Friday, May 06, 2011

All men are potential rapists?

NOTE: This post seems to get more traffic than any other post I have O.o which makes me feel like I ought to caution any potential reader to try reading the rest of this post first before you link to it in order to prove an anti-feminist point -______-" 



It's time for our controversial feminist topic of the day! :D

Have a look at a statement oft-associated with feminism and all the 'extremism' it stands for. You might have seen it on a poster on campus, or on the internet, or had it quoted to you -- that all men are potential rapists. The statement is clearly a shock tactic, which doesn't always work the way you want them to, so I understand when people react unfavourably to what is admittedly a deliberately incendiary statement.

But I see something different when I read it. I don't know if it's the 'right' interpretation, or if it is how it was intended to be read. I can only bring my own coloured views and perspective to it, and that is what I do now. What I see, as a young woman in today's world, in that statement...it's not about the men. People often seem to interpret it as a pre-emptory accusation of all men, a confirmation of feminism's entrenched misandry, and they immediately protest, There are plenty of decent, good-hearted guys out there! I know men who would never! etc, etc.

Well, I don't think it's about the men. Flipped around, I see this: it's about the women who are told they have to live with that statement's 'reality'. This is simply what the world tells me. What every single concerned, well-meaning individual tries to impress upon my psyche.

For one, it is the truth. Fact of the matter is, every time a girl turns down a much-needed offer of a ride late at night from a guy, she's treating him as a potential rapist. When a woman makes sure not to go to the bathroom alone, she's treating every man in the vicinity as a potential rapist. She takes care not to be alone with a man unnecessarily, potential rapist. You get the pattern. And every girl out there has, at some point, done something along those lines. Every time someone utters a victim-blaming remark, What was she doing out so late alone with him (potential rapist)? What did she do to encourage him (potential rapist)? Every time people try to tell women what to wear, what to do to avoid sexual assault (watch out for potential rapists!). This is what we hear: that all men are potential rapists. I'm certainly not saying that every man out there is a hair-trigger away from turning into a ravening beast of lust and ravishing their way through towns, but that women are expected to live their lives as if that is the case.

'All men are potential rapists' is the essential breakdown of all the rules that have been taught to women, and if we break even a single one, we are often blamed when something happens to us. I don't think I need to point out how impossible it is to follow absolutely the rules of the beware-all-men tenet, but that is the paradox women have to live with, everyday.

Men are privileged in this area -- they don't have to live as if all men (or women) are potential rapists. They don't have to and aren't expected to plan their excursions and social life and daily commute around that rule. I know shock tactics can be counterproductive, and in this case it's hard to see much beyond blind accusations. But honestly, 'all men are potential rapists' really quite succinctly depicts how women have to live, and that's the meat of it. Get angry with the alleged reality that women are callously expected to 'deal' with instead of the statement that merely pointed it out.

2 comments:

  1. As I remember the original statement fro I think the early 70's was an unequivocal, "All men are rapists." Ironically this is what rapists believe

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  2. Source? With your reference to an 'original statement' from the 'early 70's', I assume you're talking about a specific quote. The closest examples I can find of your assertion on the net are:

    1. Andrea Dworkin's 1987 book 'Intercourse', which some people have interpreted to argue that 'all heterosexual sex is rape'. She denies this. Even if we're not sure what she really meant to say, it's hardly unequivocal. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intercourse_(book)]

    2. Catherine MacKinnon has also been credited with the similar quote 'All sex is rape'. Snopes debunks this: [http://www.snopes.com/quotes/mackinnon.asp]

    3. Author Marilyn French wrote into one of her novels a militant radical feminist character who says at one point: "Whatever they may be in public life, whatever their relationships with men, in their relationships with women, all men are rapists, and that's all they are. They rape us with their eyes, their laws, and their codes" (p. 433). Authors are not their characters. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Women%27s_Room]

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