Our pervasive rape culture is finally getting the attention it sadly warrants, ironically, thanks in part to recent high-profile rape attrocities committed in India and the United States and the resulting mainstream media coverage they’ve generated.
Here are 11 insightful, provocative blog posts written by women (and one man) who believe, as I do, that we need to take a long, hard, self-reflective and serious look at the issue of violence against women and take concrete steps to help stop it now.
I’ve included a paragraph from each post to give you an idea of the content and angle. If you have others you would like to share, please put them in the comments.
The pictures from Steubenville don’t just show a girl being raped. They show that rape being condoned, encouraged, celebrated. What type of culture could possibly produce such pictures? Only one in which women’s autonomy and right to safety counts for so little that these rapists, and those who held the cameras, felt themselves ‘perfectly justified’. Only one in which rape and sexual humiliation of women and girls is so normalised that it does not register as a crime in the minds of the assailants. Only one in which victims are powerless, silenced, dismissed. It is impossible to imagine that in such a culture, assault and humiliation of this kind would not be routine – and indeed, the most conservative estimates suggest that ninety thousand women and ten thousand men are raped in the United States alone every year. That’s what makes the Steubenville case so very uncomfortable – and so important.
The Steubenville rape victim was certainly someone’s daughter. She may have been someone’s sister. Someday she might even be someone’s wife. But these are not the reasons why raping her was wrong. This rape, and any rape, was wrong because women are people. Women are people, rape is wrong, and no one should ever be raped. End of story.
Undoubtedly someone is going to scream that I am playing the role of the Stuebenville defense attorney, blaming the victim, giving new voice to old canards like she asked for it, or boys will be boys, or if you act like a slut, you deserve what you get. I would answer that it’s not a question of deserving. It’s a question of complex causality and of recognizing, owning and consciously wielding whatever power we have in that equation. Absolving women of responsibility denies us response ability.
There are those morons who seem to think that women have to dress and act like nuns in order to avoid accidentally signaling to men that we are ready to be raped. Then there are those who seem to throw equally unhelpful pieces of philosophical wisdom into the conversation, about our right to be naked where we want, when we want, with who we want as intoxicated as we want and it’s nobody’s business.
CNN’s unconscionable coverage of the Steubenville Rape Case verdict is pissing everyone off. Newscaster Candy Crowley, general correspondent Poppy Harlow, and legal expert Paul Callan all did their very best to focus solely on the guilty verdict’s repercussions on the two rapists. There’s next to no coverage of the girl who was brutally raped; instead, they talk almost exclusively of the rapists— the two teenagers who had such bright futures, and now their lives are completely ruined from this one little indiscretion. Isn’t it a shame how they suffer?
By Audrey Binkowski
Never take a drink from anyone or let your drink out of your sight. Don’t show too much cleavage. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Never go to a boy’s room alone. If it comes to it, go for the eyes, the nose, the balls. Always stay with a group of girls…safety in numbers. You can’t trust him, even if he seems nice.
These are all the rules I was taught growing up. Parents, teachers, media, all told me I had to be careful not to get raped. Because I was a girl. And the responsibility was on me.
I’m so fucking sick of it.
I don’t have daughters that have to be taught these rules. I have sons. Three sons. And instead, I will teach them what seems like a pretty basic concept that should be taught to all sons: DON’T RAPE PEOPLE!
The tidal wave of stupidity when it comes to discourse about rape has reached critical mass. Just when I thought it was impossible for any more vile, victim-blaming, ignorant tripe to be spewed forth on the subject of rape, the Steubenville rape trial guilty verdict was delivered. While this is an American case, the pathetic and sickening attitudes towards rape and rape victims, and the accompanying under-reporting of such crimes, are, tragically, universal.
Remember facts? Remember facts about rape? Because it turns out that a whole lot of people know less than nothing about the subject. Indeed what they think they know is a whole lot of something that is wrong and dangerous to our heath, safety and well-being. Here are 50 actual facts (in the form of an index) we all should know:
Sexual assaults are planned. Plus, the majority of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim: friends, family members, boyfriends, husbands, classmates, fellow soldiers, and supervisors. Putting the burden on women to prevent rape won’t stop rape. The responsibility to stop rape should be placed entirely on men because they are the ones who do it. And drinking isn’t a crime, rape is.
How we can prevent another Steubenville? Have men stop role modeling misogynistic behavior for boys.
What I am attempting to get at, and I apologize if I am not being clear enough is that this is a failure on many levels. Parents, teachers, coaches, peers all come into play here. I am not trying to diffuse blame or lessen the awfulness of what happened but I want to address the complexity of the cause in an effort to assess the effect so it can be prevented.
Worldwide, according to Gallup, “72% of men and 62% of women say they feel safe walking alone in their communities at night.” In the U.S.., those numbers are 89 percent and 62 percent respectively. Online harassment is an easy way to extend and maintain this gap in the developed world, where women are equal enough. I mean, if women start feeling safe, well, then what will some men do with themselves? Physical security is a basic prerequisite to women’s empowerment, parity, equality and liberation. Make no mistake, bullying women in these ways online only amplifies messages we’re getting everywhere else. As with street harassment, online harassment is the gendered contestation of public space. And, like street harassment, the people harassing have an entitlement to power and violence.