Let’s talk about rape culture for a minute.
Every single girl has felt it. When someone said or did something that made you feel powerless, scared, vulnerable. That made you feel that no matter what you do right now, it won’t be enough. And it scares you, it scares the shit out of you, to know that the next few seconds, minutes or rest of your life is in the hands of the person in front of you. It might have been when you walked home from work and a dodgy guy walked past, or when a guy at the bar touched you inappropriately and no one helped or defended you. Or when your drink got spiked and everyone said you were just drunk. Or any other situation. But all of us know what that feels like.
I read an interesting article on Medium the other day, regarding rape culture. And it was difficult to read, it hurt to read, because even though many might not be able to relate to being raped, many of us know what it feels like to feel helpless, vulnerable, scared and small.
It sucks that every single man in this world will be able to overpower me, simply because I’m smaller and not strong enough. And rape culture has made it impossible for girls to speak up about what has happened to them, instead they have to speak in abstract terms to avoid the discussion being to graphic. But someone that survived other traumatizing events can openly speak about every part of it.
It’s not okay that we have felt that sense of vulnerability. It’s not okay that we have felt unsafe. I use to do promotions for an alcohol company, and a drunk guy at a bar touched me inappropriately, very inappropriately, and as I resisted his friends just stood with their drinks in their hands, watching sheepishly as I struggled to get away. As I pushed him he grabbed both my arms and shoved me to the ground. The other girls that I worked with came to my rescue, and only once the commotion was big enough did his friends take him home. That powerless feeling of knowing that help was all around, but instead they just stood there, watching.
That night I drove to my boyfriend-at -the-time’s house, as I got home, sobbing, I told him what happened, and somehow he didn’t think it was such a big deal ,as if I was overreacting. I felt even more helpless.
And that’s why so many victims are keeping quiet about rape. The fear of being accused of lying or that it won’t be such a ‘big deal’.
At another instance I was at a party with my friend in my first year at Uni, a guy was pushing himself against me and after telling him countless times that he should back off, I hit him in the face with my glass. Suddenly everyone saw that, but somehow missed his perverted actions. Everyone cheered and considered me a hero, but I wasn’t. I was a victim. I felt scared and vulnerable. After everyone laughed at what happened they went on with their evening as though nothing happened.
As I’m writing this I feel scared that it might sound like I’d been hanging out at the wrong places. But that’s exactly what rape culture is. We should stop feeling like we brought this on ourselves. That we went to the wrong places, had the wrong job or dressed inappropriately. Not once did I consent what happened, but it still happened.
Somehow “No” has become a grey area.
I can tell a hundred more stories where me and many other girl’s no, didn’t seem to mean no to whoever it was said to. When I tell these things I know of so many other girls that this has happened to. Worse things has happened to.
And we should look out for each other.
I refuse to accept this culture. And feeling vulnerable is a terrible feeling. My ‘no’ means really, yes really, ‘no’. And so does hers, and his and whoever else says no. And it’s not up for discussion.