"Deserves" Has Nothing to Do With Rape:
The Rude Pundit went to the theater in New York City recently with a group of college students, men and women. The play, which was about college students, ends with the terrible, manipulative female character getting raped onstage by a man she had sex with the night before. While the title of the play doesn't really matter, it kind of does matter that the play was written by a male.
That's because of the discussion the Rude Pundit had with the students the next day, which is one of the more disturbing ones he's had in a while. Their minds were blown by the end, they said. And then one student proclaimed that the female character "deserved" to get raped. This student was a woman, and it prompted several of the men to join in, agreeing that the rape was merely just desserts for the character because she might have lied about a previous rape.
Trying to bring the discussion back from this flat declaration, the Rude Pundit wondered aloud if the playwright was actually trying to elicit this response and that he was leading us to question why certain of them felt that way. No, they said, pretty much as a group. The character deserved to be raped because she was such a "bitch." When asked if they felt this was true in real life, if sometimes women "deserved" to be raped, they did not draw a line. If a woman acted like the character in the play, they said, then yes, it would essentially be karma raping her through an angry man.
The Rude Pundit thought about this conversation as he followed the story of Zerlina Maxwell this weekend. Maxwell is a writer and activist who was on Sean Hannity's Fox "news" program on Tuesday last week. The subject was about getting women to buy guns in order to prevent rape. Maxwell took the position that this was the wrong message, that we shouldn't put the onus for rape prevention on the victims, but on, you know, the male rapists through education and a shift in cultural attitudes. In a great line, Maxwell said, "If firearms were the answer, then the military would be the safest place for women, and it’s not." Guns are not society's pacifier, but, man, the right desperately believes they are.
Whenever you dare to question anything about almighty gun ownership, you will shake the monkey cage and you will have shit tossed at you by the monkeys. The Rude Pundit knows this, having once been on the receiving end of a barrage of hate-tweets from people whose guns are their wubbies, their teddy bears, their security blankets. He received threats of violence, even a promise or two to kill him, but no one threatened to rape him. Not once.
Now, to be as fair as one can be to the debased cowards - the people who masturbate in glee at their anonymity and to the level and quality of their viciousness - who attacked Maxwell, she was talking about rape, even talking about the fact the she herself was a victim of rape, so the subject was germane. But, you know, saying, as one Twitter asshole did, "You need to be gang raped to get you some common sense. You stupid bitch," is an example of how scared the writer actually is, not of having his guns taken away, but of losing his power, his former privilege of sex and of race (which used to make up in part for the lack of economic power), to a smart black woman. Indeed, the mentality of the respondents to Zerlina Maxwell (and to Amanda Marcotte before her) is pretty much what we've learned is the mentality of rapists.
It's kind of sadly expected, as so many things are, that conservatives, like Sean Hannity, even (who Maxwell said was compassionate and kind off-screen), who preach personal responsibility as the solution to society's ills can't seem to get their heads around the idea that teaching young men things like "women are not either whores or your mom" falls into that category. For them, the personal responsibility here is buying a gun. The notion that guns are the solution makes it so that an unarmed woman who is attacked is more or less being told that she is at fault for not carrying a gun. That's pretty much the same as saying she deserved it.
The attitudes of the college students are not really that different than they were 15 years ago, when the Rude Pundit was talking about A Streetcar Named Desire with another group in another city. Young men and women there all agreed: Blanche DuBois was asking for it when she was raped by Stanley Kowalski. The Rude Pundit desperately tried, as he did a couple of weeks ago, to convince them that there is no such thing. They didn't believe him then. They don't believe him now.
Zerlina Maxwell is a public figure who won't be silenced by lunkheads tossing crap at her on Facebook, although it's right to be appalled and perhaps a little scared. But you gotta wonder: how many of the women in those groups of students were silenced by the threat of deserving a rape?