We live in a society which says “don’t get raped” instead of “don’t rape” – end slut shaming and victim blaming

As Luke Pollard reported here, Councillor Philippa Davey is organising a Slutwalk in Plymouth to highlight the way rape victims are portrayed as at fault for the sexual violence they have suffered. Successful slutwalks have been held across the world, and it has an aim: to end slut shaming and victim blaming.

The concept seems so easy, doesn’t it? Maybe to me and you. Maybe to someone with half a brain. A local councillor in Plymouth was quoted to have said “a woman shouldn’t be walking alone anywhere at night, especially not in that area” in the local press after saving a woman from a mugger in August. Now, whilst no doubt a chivalrous act, his train of thought concerning women’s actions concerns me.

Why should a woman “not be walking alone anywhere at night”? Women should be able to walk wherever they want to walk, at whatever time of day they want to walk there, without fear of attack or rape. That should go without saying. Wherever they are, rape is rape.

If she was wearing a small skirt, showing too much leg, or her underwear is a little bit on show – sex without consent is rape. Women should be able to wear whatever they want and not worry about being harassed in any way by men. It doesn’t how much she is “flirting with you”, sex against her will is rape.

If she is too drunk to consent to sex, then having sex with her is rape. If she is too drunk to say yes, then the answer is no. A woman has the right to say no at any point where she doesn’t feel comfortable. Even if it just before sex. Even if it is during sex.

If she is your wife, your girlfriend ,your daughter, your friend. Non-consensual sex is rape. It doesn’t matter how well you know them. Marital rape is not a crime in countries such as Pakistan and China. The list is sadly so long. Gender inequalities in these countries allow women to be oppressed, raped and attacked in these countries by the people they love. Marital rape is illegal in the United Kingdom. That means it is not ok.

Are you getting it yet?

If she is a sex worker, having sex with them against their will is rape. It does not matter what she is wearing, or where she is. It does not matter how she earns her money, or what you expect of her. If the sex is not consensual, it is rape.

If she has mental or physical disabilities, the same rules apply. Just because someone is unable to say no does not mean that answer should be taken as yes. Sexually exploiting disabled women by having sex with them against their will is rape.

If she is half dressed in your bed, if she naked in your bed, sex without consent is rape, however many clothes she is wearing. If she is asleep, having sex with her then is illegal, too – even if you had consensual sex when she was awake. That’s rape.

If the victim is male, the law is the same. In 2010, there had been a 196% increase in those who reported sexual abuse since 1991/2. It doesn’t matter what gender, what age, what ethnicity somebody isif sex is not consensual, then it is rape.

And elected members like George Galloway support the idea that having sex with somebody whilst they are asleep does not constitute as rape. “I mean, not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion” Er, actually, George, the law says I have to consent every time a male penetrates me, actually. With people like that in Parliament, people who actually understand what rape means continue to fight to make sure that nobody is exploited, nobody is made to have sex against their will, that nobody is raped – and that nobody lives in fear of being raped or fears walking anywhere alone.

I support Slutwalk, and commend Cllr Philippa Davey for bringing Slutwalk to Plymouth. By raising awareness, we can ensure that society begins to tell people “don’t rape”, instead of “don’t be raped” – and that nobody is afraid to say no.

slutwalk

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2 thoughts on “We live in a society which says “don’t get raped” instead of “don’t rape” – end slut shaming and victim blaming

  1. When Galloway made those remarks he was widely and rightfully mocked and labelled a misogynistic idiot. His own party leader resigned in disgust along with some Respect parliamentary candidates.

  2. Why was Reg Traviss, wrongly accused and now cleared, of ‘rape’ named? Is it ok for victims to have anonymity but not alleged ‘perpetrators’ ? Can’t have one rule for one and another for everyone else.

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