Wednesday, March 20, 2013

On Rape Culture; A Message to the Good Guys




I have been trying to find the words to meld together and organize into comprehensible sentences. Thoughts. A message. But I am mostly just overwhelmed by the one thing I feel so compelled to write about. I avoid it in general, when and where I can because I don't want to feel like I'm contributing to a culture of victim thinking... which is a whole problem all it's own that desperately needs to be dealt with. A pervasive issue that is affecting everything from interpersonal relationships to big scale government corruption. I also know the crippling nature of anger in our lives and how focusing too much on the injustices around us causes us to internalize a severe amount of hurt and fear and rage. How that is a poison that if we allow it, can ruin everything good we experience. It undermines our ability to process humor and connection and joy. But...


I need to write about rape culture. I can't avoid it anymore. Because it's own brand of poison has already taken root in my life and refusing the antidote because if its negative side effects is no longer an option. I need to talk about it because simply acknowledging the good guys out there and focusing on them isn't enough to balance out the prevailing attitudes that are so dangerous to women. It's the good guys that I need to speak to about this. Because while I am furious at CNN (and other media outlets) for sympathizing with the Steubenville rapists, it is true that the were good students with promising futures and talent in the athletic arena. And that info, while delivered with the entirely wrong slant, is important to know. Because most rapists have good qualities in addition to the bad. They are people. Not creatures waiting in an alleyway at night only existing in the moment of their crime.

The reason I want to talk to the good guys is because while they know what consent means, they are interacting daily with other males who do not, and it's easy to assume that they do. It's easy to write off things that their friends and co-workers and family members say as being a joke rather than something indicative of a thinking problem. It's easy as human beings to live our lives under the assumption that the people we are surrounded with, for the most part, know what we know. At a base level believe what we believe.

It's also easy to assume of ourselves that because we would never intentionally disregard someone else's physical boundaries and act on our urges against their will, that our attitudes and our talk to and about other human beings are innocent and respectful. It's too easy to fall back on "normal" and not question ourselves.Or where that brand of thinking came from. But my point that I am trying to get to, is that by the time we are in a court room debating what  does and does not constitute consent we have already long since failed. The fact that someone who was otherwise a "good person" (whatever that means... we're all capable of evil) was able to act in a way that is so ridiculously far off of the correct path is proof that somewhere along the way we as a society, whether that be a small HS football town, a family or the whole country, began taking little steps in the wrong direction.

Please. Do not confuse what I've said to mean that I actually think there was ever a point in time where things were 100% on the right track in this regard. I don't. But I do Think that there are many men who've got it as close to right as a human can get when it comes to their attitude toward women. Now and throughout our history. But... it's not being taught for the most part. The closest I feel we're getting outside of a few communities that go out of their way to focus on it, is trial, error, backlash and a lot of people left feeling like they're mangled and/or walking on eggshells.

To be honest I feel both of those things. Right now.

And while there is so much more to say I have to leave you with a cliffhanger. Because from here there are multiple different components of the problem that each deserve their own post... and they will get them....

To be Continued...

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