Part 17: Rape Culture: What Can We Do?

By January 13, 2014Gender & Faith, Women
In this series, guest blogger Toria has helped us consider rape culture and how better to “do justice” for women. Here she tells what we can do about rape culture. Warning: May contain explicit images, language, and/or triggers. 

In the month that it took me to write this series—I kept finding new things I needed to cover, and there are still several aspects that I didn’t even touch—I barely paid attention to this section, because it seemed like the hardest to write.
There is so much that needs to be done to fight rape culture, but thankfully, anyone can do them. Here are a few ideas:
•  Participate in or support slut-walks, protest marches that raise awareness. Slut-walks fight the idea that rape victims deserved their attacks because of what they were wearing and because of their sexual history. (Be aware that this mainly focuses on the victims who do not belong to religions that require face veils or any other sort of coverings, though.)
•  Educate people. If someone you know says anything that falls under victim-blaming or slut-shaming, or makes light of rape and assault, call him or her out on it. People will never learn if someone doesn’t tell them what they’re doing is thoroughly messed up.
•  Stick up for women. If you see a woman being harassed, attacked, or even just looking uncomfortable, try to find a non-invasive way to reach out to her. Don’t pressure her, but let her know that if she needs help or someone to talk to, you’re there. If she can’t stick up for herself, but you can without putting yourself in jeopardy, do it. If you need to intervene but cannot safely do so, call the police.
•  Help to promote anti-rape campaigns like “Don’t Be That Guy,” which aims to show people what does and does not constitute consent using ad space on billboards, posters, public transportation, and so on. Studies show that when this campaign was implemented in Vancouver, British Columbia, reports of rape and assault went down by about 10%.
•  Call people out if they participate in street harassment (or any other kind of harassment, for that matter). Just letting it happen teaches the perpetrators that it’s okay. Again, don’t do this if you feel it will put you in danger—only do it if you can do it safely. If you can’t, call the police.
•  Parents, especially fathers, show sons how to properly respect women and girls and teach them about boundaries. Daughters also need to be taught that everyone should respect their bodies, including themselves and the people they choose to date and have physical relationships with.
There are literally so many other things that you can do. Basically, if you see rape culture in action, speak out against it. Pull it into the light so people can see it for what it is. That is the most important thing you can do.
BEAR IN MIND
I know this has been a long, depressing slog, so I’ll leave you with this. I found the following quote by Andrea Dworkin on dictionary.com while I was looking up the definitions I used at the beginning of this piece:
“Rape is no excess, no aberration, no accident, no mistake—it embodies sexuality as the culture defines it. As long as these definitions remain intact—that is, as long as men are defined as sexual aggressors and women are defined as passive receptors lacking integrity—men who are exemplars of the norm will rape women.”

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