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Why rape culture is your problem too

Monday 13th March 2017

Don't just leave it to teenage girls to protest outside Parliament today, writes a Wellington student.

Rape culture is a social conditioning that we experience together. If you don't understand the meaning, it’s easy to dismiss and deny. Rape culture is an environment where social attitudes have the effect of normalising or trivialising sexual assault and abuse.  

Rape culture is not just a problem for women - we are all accountable.

Both men and women perpetuate rape culture and the key problem is victim blaming. Victims are blamed for being raped because of what they wore, where they were and if they were drunk.

On top of this, in our society we are privy to sexual assault being trivialised to the point where women and men are dismissing the behavior as nothing more than “bravado”, to quote Wellington College headmaster Roger Moses.

When the media lights up at a particular incident like the one at Wellington College, we don't have to enter the conversation but we should. In moments like these we need to listen and let other people's words change our perspectives.

Trying to talk about this has been, and will be, met with denial and aggression. I have had to speak and write anonymously because of the amount of hate that all women experience when they attempt to address this issue.

If you are in any doubt about this here are some quotes posted recently by Wellington College boys subsequent to my interview on RNZ's Checkpoint: “I think she has some kind of autism”; “Only reason why she gets called out by guys is probably cause her tits finna be hanging out asf”; “She’s probably some dyed hair landwhale”.

Misogyny should never be accepted nor condoned. We should be calling on colleges around the country to establish real accountability mechanisms. With greater accountability and consequences we can slowly work together toward dismantling the rape culture that is plaguing our schools and our society.

A group of students from Wellington East Girls’ College are organising a protest at Parliament today at 4.30pm. This is in response to those events at Wellington Boys College and St Patrick's College that have highlighted, in secondary schools, the existence of rape culture and disrespectful attitudes towards women.

The girls organising the protest felt that these events were a tipping point that required action. The protest will call for the compulsory teaching of consent and the rights of women in all New Zealand secondary schools.

For these protests to make a difference fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and grandparents need to attend. Don’t just leave this to the teenage girls. We need to do better.

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