Monday, October 14, 2013

*Gizmos Reviews Presents* Rape, A Discussion By A Survivor

Rape in books, is it necessary, or a cry out for attention?

I have been pensive about writing this post because frankly, I am scared to death about the possible backlash and the consequences of speaking out in such a public manner. It wasn’t until I had a difficult and enlightening conversation with some brilliant authors on Twitter, that I realized that this discussion is necessary and way past due, and therefore I am hoping that you will take a moment and read this post through until the end.

As a person who suffers from the indignity of PTSD, rape wasn’t something I was willing to speak out about. But, being a rape survivor is a part of who I am and what molds me, and makes me who I am today. I don't often speak about it in a public forum. If you have or are following me on Twitter, Facebook, my blog, or read any of my reviews since 2009, you understand that I am absolutely against Rape in any sort of form whether it is in the movies, on TV, or in any book I’ve read. It is probably the one thing that will absolutely make me lose respect for the author, and it leads me into an emotional funk.

Let me repeat my stand to be absolutely clear to anyone who does not know me:

I do NOT like rape in any form. I do NOT agree that there is any rhyme or reasoning for any author, director, or producer putting rape into any novel, movie, or TV show in order to gain more readers, viewers, or advertising dollars. If you put a rape scene into your book, movie, or TV show, you are advocating and continuing the media’s clear disregard for what society believes is acceptable in terms of rape being acceptable in today’s society.

When you put a female character into a situation where a male antagonist feels that it is absolutely fine and necessary to rape the heroine in order to get them to be with him, then you are advocating rape. If your character uses pheromones, or deadly instruments, or forces themselves onto another human being in order to get them to do whatever they want, you are advocating rape. If after you write a scene that involves rape, and you believe there is nothing wrong with adding it to your story, you are advocating rape.

You also lose major rating points and respectability with me. You will also find that I won’t likely buy your product, or continue to read your series, and I will encourage others to avoid purchasing your product as well.

As a point of clarification to anyone who doesn’t know me, I am a rape victim and survivor. In 1997, I somehow managed to survive being raped by 2 men in Syracuse, New York while I was out with some friends after a long and painful day at work where I had just quit my job over my bosses’ misogynistic management and idiocy.

At the time, I was wearing work clothes, meaning, a blouse, longish skirt, and knee high boots since it was the middle of fall and winter was rearing its ugly head. I wasn’t asking for it. I didn’t mouth off to anyone. I didn’t expect it. I wasn’t drunk, nor did I go around soliciting sex with anyone. I was blindsided as I walked towards my car heading home and I am lucky that I not only survived relatively intact, but I remembered everything that happened to me.

While one Pendejo (coward) held a knife to my throat, the other individual tried to shove his cock into me. His friend took his turn forcibly cuming into my mouth, which to this day, I have a severe gag reflex which precludes anyone from sticking anything into my mouth, let alone dentists, or doctors. To this date, I refuse to GET OVER IT, like the media and society and certain professionals have tried to tell me to do. 3 years later, I moved from New York to Florida because my rapists have never been caught thanks to the fact that my so called friends, left without seeing that I made it to my car safely and gave me the "look" after all was said and done. Yes, people, you know what I am talking about with the look. The look of sympathy. The look of disbelief. The look that you are now broken and can't be fixed.

In order to come to terms with rape culture, society needs to come to terms with some hard realities about rape itself. Research shows a couple things about rape as it pertains to young Americans: unhealthy attitudes about sex take root at a young age, rapists are likely to become repeat offenders, victim-blaming starts young and most rapists don’t take responsibility for their actions, and many rapists use emotional manipulation instead of physical force to coerce other people into having sex with them.

*Highlight here is many rapists use EMOTIONAL manipulation to coerce people into having sex with them.”

Rape culture is a term used to describe the normalization of sexual assault in a society. Or, for a better term, “a culture in which rape and other sexual violence (usually against women) are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media condone, normalize, excuse, or encourage sexualized violence."

I think this is the best quote I could find while researching rape culture.

“For those of you who wonder why rape victims get all super sensitive about rape jokes ‘n shit, well, this is why. Before you’re raped, rape jokes might be uncomfortable, or they might be funny, or they might be any given thing. But after you’re raped, they are a trigger. They make you remember what was done to you. And if the joke was about something that wasn’t done to you, not in quite that way, you can really easily imagine how it would feel, because you know how something exactly like that felt. Rape jokes stop being about a thing that happens out there, somewhere, to people who don’t really exist, and if they do they probably deserved it, and they start being about you. Rape jokes are about you. Jokes about women liking it or deserving it are about how much you liked it and deserved it. And they are also jokes about how, in all likelihood, it’s going to happen to you again.”'

Somewhere in America, a woman is raped every 2 minutes (U.S. Department of Justice)

Societal Attitudes Supporting Rape

-54% of the women surveyed had been the victims of some form of sexual abuse; more than one in four college-aged women had been the victim of rape or attempted rape;
-57% of the assaults occurred on dates;
· 73% of the assailants and 55% of the victims had used alcohol or other drugs prior to the assault;
· 42% of the victims told no one.
- In a survey of high school students, 56% of the girls and 76% of the boys believed forced sex was acceptable under some circumstances.  <-These are High School students folks. Aren’t you proud of your little Johnny and Jill?
- Women with a history of rape or attempted rape during adolescence were almost twice as likely to experience a sexual assault during college, and were three times as likely to be victimized by a husband.

Goodreads even has a listopia: Young Adult Books About Rape & Sexual Abuse

You can most likely do your own research if you are so inclined, after you are finished reading this post. I encourage you to speak out against rape. I encourage you to take little Johnny and Debbie and tell them that RAPE is NOT okay under any circumstances, and if they witness this happening, then they SHOULD speak out and call the authorities.
If you believe that rape is common only with women, please read this next article to see how wrong that believe is.

In closing, I have found poem that probably hits harder than I could ever do.

I am a rape victim.
When you look at me.
You see a face.
That doesn’t cry.
You see a body.
That has no visible scars.
You see a smile.
That shows no pain.
You see an average teenager.
You wouldn’t believe how much pain this teenager has endured.
The kind that feels powerful enough to make you want to die.
Have you ever had your voice get silenced?
So badly that you forget you have one?
I have.
But you see an average teenager.
I know how it feels to be powerless.
I know how painful it is to lay there motionless
While three guys pleased themselves on my fragile body.
I fought.
I begged.
I said “NO”
They kept going.
I am a rape victim.
But all you see is a teenager.
All this time I get told its my problem.
None of societys business.
But it is everyones issue.
I am a female.
Just like your mother.
your sister.
your daughter.
your best friend.
your girlfriend.
I am a rape victim.
Just like millions of others.
Males are victimized too.
Don’t think that it won’t happen.
It can.
People say:
"it will never happen to me."
I said the same damn thing.
But it did.
I was sure I’d be safe.
They were all friends.
Friends won’t hurt me.
But they did.
I became a rape victim.
They took my virginity
And left me to bleed and suffer.
They killed my soul.
Molested my body.
And left me broken.
I am a rape victim.
I was ashamed.
It was my fault.
I trusted.
I got hurt.
I should have stopped it.
But I couldn’t.
I was the victim.
A rape victim.
I was disgusted.
of my body.
of others.
I burned my skin everynight in the shower.
Attempting to get their touch off of me.
I stopped eating so the fat they grabbed and held down by would be gone.
I was blamed.
I was abandoned.
I was beaten.
I was threatened.
and all because
We have the power
To support victims
We have the power
To change society
We have the power
To end the pain.
We cannot change everyone.
But we can change ourselves.
Bring awareness
Rape is everywhere.
Victims suffer everyday.
By making a change.
By putting the blame where it belongs.
By stopping the misuse of the word “Rape”.
By bringing awareness.
By supporting our voices.
I am a rape victim.
I don’t want anyone else to suffer too.

I encourage you to leave comments, but, please be respectful in the process.
Thank you for stopping by.


  1. I'm glad you wrote this post! In my review today I mentioned how I hate seeing rape as simply a plot device. But really, I hate seeing it at all, and I always get quite anxious when it comes up. Too many authors, especially in NA, are using it to make their books edgy or intense, and it makes me really uncomfortable. Rape is not entertainment.

    I was raped when I was 15, and 8 years later, I'm still not over it. Most days I'm fine, but I do still have nightmares from time to time, usually around the time I finish a book that involves it. Several of those books I'd have never picked up if I knew what I was getting into, so I wish authors could put a trigger warning, instead of leaving it as a "surprise twist" or whatever.

  2. Thanks for sharing your story. *hugs*

  3. I'm a survivor of childhood abuse that includes molestation. I suffer from PTSD and there are definitely triggers that can send me spiraling. A few times I've had them activated by a book, television show, or film.

    That being said, I don't shy away from violence in my horror novels. That does include rape. As someone who has worked with support group to help survivors, etc, I know the value of shedding a light on the truth of abuse. When I wrote The Tale of the Vampire Bride I included rape on purpose because I wanted my readers to be vastly uncomfortable with the premise that men can do whatever they wish when "married" to a woman. The acceptance of marital rape is a big issue worldwide. I also wanted people to be angry when the other vampire women regarded this as "okay." Lady Glynis is angered by her treatment and fights to free herself from her abuser, which is no easy task. I poured a lot of research into her development, even reading about Stockholm Syndrome. I've had survivors tell me how much they love Glynis because she does fight back.

    That being said, I have a serious problem with how the media uses rape as a plot device to usually bring down a strong woman so that she has to lean on the male hero, or as a device to make the male character the hero as he gets revenge for the sake of a woman. Oftentimes I feel these portrayals are salacious and lazy writing.

    We''re so brainwashed as a society we don't even realize that what we believe is wrong. Sometimes a book, movie, or television show sheds the light of truth on a subject matter and helps people break free.

    I know someone who saw Sleeping With The Enemy years ago and broke down sobbing in the theater. It wasn't until she saw that movie that she realized she was a victim of domestic violence.

    Fiction can be a teaching tool.

    A rape scene was recently shown in American Horror Story Coven. It involved a date rape drug. It was very hard for me to watch because I was slipped a drug while in NYC years ago and my husband (who was my bestie at the time) saved me from the guy who was trying to lure me away. I thought the scene was scarily accurate in how it portrayed the girl's disorientation and how EASY it was to drug her and rape her. One minute I was having a conversation with someone, the next I was in a world gone mad and couldn't even walk on my own. If not for my friends that night, who knows what would have happened. There was no slut-shamming involved in the scene either. It just showed how callous and horrible this sort of situation actually is. I really hope it opened some people's eyes.

    I suppose my point is that writing a rape scene doesn't make you an advocate of rape. Each book/tv show/film should be judged individually. I HATE our present rape culture, but I think we should discuss why it's wrong. If it takes a book/film/show to open someone's eyes, then I'm all for it.

    And I totally respect your opinion and salute you for standing up as a survivor. You're amazing. Never forget that.


  4. Our culture's representation of rape is definitely skewed and while I don't appreciate seeing it in films and reading about it in books, I don't feel that because it's being used in these forms that it always mean they're advocating rape. It just needs to be represented fairly and I feel that it's often incorrectly. I applaud you for voicing your opinion though, there's nothing wrong with that and you should never feel you should keep quiet about something you feel so strongly about.
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words