From The Men: Thoughts On Rape Culture & Women Being Right
Editor’s Note: Today’s post is written by Matt Peters. He wrote me a little bio, so I have to include it, because it’s amazing: “Matt is a just a guy who has followed Lauren and Max’s adventures and loves their exploits, cheers their successes and frets over their hurdles. He sometimes chimes in on Facebook. He acknowledges that this post is written with an extremely cis-gendered and heterocentric bias. His Buddhist beliefs extend the sentiments expressed above to all people because everyone is worth it. He believes in one simple rule: “One World. One Pain. One Love.”” – Lauren
I was once told that, “God created women so that men would see their beauty and their compassion, and be reminded of His love for the world.” I mean, really, think on that. Imagine the power implied in that statement: You – woman reading this – are a reflection of God’s own love for all of Creation. Your presence is a love note from on high.
I love those words. It is a shame that, as people, we don’t see the divine in the mundane beauty of our fellow humans.
What I’m going to type here is nothing new. You know this. It’s in your DNA. But the world works so hard to make us all forget it. It’s easier if we all forget. It makes people pliable and easily corrupted. We flood ourselves with media that says you need good hair, better hair, a better complexion, darker skin, lighter skin, longer legs, a nicer set of breasts, a higher and firmer ass. We reinforce the idea that smart isn’t sexy, and that sex is a coin you should give out or not give out for Byzantine and conflicting reasons.
We live in a culture where the word “rape” gets tossed around like some sort of nerf word that we use to mean “inconvenienced”. You see it in off the cuff commentary like, “Man, I bet my accountant is just raping me with fees this year.” or “Man, did you see the (sports team) get raped by the referees last night?” Any time there’s a prison rape joke, or a victim of assault is asked what she was wearing or how late she was out at a party, it all contributes to a rape culture that men are seemingly blind to but women see with eagle-vision -like clarity, and the message is simple: your pain doesn’t matter because you don’t matter.
As a man, I can’t even imagine what that kind of world is like, even though I am a part of it. I don’t question my looks based on my weight, or my (thinning) hair. I don’t question my worth based on whether or not I have a spouse attached to my arm or a passel of children. Even if those media arrows are pointed at me, I’m not aware of them. Certainly there’s enough television programs that show the oafish man-child husband married to the gorgeous and witty wife. If anything, media tells me that I can take very little care of myself, and I’ll still find a woman who is willing to settle for me and be both hooker and mother-figure depending on my whim.
I can’t walk the path any woman walks. It’s a world too alien to me. What I can do is listen. I can listen to every lover, cousin, friend, roommate, aunt, or stranger who tells me they’ve been hurt, abused, broken, or assaulted in the same quiet, shell-shocked voice. I can offer encouragement when I hear about humiliation at the hands of someone she trusted with her life and more than her life: her future and her heart. I can remove words like bitch, whore, and slut from my vocabulary in hopes that in some small way, it affects my small corner of the world and my orbit of friends by making things feel a little more safe and accepting. I can read a strong opinion of a woman and ask myself, “Would I be pissed off if it was written by a man?” and keep my reactions in check so that I don’t fall into the trap that “women shouldn’t have strong opinions.” I can do my damndest to be an ally and when I fail, try harder and expect more.
And right now, in this space, I can tell you the things that are worth repeating.
You’re right. That guy who is pissed off at you because you won’t sleep with him instead of your jackass boyfriend? He’s a jackass too.
You’re right. It is your body. You get to make the call. Who you show it to. When you show it. If you show it ever.
You’re right. If Christ (or any religion) is so strong in your life, settling for someone who doesn’t believe isn’t going to last long for you. It isn’t about the guy; it’s about the guy’s relationship with Christ (/religion) being important to you, too.
You’re right. How you dress is not an invitation for others to stare.
You’re right. You don’t have to smile because some strange person tells you to.
You’re right. Sometimes “no” does mean “yes,” but anyone who has pulled himself off a sobbing woman has no question as to what the hell he’s just done.
You’re right. If your man watches porn and it bothers you, he should drop it simply because it bothers you.
You’re right. You are funny.
You’re right. You are smarter than you are afraid to believe.
You’re right. You are beautiful
You’re right. You are worth it
You’re right. You deserve your own forgiveness and love.
Nothing I wrote is earth shaking, or original. But it was worth repeating.
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