How can I challenge rape culture?
Rape culture is the ways society and institutions protect perpetrators and shame survivors, it's teaching people how not to be raped, rather than how not to rape, and it's trivialising sexual violence by turning it into a joke. It's also how we talk about sex and the ways the media portrays relationships.
Changing society can feel overwhelming and impossible, but even small, everyday actions can make a big difference. Here are 5 ways we can all challenge rape culture:
1. Recognise the problem
Sometimes rape culture can be so pervasive in our society that it's hard to spot. The first step is recognising it. It might be in films that treat women as sexual objects, society excusing behaviour of celebrities because they are a good actor or comedian, or a lack of justice for survivors.
Free, enthusiastic consent is mandatory, every time. This means making sure there is an active “yes” and not just listening for a "no". Adopt enthusiastic consent in your life and talk about it.
3. Listen to survivors
How often have you heard people say "he wouldn't do that", "they're making it up", or "where's the evidence"? By believing myths around false reporting, we not only deny that sexual violence is a problem but allow it to continue, with impunity for perpetrators. Take people seriously when they report sexual harassment, assault, or rape.
4. Challenge victim-blaming
The only person to blame for sexual violence is the perpetrator. It doesn't matter what the survivor wore, if they were drinking, or how they behaved. Challenge harmful attitudes and comments. Call people out, have conversations, or unfriend / unfollow people on social media.
5. Positive role models
Find people that inspire you and challenge harmful attitudes. This can be friends, family, celebrities, or influencers. Better yet, be a positive role model for others. Sign petitions, engage in activism, or even join StandUp!