I'm an urban girl, so when the word wheelbarrow pops up twice in a week, it has to be discussed.
I have fond memories of a sturdy wheelbarrow in my father's backyard, me tossing dandelions into it. He was the consummate suburban farmer in his day, my father, second only to his own, my grandfather. Huge zucchinis. Real sunflowers. The gene passed me by, however hard I tried to grow things, although I did manage to sprout a few avocado trees in college.
Still. You don't want me to water your plants while you're away.
But back to wheelbarrows. The other day they were filled with bodies in Haiti, today we fill them with women who have been raped. It's an obsession with me, right? The sexual assault thing is an obsession, gets me riled up, and the very idea of marital rape sends me into Let me at 'em mode. Militant, angry, feminist. Whatever you want to call the outrage that describes mine when I hear about rape.
Anyway, today I'm reading from a women's anthology, Transforming a Rape Culture (some of you wanted to know what I'm reading lately, this is excellent, but admittedly, Prep is on my list). This is the 2005 edition and it opens with a reprint, an essay by famed feminist Andrea Dworkin. She speaks to 500 male attendees at the regional conference of the National Organization for Changing Men, 1983, St. Paul, Minnesota.
How would you begin such an address? Five hundred men! Here's how Ms. Dworkin begins:
What I would like to do is scream; and in that scream I would have the screams of the raped, and the sobs of the battered; and even worse, in the center of that scream I would have the deafening sound of women’s silence, that silence into which we are born because we are women and in which most of us die.Every 3 min, a woman is raped; every 18 seconds, a woman is beaten, she tells them.
Could this still be true, 27 years later?
What would you say if I said, Yes.
Actually I don't know. I was hoping one of you could tell me.
She beats on them, of course, the men who have come to learn to be better men. She tells them she doesn't care much for their guilt, for their sadness at the way things are, sorrow for seemingly unstoppable male aggression towards women. She cares not at all for their feelings or determination to change themselves as people, or partners, friends. She wants action, some kind of political action that will inspire a truce, a 24 hour truce. No rape, not anywhere in the world, for 24 hours. That kind of truce.
I'm quite sure we're still waiting for it.
Ms. Dworkin continues to say,
Do you remember pictures that you've seen of European cities during the plague, when there were wheelbarrows that would go along and people would just pick up corpses and throw them in? Well, that is what it is like knowing about rape. Piles and piles and piles of bodies that have whole lives and human names and human faces."Most men received the address with love, she remarks. One threatened her physically, but her female body guard stopped him.
Anyway, it's time we promoted male responsibility here on the blog, and I'm embarrassed, really for taking so long. And it's time you knew that men, actually, do get involved. They do more than rape. Most probably don't rape, is the truth.
The National Organization for Changing Men has morphed into NOMAS, the National Organization for Men Against Sexism.
They're still standing. And then there's Men Can Stop Rape, a truly fabulous worthy cause. I have one of their posters up in my office, the one you see above.
Also check out Men Against Sexual Violence.
You would think, seriously, that rape is no longer a spectator sport, with all this attention. But wouldn't you know? It still is. Boys still think it's cool to brag about their conquests, and they grow up into men who do the same, and sometimes one or two of them will hold a woman down while five to ten more rape her. This still happens.
Why? Because if a guy is invited to rape a woman and he says no, he is obviously a wimp. Or maybe he's gay. That's the thinking. Men afraid of other men. Peggy Sanday learned this while studying fraternities. Read Fraternity Gang Rape for more, but frankly, everybody quotes her. We'll get to athletic teams another day.
And although men are now claiming responsibility for changing the definition of masculinity, are fathering more proactively and compassionately, and empathizing much, much, more than ever before. . .
the proportion of births to single mothers continues to grow. In 1990, it was 26.6 percent of all births. By 1998, it was 32.8 percent. Among African Americans it has gone from 66.7 percent to 69.1 percent.* More and more boys are growing up without fathers in the home, and often without any positive male role models in their lives.That thanks to Myriam Miedzian, How Rape is Encouraged in American Boys and What We Can Do to Stop It.
and although studies show that while most single mothers succeed in raising decent sons, a disproportionate number of violent boys come from fatherless homes with no consistent ly present male figure they can identify with and model themselves on. Sociologists use the term hypermasculinity to describe the extreme concern of these boys with proving their masculinity.
What can be done about this ugly phenomena? Some men are learning how to father with empathy, to lose the dysfunctional macho, I AM MAN, but others don't see a father figure at all, indeed resent their mothers, come to hate women, even see them as the objects of their suffering, something to punish.
Ms. Miedzian suggests that the only thing that can be done is to make child-rearing a mandatory class that children must take at school. She visited such classes attended by inner city children and walked away amazed at the enthusiasm. She writes books, too. Boys Will Be Boys, for one.
And then we have to do something about the rapist role models on television, in the movies, the slasher films, the video games. Now there's a thought. We're desensitized. Our children don't see violence as abhorrent. It's natural.
Twenty-four hours. Just 24 and we'll all be free, according to the late Andrea Dworkin. It's going to take years.
P.S. Andrea Dworkin only lived to 58. She wrote 10 books on radical feminist theory. Her website is a must-see.
Quote from the home page:
"Every century, there are a handful of writers who help the human race to evolve. Andrea is one of them."P.S.S. You can always go to a carnival on sexual abuse, too.
*Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2000 (Washington, D.C. Census Bureau). Perhaps the 2010 census will show different stats.