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Are You Tired That Issues Of Sexual Harassment And Rape Are Not Taken Seriously? Because #Metoo

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Joe Muchiri is a horrible man who thinks it okay to wish rape on a woman. A public personality, widely known in the entertainment industry, he saw no problem with posting on a WhatsApp group that a woman should be assaulted with a cactus because she wouldn’t vote for Nyashinski. This is not the first time he has disrespected a woman. He has redefined locker-room talk turning his social media pages to some primitive arena of misogyny.

I am all talked out about rape culture. I feel as if every single week I have the same conversation in the same spaces with the same people, over and over again.  The worst part isn’t even that no one seems to be listening to women, it is that apparently, this is the lot we get. That the anger and fear passed down from our mothers that we live with every day will be passed on to our daughters because we know no other way to ensure our safety. Rape is not a casual word.

 

Image via http://www.rebelcircus.com

Rape culture, a term encompassing the attitudes and beliefs perpetuated in society which normalize sexual violence, is neither a myth nor a frivolous exaggeration by women. It is real and it is everywhere. It is in the way we slut-shame (wearing short dresses is seducing men), victim blame (if you had just stayed at home like a good girl…), trivialize sexual assault (boys will be boys) or forward WhatsApp messages whose punchline is about assault. In all these ways where the sexuality of women is expected to be passive while that of men is encouraged to be dominant and aggressive, a narrative of fear emerges. As much as not all men rape, it becomes necessary for women to be cautious regardless because the burden is placed on us not to get raped instead of on the men not to rape.

During the week when the Harvey Weinstein story broke, our own Lupita Nyong’o adding to the allegations against him, Anita Nderu revealed that she had been violated in a public service vehicle and despite there being people around, no one intervened when she asked for help. Not too long after, Cyprian Nyakundi posted distasteful comments against radio personality Adelle Onyango trivializing her speaking out about her rape. All this in one week.

The message doesn’t seem to get across, that rape is more about the perpetrator’s need to assert power and control over his victim than anything else. To disregard a person autonomy and breach her bodily integrity has nothing to do with the victim’s person and everything to do with the rapist’s entitlement. There is a power dynamic at play that shames the victim as if she’s responsible for the lack of a conscience in her abuser. It is for this reason that we speak up against rape culture.

Rapists are not beasts with horns whom you can identify from miles off. They are among us; our brothers, cousins, friends, colleagues. A man like Joe Muchiri whose trash behaviour is on public record has friends. I am willing to bet my last coin that they are aware of his misogyny and yet let him get away with it. Harvey Weinstein’s colleagues in Hollywood circles revealed that they did know or had at least heard of rumours around his bullying and harassment. Yet it took the courage of victims for the story to be told.

The crux of this matter is that while women had no hand in creating this culture, while they are the biggest victims of its perpetuation, they are again expected to be the ones to singlehandedly break it down. Is it not simply absurd? That when we bring up our trauma, we are not believed. Countless #MeToo posted all over the internet only for our pain to be invalidated by men who choose that very moment not to empathize but to detract focus with statements such as, “Not all men rape”. This is true, of course, that there are men to whom the thought has never occurred. However, it is their silence that makes them complicit.

The labour of fixing this moral flaw in society has to be taken up by every single person. As some men on the internet have owned up to their complicity using the hashtag #IDidThat, erasing rape culture should start with naming and shaming. Instead of making ambiguous statements in the passive voice, we must give a name and face to the abusers. We must take the weight off survivors and demand accountability from men. This is not to erase the fact that men too are victims, it is a response to the statistics that point them out as the major perpetrators of sexual violence.

The numbers do not lie, there is a definite problem. And changing the conversation is the only way to fix it.

Read more on Rape Culture.

Featured image via from http://www.rebelcircus.com

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