Why We Can’t Afford to Dismiss Nick Eriksen

by Cara on April 3, 2008

in assholes, bigotry, blogswarm, feminism, misogyny, patriarchy, politics, rape and sexual assault, sex and sexuality, slut-shaming, violence against women and girls

You may have heard that two days ago, a British politician was revealed to be behind a far-right blog that spews prejudice at every turn. Among Nick Eriksen’s most offensive comments were those regarding rape (trigger warning).

The Standard can reveal that Nick Eriksen, the BNP’s London organiser and the second-highest candidate on its list for the Assembly, is the author of “Sir John Bull,” a notorious far-Right blog which has regularly advocated hatred and abuse against women. The disclosure will be a serious blow to the BNP’s hopes of London electoral success.

On 24 August 2005, Mr Eriksen wrote: “I’ve never understood why so many men have allowed themselves to be brainwashed by the feminazi myth machine into believing that rape is such a serious crime … Rape is simply sex. Women enjoy sex, so rape cannot be such a terrible physical ordeal.

“To suggest that rape, when conducted without violence, is a serious crime is like suggesting that forcefeeding a woman chocolate cake is a heinous offence. A woman would be more inconvenienced by having her handbag snatched.

“The demonisation of rape is all part of the feminazi desire to obtain power and mastery over men. Men who go along with the rape myth are either morons or traitors.”

As far as conservative nutjobs go, Eriksen is extreme. Based on his other blog posts, I honestly don’t think it’s possible for him to look at a woman with anything but vile contempt. And the British National Party? They’re terrifying, and run almost entirely on a platform of making racism acceptable. There’s also the fun irony of the fact that they are “tough on crime” and support “the rights of victims” — no, really, they support corporal punishment for vandals and petty thieves. Which can only mean Eriksen thinks that spray painting graffiti on a wall is worse than raping your girlfriend.

We’re not dealing with your average misogynist, but once the shock wears off, I find Eriksen’s comments to be absolutely fascinating. And significant.

Eriksen has of course withdrawn his candidacy, as the BNP admits begrudgingly while calling his comments “distorted and taken out of context.” Actually, quite a few members of the BNP have responded to the comments this way. So let’s give poor old Eriksen a fair shake. Here are the comments in question in their original context:

Obviously violent stranger-rape will be traumatic, but feminazis have stretched the definition of rape to include ‘date-rape’ and even ‘husband-rape’!

Rape is simply sex (I am talking about ‘husband-rape’ here, for those who deliberately seek to misunderstand me). Women enjoy sex, so this type of ‘rape’ cannot be such a terrible physical ordeal. To suggest that rape, when conducted without violence, is a serious crime is like suggesting that force feeding a woman chocolate cake is a heinous offence. A woman would be more inconvenienced by having her handbag snatched.

So why have the feminazis built ‘rape’ up as such a serious offence? Because it is the one offence they can accuse a man of without any evidence whatsoever. Even years after the supposed offence took place they can waltz into a police station and destroy a man’s life without a shred of evidence. In other words the demonisation of rape is all part of the feminazi desire to obtain power and mastery over men. Again, for those who are seeking to cause trouble by deliberately misunderstanding me: yes, violent rape by a stranger in the street is a terrible crime, but I am not talking about that – I am talking about ‘husband-rape’.

It seems that for some people, repeatedly alluding to the idea that someone will take your words out of context exonerates you from having to take responsibility for them whenever they happen to be quoted. As Eriksen points out, to paraphrase but using language that I don’t think he would actually object to, he’s not saying that rape isn’t bad; he’s just saying that women are lying, whining whores who like to throw a fit every time someone they know decides to stick his dick in without their permission.

To use full context, Eriksen argues in the same post that only 6% of rape cases result in a conviction (he doesn’t provide a citation, though it sounds accurate enough), and therefore 94% of rape accusations are lies. He says that since rape victims who claim to have been drugged rarely show any traces of rohypnol in their urine (not showing a citation, ignoring that other date rape drugs exist and that rohypnol passes through one’s system very quickly), the women in question were only very drunk and therefore there is no crime, as having sex with someone who is in a state of being blacked out is apparently not rape. He refers to victims as “tarts.” And he somewhat jokingly (how hilarious) refers to rape as “assault with a friendly weapon.”

I’m so interested in Eriksen’s comments not because I’m a masochist or even because they give me an opportunity for extreme outrage. I’m so interested in them because they contain such a huge quantity of misogynist ideas and rape myths all in one place. Precisely, they contain a combination of pretty much every misogynist justification for violence against women — and though spoken rather explicitly, the ideas are not particularly uncommon. In fact they’re the very ideas that have been socially absorbed to create what we refer to as a rape culture. They are the ideas that allow men to commit violence with impunity, that cause women to be held responsible for men’s violence and that impose a continued silence by survivors. The comments are rape apologism at its finest, and because they are so unfiltered, they provide a clear view of the man behind the curtain who the patriarchy wants you to pay absolutely no attention to.

Like the great misogynists before him, Ericksen seeks to redefine consent not as a willful and voluntary “yes,” but as a “no” that can be overcome without leaving any bruises. And as someone who clearly sees marriage as a financial transaction (man pays for sex on tap and obedience), he believes that consent once equals consent always. It’s an old view, and the reason why spousal rape used to not be a crime (and in some places still isn’t) — a time that Ericksen would like society to revisit. Women are property. And property does not get a say. We don’t have any real responsibility towards property, and if we did, the responsibility wouldn’t be so much to treat it like a living creature with feelings of its own as to not completely and utterly destroy it.

And though anyone who is a decent human being can see that women are not property, cannot be bought and sold and do not give up rights to their personhood with marriage, there is another strong and common misconception here: that rape is not destructive.

Rape has killed women, it has caused them permanent injury and ruined lives with emotional trauma. Those of use who survive are not destroyed — we’re still here. But rape’s failure to destroy victims as people doesn’t make it nondestructive. Rape and other sexual violence can and does destroy a lot: trust, health, safety, relationships, happiness, equality . . . the list goes on. Most notably, rape often destroys the sense that women have a right over their own bodies, and this is precisely the point.

Rape, feminists have long noted, is not sex. Eriksen actually gets that one half-right in his assertion that sex is rape only when violence is involved. This is true. But to Eriksen, violence is punching, beating and stabbing. He fails to realize that rape is in itself violence.

– actually, that’s not entirely true. As a recent comment on the blog post in question notes, it’s interesting that Eriksen compares rape to force-feeding chocolate cake. Of course, this is simply a misogynist swipe, indicating women as gluttonous whores who can’t get enough of a good thing — including, he delusionaly believes, his cock. But as the commenter notes, force-feeding is torture by definition and one can only imagine that it would be painful and terrifying. The comparison is actually somewhat apt in that both rape and the force-feeding if a favorite food are violent — and they both take something that people generally enjoy and turn it against us. The point isn’t violence for violence sake. It’s violence with the goal of turning the victim’s body, loves and pleasure against her. It’s violence designed to give the offender lasting power and control over something that once brought the victim joy.

In the end, I don’t believe for a second that Eriksen really thinks that partner/acquaintance rape or force-feeding is not violence. He just believes that they’re violence women deserve. He probably finds something innately disturbing about female pleasure and believes that men have a right to show the bitches what happens once they start genuinely enjoying things. I’ve long believed that rape is used as a punishment for women’s sexuality. It’s also a common myth that women enjoy rape, because we all supposedly enjoy penetrative sex.

This is one of the most prevalent myths: that physical pain and/or a lack of physical pleasure is the crime of rape.

In some cases this is a big part of the crime. But it ignores a few fundamental facts. The first is that not all rape is physically painful, particularly likely in cases which do not involve other forms of violence. There are many reasons that rape can be painful, but it is not necessarily so. The second is far more taboo, and very rarely discussed even in victim-advocacy circles. It’s not discussed because taken without understanding, it’s a fact that can be used against us. We’re also very, very wrong to ignore it, and I for one would like to break the silence.

The fact is that many women do experience physical sexual pleasure during rape. It’s difficult, but it’s true. And yet, this is 100% different from enjoying rape. It’s a biological response that cannot always be controlled. Some women do not experience pain during rape because their vaginas naturally lubricate against their emotional wishes. Others actually feel pleasure. It’s nerve endings, and you can’t necessarily decide what your body will feel as it is being touched. Women who experience this are generally frightened because of the additional lack of control over their own bodies, and also tend to feel guilty. Because we often don’t differentiate between emotionally enjoying an act and feeling physical pleasure during it, these victims often start to think that maybe they did enjoy the rape, even though their brains were telling them something very different from their genitals. Others know better, but still fail to talk about this aspect of the experience due to the rape apologist and victim-blaming remarks that are likely to ensue or because of embarrassment.

The crime of rape itself is not the physical pain, though this is commonly an aspect. The crime of rape itself is not about a lack of physical pleasure, though this is also very often true. A woman who does not feel physical pain or who does feel physical pleasure during a rape has still been harmed.

The crime of rape is the imposition on another person’s body. The crime of rape is taking away another person’s right to make their own decisions, deciding what will and will not happen to their bodies. The crime of rape is failing to respect personal boundaries and enacting your will on another. The trauma of rape isn’t necessarily the physical pain; the trauma of rape is temporarily losing control of your own body and your own life. And as rape intends, many victims fail to realize that the control is temporary. The crime and trauma of rape is the assertion that a person’s autonomy can mean absolutely nothing to others and can be taken away. The crime of rape is its inherent intent to own another person.

And until we as a society come to understand that, I sadly haven’t got the slightest fucking clue as to how we might end sexual violence.

See more of the Blog Against Sexual Violence here.

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{ 18 comments }

1 akeeyu April 3, 2008 at 4:51 pm

I suppose it would be wrong to forcefeed him chocolate cake via an alternate orifice?

2 lepidopteryx April 3, 2008 at 5:33 pm

I was raped by my (now ex-) husband over twenty years ago. I didn’t press charges because I was young, not sure if spousal rape was a crime in my state, and too embarrassed to got to the police and tell them what had happened in case it wasn’t.
Fast forward to three years ago. I’ve met a wonderful man, we’ve been dating a while, and are in bed together for the first time. He touches me in a way that brings the memory of that night back (I still don’t know exactly what it was that did it), and I not only recoil from him, but damn near puke all over the handsome naked man in my bed.
Of course, he wanted to know what was wrong, and I told him. He put his arms around me and just held me the rest of the night.
I said something to the effect of “You’d think I’d be over it twenty years later.” and he looked at me incredulously and said, “My god – I don’t know how a person would EVER get over something like that.”
I still have occasional nightmares about being raped. The physical damage may be temporary, but the psychological damage is permanent.

3 Jenee April 3, 2008 at 6:39 pm

“The crime and trauma of rape is the assertion that a person’s autonomy can mean absolutely nothing to others and can be taken away.”

It’s like my own disorganized and disconnected feelings and thoughts put into a beautifully succinct sentence. Thank you.

4 Cara April 3, 2008 at 7:10 pm

lepidopteryx, he (the non-rapist) sounds like he is/was a wonderful person.

5 Jaz April 4, 2008 at 3:52 am

Thank you for writing this. I still deal with guilt and doubt cos he didn’t use any physical force… I feel like it is somehow my fault..

6 patrick April 4, 2008 at 5:26 am

I’m not opposed to pointing out the utter bullshit of assholes like Erikson or the rest of the BNP idiots but isn’t it a little misleading to call Erikson a “British Politician” when the BNP has never had a seat in parliament and 0.7% of the vote is the highest the PARTY has ever received. Erikson is a misogynistic prick, no question, but giving him the legitimacy of a title like politician is no good for anyone interested in bettering our world. Erikson is a quack too extreme for a party that is too extreme for the ‘yob’ politics of modern Britain; let’s not give him more power than he deserves.

7 Rachel April 4, 2008 at 9:06 am

Cara, thank you for talking about an aspect of rape that most want to sweep quietly and quickly under the carpet.

8 Cara April 4, 2008 at 9:50 am

isn’t it a little misleading to call Erikson a “British Politician” when the BNP has never had a seat in parliament and 0.7% of the vote is the highest the PARTY has ever received.

Do you have a better suggested description? It’s my understanding from the article that this guy had a genuine shot at a win, and he was clearly important enough to warrant some sort of investigation by a newspaper and a lot of press once he was revealed. I’d be surprised if any old moron on the ballot with no chance of electoral success got so much coverage.

9 Feminist Avatar April 4, 2008 at 10:08 am

The BNP represent in the British imagination our worst nightmare and what we all secretly think that the people who are not like us actually think. Probably because what they think is actually a natural progression from our own positions. So, immigration is a contentious issue and many British people think it should be curbed, but nobody would suggest that all people with a different colour of skin should be sent ‘home’- the BNP say this.

Because we know that this is the logical conclusion of our debates and arguments, it makes us very nervous and so a minority group loom large in the public mind. It is also exasperated with their close affiliation to Nazi thought. The Nazi’s are still an important part of political discourse in Britain. We reject them, but because we refuse to acknowledge the place of fascism in our own politics, we cannot refute them entirely- because we cannot refute them, we worry that we might vote in their equivalent.

I suppose you could equate it to stranger rape. The fact is stranger rape makes up a tiny percentage of all rapes, but because we don’t want to deal with the bigger picture, we focus on this small group of crimes. It’s the same thing with the BNP. They represent a bigger, less obviously problematic, problem that we don’t want to address.

So yes, people will talk about the BNP as if they are just on the cusp of taking power, but this is an exageration.

The definition of politician, I think, might be different in the US from the UK. We only grant you that title if you have been voted into power- everybody else is a political wannabe.

10 patrick April 4, 2008 at 1:09 pm

Thanks for the feedback. Interesting stuff. Regardless of anything else this Erikson creep is a serious asshole so I’m down with slagging him.

“The definition of politician, I think, might be different in the US from the UK. We only grant you that title if you have been voted into power- everybody else is a political wannabe.”

I’d say that holds true in Canada as well.

11 Cara April 4, 2008 at 1:44 pm

Eh, upon further looking at it, “British political organizer and candidate” would have probably been more accurate. But as a major/prominent party organizer and as one of their candidates, I think that “politician” is more or less acceptable shorthand.

12 eruvande April 4, 2008 at 2:07 pm

Even years after the supposed offence took place they can waltz into a police station and destroy a man’s life without a shred of evidence.

Oh, in the short day since I’ve looked at teh interwebs, did the stats for rape convictions magically shoot through the roof? Because when I left my computer yesterday, women’s rape allegations were still not being taken seriously. I suppose I should be…happy?

Fuck this guy.

13 yazikus April 4, 2008 at 5:51 pm

Reading through his blog (painful though it was) I noticed an interesting theme in several entries.
Whenever parenting came up he seemed to go by 3 basic tenets
1. “Women are for bearing, men are for rearing.”
2. Women are ruining families becase they are working instead of staying at home with the children.
3. In a custody dispuit, the children should obviously go to the father because his parenting is more important.

Am I crazy, or does he really believe any of that makes sense????
How do people fuction with that level of doublethink?
Sorry for ranting- Cara, I’ve not posted before but am an avid reader of your blog, thanks for all of your work!

14 GallingGalla (fka RachelPhilPa) April 5, 2008 at 12:58 pm

Cara, thank you for putting the physical-pleasure thing in the open. My sexually abusive former partner never did anything that physically hurt, and most of the time he got me to have an orgasm, so, yes, there was a few moments of physical pleasure. But that took place within a fog of dissociation that I had to create for myself.

It’s not something that I ever talk about for exactly the fears that you mention. Nor do I talk about why I stayed with him so long.

And this:

The crime of rape is the imposition on another person’s body. The crime of rape is taking away another person’s right to make their own decisions, deciding what will and will not happen to their bodies. The crime of rape is failing to respect personal boundaries and enacting your will on another.

This is also the fundamental definition of torture (with the added intent of causing physical or psychological pain or terror), and hence, this is why I consider torture to be rape.

15 Depresso April 5, 2008 at 3:01 pm

Arrived at this late, as I felt I wanted to take a little time to steel myself before attempting even a short peek at his blog. It appears to have been deleted! Whether blogger pulled it, or Eriksen (oh the irony of a BNP member having what is clearly such a good, British name!) has deleted himself, I couldn’t tell you.

16 Cara April 5, 2008 at 3:09 pm

Ha, you’re right! What cowards.

17 Lilith July 27, 2008 at 5:26 pm

No matter who is saying it or who is hearing it; NO MEANS NO!!!!!

18 ashley July 27, 2008 at 11:57 pm

This is a brilliant article, which has opened my eyes to some confusion I have been having. A couple of weeks ago my partner ‘went down’ on me completely out of the blue. I wasn’t in the mood for sex at the time but I did become sexually aroused against my better judgement and ended up having full sex. I’m very confused, have I been raped? My head tells me no, but my heart says i dont know! I do feel uncomfortable about the incident. Any advice welcome! thnx!

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