I write this with a twitter full of mentions from rape apologists. They call girls liars and skanks, tell me that feminists are the problem. They tell me that rape culture doesn't exist and we need to stop whinging, we need to accept faith in the British Justice System and impartial juries and we need to move on, take each word as gospel and never question. What these men don't understand is I can't; as a woman who grew up in the very centre of a world that believes in and unknowingly, almost unwittingly, enforces rape culture - I can't keep quiet anymore. We need to talk about it.
We need to talk about it because I didn't use the word rape for a solid 2 months after somebody had sex with me after I'd said no multiple times, because girls who haven't ever been raped or sexually assaulted are seemingly few and far between and they view themselves as lucky, because we tell girls that everyone is innocent until proven guilty; until you're a rape victim, in which you need to be willing to stand there and prove your innocence. We need to talk about it because I am ashamed to have been a victim of it, because society and the media tell me it was my fault; it was what I was wearing, the situation that I put myself in, the way that I acted; I brought it upon myself.
We need to talk because girls everywhere are taught how to protect themselves, but we don't acknowledge that men are victims too - because we are taught how to prevent being raped instead of teaching people not to fucking rape. We need to talk because we are telling girls to pipe down, stop talking, look pretty and take whatever you're given - we are telling them their voices, stories and experiences aren't valid, we are teaching them that there's no point in talking about; better to keep schtum, move on, live in fear for the rest of your life because maybe that wasn't rape anyway, and if you say anything it's your word against his, and you could ruin his life.
We need to talk, because the media are telling girls every day that their consent or lack thereof is nowhere near as important as the reputation of a Stanford swimmer, or the career of a mediocre footballer; she is worth less as a victim than even her abuser. We need to talk, because when we rejoice a guilty verdict (that are few and far between) our names are noted down so post retrial months later, we can be proved wrong; "in your face" they tell us, "she's always been a liar and a skank." We need to talk because when we make the victim seem guilty from the beginning, it's hard to see the accused as anything but innocent.
We need to talk because we dissect victims sex lives; we tell them their fantasies, kinks and past means that they asked for this, that they have no place to complain whatsoever. We tell women that if they've enjoyed sex within a certain time period they cannot possibly be victims. We tell victims that their rape will always be their fault irregardless of anything; the situation, their clothes, the person.
We live in the centre of a rape culture, and we need to talk about it.