Friday, February 13, 2009

Some further thoughts on othering and a break

While I've enjoyed the prison series I have been writing (although not as regularly as I intended to), I've felt that there's a tendancy in my writing to get more and more insular, and get obsessed with exactly what I mean and don't mean. Which is interesting to a point, but I want to go further in this series than doing that would allow. So after this post I'm going to take a break from writing about prisons for a week or two (specifically timed so I can write about the glories of Joss Whedon and his new TV series), so I can come back and stop working on things I've felt like I've said before.

I do want to write a bit of follow-up to my previous post othering rapists, which generated a bit of discussion. Some commenters asked, in a gotcha kind of a way, what this meant for my attitude towards Clint Rickards, or rapists I knew.

How to deal with rapists is a basic question for this series. What would actual justice look like? How can those who have been raped get what they need? What hope is there for change? What about men who don't want to change?

I wasn't trying to answer any of those questions in my previous post. I wasn't thinking about our attitude towards men who have raped, but our construction of rapist. I think how we deal with actual rapists is a vital and complicated question. But the way we construct rapists at the moment, as a dangerous other, doesn't reflect how people react to actual rapists.

There was a suggestion on kiwipolitico that arguing that rapists are not strange scary other people, means accepting and normalising rape. Quite the opposite, the only way to fight rape is to face it as it exists, not as we construct it. The first step to un-normalising rape, is acknowledging it is currently normalised.

Finally there was an awesome discussion of those on labellementeuse's Live Journal. Which I suggest you check out. There was a particularly good discussion there about whether or not it's perfectly legitimate for women to other rapists, as the vast majority of abuse is perpetuated by men. I hope I've made it clearer where I stand with my discussion of the difference between how we treat actual rapists, and our idea of rapists, but I recommend checking out the discussion.

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