She’s been degraded, exploited, NOT celebrated,
Saturated with self hatred,
Cause every time she turns on the TV,
What does she see, big ol’ booty,
And it don’t have nothing to do with the song…
Jill Scott – The Thickness
I wonder how she was dressed. I wonder if she willingly tempted them to want her. I wonder if she thought they were gentlemen. I wonder if she thought they were attractive.
I wonder if she wanted to have sex with any of them. I wonder what changed her mind. No matter how much I wonder or think about what it could feel like, I don’t have a clue what went through her mind before and after she was assaulted. She is 14 years old, raped by at least 3 young men, and there is nothing a girl can do to be assaulted by a group of boys and men. This crime was not the fault of a woman, but of boys and men in a world where power and control of others supersede humane interactions.
Rape is a mental or emotional, physical, sexual act, where power is exerted over another person. The power is used to forcefully restrain, control, exploit, and penetrate the oral, anal or vaginal cavity of that other person. Rape is forced sex, sex without consent.
I don’t know what it feels like to be sexually victimised, or maybe I do? Being male generally implies that you are impenetrable, physically and emotionally. There is little difference for boys who are force ripe to recycle the manifestations of traditional masculinity.
One trait that’s particularly disturbing is the sex machine characteristic of a real man’s identity. If there is any form of victimisation that men should all acknowledge no matter our sexual orientation, it is the notion of men always being sexually virile. These characteristics make us victims of the false expectations and rigid stereotypes of this patriarchal world.
Disclosing one’s sexual history in many quarters is considered an important part of establishing a solid relationship, and most of us have some closeted issues that make us vulnerable to the expression of emotions we are asked to lock away from the public.
From issues of uncontrolled ejaculations, to our evident self consciousness of penis sizes, we ignore how painful it can be living up to these illusions of masculinity. Most women are expected to have at least one experience of a sexual intrusion; men aren’t. How many times have you heard of women being groped by men? And how many women actually report these incidents?
By the time I was 17 years old I wanted, and in many ways dreamt day and night of having sex, but sex also instilled fear. Fear highlighted by the vulnerabilities of living up to the idea of male sexual prowess. The fear of what would be said about your sexual performance was real because we all talk to someone about our relationships. Unlike the boys and young man of Antigua’s most recently publicised rape case I never attempted to coerce a girl to have sex with me and my buddies.
During my childhood I was never inveigled by a man or woman to have sex with them, but I wonder how forthcoming I would have been to report such a case. In the minds of most boys and men, if a woman were to make such an indecent proposal, it can be considered an achievement on the part of the boy.
However, if one of our sons was in a same-sex relationship with an adult, I won’t be surprised if a police report would be ignored for fear of the social embarrassment, even exclusion of your child being labelled gay. This is a classical example of the contradiction and deviance of patriarchy itself.
My late adolescence was full of many stupid experiences, but never did I think of, or valued gang-banging a girl in an abandoned or unsupervised house. Never did I hesitate to confront my classmates who fancied that activity, or dared to perpetrate incestuous relations with their cousins or step-sisters. It’s simply not healthy, and disturbing to read of or hear young men express the same high school scenarios of 15-plus years ago.
As if the situation wasn’t bad enough, my sex education class was hanging out with the guys looking at blue movies, and in no way does it compare, even though in many ways it was just as violent as what many boys see on free Internet porn sites today. Rape is now a category of pornographic material, teaching boys and reinforcing to men everything that sexual relationships should not be about.
Our culture has successfully pushed women to serve sex, and for men to take sex from whomever we choose. It has instructed us that sex, in many ways is transactional with men obligated to demand sexual services post a date. It’s blurred the lines of pleasure and pain, leaving sex education in the domain of the mass media, whether transmitted by smartphone, or infused in advertising. At no time are we getting messages to contradict the exploitation of both sexes, or to remind our boys and men that consent is imperative, and that no means NO, whether she smiles while saying it or not.
For all the programmes I never received in school, I hope that the Directorate of Gender Affairs’ Partnership for Peace initiative gets the full support it deserves. An educational course has never been launched at such a crucial time to engage boys to prevent the crimes of sexual violence against themselves and girls.
The message seems clear, that we are fed up of ignoring the aggressive sexual culture that’s been nurturing rapists – not humane men, and there is no better way to start than in our schools.