Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Girl = Unsafe = rape culture?

Recently, my two friends and I were walking to the train station. Something then occurred -- as such, my first friend said (jokingly?) that they were escorting me. I replied half-jokingly along the lines of 'surely I can walk by myself in the middle the middle of the day?' [and just to make it clear, we were walking down one of the busiest streets of Melbourne at around noon]
At this point, my second friends replied that, no, I couldn't walk the streets alone, that it was too dangerous. I reaffirmed that I could walk the streets by myself, especially in broad daylight (and in my mind, in the presence of many possible witnesses.) This same friend replied negative. I couldn't, because I was a girl.

Inside, I fumed. I protested lightly, but the station was ahead of me so I waved them goodbye.

To this friend, it seemed as though the fact of being a girl constituted all reason. Maybe if we talked more, deeper reasoning would have been revealed. Maybe if my friend had told me it was dangerous for me because I was small, with a lack of substantial muscle mass, I would have been more satisfied. Of course, that didn’t happen so there is not much point speculating.

So how does being a girl (i.e., having the configuration of XX) make it dangerous to walk the streets alone?

Well, at night, it's dangerous for anyone to walk alone, female or otherwise. Because at night, apparently, drunkards and malicious-intent’ed people lurk the streets. You don't have to be female to have your face caved in by one or more of those people Of course, everyone knows that if you're female and walking the streets alone at night, you're much more likely to be raped by one (or more) of the afore mentioned characters. Maybe this was what my friend was thinking of?

Which brings me to my main point and question. Why and what is [with] this rape-culture that exists?
For one, I don't think the increasingly sexualised image of girls and women in mainstream media helping much. It is like as though these girls and women are just asking to get raped --which defeats the purpose and meaning of 'rape':

rape is a sexual assault, usually involving sexual intercourse, by one person against another person without that person's consent.
(my emphasis) And then again, some people actually believe that those 'raped' really did consent to it, and that it shouldn't be called rape after all.

The media may pay some 'lip-service' against rape, but obviously no one listens. It seems as though every year, at least one group of male footy players are accused of group-rape. At this point in time, please don't say "but men get raped too!" Yes, yes they do. And it is an issue that also needs to be dealt with. In this post however, I'm specifically writing about the in-safety of being a girl.

The Australian crime: Facts & figures 2009 estimates that only 20 per cent of sexual assaults (male and female) are actually reported to the police. So think, if 19,733 sexual assaults were recorded in 2008 (that's 92 people per 100,000 per year -- unacceptable, indeed!) how many people were assaulted without reporting it? That comes up to about 98 thousand assaults!
On the topic of the above file, 'only' 7 per cent of sexual assaults in 2008 occurred on the street or footpath, compared to the overwhelming percentage of 65 per cent occurring in a private dwelling. So that means that it's actually more dangerous for me to be at home? Or is it that these people are dragged off the streets into a private dwelling? Hmm.

Related to 'but men get raped too!':
2005, the ABS conducted the Personal Safety Survey that focused on men’s and women’s experiences of physical and sexual assault. Adults experiencing assault or sexual assault in previous 12 months and since age of 15 years (%):
Seventeen percent of women and five percent of men had reported experiencing a sexual assault since the age of 15 years.

So, according to this survey, women are 3.4 times more like to be sexually assaulted. But I must say, I am surprised that it's 'only' 3.4 times more.

Not only is it that the numbers of people assaulted but just as disturbing is that;
Reported sexual assaults have increased by 51 percent since 1995, at an average of four percent each year.
This is what leads me to wonder if there is some kind of ingrained, somewhat encouraged, culture of rape in society? That the media says it's okay? (Something to visit: The Age: How Fraser-kirk went from victim to villain) Are people becoming increasingly objectified? Is this the downfall of feminism? Of equality? Of human rights????!!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment