The Fall-out of Patriarchy: Rape and its Other Siblings

Photo by chloe s. on Unsplash

Who knew that dinner conversations were as engaging as the one I was a part of yesterday?

Personally, I do not observe any dinner rituals; neither does my family. We just have food that everyone decides when and where to eat. I do not even remember the last time I ate at the dinner table. However, I would find myself sharing the dinner table again yesterday. And as I would discover, they make for very passionate conversations.

This time, the topic turned towards rape.

I am not argumentative; as such, I shrink from potentially argumentative interactions. As a result of this, when the guests carried on with their opinion on different topics, I kept quiet. I was neither in the frame of mind to contribute nor make a case for why I think the way I do. However, the minute the topic turned towards rape, my ears perked up. I was not going to stay silent.

Recent allegations against a popular figure had turned public attention towards rape. Victims were speaking up in droves, and people were offering their opinions — solicited and otherwise. Most certainly, I had my opinion too. But until this evening, I had shared my opinion with family only.

I felt very strongly about the matter, and honestly did not go easy on anyone with a differing opinion from me; although that was masked well since I did very little talking. That is, until this conversation.

I had a very strong opinion and nothing was going to stop me from sharing it.

Men (usually) often start their argument as regards rape with “I don’t support rape.” Honorable, right? Not quite!

The fact that you say you do not support rape does not reflect what you truly believe about rape. I need men and everyone to understand this. I could say I do not kill meat, which is true, but it does not say anything about whether I eat meat or not. I mean, there are plenty meat-eaters who have never killed an animal for a day in their lives.

You might indeed not like rape or subscribe to it, but your dislike of it does not say anything about your place in perpetuating a culture that encourages rape. There are a lot more questions whose answers will determine where you stand. Questions like this: Do you check your male friends when they catcall women? How do you protect victims when you hear they have been abused? What is your response when a woman says no (and I do not mean during sex now. I mean, even in the little things like when you have an argument).

It is as if by making statements like “I don’t support rape,” men expect to be patted on the back, to be integrated into an exclusive group of ‘one of us’. You know, one of the good guys. But anyone can make statements like that.

This is not to say I think of every guy who is vocal in his displeasure of rape as a rapist. What I want to point out instead, is that choosing to do so does not make a man anymore blameless than the next man. Words are one thing; action, another.

I call this out because I know a number of men who are against rape but are active perpetrators of patriarchy.

You say you are against rape? O well. I do not dispute that, but what about patriarchy’s agenda in suppressing women? Or do you mean to tell me you have no idea that patriarchy is buoyed by the victimization of women?

Are you unaware that patriarchy reduces women to what they can give? Their bodies. Unrequited respect. Exclusivity. And babies. Surely, you are against rape, but what about the things you require from your woman without much regard for her dreams and the sacrifices she makes to give those things to you?

When during the conversation, one of the male guests at the table brought up the argument that some women just like the sex rough, I lost my mind. What?! We are talking about the destructive nature of rape and you bring up that ridiculousness of an argument? I was livid!

Consensual sex — as I remember it — is not at all the same as rape, which is any non-consensual sexual encounter.

Not only did that argument miss the point in that moment, but it was a very insensitive one to bring up; more so in the presence of victims. The women who like rough sex ARE NOT a part of the argument about rape, not because they cannot be raped, but because they consent to that kind of sex.

Secondly, I am well aware that a sizable number of women who do like rough sex have a history of abuse — not that it is always tied to an abusive past.

This phenomenon, this thing guys do to verbally separate themselves from rape, is something I have seen in not just my colleagues at the dinner table, but on social media too. And I wish I could tell them all that verbally condemning rape: (1) does not vindicate you, and (2) is not good enough.

· Do you respect your partner’s ‘No’?

· When a girl you are sleeping with tells you she doesn’t like something you are doing to her, do you respect it and stop, or do you continue and assume that she will eventually enjoy it?

· Do you insult a woman who dismisses your advances?

· Are you checking your male friends or turning a blind eye when they misbehave?

The real determinant of where a man’s heart lies, is how he treats women: random lovers, girlfriends, wives, female colleagues, female clients, etc. That is what really shows what a man thinks of women, not just a verbal proclamation. That stuff is easy!

Patriarchy is in our actions as well as our silence; so men, do something. Don’t pretend that you do not see what is going on. And if truly you are unaware, start paying attention!

Stand up to your friends who disrespect women. Be active protectors of women. Drunk, wild, or stoned as a woman is, do not take a sexual invite that has not been categorically extended to you.

And in the slim chance that a guy tells you that he was raped, please do not make a show of mocking him. Overhauling patriarchy extends to protecting the male folks as we do the women.