So tonight at dinner, a Navy guy shared a Facebook post by an 18-year-old girl who suggested that military men should "put down the guns and pick up the medical bags, heal instead of kill." Apparently, this is part of a series of posts by this girl. I thought she made her points well.
He wondered what she had against military men.
It was conjectured that she'd been dumped by one, and her continual anti-military posting was payback. In coded and loaded speech, another man upped the stakes with a comment about being raped by one. Which was topped with the absolutely hilarious suggestion that she'd been gang raped by a whole ship on leave.
And the women said nothing.
I wondered if I was the only one who understood what had just been said, or if all the women were so used to rape "jokes" that they started to believe they actually were jokes, albeit unfunny ones... but, you know, guy's jokes.
Or maybe they were like me... intimidated by history and the repeated societal refrain that the only good women are polite women. Women who don't say, "Hey, jokes about gang rape aren't funny," or "Making jokes about a woman getting gang raped just because she doesn't like what you do for a living seems a bit over the top," or "Wow, you must really question what you do with the military, considering that some comments from an 18-year girl wishing for peace would elicit such animosity that'd you suggest it is the equivalent to gang rape."
I thought a lot about my lack of response on the way home. I'm usually the first to speak up in such situations. In fact, I'd already called one guy on making both a racist and a sexist joke in the span of five minutes by joking that he must be in the military. He said he resented that comment. I said he resembled it.
I was angry.
I was angry at these guys. I was mad at military guys, military culture, rape culture, military rape culture, men in general... and me.
I was angry that I didn't speak up. Every time I allow rape culture to happen in my presence when I have the verbal control to stop it, I am culpable. Every woman at the table was culpable for not doing what they could to prevent even one more woman in these guys' future from getting harassed, infantilized, objectified, and used.
And the one guy who didn't laugh and just looked down, he's culpable too.