Sunday, August 7th, 2011

miss_s_b: (Mood: Miserable Brian :()
* 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.

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Hello! I'm Jennie (known to many as SB, due to my handle, or The Yorksher Gob because of my old blog's name). This blog is my public face; click here for a list of all the other places you can find me on t'interwebs.

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