I know I’ve been completely AWOL lately… forgive me, varsity has just been a bit of a crazy shock this year but that’s a story for another day. Even though I should be studying right now, for my exams which are a week away if I might add, there’s been a lot going on lately especially with regard to sexual, physical and emotional assault and how such matters are kept silent. So because of all of this I would like to start off this post with a quote that I recently read, I am not sure who said it and so if anyone knows please let me know.
“No one actually thinks all men. Just too many men. Just enough men to be afraid. Just enough men that all women have experienced it. Just enough to make it a social problem and not a personal one.”
I found this quote specifically enticing because it is relatable to such a vast majority of people and I feel as though most of those who read it resonate with the words on a personal level. As I have mentioned in my previous posts, I live in South Africa, and recently a 22-year old female, Karabo Mokoena, was murdered by her boyfriend following a fight between the two. This event has been all over social media, on most news stations, it has managed to reach international news. This is what lead to the hashtag #MENARETRASH making its way throughout social media. I came across #MENARETRASH for the first on Facebook, and this was prior to me hearing the story, so upon first glance, I was a bit taken aback by what I was reading. The reason for this is because of the blatant disapproval toward men (as a whole) and I’m sure for many this hashtag gets your blood boiling thinking “not all men are trash.” If so I refer you back to my introductory quote. Yes, it is true that not all men are trash, that not all men will abuse women, that not all men will rape, that not all men catcall or treat women as objects, it is just too many men. So much so that I guarantee you that most women who read this have been subject to some form of it, whether it is unwanted stares from men, whether it is them feeling uncomfortable if their shorts are slightly shorter than anticipated or whether it is receiving a hostile response for not wanting to respond to remarks like “you’re so much prettier when you smile” or random men shouting out to ask for your number. The Men Are Trash hashtag has resurfaced many other cases in South Africa of a similar nature and as a result men and women throughout the country have been able to voice their opinions through this hashtag, including me. In many countries all across the world (and specifically my own… I emphasise that), assault has become somewhat of a ‘norm’ and this terrifies me right down to my core.
If you turn on your TV now or watch something on Netflix, I’m pretty sure that there is some show or movie with a character who has experienced some form of sexual abuse. There was an article that I read a while back (sorry I can’t remember where I read it or who wrote it) which displayed the disapproval toward the use of rape as a backstory for many characters. Therefore giving the character a sort of ‘survivor’ appeal. Sansa from Game of Thrones was one of the examples used. Recently there has been a huge amount of controversy regarding 13 Reasons Why (there is a spoiler coming up so if you have not seen it yet and still would like to maybe skip this part) not only for the issue of suicide but also that of rape. Before I go on, I am not condoning the use of assault to make a fictional character seem more appealing and alluring but I do believe that sexual assault is a reality in our society which needs to be made aware of (obviously in a reasonable manner).
Now I just need a moment to talk about Hannah Baker’s rape in the series 13 Reasons Why. If any of you have seen this you will know that Hannah did not explicitly say ‘no’ or physically fight/push Bryce (her rapist) off her. Following this, there have been remarks saying that because Hannah did not say ‘no’ it, therefore, would not constitute rape. Others have said things such as she should have fought harder or pushed him off, that had they been in her situation they would have tried harder to get away. So does that mean that it was her fault? Does that mean she could have stopped this rape and because she did not say no she therefore consented?
All of these things just contribute to the rape culture that exists all around us, the prejudice and victim blaming. All of these things contribute to why only 1 in 9 rapes are reported in South Africa. When an individual reports assault or rape, it is first and foremost for them but after that, it is providing others with the comfort and security for them to know that they are not alone. That they do not need to be ashamed because of their circumstances. Not reporting assault is only leading to the idea that rape is okay and the way women are treated is okay because there are no consequences.
EWN recently posted an article on #MENARETRASH and why it is so important. The article basically discusses what most of us already know but still neglect to acknowledge. However, I do still urge you to read this article as it does open one’s eyes to why so many people are personally affected by recent events.
In addition, here is a really nice article by Shannon Ridgway on what rape culture is all about if you are struggling to grasp the concept.
Rape culture goes further than just rape. And although (recently in South Africa) it does include abuse from partners, taxi rapes, rapes which have occurred in university residences and even the sexual abuse of over 20 school boys… the list goes on. Rape culture is also an issue of misogyny and patriarchy. This is not something that is solely directed against women from men, even if that may be the case a lot of the time. It is the fact women are told not to wear dresses that are too short or shirts that reveal just a little too much because if you do and something happens “you’re asking for it.” It is the fact that my mother has told me on countless occasions not to wear certain clothing because of those around me and that I should just accept it because “that is the world that we live in.” It is the world where instead of teaching individuals that rape is wrong, women are taught not to get raped, to not walk around at night, to carry pepper spray around in your bag and having to feel unsafe walking alone. It is all of these things that make it seem okay for a rape culture to exist.
So at this point, this is my contribution. I know it is not a lot, but I am ready for more and more people to open up and talk about the issue at hand. I am ready to take a stand and I want my voice to be heard so much so that others feel safe and motivated to speak up too.
If you have written anything similar on this issue please leave the link below or message me separately. If not, I would still love to hear your thoughts and views.
So, for now, let us break the silence!