In my lifetime great strides have been made regarding how our country treats those who are sexually harassed and assaulted. Second Wave Feminism fought to see domestic abuse recognized by law and government services as a social issue. Sexual Assault Centres opened in cities across the country, with trained staff able to provide various resources to victims of sexual assault. It became illegal to have sex with your spouse without their active consent. Sexual interaction with someone you have authority over, particularly when that someone is a minor, became of interest to lawmakers.
All of this is wonderful, helping to right a wrong in our society. That wrong is Rape. It is sexual assault. It is sexual harassment.
Sadly, it is not enough. Our society is still stuck in this mindset that rape is a debate that one can choose to be on the “Witch Hunt Side” or on the “Rape Culture Side”.
The witch hunt side argues that victims have a personal responsibility to not get assaulted. Furthermore, taking about consent and sexual predators who demonstrate a history of sexual aggression is akin to when the church sought out witches. There is much concern regarding false reports (which are less than 4 percent, to be clear) and arguments that until one “calls the cops” are “is proven to be guilty” no social action should be taken. This side likes to talk about “innocent until proven guilty” when discussing the alleged rapist, but not when discussing the victim. They are often labeled rape apologists due to their arguments that maybe the victim is just have second thoughts, maybe they weren’t clear in their “no”. That perhaps it is a misunderstanding, a lover’s quarrel, sour grapes and not really rape at all.
The rape culture side argues that some people are predators who seek places where they will be permitted to hunt new victims. That those in charge of spaces where this occurs have a responsibility to remove persons who are accused of assault or sexual predation from the space. They further argue that rape is not done by victims (by the way they dress, act, or where they go) but by rapists. They are often labeled Social Justice Warriors or Consent Crusaders because they seem to be constantly talking about rape, rape culture, consent and the social issues surrounding them.
As someone who very recently was the victim of sexual harassment, sexual assault and assault by a person who has for over a decade been exhibiting a pattern of sexual aggression in a space where the organizers refused to take action (because personal responsibility, because call the cops, because we are not police, because no formal complaint, because he volunteers a lot, because he is our friend, because he is one of the organizers, because innocent until proven guilty), I can tell you first hand how shitty this is.
To be told, “That is just B. He is just like that. Everyone knows to just hug him and then avoid him.” When I complained that this person had grabbed me then reacted with fury when I refused to engage him. (incident 1).
To be told, “Well, I don’t know who you could talk to. He’s actually in charge of this space today.” When I was outraged that he had put his hand on me in a sexual, non consensual manner and outright ignored my verbal demands that he leave me alone. (incident 2)
To be scolded that I should “Be an adult and work this out with him” and “to go discuss this with him like a grown up, not tattle on him” and then admonished that “perhaps (I am) not grown up enough to be here” when I reported that he was seeking me out repeatedly and deliberately in order to invade my space, grab me, demand hugs, try to touch me, try to kiss me, make rude statements too me and so forth, regardless of how many times I rejected his ‘advances’ and asked him to leave me alone. (incident 3).
To be told, after an incident in which B came up behind me, snaked an arm around my neck, jerking me off balance, then kissed my head and wandered off as if nothing had occured,, that “We knew he was doing these things but couldn’t do anything until someone formally reported” and then told that I was “wrong to have shared this information outside of (the club)” and might be facing “punitive measures” for “sharing information of members”.
To have other people telling me that they can’t ‘take sides’ until he is ‘proven guilty’. To watch the community I am involved in split into team “witch hunt” and team “rape culture”.
Well, I can tell you it sucked.
It sucked to know that not only did B harass and assault me, but he has been doing this and more for years. He has raped. He has assaulted. He has harassed. Not one or two people, but dozens. To know this, and to know that the organizers all knew this as well but did nothing… It sucks.
It sucks more to be told “you are lucky” because he didn’t rape me. Yeah, I am very grateful that I was never alone with him, that things were not ‘worse’, but your words minimize my experience, as if my wounds over having my rights to my own body ignored don’t count due to lack of penetration. As if my panic response anytime someone is behind me is of no moment because no penetration occurred. As if my bad dreams, flashbacks, constant emotional state are a weakness on my part cuz hey.. it wasn’t rape.
To watch people I thought had mutual positive regard for me line up to take turns telling me that I “need to take responsibility” and that I am inciting “witch hunts” sucked.
So to those people, you played a huge role in who I am today, A consent Crusader, a SJW and I am not going to be shutting up any time soon.
You told me that I cannot report outside of the club as it is against membership rules to tell a non member that someone is a member. I told you to keep your membership and reported him to the police the same damn day.
The police are proceeding with charges. He has been arrested.
So know that I have “gone to the cops” and “taken personal responsibility” lets look at what rape culture looks like in Canada.
This is going to be a sex biased conversation, for the simple reason that sex has such a drastic impact on who is victimized and who is the assessor. Persons perceived as female make up over 80 percent of sexual assault victims. Non Disabled, Heterosexual men make up less that 4 percent of sexual assault victims.
Those most likely to be raped or otherwise sexually assaulted are (These are somewhat arranged in order from highest risk to lowest risk, but remember, anytime you add “of colour” the risk goes up, and sadly there are situations in which religion increases the risk, or isolation, or poverty etc).
First Nations Females
Females of colour
LGB persons under 25
MalesStudies show that at least one quarter of the women in Canada have been sexually assaulted and on twenty-fifth of the men in Canada have sexually assaulted someone.
Women who are assaulted are more likely to report that they have been assaulted more than once. Men who rape are likely to rape an average of 5.6 persons. Less than 27 percent of sexual assaults are ever reported to the police. If you wonder why, look at how the CJS treats sexual assault.About the perpetrators of sexual assault
96 percent are men.
80 percent are over 18
78 percent knew their victim
50 percent are married or in a committed relationship at the time of the assault.
50 percent are perceived as responsible members of their communities.
44 percent are over 35
35 percent are a close friend of victim
32 percent are a partner or ex of the victim
22 percent are strangers
11 percent are a family member
Next time you are in a public place look around. One in 4 women have been sexually assaulted. 1 in 17 men experience the same. 1 in 25 men have committed sexual assault.