Friday, January 11, 2008

The Real Violence Behind So-Called Gray Rape

From Western Week:

Last month, officials at Lewis&Clark College suspended Morgan Shaw-Fox, a scholarship student from Boulder, Colo. Most students at Lewis&Clark follow the rules and rarely get in trouble. When they do, it’s often because of flagrant drug use or underage drinking.

Not in this case. According to a number of sources on campus, Shaw-Fox was ordered to leave for one semester for a transgression that is both rarely discussed and, according to experts, very common on college campuses.

Only one semester?

Sorry, but he should have been expelled. However, the sad reality is that this sanction is likely greater than most college men like him ever get for their crimes.

Helen Hunter, a sophomore at Lewis&Clark, says Shaw-Fox forced her to perform oral sex on him the night of Oct. 10. Both of them had been drinking, she says. “Once things got pretty violent, I didn’t know how to get out of it,” Hunter, who’s 19, told WW of the alleged assault. (She agreed to let WW publish her name and photograph.) “I’m a pretty strong person, but I didn’t know what to do.”

The key here is that this man turned violent. To understand this is to understand that 2 college men could go out drinking on a Saturday night and midway through their time out when they are alone, one of those men could sucker punch the other and when the stunned friend is in shock, the other seeming nice guy could beat and choke his friend just because he can and because his violence gives him a rush of power. Once they are around others the violent friend reverts to being a nice guy.

Why a seemingly non-violent college man would instantly turn violent and then switch off that violence again might be confusing, but there is no confusion about whether criminal violence happened. This ability to switch violence on and off would rightfully be seen as control rather than lack of control ascribed to those who turn violent in this exact way against girls and women.

Few people would tell the assaulted college man, "What did you expect when you agreed to being alone with him like that? And don't you know what can happen when you drink?" Most people would view the violent one as the only one who did anything wrong.

Yet because so many people ask questions like this to girls and women who are sexually assaulted, it's no wonder that some people diminish what happened into gray rape when it happens to others or when it happens to them. If gray rape has any meaning, it is simply as an MO for certain types of sex criminals.

What is being called "gray rape" by people like Laura Sessions Stepp is nothing new and is not a consequence of our hook-up culture -- which is a fancy way of saying "she asked for it."

This type of violence was around when I was raped and it was by no means a newly minted behavior back then. Women's behavior didn't cause this so-called gray rape to be committed against them, those who choose violent sexual behavior are the cause.

Rape has historically been seen as what a girl or woman deserves if she doesn't behave with proper purity or if she is married and doesn't behave with unlimited consent. This rightly gets these people called rape apologists and rape enablers. They are absolutely 110% against some rapes and will often twist the rapes they are not against into being false accusations or bad behavior which is and should be legal.

The solution of, "If you don't want to be gray raped never be alone with a man and never consent to any sexualized actions" assumes that all men are rapists who are just waiting for the right trigger to turn violent. That's an insult to all those boys and men who would never rape or get sexually violent or abusive under any circumstances and it makes them the ones who seem abnormal for failing to do the manly thing and attack at the first vulnerable moment.

These questions and victim-centric solutions make sexual violence and sexual abuse normal and expected and they fail to hold those who choose to be violent accountable for their actions. Only their victims are accountable for trusting someone who turned out to be a rapist.

No wonder victims of this type of violence are often confused over what happened and afraid to label what happened to them as flat out sexual violence. Thankfully this woman might have been stunned momentarily, but she knew what was done to her was wrong and she spoke up against it.

Bravo.

Hat tip: Feministing

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:52 AM   1 comments links to this post

1 Comments:

At January 13, 2008 9:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gray rape sucks..... (pun intended.)
Seriously any unwanted sexual activity should be frowned on, unfortunately their are too many men who feel that spend time and energy with a women entitles him to benefits. Also the dating culture is a barter system. Think about it, when was the last time male or female you started dating someone and had sex immediately? Since ultimately that's what it's all about. Would anyone date if there was absolutely no chance of sex? Oops, way off topic, gray rape is rape just as date rape is he should be prosecuted found guilty go to jail and be listed as a sexual predator. But that's just my opinion......

 

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