How Do We Make All This Stuff Actually Accessible?

November 5, 2017

My old titles I was considering: How Do We *Really* Learn About This Stuff? / How Do We *Really* Listen To Women?

I think those maybe might sound like dumb questions… and they maybe, might be dumb questions…

Here’s what I’m trying to say… Through therapy, books, twitter, conversations, etc., I have learned a lot about misconceptions about domestic violence, and super-duper internalized misogyny throughout America. I’ve learned about “rape culture” and how prevalent and institutionalized and ingrained it is. I’ve learned so much.

And now I feel like I understand all these “feminist” words that are being used… I feel like some of these ideas (such as rape culture) are real, and important to talk about and understand.

And now that I’m sort of “in this world,” I feel happy yo have a language with which to talk about this stuff. And i also feel like it makes talking about this stuff easier when certain concepts start to have names.

But.

I used to kind of tune out a little when I heard “patriarchy” or “rape culture,” etc. And if I – a somewhat progressive-ish, at least feminist-ish woman thinks, “Oh my. Let’s all settle down,” imagine how some other people are feeling about those words. I know plenty of men who tune them out.

But now they’ve become sort of part of my lexicon.

So, I don’t know. I think it’s important to use language that’s seemingly accessible to all and not really intimidating. So, I try to be careful-ish about not overusing those words.

But I also wish we could talk about them in a way that made the conversation easier once we all got on the same page about overall concepts.

Anyway, I have no answers. But I do think some of this “feminist language” is both helpful and almost not-helpful at the same time, depending on the audience. And it’s just something I think about…

2 thoughts on “How Do We Make All This Stuff Actually Accessible?”

  1. It’s a great question. A bit tangential, but most of us have been the victim of theft multiple times, but we don’t talk about “thief culture.” To be honest, I’ve never exactly figured out what exactly “rape culture” is or why that’s a better frame than “criminals who should be jailed before they strike again.” But evidently the term has value to many, so I’m probably just whiffing it. Feel free to educate me here.

    1. Hi Kevin! Thanks for your comment. I apologize in advance for the long response!

      So, I’m sure there are professionals in the world of sexual assault awareness/prevention/protection of survivors, etc. who can explain it better than I can. But my understanding is that it’s basically the idea that we lay a groundwork in our culture that impacts how not-seriously assault is often taken… Before I try to give some examples, let me delve into your thief thing for a second…

      My studio apartment (back in Boston) was broken into once, and I had a number of things stolen. When the cops came, one remarked to the other (I think so they’d write it in the report) that there was no sign of forced entry. (It turned out that it was a maintenance worker in my building. So, he had keys to everyone’s apartment, and a bunch of people in my building got robbed within a semi-short time span…)

      But at that point, all the cops knew was that I’d called them and told them stuff was stolen when I’d arrived home. But there was no forced entry… They could’ve wondered if I’d left the door open, if I’d thought I’d put stuff in places I didn’t, or if I was even straight up lying to them. And when a survivor of assault comes in to report, that survivor is often treated as a suspect – interrogated from moment one about what they were wearing, what signals they gave, if they fought hard enough, etc..

      But for this, the police did not grill me at all. It wasn’t a million questions of “Are you SURE you locked your door? Are you positive? Did you maybe bring this on yourself in some way? Is there something about your apartment that would lead someone to be too tempted to rob you? Forget it, you didn’t protect yourself enough. It’s not worth filing.” … It was just, “I’m so sorry this happened. Can you make a list with us of everything you can think of that was stolen? It will help when you file your insurance claim.”

      Even another time, in high school, my car had broken down or something as I was trying to leave the school parking lot at night after a rehearsal. My friend was like, “it’s late. Wanna just leave it here and deal with it in the morning? I’ll take you home…” And in the morning my car had been broken into (the window was smashed, and I think they took some parts of the CD player or something…). And the cops weren’t like, “well, the car shouldn’t have been in a dark area at a certain time of night. So, we’re not gonna file the report because you didn’t do enough to protect yourself.” No. They filed a report because someone broke into my car.

      I know these aren’t exact analogies. But I feel like *in general* we don’t live in a culture that tries to shame and/or intimidate people who’ve been robbed, and make a million excuses for thieves (except maybe in piracy, I suppose… but that’s a different discussion, I think…)

      Anyway, back to what I was saying at the top – the groundwork for how assault becomes sort of “okay” as far as some people are concerned in our culture – it’s a lot of things that add up to big things. For instance, in many TV shows/movies/etc. we’ve seen male characters do some things that female characters have expressly asked them not to do – but if the guys do it in a “sweet” way, or it’s a “nice” gesture, then she’s either a jerk if she gets mad, or she just goes and ahead and comes around and loves it after all, ’cause “Oh, looks like he’s a good guy!” All the time, we’re hit with the message that “women don’t reeeeally mean what they say” – and especially “women don’t really mean no if you just persist enough/are a ‘good guy.'”

      We often have women depicted as set dressing or objects in advertisements. (Literally, there are advertisements where women straight up are like half-woman half beer bottle, so I don’t just mean like “sexual objects” by looking like sexy beings (though that probably isn’t super fantastic to be the main way women are so often used in ads), but I mean like literal actual inanimate objects, which is probably not great for our subconscious and how we think about women.)

      And then, I would say this is potentially veering perhaps slightly away from “rape culture” precisely (though I do think it’s kind of related), but even the fact that we’re so unbalanced still with who (statistically) is making money, and who has power/better jobs at companies and such…

      Our culture says in multiple ways all the time that women aren’t as important or as capable as men (so “who cares about their feelings of what happened?” or “can they even be trusted to understand what happened?” or even, “well, we don’t have to listen to her because our entire senior staff is a ‘boys’ club’ that doesn’t have to pay attention to some broad”), that men “know better than the women do” (so, “maybe she didn’t really mean no. He was reading the situation and she was obviously asking for it [in some what shape or form] because he knows better [even when it comes to her own emotions/wishes]”), that men’s lives are much more important than women’s (financially and/or otherwise), (therefore we “must protect the men’s reputation and their career trajectory at all costs, and not the women’s whose doesn’t matter as much”) and on and on and on and on and on.

      I don’t know that I completely did justice in explaining it, and I definitely didn’t get all the nuance, or the nearly unending examples and everything, as I’m sure there are probably whole theses and dissertations and such on this subject. But I think I gave sort of a general overview-ish of at least my base understanding of it. Hopefully it made some sense? And if you’re interested in a jumping off point for reading any more (of which I’m sure there is a giantly large amount), here’s an article of 25 examples that the author feels reflects rape culture

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