I wasn't going to link to this incredible post "On Rape and Men (Oh yes, I'm going there)" because of... something I didn't understand well enough to judge whether or not I should step carefully. Later because... well, as of this moment, it's got 1684 comments and:
a) amazing as so many of them are, who's going to read through all those unless they've been having them appear in their inbox 200 at a time over the last several days?
b) the poor author deserves a rest from her moderating!
But you should totally read the post. I hereby give you permission to read only some of the comments. :-)
This is a preamble because someone asked me to repost one of my comments, with context, so he could link it elsewhere. And so:
Someone had asked, "So you would consider a man part of the problem if he treats women with respect and equality, and would never participate in sexist remarks, but does not call out other men when they do?"
To paraphrase: All it takes for injustice to prevail is for good men to do nothing.
Silence tends to be taken as assent. So if one man makes sexist remarks, and five men stand around and let him, then:
a) the women present will feel as if all six men approve of that sexism;
b) the man speaking will believe he has been given tacit approval to keep on speaking;
c) each of the five men will believe that the other four have given tacit approval to those sexist remarks;
d) each of the five men will have reinforced in his own mind that the appropriate thing to do in this situation is to be silent. (This is because, when we make a choice to do X, we reinforce our approval for X. eg If you choose to buy something, you'll like the thing more after you've bought it than before.)
Silence reinforces the problem. Therefore it's a (passive) part of the problem.
I was discussing the general topic with a friend at lunch, and a couple of the many powerful stories from the comments. Particularly one where a creepy man was being *seriously* creepy to a teenage girl in a train full of people in a way no-one could possibly not notice -- and no-one did a thing to stop him (until finally the train stopped in a station where someone on the platform noticed, came in, and pulled the creep back out). My friend was astounded that no-one had done anything, until I talked about how people do just go along with the crowd. Even if the fire alarm's going, if no-one else reacts, you don't either. At which she remembered a local case some years ago where a white person was beating up a PoC and a crowd was just watching and watching and watching until finally one man broke out of that mob-induced stupor and stepped in; then others helped, but it took all that time.
And... the thing is that once a mob of do-nothings has formed, it will be hard for people to do something. So we need to put in the effort to teach ourselves and teach our friends and teach our families that as soon as you see something icky going on, you step in that *instant*, so that the mob of do-nothings never has time to form in the first place. We need the stepping in to be practically instinctual.
We also need to teach ourselves and our friends and our families what "icky" is. "Icky" includes rape but you're not likely to see the actual rape, only the stuff leading up to it and enabling it. So "icky" also includes-but-is-not-limited-to physical intimidation, and verbal intimidation, and emotional blackmail, and victim blaming, and disbelieving women's experiences, and sexist remarks, and gendered language, and all that crap. We need to know that it's all icky, and we need to learn to recognise it when it happens, and we need to step up and make sure other people know it's not cool too.
[A note on comments: In homage to cereta I'm leaving comments open and unscreened. However, ickiness as defined above is strictly forbidden. Icky comments will be frozen or deleted at my discretion, and offenders will be sentenced to read all 1692 comments on cereta's post. This is to be a safe space for women and other rape survivors.]
- In which she holds forth upon doing nothing