June 9th, 2009
|09:38 pm - It Amazes Me, the Will of Instinct|
cereta has made an excellent post about the insidious thought processes that pervade society regarding rape, and rachelmanija has supplemented with a list of myths out of which, in her experience, most men she's discussed rape with believe at least one. This is not to say that all men are rapists or all men are idiots or all men are ruled by their penises, but it is to say that all men better take a good look at themselves and figure out what they believe. If they happen to discover they believe one of those things, it's not the end of the world, just the beginning of the re-education process. We pick up so much of our values and assumptions about people through cultural osmosis, and it's only when you take them out of the soup and examine them separately that you can determine whether or not they belong in the soup at all. And it's up to us to keep the soup tasty.
Okay, this post is a mess. I had some really good soup with dinner; it's distracting me. Let me back up.
I do not believe that once a man is sexually aroused, he's not responsible for his own actions, nor that sex is inevitable and something he can't control. That's an extreme view of things, but I can totally see how someone would believe it. Because I've done some things I'm not proud of. I am no paragon of goodness and virtue. Not that I think myself capable of rape, but until reading Rachel's post, I had never really considered that the first two things in her list were not true. I had never specifically considered them to be true, either, but the fact that I did not immediately disagree with them meant that somewhere inside me sure believed them. I read the rest of the list very closely, making sure I understood perfectly what was being stated and exactly how and why I should disagree. Because these myths get perpetuated almost innocently without your even knowing it and then they get deep inside your soul and the only antidote is direct confrontation.
The main reason I was compelled to post, however, was because of the comments to cereta's post. Her post describes That Guy, the one who would never rape a woman, the one who would do what he could to make sure someone else didn't rape a woman either. And the comments are full of examples of Those Guys. Men like that ought not to be commended because behavior like that should be the norm (they don't give out medals for Not Raping Someone), but cereta makes the point that, regardless, we don't hear enough about them. All we hear about are the rapists in the news, so, again, that's the image that gets perpetuated and digs deep inside your soul. Reading the stories women were telling, I realized I needed to hear them. To know that things like that happened. In real life. It gave me an appreciation of the sort of situations in which being That Guy is necessary and what action That Guy would take. I had never consciously thought about what I might do in some situations, but now I have some good examples to emulate.
This post is still a mess. Basically, everyone should go read those two posts and the comments, especially if you're a guy. Make sure to be That Guy, and do what you can to foster the development of little That Guys, and let's try to spread the That Guy vibe to men whose belief systems and behavior need some correcting. Because they sure as hell aren't going to listen to women.
Current Mood: thoughtful
Current Music: Great Northern - Home
This is all pretty familiar to me after a few years of hanging around with feminists, but it's also stuff that still needs to be said again and again and again. Before I really took an interest in feminism, I had no idea how prevalent these myths and attitudes were, how often people blamed the victim, how many guys there were out there who believed that women existed for their personal use.
Now that I know, whenever I hear a friend or coworker spout something along these lines or otherwise sexist, I try to make it clear to them that they're wrong and they need to change how they think.
I've been thinking about that first post and the comments to it all week, and it's been making me think about how unendingly bleak/frightening it would be if I went through life constantly aware of all the statistics and facts and figures about sexual assault etc. I realized that I usually feel very safe. I don't know if that's stupid, or sheltered, or if it means I'm lucky to be somewhere slightly safer than the norm. (Montreal is pretty spectacularly safe in most areas.) I don't think I can live with that conscious awareness - it would make every interaction suspect. Yesterday a man on the metro offered me his seat (I gave mine to an old lady, so I guess he was paying it forward) and when I declined he accidentally poked me in the back and I totally and completely mentally froze, because all of these thoughts were burbling around in my head. And of course he immediately apologized and it was all ok - but I totally cannot live with that kind of freeze. I need to be able to believe in the basic decency of other people, I need to be able to smile and respond to people who talk to me on the bus without worrying that it will turn into an attack. But the truth is that there are girls and women who live in much more danger than I do and who have experienced much much worse things than the minor panics I've had, and I need to be more active about reminding other people of that (by questioning both their language and my own).
Anyways, that was a babble, but the real point is that I think this post is wonderful. It's such a great and sensitive and real response. And I would totally trust you to be That Guy and to teach your little future baby Sunils to be That Guys too. :)
Oh, Punzie. I hate that you have to think about these things. I completely understand how you feel. Um, I mean, obviously not completely because I can never truly understand, but I am so with you on wanting to believe in the basic decency of other people and not wanting you to live in fear. I would really like the world to get to a place where you can feel safe even not in Montreal, but changing the world is a daunting task, so we'll just have to do it person by person.
I would like the world to get there too. *hugs*
You know, nothing has ever happened to me. I have never been assaulted, or even come close. I still felt very uneasy walking back at night from work in the dark when I lived in Boston. I could never quite shake the feeling that the guy walking a good distance behind me meant me harm. I don't know why, maybe the alerts I would get in my email telling me that a girl was murdered in her apartment only blocks from where I lived? Just the general culture of the big city and all the bad that happened on a daily basis?
With all that said, I generally felt safe most of the time. I didn't put myself into harms way on purpose, and if given the opportunity to move back and live there again, I totally would.
|Date:||June 11th, 2009 10:31 am (UTC)|| |
I do this in London all the time. I am HYPER AWARE of who is around me on the street - how busy it is, what sex they are, etc. Sometimes (because everyone walks faster than me) a guy comes up real fast behind me and I inwardly freak out, only to be reassured when he passes me. I will totally cross the street not to have to pass a guy too close late at night if we're the only ones walking there. It's silly, and mostly in my head, but I think it's a natural reaction for a lot of women. And sometimes I want to shake those guys and say "look! you may not like it, and i'm sorry if this makes you feel bad but it's not about you - it makes women nervous when you get too close like that, so be aware of your body language and your walking paths" because it's a little thing they could do to help the people around them feel safer.
Hmmmm, I guess I've thought about this a lot!
I think that actually coming across an attempted assault is rare, for most of us. What would be really helpful, and is much more common, would be for men to be more vocal about promoting good behavior toward women when they're talking to other men.
Like you say, it's startling for most people to vocalize, "Just because you're aroused doesn't mean you have to have sex." If more men started telling other men, "If you're not sure if a woman wants to have sex with you, ASK HER," that would be a huge improvement over current conditions.
Thank you for linking that post.
Hey man, the very fact that you are worried that on some subconscious level you believed certain statements only proves you are one of the good guys. We need more men like you who step back to question and analyze their own beliefs and attempt to make themselves better people. It sucks to be a guy sometimes because I am six feet tall and about 2 1/2 feet wide and when I make a fist it is about the size of a grapefruit and when women see me and my dark skin and evil little beard they wonder if I am going to attack them (which is very akward when you are tyring to order in a Starbucks, let me tell you). But, my awkwardness is nothing compared to the fear of being ogled, objectified, and possibly attacked. So I deal and I try to spread awareness and I try to make the environment a little less hostile, and that's all I can do, all most of us can do.
But, my awkwardness is nothing compared to the fear of being ogled, objectified, and possibly attacked.
Yes, this exactly. This is what I'm concluding.
So I deal and I try to spread awareness and I try to make the environment a little less hostile, and that's all I can do, all most of us can do.
You rock. (And the idea that anyone finds you threatening is kind of hilarious, obviously. But I understand.)
Aw, thanks. I like you too.