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How responses to SFU Confessions highlight rape culture on campus

It exists in forms both overt and subtle, and it’s infuriating

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Image Credits: Phoebe Lim

It’s 2016.

I get it, you’re probably tired of hearing about “women’s issues” and more angry ranting about the plight of “angry feminists” — but if this is you, then you’re literally part of the problem, so you’re just tired of yourself.

This is another piece about rape culture, why we need to realize it exists, and why we can’t ignore it.

I was scrolling down my endlessly entertaining Facebook newsfeed when I came across this post on SFU Confessions. If you aren’t familiar with the page, it’s basically the cesspool of SFU students’ angst, hilarity, and heartwarming stories, all in one place. Sometimes, however, there are very serious confessions — and this was one of them.

The confession featured a girl who had asked one of SFU’s security guards for a safety whistle, only to find her issues trivialized by what she said was his sarcastic, mocking demeanour. Not only is this totally unacceptable (even on a purely professional and non-political level), but it’s just downright rude. Well, you would think so anyway, right?

Wrong.

From what I saw, most of the comments on the thread were unsympathetic to the confessor, mocking the anecdote and basically telling her to suck it up. This made me incredibly livid. For the students of a school that is supposed to be liberal and progressive, it was just sad to see.

To recap, some of the comments said things along the lines of rape culture is a fantasy, and that if we (women) were concerned about our safety we should just . . . learn martial arts?

What the —?

Another said that we should “carry around a knife” (isn’t that almost like revoking the gun laws that we Canadians pride ourselves on maintaining?) and that a “university campus is one of the safest places out there.” Double what?

Let me just break this down. This kind of thinking is exactly the reason why rape culture exists. It all leads back to the same place: trivializing the issues of the victim, and blaming them for what happened.

My boyfriend worked seven-plus years for his black belt in karate. Sure, if I had that kind of time and passion for this art then yeah, I would devote myself to it entirely and learn self-defence so that at least I wouldn’t be the one raped if such a potential situation arose. At least I’d be able to protect myself for just enough time that my rapist would go away and find someone who didn’t devote seven-plus years to karate. In that case, yeah, this logic would keep me safe.

But what about the other victim? What about the victim that doesn’t have all of these strengths?

The fact of the matter is — and you’ve heard this so many times I’m sure — we need to teach that rape is not OK. Even if we provide self-defence classes, self-defence weaponry, and literally every form of self-defence there is out there; rape is still not OK.

It happens everywhere. Not just in alleyways or clubs or stinky bars, but on campus, in your home, in your loved ones’ homes. Rape culture doesn’t only exist in the form of rape; it’s the condescending, mocking tone of a security guard who doesn’t do his job to make all individuals feel safe. It’s the words of the commenters who belittle her and her experiences.

Rape culture exists, and I’ve only barely scraped the surface on why. It exists, and it’s because of you.

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