[Content Note: rape apologism]
Earlier today, when scrolling through my FB feed, I noticed that a friend of mine had linked to a Policy Mic article about how rape jokes normalize rape as something to be “expected” or even deserved for certain behaviors and certain types of people. I was happy to see that my male friend had posted this, as it’s rare to see men willingly engage in discussing the normalization of rape.
But, in true internet fashion, the comments were another story. One of the replies was an older man who simply replied “meh” and linked to an article about false rape accusations.
The “meh” struck me. Confronted with an idea that our culture normalizes rape (also known as “rape culture”), this guy found it more important to comment on a supposed epidemic of false rape accusations and wave aside the question of rape. It’s a derail, and it’s probably one of the most frustrating ones.
That got me thinking – what we choose to derail conversations with, what we choose to disagree about and what hills we choose to die on say a lot about what we value as people. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – I think highly of people who choose to put their freedom and their lives at risk for issues of justice. Indeed, Christianity is supposed to be based on this idea of the privileged dying for the oppressed (within a liberation theology take on the atonement, to be sure). The Calvary we choose is the one that will define us.
So what does it say about a man who, when presented with the idea that he himself might be normalizing rape, responds with “meh” and an argument that amounts to “but men have their lives ruined by women accusing them!”
Not something good, to be sure.
About five years ago, I got into one of those ridiculously silly arguments about whether or not Transformers 2 was a good movie. For some reason, it just really bothered me that someone could have such bad taste. It was literally one of the most foolish arguments I could be involved in, and one of my friends checked me on it by saying, “Really, Dianna? This is the hill you want to die on?”
I sat back and realized I was making my taste in movies a priority above the enjoyment of my friends. I was putting something I valued at risk because my actions were showing that I valued my own taste above my friendships.
And when white people insist on making an anti-racist discussion about “not all white people!” When straight people make discussions of homophobia about them, when men make discussions about rape about their fear of being falsely accused of rape – all of these people are demonstrating what they value.
So, ask yourself, people of privilege – is this the hill you want to die on? If you truly value justice, why are your actions telling me something different? Choose carefully here – what you protest about shows what you value.