Slipping on a pair of women’s shoes for a mile-long stroll through Victoria’s bustling downtown core may seem like an odd way to bring attention to such a serious message as sexualized violence, but the terrifying part is that the message is needed more now than ever.
When we hear the term ‘sexualized violence’ we tend to picture the nightmare stereotype of a rapist in a black mask. And while those monsters do exist, women are much more likely to be raped not only by people they know, but by people they trust.
Despite decades of talk shows, rallies and heart-wrenching feature stories in magazines such as the one you currently hold, what constitutes consent seems to have hit an all-time low.
The message is still crystal clear: “No means No,” but some members of this new generation believe they’ve stumbled upon a loophole that allows men to violate a woman’s body and human rights with abandon.
In the age of binge drinking and experimentation with dangerous, inhibition-loosening drugs such as GHB, Rohypnol and Ketamine, some men now believe that the inability to say ‘No’ is the same as giving consent.
There are even XXX websites set up to glorify this drugged-and-raped phenomenon with calls for subscribers to send in their amateur videos as if it’s some sort of harmless game. So not only can a young woman (or man) wake up from a party to find that several people have used her for sex against her will, but the victimization can be spread worldwide in a digital nightmare that will haunt and follow her forever.
The evolution of language can also be a barrier as young men find it easy to dismiss sex as “hooking up” rather than having any kind of emotional connection. And if there’s no emotion involved then what does it matter if he just takes what he wants when a woman is at her most vulnerable?
In Britain recently, a woman came forward to charge her husband with rape on their wedding night when, after a boozy reception, she told him she was too exhausted for sex. The husband, however, believed that since they were married he no longer needed her consent. While sadly in some cultures this may still hold true, it is definitely not the case in our Western Civilization.
Women have fought so hard to protect their rights and their bodies, but the fact remains that men are usually physically larger and stronger. That means it’s up to men to step up and raise voice to tell their brothers of all ages that every human being, regardless of sex, has the right to decline consent.
We are all individuals and our bodies are our own. Respect us when we decline to share and rejoice when we open our arms and invite you in.
I’ll be donning my kilt and red heels to march with my enlightened brothers and sisters on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Centennial Square. See you there. M