"Why Couldn’t You Just Keep Your Knees Together?" and What Else Upholds Rape CultureWritings
It’s the same person who says, “Maybe if her dress wasn’t so short, she could have prevented it.”
It’s the same person who asks first, “What was she wearing? Was she drunk? Did she lead him on?”
It’s the same person who cites someone’s sexual history as a justifier.
It’s the same person who dismisses and attributes physically rough behavior to “boys will be boys.”
It’s school dress codes, in which most of the rules exclusively apply to girls.
It’s the principal who disciplines a girl for wearing an outfit that could distract her male classmates.
It’s Brock Turner, his father, the judge who presided over his case, and every last person who donated to his fundraiser.
It’s the male entitlement that led to Reginald Moise murdering Tiarah Poyou just for saying “get off me.”
This, and more, is what upholds rape culture.
A 19-year-old woman said she was raped over a bathroom sink while at a house party. Today, news broke that according to trial records, Canadian Federal Court Judge Robin Camp asked her why she did not “skew her pelvis” or push herself into the sink to avoid penetration. He actually asked aloud, “Why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?”
Camp asserted that “young wom[e]n want to have sex, particularly if they’re drunk. He said that “some sex and pain sometimes go together . . . that’s not necessarily a bad thing. When Camp acquitted the man of the charge, he told him, “I want you to tell your friends, your male friends, that they have to be far more gentle with women. They have to be far more patient. And they have to be very careful. To protect themselves, they have to be very careful.”
The desire to protect perpetrators and dismiss their victims is evident. Judge Persky sentenced Brock Turner to only six months (he only served three) in county jail, as opposed to the minimum of two years in prison, because he thought that prison would have a “severe impact” on Turner. Turner’s father wrote that jail time would be “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action.”
This isn’t uncommon. Rape is trivialized and watered down to “action.” Consent is dictated clearly, but becomes a grey area when a rapist is being defended. Victims have the most difficult time being believed. People often assert that men can’t be raped, especially not by women. Sexual objectification and promiscuity always enter the conversation. “Why didn’t you do this?” is frequently asked. Victims are held responsible for preventing their rapes while they are happening and even before they happen.
Articles, pamphlets, pictures, and videos advising women on how not to get attacked are everywhere. “Have your keys ready before you leave for your car.” “Predators are more likely to target this type.” “Wear this, avoid this, do this to avoid getting attacked.”
These are often valid messages. Bad people exist, and it’s not a terrible thought to help protect oneself and others from assault; but why isn’t society on the offense and not just the defense? Instead of teaching women how to avoid getting raped, why aren’t people being taught to not rape? Instead of telling people how not to be a victim, why aren’t people being told to not be a victimizer?
Nothing being said here is new. Men and women all over the world have been saying this very same thing for ages; and that’s a problem. How many more times must the same denunciation be verbalized? How many rapists should act before society’s had enough? How many people should be made victims before things change? What else needs to be taught to make rape less pervasive? What will it take for the culture to shift? When will rape culture end? It should have never started