The term Lily White has a long and ugly past as it applies to American history and its culture.
Specifically, the term Lily-White Movement, as defined by Wikipedia, was an anti-civil-rightsmovement within the Republican Party in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The movement was a response to the political and socioeconomic gains made by African-Americans following the Civil War and the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which eliminated slavery. Black leaders gained increasing influence in the party by organizing blacks as an important voting bloc. Conservative white groups attempted to eliminate this influence and recover white voters who had defected to the Democratic Party.
“The lily white movement is one of the darkest and underexamined eras of US Republicanism.”
This movement is largely credited with driving blacks out of the Republican party during the early 20th century, setting the stage for their eventual support of the Democrats.
In essence, the movements goal was to suppress the votes (or in my opinion, the VOICE and Validity) of Black Americans.
As I began to speak up and speak out about a problem that touches far to many lives I realized pretty quickly that most people didn’t want to hear about the reality of the problem. It almost seemed as though the words I spoke offended a falsely innocent view of american culture and the violence that is going on in american children’s lives at the hands of adults, usually the adults that are closest to them.
n. a person without a police record; someone who does not trigger suspicions; a clean-skin.
This particular definition is the one that solidified my decision to use the term as the Pseudonym I would blog under. I started blogging specifically because the subject of Childhood Sexual Abuse, a subject that has recently and violently thrust itself into mine and my family’s life, was one that seemed to offend the public so much so that even as a victim/survivor, speaking about any aspect of the issue is highly frowned upon publicly. As I understood it, if I wanted to speak up, if I wanted to talk about this issue, it would have to be done privately and somewhat UNDER THE RADAR, so to speak.
The bottom line is, MY VOICE WON’T BE SILENCED. I WON’T CONFORM AND SHUT UP. But like many things, sometimes the best approach is one that is the least abrasive, for the moment at least.
I have quoted Dr. King many times before on this blog. Here are some that have resonated with me:
He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it. Martin Luther King, Jr.
3. Informal Excluding or seeking to exclude Black people.
1. (Fine Arts & Visual Arts / Colours) of a pure white lily-white skin
2.Informal pure; irreproachable
a. discriminating against Blacks a lily-white club
b. racially segregated
Adj. 1. lily-white – restricted to whites only; “under segregation there were even white restrooms and white drinking fountains”; “a lily-white movement which would expel Negroes from the organization”
segregated, unintegrated – separated or isolated from others or a main group; “a segregated school system”; “a segregated neighborhood”
2. lily-white – of a pure white color.
achromatic, neutral – having no hue; “neutral colors like black or white
It was painful to read this article as it parallels my own life so closely. Its a short read bit worth the time.
The news took me by surprise. This wasn’t just my house, this was my home. I lived there my whole life, & it was being taken away from me. My whole life was being taken away, and I had no idea what to do to stop it from happening. What was I going to do about school? I was in my Senior year and already missed two weeks of school. What about my friends? The ones I grew up with since I was four years old. What about my life? The one I’ve grown used too, the one that I couldn’t imagine living differently.
So, it’s been 621 days, or, 1 year 8 months and 12 days since my children and my world came to a crashing halt.
I keep wondering why I havent healed yet. Why am I still so profoundly damaged and why can I not integrate back into the world with even a minute amount of success. What is wrong with me. I was diagnosed with PTSD which made me ask myself, does this mean I will never heal. And if I can recover, WHEN?
After beating myself up for failing to get on with life, I figure it might be time to assess the gravity, the magnitude, the reality of what was actually lost.
Before I go on, Please understand, I would have it no other way. The relief I feel knowing that my daughter had the guts to stand up and protect herself by telling her secret is remarkable. I am grateful for her bravery. I’m also relieved that her suffering has come to an end. However, I’m writing this blog post to get a better understanding of why I am having such a hard time healing from what was lost.
During some of my darkest, most painful days I recall describing what I was experiencing like this…
My husband was murdered, my daughter was raped, my home was set on fire, my job was terminated, my bank account was robbed.
And all of this occurred in one day, in the blink of an eye. I went to bed one night and life was normal. I woke up to find everything I knew and loved had changed. Life from this moment forward would never be the same.
It’s funny because the above description is not exact, but for me, it’s the closest way I can describe how I feel and for the most part it’s the equivalent of the reality.
The Breakdown of what was lost
My husband was murdered
Everyone knows someone who has lost a spouse way to early. About ten years ago my husbands best friend died in a car accident. Of course we were devastated. After all, our friends had recently married, which we celebrated as a new and exciting beginning of two friends sharing a wonderful life together. In his death, he was buried and honored with a funeral where all of his loved ones were able to pay their respects to the deceased. There was closure. Sure, it was painful to say goodbye to a friend. There was peace in knowing we could visit his grave, place flowers on such a good friends final resting space should we desire.
The bottom line is, I have spent every day since midsummer of the year 2000 with my husband. I truly loved this man with every part of me. I was still in love with him, which is quite remarkable. heck, I’ve been in relationships where the flame is snuffed out, and pretty quickly to. But this wasnt the case with us. I still looked at him with passion, still thought he was the most gorgeous man I’d ever laid eyes on.
No, in reality my husband was not actually murdered. trust me, there is a weird part of me (the part that has never actually experienced what that might be like) that feels like this would be a less painful scenario. Had he been murdered I would have been able to bury the man I loved so deeply. I could still look at him with love. Me and my children could visit his grave and place flowers. A gravestone for me has recently become something tangible that you can go to when the person you held so dear is no longer there. My husband, my children’s father is no longer there. There’s nothing. THERES NOTHING. Just an empty space in my home and in my heart. I feel his absence in the depth of my guts. There’s nothing left but the good memories that swirl around the new and bad memories. I still can’t think of him, talk about him, look at his things, go to sleep next to the spot he occupied, and yes, survive every holiday without feeling the tremendous sense of loss of this person in my life. I miss the man I thought he was. I miss my best friend. I feel like it was my husband who murdered the man I loved.
My daughter was raped
This is such a painful thought that I still have a hard time thinking about it, much less writing candidly about the feeling and emotions that are buried in my mind and heart. And for that reason I’ll simply say… this is self explanatory…and move on to the next item.
My home was set on fire
I see news stories all the time about families displaced by fire. Families that are homeless in the matter of moments. Nothing left of the comforts of home but a heap of smouldering ash. This is tragic and reported as such on the news, usually with a cry for help and where good citizens can send donations to help out the newly homeless.
For my family, our home is on fire, burning just under the surface. It feels like the Alzheimer’s disease for the exiled. without an income, saving my home, my children’s home is useless. we’re just watching it smoke, waiting for the day that it’s all gone. The saddest part is, there aren’t any nor will there ever be any distress calls from the local news media for my family. We will lose our home. My children will lose the last bit of normalcy they have left. Childhood friends, classmates, routines that provide comfort will all be gone. I cannot explain what its like to walk into your house and know that the very sights, smells, and personal space that brings peace and shelters you from the cold hard world, just outside your door will be gone. I don’t know the date but I know its coming. My husband was ordered to pay the mortgage but he never has and my lawyer didnt push the issue. Because I was and still am absolutely broke, I’m unable to pay my lawyer. The last payment that was made on our family home was april 2010. I’m still in my home but its in foreclosure. I’m not sure how much longer before we are completely homeless.
My job was terminated
My husband and I started our own business in 2006. I took pride in working both with him outside of the home and as the accountant in the home. I wont lie, ive never loved doing receipts. I kinda despised getting all the paperwork prepared for taxes. But I did it, for years I did it. I did love the physical work though. It wasnt to difficult and I really loved going to work with my husband everyday. We were a team. We were business partners. We were best friends who got to hang out every day. I look back on these times fondly and unfortunately so. If I hated the daily grind than maybe that’d be one less good memory to grieve the loss of. Now my everyday is a struggle just to get to the end. Our business was and is a fairly profitable business. We did well for ourselves, making enough to live on and have a bit left over for the fun things in life. We enjoyed entertaining friends at our house, hosting the occasional get-together. He took the business. He was the only one we listed on the LLC. We never paid ourselves paychecks so I couldn’t file for unemployment. It’s as if I havent had a job since 2006. I miss enjoying my day-to-day life. I miss working and I miss the motivation I once enjoyed as a small business owner.
My bank account was robbed
Within the first week after the discovery and while I was still in shock at my mothers house, my husband cleared out our bank account. I had not a dollar to my name and three kids to support. This has not changed and I don’t expect that it will. He took every dime that we together made and saved and left me with nothing. I went to sleep one night with a certain degree of financial security and woke up to find I couldn’t even buy toilet paper. “I couldn’t even buy toilet paper” it’s what everyone who is running low on cash says…I had to steal toilet paper from a gas station bathroom. It’s not an exaggeration, it was our reality and it was humiliating. As something ive kept a secret from everyone I know including my children, its something I still cringe privately over.
So, what’s next
When I look at the list above it reads like the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, seriously. How much stress can one person suffer before they break? I’ll paste a link I found to a site where you can do a quick assessment. I don’t need to do the assessment to know that I’ve had a multitude of stressful life changing events happen in a short amount of time but after reading over it ive decided I need to get myself back into therapy. Heres the list:
Choose Life Events In the last 2 years, did any of the following happen in your life?
Minor violations of the law
Major change in number of family get-togethers
Change in eating habits
Major change in sleeping habits (a lot more or a lot less than usual)
Taking on a loan (car,etc.,)
Major change in social activities (clubs,movies,visiting,etc.)
Major change in usual type and/or amount of recreation
Major change in church or temple activity (i.e.. a lot more or less than usual)
Major changes in working hours or conditions
Changes in residence
Changing to a new school
Trouble with boss
Revision of personal habits (dress manners, associations, quitting smoking)
Molesters versus the sex lab: Controversial testing technique a key to stopping child abusers
BY GENE SAPAKOFF
Monday, June 6, 2011
It is another disturbing and productive day inside William Burke’s modest Summerville office. A photo of a scantily clad little boy pops up on a laptop, followed by a picture of a bound and gagged young woman.
The Visual Sexual Preference test images keep coming, one as innocent as a girl in a one-piece swimsuit —department store catalog stuff —and the next something way more sordid.
Burke explains that his clients, many of them prisoners, must watch carefully before the exam is over.
“The first time, you just see the slides,” Burke says, nodding at the screen. “The second time, you have to rank them on a scale of 1-7 by how sexually interested you are in them or how disgusted you are. So I guess you get the idea on how that works. Later, we can go down the hall.”
Down the hall is the Sexual Arousal Lab. ‘We’re testing someone right now,’ Burke says.
Inside a 12-by-12-foot room, a shackled and handcuffed man let out of an Upstate jail for the day is viewing a series of 27 photos —with a state-of-the-art plethysmograph firmly attached.
An armed guard stands watch as the device —essentially a penile polygraph —measures arousal.
There is audio too. For instance, the voice of a man who has spotted a boy in a camp shower room.
Burke, 53, has been using the plethysmograph (or PPG) and other innovative ways of preventing child abuse since 1996. Not everyone endorses the technology in use at more than 100 testing facilities in the U.S.; results are challenged in court, and a Lowcountry judge once dubbed him a ‘witch doctor.’
Photo by Wade Spees This prisoner is undergoing a sex-offender test in William Burke Summerville office.
But this facility and Burke’s other offices in Columbia and Lexington are South Carolina’s primary stops for the risk assessment, treatment and supervision of sex offenders. Law enforcement officials, South Carolina’s volunteer Guardian Ad Litem staff and the Department of Social Services have Burke on speed dial.
A few of his current 300 clients come voluntarily for treatment. He gets referrals each week from men —or their workplace HR offices —seeking help with Internet pornography addiction. But roughly 80 percent of Burke’s work, he says, involves men who have sexually abused children.
Goal: Stop them.
“Our assessments are very thorough and they meet the standard of care, which dictates the kind of instruments you should be using,” Burke says.
Sometimes there are interruptions.
The phone rings.
‘Excuse me, I have to take this call,’ Burke says with a sudden frown.
“Of course, our first interest is always the safety of the children, and what you’re telling me is bad enough,’ Burke tells the caller. ‘But if video has been put on the Internet, uh, that’s taking it to a whole different level.”
The Czechoslovakian army, of all institutions. It christened the PPG during the 1950s ‘Cold War.’
‘They wanted to test guys trying to avoid military service by claiming to be gay,’ says Burke, a Rock Hill native who received psychology and clinical counseling degrees at The Citadel and a PhD in counseling at South Carolina.
The PPG has been in use in the U.S. since the 1980s. Burke’s Canadian-made Limestone Preftest model features straps that measure phallic size increases by blood flow as patients are exposed to photos and/or recordings. The data shows up on computer graphs in an adjacent room.
The Visual Sexual Preference test and Abel Screen also are included as part of a basic Burke assessment, which lasts from eight to 14 hours spread over one or two days. The Abel Screen is an evaluation concept with more than 1,000 questions and 340 slides aimed at categorizing and correlating sexual arousal.
The PPG test is Burke’s pride and joy.
“The most exciting thing for us is the stimulus material and how that has evolved,” he says.
Burke played a role in that development, by accident.
“Up until two or three years ago, what a person would listen to in the laboratory was a male monotone voice telling a story about sexual behavior,” Burke says, “and the response rates were not that great. By that I mean we positively identified, say, a person aroused by a rape scenario only about 58 percent of the time. Now it’s over 90 percent.”
Charleston-based FBI agent Cynthia McCants mentioned to Burke that often when computers were seized from pedophiles, the evidence discovered was not visual but audio versions of victimized children.
“That got me thinking,” Burke says.
He approached a talent agency in search of kids. Parents were informed and signed waivers. The child actors were given scripts.
“We would have them say things that had nothing to do with sexual behavior,” Burke says. “Like a scenario with a lady walking her dog, and you want to pet the dog but you are a little nervous and you ask, ‘Can I touch it?’ We clip that sound out and drop it into a story of a guy in the camp shower with a 10-year-old.”
The child voices have been echoing in Burke’s office, and other PPG facilities around the country, since 2006.
“I have difficulty saying this because it sounds so outrageous,” Burke says in a hushed tone. “But on average we had 200 percent or greater levels of (phallic) response in the laboratory to the voices of the children. That is cutting edge and that’s really cool to be a part of.
“Now, the false positive identification rate is next to zero. It’s just not going to happen. There are just too many safeguards for that.”
Burke stresses that his role is not to decide guilt or innocence, but to make risk recommendations. He does pre-trial assessment, offers second opinions and sometimes first opinions.
“If a man accused of molesting his stepdaughter is brought in and tests positive for arousal to young girls,” Burke says, “I will suggest he not be allowed back home.”
It goes beyond ‘gotcha.’
Burke also monitors and treats patients. Some are on probation. Some are awaiting trial.
There are no “typical” cases in this line of work.
“A lot of folks come in and say they didn’t do it,” Burke says. “Well, OK, we’ll start there. We have our interviewing and a variety of tests.
“Say someone has been accused of molesting a couple of boys and he denies it. I get a history from him and then we put him in the Sexual Arousal Laboratory and, lo and behold, he’s aroused by little boys, and after the test I say, ‘Hey, you’re aroused by little boys.’
“Sometimes that’s enough for them to say ‘I did it. And maybe I need some help.’ If that’s enough, we polygraph them to find out more information.
“It’s not guilt or innocence. But if I’m responsible for whether or not somebody is going to be released into the community, or if a judge is going to take my recommendation and report, I have to know what I’m dealing with.
‘I’m not going to be able to sleep at night if I think I’ve played a part in somebody dangerous getting out.”
‘A witch doctor’
Burke and fellow PPG lab managers —including Burke-trained R. Gregg Dwyer at MUSC —have fans, and critics.
“He does a phenomenal job,” said Micky Talley, agent in charge of the Dorchester County Probate, Parole and Pardon Services. “I don’t think we could supervise the sex offender population or do our job without Dr. Burke. It certainly helps reduce recidivism,” which is repeating previous bad behavior.
PPG testing is a condition of Dorchester County sex offenders on probation and parole. Talley and Burke meet regularly to go over test results and compliance.
Charleston County Assistant Solicitor Debbie Herring-Lash likes the PPG concept too.
“It helps (defendants) be able to go into court and admit it,” she said. “They’re going to get out of prison eventually, and sometimes it helps to be able to have treatment after they have served their sentence.”
Among his court roles, Burke offers expert testimony and participates in parole revocation hearings and sentencing phases.
His recommendations have been challenged.
“I’ve had a judge look me in the eye in a courtroom full of people and say, ‘I don’t think you’re any better than a witch doctor and I don’t believe any of this,’?”Burke says.
Some defense attorneys consider PPG testing “Orwellian.” Expensive too —$2,200 per test, at least (initially billed to those tested). British Columbia last July established a moratorium on PPG testing of youths. Fresh and objective studies on the disputed device and recidivism are hard to come by.
But South Carolina’s Sexually Violent Predator act of 1998 has made the PPG more palatable here and in states with similar laws.
“Research says it’s the single greatest test of recidivism for child molestation, over any other factor,” Burke says, citing studies done by Canadian clinical psychologist, researcher and author R. Karl Hanson and different partners. ‘If you had one thing you could choose about who is going to re-offend, it’s going to be the PPG result.
“But, again, we don’t want to do these tests to say whether somebody did something or didn’t do something. Because it’s certainly possible that someone might have some arousal to kids and he didn’t do it.
“It’s certainly possible he did do it and it didn’t show up. I don’t think that’s a valid reason to use the test. It’s a risk assessment.”
Burke also gives each patient conventional polygraphs twice a year.
“Just by threatening a polygraph, offenders start admitting to having victims and a greater number of victims,” Burke
“Just by threatening a polygraph, offenders start admitting to having victims and a greater number of victims,” Burke says.
Not everyone is cooperative. Some Burke patients have thrown PPG devices against the wall and attempted to flee —hence the armed guards for those incarcerated. And the off-duty police officer on hand for group therapy meetings.
Once, a patient tried to corner a female therapist. Burke has been the victim of a bomb threat.
“Another guy was beating on the door of my house at 2 a.m.,” he says. “Sometimes when we say, ‘I’m sorry, we don’t think you should have access to your children,’ people get really mad.”
You want no part of this chair, or anything attached.
The PPG fits around the penis.
A respirator monitors breathing patterns.
When you feel like squirming —and you will —a motion detector in the seat picks up every wiggle.
This afternoon, the shackled male is well into the PPG series of 27 “trial challenges.”
The first part of the test includes nude images of adult women and adult men in hopes that there is some response. No other nude photos are used.
“One way of looking at it is that if there is no arousal to nude adults but there is arousal to a kid in a bathing suit, that’s significant information,” Burke whispers as he observes the process from an adjacent room.
In each trial challenge, a photo appears for seven seconds.
Then a 90-second scenario.
Then six other photos related to the scenario.
Two of the challenges include ‘neutral’ stimuli, a skyscraper and furniture.
The entire test is videotaped.
“Just another way of measuring across the board,” Burke says.
But here comes trouble, the rape of a young girl at a desolate beach. She pleads. She weeps.
Then a scene in which a man beats his daughter for her apparent failure to pick up around the house.
The patient is restless.
The graph lines on the computer start moving.
“Unfortunately, he is getting aroused,” Burke says of the one-man captive audience.
This patient already has been through the Visual Sexual Preference exam, part of which includes an audio/photo scenario featuring an adult male preparing to molest a fourth-grade girl: “Why don’t you come sit with me on the couch.” “OK.” “Let’s snuggle up close so we can both see the book.”
Elements to prevent faking are built in. It’s hard to close your eyes or tune out photos when part of the drill is pressing a button whenever a picture changes or the audio gets violent.
“When you combine the tests together, the probability that you’re going to pick up whether or not someone has deviant arousal goes up to 96 or 97 percent. Which is valuable information,” Burke says. “If you just do one test independently, you’re in the low 70s.”
Ultimately, Burke says, the PPG lab is all about breaking down denial.
“Most guys deny, deny and deny. Most guys would rather say ‘I murdered my grandmother’ than admit that they have sexual fantasies about children,” he says.
“Often the only time we can get to that is through this process. That helps break down their denial, which helps us increase our ability to help them. Because sexual fantasy is the basis for 99.9 percent of all deviant sexual behavior.”
Consider the possibility of sexual abuse when the child:
•Has difficulty walking or sitting
•Suddenly refuses to change for gym or to participate in physical activities
•Reports nightmares or bedwetting
•Experiences a sudden change in appetite
•Demonstrates bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual sexual knowledge or behavior
•Becomes pregnant or contracts a venereal disease, particularly if under age 14
•Reports sexual abuse by a parent or other adult caregiver
Consider the possibility of sexual abuse when the parent or other adult caregiver:
•Is unduly protective of the child or severely limits the child’s contact with other children, especially of the opposite sex
•Is secretive and isolated
•Is jealous or controlling with family members
Childwelfare.gov, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Omg, if only I had known of this websites existence a year ago, six months ago, yesterday. My God. I don’t feel completely alone in my tortured feelings and emotions. One of the first threads I came across had a response that was written on the page as though it was my own personal dialogue downloaded directly from my brain and displayed in in black and white, my language, a font that my browser can understand. This is the post I read from someones brain that has heard my thought.
I find that CSA is the “gift that keeps on giving”. It ruins you emotionally, psychologically, physically, financially. We are approaching the 1 year mark since my daughter’s disclosure. It is “easier” than last year. It is “easier” than 6 months ago. I still feel the sadness, rage, disillusionment and every other feeling I’ve had, but it is not every day. There are good days, lots of them and often many in a row. Then there are the bad days. While I don’t believe it will ever go away, I do see that it gets better. Hang in there, you are in my thoughts.
“What you did is not okay! And I am going to be depressed to prove it!”Nobody wants to be depressed! Or do they? If you have suffered depression, you might be aware of the irrational part of you that objects to letting go of depressed feelings. In depression people are more inclined to feel the unfairness of life.
Today I am sharing another post from the archives. I think you will see why this one is important to revisit during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In order to get involved, we need to understand the cultural context in which sexual violence occurs. What is Rape Culture? Given that it is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I think it is important to place sexual violence within a context. Understanding that sexual violence is more than isolated acts … Read More
Or read the full article below. But please visit Dr. Kathleen Young’s blog. She has a multitude of wonderful and insightful articles and links.
Today I am sharing another post from the archives. I think you will see why this one is important to revisit during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In order to get involved, we need to understand the cultural context in which sexual violence occurs.
Given that it is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I think it is important to place sexual violence within a context. Understanding that sexual violence is more than isolated acts by individuals is needed if we truly want to effect lasting change. I have written before, in my response to a commenter on How to Prevent Rape:
Only by putting responsibility where it really belongs, on those who commit acts of violence and abuse, can we start to break this cycle… It means looking at the larger cultural issues that create (mostly) men who become rapists/abusers.
The responsibility does not only belong to the individual perpetrator. As a psychologist well versed in an anti-oppression model, I understand sexual violence not just as random, individual acts, but also as existing within a broader cultural context. This context is a culture in which rape and other sexual violence (usually against women but also those who do not conform to expected gender norms) are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media condone, normalize, excuse, or encourage sexualized violence. This is Rape Culture.
Melissa McEwan of the blog Shakesville has a comprehensive and impactful post about Rape Culture. She details the stuff, both obvious and subtle, that keeps violence against women going. You can read her Rape Culture 101 post in its entirety here. I am sharing much of it here below as well:
(Trigger Warning: Please keep in mind that reading about sexual violence may be very triggering for survivors, so check in with yourself before and after).
Rape Culture 101 by Melissa McEwan
Rape culture is encouraging male sexual aggression. Rape culture is regarding violence as sexy and sexuality as violent. Rape culture is treating rape as a compliment, as the unbridled passion stirred in a healthy man by a beautiful woman, makingirresistible the urge to rip open her bodice or slam her against a wall, or a wrought-iron fence, or a car hood, or pull her by her hair, or shove her onto a bed, or any one of a million other images of fight-fucking in movies and television shows and on the covers of romance novels that convey violent urges are inextricably linked with (straight) sexuality.
Rape culture is treating straight sexuality as the norm. Rape culture is lumping queer sexuality into nonconsensual sexual practices like pedophilia and bestiality. Rape culture is privileging heterosexuality because ubiquitous imagery of two adults of the same-sex engaging in egalitarian partnerships without gender-based dominance and submission undermines (erroneous) biological rationales for the rape culture’s existence.
Rape culture is 1 in 33 men being sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Rape culture is encouraging men to use the language of rape to establish dominance over one another (“I’ll make you my bitch”). Rape culture is making rape a ubiquitous part ofmale-exclusive bonding. Rape culture is ignoring the cavernous need for men’s prison reform in part because the threat of being raped in prison is considered an acceptable deterrent to committing crime, and the threat only works if actual men are actually being raped.
Rape culture is 1 in 6 women being sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Rape culture is not even talking about the reality thatmany women are sexually assaulted multiple times in their lives. Rape culture is the way in which the constant threat of sexual assault affects women’s daily movements. Rape culture is telling girls and women to be careful about what you wear, how you wear it, how you carry yourself, where you walk, when you walk there, with whom you walk, whom you trust, what you do, where you do it, with whom you do it, what you drink, how much you drink, whether you make eye contact, if you’re alone, if you’re with a stranger, if you’re in a group, if you’re in a group of strangers, if it’s dark, if the area is unfamiliar, if you’re carrying something, how you carry it, what kind of shoes you’re wearing in case you have to run, what kind of purse you carry, what jewelry you wear, what time it is, what street it is, what environment it is, how many people you sleep with, what kind of people you sleep with, who your friends are, to whom you give your number, who’s around when the delivery guy comes, to get an apartment where you can see who’s at the door before they can see you, to check before you open the door to the delivery guy, to own a dog or a dog-sound-making machine, to get a roommate, to take self-defense, to always be alert always pay attention always watch your back always be aware of your surroundings and never let your guard down for a moment lest you be sexually assaulted and if you are and didn’t follow all the rules it’s your fault.
Rape culture is the idea that only certain people rape—and only certain people get raped. Rape culture is ignoring that the thing about rapists is that they rape people. They rape people who are strong and people who are weak, people who are smart and people who are dumb, people who fight back and people who submit just to get it over with, people who are sluts and people who are prudes, people who rich and people who are poor, people who are tall and people who are short, people who are fat and people who are thin, people who are blind and people who are sighted, people who are deaf and people who can hear, people of every race and shape and size and ability and circumstance.
Rape culture is refusing to acknowledge that the only thing that the victim of every rapist shares in common is bad fucking luck. Rape culture is refusing to acknowledge that the only thing a person can do to avoid being raped is never be in the same room as a rapist. Rape culture is avoiding talking about what an absurdly unreasonable expectation that is, since rapists don’t announce themselves or wear signs or glow purple.
Rape culture is a serial rapist being appointed to a federal panel that makes decisions regarding women’s health.
Rape culture is a ruling that says women cannot withdraw consent once sex commences.
Rape culture is a collective understanding about classifications of rapists: The “normal” rapist (whose crime is most likely to be dismissed with a “boys will be boys” sort of jocular apologia) is the man who forces himself on attractive women, women his age in fine health and form, whose crime is disturbinglyunderstandable to his male defenders. The “real sickos” are the men who go after children, old ladies, the disabled, accident victims languishing in comas—the sort of people who can’t fight back, whose rape is difficult to imagine as titillating, unlike the rape of “pretty girls,” so easily cast in a fight-fuck fantasy of squealing and squirming and eventual relenting to the “flattery” of being raped.
Rape culture is the insistence on trying to distinguish between different kinds of rape via the use of terms like “gray rape” or “date rape.”
Rape culture is pervasive narratives about rape that exist despite evidence to the contrary. Rape culture is pervasive imagery of stranger rape, even though women are three times more likely to be raped by someone they know than a stranger, and nine times more likely to be raped in their home, the home of someone they know, or anywhere else than being raped on the street, making what is commonly referred to as “date rape” by far the most prevalent type of rape. Rape culture is pervasive insistence that false reports are common, although they are less common (1.6%) than false reports of auto theft (2.6%). Rape culture is pervasive claims that women make rape accusations willy-nilly, when 61% of rapes remain unreported.
Rape culture is the pervasive narrative that there is a “typical” way to behave after being raped, instead of the acknowledgment that responses to rape are as varied as its victims, that, immediately following a rape, some women go into shock; some are lucid; some are angry; some are ashamed; some are stoic; some are erratic; some want to report it; some don’t; some will act out; some will crawl inside themselves; some will have healthy sex lives; some never will again.
Rape culture is the pervasive narrative that a rape victim who reports hir rape is readily believed and well-supported, instead of acknowledging that reporting a rape is a huge personal investment, a difficult process that can be embarrassing, shameful, hurtful, frustrating, and too often unfulfilling. Rape culture is ignoring that there is very little incentive to report a rape; it’s a terrible experience with a small likelihood of seeing justice served.
Rape culture is hospitals that won’t do rape kits, disbelieving law enforcement, unmotivated prosecutors, hostile judges, victim-blaming juries, and paltry sentencing.
Rape culture is the fact that higher incidents of rape tend tocorrelate with lower conviction rates.
Rape culture is silence around rape in the national discourse, and in rape victims’ homes. Rape culture is treating surviving rape as something of which to be ashamed. Rape culture is families torn apart because of rape allegations that are disbelieved or ignored or sunk to the bottom of a deep, dark sea in an iron vault of secrecy and silence.
Rape culture is the objectification of women, which is part of a dehumanizing process that renders consent irrelevant. Rape culture is treating women’s bodies like public property. Rape culture is street harassment and groping on public transportation and equating raped women’s bodies to a manwalking around with valuables hanging out of his pockets. Rape culture is most men being so far removed from the threat of rape that invoking property theft is evidently the closest thing many of them can imagine to being forcibly subjected to a sexual assault.
Rape culture is ignoring the way in which professional environments that treat sexual access to female subordinates as entitlements of successful men can be coercive and compromise enthusiastic consent.
Rape culture is pretending that non-physical sexual assaults, like peeping tomming, is totally unrelated to brutal and physical sexual assaults, rather than viewing them on a continuum of sexual assault.
Rape culture is diminishing the gravity of any sexual assault, attempted sexual assault, or culture of actual or potential coercion in any way.
Rape culture is using the word “rape” to describe something that has been done to you other than a forced or coerced sex act. Rape culture is saying things like “That ATM raped me with a huge fee” or “The IRS raped me on my taxes.”
Rape culture is people objecting to the detritus of the rape culture being called oversensitive, rather than people who perpetuate the rape culture being regarded as not sensitiveenough.
Rape culture is the myriad ways in which rape is tacitly and overtly abetted and encouraged having saturated every corner of our culture so thoroughly that people can’t easily wrap their heads around what the rape culture actually is.
That’s hardly everything. It’s merely the tip of an unfathomable iceberg.
I know there is a lot to take in here. I’d love to hear your reactions and thoughts.
1. Sharing my bed. I loved laying next to my husband listening to the rhythmic sound of his breathing. I loved cuddling close when I was chilly. And I loved the smell and feel of his soft clean skin. My … Continue reading →
I think it’s time to post this; The date was March 26th. The day before the 2010 Flowertown Festival. A friday night, I believe. I was at my boyfriend’s house. I don’t remember where his sisters were, but they weren’t home. My boyfriend’s mom (Holly) & step dad (We’ll identify him as “Asshole” here, as I don’t think he deserves a name) were there. We were just hanging out, watching tv, the normal stuff. Asshole was going to North Carolina for some reason so Holly asked him to fix the tire on her car before he left so she could go to the Festival with her kids & a friend the next day. After that, I’m not so sure why, but they got into an argument. I’d never seen them argue before. First they were downstairs, Holly saw it was making me uncomfortable, so she went upstairs, Asshole followed her, then after a few minutes he came downstairs. I was sitting on the couch, I had cramps so I was kinda hunched over. My boyfriend was in the bathroom. Asshole walked past the couch into the kitchen, as he did that, he looked me right in the eye and said “I hope you don’t think I’m an asshole, that’s not really me,” my reaction to that was just a smile, but I was thinking, “Stop screaming at your wife, your being a dick!!!!!” My boyfriend came out of the bathroom and sat on the floor in front of the couch. Asshole got another drink (He was drunk, which made things worse). Asshole came up behind me, ran his hand up and down my back a couple times, flicked his fingers over my belt towards my butt, ran his hand up my back again, rubbed my shoulder, and snapped my bra. The way he did it was like, he was trying to be sensual, or intimate. To be honest, I thought it was my boyfriend until I turned around and saw him. My boyfriend didn’t see him do it, he just heard my bra snap & me say ouch. His reaction to that was standing up and saying “Dad, what the fuck?!” Asshole just smiled. Holly came downstairs, looked at me, looked at her son, then went back up. Of course, Asshole followed, restarting the fight. I remember she said “Just stop it, you’re making all of the people in this house sick.” I didn’t realize it at the time, but now I know she said that because after he did that to me, I looked like I was going to throw up & since she didn’t know he did it, she thought it was because they were fighting. I balled up on the couch and cried. My boyfriend thought is was because my stomach hurt & I had cramps. He still thinks so, I don’t have the heart to tell him any different. About 10 minutes later, Asshole left. My mom came to pick me up about 30 minutes after he left. My boyfriend told her that my stomach hurt so bad I was crying earlier. Again, I didn’t have the heart to correct him + I was totally weirded out to the point that I wasn’t talking to anybody. I got home, my mom told me to go to straight to bed so I’d feel better in the morning. I didn’t. As soon as she went to sleep, I got up and took a shower. I felt gross & disgusted. I thought about what he did. That water in the shower must’ve been 200 degrees. I just wanted to feel clean…and I didn’t. My boyfriend’s dad’s hands on me, my best friend’s dad’s hands on me, my mom’s best friend’s husband’s hands on me. I threw up. About a week later, my boyfriend called me at 10:23 pm. I will never forget that phone call. He told me his step dad was going to jail… Shocked, I stammered to ask what for. “Child molestation…” His voice cracked, like he was trying not to cry. I fell off of my bed, crumpled on the floor, and cried. He didn’t have to tell me anything else, I knew he molested my best friend. Because he touched me, she and I are close in age, it made sense, or something. The only words I could make out were “That stupid son of a bitch…” My boyfriend told me to stop crying, that he’d cried all day & he didn’t want to anymore. Now, over a year later, court is ongoing, Asshole is living as if he did nothing wrong and he left everyone to just pick up the pieces of something he broke. I’ve only seen him once since then. About a week after my best friend told what he did. I was in Lowe’s with my boyfriend & Holly. I don’t really remember exactly what happened, but I remember my boyfriend seeing him and telling me to walk down an aisle, I was not having that & I tried to walk over to Asshole. I was gonna spit on him, scream at him, hit him, kill him with a flower pot or a garden spade, I don’t know what would have happened had my boyfriend not grabbed me and dragged me down the aisle. We drove back to Holly’s house to get some things (they were staying at Holly’s mom’s house) , I remember her saying that if Asshole was there, that me and her son would have to leave, because she would have killed him. We pulled into their neighborhood, I was in the back seat of the car, they were occupied with something, I’m not sure what, I think Holly dropped her phone as it was ringing. They didn’t see, but as we turned, I saw Asshole, in his truck driving on the road outside of the subdivision, he must have been either leaving, or have seen us and decided not to come in the neighborhood. I’m not sure which. I also recall seeing a friend of my dad’s named Bryan who lives in the adjacent subdivision drive out right behind Asshole. They had met before, so I kept thinking “I hope Bryan either doesn’t know what Asshole did, or if he does, he won’t recognize his truck,” because Bryan’s the kinda guy who would have no problem killing a child molester. That is something I never told anybody but my dad, and that was months after this happened. I could tell so much more, but that’s all I can stand to type right now. Now you all know, in detail why I run this blog & why it’s important to me. Stay strong, survivors! You’re all fighters & I’m here if you need anything. Posted at 4:11 PM 5 notes Permalink ∞
bonesandpetals asked: first and foremost, this blog is absolutely beautiful.
what i’ve been through is minor in comparrison to most peoples story, but reguardless its still chil abuse. my dads an abusive alcoholic and is hooked on various drugs, for my entire childhood he negelected my brother and i, until about two years ago. he now swaps between hitting my brother and threatening me, to telling us he loves us entirely and our mother couldnt care less because we’re unimportant to her.
i think the people that are telling you to stop talking about child abuse are narrow-minded, and pathetic. people should know about whats going on around them, and i have so much respect for making this blog. keep at it, no matter what anyone says<3
Thank you for being brave & sharing your story. Have you done anything about the abuse?