Love this photo from the Pace Screening a few weeks ago, and it seems particularly relevant in light of last weekend’s gang rape in Richmond California, where bystanders actually became perpetrators. They laughed, joked, took photographs and joined in. A very strong piece, “On Rape and Men” expresses the writer’s rage as a man, and demands that we approach gender violence as a men’s issue. Unfortunately, some of the reader comments suggested instead that women arm themselves with guns, or that we all collectively turn back to religion! On Facebook, Men Can Stop Rape linked to CNN’s article about bystander behavior, and these three comments were particularly interesting:
Not surprising that in the article they don’t delve into rape culture or male violence against women. Just ‘people’ who stand by and watch ‘people’ hurt ‘people’. (I know there was one example of male-male violence w/ the honor student’s killing.) I think there are deeper issues at play here regarding our society’s treatment of women and acceptance…
J says: I think a major part of the problem is America’s cultural repression of most of men’s full range of emotion/feelings, which leads to homophobia, isolation, competition, and anger. The constricted “relationship” many men end up having with women (as a result of this repression) lead to this violence.
D responds: J is typically making excuses and pointing at some external source (not the men themselves), as being the cause of their stupidity. J honey, men rape women because they want to. There is no other reason. They want to because they feel entitled to women’s bodies, to rule women’s thoughts, to be superior to women, for women to be submissive … Read Moreto them. It’s all in men’s heads. Any man that wants to express himself can. We don’t live in 1810 anymore! Men cry, wear pink, stay at home while their wife works, and raise children alone as single parents. Men have plenty of opportunities to self-actualize in any way they choose. However, young guys in the 15-25 age group seem to prefer to act a zip damn fool. Older men need to step up to the plate and help these young guys understand what they are doing and tell them to STOP IT! Your behavior is UNACCEPTABLE. You are a DISGRACE. Things like that. Instead of standing around with their hands in the pockets whining about how bad society is, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
On the media, Rachel Simmons and Shelby Knox express outrage at how silent the public response has been, most notably the lack of response of the feminist media, while in contrast, when Kanye ruined Taylor Swift’s moment… Rosalind Wisemen points to classism/racism bubbling to the surface :
It’s hard not to wonder how the conversation would be different if a 15 year old middle class girl was gang raped by black and Latino men outside a suburban homecoming dance. There is a growing media narrative about Richmond, and the high school where the attack occurred, as poor and notoriously violent. Is this because we want to believe that rape doesn’t happen to wealthy girls? Did it take so long for the media to report this assault because the survivor is from a working class community and comes from a school where perhaps we simply expect kids to “act like that?” Is it because we still live in a society that deems the life of a less privileged woman less important?
Tracy Clark-Flory of Broadsheet posted a piece about blaming the gang rape victim, highlighting the comments that place blame on the girl for drinking, and wearing a dress while drinking. That reminds me of a conversation I once had with a handsome, educated British lawyer turned Channel 4 broadcaster. At a festival party, while waiting to get our drinks, I pitched him THE LINE. He was intrigued, but the more he learned, the more defensive he became. I was wearing a little black dress, like everybody else at this party, and he became so uncomfortable, he looked at my cleavage, and scolded, “that’s quite a dress to be wearing, if you’re going to be making a film like that!”
Perhaps if this man had grown up reading Scarleteen, comprehensive sexual education that emphasizes pleasure and respect for all people, exploring all forms of sexual expressions, I think he would’ve had an easier time maintaining eye contact while discussing sexual consent.
Don McPherson, Brett Sokolow, and many more, are modeling behavior that encourages self-respect, the respect of women, and their sexual partners. Over here, we invite you to change the way things are. Can you inspire men with your behavior and leadership around how to be a real man?