A virtual hoard of the shiny things I find on the internet.
Something like 5% of rapes result in pregnancy. One could make the case that 5% does indeed constitute “rare” from a risk-management perspective, but then you’d have to acknowledge that rape is extremely not rare.
There was a standup comedy routine making the rounds a while ago that was cited as an example of one of the few actually funny jokes pertaining to rape. The basic premise was that the Ever Mainard, as a woman walking alone at night, was in a situation where she was concerned for her safety, and the punchline was, “The problem is that every woman in her entire life has that one moment when you think, ‘Oh! Here’s my rape.’”
Let me break it down for you. Humor is based on two things: 1. Surprise 2. Truth. That joke is funny not just because it surprises you that the comedian broke down her thought process into those words, but because women actually DO have that moment. Usually more than once. Hell, I had that moment two weeks ago.
I get it. Listening to Twitter/Tumblr repeat itself ad nauseam about this idiot is wearing, especially when you’d just like to use your Internet presence for what you’d like to use it for and get through your day and it seems like there’s nothing new to say anyway. I don’t blame you for wanting to turn on your Tweetbot mute filters, your Shhh, your Tumblr Savior, whatever.
But before you do that, I’m going to ask you to do me one favor. Especially you dudes. I’m asking you to pause for a second and remind yourself of something: Part of the reason rape is so inexcusably commonplace is because of the cultural mute filter we already have about it. It’s seen as a women’s issue, rather than an issue that affects us all. Women who have been victimized are shamed into silence. The men in their lives dismiss it, or expect them to hush it up and smooth it over so it doesn’t disrupt their friendships or make things awkward. I mean, really, you’re not OVER that yet? (Think I’m exaggerating? Read this shit. And then this shit. Resist the urge to punch someone in the face.) We minimize its impact by using the word “rape” to make jokes about having to pay a lot of money in taxes, or getting killed in a video game.
Ask yourselves, men, about what steps you take to protect yourself from being sexually assaulted. And then ask a few women. I can tell you that I, as a relatively non-fearful person, am careful about who I let handle my drinks, which routes I take to walk the 7 blocks between my home and the Metro station, how I acknowledge men I pass on the street, how fast I’m going on my bike when I pass a man on the trail at night, how I’ve positioned my U-lock in the bike’s rear basket in case I need to reach for it to defend myself, the physical distance between me and a man who approaches me in a parking lot, not staying at parties where there are a lot of drunk guys, not having my earbuds in when I’m walking around after dark, which bags I use to carry things around so I can be sure to have my hands free, etc. These things are second nature to me, but even as I’m writing them out I’m struck by how many rules govern my life just to protect my physical safety, and how many more there would be if I were single and dating.
This is something that I always live with in the back of my mind. It’s a fact of my life, and I don’t get to turn it off because I am tired of dealing with it.
So when an elected representative (and yes, Todd Akin is already a sitting Representative, running for Senate) says something so staggeringly, shockingly ignorant about the life conditions and physical safety of 50% of his constituents, and when that same guy wants a term three times as long in which to legislate issues directly pertaining to that shocking level of ignorance… yeah, there’s going to be some mockery. And outrage. And some of it will be unhelpful. And a lot of it will be repetitive.
But maybe if it gets repeated enough, it’ll sink in. Maybe not to professional intransigents like Todd Akin and his ilk, and this issue is a lot bigger than just that guy anyway, but maybe to some other people who have never stopped to think about this stuff.
You know, if they don’t roll their eyes and mute it first.