Friday, December 16, 2011

Rape Culture, Gun Culture

Let's discuss the original image.
Guns Don't Kill People. Dad's With Good Looking Daughters Do.
It's a play on the NRA slogan that guns don't kill people, people kill people.  In this particular example, it's very specific people threatening to kill people: the fathers of sexually available, "good looking" daughters. This quote makes some assumptions about the way the world works.
  1. It's right and  normal for a father to control a young woman's sexual agency, both on her behalf (as a threatening figure/excuse against being pressured into sex she doesn't want) and against her will (as a threatening figure who punishes her for dating/having sex).
  2. It's right and normal for an adult male to threaten to murder someone his child cares about.
  3. It's right and normal to consider a pubescent or post pubescent woman as under threat.
  4. It's right and normal to consider women's sexuality as a threatening thing.
  5. Young women run the constant risk of sexual assault/rape and need adult men to control their behavior/take charge of their romantic/sexual lives on their behalf.
  6. Fatherless women can't depend on anyone to protect them from sexual assault, as that's a father's job.
  7. Women who aren't conventionally attractive ("good looking") don't deserve to be protected from sexual assault.
  8. Women who aren't conventionally attractive ("good looking") can't be sexually assaulted because who'd want them/they want it anyway/they should be grateful for whatever attention they get.
This kind of quote says a lot about the way our dominant society views women, fathers, gender roles, and sexuality. The misplaced apostrophe is the ignorant cherry on the misogynist sundae.

1 comment:

  1. This insensitive sign doesn't pertain to the 'rape culture'. It has nothing to do with 'sexual predators'. Although it does imply sex, it is not about forced sex, against one's will or rape.

    It is the bumper-sticker version of an old chauvinist joke...the 'farmer's daughter' joke. There are many versions. They are all about staying the night in a home where the father hasn't really realized that his daughter is both attractive and eager to have sex. Upon discovery that the over-night guess has been treated to sex by the man's daughter, he's so upset to find-out that his mind-set of protection was held in vain that he grabs his shotgun and shoots as the house guest runs away.

    The punch line was essentially transplanted into the 'guns don't kill people' slogan. This was done to suggest the pro-gun notion that, not only don't guns kill people, but also people don't kill people without a good reason--without being sufficiently provoked. You could say that the house guest looted the farmer's valuables--his daughter...but 'looted' wouldn't be the right description because sex was consensual, i.e., those valuables were actually given away.

    In addition to the joke's origin, how else do we know this? Well, everyone knows that rape isn't really about sex--it's about power, control and humiliation...and whether a female is young or not, attractive or not isn't a part of the rape equation. Young and attractive are only a part of the mutually enjoyable sex equation. The sex implied in this joke is of mutual consent.

    Further, if it were about rape or the actions of a sexual predator--it quite simply wouldn't be at all funny. Not even to chauvinists, not even to insensitive NRA loving, patriarchal playboys who believe a woman in a mini-skirt is asking for it. Quite frankly, one has to be a sociopath to genuinely find a genuine rape joke funny.

    There simply aren't enough sociopaths to start-up the traditional joke, popularize it, then keep it alive throughout the decades, morph it into infinite variations and bumper-sticker it around the web. Although rape is a social problem, society is not grooming a playing field for rape. Thus, your list of this joke's implications is largely mistaken--derived from a mistaken premise:

    No one is threatened here by a woman's one is responding to her sexuality in a threatening way. The joke only implies that young attractive women are a man's sexual preference. Now, that might not be nice--but it is perfectly natural, young healthy animals are preferred for sexual encounters all across the animal kingdom--and healthy to the post of attractiveness is (for both genders) the most highly prized.

    The attractiveness of the female has zero, in this joke, to do with her father's view of her. A father would protect his daughter regardless of her looks...yet, the jokes doesn't actually touch upon this. The fact that she is, in the joke, attractive operates only on the house guest...this is done to attract him into desiring to have sex with her, to readily consent--along with her--to sex.

    No, it isn't right or normal for a father to control his grown daughter's sexual agency (as you say). And that, in fact, is what the joke is about. The father has been living too isolated a life to realize that his little girl has grown-up, that she may well already be having sex and is certainly ready and willing to have sex now. The joke is on the father--hah hah mister, you didn't get it...but the house guest did.

    Although there are many instances, in our society, of disempowering women, of committing violence against them, of raining-down suppressive patriarchal notions upon women...but this stupid joke isn't one of them. It's an antiquated mutual sex joke wherein the father is the butt of that jokes. Combined with the gun slogan, it amounts to a gun joke, the but of which is this nation's anti-gun faction.