Why these five “solutions” can’t end rape culture

By: Anupreet Sandhu Bhamra

Last month, I wrote how Patriarchy and racism give birth to rape culture, not a drunk woman or her miniskirt. It generated quite a response, but for any blogger, academic researcher, activist, and feminist, who is trying to steer the dialogue on rape culture towards the correct framework of patriarchal order and racial discrimination, the real aim is not to create a buzz, sensationalize or draw attention to himself or herself. We do it because we want a change: a change in mindsets, and a change in approach, and all this starts with the change in framework. But it is baffling to see the dialogue outside of these platforms going off tangent, in random directions. This needs to stop, now:

  1. Self-defence classes: Really? So if a woman can learn to pin someone to the ground, she can stop the sexual assault and put an end to rape culture? I think it is a great bragging skill, but not the solution to prevent rape culture. How about when women are at their most vulnerable? Women who are passed out? Women drugged on a date? Little girls? And violence for violence?
  2. Anti-rape underwear: Seriously? Yes, a shock might deter someone who is trying to tear it off a woman. But will that end rape culture? Especially when there is a gang of men around the woman? Will the police magically appear and stop the assault just in time? And not to forget that every time a woman steps out, she has to wear it, with the grim reminder that she can be grabbed any second and sexually assaulted.
  3. She is someone’s (something): A woman is someone’s sister, daughter, partner, wife, mother, so it is wrong to rape her. Yes, she is, but first, she is a person, a human being, with a physical body and a soul. How about respecting that first, instead of focusing on her gender? She doesn’t need your sympathy; she needs equality.
  4. Safety tips for women: So you do think it is a woman’s problem? How about teaching the importance of a healthy sexual relationship and the significance of consent to BOTH boys and girls?
  5. Community problem: Uh please, stop hiding behind the veil of culture, race, nation and religion. None of that teaches rape. It beats me that I still have to defend this framework! Men of all cultures, races, nationalities and religion rape women. The culprit is power imbalance between a man and a woman and racial discrimination.

Now don’t focus the dialogue on my observations and me. The above approaches may act as tools to fight a sexual assault, not curb rape culture. What we are demanding is: shake the very foundation of patriarchal order, and reorganize it, where rape is not a woman’s problem. Period. Next step: end the rape culture.

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Categories: Gender Equality

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9 replies

  1. Anu, you forgot one: “dress appropriately”. This is essentially the argument that led to the international slut march. I’m sure you are familiar with it, but a recap might help for those wo are not. I don’t rmember the exact year (you can google it to get the details), but it was roughly three or four years ago that two Toronto police officers were invited to speak to law students at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. They were asked to come as there had been quite a few rapes on campus and in the vicinity and so it was kind of a security briefing. One of the cops suggested that if women wanted to avoid getting raped then they shouldn’t dress like sluts. 😮 Yup, that’s what he said to the mostly female audience. You can imagine their repsonse. On Friday this line of reasoning was raised in one the classes that I teach by one of my students. They were doing thier group presentation on rape and gender violence in India. The student and all of his group members were Indian, all young men, all international students. I had to put him in his place by telling him that clothing is irrelevant to a rapist, and focusing on the clothing clearly put the onus of repsonsibility on the woman, and thereby away from the man. Until people can get around their heads that rape is a problem perpetuated by men, no amount of “solutions” are going to fix trhe problem I was literally taken aback by his words. I mean for Chirst’s sake it’s week 12, and I felt like saying to them, “haven’t you learned anyting”?!

    • Thanks Jared. Yes, I am aware of this. There are many other “solutions” and it is great that engaged readers like you can add on to this dialogue. I just wrote these five, as I hear them again and again in the media and social circles these days. For the unfortunate “slut remark”, thank goodness for the movement around it. And another point about your student being Indian – again, my husband is Indian heritage – born and raised in India, just like me, but he doesn’t think and comment in the patriarchal framework – it has to do with male masculinity and the constructed superiority over the other gender. Keep the discussion going with your students, especially men. You are doing a great job, thank you!

  2. Other tangents I’ve seen, after the Delhi gag rape and murder, are:

    6. Have more daughters (seriously, some of these “don’t abort your female fetus!!!” arguments seem more concerned with increasing the vagina supply for the next generation of rapists than with the well-being of actual girls and women)

    7. Marry off daughters early instead of allowing them to grow up and have careers

    These two seem to be based on the idea that if only the rapists on the bus had wives they wouldn’t have raped a fellow passenger – in other words, if they had wives to rape then they wouldn’t rape, as if marital rape isn’t rape too!

    Also, these two aren’t blaming the primary victim who was murdered but blaming her *parents* – like, if only they made more baby girls and married them off to the rapists at 13 instead of letting them be single students at 23, those rapists wouldn’t have gang-raped their daughter on a bus.

    Yes, it’s infuriating!

    • I know! Thanks for adding to the list. That is my point – we are talking off tangent, not focusing on the REAL cause and prevention and solutions will happen once the framework of cause is corrected and accepted. But please, don’t be “sick and tired of this”, we need your energy – to bring a change. More strength to you.

      • Aw, you’re very welcome! 🙂 I wish I had more energy to chip in (there’s some stuff draining my own energy in my life too, it’s not only my rage at rape, slavery, etc.). 😦

        Also, I just saw something relating to “3. She is someone’s (something):” in the article at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/06/red-brigade-india-sex-abuse

        “…”I told him: ‘What are you doing? You are shameless, don’t you have a mother and sister in your house?’ But he replied that his mother is for his father, his sister is for her husband and that I was for him.”…”

        “She is someone’s (something)” also does nothing to discourage rape when the victim is the rapist himself’s (something), as in the Fritzl case.

  3. I am glad that this issue is being debated and it has to continue.Mindsets take longer to change.Insensitivity does more damage to any cause.Social sanctions and justifications not only dilute the guilt but give misplaced sense of achievement to the perpetrators.There has to be a comprehensive agitation/movement against any such inhuman act.I feel sad that the person who tried to save the gangrape victim has been obliterated by the media.They are wasting everyone’s time by discussing who will be the next PM.Red-herrings are created to divert the attention.I salute you Anu that you are taking up issues to logical conclusions.Keep it up.Our blessings and best wishes-Sanjiv Tewari

  4. I would again mention, we need to teach our boys at home to not look at women as an object!

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