The Rapist In Our Minds

Rose McGowanYou’ve probably heard Rose McGowan’s powerful speech to The Women’s Convention of Detroit, which included these words:

Hollywood may seem like it’s an isolated thing, but it is not. It is the messaging system for your mind. It is the mirror that you’re given to look into…

[Movies are] told through 96 percent males in the Directors’ Guild of America… We are given one view. And I know the men behind that view. And they should not be in your mind and they should not be in my mind. It’s time to clean house.

This comes in response to accusations of sexual abuse by Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein, and others.

Media reflects and reinforces culture

Media reflects, reinforces, and helps to create the larger culture.

And our media is filled with the objectification of women and sexual violence against them. A few years ago several shows I watched routinely called women bitches, too.

It’s behavior that is still normalized even though it shouldn’t seem normal at all.

Yet against accusations of Weinstein’s assaults fashion designer Donna Karan blamed women for what they wear — ironic since she designs what they wear.

She’s not alone. I’m sure we’ve all heard people (both female and male) blame women too.

In some places where women are expected to be even more covered up than they are here, a girl may be blamed for being sexually assaulted because a bit of hair fell from her head covering, or perhaps her long skirt revealed a bit of ankle. And who could resist?

We are gradually moving away from such notions, but protecting rapists and blaming girls and women for being assaulted is still far too common.

Blaming women for being victimized creates patriarchy

Blaming women for being victimized only makes sense in a patriarchy. (“Patriarchy” and “men” are two different things. Patriarchy is a system that privileges men over women.)

Sexual assault and blaming women for being victims of this crime both help to uphold patriarchy:

First, women’s bodies are degraded and overpowered by men, which is meant to give men a sense of power and superiority. Even though the disgusting behavior is sub-human.

Next, blame women for been assaulted, leaving them further disempowered and further degraded.

Yes, we must clean house as Ms. McGowan says. In Hollywood and in our own minds.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on November 1, 2017, in rape and sexual assault and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 53 Comments.

  1. Blaming women for what they wear is the only way anyone can rationalize rape. Women aren’t always wearing clothing that reveals too much. Sometimes they are raped or targeted when they are wearing jeans and hoodie or even pajama pants. It/s not about changing what women wear to accommodate men, it’s about raising men and women to not sexualize a person’s body. Who also respect people in general. Men get raped too, it’s also less reported because what guy wants to say he was raped? People will make fun of him because the culture is about men having sex with women. And what guy refuses sex? decent men who were raised right or who at least respect women. It’s not surprising that hollywood also works with people who would do such a thing. Not everyone thinks that same and I respect those with different opinions, but hollywood should have a good standard. Letting mrs who assault women work in the industry sends a bad message to young men everywhere. The more stories that come out of real assault by actors and directors who we thought were decent men, the more the world will realize that role models need be good. Not just hiding behind their fame.

  2. Being a female in a society where woman are blamed for the bad things that happen to us definitely makes me question how bad our society has become. It seems that men cannot take blame for what they do. In my opinion I believe that hollywood needs to make this more known as an issue than something that is just going to continue to happen on how a woman dresses. If they are going to be making films about this they should let known how women feel before, while, and after the assault happens. They should make films on real life issues of this like for example Harvey Weinstein is a great example of what happened this year recently. its empowered men like this that believe they are able to get away with things because they have money. I find that men who feel that they have a lot of authority always think they can get away with this and make it seem that the woman is unstable for saying that they have been sexually assaulted by them. They are able to flip the story at times and if hollywood were to bring more light to this issue it should make facts show on the abuser and the victim.

  3. “It’s time to clean house” is an incredible quote because of the events after the accusations. Women started coming forward and accusing the men who had sexually assaulted them in the past. I agree with how women are constantly being blamed for being sexually assaulted because of what they wear or because of who they are accusing. The story of women coming forward against men in Hollywood made me angry because these women were afraid to come forward. They were afraid to say something against the man who had power would cut their contract or they did speak up but nothing could be done because of the position that person held. These women had to wait years for justice to be done and now that there’s safety in numbers they could finally feel safe knowing that they will not be blamed for being the victim.

  4. The hashtag #metoo has been everywhere on social media lately, with women all over the world coming forward about their stories of sexual harassment and abuse whether it be in schools, the work place and most popular, the hollywood industry. People have been quiet for so long so now we can feel a change in the atmosphere. Women are speaking up. They are seeking justice and are setting a better example for young women everywhere to say that it is not okay and that we allowed to be angry. It is not right to attack those who have come forward and attack them for finally speaking out against men in power. It’s not just women either, even men who have been assaulted and harassed are also coming forward. This is only the first step though.
    At what point do we hold these people accountable for what they have done? The people in powerful positions like Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K and Kevin Spacey can admit to behaving despicably and yet say they are seeking treatment and we are supposed to say that it’s okay? We have even gone further to elect these perverts into Senate positions and let’s not forget the Presidential office too! Where do we as human beings draw the line? It has become so normal and acceptance for people to behave irresponsibly and use fowl language because we see it on our TVs and laugh about it but we forget that we training our subconscious to see this as okay. It is not! It is not okay that a man should rape a woman because she wore a short skirt. The time is now for people to say enough is enough and realize this is not a women’s issue but a human issue.

  5. I am a women and my point is yess a woman is a human just like a man. And everyone have his / her freedom of thought, beliefs and culture. Although I personally don’t like too much of skin show but I also understand that sexual harassing or rape has nothing to do with what a women wear. Dressing modestly is a good thing but these harrassers not leave even the modest dressed up women. So, the point is men should know to respect women. Respect is the main thing, if every men has respect for women he will never harm women’s dignity.

  6. Women r neither safe in her mom’s womb nor outside

    • Not in our current society. The more gender equal a society is the lower the level of rape. In some gender-equal societies like the Iroquois of America’s east coast at contact with Europeans, rape and wife battering were virtually unknown. So there is hope — if we can keep moving away from patriarchy.

  7. “But I don’t understand why you all don’t push him to help the middle class instead of the elite — like he said he would do.”

    Watch these two vids (please)

    Charles Murray

    These two videos go to the heart of the problem(s) in America. We have coastal elites running things. They care very little about the middle class or working class.

    We can debate the policies of Trump. No, I am not for these tax cuts. We have a debt bomb in America. All these tax cuts will do is increase the debt levels in America. Just because people are billionaires do not mean they cannot design policies that help working class families. Look at President Obama’s cabinet. Had lots of wealthy Ivy League folks like himself. Yet, the Left offers ZERO criticism of him. He was in bed with Wall Street. He had MORE Goldman Sachs people than Trump!

    • I’m less concerned with whether someone worked at Goldman Sachs than with whether their policies help working people.

      But blaming coastal elites is both dishonest and meant to distract the Republican base from republicans catering to wealthy donors. Coastal elites actually do much more to help working people than most other places. Our taxes are higher just for that reason. And we are more likely to have voted to make sure that workers have living wages.

      Obamacare helped non-elites.

      Democrats vote Democratic because they feel that people who have more money should pay more in taxes in order to help support things like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the earned income tax credit, child tax credit, pell grants for education. Track voting records of Democrats and Republicans and you will see that Democrats help the working class while Republicans do not. I track and I know.

      What good does it do to keep blaming the wrong people and have nothing to change?

  8. I’m sure the music industry isn’t any much better. Remember the thing with Kesha and the record label owner or something like that? Seems like the flood gates have opened. The actor on the 70s show, not accused of raping 4 women and apparently there’s strong evidence of him doing so, but like often times, it’s slow moving as far as filing and going forward with the case. There was always the stories of ugly side of hollywood and the casting couch, but now it’s out and everybody can see this facade apparently. It makes some of hollywood look like hypocrites too though. As it’s not just directors but actors you can see and a lot of actors and actresses are liberal and seem to be for social justice and issues. Yet you see the actions of some of these actors recently and they are bad men. The 70s show actor was part of Scientology which religions have their bad sides, but Scientology is like another level in crazy cult land.

  9. Your reply to my last comment proved everything I have come to know and understand about feminists, feminism, and women in general.

    The message is clear: “Men go f**%k yourselves because we ONLY care about ourselves and the most attractive men.”

    Duly noted.

    • Geez, why so hostile?

      I never see such hostility directed at men by feminists. (That’s not our message.)

      Women’s sexuality is repressed, making them need a lot to be sexually interested. Blame patriarchy that diminishes our sexual desire. Nearly half of women with no to low interest in sex shows there’s something wrong with our culture that punishes female desire.

  10. There’s a White House that needs to be cleaned as well.

    • “I don’t have to, they’re self destructing.”

      Laughable..Good old Hillary (Crooked Hillary) now rigging campaign. Jeez. Who would have thought. Talk about self destructing..

      You have jack squat to offer Americans beyond the howls of racism, misogyny, blah blah.

      This is what you have to offer Americans? Let me see what else…Sanctuary cities, defending criminal illegals, affirmative action immigration policies. Most of the cities you run are hell holes (Baltimore, Philly, Chicago..).

      I cannot wait until next year. Just watch the beating you Dems and silly liberals take. I guess you will do more speech suppression and crying like little babies. Sad.

      This is EXACTLY why so many Americans are so turned off to the Left.

      See you in 2018. CAN’T WAIT!

      • You know Huggy, I do understand why so many people voted for Trump, having asked my friends and relatives who voted for him. But I don’t understand why you all don’t push him to help the middle class instead of the elite — like he said he would do. You all accept him regardless of what he does and so the elite Republicans can use him as cover to — looking at the primary legislation they have tried to pass:

        “healthcare” Tax cuts for the rich paid for by healthcare cuts to the middle class

        Tax policy: Tax cuts for the rich eventually paid for by either increased taxes for the middle-class to the middle class (which is partly what this budget includes) or the middle class will end up pain more on the deficit.

        Both of these bills were pushed by billionaire donors. And Republicans fear losing their money if they don’t do what these billionaires say.

        Why don’t you push Trump to help ordinary Americans?

  11. It is 2017. Really. If a women smiles friendly, dresses nicely, walks alone in the evening, whatever, IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT SHE WANTS ANYTHING FROM ANY MAN. And no man has the right to violate another man, drunk or not.
    I really, really hope that the #metoo discussion makes men realise that this behaviour is unacceptable.

    • Yes! And I wonder if the reports of men molesting boys will help men to understand more how violent and hurtful this is. And I hope that the “me too” movement will help men to understand how widespread the problem is.

      I know that plenty of men are concerned about this and I appreciate their efforts to walk in someone else’s shoes.

      • Absolutely! As it happens here in Holland there is a tv presenter who claims he was raped by someone in the beginning of his career. It takes a lot of courage and thick skin too, so yes, let’s hope it’s for the greater good.

        Luckily there are plenty of good and supportive men too 😊

      • Thanks for telling about that. I’m always curious to hear about what is happening in other countries outside the US. I’m glad that more victims – both men and women — are feeling more empowered to bring this problem to light. It’s more likely to continue and to traumatize more and more people when it stays in the dark.

      • And women molesting boys? Oops I forgot. The women were doing these boys a favor. What 13 year would not want a blow job or intercourse with his teacher. It’s a dream come true. Right?

      • The behavior is totally wrong.

  12. And now Director Brett Ratner allegeldy sexually harassed 6 women including famous actress Olivia Munn https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/brett-ratner-accused-sexual-harassment-130026534.html

    The Flood gates have been opened. It must be hard with such powerful people controlling things, but I’m just wondering why this stuff wasn’t opened in the past considering for so many years all of this has happened and probably through the history of hollywood. People knew of the life and drugs and demons or actors, but nothing ever really got out to this extent. It’s good to shine the light on bad actions, but I’m wondering what allowed this to come forward now and not 10 years ago? Are female actors and directors have more power or feel perhaps in this year to have the ability to come forward against powerful men unlike in the past?

    • This sort of thing hasn’t come out in such a long time because being open could be a career-ending move. I am curious about how it came out now. Maybe the culture has changed to make people feel safer?

  13. Actors and Hollywood presents this “glamorous” or faux presentation that things are great and societal troubles and struggles and real issues that our culture can deal with is beyond the millionaires or not as much of a problem , but actually just as much or more. All this stuff that was kept under wraps and disturbing, yet the truth of the ugly side of bad men running things behind the scenes in Hollywood. But it’s not just directors, but actors kept under wraps, and just unfolding too. Did you hear about how Kevin spacey many many years ago came on to a 14 year old boy? He just comes out as gay now, but this shouldn’t distract from hint of pedophilia as he was an adult man coming on to a 14 year old boy actor.

    And then more stuff came out about the house of horror Kevin Spacey had with his father growing up and how his father was abusive or something like that. Still doesn’t excuse his hitting on the boy as an adult but perhaps explains maybe where it came from, I don’t know. And not just women, but underage actors too. Cory Feldman has had drug issues for along time and there was the other Corey, where they were popular child hood actors. The other Corey killed himself like a year or two ago and it’s believed both Coreys were molested for years as child hood actors, probably by a director just like Weinsten or maybe him. And it;s just sad.

    • Yes, and there is also plenty in our media that promotes objectification, humiliations and abuse. Which is a reflection of the lives of too many who are the powers behind the media. And then it all gets into our minds, reinforcing the worst parts of the culture.

  14. Hollywood seems to have a difficult time making what I would consider and entertaining and yet still thought provoking movie. My thought provoking, I don’t mean “tell me what to think”, I mean “cause me to think”. And I have long since stopped watching the awards show, where they give an award to the politically most correct movie that no one (very few) have seen.

    There does seem to be some interesting stuff coming out of the UK and Canada. Hollywood isn’t the only game in town and Bollywood can be fun to watch–love those grand dance scenes (smile)

    • I generally agree. But I do wonder how you categorize something as “politically correct.” Like what is an example of a politically correct movie? We seem to have some different values and I’m curious to understand yours.

  15. Lets face it.. If women were stronger, then we would be writing about the evils matriarchy. The fundamental issue is that we don’t know how to deal with power. Absolute power corrupts, regardless of gender.

    • Like I said: “Patriarchy” and “men” are two different things. Patriarchy is a system that privileges men over women.

      Fortunately, many, many men are against patriarchy just as many, many whites are against racism.

      I agree that if things were switched around and women had more power that would create horrors, too.

      Feminists seek a partnership society, not a domination society.

      • You would think the opposite of feminism would be …. chauvinism? If feminism was really about equal treatment of the genders, it would be called humanism or equalism. There is no opposite to feminism in existence. That’s part of the problem.

      • Do you hear people say that no one should fight against racism or classism? We should only recognize humanism?

        Each of these words mean different things.

        Concerns about inequality that focus on different areas of interest have different names:

        Gender = feminism
        Race = racism
        Class = classism
        Looks = lookism

        etc.

        Trying to get rid of the word feminist is part of the fight to erase the fight for gender equality.

        PS: the meaning of humanism is different from what you describe. It’s this: “an outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters”

      • ohhh… am no expert at these things… just thinking loudly…

      • Well, I actually appreciate hearing thoughts that differ from my own. So thanks for chiming in.

      • Are other “peoplegroup-ism” words besides feminism which are thought to be good things? I can’t think of any at the moment.

      • Not that I can think of either. Still, the words are meant to clue people into what the focus is. So feminism fights against sexism.

  16. “Media reflects and reinforces culture

    Media reflects, reinforces, and helps to create the larger culture.”.

    Yes, we can agree.

    But why has this come to past? Is is because of a lack of values in larger society? Demise of religion? Narcissism? This “it’s OK if no one is being hurt” mentality.”

    I have always felt that the ascent of the Baby Boomers to a dominate role in our society has been a key contributor to America’s cultural demise. We ushered in all the “isms” such as multiculturalism, feminism, etc.

    We are a rudderless society.

    • As I recall you are a Christian and I very much agree with the ethics of Jesus, like the golden rule: do unto others as you would have done unto you… Love your neighbor…

      That’s the rudder we should all be using.

      Following that rule would alleviate this problem and most others.

      No one wants to be sexually assaulted, including Harvey Weinstein. If we treated one another the way we want to be treated there would be no problem.

      And feminism and multiculturalism simply mean recognizing that we all have equal worth and dignity and should have equal rights and opportunities. (Recognizing that everyone has equal worth and dignity was a big focus of Jesus, too.)

      The more that people recognize this the less we have problems like sexual assault. In cultures with high levels of gender equality like the American Indians of the East Coast prior to contact with Europeans, rape and wife battering were virtually nonexistent.

      • The rudder MUST be stronger than the Golden Rule.

        We really need the Ten Commandments! Seriously. If you are a degenerate, then do you really want to be treated like a degenerate? Even criminals do like being treated like criminals.

        Feminism and Multiculturalism in theory are as you say. However, in practice they have become the exact opposite. Modern feminism is misandrist. It places the feelings and priorities of women ahead of those of men. Dare I say this is NOT equality.

        Women mouth off all kinds of things and expect no push back (HRC and Kathy Griffin). When there is push back, we are labeled misogynist. You have hundreds of women who are having sex with underage boys. The legal system gives them a slap on the wrist. If a man is caught engaging in the same behavior, it is “rape culture” and he will go to prison.

        The same inequality observed in the legal system by Black men when compared to White men exist with women. Women get unequal and preferential treatment. That is wrong. Feminist say nothing.

        The worst thing is that feminist do NOT even write or comment at all on the injustices and wrongs that women do to men. NEVER! But, you want equality. Supposedly. You see cases where married women have gotten pregnant by other men while married. These women have the legal right to force their husbands to support the child. Feminist do NOT even want the laws changed. They fight against this kind of justice for men.

        What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. But, what’s bad for the goose is also bad for the gander. If it’s bad for women then it is also bad for men. So, why don’t you and your feminist cohorts speak out against the injustice and wrongs women do to men?

      • Ok. Which of the 10 Commandments do you think doesn’t fit into the golden rule?

        I’m not sure what you mean by degenerates like been treated like degenerates and criminals like being treated like criminals. For instance, men who rape don’t see themselves as rapists. So they are degenerate rapists but they don’t see themselves that way. And regardless of how criminals see themselves it’s not the right question.

        Do criminals want to be stolen from?
        Do rapists want to be raped?

        I’m not aware of feminists being misandrist. Can you give me an example? That’s not true feminism — which seeks equality.

        Everything you wrote above suggests that you believe that men and women should be treated equally. That’s what feminists think too.

        I actually have written about how men are harmed by patriarchy. But I’m also curious as to whether you ever accuse men’s rights sites of not discussing problems women face?

      • “I actually have written about how men are harmed by patriarchy. But I’m also curious as to whether you ever accuse men’s rights sites of not discussing problems women face?”

        YES! Even on YouTube, you will see these men speaking about the inequality and sexism women face. It is condemned. As best as I can tell these MRA men want fairness and equality.

        Personally, I am not oblivious to the inequality and sexism women face. I have witnessed this sort of thing with my own eyes. It is wrong. BUT…..We also have the same sort of behavior taking place with many women against men. It angers me that feminist and other women are silent. Men and boys are being harmed and you flatly do NOT care.

        Women want to have their cake and eat it too. It is a like a man who goes to strip clubs and/or frequents prostitutes and believes he is not contributing to sexism. Women want the parts of so called “patriarchy” that benefits them -such as men providing and taking care of them or their privileged status in dating and sex – while at the same time maintaining their increasingly sexual degenerate behavior. Women are allowed to ask (and demand) what they want while men are shamed or told to shut up. Our sexuality is now being shamed and demeaned while any attempt to criticize women and their increasingly whorish behavior earns on the label of misogynist. The only men whose behavior women find OK is the 20% or so of the most attractive men or even the playboys or men whom women like to have sex. Is it a double standard? Of course. if Harvey Weinstein was George Clooney, most women would NOT be condemning him. Look at how women treat Bill Clinton.

      • Well every time a men’s rights activist complains about something on my blog you can find that the real problem is gender inequality. Can you think of any exception to that? I can’t.

        If we simply had gender equality the problem would go away on both sides.

        Regarding some of your specific points:

        “Women want the parts of so called “patriarchy” that benefits them -such as men providing and taking care of them or their privileged status in dating and sex”

        I’m not sure what the end of that sentence meant so I will address the first part. I’m not aware of any feminists who don’t want gender equality in dating and sex. But not all women are feminist and you will find that most women and men prefer the system we now have which is men asking women out and women accepting or rejecting. That is unconscious internalized patriarchy. When you grow up with it, it seems natural and normal and preferable. But that’s the general population’s perspective, not feminists.

        “Our sexuality is now being shamed and demeaned while any attempt to criticize women and their increasingly whorish behavior earns on the label of misogynist.”

        First, I’m not promoting that anyone should engage in “whorish” behavior. I’m against a double standard that celebrates men having a lot of partners and shames women for the same behavior. I believe that sexuality should not be shamed but that people shouldn’t be pressured into either having sex with many people or into monogamy. But whichever choice seems more authentic people should behave responsibly: caring about their partners rather than treating them like objects who have no thoughts or feelings. And people who have sex should have safe sex.

        “if Harvey Weinstein was George Clooney, most women would NOT be condemning him.”

        If Harvey Weinstein were George Clooney the sex would probably be consensual. When women’s sexuality is shamed it is suppressed and women grow out of touch with the desire so that they end up needing a great deal of interest to want to have sex. George Clooney is enough to make most women feel interested. Harvey Weinstein is not. If you don’t like the situation, stop shaming women’s sexuality.

        “Look at how women treat Bill Clinton.” I can only guess at what this means. First, Bill Clinton is more like George Clooney than Harvey Weinstein. He’s powerful and attractive, which in our culture makes him sexually desirable (at least when he was younger) to all women, whether they’re feminist or not.

        But I think you mean that feminists didn’t try to get him impeached because of Monica Lewinsky et al. That’s because we knew that Republicans don’t really care about Clinton’s behavior (witness their support of Donald Trump) — Republicans were actually trying to annul the election of a man who DID support women’s rights in policy even if he was a very imperfect man personally. Because he was good on women’s rights on policy he was very helpful to women broadly. More women were positively impacted under the Clinton administration than any Republican.

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