An Open Letter to Rape Culture

Hey Rape Culture, how have you been? I’m sure you’ve been up to your usual business of silencing and blaming rape survivors while justifying egregious acts of violence. It has been a while since we’ve had a direct encounter, five years to be exact, but like any oppressive force in society, you’ve continued to linger. As an adult, I am reminded of the ways you’ve manifested in the past. A wild one back in high school shamelessly recording the sexual assault of whomever you could subdue.

I isolated myself to avoid your presence at parties and social affairs but you would show up in the hallways at school. Always screaming something lewd at femmes and girls trying to get to class. It is you, Rape Culture, that forces our friends and families to condition your victims to be appreciative of the unbridled harassment, after all, it means they are “desirable.” You thrive within inequitable power dynamics - always the charmer and always so smooth. Your mission to harass those who exist outside of traditional performances of masculinity was executed in the locker rooms. You’d always make it a point to harass the queer boys with unsolicited sexual advances, never could control yourself. You recruit accomplices by justifying your behavior with your familiar slogan: boys will be boys.

Your beneficiaries are Brock Turner, Bill Cosby, and the vast majority of other people who won't ever see an iota of jail time for their actions. Your victims are innumerable. I never could figure out why you couldn’t straighten up your act. Unlike us, the survivors, you have your family, friends, and faculty always protecting you, concealing you. In college, you stuck with the same old routine, no matter how many people wound up hurt. I could insert a series of expletives concerning how I feel about you and the people who defend you, but you don’t deserve that much from me. It’s amazing to be honest, you were always so bold as you barricaded yourself in the room with someone you were taking care of; but when that person was a bit more lucid and talkative, suddenly you weren’t so bold and I always found that fascinating.

Rape Culture, you’re really not as clever as you think. Sure you may have some friends in high places, Aaron Persky comes to mind, but that doesn’t stop people from knowing what you’re really about. Sure you’ve got your old boys, your amazing athleticism, and pretty face, but you’re still not immune from criticism. You hurt everyone Rape Culture, almost all of my friends have had the misfortune of meeting you. You kind of remind me of a lot of other men in my life, always giving me a nudge and joking about getting some action through any means possible. I’ve always fended off your influences, but aren’t a stranger, Rape Culture, you seem to prefer familiarity when you commit your violences.

You’re everywhere Rape Culture, in the tears of a friend telling me what you did, in the corrupted scents that trigger your victim’s trauma, to the floor of a former friend's apartment, moving me to your bed to do whatever you want to do while I try and get the taste of Whiskey out of my mouth. For me, you are there when I try to shake the feelings of feeling undesirable, when I try to move past the pain and isolation with which I have been tormented, you just won’t leave me and so many other people alone. Rape culture, you really need to learn to respect boundaries.

Rape Culture if you take anything away from this, I just want you to know that you’re not invincible. Your days of bragging about your ill gotten sexual conquests, hiding behind racialized and gendered discussions of what is and isn’t sexual assault, are numbered. I just want you to know, from me, and my fellow survivors, you haven’t truly broken anyone. I survived you, but no one should have to encounter your wrath. Rape Culture, you are not admirable, you are a cancer on society, and you only bring harm, I want you to embrace that fact.

Sincerely,

Joseph