I want to thank starlitcorner for this post written on September 18, 2013. This is another post I had to stop in my tracks and reblog. Please don’t just read this post here, please go visit her site at starlitcorner. You may want to follow her.
On What They Didn’t Teach Us
Every now and again, I take a moment on my other wise quite frivolous blog to say something serious. This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for so many months now. I had so much to say, half of it I can’t even begin to put into words. But after reading yet another article about it, I simply have to get some of it off my chest.
Throughout my life, my sometimes-paranoid, slightly neurotic mother would warn my sisters and I about the dangers of being a woman in this world and “risky” situations that we would find ourselves in if we weren’t careful. These are the rules that most mothers will teach their daughters. These are the rules most girls will learn as they grow up.
Don’t walk alone. Ever. Especially long distances or in places you aren’t familiar with.
Don’t wear overtly sexual clothes.
Don’t entertain the advances of anyone you don’t know.
Avoid dark places like alleys and parks.
If you’re home alone at night, check that all the doors and windows are locked.
Pay attention to what’s happening around you.
Why? Because as a woman, you are not safe in this world. And then there would be some explanation about what rape is and who rapists are. They were always men who stalked their victims. Jumped out of bushes. Broke into houses. They were deranged and evil and perverted men. The Ted Bundys of the world.
Some nights I would lie in bed, paralysed with fear, that somewhere out there in the world, there was a man who thought that he had a right to me simply because he was born with the penis and I was born with a vagina. I would wake up in the middle of the night, violently shaking and covered in sweat, expecting to see a masked man standing in my bedroom.
This was what I imagined to be the most likely scenario for a rape.
But there is one enormous problem with all of this. Yes, it can happen this way. Yes, there are men who do things like this. But rapists are more often than not, men we trust and know and perhaps, love. Men who are our brothers, uncles, friends and lovers. Rapes don’t always happen in dark alleys and bushes. The most dangerous for a woman to be is not on a street at night. It’s in a boys residence. It’s at a house party. It’s anywhere. Even places with people you consider your nearest and dearest.
Why didn’t anyone tell us this? Why didn’t they teach us to be wary of all men?
I guess, it is easier to stomach a story about a woman who was raped by a stranger who attacked her, beat her into submission and left her for dead. Easier because you can transform him into some terrible, disgusting half-human who isn’t even worthy of your time. But more and more we read about girls who are raped by their friends, while other friends stand around and laugh and take photos. And more and more, I read comments making it her fault. She shouldn’t have been drinking. She shouldn’t have been there. She shouldn’t have flirted so much.
My heart breaks into little pieces. I feel like I’m about to throw up until I die. I cry for them. And I think, what kind of boys are we raising?
I don’t get it. I just don’t.
In a room filled with kids who go to school together and have fun together, there wasn’t one who watched what was happening and thought, this is wrong, I should call someone, I should do something. Not one boy? Instead they take turns to rape their friend cheering each other on and sharing photos and videos the next day as though it were some grand achievement that needed to be remembered and celebrated. (I should mention at this point that even girls have witnessed rapes and done nothing. There have even been cases of women blaming the victim, which is a whole other issue.)
I wonder how these boys got to this place. I wonder how they stand up in court and say, I didn’t know it was rape. I didn’t know it was wrong. I wonder how otherwise healthy, normal teenagers become rapists. They aren’t psychologically fucked up. They aren’t sexual predators. They aren’t evil.
Someone just forgot to teach them to respect women. Someone forgot to teach them what consent means. Someone forgot to tell them to be kind and to take care of friends.
I try my best to get my head around it but some days, I just hate them. And on particularly bad days, I hate all men. I hate the way they speak about women. I hate the way they laugh and mock women. I hate that it’s considered normal for a teenage boy to be overtly sexual and watch hours of porn. I wonder where the line is. I wonder how much it takes to make a boy cross it because if the news is anything to go by, the standard appears to be a couple of drinks. I truly believe that boys have skewed perceptions of women and sex because there is less education happening worldwide. A person’s first experience of sexual relationships should not happen through porn.
And before I launch into my monologue on sex education and the porn industry, I’m going to just stop.
As I climb into bed tonight, I will wish the same thing I always wish: that tomorrow morning, every boy and man will wake up knowing the fear I feel simply because I have a vagina that some moron thinks he is entitled to. That they will experience that unsettling feeling I get when I walk into a room of men, strangers and friends alike, because at the back of my mind a little voice is whispering: you never know.