Trigger warning for discussion of rape.
Thomas at Yes Means Yes quotes from a paper by Lisak, the groundbreaking rape researcher, about the characteristics of male rapists (unfortunately, I am unaware of similar studies about female rapists): “more angry at women, more motivated by the need to dominate and control women, more impulsive and disinhibited in their behavior, more hyper-masculine in their beliefs and attitudes, less empathic and more antisocial.”
The lesson here for masculists should be simple.
If a man believes that he cannot care about other people’s emotions, because if he did he would be like a woman, and that would be the worst thing ever… if a man believes that he must have power over other people, especially women, because if he didn’t he would be like a woman, and that would be the worst thing ever… if a man believes he must reinforce his masculinity, because if he didn’t he would be like a woman, and that would be the worst thing ever… if a man believes he must be angry, must be impulsive, must be dominant, because if he didn’t he would be like a woman, and that would be the worst thing ever…
That man is more likely to rape people. Period.
In short, gender-policing causes rape. You want to end the rape of women? Work for men to have freedom from gender roles– even the limited freedom that women have right now.
Disrespect for Boundaries
Our culture is fucked right the fuck up about boundaries.
Let us consider a hug. Pat doesn’t like to be hugged for whatever reason– could be anything from childhood abuse to wanting to save physical contact for people Pat really likes to a simple distaste. Robin, on the other hand, is a very touchy-feely person and loves hugs. One day, Robin hugs Pat without permission. Pat freezes and very politely asks that Robin not hug her.
What’s the reaction we’re likely to hear?
“Why don’t you like hugs? Hugs are great! Everyone loves hugs! Come on, just hug me once and I promise I won’t make you again. You’re so weird that you don’t like hugs. Are you sure you aren’t just making this up? Come on, everyone likes hugs, don’t be so ridiculous.” Occasionally other people will get involved in the social pressure to hug.
We systematically disrespect people’s boundaries, and then we expect people to be assertive when they have boundaries in bed. We tell women they’re being mean, or crazy, or stuck-up, or angry, when they strongly assert who they do or do not want to touch their bodies, and then we expect them to yell and kick and scream and punch when someone is trying to touch them in a different way they don’t want. We expect women to care about other people’s feelings and their pride and be diplomatic instead of saying “DON’T FUCKING TOUCH ME,” and then we are surprised when women care about other people’s feelings and their pride and are diplomatic instead of punching the rapist in the face.
Men, we cut out the middleman just think they’re being mean or crazy or stuck-up or angry in sex and non-sex. You don’t want a perfectly attractive girl to give you a blowjob? What, are you a fag or something?
Rape Is Really Important, That’s Why We’re Ignoring It
But our culture does care about rape.
Most people, if you ask them, will say that they are against rape and look at you funny for asking the question. Rapists are incredibly evil scary monsters, you see. They jump out of bushes to hold young screaming women down and force them to have sex, and then the women are traumatized forever. They also probably have claws and pointy teeth and say MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA a lot.
Hell, even rape apologists agree rape is bad. They’ll just say things like “all these people who just had someone continue sex with them after they said no are taking attention away from real rape survivors!” who are, presumably, the people who had a rapist jump out of a bush at them.
Our culture hates rape– and that’s why so many people question rape survivors.
Because rapists aren’t incredibly evil scary monsters. A rapist could be your best friend, the guy who sat behind you in high school algebra, your parent, your sibling, your lover. A rapist can be the handsome football star; a rapist can be the beauty queen cheerleader. A rapist can be a feminist who says all the right things about anti-oppression and bodily autonomy. A rapist could be the lead singer of an indie rock band, an Oscar-winning filmmaker, an activist for free speech and transparency in government. The only thing that makes rapists different from ordinary people is that they rape people.
And that’s scary. Because if rapists are ordinary people, not monsters, it means that someone you know and like and respect can be a rapist. It means that you might even be a rapist!
So people try to minimize rape. Newspapers say “sexual intercourse” instead of “alleged rape” or feature rape stories in the Odd News. Judges at rape trials sometimes ban the use of the word “rape” as unfairly prejudicial. Survivors describe their rapist continuing sex with them after they say no as “gray rape” or “not really rape.” People a rape survivor discloses to say you must have enjoyed it or but you were leading him on or it wasn’t rape, it was just sex you regretted the next day or well, he’s a nice guy and you don’t want to ruin his life. Whoopi Goldberg claims that Roman Polanski raping a thirteen-year-old girl who was too drunk and high to consent and saying no as “not rape-rape” (no, I am STILL not over that). Police officers and prosecutors and judges and juries are disbelieving or unmotivated or victim-blaming.
Rape survivors’ behavior after the rape is policed. If they didn’t report it immediately because they were in shock, if they didn’t report it at all because they didn’t want to relive the experience, if they were in denial, if they have a happy sex life afterward, if they don’t seem traumatized enough, they’re not a “real” rape survivor, so we don’t have to face the fact that rapists are ordinary people, often people we like and admire.
And the vast majority of rapists– acquaintance rapists– rape again and again and again, and never get put in prison or suffer any consequences for their actions, as their victims suffer from trauma, PTSD, substance abuse, problems with intimacy, flashbacks…
This is the kind of thing that makes me want to quit the human race and become a squid. Squid never do this kind of shit.