I’m currently finishing up a memoir I’m writing. I’ve kept quiet about the subject matter for a long time, because it is controversial. It’s something women keep quiet about, despite 20% of us ladies in the UK having experienced it.
I discussed with my lecturer the prospect of publishing my memoir - which I hope to begin proceedings with next year – and it became apparent that I ought to begin to speak out about this stuff on social media platforms.
Women need other women to advocate for them. As a writer, I feel responsible to break the silence for other women.
So, let’s talk about rape culture. It is something I have a burning passion for; because I have been raped. Twice for definite. But coerced and manipulated into doing things I have not wanted to do, many, many times. Most women have. I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t felt like she had to sleep with a guy at some point in her life, when she really didn’t want to.
I don’t write about it publicly. Isn’t it strange that my hands are shaking as I write this, but when I was verbally attacked in a supermarket, I had no qualms about sharing that with you? I was once mugged, and I don’t break out in a sweat when I relay that story to anyone. I never start crying shameful tears when I tell someone that I was beaten up in school.
Rape is such a taboo subject still. But imagine if as many people were robbed at gunpoint in the UK as are raped. Would we keep that under wraps and deliberate about whether we should report it or not? Would we tell the victim it would be easier to just let it slide and move on? Would we partly blame the person who’d been held at gunpoint for their attack?
We have to start speaking out about this. We have to make it an okay thing to talk about, because then it will become something that is less okay to do.
Today I want to talk to you about coercion and manipulation. I write about it in my memoir, with two examples. It is so normal, out there, in the world of dating and drinking. It sounds old-fashioned, but men still wine and dine women, and expect sex at the end of the evening. There is still a hungover from the sexist nature of the past, that means women so often feel obliged to give something in return. Understand that I am talking about rape culture here, and not accusing these men of rape.
I have said no to men so many times, which has been followed by them asking and pleading. They go on and on until you just do it. Because it’s easier. Sometimes we do it because we fear what will happen if we don’t. There are just too many scenarios like this still happening. And the few times I’ve pulled these people up on it - early on, when I’ve seen the signs of coercion beginning or the signs that they want something in return – they accuse me of being full of myself or presumptuous. It really is a lose/lose situation for us. Either we’re a bitch who accepted too much, a cock tease, presumptuous, or we have uninspiring, unwanted sex. I hate causing a scene and will avoid confrontation at all costs. So yes, I should grow a thicker skin and ought to have learned to say no sooner. But equally, we should never have been put in these situations in the first place. Blaming me for not saying no is like putting a plaster on a gaping wound. We need to get to the root of the problem, and stop the wound from becoming a festering mess before we need a bandage for it.
I will be posting a little more about this kind of stuff on my blog. I understand it can be triggering and uncomfortable to read, so I won’t be offended if you don’t read. I will also pop a trigger warning at the top of each post containing this kind of subject matter.
But seriously, rape culture. Let’s talk about it.