When men see women’s human faces, they cannot rape
“Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.”
I have heard people theorize that the rapes in India stem from a lack of women. And it’s true that the world’s war on women has manifested in the prebirth slaughter of females, and post-birth infanticide, mostly by neglect, which has resulted in a world gender imbalance of (based on a 100 to 99 male vs. female population ratio) of 70 million missing women and girls. This would, indeed, leave an awful lot of single men at loose ends, particularly if you buy into the cultural mythos that men have a right to have access to women, as if we are objects available for acquisition.
Apart from the fact that only we have a right to ourselves, I have another theory about this. I think we are suffering from a global separation that starts at birth and continues throughout our lives. Baby boys and baby girls are separated at birth by being valued differently (girls more often less than their brothers). From the git-go, we are defined differently by cultural expectations regarding our natures and our behaviors. We are dressed differently and in some cultures, will suffer if we try to resist that. Our hair is done differently. We are offered different toys.
Now mind you, I’ll have to agree that the social experiment of the 1970s where children were nurtured as if there were no such thing as gender differences was not a resounding success. Regardless of gender-neutral upbringing, give little girls a stick, and a whole lot of them will wrap it in a blanket and try to cuddle it. Give a little boy the same stick and it’s likely to be a sword or a gun. But that’s not all girls and not all boys, either. We shove them into their rigid roles to the point where a picture of a woman painting her little son’s nails with fingernail polish generated howls and shrieks that reverbrated all over the Internet.
That’s just the surface of it, though. We are moved apart by social and cultural mores until our divide might as well be continental. In so many ways, we are absolute strangers to each other. We have to look hard to see the person rather than the gender. It’s difficult enough in western cultures, but in India, in the Middle East, in much of the rest of the world, the separation has dimensions like the Great Wall of China. Or the Pacific Ocean.
But even in the west, even when boys and girls go to school together, when men and women work together, we still don’t see each other as people. Even here, men are taught that they are superior to women. If you don’t think so, try telling a man he’s like a woman in any fashion and see what he does. If a woman does something well, a man will tell her she’s doing it as well as a guy. If you tell a man he’s doing something like a woman, he’ll be insulted and even outraged. And take a good hard look at what we use for insults. They aren’t referring to kittycats when they call someone a “pussy,” or its derivative euphemism, “wussy.” You’re not going to see a person as human if you’ve been raised to think you are intrinsically superior.
The problem is, we really are all people first. For example, the person I know best – me. These truths are simply human. I am married. I love kids. I draw fantasy art. I was also a power lifter for years. I have a red belt in mixed martial arts. I know many languages. I like gadgets – a lot. I am also fascinated by forensics and can generally tell most causes of death by just looking at the picture. So far are these traits gendered? Not really. Here’s more: I am a straight, caucasian woman. I am a mother and I am a grandmother. That’s where I’m gendered. But much of me, like anybody, is not.
My father and my husband both love to get flowers, particularly carnations. The sons of the martial arts teachers adored babies and were often seen carting around the newborns from the martial arts families. My daughter changes the lightbulbs on her car. My friend Cam likes to grill and she’s darned good at it, too.
The point is, we have human faces; their gender is secondary, as is nationality, religion or race.
I think that we, as a global society, must first see each other as people. It’s both simpler and more difficult than it sounds. Boys and girls must be raised together, must be allowed to get to know each other as friends and compatriots so that they are not strangers to each other, because I honestly don’t think that men who see women as people can possibly rape.
We are the same species. Isn’t it about time to make friends?