Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Rape Culture

Yesterday I tweeted 4 things that I believe illustrate rape culture. Today I'm elaborating on those 4 things. There are many others but in the context of this story and the dialogue this week, this is what I have identified. 

Exhibit A: Victim's actions

There’s been a lot of focus on the victims’ actions. They were drunk. They haven’t come forward. They need to be brave. This is completely unacceptable. Just because a person is in a vulnerable state does not mean they are inviting you to sexually abuse them. A staggering number of people are sexually assaulted and raped in their life time. It terrifying to read the statistics and realize that there must be so many people around me who are suffering silently that I don’t even know about. I live in my bubble and only think about it when a news like what happened this week breaks. We should not have to live in a society where a 13 year old girl has to go through what she did in this situation and then BE BRAVE. The reason these girls cannot come forward is because we don’t have a safe society where they will receive the support – emotional, legal, financial etc. We have a society that doubts, blames, ostracizes, objectifies, and vilifies.

UPDATE: Now it turns out that someone did come forward and this happened to them. 

Exhibit B: NZ Police

I do not know what the hell they have been doing for the last two years but it is clearly not enough. And yes I am aware of the law. I understand its limitations in this situation but the police are not powerless. They were dealing with a guy who father apparently is a celebrity and the son of a cop. This should have been top priority. The whole community should have been made aware long ago so what continued to happen at parties could be prevented and monitored more closely. The police need to take responsibility and need to ask themselves why the public don’t want to come forward to them. Last year a survey found trust in police was at an all time low. What did they do in response? They blamed the survey. Police culture in NZ is toxic. Everybody knows this. Someone ought to take responsibility and make some sweeping changes. I am looking at the leadership and I’m looking at the Minister.

UPDATE: See above. A detective inspector claimed yesterday "None of the girls have been brave enough to make formal statements to us so we can take it to a prosecution stage or even consider a prosecution stage." Basically he lied or did not know what's going on in his department. If this is not gross incompetence, I'm not sure what is. 

Exhibit C: John Key and Judith Collins

I expected better from our elected officials. I expect better from my Prime Minister and my Justice Minister. The PM reacted by saying that that should just grow up. This is not immature behavior Mr. Key. This is sexual assault and rape. And in case you aren’t aware, grown ups rape too. Mr. Key’s comments were callous and dismissive. He showed a lack of empathy and there was no leadership. He could have said – we need to look at our laws and if there are loopholes – we should address them immediately. He should have said – this is unacceptable and we as a society need to examine how this is happening and work to make changes at the family, school, and community level. He should have been the Prime Minister. It is clear he doesn’t want to talk about this and he doesn’t want to acknowledge it as a societal issue because being part of a society requires you to take societal responsibility and Mr. Key is incapable of that. And what about our Justice Minister? She pointed to the cyber bullying laws. She knows full well those laws will not address this but it was once again – hey look over here, I’m doing something. Once again it was shirking responsibility.

UPDATE: I'm going to add the Minister of Police Anne Tolley to this list. After what we have found out in addition to the fact that one of the boys is related to a Police officer - this reeks of corruption and she should take responsibility. 

Exhibit D: Willie and JT

I don’t even know where to start. Apparently they have apologized for offence caused by the appalling segment where they questioned a friend of the girls about this. The appalling segment that RadioLive has taken down in response to the controversy. These guys are what’s wrong with our society. They blame drinking, the age a girl loses her virginity and the fact that the girls may have lied to their parents about partying as reasons why basically ‘they had it coming’. They didn’t say it. But it was in their tone - in their condescending tones. Amy (bless her soul), the subject of the interview, was trying to answer the questions with incredible dignity in the face of the most offensive questions I have ever heard. So in case you guys aren’t aware – here are some rules about rape.
  •  Just because you consent once doesn’t mean a man can have sex with you subsequently without further consent. A girl can say no ANYTIME. Even half way through. DO YOU GET THAT?
  • Just because you consent to one person doesn’t mean you will have sex with another person.
  • Just because you lie to your parents about going to a party doesn’t mean you should be raped.
  • Just because you are drunk does not mean you want to have sex.
Also what the hell was TV3 thinking last night? How could they run this segment? Where was the responsibility? When the girls said the boys were cool – why didn’t anyone ask why? How and why is gang raping cool? Did their parents know they were going to be on TV3? The media has a responsibility and in this TV3 like everyone else in this post totally shirked it. Shame on them.

If you are feeling disheartened and you want to help - Read this post.

Finally, let's look at these 4 things and let's fix them. Let's stop blaming the victims and let's stop thinking that laws will fix everything. We have a culture that enables this and we need to work together to fix it. We need better sexual education in schools. We need better role models. We need media responsibility. We need leadership from our elected officials. I don't want to beat up these guys and I don't want them to rot in jail forever. I want them to learn their lessons, be rehabilitated and I want justice for the girls. 

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