Sunday, October 5, 2014

Rape Culture Goes Far Beyond YouTube Videos

I consider myself a Nerdfighter. For those of you who've never heard that phrase before, that's the term John Green and Hank Green came up for their fanbase. I found them through their Vlogbrothers channel on YouTube, and I've been hooked ever since.

A couple of their primary values involve spreading a love of science, as well as the world in general, reducing nasty stuff so prevalent in cultures all over the place today (aka Worldsuck) and generally making the world a better place in which to live. Y'know. All stuff I try to do, and a huge part of why I created my blog, Alternative Wiring, long before I'd even heard of these great guys.

Anyway. Nerdfighter. Nerd = someone passionate about nerdy interests. Fighter = someone who strives to defend/change something. Nerdfighter = a nerd fighting to make the world a better place. Hey, it fits.

Anyway, through them, I discovered a fantastic, sex positive lady, Laci Green (no relation, far as I know). By "sex positive" I don't mean "porn". I mean someone who promotes healthy sexual relationships, both with other people and our own bodies. Two huge issues she talks about regularly are consent and rape culture.

Like the vast majority of women I've met, both of these things have effected me personally. I have had terrible encounters with both strangers and men I've known for a long time, the worst involving unwanted touching. In comparison to a lot of my friends, that's pretty mild, but it's still enough to make me unwilling to trust men I don't know.

Anyway, I came across the following video not too long ago:

Now, I didn't know who Sam Pepper was before I saw this video, but I have seen similar videos done by other guys on the internet, and I have reported them for promoting violence against women. I'm very glad that this is getting attention, and action is being taken against some of these guys.

Unfortunately, as big as YouTube is, it's still small when compared to the rest of the world. The grabbing Sam did reminded me a lot of what happened to me back in April, and the fact some of Pepper's victims have come forward with more serious allegations makes me wonder what the kid ('cause he's not a young man in my eyes) who took advantage of me is capable of.

This is a serious issue for both women AND men.

The Sam Pepper situation clearly demonstrates how seemingly harmless "pranks" and street harassment can be indicative of far more serious acts, which is why I'd reported my attack to an uncaring police force.

Realistically, I know nothing will happen to the kid who grabbed me, at least in relation to what happened in April. In comparison to the rapes, murders, and violent assaults that happen in this city, unwanted grabbing isn't as serious. However, attention does need to be drawn to that behavior, because it is still a violation, and it can have lingering effects for months afterwards.

It's NOT right, and it's NOT to be tolerated. It shouldn't be dismissed as "boys will be boys", or "it's just a part of life". It's about misplaced entitlement, a fundamental lack of respect and an extreme misunderstanding of how the concept of consent works. It's also about reducing women, and those deemed feminine, to pieces of meat put on Earth exclusively for mens' pleasure.

Worse yet, this dismissiveness is part of why it's so hard for victims - male, female and all other gender identity - of sexual assault come forward, because it reinforces the idea that sex crimes aren't as serious as other crimes. Obviously, that couldn't be further from the truth.

If you'd like to try getting rid of rape culture, I'll add the following suggestions to the ones in Laci's video:
  • Speak up when you spot victim blaming.
  • If someone you're following on any social network reinforces rape culture, either talk to them about it, or unfollow them. That attitude doesn't deserve your support.
  • Report videos, images or other posts whenever possible.
  • If you catch yourself taking part in victim blaming or minimizing these crimes, work on changing your behavior.

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