A Gentleman’s Guide to Rape Culture
We are so grateful to author and actor Zaron Burnett (@zaron3) and Medium (@medium) for bringing his essay that puts misogyny and rape culture in a feminist perspective. It is a must-read for every young (and old) man, women too. It continues the important conversation that has finally (and thankfully) been thrust onto the front burner due to recent events.
Within just a few paragraphs like this one, Zaron transported me back over 40 years ago when these ideas were rightly assumed by the many men who identified as feminists, the most authentic males in my orbit, including my dear partner and husband, Dan Massey, who went on to higher shores recently. These guys, straight, gay, bisexual, and trans, that were with us from the beginning were the most beautiful creatures to us: Behold, The Man!
When I cross a parking lot at night and see a woman ahead of me, I do whatever I feel is appropriate to make her aware of me so that a) I don’t startle her b) she has time to make herself feel safe/comfortable and c) if it’s possible, I can approach in a way that’s clearly friendly, in order to let her know I’m not a threat. I do this because I’m a man.
This is how men behaved in the early feminist movement, it was about being good men, authentic men, giving comfort and safety to the other half of the population while supporting a movement that explicitly stands for political and social justice. Male feminists wanted (and should want to adopt) this perspective because it replaced the awful predatory, conquering control of women they were taught at their parents’ knee and saw among their male peers. Very unfortunately, as feminism aged and stays lodged in radical feminism which express their hatred of men particularly transwomen, it has failed to keep alive the idea that feminism isn’t just for women.
It was always intentionally co-ed and had to do with your perspective on the world and how you wanted to make it better, how you wanted to destroy coercive systems, such as reproduction legislation, preserve good things about the world, such as hospice started in the 11th century, and create new, more human and voluntary systems, such as abortions that are private between a woman, her doctor, and her family. Feminist issues have no gender boundaries.
Zaron continues .. .
If you are a man, you are part of rape culture. I know … that sounds rough. You’re not a rapist, necessarily. But you do perpetuate the attitudes and behaviors commonly referred to as rape culture.
You may be thinking, “Now, hold up, Zaron! You don’t know me, homey! I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let you say I’m some sorta fan of rape. That’s not me, man!”
I totally know how you feel. That was pretty much exactly my response when someone told me I was a part of rape culture. It sounds horrible. But just imagine moving through the world, always afraid you could be raped. That’s even worse! Rape culture sucks for everyone involved. But don’t get hung up on the terminology. Don’t concentrate on the words that offend you and ignore what they’re pointing to — the words “rape culture” aren’t the problem. The reality they describe is the problem.
Men are the primary agents and sustainers of rape culture.
Rape isn’t exclusively committed by men. Women aren’t the only victims — men rape men, women rape men — but what makes rape a men’s problem, our problem, is the fact that men commit 99% of reported rapes.
How are you part of rape culture? Well, I hate to say it, but it’s because you’re a man.
The essay goes on to explain it all in great detail. I’m bringing it to every man (and woman) I know because it is so important and educational. It is guaranteed to make you more of man and more of a human as soon as you finish reading it.
See also: An Open Letter to Privileged People Who Play Devil’s Advocate (via Feministing) and Misogyny in the News, At Last.