Rape Culture Hysteria: Goodbye Good Men

rapecultureIn the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the Guardian has an article that claims that For some men, rape just isn’t a big deal. While I believe that some non-legal definitions of harassment aren’t worth worrying about, the idea that actual rape isn’t considered a big deal is laughable.

One thing I keep hearing, as the fallout from Weinstein continues, is incredulity that a famous champion of liberal causes might have a problem with women. To most women who have spent time around champions of liberal causes, this is (grimly) hilarious. The idea that men on the left are less likely to be misogynists than men on the right is as bogus an idea as the one that men of the cloth are less likely to sin.

Misogyny (hating women) is not an apt term. Immorality better describes his behavior. Does anyone think the left has higher moral standards? Say what you will about conservatives, I think it’s clear that on the whole, they are less immoral.

And yet over and over it comes: why did he do it? Was it because of self-loathing? Was it the thrill of getting away with it? I think he did it because, to him, it was simply no big deal.

Weinstein knew it was a big deal. That’s why he had protection against lawsuits spelled out in his contract. He simply believed he could get away with his actions because he had been getting away with them for years.

I was talking with a friend once about sexual assault and he said: “Well, being raped isn’t as bad as, say, working in a factory in China.”

Since sexual assault is an involuntarily suffered aggression, and working in a sweatshop is, though not fun, generally a voluntary action, your friend is clearly an idiot.

It was suddenly clear to me that to him, and I assume to many men, rape exists purely in the hypothetical realm. “If you had to work in a factory for six months or be raped, which would you choose?” I asked. He looked taken aback; rape wasn’t something he had considered in relation to himself.

As it is hypothetical to most women. Plenty of men get raped; women don’t hold the franchise on it. Don’t assume the stupidity of your friend is all men’s.

There have been complaints from women that the elision of minor infringements – knee-grabbing, verbal harassment – with violent assault dilutes the gravity of “genuine” sex crimes.

And they are right. While unwanted physical contact and verbal abuse are unpleasant and in many cases, unethical, they are not assaults. Including them in the rape statistics creates hysteria and a victim culture where police are expected to intervene when someone posts a mean tweet. This is insulting to the actual victims of real physical violence.

But it seems to me that these things have always been elided: by the criminal justice system, by men who don’t see much difference between pinching someone’s arse and “non-consensual sex”. Unless you are a 17-year-old who is grabbed off the street by men in ski masks, the continuum between sexual assault, harassment and aggressive “banter” is at best a little blurry.

This is complete bullshit. Before feminists started attacking the legal system, there were very clearly understood definitions of what was criminal and what was not. Crimes were based on evidence, not feelings.

There will be over-corrections. Some of the narratives on offer to young women to whom older men have been inappropriate will invite some to feel more traumatised than they are. It is, undoubtedly, better to laugh off some experiences than nurse them.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of assholes in the world. If you allow every bad thing that comes your way to stop you in your tracks, you won’t get very far. You need to stand up for yourself and what you believe. Sometimes, this will mean you don’t get something you want; life is not fair, and you have to keep working at it.

But it is also better to live in a world in which the genuinely traumatised aren’t told nothing has happened to them, and where the presumptions underpinning even the most trivial acts of aggression are dragged out and exposed. It has never been much of a taboo to touch a woman without her permission. Perhaps, under pain of calamitous “overreaction” from those legions of humourless millennials, it will be from now on.

And men will be even less likely to approach women, for fear of being dragged out and exposed, which will lead to more women reaching their 30’s without finding a good man, and wondering where all the good men have gone.

A man came to my house to assemble some furniture this week and reminded me that “men have feelings too”. You can’t call a woman names any more, said the man – his belief in this was touching – but you can tell a guy to “man up” and it’s no big deal. Somewhere in there I thought he had a good point.

When all criticism becomes violence, all men can do is walk away. And yet, when they do, they will still be told to “man up”.

Update: A fan pointed out to me that something I mentioned, a video that showed Antifa protesters holding up a sign promoting pedophilia, was a hoax. Thanks for the correction, Jim Pattison.

About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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