Rape isn’t a Women’s Issue; it is a Hyper-Masculinity Issue

Recently I wrote in the RedEye about a North Dakota study that found 30% of young men would rape if they weren’t caught…and if you didn’t call it rape. It as a scary study but one that was not to surprising to me. We try to teach young people about consent in such a mechanical disconnected way I don’t see how anyone can actually relate it to their lives.

Here is a bit from my piece:

If we want to decrease sexual assault on college campuses, we need to work with our young men to help them unyoke masculinity and sex. Rape culture isn’t a woman’s issue—it is really a hypermasculinity issue.

Beyond teaching our young men that their gender identity is not tied to the amount of sex they can coerce, we also need to change how we teach kids about sex. The University of North Dakota study also found that men who intended to use force to get sex also tended to score high on sexual callousness, meaning they were detached during sex and saw sex as a depersonalized act instead of something intimate.

In a way it makes sense. We teach sex in a disconnected, dispassionate way. We talk about reproductive organs and put condoms on bananas. We create strict lines and boundaries on chalkboards that nowhere resemble what actual sex looks like.

We don’t teach our kids how to talk to their partner during sex, how to listen to their bodies or their partners’ bodies, how to ask for sex, how to say “slow down” during sex, how to stop in the middle of sex, how to start again. We don’t teach them about the maybes of sex, the negotiations, the connection or the intimacy. We teach sex as mechanical, a matter of logistics, not what it actually is—a highly emotional, complex act between two (or three or four) people.

We need to teach our young people that sex can be this fun, healthy, silly, sexy thing. It isn’t as big as we make it to be. It isn’t unspeakable. The more we break the silence about good sex, the easier it will be to stamp out the bad.

This is what #survivorprivilege looks like

This was a seriously hard column to write. I had so many unexpected thoughts and feelings while I was writing it. I kept just getting so frustrated and angry that this was a thing and that I had to explain what rape survivors don’t have privilege in the sense that asshat white men talk about privilege. There I go again; feeling the rant coming. Here are my feels in edited form:

“According to RAINN, only 40 percent of rapes are reported. Of those 40 percent, only 20 percent are ever brought to trial and only 10 percent will ever be found guilty. Most victims go through the painful process of having to relive their trauma over and over, having every detail of what they drank, what they were wearing and what they said scrutinized for possible indications that the victim led their assailant on (aka that they “wanted it”), only to have the entire process end with the rapist walking away.

No wonder young women choose the less of two evils, choosing to report to their colleges so at least their perpetrators won’t be sharing a bathroom with them the morning before their chemistry exam. I want George Will to think about this the next time he tries to claimrape survivors have privilege. Young women have two options: file charges with the police with a 10 percent chance of being their rapist being found guilty or go to the university and attempt to salvage any remnants of safety in their homes. What a privilege.”

Check out the full rant here. 

Slutwalk and the Big Words: Benevolent Sexism, Privilege and Empathy

Today is Bloomington’s Slutwalk, which seems to have brought out some of the ugliest ignorance from a student “american facist” group. The Tradyouth group plans on protesting the walk. I’m not a huge fan of yelling unproductive confrontation such as that from neo-nazi-esque undergrads but at least I know how to deal with it, how to categorize it and set it aside. Tradyouth is an easy to categorize “other” that I can set on the opposite side of a binary scale from myself. For better or worse, I can block them out.

What I’m having a harder time understanding and dealing with the benevolent sexism coming from liberals on “my side” of the debate. Alright let’s be frank… I’m getting perturbed with the the liberal males on my side who have been telling me to “be careful” at the rally.

Look, I get it. Really I do. These guys aren’t trying to be sexists; they are trying to be protective and caring.  Neo-nazis are scary as shit. They are terrifying just in their sheer belief of supremacy and righteougness. They are a group you need to be “careful” around. But of course I know this. And that is why you don’t need to tell me to be careful. Because I’m an intelligent rational human being who has weighed the pros and cons of risk, and has decided this is a cause worth marching for. Telling me to be careful feels like you don’t believe in my ability to determine for myself what is risky or not; like you don’t understand my own autonomy.

But more than just feeling this benevolent sexism weight down on me like a depressing 1950s era wet blanket, I get a little pissed. Because in this “be careful” statement is also a way for these father-figure liberal males to separate themsevles from the movement. I can’t help but wonder “why won’t you be there?” If you are against the little neo-nazis, if you are for a culture free of slut-shaming, why don’t you march with us.

Yes I’m sure it relates to privilege, to not understanding why we really need to rally. Honestly there is nothing more infuriating than a man trying to tell you how you “should” feel about some from of cultural gender oppression. As if saying  “Don’t take it so seriously!” will suddenly open the eyes of a woman who really just has her panties in too big a bunch. There is a problem that we can never really understand the position of a minority group, we can never be them. But someone this also translates into not standing with them, and fighting with them. Because we don’t understand we sit on the sidelines and wag our fingers about being careful.

I say “we” because this is not a male/ female issue. I am a white, cis-gendered, middle class person. I have massive amounts of privilege. I think this often stops me of speaking up even when I see racism or other cultural forms of discrimination. It stops me from marching sometimes because I don’t know if it is my place, I don’t know were I fit in the movement, I don’t know where I should stand. It can be awkward.

My freshman year of college I lived on the multiculrual floor. One night a group of us were playing touch football and some white bros yelled the n-word at a group of men we were playing with. A fight ensued. It was dramatic and terrifying. But I remember most is afterwards the separation that came between races. I remember being offended. Why couldn’t I be part of the discussion? Why couldn’t I help?

What I didn’t understand was the need for this group of men to have their own space to process, to allow their minority identity to be front and center without having to explain to an outsider. What they needed from me was empathy, to understand what they experienced was angering, shaming, and a whole multitude of other emotions. They did not need me “to make it better” or to tell them what they should have done differently.

All they needed, all I could do, was to hear them, let them have their experience without my input. Sometimes we can be the best allies, we can validate other’s identities, just by listening without trying to solve anything. Empathy and silent listening is the cure to benevolent sexism and privilege.

some benevolent sexism from a mom

some benevolent sexism from a mom on facebook

 

Wisconsin high school editors censored for talking about rape

This one touches close to home guys! I was the editor-in-chief for my high schools newspaper “The Buzz.” I remember trying to fight for some quasi-controversial topics and they were always denied. These kids at Fondy High not only had the gumption to write on something as controversial as rape culture but they did so in an incredibly honest and articulate way. (read the full article here.) They should not be being censored but congratulated. Take a few minutes to read their piece and sign the petition to uncensor high school newspapers in Fond du Lac! 

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I also got a column in the RedEye about the issue! Hopefully this gives the petition some more momentum!

“Girls Should Stop Drinking to Stop Rape” = Still Shitty Advice

I’ve got a new column in the RedEye today about why the whole “girls shouldn’t drink if they want to not get raped” is still shitty advice. We need better advice guys!

“We blame the woman and her drinking partially to make ourselves feel like that couldn’t happen to us. But these young women aren’t that different from you and me. They just have less luck. I’m not saying we all shouldn’t drink less. (No one ever needs to do a Malort shot ever again.) But drinking less will not solve our rape issue. Only when we address why young men are raping can we move on…’

Read more at http://www.redeyechicago.com/news/ct-red-1028-fritzp4-20131027,0,3532844.story#kurIuCEWc7gwv4KQ.99