And I'll join in the Cady love fest. I do want to say that I'm not dismissing the effect of rape on it's victims/survivors - I know it took me quite a while to get to the point where I am now about my own assault. But I do still believe there are things worse than rape, but that's clearly from my own personal experience, whereas other survivors' mileage may vary.
I didn't think you were! I hope that was clear. It was just a point at which I saw a similar discussion (rather unfortunately) get derailed because people felt that their trauma wasn't being acknowledged as real.
... I just exalt sexual autonomy more than other aspects of physical autonomy.
I suppose it's some sort of deep-seated Christian value set that I hold. I'm really trying to shake it guys, I'm just trying to be honest that that's my first reaction.
It's good to be honest about it (and to just be thinking about these things in the first place). And we are taught that it's a fate worse than death, even still, and yes, rape can be profoundly traumatic and is wielded as a weapon. I do think, though, that a close inspection shows that a lot of the concern with rape, historically, has to do with property rights and with controlling fertility (even in the Bible). I mean, okay. Why do you want your wife to be a virgin when you get married? You know no one else could have impregnated her already. The kids will be yours. Same reason you don't want anyone raping her after you're married. Does an unwelcome assault make someone less of a woman? No. But a lot of the trauma for many rape survivors comes from the idea that they're "damaged goods" - to which I say "holy bejeezus we need to get The Patriarchy out of our vaginas, stat." And these ideas are perpetuated, imo, when we do say that rape is per se the worst thing a person can do to someone.
Bodily autonomy is important. I can only imagine it's terrifying to be so physically/mentally/emotionally controlled by someone that they can, in some varying state of undress, put something inside of you. But unless there's something magical that is damaged or lost upon penetration (and note, here, that some rapes are performed with foreign objects, and it is not always the vagina that is penetrated)...how does it become The Worst Thing Ever?
in my personal experience, my assault took my virginity. thankfully i was not physically assaulted or threatened in a way that would have killed me, but at the time it really did feel like the worst thing ever. in my experience it was a date rape and i definitely felt like it was my fault, like i could have done something more to prevent it. sometimes i still feel that way. it freaked me out so much that i struggled to have physical contact with others for years. i was admittedly young when all of this happened, perhaps if i was older and more mature i would have handled the situation better.
to be brutally honest, the worst part about losing my virginity in the process was when i was in a relationship with someone i loved and i knew that my first time wasn't going to be with him. i would have much preferred to have sex for the first time with someone i loved and trusted and i eventually had to explain the situation to him.
i no longer see it as the worst thing ever, but at the time it really killed me. i couldn't eat or sleep, and i had to just go to school and face my friends and family as if all was okay. in college a similar situation happened to a friend of mine and it seriously affected her ability to function normally. maybe it's more emotionally scarring if the rapist is a person you knew and trusted. it becomes a violation of so much more than just your body.
i don't hold any deep beliefs about sex, and i didn't at the time. i think my feelings were more influenced by the way our society portrays sex and virginity. i realize these societal are very much based on religion but even movies as ridiculous as "american pie" put a lot of weight on being a virgin and the importance of your first time. i see now how things like that made me feel like less of a person.
anyway, this discussion has made me think about my experience a lot, and i agree that other assaults can be equally if not more traumatic. i have never been held up at gun point, but reading your stories has made me realize that if i were in that situation, i would be a lot more traumatized than i was when i was raped.