Image courtesy of Garry Knight via Flickr.
Two months ago, a Reddit user mused about how there were a lot of Reddit threads about sexual assaults, but nothing from the other side. The user asks rapists, “what were your motivations? Do you regret it?” What follows is almost 15, 000 posts rife with rape apology, victim blaming…and illumination. Because while a lot of the content of the thread is obviously horrifying, it serves as a microcosm of just what exactly rape culture consists of and what people need to be taught in order to prevent rape from happening.
Women receive the most education about rape, learning to never accept drinks from strangers, to not walk alone at night, to not leave your drink unattended, to always stay with someone at the bar or at a party. What the Reddit thread shows is that if people were educated on rape and consent, fewer rapes would occur. That’s not to say that not being aware of what constitutes rape is an excuse and that these people are not at fault for their actions. However, many of the replies show confusion and misinterpretation of the situation, and education would eliminate a lot of the confusion and assumptions taking place. The following are things that the thread shows that people need to be educated about:
1. What is consent?
…basically this girl flirted with me a little bit, and I pushed it further, grabbed her tits and her ass, repeatedly after she asked me to stop. I misinterpreted her not removing herself physically as her really wanting it, rather than what it probably was–like the other girl, she felt unable to stand up for herself.
Consent is a multifaceted thing. Sex positive educators stress the importance of enthusiastic consent. This means that if a woman is coerced into agreeing to sex as a result of badgering or guilt-tripping, this is not consent. An absence of a no is not consent. Scarleteen has an excellent article about how to tell if your partner is consenting or not. As well, you should never assume consent. Just because you are doing one sexual thing with your partner, does not mean that they will automatically consent to something else. If you have had sex with your partner, that does not mean they automatically consent to sexual encounters in the future.
2. Men can control their sexual urges.
Most girls don’t really understand how horny guys are, how much stronger guys are, how guys will rationalize what they do. I see feminists and women on the Internet saying that no means no and women should be able to get as drunk as they want and not be sexually assaulted, and I couldn’t agree me. But the reality of the situation is that women have to be careful because guys are one way when they’re hanging out and another way when they’re horny or worse drunk and horny. That doesn’t make what happened okay, but it is what it is.
The idea that men are not at fault for rape because they just can’t control themselves is an insult to them, as well as not being true. Sex educator Emily of The Dirty Normal says “The ‘hunger’ some people feel when they go a long time without sex is NOT hunger. It’s sensitivity to external stimuli, and that’s all; it’s not a warning bell from the body about a dire situation, which is what hunger is. If you go too long without water, food, or sleep, you can ultimately DIE. What happens if you go too long without sex? You become more sensitive to stimuli.” Sexual urges are not uncontrollable, and men need to be taught this.
3. Rape is not always violent.
[After a woman recounts the story of her friend, whose boyfriend stalked her and then violently raped her].
Now THAT is rape. These stories like, “I was with my girlfriend, we were both drunk in my room, naked hooking up, having a good time, then all of a sudden she didn’t look that into it any more” are nowhere near that.
Part of the reason that victims of rape are sometimes disbelieved or dismissed is because of the common belief that rape is always committed by a stranger jumping out of the bushes. Rape is making someone have sex against their will, and whether this is by coercion or plying them from alcohol, it still counts.
Education on what rape is, rather than what women have to do to avoid it, is needed in society. M