Let me tell you about this time I crossed the road. I didn't have to cross the road, but I wanted to. I was warned against it, told it was dangerous, told I could get hit by a car. But I didn't heed the warnings. I wanted to live, unafraid. I wanted to trust in the goodness of the drivers, the goodness of humanity. I wanted to believe that just because I walked across the road didn't mean I would get hit by a car.
Except, suppose I did get hit by a car.
I wasn't doing anything wrong. I wasn't standing in the middle of the road. But even if I was, the car didn't have to hit me. But the driver did anyway. He chose to hurt me. He saw me there, and he didn't wait while I crossed. He didn't help me, or make sure I was safe. He hit me.
And then he told me it was my fault, because I crossed the road even though I knew it was dangerous. If I hadn't crossed the road, then he never would have hit me.
Sounds ridiculous, right?
Yet, this was essentially the argument put across this week by a renowned Christian blogger in response to Brock Turner and the Stanford rape case.
As I sat and read the gut-wrenching letter the victim wrote to her attacker, my heart cracked open in my chest. Grief flooded my body, puddles of tears gathered on the table in front of me for the way this woman suffered.
And then I read this tweet...
Drunken hook up culture is the problem, not "rape culture." Women can protect themselves by not participating in hook up culture.— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) June 9, 2016
And no longer was I filled with grief, but instead, rage. Rage that a white, privileged, Christian, male blogger would dare insinuate that this woman, or any woman, is responsible for being raped simply because she went to a party, drank too much and mingled amongst a drunken 'hook-up culture', to quote his words.
At what point did it ever become okay to place the responsibility of rape upon a woman? To point the finger at how much she chose to drink, the length of skirt she chose to wear, the party she chose to attend, the time of night she chose to walk home? To make her somehow feel it was her fault because of the choices she made?
Alcohol doesn't equal rape. A short skirt doesn't equal rape. Nor does a party, an empty street or a consensual hook up. What equals rape is lack of consent. And when a woman is unconscious behind a dumpster, nearly naked, being sexually assaulted by another person, there is no consent. In fact, when a woman is fully conscious and being raped, there is no consent. When a child is raped by a trusted family member, there is no consent. When a wife is raped by her abusive husband, there is no consent. Rape is not something that only happens in hook up cultures, when there is alcohol and loss of inhibition.
And this is exactly what enables a rape culture. Men who hold women accountable. Men who condemn women for their lack of modesty, who claim this is the reason they sin. Men such as Turner, who said he rationalised that "since we had been making out where each of us fell to the ground, that it would be a good idea to take things a step further." Yes, she fell to the ground. Unconscious. And then he took it a step further, without her consent, or even her awareness. And then claimed he was the victim.
To insinuate a rape victim is responsible for her victimisation because of a choice she made or didn't make is perhaps the most shameful thing ever written by a male.
Because here's the thing. I don't deny hook up culture is a problem. But rather than condemn women who choose to drink too much and hook up, I choose to look beyond the action and see the cause. To realise what we are seeing is the result of a broken generation, a generation of women desperate to be noticed, to be seen, to be loved. Because regardless of the façade of hook ups and casual sex and friends with benefits, nothing has changed. Girls are still just looking to be loved. Not raped.
The problem doesn't lie with hook up culture, it never has. The problem lies with the foundations of our society being built upon male privilege, boys not being taught to respect and value women, men being taught through porn industries and the like that women are nothing more than objects of no value to be used for their gratification.
And yes, even through biblical teaching that places men in the position of authority, which women must submit unto. Cue the blogger, who also said: "We can't end rape culture if we don't end hook up culture."
No, we can't end rape culture if men continue to rape.
But this is how we can end rape culture.
Teach our sons what it means to be real men. That real men respect women. Remind them they are here because they were carried by a woman, birthed by a woman, nurtured at the breast of a woman. They were rocked to sleep in the arms of a woman, cared for by the hands of a woman, taught of life by the wisdom of a woman.
Teach our sons to value women, cherish them, love them. To uphold them. Never to hurt them. To honour the strength of their manhood through the protection of women, not through dominance over them.
But mostly, teach our sons that real men don't rape a girl who has blacked out a party. They pick her up and carry her home to safety.
Because drunken hook up culture is not the problem. Women not protecting themselves is not the problem.
Men who believe they are entitled to rape is the problem.