On the other hand, we men have no idea what it is like to be a woman.
One of the worst things about being a woman, I think, is that a woman must always be on guard. Every once in a while I get hit with a flash of insight of how different I would have to look at the universe if I were a woman.
Guys, imagine that you just walked into a room of your worst nightmare. If you're white, imagine you just walked into a Black Panther or Nation of Islam meeting with blackface while making fun of Martin Luther King, Jr. and using the "n" word. If you're black, imagine you just walked into a Klu Klux Klan meeting talking about how young blondes with pale skin are better in bed. If you're a Crip, imagine you turned a corner to find yourself confronted by Bloods. I'm running out of stereotypes here, but I think you get the picture.
In this nightmare situation, you are entirely at the mercy of those around you. If they are charitable, they will smile and you will leave with all your body parts. If they are merely angry, you will be dead. If they are normal humans, you will probably be tortured in indescribable ways and experience excruciating mental, physical, and emotional pain. Once they have decided you are their target, there is absolutely nothing you can do or say that will affect what they plan to do to you. And if you somehow manage to avoid the initial onslaught, maybe they'll follow you around until they find a better opportunity.
Now imagine that you know your nightmare groups are out there. You haven't seen them yet, but you've heard of some of your friends encountering them and experiencing the above atrocities. Another group could be waiting for you around the next corner. Or by your car when you get off work. Or in your apartment/house when you get home. Or they could break in while you're in the tub.
Sure, you can be careful. To a point.
If you're being honest, you'd have to admit you'd avoid dark places. You'd make sure you had someone with you when you went out to your car. You'd always lock every door and window you could. You'd be careful who had your name, what you said on the phone, what information you put anywhere. You'd hate being alone at night. You would face the fact that life could be fine and happy for the next day, the next year, the next decade, or even most of you life, but that at any place any time, you could find your physical, mental, and emotional well-being now rests on the charity of someone totally ruthless.
If you are really being honest in this imagining, if you vividly feel the fear and internalize the uncertainty...
....you now are beginning to grasp what a woman lives with every day.
(An hour later...)
I just realized what my overall point is from these two posts. I have strong opinions about both sexual harassment and date rape, based on what I've seen, heard, and read. These are valid opinions, and the opinions mainly center around the idea that the ambiguity of current policy means that innocent males can be punished by unethical females.
I'm still a guy, and I recognize I will never truly understand what a woman faces in both rape and harassment. So maybe there are some assumptions I made that were not well enough considered. Or maybe I'm more correct than I think.
So think about what I said. Provide feedback, if you wish. But remember that I'm thinking out loud, challenging your assumptions, and hoping you will challenge mine, too, in a reasonable and rational manner. I'm not out to make women suffer or weaken rape or sexual harassment laws; in fact, I want stronger laws helping women...just not the ambiguous ones we have that can be misused.
About Date Rape
A few weeks ago I wanted to write an article about the term (not the actuality) of date rape. I didn't do it well, and so I yanked it pretty much immediately (thanks to the advice of a friend).
But I want to bring it up again. After a few weeks of thought, I believe I have refined my message.
Let's get one thing clear. I am against rape. Rape is wrong. It doesn't matter if the rapist is a stranger or your husband or something in between. It is dispicable and contemptuous to use a human being as an object for your own gratification. Sex should be about sharing, not taking or using. Forcing someone to have sex against their will is...words fail me. It's horrible.
But "date rape". Apparently, I have a different understanding of the connotations of that term than other people. I have no real idea whose understanding is mistaken. Here is my take: Date rape is not merely being raped on a date, or being raped by someone you know. There is no real value in delineating your relationship with the rapist. Although it may be worse to have trust betrayed by someone you know, being forced by a complete stranger is horrible in itself. In the final analysis, it's all still rape, so it is immaterial whether the rapist is known to the victim or not. So to me, using the term "date rape" implies a different sort of rape.
Let me explain a little more deeply.
Some people say rape is not an act of sex, it is an act of violence. This is certainly true in many cases. Some rapists are out to hurt, terrify, humiliate, or demean someone else. This comes from rage, anger, or hurt, and is a desire to lash out at women.
But there is a fine line between pleasure and pain, right? If you took photographs of someone's face in both intense pleasure and intense pain, it could be hard to tell the difference. I have no evidence, but I'm convinced some people have some sort of faulty mental wiring, in which they confuse the two. I think some people can actually get pleasure from causing pain, or perhaps even convince themselves the pain they are causing is actually pleasure ("Women actually like it rough, but would never admit it"). This type of person is mentally ill, and would need serious psychological/psychiatric help.
But then there is date rape. And here's where the problems begin.
If the term date rape was coined only because women were dissuaded from accusing rape by the fact of knowing the rapist (or being married to him), then I agree.
But I've seen it applied far differently.
I was leafing through a copy of the February 2001 issue of Cosmopolitan. My wife had picked up some old copies from the library. In the letters, a lady wrote saying she appreciated the article on Date Rape, because after thinking about it a month, she finally accepted that she had been raped by what the article described as a "Gentleman Rapist". Why would someone need to be convinced they were raped? That's not rape, that's regret. Please don't confuse an emotional reaction with a legal violation.
In the same issue, in the Confessions column, another girl wrote that she finally seduced her roommate's boyfriend when her roommate came home and found them in bed together. The writer said "I had to think fast to save my own butt, so I told her that her boyfriend had crawled into bed with me while I was sleeping and forced me." She went on to write that the roommate slapped her (now) ex-boyfriend, kicked him out, and spent several days apologizing to the writer. This person was willing to ruin a guy's reputation and accuse him of a heinous crime just to avoid a little trouble with a roommate she didn't value enough to respect normal relationship boundaries. On a related note, I have a female friend in military criminal investigations who has investigated several rape charges that were brought by girls trying to avoid problems arising from infidelity (the accuser gets pregnant while the boyfriend was deployed, so claims the guy she was sleeping with raped her).
Rape should be easily and clearly defined. If you have bruises, it's rape. If he threatens you with death or harm to gain acquiescence, it's rape. If he uses his strength to keep you from preventing his entry, it's rape. Adding in the term "date" just confuses the issue; to me it sounds like the use would be trying to minimize the emotional effect of the word "rape" by putting date in front of it.
From what I've seen, date rape is mostly applied to situations in which it is nearly impossible to determine the truth. She says she said no, he says she said yes. Any bruises? No. Any sign of forced entry (vaginal abrasions or bleeding)? No. But she said she said no, so it was without acquiescense, so it was rape. Let's call it date rape.
The problem with the way I've seen date rape used is that it focuses less on the facts on more on the feelings of the victim. I've heard feminists say with a straight face that if a woman says yes, but later decides she should have said no, it is still rape (much like the letter in Cosmo described). What this says is that it doesn't matter what the man intended, it doesn't matter what assurances he may have tried to get (and who thinks any guy would risk 'spoiling the mood' with, "Are you really, really sure you want to?"), all that matters is that the girl felt raped.
How do you judge a feeling? If emotional testimony is all that is required to gain a rape conviction, a great actress could send innocent men to jail without a shred of evidence.
The haziest, most ambiguous situation I can think of is: if a women has sex but does not remember agreeing to it the next morning, it is legal rape. While I can agree that a sober man having non-consensual sex with a passed-out women would clearly be within the scope of illegal sexual exploitation, I have a much harder time with that judgement if both partners are drunk. If the man can be held responsible for his actions while drunk, how can the woman be absolved of responsilibility for hers? Particularly since feminists have insisted that men have the sexual restraint of rabbits and the morals of pond scum?
I want to emphasize again: Rape Is Wrong. I am all for helping rape victims. I am all for the punishment of rapists. Anyone who uses force or threat to gain sexual compliance is a criminal and needs to be dealth with.
But I am strongly against criminalizing sexual actions based only on the emotional reaction of one partner to the exclusion of intent of the other partner.
This is part of a big problem developing right now in the United States that elevates emotional reaction to legal levels. It's already happened with sexual harassment.
Again, don't get me wrong, I think sexual harassment is dispicable. I don't use sexual language at work; I think it is unprofessional.
But go and read your company's policy on sexual harassment. Read it again from the view of a woman who is reacting to a guy she thinks is annoying. Or untrustworthy. Or a Don Juan-wannabe. Then read it again from the view of a woman who is reacting to a rich, famous, gorgeous celebrity. The same speech that would be welcomed from the celebrity would be interpreted as unendurable harassment from the Don Juan-wannabe. The only difference between asking a girl for a date and sexually harassing her is whether she wants you to ask her out or not.
Granted, most women don't take advantage of the opportunity to ruin someone's career on a whim. Most women do have integrity and morals. But not all. And sexual harassment policies are written broadly enough to allow all sorts of false accusations to result in ruined careers.
For example, in the US Army, it is not necessary for someone who is offended by a word or phrase to give the speaker a chance to change before bringing a sexual harassment charge. A speaker could be whispering something to a friend, and if it is overheard (or worse, misunderstood), a sexual harassment accusation can be brought. Even the accusation is disproved, the stigma of the accused remains, and most will never be promoted.
This was all done under the auspices of ensuring women don't have to endure a hostile work environment. Yes, I specifically said 'woman', although the policies are always worded gender-neutral. Does anyone have any statistics on the percentage of sexual harassment suits brought against women by men? The irony is that no one is paying any attention to the hostile work environment that is now created for men, in which our careers can be destroyed by a false accusation, in which a woman lacking in integrity can easily dispose of rivals for advancement?
There must be a better line to draw. No woman should ever have to endure the pain of rape. No woman should ever have to suffer in silence the boorishness of sexual crudity. I agree that many women keep silent out of fear no one will listen.
But our country was established on the principle that it is better for one hundred guilty persons to go free than for one innocent to be convicted unfairly. With date rape and sexual harassment, we have apparently decided, as a society, it is better for one hundred innocent men to have lives and careers ruined unjustly than for one woman to suffer in silence.
There has to be a better solution.
Interesting comparison between a former president and a (possibly) former terrorist
From: National Review Online
One year ago, the United States absorbed the most horrific attack on its own territory in its history: Pearl Harbor and the San Francisco earthquake all rolled into one. And yet, in the four quarters since the attack, the U.S. economy has posted an average growth rate of 3%.
There's no comparing the characters of these two men, but on [this] evidence, Osama bin Laden managed to do less harm to the U.S. economy than President Jimmy Carter.
Sort of. I can't access it from work, and I don't have time to write at home, so I'm going to try to write at work and post after I go home. We'll see how it goes...
Unfortunately, I don't really have anything inflammatory or thought-provoking to throw at you. Yet. I'm sure something will occur to me soon.