We live in a society where we love ignoring symptoms. When a disease manifests then we talk, we act, we thump our chests and bellow at the top of our voices. That is what we do when we see victims and perpetrators of Rape. We need to understand that sometimes there is a cycle. It starts at one point and continues with no checks and balances. To break the cycle, we must first break some Rape culture that we have cultivated. Emilie Buchwald, author of Transforming a Rape Culture states that rape culture condones physical and emotional terrorism against women as the norm . Meaning, there are things in everyday life that we do that directly or indirectly contributes to Rape.
What are they?
Saying Women are Indecisive.
We are lead to believe that a Woman’s No is never really a No. It is so ingrained in society that you might find parents encouraging boys to make decisions for their sisters. We hear of boyfriends getting mad at their girlfriends because they have refused to have sex when they want to. Listen, women are entitled to change their minds as often as they like. It is perfectly ok to want something now and change your mind 60 seconds later. That does not in any way change your No into a Yes, it simply states that he should wait until you say yes. A maybe is not a yes or a No. It is simply a “Wait until I make up my mind”. Being ‘Indecisive’ is not necessarily a bad thing and most importantly it does not entitle you to rape a woman.
Downplaying by Media and society
The media when reporting on Rape will talk about non-consensual sex. They gloss over Rape and turn it into something palatable to the society. Rape is not sex, don’t gloss it over, there is nothing like non-swallowing, you are either swallowing or choking. In the same way, there is sex or Rape, there is nothing in between. In Kenya, I rarely hear of convictions. People just walk away scot free. In the US Broc Turner – a 20-year-old swimmer from Stanford- was given 6 moths because “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him,” Judge Aaron Persky said. We are a society that constantly think of the future of the rapist rather than the future of the victim. Infact, the first reaction people turn to when faced with rape is usually doubt.
The concept that Boys will be Boys.
I doubt that rapists are born. I am very convinced they are made. They are made by you and me, by society. When we are growing up and a boy in class starts to beat you or be mean, we are always told it is because they like us. How wrong is it that a boy will show he likes you by hitting you? So this boy grows up into a fine young man who when he likes a woman he just hits her or sexually violates her. That is how he has been taught to express his love. Why do we teach our kids one thing then expect them to turn out different?
Dressing is to blame.
The most annoying thing about rape is the fact that we always go back to what the victim was wearing. Apparently, a victim has to wear the clothes they wore during the ordeal in a court of law to ascertain if they deserved to be Raped. Listen, what we are saying when we judge a victim by dress code is that Rapists have no self-control. Don’t tempt them because you know they can’t help themselves. This doesn’t make sense, especially when we think of two-month-old babies being victims. Did the rapist see the provocative diaper and couldn’t control himself? What about those 70-year-old grandmothers covered up to their ankles?
See why this does not hold water?
Cat calls and complaints of the friend zone.
How many times do you hear boys or just grown ass men whistling when a beautiful lady passes by? It happens all the time and the problem is that women have been led to believe that it is ok for this to happen. Woe unto the woman if she responds negatively. She will be verbally abused and called all sorts of names. The fact that you have to answer positively to someone else’s sexual awareness of you is part of the problem which brings us to the friendzone. We have heard how men complain of being put in the friendzone as if all relationships have to be sexual. Why are you lurking in the corners badgering a woman to get you off the friend zone? Why did you agree to be her friend in the first place? Was it to just leer at her and wonder when you will sleep with her?
It is because deep down you have been led to believe that women are good for one thing, which is sex. So, you have to bitch about all the time she has refused your advances and ignore the fact that she said NO! Why? Was the No not good enough? Did the No suddenly change into a yes and she didn’t know it? Chances are that if left in a secluded place with said woman, you would probably rape her.
Not acknowledging that Rapists have a choice, Victims don’t.
We should stop the narrative that rape victims have a choice. In a rape situation, the perpetrator has two options, to walk away or to find a less that 20-minute gratification. Each time they take the gratification. It is not about the dress code, it is more about the power he has at that particular moment. The need to take advantage of someone who is powerless or unconscious or defenseless. So, stop having classes on how women should dress and have classes of how men can practice self-control. Stop saying that men are sexual creatures, no one is purely a sexual creature. There is more than just sex. But if we raise our kids with the notion that men cannot control their sexual urges then what we are saying is if you want sex, take sex, it is what you were built for. How shallow is that? Why is it that women should feel less safe walking the streets at night than men do. Is it because at night all men turn into beasts?
Steph argues that men are raped on a daily too. That rape is just not limited to one gender. I do agree with this, However, the rate men are raped is much lower than the rate women and children are subjected to it. Which only proves that this is more a game of power and contempt.
In conclusion, We need to agree that rape culture is the symptom before the bank breaks. You can’t wake up one day and be a rapist. There are events leading up to it. We as the society need to look closely at these symptoms and attack them one by one. First, teach the young girls that when a girl says no, it is a No, Teach respect to the younger boys and above all teach them self-control. It is a long bumpy road, but we need to take it if we are to eliminate the monster that is Rape and Rape culture.