Thursday, September 25, 2014

Becoming A Better Person

Earlier in the year I had great cause to consider the term "Rape Culture".

Now, before you do that dickhead thing of "What we have isn't technically rape culture i.e. rape isn't celebrated as a socially acceptable thing", one of the first things I learnt is that you just have to shut the hell up and listen. Before you manage to get that view across, you've just come across as a dismissive dickhead who should leave which ever communication you've just entered into very very quickly because you've just managed to dismiss an amazingly prevalent problem. And the point can be argued so all of those people can get off their high horses and just fuck off.

And just before I go on, I encourage everyone to add this blog post to their reading list. Basically it describes the great frustrating irony. While Emma Watson has launched #HeForShe campaign (I have to admit to having not yet watched the video) I am aware that there's a terrible irony in that I'm more likely to be taken more seriously on matters of sexism than a lot of the people around me.

It's not a comfortable place to be. For example, I came across a Facebook status about reporting post NZ Election 2014, which asserted that females need to get up and write pieces because "...the commentary is going to be dominated by male 'commentators' who feel entitled and confident that their opinion is spot on...". This came just as I was about to write my piece. My issue with the line was that it makes assertions as to the writing based on the fact that the 'commentators' are male. I wasn't the only one who got that feeling...

So that was a really long lead up to this...

We have a problem in society. It's big. It's everywhere. It's a culture of it. When articles come out about some celebrity being bullied on twitter - something along the lines of "you're ugly" - what is your first response? Do you look at the mandatory image of said celebrity and think "She's not ugly!!!" OR do you get upset because no one should ever talk to another person that way? That's a culture. It's a culture of rape. That a person's appearance is somehow more important than the horribly nasty behaviour of others. I kind of think we should all take it a little personally. To realise that we are part of this culture.

And sure, there are much worse examples out there. One of my initial reactions was "Rape Culture" is too confrontational a term. I don't rape, thus I am not part of rape culture. It's just not that simple. It's a culture that encourages rape. Victim blaming and the like. i.e. the question "what was she wearing?" when talking about rape being a somewhat institutional question. Does it matter? Should it matter? Aren't we blaming the victim for their choices rather than the perpetrator for theirs? Is anyone any more deserving of rape because they are wearing a short skirt?

The problem exists. I found myself in this rather awkward conversation with someone who I sincerely care about but she was accusing me of rape culture. What did I do? I was feeling depressed and what was hope that we could hang out and perhaps I could cheer up, was coming out as "I'm putting the responsibility of my depression on you". It was a real low point... I mean seriously. It sent me spiralling. One night while at a pub after watching some roller derby, a girl came up and talked to me and I ended up blurting out something about rape culture. She gave me this odd look and said "you think too much".

That one line is kind of the bane of my existence. I think too much.... Well yes... I do. But I have to go through it. The thoughts shared on this blog are usually the result of thinking about something too much. It's me processing. The fact that I found myself just kind of blurting out what was on my mind was incredibly unusual.

Soon after, a girl accused me of stealing her drink. It was a roller derby after party and I had found that the service was sucking, but more importantly, surfaces were fill of empties... and partials... and things were starting to be knocked down. So instead of waiting for a drink, I had found myself cleaning up a bit. It's kind of a drunken thing that I have. I want to be drunk. I don't want to be playing a game of jenga with empties. The problem is, once I start, I find it amazingly hard to stop. I'd apparently taken a drink that she'd been drinking so I offered to buy her another. The problem was, during this processing, I was really upset. I had come to realise that I was part of this whole rape culture thing and that it was a culture. It isn't just a case of changing my own behaviour, but rather, it's something that's likely going to be around me for... well... the rest of my life.

While I don't give racism that much thought these days, one of the big things the election revealed to me - not just in the reaction after the election, but some of the policies coming out (house prices - we should see the problem not as a foreign ownership issue but rather, the issue with seeing 'homes' as 'investments'. i.e. if I invest, I'm after the biggest possible return. And given that people can borrow a whole lot of money - well outside of their means - there's no stopping what price I set on that investment. i.e. housing prices is a result of our own greed) - during the election, revealed that there's an awful lot of xenophobia about the place. Racism isn't going to leave us anytime soon and neither is rape culture.

But at least with racism, we recognise it (at the very least I'd like to think that most of us do). This isn't the case with rape culture. And it's at least half of our population! Half of the people out there are having to suffer through these weird presumptions - "you will make me feel better" or "you're weaker than I am". Everyday interactions. EVERYDAY! Think about it. I mean, I can point to overtly racist moments in my life. Things like cops shining a torch in my eyes when I'm walking home (this was a fairly common occurrence when I was younger) or people yelling out something about Osama from their cars at me and even young kids on the street in Hamilton making assertions about my education or ability to speak English based upon the colour of my skin. But it's not everyday. It always leaves me feeling angry that this sort of thing happens. For myself - but also, given the frequency, the scope etc., it makes me really angry that it happens to pretty much every female I know (there's a selfish element in here too. It makes me REALLY angry that it happens to every female that I care about) on a daily basis.

And that's just not good enough. I'm better than that. Hell, we all are. We can be better people. We should be better people. We have access to other people's perspectives like never before and we shouldn't be trying to shut down those perspectives. We should be learning to shut up and listen. We have a sense of what's right and what's wrong and oppressing people based upon their gender is just plain wrong.

So let's stop stigmatizing the term "feminism" - instead, let's see it as a bunch of people who are getting really frustrated with having to yell at the world about what should be really amazingly obvious. They deserve respect. Not the kind of horrible fucktarded comments that seem to appear on every single female's (I'm not including males here because I'm fairly confident I can do this blog post without any serious negative reaction and I'm 100% certain that I will not be called any of the things that females are called when they write this sort of content) blog post or youtube video whenever they bring up this topic.

It's interesting watching the video attached (yes, I'm listening and watching while writing this). The delivery is perfect. The shaking voice while describing the various ages at which rape culture became evident. The anger can sometimes be the focus whereas anger stems from somewhere... hurt. We are hurting those around us. Let us all speak up when we hear/read something that contributes to rape culture. Let us all see this as a problem with our culture - it's not someone elses. We all own it. Let us all be better people.

1 comment:

  1. I just want to clarify....

    The whole awkward conversation thing. It lead to a whole bunch of realizations. Not the least of which is that sense of entitlement is dangerous.

    I worked in a female dominated field for awhile, though outside of it. As in, I got to see it in small doses. Some of the behaviour I would see would have me feeling.... a bit concerned... BUT I never felt unsafe. I think this is the big difference. I go through very little of my life feeling unsafe.

    My sense of entitlement is not acceptable.