So, I just finished reading this article that one of my Facebook friends shared. It was talking about the juvenile court case in Steubenville, Ohio where 2 young football players “carried the unconscious body of a local girl from party to party, violating her in ways you’d probably prefer not to think about.” The defense is arguing that this young girl, who was either fully or mostly unconscious the entire time, wasn’t raped because “she didn’t affirmatively say no.” …Excuse me?! I’m sorry, was the fact that she wasn’t conscious not clear enough?! This isn’t the way this works, you don’t get to just go and do whatever you want as long as the girl doesn’t “affirmatively say no.” You need to get consent. You need to be given permission. You are not entitled to do whatever you want to someone as long as they can’t say no.
If someone is in a position where they cannot say no, and you “have sex” with them, that is rape.
Then of course there are the people in the community that are blaming the victim. Suggesting that she “put herself in a position to be violated.” … Oh, well then, in that case… that totally excuses the boys for violating her. Because never mind the fact that someone violating someone else is always wrong. No matter what the girl did or didn’t do, the boys should not have done what they did.
No one asks to be violated.
There is no “putting yourself in a position to be violated.” Because if you were violated, it doesn’t matter what you did, the person who violated you is in the wrong. It is not your fault. Do not dwell on “If onlys…”. “If only I had worn something different that day, maybe I looked like I was ‘asking for it’ ” “If only I hadn’t decided to go to that party.” Or any number of other situations. This is not your fault, the blame is not on you. You should be able to live your life not having to worry about “putting yourself in a position to be violated”, because there is no excuse for someone violating someone else.
Don McPherson recently said, “We don’t raise boys to be men. We raise them not to be women, or gay men.”
I am going to end this post with a direct quote from the article. The emphasis added is mine.
“It’s time for a serious intervention in masculinity. It’s not enough to not be a rapist. You don’t get a cookie or a Nobel Peace Prize for that. If we want to end the pandemic of rape, it’s going to require an entire global movement of men who are willing to do the hard work required to unpack and interrogate the ideas of masculinity they were raised with, and to create and model new masculinities that don’t enable misogyny. Masculinities built not on power over women, but on power with women.
This is going to take real work, which is why so many men resist it. It requires destabilizing your own identity, and giving up attitudes and behaviors from which you’re used to deriving power, likely before you learn how to derive power from other, more just and productive places. There are real risks for men who challenge toxic masculinity, from social shaming to actual “don’t be a fag” violence—punishments that won’t ease until many, many men take the plunge. But there are great rewards to be had, too, beyond stopping rape. Toxic masculinity is damaging to men, too, positing them as stoic sex-and-violence machines with allergies to tenderness, playfulness, and vulnerability. A reinvented masculinity will surely give men more room to express and explore themselves without shame or fear. (It will also, not incidentally, reduce rape against men as well, because many rapes of men are committed by other men with the intention of “feminizing”—that is, humiliating through dominance—their victim.)
These interventions start with a “feminine” activity: introspection. What did you learn about “being a man,” from whom? How are those lessons working out for you, and for the people you love and your communities? Taking action can be as simple as men publicly owning their preference for “female” coded things, whether that’s child-rearing, nonviolence, feminism, or anything else—and being willing to suffer the social consequences. It can be more formal, working with established organizations like Men Stopping Violence. As more men take responsibility for the work, it will surely also take on forms no one has yet envisioned.”