Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Day 9, in which I talk about rape culture.

Woke up, had a coffee or two and made a smoothie to have later.

Gym at 10, elliptical. Apparently burnt 345cal today, better than usual.
Then did 3 sets of:
20 sit-ups with medicine ball
40 Russian twists with medicine ball
10 push-ups (managed to struggle through the first set strict, but on my knees after that)
20 hip extensions on each leg

Found a nice cool quiet spot, and finished Dodger.

Then I went to my favourite food spot Sumo Salad, and had a small Morrocan Lamb salad, which was frankly disappointing. 

And then... some stuff made me really really very fucking angry.

I've been reading all over social media about a rape trial in America, in Steubenville.
I've been disgusted to read that many news outlets are outpouring empathy and compassion for the rapists, and not mentioning the victim at all, except to say that she was drunk. That is absolutely sickening.

Victim blaming is not okay. It is not her fault. Being drunk, and near males, does not mean that a girl has given consent to sex acts. It does not mean that any person has the right to have sex with her.
Yes, getting black-out drunk was a little silly, and was not the safest course of action. But she is sixteen. And thought she was among friends. She maybe didn't think that she lived in a world where if there is any alcohol around, every male nearby should be thought of as a threat and potential rapist. And if that is naive, yes of course it is, she's sixteen! 
The only cause of rape, is rapists.

This girl is being treated as if the whole thing was her fault. She is being ignored by certain mainstream media, while they sympathise with her attackers. She is being bullied and threatened by more supposed friends. And, if my own experience is anything to go off, she's probably got other friends and family acting like it never happened at all, instead of providing support and comfort, and possibly even friends calling her things like "damaged goods" behind her back.

Rape and sexual assault are not rare. They happen to people you know. Your friends and your family.
And it isn't just committed by strangers in the street, it is committed by people you know. In Australia, 73% of sexual assaults are by family or people known to the victim. The reported rate for sexual assault against women is around 1 in 10 (1 in 500 for men). BUT only 15% of women actually report to police when they have been sexually assaulted or raped. So where does that put the numbers?
(Here's some stats for the U.S.)
How would you feel if this happened to your daughter/sister/partner? How would you feel if she was treated this way?

And what kind of message does it send to the public, when women or men who do report are treated the way Jane Doe has been treated in the Steubenville case?

It sends the message that rape-victims don't matter. That women don't matter. Women are things, play-things, not real human beings at all. That rape is the victim's fault, for being too drunk, too attractive, too flirty, too [insert excuse for rape here]. There is no fault attached to the perpetrator  It sends the message that men are not in control of themselves, that they can't help it. That they cannot be trusted to respect the autonomy of another human being, and that they don't think of other people as anything more than an orifice.
That is not okay. Women are worth more than that, and men are better than that.

I think it is somehow easier for people to think that the victim caused it. Some women want to believe that they are safe from rape if they only dress or behave a certain way. Seems logical, but then rape would be a lot rarer than it is. I can only guess at why others would think it. Perhaps they don't want to believe that some men are capable of sexual assault and violence? Perhaps they believe that any woman (or man) who dresses or behaves in a certain way deserves to have violence brought against themself? That she(/he) is worthless, and it's just so unfair that a good honest football-playing, A-grade-achieving young person attacker should have their life ruined just because of a drunk/flirty/doesn't-meet-my-standards-for-worthy person victim?

I have a daughter, and I will make sure she learns how to defend herself. No matter how hard we fight, this culture will take a very long time to change. But also, if and when I have sons I will make sure they know that sex is only to happen with consenting partners, and that being drunk, passed out, wearing a certain outfit, or flirting DOES NOT EQUAL CONSENT.
And should any of them, son or daughter, witness or hear about anything happening to, or by, their friends, they are to stand up and fight it. Confront it, or talk to the police, or talk to an adult. But do not ever, ever allow it to go unchallenged.
Culture can change, but it only happens through education, and action.

Anyone who wants to act here's a list, from Pigtail Pals Ballcap Buddies on facebook.
"1. Sign this petition, now 74,000 signatures strong, asking CNN to apologize to the Steubenville coverage:
2. Sign this petition, now 49,000 signatures strong, asking the National Federation of High School Associations to incorporation a sexual violence prevention for their coaches:
3. Look up the address for your local Rape Crisis Hotline and write them a thank you note for the service they provide your community. (Most have PO Boxes easily found with a Google search)
4. Find the website for your local Rape Crisis Center and make a monetary donation, write a thank you note and deliver fresh flowers to their office, or review their Wish List and see what items they could use (bus tickets, postage stamps, office supplies are common requests).
5. Write a letter to the Steubenville victim and say what is in your heart. Publish it as your facebook status or as a blog post. She may not ever see it, but since 1 in 5 women are survivors of sexual assault, either you or someone close to you is a survivor. Show them the silence around this is breaking, and that you are not being quiet.
6. If age appropriate, talk with your children about what this case means for all involved. Talk about what the victim is likely feeling and experiencing, and how they would support her if she were her sister or best friend. Talk about the perpetrators, both the two on trial and those who stood by during the prolonged assault, and what attitudes led them to believe this was a funny act or something that was not a big deal. Talk about the attitudes and language used by the media. Talk about responsible use of social media, and what your family expects of them should they ever be exposed to tweets or Instagrams depicting a crime against someone. Talk about respect for their body and for the bodies of others."

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