On page 256 of my e-copy of the Stephen King novella collection Four Past Midnight begins a scene that sidles up to the boundaries of good taste, and in my opinion smashes those boundaries over the head with a hammer before having its way with them. I will quote two things from it in order to frame what I wish to say here.
Gasping and rocking, the Library Cop pounds what feels like a huge hot bar of steel in and out of Sam’s bum; Sam stares with wide eyes into the Library basement, which is in another universe, an orderly universe where gruesome things like this don’t ever happen. He watches the janitor nod, tuck his clipboard under his arm, and walk toward the door at the far end of the room. If the janitor turned his head just a little and raised his eyes slightly, he would see a face peering in the window at him, the pallid, wide-eyed face of a little boy with red licorice on his lips. Part of Sam wants the janitor to do just that—to rescue him the way the woodcutter rescued Little Red Riding Hood—but most of him knows the janitor would only turn away, disgusted, at the sight of another bad little boy submitting to his just punishment at the hands of the Briggs Avenue Library Cop.
Look at you! the Library Cop says. His face pulls together in a knot of contempt and disgust. Look at you with your panth down and your little dingle out! You liked it, didn’t you? YOU LIKED It!
Rape culture existed a long time before it was called that, and it has been so pervasive that a man who is built more like Gregory Peck than Steve Urkel could have referenced multiple aspects of it in his work long before it was called that. I am unsure if King was wittingly referencing rape culture in this scene, but if so, he sure is a long way ahead of his time.
Regarding Four Past Midnight in general, it was compiled in a time when King could, to use his own words, print his laundry list and expect to sell millions of copies. It shows. It is not badly written, but this scene, like many scenes in Four Past Midnight, set off the “was that really necessary?” alarm.
The aspects of rape culture that King references in this scene are threefold. One, the victim is exploited by the attacker because he is vulnerable to that attacker. The only people I have ever heard say they like a challenge in a fight and I have believed them, they are in an entirely different universe from your average species of rapist. Second, people turn a blind eye to it. And third, people love to blame the victim.
Numerous references are made throughout this scene to how the victim feels, both physically and emotionally. But the one I feel is relevant to what I have to say here and now is this:
Sam thinks, He is going to punish me again, and at this idea something in his mind, some overstressed strut or armature, gives way with a soggy snap he can almost hear. He does not cry or protest; he is now past that. He only looks at the Library Cop with silent apathy.
I myself have not reached this point in terms of how “with autism” makes me feel. In fact, other than the references to stomach feeling compressed, violently tremoring and shaking with fear, and so forth, there is not a lot in common between my feelings and Sam’s.
I have not snapped inside and decided that it would be better to meekly accept the abuse I am receiving. Because I was born knowing something that unfortunately a lot of children take forever to learn.
Meekly accepting the abuse and saying “yes sir” to your abuser only makes the abuse worse.
But I challenge you to tell me to my face that being genuinely frightened a doctor is going to order in a bunch of nurses, drag you from your chair, strap you into another one, and start cutting into your head to make you “not tistic anymoor!” is a pleasant feeling. The people who came to me an hour or thereabouts after the fact and literally offered to stay with me whilst they called emergency services were surprised when I told them that the idea of emergency services coming after me only made it worse.
You see, we live in a Hate The Disabled culture. People whose brains are different to the expected norm are shit in everyone else’s eyes. Thus, an individual who is autistic, only learned same as a grown man, and has since learned that abusers only keep abusing when new information comes to the fore, is not going to be capable of trusting ambulance folk just because they are ambulance folk.
He has a very real expectation that they might drug him and sedate him, and then he will wake up in a bed with a chunk missing out of his skull and people telling him he is “not tistic anymoor! yay!”.
There used to be a whole sub-genre of films where people had their brains messed with in order to make them into something that they are not. Disturbing Behaviour is the most recent, and possibly worst, example of this genre. Robert Heinlein’s reputation as the science fiction writer that everyone steals from rests to a significant degree on a novel where an alien species depends entirely on seizing and controlling the brain matter of a host in order to subsist.
Fear was also the pervasive mood in my home when I was a boy growing up in Western Sydney. My male parental unit did not rape me, but given that that would have left real physical evidence that I could take to the police, I sometimes half-wish he had.
You see, my male parental unit was very good at exploiting the boundary between doing things that would really hurt people, and doing things that would really hurt people and leave real physical evidence. Just having him in the same room or within ten feet of me causes me to exist differently. Which is why I wish to return the favour by critically disabling him as thoroughly as possible and telling him to live my life for the rest of his.
Ugh, getting away from the point.
I have something I wish to say to Jessica Hartness. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell her how you feel yourself if you wish. From the IP address 126.96.36.199, she had this to tell me:
”I am sure that you feel rape jokes are not funny, that rape apologism or rape culture defending as has come out in force recently is offensive. Well, what I am trying to make the audience understand in the above image is that the cartoon you distributed makes me feel something a lot worse than being raped.”
Have you ever been raped? How do you know what is worse than being raped if you are not a survivor? You insult all those people who have been raped with your comparison and leaves me with little to no sympathy for you.
You are a writer, no? You should be much more capable of writing than to just resort to saying ‘worse than rape’ because you know rape is a terrible thing. You make this comparison a LOT and you need to rethink it.
Can you understand that? That the issues YOU have with ”seperationist language” and your descriptions of how it makes you feel and what you think it says about the person using those words – that’s EXACTLY what survivors think about you for using the words you use.
Firstly, Jessica, you are not a messiah or an avatar. You are one person, with one experience, with one point of view. Arguing from authority with me does not get you anywhere.
In fact, the pervasive “everyone else automatically right, Dean automatically wrong” culture I lived in as a boy only makes me want to tell you to go and shove a bowling ball up your arse.
I have never died, either. But when I say that being credibly threatened with having your head cut into to make you something you are not, or having that actually done to you, feels worse than death, I know from whence I speak. There is a point in all that I have written that you are choosing to conveniently forget or conveniently ignore:
There is nothing, literally nothing, that feels worse than the credible threat of being butchered, anally tortured (pouring bleach into the anus is torture), or otherwise made physically uncomfortable in order to be made “not autistic anymore” for me. Nothing. Not the idea of being killed, and not even this idea that I am going to quote below to destroy the idea you have that you are an authority worthy to talk to me about pain. It makes me feel like the criminals who would murder people for being nothing more than what they cannot help are in charge. It gives lie to every word about fairness and justice I heard as a boy. It turns people who might in fact be perfectly decent and not wishing to participate in the genocide of me and mine into Sha-like monsters that have no expression, light, or life in their eyes. It makes a horror show of The. Entire. World. Around. Me. If it bothers you that much that I feel this the strongest when my neurology is referred to as if it were a separate entity to me, then petition your government to revoke Autism Speaks For Normie Assholes’ status as a charitable organisation, because that is the only way an outcome apparently satisfactory to you will occur.
Now, the article I had in mind as I wrote the above is best summarised by the following quote:
We get him in, and the story comes out: he’d smoked up, broken his wire-framed glasses, and proceeded to jam them inside his penis. Stop screaming.
It gets better.
He’d done this so often that he had scar tissue blocking his urethra. Doctors had to make a hole at the base of his penis for him to pee out of. So basically, he had a hole straight into his abdominal cavity. He broke those glasses, shoved them down the hole, and, in a stroke of genius, decided to fish them back out with a pair of tweezers … which also got lost in there.
You see, not only are there painful things out there that can indeed be compared to rape, there are, believe it or not, things out there even more painful than being raped. I bet just pissing is an unpleasant experience for the individual spoken of in the above quote. I am sure that curebies will one day start entertaining the idea of trying to burn their child’s arm off with sulphuric acid in order to make them “not ‘tistic anymoor! yay!”, as a further instance. At least, I expect that if Autism Speaks For Normie Assholes are allowed to operate with legal approval for long enough.
So to summarise:
1) Keeping people in a constant emotional state of wrongness, badness, disapprovalness, and similar for up to twenty years of their life can make shoving solid objects into your own asshole (yes, I do that on occasion, and good luck getting that out of your head) seem like fun.
2) Your emotional distress is no more valid than mine. In fact, your attempt to invalidate mine altogether makes yours a lot less valid in my eyes.
3) People think they are an authority on pain or the infliction thereof often prove themselves wrong. The constancy with which I seriously and openly wish that I had been
- Murdered during infancy
- Murdered during childhood
- Murdered whilst living somewhere nobody should have to live
4) Fukk off.
So now I am immortalising this person here so people can let them know what they think. I sure hope they look back someday and realise that perhaps waving a red flag in front of me like this was not the clever, world-changing strategy they thought it might be.