doing it right

Rape Culture Doesn’t Have to Be

I would like to share a story from my college days. Relevant to the recent discussions of rape culture. (This shouldn’t be particularly triggery).

I’m hanging out with a group of friends at West Dorm, across the street from mine. It’s an engineering school, and the ratio is something like 4/1 male to female. So, the group is primarily male. I’m the only female in the room at this point. I think I’m also the youngest person present (I’m a sophomore, they’re all seniors). There has been drinking. Not me, because I haven’t been feeling great and I don’t really drink much anyway.

A few dorms away, there’s a party. Loud music. Lots of cheap booze. Some of the folks leaving the party will have to pass by West on their way home for the night. A guy and girl start arguing outside. It gets loud. It sounds like neither one is fully sober. It starts to get alarming. And you know what the guys I’m hanging out with do? These 22 year old guys who have been drinking and are not sober themselves, who live in a dorm that is known for partying hard and being crass? They go outside and SHUT THE GUY DOWN.

No violence. They tell him his behavior isn’t cool. They ask the girl if she’s okay and if she’d like an escort back to her dorm. She says yes and two of them walk her home. That’s all it takes. Just telling the guy it’s not cool. Walking a girl six blocks to make sure she gets home safe.

Those guys, the ones I was hanging out with? They got it. They spoke up when other guys behaved inappropriately toward women. They ostracized guys they knew to be sexual predators and backed up their female friends. They made sure to escort female friends they considered at risk. Hell, they did it for a total stranger. Even when drunk themselves.

I never felt at risk or unsafe with those guys. It sucks that their intervention, their protection, was necessary. But it was awesome that they did it and it was so intrinsic to who they were. Which is why, even though I haven’t seen or talked to most of them in ages, I still love them.

We don’t have to be trapped by rape culture. Those calls to action, asking men to speak up when they see other men harassing women? Those are completely on the money. It works.



Here are some excellent commentaries:

A Gentleman’s Guide to Rape Culture

Why Men Don’t See the Harassment Women Experience