The past two weeks have been great. I’ve had conversations with men that lead me to think they are evolved, no one’s whistled or hollered at me, and I’ve even gotten compliments on the work I do here and on my personal blog. I almost was beginning to feel like something had changed in the world to make it better. And then this week happened.
This week reminded us that men can be creepy: thank you Penn State and Herman Cain. If, for a moment, you thought that men in power can for once not turn it into something having to do with sex in the superior position, think again. Kevin Powell, who gives me so much faith that we can be better, wrote this week:
What Herman Cain and the disgraced male leaders of Penn State have in common is the issue of power and privilege we men not only wield like our birthright, but which has come to be so inextricably linked to our identities. So much so, in fact, that many of us, regardless of race, class, religion and, in some cases, even sexual orientation or physical abilities, don’t even realize what a disaster manhood is when it is unapologetically invested in power, privilege, patriarchy, sexism, and a reckless disregard for the safety and sanity of others, especially women and children.
Powell hits the secret of feminism (or whatever -ism you find empowering) that is difficult to understand: it’s not just about women. It’s about men and women, the LGBT community, different cultures, different physical abilities, and whatever intersectionality you need to go here, figuring out ways out of this screwed-up system that allows young men to be abused and women to fear for their jobs and safety every single day.
Rape Isn’t Funny
Facebook did something right for once this week and took down several pages that promote rape and violence against women. Hurray! And then I read this lovely little analysis from Mashable that ends with:
Do you think Facebook should step in and remove pages promoting violence? Where should the line be drawn between jokes – no matter how unfunny – and serious incitement of hate crime? Let us know your opinions in the comments.
I don’t recommend you read the comments, unless you are the type of person who thrives on a daily rage stroke. This is why we need rage, feminist or otherwise: rape jokes incite violence, dear Mashable writer. They incite violence because they promote a culture that says it’s okay to not respect the boundaries of personhood that women deserve. Rape jokes are very much like the other pages that directly promote violence because a culture of rape is a culture in which everyday women have to worry for their safety. Everyday walks get cancelled, trips get re-thought, outfits get rearranged because anything and everything puts you at risk in a rape culture. Sady Doyle puts it well when talking about threats and blogigng:
Sometimes, there isn’t actually that much difference between someone saying “I want to rape you with a chainsaw” and someone saying “I hope you get raped with a chainsaw.” If the first comment contains information that leads you to believe the person can find you, you report it. But often, it doesn’t. It’s just someone sending you some words, in the hopes that the next time you sit down to write, you’ll remember that yikesy chainsaw-rape thing and think, “you know? Maybe this isn’t such a great idea. Maybe I don’t need to say this. Maybe I’ll piss someone off, and maybe it will be more than I can handle, and you know, maybe my thoughts on this topic just ARE NOT IMPORTANT ENOUGH for me to risk the headache/fear/irritation/distress/panic attack I know I will get.”
Because that’s exactly what a rape joke is. It’s not a direct threat but they are words that make you double-think every step you take in case there was meat behind those words. And in a rape culture, there is always meat behind the words.
My Rage Has a Name, I Think
I call myself a feminist and I stick by that, but I understand why others don’t. Perhaps we can just start calling ourselves People Who Have Rage Strokes More Often Than is Healthy Because This System is Fucked Up. Because all of this, ALL of this, reminds me why the “-isms” are important. Why we need labels to rally around for the strength to stand up to the rape-jokers and the creepy old men of this world.