Society responsible for 'rape culture'

Last updated 08:00 10/12/2013
Roast Busters protest
Fairfax NZ

SOCIETY REACTS: Roast Busters protest.

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When I read the stories in the papers about the Roast Busters furore, I felt an overwhelming sadness not only for the victims, but for the perpetrators. As much as their behaviour disgusted me, I didn't feel that they deserved to carry the entire weight of society's backlash on their young, impressionable shoulders.

Their actions were manifestations of a deeply entrenched culture. Their behaviours are learned. The images that saturate our world, reveal our culture to us and teach us what is acceptable behaviour.

These young boys were exhibiting behaviours they had learned from the culture they live in. I feel sorry for them. I feel sorry that their experience of sex has been as shallow as collecting pokemon cards. I feel sorry that their education in matters of the heart was so lacking.

We need to take a long, hard look at the sort of ideals that are presented to young people as they grow up. The reverence accorded to the machismo, playboy image; the use of womens' bodies as decorations and marketing tools; the entrenched culture of pursuit and conquest; the priority accorded to sexual appeal over personal satisfaction by the fitness industry; the proliferation of porn depicting women as submissives who 'love it' when they are subjected to sexual agression.

Sex is most rewarding, most fulfilling, most enjoyable and joyful, when it happens in the context of mutual respect and affection, yet these boys bragged about collecting sexual experiences the way a ten-year-old collects glass marbles. Does sex education end with contraception and lectures on STDs? The media is picking up where family guidance leaves off, allowing kids to be educated about the role sex plays in an adult life by music videos, games, movies, the internet and TV.

As well as teaching responsibility for physical wellbeing, we need to teach kids about emotional responsibility. Whether the young women impacted by the Roast Busters gave express consent or not, the cheapening of their feminine treasures by a throwaway experience at a young age is deeply scarring.

I believe that these experiences scar the perpetrators as well, reducing their ability in the future to accord their wives and girlfriends the degree of respect that will earn them a happy and fulfilling marriage or long-term relationship.

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