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Anti-rape education is making poor frat-boys’ penises sad, according to this article at Bloomberg.
…making out with a girl at a party. Things were going fine, the student said, when suddenly a vision of his school’s disciplinary board flew into his head.
“‘I want to go to law school or medical school after this,’” Pollack said, recounting the student’s comments. “‘I said to her, it’s been nice seeing you.’”
OK, if the disciplinary board is flashing into your head, chances are it’s because you know something’s not right. It’s too bad fear for your future, and not, you know, empathy or human decency, made you back off, but I’m sure the woman in question appreciates it.
“I don’t think it’s about me,” said Gill, the Harvard student. “I feel like I’m pretty good guy. But if I’m talking to a girl and want to gauge her interest, I’m more cautious than I used to be. I don’t want to cross the line.”
And this is a bad thing?!
Some men feel that too much responsibility for preventing sexual assault has been put on their shoulders, said Chris Herries, a senior at Stanford University. While everyone condemns sexual assault, there seems to be an assumption among female students that they shouldn’t have to protect themselves by avoiding drunkenness and other risky behaviors, he said.
“Do I deserve to have my bike stolen if I leave it unlocked on the quad?” Herries, 22, said. “We have to encourage people not to take on undue risk.”
Oh for fuck’s sake. Let’s talk about undue risks here. Back in the day, I used to be a goth/punk/alternative club-girl. I used to go out dressed super-provocatively, and dance provocatively, and drink – sometimes too much – and sometimes go home with people I met at the club and we would have consensual sex. I never got raped. In fact, I don’t even recall having been touched inappropriately without my consent. And we’re talking about a period of several years, here.
Why was “my” club a safe place for women to express our sexuality? Because, simply put, the culture there was a culture of consent and mutual respect. Things like coming up behind a woman, grabbing her by the hips, and grinding against her, were Simply Not Done, and the social opprobium unleashed on anybody who tried it (“normal” bro-dudes out to slum with the weirdos and ogle girls in corsets) put a very swift end to it, and to the perpetrator’s presence in the club.
But you know what? None of this put any kind of damper on people hooking up. So suck it up, poor poor fratboys of Stanford and Harvard, and learn to tell the difference between a woman who wants to make out with you, and a woman who was happily minding her own business before you imposed your unwelcome person on her. I assure you, it’s really not complicated, as long as you’re not an entitled flaming douchebag who thinks your boner makes everything you do morally ok.
Today’s Red Pen of Justice edition is brought to you by the clueless parvanimity of Neil Macdonald. Mr. Macdonald has many important opinions on Rape Culture and, shockingly enough, they are completely out-to-fucking-lunch-brain-gone-fishing, wrong.
“For people my age, the freedom to get drunk or high and then have sex with someone was a right guaranteed by the sexual revolution of the Sixties.”
Oh!! So you valued have available female fuck-toilets to bang when you were getting crunked in name of peace, luv and rock and roll. Wow, funny how the ‘sexual revolution’ that gave dudes more peentacular access to women is lauded while the current battle for female bodily autonomy and consensual relations is slandered.
One paragraph in and you need a machete to cut through the misogyny. Awesome!
“Heaven knows that much of the world, beginning with Islamic societies, still discourages or forbids such behaviour. Oh, and also Yale University.”
Ah yes, because Islamic religion and Yale are completely the same.
Islam is all about protecting women’s modesty from the phaser-like dick beams that emanate from Islamic men. Women’s bodies drive Islamic men around the jizz-tastic bend (tru-fax!!) therefore its into the gunny sack for Islamic women and most of their rights. No misogyny here, move along, move along please.
Yale is attempting to ensure that people are not unwilling participants in sexual and social encounters within their institution. Here is what the Yale Policy says:
“Sexual activity requires consent, which is defined as positive, unambiguous, and voluntary agreement to engage in specific sexual activity throughout a sexual encounter. Consent cannot be inferred from the absence of a “no”; a clear “yes,” verbal or otherwise, is necessary. Consent to some sexual acts does not imply consent to others, nor does past consent to a given act imply present or future consent. Consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual encounter and can be revoked at any time.
Consent cannot be obtained by threat, coercion, or force. Agreement under such circumstances does not constitute consent.
Consent cannot be obtained from someone who is asleep or otherwise mentally or physically incapacitated, whether due to alcohol, drugs, or some other condition. A person is mentally or physically incapacitated when that person lacks the ability to make or act on considered decisions to engage in sexual activity. Engaging in sexual activity with a person whom you know — or reasonably should know — to be incapacitated constitutes sexual misconduct.”
Whoa. You go Yale! Treating people with bodily autonomy and safeguarding their rights. Let us see what McShitstain, err… Mcdonald thinks about a treating people with dignity and respect…
“A person who is incapacitated by alcohol or drugs cannot by definition consent to sex, and is therefore a rape victim if sex occurs. If both parties are drunk, presumably, it would be up to Yale administrators to decide who was the rapist and who was the victim. This may all sound beyond the realm of common sense, but it is real.”
Do take note and sample the fine airs of special pleading that is happening here. The only case mentioned were both parties are drunk. McShitstain, you and other entitled man-children like you can fuck right off forever. If both parties are drunk then no action between either is predicated by the rules set out. This isn’t rocket science – the default action when consent is in question is to back off and not do anything.
Did you feel that that? As a matter of fact, I felt it – a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of man-bonerz suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.
TL;DR – Your entitled man-attitude and fucking stiffy does not trump women’s right to be treated as a human beings. I feel like I’m giving shit-stains a bad name by associating them with you… Onward turd-lord!
“American universities are under serious pressure by federal authorities to do something about the “campus rape culture,” as some call it – 55 U.S. colleges and universities are currently under investigation for failing to protect students from sexual harassment or assault.”
Protecting your students from rape? GTFO! The nerve of some schools trying to provide a safe environment for their students. It must be a communist plot or even worse – a socialist one. And why is protecting students a bad thing? How is a raging sac of bollocks like yourself even allowed near a keyboard when it comes to this issue is completely beyond me.
“Alarmed at the growing perception that they’re becoming havens for rapists, the schools are coming out with codes of sexual behaviour that go far beyond criminal law.”
Good. Good, good, goodly-good. Because the law isn’t doing enough to combat the sexual abuse and harassment in our culture. This is what setting the bar higher looks and feels like – sorry about the bruise on your forehead, asshat.
“Therefore, if a college administrator thinks that you more likely than not violated a lengthy, highly detailed set of sexual rules, you’re not just expelled, you may also be shamed in the media as a sexual predator and stained for life.”
But, but, but, the ‘peen was meant to run FREE! Oh woe! The onerous burden of consent you must really know how Atlas feels eh? The president of Shitistan just called, he wants you to stop ruining his country’s good name…
We are not done with you yet, douche-nozzle in training. How dare you compare the shaming of sexual predators with victims of rape. How the ever loving frack do you do this? Have you discovered some sort of dark energy that requires you to have your head firmly embedded in your ass?
“Presumably, the government has decided that the need to avoid further traumatizing victims trumps an accused’s right to question the accuser. The intent behind all this is laudable. I say that as the father of a daughter who just graduated from university. But what the universities are doing is also frightening, and I say that as the father of a son who is going into his senior year.”
Shorter Douche McAsshat: My male right to a woman’s body is being violated, changing behaviour to make people aware of boundaries and personhood infringes on my right to be a dude.
“Not only are universities all over America substituting their administrators for police and courts, they are attempting, with the best of intentions, to parse and regulate human behaviour down to the least gesture and syllable.”
Overcoming patriarchal constructs is HARD, dipshit. If it was a walk in the park, unlike now because of your whinge-baby-mantrums dressed up as a noble defence of the status-quo keep getting in the way of progress, we’d be over the idea that consent is some sort of weird idea requiring two Rosetta stones and the wisdom of the ancients to decipher.
“Alas, this is not a public debate that encourages critical writing.”
You don’t say.
“After a White House task force declared in April that one in five women on campus has been sexually assaulted, and that only 12 per cent of sexual assaults on campus are reported, Dr. Mark Perry, an economics prof at the University of Michigan, ridiculed Washington’s math by using actual sexual assault figures from three schools.”
“Another key fact Perry’s analysis misses is that colleges only track certain types of sexual assault in their numbers. Typically colleges only report assaults that occurred on campus and/or assaults in which the accused perpetrator was also a student at that university. So, again, we expect the numbers tracked by a university to be smaller than the number of assaults their students actually experience and report to local police.
The take home point is that the number tracked by the college would only be a fraction of the assaults that George and Mark are using as a comparison. The mismatch doesn’t mean the prevalence figures are wrong — it’s that they have compared a select group of cases that are tracked by a university to a wider group of assaults that their students experience and report to local police.”
Whoops – hate to deflate your confirmation bias Neil.
“Conservative commentator George Will, a sober analyst if there ever was one,[...]“
As long as you’re into mostly irrelevant arch-conservative altiloquent drivel. His level of poisonous bullshit is an post unto itself. See the Michigan Chronicle for rebut of his asinine diatribe.
“[...] then cited Perry’s critique in a column, suggesting that colleges, with their extra-legal sexual conduct rules, and their “trigger warnings” about offensive languages in textbooks, and their campus speech codes, are treating students like fragile hothouse flowers, rather than preparing them for the world.”
Ah yes, the real world where, you know, patriarchy and misogyny are the gold standards and you just need to abide by them. Treating Patriarchy as some sort of inevitable force of nature is bullshit Neil, stop it.
“Four U.S. senators promptly blasted Will as an antique who trivializes and legitimizes sexual assault, perpetuating myths created by victimizers.”
See, we do have progress in society.
“There was similar blowback last year, when journalist Emily Yoffe had the temerity to suggest that while sexual assault must be punished young women might also want to avoid getting blind drunk Yoffe quoted Anne Coughlin, a professor at the University of Virginia and an expert on feminist jurisprudence, as saying more or less the same thing. Those who believe there is a rape culture on American campuses have called that “blaming the victim.”
Because blaming the victim totally doesn’t happen… Neil saying shit like this that puts you into multiple facepalm territory, your ignorance is dangerous and you should stop spreading it around.
“But every parent should certainly consider this: If the complications of human sexuality and its often ambiguous mating dance defy consistent definition by the intellectual candlepower of entire university faculties, what advice should you give children who might still be in their teens as they head off to college?”
What, exactly, is ambigious about consent? If you have it great, if you don’t, stop proceedings immediately. If you’re not sure, stop proceedings immediately. My God, the epic complexity of this notion – we need more SCIENCE on this one dudes…
“his would be mine if my son or daughter were ever to ask: If you feel the need for a sexual adventure, seek it off campus, where police have expert investigators and courts guarantee your rights. Due process, in other words.”
Because expert investigators and the courts are always so darn sympathetic to the victims of rape. I have no words for the sheer amount of stupid you’re doling out in your ‘advice’.
“And avoid sex with fellow students, period. It’s just too risky nowadays.”
Because changing the misogynistic ground rules of society is much much much MUCH too hard, so take your balls on go your own way. If this perchance helps exclude your type of thinking from the next generations gene pool, I think we can call your strategy a win for everyone.
“Six years ago, when I sat down and wrote the essay “Men Explain Things to Me,” here’s what surprised me: though I began with a ridiculous example of being patronized by a man, I ended with rapes and murders. We tend to treat violence and the abuse of power as though they fit into airtight categories: harassment, intimidation, threat, battery, rape, murder. But I realize now that what I was saying is: it’s a slippery slope. That’s why we need to address that slope, rather than compartmentalizing the varieties of misogyny and dealing with each separately. Doing so has meant fragmenting the picture, seeing the parts, not the whole.
A man acts on the belief that you have no right to speak and that you don’t get to define what’s going on. That could just mean cutting you off at the dinner table or the conference. It could also mean telling you to shut up, or threatening you if you open your mouth, or beating you for speaking, or killing you to silence you forever. He could be your husband, your father, your boss or editor, or the stranger at some meeting or on the train, or the guy you’ve never seen who’s mad at someone else but thinks “women” is a small enough category that you can stand in for “her.” He’s there to tell you that you have no rights.
Threats often precede acts, which is why the targets of online rape and death threats take them seriously, even though the sites that allow them and the law enforcement officials that generally ignore them apparently do not. Quite a lot of women are murdered after leaving a boyfriend or husband who believes he owns her and that she has no right to self-determination.”
Go read the rest.
The really bestest-awesomest part of discussing rape culture with dudes (and select handmaidens of the patriarchy) is their abject denial of rape culture. Yet, objectively, the culture we live in is a rape culture and this study adds even more support to what many feminists have been saying for so many years.
“(April 2014) – New evidence from the journal Gender & Society helps explain what women’s advocates have argued for years – that women report abuse at much lower rates than it actually occurs. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), 44% of victims are under the age of 18, and 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to police.
The study, “Normalizing Sexual Violence: Young Women Account for Harassment and Abuse,” will appear in the June 2014 issue of Gender & Society, a top-ranked journal in Gender Studies and Sociology. The findings reveal that girls and young women rarely reported incidents of abuse because they regarded sexual violence against them as normal.
Sociologist Heather Hlavka at Marquette University analyzed forensic interviews conducted by Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) with 100 youths between the ages of three and 17 who may have been sexually assaulted. Hlavka found that the young women experienced forms of sexual violence in their everyday lives including: objectification, sexual harassment, and abuse. Often times they rationalized these incidents as normal.
During one interview, referring to boys at school, a 13 year-old girl states:
“They grab you, touch your butt and try to, like, touch you in the front, and run away, but it’s okay, I mean… I never think it’s a big thing because they do it to everyone.”
The researcher’s analysis led her to identify several reasons why young women do not report sexual violence.
- Girls believe the myth that men can’t help it. The girls interviewed described men as unable to control their sexual desires, often framing men as the sexual aggressors and women as the gatekeepers of sexual activity. They perceived everyday harassment and abuse as normal male behavior, and as something to endure, ignore, or maneuver around.
- Many of the girls said that they didn’t report the incident because they didn’t want to make a “big deal” of their experiences. They doubted if anything outside of forcible heterosexual intercourse counted as an offense or rape.
- Lack of reporting may be linked to trust in authority figures. According to Hlavka, the girls seem to have internalized their position in a male-dominated, sexual context and likely assumed authority figures would also view them as “bad girls” who prompted the assault.
- Hlavka found that girls don’t support other girls when they report sexual violence. The young women expressed fear that they would be labeled as a “whore” or “slut,” or accused of exaggeration or lying by both authority figures and their peers, decreasing their likelihood of reporting sexual abuse.
The young women in the study provided insight into how some youth perceived their experiences of sexual violence and harassment during sexual encounters with men. In particular, the study pointed to how the law and popular media may lead to girls’ interpreting their abuse as normal. According to the author, policymakers, educators, and lawmakers need to address how sexual violence is actually experienced by youth beginning at very young ages in order to increase reporting practices, and to protect children from the everyday violence and harassment all too common in their lives.”
“You want to say Hi to the cute girl on the subway. How will she react? Fortunately, I can tell you with some certainty, because she’s already sending messages to you. Looking out the window, reading a book, working on a computer, arms folded across chest, body away from you = do not disturb. So, y’know, don’t disturb her. Really. Even to say that you like her hair, shoes, or book. A compliment is not always a reason for women to smile and say thank you. You are a threat, remember? You are Schrödinger’s Rapist. Don’t assume that whatever you have to say will win her over with charm or flattery. Believe what she’s signaling, and back off.
If you speak, and she responds in a monosyllabic way without looking at you, she’s saying, “I don’t want to be rude, but please leave me alone.” You don’t know why. It could be “Please leave me alone because I am trying to memorize Beowulf.” It could be “Please leave me alone because you are a scary, scary man with breath like a water buffalo.” It could be “Please leave me alone because I am planning my assassination of a major geopolitical figure and I will have to kill you if you are able to recognize me and blow my cover.”
On the other hand, if she is turned towards you, making eye contact, and she responds in a friendly and talkative manner when you speak to her, you are getting a green light. You can continue the conversation until you start getting signals to back off.
The fourth point: If you fail to respect what women say, you label yourself a problem.
There’s a man with whom I went out on a single date—afternoon coffee, for one hour by the clock—on July 25th. In the two days after the date, he sent me about fifteen e-mails, scolding me for non-responsiveness. I e-mailed him back, saying, “Look, this is a disproportionate response to a single date. You are making me uncomfortable. Do not contact me again.” It is now October 7th. Does he still e-mail?
Yeah. He does. About every two weeks.
This man scores higher on the threat level scale than Man with the Cockroach Tattoos. (Who, after all, is guilty of nothing more than terrifying bad taste.) You see, Mr. E-mail has made it clear that he ignores what I say when he wants something from me. Now, I don’t know if he is an actual rapist, and I sincerely hope he’s not. But he is certainly Schrödinger’s Rapist, and this particular Schrödinger’s Rapist has a probability ratio greater than one in sixty. Because a man who ignores a woman’s NO in a non-sexual setting is more likely to ignore NO in a sexual setting, as well.
So if you speak to a woman who is otherwise occupied, you’re sending a subtle message. It is that your desire to interact trumps her right to be left alone. If you pursue a conversation when she’s tried to cut it off, you send a message. It is that your desire to speak trumps her right to be left alone. And each of those messages indicates that you believe your desires are a legitimate reason to override her rights.
For women, who are watching you very closely to determine how much of a threat you are, this is an important piece of data.”
an excerpt from Phaedra Starling’s “Schrödinger’s Rapist: or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women without being maced”
“Can every one of my male followers read this? And please, before you get defensive (“I would never rape anyone!”) keep in mind, women being afraid of Shrodinger’s Rapists (oh my god i still can’t get over the encompassing brilliance of this phrase) is a conditioned, learned response from being immersed in rape culture and the evolution of sexism and sexual violence in our society from the day we’re born. And unfortunately, it’s very difficult to unlearn without the efforts of all genders to dismantle it.
Which is where you come in.”
You see it every day, the micro aggressions against people, the sexism, the put-downs. Make your corner of the world a safe space for everyone, it is the least you can do as a decent human being.
Sometimes you just can’t pass up an opportunity to signal boost an important message. Trigger warnings for Rape, Sexual Abuse, Rape Culture
Original Essay: The Not Rape Epidemic
Latoya’s Note: So, as promised, here’s the original version of the essay that appears in Yes Means Yes. If you see this popping up in your reader, I do not recommend you read it at work.
Rape is only four letters, one small syllable, and yet it is one of the hardest words to coax from your lips when you need it most.
Entering our teenage years in the sex saturated ’90s, my friends and I knew tons about rape. We knew to always be aware while walking, to hold your keys out as a possible weapon against an attack. We knew that we shouldn’t walk alone at night, and if we absolutely had to, we were to avoid shortcuts, dark paths, or alleyways. We even learned ways to combat date rape, even though none of us were old enough to have friends that drove, or to be invited to parties with alcohol. We memorized the mantras, chanting them like a yogic sutra, crafting our words into a protective charm with which to ward off potential rapists: do not walk alone at night. Put a napkin over your drink at parties. Don’t get into cars with strange men. If someone tries to abduct you, scream loudly and try to attack them because a rapist tries to pick women who are easy targets.
Yes, we learned a lot about rape.
What we were not prepared for was everything else. Rape was something we could identify, an act with a strict definition and two distinct scenarios. Not rape was something else entirely.
Not rape was all those other little things that we experienced everyday and struggled to learn how to deal with those situations. In those days, my ears were filled with secrets that were not my own, the confessions of not rapes experienced by the girls I knew then and the women I know now.
When I was twelve, my best friend at the time had met a guy and lied to him about her age. She told him she was sixteen and she did have the body to back it up. Some “poor hapless” guy sleeping with her accidentally would make complete sense – except for the fact that guy was twenty-five. He eventually slept with her, taking her virginity, even after he figured out how old we were. After all, it’s kind of a dead giveaway if you’re picking your girlfriend up at a middle school.
Another friend of mine friend shocked me one day after a guy (man really) walked past us and she broke down into a sobbing heap where we stood. She confided in me that when she was eleven she had a child, but her mother had forced her to put the child up for adoption. The baby’s father was the guy who had nonchalantly passed her by on the street. We were thirteen at the time, a few weeks shy of entering high school.
Later, I found out that she was at school when she met her future abuser/baby daddy. He was aware she was about eleven – what other age group is enrolled in Middle School? At the time, this guy was about nineteen. He strung her along in this grand relationship fantasy, helping her to cut school as they drove around and had sex in the back of his car. When she got pregnant with his child, he dropped her. However, living in the same area means she would run into him about once a month, normally leading to an outburst of tears or screaming fits on her end and cool indifference (with the occasional “you were just a slut anyway”) from him.
In high school, I had two Asian friends I was fairly close with. We would often end up hanging out after school at the mall with all the other teenagers our age. Occasionally, we would take the bus to the really nice mall in the upper class neighborhood, so we could be broke in style. It was there – in the affluent neighborhood – that my Asian friends dealt with the worst of their harassment. I can remember that each friend, on different occasions, was approached by older white men in their thirties and forties and quizzed about their ethnic backgrounds, ages, and dating status. These men always seemed to slip cards into their hands, asking them to call them later. My friends smiled demurely, always waiting until the man had gone before throwing their number away.
The years kept passing and the stories kept coming.
My ex-boyfriend had a friend who had been dating the same girl for about seven years. I found out the girl was eighteen at the time of their breakup. Eighteen minus seven equals what? The girl was eleven when they began dating while the man involved was nineteen. When the relationship ended, he was twenty-seven. I expressed disgust, and my ex had told me that while everyone else in their friend circle had felt the same way, the girl’s parents were fine with it, even allowing the guy to spend the night at their home. “Besides,” my ex offered nonchalantly, “she had the body of a grown woman at age eleven.”
Not rape came in other many other forms as well. No one escaped – all my friends had some kind of experience with it during their teen years.
Not rape was being pressured into losing your virginity in a swimming pool pump room to keep your older boyfriend happy.
Not rape was waking up in the middle of the night to find a trusted family friend in bed with you – and having nightmares about something that you can’t remember during the daylight hours.
Not rape was having your mother’s boyfriends ask you for sexual favors.
Not rape was feeling the same group of boys grope you between classes, day after day after day.
Not rape was being twelve years old, having a “boyfriend” who was twenty-four and trading sex for free rides, pocket money, Reeboks, and a place to stay when your mother was tripping.
My friends and I confided in each other, swapping stories, sharing out pain, while keeping it all hidden from the adults in our lives. After all, who could we tell? This wasn’t rape – it didn’t fit the definitions. This was Not rape. We should have known better. We were the ones who would take the blame. We would be punished, and no one wanted that. So, these actions went on, aided by a cloak of silence.
For me, Not rape came in the form of a guy from around the neighborhood. I remember that they called him Puffy because he looked like the rapper Sean “Puffy” Combs. He was friends with a guy I was friends with, T. I was home alone on hot summer day when I heard a knock on the patio door. I peeked through the blinds and recognized Puffy, so I opened the door a few inches. He asked if I had seen T around, and I told him no. The conversation continued, the contents so trivial that they are lost to memory.
So, I have no idea why he chose to pause and look me full in the face before saying:
“I can do whatever I want to you.”
My youthful braggadocio got the best of me, so I spat out, “Oh, what the fuck ever,” moving to pull the door closed.
Quick as a cobra, his hand darted past the screen, catching my wrist as I reached for the latch. A bit of tugging quickly turned sinister as I realized he wasn’t playing around.
He pinned me in the doorway, forcing me down to the floor barely inside my apartment. Holding my arm behind my back with one hand as I struggled against him, he calmly, deliberately allowed his free hand to explore my body. He squeezed my still budding breasts, then slipped his hands down my pants, taking his time while feeling up my behind. When he was finished, he let me up, saying again, “I can do whatever I want.” After he finished his cold display of power, he walked away.
After he left, I closed the balcony door, locked it, and put the security bar in the window, even though it was broad daylight.
I felt disgusting and dirty and used. I remember wanting to take a shower, but instead taking a seat on the couch trying to process what had happened and what I could do next.
Fighting him was out, as he had already proved he was stronger than I was. I considered telling some of my guy friends, but I quickly realized I had nothing to tell them. After all, I wasn’t raped, and it would really come to my word against his. As I was the neighborhood newcomer, I was at a disadvantage on that front. Telling my mom was out as well – I’d only get into trouble for opening the door for boys while she was at work.
I gritted my teeth in frustration. There was nothing I could do to him that wouldn’t come back on me worse. So I got up, took my shower, and stayed silent.
A few weeks later, I ran into T and some other guys from the neighborhood while I was walking to the store with one of my friends. T informed us that they were going to hang out in one of the empty apartments in the neighborhood. This was a popular activity in my old neighborhood – some guys would normally find a way to gain entry into one of the vacant apartments or townhouses and then use the place as a clubhouse for a few days.
My friend was game, but I felt myself hesitate. The memory of my Not rape was still fresh in my mind and T was still friends with Puffy. There was also the possibility that Puffy would be there in the apartment, and that was a confrontation I did not want. I refused, and my friend was angry at me for passing up the chance to hang out with the cutest boys in the neighborhood. Since I had never told this particular friend what happened, I shrugged off her anger and made an excuse to head home.
A few days after that meeting, I was on the school bus headed to morning classes. The local news report was on and the announcement that came across the airwaves stunned the normally rowdy bus into silence. The voice on the radio informed us of a brutal rape that occurred in our neighborhood. Due to the savage nature of the crime, all six of the teenage defendants would be tried as adults. The names were read and a collective gasp rose from the bus – T’s name was on that list! Jay, a guy who knew about the friendly flirtation I had going with T, leaned over and joked “Uh-huh – T’s gonna get you!”
I remained silent as my mind was racing. The strongest, most persistent thought rose to the top of my mind – oh my God, that could have been me.
At the time, I didn’t know how right I was.
A few years later, I was a high school junior on top of the world. For the most part, memories of my Not rape had been buried in the back of my mind somewhere. My third year in high school was consumed by two major responsibilities: student government and mock trial.
When I was sixteen, I knew I was destined to be a lawyer and I took advantage of every opportunity that would push me toward that goal. I signed up for mock trial and as part of our responsibilities our trial team was supposed to watch a criminal proceeding in action.
On the day we arrived at the local courthouse, there were three trials on the docket: a traffic case, a murder case, and a rape case. Nixing the traffic case, we trouped into the first courtroom which held the murder trial, only to find that the trial was on hold, pending pre-trial motions. We turned back and went into the courtroom where the rape trial was being held.
Never did it cross my mind that I would walk through the doors to see to picture of my Not rapist, captured in a Polaroid and displayed on a whiteboard with the other five rapists being tried. The prosecution was speaking, so we were quickly caught up on the specifics of the case.
While the rape had occurred in 1997 and most of the defendants – including T – had been convicted in 1998, this was the trial to determine the fate of the last of the six, a man who claimed he had left the scene before any crime had occurred.
Through word of mouth, I had learned that T had been sentenced and he would not be eligible for parole until he was forty-six years old. (I have since learned that T should be released by the end of this year. His victim should be about 21 years of age.) I had also learned that the crime was a gang rape, but knew no other details.
The prosecutor pulled out a picture of the girl the six boys had brutalized. In the first photo she was bright-eyed and neat looking, her dark hair pulled into a high ponytail which complimented her fair skin. She was dressed in athletic casual wear, as if she was on her way to a track meet.
The prosecutor then pulled out a second picture, taken post assault. Her face was a mass of purple and red bruises. One of her eyes was blood red – the attorney informed us that she had received extensive damage to the blood vessels in her eyes. The other eye was swollen shut. Her lips were also bloodied and bruised. He placed the two photographs side by side. From photo to photo, the girl had been rendered unrecognizable.
Quietly laying out the facts, the prosecutor deftly painted a tale of horror. The girl had met T and another boy (my Not rapist? I still didn’t know his government name) on a bus. The boys had convinced her to come with them and they led her to a vacant apartment. Unknown to the girl, there were four other men also hanging out that day. She was forced to give oral sex to some of the men, and then she was beaten, raped, and sodomized. She was found in the apartment unconscious, surrounded by used condoms, semen, and fecal matter.
My blood ran cold as I tried to process what I was hearing.
T was capable of this? The prosecutor was still speaking, and he made mention that there appeared to be one main ringleader with the other five guys going along for the ride. My teammates sat in rapt attention while I tried to figure out how soon we could leave. On one hand, I realized that my Not rapist and T were behind bars already, instead of roaming the streets to do this to someone else.
And yet, a part of me wondered if I should have spoken up. If I had told someone, anyone, could I have prevented this from happening? I regarded the girl’s picture once again. It is pretty rare to see the expression “beaten to a bloody pulp” illustrated in real life. I should have said something, I thought to myself, I should have tried.
My internal monologue was interrupted by the defense attorney taking the floor. He pointed out his client from the photos lining the wall, and calmly explained how his client was present in the apartment, but left before the attack began. He built his case, explaining that his client was generally a good kid, but outnumbered, and that his client opted to leave the area instead of participate in any wrongdoing. He then turned to the jury and said:
- You will also hear that —– wasn’t such a good girl after all. You will hear that she skipped school. You will hear that she smoked marijuana. You will hear that she willingly skipped school to go smoke marijuana with two boys she had just met.
My mouth fell open out of shock. There wasn’t even a question of consent in this case – the damage to the girl’s face attested to that. And yet, here was this defense attorney trying to assassinate the victim’s character. For what? Why was what she was doing that day even relevant in the context of what she experienced?
The defense attorney finished his opening statement and the judge started dispensing instructions to the jury. I forced myself to swallow the bile in my throat. As the judge dismissed the court for a break, I scooted out of the room and took a deep breath of air. My team went for lunch, and I persuaded them not to go back to watch the next part of the trial.
That day in court was the day I fully understood the concept of being raped twice – first during the act and then later during the court proceedings. That was also the day I realized that telling someone about my Not rape would have netted a similar, if not more dismissive response. I had no evidence of the act, no used condom wrapper, no rape kit, no forced penetration.
If the defense attorney was attempting to sow the seeds of doubt in the face of indisputable evidence, what would have happened if I had chosen to speak up?
This is how the Not Rape epidemic spreads – through fear and silence, which become complicit in perpetuating the behaviors described here. Women of all backgrounds are affected by these kinds of acts, regardless of race, ethnicity, or social class. So many of us carry the scars of the past with us into our daily lives. Most of us have pushed these stories to the back of our minds, trying to have some semblance of a normal life that includes romantic and sexual relationships. However, waiting just behind the tongue is story after story of the horrors other women experience and hide deep within the self behind a protective wall of silence.
As I continue to discuss these issues, I continue to be surprised when revealing my story reveals an outpouring of emotion or confession from other women. When I first began discussing my Not Rape and all of the baggage that comes with it, I expected to be blamed or not to be believed.
I never expected that each woman I told would respond with her own story in kind.
I am twenty-four years old now, ten years removed from my Not rape. I still think of the girl who was assaulted and hope that she was still able to have something of a normal life. As I matured, I came to understand more about the situation. As the years passed, my shame turned to anger, and I began learning the tools I could have used to fight back.
At age fourteen, I lacked the words to speak my experience into reality. Without those words, I was rendered silent and impotent, burdened with the knowledge of what did not happen, but unable to free myself by talking about what did happen.
I cannot change the experiences of the past.
But, I can teach these words, so that they may one day be used by a young girl to save herself.
Not rape comes in many forms – it is often known by other names. What happened to me is called a sexual assault. It is not the same as rape, but it is damaging and painful. My friends experienced statutory rape, molest, and coercion.
What happened in the courtroom is a byproduct of rape culture – when what happens to women in marginalized, when beyond a shadow of a doubt still isn’t enough, when your past, manner of dress, grade point average or intoxication level are used to excuse the despicable acts of sexual violence inflicted upon you by another.
Internalized shame is what I experienced, that heavy feeling that it was my fault for allowing the sexual assault to happen. There was a fear that if I spoke up, people would look at me differently, or worse, wouldn’t believe me at all.
Without these words, those experiences feed off each other, perpetuating a culture of silence and allowing these attacks to continue.
With the proper tools, we equip our girls to speak of their truth and to end the silence that is complicit in rape culture.
Teenaged girls need to know that dating an older man will not make them cooler, and that older man cannot rescue them from their parents. Teenaged boys should be able to help as well, trying to keep their friends away from predators. (My male friends did this for me a few times if they were around, coming to my aid of some guy started acting up. For some reason, the simple presence of another man is enough to make these kind of men leave.) Adult men should be cautioned about the effects of the actions and how most of these girls are not of the age of consent. And parents should be made aware that their children are being targeted by predatory men and that they should stay vigilant.
Adults, particularly older women, should take an active interest in the young girls they know.
My boyfriend has two younger sisters. One of them recently entered her teenage years. Her body started to develop and she has attracted more male attention. I notice small changes in her – how she looks at the floor a lot more than she used to, or how she seems uncomfortable going anywhere without a group of girlfriends. She still looks like an average teenager but she is often hesitant and uncomfortable, unless she is around her peers. However, I knew her before she developed so quickly. And I notice the change that a year (as well as taking the metro to and from school) starts. I’m fairly certain she’s trying to navigate the minefield of male attention she receives.
After all, I’ve walked that same field as well.
Finally, we need to cast a critical eye on how rape culture is perpetuated on an institutional level. From how hospitals distribute rape kits to keeping tags on questionable verdicts, we must take the lead in telling the criminal justice system that rape apologists and enablers will not be tolerated.
But above all, we must give girls the tools they need to defend themselves against sexual predators.
The small things we can do – paying attention, giving the words they need, instilling the confidence in which to handle these situations and providing a non judgmental ear when a student or teen approaches us with a problem – may be the best, an perhaps only, weapons they have to continue the fight against this epidemic.
Find your helmets and the hazmat suits dear readers, we’re going into the high back-country of mendacity, where the stupid is rugged and the ignorance is thick. Yes, we’re going to go visit our dear friend Matthew again because it is so rare to find such a deluded ball of procacity and self-delusion all in the same person.
But before we go on our merry gasconade we should warn the uninitiated – Matthew is a rebarbative hunk of misogynistic shit, his hatred of women runs astonishingly deep and his words can be quite shocking for the uninitiated. Consider yourself warned. Let loose the RPOJ from its sacred scabbard and into the ferocious maw of puerile thought-fap we go.
Oh wow. Even the title is filled to the brim with malevolent idiocy. Pro-tip Matthew – women are people not objects for your wang-prophecies.
Modern “feminists” have this controversial idea known as “rape culture” that’s been bothering me for a while.
There is nothing controversial about rape culture fart-knocker. What merits attention is the lengths half-wits like yourself will go to deny the reality of what is happening to women in our culture, as I’m pretty sure this is the direction you’re going to take.
I did a little research to try to figure out what exactly they mean by it, and I was disturbed by what a bleak and one-sided picture they paint.
Oh really? I’m curious as to the depths of your research, as to date it has been a indisputably shoddy train wreck of fail. But, the optimist in me says maybe ‘this’ time you won’t bollocks things up, so let’s investigate what you’ve uncovered.
What some of them seem to mean when they say “rape culture” is:
- that women and girls who dress in tight/revealing/slutty clothing are supposedly criticized (“slut shamed”) for being slutty
*Looks at title of post – looks at this sentence* – You have not a fucking clue what you’re talking about.
- that if these women or girls ever do get raped then they will supposedly also be blamed (“victim blamed”) for it
Wow – still no clue. Par for the course for Matthew whose hyper-skeptical glasses have been set to 11 for all these mysterious claims made by feminists.
- that the rapist will supposedly not be blamed at all and will just be allowed to go free
Facts suck don’t they Matthew, especially ones that don’t agree with your fevered view of the world. Understand one thing douche-nugget, most rapists will never spend a day in jail. (Source.)
- that supposedly the key to ending this “culture” of rape is to continue to dress like sluts in order to convince people that this is just a normal way for women and girls to behave
Err..no. The key to ending rape culture is for men (and the societal norms that enable them) to stop raping women. This is not rocket science, Skippy.
But here are the problems I have with this, and it falls on both sides of the issue.
A fair and balanced analysis I’m sure….*facepalm*
First, I hate women and girls who dress in tight/revealing clothing, and I don’t mind that they are criticized (“shamed”), because they are creating a public nuisance. Showing off your body causes sexual frustration.
Important notes from your boner are irrelevant to how women look and dress. They are not responsible for your man feelings, not now, not ever. Try and act like a fracking grown up for once in your life.
This is biological sexual attraction, and if you don’t understand that then you are either a sex addict who has been exposed to sex so much that you’ve become desensitized to it or some asexual person who had almost no sex drive to begin with.
Ah, so why aren’t you out killing some meat for your clan in the jungle? What is it with dudes trying to use biology to justify their shitty behaviour? We live in this thing called society and is marginally civilized if you can’t handle that shit, then leave.
To what I think is a normal male, it’s like an itch that needs to be scratched.
Funny how your idea of “normal” coincides with what you believe to be true. Almost like it is a self-reinforcing cycle of ignorance and stupidity. You need to meet these guys – Dunning-Kruger – you’d get along smashingly.
Sexual frustration in turn can tempt a person to engage in unhealthy and desperate behavior such as impulsive forms of consensual sex, porn addiction, or solicitation of prostitution. Most of this is legal in some sense or another (depending on your geography), but it’s all arguably a form of humiliation, and tight/revealing clothing indirectly promotes it. In other words, women and girls who dress like sluts indirectly harm other women.
Wow how about you take a step out of the cradle and claim your agency instead of blaming women for all of your problems.
Second, there’s the issue of blame. I actually believe that, objectively, tight/revealing clothing will increase a woman’s chances of being raped. It’s simply a combination of biological sexual attraction and self-control that some men lack. “Feminists” who advise women and girls to dress as slutty as they want and not care what people think are really doing them a disservice and endangering them. I am not “blaming” victims, but I am trying to give them some advice.
Wow, thanks but no thanks. Women hear shit like this everyday – and it is shit – because it places the onus on them for being raped as opposed to those who are responsible – the fucking rapists. Of course, blaming the victim is nothing new under the sun.
Finally, there’s the heart of the issue, the practical aspect of “blame”, which is how to deal with rapists. I actually don’t think even a slutty woman deserves to be raped. Rape is way too harsh a punishment for any behavior, no matter how foolish or irresponsible.
Redemption? No cookie for you! Saying rape is bad at the end an article that blames women for being raped wins you nothing but scorn and contempt.
No one deserves to be traumatized like that, which is why the rapist must still be punished. If the rapist were not punished, then he or future rapists might be encouraged to try to repeat the same horrible act (which I just said should not be allowed to happen to anyone regardless of how reckless her behavior was).
How magnanimous of you.
So, I say: (a) punish the perpetrator, (b) advise the victim to be more careful in the future, and (c) continue to criticize women and girls who dress or act sluttishly because this last point is really a separate problem.
One out of three is still a fail.
I’m not on the side of “rape culture”, but I’m not on the side of “feminism” either. I instead choose what I think is a realistic and sensible medium to encourage a more peaceful society.
Oh yah, you and rape culture are bros, dude; let me assure you of that. What you “think” is usually weapons grade bullshite with a heaping side of misogyny that attempts to make women responsible for shitty male behaviour. Let me know when that tune changes; then we can start talking about realistic and sensible.