Zaron Burnett writes a really nice overview of rape culture and how men can dismantle it: “A Gentlemen’s Guide to Rape Culture.” Towards the end he lists examples of rape culture.
- Blaming the victim (“She asked for it!”)
- Trivializing sexual assault (“Boys will be boys!”)
- Sexually explicit jokes
- Tolerance of sexual harassment
- Inflating false rape report statistics
- Publicly scrutinizing a victim’s dress, mental state, motives, and history
- Gratuitous gendered violence in movies and television
- Defining “manhood” as dominant and sexually aggressive
- Defining “womanhood” as submissive and sexually passive
- Pressure on men to “score”
- Pressure on women to not appear “cold”
- Assuming only promiscuous women get raped
- Assuming that men don’t get raped or that only “weak” men get raped
- Refusing to take rape accusations seriously
- Teaching women to avoid getting raped instead of teaching men not to rape
Followed by a list of things men can do.
- Avoid using language that objectifies or degrades women
- Speak out if you hear someone else making an offensive joke or trivializing rape
- If a friend says she has been raped, take her seriously and be supportive
- Think critically about the media’s messages about women, men, relationships, and violence
- Be respectful of others’ physical space even in casual situations
- Always communicate with sexual partners and do not assume consent
- Define your own manhood or womanhood. Do not let stereotypes shape your actions.
Burnett elaborates a bit on what men should do which is basically confront, correct and if necessary tell xenophobic, sexist, or misogynist manspeak to shut the fuck up. Ending with the point that there are social standards for men, all men, and if you plan to deviate do it in private with consent.
I can’t find much more to say except for more specifics of this paradigm. Well, that’s not true. I would say the single most important thing men can do is to learn to like women. Odd that this has to be stated. The specifics of this vary. I say this, for example, because this piece seems to be written by a white, urban guy who doesn’t experience either poverty, commingling with people of color, or rural redneck culture, all of whom will have different takes and ways of expressing these issues. Not to mention the question of honor and its perverse issues that transcend even the desire for food and life in many men across the world.
As a specific example of cultural myopia, if Burnett feels safe walking alone at night he doesn’t share a number of male experiences where predation is near universal. Having lived in some of these circumstances I automatically scan every room I enter, always know an exit, and apprise everyone I meet carefully and track all movement. I can’t help it anymore though I learned it long ago and no longer need it so much now. Nevertheless, wherever it is bad for men it is worse for women.
My first temptation in reading his article was to translate it to “A Rude Boy’s Guide to Not Fucking with Women.” The word gentlemen always raises my shackles as it was used as a means of differentiating class, and putting women on a pedestal, an impossible gilded cage that choked the life out of women. Yet more euphemisms for silencing women.
Interesting that most of the advice, excellent though it is, reveals a male protectionist view where action is defined as a negative ontology of correction, what not to do, even when stated positively. This is good but I want more.
Men need to like women. This basic assumption sounds facile like “do unto others” or “don’t criticize until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes” or most simply “be good to others.” Yet, if men basically like women they will seek to support women and enjoy their relationships with women. On all levels if men find ways of enjoying women positively everything else follows. Yes, it is also about rights but the core of rights, their reason for existence, is a positive affirmation of their existence and presence.
It is too easy to view pretty much everything as competition and correction, even when bantering with “unconditional positive regard.” It’s not a competition, it’s a partnership. To counter this otherness it is popular to seek empathy. I’m saying go further and appreciate. It is far richer and more satisfying for everyone.
I don’t mean some superficial positivity. I mean something you truly and sincerely like and appreciate, and then act on it. Do it often and do it with care. It’s easy to muck about in finding common enemies or relating to horrible things as a means of garnering mutual sympathy and admiration. Go further. Appreciate what you admire and ascern that women, and others, all others, have done well.
Well, I considered using the term people for men, women, trans, and everyone so know that this process works for all relationships.
It has often been said that it is impossible to just be friends with the “opposite” sex(es). That really doesn’t matter. It’s not true anyway. Many things get in the way of relationships. As a man, getting a hard on, being distracted by nakedness, or stuttering when physically attracted does at least mean you appreciate them on a visceral and intuitive level. Take this further. Women often have the same kinds of reactions. Get over it and find more. If you don’t feel attraction, fine as well, take your appreciation further. The point is to not let anything get in the way of forming relationships of appreciation.
Aaaah, I am correcting. Apologies. Learning to like specific women leads to liking women in general. Building positive relations with individuals allows you to establish relationships with groups.
I won’t discuss the mechanics of appreciation as their variance is manifold. We all have to figure it out based on where we live and what we believe. Of course there will be things that run counter to your core values that are difficult to appreciate. Seek bridges and means of relating to your own values in some way. Often we have more in common than we think.
The process of appreciation cuts through socioeconomic, class, race, and culture differences. It does means paying attention or being aware. A mindfulness towards others. Yet, the process becomes so engaging that you will seek it out naturally, instinctively and without effort . The “goal” discussed often seems to be not to harm women but it’s really to appreciate them for themselves. Not for ourselves alone.
Jim Newman, bright and well www.frontiersofreason.com