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.

 

Steubenville High School rape: Two teen football players found guilty #Vaw


Associated Press | Updated: March 17, 2013

Steubenville High School rape: Two teen football players found guilty

Steubenville High School students Ma’Lik Richmond and Trent Mays (photo below)

Steubenville, OhioTwo members of a high school football team were found guilty Sunday of raping a drunken 16-year-old girl in a case that bitterly divided the Ohio city and led to accusations of a cover-up to protect the community’s athletes.Steubenville High School students Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richmond face a possible sentence of detention in juvenile jail until they turn 21, capping a case that came to light via a barrage of morning-after text messages, social media posts and online photos and video that drew global attention.

Both teenagers broke down in tears after the verdict was read. As Richmond’s lawyer addressed the judge, he paused for a moment to comfort his client, whose sobs could be heard throughout the courtroom.

Mays, 17, and Richmond, 16, were charged with digitally penetrating the West Virginia girl, first in the back seat of a moving car after an alcohol-fueled party on Aug. 11, and then in the basement of a house. Mays was also found guilty on a charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.

The case roiled the community amid allegations that more students should have been charged and led to questions about the influence of the local football team, a source of a pride in a community of 18,000 that suffered massive job losses with the collapse of the steel industry.

Their arms linked, protesters demanding that the high school athletes be held responsible stood outside the courthouse awaiting the verdict, some of them wearing masks.

The trial opened last week as a contest between prosecutors determined to show the girl was so drunk she couldn’t have been a willing participant that night, and defense attorneys soliciting testimony from witnesses that would indicate that the girl, though drunk, knew what she was doing.

The teenage girl testified Saturday that she could not recall what happened the night of the attack but remembered waking up naked in a strange house after drinking at a party. The girl said she recalled drinking, leaving the party holding hands with Mays and throwing up later. When she woke up, she said she discovered her phone, earrings, shoes, and underwear were missing, she testified.

“It was really scary,” she said. “I honestly did not know what to think because I could not remember anything.”
Steubenville_Trent Mays_295.jpg
The girl said she believed she was assaulted when she later read text messages among friends and saw a photo of herself taken that night, along with a video that made fun of her and the alleged attack. She said she suspected she had been drugged because she couldn’t explain being as intoxicated as defense witnesses have said she was.

“They treated her like a toy,” said special prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter.

Evidence introduced at the trial included graphic text messages sent by numerous students after the night of the party, including by the accuser, containing provocative descriptions of sex acts and obscene language. Lawyers noted during the trial how texts have seemed to replace talking on the phone for contemporary teens. A computer forensic expert called by the state documented tens of thousands of texts found on 17 phones seized during the investigation.

The girl herself recalled being in a car later with Mays and Richmond and asking them what happened.

“They kept telling me I was a hassle and they took care of me,” she testified. “I thought I could trust him (Mays) until I saw the pictures and video.”

In questioning her account, defense attorneys went after her character and credibility. Two former friends of the girl testified that the accuser had a history of drinking heavily and was known to lie.

“The reality is, she drank, she has a reputation for telling lies,” said lawyer Walter Madison, representing Richmond.

The two girls testified they were angry at the accuser because she was drinking heavily at the party and rolling around on the floor. They said they tried unsuccessfully to get her to stop drinking.

The accuser said that she does not remember being photographed as she was carried by Mays and Richmond, an image that stirred up outrage, first locally, then globally, as it spread online. Others have testified the photo was a joke and the girl was conscious when it was taken.

The photograph led to allegations that three other boys, two of them members of Steubenville High’s celebrated Big Red football team, saw something happening that night and didn’t try to stop it but instead recorded it.

The three boys weren’t charged, fueling months of online accusations of a cover-up to protect the team, which law enforcement authorities have vehemently denied.

Instead, the teens were granted immunity to testify, and their accounts helped incriminate the defendants. They said the girl was so drunk she didn’t seem to know what was happening to her and confirmed she was digitally penetrated in a car and later on a basement floor.

Ohio’s attorney general planned to announce later Sunday whether additional charges will be brought in the case, including against the three other boys.

Mays and Richmond were determined to be delinquent, the juvenile equivalent of guilty, Judge Thomas Lipps ruled in the juvenile court trial without a jury.

The Associated Press normally doesn’t identify minors charged in juvenile court, but Mays and Richmond have been widely identified in news coverage, and their names have been used in open court. The AP also does not generally identify people who say they were victims of sex crimes.

 

Is Alcohol the New Short Skirt ? #Vaw #Moralpolicing


Attitudes about women’s alcohol consumption haven’t changed much. Women who drink are still perceived as being “promiscuous,” “easy,” or more sexually available.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

March , 2013  |
            Well they’re packed pretty tight in here tonight

I’m looking for a dolly who’ll see me right
I may use a little muscle to get what I need
I may sink a little drink and shout out “She’s with me!”

– Elton John, “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting

Alcohol is a game-changer when it comes to rape. If a woman was drinking when she was raped, she will be doubted and told it was her fault. Like Hester Prynne, she’ll be shamed and blamed. Society will force her to wear the Scarlet Letter A, for alcohol.

Friends, family, and if she goes to court, lawyers and judges, will scrutinize her behavior. She will be bombarded with questions. How much did you drink? Were you drunk? Were you binge drinking? Why were you drunk and alone with him? These questions are asked to establish that the woman set herself up to be raped because she consumed alcohol. And you can never trust an intoxicated woman because she really doesn’t remember what happened. It is classic blame-the-victim.

Drink and get raped, and you are chucked into the “alcohol-rape closet.” I was: After a long night of drinking at a bar, I got in a car with a man who later pulled out a knife and said he would use it if I didn’t do what he told me to. For years I blamed myself for getting raped because I was drunk. I believed that if I hadn’t been drinking, I never would have been raped.

I’m not alone. Alcohol is involved in a staggering number of sex crimes. In a national study of college students, 75% of males and 55% of females involved in date rape had been drinking or using other drugs prior to the sexual assault.

According to a study done by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: “At least one-half of all violent crimes involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, the victim, or both. Researchers have consistently found that men who have been drinking alcohol commit approximately one-half of all sexual assaults. Depending on the sample studied and the measures used, the estimates for alcohol use among perpetrators have ranged from 34 to 74 percent. Similarly, approximately one-half of all sexual assault victims report that they were drinking alcohol at the time of the assault, with estimates ranging from 30 to 79 percent.”

The leading rape myth used to be about what a woman was wearing. The twisted logic goes like this: Women who wear provocative clothing are sluts who are “asking for it.” But the feminist movement has seriously chipped away at this rape myth.

Thousands of women in Muslim countries who wear the burqa, hijab, and dress modestly are raped and sexually assaulted. In India according to the National Crime Registry, a woman is raped every 20 minutes. Egypt’s Interior Ministry reports that 20,000 women and girls are raped every year. Engy Ghozlan of the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights anti-harassment campaign said, “If the Ministry of the Interior gets 20,000 then you should multiply it by 10.” The United Nations Population Fund in Afghanistan reports that about 25 percent of Afghan women face sexual violence. (Note that alcohol is prohibited in most Muslim countries.)

Serving in the military escalates the risk of being raped. It’s been described as a “target rich environment” for sex crimes. In 2011, there were over 22,800 sexual assaults and it’s estimated that 20 percent of all active-duty female soldiers have been sexually assaulted. Military sexual trauma is not taken seriously by the Pentagon or military courts. A class-action lawsuit brought against the military by sexual assault survivors was dismissed by a court that ruled “rape is an occupational hazard of the military.”

Female soldiers wear drab buttoned-up uniforms and combat boots like their male counterparts.

Alcohol is the new “short skirt.” A poll done in 2005 by Amnesty International/ICM found that 30% of respondents believed that the victim was “partially” or “totally” responsible if she was drunk.

Society puts the onus on women to keep themselves safe and avoid dangerous situations. So if a woman is drunk, she isn’t taking her personal security seriously and is responsible for what happens to her. The hypervigilance and suspicion that is expected of women who drink in the company of men is not only ludicrous but is impossible. The majority of sexual assaults are planned, and the perpetrator takes advantage of women who have been drinking because they are more vulnerable. Let that sink in: sexual assaults are planned. Plus, the majority of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim: friends, family members, boyfriends, husbands, classmates, fellow soldiers and supervisors. Putting the burden on women to prevent rape won’t stop rape. The responsibility to stop rape should be placed entirely on men because they are the ones who do it. And drinking isn’t a crime, rape is.

Nonetheless, in rape trials, one of the first questions asked is if the victim had been drinking or using other drugs. Any lawyer will confess that it’s much harder to get a rape conviction because the woman’s credibility, reputation and memory will be attacked and put on trial if she was drunk. At the probable cause hearing in the Steubenville rape case, the lawyers asked dozens of questions about the woman’s use of alcohol.

The lawyer also asked a witness if the 16-year-old ever said, “no” or “stop” (a ridiculous question if you’ve seen the widely circulated cell phone video showing a clearly unconscious woman). In one clip, a man says, “She’s deader than a doornail.” Another witness testified: “Trent and Malik had picked her up by her hands and feet to take a – like a funny picture I would call it because she was drunk and we were all being stupid.”

The woman is being accused of making up events to damage the reputation of the football team. This young woman has already been chucked in the alcohol-rape closet.

Is it any wonder that rape is underreported? It’s estimated that 60 percent of rapes/sexual assaults are not reported to the police.  Women are afraid to report rape because they know they’ll be blamed or not believed. The police, medical, legal and criminal justice system routinely revictimize women who’ve been raped or sexually assaulted and especially if she was drinking.

It might be 2013, but attitudes about women’s alcohol consumption haven’t changed much. Women who drink are still perceived as being “promiscuous,” “easy,” or more sexually available.

Research with sexually assaultive men shows that they often describe women who drink as “loose,” immoral, and suitable targets for sexual aggression.

Alcohol is the most widely used date-rape drug, although drugs like Rohypnol and GHB have garnered more media attention.

In the U.S., alcohol plays a major role in socializing and meeting potential sex partners, especially on college campuses, in fraternities and dormitories, and in singles and sports bars. The effects of alcohol on the brain and behavior are well-known. The first few drinks make people more social, talkative and feel less awkward and shy; booze is commonly called “liquid courage.” At higher levels of consumption alcohol causes slurred speech, staggering and sedation. Alcohol decreases sexual inhibitions and increases sexual arousal. Binge drinking increases the likelihood of physical aggression in men and less frequently in women.

The “hookup” culture of young people is where the newest rape myth, “gray rape,” is most insidious. Gray rape promotes the idea that it is hard to identify what constitutes consent or non-consent and that many situations described as rape, especially when alcohol is added to the mix, are confusing or simply unknowable. Legally, a person who is drunk cannot consent to sex and having sex without consent is rape. But alcohol consumption doesn’t completely diminish the ability to consent to or decline sex. It is only in situations where the person is unconscious (blacked out) that consent isn’t possible.

Studies have shown that in a large percentage of acquaintance rapes the rapist understands that he does not have consent and he uses alcohol to facilitate the rape. A study conducted by the Naval Health Research Center showed that men who committed multiple rapes knew that they didn’t have consent and they used substances to incapacitate their victims in order to complete the rape. And another study by David Lisak and Paul Miller came to similar conclusions: that men intend to rape and in a majority of the rapes, 80.8 percent, women were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

These sexual predators target women who drink because they know it’s easier to physically overpower them. Many women who have been raped report that their attacker bought them numerous drinks and encouraged them to keep drinking for several hours before the attack. According to an article on rape and alcohol by Antonia Abbey in the Journal of American College Health, 75 percent of rapists said that they sometimes got women drunk in order to force sex on them. Another study showed that 40 percent of men said it was acceptable to force sex on a woman who was drunk.

Alcohol-facilitated rape isn’t an accident. And the gray rape ideas that are currently popular, that assert rape is the result of miscommunication, confusion or intoxication, are not only wrong, they let the rapist off the hook and blame the victim once again.

Dr. Abbey explained the sexist double-standard of drinking:

“Women who were drunk when raped are often viewed by others as partially responsible for what happened. Interviews with a group of college students showed that the male attacker was held less responsible for the rape when he was intoxicated than he was when he was reported as being sober. In contrast, the female victim was held more responsible when she was intoxicated than when she was reported as being sober. Thus, in terms of how others will perceive their behavior, the costs of intoxication are higher for college women than for college men.”

Alcohol-facilitated rape doesn’t take place in a vacuum. Sex crimes occur in a society where women are unequal to men in every arena of life and in a culture that degrades and commodifies women’s bodies and sexuality.

Advertisements for alcohol are among the most overtly sexist and misogynist. They often depict large-breasted, bikini-clad women draped over bottles of booze while being stared at by groups of men. For men, these ads reinforce the idea that drinking alcohol makes them powerful and that women are passive objects attracted to men who drink. Check out the Thirsty For Beer commercial on YouTube.

Raunch culture is ubiquitous, is often paired with binge drinking, and reinforces women’s status as sex objects who never say no to men. The Girls Gone Wildand Booty Slap Day videos, gentleman’s strip clubs, the TV show The Girls Next Door — also known as The Girls of the Playboy Mansion — restaurant chains Hooters and Tilted Kilt that lure customers with the promise of half-naked female servers, cause no societal outrage. In fact, some, including feminists, argue it shows that women are sexually liberated.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that men who rape have sexist and misogynist beliefs.

Studies have found the following attitudes among men who commit rape and sexual assault:

  • Men who had committed sexual assault were more hostile toward women and lower in empathy compared with other men.
  • Men who had committed sexual assault endorsd traditional stereotypes about gender roles; for example, that men are responsible for initiating sex and women are responsible for setting the limits.
  • Perpetrators of sexual assault were more likely to endorse statements that have been used to justify rape; the most common were, “women say ‘no’ when they mean ‘yes’” and “women enjoy forced sex.”
  • Men who had committed sexual assaults were more likely to hold adversarial beliefs about relationships between men and women and to consider the use of force in interpersonal relationships acceptable.

These are the ideas that have to change in order to end sexual violence against women.

The only person who is ever responsible for rape or sexual assault is the perpetrator. When I finally understood this, I came out of the alcohol-rape closet.

Helen Redmond is a freelance journalist and a drug and health policy analyst.

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