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Jessica Valenti writes eloquently about women in The Nation.  After her latest article, someone named Ice Cream Cone left a comment that said in part:

“Needless to say I am very much against rape. If a man has to resort to rape to have sex with any woman he is not much of a man anyway.  .  .  I don't believe we live in a "rape culture.” I would ask Ms. Valenti or anyone else what her solutions to this "rape culture" she believes we live in are.  My question is not asked in any sarcasm or rudeness.   I would also ask how she thinks that men should behave in order to prevent this ‘rape culture.’”

It was the “or anyone else” that freed me.  I would like to respond to Ice Cream Cone:

Behavior is preceded by thoughts. One thing that needs to happen is that more men need to develop out of the prevailing social paradigm sufficiently to know that men don’t resort to rape in order to have sex.  Men rape because it makes them feel powerful.

Let me address the “rape culture” phrase which seems to stick in Ice Cream Cone’s throat. I would invite him to imagine an alley in a high crime part of town where he doesn’t feel safe.  Now imagine it is night and for whatever reason, he’s there.  The fear or uneasiness he feels?  This fear and uneasiness is woven into the unconscious and in many cases, the conscious substance of every woman in the world in the daytime, at night, in any part of town, and in her own home.

Now imagine—and I have to cross metaphors here because I think there’s a relation—someone grabs him from behind and rams an AK 47 up his rectum.  How do you think that would feel, Ice Cream Cone?  Now imagine that someone, probably from the gun lobby, came out and said that you shouldn’t have been where you were and you shouldn’t have been wearing such tight pants, otherwise this wouldn’t have happened.  Now imagine a police station, a jury and a Congress full of women jeering at you because either you made this up or you asked for it.  You know what men do with guns.  You can’t take that away from them.

Let’s go further: Imagine as a small boy you were told to keep your penis taped down against your leg because no one should ever see a bulge there.  You should always keep that part of your body covered.  Or as a teen being told: don’t ever take your shirt off.  I don’t care if it’s 90 degrees in the shade, if women see your nipples, they get ideas.

You know what: WOMEN THINK ABOUT SEX ALL THE TIME, TOO because they are HUMAN BEINGS, just like men are.  It’s just that many women see sex as something more complex than a penis in an orifice.

Let’s keep going: suppose bills were being introduced and passed all over the US that mandated you keep track of every erection and every single sperm that comes out of you.  You know those sperm are alive?  Those are potential human beings.  You are responsible for every seed you spill upon the ground as well as every egg one of those guys fertilizes.  Every time you have sex, you must submit to tests to determine how many eggs you have fertilized and how many human beings were lost as a result of the ones that aborted.  We’ll need to have you into a female doctor’s office and then into the court of a female judge and jury to determine whether or not your sperm was the reason some of those eggs didn’t fertilize.  Women will determine which of the women you had sex with you will have to support because of the embryos that ensued plus change diapers, do night-time feedings and take time off work when any child of yours that came to term is ill.  Because this is going to impact your productivity, we will make up for that by paying you 25% less per hour than people not in your situation.  In addition you must pay restitution for any aborted embryo because you are probably culpable.  And by the way, insurance is not going to cover Viagra.  We’re not paying for you to have sex.

If this sounds ludicrous then you haven’t been paying attention to the current political obsession with women’s bodies and reproductive systems.   Because when women are not seen as having full autonomy over their own bodies, the rape is already happening. In your paradigm, the only alternative for men obsessively controlling and demeaning women is for women to control and demean men. There are other worlds than this.

To develop out of the prevailing social paradigm, a person, say Ice Cream Cone for example, needs to figure out what’s in it for him.  He needs to figure out that the way women are controlled, demeaned and infantilized in our culture also demeans and infantilizes men.  When anything feminine, anything having to do with women is smirked at, condescended to, mocked, or disenfranchised, it makes it harder for men to admit they have all those qualities and attributes within themselves, waiting to be developed.  Until a person --male or female--realizes that the complete panoply of what we call masculine and feminine is available in some degree to everyone and that  it’s the work of a lifetime to be open to one’s capacity for human-ness, that person is going to wonder what is all the fuss about this "rape culture."

Originally posted to FrenchUltramarine on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 11:28 AM PST.

Also republished by Sluts, Sexism and Patriarchy, and Community Spotlight.

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