So, in the wake of the Stuebenville convictions, and the pitiful sentences handed down, I attempted a conversation with my boyfriend this morning about rape culture…
Mayo: So now all the news outlets are going on and on about the poor widdle rapists and how their lives are ruined. UGH.
DB: Wait, Are you SEROUS?
DB: But that doesn’t doesn’t even make any SENSE!!!!
That’s my DB. He’s a good person. Not a “Nice Guy” but a genuinely good person. He’s also very sheltered by his privilege. Apparently this morning, in conversation with me, was the first time he’d discovered the sheer prevalence of rape culture. To DB, the adherents of such behavior are few, far between, and about as universally ridiculed as openly racist people shouting racial slurs on the street corner, rather than approximately as multitudinous and tacitly approved of as homophobes and transphobes, who still think they don’t “count” as bigots because they’re right, and God is on their side. But even as sheltered as he is, it took him less than half a second once provided a window into Rape Culture, to intuitively understand that it’s fucked up wrong. This is why he’s a good person.
Mayo: It doesn’t have to make sense, they’re MRAs.
DB: I don’t understand how they can even TRY and say that it was her fault. She was unconscious!!! How does an unconscious person agree to sex?
Mayo: They don’t understand the concept of enthusiastic consent. They’re on about how she didn’t clearly and firmly say “no” so it wasn’t rape.
DB: What’s enthusiastic consent?
Mayo: The idea that she doesn’t have to say “NO,” but the lack of a “YES” means there’s no consent.
DB: But there IS no consent without a YES!!!!!
At this point the poor dear is incredibly flustered and incredibly shrill. He’s never heard of enthusiastic consent because he’s never heard of any OTHER kid of consent. Either she said yes, completely in the absence of any type of coercion, or it’s not on.
Mayo: I know that, and you know that, but you’d be surprised the number of people who don’t get that, and that’s where you get these kinds of people on the internet moaning on about how the girl should take responsibility for her part in her own freaking rape, and be punished along with the boys who did it.
DB: But… that’s not how consent works! That’s not how being a DECENT PERSON Works!!! THAT’S NOT HOW BEING A HUMAN BEING WORKS!!!!
Now what’s the point in relaying this story, beyond the fact that it’s mildly amusing his brains breaking like this? The point is that even as divorced as he is from it, DB provides proof of the existence of rape culture. He and other children raised like him, somehow isolated from and blind to such influences, don’t even comprehend the idea. There is no overriding human nature that creates these ideas in the minds of men. They are not reacting as is “natural” to a society that has “stripped their manhood” or denied them sex. They are raised on the idea that they are somehow entitled to sex, and that women’s default position is not NO but YES, they are TAUGHT Rape Culture. It’s not something that just happens, and there IS another way.
And we need to stop teaching them that, and teach them how being a human being REALLY works.