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Rape of a woman vs. Assault of a man - Elf M. Sternberg
Rape of a woman vs. Assault of a man
I am a man.

I'm pretty sure, when I went off to college, that my mother and father sincerely believed that I would make it through all of college without getting beaten up. The "beat down," in their vocabulary, something reserved for low-lifes and in my mother's case, sadly, for people with skin significant shades darker than her French heritage.

The right wing is notably upset about the current attention being paid to rape culture, to the cultural mindset that makes women prey and men- some men- predators. The real target of this attention is the support mechanisms of rape culture, the guys who laugh at jokes about drunk women, who snicker at rape jokes, who help the rapist feel comfortable among other men. The idea behind the pact is that, upon hearing about a guy who "took advantage" of a woman too drunk to consent, most men are now trained to believe "There but for the grace of God..." when what we want them to think is "I'm better than that."

Harvey Mansfield goes on a tear about Feminism and its Discontents, complaining that (cliche warning) humorless feminism now wants a culture of sexual adventure that never results in a "misadventure."

Rape isn't "misadventure." Falling off the bed and spraining your ankle during sexual adventure is misadventure. Straining your neck during marathon cunnilingus is misadventure. Running into a misplaced elbow during orgasmic collapse is misadventure.

Failing to respect your partner isn't misadventure. It's being a jerk. Failing to respect your partner's "no" isn't misadventure, it's rape.

A beat-down isn't a misadventure. It's a deliberate attack by one human being on another with intent. It isn't the physical trauma of a bicycle crash or falling out of a tree. It's a deliberate act by one human being visited upon another. And it's cause for police involvement.

Beat-downs happen rarely, because men view other men both as potential brothers-in-arms and as equals, and as threats: the likelihood is high that in any one-on-one physical fight, both men are going to get seriously hurt. That parity doesn't exist between men and women, and women at college don't have the familial and social structure necessary to visit any kind of tribal retribution on the male perpetrator. This is one of many factors that lowers the threshold that enables men to contemplate rape as a rational act.

Mansfield's "misadventure" isn't just about illegality or disrespect. It's about parents failing to teach young men to view women as their equals, to respect their boundaries, to learn how to communicate and hear women's wants and desires. One person recently and brilliantly said that "For some men, preserving misogyny is more important than sexual pleasure." I'm afraid we're going to have to put Harvey Mansfield into that group.

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Current Mood: annoyed annoyed

2 comments or Leave a comment
icecreamempress From: icecreamempress Date: June 23rd, 2014 07:04 am (UTC) (Link)
This is beautifully said. Thank you!
kengr From: kengr Date: June 23rd, 2014 09:22 am (UTC) (Link)
I've been working my way thru someone's old tumblr posts, so it's not practical to find the one I'm remembering.

But the basic idea was a teacher talking to some college students. She describes some typical boy-girl interactions, first at preschool. The "usual" taking toys, bothering the girl etc. But all "oh he likes her" or similar comments.

The teacher continues with different incidents in grade school, middle school, even high school.

Then she does one with an 18 year old guy and girl at college, and everyone agrees that he should realize that he shouldn't be pressuring her or ignoring her "no".

At which point the teacher fired back "And how exactly is he supposed to have learned that? According to all of you it was fine for him to do that sort of stuff from pre-school on up. But now it's suddenly wrong? Why is 18 or college some sort of magic divider?"

Frankly the same sort of thing happens with bullying type behavior. In spite of your arguments, at best the means change.

I'm becoming more and more convinced that anyone using lines like "boys will be boys" or any of the related platitudes about bullying or other misbehavior should be charged with failure to do their job be they a teacher or a parent.

We need to realize that we are teaching kids this shit is ok practically from the point they can talk if not earlier.
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