Thursday, 25 September 2014

The "Faked" Sexual Assault Video

NB: writing this made me feel really awkward and I was unsure whether to post it, but in this case the fact that I felt awkward was one of the main reasons I decided that I had to post it. 

This week Sam Pepper's "faked" video of him sexually assaulting women (and then men, in a very misguided way to redeem himself) by promoting pinching strangers bums has been unavoidable. I'm not even going to give the satisfaction of linking the video, but I will provide a link to an article detailing it here on The Independent's website. Although YouTubers and the public alike have taken an overwhelming stand against what is clearly inappopriate, what truly shocked me was the amount of people on YouTube comments and in general discussion who saw no problem with it at all. If you're one of those people, let me tell you a quick story (although this won't be detailed, better safe than sorry, consider this a trigger warning).

A few months ago I was sexually assaulted by a man I have known well for a number of years. Writing this down I feel stupid, he didn't rape me, he didn't even actually remove any of my clothes, but he did force himself on me in a sexual manner without my consent, and that is in itself sexual assault by its very definition. I had always assumed to have the support of my friends through anything should I need it, but all of the following statements and questions were given and asked before a single person asked me if I was okay:

1: why were you on your own with him?
2: why didn't you fight harder to get him off of you, if you didn't want it?
3: I used to be like that when I was younger, it's just a boy thing.
4: That's what boys expect if you invite them over to "watch a film".
5: you obviously aren't that upset if you're not going to the police about it.

To put this into context, we had been friends for five years, and I had been alone with him countless times before. Furthermore, we were actually in my house and my parents were in the next room, not that I ever would have told them what happened. I grew up with an older brother and there's no denying I can hold my own in a fight, but that doesn't change the fact I am a 120 pound, 5"4 girl and I was up against a man twice my weight and easily over 6 feet tall who had me pinned against the floor and had hit my back so hard that it later required X-Rays. I didn't go to the police because I was made to feel stupid for letting it happen. In fact, it was the same people who made me feel stupid for seeing myself as a victim who were quick to suggest my lack of police involvement was a sign of guilt. 

The other two points on that list that haven't been covered are the two most relevant to this post. After he left the man text me to apologise that things had "gotten out of hand" and nearly every boy I talked to suggested I shouldn't have invited him around to watch a film as boys are sexual by their very nature and I brought it on myself. It's a sad but true fact that this is what the world, through the media, films, actions and acceptance of those actions, has taught a majority of males, that boys will be boys, and sexual assault is acceptable under those very terms. Although a dog is punished for not understanding the word no, as girls we are expected to laugh it off when people around us struggle to do the same. I am not saying it is all men, by any means, sexual assault committed by women is an ever increasing issue, and the fact that this was exploited in an attempt for Sam Pepper to redeem himself is inexcusable. As an issue already struggling to find its footing as being a legitimate act in the public eye, the fact it's been used to disprove sexual assault against women is unspeakably disappointing.  

Videos like the one that Sam Pepper posted are the root of the problem with regards to us not taking sexual assault as the true crime that it is. If you laugh along with sexual assault, then you are condoning it as an action on at least some level, if you watch the video and don't find it appalling, you are condoning the action, and by condoning the action you are allowing it to carry on as though it isn't an issue at all. The very fact is, neither men nor women should ever have to feel as though that is acceptable, they should never have to grow up in a world where people may pinch your bum on the street and they most definitely shouldn't have to grow up in a world where this is laughed off and seen as a prank.

The very fact I have had to sit and write this is living proof that we need change. I don't want to have children that have to grow up fearing being alone with someone they call a best friend, I don't want my children to ever be made to feel uneasy in their own house and unable to call for their parents due to their shame, I don't want my children to condone sexual assault happening and I certainly don't want my children to see it as part of their every day lives, as it is slowly but surely becoming an every day part of mine.

What's your opinion on the Sam Pepper videos?

Sammy xo

If you have ever suffered sexual abuse or rape in any form, or God forbid do so in the future, Rape Crisis UK can be found online here or can be contacted on the freephone number 0808 802 9999

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