Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Class and Sexual Assault (Shorter Rant)

Cathy Young's piece for the Daily Beast has been summarily condemned by the feminist blog world, and I have no desire to join the fray, but this stood out to me:
But, aside from the fact that the study is filled with radical feminist jargon and tendentious interpretations, what it found was that girls—primarily from troubled lower-class backgrounds—tend to shrug off minor sexual harassment like being touched on the butt, not violent rape.
It's not clear whether this is supposed to be patronizing or not, but it has been my experience.  I grew up with the notion that it's best to handle your own shit because the system can't handle it for you, and that I wasn't someone in need of protection in the first place. Maybe not in so many words, but it's definitely the perception I had growing up, and I didn't come from a particularly troubled background. (And I want to make perfectly clear I'm talking about minor assault, not rape.) Bad feminism, right?  But I feel it's more important that women define their experiences however they see fit, even when it goes against everything mainstream feminism says is correct. I wouldn't urge someone to call something assault when they didn't feel that it was assault.

This is why I don't write about my own life much anymore. There's the expectation that some experiences are, if not universal, then common enough to be incorporated into the tank of feminist knowledge, and when yours are pretty far from average the temptation is to rewrite your own narrative, which, for a long time is what I tried to do. The alternative is to decry the accepted narrative as false or incomplete and be accused of signaling to the wrong crowd or worse, denounced as an apostate.