Living in a rape 'crisis'
Rape in NZ: Join the debate
The word rape still has the capacity to make people close their ears and mentally switch off, or more commonly to shake their heads solemnly and despair at the nasty, raincoat-clad, bush-dwelling rapists of their imaginations.
What it doesn't solicit from most people is the image of their partners, brothers and sons. Sadly, this is a much more common manifestation of rape culture than the stranger danger we were warned about as children.
Even worse is the victim-blaming, slut-shaming attitude young women encounter when they dare to disclose or report rape, stemming from entrenched patriarchal culture that circulates messages about expected behaviour and the corresponding but unspoken implication that girls who don't adhere to these rules (girls, in fact, who dare to do what boys do) are to blame for their victimisation.
At this stage in my life, I talk to my friends and am surprised to find the occasional one who doesn't remember being sexually abused or assaulted, whether in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood.
In hearing so many of these stories, it's alarming how quickly it becomes accepted as normal.
Women deserve not to be raped, and men deserve not to have rape expected of them. The only way to change that is to give power to the voices that constantly fight against those misleading assumptions about rape, blame, and male violence against women - because it is these assumptions and fallacies that enable the perpetuation of New Zealand's current rape crisis.
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