We drill it home to girls to remember to be safe when they’re out, to not walk home in the dark, to ensure they don’t take their eyes off their drink at the bar, to carry a rape alarm in their handbag, and not to wear ‘provocative’ clothing, whatever the hell that means. Naturally, we want our sisters, daughters, and friends to be safe wherever they go. But we shouldn’t be letting young girls grow up this way. We shouldn’t be teaching them that this is how things are, how they always will be, and to just get used to this life sooner rather than later.
We should be teaching guys not to rape.
Why are we still not doing this? Why is no one saying it? We continually talk to girls as if the responsibility lies with them to ensure that they prevent themselves from being assaulted, but we never, ever publicly have the conversation with guys about what behavior is acceptable or unacceptable when it comes to the way they interact with and treat women. We make girls think that it is their burden to carry, and that if something terrible does happen to them, it’s on them because they had a momentary lapse in judgment and just weren’t careful enough. It is utter bullshit.
A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon an eye-opening documentary created by a couple of incredible ladies, Andrea Pino and Annie Clark, called The Hunting Ground. I highly recommend it to everyone. In a nutshell, it’s about the prevalent rape culture across American colleges, and how girls are selfishly encouraged to keep quiet about their assault and not go to the police, because ultimately it reflects badly on the school.
What I found particularly disturbing is that the girls who do muster up the courage to talk to their college counsellor about what has happened to them are repeatedly met with obscene questions like, ‘So…what were you wearing?’ and ‘How much had you had to drink?’ as if the length of your skirt or the number of tequila shots you threw back might mean you were the reason for why you were raped.
SO SORRY, I SHOULDN’T HAVE HAD MY LEGS ON SHOW LIKE THAT OR BEEN DRINKING ANY ALCOHOL, IT WAS MY FAULT BECAUSE I MADE YOU WANT ME SO BAD THAT YOU JUST COULDN’T STOP YOURSELF, MY BAD, I’LL REMEMBER TO MAKE MYSELF LOOK A BIT UGLY AND STICK TO H2O NEXT TIME I GO OUT SO THAT ASSHOLES LIKE YOU ARE ABLE TO CONTROL YOURSELF.
What makes this even worse, is that these college counselors are mostly women. It’s women ignoring their basic human instincts to look out for, and protect, their fellow woman. It’s a damn shame, and I cannot believe anyone would treat another human being this horrifically. I mean, these people aren’t even doing their jobs properly – their job is to protect victims and ensure that correct aftercare and follow-up investigations are conducted. There’s your job, and then there’s also doing what is morally right. If I’m ever faced with a conflict of the two, you can bet your ass I’m gonna do what’s right, every single time. Fuck the job.
Personally, I have put myself in situations where I’m alone with a guy I don’t really know that well, and anything could happen, but I have assessed the situation and, being the eternal optimist that I am, decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. Have I been really lucky? Yes. In my experience, I have found that most guys are good. And I would still like to believe that we can look past the minority of inhumane behaviour, and know that most men are good. We have a tendency to call out all males. We forget to talk about that time we got ridiculously drunk, and a couple of our guy friends carried us home, put us in the recovery position with a blanket over us in their bed, while they slept on the beaten up sofa, waking up every few hours to make sure we’re okay. Or the time that guy we didn’t know stepped in to defend our honour when that weirdo at the bar was trying to feel us up. We forget, because we’re raised to see all men as predators, and that we must be on constant guard of not just our bodies, but also our hearts.
If you cast your mind back to your high school days, how much useless shit did you get taught there, that went straight in one ear and right back out the other, and has never helped you once in navigating your adult life? If your experience was anything like mine, then the answer is a lot. Why don’t they start teaching us things of substance, things that will help us in our future lives in the real world? How to treat each other with respect. How to be a good person. How to love someone. How to mend a broken heart. How to be a good parent. How to be okay when someone is taken from you. I wish they’d spent time at least trying, no matter how hard, to teach us some of those things.
If I’m lucky enough to be blessed with children in my future, I will teach them both equally. I will, of course, teach them to be safe, because in this world you cannot be too careful. And I will teach them to treat everyone they meet the same way that they would like to be treated. I will teach my son to treat a woman with respect and care; and ensure he knows that they are not toys to pick up, break, and drop whenever you are craving something. I will teach my daughter how she should expect to be treated by a man, and to never settle for any less than that. I will teach them to do the right thing, no matter how hard or unpopular that may be.
This is what we should be teaching our children, the next generation, the future.
We should be teaching guys not to rape.