Rape isn't funny
January 22, 2013 1:44 PM   Subscribe

Someone makes rape jokes at your workplace. If you could make them read and write an essay about an illuminating book on rape and sexual violence, what would that book be?

I know how to handle making a complaint in the military, but I prefer for my corrective action to be...unique. That is, before I feel the need to escalate continued behavior to a straight up report. Just know that, before you suggest the HR-style route, I have the ability to actually do this. My command will think this action to be deviously clever.

I know I'm unlikely to change the mind of this 20 year old, smug reddit-using man, but I want book recommendations so that I can -try-.

posted by DisreputableDog to Human Relations (22 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This is a bit left field, but I would make them watch the Red Dwarf episode "Parallel Universe". Ignore the space ship and the hologram and the anthropomorphic cat - this episode is one of the most sophisticated cultural critiques on gender and privilege I have ever seen. It addresses harassment, sexual consent, pregnancy risk and a host of other gender issues, all while being totally hilarious and not a bit preachy.
posted by embrangled at 1:52 PM on January 22, 2013 [15 favorites]

Not a book, but since he is reddit-reading, have him subscribe to the /TwoXChromosomes subreddit. If you look around in there, you'll find lots of suggestions about what to do to combat rape culture.
posted by CathyG at 1:54 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

A prison diary or memoir from a prisoner who was raped. There is a whole documentary about rape culture in Alabaman jails. It's horrible.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:58 PM on January 22, 2013

Best answer: Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape
posted by scratch at 2:07 PM on January 22, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Alice Sebold's Lucky. It is her best book, and true as well.

Empathy is the best path I know to change.
posted by bearwife at 2:25 PM on January 22, 2013 [6 favorites]

I hope you don't mind a sort of oblique answer, but if he's into Reddit and such I'd maybe show him one of the long MeFi threads on this topic where a lot of folks shared their personal experiences. A book can be brushed off as singular or didactic, but it's hard to ignore a quorum.
posted by threeants at 2:38 PM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

The thing about suggesting to men who mock the experiences of women who have been raped by men that they read about the experiences of men who have been raped by other men (as in most but not all rapes of male prisoners--women corrections officers do rape and assault male prisoners, of course) is that often these men distance themselves from those accounts with homophobic responses.

And some men distance themselves from accounts of the experiences of men who have been raped by women with misogynist responses.

Fundamental failures of empathy are rarely addressed with "this could happen to you" scenarios, because many people take refuge in other prejudices as a distancing mechanism.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:42 PM on January 22, 2013 [8 favorites]

Not a book, but Bill Zeller's suicide note discussing his childhood rape and his inability to cope with the results is some hard reading.
posted by Benjy at 2:47 PM on January 22, 2013 [4 favorites]

Oooo you get to make them write an essay.

I don't have a specific book to recommend, but as historical subjects -- what about instances where rape is a war crime? I'm thinking Bosnia (which is covered in part by The Vagina Monologues).
posted by angrycat at 2:59 PM on January 22, 2013

I would counsel against r/TwoXChromosomes. A lot of men's-rights advocates scum up the comments sections, and they get upvoted.

Seconding threeant's suggestion.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:02 PM on January 22, 2013 [8 favorites]

Best answer: I wonder if it would be an interesting exercise to have the young man read the following:

1. A first-person account of a military man who was held captive and tortured by enemy forces.

2. A first-person account by a woman who was raped.

And then, as a writing assignment, ask him to come up with an essay comparing-and-contrasting those two accounts.

He might be able to sprout some empathy by considering how joking around about a comrade getting tortured would be not-OK.
posted by nacho fries at 3:42 PM on January 22, 2013 [13 favorites]

Bearwife beat me to it, 2nding Lucky by Alice Sebold.
posted by Sal and Richard at 4:18 PM on January 22, 2013

Any chance you can get him to watch The Invisible War? Nominated for an Oscar.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:10 PM on January 22, 2013

Best answer: My Duty to Speak is a series of first hand accounts of rape in the US military and might be exactly what you're looking for, even though it's not a book.

I love your idea and I hope you're able to do it, but I also suggest that you pursue an Article 15 too. A light one with a little extra duty or restriction. It's important to have this recorded and prosecuted that way.

At his age and probable rank it won't be a career buster, and it's better to learn now, when people are expected to make mistakes, than in 10 or 15 years when there will be no leniency.

Good luck and good job!
posted by snsranch at 5:33 PM on January 22, 2013 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Yes PLEASE do not send him to TwoXChromosomes, that's a MRA hangout with a thin veneer of feminism on top. So is r/feminism, for that matter.

Jessica Valenti writes really well and really accessibly, if you end up going the Feminism 101 route. I've only read The Purity Myth, but she did cowrite Yes Means Yes.
posted by NoraReed at 5:40 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

when there will be no leniency.

Sorry, how about...before he can really fuck up and hurt someone.
posted by snsranch at 5:45 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

You used the term my command. Do you mean that the person is subordinate to you? If he is, then this needs to go to HR.

Liability for what you know or should have known about a hostile work environment isn't funny either.
posted by 26.2 at 5:47 PM on January 22, 2013

This thread, which has become known as Schroedinger's Rapist on Metafilter, is the definitive thread for women to speak about their experiences with men and how the fear, or reality, of being harassed, abused and raped makes them wary of being approached by strange men.

Have him read that thread. It's amazing, inspiring, contradictory and controversial all in one. It may just help open his eyes.
posted by misha at 8:03 PM on January 22, 2013

Response by poster: I'll be busy with some of these suggestions! I marked some as the best, but I definitely want to read all of the books myself first, watch the Red Dwarf episode, and read some of those web page suggestions. Thank you.

To offer "bad" feedback along with the good: I know Sidhedevil's answer was favorited by a fair few, but it ignores what I stated in my question. I already said that I was aware this might not change his viewpoint, but that I wanted to try. Replying to my question and MuffinMan's suggestion with a longer version of "you're not necessarily going to change his mind" was unnecessary in that it didn't illuminate anything new for the question at hand. However, I appreciate you taking the time to attempt to offer wisdom on the subject

26.2 comment was also flagged. "My command" means those lower and higher in rank than myself, from whom I take orders. The military's version of "HR" is as follows:
1st Incident - Try to speak to the person who wronged you. If unsuccessful (if the wrong-doer gets snippy with you or some such), speak to the first person above you in your command.
2nd Incident - Speak up to a supervisor / Write up a counseling chit / Include action you may want taken (this is where said essay would fall)
3rd Incident - Counseling chit / 1st report / bring it up the chain, likely your Chief or Senior Chief / may go up to your immediate officer in charge of your work group (like the difference between your immediate family and your extended family)

Etc. When you start writing counseling chits, reports, and bringing it up the chain of command can depend on what wrong was done to you, how you felt about it, etc. Of course, they have a separate way of dealing with rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment, those of which can often skip straight from your first warning to something the equivalent to a Step 4 or more. However, I feel safe within my command, safe to take action if I wanted to escalate it, and safe to take a gentler action response to this fairly intelligent but naive man, who has done this once before and was spoken harshly to about it. Considering that this sort of thing can end your military career full stop, and that I'd like to give him a very human second chance, I plan to use these book and other suggestions to dole out a not-so-subtle correction and warning, as well as a counseling chit, another harsh talking to by likely everyone he works with, and so on.

If he tells such a joke again, I'll be ready with this information. Trust me, the other, smarter (because they at least don't tell such jokes in my presence, if at all), men will nearly shake him and tell him how lucky he is that I don't merely want to beat the shit out of him with veritable ban-hammer. I believe that my showing some restraint in this case is very likely, given his personality, to win his moderate respect. I don't particularly like him, but we certainly aren't enemies in any sense and he's certainly shown marked improvement in other, somewhat similar, areas of his behavior.

Anyway, I trusted MeFi's members would trust my judgement in this manner and that I wouldn't have to blather on about the nuances of the situation, which is why this wasn't laid out before.

Thanks again for your help, folks.
posted by DisreputableDog at 6:19 AM on January 23, 2013

DisreputableDog, my point wasn't at all that you weren't going to change his mind, but that you weren't going to change his mind with stories of men being raped by men, or men being raped by women. Sorry I was unclear.

I favorited the suggestion of My Duty to Speak because it's important for him to know that women who are raped are just like the women he knows and works with every day; they're not the hypothetical "stupid" women who "should have known better" of MRA chat.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:14 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

You can watch that Red Dwarf episode right here. I just did and it's brilliant. HTH!
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:42 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

Here is one approach - How to Make a Rape Joke, which illustrates how rape can be a topic in comedy. Rape isn't funny, but there can be humor in the satirization or deconstruction of rape culture.
posted by illenion at 1:03 PM on January 26, 2013

« Older 24x40 poster frame on the cheap and easy?   |   I've stitched it, now what do I _do_ with it? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.