“Some of these cases…involved the victims being raped after drinking quite a lot of alcohol … So I would appeal that young ladies should not drink too much.”
- the Hong Kong security secretary, in response to the city’s rising reports of rape.
Silence Isn’t Useful Against Street Harassment
When I was a freshman in college, I went to Woody’s, a gay bar in center city, with a few friends. At the end of the night, I went outside to get some air while waiting for my friends to meet me. It happened to be the same night of a big Phillies game – I don’t follow sports, so I can’t tell you which team they played against or even if they lost or won – and there were cars lined up on the street in a traffic jam, honking their horns and going wild. I also don’t understand Philly sport fans.
Next thing I knew, I was being pulled into the back of a truck where at least six grown men were screaming names at me, ripping at my dress and punching me to keep me down. I curled up as tight as I could, holding my head and hoping someone would help me.
Luckily, due to the congestion of cars, a stranger on the street was able to pull me out of the truck before they had the chance to drive away. I immediately went to the cops, reporting what happened and also explaining that they had taken my phone, but the cops said there was simply “nothing” they could do since I didn’t have a license plate number or any way to identify them.
I guess this experience kind of shaped my belief that as a woman, I would just have to put up with harassment from men. It made me believe that being catcalled on the street was no big deal. But as we accept it, we start to let bigger things happen. We start to lose a sense of power, and we give into society’s wrongs rather than joining together and letting people know that no, it’s not OK.
Rape myths often suggest that women ask for rape because of how they dress or behave and contribute to a rape culture that accepts sexual violence and victim-blaming.
We’re coming to work in jeans tomorrow in commemoration of Denim Day.
Part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Denim Day began as a protest against an Italian rape case, in which the guilty verdict was overturned because the victim was wearing tight jeans before the rape occurred. The court felt the victim must have helped take off her jeans, therefore consenting to sex.
On Wednesday we stand up for this woman, and for all women, in fighting misperceptions about rape. Clothes play no part in causing rape — it can happen to someone wearing jeans, a tight dress, or an oversized parka.
We all grow up in a culture in which women’s bodies are constantly turned into things, into objects. Here she’s become the bottle of Michelob. In this ad she becomes part of a video game. And this is everywhere – in all kind of advertising; women’s bodies turned into things; into objects.
Turning a human being into a thing is almost always the first step towards justifying violence against that person. We’ve seen this with racism, we’ve seen it with homophobia, we see it with terrorism. It’s always the same process: the person is dehumanized, and violence becomes inevitable.”