- September 15, 2013 in Columnists
Real men don’t rape
Three years ago my then-13 year old granddaughter Lauryn went on MySpace on my laptop computer. When I went to use my laptop later, I saw that she’d forgotten to log off. So I did what a lot of parents, grandparents and guardians do: I checked out whom she’d been talking to. I know a lot of people believe that violates a child’s privacy but it’s my computer, my house and my rules. Besides, my granddaughter’s safety trumps privacy concerns at 13.
Lauryn was corresponding with a guy who said he was 18 who was busy trying to get her to have sex. After Lauryn rebuffed him telling him to find someone his own age so he won’t get arrested, he persisted, telling her they could keep it quiet. I was seething and wanted to cause this guy great bodily harm.
Online sexual predators, date rape, sex offender laws and related issues are frequently in the news in the U.S. as we continue to battle these horrible crimes. But lately, the news from around the world is even more nightmarish.
- Last week came the truly nauseating news that an 8-year-old Yemeni girl died from vaginal bleeding after her 40-year-old “husband” raped her on their “wedding” night. The incident has sparked a debate about child brides.
- A Norwegian woman who reported being raped to police in Dubai was sentenced to 16 months in prison for “unlawful sexual intercourse.” Her rapist got less time.
- Five men and a minor gang-raped a 23-year-old woman on a bus in Delhi, India last December. She and a male friend were also viciously beaten. An iron rod was inserted in the woman’s vagina and most of her intestines were pulled out. She later died of her injuries.
- Reminiscent of that attack, just last month, a female photojournalist in Mumbai, India was gang raped while her male companion was beaten.
- And of course two years ago, CBS reporter Lara Logan was brutally gang raped by a mob while covering unrest in Cairo, Egypt.
- The practice of raping young boys, having child sex slaves, is common in Afghanistan and has gone on for centuries. It bewildered NATO troops by how open Afghans are about the practice.
- In a multi-country survey published in the Lancet Global Health journal of 10,000 men in Asia, nearly 25 percent admitted they’d raped in the past. Ten percent say they’ve raped a stranger but when spouses are included it went up to a quarter.
In 2013, rape, the soul crushing violation of a person’s body, seems to have reached epidemic proportions on this planet. It’s estimated that one in three women will be victimized in her lifetime. It’s hard to wrap one’s head around that. At a time when mankind has reached the greatest heights of technology, education and information, we’re still behaving like savages.
As enlightened as the West and specifically the United States is on women’s rights we have a serious problem in this country. Just last year the FBI changed its definition of rape, having kept statistics only on “forcible rape.” Rape takes many forms. Also, the FBI didn’t include anal and oral penetration in their statistics. Any victim can tell you that rape is rape when they’re violated in any physical sexual manner.
The U.S. military has its own problem with rape. Roughly, one in three women in the U.S. military are raped at some point in their career, double the general population. A 2012 U.S. Army report found that sexual violence has increased 64 percent since 2006. While men are also victims, 95 percent of victims are female. It’s hard to keep blindly applauding our military as heroes if one in three of our female soldiers can’t do her job defending us without being victimized by her fellow soldiers.
This horror needs to stop yesterday. Like terror, WMD proliferation, disease and hunger, this is an issue that deserves worldwide attention. Why didn’t this subject dominate the recent G20 summit in Russia? Yes, chemical weapons, civil war and refugees from the Syrian conflict deserve the attention of world leaders but how could this issue not be center stage? It affects billions around the globe. The ripple effect of a shattered psyche from sexual brutalization touches many more lives than Assad’s nerve gas.
The U.S. has committed to giving Yemen $256 million of your tax dollars in fiscal year 2013. Surely, we can strongly lodge our dissent with child brides. We should be speaking out forcefully for women’s and children’s rights around the globe regardless if a country is sucking on the American teat or not, but especially if they are.
Rape as a weapon of warfare and patriarchal societies has probably existed since the dawn of man. But we can’t throw up our hands and shrug and say, “That’s the way it’s been and it’s the way it’ll always be.” Hell no. If we want different results, we’re going to have to do things differently.
When you look at the enormity of the problem, it seems daunting. But there is something you reading this can do. When I found out a man was trying to rape my granddaughter, I printed out his messages and contacted Lauryn’s mother. She went to a detective who specialized in cyber crimes. After a painstaking investigation where it was discovered that this creep had contacted many other young girls, he was arrested. He pled guilty.
That’s one thing we can do. Lock up violators.
The other thing is… I have an 8-year-old grandson named Kawika (we call him Vika). And he’s being taught just like many children are being taught that no one has the right to touch him inappropriately. He’s being taught to tell an adult. We have to protect our children.
But beyond that, I’m going to do my part to teach him to respect women. I’m going to help teach him what real masculinity is, and not this pseudo-masculine bullshit that our rape culture feeds young people. I’m going to teach him that life isn’t a big rap video with scantily-clad twerking women just asking for it, that real men protect women and that he’s got to be man enough to call out his friends on their sexually abusive behavior when he’s older.
Young men need to be taught what consent is. A drunk girl, a high girl, an unconscious girl or sleeping girl cannot give consent. Underage people cannot give consent.
We expend a lot of energy battling our daughters on provocative dress. We tell them to walk in groups and let us know where they are. We tell them to say no. No means no. Some give their teens pepper spray. We expend a lot of energy trying to ensure women don’t become victims.
We need to expend that same effort teaching young men not to become perpetrators.
No, I can’t change sick sexual predators. I can’t change Neanderthal mindsets in some men. I can’t stop child brides in various countries and cultures around the world. I’m not going to be able to stop Afghans from raping boys, sexual tourism in Asia, rape as a weapon of warfare and patriarchal cultures that feel they have a right to violate the rights and bodies of women.
But I helped stop that bastard from touching my granddaughter. And I can help keep my grandson from being abusive. That’s what I can do. What can you do?
For more information, see http://www.mencanstoprape.org
- September 15, 2013 at 6:20 pm
- September 15, 2013 at 6:57 pm