Wednesday, June 18, 2003

What prompted me to think of returning: first of all, I've been reading some blogs from my new home in Spain, and sometimes I want to talk back to them a little. Second of all, something happened to a friend of mine that I wanted to write about. It's rare that I have a point to make that I don't anticipate eight million other people are making at the same time, but this time my point is fundamentally true, bizarrely and unjustly disputed by at least some people, and is at least infequently made. And that is:

women can rape men.

I don't know why some people try to claim this is not the case. First of all, obviously, women can rape men with foreign objects. But women can also rape men the old fashioned way. Penis-vagina sex can be forced upon a man. The people who try to claim otherwise say that a man won't get an erection if he doesn't want to have sex. This is bollocks. An erection is a physiological response to a given set of stimuli; it is related to, but not synonymous with, the volition to have sex. Claiming that you can tell a man wants it just because he has an erection is as dehumanizing as claiming you can tell a woman wants it because of the way she's dressed.

Why am I bringing this up? A friend of mine, Adam, was just raped by his now ex-girlfriend. This woman (Mary) has never been that mentally stable; their first attempt at a relationship ended when she grabbed a knife and threatened to stab herself if he left her. Because my friend is quite confused about his life, and has a tendency to grab on to a certainty of the month in an attempt to squeeze out some order and purpose, he decided a few months ago that Mary had grown, that he loved her, and that he was going to move across the country to be with her. Recently, he decided to move out, and pursue a more casual dating relationship with her to work out their problems. Upon hearing this news, Mary took it upon herself to impregnate herself against his will. She woke him up from a nap with a blow job, then took him by surprise and climbed on top of him, even as he protested, no, wait. One of his arms was pinned against the sofa, and he couldn't get her off of him until it was too late. Now she says she's pregnant, won't consider abortion, and is going to do everything she can to make Adam financially responsible for the baby and to control him with it.

This, of course, is phenomenally vile of this woman. She is violating basic principles of respect for a person's dignity, autonomy, and freedom. She's bringing a child into the world not out of love, but out of a desire for control. A few days ago, I was consumed by fury at her. Now I'm calmer, although I have no less contempt for her. I strongly advised my exboyfriend to make it absolutely clear to her that she would get nothing from him except financial support if it were legally mandated and that she would never see him, nor even know where he lived or have his telephone number, for several reasons: she might come to her senses and have an abortion or give the child up for adoption, but even if she doesn't, if she thinks the baby would deliver control over Adam, who knows what manipulative stunts she might try (oh Adam, I'm so depressed, I need you to come over. I'm feeling so bad, I'm afraid I might hurt the baby). It would be far better for him and far better for this kid if Mary didn't feel the baby were of any use to hurt Adam.

The day I found out about this, I was seething with rage, and I talked about it to a woman I worked with. The first words out of her mouth when I started to tell the story were "a woman can't rape a man."

In fact, Adam should be able to press charges against this woman, but I would never suggest it, because it's so unlikely he would be believed, and if presenting yourself as a female victim of a man's can feel shameful and humiliating, then presenting yourself as a male victim might feel even more so, because of the lack of masculinity it implies. He talked to a sexual assault counselor, which comforted him. But there are people in the world who don't even acknowledge the possibility of what happened to him. Women rape men a lot less frequently than men rape women. But it does happen, and it really denies men humanity to suggest that they can't have thoughts or emotions that might contradict what their erection is saying. It's fun to joke about men thinking with their penis (or woment thinking with their clit) sometimes, but in doing so we should remember that it's a joke, not a literal reality, and reducing a human being to the sum of their erogenous zones is sexist when it's done to women, and it's sexist when it's done to men. In this case, the popular attitude that an erection is synonymous with an interior desire and will to have sex is an effective accomplice to this woman and her quest to entrap my friend. I'd really like to see a world in which men's and women's sexual interiority were respected enough that all rape victims, regardless of gender, could expect to have their stories at the very least taken seriously, if not automatically believed. I suspect that that won't be the case for my friend.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

A few months ago, I retired. I'm thinking of returning. Some thoughts about this:

I wanted to take my blog offline, and in my past experience with blogger deleting a blog didn't accomplish this. So I set about deleting my posts one by one, until it occurred to be I could just make the template blank. Indeed, as I type this, the template is still blank, but if/when I take my blog back up I'll, uh, naturally make the type be visible. But some of the old posts are gone.

I've gone through and edited posts to make myself and everyone I know completely anonymous. I want, as always, to blog about my personal doings, and the lives of some of the people I know.

That is all for now.