I was reading this horrific story about the rapes and the subsequent bullying justifications when I ran across a quotation that completely creeped me out:
“‘Victims have always been blamed. People who have experienced sexual violence know this isn’t a new phenomenon,’ says Anna Doroghazi, director of public policy and communication at Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services. Social media is just a window into the victim experience, she says. ‘We’re suddenly all privy to it,’ Doroghazi says. ‘The way people talk about the issue is very centered on the victim’s behavior.’ Fundamentally, that stems from a societal message that women and girls are ‘less than.’ If genders were switched in the Torrington case, and the victims were 13-year-old boys, no one would say ‘that 13-year-old boy is a real whore, a real slut,’ Doroghazi says. ‘They’d say, “High five, man!”’ The message fed to children at a young age is that ‘girls are sexual, and your tool for pleasure,’ and that ‘being a man means you always want sex, and it doesn’t matter where it comes from … it’s yours for the taking.’”
When we see stories about young teens who are “seduced” by female school teachers, we don’t see society say, “High five to that dude” about the victim. Most of us see it as a real abuse of a child who is seriously hurt by the coercion involved in an adult authority figure getting him into a twisted “relationship.”
I simply disagree that the message Doroghazi describes is being “fed to children at a young age.” The message is not different for girls and boys—only the results are different. The message, I think we all know, is this:
Both young men and young women are supposed to have sex and commencing to do so is a coming of age moment without any serious consequences. Sex is recreational, if usually enjoyed best between “friends” with romantic feelings toward each other. Life without sexual activity is unhealthy.
That message, let out into the real world, convinces some young men, who then find that the girls they know are not fulfilling their side of the “deal.” On the other hand, if we had a culture that still held to real Christian patriarchic values, then the message would be:
Sex has consequences and no one should engage in it unless they are willing and ready to give their lives to their partners and care for their children. Women are typically physically weaker than men and must be protected from being exploited by them. Any man who would harm or take from a woman in that way is the lowest of scum. Sex is intended to form a significant bond of love between a man and woman who exclude all others from that bond.
Caveat: not all forms of patriarchy are the same. The Mormon culture that produced the Twilight novels, for example, looks to me like a recipe for teaching girls to find abusers. Obviously Islamic honor killings and other perversions are evil. But those delusions don’t make feminism and the sexual revolution the right response.
When young men are taught that women are “equal,” they aren’t hearing about equal rights; they are hearing that normal women are just like they are. Furthermore, being taught that sex is a casual matter of choice can only downplay the significance of their aggressiveness in their own minds. That is a recipe for being dissatisfied with, and being tempted to mistreat and abuse, real women.