Meet Jessie’s Rapist

Rated REditor’s Note: This video has been identified by the Jewrotica staff as containing content that may be triggering for some readers. This type of content may include sexual assault, questionable consent, abuse of any kind, self-harm, or violence.

Videographer Jessie Kahnweiler sent me her most recent video clip just over a month ago: “I wanted to pass along my new short a dark comedy “meet my rapist“. If it speaks to you at all I’d appreciate any love you could give tweet/share etc.” I am, of course, always happy to get a head’s up about any of Jessie’s videos. Her “Dude, Where’s my Chutzpah?” series was an epic romp through Jewish people hood. But this was different, a dark comedy about rape? So I watched the clip, had a chat with Jessie about the content and then I kind of froze.

A few years back I was seeing a woman who had been a rape victim. As our relationship evolved and we shared more about each other, the subject of the rape inevitably came up. As you can imagine, it was a very delicate subject and I was committed to treating it with the utmost respect, sensitivity and seriousness. I was for sure on my way to the sensitive boyfriend hall of fame! Unfortunately, that’s not quite the way it went down when the subject was finally broached. In fact, I didn’t get a chance to say anything at all. She started talking about it and after one or two sentences she flipped out at me because she felt that my non-verbal cues, i.e. the tilt of my head or the look in my eyes, were not to her liking – not sensitive enough or whatever. I was flabbergasted – I hadn’t said a word! I really cared! And there she was angry at me! I mean really, really angry at me.

This happened again and again to the point where whenever she would bring up the rape or anything having to do with rape, I would freeze and not manifest any response at all so that she wouldn’t get mad at me. The same dynamic manifested itself when it came time to do a write up about Jessie’s video. I mean, I’m a guy. The notion and reality of rape will never affect me in quite the same way as it would a woman. Never mind that I have a Mother and three sisters and many women in my life who I deeply care about. It’s just not the same thing. I mean look at this post so far – I haven’t even really discussed the video and already we have three paragraphs about me and my feelings! Clearly, I suck at this. But still. It’s a pretty powerful video, people should watch it and I’m the one that had a conversation with Jessie about it so I am just going to have to suck it up. Here’s our conversation (unedited):

David: I honestly don’t know where to begin. I mean this is obviously about dealing with rape, and it’s peppiness is a bit (a lot) disconcerting. Which I guess is what you’re going for. Wanna riff off of that?

Jessie: did u watch the whole thing? the tone shifts about halfway through (or maybe it doesn’t)
this is not making rape into a joke or treating it like a casual thing or making it cutesy this is about MY process in how I’ve dealt with my rape since it happened 8 years ago. I am a very open/out there person (I’ve never considered myself repressed) yet making this film has helped me realize that the core of my “process” in getting over this has been DENIAL – I was never NOT okay, even right after it happened. I was trying so hard to be the strong feminist who made lemonade out of shitty fucking rape lemons. I’m not saying this is THE rape story but this is MY story. Frustration was my main inspiration for making this film like “crap dude i know this was a horrible thing but i mean it’s been 8 years. can we please move on?” Therapy, standup, I’d really talked this thing to death but making the film helped me realize that the one thing I had not done is shut the hell up and listen to my soul which was in pain and which NEEDED to feel that pain. As for the comedy, well this harkens back to our DWMC (Dude Where’s My Chutzpah) chat as this is the tone/lens in how i see the world. I’m NOT saying rape is funny but I am saying that life is funny. or at least my life is.

tag, you’re it:)

David: Howdy! So I just showed this movie to a female friend of mine and she walked away seemingly bewildered and pensive. You use a lot of comedic cues – the ever present, creepy, but kinda funny rapist, the sloppy Boss who wants you to keep it out of the office, the self-involved friend, the parents who are a premise for a sitcom… I mean rape is a horrible thing and we want to empathize but all the goofy stuff messes with our heads. What’s up wit that?

Jessie: I’m speaking to what MY process has been like. Which includes alot of bewildering, pensive, and yes even comedic moments. Rape is not funny but life is. If you are having mixed feelings and are uncomfortable while watching that speaks to the reality of how we process trauma. And i also wanna say making this film never made me feel SO Jewish. I’m serious. This is what it means to shine my light.

Well. There you have it. Please don’t anyone yell at me. Can we just talk about this? I for one was most horrified when Jessie said of her rapist in the video “He’s the most important man in my life.” That really made me think about the lingering effects of sexual assault in a way that I hadn’t before. The simplicity of the sentence and the frank way it was stated was more enlightening than hours of after school specials, reams of articles, endless talks and discussions etc. The tone of the video was disconcerting but I imagine the overall message is hopeful and positive. So what did you think?

Founder and editor of Jewlicious, David enjoys contemplating thought provoking issues and terrorizing Jerusalem pedestrians and drivers with his mountain bike. He is not a gun runner nor is he a member of any crime family.

  • Ayo Oppenheimer

    See, David, you can be sweet and tactful. 🙂

    Jessie, thank you for sharing your work with us. What kinds of reactions have you received so far? What kinds of reactions are you hoping for? I’m glad that you reached out to us, and I hope that this piece produces the realizations and thought-provoking conversations that it is meant to spark.

  • Gail

    As a woman who has never been sexually assaulted but has dealt with other trauma, I thought the video was brilliant. I completely got it, as much as someone who has never been in that situation can get it: you’re stronger than this, it doesn’t define you, you will never let that scumbag take away your sense of self. You know that the problem is the rapist and not of the rapee, but at the same time it’s something really big that happened to you that you can’t just logic away. Or at least that’s what I saw.

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