“Rape, but no rapists” – Harding

“We live in a country full of racism, but no racists; rape, but no rapists. And the common denominator is power. To believe a rape survivor’s word over that of her male classmate, colleague, teacher, or superior officer is to upset the natural order of things, privileging the voice with less cultural authority over the one we expect to have all the answers.” – Kate Harding in Dame


This is a great essay, definitely worth a read if you’re interested in discourse around sexual violence.

I’ve been reading one of Sue William Silverman’s memoirs, Because I Remember Terror, Father, I remember you, about growing up experiencing incest. Silverman talks implicitly about how she can not name the violence she’s experiencing, even to herself. Furthermore, her mother doesn’t label it. Is it any wonder that if sexual violence shocks the consciousness so much that it’s so difficult to face head on that wild intellectual gymnastics such as those described in the quote ensue?

Also on my mind are the words we use for violence, and those who perpetuate it. For instance, the phrase, “my abuser” or “my abuse” as shorthand spoken by people who’ve experienced violence. I feel like those constructions draw the emphasis away from criminal acts by dangerous people and onto the victim[1].

  1. For more on language around victim and survivor see Who benefits from believing in the fixable?  ↩


Alison Bergblom Johnson

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