Zero Tolerance Will Yield Zero Impact until We Get Hard On Rape Culture
We have crazy ideas about men. We talk about their primal desires as uncontrollable, insatiable hormone driven NEEDS for sex as if they were fully embuddyed, rendered mindless and essentially emotionally stunted. The overwhelming power of testosterone is their divine curse, comparable to “that time of the month” for a woman. Testosterone as the principal male sex hormone means that we accept that it’s OK for men to always be a “little crazy” when it comes to “that thing”. We generally accept as natural, the idea that sexual choice and decision making almost exclusively comes from what’s between a man’s legs, rather than his eyes or beneath his rib cage. So in 2006 when Dr. McGill was quoted in the Jamaica Gleaner as saying “if there are problems with who [a man] thinks he is, if his social skills are marred but his sexual developments normal, his sex drive pushes him to satisfaction (by any means necessary)” http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20060319/news/news5.html. We swallow this kind of reasoning up. I guess a spoonful of sugar really makes the medicine go down in the most delightful way.
In the field of crazy of ideas, here are a few of my own.
- Men aren’t marginalized, they ARE imprisoned. Overwhelmed by social demands that force them to constantly act out and prove their manhood by performing a kind of masculinity that demands dominance over everything and everybody, particularly women, to gain legitimacy as worthy men. Life as a man in patriarchal prison means you’re on house arrest and you have to wear an annoying ankle bracelet. Sure an ankle bracelet is challenging, but not impossible to live with. So our average man pretends that he’s impervious to pain, and life’s stressors are just tests for which he “mans up”. Our average guy feels the prison of his own house is still better than being locked away in a high security prison, heck anybody can used to an ankle bracelet. Men are reasonably comfortable in their patriarchal prison and are often the chief beneficiaries of its privileges. Privilege can sure make prison life feel like it’s worth it. So what if a guy can’t cry freely or be true to the underlying range of his human emotional responses. Come on, everyone “knows” that the most legitimate masculine emotion is anger anyway. So, many men continue to suppress their capacity for empathy and deny their capacity for substantive human connection. This denial means the majority of imprisoned men which make up a good chunk of the 49% of the population remain committed to reaffirming their manliness while claiming their rights to lead and getting the “best” of all things (and women) the society has to offer.
2. The world doesn’t need one more “nice guy” who DOES NOT take a stance on sexual objectification of women and violence, especially violence against women. Like the word suggests when you objectify a woman you “thingify” her. She becomes primarily her ass, tits, pussy, a Teacha’s Pet, a thing with a rack, wid tings weh jus’ “bubble”, a breathing entity yes, but yuh cyan help but “clap dat” or in Antigua kick een she back door. Wi need fi use our heads, have a conscience and understand that the thingyfication happens when everything we see including printing services on a giant Half Way Tree billboard which has a “girl frog” with legs spread and a caption “You know you want me” or chicken wings advertisements where three attractive women ask “what’s your flavour”, makes women’s humanity more and more invisible. The marketing decisions that produce music and advertising I described included the input of nice guys, and “well reasoned” women. But wait, nice guys, and even well reasoned women, have testosterone too right? Right the stuff that makes you a little sexually crazy.
As I write this Jamaica has been shaken again by another horrific story of how a few men couldn’t control “their crazy”. The men got so crazy on the diet of thingyfication and being constantly told that compassion, caring, and respectful interdependence ah “gyal ting” that they could exploit, defile and damage 5 women, including an 8 year old, all because the only thing worse dan being a “gyal” is being a “batty man”.
Men need to acknowledge that it’s not the damn testosterone, but rather this matrix-like life under house arrest that has left you messed up in your heads and hearts. It appears to me that it’s no coincidence that men make up most of our mentally disturbed and homeless on Kingston’s streets, Jamaica’s homicides are still primarily perpetrated BY men AGAINST other men, and rape and sexual assaults worldwide and in Jamaica are still primarily committed by men. We’ve had spoonfuls and generations of the mind dulling sugary medicine about needing IT so bad men can’t control themselves, that the craziness starts to feel “normal”. Men and women start to believe that men’s unfettered anger, lack of self control and emotional shallowness isn’t great for most societies but hell we accept it, we never really demand more, and currently we just ask that theydon’t let it get out of hand.
So let’s not be disingenuous by saying that this time it was a “deliberate act of violence to show power”. RAPE ALWAYS IS! And we simply don’t take it far enough when we describe the incident “as one of the most shocking, horrific and despicable crimes committed against Jamaican women”. It, like every rape, should be felt by each of us as if it is a crime committed against every Jamaican. The equally important question is what continues to push men so far to the edges of their own humanity? What is happening in the emotional and psychological life of the man who rapes AND the man who silently just hopes that it won’t happen to a woman he loves? What causes the disconnection so deep that men can comfortably thingify women and reduce the complexity of sexual desire to a demand made by a penis? When we naturalize male violence, accept thingyfication and fail to help men fulfill the fullest expressions of themselves, we create cultures that propagate rape and widespread complicity. Until we are willing to take responsibility for those things, the work towards zero tolerance for sexual violence will continue to be undermined almost to the extent that it has zero impact.
Article by Jamaican feminist activist and social entrepreneur, Georgia Love.
Image source: Lime Jamaica