Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sexual grievance industry: Innocent young men have a greater responsibility to end rape than young women

It is politically correct in the extreme to preach that innocent young men bear a greater responsibility for ending rape than young women.  The proof is in the messages given to young men and young women when it comes to rape, and a repulsive new ad campaign merely underscores it.

Young men are taught that there is a dotted-line that connects traditional masculinity and rape.  This, of course, is as ridiculous as it is infuriating.  Yet, listen to what Catherine Pierce, of the Office of Violence Against Women in the U.S. Dept. of Justice, said:  "How do we encourage all men to take steps to stop sexual violence when they see it? Jackson Katz, who is one of the most thoughtful and thought-provoking minds on this issue, dedicates an entire chapter in his book 'The Macho Paradox' to the issue of bystanders. He writes: 'If we want to dramatically increase the number of men who make men’s violence against women a priority, it is not useful to engage them as perpetrators or potential perpetrators. Instead, it makes sense to enlist them as empowered bystanders who can do something to confront abusive peers, or who can help to create a climate in male peer culture that discourages [some] men’s attitudes and behaviors.'"

We could do multiple posts on these notions, but it suffices to say that rape is the product of a criminal mind, not a guy acting out traditional notions of masculinity. For example, while I am opposed to porn for other reasons, studies show that rape declines when porn use increases. How many women's advocates would encourage passing out copies of "Playboy" to high school boys in an effort to curb rape? Look: there is no evidence for a "rape continuum" any more than there is for a "murder continuum."  Yet innocent young men are told they must police their peers -- the vast majority of whom are also not criminals -- to be more respectful of women, and in some stardust wishfulness of the feminist sexual grievance industry, this is supposed to reduce rape.

In any event, compare that message with what young women are told about rape:  young women need not alter their behavior in the least to avoid being raped. It is perfectly acceptable for them to drink to unconsciousness in the company of men they don't know, even if this increases the statistical likelihood that they will be raped, because to counsel that they exercise even a modicum of common sense in that circumstance is "victim blaming."  Women shouldn't need to alter their behavior; men need to stop raping.

Example: the new "Don't be that guy" ad campaign in Edmonton is using blunt and crude words and images to tell males 18-24 years-old not to rape women who drink to excess. The picture above is an example. The rationale for the ads is this: "Typically, sexual assault awareness campaigns target potential victims by urging women to restrict their behavior. Research is telling us that targeting the behavior of victims is not only ineffective, but also contributes to how much they blame themselves after the assault. That’s why our campaign is targeting potential offenders – they are the ones responsible for the assault and responsible for stopping it."

One such ad will be strategically placed atop urinals in men’s bathrooms in 26 bars around the city. That one reads: “Just because she’s drunk doesn’t mean she wants to fuck." 

The ads are being celebrated as another victory for female empowerment: "[A]t the very least, these ads set a precedent for holding men -- not women -- accountable for the crimes that men commit."  Sounds like the writer believes men, as a class, are responsible for what a tiny percentage of criminals do, doesn't it? 

No sane and rational person would object to an ad campaign that reduces rape.  But tell me, will a young rapist have an epiphany while standing at the urinal: "She really doesn't want to fuck me?  Shit!  So I guess I shouldn't stick my penis in her!"

My bet is the ads will do more harm than goood.  For starters, they fail to address the elephant in the room: why should she be considered a "victim" when a young couple drinks to mutual excess -- which is common -- and then mutually decides, in their mutually reduced state of consciousness, to have sex?  In that scenario, he's every bit as much a "victim" as she is. (And, no, I don't think they both should be charged with rape: the mutuality of their stupidity cancels out whatever shared criminality exists.)  Women and men frequently drink to lower their inhibitions precisely so they will engage in intercourse.  To pretend otherwise is to toss eons of accumulated knowledge about gender relations onto a scrapheap of politicized indifference.  But that's really the whole game of the persons who dominate the public discourse about rape, isn't it?

By not addressing that issue, the ads are encouraging every young woman who wakes up with semen on her leg to assume "I've been raped!" when, in fact, she might have been the instigator, or at least equally responsible.  Once again, we think we are empowering our daughters by telling them they are powerless. My fear is that these ads will engender more false rape claims.

Beyond that, the ads perpetuate the wicked double-standard that innocent young men have a greater responsibility for ending rape than innocent young women.

Here's the bottom line: rapists are responsible for rape. Period.  Not innocent young men. Innocent young men collectively have essentially no ability to end rape.  Holding young men who do not rape responsible to stop rape, while encouraging young women to consciously put themselves in situations where rape, and misunderstandings about whether rape occurred, are far more likely to occur, is asymmetrical gender blaming.

The real goal of these ads is to foment a little rape hysteria and to remind people that date rape is a significant problem, even if the evidence doesn't support it, thus justifying the existence of the paid sexual grievance industry.

You know, business as usual.