As a part of Orientation Week, the junior class (as well as some of the sophomores) listened to two speakers talk about all things rape: rape culture, how certain aspects of societal masculinity and femininity feed into rape culture, consent, etc. The groups were split by gender, so the boys met with the male speaker and the girls met with the female speaker. In my small group, we started by talking about how society would define “the ideal manly man.” Ideas like “showing no emotion” and “having large muscles” were tossed around to start, but as more ideas were tossed around and the group began taking the activity a bit more seriously, one phrase became a common way to preface an idea: “This isn’t my idea of a ‘true man,’ but….” This phrase in and of itself shines a light on a glaring issue with “society’s” view of what a real man should be: not too many people really define a “real man” by those standards. While it is true that the conditioning of boys from a young age to not show emotion and to use brawn over brain has been a part of our society’s history for quite some time, I wouldn’t say that it happens as often as it used to. This change might have stemmed from recognition of the fact that encouraging such behavior feeds into rape culture. Conditioning boys to think and act this way often causes a skewed perception of what consent actually looks like. The double standard of allowing men who have sex with lots of women to epitomize masculinity while shaming women for having lots of sex with men and calling them whores or sluts plays a large role in why scumbags can go before a jury and say things like, “Even though she didn’t say it, I knew she wanted it,” or, “She seemed into it at the time,” and then not be held accountable for their actions. As the old adage goes, “boys will be boys.” All in all, I feel that the meetings started a necessary conversation about safe and healthy sex. We as teenagers are at a point in our lives where some of us are beginning to find ourselves in situations like these, and it’s imperative that we don’t walk into them blindly.
(Copyright 2016 Daiden Kent)