For Fuck’s Sake Stop Politicizing This Shit

Caitlin Johnstone
9 min readNov 17, 2017

See this picture? This picture is not political. This picture is not part of any PAC-funded, DC think tank-generated sloganeering campaign. This picture does not legitimize nor delegitimize anyone’s opinions about estate taxes or gun control. This picture does not prove anyone right or wrong about Donald Trump or Bill Clinton, about Roy Moore or Harvey Weinstein.

This is a picture of yet another man sexually abusing yet another woman. Period.

I am getting so fucking sick of this shit. I mean, my god. Every couple days a new story comes out about some sleazebag who feels entitled to the use of another person’s body, and instead of asking questions about what we can fix in our society that gives rise to such evil, the first thing everyone looks at is whether he’s a fucking Republican or a fucking Democrat.

Enough. No. No more.

Shame on you. Shame on everyone left, right and center who has been using the victims of rape culture to advance a political agenda instead of turning and fighting rape culture itself. Shame on everyone who’s used the depraved rampages of male sexuality as a battleground for more political dick wagging.

And you know who you are. I’m not going to single anyone out because it would be unfair since all sides are doing it constantly, including the political factions that read my stuff. Our society is saturated in a culture of rape, and my Twitter feed seems to think that the best approach to this problem is to turn it into a political partisan wedge issue.

Republicans rape. Democrats rape. Skinheads rape. Conspiracy buffs rape. Bernie-or-Busters rape. Marxist vegans rape. It has nothing to do with politics. At all. People are only making it about politics because it’s a lot more comfortable to go “Hurr hurr, that political group over there” than to sincerely turn and face what we are, what we’ve done, and what we’ve had done to us. Rape culture impacts us all, and bringing this particular cultural demon into consciousness is scary.

Whenever there’s a high-profile police shooting in America, half the country condemns it and the other half says well, he should have listened better. He shouldn’t have done that vaguely noncompliant thing while being handcuffed. He shouldn’t have reached for his wallet so quickly. And I always say, why? Why would you expect anyone to behave exactly perfectly while interacting with a police officer? Is that a subject that’s taught in American schools, like math and history? Is it something that’s taught so regularly, so thoroughly and so extensively that it’s reasonable to expect every US citizen to always interact perfectly in an escalated police interaction? Or is it just something that armchair pundits like to claim everyone knows because it’s more comfortable than looking at America’s spurting racial wounds and increasingly militarized police force?

I feel the same way about rape culture. Whenever I try to write about it I get a bunch of comments about how rape culture isn’t a thing, how rape is just a bad, rare thing done by bad, rare men, but how can that be true? I don’t know any women who haven’t been severely impacted by the rapey violations of men, and there’s virtually nothing in our culture teaching young men about the many different forms such violations can take and not to perpetrate them.

How many men were taught at a young age that a man’s sexuality is solely his responsibility to manage and that no woman will ever owe him sex for any reason whatsoever? And if he does get the idea that he is owed sex because he paid for dinner / it’s the fifth date / she hasn’t put out in a while / they haven’t had sex since the baby, or any of the thousands of other reasons men get it in their head that a woman should put out — he is mistaken. He is wrong. No woman will ever owe him sex for any reason. That is not a thing.

How many young men get taught that the world doesn’t owe him a wife or a girlfriend and that just because he likes a girl doesn’t mean she’ll like him back? That friend-zoning is not a thing you’re entitled to get angry about, that it’s just the consequence of not being chosen? And that she gets to choose?

How many young men are taught that if she or both of you have been drinking, then consent cannot be rendered? That anything but a ‘fuck yeah’ is probably a no? That Barney Stinson and Joey Tribbiani were sexual predators? That tricking women into having sex with you is the same as fraud? That negging a woman into fucking you causes her long-term psychological damage? That sending unsolicited dick pics is not any less frightening and intrusive than flashing someone in public?

Do they get told that a wife isn’t a free prostitute? That masturbation is healthy? That it’s okay if they never get sex and die a virgin? That porn is just a man’s caricature of female sexuality and the real thing is way different and way hotter? And that you only ever get to see the real thing if you make her feel secure, relaxed and safe enough to play with you? And that’s not gonna happen when she’s drunk, or stressed, or drowning under a pile of diapers, dishes, body inhibitions, expectations or obligations?

Do they get taught that female sexuality is a gift, not an entitlement? Do they understand that they need to be tender and protective of that gift? Do they know how much they can help protect women by speaking up when their friends are being assholes? How one “Knock it off, dickface” from a mate can save a girl from a lot of suffering? How “No, Al Franken, I’m not taking that picture and you’re not fucking funny” can make the world a better place?

Do young women get taught that a man’s sexuality is never, ever her responsibility? That “blue balls” is not actually a thing? That a man can actually go indefinitely without having sex, and that’s perfectly fine? That if she feels she needs to give a man sex in order to maintain a relationship, the relationship isn’t worth maintaining? That it’s her right to be beautiful? And that the rest of the world can learn to just deal? That shaming someone is a perfectly good defense when someone is being a creeper? That being rude is preferable to being manipulated by your politeness into having sex with someone?

Are women taught that fear comes in three different flavors — fight, flight and freeze — and most women freeze when being sexually assaulted and that’s okay? Freezing up doesn’t mean you wanted it to happen. Freezing just means you froze.

I’ll get plenty of comments saying “Well a lot of those things aren’t rape, though! Manipulating a woman into sex isn’t rape! That happens all the time!” I know it happens all the time. That’s what makes it cultural. Where we disagree is whether or not it should continue. I say it shouldn’t.

I say it shouldn’t because women shouldn’t have to be constantly guarding our sexuality all the time. I say it shouldn’t because the same culture that makes men think it’s okay to manipulate a woman into bed with him is what gives rise to those times when a man thinks it’s okay to physically force himself upon a woman. I say we shouldn’t because being forced to defend ourselves against the implicit male insistence that we are objects of conquest saps our mental energy and creativity and makes it very difficult for us to thrive.

I am aware that I am speaking in broad terms; there are all sorts of variations, gradations and nuances on all this, as well as obvious differences in gender dynamics, sexual orientation and sexual identity. I speak in broad terms because this is an extremely broad problem; human civilization is made of rape. All around the world and as far back as recorded history can see, women have been commodified and kept as property for male gratification whenever he wanted it, with virtually no power and hence no input into the way civilization developed.

Then what happened? All of a sudden a few decades ago men said, “You want equality? Great! The bank we invented is over there, the Church of the Patriarchal God we invented is around the corner, the jobs we invented are down the road, remember to pay your taxes so we can keep fighting our wars, good luck thriving in this world we built for ourselves. Oh yeah, and we’ll still expect you to raise children. Welcome to equality!”

We’re thrust into this, still reeling head over heels from millennia of sexual slavery with very limited cultural infrastructure for a new social role in an old societal model, and we’re still trying to discover our authentic sexuality in the midst of it all. It doesn’t help that in the midst of this mess we’re also expected to dance perfectly with the relentless assault of men’s irresponsible use of their sexuality, to the point where no matter how egregious the offense we’re still asked “Well why didn’t you do this or that to prevent that from happening?”

We need to find our way out of this. I love men. I am married to a really good one. This is not about hurting men or tagging an entire gender back for the troubles men have caused us. This is about finding our way out from the convoluted tangle of thousands of years of deeply unconscious cultural patterns which brought us to the evolve-or-die point in which we have found ourselves as a species. We will not transcend our patterns if we remain locked in ancient and oppressive gender dynamics, and if we do not transcend our patterns they will carry our species into the arms of extinction.

Already I see men everywhere expressing concern that #MeToo has gone far enough, and is beginning to become a major problem. I can only laugh when I see this. We’ve just barely gotten started and they’re already like “Okay ladies, that’s enough of that. Time to reel it in.” Actually, no, no it isn’t. This isn’t finished until the culture of rape that we are swimming in is no more. This thing is going to get far, far more drastic and change the world far, far more than it already has. It needs to.

Undoing rape culture will necessarily undo the patriarchy from the ground up, from the inside out, uprooting everything that we currently defer to as power and replacing it with something completely new. We don’t know what that will look like anymore than a caterpillar knows what being a butterfly looks like. All we know is that we must hit all the way through this time. Every thrust towards female emancipation has been tripped up by our sincere love and sympathy for the menfolk and our desire to protect them from themselves. We can’t let that happen this time. Our planet is at stake and the queen (plural) must be returned to her throne.

It is right that men are being called out for their sexual misdeeds, and it is right that they are suffering consequences for them. It is absolutely obscene, however, that the cultural backlash they receive has anything to do with whether they’re a fucking Democrat or a fucking Republican. As far as I’m concerned the fact that rape victims are leveraged in political partisan games is itself a product of rape culture. Our rapes are not weapons for your dumb tribal dick battles. A woman’s suffering is not yours to use just as a woman’s body is not yours to use.

Check in with yourself, please. Are you focusing on the Republicans who have been accused of sexual misconduct more than the Democrats, or drawing more attention to Democrats than the Republicans? If so, you’re exacerbating the problem. What you should be focusing on is the crime, the victim, and the cultural dynamic which gave rise to the situation. Yes, Al Franken is a politician, and if he resigns it will have political consequences. But if you’re attacking or defending him because of those possible consequences then you are part of the problem.

Recoil in revulsion at rape culture in action. Not in feigned revulsion because of the perpetrator’s political affiliation, but in true revulsion because this is an awful thing that happened as a result of the awful demon that our culture still harbors. Stop diddling your partisan bullshit and turn and face the real problem head-on.


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