Teach Men Not To Rape? We’re top of the class.

“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.


He for she – and she for he?

So as a nice, simple starter for my misadventures into blogging on gender issues, I thought I’d try and get the attention of a Hollywood film star (in a completely non-dodgy way).  No biggie.

In response to http://www.heforshe.org/EmmaWatsonSpeech.pdf

Re: Your invitation

Dear Ms. Watson,

Many thanks for your formal invitation to sign the He For She pledge.  However, I regret to inform you that I must decline.

I find myself quite disappointed to do so, actually – I was pleasantly surprised to note that in your speech, you acknowledge that men faced gender issues of their own as well.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing so in the UN.  But I think you actually aren’t the right person for this campaign.

Please hear me out – it’s not because you’re the Harry Potter girl.  It’s because from what I can tell, the He for She initiative isn’t actually focusing on those gender issues that affect men that you were so thoughtful to mention.  It is presenting itself as a movement to get men to help with women’s issues.  The pledge you invited us to sign reads as follows:

Gender equality is not only a women’s issue, it is a human rights issue that requires my participation. I commit to take action against all forms of violence and discrimination faced by women and girls.

Why, if both genders are facing gender issues and are in need of gender equality (as you correctly pointed out) is this campaign doing what so many other gender equality campaigns have done – and that’s to focus only on the issues affecting women?  Violence and discrimination affects boys and men also – often in many of the same ways that girls and women are affected.  (By way of examples, I refer you to the genital mutilation of men, the forced marriage of boys, and the rape of men in warzones).

Sadly, this is all too common an approach, with men being appealed to as men to help solve women’s problems, often with group responsibilty being imposed on them in a way that is not considered acceptable when done to other groups.  Often this is done by the very same people who claim to be seeking equality.  (Since you wondered, while I acknowledge that not all feminists behave this way, it is my experiences with this sort of behaviour among feminists that have made me disclined to identify as one).


(Taken from The Guardian’s Comment is Free section)

I don’t think you’re the right person for He for She for the simple reason that you are much more fair-minded and egalitarian than its campaign is.  I could be wrong, of course.  You do not have my pledge – however, you do have my attention.  As UN ambassador for Women, you might well be the one who can make this campaign as egalitarian as your speech.

If you are able to do so, then you will have my pledge as well.

Wishing you every success and happiness,