Best Essay Explains Misogyny and Rape Culture in a Way that Men Can Understand

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 .. .

Flickr/Creative Commons

Flickr/Creative Commons

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.

Zaron Burnett III public domain image

Zaron Burnett III
public domain image

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.







Misogyny in the news, at last

Editor’s Note: There are few if any links in this post about the recent mass murderer because we have to stop sensationalizing perpetrators instead of sympathizing with the victims.


[Unfortunately]. . . we don’t see misogyny as an ideology, we see it as a given for young men.

— Jessica Valenti, Author, Guardian columnist, and founder of Feministing.com (@JessicaValenti)

God bless the most recent mass shooting victims. Their senseless sacrifice may mark the beginning of a serious discussion about the evils of misogyny, and Valenti is among the few journalists to hit the nail on the head about the root cause of this tragedy, and all the proceeding tragedies, not just mass murders but the 8 youths murdered every day in this country and the thousands of honor killings in places like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and, of course, rape.



The roots of racial, sexual, and gender oppression are both overly established and overly ignored, and delaying The New Age of Sexual Freedom.

Misogyny is so endemic in our culture, such a root cause of so many ills (wars, starvation, inequality), women don’t even realize they are unknowingly (and often knowingly) themselves instrumental in strengthening these suffocating roots. Mothers teach their toddlers what their mothers taught them about deference to males. Even ardent feminists might not curtail this deferential behavior in every instance of child-rearing. That is our sad state of affairs, and activists working on all fronts have to keep this subject on the front burner now that it has a running start no matter what their special focus is because each one can trace its roots to misogyny and sexual and racial oppression at the core.

While  ignoring the enlarged picture of how much sexual oppression permeates and is ruining society, most media coverage of this recent mass shooting has shown so little restraint in glamorizing the young and good-looking man that is responsible, much more than for his young and not-so-camera-ready predecessors who didn’t leave behind long manifestos and polished YouTube selfless.  

Media is just another corporation commercializing the misery of the powerless after all, but still. Even liberal media are fawning over this kid and making his victims practically invisible in their coverage, because, shucks, he’s so attractive-looking. 

But there’s something different this time. In the California shooting we are presented with a shooter directly from central casting, a beautiful, erudite boy at war with himself, whose actions are not summarily damned but analyzed in a way to explain his heinous behavior.  This is so much more interesting than profiling any of his victims. What’s the matter with us?

Organizations such as Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence are there educate us and deserve our support, by why do we continue having so much trouble galvanizing grassroots action, boots on the ground, to challenge the notion that 8 children can be murdered everyday in this country because its just the cost of being an open (and armed) society. This daily tragedy and shame is only highlighted when there is a mass shooting because there is an expected and familiar script, a storm of consumer interest then radio silence again.

In a world we we care for each other and understand the implications of our action, male privilege is no longer a given, it doesn’t exist at all. Like any other privilege it is something only to be selflessly bestowed on those with less privilege. Those that don’t yet understand this essential truth are impoverished in a way that no conquest or accomplishment can ever rectify, so we must god bless them too, and pray that they someday soon obtain the values to understand their own behavior and change it, for their sake and for the rest of us.


Also see:

VIDEO: Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes (@ChrisHayes) discuss misogyny embedded in our culture

A Gentleman’s Guide to Rape Culture

“If I Can’t Have Them, No One Will”: How Misogyny Kills Men