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Thoughts on Men and Rape

A week or two back, I mentioned wanting to write about sexual assault awareness month. Something strange happened with that post. Almost immediately, a handful of comments trickled in saying, in essence, "You're a good man for doing this, Jim."

My ego enjoys a compliment as much as anyone else's, and I'm not trying to critize the people who offered them. But ... I didn't actually do anything. I posted a phone number and mentioned I'd be writing something. Eventually.

The more I think about it, the more it pisses me off. How pathetic is it that, in our culture, the only thing you have to do to be a good guy is say, "Hey, one of these days I'll write something about rape." Even that sort of vague, empty comment about rape is enough to make you stand out. Because that's already more than most guys seem willing to say or do.

I noticed the same thing when I worked with Take Back the Night years ago. Practically all I had to do was show up, and I was some sort of freaking hero.

Because rape is a women's issue. A woman's odds of being raped are around 1 in 3 or 1 in 4, if you compile the various studies and statistics. A man's odds are significantly less. Maybe 1 in 7? 1 in 10? Even so, we don't talk about that (except to joke about dropping the soap in prison). So let the women worry about it. Not our problem.

No, wait. That's not entirely accurate. Now that I think about it, nearly every time I went to talk to a group of men about rape issues, whether it was a fraternity or a dormatory gathering, the men were worried about rape. Not about their girlfriends or sisters or mothers or friends being raped, of course. No, they wanted to know what they should do if a girl lied about a rape in order to punish them. Because every one of them knew a friend of a friend whose cousin's buddy had been falsely accused of rape, so that's what we really needed to worry about.

In my role as an advocate and educator, I had to behave professionally and deal with those questions. Here on my blog? I'm just going to come out and offer those folks a big ol' cup of STFU.

Don't misunderstand me. False accusations of rape do happen. I watched one play out in the local paper here years ago. And believe me, the justice system went after that accuser for daring to commit such a heinous crime against a man.

I don't personally know anyone who's been falsely accused of rape. The people I know personally who've been raped? I've lost count. Mostly women, but I'm friends with some male survivors as well. People I care about. People I love.

And you know what the funny thing is? In almost every single case, the one who raped them was a guy. Not 100%, but up there in the ninety-plus percent.

But of course, that's not our problem. So long as none of those girls try to punish us by playing the rape card, we've got nothing to worry about. Besides, I'm no rapist, so what more do you want? Teach the girls not to get drunk or walk alone or lead guys on, and they'll be fine.

I love that logic. I never raped anyone, so it's not my problem, and I don't have to worry about it. But have you ever wondered why such an overwhelming majority of rapists are men? Ever wonder where guys get the idea they're allowed to do that to another human being? I'll give you a hint. Step one in learning to rape? Learn to see your victim as a thing, rather than a person.

But like I said, none of this is our problem as guys. None of us have ever contributed to the idea that women are objects, things to be ogled and grabbed and used. None of us have ever laughed along with the demeaning jokes, or watched one of our buddies work to get a girl drunk in order to get her into bed. None of us have made excuses for a man who grabs a woman's breast without permission. Oh, no. None of us have done a damn thing.

Forgive me if I sound a little bitter. Let's just say that after you sit there in a closed room with one of your best friends who's screaming because she just bumped into her rapist a few minutes ago, it becomes harder to worry about the guys feeling picked on because I was so rude as to suggest maybe this is our problem too.

---

Two closing thoughts that didn't really fit into my post, but are important to mention anyway.

1. Ever notice how often we talk about how someone was raped? When was the last time you heard it phrased, "Someone raped her." Because of course, the latter construction puts the responsibility on the rapist. It isn't something that just happens. It's something a person chose to do.

2. Rapists choose to rape. Nothing you do -- nothing you wear, nothing you drink, nothing you say -- nothing makes that choice for them. If someone raped you, it wasn't your fault. End of story.

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Comments

cuthulu
Apr. 22nd, 2008 02:45 pm (UTC)
Personally, if a guy is so afraid that his partner will make a false accusation, but still insists on having sex with someone he doesn't trust, I can't say I have much sympathy for his fears.


...Isn't that like saying if a woman doesn't trust that man she just met at the bar but gets into the car with him anyway to drive her home, I can't say I have much sympathy for her fears? Or if a woman hangs out with, gets drunk with, and gets all make-outie with a guy she doesn't fully trust, then we shouldn't have any sympathy for her fears if he pulls something?

Goose and Gander, Jim.

Not saying either act is more right or more wrong, a crime, is a crime, is a crime and should be dealt with harshly. This coming from someone who supports forced castration on rapists, I can't say we should turn a blind eye toward false accusers.

I wanted to stay out of this thread...damn.

jimhines
Apr. 22nd, 2008 02:58 pm (UTC)
Nobody here is saying we should turn a blind eye toward false accusations.

What I am saying is that I'm really fucking tired of men popping up in discussions of rape, not to talk about the fact that a quarter of the women out there are being raped (generally by men), but instead to switch the conversation over to the fact that every once in a while some guy might maybe possibly be falsely accused.

Read what I wrote. I have no sympathy for his fears. In the extremely rare situation that someone actually is falsely accused? Then yes, that's a crime that deserves to be punished, and I would sympathize with that. But this paranoia that insists on turning every conversation on rape into a "What about the poor men?" issue? No, not a hell of a lot of sympathy there.
cuthulu
Apr. 22nd, 2008 03:30 pm (UTC)
This is why I didn't want to get involved in this conversation. You're pretty passionate about this, and now I've pissed you off, wasn't what I was intending.

Keeping in mind that I like your journal and have no wish to get banned, I'm just going to respectfully back off.

Maybe we'll talk about this in person one day.
jimhines
Apr. 22nd, 2008 03:33 pm (UTC)
No worries. I wasn't thinking about a banning, though I was considering freezing the thread if it went too far down this road.

Besides, as if I would dare stay mad at a man with a Cthulhu emblem for a userpic.

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