Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Creeps and psychos and rape culture

An acquaintance of mine is a charming woman about 10 years younger than I.  She's been on the e-dating scene and periodically posts on Facebook some of the replies she gets.  They are grossly sexual-- from men who have never met her, but who clearly think they are entitled to start a conversation with what they want to do to her body.  It's disgusting.

In the aftermath of the Santa Barbara massacre, we're finally starting to talk about this sense of sexual entitlement that permeates our culture, and a dehumanizing misogyny.

Peacebang writes,
I am a strong feminist who loves men and cares deeply about boys. But I notice that my respect and trust in men in what we might call “the dating scene” has plummeted over the past five to ten years as I have been constantly subject to the simmering rage of male frustration in an age of unprecedented female independence and choice. 
It used to be only the men my friends and I referred to as “creeps and psychos” who revealed how much they hate independent, self-confident women who aren’t interested in them. Now it’s almost normative male behavior.
The anger is notable, isn't it?  And it reminds me of the raw racially-tinged anger against Obama that sees nothing wrong with using  the most offensive terms. Terms that dehumanize and objectify -- women, minorities, LGBT people.

What has happened in the last decade to create these angry, dangerous, entitled men?

People dislike the feminist term "rape culture".  But it is a culture that sees women as sexual objects and no more.
Living in rape culture today means that when I meet a heterosexual man, sexual come-ons and innuendo happen immediately: not neutral witty banter or intellectual exchange, as used to happen.  Earlier in my dating life, my casual flirting was not assumed to be a serious sexual overture. Men with decent social skills were able to engage in friendly exchanges without veering immediately into crass objectification and sexual presumption.  Today, sex leads. 
Entitlement.  The sense that "the world owes me".  The anger that all the promises don't pan out.  And, yet, the distancing of the internet, the loss of community.  Bowling alone.

She issues a powerful challenge:
This isn’t a personal issue. This isn’t about your awesome, fun, smart, funny, gainfully employed, talented female friends dropping out of the dating game because they just aren’t having any luck or any fun meeting guys. This is a societal problem, a social ill that is getting worse and needs to be addressed politically and publicly. This isn’t about what those in denial like to call “a random psycho” who creeps out your friend on a date or stalks your co-worker. Rape culture permeates our society and is a powerful ideology that continues to attract new generations of men who feel fundamentally entitled to women’s attention, admiration, support and bodies.
 How do we respond?


Kevin K said...

Out culture has, over my life time, become increasingly permeated with sex. In popular culture, casual sex is portrayed as a positive good or, at worst, morally neutral. Playboy, the harbinger of women as sexual objects, is now considered tame. Sexual relationships used to be portrayed as developing over time and through respectful interactions. Now, sexuality tends to be a spontaneous collision. Young men are raised on these images.

IT said...

Kevin, I absolutely agree with you. s Further, we have become narcissistic: "what do I want, what's in it for me? " WE have lost the idea of the good of all, or sacrifice for others. we have uncoupled sex from relationship--"was it good for me? Never mind my partner. It's about me." It accompanies the overall rejection of responsibility for the common good.

Kevin K said...

I am totally on board with the narcissism element. I find this very distressing.

JCF said...

A memory: about {gasp} 30 years ago now, I was involved w/ the first "Take Back the Night" (women protest rape & domestic violence) march to be held in Davis CA (I was an undergrad @ UCD).

This is true: the march was supposed to go through downtown, but because there was a *bank robbery* earlier that day at a downtown bank, the march was re-routed closer to campus, as it happened, along Fraternity Row.

See where this is going? How well I remember: going past a frat house, we were chanting "Out of our houses and into the streets, we won't be raped, we won't be beat!" Men on the balconies shouted back "Yes you will! Yes you will!" Other frat brothers (undoubtedly intoxicated) broke into the marching ranks of women, grabbing and groping. [Two frat chapters would eventually be suspended for a year; I'm not sure anything happened to individual guys]

The more things change . . . the more they go online.

IT said...

The concept of sacrifice applies broadly. ONe of my favorite blogs, The Desert Retreat House, had a great discussion of how civilized people are willing to sacrifice.

"In a civilized nation, the flow of life is not inward with the goal of self-interest and self-satisfaction in mind. In a civilized nation, the flow of life is "outward" with the welfare of the common good in mind, and individual citizens sacrifice their own personal needs in order to achieve that goal.

To the degree that citizens live sacrificially, the nation is civilized. To the degree that citizens are unwilling to be concerned for the welfare of others, the nation is little more than a collection of barbarians."