I used to think that the most disgusting tautology in the English language was Jar-Jar. Now I realize that it is rape-rape. As in, “Well, it’s not like it was rape-rape.” Such seems to be the opinion of Leslie Rasmussen of the band Good English, which I now know will never, ever play the Yellow Springs Street Fair because of her recent letter defending rapist Brock Turner. How? I know people.
But the loss of a potential gig for a band is not why I am choosing to write about a subject that I have little right to be writing about; I’ve had some uncomfortable sexual situations in which my own “no” was not heard as quickly as I would have liked, but nothing like true assault or rape. However, I have been part of a culture that causes many of us to internalize some arbitrary and meaningless distinctions about “degrees” of rape. You know, there’s all manner of inappropriate hijinks, but then there’s RAPE-rape. The dark alley, knife to the throat, perpetrator with a ski mask whispering things about how she likes it. That, we’re told, is rape. The only category that matters. And that is pure bullshit.
And Leslie seems to have internalized it, too. In her letter she insinuates that Turner’s actions were somehow less rapey than what would qualify, in her mind, a crime deserving of 10 years’ worth of punishment. Turner’s father, in his own letter, says that his son should not have his life destroyed by “twenty minutes of action.” Like the victim–whose letter is as potent as it is tear-jerking–somehow consented to being penetrated while passed out next to a dumpster. I dunno, sounds pretty rapey to me.
I write because of the deep frustration I feel that not only men but also women have internalized these standards that deviate from what should be the operating position for us all: all non-consensual sex is rape. There is only one “type” of sex, and that is consensual. Period. It does not matter how many times individuals have had sex, even with one another, all it takes is one non-consensual interaction to constitute assault or rape.
There is no rape-rape. Only Zuul.