Rape culture. Those are two words I never thought I’d see together. But lately I’ve read blog post after blog post discussing the world of rape culture and why so many men don’t understand the concept of consent. Coinciding with a week where feminism and “leaning in” are the topics du jour, it’s important to see the social connection here.
While we as women are arguing over whom the real feminists are, and whether or not feminism means embracing ourselves as women or becoming more like men, there is an entire debate going on about rape and consent. If a girl gets completely wasted and is acting sexual, but her eyes are rolling into the back of her head and you can tell she won’t remember this tomorrow, can a man have sex with her?
In Steubenville, the judge ruled that it was rape. Two teenage boys are sentenced to time in a juvenile detention facility, and a town is divided. Two teenage girls were arrested after the trial ended for threatening the victim via social media. This judge ain’t messing around. The victim was passed out. They referred to her in tweets as a “dead body.” She was photographed and videotaped and physically and sexually abused. After months of online discussions over whether or not the girl should be to blame since she was dressed provocatively and got drunk with a football team, an argument which loosely translates to, “She was asking for it,” I sometimes feel like I’m in the fictional Jewish town of Chelm.
As one of the myths has it that just after Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, God looked down and realized all these new people on earth would need souls. He stirred up a batch of souls using the Big Dipper as a spoon and the Little Dipper as a ladle. He filled jars with different types, from quarrelsome to peaceful, leaders to followers, honest to dishonest, intelligent to foolish, and he asked the angels to spread the souls evenly throughout the earth, dropping a little from each jar in every town. But the angel carrying the jar of fools dropped his jar, and it broke right in the town of Chelm, creating a town filled entirely with fools. These fools always find the most backwards, least effective, most foolish way of handling their problems, despite the obvious answer being right in front of them.
And I certainly have many moments in which I feel like I’m in Chelm. This is one of those moments. The obvious answer is right in front of you! It’s time to spend just as much time educating our sons about rape and consent as we spend raising our daughters to be strong, independent women. We tell our daughters, “You deserve to be treated with respect,” but we forget to tell our sons to treat women with respect. For that matter, we need to tell our sons that they deserve to be treated with respect, too, and to teach our daughters not to emotionally abuse men. They are both necessary. If you don’t, then you’re raising your own Jar of Fools.