20 Things You Can Do to Transform Rape Culture

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Maysie Maysie's picture
20 Things You Can Do to Transform Rape Culture

 

Maysie Maysie's picture

May is Sexual Assualt Prevention Month.

quote:

[b]
Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape
20 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO TRANSFORM RAPE CULTURE

1. Speak up. Don't listen quietly to sexist jokes or comments. Tell anyone who makes such comments, including your friends, that you're uncomfortable with how they portray woman.

2. Teach your children to respect children of the opposite gender. Model for them that each sex has an immeasurable value and that neither should be seen as better, more powerful, smarter, than the other.

3. Talk to boys about their sexuality. Tell them about their responsibility, too.

4. Talk to girls about their sexuality. Give them the information that will enable them to make intelligent, thoughtful, responsible decisions about their sexually. Tell them their body is their own and is for their pleasure.

5. Support your daughters, nieces, and neighbours. Encourage them to relish their mental and physical strength.

6. Don't be silent when you see a T-shirt, sign, poster, movie, or anything you find offensive to women. Say something.

7. Insist that your clergy talk about ending violence against women in your church, temple, synagogue.

8. Don't use words that perpetuate the language of the rape culture. Ask yourself if you would use the same word for a man. Ask yourself what the word you want to use implies.

9. Call your public officials. Find out what they're doing to transform the rape culture. Insist on their involvement.

10. Boycott movies that show women being sold, raped, and hurt by men. Help send a message that these portrayals of women will no longer be commercially successful.

11. Ask your child's school if they have a sexual harassment policy. If not, volunteer to serve on a committee to develop one.

12. Encourage men you know to explore and then act upon what it means to be anti-rapist and non-violent. Insist they have the courage to behave in ways that promote a safer society.

13. Make your home free from violence and sexism. Don't watch or allow your children to watch television, movies or read magazines that perpetuate violence and the rape culture.

14. Ask your employer if your firm or organization has a sexual harassment policy. Have they provided or will they provide training for employees on harassment? If not, form an employee committee to advocate for a policy and training.

15. Write letters to establishments you find offensive and tell your friends and colleagues to do the same. If there is no response, be prepared to take more direct (non-violent) action through information picketing, flyering, etc.

16. Have conversations of consent with a potential sexual partner. Verbally explore each other's comfort level with the activities taking place.

17. Learn to say "no". Learn that it is okay to be assertive. Know that it is possible to be respectful of others while asserting your feelings.

18. Support and promote women who provide positive role models. Celebrate the accomplishments of women with your children, partners, and friends. Teach others that the best women to look up to are the ones who are making a difference, not the ones who are the most famous, beautiful, and wealthy.

19. Remember: the rape culture is one for which we're all responsible, but don't blame the victim.

20. Dare to dream of a culture free of sexual and all other forms of violence…a rape culture transformed. [/b]


[ 17 May 2006: Message edited by: bigcitygal ]

oldgoat

Thanks bigcitygal. I especially like the points that seem to be addressed at parents and caregivers of children.

If we follow those points in particular, then some day point 20 won't be just a dream.

jeff house

I lot of those things are good ideas even for those who don't think that "rapeculture" is particularly descriptive of life in Canada, any more than "raceculture" or "theftculture" or "killculture" or whatever one's favoured cause might be.

Maysie Maysie's picture

I dunno Jeff, something that affects 1/3 of women in Canada seems pretty damn important to me.

More from Toronto Rape Crisis:

quote:

The purpose of the month is to raise public awareness of the issue of sexual violence against women.

In May of each year, women's organizations and communities across the province recognize Sexual Assault Prevention Month through participation in local events and distribution of sexual assault educational resources.

This year marks the 18th year that Ontario has recognized May as Sexual Assault Prevention Month

1. More than one-third of Canadian women report having had at least one experience of sexual assault since the age of 16.

2. Victimization surveys suggest that only 10% or fewer women who are sexually assaulted report these assaults to the police.

3. In cases reported to police, 80% of sexual assault victims knew the accused - they were friends, acquaintances or family members.

4. Children and young people under the age of 17 accounted for 61% of sexual assault cases reported to police.

5. About four-fifths of these victims were girls (80%), and more than two-thirds of these females were between 11 and 17 years old.

Sources:
1 & 2: Federal-Provincial-Territorial Minister's Responsible for the Status of Women "Assessing Violence Against Women: A Statistical Profile" 2002
3: Statistics Canada, "Sexual Offences" 2002
4 & 5: Statistics Canada "Children and Youth as Victims of Violent Crime" 2003


[ 17 May 2006: Message edited by: bigcitygal ]

Steve Tree

Forgive my ignorance, but could we define "rape culture?"

[ 18 May 2006: Message edited by: Steve Tree ]

Stargazer

I imagine a rape culture (minus the quotes because that shows you are questioning if the concept is valid) comprises of the following:

- excessive rape/degradation in the MS porn movement (straight porn)
- a justice system that does not do much, if anything, for rape victims
- a culture that allows and propagates that females are less, and therefore are ripe for picking because they are lesser people
- a culture that makes the shame of rape fall on the victim, not the criminal
- sorry, should have mentioned - a culture that knows the stats, yet hides and does nothing about fixing them

That's just the beginning. I'll think of a lot more....

[ 18 May 2006: Message edited by: Stargazer ]

greenie

quote:


Originally posted by Steve Tree:
[b]Forgive my ignorance, but could we definte "rape culture?"[/b]

Rape Culture.

That site has a lot of information including a dedicated section for what men should do.

Steve Tree

quote:


Originally posted by Stargazer:
[b]I imagine a rape culture (minus the quotes because that shows you are questioning if the concept is valid) comprises of the following:

- excessive rape/degradation in the MS porn movement (straight porn)
[ 18 May 2006: Message edited by: Stargazer ][/b]


Two questions: How do my quotations marks imply that? It's an innocent question.

The other question - what does the MS in "MS porn movement" indicate? (No patronizing intended by quotation marks - just grammar.)

(Sorry - these might seem like reinventing the wheel, but I'm interested in the topic, and don't recognize these terms.)

Steve Tree

quote:


Originally posted by greenie:
[b]

Rape Culture.

That site has a lot of information including a dedicated section for what men should do.[/b]


Thanks. A lot of that list, obviously, is pretty reasonable. A few things seemed a little odd:

*When you’re walking behind a woman at night who is alone, do you follow too closely or do you make an effort to cross to the other side of the street?

- Cross the street? No. And I really don't think there's anything wrong with that. That seems a little extreme.

*In elevators, do you do any thing to help a woman feel more at ease and safe?

- What would I do to make a woman feel safe in an elevator? Am I an implied threat?

*When you are introduced to a woman do you shake hands without any sexual overtones?

- I'm sorry - I wasn't aware that one could shake hands with sexual overtones. What would these consist of?

I really don't mean these as flippant questions. I saw the thread title, and was curious what I could do.

Stargazer

No actually, you don't appear to be curious so much as defensive. Re-read your questions and the answers you supplied.

I don't think you are legit, but that's just me.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Bullshit. You're trolling which is why everyone of your comments are questions. Either you have something to say on the topic or you don't.

writer writer's picture

Steve Tree, if you are really that curious, there is a whole big world to get information from. For a man to come into a feminism forum and ask uninformed questions is just not on.

Women created this forum for feminists, not as a kind of feminism 101 where guys can drop in and unload whatever is on their minds, assuming we'll respond with patience and respect.

You are not showing us respect with this behaviour.

It's great if you really want to get educated about this. Not so great if you are asking us to do your work for you. Actually, kind of ... uh ... [i]sexist[/i].

A lot of pro-feminist guys have written about this dynamic and what is wrong with it. They are doing the work for themselves, and are open to constructive criticism from their feminist sisters, as we are open to their informed and thoughtful insights.

You could start with an Internet search of "pro-feminism" and go from there.

Steve Tree

Look - I'm not trying to pick a fight. I saw a thread title suggesting that there are 20 things I can do to transform rape culture. I was curious, and read the thread. I had never seen a term before, and I asked if someone could define it for me.

Frankly, I thought this was an open discussion board, and if you really don't want anyone else to participate in this discussion, you should indicate it specifically. I'm really not trying to bother anyone.

As for treating other people with respect, well, I don't know, so far complete strangers have told me what I think on the basis of standard english punctuation, and that apparently I'm sexist for asking people to explain their responses.

If you don't want me to post here, then fine. I can live with that.

(Edited for spelling.)

[ 18 May 2006: Message edited by: Steve Tree ]

[ 18 May 2006: Message edited by: Steve Tree ]

writer writer's picture

The particular forum that this particular thread is in is the feminism forum. If you go to babble's home page ( [url=http://www.rabble.ca/babble/]http://www.rabble.ca/babble/[/url] ) you'll see that posters to this forum are asked to "Discuss feminist issues from a pro-feminist point of view".

You're new here, and don't necessarily know the lay of the land. You also don't know the history of anti-feminist men coming into this forum and pissing all over the place.

I'm not saying you are one of those guys. I am saying that some have lost patience with questions like yours, and are quick to assume the worst, simply because of what we've seen in the past.

Again, if you are really interested in this stuff, I encourage you to get educated about it, then come back with your insights when you are familiar with what it means to be pro-feminist.

[ 19 May 2006: Message edited by: writer ]

Sineed

quote:


When you are introduced to a woman do you shake hands without any sexual overtones?

For instance, I was introduced to a prominent man who took my offered hand, saying, "Sineed, I'm so very glad to meet you." And he felt all the way up to my shoulder. He was falling-down drunk, so I let it slide.

To be honest, I don't have a problem with Steve Tree. I've had lots of similar discussions with guys, though I understand that in this format, you can't read the non-verbal cues that would let you know if the person is being straight with you or not.

Steve Tree

quote:


Originally posted by writer:
[b]
The particular forum that this particular thread is in is the feminism forum. If you go to babble's home page ( [url=http://www.rabble.ca/babble/]http://www.rabble.ca/babble/[/url] ) you'll see that posters to this forum are asked to "Discuss feminist issues from a pro-feminist point of view".
You're new here, and don't necessarily know the lay of the land. You also don't know the history of anti-feminist men coming into this forum and pissing all over the place.

I'm not saying you are one of those guys. I am saying that some have lost patience with questions like yours, and are quick to assume the worst, simply because of what we've seen in the past.

Again, if you are really interested in this stuff, I encourage you to get educated about it, then come back with your insights when you familiar with what it means to be pro-feminist.

[/b]


Okay, that's fair enough. I figured there might be a history of such problems, and that was probably why people seemed a little touchy. Anyway, I've done some background reading, and will do some more (although I have yet to find a definition of "MS porn," despite the various interesting essays on feminist perspectives on pornography I've come across). In the meantime, I'm just asking for the benefit of the doubt.

quote:

Originally posted by Sineed:
[b]
For instance, I was introduced to a prominent man who took my offered hand, saying, "Sineed, I'm so very glad to meet you." And he felt all the way up to my shoulder. He was falling-down drunk, so I let it slide.
[/b]

Okay - I can certainly understand that. But, hypothetically speaking (as listed earlier), if you were walking home at night, would you rather have a man walking on the same side of the street cross to the other side of the street? (I mean, obviously some people look more threatening than others - but, speaking in general terms?)

[ 18 May 2006: Message edited by: Steve Tree ]

Stargazer

MS porn = main stream porn

As to whether I would want a man walking on the same side of the street or across the street late at night? Definitely the other side. No you are not all suspects, that would be ridicules. But there is always a potential for something bad to happen so why take a chance?

Most men and many women, at least where I live, make a point of talking to a lone woman in the elevator. Gives her a sense of safety that she otherwise would not get.

And yes, some men are very threatening (the latter term dependent upon a whole slew of things).

What some men don't seem to comprehend is that quite a few women have been assaulted by people at some time in their lives so it is only natural to want to protect yourself. i would also assume men knew this stat (because it is a no-brainer) and would be kind enough to make sure a woman feels comfortable and that the man isn't seen by the woman as a potential threat. In fact, many men I know go out of their way to ensure they don't get labeled as threats and help make situations for lone women comfortable.

RP.

quote:


Originally posted by Steve Tree:
[b] if you were walking home at night, would rather have a man walking on the same side of the street cross to the other side of the street? (I mean, obviously some people look more threatening than others - but, speaking in general terms?)[/b]

I thought that was just common sense. I understand the desire to understand, and I do think you're asking questions innocently. But you are questioning, that is, putting into question, women's experience, whether you mean to or not.

Anyway, I try not to post in the feminist forum anymore. I find it better to sit back and just read. Feminists don't need me to chime in with my male perspective, but I do need to learn what women's experience is like.

This idea really had to be pounded into my head, but it really is worthwhile and valuable for me as a privileged person (white, protestant, anglo, hetero, male) to let marginalized voices just speak without my interjection.

Stargazer

RP thanks for that great post! You said it very eloquently.

Steve Tree

quote:


Originally posted by Stargazer:
[b]MS porn = main stream porn

As to whether I would want a man walking on the same side of the street or across the street late at night? Definitely the other side. No you are not all suspects, that would be ridicules. But there is always a potential for something bad to happen so why take a chance?

Most men and many women, at least where I live, make a point of talking to a lone woman in the elevator. Gives her a sense of safety that she otherwise would not get.
[/b]


Thanks - that makes things much clearer. Honestly, it would never have occured to me to cross the street, but I'll keep that in mind. Obviously, talking in the elevator makes sense - I had just never considered that as being a particularly sensitive environment. (I'm clearly approaching this from a different perspective, which is why I ask.)

RP - generally, I'd be inclined to agree with you, but this seemed like a topic that was directed at men as much as women. In future, I'll try to pick my places a little bit more though, as I seem to have been a bit of a disruption. [img]frown.gif" border="0[/img]

Stargazer

Steve, you can't go wrong if you are being honest. Ask questions, just expect some people to be gun shy because too ofetn this forum is trolled by very hateful people.

Steve Tree

Cool - understood. I am, as noted, new here, and still feeling out the lay of the land.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Hi Steve Tree,

I see Stargazer and RP have said what I was going to say to you, so I will say welcome to babble and welcome to the feminist forum.

One thing I will suggest is that if you are truly interested in talking about a feminist issue that you don't get and want to get, start a thread about it, with a subject line like "Beginner feminism question" or something like that. Those of us who have energy and patience for the issue (this can change on a daily or hourly basis [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img] ) will engage with you. Those of us who don't, won't.

Summer

I'm new too and haven't been here to see much trolling, so am not as fustrated as others. I think it's great when men take an interest in the feminist perspective, so here is my take on your original questions

quote:

Originally posted by Steve Tree:
[b]

*When you’re walking behind a woman at night who is alone, do you follow too closely or do you make an effort to cross to the other side of the street?

- Cross the street? No. And I really don't think there's anything wrong with that. That seems a little extreme.
[/b]


And that attitude makes sense from a man who would never dream of ever attacking a woman. The unfortunate truth is not all men are nice guys and we can't tell them apart on sight alone. I know the odds of being attacked by a stranger on the street are very slim, but that does not stop my heart from racing on the rare occasion that I pass by someone and get an uncomfortable vibe. I fully admit that it is likely all in my head. Still, I really appreciate the man that gives me lots of room on the sidewalk late at night.

quote:

Originally posted by Steve Tree:
[b]
*In elevators, do you do any thing to help a woman feel more at ease and safe?

- What would I do to make a woman feel safe in an elevator? Am I an implied threat?
[/b]


Same idea once again. I have never had this experience, but I had a co-worker who was sexually assaulted in an elevator by another co-worker. Again, normal people like space in an elevator and will try to stay as far as possible from others (ie. corner, corner, corner, corner, middle, always staying straight ahead). Imagine how weird you would feel if instead of the stranger in the elevator moving to the opposite corner, they stood right beside you.

quote:

Originally posted by Steve Tree:
[b]
*When you are introduced to a woman do you shake hands without any sexual overtones?

- I'm sorry - I wasn't aware that one could shake hands with sexual overtones. What would these consist of?
[/b]


I'm sure I'm not the only women who has shaken hands with someone who tickles your palm and looks at you suggestively. It's like the people who do the kisses on the cheek and come in way too close to your lips or sometimes even on your lips.

Like I said at the beginning, you would probably never dream of doing any of the things I have described above, so it makes a certain degree of sense that the suggestions seem absurd to you.

I hope you continue to take in interest in the forum.

Fidel

I think the men who act like that are insecure with their own sexuality. And I think they must also have low self-esteem to believe they have to be in a woman's face all the time, as if to increase their chances for whatever. Women are capable of noticing men without them invading personal space. Some men just don't want to work at gaining a woman's trust and admiration, and refuse to accept that women in general just don't find them attractive, physically and otherwise. And women are capable of having and demonstrating great affection for the worst of us, I'm sorry to have to admit.

And younger women these days aren't above perpetrating cat calls themselves when in groups of two or more, although it's more common among men, definitely.

arborman

I HATE when I find myself on my way to a destination, off in my own world, and then suddenly realize I'm making someone nervous.

I'm a big guy (6'4"), and I've been told my neutral (spaced out) face is a bit stern. I also walk a lot (almost exclusively). So I very often have these sudden realizations that I'm strolling along 10 or 20 or 40 feet behind a woman who happens to be walking the same direction as me.

What I do depends on the situation. Sometimes, depending on where it is, I think it's better to wait for a well-lit area, then speed up and pass her (with lots of room) - though I worry that it will result in a nervous moment for her.

Most of the time I'll cross the street or turn a corner as soon as possible. It's a big city, there are lots of routes to wherever I'm going. This can be problematic if I'm in a hurry (i.e. late for a meeting or something).

It is most uncomfortable when I am going to the same place as whomever the woman is - the same apartment building or something. I imagine it must be pretty creepy to have someone appear to be following you for blocks, then turn into your building as well.

I fully understand the issue - I remember being a bit freaked out as a kid when big people appeared to be following me. The worst part is that sometimes women [i]are[/i] targeted in our society, which means that women are quite justified in feeling nervous when some stranger happens to be walking the same direction as them.

CMOT Dibbler

Forget it. Dumb post.

[ 27 May 2006: Message edited by: CMOT Dibbler ]

Stargazer

What a great thread. It's sad that so many men have to be super aware of how women may feel threatened when so many men do not engage in such negative behaviour. But the sad truth is, those who do have made some of us hyper sensitive to things such as being alone in elevators, etc.

I know it must be hard and I really appreciate the conversation made in the elevator and the way some men go out of their way to make us feel safe. I just want to say thanks to the men who listen and understand and don't make us feel stupid for things that sometimes we already feel stupid for feeling.

I hope that made sense.

quelar

I'm glad you appreciate it, ~I~ have to cross the road (which I do a lot of the time - I also do the 'speed past' in appropriate situations), I have to make idle conversation in the elevators with people (I just hate the silent ride no matter who's in there), I've called friends out with 'offensive' jokes about women, etc etc... and it pisses me that I have to do these things because a surprisingly large percent of our population are a bunch of assholes.

I've been lurking in the variety of threads about this issue, but don't feel that I had much to interject, but I would like to point out about this thread that yes, there are things that women can do to improve things, but sorry ladies, the VAST majority of work needs to be done my the guys.

Men are the overwhelming perpetrators, we propegate stereotypes and cultural biases, and until we get our shit together I don't know how much change you can effect on your own.

Don't take that as a 'leave us alone' or anything like that, keep yelling and screaming and pointing out the injustices, but the male 'locker room' attitude is the biggest problem that is still a cultural artifact that doesn't seem to want to die off with the age it belonged* in.

* it doesn't actually 'belong' anywhere, but I'm not finding a good word here.

remind remind's picture

quote:


Originally posted by quelar:
[b]...I've been lurking in the variety of threads about this issue, but don't feel that I had much to interject, but I would like to point out about this thread that yes, there are things that women can do to improve things, but sorry ladies, the VAST majority of work needs to be done my the guys.

Men are the overwhelming perpetrators, we propegate stereotypes and cultural biases, and until we get our shit together I don't know how much change you can effect on your own.[/b]


Glad you said all that you have quelar!

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Merowe

...and removed, by Merowe

Maysie Maysie's picture

I just came across this amazing blog. 

Rape Culture 101

The post is from 2009 but so relevant, especially on the eve of the Toronto Take Back the Night rally and march this Saturday.

Quote:

Rape culture is tasking victims with the burden of rape prevention. Rape culture is encouraging women to take self-defense as though that is the only solution required to preventing rape. Rape culture is admonishing women to "learn common sense" or "be more responsible" or "be aware of barroom risks" or "avoid these places" or "don't dress this way," and failing to admonish men to not rape.

Quote:

Rape culture is pervasive narratives about rape that exist despite evidence to the contrary. Rape culture is pervasive imagery of stranger rape, even though women are three times more likely to be raped by someone they know than a stranger, and nine times more likely to be raped in their home, the home of someone they know, or anywhere else than being raped on the street, making what is commonly referred to as "date rape" by far the most prevalent type of rape. Rape culture is pervasive insistence that false reports are common, although they are less common (1.6%) than false reports of auto theft (2.6%). Rape culture is pervasive claims that women make rape accusations willy-nilly, when 61% of rapes remain unreported.

Note: There are numerous hyperlinks embedded in the quoted text that didn't come through with the formatting here.

Red Tory Tea Girl

Stargazer wrote:
MS porn = main stream porn

What some men don't seem to comprehend is that quite a few women have been assaulted by people at some time in their lives so it is only natural to want to protect yourself. i would also assume men knew this stat (because it is a no-brainer) and would be kind enough to make sure a woman feels comfortable and that the man isn't seen by the woman as a potential threat. In fact, many men I know go out of their way to ensure they don't get labeled as threats and help make situations for lone women comfortable.

I think we'd also make some progress if we didn't erase the rape that men are victims of... 1 in 6 of them by the age of 16, and not even close to being victimized solely by men.

1in6.org

We have to stop looking at this as a unidirectional issue and start looking at it as a respect for bodily integrity issue... when women are told that we can't rape, we enable those rapists who are women... we enable disrespect for the boundaries of our partners as well.

Michelle

Speaking of rape culture...

University of New Brunswick Security posted an excellent video on Twitter.  This is the video they posted.

For those who can't watch it, the video is a PSA from New Zealand, showing a stream of events in an evening out drinking and dancing that ends in a sexual assault.  At several stages of the evening, people around the woman who was too drunk to consent had opportunities to step in when they could see that a guy was taking advantage of her, but they hesitated and lost the opportunity to intervene.  The video then does a rewind to each of those opportunities before the sexual assault and shows how the people who hesitated could have stepped in - the roommate could have stepped in and told the guy he's sleeping on the couch while helping her roommate to bed.  The guys in line at the bar could have told the bouncer that the woman didn't look safe with the guy dragging her out of the bar.  The bartender could have asked her who she was there with and called her friend over to help her.  Her friend could have stepped in when she saw the guy getting too handsy on the dance floor when she was clearly out of it.

Great video!

So what does the University of New Brunswick Security take from the video?  This is the tweet that accompanied the link:

Quote:

UNB Security

Alcohol overconsumption = sexual assaults http://www.whoareyou.co.nz

So let's get this straight.  What this security outfit gets out of this video is that sexual assault is caused by the sexual assault victim by drinking too much.  What they get out of the video, the main point of which is that friends and bystanders should step in when some scuzz looks like he's getting ready to sexually assault a woman who is too drunk to consent, is that it's the victim's fault for drinking too much.  They post a link to a video for which they completely MISSED THE POINT.

What is rape culture?  Rape culture is when those who are supposed to ensure the security of students on campus perpetuate victim blaming for sexual assault.  This is no better than the police officer who advised women not to "dress like sluts" if they don't want to be raped.

What can UNB Security do to transform rape culture?  Oh, I don't know, maybe DON'T BLAME THE VICTIM/SURVIVOR.  That might be a start.

Bacchus

Nor can you blame bystanders who did nothing. Not their job and lots of people dont want to get involved for fear of themselves being attacked ala the many MSM stories of bystanders getting killed or pummelled when trying to help.

 

It is the attacker that needs transforming. It is the culture that promotes, winks at, allows or otherwise creates the culture that sex however you get it is cool.

 

That you shouldnt drag a woman (or man or child) off the street using a weapon to assault them, that ones just about there. but its all the shades of grey/black after that we need to transform

ryanw

I think both parties fell into the overconsumption category; if the police force is letting guys know that "hey, when you drink you become a rapist(and you'll get caught)" maybe now men will stop and take notice of that.

people can deconstruct the culpability of the various secondary characters if they want

at least there wasn't someone sitting in the situation with all the answers who did nothing except blame everyone else after the fact

Maysie Maysie's picture

Street Harassment is part of rape culture.

A Letter to the Guy Who Harassed Me Outside the Bar

Quote:

It's a drizzly Friday in Chicago and I'm leaving a bar with my roommate sometime after midnight. We’re on a quest for tacos and we’re discussing the finer points—Should we get pork or beef? From where? How many?—when you decide to make our conversation your business. You’ve been loitering outside the bar with your friends, but you hear the word “taco” and soon you’re in lock step with us, asking us about our "tacos," laughing, hooting back to your friends. We push past—literally shoving you—and continue on our way.

Here are some things you should know about my week: I'm on the phone with my mom on my way to yoga when a guy leans out of a doorway, drags on his cigarette and gestures with his pelvis how much he is enjoying my yoga pants. I'm walking home from the grocery store and a middle-aged guy, maybe high, maybe drunk, yells at me, "Get back here, girl!" I’m waiting for the bus when a carful of bros whips by; one leans out the passenger window, points at the girls waiting at the bus stop and yells, "Yes, Yes, No...Yes!" After work, I'm walking from the train to my apartment and four teenagers are trailing me, discussing my body, guessing measurements; they know I can hear them.

....

in your world, this is just you being clever and hilarious, just a little light-hearted late-night banter! Where's my sense of humor? Dude, you are the third, or fifth, or ninth man this week to be rude to me, to think that what you want—to get a rise from your friends, to make your desire known, to make me uncomfortable, to project some twisted "proof" of your virility into the air—is more important than my comfort or safety. This is not an anomaly. This is constant.

 

 

Maysie Maysie's picture

Can I buy you a coffee? A parable.

Quote:

“Excuse me,” she asked.  “Can I buy you a coffee?”

It was a nice surprise.  Most people don’t buy me cups of coffee, and I was just sitting at the Starbucks trying to plot my novel.  So it was kind of charming, to have a cute girl offer to buy me a free drink.  I told her sure.

She brought me a nice iced chai, and sat down next to me, and then asked, “So have you heard about Jesus?”

Now, as it turns out, I’m a Christian, so I’m not opposed to Jesus – but it was a little disappointing to realize this drink wasn’t done out of niceness, but as a sort of recruiting tool.

.....

Over the next week, it just got worse.  Two or three times a day I’d be deep in thought, trying to focus on this tangled plotting that I needed to resolve, and some woman would tap me on the shoulder to offer me a cup of coffee.  I couldn’t concentrate, because sometimes they were very insistent: “You sure you don’t want a coffee, sweetie?” they’d ask, sometimes lurking over me after I’d refused them, just in case I changed my mind.  Sometimes they just bought the coffee for me anyway, without even asking me if I wanted it, plopping themselves across the table from me and yammering on about being saved.

It was affecting my concentration.  I started to tense up at the Starbucks, waiting for the next Jesus freak’s interruption.  If it was a regular thing, like an hourly interruption, then maybe I could have worked around it, but it was erratic.  Some days, I’d have four or five at once, other days I’d be blissedly free of interruption.  But I had to be continually braced for the next hand on my shoulder, knowing that no matter what I was doing they’d be bursting into my personal space.  I wrote less, my programs were buggier.

Quote:

Sineed

One of my Facebook friends introduced me to Hollaback, the growing international anti-street harrassment movement. We need one in Toronto!

http://ottawa.ihollaback.org/

Quote:
The myth that street harassment is strictly based on what you wear is debunked during winter when most of us are bundled up from head to toe and quickly walking to where we want to go. And yet, creepers be creepin’ nonetheless.

About 25 years ago I was walking to a bar to meet some friends. It was about -25C, but a van pulled up beside me, slows down, the window rolls down, guy says, "Hey baby!" Then his van stalls. As I continue down the street, I'm giggling inside my layers listening as the guy tries in futility to make the engine turn over. When I got to the bar and told my friends, I quipped, "How could he even tell I was female?"

lagatta

It is good to look back at this thread in light of the rape and rape cover-up allegations swirling in the British Socialist Workers' Party, the largest far-left group in that country.

Harpy Marx has an interesting socialist-feminist perspective not only on that misogynist crap, but also on other issues such as poverty, poor-bashing and food banks - and yep, art and iiterature: http://harpymarx.wordpress.com/

Tehanu

[Hi babble! Smile]

 

Bacchus wrote:
Nor can you blame bystanders who did nothing. Not their job and lots of people dont want to get involved for fear of themselves being attacked ala the many MSM stories of bystanders getting killed or pummelled when trying to help.

Blame? No. And of course the responsibility for sexual assault is on the perpetrator. And the point of rape culture is that so many aspects of the society we live in enable the perpetrators. In far too many cases this leads to the survivor being questioned or blamed, and especially wrenchingly cause her (him) to question themselves as well. "If only I hadn't ..." is far too common.

The other thing to keep in mind is the myth that the majority of sexual assault are stranger rapes. Women are more likely to be assaulted by people they know. Which also means the people around them have the opportunity to pick up on cues. There's a great article here about [url=http://captainawkward.com/2012/08/07/322-323-my-friend-group-has-a-case-..."creepers" in friend groups[/url], and how their behaviour is enabled.

So often the people witnessing a situation leading to sexual assault could have done something to intervene, if they had the skills and confidence to do so. Intervention is not confrontation, and I think part of the problem is that we assume it is, and that it therefore carries with it personal danger.

Bystander intervention training is just now starting to really take off, and not only in sexual assault prevention but also in anti-bullying programs and suicide prevention. The basic premise of this type of training is to identify situations and learn how to intervene in them effectively. Part of that is learning to overcome our own barriers to intervening, and personal safety is of course one of them. As well, for many people, learning to identify problematic situations in the first place is important, because they may not be aware of what they look like (this is how pervasive rape culture really is!). There are strategies around different ways to intervene, many of which are non-threatening or indirect, so as to avoid the scenario you're talking about of the bystander getting hurt.

What's more likely to be a major barrier (I know it is for me) is that we're highly socialized in this culture to "mind our own business," rather than being taught how to check in with someone to make sure they're okay. Ick, seriously uncomfortable and awkward, right? But since doing a lot of different training sessions (as recipient and as trainer) it gets easier and easier with practice, and I have yet to encounter anyone who's not grateful that someone noticed they might need help, even if they actually didn't. Plus, each time I do check in with someone I get a nice warm fuzzy altruistic glow!

Someone who's concerned about another person's safety can speak to them about it directly ("Are you okay?" or to the person who seems threatening, "hey, it looks like she's feeling uncomfortable, how about we head over here and leave her alone?") but it can also be indirect, through breaking into a conversation, pulling someone aside to check in with them without the other person hearing, or providing some kind of distraction to break things up. There's also the option of finding someone else to help out, who may be in a better position to be of assistance. The main point of all of this is that there are many different ways to intervene; the key thing is when we see a potentially harmful situation we know how do something about it.

As well, most programs I've seen include how to address hurtful language, attitudes and actions that can contribute to enabling a harmful environment -- which will sound very familiar to those of us who've been working for a while on anti-oppression training. The great thing about that is that it can help on a broader community level to change attitudes.

I think this emerging focus on bystander intervention is fantastic. It helps us all share the responsibility for each others' safety and well-being, and gives us the tools we need to be able to help each other. Broadly speaking, it is something that has the potential to make a significant difference.

There are some issues that are still being worked out, and no program is a panacea, but I find this approach empowering and powerful.

 

A few examples:

[url=http://www.livethegreendot.com/gd_strategy.html]Green Dot sexual assault prevention (they use the terminology of power-based personal violence)[/url].

[url=http://www.livingworks.net/page/safeTALK]SafeTalk suicide intervention training[/url].

[url=http://www.teachsafeschools.org/bully_menu5-2.html]Teach Safe Schools anti-bullying program[/url].

Bacchus

I dont disagree T, its just that the ad is dumb. The bartender and bouncer? The bouncers job is to watch out for and stop problems in the club/bar. Specifically underage drinking, fights, theft etc. I doubt he would even notice a drunk woman or man unless they were being loud or a problem in some way. The bartender is there to serve drinks and most are way too busy serving and making sure the drinks are paid for and not underage and not too drunk to serve to notice anything. 

Bytanders not in the circle of friends with the drunk woman? Same thing, prob not even noticing the signs or understanding the significance. All of those I would even say enable the crime

 

Now her friends there, THATS different

Caissa

That post is a year and a half old, jas.

Tehanu

Bacchus wrote:
I dont disagree T, its just that the ad is dumb. The bartender and bouncer? The bouncers job is to watch out for and stop problems in the club/bar. Specifically underage drinking, fights, theft etc. I doubt he would even notice a drunk woman or man unless they were being loud or a problem in some way. The bartender is there to serve drinks and most are way too busy serving and making sure the drinks are paid for and not underage and not too drunk to serve to notice anything. 

Bytanders not in the circle of friends with the drunk woman? Same thing, prob not even noticing the signs or understanding the significance. All of those I would even say enable the crime

 

Now her friends there, THATS different

Yabbut. I actually DO think it's the bartender's and bouncer's job to keep an eye out for such situations, and to invervene, and they would be people I would go to for assistance in a situation when I didn't feel comfortable intervening myself. If it's not their job, I'd argue it sure should be. You mentioned keeping an eye out for fights and thefts, so why not sexual assault predation too?

Bartenders and bouncers are (presumably) sober. They're trained to recognize drunkenness and also body language. They are more likely to be scanning the bar or club visually. They have access to resources in terms of fellow staff members and also security/police. And they should have a vested interest in the safety and well-being of their customers.

Strangers in the bar? Also people who can intervene. You and I can easily pick up on the vibe of a questionable situation, and people can also be trained about signs to watch out for. I'm going to use male-predating-on-female examples here, and you can see them in the ad, but it probably goes for other gender pairings as well. Things like hovering body language on the part of the man, when the woman is turned away or not making eye contact. Or the woman seeming much more drunk than the man. The guy buying her a lot of strong drinks ... or even putting something in a drink, although it's worth remembering that alcohol is a just dandy date rape drug all on its own. The guy isolating the woman from her group of friends. And so on.

It takes 30 seconds for a stranger to check in and assess the situation more closely.

The other thing is that it's a pretty powerful message against rape culture assumptions if a stranger recognizes a situation is amiss and intervenes.

Relying on friends is important, sure. Lots of young women these days use a "buddy" system when they go out. But I think we can all play a role in our community's safety. And relying on buddy systems is just another example of how women are forced to try and take steps to "keep themselves safe" without addressing the underlying reasons for that lack of safety. And another way for them to get blamed if anything happens ...

I actually think that NZ ad was excellent, because among other things it demonstrated some really simple strategies for intervening. And you'll note that all of them were quick and easy and for the most part non-threatening to the guy being predatory. [One thing is that I myself had a visceral reaction to watching it because of my own and friends' experiences so I think a trigger warning could have been useful at the start of it.]

I also want to reiterate the importance of peer group members challenging the culture within their group (c.f. the article I posted above, and also the comments on it). If sexual predators were less validated and actually felt that their friends were keeping an eye on them, and challenging them when necessary, I suspect we'd see a whole lot less sexual assault.

MegB

Well, the idea that women's expressed sexuality makes her responsible for sexual assault needs to be consistently challenged. "She was wearing..." or "we were both drunk", or "she was looking for it" still hold credence. 

Obviously it's the responsibility of the perpetrator for the assault, but as pointed out, society, by clinging to the above beliefs, facilitates the blame being centred on the subject of the sexual assault.  So what should we do?

I honestly don't know.  I don't think it's something that women need to change, but rather something in society that needs to change in order to reduce the (largely male) need to dominate.  

Maysie Maysie's picture

*waves madly at Tehanu*

Deep breath.

Think about it this way. A man is at a bar with friends, getting drunker and more belligerent towards other men, threatening them, being a bully, and starting to create a scene, freaking out the other customers, etc. He will occassionally stand up and yell things at people, shove them or move like he's going to shove them. I think even the most not-on-board person would agree 1. That this behaviour is unacceptable and 2. That it would be the justifiable role of anyone in this man's purview (bartender, bouncer, friends, strangers) to say something to the guy, try to de-escalate him, or at least eject him from the bar. Or, get up in his face and tell him to knock it the fuck off.

Why?

His presence is causing others, men and women, to be uncomfortable, or at the very least is ruining the fun vibe of going out and having fun.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

Rape culture allows this exact thing to happen, because in (heterosexist) rape culture, when something happens only to women it's not a big deal. Or, she was asking for it, she was an active participant, and all the other bullshit we hear which are lies and myths to sustain rape culture.

Nobody would say that the man who happens to be sitting beside Mr. Belligerent and is nodding along just to keep things cool was asking for anything when Mr B threatens to punch him. Why do some say this when it's violence/predatory behaviour towards a woman? (Answer: rape culture)

ryanw

I think the distinction between intervention and confrontation will be lost on perpetrators especially when alcohol is involved

in that great article their creeper isn't even in a social scene, his reality has already started a confrontation with anyone who delays his  violent entitled purpose.

Drunks are violent, there is a prevailing culture to look the other way, there is a great deal of danger in speaking up and that knowledge speaks loudly to choose the situations when to speak out with as much importantance as speaking at all opportunities to "get better at it"

if your friends are creepers or have creeper qualities that would be the ideal situation, following that; when you have supports from friends and staff and you are not isolated(this category pretty much encompasses all staff on the job) and then all other circumstances when you have progressively less resources for escalations.

 

6079_Smith_W

@ ryanw

Unfortunately when one is the object of that violence you don't have the option of just looking the other way.

Yes, a creep may not know the difference between intervention and confrontation, and yes it can be intimidating.

I can't say when the appropriate time is to say or do something, because we're talking theory here. The ultimate goal, after all is to prevent abuse, not practice intervention skills, I agree.

But there is a point in every situation like that where one has to choose whether to act or not. And I think everyone bears responsibility for that choice.

jas

Why does Red Tory Tea Girl get a pass for her statement where no one here would tolerate such a comment from a man?

It's not that men and boys don't also get raped. But the site she links is dealing for the most part with child sexual abuse, which we already acknowledge is a reality. Her comment completely misses the point about rape culture. 

(sorry to detract from Tehanu's great post.)

 

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