Magical Truthsaying Bastard Shadesong (shadesong) wrote,
Magical Truthsaying Bastard Shadesong

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About rape in fiction

This comment was too long for the intended comment thread, so I'm posting it here.

It's not an old wound thing as much as it's... well. Background. It was ten years ago next week. I'm mostly okay now. Not 100% - if anyone ever gets 100% better, well, I haven't heard of 'em. But it doesn't really affect me on a day-to-day basis.

Since I'm someone who's a little bit in the public eye who talks about it, though... people come to me. I'm a support system. You'll notice a lot of comments on that post are fairly recent, considering the age of the post - the link gets around, and I know of several people who were sent by mutual friends to read it. Other survivors.

I get at least one e-mail a week from other survivors. Because I'm not silent, and because I'm a safe person to talk to. I've worked hard to transform a life-destroying thing into a way to help other people. Can't solve their problems, can't make them poof!-all-better. But you'd be surprised at how much just talking about it helps.

Gods, I feel like a missionary here. *laugh* I'm not a saint. I just do what I can, and two of the things I do best are write and listen.

Re: the idiot above and compassion - certainly wasn't asking for any from him, as I doubt he even knows how to spell it. I just take objection to being attacked for a simple comment that no one else seemed to have any problem with whatsoever, y'know?

The point of my objections here: Rape is often handled irresponsibly in books (I'd say literature, but Donaldson doesn't qualify!). The reason for this, I assume, is that the author has no clue what it's like. Many writers will just toss in a rape. Donaldson builds his book around it, he doesn't just toss it in, but still: In order to show that Covenant is A Bad Guy, he has him rape someone is Chapter One.

Which is lazy writing, too.

But yes. He doesn't rob someone, or beat someone up, or even kill them - he rapes them. Example two: Guy Gavriel Kay's The Summer Tree. The book follows a group of people. Each chapter follows a person, goes back and forth, etc... but there's one character Kay seems to have forgotten about after Chapter One, and the final chapter, he seems to remember that she exists and, oops, gotta have something happen to her - so she's raped by a random character, and end of book.

Lazy writing, yes. If you, as a writer, want to do something bad to a male character, there are options. Beat him, kill him, make him sign bad checks. With a female character, these writers take only one option: rape.

My objection comes in here...

In books like this, there are no repercussions for raping a woman. Rape her, tra-la-la, walk on with your life.

If you don't think this sends a message, you're fooling yourself.

In a lot of cases out here in the real world... rapists think they can get away with it. And they often do, because they've intimidated the victim into not reporting it, not pursuing it. So they zip up and walk off - and the girl is left there, shaking, wide-eyed, broken inside, cowed into silence. Because We Don't Talk About Rape, as a society. We don't talk about rape and we don't talk about child molestation. Breaking that silence is difficult beyond the imagining of it. It is.

My rapist wanted to give me a ride home, once I'd talked him out of killing me. So nobody else would grab me, he said. Because I seemed like such a nice person. He figured he'd see me at the local coffeehouse sometime.

I have a friend who was raped by her friend. On her birthday. When he was done, he asked her out.

I know girls who've been told that the rapist would kill them if they ever told anyone.

I know of serial rapists.

They see characters get away with it, and they see how, and they know that they can get away with it too.

Which is why, IMO, writers have a moral responsibility to show repercussions. To focus on the girl and show that this is not just physical assault, this is tantamount to murder; in After Silence, Nancy Venable Raine said that when a woman is raped - she dies that day. Her life is so completely different afterward that she simply is not the same woman. There's truth in that.

It's not what it's portrayed as in fiction. The woman does not walk away from this. Not right away. Often never. Part of why I keep walking - because others see me and know that if I can keep walking, if I can gradually heal, they can too.

I did a ritual last year to ask for healing for sexual abuse survivors. I did a poll here on LJ and lit a candle for each person, each man and woman and child.

236 candles is too many. Far, far too many. And only a drop in the ocean.

A rapist thrives on silence and the "knowledge" that there will be no repercussions.

In my comment to the idgit above, I said that no, I don't believe that rape shouldn't be written about at all. It should, if for no other reason than to break that horrible silence. But it should be written about responsibly. It shouldn't just be a throwaway plot device. The girl shouldn't be All Better three pages later... that just sends the message the rape isn't actually all that bad. Yeah, sucks that you fucked her when she said no, man, but she's fine the next day, no harm, no foul...

That's wrong. And it's a message that's being sent. Which is what pisses me off.

Wow! Sorry I rambled. *laugh*


In conclusion (not in the original comment) - if you need someone to talk to, I'm here. I can't do your healing for you. Only you can do that. But it helps to talk and know you're being listened to. It helps to get to feeling safe. It helps to know that someone else understands.

Alchemy. I've fought my way from the brink of suicide over this, put myself back together for the most part. And part of why I'm public about it is that other people need to know they can. That they are not alone.

Feel the need to support rape assistance? Good. The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network runs a national hotline to help survivors and direct them to crisis centers in their area. They perform an invaluable service and deserve all the support they can get. Bonus - I blogged for RAINN for last year's BlogAThon (raised about $2K, yay!), and I offered an exclusive Shayara short story as an incentive. Took me forever to get to writing it, but it exists now. Want to read it? Donate to RAINN and send me your e-mail receipt.

Need to speak to a local professional? Call RAINN. 1-800-656-HOPE.

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