Thursday, October 18, 2012

Rape Culture USA

The following is a personal article I composed for my Online Magazine class. I'm putting in a read through because it contains quite a few trigger warnings for rape, sexual violence, and anything related to the ilk. 

I was eighteen years old when my view of the world and those inhabiting it changed forever. It was the summer before college when I met a man named Steve at a grad party for a friend of a friend. It was one of those parties. The ones your best pal drags you to because honestly, you’ve got nothing better to do, only to arrive and realize you don’t know a single fucking person. And so I met Steve. He made me feel desired, powerful, all those stupid, silly things that go with the laws of attraction. I desperately wanted to see him again, so, I did. And I made the worst mistake of my life. I spent the night at a house I had no way of leaving on the opposite side of the fucking state. I trusted the wrong freaking guy.  I could sleep on the couch, he said. We can just cuddle if you want, he said. That night in the summer of 2008 I was raped. When he drove me the hour plus drive back, I asked him why, as we pulled up to the driveway of my parents’ home. He said because I was asking for it, because my skirt was too short, and how else was I to pay him back for a ride home?

My story is not uncommon. Those lines are not new or different or a random occurrence. They are everyday events in what has been termed rape culture in this lovely world of ours. Rape culture can be quite simply defined as a culture where sexual violence is condoned and normalized through media, prevalent attitudes, norms, and practices. And if you think this isn’t us, isn’t our society, then let me ask you how many times you’ve heard or called someone a slut, or said she was asking for it? How many times have you looked at a woman’s clothing and thought “man, she must be desperate.”? How many times have you heard a rape joke, or worse, used the term rape in a light hearted manner? Chances are you’ve done one or more of the above, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is a rape culture.

There have been many attempts to combat the problem, and all of them are attacking the wrong freaking problem. I applaud RAD classes and events like Take Back the Night, how could I not be happy with anything that empowers women? However, we’re still going about the whole damn thing wrong. In this manner of teaching women “don’t get raped” we are still in fact victimizing women. Victimizing is blaming the victim for something that was clearly not their fault. When an animal is abused, do you blame the dog for being in the way? Would you teach it to bite back? No. You would find the person responsible and throw them in jail and nurture the poor creature back to health. We should not be teaching women “don’t get raped,” but instead be teaching men, “don’t rape.”

Consent is sexy. Enthusiastic consent is the true sexy. And just because she isn’t saying “no,” doesn’t mean she’s saying “yes” either. If she’s too drunk, it means “no”. If she’s unconscious, that is an obvious freaking “no.” If she says she’s not sure, that is still NO. Anything other than an enthusiastic “yes, I would love to have sex with you,” in fact means “No, please back off right the hell now.” It doesn’t matter how much skin she is showing, or how many drinks she has had, or whether or not she’s flirted with you, yes means yes, and no means no. 

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