This comment jumped out at me from a thread I was perusing at Captain Awkward.com. I commiserate with the author to a certain extent, as the post as it describes so much of the frustration I have to put up with attempting to educate people about basic facts of our culture. My frustration is nothing though compared with people who have to deal with this sorta crap everday. Post-Feminism my ass. There is still such a long way to go toward achieving equality and recognition of women as fully human, fully autonomous beings. Oh, and go read the whole thread over there, it is well worth your time.
“I don’t want to dogpile or anything. But I just feel like I should say this.
Every single person, IRL, to whom I have said the words “Rape Culture,” has been hearing it for the first time from me. It is possible that one or two of the women at Food Not Bombs mentioned it, but I don’t remember. One of my closest friends – first time*. My close female friend in highschool – first time. Any of my best friends, honestly. Most of the geeky fannish writing group I hang out with online – a handful of exceptions, there. Not many. My dad, first time (and ye gods, what was I thinking?). My brother, first time. My sister, first time. Every single one of her friends**. First time ever hearing the words “Rape Culture.”
The way we’re going to make headway as a culture is by addressing this stuff head-on, and making it clear this shit is no longer tolerable. The way we can make headway as a culture to stop Rape Culture is to popularize this struggle. To make it clear that society is not going to put up with this shit anymore. To get comics to realize that it’s not “edgy.” To get guys to realize that it’s not acceptable damage.
Look, I’m tired of being Angry Social Justice Girl. I want to go back to being Cheerful Carefree Artist Girl. I want to stop muttering under my breath at the movie theatre (Oooh, another movie about how Evil Desert People are trying to destroy us! That’s not exploiting a rift or marginalizing anyone!), I want to stop complaining about three out of every four commercials (“With this toothpaste, you won’t just be the ex, you’ll be the one that got away,” yeah fuck you), I want to enjoy comics without feeling less-than-human because I’m a short androgynous girl, not a massive-boobed rubber-spined stiletto-heeled long-haired pinup model (Do less-than-sex-objects girls even exist in comicsland?), I don’t want to be outraged.
I am so very, very tired of being angry. I wish that being happy and peaceful and politely asking people to please, thank you, maybe treat us a little more like human beings if you would kindly… worked. It doesn’t. That gets you a pat on the head.
This went on a lot longer than I intended, and I apologize. It’s just – the only reason it seems like this is a big cultural thing is because we’re here, surrounded by people who get it. The rest of the world is not so understanding. The rest of the world is indifferent, for the most part, and actively hostile at times. That has to change, and the only way it’s going to happen is if we refuse to back down when this stuff goes down.
*I had to explain and define the term, and spend about ten minutes defending and explaining it more. We had so many unproductive conversations about feminism and sexism in which he said that. “I understand that you’re angry, I really do. I get why women are angry. But don’t you see you’re driving men who might be sympathetic away with that anger?” I tried to be nice. I tried so damn hard. I don’t think he will ever know how many times I walked away from those conversations and broke down sobbing as soon as I was out of earshot. It wasn’t until I’d known him for at least three years that he actually, truly, and totally understood me. A mutual acquaintance made a sexist comment for the umpteenth time, and he commented on how angry I was, later. I wound up talking without pause for about twenty minutes, telling him to picture a world in which he was seen as subhuman – every issue of ignorance he’d had to withstand as a vegan, but that the word “VEGAN” was stamped all over his body, and most of the world believed he was less of a person for it. That he could be denied jobs, that people would target him for violent crime, that people would demand sex and favors from him and treat him like shit if he said “No,” that people would never take no for an answer. That he could never, ever get away from that prejudice, and people would defend it, that authorities would look the other way if he was victimized. That he was asking for it; that he would be blamed for crimes that targeted him. That there were people who wanted to kill him because he didn’t act the way they expected him to. People who were trying to pass laws to make it okay to kill him if he didn’t. Places in the world he could never, ever go without risking his life, just because of one tiny fact – that he couldn’t change – about his identity. But he wasn’t allowed to be angry about it. I was crying by the time I finished.
Three years of being nice about it. To one of my best friends. (Yeah, I know. This paragraph highlights the worst of him, unfairly so. He’s not like that, 98% of the time; he’s not like that anymore.) That’s how long it took to sink in; that’s how long it took to make someone, someone who’s very intelligent and quite sympathetic, understand what prejudice and rape culture is.
**They’d never heard the words “Rape culture” before. It took them two to three years to get rid of their Group Creeper. I had to make it explicitly clear to him that rape jokes weren’t okay in our house – and then dealt with whining about how stupid it was that I couldn’t take a joke for weeks. I did this nicely, with joking and civility I in no wise felt. He still reacted badly. About a year later, he made a crack about having to watch his mouth around me, and a female friend told him she was tired of him disrespecting women around her. She wondered why he respected me, the older sister of a friend, but none of his female friends? Why he still felt like it was okay to be disrespectful around them? He blamed me. I walked her home, and we talked about it. A few weeks later, he did something similar to another friend, and the group in general, guys included, closed ranks and made it clear he wasn’t welcome.