miss_s_b: (Mood: Miserable Brian :()
[personal profile] miss_s_b
* trigger warning for discussion of rape in the abstract *

I listened to this week's episode of the Pod Delusion last night. It contained a sardonic reference to the "meat is murder" trope - if meat is murder, then perhaps dairy produce is rape, and if you're vegetarian rather than vegan aren't you saying that rape is sometimes OK?

This is clearly a dig at the sort of people who think that meat is murder. I think it's a bit misplaced for all sorts of reasons*, but that's not what I want to talk about right now. What I want to talk about right now is my instant, unthinking flinch reaction when I heard the words rape is sometimes ok coming from the speaker. It felt like a physical punch to the gut, even though I know that this is not view that the person uttering the words espouses, and I know that he was just trying to make a hyperbolic point. I (totally involuntarily) imagined my rapist hearing that and thinking that it made everything OK.

It was clearly an irrational reaction on my part. I make no bones about that. Show me someone who claims to never have had an irrational reaction, and I'll show you a liar. But irrational as it was, it was real, and it hurt. How do I square this circle? Dismissing it as mere folly on my part feels wrong, and in some ways victim-blamey; equally kicking up a big stink about it also feels wrong. James O'Malley said something which hurt me, totally unintentionally, and making a big fuss about it will only compound and spread that hurt, and it's entirely probable that everyone involved will just feel attacked and become less likely to listen to each other. There's already been one person who has taken their bat and ball home over this, and I suspect that the imputations of trollery coming from Liz L on twitter today were referring to that rather than to me, but I'm not sure, it's entirely possible it could be me she's talking about... So already it's escalated past what the original hurt justified, and hurts are being compounded.

But then if I shut up about it, am I contributing to the issue? If I back down the face of all the But it was only a joke! And it wasn't even a rape joke really, it was a joke that happened to mention rape! etc. and the quite reasonable comments that if every episode was examined for things that might possibly cause offence to some people... Well, they'd never be able to mention Michael McIntyre again, for starters.

I don't want to censor anyone. I don't want to be the thought police. I don't want to stop people from saying whatever they like, whenever they like.

I just want people to be aware that when they say things, sometimes that can have unintended consequences, and that if people respond in a way you don't expect, that's maybe an opportunity to learn.

I thought Skeptics were supposed to like learning.


* for example, just because humans are different from other animals doesn't mean we are intrinsically better or more valuable. I profoundly disagreed with a lot of what the report said, and I say this as a meat eater.

Date: Sunday, August 7th, 2011 03:13 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ex_winterheart571
I don't think you're being irrational. Whether its used as a joke or a metaphor or whatever, rape is not to be taken lightly. Telling people to watch their language regarding things like that isn't censoring, it's standing up for what's right. At least, that's what I think.

Date: Sunday, August 7th, 2011 03:31 pm (UTC)
ext_368239: (Default)
From: [identity profile] millenniumelephant.blogspot.com
My problem with the pod delusion remains what it has always been: they're happy to be sceptical about everyone's assumptions except for their own cosy lefty ones.

(I admit, O'Malley's inability to get through a link without a snarky reference to Nick Clegg does grate; it would probably grate even if they were actually funny, but I need to have a sense of humour about that.)

e.g. There is an undercurrent to many articles that anything the government is doing is evil because there are Tories in it. Not because of what it does, but purely because it includes the Tories. If only "the left" could come in and save us.

The complete overlooking of how we got to where we are, or for that matter the many failings of the last at least theoretically left-wing government borders on homeopathic thinking! (Look one drop of lefty-ness and this cures all!)

(I rather prefer Andrew Hickey's approach to this: we've only ever had evil governments; but this one is slightly less evil than others.)

I may be drifting from the point but I think that this "we know best" attitude, the circular logic of "we can't be being bad, we're the good guys", very much reflects what you are saying as well.

You and Alex (Foster) have much more kindness and patience than I do to stick with them.

Date: Sunday, August 7th, 2011 04:13 pm (UTC)
ponygirl72: (nathistoffear)
From: [personal profile] ponygirl72
Sometimes it's okay to be offended or hurt by something and then just let it go.

It is absolutely understandable that this statement would feel like a punch in the gut to you or any other rape victim. It is also highly unlikely that you and other rape victims will be able to convince non-victims to completely eradicate these kind of statements from their lexicon. While there is nothing wrong with stating publicly or privately how this statement or a similar statement in the future makes you, personally, feel, doing so (publicly, at least) has a good chance of escalating hurt feelings on both sides, as you indeed stated in your post.

I don't see it as a failing on the part of any person if they do not wish to make an issue of an insensitive remark; nor do I see it as a failing if they *do* wish to make an issue of it. It is up to each person in question to decide if the likely result of raising the issue is worth the emotional energy expended in doing so.

In this case, from where I'm sitting, it sounds like the likely result of pushing the issue is not worth the emotional expenditure, but that's just personal opinion.

Date: Sunday, August 7th, 2011 06:27 pm (UTC)
lonemagpie: guy from the cover of sanctuary (Default)
From: [personal profile] lonemagpie
I hate to sound callous, because I'm far from that, but I think this is on one hand one of those rare occasions that proves that it's - objectively - impossible to be 100% totally insulated from things will hurt or upset. Sometimes it's simply unavoidable.

Having said *that* the quoted analogy doesn't work. If meat is murder, then derivative and dairy products (referred to by militant vegans as "stolen products") would be more analagous to a sort of cross between burglary and extreme fetishism. Scalp-hunting, perhaps..

If he actually wanted to compare the carnivore/veggie situation to the R-word, he'd have been better comparing said R-word event to something like knowingly making a vegan eat something with meat or dairy products in it.

Sorry, this turned into my tuppence-worth!

Date: Monday, August 8th, 2011 06:35 pm (UTC)
stormsearch: (Default)
From: [personal profile] stormsearch
I think the problem with it is that talking about rape in a lighthearted way works to detract from the seriousness of the crime. It may have only been a joke, or a badly worded sentence, but it essentially serves, over time, to bring rape down from an unspeakable crime to something that's quite bad.

The way I thought about it was to take a step back, and put in another crime. If he'd used paedophilia instead of rape, would it be deemed to be borderline acceptable, or would it be considered to be thoughtless and insensitive because that's a crime that you don't make light of?
What about if he'd used murder instead? That gave me some pause for thought, because I assumed that using any crime which involves major harm to the body and mind (both at once) wouldn't be okay in my opinion. Except, it seems to be okay to 'joke' about murder; it's relatively common to say lightheartedly of someone who's annoyed you, "oh, I could just murder them".
But that's what made me realise the difference: There is absolutely no debate about whether murder is bad. We all know that it is, it's just a fact. Murderers are deplored, but it's okay to talk lightheartedly of the abstract concept of murder because everyone knows where they stand on that.
Paedophilia is different, yet similar; everyone deplores it, but it seems to also invoke almost involuntary horror, such that one does not dare speak of the concept.
Rape is neither of these things. It should be deplored, it should invoke horror in everyone, but the thing is that it doesn't. Unfortunately, rape is up for debate, in that regard. And that's why most sensible people will be (and should be) displeased, disconcerted and generally disappointed that he used the concept of rape in a way that separates the concept from the horror. It shouldn't be a concept we take lightly. He's adding to the general conception of rape as being like being mugged; an unpleasant experience, but not soul-destroying.

Date: Monday, August 8th, 2011 07:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neohippie.livejournal.com
It's a stupid comment anyway. I don't see how dairy can be linked to rape like meat can be linked to murder. The closest analogy I can think of is slavery, not rape, which is an analogy I've seen some American militant animal rights activists make. (Some of them consider ALL domesticated animals "enslaved", from dairy cows to service dogs).

I'm not going to go so far as to say that nothing can be compared to rape, but I do think it waters it down to compare too many things to it.

The closest thing I can think of to rape in modern animal production is how they artificially inseminate animals with tubes of semen they got from a catalog. But that might even be stretching it a bit.

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