The Return of the Gray Myth

Every now and then, Feministing and I agree on something.

Much has been said on the subject of the so called “Gray Rape” invented by “Cosmo” magazine. Of course, I only limit myself to what the feminist rethoric makes of it, so, with this in mind, I summarize everyone’s opinion on it in two little letters: BS.

While I do agree with this cathegorical verdict, I have a tendency to pick up situations like this, turn them around in my hands and look at them from different angles.

The first thing I notice is how powerful “the Cosmo” lot are and how powerless WE, the real, breathing, living women are when confronting it.
What I find particularly painful is that a “woman’s” magazine spouts poisonous vile like this once and the whole world is turned upside down, so much so that even with all the feminists out there blogging together about it, their impact cannot possibly be large enough to put the world back in place. They have the moneys. They have the power.
This “Grey Rape Myth” is a perfect example of how “not guilty” the MSN is of shifting people’s ideas and perceptions. The MSM has no impact on people’s minds, no, none at all. And at any rate, they have our best interests at heart, so even if they did have an impact, which they don’t, it’s all good, because they know what’s best for us. Or so the brainwashing “free market laws” principle goes.

On a closely related note, I’ll attempt to answer the question raised by the author of the post.

“And the author of the article is a young college woman; why are young women buying into the myth? Is it because they don’t want to think it could happen to them?”

First, we don’t know if “young women” are buying into this, we only know that the author has. I wouldn’t put it past me that this is indeed the case, but I like to remain optimistic whenever I can. Though her question could mean “why is the author buying into the myth?”. And to this I do have something to say. I think the answer has to do with the discrimination women face when refusing to endorse the status quo. In the same way that amongst “the feminists”, radical feminists are ignored or dismissed. In the same way that anti-porn and anti-prostitution feminists are silenced in pro of the “sex-positives”. Whoever winks at the patriarchy the most, whoever rocks the boat the less, gets more brownie points. If this girl had instead pointed her finger at the men responsible for raping, she wouldn’t have gotten her article published, simple as that.

jfaustus, a commenter in feministing’s post, provides us with some interesting thoughts on this topic. I reproduce it here for your reading pleasure.

“I wrote in with:
Had to come back for a second helping. I just put my baby daughter to bed, and was thinking the entire time how desperately I want her to be able to grow up in a world where the kind of vicious, ignorant, destructive tropes you traffic in have ceased to exist. Where women don’t have to cut themselves walking the razor’s edge between being ‘desirable’ (wearing sexy clothes) and asking to be raped (wearing sexy clothes). Where women who opt out of the game aren’t called dyke bitches, or feminazis, or castrating man-haters, or whoresluts. Sound like an interesting world to you? We could get there, if the ignorant would stop blindly perpetuating the perception of women as unworthy of basic respect for the sanctity of their bodies.
Go crawl back under a rock and stop polluting my daughter’s world.”

He correctly notes that women who “opt out of the game” are ostracized by being labeled as “dyke bitches, or feminazis, or castrating man-haters, or whoresluts“. That is the fate of anyone who dares put the onus of rape in men’s hands. And I somehow cannot imagine these women given an inch of media to express their “feminazi” views.

One more twist of the “grey myth”-puzzle and we are done. And for this I shall be using the same comment stated above. Pay attention to this line, “Where women don’t have to cut themselves walking the razor’s edge between being ‘desirable’ (wearing sexy clothes) and asking to be raped (wearing sexy clothes).” What relation does this bare with Cosmo itself? Nothing more, nothing less than precisely Cosmo’s essential motto. The whole magazine is based on the premise of making the reader “desirable”. And they make no attempt to hide the intrinsic sexual nature of that “desirability”. From fashion and “tips to improve your body” all aimed at better pleasing men, whom are assumed to be the quintessencial judges of that “desirability”, all the way to sex techniques, ditto focused on their men-pleasing ability. There’s probably no other “women’s” magazine so strongly geared towards training women in the fine art of (pleasing men during) sexual intercourse. All this leads us to conclude that Cosmo is being extremely hipocritical. First, it stops short of telling women that being sexually promiscuous is the way to go; that looking sexually palatable is the only way to look good. And then it blames women for “getting themselves raped” out of acting in the exact way they promote?

Now you can understand why in this post the term “women’s” magazine has the word “women” between quotes.



3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Debs said,

    Yep, it’s “bang your head against a brick wall” time again. We just have to keep saying it over and over – rapists are responsible for rape, no-one else.

    It’ll come as no surprise that I have no time at all for Cosmo, or any other of those types of magazine, but seeing as it was Cosmo that came up with this ‘grey rape’ crap, I do have to wonder what’s in it for them? If there was such a thing as ‘grey rape’, the only people who would benefit from that would be rapists, so, even if ‘grey rape’ did exist, which it doesn’t, what on earth is a magazine supposedly for women doing promoting the idea?

    The only conclusion I can come to is that magazines like Cosmo (as you demonstrate with the sex-tips aimed at pleasing men), actually exist for the benefit of men, and not women. It’s a kind of doublespeak; they speak to the women, get them ‘on side’ with all their man-pleasing ideas (including ‘grey rape’ which also only benefits men), the women think they are somehow being ’empowered’, whilst actually it’s men who gain from it.

    In short, the women who buy mags like Cosmo, and believe the crap that’s in them, are being used as tools to keep the patriarchal system in place. As long as women believe and act on this rubbish, the status quo is safe.

    Great post, by the way! 🙂

  2. 2

    Sera said,

    I just found you and I think you are fucking brilliant and awesome and whatever other words there are for awesome.

    (However, those last two sentences are a little awkward. Men are… what? Responsible for being raped? No, I don’t think that’s what you meant to say, but that’s how it works out. Perhaps you should expand that sentence to “MEN ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR BEING RAPISTS.”)

  3. 3

    marytracy9 said,

    Thank you very much, Sera! And you are absolutely right, that last line came out the wrong way. I’m gonna change it right now.

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