I will confirm first and foremost that I do know women who have been raped, momentarily dispossessed from their bodies by a sexually deviant aggressor. As a listener, I can’t sit there and try to empathize because “I understand” is completely false. I don’t. I’ve never had that happen to me. While the act of rape isn’t limited to women, it overwhelmingly happens to them, and, as such, I’ve never been asked by society to become an expert in how to prevent such a heinous act.
That’s part of male privilege. I’ve never had to change my clothes or consider looking more down to earth to avoid being raped. I’ve walked by myself in the middle of night, inebriated to the gills, and bumped by innocent strangers, but no one ever took that as a sign that I was asked for a proverbial “it.” I have a lot of other “isms” I face on a daily basis, and probably a few more now that you associate a face with what I’m writing.
But, because I’m a guy, you might be inclined to read what I’m saying about rape. Just like if I was white, you’d love to hear my thoughts on race. Or if I was rich, you might be more inclined to hear my thoughts on poverty.
All the while, women still get raped around the world at an alarming clip (and these statistics are only the confirmed cases). The “look to your left / right …” axiom they tell you in college might also apply to statistics on sexual assault. You don’t want to hear about that, though. You want to hear that there’s really nothing you can do because you don’t rape and never have as of now. You want to hear that the laws have put away the vast majority of the offenders, that if you don’t have to see rape then it’s not so bad, that religion and morality might prevent burgeoning rapists from completing their wanton fantasies, that most of these cases get solved within an hour episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.
You want someone to absolve you of your own male guilt. I can’t do that for you. Admittedly, I often feel guilt too.
I can tell you the first step in this, though. Stop having different standards for your boys and girls when it comes to sexual relations. Tell boys (and some of your friends as well) to not rape. Don’t let alcohol or drugs cloud your judgment to the point where you forget your manners.
As an educator, I often find the non-statements from men in our field counterproductive to our profession. I wouldn’t want to “reach,” but certainly, because the majority of rank-and-file teachers are women, then educators ought to support women’s rights from the womb onward. Points of interest like equal pay and workers’ rights only scratch the surface. U.S. Representative Todd Akin only lit a fire in this conversation, but he also had an adverse effect on it: he asked us to reconsider what we think is rape.
Our silence on these issues only allows people like Akin to push progress back. To the ground. Out of their bodies. And into a place where neither the average men nor woman should consent.
Jose, who needs us to take a stand …