I recently came across this post, about how to identify a male rape supporter. The phrasing squicked me out a bit, but hey, I have definitely had some nasty surpises in terms of learning that guys I was dating weren’t quite so pro-feminism and sex-positive as I’d thought, so I gave it a bit of a read.
But I’d forgotten the Rule of Sex-Negative People: anything to do with sex that makes them feel uncomfortable is not OK, and might actually be rape. So according to this post, the following things are signs a dude might be a Rape Supporter. I chose these to highlight because they are actually things that apply to me, a feminist woman:
He characterizes prostitution as a “legitimate” “job” “choice” or defends men who purchase prostitutes.
First off, nice scare quotes. I absolutely think prostitution is a legitimate job choice. I worry about safety, and it sickens me that many involved in the industry are not there fully of their volition, but I believe that is entirely separate from the question of whether or not it’s a legitimate choice for a woman to make. Also, customers do not “purchase” prostitutes any more than your boss “purchases” you.
He has gone to a strip club.
I’ve been to strip clubs. Not on my top-100 list of favorite ways to spend a Saturday night, but I’ve gone, because the concept is interesting and I wanted to better understand it.
He is pro-”choice” because he believes abortion access will make women more sexually available.
Well, that’s certainly not the only reason, but I know that I’m a lot more “sexually available” when I know that the consequence of an “oops” doesn’t need to be fundamentally life-altering. Abortion, along with preventative birth control, makes both women and men more “available for sex” and that’s a good thing, dammit.
He frames discussions of pornography in terms of “freedom of speech.”
Yes, freedom of speech is indeed something that exists and protects porn. You don’t get to suspend freedom of speech for things you don’t agree with – that’s the whole point.
He watches pornography in which women are depicted.
I suspect the blogger left out some words here, so I won’t be too mean, but – ah, fuck it. So, what if he watches porn that only depicts men? Is that ok? Why? Because men “can’t be raped”?
He watches any pornography in which sexual acts are depicted as a struggle for power or domination, regardless of whether women are present.
Ah, that’s my favorite kind of porn. I actually got a little turned on just reading this one.
He characterizes the self-sexualizing behavior of some women, such as wearing make-up or high heels, as evidence of women’s desire to “get” a man.
Well, that’s not always what it’s about, but that’s what it’s about sometimes, no? There’s a universe of difference between acknowledging that sometimes women do want to have sex with men and being a rape apologist.
He expresses enjoyment of movies/musicals/TV shows/plays in which women are sexually demeaned or presented as sexual objects
This is damn near all media. And I don’t enjoy it for the sexual objectification (I’m less into vague, culturally-mandated objectification, and more into consensual, “you’re my fucktoy, aren’t you?” objectification) but, honestly, I’ve been conditioned to not even really notice it any more unless it’s super-obvious. And I was a women’s studies major!
He supports sexual “liberation” and claims women would have more sex with (more) men if society did not “inhibit” them.
Well, this entire blog is devoted to sexual liberation, and I would definitely have had more sex with more men if society (and radical feminism was a big part of this) had not inhibited me from accepting my kinks.
He defends the physical abuse of women on the grounds of “consent.”
Um, I kinda think she’s talking about BDSM here, and that’s totally not cool. And again, the scare-quotes around consent really piss me off. I guess my consent is invalid?
He argues that people (or just “men”) have sexual “needs.”
Wait, what? Of course people have sexual needs. I do find it irritating when people say that only men have sexual needs, but that’s because we all do.
He defends these actions by saying that some women also engage in them.
Oh hey, I see what you did there.
So I suppose I’m a rape supporter. But wait, hey, I’m a woman, not a man, so I guess I’m not?
This gets to the heart of what I find so deeply disturbing about many sex-negative feminists approaches to the “sex wars:” it’s almost as if women are non-actors. We can’t really give consent to things they find icky, like so-called “abuse,” and it doesn’t matter whether we watch porn, because obviously only men like things like that. So if we’re watching porn or being “abused” (or are engaged in sex work) it’s because our boyfriends made us do it, or maybe we were just brainwashed by the patriarchy. How fucking disempowering is that?
This is all kinds of messed up. For one thing, it trivializes consent. If we can’t actually consent to things, consent ceases to matter.
Second, it completely erases female desire and, worse, erases women with “problematic” desires. I had a bit of fun pointing out the ways that I identified with many of these “rape-supporter red flags” because I am now comfortable with my sexuality.
But if I had read this when I was in college, when my deepest, darkest secret was that I got off almost exclusively to rape stories on Literotica, I would have felt horrible. Sure, I would have known this was silly and over-the-top, but there would have been a part of me that would have said “see, you really are a bad person for having these fantasies.” I know this because that actually was how I felt, and that feeling was a big factor in why it took me so long to accept my sexuality.
Look, this is not my first time at the Feminism Rodeo by a long shot. The whole “rape culture” idea is based on the idea that women are sexual objects to be used by men, and I agree with that, to an extent (being a social scientist, I can’t totally agree with it because it’s never been proven in a peer-reviewed study). However, I think another thing that encourages rape is the idea that women are not independent sexual beings with their own desires and agency. And posts like the one I’m talking about reinforce that idea.
Also, it’s one thing to say “we live in a culture with narratives that promote rape” and whole other to say “you are a rape supporter if you do or say any of these things that, by my own admission, most men do or say.”
But really, the post pissed me off because I actually take rape seriously. Porn does not cause rape*, and being sexist does not cause rape. I’ve known “nice, aware” feminist guys who were rapists, and traditional, conservative guys who spoke up vociferously at even the slightest hint of a rape joke.
Rape is a specific act that occurs when a person’s sexual consent is violated. It’s a crime that needs to be taken seriously, not taken advantage of by those who want to push an anti-sex agenda.
Hat-tip to Dissenting Leftist, for alerting me to this post!
* According to RAINN, sexual assault rates have gone down by 60% since 1993, roughly the same time period that porn became widely available on the internet. This is actually an amazing feminist victory that we don’t hear enough about.