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Tackling the Roots of Rape [NY Times: Frank Bruni]

13 Aug

Tackling the Roots of Rape [NY Times: Frank Bruni]

I know this is preaching to the choir here, but still:

At a time of heightened concern about rape and related crimes in the armed services, he’s being welcomed as someone with insights into the problem.

Its deepest roots, he said, are the cult of hyper-masculinity, which tells boys that aggression is natural and sexual conquest enviable, and a set of laws and language that cast women as inferior, pliable, even disposable.

“We start boys off at a very early age,” Kilmartin told me during a recent phone conversation. “When the worst thing we say to a boy in sports is that he throws ‘like a girl,’ we teach boys to disrespect the feminine and disrespect women. That’s the cultural undercurrent of rape.”

Boys see women objectified in popular entertainment and tossed around like rag dolls in pornography. They encounter fewer women than men in positions of leadership. They hear politicians advocate for legislation like the Virginia anti-abortion bill that would have required women who wanted to end pregnancies to submit to an invasive vaginal ultrasound.

“Before you make a reproductive choice, you are going to be required to have somebody penetrate you with an object,” he said. “That’s very paternalistic: we know what’s right. You’re not in control of your own body.”

He noted that discussions of domestic violence more often included the question of why a battered woman stayed than the question of why a battering man struck, as if the striking was to be expected. 

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