This will be brief:
Our new President is a serial abuser of women, and views on women are, unfortunately, as repugnant as possible and this is not hyperbole. He has physically assaulted women of all ages against their will, objectifies his own daughter, has made underage girls undress in front of him. Et al.
People knew this and yet 60 million plus Americans, including women, voted for this man anyway.
This leads me to believe the following:
Only preemptive (large-scale, societal, educational) changes, not punitive or prescriptive ones, will ever change rape culture.
This can be applied to many other things, such as health care, or political participation, but I’ve got this on the brain for now, so this is what I’ll write about.
Prescriptive measures to combat assault on women are important. Legal measures to protect women’s rights are important (Roe V Wade, et al).
One of my ‘favorite’ films is “Clockwork Orange”, in which the opening sing the main character brutally rapes a woman in her own home while cheerfully chirping “Singin’ in the Rain.” One of the many messages of this film is:
We should not wish for a society where would-be rape rapists ‘cannot’ rape, we should wish for one where would-be rapists (ie young men) do not want to rape at all.
That is, while in the real, present world we must contend with rape crises and physical assault, we need less people focused on how to weed out, identify and punish these people, and more people focused on how to stop generating such mentalities in the first place.
Most of the discussion on rape, on the internet at least, I have observed, is aimed at comforting the victims, and that a very important and noble goal. It is not enough. Without looking up any statistics, I’m going to go out on a limb to say the number of assaults on college campuses and in America at large has not gone down in significant numbers, despite the growing number of women, and men, who “understand” the issue or have internalized various studies or axioms, and can consider themselves pseudo-experts on the subject.
The drive for sex is innate. The link between sex and power and how this manifests itself in casual rape, is not. Boys aren’t born with the predilection towards slipping roofies into cocktails. Bill Cosby is made, not born.
This is because we are taught that the drive towards power, and power over others, is extremely important, and sexual conquest (for men) is one of, if not the strongest, marker of power. Most things in our culture, but particularly education, emphasize this. And sexual education in particular is quite terrible. I feel like I have spent most of my young adult life learning and unlearning many myths about sex, and I’ve never watched porn in any significant amount (that’s being generous; I can truthfully say the amount of actual ‘porn’ I’ve watched or consumed totals less than one hour).
A lonely blog post nobody will read is not enough time or space to adequately grapple with these issues. So let’s skip to the end.
When we allow powerful people to get away with doing these terrible things, is that we as a society are not concerned with these things either. The problem with abusing people is not because it will hurt them, but because you might get caught or punished hurting them.
I believe that too many progressives, overwhelmed by the root causes of many societal ills, and unable or unwilling to tackle the extremely difficult talk of CHANGING MINDS, believe it is enough to simply attack the perceived enemy and fight injustice through brute force of will.
This is simply not enough. It is worse than not enough. Prescriptive Social Justice Will LOSE. Each and every time. Because problems like racism and rape and economic disparity are caused by inequalities of power to begin with, and when you fight against the dominant mindset or power, the already powerful always seem to win. This is why I hate Identity Politics.
This seems like a good place to stop.