Real Men Blame the Rapist, Not the Rape Victim

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I attended this weekend's SlutWalk Minneapolis with my three-year-old daughter, because I want her to grow up knowing nobody has the right to tell her avoiding rape is her responsibility. Or that she needs to police her look and behavior but a boy does not. As another mother said, she brought her six-year-old daughter (pictured in below video) because "she wanted her daughter to know that nobody has a right to her body." Her body is hersand no one has the right to do anything to it that she doesn't want.

Heading to the walk, I told my daughter SlutWalk is about celebrating girls and women. She said we should celebrate boys too.

Photo: Mari Milewski

Indeed. We need to foster a culture where boys and girls respect and trust each other. Where girls' and boys' fears and insecurities about sexuality--including when it comes to their own budding bodies as well as those of the opposite sex--are addressed. Through positive sex education that equips both girls and boys to approach sex with knowledge, respect and integrity.

Boys who "can't help themselves" are boys who've been shamed into wrongly thinking this is in fact so.

Photo: Mari Milewski

That this way of thinking is perpetuated by abstinence-only programs offered by a large amount of schools across the American nation should be of grave concern to us all. Girls and boys alike need comprehensive information about sex, including sexual desire and pleasure. They need to be empowered to own their desire. To learn that it is okay to say no and also to say YES when THEY want it. And to articulate what precisely this means.

Girls and boys will engage in sex. Unfortunately, in the United States, they often do so unsafely because it is done in secret and in shame. And because girls have been told "boys can't help themselves," and that they themselves are "sluts" if they want sex.

Sexual repression backfires on itself in devastating ways. When sex is experienced as something forbidden and taboo, lust becomes shameful. Shame easily spirals into anger and resentment. And an ashamed person might direct those feelings against that which arouses him. Through disrespect and degradation. And in worse cases: physical violence and sexual assault.

Photo: Mari Milewski

SlutWalk forces our attention to understand rape. Rape by men who purportedly can't help themselves because "they're just guys."

SlutWalk reminds us this isn't true. SlutWalk asks us to put the blame where it belongs.

You can't blame the victim.You have to blame the rapist.
 

Barbara Peterson who speaks in the above video also gave the concluding address at SlutWalk Minneapolis. Peterson spoke as the Vice President of Minnesota NOW--the multi-issue, grassroots advocate working for women's rights in Minnesota--and also as a Chicago police officer taking issue with the Toronto-based officer who incited the SlutWalk movement with his suggestion women bring rape onto themselves by dressing "like sluts." As Peterson pointed out, real men know how to control themselves. Real men can help themselves. Real men blame the rapist, not the rape victim.

Here's a video of the walk:

 

And here is Pioneer Press' feature on the walk with more photos. Excerpt:

Several hundred people - women, men and children - attended the march Saturday across the Mississippi River from downtown Minneapolis.


A small number of them dressed in corsets, miniskirts, high heels and fishnet stockings to emphasize a message that provocative clothing is not a form of consent.


"This is a dress, not a 'yes,' " several signs proclaimed.

 

And a substantial interview with the walk's lead organizer Kimberia Sherva is here. Excerpt:

Patch: What can you say to a young man, in his teens or early twenties, to teach him and his peers how NOT to perpetuate the rape culture in our society?

Sherva giving her thanks at the event


Sherva: First of all, let’s say they’re going off to school to college and they go to a party, because that’s what happens, and let’s say there is a group of their guy friends and one of the guys says, "See that girl there, she’s kind of drunk, dude, I’m going to get lucky tonight." What’s the thing to do? Teach those young men to step up and say, “Dude, you’d better not, don’t you touch her, and if you DO try anything and we hear about it, that we will testify that this is what you said and you’re gonna go to jail, so you’d better think twice."


And teach them to have respect for their OWN bodies. Because boys can be raped, too. It might not be the physical overpowering that is the norm, but emotional overpowering. They have the right to say no, too, they don’t have to have sex. But through guilt or pressure they may be forced into it. Being able to state “I’m not up for that, I’m not ready for that, I don’t want that type of commitment yet” even when a partner states "Oh c’mon, you love me, you look so hot, I thought you really wanted this"—well, that goes both ways. For kids who always want to be seen as cool or popular, that’s a pressure cooker. It starts even in middle school, and it keeps perpetrating itself through high school, college, and into adulthood.


Kids need to learn what appropriate sexual behavior is and what is not, so that when they’re faced with the type of situation where they could become a victim or see a situation that could become one, they can say ‘I know what to do’, know how to stop it, and know that they are making the correct choice regardless of peer pressure.

 

Originally posted at LOVE, SEX, AND FAMILY.

Quizzical mama, aka Anne G. Sabo, PhD, is a former academic turned mama and sex blogger who recently founded LOVE, SEX, AND FAMILY, a site devoted to progressive human sexuality information. As a college professor, she taught numerous courses in women's and film studies. In her New porn by women blog she writes about sexual politics and re-visioned porn. Her Quizzical mama blog is an educated and personal approach to the politics and philosophies of parenting, often addressing controversial issues and reflecting on different cultural values and practices in the US and her native Norway. She lives in a small Minnesotan college town just south of the Twin Cities with her husband and their toddler daughter. (Photo: Agnete Brun)

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