Woke Bae Channing Tatum On Rape Culture, Feminism, & The Importance Of Sex Education

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We love the growing list of woke bae male feminists who are speaking out about gender equality. The thing about feminism is that it’s not just a movement that affects and benefits women, but also men, the LGBTQ community, minorities, and many other groups.

Whether it be Terry Crews talking about the dangers of toxic masculinity, Matt McGorry sharing how he learned about the biases women face from reading Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’, or Bollywood star Farhan Akhtar speaking out against gender violence in his home country India.

The discussion around toxic masculinity has become a very important part of the current feminist movement, particularly in the areas of sexual assault, domestic violence and rape. We’ve seen so many examples just over the pas few years of very public male figures perpetrating sexually-based crimes against women. Whether it is Bill Cosby, a number of pro football players, or most recently the Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner.

His case really exposed not only the damaging perspective we have on assault and rape victims due to the hero worship bubble that surrounds athletes in this country, but also how race can play a deciding factor in what type of punishment (if any) gets carried out.

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There are many within the feminist community who have raised their voices about this issue and clearly it is having an effect in society. ‘Magic Mike’ actor Channing Tatum recently spoke about the Brock Turner case as well as other issues relating to sexual assault and the way we as a society view sex in general.

He was in the South of France and took part in a Facebook Livestream interview with Joanna Coles, the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine. The 30 minute conversation didn’t just cover rape culture, but also Channing’s thoughts on the importance of sex education, and what feminism means to him. You can see the full video embed below, but here are some of our highlights.

“It’s tough. I think rape culture is a very real thing,” he said addressing not only Brock Turner’s case but the greater epidemic of college campus assault that has been plaguing our higher education system for years.

He also spoke to the inadequate punishments toward perpetrators that seem to be common place and lead to victim-blaming and shaming culture.

“I really think it’s a horrible idea to let someone off because of possibly what they’re gonna be capable of doing. Because if you start doing that where do you end? Where does that stop? Where does that line actually quit? I don’t think it’s right, I think he should’ve been punished personally,” he said.

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The outrageous reasoning California Judge Aaron Persky gave for dishing out only a 6 month sentence simply because Brock Turner had never committed a crime like rape before is so grossly negligent, in our opinion. The idea of not wanting to subject a rapist to too harsh of a jail sentence because it may “affect the rest of his life” tells you all you need to know about the gaping flaws in our justice system, when the welfare of a convicted criminal is more important than the women he has now inflicted pain on for the rest of her life.

“It’s like if you killed someone and got caught red-handed and just because you went to a nice school and you were a good swimmer, you somehow get a lesser sentence. That just doesn’t make any sense,” said Channing about the sentence.

Still on the topic of sex, the discussion turned to pornography and how it has an effect on our view of sex in general. Channing believes that there are certain types of porn that can perpetuate rape culture.

“There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of rough and tumble [sex], if that’s what you’re into. But I think it could go just the opposite way as well and we need to know that and these kids need to know that,” he said.

The conversation around porn and sex is certainly growing with the increased amount of accessibility via the internet and mobile devices. We are now living in a world where, for a lot of young boys and girls, their early ideas of sex and sexuality could very well be coming from porn culture, which is not always an accurate or healthy view of what sex is. This is where comprehensive sex education comes in and can play a valuable part in dismantling the unhealthy perspectives around sex that can be found in pop culture and entertainment.

Being a father and a husband, Channing recognizes that honest conversations about sex with our children are going to have a great impact on the rest of their lives.

“I think we need to use education and we have to be comfortable talking about [sex]. Look I’m uncomfortable talking about it and I’m saying we should be comfortable talking about it. But it is, it’s an awkward thing to talk about, it’s an awkward thing to talk about especially probably with your kids,” he said.

In the US alone we have such a scattered understanding of what sex education can be. Right now, there are only 22 states which require public schools to teach comprehensive sex ed, and out of that only 13 require the information to be medically accurate. The real problem lies in the 37 states which teach abstinence-only education, and those states (no surprise) have the highest rates of teen pregnancies and STDs. Given we have no federal mandate for what to teach our kids when it comes to being in sexually charged situations, our culture has opened the door for young men and women to seek “education” elsewhere such as online porn because it becomes easier to access than correct, healthy and medically accurate information.

Channing is adamant there has to be greater communication in order to prevent people from allowing themselves to get into harmful situations wherever possible.

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“So how do we do that better? How do we actually come up with a plan to be able to communicate about sex and what do we need from each other and what are the lines and how do you even know where the lines are if you’re not strong enough to say OK I’m not comfortable with this anymore… People want from both directions and the only way to get to what you want is communication,” he said.

In 2015, California became the first state to require schools teach kids the concept of consent. Imagine if every school-aged person in the world grew up learning what consent was and why it is of paramount importance in sexual situations. This could dramatically change the amount of rape cases and sexual violence incidents, because sadly there is a huge part of the population that has never been taught what it means to have mutual consent.

Which brings us back to the important of feminism. It’s not just about all people having the same opportunities in life, it’s also about being treated with the same amount of respect and dignity. When asked how he would sum up feminism in three words, here’s how Channing responded:

“I can do it in one: equality.”

Equality really is at the heart of many of the problems see in our society, but especially in rape culture. We hope more and more men stand up and speak out against it. We’re certainly glad to see people like Channing Tatum using their voice for good. You can watch the full interview with Cosmopolitan below:

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