Posts Tagged ‘rape’

  1. A teen’s take on feminism and why we need it RIGHT NOW

    March 8, 2013 by @NotRollergirl

    Sophia Valentine is a talented 17 year old writer. She has recently discovered the power of feminism after realising that female sexuality is often expressed and discussed in a highly sexist way. Here are her views on what it’s like to grow up in an overly sexualised society.

    Image from

    Image from

    As a teenage girl growing up in Britain in 2013, it can be nearly impossible to negotiate the issue of sex. Under constant pressure from the media, society and your peers, the mixed messages you receive can seem overwhelming.

    Recently, my mother announced that sexting was “shocking. [It’s] so detrimental, and children are being sexualised so young” And yet, to many teenagers, there is no line between texting and sexting. It’s simply becoming the norm. Most of my friends have experienced sexting in some form or another, and I’ve seen the persistence of teenage boys who want a “photo” – many of them are willing to nag incessantly until they get what they want, or try to guilt trip my friends. They don’t understand the meaning of the word “no.” Our parents are the generation who grew up with Playboy at the extreme end of the scale – now any child with a smartphone can watch pornography with relative ease. And what is the effect of this? Too often, porn is seen as creating over-expectant adolescent boys, who expect all women to be as willing for sex as the porn stars they see.

    John Bishop has joked about using porn to instruct his son, claiming he told him: “Actually son, they’re not usually that up for it.” But what about the effect of porn on women? Teenage girls see porn stars behaving in a certain way and feel they must mimic it. We are not objects, to be used and discarded. For me, the idea that a partner’s expectations of me are determined by pornography is ridiculous – real women have feelings and needs, they are not here simply to satisfy but also expect to BE satisfied. And what about when a woman doesn’t meet a man’s sexual expectations?

    Rape. The idea that someone will not respect my wishes is terrifying. The idea that someone would deliberately ignore my request to stop, especially in a situation as intimate as sex, is frightening. When I say no, I mean no: it is not a request, it is a command. It means stop. Being aware that almost 80 per cent of rape victims knew their attacker makes me fearful about future relationships. And where are these rapists and prospective rapists learning to behave this way? It can only be because they see women as objects, and they have been taught to prioritise their sexual urges over anything else.

    Which situation is “better”, in the eyes of society: sexual assault by an unknown attacker, or by a partner? Is either “better” at all? When I put the question to my friends, they agreed that often, sexual assault by a partner could be perceived as “worse”: each day you must face the person who hurt you, and something previously intimate is now threatening and negative. For me, while I recognise that rape by an unknown attacker may lead to mistrust of strangers, rape by a partner causes something far more severe – mistrust of the ones you love. You cannot recover without the support of those you trust – and yet you cannot trust them either. 85% of rapes go unreported, and often sexual assault by a partner is dismissed by the victim, who may begin to blame themselves. Anyone on the outside of an abusive relationship might wonder why the abused doesn’t leave – but more often than not, the abuse itself has left them without the strength, space and spirit to be able to walk away.

    The term “rape” has become an almost empty threat. Often, it is made to seem like an unavoidable destination: “if you dress like a slut, you’ll get raped.” To me, this use of a serious criminal act with severe repercussions as an inevitable concept is shocking. Whilst teenager drivers are often warned not to drink and drive, they are not told “if you drive under the influence, you WILL die.” With all other crimes, there is a degree of possibility indicated in the warning. You might be attacked. It may have serious consequences. With rape, there is no indication of doubt indicated in the language surrounding it – women are taught it will happen.

    For my generation, what hope is there? Adults condemn our actions, yet they are the result of a society that is constantly finding new ways to exploit young people. Too often, teenagers feel suffocated by societal pressures. For many teenage girls, feminism is an unknown concept, a “dirty word.” As a friend stated, feminism is often drummed out of us by society or overexposure, until it becomes part of the background, hidden at the back of the social consciousness.

    Teenagers, especially young women, need to know that sexism and sexual violence is never OK – and that if they speak out against it, they will be encouraged and supported. We look to so many different sources of information in order to find out how to behave. Will women’s magazines tell us how to get a boyfriend? Will porn tell us how to make him happy? But feminism needs to infiltrate and frame every fact we get given, otherwise it’s irrelevant and dangerous. Finding feminism has filled me with hope for the future. It needs to infiltrate the mainstream so that other teens use it as a source of ideas, answers and comfort.


  2. It was a bad week for women

    February 20, 2013 by Ashley

    This post is taken from @Blonde_M‘s fabulous blog, Against Her Better Judgement.

    Gods above, but that was a bad, bad week for women. In amongst the other enormous breaking news stories (resigning Popes; covert ground-up horse in apparently everything; meteors hitting the Earth), a woman was shot dead in the middle of the night, allegedly by her boyfriend.

    Image from Jezebel

    Image from Jezebel

    The story has garnered far more media attention than any other case of domestic violence might because the man who’s been charged with her murder is a world-famous Paralympian athlete. This, understandably, has meant that the focus of the story has been Oscar Pistorius, rather than the victim, Reeva Steenkamp. The faint irk that she seemed to be referred to for the first 24 hours of reporting as “his girlfriend” rather than by her name was nothing in comparison to the anger felt the following day when tabloid newspapers around the world saw fit to illustrate the story with pictures of law graduate and model, who spoke out about empowering women, in the skimpiest bikinis and underwear they could find.

    Then, on Friday morning, between a tweet about a band’s new single and Bruce Willis flogging his latest film, Daybreak tweeted the following:

    Image from Twitter

    Image from Twitter

    I’m well aware that Daybreak isn’t the epitome of high culture and sophisticated discussion. That’s fine: there’s space for both it and BBC4. But it’s a programme with an enormous audience, and one staffed by people who should know better than to put out such idiocy. ONS stats might be a deeply worrying portrayal of Britain’s attitudes towards women and sexual violence, but the responsible journalistic approach isn’t to start a “debate” where there isn’t one. It’s to educate viewers that there aren’t two sides to the argument. This might be an individual incident, but it’s individual incidents that combine to add up to a culture in which blaming victims is acceptable, when actually the only people who are responsible for crimes are those who have committed them.

    Because these two incidents came in a week when the 1 Billion Rising campaign was launched, highlighting and campaigning against the fact that one in three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. They came in a week when the BBC ran a deeply saddening but entirely unsurprising piece about women’s attitudes to their own safety when walking home after a night out. The verdict was unanimous: from Ramala to Kampala, Melbourne to Rio to Ottowa, women don’t feel safe. They make sure they have something they can lay hands on as a weapon should they need to. A quick, unscientific Twitter poll of followers elicited the same information. Check with your female friends: I guarantee the majority of them will have done it, at least once, if not regularly.

    Is it any wonder, really, given that – globally – there’s a culture of violence against women. It’s a systemic problem; that if we don’t speak up against it where we see it, nothing will change, and one billion more women will suffer.


    Blonde writes a fantastic blog which I recommend you bookmark immediately. You can also find her on Twitter.

  3. Slutwalk: thoughts from the founder

    September 24, 2012 by mhd_bass


    “I think we’re beating around the bush here. I’ve been told I shouldn’t say this, but if women don’t want to be victimised, they should stop dressing like sluts.”

    When he spoke these words at a student safety workshop, Constable Michael Sanguinetti of the Toronto Police had no idea what he had started. Outraged at the police force’s attitude toward rape victims, Heather Jarvis organised Toronto SlutWalk, a protest that would go on to inspire a global anti-rape movement.

    On the day of London’s second annual SlutWalk, Heather, a 26 year old PhD student at the University of Guelph, looks back on last year’s protest.

    I read the story in a student newspaper article online and I wanted to march down to Toronto police headquarters right away. When my friends started telling me that, actually, that was a good idea, I thought – why shouldn’t I?

    I mentioned the idea of a march to a colleague and he said: “What are you going to call it? A slut walk?”

    Perfect. That police officer was not the first to throw this degrading word at rape survivors, and I wanted to throw it right back.

    We gave ourselves just six weeks to organise some kind of rally before people lost interest.

     I remember watching the numbers climb on the Facebook event. I couldn’t believe it when it we reached 200 attendees, then 500 and then past 1,000. “Wouldn’t it be amazing if a hundred people attended?” I said to Sonia, my co-founder. I had no idea more than 4,000 would turn up.

    When the day came, the weather was on our side. It was early April but I still got sunburnt. About a dozen of us gathered in a public square in Toronto and watched as streams and streams of people started arriving.

    There were all kinds of groups carrying different banners – some serious, some playful. One woman dressed as a cop carried a sign saying: “To uniform fetishists, cops look like sluts.”

    I shuddered as I watched women in odd, outdated outfits carrying signs saying: “This is what I was wearing when I was raped. Tell me I asked for it.”

    Other women had decided: “I’m going to wear my highest heels and my fishnets and my underwear and I’m going to show my bra, because it doesn’t matter what I wear. When I was assaulted by my partner I was wearing pyjamas.”

    There were so many people we shut down an entire street in front of the police headquarters. I got up onto a raised sidewalk to give my speech and I was looking out onto thousands of crying, cheering faces. Not for the first time that day, I found myself on the verge of tears.

    I was assaulted several times when I was younger and I never dealt with it. I didn’t tell anyone; I just closed myself off and tried to forget. I had lots of serious blame and shame problems which were hard to get away from. I don’t even think I’m done yet. I still need to keep telling myself: “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

    I never intended it but through SlutWalk I was able to start dealing with my own assault history. Now anyone anywhere in the world can Google my name and find out that I was sexually assaulted, which is weird but a huge step for me. Even though I know better, I sometimes still blame myself for my assault but SlutWalk has helped me to start healing.

    As told to Maria Hannah Bass

    Hannah is the online intern for @pulsetoday and co-editor of @wannabehacks. She writes about health, relationships, culture and feminism. You can find her on Twitter at @mhd_bass or on you can find more about her on her website

  4. Rape: As much about men as it is about women

    August 28, 2012 by HannahsRhapsody

    Image from

    Several old men have offensively sought to re-define rape against women for their own political ends in the past week. And while the online response has emphatically reminded people that rape is rape, much of the online backlash – such as the #MenAgainstRape hashtag – has actually  been more telling than the comments themselves, and helps shed light on how misunderstood the issue of rape really is  

    Rape. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days, it is unlikely to have escaped you that rape is on the news agenda at the moment. In a big way.

    First, we had US Congressman Todd Akin giving an interview in which he staggeringly-ignorantly described how, “as I understand it, if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways of shutting that whole thing down”.

    BOOM! In that one single sentence we have both utter ignorance of how the female body works AND a suggestion that some rape isn’t legitimate. Well, holy shit, we must have reached the pinnacle of white, old men pontificating on women’s bodies, right? But no. Wait! There’s more!

    Next up comes WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, currently hiding in the London Ecuadorian embassy, flatly refusing to come out, thereby winning this year’s prize for stretching the rules of hide-and-seek to patience-whittling levels AND refusing to face rape and molestation allegations in one fell swoop.

    Now, while it’s beyond the remit of this blogpost to properly comment on the WikiLeaks situation and what embassies will and won’t allow, the rape allegations seem unequivocal. In the more famous indictment, Assange is accused of having had consensual sex with a woman, who then woke up later on to find him having sex with her again. Let me repeat: WOKE UP – ergo, Assange started having sex with her while she was still UNCONSCIOUS.

    The law is clear on this: it’s rape. A means through which some men have sought to demean, dominate and violate women since the beginning to time. (Yes, men get raped too and many of the same points still stand, but in this case, we’re talking about a man doing it to a woman.)

    As Hadley Freeman, and so many others, got piercingly-right when they repeated it again and again: rape is rape is rape. If you have sex with someone without their outright and mutually-understood, fully-conscious consent, then that is rape.

    It’s quite simple really. Except, apparently, for some people.

    In which Galloway sends himself down shit creek

    Because, next up on the batshit-tosser train this week was Respect MP George Galloway (best known for dressing as a cat on national television) who inexplicably joined Akin and Assange in the redefining-rape fun by saying that for some people, being naked in bed with them means you’re “already in the sex game”, and therefore have consented to more sex EVEN IF YOU HAPPEN TO BE ASLEEP. “Sure, a tap on the shoulder would have been more polite,” he then went on to suggest, causing me to have a minor embolism before I could continue watching.

    Although it has to be said that the sheer numbers of people who have come out against the comments, as shown by the Vagenda’s ‘Rape rainbow’ or Jezebel’s ‘Official guide to legitimate rape’, is one of the most heartening things about this whole sorry tale, some responses haven’t been uniformly encouraging – and have actually highlighted why we still need to keep talking about these issues in the first place.

    Of course, it all started with a hashtag. The #menagainstrape hashtag.

    In case you’ve read this far and your eyes are getting squiffy, that’s Men Against Rape. Many people took offence to this hashtag , but I think it addresses some serious points; the dismissal of which could be potentially extremely damaging to what we’re all trying to do: educate people about rape.

    In a nice handy list, here are a few of the most common ideas that I saw bandied around in criticism of the hashtag.

    • It’s making this crime, which largely affects women, about men
    • It’s taking away from women’s ability to talk to men and put their own experiences across
    • It’s obvious and completely unnecessary; why not simply have a hashtag saying #MenAgainstMurder, or #MenAgainstPaedophilia or #MenAgainstDrinkingBleach ?
    • It seems to ‘thank men for not being rapists’, and suggests that this is an ‘opt in’ thing rather than a general base level of respect we’d all expect  as default

    Although I can see where these points come from, they largely miss the point that, actually, rape is quite often about men.

    In fact, wherever the crime is a man having sex with a woman, that’s about a man as much as it’s about the woman. About the fact that a man has so little respect, appreciation or understanding of that woman’s right to her own body and sexuality; about how her sexuality, power, intellect and identity has got absolutely nothing to do with him, unless she explicitly consents to make it so.

    Rape is about power, and as long as it’s about the wielding of power over women, it’s also about men.

    Feminism was born from women demanding dialogue with men, and even though women now have the power to speak out without men’s permission or help, it doesn’t follow that men cannot empathise with women or espouse their views on equality.

    Of course men shouldn’t seek to redefine or dominate feminist debates, or women’s experiences. But joining a discussion or wholeheartedly espousing its principles doesn’t automatically mean a man wants to dominate it, ‘make it about them’ – or, if you will, ‘mansplain’ it.

    While rape of women strikes right to the heart of what it means to be a woman, in these cases, anyway, it also strikes right to the heart of what it means to be a man coexisting with women.

    Of course, it’s extremely obvious to have a hashtag saying #MenAgainstRape.

    Because OF COURSE men should be against rape as a default position. Just like I’m against kicking puppies and shooting children with rifles.

    BUT the fact that some men and women still agree that in some cases, rape just isn’t that serious and that women must shoulder some of the responsibility when they ‘lead on’ a man or drink a bit too much; the fact that there are still people in the world (especially those who are in positions of political power) who think that conscious consent is a blurry concept, means that actually, I’d say having a #MenAgainstRape hashtag isn’t such a bad idea.

    At the very least, inviting men to join discussions about rape might get people ‒ namely men for whom it doesn’t seem immediately obvious ‒ considering what rape means, and getting them to think about it a bit more before engaging in sexual relationships with people.

    It might also provide a rallying point for men on the subject, in their own arena, away from the feminist blogs and the sections of the newspapers which, with the best will in the world, are not usually read by those who have the most need for them.

    All those men who are so obviously already against rape, well thank god for you, you’re absolutely right. You don’t need to ‘opt in’, or pat yourself on the back for not being a rapist. (But if so, this hashtag, and the comments created alongside it, were not aimed at you.)

    And frankly, if it gets even one man thinking about what it means to rape versus not rape, or even strikes one line of dissention against the ideas perpetuated by Akin, Assange and Galloway, then I’d consider that a success.

    At least it’s not trying to redefine or qualify rape, in a discussion which is so often reduced to a ‘women’s issue’ against men, simplistically pitching the genders against each other.

    It’s simply saying that actually, men don’t all agree with Galloway or Akin.

    And if it provides a rallying point for groups such as domestic violence charity Respect UK (NOT Galloway’s ‘Respect’, thank god) to tweet links such as “10 things you can do to stop violence against women” or “If you want to show sexual respect, always check you’ve got an enthusiastic yes”, then frankly, where’s the harm in that?

    It doesn’t take away, it only adds

    Giving people a platform on which to assert that they are against rape doesn’t take away from the testimonies of women coming out to tell their story about rape. Neither does it, logically, suggest that anyone who doesn’t assert their view in this way is therefore ‘for rape’ or ‘rape ambivalent’.

    In fact, as I see it, it only adds to the dialogue between the genders; only adds an additional voice to the crowd of people around the world telling Assange, Akin and Galloway, and their sympathisers, that their views are profoundly offensive, unwanted, unfounded, ignorant and completely at odds with the experiences and views of the vast majority of men and women.

    And isn’t that what we’re all trying to get across in the first place?

    Comments and (constructive!) criticism very welcome!

    Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahsRhapsody, or see her other writings at where a version of this post first appeared.

  5. Rape doesn’t just happen to other people

    August 23, 2012 by Anon

    Image from Slutwalk

    Last night, I stormed out of a dinner party in a rage with tears streaming down my face.  I was in a conversation with a male friend who I love who was trying to explain away Galloway’s comments on Assange.  At one point I ended up yelling and itemising the number of his female friends who have been sexually attacked.  Let me clarify here, I have not been raped.  But I have been assaulted with sex as a goal of the attacker and I have been sexually harassed more times than I can count.  Almost every woman I know has been at the receiving end of some sort of sexually motivated abuse.  A few weeks ago I was in a meeting when I got a text that one of my best friends had just been attacked on the tube, it was 4 pm.

    Two years ago, I was followed approached and grabbed on the tube, I resisted and asked other passengers for help, only to be  ignored when the attacker said I was his drunk girlfriend.  I only got away by diving in to another tube car as the door closed.  Both of us would have been victims of ‘legitimate’ stranger danger rape rather than that of our boyfriends or acquaintances.  In ways, that would have made it easier—as people are able to believe that the baddie in the bushes raped you rather than the neighbour you’ve known since you were ten or the guy you’ve been on a few dates with that you would have probably slept with anyway.  But both of us when recounting the stories repeatedly say what we were wearing… we explain that we were in no way encouraging it.  We justify our right to have been, god forbid, traveling unaccompanied on public transport.

    This isn’t meant to be a litany of woe is me and my friends.  Rape, sexual assault, assault with sexual undertones and violence underlying it is a constant threat.  Rape has been used as a weapon against women since the beginning of time.  It is used to tame, silence and demonstrate power over women regularly.  And currently in England and the US, two supposedly educated nations, it is headline news.  From Julian Assange to Todd Akin; what is rape rape?  What is legitimate rape?  Why don’t these women just roll over and open their legs, whether they are asleep or awake and let us get on with our manly business.

    These aren’t tears of sadness, they are tears of fury.  People wonder why rape is only reported a quarter of the time?  Because the cops and the people on the benches of so called justice are asking what they were wearing, they are silently asking if it is forcible, legitimate, real, actual, rape.  Or just a misunderstanding.  Or just a little bad sexual etiquette.  Something has to give, the fury and rage that is being expressed on twitter is just the tip of the iceberg.  Women need to come out in force and vote.  And the men that we love, the men that we share our stories of abuse with, the men that stand by us, need to vote too.  Galloway needs to be shamed out of politics.  Assange needs to be prosecuted for the rapes that he committed and Akin needs to resign.  And we need to stop electing Neanderthals that hold the belief that rape is anything other than a heinous act.

    If you have a story you would like to share anonymously, please email or DM me on Twitter for the anon account log in details. Thank you.

  6. Let’s talk about RAPE

    February 3, 2012 by Anon

    This is the second part of a two part instalment following the ‘unilad’ pro-rape post earlier this week. Content could be considered triggering. 

    Photo from Slutwalk

    I am a healthy, happy, relatively straightforward twenty something woman living in London. I have an awesome job and awesome friends. I make filthy jokes and talk about my tits and cook steak and get laid and have a respectable fear of my Visa bill and run everywhere because I’m always running late. I’m a proud, porn watching, sometimes smoking, usually drinking, constantly swearing, good-frock-push-up-bra-and-matching-french-knicker-wearing highlighted lipsticked feminist.

    You’re probably a lot like me. Or I’m probably a lot like your sister or your daughter or a mate or someone you went to uni with. Chances are I have something in common with someone in your life.

    I hope it’s not this. I got raped by my boyfriend when I was 17.

    It’s not something I tell many people – it only comes out at the drunkest, darkest, intimate and emo moments. And I get teary and feel bad that I’m teary because I wasn’t attacked by a stranger who jumped out of a bush. I never formally reported anything to anyone. And I stayed with that boyfriend until I was 21.

    For the sake of clarity, here’s how it happened. We were staying with his grandparents, two sweet, kind, generous conservative people who I am genuinely sad to have lost touch with. We’d been there for a few days (I think it was the Easter holidays) and he was complaining nearly constantly about having blue balls, how desperate he was to fuck me et cetera. When you’re both adolescents this is to be expected – you learn to filter it out like white noise. I was against the idea – even though he was a two minute man, any periods of quiet or creaking furniture would have the grandparents rushing in to see what was going on. Also, they had given us separate rooms and sexing in their house would be bad manners.

    We were playing Scrabble. I had suggested, by way of a compromise, Sexy Scrabble. “We can spell things out and then…do them next time we’re in an empty house!” I said enthusiastically. Sexy Scrabble was dually frustrating. The boyfriend was suggesting that his penis might burst forth from his pants like a fleshy sea monster, and I was struggling to make normal words out of K, Q, W, R, R, T and L – never mind erotic ones.

    Here’s what I remember next. Him, behind me, pulling my jeans down, me saying “I really don’t think this is a good idea.” Then “I don’t want to do this.” Then “Stop it.” Then silence.

    Because if I screamed or struggled his grandparents would rush in, and that might be awkward. They might tell his parents and that would be really bloody awkward.

    I remember feeling sad, not angry, and hoping he’d come soon and stop. And then feeling sticky and cold and uncomfortable, and pretending to his grandparents that I was quiet and uncommunicative because I had an upset stomach. And they were adorable, fussing over me and offering herbal tea and Gaviscon and ginger biscuits as their grandson glowered in the corner because of the quiet conversation we’d had earlier.

    “You just…well, I told you to stop and you didn’t stop and there’s a word for that.” I blinked very hard.

    “Why are YOU crying? You’ve just called me a rapist.”

    I’m not sure why I didn’t break up with him then. I wish I had. I think I was scared of admitting what had happened to anyone – especially myself. I couldn’t reconfigure my thinking to see myself as some victim of abuse. I just didn’t fit the profile.

    A couple of days ago, I watched with slack jawed astonishment as links to a misogynist website appeared all over Twitter. (The people posting the links were as horrified as I was, no-one was suggesting it was the work of a reasonable human being.) The website made a joke about 85 per cent of rape cases going unreported, suggesting readers might as well have sex with someone without their consent because it would probably be fine. It then removed this joke, making an anaemic, mealy mouthed apology about it. The writers shut the site down (temporarily) last night.

    The rape joke was bad. But I can read something like that and deal with it. It’s not as if I’m getting traumatised by horrible flashbacks whenever it’s referenced. It’s pretty grim, and I’m not proud of it, but me and my similarly left leaning feminist friend collective often refer to pricey things as “pocket rape”, bad kissers as “mouth rapists” and have announced that we’d happily “rape that cake” when outside the Patisserie Valerie window. Yeah, I know. We’re working on it, and digging each other sharply in the ribs when we catch ourselves doing it. One shouldn’t use abuse to abuse language.

    But the weirdly polarised response freaked me out. Nearly everyone I follow felt it was utterly disgusting and reprehensible and said as much. The supporters and readers of the site started asking critics about their sexuality, implying that they needed a cock up their arse where the stick was, urging complainants to “look the other way” and “everyone who doesn’t agree that rape is pure banter is a frigid fun sponge!” (I may be paraphrasing the last one.) It was as if Blackadder’s Prince Regent was inhabited by Chuck Traynor and had a Broadband connection.

    Like everyone else, I grabbed my digital pitchfork and ran with the angry mob, far, far away from the point. 85 per cent of rape cases go unreported! Hold on, is this not what we should be talking about?

    And hearbreakingly I surmised that if I have good friends who don’t know I’m in the 85 per cent, then it must have happened to some of my friends too. And because they also weren’t attacked by a stranger from the depths of a bush, they filed their experience away under “I’m not quite sure what to do with that” and left it there. And not to go all Andrea Dworkin, but if we all know someone who has experienced rape (even if we don’t know about it), then we might well know a rapist too.

    Rape is undeniably horrific, and serious. But maybe if we were a little less serious about it, we’d talk about it more. We could start to figure out who the 85 per cent are – and what is motivating the criminals who are driving those stats. It would be a pretty dark game of Word Association Football where ‘rape’ came up, but if it did the word that would probably follow it is ‘victim’. Even ‘survivor’ sounds a bit grim – “yes, I got raped and now I dress like I’ve been in a nuclear apocalypse and my eyes have a hint of zombie about them – but I SURVIVED!”

    I wish I could eradicate all rape forever, but I think that the best way to start doing that is to normalise it as an experience. Of course we must be sad and upset and angry – but as well as wailing and gnashing our teeth and fetishising it in a Catherine Cookson way, we need to address it as something that happens to smart, funny women like us and everyone we know. Rape doesn’t just happen as a result of poverty or neglect or vulnerability or all the other human tragedies that we may or may not be able to relate to. And if a lot of ignorant, naive boys want to make a joke out of it, if we’re in a position to do so we must use our smart skills to show that the joke’s on them.

    If you’ve been the victim of a sexual assault, you can speak to Rape Crisis or Solace. For additional information, have a look at Rights of Women

    If you have a story you would like to share anonymously, please email or DM me on Twitter for the anon account log in details. Thank you.

  7. Rape: it’s not a punchline

    February 2, 2012 by Anon

    Following the 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.

    Recently the website, Facebook page and Twitter of “Uni Lads” has been getting quite a lot of attention.

    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.

    If you’ve been the victim of a sexual assault, you can speak to Rape Crisis or Solace. For additional information, have a look at Rights of Women

    If you have a story you would like to share anonymously, please email or DM me on Twitter for the anon account log in details. Thank you.