Who Will Show the Young Men How to Act?

A soldier wonders why he’s never been told what not to do.

Earlier this week I had a conversation with a friend of mine that raises some interesting questions about leadership.  We were talking about an article by Nikki Brown entitled, “Why Are So Many Good Men Accepting of Rape Culture?”

This is about leadership, silence, enabling behavior, manhood and culture. It’s about what you stand for. And it’s a post that I came by the hard way. I read the article and was talking to my friend about it when she asked me one simple question: “Would you write about Rape Culture on your blog?” I immediately said, “No. It doesn’t belong on my blog.” That argument lasted all of about 30 seconds. You either lead or you don’t. And, well, my blog is about leadership.  How can I run a leadership blog and not talk about an issue such as the sexual assault and rape of a Service member? Especially in an organization comprised mostly of young men? How could I just turn a blind eye to that?

That sort of left me with nowhere to go. I was still uncomfortable with the whole discussion, but now I had to look a lot more carefully at it. I am a man. I have a responsibility to the group I lead. A responsibility to help set, shape, guide, determine, and state the norms of that group. Whether or not I wanted this responsibility is irrelevant. I am a man, and therefore I have an obligation to help determine the acceptable behavior of men. To sit back and let my gender be co-opted by any other group is wrong. To condone the sexual assault and rape and abuse of women through my silence is the same as accepting and condoning racism, or sexism, or stealing, or any other behavior outside the manhood code.

I am also a Soldier. Narrowing down the above requirements of manhood to a particular caste of society. A particular group that operates in a particular way. I have an obligation to outline for them, to help them determine what being a Soldier means. What obligations they face.  What responsibilities are inherent in the oath they took and the uniform they wear.

♦◊♦

This is not really a post about rape or sexual assault. Not really. It’s a post about the message we send when we tell someone that something, anything, is wrong because you might get in trouble if you get caught, versus teaching them that it is simply wrong. Rape and sexual assault are wrong under any circumstances. They are wrong if you never get caught. This is about the difference between protecting someone from themselves and teaching them accountability for themselves.  One builds sheep. The other builds Warriors.

The broader question here is who will lead them? Who will show young men what being a man, being an American, being a Soldier is about? Who will teach them to rise above and accept responsibility for their actions and themselves?  Who will change the argument from “Don’t do this, you might get in trouble.” to “Don’t do this because it is wrong. It is not what men do.”? Who will change the discussion from a fear-based protect-your-ass one to a discussion of what being a Soldier really means?

We stand in front of our formations on a Friday afternoon and tell Soldiers not to drink and drive, not to drink and boat, not to use a BBQ grill inside, not to speed, not to drive on a suspended license, not to get arrested and anything else we can think of, but never say to them, “Don’t rape.  Don’t sexually assault anyone. Ever. Under any circumstances.  Not your wife, your girlfriend, your boyfriend.  No one.  Ever. Oh, and by the way, you are also obligated as a man, to intervene and stop it when it happens. It’s not an option.  It’s part of the code.” Why not?  Why don’t we ever have that conversation?

Why are all the rape and sexual assault prevention strategies designed for women?  Why are female Soldiers counseled and told and required to not be alone after dark?  Why do all females learn to pay attention at all times to where they are, what they wear, the messages they send?  What does it say about men and male Soldiers that our sisters-in-arms have to be worried and watchful for the very people they joined to serve with?  Why are we not talking to men about a simple and straightforward and unassailable fact?

Rape and sexual assault are wrong. All the time.  Every time. Under any condition. There are no mitigating circumstances. It is not part of the code. It is not what it means to be a man. We really need to spend some time looking at that. The idea that instead of putting the responsibility of women to protect themselves at all costs, we put the responsibility where it belongs. On men. That we look at the whole support structure that sends messages every day that rape is a woman’s issue.

♦◊♦

If you move the discussion away from rape and sexual assault the larger issue that all leaders face is determining what they stand for and to recognize how their actions and attention to something send a huge message to their subordinates. The requirement for some very overt role-modeling. No assumptions. No half-steps. Fully invested, bluntly spoken leadership. “This is right. This is wrong.  This is what a man does. This is what a man doesn’t. This is what a Soldier does. This is what a Soldier doesn’t. Not because you will get caught, or get in trouble, or cause someone to have to fill out paperwork and be inconvenienced, but because it is wrong. Because it is not who Soldiers are. It is not who good men are. Moving the discussion away from the fear of getting caught or punished to the very positive place of self-definition. I do or don’t do something not because I am afraid of the consequences, but because it is not part of my code of manhood.

Step back a little further and an even more difficult question pops up: why did I not see this right away? Why when I read the article did I not see how it applied to me immediately? Why did my eyes pass right over the fact that I am responsible at a very basic level to care about how my culture gets defined for me? Why did I not immediately see my obligation as an Army leader to help create good men? Not just good Soldiers, but good men. How could that happen? My own blindness to how I think, see, assimilate, process, and encounter my world was made apparent pretty quickly.

In short order, I could no longer sit comfortably in my own ignorance. If it doesn’t affect me, then it’s not really my issue is a lazy and worthless answer. I cannot care about everything, but I can listen and care about what speaks to my heart. I have a long way to go to fully grasp all the parts of this discussion, but at least I am beginning to see how ignorant I am. Sometimes, knowing what you don’t know is more important than knowing what you do.

So here it is. I am responsible and accountable for my actions and my behaviors. I am responsible to educate the next generation of young men about what I think it means to be a good man. I cannot sit back and let someone else decide that for me. I have to take an active role, and active part, I have to stand up and state my case. Otherwise the conversation, the roles, the rules, the norms, the acceptable behaviors all get made in my absence. I give up my right to complain and say “But that’s not me!”, if I do not stand up and say, “Enough.”

It starts with the Friday afternoon safety briefing currently designed to protect a Soldier from himself and to allow me to say, “I told him not to do that…” It ends with a simple statement. “Don’t Rape.” There is an entire leadership journey between those two places.

—Photo The U.S. Army/Flickr

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Comments

  1. O. M. G. This. Exactly this.

    In terms of rape and sexual assault, it’s the fact that we *don’t* have these kinds of conversations and men *aren’t* told they should or even CAN talk about it! It’s overly focused on women, in both positive and negative ways, and we need to change that. It’s also about what we *don’t* say about men when we talk about rape, and that we rarely actually articulate “this isn’t how men behave” – the conversation never even gets there. And it should. And it starts with a post like this. THANK YOU.

    As for the larger picture – all I can say is, yes. Yes yes yes. Taking it beyond what I wrote, I love it. We should all take active roles in our lives, to educate – but also to learn from one another. To be informed and questioned and challenged. To grow.

    Fabulous post, sir.

  2. Is rape the only problem that men face? It seems as if every other article is about rape. Is rape truly the ONLY problem in the world facing men? Is it the only bad thing that ever happens? So, we’ve put an end to murder, felony assault, child abuse, elder abuse, hit and run accidents, embezzlement, bullying, etc. etc.?.

    Rape is very bad, mean guys do it. After dozens of articles and thousands of comments, I really think we all get that. Another 30 or 500 articles are not going to make the point any clearer.

    On this article, misses the point here. The question has NOTHING to do JUST with rape, or child abuse, or identiy theft, or car jacking, it has to do with ALL of those things and far more. It has to do with being an upright, honest, ethical, kind, selfless, responsible person – man, in this case.

    My father never had to tell me to not rape someone, or not car jack someone, or not steal someone’s identity or any other specific crime. My FATHER taught me and showed me how to be a good person, which means he never had to create a “good man’s list for dummies”, with “don’t rape” on the list.

    The problem we have, gentlemen, is that not enough families are solid and intact, such that bio mom and bio dad can co-parent in unity, teaching, training, loving, disciplining, and re-inforcing all of that with their won imperfect but always trying their best example. It is the father’s job to show his son how to act by what he does every single day. To teach by word and example is his responsibility toward his sons and daughters, but especially sons because they will be men someday.

    So, Who Will Show the Young Men How to Act? It should be their daddy.

    • It should be all men. It is a man’s discussion. Not the only discussion, I agree with you. But it is a big elephant in the room that needs to be pointed at. It’s not quite so much that it’s like rape is solely defined by random sexual assault at night. But also the idea of getting a girl drunk at a party and then taking advantage of her. It happens. Women (at the very least) are taught that you should never accept a drink from anyone, ever. Never leave your cup for any reason. Have it with you at all times. Make sure you’re with someone you trust. Breaking those rules might leave you vulnerable to becoming drugged or very drunk and incapable of truly consenting to a sexual encounter. That counts as rape. Men need to make it clear among themselves that that kind of behavior is also completely unacceptable too.

      • “It should be all men. It is a man’s discussion.”

        Wrong. All men can’t teach all boys. All men don’t know each boy’s problems, their personalities, likes, dislikes. All men can’t talk to him at breakfast, dinner, weekends. All men can’t tear his tail up when he needs it. That’s what fathers do. That’s also where uncles and grandfathers help out. Boys who are raised well become men who can in turn teach their sons, nephews, grandsons, neighbors, church brothers, etc. One major problem is that the cycle is often broken, with no father sleeping in the house, and therefore less or no access to the paternal uncles, grandfather, older male cousins, church brothers, etc. It’s a ripple effect. Yes, it takes a village but it starts with the boys’ parents, including his father.

        “Not the only discussion, I agree with you.”

        Perhaps you’re new here and don’t know that it has become the only discussion for what feels like weeks on end now. It’s not the elephant in the room, it has become the room itself, the walls, floor, cieling, and all of the furniture. Rape is far and away the #1 discussion topic here now, as if there are literally no other problems affecting men. At all. None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. The word has obviously gotten out to the feminist rape blogger community to unload on poor GMP, which tries to be open to all viewpoints. So, we’ve gotten over-run with submissions from bloggers who spend all day every day blogging about “rape culture” and other evils of males.

        • All men can’t teach all boys, but all men can try set a good example for young boys, whether or not there’s a biological connection. Say you have a teenaged son and you’re watching “How I Met Your Mother” and the episode focuses on Barney, the pick-up artist character who sleeps with as many women as possible and avoids them afterwards, and is excessively proud of his “success” at doing so. As Daddy Role-Model, this would be a chance to tell your son, This is not how you should behave as a man. As a Daddy married to a Mommy, you don’t really have the opportunity to demonstrate good behavior for a young single man looking to attract a woman. So in such a case, you can point out bad examples offered by other men, fictional or not, and reinforce with your son that this is NOT the way to behave. He might have gotten that message anyway, but it doesn’t hurt to say it again, directly, frankly, unambiguously, instead of assuming he’ll understand it just because he’s never seen you do it.

          Now, in that same scenario, imagine you’re in the room while your son and his young friends are watching the same show. You could, in that case, use the opportunity to give the same message to the whole group of them, despite only being parentally obligated and biologically connect to only one of the boys out of the group. It is the responsibility of adult men, parents or not, to not only lead by example, but take opportunities to actively teach young boys what it means to be good. (The same goes for adult women and young girls.)

          Just curious, you focused on how Daddy can teach a boy how to be a good man. Do you think Mommy is capable of the same, if there is no Daddy in the picture for whatever reason? (Daddy died, Daddy is deployed overseas, Mommy and Daddy divorced/separated/broke up, Mommy doesn’t even know who Daddy is, take your pick.) I’m not trying to confront you or start an argument or accuse you of any kind of misogyny, I’m legitimately asking, do you personally believe Mommy can effectively guide her son to be a good man?

          • Note that I mentioned “any of the boys I have the privilege of mentoring.” So, yes that could include a boy over the house for a couple hours but that value is limited.

            “Do you think Mommy is capable of the same, if there is no Daddy in the picture for whatever reason?”

            A father can verbally guide a daughter with no mother just as well as a mother can verbally guide a son without a father, and both can teach by example most lessons, but not all.

            There are certain things about being a woman that a father will have a harder time demonstrating to his daughter than her mom would. Same with mothers and sons.

            So, while a man can verbally instruct his daughter in the same way her mom can, there are certain things she is going to be more effective at, because she can not only tell her, she can show her. The same is true of mothers and sons. Fathers can tell but also teach by example.

            • “All men can’t teach all boys, but all men can try set a good example for young boys, whether or not there’s a biological connection.”

              Sorry, I missed this. Very good and valid point.

            • I respect your arguments, even if we disagree on whether the message of “Don’t Rape” should be communicated to young people explicitly or implicitly – I would like to think it could be done both ways, or with some combination of the two. Not being a parent probably has some bearing on my views. There are not many young boys in the context of my life, I can only speak hypothetically about what I would and would not do.

              There’s another way of looking at the “don’t get raped” thing. Honestly, growing up and hearing that message from various authorities, I didn’t see an issue with it. I even found it empowering. The message I came away with was not “All men are potential rapists,” but rather, “Rape happens; it can happen to anyone; and there are things I can do to protect myself, and others, from it.” Not things like avoiding provocative clothes or refraining from sending “flirty” signals, but things like being aware of my surroundings, being cautious with strangers (not automatically suspicious, just cautious), and knowing some basic self-defense tactics should I come under physical attack. I know the likelihood that I will be raped or assaulted is pretty low, but I feel better armed with the knowledge that there are steps I can take – the rest, I suppose, is up to fate. But I can feel empowered by that knowledge without simultaneously condemning all men by assuming them all capable of rape. Maybe on my more cynical days, yes, I might make such a generalization – out of spite, out of frustration, because in some ways I may have been conditioned to think that way. But that’s why I participate in these discussions (and strive to do so with civility and respect), to put my opinions in context and keep me from straying into extremism.

            • “I respect your arguments, even if we disagree on whether the message of “Don’t Rape” should be communicated to young people explicitly or implicitly.”

              I was taught very explicitly not to rape although not a single time in my life has my father uttered the word rape to me. The principles I was taught and that I in turn teach my children and others who are willing to listen are very clear and explicit.

              There are hundreds of other criminal acts that we have never discussed about which there is 0% ambiguity. So, the message is truly explicit. This way, when some new technology comes along that allows my son to capture images of his neighbor showering through her bathroom wall, he will know explicitly that that is wrong. I don’t have to rush down to his dorm room and tell him to not do that specific thing.

              Unfortunately, not everyone is taught explicit or implicitly to not steal cars, steal identities, rape, kidnap, or many other criminal activities. So, we all must take reasonable precautions to keep ourselves, our children, our personally identifiable information (PII), and our money safe from criminals.

          • ” do you personally believe Mommy can effectively guide her son to be a good man?”

            Based on the number of criminals that come from single mother households and based on anecdotal experience, No. Why is this so? I have no idea. BTW, poverty is not a good explanation for this phenomenon.

          • The character, “Barney” from the show, “How I Met Your Mother” lives his life as he pleases and does not “rape” any of the women who sleep with him. His character projects the image of the playful and confident lothario who has drawbacks and positives in life. To shame that behavior is nonsensical to the point of this post. Being a funny, sexually attractive being is what many men *try* to do because *it* is a superior method of living life to being a castrated whimp.

            I wonder how many women who let their teenage daughters watch Sex and the City lectured them about how Samantha’s behavior was out of line when she dumped the love of her life because his penis was too small. My guess would is zero.

            Men who forcibly rape women or who use drugs to lay with women are monsters, and that goes without saying. I would say that if women and men conducted more physical exercise and more martial arts training this sort of thing would be minimized.

            The problem with this article and KKZ’s post is that it accepts the idea of rape culture as men-directed female submission to forcible sex through obviously non-coercive non-problems like a stock lothario character in a sitcom.

            • Sorry Bobdole, I strayed from the topic a bit. I did not mean to imply that Barney rapes, just that he is careless with women and does not treat them as his equals, but as things to be conquered. (I’m specifically talking about early-seasons Barney, before his character was developed in more detail.) He may not drug them, but he lies to them and manipulates them with the sole purpose of having sex with them. Yes, it’s a long-played-out trope, the Lothario or Casanova, but it is still the kind of behavior that I would personally seek to discourage in young people, because it is dishonest and disrespectful. I would say the same of the female counterpart of a Barney, if she lied and manipulated to “achieve” sex. (On a side note, I’m often disappointed at how the show’s writers depict Barney’s targets as so easily taken in by his pick-up lines and lies. I don’t know many women personally who would fall for his act so quickly – not saying they don’t exist, but I don’t think a real-life Barney would have nearly the “success” rate of TV Barney – even if he did look like Neil Patrick Harris.)

              It is even more important with a case like Barney to point out the bad behavior because Barney’s character tries to codify it into a guide of behavior for men – the Bro Code – and because his character has been extended off-show into a blog and social media accounts, making him seem more real and less fictional. Moreover, Barney is likable, and not presented as a “bad guy.” Pretty much the only time rape is witnessed or referenced on television is in the context of crime, on a crime show like CSI or on the news. There, the implication is always that rape is bad and the bad guy (yes, in almost all fictional cases the perp is male) is going to get caught and punished. Not Barney – he’s your bro! He’s your buddy! No harm, no foul, amiright?

              No, Barney is not a rapist, but he does not behave in the way a Good Man should (in my opinion). Just like young boys may not be told explicitly “Don’t Rape,” they might also be missing the message “Don’t be a shallow, manipulative, single-minded d-bag when it comes to dating.”

              Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of the show and I very much like Barney’s character. But I can also see him as an opportunity to educate young people on what NOT to do, because while adults may see the satire, young people may not. I will not pretend my early impression of sex and adult relationships was not affected (affected, not defined) by watching Friends as a teenager, or Sex and the City (which my mother probably would have tried to forbidden me from watching, if she had known).

              As another example, take Girls Gone Wild. Young women *should not behave like that.* Yet clearly that message is not getting across, because young women continue to Go Wild for the camera. Adults do have the power, and the responsibility, to influence young people to not make these kinds of choices. That’s the “leadership” referenced in the article – and I would argue that it does take more than merely leading by example.

            • You’ve mentioned several examples of “bad” male behavior and will not even consider “bad” female behavior by characters like Samantha in Sex and the City. You posted examples of boorish, crude, and maybe offensive behavior in a post about rape. You have linked boorish behavior to rape and say it should be corrected.

              Yet you explicitly said your views about adult relationships were in part shaped by shows like Sex and the City; which objectify men and glorify a sexually promiscuous and completely selfish way of life. Your criticisms of How I met Your Mother and Girls Gone Wild would be the *same* criticisms for a show like Sex and the City, or Hung, or any sitcom where men are objects to be used.

              My point still stands:

              1. Crude, boorish behavior is not rape. The bro-code is not rape. Lying to get into a woman’s pants is *still* not rape.

              2. Similar behavior from women’s oriented TV shows is not and will not be criticized by feminists. Will you educate your daughter’s friends that Samantha is what is NOT good about female sexuality? Will women start standing up for judging men based on their character, what’s inside, not what’s outside their bodies? Who is leading this charge?

              3. Trying to find and arbitrarily defined rape culture to protect women’s egos will not be fair and it will not solve the issue of rape.

              Men don’t néed to be told not to rape. They don’t need to be lectured. They don’t need to be talked too or corrected, and they don’t need to be confused about why mommy’s TV characters talking about sex are better than daddy’s TV characters talking about sex. They need to be given an opportunity to see the best in themselves and an avenue to work towards that.

            • It’s not that i refuse to acknowledge anything. My comment was already turning into a novel, so i didn’t go into Samantha and Sex and the City. I don’t have a daughter to advise, nor plans for children. I honestly can’t tell you how I would handle it. I don’t think Samantha is a good role model in some ways, but in others, especially as her character was developed more, she did have some positive traits. Confidence, business smarts, honesty (in most ways, she is brutally honest and does not filter hself), and she is a good friend. Barney, too, has positive traits – as I said, I like his character and role on the show.

              I am not sure why you feel the need to restate that Barney’s behavior does not consist of rape. I didn’t say it is rape, just not very nice and, in my opinion, not advisable. The title of the article is, who will show the young men how to act? And we’ve been discussing ways of doing that through leadership by example as well as through instruction. I stopped talking about rape specifically a few posts ago. And I don’t appreciate you putting words in my mouth, or as it were, comment box.

              I am not interested in defining the meaning of rape culture. Like I said, it’s a theory I find intellectually interesting but don’t subscribe to or consider it truth. Why are you making me repeat myself?

            • I mostly wanted you to concede that if men are to instruct their sons that Barney’s behavior on How I met your Mother is wrong then women should instruct their daughters that Samantha’s behavior in Sex and the City is wrong. In your first response you stated that you gained some perspectives from Sex and the City. In your second response you said that despite having no children you “wouldn’t know what to say” to Samantha’s behavior if you had a daughter watching it. Sure you find positives in both characters, but you singled out a lothario Barney character and not a cruel Samantha character as examples that “need to be taught.” And you’re not a mother of a boy or a girl, and you’re picking one gender’s bad behavior or another’s.

              I know you’ve dropped the rape angle. I mentioned it again rather wonkishly because I felt that it was important to my point about your double standard with instructing boys and girls about appropriate behaviors. This is a discussion about rape culture and men standing up and leading other men to not be rapists, to not attack. Regardless of what angle you’re currently on, the fact that we were able to move from Rape to Lothario is disconcerting.

              Also, I’m not trying to personally attack you. I am frustrated, however, that in a discussion about men educating other men on rape you get to offer advice about what’s nice and not nice to women. You get to offer advice to men on instructing boys on what isn’t and what isn’t cool, yet when it comes to being a woman instructing girls on what is and isn’t cool you’re the first to point out that you’re not a mother and that you wouldn’t know what to say.

              Personally, I believe you’re on a safe thread (about rape) talking about something that may offend you (lothario sexuality) and not caring about being in the other gender’s shoes (double standard).

            • Okay, you make a few fair statements. I can somewhat see the contradiction in saying boys should be taught not to behave like Barney but I don’t know what I’d do with my own hypothetical daughter. What I was getting at with the “I’m not a parent” statement is that I can sit here all day and talk about what I would or would not do in a hypothetical, idealist sort of way, but if you actually were to put me in the role of a parent? No, I can’t say with any kind of certainty how I would react. (Part of the reason that kids are not in the plan for me right now – I know I’m NOT ready to be a parent, I may never be ready, and that’s OK. For the record, I’m 24, if that helps you put my views in a different context.) I can only say how I’d *like* my hypothetical parent self to react – but I’ve found that doing that makes me sound deluded, as if I think I’m too enlightened to mess up parenting. So I try not to stray into that “Well this is what I would do” territory, to avoid being interpreted as holier-than-thou.

              No one talked to me when I was a kid about whether Samantha’s behavior was worth emulating – because no one knew I was watching SATC. I was a “good girl,” the adults in my life didn’t know SATC would hold any appeal to me – but I was also a voraciously curious girl, so of course, it did! My parents were not very forthcoming when it came to talking about sex, except to discourage me from it at every opportunity. My dad once gave me a world almanac to read, only to take it away when he found out I was reading the part about sex and sexuality. The big “umbrella” message of my sexual education was, Protect yourself. Use contraceptives, don’t sleep around, don’t let a man abuse you or coerce you. Yet there’s SO MUCH more to sexuality, and I was left to figure it out by myself, through examples like Samantha and her crew, the women on Friends, my peers, porn, whatever. (Lots of mixed messages there.) My ignorance did lead me into some risky situations and bad decisions – though I will admit, I have a fierce independent streak and didn’t necessarily reach out for the help I could have used. In this testimony lies my wish: that every young person has someone who will talk to them frankly, openly and honestly about sex – not just the physical act, the STDs and condoms angle, but sex and dating and relationships as a whole – to help them separate the good behavior from the bad. I believe young people DO need this kind of explicit guidance, instead of assuming they’ll pick it up from the grander messages of what it means to be good. Think of it along the lines of being told to “Eat well and exercise” but not being told which foods are good for you and which to avoid or moderate, or taught how to use a treadmill or lift weights. It’s half an education.

            • Julie Gillis says:

              I always find it funny when people bring up SATC as I always found it to be a bit of a parody of women (and of gay men). Each character is an archetype right? All parts of a woman-
              The Whore
              The Virginal/Mother
              The Creative/Romantic
              The Bitch/Over Achiever

              No one woman is any of those things, most women have each of those dynamics within them. Shows like that provide a mirror of sorts for women to identify with or reject or integrate those dynamics in themselves. Clever writing, fun clothes. NYPD Blue? LA Law? Buffy? Two 1/2 men? Does anyone truly think these are actual representations of full humans or archetypes of characters. Buffy is a great example.
              Nerd
              Witch
              Werewolf
              Sex pot
              Tough Girl

              Each of those characters were written so well they not only relayed their archetype, but surpassed them/reversed them at times (even literally in the case of Evil Willow).

            • I find it worth pointing out that I neither defend nor refute rape culture as a social theory. To me, it is just that, a theory. It raises some interesting points – for me, the one that resonates most is victim-blaming. Despite knowing that false accusations do happen, I still find it despicable and disgusting that victim-blaming happens. I used to work in the news media and saw it happen a lot in the comment sections of stories about rape or sexual assault. But the theory of rape culture is problematic in other ways, such as the point Hugo and Tom have been debating about whether it is fair for women to be told to suspect all men of being capable of rape. It is, in this way, sexist. So while I am open-minded to the theory, I do not accept it as doctrine or dogma.

        • “One major problem is that the cycle is often broken, with no father sleeping in the house”

          Exactly. One thing has been lost in all this rape discussion. The link between rape and single motherhood. Rapists disproportionately come from single mother households. How feminists square this with rape culture and male responsibility to educate other males I would really like to know.

        • Right on!

    • As a matter of interest has the site had any articles on the problem of false rape accusations? It’s a far more significant issue of course, but my guess is that if there’s ever been even one article on it, the feminists would not exactly have been very happy with it.

      • Lisa Hickey says:

        We have been looking for those stories. If you know anyone who would like to submit on that topic we would be happy to consider.

        • DavidByron says:

          The reason I ask is that I wonder if maybe the feminist women especially, who post all these rape articles and these “rape culture” articles, I wonder if they have any idea how it feels to men to be constantly hit over the head and guilted with this stuff?

          Women are not supposed to protect men. So it’s no insult to imply to a woman that she didn’t. In fact these days feminists very often praise women who attack men. But men are supposed to protect women which is why these articles hinting that they are failures unless they jump through feminist hoops, do tend to effectively guilt and undermine men.

          And I just wonder if it is on purpose or if they just don’t get it. If they just don’t know how it is then the only thing close that I can think of is an article of false rape accusations. Feminist women certainly, really seem effected by those sort of articles. They really react emotionally and very negatively to them. They trash them. They hate them. They make sure they are never seen. And why? Because it makes them feel guilty (I guess) and it makes them feel picked on in a similar way to these rape stories, for men, albeit very much lesser.

          Nobody is saying there’s a “false accusation culture” and nobody is saying most women make false accusations, or more than a tiny number of women do. So there’s not the same attempt to directly guilt people as with these “rape culture” articles, and as I say, women are not charged with protecting men the way men are women. Nevertheless I think there’s enough similarity that maybe these feminist women could get some empathy from reading an article or two on false rape accusations. I’m not saying dozens of them like the site has on rape, but just one or two. Maybe these feminist women could say well now I see what the problem is with all the rape articles?

          • I don’t think this is so much about men protecting women or the idea that women aren’t supposed to protect men (but is assumed that we are all supposed to nurture yes?) but about people respecting the rights of other people.

            I agree that we need to have articles about false rape accusations as well. I think in order to be able to open a dialogue you need to look critically at all sides.

            In regards to Eric’s post: Some men never have a strong male figure to guide them or the men in their lives were questionable. So what harm does it do to reinforce the idea that it is wrong and to be able to discuss it. In order to change the perceptions of men and rape we may need to state the obvious because it may not be obvious to all and those are exactly the people who NEED to hear it. Those people who were never lucky enough to have the parenting/experiences you had.

            My last thought is that blaming all feminists is no more productive than blaming all men and muddies the issue. The original post by Nikki was a call for men to take part in how this culture is perceived and this article addressed just that. If you don’t like what the feminists have to say about rape and rape culture than speak up about it, reinforce the idea that not all men rape, not with anger but through posts like the article above.

            • DavidByron says:

              but is assumed that we are all supposed to nurture yes?

              No.
              At least not men. Women nurture (protect) children, not men. That’s why women talk about cutting men’s penises off as a joke on popular TV shows and it’s OK and that’s good TV. But if a single guy at a fraternity jokes about who would you want to rape the entire fraternity is shut down. The real rape culture is with women and with feminists attacking men. The real rape culture is the tolerance for attacks on men by women.

              what harm does it do to reinforce the idea

              It is reinforcing an attack on men and creating a huge divide and source of resentment between men and women. It is telling men that women are the enemy. It is telling women that men are the enemy. As I said above women already have taken on board that message quite thoroughly and laugh at men’s pain. Men are much more reluctant to do so because of their gender role as women’s protectors. But believe me, it is coming. That fraternity joke about rape is an example. Feminists have made war on men and at some point you shouldn’t be surprised if men start to fight back, although so far the war has all been one sided.

              blaming all feminists is no more productive than blaming all men

              “Feminist” is a political group not a birth group. Anyone who doesn’t like what feminism represents is free to simply no longer identify as one. Every feminist is a volunteer. Being a feminist says something about you. That is why it is legitimate to attack a political group for its politics but never legitimate to attack a birth group like men.

            • DavidByron says:

              If I wasn’t clear there (in my last comment which is in moderation):

              The harm of feminist “rape culture” comments in my opinion is that they are a deliberate attempt to spread hatred and division between men and women. The intention is to spread the feminist vision of men as evil and the ultimate aim, for at least some feminists, would be the sex segregationist approach taken by the radical feminists who literally seek to prevent men and women physically meeting (just like their conservative cousins in Afghanistan although the radical feminists are a lot more extreme).

              If you were to think up the nastiest and most vile attacks on men imaginable and figure out the best way to get those attacks repeated in our society non-stop…. what you would come up with is the modern feminist movement.

              If you attack a group of people that nastily and for that long then you will create a backlash. So the purpose of “rape culture” in a sense is to increase actual rape by tearing down any sympathy men might naturally feel for women. It is not hard to see this beginning to happen. In fact it is such an obviously foreseeable result that I assume it is a deliberate intention – by at least some feminist (the ones calling the shots).

          • “I wonder if they have any idea how it feels to men to be constantly hit over the head and guilted with this stuff?”

            As long as it’s painful. . . as long as men who would never in a million years even consider rape realize that, according to them, rape is still your fault.

            • I’m sorry that it hurts you to hear these stories. As men who do not commit rape, I am sorry that you feel guilt. I don’t blame all men for what happened to me. I blame the men that did it, and to some degree, I also blame the men and women who let it happen (I won’t get into specifics, but there were passive witnesses).

              I don’t mean to presume to tell you how to feel, but I want to ask that you try not to feel personal guilt when you read these articles. Yes, it has been said before. Unfortunately, the people who need to hear it aren’t the ones listening, like you are. And rape still happens, and there are still many men and women who blame the victim and doubt her experience.

              And yes, some women do lie about being assaulted by men, which is reprehensible, and a crime not only against the man she accuses and all males, but is also a crime against women who will now be doubted when they are victimized. It does no one any justice.

              As much as it hurts you to read articles like this, it hurts me to read articles making blanket accusations about false rape allegations. Two sides of the same coin?

              If anyone tries to make you feel guilty about the problem of rape in our culture, and you are not a rapist nor someone who would idly allow a rape to be committed if you were aware of it, that person is an asshole.

              I don’t want men to feel guilty about rape. I want men and women to become allies against violence and mistreatment. I think we can help each other by sharing experiences and by supporting each other.

            • Erin,

              Thank you for your thoughts. I feel annoyance, irritation, and insulted. However, I feel no guilt whatsoever for something I played no part in doing.

              To your point: ” I want men and women to become allies against violence and mistreatment.”

              I agree 100%. I have, apparentl unsuccessfully, been trying to make a similar point. If we denouce violence and mistreatment at large, we are denouncing rape along with many other forms of mistreatment.

    • Strawman. It would be amusing – if it wasn’t so sad – how every time this subject, and subject like it, come up, we have men explaining how the problem is really something else, how there’s a much bigger problem somewhere else, how there’s also evil women do, and on and on and on.

      Do you really think you can explain the problem of rape away?

      • Do you really need a “Good Men for Dummies” book that gives you a list of the 10,000 individual actions things that are wrong?   If so, knock yourself out. 

        By contrast, I recommend living according to guiding principles, making such a list unnecessary.  I teach my kids to respect themselves but equally respect other people, to be kind to people, to be honest, ethical, morally upright, generous, compassionate, empathetic, to protect those who are more vulnerable, and to be self-less in their approach to life.  And, I try my best to live that way, to teach by my actions the same sermon that I preach.

        Do you not follow that a person who lives according to those principles does not need to be told to not rape, beat-up, harass, discriminate against, demean, plant car bombs, put secretly taped nude videos of someone on the Internet, stab, give someone’s dog rat poison, molest a child, steal someone’s identity, run over, spit on, or the countless other not nice or horrific things people do, and will do the in the future using currently unavailable technology?  Why is that a hard concept to grasp?

        I personally don’t need “Good Men for a Dummies” list with 10,000 things I shoudn’t do, and neither will my kids, my nephews, or any boys I had the privilege of mentoring.   If they do wrong, it won’t be because they don’t know any better. 

      • “Strawman. It would be amusing – if it wasn’t so sad – how every time this subject, and subject like it, come up, we have men explaining how the problem is really something else, how there’s a much bigger problem somewhere else, how there’s also evil women do, and on and on and on.

        Do you really think you can explain the problem of rape away?”

        The ultimate question is: What is the cause of rape. If you get that wrong your solutions will be wrong. Rape culture is not a good explanation of rape.

        • It’s some other problem. It is not changing the subject. Simply pointing out that “rape culture” really means a culture of feminists attacking men.

    • “It has to do with being an upright, honest, ethical, kind, selfless, responsible person – man, in this case.”

      Jeff said this. He mentions the issue of rape specifically to make the point that it is ONE subject men are not told NOT to do.

      • “He mentions the issue of rape specifically to make the point that it is ONE subject men are not told NOT to do.”

        I’m finding that very hard to believe.

        How can he possibly know what 3.5 billion individuals were or were not told?

        How can he possibly know that 3.5 billion individuals were given a list of thousands of things not to do but that list left off rape? In order for his statement to be true, he would need to show that he knows what we all were and were not told, and that 3.5 billion of us have no idea that raping someone is wrong – since no one ever told us.

        That is going to be very tough to prove.

  3. tom matlack says:

    Great piece Jeff. Thank you for contributing.

  4. This is a great post – best thing I’ve seen on the topic in a long, long time. Thank you.

  5. Wonderful, Jeff. Thanks so much for this.

  6. First of all, my profound thanks to everyone for reading my thoughts. This is the first time I have ever submitted my writing to any outside publication besides my own blog space. I am honored by the response. Thank you to everyone.
    This was not intended to be a post about the why’s and wherefore’s of rape or sexual assault. Not really. What struck me in Nikki’s article was the idea that men might be silently letting their culture be determined for them by not speaking out directly and bluntly about issues that effect them. As I read GMP, one of the things that always strikes me is that although I don’t fit a lot of the categories that people right about, that I have a vested interest in the discussion.
    The second thing that seemed important to me is that if I have to tell young Soldiers not to drink and drive, or get in fights, or deep fry a turkey in their barracks room, or go swimming at 2 in the morning in January in Wisconsin, maybe we really do need to speak very plainly about rape, rape, sexual assault and the culture that allows us to simply overlook it. Rape and assault in the Army are serious business, but until we clearly tell young men, “Don’t rape” in no uncertain terms, then we cannot change the culture.
    As I wrote in the article, this is a post about leadership. The responsibility of good men to lead the discussion, take responsibility for themselves and other men, and listen to those whose voice is being marginalized by politics, fear, and design.

  7. I know women who joke about screaming rape…false accusation destroys the accused person’s life even if he is found innocent. This has a new painful dimension when race is added to the mix. Interracial lovers discovered in pre civil rights deep south…to save her reputation, white woman accuses lover of rape. Man is jailed or lynched. Unless feminists believe if all men are rapist, black men are especially monsters and are always guilty when charged.

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