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First off, and since International Women's Day is around the corner, can we take a minute to define 'rape culture' for those who seem to think it's an irrational and highly charged blanket statement that seeks to vilify all men for all sins? Even men who consider themselves feminists don't often get it, because they too come from a place of unconscious privilege.
When 80 student leaders (both men and women) at Saint Mary's University stand up to chant an utterly despicable chant about non-consensual sex with minors to a group of 300 freshmen, sorry, but that's crossing the line, and I absolutely fail to see the humour in it. To casually dismiss what happened at SMU as an isolated issue with a flippant shrug of the shoulders is to negate the very real fact that we don't live in a post-feminist world, and there continues to be a very strong link between how women are perceived and the disrespect and violence actively and routinely shown to them in everyday life.
Feminism is nothing more than the desire for a world where women are equal. Equal. Not superior, but equal. Pro-woman does not mean anti-man. It never has. And the only people who want you to think otherwise are those whose privileged status is derived from women being treated as inferior.
Yesterday, news broke that the FBI raided the home of Deric Lostutter in April. Deric is most famously known as KYAnonymous, the Anonymous operative who leaked a video where the young men who were later convicted of raping an unconscious teenager girl in Steubenville, Ohio were bragging about what they did in a disgustingly proud manner.
Sexual assault is anything but uncommon and like it or not, it affects us all. It's not only a moral or ethical issue -- it's an economic issue that has not gone completely unnoticed. A single act of violence against a woman may result in complete absence from work..... For companies specifically, it impacts their bottom line.
The story of Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17-year-old from Nova Scotia who hanged herself on April 4, a year and a half after being raped, is disturbingly familiar. And there were bystanders, plenty of bystanders, who had any number of opportunities to step in and do something, but none of them did. And, in many ways, you are one of these bystanders, too. I am, too. We all are.
On April 3, 2011, the first SlutWalk took place in Toronto, Canada. As an attendee that year, I didn't know what to expect that day, and it's fair to say that nobody really did. Now, two years later, we're marking the International Day Against Victim-Blaming. We don't have all the answers to ending rape or victim-blaming. We also don't know what the future holds for SlutWalk Toronto. Whether you agree with SlutWalk or not, whether you think sexual violence is your problem or not, consider that at least 1 in 3 women and girls and 1 in 6 men and boys will experience sexual violence in their lifetimes.
We lose sight of the fact that the evil exists on a continuum and if we don't pay attention, we slide, individually and collectively, into evil, selfish actions; exchanging one set of morals for another; Like Steubenville. A mob; a crowd; choosing not to intervene because of an absence of an internalized morality.
The real horror of Amiel's column is not that she wrote it, or even that it was published in a mainstream magazine. It's that she is merely putting to paper what is thought by so many. There are people who believe that intoxication, even unconsciousness, means yes.
One of the reasons behind why the media focused on the "ruined" lives of the Steubenville rapists and ignored the suffering of their victim is this: we think she asked for it and doesn't deserve our empathy. She should have known better than to get drunk and lose consciousness at a party full of boys who, being victims of their inherent need for sexual violence, can't be blamed for being male.
Within the last year tragedies of violence against women and girls have made headlines. Violence against women exists in places not only where the laws oppress us but also where they are supposed to protect us. It exists in the richest communities of the world and the poorest.
The fact that my first incidence of being sexualized was when I was four tells us something about our society. In my case, I've been lucky to be raised by staunch feminists, but even with my dad and mom's messages of "YOU DO YOU, GIRL," I was still smothered by the rape culture that dictates our social values.Rape culture pits us against each other. But the thing is, some of the most outspoken and disgusted people about the Steubenville trial have been men I look up to and men I am friends with. The women? Well, we're tough broads -- we have to be.
As I read the reports, it is hard not to remember what it was like when I was in high school. I grew up in a typical small prairie town with good, honest hard-working people. Yet I'm sure that if we're being honest with ourselves, most of us know that what happened in Steubenville could have easily happened where we lived, in any city or town.