Tuesday, March 19, 2013

On how our attempts to be "sex positive" have perpetuated rape culture


I write about sex in various ways and in various areanas. Sometimes gratuitously and sometimes all fluffy and romantic-like. I'm "sex positive". I don't think we should be secretive about it and I don't think we should be ostriches about it. Sex is healthy, sex is wonderful, and sex is fun.

Yet, somehow, this whole sexual revolution and goal of taking the taboo out of sex has only made women MORE vulnerable. We swung too far in the other direction. Women got the message that it was not their job not to be prim and proper anymore but to be a walking sexual fantasy and men somehow missed the memo that acknowledging women-as-sexual-beings does NOT mean that's ALL we are. 


How is it that men feel burdened by the fact that they could be accused of rape? Cry me a fucking river.  Try living your every day in a culture that tells you if you're raped it's because YOU didn't protect yourself.

Women live on edge constantly. Is it safe to be in the stairwell at work with the guy from accounting? It's your third date with this new guy; will he be expecting sex and if so, how far will he go to meet that expectation? Can you even allow him to pick you up and drive you home or should you take your own car? Does your guy friend from physics class really want to walk you home after lab to make sure your safe or is he the one that's dangerous? Don't go places alone. Don't wear short skirts. Don't flirt too much. Don't. Don't. Don't.

We grow up being taught all of the ways to not get raped. And with this education comes the underlying message that it's the victims fault. So deeply ingrained is that message that you have women blaming other women for the very violence they fear.

It's her fault. She deserved it. She was asking for it. She should have fought harder. She should have known better.

And BY THE WAY, how is a passed out unconscious woman sexually arousing? What are we teaching our boys that makes them react in arousal? How are they not repulsed by the very idea of violating someone? What's more frightening is that goddamnit it's the woman's fault. Wouldn't it be awesome if women could go to parties, wear flattering clothes, and oh, I dunno, WALK DOWN THE STREET without worrying about being violated?

Where is the education for men on how not to rape? We are still teaching our men that when a woman says "no" she's being coy. That if a woman is sexually aroused she "wants it"  (thanks Fifty Shades of Grey for perpetuating that one). That if a woman is unsure, that's a man's cue to TALK HER INTO IT. And if she's ever ever ever had sex before, she definitely wants it from you, because if she wants one cock, she wants them all, right? (Please note my sarcasm).

And what's worse is the very industry I work in perpetuates these fallacies in the majority of the books published. Women are still revered as virgins and shamed when they're not. They can only have sex with ONE man, regardless of how many women he has sex with. And so on and so forth. Who writes the books? Predominantly women. And that right there is proof of how brainwashed we really are by rape culture.

I grew up around adolescents who were prime examples of this. I went to high school somewhere that was frighteningly like Stubenville without the awesome football team. Small town, upper middle class, and fiercely protective of their popular kids. Rape culture was prominent. I feel like I lived through a bad Lifetime movie. But I survived, as many of us do. Then again surviving is not living.

I'm tired of it, my friends. I'm tired of bearing the weight of men refusing to take responsibility for their actions and refusing to elevate to a higher emotional state (one that consists of more empathy and less self serving bullshit). I'm tired of living in fear. I'm tired of worrying how I will protect my daughters. I'm tired of being angry and I'm tired of being a woman.

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