What if there were no men for a day?
TW - rape
Sexual assault is as prevalent as ever in our society. It appears in popular song lyrics (remember Blurred Lines?), ‘jokes’ against male sexual assault and blaming rape victims for their assaults.
It also crops up on Tik Tok.
“What would you do if there were no men on earth for 24 hours?”
That was the question that a user recently posted, and it received thousands of replies. Many responses centered around women walking or exercising alone at night, without fear of harassment or assault. Others wanted to wear what they pleased without being slut-shamed. The comments underneath some screenshots posted on Facebook were pretty polarised. Whilst some defended the comments, other people were quick to derail the conversation.
Ranging from examples of straight-up misogyny to ignorance, some users questioned the need for such a fantasy. There were accusations that the posters were snowflakes, and stereotyping all men.
There may be some truth in that, but it's definitely not the full story. Yes, ‘not all men’ and yes, women can also carry out sexual assault. And men can of course be victims. Those facts are indisputable. That said, statistics show that the vast majority of perpetrators of sexual assault are male. And that’s why women are afraid to walk home alone at night.
Not only do we fear assault, we dread what comes after it - the mental and physical pain, the dilemma of what to tell family and friends, the fear that they’ll ask us what we were wearing or if we’re sure we said no. Agonising over going to the police or taking the case to court, only for the judge to dismiss us due to lack of evidence, or to question whether our drunkenness was to blame. Years of shame.
For the record, rape victims are never to blame. Ever, The blame lies solely with the rapist, whether or not their victim had previously consented to sleeping with them, or was unconscious or simply wasn’t in the mood.
So why are we so quick to blame the victim? Why excuse the inexcusable?
Instead of wondering what would happen if there were no men on earth for 24 hours, maybe we should ask ourselves what we could do to make our streets safer. What protection the legal system could and should offer rape victims. What we should say if a friend was sexually assaulted. What we should be teaching our children about consent. How to look after ourselves after an assault.
But, most importantly, we must ask ourselves why some men rape. Why some men feel so entitled to another person’s body that they force themselves upon them, regardless of the physical and psychological harm this will cause their victim. Why sexual assault survivors are made to feel more ashamed that their attacker. Why a President who openly joked about ‘grabbing women by the pussy’ remains in power.
When we ask ourselves those questions, we will finally understand why rape culture creates a culture of fear.