How do you piss off a lot of women, plus the men who love them? Go to a SlutWalk and hold up a huge sign that proclaims, “There is no rape culture in the West.”
That’s what Rebel Media‘s Lauren Southern did on Tuesday, when SlutWalking feminists of all ages, shapes, sizes and genders donned their skimpiest outfits and gathered for a march in Vancouver, B.C. The SlutWalks are held in cities around the world to raise awareness and put an end to rape culture, victim-blaming and slut-shaming.
Why would Southern make such a preposterous claim? Alas, rape culture is so pervasive in our society (and many others), getting people to see it is like demanding that someone to see the air around us. Southern explains in her YouTube video, as the camera pans in on her photobombing speakers at the SlutWalk rally with her “There is no rape culture in the West” sign:
“Essentially I held up a sign that said ‘we are not living in a rape culture in the West,’ which we are not. It is intellectually dishonest to say that we are living in a rape culture, rapes do happen, but the minority, the vast minority of men and women are rapists. And when we do find out they’re rapists, they go to prison, they’re punished.”
Southern then insists that “the West” isn’t like those nasty third world countries “and other places” full of brown, red and yellow people where “men can get away with rape.” In fact, she thinks that saying we live in a rape culture “is, quite frankly, ridiculous.”
“Whereas in third world countries and other places, men can get away with rape there. And it’s insane to focus on this one issue and to say that we’re living in a rape culture. Rapists don’t get high fives, we don’t have the government funding rapists. Even men get fired from their jobs just for making rape jokes, not even raping.”
Apparently, Southern has never gone to a fraternity party, dealt with street harassment, walked into a parking garage at night with her keys poking out between the fingers of her clenched fist, or temped as a receptionist at a warehouse where some pranksters down the hall thought it was totally freaking hilarious to prank call and ask you to page John and say “Dick Hertz from Holden, Mass” is on the line. Either Southern has never experienced any of these things, or she lacks the awareness required to figure out there’s something seriously wrong with having to put up with this kind of crap,
SlutWalker Hands Southern Her @Ss On A Platter, And She Doesn’t Even Know It.
Once the SlutWalk takes off, Southern follows and accosts a young woman sporting a rather stylish bikini that turns out to be awesomely fashioned from the yellow “caution” tape found on construction sites and crime scenes.
“So,” Southern snarkily asks, “how do you believe your outfit is going to stop perpetuating rape culture?”
The woman staunchly replies that her outfit makes a point:
“It’s my body, my choice. I can wear what I want. This is exemplifying how it’s a crime scene […] regarding people as a crime scene? That’s f*cked up.”
Southern, of course, either misses the point or pretends not to get it. at the 1:40 mark of the video below, another marcher comes to back up her comrade, and snaps testily:
“Can you give me some stats to back up your pseudo-reporting here?”
Alas for Southern, her colleagues over at Rebel Media haven’t done a good job prepping her. Looking like a deer caught in the headlights, Southern stammers:
“Well, first of all, uh…out of the amount of rapes that happen out of 100,000 people, `1.7…ah…of Canadians…That’s just reporting rapes, so…”
Southern’s interlocutor– who happens to work in a rape crisis center — blazes with a withering contempt so scorching it’s amazing her sunglasses and Southern’s mic don’t melt. She then cooly spits out her spare and precisely-calibrated words like shards of ice:
“You know that less than 10 percent of rapes are actually reported.”
Southern challenges, “okay, where’s that from?” And the SlutWalker scathingly replies:
“The cops. It’s from all of the women’s organizations, you can look it up online, you can find it through the socialized organizations that study rape…I participate with an organization that works as a rape crisis center, we base that on the number of calls. The police know based on the unofficial reports, the third-party reporting and the direct reports. This is not a SECRET that about 10 percent of rapes are reported.”
Actually, our sharp-witted feminist is inaccurate, but only because the rape reporting rate is even worse than she thinks. In their native Canada, the rate of reporting for rape incidents is an abysmal six out of 100. In the U.S. 32 percent of rapes are reported to police, but only two percent of rapists ever serve any time, according to RAINN.
A befuddled Southern argues:
“How do you know if 10 percent of rapes are reported if the others aren’t?”
And here comes the response:
“People call the women’s centers, they ask for help, they seek medical attention.”
And, of course, Southern comes to this stunning conclusion: “So they ARE reported.”
She then abruptly cuts to another segment at exactly the 2:40 mark. It’s amazing that Southern even allowed this exactly 60 seconds of getting eviscerated to appear in her video. She either doesn’t realize how ridiculous she looks, or cynically counts on her right-wing meninist audience to neither notice nor care.
No, those rapes are not “reported,” at least not to police as the crimes they actually are. When women (and men) get raped, they seek help from medical professionals and rape crisis centers who will help them and keep it confidential. They don’t tell police, either because rape culture makes them feel too ashamed, or because they assume police and the justice system won’t help them.
Rape Culture Doesn’t Only Hurt Girls And Women.
The thing about denying that rape culture exists is that patriarchy and rape culture don’t just hurt girls and women. They also hurt those of the male persuasion.
- First of all, boys and men get raped, too, and possibly feel even more ashamed than women do when it happens. RAINN reports one in six women have been sexually assaulted (attempted or completed rape) at some point in their lives. But a surprising three percent — one in 33 — men have experienced sexual assault as well.
- Second — as pointed out by Ashley, a blogger for SaferCampus.Org — patriarchy and rape culture can also victimize and emotionally stunt men. Boys are more likely to physically bully or get bullied, are less likely to do well in school, and are more likely to do time in prison for violent crime. And we all know what happens to boys and men who don’t conform to gender expectations.
- Third — as Lauren Southern herself points out (though she doesn’t see rape culture as the cause) — those damaging, life-ruining false rape accusations and convictions we often hear about wouldn’t be possible without the slut-shaming and victim-blaming inherent to rape culture. When all other factors are equal (meaning racial and other forms of discrimination aren’t involved), how often do we see false accusations for common shame-neutral crimes like burglaries, car thefts, or trespassing.
It goes to show: What rape culture and extreme right-wing conservatism really boil down to is blaming victims of racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination for their own fates so they’ll shut the f*ck up and stop rocking the boat.
Lauren Southern Denies We Live In A Rape Culture.
Here’s the video with Lauren Southern trolling the SlutWalk while trying to prove we don’t live in a rape culture. Good luck.
And here’s where Southern makes a very valid and important point – while also missing the point. She gets it right when she points out that those falsely accused of rape and labeled with the dreaded brand “sex offender” are just as much tragic victims of our society as victims of real rape and sexual harassment are. But she gets it wrong when she fails to make the connection to rape culture. Because our society’s hyper awareness of sex crimes is a by product of the culture that is so used to omnipresent sexual assault and harassment, that the accused lose the benefit of the doubt. The standard of “innocent until proven guilty” goes out the window, and guilt is not only assumed, but the accused are then labeled with the Scarlet Letter of our time. And that label makes them pariahs, regardless of the details of their case.
Southern thinks this happens because there is no rape culture. But in truth, this happens because of rape culture.