Don’t Treat All Men Like Rapists

Posted by on May 9, 2013

I keep hearing this refrain that it isn’t fair or right when women treat all men as though they are rapists. On the surface, I agree. It’s not right and it sucks. At the same time, as a woman, I’m constantly admonished to protect myself. I have also been raped and gone through the process of reporting and dealing with all that entails. So, I try to take “reasonable measures” to not end up in that situation again. I’ve spent some time noodling about this as these two things don’t mesh.

Ultimately, I’ve come to the conclusion that if men don’t want to be treated like rapists, then they (in addition to everyone else) need to start working on changing the way that our world treats rape and victims of rape. What was the first thing that happened to me when reporting my rape? I was asked whether or not I said no. Then, how forcefully I said no. Then, how was I dressed. Did I yell out loudly? Did I scream? Did I cry? Then, what precautions did I take?

This wasn’t just from the police. But, also the prosecuting attorney. In order to be able to successfully prosecute, I needed to have very vocally protested and yelled loudly. I needed to have humiliated myself by yelling enough for friends to come barging into the room where I was nude and being raped. I needed to have physically fought off the rapist who was larger than I was and could hurt me. I needed to have been damaged during the rape — bruises, cuts, etc. I needed to not have been dressed provocatively. The list goes on and on. Then, after that, it came from friends and relatives and those who were worried that I might “destroy” someone’s life with my accusation.

We consistently tell rape victims that they *must* take some very specific and also some very nebulous precautions — or we will NOT get JUSTICE. Because if we didn’t take those precautions, we somehow “deserved what we got” and our justice system and peers of a jury won’t stand behind someone who didn’t take necessary “precautions.”

To me the combination of the jury system and the way that our media reports rape and the resulting reported opinions of rape — are the damning nails that go to prove that in America, we live in a culture that downplays rape and likes to blame the victim. Trials don’t focus on what the rapist did. They focus on what the victim did and whether or not they used “common-sense” precautions and whether or not they reacted and acted “appropriately.” This determines whether or not the victim’s “assertions” are “worthy” of being called rape. Your past history of consensual sex can be taken into consideration of whether or not you’re really likely to have said no this time. Apparently, according to our culture, girls who’ve said yes too many times aren’t likely to have said no at any point.

Then, if you start looking into local responses to proven rape charges, the jokes that get told, the gag orders placed on victims, and the prevalence of under-reporting — the idea that we, as a culture, are permissive of rape becomes more stark. Unlike, many articles, I won’t say that rapists are evil and deserve death. But, I do think that rape victims do deserve justice, protection, and having their rapists at least prosecuted more often and not having to deal with attacks on their character that belittle the fact that they were raped. The very idea that it’s legitimate in our politics, media, and personal lives to draw a distinction between “legitimate” rape, “forcible” rape, and all of other ugly terms just furthers the injustice and humiliation of so many rape survivors.

It’s far easier for many people to find a way to blame the victim rather than to accept that a person that you know or look up to is a rapist. We put so much baggage on that term that it’s become a hot button that ends up with many people turning a blind eye because it’s harder to look at it than it is to pretend that it doesn’t exist. Now, don’t get me wrong — this has improved over my lifetime, but we still have a long way to go.

So, at this point, in order to protect our legal rights and to have even a hope of getting justice — we must treat all men like rapists. Otherwise, we’re not being careful enough and we get what we deserve. If we don’t withhold sex enough and if we aren’t prudish enough — we’re sluts who get what we deserve. And all of the other derogatory statements aimed at shifting the blame. And after all of that, we also now have no sexual purity and no worth as future mothers and wives. As many abstinence only programs like to teach — we’re a chewed up piece of gum and no one wants a piece of used gum.

Last modified on May 9, 2013

Categories: Social Justice
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