Following the unilad.com piece condoning rape (and its subsequent ‘apology‘) a couple of our members have chosen to share their experiences of rape anonymously (second post to follow tomorrow). Please be aware this piece could be considered triggering.
One snippet came from an article where the writer:
a) used the word “slut” like it was acceptable,
b) made a homophobic joke,
c) suggested that as only 85% of rapes were reported a boy had pretty good odds and
d) stated they didn’t condone rape unless “surprise” was shouted.
Unsurprisingly, the article spread over Twitter. People were understandably disgusted. Even Frankie Boyle was appalled by what they wrote. I think it’s fair to say that when you’ve managed to offend Frankie Boyle, you’ve crossed a serious line.
Soon after, people started checking the website. I can’t quite decide what my favourite article was. The one where a boy boasted about vomiting over a women after she came on her period during sex? The one where a boy, fearing that the women he was having sex with wouldn’t take the morning after pill, elbowed her in the crotch and looked for chairs/tables to smash over her stomach, before saying that he wasn’t going to put any money into buying the morning after pill because it was her that might get pregnant? Or the article where a boy takes pride in the fact he has “revenge” on a woman who sobered up enough to realise she didn’t want to sleep with him on night one?
The level of misogyny is almost impressive. If a girl is ugly, she’s not worth fucking. If she is good looking, all she’s good for is fucking (as long as she knows her place). If a woman actually enjoys sex she is a slut/whore/slag and you should think twice before going anywhere near her.
So, the whole site made me sick to my stomach. But it’s the rape bits that made me spend last night shaking with fear and tears. When Uni Lads apologised for the article on the Facebook page, floodgates opened. Any hope of a meaningful apology was destroyed by the comments beneath.
“It’s not rape if you say surprise, that’s surprise sex.”
“When people ask me what I do I tell them I test rape alarms. It sounds better than saying I’m a rapist!”
“Still, NO means YES!”
“I called that Rape Advice line earlier. Unfortunately it’s only for victims.”
“The person who complained deserves to be raped.”
Now, I read articles with trigger warnings with no problems. I don’t have nightmares. I don’t have issues with consensual sex nowadays. In fact I lead a totally normal life. But this casual acceptance of and joking about rape was enough to, for one night, unwind eight years of “coping”.
Okay. When I was 13, my then-boyfriend lay on top of me (he was a rugby player and I was short and chubby. I couldn’t move) and he told me calmly that if anyone came in now or heard about this they would think that I was a dirty slut and hate me forever. My world changed. This was my first boyfriend and in my head everything was going to be walks in the countryside and happy-happy lovey-dovey. Not him warning me not to make a noise and then slapping me across the breasts when I whimpered as he took my virginity.
I didn’t cry. I didn’t have PTSD. I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary, actually. Oh, apart from the fact that I spent the next five to six years doing every I could that was sexual.
I went online and read/wrote erotica like crazy. I went into internet chat rooms and had cyber sex with strangers. Any boy that would kiss me, I kissed. Any boy that would go further, I would go further with. I had sex with anyone that would have me – the “worse” the better. One-night stands with my best friend’s slightly-younger-than-me brother? Meeting strangers several years older than me from the internet for kinky sex? Having sex with my boyfriend in the morning and his best friend in the evening? No problem! Anything I could do that would make that first instance of rape seem trivial.
I never told anyone the full extent of it. How could I? This was before I realised that it was okay for a woman to enjoy sex; I believed my rapist when he said I was a dirty slut and I seemed determined to prove it.
The tipping point came when I was in the bedroom of someone over a decade older than me, tied to a bed and being beaten with a ruler. No-one knew where I was really; I was 300 miles from home but I had lied to my friends and family about where I was staying that night. Maybe it was self-preservation kicking in, but I realised something had to stop. I left, broke contact, tried to become “normal” again.
It didn’t work. A year later I decided to go after a dangerous looking guy, convinced I could get some filthy sex and make everything OK again. Fortunately he wasn’t dangerous at all and three years later I actually think of him as my saviour. I shiver when I think about what could have happened without him, what I would have done without someone keeping me safe.
Particularly because I started uni a few months after our relationship started.
This is why I was so shaken last night. Uni Lads is aimed at and written by boys at uni. If I hadn’t had my boyfriend, if I had been single and still in self-destruction mode, what the hell would have happened to me? I know that most boys aren’t like that. I know that most of the boys at my uni aren’t like that — in fact, one of them was asking his Facebook friends to report the Uni Lads FB page. But what if some of them are?
What if some of them read Uni Lads? What if they read things like the above articles and think that that’s a cool way to behave? What if some boys at my Uni were the ones commenting on that Facebook apology? What would have happened to me if I’d met these boys — after all, I would have been looking for filthy sex. Could I have been the one being elbowed in the crotch?
Rape isn’t funny. It just fucking isn’t. I got off lightly and it still ruined my teenage years. Laughing about rape in that way and writing the articles that cause such comments is not helpful. Whilst a 13 year old girl will stay silent because she honestly believes that it is her fault and no-one will believe her, rape jokes need to stop. When you are writing for young men at university who are surrounded by women, rape jokes need to stop. Because as much as most people are smart and lovely, some people are idiots and won’t get the difference between an “out-there” joke and something that’s funny because it’s true.
Stop saying that rape is anything but appalling, disgusting and life-changing. Just stop.