Tuesday, 29 July 2014

You do not speak for me

     You do not speak for me, Professor Dawkins. You do not speak for me. Rape is rape. There are no sliding scales involved. One does not simply grade the levels of violence or threat involved to determine who has suffered most. There is no graph to determine the level of harm done.

     You do not speak for me, Professor Dawkins. You have no authority to determine my experience. You have no right to claim your belief is worth more than my knowledge. You offer your opinion, Professor Dawkins. I can offer to explain to you my life. Yet I know this is futile, as you will not listen to me. You will tell me I do not 'get it'.

     You do not speak for me, Professor Dawkins. I am a victim of rape. Shall I tell you this again? I was raped, Professor Dawkins. I shall not share with you the details. I was raped, like countless other women and girls. There was no knife. I was not threatened. I was physically harmed, but not beaten. There was no external bruising or blood. Does this mean it was not a serious rape, Professor Dawkins?

     You do not speak for me, Professor Dawkins. You cannot assert that your understanding of something you have no experience of somehow makes you better qualified to judge on the severity of rape. All rape is violence, Professor Dawkins. It is a violation, an attack, an act of destruction. It is not a theft. It is not ‘taking advantage’. It is violence, Professor Dawkins.

     You do not speak for me, Professor Dawkins. You betray how little you think of rape victims when you accuse us of ‘not getting it’. We do get it, Professor Dawkins. Our understanding of what rape is, how it changes us, how we live our lives afterwards. This may be simply word games, pedantry, semantics to you. You may take enjoyment in believing you are being clever. You may wish to elevate your supporters by praising them for ‘getting it’. You do not speak for me.


     You do not speak for me, Professor Dawkins.  There is nothing mild about rape, whatever the circumstances. One is not ‘merely’ raped by a partner, as opposed to ‘violently’ raped by a knife wielding stranger. In both situations, there is a rapist. In both situations, rape occurs. In the aftermath of rape, there is a victim. A victim who has to make sense of what has happened to her. Her experience is not to be plotted, graded, weighed up by you, or anyone else, Professor Dawkins. You do not speak for her. You do not speak for me.

33 comments:

Lottie Lomas said...

Powerful writing, as always. xxx

Nicola Miller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nicola Miller said...

Thank you.

Lucy Benedict said...

Nicola, I had to say something. We have a voice. Whether we whisper, stay silent, shout, or blog, we speak for ourselves. Dawkins does not speak for us.Hope you're ok x

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the blogger sorry. Totally support Dawkins

Lucy Benedict said...

Genuinely interested as to why you don't agree, and think that Dawkins is right?

Sam said...

What Dawkins said:

“Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think."

What Dawkins didn't say:

"I speak for all rape victims".

Which is what you say. 11 times.

I'm very sorry for your experience, but it doesn't mitigate the fact that you have misconstrued his comment and taken it out of context so that you are wrong and what Dawkins said is right.

Lucy Benedict said...

I don't think I've misconstrued anything. He said that one form of rape is worse than another. I disagree. It's an opinion, not a fact. Disagreeing doesn't make me wrong, or incapable of thought, as he said. And I do not claim to speak for all rape victims, only for myself. As the title & post suggest...

Anonymous said...

I don't read his tweet as saying you must be incapable of thought if you disagree with his view.

It is saying one is incapable of thought if you interpret his point to mean that he endorses/condones date rape.

I find it hard to understand that the ordeal of a date rape would be exactly the same as the ordeal suffered by women such as the woman in the bus attack in India who died from her injuries, so maybe I tend to agree with him.

Anonymous said...

"He said that one form of rape is worse than another."

But that wasn't the point he was making. He used it as a (bad) example:

“Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think."

OR

“X is bad. Y is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of X, go away and learn how to think."

The important bit is the last sentence.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with Dawkins. Why is there a need to quantify or qualify degrees of rape? Rape is rape.

Does it follow through with other crimes? Is it worse to be beaten up by a stranger or someone you are in a relationship with? It's dismissive and downplays the seriousness and the impact of the crime.

Heather said...

Saying that rape by a stranger is worse than rape by a trusted friend, a loved one, a date, someone you know shows a total lack of understanding of rape. I wonder if Prof Dawkins would feel worse to be raped by a stranger on the street, or by someone he trusted, had children with, and loved.

Sam said...



The more you post Lucy, the more Dawkins is proved right.

He might have made his point more clearly had he said, "One rape is bad, 2 rapes are worse..." but nevertheless, taken in context without misconstruction, his point was correct and clear.

Cheryl said...


I had not realised that it was some kind of competition and that one rape victim would feel not enough of a victim if someone else had a more harrowing or violent experience than they did. By saying someone else was raped more brutally or more violently than you does not reduce your experience, your right to claim victimhood, only in comparison and relatively speaking. I do not understand why it is so important to be thought of as such a big victim, the 'biggest' victim, or an equal victim. Victimhood is not something to wear like a badge and be proud of, you become a victim because of what someone did to you not because of anything YOU did. It is not your identity.

What matters more, surely, is what you do following bad experiences - whether this is rape or another kind of violent assault, perhaps one that leaves you with the inability to walk or see. Do you dwell in your victimhood, hugging your pain and your traumatic experience to you and holding it up for the world to see just how violated you have been? Or do you pick yourself up and stand tall, refuse to let the attacker get to the innermost part of yourself emotionally and psychologically even if they did so physically? Let's not encourage victims to wear their victimhood with grandeur. Let's encourage them to be survivors and strong, true women who can do anything they set their minds to. Hear us roar.

Lucy Benedict said...

Sam, why does he have to use rape to make the point? His comments were dangerous, dismissive, and belittling. And as I said before, it is his opinion. I disagree with him. That doesn't mean I am incorrect.

Lucy Benedict said...

Cheryl, without going into the details, I was very young when I was raped. It changed my childhood, my teenage years, my twenties. I don't view myself as a victim, wallow in it, or hold it up to the world, demanding attention or sympathy. I appreciate you probably haven't read any other pages of the blog beyond this one, but trust me, I'm not a victim :-)

delusionsofcandour said...

I am a survivor of multiple rapes. All were rapes; all affected me deeply. I do not consider whether one was worse than the others, or milder. I don't know any rape survivors who would categorise their experiences in such a way.

Richard Dawkins was trying to make a point about logic. Unfortunately he made the very ill-considered decision to use rape to illustrate that point. Had he apologised and withdrawn the tweet, that would have been the end of the matter. Instead he chose to persist in belittling and insulting rape survivors, perpetuating rape myths and generally behaving as though his was the only opinion that mattered.

I used to admire Dawkins, back in the days when he spoke about evolutionary biology instead of being an academic version of Katie Hopkins. But these days he has become an arrogant caricature of his former self, seemingly only interested in browbeating those with the temerity to disagree with him.

I am a rape survivor and despite my atheism, Richard Dawkins does not speak for me.

Anonymous said...

Lucy, that's your choice to view your own personal experience that way, but please don't say those who do share it or "hold it up to the world" are doing it for sympathy and attention.

Lucy Benedict said...

Sorry, I expressed that badly - I'd encourage anyone to talk about their experiences for whatever reason they choose, and to get support. I was responding to the idea that by writing about it I'm wallowing in victimhood. I think the opposite :-)

starkinsanity said...

Thank you! Thank you for expressing what I wanted to say. I have referenced you in my latest blog post, because what you said was true. x

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Professor Dawkins has shown that he knows nothing about rape, or women, or theft, or anything much really.

Why do men who want to do a devil's advocate type thing always feel the need to use the violation of women and girls to do it?

Sam said...

"Why do men who want to do a devil's advocate type thing always feel the need to use the violation of women and girls to do it?" In a thread about people generalising about other people, and lacking basic understanding of logical argument, I think you just won the prize for most counter-serving post. Well done.

Anonymous said...

I thought when I heard about this comment, I was going to broadly agree, but looking at the wording of what he said, I don't really think the first part of his comment was explained fully enough. I don't agree with what Richard Dawkins said, because while he is correct that saying that is not condoning date rape, he needed to acknowledge that he can't know everyone's subjective experience. There may, I do not know, be a majority who find violent stranger rape more traumatic, but there will surely be exceptions depending on other circumstances and the individual victims. And it is important not to make any victims feel their reaction is wrong, or to feel more misunderstood. The victim's trauma can vary for many reasons, he can't predict it. Also he needed to emphasise again that all rape is rape. Perhaps he did, I have not seen the context. I think if he was going to talk about rape, he needed to do it with a great deal more sensitivity.

I hope I will not offend by saying, putting my ignorance on the table as I do so, that most women who have not been raped would probably - if they to make a choice, rather face date rape than stranger rape at knifepoint. But that doesn't mean that they would be correct in predicting their trauma afterwards.

Sorry his comment upset you. I know how horrible it is when someone tramples over an issue you know at first hand.

Lucy Benedict said...

Sam, you've made your point. I disagree. So do others. You continuing to insult people who don't agree with you rather neatly illustrates my argument that no one else speaks for me. I've tried to be polite, but I'd kindly request that you bugger off now. You have your opinion. I have mine. Your comments won't change my opinion, and clearly nothing I say will change yours.

Lucy Benedict said...

Anonymous, you've got it right. No one can predict or understand their reaction. So to be told that what happened to you is better/worse is dismissive, hurtful and wrong. Dawkins was deliberately controversial. And compounded it by dismissing his critics as stupid. There are better/worse things. saying so doesn't mean you endorse the less worst things. But using rape as an example was nasty.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, Lucy I am sorry that a terrible crime was committed against you. Prof. Dawkins' statement I think does, however, contain a pearl of truth. As a woman, I can readily imagine how traumatic it would be to be raped. By anyone in any circumstance. I've never been raped but very nearly was once, and managed to talk my way out of it. I was scared witless. This was a man I worked with and had to continue to work with at least for a few weeks. I do think though that it would add to the trauma to be injured as well. While date rape is, as well as being a complete violation of the person and of trust in that person, which is traumatic in itself, I have to think that having horrific injuries as well would have to make it worse, surely? Anyway, Prof. Dawkins seems to be a bit prone to making statements like this on twitter. Flippant, dismissive sounding and designed to stir up controversy, trading on the pain of others to get a reaction. Relevance deprivation syndrome?

Anonymous said...

While the logical point Mr Dawkins was apparently trying to make may be sound (saying that one thing is worse than another does not mean you are condoning the lesser evil), the way he made it was appalling. Firstly, what good comes from trying to rank people's suffering? Secondly, a breach of trust is a terrible trauma and its impact should never be underestimated. Though it was doubtless unintentional, Mr Dawkins has contributed to a cultural belittling of women. Surely the decent thing to do would be to apologise?

Jan said...

1. I don't understand why anyone is talking about date rape as if it would necessarily result in fewer injuries than stranger rape. The two names are descriptions of the context of the attack, not the intensity of it.

2. I don't understand why anyone is talking about being a victim as if being one says anything about the person who has been victimised. I am a victim and I don't care who knows it. If other people want to identify differently I'll support them in that, but the only reason there would be any negative connotations to the word "victim" would be victim-blaming, so I'd rather disparagement of the term wasn't going on. See: http://thecurvature.com/2008/12/13/why-is-victim-a-dirty-word/

After a lifetime of being told to shut up and stay strong, "victim" allows me my vulnerability, my emotions, my "weakness", and that means the world.

Anonymous said...

Every experience is real whatever the attack and has the potential to leave great scars upon a person. We cannot quantify our experiences with one another because we cannot feel the enormity of the physical and emotional impact of someone else's experiences.
All I can presume is what Dawkins was trying to suggest is that with logical reasoning it might be correct to think that an attack involving many factors will be harder to overcome than that involving one factor - I don't want to get graphic or upset anyone by giving examples but hope you understand my point. Rape is rape, pain is pain, and the way we all deal and recover from the impact of those is very different. There are many psychological factors to consider here and I'm not sure it's helpful to try and label experiences on a scale. As someone who has not experienced rape I cannot know the lasting effects, but I can in theory and thought, when playing out various horrific scenarios in my mind come to the conclusion that one maybe 'worse' than another - that is not to say it is. Falling down a curb may seem less severe than falling off a wall, yet both will leave the victim hurt. Who recovers from their fall first, and who receives the worst injuries isn't the point, each needs care and attention for recovery. You could assume in theory that a higher fall could inflict worse injuries but I am sure that there are people who have broken an ankle falling down a curb, and those who have fallen off a wall and jumped right back up.
There have been times in my life when I have judged and compared myself to others and it hasn't been helpful. It isn't fair to myself or the other person.
I wish you all well.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lucy. This is your older version. I just want to give you a big hug and wrap you in love and cotton wool. You are truly amazing and your blog is incredibly powerful. Stay strong. Don't let the buggers get to you. They are sexually and emotionally inadequate. Love to you x

Lucy Benedict said...

Hello older version. I'll be ok, I'm a twatty blogger. Kicking arse comes as standard ;-)

And thank you.Your words mean a lot to me x

Anonymous said...

Thank you for you lovely comment, Lucy. No, you don't know me. I have reached the age when I have become faceless, anonymous. You would pass me in the street and not give me a second glance. I only know you through your blog and find you a truly amazing, strong woman. Incredibly articulate. You obviously have a large number of people who care for you. When you are having a shitty day think of them all wrapping you in love and cotton wool, and the warm feeling it will bring. Love to you. Your other version, the elderly one. Xx

Malcontent mother said...

Great post, I am really shocked at some of the comments and really don't think they have heard what you are saying. And how the hell is it 'better' to be raped by someone you know and trust than a stranger? How is it less traumatic to feel unsafe in your own home? Ridiculous man. I knew I never liked him! Keep kicking ass!