Matt Damon has come under fire by most of the feminist community for comments he made in an interview on ABC News in December when he stated that sexual assault is on a “spectrum.” That, “there’s a difference between patting someone on the butt and rape.”
There seems to be some confusion about why the feminist community has shunned Damon in his apparently well-intentioned support in the battle against rape culture.
In an expected response, many have complained that feminists are impossible to please and simply angry about everything. They’re angry when men don’t show support, and now, they’re angry when men show support too.
Yes, feminists want the support of men in combating rape culture. Just not in the form of support taken by Damon.
The issue is this: in his attempt to mansplain sexual assault he’s dictating the terms of it. He seems to excuse all the non-consensual butt-patters of the world by saying, ‘at least you aren’t rapists.’
And here, Matt Damon apologists may be asking why the outrage when his comments hold truth? Sure, there’s a difference between “patting someone on the butt and rape.” These two actions are physically different and are treated differently in society.
Where there is no difference, is that both these acts show an equally appalling disregard for consent. Consent is either a yes or a no. Whether the act is a non-consensual “bum pat” or non-consensual sex, a woman’s ‘no’ is uncompromisingly definite. It has nothing to do with the supposed severity of the act.
By ignoring consent, regardless of the act, you are a bodily-violator to the fullest degree.
Consent isn’t relative, contextual, and most definitely not on a “spectrum.”
So to all the men out there who don’t want to end up like Matt Damon, what’s the role of men who want to support the battle against rape culture? Put simply, rape culture is a battle of women against the patriarchy, which if you are a man, you are undeniably part of.
‘The patriarchy’ may be a bit of a feminist buzzword that’s poorly understood by those who disagree with it. Most people can agree our social experiences shape the way we view the world.
The patriarchy is an overarching mechanism present in our society that’s been established throughout history, making it both resilient and persistent. This system is one that categorizes the social group men as superior to the social group women. A categorization that effects our social experiences, and so whether we like it or not, it affects the way we view the world.
As a man, you can do everything in the world to align yourself with feminist goals, but even the most well-intentioned and informed man can’t change the fact that men’s social experiences, and therefore, their viewpoint, can never be the same as the social experiences and viewpoints of women.
For this reason, men have no place in making judgements or bold statements in the battle against rape culture. Women don’t need and don’t want their oppressors to speak on their behalf.
This isn’t to say that men’s efforts are in vain, but men should question the imposition of themselves and other men – both physically and mentally – upon women.
Men need to ask themselves: how do I treat women differently than men? Why do I treat them differently? How might this make women feel?
Asking these questions about commonplace things, such as ranking women based on an attractiveness scale of 10, calling women ‘crazy bitches,’ and sexual jokes may come to reveal some challenging revelations.
Supporting feminism means supporting women, not as men define it, but as women do.
To Matt Damon and all those in his footsteps: thanks, but no thanks.