Or, how I started to see the light on rape culture
I have a knee-jerk defensive response to the term rape culture. It feels accusatory. It feels like the intent is to say that “all men are rapists”. I think I’ve had it all wrong.
Even living under my news rock it was hard to miss the controversy about Girls Around Me:
“It’s not, really, that we’re all horrified by what this app does, is it? […] It’s that we’re all horrified by how exposed these girls are, and how exposed services like Facebook and Foursquare let them be without their knowledge.” – Cult of Mac
Actually, that’s not what horrifies me. Some people are misogynistic creeps, and some of those creeps are app developers who will use data in unintended ways. That doesn’t make me happy, but it doesn’t particularly worry me. What horrifies me is that the focus on “women being exposed” perpetuates the predator/victim dynamic between men and women. It is victim blaming (don’t want to be hunted by sexual predators? Better not share your location!) and it takes as given that men are inherently dangerous.
Instead of the privacy of women’s location data, we should be talking about why that data being shared is “dangerous”. In our attempt to “protect” women I think we are unintentionally normalising and spreading the myth (please God, let it be a myth) that men are sex-obsessed beasts ruled by their cocks, who don’t much care who they fuck. That we are obsessed with impressing and obtaining women while simultaneously hating them. And of course that women and helpless victims who need saving (except when they’re treacherously plotting to steal our manhood).
I’m a guy trying to raise 3 boys into decent, humane men. I want them to grow up being conscious of how they treat other people, especially sexually, but without carrying the baggage of being “potential rapists”. I don’t want them to think of women as “potential victims” in any sense.
We teach boys that they are dangerous. We joke about men being ruled by their dicks. We normalise and excuse attitudes that are eerily similar to those held by rapists. We unquestionably accept that Girls Around Me will be used by leacherous men to hunt women.
This is rape culture. While I still despise the term, I don’t think I can dismiss the concept any more. And honestly, that makes me pretty sad.
Of course, all of this is from the perspective of a 30-something white guy. For a different (but I think complementary) perspective, check out Rosie Ryan’s post.