The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault released its final report in the middle of a debate about how to understand rape and rape culture. That report includes no mention of the problem of patriarchy and no hint of a feminist critique of men’s violence, which Robert Jensen argues is essential to understanding the problem. Although radical feminist analysis may be out of fashion, Jensen explains its importance in his essay Rape, rape culture and the problem of patriarchy“:
Feminism challenges acts of male dominance and analyzes the underlying patriarchal ideology that tries to make that dominance seem inevitable and immutable. Second-wave radical feminists in the second half of the 20th century identified men’s violence against women — rape, child sexual assault, domestic violence and various forms of harassment — as a key method of patriarchal control and made a compelling argument that sexual assault cannot be understood outside of an analysis of patriarchy’s ideology.
Jensen argues that this feminist critique is as important for men as it is for women:
Is a feminist critique of rape and rape culture a threat to me as a man? I was socialized in a patriarchal culture to believe that whatever feminists had planned, I should be afraid of it. But what I have learned from radical feminists is that quite the opposite is true — feminism is a gift to men. Such critique does not undermine my humanity, but instead gives me a chance to embrace it.
Read Jensen’s article on Waging Nonviolence.