Like me, you’ve been watching the Jodi Arias trial with one single thought on your mind: What a terribly sad awful shame. That’s what you’ve been thinking. That poor, poor woman, (you’re thinking). If guilty of the crime she has thrown her life away. It’s tragic, you’re thinking, whilst shaking your head sorrowfully. How could anyone have anything but sympathy for her!
Oh, have I presumed too much? You don’t have sympathy? I guess there’s a difference between an alleged murderer and a convicted rapist then?
CNN thinks so because CNN loves rapists! It feels really sad when they misbehave and do something naughty like raping – but you know, boys will be boys! But then the nasty old judge has to treat it as if it’s like, you know, something serious, and the poor, poor rapists have their lives ruined!
Imagine that. Having your life ruined just because you did some raping. Not only are they going to prison but their names will also be on a sex offender register! Isn’t that terrible! How can handsome young men who play sports well possibly be on a sex register?
“My life is over” said one of the rapists. Doesn’t it make your heart break? The “victim”, whoever she is, probably felt that way too, but CNN didn’t waste time on her. If only she’d kept quiet about it, those two handsome athletic rapists could be running around a sports field right now!
The Steubenville rape trial. Sympathy for the rapists, death threats toward the victim. Blaming the victim, dismissive attitude of rape by those in authority. The boys’ ignorance in what constitutes rape and their pride in treating a girl as nothing more than a vagina.
Too much! Too much!
I wanted to write about Steubenville, but it’s just too big. And too sad.
I hope, I really do, that it’ll be a famous case in the future, 100 years from now. People will look at it the way we look at witch trials, I hope. Why didn’t people understand what rape was? People will say. Why did they hate women so much? People back then were really really dumb!
But it’ll only happen if people make it so. When teachers at a school dismiss rape as less important than the performance of a football team, we have fucked up. When a 16 year old girl is blamed for being raped instead of the 2 boys who, you know, did the raping, something is very wrong. And when a national network news channel spends five minutes over how sad it is to see convicted rapists being sentenced, we all should be afraid.
Rape is a choice of the rapist.
“Being responsible has nothing to do with being raped. Women don’t get raped because they were drinking or took drugs. Women do not get raped because they weren’t careful enough. Women get raped because someone raped them.”
~ Jessica Valenti ~
(TRIGGER warning: discussion of sex and rape).
When I was about 13 years old I read a story in a newspaper about a trial. A woman claimed she had been raped by her husband, and I – appallingly – furrowed my brow. How, I thought to myself, can a woman be raped by her husband?
It amazes me now that I thought that way. I don’t believe I hated women and I didn’t fully understand sex, but on some level I had developed an idea of women as secondary to men.
And I don’t think I got this from my parents. I picked it up from everywhere.
At 13 I didn’t know what rape was. And no-one ever told me, I had to work it out for myself. At the end of my teens I was still under the impression that rape was something done by monsters hiding in bushes. I probably thought it was something women didn’t need to worry about, as long as they took precautions. Their problem, not mine.
No-one ever taught me about sex either. I went to a Catholic school. Sex education took up one term of one year, a period of 3 months when I was 14. The syllabus included the dangers of drugs, alcohol, smoking and – bizarrely – road safety. The only thing I recall was watching a video of some naked babies running around. Some of them had penis’es and some of them had vaginas. The difference in sexual organs was based entirely on their gender.
Sex education came from my classmates, fervent, breathless chats with other boys about what they’d like to do to such-and-such girl.
Do to, not with.
I remember crowding around a porn magazine that someone had brought to the playground, aged perhaps 13. A woman, in ridiculously uncomfortable pose, peeling open her vagina. I remember feeling queasy, repulsed.
And young boys today have all of the internet, full of characterless women, playing the part of objects, existing solely for the pleasure of men. Ready to be used and degraded. Women, of course, are always degraded by sex.
I read a blog about the novel “Crimson Petal and the White”. A brilliant novel, whose central character is a Victorian era prostitute. A man left a comment, “I wonder if it would be so interesting from a male perspective”.
Because reading about a female lead character, understanding a woman’s motivations, feelings, thoughts, could that possibly be of interest to a man?
Women are inferior. Sex is something you do to them. Whatever they think doesn’t matter.
These are not ideas I’ve actively sought, but ideas I have actively had to reject. The world around me has done it’s absolute best to try to make me a misogynist.
And I don’t intend this as any sort of defense, but how is a boy meant to learn what a woman is or what it’s like to be a woman, or that it is even worth trying to find out?
Everyday Sexism is an important website. Every post should be put into a hat, and shaken, and 500 should be pulled out at random. Next, the 500 would all be put together at a big publishing house and made into a big book with a shiny cover. The book would be sent out to every school in the Country, to be read by every girl and boy.
If it happened, they would read things like this:
“I know an awful lot of my female friends have been raped, or nearly raped, and I know that an awful lot of my male friends find that terribly hard to believe.”
“I’m 16 and have been receiving sexist comments …since I was 13. Boys (in school) shout “rape!” if they see a girl in the corridor, loudly rate girls out of 10 while we walk past, look at Page 3 and compare girls to it…happens literally every day…”
“My little sister (15) asserted that if somebody claimed they had been raped they were “probably doing it for attention”, that if a girl wants to avoid being raped she shouldn’t go out in ‘slaggy’ clothes. I don’t know where she got this mentality from but that a 15-year-old girl is so ill-informed of the facts is a massive failure of our society.”
And some people would say: This is unsuitable for children. And I would say: Yes! Yes, it is. So lets make this the last generation that has to experience it.
I’ve read heartbreaking posts about women’s experience of rape and sexual assault. No-one ever talks about these things, except to warn women to moderate their behaviour to avoid it because it’s your problem, not ours.
I read these words from a woman who had been raped:
“During the ensuing 15 years, I sometimes referred to the event in my head as “semi-consensual sex.” It wasn’t rape because I hadn’t screamed, I believed. It wasn’t rape because I hadn’t told anyone, ever.”
By being so afraid to talk about sex and to talk about rape and to talk about what rape is, we have allowed, as a society, rape to happen. Rape is not a woman’s problem. We have a duty to educate both sexes about what rape is, and a duty – to women, to children, to everyone – to tell boys this:
“This is rape. Do not rape”.
Thank you to the following blogs for educating me:
(Trigger warnings for all).
“Shame is the lie someone told you about yourself.”
Not so long ago I got into a debate on a wrestling forum – no, don’t go, honestly – and it all centered around a rape joke.
It was live TV on a show watched primarily by young men and children. Two men were in a ring, wrestling. A man playing the part of manager was on commentary, promoting the young man under his charge. So far, so wrestling.
Then the manager said:
“Titus is as unstoppable as Kobe Bryant in a Colorado hotel room”
He sought to promote his man by comparing him favourably with a rapist. He likened physically dominant traits – power, machismo, strength – with a rapist. He made a joke about rape on live TV.
I left a comment on a blog questioning whether he ought to lose his job. I made a cup of tea, bumbled about in my usual way and came back to check on any responses.
There were some responses.
There were 33.
And none of them even remotely agreed with me.
So I asked everyone, politely, this question:
If Kobe Bryant had raped a 7 year old girl, and the manager had made the same comment, would it still be funny?
The overwhelming response was:
That would be sick, too far, you shouldn’t make jokes about kids like that. I’m obviously inclined to agree. But why, exactly, is it fine to laugh about a woman being raped?
So I asked why.
There were some responses. There were 3.
Apparently, I didn’t have a sense of humour.
Also, a 7 year old would be blameless because she wouldn’t know how to ‘dress slutty’. And one more person who got a bit befuddled and attacked me for trying to make a sick joke.
Making jokes about rape to impressionable minds makes it seem like rape isn’t such a big deal. And when the onus is on women to avoid rape rather than on men not to rape, blame and excuses can be heaped upon the victims.
I think the best response to a rape joke is this:
I don’t get it.
Persist until they explain, explanations always being the death of any joke, funny or otherwise. Persist until they reach the point where they have to say “she got/gets raped”.
And nod, slowly, looking a little confused.
“Beauty provokes harassment, the law says, but it looks through men’s eyes when deciding what provokes it.”
Amanda Todd got what she deserved, didn’t she? I’m sure we’d all feel sympathy for an innocent victim, but Amanda Todd couldn’t possibly have been innocent. Obviously she couldn’t. She was a girl for one thing.
What’s even worse: She was a girl who didn’t act the way a girl should act. Disgusting behavior, and just like these people, I’m sure you, dear reader, would never find yourself in the same situation. (MAJOR trigger warning).
Amanda appeared naked on a webcam, with a man. How could she possibly believe this was acceptable behavior? Obviously music videos depict women-as-sexual-objects as the norm. And advertising. And magazines. And films aimed at children. And the cosmetics industry. And the fashion world.
And yes, girls are made to feel that their worth as a human being lays in their appearance. But only by everything on TV and in the movies and in songs and on the internet and in the advertising that’s inescapable and in the views of huge numbers of people around the world. Only in those things.
So why did Amanda Todd act like a whore? Well, she was 13, and curious. (Yeah, she was one of “those” kind of girls). She visited webcam chat sites online. She met a man, an adult, and he told her that she was beautiful, perfect.
That’s an adult man talking to a 13 year old child, telling her she was beautiful. This, according to Amanda, made her feel good about herself. So when the adult man told her to show him her boobs, she made a bad decision.
A child, under pressure from an adult man, made a bad decision. Despicable, wasn’t she? She showed him her boobs.
I guess she wanted to feel good about herself. I guess she wanted to please the man, because that’s why women are here, right?
Well, not wrong. Obviously women are here to please men through their bodies, and we men have a right to look and touch. But women shouldn’t actually do those things because that makes you a whore. So don’t actually do it. Although, we will pressure you to do it, and we want you to do it, and we’ll be really nice to you before you do it. So do it, but don’t.
Simple. What about all of that is so hard for a 13 year old child to understand?
So Amanda did it and then the adult man blackmailed her. Put on a show for me or I’ll send your naked picture to everyone you know. And she didn’t, and he did.
There may be a crazy dimension somewhere where people felt pity for the blackmailed child pressured into posing nude, and anger and disgust at the manipulative, selfish adult man. But hurrah! We don’t live there!
Amanda Todd, at 13, had officially become a slut.
She moved schools. He re-posted the pictures on Facebook. She suffered anxiety attacks and depression. He set up a facebook page. She “did things to myself to make pain go away, because I’d rather hurt myself then someone else”. The students at her school called her a whore, relentlessly.
Then a boy was nice to her. He had a girlfriend but he said he really liked her. And she, lonely and 15, believed him. Because she wanted to believe that somebody liked her.
A lonely child wanted to believe that somebody liked her.
And his girlfriend found out. And she didn’t blame him.
The girlfriend didn’t blame her boyfriend because that’s what guys do! We’re just being guys! Amanda was the slut because Amanda was a girl. That’s, like, basic science!
She heard a boy shout “just punch her already” and Amanda was knocked down.
So, Amanda drank bleach. She was fifteen, and she drank some bleach. A 15 year old child voluntarily ingested bleach. Amanda Todd drank bleach.
And lots of girls and boys posted on her Facebook how they hoped she’d died. And how she deserved it.
Kids say the funniest things!
But also, children learn so quickly. Here were all these boys and girls and already they’d learned to police and judge the actions of a female. Already these spirited youngsters had created a narrow and confused set of rules for girls to live by. Isn’t it incredible.
Amanda didn’t die from the bleach. She killed herself a month later. I guess the loneliness, and the hatred and the vicious words all became too much for her.
And after she died she got some more hatred and vicious words. It was her own fault. Where were her parents? I certainly wouldn’t have done that! Where was her self-respect?
So Ladies and Gentlemen. We have now reached the point when adult men can prey on children online and collectively we choose to slut shame the children. Congratulations everyone. What a wonderful world.
Amanda Todd did not deserve any of the things she suffered. You and I, dear reader, may disagree on many things and that’s fine. But if you can watch her Youtube video and feel not a shred of sympathy, feel no sadness, feel no anger at the putrid, spineless, vindictive little shit of a man who began all of this, you surprise me.
If you can watch it all and blame her, then I’m sorry that I share a world with you.
Amanda Todd. RIP.
“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”
There’s a certain kind of guy ever so common in Asia. They’re usually in their forties or fifties – physically in bodies of that age, mentally still trapped in the decades.
They waddle toad like down streets in their socks and sandals, bellies stretching taut the cotton of their cheap plain t-shirts.
Sometimes their shuffling stops at the approach of a pretty Asian girl. They size them up with a smile they probably imagine to be Jack Nicolson-esque. They may try to block her path with a sidestep, grinning lasciviously.
And they hate Western women. Loathe, blame and despise them.
I read a lot about misogyny and feminism. It might be common for men to concern themselves with these topics, I’ve no idea, but it should be. There have recently been some fantastically well written things, insightful, nuanced thoughts and, on the other side, petulant childlike fear masquerading as noble anger.
They have made me think about my responses to the misogyny I’ve heard directly. Not every older Western man in Asia is a wrinkly Vampire, but a sizeable percentage are, with views as deeply unpleasant and vile as any I’ve ever encountered.
What is the best response to this bewilderingly bitter idiocy?
My first experience was at a bar. My friend L and I were happily in the middle of a late night drinkathon, getting ourselves better acquainted with Johnny Walker. A small Australian – in every sense of the word – whispered in my ear.
Essentially he asked why I was bothering with a Western woman when so many Vietnamese girls were ‘way less work’.
We fell into conversation, and it didn’t come as a huge shock to find him no Oscar Wilde in the wit department. He refused to believe that L and I were friends. The notion of talking to a woman without the wish to have sex with her apparently alien to him.
He waxed lyrical on the appeal of Vietnamese girls – half his age and they don’t talk back. He’d prefer not to pay, but he didn’t mind doing so.
Then he moaned and complained and went on and on about Western women. Apparently they moan and complain and go on and on, which isn’t something men do.
He slapped my shoulder manfully and stared at me almost fatherly, while I struggled not to empty my stomach all over him. (Nothing to do with the drink, I swear). He looked into my eye and told me we were the same.
I looked back and told him that we really weren’t. From there, the conversation went downhill.
No, I don’t think women in the West are in a position of power I told his incredulous looking puffy fat face. At first, he put it down to my youth, condescendingly telling me that I’d learn. Pretty soon his plastic-spoon-sharp wit had deduced that I could only be a homosexual to have such ‘prissy’ views.
It might be nice to live in such a black and white world, where everything is so simple.
The first of a number of similar encounters. As a man, the worst of it is their notion that we are just the same. They like to whisper conspiratorially to you, like Eric Idle’s Mr Nudge, apparently safe in the knowledge that I’ll agree with their rancid opinions purely because we have the same genitals.
A 51 year old recently told me of the trouble he was having with a Vietnamese woman he was dating:
“I said to her, you’re 28. No-one is going to want you after you’re 30. If I wanted, I could date a 21, 22 year old. I’m being really nice sticking with you.”
Roses are red,
violets are blue,
do everything I tell you or
I’ll blackmail you.
I tried to explain how his words sounded, but he just didn’t seem able to grasp it.
I suppose trying to correct him is all that you can really do because, even if it is seemingly a waste of time, it’s better than saying nothing at all. I’ll happily take suggestions however, if anyone has any other suggestions.
A mother takes twenty years to make a man of her boy, and another woman makes a fool of him in twenty minutes.
~ Robert Frost ~