Sometime around 2011, when I worked at a sexual assault centre, I started fielding calls from prosecutors asking “What is “rough sex”?” also asking “Do you think this could be just rough sex and not rape?” First of all, am I supposed to know? Second of all, Whut???
On some level, it was good that prosecutors were calling back then to check out the latest trick from rapists and their lawyers, that injured women reporting brutal rapes were just kinksters with a case of regrets. I should have been more concerned when prosecutors stopped calling. Because that meant that this was now being accepted as a thing, and no doubt prosecutors were exercising their discretion to now drop cases that they might have brought forward because these were in the minority of rape cases with actual physical injuries. Now even that tiny island of credibility was lost to women. (Cue Jian)
Fast forward to the porn-inspired death of Ms. Cindy Gladue. Where a courtroom could be sold on an 11-inch cut to a vagina bleeding out as sort of an accident. Well, it was sort of a cultural accident, in that Europeans accidentally arrived at this continent, then deliberately proceeded to decimate and dominate its people, continuing currently via the objectification and dehumanization of indigenous (and settler) women, through porn and prostitution.
The pornographers have achieved saturation – what would have once been completely beyond comprehension as anything other than maiming and murder and brutal criminality is now just “rough sex” as seen by the most conservative elements of Euro-Canada, the justice system. Such images, resulting from the brutalization and filming and marketing of countless women (and children, and a few men) are now firmly in orbit in cultural consciousness as “sexy.” Mission accomplished.
White anti-feminists are constantly telling feminists who point out anti-woman bias in white culture to “go fight female genital mutilation in Africa” instead (among other things feminists are told to do, such as FOAD.)
Can white folks please have a look at our own willingness to degrade and maim female genitals and bodies in the name of medicine (19th century slave-owner mad gynos, episiotomy, symphisiotomy, unneeded hysterectomies, clitoridectomy, intersex mutilations at birth, etc.), in the name of “beauty” and male sexual pleasure (labiaplastys, “husband’s knots” in episiotomies, clitoridectomy, and SO many things in porn-porn-pornstitution), in the name of justice (prison mistreatment, subjecting rape victims to intrusive outdated “examinations” such as plucking 30 pubic hairs, Ms. Gladue’s exhibited pelvis, and the photos taken of women’s wounded bodies for showing during trials that never occur because charges are dropped anyway, to name a few.)
I recently insisted to friends that the toughest thing in the world is the vagina, like the energizer bunny, like certain paper towels, like the spider’s thread, like an endless echo, like the ocean. But like the oceans, there’s a limit, and the unthinkable is happening – it has become ok to destroy our oceans, our vaginas and our world.
Can we please start sexualizing gentleness with the ferocity that pornographers and misogynists have sexualized violence? This is an easier job, because when we are gentle, we naturally can play and feel. “Rough sex” belongs to a world that is intoxicated by dominance, violence and rape (including the women socialized and sexualized into it.) The ideas of stopping, slowing down our speed and aggression, becoming alive to others’ humanity, and saving the world is not just about working for peace or “environmentalism.” It is about how we treat our vaginas and the people attached to them.