Friday, June 12, 2015

A Reader Writes: "All of This Talk of 'Biology' and 'How Do Their Mothers Let Them Wear That?' Boils Down to the 'Boys Will Be Boys Who Just Can't Keep Their Willies in Their Pants' Argument"

And another powerful, thoughtful comment by a contributor to our discussion several days ago of the apparent genetic* link between rigid patriarchal religion and abuse of women and children — this from Dulcis Memoria:

As I read through the comments here, it occurs to me that elements of our conversation here [are] contributing to rape culture in a very insidious way: It is limiting the discussion to female rape victims who may or may not be of age. 10% of all rape victims are male. 15% of rape victims are under 12. 29% of rape victims are between 12-17. 
I [am] seeing a lot of pearl clutching over the "immodest dress" of females, which seems to be "inviting" unwanted attention. So, please tell me what kind of dress code incites a man to rape another man? Or a six year old? All of this talk of "biology" and "how do their mothers let them wear that?" boils down to the "boys will be boys who just can't keep their willies in their pants" argument which seems to be what all of us have been hearing ad nauseum from the Duggars and the catholic hierarchy. 
So let's hear it. What should a man wear to ensure that he avoids rape? I guess prison orange jumpsuits are out of the question? And no sarongs at the Grateful Dead concerts, lest someone thinks by gender bending I'm simply asking for it. If dress code is such a compelling factor in rape, why don't we see rampant sexual assaults at all nudist colonies and beaches. 
Rape is an act of violence and domination disguised as a sexual act. Let's not let our personal sexual mores color (or, more importantly, discolor) our ability to advocate for victims.

I value this comment because it frames the discussion sharply around what should be the heart of the discussion, in my view: this is the ungrounded claim of some human beings, on the basis of gender (and/or sexual orientation) to a right to lord it over other human beings on the basis of gender and sexual orientation. As Dulcis Memoria says, "All of this talk of 'biology'" plays right into the hands of the Duggars and the Catholic hierarchy, who do not want us to thing critically about the male-female power dynamics at work in these stories.

I'm also struck by the comment about gender bending and men wearing sarongs at Grateful Dead concerts. As Dulcis Memoria asks, Are those who experience sexual violence because they transgress gender lines others regard as fixed simply asking for it by dressing and behaving in a provocative way?

That's the usual rationale given by men who beat transgender women to death. Nor is this an academic point to make here. It's a critically topical point right now, given the number of black transgender women — people at the very bottom of the totem pole of power in our society, due to race, gender, and the cross-gender issue — being murdered these days.

*Genetic as in "of or relating to origin."

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