This post has been really difficult to write, but I’m sick of reading these things and witnessing people being flippant and eye-rolling about it, and not being able to articulate why it makes me so upset and sick to my stomach. So here goes. (For what it’s worth, this is the version that doesn’t even touch on the classism of “dress like a chav” nights, or the racism that goes along with people deciding blackface is okay for fancy dress.)
In the UK, people have recently been paying a lot of attention to the events of freshers’ week at various universities across the country. If you’re not from the UK, here’s a quick run down - freshers’ week is the first week of university before classes start, supposedly a week of events with the aim of introducing you to new people and helping you get settled in. In reality, freshers’ week is a week of events that aim at getting you incredibly drunk. It is (or can be) a lot of fun, but there’s also a lot of pressure in there. If you don’t join in during freshers’ week, you miss the initial formation of friendship groups, you miss the first lot of in jokes, you miss the bonding and funny stories, and really? You are, the general feeling is, a bit boring. Freshers’ in itself isn’t something I have a problem with - I think getting drunk together is a good way of breaking the ice, and I’m always good with an excuse to go out on the cheap and make new friends. And after all, organisers will always say, not everything is focused on drinking. There are quiet movie nights, and… and honestly? I don’t know what else. I took part in freshers’ week all three years I was an undergrad, and I was never made aware of anything but the opportunities with alcohol. Like I said - there’s an incredible amount of pressure to join in and get out of control, and if you don’t, no matter how strong-minded and confident you are, there’s always going to be a sense of having missed out, having people label you boring or uptight. You know this. Other people know this. It’s why the pressure is so effective.
And if that was it, it would just be a sign of the UK’s ever-increasing issues with binge drinking and alcoholism. You have to drink; you have to keep up; you have to have fun, and this is how. But let’s look at some key examples of events during various freshers’ weeks:
rape culture means we are expected to figure out whether or not you’re just kidding about raping us
(Source: graceebooks, via dizzydizzydinosaurs)
"Not being assaulted is not a privilege to be earned through the judicious application of personal safety strategies. A woman should be able to walk down the street at 4 in the morning in nothing but her socks, blind drunk, without being assaulted, and I, for one, am not going to do anything to imply that she is in any way responsible for her own assault if she fails to Adequately Protect Herself. Men aren’t helpless dick-driven maniacs who can’t help raping a vulnerable woman. It disrespects EVERYONE."
Emily Nagoski. (via rapeisnotajoke)
This quote is awesome.
Men who want to flirt with women have to realize: Women live in a state of continual vigilance about sexual safety. It’s like having a mild case of hay fever that never goes away. It’s not debilitating. You’re not weak. You’re not afraid. You just suck it up and get on with your life. It’s nothing that’s going to stop you from making discoveries, or climbing mountains, or falling in love. Sometimes you can almost forget about it. It doesn’t mean it’s not there, subtly sucking your energy. You learn to avoid situations that make it worse and seek out conditions that make it better.
If a female stranger is wary around you, it is not because she suspects you are a rapist, or that all men are rapists. It’s because a general level of circumspection is what vigilance requires. Don’t take it personally.
If this frustrates you, try to remember that women are blamed for lapsed vigilance. If a woman does get raped, everyone rushes to see where she let her guard down. Was she drinking? Was she alone? Was she wearing a short skirt? Did she go to a strange man’s room for coffee at 4am?
A woman must be seen to be vigilant as well as be vigilant. If she is deemed insufficiently vigilant, she will be at least partly blamed for any sexual violence that befalls her. If she’s regarded as downright reckless, that “evidence” can be used to completely exonerate her rapist. If it comes down to a he said/she said dispute over whether sex was consensual, as so many rape cases do, the dispute becomes a referendum on whether the woman seems like the sort of reckless person who would have sex with a stranger.
If a woman does go back to a strange man’s hotel room at 4am, even if she only wants a coffee and conversation, she’s more or less given him the power to rape her. No jury is going to believe she went up there for anything but sex. So, don’t be surprised if a stranger reacts badly to that suggestion.
Attention, Space Cadets: Do Not Proposition Women in the Elevator
I wish I didn’t need to reblog stuff like this. I wish people *got it*. But judging from the ridiculous response to these posts, stuff like this clearly still needs to be repeated.
Omg. This. This is so true. I hate that this is even still the way it is in this country, but for some reason, it’s still okay for boys to be boys and women getting blamed for what happens to them.
Galactic President Superstar McAwesomeville: When you are a girl
and you’re drunk, you’re a target. When you’re you’re friendly, you’re flirting. When you smile, you’re encouraging a guy. When you dance, you’re sending out signals. When you wear a short skirt, the only reason is that you’re signalling your availability. When you let a guy buy…
This is quite untrue for quite a few guys. Just so you know, we’re not all assholes.
It’s not about whether it’s true for all guys or not though. I’m well aware that there are decent guys out there. The existence of some good guys doesn’t negate the fact that this is my experience, as a girl. It’s not an “all guys are like this” post. It’s a “this is how society works and makes me feel” post. I am actually not talking about guys here.
and you’re drunk, you’re a target. When you’re you’re friendly, you’re flirting. When you smile, you’re encouraging a guy. When you dance, you’re sending out signals. When you wear a short skirt, the only reason is that you’re signalling your availability. When you let a guy buy you a drink, you’re leading the guy on. When you let a guy buy you a couple of drinks, you’re made to feel like you owe him something. When you kiss a guy, you’re signing a contract. And then if you don’t want to sleep with them, guys look at you like, how dare you change your mind? Weren’t you so up for it before? You made me think you were up for it, what’s wrong with you? Why are you dressed like that if you’re not looking for sex? Why would you get that drunk if you didn’t want someone to take advantage? You’re kind of asking for it, you know, you’re in a club. Look at the way you were dancing.
But you know what? When you say no firmly without a smile or a giggle or a softening excuse, you’re a bitch, you’re frigid, you’re cold, you’re ugly anyway, you’re fat anyway, they didn’t really want you, you can fuck off, you uptight cunt.
So how do we win? If we’re nice, we’re leading a guy on, we’re asking for it; if we’re not nice, we risk outright aggression.
I’m a girl. It doesn’t mean I owe you anything.