I am a final year drama student and in my field of study, I am bound to come across a diverse group of people. It’s the Arts, isn’t it? I have met people who express themselves through dance, acting, singing, public speaking and even fashion. But it breaks my heart when I see people who feel they can’t freely and fully embrace themselves completely for various reasons, especially for the fear of being misunderstood or being bullied into being ‘normal’. What is normal anyway? I have not met two humans who are the same. So what is normal?
My friends and I were having a discussion about fashion. You know how I love my clothes. Our conversation led to us speaking about how the way a woman is dressed can be read as asking to be raped. Yeah we really went far and deep. I told my friends that I like wearing my short skirt and short. I express myself through my clothing. Then they brought to my knowledge about an incident where a girl got raped by her classmate in university because according to him, she had been begging him to do it since she keeps wearing “provocative clothing”. He told her that if she didn’t want to be raped or as he said, ‘given it to raw and hard”, she should have dressed appropriately. So basically he blamed her for his actions.
That Conversation sparked many questions in my mind. Why is rape so predominant in our society? Why are the victims blamed? Why is rape and sexual harassment normalized in our society? How can we prevent rape? What can we do? And it clicked; rape is not caused by the victim but by the perpetrator and the society that enables him or her. This seems to be common sense and general knowledge but it truly isn’t. If it were, the rate of rape in our society won’t be as high as it is.
When something as degrading and insulting as catcalling is looked at as normal and alright, it’s even seen as a compliment, there is little surprise why the rate of sexual assault is so high. When a person is raped, people ask “why didn’t you stop it?” “What were you wearing?”, “Why were you flirting?”, “Did you fight back?”, “Were you drinking?”, “Did you say no?”. The most ignorant reason I have come across about rape is when the perpetrator claims that he is she did it in order to fix the victim’s sexuality. Homosexual people and people who are not heterosexual can be raped because their sexuality can be read as incorrect. I believe that the major cause of rape is lack of education on how to respect other people’s choices and bodies.
If we as the society teach our male children to respect people of other genders from a young age as well as lift the burden of fitting into the box of masculinity created by society, the rate if rape will decrease. Males are thought to assert their masculinity at every given and created opportunity while females are thought to be obedient and subservient to men, therefore whatever done wrong to them need not be voiced out. How can a rape victim speak out when society blames him or her? How can a perpetrator not be one when society encourages rape itself? We need to encourage each other to speak up about wrong doings and create an environment where people feel safe to be themselves without fear of any form of assault. An environment where people feel safe to speak up and to BE
#SpeakUp #NoMeansNO #Don’tRapeMe #IWasRaped
Below is a link to a video of the campaign my friends and I created against. Please watch, enjoy, support and share.