Thursday 7 November 2013

Rape Culture: We're soaking in it

NB:  These points may already have been made, and made well, elsewhere. I've been largely keeping away from the Roast Busters stuff as I have other stuff going on currently that leaves me in a bad place to be dealing with that.  Hopefully this adds to the discussion, and the progress we MUST make, rather than just being a repetition.  Strong content warning for sexual violence.

Roast Busters is not new.  It is not some heinous development in human history.  Human history IS Rape Culture.  Rape Culture is a norm of centuries' duration we are trying to change, to overcome.  Well some of us are, anyway.

Rape Culture seems particularly bad right now because you are all seeing it.  It was there all along, so saturating us that it is the air we breathe.

Rape Culture is a society where the first things many people will consider when they hear of a rape include role of alcohol consumed by victim, role of clothes worn by victim, lack of parental supervision of victim,
instead of the reprehensible actions of the rapist.

Rape Culture is a society where victim blaming happens constantly.  Where female friends of the rapists speak out in the media to deny the accusations on their behalf.  Where those female friends may have been raped too, in the same circumstances as those they deny, and they can't face that they were raped too, because that is just too hard to deal with.*

Rape Culture is a society where a public health promotion agency deliberately uses fear of rape to scare women into drinking less alcohol, in the process promulgating a number of really really super unhelpful myths about rape and passing them off as truth.

Most women (and I suspect many men) have rape stories; their own, or those of others who have shared with them, things they have seen, things they themselves have done.  For me they are the stories of others, or near misses, but the chance that I will be raped at some point in my life is really very high - 1 in 4 women and girls in New Zealand have had that awful dehumanising experience.  I read once that 1 in 5 New Zealanders have asthma.  Amongst women being a victim of rape is more common than being asthmatic.

And we don't need more research actually.  There is a whole lot.  I'm not well placed to link, but Scube did, and I'm sure others have heaps of good links they can provide in comments.

What we need is more action.  More action by the State.  NGOs, individuals, groups formal and informal all do what they can, but they do not having the resources, the status or the longevity of central government.  We know enough to act; act effectively, efficiently and make a real difference.  Yet we don't.

We don't when we are the Government.  We don't when we are the Police.  We don't when we are people of high profile with significant media platforms.  Denial is a way of coping, I guess, because otherwise we have to accept that what we did to others could have been rape, what others did to us was rape, what we didn't stop happening to someone we love was rape.  What we allow and even encourage is Rape Culture.

We're soaking in Rape Culture, and it makes it hard to see.  When these moments come we must examine our complicity while we still can, so that once this case has faded we can still see the edges of our own enabling, and stop.

*  I have seen this happen first hand, and have no knowledge that this is at all the case in the Roast Busters situation.

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