I had a follower on Twitter who said she would have shared one of my blog articles except “the page features (a) Glamour Mag Cover Woman smiling while her clothes are ripped off.”
Here is the “offending” photo:
For almost a year that picture has been on the right margin of my site (it links to an article, Saiba quais são os 100 melhores blogs de sexo do mundo (Which are the Top 100 Sex Blogs in the World). As No. 17, I think anyone can understand why I display it on the right margin of my post pages with pride. I never thought much about the cover except, “Hey, pretty cheeky. What woman wouldn’t want or fantasize about multiple men wanting a piece of her?” I never thought of it as violent or demeaning to women. The photo is obviously posed and the woman’s clothes aren’t actually being ripped off her body.
I explained what the photo link was on my site was all about and apologized if it was a trigger.
It turned out that it wasn’t a trigger for her but instead, “…more perpetration of rape culture. It’s a trip to see names I know would be opposed when clicking through,” she tweeted.
All I could think of saying in reply was, “I think we need to do a better job of distinguishing rape, rape culture & mutual consensual rough sex (ie rape fantasy).”
So let that start with me.
Rape: As of Jan. 1, 2013, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation considers rape to be: “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” (The full explanation is outlined here.) Keep in mind the key word is “consent”.
Rape Culture: Rape culture gets a little harder to officially define because those who define it, even at the academic research level, don’t uniformly define it. To me, rape culture persists among people (mostly men) who:
a. are angry at women who turn them down for sex and feel entitled to get what they are (supposedly) giving to other men.
b. see women as objects and commodities like actors in pornographic adult films and pictures, especially in themes and scenes when women appear to be forcibly used solely for male pleasure.
c. have a cultural belief that men are entitled to sex whether or not a woman wants it.
d. have a cultural belief that any woman who dresses or acts provocatively is “asking for it.”
e. believe acts like rough sex and BDSM are all about a man’s (usually) entitlement to hit, injure and physically and verbally abuse partners (usually female) than extreme mutual and consensual sensual, physical and psychological sexual play.
I take this stuff seriously. Dead seriously.
Now there are people who really get off on “rape fantasy”, which in actuality is consensual rough sex. This is done with pre-negotiation between both partners with an understanding that safe words are used and/or “no” means “no” no matter how far this kind of sex play goes. There is an understanding of the difference between non-consent and acting non-consensually, and furthermore, respect (if not love) between partners after the rough sex play pans out.
My biggest piece of advice to those who are into rough sex/rape fantasy: choose your partner(s) wisely, preferably someone you trust and know well.
If you’ve paid attention, the words “consent” and “consensual” have come up 10 times before this paragraph. The only people who need to be concerned about consent are you and your partner. It’s nobody else’s business and it’s no uninvolved person’s place to say what is and isn’t acceptable for you and your partner to practice and enjoy, even people who say that they’re sex-positive advocates.
As for the Glamour Brasil photo link on my site, I’m not taking it down. If complied with the few individuals who have complained about photos or things I have written on my site, I wouldn’t be true to myself. In all, that might be a dozen people out of over a million page views on my site. I am by no means insensitive to those have negative triggers to some sexual acts. But to act upon someone who assumes how others may react negatively to content on my blog would be just catering to someone who is just hypersensitive and might need a little education in what sex-positivity is all about.
If you feel you’ve been raped or abused, call your local police department or rape or abuse hotlines. It may be an embarrassing, humiliating or even financially devastating thing to go through, but it’s the first step in recovery, healing and taking agency of your life and sexuality.