Some Thoughts About Rape in an Age of Collapse

Original caption states, "Dem. Rep. Congo...

Original caption states, “Dem. Rep. Congo: Meeting for Rape Victims Rape victims who have been successfully reintegrated into their communities assemble in a “peace hut” near Walungu, South Kivu in DRC. USAID-supported health programs have assisted rape victims with counseling, training, employment, and safe living environments.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

July 13, 2013
These days, news sites on television and the internet are filled with stories of bloviating politicians rushing to pass laws about women’s bodies. Usually in the guise of “protecting” women. Usually by men who’ve shown little inclination to “protect” women in areas outside of control over what goes on in their uteruses and usually – especially when it comes to the subject of rape – with all the sensitivity of a snake in snow.
Over the last seven or eight years that I have been a member of the doomer community, I’ve been on a number of forum boards where the subject of rape has been discussed, usually initiated by men in the way of “warnings” to female members, many with all the empathy of a toad for a fly.
Both men and women can be raped, though the U.S. Bureau of Justice statistics indicate that 91% of rape victims are women.
Rape is not about sex; it is about power. Therefore, in an age of collapse, whether it is powerful men trying to retain their power through rape by proxy (and intrusions into a woman’s uterus by force of law ARE rape by proxy) or powerless men trying to gain power by physical rape, incidents of rape are likely to increase.
Rape is a vicious, humiliating and life-altering experience. Whether you are male or female, child or adult, NO ONE “asks” for it. No one who has been raped ever really “gets over it”. I am 72. I was five when I was raped. There are still nights, (thankfully rarer as the years go by,) when I wake from a banished dream with that sick fear in the pit of my stomach and cannot get back to sleep until I go to the kitchen for a butcher knife to clutch under the pillow. You adapt; you do not forget.
I don’t know if cultural attitudes necessarily increase the incidence of rape, but I do know  they can make it harder for survivors to adapt after a rape has occurred. Paternalism is the act of treating other adults – particularly women, but increasingly, men also – as children that need protection or discipline by virtue of their “inferior” status. Whether it is in the form of politicians toward their constituents, employers toward their employees, governments toward their citizens or religious institutions toward their congregations, those in power will become increasingly paternalistic in their fight to maintain that power by making us feel as powerless as possible, then assuring us that what they do is for our own protection or our own good as they turn us against each other.
It’s not that I think this powerlessness is suddenly going to turn all men into rapists. It is that this powerlessness, especially for those who already buy into the rightness of these paternalistic systems, can decrease our ability (both men and women) to empathize with the victims of violent crimes, especially those against women, and the emotional consequences – especially the long-term consequences.
Even those of us not inclined to swallow these paternalistic power plays can lose our empathy or succumb to paternalist attitudes under the pressures of the long decline we have entered. I am 5’ 9” tall and currently weigh 165 pounds. I am not, now, nor have I ever been anyone’s “little woman”. I garden with a long handled hoe that has a four pound forged iron head and shuffle a heavy cast iron skillet around the kitchen most days. Even at my age, I could do some pretty serious damage to someone with either of them. I don’t need your “protection”, but as I get older I do need your recognition of my aging; I do appreciate a neighborly look-see every now and again.  So will most elderly and those who live alone.
Women can’t bench press 500 pounds. Men can’t carry and give birth to a baby. Facts of life. We all have things we’re good at and things we’re not so good at and they don’t always fit into neat, paternalistic categories. We also have emotional strengths and weaknesses shaped by our unique experiences. What most of us want from each other is appreciation of those skills and strengths and a little empathy for the rest. And “I don’t have time for that crap” is not an excuse as the pressures increase.
We have all seen veterans of war tear up, even sixty or seventy years after the events they are remembering, and dismiss them as memories of the “brotherhood” they felt back then. Most veterans of combat recognize the tears and understand the terrible, if unspoken traumas behind that brotherhood.
Women have a similar “sisterhood” – the sisterhood of rape – and there is a similar understanding by survivors of that combat when a woman tears up and speaks of “a sister” being there for her in the same general terms with which men speak of their brothers in combat.
No doubt, violence of all kinds will increase as the long emergency plays out, but rape is especially prone to increase in chaotic times. Neither men nor women can prevent them all. What women will need, in the aftermath of such trauma, is not paternalistic “protection,” but the empathy that comes from understanding that though the wars may be different, the trauma is the same and that we are all in this together as we work to overcome our traumas and rebuild.

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7 Responses to Some Thoughts About Rape in an Age of Collapse

  1. Pingback: The Missing Males | Stuphblog

  2. Well put. Solidarity.

  3. graveday says:

    I know you have written candidly in the past about your personal experience, but I would like to take this moment to offer, what? Sympathy sounds too small, condolences sounds odd.
    Let’s just say, “I’ve got your back.”

  4. theozarker says:

    Thanks, grave. That means a great deal to me. I decided to speak out when I thought it appropriate to the particular post because, too often still, it is the victim who carries the shame rather than the perpetrator. The trauma is bad enough without that extra burden. Refusing to carry that shame is a big part of healing from the trauma.

  5. I chanced upon your blog via Peter Goodchild’s. Excellent essays. I’m busy reading your past postings. Like you I enjoy writing short stories. I was one of the fortunate whose stories were placed in John Michael Greer’s AFTER OIL. If you will email me your mailing address I would like to send you a complimentary copy of this book.

    Best wishes, Randall S. Ellis
    (randallellis@hotmail.com)

    • theozarker says:

      Hi Randall, welcome. I’m glad you’re enjoying the posts. Thank you for your kind offer of the book; I enjoyed reading some of your stories at your blog. I tried to email you, but couldn’t get the connector to work. I’m sure you can understand that I don’t give out my mailing address to people on the internet.

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