Rape Culture (AKA Why I need feminism)

Rape Culture is a very real thing, and feminism will play a role in ridding us of this culture.

I believe in Rape Culture because when I was eight and told my mommy that my uncle had been trying to get me to show him my privates I was told that “good girls don’t say things like that”. I believe in Rape Culture because later that month when I told my mommy that he was touching me I was made to apologize to my uncle for saying bad things.

No one apologized to me.  The message was clear: In our society it was my job as an eight year old girl to control the urges of my then teen aged uncle.

I believe in Rape Culture because when I was nine my grandmother gave nightly lectures to me, my sisters and my uncle, every night over eight long summer weeks in which she explained that boys have urges they can’t help and Good Girls do not let boys touch them. That Good Girls help boys control themselves by making sure they just don’t let boys do these ‘things’ that boys want to do.

It was assumed that ‘no’ would not be an appropriate nor an effective response.  The message was clear: boys can’t control themselves as they are wild beasts in heat, and when I fail to control them, it is me who is at fault, not them.  Good Girls don’t get assaulted

I believe in Rape Culture because when I was in grade four and a boy shoved me in a snow bank, chocked me and then stole my jacket, leaving me huddled in the snow having an asthma attack, I was told, “He likes you! That is how boys show affection”.  Two years later when that boy and another locked me in a supply room and groped me I was told that this too was a sign of affection.

The message was clear.  My body would be subjected to aggressive acts because that is a sign of love and affection from males.

I believe in Rape Culture because I was told I could not dress in skirts because then boys would be more likely to be ‘inappropriate’. I believe in Rape Culture because it didn’t occur to me that this was anything but rational and I then restricted my daughter’s wardrobe for the same reasons.

The message was clear.  Not only could males not control themselves, but I could prevent sexually inappropriate acts upon my person by dressing carefully, and I must protect my child by dressing her carefully.   Blame the victim, not the perpetrator.

I believe in Rape Culture because when I was raped, the officer who interviewed me kept asking me WHY those men, those upstanding young men would do such a thing. What had I done? Did i know them? Had I had relations with them prior to the ‘incident’.I believe in Rape Culture because although there were witnesses, and those upstanding young men confessed, I was still subjected to a very intimate examination by a male doctor, against my wishes.   Dis-empowerment of the victim is built right  in to the criminal justice system.

The message was very clear.  When a male person is aggressive with a female person, it is the female persons actions that are to be scrutinized.  She is less trustworthy, particularly if the men assaulting her are known to be active in military, sports, policing, politics or any other position of authority.   Twin Myths of Rape, hard at work.

I believe in Rape Culture because when you tell someone you were raped they feel you are being ‘dramatic’, they question your character and in some cases they will no longer speak to you. After all, women lie, and men are honest.

The message is clear.  Victims of sexual assault are offensive to the public when they speak up.  Be silent you dramatic victim! Your pain is worth less than my discomfort in hearing about it.

I believe in Rape Culture because people still say or think that ‘she’s asking for it’ and question what the victim of sexual assault did to and could have done, as if she is the one who perpetrated her own rape.

I believe in Rape Culture because despite the publicity given to the lack of support, the personal attacks, the systemic abuse of rape victims that come forward, people still say that if she didn’t report it she is probably making it up.

I believe in Rape Culture because people still believe that men are not raped, boys are not molested. and discount any information to the contrary.

The message is oh, so fucking clear.  Our bodies are not our own, but it is our personal responsibility to not get raped, to not enjoy consensual sex, for that discredits us if we are assaulted in the future, and to pretend that as men, it can’t be rape, because men are so sexualized that of course they want it!

I need feminism because rape culture is but one of many examples in which my rights take a backseat to the rights of a man. I need feminism because wanting to have sex does not mean that I am a slut or a bad girl. I need feminism because men and women should be in control of their own sexuality, have the right to not be touched, and the right to make decisions regarding their own bodies.

I need feminism because bullying is not a form of affection, rape is not caused by short skirts, and men can be victims too..

I need feminism because I want my children to know that they are worthy of choice, that they own their own actions, are responsible for what they do and not what others do.

I need feminism because no human should feel so entitled by their sexual urges that they force themselves on another. I need feminism because anything other than feminism is making decisions for me, for people, based on what is between their legs, as if those bits of flesh can predetermine who we are, what we are capable of.

Feminism is not about hating men. It is about wanting the same freedoms and rights for all persons regardless of their gender.  Wanting each of us to have the rights to our own bodies, as well as the responsibility for our own actions.  To celebrate that we each have emotions and logic, tears and strength.

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