Monday, June 9, 2014

Rape Culture: “I Am Not A Rapist” Is Exactly What A Rapist Would Say.

How unfortunate would it be if you were a woman and went your whole life assuming all men were rapists? Sitting at the restaurant, your server approaches you. Instead of thinking about what you want to eat, you’re thinking he’s probably a rapist.

“I’ll take a hamburger with fries and I’d like you to not rape me, if that’s ok.” The server stares at you, caught off guard. His blank stare, combined with shifting posture only reaffirms what you suspected. He is in fact going to serve you dinner and then rape you.

A recent article floating around Facebook insinuates that just by being a man, I perpetuate rape culture, which I findabsolutely ridiculous and insulting. After painfully reading the entire article, I didn’t come away thinking that all men perpetuate rape culture by being men. I came away thinking that the author is probably the type of guy who takes a women’s lib class in college specifically to pick up on women, and that he probably plays the guitar.

Here are some highlights from the article. . .

When I cross a parking lot at night and see a woman ahead of me, I do whatever I feel is appropriate to make her aware of me so that a) I don’t startle her b) she has time to make herself feel safe/comfortable and c) if it’s possible, I can approach in a way that’s clearly friendly, in order to let her know I’m not a threat. I do this because I’m a man.

Basically, I acknowledge every woman I meet on the street, or in an elevator, or in a stairway, or wherever, in a way that indicates she’s safe. I want her to feel just as comfortable as if I weren’t there. I accept that any woman I encounter in public doesn’t know me, and thus, all she sees is a man — one who is suddenly near her. I have to keep in mind her sense of space and that my presence might make her feel vulnerable. That’s the key factor — vulnerability.”

How about a) you don’t be “suddenly near” any person, man or woman.  It’s called not being a creepy asshole, and it has nothing to do with rape culture. When any person is walking in a parking lot, and somebody is walking toward them, it is instinct to give an ocular assessment of the situation, garner that he/she is not a security risk, and clear him/her from passage. An ocular pat-down if you will.

A woman who feels uncomfortable walking alone in a parking lot is going to feel uncomfortable, regardless of how “comfortable” you make yourself appear, because that is something a rapist would do.

The piece goes on to quote an article from Marshall University’s Women Center’s website, saying:

Rape Culture is an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture. Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence, thereby creating a society that disregards women’s rights and safety.

Which is 100% correct. Now, I didn’t have my glasses on, so maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see anywhere that said my existence as a man perpetuated rape culture. What I did read was a paragraph stating that rape culture is caused by people that don’t respect other people.

When the author talks about how he dealt with this sudden insight on rape culture, things take a turn for the weird.

“I approached a writer I respect. I asked her to write an article with me, wherein she’d explain rape culture to me and to male readers (you did that in the paragraph above. It was easy)She stopped returning my emails.

At first, I was annoyed. Then as it became clear she wasn’t going to respond at all, I actually got mad (because you felt she was entitled to respond to you?) Luckily, I’ve learned one shouldn’t immediately respond when they feel flashes of anger (if only all rapists could be as cool headed as you).

Thunder is impressive but it’s the rain that nourishes life (what?!?!). So I let that storm pass and thought about it. I took a walk. They seem to jangle my best thoughts loose.

Blocks from my house, in front of a car wash (why is this relevant?) it dawned on me. If rape culture is so important to me I needed to find out for my self what it is”

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but the author you respect probably stopped returning your emails because you’re a jerk. You are what is perpetuating rape culture. You can’t believe that a woman wouldn’t respond to you because she just doesn’t want to, so you get upset. That sounds an awful lot like something we were just talking about.

I think what we really just need to talk about are douchebags with no respect for other people.

When something like #YesAllWomen occurs in our cultural conversation and women the world over are out there sharing their experiences, their trauma, their stories and their personal views, as men, we don’t need to enter that conversation. In that moment, all we need to do is listen, and reflect, and let their words change our perspective. Our job is to ask ourselves how we can do better.

Yeah. You’re right. We don’t need to enter that conversation. That’s the greatest advice I’ve ever heard. Sowhy don’t you go choke on a hotdog, stop assuming theworst in everyone, and read some quotes regarding your contrived POS article from small handful of women whoprobably don’t fall into the “glass skinned” category.

SB - Woahthat is a f*cked up assessment of the 21st century reality of women and men. That guy is a douche...and probably a rapist”

AK - "This is offensive to all the independent, adventurous, strong women who strive to live every day to the fullest. Regardless of gender, to view life from a place of fear or as a place full of fear is to foster and support the sadness/pain/inequality/turmoil/etc. that exists in our world."

AB – Hahahahahaha I'm dying! I love It's Always Sunnyin Philadelphia!!!!”

CT – That's kinda f*cked.”

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Thin Line: Eye Contact in the Public Restroom

Scene:You’re sitting on the toilet in a public restroom. The person before left the seat warm. You’re grateful for this, but at the same time, repulsed. You push the image of their warm hairy buttock out of your mind and focus on not touching anything. The walls are covered in penises and racists comments. You carefully pull out your Sharpie™ and add your own thoughts. Does BCH actually love JLR? Probably. The bathroom door opens and you look up, glancing through the thin gap between the door and the stall, accidentally making eye contact. You freeze. At this moment you are faced with options. Here is a list of things that you probably shouldn’t do, but if you did, you’d be my hero.

1.     Emit a high pitched scream.
2.     Wink (although it’s doubtful they’d even be able to tell. They’d probably misinterpret it as a blink)
3.     Stick a barefoot under the front door and tap the floor a couple times.
4.     Say “sup?” with head nod.
5.     Walk out fully naked.
6.     Request some quiet time.
7.     Ask for a high five.
8.     Stare (making your eyes bigger)
9.     Actually, just any sort of acknowledgement of the encounter would be pretty terrible (but awesome).

Here is a list of things that would probably end up happening instead.

1.     Try to quiet your loud farts.
2.     Feel uncomfortable.

For me, I’m uncomfortable because it’s a time that I’m most vulnerable. This stranger has literally caught me with my pants down. There is a reason why that is a saying. It would be the equivalent of sobbing on a stage while the entire audience watched you. It’s a level of intimacy that I’m not comfortable handing out to more than a handful of friends.

Why is this even an issue? It is 2014. We landed on the moon almost 50 years ago. We have a black president. We’re coming up on the 7th anniversary of the “wide stance” incident. This problem needs to be fixed ASAP. Put some sort of cover over the gap, like tape or some flowery drapes. Better yet, just don’t align the gap with my penis. It makes it hard to relax and depending on your diet, sitting on a toilet should be a time of relaxation, not intimidation.

Let’s all work together to fix this great American tragedy, and remember. Mind the gap.