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« A Real Campus Rape, Part One | Main | More Gyro »

March 24, 2008

A Real Campus Rape, Part Two

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Yesterday I introduced “Hannah,” a professional woman who, as a college coed in the 1970s, was the victim of a stranger-rape. In that installment of our two-part interview with her, Hannah told us about the rape and the investigation.

Today, in Part Two, Hannah takes us through the trial, ventures some reflections, and fields a lot of questions from me about distinctions between different kinds of bad sex. A warning: In this part of the interview I talk too much. Apologies in advance for that. Luckily, Hannah handles my garrulousness with grace.

***

2Blowhards: Tell me about the actual trial.

Hannah: The county prosecutor was young, energetic, humorous, and easy to work with. He met with me once, and called me several times to prepare the case. Preparation consisted of him telling me the questions he would ask me on the stand, and me replying. He told me what the courtroom would look like, who would be sitting where. We probably spent a total of 2 hours on prep.

The jury was a mix of race and sex. All of them seemed my parents' age or older. I wore what was for me a dressy outfit: woolen slacks, sweater, and scarf. When it came time for my testimony, I was sworn in and the prosecutor started asking me to describe what happened on the night of whatever it was. This was different from grand jury in that I had to describe what happened, and he couldn't ask leading questions.

Was your rapist present?

At the end of my testimony, the prosecutor asked me to look around the courtroom and see if I could identify my attacker anywhere. He had told me beforehand where Albert, my rapist, would be sitting, but I had no problem spotting Albert and pointing to him. I didn't make eye contact with Albert at anytime, and I tried to pretend in my mind that he wasn't there.

We broke for lunch, and Winnie, Ryan, and I went to a nearby coffeehouse. We didn't stay, though, because Albert's family was in there eating. We went somewhere else.

Did the defense attorney then have at you?

Yes. After lunch I was cross-examined. I remember the defense attorney as a sleazy, short, fat, gray-haired man, sloppy-looking. I'm not sure if this was accurate, or if it's me demonizing him.

He asked me to repeat things from my testimony over and over. He tried to catch me up on questions, for the most part unsuccessfully. One thing I did blow. He asked me if Albert had helped me up, and I said no. He then had them put something in as an exhibit, and showed me a copy of my written statement from the police station where I said that Albert had helped me up. He asked me how I explained the discrepancy, and I said it had been a year and a half, and I had forgotten that detail.

He tried to trip me up on a bunch more questions on details, and I said I couldn't remember on a lot more of them.

How hard was it to go through that?

It was very stressful, and it felt very adversarial. I started crying at one point, more in frustration than anything else. The judge called a recess, and I was whisked away to a witness waiting room in the hall.

The prosecutor came in and told me he was very happy about how things were going. When I apologized for crying he laughed and said it was the best thing I could have done.

My testimony finished up shortly after that, and I sat in the waiting room again, while Winnie testified. Then we went home.

How long and elaborate a trial was it?

The trial took 3 days total. There were about a dozen witnesses -- me, Winnie, the policemen, the infirmary doctor. And Albert too, as well as a bunch of character witnesses for him. The local newspaper reported on the case in a fair amount of detail.

The jury deliberation was between one and two hours, and they found him guilty. The prosecutor and his investigator came to campus to see me to shake my hand, and thank me for my assistance, etc.

How did your life go after the trial? Was the rape much on your mind?

I got engaged to Ryan 2 months after the trial. Our senior year, we had adjacent singles in an up-campus dorm. I have never lived alone since then.

Once I got out of college and started working, I rarely thought about or talked about the rape. Our wedding was in the garden where I'd been raped, and I never even thought of the rape taking place only yards away. I basically put it away, and that was that.

Did it never come back to haunt you?

Shortly after our son was born, I started seeing a counselor, for a variety of different reasons unrelated to the rape. I had 4-5 sessions, during which I talked some with the counselor about the rape, and he felt I really had worked through the issues.

What became of Albert, your rapist?

I didn't try to find out what Albert's sentence was until years after. At the time of the OJ trial, my office was a couple of doors away from the company's customer service group. They were watching / listening to the verdict, and they started cheering when he was found innocent. I was shocked -- OJ's guilt seemed so obvious to me.

And this triggered a lot of memories for me. I started wondering what the rape trial would have been like if it took place in 1997 instead of 1976. In 1976 they never grilled me on my prior sexual experience. They never went after my character.

I wondered if the young black women who were cheering OJ's exoneration would have felt that Albert had been unfairly convicted.

Anyway, as a consequence of this I called the county prosecutor's office. Someone from a victim support group told me that Albert's sentence had been seven to ten years. She couldn't tell me how long he had served, and she said that they had nothing further on him in the system, so he had not committed any crimes since. I was glad about that.

How intense was your animosity towards him?

It's strange and funny to me. I never hated the guy. I was scared of him, but once he was convicted, I was done with him as a person. This is probably going to sound just too bleeding-heart-liberal for you to stand, but now I kind of feel sorry for him. I'm glad he was able to do enough with his life that he stayed out of jail.

By the way, I'm a humanist agnostic, so my feeling sorry for him has nothing to do with any religious doctrine.

Did you ever experience any guilt or self-recriminations about your rape?

From the day after, I recognized that my rape was solely a result of my being in the wrong place at the wrong time. There were so many ways that the outcome could have been different. If I hadn't seen a poster about a midnight concert. If the university had scheduled a security guard during freshman week, instead of after. If something different had happened in Albert's life so that he wasn't in the garden.

It was random and I accepted that.

That sounds amazingly clear-headed.

I was pretty much of the "shit happens" school of thought. But I resented that in my case it really didn't have to happen, and I wasn't above moaning about "Why me?" I was angry, but I transferred most of the anger to the college rather than the rapist. How could my idyllic, wonderful college, "in loco parentis" as they were so fond of saying, let this happen to me? If they thought the garden was an unsafe enough place while classes were in session, why wasn't it unsafe during freshman week?

How did your ego do?

My self-confidence, which was never very high, was shaken. I had thought I could take care of myself and defend myself, and it turned out I couldn't. I was more afraid of being overpowered physically than sexually. It was about the loss of control. They say that rape isn't about sex but about power and control, and that's how it primarily felt to me.

How about the rape's impact on your sex life?

As I told you, my first act of sex after the rape was with my ex-boyfriend. And that was so screwed up on so many levels that I'm not going to even try to figure out which of the strangeness was due to the rape.

The next time was with Ryan, who I had dated before. He was kind and we knew each other. Yet I still felt some panic going back to his room. But once again the panic was of the irrational "he's going to hurt me" kind, rather than sexual fear (although the movie we had just watched probably didn't help -- "Psycho"!). Once we got to his room, though, I was okay. Sex was good, life was good.

I don't think I ever again had any sexual hang-ups resulting from the rape.

And that was it?

No, I definitely let my emotional / security reactions affect my behavior. Instead of continuing to be young, free, and adventurous, I got engaged.

Your rapist was a black guy. Were your feelings about black people affected in any way?

I grew up in a white town, mostly Irish and Italian, without a lot of exposure to blacks. At college, I thought our 3-black-girl / 2-Jewish-girl suite was kind of cool. I was rather taken aback that some of my suitemates' black friends didn't like their eating with white girls. It seemed strange to me.

After the rape, well ... I'm not proud to say that it took six or seven years before I was comfortable with young black males. It wasn't until my third job, when I was managing a repair service center in Newark, NJ, that I got rid of any residual bias. I was working with a lot of black people, and I grew a lot in that job. So now I'm down to just having biases against neo-cons, proselytizing Christians, vegans (well, at least the militant ones), and people who watch "American Idol." And who's to say all of these are irrational?

In terms of conveying to other people what it's like to go through an experience like this: Which movie and or scenes or book scenes do a good job of evoking what the experience is like?

You know, until you asked this, I didn't remember there's another long-term effect of the rape. I really can't stand watching movie or television rape scenes, to the point of feeling queasy. "Law and Order: Criminal Intent" is okay, "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" is not so good. I remember accidentally watching an "SVU" scene where Kim Cattrall is raped in a subway car. It totally freaked me out, and my husband had to turn it off. It was just too graphic for me.

I can read about rapes in books, and that doesn't bother me. I don't consciously avoid them, but I can't think of any books I've read where I say "oh yeah, that's just what it was like." I've definitely found the opposite though, books where it’s totally unrealistic. I gotta admit, I get really pissed with stories of stranger rape where the girl winds up falling in love with her rapist. C'mon, already!

How has the rape affected how you've raised your son?

We've raised him to care about all people and to be respectful. He's really learned to value the worth of each individual, and to express this. He's always had both male and female friends. As part of his Sunday School, he went through a class, originally developed by the Unitarians, called "Our Whole Lives." This dealt with hetero- and homosexuality, relationships, AIDS, pregnancy, birth control, abortion, rape, you name it. I haven't discussed the rape with him, although I'm not adverse to the idea.

What was the importance of the rape in your own life?

That's tough to answer. It's part of what has made me who I am, so that's significant. But even if I say the rape was responsible for my marriage (and I know that's too simplistic), I had figured that out after awhile, and it didn’t change my marriage.

So, in other words: it happened, it influenced many of my earlier actions, none of them irrevocably, and starting some point about 5-10 years later, it had no influence at all. A patch of unpleasantness is understating it, but life-transforming is vastly overstating it. On a scale of 1-10 in terms of significance, maybe a 4 or 5. With marriage being an 8 or 9, and having a child a 10.

Does the rape rank as one of your major traumas from your college years?

Yes, it was a major trauma. But in terms of things I wish I had done differently ... Well, I wish I had been better prepared academically. I wish I had better study habits before I got there. I wish I had chosen a different major. I wish I had taken more courses from some of the professors in other departments I never tried. Those are the things I most regret. Looking back, walking in the garden that night doesn't rank with the most regretted.

On to the general questions. What do you make of '80s and post-'80s feminism?

Hey, all those women's studies majors have to do something to justify their degrees. So they publish papers, and they do junk-science research projects, and they get funded and claim ridiculous rape statistics. And in the meantime, the real and pervasive discrimination against women that exists in many businesses lessens only marginally each year.

How did you react when the fuss about date-rape started up in the '90s?

Even thirty years ago, there was a trend to push stranger-rape, date-rape, and drunk-and-regretted- it-the-next-morning-sex all into the same bucket. I found it offensive then. I felt like it trivialized the trauma of rape. Hey, I'd done drunk-and-regretted-it-sex and I'd been stranger-raped, and damn it, there was a big difference.

Now, I find it not so much offensive as scary. I think that comes from my change in perspective. Now I'm mother to a boy who is older than I was when I first had sex. He'll go off to school in a year and a half, and be adventurous, and hook-up a few dozen times. And I don't want him to fall victim to a drunken proto-feminist who then claims rape.

Has the rape affected your feelings about porn, or about the sexualization of pop culture?

So far as porn goes, it hasn't really affected my feelings at all. I've always been of the "what two consenting adults do" school of thought. I've been against child porn; the rape didn't cause that.

As for the sexualization of pop culture generally, my biggest complaint is that we don't let kids be kids. The sexual objectification of 12 and 13 year olds is pretty sick, yet that's what society does. A lot of that started with Madonna. Little girls wanted to dress like her during the "Like a Virgin" tour how long ago? 1984? 1985? But I'm not a big follower of pop culture, so I'm probably oblivious to a lot of things that would infuriate me. My impression is that young adults are less casual about sex than when we were young. They have too many concerns about STDs and AIDs. I think young teens are more casual. It sure wasn't the norm for 13 year olds to be sexually active when I was in school.

But overall, our society is still so hung up about sex. Janet Jackson bares a breast and the country freaks. Eliot Spitzer pays for a prostitute and people freak. Okay, he did make a career out of prosecuting everyone and anyone, but still, why is prostitution illegal in the first place?

Did the rape have any political effects on you? Did it turn you into a radical? Into a law and order freak?

Not really. Seeing George W. Bush become president did more to turn me into an activist than the rape.

Can I try out a couple of my own rants on you?

Sure.

First one: People need to understand that boys don't pop out of the womb with the skills of great lovers. When a freshman girl has sex with a freshman boy, he's often just as fumbly and inexperienced and stupid as she is.

In my ideal universe, all 15 year old boys would be introduced into sex for a good year by experienced 40 year old women. They'd get a chance to make mistakes with someone who isn't going to freak out on them (who might even enjoy their energy and silliness), and come away from it with some skills and some poise. Then they could be set loose among girls their own age. Agree? Disagree?

YES. Maybe. Hmmm.

Okay, at first it sounds great. I'm unliberated enough that the idea of being 16 and being seduced by an experienced but sensitive lover is a great romantic fantasy. But then I'm thinking, what about the 15-16 year old girl getting a chance to learn about sex with an experienced 30-40 year old man? Ummmm, I don't think so, too much of an ick factor. I remember even a 10 year age difference seemed huge to me as a teen.

So are males and females so very different that what would be wrong for a girl could be right for the boy? Would I want a 40 year old woman taking my son in hand, right now, and start teaching him about sex? Um, maybe. If she was the right woman. (I just nearly wrote if I could pick her out. Oh god, how overprotective does THAT sound?) So I'm left with, yeah, ideally, that would be a great solution, but only with the right people and circumstances.

Here's another: the "no means no" thing. The claim is that a woman has the right at any instant during sex to decide that's it, she's had it, he has to stop. My feeling about this: Maybe it's true, but it's a right that (especially once a couple is deep into sex) ought to be exercised rarely and only in extreme cases. Good lord, people do build up a big head of steam during an evening of dancing, flirtation, making-out, petting, oral, etc ... That kind of momentum needs to be respected.

Also: Good lord, I've had girlfriends who liked to say "no" during sex. One girl I remember, for instance, had a habit of saying "no" during sex while pulling me deeper inside her, and at the same time pushing on my chest as though to force me away. This combo of push-pull-pushing seemed to help her get off, and she certainly never complained about it or rebuked me afterward. One older-than-Boomer woman once muttered to me when she was listening disbelievingly to some of the "no means no" arguments, "But what if a woman wants to say no and run away and be pursued and overwhelmed? What if that's what she's into?"

I think I pretty much agree with you all the way on this. Nothing to add.

As someone who has had a more adventurous sex life than most people have, how do you distinguish between various kinds of bad sex? It seems to me that people these days are much too quick to judge and condemn what's often in fact just cloddishness or misbehavior, or just a misfire. But then there's also genuine violent and unwanted sex. Anyway, how do you separate these gradations out?

Me, more adventurous than most? Really? I read about 20-something and 30-somethings today, and I feel like my sex life is / was rather tame. And I was lucky to be most active in the post-pill, pre-AIDS window. It made spontaneity much easier.

When you talk about bad sex, I'd make a distinction between bad, as in "it just physically wasn't what it could have been," and bad, as in "I wish it never happened." Call it A) unpleasant bad sex and B) regretted bad sex. Then add rape as C).

OK, drunk-and-regretted-it sex -- that's a B. Unpleasant sex -- that's an A. Misunderstanding sex -- probably an A but maybe a B, depending on circumstances. Plain lousy sex -- that's an A. Forced sex with someone you know is a C, assuming this is truly forced, and not a game. Date rape is a C -- but again, definitions and assumptions play a part. If the girl was drunk and / or goes to his room and gets naked, it's not date-rape. Rape-rape of course is a C.

Do the As and Bs have much in common with the Cs?

I can say that regretted and bad sex have little in common with rape, at least in my experience. There's a sense of shame about both, and that's it. Regretted or bad sex -- okay, you did something dumb, you get over it in a day, a week, you're a little smarter next time (hopefully). So that's my take. Another woman could look at it a lot differently. And she might be right too.

There needs to be some generally agreed upon norms. For instance: "No doesn't mean no if your actions directly contradict what you're saying." But guys have to be real careful about the "she asked for it" defense. Sharing drinks or dancing with someone isn't asking for it. But as far as I'm concerned, getting naked and giving someone head definitely is asking for it.

What's the line between a guy being "a little pushy" and "forcing"? Often boys want sex urgently, god knows, and often girls like being seduced (or urged) into it. So to some extent a guy has to be somewhat pushy. Still, a guy also has to know how to take a hint and when to quit. How forgiving should women be about this? And when do lawyers and Deans of Student Affairs need to be called in?

One obvious difference between "pushy" and "forcing" is when actual physical strength or force is used. Physical force -- not acceptable (or, for the BDSM crowd, only when clearly agreed to in advance). Seducing or urging is fine. A guy can be as verbally pushy as he wants. If he doesn't recognize when to quit, or he becomes too big a pain, he'll get slapped down. If he becomes seriously repetitious over time -- somewhere on the continuum from harassment to stalking -- then you're looking at lawyers and Deans. But for something less than that, I'd call it part of the normal socialization process.

Here's a yarn I’m curious about your response to: A woman I know told me about an incident from her college years. She was a freshman and landed a date with a star athlete who was an upperclassman. They danced, they drank ... He drove them into the woods ... They smooched romantically ... And then he told her that she had to blow him or she'd be walking back to town. Classless pig behavior, obviously. But is it also rape? What best to do in such a situation? Perhaps she should have gone to the cops? Maybe she should just have told everyone she knew about it and thereby disgraced the jerk informally?

This was coerced sex, which is rape or damn close to it. But it’s also the kind that is virtually impossible to prosecute. Looking at it closely, I don't know some important details. She had the option of walking back to town -- but was it a real option? Was it a two mile walk or a ten mile walk? Would she be walking through unsafe areas, so that it was trade-off between unwanted sex with her date and a possible rape by a stranger? How well did she know the guy beforehand? Did he have a reputation of being a "player"? Was he hitting on freshmen because they hadn't been around long enough to learn about him? Depending on how long ago or how recently this happened, if she went to the cops, she would be exposing herself irrevocably to having her entire life scrutinized. Of course, telling everyone she knew about it would have some of the same effect. I think that's what I would have done, though.

Let’s keep sorting out the differences and similarities. What's categorically different about traditional stranger rape? My hunch: Beyond all matters of personal boundaries and tenderness and intimacy and all, important as they are, there's also in stranger rape the possibility of actual physical harm. I mean, you were in ACTUAL FEAR OF YOUR LIFE during your rape. To my knowledge, most bad sex results in nothing more than hurt feelings. What are your thoughts?

Stranger rape is traumatic, frightening, and physically violent. It’s a violation not just of your body, but of your personal sense of safety and security. You are in fear for your life. You don't know what this stranger is thinking, what he's going to do. I was very lucky. Although I was scraped and bruised, I have no physical scars from the rape. I don't have statistics to back this up, but that may not be typical.

The infirmary doc at my college wanted to put me in touch with another rape victim on campus, but the other girl wasn't interested. The doctor told me the other girl had a pretty bad knife scar from her attack. I can imagine how much harder that would have been to live with.

In your opinion, does date-rape deserve to be put in the same class as traditional or stranger rape?

Depending on the degree of coercion, yeah, it should be in the same class as stranger rape.

How about bad sex or regretted sex? In the same category?

I've had the bad sex and drunk-and-regretted-it (or just plain regretted-it) sex, and stranger rape. There’s NO comparison between stranger rape and bad or regretted sex.

What would be an example of drunk-and-regretted-it sex that you’ve had?

I was going to a concert freshman year, and was supposed to go with a friend from off-campus. At the last minute he couldn't make it. I wound up giving the extra ticket to a roommate's boyfriend's roommate. I knew him slightly. I went back to his room after the concert for a drink. He came on strong, and one thing led to another.

It was a major disappointment. He cared only for himself, I couldn't wait to leave. I knew I had been stupid to go there in the first place -- I didn't even like the guy, for heaven's sakes. We were drinking Black Russians, heavy on the vodka. I was drunk, but certainly not to blackout.

How about just plain bad sex?

Bad sex? For me, that’s anytime I was going through the motions, because for some reason I felt obligated, but wasn't enjoying it. It has happened more than once, with more than one person. Regretted sex can be a big deal if you're into punishing yourself for making mistakes. For me, it was always just one more learning experience. You regret it, you learn from it, you move on.

If you had the chance to address a group of young women who believe that drunk-and-regretted-it sex belongs in the same category as stranger-rape, what would you say to them? How would you get your point across to them?

Wow, tough one. I'd want to slap them (at least metaphorically). I’d start by describing my rape and the violence and fear that goes with stranger rape. Then I'd have to appeal to their common sense and say, look, life is full of risk-and-reward scenarios. When you go to a bar or a party to drink and meet guys, the drunker you get, the more risks you're taking. Risky behavior doesn't just mean not using a condom. It also means getting drunk, without making sure ahead of time that you have a friend who's going to stay sober enough to make sure you go home alone, if that's your goal. If you get drunk and go off with a guy, you had better be aware that's a high risk behavior. And you better be sure you can handle the potential consequences.


***

Many thanks once again to Hannah for her frankness, her brains, and her time. Hannah tells me that she'll drop by the blog and respond to questions and comments, if you have any that you'd like to leave.

Best,

Michael

posted by Michael at March 24, 2008




Comments

Once again, an excellent account, and once again, thanks for sharing.

Did you ever consider a lawsuit against the college, for failing to provide adequate security?

Posted by: Peter on March 25, 2008 11:31 AM



It's good to know there was a conviction. Since this happened in the 1970s, I was waiting for the outcome to be something disastrous. Part of the reason, I believe, the definition of rape was broadened was as a reaction to the way it wasn't aggressively prosecuted pre-1970. Actually, my mother told me that, but I think she's right.

Finally, I want to say that the Internet has unmasked what I like to call the soft lies of the media. Those lies have to do with race and crime stats. Go to the FBI's Web site, at this link: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/race.htm There you will find that while the media did tout the "black on black" statistic, they conveniently left out the fact that blacks -- by far -- attack whites then the reverse.

So, although I appreciate the way you've raised you kid, Hannah, statistics do bear out that if he is going to deal with the world, he'll be more likely to be the victim of a crime (including rape, by the way) if he is around blacks.

It's not my job to figure out WHY this is. But as a step-parent, I did think it my job to realistically explain this to my kid. There is a difference between wanton prejudice (hating the black honors student) and realistic assessment of races (ie you can't walk through a black neighborhood at night if you're white).

What's changing is that with one mouse click I could find government stats. It's a shame Hanna couldn't in 1974. Because if she could have, she might have known to run as soon as she saw a black man in a secluded spot at night. That's not be being prejudiced, people. That's statistics. Deal with it.

I'm Italian-American and will admit we did, in fact, bring organized crime to the US. Much of the prejudice WAS justified. Some of it STILL is. I wish others would realistically look at their ugly horrors of their people.

Posted by: Days of Broken Arrows on March 25, 2008 12:25 PM



Hannah, if you could, could you talk a little more about Bruce, your ex-boyfriend.

I am curious about the possible savior-complex behavior he exhibited after your rape. I am not condoning his actions, but I thought it was fascinating that this ex-boyfriend would look to "normalize" sex for you after the rape - or, at least, attempt to.

Or, maybe he was trying that at all. That is why I am asking.

Thanks so much for speaking about this.

Posted by: Ian Lewis on March 25, 2008 12:32 PM



So now let's ask Hannah whether she felt this interview was voluntary, coerced by friendship, entered into voluntarily but regretted later -- I assume she wasn't drunk or naive.

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on March 25, 2008 12:51 PM



Peter, thanks for your comments. Life was less litigious then. We never even thought of suing the school. The trial took place my junior year, and I had a project due that same week. I asked for and received a 2 week extension, and felt guilty about it, like I was taking advantage of my situation. I gave up my "privileged" parking place after that first year too. I still loved the school, even if I had less than kind feelings for the administration.

IanL - ah, the ex-boyfriend. I carry much more rancor for him than the rapist, interestingly, and rather unfairly. When he stopped by to see how I was doing after our breakup and I hit him with the story of my rape, I know I was piling on the guilt, and I wasn't sorry. I was blaming him a bit - if he hadn't dumped me, I wouldn't have been walking by myself. I stupidly thought he had second thoughts about continuing our relationship when he came back and initiated sex. To find out immediately after that he was playing doctor was humiliating and hurtful. I'm sure his motivation was to alleviate his guilt feelings. The only reason we asked him to drive us to the grand jury proceeding was that the battery in my car was dead and we couldn't find another ride to get there in time.

Days of BA, I think that I was the first girl to walk through the garden by herself, after the rapist was positioned. I believe that had I been a black girl, I would still have been raped. Hell, part of the reason I didn't go to school in NYC was because I knew about the statistics. I knew not to ride the subway alone at night, I knew not to walk in Morningside Park (or even Central Park, then). I was conditioned to believe that campus was a safe place.

Prairie Mary, the story of your almost rape resonated. Thanks for the vivid word pictures (love the yellow slicker).
My motivations in doing this interview were many and varied, and I have no regrets. To everyone who complimented the straight-forward narrative, that's thanks to MichaelB - I am in awe of how he crafted a clear and cohesive interview out of the mish-mash of answers I sent him.

Posted by: Hannah on March 25, 2008 1:58 PM



Hello Michael,

A question: Did you have this two part series in mind when you wrote the posting about the absurd pseudo rape?

The justice system worked for Hannah, even back in the Dark Ages. Nobody discounted the seriousness of the crime. Nobody tried to blame it on her. Her male friends may have been clumsy or stupid in their responses, but they were trying to be sympathetic and helpful in the way that they thought best.

This is only one case, and you can't build an entire worldview around it, but it does support my view that the rape controversy that grew up after the publication of Against Our Will was pretty much fabricated. In the same way, the sexual and physical abuse controversies were pretty much ginned up hysterias.

Myrna refused to focus on her brutalized past. She wanted only to focus on the here and now, and she believed that continuing to act and to work hard took care of most things. I try not to focus very much on that part of her life, because that was what she wanted. I started out wanting to play out the feminist script, and she was quite determined that I stop.

Oddly, I was a pretty standard leftist feminist before Myrna came along. She would have none of it.

Particularly in Woodstock, Myrna had no sympathy with feminist women. Woodstock has more than a few of these women who have virtually made a career out of their victimization. Often, it seemed to Myrna (and me) that they really were making most or all of it up to be fashionable.

You probably don't know this, but feminist women gravitate to a pretty Filipina like a moth to the flame. First, many of them are bi or lesbian. Second, they know the violent and tragic history of the Philippines. So, it was not at all unusual for one of these women to sit down uninvited while we were eating at a local cafe, and commence trying to recruit Myrna into their cause. They commonly employed one or both of these tactics: (1) They would tell Myrna that men were all sodden, violent bastards, or (2) they would suggest that white hetero men were the cause of all the political and social problems of the world.

Myrna loathed these women and usually told them to go fuck themselves. I wish she'd been a bit gentler but she hated the way they marinated in their victimhood, and she absolutely loathed the way they talked about men. The part of Philippine history these women missed was that the men suffered every bit as much in that history of violence and warfare as the women suffered.

I was trying to make this point yesterday. Myrna was much more articulate on this issue. Feminist women tend to focus exclusively on the sexual victimization of Filipino women. Myrna saw the suffering, torture and warfare that the men endured, and she thought that that was every bit as important. Overall, she thought that westerners were incredibly soft and self-indulgent. She had absolutely no use for the world savers and crusaders and basically considered them idiots and nuisances.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on March 25, 2008 5:52 PM



Firstly Hannah; once again thanks for sharing your story. Powerful stuff.

Hannah, I know that this is all hypothetical but how do you think you would have reacted if:

a) The rapist had not been caught?
b) The jury had acquitted him?
c) The judge had given him a lenient sentence?

I am also perplexed as to why you felt ashamed after the rape.

.....didn't know it at the time, but I very much needed to hear that it wasn't my fault, that I was still a good person

From my perspective, I see nothing for you to be ashamed about. Why did you think you were a bad person? (Feel free to decline the question.)

Do you think proto-Feminists who claim rape--after regretful sex--should be punished? Imagine if your son was put in that position.

Thanks for sharing your story once again. You're cool.

Michael: One of the best blogs ever.


Posted by: Slumlord on March 25, 2008 6:12 PM



I just reread something from the first post that I'd missed. It's pretty bewildering.

Hannah's rapist acted afterwards like this was almost a normal thing. Could it be that on some level, this type of aggression is acceptible in the black community? I remember reading "Manchild in the Promised Land" and being surprised at the way sex and violence was intertwined. I wonder if "rape" has a different definition in the black community, and Albert's thinking Hannah would befriend him afterwards is because of that.

I'm probably coming off like a total racist in these posts, but I've also read that rape (and things like infant rape) is such an epidemic in Africa and not in Northern European countries.

I also want to thank Hannah for sharing her story. It raised a lot of questions, but I'm sure that was the point of posting it.

I'm too skittish to fully address this, but I'm gonna throw it out there: It's curious that a small percent of women orgasm during intercourse but rape victims do. There is a saying that the body doesn't lie. Could rape, then, excite women in a primal manner, in a way "polite" sex can't? And was rape the standard way of having sex pre-civilization?

If so, the ramifications of that are somewhat disturbing.


Posted by: Days of Broken Arrows on March 26, 2008 12:23 AM



This interview, both parts, and the ensuing comments really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The agenda here is overwhelming, and the rage in some of the comments is baffling. ST, in particular, really outdoes himself.

Posted by: JV on March 26, 2008 1:12 AM



Hannah and Michael, today you're 'Best of The Net'. I hope some wide-ranging site like Arts and Letters Daily, with your permission, gets on to this.

Posted by: Robert Townshend on March 26, 2008 2:21 AM



JV,

Where's the "rage" in the comments? Damned if I can see it. Perhaps, you are the one who is enraged.

Agenda... well, what is that? It appears to me that what is really going on here is storytelling. That's what I usually try to do. I don't make any pretense of being scientific or scholarly. I tell stories about the world as I see it as a result of my experience. I'm not politically active in any way.

I think that individual storytelling is, in many ways, more truthful than the scientific or scholarly.

I won't attempt to try to read your mind. Vicious hatred of men, and in particularly white hetero men, became the cornerstone of the ideology of the far left in the past 30 years. If I have an agenda, it is this... I immediately distrust a man who subscribes to that hatred of men. And, I wonder what in the hell he's got up his sleeve.

I watched a three part series about prostitution on ABC recently, produced by Diane Sawyer and featuring Nicholas Kristof from the New York Times. They pontificated enlessly about the horrors of prostitution, some of which are real. They noted that Eliot Spitzer was also a crusader against prostitution. Sawyer and Kristof are completely indoctrinated in feminism. Their view of prostitution derived much of its substance from Andrea Dworkin, the loony feminist who described all hetero intercourse as rape.

By the end of the program, I began to wonder what skeletons Sawyer and Kristof have in their closets. After all, why are programs about prostitution so common on TV? It's that combination of prurience and preachy scolding, a combination sure to appeal both to the voyeur and the prude.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on March 26, 2008 9:58 AM



Slumlord-
Great questions. I'll take the easy one first. If the judge had given him a lenient sentence, I wouldn't have known. After all, I didn't try to find out what the sentence was for 20 years. Had the rapist not been caught, I'm sure I would have become even more agoraphobic. Hopefully I would have sought counseling before this became incapacitating. The worst, for me, would have been if the jury acquitted him. I don't know if I could have handled that they didn't believe me (I would have taken it personally). I probably would have transferred to a different school, I would not want to stay in the area. As it was, I had occasional concerns about "Albert" tracking me down for revenge. But I had changed my name (when I married) and moved away when I graduated, so I felt reasonably insulated. I probably would have kept my maiden name if it weren't for the rape/trial - nothing like fear to overcome whatever feminist ideas I had!
As far as my feeling shame, or like a bad person--here's my take on it: I was at college, experiencing a degree of freedom that was new to me, experimenting and trying my wings. My parents' opinion was very important to me; I did not want to disappoint or hurt them. I knew they would not have approved of my sexual activities prior to the rape and I'm sure I had some subconscious concerns that I wasn't being a "good" girl. The rape shook my self-identity--I thought I was able to defend myself and I wasn't. I thought this could never happen to me, and it did. So I think I was questioning everything else I knew about myself as well. Bad things weren't supposed to happen to good people--so did that make me a bad person?
Hey, I never said that it was going to be rational!
As to punishment for claiming rape, I can't give a blanket response. Every case is different, has to be looked at on its merits.

JV, I'm not sure what you see as the agenda in the interview--could you elaborate?
Some of the comments have been on the theme of rape and race. I tried to make it clear in a previous comment that I don't believe my rape was racially motivated. I think people have been throwing out some disturbing motivations for the rapist, partly to be provocative, and partly because this is the anonymous world of the internet, where they can't be held responsible for what they say. Let's face it, if it wasn't for the anonymity, I would not have come forward with my story with this degree of detail.

Posted by: Hannah on March 26, 2008 9:58 AM



Wow, this series (if not all the ensuing comments) was amazing -- in a good way. Thanks for doing it.

Posted by: Lester Hunt on March 26, 2008 10:27 AM



I like the 40 year old women introducing young men to sex idea.

Sorta like a Piece Corps.

Posted by: ricpic on March 26, 2008 4:13 PM



Days of Broken Arrows: I had considered that in the past but I recently read a study on male victims of rape (mostly former prisoners) and found that orgasm was not unusual despite the fact that a) they were being raped b) the vast majority of the men studied were straight. I'm not sure how to explain that either or was that means in the evolutionary sense.

Posted by: Al on March 26, 2008 6:34 PM



I'm not sure how to explain male rape victim's orgasm] either or was that means in the evolutionary sense.

Isn't that just a mechanical response to prostate stimulation during rape?

Posted by: PA on March 26, 2008 8:57 PM



I have been reading, but not commenting. Partly because Alias Clio was doing the heavy lifting, but partly to sort out my thoughts. Not all young women have the grounding that Hannah has to bounce back from this sort of thing. A generation of fatherless young women is desperate for any male attention that resembles love and when they are hurt by jerks like the one in the original post, they can become the angry feminists that all you guys have such contempt for. Clio is on to something that while the well may not run dry, there may be lean times ahead if guys don't police their own. And ST, you and your wife may have reacted one way to an event, but to insist that yours is the only acceptable reaction is irrational. The people and situations are too varied to be able to make blanket statements on this topic. It strikes me also that many of the men commenting have been imagining what it would be like for themselves to face rape/bad sex instead of how it would be for a woman. It's not PC to say, but I believe that women are more vulnerable than men in this area and many of the men's comments seem incredibly callous to me. A big part of why this is such a difficult topic to find any consensus on is the lack of recognition of different gender perspectives.

Posted by: Bradamante on March 26, 2008 9:28 PM



I agree with Bradamante that men and women don't understand each other. While men might have a tendency to "trivialize" the effect of rape on a woman, women can't understand the devastating. impact of cookoldry on a man. Roissy once had a good blog entry on rape and cookoldry being equivalent violations.

There have been cases of men being forced to continue providing child support to children who turned out to not be their own.

I imagine that every time such a man writes a monthly check for said child support, he feels a bit like a woman who is required by court order to continue providing monthly "favors" to her one-time rapist.

Posted by: PA on March 27, 2008 8:41 AM



PA: Why does everything have to be a competition? What does Hannah's story have to do with men paying child support for children that are not their own (which I agree is unjust)? There seems to be a tendency on this blog to see all male-female relations as a zero-sum game. I also don't see what is gained by moving from the (silly) idea that all women are victims of some grand conspiracy to the idea that all men are victims.

Second, I don't see how this story changes anything we've discussed about gray rape. Michael is using Hannah as a moral authority on what does and does not count as rape, but it seems from this interview she has a more nuanced view than most of the commenters here.

Days of Arrow: What exactly do we gain here from the black-on-white crime stat? Hannah has said she doesn't believe that the crime was racially-motivated so it has nothing to do with her story. But for the sake of argument, what exactly follows from your claim? Are we going to lock everyone up?

Posted by: Cheryl on March 27, 2008 11:52 AM



An excellent series on a subject that most of us will luckily never experience to understand to this depth.

Michael, thank you for caring enough about it and wanting to bring the reality out. Hannah, thank you for your ability and willingness to offer your experience to Michael's scrutiny and to that of his readers.

I feel that every victim suffers differently, every perpetrator has different motives that drive him to this brutal act against others.

Posted by: susan on March 27, 2008 12:27 PM



Cheryl -- Just to offer a small tweak to your comment ... I'm not proffering Hannah as a moral authority on anything, and I suspect that Hannah (who's very modest) wouldn't want to be taken that way. But her experience is interesting, and it certainly gives her a perspective on these matters that might well be worth paying attention to and taking into account.

It's great too of course that Hannah's so smart and level-headed ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on March 27, 2008 12:29 PM



Cheryl, it's not competition, its a tangent. And why do we bring up race-based crime stats? Because knowledge is better than ignorance.

Posted by: PA on March 27, 2008 12:36 PM



Michael, thanks for a great post as usual. Maybe "moral authority" is wrong, but there's something like that to this post, otherwise why would you start with the "absurd" gray rape case and then invite your readers to compare it to an "actua[l]" rape? And you also ask Hannah to weigh in on the debate. It's seems a little like when Iraq War supporters/opponents bring out veterans who agree with them as though this somehow settles the debate.

Hannah is definitely smart and level-headed, which gives her (even more) credibility.

Posted by: Cheryl on March 27, 2008 12:59 PM



PA: It's not a tangent. It's "You think rape is bad. What about paying child support for a child you didn't father." Otherwise, what is the point of adding it in?

Presumably, knowledge leads to some course of action, especially when it directly impacts policy, e.g., police work, prosecution, etc. So what are we to do with this information?

Posted by: Cheryl on March 27, 2008 1:21 PM



Cheryl, you have knowledge that swimming in Florida lakes is a bad idea, that teasing a rottweiler is risky, that nibbling on strange berries can have consequences, that booze and a credit card are a bad combination in Vegas, that prison pen-pals shouldn't know your bank account numbers, and that the scorpion wiill sting the frog. What do you do with that information?

Posted by: PA on March 27, 2008 2:37 PM



PA: So your argument is that white women should avoid all black men as potential rapists--in the same way most people would avoid wild animals? I just want to be clear about your point here.

Posted by: Cheryl on March 27, 2008 3:54 PM



Cheryl, I see your point, but I think what PA means is that women should be careful about black men depending on the circumstances in which they meet them. When I lived in Washington, I wasn't at all worried by the presence of respectable black businessmen in beige trenchcoats, but I was a little nervous of large young black males in running shoes and gangsta-type clothing if I ran into them on the street late at night.

Here in Ottawa I don't worry about black men as such at all, because, aside from a few wild boys in the Somali community (emerging from the rubble of a collapsed society and often lacking fathers), they are usually law-abiding family men from Haiti, west Africa, or the Caribbean.

In short, I think it's possible to be judicious, and cautious, without being racist, by considering the context of the people you meent and the context of your encounters with them.

Posted by: alias clio on March 27, 2008 5:22 PM



I remember an economist (black, Walter Williams maybe?) saying something to this effect:
1. You're walking down a street at night and an old black woman is approaching from the other direction. You cross the street to avoid her. You are a racist and a fool.
2. You're walking down the street at night and a middle-aged black man in a suit is approaching. You cross the street to avoid him. You are a racist and a fool.
3. You're walking down the street...and a half-dozen young black males dressed in low-ride prison pants, do-rags, and all the usual gangsta cr*p are approaching. You DON'T cross the street to avoid them. Well...you may or may not be a racist. But you are most definitely a fool.

Sounds about right to me.

Posted by: PatrickH on March 27, 2008 9:22 PM



Clio, I think you're giving the most charitable interpretation of PA's and Days of Arrow's comments. I wonder though about the example you give. I'd be wary (not scared, just cautious) of pretty much any man while walking home alone late at night. Obviously, different signifiers--style of dress, age, etc--would matter, which is the point the economist PatrickH quotes was making. It's not that the men are black, but that they're dressed like thugs. I would steer clear of a white man dressed as a thug too.

Posted by: Cheryl on March 28, 2008 9:55 AM



Yes, Cheryl, I agree, and that's why I mentioned my experience of Ottawa, a city in which almost no black man of any age would give me a moment's pause, but a good many white and a few Native Canadian men would do so.

Posted by: alias clio on March 28, 2008 4:48 PM






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