Gentle Reader: this post has a lot of links in it, and I suggest you click them all if you want to appreciate the scope of this issue in greater and more informed detail.
It has now been almost 5 months since I woke up one morning with a little extra righteous rage in my heart, and decided to ask men to take a stand against rape and rape culture.
It's big work, fighting rape and rape culture. It's dirty work that no one wants to take on, because it is not fun or pretty or sexy.at.all. No room for that in this conversation, really. It's a very serious conversation. When you start bringing up rape, people turn away uncomfortably. The topic changes quickly. No one wants to be identified in the conversation, either with victim or rapist. It's one of the most painful binaries out there. And talking about stopping rape definitely doesn't win you "macho" points if you move in the circles where macho counts. After all, we live in a country where one of the greatest comedic devices in modern entertainment is the "No means yes" trope. We live in a world where Irani soldiers are required to rape women before they are executed, and as part of general business. We live in a world where American soldiers are STILL getting away with gang raping women as part of their general army presence in Afghanistan and Japan. And let's not forget all the women in the military who are raped by their fellow soldiers, as well.
Whenever you take a stand against rape, especially online, there is almost invariably going to be someone (usually a dude) who acts like you just took a shit in his cereal, mocks you, or demeans you in some way. Check this thread out on the popular site Art of Manliness. One man brings up a useful question:
Here is a sampling of the answers:
Followed immediately by:
There are even people out there, who I might add may very well one day be running this nation, who think of rape as merely a college prank. Then there are the many, many "innocent rapists" out there, who still do not even stop twice to think that what they are doing/did might be wrong. And then all the fence-sitting, low-ethics, non-force-oriented, opportunistic rapists. Many of these lurk at alcohol-ridden jr high, high school, and college parties, and also at bars, waiting for someone's No to become a Yes in a moment of weak will. It calls to mind how I literally once had a guy in high school say to me after what felt like an hour of constant nagging, "Ok, how about this? Just let me put it in for a minute. Just one minute. Then I'll take it out. I won't even move it around." Oh...my...gods. Dude, I am still laughing at you to.this.day.
And it's a good thing I was able to laugh then, too. I was, sadly, already well-acquainted with how much pressure a 17-yr-old boy can exert that I had strong resilience to this guy's insistence. I know that many people reading this are all savvy and PoMo with well-negotiated sexual contracts and healthy boundaries and new ways of relating and all kinds of good stuff, who would never let ourselves be pressured this way now that we are so smart about it, but lots more people aren't. I know I wasn't always as smart and confident about my sexual boundaries as I am now. There are a lot of violent men AND women in this world, who really don't care about you and who would make sport of you in many ways, because they lack empathy. My mind hated to admit that to itself when I was younger and more happily naive, but when it did, I got smarter. Unfortunately, I got smart too late.
There are still lots and lots of women who get raped, either by force or under significant coercion. There are many women have not been educated to say No to sexual pressure properly, sometimes with devastating consequences, and therefore go along with the pressure, because they truly feel like they have no choice. There is a whole book about this, called I Never Called It Rape (here, a link to the free copy online, with a good rant as an opener). And there are still lots and lots of men who have not been educated about the different levels of what might be considered rape, how to know when you are being creepy and stop it, and that rape is really, truly, 100% wrong, 100% of the time. So, I am pretty clear that what we need is a concerted effort all around. We need women to continue to learn to defend ourselves from forceful, unwanted sexual gestures, and also to learn to say No more loudly and clearly at the first sign of discomfort, which women are doing in greater numbers every single day. Here, meet the Gulabi Gang, and here is an upcoming dance party flash mob to stop rape. There are many, many different anti-rape women's initiatives out there, and they run the gamut. But we need more men to stand up and be willing to stick out like a sore thumb and say, "This is wrong and it must stop, now." There is work enough here for all of us.
Skip to 9:31-10:36 for an impassioned plea:
So, getting men to take a stand against rape and rape culture...not glamorous work at all. Please, come volunteer for some darned difficult work...
It's a good idea that we got started at a manageable level. This is a discouraging fight that can take a lot out of you if you let it (so many women know this so well already). In terms of my outreach in the Pagan communities I am part of, I figured we should start fairly simply, not asking too much. I asked men to take a photo of themselves, holding a sign that said, "I stand against rape, in person and at the polls." And to post that to their social media.
The project generated 70 photos and images- many that were to the letter what I asked for, and some that got creative and personal. You can see the whole collection of wonderful images here. The project received some positive and favorable attention from The Pagan Newswire Collective, The Wild Hunt, and The Juggler's Top 10 Quotes of 2012.
My goal was, and remains, to get to 100 images. I feel like the magic(k) of what we are doing here requires 100 men's wills actively, collectively directed toward the end of rape and rape culture...captured in the moment of the photo. That shared intention, imprinted upon the Internet in a global field of thought and image energy, transcending time and space, has power. I feel that 100 men taking this stand will be effective at least toward turning back the current tide of rape horrors, which you may have noticed in the Steubenville football team case, in the case of the young woman in India who committed suicide when refused due process for her rape case, and in the tragic case of the woman who was raped and beaten to death on a bus after a movie with a friend in India.
Why do I think 100 magic(k)al men, men of conscience and presence and will can achieve this wave of change? Because it is intentional energy, directed by empowered men of all different backgrounds toward a common goal that will have resonance with the collective unconscious. We have seen much smaller groups of people historically direct their will toward other important causes, with success. One of witchcraft's most treasured modern myths, well-told here, is predicated upon the notion that a small group of magic(k)al people can change everything: "It has been said that the account of the famous Lammas ritual in the New Forest in 1940 to stop the Nazi invasion was one of Gerald Gardner's 'fireside stories'. "
“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead
I really want to get 100 photos in this project. So, if you have been waffling or unsure, or if you thought the project was over, now is your time to jump into this intentional stream and be a magic(k)al superhero. Post a photo of yourself, men, with a sign saying, "I stand against rape, and rape culture." Email it to me: yesherabbit at gmail dot com. Tag me on Facebook or Twitter. Type in YesheRabbit and you will find me.
I have to say, I am really, really happy to see all those images that came in, to have gotten to know many of the men who stood in front of the camera for this project a little better through their stories and comments and support of the project. Thank you so much for your support!
I am also heartened to see a surge in men schooling other men about rape...
Organizations like Men Can Stop Rape...
Anonymous, at least some of whom are male, took a stand for that poor young victim of football team rape in Steubenville...
White ponytail guys speaking their minds on video (later, it was revealed that the Steubenville girl was likely drugged, not merely drunk):
...and even on Facebook, where I happened upon this rant from my friend Paul the other day:
OK. One more time for the slow class who keeps coming up with the stupid "What if?" scenarios, and strong language is gonna be used, folks:
Rape is rape, and rape is wrong. How FUCKING hard is that to understand?
Unless there is a pre-negotiated safe word/signal that means "STOP!" and is strictly HEEDED to, no other way you cut it, rape is rape. Doesn't matter if you are married, a couple, on a date, drunk, high, sober, asleep, unconscious, wide awake, consented-at-first-but-
changed-your-mind-later-and- said-"STOP", if the person who is in control is not heeding an obvious indication to stop, initiated sex with another that is unwilling or is otherwise subdued and unable to give consent, that person is committing rape, no matter if the offender is man or woman.
Q: He/She was wearing sexy stuff and flirting with me heavily. He/She is asking for it/wants it, right?
A: All that means is that person wanted to dress in a sexy manner and the flirting may or may not mean they find you attractive... THAT'S IT! A person could be butt naked saying any and every sexual innuendo, but that does not give anyone the right to rape them... period.
Q: "What if we were having sex consensually and he/she changes her mind in the middle? I can finish, right?"
A: No, fucktard. You stop what you are doing and calm the fuck down.
Q: "I took him/her out and showed him/her a good time? He/She owes me right?"
A: He/She doesn't owe you a god damn thing.
Q: He's a guy. All guys like sex. He won't mind if I do sexual things to him when he is sleeping. He will wake up to a happy surprise.
He's passed out, but has an erection. He won't mind if I climb on. If he comes too, it will be a happy surprise.
A: Fuck no. Unless you know him AND has already given you consent to jump his bones in these situations, it is SO not ok. Us guys don't want some stranger up in our business without knowing what's what and who's who either.
Q: He/she likes it rough. That means I can have my way with him/her anyway I want, right?
A: Wrong again. As mention before, unless a safe word/signal has been negotiated before hand, if he/she says "No" or "Stop" you better stop. Doesn't matter if you're doing minor role play, or living a 24/7 BDSM lifestyle, there damn well better be a negotiation first so a person has a safety out, or be prepared to hit the brakes at any sign that can mean "no".
Now if you noticed, I have been using he/she in many of these sentences. This because, contrary to belief, men can be raped too, and not just by other men. It is more difficult, but women rape men too. The human body will many times respond to physical stimuli, contrary to the desire of the body's owner. Because of our society and the stupid fronts we put up, it just doesn't come to light as often, as allot of violated men rather suffer in private then to expose anything that they feel might emasculate them to the public. You'd be surprised how many men were raped or molested in their lives, but keep silent.
I hope this has shed some light for those who are dim in the head and needed a clue on this subject.
You might feel a little shocked reading how, well, harsh Paul is in this post. But on the other hand, Paul knows exactly who he is talking to, who prompted this post, and he knows that is the language they speak. He is talking to the guys who are laughing at rape jokes and lying to their daughters about it, among others. Sometimes folks need to be schooled with gentle words, conceptual frameworks, and architectural arguments. Others need to be schooled with cussing, a gruff manner, and a plain sense scolding. Some men won't even be swayed by that, and will push the envelope even further when confronted about stopping rape and rape culture.
I would like to live in a world where we all speak gently to one another, personally. But that is not the world that I actually DO live in. I DO live in a world where, no matter how kind and polite I might be, I still might have some man swerve and scream and call me "Bitch" out of his car window if I'm not crossing the street fast enough. This is the Grand Theft Auto-ization of our minds.
So, being that this is the world we live in, we do what we can, where we can. What I really have liked, during the course of this project thus far, is how many of the guys who sent in photos aren't necessarily trying to be flashy or cool or whatever. They aren't trying to get "points." They just know themselves, know their idea of right and wrong, and are brave enough to take a stand against rape and rape culture. Are you one of them?
As we take our first steps into 2013, how will YOU take your stand to make this better, where you are, right now? What work can you do to stop rape and rape culture? Men, we still need your help.