drcuriosity: (Flat cap.)
[personal profile] drcuriosity

I posted this comic to Facebook earlier in the day. While I was work, the comments blew up a bit. Mostly, I think, because the first panel mentions "rape culture", which is like a red rag to a bull for some dudes. For posterity, I'm writing down some of my thoughts about the topic here as well.
  • The term "rape culture" is one that gets a lot of people defensive. It's not new - it's been around since the '70s, though more often used in academic circles. The internet has certainly widened its spread, along with misconceptions about what it means and doesn't mean. Some people - including some feminists - get it totally wrong, and/or use the term in a combative rather than a constructive way.

  • Labels aside, there's evidence from criminology that some significant proportion of convicted male rapists have the belief that their attitudes about women (and sometimes men, especially effeminate ones) are normal. That what they think is what other men think, and what they do is what other men would do "if they had the balls to". It's not a common pathology in female rapists - they tend to have other messed-up reasons. There are also similar attitudes in other kinds of violence as well, gendered or otherwise.

  • The way we talk about each other, the jokes we make, do have an impact on our peers. With people who have difficulty with empathy, interpersonal relationships, romantic expectations, power dynamics... the "jokes" and "locker room talk" are seen through a different lens. They reinforce the idea that their urges are a normal part of society, even if there are laws against taking things too far for the sake of "political correctness". That's a thing we can try to combat by being mindful of the messages we send to each other.

  • My reason for posting this wasn't to say "omg, rape culture is bad, mmkay!", but because it encourages a constructive, positive model of masculinity where connecting with a woman is about connecting with a person, and that empathy isn't something you should shy away from as a form of weakness.

  • That "feelings are for the weak!" attitude just leads to a brittle idea of manliness that can hurt the people around us, yes, but definitely hurts men too. We try to be too hard, and in doing so it only makes us easier to break. Hardness isn't resilience, which is what we really need to be good at being functional humans.

  • This isn't just about being nicer to women for women's sake. It's about being a man in a healthy way, encouraging healthy relationships that will in turn be more supportive for us when we're having a challenging time of things. I feel that kind of cultural change also allows men to have better quality relationships with each other, too.

  • Women can support this as well by being supportive and encouraging of men who're trying to break that brittle model of masculinity. Acknowledging that it is a struggle to step away from that hardness when you've been raised into it, and broadening their expectations for men's behaviour accordingly too.

  • Individuals having more focus on men's rights and women's rights is fine, as long as it's not oppositional. Rights are not a zero sum game. Respect is not a zero sum game; we all benefit if everyone has more of it. Privilege imbalances happen, sometimes in both directions at the same time. But then, it shouldn't be a race to see who gets the most or even who's the most hard done by, either.

  • It's going to be bloody hard reach a fair, equitable society if we keep treating 50% of the population as an enemy that we have to fight to win power from. We all need to be on the same side of this - supporting men and women and healthy relationships between the two - if our society is going to be a better place to live in.

  • (And yes, also for people who don't have binary genders and sexualities too, even if that's a little off-topic for this particular conversation.)
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