By Lauren Cash
Third-wave feminists have been stammering on about how catcalling objectifies women. Now I hate to use anecdotal evidence to make a point, but I’m a female so I believe that doing so in this case is salient– it is from my experience that I say catcalling is a trivial issue, at best. Not to mention the point that men get catcalled too. I don’t see this as a gender issue, nor do I think that it’s indicative of any sort of “rape culture.” It is technically an unwarranted advance, but so is handing me a flyer to come to your student organization’s meeting. Or sitting next to me in Bartle and obnoxiously chewing your food and playing your music so loud in your ear buds that I can envision Drake’s every move to Hotline Bling (LOOKING AT YOU, GIRL NEXT TO ME. STOP THAT). Seriously, if there were a movement to stop annoying library habits, I would be the front-runner for that movement far before I would even consider taking Amber Rose’s Slut Walk seriously.
I’ve been catcalled by old men, teenage girls yelling out of a car, groups of men around my age, and what have you. My first catcall happened when I was around 12. I was walking out of a store with my dad and some boys in a car yelled “I wanna fuck your daughter!” My dad laughed and said, “Well that was straightforward, wasn’t it?” and I remember being mildly embarrassed that someone said the word “fuck” in front of my dad because I wasn’t really allowed to swear yet. Other than that, I didn’t think much else of it.
I also catcall people, because I am a shitlord at heart. I don’t do it often, and I’m usually at least 3 drinks deep when I do, but for some reason yelling “AYYY SHAWTAY” to strangers is kind of fun. I guess my indifference towards catcalling comes from how my dad responded to my first catcall: it’s no big deal. He didn’t get upset or overprotective, so that made me feel like I have no reason to feel threatened or objectified.
Let’s get back to what this rape culture business is. Apparently it is omnipresent and affects me greatly because I am a woman. I can’t nail down exactly what rape culture is, for the same reason that I can’t tell you what the Loch Ness Monster looks like, so I can only tell you what believers use to describe it. Frederick Attenborough wrote a scholarly article for The Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict in which he describes rape culture as being commonly associated with “victim blaming, sexual objectification, trivializing rape, denial of widespread rape, refusing to acknowledge the harm caused by some forms of sexual violence, or some combination of these.” I will address each of these proposed characteristics individually.
Victim blaming covers a wide range of circumstances. I am fairly certain that we all understand that when a woman has been raped, referencing things like her [lack of] clothing and implying that she was “asking for it” is a huge no-no. Most situations are less clear. Yet another anecdotal example: I was wearing a really low-cut top while working as a hostess at restaurant. Some phlegm-gargling ball rag walked up to me and looked down my shirt in the most brazenly obvious manner which expressed that he did not care about having to explain to the ER surgeon why a female’s size six shoe was lodged in his rectum, though, my manager kicked him out before I got the pleasure of giving this man a colonoscopy with my foot. Should this man have gone full creep-master? No, definitely not. Should I expect attention being paid to the girls when they’re showcased? For as long as gravity permits, likely.
This brings me to Attenborough’s next point: sexual objectification– more relevant, objectification of women. In another issue, I plan to elaborate on the conundrum that feminists have made regarding their view that our “masculine society” has objectified women by sexualizing them in the media and through other vehicles, but also that women should be granted the right to express their sexuality. For now, I’ll leave it here: I can see how disregarding someone as a human with intellect and feelings can cause someone to rape, but for this to be so rampant and widespread as to call it a culture, I have seen little evidence in support of that.
Trivializing rape is a dick move. Saying a man “probably loved it” or “is lucky” when a woman forced him into sex is part of this. However, on the whole, feminists choose not to focus on this aspect and make “trivializing rape” more about rape jokes or using the word “rape” to mean other things than its dictionary definition: i.e., a college student (sporting a Bernie Sanders 2016 shirt) expressing how finals week went: “That economics test totally raped me!” Obviously you probably shouldn’t make a rape joke to a rape victim, but we have got to stop being so butt hurt over jokes and words. If you are easily offended, I can see how you could go spiraling down into a manic state in which every politically incorrect statement is exaggerated so much in your mind that you think it’s an ubiquitous concern.
If you want to talk about the denial of “widespread” rape, you better not come at me with that “one in 5 college women” argument, because I will be Ray Charles to the bullshit. Let’s get something clear about America’s rape statistics. As one of our brilliant writers, Alex Carros had mentioned to you all in the December publication of the Binghamton Review, the Bureau of Justice Statistics records that “Rape and Sexual Assault Victimization among College-age
Females, 1995-2013” is at about 0.61%. Furthermore, if I may directly quote Mr. Carros– as he put it so befittingly– “Before any of you go spouting the comically unsubstantiated ‘90% of rapes go undocumented’ that would still bring [the statistic] to only 1 in 17, dramatically far from the 1:5 that still gets tossed around.”
In asserting the characteristics of rape culture, Attenborough mentions the refusal to acknowledge the harm caused by some forms of sexual violence. Effectively, what this says is that critique on what he and other believers have defined as the harms that are part of a rape culture perpetuates rape culture. I have not the patience, nor the inclination to attempt to untangle this endogenic mess.
Ultimately, this idea of a “rape culture” is insulting to rape victims. For someone to put being catcalled or ogled in the same category as being raped is a seriously distasteful attempt of attention-seeking self-victimization. As I’ve mentioned before, the third-wave feminist movement’s perpetual lamentations– that snowball to encompass more-and-more ridiculous “grievances” with each passing week– demands attention from me because these pseudo-activists are saying that they speak for me as a female. You don’t, so take a lap. While you’re at it, add rape culture to the myth of the glass ceiling, wage gap, and patriarchy.