A word on rape in today’s culture.


Today, I want to talk about something serious. Something that has broken my heart and inflamed my anger many times throughout the years. We’ve heard the outcry about rape culture, and how we need to wake up and take a stand against the passive, permissive approach we take to avoid pinning that four letter word to unsolicited advances.

As a woman, I want to make a simple, public statement:

If a person, male or female, declines or says no in any way, shape, or fashion to your advances, and you persist… it doesn’t matter if they “give in” or later concede. You’re raping them.

Period.

I was reading a few articles today that talked about rape culture, and the notion that a woman’s actions can be the blame for the result. While I agree certain situations can be avoided, there is never a point where a “no” fairly turns to “yes”.

A problem I see in society today is that women often blame themselves for situations that should have never transpired.

“I had been drinking. I wasn’t thinking straight. I should have never gone to his room.”

Maybe not, but you pushed him away. It should have ended there.

“After the first date, he tried to invite himself in. It made me uncomfortable, but he seemed really interested in me and he seemed like he cared. When he asked me to dinner the next week I went, and then we watched a movie at his house. Well, things happened… I didn’t want them too, but he was insistent. It’s my fault for letting him get away with it. I don’t know why I gave in, but I did.”

Let’s be honest here: the first time someone declines your advances is the final answer. Anything that comes afterward is a direct violation.

I’m not a psychologist or a sociologist. Not by any stretch of the imagination. However, I fear our culture nurtures a level of submissiveness in women that causes them to fall victim to situations they never wanted to be a part of. The role of the submissive wife is a traditional one dating back centuries. It’s not a new concept or idea. It’s only within the last few decades that women in America have carved their rights to forge self-reliance and independence.

I see the submissive influence in my life. When I worked as a manager of a retail  store, it would show itself in peculiar ways. Especially when I was giving my staff directions. Despite owning a leadership role, I found I would ask instead of instruct:

“So-and-so, will you tend to this customer, please?”

“Hey, can you set up that standee for me? Thanks.”

Jokingly, my staff would sometimes tell me “no” which I would quickly respond with, “Let me rephrase myself: Have this task done when I get back in thirty minutes.”

However, I would always pause and wonder why I always asked them to do things, as if permission had to be granted. The answer originated with my mentality. I was raised to be polite; to ask instead of demand; to listen without interjecting; to be polite and to make other people proud. They are positive attributes most of the time, but the belief that the man was in charge has not eluded me.

I believed it.

Even in my personal relationships, I place a lot of faith in my male counterparts. I realize my boyfriend (Charming) is someone I look up to. Despite being a 26-year-old woman, I often catch myself looking at him as someone stronger, smarter, and wiser. Not to say he isn’t strong or smart or wise, but when I stop to think about it, I can’t help but wonder what makes him better?

Nothing. We should be equals.

Often times I fear women are too quick to please a man. While I’m lucky to have a better half who has the utmost respect for me and my dreams and desires, I think there’s something our culture needs to grasp:

No woman should feel the need to submit to a man’s desires over their own.

In the wake of this discussion with rape culture, I felt the need to start a conversation. Men, women, what is your viewpoint on this subject? Do you see submissiveness and the neglect of acknowledging “the first no” being an issue within your culture today? If so, what steps are you taking to change it?

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “A word on rape in today’s culture.

  1. Rape, that occurs strictly between a man and a woman if often symbolic of power, control and other insecurities. Rape is also legal term and has specific elements, criminal intent and hostile acts that need be fulfilled before society recognizes an act as rape; and by society I mean grand jury. The key determining factor is consent, which, after given; can be taken away at any time. There are lesser offenses which may preclude the actual rape (vaginal penetration) such as abusive sexual contact or sexual assault (pretty much everything else but rape). No one ever consents to be a victim (because consent would make it a paradox), the said could be same for the far sighted individual who walks into glass doors. What we think and what we know are two different things. Maybe subtle hints are slightly less taken by an individual who doesn’t understand how to communicate properly; “Well, things happened… I didn’t want them too, but he was insistent. It’s my fault for letting him get away with it. I don’t know why I gave in, but I did.” What we do know is that this female in particular didn’t want this to happen, so why did it? Do we know if this females actions or words align? The amount of liability when there are two people involved who are both adults, not handicapped, or under the influence of a substance; without fear of bodily injury or rendered unconcious…is displaced equally. Basically, if any person meets the above criteria, consent cannot be given which is affectuates the true “first no”. “Sort of but go ahead anyways” does not mean no.

    Submission, unless under the aforementioned conditions, means yes. It is a right reserved to people to manage their interpersonal affairs, however immoral others may perceive them as. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the act of two people engaging in an intimate relationship requires submission from both parties. They must yield, submit, or give away to those things that would otherwise harbor them from each other.

    Before I get taken for a shallow kiddie pool, I will say that as men we have a duty to be gentlemen. We should look out for daughters, wives, mothers, etc. as if they were each our own. While some may view this as “patronizing”, giving into the notion that women are powerless victims, or that “masculine” culture; the perception and intent couldn’t be farther apart. I have dated rape victims, I have had to be a first responder to rape victims, and I have assisted in investigating some pretty heinous sexual assault and rape cases. In most circumstances, where the rape occured; these were men in positions of trust related to the victim (husband, close friend, coworker, employer, religious leader). This is where coercion often takes place and extreme damage is done to the female with a lasting impact.

    Regret does not consitute rape in any form or fashion. A person struggling to identify what his or her convictions are is not the same as someone who is unconcious, or can barely walk because she is so drunk. Between two adults (without all of the crazy stipulations I’ve mentioned), no means no; but those people who choose to express this belief that they will not submit to the seduction or yield to another’s advances must be convinced in their own minds that they will not let it happen. They were born free, that is their privilege.

    • Let me say first that I agree with pretty much everything you’ve stated. There’s a huge difference between regret and rape.

      However, let me give a little more insight into the conversations I had with these two women, and see what you think. Each scenario, a distinct and insistent “no” was given, more than once, before the act took place. There was no mistaking the definition of the word, for no does not have a context in which it means yes.

      In the first instance, the girl “closed her eyes and took it” because she felt she had led the individual on and that it was her fault. To be as discreet as possible, they had “gone too far” for her decline to be heard or to matter.

      Yet the act still bothers her two years later and affects her ability to be trusting and intimate with the person she is now with.

      The second scenario left the woman depressed for several months and unwilling to enter the dating pool for fear of entering the same situation again.

      When I asked them why they didn’t physically fight back, I received two different, baffling answers (quoted as accurately as I can recall):

      “I don’t know. I just didn’t know what to do.”

      and

      “I felt responsible for the scenario and thought I didn’t have any right to physically harm [the individual].”

      Their situations may not be rape by the law’s standard, but both were clearly unwilling to participate which leads me to believe that law or no law, it was done without consent and with consequences that echo into the lives of both females for months, and in one case years, after it transpired.

      The sympathy toward these men amazes me, especially when the experience clearly effected both of them. Yet despite not having been in their shoes, I can understand how or why they thought that way. It makes me sick to my stomach, but raises flags in the mentality of our women today. One that is submissive in a harmful way.

      • Ah, well, when you are constantly revictimizing yourself it can be no one’s fault but your own. For the sake of these individuals, I would say that in their cases the emotions run much more complex and deeper than that. Someone who has been sexually abused has been robbed of many more things than just a chance at a healthy relationship unfortunately. Human sexuality plays such a complex role in society and within the individual. It spans all realms of perception and culture. To see one naked is to see the truth? Sex is a powerful thing. In the long term, it is pain. Those complex feelings will always be there and if nothing is done to transcend them they will control that person’s destiny.

        In a specialized school I took, they taught us about the complex mechanical response in the brain that triggers reactions to events. The fight or flight mechanism is something that I believe is strongly at play here. The less you are used to using it, the more likely you are to choose flight; especially females who have a tendency to be passive.

        Look at our society as a whole; the amount of political correctness and lack of accountability for actions that are clearly in violation and encroaching on another person’s individual liberty is ridiculous. Every little detail from the anti bullying campaigns to nepotism; to allowing ISIS to march its perverted beliefs across the middle east. What is society doing about it? Some people are taking action, but it seems that most would rather be in denial. Even a smaller margin of those people “taking action” are doing the right thing for the wrong reasons (personal gain).

        What would be more beautiful to see out of these two women is for them to champion their pain and turn it into something beautiful. That is when they are no longer victims. Maybe this kind of introspective scrutinization and reflection is what they need to help process that they aren’t helpless and they didn’t deserve what happened to them. I think you nailed it on the head, though I wouldn’t limit it to the mentality of women in today’s society.

      • “What would be more beautiful to see out of these two women is for them to champion their pain and turn it into something beautiful. That is when they are no longer victims.”

        I agree wholeheartedly with this, and I think ultimately that’s what they’re trying to do. It’s a tough challenge sometimes, finding a way to get through that pain and let it make us into something better. While yes, certain cases are far more extreme than others, I believe pain is pain, and until we face it, we will not find our balance.

        Championing their pain and growing from it is their challenge.

        However, a challenge too sits in the hands of today’s men, too. Too many times, I’ve heard stories that started with the “I knew she wanted it” mentality. That must change. In today’s “hookup culture”, we need to rediscover the boundaries that define respect toward not just women, but men, too, as well as how we define our relationships with one another.

  2. Well, Miss Elli, I agree with you on the rape issue and ‘no.’ Personally, I think our modern society makes it okay for women to have sex as casually as men, so they think it’s what they’re “supposed” to do. I think that most women like to have a deeper connection before going there, but what do I know? I’m old enough to be your mom, so my values are considered un-evolved. I can’t speak for those women you gave as examples. All I know is, I wouldn’t have wanted to be in their shoes. It sounds bully-ish and scary to me.

    As far as you thinking your bf is better than you, or that men are in charge, maybe that’s not really what you’re doing. Let me explain. I’m married a long time now, but there are still things that I think my husband is better at than me. On the flip side, there are things I think I’m better at that him. It IS what makes us equal. We take up the slack for each other in areas where each of us lack something. And, it’s okay.

    My “old lady” philosophy may not be what you’re looking for, but as far as men being stronger, well, nature usually makes it that way. Men are naturally born physically stronger. It’s not a written-in-stone rule, but for the most part …

    As a woman who embraces the femininity I was born with, masculine strong men are attractive to me. Are men wiser? Sometimes, but I’d say on a whole … No. Women are usually the ones who can help ground a man in decision making. Women stop to think things through. That doesn’t always mean they are smarter either. They’re thinking might be skewed. It depends on the person. A smart man is also attractive, but that doesn’t always mean they are wise.

    Women and men are not equal because they are the same. We are quite different, but that’s because we need both the masculine and the feminine to balance off our world.

    Thanks for getting us thinking on this subject, and for getting a conversation going. I hope those women you mentioned can find some peace.

    • I think there are some values that don’t need to evolve (or maybe I just don’t want them to), because I agree with you. When I had these conversations, I tried to put myself in their shoes and it terrified me, too. It was hard because I wanted so badly to have an answer for them, but I didn’t. The truth is I have no idea what I would do in their situations, and I pray I never find myself having to find out.

      You make an excellent point, too, about how men and women are not equal because they are the same, but because in their differences they balance one another. Now that you mention it, I see how true it is.

      I know that from my perspective men are still protectors, and the head of their household, and to be I’m honest, I prefer it that way in my life. I don’t relinquish my independence by admitting that because a head alone does not work on its own. It needs hands, feet, a voice… everyone has a role, and I have my own. Thank you for helping me see that. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s