Dear Former Classmate/Facebook Commenter,
Man oh man do I have some questions for you. When a friend of mine shared the article about George Lawlor saying “this is not what a rapist looks like”, why did you feel compelled to comment? Why did you feel the need to go out of your way to spread your hateful and judgement-filled opinion on my newsfeed when we haven’t spoken more than a “hello” when I see you in public for years?
What do you think gives you the right to tell me and other women that if we get drunk and have sex then “regret” it later that it isn’t rape? That it’s our fault? What right do you have to say that “calling men rapists” is anywhere near as damaging as having your physical and emotional dignity and identity torn apart by experiencing a sexual assault? Could it possibly be the same privilege that George Lawlor experiences every day? That of a white, heterosexual, middle-class male who has never experienced street harassment, getting groped against your will in a club, or being shamed for enjoying and embracing your sexuality? Do you not see that the throne of privilege you sit on is also a throne of ignorance, hatred, and misogyny? Believe me that in being white, heterosexual, and middle class myself I have often struggled to recognize my privilege. But while it is difficult to do, it is imperative in order to live life as an educated, respectful, loving member of society who advocates for people of all backgrounds.
When you said that “not all men are rapists”, did you for one minute think that I or any other women think that? Do you honestly think that we, as women, believe all of our male friends, significant others, spouses, fathers and brothers are rapists? If you do, I am completely baffled. Do you not realize that ANY men raping women is enough for women to be a little apprehensive? And the fact that 1 in 6 women will be victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime gives women EVERY reason to be afraid? Yes, your point about men also being victims of rape is valid. Though that is the only valid point your comments made.
When you said that teaching the consent standard is victimizing men by calling them rapists “simply because of their genitals” did you for once think that this isn’t rooted in feminist issues? That feminism can’t help men too? Do you think that women being afraid and angry because our bodies aren’t guaranteed safety is for one second less important than your fragile male ego? You and George Lawlor are the exact reason we need consent education for men AND women and for people of all races, ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, ages, and religions. Your ignorance infuriates me and at the same time makes me terribly sad.
And on the note of you saying, “shouldn’t there be education programs to teach people not to get raped” instead of teaching consent: shame on you. Women hear this message day in and day out. We are told that if our skirt is too short, we deserve to get raped. If we get too drunk, we deserve to get raped. If we flirt too much, we deserve to get raped. You are perpetuating an incredibly dangerous culture of victim blaming and slut shaming. Shame on you. I am thankful that I am not a survivor of sexual assault so I cannot speak directly to how these comments feel to survivors. But knowing how angry, hurt, and attacked they make me feel, I can imagine these emotions grow exponentially for those women who have experienced sexual assault.
Thankfully, the hatred and ignorance that you possess has only had the consequence of fueling my fire for advocacy, activism, and education. You have just provided me with another story to use when I teach, another example of why we all need feminism and why we all need to take a second to check our privilege. While you sought to make me feel bad, you did the opposite. I feel powerful. I feel informed. I feel that my purpose is reinvigorated. So while I want to scream “screw you”, instead I will issue a small “thank you”. While your ignorance is dangerous and damaging, the fire you threw gasoline on in me will reach much farther and wider than your ignorance ever will.
The Angry Feminist You Went To Preschool With