Recently, I am across this great article that talks about something that I really have wanted to rant about for a long time. The article does a much better job of saying what I think, but rest assured for many years it is something that has thoroughly bothered me.
Anyway, several years ago I was in an exercise group discussion board and somehow the topic of the HPV vaccine had come up. A lot of the women in the group had severe negative reactions to drug companies (which is a different story entirely) and the vaccine really angered them. Many of them were angry because in addition to thinking that it was just another way for a drug company to make money off people, they were also angry because clinical trials were happening to start making the vaccine available to boys.
In these women’s minds, (and some of them said it explicitly) the issue was “dirty” girls and their boys were clean and didn’t need to worry about such stuff. Nevermind that everyone (at least I hope they do) know that it usually takes two people for it to happen and oftentimes, one of the people involved happens to be a guy.
Overall, a lot of times when such topics would come up, the women would inevitably turn it into something that their precious sons would never do and it was all happening because of dirty women. It is also troubling to me because the women who I have dealt with in this regard tend to act as though they forgot what it is like to be a young girl. They seem to act as though it is all the girl’s fault something happens and that clearly those sluts were asking for it.
Then again, I see a lot of this attitude when it comes to rape in general. We spend a lot of time telling girls how not to dress when they go out. We tell them how much they should drink, if at all. We spend time saying don’t act a certain way or do a certain thing because it will attract the wrong kind of attention from boys.
And if that unwanted attention happens, we don’t blame the boys. Instead, there is an instinct or better, impulse to protect the perpetrators (usually male) and say that girl was asking for it. Because obviously she is a slut, whore, etc. Just pick your favorite derogatory remark. Or she shouldn’t have done ______. But have we ever stopped to say, maybe we should be telling boys they shouldn’t do these things? Shouldn’t we be telling them it isn’t ok to think a girl wants some kind of attention just because of the way she is dressed or because she is drinking just like everyone else is?
I think we should be having those conversations with boys. Before you start with the “men are raped / assaulted” as well counter, I know that happens. But the reality is that it is a lot more common for it to happen to women AND to blame the female victim for what happened.
Oh and sure, we can talk about how the article should be about teaching people to be good human beings period toward one another. That if that goes on, there is no need to focus on having any particular conversation with boys and men. And the conversations that allegedly happen with women are ridiculous. However, if that were actually happening, we wouldn’t need to have the conversation about having the conversation with boys / men to not rape / assault women. We can pretend all we want that it might not be a problem and that these conversations don’t need to happen. However, after seeing some of the high-profile stories in the news in the past couple of years where a young woman has been raped and had her life turned upside down while the perpetrators have been defended and made the victim instead, it is pretty clear we as a society need to reassess how we deal with such things.