But are we really that surprised that these two young men didn’t think their actions were wrong?
Videos of men running up to women they don’t know just to grab their ass or stomach and run away are played for laughs on shows like Tosh.0. (The show is run by a comedian who garnered tremendous support after he “joked” about a woman in his audience being gang raped.) A “funny” montage of women’s breasts shown at the Oscars included rape scenes. We have handfuls of qualifiers—date, legitimate, forcible, gray—that we throw in front of “rape” because we want to know if an assault was a “real” rape or one of those non-rapes Republican politicians keep talking about.
And it’s not just rape that’s the joke—it’s women. Our very existence is presented to young men as fodder for sex and laughs, our humiliation and pain as goalposts for their masculinity. While mainstream culture fools itself into thinking that Americans take rape seriously, most women know better. We get the joke. We’re just tired of being the punchline.”