The thing about rape culture is that it isn’t about the victim. It’s rarely about the assailant either. I think the fact that it’s a “culture” really speaks for itself because rape culture is about everyone else.
It’s about the media and what they have to say about the outcome of the Ghomeshi trials, it’s about the people who have never been sexually assaulted and their opinions on what it is to be and act like a victim, as well as other victims who try and play trump cards that their assault was worse. It’s about the hashtags and what people are comfortable hearing and the offences that are taken when someone says something that really hits home.
When writing My Casual Relationship With Rape I didn’t expect such a huge response. I genuinely didn’t think that I would have waves of people telling me their own stories, thanking me for sharing, or just giving me general words of support – and it really has been heart warming. That being said I didn’t expect the back lash either. I didn’t think people would be offended by me sharing my story or that I would get messages from people telling me it was inappropriate to share my experiences – that it was for the benefit of attention and my instagram followers.
And that right there is the perfect example of rape culture. How it is normalized for people to stay silent and keep their experiences private to the point where they no longer have a right (in the eyes of others) to share them. How it is essential to make other people comfortable. How everyone thinks that shedding light on very real, traumatizing issues and the evidence behind them should be an easy and light-hearted task. Like rape culture is a colourful picture book we should be able to tell our children at bedtime.
We have spent years burying these things in our subconscious. Decades have passed where sexual assault and rape have been diminished to nothing more than a rumour and we, as a society, are acting like we’re in fucking high school whispering to ourselves about how attention seeking that so-and-so is because they wore short-shorts and got sexually assaulted so really they’ve just been looking for an excuse to be talked about the entire time. And I’m calling bullshit.
I refuse to let this be a reality I continue to live in. I refuse to let my future daughter grow up in a world where I don’t have dirt under my nails from trying my damnedest to dig up the truth, the secrets, the belief that these are things that shouldn’t be spoken about. That the best way is to stay silent. That nothing is fucking wrong. I will not plant my good will in a ground that has been fertilized by fear and hatred and violence. I will not stand by as 1/4 of the women I know march silently by never knowing how much their own story can help and heal – if even only themselves. I will not let my future daughter grow up in a world where she is shunned for being bold, and honest, and unrelenting in her own truth – for being strong enough to speak her truth. I will not let myself grow up in a world where the shade of rape culture tries to stunt mine and other peoples growth.
In order to do that we need to eradicate the behaviours, thought patterns, and emotional comforts that have let us become stagnant in this culture. We need to be aware, thoughtful, open-minded and open hearted.
We should not invalidate someones experience
- because yours was different
- because of lack of violence
- because of a history of sexual assault
- because you see your own as more traumatizing
- because of how they act after sexual assault
- for not letting their sexual assault define them
- because they don’t want to talk about it
- because they are comfortable talking about it
- because they were drunk/in a bad neighbourhood/wearing something they shouldn’t/invited someone into their home with good intentions
- because you can’t relate/empathize/have a different POV
- because it seems attention seeking
- because you are not comfortable with them sharing it
- telling them they are a better person because of it
- that they learned something from it
- comparing sexual assault experiences as opposed to sharing
- thinking that their sexual assault means they are broken
- thinking they are less of/not a victim because they are strong enough to not let it define them
- thinking they are weak/less of a person because it has changed/defined them
- giving the word victim negative connotations
- not understanding that victim also means survivor
- holding their sexual assault against them
- believing that their sexual assault is a part of their personality
- saying literally anything other than “I’m sorry you went through that”, “thank you for sharing”, “I support/believe you”, “You are not alone”, “You have encouraged me to share my own story”, “You are brave”
If you want to do something go to a march. Share your story. Listen to someones. Do not doubt what anyone says about their own experiences. Don’t be an asshole, and if that’s too hard then just don’t say anything. I would rather hear nothing than hear ignorance.
I would like to reiterate, once again, that another persons sexual assault is not about you. It is not about how it makes you feel, it is not about your version of events if you were “there”, it is not about what you are comfortable with, it is not about what you think that person should have done – if they should or shouldn’t have shared something. Making it about you is rape culture. It is not your experience so shut the fuck up.
People love to say that they’re against rape culture and make their posts about that stupid video with the tea, but at the end of the day rape happens to PEOPLE. Individuals. Humans. It’s not all cute and brave and a single tear on the cheek of a pretty girl with a ripped blouse sitting in a police department. And when the public starts hearing rape stories from strong women years down the road, they don’t like it, because we didn’t cry when it happened. We weren’t the perfect victim. We weren’t that fucking stupid ass tea consent video which people giggle at when the fucking stick person forces the other stick person to drink the tea as they sleep.