An Internet Troll Mansplained My Rape to Me
My rapist’s happiness matters more than mine? Wow.
The internet has been a continued breeding ground for faceless bullies for quite some time now. Cowards who hind behind anonymity and their screens, spewing hateful things and damaging messages at people, just for kicks.
I haven't had much troll traffic since writing about my personal experiences but recently a faceless man decided to mansplain why I got raped in a comment left under my story.
Rape culture creates a hostile environment where victims are meant to shoulder the blame of the offenses levied against their bodies. It is an environment where rape is prevalent, sexual violence is normalized - yet excused and glorified in media and pop culture.
Misogynistic language seeks to immortalize rape culture through objectifying women's bodies, impairing women's bodily autonomy and agency, while glamorizing sexual violence to the detriment of women's rights and safety by society at large.
In the United States, rape culture is so insidious, it has led to the majority of sexual assaults going unreported to the police:
Only 230 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to the police. That means about 3 out of 4 go unreported.
Individuals of college-age 2
Female Students: 20% report
Female Non-Students: 32% report
The elderly: 28% report
Members of the military: 43% of female victims and 10% of male victims reported. - Source
In a society infected with rape culture, many reports of sexual violence go unreported out of fear, retaliation, being deemed not credible. Imagine walking in to seek help and justice for the assault you'd just sustained that ripped part of your soul away, only to be gas-lighted into thinking you're overreacting. Statistics reflect that:
O f the sexual violent crimes not reported to police, the victim gave the following reasons for not reporting:
20% feared retaliation
13% believed the police would not do anything to help
13% believed it was a personal matter
8% reported to a different official
8% believed it was not important enough to report
7% did not want to get the perpetrator in trouble
2% believed the police could not do anything to help
30% gave another reason or did not cite one reason - Source
Understanding the Psychology of Victim Blaming
Society at large has been marinating in patriarchal propaganda with misogynistic language for some seasoning to the extent that we've all internalized a lot of the putrid ideas born of it.
As a result, it's festered produced rape culture and systems that seek to oppress women. Even women have internalized a lot of misogyny and some have actively participated in victim blaming as well.
A major reason people lay the fault on the victim is to erect a barrier between themselves and the distasteful event in a bid to qualify their invulnerability to the risk of happening to them. If the accusation is imposed on the victim, other people can view the victim as different from themselves.
It's some very twisted psychology at work but it is a direct result of rape culture and helps to fuel it. People are reassured by not having the same experience, being different from the victim, and think it would never happen to them. This frame of thinking helps nobody and only allows rape culture to flourish and continue.
The faceless man that commented on my post posits that I should not believe in a society that establishes the idea of men losing control as their fault.
He mansplained to me; society cannot be trusted since it once held Slavery as legal; interesting analogy to throw at a black woman while simultaneously victim-blaming her. He then continued by saying "Just because you're in the good graces of society today doesn't mean in the future people won't think you're just a bit entitled."
Interesting, so now that we are beginning to be more progressive and open about sexual assault, abuse, and rape, women are now more entitled? What? Women can't be autonomous, walk-in their agency and use their right by virtue of existence to consent to sexual advances without being deemed negatively entitled or waiting for the other shoe to drop when society, yet again, stops listening to victims of sexual violence.
The commenter wrapped his thoughts up by saying that I placed my happiness above my perpetrator's and that's why I was aggressively penetrated without my consent. You can read the full comment below:
Victim blaming leaves out the most important aspect of sexual violence - it occurs because the victim's consent is disregarded and therefore can never be at fault. Yes, I was friends with this guy and consented to hang out with him, however, I never gave consent to have sex with him.
My story explicitly outlines the events, how I fought him off, said no, tried to get away and he still used force, held me down and raped me. Yet this reader had the unmitigated gall to say my rapist did it because I disregarded his happiness and what he wanted.
This line of thinking goes along with the "no means yes" argument of a bygone era, used to excuse the predatory behavior of men, and deeming women just a little coquettish where sex is concerned but she wants that ravishment - why else would she play hard to get. No means fucking no. No matter what happens. If a person says no amid sex then it's rape if the other party continues. There is no justification for rape; the victim is never to be blamed.
His response was to a highlight of a sentence where I reflected on how I thought it was my fault at first. Perhaps, I should have been more clear then, about how my past self was whipping my own back at the dominion of rape culture's feet. I figured it was obvious but in the future, I will learn to spell out exactly what I mean, less my meaning is misconstrued or twisted.
The Dangers of Victim Blaming
To reiterate, the primary danger of victim-blaming is; it emboldens misogyny, fuels the patriarchy and keeps rape culture thriving. Besides, it marginalizes the victim/survivor making reporting the abuse difficult.
I didn't report what happened to me because I'd already been conditioned that my story would fall on deaf ears. Victim-blame on a society level shames the victims/survivors into remaining quiet, suffering in silence, and helps the perpetrators get away with it only to repeat the crime.
By engaging in victim-blaming attitudes and language, society allows the abuser to perpetrate relationship abuse or sexual assault while avoiding accountability for their actions.
How Can We Fight Against Victim-Blaming as a Society?
Marshall University and the Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness compiled a list of ways this can be done:
- Avoid using language that objectifies or degrades women
- Speak out if you hear someone else making an offensive joke or trivializing rape
- If a friend says they have been raped, take your friend seriously and be supportive
- Think critically about the media's messages about women, men, relationships, and violence
- Be respectful of others' physical space even in casual situations
- Let survivors know that it is not their fault
- Hold abusers accountable for their actions: do not let them make excuses like blaming the victim, alcohol, or drugs for their behavior
- Always communicate with sexual partners and do not assume consent
- Define your manhood or womanhood. Do not let stereotypes shape your actions.
- Be an Active Bystander.
Society Needs to Evolve Out of Rape Culture
Countless stories like mine about rape and sexual abuse help to allow victims/survivors to be seen and heard. It took years for me to build up the courage to speak my truth, talk about the atrocities committed against my body, and the resulting emotional and mental trauma.
I have a long history of sexual abuse, assault, and rape - many times I felt the repeated occurrences had to be my fault because I was the common denominator. I'm trying to reprogram my thinking where victim-blaming is concerned.
Reading this comment and another the at followed, in which the guy said I was stupid for what happened; reopened the internalized victim-blaming I continue to struggle with. Did I doubt myself, was I right to share my story? Yes, for a moment after the knee-jerk irritation subsided, I questioned what happened to me and by extension my motives for writing about it.
Then I realized what was at work, the same rape cultural conditioning all of us have had to endure. I'm writing this now because victim-blaming has to stop for us to eradicate rape culture and end sexual violence. It will take time but we cannot allow people to push us back into silence.
Our stories are real, what we sustained was real, our trauma is real and our healing is real and necessary. The victims are never at fault. Guilt, shame, and accountability will forever rest on the shoulders of the abusers, sexual deviants, and rapists of the world.
It was not my fault. I was not stupid for trusting a man I thought a friend, I did not discount his happiness, nor did that lead to him being justified in violating me. I am on the right side of society. The side under-girded by justice, human rights, equity, and human agency afforded to all.
All humans reserve the right to choose who gets to enter their personal space, our bodies belong to us, and we have a right to demand consent. We are never at fault when that consent is violated.
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