When I finally slogged to the end of this essay (on how “average” men are deeply injured by activists who enjoin them to stop raping people), a cold, mirthless laugh erupted from the Twisty obstreperal lobe. The essay was signed “A.J. Cooke, junior English major.” Now it made sense.
I was a junior English major myself once. Which is how I know that junior English majors are not, perhaps, a species from which one might reasonably expect the most sophisticated arguments. They have not yet grasped that theirs is not the defining human experience. They cannot imagine a worldview more enlightened than their own. And they use phrases like “semantically speaking” and “the crux revolves,” often with “syntax so horrifically flawed in so many ways.”
But the callowosity of the author will not deter me from using him as an example of the lengths to which the college-educated young blots of today will go to defend rape culture.
The gist of the situation that led A.J. Cooke to emote in his student newspaper is this: U of Maryland’s campus health service spearheads Men’s Anti-Violence Project. Flyers appear. They say “Man up. Get consent.” The idea, see, is to get rapists to cut it the fuck out, already.
On the subject of the slogan itself I will say this: its patriarchonormativity makes my lip curl. A member of an oppressed class is not at liberty to consent to anything. “Consent” in the context of bumpin’ uglies is nothing but a binding contract the terms and conditions of which exclusively describe male use of women as receptacles. As we have seen, the tactics that may be used to obtain this contract do not exclude coercion, drugs, or fraud, and, once obtained, it is non-revocable. “Getting consent” doesn’t prevent rape, it just lets rapists sleep at night, and lets’em off the hook if the victim has the temerity to press charges.
However, it will surprise no one when I reveal that the power differential inherent in patriarchy which precludes true “consent” is not what’s got A.J. Cooke’s eggs in a scramble. No, A.J. Cooke is sorely discomfited by the flyers’ unflattering innuendo. The “get consent” slogan, he says, rudely implies that all men are potential rapists, and that’s not fair. It is “staggeringly insensitive” to treat all men as “monsters.” As a junior English major, A.J. Cooke knows, even if the campus health service doesn’t, that only sociopaths rape women.
A.J. Cooke’s thesis is this: “to question whether a person is acting ethically is to insult their integrity.”
Apparently, insulting someone’s integrity is just about the worst thing ever. A.J. Cooke might be surprised to know that this is precisely what cops, journalists, judges, and defense lawyers do to rape victims all day long.
But a man’s character should be understood as unassailable, and to cast a suspicious eye upon it is an outrage. Thus, as the morally spotless A.J. Cooke saunters through the quad, assaulted by messages telling him to “man up,” he feels his own humanity called into question merely by dint of his being a dude. The health center has failed “to acknowledge men as thinking, feeling human beings.”
If you think the junior English major doth protest too much, you’re exactly right. It turns out that young A.J.’s crux revolves around a dude’s right to porn. If, he reasons, the man-hating U of M health service thinks it can reprogram the campus studs with an ad campaign, it must also believe the reverse: that media images can cause violent male behavior. And that’s just wack.
A.J. Cooke, like so many dudely patriarchy-deniers before him, asserts that pornography — the name Dude Nation gives to photographic evidence of rapes reproduced for the purpose of relieving male incontinence — is “free speech.”
If rape is free speech, it is also a right, and rights are things that entitled cowards are always willing to sacrifice other people for. This explains A.J. Cooke’s eagerness to make rape the responsibility of women, and his insistence on placing more importance on the preservation of his purported dudely “integrity” than on preventing violent crime.
So instead of trying to get men to change their rapin’ ways — an idea that, according to A.J., is “fundamentally flawed” — we should stick to what works: women’s self defense classes, admonitions to carry pepper spray and never walk alone at night, and other such tried-and-true rape deterrents. Oh, and women should carry roofie-testing kits on their person at all times, so they can perform chemical analyses on every drink they raise to their lips. Seriously.
Whatever it takes, so long as nobody’s impugning A.J. Cooke’s porn-lovin’, rape-enablin’ character.