Never Save A Woman: The Cancer Of Gender Inequality
By Jessica Fithen
Content warning: This blog post contains graphic language and descriptions of the rape and sexual assault of women and girls.
We’ve been told that “rape culture” isn’t real. Especially in developed, first-world countries – we don’t have a problem with rape culture. Women are simply too sensitive, they have no sense of humor, they take everything too seriously.
How is rape culture related to You Look Like A Man? There is entitlement breeding here - ownership - a level of claim to women's bodies in every segment of their existence that we cannot ignore.
“Rape is not something that occurs by itself. Let’s ask ourselves how we, our society, we as people, create and sustain the mindset that leads to rape, how we make our men so violent, how we insult our women so regularly.” - Urvashi Butalia
“Never Save A Woman”
A TikTok creator posted a video that led with the line, “I saved her from being raped and she still left.” The creator’s supposed purpose was to garner sympathy from his followers that his girlfriend was almost raped – and he intervened – but she eventually still broke up with him afterwards. Did his girlfriend not get the message that she is now forever indebted to be with him because he helped her ward off sexual assault?
This video reached nearly 5,000 comments before it was removed by TikTok, a sampling of which is included here:
- “Go rape her then for karma”
- “Should of left her there”
- “Next time don’t save her and laugh at her”
- “Her fate has been decided, rape her”
- “Go back in time and don’t help”
Now, if I told you that 60% of TikTok users are between the ages of 16-24, does that make you feel better or worse about these comments? It’s easy to dismiss this type of disgusting, incomprehensible callousness towards sexual assault survivors as “just silly kids on the internet trying to be cool,” but 5,000 comments largely supporting the rape of a young woman because she broke up with her boyfriend cannot, and should not, be ignored.
Your kids are reading this. Absorbing it. Internalizing it. Laughing at it. Agreeing with it – albeit, silently. If you’re not afraid for our future generation and how flippantly they wish rape on women for the crime of breaking up with their boyfriends – you should be.
Rape “Jokes” That Go Unchecked
Consider the following two screenshots. The first, a message a total stranger sent a woman on Facebook, with the picture of a vehicle, fantasizing about the ways he would sexually assault her. Of course, he finished it off with smiley face emojis, you know, just so she didn’t think he was serious.
The second, an exchange a woman had on Twitter, that ended with a man describing how he would drug her and place a bag over her head in order to fuck her. Of course, when reported, he explained it was “a joke” – lighten up, sweetie, men degrade women for fun, haha!
The number of similar messages that are sent to me – daily – would make even the most stoic person pause. What culture have we bred that this is a “common” way to speak to women? I was only a few short weeks into running You Look Like A Man on Instagram before a lovely man told me, on a public page, “I hope you get raped – again.” Wishes of sexual assault and rape on women have become so commonplace, so ordinary, so unbelievably accepted, many women no longer even flinch when receiving these violent messages.
Women “Enjoy It”
Some men have gone so far to even assert that women enjoy being raped. In fact, they fantasize about it. So, that makes rape “not so bad,” in the end. What could possibly be more fucked up than assaulting women AND believing they enjoy it?
"Delhi Crime" & Jyoti Singh
Netflix recently released a series called “Delhi Crime” that covers the police investigation into the rape and subsequent murder of a woman named Jyoti Singh on a bus in New Delhi, India, in 2012.
*Content Warning Reminder*
This crime is still widely regarded as the most heinous assault against a woman in Indian history and sparked widespread protests about the treatment of women and girls. A woman and her male partner boarded a bus after seeing a movie in the city and were attacked by six men. The woman was gang raped repeatedly, bitten all over her body, and penetrated with an iron rod. Her intestines were perforated and pulled out of her vagina and anus. The two were then thrown out of the bus on the street, and the bus attempted to run them over. The male victim survived, but Jyoti died after two weeks from her injuries.
I remember reading this story years ago, but somehow had managed to block out the utter viciousness of it. I rarely cry at TV shows or movies, but this series and the subsequent reading I did regarding this crime brought me to tears every time I tried to write this post.
Particularly, the interviews that were done with the rapists before they were executed were telling of a culture and mindset that thinks of women as disposable trash, sub-human, not worthy of even a second thought. One of the attackers even blamed the woman for her attack, expressing confusion that this was even a subject of discussion.
“A decent girl won't roam around at nine o'clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy” convicted rapist Mukesh Singh said. “Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes. About 20% of girls are good." People “had a right to teach them a lesson” he suggested - and he said the woman should have put up with it.
“When being raped, she shouldn’t fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape. Then they’d have dropped her off after ‘doing her’, and only hit the boy,” he said.
The journalist writes, “It would be easier to process this heinous crime if the perpetrators were monsters, and just the rotten apples in the barrel, aberrant in nature. Perhaps then, those of us who believe that capital punishment serves a purpose, and I am not among them, could wring their hands in relief when they hang.
For me the truth couldn't be further from this - and perhaps their hanging will even mask the real problem, which is that these men are not the disease, they are the symptoms…
These offences against women and girls are a part of the story, but the full story starts with a girl not being as welcome as a boy, from birth. When sweets are distributed at the birth of a boy, not of a girl. When the boy child is nourished more than the girl, when a girl’s movements are restricted and her freedoms and choices are curtailed, when she is sent as a domestic slave to her husband's home… If a girl is accorded no value, if a girl is worth less than a boy, then it stands to reason there will be men who believe they can do what they like with them.”
Read the full article HERE
The Cancer of Gender Inequality
Gender inequality is a cancer that allows these toxic mindsets to breed, unchecked, infiltrating our every existence, both in our daily relationships with others and our social media presence online. Men who frequently travel to the pages of women to instruct them how to look, how to act, how to please them, what to do with their bodies, are one more piece of a puzzle that created a culture that allowed the rapists of “Delhi Crime” to commit such a heinous act with zero remorse.
On a personal note, I am turning 40 years old this year. As I look back on my experiences growing up and what led to the path I am currently on, I remarked to a friend that I can easily remember at least four times I was sexually assaulted before the age of 18. Once on my 13th birthday by a family member, once in high school – a boy grabbed and squeezed my crotch violently as I walked into a locker room (he received a one-day detention), once when I was asleep on a Greyhound bus, a man shoved his hand up my shirt, and another time in the Army that I am not ready to publicly discuss.
All of that, before the age of 18.
I could be anyone. I could be YOUR daughter. I could be your sister. I could be your friend.
But what I actually am is just another number, another untold statistic of the mass under-reporting of violence against women and girls that is lurking right underneath your nose.
There are many days that running You Look Like A Man is too much for me. I’ve started to take longer breaks, more days off without picking up my phone before intentionally exposing myself, yet again, to violence, hate, sexism, and misogyny.
What started “for fun” as a silly way to poke at some of the idiotic comments women receive on their sports social media pages has quickly become something much more. There is a level of underlying trauma here that is absolutely being ignored, being brushed aside, being made light of… as we work to make the world safer and fairer place for women and girls to live, we cannot do so without recognizing rape culture and every single nasty thing it has brought with it.
But if nothing else, the next time you see a “funny meme” on the internet regarding the rape of a woman and choose to say nothing, before you dismiss hundreds of comments on TikTok laughing at the attempted rape of a young woman, and before you attempt to tell me why none of this is related to the ownership and entitlement men display to women on their social media pages every single day….
Try to remember Jyoti Singh and envision the last moments of her life, terrified, afraid, bleeding from every part of her body, desperate for the chance to simply live, and ask what what we could have done to prevent this.