saltxwater submitted this to me, asking the totally legitimate question, ”How big of a douche does someone have to be to get offended by Sexual Assault Awareness Month?” The answer? This big.
This is what the sign in question looks like:
You know, I just checked back in on this post, and something about this last response rubbed me the wrong way. Not because I disagree with anything it said on its own, just because I think it ignored a very real problem in responding to reactions in feminist discourse and I think it missed the context on what it was responding to.
Here’s the deal: Straight cis men do get raped. Straight cis men do get abused. Straight cis men do suffer lots of problems because of weird patriarchal notions of masculinity. You’d be hard pressed to find a feminist that disagrees with those ideas. But here’s the thing: it can’t and shouldn’t dominate the conversation when women or trans men or LGBTQ folks talk about the type of oppression that THEY face. And it does! All the time, and in ways that are totally irrelevant.
When you read a post where a woman describes her rape trauma, and someone comes in and says “Well, men get raped too, what about the men?”, they’re not saying “We’re all potential victims of sexual assault, look at how awful this is, let’s examine it as one entity called “human” that is opposed to this type of behavior in all of its forms.” What they ARE saying is “STFU, woman. This isn’t just a woman problem, so you’re not allowed to talk about it in any terms that acknowledge your womaness, or gender as a factor at all. We don’t care that rape statistics show that women are much, much, more likely to be raped than straight cis men. We certainly don’t care that people with disabilities and trans people face even more severely heightened odds of being raped. We don’t care. Straight cis men get raped too. Therefore this is a non-story and you really shouldn’t be talking about it. Especially not in any context that we don’t agree with or approve of. Men get raped too, so your story is irrelevant.”
That’s why “But what about the menz?” is a meme in feminist circles. It’s because we see that idea ALL THE GODDAMN TIME. If we talk about about anything related to harassment, anything related to how we experience the world on a day to day basis, some asshole will come in and say “Men could conceivably experience that too, YOUR ARGUMENT IS IRRELEVANT.” It’s a derailing tactic. A way of telling us to Shut The Fuck Up, and center the conversation around the people that matter: straight white cis guys.
It’s a reminder that if we make the conversation about us and our own experiences, and we don’t go out of our way to acknowledge those straight, cis white guys… well, clearly it’s because WE are excluding THEM, and it has nothing to do with their inability to identify with us. Because they’re the default. So you can’t talk about human experience in female terms and have it not be automatically exclusionary to the guys that you are not talking about. Or the white people you’re not talking about if you’re discussing the experience of being a person of color. Or the straight people you’re not talking about if you’re talking about being gay.
And as a feminist, let me say this: Guys, I understand that bad things happen to you. I understand that you experience rape, harassment, problems related to sexuality and your masculinity. I get that. When I talk about me? It’s not because I’m refusing to talk about you. You’re allowed in. Share your stories, but stop acting like there’s something wrong with me if I don’t talk about yours every single time I talk about mine. Tell us what happened to you and how it made you feel and why you feel that way. Sit down at the proverbial table with us, have a drink, and tell us what makes you sad about the world.
But don’t you dare fucking interrupt me while you do it. This is a conversation, and in a polite conversation you have to listen and wait for your turn.