Rape? We are going about it the wrong way

By Paul Busharizi

We need to recognize that rapists rarely start off as rapists but climbed up the ladder of sexual violence and who knows if we can catch them early we can prevent them from going to the extreme.

Paul busharizi jan 20 350x210

A few days ago social media was alight with ladies outing men who had done wrong by them or their friends or their friends' friends.

By the time the dust had settled, there were a lot of hurt feelings, sheepish smiles and some very angry people on both sides of the gender divide.

The sad part about it is that narrative was taken to the extreme end of the pendulum. Rape. We went form 0 -100 in a few megabytes.

I think to handle rape, you don't handle rape. You start by recognizing the wider perspective of everything from, these days, cyberstalking to sexual harassment to sexual assault. A rapist does not jump out of the box, out of the blue, they probably go through a progression of unwanted sexual behavior before one day, boom!

It's like domestic violence, we focus on the physical act of beating and forget the lower levels of domestic violence which build-up to the main event.

In conversations on twitter, you could see disturbing confusion about what is and what is not acceptable in our social interactions.

What constitutes consent was an interesting discussion, but I think it put a lot of onus on the objective of a person's desire to set the boundaries of what constitutes admissible behavior. Which is ok but isn't there a case for a certain level of common decency, a baseline of behavior if you like, that frames our relationships?

It may be asking for too much. In the murky and ambivalent world of male-female interactions, there are a lot of influences that colour how we relate to the opposite sex.

Beginning with the signals society sends out, our socialization. Signals emitted by people we respect, our parents, our teachers, our priests, and pastors. And we haven't even begun to examine the messages we get from our peers.

These are overlaid on our own inadequacies and insecurities. All this makes for a very confusing environment in which to grow and operate.

It was interesting to witness all the shrill voices, mostly women, admonishing their own, that no man - relative or not, should be trusted. Most sexual assaults are by people known to the victims and therefore this looked like wise counsel. The counter would be that this distrust could be the very thing that prevents relationships from growing beyond the fugitive glance at the bar.

On the other side of the divide were the defensive, almost petulant male voices, warning that this widening of the boundaries of what constitutes acceptable social behavior would kill a lot of budding relationships. It's not as if every woman you are interested in responds positively from the word go and if we were to turn away at every rejection people would not get married. The counter to that is the first approach need not be offensive, obtrusive or crude for a relationship to kick off.

For anyone with even a rudimentary experience in the dating game would be hard-pressed to argue with that last part.

But it seems the wise thing to do is to err on the side of caution.

Let us not only jump up and down when rape allegations are aired. Let us be appalled when people invade others' private space or "accidentally" touch another in unwanted ways or make comments that cause discomfort to another or even look at someone else in a way as to cause shivers to run up and down their spines.

As for the fears that this interference in the mating game could very well mean the extinction of the human race? We need to calm down. There are enough mutual attractions around to keep the specie rolling along.

Jokes aside.

There is clearly a need to publicise the wider spectrum of sexual crimes, that rape is only one extreme of. We need to recognize that rapists rarely start off as rapists but climbed up the ladder of sexual violence and who knows if we can catch them early we can prevent them from going to the extreme.

It is interesting that with more development, better communication has led to a weakening of social ties and therefore social interactions are personal affairs rather than the coming together of families. This responsibility to a larger grouping than the two individuals kept some anti-social behaviors underground.


Twitter @pbusharizi