rape Archives - The Jose Vilson

rape

On Rape [Where An Educator Stands]

by Jose Vilson on August 23, 2012

in Jose

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 …

{ 21 comments }

Consent

by Jose Vilson on September 13, 2011

in Jose

"Society Teaches 'Don't Get Raped' Rather Than 'Don't Rape'."

I read a story today by Kathy Dobie for GQ about the 11-year-old girl who was raped by 19 or so men ranging from ages 16 to 27 in Cleveland, TX. The crime as an isolated incident? Heinous, and as an isolated incident reeks of the sexism some of us have numbed ourselves to over the last few decades. As I dug further in the story, I saw the rapers exemplified this country’s culture, which perpetuates the perception of women as objects for a man’s pleasure. Not only did these young men believe they did nothing wrong (they all pleaded not guilty despite the plethora of video, photo, and first-hand accounts as evidence), they had a whole community who forced themselves to believe they did nothing wrong because it was their own. We definitely see elements of racial conflict here, as we see Black men and boys raping a young Latina girl.

But fuck that. It could have been any girl with any group of guys. It’s still rape.

Our culture gives too many passes to people we prize in our communities or feel like “they looked after us.” (Yes, I’m referring to athletes and fraternities in college, to start.) Some of this comes from the backlash of centuries of people treating people unlike them as sexual objects. We can discuss colonialism, the theory of manifest destiny, slave labor, and undocumented servitude under this huge umbrella. Yet, the only way some of us think they can combat these societal tragedies is to find someone (or ones) to oppress as well. We have underground cultures where women let men “run trains on them” for quasi-protection, or see themselves having to “give it up” just on the threat of physical and mental abuse by other means.

Men, if we don’t respond to this in clear terms, we are part of the problem.

I’ve never known rape first-hand, but I’ve known harassment vicariously from people very close to me. Rather than focus on the victim / survivor, I’ll focus on those who perpetrated these acts. I’ve heard of men who slap women just to gain some control over them through fear and escalated violence. I’ve seen men who pretend to love their woman, but leave tire-streak scars on their otherwise beautiful and fragile appendages. I’ve seen men psychologically abuse women who they know they can do that to because of their deteriorating health, and she stays because she feels she has no other alternative but to continue getting abused in this manner. I’ve heard men tell other men to serve up concoctions of local anti-depressants and Nyquil with Kool-Aid served in a red cup to a woman who, unbeknownst to her, will fornicate with this man whether she wants to or not. I’ve waited for police officers and judges to make proper judgements on cases like these, only to tell their local newspapers that, because the woman didn’t come naked, scarred, and intoxicated with hallucinogens on her breath as evidence of the acts, her case has no validity.

Before I continue, some men might already think that I’m some sort of apologist, and that, realistically, there are women who “look for trouble.” They dress a certain way, act a certain way, and don’t say “no” when offered sex. There are women who go to clubs under-age and get in because of how they look and the people they see. They’ve already developed a reputation in their neighborhoods for promiscuity (whether it’s false or not). If they continue down that path, they’re bound to be raped. That’s where I hold a mirror to their faces and alert them to their own fallacies. How do we still live in a country that focuses intently on the abused and not the abuser?

How does “what a person looks like” constitute tolerance permission for rape? Before we look at a person’s form or dress, look at the person’s soul. Too many women I know experienced trespassing of their persons at a young age from people within their families. Some went on to become very successful in their own right, others not. Unlike the narrative that’s often told about women who get abused early in their lives, many of them actually lead normal lives. Some of them might be your best friends, your closest colleagues, your current lover, your parent, your wife, and, in some cases, your current students.

There’s a reason we have laws against this sort of stuff, because, if we look at this idea of consent, it’s the understanding that the person with whom you’re about to have consensual activities with mostly acknowledges the consequences of crossing this threshold with you. They have an understanding of their bodies in general, and, until such time, our society ought to set boundaries on our boys and girls (with or without parents). Little girls, by such definition, can’t consent to this sort of activity, and women, upon arriving at the ability to consent, should have the choice as to whom they let within their gates.

Without caveats. Otherwise, “no” is “no.” And if you think the opposite of “no” is silence, you’re dead wrong.

Mr. Vilson, who isn’t a lawyer, but hopes this made sense to people reading this before I calm myself down now …

p.s. – I do acknowledge that rape happens with and across other gender types, but I just wanted to hone in on this one, because we still don’t talk about it enough.

{ 5 comments }

Mars and Venus Are in the Same Damn Universe

by Jose Vilson on November 8, 2007

in Jose

Bell HooksThis week, I’ve decided to focus on my girls because, 1) I’ve been reading Pandagon far too much and 2) sexism is still alive, simple and plain. Unfortunately, women are still making 77 cents to the dollar of a man, and even in this state, which many consider to be a beacon of liberalism, we have 80 cents to the dollar. Even at the same job, the ratio is still far too staggering. Corporations and the economic world still views women as those that need to be the ones raising the child, in the kitchen, and preparing their man a newspaper. The problem isn’t just economic, but psychological, physical, and institutional.

For instance, it disturbs me that we still have people referring to themselves as pro-life (when they’re really anti-choice and anti-woman), and that many people’s votes for this Reich hinged on this issue, even though they disagreed with him on everything else and may have even called this man anti-Christian. For one, I don’t see these people as pro-life because whose life do they care about? I don’t think it’s appropriate to tell a woman what to do with her womb when it endangers her health and well-being. Also, many women (and young women for that matter) tell me not just stories of coat-hangers and killer pills, but about the grueling, emotionally taxing, and expensive abortion process. Most of the women I know who’ve had one didn’t want to have one, but had to for fear of their health and / or the embryo that might come into this Earth.

Plus, it should be an option for women because it’s their womb. And usually the people who make the decision about these wombs are men, all of whom will never experience anything close to a menstrual cycle or the labors of labor. Women should be able to rely on us for protection and support, but many of us spend our time reducing them to our play things and sidebars in our life’s great made-for-life movie. In a day and age where women are more than 1/2 of our population (and easily 6/10ths of our college population), we can easily debunk the (sexist) theory that women are inferior.  Most of the employees in our first professional environment (school) are women, yet they’re often pegged for stupid.

Yet, we still see them as them and not us. We still have rapists saying “She was so hot, it was like her body was calling my name” and “she shouldn’t have worn that if she didn’t want to have that happen to her.” We’ve been imparted views (on both sides) that women are supposed to be beautiful or else they’re ugly. They’re put into extremes that aren’t (dare I say) humane. To put some perspective on this, even in Hollywood, where everything’s bloated, liberal, and absolutely perfect, the highest paid actor is Brad Pitt with $62 million and the highest paid actress is Jodie Foster with $27 million dollars, almost 2.5 times less.

And frankly, it’s a hyperbolic microcosm of what America’s going through today. For many, there seems to be a sense that women are easily dispensable and men, while they won’t always shine, they’ll always dominate what goes on behind the scenes. They’re the aggressor, they’re the protagonist, and whenever a woman shows some strength in character, she’s compared to a male counterpart or has male qualities, an absolutely absurd idea. It’s obvious when we read through our Cosmos, Vibes, Kings, XXLs, and the other popular publications that we’re constantly fed images of what women are supposed to be, even subconsciously.

So when I think about that in the backdrop of my job, I don’t wonder why it is that little girls often believe they have to have sex to boost their self-worth and esteem. Girls become very aware of their sexuality in the wrong ways very early on. From the dirty uncle who keeps trying to have the little girl sit on his lap, the dude at the grocery store who keeps giving her sweets, hoping she’ll return him the favor, or even the co-worker that slips something in her beer when she’s not looking. With 73% of these rapists being someone whom the survivor / victim knows (28% being a relative or a boyfriend/girlfriend!), we can only surmise that rape happens more often after the person’s gotten to know the burgeoning rapist. In these people’s minds, women are nothing but play things.

Yet, I don’t advocate for abstinence or any of that mess (recent studies have shown that abstinence only programs have done nothing to curb the trends of teenage sex, so I can only imagine what it’s like for adults), nor do I think women and men should stop expressing themselves sexually. We should, however, use caution when we address someone as a “bitch” or a “ho.” When we belittle someone by calling them a girl or a wuss (women included), those are negative connotations attached to women.

I’m not here calling myself Mr. Ethical, but we have to make an effort to have true equality amongst race, gender, sex, and class, word to bell hooks.  True equity comes when we don’t just talk about what we’re going to do about inequality, but be about that change.

jose, who wonders why someone searched “How old is Jose Vilson?” on Google. TALK TO ME! (ha)

p.s. – I got a huge boost today from voters to the Weblog Awards 2007. Thanks a million for everything, mi gente. It’s my first year doing this, so humble I am.

{ 6 comments }