I'm Not Mad at the Woman Who Probably Thought I Was Going to Rape Her
|Men's Rights Edmonton's response to the "Don't Be That Guy" poster campaign against rape|
Sorry. I couldn't keep the laughter inside and I spit soda all over my laptop.
No, I don't feel guilt as a man over the existence of rape. Every woman I've ever come in contact with has left my presence so thoroughly un-raped, you guys. What I do feel is sadness. It hurts me to see other people in pain or scared. Maybe it's all the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic my daughter makes me watch, or something, but the sight of someone recoiling in fear, even from me, doesn't make me angry. It makes me wonder how I can help.
One thing I know I can do to help is admit that as a man I have the privilege of not walking down the street and wondering if the person coming up behind me is going to rape me. Sure, it does happen, but at a very, very low percentage compared to incidents that happen to women at the hands of men. I can also admit that if I am ever raped no one is ever going to ask what I was wearing, or how much I had to drink, or if I am just regretting a one-night-stand, or if I am vindictively trying to ruin someone's reputation, or a hundred other things that come up whenever a prominent rape story appears in the news with a female victim. The odds of that ever being my problem are slim to none. The odds of it being a woman's problem are more like one in six.
Long ago I read a story right here in the Houston Press about a high school girl that sneaked out to a party, got drunk, was raped, and how everyone around her treated her as some sort of sex-crazed assailant just trying to ruin the lives of the upstanding young men that took advantage of her. I remember, so clearly, my girlfriend at the time telling me that she didn't feel sorry for the victim, that she got what was coming to her for acting so irresponsibly. She did feel bad about her treatment by the people around her, though.
I, being 17 dating a 25-year-old (long story), agreed with her. What the hell did I know? I'd never known anyone who was raped, and she was a woman. She must know what she was talking about. I thought she was smarter and wiser than me, so I went around repeating this position whenever it came up in conversation.
Which is how I almost lost my job when I said it to my female boss.
Years later, on the other side of a whole lot of life experiences, I know that that position is wrong, and more than wrong -- abhorrent and cruel. Yet it still persists, and it infects every aspect of our lives. There is something in the air that whispers to women that it's their job to not get raped, and that if they don't perform that job adequately they deserve reprimand.
It's an insane amount of pressure to live under, and it means that someone I might have just exchanged a quick "Hello" with for a brief moment had to consider if I might not be up to throwing her down in the bushes. No, I don't assume the guilt of the millions of men that would and have done that. They don't get to dilute their evil by pouring it into my soul. That said, I acknowledge that many women walking alone who meet me will be forced to consider that I might be one of those millions because of attitudes like the one I used to espouse. That rape is something women bring on themselves, not something that is done to them against their will.
I'm not mad at the woman who probably thought I was going to rape her.
I'm mad at a million tiny pieces of the world that told her I might.