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Gentlemen and ladies of the world, it’s time to be brutally honest about sexual assault and rape culture.
And when I write “gentlemen” (and for many women who are just as guilty), I mean all men, because many of you aren’t gentle in words or deeds even though you’re convinced you are.
Because our culture is obsessed with sex and sexualizing women from a young age and on throughout and until death—
Because our culture (and most cultures) is a “rape culture,” filled with discriminatory and unattainable standards of beauty, and constantly blaming women for unwanted sexual advances and rape—
Because we allow catcalling, physical and verbal abuse, and sexual assault against our women (and yes, men) from a pre-pubescent age to adulthood—
Because “cute,” “pretty,” “princess-like,” and “beautiful” are the go-to adjectives and states of assumed being for our girls, young women, and daughters who aren’t old enough to know what “sexualized” means, I have the following:
It needs to stop. Now.
Women don’t and never deserve rape, unwarranted attention, sexual assault, catcalling, or any variety of these typical cultural standards that have been with us as humans since the very beginning.
Only consensual sex will do; only non-sexual compliments will suffice; only the most respectful comments for our daughters, sisters, and mothers will stand.
So I will offer the following advice in a series of he thought/he said in hopes that we can start fresh with the reader—from the mind of a man who reasons rape culture away, and from the justifications of cultures around the world (and most recently from media coverage of First World election-heavy-America).
Please apply all that apply:
Women love the attention, so therefore it’s okay to catcall and aggressively compliment them on their appearance.
No, it’s not okay.
Not even if the lady says thank you?
Not even if the lady wears skin-revealing clothing and is showing off her body? Don’t they want a compliment?
Not even then. Even if they like being told nice things, which everyone does. Everyone wants compliments in life, especially when they dress up. People do it every day.
Okay, I get “aggressively compliment” but what about just a nice statement about their legs, breasts, butt, face, or arms?
No, especially no. Just because you’re attracted to “beautiful things” doesn’t mean you get to comment on them, as much as you want to reach out and touch, kiss, hold, fondle, grope, or have sex with them. You have to fight this every day. Just because you want and think you are entitled to something—anything, and especially human beings—means nothing if it’s not reciprocal.
What if they deserve it?
This is part of the problem—you thinking that women “deserve” the compliment—and that they want more than a compliment to follow—that they are on display just for you.
Of course they are on display! A compliment is just a compliment—nothing more.
From a young age, women are complimented as a way of putting them in their “place” as the beauty and sex-bearers of our culture. Most men and women do this all the time and don’t think twice about it—ever. Then the girls are pressured from that young age to be attractive and sexy no matter what. We do the same to boys with equally disturbing standards.
Look, women like compliments, and if they’re going to dress sexily, then I’m going to treat them like they want to be treated, even if that means shouting out a compliment from across the street—not that I do it, but I get it.
Even to 10 year-olds?
No, that’s too young, of course.
Come on with that.
15 year-olds? Most women have heard sexual compliments and been talked to this way—and worse—from younger than ten years old.
Listen, you make all men sound like pervs and rapists. Men like looking at women, and women who dress a certain way (I hate to say it) deserve it—especially if they’re leading someone on. They’re showing off their bodies, so it’s their fault when men advance. We can’t help it!
And therein lies the problem. We can help it. We should help it. When men leer and stare, they’re not just being rude and pervy, but they’re conditioning one more woman to put up with it. There has to be a stop.
I don’t have to listen to this. Women are just as sexual as men are, and none of us can help it. And every now and then, women really are “asking for it” even though you think they’re just dressing up for themselves or their girlfriends.
And therein lies the problem, again. The heart of the “compliment” and catcalling is often a means to sexual assessment, which leads to a justification on a spectrum of sexual assault.
Well look, men would love to be catcalled and sexually harassed.
No, now you’re taking it too far.
Not when 90% of rape cases are women who were raped. And when women bear a lifetime of catcalling, compliment, and sexual assault, rape culture continues. It been said that 90% of rapes go unreported. We have a problem, and the problem starts here.
And no—men who realize that women bear the brunt of catcalling, sexual assault, groping, and rape worldwide and from a young age would want that for themselves.
And we shouldn’t want that for them either.
Every kid wants to be complimented.
Every kid wants to please adults.
Every person wants to dress how they feel they best look to the world—whether showing off certain body parts is alluring to someone else or not.
Every person should have a right to “feel sexy” or confident or proud about their body without harmful, traumatic, and unwanted solicitation from anyone else.
And they shouldn’t have to live in fear or sexual dismissal or appraisal at any age, no matter what.
Every adult and near-adult person is a sexual creature who deserves consensual sex that is healthy for both parties.
Yes, men have evolved differently than women.
Yes, on the whole, men are “visually stimulated” more so than women.
Yes, men have a strong desire to own beauty and control the things they want and think they need—include any and all justifications of sexual action and assault.
But we have to do better—better for our culture, our women, our daughters, our boys, and ourselves.
No one deserves to be groped, molested, assaulted, or raped against their will—including men and boys—for any reason.
Even if the woman or man wants sex and changes her or his mind.
Even if the couple has a sexual history.
Even if things started out consensual and stopped midway through.
Even if our sex-obsessed culture seems to demand it.
Even if your family and friends demand or excuse it.
Even if presidents, senators, congressmen, preachers, voters, and men and women with loud and powerful voices demand it.
Even now, since forever, and until the last children of the last generation are ushered into adulthood with a healthy sense of their bodies.
Even though it’s taken us this long to get to this place of understanding.
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Good Evening Jeremy! I assume that you are unaware of the attack that our gender is under as of late. I am unable to even look at MSN, YAHOO, or even basic news anymore. Everyday for the last year you are unable to read or view a story that doesn’t revolve around this topic. This due to the fact that any one with a vagina has mysteriously decided to jump on the anti-man campaign and scream harassment, rape and/ or discrimination! These are the same woman who help The Fifty Shades of Grey author earned $95 m, along with a… Read more »
One thing always goes through my mind when I read articles like this. “What about women doing it to men?” Everyone likes to perpetuate the myth of the damsel in distress and pretend women are the only victims and men have to do X,Y,Z to save them. Nobody ever talks about the fact that men are subjected to the same treatment from women. My wife and various ex girlfriends have all been driven nearly to the point of violence by women approaching me to compliment me. By women catcalling me. I’ve been raped BY A WOMAN who used the threat… Read more »
This author fails to mention rape victims. He
doesn’t even acknowledge their existence which would why so many male victims commit suicide. Male victims never are taken seriously.
And don’t forget women. I have been raped by women all my life as a man.
The “rape culture” is all about women being abused. Seldom do you see men, other then being the perpetrator, as having been raped and/or abused. And generally when it’s same sex rape, it’s common that to hear male on male and seldom, if ever, female on female.
It goes both ways. I’ve actually been assaulted twice in 4 months… by women! “No” means “no” regardless of gender.
Interesting. I’m going to think this over. I was catcalled yesterday, just walking down a street in our town, wearing high heels, jeans and a cute off-the-shoulder top. It was pretty creepy. Women do get tired of constantly being evaluated on their appearance, as though that is all we offer, in life. I don’t think that flirting and complimenting will ever go out of style, though. I just think it has to be done in a way that isn’t threatening to a woman–doesn’t suggest that she is a prostitute, just because she’s dressed up, which is creepy, no matter what… Read more »
Great star dude! If we were in this philosophical coffee house. We’d probably be at opposite ends. But you ran with this. And that deserves a point, and respect. . Kufos
Men should know inherently that rape culture is wrong, how would they like it if they had to watch their backs everytime they were around other men. The Good Men Project is likely not the best place to be posting articles like this, it’s preaching to the choir, totally useless and has no real effect. These types of articles need posting to sports blogs, hunting and fishing blogs, perhaps guns/ammo, NRA, Republican party, Christian right, Muslim/Islam sights, etc, etc, because then we can expose the males who believe rape culture is okay, they need some major public shaming, job loss… Read more »
Here’s another article that ignores male rape victims (yes when you erase 90% of male rape victims, you are ignoring them) and doesn’t realize or doesn’t care that is a large part of the problem. If you look at the CDC statistics and the study featured in an APA article, you’ll notice that the rape of men is not insignificant and on a par with that of women with the overwhelming majority of the perpetrators women. The sixth thing you need to know about sexual assault is that survivors know they were raped whether they admit it to themselves or… Read more »
Men who go beyond seeing the victimization of men, to blaming them are the biggest problem that we face today. This type of manbashing and blaming, denial of everything modern men are trying to bring to light is exactly the problem. None of this does anything to unite us, but divide us, and I wonder is this is just some white knight attempt to gain female favor then it is to address issues. Is it an issue unto itself, a plea for female attention that has never been gained through the self. Is it here to serve men, or the… Read more »
BTW. I’ve asked this many times, mostly about race relations and social justice, to some of the more prolific writers here on that subject. I’ll bet you know who they are. Fact is, I’ve NEVER received an answer. Not once. So I’m going to ask it here, on this subject, and I do hope there’s more than just philosophical coffee talk to be had. What will this anti rape culture look like? What will it look like to you when we get there? How will it be satisfying for the vast majority of both sides of the question? How will… Read more »
I might just tackle that for a follow-up essay.
That would be great Jeremy. I really mean it. You and I might be on opposing viewpoints, but the end result is what’s important. We need the truth. In business we focus at first on the problem. Then we look at what we’d like it to be. Then we figure out if we can get there. You’d maybe surprised, but many times we realize it we can’t. For a variety of reasons. They simply need to be identified. Then it becomes acceptance. And they we move on. It’s really pretty simple. Overall. With no disrespect. This conversation is useless. Fun.… Read more »
Do you truly not hear yourself, disallowing even one man on earth to be innocent of women’s suffering? Zero innocence, no matter how much he might rather dive into a volcano than even unintentionally harm a woman? Noble intentions cannot lessen one iota how such indiscriminate shotgun messages emotionally shame, gut and disable the most deeply sensitive and caring of men who’d joyfully live, breathe and die to be women’s surest ally against misused masculine energy. I trust that you know that guilt and shame are the two most profoundly disempowering energies on the entire spectrum of human consciousness; the… Read more »
Outstanding sir. More men need to stop fearing ridicule and begin speaking up,
Just because men have problems doesn’t mean we can’t address something that women are suffering from. Maybe if women were’t suffering so much we would function better. Jeremy, don’t listen to these horrible comments, they are just made by men who refuse to look inward. I’m a three time survivor and I know EXACTLY what you are talking about, and it actually brought tears to my eyes to know that there really are good men out there. Rape is absolutely a men’s issue, and it stems from all of us judging each other on how we look. THANK YOU for… Read more »
Quite frankly, I don’t think most women suffer from anything much at all. Some do of course. But really Heather. A 3 time victim? Have you questioned your own discernment ability? I don’t mean to blame you directly, but seriously though, your stats are off the chart.
Once you are victimised it I see likely it will happen again .
For several reasons . One is that predators will be able to pick up your weakness.
There are other reasons as well.
Your comment is insensitive and also reveal your lack of knowledge.
Perhaps that may be a reason for multiple instances. That wasn’t explained from that snippet that that maybe the case. And of course you find it insensitive since no other possibility can exist in your view. I specifically mentioned that I wasn’t implying blame direct because I don’t know what her situation is. Perhaps it’s environment. Or a heavy party crowd. But one needs to look at different possibilities than merely toxic masculinity and am all inclusive rape culture that is the cause. And that was what was being discussed. It’s to blame for it all. And it’s not.
@ Iben You’re right snout the affect. I don’t know if the reasoning is right at least not completely. A lot of victims become more promiscuous or engage in self destructive behaviors. They try to numb themselves or hurt themselves because they feel that they should have somehow prevented it or seen it coming. More to the point, there are many different thoughts and feelings. The self destructive behavior: excessive drinking, drugs, etc. is what the predator sees and exploits. Sometimes it isn’t just predators. I heard one survivor say that she just stopped saying no to sex because she… Read more »
Eric Barker has a blog about psychology with lots of interest stuff.
In one of his newsletters about psychopaths, he tell about studies that show criminals can pick their victims just by watching how they walk.
And that victims of sexual assault and rape are more vulnerable to new attacks is a terrible terrible fact about life. It s not fair . But life is not fair.
Btw. Are you a psychologist. Or merely purporting to comment on what they say? I ignored, mainly, your first post on my ignorance and insensitivity. But actually, I am a psychologist, and have seen all sides of this question of which you so, honestly, stupidly, criticize. Of what school do you subscribe so I might understand your perspective? It is true that sociopaths can pick their victims. This knowledge is found on the MTV. I assume you’re very familiar with this channel vs the others. Such as NBC or CBS. If you’re not a psychologist, please, please, keep your stupid… Read more »
No I am not a psychologist.
And I have no idea what MTV.NBC or CBS is.
I am not an American .
You are angry now .
I try to understand why you are so intensity angry.
This forum is not a place for psychologist only Mark,
Here we are permitted to post comments even without a degree in psychology.
Even psychologist that can not control their aggressions are permitted to comment .
And that is fine with me …..
I didn’t say it was for psycholists only. I honor individual views. The point is you called me insensitive AND that THIS IS THE REASON why she’s the victim of multiple assaults. It is SO much more complex than this. That my friend is the sole point
Mark ” The point is you called me insensitive AND that THIS IS THE REASON why she’s the victim of multiple assaults. ” I do not understand how you can read something into what I said , that is not there. Frankly Mark,it is not there! I am well aware that my high school English is not good enough. And maybe this is an example of me totally have no understanding of the English language But I can not understand how you interpret my sentences the way your do. Of course I never said, or intended to say your insensitivity… Read more »
Ok. Time to clear the air. Since English is not your first language I can see where the two points I made were joined together. Me being insensitive is not any of the cause of her assaults. These two idea are separate issues. You said this happened because a predator senses weakness and it happens over and over. Yes. That is true as 1 possible reason, but certainly not all of the possible reasons. So to me it came across that my question had no validity. As this was the only reason, and since there was only one reason, I… Read more »
I think we understand each other better now.
It is a sensitive issue for me, and I can get angry before I think,
That is not something I am proud of.
And I am glad some people choose your profession . You are much needed.
Thank you for clearing the air! I need to do that more often.
Thank you, and your welcome, Iben, and thank you for your post. I’m glad we’ve been able to clear that misunderstanding. The sites, with rather fiery topics, and that rely on responses like emails, can get misconstrued very quickly. Have a great weekend. And I’ll look forward to seeing you again here. Mark
The reason she is a victim of multiple assaults is because multiple people assaulted her. That is it. It is the fault of the attackers and only the attackers, oh and dudes like you who blame the victim instead of blaming the perpetrator. Someone should take away your psychology degree. You are a danger to society with this line of thinking.
Her stats are not off the charts. They are unfortunately somewhat normal. You ARE blaming her directly. You are part of the problem. How would you know what women do and don’t suffer from? Do you think that many women would tell you about their experiences that made them suffer? Of course they wouldn’t, because you make it clear that you are part of the problem.
There are plenty of pro-feminist websites, where women can address their problems, however there are only few publications which are for the needs of men.
Even here with the Good Men Project, which is supposed to care about men, a large part of articles are merely about what men have to do, or should do at least, to please women.
About comments, you cannot expect all men agree with your personal opinion about ‘women sufferings’. This does not mean that their comments are ‘hateful’ and should be ignored.
@ Heather Bergsten
“Maybe if women weren’t suffering so much we would function better.”
Agree, but why do you think it would be different for men?
“and it stems from all of us judging each other on how we look.”
I don’t think that’s true at least not in all cases. There may be a small number of cases where the primary motivator is sex. Most of them I suspect are motivated by a feeling of power and the degradation of the victim.
I’m sorry you had to experience what you did.
@Heather: Actually the point of this site is to support men and these kinds of tiresome articles that harangue the sensitive men who read them, seem oddly out of place here. As others have said, there are other sites to support women. For argument’s sake, rape is not “absolutely a men’s issue and it stems from all of us judging each other on how we look.” It’s much more complex than that – I thought you might have been aware as a woman that it’s nothing to do with how we look. It’s everything to do with power amongst other… Read more »
Jesus rosy. Thank you.
I fail to understand for what this article should be good for.
It is telling obviously men to be extremely careful what they say to women and even how they look at women because if the female is in a bad mood this might be considered as sexual assault.
Maybe the best and safest way to go for a man to avoid to be considered as a part of the ‘rape culture’ is to ignore women entirely?
Jeremy. I have no idea what you’ve just said. You seem to be grouping all men together as leering at least participants of rape culture. But dammit man, go after the media. Go after Calvin Klein, on glamor magazine, and Victoria’s secret, and cosmo, and Hollywood. Ad nauseum. Your target is wrong.
You forgot Playboy, Maxim magazine, any lad mag really, GQ, pro sports that dangle cheerleaders around like pieces of meat, porn, video games, yes…Hollywood which predominately caters to men too, car ads, gun ads….all ads really that use women and their bodies….of course, alll these things are simply reflections of inherent beliefs of real men and women. Men play a role here no matter how hard you try to ignore that. Women do too. But women are taught to objectify themselves into same manner men have been teaching men and women to objectify women.
“Women do too. But women are taught to objectify themselves into same manner men have been teaching men and women to objectify women.”
But the men are demonized for treating women as sexual objects while the women are absolved of all responsibility for making themselves sexual objects. But modern feminism is all about equality I thought?
So, what exactly is it that all men should forever know? Is it that all our men are terrible rape-mongering misogynists? Or that our women are perpetual victims forever subjugated by the wilful oppression of our men? no no its probably just that as the designated villains of rape culture, all our men are individually responsible for ‘fixing’ this, recently coined, social construct as the utmost priority – “It needs to stop. Now!” Forget that our men are dying in record numbers due to unprecedented rates of mental illness, or that these rates are only ever estimates because we cannot… Read more »
I would actually argue it is you who has re-enforced toxic masculinity by responding to an article about how men can better help women and relate to women better by mocking women as victims and then preferring to talk about men as victims instead. We can talk about men’s role in how they treat and relate to women without it meaning men’s issues are being ignored.
Erin. I truly think this is much deeper thamerely ads, although that’s certainly a start. However, what would it look like to you if these media memes were gone? .would we all suddenly look at each other as humans? But then what about sexuality. What about a man’s duty to be the more aggressive one initiating romance. Not tape. But romance. I think you as feminists need to reduce the your own sister’s on being open and accepting of men as non aggressive beings. Most of us are. But then get rejected by being too nice. Weird.
Actually, it is you that is perpetuating the myth of toxic masculinity. You’ve even twisted the word to your own meaning. When Shepard Bliss coined the term well back in the 90s, it was in relation to how society abuses men, teaches then self destructive ways that even deny them the ability to speak up when treated in such ways, as you are doing here. The reality is, (and this would be funny if it were not so sad), that in castigating him, you are actually the one re-enforcing toxic masculinity. We constantly pound men with this nonsense, even on… Read more »
One of the distinction is are men being treated as A villain in rape culture or THE villain in rape culture. What’s lost is that when the author ignores female perpetrators and erases 90% of male victims, he is perpetrating rape culture.
I remember controversies over skirt length. Women would mock it saying what are you going to do, get a ruler and measure the skirts. It seems though that some people want to use a stop watch and time when a man “looks” at a woman because of course he can’t just be looking in her direction.