20 Mar 2013

#1 Do not rape people. #2 Women are people.


I’ve long wanted to write something about the spate of rapes in India. I’ve wanted to write about rapes and rape culture in the USA and the UK and Egypt and…  well… just about everywhere in the world today. But the problem is so vast and daunting. Where does one person begin to even make sense of any of it or have anything to say.

One particular problem I’ve had is with the way well-meaning people, particularly men, have tried to help make things better. This may sound ‘ungrateful’ or even rude, but you know what? I’m sick to death of hearing that these vicious assaults should not happen because “these girls and women are our daughters, our mothers, our wives, our sisters” – and in the case of India and Hindus worldwide, we hear that women should not be raped because womanhood is sacred and we Hindus have so many goddesses and worship God in the form of the Devi, the divine feminine, divine mother, divine wife….

So what? That’s the reason a woman or girl should not be raped? Really?

This line of argument irritates me to no end. But I’ve been at a loss of words for how to express it. Today I read a brilliant article on the US Steubenville rape case on The Belle Jar blog that says all I wanted to say about this subject and more.

Please read it. Read every word. And don’t forget what it says.

Let me paraphrase it for you here: What we need to teach the men and boys of the world is not that women shouldn’t be raped when they remind you of someone you love. Women and girls should not be raped because they are people. 

It must not be made any more complicated or esoteric than that – because if we put it out there that a woman is only Not-Rapable when she conforms to certain norms and fits certain roles and follows certain rules, then we solve nothing. We fix nothing. We perpetuate the problem. Even if a woman doesn’t dress like your mother, is no one’s sister, does not remind you of a goddess – she still deserves her human and civil rights. She should still be safe from violence and, if violated, her abusers should never be excused because, well, ‘she was no one’s daughter’.

We can keep things very simple:

Rule #1: Do not rape people. Rule #2: Women are people.

Full stop.


BELLEJAR“The Steubenville rape victim was certainly someone’s daughter. She may have been someone’s sister. Someday she might even be someone’s wife. But these are not the reasons why raping her was wrong. This rape, and any rape, was wrong because women are people. Women are people, rape is wrong, and no one should ever be raped. End of story.

…. It defines women by their relationships to other people, rather than as people themselves. It says that women are only important when they are married to, have given birth to, or have been fathered by other people. It says that women are only important because of who they belong to.

Women are not possessions.

Women are people.

I seriously cannot believe that I have to say this in 2013.”

--- Anne Thériault, The Belle Jar Blog



  1. You know that picture circulating of the young woman being dragged by her hands and feet? That was my sister in 1987.

    The group of men were graduated, former all state wrestlers...about six of them.

    Their gang leader, is on my sister's friendslist on FB. He's all religious a fine wife and daughters. Spouts xtian diatribe all the day long and talks of "protecting his daughters." He's free to live a good life.

    He wouldn't have...had it not been for a young girl...stopping he went back and turned his attention to the 13 year old child upon the couch and began the same thing with her...But once again this shy girl...who spent most of her days talking with birds up in a tree...stopped him...he then assaulted me...punching me in the face. His gang held me back as i tried to defend myself...even some of my own friends who were friends with him...were very slow to react.

    I was almost 16...they were 20's.

    As the modern day trial found those men guilty and they begin to cry...i became SO angry..."we really didn't mean to do it..."


    Only when one gets you ever hear such exclaims.

    You know, i was wondering if my own fellow ever knows how lucky he is...that i stopped him and his thugs that night.

    Often i have wanted to send him a note on FB with the simple words "you're welcome."

    First for not reporting the assault upon myself. Second for stopping him from spending his life in jail for rape...of a 13 year old child the woman who owned the party house was supposed to be babysitting.


    1. Wow. What a story, Mahalaya. And what a thing to happen to anyone. I do despair some days. I try not to dwell on how f*&ked up this world and the people in it can be. Then I realise that prayer and reflection are not crutches, as some believe, but refuges and places to recharge one's batteries. There is much to be done in this life while we are here, much to learn, much to teach, much to endure along the way. This particular fight -- to have girls and women recognised for their full humanity -- is a long hard road. We've made some progress but cannot slack up now.

      Again, though -- thanks for sharing such a personal story. xx

  2. We stayed silent, we were silent as both of us had been sexually abused as children and so this was not seen as anything different from what we had known. But, i feel this silence was a mistake. Because here we are over 20 years later still seeing the same thing happen. I made a picture which was private to my page and my sister posted it...telling the story above. She posted it upon her FB and it's the first step in making sure people understand this has to stop.

    It only takes one person to stand up and Anyone of those witnesses could have made a difference to this young woman.

  3. I really love that response video--it's amazing. This is an important post. Thank you.

    1. dcaseyrowe -- thank you for your comment. Sorry I'd not seen it before today. I don't seem to be getting email notifications right now when someone posts. But your comment is very much appreciated. Thank you.

  4. I see the rape originating from the state of mind.
    and yes, I do not blame just the men, but women are also
    equal participant to this.
    Rape should not be seen as a special case; It forms the part of a general conditioning problem that causes one see other as 'OTHER'.
    This causes all the disputes, wars, violations and killing of animals and trees.
    We all fail to see the independent existence and importance
    of everything surrounding us.
    Once we see that, not only rape but all forms of violations
    cease to exist.
    For obvious reasons, I am not elaborating my point,
    I agree that rape is one of the human deceases.

    I like your blog.