Contextualized Outrage To Sexism And Rape Culture Is Dangerous
Don’t get angry because it could have been your mother or wife or daughter or sister. Just get angry and then get active!
TRIGGER WARNING: This post is about rape culture and contains quotes and language that some readers may find offensive.
Recently, a 2005 recorded conversation between presidental hopeful Donald Trump and television personality Billy Bush resurfaced in which Trump recounts to Bush how he once pursued a married woman saying, “moved on her like a bitch but I couldn’t get there.” At one point, Trump also brags to a laughing Billy Bush that because of his celebrity status at the time, “you can do anything,” adding that you can, “grab them by the pussy.”
As a result of the leak, a number of high profile Republicans have condemned Donald Trump for his remarks. Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz has pulled his endorsement of Trump saying, “I’m out. I can no longer in good conscience endorse this person for president. It is some of the most abhorrent and offensive comments that you can possibly imagine.” Chaffetz uses his 15 year old daughter to contextualize his outrage as to protect his daughter by saying that if he can’t look her in the eye and “tell her these things,” (referring to Trump’s horrible remarks) then he cannot endorse Donald Trump for president.
While Chaffetz’s comments sound noble and of great fatherly stature, they also speak to a much larger problem when it comes to men speaking out against rape culture and sexism. Men often put their outrage in the context of a fear of not being able to protect the women in their families. That these terrible acts deserve our ire because it could happen to my mother or sister or wife or daughter.
Framing outrage to sexism and rape culture around a man’s female family members invalidates the suffering of victims of rape culture and sexism who are not family members. It reenforces patriarchal ideals that have plagued this country for centuries.
As men, especially cisgendered men in America, we are in a very unique position to speak out against sexism and rape culture regardless of who the victim is or could have been.
Male privilege is real (even for black men) and we have to recognize that privilege and call out our friends, co-workers and family who participate, directly through their actions or indirectly through sexist comments, in perpetuating rape culture.
It’s not enough to connect your outrage to specific members of your family. It’s time that we step up and become outraged for all victims of sexual abuse and actively work to dismantle sexism and rape culture.