People like Donald Trump are the Result of Rape Culture

A video from 2005 has recently surfaced in which Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump crudely brags about sexually assaulting women. While I have provided a link to the video, I will not repeat his words here. After widespread criticism, Trump apologized in a video posted to social media, saying, “I’ve never said I’m a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I’m not. I’ve said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.” While these words probably do reflect who Trump is, that is not what I would like to discuss.

I believe they reflect a large part of American culture. They reflect rape culture. Even if they wouldn’t admit it, many Americans are just as guilty as Trump, when it comes to how they treat women. And so as not to commit the fallacy of assuming that sexual assault only happens to women, I’ll say it: men get sexually assaulted, too.

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), while sexual assault has fallen 74% since 1993 (an encouraging figure), it still remains high. One in six American women has been sexually assaulted in her lifetime, and the same goes for one in thirty-three American men. In addition, most assaults, 55%, in fact, happen near the victim’s home, and three out of four assaults are by someone the victim knows. However, only around six out of every one-thousand perpetrators end up in prison.

I firmly believe that the only cause of rape is rapists. Even if there are factors that make it easier for rapists to rape, they are still fully responsible for making a fully conscious choice. (That’s not to say victims shouldn’t defend themselves, but that’s another discussion.) Many people believe that the primary way to solve rape culture is to teach people not to rape, but if people can be taught not to rape, then it stands to reason that they were taught to rape in the first place. Who taught them to rape? Well, to answer that question, all you need to do is look in a mirror. The things we as a society value contribute to rape culture, and essentially teach people to rape.

I could talk about how obsessed with sex we are, or how we teach people that their sexuality is the most important thing about their identity, or how we’ve normalized any kind of sexual activity to the degree that even sexual assault is considered normal, or how we excuse sexual assault every time it happens, but I’m not going to. Instead, I would like to point out what I believe is one of the worst, and least thought about, ways we teach people, particularly men, to rape: emotional repression.

Men are taught from the earliest possible age to hide their emotions, or even better, to not have them at all. Men are taught to be tough and stoic at all times, and any display of emotion results in ridicule and social rejection. Consequentially, most men are extremely reluctant to be vulnerable with anyone, including friends, family, and even romantic partners, and socially restricted from intimacy of any kind. However, there is one kind of intimacy they are allowed, in fact, encouraged, to participate in: sex. Sex is the one societally acceptable way for men to be intimate. In fact, men are taught that having sex enhances their masculinity: it makes them more of a man, whereas having less sex makes them less of a man. It’s not difficult to follow this line of reasoning to its logical conclusion.

Now, does this in any way excuse men (or women) who commit sexual assault? Absolutely not. Not in the slightest. But if we believe rape is wrong, why have we created a society that encourages men to do it?  We should be teaching men to value people and relationships, not sex. We should be teaching them that women are human beings, not sexual objects. We should be teaching them that their masculinity is not defined by their conformity to arbitrary societal constructs or by how much sex they’ve had. If we truly believe that sexual assault is wrong, then we need to stop fostering an environment that encourages it. We can’t have it both ways.

A full discussion of these issues is beyond the scope of this blog, not to mention beyond the scope of my qualifications. However, for further reading on these topics, I have provided some resources below.

Trump recorded having extremely lewd conversation about women in 2005

‘This is rape culture’: After Trump video, thousands of women share sexual assault stories

RAINN

Get Over It. Men and the Cost of Emotional Repression

Emotional Repression: What Happens When Men Repress Their Emotions

What Drives Men to Rape?

What is Rape Culture?

Giving Up our Right to Privacy Does Not Make Us Safer

Most people who have been following the political cycle recently, and many who have not, are probably aware of the court case involving Apple and their refusal to create software that could allow them to unlock the iPhone of San Bernardino terrorist Syed Farook. Even some of the presidential candidates have weighed in. Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have both declined to take a side in the debate. Republican candidates Ted Cruz and Donald Trump believe that Apple should comply with the order, with Trump, who apparently thinks he is running for king and not president, going so far as to say he would force Apple to comply if he were elected. Marco Rubio stated that Apple should “voluntarily comply,” but also warned of the possible dangers if they do. Former candidate Rand Paul, on the other hand, said that Apple should not be forced to comply.

Specifically, what the FBI wants Apple to do is to create two different kinds of software. Farook’s iPhone 5c is locked with a four-digit passcode. If entered incorrectly enough times, the phone will lock down and the only way to restore it is to reset it to factory settings, erasing all of its data. The first piece of proposed software would eliminate this factor, allowing codes to be entered indefinitely. The second piece would allow a computer to enter thousands of codes at once. If both were implemented, the user could unlock the phone and recover all of its data without knowing the passcode.

What’s interesting about those who are defending the FBI is that they argue that if created, this software’s use would stay relegated to a single phone. If history has proven anything, it is that no weapon ever created has ever been used only once, and before you accuse me of calling the proposed software a weapon, please realize that yes, I am absolutely calling it that. Once Apple creates this software, there will be no going back. It would reverse decades of Apple’s progress in creating almost impenetrable encryption. Any hacker who got their hands on it could unlock any iPhone, even remotely, and steal someone’s information. However, that’s not the worst danger. The worst danger is that the government will use it to spy on citizens. If the software is created, this danger will become an absolute certainty. The government already collects emails, Internet records, and phone records from citizens. Does anyone really think they will not do the same with iPhones?

Some people argue that they need to know citizen’s private information in order to keep us safe. If we can’t preemptively stop terrorism, they argue, people will die, and how will we know who the terrorists are without searching people’s private information and finding out? The problem with this argument is that not only have no terrorist attacks ever been stopped in this way, but the right to privacy and being left alone is a fundamental human right. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution says that in order to search someone’s property, a warrant needs to be issued by a judge on probable cause that a crime was committed. People need the right to live their lives freely without government intrusion.

However, there is also an argument to be made from the First Amendment. Apple has contended that being forced to write code they disagree with violates their right to free speech. Should Apple be compelled to do something they believe is wrong?

Apple CEO Tim Cook has stated that, if necessary, he will take the case to the Supreme Court, and that possibility seems extremely likely. For the good of the country, let’s hope they make the right decision. The rights of every American hang in the balance. 

Dear Americans, Can We Please Focus on Real Issues of Racial Justice?

A video of alleged police brutality has been making the rounds on social media recently. In the video, a black female student in a South Carolina school is aggressively pulled from her chair by a white police officer and thrown to the ground. She had been using her phone in class, was asked to hand it over, and refused. She was then asked to go to the principal’s office by several people and refused every time. Then, the police officer was called. He told her to get up and she refused, so he aggressively forced her out of the chair and onto the ground. The officer is now under investigation. While the officer was definitely too rough on the student, this is obviously not a case that warrants national attention. Racial inequality is a problem in the U.S., but this is not what it looks like. This really should not be such a widespread story, but it is.

While this video has been widely shared and discussed, there are numerous cases, in fact, whole trends of social injustice that nobody seems to care about. For instance, on the subject of black students being mistreated by police, people do not seem to care about the victim if the victim is autistic. Last fall, an autistic black sixth-grade student named Kayleb Moon-Robinson was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for kicking over a trash can. Then, when he struggled against a police officer who grabbed him, he was charged with felony assault of a police officer. His case is still pending. While I would expect there to be national outrage over this, the story was not covered by major news networks or spread by many people other than autistic groups and communities. That is a disgrace. Apparently, people’s lives don’t matter if they are autistic. If you need more convincing, here is a story about an autistic woman being held against her will in an institution. Here is a story about an autistic man who was murdered by a police officer. Neither have any kind of national attention.

However, it is not just autistic lives that apparently don’t matter. Unborn lives, and particularly unborn black lives, also apparently do not matter. Black women are five times more likely to have an abortion than white women, and even though blacks comprise only 13% of the population of the U.S., they account for 37% of all abortions. Other relevant statistics are that 69% of pregnancies among blacks are unintended, compared to 40% among whites, and Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, has 80% of its abortion clinics located in minority neighborhoods. Rather than trying to ascertain why this racial disparity exists and come up with a solution, most people deny it is even a problem and allow the murder of infants, especially black infants, to continue unchecked.

Blacks are also disproportionately affected by poverty. In a 2012 study, it was found that 27.2% of blacks are in poverty, compared to 9.7% of whites. During the Great Recession from 2007-2010, the median black household’s income fell 10.1 percent, compared to 5.4 percent for white households. In the aftermath of the recession, the unemployment rate for blacks rose to 15.9%, compared to 8% for whites. In addition, mobility for blacks is about twice the rate of whites. 62.9% of black children whose families were in the bottom fourth of all families by income stayed there as adults, compared with 32.3% of whites. A mere 3.6% of black children from the bottom fourth made it to the top fourth, which is about one-fourth the rate for whites.

Now we get to the criminal justice system. While I believe that most police officers are not racist, it is undeniable that our justice system disproportionately affects blacks. The U.S. has the second highest incarceration rate in the world (second only to the tiny country of Seychelles). Blacks make up 40% of the U.S. prison population, even though they only make up 13% of the general population. Whites, on the other hand, make up 39% of the prison population, and 64% of the general population. 450 whites per 100,000 are incarcerated, as opposed to 2,306 blacks per 100,000. Now, some people will say, (in fact, I have said it myself) that in order to prove that this is a problem, one must prove that either most blacks being incarcerated are innocent, or that whites not being incarcerated are not innocent. However, even if our justice system were perfectly enforcing the law and convicting all criminals while acquitting all innocents, and there is a lot of evidence that it is not, one would still have to ask why more blacks are involved in crime than whites. Any way it is examined, it is an enormous problem.

If we as a nation are going to solve our real issues of injustice with regards to race, we need to focus on those issues. Demonizing the police and using criminals like Michael Brown as examples of victims of brutality does not lend any credibility to this cause, nor does it help solve real issues for real people. The highly publicized cases, such as the recent video I mentioned at the beginning of this article, almost always involve people who are breaking the law or not cooperating with the police. I do not say this to minimize actual police brutality, but to say that solving these issues involves looking at the big picture, not just assuming that all police are racist or encouraging citizens to riot or even murder officers. We will only start solving these issues when we are able to accurately assess them and rationally deal with them, which means reforming how our justice system is run, getting rid of government policies and taxes that keep businesses from hiring poor people, examining societal trends that cause people to turn to crime, implementing better training for police officers, abolishing abortion, and looking at how to increase rehabilitation for former prisoners. Instead of inciting people to violence against the police, many of whom are innocent and simply trying to do their jobs, we need to work toward real solutions. All black lives (and all other lives, including police lives) matter. Not just when they trend on Twitter. Not only when they are reported by the media. All lives always matter. It is time we recognize that and act like it.

The Inevitable Consequence of a Fundamentally Flawed System

“He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD.” – Proverbs 17:15

I’m sure by now most people know about Kim Davis, a clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky who was recently jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. I’ve already seen countless arguments online about the case. While some people are on her side, most people say that even if she disagrees with doing it, she has to either issue the licenses or resign. She is not above the law, they say. I agree with that sentiment. No one is above the law. There is just one small problem. She was not actually breaking any laws. Now, I know what you are thinking. “Of course she was breaking the law. The Supreme Court ruled that she has to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.” Yes, that is true. They did. There is just one small problem. They never had the authority to make that ruling in the first place. Now, I am not an expert, but I have read the Constitution. According to the Constitution, only Congress has the authority to make laws. The Supreme Court’s job is to interpret the laws, make sure that the laws are constitutional, and if they are not, to strike them down. In the ruling about gay marriage, Obergefell vs. Hodges, the Supreme Court did not strike down any laws. It did not even make a ruling about any laws. It made a ruling about a lack of laws. The Supreme Court cannot declare that a law must exist. It can only rule whether laws that Congress passes are constitutional. But, as everyone knows, there were no laws against gay marriage. Any two people could form a partnership and call it marriage. The government would not have stopped them because it was not illegal, nor should it have been. But, of course, nobody wanted the right to marry. What they really wanted was for the government to recognize their partnerships as marriage. They wanted to create a law, not strike one down. Whether anyone thinks this is a good idea or a bad idea (more on that later) is beside the point. Feelings and opinions have no place in the Supreme Court, or in a Kentucky court. My opinion is not relevant. Neither is anyone else’s. All that matters are the facts. The Supreme Court cannot make laws. It can only strike down laws. Therefore, the Supreme Court did not have the authority to force states to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Only Congress has the authority to do that by passing a law. Therefore, clerks are not obligated by any law to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. That means that Kim Davis was not breaking the law. These are the facts. They have no opinion, no feelings, and no bias. They do not care if people agree with them. They simply state reality. Based on the facts, Kim Davis must be released from jail. She was not breaking the law.

Now, even though it has no relevance to the case, I do have an opinion about it. I think this proves that the government has no right to legislate anything about marriage at all. Marriage should be completely privatized. That way, everyone could live according to their own beliefs and convictions, without making others compromise their own. What people do behind closed doors is their business. Not mine. Not the government’s. Every time the government gets involved in something in which it has no legitimate business, it messes it up. So, if someone asked me if Kim Davis should be allowed to refuse to issue marriage licenses, I would say yes, because the government should not be issuing marriage licenses in the first place. What is happening in Kentucky is not only an obstruction of justice, it is the inevitable consequence of a fundamentally flawed system.

A postscript: There is one other point I should mention. This may seem harsh, but I have to say it. The same people who argue that Kim Davis must be subject to the rule of law are the same ones who are silent about other lawbreakers and actual human rights abuses. Planned Parenthood has been murdering unborn babies and selling their body parts. (To those who say the videos are edited, you can watch the full, unedited videos here.) The mayor of San Francisco defies our immigration laws. Black Lives Matter protesters murder and encourage the murder of police officers. An autistic woman is being held against her will in an institution. Black disabled children are thrown in jail for no reason other than being black and disabled. These are real people with real problems. People being killed and having their human rights trampled on. Do we really care more about a clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses than innocent people being abused and killed?

Independence Day

Today is a great day. Today we celebrate the birth of a nation founded on freedom. Freedom to exercise religion. Freedom to speak our opinions. Freedom to live our lives the way we see fit. But most of all, freedom from a tyrannical government that would take these freedoms away. You see, America was predicated on the ideal that freedom is a human right given by God, and that the purpose of government is to protect our freedom. Unfortunately, however, many people do not seem to understand this. As a result, America is no longer the great nation it once was. Millions of the unborn are legally murdered every year, denied their freedom to live. Many people do not believe in freedom of religion anymore, or freedom of speech. Racism still exists, and race relations only seem to be getting worse. Our government is full of corruption on both sides of the aisle. America has a long way to go before we achieve true freedom and equality. People want to be optimistic today. We want to believe that our country is great, or at least can be if we just vote for the right people or give our money to the right organizations. I like to be optimistic, as well. The truth is, though, that I am disappointed with the state of this country. Deeply disappointed. However, there are still people in this nation who believe in freedom. As long as there are, we can still be a great nation again. We must always believe in the ideals of liberty and equality. We must work to fight injustice and tyranny in our own lives wherever we see it. Most of all, we must always remember that true freedom comes only from God, not from government.

To end this post, here are some of my favorite quotes about freedom:

“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.” – John F. Kennedy

“Once a man has tasted freedom he will never be content to be a slave. That is why I believe that this frightfulness we see everywhere today is only temporary. Tomorrow will be better for as long as America keeps alive the ideals of freedom and a better life. All men will want to be free and share our way of life. There must be so much that I should have said, but haven’t. What I will say now is just what most of us are probably thinking every day. I thank God and America for the right to live and raise my family under the flag of tolerance, democracy and freedom.” – Walt Disney

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” – Ronald Reagan

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” – Nelson Mandela

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” – Thomas Jefferson (The Declaration of Independence)

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” – The Apostle Paul (Galatians 5:1)