*Contains what some might consider offensive language.
I’ve written about rape culture before and actively discuss it online. I recognize that there will be no dramatic change in this arena if for no other reason than it is politically expedient for everyone involved to keep the conversation hostile. Yet, at the same time, there is that tiny part of me that wants to believe that if those of us who truly think the right type of thoughts and clap, then the Tinkerbell of gender equity and safety will remain bright and alive.
It should be obvious that eliminating traits in our common language that perpetuates misogynistic treatment and violence against women. That by eliminating these culturally acceptable habits and language patterns would then turn around and hold those who engaged in actual behaviors to a higher standard. But the more rape culture is called out, defined, cited for example, the more insistent some are in clinging to it. And why?
The moment a person or a group of people become defensive and challenge the existence rape culture by utilizing the #notallmen hashtag is when they’ve completely missed the point. Again. Acknowledging rape culture and demanding it stop in our society is not about blame. It’s about saying it happens and it’s wrong. Hiding behind #notallmen is about as effective as saying to cancer awareness advocates, “Not all cells cause cancer so don’t blame us that you’ve experienced some that do.” Or to members of MADD, “We get it. You hate drivers. Don’t get on our cases because we drive sometimes; we’re not all drunks.” Saying no to rape culture is not saying no to penises, but what is indicative of rape culture is how the penises will make it about the men.
It’s also not about fear. Rape culture awareness is attempting to eradicate our social contexts of circumstances before fear is even a possibility. Rape culture has been mansplained to me that it doesn’t actually exist, what does exist is a “heightened fear awareness” to force women to be paranoid of every look, comment, touch, or written word from a man. This was in response to the recent video made as a demonstration of the many catcalls a woman will receive while walking on a busy street. Of course, the actress in this video has now received actual rape threats for even making the video so there really is no validity to the claim of paranoia. When I reached out to this same man for a follow-up comment, he responded with “Fuck you, cunt!”
This comment made me curious. I am cognizant of rape culture as it appears around me in the media whether it be advertising, music, movies, social media and so forth. But how aware am I when it happens to me personally? I didn’t want to purposely antagonize people, so I decided I would just set a start and end date then go back to my social media sites to review not only responses but any advertising that is out, trending topics, and what might be the most popular tweets, etc. might be.
Of course, in the short time I did this, the majority of trending topics and top tweets and Facebook statuses were centered on the newly releasing movie, 50 Shades of Grey. There is already enough written on this topic. However, I do want to focus on two specific situations that stood out to me even though I could write on several.
The first had to do with a local car dealership and what I felt was an offensive advertising banner. After experiencing a rude and dismissive phone conversation with the manager, I shared my grievance on Twitter in a matter of fact way — which I often do when it comes to a business. After the day had passed, I received this tweet in reply:
I didn’t know who this person was or who he was in connection to the car dealership. But according to him I was a “fucking cunt whore” because I complained about this dealership and this upset him.
The other instance occurred when I happened to tweet about rape culture:
— (@) February 4, 2015
This man, again, thought that by explaining to me, the lowly female, that because we now have fewer rapes than before we ought to not worry about rape at all, citing the department of justice. He then calls me a “Social Justice Warrior” (#SJW) — a derogatory term for someone who takes up the social causes of the day to not out of sincere belief but to earn internet popularity points. I informed the man (an avid “gamer” and someone who is actively tweeting on behalf for all male gamers who were wronged in GamerGate, by the way) that he had misinterpreted the data wrong. In fact, more than 200k rapes went unreported each year between 1994-2005 alone and that new statistics were not yet available. I also informed him that this was from the Bureau of Justice, not the Department of Justice. He never responded to me. Apparently, he is only able to confront Social Justice Warriors — not real warriors.
My conclusion so far is this one: men rely two types of attacks on women when wanting to undermine a woman. The first is attacking credibility through sexually explicit terms. When the first man tweeted me outraged about my disagreement with the car dealership, he did not not first listen to my experience and then either disqualify or disagree with it. He immediately attacked my character by calling me a whore in one of the most sexually graphic ways, not caring it was in a public forum. I wasn’t a person to him, I was just a whore with a whore with a cunt to fuck. Therefore my opinion was worthless. Why am I even talking? The second experience illustrates a man who attacks using the patronizing mansplaining. I obviously can’t care deeply enough about a social cause or know enough about an issue to honestly advocate as a woman for other women. I need to a man to provide me with the truth data and then through that information be told that this is not a valid social cause — after all, rape statistics are on the way down, right? So why are we even worrying our pretty little heads? Why should we be fretting over the few women, children and men still being victimized across the country if the numbers show that this isn’t happening?
Of course, there are many other experiences I have not included but do not negate rape culture’s existence. There was the time I was called a slut because I wouldn’t respond to a man’s request for a nude picture — which doesn’t even make sense to me. Another time when I was called a cock tease because I responded with “Fine, thank you. How are you?” when a man asked me how I was doing. The list goes on.
Does rape culture exist? Of course it does. Anyone who says it doesn’t is either a fool or is deliberately myopic. The fact we even have to have a conversation about whether or not it is okay for a legislator to question consent by a spouse is evidentiary that rape culture exists.
Our culture needs to spend less time being critical of what’s between women’s legs and spend more time considering what is between their ears. I don’t care if not all men do it. I do care if they all stop allowing it.