This is a status posted on facebook by Patrick Rothfuss. I found this to be not only a wonderful example of being a good ally, but one of the most accessible explanations I’ve read concerning rape culture. (The link is to his blog where I came across this in the first place. Also worth a look!)
“Okay folks: we’re having a teachable moment here.
Before things spiral further out of control in the comments of my previous post, let me explain a few things.
There’s a couple variations of this statement cropping up: “If she didn’t want anyone to see them, why did she take nude pictures of herself in the first place?”
This is called blaming the victim, and, simply said, it’s not a very cool thing to do.
It’s like if someone stole 200 bucks off me, and you rolled your eyes and said, “Well what do you expect, walking around with all that money in your pocket?”
While it’s true that they couldn’t have taken my money if I hadn’t been carrying it, the entire comment misses the point.
If I am robbed, the fault for the robbery, *ALL* the fault, rests in the hands of the thief.
Similarly, if I have naked pictures of myself on my computer, that’s really my own fucking business. It’s not asking for trouble.
Delighting in your own body is not a crime. Being attractive is not a crime. Being sexually active or alluring is not a crime. Being a woman is not a crime.
None of these things are valid invitations to committing a crime, either.
You need to realize this.
Now it could very well be that you would never think of taking a nude photo of yourself. So when you find out someone has done that, you’re baffled. You might ask yourself, in the quiet of your mind, “Why would someone do that?”
That is a fair question. That is a *good* question. That is a question that shows empathy. It shows you’re curious as to the inner workings of another human.
A certain amount of incredulity is also reasonable, if it’s something really outside your realm of experience. That’s fair too.
But if the only answer you can come up with is along the lines of, “Someone would only have a naked picture of themselves if they’re a slut who secretly desires to be raped.”
Well… that’s a problem. That is not reasonable. That is some really dark shit.
But that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. I’d like to stress that.
What’s happening here is that you’ve been accidentally poisoned by our culture.
We absorb cultural knowledge starting when we’re very, very young. The same way we learn language. The same way we learn the difference in the words “slim” and “slender.”
This sort of cultural knowledge isn’t taught. We simply soak it up.
And some of it is good. This is how we learn to love. This is how we learn about humor. This is how we learn about ephemeral things like justice and fairness.
But we also soak up some of the culture’s negative things too. And our culture has a problem with women. And sex. And women AND sex together…. well, we *really* have a problem with that.
So if some part of you *thinks* “Only a slut would…” that’s understandable. It’s not good, but it’s understandable. In some ways that’s what you’ve been trained to think by the culture you’ve been raised in.
But you *do* need to realize that it’s wrong.
Similarly, a kid that believes in the Easter Bunny isn’t *bad.* We grow up believing all sorts of things, and some of these things are just dead fucking wrong.
But one of the things that makes humans cool is our ability to re-wire our own thoughts. We aren’t purely instinctual animals. We’re able to adapt. We are, with some difficulty, able to un-learn wrong things.
We can, if we’re careful, find our own junk code, and reprogram ourselves to be different, better people.
Now if “A woman would only have a naked picture of themselves if they’re a slut who secretly desires to be raped,” is the *only* possible answer you can come up with…. I’m sorry…. but you really might have some problems that you should talk to someone about. Seriously.
Gech. This is already too long for a facebook post. I might continue this topic on my blog later on. This shit is important, and it bears discussing in a better venue.
We need to be good to each other, people.
So be good. “