Saturday, February 5, 2011

"X" is a part of the human condition

A few months ago, there was a webcomic which posted a strip which made a poor joke about rape.  Many feminists responded about how this supports rape culture.  I'm not going to go into that here, instead, I'm going to talk about a comment to this post.  In the comment, someone says, "Rape has always been a part of human nature, whether we like to accept it or not. I’m not trying to glorify it here, it’s pretty terrible. Just saying that trying to fight against a word that means so many different things in the context of the internet nowadays, it’s kind of a useless fight to struggle against the casual usage of the word."

 I have a big problem with this kind of statement.  Yes, rape has always been a part of human nature, as has murder, torture, etc.  But here's what really gets me: it does not have to be.  We actually can strive to be better than our ancestors.  We can hold our fellow humans to higher standards.  We don't have to accept that just because something has always been done a certain way, that means it is inevitable that it will keep on going that way.

Rape culture is that portion of our culture which causes women to have an underlying fear that they will be raped, that they cannot be free to walk by themselves after dark without fear, that they cannot wear what they want to without fear, and that they have to always be on alert, lest someone slip by their defenses and force them to have sex against their will.

This is the culture which DOES NOT HAVE TO BE ACCEPTED.  We don't have to keep doing things this way just because "that's the way it's always been".  I'm not saying that the word "rape" cannot be uttered.  I *am* saying that casual "humorous" references to it reinforce the idea that it's okay to joke around about rape.  This in turn reinforces the idea that rape is not a big deal.  This in turn reinforces the idea that women do not have the right to choose with whom they have sex.

Women are faced with the accusation that they are making up rape experiences because they are trying to get even with someone.  Women are told that they have to be careful what they wear, because they might be "asking for it".  Women are told not to go to secluded areas at night, because it's not safe for them.  Rather than put the burden on women, why isn't the burden on those would-be rapists.  Men: you are not all horrible people, so why aren't you offended when someone tells a woman any of these above things?  The implication is obvious in these above statements:  Men have no control over their lustful urges, and with enough provocation will tear off a woman's clothing and force her into sexual relations.  Is that what you want to be thought of?  As someone who cannot control himself?  That it's only a woman's diligence which keeps you from assaulting her?

We can all be better than this - we should all strive to over come the failings of our ancestors.  We do not have to rape, we do not have to murder.  Join me, in refusing to accept the words that we "will always be like this".

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