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Big fat trigger warning for rape stuff - Tactical Ninja

Jul. 6th, 2011

12:23 pm - Big fat trigger warning for rape stuff

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OK so this is weird. It's an article about a journalist who helped a woman who had been raped in Haiti, and who consequently suffered PTSD symptoms. She staged her own rape in order to get over the PTSD in a technique known as 'mastery'.


She staged her own rape.

SHE STAGED HER OWN RAPE.

Yep, she got a trusted friend to violently sexually abuse her, and wrote about the experience, as a way of facing her demons which had come about through the witnessing of violent sexual abuse towards others.

Bully for her. I'm not about to judge her for choosing to do this - I can definitely see how it might be helpful to experience something like this and survive it after having imagined it as something you don't survive. I'm sure she feels strong and powerful now.

But rape? Nope. This is rape fantasy fulfilment. Violent consensual sex. BDSM if you will.

She chose for this to happen. She could have stopped it at any time. She did not have to decide whether or not to go to the police, or wonder whether what happened to her even qualified as rape, or face the 'but what were you wearing' victim-blaming questions. She knew she had consented and she knew that if she withdrew consent it would stop. The fact that she chose to continue it is a testament to her determination, I guess.

But she CHOSE IT.

Rape is not about choice and this journalist has not experienced rape. She has had a trust-building experience in which her consent and the knowledge that it would be adhered to was the pivotal factor - while the experience simulated complete helplessness, she was the one in control the entire time. This is one of the things about kink that some people have trouble getting their heads around - even with extreme edge play, it's play - it's entered into by negotiation and agreement, there is (or should be) a safe word, and when one person says stop, it stops. Being able to stop an edgy/risky/dangerous/scary experience through nothing but the assertion of one's desire to stop is a powerful thing. I can say with conviction that engaging in kink has helped my own rape-related PTSD tremendously. It builds trust instead of destroying it. It empowers rather than enforcing helplessness. And it heals even if it hurts.

In other words, it is not rape.

I don't know why I felt the need to say this, it's not as if you lot don't already know. But it's important. It's important to the question of why anyone who's been raped would be interested in kink, which is a question I've been asked before. It's also important because it seems the Daily Fail is selling the journalist's experience as a rape experience, and it's not. I wonder what the woman in Haiti, the one who was told it was her own fault after being stitched up, would think of this presentation?

Like I said, I'm not judging the journalist for her choices, and I admire her fortitude in writing about her experience.

But it's not rape.


Gosh, that got heavy. Here, have some ponies:

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From:pythia
Date:July 6th, 2011 12:55 am (UTC)
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It seems kind of like the ultimate co-opting of rape survivors experiences, really. If she had been raped before, then I think this would be a great thing, but as it is...no. Just no.
It sounds more like she was having an anxiety disorder that focused on being raped rather than PTSD, to me. Why yes, of course I know better than her actual therapist. But seriously, how can you have PTSD without the actual traumatic event?

Feeling distintcly weird about this one.
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From:pythia
Date:July 6th, 2011 12:59 am (UTC)
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Ok, I didn't realise that she actually saw the attack, so that changes pretty much everything I just said. Hah.

Still not entirely comfortable with it, though.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 6th, 2011 01:47 am (UTC)
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I have a small amount of discomfort around the friend who was enlisted to 'perform the service' so to speak - but even then I can't exactly articulate why because in terms of negotiation, trust and safety it's got zero difference from asking someone to tie you up and flog you with a bit of celery, you know?
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From:clashfan
Date:July 6th, 2011 01:57 am (UTC)
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What squicked me the most about her description of her experience with her friend was when he struck her hard in the face with his elbow (albeit cushioned with a pillow). Shots to the head are a different ballgame to me than standard BDSM. That part was what made it different from a 'standard' forcible-play encounter--to me. Obviously, others will see it differently.

I forgot to mention that I was happy to read that her partner in that experience was more than the 'friend' the Fail referred to. It was someone she'd been sexually intimate with before, and shared a relationship of love and trust prior to this episode. For some reason, that mattered to me, and it was another example of the Fail in how they referred to her partner.
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From:clashfan
Date:July 6th, 2011 01:37 am (UTC)
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I got curious and went and read her article, not just the Mail's representation of an interview about the article. She did not refer to her experience with her friend as rape, even a staged one; it appears to me that she was very careful to not do that. I know that you did not say that she did, but rather indicted the Daily Fail's choice in how to present it. I just wanted to be clear.

Also, I've read some of her stuff in Mother Jones prior to this; she's walked the walk in terms of going to scary places and talking to people on the ground to get the story. Not just Haiti, but Katrina, DeepWater Horizon, Burmese rebels in exile.

BrokenPhoenix, what about this are you not comfortable with? I am genuinely curious.
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From:pythia
Date:July 6th, 2011 01:40 am (UTC)
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Honestly, I'm not entirely sure. I've been thinking about it for a while, and yes, I've read her article too. It's definitely better, but there's still something I can't quite articulate that's bothering me about it.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 6th, 2011 01:45 am (UTC)
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Yeah, that was the impression I got too.

(um, that it was daily fail's fail that is)

Edited at 2011-07-06 01:45 am (UTC)
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From:bekitty
Date:July 6th, 2011 03:56 am (UTC)
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Edge play and BDSM are examples of power exchange. Rape is an example of power theft. They are not the same thing, and the Daily Fail needs to recognise this.
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From:bekitty
Date:July 6th, 2011 04:09 am (UTC)
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By the way, Tats, I'd be interested in your take on this:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/5238703/Measures-for-addicts-could-backfire

Seems that yet another government department hasn't read the Law Commission's report on drug policy and harm minimisation. :-/
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From:tatjna
Date:July 6th, 2011 06:04 am (UTC)
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That policy was just implemented in Florida. ;-/

There are a couple of fallacious assumptions in the group's recommendation. First, they assume that 'work ready' equates to 'drug free'. In some cases, for example the forestry work one, having residual effects from alcohol and/or drugs and operating heavy machinery can indeed be very dangerous, and it makes sense to take measures to ensure staff aren't impaired when working. However, there are many jobs where this is not an issue and having failed a drug test while on a benefit will simply place another barrier in front of people who are already 'work-ready'.

The second is the assumption that reducing a person's benefit will be an incentive not to use drugs. There are studies out the wazoo demonstrating that poverty and drug use are interrelated, but the relationship is multidirectional and increasing poverty is more likely to increase drug use than reduce it - so if what they want is less poor people on drugs then it's an arse-backwards approach.

Stemming from this, I can see a downward spiral for those whose benefits are reduced - people who may not have 'problem' drug use at all, yet fail a test for say, weed three times (that'd be 1 in 7 in our population of self-confessed regular weed smokers), will be placed in an untenable situation. I didn't see any measures to ensure these people don't end up homeless in that report, and I can see that being a result of this.

Morally, tying someone's receipt of a benefit to a behaviour is questionable. Why drugs? Why not other self-destructive or risky behaviours? Are they going to cut the benefits of problem gamblers? Self-harmers? People who like to drive too fast? It stinks of coercion and marginalisation of a certain group of people.

And this isn't even touching on people who are actually addicts, for whom there is little help available.

Personally, I think that measure should come off the table until they've consulted some experts on what actually works to a) help people with drug problems and b) what causes those problems in the first place. I think they'd find that what's being suggested is possibly the worst approach they could take.

tl;dr dumb idea, morally wrong and will potentially cause more poverty-related deaths.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 6th, 2011 08:00 am (UTC)
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I think it's possible to get PTSD from witnessing atrocities, and it seems the journalist has witnessed her fair share, as well as experiencing a great deal of the type of harrassment that would have you or I reaching for our flamethrowers. But the Daily Fail went for the sensationalist approach and it's just yuck.
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From:bekitty
Date:July 6th, 2011 08:43 pm (UTC)
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It is ENTIRELY POSSIBLE to get PTSD from something that you didn't personally witness, but people you know well did. I saw this first-hand at the shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, which was nearly three years ago (July 27, 2008). I was there. Some of my friends weren't. These friends were WORSE HIT because they had a whole heap of guilt associated with the shooting -- "I should have been there, I could have done something, oh god my friends are all fucked up and one of them is dead, I should have been there..." -- and they all displayed signs of PTSD.

In fact, the trauma counsellors that the Red Cross sent in concentrated mostly on the people who weren't there, rather than those who were. The reason for that was that the people who witnessed the shooting could SEE that they couldn't do anything, and therefore didn't have that whole "what if" thing going on. So we were able to work through the trauma faster.

However, one of my friends, who would have been ushering on that day with the guy who got killed but was ill so didn't come to the service, had lots and lots of trauma to work through. She not only had the "what if", but also the "it could have beeen me!" And she knew that, if she had been there, she would be dead now.

So yeah, entirely possible to get PTSD from something you didn't witness.
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