And once that culture of consent is established in smaller interactions, it becomes part of our habit and part of our consciousness. This is a part of the cultural change that can begin with you. Teach your children both that their boundaries will be respected and that other people’s boundaries deserve the same respect. Start asking before you hug someone. Ask “Is this okay?” before a sexual encounter. Make consent a priority in your life and it will become a secondhand action soon enough.
The beauty of the Gospel is that it is liberating for all peoples as they are, in their lived experiences. If we reduce gender to a socially constructed idea based solely out of reproductive characteristics of sex, we flatten and destroy the beauty of the Gospel message for the Church Universal. We end up with a church of roles, a staged play, instead of a Church of community and love.
Rape culture, as a feminist theory, simply asks that we pay attention to how we function and how we talk about the crime of rape. We look at the statistics and realize that the chances that we are talking to a rape victim are high, and we develop empathy toward them. We also look at statistics and realize that we have encountered rapists in our lives and recognize that, to many of them, we have probably helped give them justification for their actions.
And this is the rub – the male gaze is essentially the assumption that the audience of any act, whether it be a small daily ritual or a large blockbuster movie, will have an audience consisting of heterosexual men. It is this assumption that creates objectification – the inability to see women as anything but objects for male consumption. The male gaze has very real consequences, in that it convinces men that they are the objective normal, while women are Other, objects to be used and cast aside.
Intersectionality is, at its heart, a project of community. It both respects the individual because their story matters and prizes the individual’s place within community because the diversity of stories and experiences lead to greater understanding. Intersectional representation across differences in oppression and privilege is important because all experiences are necessary to understanding the scope of the problems before us. A black woman is going to bring a different perspective to a campaign than a white man, simply by virtue of life experience. A trans* or non-binary person is going to nuance a human rights campaign in ways that a panel of solely cisgender people will not.