1 in 4 women. 1 in 6 men. And considering how under reported rape is those numbers are probably higher. Most of us are looking for ways to stop this, to turn the tied of sexual violence. For our sakes, for the sake of our children’s safety. Here are the top 8 things I think need to be done to finally decrease these numbers.
1. Stop putting the blame and the responsibility on the victim.
We have to stop saying “she should have worn a longer skirt” or “she shouldn’t have been drinking” or “but men want sex all the time”. Those are not reasons. They’re not even excuses. Saying these things makes it the victims fault they were attacked.
Yes, there are things we all can do to make ourselves physically safer in a dangerous world, like travelling in pairs, talking on our phones to a loved one while we walk, don’t drink too much, be aware of our surroundings, etc. But just because someone chooses to wear something that someone else finds attractive does not give them the right or permission to have sex with them.Just because someone is vulnerable does not give someone else the right or permission to have sex with them.
So the first reason why we have to stop blaming the victim is because it’s not the victim’s fault. If you are a victim of rape listen to me very clearly. IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT.
The second reason is that it makes it more difficult for the victim to come forward. No one will believe them, and everyone will start asking them what they were wearing, if they were drinking, etc, forcing them to relive the trauma with no purpose.
The third reason is that your reasoning falls apart with other types of crime. When you mug someone who is drunk you don’t question whether a crime was committed or not. You don’t say that the drunk person was asking for it. You don’t make these excuses when someone is killed. Why do we say these things about rape?
2. Give women the rights to their own bodies.
This is not limited to discussions of abortion. What I’m talking about here is birth control. Tubular ligation. Basic health care. I have heard hundreds of stories about women who were denied medication or basic care because their doctors dismissed them as silly girls who didn’t know anything.
Women under 30 who have 2 or fewer children and/or are not married cannot get a tubular ligation. Women under 40 who have no children cannot get a tubular ligation. Women cannot get a tubular ligation without the knowledge and consent of their husbands. Even if it is in the woman’s best interest, health wise, to have her tubes tied, she can’t unless she has 3 children, is over 40, her husband approves (if she’s married).
In most cases, in most places, a man can get a vasectomy with a 10 minute consultation and a 30 minute appointment. The consultation covers what to do after the surgery to avoid swelling and pain. He does not need to share how many children he has, or if he is married. His spouse is never consulted. The only reason his age is asked is to check for other age related complications like blood pressure.
I understand that vasectomies are more easily reversed than a tubular ligation and that there are no other reliable long-to-mid-range birth control options available to men. That doesn’t change the fact that when a woman goes to her doctor and says “Two kids is enough for me” she knows herself, her body, her emotional capacity for stress and chaos, etc. and is making an informed decision about her own health and should be respected. She shouldn’t be met with “you’ll change you’re mind later” as if she was a child choosing clothing or what colour cup to drink out of.
And women are shamed for using birth control. It is not covered by public health care in my province because it is deemed “not a necessary medical process/prescription”. Private insurance companies can choose whether to include it in their prescription coverage. And I can tell you that covering birth control is cheaper than covering mat leave so it’s not a money thing. It’s a control thing.
When a woman goes to the doctor complaining of pain at a level 8 or higher they are told they are imagining things even though science has proven that women are more likely to downplay they pain they feel (ie rate a level 10 pain as an 8) rather than exaggerate it (label a level 8 pain as a 10).
How does this apply to rape? If the medical community does not give full rights to a woman when discussing her body how can we expect everyone else to? A doctor will not let me make my own decisions about my reproductive health. Is it any surprise that our opinions on who we want to sleep with and when are ignored as well?
3. Employ more female police officers, crime scene investigators, lawyers, and judges. And actually process rape kits.
Female victims are more likely to report rape to another female. If a woman walks into a police station and asks to speak to a female officer her request should be honoured without question as she probably wants to report rape, sexual harassment, or domestic violence.
Rape kits on female rape victims should be collected by female nurses, doctors, or investigators in as many cases as possible to ease the trauma to the victim. They should have access to a female lawyer if they choose it.
This goes above and beyond fair hiring practices. This isn’t about representation or equal rights, it’s about improving the chances that the rape will be reported and investigated. On that note, actually process the rape kits.
The back log on rape kits is longer than the statute of limitations on rape charges. That’s right, in some places she will never be able to press charges, or if she does press charges it will never go to trial, because the police will not process the evidence fast enough.
In processing out of date rape kits many districts have discovered that the number of serial rapists is higher than they originally thought. If the first rape kit had been processed on time they could have stopped countless other rapes committed by that same person.
Now judges is a tricky business, they have to remain impartial. But male judges are not being impartial. How is holding someone’s school options at a higher importance than someone else’s physical trauma unbiased? How is telling a victim she should have fought harder being unbiased? And yet this is happening.
Brock Turner was given a slap on the wrist sentence because anything more would have ruined his academic and sports careers. A judge in Alberta told a victim who was raped in a bar bathroom that she should have dropped her bum further into the sink to deny him access to her body. She should have kept her legs together.
Maybe we need female judges to hold lawyers accountable, to stop them from asking “what were you wearing?” or “how much did you have to drink?”. The question isn’t “did you say no?” the question should be “did you say yes?” The absence of a no does not equal consent. Being too drunk to say no does not equal consent. Being too scared to say no does not equal consent. And maybe if we had female judges overseeing rape cases we would see two things happen – the number of false accusations and false convictions would drop, and the number of actual convictions and convictions with meaningful sentences, would rise.
4. All juries for all rape cases that go to trial should be 50% female. This should be mandatory.
Don’t feed me any crap about “women can’t be unbiased in a rape case”. We need to stop letting old white men decide things about women’s bodies, whether it’s in the laws they are passing or the laws they are enforcing. Because there’s no way in hell men are unbiased in a rape case either.
They’re thinking about their sisters and their daughters and what they would do to a boy if he ever touched her without her consent.
Or they’re thinking about that girl they fucked at a party who may not have really given consent and it wasn’t really rape because she was drunk and dressed like a whore and his life would have been ruined if she’d reported it and now this poor boy is up there having his life ruined for doing the same thing.
Or they’re thinking that they’d like to get away with it.
Or they’re thinking that the rapist should burn in hell for what he’s done.
There is no unbias here. You’re either sympathetic to the rapist or you’re defensive of the victim. I’d say that on any jury for any rape trial, only a third or less of the jurors are actually impartial.
5. Teach self defense classes in high school gym class.
First of all, it’s a good way to keep fit and get strong. Second of all it could save a life in more than just a rape situation. Being able to break hold and stun an attacker long enough to run away is a critical life skill as far as I’m concerned.
6. Normalize the breast. Normalize breastfeeding.
You’ll never desexualize the breast. Men are visual by nature. We have to accept this. Sorry.
So let’s normalize the breast and breastfeeding. Teach men to compartmentalize. There is nothing sexual about feeding a baby. There is something sexual about a woman in a bikini or a low cut dress – but nothing really special. It’s just breasts. Women have them. Men have them. They all look different. Some are more appealing than others. Everyone likes something a little different.
This is important because we have to change the way we view clothing. I like wearing certain styles of clothes and some are revealing. I wear them for me. I wear them because they make me feel sexy and beautiful. I wear them for my husband sometimes. I don’t wear them for the random men at the store.
Do I care if those random men look at me? No. In fact since I’m going on 30 and have 2 kids it’s kind of a compliment if I can turn a few heads. I understand that most of those men aren’t going to be thinking about me later and if they are? Who really cares?
Looking costs me nothing. Looking requires nothing from me. I don’t have to stop or pose or respond.
The catcalling, the demands to smile, the demands to interact in any way? Sorry, I don’t owe you a single minute of my time. I don’t have to talk to strangers. I don’t have to smile when I’m thinking about my shopping list or my grandfather being in the hospital or my kids’ flu. And what I’m wearing? I’m wearing it for me, not to invite commentary from someone else.
So by all means, look. Appreciate. Admire. Lust. I don’t care. But don’t make demands on my time and expect me to respond just because of how I’m dressed or because of my gender.
7. Start calling out movies and books that romanticize abusive behaviours.
This is a long rant, so long that I covered it in another blog post that you can read here: https://casiaschreyer.wordpress.com/2016/04/06/not-giving-up-vs-not-taking-no-for-an-answer/
That’s the long, here’s the short:
There are a lot of ways to create drama and tension without abusive behaviours. There’s a lot of ways for men to pursue women without abusive behaviours. There is a fine line between not giving up and not taking no for an answer. And we need to make that line firmer. Which leads me to …
8. Teach women to say no when they mean no, maybe when they mean maybe, and yes when they mean yes.
Playing hard to get. That’s what we call it. What it really is is confusing and counter productive.
Why do women play hard to get? Because they want men to prove that they really want a relationship. He asks for a date, she says no. He brings flowers. He brings chocolates. He asks about her sick grandmother. He asks for a date, she says yes.
Did she really mean no? Or did she mean try harder?
Dating has changed so our habits and mentalities need to change too. We need to encourage honesty and openness. We can’t teach boys that no means no when sometimes no really means try harder. How is he supposed to tell when she means one and when she means the other?
I’m not interested in you romantically but I wouldn’t mind catching coffee with you sometimes, you’re fun to talk to.
Sure, I really wanted to see that movie but I’m not interested in starting a dating relationship with anyone right now so let’s not make it a date, just a hang-out.
I’d like to see that movie but are you asking as a romantic date or just a hang-out with friends sort of thing?
Ask for clarity. Be honest. Be polite. Make no assumptions.
Be open to changes in relationships. Friendships can evolve into romance or they can evolve into something more like familial ties. (“I think of you as a brother”)
And can we get rid of the “friend zone” thing? It’s so demeaning. If I respect you and like you as a friend that something pretty special in its own right. I’m not dissing you. And I don’t owe every male in my life sex or romance – I never did.
“We’ve been hanging out a lot, want to step it up to an official date?”
“Oh, I’ve never really thought about you that way.”
That conversation doesn’t have to make things weird. It will be weird if she thinks he’s now staring at her all the time obsessing over getting into her pants. If he’s cool and respects her space why can’t they go on being friends? Maybe she changes her mind about him, maybe not.
Friendship is not a fast lane to sex. Women don’t owe men sex in return for their friendship. Casual hanging out is not dating and does not imply sex now or later or ever. Dating does not imply sex now or later or ever.
What would you add to this list of ways to stop RAPE?