Q: Are men as animalistic as society portrays them to be when it comes to self-control and sexuality?
There are animalistic men in society, but these men are not the barometer by which all men should be measured. Similar to the fact that the news does not cover stories about all the planes that land safely each day, while the majority of men practice self-control, there are few public accolades for doing what you are supposed to do. Rather than ignore the obvious, let’s focus on the most evident lack of self-control and sexuality when it comes to men and women…
As many of you have noticed, I do not talk about rape. I am not immune or blind to the echo-chambers in the blogosphere on the topic, but I have largely and purposefully chosen to remain on the sidelines. I am not positive the Internet is a place to have conducive, meaningful discussions about rape, rape prevention, and rape culture. There are (justifiably) too many raw emotions, and such discussions usually dissolve to finger-pointing and trolling rather than meaningful discussion or solutions. However, today I am going to do my best to respectfully provide my opinion on the subject.
One in three women will be raped, beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime. I am not absolving men who perpetuate such crimes, and I am definitely not blaming their victims. However, this statistic shows that two in three women will not experience such unfortunate fates, so the majority of men in the world are in fact not committing such crimes. Sadly, some men are truly animalistic by their very nature, but some other men are the byproducts of the society in which they live. In my opinion, one of the overlooked issues when it comes to rape and rape culture is not that we have a rape culture (in America). The larger problem is that we encourage a culture of silence, in which rape-culture is a subset.
The fact that we promote a culture of silence permeates a plethora of issues. For example, a culture of silence allows cities like Chicago to dissolve into violence with annual homicide rates greater than most war zones; it allows a majority of financial institutions to drive the global economy into near collapse while only a minority of these same financial institutions is ever held legally responsible; and finally, as it pertains to today’s topic, it allows rapes to occur, then blame the victims (men and women) for “allowing” themselves to get raped (the phenomenon known as “victim blaming”). This is a very real problem, and these are only a few examples of an infinite number of issues that negatively impact our society, which I believe, are all allowed to fester under an overarching umbrella of a culture of silence. A culture of silence discourages at best, and punishes at worst, those who dare have the courage to speak out against the expectation that they remain silent. To address these many underlying issues, we must recognize this overlapping issue. Attempting to address the offspring of this larger issue of repressive, expectant silence without addressing the root cause of the problem is the equivalent of trying to chop down a tree by breaking off the branches.
These underlying issues will continue to grow (although rape, homicide, and violent crimes is statistically lower than ever, one rape, violent/preventable death is theoretically one too many) as long as a cultural of intolerance for victims and silence about that intolerance exist. It is difficult, if not outright impossible, to move towards a solution when we refuse to talk openly about the problem. While it may be easier to believe that all men contribute or actively participate in these problems, the truth of the matter is that many men do and will not. Yet, those men who have the audacity to speak out are often chastised, their motives questioned, and their thoughts dismissed since their faces are not representative of the more familiar victims of the crime. In some people’s minds, the majority of men are representative of the crimes perpetrated by a minority of men, rather than recognizing that some men are hostages tangled in the same web of injustice—these type of men can identify personally or know daughters, wives, sisters, and mothers who suffered similarly unfortunate fates.
Unlike some have written, I believe the first and easiest step is not to “teach men not to rape” or to “teach women not to get raped.” Instead, both men and women would benefit from focusing on teaching men to respect women as equals and women to respect and recognize themselves as equals to men. A number of these issues arise because a number of men (and some women) see themselves as unequal, often times below the former. It is much easier to repress or look down upon the rights of another human being when you do not see them as your equal. This has been demonstrated throughout history, with slavery being the most obvious example. In order to repress another or seek power over another, you often have to see them as below you or “second class.” I believe a good first step, would be to teach men to recognize and respect women as their equals – a direction, for the record, I believe we are moving in but obviously, we are not there yet.
WisdomIsMisery aka WIM uses his background as an internal auditor to provide objective, yet opinionated, qualitative and quantitative analysis on life, love, and everything in between. WIM is not a model, a model citizen, or a role model. See more of WIM on his weekly write-ups for SBM, on Twitter @WisdomIsMisery.