First and foremost I want to give thanks to Owl for once again allowing me the pleasure to contribute to the Asylum.
Owl asked me to write this article after a bit of a tangent I had on twitter regarding the lack of critical focus displayed by some over a video on WorldStarHipHop.com (WSHH) referenced on twitter by the hashtag #HerschelwoodBustdown. The video depicted some men running a train on a woman (please note I have not actually watched the video so I am going the reports on my twitter timeline. I will refer to the participants as adults for the purpose of writing this post however if they are in fact not adults WSHH is liable for child porn distribution and should be reported).
As I watched my twitter timeline and the hashtag, there was this consistent chorus of disgust
surrounding the events in the video for all the wrong reasons. People were speaking on their distaste for the particular form of group sex depicted, for the woman’s sexual choices (slut shaming, misogynist), or they were questioning the sexuality of the men involved for having their dicks out around each other (heterosexist, and considering that being gay requires there to be some same sex attraction, quite stupid). The men involved utilized some very derogatory misogynistic language in reference to the woman they were having sex with. That reality transforms this scene of indiscretion, (which is misogynistic in its own right- due to the betrayal of that woman’s trust), into a scene of Rape Culture.
Now when I say Rape Culture I refer to the violent regime of sexual violence perpetrated primarily against women.
We arrive at what is called Rape Culture through the patriarchal masculine hegemonic imperative that demands men exist as dominators and controllers applied to the sexual sphere. Patriarchy makes sex a place where power and domination are expressed as the basis of the act, where pleasure is only a factor with respect to the man involved and thereby reinforcing the potency of one’s manhood. To groups of men who may find themselves oppressed by a particular social order, finding themselves locked out of political, economic, and social spheres of power as well as the sites of domination and control within those spheres the imperative for control and domination become concentrated in the body especially sex. The function of the body because it is the last site left where one can validate the potency of their manhood lest ego collapse or a rearranging of the concept of manhood occur.
I can’t recall, whether it is bell hooks or Patricia Hill Collins that illustrates this point by examining prison rape. Men in prison fit the description of being lock out of places of power perhaps better than any other group. Given the abysmal soul murdering conditions one is force to exist in while incarcerated acting out a patriarchal rubric is condensed into the body. In prison settings often the less violent, less aggressive “weaker” men are preyed upon and victimized by the more violent, more aggressive “stronger” men for a variety of purposes including the sexual. In a space where there is no access to women, “women” are created; objects to be dominated controlled and used at the whim of the strong men.
To return to the #HershelwoodBustdown, the misogynistic denigration of the woman involved by the men involved make this act not about a wild sexual escapade that should have never made it to the internet, but about trashing women as pleasure on the level of if not superseding that of penetration.
Take a moment and think about what it means for a man to vocalize his misogyny as a part of a sexual act with a woman. To do such a thing is to say that as a man, “sex is a site of power for me and you, the woman are merely the masturbatory tool that I use to assert my dominance and because of it you are trash. You are nothing to me. You are utterly disposable. You are and object for me and my friends to treat as we will. You are not human.”
This is sexual violence, and because this mindset of sex as power is systemic and based upon a desire to express domination and control it forms a culture of rape.
According to The New York Times a recently concluded study shows that 1 out of every 5 women reports being raped. According to Most Estimate 80-90% of rapes go unreported. 50% of the time the victim knows her rapist and that people from marginalized communities are at higher risk for rape due to their societal vulnerability. One would think with such disturbing numbers people would be vigilant and aware of preventing rape. However, the lack of critical thought on this event and the subsequent failure to link it to patriarchy and its culture of rape provides the consent for sexual violence in all of its forms to continue. Not to mention how the seriousness of rape is devalued by victim blaming and the casual usage of the term rape in indicated a level of intensity or to make joke. Even the strategies that are employed to combat rape are tainted by our rape culture as they teach women how to avoid rapes(implying that they bring it on themselves) rather than teaching men to not be rapists. The fact of the matter is that our patriarchal rape culture and its adherence created the men in this video it created the impetus for their misogynistic actions, and the environment that sanctions it. This is how rapists are made and our failure to recognize it means only more victims down the road.