Regardless of gender or sex, we should all be interested and devoted in dismantling rape culture (and in the process, patriarchy) because anyone can be a victim of rape. Though rape is a gendered crime, it has affected individuals of all ages, races, sexes, genders, and different socioeconomic backgrounds.
So, let’s talk about.
Related: Quick Blurb on Rape Culture.
In American* culture, and subcultures within, men are mostly always in charge. Look at our family structures, religious institutions, criminal justice system, and politics. You will notice men hold authoritarian roles in each of those [and plenty other] spaces and places. It is simple: many and most of our systems (interpersonal and other) are fixed and structured around our fathers, husbands, and other male leaders guiding and ruling over us. Patriarchy, a societal system, undeniably paves the way for male-dominated structures.
Why Must Patriarchy be Dismantled?
As previously mentioned, patriarchy is the reason our structures are male-dominated. Our society does not value, esteem, view women as an equal to men. This is problematic because, among many things, it enables this idea that if something goes wrong–anything–it is a woman’s fault. Is she in an abusive relationship? Her fault. She could leave any time she wants. She gets harassed? She should learn how to take a joke. She gets assaulted? She should be grateful someone finds her attractive. Did she lose her job over reporting harassment/assault to HR? She’s not tough enough to be in the workplace. Did she get raped? She should have known better than to wear that/get drunk/go out alone/go out with strange men. We could go on and on.
None of those responses focus on the real problem and perpetrators: MEN. Patriarchy doesn’t even remotely question a man’s involvement, but instead shifts the blame on a woman and the narrative then becomes that boys will be boys or men will be men, and girls & women must adjust and learn how to live with and around boys & men so to never bother, upset, or provoke them. Because if we do, well then, it’s our fault, because we already knew how they were.
Do you guys see the problem?
Now, we cannot touch on patriarchy without touching on male trauma and toxic masculinity. Patriarchy tells men to “man up” and to hold back tears, emotions, affection. This is a dangerous part of a boy’s socialization that becomes deeply ingrained into his manhood. He is taught that he is an inherently tough, temperamental, hyper-sexual being (because “that’s what being a man is”) and maneuvers through spaces attempting to prove that he is, in fact, a man as defined by society. Dismantling patriarchy not only benefits women but relieves men from unrealistic, incredibly unhealthy, expectations that lead to violence against women and children, and other men too.
Let’s begin with the literal definition of culture. Culture is “ “
What Can We Do?
- We need to recognize and address toxic masculinity as a by-product of our patriarchal society. Challenge masculinity and what it looks like. Men, do not let a patriarchal society define what masculinity looks like for you. Do not dictate what masculinity looks like for your children.
- Do away with gender roles and norms. Acknowledge they are unhealthy in any relationship.
- Consent. Consent. Consent. Learn what it looks like. Learn how to ask for it. Talk to your friends about it. Know that you can change your mind. Know that you can say no. Do your friends know that a drunk yes is not a yes? Do your friends know that an absence of no is not a yes? Talk to your sons and daughters about it. These are conversations we should be having.
- We, men AND women, must educate ourselves on women’s issues, gendered violence, and gendered crimes. This is not solely our problem because we are more likely to be the victims of rape, abuse, assault, harassment, victim-blaming, and slut-shaming. Men, YOU MUST stand with us and for us. Use your male-privilege and voice to stop your friends and family from perpetuating rape culture. Unlearn the misogyny you were taught was OK.
- Shut down that friend of yours making rape jokes.
- STOP OBJECTIFYING WOMEN THEN CALLING THEM SLUTS & HOES WHEN YOU CAN NO LONGER SEXUALIZE THEM BECAUSE THEY TOOK CONTROL OF THEIR OWN BODY & SEXUALITY. We do not deserve harassment, assault, abuse, rape because we are comfortable with sex/our sexuality.
- Language: Pay attention to how you talk about women and the ideas you have of them. Is your language/thoughts negative? So what are you gonna do about it?
- Call out misogyny. Call out sexism. At the dinner table. At the bar. Just do it.
- Catch yourself victim-blaming/slut-shaming? Shut yourself down.
- Let women speak and listen to them then make changes in your life accordingly.
Links to Readings and Organizations
Read on power and patriarchy here.
Click here for a list of men’s Anti-Violence Organizations around the U.S.
- Ages 12-34 are the highest risk years for rape and sexual assault.4
- 90% of adult rape victims are women.3
- As of 1998, an estimated 17.7 million American women had been victims of attempted or completed rape.1
The largest misconception is that rape affects solely women and children. This idea is false and flawed in so many ways.
- As of 1998, 2.78 million men in the U.S. had been victims of attempted or completed rape.1
- 1 out of every 10 rape victims is male.2
Related: Quick Blurb on Rape Culture.
- National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey (1998). (Statistic presents information on the total number of male and female victims in the United States, using a study from 1998. Because the U.S. population has increased substantially since then, it is probable that the number of victims has, as well. RAINN presents this data for educational purposes only, and strongly recommends using the citations to review any and all sources for more information and detail.)
- Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Female Victims of Sexual Violence, 1994-2010 (2013).
- Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement (2000).
- Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sex Offenses and Offenders (1997).
* I do not feel comfortable commenting on patriarchal structures outside of the culture, community, and society I belong to. Though the patriarchal system is universally the same, the structures within different countries/cultures could differ and I do not feel it is my place to talk about patriarchy in, say, India because I do not know what it is to be oppressed by patriarchy in India. I may apply universal macro and micro analyses and sociological theories to other societies and communities but my blogs will mostly center around social issues in the U.S., Mexico, and Chicanx/Latinx communities.