What Was I Thinking?

Day 11060

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London Transport public awareness poster seen at Tube Stations in 2009 and 2010

Ever since I was asked if rape culture exists, I’ve been wondering myself. Then I remember that throughout my entire childhood I was told not to take taxis by myself “because the taxi driver might drive you somewhere and rape you”. When I tried to walk barely a mile home at 2am after a party during the Christmas season, half a dozen of my friends asked me repeatedly if I was sure I wanted to do that. It’s lovely that they’re concerned but it’s also depressing that they felt the need to warn me. Our area is actually average-to-low for crime in London according to the Metropolitan Police crime map.

I’ve been thinking about this today because a couple of people in my twitter feed have gotten involved in a campaign against James C. McKinley Jr., a writer from the New York Times, over his reporting of the gang rape of an 11 year old. Criticisms are mostly focused on this paragraph:

Residents in the neighborhood where the abandoned trailer stands ā€” known as the Quarters ā€” said the victim had been visiting various friends there for months. They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground, some said.
– James C. McKinley Jr., Vicious Assault Shakes Texas Town, New York Times

There is now a petition on Change.org calling for a published apology from the New York Times for their victim blaming of the girl. Even though I’ve taken that paragraph above out of context, I’m inclined to agree that its inclusion does imply fault on the part of the 11-year-old girl. Sure, it’s hard to reach your word quota when nobody is willing to go on record and if that’s what the neighbourhood says, some schools of journalism say that that’s what you print. Still, including the paragraph with no balancing commentary does contribute to the myth that girl who dress sexily are “asking for it”.

Given that we’re still seeing the poster pictured above on a regular basis, I lean towards thinking that yes, rape culture does exist. Every time I see that poster I wish I had a label to stick over it saying “Please stop raping women.” It would be about as effective but at least be talking to the right people.

I watched an episode of Coronation Street over the weekend where a man attempted to force himself on a woman and later explained himself with “What was I supposed to think? You came over to my house all dressed up…” This despite her repeatedly saying “No” and eventually having to fight her way out of his ’embrace’.

Sure, that was fiction but during a later scene when the victim was crying, the woman I was watching with turned to me and said “Don’t know what she’s so upset for. It’s not like anything really happened.” Um… yes it did. Attempted sexual assault is still a Very Bad Thing.

Some time ago I had a conversation in a pub with a man who told me that he believes most men, when it comes to children, would much rather have a boy than a girl. Not because you can’t go out and teach girls to catch a ball (which would lead to a whole different conversation smackdown from me) but because most men don’t want to have to deal with the possibility of their daughters getting raped. I found this deeply unsettling; where are the rapey men supposed to learn that their behaviour is unacceptable? They’re certainly not going to listen to women who tell them so. “No” from a woman doesn’t really mean no, after all.

Please, everyone. Stop blaming women. Start telling men to take responsibility for their attitudes. Here’s a good place to start: Men Can Stop Rape.


Okay, hopefully I’m done blogging about rape culture for good. Don’t have much more to say on the topic.

Not done much else today. Practiced a bit of Motorstorm Apocalypse so that I’m not truly appalling at a promo event tomorrow. Wandered about a supermarket for a bit. Talked to people on Twitter.

Mood: 7
Pain: 2


Written by Weefz

9 March, 2011 at 11:16 pm

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