Yes, it’s the Trump Tapes (like the Troggs Tapes but far more crass) post you all knew was coming, because since when was I sensible enough to not open my big mouth about a controversial topic? (Obviously, trigger warnings for general rape culture nastiness follow).
My thoughts on this, though, have little to do with the tape itself. The revelation that a sociopathic loudmouthed braggart who has been accused by multiple independent people on multiple occasions of being a rapist might, at one point, have bragged about committing sexual assault is about as astonishing to me as the other great political “revelation” this week — that Hillary Clinton is a pragmatic centrist politician funded by big business. I know. I was shocked too. My whole worldview is in turmoil.
Nor am I at all surprised by the loathsome people who’ve come out of the woodwork to say “that’s just how men talk. Every man talks that way.” I mean, I didn’t know for *sure* that Nigel Farage was the kind of man who brags about sexually harassing women, until he publicly stated that “It’s the kind of thing, if we are being honest, that men do. They sit around and have a drink and they talk like this”. But while it’s nice of Farage to publicly admit this so women know to avoid being in his presence, if you’d asked me before that how much I’d bet that it was the kind of thing he’d do, I’d have happily put my house, my record collection, my bank account, my overdraft, my dog, and at least three limbs on it.
None of this was at all surprising. Sociopaths gonna sociopath, and RWAs gonna RWA. We all know what vicious, narcissistic, racist, misogynists behave like.
Which brings me to my actual point — there are a lot of men reacting to those reactions, saying “men don’t talk like that! I’ve never heard anything like that!”
Yes they do, and yes you have.
No, #notallmen. But enough men. Something like six percent of men have committed rape (It’s difficult to know exactly, because obviously rapists have a tendency not to admit their crime if it might result in punishment). Somewhere between five and ten percent of men fall into the overlap of the right-wing authoritarian (not actually to do with politics) and social dominance orientations.
(From the abstract of the research I took that figure from:
these dominating authoritarians are among the most prejudiced persons in society. Furthermore, they seem to combine the worst elements of each kind of personality, being power-hungry, unsupportive of equality, manipulative, and amoral, as social dominators are in general, while also being religiously ethnocentric and dogmatic, as right-wing authoritarians tend to be. The author suggested that, although they are small in number, such persons can have considerable impact on society because they are well-positioned to become the leaders of prejudiced right-wing political movements.
I really must write about Altermeyer’s research sometime — but I think that adequately describes the Trump/Farage type…)
So, take the low end of that, and say five percent of men say that kind of thing. About five to ten percent are the kind of man to say it whether they do or not, about six percent are the kind to do it, whether they admit it or not, we don’t know what the overlap is, though I suspect it’s a lot. But either way, about one in twenty men will say that kind of thing.
That’s not all men, by any means. But nor is it such a low proportion that we can say “that’s not how men behave”. There’s about a one in twenty chance that any man picked at random behaves exactly like that. (Did someone say something about Skittles?)
Rather than wail about how the majority of men aren’t like that, we should be taking responsibility for stopping the millions who are.
As for “I’ve never heard men talk like that”… I have. A lot. I don’t go into locker rooms, but I have spent a lot of time in spaces that are all male and… literally in the middle of typing this sentence, my friend Matthew Rossi tweeted “Growing up, I hated being male because there was always someone like Trump in every group of boys/men I was in, no escape from it.”
Exactly. I try to avoid men like that, but I’ve been in situations where that was impossible. I’ve heard the same kind of things said. Not often, by any means. But more often than I’d like.
Saying “that’s not something I’ve ever heard” is just another form of rape culture. It’s saying that Trump is some monstrous freak of nature totally unlike the rest of humanity, and so we don’t have to do something about the problem he represents.
No. Trump is, despite his own opinion of himself, nothing special. I’ve met a dozen of him, at least — and I’m someone who does everything he can to avoid ever having any contact with people like that.
No, what Trump said isn’t “normal” or any of the other things his defenders have claimed. But it’s not uncommon either. It’s not normal to step in dogshit either — it’s not something that happens every day, every week, or even every year if you look where you’re going. But it does happen occasionally, and you don’t solve the problem and get the streets clean by pretending it’s never happened.
We live in a culture that rewards the Trumps and Farages of the world. We need to change that. It’s a problem that will require decades of work, if it can be fixed at all. And unless men recognise the scale of the problem (every woman I know is all too aware of it already) it won’t be. The least — the very least — we can do is say “yes, this happens, it’s horrible, what can I do to help?”
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What is an RWA? Wikipedia doesn’t help.
Sorry — right-wing authoritarian. It’s used in the Altermeyer study I linked to and in Altermeyer’s work generally. I forgot to define it…
Oh, of course!
That is an astonishingly high (and horrifying) percentage. Do you have a reference?
6% seems to be the commonly accepted number, though I’ve seen others.
http://www.binghamton.edu/counseling/documents/RAPE_FACT_SHEET1.pdf has a list of the results of various studies that ask men about sexually violent behaviour without using the actual word “rape” (questions like “have you ever used force to get a woman to have sex with you when she didn’t want to?”). 6% is actually at the low end of the results listed there — they actually go as high as 15%. I’ve also seen some small-scale studies of college-age men that show as many as thirty percent of them saying they *would* commit rape if they were sure they wouldn’t get caught.
So yes, 6% is a high and horrifying percentage. But the real horror is that it may well be on the low side. Obviously, as with all psychometric studies that rely on volunteers’ self-reporting, there’s a great deal of scope for error in the results, but I don’t think there’s any way to interpret them that doesn’t make me want to shower for a year…