The Lady Garden

Tea and Strumpets

Category Archives: Rape culture

Quickie: Under no circumstances read the comments.

Hey you guys! A woman was attacked in a notorious “problem spot”. Guess what. She shouldn’t have been there, then maybe she wouldn’t have been attacked. Of fucking course.

Thanks Stuff, for your in-no-way-victim-blamey poll. How about blaming the attackers, not women and dark corners?

[Updated: Stuff has apparently deleted the poll. Well. That’s….something?]

[Updated x2: Seriously, don’t read the comments. Or at least be aware they should come with trigger warnings.]

Slutty slutty sluts

Shameless Google baiting aside, let’s talk about sluts. Again. Yes, again. I have written about this so many times.Yes, I am annoyed that I am still having to. Yes, there will be some ALL CAPS SENTENCES in this post. Will that make the fuckknuckles of the world listen? (Probably not.)

Here’s what it comes down to. Like all re-claimable words, it’s not a word you should use lightly. And with slut, here’s an easy rule of thumb: Unless someone has told you it’s OK to call them that, how about you just don’t?

So, when I see a comedian I follow tweet something like this, I get mad.

A club sluts vagina has a complex heating system that blows warm air on the legs allowing miniskirts to be worn in subzero temps

(I was going to screenshot it, but the comedian in question has deleted the tweets. I would also complain about the incorrect apostrophe, but I can no longer tell if that’s his fault, or the person who retweeted it)

He has since apologised, but not before people to go and expend their rage on “actual causes”.

I have news for you, Mr Hardwick. Getting angry at people referring to women as sluts is an actual cause. You might even have heard of it. IT’S CALLED FEMINISM. It’s been an “actual cause” for a few centuries now.

Because defining a woman by what she wears, what club she frequents, and what she does to get her rocks off isn’t any of your fucking business. And calling her a slut, a judgey, abusive, hate-filled word, because of any of those things is FLAT OUT DOUCHEY SEXISM. And when you have a platform with 1.5 million followers, people are going to get fucked off when you use it to belittle women. Even if you were “making a joke.” Because there’s no way you could have made that joke without the word sluts, is there? There’s no way that your paternalistic little “gosh they must be cold” concern-trolling could possibly have been put in a different context.

Yes, he apologised. Shame his many followers thought he shouldn’t have. That the problem was just that “sluts don’t like being called sluts”, or that people need to lighten up.

Darlings, I can tell you one thing. I get pretty mellow after a couple of old-fashioneds. But the one thing I will never “lighten up” about is slut-shaming. We all own our bodies. What we do with them is up to us, it’s none of your fucking business, and if that scares you, you have bigger problems than your prurient interest in the length of my skirt.

 

Boo, you whore

OK. Let’s just get the irony of someone complaining that women liking porn turns men into rapists calling said women “whores” out of the way, shall we? HAH! Don’t like violence against women? How about you don’t commit it yourself.

Want to know what I’m talking about? Well. Let me take you on a little journey. But first, a warning. A number of us here at TLG are short of spoons this week. And patience. A number of the things discussed in this post might be triggering. I’m not going to put up with any bullshit in the comments, and that includes rape-apologism, concern trolling, and flat out misogyny. Per the comments policy, don’t be a dick.

So. Here we go. On Saturday, someone tweeted the Garden Ladies to warn us about this article. Rightly. I read the headline, thought, yeah, nah, I’m not reading that. Emma did, and pronounced it bollocks. So did FOTLG Constance. And that’s where all this gets interesting. Constance posted her column on the WYFC Facebook page. To be met with this comment.

Are you fucking serious. If these are the thoughts of the “feminist collective” (what a joke) I am unfollowing you guys right now. Constance i am lost for words. You enjoy your rapey, choking sex, and while you’re at it try to spare a thought for the millions of women (and children) around the world who have actually been raped or choked to death by a man who wouldn’t take no for an answer, because of whores like you make them think its acceptable, fun and sexually stimulating. But, you know, as long as YOU get off, that’s all that matters right? Because the world revolves around your vagina, you selfish bitch.

Well, you know what, love? The world actually does revolve around my vagina. (Though, I’m not Constance.) It’s awesome. There’s entire solar systems in there, also, unicorns and glitter. It’s fucking magic.

And one of the things about my vagina? I only allow the people into it that I want. Anyone touching it, or any other part of me, without my permission, that’s assault. My partner hurting me because I ask him to? That’s not. So when you say

How do we hold the power? A few years ago, men were lucky if they were getting any and there was no judgement about the way your vagina looked, they just thanked their lucky stars to be in your pants in the first place. THAT was when we held the power.

Actually, I hold the power because I know what I want and I ask for it. Also, because I know the difference between fantasy and reality. I know that people watch porn for various reasons, and few of those reasons are as a guidebook for How To Do It. I’ve been assaulted, and I’ve been hurt in the context of consensual sex, and I know what the difference is. One is about someone doing something to me I want, one is about someone doing something to me I don’t want. It’s that simple. And porn isn’t the thing that blurs that line. It’s people like you who do that. Because you’re telling women it’s not OK to ask for what gets them off. It’s not OK to like what you like. What you like is getting other women raped. No. I’ve said this so many time. On the internet. On TV, and in my life. The only thing that causes rape is rapists.

I am not going to link to the studies, because a) not a 101 blog, and b) Emma is significantly more knowledgable about this stuff than me. But porn doesn’t cause violence against women.

Futhermore, when you say this:

Rapists come from all demographics. The one thing they have in common is they don’t respect women. They treat women like objects. Pornography does not portray the act of sex as a loving consentual act between a man and a woman. It most often portrays sex as an act done to a woman by a man, or several woman at once, or an act done by two or more men to a woman, or encourages violence against women. I think women who participate in pornography, and those who condone it are disrespecting themselves.

Actually, you are the one being disrespectful to those women. You’re assuming they are not there consensually, of their own free will. You’re assuming they don’t know better. You’re assuming they don’t like it. Well, frankly, fuck you. You don’t know their lives. I’m not going to say every woman in pron or sex work is there consensually, but a good number are. Oh, and when you say porn portrays sex as something done by a man to a woman (Hi! someone remind the gays they don’t get porn. Ahem), actually, again, that’s you doing it. Because that other quote up there, when you talked about our “power? That was you saying that women’s sexuality is something that is to be taken away from us, something we give to men. That’s you giving all the power to men. When frankly, that’s bullshit.

Men are never going to put a stop to it, they are sitting back with dicks in hand while women are handed to them on a silver platter – brothels, strip clubs, internet porn. Where are the men parading for us? It’s up to women to stand together and say enough is enough. Sadly that is never going to happen.

Yeah. Again, um, bullshit. Emma and I walked with two people on slutwalk. They were both men. But no, you assume that men are all drooling rapey monsters, and it’s just the porn that makes them cross the line. I assume you’re also against women wearing short skirts, because presumably all those men can’t cope with that, either. Nah. Most of the men I know can tell the difference between fantasy and reality. Also, as you were told over on Facebook, and we’ve written about here, one of the great things about BDSM sex is that the people involved (sensibly) in it are really good about negotiating boundaries, having safe words. And I would never let someone I haven’t had that conversation with tie me up and hurt me.

So, this morning, you asked why is it OK to simulate rape? Because, between two (or more) consenting adults, everything is OK. Because “consensual rape” is an oxymoron. Because what I do in my bedroom (and my living room, and my backyard) is none of your fucking business.

I see this woman is now off to find some “actual feminists”. Cool. Those ones who love to judge other women for what they do, who assume all men are evil, and who think it is completely OK to call other women whores and bitches. They’ll embrace her.

Zac Guildford

Cross posted from my place.

This is a link to an article about Zac Guildford returning home and apologising for some his inappropriate behaviour while in Rarotonga.

I think Zac Guildford’s apology regarding assaulting two men is a very good one, and I am really pleased to see that he is open about needing to put steps in place to get well.

However, I really wish while publicly apologising for his first inappropriate incident, he had also apologised for harassing a female athlete – other than just mentioning he “tried” to meet with her and “she declined”. I’m hugely disappointed that this incident is seen as being less worthy of apology than him punching two men.

The woman who reported being harassed has talked about fearing for her safety after she asked Guildford to stop yelling sexual obscenities and comments about her body while he followed her in his car as she went for a run. She has talked about how he became aggressive, and how she hid in a shop until he left.

Since then not only has she been pressured to meet with him by his manager (really empathetic move to try and push someone to meet with the person who harassed them and made them feel unsafe, thanks All Blacks management), but she has been pressured to drop the charges by All Blacks management and had Acting Police Commissioner Akatauira Matapo refer to her complaint as a waste of police time.

It seems to me that Guildford is a clever guy who understands that he’s in a bad place (especially in regards to his relationship with alcohol) and that he has let a lot of people down with his actions. I’m not sure whether not specifically apologising for acting in a deplorable way toward this woman is due to a decision by All Blacks management or Zac Guildford himself, but I hope that her refusal to meet with him, compared with the men he assaulted agreeing to meet with him, is not the reason why she has not received a public apology and they have.

I also have to question the mentality behind All Blacks management pressuring the victim of harassment to meet with her harasser. In the interests of wanting to deal with this in a tidy, private way, they have effectively attempted to erase her right to lay a complaint and let the police deal with it. They have ignored the (fairly common sense) need for distance from the person that made her feel unsafe, and THEN publicly discussed her refusal to do what they asked, which is a judgement on her ‘willingness to cooperate’ regardless of whether they frame it as such.

All Blacks management pressuring her to drop the complaint is further harassment as far as I’m concerned. It’s the big boys vs one lone woman, whose own police commissioner thinks her grievance is not worthy of anyone’s time.

People with power trying to silence women who have experienced harassment or abuse is not new, but frankly I feel that Zac’s attitude is new. In the hyper-masculine culture of Rugby Union in New Zealand, it’s rare to see someone mess up and talk frankly about needing to put steps in place, draw on his support systems and take one step at a time to get better.

So I hope with all my might that Zac will realise he has every young rugby fan watching him. He has office workers discussing him over the water cooler, and radio commentators filling their inane timeslots with every juicy detail of his fall from grace.

I hope he realises his lack of apology makes women who get harassed on the street every day feel like even if their harasser is famous no one will care. And that his comments about her refusing to meet with him make women feel like we are obligated to face the people who make us feel unsafe or else we’re not ‘moving on’ or ‘being fair’.

All Blacks management might continue to throw their clout around and try and nip ‘problems’ like this in the bud while denying victims justice or due process, but Zac actually has the power here. If he apologises as openly and genuinely for harassment as he has done for assault, then people might actually start to see that harassment is violence.

I fucking hate the Rugby World Cup

And in case you hadn’t guessed from the title, I’m pretty angry about it.

You know what New Zealand? Before you go getting all fucking excited about celebrating a sport which has the most abhorrent track record of player-perpetrated violence against women, and is actively encouraging gambling, high alcohol consumption and will without a doubt in my mind directly result in a huge rise in assault and sexual violence, I just want you to have a read a wee timeline I put together:

*Trigger warning for violence, sexual violence, racism and murder*

In 1997 former Waikato Chiefs player Roger Randle was accused of rape while on tour in South Africa.

In 1998 South African player Toks Van der Linde called a woman of colour a “kaffir” in a New Zealand bar.

In 2002 former Welsh player Hywel Jenkins was charged with the rape of a 28 year old woman.

In 2002 an unnamed Japanese player was accused of rape.

In 2004 former Scotland player Bryan Gossman was charged with the rape of a woman in Northern Ireland.

In 2004 former French captain and “national hero” Marc Cecillon shot his wife in the head in front of 60 guests at a party.

In 2004 an All Blacks player was granted with permanent name suppression after being charged with assaulting his pregnant wife. He was given diversion.

In 2005 Wales Captain Gareth Thomas was one of a number of players found guilty of “violent affray or sexual assault” in a French nightclub where a woman was sexually assaulted and punched.

In 2006 Welsh player Jordan Reese strangled his 18 year old girlfriend to death after she spoke to her ex boyfriend at a party.

In 2007 All Black Sitiveni Sivivatu admitted assaulting his wife. He was discharged without conviction.

In 2008 during the English tour of New Zealand a woman pressed charges of sexual assault by several English players, but all charges (except for misconduct) were dropped.

In 2008 Argentinean players were accused of stripping a twenty year old woman and subjecting her to sexual assault in a South African nightclub. No one was convicted.

In 2008 the South African Ruby Sevens captain Mzwandile Stick was accused of pushing over a woman, and punching and kicking her while she was on the ground. He later denied the punching and said he had “only kicked her out of anger.”

In 2008 former Welsh star player Darren Daley pleaded guilty to charges of grievous bodily harm and actual bodily harm against two women.

In 2009 New Zealand player Toka Liku was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment after assaulting and raping his wife following post-match celebrations.

In 2009 Springbok coach Percy Montgomery faced assault charges after attacking his wife.

In 2008 English player Lee Robinson was arrested on suspicion of assaulting his girlfriend. He was later found guilty and discharged.

In 2010 Former All Black Robin Brooke harassed two teenagers while on holiday in Fiji in January, grabbing the buttocks of a 15-year-old girl and assaulting her 17-year-old male friend who came to her aid. A further allegation was made in June 2010 that in 1998 Brooke had sex with a drunken and comatose teenage woman.

In 2010 Former South African player James Dalton appeared in court charged with the attempted murder of his ex-wife.

The full list of Rugby Union incidents is available here.

The Rugby World Cup-triggered rise in sexual assault (and violence in general) won’t just be toward women, and won’t just be perpetrated by men, but as usual women and children will be disproportionately on the receiving end, and men will disproportionately be the offenders.

Nobody wants to talk about the history of violence toward women by players, coaches and supporters of Rugby Union. Apparently, sticking some sportsmen on White Ribbon posters and anti-family violence campaigns means that we can just get on with pretending that the culture surrounding this sport (and many sports in New Zealand) is harmless, blokes being blokes fun.

You might think that this list is somehow invalid because there are no current All Blacks on it (except for potentially the one with permanent name suppression), so here’s a little look at some of ‘our boys’ this time round:

Andrew Hore killed a fur seal earlier this year for shits and giggles in Otago.

Ma’a Nonu received diversion for fighting in a public place.

Jerome Kaino was convicted of drunk driving.

Jimmy Cowan has been arrested twice for disorderly behaviour.

On the subject of the latter, former All Black Murray Mexted said that Cowan should be left alone because “maybe that’s part of being a free spirited young man growing up.”

Axed New Zealand Rugby World Cup Ambassador Andy Hayden said earlier this year that stories of alleged rape by sportsmen had “two sides to them”.

“There’s a bloke called Hugh Grant. He got into a bit of trouble like this and I think if the cheque bounces sometimes, they only realise that they’ve been raped, you know, sometimes,” he said.

“It’s an equal society now, some of these girls are targeting rugby players and targeting sportsmen and they do so at their peril today, I think.”

Oh yeah and he also called people of colour “darkies”.

When are we going to wake up to the fact that the culture surrounding this sport is harmful to everyone, and pretending that it’s not is just making it worse – because people feel that they shouldn’t dare criticise it. They shouldn’t dare be the buzz kill at a party after a game by wondering how Women’s Refuge is faring that evening. They are ‘bad New Zealanders’ if they don’t actually want to get super fucking excited about spending millions and millions on advertising, and making onion fucking dip packets black, and making a ‘cloud’ party zone which looks like an evil caterpillar on acid.

We are rebuilding a city after a national disaster, we have the world’s worst suicide rate for young women, we have one of the worst child poverty and child abuse rates in the world. A quarter of all of the women you know, and 1 in 8 men will experience distressing and unwanted sexual contact in their lifetime. Every fucking woman you know has felt unsafe in the streets simply because she is a woman. And I will be even more scared in the streets, particularly in the central city, as of tomorrow night.  And what are we collectively doing as a country? We’re covering our ears, drinking our black fucking Powerade and cheering for the boys.

I cried when I wrote this, because in researching the incidents I saw a photo of the 18 year old girl killed by Jordan Rees. Her name was Becky and she was really beautiful. And the article had ‘killed girlfriend’ in inverted commas. Like, you know, maybe somehow his strangulation wasn’t the contributing factor in her dying.

I also cried because this list is going to get bigger after this year. But not much bigger, because the bulk of the victims of this fucking Rugby World Cup won’t be assaulted, raped or killed by players themselves. They won’t be important enough to be named in this list. It’s unlikely anyone overseas will read their names. And it’s even less likely that the Rugby World Cup will be criticised for not investing enough in resources to combat and respond to these issues.

Because, like, there’s a PARTY ZONE IN EVERY CITY GUYS.

Edit: Just in case it isn’t clear enough in the post above, I just want to reinforce that my issue is not with the game of rugby union itself. I admire the hard work of the sportspeople involved, and the passion of the teams and supporters. I think this will be a really exciting time for New Zealand. However, we cannot keep ignoring the fact that the hyper masculine, excess drinking, violent, boys-will-be-boys, hard man culture surrounding this (and other sports) is harmful, particularly for women and children. This huge event has all eyes on New Zealand, and it seems like we continue to pretend that we don’t have an appalling record of major rugby union games affecting violence rates. It is irresponsible and remiss of us not to do something about it, not to acknowledge it. That is why I struggle to get on board with this huge event. Because unfortunately it’s going to be huge in both the best and worst ways.

Massey Wellington and sexual violence

*Trigger Warnings for sexual assault and sexual harassment*

This is an article about an attack on a woman in Massey University Wellington.

Massey Wellington was my home both socially, professionally and academically for 3 years while I completed my degree. I worked on campus in the Student’s Association, I partied on the campus with my classmates and I spent a depressing amount of time half-asleep in the back of lecture theatres. I love its weird super-industrialised-ex-polytech-linoleum-everywhere vibe, the cavernous old museum creative arts spaces across the car park, the committed and warm staff and the diverse student body.

What I didn’t love was the fact that for almost the entire time I was studying, my female peers and I knew that the bathrooms on level B, block 5 had a resident ‘peeping tom’ and the library had a ‘flasher’. The student magazine reported on the reoccurring incidents involving these perpetrator/s with a mixture of seriousness and humour – because even though these were actually events of sexual harassment and sexual violence, they were very cliché and therefore somehow easy humour. I think the library flasher even had a trench coat.

I remember my younger self laughing a wee bit at these stories because I didn’t really understand them. I didn’t know what it would be like to have someone approach you while you were trying to find a book down a quiet row of shelves and get their penis out. I didn’t know what it would be like to have a guy hide in the toilet cubicle next to yours until he could hear you going to the toilet (so you couldn’t get up quickly) and look over the side of the cubicle before running away.

I didn’t have a feminist analysis of anything except my mother’s mantra of “girls can do anything” which was usually solely applied to home DIY. I didn’t know that ‘violence’ wasn’t just physical. I didn’t think about the fact that women were the sole targets of these campus attacks, or what that said about the world I lived in. I just read ‘peeping tom’ and saw a distant cartoonish villain to be laughed at.

That was until 2007 when I wandered into the bathrooms on level B, block 5 one day without thinking. I was working, and I was unusually in the area and really needed to pee. No one was around (as usual, the whole floor was a pretty creepy area actually) and I went into the barely-lit bathroom and found a cubicle. When I shut the door I saw a sign on the back of the stall that said “females in this area” had been “experiencing problems” with sexual harassment or something similar to that effect.

I suddenly realised that I was in a dark bathroom, on a floor with little-to-no regular foot traffic, in a room that had seen repeat occurrences of sexual violence, and Massey University had given me a small laminated sign. Multiple females had experienced a hugely distressing personal invasion, perhaps in the very cubicle I was standing in and Massey put up a notice. I promptly left the bathroom, and as many of us have done before, I figured that this was just life.

My partner is now a postgrad student at Massey University and when he’s on campus he is based on level B, block 5. I have discovered that the abandoned linoleum-heavy, echoey halls of level B are in fact inhabited by art students who are mostly all hiding in studios or computer labs which you would never know existed by the permeating 24/7 silence.

One day recently I was helping my partner with an assignment and needed to go to the bathrooms. Now forgive me, but nearly five years on I had almost completely forgotten about the bathroom incidents lending themselves to level B. I wandered in to that same dark bathroom, into a stall, closed the door behind me and found to my horror that I was faced with the same sign.

After 5 years, Massey University has not managed to shake their ‘peeping tom’, who by now I’m sure we can all agree is a repeat perpetrator of sexual violence and harassment, who gains pleasure and power from intruding on women. Women who will never use public bathrooms in the same way again. Women who no longer feel that their campus is a safe space for them, even in the middle of the day.

After five years, Massey University has done nothing obvious to me or any other student or visitor except to put up laminated signs warning potential victims of what they may expect to experience in this area. Warning victims. Not helping to protect victims, but asking them to protect themselves. This is a pretty common theme in rape culture (the norms and attitudes which allow victim blaming and a normalisation of sexual control over women) – the expectation that if you have experienced sexual assault or harassment you were probably putting yourself at risk, and you should have known better, so actually you’re partly to blame for the whole thing.

After five years, Massey appears to give such little of a shit about what happens to the students who use this bathroom that they haven’t even put brighter fucking lights in the room. There’s no security camera by the outside door, no security guard regularly knocking to see if everything’s okay. No swipe card only access to mitigate the potential for this attacker to walk in off the street, or to monitor who is entering the bathroom and match it with reports of harassment. No. Just a sign.

And now Massey is the subject of a news story about an attempted rape on campus. Not because this is rare for Massey or the surrounding area (Magneto, the student magazine publishes crime maps once a month and it is glaringly evident that this area is a hotspot for sexual assault), but because this woman got away through self defence. If she had have been raped, this story wouldn’t be news because it’s so common.

I can only hope that now Massey’s name is next to “sexual assault” in the media that they will wake up to the fact that they need to do more to protect their students. Because as it stands, acceptance of the constant possibility of sexual assault is becoming part of the campus culture. And that is totally unacceptable.

You know what’s not sex?

Dear sub-editors, and people who talk to the media,

We need to have a conversation. Because you need to start being really, really careful about how you speak, and write, and what you publish. Because if I read another sentence like this, I am going to throw something through a window, and then sit in a corner and drink an entire bottle of bourbon.

DOMINIQUE Strauss-Kahn and the maid who accused him of sexual assault did have what appeared to be non-consensual sex, but the maid’s history of lying means that charges cannot be pressed, prosecutors said today.

DNA testing “established that several stains located on the upper portion of the complainant’s hotel uniform dress contained semen that yielded the defendant’s DNA”, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said.

Do you know what’s not sex? Rape. Do you know what rape is? Non-consensual sex. You can’t “have sex” if its non-consensual. That’s assault. It’s like me saying I was consensually mugged.

I don’t want to talk about the “she’s a big fat liar, so we can’t make the charges stick!” aspect, because that has and will be covered by people with sharper legal minds than me. But I want to talk about the language.

I do things, in the privacy of my bedroom (and that one time in an alley near the waterfront) that, to many people, would seem violent and horrible. Believe me, I’ve had the brusies. But always, always, with consent. There’s safewords and limits, and endless conversations about what is and isn’t OK, and how you might feel about something, and how you feel after, and whether that thing was good. I’ve had people try to tell me that what I like is depraved, and believe me, sometimes, the morning after, when I am struggling to sit down, I wonder that myself. But I enter into that willingly, consensually, enthusiastically, and that makes it OK.

And calling what (allegedly) happened in that hotel room “non-consensual sex” suggests that it is something different, lesser, than rape. And why, as legal officials and the media, are we so keen to do that? If I read that sentence above right, he (allegedly) forced himself on her and then forced her to give him a blow job.

Let’s call that what it is, cos it’s not “having sex”. That requires consent, preferably vocally and enthusiastically. And every time we talk about a rapist “having sex” with someone, we make a really good thing bad, and a really bad thing slightly less horrible. Let’s not, OK?

Love and kisses,

Tallulah.

A New Kind Of Victim Blaming.

Let’s compare and contrast two paragraphs, shall we?

A generation ago, it was easier for men and women to understand what constituted rape because the social rules were clearer. Men were supposed to be the ones coming on to women, and women were said to be looking for relationships, not casual sex. But those boundaries and rules have been loosening up for decades, and now lots of women feel it’s perfectly okay to go out looking for a hookup or to be the aggressor, which may turn out fine for them — unless the signals get mixed or misread.

And

Later, she started working on a documentary about rape and, in the process of interviewing rape victims, discovered that a lot of them felt they had contributed somewhat to what happened. Because they thought they were (or should be) in control of their bodies and desires, says Shari, “they’d say things like ‘I should have done this’ or ‘I shouldn’t have been in that situation.’ But they’d also say, ‘If the guy had had respect for me, he would have backed off.’

Yeah, Cosmo, can you see why a rape victim might blame herself? Because not two sentences ago, YOU SAID IT WAS THEIR OWN FUCKING FAULT. No, really, that’s what you said.

There is no such thing as “Gray Rape”. There’s rape, and that’s it. Yes, there might be mitigating circumstances, but as soon as someone has sex with someone who hasn’t consented, it’s rape.

And look, we get a whole lot of the old kind of Victim Blaming too – What About Teh Menz! If she regrets it, she’ll say it was rape! Page Four: “This makes them more vulnerable to guys who are pushing for sex.”

Because don’t forget, as a woman, as part of the weaker sex – you’re vulnerable. You can’t expect those guys not  to rape you, because you’re such easy game.

“We all have vulnerabilities, and we all can be taken advantage of,” says Ludwig. “Though you’re successful at school, sports, whatever, you must see yourself — as a woman — as vulnerable. If you don’t, you’re at greater risk.”

And finally.

Under the law, a guy has to get a clear verbal or nonverbal yes from you to have sex. Just because you consent to one sexual activity (making out, even with few clothes on) does not mean you have given permission for any other. Also, silence doesn’t always equal consent, nor does being too drunk to know what you’re doing.

Yeah, it’s a shame every other word of this article gives lie to this statement. Fuck You, Cosmo. Seriously.

Who Are You?

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the effort, or the message. Or even the execution. This video is nothing if not triggering.  (No, seriously, it’s really triggering. A warning.)

And I understand what they are trying to do. Yes, we should all look out for our mates, making sure they don’t get drunk and put themselves in risky situations. Yes, bar staff and bouncers have a responsibility. A legal one, in fact. And probably, yes, that message could do with being reinforced*.

But you know what message never gets reinforced? The Don’t Rape People one. It’s never reinforced, because that message doesn’t seem to exist. It seems a tacit assumption that everyone knows it. When in fact, given the statistics, a bunch of people don’t. Where’s that 8 minute ad? And, in fact, where is it in this ad?

Where are the guy’s friends, the stand up ones? The ones calling him out for being a predatory dick, for targetting the drunk girl? I know those guys exist, I’ve seen them. I know them. As much as we shouldn’t let our friends get raped, we shouldn’t be letting them rape, either.

And of course, there’s all the subtle messages – rape happens to drunk, young, slight, blond girls in short, tight dresses. If you happen to be a drunk, young, slight, blond girl, you should probably have a slightly frumpier friend to look out for you. And of, course, the way you could have avoided this happening would be to not get drunk. Men who rape are obvious by their black clothing and leering.

But we’re getting there. This ad is targetted at a specific event, and a specific audience. There’s not the implicit victim-blaming of the infamous Julie ad. But just once, I wish instead of this:

Wellington police district crime manager Detective Inspector Mike Arnerich said other people could play a big part in reducing sexual violence. A simple intervention was to overtly take a photo of any suspicious person or behaviour on a cellphone camera: it might make them think again about pursuing an attack. “One of the big things is looking after your mates.”

it could go: “Mike Arnerich said people could play a big part in reducing sexual violence, by understanding what it is and not committing it. And stopping other people from committing it. We’re going to use this new campaign to really focus on criminals, and what we can do to prevent them hurting people.”

 

 

* Though, to be honest, I am not sure about that. Maybe I am just an extra-good friend, but I have always done this. I’ve always kept an eye on the people I am out with.

‘Cougar’ attack

So this is a Waikato Times article entitled “Cougar attack in Melville”. When I first read the headline I thought holy shit, there’s cougars in the Waikato – maybe they escaped from the Lion Man farms. My next thought however, was that perhaps they had meant cougar in the demeaning, sexually ravenous older women kind of way. And as much as I wanted to believe that surely no one would refer to a presumably violent incident in such a flippant way, it was with sinking hopes (and a memory that there were no cougars in Zion Wildlife Gardens) that I read the article. 

The article describes a sexual assault involving a 19 year old man being followed home by his 40 year old female neighbour, and her getting into bed with him and undressing him with the presumable intent to rape him before she was caught. It will be obvious to many Garden friends that the ‘hilarious’ title of this article makes light of the fact that this was a sexual assault, and it comes off the back of this article on a female-on-male sexual assault from Russia which was categorised as ‘oddstuff’ on Yahoo. 

The Russian story is problematic because it gleaned a lot of popularity through the idea that the rape was some kind of justifiable punishment, and that he ‘got what was coming to him’ and that female-on-male rape isn’t really rape. Even though the Waikato article isn’t explicitly saying “LOL whut?” the salacious nature of the headline, and the fact that the perpetrator is categorised through the use of the word ‘cougar’ as sexually voracious, is just as messed up as labeling the Russian story as ‘oddstuff’. 

The idea that female-on-male rape being somehow funny is problematic to all rape survivors as it continues a legacy of victim blaming and ‘natural impulse’ rhetoric. Most of the disbelief at men being raped comes from the idea that men are controlled by their sexual urges, always up for a root, and that if a woman wants to fuck – the man wants to fuck more. In these sorts of all too frequent conversations that follow reports of female-on-male sexual assault, there is also usually a mention of how ‘if a guy has a boner, he must be into it’. 

Not only is this all complete bullshit, but the natural progression from these sentiments is that if a woman gets raped by a man, it’s because he just couldn’t control the fact that he was always up for a root. 

Rape not sex, it is assault. It is also not about the sexual voracity of the perpetrator. Rape is about power, and using ‘cougar’ as a descriptor for the perpetrator is implying that she was basically just a randy older woman and bless her desperate wee heart.

We need to stop discussing any form of sexual assault in a titillating, jeer-inciting way, because making light of it is one of the strongest forms of rape culture which harms everyone.