Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer

Reply To: Thread of RAGE


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<div class=”d4p-bbt-quote-title”>Susan53 wrote:</div>
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.


And it all comes down to – money and power and who has them and therefore defines the rules. It is true today and it was true 200 years ago in Scotland. This whole conversation brings me back to the whole BJR storyline which also includes rape and torture used as a means to maintain power. This I think is one reason the Outlander books speak to me – they present real problems that we still wrestle with today. The Wentworth episode is brutal but in reality it’s a fictional version of what happened in real life to Jackie (and others) and the underlying reasons for it are the same. Literature at its best can present hard truths about ourselves as human beings, and in at least that one section of the books Diana has acheived that. Maybe that’s why that section has always resonated to me even though I hated reading it. Reading the story of Jackie I cried for that same reason – the brutalizing of another human being ultimately done in the name of power.

To me it is clear that our society has not really progressed in the last several centuries. We have all of the shiny toys and things like modern plumbing and medicine, but we still have poverty and discrimination and desecration of our natural resources to the point of stupidity. At heart we are still all about who has the power and how they use it to oppress and control those who don’t.

There IS a better way. The problem I see is that the path to it is a hard one. It is clear that those in power will not give it up easily and they will fight dirty to maintain their control. Julia said that she believed that these things were settled 30 years ago and asks why they are coming back today. I believe what we are seeing – the renewed efforts to push women back into a subservient role, the attempts to limit our control of our own bodies, the prevalence of rape on our college campuses – are the backlash to the gains we made. Those in power lost a battle 30 years ago but they didn’t lose the war. They went away to lick their wounds and regroup and what we are seeing now is their response in an effort to go back to what they think is the “natural order” – them in power and all others subject to their rules, women at home barefoot and pregnant and servants to their owners(men), immigrants working the fields for pennies, and the poor trapped in a cycle of poverty unable to break out.

There is a saying that a wounded animal is the most dangerous and that is what I see playing out here. A generation of white privileged males is growing older and they see what is now coming to take their place (Hint: it’s not white privileged males, it’s women and immigrants, and gays, and others NOT LIKE THEM). They are desperate to indoctrinate a new generation of those like themselves so as to continue what they believe is the way things should be. To that end they have bought out our media and our politicians and are destroying our educational system, in an effort to hold onto what they believe is theirs by right.

I don’t have any answers other than to keep speaking truth to power wherever we can and working to support those who see the wrong in what is going on in our society, in hopes that more and more like minded people will begin to speak out and take action for change. Water dripping can wear out stone over time. Hopefully it won’t take that long – I want my daughter and son to live in a decent and moral society that respects the rights and humanity of all of it’s members not those of just the privileged few.

  • This reply was modified 7 years, 5 months ago by barbc624.