With never-ending media reports of sexual and other forms of assault and harassment, many perpetrated by men with social, economic or political power, Sexual Assault Prevention Month this year is a grim reminder of how far we have yet to go in preventing sexual assault.
Virginia Slims cigarettes crowed about women’s advancement with their 1970s advertising slogan “You’ve come a long way, baby.” This is not something that can be said about progress on sexual assault. In fact, there have been days over the past several months when I have felt as though we are moving backwards.
With each new revelation comes more despair about just how deeply entrenched rape culture is; how seemingly impossible to end.
Eve Ensler’s Over It Redux does not mince words as she names the problem and proposes some possible solutions.
Here are just a few excerpts:
I am over rape culture, where privileged men with political and physical and economic power take what and who they want, when they want it, as much as they want, any time they want it. This would include the super Predator in Chief, Donald Trump . . . Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly . . . the list is endless. . .
I am over room attendants in hotels having to fight for panic buttons because they can hardly bend over to clean a bathtub without the fear of being attacked by male guests . . .
I am over 60 percent of women farm workers suffering sexual abuse, so much so that their place of work has been named the field de calzon, the field of panties. . .
I am over rape victims being re-raped when they go public. . .
I am over women still being silent about rape, because they are made to believe it’s their fault . . .
And, really, deeply, truly, I am over the passivity of good men? Where the hell are you? You live with us, work with us, make love with us, father us, befriend us, brother us, get nurtured and mothered and eternally supported by us, so why aren’t you standing with us? What aren’t you driven to the point of madness and anger by the rape and harassment, degradation and humiliation of us?
Why aren’t you rising in droves, going beyond apologies and confessions, realizing this issue is your issue not ours? Why don’t you see yet if you were to stand as one fierce band of insistent, consistent, loving men speaking to your brothers, calling out to your brothers, interrogating yourselves, dismantling patriarchy in every board room, audition hall, hotel, hospital, office, farm, school, locker room, this whole thing would change overnight?
Maybe this is the year to really, deeply, truly challenge men to end rape. Men we know and love, men we work with, men we encounter socially, men we don’t know. Young men and old men. Kind men. Grumpy men.
It will be uncomfortable for them, but also for us. Many of us let comments go by that we should challenge. I just did it the other evening because I did not want to make other people feel uncomfortable.
It will be a lot of work at first, and people will be annoyed with us. We can expect, once again, to be told we have no sense of humour. (Samantha Bee has certainly found a way to use humour to call men out for their assaultive behaviours.)
Something has to change. Maybe, just maybe, if men start to hold other men accountable, we can end rape culture.