One of the eye-opening moments I had this year was the realization of how unnecessarily defensive many men are. Perhaps you have encountered the situation: A public or personal plea that ‘only men can stop rape’, or ‘teach men not to rape’, or ‘don’t be that guy’.
I’m not talking about how stupid it is to give up personal agency here, Thunderf00t does this better than I could.
No, I’m talking about the unnecessarily defensive attitude of many men in these situations. They go “Oh, I’m different.” They uncritically accept the assertion and try to show that they are the exception.
No, you are really not. You are like most other guys — you would never commit rape.
Thing is, most men are basically honest and want to do the right thing. Once you see this you suddenly find it strange that you ever accepted the assertion that ‘every man is a potential rapist’. I know a lot of men, family members, friends, colleagues — the assumption that they all could be rapists is … ‘strange’ to say the least.
But isn’t it best to be save than sorry? Well, that depends. I’d refer to Thunderf00t‘s video here, but my personal take is that it is probably not beneficial for the relations between the gender if one side is asked to think of the other side in the worst possible terms. Yes, you should be careful in some situations, and you should avoid sending mixed messages, but assuming that every man is just a hair-trigger away from knocking you down is not a healthy attitude. And it’s pretty insulting.
But given the nature of the topic, perhaps an over-the-top comparison is required here. Suppose all that “better safe than sorry” or “don’t be that guy” crap would be about women and unwanted pregnancies. There are cases of women who get pregnant, do not realize it until it is too late, and keep the pregnancy secret. Once the child is born they panic and kill the child. It happens. Rarely, thankfully, but given the atrocious nature of the crime — killing a helpless baby — shouldn’t there be a public service announcement dealing with this issue? Something like:
DON’T BE THAT MOTHER
I know most women are basically good, and you would never do this. But let’s better be safe than sorry. Suppose you had a sexual relationship and you missed your period. You hoped that everything would turn out well, but it did not. Or perhaps you did not notice it because you found it normal to eat a little more and be sick after a breakup. Or you were so sure that the pill would prevent a pregnancy but you did not realize that the antibiotics interfered with it.
Whatever the reason, you found out that you are pregnant and it was too late for an abortion or too early in the century for your family to accept it.
No matter how well you managed to conceal it and the astonishing feat that you pulled off the birth on your own without a hitch, now that baby is in front of you, alive, crying, screaming for a life where it is heard.
Please don’t murder it.
Please don’t smash its tiny head in. Please don’t strangle it. Please don’t suffocate it in the bathtub or bury it alive.
Please don’t beTHAT mother.
I know, most women are basically good, but just to be on the safe side, just because you have the biological equipment to birth it and the hands to strangle it, I’m asking you: Don’t be THAT mother. You know, the kind of mother who strangles her child after birth.
How would women like such an ad campaign? And can we call them infanticide apologists if they are against it?
Don’t get me wrong (fat chance), rape is a terrible crime. So is infanticide. But suspecting that all who could possibly commit such a crime would commit such a crime does not help. With rape I agree with Thunderf00t — there are ways to reduce the risk. I also agree that rape can leave scars but that therapy can help to mitigate the damage.
And I strongly argue that most men are basically good and they should not be defensive when they hear about women’s fears. If a woman feels threatened by the mere presence of a man, it’s that’s woman’s problem, not the problem of the unfortunate male who is in her presence.
And personally, I refuse to feel responsible or — even worse — guilty about it.