I am irked by any campaign or thoughtless Facebook group that informs me what qualifies a real woman. They are full of good intentions, real women eat cake, real women have curves. Yes, some real women do eat and some have curves. All women can prefer the cheese plate and some are just naturally lean, what are you going to do about it? Oh, expel them from the womanhood.
But it’s not just women who suffer from not being a ‘real woman’ if she can’t fill an A cup or face pudding after her tea. Survivors UK have created a campaign to draw attention to male rape and encourage those who have suffered to speak to someone.
I know the campaign has been timed to coincide with Six Nations but what? They couldn’t get a famous rugby player to front the campaign? That’s sad.
I realise the thinking behind ‘Real Men’ was to dispel any notion that victims are to blame because they weren’t masculine enough. In fact this problematic wording echoes the argument Slut Walks are trying to convey. Rape victims weren’t raped because of their clothing, femininity or masculinity.
However the end result is that not only does it bow to the idea that there is a state to be achieved and that is of ‘Real Man’, it also smacks of the idea that weak men get raped and we all know that.
The idea that emasculation is the thing men should most fear is constantly reinforced. The rise of the ‘metrosexual’ has been balanced by peculiarly named beauty, sorry grooming products. Don’t worry, that’s not moisturiser – it’s hydro gel. You can also put something called Turbo Booster on your face if you wish. But you aren’t cleansing, you’re energising.
Male rape is not something discussed as openly as female rape. Even then female rape tends to only be addressed in the realms of possibility; hence the fact (so celebrated by Unilads) women often don’t report rape. So it is difficult to decide how to draw attention to the subject of male rape when the last time I recall it being in the public consciousness outside a prison show was Late Night Hollyoaks.
Whoever you are and however you identify rape is a terrible thing and people should feel able and safe to report it. I wonder what a gender neutral anti-rape campaign would look like. I wonder if we should be advertising to the victims or campaigning against the rapists.