What is #rape culture? And how do I contribute to it?

What is #rape culture? And how do I contribute to it?

I recently took a trip to Vegas. I was meeting some of my family members there. We were celebrating my baby sister turning 21.

The first night there, we spent downtown. It was one of those nights – ladies you know the kind of night I’m talking about. A night when the wolves are prowling and howling. It’s almost as if they all know, as if they are speaking in some silent, primal language. As if they have agreed, that tonight is the night, for getting lucky with the ladies. If only they are aggressive enough, they will get oh so lucky.

More than one man used the “Hey girl, c’mere,” approach with me, as I walked through the casino, or outside, minding my own business.

What is rape culture?

If a man thinks a woman is desirable, he has the right to demand that she come here and talk to him.

I tried numerous tactics to dissuade these men who wanted me to “come here.”

I explained that I did not want to come here, or talk to them. I said “no,” I said “I’m here with my family,” I said, “that’s my dad over there,” I said “those are my brothers over there.” I dare not point out my mother or sister. They are also pretty and therefore might then need to come here and talk to him.

What is rape culture?

I have to offer an explanation why I don’t want him. I can’t just say “no” – I have to explain that I’m not here in Vegas to pick up a man. I’m here to hang out with my family.

As the night wore on, it became almost a running joke with my brothers how much I was hit on. Only not one time was it flattering or kind. It was always aggressive, always unwanted, and at no point was I “asking for it.”

What is rape culture?

The very phrase, “asking for it.”

And the night wore on, I was still out and about, with only my two brothers. I went off alone to use the bathroom. When I came out of the bathroom, I saw him. A man headed straight for me. I saw the gleam in his eye. I became aware of the distance between my brothers and me. I became aware of being alone in a crowded place. I became aware that I was separated from the herd. I became aware of my gazelle status, and of his lion status. I became aware of the drinks in my system. None of my tactics so far had worked to dissuade aggressive men.

I should have walked by with my head held high, but I just didn’t want any trouble. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. I didn’t want to “ask for it.” I didn’t want to make eye contact. If you make eye contact, he will assume you want him.

What is rape culture?

My eyes went down.

I hated myself for it, but my eyes went down.

He walked right into me. I mean, right into me. He pressed himself against me. Grabbed my arms, pushed his pelvis against mine, asked me where I was going.

I squirmed, trying to keep my pelvis from touching his.

I said, “I have a boyfriend.”

What is rape culture?

Making up a boyfriend. It is not enough to just not want this man. Rape culture says you can’t have me, because I am already another man’s property. I belong to someone, it just isn’t you.

I saw my brother Brett walking toward me. My salvation. My “boyfriend.” I saw the very welcome protective light in his eyes as he quickened his pace toward me.

The lion man was moving around me, grinding up on my backside.

“Where’s your boyfriend?” he asked, close in my ear.

I pointed to my brother.

“Right there.”

Seeing my big, pissed off brother coming toward him was enough to send this guy on his way.

Though I was very grateful I wasn’t alone, and had my brother to protect me, I was still angry.

What is rape culture?

The many times I’ve had the “what if” thoughts.

What if my brother hadn’t been there?

Because sometimes he isn’t. Sometimes no one is there to protect us, to save us.

What is rape culture?

Needing protection, in a busy, public place, because men can’t be expected to control their desires.

What is rape culture, and how do I contribute to it?

The fact that I told myself all the reasons why I didn’t deserve to be treated as if I am sub-human.

I didn’t come to Vegas to meet men, or to flirt. I was on an innocent vacation. So I’m not asking for it.

I wasn’t wearing something tight, or low-cut. A little short, but not THAT short. So I’m not asking for it.

I have a boyfriend, that’s actually my brother, but still. So I’m not asking for it.

I had been drinking, but I wasn’t hammered. So I’m not asking for it.

I’m so tired of making excuses and second-guessing everything I wear, and do and say.

What is rape culture?

All the excuses I made in my own head for why I wasn’t “asking for it.”

What is rape culture?

It is where we live. It is a place where men can’t be expected to control themselves, so women need to control themselves, and the men will automatically be controlled into not raping us.

I sometimes think rape culture is even more insulting to men than it is to women. Rape culture says women are mere objects, but it is the men who are truly weak.

What is rape culture?

It is something we can change. Right now.

I will do my part.

What is my part?

It is lifting my eyes and meeting yours.

It is not asking for it, but demanding it: Respect. Humanity. Freedom of movement.

Just like men have. I want the right to walk, to meet your eyes, to wear what I want and not question it.

I want men to have the right to claim their rapist status. If you are a rapist, admit it. Say, “I am a rapist.”

Do not give the provocative sexy women the power to make you into a man who couldn’t help himself. Admit you are weak and powerless in our presence.

Or meet my eyes. As if I were human. As if we were equals.

That is what I’m really asking for.

Meet my eyes.

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