Power, Rape and Inivisibility: Twisting Virrillo’s Museum of Accidents

by: Camille DeBose 

Note: This piece was originally published on the author’s website and has been reposted with generous permission. You can find the original here.

Bad things happen. Bad things happen that I don’t see. It’s not because they’re hidden but because hegemony tells me so. Hegemony tells me these things don’t exist and I move along, forgetting to consider. I learned something today. It was an accidental stumbling upon. A simple convergence of time and space and familiarity that rocked my soul. I am disturbed and disrupted by this learning and deeply changed by the knowing.

One of the fundamental lessons from Virilio’s work The Museum of Accidents is the notion that whenever we invent something new, the locomotive, the airplane, we also invent an accident. With the invention of nuclear power plants we invented the meltdown. These are not opposites, they are possibilities. There are other possibilities we don’t consider because they’ve never happened. It doesn’t mean they won’t, it just means they haven’t yet. Their remoteness renders them invisible and they stay that way.

Today I was confronted by the seemingly remote but very real occurrence of male rape. He told her “no” and she didn’t listen. He’d had a lot to drink. She pushed into his room. She later apologizes. It’s okay. He forgives. Someone saw her. Word gets around. She files a complaint. It was his fault. He is victimized again. Nobody thought to ask him. When he spoke up, we didn’t believe him, so he hushed, bowed his head and went away. The very idea of a young woman raping a male peer is anathema. We can’t conceive of it. Every red blooded, American male would relish the opportunity to allow a hopped up hottie to force him–or maybe we should say–take the lead. Wouldn’t they? What kind of guy doesn’t like this? What kind of real man doesn’t want this?

Rape exists. Sexual assault happens. There is something we’ve forgotten to consider, and in forgetting, we’ve rendered a whole group of victims invisible. He isn’t the first young man I’ve come across who was raped (and I use this word in hopes of communicating all the force it carries with it) by a young woman. He first opened up about it in class, only in that moment realizing what had happened to him. He remembered passing out. He remembered waking up with her on top of him. He didn’t know what to call it. It was only during class that he realized it fit the definition. I asked him how it could be that he didn’t know. His response was, “I’m a guy. I mean. I didn’t really know her and I just wanted her to be finished but I didn’t understand that she was raping me. I didn’t…want her.” He never sought support, and the reality is there wasn’t much for him.

Writing for me is catharsis. It assists me. It does nothing for them. The value of the Museum is to show us what can occur. It’s goal is to force us to consider all possibilities and act to prevent them before they ruin us. The young man from today is still wounded, unsupported, and responsible for the acts committed against him. You wouldn’t know it if you met him. He is a quiet survivor who asks nothing from us. He expects nothing from us. What a shame. There is something we’ve forgotten to consider because American masculinity tells us it can’t exist. However, it does. I am ashamed at the oversight. I didn’t see. I wasn’t listening. I hear you now.

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