I explain that when you live as a woman, there is often a power imbalance. And that power imbalance means that I would in all likelihood let myself be raped if I perceived a threat. And seeing as the prevalent power imbalance means that threat is ever present, rape is always a viable possibility.
You’ve heard it in so many wise texts; power is a gift, use it wisely. And what is wisdom? Wisdom is understanding that you know very little and that that is a natural consequence in being human. You are human. And you know very little.
We attach to those of our ilk, beyond rationality. And few of us have enough self-awareness to overcome it. The law and our systems were designed to counteract this; ‘the law is reason free from passion’. The very concept of the American electoral system is based on a fundamental belief that some people are able to be more objective than others and will vote for the benefit of all. And yet because of the strength of their own self-interest, the strength of their own reptilian instincts, they will naturally fail to do so.
So white folk, we have a task in front of us which might seem huge, but really it isn’t. It is to face our own prejudice when the most obvious and comfortable way to survive is to stay in our bubble. It is to step up and be accountable for our ignorance, even if ignorance is part of our humanity. I will hold your hand as we overcome our fragility and cultivate empathy and battle our minds which tell us that it’s not our problem.
In-groups are formed by what we consider to be ‘relevant’ familiarity. Children, and even adults, process most of our information visually which means that varying skin tones might be not only the first but also the only indicators for who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’.
If you are not at the centre then don’t shit on the person whose been hurt – your job is to support them. If you yourself need support in order to do that, bitch to people who are less affected by it; comfort in, dump out… On a macro scale don’t give more burdens to those who have been oppressed. Don’t expect compassion from those who have been dumped on. It is not their job to show it.
As might be evident, ‘bad’ objectification involves a lack of consent, because if you cannot consent, you have no power to decide. You have no agency. But if objectification is consensual, can it be a good thing?
Because I went. I saw Tarzan. I objectified, and thoroughly enjoyed doing so, thinking it at best harmless fun and at worst a sort of inconsequential revenge for all the years that my sisters and I have been objectified. This is what the men go on about, I thought. Yes, it’s fun.
I’m not laughing anymore. I’m crying because what this farce of an election has done, is to uncover evil in my own home, in my own friends and yes, also in myself. It has torn the veil off those relationships I believed were rock solid. Not because my world or social circle are anything like as extreme as Trump, but because extreme or not, his vile behaviours–like the objectification of women–are so commonplace.
Many abuse victims like me, have also demonstrated the same behaviours which can be tagged as emotionally abusive. Yet they are not abusers themselves. Why? At what point does hurt become abuse?
It had been a joke to my boyfriend, an anecdote from a fun evening out. They even have an expression for it in locker-room Swedish–‘gut-brothers’–for those men who’ve shared a vagina. But when he saw the expression on my face, he got an inkling that something, somewhere was very, very wrong.
I can understand of course, why that always has to be the line in our culture of legal, illegal. Ethical, unethical. But language both drives and is driven by, humanity and culture. Defining polar opposites of ‘yes and no’ means simply by their definitions these opposites are reinforced. Of course they do exist but as with everything else… they exist on a spectrum. Our positions of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ are only two binary values in a world full of grey.