I've come to the conclusion I don't agree with the definition of Gatekeeper. I do agree there's more than just the two extremes — regardless of whether you call them "Warrior" and "Forgiver" or "heavy-handed militarism" and "turn-the-other-cheek pacifism." I suppose Gatekeeper is as good a term as any for that "middle of the road" position, especially since I can't yet come up with anything better. However, as someone who thinks they may well be a Gatekeeper, I can say quite definitively that maintaining the status quo is emphatically not my goal — neither in regards to rape nor to self-defense.

I remember years ago watching a television program about date rape — specifically the "gray" area where a young woman at college would be drunk at a party, get taken home by a young man, and the next day claim she was raped — at which point the man would say she'd asked him to stay and have sex, or they were both drunk and she came on to him, or whatever moronic excuse he could come up with so it wasn't his fault that he "accidentally" overpowered her — and thus it was clearly her fault — it simply couldn't be rape! The eminently logical position being developed by the interviewers was that smart men simply didn't do that — didn't take advantage of women who were drunk — instead they'd use the facilities provided by that university to call a ride for the woman to get safely home.

The camera crew was filming at a particular college during a week when all the fraternities and sororities were having large parties, and they interviewed one smilingly earnest young frat-boy, asking him if he'd ever take advantage of a woman if she was drunk. With a properly horrified expression, he insisted he'd never — never! -do such a thing! Of course, the camera crew caught him at a party later with his arm around a woman who was clearly drunk, and at one point she turned her head away from the bright lights and slurringly asked the frat-boy to take her home.

Here's the part that has stayed so incredibly powerfully with me through the years: the frat-boy brightened at her request — but then looked directly into the cameras and got a distinct 'well, crap!' look on his face. The interviewer interestedly said into the mike, "Are you going to take her home? Are you?" The young man got a disgustedly resigned ("shit-eating," is how a friend described it) grin on his face and shook his head. We were later told in the program that the university facilities made sure the girl got safely home.

You know why this stayed with me so strongly? Here's the reason: faced with clear exposure as a potential rapist, the frat-boy backed away from committing the crime. In other words: faced with actual consequences to his actions, the man did not commit rape!

That's our real problem here: most rapists do not pay for their crimes. That's what I think society needs to do: to figure out how to have actual consequence for the vicious crime of rape. I want young men to think not that they can probably get away with it — which right now they can — I think they should recoil from the very idea as anathema. I want to figure out how to make being a rapist, even just "allegedly" a rapist, as disgusting in society's eyes as being "allegedly" a necrophiliac or a pedophile.

Returning to the three categories listed by my professor, here's what I think is the best goal to have. I don't want to punish rapists and help the shattered victims after the fact — but rather I want to make rape utterly inconceivable, so there aren't any more victims and rapists. I don't need to know how to hurt someone so badly that they never attack me again, but rather how to make sure they never attack in the first place.

In both these situations, I feel aikido contains a concept I can personally use to help accomplish these goals. Instead of either killing a potential attacker or letting them harm me, I'd rather use what I understand so far of aikido's techniques: to redirect his (unfortunately it's a damn good bet any attacker I ever have will be male) energies so as to diffuse his attack; to prevent harm to myself and, if he's not an idiot, to not harm him as well. Hopefully he'll also think twice about attacking someone in the future, although I'm not yet sure how to hammer that message home clearly.

So how can I apply this interesting concept within aikido to the horrible reality of how rape is conceived in this society? I'd like to see women trained in Aikido to defuse potential attacks, and I'd like to see men take ownership of this issue and start policing themselves. After all, from what I've seen, teaching women self-defense also teaches self-confidence, understanding and control of self, and comfortableness with one's body. These are all good things I feel should be taught to women as well as men in our society — and right now it's only men who're being taught things like this. Women are still unfortunately most often taught to be passive sexual objects rather than active and embodied people.

Further, women have worked very hard to prevent rape, but let's face it: in the end, it is overwhelmingly men who rape — and in the end, the rapist is not the only one at fault. Equally at fault are the people who create a society permissive of such shocking brutality by assuming "she asked for it" or otherwise blaming the victim. Equally at fault is the man who either tells, laughs at, or is complicitly silent upon hearing discussions and jokes of rape as normal, as a man's "right," as a means to show those "uppity" women "just who is boss."

Effectively, I want to re-direct energy here. I want women's energy to be shifted into confident ability to stand up for and defend themselves. I want men's energy to be shifted into realizing they have to fix their problem; shifted into not creating and allowing a society which blames the victim. I want all of us to eventually truly believe rape in any form is not just beyond the pale, but also inconceivable for any rational entity to attempt.

I'm not sure Gatekeeper is the right term for this, unless I think of the role as someone attempting to create a new "gate" between the understandings of women and men, in order to help create a better society for us to live in together. That, I would sincerely love to see.

If you have any good suggestions on how to improve or implement this, please comment? Thank you.

Similar Posts: