Rape Culture & Shared Pain

In the past two weeks I have become very busy! School has started, so life has really started to pick up.

Well, while I was on campus today I had a very troubling interaction. A club on campus decided to prop a giant cardboard wall, with a sign that said “Wall of Free Speech, write anything you want.”  Near the bottom corner someone had written “The textbook return process if RAPE.” Someone else had written next to that “Using the word rape so frivolously spreads rape culture, and demeans the crime many women have experienced.” (That person may or may not have been me.)

While walking buy later I heard some guy snort and comment, “That’s so stupid, what the heck is rape culture anyways?” Of course I stopped and attempted to explain what rape culture meant to him. I went off on my little rant, about how as a high school student I was told that I needed to be careful to dress modestly, showing too much skin would attract a creep who would rape me, effectively blaming the victim as much as the creep. And that sort of thing doesn’t just happen in my small, religious town. A police officer in Toronto, Michael Sanguinetti, said that women should avoid rape by not “dressing like a slut.” In 1999 Italy ruled that a woman in jeans couldn’t be raped, because a man couldn’t get the pants off of her, without her consent. Obvious bogus. In Texas an 11-year old was gang raped, and community members protected the boys, claiming she drew them in my dressing older than her age. And then there is the whole issue where a woman’s sexual history has been used against her when she’s tried to prosecute her attacker.

Of course other things contribute to rape culture. Like this boy’s complacent attitude, if rape isn’t seen as a big deal, if others don’t understand that these women do not walk away with “no [lasting] harm done,” it will give the impression that rape is okay. If boys are continouly glorified for being a stud, for having sex with multiple girls, while girls are cherished for purity and chastity, if will spread the idea of male dominance over women. If violence is seen as sexy, it contributes to rape culture. The phrase “You’re so sexy, I can’t help myself.” lends itself to rape culture, making rape seem like a compliment, a natural result of her beauty.

I went off on this rant. The stupid boy just responded by saying, “It’s just a word. Girls can choose to be offended or not.” He further went on to say, “I can say it if I want. When I say something like ‘I raped that game’ it just meant I won, it doesn’t mean anything else.” He just didn’t understand the point that statement made. It makes him “raping” something a good thing, it showed his excellence and dominance, further spreading this idea that rape isn’t so bad. I wasn’t very good at explaining anything, I was getting pretty mad. But he just wouldn’t get it, how it normalized and trivialized the crime, and demeaned the suffering of so many women. Two other men piped up and tried to help explain my point. Finally the boy said something like “Well yeah, but it would different if I said it to a rape victim.” At that moment I was furious. I stepped right up in his face and yelled, “How do know that I’m not a rape victim?” I motioned to the several women around the area, “With 1 in 4 women college students being raped, someone here probably is. That’s my point it’s way to common, and no one thinks a thing about it.” He shrugged a whatever, and said I had stupid logic, and once again, it’s just a word, it’s my choice to be upset by it, he can do whatever he wants. I was so mad I just called him a pig and walked off.

The point of this post was not to explain what rape culture is, I’m not very articulate about that sort of stuff. Though if you do want to, please click on this link, this is an amazing overview of the terrible rape culture that is embedded into our Western culture. (This is another article you should read.)  The point of this article was to give an overview of an experience I had today. After that horrible incident, I walked off, sat on the grass and held back tears. I was shocked at myself, at how vehemently I reacted. I didn’t really understand why I was so hurt and angry. I will be honest and clear that I have not been a victim myself, nor has anyone close to me (that I know of). So why was I shaking and near tears at this? I’ve realized that there is a feminine wound. And that all of us women bear some burden of this rape culture, even those of us who have not been victims. I am not diminishing their pain in any way, or even saying that I understand it, I don’t. But no matter what, by being female, rape has touched all our lives in some way. It’s the fact that I have to be cautious and wary, because it could be me. It’s there every time I look at the stars and think how nice it would be to talk a midnight walk, but I can’t because that would be risky and I’m terrified.  It is something I’m gravely aware off anytime I’m alone with a male. Because of this and more, there is a fear that is in all of us females. This fear isn’t the only reason that I, and all women share in the feminine wound that rape has given us, but forgive me, I do not know how to articulate the rest. And while this culture persists, we will all share some of the pain our sisters have been afflicted with.

 

Dear boy,

I hope someday you will understand. I hope your view will change from thinking we are too sensitive, to the thought that you shouldn’t be do insensitive. I hope someday you will change your tune. I hope that your spirit will cry out to the female spirit and say, “I’m sorry.” But above all boy, please don’t ever hurt a woman.

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