Monday, December 31, 2012

Some Men Suck

“Stop trying to teach women how to not get raped, and start teaching men not to rape.”

~ mocaccino

Sometimes I really hate men.

Like, for example, when six of them take turns brutally raping and beating a 23-year-old physiotherapy student on a bus in New Delhi. (The young woman, who was attacked on December 16, died of organ failure and massive internal injuries last Saturday and the six were charged with murder.)

People are demanding that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh take action and blaming the Indian government for a tin-eared initial reaction that included banning all anti-rape protests. Millions of angry Indians across the country have demanded better protection of women from sexual violence; a rape is reported there every 20 minutes.

Incredulously, the chief of police in Thane, a city near Mumbai, proposed after the attack that females avoid sexual assault by not going out at night or by throwing chili powder at would-be rapists.

India clearly has work to do on the “educate the cavemen” front.

But so does my country. According to the U.S. Justice Department, a woman is raped every two minutes in America. An average of 207,754 females age 12 and older are victims of rape and sexual assault each year – enough to fill New York’s Yankee Stadium more than four times.

I won’t even go into the War on Women being waged in Lansing and Washington, D.C.

I have four daughters, a wife, a mother and female friends, siblings, cousins, neighbors and ex-wives so I have a vested interest in seeing sexual assault eradicated. But the thing is: even if I didn't know a single female – if I had no friends or family and lived like a hermit on the top of a mountain somewhere and only saw women on television – I'd still embrace the notion that no guy should touch a female anywhere, at any time, without her explicit permission/cooperation (and of course never if the female can’t consent). I know I’m not unique or alone in thinking this way – so I can’t understand how any man or culture can justify, minimize, explain or excuse such barbarianism.

I’ve heard more times than I can count that rape is about power and not sex. But from where I sit, those who give in to their most animalistic impulses are the least powerful. They’re weak, sad, sorry, shameful, embarrassing, twisted, savage little wimps who give all of us with penises a bad name. The truly powerful are those who behave with class, empathy, maturity, self-control and respect for the rights of others regardless of gender.

Several years ago I went to the movies with a platonic female friend named Melanie. The reason I remember this particular experience is because as we were walking to my car in the dark, almost-deserted parking lot after the film, Melanie seemed uncomfortable and was walking closer to me than usual, especially when we heard the laughter of males we didn't know and couldn't see. When we were safe in the locked car, I asked her if something was wrong and she answered, “This is just how I am walking around at night.” I said I didn't understand and she went on, “You’re a guy so you don’t need to worry about it, but I always have to pay close attention to every person, noise, bush, tree and corner in the vicinity. Being aware of everything about my surroundings is the best way to avoid being raped or worse.”

And that’s when I first learned how different it is to be a woman – and to be vulnerable at all times not because you’re small or weak or inebriated or distracted, but just because you’re a woman. I’ve never forgotten the lesson and I’ve tried to teach my daughters that, sadly, they too must add an element of vigilance to their every move.

This is not to say that men and boys are never the victims of crime – but I bet we worry about it a lot less.

Bertrand Russell, the late British philosopher and Nobel Prize winner, once said, “Respect for the liberty of others is not a natural impulse in most men.” I like to think that we’ve evolved in the years since his death in 1970. Too bad there’s a grieving family in New Delhi that can prove me quite wrong.

Sources:;;; Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), New York Times.

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