FemSoc: Learning to identify and counter rape culture

On March 4th, 2016, posted in: Community, Culture, Featured, FemSoc, News by

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rape culture Over the course of the last three weeks we have been tackling the issue of rape culture. Rape culture refers to the ways in which society blames victims of sexual assault and normalizes male sexual violence. Rape culture is not an easy topic to discuss as there are many aspects to consider.Through discussions, we have realized that rape culture can be perpetuated by all, and not just men. For example, when we discussed the series of rapes which occurred at UCT over the last few months, many of us were wondering why those women chose to walk that route alone, or why they were walking around so late. So many of us blame to the victim rather than the rapist. People are not raped because of what they wear, where or when they walk. People are raped because there is a rapist out there who wants to rape.

At the moment, we are in a catch 22 situation. The girls don’t want to have to consider what they wear or where they go, but they also don’t want to be naïve and ignore the fact that rape is prevalent in SA. One of the videos we watched was about anti-rape pants and underwear, which were developed in the US. The pants have bands which can be adjusted and locked in place at the waist and around the thighs. This makes pulling the pants down near impossible without the person wearing its consent, as they have to unlock the bands with a special combination. The idea behind this was to try to give women and girls something to make them feel safer while out running or on a night out.  Many girls said that they felt such measures shouldn’t be necessary and that the time and energy put into developing such products should rather be spent on educating people and teaching boys and men not to rape.

This led to the discussion on consent, which was perfectly explained in a YouTube video about tea. In the video sex is compared to tea; if a person is offered a cup of tea but refuses, don’t bother making the tea, it is unwanted . Or if a person is asleep and cannot answer yes or no to wanting tea, don’t make them tea. And lastly, if a person wanted tea and then changed their mind, don’t force the tea down their throats, simply remove the cup of tea. When consent is looked at through these lens, it is very simple. A simple concept that makes the world of change.

 

Many of the girls shared their experiences of how rape culture is perpetuated in our own lives through making rape ‘jokes’, suggesting that the choice of  clothing might be an “invitation” to rape.  Going forward, we are looking at ways in which we can combat rape culture in our daily lives. Recognising, speaking up, challenging, questioning that which normalises sexual violence are starting points.