because of stuff that came up in conversation online last night, when I shared an ironic poster on Google+ and someone, in response, gave me a link to a clip on YouTube where a comedian is dealing with his plight as an innocent man who is treated as a dangerous stranger and potential rapist when he’s the only other person on the street at 2am. No, I’m not putting a link here. I found that clip insensitive and found it so horrible to watch, that I needed afterwards to go get a mug of milk to calm my stomach down – no, not hyperbole, just the way it was. Because the guy was describing a situation which, for the woman in the scenario, would be utterly terrifying, and he had the audience laughing out loud.
No, I’m not here to censor anyone. Nor am I here to say that rape is a problem that affects only women. It does not affect only women. Rape affects society as a whole. It specifically affects people who are raped, obviously, and yes, rape happens to men as well as women. Rape also affects those who are close to people who get raped – if it happens to your wife, daughter, son, brother, sister, friend, etc, of course it will have an impact on you as well. It affects society as a whole because it creates this barrier of fear which, in an ideal world, shouldn’t be there – because we know this stuff happens, we can’t live as though it doesn’t. It would be foolish of a woman to behave as though there is no danger, wouldn’t it?
Being a woman means that you live with the knowledge that, to some people out there, you’re a potential rape target. Yes, rape happens to men too – but generally men don’t live their lives with an awareness of that danger, so it doesn’t affect men in the same way. Generally, for men who have not been raped/nearly raped and who have not been impacted by someone close being raped, the issue of rape is something you don’t have to think about very often. You don’t have to keep making these choices that women have to make, like: do I take that shortcut when I’m running late? should I carry something in my handbag that can act as a weapon? or a rape alarm? should I get into the elevator with this stranger, or wait for the next one? should I accept this guy’s offer of help when my car has broken down? etc etc.
So yes, I appreciate that comedian’s point, that men are also affected by this issue because they are treated more suspiciously by women, and yes, it’s sad that this is how it is. But I find it rather hard as a woman to feel great sympathy for their plight. When I have to live my whole life with the knowledge that at some point some guy may decide that it’s a cool idea to overpower me and stick his penis into my body for a bit of a power kick, then I find it hard to spare a thought for the poor innocent blokes who can’t walk to the station at 2am without women running away from them. Your situation is a bit sad, mine is terrifying. Let’s get some perspective on this.