I want to thank wulfsdottir for linking me to cereta 's post about rape culture and what men can do to help change it, and I really ask that all my readers check it out, and read the comments too, because the post is good, and the comments are mind-blowing. I laughed, I cried, I ached, I screamed (internally, since I was reading some of it at work), I clenched the fist of death. Men, I love you, but I need you to do this - speak out when you hear (or see, such as on the Intarwebs) a man making jokes about rape, when you hear a man denigrating a woman because she won't do what he wants, in fact, whenever you see or hear women being treated as less than fully autonomous beings with full control over their bodies.
Why? Because we need you to be That Guy (read the post! I'll wait!). We need it so, so bad. For a good example on the web of That Guy, check out Richie at Crimitism, who has suffered the slings and arrows from speaking up, and came out, not only whole, but a better person at the end. We need you to be our supporters because the culture that sets women up as second best, that makes rape somehow about sex and "getting laid" instead of domination and subjugation (why do you think straight men rape in prison? Clue: It's not about sex), tells men that unless she's kicking and screaming she's consenting, and frames rape as "what women do wrong" instead of "what men do wrong", makes it impossible for women to speak and be heard. It's easy to dismiss a woman if you think of her as not fully human, but it's a little harder when your buds are saying "dude, that is not cool". We need you to be the one saying "dude, that is not cool".
Is it easy? Fuck no. But we want the men we love and like, the men who are our lovers and our friends, to have our backs. To see us as people worth defending. To be people we can trust to speak up for us when we are not being listened to. And sometimes, that means putting yourself in an uncomfortable position. But, as cereta says, what is more important - protecting yourself from feeling like a buzzkill, or protecting us from humiliation, rape and death?
I know some of you want to argue with me right now. That you're already stopping and hitting the "comment" button, and that you want to bring out the same arguments that come out every time I write about women's harassment, like this, and this, and this, and this. I'd like you to pause, though and think for a moment. Do you really think I've never heard any of the arguments before? Do you suppose that there's a happy place where women go to talk about this stuff where no-one ever tries to derail the argument into comments about tone, or how shit happens to men too, or that it's really not such a big deal because they don't think it is, so no-one else can, or that we're all being paranoid or over-reacting, or hysterical, or that it's a compliment when someone won't take no for an answer?
We hear this all our lives. From day one. As soon as the subject comes up, we hear it. Frequently, we don't even get to say our part, because someone is talking louder than us in an effort to get us to shut up about the icky subject. We're supposed to smile, and be sweet, and not cause problems. And if anyone says it isn't like that, I would remind you of the comments that come out of the woodwork any time a man people know is accused of doing something inappropriate - the comments of "it's not a big deal", "she didn't say no really loudly, so it's okay", "I've never seen that behaviour, so it can't have happened", "she's just a slut", "it's her fault for being provocative/drinking/wearing that" or the trump card of "they're making it up - women lie about this stuff all the time". All the comments designed to shut women up, and preserve the status quo.
Rape culture? We're swimming in it. And many, if not most, women are barely keeping their noses above water. Many drown. So, even though it's uncomfortable to think about, consider cerata 's post, and mine. And think about the women you know, and how you say you want to defend them from bad things. Listen to what they're saying, even if it makes you scared. And think about the fact that 1 in 3 women is sexually assaulted at some point in their lives, and 100% deal with men who think that they have an absolute right to touch and take women's bodies. That means that statistically, there's a good chance that a third of the women you know have been assaulted, and every single one of them has been felt up or otherwise forced to deal with threatening, coercive, or unwanted sexual attention. I'm not telling you to be That Guy, because I don't have the power to do a damned thing. I'm begging you, for the sake of women everywhere, who deal with the fear of men and what men can do every day. Speak up - you don't have to be Batman, just the guy that says "dude, not cool".
One in three women. One in three. How many women do you know?
Think you don't know anyone who has been raped?
If you read this blog, you do.