On March 1st, I went to see Laci Green who was on campus to talk about rape culture. Laci Green is a YouTuber and activist from Oakland, California. She is the creator of multiple popular sex education shows. She has done a lot of work with Universities, military programs, and Planned Parenthood to bring better understanding of sex and sexuality to as many people as possible.
She came to Lycoming College to lecture about rape culture: what it is, what it looks like, and what we, as students and human beings can do to prevent rape culture. Her presentation began with a video of rape culture being shown through the media in which misinformed male politicians tried to explain how biology worked and newscasters lamented the lost futures of rapists.
Rape culture is prevalent in our society, and Green did a wonderful job explaining the different elements of rape culture. She included men in the list of victims, explaining that the same toxic masculinity that causes some men to rape causes men to be silent about their own sexual assaults. She also discussed how women are constantly objectified against their will, making them seem less than human, and how victim-blaming plays into rape culture and create a perpetual cycle of rapists not being punished for their crimes.
As a transgender man, I have had time on both sides of the gender divide. When I presented female, I was aware that my gender made me a target. I wasn’t safe going to the parking lot alone or even the bathroom. I knew I never reached the ideal beauty placed upon woman; granted -- I never cared to either. I was lucky; I grew up with parents who didn’t force me to like makeup or jewelry. Of course, I got those things as gifts many times, but nothing was ever said when I never used them.
I had friends who just accepted my choice of wearing hoodies all of the time and never wearing makeup. There were times where I was pressured into doing ‘girly’ things despite adamantly saying no. There’s a lot of pressure for women to be beautiful, then smart, then funny. It was never smart and funny. It was always more important to be pretty first.
Now, as a man, I’ve found something nearly as bad. Imposed and adapted masculinity can be toxic and damaging. As I’ve transitioned, I’ve gone through the phases of what makes a strong man, along with what makes me a man.
For a very long time, I refused to cry, even when I knew I needed to. Men don’t cry. I insisted on carrying the heavy boxes and my partner’s bags because men are strong and should do all of the heavy lifting. I felt pressured to give up the ‘girly’ things I did like. Men don’t sew, men don’t read gushy romance novels for fun. Men are engineers. They like cars, they work out, and, worst of all, they want to get laid.
In the sphere of maleness, there is this horrible sense of superiority. Men, whether they realize they do so or not, talk down at women. Everyday language is objectifying and superior. This isn’t true for every man: I’m not like that, my friends aren’t like that, but as a male, sometimes I get included in conversations with men I’ve never met before. This can be as simple as men feeling comfortable saying what they want behind the backs of women but in front of me.
Masculinity for most men means being superior in every way. If a woman can achieve more than they ever could in anything, that woman is instantly a threat to them and their position of power. That woman deserves to be hurt or ridiculed or even raped.
Masculinity is terrifying, but it isn’t natural. Society tells men, from the day they are born with the right genitals, that they will be a ‘lady killer,’ a sports star, or the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. They are taught that they are superior while women are taught how to sew, cook, and be good housewives, pushed away from scientific and technical fields because they are women.
All of these elements play into rape culture and the continued superiority of men and submission of women.
Green ended her presentation with three things we as students can do to make the world better and fight rape culture. We can intervene when we see rape culture or even possible rape. We can talk about rape culture constantly to make people aware of its existence. We can question the values of our society to make the world someplace safe for everyone.
To learn more about speakers and other activities on campus throughout the semesters, plan your visit today!