The Essays

What Rape Culture Looks Like

Anyone who hasn't had the chance to read Coy Barefoot's disturbing timeline of L.J. Matthew's movements the night he is suspected of abducting Hannah Graham should take a moment to do so. It is chilling, but it is also important because it underlines how our sleepy acceptance of the behavior of predator men allows crimes like this to happen.  It is what every Friday night in a college town looks like, what every Friday night in any town looks like.  It is rape culture and it is our fault.  

Rape culture is nitpicking what Hannah was wearing and doing that night but shrugging off a lifetime of groping and grabbing freely at women who don't want it. 

It's statements from that article like this: "A friend of LJ’s for over nine years described him as a “prowler,” clarifying his use of the word by adding, "which is not to say he was looking for a victim, but looking for a girl who’s already compromised a little bit, maybe improve his chances.”" 

THIS IS WHAT RAPE CULTURE LOOKS LIKE. Men thinking a drunk woman "improves their chances" (it feels gross to even type that.) and their friends shrugging their shoulders and going along.  

It is women so accustomed to being objectified and touched by strangers in a bar and the men with them so used to seeing it/accepting it that instead of knocking the guy out, or telling him to check himself, they just move to another bar to get away from him. Women who know that, when it comes to this deeply offensive transgression, nobody would take their complaints seriously anyway.

Men knowing they can get away with putting their arm around a woman they don't know and people just filing that away under "well that's just one of his moves." 

Women being a prize to be won in a game called Friday night. 


And we accept this. As a society we accept all of this and we don't bat an eye when we could collectively say STOP. Just boys being boys, oh that guy's a creeper watch out for him he's really handsy haha, and nothing more until a woman turns up missing, probably dead. 

This is the next logical step when we allow women to be commodified, when we treat their bodies as public property to be commented on/judged, when we let that creeper in the bar get away with it all night long. He harassed at least two women that night, touching them, being continually inappropriate and nobody said a thing. They got away from him because they were older, had years of practice pushing away men who invade their space but the next one he found was not so lucky. She didn't have those years of practice to know she was in trouble. She was alone and she was definitely compromised. 

This is what rape culture looks like:  taking away from women the agency they need to protect themselves and then blaming them for their own victimization.  And we are all responsible for allowing it to happen and we should all be ashamed of ourselves.

Jenny PooreComment