When girls are growing up they are told how to dress, how to act, never to walk alone at night, not to trust strangers and many many more guidelines that are designed to keep us safe from rapists. Despite all of this huge numbers of girls are still raped every year, every DAY, probably in the town you live in. Most rapes are unreported, the rapes that are reported are rarely prosecuted, the rapes that are prosecuted result in very few convictions, and even fewer prison sentences. We raise girls not to get raped but we don't raise boys not to rape!
image courtesy of wikimedia commons
It doesn't matter what you wear or if you flirt with a boy, it doesn't matter if you get drunk and fall asleep in a park, at a party, or on someone's couch, it doesn't matter if you walk home alone, it doesn't matter if you trust a stranger, no matter what a girl does, the bottom line is that NO MEANS NO. No matter what YOU do, no one is allowed to have sex with you - or even TOUCH you - unless YOU want them to.
If you've passed out on someone's couch you can't say "yes" to sex so no one can have sex with you, or touch your body. Not unless you can look them in the eye and say "YES" do they have permission to touch you in any way. Furthermore if you are kissing someone, or holding their hand, or sitting on their lap, going for a ride in their car, or if you're in their bedroom making out, if you say STOP they are legally obligated to stop then and there, they are not entitled to continue. What happens to your body is your decision, no matter what. It's called BODILY INTEGRITY. It's a basic human right.
All too often (but not nearly as often as it happens) we see news stories about girls or women being raped or assaulted and then we see the commentary about it on Facebook that says she shouldn't have been drinking, she shouldn't have been hanging out with boys that were older than her, she shouldn't have kissed him, she shouldn't have been wearing that, she shouldn't have led him on .... but isn't that missing the point? HE should never have touched her in a way that she either couldn't consent to or did not consent to. Why did HE think that her skirt was inviting him to touch her body in a way that pleased him? Why did he think it was ok to touch her body while she slept? Why shouldn't she hang out with whoever she wants? Shouldn't she be safe and respected simply for being a human being with bodily integrity? How weak can someone be if their sexual urges are driven out of their control by a SKIRT!? Or by a sleeping woman?
We've spent an awfully long time making girls and women responsible for the ways boys and men act! That doesn't seem very fair to me. It's called RAPE CULTURE. It's the culture that makes victims responsible for the actions of their abusers. Imagine your dad is asleep in his house and someone creeps into the house and steals his TV and wallet. Now imagine he hadn't locked the front door and he'd had a couple of beers. Who is to blame? The person who committed the crime is responsible for committing the crime, not your dad! He's allowed to sleep in his house, completely unlocked, and it's reasonable for him to expect that no one will steal his TV.
No one is allowed into your house unless you invite them in, and no one is allowed to take your TV or money unless you give it to them. It is the responsibility of thieves not to steal, not the responsibility of victims to protect their belongings. If the police arrested the robber who stole your dad's TV and prosecuted them, do you think the robber's defence team would claim "but his window was open, he was asleep, he'd been drinking beer all night. What else was my client to think when he saw the wallet on the coffee table? And that large plasma screen television was simply BEGGING to be stolen by my client". Probably not. That would make their client look pretty silly wouldn't it?
So if someone touches you in a way that makes you uncomfortable or embarrassed, if you are raped, if you share a private photograph of yourself with someone who shares it around with all their mates, no matter what YOU do, you are NOT responsible for the actions of someone else. You are not a slut, a bitch, a whore, you are not ruining someone else's life if they harm you and you report it to the police. You are responsible for not hurting other people, and other people are responsible for not hurting, humiliating, or embarrassing you. Your body is solely for YOUR enjoyment. You are free to wear whatever makes you happy, to dance however feels good, to hug or hold hands with people you like or are friends with, to sleep on someone's couch (or your own for that matter), you are allowed to change your mind about having sex or kissing someone at any time. Your body is YOURS. You are the boss of what happens to your body and you can not be held responsible for the actions of another person. Only Rape Culture would have you believe otherwise.
It's time we stopped blaming the victims and started blaming the people who choose to behave in unkind, inappropriate, violent ways don't you think? It's time to name and shame them. It's time to raise awareness about Rape Culture.
YOU are not responsible for unwanted sexual attention.
YOU are not responsible for controlling the feelings or behaviour of other people.
Not ever. No matter what.
YOU are not responsible for rape or assault UNLESS YOU ARE A RAPIST.