TIME TO START TEACHING GIRLS AND WOMEN NOT TO RAPE MEN
TORONTO and NEW YORK CITY — The more I read about the events that unfolded on Easter Sunday in Toronto, the more disgusted and angrier I get.
Just this morning (May 23), I read that Nichole Pietsch, the Director of the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres, said in an interview on April 7 that “statistically and anecdotally [rape] is a crime experienced mostly by women, and the offenders tend to be male.”
That comment really caused me to fly into a rage and literally made my skin crawl.
What Ms. Pietsch is doing is EXCUSING the actions of the female rapists by completely DISMISSING the male victims of sexual assault as invisible and non-existent. That kind of despicable remark is totally inexcusable for someone who supposedly deals with rape victims ALL the time.
Only ten years ago, only 2% of all men experienced sexual assault. Today, the percentage of men raped by women ranges anywhere from 14% to about 32%, depending upon who’s gathering the data. Sorry, Ms. Pietsch, it is NOT an oddity anymore. In fact, female-on-male rape is becoming increasingly common!
I know that no one wants to think of their daughter, niece or even (gasp!) mother as potential rapists. I know I don’t. However, I do not live in a bubble like the anti-sex feminists or the average conservative activist does. I’m sure that the fathers and mothers of these women in Toronto, as well as the friends of the women, thought that they weren’t capable of such horrific, violating actions either. As a matter of fact, most of the North American population are still in denial and sadly, far from the only ones.
Here is a comment from one of the Gawker media articles in the recently-concluded Steubenville, Ohio, rape case:
Let’s draw a distinction between rape and rape jokes. They’re not the same.
Cut the bullshit right now. Rape and rape jokes are the same to me. It doesn’t matter if Daniel Tosh, Louis C.K., the Onion or a female comedian tells a rape joke – to me such jokes are totally offensive and have no place in our society. And it certainly DOES NOT matter if the joke is targeted towards the rapist or the victim – OFFENSIVE IS OFFENSIVE and should always be condemned. Period.
This kind of behavior may happen overnight, but it does NOT happen in a vacuum. It’s part and parcel of a larger cult of radicalism and masculinity that feeds into rape culture. Not only does it happens in communities that praise male domination and patriarchal ideals – it also happens in communities that promote the “girls rule” and “men/boys can’t get raped by women/girls” culture. Just like with female victims of rape, any rumor has a destructive outcome: the onus (the catcalls and victim-blaming) falls on the male victims of rape – and the slurs hurled against male victims of sexual assault by girls and women are ten thousand times worse than vice versa. All the while the female rapists get nothing more than praise and a few eye rolls from the community at large – and a slap on the wrist from our completely crooked judiciary system.
This all aids in creating an environment where a girl or woman feels that making jokes about a man being raped is acceptable and should be encouraged. Girls aren’t “too young to understand the seriousness of this situation.” You’re never too young to understand violating another person is wrong, and if you somehow made it to 19-years-old (let alone 34) without that knowledge, that is symptomatic of a larger societal problem that excuses or normalizes behavior like that. When people are afraid to stand up for a 19-year-old gang rape victim because of the fact that the victim is a man and the rapists are all women? We should be shouting at the top of our lungs for things to change.
So, here I am, when I am supposed to be tweeting about the #FBrape campaign – I am instead blogging about how we need to teach our girls and women not to rape, instead of ridiculing men and boys who report such rapes – since most of North America just does NOT get it. We need to flip the script when it comes to discussing rape and admit that yes, we in the United States and Canada live in a society that promotes, endorses and enables rape culture. Only then can we go about dismantling it. We need to explain to our daughters and nieces why it is NEITHER funny NOR okay to make a joke about men being raped by a woman. We need to get to a point where every girl in that room stands up and says “Enough is enough” and sever ties with friends or female family members who think that boys and men can’t get raped by women and girls.
I am issuing an open challenge to all parents of daughters today: to talk to your daughters and teach them that this is not acceptable behavior for anyone.
NOTE: For more on teaching boys and men not to rape women and girls, click here.