reflections, lessons, thoughts, frustrations, and ramblings as after-effects of the Steubenville Rape swirl
we’ve all heard about it. the “Steubenville Rape Scandal“, as it has been called (among other things), was/is everywhere. everyone was/is talking about it. and it should be talked about. but we wonder how rape should be discussed, characterized, disseminated. it seems a lot of people are unhappy about the type of attention the incident received, for a number of reasons. but the media lens seldom focuses on the truly hidden places. what should be talked about? how should it be talked about? when, why, and where should it be talked about? it’s tricky. we don’t have all the answers to all of these questions. we have some good theories and the beginnings of answers to them, sure – but definitive answers? no. not really. we have our knee-jerk responses, things that feel right – things that come right from the gut, right from the theoretical frameworks we reside in and work from – right from our positionalities. our goddamn positionalities. but these things don’t make for absolute, Platonic, capital-T truth and final solutions. we can’t be so arrogant. no – there are no absolutes or black & whites here. we have sought to destroy dichotomies elsewhere – where they were painful, where they stripped us of liberties, where they moved us and shook us, where it directly concerned us. where it was convenient. we have sought this – this abolition of dichotomy and duality (of taxonomy itself, i say!) – elsewhere (post-structuralism and social constructivism, anyone??), so we can’t embrace it now. there are grey areas, always.
so if we can’t have absolute or universal truths, and that means we can’t have absolute and universal answers (what is our fascination with the transhistorical??). but when we ask these questions, we focus on the subject at hand (the victim, the perpetrator, the place, the time, the whatever). because we have to. that’s how it works. we focus on something in order to do something – to act. to speak up. but when we focus, what isn’t the locus of our attention becomes peripheral (marginal, if you will). when you shine the spotlight on the subject, dark(er) spaces are created, constructed, defined – they are born. and in those dark(er) spaces there are tricky, slithery things that hide and largely go unnoticed. because it’s hard to see them when we aren’t placing them in the limelight. and it’s those spaces – those hidden places – that i’m interested in.
so when we talk about these incidents, rape culture, victims and perpetrators, i wonder and sometimes notice what isn’t said, what isn’t shown. i sometimes notice what is concealed. and, further, what is revealed in that concealment. so, here’s what i notice in our collective conversations about Steubenville – about rape. i notice, first, how a Girl got hurt. how she was violated in a way that i may not ever be capable (more on this later) of experiencing. how shaken her world must have been (and may still be). and then . . . i think about the boys. not really who they were before that, but that they royally fucked up and did something for which there is never an excuse. and i think about how they’ve now fulfilled their destinies as the Male enemy. exemplar-status. because, to some extent, they’ve become the Men we’ve (us Men-folk) been taught lives inside us, somewhere. it’s more submissive, or more dominant, in each of us, but it’s still there. Men all have the capacity to commit this type of act – to transform into Him: the Male enemy. or so we’re taught (by our own inferences or by people, culture, society outright shouting it at us). so, yeah – these guys that decided rape was ‘A-OK’ – did a terrible, ridiculous thing. but even if they didn’t, to some extent they were already constructed as those things – Male enemies – anyway.
i hope that this qualification isn’t necessary, but i’m going to state it anyway: this is, of course, not an excuse for anyone to do what they did. of course. what i want to know, though, is what are the circumstances and machinations that conspire and operate to construct men as Men. what are we teaching boys? what are we not teaching boys? how is rape (if it’s talked about at all) framed when attempting to educate young men about it? and how does this discussion differ from the discussion/s we’re having with our girls? because, what i want to know is: how are our unruly and flawed discourses constructing each other? how are/have Men constructing/constructed Women? how are/have Women constructing/constructed Men? what are we doing to each other? and how cleverly…
i always worry that i’m going to be grouped in with Men. i’m not Men. i’m a man. just me. i may share some similarities with other men, and i may also share some differences with other men too. and they’re not Men either. they’re just men. just dudes. whatever. whatever. see, i worry about it, but i already know that not only am i going to be grouped in with Men (a bunch of douchy homunculi, if you ask me…), but i have been since the day i was fucking born. we all were – all of us – regardless of sex or gender. we’ve been so carefully and shittily constructed. and that’s some sad shit. so, i don’t like it when i feel like it’s not a surprise to anyone (even me) that some dudes raped some chick, some girl, some woman – some thing (because they have been constructed as things and we have been constructed as selfish and dangerous Jekyll-and-Hydes). it sucks that we’re always and already complicit in constructing each other and our selves as other, all the while Men and Women get all the real attention. but we’re not them. we’re just some men and women – just some people. those things? they’re the homunculi. they’re mighty and terrible and, some day, we’ll discover that they only have power because we give it to them. and one day, maybe, we’ll have the courage to keep the power for ourselves. and maybe then (but i don’t really know), we’ll stop treating each other like things, monsters, others – maybe we’ll stop treating each other like shit. because, i swear, i’m not a monster, and my dick isn’t a terrible weapon. i’m just a dude and my dick is congenial as fuck. it plays nice. i want to stop with all the co-constructing – because we SUCK at it. and because it’s a sad, fucked up thing that this shit – that rape – keeps happening. that things got so prevalent and ubiquitous – so fucked up – that we had to create a term like “rape culture” just to reference the enormity of it. and i guess the co-constructing can stop with me. i can begin to stop constructing chicks, dudes, trans peeps, gender-neuts, whatevers. and then i can stop constructing myself. maybe. but i don’t know.