Tuesday, March 19, 2013

From a to b.

It is obvious that the two offenders saw the victim as some one that could be treated as a thing. This is not about sex, it is about power and control. I guess that is what I am getting at. Sex was probably not the hardest thing for the two to get, so that wasn’t the objective. When you hear the jokes being made during the crime, it is the purest contempt.
So, how do you fix that? I’m just shooting rubber bands at the night sky but here are a few ideas: Put women’s studies in high school the curriculum from war heroes to politicians, writers, speakers, activists, revolutionaries and let young people understand that women have been kicking ass in high threat conditions for ages and they are worthy of respect.
Total sex ed in school. Learn how it all works. Learn what the definition of statutory rape is and that it is rape, that date rape is rape, that rape is rape.
In the spirit of equal time, sites like Huffington Post should have sections for male anatomy hanging out instead of just the idiotic celebrity “side boob” and “nip slip” camera ops. I have no idea what that would be like to have a camera in my face at every turn, looking for “the” shot. I know what some of you are saying. “Then why do they wear clothes like that unless they want those photos taken?” I don’t know what to tell ya. Perhaps just don’t take the fuckin picture? Evolve? I don’t know.
Education, truth, respect, equality—these are the things that can get you from a to b very efficiently. - Henry Rollins Comments on Steubenville Rape Verdict
There is a lot I could say about Steubenville.
A lot. 
But what I want to say right now, and what I think is most interesting about the above, is the remark made about Huffington Post. I couldn't help but remember when all those photos of Jon Hamm were circulating the internet - remember those? The ones where he's just walking around with his lady and yet you can see the full outline of his (rather sizable) penis inside his pants? - and then, just days later, there was a wide conversation about how we shouldn't invade Jon's privacy with photos like that and shame on us for objectifying him like that. 
Which is true. We shouldn't invade his privacy or objectify him like that. 
And while I don't believe in tit-for-tat (pun intended), Rollins is right - when do we stop making a leaked nude photo of a girl a normal Monday? And why is it less invasive, less revolting, when it happens to be a photo of a celebrity? Why is there no rash of counter articles or lectures on Salon.com about violating her privacy or objectify her when a starlet's nipples are all over TMZ? Our arguments that they ask for that attention by doing what they do is just as hollow as us saying a girl asks to be raped by what she's wearing. 
The bottom line is this: We treat women - whether they are 16-year-old girls or 26-year-old actresses - as objects, as things who have no right to privacy regarding own bodies simply because they have those bodies.
I read the above by Rollins, thought about the Jon Hamm photos, and then, literally five minutes later, was staring at a photo that Perez Hilton posted to Facebook of a leaked nude photo of an actress. I won't link to it - just like I won't link to the picture of Jon Hamm - because tonight, all of that changed for me. I remember I showing friends that picture of Jon Hamm because I thought it was hilarious. I've looked at other photos that Perez has posted, out of that weird voyeuristic/body envy/omg-is-that-really-her basic human curiosity. But I'm not doing it anymore. 
I know that, at first, making the case for not looking at nip slip photos of celebrities seems like a small and trivial step for closing the gap on attitudes on rape. But tonight I looked at that photo that Perez posted and I couldn't help thinking about that sixteen year old girl. Of how many of her classmates and peers and total strangers looked at photos of her because they could...because they've learned that if a nude photo is posted to social media, it's okay to look at it. To stare at it. To forget that there's a person inside that body who has feelings and a heart and a life. 
And the thing is...we are all those kids from Steubenville. We could have all been those kids. We could have thought it was funny, or could have been excited by the shock of it, or could have decided that she was a drunken slut and deserved to have those photos taken of her...so we're not doing anything wrong when we stare at them and make jokes about them and then forward them to our friends. Every single person who looked at those photos of her and then shared them are complicit in what happened. They are liable for the violation of another human being. 
And so are we. Every time we act like a leaked nude pic of a "gotcha!" nip slip is entertainment, we're sending the message that women's bodies are to be regarded as entertainment. That we have the right to look and joke and intrude on a woman's privacy - and her dignity - because we can. Because we're in a position to. Because she asked for it by wearing that, or by being a celebrity, or by getting too drunk on vodka shots. 
And we don't have that right. Just like those boys and their friends didn't have that right.
So starting now, effective immediately, I'm not looking anymore. I'm not looking, I'm not sharing, and if I come across a publication that invites me to, I'm going to be the loud voice in the crowd that tells them that that's not cool. Let's do the thing that we wish someone would have done that awful night in Steubenville...tell them to stop, to knock it off - to stop violating others, particularly women. That when websites and magazines buy private and revealing photos of a woman's body that were taken or sold without her consent and then publish them, that's when we stop reading those websites and magazines. 
I know it seems like a small step. But it's a small step in personal change...and we gotta change this, you guys. We have to change the way we think about rape, and more pointedly, women. We. Not "society", not "culture"...the change is not going to come from us finally reaching that far-off abstract crowd of enemies who all share the same exact wrong idea. This is us. This is we. We are a part of this, and so we're responsible for changing it. We gotta change the way our culture looks at women, but more than that, we gotta change the way we look at women. 

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