This is a poem it took a very long time to write. I’m still not convinced that it’s done. But I wanted to get it out there. For the record, it’s not a true story. Normally, I wouldn’t tell people that, but I think it’s important to move past the attitude that something is only important if it’s happened to you personally.
This is a poem about rape culture, and specifically about men’s responsibility to fight back against rape culture. It’s about how the myth of the “good guy” helps perpetuate rape culture by allowing some of us to distance ourselves from what is too-often perceived as the actions of a few disturbed individuals and not a chronic, persistent, society-wide epidemic of violence against women.
I hope it’s clear that what this poem is talking about, not unlike my poem “Neutral,” can be applied to other kinds of privilege and oppression too. We can’t beat racism by “not being racist.” We have to actively take part in dismantling oppressive systems. Homophobia won’t magically go away when the older generation dies out; the struggle has to continue. And when it comes to rape culture, it’s not enough to simply “opt-out;” we have to confront it, wherever it pops up in our lives, openly and intentionally.
Thanks to Elliot Malcolm for putting this video together. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Related writing from me: 3 Points About Rape Jokes that People Seem to Be Ignoring
Related writing from Shakesville: Rape Culture 101