Thursday, 28 August 2014

Rape (Culture): A Dirty Little Word

Warning: This content may upset some readers, please be aware before reading.


I have sat down to write on this topic a million times. I honestly don't even know where to begin, I just want to rant, cry and spew every last thought and feeling about this onto the page, but for the benefit of the readers I'll do my best to form a half comprehensible post. But do bare with me, theres a lot of ranting to be done. And before some of you think it, no I'm not just another 'woman 'on some wild 'feminist' rage about men. Just clearing that up now!

Rape culture isn't something new, its splashed across headlines many times a day and is never far from the daily thoughts of a lot of people. The sad thing is that its very much alive and well, its something that can be explained by anyone you ask. But I'm asking this question, not as an uneducated person or from ignorance, but from pure and utter disrepair. Why is rape culture still something that is tolerated and found acceptable by so many today? Why?


On a daily bases I get harassed, things shouted at me, wolf whistled. Even at times physically grabbed by men. Don't for one moment think I'm not aware that men also get this sort of treatment. People, regardless of gender rape and get raped. But why am I specifically targeting men here? The survivors of sexual violence reported that 95.7% of perpetrators were male - (NRCS 2009). In 2007 it was  still a consistently high 96.2% and in 2008 it was 95.8%. That could be even more, but a huge amount of people don't report their rape. Years ago, when I was raped it was by a male. Every time I get cornered at a bar, grabbed at on the street or called out to with some form of abuse it has been by a man. The minute a woman does any of these things, I will be first to hold my hands up and rewrite this entire post. But until then I'm sorry to say that for the most part, its men. If you want to get angry about that, get angry at those who have brought this fear to women and have brought this thing called 'rape culture' that is such a common phrase, into existence. Why should those few tar the rest of the male gender with the same brush all because of the actions of others? It is not exceptionable. Ever.  

It shouldn't be about teaching women not to get raped - but teaching men not to rape. I see many of these 'real men don't rape' posters but why are we saying that? Why define it down to 'real men'? All men and women should not rape. Why in this day and age should we have to teach people what is not only socially acceptable and also morally right, not to mention the law. In Ireland today there is still a huge conception that rape is something that doesn't happen and god forbid if it does then it has no place but to be pushed under the rug. This is a perfect example of rape culture. 'She asked for it'  or slut shaming is another one often heard. To question how a person was dressed and what they were doing before they were raped is the lowest thing someone can do. But again, it is done so often. Boys will be boys after all, or isn't that what some like to say, to brush it off as. I am personally proud to say that I talked about my rape, I wasn't believed by my family but my school was wonderful and the Dublin rape crisis center helped me so much. (They have a 24hour helpline: 1800 77 88 88. And a website here.) 

But what I'm not proud to say is that each and every time I'm cat-called, a comment is made to me or I'm approached unwanted, I always question myself. Was I asking for it? Did I make eye contact or was it the way I was dressed? Recently while walking down the middle of Henry St at about 2:30pm when there were crowds of people I came to an abrupt stop. Someone had stepped into my path and I looked up to see a very tall and physically intimidating man. What did he want you ask? Once I looked up he imminently said 'Smile, it would make you look better, cos you already have a great ass'. When I told him to leave me alone and that wasn't an appropriate thing to say I was told that I was 'crazy' and that 'ugly girls like you should be happy someone said something nice to them'. What was I doing at the time? I was looking in my handbag. What was I wearing? Leggings, shorts, a tshirt and a hoodie. 

Another time I was walking down Grafton St to the bus stop after a blogger event at roughly 10pm. A man walked beside me the entire way down, asking for my number and passing remarks about how 'hot' I was. When I asked him to leave me alone he grabbed my arm and pushed me against a shop window. I gave him a fake number so he would leave me alone and hurried in the opposite direction. What was I doing? Checking my phone to see if I would make my bus. What was I wearing? A dress that reached to my knees and a coat. 


I am genuinely tired - worn out and saddened that in 2014 I am still wary, even go as far to say scared, to walk down a dark street at night on my own for fear of being raped. To plan my day by how bright it is, how many people will be around the area, if I am with men or women and what would be ok to wear. I am upset that I see memes about rape, (google rape and look at the images, I was sickened to even see a cat rape joke) to hear young people shouting sexual harassment at each other and laughing or overhear adults passing sexual remarks about other people. Why is this made to be normal when rape happens daily, is a daily fear for so many. However the unsettling statistic is that 89% of rapists are known to the victim (RCNI 2009). That '21% of adult women survivors of sexual violence disclosed that their partner or ex-partner was the perpetrator of  the violence' (National and international statistics). The word 'NO' doesn't seem to have any meaning anymore. And for that, I am truly angry. 

I have no answers. I'm just one person asking the question: Why is rape still ok?

22 comments:

  1. Hey Cathy, this is a really great post, on a topic that isn't talked about enough. I'm really sorry to hear you were raped. I agree with you 100% I'm so sick of strangers passing comments or grabbing me! It baffles me how someone would never grope an elderly person/child etc but think it's perfectly fine to grope someone just because they are a young woman! I've had so many experiences with unwanted advances I've lost count. Henry st. is the worst, it's terrifying at night because it gets so quiet.

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    1. Thanks so much for that, I'm sad its not talked about more myself. Its a strange comfort and also at the same time a horrible thought to know that lots of other women go through the same thing daily. It has to stop. Thanks for your support x

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  2. I can't even count the amount of times that I have been grabbed at in a nightclub...and yet I am the one afraid to turn around and give the guy a smack because of what might happen to me. It's disgusting and unacceptable. This sounds bad but I would like to see them given some of their own medicine, see how shocked they would be if a girl ran up and groped their ass or grabbed them by the arm!

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    1. Nightclubs are scary places. The lack of lighting and alcohol infused evening can result in a lot of unwanted behavior that can't be seen by bouncers.I rarely go, myself.

      Honestly I don't think they would be too unhappy if inappropriate behavior was shown towards them in a lot of cases. Women are the less intimidating and 'weak sex' as the stereotype goes. I'm sorry to hear you'e been afraid x

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  3. I'm so sorry to hear you were raped and have had such scary experiences, you're such a wonderfully sassy girl (I can tell that just from your blog) and you don't deserve to have any of that crap, no woman does.

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    1. Thanks so much for your support lady :) With all this positive feedback my head wont fit through the door ;D x

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  4. Amazing post Cat. I'm with ya every step of the way! I owe you one giant cuddle next time I see you

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    1. Great to hear that :) Ha I'll look forward to it now! :D x

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  5. Brilliantly written post Cat, I'm so profoundly sorry that you have had to go through such a scary experience - I'll admit it really is my worst nightmare. From my own experiences I can definitely say that young women being grabbed and groped has somehow become the norm. It infuriates me when this happens because I cannot understand why some men think they have the divine right to treat a woman in this way. My latest encounters (plural) are as recent as last Saturday night, in a nightclub. One man - very tall and intimidating - cornered me against a wall and grabbed my arm insisting he knew me from somewhere. He didn't, I had no idea who he was. In the other instance, I was walking through a group of middle-aged men and one decides to grab my arm, my ass and pushes me in between two of his friends. He got my elbow right in to his ribs because I was genuinenly frightened. Oh, and what was I wearing? A t-shirt and a long maxi skirt. When people say women ask for it that is such bullshit. Fantastic post, I'm with you 100% on everything you have said xx

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear that, its always a worry when you see a group of men or even just one when your alone. I'm not surprised to hear the ages ranged with the harassment, but it can be surprising to learn a lot of people seem to think its only one age group or another which is just silly. Thanks for your lovely words x

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  6. Brilliant post. It's so sad that it's at the stage where I think about what road I'll walk home etc now that it's coming into darker evenings. What's more sad is that I plan this new route and didn't really think much about it, why didn't I ask myself why am I having to change the route I walk home, why is it just something that is so acceptable in society. " she should know better than to walk home on a dark evening by herself" are the usual things we hear when someone is attacked.

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    1. In one way I am glad your thinking about your route to stay safe. I'd hate to think of anything happening to you, or another person for that matter! But I also understand that annoyance to have to change your plans just to avoid the possibility of something awful happening to you. Its a shame that in 2014 its still in the for front of a womans mind to have to check herself before she goes somewhere. x

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  7. Really good post, Cat. I'm so sorry your family weren't there for you following your rape, but I'm glad you found support at school and through the Rape Crisis Centre.

    I think many of us have similar stories to tell about random men in the street (and/or bars, nightclubs etc.) shouting abuse, telling us to cheer up as it might never happen or crowding our personal space. It's depressing and we shouldn't have to just shrug it off and carry on as if the whole thing is perfectly normal. Because it's bloody well not. We need to educate boys better, so they don't become the kind of men who carry on like this. We also need the many wonderful men, we all know, that would never act like this to start calling out the men they do see act this way.

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    1. Thanks for that lady :) x I totally agree with you, everything you've said. All we can do is educate and hope that this thing called rape and rape culture becomes a thing of the past. But with the media and the general ignorance currently, I feel that we could be a long way from that, sadly. And yes, everyone knows many men who are totally wonderful and the complete opposite :) x

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  8. Excellent post Cat. So well written, nodding along with everything you said and I know it must have been really difficult to write. You should be really proud of yourself. xx

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    1. Thanks so much for that Chloe :) And your kind words earlier, your a great support x

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  9. Relevant comic: https://twitter.com/NovaHerself/status/504182832726831105/photo/1

    There's always an excuse for rape: 'those sexy 11 year olds were asking for it', 'she was dressed provocatively' (always interesting to read that one throughout history: nowadays she's wearing fishnets, previously she accidentally showed ankle, before that she was displaying tempting elbows), 'he couldn't help himself' etc.

    The bottom line is there are people out there who enjoy rape, and it's not about sexuality, it's not about someone having uncontrollable urges- these people are predators. No group is immune from rape- men, women, children, the elderly. The disabled, particularly those with profound or severe disabilities, are more likely to be raped than others because they are more vulnerable. Some people enjoy inflicting pain on others, or enjoy depriving others of their rights. Rape prevention is easy- people need not to rape.

    It's funny how you can go to a topless beach in France and no-one is getting raped. It's nearly like the whole myth that 'men just can't help themselves when they see flesh, it's not their fault' (as I was told by a sweet elderly lady) is just that. Rape culture is demeaning to men, as well as harmful to women.
    https://twitter.com/NovaHerself/status/504182832726831105/photo/1

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    1. 110% agree with everything you've said. And I never thought of it like that, about women sun bathing topless. Its something to make you stop and think again. And also thank you for the comic link, I think its going to be one of my new loves, its brilliant! :D x

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  10. Sorry Cat I'm only catching up now since finishing with college, hence the delay in seeing this post.

    I just firstly want to say how truly brave you are to write this post. it took a lot of courage to do it. It cannot have been an easy thing to talk about, but I'm glad you managed to find the support you needed and were able to talk through it.

    Secondly I echo the sentiments of all the other comments, I definitely always plan how I'm getting home. If it's going to be late or my plans change last minute I will always text my boyfriend or a family member or someone. Not that I truly believe they could do anything, but I have this ongoing fear of not being known as missing from where I'm meant to be. So my logic is if they know I'm due and I don't show up, they should definitely be worried, since I explicitly told them my plans. I don't know, sometimes I think it makes no sense, but I always do it, always!

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    1. Ah your so good to take the time to have a goo of my rambling :) Thanks for your words, everything thats been said and the feedback I've been getting has been nothing but amazing. I'm sorry that you feel you've to keep in constant contact with someone in case something bad happens. But at the same time glad that your keeping safe too x

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  11. I read this post weeks ago when you first published it and I didn't know what to say...
    So I thought long and hard about it and after reading all the comments I can't go by without showing you my support Cat...
    I had a horrible experience at 17, for years I blamed myself, I thought I was too flirty too careless and not brave or strong! I had been attending a kickboxing gym the previous 6 months to the attack and thought I could handle myself in any situation, I wasn't cockey just confident...
    I had fancied this boy for 3 years, he hadn't seen me in about a year and a half as we lived in diff counties but I nearly died when he asked for my number and text me looking for a date, that night changed everything for me... I thought I knew him, I thought he knew me? I wasn't ready, I said no!
    It took me until I was 21 to approach the rape crisis centre at home and they were wonderful! After 6 long months I finally came to learn? I said no! He had no right and no excitement or flirting about a date would ever justify what he did... I didn't ask for it!
    In today's society there are too many women and men doing things to please others in the false hope of some emotional attachment or commitment to a relationship but rape.. rape is diff, something is taken from you that you are lucky if ever to get back... ur own self confidence and worth!
    This may explain my prudish nature to all our "sex bants" but my experience has terrified me and changed forever how I view sex... to me someone is lucky to ever get close to me and although that's positive for me, it's terrible to think that one boy will have changed my life forever because he didn't listen to NO!!
    Well done Cat... epic piece of writing and men and women everywhere will agree with all you said!
    Totally proud prude friend here x

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    1. Your a little star for coming back and writing up this comment - you've no idea what all these comments have meant to me. Especially when I know that others might have been through the same sort of things that I have. I'm honestly devastated to read about your experience, I'm so so sorry you went through that. I knew the person who raped me too, its a horrible feeling - that trust broken.
      If I'm totally honest here Emma (and for the whole internet to see) my overly sexual confidance and conversations are what I hide behind. I'm not sure how else to act, because if I don't talk and act like that then I genuinely wouldn't have a clue what to do. I'd go off back into my shell and might not come out again. My fears manifest themselves in loads of other ways which is annoying and something I should really try to fix or handle better. But never think you are prudish, you just act a lot better then I do :)

      Thanks for sharing, your support and your friendship. Your the best x

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