A campaign is thriving on social media, in which people adopt the “I fight for the end of rape culture” filters as their profile pictures. On Tuesday, 24 May, it was made public that a brutal gang rape happened in Rio de Janeiro. To make matters worse, the video of the assault went viral. Faceless statistics are out there, in the open: on an average of every eleven minutes, one woman is raped in Brazil. However, it seems like only when there is a barbaric violation of human rights will the masses mobilize.
Of the people who are raped in the country, approximately 88.5%, are women. Therefore, the current movement is for gender equity, also known as feminism. On the surface, we are advocating for all genders to live without the fear of being sexually assaulted, regardless of the place, physical conditions, time and / or dress according to their preference. Members of this movement realize that sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. However, the connotation that the two words, “rape culture,” carry is deeper than that. When one positions herself/himself against rape culture, one is saying that today there still exists a collective custom which dictates that men may dispose of women however they please since women are, when convenient, objects. The worst forms of oppression, rape or death, are the origin of the name “rape culture.”
On the Monday following the Corpus Christi long weekend, when the case became viral, schools in Salvador hosted student-led protests in which they dressed in black and held posters. PASB’s could had been much louder, some girls dressed in black; but we voiced our general thoughts. Before, on Wednesday (01) 5 thousand people marched at the Brazilian spotlight for public manifests, Avenida Paulista.
When women feel pressured by their partner to “move to the next base,” that is rape culture. When girls subject themselves to a beauty evaluation in order to attend a party for “free”, that is rape culture. When women feel like they are displayed in a store window when they are only walking on the street, because they are being harassed by catcalls, that is rape culture. These situations all form the base of the pyramid that reduces a woman’s worth to her body. The logic in rape culture is “if she is more a body than a person, my feelings and desires come before hers. Therefore, rape is socially acceptable”. Humanity being in its third feminist wave (1st was of the suffragettes and 2nd for equal wages), one which praises intersectionality and cultural awareness, it is unacceptable that one, despite understanding and believing in feminism, continues to not confront people, especially one’s friends, therefore being a bystander to rape culture. As said by Albus Dumbledore, “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends”.
The older we become, the wiser we are expected to be. When talking to the younger boys and girls, do not use rigid gender standards as an argument. Likewise, teach boys not to rape, instead of attempting to “teach girls not to be raped”. We learn in school that using the active voice conveys a stronger message rather than passive. Apply it.
Image credit: Agência Brasil