As my rape culture post has circulated on Medium, and the conversation has continued, I’ve found myself annoyed. The men who are talking, nearly invariably, debate. They argue the definition of consent, they argue the definition of rape, they tell me I’m being too hard on myself and others, they worry about the definition of rape being too broad, they dominate the conversations with their resistance, their confusion, and their privilege.
Not all. Most. Overwhelmingly most.
I’ve found myself seeing patriarchy, seeing questioning as confrontation, seeing a culture who does not want to give up its rape not wanting to give up its rape. I’ve found myself caught between wanting to be heard by the power population who has the most weight to throw around, and being utterly fucking exhausted by including them.
More than a few times I’ve caught myself demonizing a friend in my head because they are a man who is asking me to clarify myself. And more than a few times I’ve responded internally to the support and the bravery of women who identify with what I’ve said, claiming their own rape culture transgressions and vowing to cease them, with ‘why the fuck aren’t more men doing this?’.
Especially when I know, personally, multiple men who I strongly, strongly suspect relate with my stance on this issue, and aren’t speaking up. *Yes I’m looking at you.*
I think one reason more men aren’t coming forward in support of this idea is that it’s unbelievably tricky for men to voluntarily be accountable for violence. Of any kind, but especially of this kind.
When, in my life, I’ve taken accountability for being an abuser, for being violent, and now for being a rapist, I’ve overwhelmingly been called a fucking superhero. Though I feel a bit like I’m flapping in the wind and it’s not even close to easy to be putting myself out there the way that I am, in this way, I have it easy here, and I know it.
I have rarely seen that happen for men who have done so, or more to the point, who are struggling to do so and are stumbling through it. I think it’s important to weigh this, as we move through this conversation. To consider that, in our culture, it is more ok for us as women to stumble through taking ownership of our violence.
Yes, we are discussing an indoctrinated violence that begat violence that was perpetuated by patriarchy and we are part of a rape culture which severely effects us as women. In the existence of rape culture, it is men who have the privilege. When I see women taking this on and speaking out about newly seeing themselves as having raped others, part of me is scowling. Why the fuck is it that the underprivileged rape culture population is the one that seems to be showing the most contrition for the existence of it in ourselves?
Well, I wonder if it’s in part because in transforming views on rape culture by blowing the lid off of its pervasiveness and paving the way for a different view of common behaviors by calling ourselves out for having them, it’s us that actually has some privilege.
I wonder if, actually, in the cause of exposing how pervasive rape culture is in our lives, and how much of a HUMAN issue it is, I just really wonder right now if we as women, with our vulnerability and courage, are in fact the ones who have the most weight to throw around to tip this god damn thing over.