Can You Believe It?

This was perfect. I want everyone to read this.


“Why do you hate men?” she asks me.
“What?” I say, surprised.
“You know, not all men are like that,” she says.
“I didn’t say they were,” I reply slowly. “All I said was ‘can you believe what Brandon did to Tiffany.'”
She snorts. “We don’t know it was rape, you know,” she says dismissively.
“What are you talking about?” I ask. “Half the football team filmed it.”
“You saw how she was dressed,” she says. “Besides, it’s not like she said ‘no.'”
“How could she say ‘no’?” I ask angrily. “She was passed out!”
“Why are you defending her for being a slut?” she asks.
I stand up. “Why are you defending him for being a rapist?” I reply.
The shocked look on her face is the last thing I see as I walk away.

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5 thoughts on “Can You Believe It?

  1. That was stunning. This was a real conversation about a real event? (This being the internet I have to ask.) I feel like I just landed after a long trip from Mars and am seeing humanity for the first time.

    1. Yes, her work is rather brutally eloquent, but I don’t know if it’s specific nonfiction. It doesn’t have to be, rape and slit shaming happen so frequently, especially in young adult circles. It’s simple to explore the scenario and use it to explain concepts of feminism and free will.

      But you see why I had to reshare?

  2. I disagree with the argument that “it doesn’t matter if this one really happened, because it has happened elsewhere.” That’s a slippery slope, isn’t it? Perhaps it’s my white male brain, or perhaps it’s my training in investigations and journalism, but I do believe that facts matter. It does matter if she’s talking about an actual, criminal event or not. Real, documented cases will, in the flow of sewage that is our culture these days, eventually start to turn the tide. People will still get hurt. It’s the way these things go. In the FAA, they have this thing they call “tombstone technology”. It means that seat fabrics that don’t emit toxic fumes when they burn, and any number of safety features on airliners have been added, only because lots of people died. We tend not to ask corporations to do anything that costs money unless someone dies. Yay, us.

    I don’t quibble about whether the slut-shaming culture is real; I am on a college campus and hear plenty of conversations walking amongst the herd on the sidewalks to know these kids are different that we were. And, I dip into the worlds of “Texts from last night” ( and others where the mentality is on full display. It’s not pretty, frankly. I am getting to the point that I don’t like some of these little darlings very much. Too many of them are out of control drunks and hedonists who feel immortal and entitled in the extreme. We could maybe argue about the causes, whether the divorce rate has had an impact and kids have been raised with a much more permissive hand than in the past, but that’s probably a distraction.

    But I’m left puzzled. In terms of who’s more sexually active, who is driving the cultural train… I don’t see much difference between the sexes. Girls are just as horny and promiscuous as boys, but are at a physical disadvantage and want allowances made, but not any practical changes demanded of them. I don’t put the onus only on women, by the way. I’m saying everyone’s to blame, and equally irresponsible. The consequences are uglier and uglier.

    I saw enough tragedy and death as a reporter to kind of take that seriously.

    I think where I need to know more is what’s really behind the apparent growing rage among males. And not just young ones. It’s too facile to say that ‘well, they’re just feeling threatened and are losing hegemony, and are fighting back.’ Some are that, sure. But I’ve got a feeling that it’s also broader than that.

    I think an idea that’s starting to get some traction is that, from an early age in schools, boys are now being treated worse than girls. I have two sons, and most of their teachers were women. It’s been a few years now, but maleness was, even then, being treated like it was a personality disorder or disease. ADHD. Drugs. The people running schools wanted order, and boys are different. They learn differently, usually requiring more activity and movement. And female teachers and administrators fundamentally find that anything but inconvenient to threatening to hateful.

    I believe schools also need to teach social skills and make sure the kids aren’t little heathens, but bureaucracies always protect themselves. It was crowd control in our area, and boys usually got hammered more. It’s similar to the way the police in Ferguson seem to have treated blacks.

    Some of the anger, intuitively, seems to be coming from this to some degree. But add in a culture and media environment that is saturated with sex in marketing messages and entertainment, factor in the immature teenaged brain, teach everyone that immediate gratification is preferable to self-sacrifice, and it’s a recipe for nihilism and dissolved social contracts.

    1. I think you misinterpreted what I meant. I meant that the power of the writing, for me, did not reside in whether it described an actual exchange or not.

      I think, as a woman of a different generation, I may interpret sexuality and its cultural manifestations slightly differently than you. Parents and our culture in general need to instill respect for all human beings in their children.

      Rape, slut-shaming, and objectification of the female body are all examples of embedded misogyny in a culture shaped by patriarchal mores. They are about ownership and dominance over women, no matter who is doing the shaming, raping or objectifying.

      There are numerous examples of the way women’s bodies are treated as public property, and the very fact that we see them as “normal” or place blame on females who experience violence because of their manner of dress, where and how they travel, or what they say is a direct indication that both men and women of this culture have been drinking the Kool Aid.

      Hence, even if this piece was simply inspired by some of the recent events in the news, such as the female student from Georgia who was violently sexually assaulted at a post-Prom party by members of the football team while she was unconscious–sustaining injuries serious enough to threaten her life and necessitate time in the ICU–it does not, in fact lesson the power of the piece.

      An imaginary exchange is no less meaningful when it makes pointed commentary about very real social themes and the cultural manifestation of attitudes that devalue a person based on sex or ethnicity.

      1. I take your point, but I would read her piece and maybe wonder if it were about something that actually happened or not. If it were, it would have more power for me. The doubt would reduce it’s power… for me.

        The other things you mention are real issues. I guess how I see them is colored by my age, but also by where I come from. It is no doubt worse elsewhere, but the women I grew up around expected respect, and got it. If they didn’t, they took action with the gentleman involved. These were tough, no-nonsense types. And to be honest, there wasn’t as much of an overt culture of misogyny or dominance as now. It might have been because I grew up in a farming community where men and women worked alongside each other as needed, and your value was based on what you could do. Very egalitarian. I suppose I expected everyone to be like that, and it saddens me that they aren’t. I should know better by now, though.

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