Sunday, March 24, 2013

Broken? Or Uneducated?

Bear with me, here, because this may be uncomfortable, but it's something that needs to be discussed.

Over here (website link) is a well-written blog entry about rape education. And it's not what you think.

“Sure, in a perfect world, you could aim rape prevention efforts at potential rapists. But that’s never going to work. Rapists are sociopaths, beyond the reach of persuasion or reason. You’re never going to convince them. So it’s totally reasonable to aim rape prevention efforts at potential rape victims, and teaching them how not to be raped.”

That sounds reasonable, because it fits with the reality that we believe about sex offenders. They're sociopaths. You can't reach them. They're beyond reason or persuasion. They're just going to do it again, and again, and again.

Of course, we know that the truth is far different, and so does Greta Christina, the blog's author.

"[...] this business of rapists being just a handful of sociopaths — as opposed to active members of society who you might know — is bullshit. I don’t want to hear it again… because it’s just flatly not true."

Thank you, Greta.

Go, read that blog entry, and understand what Greta is saying. Rape isn't about deep-seated psychological disturbances, although there are some truly disturbed rapists. It's not about uncontrollable urges, although there are some for whom the urge is overwhelmingly powerful. For the vast majority, rape is about cultural attitudes and a lack of education aimed at the potential offender that rape is wrong.

Read that again: it's lack of education. As a card-carrying male, I'm here to tell you, I never got the message that "silence does not imply 'yes'". On a conceptual level, I understand that, but on an emotional, instinctual level - I didn't. It's this lack of education that's the point. It's what we need to be teaching, on both sides.

Think on this, though: if rape prevention education aimed at potential offenders works (and it does), why then do we subject those who never received such education and commit such acts to lifelong public shaming, hatred, and discrimination in the form of "you can't live here" and "you'll never get a job", instead of education, rehabilitation, and re-integration into our society?

Do we, as a society, truly believe that these men (and women*) are irrevocably "broken"? Do we honestly think that they cannot learn from their mistakes, or that they cannot be taught? Or are our attitudes and treatment of these people rooted in a deeper, more primal need for revenge and the desire to create equity between crime and its punishment?

Food for thought.

*Yes, there's women on the sex offender registry. And children, too, sometimes as young as 10 years old. Surprised?

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