Take A Moment, Pause, and Look At Her: A conversation about feminism and rape culture

“I refuse to believe rape culture is real”.

I try to find the strength to remove my feelings from this conversation. Being impartial is necessary in this moment.

I’m at a friend’s birthday that I had met recently. I only know 2 people out of the 30, and sit next to a tall, blonde guy I had met 20 minutes ago named Darren. Darren is a screenplay writer and director, and from the ring I notice on his left hand, married. We had talked earlier about what our passions are, and who has influenced us in our lives. His was his pastor, and a nut job director he worked for when he was younger. Mine was Angelina Jolie, strictly because she uses her fame and power to be put in good use, and is a wonderful humanitarian. The other is a person who had introduced me to feminism when I was 18. My life was changed forever.

“Feminism? So, can you tell me what that means?”, Darren stares intently.

“People give it many definitions, but really, it just means women having the same rights as men.”, I answer.

He’s not satisfied with that, “ Hmph. But that could mean anything. How do men play a part in this?”

Sigh. I see where this is going.

“If you’re wondering if it means men are hated, or that we believe women are better than men, then no. That’s not what it is.”

“That’s what I was going for, but still, there are women out there that give you feminists a bad name. The likes of Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer… It’s insulting. Promoting promiscuity like that should not be something feminists should be proud of.”

I ask him to elaborate.

“What is it that feminism is trying to accomplish? When you say equal, what do you mean? Are men and women really equal? 100%?”

I look intently, “ Equal, or the same? We aren’t comparing body parts here. This has to do with treatment, rights, respect.”

“But it kind of does. You can’t ask a man to be able to look at a woman and not react towards that. I’m not going to be able to see a pair of boobs walking down the street and not look. It’s a sexual body part to me, to men. It’s going to turn me on.”

“Sure, I never said you can’t be turned on. What I’m saying is you should have enough sensibility to not act upon it, and use it as justification for harassment or rape. We want to be rid of rape culture, too.”

“Yeah, rape culture isn’t a real thing.”

My eyes widen. I chuckle, “You’re serious?”

“ I refuse to believe rape culture is real. I have seen studies on college campuses. Did you know that most women who have reported rape, were lesbian women?”

He continues to explain that it was because they do not like men, and so they claim something that was completely consensual gets reported as non-consensual because they discovered they prefer women. Or they just want to take advantage of the system.

Oh. My. God.

I bring up the subject of Brock Turner. He, of course, had not heard of it. I bring up Kesha’s situation. I bring up the young girl who carried her mattress throughout campus because her rapist was not reprimanded or even expelled. I bring up many other examples, all of which he had not heard of. I tell him how women are not given justice, how we are not protected, how we have no sense of safety from our own legal system. And even after hearing all of this, he could not get himself to believe that this is real.

“For someone who says he loves to experience new things, hear different stories and is willing to learn, you’re really not living up to your word right now.”, I sigh.

“I’m fairly convinced that this is all a publicity stunt for women to get attention. All of it. It’s quite disgusting actually. What was the essence of this entire movement? And saying that women wanted to vote and own property and have a voice is just not convincing to me. There’s more to it. I just feel women cannot be satisfied. Nothing will ever be good enough. They will not stop.”

I pause for a moment,” Do you have a daughter?”

“No, I don’t.”, he responds.

I give my last thought for the night, “Do me a favor, if you are ever blessed with one, look at her. Take a moment, pause, and look at her. Think of how you want to give her the world, how you want her to thrive and succeed just like you are succeeding in life. And then take a moment and think about how much harder it’s going to be when men that think the way that you do will get her way, how they will put her down, how they will disrespect her and have her question her worth and intelligence. Think of her being paid less for the same amount work, or even more work, she puts in than others, simply because she has a vagina. Think of the possibility, God forbid, that she comes to you one day and says “Daddy, I’ve been raped.” How she is curled up in a ball, her eyes staring out into oblivion, her soul lost. Think of how she will cringe from your touch when you are trying to console her, how she won’t be able to ever hug you, or any other man for a very long time, if not ever. Think of how you go to the police to put that guy in jail, and him being let go, because your daughter was blamed since it’s her fault she drank a little too much that night, how that person will roam free, causing that same harm to others, might even come after your daughter again. Most of all, think of the hurt and disappointment your daughter will feel knowing that you, her own father, didn’t fight for her rights and her ability to seek justice when you were younger, and because of it, her inability to get it when she needs it too. If that doesn’t help you to just simply open your eyes and see that these things do happen, and need our attention, then I don’t know what will. Unless you walk in someone’s shoes, you can’t tell them they are liars. You can’t accuse them of simply wanting attention. Don’t judge from the outside. Look at experiences, listen to stories, dig for something outside of your box, because everyone is in one. Our goal is to get outside of it. Unless you’re willing to push your own limits and question your own beliefs, and be open to see the different sides of life from different people, then please don’t claim that you thrive from learning from other people’s lives and experiences.”

Darren fell silent.

“So, doesn’t this pasta look amazing? I’m starving.”, I smile.

I put some pasta on Darren’s plate from the bowl. We dig in.

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