The other day, I found myself watching Steven Crowder’s “Rape Culture doesn’t exist: change my mind” on Youtube, and sadly enough, I thought he was rather convincing. I still did not agree with him, but I could see where he was coming from, especially as he limited his definition of rape culture to “tolerating and encouraging rape,” which he thought American culture clearly did not do because of course, rapists are convicted, and they get long sentences in high security jails. Of course no one goes around saying “Rape people, you’ll have fun”, “oh what rape? Yes, you should totally try it, it’s awesome.”
The problem was the people who came to try and change his mind were not convincing, and they could not respond to his arguments. Yet, as one was clever enough to say, he had come prepared and they had not. As much as I believe in empirical data, I still think it’s very easy to go around talking about facts that you have carefully collected without collecting facts that could possibly demean your argument.
Steven Crowder did not make me change my mind about rape culture, but it did make me wonder if we were too virulent or if maybe we were seeing things that were not really there, in a sort of social media induced paranoia about the world around us. To be honest, I do think some things go too far when I read tweets that say a man saying hello to you on the street is offensive, or someone naively calling you pretty is a form of harassment. While I think this goes too far, I still think catcalling and street harassment are a real thing for many girls and women. If you look around, you can see women crossing the street to avoid groups of men because they don’t feel safe. At that point, whether they are actually safe or not is not what deserves to be pointed out – the fear itself is what should be noted. Why are these girls and women so afraid?
Well… I guess misogyny and lack of respect for all women is the problem; the problem is that girls are taught from a young age that they have to be careful because the world is a more dangerous place when you are not male. Rape culture is part of that danger without a name. As much as I sometimes want to forget that it’s there, I am also constantly reminded of how present it is. All the time. Everywhere. There is no escaping it and it gets even worse when suddenly you realise that girls propagate the ideas themselves. So you go on Instagram, and you see a photo of a girl and the comments from females friends and herself read something like this:
Friend: “I’ll rape you any time”.
Instagram girl: “I’ll be waiting” winky face
Friend: “After you have a few drinks, I can get you to bed.”
Insta girl: “sexy winky face” repeat 5 times.
Here we are, we have just dived right into it. Of course they’re joking right? Of course they don’t MEAN it right? But the thing is… Rape is not a joke and can never be a joke. Rape breaks people’s lives. Rape creates trauma. Rape is violent. Rape is not trivial. And if girls feel free to joke about it this way and to make it seem natural to, how are men and boys to evolve? If this is so pervasive that even girls think it’s normal to joke about rape, what are we supposed to do? I mean… The comments even explain how to abuse a girl: make her drink. And then, if the girl seems to be open to the idea of being raped, how is anyone to know that rape is not ok?
And this, this is why the conversation about rape culture and misogyny has to go on. Because girls and boys and men and women need to value themselves and girls and women of all classes and races and ages need to respect themselves and be respected in return. Because things need to change. For the better.