This a man’s world: When James Brown and his partner Betty Jean Newsome wrote the lyrics and performed the song back in 1966, they certainly didn’t have in mind rape culture and internalized misogyny.
We Greeks have as a recent example the case of Danae, a young girl who, on a casual Friday night, was walking home followed by a man with his penis in public display.
Thanks to media reports and a video of the security camera in her home, the perpetrator was found almost immediately and many rushed to comment that he is such a good looking, hardworking and educated young man.
And here we find the first misconception of society that rapists are the less educated, the bad boys, the “street dudes”. You didn’t learn this from me, but rapists don’t come in a specific cut and size like t-shirts. He can be the guy with the five master degrees and the thesis on sustainable development, the one who loves dogs and the one who post cute selfies with his 3-year-old nephew. It would be much easier for all of us to associate rape with a particular cultural background or historical event, or a particular external appearance, but it’s unfortunately related to upbringing, role models, and a deep-rooted patriarchal culture.
Also, many, – please allow me to call them “joke lawyers”-, rushed to comment that Danae should have been raped by the perpetrator and then, with his DNA inside of her, report him to the police. And of course, if that happened, then the same people would claim that she is a strong, grown up woman that could have easily prevented the sexual assault from happening, in other words she was up for it.
Now, speaking not only as a woman but also as a lawyer, I notice the big hole of our legal system holding accountable only the rapist, the impostor, the murderer and not the potential rapist, the potential impostor, the potential murderer. We need Internet polls to conclude if the majority wants punishment despite the statute of limitations, instead of listening to the social reality itself.
And men don’t seem to be discouraged, but turned on by such toxic -at least- masculine behaviors. According to surveys, in the United Kingdom, 64% of women of all ages have been sexually harassed in public, while the rate rises to 85% between the ages of 18-24. Another international survey shows that 84% of women have been harassed as minors.
Please explain something to me because I fail to understand it despite considering myself smart. Most men say they are shy to approach us, so they reach to us through social media, but still are not ashamed to cat call us on a public, crowded street?
When the woman cuts him off, the response is: “Well, I want to give you a compliment! Don’t start bitching at me”, trying to make her gulity for standing her ground. If the woman decides to ignore him and continue her way, the response is: “Not even a thank you?” Thank you for what? For making me feel uncomfortable? This is not the interpretation of “thank you” in my vocabulary.
And because I don’t wish to go on forever, things are simple. If you are a man and you are reading this article, close your eyes and imagine for a few minutes that your sister or your future daughter is dating someone like you. Now open your eyes. Are you happy with what you saw? If not, then change. You still have time to improve the world in which your daughter will live.