I know, that title is a little bit...uncomfortable, and probably makes you not want to read this post. But then, that's part of the problem. If you don't know what I'm talking about, or even if you do know what I'm talking about, you should read Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. She talks about rape - the gang rape of an 11 year old girl and then her own rape - and it led me to thinking about rape. Specifically, why people talk to women about rape but no one talks to men about rape.
When I moved into a downtown apartment, I was told very sternly by multiple people to keep my window blinds closed, to not walk alone late at night, to keep my door padlocked the entire time, to buy a can of mace for my bedside table. I was told to do many things to stop myself from being attacked and/or raped.
I have a question about this: If I did not do any of these things, would I be at fault for being attacked and/or raped?
I have another question about this: What are men told about rape? As far as I am aware, no one sits down a teenaged boy and tells him, "You do not have the right to rape a woman. You do not have the right to do whatever you want with a girl who is walking alone, who is wearing a short skirt, who has large breasts, who has spurned your advances." (Or does this happen? I don't have brothers and I haven't asked my male friends, although I probably will now. But I suspect the answer is no.)
I'm sure part of this is because we assume decent human beings would not rape a woman. I think there is something faulty about this thinking, partly because "rape" is a very vague term that encompasses many different forms of unwanted sexual behavior. It's also obvious that assuming decent human beings don't rape isn't an effective way to stop rape because hey, it's still happening, and I'm being sternly told to do multiple things to prevent rape.
I'm tired of women being shouldered with the burden of stopping rape by "preventing it." I'm tired of women being expected to be the "smart one" about sex because "guys are guys and they can't help it." It's time for the conversation to change, and it starts by having higher expectations for men and having frank discussions about sex and rape with our men when they are boys.