To all those who don’t think the rape joke was a problem, or rape jokes are a problem.
I get it, you’re a decent guy. I can even believe it. You’ve never raped anybody. You would NEVER rape anybody. You’re upset that all these feminists are trying to accuse you of doing something or connect you to doing something that, as far as you’re concerned, you’ve never done and would never condone.
And they’ve told you about triggers, and PTSD, and how one in six women is a survivor, and you get it. You do. But you can’t let every time someone gets all upset get in the way of you having a good time, right?
So fine. If all those arguments aren’t going anything for you, let me tell you this. And I tell you this because I genuinely believe you mean it when you say you don’t want to hurt anybody, and you don’t see the harm, and that it’s important to you to do your best to be a decent and good person. And I genuinely believe you when you say you would never associate with a rapist and you think rape really is a very bad thing.
Because this is why I refuse to take rape jokes sitting down-
6% of college age men, slightly over 1 in 20, will admit to raping someone in anonymous surveys, as long as the word “rape” isn’t used in the description of the act.
6% of Penny Arcade’s target demographic will admit to actually being rapists when asked.
A lot of people accuse feminists of thinking that all men are rapists. That’s not true. But do you know who think all men are rapists?
They really do. In psychological study, the profiling, the studies, it comes out again and again.
Virtually all rapists genuinely believe that all men rape, and other men just keep it hushed up better. And more, these people who really are rapists are constantly reaffirmed in their belief about the rest of mankind being rapists like them by things like rape jokes, that dismiss and normalize the idea of rape.
If one in twenty guys is a real and true rapist, and you have any amount of social activity with other guys like yourself, really cool guy, then it is almost a statistical certainty that one time hanging out with friends and their friends, playing Halo with a bunch of guys online, in a WoW guild, or elsewhere, you were talking to a rapist. Not your fault. You can’t tell a rapist apart any better than anyone else can. It’s not like they announce themselves.
But, here’s the thing. It’s very likely that in some of these interactions with these guys, at some point or another someone told a rape joke. You, decent guy that you are, understood that they didn’t mean it, and it was just a joke. And so you laughed.
And, decent guy who would never condone rape, who would step in and stop rape if he saw it, who understands that rape is awful and wrong and bad, when you laughed?
That rapist who was in the group with you, that rapist thought that you were on his side. That rapist knew that you were a rapist like him. And he felt validated, and he felt he was among his comrades.
You. The rapist’s comrade.
And if that doesn’t make you feel sick to your stomach, if that doesn’t make you want to throw up, if that doesn’t disturb you or bother you or make you feel like maybe you should at least consider not participating in that kind of humor anymore…
Well, maybe you aren’t as opposed to rapists as you claim.
This evening I had a very pleasant time with Holly, which began with her mentioning how much she liked the song “Across the Universe” and me playing her the version of the song by Laibach, which has always been my favourite. “Dad,” she said, happily, “This was the version of the song I knew as a little girl. You used to play it. I always wondered why the Beatles one sounded different from the way I expected. I mean you could understand the words for a start.” Then we sat in front of the computer for a few hours and I made her a playlist of more songs she had loved as a small girl, the ones she’d remembered and the ones she’d forgotten, which led to our having The Conversation. You know, the one I’ve known was coming for the last almost-nineteen years.
I dragged songs from her childhood over to the playlist — “Barcelona” and “Nothing Compares 2 U” and “I Don’t Like Mondays” and “These Foolish Things” and then came Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side”. “You named me from this song, didn’t you?” said Holly as the first bass notes sang. “Yup,” I said.
Lou started singing.
Holly listened to the first verse, and for the first time, actually heard the words.
"Shaved her legs and then he was a she…? He?"
"That’s right," I said, and bit the bullet. We were having The Conversation. "You were named after a drag queen in a Lou Reed song."
She grinned like a light going on. “Oh dad. I do love you,” she said. Then she picked up an envelope and wrote what I’d just said down on the back, in case she forgot it.
I’m not sure that I’d ever expected The Conversation to go quite like that.- http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2004/05/in-which-author-finally-has.asp (and Holly, nine years later an out queer milliner, is to be found at http://hollyherself.tumblr.com/)
Last night I held my father’s hand while he dozed in the car next to me, tired and sad about Lou Reed’s death. A few silent tears fell onto my cheeks, not so much for Lou but more for my dad and his sorrow. I know Lou Reed meant so much to him he named his daughter after a line in one of his songs.
I’m so proud to be named for this song. It’s always been a part of me. When I was little I loved doing the “do do do do do”s. When I was 19 and just coming out for the first time realising my namesake was non-heteronormative meant so much to me, it made vocalising my sexuality feel infinitely safer. Now I’m so proud to be queer, and an important part of that for me is striving to be an ally to the trans* community. Thank you, dad, and thank you, Lou, for making that something as intrinsically part of me as my name.
Ah. So much love…