For the record, we don't tend to keep silent not because we're not interested parties. We keep silent because there are risks to talking. There are the people who will mock us for talking about a bad experience.
More to the point, how did this thread come to be about you? It strikes me as a wee bit narcissistic of you, to turn a thread about the scope and limits of cultural relativism into an account of What Happened to Me When I was a Kid.
Just remember, Steph: it's all about you. Everything's about you.
There are the people who will insist that your concern be subsumed in the interest of uncovering the DARKER TRUTH.
Do you know that for nearly 30 years feminists were using pseudo-science to justify the belief (not the fact) that men were the only ones who are violent in a relationship? For 30 years, dozens of studies were fudged to support this LIE. Eventually, the truth came out: one third of hospital visits related to DV are from men, victimization studies amongst younger couples show that women are slightly more violent than men. And it turns out that the most violent form of relationship is same-sex female (i.e. lesbians).
And then there are your friends--bless their myopic hearts. Let me tell you a story.
I sent an email to a male friend yesterday afternoon because I was finding a combination of arguments made in all this mess to be creepy and he had a perspective that could be useful. I used the word, "creepy," in the email and asked for a gut check because I know I'm not a disinterested party in this discussion. This is not an easy subject to talk about for the reasons listed above and others, and I've been getting less and less comfortable as the week has worn on. I was going out of my way to be fair to the party in question.
For reasons of no importance, the email didn't reach its target until this morning. My friend and I chatted back and forth a little bit. He asked me how things were going. I responded.
Stressful. I've just spent this week talking and writing about rape with a bunch of guys who have told me:
- I have no business bringing personal experience into the discussion and making it all about me.
- Women lie about these things, you know.
- What about the men?
- It's more important to have fun sex than to be clear on consent at the beginning and throughout the process.
- Their gut impression is more valid than my interested and studied opinion.
- Where is my outrage about name calling?
That wasn't going out of my way to be fair in the least, but he'd asked.
As he dug into the thread, he commented about the lack of communication going on in the comments. I directed him a bit more toward the parts that were "creeping me out," including a lack of apparent empathy. Eventually, he came back with a fairly dispassionate analysis of the theory of the rape switch and some commentary on the nature and complexity of sexuality.
I asked, "So, in all this, why was I not able to sleep last night?"
He responded, "Because you hate to be wrong."
When I had choked back both the urge to cry and the urge to rip his throat out, I carefully asked him to "be a little more specific about what I said yesterday that was wrong that I would know was wrong that would keep me awake."
The response: "I was just poking you, I wasn't actually serious."
That was when I did cry. Hell, I'm crying now, writing about it.
There is a fundamental disconnect here that I do not understand. What about "we're talking about rape, and I'm creeped out and stressed to the point that I'm having trouble sleeping and want someone to double-check me on something" invites poking? For that matter, what about "when it comes to my safety, I don't care about fine distinctions in words" invites people to tell me I need to stick to higher moral ground than the trained guys with weapons?
Yes, those are questions. I'm still closing the comments on this post, because I truly can't predict what I'll do if someone tries to answer them in terms of their feelings and needs instead of mine. If someone wants to talk about it, they can open a thread somewhere where I don't have to see it.
I had enough not being heard. Y'all can try it for a change.
Update: DuWayne's got a somewhat ridiculously titled post open for anyone who wants to talk among themselves.