Owning It

25 Oct

Here is this week’s The View From Venus column from October 25th, by e-board member Abby Finkelman. It can also be viewed on the St. Rose Chronicle website. The Chronicle can also be found in various locations, in print, around campus.

This is the last column in Abby’s series on rape culture. I’d like to congratulate her on the excellent job she did educating us on a huge topic in only four, 600 word columns! She opened many eyes, and I hope elucidation doesn’t stop there!

Owning It

This is my final View from Venus column about rape culture. I know many of you have enjoyed this series (well, “enjoyed” might not be the right word–appreciated, perhaps). I have gotten some really wonderful feedback; people have said how much they agree, what a problem this is, and how nice it is to see it acknowledged.

Others have said different things. I have been called a liar, and told that when women wear shorts skirts and drink, they are basically asking to be raped. Which is sort of…missing the whole point of the series, yeah? You know, the part where I point out that victim-blaming is a massive problem and that women have every right to wear what they want without worrying about getting raped, just as men do?

What I find telling, and disturbing, is not that people missed the point–I cannot be responsible for everyone’s reading comprehension–but that people took it so personally. That people, both publicly and anonymously, were so upset, so offended by what I said that they felt the need to say really nasty things to and about me.

A lot of people do not think about rape culture.  Even women do not always really solidify in their heads that this is what the world is like; we know things are uncomfortable, but it is not until someone says it that we go, “Oh. It isn’t just me.” There really is something going on. And it is wrong. And it is systemic. And there are other people who want to fight it. But it is not just women who say this. I can find lots of men who have also, upon being confronted with their male privilege and the culture it perpetuates, been horrified, and wanted to stop it.

Then, of course, there are the men who feel very differently. The men who feel attacked, who feel that they have to get defensive, and shift the blame. The men who feel that acknowledging that American culture is one in which (we are back to the beginning now, quoting Wikipedia!) “rape and sexual violence against women are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media condone, normalize, excuse, or tolerate sexual violence against women” is the same as saying that they personally condone, normalize, excuse, tolerate, or commit sexual violence against women.

And these men lash out. It is the women’s fault, those trollops. They should know better. I am generalizing (of course I am, I have 600 words!), and a bad person. The stats say rape is totally not a problem anymore. They would never do that. If there is a problem, it is somebody else’s. And me? The one with the chutzpah to write about it? Well, I cannot tell you what I am, because I do not respond to anonymous slander. (Apparently “being an adult” does not include signing your name.)

This response disturbs me. Not the personal attacks. What disturbs me is the persistent refusal by some men (I emphasize here that many men have been wonderful about these columns) to just say, Yes, there is a problem. The way that women are treated in this country is a problem, and I am part of the problem by association, and I am going to do everything I can to help stop it, because I care about my mother, my sister, my girlfriend, my girl friends, all women, none of whom deserve this treatment, and because I care about equality. Because I am a decent human being.

That’s all I am asking for here. I am asking for the men of this campus to recognize the problem, recognize their privilege, and be decent human beings. And I have faith that they–that you–can do it.


One Response to “Owning It”


  1. Backlash, and sweeping it under the rug « Women's Initiative - October 28, 2011

    […] reading The View from Venus for the past four weeks, you know that I wrote four columns about rape culture this month. For the most part, the response to them has been positive. Except for […]

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