The good news from Will’s very bad, no-good column is that anti-rape activism is clearly having a profound effect on the culture. The rape-apologist backlash – sadly, Will is hardly alone in his ignorance – is in full effect precisely because feminist language and recommendations around sexual assault are being taken seriously by the White House, the media and (hopefully, soon) schools as well. For people like Will – misogynists who believe rape is about “ambiguities” rather than violence – this shift also represents a win for feminists more generally.
Today, if you argue that women who drink or who dared to have past consensual sexual encounters are somehow un-rapeable, you will get taken to task. There’s much work to be, for sure – victim-blaming is still much the norm in some circles – but gone are the days when you could say something stupid and sexist and it would go unnoticed or applauded. I’m sure that this change in what’s socially acceptable terrifies Will and his cohort because it upends everything they believe about women, sex and consent – and it reveals them for the dinosaurs that they are.
I’m willing to bet that Will has an inbox full of emails from rape survivors (no, no scare quotes necessary) who are educating him on exactly the kind of perks they got if they came forward. I doubt these people’s stories will change his mind, but I do know they’re changing the country.
For the first time in my life, I can literally see positive change happening in our cultural consciousness. And it’s thrilling and an honor to be part of it.
I quite intentionally refused to set a theme for this blog but it’s been eye opening to see which very few posts have gone viral since I’ve been tumbling.
And for original content, this screenshot of my #safetytipsforladies tweet I posted last year has almost 25,000 notes.
Given that all the posts that seem to resonate most are feminist themed, it stands to reason that a fair percentage of my followers are likely women or nonbinary.
What’s funny is I never figured on women following me. For a good chunk of my life I was frightened by women, many of whom acted threatened by me because of some imagined competition for their man.
But all that aside, I’m super hopeful and excited for the younger generations who are coming of age in this atmosphere of tearing down rape culture and male entitlement and white supremacy and all that.
Hell, I’m even hopeful for the older generations, many members of whom are letting go of lifetime prejudices in favor of more compassionate and informed worldviews.
But seriously though, this is a Thing. Like universal seatbelt wearing. Not littering. Not smoking inside. Mass incarceration. Widespread cultural change that seemed bizarre when I was a kid growing up in the seventies now just seems “natural” or the “way it’s always been”.
And soon, very soon, our culture is going to have a new “natural” way to look at rape, one that doesn’t view it as the inevitable consequence of being feminine or powerless. Even now it seems inconceivable that this near future societal definition could treat rape (and sexual assault) seriously, like a real crime, with real consequences, but a tiny little part of me is reaching for that light, that flicker of hope that we really are on that path, that that’s our destination, and that together, we’ll make it there.