It seems that whatever we do is somehow beyond reproach – murder, rape, drunk driving – as long as we go on a TV show and apologize.— Eric Stoltz
I’m relatively certain that every woman I’ve met in the past 30 years, with maybe one or two exceptions, has been the victim of sexual violence at some point in her life. Don’t think for a second that such a statistic comes because I hang out with “that kind” of women, whatever “that kind” may be in your mind. Quite to the contrary. Women from every walk of life, religious or not, cautious or not, across every socio-economic status, across every level of education, are victims of sexual violence.
You work with them, these women who are victims. They hand you your morning coffee. They check you out at the grocery. They handle your tech support calls, your banking problems, your investments and insurance, your pious donations, and even the porn subscription you claim isn’t really yours. They sit as members of Congress, the chief executives of major corporations, and maybe even your own boss.
These women have been made victims at the hands of fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, cousins, boyfriends, husbands, customers, co-workers, classmates, bosses, church workers, pastors and priests and many others who all, for some stupidly insane reason, thought they had the “right” to violate someone in the most intimate of ways possible. We have perpetuated a culture where some find it acceptable to use drugs or alcohol to coerce a young woman into sex. We have created a deplorable society wherein it is the victim, not the perpetrator, who is shamed and blamed. And being the male-dominated society we still are, we pass laws so that our sins can go without punishment.
I have been sickened over the past several years as elected officials and those running for office, those who are chosen to represent all the people, have attempted to justify rape in order to avoid funding healthcare for women. Just a few of their statements (verified by Snopes) include:
“Rape is kinda like the weather. If it’s inevitable, relax and enjoy it.” Clayton Williams (R-TX) 24 March 1990
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that thing down.” Todd Akin (R-MO) 19 August 2012
“Rape victims should make the best of a bad situation.” Rick Santorum (R-PA) former US Senator and, until yesterday, presidential candidate. 20 January 2012
“Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” Richard Mourdock (R-IN) 23 October 2012
“If a woman has (the right to an abortion), why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman? At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t (in most cases) result in anyone’s death.” Lawrence Lockman (D-ME) February 2014
There also seems to be a problem among professional athletes, many of whom accept plea deals for lesser charges rather than face up to the consequences of what they’ve done. Among those convicted for sexual assault are:
Kevin Allen, Philadelphia Eagles, released after 33 months
Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson, Dallas Cowboys, released after 28 months
Darren Sharper, retired NFL, lifetime probation
Nate Webster, retired NFL, 12 years
Milton Bradley, Major League Baseball, 2 years and 230 days imprisonment, plus 400 hours of community service
Chad Curtis, Major League Baseball, 7-15 years
Mel Hall, Major League Baseball, 45 years, charges involved children
Tom Payne, Atlanta Hawks (NBA), multiple counts, 15 years to life
Ruben Patterson, Seattle Supersonics, served 15 days.
Mike Tyson, boxing, served three years
Bob Hewitt, tennis, served six years of an eight-year sentence.
If that list feels short and dated, it is. Many athletes now avoid conviction by agreeing to enter some form of treatment, which further diminishes the severity of their crime. The problem is severe, but those in charge (all men) don’t want to taint the image of their sport by letting the public see just how many players are guilty of sexual assault and other violent crimes.
Most recently, and what currently has me beyond furious, is this bullshit concept of neomasculinity, as though, somehow, masculinity needs to be redefined in terms that reward aggression and domination with concepts that are misogynistic and pro-rape. These jackasses even claim to have rape clubs, though I cannot find any direct evidence of any being caught by law enforcement. The movement is headed by one particularly creepy douchebag who goes by the name RooshV. I’m sorry to say he’s an American citizen, from Maryland, who has this warped idea that rape should actually be legal so long as it occurs on private property. He’s written multiple books on “seduction,” and, until yesterday, was organizing a global meet-up of like-minded douchebags around the world this Saturday. Fortunately, as word of this massive circle jerk spread and protests began to form to disrupt the meetings, they have been cancelled, though he encourages “private” gatherings.
There is absolutely, positively, without any possible exception, no terms or conditions under which rape is justified and it certainly is not masculine. Real men respect women. Real men support women rather than take advantage of them. Real men don’t threaten or cajole. Real men don’t use positions of authority to convince women to have sex with them. Real men don’t call women “bitch,” “whore,” or “slut.” Real men understand that women have the right to maintain control of their bodies at all times.
We fully and unapologetically condemn the entire neomasculinity movement and the rape culture it perpetuates. We condemn RooshV and anyone who agrees with his dangerous and quite likely criminal methods and intentions. The time has come for real men to join women in their stance against reduced sentences and plea agreements that diminish the severity of sexual assault against women.
Rape is not masculine; never has been, never will be. Rape is a crime not just against women but against all humanity. Stop making excuses.