“MADALING BUNTISIN...ANG MGA NAKA-SHORT SHORTS” reads a sheet of paper taped on an old woman’s stroller. Facebook user and student Paulo Soller saw those words along with “RAPE,” “MAG-INGAT,” and “MURDER” when he was on a jeep in Katipunan on March 16, Wednesday. Paulo noticed that the sheet of paper was also wrapped in plastic so that the old woman could go wherever she wished with everyone clearly reading the sign in all circumstances. To his surprise, the woman lectured a UP student in shorts who sat across from her.
“Hindi ka dapat nakaupo sa pinakalikod ng jeep pag naka-shorts ka, iha.” The old woman began. “You’re making the other drivers think sinful thoughts. You’re distracting them from driving. It’s not about showing your wares. Mukhang may pinag-aralan ka pa naman.”
That is a classic way of thinking of people who believe (and were taught and grew up in a heavily patriarchal society) that women are temptresses when they show their flesh. And to these people, of course men would sexually assault women who dress “revealingly.” These people think “How could men resist? Men always want sex. And showing them your body means a green light.”
Many people in our country think that way. There is a generation of people who believe that women have to dress appropriately in order not to be sexually assaulted or raped. Generally they’re our elders. And little do they know that continuing to teach young women how to dress to protect themselves from men’s inclination to rape (if men even have it to begin with) is a way of perpetuating rape culture.
“Rape culture,” from feminist theory, is a setting where rape is prevalent and rinsed of its dirt or criminality due to societal perceptions on gender and sexuality. Like when people believe that men always want sex and can’t control themselves (“boys will be boys”). It’s a setting where rape is promoted, tolerated, or excused. Again, “boys will be boys” mentality. Here are a few more:
1. When people blame victims for rape because these victims were wearing (or not wearing) something, rape culture is promoted.
The truth is that what a person was wearing does not cause one to be a rape victim. One can be fully clothed and still get raped, and one can be scantily clad and have her rights respected. More importantly, rape doesn’t always have to do with excessive lust. Rape is a violent assertion of one’s power and control over another person. So you could look however you want and still be a victim.
2. When victims are blamed for rape because they were drunk or they passed out, rape culture is promoted.
A person who is too drunk to utter a word or a person who was too drunk that she passed out cannot possibly consent to sex—and consent is necessary for sex to not be considered rape. So whose fault and choice was it to enter uninvited?
3. When people tell victims that they “deserved” to be raped because they’re promiscuous, these people promote rape culture.
First point: No one deserves to be raped; all human beings deserve respect. Second point: Being promiscuous is subjective, so it’s not a good measure for anything. Third point: So long as there are rapists, anyone can be raped.
4. When people tell someone that she should feel complimented that someone wants to rape her, these people promote rape culture.
Rape is not a compliment—that’s why it’s a form of sexual offense; it’s offensive.
5. Doubting rape reports, if there is no reason to doubt them and the evidence, promotes rape culture.
We should all uphold the line “Innocent until proven guilty.” To be considered innocent until proven guilty is a human right. So when a person is charged with rape (and not yet guilty), it’s wise and right to think he is innocent until proven otherwise in court and to not jump in and cry “Rapist!” It’s important to note that the prosecutor can have ulterior motives. The key is to suspend all judgment when there is not enough evidence brought to the table yet.
6. Denying that rape is wrong promotes rape culture.
7. Letting rapists go unpunished perpetuates rape culture.
It’s a way of saying rape is okay when it truly isn’t. This puts the victim at risk of being sexually abused again, and puts other people at risk of rape too.
8. When someone expresses a statement that seeks to justify or condone rape and you do nothing about it, you promote rape culture.
It’s probably happened to you that you just fell silent when you heard someone blame a rape victim for the rape incident because you were too surprised. Or when your lola told your younger cousin or sister to cover up or else they’ll be disrespected and you didn’t say anything because you were controlling yourself from getting mad at your lola (which isn’t exactly a bad thing). If you can’t respond to an elderly, you can always talk to one who was sermoned. (Do not lash out on our parents and grandparents when they still give you their two cents. Stay polite; that way you open the floor for discussion and possibly convince them to think the way you do.)
It’s important to be keen on detecting what encourages or justifies rape. We need to nurture a society that doesn’t look at people of a certain sex merely as sexual objects. Everyone has dignity from the get go, and dressing a certain way shouldn’t affect it. We also need to nurture a society that apprehends rape because otherwise we put others in danger of being sexually assaulted and we let rape victims suffer. These victims don’t get the proper support they need after being violated, and they might carry that burden with them for the rest of their lives and affect their relationships, self-perception, and performance—and these are the survivors, those who didn’t take their lives out of shame or guilt.
Boys, as well as girls, ought to be taught to handle their desires respectfully or to simply control them. This is not to say that it’s wrong to teach the value of vigilance, of exercising great care to girls—these, on their own, aren’t wrong. But they are lacking. Boys can be raped too. And just because it’s a fact of life that shit happens and we can be victims, it doesn’t mean we must let that keep happening. That’s silly and irresponsible. Boys and girls ought to be taught to respect each other, to not rape. And guess what: It’s our generation’s turn to start doing that, to exemplify that.
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