Rape Culture: 3 Reasons Most Men Are to Blame For Misogyny #Vaw


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The discourse surrounding rape culture and the pervading attitudes of victim blaming are reaching an all-time epoch with each new shared and re-shared story on a new rape case making its rounds on social media platforms. These cases include most recently the Delhi gang rape case, the Steubenville High School football case, and the Rehtaeh Parsons story, all of which have churned our stomachs, broadened our vernacular around synonyms of “deplorable,” and made us shout “why?!”

Why indeed.

Why  we are asked in pictures and Tweets and statuses  are we centering our awareness and education on rape around “not getting raped” as opposed to “don’t rape”? It is a timely question, a highly relevant one, and in many ways the correct one, but one that is far too implicit about the root of the problem and circuitous in its blame.

Thus, I will come out and say it for you, ladies.

It’s men. We are the root of the problem and deserving of the blame.

Though I am sure there are those of us  that poor Ryan Reynolds or Ryan Gosling look-alike who must dash between campus security lights when exiting the gym in his Under Armour tank top or endure the humiliation of answering why he chose to go out in skinny jeans to a club after being sexually violated by a gang of sorority sisters, those circumstances are quite … rare.

No, it’s quite clear fellas that we are the problem. And the problem does not begin and end at rape, but extends to and permeates throughout the entire sphere of gender issues, from domestic violence to gender pay gaps. Misogyny exists because we, men, either push it or allow it.

There are three ways in which we are most culpable:

1. Most obviously, men are almost exclusively the perpetrators:

Except for a very small number of instances, it is men who are committing the most egregious gender crimes such as rape and domestic abuse, running the companies that are most flagrant in their unequal pay and opportunities, and in nearly every country creating the laws and conditions that keep women disadvantaged.

2. Men have perpetuated a culture around manhood and masculinity that is conducive to misogynist behavior:

Especially relevant to rape, we have defined manhood around sexual “conquests,” the who, how, when, and where of sexual intercourse (notice the absence of why). Our virility is becoming increasingly quantitative. This in turn has amplified the pressure on boys and men to “score,” or, in the best case scenario, lie or aggrandize about it, in order to secure their rightful place amongst the pantheon of their masculine brethren. You will find this narrative occurring in your local teenage boy’s locker room or in nearly any all-male social situation. To coincide with this, we have also effectively stigmatized active positive discourse around women’s issues  whether it is by questioning the manhood (there is that word again) of the men who do so or regarding their motives with suspicion. Apparently, it shouldn’t matter to us what women think about any of this.

3. Men’s contribution to the anti-sexual assault movement has mostly been a passive, or neutral, one:

We don’t rape, we don’t physically abuse, and we certainly didn’t ask to make more for the same work than our female co-worker. Maybe, occasionally, we’ll even do so much as “like” a comment on Facebook that supports a woman’s issue. Maybe, during our weekly poker game, when our friend belches out his newest drunken sexual experience with some “random b*tch” (of which he’s also probably bluffing about) we will merely giggle instead of guffaw. And then maybe, afterwards, we will pat ourselves on the back for not being like him. While the neutral measure is obviously necessary given the alternative, it is simply not enough. It is not effective in inducing change.

No longer can we just brush off the actions of the offending fellow male as a purely individual, psychological one (based on the notion that he must just be inherently evil and thus nothing could be done on our end anyways), or rue that biology and history conspired to create, somehow independently of us, a patriarchal, misogynist society that is so prevalent it might be fated or so powerful it can’t be changed. Men can’t just say “well that’s that,” and dust off our hands and put them back on the video game controller while our daughters, wives, sisters, mothers, and friends continue to get raped, abused, persecuted, and repressed. Humanity cannot afford this type of attitude any longer.

Which brings me to the obvious question: Well, what should and can we do that specifically targets men?

For the long term, education around gender needs to be introduced in schools at an early age and extend to the very end of compulsory schooling. Boys need to learn about gender issues around the world and why they should care, that gender roles are not predetermined and do not follow a specific narrative, and how to interact with their female counterparts as equals. Boys need to learn how to be men in the presence of women’s issues, not in the absence of them. Later, issues surrounding sex need to be incorporated, especially around the matters of what defines manhood and masculinity. Preferably, these classes would be taught by the world’s most testosterone-driven professional wrestler, just to drive the point home. But that’s merely a frill.

We also need to alter our conversation when we are around each other because our words and conversations aren’t harmless. In fact, the way in which we define ourselves as men and the accompanying roles we take on are very harmful, as they act as influencers for the type of behavior that typically surrounds misogyny.

Lastly, starting today, we need to openly and actively show that we won’t stand for rape, we don’t tolerate domestic abuse, we can’t fathom why our female colleagues are making less than us, etc. The more male faces we can add to the struggle around gender issues, the better. Social pressure needs to be applied to our male counterparts that this is far from normal and far from okay.

I hope that no one will take this simply as a manifestation of “male guilt” or me saying that men are scum. The truth is quite the opposite, as there are many, many more good men out there than bad ones. But I am claiming we are quite unaware and ignorant of our own subtle complicities and roles in regards to the culture we are very much responsible for creating and sustaining, and often do not take accountability in reigning in or stopping the most arrant of our same-sex offenders.

So take this as a call to arms, if you will. For those men who are just tired, and disgusted, and embarrassed, not just as a man but as a human being, every time you hear about another woman who has been raped, or subjugated and persecuted in some other way, know that there issomething that we can do about it.

We can begin by pointing the fingers at ourselves, and then act accordingly from there.

 

#India- Cop to woman: Who will rape you at your age? #Vaw #WTFnews


, TNN | Mar 23, 2013, 03.47 AM IST

A Dalit woman, who petitioned a senior Uttar Pradesh Police officer seeking registration of her rape complaint, was told that her’s was not an age to be raped.

Caught on camera: UP cop insults rape victim

Caught on camera: UP cop insults rape victim
LUCKNOW: An additional superintendent of police (ASP) in Deoria district refused to entertain the rape complaint of a housewife merely because she was over 35 years of age. To add to the insensitivity, the officer said: “Who would rape such an old woman?”

Coming at a time when Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav is struggling to counter mounting pressure from all quarters over the deteriorating crime scene in the state, the incident has touched a new low. DGP A C Sharma expressed regret over the conduct of his subordinate and IG (crime) RK Vishwakarma said an explanation had been sought from the officer within 48 hours. “Action will be initiated for making such unwanted and ridiculous comments,” said Vishwakarma.

On Wednesday night, a housewife was allegedly assaulted and knocked unconscious by a local villager while she was going to the farm fields to relieve herself. When she regained her senses, she found that she had been raped. She reached home and informed her husband about it.

Early next morning, the couple when to the local Bankata police station in Deoria district to register a complaint against a local youth Santosh Singh. Allegations are that the couple returned home after being informed that the senior officers will contact them once the preliminary inquiry into her complaint was completed. “When no one came, we decided to approach the cops at the police station once again because I wanted them to get my wife medically examined to secure any possible evidence of crime. We were shown the door at the police station,” said the victim’s husband.

The couple then approached Deoria ASP Keshav Chandra Goswami at his office. They were made to wait for more than three hours before the officer finally agreed to meet them while he was walking out of his office. The victim’s husband tried to brief the ASP about his complaint when he was interrupted by the office: “How many children does she have?” he questioned her husband. When he said that they had three children, the officer asked him “What is the age of her eldest child?”

“Her eldest child—a daughter—is around 15 years of age,” the victim’s husband said. “Now, who will rape such an old woman? There must have been some other dispute behind the whole story…we will get it inquired,” the ASP said and instead of directing the Bankata police to register a case on the victim’s complaint and initiate action against the accused, got into his official vehicle and left, apparently unaware that the entire conversation had been recorded by somebody standing nearby.

Once the incident was aired by a local news channel, the police top brass in Lucknow took note of it. On the directions of the DGP, the IG (crime) directed the Deoria police to register a rape case while the ASP was asked to explain his conduct.

Glass Houses:Raped and Victim-Blaming in the Western World #Vaw


02 Wednesday Jan 2013

Apparently the U.S., unlike India, has moved past its own backward history of victim-blaming. Apparently, I am to believe, according to the New York Timesand Nicholas Kristof, that it is India which must deal with its sexual violence. And the Good Mr. Kristoff and the New York Times know this because the US has dealt with its own sexual violence. It’s now in the past, judging from the smug authority of the Times.

The victim of gang-rape in India, as many of us know, died several days ago after having been brutally beaten, essentially to death. From the moment that the rape made the international news, even before she died, there was a collective audible, transnational gasp.

That gasp turned—-rightfully–into a loud protest by Indians, against an environment of fear and danger that is perpetuated from various segments of society. These include the police, who have been unwilling to protect women or arrest men who have been accused of rape. They include courts, who are unwilling to arrest and try accused rapists. These include politicians and media, who engage in victim-blaming. These include communities who are unwilling to defend their female family members who have been sexually assaulted.

That gasp also induced a gaping at what Margaret Kimberley calls the pornography of suffering—where first world denizens are mesmerized, horrified, by the spectacle of rapes in non-first world locales with darker residents. In the cases of Congo and Somalia, the spectacle is amplified by the long-standing racist fetishization of black men’s sexuality.  While India may not have the same associations, it is nevertheless subject to its own version of Orientalism: India is either the peaceful refuge of Om Shanti Shanti yoga chants and ashrams, or invoked for its seemingly unmatched teeming poverty and malnutrition. The men in this picture, over the last 3 weeks, thanks to the focus by Western media, are now the singular demons of unchecked sexual predation.

Indeed, it is difficult to miss the incessant focus by first world denizens and media at the “backwards” culture of India, such that, as one interlocutor informed me, “they have a history of victim-blaming” there.

It must be a relief for denizens of the Global North to point fingers at the “regressive” cultures of the darker nations.  Perhaps the spectacle of Indians marching in protest at the rape allows for the convenient, momentary forgetfulness (or maybe continued avoidance) of the US’s state-led policy of “inadvertently” or deliberately killing and torturing children, some of whom had the audacity to be born to irresponsible terrorist fathers—as Robert Gibbs reminds us.  It allows Americans to be undistracted by the racial profiling thousands of Black and Muslim men, or incarceration of hundreds of thousands of Black men in a gratuitous war on drugs, renditions and imprisonment of hundreds of Muslim men—most without ever knowing the charges against them. But at least we know it is because “they are terrorists.” It is a good thing that the US doesn’t have a history of victim-blaming.

Perhaps the spectacle of 3rd world rape allows Americans to forget its own “rape culture”–the one where the US has had a long history of putting the victims of sexual assault on trial while ostensibly pretending that they were holding a fair trial for suspected rapists. The one where 11 year old girls are gang-raped– –continuously over a period of months. And in which the entire town and one of the nation’s leading newspapers—the same one which points to India’s need to straighten itself out—manages to blame the child. Yes, that moral beacon of colonialism and hypocrisy: the New York Times.

According to The National Women’s Study and the Bureau of Justice Statistics,683,000 women are raped annually in the United States. That equals 1.3 rapes every 3 minutes, 78 rapes hourly, and 1,871 rapes daily.  These numbers are hardly insignificant. And they only indicate reported rapes. Eleanor Bader points to a Department of Justice August 2012 study that states that 33% of sexual victimization of the general public goes unreported.

Combined, these numbers indicate a serious rape culture in the U.S., one where Sen. Todd Aikin can openly claim that “legitimate rapes” don’t cause pregnancy.  Or as Senate candidate Richard Mourdock claimed, rape “is something that God intended.”

Consider Steuben, Ohio, where members of the high school football team are accused of drugging, gang-raping, urinating on, and carrying an unconsconscious female teen from party to party. One is accused of taking a nude picture or video of the girl. And no one in the entire town stepped forward to say what they saw—despite reams of evidence that appear to be circulating on Facebook, and elsewhere. Including statements about how “Some people deserve to be peed on.”

But it’s India that has a culture of “victim-blaming.”  Clearly, the U.S. isn’t backwards at all. I now recognize the New York Times’ moral authority in wagging its journalistic finger at India’s “backward” culture.  If I didn’t, I might be a little shaken by the statistics of sexual assault that occurred in US state and federal prisons, and jails, ICE special confinement facilities, and Indian reservation prisons:

Out of 81,566 inmates interviewed in 2008-9, 11,600 reported an unwanted sexual incident with another prison inmate. 15,800 reported an unwanted sexual incident that occurred with prison staff. 3,400 inmates reported unwanted sexual incidents by both inmates and staff.

1% of prisoners report having been the target of nonconsensual sexual acts: or approximately 815 inmates. And these are only the reported sexual assaults. If we assume that rapes in prison go unreported at the same rate as those in the general public (and the likelihood is that the percentage is even higher), then there is a very strong manifestation of rape culture in U.S. prisons.

In an earlier 2007 study by the Department of Justice, as cited by Eleanor Bader, out of over 40,000 inmates in local jails, 5.1% of women and 2.9% of men experienced some form of sexual assault.

Of course, it is easy to compartmentalize these statistics by somehow assuming that they are occurring to members of a criminal(ized), therefore deranged, primitive segment of the population—which is “rightfully” in prison. Until we remember the range of laws that can easily land someone in prison: 3 strikes, you’re out; material support statute violations, excessive drug laws, hate crimes laws (which disproportionately target minorities), etc.

In other words, the victims consist of many folks who are dangerously similar to many of us: one mistake, or skin color, or religion, or race, away from prison time. And like the western focus on India, the visual spectacle of dark men raping or dark women being raped somehow lands a collective Western audience in a state of horror that is strangely absent when considering rape in a whitely context:

In March of this year, a few media sources reported the death of a Ukrainian teen, who was gang-raped, strangled and set on fire by the sons of government officials. She had burns over 55% of her body, and had both of her feet and one arm amputated in an attempt to save her. Before she died, she made a video from her hospital bed naming her assaulters. Hundreds of Ukrainians marched in protest of her death. There was very little outrage from the rest of the world. There was no NYT editorial warning the Ukraine to get its house in order, even as it reported that 2 of the young men arrested in the incident were released by prosecutors.

It is hard, then, to argue that the reason so much attention was paid to the circumstances of the Indian woman was because of the horrific nature of the crime. Because she was gang-raped and beaten to death. Our hearts, mine included, went numb.  But so did my heart when I learned of the 11-year old who was gang-raped.

So did my heart when I followed the news of the young boys induced to trust Jerry Sandusky, only to be brutally betrayed. Only to feel that they must keep silent because of the stigma surrounding male rape. Because their families relied on Sandusky to raise their boys, to provide care and a “male role model.”

So did my heart when I learned of the woman who was horrifically and brutally raped, beaten, and killed by members of a “cult.” Rape victims die in the US. They die horrific deaths. And somehow they don’t grab our attention in the way that the horrible fate of this young woman did.

But they should–in order to challenge the systematicity of rape in every single society. In order to challenge the patriarchy of every single society, the abuse of power that enables girl-children and boy-children, to be raped.

Ten of thousands of Indian citizens marched in protest of the fear and danger that surround Indian women.  Imagine if mothers and daughters across the US had marched in protest of the rape and murder of Lalita Patel, a 62 year-old South Asian woman, who was killed by a U.S. army veteran this past summer.

Or after U.S. troops raped several Afghan women earlier last month.

Couldn’t we have drawn attention to the horror of rape?  Many young women and their allies did march in Canada and across the US last year. It was called the “Slutwalk.” They marched in protest of victim-blaming—by a Canadian police officer who insisted that women learn not to dress like sluts. (Oh, wait—sounds a lot like the claims of Indian policemen who blame Indian rape victims). The name alone created such a distraction that the fact of the protests around the US and Canada was lost amidst the debates over the name.

Indian women fear traveling outside by themselves, or late at night, or traveling alone at all. So do many women in the US. Yet, only the horrific, horrible tragedy of a young woman in Delhi can make us pause and think about rape.

Shouldn’t the gang-rapes of children, teenaged girls, and women in the US, in North America, in France, by ordinary men as well as by political elites such as Dominique Strauss-Kahn, make us pause? Perhaps the NYT and Nicholas Kristof might be able to persuade the Western world to get its own house in order.

___________________________________________

As of the latest NDAA, which goes into effect  on Jan 3, 2013 , U.S. servicewomen will now be able to have Department of Defense-funded abortions in cases of rape and incest (Sec. 704). Sen. John McCain, feminist that he is, has endorsed a provision, according to NYT, that would “ensure” that U.S. servicewomen who are subject to sexual assault “will be treated with fairness.” This will be one of primary benefits of NDAA –a benefit that is not extended to women outside of the service, nor to those who are not federal employees.

How exactly does this ensure “fairness” for US servicewomen who are victims of sexual assault? It allows them to have access to coverage for abortions. It doesn’t exactly protect them or decrease the chances of sexual assault. Still, it is a huge feminist stance compared to Aikin or Mourdock’s positions, but alsoan admission of a rape culture in the U.S. Armed Services.

Rape Culture, Capitalism and India #AFSPA #Vaw