As A Human With A Vagina, I’m Here To Tell You That All Rapes Are Brutal, Period.

shutterstock_56253550I have been arguing on the Internet. Which, yes, I know, is stupid and pointless. I know my debates and arguments are not going to sway everyone’s opinion, but as a woman and a mom I still keep screaming into the ether and at least hoping by doing so that I am making a small dent in what I like to refer to as the “Gigantic pile of victim-blaming and rape-shaming fuckery.” Unless one of you gentle readers can give me a better title that can be made into a cute little acronym or something. In this case, I have been arguing with Lee Stranahan, over whether or not it’s fair to call the Steubenville Jane Doe‘s rape “brutal.”

I debated that in essence all rapes are brutal. Mr. Stranahan does not agree with me.

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And we went on and on and back and forth and a website grabbed it. Which is fine by me because I do feel like Lee is making the very act of rape “less than.” My opinion is that all rapes are brutal. I don’t care if you are a drunk girl passed out at a party or a New Delhi woman on a bus. All rapes are brutal. The definition of rape is in essence, brutality. Now, if we want to argue semantics and degrees of brutality, it is safe to say that someone who ends up dead due to a rape was a victim of a more brutal crime than someone who does not, but that does not change the fact that all rape is brutal. It’s horrid and awful and repulsive when a woman ends up murdered because of rape. It’s brutal. It is also brutal when a woman doesn’t end up dead due to rape. As humans our instincts are to express more outrage and sorrow and fury over rapes that end in death or other disfigurements or other degrees of violence that are incorporated in a rape, but these reactions don’t negate the brutality of all rapes.

It’s never women who argue these linguistic points. I have never seen or heard of a woman express to another woman “Hey, my rape was worse than yours.” Women don’t play the one-up each other rape game. And I have also never seen a male victim of rape go around  debating whether or not rape is brutal.


So, okay, if Lee knows rape victims who claim their rapes were not ‘brutal” than what word are they using to describe their rapes? The antonyms for brutal are “gentle” or “compassionate” and I cannot think of one case where I have ever heard a rape victim describe their experience as a “compassionate rape.”

The sad fact is, there are many people who agree with what Stranahan says. And they argue semantics in order to make a point all under the sneaky guise of victim-shaming. Steubenville’s Jane Doe didn’t end up dead or disfigured due to her rape so it was no biggie, right? The media is just sensationalizing the alleged rape of a young girl by calling it “brutal.” All rapes are brutal. All water is wet.

We need to stop negating the experiences of victims by deciding what adjectives can and cannot be used to describe rapes. It doesn’t matter if they were raped by a stranger or a family member or a spouse or a friend or acquaintance. It doesn’t matter how old they were. It doesn’t matter if the victim was drunk or on drugs or at a party or a prostitute or coming home from the movies. All rapes are brutal.

And if people can start to understand this very simple point, maybe we can work on finding ways to stop or at least curb the instances of this brutal crime.

(image: RetroClipArt /shutterstock)

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  • Patch0387

    Eve, you are… awesome.

    Stranahan ‏@Stranahan
    I don’t understand how it’s empowering to say a 16 year girl “should” be able to drink to point of unconsciousness. It’s not smart. Duh.

    1hCalla Bonanno ‏@hellocalla
    @Stranahan There is speculation that she was drugged with GHB. If she were, how would that change this conversation?

    1hLee Stranahan ‏@Stranahan
    @hellocalla She was not drugged . There is ample witness testimony she was drinking.

    1. Does Stranahan have access to “ample witness testimony”?

    2. Since we did drinking and ingesting GHB become mutually exclusive?

    3. I don’t understand how it’s empowering to say that ANY person “shouldn’t” be able to drink to the point of unconsciousness without asking to be raped.

    • CMJ

      Yeah…those “ample” witnesses were probably the ones taking the pictures/tweeting/being all-around fucks. Argh.

      Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, makes me more rage-y that mansplaining rape apologists.

  • Patch0387

    Lee Stranahan ‏@Stranahan
    I remember when I got piled on and attacked and accused of faking the video of the Union mob taking down a tent in Lansing

    2hLee Stranahan ‏@Stranahan
    I remember when I got piled on and attacked when I reported that there were rapes at Occupy Wall Street.

    2hLee Stranahan ‏@Stranahan
    I remember when I got piled on and attacked when I said that Pigford was paying out money to people who never farmed

    2hLee Stranahan ‏@Stranahan
    I remember how I got piled on and attacked when I said that it seemed like John Edwards was having an affair.

    I get it now, he’s having a little political temper tantrum. Lee was entitled to recognition for reporting on the above, and he didn’t get what he wanted. Oh, the injustice! I’m sure the lack of attention was just brutal for him. Rapes, not so much.

  • Patch0387

    Lee Stranahan Using Pay Pal to Raise Money Under False Pretenses Dallas, Texas

    Be sure to check out the screenshots. Seems as if he takes rape seriously sometimes!

  • meteor_echo

    Didn’t they see the photo of that girl being dragged around like a sack of meat? How the bloody fuck can they say anything about it being “not brutal”?!
    Rape is not a fucking suffering Olympic contest. It’s a crime that breaks your heart, no matter how each was conducted. And hoo boy do I love it when somebody says “But I know the person who was ____ (insert topic of speech), and they’re not like that!”. Quotes, please.

    • Patch0387

      Please tell me you saw the legal guardians of MR on the Today show. The sole purpose of the interview was gain sympathy for the rapist by showing pictures of him before he hit puberty, and give quotes such as “but he was always so quiet, so reserved”. As if being quiet and reserved negates the capacity to rape.

    • meteor_echo

      What. The. Fuck.

    • Patch0387

      jennifer and greg agresta are with us, exclusively, along with malik richmond ‘s attorney, roger matheson. so malik is home, in your home right now. although you’re no longer his legal guardians . that’s correct, right? what was his reaction when he found out he was being charged with this crime?

      >> he was surprised. we weren’t with him, obviously, when he found out. as i think everybody was surprised. it’s out of character for malik. and i think everybody just was in shock.

      >> you describe him as a laid back young man, a guy who is not outspoken, a quiet kid. yet he is charged with a very serious and disturbing crime. what was your reaction when you heard these charges?

      >> i was very disappointed in the judgment that was exercised at that point in time. it’s completely out of malik’s character. that’s not the type of person that he is. one thing that i will mention, jennifer and i are very private individuals, matt. it was very difficult for us to make the decision to come to new york and speak about the situation.

      >> why did you?

      >> but to be honest with you, the right thing to do is always the hardest thing to do. we’re here as individuals. we’ve had malik since he was 8. even when he went back home with his mom and dad , he has always been part of our family, always. and even to this day — the problems you have in society today, too many people want to share the good times and when individuals and family members run across difficult times, right or wrong, they want to bail.


  • Anika

    I wouldn’t describe my rape as brutal. I felt shocked, angry, and humiliated about it but not that it was brutal. I wouldn’t tell anyone else how to feel about a rape they experienced though, and what words they could or couldn’t use to describe it.

  • catrsimportant

    Thank you Eve — we need to keep saying it! There’s no such thing as a non-brutal rape. My rape was brutal — but I don’t think that it’s any less brutal for the woman who can’t remember at all. The experience and the aftermath of rape is brutal, regardless of how much physical violence is involved. It’s not something that can be measured – nor *should it*.

    • Patch0387

      Well said. Brutal = inhumane, cruel. If ALL rapes aren’t brutal, then he’s essentially arguing that in some cases, rape can be humane. There is no gray area, for me at least. Rape is rape. And you’re exactly right, just because you can’t remember it doesn’t make rape any less brutal. Traumatic events can be blocked out from the mind as a defensive mechanism.

  • Annie

    I think he’s arguing the definition of literal, physical brutality. Along that line of thinking, the New Delhi rape was brutal while the oral sodomy of someone in a coma is not.

    Which, physically, that’s true. But it’s not the POINT. And arguing otherwise is unbelievably assholish, because people also use that bullshit defense attorney tactic to say that you’re not “forcing yourself” on someone when they’re so drunk that physical force isn’t required.

    I just can’t.

  • K.

    Eve, I love you, I agree with you, and this is less to do with you and more to do with Stranahan, but really, this conversation shouldn’t exist. Because what difference does it make whether a rape is ‘brutal’ or not–or that we should spend time making the distinction (which, yes, I gather is your point, but the conversation presents itself as dissolving into semantics and you start to play into his logic)? Someone was raped. That’s it. The “brutal” is irrelevant.

    • Eve Vawter

      I understand what you are saying. However I feel a responsibility, actually I believe everyone should, that when we hear this sort of opinion-deciding , especially by NON-victims, we need to speak up. When we can agree that all rapes are brutal, or savagely violent, we put an end to those who say things like “She knew her attacker, so it wasn’t brutal” or “She didn’t have a lot of vaginal tearing, so it wasn’t brutal..” or “She was drunk so it wasn’t brutal..” For me I don’t care what the circumstances of a rape are, they are all brutal.

  • Dlee

    Whilst I completely agree with you, that no rape is “easy”, I do have to wonder if you two have different definitions of what constitutes brutality. My own assault was coerced, unwanted and left horrible emotional scars. I’d call that brutal. BUT physically, it wasn’t brutal. I was 13 and plied with alcohol and it was a person I trusted so I lay there and let them because I was too afraid to speak up. If I were only to look at the physical injuries resulting from my attack, I wouldn’t describe it as brutal. Taking everything else into account and how it stayed with me for more than just that one night, then it was absolutely brutal.

  • bumbler

    I don’t think it’s right to define everyone’s rape for them. What one woman has accepted as a ‘very uncomfortable situation’ should not be escalated into a violent, brutal, traumatic, life-destroying event by others. Everyone has a right to their own reality, and I feel like trying to falsely dramatize someone’s rape in order to further the case against rape is wrong. For some people, probably most even, it’s absolutely brutal and horrific, but there are all kinds of people in the world. Some can get punched in the face, spit out a tooth and keep walking, others get slapped and sit on the floor sobbing about it for an hour. Neither is wrong, and no one should get to define how those women feel about what happened. That being said, from an assaulter’s perspective, all ACTS of rape should be defined as brutal. No matter who is doing it, why or how. Perhaps that’s a better definition; that the experience of rape may or may not be brutal, but the act of rape always is.

    • Eve Vawter

      That is what I said. I don’t think that anyone should be able to classify someone’s rape as non-brutal just because they decide the victim’s rape wasn’t “savagely violent.” The very act of nonconsensual sex is savagely violent.

  • Avodah

    The entire argument makes both of you look like idiots. Eve, the good news is this who,e rape thing is really good for your “writing career”. I’m sure you’ll make hundreds, literally hundreds of dollars from your amazing writing.

    • meteor_echo

      Do you have anything constructive to add?
      If not, STFU.

    • Bethany Minervino

      No, the argument makes our *society* look idiotic, because it shouldn’t even be an argument. Rape is a heinous crime against a person’s most basic autonomy. It is brutal. The fact that someone disagrees is appalling. The fact that Eve is writing this article gives bravery to other women, gives them more words to use when speaking out against the pervasive rape culture fostered by both perpetrators and passive bystanders who prefer women to stay silent.

    • Nerdy Lucy


      It’s pretty obvious that the whole point of this flew right over your head.

    • Eve Vawter

      I’d rather be the idiot standing up for rape victims than the idiot downplaying the severity of rape or suggesting a thing such as “gentle rape.” and you’re right, I am never going to make a gigantic sum for writing about these things, but writing about rape is a bit more important to me than writing about whatever you would rather read. I’m sure you can find something around here on celebrity baby bumps to enjoy.

  • Blooming_Babies

    Eve, have you seen this?
    I don’t care if you’re “right” but I do care that you make your voice heard, again and again, no matter what people say. Your voice does make a difference, so get emotional, make mistakes, and be heard. Sincerely, thank you.

  • Justme

    I think the “brutal” part of rape is sometimes not the physical act but the psychological damage it can inflict on a victim for years afterwards. That “brutality” is not measurable and is not up to anyone else to define for the victim.

  • Sabrit Hadid

    Lee Stranahan is NOTHING put a mooching troll. 1. don’t think he has experienced rape, 2. He IS attempting to minimize rape by “classifications” 3. Makes me wonder WHAT he is trying to “whitewash” in HIS past?

  • Sabrit Hadid

    I was raped by my fiance 30 years ago, I was mortified, humiliated, shamed. My Father was sooo anxious to “marry me off” he could not see what was happening,( I’m from the old school, no sex prior to marriage) and silly me, I though we were “in Love”. Well, I married my rapist, did things get better? Was he ever “sorry” for his “slip up”? (he is “Christian”) No, No, and a thousand times No! His humiliations of me only continued for 27 years, 3 sons and a life of misery for me(oh, the petty arguments, and public embarrassments he heaped upon me). After a night of screaming over me cursing in front of my youngest who was 21 then, I asked for a divorce, of which was granted a year later, buy only AFTER he RAPED me financially also. I walked away with NOTHING, but to PAY him on some debt he claimed that I knew nothing about. By some fluke, G-d granted me 100 % of his retirement, was to be 50%, But he HAS EVERYTHING else, wedding gifts, thing that belonged to me as a child, my fathers things, et all, he still lives in OUR house with his new wife, 5 years later. He has expressed he won’t sell until I give him back the 50 % retirement…. I think I NEED that trump card, this man has PROVEN he cannot be trusted. No doubt about it, every rape is BRUTAL, its just brutal to mind, or body, or spirit, or psych, or to ALL the whole person. ONLY she or he gets to define that, (Mr Lee Stanahan)

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  • WhereThisGlobalizationwillgo

    I am here from India, well form New Delhi,
    In INDIA; RAPE of any form as seeing the discussion PHYSICALLY BRUTAL or NOT is a Heinous CRIME!
    Indian Govts are the MURDERERS of INDIAN Society, Pornography is a Object of entertainment in WEST, IT is not a ACCEPTABLE thing in INDIA. You westerners Love it, Girls are seeing it as a CAREER???
    Therefore your CAPITALIST SOCIETY which accepts making Human Beings OBJECTS for MONEY, Should not SURPRIZE me that you discussing on a FACT : Brutal or Not Rapes.. HAHAHA!!!

    PORN has taken BIRTH in YOUR LANDS, WHAT is it, your culture is to IMPOSE things on others, you PORN Stuff claims to Tell HOW IT IS TO BE DONE!

    What agitated me write this was the Title, Human with Vagina, WOMEN in WEST have LOST HOPE, they are no longer MOTHERs or WIVES or SISTERS they REDUCED to HUMANS WITH VAGINA!!!!

    I am surprized the world says INDIAN WOMEN are HELPLESS, BACKWARD and FOOLS!

  • Brian

    I think some of my male counterparts need to experience rape before they actual want to talk about it like they have a clue as to what it does to a women physically and emotionally. To play with the semantics of the definition of a word is quite frankly moronic, insensitive and misogynistic. Lee I hope you get raped one day, really I truly do so you can tell us that it wasn’t that bad an experience, but guess what it probably won’t happen because it’s very rare for a man to be violated in the manner a rape victim is and I think you are a piece of garbage for even arguing this point. It’s obvious you are just trying to be provocative, and controversial. I assume that’s because you suck as a writer and journalist if that is what you really are or is it simply what you fancy yourself to be. Rot in Hell buddy.

  • Sarah Ann Henderson

    Eve, I believe you are certainly right to argue that perpetrating a rape is always brutal; it is a base, animal, criminal act that negates everything human and autonomous about the woman being attacked. However, experiencing a rape is different for every victim. I don’t think you can tell victims how to feel about being raped. I personally feel that the rapes I survived could be classified as “brutal,” but I can only speak for myself. Other victims may not feel that way. Try to argue about the crime itself, not the victims’ experience of it.

  • tickletik

    Women are so obviously heartless. LOL, you have now made a rape that ends up with broken bones, and a vagina so torn that the women is infertile to be the equivalent of one that didnt. And yes, I have a friend that went through that.

    You know what? I agree. All rapes are brutal, and since all rapes are equally brutal, it is no longer necessary to use the adjective “brutal” when referring to rape. So now, no rapes are brutal.

    Stupid, wretched women. You have always been selfish, short sighted, miserable two faced cowards, and you always will be. And any man that doesnt wake up and see through your disgusting bullshit deserves every bit of pain and suffering you give him.