Monday, June 15, 2015

How Many Rapists Do You Know?


     I originally wrote this 6 months ago, but due to many things I am sharing it again.  Earlier today I read Bomani Jones's "Death of Bill Cosby's Legacy".  It raised several valid points.  Among them the prevalence of rape and assault, and the prevalent apathy towards women.  Which got me thinking about how that apathy is not only when women are victims, but also in so many other more subtle ways.  I will be writing about that aspect soon, but till then, please read and pass on.  Thank you.


Let's start with the more common, perhaps easier to assess, of these 2 questions.

Rape victims.

How many rape victims do you know?

Off the top of my head I know of 4.  If I thought about it for more than 5 minutes, fairly certain I'd think of more.


One woman, whose first boyfriend raped her at 15.


Three women during their college years-

              1- One by 2 men unknown to her
              2-One, by several of a "train" while she was inebriated to the point of being passed out at times during the "train".
              3-One who was gang raped, in a major city.

All were over the last 35 years. 



     I recently read a book that articulated a fact spot on:  

There are cases of rape, where the the victim is thankful that their rape wasn't worse.  Where they are thankful to be alive.  Let's be clear though: ANYTHING LESS THAN CONSENT; IT IS RAPE.
     
     While no male friends have ever confided in me, I know it happens, and causes just as much damage as it does for women.  Click -> Upworthy, to see a powerful performance that led me to ask the first part of the title question:

How many rapists do you know?


     Some rapists will brag about their "conquests"; however some may not confide in their peers.  Perhaps more often though, many do not even acknowledge to themselves, or think of themselves as a rapist.


     We are raised to strive to be strong, to be powerful, and to be in control.  We admire strength, power, and control.  We stand in awe of  "THE BEST" and "THE WINNER".  We encourage our children to do their best, as well as teach them when they excel they will be rewarded.  Sometimes grandly.
A+ get hugs; C's get discussions.  

In the song "Badlands"  The Boss, Bruce Springsteen states:

           " You better get it straight darlin'; all men wanna be rich; rich men wanna be king; and the king ain't satisfied till he rules everything."

     The feeling of entitlement can smooth over a lot of evils.  There is a lot to be enamored by, through the idea of popularity and royalty.


While this may serve as one possible explanation, there will never be an excuse.


     Take the case of Bill Cosby.  I grew up watching Fat Albert; too many great memories to count.  I loved the Jello commercials with Mr. Cosby.  My neighbor had albums of Cosby's stand up routines, and I remember laughing till my sides hurt.  His bits about parenting still make me laugh.  Any time I say to my daughters, "I am so sick and tired of..." I think of Bill and his mom.


     So, it needs to be acknowledged: rapists come from the same place that every other human does.  They start as a child, and regardless of what profession, whether they choose the clergy, politics, entertainment, public service, or whatever; does not guarantee that they are not capable of fallacy. 

             I look back to 25 years ago and think about the attitude of the time.  How it was not uncommon to hear about some girl who'd been "gang banged", "trained", or "shared".  How often was that consensual?  Here's a thought: with consensual everyday sexual acts, you don't usually hear about those via the rumor mill.  Nor do they require one party to move, change classes or make any other major changes to their life.  

Do I believe the allegations against Mr. Cosby?  Yes I do.


     Do I think he thinks he did anything wrong?  I doubt it. Somehow, perhaps he felt entitled to let off steam, to have a little fun, and be that 11 year old boy that is on the quest for Spanish Fly.   

     When men romanticize the quest for Spanish Fly; is it too far of a leap from the Knights of the Roundtable and the Quest for The Grail?  Just for the record, I find Larry King pretty creepy as well, but that's for another post.  As a parent, I know that despite a parent's best efforts and intentions, children sometimes go awry.  Still, there are many cases where it doesn't take much to see, where the rage, the lack of regard for others, and the sense of entitlement came from.  The old, apple doesn't fall far from the tree metaphor.

     Right now there is a 10 year old girl in Paraguay, who was raped by her stepfather.  Perhaps due to having a 10 year old daughter, is why I've been interested in this case.  The reason that the case has reached international news, is that the 10 year old girl is pregnant.  The courts there are denying the girl access to an abortion.  10 years old.


     I wonder what a few US politicians think about this case;    WV's Brian Kurcaba, MO's Todd Akin, and IN's Richard Mourdock, specifically.  


Life is a beautiful thing.  


Babies having babies because of rape is not.  


     While a woman should be able to keep a child conceived through rape, in a lot of cases, a rape is so traumatic, that to force a woman to carry out a pregnancy, is cruel and inhumane.  And for a child's body?  Seems if ever a female body was to "shut a pregnancy down in the case of rape", ala Akin's quasi science; a child's body would fit that case.  Lastly, I see Paraguay's more than 600 annual 10-14 year old's pregnancies from rape no more part of "God's Plan" than Richard Mourdock's loss to Rob Donnelly. 

     Let's be realistic.  A 10 year old for a mother and a rapist for a father are unlikely to be role models for those "family values," that so many politicians like to spout about.

     Right now, I have 2 young daughters, the oldest hitting what some call the pre-teen years, and is learning about the birds and the bees.  A little while back, she shared a video that she and her sister found to be hilarious.  Sorry, but I can't share the name of it, I don't remember.  It's hardly unique.  What they found to be hilarious, I found offensive and lewd. There was no nudity, or sexual acts; but there was dancing with outrageous movements of body parts (breasts, penises, asses), that were digitally enhanced.  Sort of like watching your baby's movements while it's still in your tummy. 
     I was not amused.  It was late, I was tired, so I was stumped to give her reasons other than "because I said so", as to why I did not want her, nor her 7 year old sister watching this type of video.

Then I read this:


"The Most Heartbreaking Question My Daughter Ever Asked Me",


and it dawned on me.


     Twerking is everywhere today, and my girls think it's hilarious.  I do too.  I walk into a room at my daughters' request, to see them twerking to music that's playing in our house; super silly, cute, and funny.  Then again, I know about the world.     


Today, 1 in 4 girls, and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually assaulted before their 18th birthday.


Let that sink in.  So, in an average classroom of 30 students, equally divided by gender, that's 3-4 of the girls and 2-3 of the boys.  If that doesn't scare the hell out of you; don't know what will.


     Think back to when you were young.  Was there ever a time that there was maybe an "exploration game"?  Among "friends"?  Where perhaps, not everything was entirely consensual among those involved?  Perhaps you haven't thought of that for years, but now you realize: something wasn't right.  

      Now your kids are getting to that age.  

       We need to raise our children to honor their own bodies as well as others.  We need to strive to raise boys and girls to know that no means no, and yes means yes.  When you say it, and when you hear it.  But it goes far beyond the yes and no factor. Teaching kids about appropriate touching and telling them specifically, what kinds of touching are not appropriate.  Curiosity is fine and normal, but as parents, it's imperative that we anticipate our children's curiosity, and teach them that being curious does not make it okay to act on.  We need to talk to them about consent, and what consent means explicitly.  Consent means both parties understand what's going on and both want what's going on.  Coercion, pressure, and nagging do not equal consent.  A child cannot consent to acts of sexual nature any more than someone who is passed out.  We need to raise our kids to know, without doubt, that people are not scores, conquests, or notches on a bedpost.



Again, anything less than consent, equals rape.

     Anyone that coerces, nags, pressures or acts without consent to have sexual acts is a rapist.  Rape is a crime.  If you want some more clarification, read, The Word You Are Searching For is Rape, by Emily Bazelon.


So, how many rapists do you know?

     While it's widely agreed that rape is a crime, not about lust or sex, but rather about power and violence; MAKE NO MISTAKE:  IT IS RAPE IF IT IS NOT CONSENSUAL.  No matter how, smooth, lustful, curious, or even if the rapist thinks they're in love.


     Yesterday, I saw this article on AOL: "Study: Rape Prevention Works; Cuts Sexual Assault Risk", about a program that works with and teaches resistance training to college women.  

     Where is the program that educates men?  

     I think it's important to educate our kids in self defense and other aspects of keeping safe and being aware of the world around them, but it seems to me that in order to prevent rape a program needs to include college men, and to educate all on what rape is and different scenarios such as college parties and "trains".  

     How can we prevent rape, without addressing the male half of the population, when more than likely, they'll be the rapists?  

     Two activists that are educating and leading the way to ending gender violence, are:


Tony Porter 
and Jackson Katz.


Click on their names to be linked to their TED Talks.

     Rape is a terrible reality.  We need to talk about it.  It's time we quit zoning in and blaming the victims and time that we start looking at how someone becomes a rapist.  


     I know this post has been long.  I also know, at points it's rather inarticulate.  However, please do me one more favor, before going, 


CLICK AND READ THIS-> Call Them Out.

Because, of course, it matters.


A lot.