Wednesday, September 19, 2012

[Trigger Warning] Rape is Rape and How Men Can Stop It

Crossposted from the Rogue Scholars Society
By Carlos M. Camacho

Courtesy of James Guppy

Rape is the only crime in which the victim becomes the accused.
Freda Adler

I am a feminist. This means that I believe sexism is a problem and that I am willing to work to solve it. Further it means that I support equality for women. That said I am appalled by the actions of elected officials with regards to women in particular during the past few months. Not just politicians, but men overall have been getting into trouble for doing some deplorable things. More on that later.

Nancy Campos and I have both discussed some aspects of women's oppression recently. Nancy informed us that it can "cost anywhere from $500 to $3000 a year to be a woman who takes care of her vaginal health (this does not include other important female health needs, such as mammograms, prenatal care, etc.)". Women make less than men in terms of their wages with Black and Latina women making less than white women. Women in the US hold 15% of senior management positions compared to a global average of 20%. Women perform 66% of the world’s work, receive 11% of the world’s income, and own ONLY 1% of the world’s land. Gender-based violence kills one in three women, and causes more death and disability among women aged 15-44 than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents, and war. More than 3 women and 1 man, on average, are murdered by their intimate partners in the US daily.

Courtesy of Feminists United
Clearly it is tough being a woman around the world and you may be asking what the above has to do with rape. It is the context within which rape takes place. It also begins to describe the state of women in the US. The above is not nearly a thorough discussion of women in the US and does not take into account the varying effects that race, class, sexual orientation and other intersecting identities have on the state of women today. What I will discuss in this piece is [trigger warning] rape.
Rape is rape. Rape is serious and can cause damage to someone on multiple levels. Recently a select group of US politicians have again made the news talking about a "legitimate" rape and in part as a platform leading towards further restriction of women's health and reproductive rights.

Courtesy of Feminists United
The majority of rape victims are female. This fact alone should be enough to encourage men in particular to tread lightly when discussing rape because it is highly likely they will never be raped (or sexually assaulted). Before proceeding we need to define rape. Recently the FBI updated its definition of rape from "the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will." to "Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim." Based on the FBI's definition, men can be raped, but even taking into account men's under-reporting of rape, women are still the majority. Men will also never become pregnant, and as such do not have to deal with choosing to have an abortion or not (among other options), men deal with little to no street harassment (regardless of dress), and tend to not be afraid to walk alone. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN):
Approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim.
Further, women have to deal with infantilization and more, that men, by virtue of being men, have the privilege of not dealing with. As men, people like Akin, Smith and others also have the privilege of not having to think about women or women's issues, but therein lies the problem (one of many actually). We, as a culture, see rape as a women's issue. We blame women for walking around at night, for drinking, for wearing "short" skirts, "revealing" shirts and more. There was recently the tragic story of [trigger warning] the gang raping of an 11 year old girl. Instead of there being a conversation about changing the way we talk about rape and reconsidering our war on women, we get this: 
"There was an article about an 11 year old girl who was gangraped in Texas by 18 young men because she was dressed like a 21-year-old prostitute," Passidomo declared.
"And her parents let her attend school like that. And I think it's incumbent upon us to create some areas where students can be safe in school and show up in proper attire so what happened in Texas doesn't happen to our students," she added.
Courtesy of Feminists United
Let that sink in for a second. 18 men rape an 11 year old and the message is that we should not have the girl dressing as a prostitute? Because 18 men lack the self control to not rape? Or that her clothing made it okay to ignore her will and the laws?

Courtesy of Feminists United

Shouldn't we be talking to men as the perpetrators? Shouldn't we allow women and girls to wear what they want? Should what they wear change their ability to consent? Shouldn't we redirect the conversation from not getting raped (directed at women) to not raping?


Courtesy of Kevin Lim


If you cannot read the text in the image above it says "you hold the power to stop rape in your hands" which got jokes on some online forums. One viewer of a similar bathroom urinal said this "I'm curious as to how exactly I can use my dick to stop rape, but I'm intrigued by the possibilities. Will it wear a cape?" Someone replied later, "The message I got was "If you see a chick getting raped, stop the rape by raping the other guy." Somehow it escaped these men and others that by holding the power to stop rape, they could do this by NOT RAPING. They are fine joking about light sabers and sword fighting, but they will probably never experience it, as previously discussed, and refuse to acknowledge that as men, they have the power to stop rape by always getting consent, and by not raping. To use the FBI definition, not putting anything or part of themselves inside another person without their consent.
We need to move our energies from don't get raped to do not rape. Men can stop rape by not raping, by getting consent and if they don't have it, stopping any sexual act they may have been trying to commit, by not taking intoxication as a yes, and the list goes on. We also need to have respect for women and see women as equals. We need to stop laughing at rape jokes and sexual assault. Women are more than just sandwich and/or baby making machines, and as we change our views of women, we will also see a change in rape and sexual assaults. When we begin to change the pervasive rape culture of the US, when we see rape for the crime it is and when men begin to have a paradigm shift away from trivializing rape, towards always getting consent and seeing women as equal, then will we be able to end rape and all violence against women and children.

Courtesy of Feminists United
For more information on rape and sexual assault: