In some ways it’s easy to write about rape because it appears there is so much to say. What it is, what its not, an individuals “opinion” about the context and circumstances, whether it is a discussion about men, without men or for men. Whether we live in a “Rape Culture”, or if that is a term made up by the Femi-Nazi’s of old.
The term “Rape Culture” is trending on twitter accompanied by just as much backlash as always. Possibly even more given that folks are being subjected to the justice/injustice of the Steubenville verdict while military women are testifying how they are raped by superior officers, not the enemy.
Mainly I think its easy to write about rape because it’s treated as a topic without a solid definition. The definition is clear and simple – sexual intercourse that forced or compelled upon a person. The unclear part arrives with the legal definitions of “sexual intercourse”, “force” and “compelled”. And of course in the US we have state by state legal definitions, as well as federal definitions. We also have a seemingly person-by-person list of criteria determining if the victim was “asking for it”. You know, how she was dressed, how she acted, if she engaged in dangerous behaviours like drinking or having a vagina – the usual.
So there is always plenty to say about rape.
One thing we could start saying in this ongoing discussion is “A man raped a woman”. That would at least bring the criminal into the picture. “A woman was raped” is a slightly different story isn’t it?
Another thing we could say is that it is never acceptable to have any kind of sex act with anyone unconscious, impaired or intimidated. Someone who can’t say “No” actually is saying “No”, which means its no longer sex, its rape. Men and boys need to hear this. Women and girls need to hear it too (and not so they can be blamed for not helping the passed out girl in Steubenville like a CNN columnist is doing).
One last thing we could say about rape is that it is never, ever the raped persons fault. Ever. So maybe they will feel safety rather than shame, and go to someone for help if they are assaulted. We could say this loudly and repeatedly much the way we say don’t drink and drive.
There will always be plenty to say about rape because it happens all the time. Its a lousy equation to get anything to change.
- The more it is talked about and accepted, the more it will be reported.
- The more it is reported, the more it will be talked about until people think its an “epidemic!”
- Once it is an “epidemic!” there is a small possibility that education (the three suggestions above) will increase.
- Fewer incidents will be reported because of fewer incidents, rather than more hiding. The process of change takes a long while.
So my advice is get used to hearing about “rape culture”. If you are horrified/outraged by the reactions in the media, plan on having calm discussions about how No means No. As long as rape is a topic, there is the possibility of educating someone that rape is not about sex and lust, it is about power and control. Making someone have sex because you can through violence, intimidation or because they are “dead drunk” and can’t say No is rape, not an accident.
As it often does, music says it simpler than I do – No means No, A thousand times NO.