I was skeptical when I started seeing this pop up. Another, “share if you think rape sucks” trope that does nothing but make the poster feel good about themselves while doing absolutely fucking nothing to actually help. T&Ps to the victims but no cash to the crisis centers, no speaking to representatives about changing laws, and no ongoing support to the people speaking out. But this time I think, god I hope, I am wrong. That this isn’t a trope and that something will start to shift in our society.
I see men starting to ask questions…intelligent, concerned questions about how they can help. What they can do. They, of course, are innocent but how can they enlighten their fellow man? The first thing they can do is ask themselves, “am I sure?”
You say you’re innocent, but are you? Dig deep and think, really think about it. Are you absolutely positive you aren’t a contributor? Have never been a contributor? Are you sure you’ve never whistled appreciatively as a woman walked past? That you didn’t sit back while your buddies made slut jokes about that girl with the big boobs in home room? Or that your hand didn’t snake back up your girlfriend’s sweater a second, third, fourth time (after she’d already pushed your hand away)?
Can you honestly say you have never circled back to the bar to try again (and again, and again) when she already said she didn’t want you to buy her a drink because ‘Hey! Girls are fickle and that’s just romantic! ‘? And when she still said no you that you’ve never muttered ‘bitch’ under your breath. That you haven’t sent an un-requested, undesired dick pic on Tinder or begged relentlessly for a nude from a woman who already said no way in hell. Have you ever questioned a woman’s story of rape or assault because, well she was drinking and really she is kind of a flirt so maybe it was just a misunderstanding… or maybe thought that false rape accusations happen all the time.
Are you really so innocent?
And don’t get me wrong, women are perfectly capable of contributing to rape culture too. Hell, I can absolutely count myself among the others declaring #metoo and I know for sure that I have contributed to rape culture. Not purposefully, but I am not innocent. I’ve slut shamed other women in my head. I’ve idly wondered if a victim shouldn’t have put herself in such a dangerous situation. I’ve even contributed to my own oppression by telling myself that I deserved it…the cat calls, the groping, because I’d been dressed inappropriately or drank to excess or should have known better than to act like such a flirt. I have victim blamed others, I have victim blamed the girl in the mirror and I am not guiltless.
So if you’re wondering what you can do right now, turn inward. Be honest. Be brutally, fucking honest and do better. If you’re reading this and feeling uncomfortable or defensive, look at why. Don’t lash out, look in and learn from your mistakes. Don’t put on another self defense class. Don’t call for more gun training, more conceal and carry…don’t put the onus on women. Teach your children consent. Teach your boys about enthusiastic participation. Teach children about slut shaming and victim blaming and speak up when you hear it. Stop teaching women how not to be raped or assaulted, teach men how not to rape or assault.
And keep talking about it. Don’t let this be another passing Facebook fad. Support. Listen. Believe. Learn. Grow. Do better.