Sexual Violence & Rape Culture

I was recently hired as an intern for a small nonprofit working on sexual violence prevention. I am really excited to work with them on their awareness campaigns, fundraising, curriculum development, and starting a local chapter. Being hired has given me pause to reflect on sexual violence and how it relates to my experience negotiating and navigating our open relationship.
I grew up with very clear ideas about sexuality from my mom. Because she (and her siblings) was molested for a number of years by her stepfather, she had a very clear message to send to me and my sister about sex: it should always be consensual and caring. Consensual sex was the only kind to have; if I didn’t want to have sex for any reason, then I shouldn’t have it. I should never feel pressured for any reason to have sex. Interestingly, I found out last weekend that my mom and dad did not have premarital sex. They dated for two years before getting married, and while my mom would sleep over at my dad’s apartment, she always slept on the couch. When my dad first told me this, I thought he was lying because he was embarrassed to be talking to his daughter about sex; well, he wasn’t. My mom’s traumatic childhood forced her to vet her future partner for as long and as best she could before allowing her body to be open to someone else again.
My experiences with sex, thankfully, have never been on the negative end of the spectrum. I have always had consensual and caring sex, and it has always been a clear choice for me to have sex or not (an exception to this is if I count my first anal sex experience as non-consensual, which I do some days). Opening up our relationship was easy in the sense that I have had only positive experiences with sex; I have never worried about my psychological or physical safety or health when getting naked and inviting someone to touch me and sharing my body and self with someone else. My positive sexual past has allowed me to explore other positive sexual experiences. Unlike my mom and others close to me, I have not had to do the difficult and painful work of confronting a non-consensual sexual past or experience to move forward in order to have positive experiences. This recognition is partly why I am so determined to help re-shape our culture around patriarchy and sexual violence.
Critically thinking about my fantasy for multiple men-single woman encounters (which I refuse to call a “gang bang” for much longer- it reminds me too much of gang bang rape; thus, my insistence for people to call it something else!! Goddess Worship works!) through this lens of sexual violence is so interesting. I am just so curious about where this fantasy came from. Is it our rape culture? (Rape culture refers to our cultural acceptance and tolerance for violence-physical, emotional, psychological- against women, sexual objectification of women, etc.) Or is it more related to my growing awareness of my sexual role as a sub? I definitely would not like or want a goddess worship experience where there was violence or disrespect involved. My attraction to the goddess worship experience seems to be from being a major sub, and just wanting to get a bunch of guys off in the same night. I get totally turned on thinking about giving all of the power in that situation to J (however, this is in the vein of the “suspending disbelief” that Dan Savage talks about- I know I could still totally stop anything I didn’t like. But suspending belief for an encounter, and playing into the power play, definitely turns me on). But I wonder how media messages around men being dominant and women being submissive, and the cultural acceptance of that traditional relationship between men and women, have affected me. I am also curious about how porn and erotica have influenced my perception of this fantasy.
I got quite an extensive reading list from my supervisor, and I am excited to read through some new books, and report on related ideas. Some of the titles are: Yes Means Yes, The Purity Myth (this is the one I am most excited about!), and Transforming a Rape Culture.

2 thoughts on “Sexual Violence & Rape Culture

  1. K- how exciting! I worked as a sexual assault peer counselor back in the day – it was rewarding work. I also did a lot of work with fraternities during my sorority days to talk about rape prevention. I also worked with medical students to help them know how to interact with survivors in the future. At times the work is exhausting, but so worth it.

    It looks like a good list of books (I have all those and more). I read them during college for my major (women's studies) or on my own. You are welcome to borrow some!

    I agree with you disgust for the term “gang bang” to refer to consensual & positive group sex. I am looking forward to talking more next week. Many hugs!

  2. I can't wait to talk to you more about this!! You are going to love the organization and what I am going to get to do. I am sure I will need some guidance along the way with all of it. I am so excited to see you and T next week! Love you!

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