It takes one rapist to commit a rape, but it takes a village to create an environment where it happens over and over and over and over and over with such frequency that ordinary people throw up their hands and treat it as a part of the environment instead of as violations of fundamental human rights.
I hate to be nitpicky, but: Since the point of the joke is that the women are nonconsenting, then it’s not really simulated sex so much as simulated rape. Funny!
And all this time, I thought women were the ones who weren’t funny.
This morning I went for a walk. It’s a beautiful, sunny day. My body felt powerful, fast, and strong, and I was getting all of these great ideas about the next chapter of my book. Then, I stopped to tie my shoe, and this picture popped into my head. All of a sudden, my experience of my body totally changed. I felt frightened, humiliated, and exposed. I tried to shake off the image. I kept walking, and the feeling faded, but I never got back the high I had before I bent to tie my shoe. It makes me so mad that women have see ourselves, experience ourselves, how men see us and experience us. As the great art critic John Berger wrote: Men watch. Women watch themselves being watched. This state of being is not because “men are visual” (total bullshit– humans are visual) but because men have created the culture and reality that dominates our lives. I’m sick of it.
Here’s the Berger quote:
“To be born a woman has to be born, within an allotted and confined space, into the keeping of men. The social presence of women is developed as a result of their ingenuity in living under such tutelage within such a limited space. But this has been at the cost of a woman’s self being split into two. A woman must continually watch herself. She is almost continually accompanied by her own image of herself. Whilst she is walking across a room or whilst she is weeping at the death of her father, she can scarcely avoid envisaging herself walking or weeping. From earliest childhood she has been taught and persuaded to survey herself continually. And so she comes to consider the surveyor and the surveyed within her as the two constituent yet always distinct elements of her identity as a woman. She has to survey everything she is and everything she does because how she appears to men, is of crucial importance for what is normally thought of as the success of her life. Her own sense of being in herself is supplanted by a sense of being appreciated as herself by another….One might simplify this by saying: men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object — and most particularly an object of vision: a sight.”
This product was seen at the John Lewis store in High Wycombe. Not familiar with this UK institution, I looked it up to find it has almost 650,00 likes.
I imagine the day this product is on display in a museum, an artifact. People will look at it, baffled, not even understanding. Students will study how backwards the world was in 2013, wondering how and why our culture allowed and accepted sexism as if it were okay or funny or normal. Can you imagine a game showing a Caucasian brain battling an African brain along with a bunch of stereotyped categories?
The latest global estimate from the United Nations Say No to Violence Campaign is that the percentage of women and girls who have experienced violence in their lifetimes is now up to an unbearable 70%. In a world in which this many girls and women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime, allowing content about raping and beating women to be shared, boasted and joked about contributes to the normalisation of domestic and sexual violence, creates an atmosphere in which perpetrators are more likely to believe they will go unpunished, and communicates to victims that they will not be taken seriously if they report.
Here’s an ex-girlfriend shooting target seen at an NRA convention this Spring.
Violence against women is epidemic. A first step to abuse is always dehumanizing the victim. Propaganda, in the form of images and narratives, effectively dehumanizes on a mass scale. Here’s some propaganda marketed to kids:
Images/ narratives of Jews circa 1938
Africans circa 1931
Females circa 2013
It’s easy to look back on history and wonder: How did people ever put up with that? I’d never buy into it. But what are you participating in right now that is completely accepted, not to mention celebrated, by our culture?
Propaganda works in steps and stages. The product marketed may not be as extreme as a bloody, scantily clad woman, but it’s likely to be a sexualized female, one that is, remarkably, often advertised to kids.