Some of you all may have watched too many episodes of Law & Order: SVU, because everyone thinks they know everything that happens when a woman gets sexually assaulted.
But have no fear, I’m here to clear some shit up.
Before I begin this, I’m offering a trigger warning. I’m talking about rape/sexual assault/sexual violence, all phrases that I use interchangeably. I’m also talking about rape culture, which I will define later in this post. I’m also going to briefly share a little bit of my own story, which may or may not be similar to yours. By all means, if you do not wish to read this, then it is okay.
If you do read this, PLEASE PRACTICE SELF-CARE, whatever that looks like for you.
One more thing: The perspective I’m coming from in writing this is as a rape crisis volunteer at a women’s center in my college town, and as a sexual assault survivor myself.
Now that that’s out of the way, here we go:
While you as an individual may not support the act of someone raping someone else, everyday rape culture is perpetuated. Rape culture is when society blames a rape on the victim, instead of the actual person who committed the crime.
Rape culture is supported constantly, usually in these three ways:
1) By NOT believing a victim when she or he decides to come forward.
Historically, there have been a few cases of false rape allegations that have ruined the lives of many men. However, now with social media being at an all time high, I doubt that anyone would blatantly lie about something so serious as rape. Recently, I’ve witnessed a rape victim’s picture get shared all over the internet and witnessed her get harassed, all because she decided to come forward. Regardless of what type of person she was or is now, or the circumstances surrounding it, she didn’t deserve to get assaulted and she doesn’t deserve to get bashed on social media. If we are to end rape culture, let’s start by believing these victims.
2) By saying: “Well, you shouldn’t have been drinking,” or “You shouldn’t of dressed this way” or “You shouldn’t of been out by yourself.”
MEN are usually the ones who tell me those things. It infuriates me honestly. I’ve been assaulted three different times in my life, and I’m sure that it had less to do with what I had on, where I was, or what I was drinking. When a person drinks, it is normal for them to possibly get drunk, they may have a hangover, or they may be perfectly tipsy afterwards. What is NOT normal is someone raping you, because when you are drunk you cannot legally consent to sex.
3) By saying: “All these women/pussy out here, a man doesn’t have to rape.”
Yes, the world is full of women who have vaginas, but that does not mean that they are willing to give it to you. Therefore, please understand that rape isn’t about consent. Rape is about extracting power and domination over someone, to make them feel like shit. So while there may be women out here willing to have consensual sex with a man at his whim, if he wanted to go and rape someone, he will.
A more recent way that rape culture is perpetuated is by broadcasting how a woman carries herself sexually as a way to make it excusable for her getting raped. Example:
“She’s a hoe, so can she get raped?”
Women who are deemed promiscuous can very much so get sexually assaulted. Women who engage in any type of sex work (Exotic dancers/strippers, prostitutes/escorts, etc.) can also be raped. Just because these women partake in things that society deems as unmoral, DOES NOT MEAN that they don’t have control over their bodies, or the right to say no.
Another way rape culture is supported is that everyone thinks there is a monolithic way a victim of sexual assault is supposed to act during and after the attack.
I hate to break it to you all…
But there isn’t.
ALL women will NOT fight back, scream, go to the police, tell a family member, or go to the hospital.
Sometimes, the SAFEST thing for a woman to do is to lay there and take it. I know you all are wondering why someone would lay down and get raped, but from my experience, if you had to choose between getting assaulted or getting MURDERED, I’m sure you’d allow the assault to happen. At least you’re alive afterwards.
So I hope at this point, you all are wondering how we can END rape culture, which will hopefully end the act of rape, or at least have harder laws against it.
1) CONSENT. CONSENT. CONSENT. CONSENT. CONSENT. CON-FUCKING-SENT.
Most people don’t know the boundaries that surround consent, so they end up committing an act of assault, even if they did not “intend” to. Consent was so conveniently left out of my sexual education as a child, so I know many people aren’t aware of what it looks, feels and sounds like. Though that does not excuse the behavior of an assaulter, I do feel that if more people were taught consent, then maybe sexual violence would go down.
Consent is a enthusiastic and clear yes. Here’s an example:
Him: “Do you want to have sex?”
Me: “Hell yeah!”
*Me and him proceed to have sex*
Entitlement leads people to thinking that they don’t have to ask someone to have sex, especially if they know them. However, that is the problem. Regardless if you’ve known this person for five minutes or five years, regardless if you all have had a sexual relationship in the past, consent is ALWAYS necessary.
2) Consent is not coercion.
To coerce someone is basically to bribe them into doing whatever you want them to do. For example, if you have to purposefully give someone weed or liquor to have sex with you, then that is NOT consent. If you tell someone to choose between having sex with you or you spreading vicious rumors about them, then that is NOT consent. If you have to manipulate someone in any way to have sex with you, that is NOT consent.
The thing about coercion is that although a person may say yes, it is not because they want to. Many who are coerced into doing something they don’t want to do may do it to protect themselves, their family, their friends, etc.
So when people are all like “Well, if she didn’t want to do it, she would’ve said no.”
If you don’t know the circumstances of what stopped her from saying no, don’t be so quick to judge.
Moving on, we have got to stop believing the shit we see on television. It is statistically proven that 2/3 of rapes and sexual assault are done by people the victim knows. I find this number to be so sad, because out of my three incidents, two of the people that did it were close to me, as in we grew up together, as in they were close family friends. “The Strangers hiding in the bushes” image is commonly perpetuated in the media and leads us not to confront the issues that go on in our neighborhoods, our schools, our churches, hell in our own households.
Whether it’s partner rape, acquaintance rape, or relative rape, we must be real enough with ourselves to realize that people we know and love are quite capable of heinous acts. It is a difficult truth to face, but if we are going to put a stop to rape culture, then we must be real.
So to end this, here are some things to remember:
– If you have any type of heart, you will know why it’s wrong to prey on people who are in a vulnerable state (i.e. drunk or high)
– A woman that you think is a “whore” and out here “giving it to everybody” is not obligated to give it to you. That’s called agency, so you respect her right to say no.
– CONSENT is everything. The other day on Instagram, I saw this guy make a post about how men and women need to agree to have consensual sex on camera and sign a contract, because “bitches be lying about rape.” Things don’t have to be that drastic, but if you can’t ask someone straight up if they want to have sex with you, then maybe you’re just too immature to partake in sexual acts.
– Believe the survivors. Yes, false rape allegations exist. Yes, people have been wrongfully convicted. But those factors do not negate the fact that rape exists and does indeed happen. It is not easy for these brave people to come forward, because they usually feel guilt and shame, because RAPE CULTURE screams that it’s their fault that an assault happened to them. Believing them is so important, trust me, I know.
So now that things are clear, I’m curious: What other ways can rape culture be ended?