So you don't like the term "rape culture" because you think it's demeaning to men, insulting to men that women are encouraged to feel so afraid of them and get defensive around them, it punishes the innocent, and all the reports of rape are minority cases blown out of proportion? Fine. Go ahead and think that. And let the stomach-clenching fear that's running through my body get silenced because you don't want to hear how much your dismissal of serious issues frightens me, because when it comes down to it, you may not be the person doing the rape, but you are the person dismissing that the rape is as big a problem as people are saying it is.

Let me say it loud and clear: rape is a problem. I don't care if the statistics say that only 0.01% of women get raped a year, because putting that into context, that's 1 in 10,000 women. Doesn't sound like many, right? In my city alone, that would mean that 6-7 women get raped a year. In one city. That has a pretty small population. That would mean that just in my lifetime, almost 200 women would have been raped in this city.

That's being optimistic, though. A study done in British Columbia revealed that 1 in 17 women get raped in their lifetimes. 5.8% of women. Rounding down, that's 5 out of every hundred. In my city, that's 3400. In one small city alone, over the course of a single lifetime.

Does that scare you? Because it sure as fuck scares me! So far, my chances of getting raped in my lifetime are higher than the rate of me getting hired compared to the number of resumes I send out. The percentage is roughly the same as the people in my office who prefer tea to coffee. That kind of statistic should terrify you, not insult you because you're not the one doing the rape.

Think it's not a problem for those women? Think the correct response is to say that the idea that rapists can get away with it in this society is insulting to men? I beg you to look at your ideas a different way.

It's been said before, but it bears repeating. If you think that the idea of rape culture is insulting to men, because most men are not going to rape a person (I say 'person' because I'm not naive enough to think that only women get raped, though they are the vast majority of rape victims), think for a moment outside your own tiny box and wonder how it must feel for a woman. Someone who is taught from childhood that the responsibility of stopping rape lies squarely on her shoulders. Someone who has been given ample reason to fear walking down a street after dark. Someone who grows up being ashamed of her body because the most she hears about it is how it turns men on and they might give in and rape her. Sure, it's not fair to Joe random she sees on the street and crosses to avoid. He might not rape her. He's probably got more on his mind than random sexual assault.

But we don't know. Because people aren't Sims, we don't walk around with our intentions in little bubbles floating above our heads. We have to keep ourselves safe, and that means keeping ourselves from potential harm. We can't wait until you start holding us down and tearing our clothes off to start worrying about the consequences. We have to do our part to keep that situation from even getting started. We are taught to live in a culture of fear. That's another part of rape culture. It's not just about how men are all awful potential-rapists and how they'll get away with it because the law is just a big Boys' Club. It's about the fear that we feel going about our daily lives, the fear that yes, that stranger over there could hurt us, and for no other reason than because he wants to feel good about himself and making us feel like shit is the only way he can think of to do it.

That 1 in 17 statistic is what we have to live with, every day. Walking down the street, going to work, meeting new people, attending a book club, going to a bar, going to school.

A study was done at a university not far from here. Results showed that almost half of the men interviewed would rape a woman if they believed there would be no consequences to themselves.

This is not about you. This is about us. This is about the fear we live with, because men more dickish than you take our power away from us, and we don't know you aren't one of those men.

But if you don't like the idea of rape culture, how about we call it something else. How about "sexual assault culture?" Because in Canada, approximately 33% of women have been sexually assaulted in their lives, and only 6% of them report it to the authorities.

So here's some news for you, if you're curious. I'm in that 6% of people who didn't report it. Which means that at some point in my life, I was sexually assaulted.

Sexually harassed, technically. I was not touched. But I was harassed. Multiple times. By multiple people. And no, I'm not just talking about turning down someone's advances and then trying to hit on me again. Men like that I find creepy, but for the most part, I'm not going to say that was harassment. Mostly because I made a point never to go to that restaurant again, but hey, that's how I'm counting it.

(Okay, if truth be told, I was molested by my babysitter when I was 4. The scariest part is that she likely did that to me because someone was doing it to her. And I did tell my parents about that. They don't remember. I do.)

But sexual assault or harassment culture? That's everywhere. And it's just as insulting to men, because it still assumes that you're all potential dirtbags who are going to make us feel uncomfortable, but it's easier to ignore. On both sides. It's why the high school friend who interrupted conversation with, "Can I touch your boobs? My other friends let me," did not get reported to my parents or the school. It's why I stood for half an hour in the corner to avoid a group of guys pinching my ass in elementary school, and the teacher nearby did nothing to stop it. It's why I was bullied for years by idiots, making fun of me by saying I had my hand down my friend's pants (I was 7 at the time). It's why when a coworker kept making inappropriate jokes about me wanted to see and touch his penis, I was petrified of reporting him, because I didn't want him to get in trouble and then his fiancee, who also worked with me, would be angry at me and then make my worklife hell, and my silence meant he kept up this little joke for over a week, every time I saw him. I was afraid of getting punished for someone else's wrongdoing.

It's why a friend of mine walked into McDonalds one evening and was asked by a random group of guys if she was "a moaner or a screamer."

It's men thinking that this stuff is all in good fun, perfectly acceptible. It's everyone thinking this this is just what happens in life, and you have to toughen up and deal with it. it's people telling you you're making a big deal out of nothing if you do report how uncomfortable it made you. It's these people not getting taught not to to these things, but girls getting taught how to avoid them. It's these people not getting punished for their actions because "they didn't cause harm."

No harm... That must be why, when I was at a completely different job and saw a man who reminded me of the old coworker who harassed me, I had a panic attack and literally ran away and hid in a bathroom stall for half an hour, crying. I don't even know if it was the same man. But he reminded me of that man. That man may have done nothing wrong, and if he'd seen me run when I laid eyes on him, he would have been understandably confused and possibly a little hurt. He can't help the memory that he triggered in me that caused me to relive harassment and emotional trauma.

But that didn't stop the trauma. That didn't stop my panic. That nice little piece of logic that said this guy might not be the one I'm actually scared of didn't matter in the moment, because what mattered was OH GOD THAT MIGHT BE HIM I CAN'T SEE HIM AGAIN I CAN'T STAND IT IF HE TALKS TO ME LIKE THAT AGAIN I CAN'T BE DEGRADED LIKE THAT AGAIN I CAN'T DO THIS I HAVE TO GET AWAY. His fault? Maybe not.

Your fault? Maybe not. And it sucks that you have something in common with the people who have repeatedly hurt us. You could be the nicest guy in the world. You could be the kind of guy who, upon hearing what happened, would gladly go and tear off the nutsacks of the people who hurt us and made us so afraid. But we'll never know. In our heads, at that moment, you are that guy.

It's similar to PTSD, the kind you see in people coming back from war. When people with PTSD have panic attacks and can't handle being around others because they've had so much trauma in their lives, you don't turn around and say to them, "Well, I'm not the one who shot at you, so your fear is insulting me." If you do that, you're a dick. You just don't do that.

And this is what you're doing when you say that rape culture insults men. Yeah, it isn't fair for us to assume that every guy might potentially rape us if given the chance. You're also not the one who dropped bombs on soldiers. Kudos to you for that, by the way. But keeping ourselves safe takes priority over your hurt feelings, and if you're honestly going to claim that your bruised ego is on par with our assaults, then you are a jerk and you don't deserve my respect or sympathy for the situation. What you're doing when you say so is just that. You're telling us to stop talking about it, stop planning for it, stop educating people about it, because your feelings are getting hurt. And your feelings are more important than our safety. Your feelings are more important than our feelings. Your feelings are so important that we should be silent about a serious issue that has, does, and will destroy lives.

Which is bullshit, and I won't ask anyone's forgiveness for saying so.

September 2015

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