Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Discourse and change in a pre-Godwinized world

Nick Kiddle has a post about an anti-rape advertisement campaign aimed at men, and commenters express their frustration at making such tiny progress. Raznor says:
My first thought is “babysteps is how you need to go.” Then I think “I’m feeling all happy and optimistic because men are being told rape is wrong.” And how fucked up is everything that that’s a big deal?
I think it’s important to appreciate that if rape is such a common occurrence, and if it is not very often prosecuted and it is often ignored by people, it’s because people believe fucked-up things. A lot of our daily acquaintences probably do believe fucked-up things about power and sex and gender, and something this prevalent isn’t just going to disappear no matter how wrong it is. It’s hard to get people to understand that they’re on the wrong side of a moral issue. What makes matters even more complicated is that everyone pays lip-service to the fact that rape is bad and rapists are monsters, but are so concerned about strawrapists that they don’t consider that behavior that they may engage in is rape. Just like there are women who say they “believe men and women are equal, but I’m not a feminist,” there are guys who will get a woman so plastered that she passes out and rape her, but tell themselves that they didn’t jump out of the bushes with a knife, so they’re not a rapist. The caricature of what they are looms so large in their imagination that they won’t bother to identify with it. And God knows I’m going to have a hard time believing it if someone accuses me of being a murderer or a torturer or whatever. It’s like rape is an issue that’s pre-Godwinized, and getting around that is a real puzzle.
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