When men imagine a female uprising, they imagine a world in which women rule men as men have ruled women.
There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.
A disproportionate focus on the way men’s lives are affected by rape accusations has an important role to play in rape culture. It reverses the power dynamics, positioning accusers as aggressors. Suddenly it is no longer the alleged crime, but its reporting that is the act of violence. It increases the pressure on victims who might already feel intimidated, asking “are you sure you want to make such a fuss? Are you aware of the damage you’ll do? Haven’t you got enough shame to deal with already?” It’s another form of victim blaming and it’s another way in which victims are seen as less than human, faceless objects in relation to which potential perpetrators have the right to define themselves again and again.
She knew that girls were lesser beings. Her mother’s voice whispered that she had been a son and heir.
On the contrary. You are suffering from hysteria. Most of your sex do, at some time in their lives.
Domestic violence causes more death and disability amongst women aged between sixteen and forty-four than cancer or traffic accidents. Yet front-page headlines of an epidemic are nowhere to be seen. Girls and women are taught it is their daily responsibility to mitigate the threat of rape by being careful what they drink and not walking home alone at night - as if shielding their body from the natural elements. Yet when the threat materialises and the perpetrator comes into frame, he is portrayed as an unnatural being, a beast or a stranger; else the victim herself is implicated and the rape denied. And while the UK government is able to predict that 100,000 women will be raped each year in Britain - equivalent to 2,000 women a week - only 6.5 per cent of those that are reported to the police end in the conviction of a perpetrator, and there is little public discussion and the aspects of our culture that encourage so many men to choose to rape women.
It’s not a one-way street. It’s a spaghetti junction. But while it is interesting and informative to digest Sandberg’s learning, we also need to broaden the perspective. Sandberg has already “made it”. Perhaps we should listen more attentively to those on the bottom rung, because they’re the ones who need the assistance. Our obsession with the Rising Star, or the Leader, sidelines the “others”. And it fosters a crude belief that if one woman can “make it” on the basis of their own individual initiative, then that is the case for all. But that’s an individualistic approach, not a collective one.
Easter break break from blogging. Enjoy a few days off, if you’re taking some.
[Rape culture] is, simply put, a culture which makes violence against women appear normal. This normalization of violence against women consequently leads to a myriad of things whereby the violence against women becomes accepted, even encouraged, and people therefore have the tendency to blame the victim of the violence (the woman) before they blame the perpetrator of the violence (the man). In short, this all fosters an environment for which rape, the worst act of violence against women (with the possible exception of murder), can occur.