the lip crew on rape culture
The writing is on the wall.
‘There are few things that manifest such a violently ill feeling in me as rape. Unfortunately for my nerves and my stomach, its culture manifests around us as pop culture frequently desecrates women’s sexual agency and victim blaming still resonates as a disgustingly appropriate means to control women’s behaviour across the world. Rape affects men too, disgustingly, but these are the things that most make my blood boil as a woman who has female friends that have had their sexual agency compromised or completely ignored. The opposite of rape culture is of course consent culture. Consent culture isn’t as big as it needs to be. This partly has to do with the fact that mainstream education (whether through schooling, media, or chats with friends and family alike) on consent doesn’t teach much other than identifying it with the clear cut verbalisation of “yes” or “no”. More often than not, however, teaching consent focuses on the “no” part or is completely ignored for the sake of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. I strongly believe if consent was more readily explored in education, rape culture would lose part of its footing. This year, I was fortunate enough to come across sex positive consent education – cause sometimes we wanna say yes and sometimes we gotta say no. I think the benefit of such courses is they allow people to negotiate through intimacy, learning communication tools (for both saying yes and no, and learning how to stand your ground in the case of the latter) for respecting the choices of their partner(s) and having their own needs respected.’ – Sarah Iuliano, Writer
‘During the inaugural SlutWalk in Toronto one of the speakers talked about the oft-repeated metaphor used by rape apologists: “If you leave a bank/car/house unlocked you can’t expect not to be robbed.” This idea is in the back of my mind every time I go out. It makes me defensive when probably very nice men talk to me; insecure whenever I want to wear shorts in the summer; hyper-vigilant when I’m out at any time but especially after dark. Rape culture makes me second-guess the decisions I make trying to exist in public spaces as a woman, even though I know, statistically, these “precautions” are futile. It’s maddening but like every other form of bigotry, it’s also brilliant in its ability to police the actions of large groups of people.
I’m not really sure what to do about it: in theory, yes, but not in practice. I know that we need to stop internalising messages about gender that say women are moving targets and men are natural threats. I know that the definitions of chastity and promiscuity contribute to our ideas about self-worth. I know that women should feel free to wear and do and be whatever they want, wherever they want, but I still feel unsafe. My sex, gender, race and size are all things that contribute to how I assess my own level of security while doing something as mundane as catching a train. I can write and talk about rape culture as much as I want but I truly believe that unless people start to “get” it and change their thinking about so many incremental things, only a minority of people will feel safe in their bodies and supported by their communities when they need it.’ – Shannon Clarke, Writer
‘My biggest pet peeve about rape culture (aside from my being afraid to walk alone at night and wondering if what I’m wearing is slutty and if really, did I deserve it after all) is that rape culture perpetuates in tiny noxious ways. Ways that if pointed out are loudly defended. It’s the use of little words, phrases, and jokes. It’s the way that people refer to hacking someone’s status as “Facebook raping”. Instead of saying you found something difficult or you failed at something, now you were “raped” by that assignment, or the other touch footy team totally “raped” you. Once called on these phrases, people jump up and down, screaming about their right to free speech (not real in Australia), or push the question back, asking why SOME rape jokes are okay but not others. The answer is this: if your rape joke makes fun of the person or thing that has had their power taken away, then it isn’t funny. It’s not “making light of a dark subject”. The joke is laughing at the victims of rape, and denying that their experience is real and life-destroying. Maybe next time you want to be avant garde in your humour, try making fun of rapists instead.’ – Tasha Llewellyn, Writer
‘One night at a nightclub my friend took a bad pill, which temporarily paralysed her. A male friend put her in a taxi and took her home, and when she woke up naked in his bed the next morning she wasn’t sure what had happened. The last thing she remembered was sitting on his bed, still unable to move, and the vague impression that he was undressing her in the dark. She never confronted him because they’d had consensual drunken sex on several previous occasions, and because she was reluctant to accuse him of something which she couldn’t remember. Rape culture encourages women to feel responsible for their own assault, to feel they are responsible for the actions of their assaulters.
Rape culture cultivates a dismissive attitude towards some sexual assaults, because they do not conform to the stereotype of a shadowy stranger preying on lone women. The notion that some kinds of rape are better than others or that rape can be divided into gradations of severity (that there are blurred lines, grey areas, and “rape-rape”) is insidious and increasingly common.
Rape culture is everywhere. It’s the keys stuck between my knuckles when I’m walking home at night. It’s getting into a taxi alone and immediately texting the driver’s ID number to my housemate. It’s strangers on the street telling me to smile and then abusing me when I don’t oblige. It’s Facebook comment threads where both men and women defend the supposed humour behind memes like Rape Sloth. Rape culture encourages women to become complicit in perpetuating the culture that damages them, because they feel safer positioned within it rather than against it.’ – Veronica Sullivan, Writer
‘You know, honestly, I have no idea what to say about this one. When we live without fear and anxiety about ourselves, we will no longer feel the need to denigrate, intimidate or threaten others. Unfortunately we currently live in a world where the dominant culture actively works to create self loathing. Culture does not simply exist – it is created collectively and constantly, and you are a part of it, whether you desire to be or not. If you think the old phrase “be the change you want to see” is lame, or stupid, or futile, then you are probably part of the problem.’ – Audrey K Hulm, Writer