Seriously? Not This Again…

So Jezebel writer Anna North discussed today the Anti-Rape Dress Code at the University of Buea in Cameroon. And I’m just really starting to wonder … when the fuck are we going to knock this horse shit off?

When will we stop with this attitude of “yeah, okay, a rape is a victim crime entirely based in control and not about sexuality, but toning down the sexuality would help a lot”? It’s such obvious and direct hypocrisy, and everybody just accepts it like it’s obviously logical, even if the statement is quite that literal.

Not to mention the implication that it’s just a straight crime done by men to women. Women need a dress code to be kept safe, but men are simply the perpetrators so there’s no need to protect them with silly dress codes or anything.

And how about some new ideas, world? Dress codes have existed since the dawn of mass education, often conservative ones (I’m thinking of catholic schools and other private institutions for k-12) and they don’t show any signs of preventing sexual assault or harassment. Why is it so DIFFICULT for us, seemingly as a species, to consider programs that teach boys how to not assault and harass girls, instead of simplistic rules that only make the outsides look presentable and rape-free?

I know this idea isn’t some new genius creation on my part, but they’re not common, not even on college campuses. Not as common as silly little dress rules anyway about covering your knees and shoulders. Oh, and then when you DO get campaigns aimed at men…

Recently on Facebook (not through Men Can Stop Rape’s direct facebook, thank God) I found MCSR’s series on, well, their namesake. It’s not really so much about men checking in with themselves and partners and seeing about consent, BUT it is about men holding other men accountable and not condoning their potentially shitty behavior towards women. Readers, I think this is fantastic! The blame and responsibility for men’s oppressive actions and violence have been put on us for decades, no, centuries, and now there’s a group that’s come together and is attempting to tilt that aim? Awesome!

Yet, I saw (more than one, on each of the four-five posters) comment that went something like this:

Congratulations on keeping to gender norms and assuming that only men rape women [or, when a man was shown respecting his gay date, “that only men rape”]. No, seriously, shame on you. DOWN WITH THE PATRIARCHY! [No, seriously, somebody said that.]

Now look, I don’t want to come off like I’m somehow think that rape is a straight game only of male violence, or even by a majority. Violence is overly condoned as a whole in this culture, and assuming consent is too common in all relationship types. But can’t we just acknowledge a good step in the right direction when it happens? Am I being too hopeful or lazy when I say that not just culture change but mass cultural phenomenon change is something that has to happen slowly?

I mean, it’s fantastic to assume that the end of the Mayan calendar is actually a sign of mass enlightenment and life will be that easy and change that quick; but the truth is, there’s a lot of change I want to see in this world in the way of gender interaction and sexual acceptance that I just may not live to see. I understand that each conversation I have with people can be a change in another’s world perspectives (or even my own), but I don’t expect people to become as out there as me overnight (or for me to become like another person’s beliefs).

The truth is, before I start writing this blog and researching women’s rights issues, nobody had ever really presented the argument to me before that a woman is never responsible for her rape, that the man always is. I had never seen the idea before that sexual irresponsibility and violence is not just “boys being boys”. And yeah, I probably had some assumptions that clothing inspired rape. Maybe in the feminist world these ideas are widespread and evolving quickly, but we’re not trying to change our own minds, we’re trying to inspire the general public. And the slate they’re coming from isn’t necessarily a fantastic start.

So yes, we know that men rape women, and men rape men, and women rape women, and yes even women rape men. But we’re comparing our knowledge to a masses that’s basically still in the dark ages of sexuality mentalities: rape is done by large, masked, and – let’s be honest with ourselves here – black strangers with weapons and lots of force. And women appreciate their sexual virtue above their life itself so they’d furiously fight their way out of it. Anything that deviates from those norms is, obviously, not a rape. If she says it was, she’s just a whore with morning after regret.

I feel we feminists, as an activist-y subset of the world, learn quick. We don’t accept the norms for what they are, so we learn and expand our thought processes, and we speed on light years ahead of the world around us in figuring out what humanity and appropriate treatment of one another is. We accept grey scale like nobody else. And that level of intellect is liberating, it truly is. The problem, is we forget what it’s like in the box, assuming any of us were ever there. We expect everybody to develop as quickly as we have, to change the world to our needs at the drop of the hat. But there’s 7 billion minds to change, folks. Just remember that once in a while, as you’re formulating your argument against somebody whose on your side.

To take this post somewhere completely different, I’m going to link out to a video I found last night. It’s long, and much more about the message than the viewing (just her in her kitchen), I know I listened while playing Minecraft (cue geek alarm). It’s a fascinating feminist point of view though: arguing that, in the majority of the world, systemic gendered violence is not an issue of women, but of men. (I’d argue that in some cultures, violence against women IS still considered an acceptable norm, ie genital mutilation, but it doesn’t take away from her point at all.) It’s definitely a video that qualifies under that “light years ahead of most folks” category, but you’ll view your world a little differently afterwards, assuming your mind is open to the message.

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~ by Stefani Vonne on 01/13/2012.

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