Saturday, May 31, 2014
Rape Culture and Misogyny
Is this a good week to talk about rape culture and misogyny? Given that this week people died because some guy blamed the pretty blonde girls for not sleeping with him, the question is why aren't we talking about rape culture and misogyny in much louder voices?
Yes, the guy was mentally ill and he had access to guns, but let's not pretend that's all there was to it. Let's not ignore the fact that there is something else going on here as well: what happened in Santa Barbara is rape culture taken to its logical conclusion.
The best definition I've seen of rape culture is that it's male privilege plus a sense of entitlement. Male privilege, in this sense, isn't a bad thing. I mean, I wish I had some of it. Male privilege means that a man's answers to these questions will probably be a lot different than a woman's:
1. When you go out with your friends, do you keep a close eye on each other?
2. When you park your car in a dark place at night, do you worry about walking back to get it?
3. Have you ever felt unsafe walking into a room full of people of the opposite sex?
It's the sense of entitlement that's the kicker. The sense that a woman owes a man sex just, well, because he's a man and he's entitled. Maybe he invited her to dinner, or he bought her that drink, or fuck her, she's wearing a short skirt so she's obviously gagging for it anyway. He's a man, and he's entitled. And no, not all men are predators. But you only need to follow #YesAllWomen on Twitter to realise that all women have been made to feel like prey.
So back to our gunman. A lot of people feel sorry for this guy. A lot of people support his actions. He has Facebook fan pages, for fuck's sake. There are people out there who feel sorry for him -- not because he was lonely or mentally ill and the world would have been a better place if he'd gotten some help instead of fixating on revenge for some imagined slights against him. And, you know what, I think in some sense it's commendable to feel pity for the guy. But not at the exclusion of the real victims.
And then there are the people out there who actually think that a girl rejecting you is a reason to get out there and kill people. Even better, that it's the girls' fault.
So let's talk about that girl. I'll tell you right now: that girl owes you nothing. She doesn't have to sleep with anyone she doesn't want to. But while we're talking about who she's sleeping with as though it's any of our business, guess what? She's not a slut if she does chose to sleep with someone. For whatever reason. Because in the same week when people were dying because someone wanted to take revenge on all the blonde sluts who wouldn't sleep with him, another girl was getting bullied into suicide because she did have sex.
Between the slut shaming and the victim blaming, we're damned if we do and damned if we don't.
I'd kind of hoped that in writing this, I'd come up with some sort of conclusion, but I haven't. I'm still angry and upset. Not even at what happened in Santa Barbara, but at the reaction to it. And not even from dickheads online, but from the mainstream media. Because something is very, very wrong with society, and nobody is talking about it.
Well, except some very cool people like Chuck Wendig here: Not All Men, But Still Too Many Men; or Arthur Chu in Your Princess is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds. And if you want to capture some of my rage, I suggest you read Erin Gloria Ryan's horrifying article, Lessons With a Day Spent with the UCSB Shooter's Awful Friends.