Rape, and love.

I’ve been reading a lot about rape, as I try to finish my thesis, which deals with sexual violence as well as institutional violence. I’ve listened to and read a lot of survivors’ accounts of these types of violence. It’s too much at times, because this is how I spend my academic life, my intellectual life, but it’s also on the news all the time. It’s in songs, in movies, on TV, in teen fiction, in casual jokes and everyday conversation, in political discussions.

There was a time not so long ago (2008, 2009) where I would’ve been astounded and pleased to see nation-wide media discussions about sexual violence. So much changed in the time I was gone. It still blows my mind that we are including things like bystander intervention training in college freshman orientations, or that the FBI updated its definition of consent to condemn sexual acts against an unconscious or drugged person as rape. This seems like massive progressive. Seems like we’re headed in the right direction. Then why the fuck am I filled with anxiety, why am I drawn tight like a bowstring whenever sexual violence arises as a topic of conversation, a court case, a news story, a song lyric, a painted subject. Is it just because I’ve experienced it? Is it just PTSD, blah-dee-blah? Something tells me otherwise.

At certain times in the history of feminist theory and activism, some feminists have voiced the opinion that rape is a crime of violence, only, not a crime of sex. Susan Brownmiller has been cited as supporting a view of rape as a being about violence, not sex (see Cahill 2001, 16-28). While I was a SAC advocate and crisis counselor at the Listening Ear, I shared this view of rape. “It’s not about sex,” so the line goes, “it’s about power and domination.” Of course, this is coming from people who either cannot fathom an association between power, domination, violence, and sexual arousal, or who cannot admit to themselves that for many people, such a connection exists.

There are many people who associate violence, sex, and power. Sometimes this is enjoyable, and sometimes it is born of traumatic experience—undoubtedly sometimes it’s both. Many kinksters who associate pain and pleasure, and who derive enjoyment and arousal from playing with power dynamics. However, kinky sex is not rape, due to the fact that communication, consent, and mutual enjoyment are the central tenets of BDSM and fetish practitioners. Rape happens when genuine consent is absent, whether when a person says no, when a person is silent, or when a person feels that they cannot say no (e.g. because they are being coerced, threatened with the end of a relationship, etc.).

Something that strikes me is that among all these discussions of the relationship between violence, rape, and sex, something that never seems to come is the subject of love. Now, we know that the vast majority of rapes are perpetrated by people known to their victims. In fact, they are often the closest people to us. They are our friends, our parents, our pastors, our teachers, our siblings, our neighbors, our lovers, our partners. They are people for whom we often feel a great deal of trust…and love. This doesn’t strike me as coincidental. It is the people whom we love the most that can often get away with doing the worst kinds of things to us, because we cannot admit to ourselves, let alone anyone else (e.g. a court of law), that they would do something to us that contradicts our understanding of their love for us. This seems to cross boundaries of all kinds of love. The love felt between parents and children, teachers and students, spouses, siblings, and so on—these are all very different kinds of love. But it seems to me that all of these kinds of love (perhaps all kinds of love) are founded upon trust.

This is what makes rape so devastating. It is a violation of bodily autonomy, it is a violation of the mind, and it is a violation of trust and love. Even where trust is broke, even again and again, love remains… Maybe it gets chipped away, maybe it wears like beaches shaped by waves, maybe it erodes into nothing, over time. But when it comes to the people we love most, we will suffer the worst kinds of betrayals, even more than once. We tell ourselves whatever is necessary to endure this kind of abuse: we put the people we love before ourselves, that is what true love is; we keep faith in them even when they fuck up, because love conquers all, and through love they will change and improve; love doesn’t always come easy, sometimes it requires work, maybe it even requires sacrifice; we can’t betray love, even when the people we love betray us.

I feel compelled to say something that I have suspected before, that makes my stomach turn and that I know the thought of which makes many people feel ill. Rape and love are connected. I won’t claim to understand their relationship. Either rape and love are connected (hence why it is most often the people we love who perpetrate our rapes), or we do not yet understand rape, or love. Quite possibly I think it is both. I suspect that until we better understand both rape and love, sexual violence will always be a normative aspect of our culture. Even as we say, “Rape has nothing to do with sex, rape has nothing to do with love,” we lie to ourselves that our rapists—our parents, our pastors, our best friends, our partners—love us. Maybe it is not a lie… Maybe they do love us. Maybe we do love them. Then we’ve got it wrong… Rape and love have something to do with each other. It seems fucked up, it seems unimaginable. But we also say that rape, itself, seems unimaginable. We say bizarre things about rape: “I’d rather die than be raped”; “I’d kill anyone who raped you/me.” We say sensical things about rape: “I can’t believe that person committed rape”; “I don’t understand how that person could have rape their best friend/spouse/child/classmate.” All of these utterances seem to me to indicate a serious lack of understanding about rape, but also love.

Something that we fail to talk about and to really seek to understand are the motivations of rapists. We pass them off as deviants, as psychos, as one-offs, as aberrations, as monsters under the bed, as strangers in the shadows. When it’s the people we love who fit this description, it’s like they become unknown, unknowable to us. It stops making sense. Our relationship stops making sense. Love stops making sense. Our bodies stop making sense. Our will stops making sense. It’s unfathomable, it goes against everything our culture has taught us about love, it goes against everything we feel and understand about love, about relationships, about ourselves, about the people we love. This isn’t how it’s supposed to work, it doesn’t make any sense. It’s incoherent, it’s like living in a horrific faerieland where nothing makes sense, nothing ever coheres.

It makes no sense to me whatsoever that a person whom I love and trusted very much raped me repeatedly. They made me feel like I was wrong for refusing them. They made me feel that I was saying “I don’t love you” whenever I said no. They made me feel that I was hurting them by saying no. They made me feel that they had a right to my body—more than that, they had a right to my bodymind and they had a right to believe I enjoyed it. Eventually I ran away from them because I felt like I was going to die—on some level I believed that it was me, or the relationship. One of us was going to end. I had come to believe that it was my destiny to kill myself, and that I wasn’t deserving of love, and I believed everyone who made me feel that my partner was ‘putting up with me’ and that I was abusing them. Probably most of those people had no idea what my partner did to me for more than two years. Sure, a lot of them knew that that person had jerked me around and gone out on me, had manipulated me and lied to me and so on and so forth. All part of the game that is college relationships, I suppose. But they didn’t know that my partner would touch me against my wishes, even in public places, like work. My partner wasn’t afraid of consequences, I think; I suspect that they felt they were in the right. They made me afraid to be alone at work with them. They made me afraid to walk up the stairs first. Eventually I couldn’t let anyone walk up a flight upstairs behind me, because I’d start having a panic attack. Of course, I wouldn’t figure out for a long time that that’s what they were.

Despite all this, I loved my partner so much, I couldn’t imagine my life without them. They were so smart and considerate and creative and funny and good-looking, they were going places, they had a good head on their shoulders, they were kind, everyone said so. Many people said I was lucky to be with them. I believed this. But in order to keep my partner happy, I had to do what they asked. If that was holding hands, or kissing, or letting them touch me, or having sex, then that’s what had to happen. It took almost four years for me to figure out that all of that was wrong, was not my fault, and the sex we had wasn’t ‘sex’, it was rape.

The part that is now very difficult for me to get my head around is that that person thinks they didn’t do anything wrong. No, scratch that, I can get my head around that. We live in a culture that tells some groups of people they’re better than other groups, that they are entitled to things from groups which are beneath them. Shrug. I can understand that. I read books and shit. What I can’t understand is how that person can live with themself, because they work in a place that is directly involved in people’s sexual health. What makes them think that they have even a modicum of understanding about sexual health? They made me feel that there was something wrong with me, with my body, when I didn’t enjoy having sex with them. Having sex you don’t enjoy over and over again—this is the opposite of healthy.

Writing helps… I’m feeling a bit better for having written this. Writing is a Lens of Clarity in faerieland. Maybe now I can get back to my thesis…

1 is 2 Many: A Step in the Right Direction

In the early 1990s, then-senator Joe Biden and a grassroots coalition of anti-rape advocates scripted the original Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was signed by Clinton in 1994. Despite significant Republican opposition (nothing changes, eh?), VAWA was reauthorized in 2013.

VAWA is significant in terms of the protection it offers sexual assault survivors. That’s right, our legal system is so messed up that sexual assault survivors need extra protection from it. :D The 2013 reauthorization also made special effort to extend protection to the queer community, Native Americans on reservations, and undocumented immigrants. This kind of legislation is essential to protecting survivors, but ultimately we also need to be working towards the prevention of sexual assault, as well.

The White House’s new PSA, 1 is 2 Many, is a step in the right direction in terms of prevention. Featuring Benecio Del Toro, Dulé Hill, Daniel Craig, Steve Carell, Seth Meyers, Joe Biden, and Barack Obama, the PSA discusses consent, victim blaming, and supporting survivors. They even daringly use the word ‘rape’. Pretty cool stuff, right?

Okay, you knew I was gonna be a downer… So here it is. The glaring issue with this PSA is the “if I saw it happening” part. This language makes sexual assault seem like something that we see others doing, not something that we do, ourselves. This has always been the problem with defining consent and talking about rape. It is not a surprise that people– men– are uncomfortable analyzing their behavior. They do not want to see themselves as rapists. They do not see their behavior as rape. Therefore, they do not want to define consent in a way that potentially frames them as rapists.

I can see a lot of people, a lot of boys and men, watching this PSA and pumping their fists and chest-bumping and being like “Yeah! I’m part of the solution!” and not stopping to think about what it means to hear a partner tell them no, or not be able to tell them no due to drug or alcohol consumption. Being told no is not often something for which we prepare men and boys, yet is an important part of consent in sexual relationships.

Also. Obviously a high proportion of rapes are committed by men, against women, but this does not exclude girls and women from taking responsibility in their own sexual relationships. Everyone needs to get consent from their partners. It should go without saying. The more I listen to girls and women talk about sex, the more I realize that a lot of them do not know what consent is or how to get it, either. Keep in mind that VAWA protects male survivors just as it does LGBTQ and female-identifying survivors.

All that being said, this PSA is still pretty bad-a and definitely a huge step in the right direction. Way to go, Joe Biden.

p.s. Tim Walberg and your fellow Republicans, you do not represent me and you do not deserve to hold your office!

 

Open Letter to My Rapist

 

My rapist.

It’s strange to use that possessive pronoun with a word like ‘rapist’, but that’s what you are. Perhaps you’re someone else’s rapist, too, but that doesn’t change the fact that I can still claim ownership over you– for something no one wants, which is still mine.

I listen to a cheerful song as I write this, so I don’t tear the skin off my lips in anxious anger (yet I still do). As I reflect on our relationship, which I have rarely done in the past three years, I realize there are really only two things which I will always hold against you. There are other things for which I hate you, but I imagine some day I’ll get over them. All things save two.

We had Spanish together my junior year, your senior year. It wasn’t planned, it just ended up like that. Inevitably at some point we were put in a group together for a project, which thrilled me at the time. I was also excited about the project, itself– creating a Spanish menu– because it involved creativity and the chance to draw, which you knew I liked. But when we distributed the workload, you alloted yourself nearly all the artwork. When I expressed that I wanted to draw, too, you told me I wasn’t as good as you, and because I foolishly worshiped you, a stone idol, I agreed. On the day we were to submit our projects, I felt a bit resentful; I saw your sketches of paella and tortilla de papas, and thought I could have done as well. I was always small to you. I was never as good as you.

Then came the day, not long after the Spanish project, that we were watching a movie in the basement of my house. My home. My parents were outside, in the barn or the garden, maybe. Giving us mistrustful privacy.

For months you had been telling me that we should have sex, because “people who love each other should give everything to each other” and, well, we were going to get married anyway, weren’t we? Yet I steadfastly resisted: my position was that sex was reserved for marriage, which at the time I was resolutely convinced was God’s Will– a god, as it turns out, who does not exist.

On this day you were going on about something like that, we should share everything with each other, don’t you love me, if you loved me you’d have sex with me, blah blah blah. I wasn’t really listening because I already knew what my answer was. I already felt a terrible anxiety about the state of my virginity (how much could you kiss someone before you lost your virginity? Did making out count as sex? What about hand jobs?), so it was easy, simple, for me to say “no”. I couldn’t believe you’d even consider it– weren’t you worried that we were already going to hell?

You said, then, that you wanted to know “what it feels like”, meaning my vagina. You said you wanted to touch it. I lost my patience. If we weren’t already fallen from God’s grace, we surely were now. Or at least you were. I got up to leave, exasperated.

I never could have guessed, would have allowed myself to believe, what you would do next.

You grabbed my arm, which didn’t immediately alarm me until I tried to pull away. When you didn’t let go, I felt a deep, primal urge to dig my nails into your face, your eyes, but I rationally resisted the impulse: why would I do such a thing to someone I loved? But you did not let go. Your hand was like a vice grip, likely the outcome of all that baseball you played, all that sculpting of clay you did. You pulled me down to the carpet and knelt on top of me in one smooth, swift movement, almost as if it was practiced. As I look back at myself then, I appear as a small animal, a young child, pathetically weak, with huge, round eyes brimming with the realizations of fear. My little animal brain hadn’t caught up to reality yet, not even as you forced your hand down the front of my jeans (How did you do that? I pondered vaguely; I had thought the waistband of my jeans would prevent such a thing from happening, it was much too tight, wasn’t it?), and your digits into my vagina. Strange pain. Blink, blink. It must have been less than ten seconds, but I remember thinking then that it had lasted much longer. I finally registered how strong you were and felt shocked that you’d used it against me, and how heavy your knees were as they pinned my arms down, like a straight jacket. Then you were talking about me, about my body, as you still had your fingers inside me, like a scientist describing matter-of-factly a newly discovered landscape (words like “soft” and an exclamation of “Wow!”, when remembered still make me want to throw up). You felt around in me as though I were an inanimate object, a garbage disposal into which something had fallen and caused a jam. I noticed how itchy the carpet was.

And then you got off me. I just laid there at first, my arms still at my sides. I felt nothing, I couldn’t describe how I felt. You noticed my blank face and suddenly all your joy was gone. You seemed instantly, intensely apologetic– “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I’ll never do that again”– but in retrospect I imagine you were terrified I’d tell someone. I got up and your I’m-sorry-so-sorrys followed me to the stairs where, one step ahead of you, I turned around and looked down at you and I said– I don’t fucking remember what I said, something like “You will never do that again,” something which I would not say now.

So let me tell you what I would say now.

What you did to me the State of Michigan defines as Criminal Sexual Misconduct of the First Degree according to Chapter 76 (Rape), Section 750.520b. Being that you used force, and that your actions resulted in physical pain and mental anguish, it was a felony.

But let’s face it. Even had I filed a police report, and even if that report had been examined by the DA and taken to court, you would have easily escaped punishment. Rich all-star travel team white Christian boys do not go to jail for sticking their hands where they don’t belong.

So what I’m left with is this.

That to you, I was a gutter clogged with rain-soggy, rotting leaves. A skinny, dirty glass in the sink, that you can’t quite reach the bottom of with a sponge. A pencil that has rolled off the table and under a couch, and now you’re on your knees reaching, reaching for it.

You talked about me in the third person. “Hello, I’M RIGHT FUCKING HERE. I can hear you,” I should have said. You talked about me in the fucking third person, like you were having a nice little chat with yourself. Let me try that for a moment:

“He is a despicable, abhorrent, perverse, loathesome creature.” “A violator, to be sure. A fascist, a betrayer of human rights.” “He must have turned out like his dad.”

Do I find it as satisfying as you did? You thought me cold all those years you tried to talk to me, and I wrote you back with words of venom. You forfeited your right to my kindness when you assumed your desires trumped my bodily autonomy.

You are a violator of space. You put your hands where they didn’t belong. You did things which you can’t take back. Maybe there are people in the world who love you and deeply care about you. That is entirely inconsequential to me, whom you betrayed, in my own home. My home. You will always be a selfish, pathetic 19 year old jerk, in my mind.

Understand this: I will never forget, and you best hope you never meet me on the street, for I will greet you loudly and clearly with your most enduring title:

“Hello, rapist.”

Take Back the Night 2012, Koh Kong!

Only two weeks in, and already June has been an eventful month. The first weekend was the national commune elections, and I was happy to see the political hubbub finally die down. But the very next weekend (after a week of my being sick) was the event which has been months in planning.

Click the link below to open up the full post and see photos of the event! ^_^

Continue reading

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la la la

You will probably be disturbed and irritated at me for writing this… “Lee, why you always gotta be such a downer?” Well, don’t blame me for being down, blame the Patriarchal world we live in for getting me down. It is not possible to cover our ears, shut our eyes, and run our mouths about human rights all at the same time, monkeys.

This week in news (Cambodian Daily-style)…:

Tuesday: Training Aims to Protect Children From Predators: British experts in Phnom Penh are training about 160 teachers, police, government workers and childcare professionals on how to better protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation as part of a three-day workshop that began only yesterday. …British Ambassador Mark Gooding said the training was necessary because of “the growth of Internet use in Cambodia, especially among young people.” According to… the country director for anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour les Enfants, there are clear signs that online sexual predators are beginning to have a presence in Cambodia. “We have observed a few cases where children were groomed online by traveling sex offenders, and that means it will be a great concern in the future.” (by Lauren Crothers)

The growth of the internet has produced many learning opportunities for kids in Cambodia, but the downside is that it also increases their risk of encountering predators who use this anonymous technology to seek out victims. Kids, especially boys, can use the internet in towns and cities (and, increasingly, larger villages) completely unmonitored. These days this is how young boys are more often exposed to porn; they can pay less than 50 cents for 30 minutes to an hour of unrestricted access to any site on the web, and many of them go with friends to watch pornography at public internet cafes. Even when shop owners and others know this is going on, there is little or no stigma attached to boys (even very young boys) viewing porn. For all children, though, “playing chat” on the web is the new “big thing”; my impression from my students is that there is a certain prestige to having foreign friends on Facebook and Skype– I can imagine how easy it would be for a foreign pedophile to arrange a meeting with a child in Cambodia via the internet. Cambodian nationals will probably catch on to the internet as a way of hunting victims, too, as their access to the web increases; probably they have already, but there are very few statistics on crimes organized using the internet here.

Court Charges Man with Raping 8-Year-Old Girl: The Kandal Provincial Court yesterday charged a 31-year-old man with raping an 8-year-old girl in her home…on Sunday. The suspect was drunk at the time of the attack and had gone looking for the victim’s 16 year-old sister…”But he did not find her and met with the victim,” said police chief Mean Samnang. (by Khy Sovuthy)

Um… I don’t really have anything to say about this. I think it speaks for itself. But if your first thought was, “It would have been better if he’d found the 16-year-old instead,” I hope you ask yourself why.

Wednesday: Girl Detained, Drugged and Raped Over Two-Week Span: Girl was allegedly given sleeping pills by suspect, fed little in order to keep her in a weakened state.

The Ratanakkiri Provincial Court on Monday charged a teenager with rape, after he allegedly detained a 17-year-old girl at his home, drugged her and raped her over a two-week period, court officials and police said yesterday. The suspect, 17, was arrested on Friday after his uncle discovered the girl locked in his wooden house in Banlung City… After being questioned by police, the suspect confessed to raping the girl– who was his neighbor and knew him well– giving her sleeping pills and barely feeding her so that she would be sleepy, weakened, and unable to cry for help, [police chief] Vun said. “The girl was detained and locked in the room. The suspect had given her medicine that we assume must have been sleeping tablets,” Mr. Vun said. “He confessed that he raped her seven or eight times, but says it was because he loves her.” ..”After seven days, we were hopeless. We thought she had died, and we lit incense and put out offerings for her,” the victim’s mother said. (by Chhorn Chansy)

It is unlikely they will do a follow-up story here, but it is quite possible that the survivor will be mistreated (or disowned) by her family for “allowing” the rape to occur, or even worse she might be forced to marry her rapist. Well, he does love her after all.

Horrific? Toahmadah in the Kingdom of Wonder– normal, that is. If you talk to young adults, especially pre-teen and teenaged boys, in Cambodia, you will find that they have very unhealthy conceptions about “love”, “relationships”, “boyfriends/girlfriends”, and what constitutes “romantic”. A friend of mine had it from her teacher that the first time he had sex with his girlfriend, he had to hold her down and force his penis inside of her as she said “no no no” while physically resisting him. This girl later became his wife. Most people can look at this scenario and say, “This is rape.” But many people see this is “what must be done”, since it is culturally unacceptable for a girl to say “yes” to sex; if a girl says “no”, the default assumption can be that she wants to have sex, but cannot consent to it without looking like a whore. So the young man in the article above may have thought he was doing his “love” a favor by drugging her and locking her in a shed– maybe he really believed she wanted to have sex with him, but “could not consent”.

Friday: Violence Continues to Go Unpunished, Adhoc Says: Domestic violence continues to go virtually unpunished, authorities appear unable or unwilling to arrest sex traffickers, and rape of minors is “exceedingly numerous,” according to Adhoc’s annual report on the state of women and children in Cambodia… Deep-seated cultural obstacles are part of the problem of combating the violence, noted [Adhoc’s] report. “Domestic violence is seen as the norm and women themselves do not think it is criminal but a regular part of married life,” the report states. …Impunity also plays a role in the punishment of rapists. Courts handle only 2.52 percent of rape cases, and 11.34 percent are mediated by local authorities. …Last year was the first year in which rapes did not increase, but 72 percent of rape victims were children under 18, “which is extremely concerning” [the report says]. …Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said the fact that figures remained “stable” was a positive sign. “It’s better than increasing,” he said. Asked about Adhoc’s focus on impunity, Mr. Sopheak said: “Oh, we don’t have an impunity culture. That is what people say, but the government does not have an impunity culture.”

Of course the Ministry of Interior is not going to just come out and say, “Hellz yeah we’re corrupt! LOLZ”. But Sopheak’s delusional observation of Cambodian rape statistics as positive because they are “stable” is insufferable. “It’s better than increasing”…? If you say dumb shit like that in the U.S., you lose your job (or you should, at least). Again, toahmadah. Whatever. Highly-ranked public “servants” can openly deny corruption and dismiss horrific rape stats in the same breath here with absolutely no consequences. If you live here, you’re thinking, “Well, duh. It’s not like this is a democracy.” And I agree. It still completely blows all my circuits though– I simply cannot comprehend it. I want to reinforce this point so that you understand how completely normative, pervasive, and acceptable rape culture is in this country. It is my personal belief that all of human society operates inside of rape culture, but it is more powerful and functions in greater degrees in some countries than in others. It is not just the lack of punishment and accountability of rapists that perpetuates rape culture in the Kingdom of Wonder, but the deeply-ingrained effects of enculturating people of all genders here with profoundly violent and misogynist behaviors and attitudes and acceptance of those behaviors and attitudes. Like the teacher I mentioned above: this is a teacher, a respected member of his community who wants to educate poor villagers for free and start a non-profit jobs training program and all kinds of stuff– Nice Guy™. He’s still a rapist, people. If a “nice guy” like him believes that you have to force sex on a woman the first two or three times you want to have sex with her, we can’t be surprised to see articles like the one about the 17-year-old who kidnapped and raped the love of his life, or the 31-year-old who raped his 8-year-old neighbor ’cause her older sister wasn’t “available”.

About the article… “But Lee, isn’t it positive that the statistics aren’t increasing?” The statistics, unfortunately, only take into account those rapes that Adhoc heard about in some way, shape or form. Most rapes are never reported to any official entity, let alone dealt with by the police. It is extremely common for rapists to simply pay off families of victims to maintain silence, and in some cases to marry the victim to the rapist in order to save face (especially if the victim becomes pregnant). If only around 13% of reported rapes were dealt with by some kind of official entity (courts, commune and village chiefs, etc.), then that means almost 87% of cases (again, of reported rapes) are being handled privately. Which means virtually no repercussions for the rapist. Who will then be free to rape again. And again. Well, you get the idea.

p.s. That 2.52% are case that are “handled” by the courts NOT cases in which the perpetrator is sentenced, let alone serves that sentence. The 31-year-old who raped his 8-year-old neighbor was charged, but that does not equate to being sentenced or going to jail, or even paying a fine (though he can, and probably will, pay a bribe to be cleared of charges). Are we getting the picture here? Really? (For a laugh, you could compare these stats with those from American courts and you’ll see that they are more similar that you might think. Ha. Ha.)

I’ve mentioned this in other posts, but the reason why I am so sickened by these statistics is because they don’t account for all rapes, but only a portion– how large of a portion? We can’t know, but remember that rape victims are extremely stigmatized here. If you knew you were going to be blamed, badgered, laughed at, possibly married to your rapist, and ultimately told to shut up, and your rapist would almost certainly walk free, would you tell anyone that you were raped, or would you keep it to yourself? I look around at my neighbors, students, friends, even my Khmer family and wonder how many of them have experienced violence, including sexual violence, and are stoically keeping their mouths closed about it. Actually, many of them would probably never label rape if it did happen to them, which is no surprise consider that Cambodian law excludes many forms of rape in its legal definition. I also look around at the same people and wonder how many of them have raped or are raping someone and they will never even call it that. It saddens me very, very deeply.

When I talk about things like this with my (most often American) family, friends, acquaintances, whoever… They express a good deal of discomfort, try to change the subject, attempt to “lighten the mood” by making jokes, and so on.

Am I getting you down?

I don’t care.

Perhaps this is the 2012 “new me”, but I intend to unapologetically disperse information to as many people as I can about the Situation we find ourselves is as often as I possible can. I will ignore your discomfort, I will refocus the subject, and I will carefully dismantle your jokes with psychosocial and cultural analysis so you see how joking about This perpetuates rape, the function of Patriarchy, and so on.

I am going to be SO POPULAR. :D