Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer

Reply To: Thread of RAGE


[quote quote=5139]I saw this comment in response to an op-ed piece in the NYT — good to know there are others (of course) asking the same questions we are — may our voices grow loud and persistent!

“I work in the emergency room at UVA Hospital so I see a lot of violence, suffering, and tension up close. The Rolling Stone article focuses on sexual assault, but rape is presented as a subtext to the nature of privilege, power, entitlement, and social hierarchies. Rape is an act of power – not an expression of sexual need gone awry. That is why men are raped in prison settings; to achieve a line of authority. The questions that need addressing are: how is power distributed in our culture? Who gets to feel safe and who vulnerable? What mechanisms exist to level the dynamics of power relationships in our work, social, and political lives? Charlottesville is in the South where the tensions between class, race, and privilege are both stark and, as the article states, silent. The article and the brave victim will add to a badly needed out loud conversation. It already has.”

WOW WOW WOW. all of it in one paragraph. and with the authority of experience behind it – WOW. RAPE IS AN ACT OF POWER/MEN RAPED IN PRISONS/LINE OF AUTHORITY. Oh, Rachel, YES, the language is WRONG and helps maintain this silence of (southern) culture. Michelle, YES, CALL THIS A CRIME in line with MURDER, hold authorities accountable as a line of reporting such crimes. (My caps are out of control, sorry).


We can work specifically to redefine the word RAPE in the cultural parlance, and call it the VIOLENT CRIME and ABUSE OF POWER that it is. What if our courts prosecuted heavily for rape, as with murder? In the countries/communities where IJM has successfully advocated for victims and fought (sometimes for YEARS) within local criminal justice systems for severe judgements to be made against perpetrators, those consequences have brought about change. small, and slow, but change. It can make one crooked cop think twice about taking a bribe from a brothel owner and giving a tip-off when a brothel raid is coming, etc (so they can hide underage girls in dark holes – they can be prosecuted for having underage girls, but the older ones, prob held there since they WERE underage, can be said to be there ‘consensually’ – another story). Maybe one less girl will be lied to and brought from her rural village to the big city to “wash bowls in a restaurant and make money for her family” only to find herself sold into a nightmare of being raped many times daily for the profit of the men who lied to her. As many said back in the Maureen Ryan forum, and here, too: if men/boys were being raped to the degree of the women, this would be very differently handled.

I also want to say that I grieve for this kid who committed suicide – was he a perpetrator? Did he haze other guys into raping? or was he pushed beyond his own courage to resist the macho peer pressure and raped someone?

I want to talk about the kids who are pushed into a role they maybe didn’t want – the boy pushed into raping. He IS accountable for his actions, peer pressured into doing this or not; HOWEVER, he can be helped from being put in that position in the first place. Even if campus consequences were in place and that was the only thing holding him back, I suspect that the kid from Jackie’s discussion group, beer bottle guy, was horrified at what he was being made to do, but wasn’t equipped with the social tools to fight back. I’m giving him some credit he may not deserve. But getting back to the op-ep response, power demands authority structure. And someone in that room of Jackie’s rapists was at the top of the pack. The degradation starts somewhere and trickles down to Jackie, in this particular case – but there’s a path of destruction leading to her. A path of men making choices and allowing themselves to be used for the desires of the authority figure who starts it. YES the system is perpetuating it. But just one person doesn’t stand up to the bully in Jackie’s room, goes with what he feels is the social stigma of resisting the power figure, and this “top cock’s” authority spreads all the way to the college administration who won’t do shit about this. Not sure they’ll do anything even though it’s made national news and they might look bad (consequences that speak their language, much?). This shit who pulled the strings in that room and brutally raped Jackie is holding strings all the way to Sullivan. Why wouldn’t he do this? He knows he can get away with it. That is sickening. Putting a wrench in that pattern of power-establishing is crucial to stopping the epidemic.

there I went – talking too much again.