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Part 3: changing the social "normal"

This series started with the statistic that "6% of college age men, slightly over 1 in 20, will admit to raping someone in anonymous surveys, as long as the word "rape" isn’t used in the description of the act."

One obvious conclusion is that many of these men don't view themselves as "rapists". They genuinely believe this is the way things are done. Or to quote a comment on my previous (filtered) post (which I hope the OP doesn't mind me using):
one time when I was quite young there was an incident with a slightly older guy, and I was convinced then (and still am) that he was only doing what he thought he was supposed to be doing with no malicious intent, and I was too naive to realise what was happening.

I'm unhappy to have known people who believe that that the way it is done is you "get a girl drunk to get laid", or "they all play hard to get" and "you have to show her that you mean it" ... but it's still all too common. And that's because our society is still growing up.

After all it's not all that long ago that slavery was still "the way it is done". Or that a wife was the "property" of her husband. (Marital rape became a crime in NZ in 1985. And we're pretty progressive about it. Wikipedia has a list). In some cultures and sub-cultures that's still very much the way it is.

So what we are doing now by

- effectively broadening the scope that the term rape (with all it's negative connotations), is applied to, and
- getting rid of the mostly false stranger-danger narrative

is setting a better "normal". One where the understanding "this is how it is done" does not include assuming, overriding or removing the ability to consent on the other person's part. And where this understanding is gained

- less by actions taken and corrected after the fact (because actions taken and -not- challenged reinforce the current understanding)
- more by the new understanding being woven into the very fabric of society

This change takes generations. We are still at the stage of challenging actions taken because of the old understanding. And hell, even with the benefit of self-knowledge trying not to make our own mistakes.

Mistakes will always be made at the individual level as part of the learning process and simply because of the intricacies of negotiating and communicating (and withdrawing if necessary) consent. But better baseline expectations can let these be caught earlier, responded to better, and thus less likely to result in learning negative behaviour.

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