Sunday, September 8, 2013


Excerpted from “Witch Hunt” by Katarzyna Babis

    Ostensibly this brief commentary has nothing at all to do with the regular series of posts appearing on this blog: there’s nothing funny about it, it’s a note of interest.
    For me it’s always been easiest to get personally outraged about the Big Topics that I care the deepest about, namely the evil of war, the plight of endangered species, and the stupidity of environmental degradation, each of which in turn touch upon a whole host of other equally complex, interrelated issues.
    But sometimes what’s perhaps more difficult - and important - are dealing with issues closer to home, ones that uncomfortably infringe upon my privileged position as a human, as an American, and as a white, heterosexual, middle-class male. Compounding this are other personal factors that invoke icky feelings of potential guilt, shame, fear, anger and responsibility.

    What brought this about was reading one of the occasional posts on another blog that - more increasingly as of late - showcases examples of sexual harassment and abuse. One night I stayed up for hours reading (trigger warning) this particular comment thread, and it profoundly affected me: the testimony from many a victims’ perspective was eye-opening and humbling. And while consequently flipping over rocks inside the mental cave, some long-held assumptions and stereotypes were challenged, along with confronting basic old-fashioned basic ignorance and denial.

   Another aspect about these posts that got me thinking was to see, of all things, a science blog deviate from its normal topics and address this rampant yet largely unspoken epidemic. Which makes perfect sense, as without exception, rape culture touches all demographics: everybody, everywhere, regardless of age, gender, religion, political stance, education, class or occupation. Even cartoonists and other artists, students and teachers too. And no, not everybody appreciates having such things waved in their faces, and yes, most folks tune it out, along with the usual 24/7 barrage of media that continually delights in perpetuating the status quo. But for the many who'd take offense at the unsolicited incursion of something like rape culture into a previously sacrosanct zone of discussion, that inconvenient discomfort pales in comparison to the pain inflicted upon someone who has been assaulted.

   Before even starting a conversation there are usually a couple preliminary steps, namely to A) begin thinking, and B) maybe also shut up and just listen for a change. Can’t think of a better place to start than at the very least by reading the range of these comments here. It’s casting the proverbial pebble in hopes of effecting long-term, widespread societal change, which as always, begins at home.


  1. Going through adolescence when I did there was plenty of unchallenged sexist predation portrayed as harmless normality. It begins insidiously through the notion of fixed gender roles based on heterosexual polarity and perceived gender-based capabilities. These capabilities have been expressed as superiorities and inferiorities and applied broadly.

    It's not only important to know what's right and wrong. It's important to understand why wrong is wrong and how wrong it is. And also how your own primitive male brain will present it to you as at least worthy of contemplation.

  2. Those are important - thank you.

  3. I write as one with plenty to regret. My primitive male brain got lots of suggestions.