There are lots of men who think Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” comment was vulgar, but are they ready to grab rape culture by the balls?

In reaction to people who say Trump’s words are common, and “that’s just how men talk,” some men in the liberal camp, such as prominent civil rights activist Shaun King and actor Mark Ruffalo, say they’re not—men don’t talk like this. These men have never heard a man talk about a woman like that, and would call them out if they would—or, in the case of King, other men know he is so against these statements they would never even bring it up even if the thought crossed their minds.

It’s good men vow to call other men out. But if all of these “good” men have never heard anything like this, and there are a lot of these men, and profess this type of “locker room talk” isn’t common, then how do they reconcile that 1 out of 6 American women has been raped, or that 9 out of 10 victims of rape are female, or that nearly half of women have experienced some other type of sexual assault (keeping in mind that these numbers very well could be higher)?

 

Have these men actually talked to a woman? I’m sure they’d hear a different story, because women they know have probably experienced some form of sexual assault. It’s that common – it’s the norm.

Of course, Trump’s words are not something a lot of us men hear everyday, including myself, for various reasons. For example, I like to surround myself with men who can effectively recognize how rape culture functions and is supported by sexism, male privilege, toxic masculinity, and patriarchy. Yet none of us is perfect in these regards, meaning we all participate in these mechanisms. Are we like Trump? No, but are we “good guys”? No, but many of us keep our heads down, listen, and constantly try to fight these things in our words, actions, thoughts, and deeds.

As King pointed out, when men know you’re like this they’re loath to brag about sexual assault, and this may be true to some extent, but it still doesn’t mean the consequences of those thoughts they harbor are any less real. Or they're not boasting to other people, for that matter. Saying you’re surprised as a man that another man would say or do a thing like this is naïve, ignorant, and does nothing other than boost your own ego, because you’re “one of the good guys.”  

Do you want a cookie for not being a dick?

Surely, rape is broader than the action itself, and permeates how we talk about sexuality, pleasure, and gender roles? Hence, rape culture. Surely, microaggressions exist? Surely, male supremacy is a thing? Surely, there’s a reason why there’s a push for speaking about what constitutes consent? And it’s surely not because us men understand these things.

As a male, I have an extremely hard time believing that other males have never in their lives heard men talk about women in this way, treating them as property to use as they wish. And if they stand by this claim, I question their ability to recognize how rape culture functions in the first place.

Distancing ourselves as men from Trump’s comments by avowing that this type of speech is uncommon just proves how ignorant we men are, and that we’re not listening to the women in our lives who have do deal with these things everyday. In other words, it’s our male privilege that blinds us to the reality of rape culture and spurs us to argue that misogynistic language is uncommon--for it must be if we men, who aren’t the target of said language and its real embodied consequences, haven’t experienced it. 

Update: This comprehensive, empowering guide to Internet safety for women has been brought to my attention. It's a critical tool, especially in this day and age where people are constantly online, and even includes tips on how to safely use ridesharing apps along with how women can protect themselves on popular social media sties like twitter, instagram, and facebook.