requires great care.
     
     

    1. 60.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Nathan, this is all I had to hear from you: “I would never suggest silencing voices like Charlotte’s”. Alas, that’s what the critical readers have said. The author shouldn’t have written something so offensive. And I shouldn’t have posted it. The only thing I said was that this was an interesting take that I hadn’t heard before. I never opined with my take, since I don’t have a take. I’ve never been sexually assaulted, so far be it from me to weigh in. The author has. As such, her opinion is as valid as yours.

      Choose a side, bud. You either think it’s okay for me to post this piece (with little to no opinion on my part) or you think that these voices should be silenced. Don’t come and get all high and mighty on me when all I did was link to an article and defend myself for the act of posting it.

      You don’t have to agree with the author’s take on rape as it affects you, but you can’t tell me that you’re not being hypersensitive to another point of view by demanding that I not post such pieces.

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