At the moment I am ignoring all coverage about the ongoing ‘Roast Busters’ rape scandal and its mismanagement by the police. It just makes me too sad and too angry so I am exercising my right to self care. However there is something that I think needs to be said over and over again until people start believing and realising the truth of it.
This did not happen in a vacuum.
These people are not unnatural monsters. The more we talk about rape and sexual violence as though it is perpetrated by inhuman, or subhuman individuals who are disgusting and wrong the easier it is for we as a society to deny that rape and sexual violence is a structural problem, not an individual one. These were young men who as human beings chose to do horrible things to young women and girls.
This did not happen in a vacuum
These young men have received messages their whole lives that what they were doing was normal, acceptable, and perhaps even laudable. These types of messages can be subtle, or they can be overt. They are the casual comments about “drunk sluts” deserving what they get, or the older men laughing about how she was “gagging for it” over a few beers. They are in the advertising billboards that chop up and sexualise women’s bodies as objects for consumption. They are overt when a man is a given a platform by a national newspaper to vilify and promote violence to women. These messages loud and clear when radio show hosts grill a rape victim instead of the perpetrators.
These messages were even more overt when the police knew for two years about what was happening but chose not to act The message of who matters and who doesn’t was very clear when the police re-vicitimised a 13 year old girl when she reported the crimes against her are also culpable. They aren’t the only ones though.
This did not happen in a vacuum
These young men are of course responsible for the ways in which they chose to victimise young women and girls but they are not the only ones culpable, the police who effectively allowed their behaviour to continue unchecked are culpable and we as a society are collectively responsible for rape culture. If we are not working to actively dismantle it we are part of the problem. We are part of what allows these sorts of things to happen and to go unpunished.
This does not happen in a vacuum
Most literature about rapists makes one thing clear. Rapists believe that all men rape. Let me say that again. Rapists believe that all men rape. They believe that rape is normal. Every single time we make light of rape we feed into this belief. Furthermore, some studies indicate that as many as 12% of college students admit to raping or sexually assaulting someone when they are asked questions about their behaviour without specifically labeling it as rape.
How we think and talk about rape has to change. We need to stop allowing rape to occur with impunity and we need to stop normalising rape in our communities. Rape is not normal. Rape is not acceptable. Stop joking about it, stop making light of it and for the love of all things good in the world stop saying that she was asking for it.