[Trigger Warning for discussion of rape] Teach Rapists Not to Rape

**Heads up – this post will contain some personal information with regards in my own PERSONAL experiences within rape culture. If you know me, and ask me about specific details, it will be awkward and awful, so don’t do it.**

Teach ‘Don’t Rape’ instead of ‘Don’t Get Raped’.

This is a common idea within the feminist community, and it’s a good one. But often I hear people (usually MRAs or people who aren’t aware of feminist ideology) come back with “But you don’t teach murderers not to murder! It’s common sense, and there are just bad people out there”.

And these people are right, we aren’t directly taught not to murder people, and yes, there are bad people out there. But what this response does is assume that rapists are just a bunch of bad people, nameless people, who are sociopaths. People who don’t follow unwritten rules of ‘common morality’. Bad apples, who are unteachable, uncontrollable, unrestrained, but also unavoidable. And that is not true. That’s rape culture talking.

Through years of socialization in our rape culture, I learnt that rape was done by weird cismale strangers who had weapons, in dark alley ways in the early hours of the morning, to ciswomen who kicked and screamed and fought back, then went straight to the police, who would instantly file a report and catch and charge the rapist right away. And the rapist would go to jail for a long time, and the woman would go home and everything would be fine.
“That’s what real rape is,” said Rape Culture.

Rape culture taught me what doesn’t count as rape or assault. It told me that it isn’t rape if I had slept with that person once before. It’s not rape if it’s your partner. It’s not rape if you consented to other sexual acts with them. It’s not rape if the rapist doesn’t penetrate you. It’s not rape if you didn’t go to the police. It’s not rape if you didn’t go to the police straight after. It’s not rape if you didn’t fight back. It’s not rape if you weren’t conscious. It’s not rape if you’re trans*. It’s not rape if the rapist wasn’t a cisman. It’s not rape if you still talk to your attacker. It’s not rape if you were both drunk. It’s not rape if you were drunk. It’s not rape if he was drunk. It’s not rape if you kissed them. It’s not rape if you’re a sex worker, or if the rapist was a client. It’s not rape if you invited him into your house. It’s not rape if the rapist is a ‘good guy’.

I was also taught that as a female bodied person, it was my responsibility to protect myself against these faceless, animalistic predators. I learnt that my body was inherently deserving of unwanted sexual contact, so any clothing I wore mustn’t accentuate my femininity, because a rapist will become overwhelmed with lust and be unable to control himself upon seeing my flesh. I learnt that if I drank alcohol, or took drugs, I would lower my defenses through my inebriation and become victim to sexual violence. I learnt that if I walked alone late at night, I would be walking right through the territory of prowling rapists. I learnt that if I didn’t lock my doors and windows, I was inviting rapists into my home.

And above all, I learnt that if I didn’t take these precautions – if I dressed unmodestly, drank, walked at night, left a door unlocked – it was my fault. I DESERVED that attack. 

“You provoked them,” said Rape Culture. “You dressed like a slut and walked through a dark car park.” 

That stuff, all that utter bullshit, about the kinds of rapists, about victims, that is rape culture and it’s a huge fucking load of douche.

I knew I was living in a rape culture was when I was 20. I had been sexually assaulted by a former friend while on prescription sedative drugs. I had text messages from them admitting to assaulting me. About a month after the incident, I went to the police. Questions I was asked (that were imperative to the case, according to the officers) included “why did you wait so long before reporting it?” “why do you think it was assault?” “had you slept with this person before?”.
After a long wait and a number of interviews, I was told that yes – they had spoken to the person in question. Yes – he did admit to assaulting you. But no, we can’t press charges because you had been in a sexual relationship with him a year prior to the incident, and because you were unconscious he didn’t know you weren’t consenting. No, we can’t require him to get any education about sexual assault or consent.

“It’s your job to say no,” said Rape Culture. “How could he know that you didn’t want it, if you were unconscious?”

Rape culture ignores how important consent is. Enthusiastic, non-coerced, sexy sex consent.
Rape culture says: “Do it until they say stop, then keep doing it until you are sure the ‘stop’ is serious.”
Consent says: “Do it after they say go, and then check in at each sexy step to make sure the answer is still ‘yes’.”

I am a survivor. I have been sexually abused and attacked by seven people from when I was 14 to when I was 20. Only one of those people was a stranger to me. Some of these people I had considered friends, close friends, partners. Some of them are still in circles I sometimes frequent.

These rapists, they all have faces and names. They have friends and jobs and lovers and families. These rapists are people like you and me, and they are everywhere. And like you and me, they live in a rape culture.

Don’t you think for a second that that excuses what they did to me.

But the same culture that taught me not to walk the street at night, taught them that rapists aren’t regular people, like them.

“You’re not a rapist,” says Rape Culture. “You’re a good guy! What’s the point in asking if ze wants it, if you’ve done it with hir before?” 

Not every rapist is an unteachable sociopath – which means you CAN teach rapists not to rape, and you CAN teach people not to become rapists. You can do it by telling rape culture to fuck the hell off, and stop perpetuating it.

This means teaching people that rapists aren’t just back-alley strangers – they are people who ignore consent. Teach them about what consent is and what consent isn’t. Tell them that no means no, but some body language also means no, some dismissive ‘not right now’ ‘sorry’ ‘I’m not interested’ phrases also means no. Tell them how important (and sexy) an enthusiastic ‘yes’ is, and teach them how to ask.

When you write a news piece on a sexual attacker who has assaulted, or tried to assault people in a certain area, don’t tell women not to go out at night, or stay in groups. Tell the community that law enforcement will be policing that area, give assailant descriptions, and ensure that the public know that when that person is caught, they will be charged. Don’t put the onus on women to not get raped. Crack down on potential assailants by making sure they know that you WILL come after them, and you WILL stop them.

When you’re out at night and you see your buddy hitting on someone who isn’t interested, or following someone around – pull them back and give them the hard word.

When you’re getting sexy with someone who moves your hand away from their breast, or crotch, or anywhere on their body – don’t move it back until you have been told that it’s alright.

Know that when you ask someone if they’d like to fuck, and they say ‘no’ – that’s it. Don’t keep asking. Drop it, and move on.

If a friend asks “if someone rapes a prostitute, is it theft?” tell them that it’s rape, and it’s wrong as hell to be telling those sorts of ‘jokes’.

Teach your kids to always assume that they don’t have consent until they are given it expressly and recently. Teach them consent doesn’t last forever and is always allowed to be withdrawn even during the act. 

ALWAYS REMEMBER CONSENT. ALWAYS KICK RAPE CULTURE WAY THE FUCK OFF.

I’ll be one of THOSE parents.

I overheard this conversation between a pregnant person and their friend on the bus.

“Is it a boy or a girl?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Well, when are you going to find out?”
“At the birth.”
“But you need to prepare! How will you know what clothes to get?”

At this point, I turned my iPod up louder, because these conversations make my skin crawl.

Don’t get me wrong – I love babies! Babies are great! They are squishy, miniature human beings. What’s not to love?
It’s the societal pressure that gets to me. It’s the gender expectations that have been spoon-fed to these parents, since they were little bubbies, that will then be spoon-fed to their chillenz, and then their chillenz, and then THEIR chillenz!
Ladle upon ladle of this cissexist, heteronormative gloop being poured into the mouths of generation after generation.
THAT is what bugs me. That’s why I turn up my music, and drown out the “blue for boys, pink for girls, penis for boys, vulva for girls, he for penis, she for vulva, it’s either one or the other” gloopy soup.

When your child arrives on it’s one-way journey out of Womb Station, you’ve already got your soup ready – ladle right outside the vaginal opening, ready to pour your gender expectations into its mouth the second it feels daylight.

“IT’S A GIRL! Congratulations!”

And sometimes – most times, you’ll strike it lucky. Your baby girl will go through her adolescence and stride into adulthood, happy with your decision about her gender. She’ll be 21, proud owner of a vulva and using she/her pronouns.

But other times, you may not. As was the case with my parents. Your baby girl, born with XX chromosomes, a vulva, and a girlish name, grows up as a girl. Through her childhood, she finds herself always playing the masculine roles in make-believe games. She wants to be a king, who wears high heels and has a silky flowing beard. She blossoms into a buxom teenager, where she feels a disconnect with the other girls at high school, but feels equally weird with the boys. She draws moustaches on her face, as a joke, but not really as a joke. Some days she wears skirts and make-up and relishes the term ‘Miss’, but other days she puts on baggy clothes, and men’s t-shirts and quietly hopes that someone calls her ‘Sir’.
Your little girl, she doesn’t understand why it feels like her gender is a pair of ill-fitting jeans. She knows that there are people out there who grew up in girl pants that didn’t fit, so they put on some boy pants and they fit just right. But, your kid, she doesn’t seem to fit either pair – but everyone prefers her in those girl pants, so she keeps those on.

She’s not depressed or angry about her gender, this kid of yours. It’s just some days, she wishes she could chop her breasts off, and use the boys toilets. Some days, she just wishes it would be alright for her to have a mustache, for real. And most days, she wishes that she didn’t have to hover over ‘male/female’ check boxes on surveys, feeling gross and uneasy.

Your little baby girl, with the vulva and the chromosomes and the pronouns, she turns 21. And finally she learns that there is a place for her to float around on the gender spectrum. She learns that she doesn’t need to fill her wardrobe up with just girl pants, or just boy pants. She can wear both, or make an entirely different pair of pants, or just go pantless. Suddenly, the world is her pants oyster! And shit starts to make sense, finally.

You’re lucky, parents, that this little girl of yours has a group of supportive, queer or queer-allied friends, who help her with her pants problems. Who support her when she says ‘no more she/her please. Let’s use ze and hir.’

Your kid, ze is lucky that ze learnt to stop eating your binary gender soup. But fuck, if ze had been fed something different from the beginning, ze would have had a much happier childhood.

Because of this – I know that I’m going to be one of THOSE parents – if children should ever fall into my future. I’m going to make sure I name them in a way, that they don’t cringe with gender dysphoria when someone calls to them in a crowd. I’m going to make sure they know that he and she aren’t the only pronouns, and ensure there is enough diversity in the pronouns that they hear, that using ‘ze’ or ‘co’ or ‘they (singular)’ isn’t super weird. I’m going to leave them to decide what kind of pants they put on, if any, and let them experiment with their own ‘gender wardrobe’.

There is always going to be kids who will make fun, because they don’t get it, because their parents don’t get it (or support it). But if no one teaches their kids that they don’t have to eat binary soup and wear girl pants, then kids will still risk growing up like I did – confused, unsettled and feeling wrong in their bodies, with no way to label those feelings, or talk about them.

I’m going to end this (slightly grumpy) post with a conversation I was privy to between a small child and their guardian.

“Mum, why does that one have blue hair?”
“Because they want to have blue hair, honey.”
” Can I have blue hair when I grow up?”
“You sure can.”
“I’m going to be a big man when I grow up, eh Mum?”
“You can be whatever you want to be when you grow up.”

<3

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Curves in All the Right Places

If you’ve spent two seconds on this blog, you’ll have noticed that I’m fat. If you read my ‘f-word’ post, then you’ll know that I’m comfortable about my fatness. You’ll have realised that I use the fat label happily. Maybe you’ll see a photo of me, and you’ll think “sweet jesus, what a babe”.

Then you’ll want to tell me about my babeliness. You’ll want to compliment my fat figure, and share with me the joy you experienced taking in my image.

So you say “You have amazing breasts” or “I love your legs” or “Your butt is out of this world”.

I’ll titter and flutter my eyelashes at you and say thank you, but later on, I might feel a bit shit.

Why?

Because you only complimented my socially acceptable fat parts. And you, just happen to be the hundredth other person to only compliment my socially acceptable fat parts. When you do do this, you erase my other jiggly bits.

Sure, my big boobs are lovely, my thick hips are gorgeous, my butt is round and grab-able – but being fat and loving your fat isn’t about only accentuating, praising and getting down with the parts of us society says are ‘allowed’ to be fat (you know, if you HAVE to be fat).

It’s not just when people compliment me – it’s on TV, on blogs, in magazines. It’s the picture of the thick, gorgeous woman, with a motivational, fat loving message underneath about ‘curves in all the right places’  and ‘women loving their bodies’. You know the woman. She’s got no rolls, no sags, no double chin, batwings, cankles. She is our socially acceptable fat role model. If you want to be fat, and dare to feel good about your fat – you better get your heels on, get your control top undies, thigh shapers, push-up bra and dress to flatter your ‘features’ (read: tits and butt).

And you know what? You are totally babin’ when you do that, but you are also totally babin’ when you have your leggings on to accentuate your muffin top, and your tight singlet on that hugs your back rolls. You’re a babe when you roll your sleeves up over your chubby arms and you pull up your thigh high socks so they squish your leg fat around.

You DO have curves in all the right places. Curves around your tummy and your neck and all of your fabulous fat body parts.

LOVE YO ROLLS. LOVE YO LUMPS. LOVE YO FAT.

And to end – here is a photo of my favourite roll. The underboob to backfat roll.

My underboob roll

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Please don’t shave your vagina

“Oh man, guys. I was playing hockey today and someone totally whacked me in the vagina.”

Unless your shorts and underwear suddenly fell down, you tripped over them and went flying, vulva first into a lubed up speculum that entered you and opened up, and at the same time, another team member’s hockey stick flew from their hands and also landed inside your vagina – no. You didn’t get whacked in the vagina. And if you did get whacked in the vagina, I really hope they caught the reckless person who was leaving lubed up speculums lying around the field.

“Teehee, I can’t wait to see you tonight baby. I’ve shaved my vagina for you ;)”

Sweet jesus! You must be handy with a mirror and a speculum. Though, I suppose shaving an internal orifice would be easier than waxing one.

“On the way to the shops, hir skirt blew up in the wind, and I totally saw ze’s vagina!”

Now – some people have prolapses, where the vagina has dropped inside the body and now hangs partially outside of it.
But frankly, I think you’re more than likely referring to hir pubic mound (or vulva, depending on the angle. And in that case, stop lying on the ground under peoples’ skirts when your on the way to the shops. It’s rude.)

“The vagina is a tube that leads from the vulva to the cervix.”

Gold star for you, Example Quotation.

“‘Vulva’ is the term used when referring collectively to the external genitals, including the labia, clitoris, and urethra.”

Another great  explanation, Example Quotation.

“Staring directly into a vagina can damage the retinas.”

Um.. I’m not sure that’s true.

“When people get scared, they shoot glitter out of their vaginas to distract predators while they escape.”

….Like cephalopods?

“In ancient times, the labia minora doubled as wings, so owners of vulvae could rest their legs and continue travelling.”

Stop lying to the internet, Example Quotation.

“Never.”

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My Clitoris is Offensive

A little while ago, I heard about something that made me say ‘..wait.. what?’.

Go to google, and turn safe search onto strict, then search ‘penis’ – about 199,000,000 results.
Now, try searching ‘vulva’ (28,200,00) and ‘vagina’ (118,000,000) – considerably less, but that’s not what the main issue is.
Now, google search ‘glans’ (this is the term for the head of the penis) – 12,500,000 results.
By now you’ve cottoned on to what I’m going to do, or you’re getting a little concerned someone is going to see your search history. BUT just bare with me. We’re nearly at the source of my anger.
I want you to google search (on strict) clitoris.

Wait for it…

Wait for it…

BAM

“The word “clitoris” has been filtered from the search because Google SafeSearch is active.”

And that brings me neatly to what I’m writing about today – the need to overcome the fear of good sex.
“The fear of good sex?” you ask. Yes. The fear of good sex. It’s real and it needs addressing.

Having worked in a sex toy shop for a few years, I encountered many people, particularly middle aged ciswomen, who were unhappy with their sexlives. These people weren’t enjoying the consensual sex acts they were engaging in. Some had never experienced an orgasm. Some couldn’t find their partner’s buttons, or their own buttons*. Some were worried that their bodies were wrong, or that they were being selfish for wanting more from their bedroom antics.
They came, some brazenly but most subdued, to the shop to hoping to find some help.
And that was brave, people. Stepping off the street and into a sex toy shop in search for a more positive sex life is a very brave thing to do in this society.

This is a society that says ‘clitoris’ is a naughty word. It teaches people to be ashamed of their genitala, by censoring it and making them ‘no-no parts’. It makes you ashamed of your body by only representing one type of body in the media. It treats the cisfemale orgasm like a holy grail, only attainable to some lucky people.

Schools will teach youth about condoms and erections, a little about menstrual cycles, and show pictures of STIs, but for representations of sexual relationships, mainstream porn is the Go To Guy. You can’t raise your hand in class and ask the teacher “what does sex feel like?” or “what will it look like?” “what can I do to be good in bed?”. You certainly can’t drop your pants and ask your teacher if you’re ‘normal’. The problem is, porn offers a skewed representation of sexual relationships. We’ve all seen weird broth of hairless white bodies, massive penises, small labia, perky breasts, and flat stomachs that is porn. When it comes to the sex acts themselves,porn says sex is something that is DONE TO a woman. Porn tells teenagers that ejaculation is the most important part, that men must be sexually aggressive, it often ignores safer sex practices and it totally erases (as well as fetishizes) the existance of non-binary gendered folk, people of color, differently abled people, fat people, older people, people who aren’t heterosexual.

Add the love of slut-shaming** to this already confused mix of porn and blacked out genitalia. Imagine the message everyone is recieving here.
“HEY! HEY YOU! Your body is changing and it’s weird and uncomfortable but remember USE CONDOMS but don’t have sex and CUM ON HER FACE but don’t acknowlege or pay attention to any of that GROSS STUFF IN YOUR PUBIC AREA and SHAVE SHAVE SHAVE. What are you doing? ARE YOU MASTURBATING?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?! Sluts and bitches! See this picture? IT’S HERPES! Girls get periods and boys have MASSIVE WHITE COCKS. What’s a fat person? PENIS IN VAGINA.”

Stepping past that douchebladder with the megaphone and the pictures of genital lesions is hard, and it’s even harder to step past them and straight into a sex toy shop.
I’m telling you, it’s worth it. Slapping Douchebladder in the face and screaming “I am going to have the most wicked roller coaster orgasm with my fat, brown, pansexual self so go yell at a fence for all I care!” is probably the best thing I have ever said in my life. You don’t have to scream it, you don’t have to swear, you just need to believe that you are worthy of fantastic sexy times with yourself and/or partners.
Take your sex life back from Google’s safesearch. Go stand in front over a mirror and look at your genitals, touch yourself, tell your partners where to touch you, try new kinks, don’t be afraid to seek advice.
And so all the internet knows, if you want sex advice please do not hesitate to talk to me. Comment anonymously or email stachelwhitman@hotmail.com
*sexy buttons
**slut-shaming is the act of vilifying a woman for engaging in sexual behaviours.

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[TW for fatphobia] Don’t use the f-word!

Sometimes I think that I make people uncomfortable with my fatness.

No, not like sitting next to someone and flopping my belly out on top of them, crushing them into the wall.

I mean – sometimes I’ll mention my fatness and people will squirm. They’ll leap from their seats and proclaim “you’re not fat!!”. They’ll shift around on their feet and change the subject. They’ll pretend they didn’t hear me.

Because, to them, ‘fat’ doesn’t mean ‘fat’. Fat means ugly. Lazy. Smelly. Undesireable. Unhealthy. Sweaty. Stupid. Unhygienic. Fat is a word that is immediately followed by a :( emoticon and hopefully swiftly responded to with a “no you’re not! You’re beautiful!”

A while ago, some jerks took the word ‘fat’ and glued nasty connotations to it, so people would only use it when they wanted to kick it at someone to make them feel bad. It’s up to us to pick it up and shake the nasty connotations off and see it for what it is – a word to describe something heavy, squishy, wobbly, rolly and jiggly. Fat means fat.

Don’t get me wrong – it took me a long time to get comfortable with saying the f-word. I thought if I said it, people would notice the fat and naturally that would lead to THE END OF THE WORLD.

Then, at a performance called ‘MINGE’, a bunch of beautiful feminists started saying it. And nothing happened. I double checked the Bats Theatre, and it was still totally intact. The performers hadn’t been trampled by horses. The audience hadn’t been devoured by locusts. The world was definitely still puttering along which meant ‘fat’ wasn’t a weapon of mass destruction. Fat was a word of mass description (HAH. Check out that wit, guys).

So now that we know when I say “I’m fat” I actually mean “I’m fat”, you can happily respond with “yes you are! :)” and then we can high-five and get on with the conversation.

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The first post is always awkward.

Me: “*cough* Oh, hey blod..Blog. Hey blog.”

Blogosphere: “Oh hey.. It’s Rebecca, isn’t it?”

Me: “Yeah! I mean, no. No. It’s Rachel.”

Blogosphere: “Sorry about that! ‘Sup?”

Me: “Good. I mean nothing. How about you?”

Blogosphere: “Oh, you know – just having really interesting discussions with different people about their opinions on various things.”

Me: “Man, that sounds really fantrastic. Fantastic.

Blogosphere: “Yep.”

Me: “…”

Blogosphere: “…”

Me: “…”

Blogosphere: “Um, so I have to get going, was there anything you wanted?”

Me: “Oh! Oh. Yeah. Sorry. Yeah. Hahaha. Sorry.”

Blogosphere: “So?”

Me: “Hahaha. Sorry! Yeah. So. Hahaha. Um. *cough* so I thought I’d start up my own blog. You know, for writing and stuff. Like, feminist, fat chick, queer stuff. And. Yeah. So you know. Whatever. It’s not a big deal or whatever. Like. Just if you were okay with it and stuff.”

Blogosphere: “You know that you don’t have to ask for my permission to write a blog, right?”

Me: “I don’t? I mean. Yeah, duh. Of course I don’t. Hahaha. I just thought you’d want to – yeah. Well, okay. Right. Yeah. Cool.”

Blogosphere: “Uh. Yeah. Okay, well I’m going now. Good luck!”

Me: “Oh of course. Yeah. Bye. Have a great night!”

Me: “I love you.”

Me: “I want to be you.”

Me: “Shit. I should have put on pants for that conversation.”

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