Yes, you read that headline right. A friend and one of my favorite people on the Internet, Valorie Clark, who I had the pleasure of meeting at Bloggers in Sin City a few years ago posted an article on her Facebook about a new social media campaign out of India that is giving praise to men for not raping women. This is no Onion article, people. Take it away Valorie!
In case you haven’t heard about the new social media trend attempting to come out of India, let me sum it up for you: Men are asking women to post photos of themselves online holding signs that thank other men for not raping them. They’ve come up with things like “I go out for late night parties with my colleagues, and I always get home safely. #BlameOneNotAll”
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for showing gratitude where gratitude is due, but this is not where gratitude is due. No, not all men rape, but all women (and men) suffer from rape culture. And rape culture is asking me to thank the men who haven’t raped me for not raping me.
I (you, us, all women) shouldn’t have to publicly thank men for not committing a crime. We shouldn’t have to publicly thank men for “allowing” us to feel safe. We shouldn’t have to publicly say thanks when other members of our society treat us with basic respect.
Choosing not to rape someone is not worth a pat on the back. Just like choosing not to murder someone is not worth a pat on the back. It’s just expected. Pretending that not raping someone makes a man worthy of commendation doesn’t help end rape, it contributes to the continuance of rape culture. Telling men that they should be applauded for choosing not to rape people perpetuates the (wildly false) idea that some men are not capable of choosing not to rape people.
All men are capable of self-control. They are not animals. When they rape, they’re choosing to do so. Don’t let this campaign, and other campaigns like it, let you forget that. Don’t let it fool you into expressing gratitude to someone not because they did something for you, but just because they didn’t hurt you. The absence of injury or pain is not the same thing as improvement. You should get home safely when you go out with your colleagues, and you shouldn’t have to write them a thank you note after for not raping you.
No, not all men rape. And I am thankful for that. But it is the responsibility of all men and all women to hold every member of our shared society to a higher standard. That standard is eliminating this idea that rape is normal, and that some men just can’t control themselves. So sure, thank you for not raping me. Go hold your buddies to the same standard.