Boys Will Be Donald Trump

a-lion-roars

 

So in news the irony of which is dulled by the lack of surprise, the guy in the Air Force who was in charge of sexual assault prevention and response sexually assaulted some chick at a bar. Hey, it wasn’t one of his own female underlings, so, you know, that’s something. I mean, he’s in charge of preventing sexual assault IN THE AIR FORCE, not just any old place, right?

Sigh.

Anyway, this has led to media discussion of sexual assault in the military in general, and the low rate of both reports and convictions.

Donald Trump’s take?

He tweeted (and I wanted to post an image of his tweet but . . . that seemed like more work than I was willing to do), “26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?”

I don’t know if Donald Trump knows this, but MEN AND WOMEN ARE TOGETHER ALL THE TIME. We share the fucking planet. We live in homes, in apartments, in dorms, and in condo complexes together. We ride the same public transportation together and work in office buildings, factories, schools, etc., together. And many, many, many men DO NOT RAPE WOMEN.

I’m not saying all men do not rape women. Many do, obviously. But many more men don’t rape women than do rape women. I swear.

And the thing is, if your premise is, “Men cannot be in close quarters with women without raping and/or sexually assaulting them,” my only answer continues to be, then we need to lock men up. We do not let lions roam the streets of our cities freely because lions will eat people if they do. It’s not their fault. It’s in their nature. I mean, the lions who live on the savannah in Africa, well, that’s their territory, and it’s a human’s responsibility to tread cautiously there, I guess. But men don’t get to declare the whole world their territory. So there you go, Donald Trump. If, as you say, it is in men’s nature to rape and sexually assault women, then we will clear off some land for you in, say, Montana – I hear there’s a lot of it there – and you can all run wild there. Women will just know to only travel to Montana in specially arranged Jeeps with tour guides who can get them away from you quickly if you look ready to pounce. And who could shoot you, if worse comes to worse. (I’ve never been on safari. The guides carry guns, right? Just in case? Maybe just a tranq gun? I don’t know.)

Now, if I were dictator of the USA, as I wish to be, I would not immediately clear out land in Montana and put all the men there. Because I, man-hating feminist that I am, do not believe that all men have it indelibly in their natures to rape and sexually assault women.

However, I will reserve a small plot of land for any man that says anything like, “Rape? Sexual assault? Well, what did you expect when you put the men and the women right there together?” Because if YOU think men cannot be around women without raping them, and YOU are a man . . . well, you don’t need an advanced class in Logic to figure out what the “then” to this statement is.

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Steubenville?

daffy duck

So on the one hand, there are a lot of things that have been happening lately that are the kinds of things I normally comment on. Steubenville. Leaning In. Duck penis studies.

But I was busy writing about Bet Me and then having Passover in NJ and then Passover here and, you know, life stuff is happening and I just never got around to it.

So I don’t have anything to actually say about duck penises that I haven’t already said.

And I’m not touching the Lean In phenomenon. I have my own conflicting emotions about  my personal choices vis-a-vis work and motherhood and I don’t want to sort what I think, intellectually, about Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In while also grappling with my feelings. Also, I haven’t read it, and did y’all see my TBR pile on Facebook last week? Yeah, I’m not prepared to add it.

I am also not touching New York‘s Feminist Housewife article right now. Just too many feelings getting in the way of my thoughts.

So . . . Steubenville?

Oy. Steubenville.

Victoria Dahl, who writes some of my favorite contemporary romances and also some pretty great historic romances, as well as my very favorite Twitter feed, had an interesting post on her tumblr. (Warning for those of you who click on the post, and then click on the rest of her tumblr – there are some images that are NSFW! Also, they are hoooot. Did I mention I love Victoria Dahl so much?)

She’s responding to the current feminist message that we shouldn’t be teaching our daughters not to get raped, we should be teaching our sons not to rape. She points out that for a long time, we’ve been taught that rape is not about sex but control and power; that rapists rape because they want to assert power and dominance over their victims, not because they wanted sex and didn’t care how the person who they were having sex with felt about it. And, basically, rapers gonna rape, y’all. Protect your drinks.

Dahl points out that rape IS sometimes about sex, and to the extent that it is, yes, teach your sons that no means no, yes means yes, and everything that isn’t yes means no, and if you’re getting mixed messages ask again, and women are people, not objects for your pleasure, and etc. etc. etc.

But when it’s not about sex, when it’s about violence and power and dominance, then it’s disempowering to tell your daughters that there’s nothing they can do to protect themselves from evil rapists. It’s good to tell them to watch their drinks, take a self-defense course, not get drunk to the point of vulnerability when surrounded by people she can’t trust. (It’s also good to talk to your daughters about how you can tell who you can and can’t trust.)

Even thought I’ve been cheering the idea that we teach our sons not to rape instead of teaching our daughters not to get raped, I don’t disagree with Victoria Dahl here. You give your children – all of them – basic safety information. Curl your fingers away from the knife when slicing. Don’t get in a stranger’s car. If anyone ever tells you not to tell your parents something, TELL YOUR PARENTS IMMEDIATELY. And, yes, watch your drink, and don’t incapacitate yourself when you’re not in trustworthy environs. (And pay attention to your friends. Make sure they’re actually trustworthy and not just cool or fun.)

Dahl’s post is definitely a needed perspective in the current rhetoric about rape, which is, at best, confused and unhelpful. We need to remember, in our current pissed-off-ness about the media coverage of rape, that rape is a crime and teaching men and women to take reasonable steps to protect themselves from crimes is a perfectly normal and even required part of, like, life.

But I said on Facebook, “The biggest difference between telling a person, ‘You shouldn’t carry an open purse; you’ll get robbed,’ and ‘You shouldn’t get drunk at parties; you’ll get raped’ is that no one ever says of a convicted robber, ‘Oh, that poor, poor kid. His future is ruined now, and all because that irresponsible girl couldn’t keep her purse closed. I mean, how was he supposed to KNOW she didn’t want to have her stuff taken, what with her purse all opened like that?'”

It’s not like you shouldn’t tell someone to close their purse. It’s fine. It’s a perfectly valid piece of advice. But the feminist sentiment that we should be teaching men not to rape instead of teaching women not to be raped IS more about the cultural rhetoric around rape than it is about the practicality.

For one thing, the advice sometimes borders on absurd. Go into any room of women and ask if any of them have ever a) been drunk around a guy they didn’t intend to have sex with, b) been alone with no physical recourse with a guy they didn’t intend to have sex with, c) been alone and at least partially undressed with a guy they didn’t intent to have sex with, d) flirted with a guy they didn’t have sex with, e) been at parties with guys they didn’t intend to have sex with – and then NOT been raped. I don’t mean to be callous about this. I know that, in that room, there will be women who have been raped, to the tune of 1 in 4 or 1 in 6 or whatever the latest, unreliable statistic is (because so many rapes go unreported, or even unacknowledged by the victim). But even women who HAVE been raped will have also NOT been raped in moments where the cultural rhetoric seems to agree that, had you been, it would have been your fault. So hearing “Drinking and flirting with boys will get you raped!” sounds a lot like “One inhalation of reefer and you will die young, bitter, broke and in jail! With no brain cells!” It sounds like a lie. People do these things all the time and they’re fine. Because a great many men – maybe even the majority of men – even when they are teenagers! – don’t rape women.

But some do.

And the thing about Steubenville is, I mean, I guess they were more about power than sex, since they didn’t, actually, um . . . put the p in the v? Right? So I guess they were asserting their power?

But the really striking thing about it was, as far as I can tell, the boys really had no idea that what they were doing was wrong. And honestly . . . why should they? A lot of people (the ones who haven’t been bemoaning the ruined futures of these poor, innocent fuhball players) are upset that these kids got tried as juveniles instead of as adults, but I think this is a CLASSIC situation in which trying them as juveniles seems completely appropriate. The whole idea of trying people under the age of eighteen as juveniles is that they’re simply not old enough to fully understand the implications and consequences of their actions. When they’re tried as adults, it’s because the particular crime in question is considered so bad (and their age is considered advanced enough) that they couldn’t possibly argue that they’re not old enough to understand how bad what they did was.

Yes, of course, rape SHOULD be one of those crimes that a sixteen-year-old boy would know is wrong. But it is very evident from their treating their rape of this girl like it was the coolest party trick in town indicates that they strongly did not know that it was wrong.

And why should they have? None of the people at the parties they went to said, “Hey, dude, what you’re doing is wrong.” Well, apparently one of their friends texted them to tell them to cut that shit out, but his voice was drowned out by all the other people going, “Hahaha this is awesome let’s videotape this shit and throw it up on Twitter!” And then their community by and large backed them up and protected them.

And then fucking CNN and Good Morning America were saying things about how these poor boys’ fuhball futures were ruined because this skanky ho got drunk enough to pass out and how were they supposed to KNOW that they shouldn’t stick their fingers in the orifices of passed out girls? I mean, the girl consented to going to the party and drinking and everything! That’s the same as consenting to any and all sexual acts while she’s unconscious! Right? Right!

I mean, when fucking CNN and GMA, which are for and by adults, don’t know that rape is wrong, how do we expect sixteen-year-olds to?

And that’s why feminists are focusing on education about rape is wrong. Because apparently we, as a culture, don’t know.

Okay. Next week I think I’m going to talk about, I don’t know . . . The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills or something innocuous. And if there could be no rapes that are hideously mishandled by mainstream media, or Republicans saying hideous things about rape and abortion, or psychopaths shooting up schools, for, like, the next three months? That’d be great, America. Thanks.

Ennui

I know y’all are waiting on tenterhooks for my next post, and it is not forthcoming. I’m sorry. I mean, yeah, I’m busy. I’m writing fictional stuff; I’m on two committees; I’m churning out scripts for my Hebrew school stuff. But that’s not really the problem. It’s just that there are so many things that I have absolutely nothing to say anything about, and I used to. I came to this realization when it turned out Katy Perry’s not a feminist. Once upon a time I would have LOTS to say about a Katy Perry not being a feminist. What does she think feminism MEANS? Doesn’t she understand that she can do what she does because feminism? And what about her young fans, I ask you? What about the CHILDREN?

Now I say, eh. Did anyone think she was a feminist before? And if so, why?

The Petraeus scandal is sort of like that for me. I used to love sex scandals! I wrote a whole post about Senator John Ensign! Why can’t I bring myself to write about Petraeus?

I mean, first of all, the man has too many vowels in his last name. It’s confusing.

But I don’t know. The whole thing makes me uncomfortable. I mean, for starters, I have fuzzy but positive feelings towards Petraeus; he seems like a good dude. So when he cheats on his wife in what appears to be a fully consensual relationship with his biographer, I’m kind of going, “Well . . . shit happens.” I mean, he’s got a seriously high-pressure job; according to that tape Rachel Maddow talked about that WaPo released, he apparently hasn’t been home often enough to even see his house (and I know she thought the important things about this tape were that Fox News really is, no seriously, for reals, the media arm of the GOP, and that the CIA is basically in charge of modern warfare but I hear what I want to hear, alright?). And then there’s Paula Broadwell, and she’s younger and good-looking and spent all day every day staring adoringly at him and writing down all the things he said so she could write the glowing story of his life. How could he resist? And he was once called Supreme Allied Commander and was now the head of the CIA. He was hard at work keeping America safe, widely respected as intelligent and fair, and she was spending all day every day researching how awesome he is. How could she resist? And yeah, the e-mails and the Jill Kelly thing were kind of gross, and you do have to worry about the head of the United States’s spies not being able to keep an extra-marital affair a secret. But I’m hardly the first person to make that joke. So what am I supposed to say?

I think the election wiped me out. I mean, I wrote about the first round of awful things Republicans say about rape, but I couldn’t bring myself to write about the fifth because for serious, what are you supposed to say? Rape is bad. Men who don’t seem to believe that rape is bad are also bad. Rape needs a much longer and more complicated discussion in this country, not just about what should be the legal ramifications of acts, but how to create a society that’s a little more moral about, no, seriously, consent, that’s important. But I tried to write that post and went off my head (though this story has me thinking about it again).

So I will be back. I swear. I’ll try to write more regularly. As soon as I shake this blanket of ennui that I’m currently snuggling under.

A Very Quick, Small Thing about Rape Jokes

I don’t need to tell you guys about the Daniel Tosh rape joke kerfuffle this week, right?

Great. Now my very small point. Most of the guys I know – because I know mostly good guys – want to be protectors. They want to be defenders of women. They want to be heroes. They want to slay dragons. And believe me, guys, most of us want you to. Even if we want to slay dragons, too.

But here is the thing. Guys, when women hear you tell a rape joke*, or laugh at a rape joke, or defend the maker of a rape joke, we hear one thing – don’t look to this guy for support if you are raped. And/or don’t tell him about the time you were in fact raped. It’s the same thing we think when we hear you go rape-apology. You’re not on your side. You’re on your rapist’s side. You aren’t the heroic dragon-slayer. You’re the guy on the sidelines going, “Yeah, dragon! Get ‘er! Breathe that fire! Woohoo!”

Now, I know you don’t think laughing at a rape joke is that big a deal. But when a woman is raped or sexually assaulted, it’s a pretty vulnerable time for her. She needs to know for damn sure that the people she looks to for support are going to give it, 100%, no questions asked. And you laughed at a rape joke. So she’s not sure.

And I know some of you will say, “How dare you? Of course I would defend my sister/daughter/friend/woman! I’d want to kill the bastard!”

Here’s the thing. The bastard is very rarely that crazy monster-man who jumped out of the bushes to assault her. And she’s usually, like, a person, not some pigtailed virginal beacon of perfection. So when you conceptualize the rape that the woman you know might have suffered, conceptualize, too, the things that actually happen. Think about how you’d react if your female friend told you that it was your friend, your good buddy, who’s always at your parties, who always gets a little hands-y and aggressive but you know, he’s a good guy at heart, it’s just that women have to know to what he’s like, that’s all – he raped her. At a party. She was a little drunk. She tried to push him off but he’s stronger than her and she got scared and confused so she froze up. Does she know for sure that if she tells you about it, you’re not going to say, “But you know how he is! Why did you let him get you alone?”

Or what about that guy your wife was always sort of flirting with? It annoyed you, that she flirted with him, that she went on about how cute his ass was. But this one time he came over at night when you weren’t home. She let him in; of course she let him in. You guys are friends. They laughed and flirted – until he got dangerous. Then she said no, but she didn’t want to make much noise because the baby was sleeping. So maybe she wasn’t as vociferous in her protests as she could have been. Will she be afraid that you’ll conclude that this was an affair and not rape at all?

Let’s say your sister is cornered by a client of the company she works for. He’s a big deal; she’s not. If she loses him, she risks her job. She doesn’t want to, but she doesn’t say no . . . exactly. She says, “Please don’t get me fired.” To some guys, that sounds like consent. To some judges, that sounds like consent. Is she going to be absolutely sure that it won’t sound like consent to you?

Let’s say it’s your daughter. She’s been partying a lot. She’s been drinking and maybe more; you know for sure and you’ve grounded her but it doesn’t seem to do any good. She’s wearing these tiny little outfits everywhere and when you restrict them, she just puts them on under more acceptable clothes and takes off the outer layer when she’s out of your sight. She goes out every night looking for trouble, and one night, she finds some. Is she going to be able to talk to you, or is she going to think you’ll say she had it coming, what with her behavior lately?

Those are just some examples. Obviously, rape happens in many ways. The main point here is, when a rape happens to a woman you love, do you want to be her hero? Or do you want to be the guy she perceives as standing on her rapist’s side? Because if she’s already marked you, on her list, as someone who laughs at rape jokes, who makes rape jokes, or who apologizes for rapists, you’re either not going to know that any of these situations have happened to her, or she’s going to drop you from her life when they do or at least distance herself quite a bit. So if you want to be a dragon-slayer, you’ve got to first be a person a woman would tell about the dragon.

Now, let’s say that you’ve read this post, and you’re going, “Dammit! I have laughed at rape jokes! But I totally want to be the dragon-slayer! Is it too late for me?” No. It’s not. Chances are, the women in your life are there because they love you and see you as a good guy, or at least a redeemable guy. Just start now by not doing that anymore.

(I should note that slaying the dragon in this case rarely means literally killing the rapist. Usually it means hand-holding and allowing your shoulder to be used, or maybe offering some real logistical support like going with her to the rape crisis center or to the police, helping her organize her life so that she doesn’t need to be in contact with her rapist anymore if that’s possible, etc. It’s less exciting and glamorous but it’s usually what’s needed.)

(I should also note that it could be your brother or son or male friend who’s raped. It’s rarer, and it’s really rare that he’d trust someone enough to tell them, and if you’ve ever laughed at the very idea that a man could be raped, well, then, you’re not going to be his dragon-slayer, either.)

Wow, I said this was going to be quick, didn’t I? Sorry.

*By rape joke, I mean a joke in which the victim is the butt of the joke. There are plenty of ways to make a good rape joke, as is illustrated in the article I linked to. The rules of comedy are actually pretty simple. You can make fun of power structures. You can make fun of people in power. You can make fun of people who do bad things. You can make fun of hypocrites. You cannot make fun of those who are oppressed. You cannot make fun of victims. That is all.

State-Sanctioned Rape

Let’s not pussy-foot around this. This is rape.

Here, this woman seems to know more about it than I do, in terms of legal definitions.

But very few news outlets are even reporting this, and the ones that do are doing the, “Gee, that’s really wrong” thing. Which it is. It’s really, really, really wrong.

It’s state-sanctioned, state-sponsored, hell, even state-coerced rape. Penetration without consent of the penetratee is rape. Let’s please work on calling a spade a spade.

(And please spare me the bullshit about “What if I forcibly penetrate your ear with my finger, is that rape?” because the Virginia legislature is talking about the vagina, not the ear. You can’t get an ultrasound from an ear. I mean, you can’t get an ultrasound of a fetus from an ear.)

Here’s what I want. I want all of the legislators who’ve signed this bill, who’ve sponsored this bill, who’ve declared their willingness to sign this bill immediately fired. For threatening to rape the women of Virginia. Because that’s got to be against some oath they took. Right?

Then I want somebody to explain to me why I shouldn’t assume that Republicans simply hate, loathe, despise, and abominate women. I didn’t used to believe that. I didn’t used to believe that Republicans were simply evil. I used to think that there were just a few bad apples, a few crazies that the media liked to highlight because, hey, it’s entertaining, but really, Republicans as a whole aren’t evil. They just have a different vision of what an ideal world would look like than I do, and a lot of how they think the world should look is just as legitimate as how I think the world should look. Plus, I love me some NASA, and Democrat presidents tend not to. But between this, and the New Hampshire domestic violence shit, and the birth control brouhaha with them all talking about if women would just keep their legs together, like, hello, even if that were a sane and non-hateful thing to say, there’d still be married women who use birth control, dipshits, and yeah, I’ve covered this already, I’m not sure why I shouldn’t believe that Republicans are pure evil and just hate women.

So maybe the explanation is, “No, no, those are just the extremists, that’s not what real Republicanism is about.” If that’s it, then here’s what I want. I want every Republican candidate for public office – and every Republican currently holding public office – to go on the record with how they feel about this Virginia bill.

And I want to set up a website wherein I put up pictures of those who say they support the bill with big red signs over their faces – This Person Supports RAPE.

Hell, we can ask Democrats, too. And if any of them support the bill, their pictures can go up on the site.

Because the truth is, I really want this not to be a party thing. I really want this to be a “limited number of crazies” thing. We only have two parties in this country; if it is generally agreed upon by Republicans that women are hateful, disgusting, unworthy beings, that’s approximately half the country backing that up. That’s too frightening to contemplate.

But I haven’t heard boo from party leadership saying, “Oh, my God, you guys, we don’t support rape; cut it out.”