CN: Rape, rape culture
I was reading my gReader feed today and came across this re-post from a friend of mine.
Men, are you worried for your own safety because misandry?
You need to accept that misandry happens in the real world and take some precautions.
Take a self defense class, they’re only a couple hundred dollars a month.
Don’t go out after dark unless you have a woman to chaperone you. Misandrists are less likely to attack if they see you are with another woman.
Don’t wear anything too douchey. If you’re wearing a fedora or a sexist t-shirt, etc. you’re pretty much asking to get attacked. Misandrists can’t control themselves when they see a man in a fedora, their instincts kick in and before they know it they have a dead male corpse in their hands. Just be a good boy and don’t tempt them, okay?
Don’t ever invite a woman into your home. Misandrists will interpret this as you consenting to physical violence.
Drinking increases your risk of being attacked by a misandrist. They target drunk men because their inhibitions are lowered.
Never leave your drink unattended. Misandrists are notorious for poisoning men at parties and bars.
If a misandrist does attack you, be quiet and just let her finish or you might anger her further and you are liable to get murdered instead of just mutilated. But also, be sure to put up a good fight because a lot of men say they don’t want to be attacked by misandrists but deep down, they really like it.
And remember, accusing a woman of abusive misandry is worse than being abused by a misandrist. So before you make accusations, make sure it wasn’t all just a silly misunderstanding.
The joke, obviously, is that there is no such thing as “misandry,” and these are all actual, real things that are told to women in order to “prevent rape.” I use “joke” here loosely as it’s actually rather frightening that all of these ridiculous and contradictory rules are put in place basically as an excuse to blame women for their own rapes, but obviously it’s meant to make a point humorously. As Witchy Weaver (all nicknames subject to change based on the desires of the nicknamee) pointed out after the re-blog, this is a daily reality for women, and the wording of this post is based on a serious warning to women from a few years ago.
Which brings me to a few days ago and for the first time I realized that I was, at least briefly, Schrodinger’s Rapist.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, the idea is that in a culture that minimizes the occurrence of rape, that engages in a constant, low level misogyny, that blames victims and makes their sexual history, clothing, etc., the focus of any rape accusation, and that makes it nearly impossible to actually get a rapist convicted, women are put in a position where they must, by necessity, assume any unknown (and often known) man that they encounter may be a rapist. In most cases, they aren’t, but if women aren’t prepared for the possibility and do get raped, odds are heavily in favor that they will have to jump through all sorts of unnecessary hoops to not only prove that they were raped, but also that they didn’t somehow deserve to be due to wearing a short skirt, having had a drink, not being escorted by trusted men, or any of the other ridiculous excuses we make. In other words, because of rape culture, all men must be suspect.
In my case, I was out at Old Town with a friend. It was early evening and we were in a shop there, wandering around, me reading blogs while she looked through strings of beads that she could use for embroidery that I am informed were an incredible price. Bead work is not my craft, so when I wasn’t reading, I was people watching, and that’s when I noticed a woman wandering around alone. I also noticed that her fly was down and thought somebody should tell her.
At first I said nothing, but eventually I leaned close and quietly informed her about her pants. I didn’t think I was too close, but it seems I was since she jumped back. This was not me startling her, I had said excuse me from further away and made sure she acknowledged me before approaching, but I saw the fear in her eyes. She was afraid of me, an avowed feminist who writes about rape culture and discovered a few days before in a BDSM scene that I can’t top a serious masochist, even in an entirely consensual scene, because the sound of crying that I caused makes me cringe and want to comfort the person. I may be verbally confrontational, but I’m not a violent person and have never even considered rape for a moment.
And you know what? She has no way of knowing that, so none of it matters. To her I was only the weird guy who probably hadn’t shaved recently enough that was coming very near her to discuss her pants.
I took a step back, apologized, and moved on.
I’ve been in this game long enough to have been familiar with the concept, and I have no doubt that there have been several times in the past when some woman has thought that I may be a potential rapist and prepared herself just in case, but never have I seen it so very starkly.
Keep in mind, this is not a “poor me, some woman though I was a threat when I totes wasn’t” post, but rather a reflection on how serious this problem is and, hopefully, an example of how to handle it. I backed off because I don’t take personally a woman’s reaction to a culture that does not want to protect her, that holds her immediately suspect and treats her sexuality as common property.
We can also look at the other side of that, though. On the execrable A Voice for Men, we see an example of the whiny, privileged, self-entitled bullshit response that stories like this often provoke. No, I won’t link to that rotting cesspool, but you can Google the quotes if you really would like to see the full context.
First thing’s first, the perpetuation of the “making themselves victims” myth. Emphasis theirs.
I’ll say it again so I’m absolutely clear: it is abuse of women. How so? Because it helps reinforce and ingrain an enculturated fear of men. In other words, even though all available evidence shows that men are as likely if not more likely to be the victims of violent assault, including sexual assault, and despite the mountain of data on women’s violence against men and boys, this essay sends a relentless message that women should live in fear.
I didn’t remove any links to supporting studies or documentation. Dean Esmay, the MRA who wrote this, simply neglected to provide any support for his assertion that “all available evidence shows that men are as likely to be the victims of…sexual assault.” Most likely he didn’t provide citations because the claim is absolute bullshit, unless somehow “one in four” has started equaling 3% (MRA math!)
But more to the point, this little excerpt demonstrates pretty thoroughly the rape culture narrative that the problem is never rape, it’s talking about rape. You see, if you are raped, it’s important to get over it as quickly as possible, lest you “make yourself a victim”. If you are ever on guard against rape, you’re victimizing yourself and telling the world that men can’t be trusted. Of course, if you are raped, you should have been more prepared. This is the world that MRAs like Esmay live in, and it’s one where women can’t win.
Esmay then goes on to post a transcript of a video done by the fairly useless John the Other. John, in his infinite wisdom, spends several minutes whining about how unfair it is that he’s suspect when he and most men have never raped anybody.
Here, you have exceeded your rights. Obviously, as a merely possible man, my potential is open, my self undefined. But it is mine to chose, not yours. Who or what I am, when realized, when observed, when I transit from probability to reality, that is mine. I will decide, you will not. I may, when I’ve done so, tell you who and what I am. However, I also might not, that is my choice as well.
Do not presume to trespass on my identity.
It is my own.
Boo fucking hoo, John. The man is so upset because women are “defining” him, even in their own minds, and that’s so very not fair. And, as we know, rapists are generally very clear about their identities, though often the way they share that little factoid makes its disclosure too late. As we also know, women don’t have the right to their own thoughts. John the Other will tell them wimmez what they should think about him. Not being a woman, I suppose I’m free to define him as an asshole.
What the self-styled martyrs at AVfM want you to believe is that there is a matter of principle involved here, that the very act of holding strange men suspect is an unspeakable offense that somehow takes away their agency. Again, this is absolute bullshit.
I was very briefly Schrodinger’s Rapist earlier this week. I knew my intentions, but the woman I spoke to did not, and while I have never done nor ever will do such a thing, I accept that we live in a culture where it’s not worth taking that risk. As a decent human being, I backed off to make another human being more comfortable because it was literally the very least I could do. This random woman wasn’t “making herself a victim,” she was avoiding being made a victim in the best way she could, which means eternal vigilance. Until such time as we live in a world and a culture that holds men and women of equal value and takes rape seriously, I am going to have to live with the fact that I will be considered a potential rapist until such time as I am not. It’s a world worth fighting for, and one that will never be won so long as speaking up is considered a perpetuation of victimhood.
UPDATE: The Sewing Goddess brought up a good point: in this case, I probably should have asked my female friend to inform the woman in the store about her fly. Will have to remember that for next time.