But, hey! It’s nearly 2017! Now we can all turn our backs on the shit show that has been this past year and look forward to a shiny new one, right?
Well… Yes and no.
Let’s get real for a second. What’s really made 2016 truly frightening is the staggering rise of the far-right all over the world. As my friend Annie said in one of her latest Facebook posts, “In 2016 almost 62-million people (decided) they’d rather see a bigoted, misogynistic, xenophobic, racist, orange sack of shit with hair presiding over the US rather than (have) a woman president.” In light of the desperate geo-political state of the world, it only makes sense that she’d be wanting “to find an anchor in the chaos in these last (…) days of 2016 but the change we need is not going to magically materialise at a second past midnight on New Year’s Eve. Anyone who thinks otherwise should consider taking a flying kick at that bubble they’re living in. The world continues to be a profoundly unkind place to those who are most vulnerable.”
That’s why in 2017 we’re going to have to be more committed than ever to defending the values of freedom, respect, kindness and open-mindedness.
Oh – and consent.
In the era of a pussy-grabbing president of a world super-power, now’s the time to be teaching boys the right lessons about consent.
This episode of The Cracked Podcast by cohosts Jack O’Brien and Michael Swaim is a good place to start. It’s called “Movies That Teach Men Horrible Lessons About Sex”, and with the help of Carmen Angelica, Jason Pargin (aka David Wong) and Katy Stoll, they unpick why sexual consent is a trickier concept for most men to grasp than you’d expect. It turns out pop culture – mainly in the form of movies – has taught men to approach sexual encounters in exactly the wrong way.
A lot of women have spoken out on this topic, but what makes this podcast episode amazing are the candid and revealing comments from the men on the show, particularly those from Jason Pargin, author of “5 Ways Modern Men Are Trained to Hate Women”.
“The stuff you see in your formative years, it’s hard to deprogram that. (…) To this day a lot of my attitudes towards women are garbage, and I resent the way I was raised so much, because I can tell that affects the way I think and the way I talk to people.” – Jason Pargin
Most boys get their sex education from movies, pornography and their peers. In most cases, none of those three have healthy attitudes towards women. Take this famous kiss scene from The Empire Strikes Back. Han Solo is painted as bold, roguish and knowing what Princess Leia wants better than she does. It’s a classic example of a man persisting until he gets what he wants. We’ve all seen countless movies where this kind of scene plays out, making it seem as though this is the way any regular love affair should begin. But put your “consent googles” on and you notice that Princess Leia is being physically trapped and Han Solo completely ignores her firm rejections. She also escapes as soon as she gets a chance.
It all boils down to that thorny issue of women saying no and men hearing a secret yes.
Are women truly so coy? Or are men grossly misinterpreting the signals? This podcast puts forward some interesting explanations. First of all, men aren’t the only ones raised on these movies. As one of the female guests points out, “women consuming the same media as men growing up maybe haven’t quite figured out that they don’t like” the kind of behaviour men display in your average Harrison Ford movie. “We (…) expect to be treated like that.” It’s not easy to fight off codes of behaviour that you’ve been told are perfectly acceptable, especially when you’re young and still figuring things out – say, for example, if you’re an underaged beauty pageant contestant at one of Trump’s pageants. That’s perhaps one of the many reasons why youth is so appealing to so many men. With youth and lack of experience comes innocence and malleability. A mature woman can seem threatening or unappealing, because she’s more likely to be capable of saying no and meaning it.
Whether a “no” is tentative or confident, the podcast raises an important point about the pervasive problem of men generally not listening to women either way. And not just in the bedroom; The hosts quote striking statistics about the number of women that live with chronic pain because their doctors don’t take them seriously during consultations.
Here’s an idea: “If we treat women like we believe their answers, then (women) are empowered to be honest with what (they) mean.”
And despite everything you’ve ever been told by movies, it’s actually really sexy to ask someone, “Do you want to have sex?”
As we walk forward into 2017, remember that the kind of good ‘ol harmless “locker room talk” bandied about by the next president of the United States of America is in fact deeply harmful. Not only is it the kind of permissive talk that leads to actual pussy-grabbing, but it is extremely common.
The next time you hear someone say that Trump’s brand of “locker room talk” is rare, think again:
“Pure black hatred of women (…) resides an inch below the surface of lots and lots and lots of guys. (…) Women sometimes seem surprised at how quickly (the comment sections on articles and videos get) dark. (…) That language comes to the lips of many men very easily and very quickly. (…) You can see it anywhere where the comments aren’t moderated (…) I think every single woman I have ever met badly, badly underestimates the animosity that comes from those teenaged years.
(…) I can’t express how quickly that frustration, that angst, that constant pressure turns into hatred, because you do feel like, as a teenager, you’ve been blind-sided by this changing of the rules to where now your entire self-worth as a human being is based on the quality of woman you can get – get as a possession, as something to show off. (…) Your entire status is based on the type of woman you can get, and then women cruelly lock this away from you… That’s how you perceive it. I’m forty-one years old. I’ve been married about half my life. To this day I get more angry at a woman than I would at an equivalent man in the same situation. To this day I get more annoyed when a woman disagrees with me. To this day, when a woman talks about how hard women have it, I have this reflex action to say, ‘Ok, you’re an attractive female. You’re royalty. You will always have a job. You will always have a husband. You don’t have to work to have a relationship. You just walk out in the street and you’ll have thirty guys asking you out.’
All these things that were implanted in me aged fourteen or fifteen – it’s hard to get rid of that stuff. And every story I hear about guys using language in private, guys beating their girlfriends, the rate of sexual assault – nothing surprises me. I’m surprised when people are surprised by it. And I’m annoyed when people act like it’s rare. (…) He learned to talk like that everywhere.” – Jason Pargin