#IAmOutraged solves no problems

David Bullard | Sep 08, 2019
Social media has perfected the art of vicarious victimhood and confected outrage – but it isn’t working, is it.

As far as I am aware, my late father never raped my mother. If he did, she was remarkably stoic about it and never mentioned it during their 55 years of marriage.

I am also pretty sure that my normally communicative sister has never been raped or she might have mentioned it. She had a few pretty unsuitable liaisons in her late teen years, but who hasn’t? However, none of them seems to have left a permanent scar and I doubt if she could even recall their names. Despite being falsely accused five years ago on Twitter of having proposed a threesome by some whack-job female I had never met and later being accused of being a ‘rape apologist’ for daring to suggest that outing your alleged rapist on social media was inadvisable and that laying a charge with the police was the conventional, if painful, route to take, I also plead not guilty to any charges of rape.

Not that I could prove beyond any modern standard of reasonable doubt that any of my university liaisons were consensual or didn’t involve alcohol or other mind-altering substances, but we are talking about the early 1970s which was shortly after Woodstock and the ‘summer of love’ and that sort of thing didn’t occur to either party back then. All I know is that no former sexual partners have materialized fifty years later to accuse me of behaving inappropriately, which could mean I was utterly forgettable or that I’m too poor to be a potential #metoo victim.

Which is to say that, in the modern ‘progressive liberal’ parlance, my so called ‘lived experience’ is totally different from so many less fortunate people. Which (lest the bed-wetters become unduly aroused) is not to deny that rape and sexual violence occur in the leafier suburbs or that friends and acquaintances may have experienced such horrific violations.

However, when you preach to me that I must say no to violence against women you must forgive me if I stare blankly back at you and respond that I’ve never said yes to violence to women. I simply wasn’t brought up that way. When you ask me to hold up a piece of cardboard with the trite message ‘#real men don’t rape’ just so that I can demonstrate my superior virtue-signalling abilities to the woke world out there, you mustn’t be surprised if I ask you what on earth that’s supposed to mean? If it’s not real men doing the raping, then who the hell is it? Aliens in fancy dress? Of course real men rape, you dumb fools. Do you honestly think that shaming rapists by suggesting that they are not real men is going to solve the problem? Well, obviously you do otherwise you wouldn’t be sucked into such crass banality.

These days just shoving a hash-tag in front of something is seen as the cure-all for society’s problems. Put up your #notinmyname or #enoughisenough on Twitter and go home and make yourself a nice cup of tea. Job done. All the hashtag does is to show your fleeting solidarity with a social issue. As soon as another issue comes along you’ll invent a new hashtag to show everybody how deeply you care and so it goes on. Social media has perfected the art of vicarious victimhood and confected outrage. All you need is a computer keyboard.

Well, it isn’t working, is it. And the reason for that is very simple. Good men don’t rape but they tend not to have much social interaction with the sort of scum who do rape and brutalise women. So, telling them on radio stations ostensibly aimed at the middle classes to go out and tell their more toxic male counterparts to keep it in their pants is a fatuous exercise. Last Friday, a Cape radio station operated without any of its female presenters and staff in a show of solidarity with those who have been demonstrating in Cape Town outside the conference centre. Good for them, but so what? All that did was prove that the radio station could function perfectly well without women, which rather negates the whole purpose of the exercise. And the University of Cape Town suspended all activities for two days so students could demonstrate their anger. Stellenbosch University was criticized by talk radio host John Maytham last Thursday for not doing the same, but maybe Stellenbosch has a higher regard for the tuition fees paid by parents.

To read the mainstream media and the ‘opinion’ pieces that appear on websites you could be forgiven for believing that all men spend every waking hour being disrespectful to women and walking around looking for someone to rape. If it’s not a wolf whistle then it’s an ‘inappropriate’ look, which, we are told, women now rank as equally threatening. But that’s the media for you, I’m afraid. Take an issue out of context, blow it out of all proportion and create hysteria for click bait. None of which actually solves any problems.

The reason we have so much violence against women in this country is surely down to social issues. Poverty, appalling living conditions, and high youth unemployment play a large part in that, but well-entrenched traditional attitudes to women are also to blame. That isn’t going to change with a few well-meant hashtags though, and what is needed is real action and leadership from government.

When seldom-seen-Cyril, our elusive President was finally tracked down last week he made all sorts of vague promises to protesters who had just been subjected to stun grenades and water cannons in their attempts to have their voices heard. Whether anything comes from these vague promises remains to be seen, but given the ANC’s track record on delivery, I somehow doubt it. Perhaps the ruling party would like first to look within their own ranks for examples of violence against women before promising to sort out the rest of society’s problems. I recall many reported cases of such behaviour against high-ranking comrades, but I don’t remember reading about any outcomes. As the saying goes, a fish rots from the head.  


David Bullard is a columnist, author and celebrity public speaker known for his controversial satire.


The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of the IRR.


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