When I made this post, over two weeks ago, I never thought it would go viral. I didn’t even know that it would be used on the Rape Crisis social media pages. Now, the post has been shared over 270,000 times, reached over 27 MILLION people, and has resulted in over 8,000 new likes to the RC Cape Town Trust Facebook page. The post gathered attention because of its relevance to the Brock Turner sentencing controversy. However, I didn’t make this graphic specifically in response to the Stanford University rape case. To be honest, I had not even heard about the case when I made it.
I made this graphic for the women who think their sexual assault was their fault, because believe they allowed their body to be violated. I made this graphic for my friend, who was blamed for her sexual assault and called a liar. I made this graphic for the survivors who are in denial about their rape, because society has given them a distorted idea of what rape is. Being drunk doesn’t make you less of a victim, and the perpetrator being drunk doesn’t make them less of a rapist.
The post has received a lot of positive feedback, and a lot of negative feedback. Words can’t describe how incredible it was to watch the debate unfold. I’m here to say that I stand by my post, and I stand by Emily Doe. I applaud her for speaking out for not only herself, but for every other survivor who is not able to. I thank her for bringing light to an issue that is all too common in our world. I thank her for being a part of the fight against rape culture and victim blaming. And, for those of you who think rape culture doesn’t exist, Take a look at the comments on my post (names and pictures have been removed to protect their identity):
This comment goes along with the myth that survivors make up their rape stories. The truth is, studies have shown that less than two percent of rape allegations are found to be false. Moreover that two percent is no higher than for the false reporting of other types of crimes. It should also be noted that rape is one of the most under reported crimes, so this number is likely significantly lower.
I’m not sure what “acting like a whore” means, but I do know that this is another form of victim blaming. No matter what happens (or doesn’t happen) leading up to a sexual encounter, you have the right to withdraw consent at any time. No means no, and not verbally saying “yes” still means no.
This comment might make sense, except for the fact that women, and men, get raped during the day, while sober, no matter what they are wearing. Rape can happen anywhere, and at any time. Making it impossible to “avoid rape.”
This commenter must not know that over 75 percent of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. Rape is often committed by ex-lovers, relatives, acquaintances, and friends. Yes, alcohol is commonly a factor, but sober people are also raped. This comment again puts the responsibility on the victim, not the rapist.
For the grand finale, we have one comment that sums up all of the victim blaming that was brought up by this post. The survivor being drunk, alone, at a frat party, and with little self-respect (I’m not sure how that can be determined) were all contributing factors to her sexual assault. The rapist, the only factor that should be blamed, was not even mentioned.
Rape culture and victim blaming are real. You can see it in each one of these comments and this is only a fraction of them. There are hundreds more. Rape culture results in lower reporting rates, trauma, and allows rapists to walk free. Only rapists can be blamed for rape. Don’t ask a victim how much they had to drink, or what they were wearing. Those facts are irrelevant.
Now, for the brave souls who attempted to explain how these comments are in fact perpetuating rape culture and victim blaming. I also removed the names and pictures of these commenters, to protect you from other trolls. Please, feel free to comment and take credit. On the statement Emily Doe made about the impact of the sentence on her:
Exactly, because rapists cause rape. Not alcohol.
My thoughts exactly. Men, women and children get raped every single day. While sober.
Thank you to this survivor for commenting and telling their story, and helping to bust the stereotype of what a victim of sexual assault looks like. Further proving that it’s not about revealing clothing, alcohol, or women “asking for it.” It’s about rapists.
An extra special thank you to this commenter. You responded the negative comments more than anyone else. You didn’t hesitate to tell exactly how they were perpetuating rape culture, and why their argument was incorrect. It was awesome.
Again, this is only small portion of the positive feedback I received on the post. I want to thank each and every one of you. With each comment, with each post share, and with each conversation you start with your friends and family, YOU are taking a step to #EndRapeCulture.
*It should be noted that I used the term “she” to refer to survivors and “he” to refer to perpetrators, because that is statistically more likely, but men can also be survivors and women perpetrators.*
By Olivia Mashak
Olivia is the Communications Intern for the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust. She is originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. She graduated from Grand Valley State University with a degree in Public Relations and Advertising and a minor in Hospitality. She has a passion for non-profit work and her Hairless Chinese Crested dog, Pandora.