The Folly of Trying To Make Awfulness Less Awful (some discussion of rape – trigger alert)

For what little it is worth, I have not had the most fabulous day. I learnt a few disgusting things like the homeless laundry service mixes all the dirty clothes together and washes them all together…with underwear not finding it’s way home to the right asses. I am lucky, I do my own washing, mainly because I don’t have enough clothes for either of us to send them away for five days, and partially because I don’t want someone else washing my panties.

Before anyone starts on the how lucky the homeless are to even get laundry done, don’t worry, everyone in the room was told that, and that there is plenty of space outside in tents on the streets if we don’t like it. I try to have the minimum to do with anybody, and unfortunately fail, because I am a naturally friendly person. I take the absolute minimum of services, participate fully in whatever I have to, and do it with a fake smile hidden under my mask. I do honestly like most of the staff who work here and truly appreciate the scraps of friendliness that come my way. That said, I am aware of the balance of power most of the time, and some days, I just want to retreat and people to stop hassling me. Wellness checks three times a day, even if you are not one of the ones who might overdose between 10 am and 2pm, gets to grate sometimes. I never feel I can quite relax most of the time.

Trying to make awful things less awful seems like a kindness, doesn’t it? It isn’t so bad. It isn’t for ever. Just hold on trying to make awful less awful. To be frank, living here isn’t so bad as long as there is no crack party or domestic violence happening within earshot. It could indeed be worse.

There is a certain dignity in stoicism that I appreciate, and I do my best to embody.

However there are times when minimizing suffering is dangerous in the extreme. Such as in the case of the various men I meet in passing who seek to minimize domestic violence and rape, in an effort to force me ‘not live in the past’ and ‘move on’ or ‘make the awfulness less awful’ are missing the entire point. They are always so sorry I feel the way I do. No motherfucker needs to apologize to me for how I feel, that is some passive aggressive bullshit, and I take it very much as an attack. They are always so smug in their male superiority and strength and that the balance of power falls in their favor.

It is at this point, I will fight red tooth and bloodied nail to defend myself and to not have to minimize the suffering experienced by myself and other women who have been the victims of rape and domestic assaults.

There is no way to make domestic violence less awful. No way to make rape not as bad as it is, and nor FUCKING SHOULD YOU! Minimizing the impact of suffering is denying pain, denying the damage of abuse and quite simply boys, you have no right to do that. Your reaction, when it is not one of outrage, and instead trying to make it all out to be less than it is, only serves to shore up the grotesqueness of the patriarchy and its crimes against women and children.

There is a great folly in trying to make bad things seem less bad than they are. It strengthens injustice. It gives out the message to other men that their abuses are not so bad really, and that women are just complaining too much and should tolerate more. I know most males see that as a win, and shame on them for it. Society needs to be outraged by violence and rape. Society needs to not tolerate it, normalize it, or minimize it, and anyone who thinks otherwise is deeply suspect.

As an aside, nothing infuriates me more than minimizing crimes and injustices. Victims (myself included, and fuck using the word survivor instead, that is also minimizing it and putting the responsibility for surviving onto the victim) should be allowed to express the full impact of the crimes perpetrated upon them, and not have to make others feel more comfortable. This shit should be uncomfortable. This should be painful. This should make us uneasy. When it doesn’t you know that as a society we have lost the plot, alongside what makes us human.


  1. The Paltry Sum

    I do my best to ignore it, David, but if one more person tells me to move on, or that ‘it’s in the past now’ I swear I might actually tell them what I think rather than nod my head and agree.

    1. The Paltry Sum

      Shabbat shalom, David. I appreciate the advice. You would have made an excellent rabbi. You are right, of course, and leaving it well alone is the only possible route forwards.

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