There continues to be confusion in some circles regarding the difference between “boys being boys”, outright sexual assault (at worst) and promoting rape culture (at best). For those who remain perplexed, here’s a handy guide.
On the left, vulgar descriptions of the female form and pathetic bravado regarding failed sexual conquests. Yes, they’re icky and more indicative of a teenager’s vocabulary and emotional maturity than one would hope exists in a man pushing 60. But disgusting as they may be, they’re not inherently dangerous and likely wouldn’t even make the Donald Trump Top 20 Countdown of awful statements.
On the right, however, are terrifying proof points of a man who deems women mere accessories to his whims. You want us? Well by all means, kiss us. Grab us by the genitals. As long as your breath is Tic Tac fresh and you’re a “celebrity”, we certainly won’t mind. In fact, it’s what we long for.
What’s almost as disturbing is his unwillingness to take responsibility for the repugnancy of his statements. His demeanor seems to say, what’s the big deal?
Well here’s the big deal, Donald. We live in a country where roughly one out of every six women have been the victim of an attempted or a completed rape in their lifetime. We live in a society where women are objectified past the point of recognition. Where we’re told our value is measured in inches and intimate acts. Where we coexist with dangerous duds who see us as property. An expectation. A trophy or a triumph. A society where, long before 42 years of age, a friend of mine and I were chased by a masturbating man into a phone booth, trapped until he climaxed. Where a doctor had the audacity to grope me during an examination, with my mother in the room. And where I was held against a wall in a dark club by my throat for being “a tease” three bars earlier. This doesn’t even count the cat-calls, unwanted touching, sexual advances or the instances intimacy was tinged with expectation and entitlement. All this time, I felt “lucky” not to have been raped, accepting these sins against my body and soul as the toll for residing in a female form. Because this is what men like you want us to believe. But screw that. I’m done. We’re done. We, your mothers, sisters, daughters, lovers, friends, co-workers and cohabitants of this crazy existence, we deserve much, much more.
So the next time you’re in a “locker room”, feel free to talk about how luscious our bodies (and spirits) are. Feel free to embellish your sexual prowess and recount how we rock your world. But never, for one second forget that we are grace and power incarnate. Any intimacy we share with you is on-loan – ours to bestow and rescind as we see fit. And never forget this gift is our most sacred offering. Most men know this. And we love you for it. For those of you who don’t, now is your chance to learn.