When I was in school if a girl cried "rape", she was forever labelled a slut. I remember upon entering grade 10 a girl was pressing charges against a boy for rape. He was a popular athlete in our school at the time. I remember how terribly she was slandered and slut shamed, by practically everyone. It seemed as though no one was on her side. It seemed even the police were making her out to be a slut. It was her fault she got raped.
So the rest of us kept our mouths shut. We did not want to be in her shoes and we did not know how to support her.
The following year, in grade 11, I was raped by a grade 12 football quarter back.
I wish I had felt like the law was there to protect me. But at that time, rape victims were often made to feel like criminals themselves. Forced to tell their story over and over again in front of a courtroom. They were the ones being judged and the rapist was the one being protected.
Have we changed that much since then? As we are coming to discover, victims still do not feel safe coming forward with "allegations" of sexual abuse. The fact that we all know the term "rape culture" is so utterly horrible and terrifying. Which is what it's meant to be.
Something needs to change.
I am not confident that changing the laws will really protect women. I think we need a movement that speaks out against unethical behaviour by the many industries that promote misogyny and violence against women.
The advertising, gaming, music, fashion, and porn industries all need to take accountability for their part in promoting rape culture, which glamorizes and condones the degradation of women. When so many companies can freely promote violence and misogyny in the name of profit, changing the law won’t change people’s behaviour.
Here’s one example of how this can be done: a Calvin Klein ad that promoted rape culture that was banned in Australia. YAY Australia!