Rape is not a women’s issue

Kate Manne objects to telling men to learn to care about rape by thinking of their daughters.

But there are at least three things wrong with thinking of it in this way.

First off, it should not take a woman in general, or someone’s wife in particular, to persuade a man in Morrison’s position to take decisive action over a problem as serious as allegations of rape in his own workplace.

That we still have to try to make people care about these devastating allegations wreaks its own kind of trauma – the trauma of dealing with hostile indifference in the wake of such reported violence. Higgins spoke of her pain upon realising that, when it came to what happened, “the only thing that … made people care about it was where it happened and who it was connected to.”

It’s really very odd to think that men can’t care about terrible things that happen to women unless they’re reminded of the very few women they actually give a shit about. Is it really that impossible for men to realize that women are people exactly as men are? That we aren’t some weird other kind of human with no emotions, no fears, no ability to feel pain, no real significance of any kind? Surely it’s not.

Manne then points out that daughter is a bad choice because daughters used to be seen as literally the property of their fathers.

It is long past overdue to conceive of female victims as people in their own right, with human rights, rather than as some man’s somebody – his wife, mother, sister, daughter, and so on – and as mattering because of that. She is her own person, and a person is – or ought to be – inviolable by others’ acts of sexual violence.

Well said. Thank you.

Oh but wait, there’s more.

Thirdly, and finally, there is something misbegotten about the idea of rape as a woman’s issue in this context whatsoever. True, girls and women are disproportionately likely to be rape victims, as compared with their male counterparts, and that surely matters in terms of how we address the issue as a society. But rape is also routinely committed against boys, men, and non-binary people.

The new improved feminism strikes again.

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