The first thing you need to know is that I love my community. I don’t know what lottery I won to be surrounded those who make up most of my community. One of the things I appreciate the most is that we challenge the existing ideas and are not led easily to that which doesn’t meet our core values.
Yet, I am fearful about actually publishing this. It isn’t meant to be an indictment or an assignment of guilt. It is meant to provoke and challenge the status quot and hopefully, change some of these dynamics.
I think the first step is to define the term “rape culture.” Here is a superficial definition.: “Rape culture is a term that was coined by feminists in the United States in the 1970’s. It was designed to show the ways in which society blamed victims of sexual assault and normalized male sexual violence.” It’s a definition, but, to be honest, I would suggest my definition is that rape culture are the ways in which society blames and shames victims of sexual assault and normalizes non-consensual sexual violence.
Rape culture in my community is when a person’s pattern of sexual assault is revealed, the response from many is to defend the person who committed these assaults and question the character of the victims. For those of you actually in my community, you need only look at the Facebook page to understand rape culture. I understand there isn’t a lot of information and the questions asked are valid. The judgements are astounding. The jokes, disheartening.
Rape culture is what assisted in a member of my community developing and hiding a very easily revealed pattern of sexual assault that seemed to be common knowledge among many of those in my community with nothing being done to stop or prevent it. Rape culture was present in the jokes made about this person having a widely held reputation of doing exactly what he was accused of. I continue to have a really tough time trying to understand this.
Rape culture is what prevented these people from speaking up. Rape culture is why they remained anonymous. If it was safe for a person to come forward in our community, they would. For me, a safe space is an environment where people look out for each other and hold each other accountable. A safe space would not put a victim of sexual assault under intense scrutiny as though they should defend themselves. Though the statics vary, the false allegations of rape and sexual assault are between 2%-5%. For me, a safe space is only a room if someone is escaping an abusive situation.
I am not sure where to go from here. I think that the decisions made to extricate this person from their position of power were difficult decisions to make, but they are crucial. If we want people to trust our community over the state, we have to actually be able to resolve problems. In a voluntary society or self-governing society, we have a responsibility to hold ourselves and each other accountable and make sure that those who would hurt our community ar1e not part of it. We talk a lot of big ideas, now we need to learn to live them.