Politics · Spirituality

Transgender and Rape Culture

I’m trying to work through why people fear letting transgender people use the restrooms of their preferred gender. In the last post I talked about how the gender binary helps create that fear, but is in direct opposition to the Kingdom of God as a tenant of the patriarchy.

Now I want to talk about rape culture, a product of the patriarchy and a tool it uses to reinforce the gender binary.

Rape culture describes a society in which treating other humans as sexual objects is excused or made acceptable, usually by stereotypes we have about gender. (i.e. “Boys will be boys”) Rape culture helps enforce the power structure of the patriarchy by degrading those who are “beneath” by those who are “above”. As most of you are already aware, rape is ultimately about power, not sexual gratification.

Not sure if you live in a rape culture? Have you ever heard someone say something like:

“Here’s how not to get raped.”

Or, the evangelical Christian version:

“Dress modestly, so you don’t cause men to stumble.”

Both of these statements assume that men are somehow unable to control their sexuality or their ability to see other humans as God sees them, as children of the Kingdom, not sexual objects. And then it places responsibility for these men’s actions on the women around them.

The ultimate product of this line of thinking is that 1 in 6 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, and those of us who escape this still face the degradation of being treated like objects, not humans.

So what does this have to do with the whole transgender question?

Well, part of the fear surrounding letting trans people use the restrooms corresponding to their preferred gender is that someone will use the law to gain access to women and assault them.

I can’t say that will never happen – of course it’s a possibility, although you’re far more likely to be assaulted by a friend, an acquaintance, or a partner than by a stranger in a bathroom.

What I am saying is that we already have a rape problem which we ourselves – men and women – reinforce by supporting rape culture.

Rape culture is a tool the patriarchy uses to reinforce the gender binary. Accepting transgender or genderqueer persons means rejecting the gender binary, thereby rejecting one of the systems of power within the patriarchy. If we assist, rather than fight, the dismantling of this power system, what use would the patriarchy have anymore for rape culture? If we don’t ascribe a “place” in society for different genders, there’s no need for sexual objectification to reinforce those places.

So my point is this: if you really want to protect women, if you really want to reduce sexual assault, help dismantle this thing we call the patriarchy. Let’s start with the gender binary.

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