I’ve been meaning to write this for a long time and incidents keep happening that show beyond any doubt that a significant number of males need to wake up to themselves. I can’t think of a better way to put it: men have got to be better.
It isn’t as if men don’t have problems. Society forces a lot of messed up ideas on males from a young age in the name of masculinity and many women simply don’t understand the difficulties men face. But that’s a different conversation. And if you think the problems and injustices faced by men are worse than those suffered by women (or even equivalent) then simply put, you ARE the problem.
Women are murdered every week in Australia by their partners or ex-partners. That’s reality. One in three women you know has been sexually assaulted. One in six has been raped. And more often than not, when these cases are reported there’s a focus on what the woman should have done.
Why didn’t she leave him? Why was she walking there? Why was she alone? Why was she drinking? Why didn’t she know better?
A simple look at the reality faced by women shows that in practical terms there’s very little a woman can do to stop violence happening because it can happen at any time in any circumstance. Their own home is the most dangerous environment. They are in the most danger from men they know. There is only one person who can stop it from happening and that’s the attacker. Telling women how to avoid being attacked can’t possibly work as a primary message – it (at best) implicitly tells the attacker that it’s the woman’s fault. Until the primary message it to men, saying don’t attack women, nothing will change.
If you even started to equivocate then, YOU are the problem. “But she could have…” Yes, maybe she could have. But she shouldn’t have to. And glib statements made after the fact can’t possibly take into account what it was like when the attack happened. And make no mistake, every single time you comment on what a woman should or should not have done, you embolden attackers.
And now we come to the most sensitive part of the conversation. The derailing of discussions about violence against women by saying “not all men” do it. That approach is at best meaningless and self-serving. At worst, it’s pure evil. Deliberately designed to sabotage the conversation and shut down women who dare to speak out. The concept that as a man your feelings are hurt at the suggestion you might bear some responsibility for the plague of violence against women is utterly pathetic.
If you feel compelled to shut down women talking about the everyday reality they deal with because “not all men” do it, you are actively supporting the rapists. If you need to negate someone’s actual experiences because of your feelings you are utterly reprehensible and need to shut the fuck up.
And for those worthless losers who can’t stop with their obsession of saying not all men do it and think that is in any way a meaningful contribution, here are some home truths:
- Statistically, it is almost certain that you work with, associate with or are related to a rapist
- There’s no doubt at all that you or someone you hang out with is responsible for abusive or threatening behavior towards a woman that made her legitimately fear for her safety
And quite honestly, the more you protest, the more I suspect that you are the sort of scumbag that does these things on a regular basis.
If you can’t let women talk about what their lives are like without trying to shout them down and tell them why they’re wrong then I really don’t trust you when you protest you’re not guilty of treating women badly. On top of everything else, I can’t understand why so many men are threatened by the idea of women feeling safer. How could you possibly lose out if women feel safe? Imagine a world where a woman doesn’t fear that when you try to open a conversation with her, that means she’s in danger from you. Because it’s a world where women aren’t constantly threatened and assaulted by men.
I’ve seen some guys take exception to the term “Schrodinger’s Rapist”. This surprises me because I think it’s an excellent definition of why women have to be cautious of men who are NOT rapists. Like Schrodinger’s Cat who is both alive and dead until the box is open, women are confronted with so many situations where she should be safe but can be attacked without warning. She only knows for sure if a man is a rapist when she makes herself vulnerable and so up until that point, the man both is and is not a rapist. The worst thing is, in far too many cases, “vulnerable” means nothing more than existing as a woman.
If you say this reflects badly on women and not men, that it’s women and not men who have to change, then I think you’ve answered the Schrodinger’s Rapist question. You’re just waiting for the right opportunity to show who you really are.
And even at the (arguably) more innocuous end of the spectrum, being jerks to women – I don’t get this. To take an example that really bugs me – geek/nerd culture. Whether it happens online or at conventions/meetups there are always self-proclaimed “real” nerds who go out of their way to make women feel unwelcome and/or threatened. They call them fake geeks, they say they’re too fat to cosplay, they say they’re too hot to be a real nerd and they’re exploiting this for attention. In fact there’s no end of flaws these types can find with women when ultimately their only transgression is being female.
I don’t get it. Do you want sausage fests? Because this is how you get sausage fests!
I’m making a blatant appeal to self interest here. So long as women feel threatened and unsafe men are also going to lose (although in a far less awful way). Some purists don’t like the idea of using self-interest as a motivator, the simple fact women should deserve to go through life without living in fear of assault should be enough. Yes, it should be. But it isn’t. I’m a pragmatist. I’m looking for anything that works. And I truly believe men are hurting themselves with this “not all men” MRA bullshit.
Try listening. Try being supportive. Don’t make it about you. Because it isn’t about you. And if you can’t see why all men accepting responsibility for reducing violence against women is something that will benefit men, I think we’ve learned all we need to know about you.