Zerlina Maxwell was recently on Hannity to talk about rape and “gun control.” [LINK: Zerlina Maxwell on Hannity – YouTube] to Maxwell’s point was that men should be taught “not to rape.” In typical Hannity fashion he refused to allow her to speak, constantly interrupting her and refusing to recognize the point she was trying to make. Hannity refused to allow Maxwell to make her point. Maxwell’s point? Women shouldn’t be charged with the responsibility of stopping rape once it starts – men should be charged with the responsibility of not raping women in the first place.
My point is Maxwell’s point – men should be taught not to rape. Rape cases far too often focus on the woman in the case, the victim. It shouldn’t be the responsibility of the woman to defend herself from being raped. It should be the responsibility of the rapist to not rape.
Hannity, during his constant interruptions of Maxwell, tried to make a point which is commonly used in political discourse saying that “You think you can tell a rapist to stop doing what he is doing?… And he is going to listen to an ad campaign to stop?”* Hannity implies that a rapist is a rapist and at no point was he anything other than a rapist. At no point does one become a rapist, he merely is a rapist.
The problem is in regarding a rapist as though they were always a rapist, and more generally a criminal as always a criminal. Rapists are not born rapists – they are not forged from stone and steel like a sword made for raping.
Rape is an act. At some point someone is faced with a decision to either rape or not rape. The problem is that when it comes to that decision too many non-rapists decide to rape, rather than not rape. If we can teach boys and men alike that they are responsible for their actions then we can begin to change the decision from rape to not rape.
A problem in regards to this responsibility on the issue of rape is that men are often seen as a slave to their sexual urges. Men are unable to control their sexual urges – a myth perpetuated in society. Just think of how often men talk about having two heads and how use of one precludes the use of the other. This is something that isn’t just done in peer social settings, but is also prevalent in places like schools, work places, and pretty much everywhere. This isn’t some myth that is only perpetuated when we hang out with our buddies at the bar.
Jessica Lahey, a middle school teacher, recently wrote an article for the Atlantic entitled “A Dress-Code Enforcer’s Struggle for the Soul of the Middle School Girl”. [LINK: to article] The article focuses on young girls who dress “inappropriately” and wear revealing clothes. But more to the point Lahey says in the article “I hate having to worry about being able to see a girl’s underwear will so addle the boys’ brains that they will be unable to concentrate in science class.” Lahey is making young girls responsible for not “addling the boys’ brains”. It is a girl’s responsibility to cover up so that she won’t addle boys’ brains just like it is the woman’s responsibility to dress modestly so that she won’t be a target of rape and to carry a gun/mace to defend herself when rape occurs (even though these things do little to actually prevent rape).
Boys and men are regarded more like we are Neanderthals – unable to control our own sexual urges much less able to control ourselves when these urges arise. The problem is that it is perpetuated by society like scientific fact, rather than the societal urban legend that it is. Men can control themselves but they aren’t and society doesn’t tell them that it is wrong when we don’t control ourselves. Men are being regarded like Neanderthals because they’re acting like them and we act like them because we’re not being told that it’s wrong to do so.
* The elipses represent other speakers (aka not Hannity) talking. This was one of Hannity’s attempts to interrupt Maxwell’s point.