By Arturo R. García
By Arturo R. García
Trigger Warning: Topics include rape, domestic violence and guns
As MSNBC host Ed Schultz illustrated on Monday night, the attacks on writer and political strategist Zerlina Maxwell were not isolated behavior: they were part of a larger culture of abuse seemingly encouraged at every turn by conservative forces. And all it took to incite the rounds of racist and misogynist slurs thrown at her, apparently, was for her to say this during an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity:
I don’t want anybody to be telling women anything. I don’t want men to be telling me what to wear and how to act, not to drink. And I don’t, honestly, want you to tell me that I needed a gun in order to prevent my rape. In my case, don’t tell me if I’d only had a gun, I wouldn’t have been raped. Don’t put it on me to prevent the rape.
Besides the usual Hannity inanity–he went from victim-blaming to boasting about his own gun expertise to dismissing Maxwell’s (accurate) point that most rapes are committed by people the victim knows–Maxwell said this latest debate stirred more than the usual back-and-forth.
“What’s different about this is the intersection between guns and rape and the underlying feeling that there’s a problem of rape culture in America,” she told Schultz. “I don’t view rape culture as a partisan issue. Rape happens to Republicans as well as Democrats.”
Maxwell and Schultz’s other guest, Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher at The Nation, also pointed out that, in a way, the Republican noise machine has proven her point: when she suggested that a culture that has attacked women in the past as a matter of policy should instead re-educate its men, the only response many of its inhabitants knew how to give was to attack–to defend its privilege.
Maxwell has also followed up with a piece in Ebony.com offering five concrete tips for teaching men not to rape. In brief, they are:
- Teach young men about legal consent
- Teach young men to see women’s humanity, instead of seeing them as sexual objects there for male pleasure
- Teach young men how to express healthy masculinity
- Teach young men to believe women who come forward and not to blame the victim
- Teach young men about bystander intervention
“I’m certainly taking steps to protect my emotional health, but I will not be quiet. Because I refuse to be bullied into silence,” she told Schultz. “The whole entire point of why I went on Fox to talk about this issue that I am so passionate about is because so many women are afraid to talk about it. That’s because they are blamed and shamed into silence, and I refuse–I refuse–to be silenced.”
By Andrea Plaid
Apparently, Donald Trump, a man very concerned with whether President Obama, a Harvard-educated law professor, is just another dumb brown person riding the affirmative action ticket, wants to give $5 million dollars to charity if the President releases his college transcripts.
This is what racism looks like. Please save the, “Oh you are a typical liberal always playing the race card” response and take a moment to hear me out. First, racism is not a card. It’s a reality for many black and brown people in 2012. If you are not a person of color, it’s important you don’t find yourself quickly discounting the pervasive existence of racism in 2012, without actually speaking with a person of color. Assuming things are just better because we can drink at the same water fountain isn’t sufficient.
And, looking at what Tumblizens <3’d and reblogged the most this week, the late Bruce Lee still gets all sorts of love:
Swing by and check out what we’re <3’ing and reblogging–and commenting on–at the R’s Tumblr!
#rapeculture hurts everyone. The same rhetoric VSB spouted is used in court to make sure less than 20% of all rapists do time.
Turns out, Damon (a.k.a. The Champ) decided to create a really flip response to Zerlina Maxwell’s Ebony.com piece “Stop Telling Women How to Not Get Raped.” Despite Maxwell writing lines like these:
Our community, much like society-at-large, needs a paradigm shift as it relates to our sexual assault prevention efforts. For so long all of our energy has been directed at women, teaching them to be more “ladylike” and to not be “promiscuous” to not drink too much or to not wear a skirt. Newsflash: men don’t decide to become rapists because they spot a woman dressed like a video vixen or because a girl has been sexually assertive.
How about we teach young men when a woman says stop, they stop? How about we teach young men that when a woman has too much to drink that they should not have sex with her, if for no other reason but to protect themselves from being accused of a crime? How about we teach young men that when they see their friends doing something inappropriate to intervene or to stop being friends? The culture that allows men to violate women will continue to flourish so long as there is no great social consequence for men who do so.
Damon still decided to write his piece, essentially asking this question:
But, why can’t both genders be educated on how to act responsibility around each other? What’s stopping us from steadfastly instilling “No always means no!” in the minds of all men and boys and educating women how not to put themselves in certain situations? Of course men shouldn’t attempt to have sex with a woman who’s too drunk to say no, but what’s wrong with reminding women that if you’re 5’1 and 110 pounds, it’s probably not the best idea to take eight shots of Patron while on the first, second, or thirteenth date? Yes, sober women definitely get raped too, but being sober and aware does decrease the likelihood that harm may come your way, and that’s true for each gender.
It seems as if the considerable push back again victim-blaming has pushed all the way past prudence and levelheadedness, making anyone who suggests that “women can actually be taught how to behave too” insensitive or a “rape enabler.” And, while the sentiment in Maxwell’s article suggests that victim-blaming is dangerous, I think it’s even more dangerous to neglect to remind young women that, while it’s never their fault if they happen to get sexually assaulted, they shouldn’t thumb their noses to common sense either.
Damon’s already (somewhat) apologized and been raked over the coals by folks on his site, Twitter, and Tumblr.
So my goal in writing this piece isn’t to hold him accountable–that’s already gone on. My goal in writing this is to answer his question. And since I recently gave a talk at Swarthmore on rape culture, I just so happen to have a bunch of examples and facts right at my fingertips.