Friday, February 02, 2007

Acceptable And Unacceptable Voices of The Raped

In a recent Baltimore Reporter article about the movie Hounddog titled Rape for Profit. What’s Next? James H. Lilley gives his opinion about what type of voice should represent the silent victims of rape.

Rape is a vile, savage act of brutality committed against a woman and its sole purpose is to control, dominate and demean her in every way possible. The voice representing the silenced women is the voice that screams for justice. The woman who reports her attack and demands some measure of justice for what's happened to her. This is also the woman who isn't fighting just for herself, but for each and every victim of rape and sexual assault, reported and unreported. She's going to spit right in the face of the system that's failed so many others and the attorney who defends her attacker. She doesn't give a damn that she's going to be on trial and have her personal life torn apart by the defendant's attorney. She knows her attacker's attorney is going to tell the jury that he's a candidate for sainthood and it's she who was the aggressor. She viscously beat herself in front of his client and forced him to have sex with her. She knows that and still takes the stand and tells the jury what happened. She stands up to the fierce cross-examination and stares down her assailant when he tries to seduce her with a smile as she testifies. She's the woman with the courage to stand up in front of others, tells them in blunt, no holds barred terms what happened to her and tries to convince them to do the same. That's the voice speaking for the silent women—not your 12-year-old on the screen. (emphasis added.)
In other words the only worthy voice for rape victims is one who speaks like Joan of Arc. The worthy voice isn't one which reflects a significant reality of rape -- silence because of the pervasiveness of abuse, victim blaming, victim bashing and victim denial. The worthy voice doesn't care if her name is cleared in her lifetime. The worthy voice is willing to sacrifice her very life.

Men like Mr. Lilley don't want to hear the unworthy voices of most rape victims and survivors.

His narrow definition of rape demonstrates that he suffers from rape blindness. The rapes that get to him are the ones against small children or the ones that put their victims into the hospital with non-sexual injuries and which when he encounters them have a visceral impact on him.

With one look at the victim he can see she really is a genuine victim. He doesn't see that most men who end up committing rapes like this didn't start by leaving their victims so obviously injured or by picking victims everybody accepts as unable to consent.

Most rapists understand clearly this division between worthy and unworthy rape victims and use it to their advantage. Sometimes they get so deluded by their "successes" that they think they can get away with any type of rape.

Don't get me wrong, I admire the women who report their rapes and who won't give up on seeing their rapist or rapists held legally accountable. But to imply that these women are the only rape victims worthy of having a voice is to attempt to heap extra shame onto rape victims like me.

Nobody except my rapist saw evidence of what happened to me and it took me 20 years to write my autobiographical novel Cherry Love which shows why it was so hard for me to find my voice like a good and noble rape victim should.

If I had seen a film back then, or even heard of one, with a rape scene like that included in Hounddog, I would have realized it wasn't just me who was betrayed by someone close to me. I would have realized I wasn't alone or crazy.

If Mr. Lilley had his way, there would be no such film.
There’s no truth or voice speaking for others when the assault is never reported or mentioned again in your movie. It’s all about money—nothing else. The buildup and advertising of the rape scene is no more than a scheme to lure people into spending their money and filling your pockets.
This position reveals complete ignorance about what most rapes look like and what the rape laws looked like in the era when Dakota Fanning's character was raped. Without the technology to get DNA evidence and without a child from the rape there would likely be no chance that the rapist would be charged with statutory rape. Yet this character should have reported being raped or told somebody?

I don't think so. The fallout from telling could have been far worse than being raped. Many survivors survive by locking their rape in a box until they decide they are ready to open the box and examine the contents.

The voice that best represents the silent victims isn't one type of voice. The voice of the silent victims is a symphony of voices.

Those who fought to change the sex crimes laws so rapes like that shown in Hounddog would be prosecutable crimes were called men haters and often still are called that rather than being called worthy voices who refuse to be silenced by those who turned a blind eye to numerous rapes because they didn't leave the victim sufficiently battered.

Most rape victims try to move on and not get trapped in that traumatic moment, but the trauma doesn't magically disappear the moment it is suppressed. A film that captures these dynamics would be filled with truth and could speak for many real rape victims and wouldn't be all about the money.

Is Hounddog that film? I don't know.

The Joan of Arc rape victims sound noble in theory, but in reality they are likely to get treated like Joan of Arc was treated by her contemporaries. Attacked and called a heratic. Sometimes murdered or the subject of a murder-for-hire plot.

For a clear example of the contrast between this man's image of the perfect voice of rape victims and the reality of how alleged rape victims who do report are treated by the public, we only have to look at the Duke Rape Case. How many men are standing and cheering her courage in the face of attacks from the defense attorneys? How many are villifying her without a care that criminal charges are still pending? Frankly, the second group seems to be the dominant one.

With the title of this article, Rape for Profit. What’s Next?, he could have given a voice to those whose real rapes are recorded and turned into porn, but that apparently isn't worth mentioning. Instead he attacks a film he hasn't seen and clearly doesn't understand.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:04 AM   0 comments links to this post


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