I've... been debating posting this.
Since the Stuebenville Rapists were convicted 6 days ago, the internet has utterly exploded with outbursts of rape culture and apologism. Everywhere I bloody look, some idiot is whining how sad it is that those nice young men who RAPED AN UNCONSCIOUS GIRL are going to go to jail and how tragic it is that their football dreams have been dashed because of that drunk bitch, yadda yadda.
I've seen friends reduced to screaming rage fits by this stupidity. I've seen ugly things said in the name of victim-blaming by WOMEN, who should bloody KNOW better. I've seen countless articles trying to explain how this is an example of rape culture, and why it's wrong. And I've largely avoided wading into it myself because honestly, 22 years since MY rapes and rape culture has not only NOT been effectively stopped, it's gotten worse, and I can't cope with THAT much blatant stupidity.
Rape is rape and it should be up to the potential rapists to not rape, not the victims to stop someone FROM raping them. Period.
Yesterday I saw a link shared by a friend about a schoolteacher who accidentally ended up in a discussion about what rape IS with her class of 15 year old students, and realizing how many misconceptions they had about what counts as rape or what counts as consent. And how she taught her students how to not rape.
So I've been debating sharing a personal story. One I never have shared publicly before, only with a few trusted friends.
Let me make something perfectly clear. I do NOT believe I'm a strong or brave person just because I've survived some terrible things. I'm EXTREMELY uncomfortable with the praise and borderline hero worship I get solely because I was too stubborn to die. I speak openly about my juvey rapes and other traumas I've endured ONLY in the hope other survivors might take comfort in knowing they aren't alone. I don't like praise and I ask that anyone reading this please respect that and not make me uncomfortable as such.
When I was 22, and still not the bloated whale I am now, and had been living out as a woman all of 6 months, I was accosted in the laundry room of my then apartment building. A young man who I later learned was 17 at the time, started chatting me up, trying to put the moves on me. I tried to be as polite but firm as I could, telling him very clearly I was NOT interested in any way.
This answer wasn't good enough for him, and he started trying to kiss me and squeeze my breasts. I pushed him away forcefully and repeatedly my distinct lack of consent. It was an instinct move, not particularly thought through, and after doing so it only then occurred to me he might react violently to being rebuffed, and so I braced myself for an attack.
But he just looked at me in confusion, and asked me why I did that. I told him because I had clearly said NO.
Still confused he said "But girls only say no so they won't seem like sluts. My big bro said so."
I irritatedly replied telling him no, women say NO because they MEAN no, and his brother was a sexist prick. Then I told him to leave or I'd scream.
STILL looking terribly confused, he pleaded that we were having a nice conversation and I was so pretty and I'm supposed to want him to sweep me off my feet and ravish me like in the movies. You know, all romantic and shit.
I replied that rape is NOT romantic and movies lie.
When he heard rape he started to cry. "You thought I was trying to rape you?" he said, visibly hurt by the very thought. And that was when I truly fully realized what rape culture really means. That this 17 year old kid had gotten so confused and twisted up by the messages of Rape Culture in society that the thought he might be hurting me or committing rape had never once occurred to him, and he was horrified by the idea that this was how I saw his actions.
I don't know why I did what I did next. I really don't. I've wondered for years what the hell possessed me.
I held him until he stopped crying, and I took him to Starbucks to explain to him how consent works in the real world and why what he almost dd was wrong.
I learned his older sister had been raped when he was little but he never really understood what that meant, only that it screwed her up a lot. That he was kind of afraid of his older brother and was always trying to earn his approval. That he honestly believed the combination of his brother's macho BS and the way love and sex are portrayed in movies and believed that what he did was the way a man is supposed to seduce a woman. He apologized profusely and cried again, rather a lot, when I carefully and calmly explained to him what I'd endured in Juvey (without letting him in on my being trans/IS, I'm not THAT stupid), and how it affected me, and that his sister likely felt the same.
I explained to him that in the real world, a woman only means yes if she clearly SAYS yes, that anything else should be assumed to be NO unless explicitly stated. I explained why his brother's approval wasn't something worth striving for.
We talked there for two hours, and he was grateful for my educating him. The thought of his sister hating him had he gone through with it bothered him a LOT more than failing to meet his brother's standards.
That boy entered the police academy the next year, is currently with an RCMP sex crimes unit, and is married with three children. He named his daughter after me. He still calls me every year on the anniversary of that day to thank me for setting him straight.
So.... rape culture CAN be fought. It CAN be counteracted, even when it feels like nothing will ever change.
Sometimes all it takes is to just educate people while they're still young enough to get it.
So have a little faith. They CAN be taught.
(Note to James my Obsessed Whacko Stalker; Yes, it DID happen, NOTHING I say is bullshit, unlike you, and I will keep deleting everything you post to this blog and laugh at your sad impotent Gradschool crush on me. Toodlepip)