Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Abuse ranking; sexual assault.]

"There is no hierarchy of abuse — that if a woman is raped [it] is much worse than if woman has a penis exposed to her that she didn't want or ask for… You cannot tell those women that one is supposed to feel worse than the other. And it certainly can't be prescribed by a man."—Minnie Driver, with some words for Matt Damon and any other dude who imagines he can tell women (or other men, or genderqueer folks) how to feel about the sexual assault they've experienced.

Let me reiterate once again: Not only does abuse ranking suggest there is only one correct way to respond to unwanted touching, but it suggests that every person who is touched without their consent has exactly the same history, and exactly the same emotional resources, and exactly the same support network, and exactly the same relationship to the person touching them, and exactly the same potential recourse, and parity in all the other things that affect one's emotional response to sex abuse.

It suggests that survivors should "get over it," and that all of us can.

That is not the case.

Further, there are indeed some women who genuinely aren't particularly bothered by unwanted touching, or whatever act is invoked as the "lesser" option in some iteration of abuse ranking.

They are very lucky. (I'll come back to that.)

And there is something deeply ugly in men universalizing their public statements about their own experience to audit and shame other survivors of the same acts.

When a man doesn't respond to that with, "Phew, I'm glad that didn't bother you, since unwanted touching is so ubiquitous," but instead, "See? Women shouldn't be bothered by it!" that isn't a man who gives a single fuck about dismantling the rape culture.

Or about survivors of sexual harassment and/or assault.

Because anyone who has survived any sexual abuse at all, no matter how supposedly "minor," and managed to survive it without any triggers, or managed to find the resources and support and safety and space they needed to move beyond them, then they are very lucky.

I am very lucky. I am still occasionally triggered, but nothing like I was 20+ years ago, when I was emerging from experiences of profound sexual abuse and felt like a raw nerve walking through the world. Part of that was my determination to process what had happened to me, and part of it was the hard work of doing that processing, and part of it was the sheer stupid luck of having the resources and support and safety and space I have needed, which sometimes just meant having a friend in the right place at the right time.

What if I'd not had this friend or that friend in the right place at the right time? During a rough month, or a single terrible afternoon? I dunno.

All I know is that if nothing ever happened to you that was bad enough to leave you traumatized, lucky you. And if something bad happened but you have survived it and/or processed it and made it to a place where you can tolerate unwanted touching and even find it no big deal, lucky you.

Anyone who didn't isn't oversensitive or weak or damaged or too goddamn fragile for the world. They're not "making it harder for people who suffered 'real' abuse" or "giving survivors a bad name" or any of that disgusting malarkey.

They're unlucky.

And shame on anyone who wants to make someone so horrendously unlucky feel bad because they can't shrug off attempts to harm them.

Which is something none of us should be expected to do, anyway.

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