Yesterday, I happened upon this article by way of the following youtube video.
Summing it up: Girl discloses her rape fantasies to her loving boyfriend; boyfriend goes through with it; she says it was real rape.
Now, I will not participate in the blaming process, which I feel to be rather unproductive, especially since the article was posted over 3 years ago and enough people have done an excellent job of it already (though I admit that it is very tempting). Instead, I would like to point out that virtually all the comments to that article are about assigning 100% of the blame to one side. Mostly, they blame the girl. Regardless of whether the commenter be male or female - almost everyone seems to agree that she is to blame. I don't know what to make of that, it just strikes me as odd.
The more important question is, how can healing occur after an incident like this? Putting aside, just for a moment, the blame issue and the obvious legal implications - what needs to be done for both parties to be healed?
One problem with talking about rape is that it almost seems a crime of metaphysical proportions. So the moment you suggest that the victim should do something (apart from informing the authorities), there is an almost instinctual gut-reaction to call victim-blaming!, and stop listening.
How terribly hard it is to phrase things unambiguously here. It's like a fight against language itself. Isn't this idiotic? Talking about who is to blame, and who is guilty, and who has to be punished, is so much easier than trying to actually be productive and have a positive influence. It seems next to impossible not to come off as a self-righteous prick when talking to/about a rape victim. Sure, I have not suffered through a rape. But on the other hand, we were all victims at some points in our lives, I've known several rape victims, believe-you-me I've had my own share of suffering, and on that level I hope that we can empathize and share our experiences.
So, here are my conclusions from my own experiences with being a victim of whatever life threw at me:
I think that there is a distinct difference between being the victim of a wrongful deed on the one hand, and letting that experience dominate the rest of your life on the other. The first you can't influence - the latter you can. I believe that "taking responsibility" has nothing to do with "taking the blame". In fact, I believe that one is almost the opposite of the other. Or rather, the two are distinctly different and unrelated issues. No, you can not take responsibility for the deed that was done to you; nor is it useful or necessary to blame yourself. But you can take responsibility for how you deal with it, now, and for the rest of your life.
You can take responsibility for making sure that this will never, ever, happen again to you. You can take responsibility for helping others who were in the same situation, or for helping them avoid being victimized in the same way. You can take responsibility for turning this into something positive - like a lotus
And most importantly, you can take responsibility for developing self-empathy. At some level, I guess, we all feel that we're to blame for everything that happened to us. And putting the blame on the actual offender - as much as this may be necessary - doesn't seem to really help much. It may sound counterintuitive, but I believe that it makes sense to forgive yourself for letting yourself be victimized. In overcoming my own victimhood, regardless of the actual circumstance, there always comes a certain point at which I am able to say, yes, I let this bad thing happen to me, yes, I let this person wrong me, and I can understand how I could have let that happen because I'm not perfect and neither do I have to be, I don't have to be strong all the time.
Sometimes, this was an issue of a few days. Sometimes, it took me years. And with some issues, I have been working on that for basically all of my life.
So, this is definitely not an easy thing to do. It might be a lengthy process, it might take years, it might never be completely finished. It has to be done step by step, day by day. If you're just a wee little bit better tomorrow than you are today, that is a big achievement.
Sound like not-so-much-fun? Well, yeah. I agree. I simply do not know any other way that actually works.
I also believe that the same steps are necessary for both the victim and the offender. The offender has to go through exactly the same process of self-forgiveness, self-empathy and, perhaps, finding some way to turn this into something positive.
The other thing is that, from a male perspective, there is a very simple lesson to be taken here: Never ever EVER engage in simulated rape play, unless you are fully prepared to go to jail and be labeled a rapist for the rest of your life. Not even if there was a safeword set, not even if you think you are 100% sure that she really wants it. The fun is not worth the risk, and you can not predict whether she will change her mind afterwards - and I'm not saying this in a "you can't trust a girl" way. I guess one part of the problem is that, while they're indulging in their fantasies and getting hot and steamy, people can seriously misjudge the impact the real deal has on their emotions and their mental health. Not to mention the physical impact that rape has.
In other words, she might be completely and honestly convinced that non-consensual rape is absolutely what she wants, but when it actually happens, things might turn out to be completely different. Or to phrase it even more succinctly: Rape can never be consensual. You are essentially committing a crime on your girlfriend, even if it seems that she consented to it beforehand.
I don't ever want to be in a position where I have to own up to the fact that I raped someone, regardless of not being aware of it at the time. I can't start to imagine what impact that might have on me, even if it doesn't end up in court.