Thursday, January 09, 2014

Part 16: Rape Culture: Almost Every Woman Has a Story

In this continuing series, guest blogger Toria helps us consider rape culture and how to better “do justice” for women. Warning: Contains explicit images, language, and triggers.
I'd like to share a video by YouTube user GoAlybongo (strong language warning), detailing a close call with a group of men while she was walking home from a friend's house in Hong Kong. It's a familiar story, and it paints a good picture of rape culture as well. (It is important to note that while this story is about a white woman being followed by men of color, identical stories are being told around the world. White women and women of color from any place and culture can all be victimized, white men and men of color from any place and culture can all be perpetrators, and vice versa.)


If you ask any woman, there’s more than a decent chance that she has had a brush with sexual harassment, assault, or rape. 

I had a close call myself once. I had left the office late after a long day and was waiting in front of the building for my sister to pick me up so that we could go out. I was stressed out from the project I had been working on that had fallen apart, so I was trying (and failing) not to cry. 

A man walked by, heard me, and walked over. At first he seemed fine, if a little over-friendly, asking “what a pretty girl” like me was crying about and if I was okay. 

When I said that yes, I was fine, he asked if I wanted a hug. I don’t mind hugs and he seemed nice enough, so I said sure. After he hugged me, he asked if I wanted to go and get dinner with him. I said that no, I couldn’t because I was waiting for someone, but thanks anyway. He kept asking and asking, getting more and more persistent each time I said no, and even asked me if I always got off work after this time, and that he would see me tomorrow to ask me again. 

Finally he said that I “at least owe[d him] that much,” and it made me angry. I told him that I didn’t owe him anything for being “compassionate” and that I wasn’t interested. 

He changed his tack and asked me to go to his apartment with him, touching my face. I said no. “You have to, come on,” he said, to which I replied, “I don’t have to do anything. Please go away.” He finally seemed to get it, and he started to walk away. After only a few steps, though, he turned back to me and said, “Come over here and take your pants off.” I told him no. He repeated the order, and again I refused. “Come on, don’t you want to have some fun?” 

“I just want to go out with my sister. I don’t want to do anything with you.”
Luckily my sister chose that exact moment to call me and tell me that she was on the other side of the building waiting for me, so I walked to her car, keeping an eye on him for as long as I could in case he decided to follow me.

At the time, none of this scared me. It probably should have. There was no one else on that street with me except for this man who refused to hear the word “no,” and that should be one of the most terrifying situations for a woman to be in. This man saw that I was vulnerable, tried to play the hero, and then tried to make me believe that I owed him for acting like a decent human being, that I didn’t have an option to refuse.

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