This is our truth, tell us yours
Content note, this post discusses rape, pedophilia, victim blaming and rape apologist myths
You have to have been living under a non wifi enabled rock for the past twenty four hours not to have heard that Dawkins has yet again seen fit to give us his views on rape, pedophilia and sexual assault. Anyone who has read the God delusion already knows that Richard struggles once he gets outside of science. He seems to think that philosophy is superseded by science, rather than understanding it is the base on which his heroes stand. It is no wonder therefore that he fails to understand things such as subjectivity or false equivalence.
He is however far better at publicity than philosophy and so always couches these tweets in what some might call common sense. I have seen such reactions on twitter, we have different sentences for different crimes, so surely they are different they cry. Dawkins is just a victim of a feminist witch hunt where cis (made up word) white (reverse racism exists) men (most oppressed minority) are too afraid to voice what everyone (cis white men) is thinking.
Here I have a confession to make, and we have to go back to an earlier story this summer. When the reporting on the trial of Rolf Harris said that one of the victims had her life ruined by being touched by him my first reaction was bloody hell didn’t take much to ruin your life. This is what I assume Dawkins meant by “mild pedophilia”. Now being a person who prefers to be empathetic I examined my reaction, after all our first principle when it comes to people talking about their lives is the wonderful quote Carter lives by “This is my truth, tell me yours“. My truth is that had an adult touched me in a sexual manner as a child I would not have been surprised, indeed I doubt it would have registered. I did not think adults were wonderful places of safety who I could trust and feel comfortable around. My truth was that adults had a sexual interest in children, exploited that interest and did what they wanted with children. What a shock it must have been to Harris’ victim to have all of that shattered. Her truth was that she could trust and be safe, and in a moment that was taken from her.
This is why terms like mild pedophilia mean nothing, what would have been mild to me was only based on the fact that my life experiences contained events that Dawkins would no doubt feel were “proper” pedophilia. Is this what he, and his supporters are arguing for? That only those who have already had trust ripped from them can be the benchmark of whether abuse is damaging? If so they create a world where children like me, who didn’t even know they were being abused become the worlds worst moral arbiters.
Which brings me to the second tweet of Dawkins, and the idea stranger rape is worse than date rape. Part of me wonders if I even need to list the reasons the why this is so wrong, then I remember the common sense tweets of support, and it becomes clear I do. Again to personalize things (my truth) my childhood sexual abuse happened, as if usually the case, at the hand of a family member. It was the very fact it was not a stranger that meant I did not report. To claim as Dawkins did that somehow the abuse of trust does not add to your suffering is his usual, say what the man in the pub (assuming Paul Gadd drinks in your pub) is thinking. Whether child or adult to be hurt by someone who you believed cared, to have those bonds of trust destroyed is devastating. It also leads to people hiding what is happening to them, believing they must be responsible, blaming themselves rather than the abuser. Add in the fact that society as a whole tends to support the victims of” real rape“, and tells women they must fight back in order to be treated as worthy victims and we have simply more rape myths being perpetuated by men who see this as playground debate to gain publicity.
There is no right response to rape or sexual assault. There is no rule book to being a survivor. The only universal truth is that your story, and your reaction are unique and you no one can demand you should do this or feel that. However there is one universal truth we can I hope all agree on, Richard, your a dick.