Short update (12/02/12): While I was not going to publish comments by any RINJers coming in here for a bawww at me, I have elected to do so as yet another piece of the mounting evidence of how they uphold each other in their odium as well as the silly accusations/threats they level. You will note that one replier tells us he/she is not, in fact, a RINJer, but as the old saying goes, “If it looks like it and smells like it…” Anyway, to the post:
Some time ago, there was a move to have appalling pro rape-joke pages closed down on Facebook. Many individuals and groups were involved, myself included. Out of this, the Rape Is No Joke (RINJ) group was formed. At first, I supported this group. It seemed comprised of gutsy women and men who were uncompromising in their quest to have these pages removed. They appeared to enjoy a measure of success persuading businesses whose ads were linked to these pages, to withdraw their sponsorship.
All good, right?
I wish that were the case. In the months since the forming of this group, I have seen people attacked and banned for disagreeing even slightly (such as asking for trigger warnings), harassed, bullied and slandered. “Fringe lunatics” comes to mind as an apt term. I am a feminist and not always what you would call a “moderate” one; I too, have been called “extremist” for protesting that rape is not funny. I am also aware that any feminist activity is in some corners instantly derided as “extremism”, especially when that activity offends those in whose interest it is to keep degrading and subjugating women. Accusations of extremism often mean somebody is peeved because we won’t compromise – won’t, for example, be persuaded that we have no sense of humour because we don’t think a cartoon of a rape victim shouting “encore!” as her rapist runs away is “funny”. I support work that might be different from how I would proceed if a common aim is being shared. But RINJ is something different.
While, as followers of my blog will know, I do not think it’s inherently anti-male to focus on violence to women (and in this case the rape jokes were being made about women), this group has crossed far over the line of worthy discussions and focus on socially-accepted misogyny into violent misandry and ridicule of male survivors. This behaviour is exactly what feminism doesn’t need, as the more intellectually lazy, hostile or uninformed automatically believe that this behaviour represents all feminists. RINJ is becoming a joke, and not just among those whom it serves to slam feminist activism.
They have systematically alienated many people – some whom I personally know – who would have been worthwhile allies. Now, where is this going? Well, I had been worried about things like the above for some time, but the dizzy limit came for me when a friend showed me this, from the RINJ FB page:
Exit all relationships with men who abuse women. Some 42% of Australian women who had been beaten up in a previous relationship reported violence by the new partner which suggests there are a lot of really stupid, ignorant Aussie women who go back for more abuse from abusive men and seem to like it. Women who support Kyle Sandilands seem to be in that category. Save yourselves, sisters. Don’t accept abuse from men. Get therapy or other help but get out of all relationships with males who abuse women be it in your home or on your radio.
I won’t get started on the ridiculous assertions about Australian women (which I am) and those of us disposed to liking Kyle Sandilands (whom I detest). That silliness is entirely beside the point of this post. The point of this post is, oh, you guessed it clever-clogs, the odium levelled at women who have experienced domestic violence.
After seeing this and being incensed by it, I made a Facebook status update posting that paragraph, with words to the effect that any RINJ group member who supported that sentiment should feel free to unfriend me. Several FB buddies replied with statements of support and expressing their own concerns about this group.
However, one of RINJ’s most virulent adherents had this to say:
I said you would be stupid and ignorant to go back to an abusive relationship. I believe that any women would be stupid to go back to an abusive relationship. From the time I was 9 until I was 13 and escaped from the people who owned me in (place name) I and my sister were raped and beaten several times every week. I saw girls who escaped with a “customer” or potential buyer but they came back on their own because they were so scared of the world and didn’t know where to get food or simple medicine. Some say Stockholm syndrome. Nonsense. They stupid. We always thought they were stupid and ignorant for coming back. We did n’t trust. They were the ones who tattled too. They brought pain and death to their sisters. They never got any benefit from our abusers because they too had contempt for the simpering fools who were so much under control they came back for more. They were ignorant of how to survive on their own. They were stupid to come back. When I and three others escaped it was because for months we planned it and hid pieces of rope and stuff we needed–we put stuff everywhere. My sister was killed. You will never convinced me it is anything less than stupid and ignorant to deliberately return to the control of an abuser.
Yes I am strange and sometimes a little bit crazy. I hate myself all my life so it hardly matters that you do. My friends in RINJ dot Org treat me like one of them. Lovely misfits we are, one and all. Our stories we seldom share but when we sit for coffee or come to another at 3 in the morning for to comfort in a bad night, we know from the look in the eyes there is a story untold. I don’t care obviously about most hurting done to me because it is less than I know already and I have learned to numb my mind but it is no less true that if you go back ever to an abusive relationship you are stupid and ignorant in my eyes. And if you accept the abusiveness of anyone’s tyranny you are just part of the kindling that starts the fire. If the mosquito can only feed on blood and there is no more blood, there is no mosquito. If the abuser feeds on willing victims and suddenly there is no more tolerance for abuse, there are no more abusers. Don’t accept the abuse of women by any man. And don’t distort my words as you have done because you don’t ever know when some day you may be held accountable for the harm you bring by bulling one single girl.
Friends of mine politely but firmly challenged this woman on her statements; they also empathised with her ordeal but were met with more (completely unfounded) charges of “bullying” rape victims, racism and hatred. Who was it but this self-described “lovely misfit” calling other survivors “stupid?”
It must be said that I have absolutely no wish to do further hurt to somebody who has been through what this woman has. She is very young, and obviously damaged – hence I have not named her even if I have a sense that others burned by this group will know to whom I refer. What interests me is that she subscribes to the perpetrator’s contempt for women that the perpetrator has enslaved and broken. She is to be empathized with to a degree, for identification with the perpetrator can be part of the trauma experienced in a situation of captivity, and this woman deserves and could benefit from, therapeutic help.
But isn’t part of the problem we face with domestic violence and rape the fact that a large proportion of society (including those running rape joke pages) share perpetrator-sympathetic views? Also, the problem with partner rape is that survivors often don’t feel comfortable in a setting of general rape survivors, because while it’s understood that victim-blame for rape survivors is wrong, the same understanding may not be present for those women raped in a context of domestic violence. Thanks, RINJ, for upholding these problems.
Indeed, It seems to be a common tactic of this woman and other RINJers to to adopt perpetrator-ish – or certainly abusive – behaviour, and then hide behind victim-status when challenged:
Wow.You all really have such class. None of you would have the guts to say all this to my face, you hide behind computer screens. At least the gang bangers who beat me up and raped me had the guts to get in my face.
Um, we were saying it to her face, as much as the internet allows. And do we let DV survivor-bashing slide because the person doing it has been raped? Yeah, not on my wall. As well, I can guarantee you, my reader, that the comments made in reply to her were firm, some angry, but respectful. Which is more than can be said for RINJ. One of my friends went onto the RINJ page to challenge this victim-blame and was told by none other than this same woman to “Fuck off” before being blocked. Nice, that. To say nothing of “class”…
And RINJ, far from being embarrassed about how they’re being represented, upholds this behaviour! Regardless of her sad, sad story, it is an absolute disgrace that this woman is supported in these statements as the representative of an organization purportedly set up to reduce harm and insulting behaviour to rape survivors and women in general. NOT okay. Nor does her own story give her the authority to speak on a cycle and situation she clearly does not understand.
Consider this offering from one of RINJ’s affiliates:
“There is no excuse, no analysis, no justification. Exit all relationships with men who abuse women. Period.”
My (rapidly deleted) response:
No education, no clue, no excuse for victim-blaming survivors of domestic violence.
Quick rant: And I suppose this ignoramus will feed and house the 4 children of a woman who wants to escape but has no money, will she? Will she extract an effective restraining order and make an arrest if it’s violated? Will she do anything about threats to take children away? What will she do about threats to kill? And perhaps she neither knows nor cares that the most dangerous period for women in violent relationships is when they are “exiting” them; the danger of battery, rape and murder at this time increases dramatically. Must be nice to be her.
And this, after RINJ was challenged about victim blame:
The nuances of victim blaming escape you as you dart across the street with a Kalashnikov because in Somalia, if you are woman, to survive you must hide.
True enough, even if I’m not sure what their point is exactly, but my answer would be that the nuances of victim blaming escape RINJ as they put the boots into domestic violence survivors as many women in our own neighbourhoods also must hide in order to survive because their ex-partners will shoot them, stab them, set fire to them or beat them to death. Or rape them again.
RINJ – quite rightly – protests against victim-blame of rape victims. But in blaming domestic violence survivors, they are THEMSELVES blaming what is one of the largest group of rape victims. Or is it okay with them to blame some rape victims?
RINJ does not speak for me.
I urge anybody who doesn’t want to be associated with victim blame and other excessive behaviour to disassociate themselves from this group. They are doing very real damage in a number of ways. Otherwise, in the eloquent words of a friend of mine:
If you feel that a victim of DV deserves what she (or he) gets or is in some way to blame get the hell off my Facebook (Blog, Twitter, whatever) because you are no friend of mine. Thanks.
Finally, to my sisters who have survived domestic violence – those still living with it, those who escaped, those who returned many times: You are NOT stupid. You are some of the strongest, wisest and funniest women I have ever been honoured to know. I am glad you survived the best way you knew how. To those still living with it, I hope you will find the safety and freedom you deserve. There is no way I or others will stand by and see you called names and judged, and certainly not by groups or individuals who purport to champion the cause of women. Just remember that a mouse may live in a cookie jar, but that don’t make it no cookie.
- Why I no longer support the Rape Is No Joke campaign on Facebook – Blogger and Feminist Theawinde’s experiences of RINJ lies and harrassment
- Seriously, RINJ? – Damsel in De Tech’s experiences