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Not Joking About Rape - Elf M. Sternberg
Not Joking About Rape
Dr. Science over at Obsidian Wings has an article about Being That Dad, the one who brings up uncomfortable subjects and confronts the status quo at his child's schools and social events. The subject he brings up is rape culture: the expectation that "boys will be boys" and "teenage boys joke about rape as a way of figuring out sexuality," and how this topic is Not Cool.

I know how he feels. I have two teenage daughters now, and as they get older I get more and more nervous about the fact that one in eighteen college men admits to using excessive alcohol and/or the threat of violence as a way of getting sex, and are comfortable describing it as long as it's not called "rape."

The other day I was bored and hanging out on a few porn Tumblrs, and I followed a link to a guy whose taste in women got progressively, disturbingly younger the closer to the present time I went. Just as disturbing was the language he used: "I can't wait to ruin a chick like that," "I can't wait to tear some chick's shit up." It reminded me that we live in a viciously rape-accepting culture: when Slashdot runs an article about brogrammers as guys who are "cool" because their employers provide "naked chicks in the hot tub," or when Don't Ask Don't Tell advocates claim that "unit cohesion depends upon a unified mindset that sees sexually conquering women as an important aspect of the soldier's persona," you're seeing a world where men look to other men for Iron John qualities and quantities of emotional validation and source of self-esteem, and see women as good only for sexual relief irrespective of their value as human beings.

Dr. Science has a nifty definition of this kind of sexual identity: subtractive masculinity, in which being "a man" is defined by being "not a woman": if women are socially smart, men must be socially dumb; if women are beautiful, men must be either slovenly or at least purely utilitarian; if woman are moral, men must be evil. The brogrammer thing upsets me especially because it's basically creating a Last Bastion of Male Privilege: a confluence of concentrated wealth, privilege, and a century of "girls can't do math" has all added up to a hyper-insulated culture dedicated to Keeping The Subhumans Out.

If you have a subtractive view of masculinity, as long as women keep demonstrating that they can do what men do, then eventually there will no masculinity, and no men. Guys who buy into this mindset are primed to be rapists: both their frustration with a system that is failing them and their inability to see women as fully human excuses what they do.

There's a reason I wear a kilt and the Tony Stark beard. There's a reason I can talk My Little Pony and bench press 230lbs. There's a reason I have a pink cell phone cover and a working knowledge of both handguns and the Bible. I hang out with my daughters and their peers all the time, volunteering regularly for chaperone duties, and I usually take the kilt: I want to demonstrate to the young men and women in their peer group, if only for a moment, that masculinity is not predicated on avoidance but instead relies on cultivating and building on courage, industry, resolution, self-reliance, discipline, and honor. You know, the human virtues.

If you can, help Jim Hines raise money for rape and battery shelters. But more than that, don't listen to jokes about rape and be silent. One in eighteen men admits to having used force and/or deliberate excessive intoxication as a way to coerce sex from an unconsenting victim. Rapists believe that all men rape, but the ones who don't get caught are just smarter at it. In any group where someone makes a joke about rape, if you don't speak up, that one guy in eighteen thinks you're on his side.


If you want a gorge-rising look at what creates a rape culture, you couldn't do better than look at the Christian website Shield of Faith and its table of masculine vs. feminine virtues. Masculine "truth seeking and truth telling" is counterposed with feminine "obedience and surrender." Masculine "problem solving" is counterposed with feminine "sensitivity."

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Current Mood: frustrated frustrated
Current Music: Maaya Sakamoto, Alice Was a Boy

6 comments or Leave a comment
kistha From: kistha Date: April 16th, 2012 08:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
You are awesome. Thanks.
gromm From: gromm Date: April 16th, 2012 08:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh my god.

Someone has actually written something on rape culture that didn't immediately make me say "What the fuck are you talking about? You're an idiot". Usually well before the end of the article.

Thank you! That has been most helpful.
mundens From: mundens Date: April 17th, 2012 01:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for writing that. It's a nice succinct description of both the issues involved and what one man can do about it.

Paragraph six also contains the second best reason for wearing a kilt I've ever heard!
gromm From: gromm Date: April 20th, 2012 07:36 pm (UTC) (Link)

I loved this part.

I want to demonstrate to the young men and women in their peer group, if only for a moment, that masculinity is not predicated on avoidance but instead relies on cultivating and building on courage, industry, resolution, self-reliance, discipline, and honor. You know, the human virtues.

I like to say it like this:

Real Men drag their asses out of bed at 6am to make sure they show up on time to a job they don't like, if for little more reason than to just pay their bills and not fall into bankruptcy. The credit bureau is keeping score.

The fact of the matter remains that with this ruleset there is much leeway for drinking fruity cocktails, wearing pink silk shirts, working as a hairdresser or a nurse, dating people that you like rather than people you're "supposed to", and keeping your house clean. In this way, a flamboyant gay bottom can be a Real Man (or maybe a grownup? Like all the women who do the same?) just like anyone else who has the discipline to drag their ass out of bed when they ought to, the self-reliance to survive on their own by virtue of their own industry, the resolution to finish the job, the honour to be honest, and the courage to be out of the closet. If anything, the latter counts for extra points.
kistha From: kistha Date: April 21st, 2012 11:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Can I link to this?
elfs From: elfs Date: April 22nd, 2012 02:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, of course.
6 comments or Leave a comment