Rape Culture and Gender Shaming – “Boys will be Boys” a response
Today I read a post which went viral enough to have the Huffington Post pick it up and you’ll find a mess of news articles and syndicated stories on what started on January 16th with:
“Feel free to sexually harass me if you’re male. You know what they say “Boys will be boys.”. Although I’m not sure any of you will want to do that since I’m not very modest, therefore not attractive.” (Huff Teen writer Marion Mayer)
This high school junior who is more consciousness and knowledgeable about gender issues then the majority of people raising those boys and girls said it and is receiving tons of positive responses. But, unfortunately it is just one more example of part today’s rape culture and gender shaming issues. There are so many out there who by being OK with any of this because of statements like “boys will be boys” perpetuate part of the culture that surrounds it. Well guess what? Kids will be kids, people will be people. We all have choices, and sometimes these choices are made more difficult because these uncooked brains in high schools like Lakewood High and principals like Mr. Martinez allowing behavior based on someones gender. When students are being forced to conform with a dress code not because of safety or disciplinary issues but for reasons to not provoke a boy, because he is a boy, makes no sense. Reasons which shame a girl for being what she is, a girl. Something has to be said and this high school girl said it and I am going to give my two-cents. I am all for uniforms myself, but for the right reasons not for adding another thing for kids to figure out or work through, not to perpetuate that it is the girls fault because of her dressing the way she does. As simplistic as this seems, it is yet another ingredient to today’s rape culture.
The Consequences of Rape Culture
I was raped in 1997 and was so ashamed I allowed my mother to believe I was being irresponsible and partying out late, hence why the babysitter had to spend the night with my children. I allowed my ex-husband (my soon to be husband at the time) to believe I had gotten into a car accident. The only person I trusted helped me bust the asshole due to some quick thinking in the midst of shock for me, but still it caused me nothing but problems with my family and honestly my life from there. The shame followed me and still is with me today. I thought I was being strong, I thought I was being smart, but I was ashamed because I was out at a AOL mixer and so I did it to myself. “If I had not worn that outfit and flirted..” I would think. I thought a lot of things and there are reasons why.
I remember being in high school when date rape was just starting to be being discussed and heard in the media. We were still at the point most people still did not believe you could be raped by someone you knew. Heck we still are today just not as much because we are educating people to the difference and the “No means NO!” campaign. I remember then feeling shame at an instance which I know now was rape because apparently no matter how far my date and I had gone. When I said no I did not want to go further, it was to late. At least this is what I was led to believe, because I let the boy feel me up. No certainly did not mean no back then, even though it was suppose too. This was how I was raised, how we all as girls were raised and shamed into thinking, blaming me because I let him touch me in the first place. Or if we did not let ourselves get into these situations it would not happen. We were blamed, the victims. This is what the principal is setting up these girls for, victim blaming. But still it is ludicrous, this phrasing of “Modest is Hottest”.
Why? Because even with the Jody Foster movie The Accused released in 1988 being a significant statement which started talking about victim blaming, making it something to think about, many consider it one of the biggest smack in the face to those that did. It was a movie which told the story of many before her and after. It was start of the rethinking of the victim blame and shame. There seemed to be some light at the end of that tunnel, however the movement forward we were seeing today seems to have fallen back more then a few decades due to the political environment as of late. The fact my rapist was a serial rapist still doesn’t factor into my brain and psyche. It was my fault, right? Well many would have you believe it. The fact is, rape is rape, it is violent not sexual, it is brutal and not OK and even if some of the most beautiful sculptures in the world portray it, it is our history. Even if it is part of history, ie: Genghis Khan’s DNA is found in 1 and 200 men. Interesting yes but when you have articles from National Geographic calling him a “prolific lover” instead of what he was, a rapist, it candy coats and gives the actions a pass. I agree history is history, but argue the time comes when instead of letting it collect dust we use it to learn and grow as a society. Isn’t this what the principal should be teaching those kids?
With all the discussions and forward movement of gender equality we still are experiencing a significant backsliding as of late. As I mentioned above, there are people in power, politically and religiously who are still gender shaming publicly in their political speeches. Saying there is scientific factors that a woman cannot be raped, that a vagina knows and will shut down. (Actually there is a condition when someone is brutally attacked the vagina will be close up but it is beyond rare, as in.. let’s leave it out of the discussion. My vagina is not sentient, check?). You know what though? I really think this principal is trying to do the right thing. But because of his own upbringing, today’s “backwards slip” and what is constantly supported by people in power, our advertising and constant visual objectification, just to name just a few things, he is not doing it right. But his response when this was pointed out to him is what gets him in hot water, he did not and would not even try to open his mind up and really think about what he is saying when he tells the girls:
“Modest is Hottest“
How in any world or head does this make sense? First off for an educator, not knowing what the definition of a word is and using it incorrectly irks me enough, but like “gay” we have taken a word and made it into a condition, a label, an act and caused it to imply things that are not necessarily true or even close to being OK. Modest means “unassuming or moderate in the estimation of one’s abilities or achievements.” Modesty applying to dress and it means “(of a woman) dressing or behaving so as to avoid impropriety or indecency, esp. to avoid attracting sexual attention or (of clothing) not revealing or emphasizing the figure.” See the conflict here? His statement is a complete contradiction. Are you pissed off yet? The world has genderized something which was suppose to be about being humble. I still am amazed and angry about this post.
I like many of others, saw red when I read her blog post, but I also was empowered to write this because our voices are the only thing we have in this world culture to speak up against the way we treat women and raise our children. She inspired me to tell my story and speak out against the way men are given a pass because of gender!
How would that have changed the way things happened to me in 1997? Probably quite a bit. I actually was overweight and insecure, I was a flirt, always had been and I had two shots of tequila in me to give me courage. To this day I am still ashamed because of thoughts such as; “If I had just not gone, if I had not had tequila, I would probably would have never talked to the man who ended up raping his 28th person that night, me.” Even when we go 10 years later here in Alaska when I was again attacked, raped and this time my head beaten into a tree and left for dead. What had I done? It was two men who didn’t speak English trying to get directions from me while I was walking home from a special Summer Solstice event. Who decided to “fuck the American whore, stupid America whore.. all American’s are whores” because they couldn’t get me to understand them.. I can still hear it. All I was doing? Walking home, sober. Wearing a bandanna, with body odor, sporting your typical hippie wear because we had played all day and helped a friend build their new cabin while we had a full day of light. What did I do to provoke being raped and having my head beaten in? Oh right… I was a stupid American whore.
“Being a boy refers to your gender. That’s all.“
Boys being boys is an antiquated excuse for misbehavior which as been adopted into allowing them this pass. Boys are not violent because they have a penis, believe me my penis (pointing at my raised fist) is larger then yours and I can occasionally get just as pissed. But if I did something, or I misbehave (which I am want to do), I would be crazy and a bitch, not “awwwww it’s because of that XY chromosome pairing! How cute!” I am just a crazy bitch. This week my friend stood up for herself when she was not paid and the women called her crazy. If a man had done that she probably would have told everyone he was harassing her after she more than likely would have paid him. This is because society still is raising us in different colors, boxes and not focusing on raising us to be, oh I don’t know… human beings who respect each other because we are fellow inhabitants of this planet.
Why am I telling you this? Because dressing modestly or not has nothing to do with getting raped! NOTHING PROVOKES A RAPIST , they were raised to feel the way they felt and rape has nothing to do with being sexually attracted to a woman, it has to do with violence and power. It can be as simple as allowing boys to be boys that can cause issues. Nothing I said or did could have stopped it but stopping the rape culture at the source, by not giving a gender an excuse because they are BOYS. Am I giving the principal a Hail Mary Pass? Oh hell no! He is going to be having a very rough few months. Huffington Post and other media power posters are not going to let it die. Me? I am going to sit here and try not think about how I still cannot go for a walk in my neighborhood. How I still have not talked to my mother about what happened How I worried for a decade if I had some horrific STD by being raped in 1997 and still to this day if something goes wrong (normal vaginal things), I get a panic attack because of the men who raped me. How is that OK because boys will be boys… I cannot even go enjoy my world, my life here in this gorgeous state of Alaska because of what happened? It isn’t OK, not even in the slightest.
No more Hail Mary Passes. Being a boy has to do with a chromosomes and genetics, being a girl means we get all the X’s and you don’t *smiling*. Being a human in this day and age means you have a responsibility to raise your children to respect people no matter if they have a penis or a vagina.
–The below post which prompted my diatribe originally was posted in Tumblr (where I found it and reposted to my own and am reposting here. In looking for more info I found it posted by the girl herself where she asked her Facebook page and Tumblr be kept private on Huffington Post so I am going to remove the Tumblr link so instead, let’s link this to her Huffington post link over at Huff Post Teen!
Why I’m Taking a Stand Against My School’s ‘Dress Code’
Original Photo via Marian Mayer’s Tumblr Page
Feel free to sexually harass me if you’re male. You know what they say “Boys will be boys.”. Although I’m not sure any of you will want to do that since I’m not very modest, therefore not attractive.
The new principal at my school used two phrases while addressing new dress code rules to a class.”Modest is hottest.” and “Boys will be boys.”
He should have said something more along the lines of: “The school dress code was established to provide our students with a safe and orderly learning environment that is free from distractions.”Let’s start with the phrase “Modest is hottest.” Shall we? (read the rest….)
(Read the full article on Huff Teen Post here)