A young woman’s story about the sexual pressures she faced has seen an outpouring of support from people across the world.
She shared her story – anonymously – on the tumblr blog I Believe You, It’s Not Your Fault. People use the blog to share their stories about being teens and young women, while the blog owners also answer queries from readers about their lives.
One recent post has struck a chord with a huge amount of people:
The post details how a woman went from being a girl who smashed the glasses of a troublemaker playing kiss chase to being sexually assaulted as an adult.
It details her treatment by some men, and what they said to her about her body.
It was almost 4 am. I was on a residential street when a cab pulled up next to me. I asked the driver if he could drive me to an intersection down the street from my apartment. I don’t have any money, I said. I really need your help, I said. I will do it for free, he said. Sit in the front, he said.I sat in the front. We drove in silence for some time, until he pulled over on the side of a dark street. I don’t want to do it for free anymore, he said.
She writes that “men have no idea what it takes to be a woman”.
To grin and bear it and persevere. The constant state of war, navigating the relentless obstacle course of testosterone and misogyny, where they think we are property to be owned and plowed. But we’re not. We are people, just like them.
Her words have struck a chord with other women, many of whom have taken to Twitter to share the link and talk about why they believe it is so important:
The blogpost comes at a time when the discussions around rape, consent, and sex are being played out in global headlines and on bookshelves.
Irish author Louise O’Neill, for example, has a new book – Asking For It – due out next month that is about the sexual experiences of a young teen in a small Munster town.
The book explores the experiences of teen girls, the pressures they face and the decision of whether to prosecute an alleged rapist. It also looks at the attitudes people have to rape and sexual assault, and the way the Irish legal system works.
In the US, meanwhile, author Kate Harding’s new book is also called Asking For It. This time, it’s not a novel, but an exploration of rape culture.
When asked what ‘rape culture’ is, Harding told Rolling Stone:
…the short answer is that it’s a culture where we blame victims, where we disbelieve victims, where we act like rape is both uncommon and trivial. It toggles between, ”There’s no way one in five women are actually raped,” and, “If that’s true, it’s no big deal.”
She explores consent and how it is portrayed in pop culture, where “consent is clearly not there at the beginning of a sexual encounter, but by the end you’re supposed to believe the woman has consented”.
“You need to be able to be fair and protect the rights of a person who is being accused without being abusive to the victim, and without presuming that any woman who reports a rape is lying about it, or has the motivation to lie,” said Harding.
Her book comes in the same year that US comedy stalwart Bill Cosby was accused by over 30 women of sexual assaulting or raping them. The women appeared on a ground-breaking cover of New York Magazine when they decided to share their stories publicly.
The allegations date back to the 1960s. Cosby has denied all of the accusations.
This week, another story about an alleged rape is in the news – a teenage high school senior, Owen Labrie, has been accused of raping a freshman at a prep school. The intimate details of his encounter with a then 15-year-old are being played out in court, bringing the St Paul’s School’s ‘senior salute’ to public attention.
This ‘senior salute’ rite involved seniors competing to take part in sexual activities with younger students.
With stories like this in the news, it’s no surprise that people’s own personal stories about their sexual past – and future – become popular and shared.
They offer an opportunity for young people, particularly but not exclusively women, to discuss their thoughts on consent and rape culture, but also to reach out and show that victims are not alone.
We want to hear from women and men on this topic – what are your thoughts? Tell us in the comments below.