Rape culture affects every man, woman, and child

Did you see the photos of the so-called comedian Remi Gallard having simulated “air sex” with unaware women? Ha ha ha.


On Salon, Amanda Marcotte writes:

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.”

Back to writing that chapter now…

Who gets to be sexy?

Last week, New York Times reporter and Motherlode blogger Lisa Belkin posted about Duke University’s sexist frat party invites which asked women to show up dressed slutty. Just as troubling as the actual invite, Belkin writes, was that women did, in fact, show up dressed slutty. Belkin writes that a generation ago, women were leading Take Back the Night Marches at college campuses. She wants to know: What’s changed?

Amanda Marcotte, blogger for Slate’s XX Factor, responds to Belkin that dressing slutty can be fun. Marcotte is annoyed that Belkin, like so many before her, conflates clothing choices with real social inequalities. Marcotte says a woman can be smart and dress in a skimpy skirt.

Belkin responds that she doesn’t see the men dressing skimpy.

Marcotte replies that her goal here is to dismantle gender norms; if men didn’t fear being emasculated by others, they probably, too, would enjoy wearing skimpy outfits and being lusted after by their peers.

But who gets to be sexy? And why?

The messed up gender disparity here is that men, for the most part, get to be sexy for what they do. While women, for the most part, only for how they appear. One major thing that sucks about this difference is that the “training ground” to support it starts so early- back when we’re little kids. My blog, Reel Girl, is all about the gender difference imposed so young on boys and girls through kids’ TV, movies, books, and toys. In kidworld, the boys get to do stuff. The girls expose their belly buttons and bat their eyelashes and wear different outfits.

In high school, the established pecking order is further enforced- the athletes or the funny guys are the hot ones. A funny girl or athletic girl might be considered hot, but she’s not sexy because of her skills or talents, but in spite of them. And then, of course, next on the social agenda are college frat parties, and then comes the “real world.”

Women, by the way, are not considered sexy based on how they appear because men are visual. Or any other idiotic social Darwinist theory/ explanation about how gender inequity is just “natural.” The reason for the gender difference about who gets to be sexy is this: Men are the guys in charge. For women to have sexual power and political, social, or economic power is threatening to men as a group.

I believe the major reason women are held back is because dangling the carrot- if you achieve, you will be sexy- is a huge motivator, because being sexy is fun. Men have a direct route while women are met with various with dead ends.

The solution to this enforced gender duality is not, alas, to be smart and wear a short skirt all at the same time. It’s to change these stats on American women, who make up 52% of our citizens and 46.5% of our labor force.

Women hold only 15.2% of seats on the boards of Fortune 500 companies.

Women are just 19% of partners in law firms.

Women represent 17% of the United States Congress.

Throughout our history only four women have held the office of Supreme Court Justice.

There are currently only six female governors.

Women make up 14% of all guest appearances on the influential Sunday television talk shows; among repeat guests, only 7% are women.

Only 15% of the authors on the The New York Times best seller list for nonfiction are women.

Only about 20% of op-eds in America’s newspapers are by women.

Women make up 8% of all writers of major motion pictures.

Women are 17% of all executive producers.

Women are 2% of all cinematographers.

See my first post on Belkin’s NYT story where I wrote that not so much has changed in the past twenty or thirty years for women on college campuses or elsewhere.

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