Quickies: Slutshaming Study, Black Cowboys, and a Guide to Rape Culture

  • There’s No Such Thing as a Slut – “A new longitudinal study examined how college students slut-shame—and found that the practice is as illogical as it is damaging.”
  • Why I Posed Naked In Brooklyn – A large-bodied woman recreates an iconic Madonna photo for The Full Body Project. NSFW.
  • A Gentlemen’s Guide To Rape Culture – “If you are a man, you are part of rape culture. I know … that sounds rough. You’re not a rapist, necessarily. But you do perpetuate the attitudes and behaviors commonly referred to as rape culture.” From Amy.
  • On The Trail Of Black Cowboys From Nat Love To Sheriff Bart – “At least one quarter of working cowboys during the height of the great cattle boom were black. Many had spent their childhood in slavery and headed west after the Civil War. Their history is often overlooked but they came back into public view this week with the death of the greatest star of black Westerns, Herb Jeffries.”

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Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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  1. The black cowboys story is interesting. You start seeing black cowboys recognized in the 70s. Ironically just as the Western genre was being discredited.

  2. I was going to write a qualifier before my following comment, but I figured I’d give any responders the benefit of the doubt to not assume something awful about me. (And that was so passive aggressive, I’ll probably wonder if I shouldn’t have just written my condescending qualifier instead.)

    So, since I’ve been a part of a community, even if not Atheism+ itself, but some segment of that community and I’ve always been a feminist (something I contribute mostly to my experience as a gay man), I’ve noticed for some time that in discussions about rape culture gay men are disappeared. Maybe this shouldn’t bother me, but it does. It seems like it should not exactly be the kind of thing that bothers me considering the broader context and the amount of good that discussing rape culture does, but it does. Are gay men a part of rape culture? Well, yes, to the extent that everyone is. That much is obvious and certain. It’s necessarily true, even. And yet, in articles like the one linked to here, the content is most definitely directed at straight men. And it should be, because of reasons anyone reading this knows. But articles like this still feel alienating, because they use the word ‘men’ and make no distinction between subgroups.

    You see, everything in the article is well and true, but it can’t apply to me in the same way as it applies to a straight man or even at all. In the world I live in, I’m very much like the women who Zaron Bernett is trying to make feel safe in his presence. Sure, I live in a cosmopolitan city and conduct my everyday life in a neighbourhood in which I can feel very safe, but I do have to encounter danger even there and I do have to leave sometimes, much to my discomfort, and face the harsh world outside of my enclave of relative safety (okay, it’s not always that bad, but then that’s true of any situation a marginalised person may find themselves). I live in a different world, overlapping with the world of rape culture. That’s the world of homophobia. And it can be a very dangerous world, running the gamut from words that hurt to being killed. And that’s an everday thing, exactly like a woman living in rape culture.

    Now, I don’t want to sound as though I’m playing Oppression Olympics and going for the gold in every event. I don’t mean to compare the relative differences of any given person’s experiences and identify who has it worse. What I do mean to do is to point out that I don’t think I can do any of the things that Zaron does (and really, it’s important to make other people feel safe and to call out bad behaviour and to set an example), or that certain men should do, to mitigate rape culture and to make women feel safe. The reason for that is that I don’t feel safe sometimes in the presence of women at times to the degree that a woman might not feel safe in the presence of a man. To the extent that any given man (and, yeah, we should be explicit that the vast majority are straight) can be a rapist of women (more on that point later*), any given person can be a homophobe and I don’t know who that will be or what the outcome of an encounter with a homophobe will be for me.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t do my part in combating rape culture and making women feel safe in a space where I also feel safe, but imagine the following scenario:

    I’m in a foreign city where I don’t know that I’m in a safe place and I’m just leaving a bar, alone, to head back to my hotel. It’s immaterial why I would do this if I wasn’t certain I was safe, but for argument, I know my way, I walked here in the daylight, it’s not that far, I’m not that drunk, and it’s a nice night and a short walk will sober me up before bed. I turn onto a street, it’s late, so there’s no one around at first. A person turns onto the street and walks behind me. I look behind me, briefly, and that person doesn’t look like someone who came from where I did. That swish in my hips disappears, I actually slow down (don’t appear to be running away). I move my murse (yes, murse) in front of me; men don’t carry purses, so make mine disappear. I’m so short and I look so gay! I feel vulnerable. I try to adjust my gait, walk taller, carry myself straight. I’ve had done this before; no it didn’t help, but I wasn’t physically hurt and what’s the harm in adding to the experiment? Maybe I’m just too gay! And then the quiet, suspicious and dangerous looking person walks by me and continues on their way and with relief and a pounding heart I hurry back to my hotel. I’m sobered by the adrenaline rush, so at least there’s that.

    There’s very little that person could have done to make me feel safer. Maybe they didn’t even know I was gay. They could have crossed the street, that sign would have been something of a relief, but then some cowards like to hurl their slurs from a ‘safe’ distance.

    Now, imagine I’m that person and there’s a woman walking in front of me. I’m as scared of her as she might be of me. I might or might not move to the other side of the sidewalk, but that decision is based on my feeling of relative safety and not the consideration for how she might feel. And she reacts exactly how a woman might if she felt threated by a stranger walking behind her on an empty street in the night, a bit drunk and all alone.

    Or, we’re not scared of each other. I can see she’s a woman, and despite what I said earlier, women are vastly less dangerous than straight men in my experience. In her glance, she decides I’m a gay man and in my judgement of her, she seems like a woman who probably just left the area I did. Maybe I pass her and maybe I don’t. But neither of us is scared and if we do pass by each other, we’re just happy we were both right.

    *Now, on the matter of rape, gay men experience it too. From other gay men and from straight men too. It’s a real and present danger. Like I said, we’re all of us living in a rape culture and that toxicity extends to the world of gay men. The reduction of a person to a sexual object can be stripped of a female gender, reprocessed and become a man, directly exported behaviour from rape culture and all it’s antecedents and integral parts. With straight men raping gay men, well, that’s a slightly different beast, but it’s rape culture that allows such a belief as corrective rape to exist in the first place.

    I don’t want to make this about homophobia or the different, overlapping worlds we all live in and share and while I think some attention should be drawn to the rape culture that gay men inhabit as gay men, what I wanted to do was to draw attention to the fact that by continuing to not draw distinctions between gay men and straight men when discussing rape culture as it affects women (or everyone) it erases the experiences of gay men and appears to put an onus on gay men that perhaps they shouldn’t bear. I hope it’s clear that this isn’t a ‘not all men, not me,’ argument, but if I wasn’t articulate enough, I’m hoping at least that I’ve started a conversation.

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