Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: I Never Been ta Borstal

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  • mark taslov,

    Thanks for replying Steven I’m glad to get some feedback. With this term rape culture I believe we need to be more careful. It was coined by the social or mainstream media, its origins are commonly traced to second wave feminists in the 1970s, it was rightly coined to address the issues of the time.

    Previously, according to Canadian psychology professor Alexandra Rutherford, most Americans assumed that rape, incest, and wife-beating rarely happened

    This is no longer that time. I wasn’t even born at then. As with any term it’s interpretation may mean as many things to as many people. What is important to note is that the first published use of the term occurred in Rape: The First Sourcebook for Women, edited by sociologist/ activist Noreen Connell rather than by some journo with a pocketful of reckons in order to make rent. What most people tend to agree on is that

    Rape culture is a sociological concept used to describe a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalized

    Just because Chlöe Swarbrick tells us this is “fresh terminology” doesn’t erase the fact that it’s older than both of us, neither does it prevent men getting raped.

    We may expand that to include all settings in which rape is pervasive and normalised in order to better understand how we are normalising rape itself or we may continue to treat sexual assault as heteronormative gendered issue. And use discussion about “rape culture” as means to push oppositional-sexist agenda and suppress marginalised voices.

    Since the Roastbusters scandal, messages such as “your sons are all potential rapists” have been pushed hard and one might argue that this would have made some impact. That’s another generation of New Zealand boys with a point to prove. More importantly why are these journalists, editors and producers working so hard, expending so many words to cover up the actions of female rapists? What are the societal benefits of that?

    My interpretation, is that it is about male assumptions of entitlement to sexual gratification, divorced of empathy toward the female involved. It’s about learned behaviour.

    This is important. This learnedness. These male assumptions of entitlement to sexual gratification aren’t being mitigated by articles telling them that these assumptions are the norm, are what we expect, that boys are rapists-in-waiting and girls are not is a dangerous message. Conformists eat that up.

    Female assumptions of entitlement to sexual gratification aren’t addressed. The messaging inextricably links being a male or a man with misanthropy, objectification and rape. The message inextricably links being a female or a woman with passivity and victimhood. We’re pushing stereotypes, telling boys that their inner rapist is something to internally wrestle with regardless of the fact that most people don’t have an inner rapist – we are reinforcing gendered stereotypes rather than attempting to deconstruct the binary.

    Even if you would swear that he’s not hanging out in hyper-masculine online forums, engaging in cyber abuse on social media, playing violent and misogynistic video games, listening to sexist music or participating in secret Facebook groups where boys go to make rape jokes and discuss harassing women, it’s highly likely that he has at least one friend who is.

    Perhaps a son does all of that, or perhaps he does none of it and just happened to catch Trump on TV saying “grab em by the pussy” and noted that he’s now President of the Free World. We’re pushing the ideology that members of a gender are birds of a feather so…. we’re constantly reinforcing the idea that the son shares more in common with Trump than the person telling him that he’s a potential rapist. That they are of a type – a type that quashes all other intersections. Whatever this gender divisiveness achieves, true empathy it will not.

    Individuals may respond by correcting certain behaviours but the essence of the message – like a lot of what we’ve heard – is undeniably that “boys are different”. Boys are different because they lack empathy, boys lack empathy because they’re different, a bumbling ferris wheel of generalisation. Another reason for rape victims not to come forward.

    At the same time, once the misogynist apologises we welcome them back with open arms and give them a place in the Labour party. Teenagers see this, the reality that they can say and do what they want might at some point require an apology but if they can reach a position where they are venerated sufficiently it’ll be nothing more than a blip on their record. Kuggeleijn goes free.

    Ideally messaging would focus exclusively on the behaviours perceived to normalise rape regardless of gender – it’s the behaviour that is the issue here right?

    Is it not?

    I’m confused if we’re even talking about behaviour when we’re ignoring so much behaviour on account of gender. This is how these campaigns function in New Zealand.

    It’s never a good thing to have people yelling. When people are yelling it’s invariably because things are wrong. But if the yell is unstudied, if it is thoughtless and superficial, if it’s pushing myth and stereotype, if it’s Duncan Garner telling us we much teach our sons consent while putting no mind into teaching his daughters consent, then we’re simply going to entrench positions further. It’s convenient cover for rapists.

    One of the things folk are unlikely to be taught in teacher training is “Don’t yell at your students” because that’s common sense. If we’re serious about imparting a message meaningfully why alienate the subject from the outset?

    Are prepared to have conversations about rape when there isn’t some high profile scandal? Seldom, becuase it’s just money driving this steven, what they can sell. These aren’t particularly well considered evidence based opinions, these are not universal ideas for the betterment of society as a whole. These are cisnormative articles every one of them.

    I can understand what you’re saying about gang culture or prison culture, but these require very specific environments. What I’m looking for here is a sociological concept to describe a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalized that is not exclusionary

    of rape victims.

    What is the benefit of limiting the definition of “rape culture” to exclude instances of interaction between rape and culture in all it’s forms? How different is the sexual assault of me as a “man” compared to the sexual assault of me as a woman? Why should only one count? How is it different when I was sexually assaulted by a man compared to being sexually assaulted as a woman? Why is only one deemed important enough for these journos to address?

    I honestly don’t believe rape is as preventable as the media leads us to believe, not when it so often occurs in isolation, not when the perpetrators are – as you say – ‘absolute monsters’ who don’t care about consent either way. What may be more preventable is suicide by people who are marginalised by the inherently sexist messaging and erasure.

    The first step to managing PTSD, as you well know, is acknowledging that there is a problem rather than erasing it and understanding how the core issue interacts with and is triggered by exacerbating stimulus.

    As I asked in that piece I linked to in my last post.

    What then may we might call the culture and social framework that enables violence against non-women, what name shall we give to this setting in which sexual assault by women is normalised?

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    oops, "It wasn't* coined by the social or mainstream media"

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to mark taslov,

    The first step to managing PTSD, as you well know, is acknowledging that there is a problem rather than erasing it and understanding how the core issue interacts with and is triggered by exacerbating stimulus.

    How do you manage PTSD?

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4327 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    Steven and Brent, in pushing this idea of male and female - as assigned by the state - I'm sure it's not your intention to to exclude trans women impacted by "rape culture", but that's the effect. Modern understandings of gender no longer comply with these outmoded definitions.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Mark, I am dyslexic. Writing big academic style comments isn't easy for me to do. It's time consuming, and I inevitably mangle my words.

    Weather you like it or not, male and female is a thing. Just like transgender is a thing. If you go and read my original post you will see that I am not compleatly stupid. I also know how it feels to be invisible.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4327 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to steven crawford,

    How do you manage PTSD?

    I engage in activity, both mundane and creative, with the aim of redirecting energy and try to help others. work helps. I take to heart this Marxist idea via Mr Tiso "Above all, always remember: we need ruthless criticism of all that exists, and somebody has to supply it."

    It occurred to me rather belatedly that this is the most practical use of my university degee in English Lit.

    I spend a lot of time not so much thinking about what happened to me but how that experience might perhaps one day contribute to preventing it happening to someone else or at least to alleviate suffering - working for a more inclusive world in which even the most marginalised voices may be factored in to our solutions.

    I try to forgive.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to steven crawford,

    Mark, I am dyslexic. Writing big academic style comments isn’t easy for me to do. It’s time consuming, and I inevitably mangle my words.

    Weather you like it or not, male and female is a thing. Just like transgender is a thing. If you go and read my original post you will see that I am not compleatly stupid. I also know how it feels to be invisible.

    I’m absolutely with you on this steven, and my comment was not in any way intended as a slight or correction of you. I’m sorry if there is any sense that I am communicating with you in any way other than as a friend. I consider you a friend.

    The insistent conflation of man/male women/female in the MSM is something I’m having to resort to myself in order to respond to the narrative. The term transgender has redefined the relationship between these words/ ideas. But it’s on this point – when we’re required as readers to get finicky about who is and isn’t affected by “rape culture”, and on which side of oppression we might be – that gendered assumption collapses in on itself rendering the discussion exclusionary.

    For obvious reasons I can’t even begin to broach issues related to gender fluid and Non Binary people within this MSM framing.

    Everything I’ve seen described thus far in these articles puts “rape culture” in exactly the same basket as misogyny, but we know“misogyny” won’t get as many clicks as the salacious “rape culture”. Misogyny is a word we’ve had for 1000s of years. There’s absolutely no reason to keep invoking the idea of “rape” to describe some of the examples of misogyny listed in the articles. It dilutes the term and normalises the crime.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to mark taslov,

    I engage in activity, both mundane and creative, with the aim of redirecting energy and try to help others.

    I have found low dose SSRIs can take the edge of the anxiety. I have benefited by reading about complex PTSD. John Briere is good.

    Judith Hermin has published good work, but I found some of the old school feminist stuff in her famous book Trauma and Recovery, hard to cope with. But in hindsight, it’s made me more resilient and pragmatic.

    I’m lucky I am an alcoholic becouse it’s meant I’ve had the opportunity to learn about things like what resentments are. Resentments are know as gut rot amoung the sober alcoholic community. They are the recycling of anger. Resentments are the number one killer of recovering alcoholics worldwide And funnily enough, people who have been sexually abused, sometimes suffer from resentments too. According to the literature, it’s not unusual for sexual abuse servivers to feel resentful and generally pissed of with the perpetrators and also the community that allowed it to happen. Not being complacent about that stuff is some of what I do to manage my PTSD.

    It occurred to me rather belatedly that this is the most practical use of my university degee in English Lit.

    That’s great!

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4327 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to steven crawford,

    Sorry I wrote this before reading, These resentments you speak of, that sounds achingly familiar, I don’t drink a thing, I thought it was just my sitting position!? Thank you.

    My sincerest apologies – I’ve never thought you are stupid steven. EVA =) Quite the contrary, dyslexia is cool with me. There’s an elitist vein insistant on syntactical uniformity, it functions as an impediment, a barrier to having the confidence to even attempt to put ideas down. This limits the contributory pool. We live in a multicultural society with plenty of second language users and how engaged are they with our predominantly white online political landscape?

    I hate that, the feeling that you can’t write because you might misspace or misplace a comma, or spell a word wrong, spell them all wrong. The anxiety that prevents one from even bothering. Fuck em’. If they know how to correct it then they’ve understood the sentence.

    I’ve understood all your sentences. Yes it’s an impediment but it’s also a beautiful creative gift – in the past society wasn’t fully able to engage with it -
    but every1’s txting now – say more, talk more, share more, right more.
    You are valuable.and a valuable voice in this world.

    On gender – patriarchy and misogyny hinges on the point of difference. Our assistance in maintaining this division feeds the patriarchal system.

    I’ll try to keep this briefer. With these articles we are looking at bits and pieces of culture and practices through a lens of two groups instead of one. These opinion writers, it’s a teacherly role, that seems to be the approach they take, and they’re the types of teachers who walk into the classroom, “boys over there girls stay where you are”, boys huddle in the corner “Now what the bloody hell is going on here, stop raping, learn consent, grow up, be men!”

    Emphasis on heat rather than light.

    5 Bizarre Realities of Being a Man Who Was Raped by a Woman + comments

    Twitter abuse – ’50% of misogynistic tweets from women’

    Whereas a more sensitive teacher might walk into class – aware that none of these issues are gender specific – and broach rape culture globally in the sense of covering the whole topic rather than one social study, one dynamic – repeatedly- Describing it as something we people inclusively do and as something that we people inclusively experience, as a culture does. As something we can’t ignore- Obviously covering all the permutations of how that might occur, providing stats,

    - as opposed to a gendered rant.

    The silence of men on the issue has been deafening. Something many overlook is that men are afraid. Perhaps you aren’t, but many are. New Zealand men especially see strength in silence, it’s what’s missing from the conversation, from these media conversations. These mysterious dudes, sharing very little on these types of topics while the women have already shared so much. Look at the volume of contributions to this thread, it's eerie.

    And our boys, they’re as afraid as all get out, most of them, where are the male role models? Articles? Balance? Experience to share?

    Teenagehood is that time when they learn to put on a front but in learning that feel most insecure, they do and say stupid stuff to fit in, some of it more stupid than others, most of it you’d never hear about.

    That isn’t gender specific.

    Our discussions need to bridge this gender gap to encompass all rape. As a unified concept, just as we would any other crime, with the aim of finding real solutions, not just advocating for a curriculum that’s already there. We need to approach this wholistically, it’s systemic, interrelated, coevolving we need to advocate for all victims equally.

    beyond bias.

    When people talk about gender as they would a sports match, between opposing teams, aggressively pitching one team against the other, in a commanding manner, it’s eminently clear that they have no concept of the reality faced by the millions of transgender people for whom gender division is a central obstacle

    of life



    Thanks Steven I’ll read!

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • mpledger,

    The thing about the Dunedin Longitudinal study was that the participants were all in their mid twenties (IIRC) when the research was done. You can't generalise that to all ages and stages.

    Since Oct 2012 • 97 posts Report Reply

  • John Farrell, in reply to mpledger,

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to mpledger,

    You’d need to discredit swathes of research to take that thought through to its logical conclusion.

    In contrast, generalisation and partial data is more or less exactly what our approach to combating these issues was founded on.

    The persistence and pervasiveness of the ‘men are from Mars women from Venus’ ideology in New Zealand is a fascinating cultural artifact from a bygone era.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

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