“Teach Men Not To Rape” is a slogan one commonly hears when discussing rape and rape-related topics online, often accompanied with accusations that someone has been engaging in victim-blaming of rape victims. A notable recent example of this was when Slate’s Emily Yoffe criticised the culture of heavy drinking on college campuses in relation to their reported incidences of rape and sexual assaults.
So, is telling women to stop being so drunk really the best advice you can give people to prevent rape? It’s like telling people not to drive late at night because they might die at the hands of a drunk driver — these people aren’t breaking the law, yet they’re the ones being targeted and asked to compromise their lives. What about teaching men not to rape?
I’m attempting to keep this one short, and yet there’s so much I could say about what’s wrong with this slogan – aside from its reinforcement of the notion that rape is only notable when done by men (see also “Teach Black People Not To Steal”, “Teach Jewish People Not To Defraud”, and “Teach Muslims Not To Blow Up Buildings”).
But I recently realised that for all the rapes that are committed by men, they (and society at large) are at least cognisant of the fact that it is possible for men to rape. One of the reasons I believe in actively agitating for men and men’s issues and not simply assuming they will be resolved by simply addressing women’s issues is due to the number of times I’ve had to explain to people – women included – how it is even physically possible for women to rape men. Indeed, society in general tends to downplay this possibility – one only has to look at the gendered definition of rape in the UK, where it can only be committed by penetration with a penis.
As much as any of these issues imply any sort of collective responsibility, men do have a long way to go when it comes to reducing the number of male rapists. But we need to be “taught not to rape”?
We at least know we *can* rape – which is more than I can say for a lot of the women I’ve encountered, who are ignorant of the fact that women can rape. I’m not sure who is in more urgent need of instruction here. We might not be A-students, but in that particular classroom, we’re outperforming the women.
Teach Men Not To Rape? Teach Women They CAN Rape.