Straight Up | Issue 23

Straight Up | Issue 23

Rape is a queer issue

It seems like rape has been all over the news recently, and often in ways I find problematic. I don’t want to write about Julian Assange or Hell pizza; others have done a brilliant job of tearing those two issues apart already. Instead, I want to look at rape from an intersectional queer perspective.

In the past, I have heard people say that rape isn’t a “proper” queer issue. I felt so sad when I heard this that I couldn’t bring myself to respond, so I am going to say it here, loud and clear: rape is a queer issue.

Rape is a queer issue because queer and trans* people can be survivors and/or perpetrators of sexual violence. Rape is a queer issue because rape culture – the attitudes and practices which normalize, excuse or condone sexual violence – can be perpetuated by people with an investment in the queer and trans communities. Rape is a queer issue because the logic that delegitimises the experiences of survivors, and blames them for their own victimisation, is eerily similar to the logic that blames queer and trans folks for bringing beatings and bullying upon themselves. And above all, rape is a queer issue because the single-oppression framework doesn’t work.

I have been a friend, lover, and family member of survivors of sexual assault.

In 2009 I became a survivor of attempted sexual assault myself.

The reasons I disclose this information are twofold:

01 | I want to bust the myth that adult people with the junk I have cannot be sexually assaulted. We can.

02 | I am both queer and a survivor. I want others in my community to know about the pain it causes me to participate in community spaces where rape jokes, victim-blaming, and standing idly by are tolerated. I want my community to know the pain of absences, like absent discussions about what consenting to sex really is, and the absence of any information on how to talk about perpetrators of sexual violence (they aren’t all strangers who hide in bushes; they can be our partners, friends, colleagues, and family members).

The bottom line for me is that any queer community that I am a part of must be against rape culture. It must be, because I refuse to separate questions of gender, sexuality, and queerness from questions of rape and sexual assault. I want to participate in spaces and movements that are committed to interrogating gender and sexuality norms, while also challenging rape culture.

Rape is a queer issue.

This article first appeared in Issue 23, 2012.
Posted 4:03pm Sunday 9th September 2012 by La Dida.