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    What Is “Rape Culture”?

    What Is Rape Culture?

    I’ve been running through a way to describe the question above for all the months since I first had to look it up myself.

    “What is rape culture?”

    As a 39-year-old woman, I didn’t know, either.

    Through many Google searches, documentaries watched, and articles read, I finally felt I understood what the phrase “rape culture” meant.

    But how could I explain it to others, including my daughters and all of the people who would say, “Yeah, but…”?

    Liz Ruddy – a person whom I don’t know but am now thankful came across my social feed – posted this perfectly penned poem on Facebook.

    I urge you to read it in its entirety, in a moment when you can dedicate your focus for just 2 minutes, then share it with anyone and everyone who may have the same question: What is rape culture?

    [su_quote cite=”Liz Ruddy” url=”https://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.l.ruddy/posts/10154918642804689″]An Open Letter to the Guy at Work
    (you know who you are)

    It’s a Monday morning and we’re making small-talk,
    like,
    “How was your weekend?”
    “You see that fire out in Calabasas?”
    “It’s been so cloudy lately.”
    “So how about that rape letter?”

    Yeah, you saw I’d posted about it “like seven times.”
    Yeah, I tell you it makes me angry.
    Angrier than usual.
    (You know, because this is usual.)

    “Listen,” you say, and you pause,
    like, “I’m trying to figure out how to phrase this.”
    That’s when I pull out the thick skin,
    the kind women always keep tied around their waists
    like an extra flannel shirt,
    ready to throw on before meetings or rape trials,
    or walking down the street,
    or making small-talk at the office,
    like,
    I’ll try my best not to get offended by what you say,
    because I know how offensive it is
    to have my own opinion.

    “People are saying that it’s 100% his fault and 0% her fault…”
    You say, hesitantly,
    the way women are taught to speak,
    afraid of their own mouths.
    “And I agree…
    BUT—
    DON’T YOU ALSO AGREE
    THAT THIS WHOLE THING
    COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED
    IF SHE HAD JUST BEEN
    MORE
    RESPONSIBLE.”

    I stare at you in disbelief for a moment,
    sick to my stomach,
    like, stranger groping my ass in a crowded train
    kind of sick to my stomach,
    just as unable to respond,
    to discern bile from protest
    bubbling in my throat,
    wanting to explain,
    like, hey,
    JUST SO YOU KNOW,
    you don’t need to play devil’s advocate—
    he’s already got one,
    and he’s good enough to get him off
    with only six months.

    But I knew that any response of mine
    would be sharp
    like, car keys between knuckles sharp,
    and so instead
    I did the only
    responsible
    thing I could do in that situation.

    I walked away.
    But I should’ve remembered
    that my retreating back
    is a fucking invitation,
    because as I did so,
    you felt the need to add insult to injury,
    like, turning away wasn’t enough of an indication
    that this subject was too painful
    for me to deal with right now,
    like, I wasn’t allowed to walk away
    without your permission.
    So you got in one last word, like,
    “Seriously! Just think about it!”

    Think about it.

    Like I don’t.

    Like I have the fucking privilege
    of not thinking about it.

    Like I don’t think about it
    when I go for a run after work
    and instead of using a timer,
    my personal best is just
    running faster than anyone who’s following me.
    Like I don’t think about it
    when I leave the headphones at home
    on my way to pick up milk,
    because I need to hear if anyone’s coming up behind me
    and it’s already hard to make it out
    over the soundtrack of my someday interrogation
    like,
    Don’t you know you live in K-town?
    Why would you walk alone after dark?
    What did you think was going to happen?

    Like I don’t think about it
    when I pick an outfit from my closet
    and look at it like a piece of evidence,
    like,
    if I get raped when I’m wearing this tonight,
    how guilty would it make me?
    Like maybe they should mark it on the tag,
    60% cotton, 40% her fault.

    Like I don’t think about it
    when strangers offer to buy me a beer.
    Like this is fucking Wonderland
    and that bottle says
    “drink me”
    and my miniskirt says
    “rape me,”
    like we’re all just making bad choices,
    and the fact that I’m shrinking
    into nothing
    is just a nasty side-effect
    of this toxic culture
    to which we both fell victim.

    Like I don’t fucking think about it
    when my little sister sends me photos
    that she wants to put on Facebook,
    for my APPROVAL.
    To make sure they’re appropriate.
    To make sure they’re safe.
    To imagine them under a headline
    about how she got raped behind a dumpster,
    like, does this profile picture test well
    with the jury of Buzzfeed commenters?
    I wonder if they’ll use his mug shot or his yearbook photo.
    I wonder what his swimming times are.

    “Just think about it,” you tell me.
    Just think about it?

    Like I don’t think about it when boys like you
    say shit like,
    “But don’t you also agree
    that this whole thing
    could have been avoided
    if she had just been more
    responsible.”

    Like I don’t constantly think about
    how I live in a world
    where women are held responsible for the actions of men.
    Like I didn’t learn that in middle school
    when girls were sent home
    for wearing tank tops with straps
    thinner than two fingers.
    Like it wasn’t made clear
    every time they called us
    “daughters, sisters, mothers”
    that we only exist in relation to men,
    that we are merely extensions of them,
    so of course,
    naturally,
    we should be more responsible,
    so as not to let them rape us
    and ruin their own life
    with the same two fingers
    they once used to measure our straps.

    Like I don’t think about it.
    Like I can choose not to think about it.
    Like I wasn’t up all fucking night thinking about it.

    But it’s almost 5am,
    and I need to sleep before tomorrow,
    so I have the energy to smile at the men on the street,
    so they don’t have to ask me to.
    But first, I need to make sure
    that I’m being perfectly clear—
    like, “no means no” clear,
    like, “an intoxicated person cannot consent” clear,
    like, “an unconscious person cannot consent” clear,
    like, “sex without consent is not sex, it’s rape” clear,
    like, “guilty on three counts of sexual assault” clear.

    (I’m sorry, am I not being clear?)

    Here, let me keep it simple.

    NO.

    I do NOT fucking agree.

    Seriously.

    Think about it.[/su_quote]

    Hi. My name is Angie, and I’m a social-media-and-smut-book-reading addict. Hi… Angie… I’ve been working hard on the magical internet since 2006 when I retired from teaching elementary school to stay at home with my two baby girls. Now, I am a smut peddler. You can follow my nonsense on Twitter and Facebook. Simply, I’m just a girl, looking at the book world, asking it to love her.