According to Campus Reform, an organization at Duke University called “Men’s Project” is seeking to help men “begin the work of unlearning violence.” Kind of sounds like a rehabilitation program for violent offenders, doesn’t it? It’s not. It’s an organization for college students. For the past three years, the group has been working to convince students that all men, whether they know it or not, are guilty of promoting “rape culture.” But don’t worry, Men’s Project — and similar groups at at least six other colleges in America — is here working to teach young men how to “destabilize masculine privilege” and weed out “toxic masculinity.”
But can it really be true that all men are guilty of promoting rape culture? What even is rape culture? According to Wikipedia, rape culture is “a sociological concept used to describe a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality.”
Let’s just break that down for a second. The dictionary definition of “pervasive” is “spread throughout,” the example being “the corruption is so pervasive that it is accepted as the way to do business.” So, for rape to be pervasive, it would mean that rape is seen as an acceptable way to have sex. The dictionary definition of “normalize” is “to make normal,” as in, rape is seen as normal and legitimate in our country. And, lastly, that it is our attitudes about gender and sexuality that cause us to view rape as an acceptable and legitimate sex act.
What is this nonsense?! Nobody denies that rape is bad. Nobody denies that rape exists. It does exist, and it’s a heinous crime, the perpetrators of which deserve to be punished. But “pervasive and normalized”? As in, “Hey, I just raped someone,” “Oh cool, I’m gonna rape someone next week”? Honestly. That’s ridiculous.
The real idea behind rape culture is that all men (or rather #AllMen) are potential rapists by virtue of being male — that they, in the words of the Duke Men’s Project, “create an environment in which rape culture is possible.” Which is just another way of saying any “traditionally male” behavior is dangerous and must be eradicated. If you’re looking for a dangerous sentiment, that’s it.
If we take all the non-rapist males (which, presumably, encompasses most males) and condition them out of their physical strength, tendency to make quick decisions, and willingness to run into danger, then who is going to protect us women when an actual rapist comes along? Who is going to punch some scumbag’s lights out when he’s coming on too strong? Or walk next to us down a dark street at night? Who will make sure we get home safely after a date? Or get up in the face of the guy at the bar who won’t leave us alone?
It isn’t maleness we need to get rid of. (Real men don’t rape women!) What we need to get rid of is the idea that the innate attributes of the genders are good or bad. They just are. Men just are (on average) physically stronger than women. And they do (on average) have higher sex drives. It’s what we do with those attributes that has moral value.
If colleges have legitimate concerns that women are unsafe on their campuses — rather than vague concerns based on the fact that people with penises attend their institutions — they should offer courses on how men can use their masculinity to adhere to a moral code. Or set up and enforce strict policies for what is, and isn’t, acceptable on campus.
When women are in danger, it isn’t all men who are to blame. Men who do perpetrate rape — or other sexual crimes — should fear the men who don’t. And women should be able to count on the men in their lives for protection when they need it. Rape isn’t a function of “societal attitudes about gender and sexuality.” It’s a function of sexual perversion. And yes, there is a difference.