Friday, 18 February 2011

Because, nope

I have a wedding post coming up this morning, I promise but then I read this and decided it had to come first.
A long time ago I wrote a long post on rape, here, and, in typical Livy style, it was longwinded and complex. But real. And important. But I decided that, while there should be issues of importance on this blog, it was a place for fun, to relax and not be serious. However, after what I read today, I just couldn't let this go by. It is just too sad and infuriating and wrong. And by not talking about it we condone it. We all need to be talking about this, anywhere and anyway we can.

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work

1. Don’t put drugs in women’s drinks.
2. When you see a woman walking by herself, leave her alone.

3. If you pull over to help a woman whose car has broken down, remember not to assault her.

4. If you are in a lift and a woman gets in, don’t assault her. You know what? Don’t even ogle her.

5. When you encounter a woman who is asleep, the safest course of action is to not assault her.

6. Never creep into a woman’s home through an unlocked door or window, or spring out at her from between parked cars, or assault her.

7. When you lurk in bushes and doorways with criminal intentions, always wear bright clothing, wave a flashlight, or play “Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed)” by the Raveonettes on a boombox really loud, so women in the vicinity will know where to aim their flamethrowers.

8. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If it is inconvenient for you to stop yourself from assaulting women, ask a trusted friend to accompany you when in public.

9. Carry a rape whistle. If you find that you are about to assault a woman, you can hand the whistle to your buddy, so s/he can blow it to call for help.

10. Give your buddy a revolver, so that when indifferent passers-by either ignore the rape whistle, or gather round to enjoy the spectacle, s/he can pistol-whip you.

Don’t forget: Honesty is the best policy. When asking a woman out on a date, don’t pretend that you are interested in her as a person; tell her straight up that you expect to be assaulting her later. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the woman may take it as a sign that you do not plan to rape her.

(Written by Jill at I Blame the Patriarchy, posted here, where I found it - originally posted here.)

OK, so there's an element of humour there, of course, and that is good. But there's also painfully true satire of the culture surrounding sexual assault.
You NEVER get to blame the victim of an assault. Not ever. You don't get to say 'that's what you get for taking your hot blonde self to the middle of a violent protest'. You don't get to say 'if you don't want to be raped, avoid walking in the woods or crossing poorly-lit car parks'. Never, never, NEVER.

That's not to say that I don't think getting drunk on your first date with a near-stranger is risky behaviour. It is. But if that near-stranger uses your drunkenness to get what is not his to take, that is rape and the fault is his and his alone. Risky behaviour does not make sexual assault ok. Lara Logan was doing her job, a dangerous job, yes but she did nothing that made the attack on her ok, because there IS nothing - NOTHING - that makes sexual violence even the littlest bit ok.

When one person uses another person's body for his (or her) own pleasure, without the other's consent or with coerced consent, violently or not, that is rape and it is depraved and disgusting and should be punished. And if we keep saying 'but she knowingly put herself in a dangerous situation!' we are missing the point. We're missing the point so much that we're running over the point with a huge truck because we can't see it.

Rape is depravity at its clearest and ugliest. Sanity and morality would never condone taking sex by force - it is their polar opposite - which means rape is the absence of sanity and morality. It CANNOT be excused. A victim who walked willingly into a crowd of angry thugs is still a victim. 'Boys will be boys' never has been and never will be a viable excuse for sexual violence.

We think we're past that, I know. But I learned recently of a rape victim in a rural area who was denied justice and her rapist sent on his way, because he was a boy with such great potential and the people around him (parents and head teacher ironically) didn't want his promising young life ruined by the sordid truth of what he'd done.

This is happening, not just in the middle of violent uprisings overseas. It's happening everywhere and every day. And every time it happens, every time sexual violence is excused or validated or rationalised, every time a rape victim is left helpless, we are all victimised. The excused rape of one woman is the rape of all women.

Until people - all people, or at least most people - will call it what it is, it won't go away.

Here endeth the lesson.

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