Letting Men Off The Hook For Unacceptable Behavior

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Alex Yarde comments on the satirical petition calling for straight men to be banned from driving, insisting that men truly are capable of controlling their sexual behavior.

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“Educate your children to self-control, to the habit of holding passion and prejudice and evil tendencies subject to an upright and reasoning will, and you have done much to abolish misery from their future and crimes from society.”  ― Benjamin Franklin

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A satirical petition on Whitehouse.gov called “Prohibit Straight Men From Driving” states that because public schools find it necessary to prohibit students wearing tank-tops, tube tops, and shorts that are deemed “too short,” because these could distract male students, we should be careful to regulate situations where any straight male may become distracted by a woman and then become a danger to others. Thus it makes sense to ban straight men from operating vehicles, which weigh thousands of pounds and go at high rates of speed, because a suggestive billboard or a woman whom they deem attractive could cause an accident.

The petition is clever satire and points out the absurdity of the point of certain dress codes. These dress codes propagate the false idea that men, somehow, can’t control themselves and don’t have any obligation to control themselves. Those who perpetuate the “Male Weakness” myth end up being apologists for those men who commit sexual assault and legislators without the imagination to tackle the underlying issues of educating a generation of boys not to rape, as opposed to burdening a generation of girls with the task of avoiding being raped.

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Though dress codes themselves are not necessarily wrong, the intention behind them should have some careful thought behind it. A school which uses dress codes in hopes of restricting gang violence or inappropriate sexual behavior is not going to accomplish much to prevent these things from happening. The problem is most assuredly not what the kids are wearing.

Show me a society that has a restriction on women’s dress and I will show you a society that is not dealing with their sexual assault issues.  In Uganda, the Government is debating the merits of a law that will ban thigh-bearing skirts because the President feels they “provoke” sexual crimes, which are increasing rapidly in the country. Such “decency” laws are common in countries such as Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan in which women must be covered. These laws have little impact on the incidence of sexual assault. Often these societies have high rates of such crimes because there is a lack of a modern education for children about human sexuality. These laws exempt the perpetrators of the crime from any accountability and do nothing to prevent the crime itself.

Unfortunately, the very same issues and attitudes are not unknown in the United States. In the last election, many candidates touted bizarre theories about rape, pregnancy, contraception, abortion, and related topics. U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri infamously stated that pregnancy rarely occurs as a result of what he called “legitimate rape.”  Indiana State Treasurer and U.S. Senate nominee Richard Mourdock said that pregnancy from rape was “something that God intended.” This flawed logic exemplifies a culture that blames victims while simultaneously pardoning their attackers.

It’s wrong. Sexual violence against anyone, male or female is wrong. Full Stop. Rape is about power. Those with power over others need to learn restraint, not be given excuses for inexcusable behavior. Can’t we as a society do better to educate our youth so tragedies like the Steubenville, Ohio rape case don’t occur?

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I remember being raised in a home of compassion and respect for everyone. My mother, being a medical professional, was very matter of fact about human sexuality, which is something I now appreciate. My mother and older sister were important female role models for me growing up. It’s hard when you know better to act as if you don’t.

My dad—though I could tell it made him uncomfortable—spoke to me at length about the importance of being compassionate to one’s intimate partners. No meant no. I was lucky that I had the parents I did and inherited the self-esteem, respect and empathy for others they had. But it seems these are in short supply in many households. Morality doesn’t have a price tag or a zip code. Respect for others should be an important value taught in every home.

We need to have the awkward conversations with our sons. In a country where 1 in 6 women will be assaulted by the time they reach college age, we need to teach young straight males to see women as more than sexy billboards or trophies to acquire. Their own self-worth shouldn’t be measured in notches on a bedpost. They need to realize the women in their lives that mean the most to them are subject to sexual violence.

The prevalence of a culture of rape is inherently misogynist and detrimental to males as well.

Violence aimed at boys is likely to be minimized or dismissed by adults, leading to increased acceptance of bullying. False bravado and conflict with other males trying to be “macho”.

Men feel compelled to prove their dominance over others by using violence. This affects other men disproportionately, since dominance over women is already assumed in many situations. Men are more likely to face a serious physical assault or murder than women, and this violence is almost always at the hands of another man.

Empathy and compassion for others aren’t seen as qualities that are important for young boys or men to cultivate and it repeats the cycle of violence. It’s insidious and self-perpetuating.

All males need to have the courage to speak out, even if it’s as simple as not laughing at a joke that uses rape victims as the punchline. Making rape seem okay by laughing about it “normalizes” attitudes that perpetuate a culture of rape.

It’s not Pollyannaish to assume males can control themselves. It’s what should be expected, isn’t it?

 

Photo: Flickr/Jason

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About Alex Yarde

Alex Yarde is a husband and father living in New Jersey. In earlier times, you could find Alex in New York City teaching outdoor education to the great kids from Erasmus High School in Brooklyn. Today, you can find him on Twitter at @thatalexyarde.

Comments

  1. Eagle35 says:

    OP: “The petition is clever satire and points out the absurdity of the point of certain dress codes.”

    Oh of course, hit-pieces like the petition directed towards straight men is always satire, a joke done with tongue in cheek.

    If the petition were named “Ban all straight women from (insert activity here)” it’d be called hate speech and misoganistic.

  2. Men should be given the same licence to exhibit their bodies too.

    My friend used to wear women’s leggings, and he was stared at, harassed, groped and even stopped by the police because they were so figure hugging.

    Also, remember that photograph of the guy from mad men that revealed his shape that distracted the female media? This myth that women get distracted by seeing men in revealing clothing has to go!

    >Men feel compelled to prove their dominance over others by using violence.

    Are you sure about that? I think its more accurate to say that a small percentage of the human population seeks to dominate and control.

  3. Id just like to correct a misleading statistic .According to the national sexual violence survey its 1/5 women in a lifetime, not before they reach college age.

    Also I disagree with the author, vehemently.Rape isn’t caused by some patriarical conspiracy its caused by deviance, to lecture boys about how they’re potential rapists is extremely sexist and doesn’t do anything to solve sexual violence.

    Pragmatism should be used to address social problems, not ideology. To say that most boys or even some boys need to be “taught” not to rape is grossly offensive and ignores the fact that the amount of rapists in a population is proportionally a drop in a swimming pool.

    If patriarchy isn’t responsible for rape what is? The data shows us that most rapists are of low socioeconomic status who are often victims of sexual/physical abuse themselves most importantly the gendered distinction is that boys externalize their pain while girls internalize their pain.

    An anology can be applied to car thiefs.Should we tell people not to lock their vehicles because “thief’s should be told not to steal”?

    Painting everyone from an identifiable group with a broad brush is dangerous and leads to numerous slippery slopes such as sexism, racism and other forms of discrimination.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      bob, please cite that data.

      I’ve never seen credible data that said that.

      And the car thief analogy is ridiculous. If my car is left unlocked and is stolen, the police still charge the person who stole my car with a crime, the still pursue the thief as they would if I had locked it. They don’t question the validity of my claim of having my car stolen in the first place because I left it unlocked.

      And I have personal experience here. I actually did have my purse stolen from my unlocked car (I’d forgotten to lock it in my driveway like an idiot). They did everything exactly the same as if I had left it locked. They didn’t shame me. They said nothing. They took the report. They called me when my (empty) wallet showed up.

      Silly analogy. Utterly ridiculous.

      • http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/nisvs_report2010-a.pdf

        You missed the point of my anology.This wasn’t victim blaming i’m not saying the person who got their car stolen is at fault.

        What i’m saying is that telling “men not to rape” is myopic as you can’t tell a criminal not to commit a crime,you need to look at the sociological factors contributing to their delinquency.Telling men not to rape won’t solve the problem and will give women a false sense of security.Rape can be combated,however the current approach is misguided and is based upon socio-politcal beliefs.

        The notorious “just say no!” campaigns didn’t prevent kids from experimenting with drugs,what makes you think a similar approach to rape would work?

      • Prevention ia key not victim blaming.Women shouls be aware of what makes them vulurnable to predators however they shouldn’t be blamed for someone elses wrong doing.

      • 1in6.org for boys under 18, unsure about girls under 18 but I would assume a similar number or higher.
        NISVS 2010 has 18.3% of women forced penetration or attempted forced penetration and 1.4% of men reported forced or attempted forced peentration + 4.8% reported made to penetrate. 8% of women and 6.5% of men report sexual coercion. Approx Half of women and 1/4 of men have experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact.

        Basically the reports all say a lot of men and women have been raped, far more have been sexually abused and that society as a whole needs to treat each other with more damn respect!

        “And the car thief analogy is ridiculous. If my car is left unlocked and is stolen, the police still charge the person who stole my car with a crime, the still pursue the thief as they would if I had locked it. They don’t question the validity of my claim of having my car stolen in the first place because I left it unlocked.”

        No crime really could compare to rape because stealing and physical assaults are rarely done consenting, but sex in most cases is consenting but occasionally it’s rape. So for each act of sex, most will be consenting which makes the he-said she-said element of rape convictions very hard to prove. How do they prove if it was consenting or not if it’s just his vs her statement? Seeing as we have a society that doesn’t like to convict innocent people the courts probably err on the side of caution so without enough evidence the alleged rapist walks. Most of the time they probably did commit the crime but no judge really wants to send an innocent to jail so good evidence is required. Signs of struggle will help the case I would guess but a lot of people go limp in the body when in fear, I’ve done that myself in a fight before and I am 6’6, 300lbs+ and could easily have put that person in hospital if my brain let me fight back!

        I would fucking hate to be a prosecutor for rape cases, they sound pretty damn hard to prove because of the nature of sex itself being in most cases a consenting and regular activity (if both are over 18/16/whatever your area’s consent age is). Bruising to the face however is rare as hell unless you’re a boxer so it’s pretty damn easy to prove it wasn’t consenting if someone hits you in the face. Even theft is a non-consenting activity. Short of getting contracts signed and video evidence the conviction rate probably won’t rise all that much sadly…

      • Did you know that rape has a conviction rate comparable to that of other violence crimes?

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          Conviction isn’t the same as bringing charges or even allowing a case to make it to court.

      • Insurance companies will question you and some (can’t say all) won’t cover you if they find out it was unlocked.

        • The analogy is very bad. Frankly, once you’ve come to the point of using insurance companies as your role model in ethical decision making – stop, reflect, rethink…

          Our society has a massive sexuality problem – desire, pleasure, and consent are all taught and dealt with poorly regardless of what angle you’re looking at it from. I feel this article did a good job of outlining how everyone gets hurt in various different ways, and the point that bad behaviour by anyone shouldn’t be excused is pretty much proven. Thanks Alex.

      • Alex Yarde (Author) says:

        @Joanna – Fascinating, topical and frankly disturbing article on women including the threat of Rape in their descision to join the Military. Sex assault scandals affect enlistment http://t.co/ihIApDQoni

    • Alex Yarde (Author) says:

      @ Bob, Thank you for reading my piece. By your own numbers 30 million women in this country will be survivors of sexual assault. Rape is a woefully under reported crime. Still, 30 million sexual assaults is an epidemic. This is a huge number of overwhelmingly male perpetrators it is most certainly not a few “deviants” The burden is upon parents & caregivers whomever helps to raise boys that those in thier charge don’t add to this disturbing statistic.

      • It`s a well known fact that most rapists don`t only attack one victim.They often strike multiple times.

        I found a study with a moderately sized sample which helps bring into context the sociological aspects which are prevalent in rapists.

        http://library.childwelfare.gov/cwig/ws/library/docs/gateway/Record?rpp=10&upp=0&m=1&w=+NATIVE%28%27recno%3D64336%27%29&r=1

        “In contrast to child sexual abusers, rapists reported more frequent experiences of physical abuse (68%), parental violence (78%), emotional abuse (70%), and cruelty to animals (68%). Both child sexual abusers and rapists (>93%) reported frequent exposure to violent media during their childhood. Most offenders (94%) described having insecure parental attachment bonds; 76% of rapists reported avoidant parental attachments and 62% of child sexual abusers reported anxious parental attachments.“

        These are not characteristics of normal men.These are characteristics of dysfunctional men that are seperate from the general population.

      • > Rape is a woefully under reported crime.

        This has a lot to do with the fact that events that are technically rape are collected in statistical data that aren’t considered rape or serious enough to report by the person, for example – someone who wasn’t in the mood, but had sex because their partner was.

        >This is a huge number of overwhelmingly male perpetrators it is most certainly not a few “deviants”

        The Liask / Miller data says its around 6 % of men, that are most likely sociopaths, so it is a few, and they are the deviants.

        Do you really believe that rape is normal male behaviour?

    • Mostly_123 says:

      “Pragmatism should be used to address social problems, not ideology. Rape isn’t caused by some patriarical conspiracy its caused by deviance, to lecture boys about how they’re potential rapists is extremely sexist and doesn’t do anything to solve sexual violence… Painting everyone from an identifiable group with a broad brush is dangerous and leads to numerous slippery slopes such as sexism, racism and other forms of discrimination.” 

      I tend to agree with those sentiments. The counter-argument is, of course, that the scope & scale of the problem is such that it necessitates a broad-base based approach, with preemptive action aimed at the majority of individuals, rather than the relative minority of individuals who commit deviant actions.     

      It’s rooted (arguably) in an ideological belief that holds that the majority (not just the minority) of society is already in need of a profound shift in trajectory, at least where attitudes of gender are concerned. Philosophically, one could argue that this belief in the necessity of taking proactive steps to ‘teach’ people not to rape implicitly suggests that that is something they can’t (or won’t) learn on their own through normal social discourse, and more significantly; the need for correction implies an inherent fault in character or attitude to begin with. So hence, it seems prejudicial.

    • John Anderson says:

      “To say that most boys or even some boys need to be “taught” not to rape is grossly offensive”

      I don’t have a problem with that as much as I have a problem with the idea that this implies that women don’t rape, which is untrue, or much worse that if women rape it’s not detrimental to men and boys so it’s not necessary to address. It may even suggest that it is impossible for a woman to rape a man because he always wants it, which actually negates the author’s premise that men can control their sexual desires.

  4. “Show me a society that has a restriction on women’s dress and I will show you a society that is not dealing with their sexual assault issues”

    I’m not sure if I understand your point. You appear to be apologizing for women’s scantily clad public dress, supporting some school dress codes, yet asking for women to respect men. It’s sounds like a double standard.

    Yes, men can control themselves, if raised with a family who promotes mutual respect.

    Re-read the actual petition again, when are women accountable for their public behaviors? The petition could be turned on women to dress more appropriately and stop promoting female weakness and irresponsibility.

    • The way someone dresses does NOT promote weakness or irresponsability. Come on!
      Men should also wear whatever they want. That does not mean they are disrespecting women, or that they are displaying weakness. Freedom!

  5. Well as a male, yes short skirts were distracting in class but you do reach normalization and it’s not like we all just stare all day at the pretty hot cheerleader or whatever. The mere fact our hormones are in overdrive and there is someone we’re attracted to nearby can be all the distraction in the world, regardless of clothing. There are studies which seem to suggest segregated learning is better for boys but has little effect on girls I think? Could be that the boys are being distracted but my guess is it’s more to do with sexist attitudes passed down by teachers that harm boys progress (the recent girls are smarter phenomenon).

    • And whoever is using distraction as justification for abuse….is at best an ignorant fool and at worst probably an abuser. A woman standing naked next to a man sexually attracted to her will at most turn him on, distract his mind, and that’s it. It won’t turn him into a monster that will grope n abuse her, he’ll simply get an erection and have sexual thoughts most likely. 99.99999999% of men will be able to control themselves, and even those that do go on to abuse are probably making the choice themselves to do the abusing.

    • John Anderson says:

      In class I’ve always had my attention focused on the pretty girl. I also seen to do better, The one engineering class I took, which kicked my ass, had three women in it. None of them were particularly distracting.

  6. Bob, you’re statistics are about reported rape cases in the U.S. Those reported rape cases involve strangers in relationship to the victim. Rape committed by strangers only make a small minority of actual cases. In the majority of reported and unreported rape cases, the majority of the victims were raped by acquaintances, friends, or people that the victims know personally. About 80% of unreported rape cases involve an acquaintance of the victim as the rapist. It is important to tell both sons and daughters to respect others and each other, regardless of what the other person was doing. The only time that you should ever have to lay a hand on someone is for self-defense. You should be able to do what you want with your life, as long as you are not disrespecting others. Want to wear short-shorts and a tank top? Go ahead. In now way, “man”, are you promoting female weakness and irresponsibility by wearing what you want.
    I do think that dress codes need to be enforced in certain places, not just school. It promotes professionalism and decency for both men and women. During your free time, however, that is up for you to decide on what you want to wear.
    I also agree with Joanna–even if your car/house was unlocked during a burglary, the police are still willing to help you without being judgemental, just as they would with a burglary case that didn’t involve anything being unlocked. Victims of sexual violence–both male and female–do not receive the proper care, help, and attention if their cases do not fit law enforcement’s stereotypical version of what they this is sexual assault. You’ll often find that the majority of sexual assault cases do not fit this stereotypical version.
    But I also have to ask–why are we comparing the human body and human dignity to tangible items you can purchase at your nearest retail store? Items that, if stolen, can be easily replaced for the most part? Rape and other forms of sexual assault are not the same thing as burglary and theft–they should not even be placed in the same category. They are several different forms of felonies.
    Also, please check out Project Unbreakable–I think it will change your stereotypical perspectives about sexual assault in Western society.
    projectunbreakable.tumblr.com

    • Self reported,not police reported.If you look at the police reported stats the figure is nowhere near 1/5.Self reported stats take into consideration unreported rapes,but also you have to take into consideration the others forms of sexual offenses counted which are not.It’s not 1/5 women are raped,it’s 1/5 women experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime.

      At this point you’re putting words in my mouth.It was analogy i’m not saying someones mental wellbeing/dignity is a tangible thing that can be stolen,nor was i victim blaming.I was saying women need to be aware of their surroundings,telling men not to rape won’t change the fact that there will still be rapists on the street.You can tell a women to be careful but you can’t tell a rapist not to rape,because he’s a rapist to begin with because he’s violating societies rules.

      I wasn’t talking about the dress code i don’t see why you’re bring it up..

      • I was talking to you and Joanna about that analogy. Your analogy implies that idea that a person’s body is a tangible item, and that sexual assault is the same as burglary or theft of an item–I’m not saying that you felt or said that bodies are the same as tangible items. It’s just what the analogy implies. If that’s not what it implied, then why would you use that analogy.
        I never said that people shouldn’t take precautions either–I was stating that society’s ideas on what are precautions and their effectiveness are unrealistic. A good precaution would be to be aware of your surroundings, obviously. Even if you do take precautions, however, someone can still sexually assault you. As I said, more often than not, it’s someone the victim knows, a friend of the victim, someone the victim thought he/she could trust. A lot of the precautions we set up for preventing women from being raped implies that rapists are strange men hiding in the bushes or in a dark alley, when most of the time, that’s not the case.
        And you don’t have to pass off as a creepy scumbag to be stereotyped as a rapist either. More often than not, it’s the people you would least expect to commit those crimes. Some of the most seemingly moral, seemingly normal people have committed rape. The Steubenville rape case is a good example. That’s why it is important to tell your sons and daughters not to sexually assault or rape, because you can’t just assume that they are “good kids” who would never do such things.
        My dress code statement was a response to the article itself, not to you. I apologize about the confusion.

    • John Anderson says:

      “I do think that dress codes need to be enforced in certain places, not just school. It promotes professionalism and decency for both men and women.”

      In the U.S. dress codes also tend to reinforce gender norms. I’ve never seen a dress code where men have had as many options as women (women can wear pants, but men can’t wear skirts, etc.) nor have I seen a dress code where men have had fewer requirements than women (men must wear collared shirt with tie. Women just collared shirt / blouse, etc.). If there is no problem with a discriminatory dress code within a company barred by law from discrimination, why should there be a problem with a discriminatory dress code outside a company?

  7. Will Best says:

    Personally I am all for dress codes. It makes sense in a modern day environment where I can be charged for sexual harassment when making a comment to one person and having it overheard by a hyper sensitive 3rd party. My eyes should have the same rights to not be inadvertently offended as their ears.


    Uganda is a different culture. You show great disrespect for their culture and their beliefs by mocking their president’s assertions that women can provoke rape. Unless you are an expert on Uganda having spent at least a decade of your life there getting to know the ins and outs of their culture you should refrain from commenting on their beliefs.

    Same goes for middle east countries which you feel are just as backwards.

    Your parallel to the US is rather unjust as well. Both those candidates were soundly defeated in conservative states in elections that democrats had no business winning precisely for their verbal diarrhea on this topic.


    “This flawed logic exemplifies a culture that blames victims while simultaneously pardoning their attackers.”

    Mourdock’s comment clearly has nothing to do with victim blaming or pardoning the attacker, it is intellectually lazy to lump him in with Akins.

    By any definition of sexual assault I have been a victim 3 times. The crotch grab by drunk girls in clubs these days is pretty pervasive. And if you want to add in butt and chest groping that number climbs to over a dozen. Now they are typically harmless in the sense that if I needed to subdue my assailant that wouldn’t be an issue for me and a dirty look is generally enough to get them to stop even if they are not remorseful or even offended that I didn’t appreciate their “friendliness”

    If the stats you cite are even remotely accurate it has everything to do with the loss of respect the genders have for each other. And it probably has a lot to do with the psychology associated with teaching young boys that young girls can handle themselves and are equal to them in every way.

    You might say that is ridiculous but then again we haven’t been teaching children this way very long. Keep in mind that millennials are pretty much the first and only generation to come of age in the modern equality environment.

  8. ogwriter says:

    Hell, I went to Catholic school and you better believe that many girls figured out ways to dress sexually, even with a dress code. The most popular was the skirt roll. The girls, under no pressure from the boys, would roll their skirts up at the waist so that it was mini skirt height. The skirt could be easily let down when nuns were around or during dress code check. Nature will take it’s course, regardless what the “progressives” say or do. Do we really want our daughters dressing like Madonna, while they deny their emerging feelings of lust and desire? That’s progress?

    • Progress is teaching girls they don’t need to look sexy. And that boys could look sexy if they wanted to.
      Many cultures have both sexes being sexy. Many cultures have both sexes’s bodies not sexualized. Double standards will always bring pain.

  9. Mostly_123 says:

    “U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri infamously stated that pregnancy rarely occurs as a result of what he called ‘legitimate rape.’  Indiana State Treasurer and U.S. Senate nominee Richard Mourdock said that pregnancy from rape was ‘something that God intended.’ This flawed logic exemplifies a culture that blames victims while simultaneously pardoning their attackers.”

    I must say I find it deeply insulting (and disheartening) that these people, burdened with such a profoundly abundant ignorance are the ones being held up as an ‘exemplar’ of anything. As an autonomous individual and a North American citizen, I never relish being judged (fairly or unfairly) by comparison to the least of my brothers and sisters.

    I would not presume to fully understand the -shall we say- strained & contorted ‘logic’ of an Akin or a Mourdock, but I think it’s inaccurate to say that it’s rooted in a ‘culture’ of blaming the victim and a desire to ‘pardon the attacker’ (‘pardoning attackers’ seems to have nothing to do with their ideological calculus). Their views, I would argue, are rooted in an irrevocable religious stance (bordering on tunnel vision) that perceives abortion as THE sin of sins; and all their ‘logic’ on pregnancy, rape and the like are simply reverse-engineered to justify this anti-abortion stance that they believe is mandated by their religion’s position. If (in their thinking) abortion is evil & unethical, they have to rationalize not just a reason WHY it is evil & unethical, but also why it is ‘unnecessary’, tangibly impractical, & undesirable in some way. This is to satisfy the desire to appeal to ‘logic’ and ‘reason’  and ‘rationality’ instead of just simple religious or ethical fervor (which is ironic & counterproductive because their whole position is derived & built upon a specific religious standpoint). Inevitably, such attempts fail (spectacularly) and they end up discrediting their own position more than anything else. It’s not a good rhetorical spot to be in when one is trying to reverse-engineer reality to match the intangibles of their philosophy or religion- particularly when it is bound to infringe upon the liberties & and different moral convictions of others. But I can’t imagine Akin or his ilk happily conceding that their position is built largely upon subjective, unprovable, faith-based assumptions and convictions. When a person senses that they are ‘right’ they want to prove it by justifying it to others and demonstrably  showing that they are ‘right’ – human nature.  

  10. ogwriter says:

    …lets see if the moderators can handle criticism put this way. Why so often does this site present information that ignores the well known realty that women commit rape? That is precisely what this article does. We know that lesbian’s commit rape as do straight women and bisexual women. We also know that rape and domestic violence are problems in all groups in America. Simply put, rape that happens to straight women is not, by far, the only dynamic that exist. Yet, this article and many others I have read on GMP and elsewhere ignore all of these facts. Why? I don’t get it.
    This is dangerous because this narrow definition, which isn’t true, funnels all of the attention away from the real problem, which is the prevalence of rape in American culture. Why?

    • John Anderson says:

      Isn’t hiding the fact that women commit rape too and hiding and denying the scope of the problem contributing to “rape culture”? I find it ironic that articles like this can purport to challenge rape culture while simultaneously supporting it.

  11. ogwriter says:

    ohh MY BAD! I didn’t see my PREVIUOS POST IRONIC!?

    • og, When are you going to teach me to dance? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK2HANwsUWgI I think the lyrics are wonderful too.
      La Bamba Lyrics (Spanish)
      1. Para bailar la bamba
      2. Para bailar la bamba
      3. Se necesita una poca de gracia
      4. Una poca de gracia para mi para ti
      5. Arriba y arriba
      6. Arriba y arriba
      7. Por ti seré
      8. Por ti seré
      9. Yo no soy marinero
      10. Yo no soy marinero
      11. Soy capitán
      12. Soy capitán
      13. Soy capitán

  12. Mostly_123 says:

    Alex, I agree with you that it’s a perfectly reasonable expectation to have that men (collectively or individually) ‘control themselves.’ But that, after all, is beside the point. To quote Teddy Roosevelt: “Obedience of the law is demanded, it’s not asked as a favor.”   

    I disagree with some of the gendered generalities you’ve used to arrive at and justify that conclusion:

    “Empathy and compassion for others aren’t seen as qualities that are important for young boys or men to cultivate and it repeats the cycle of violence… All males need to have the courage to speak out, even if it’s as simple as not laughing at a joke that uses rape victims as the punchline. Making rape seem okay by laughing about it ‘normalizes’ attitudes that perpetuate a culture of rape.”

    An individual may be miseducated, an individual my act admirably or abhorrently, and in the end it is still an individual who makes ethical & aesthetic choices. So I worry that by linking this (good & proper & perfectly reasonable) desire for accountability with gender (and, more crucially, generalizations about gender) we’re perpetuating gender stereotypes. The issue, it would seem, is not gender (or even gendered presumptions) at all, but rather, self-control and individual responsibility. And that is rooted in autonomy; not gender generalizations. One might try to enforce control collectively, but in the end, it’s practiced (or not practiced) individually.

    If you want people to fight stereotypes, to act individually; to act as conscionable, ethical, rational individuals, then it would seem logical to me that you first have to treat them AS individuals. We are all more than stereotypes and statistics. What engenders and perpetuates empathy is not ‘not laughing’ at the right jokes, or at the wrong jokes. 

    What perpetuates empathy, is empathy.

    More often than not, genuine empathy is felt and expressed individually (even sometimes randomly or arbitrarily- which would seem to be counterintuitive to most ideologies) not collectively, even though both kinds are laudable. For example, the sympathy & empathy I might feel for, say, the victims of a state-wide flood is very different from the sympathy & empathy I might feel for an individual who is a victim of that same flood. Approaching issues (like gender politics) inevitably results in people looking at each other collectively and ideologically. And that erodes trust & empathy, it doesn’t build it; collectively or individually. Preaching to the choir never expands the choir.     
     
    Fundamentally, we are not a ‘culture of crime’ or ‘violence’, we are a culture of individuals, -usually disparate individuals- some of whom will act violently or criminally, while the majority do not. We are a culture that accepts crime, insofar as we accept individual autonomy- western liberal tradition is to punish crime individually, not collectively, nor preemptively.       

    Everybody often feels obligated to cite statistics (nice & tangible & quantifiable numbers are) looking at gender AFTER the fact as the arc of commonality (victims are ‘x’ victimizers are ‘y’) and citing gender attitudes, idiosyncrasies & stereotypes that they don’t like before the fact. But the real commonality is that the majority of people (both men and women) are neither victims nor victimizers. 

    It’s somewhat misleading when people say We need to teach people ‘this'” (whatever the ‘this’ may be), when the majority of the people are already practicing that ‘this.’ And it’s somewhat inaccurate to say “we need to teach young straight males to see women as more than sexy billboards or trophies to acquire. Their own self-worth shouldn’t be measured in notches on a bedpost. They need to realize the women in their lives that mean the most to them are subject to sexual violence” as though we have all collectively NOT tried, and all collectively NOT succeeded, before today (or if we have, then it’s somehow the distant exception, and not the rule). You talk passionately about how progressive your own background & upbringing was- yet you do not cite yourself as the archetypal male experience- why the heck not?- It certainly sounds like you believe that this SHOULD be. Well, who’s to say your experience & attitudes as a male ARE any less valid, or any less typical?  

  13. Mostly_123 says:

    “Can’t we as a society do better to educate our youth so tragedies like the Steubenville, Ohio rape case don’t occur?”

    With all due respect, there’s something very rhetorical about that- 

    As though, when individuals act abhorrently, it’s ‘because of our society’

    And when individuals are raised in a environment of compassion and respect it’s ‘in spite of our society’

    I can’t speak for society, but I think if that is so, then it would probably like equal credit for its victories, as well as its failures.

  14. John Anderson says:

    “The prevalence of a culture of rape is inherently misogynist and detrimental to males as well.”

    So the CDC estimated that 1,267,000 men were “forced to penetrate another” (in other words raped) on 2009 as compared with 1,270,000 women who were raped. 80% of men reported a female perpetrator. The BJS reported that 80% of staff rapes in adult prison and 90% in juvenile prison were female staff raping male prisoners with 50% or more of the rapes being staff on prisoner in both cases.

    So how exactly is women raping men and boys in staggering numbers a sign of misogyny? I would think that if there was a “rape culture” shielding female rapists from culpability through silence and minimizing their transgressions would qualify as rape culture.

  15. ogwriter says:

    Dress codes are a commonly accepted feature in society and it appears as though people only get upset about them if there isn’t any benefit to conforming. Doctor’s dress like doctor’s, l lawyers dress like lawyers, and so forth.
    If one were to dress like a clown and showed up in court to defend one’s client, it would be out place and inappropriate. The same could be said of dressing up specifically to get attention from the opposite sex rather than to be taken seriously as a student, an emerging intellectual, who is in charge of their emotions, needs and desires. The very idea that there is no such thing as dressing appropriately is strangely ludicrous.
    When girls or women dress to get attention-good and bad- from men and boys and deny it, which is common, it creates all sorts of problems for society.
    Can or should boys and girls be expected to know how to control sexual emotions that they have never felt before? Grown ups can’t do that.Seems strange to expect children to do so. As responsible adults we should set limits-its our job to do so. If that means a dress code, so be it.

    • ogwriter, Precisely. It is not the media’s job to tell children what is appropriate to wear to the beach. Nor is it the school’s responsibility to tell children what is appropriate to wear to school, nor is the government’s responsiblity to make laws about what is appropriate to wear in public. It is the parent’s and individual’s responsibility to manage one’s sexuality and appropriateness in society.

      If our society at large is worried about sexual imagery on billboards, hold advertisers accountable.
      If society at large is worried about sexual assault, teach your children to dress more conservatively.
      If society at large is worried about teen pregnancy, hold public officials responsible for billboards depicting images of pregnant boys.
      If our society at large is worried about the guy who wore a Nazi uniform to court last week, hold him accountable for inappropriatenss.

      It’s not victim-blaming. It called personal responsibility. At the end of the day, who is responsible for our children, our choices, and our society? Inside your home you can wear a clown outfit and a g-string bikini, but in public there is responsibility to others. Otherwise, the govt will put us all in little grey uniforms…ehem, I mean a dress code.

      • “If society at large is worried about sexual assault, teach your children to dress more conservatively”
        What? I can’t believe someone still believes what you wearing is what is making you get raped. Really. That is a shame. And unforttunately, almost always comes from a man.
        That is almost offensive to all the tribal societies worldwide – many of them walk around naked, so if any of them ever gets raped we need to tell them to dress up! Because of course, the cause of rape is the lack of “decend” appearal. Oh, and let’s never allow our children to ever go outside with less clothes as well – because you know, that will be your responsability if a pedophile gets to them.

        If anything, that should be called personal awareness. But even then, you would be wrong. Because really, you have NO responsability (fault) of any crimes that could happen to you, and sexual assault happens because of… sexual deviants, that is all. “Responsability to others”… do you feel like sexually assaulting someone if they are wearing a bikini? If someone thinks that is bad, they could look away.

    • Many women dress “appealing” because that is what they learn to wear in our society. Not all these women want attention from the opposite sex, come on. Not all women are even straight for that matter – and lesbians – or asexuals! – also dress appealing a lot of times. Many guys wanted to be more showy, but they are oppressed.

      “When girls or women dress to get attention-good and bad- from men and boys and deny it, which is common, it creates all sorts of problems for society.”
      Is the denying part what is creating “all sorts of problems for society”? And what are all these problems, could I know? So you believe girls and women dress to get BAD attention from men and boys?

  16. I agree that violence against boys is minimized, and not punished. I remember when I was aged 9 -11, the other boys in my class could push me over, and kick me with impunity, but as soon as anyone hit a girl (the girls were bigger than us at this age) it was the worst thing that ever happened, and we were all punished.

    Violence against boys matters because boys get hurt.

    We don’t need to bring in cycles of violence, and caring about the damage that violent men cause. We need to care about the little boys.

  17. Mr Supertypo says:

    interesting….

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