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April 16, 2012


Either the US is extremly different or I grew up together with other naive innocents. At school sex was not high on the list of talking themes and I would bet quite a sum that no one in our class (and very likely in the parallel class) had sex before finishing school. I would not risk the same bet for some boys and girls a few classes behind me though. And if rape ever was a topic outside class, it clearly was no joking matter. The only thing distantly related was a (mock) fight over a bag between a boy and a girl with the girl calling out "he is raping me". Since this happened with 2 dozen classmates standing around them it was clearly not serious but also not a joke about actual rape. But times have changed and from what I read in the (not yellow) papers jokes are the least of problems. Last year there was a story about a school within walking distance form here where (in the first version) a girl got raped by a classmate in the park next to the school during break with other classmates recording the event with cellphone cameras and distributing the videos freely afterwards. Over the following days the story changed a bit and it may have been that the sex was consensual. But the stuff about the recording and distributing was never disputed. I always feel slightly Victorian when I read that kids have sex at an age when I was not yet fully sure about the mechanics (although I never bought the stork story. I even doubt that anyone tried to sell it to me).

I don't believe that it is just in our culture that manliness has as its most essential requirement "not being womanly." It seems to me that this is about as universal a human behavior as there is. The big difference among cultures, I think, is exactly what behaviors fill this category.

There were reports a few years ago, that many religious communities were finding decreasing attendance by men, while women were participating in larger numbers. I'm pretty sure the two were directly connected.

Some years ago, I had a discussion with a woman who was upset that men were excluding women from something she wanted to join, and she made the comment that it didn't seem right that they should want to make it "like a locker room." I think, though, that this gets to to heart of the problem. The more women push into activities that were formerly almost exclusively male, the more men will move into things that no sensible woman would ever wish to do - and that means gross and crude behavior.

But this suggests that we could be running into a problem. The more gender equality we achieve, the cruder the men could become in an attempt to carve out an exclusively masculine domain. It is not at all clear to me that there is an easy way to resolve this.

I don't think that crude vulgarity is a marker of masculinity. Women can be crudely vulgar, too. I think that both genders can be crude in one-gender groupings. Example: an Alaskan native friend of mine attended a pre=wedding party in her village. The tradition in her village was for the women to hold a pin-the-penis-on-the-hunky-guy party and get rip roaring drunk together. This was a party of ALL the females in the village, grandmothers down to babes in arms held in the school gym.

I read a book about a Jewish woman who toured the Middle East making friends with women who wore veils because she wanted to understand the thinking and values and attitudes as best she could by meetinng women who chose to cover themselves that way. One of her discoveries was a robust, cheerful and thoroughly vulgar attitude about sex shared within groups of women.

I don't recall any rape jokes mentioned. I just think group vulgar sex talk is a way for either gender to sort of clebrate themselves.

The whole thing is, I thing, driven by serious insecurity. Note, for example, the recurring beer (I think) commercial, with the line "One more act like that and we'll revoke your Man Card" followed by the voice over enjoining watchers to "Man up," and buy whatever product they are pushing.

Figure that, if this kind of advertising is out there, there is reason to believe the approach is working. And what is the concept behind it? That, at least for the target audience, being a "real man" is something so fragile that any little thing could cause you to lose it. Which is pretty pathetic, if you think about it for an instant. (Which, obviously, the sponsor thinks you won't.)

But it does suggest an approach to addressing the problem. "If you are a real man, you don't give a damn about what some idiot claims 'real men' do. Real men do what is right, not what is easy."

We may not be enthusiastic about meeting the problem on its own ground. But I think that's where the battle needs to be fought.

Woah. I don't recall that sort of overt (Ima gonna rape you!) stuff in school. There was plenty of bad stuff, but "jokes" about raping girls, no. That's some nexta-level awful right there. This is becoming a thing?

I will have to ask my son about rape jokes; it sounds appalling but not entirely surprising. Kids will take terms and warp their meanings often without it being more than an attempt at edginess.
Stalking is another word being abused. My son says talking to a girl at lunch, asking for help with a project, asking for a phone number, can get you labelled as a stalker. Mostly he says it jokingly but he also seems unclear and confused as to the boundaries. Which, of course, is the worry.


I agree with Laura. Given the accompanying presence of the N word, I detect a regressive subset of the hip hop culture at play coupled with bad parenting. Nothing more.

FWIW, men don't turn into pigs because women work in the next office. And, we are talking about middle school boys, not adults.

Now, do I and most men I know enjoy time alone, without women. Yes. Our humor is different, our take on things different and, generally, we talk about different things. But, this has to be in context. I spend 2-3 hours everyday talking to my wife. If we get together with others, it is a mixed crowd and remains so throughout the gathering. Every couple of weeks, someone will cookout. There men and women may or may not break up at various points in the evening, usually before dinner. I don't think that's a big deal.

The boys in my neigborhood often play war games, during which they capture opponents and place them under "armed" guard in a location design for such, from which the captured players' teammates are supposed to attempt to free them.

One evening a year or two ago, while having dinner, I saw three boys, at the time around 11 years old, in the designated detention area behind a neighbor's shed and somewhat enclosed by trees. They must have thought no one could see them, but I happened to have a direct line of sight from a few hundred feet away through my kitchen window.

One boy was the prisoner and the other two his armed captors. The guards were pointing their toy guns at the prisoner and looked like they were yelling at him. They then started simulating beating him up. Then the prisoner was on all fours, and it took me a bit to realize that one of the boys was pretending to sodomize him. The other guard then took a turn. All three of them were laughing, and they were simulating the acts in a goofy, exaggerated, slap-stick sort of way.

It didn't last for more than half a minute or so, but the idea of kids that age doing that even jokingly disturbed me. I went to the house of one of the kids and told his father about it. He looked sick upon hearing it, and was more than a little concerned about the possiblility of his son's interactions with my son, who was three years younger.

It's out there.

My son, 7 years old, goes on line to play video games, though the Bluetooth (war games, both past and future). I had to turn the volume to mute, because of the casual use of racial epitaphs and casual descriptions of rape.

It was a shocker.


Hip-Hop, by the way, has all kinds of themes and subjects. "Black Power", self-sufficiency, a critique of white supremacy and US history...the number 3!, but it seems that certain young white men can only grasp the "n-word" and "rape." The problem is not hip-hop...it is no surprise to me that particular white children seem to primarily embrace the "n-word' and rape rap.


Have you tried restricting his access to those fora? Have you talked to him about Why We Don't Hang Out With People Like That?

I'm inclined to suspect that online gaming is the biggest driving force behind such very "rapey" language.


I've heard numerous reports of such language being commonplace in young men up through their mid-20s at least, I don't think it's just middle-schoolers.

I seem to recall hearing about this kind of language (both sexual and racial) being pervasive in many online gaming fora several years ago. I suspect gaming is more important than music in spreading this kind of speech.

It *is* a big deal, IMHO, because of the message it sends both to women and to the present and future rapists.

Doc and Dude: fair point about the gaming, which I am not very familiar with, but which is unsurprisingly as coarse and vulgar and misogynist as, I tried to be careful to point out: a regressive subset of the hip hop culture.

Also, fair to ask why a 7 year old is playing those kinds of games.

Doc, I think the 'big deal' I was referring to was that sometimes men and women at social gathering self-segregate.

Whether online gaming is a greater influence than some forms of hip hop in permitting misogyny probably depends on consumer preference: gamers are probably influenced by their choices, gangsta hip hoppers have their sources of influence.

I agree that the message is a bad one. But, what is the fix? I note bad parenting as a problem, if not 'the' problem.

Short of censorship, what other solutions are there?

a regressive subset of the hip hop culture

Fair enough.

I may be a commie pinko lefty, but playing war is still thrilling for kids. I had whole armies which slaughtered innocence, pillaged unprotected villages, and so forth as a child and young adult (especially with my Lego minifigs). Teaching young children the difference between play and reality is essential for growing-up.

My son was caught using the "b!tch" word at school and was roundly punished...no video games and comics for a week. The deal I have struck with him is, I will allow him entertainment with adult content, if he can show wisdom, with the words he uses and the actions he embodies.

I, myself was beaten within an inch of my life, at the age of 7, for calling my father the n-word. It is one thing to have strangers use the n-word, but to have your own son use it against you, was too much for Pop. As frequently as the n-word is used among some within the Black community, there are many more who strictly forbid it within their household (there are quite a few words never allowed at home or among the community). Comedians, rappers, movie stars, all use words we would never allow our children to speak. Learning the difference between entertainment (and the context of said entertainment) and reality, is once again, essential for entering adulthood.

I can count on one hand how many times I used that word in my life. And I still feel that thin belt slicing into my rear. I wouldn't beat my kid that way, but my dad's lesson hit home.

I think "bad parenting" is a major part of the problem. But before we can figure out how to address that, we need to reach some concensus on just what constitutes "good parenting."

Just to take one facet: is corporal punishment an effective way to drive a message home (SODude's experience, for example)? Or is it simply child abuse in all circumstances and at any level? I've heard both positions defended by well intentioned parents. (Not to mention non-parents who think they know everything about raising children, based on first principles or something.)

Personally, I incline to the belief that a smack on the backside, bare handed and just a couple of times, can drive a point home without coming anywhere near child abuse. But there is definitely a line between that and actual abuse. (Physical abuse. Psychological abuse can be nearly as bad, but is much harder to set boundaries for.)

And that's just one of numerous areas where opinions on what is "good parenting" vs. "bad parenting" are various, albeit strongly held. Perhaps a start would be to try to look first at outcomes, rather than techniques. Once we get some agreement on what kind of people we want to produce (responsible, self sufficient, etc., etc.) we might have a better chance at discussing how to get there.

"Once we get some agreement on what kind of people we want to produce ..."

Do you really think that parents "produce" children, in that they produce the end product, i.e. the "adult"?

I don't think so. I think that parents influence their own children, of course. They provide their children with 1) DNA, 2) humane upbringing, 3) enrichment (meaning moral and intellectual resources, as well as human contact with people who provide meaningful experience).

What happens at the end of all that is still somewhat a mystery. I know some exceptional people, and some less exceptional people. Their children don't always correlate.

When I found that my 13 year old son was using the internet handle "Pimp daddy", a told him it was offensive; I said "Why would you want to be a pimp? A pimp is a man that beats up women and takes their money." He tried to tell me that it didn't mean that "any more", and I told him that it was too powerful a word for him and his friends to be able to change it.

It's really hard to explain to young boys why offensive language is offensive, because they always think *they* aren't using it offensively, as if there were any other way to use it. And the habit tends to hang on as they get older.

"they always think *they* aren't using it offensively, as if there were any other way to use it."

But language actually does change, and meanings of words do change. So maybe their sensibilities will take hold. There are many offensive words (for example, the word "jazz") that has changed meanings. I don't suggest that a parent shouldn't teach a child the meaning of a word, and the offensiveness it imparts. But things do, actually, change.

Just a suggestion for this blog, and no offense intended: don't most people hate rape? I find it a bit obsessive that we talk about it so often. I mean, violent videos have been par for the course for years - isn't murder also a problem? Wouldn't it be just as offensive for a kid to point his finger (gun) at someone and say "Stick 'em up! You're dead!" (I'm not sure how many millions of times I heard that as a child. And, sure, it should be discouraged and explained, and if I were around a kid, I'd discourage it and explain it.)

So, yeah, I don't disagree that it's disturbing that kids are "acting out" rape in play. Not sure what it means though, or whether we should go back to the days when they merely acted out murder.

On the other hand, there are current topics that are making an impact on conversations among feminists. The Ann Romney v. Hilary Rosen controversy is interesting in that Eric Martin was talking about similar things a few months ago.

It used to be that ObWi would have discussed these kinds of things in the context of what everyone else in the country has been reading about in the past two days. Shouldn't we be talking about it too? Or did we already exhaust the topic with a bunch of the men here chiming in to "support the woman's choice" as if every woman has been "given" that "choice."

Rape is horrible, so horrible that it is a serious crime. Report it if it happens to you.

I meant to say that women can be vulgar about sex. I did ot mean that women to the equivalent of rape jokes, however.

Rape is about violence and dominition, not sex. That dry humping thing kids were doing while playing guards and prisoner is also about dominition, not sex. Prehaps rape jokes are about dominence, too.

Dogs do it all the time: use the simulation of the sex act as a means of asserting a dominent position in the pack hierarchy. I really think that rape needs to be seen that way, as a very primitive impulse from way back in the genetic history of homo sapiens when people had not yet developed alterative cultural norms to channel or mitigate the instinct some people have to exert power over others .

A lot of human behavior becomes understandable if people are conceptualized as territorial pack hunters.

The raw material of humanity is produced; the final product is shaped by many influences... including simulated rape games apparently.

The reason to discuss rape is that not everyone a)agrees what it even is and b)agrees on the effect of, or even the existence of, 'rape culture'. The unclear boundaries and definitions are what concern me, as someone trying to influence the person who will be my-son-as-an-adult. If boys think talking to girls is tantamount to stalking them, well, that's not good, is it? If girls are using that designation to discourage boys they don't like, that's not good either.

And just my opinion, but please don't start in on the Mommy Wars even if they are once again in the news. That topic is just as radioactive and has been discussed a kazillion times to little effect.

I for one want Dr. Science to do a book review of Fifty Shades of Grey. (I'm only half kidding.)


"The reason to discuss rape is that not everyone a)agrees what it even is and b)agrees on the effect of, or even the existence of, 'rape culture'."

Well, we certainly discuss it a lot here. Most people here agree on rape is. Whether they believe there's a "rape culture" or not, I don't know, because we don't really talk about what that means or whether there is one.

It's been awhile since I've been around elementary school or young middle school children, but I certainly have been around them a lot during my life. Many of them (mostly boys) love to say shocking, preferably disgusting, things, especially around their peers. As an adult, I certainly wouldn't ignore it if I heard it, but whether I would think it was a mark of civilization collapsing I don't know.

Little boys didn't talk much about rape when I was a kid because no one talked about it (even though it happened). Now, we talk about it constantly (especially here). It's on the news a lot. It's explicitly depicted in various media. When little boys (and girls) hear a lot about something disturbing, they sometimes incorporate it into their play. I totally agree that no adult should let it go unremarked. But maybe by constantly obsessing about the possibility that violence is just around the corner, people aren't doing anybody any favors, especially their kids.

Or maybe Tipper Gore was right.

I made the comment below on LJ's Saturday post. It probably belongs here. Or maybe nowhere.

Many young boys into early manhood wrestle, fight (sometimes), play sports and games that involve physical contact. Some of us hunted and fished. Going exploring, catching frogs or snakes or just generally doing something adventurous is part of being a boy. Some girls were on board with this when I was young, but most were disinterested.

If there is a norm for this kind of behavior, it stops/stopped at cruelty to animals, roughness with either smaller kids or girls and destruction of someone else's property.

That said, I remember teasing girls. It seemed harmless at the time, but probably wasn't. It wasn't something I did a lot, but it happened. Of course, by junior high school, the tables turned and I could and often was crushed by a look or a word from a seemingly more confident, more established young girl.

I knew a kid or two who was cruel to animals just for the hell of being cruel. Some people think hunting is cruel. I don't and never have, assuming you plan to eat what you kill, you obey the rules etc. I can see a kid who tortures animals morphing into an adult who objectifies others and uses them regardless of how they feel or whether they consent. Compelled sexual relations would be a subset of what someone like this would be capable of inflicting.

This relates to misogyny and racism indirectly. It takes a special class of person to be so desensitized to others that joking about rape or degrading someone because of their skin color is acceptable.

The more Doc S posts about rape, the more I revisit some of the stories I've heard about men I've known who were sexual predators, but not in a traditionally criminal way. From what I know of these men, their behavior isn't a violent crime, probably not even a crime at all. But it's still awful, and probably actionable on the civil side, as if that was any kind of remedy or redress. It isn't and couldn't be, thinking as I am of what one man in particular does/did to coerce sex. There is no way to make that right or to visit on him what he deserves.

Variations of this comment have been sent up, but apparently haven't taken.

The question about what is actually understood by the boys using these words and playing these games is a good one. Given that they probably have no real life experience dealing with someone who has had even the mildest version (stalking, feeling fear, etc), much less someone who has actually experienced rape, I suspect that they grab on to the words and games because they feel edgy (or whatever the hell word they use these days). They've not been confronted, even in the vaguest sense, of the kind of pain it causes, and since the adults are not going to discuss it in front of them, they are going pick up on the forbidden vibe without understanding why adults don't discuss it.

I'm also reminded of the scene in Accelerando, where kids are torturing each other to death because

Nobody really dies in these games, not permanently, but children can be very rough indeed, and the adults of New Japan have found that it's best to let them have at each other and rely on City to redact the damage later. Allowing them this outlet makes it easier to stop them doing really dangerous things that threaten the structural integrity of the biosphere.

with the idea being that kids will, not really understanding the real life significance of their actions, be kids. This is not to say that it shouldn't be dealt with, but it is also reflective of the problems we have in trying to define the boundaries.

I also think that this is like some sort of play-doh stuffed in a bag that is under great pressure. You make attempts to stop it from coming out in one place and it oozes out in another. Here in Japan, with probably more pernicious problems concerning the treatment of women, polite discussion puts a big damper on discussing any of these sorts of things, but you'll see manga and magazines portraying a lot of violent behavior towards women on display in your local 7-11. Not wanting to go into extensive detail, I note that a constant theme seems to be women dressed up as nurses, flight attendants, etc, which seems indicative of the fact that women who demonstrate some sort of financial/lifestyle independence are targets in the minds of the folks who look at that stuff.

Finally, about the Ann Romney v. Hilary Rosen thing, it looks to me a lot more like one of those things seized on by the media rather than something of deep significance, but that might be a function of the distance that I am from the US. Still, I agree with vjs that it is something that doesn't really lead to any clarity.

Finally, about the Ann Romney v. Hilary Rosen thing, it looks to me a lot more like one of those things seized on by the media rather than something of deep significance, but that might be a function of the distance that I am from the US. Still, I agree with vjs that it is something that doesn't really lead to any clarity.

Not to hijack the thread, unless it ends up being a worthy topic of discussion, but on the same day that KJ Dell'Antonia published the blog post noted by Doctor Science, she also posted something about a book (soon to be published in English, originally French) by Elisabeth Badinter: The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women.

I agree that the divisions among women known as the "Mommy Wars" isn't something to be encouraged. At the same time, I think there are some extremely important questions still to be answered about the way women are (or might be) co-opted by contemporary social norms to participate in the subjugation of women generally. These issues are swept under the rug as being part of the "Mommy Wars," which trivializes them. What responsibilities women have to further their own condition and that of their sisters should be a much easier question to address than how to deal with male violence, but somehow it really isn't.

sapient, there is no question the children arrive with personalities. As any parent is quite aware. And what those personalities are is not necessarily correlated with those of their parents.

But good parenting, as I envision it, consists of teaching them how to express, and how not to express, that personality. As well as something about responsibility and ethics and morals. Is that always effective? No. Do some people turn out fine without it? Yes. But doing it well is far, far more likely to result in a decent adult than not doing it. Which is all I was trying to say.

I mean, violent videos have been par for the course for years - isn't murder also a problem?

Sure. But do murders go largely unreported, and do murderers think lots of other people are murderers based on violent video games or jokes about killing people? (That said, I wouldn't necessarily dispute the notion that there's some degree of rape-obsession on this blog. Then again, I also don't have much of a problem with it if there is.)

But doing it well is far, far more likely to result in a decent adult than not doing it. Which is all I was trying to say.

I have to think you guys are talking past each other if this is a proposition that seems to need defending.

I have to think you guys are talking past each other

I sure hope so. I guess I have just run into too many people who think nature/nurture is a totally binary choice.

sapient, it's true that the meanings of words do change. And if the meaning of a word is beginning to change, it will probably be in the use of that word by kids of thirteen to eighteen. It is, however, also true that the kids meant to be offensive in their use of *that* word in particular.

Life is like that; it's always some of the one and some of the other. But I'm sure it has always been uncomfortable for the adults when the kids were changing the meaning of a word.

Who needs hip hop and violent video games when you get the real live women-are-nuthin-but-wang-dang-sweet-poontang from murderous subhuman redstate anti-American vermin at Republican murder-fests like the recent NRA dick gathering or any room in which traitorous violence-lovin filth like Rick Perry besh*t themselves.

Mitt Romney seeks their counsel, presumably to bring these attitudes directly into the White House and the governance of the Nation.

Newt Gingrich announces that the Creator bestowed gun rights on these bugs.

Weaponry sales at this moment are unprecedented at the urging of fascist vermin groups like the NRA.

Millions of weapons being stockpiled.

To kill who? The murderous Republican Party provides a list of suspects every day.

Armed redrum diarists meanwhile write of liberals and their adherents as a virus, a bacillus, infecting America. Without, natch, moderation on the part of the delicate punk filth who run that joint.

Thug rhetoric by armed thugs.

Who are they going to kill?

And why not f*cking butcher them first in self-defense.

It's time.

Where is the parenting?


Would George Zimmerman find Nugent's behavior suspicious?

Why wouldn't he kill Nugent too?

Because, I expect that listen to the same talk radio shows.

On the genocide channel.

it has always been uncomfortable for the adults when the kids were changing the meaning of a word.

You mean like when "rock and roll" became the name of a kind of music, rather than just meaning having sex?

When little boys (and girls) hear a lot about something disturbing, they sometimes incorporate it into their play. I totally agree that no adult should let it go unremarked.

IMO these are both well said. Play is a way that little kids sort stuff out, and adults should provide context and direction.

When you get to middle school age and up, again IMO, you're not really dealing with little kids anymore. The issues are more serious, and should be addressed more seriously. As always, IMO.

the Ann Romney v. Hilary Rosen thing

The context here was Ann Romney's qualifications to be Mitt's adviser on economic issues from a woman's perspective.

For "Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life", perhaps folks should not read "because she stayed at home with her kids", and instead read "because she's lived a life of extraordinary privilege and working was superfluous".

Ann Romney flies from MA to CA to take dressage lessons. To which I say, mazel tov. Nice work if you can get it. Apparently, riding has helped her enormously in her recovery from MS, which is splendid. No snark.

But Ann Romney is not likely to have a lot of insight into everyday domestic economics, as experienced by 99.9% of the people in this country.

That's the point.

I agree that the divisions among women known as the "Mommy Wars" isn't something to be encouraged.

I appreciate the sentiment, so this isn't calling you out. sapient, but it tells me a lot that this debate already has a cutesy name which immediately makes this out to be a discussion about how 5 year olds divide their toys. My rule of thumb is that if it gets a cutesy name or has the suffix -gate appended to it, it is BS and better off ignored. Not that folks will do that, but it helps organize my reading a bit.

lj, my point was that the "cutesy name" obscures a more real philosophical discussion on how women participate in their own demise, and fail to continue the march for equality that has been going on throughout my lifetime. I think it's fair to say that such a discussion is frequently missing from the general topic of rape as well, which seems to have been delivered to men for a solution, even though women in the United States are arguably more powerful than women have ever been before in human history.

Most cutesy names function to obscure real philosophical discussion, especially when employed by the media. Thus, using it as a springboard for discussion will generally not be satisfactory.

I'll try to get a post up about what you want to talk about (or at least what I think you want to talk about, one can never be sure)

It has been observed that the changing slang terms kids use for 'good' and 'bad' are very often words deliberately chosen in opposition to adults. That means a term their parents consider negative will be used to express appreciation and the other way around. In some cases it can even lead to the same term switching sides when it has become acceptable in public. Some scholars even think that this can be used to measure general acceptance. E.g. in Germany the term 'Porno' (p0rn) was used by kids as an adjective with highly positive connotation and completely devoid of sexual context ('this food tastes really p0rn'). Now, with p0rn being more or less acceptable to be talked about or even consumed, the term has become a negative ('that trip was totally p0rn. I got bored to death').
Originally sexual terms are often used that way because they tend to be high on the 'controversial' scale. Hilarity can ensue when these terms are used in connection with actual sex (esp. when they are gender specific*).

concerning Romney and the Mommy Wars
What makes it a prime example of hypocrisy (on both sides) is that both Democrats and Republicans in the not too distant past (Clinton presidency) were in total agreement that single moms that concentrated on their children instead of working at least 40 hours per week were not worthy of sympathy or welfare. That included Obama/Biden who claimed credit for their part in 'welfare reform' during their presidential campaign. While these two at least described it primarily in positive terms of opportunity and dignity (you decide whether it was naivete or dishonesty), Romney is on (tape) record with insults rather thinly veiled at best. The way he worded it it was clear that for him being a full-time mum does not count as work and neither does keeping a household running. He totally reminds me of an old German song that roughly translates as 'That negligible bit that is household work does itself...says my husband' (Das bißchen Haushalt macht sich von allein, sagt mein Mann). The only dignity lies in the paycheck obviously. The only way to make him consistent there is to distinguish between married women (where of course the husband earns the money and would be a loser if it was his wife instead) and those irresponsible single moms (and not even asking whether it was her fault** that there is no male bread earner around).

*in German the common terms for homosexual are gender-specific. Unlike 'gay' in English, 'schwul' is always male.
**single motherhood is at fault per definition of course and never something a decent person could choose.

I have to confess that I recall no rape play, or even talk of rape, from my childhood. However, as I was something of a social pariah that probably doesn't say much.

My son is at the stage of threatening to pee on people, not rape them, but as he gets older I'll keep an eye on this.

My experience is the same as Brett's: no discussion of or jokes about rape. Period. Never came up. I think the first time I heard a joke about rape was when I was in my thirties and it was a harmless incident. A male supervisor joked that we were going to "rape and pillage" on a job. He meant we were going to make a lot of money. He immediately apologized which I thought was rather sweet since I wasn't offended in the first place.

russell--Middle school is different. It's a volatile age, they define and re-define words and relationships and even actions all the time. Things are more serious by far, and I am constantly checking and re-checking what's being taken as gospel by the 12-14 year old set. (Girls are smarter, boys are stronger, omg didn't we already have this discussion?!)

Also, it feels like the Romney-Rosen smackdown was ginned up or at least exploited to break down the possiblly wide coalition of all kinds of women over the BC issue.

Although it was *obviously* about economics and Ann's fitness as adviser or interpreter, the automatic reaction to the zero-sum fight among women about the best way to raise children is raised hackles. Even when it is seen as manipulative, it raises hackles.

sapient--I've thought a lot about what I owe other women in the abstract, and come to the conclusion it is not a lot. Respect their choices, fight for their opportunities, push back against stereotypes, listen and learn.

Brett--my son's favorite threat at 3 was 'that's it! you can't come to my birthday party!' He is a very social animal.

"It's very likely that in some of these interactions with these guys, at some point or another, someone told a rape joke. You, decent guy that you are, understood that they didn't mean it, and it was just a joke. And so you laughed."

What is a rape joke? Seriously. I've never heard one that I can recall.

My three-year-old, Teddy Nugent, can repeatedly threaten gun violence against prominent Democratic public figures, including the President of the United States, with impunity, according to the U.S. Secret Service, fresh from their most recent dereliction of duty in which they paid to have their concealed silencers sucked by prostitutes when they should have been protecting the President's safety.

Does Barack Obama feel safer today knowing the Secret Service employs vermin Republican filth who want him dead?

I hope the President isn't planning a ride through Deeley Plaza any time soon. It was, of course, just coincidence that John F. Kennedy's security detail was hung over that fateful day after a night of being over served by undercover Texas John Birch Society bartenders.

David Keene and Wayne La Pierre of the NRA continue to sow fear and hatred among their armed mob by stating that President Obama, who has done nothing in his first term to incite this hatred, he will take away all gun rights if elected to a second term.

Keene, who by the way has a son serving prison time for firing off a handgun at another motorist in a road-rage incident in 2002, said to a New Yorker reporter that it is NRA policy to never comment on any public atrocity involving guns.

Mum's the word when daddy murderer begets would-be killer son.

I encourage President Obama, should c8cksucker Ted Nugent and the NRA allow him to live into a second term, to adopt my method with the vermin that infest the Republican Party when they shoot their mouths off.

Become what their fascist propaganda says you are; become an exaggeration of their precious fever dreams. Surpass their worst expectations.

The day after his Second Inaugural, President Obama should announce the confiscation of all weaponry not related to hunting from Americans, except for Nugent's squirrel rifle; we be takin that too. Obama should send heavily armed Federal agents to Nugent's, Keene's, La Pierre's homes and with any luck the three f*cks will resist and make some wrong moves and they can be gunned down in a hail of bullets in a back bedroom as they scramble around in their NRA boxer shorts trying to locate the bullet Andy gave them in case their lying propaganda turned out to be right, something they wished for all along with the tiny brains in their barely visible dicks.

Then tax their estates at 100%, which will cause Grover Norquist to start firing in all directions, and then he can be gunned down, fulfilling his and my fondest dreams.

Our Republic can claim self-defense and stand our ground, should anyone miss these filth.

"The day after his Second Inaugural, President Obama should announce the confiscation of all weaponry not related to hunting from Americans"

Seriously, you're longing for the President to provoke a civil war? I like to think you're just blowing off steam.

Someone somewhere on the internet noted that this was the only funny rape joke.

I've thought a lot about what I owe other women in the abstract, and come to the conclusion it is not a lot. Respect their choices, fight for their opportunities, push back against stereotypes, listen and learn.

That seems like a lot to me, especially the fighting and pushing back part. This is an interesting article. Not sure where the fight or the pushback is.

One of the best known rape jokes is found in another Western, "Waterhole #3," where James Coburn claims all he was guilty of was "assault with a friendly weapon." YMMV.

"You see, as time goes on I become more and more convinced that we can't fight rape and rape culture unless *men* do, and in particular unless men press back against it when women aren't around."

Please remember that incidents of forcible rape have declined about 30% since 1990, from 41.1/100,000 in 1990 to 28.7/100,000 in 2009.

Now, correlation isn't causation and all that, but given that the reasons why rape has declined so precipitously aren't exactly well-understood, maybe we should be a bit careful about engineering changes to today's "rape culture." I wouldn't be incredibly surprised if boys and men talking about rape--however inappropriately--turned out to reduce rape's incidence. (I also wouldn't be surprised if talk and incidence were totally uncorrelated--might be an interesting study.)

It doesn't sound like a terrific trend to have this level of coarseness creeping into the conversation of adolescent boys, but this is one of those areas where intuition could be horribly wrong. My first impulse would be to leave well enough alone until you knew a lot more about what was really going on.

Brett mused:

"Seriously, you're longing for the President to provoke a civil war? "

Well, I view myself as a facilitator of the longings of the 27%.

Plus, I'm interested in observing a couple of million angry fat guys gather their insignia collections and form themselves into these militias the Second Amendment yatters on about.

I'd prefer a civil war, perhaps of the John Brown variety, over more wonkish issues, say single-payer healthcare, but if carrying concealed weaponry around me, which I find threatening, is the hill they want to drag their Medicare-supplied oxygen bottles up and die on, I'm flexible.

In fact, in the inevitable hostage-taking that would accompany a second American Civil War, I could envision strapping, say, Newt Gingrich, whose violent rhetoric over the past 35 years aimed at liberalism has been an example for me to follow, to a chair in a dank basement somewhere and kind of chewing things over with him in a convivial conversation which would progress along these lines --- "So, Newt, you have stated that the Creator, in the beginning, gave us the right to bear arms, which is all very well as far as it goes, but this Creator you speak of didn't mention anywhere or have the foresight to provision us with single payer health insurance (we can parse out the public-private mix at a later date when you, Newt, are no longer available to open your surly mouth), is that how you see things? That is a fascinating perspective."

Then, of course, I'd wave some big honking piece of weaponry (recently cleaned, loaded, and handed directly to me by God; I know how the God-botherers love a little well-armed theater) around, perhaps catching Newt on the jaw with the butt end of the 200-round clip attached to the thing and then let him listen to the howls coming through the walls from adjacent interrogation rooms, wherein say, Dick Cheney might be having aspiration problems stemming from some lengthy water boarding practice, or the entire Republican House caucus being bored to death (with frequent masturbation breaks over the scenes in which Dagny Taggert denies sex to the undeserving, there being so many producers to screw) by Paul Ryan slowly droning the entire 5000-page early draft of "Atlas Shrugged" (especially the scene in which the parasites are overcome by fumes on a train stalled in a tunnel, which, I don't know, always sounded so meinkampffy to me and not very Catholic to boot) to them, accompanied by the ear-splitting complete songbook of my three-year old machine-gunner Ted Nugent), or maybe Allen West screaming incoherently about commies serving in the House as he is dipped in seasoned egg batter, rolled in flour, and some breadcrumbs for crunch, and then hung upside by his ankles and lowered headfirst into a slowly rolling boil of hot oil.

At this point, a horrible stench would arise from the vicinity of Ralph Reed (his once beatific, blue-eyed smug visage showing the strain of his circumstance at the center of the violent revolution he has flirted with lo these many years) and Rick Perry, also strapped to chairs next to Newt, as their sphincters let go and they begin to get the gist of what their decades of uncivil rhetoric can lead to among a heavily armed population.

It could be fun, Brett.

We could settle the big questions once and for all.

Special dispensation is granted if Whoopi Goldberg says it isn't "rape-rape".

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