Friday, October 27, 2017

So much depends

on a red wheelbarrow.  Or on what the meaning of "is" is.  Or what "rape culture" means, for that matter.

Here is an article about mothers of college students trying to organize against the trend to see all college males as rapists who just haven't been caught yet.  Yes, I mean to be that inflammatory, because let's face it, what mother is going to think her child is guilty of rape in any form, especially if she joins a group to protest the treatment of men on college campuses and the accusation, the basis of "rape culture," that all men are potential racists.  Do I exaggerate?  Exhibit A:

Another mother, Alison, talks about receiving the first call from her son about the accusation against him. “How many times have I told you, you need to keep it zippered,” she told him—another incendiary quote, which could easily read as the reaction of an indulgent enabler who is well-acquainted with her son’s bad behavior. Alison says her son was in fact propositioned by his eventual accuser, and that they had consensual sex; his case was cleared, but in the meantime he became a campus pariah and dropped out of school. The outlines of his story certainly sound sympathetic, so what are we supposed to make of that icky first reaction?

Icky first reaction?  Incendiary quote? My daughter tells me she warned her boyfriend's younger brother (whom she considers a brother) when he left home for college: "Don't stick your dick in stupid."  Is my daughter a dupe of rape culture?  Is she an enabler?  Is the advice to keep your zipper up really terrible advice, given the drive to have sex most boys have (for decades, if Donald Trump and Hugh Hefner are any example)?  Is that 'icky,' or practical?  You can make an argument for both sides; but the Slate article doesn't, because there is only one way to consider this complicated situation, and that is this:  rape culture is real.  Any contradiction of that assertion just proves you are part of the problem, another enabler in a rape culture world.

Exhibit B is this, concerning another mother of a son accused of rape:

“In my generation, what these girls are going through was never considered assault,” she told the paper. “It was considered, ‘I was stupid and I got embarrassed.’” Is this an unwittingly devastating articulation of rape culture, or just a middle-aged woman who hasn't memorized the third rails of online feminism? 

The case in point is that the girl got drunk, and later used her condition to argue she couldn't consent. The son was expelled.  Frankly, it takes me back to my daughter's sage advice, but we do face this question of consent again.  Was she incapable of consent?  Did she withdraw consent the "morning after," regretting her decision to get drunk in the first place?  Is it wrong to say she consented then, and later decided she hadn't?  Am I a proponent of rape culture to raise these questions?

Nice work if you can get it, insisting only statements that support your claim are to be allowed into the discussion.

That same mother makes a comment the Slate author finds puzzling:  "We don't really need to teach our sons not to rape."  Well, no one taught me not to rape a woman.  Then again, implicit in that mother's defense of her son is the idea that "rape" is violent and vicious and an exertion of power; which is pretty much what I was taught.  Taking advantage of a drunk woman was unseemly, but it wasn't categorized as rape.  It should have been; but to me that would just be "icky."  No one had to teach me not to do it, not explicitly.  Maybe that woman's son should have been taught to show more respect for women, to not take them as objects of sexual desire or vessels for your sexual release; I'm not defending his actions.  But I am rather curious about the power structure here:  if the woman says she didn't consent then, or doesn't consent now, all that matters is consent was withdrawn; and we're back to the central question of rape:  when is it too late to decide you don't want to?

I'm also thinking the author of this article is not a parent, nor not the parent of a boy.  Much easier to declare, as the Slate writer implicitly does, that no son of hers would be raised to have the wrong ideas about women and sexual relations.  She'll never say anything so icky to her child, or wouldn't, if she had a child to say it to.  It's always easier to judge when you have absolutely no responsibility for the subject yourself.

"Don't stick your dick in stupid."  It sounds like sage advice.  Maybe better advice is:  quit screwing people just because they are available.  But that woulid apply to both sexes, and might be "icky," too.

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