Sexual harassment and rape culture

My rant on sexual abuse didn’t generate any comments on my journal, but several people have come up to me in person to say they’ve read it. Liz Worth also wrote a post about not even being able to wait for the bus without being sexually harassed, and the objectification and assault that comes with visible tattoos. She also lives in Toronto.

I recently read Cordelia Strube’s Lemon, about a maladjusted 16 year old whose best friend is raped at a party, during which Lemon is also sexually assaulted. They don’t report it. Her best friend is wrecked, and Lemon attempts suicide. It shattered my heart. I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s not going away.

Young women are committing suicide after being victims of sexual abuse from coast to coast – Amanda Todd in BC and Rehtaeh Parsons in Nova Scotia are only the most recent and most publicly reported instances. Rape culture is pervasive and it needs to stop. Yet we have columnists – women columnists even! – who fail to recognize this.

Stacey May Fowles shared a newspaper article on the Scarborough Rapist in which a curfew was suggested for women. If women were found out late the police would not offer protection. “Don’t expect people to watch out for you,” Constable Vic Clark, who was, incredibly, a crime prevention officer for Scarborough’s 43rd Division. He goes on to say “‘It would be nice to think that you can go anywhere you like nowadays, but don’t put yourself in a vulnerable position.'” This is an article about  Paul Bernardo, prior to being caught. A man who sexually assaulted, raped and killed multiple women. He was active from 1987- 1990, and this article is from 1988.

In 1990, when model Kate Moss was 16 years old, she was told that if she didn’t remove her clothes for a photo shoot, they would never book her again. She locked herself in the toilet, and cried. Then went out and did the shoot. Alex Needham heinously defends the sexual extortion and exploitation of a young teenage girl as “taking one for the team.” This article appeared in the Guardian on November 1st, 2012.

When the news of the conviction of the two men in Steubenville who raped a 16 year old girl, posted pictures of it on social media sites, videoed their actions while in the background men can be heard laughing, CNN, ABC and other news networks were more concerned about the effect this would have on the rapists’ football careers, than the young woman they raped. This occurred across multiple venues in March 2013.

Last night, when I was cycling home from work after 10 pm in Toronto, twice cars coming towards me slowed down on quiet stretches of road to leer at me and honk. Mild in comparison? Maybe. But that’s just yesterday’s instance of sexual harassment. You know, the kind of every day thing every woman experiences on a regular basis. (For more, see Rant: Things are not ok.)

You can tell yourself rape culture doesn’t exist, but don’t expect to convince me.