Posted on | March 27, 2014 | 122 Comments
Peter Paul Rubens, Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus (1618)
This public service announcement should not be necessary, but unfortunately there seems to be some confusion on the subject:
Rape culture is prevalent, insidious, and normalized in our culture. . . Fat women face an extra special facet of rape culture though — the fact that they should be grateful for it. You read that right — grateful for being raped. The logic goes that, of course, no one would want to touch a fat woman. We’re so gross, you know? So if someone was actually willing to have sex with us we should be on our knees with gratitude thanking that person for sharing their special snowflake of a dick with us. Some people even deny that it’s possible for fat women to be raped because, ew, who would want to have sex with a fattie? . . . Let’s be clear, while the reasons for rape are complicated and include a whole lot of things, dehumanization and objectification of women is at least one pretty large factor. And who doesn’t love to dehumanize and objectify fat women? Fat woman are simultaneously desexualized and oversexualized in our culture. Myths of fat women being always ready for sex, promiscuous, and never turning down sex abound. . . . Rape culture is where this desexualization and oversexualization intersect. No one could possibly want to have sex with you which is why you’re such a slut and sleep around and why you would be lucky if you get raped.
She’s arguing with the voices inside her head, projecting her own imaginary fears onto “our culture,” over-interpreting negative feedback, and seeking moral authority by striking a pose of outraged victimhood.
Which is to say, she’s a feminist.
Irrational screeds are impossible to refute, because logic cannot address a wild collection of anecdotes, subjective emotional responses and tendentious assertions, but let’s begin by acknowledging that (a) negative perceptions of fat people are widespread, however, (b) fat men are no less stigmatized than fat women, and (c) it is by no means evident that anti-fat bias is particularly implicated in “rape culture,” besides which (d) exactly what the hell does “rape culture” mean, anyway?
We were told that the Steubenville case was the pluperfect example of “rape culture” in action, but when all was said and done, the most obvious lesson of that saga was, drunk teenagers make very bad decisions, which is not exactly a startling revelation.
No responsible adult is in favor of teenage girls getting passed-out drunk at parties, nor are responsible adults in favor of drunk teenage boys taking advantage of passed-out teenage girls, but it seems that the teenagers in Steubenville weren’t under the supervision of responsible adults, and so something very bad happened. Except for the fact that evidence was captured in digital photos, videos and social-media messages produced by the perpetrators and their friends, there was nothing particularly significant about this crime.
Why, then, was Steubenville seized on as a drama about “rape culture”? Perhaps for the same reason that the death of Trayvon Martin became a drama about racism, or some people tried to turn the Kaitlyn Hunt case into a drama about homophobia.
There are activists and organizations with political agendas and, insofar as influential members of the media are sympathetic to those agendas, any conflict that dramatizes (or, at least, seems to dramatize) the activist agenda is ripe for exploitation. What is the result of this kind of journalistic activism? One result, predictable to any student of mass psychology, is that agenda-driven journalism spawns something akin to a copycat syndrome. Just as a highly publicized murder may be imitated by a “copycat killer,” likewise media publicity for victimhood dramas can inspire some people to say, “Me, too! I’m a victim! Help me!”
It is from this media-influenced copycat syndrome that fake “hate” hoaxes originate. Alec Torres at National Review provides a listing of recent hate hoaxes, including the infamous case of University of Wyoming feminist Meg Lanker-Simons, who fabricated Facebook threats to “hate-f**k” herself.
“I want to hatef–k Meg Lanker Simons so hard. That chick that runs her liberal mouth all the time and doesn’t care who knows it. I think its hot and it makes me angry. One night with me and shes gonna be a good Republican b–ch.”
Totally fake, and why? Well, the liberal media spent many months in 2012 promoting the phony “War on Women” meme, and the same media turned the Steubenville story into a “rape culture” drama, and if a lonely feminist in Laramie, Wyoming, was desperate for attention, what better way to get attention than to manufacture a Republican rape threat?
So here we are, in the spring of 2014, when some feminists are staging “Fat Justice” seminars on college campuses, while other feminists are declaring that all heterosexual intercourse is rape. Nobody therefore should be surprised that a plus-sized feminist would claim fat women are victims of “an extra special facet of rape culture” in the allegedly widespread belief that fat women should be “grateful for being raped.”
Do some people, in mocking feminist rhetoric about rape, express such an attitude? Certainly they do, but sarcastic mockery is one thing, and actual rape is another thing. And this is an important distinction the hysteria over “rape culture” is intended to obscure. Everybody agrees that rape is a crime that should be prosecuted; feminist rhetoric about “rape culture,” on the other hand, is a sort of consciousness-raising project that aims to change the way we talk about sex.
The “rape culture” campaign is about punishing speech — including innocuous jokes — and ultimately about silencing criticism of feminist ideology: “Shut up, because rape!”
If the media are “uncritically fascinated” with rape culture, why? “Nothing catches an editor’s eye like a good rape,” as Hunter S. Thompson observed in Hell’s Angels. If a feminist crusade gives BuzzFeed a sneaky way to appeal to prurient interests, why not?
“Rape culture,” like slideshows of adorable kittens, is good for web traffic. But we ought not confuse BuzzFeed’s search-engine optimization strategies with reality, and if feminists and their liberal media friends are making fat women paranoid about rape, this is a problem entirely separate from actual rape. Mocking feminists and mocking the media are not the same thing as mocking rape or mocking fat women.
Besides, mockery is pretty much my full-time job.
Welcome to the Internet, fatso.
(Hat-tip: @UnknownNameDoe on Twitter.)
UPDATE: At least one commenter has noticed that I illustrated this post with a painting by the 17th-century master Rubens, from whose plump female figures we derive the term “Rubenesque” to describe a woman who is pleasantly plump.
So, you might ask, is the author of the feminist “fat rape” screed a Rubenesque figure? You can go see for yourself.
By the way, she has already been the subject of a Reddit thread.