Why Are So Many Good Men Accepting of Rape Culture?

Nikki Brown calls for men to resist an easy acceptance of rape culture and to speak out in defense of their gender.

Don’t take offense. I know a lot of men stand up about rape. I know they speak up about sexual assault. They wear ribbons and high heels to show their support for anti-violence campaigns. I know many of you take issue with what rape culture tells me, your sister, your wife, your mother, your daughters, your friend what they should wear and how they should act. I know many of you support our right to sluthood (thank you very much).

I appreciate all of that. What I mean here is, why aren’t you speaking out against what this language, this rape culture, says about you? About men?

Men Can’t Help Themselves. Wear the wrong clothes or say the wrong thing, and Men believe they are Entitled to a woman’s sex.

Men Rape.

Rape culture says that we should expect men to be violent, misogynistic, and to not even notice, let alone care, what a woman wants, as long as she did something to make him think she wants to have sex. No, scratch that. As long as she did something to make him think about sex.

Why aren’t you angry? Why aren’t you upset? Why aren’t you telling your sister and your wife and your mother and your daughters and your friends that it doesn’t matter what they wear or how they act or if they flirted?

It doesn’t matter.

That there is nothing women can’t do or say or wear. That there’s no such thing as too much alcohol or took him home too soon. No excuse, no lie, no rationale that makes rape or attempted rape or assault or harassment OK. To make rape or attempted rape or assault or harassment Something Men Do.

When are you going to make clear, I mean really effing crystal, to us that THIS IS NOT HOW MEN BEHAVE.

This is not who you are, this is not how you think. This is not what we should prepare for. This is not what we should expect from you.

♦◊♦

Am I wrong here? Is this view and these expectations not a problem to you?

I don’t have that view. I don’t share those expectations. Instead, I expect: I expect men to appreciate me for who I am, from my cleavage to my wit. I expect men to never think they are entitled to my body, no matter what I wear or how I act or how soon I went home with them. To believe sex is a mutually-agreed upon act (enthusiastic consent is not a feminist statement, people!) that we participate in together, not something men take from me. I expect men to treat me as a member of an equal, not a lesser sex. I expect men to treat me as I treat them.

But here’s the thing: my expectations are in spite of the “that’s just how guys are” and the Facebook rape pages and the “can’t you women take a joke?” bullshit I hear every single day. They are in spite of every person who reads this post and thinks, “yeah, that’s nice and all Nikki, but in reality …” or “girl, you had better learn to play it safe.”

My expectations are in spite of rape culture.

These expectations are also of my own accord, my own faith in men—and because of the men in my life.

The sad thing? They are not because men speak up and tell me society and rape culture is wrong. They are not because, every time I hear “that’s how men are,” a good man speaks up and says, “no. It’s not.

They are the ones I make for you in your silence.

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I understand that maybe the things rape culture says about men are subtle. I get what being vocal about sexual violence does to women, but we don’t talk enough about what rape culture says about men. Even in recent posts here on the Good Men Project—discussions revolved around education, support, and defense of women. They never once focused, even for a moment, on what all of these terrible stories say about men. About who men are, and who they are not. There is this underlying assumption that men just rape. There is this underlying acceptance about it.

And, yes, I fully comprehend the cultural differences here. But still.

Rape is not just about women. It’s about men, too. And we will never end this Rape Culture, we will never make revolutionary change, unless we start talking about men’s agency in it.

And that, gentlemen, starts with you. Your voice. Not only in support of SlutWalk, but in explaining to us that This Is Not What Men Do. This is not the behavior to expect from men. We need to hear you tell us that. You need to tell each other that. This is as important a conversation as any other we have about rape and sexual assault.

♦◊♦

Maybe you aren’t paying attention, or you think you’re the only one who is, or that we won’t hear you. Maybe you’ve never thought about it this way.

But it’s not enough. None of that is enough to excuse your silence. Your ignorance. Your acceptance of the excuses we all use and the lies we all tell to ignore rape and assault Every. Single. Day.

The underlying acceptance that Men Rape.

Consider this the open door. Consider this my invitation to the table and my request to hear your voice. Consider this your wake up call that rape culture isn’t talking only about women.

This is what rape culture and the excuses and lies we all tell ourselves about rape and sexual assault say about men.

Wake up. Speak up. I can’t hear you.

Yet.

—Photo terminallychll/Flickr

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About Nikki Brown

Nikki Brown blogs anonymously about sex, relationships, life, gender, sexuality, the environment, and anything else that piques her interest or raises her hackles. In her spare time, she practices yoga, sustainable living, drinking vodka, and the art of burlesque. Her blog can be found at http://womenarefrommars.wordpress.com/

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