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  • Woke editors

What Was She Wearing?

By G.E.

**Disclaimer. This article deals with social issues of rape and sexual harassment. If at any time you feel confronted or upset by the issues, statistics and stories shared in this article, please contact:

(NSW) National sexual assault hotline - 1800 737 732,

(NSW) The Rape Crisis and Sexual Assault Hotline - 1800 424 017

(AUS) Mensline Australia on 1300 789 978

(AUS) Or 000 if you are in immediate danger **

Denim shorts. A purple tee-shirt and converse. She wasn’t out at night, she wasn’t acting provocatively. She had her mobile phone, her parents knew where she was. She was 16. Yet, she was assaulted.

Let me paint you a picture.

You’re standing against the wall, your hands pinned above your head. The tiles on your back are cold. Can you stop? You can’t really see, everything seems blurred. No. Stop. All you can do is feel. Hands, nails, pain. You can feel your stomach gurgling, bile rising in your throat. Stop. Please. You just want it to stop. Nausea. And you said no. So many times.

This story isn’t one that’s just made up for an article. These kinds of events happen, to real people, people you know. Yet when sexual assault is reported, why do we always blame the victim?

This ‘victim-blaming’ is such a huge part of our current situation and culture, that it needs to be properly addressed. When we are exposed to stories of sexual assault in the media, we hear things like

“... [victims need to] take responsibility for their safety. Make sure they have situational awareness, make sure that people know where you are. If you’ve got a mobile phone, carry it” Superintendent Dave Clayton of the Victorian Police.

“I suggest to people, particularly females, they shouldn’t be alone in parks, we just need to be a little more careful.”

Deputy Inspector Mick Hughes of the Victoria Police.

Why is it the victim’s fault? Shouldn’t we be teaching all people from a young age that this violence and assault it not okay? Yet, these behaviours are normalised in society. Deemed ‘rape culture’ by current feminist and social movements, situations in which sexual assault, rape, and general violence are ignored, trivialised, or made into jokes normalise the idea that sexual harassment is “just a part of everyday life.”

Rape culture is perpetuated through all levels of society. It’s in popular culture, such as Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke, with lyrics such as “I hate these blurred lines… I know you want it”. It’s in politics, where POTUS Donald Trump continues to run an entire nation (and a global economy) while facing several allegations of sexual misconduct of varying degrees of seriousness without any repercussions.

It’s the fact that, in a continuing survey by the ABC, 44% of Australian women say they do not feel safe walking in their neighbourhood at night. Rape culture is literally depicted in the survey by the National Community Attitudes Towards Violence Against Women Survey (NCAS), that found that “almost 1 in 7 young Australians believe a man would be justified in raping a woman if she initiated sex but changed her mind,” and “almost ¼ of young men think women find it flattering to be persistently pursued, even if they are not interested.”

Rape culture is the fact that only 3% of rapists ever serve a day in jail.

No excuses @

Rape culture can be seen in the fact that 1 in 3 women aged 18-24 have experienced sexual harassment. 1 in 4 young people think it’s normal for men to pressure women into sex. 1 in 5 women have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15. 1 in 6 women experienced abuse before the age of fifteen. Are these statistics alarming enough? I’m sure you can think of at least six women in your life.

Photo by Martino Pietropoli

But the issue of rape culture comes down to more than just statistics. Let’s talk about your mother, your sister, your best friend. Let’s talk about them. Let’s discuss the victims, the real people, whose confronting, terrifying and ultimately nauseating stories are diminished, trivialised and laughed at in society. Women are forced to change their daily lives to avoid situations in which they could be catcalled, harassed or subject to violence, but isn’t it more important to change the way we talk about gender violence in day to day life?

It’s time we change the conversation surrounding rape culture, and it’s normalisation in contemporary society. And it’s us, the youth of today, who have to make the first moves. Every time someone makes a rape joke, they’re perpetuating the culture. Stop supporting individuals with sexual assault allegations to their name. Call out sexual harassment at parties, in your schools, universities, in the workplace. Stand with the people who are brave enough to share their stories. Believe them, because their words hurt to say. When we change this conversation, we change the lives of women. We increase safety, reduce fear, and overall, we create a society where all people feel valued and important.

End the normalisation of rape culture, now.

(Statistics from White Ribbon Australia and the

** While this article does deal specifically with violence against women in order to tell a personal story accurate and true to the author’s perspective, Woke Editors would like to acknowledge that the kind of issues explored in this article do not just happen to women. Violence, sexual harassment and rape can happen to men, transgender individuals people and GNC individuals, and this is just as important to challenge in contemporary society.

If you feel confronted or upset surrounding the issues explored in this article, please contact

(NSW) National sexual assault hotline - 1800 737 732,

(NSW) The Rape Crisis and Sexual Assault Hotline - 1800 424 017

(AUS) Mensline Australia on 1300 789 978

(AUS) Or 000 if you are in immediate danger **

* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Woke magazine.


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