Letter to the editor
Many have heard about what happened at Brock on Move-In Day. A few male students stood beside the road with a huge sign saying “Honk if you’re droppin’ off your daughter”. Expectedly, many people were quite bothered by this scene. The men holding the sign were accused of promoting rape culture on campus. Many others, on the other hand, were simply indifferent to the incident. They did not see anything sexist and inappropriate about the sign. In fact, some thought it was funny. It was “just a joke” after all.
Since the negative reactions took the boy’s sign as promoting rape culture on campus, unfortunately they fell on deaf ears. Men who are not familiar with gender equality politics probably freaked out as soon as they heard the word “rape”, felt accused, got defensive and didn’t bother to listen to the rest. I can easily picture the reaction: “Whoa! Who said anything about rape?!”
Yes, the men who made that sign were probably not thinking about rape. I would not be surprised if it never even occurred to them that this joke of theirs could have been perceived this way. It is likely that this sign was intended to be a joke about how “horny” men are thought to be.
Even though I think it is extremely important that everyone gives a careful hearing to what is being said about rape culture on campuses, I want to focus on something else in this article. I argue that this sign is not only offensive to women. It is offensive to men too.
Let’s simply go over the sign. It basically implies, “We are straight men and we want to have sex with women”. As a straight man myself, I am not comfort- able that my sexuality is portrayed in such a shallow way. Yes, I do enjoy having sex with women, but is this the whole story? Definitely not!
It personally offends me when people see me as a shallow, sexual consumer who thinks about nothing else but fornication. I want to be seen for more than just an insatiable cookie monster. I know that sex is not fulfilling by itself. It is only fulfilling in certain conditions. As a man who was born and raised in this culture, it took me a long while to realize what was wrong and why this culture ultimately made sex so unfulfilling. Finally, I came up with an explanation: this culture does not only promote disrespect and feelings of worthlessness among women, but men as well.
The common narrative (that reflects perfectly on that sign) makes men believe that they should always want and seek sex. Thus, when we actually have sex, we can easily make ourselves believe that we have won something, that we are taking something from someone, that someone is giving us something. Yet, it is not so. Sex is mutual. It is reciprocal. It is a sharing, an exchange – a form of communication. We are not only getting pleasure; we are giving pleasure, too.
Let’s assume that you truly know that you want to have sex with someone, you want to share that profound, intimate moment with them because they are worth it. Is this enough for the sex to be fulfilling? Not at all. The most gratifying part of sex is not the sex itself, it is being desired. It feels amazing to feel that someone wants to have sex with you, thinks that you deserve the privilege of sharing in that person’s intimacy.
Would you want to have sex with someone who is totally in to it or someone who is having second thoughts? Would you like to have sex with someone who will always remember it as a happy memory or someone who will regret it for the rest of their life? Would it make you feel good to have sex with someone who wouldn’t have done it if they weren’t drunk? Wouldn’t it secretly hurt to be a “mistake” in someone’s life?
Sex is wonderful, but no one can truly enjoy it without mutual respect and enthusiastic consent. Let’s stop treating women like prey and refuse being treated like predators. Let’s give respect and get respect. Let’s give pleasure and get pleasure. Let’s make sure we don’t make anyone miserable just for the sake of getting laid, including ourselves. Let’s acknowl- edge our own feelings and the feelings of others. Let’s advocate for respectful, enthusiastic and consensual sex. Let’s put our stupid signs aside and let’s not ruin sex for everyone.
– Memin Boyacioglu