Rape has been a topic in the spotlight recently. Whilst some men are very vocal about the issue, many remain silent. The voices being raised are not only talking about the action of rape but the deeper root which is the culture of rape, popularly known as Rape Culture.
I believe that some men are vocal about the topic of rape culture because they want to hide their own indiscretions around past sexual behaviour. And many men are silent because they are paralysed by the feeling that they are disqualified to speak about the topic for they know that have been contributors to rape culture.
The percentage of men who actually rape women or children in comparison to the wilder population is low, but when we talk about wider rape culture, all men are in some way contributors. Here are a few things we men might have done in contributing to RAPE culture:
- Praising men who have slept with multiple partners
- Highlighting a part of a woman’s body that appeals to you and demeaning other woman who do not have it
- Fantasying of having sex with a woman you are not married to
- Demeaning women who have been cheated on but praising the men for cheating
- Seeing woman as reckless but seeing men as shrewd and smart
- Viewing women as game to be hunted and not image bearers to be loved
- Laughing with other men when they tell stories that in one way or another demean women
- Giving or withholding opportunities to women because they look or don’t look a certain way
- Being kind or unkind to women based on how they look
- Cat calling women
- Disempowering women with words or choices
- Objectifying and demeaning women by looking at porn resulting in viewing women as objects to be used and not people to be loved
In my opinion, every man has somehow contributed to rape culture. So even though you’ve never abused a woman physically and you stand solidly against rape and gender based violence, even the smallest action around this issue cannot be dismissed. So when the conversation goes to rape culture, how do you speak and respond to that issue?
The best way men can respond to this issue is three fold:
Men have to OWN their own contribution
As men we need to speak on rape culture, not as outsiders, but as people inside the problem who need changing. Part of a solution to a problem is to name your own reality and accept what’s there. As men we need to own the ways we have contributed to rape culture. We can’t change what we can’t name.
Men have to MOURN their own contribution
As men we need to mourn the consequences of our own actions. Actions have consequences and because of our actions a lot of women have been hurt. The reality of the abuse our sisters and daughters are enduring is heart breaking. This injustice has to break our hearts. We can’t change what we can’t mourn.
Men have to MEND the disconnect
Part of the process of healing is recognising where the sickness is. I strongly believe that people don’t sin in a vacuum. Our sinful behaviour is a result of a brokenness we are carrying. For most men their brokenness stems our of the reality that they have been fed the wrong information. Most men have been shown unhealthy role models which, in this case is then upheld by culture. We need to recognise this brokenness.
We need to start on the path of the healing of our brokenness but we need to realise where we are broken and seek the help we need. If we don’t acknowledge and seek help for our brokenness, we will go back to it. And then we run the risk of being only voices calling for change without being changed ourselves.
If we can’t see how we contribute to this issue we will run the risk of being perpetrators of the same sin. We will run the risk of throwing stones to hide from our own indiscretion, rather than to protect the vulnerable. But when we own and mourn our own sin and our own role in the wider issue, it helps us avoid speaking up to hide from our own sins or being paralysed by our feeling of disqualification.
So I want to ask you today, how do you need to own and mourn your role in rape culture? Are you willing to look at your own brokenness and seek the help you need so you can receive the healing you need?
Are you willing to let God make you the change you want to see?