prevent-rape

On Rape [Where An Educator Stands]

Jose Vilson Jose 21 Comments

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.

What Akin et. al. Sound Like To The Rest Of Us

What Akin et. al. Sound Like To The Rest Of Us

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.

Consent matters.

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 …

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Comments 21

  1. Amanda

    Thank you. I might gently suggest that you remove the word momentarily, because rape can last longer than moments and it comes across unintentionally dismissive. The flashbacks dispossess us long past the incident. Questioning the victim on clothing choices, behavior and location will never end because it is the one area that maybe allows us to believe that it could have been prevented.

    I have had incredibly intelligent people say to me, “you just don’t seem like the type of woman who would get raped.” the problem with Akin, and the legions behind him quietly believing the same thing he said, is that one day it will be their daughter, wife, sister or best friend. Men, as you have here, need to consider what it is to be a woman, voters need to consider the what ifs, because they really can come to pass.

    Thank you for adding another perspective to this conversation.

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    Jose

    Amanda, thank you for your perspective. Thanks for emphasizing the unintentionally because you’re right: the effects do last LONG after the incident (and in many cases, incidents).

    Appreciate the feedback, people.

  3. Erin in AK

    I appreciate what you have written, and might be more inclined to share it around, without the associated graphic. While the “just say yes” is meant in one way…it could be taken in another. Just say yes, and then it isn’t rape. Right? I know what you intended…that we should say yes to STOPPING rape. But I hope you get my drift and consider a change.

  4. David

    Well said.

    Honestly it really bothers me that people still have to discuss this thing in an educational manner out here on the internet. Why isn’t this in our schools, why aren’t mandatory health classes covering this kind of thing, why aren’t parents telling their teenage children(if younger that’s their choice).

    I live in Maine, and 75% of the women I know in general have been raped(that’s just because I haven’t talked closely with all the women I know, the number could be higher), or sexually assaulted at a young age. It’s awful, how can this be happening in such high numbers and yet no one in our government or law enforcement is taking any kind of stand against it.

    So thanks and keep talking about this it needs to be said.

  5. Kim

    I like the message, though I do not like the graphic. To me, it implies that women should just “get over it”, “go along with it”. Just my opinion.

  6. Amber

    Thank you! I wish more men would speak out. I wish more women would speak out, as well. It’s beyond ridiculous that we even have to have this discussion.

  7. Krista

    I have a problem with the image up top. This isn’t a joking matter.

    Also…
    “Don’t let alcohol or drugs cloud your judgment to the point where you forget your manners.”

    Manners? I understand what you’re getting at here, but guys who commit sexual abuse or rape are not just exhibiting poor manners. It’s an act of violence. Boys need to be raised understanding that it’s an attack both physically and emotionally, and that they shouldn’t impair their judgment enough that they forget that.

  8. Frances Brown

    Hello:
    I think you would be surprised to learn that you DO know someone that was raped, or molested, or sexually assaulted. The statistics are overwhelming, and chances are that 3 out of every5 women you know have had such experiences.

    I have to agree with the earlier comments about the image and statement; the act of rape is violent, not sexual. “just say yes” implies that you might enjoy it. That there might be sexual pleasure involved. That ISN’T RAPE.

    Thank you for this conversation starter, and for your opinions.

    Sincerely,

    Frances

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    Jose

    Frances, et. al., I’ll first apologize if the image did not come across as intended: an ironic (not funny, but ironic) statement about the sorry state of rape excuses. If anything, the image is a representation of the things that were said at the time about rape … and the attitudes that accompany it.

    Having said that, yes, I do know someone who was raped. Says so on the first line. Also, in no way does the “manners” line excuse rape. It’s more a point about how some of the things we consider innocent can turn into a slippery slope.

    Thanks to those of you who read the full blog after seeing the image. I’m glad so many of you are helping me refine my thinking. That’s important.

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  10. Breanna

    This is so eloquently written. I have to agree with others who say that questioning clothing/location and even upbringing (could her parents have changed how they raised her so she knew not to look like she was asking for it/so she wasn’t a slut? I heard this argument some time ago about a 12 year old girl who was gang raped by a group of neighbors… both older men and teens) because we like to believe that WE have some control over this… when really the only way we have control is working to raise our boys to be young gentlemen who respect and cherish women.

  11. Brenda

    Jose, I appreciate that you noted the comment “I understand” is not one a rape victim wants to hear from a person who has never been through rape. It stays with you throughout your entire life. I am 56 and was 13 when I was raped by a family member. I went through therapy, support groups, etc which helped me to change the label of “victim” to “survivor.” There are still times to this day that I have flashbacks.

    So when I hear morons like Akin and his cohorts trying to put their spin on rape, it infuriates me. These idiots show their contempt of women by trying to redefine rape. Mourdock speaking about a conception due to rape being “God’s will” is revolting.

  12. nusrat

    is this all what a girl deserve to get????????????
    are we supposed to be the victim of the situation?? why?? there’s no one to answer.. there’s no one to judge..if i rise my voice up, others ask me if i’ve got raped recently.. what is this? why is this? where’s our humanity gone????????????????

  13. MrX

    >>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’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”.<<

    You probably shouldn't walk alone in the middle of the night in any deserted place except the woods unless you pack a pistol. The media would have women believe that their chances of being raped are affected by how they dress……..NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH. Date rapists and so-called *sexual predators* don't choose their victims based on how she's dressed, they choose them based on opportunity.

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      Jose Vilson

      I don’t know what to tell you, but I don’t need an absolution. Really, you can’t be absolved from such a thing, especially since we’re still living in a patriarchal society. Otherwise, I’m confused about the point of your comment.

  14. MrX

    Vilson, you posted in this article that You want someone to absolve you own male guilt. I can’t do that for you. Admittedly, I feel guilty too.

    The point of my comment is that I find the statement very presumptuous on your part and that your presumption is false. I neither need nor want any absolution since I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty about being male. Having spoken with other black men in America, most of em seem to understand that there are MUCH bigger problems that they must face(black women too)for the color of their skin than “patriarchy”.

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