I tend to get on my feminist high-horse on a daily basis. There’s always something going on in the news about some poor woman being raped/murdered or simply highlighting the inequality between men and women. Depending on my mood I tend to post links to my facebook where I have a bit of a rant about the injustices of the world and maybe have a bit of a discussion about it with friends. Occasionally there is debate, sometimes heated but almost always respectful and well intention ed.
That is, until I posted this article last week.
I made a point of mentioning that as it’s from the Daily Mail, it’s automatically kind of hard to believe or take seriously, but that I recommended it because of how it proves misogyny is still a big problem these days, even amongst the well-educated and wealthy, and that rape should never a joking matter. I feel these two facts are pretty obvious, and so I am always shocked and appalled when I get resistance to them from people. There was a massive fight about it, with one person being particularly vocal about how it was probably all a lie because of the site it was on and discounting it as female hysteria because there were no back up sources online (wut?). As one friend put it “Being critically aware is cool, but doubting off the bat has its roots in victim blaming and misogyny itself”.
Now we have the Steubenville rape case, where reactions range from “good, serves them right for raping an unconscious girl” to the absolutely shocking “that whore shouldn’t have gotten so drunk if she didn’t want to be raped” or, as CNN put it, “The most severe thing with these young men is being labeled as registered sex offenders… That will haunt them for the rest of their lives.” YOU’RE DAMN RIGHT IT WILL. And rightly so. They’re rapists.
It’s not just the media that’s sympathising with the rapists, the average joe on twitter has an opinion on it too as highlighted on Public Shaming (Warning: This tumblr will probably enrage you).
It is perplexing to me that even in the year 2013, people still don’t “get” what rape is. It’s as though rape is only genuine when it involves an innocent girl is raped by the creepy pervert hiding in the bushes. There is always a question of “what did the girl do to deserve the rape?” because it seems that unless you were dressed conservatively, are sober and you were walking in a safe area during daylight hours, it’s basically your fault that you got raped because you did something wrong (dressed “provocatively”, drank too much, walked in a bad area at night without a male escort etc) and you really should have know better. And unless a man forced himself on the violently, there’s always doubt about whether it’s really rape because maybe she lead him on, she just regretted having sex with him the next morning or the ever popular “well she didn’t say no”.
Just to be absolutely clear: RAPE IS RAPE.
We need to be beyond a time where we doubt a woman’s claim of rape before she even has a chance to explain what happened. Her being drunk or the fact she wore a short skirt should never, ever be justifications for her being sexually assaulted by anyone. There is no “lesson” being taught when a girl is raped. There is never something she has done to deserve rape as a punishment or lesson because no matter how repugnant she may be as a person, rape is never acceptable. It makes me furiously angry that everyone doesn’t know and accept this, but with everything that’s been happening in the world lately, it’s pretty darn clear that the general public either doesn’t realise or simple refuses to believe the truth. The fact a woman can be gang-raped to death and have people ask “Well why was she out after dark with a man who isn’t her husband?” or have a girl molested by a group of boys and have thousands of people the world over blaming her because she was drunk, only proves that there is a huge amount to do in terms of educating people on how victims of rape deserve to be treated. It’s not going to be easy and we’ll probably never get 100% there but I honestly think it’s possible.
I have so many opinions on this matter but I feel they can all be summed up with the following:
And this quote that’s floating around on tumblr:
What people don’t understand is when we say “Teach men not to rape,” we’re not talking about telling them not to jump out of the bushes in a ski mask and grab the nearest female. We’re talking about the way we teach boys that masculinity is measured by power over others, and that they aren’t men unless they “get some.” We’re talking about teaching men (and women) that it’s not okay to laugh at jokes about rape and abuse. We’re talking about telling men that a lack of “No” doesn’t mean “Yes,” that if a woman is too drunk to consent they shouldn’t touch her, that dating someone – or even being married to someone – does not mean automatic consent. We’re talking about teaching boys to pay attention to the girl they’re with, and if she looks uncomfortable to stop and ask if she’s okay, because sometimes girls don’t know how to say stop in a situation like that. We’re talking about how women have the right to change their mind. Even if she’s been saying yes all night, if she says no, that’s it. It’s over. That’s what we mean when we say “Teach men not to rape.