OPINION | Men need to weigh in on rape

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Just last year, in St. Paul, a woman was raped in an apartment building. She fought like hell to try and keep him off her, screamed loud, but nobody came out to help.

Doors peeped opened and quickly shut. Somebody must’ve at least dialed 911, because the cops did show up—after the fact (which is not to blame the police, who can’t come until they are called).

The question that begs answering is why one man among those living on that floor didn’t step in. Why didn’t any man there go knock on a door and say to the man of the house, “There’s a woman screaming in the hallway. She needs help.” Why was a woman left to be victimized?

It’s a damn shame to say, but the fact is that men who would never think of raping a woman are complicit in this crime, a chronic catastrophe that leaves females afraid to the point of paranoia. It is not enough to sit on your behind, read news reports and, wagging your head, decry bestial behavior.

Any man who ever had a mother needs to understand that it’s our responsibility to take a hand in doing something about rape. You can start by teaching your sons that, tantalizing as girls are, there is no such thing as a sense of entitlement to just take from them what you want.

You need to tell them that, much as the media sports sexy images and markets testosterone-driven libidos, there is no such thing as being entitled to grab a female and do with her what you will. We need to impress upon our sons that women are human beings.

The situation in St. Paul is by no means an aberration. While there aren’t any statistics on just how many rapes are the result of men standing around doing nothing to intercede, you know from life that it happens. Regularly. Some woman or girl trapped off, crying out in a vacuum of what may as well be silence.

We can’t truly call this a civilized society until we do more about rape, not if we’re going to really consider ourselves men. Way too many of us need to adjust our thinking and, much as it’s natural to admire scantily clad, hot-bodied babes in TV commercials – or for that matter passing you on the street – get a grip on the fact that females are not responsible for what you feel in your pants. That’s a start.

Wouldn’t hurt, either, if the next time one of your homies cracks off with an idiotic statement like, “You can’t thread a needle if it’s moving,” or “A woman can run faster with her dress up than a man can with his pants down,” you put him in check. How funny do you think he’d find the joke if it were his sister squirming in desperation under the weight of some perpetrator, or if it were his daughter running for her life from some predator?

Women activists can’t win the fight against rape all by themselves. They can advocate for women until the cows come home, but unless and until men weigh in to serious effect, rape will continue to be a common occurrence.

How is this for a statistic: In 2007, there were 248,300 victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. Those figures don’t include victims 12 years old or younger.

Own up. Now. Or, of course, you can wait until rape happens to someone near and dear to you. That will be too late, though, won’t it?